Le chapitre 53
Jean was squirming through the pipes, wires and stands that laced their way behind the membrane. The membrane was a sealing layer spread along the Haven’s interior living space. He was enjoying the moment as he was dressed solely in a light coverall with an integrated breathing device. No bulky space suit in here. With a firm grasp on the horizontal support rod he easily brought his body up the 1 metre step in the scaffolding. This reminded him of his love of the Moon’s light gravity where any physical exertion felt trivial, except for some of their tortuous exercises that Terran control kept demanding.
He began working his way up and over the membranes top level, following the air conduit’s pathway. He was glad that he had stipulated spaces in the membrane for just this activity when they had designed it. The area made his progress possible. Even if he did have to often squirm.
While clambering he got to wondering about their two new companions; Aditya and Zara. He hadn’t thought that two new people could make so much change in their group’s dynamics. But last night showed him to be very wrong and to wonderful effect! It all started at the supper table with Zara challenging them to a game of space-charades.
“Has anyone ever tried before to emulate a super nova or a shooting star?” Jean wondered quizzically.
Yet a smile danced again across his face as he replayed the image of Aditya portraying the Voyager 1 satellite drifting through interstellar space. That had been a challenging one. Eventually Xu guessed correctly.
After a few hours of this sport together with enjoying some fresh fruit brought up with their new colonists, they had all happily went to bed. Together. Like a snakeball in the cold of winter. At one time Jean had thought of an earlier girlfriend who had spurned him because he was too much of a prude. Not adventurous enough. He laughed at the thought and part of him would have loved to be able to show her a video with the moniker “Watch me now!” Yes indeed Jean knew that his life was one lucky break after another.
His hand found the sensor lead that connected the flow meter inside the air conduit to the Haven’s monitoring system. Like any industrial plant, the Haven was fully wired and continuously watched to ensure optimal operating conditions; especially air flow, humidity and temperature. Their nascent botanical garden growing inside it relied upon a steady Earth-like environment. So when any sensor showed an alarm, including BIT failure, he went in to determine the cause. On inspection he did see that the connection seemed flakey; as if the wires on the inside had broken or interfered. Apparently the failure rate for parts destined for the Moon wasn’t much better than that for parts on Earth even with the special space-rating ascribed to them.
He sighed. He’d have to get the Lunar Colony Fund council to have them badger the manufacturers on Earth again. There just seemed to be too many equipment failures that needed his attention. He felt as if his whole existence was responding to equipment alarms like a mother dealing with the cries of a newborn. And he was sole-parenting; he didn’t have a spouse to hand over the responsibilities so he could go on a sanity walk in the great outdoors. He wondered how long it would be before they could start manufacturing parts locally. Probably tens of years in the future. Until then he would have to continue running every time an alarm sounded.
He relayed an audio report back to the Hab and completed circumventing the Haven’s membrane. He worked his way through the membrane’s transfer passage and took off his breathing apparatus. As before, the smell was the first and strongest indicator to him. The Haven had an odour completely different from anything he’d sensed on Earth. There was a certain metallic sense, of dust, a bit like a desert at night-time just after a sandstorm. Dryish but humid. Certainly inhospitable and unpleasant but not alarming. He doubted that it would ever be a selling feature to future colonists. Yet neither would it keep them away.
He went over to the plants and just stood and stared for a time. A camera kept an eye on their growth and Aditya had made a time-lapse movie of their progress to date. It was quite an achievement. The first life forms on the Moon that were grown from seed to maturity were in the pots in front of him. And if all went well the colonists would dine upon their produce in a few short weeks. It might be no more than one bite per colonist but he was dearly looking forward to it as it represented another significant step toward self-sufficiency.
With a last whimsical intake of air from over the plant table he turned and made his way to the sealed vestibule to begin donning his space suit. With it on then he would pass by a few of the in-ground sensors to take some measurements before settling back into the Hab for his evening.