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Selene’s Children

Prologue

All the best stories are hunting stories. The tribe sits around the fire and asks an accounting by its hunters. If it was a successful hunt, they listen while they eat, while the hunters tell of each detail, how the earth smelled, and the crows heckled, the clues they followed, the search, the hunt, the stalking; the obstacles that were overcome, the fierce battle, the kill and returning in triumph with food for the tribe. The elders add how the spirits contributed. The women gathered roots and pottage, and the whole tribe participated.

If they are empty handed, the embellishments of the hunt are background to explaining why their bellies are empty. The story provides meaning and analysis. If the hunt is unsuccessful for many days in a row, and there are few roots and pottage to be found, perhaps it is time to move on.

It is ever thus, for a tribe needs to gather more resources and food during its day than it uses up in the gathering, or it starves and dies.

All the best stories are hunting stories, and we listen to them for the echoes of a successful hunt.

 

Chapter 1: At Gagarin Base

There was no comfort in the wonder. The wonder was they were there, had been there for now almost 10 years, and still the view outside was stark, glorious, awesome. In Buzz Aldrin’s words:” That Magnificent desolation.” ¬†On The Moon. The wonder was that they were on the Moon. Living on it, staying on it, exploring it, trying to discover how mankind would ever make it a permanent part of Mankind’s compass. The three outposts: Gagarin Base, on the rim of Shackleton Crater: the Russian/American/European/Japanese (does Algeria count as European? For the matter, does Sudan?), by far the biggest and oldest; The Chinese outpost: Qian Base – newer, smaller, and touchily standoffish, but getting year-by-year more neighborly, and the newest, the private commercial outpost: Shepard Base, all smiles and helpfulness and brash. Courtesy calls had been formally exchanged between the International Outpost, and the Chinese Outpost, and Shepard Base, carefully following the letter of the 1967 Outer Space treaty, but curry and bootleg slivovits had been exchanged between the commercial Shepard folks and the internationals, and you could easily find a Russian or Italian in the Commercial compound on any day, or a sikh or a Panju in the International compound, and technical problems were worked in concert, as far as the intellectual property treaties would allow, and people were working on mutual waivers to smooth even those over.

But there was no comfort in the wonder. No comfort in the stale sweatsock smell that slunk through the whole International Outpost, or the stale curry and new plastics smell of Shepard Base. No comfort in the continual pinging, chunking, and swooshing of the noises made by the fans, pumps and engines that kept them alive, that kept the vacuum and harsh temperatures at bay.

The harsh, sharp edges of the light and dark outside mirrored the harsh, sharp edges of even the finest Moon dust, and the harsh, sharp edge between everything working right and keeping them all alive, and one thing going wrong and leaving 40 dead bodies on the airless Moon. There was no comfort there. There was the stark, dark, glorious Magnificent Desolation, and that would have to do. There was no comfort in the wonder, so the wonder would have to do.