Le chapitre 55
Valentina let exhale a long slow breath as she softly closed the boardroom door behind her. Behind the door raised voices still carried into the hallway as the directors of the Lunar Colony Fund continued to discuss, or more like argue, the virtues of increasing the infrastructure on the lunar base to increasing the number of people. She cringed at the memory of their harsh but accurate equating of another body to an increased demand upon the oxygen, water and energy consumption. Oddly, she had argued both sides. She knew that another person could easily fit into the social dynamics of the station. Perhaps there’d even be profit from another prospector with another point of view. As well, with the increased hydroponics, there was a greater, natural production of oxygen. This together with the nearly-closed water cycle maintained at the Hab as well as the slight but real extraction of ice from the regolith had put the colony into a slight water surplus. Very slight. As this continued month by month the colonists and the board members’ elation rose. But, their energy supply was questionable. They had tried many times to make a heat engine using the Sun and the perpetual shadow. This had led to nowhere as they couldn’t get a liquid to reliably flow in a conduit. They had been practising with exotics; streaming electrons or ions. But their only real supply of energy was from the photovoltaic cells that were sprouting all around the Hab, like flowers on the first warm day on the taiga. These collectors were helpful but weren’t reliable. And during the 15 ‘days’ of darkness they provided no energy whatsoever. There had been talk of sending up a nuclear reactor. The risks were low on the Moon as a radioactive leak from a nuclear reactor would not be nearly as harmful as a solar flare. But the residents of Earth would not allow a rocket to carry a reactor or even parts of a reactor. The best they’d agree to was a radioisotope thermoelectric generator. These energy sources were great as probes going to the outer solar system. But the amounts that the Terrans would allow on one supply vessel would not add much to the Hab’s energy balance. And the manifest for each resupply mission was always at or past breaking point. Such had continued the board’s discussion for several hours. And so had Valentina elected to excuse herself for a brief break.
She drew her phone from her side pocket and pressed on Max’s icon. As she moved the phone up beside her ear she heard the first ring and before it had finished a clear, warm, familiar voice played across the earpiece.
“Hello my darling dove” Max bellowed. He needed to as Valentina heard a cacophony of background noises. Either he was taking a part in a steel drum band or he was deep in the bowels of one of his processing companies.
“Hi” she replied while trying to keep her voice to a somewhat normal level. She couldn’t shout in this sterile office as she’d draw too much attention to herself. “We’re still debating on next year’s manifests. It seems like a discussion you’re very familiar with.”
“Geesh yeah I remember those meetings” answered Max in a voice a lot closer to normal. He must have found a quieter place with a door as the background noises had dropped to a muffled, steady drum-like beat. “Remember you’re the only one who’s actually been there. They may not show you any sign of respect but they will listen to you. And if they don’t then threaten them that I’ll be at their next meeting to put things back into place.”
Valentina smiled to herself on hearing this. With Max still being one of the largest single donors, his was a voice that all board members respected. He knew it and he regularly reminded everyone of it. “Just remember we all lose if the colonists have to retreat back to Earth so let’s keep an eye on the level of risk and keep pushing on.” he continued.
“Roger” she replied while trying to keep the smile out of her voice. They both knew that Valentina controlled Max the way that he controlled the board. So for all intents, she would get her way. She only needed to be sure of the best way and that was very difficult to discern when planning for years into the future. “Actually I was really just being selfish and spoiled as all I wanted to do is hear the sound of your voice again.” In some ways her return to Earth had brought her as much joy as sorrow. She knew that she would never go to the Moon again. She would probably never see her fellow colonists in the flesh again. And she would never be at the leading edge of civilization again. She had lost so much and whenever she reflected on it she could feel the strain pulling on her heart. But on Earth, she could renew her relationships with her many friends, including Max. Happily her friendship with Max had blossomed and they were even thinking of getting some of her eggs out of cold storage and starting a family. This hope, this joy to the future drove Valentina onward, stronger every day.
“Yah. Me too.” Max chimed in. “Never apologise to me. I always want to hear your voice. And it is so much sweeter knowing that we’re on the same world for a change.” Max emphasized with a true warmth wrapped around every word; every syllable