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Lunacy: Orientation

06/22/12

  06:58:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1045 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Orientation

When they reached the station, they were finally greeted by a friendly, human face. ?Good afternoon. I'm Dr. Maria Wesley.? Clod looked from her to Paul. ?Yep. Some of you may have put two and two together- and even if you didn't, I'm sure Speedy would tell you unprovoked within a few seconds, but I am the former Mrs. Paul Wesley. Awkward, right? No, actually. We divorced on good terms. And more than that you can ask him about, or buy me a drink and try to talk me out of- but we're otherwise moving along.?

?Welcome to the Lunar Station. It's a joint venture of ours with the European Space Agency and the Russians. It was the hope at the time that this would be the next step in a unified space program after the ISS. And as you all undoubtedly know, that plan's going about as well as the common European currency did in the 2010s.?

?On the bright side, we were stubborn enough to forge on ahead and pay for it out of pocket. Pardon any nationalistic sentiments; but the fact is upwards of 80% of the building and operating costs for this station were covered by the U.S.?

?Which you afforded in part by refusing to pay your U.N. dues,? Martin said.

?Touché. But I wasn't trying to start something. Just pointing out that this place is less international than advertised. However, with the Mars mission, we're finally seeing the kind of cooperation the Lunar Station was always supposed to encourage. Our budget for the next year is being split 60-40. In fact, in a day or two, we're expecting the arrival of our first Chinese astronaut.?

?Ang?? Paul asked.

?Yep. Your nearly crewmate will be doing a tour on the Station. But far more interesting than staffing is the research this station has allowed us to pursue. The hydroponic systems that your mission will depend on to grow your food were perfected right here. In fact, our hydroponics wing could support a workforce of over 400- and eventually may, if it ever becomes cost-effective to keep that many people up here.?

?Our current population is just over a dozen workers. Most of the busy work, janitorial, mining, and otherwise, is automated and done by robots, ranging in scale from the Buick-sized mining drones to the nearly-nano- but the very same kinds of robots that some people expected to be taking your places on the Mars mission.?

?Only the US was contemplating a robots-only first mission,? Martin said again.

?I'm as human as you are, and I wasn't looking to start a philosophical discussion. But robots were the original choice.?

?Which makes sense,? Paul said. ?Robots don't require oxygen, they can be 'fed' electricity from solar panels, so fewer supplies are necessary. They function fine in prolonged zero gravity. Basically, they require way less effort to remain functional.?

?Which is why the Station is kept up by a force that is composed twenty to one of robots- and that's not counting the teensy ones, mind you, that's all the drones that are roughly human-sized. We're not technically on the lunar surface; compartments designed for human use are all underground, to help shield against cosmic radiation.?

?But you're scheduled to be here for about a week. The Perseus is basically assembled, but the drones that put it together are going to check your pressurization in all of the compartments, do weld-tests, basically make sure you're not driving off the lot with a lemon. In the interim, you've got crew quarters set up in the barracks downstairs. I scheduled a maglev for you in the morning, to take you to the pole, to have a peak at our water-collection operation and the solar arrays at the Peaks- the Peaks of Eternal Light.?

?I've got my regular work to keep up with, so I won't be able to tour-guide you around, but Speed can multitask like nobody's business, so he'll be fully capable of answering whatever questions you might have, and can throw enough trivia at you to choke a Parker Brother.?

?Most of us have been up for twenty hours or more,? Rica said. ?Could you show us where our rooms are??

Maria sighed; it was a passive-aggressive little noise that only Paul caught, and only because he knew it well. She didn't like being a tour guide. But she also knew it was a small courtesy, so she said, ?Sure.?

The barracks were down a set of stairs.

Everything in the station was modular. Paul recognized a bay of chairs that was identical to the seats on the lunar elevator. Dorms were actually pods that connected to larger areas by way of universal joints.

As they passed, each door lit up with the name of a crewmember, first going through those working on the station itself, and then including the crew of the Perseus. Alisa, Rica and Clod all stopped at their doors and went inside. The doors scanned for biometrics, and when they recognized their owner standing outside, opened.

The men stopped outside their doors. Then Rica and Alisa's doors opened, and discreetly, Alisa pulled Rica into her room.

?That was fast,? Levy said. ?And then there was one,? he said, looking in the direction of Clod's room. 

?Why are you so concerned about it?? Paul asked. ?You have enough True Fidelity 3D porn that it'd take you four exceptionally long lifetimes to watch it all.?

?How do you know what's on my hard drives??

?Ken told me. Mostly because he wanted me to make sure you didn't get any repetitive stress disorders,? Paul said, and pantomimed jerking off.

?Well, at least you're the only one he told,? Levy said. ?And we've got doctor-patient confidentiality, right??

?If you're talking about your pornography,? Martin said from behind him, ?Ken told all of us about it. We had a briefing special for it. I think it was supposed to be for something else, but then you didn't show, so he made it about you and your porn.?

?Lovely.?

?No,? Martin said with a grin, ?what's lovely is you organized your pornography by type of sex act, and the lubricant used. You?re the Melvil Dewey of pornography.?

?I hate you,? Levy said, and went into his room.

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