Le chapitre 64
Xu closed the live stream with the Lunar Colony Fund’s board of directors and gave out a loud, heavy sigh. Isolation and solitude allowed for these brief vents of discord. Her mind slowly digested the news. Funding was holding its own. The supply vessels would continue. The five colonists could continue with developing humanity’s toehold upon another world. But there was no expectation of any largess. The Terrans continued their circumspection. Their preference led to short-term investments in banks and holding companies rather than supporting development in space. Even with its incredible opportunities and fantastic risks.
“So much for life on Earth” she spoke aloud to herself.
Xu switched her comms to internal dialogue mode and gave Zara a simple “Hello”.
“Well hello to you too my sweet governess” soothed Zara using her best back country twang.
She knew that Xu only initiated contact when her internal gyros went unstable so to speak. This suited Zara. She could expertly read the veins of rocks and she could read the moods and ambiances of her friends. And she had known that Xu would be at the board meeting while she was outside circling the base of Mont Lemaitre as she was now doing. She had expected this call.
Xu let out a soft laugh. The honorific of governess meant absolutely nothing to either of them other than to say that Zara was listening completely.
Xu continued “Well as everyone expected the board meeting was all bureaucratic machinations. Again!”
“Nothing more and nothing less than keeping their chairs warm I bet.” agreed Zara.
Xu continued “The Earth still has such incredible potential; a world full of resources, people more than ready and able to assist and the promise of boundless wealth. And what’s on people’s mind?”
Zara simply replied “Cricket?”
Xu laughed again. A little longer. A little harder. Mostly sports bored her. But that particular one seemed an insomniac’s dream come true. “Actually they may have been better employed selling cucumber sandwiches at a test match than holding the meeting. Every month the same thing. The same stories. Never enough of this. Barely enough of that. Have to learn to do without. ‘Without what?’ I once innocently asked. I thought everything we’ve got is already critical to our survival. It’s not like we’re living a life of luxury here. And the Black. The Black is always there” she ended.
They all had come to calling the vast emptiness of the Moon’s skies as the Black. When at first the sight of the stars captured their gaze and drew their eyes up now all of them just saw black. No clouds. No wind in the face. No rain. No sunrises. No sunsets. Just Black. The Sun was more a point source of harsh light. Other stars were just capricious temptresses. Teasing the watchers. Summoning them in laughter. Mirthful in knowing they couldn’t be attained. It was as if an ominous hand pressed upon the colonists’ shoulders dimming their optimism, shadowing their joy.
“Maybe the board’s gotten too indulgent in their roles. Let’s show them what it’s like. Which one would you like to swap places with?” asked Zara.
Xu was silent over the comms for a few moments. Names and faces flowed across her mind. Revenge, spite, education all good reasons to change places. But it was a trite thought. One that she had long ago forgone. Even before the training on Earth she had decided to go to the Moon to stay. She would not give up this life for anything. And sometimes, like now, she needed to be reminded of this.
“Thanks. That’s a good question” she answered to Zara. “But I’ll happily leave that to Valentina. She already has her place on the board and she’s doing more there than I ever could.” Xu’s spirit lifted. As it usually did after talking with Zara. The essence of simplicity and charm from their Australian colleague could even turn the radiowaves to sincerity.
Xu changed the topic, happy to return to their local exigencies. “What’s the base of the mount look like? Is there any chance of veins of high mineral concentrations?”
Xu knew just enough geology to ask the right questions. Usually.
Zara returned her focus to the rock masses thrusting in oddly twisted ways. This area was no result of volcanism as occurred on Earth. The Moon was lifeless in all intent. A large accumulation of debris. Dust, pebbles, rocks. Gathered from a belt circling the Earth. Punctuated with the occasional fierce strike of an asteroid. She was standing at the shock interface between an outgoing pressure wave caused by an impact and a robust wall woven through the Moon’s crust as created at some time during inception.
Zara’s perspective of time often got out of whack when she was inspecting the Moon’s surface. Billions of years, millions, eons, hours, seconds; they all meant so little.
“Well it’s still grey” she answered. “Hard to say if there’s anything of interest. Maybe the probe’s magnetic reading was caused by some nearby mascon. I’m going to take a few more samples and bring them back for analysis.”
“I’m looking forward to having something that we can actually serve to the Terrans on a plate” replied Xu. “Hopefully you’ll have a few shards that might be the first forkful. I look forward to seeing you back in the Hab.”
Xu completely closed the connection and let herself relax. She closed her eyes and reached out with her inner sense and felt the nearby presence of her four companions. She smiled. This connection was more real to her than any radiowaves.