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Chapter two of the sixty four chapters of my online novel

Chapter Two “Sex in the City” of Part One “The Moon” a science fiction novel in progress

by Summers Progress on Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 6:25am

The walk to the car was already something special. He felt both attraction and something more for Roberta. But he was aware that neither one of them was really eligible to fall in love and Joseph liked being in love in much the same way that some men liked horseracing, skiing or snorkeling. He looked at Roberta and was determined he would take whatever he could find between them but he also wished for things he had not found or felt in many years.

“You made it clear that this is your first trip to the Moon and I know you just came through the Autodoc scanners. I don’t mind telling you I think you are kind of cute. I think you like me too.”

“Indeed I do like you Roberta.”

“Well, Lunarian women are pretty honest about sex. I would say that if we have a nice time at dinner I consider it a possibility.”

“Then I would consider it a very nice one. How about a kiss here by the lake as a first step.”

“I could do that.”

“They suited deed to word and lingered a while. During that time the Jim Lovell fountain went off in the middle of the pond and shot water lit by lights 200 meters into the air. He felt a tiny spray before they stopped. The taste of the apple, the spray and the thick air and low gravitydrove the experience into his mind. They held hands as they walked towards her hovercar. They synchronized their loping very well. The hovercar was a 2261 Ford Lunarabbit. It had no trunk and was not very fast but it was very popular in the lunar colonies. They lifted up into the final fall of spray and were soon above it. A screen projected on the windshield showed them drawing into one of the air ramps and then into an airlane in which hovercars only were permitted. Then they sped up to about 85 kilometers an hour and headed for one of those big Hotels by a waterfall which he had seen on his way down the elevator.

“Tell me about your home pretty lady. What am I looking at it is all pretty new. I have seen some tv tours but this is very different.”

“American Crater Cap Colonies in our district include four older colonies than ours. The colonies in Ritter, Sabine and Cronkite Craters and all of them were after the first international colony. The Brits have a lot on the Sea of Tranquility but not as much as we do. Our Tauruntius Crater is about fifty six kilometers in diameter and is one of the ten  biggest. Only the really big colonies have those thin silver steel building as office towers you see. The Lunar law requires on for every square Lunar mile. So we have quite a few as well asour large standard columnar building that have the only large elevators and vertical conduits that make our whole colony  work.  We also have the large stone and earth post in the middle that is a natural feature and houses our armory and Lunapolis University.” She pointed at all these  features as she spoke and her voice and gestures were so pleasant Joseph had trouble folloeing her gestures.  She paused to let him spot all that and then turned to the object nearer at hand “The fountain and the waterfall s are pretty but they also help keep the air fresh and humid and clean. About half the fountain water gets back into the pond. Most of the rest falls as spray and keeps down dust and helps with watering. Mist from the four big falls does the same thing. We have five scheduled rains a month during the wet months and one surprise rain. For seven months it is all sprinklers and soaker pipes but they increase the flow on the falls and double the fountain shots. Some tourists like the wet season and some like the dry.”

“Weren’t three crater around here named after Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin back in the twentieth century?”

“They sure were. Luckily none of them are prime colonizing craters. They have all been left alone and are viewable from a tourist train and a viewing tower. I have done the Armstrong Day broadcast there twice. But we have colonies in the American Sector of USA colonies called Collinston, Armstrongville and BuzzEdwinia. Aldrinia is one the best devloped proprietary colonies I have seen and is in the USA Temperate Zone Protectorate a nice train ride north of here on a direct track”.

“You really know this place”.

“Well most Lunarian journalists have worked for Earth media more than a few times telling audiences the same things over and over again. I am no exception”.

“Well, you are still an exceptionally noce looking and well informed tour guide”.

“You don’t have to flatter that much. You already have my attention”. 

 “Well, late me ask you a bit less soft of a question that qhere and how then.  Don’t you ever mind living in a place where weather comes out of a can as they say?”

 “Well it is a very nice can.”

 ” So is yours.”

 “That is as close as you have gotten to naughty.”

 “I can get a bit naughtier.”

Roberta  lowed for a moment and banked as two taxis came closer to colliding in an airlane than any tow cars he had seen so far. she seemed to have been able torecover most of her speed as she came back into the line. He saw the cars computer telling her how it was adjusting on various screen read-outs. Her firm breasts and skin never baked  in an unfettered sun for long mixed with a skill and ease he kept finding more and more attractive. She rolled her eyes from the traffic and sort of looked him over again before speaking.  

“You seem to like Lunapolis pretty well so far. Not just me I mean.”

“I think it is a really amazing place. The crater cap colonies have always amazed me.”

“Yes, 200 years ago there was no air or  concentrations of surface water or life in this crater and there had never been any air, life and almost never any liquid water. We did hit one big ice deposit in early mining but the Equatorial colonies almost all import water. We buy it from temporate colonies with  ice mines, from the UN Polar Pumping Authority and form the Space Water Market. Our population keeps growing faster every year”.

Just about this moment an agressive hovercar cut past them and Roberta banked expertly. Two small jets mounted on the stubby four wings angled down a bit and the six propellors built into the land wheels spun faster. The aftwings extended another two feet each. Then moments later everything went back to its earlier setting. Joseph thought that like everything on the moon the Hovercars looked simpler than they were. This was a sophisticated aircraft.

“Seems like things are moving along pretty well. The town really seems to work. How many people live here.”

“In Lunapolis itself we have about a quarter of a million souls. Not a very big town on Earth but the second most populous on the Moon.”

“Wow, I look down below us and I see lakes, streams, fields, orchards, parks and greenhouses. I see two huge skyscrapers that I know are mostly offices, elevators, repair shops and railworker dorms. It’s hard to believe there half that many people living here.”

“I mentioned the skinny metal buildings. They are more than half offices but have samll shops and condominiums too.  We call the skyscrapers sky holders here. But otherwise you are right, we live in the rooms attached to all those holes, gates, balconies and cave gardens you see on the walls. Most colonies have a seventy percent agriculture and nature law, seventy percent of the floor has to be agriculture or our version of wilderness ecosystem. But in Lunapolis we have an eighty percent ordinance. In addition we have a huge mushroom farm in some of the oldest worked out sections of our mines down below. Most of what we export here is food, tourism and hard science. I saw on your etab schedule when we linked ups units that you had a bus ticket to the Mushroom Malls and were planning to stay at the Ben Bova Hotel. It is the best hotel in a mine on the Moon probably and we have some good boarding houses near the mushroom farms and a small water park. But the mines are pretty rough that is where people cram in”.

“What are the homes there like?”

“Usually a few rooms in each family home sharing a small patio cave with four other homes. The real cheap livings are in dorms. People spend all they have to ship in from Earth in sleeper tubes if they have heart trouble or any of another number of diseases that are esier to treat a s poor person in low gravity than as a rich person on Earth. People come because there is no extradtion and they come to work the mines. Some come believing they will be happy if they can just end their lives off planet — some seem to be right. They all start off living in the mines, well almost all”.  

“So where do the more prosperous live and how do they live here on the Moon”.” 

“Well the best of our homes are in the Waterfall Hotel Sections, the very few private home lots allowed on the floor or in the old neighborhoods of the crater rim parks. The majority of natives live in cave garden apartments in the walls –like me, my parent and all my siblings. But your cousin’s address is where newcomers often start. They live in the dorms in the mines. They are the folks most likely to survive catastrophic breach but otherwise it’s not a very nice area. But it is not like a slum on Earth. First of all your cousin is very likely to have  moved to a cheaper colony and a better house or else has gotten established in a better place here. Some people stay in the mines for generations but mostly they are upwardly mobile people in a land of opprtunity or else they are people with a deecnt lifestyle of low status and wealth. We have no slums  on the American Moon reallly.We have few on the Moon at all.”

“You said the second biggest population. What is the biggest”?

It is the capital of the Chinese Colonial Sector on Mare Frigoris. The colony is called Xiao Beijing and it is built in the Endymion crater which is kind of shallow and insecure looking but is very wide at about 125 kilometers. They have three quarters of a million colonists there and very long, wide and developed mines that now house underground roads and trains connecting Xiao Beijing to the other Chinese crater cap colonies”.

“On the train from the Grand Central Spaceport to the Green Pyramid and Port Clearance here in Lunapolis I saw a few robots, telescope and lots of trains but almost nothing else disrupting the airless natural moonscape. Then you come through the cap and there is the whole world. It is really very dramatic.”

“The Grand Central Spaceport is the biggest development on the Moon outside of the Crater Cap Colonies. Excuse me a second this is a quick ramp to our last lane. I have to pay attention.”

Saying this Roberta accelerated the hovercar. She also pressed a glow button and Joseph felt himself slammed back into his seat. Roberta grinned at his surprise . ” We are allowed one untaxed  boost per day and I think that this will be mine.”

Although he was not sure how traffic systems worked here he could tell Roberta was moving from the main lanes to a sort of feeder route straight towards a wall. The color of several screens in the car changed from green to gold. In seconds he could clearly see the sign that read Hotel Valley View over the entryway. He could see the swimming pools and waterpark as well as the people flyfishing in the pond above the falls. Then in seconds they had landed. Once he had time to notice he saw that they had landed on a broad rubber and metal mesh conveyor belt. Two uniformed valets stepped on the belt and helped them out of the car. He pulled his small e-tablet from his pocket and showed them his contest committee information as they were walked on to a smaller adjoining belt moving a bit slower which deposited them on a still slower moving turntable. He saw that the valets had on watches that were downloading from the e-tablet. The watches had all sorts of barely visible instruments but they were hidden by large antique looking analog watch faces under a diamond sheet cover. The hands seemed to be the real mechanical kind.

Both valets were smiling as they finaly reached the stable pavement. “Well, congratulations on your win sir. You do not have any luggage with you?”

“I just got to Lunapolis. I do have a case at Port Clearance though.”

‘May we send for it?’

“Well fellows I am trying to impress the lady on my arm so I hate to ask but how much will that set me back?”

“It is certainly included in your prize winnings Mr. Cul-Ka-tha-dreil.”

“You even pronounced my name correctly. So please do send for my luggage.”

“I believe you texted in a request for an early reservation for dinner, is that right?”

“I did indeed.”

“Then we will have you escorted to your table and when you finish dinner the case will be awaiting you in your suite.”

“Sounds great. Are you ready to eat, my new Miss Dupuis whom I am calling  Roberta, or is it too early.”

“Not too early. It sounds fine to me.”

The valet affected a formal bow somewhat disguised as a gesture indicating a slight brunette holding menus and standing inside the entry to the grand lobby. “Please follow Meeza there. She will lead you to your table.”

The dinner was served after they had checked their outside vests in the coatroom and been issued temporary outer clothes. Roberta got a shawl and he a jacket. The dinner was rather grand for each of them far finer than the pilot;s bar on the station. But Joseph had known finer dinners. Roberta had not, it was the grandest meal that she had ever had in the finest surroundings.

“Well this is really nice.” Roberta was blushing a little.

“Can you imagine how lonely it would be for me without you here. I am very grateful for the company. I kind of hope you are not married, engaged or part of the prize and that you are thinking of spending some time with me for the next two weeks”.

“I am none of those things. I am willing to consider making a long-term commitment of two weeks as a possibility.” She laughed.

“My life is complicated Roberta. But I won’t ever forget you. I am not trying to be flattering — I could never forget this magical moment. I am not much of a forgetting person anyway.”

“Do you like the band?”

“Yes, Roberta. Would you like to dance?”

” I think that I might.”

They danced a great deal between courses and drinks. Later they ordered another round of drinks into his room. Then their dancing resumed in a more primal and intimate form. Yet it was not ancient or primal either for no ancient man and woman around the gatherings at Lascaux’s caves had mated in such a bed in one sixth gee and in such dense air. They had a wonderful evening. But when Joseph lay back with her on his shoulder he thought of a Culkathadreil family shrine far away, of dreams of family and children and of the days he and his exwife had shared so long ago. A single tear ran down his cheek in the dark and he thought of what two weeks might be like with this beautiful and amazing woman who lay nude and warm against him.

When he did fall asleep he dreamed. In his dream he was on the great ship which he had seen in the videos and the animations on the e-tablet. There was nobody else on the ship. He was wearing his old uniform from the Jupiter Orbiter Station run he had made on the planetary ship The Endeavor. Smoke and mist was pouring up into the corridor where he was walking from the vents in the baseboards. Then he saw his exwife standing at the end of the corridor. She was wearing his junior college rugby jersey and nothing else underneath or along with it. She seemed to be able to see him but not to be looking at him very closely.

Then she waved to him not too kindly or coldly. and began to move on down the corridor. He tried to follow her. The floor was growing hot. He called out, no he could not because the smoke was choking him. He rushed forward and his feet burned.

Then he woke. He was sweating a bit.

Roberta was awake and looking at him. “Are you OK? You were calling out. You kept saying “fire”.

“Did I really.”

“Yes, you did.”

“I am sorry Roberta. I lost my last job after a fire, I got a severance package and decided to try a new start on the Moon. Maybe it affects my dreams.”

“You said you hadn’t flown in a while.”

“I worked catapult security and it was an act of arson.”

“Sounds like it could give you nightmares.”

“Please forgive me and try to go back to sleep. We can talk about it in the morning.”

“I don’t know if we have to go straight to sleep.”

“If that’s how you feel then I completely agree.”

There was a tenderness in their lovemaking that had not been there the first time before the dream. After they made love Roberta put her head on his chest again and talked about her family. She was the oldest of three children and her father had been a musician while her mother had been a Lunar Radio Corporation Executive. She had a brother and a sister who were both married. She had been engaged to a UN Blue Wings Space Fighter Pilot who had started off as a US Air Force Pilot. But he had been killed by the pirates he had caught trying to bring a freighter of smuggled uranium to their buyers running a cap contract in a work site in a far side crater. His name had been Geronimo and she had really loved him.

After they talked a while they had sex with a bit more rawness and passion. This time they both fell asleep exhausted and they did not dream or talk again until the time for free in room gourmet coffee gourmet personal breakfast and a paper had passed. They woke and they were a little awkward as each gave the other all the contact information which they could find or think of and linked their e-tabs for more still. They ordered a brunch in the room and rejoiced that they had met on the day before the weekend in Lunapolis which meant it was Saturday morning. It turned out that lunch for two was part of the prize on weekends but not weekdays. Then they made love one more time and then went to the whrirlpool tub and had mugs of coffee from the coffee machine in the suite. Just about the time they finished the doorbell rang and they put on their robes and let the staff set up their brunch.

“I hope you can join me for supper tomorrow he said as they finished eating.”

“You’re a good listener. That is the next hole in my work schedule. I wouild be happy to help you spend your prize money on food tomorrow.”

“Fantastic.”

Joseph watched her dress then he walked her toward the door and kissed her goodbye. The closing of the door made him feel sad. but he pushed the thought of goodbye away.

 *****     ****    ****  ****   *******   ****

Grorgios Onassis-Papandreiou was in Crater Sinas E which was still waiting for the final paperwork on its colonial name and which was on the iregular southwestern border of the Lunapolis Sector of the Mare Tranquilitatis. It had been capped only two years earlier but it was being developed by investors with deep pockets and was tiny compared to Tauruntius Crater so it was moving fast. This was to be a joint project of the Greek and USA governments and was the central training camp and headquarters off-Earth for the Olympic Committee of each country.  He was a very well respected architect, naval architect, aviation architect and space transport engineer. He had been heired to build the Low Gravity Training Center. He was taking advantage of the opportunity to use the skill of the experts he was working with to get into shape and was finding some of his health problems were disappearing. He was eighty-seven and had been through some tough things in life. However, his health had improved so much in the low gravity routine in the last six months that he decided to take a much smaller fee to design and oversee the building of a hotel on Mars than he would normally take if they would pay for him to have a full autodoc therapy tube on the six month sleeper. He would seal in here on the Moon and take tender ship to connect with his ship while unconscious which was already on its way from an Earth Orbital dock. It was time for him to get to the Old NASA Memorial Hospital at Grand Central Spaceport. He had to say his goodbyes and had done so with everyone but one. The middle aged doctor in his bed was Harriet Bliss who had been a medical consultant with the Sports Medicine Group. She actually had published a paper on the erections of older men getting into shape on the Moon. He could not help feeling that he might just be research. But he had not had sex in four years before this relationship.

He called in the room service that only he and a few others were entitled to receive. He set the table and as his middle-aged lover came to the table he kissed her hand. “I will miss you Doctor Bliss. But we are both headed to Mars, maybe we can see eachother there.”

“I hope so Georgie. When the Armstrong arrives in port it should be on every news medium on the planet but you won’t be there yet. I am not sure when I will get home but I am sure that I will check and keep a lookout for your ship as long as I am there”.

“That sounds great, Harriet. I have sent my luggage on ahead to the train station already and have arranged for you to be welcome to these rooms for the next three days if you wish to use them. But I really must leave in a few minutes”.

“Darling, I am not as new to the spacer’s life as you are.  Bad scheduling and long separations are likely with anyone you meet. We can take this as carefully as we can. I really do like you — don’t worry”.

They talked a bit more and then kissed passionatley and she watched him leave. Mentally she rated him the thrid best octogenarian  

lover she had ever had and not as good as the ninety three year old who had just gotten out of ten-year slow-boat rejuvenation sleeper tube to mars. She liked that these men treated her as though she were young and tender. She could remeber a time when she had been both and she often missed that time. She did not stay for three days and as she caught the Lunapolis train home she rode in the same car with the Dupuis Band. She chatted with the lead singer she had met a few days before and he told her they usually played at a Lunapolis bar called the Boston Commons. He also transferred a file to her e-tab of bars and clubs worth seeing at least once in Lunapolis.

On arriving in Lunapolis through the hilly and rocky passes of the new track from Sinas E she saw the new array of meteor dtection scopes beside the old Kepler 12 Planet Search Array.  The bleakness of the landscape still frightened her more than open space. She loved the crater colnies but hated the surface more than an asteroid belt and could not figure out why.   Leaving the train she returned her fashionable tailored travel suit to her rental agency and caught the express elevator to Lunapolis University. She walked amid the students and junior faculty on Central Cavern Way to the Library.  She called on and old friend who was heading the biology research task force.  Their paths had crossed on Earth, the Moon and in space. He was eating a simple lunch in a faculty lunchroom with  a woman friend and they were generous enough toserve her some of their ample prepared meal of redfish coubouillion on rice and bacon wrapped doves with salad. It was delicious. “I am saying goodbye to an old friend the once again Ms. Guidry who was Mrs. Broussard-Summers. She is a great Acadian cook and has just come from selling the second home she got from her ex-husband in a divorce a few years ago. She is on her way to Grand Central Spaceport to catch a shuttle to a Supercruiser to Mars to meet her fiancee and was kind enough to feed me on her way out”.

“Good to meet you, I am called Dr. Bliss here. I got divorced twelve years ago, I believe it was. I wish you well”.

“Yes, it is kind of difficult right now we had good memories in that home”.

“Where was your home”?

“In the Ethnos Arkadios Corporation  proprietary colony in Menelaus Crater on the Mare Serenitatis. It was a nice wall house”.

“I have been there. It is a very nice place and I really like the casino”.

“Well we were five hundred yards west of the Casino near the Carl Brasseaux Memorial Archives and overlooking theWolves of the Wild World Zoo and the dog park”.

“That’s a very nice area”.

After exchanging some confidential research files with her friend she went to the Central Plug Cable Car Staion and caught a cable car to the station nearest the hotel  where she had her suite. In her room she opened her account on the Armstrong Agency’s webchannel and watched the interview withJoseph Culkathadreil. She ignored the female interviewer and noted that the pilot she would be traveling to Mars with was  nice looking despite a shabby ruggedness. She smiled at the possibilities this brought up.     

First Chapter of My Science Fiction Novel on the “Summers Progress” Account on Facebook

Chapter One “First Trip to the Moon” of Part One “The Moon” a Very Different Sci-fi “First” Contact Novel in Progress

by Summers Progress on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 10:40pm

“Those days were above all the age of the Crater Cap Colonies. No other technology or social scheme had such an influence on the period of the Contact as did the Crater Cap Colony. While it was devised in a Facebook Group in the Twenty-First Century it came into its own just at the middle of the twenty-second century”. Historical Essays Section, Encyclopedia Humanitica

****  ****  ****  ****  ****

The Shuttle from Earth Orbit Station 13B was a bit crowded to say the least. There were both cheap trap tube and foldo seat tickets. Joseph Culkathadreil was not in one of those. He was in the economy seating and had a window seat. His Pilot Guild ID was worth a 40% discount on the shuttle, 25% off of his days fees at the station and would have been worth 17% off of the big ticket which was the EarthupShuttle. However, a friend who ran travel arrangements for the secretive Culkathadreil Consolidated Capital Corporation had pulled some strings to get him a temp job piloting the hop. So he had actually earned enough to pay for the other 75% of his Station fees. In the pilots bar there he had met a man who knew the best ways to get work at the Lunapolis Pilots Clearinghouse. In return for the information he had bought him a few beers. But the old pilot told him not to be too optimistic. He had exhausted his own willingness to use any influence or favors that involved Culkathadreil interests. The company was too secretive to be known to most people and too small to be well known to those with the resources to know most things. The name gave him just a bit of panache and set off his web of small scars, his years spent in hard and unglamorous positions with a bit of class. He also got a small dividend each quarter on a few shares of preferred stock in his designated portion of a protected trust. Togher with his severance packet from his last real job he planned to live on that till he found work.

Beside him was a tall man with the badges and pocket instruments of a Crater Cap Engineer. Joseph asked him how he was and what he was planning to do on the Moon. “If it is not too personal?”

“Not personal at all. We are putting together a team in Lunapolis and then heading off to finish the basic cap on a new colony they are opening in a crater on the far side of the Moon. You planning to fly for someone out of Lunapolis?”

“Yes, but I do not have a regular job yet — no job at all, really.”

“Well don’t forget to call the Wang Crater Cap Corporation once you are registered. We always need a few pilots it seems like.”

“I will do that. I am embarassed to say that I have worked in the space industry in general and colonization in particular a good part of my life and yet I know so little about the caps really. What makes that even more embarassing is that I grew up on an artificial island. And the plans fo those owe alot to some of the people who devloped the caps. ”

“Those wouldn’t be the islands in the Gulf of Mexico would they I thought I heard a little of South Louisiana in your voice.  We still buy cap components there you know.”

“You are a pretty good detective. I am indeed from the Culkathadreil Archipelago in the South Louisiana Super Archipelago of artificial islands. My name is Joseph Culkathadreil”. 

“Pleased to meet you you can read my name on my badge of course”. There was an awkward sort od gesture here that was niether a bow nor a handshake and yet was more than an inclination of the head, both men stumbled though it in the way that men not used to stumbling socially can when they must — the seats were not spacious for one thing.The engineer continued speaking relatively seemlessly now.  “About the caps they are simple enough: First they keep out cosmic and solar radiation but you can put solar panel up on top to gather the power. Second, you start channeling that power into heat and light it starts to warm up or if it is a blazing hot place to cool but iluminate as you block the sun. On the mooon many craters are below 45 degrees Kelvin on the floor — that is super cold. You put a cap on the place and nowadays we send out coldbots to scoop up methane and hydrogen and burn it that adds to the build up from solar powered heaters and lights. Third, in most spots we choose water ice starts to melt and gathers in ponds and streams. You see Pilot Culkathadreil, even though we pump or mine for more later we have water on the Moon and on Mars at that stage. Fourth. we start with all airlocks and pressure suits but we put in a base of miners and start planting domed gardens and keep burning the methane and heating the mines, spoils and floor. Fifth. the miners were masks but atmospheric pressure is fine and the climate is chilly but not brutal on the floor. Sixth, the miners crap and urinate and sometimes die and we recycle all their waste properly into compost or bury them to decay into the soil. Seventh, we can bring in a few real farmers. When this goes on the right way long enough you can get a place like Lunapolis”.

“And what do you do mostly in that process”? Joseph had listened carefully and although he had probably seen much of the process on TV he felt he understood it better than before.”I mean, do you specialize somehow — I see you are high grade CCC engineer”?

“Yes and while I was talking I checked on your name and see Joseph Culkathadreil is in the Inventor’s Guild as well. That’s impressive”!

“Well it is a little bit of income honestly but directly sent to previous commitments. I patented two form of shooter dart and a bullet for shooting through and between spaceships”.

“You are a scary man then. But I hold about ten patents. Two are for quicker heaters one is nuclear and one purely solar. I hold three for first roof projectors which put something upa as a scaffold and shield. I also have patents on inflatable column building components which help to support the early caps. So while I do it all Culkathadreil I spend a lot of time supporting my own stuff nowadays”.

“I am seated next to a legend here in economy. I am surprised but honored”.

“I am not quite a legend. I fly in space a great deal and I am a small man. I find economy comfortable and the difference in cost pays fro my duaghter’s tuition in medical school and my son’s tuition in Nuclear engineering by the end of the year. By the way, I have a tutorial on caps for investors shall I give it to you”?

“Thank you I would love to have it”. The men touched e-tabs and the addresses, nonconfidential biographies and other data were exchanged as well as Joseph receiving the three minute depiction of the first six months of amodern capping project.   He scanned a bit of it on the synopsis feature of his miniscreen.”That is pretty amazing Engineer. I have seen films and TV  shows made on Lunapolis and it is hard to imagine it starting like that”. 

“Films and TV, huh…  Pilot Culkathadreil, have you ever been to the Moon before?”

 “No, I have flown to space a good bit but this stay on the station was my longest in Space in the Earth Gravity Well. I mean off planet of course.”

 “”But you have shuttled from a station to a planetary ship to pilot I am guessing. Otherwise it would not take so long for you to say all of this. You would just say longest time off planet ever.”

 “Yep, I made just one trip as a subpilot actually but it was a big trip.”

 “Well one thing you should know about the Moon is that most people say the sex is better than anywhere else. One sixth gee is much better than the gees on the Earth or Mars and bodies work much better than in zero gees. Women usually bed a new pilot first-timer pretty quick I hear.”

 “Well, that is something to look forward to then. I am gloriously unattached certainly.”

 ‘Well, they are airing a sneak preview of the new Lu movie right now. I think I will put on my earpieces.”

 “I may join you then.”

As though to fulfill the prophecy of their conversation the Lu film was In the Cold and was the story of a Chinese American family who moved to Lunapolis on the Moon from San Francisco on Earth. One of the sons died in the rush of melting ice in a new crater cap colony on the Far Side. Joseph thought it was a pretty good film.  

The landing was not at any the colonies but at Grand Central Spaceport. Joseph went thought the AutoDoc scanners and presented his ticket to the luggage claim. He looked a walls of stone carved with maps labeled with features and with metal markers showing human settlements. He saw boards showing arrivals and departures. He walked to the display globe in the huge holoshow cube. The diversity of people and costumes in the great lobby was amazing. He also saw the vast dome above him like a great mosque he thought in which nearby anti-meteor battery towers were the minarets. This dome was red glass, steel webbing and siligel. Two large tunnels went to the blue dome and the white dome and another two tunnels went to two crater cap colonis of very modest sized craters that were part of the complex. However at various view points he could see the large network of train tracks the came to the red dome and then branched out more and more. He could see the surface tubeways that ran from the blue dome to the catapults that launched most of the outgoing shuttles and freight tenders. The white dome connected to  a web of surface and emergncy vehicles and the very few roads there were on almost road free Moon. His ticket to Lunapolis said Quadrant E and as he left the lobby and entered the Quadrant E  wing he saw the sign over the entry said Quagrant E–Equatorial Region. Then the ticket said Concourse MT and when he reached this it was the Councourse for all colonies in the Mare Tranquilitatis or Sea of Tranquility. Here he got on a moving walkway in the most crowded walkway or route and all wre headed to the Lunapolis Colony. US customs operated a scan gate as everyone entered the Lunapolis lobby and he went through without event.  The Lobby had a large ceiling mosaic depicting the founding of the colony and a good diner he had no time for at the moment. In several places the same phrase was written or carved “Lunapolis, Capital City Of USA Lunar Colonies built in the Tauruntius Crater on the Sea of Tranquility”. He heard nobody around him mentioning Tauruntius Crater however, everyone said Lunapolis. He saw that some people had rental cards and people helped them into nice travel suits other had their own rental lockers, suit check desks or their luggage. However he got the silly looking proteinate suits issued by the trainline.They looked like condoms even though they were very tough. The helmets and fingertips stayed open until there was a sudden decreas in air pressure. The suit would seal up and allow one to get from an armored train car that had been breached and into another car that was still sound. He noticed that well over half the passengers had these suits that were included in the price. Nobody was allowed into the train without somekind of pressure suit. He tried to tighten the belt and two straps. Meanwhile he shuffled along with others headed for the Lunapolis Express.

Minutes later he was on the train to Lunapolis. Almost nothing but raw moonscape and train tracks were visible for most of the thirty minute trip. He saw the big cater rim approaching his window as they banked on a turn fo the final approach. Getting out of the Train after it had slowed to a stop on the great white crater cap sheet he saw dozens of huge solar collectors until the train entered the airlocks of the large green pyramid in the center of the cap. He reported to colny customs and checked his luggage into a delivery crate locker so it would follow him to any hotel or apartment he found. Important people and rich people were being met by well dressed footmen from fine hotels. Robots were cleaning floors, serving coffee and helping people with their luggage. Colony craftspeople were selling souvenirs mostly to those who were leaving.

He hustled on to the discount elevator with many others. He watched windows pull out below the bottom layers of the cap. No picture or holoshow aproximated the real experience. On distant crater walls two wispy water falls fell well over a thousand feet each had two great hotels on the wall each at the place the water circulated through the hidden pipes and spilled out of caves and rocky ponds. He saw them from above straigh on and below very quickly. He saw feilds, swamps and forests as well as orchards rushing towards the bottom elvator. For a few moments they reached freefall and were held in place by their straps. Then they began to slow and sink back to the floor. He wore a newcomer’s magnetic shoe tape and made his way from the landing strip to the floor transit hub. He found a bus marked “Navigation Park — Elevator prime”. When he said Lunapolis Pilots Clearinghouse he was given a chit which had the words “Nav.Park stp2 J.Lovell fount/LPC” printed on the unfamiliar gray material.

When Culkathadreil got to the Pilots Clearinghouse he was tired. He was very weary and his mind was focused on whether or not he would get any work at all. He was not looking for any great or unusual to happen. From our point of view writing or reading about his life in an era that we all call the New Dawn we know that Joseph Culkathadreil is one of the most famous names of that era. He did not anticipate that and was closer to hanging on to what hope and dignity he could when everything in him cried out to just crawl away and lick quite few wounds fom a hard life thus far.

He did not notice a rather obvious plastic screen out of place or the top of a toy balloon sticking out above its upper edge. In the past he had noticed far more subtle things when his life depended upon it. He had suffered the fatigue that comes from noticing too many little things when nothing depended upon it. However, on that day he noticed nothing. Not untill the artificial sky of Lunapolis changed from its normal colors as he filled out his name on the registration screen. Birds and animals across the vast canyon floor responded as the sky flashed red, white blue and showed images of night stars and a vast ship. The screen he’d overlooked earlier showed large letters spelling “Joseph Culkathadreil is Our Winner!”Pipes and drums of various kinds sounded through the sound system all around him. About a dozen people in dresses, suits and overalls that he could see all belonged to something called the Colony Contest Committee were swarming around him. Some held balloons, some let balloons go and some held up flashing e-signs.

Another dozen of the same group seemed to be appraoching on glidecycles. He turned to the clerk looking to connect all this noise to the action he had just performed. “You won! Are you excited?”

He looked at the winning smile kindly. She was a cute short girl who he guessed might have been born with dwarfism and sent to grow up on the Moon as a child wherre medicine and low gravity made miracles commonplace for that disease. “I don’t know what I won, but maybe so…”

“I am so happy to be the one on duty, I get to go to the launch party now!”

“Launch party?”

“Yes, oh how can you not know — you won a duty post on the “Neil Armstrong”‘s Mothball Cruise.”

“Are you serious?”

“Absolutely this is a huge contest.”

Joseph pulled out the Philip Morris Pilot’s Pleasure cigarette that lighted itself automaticaly as it left the pack and gave off no smoke. He drew once on it and breathed out a tiny puff of smoke which was only a warnable matter here but on a planetary ship would draw a real and sizable fine. The lights of the Channel Nine News ‘copter and of two of it flybots were now lighting him up. The lights made it harder to see exactly how the Contest Committee was forming up around him. But he saw the the pretty red haired woman wearing a reporter’ red vest reading “MEDIA” in block lettters. She angled up beside the square jawed man with a neat hair cut who held out an e-tablet as he stood before Joseph but also smiled and cheated his position to be in view of the flybots and thir built-in cameras.

“Captain Third Class Joseph Samuel Culkathadreil, you are the certified winner of the Colonial Commission Contest for a duty post on the Neil Armstrong’s final cruise.”

Joseph was more intensely aware of the sound of the machinery in the flybots as they bobbed around recording everything. He smiled and said, “This is great! I am thrilled.”

He reached out and took the e-tablet. The man smiled as he handed it to him bigger and tootheir than before. ” We at the Contest Committee want to thank Lunapolis, the Colonial Commission and the Armstrong Agency for another great contest with another great result.”

The reporter waved her link glove and said “Pilot Culkathadreil and Chariman Wylies can we get a good handshake for the viewers?”

Both men obliged. Joseph smoking with the cigarette now in the side of his teeth. Almost as soon as the handshake was done the Contest committee retreated from him to a nearby set of cart with champagne and appetizers. He was alone with the lovely reporter. ” Well here we are on May 23, 2264 with someone I believe is an experienced spacer but quite new to Lunapolis. He signs up on a form that says he will take any space piloting job almost and wins the sweetest berth around. How does it feel to have won a ride on the Neil Armstrong and the pay of a Super Cruiser Pilot?”

Joseph looked at the elements of the prize listed on the screen of his e-tablet and he was stunned at the unexpected change in his fortune. “It feels pretty fantastic actually;” is what he said. “I can hardly believe it.”

“Well, that sounds pretty calm and reasonable. Can you tell our audience what is the biggest ship you ever flew before this?”

“I was Junior Captain on the New Orleans ISS72 run for eight years. We carried fitfy people and five tons of cargo before the catapults picked up the traffic. Then on my way up on this trip I was temp co-pilot on CapultCat76 we were 130 people and five tons of supplies. The Cat also pun off two sattelites. Between those trips I did a run on a planetary but I was not a pilot I was onloy a listed sub pilot. ”

“So Having a full online duty post on a mile long supercruiser will be a change I would imagine. Isn’t this a great story. I am sure much of my audience and viewership will agree that you look to youbg to have ever been a hopper skipper before the cats.”

“I can address both of those issues at once. It will be a change even if I had flown the planetary it would have been a change. The one I was on was stasis rig and I look about twelve years younger than I am because of it. I was never any where near Mars where we are going on the Armstrong. We went the slip route to Jupiter, the Mars New Array will be very different indeed.”

“Sounds like an adventure and an adventurer have found eachother then.”

“I am finding the adventure on Lunapolis pretty enjoyable right now.”

The reporter had obviously gotten his implications and inferences. She moved her glove and in between edits gave him a knowing wink. She then gave a bout a minute of closing remoarks while he picked up a couple of champagne flutes. When he turned back towards her the lights were growing dark and the flybots were reattaching to the cases built for them on the quiet electric copter. The pilot waved and smiled noticeably in the reporter’s direction and then veered off to join a flow of air traffic over the park. The amount of lying in these lunar colonies was hard to take in. High air pressure and low gravity made it easy to fly.

Joseph held one of the champagne flutes out to the woman. ” I hear most Lunarians are pretty fond of drink, are you one of them?”

“I have been to Earth twice for high school and once for a world tour. But I hve lived the rest of ,my life on the Moon. Earth is all about gravity drugs, sleeptrainer beds and braces for me. Lunarians drink more because most colonies have a 70% oxygen atmosphere with many times the sea level air pressure on Earth. The low gravity make ishard for blood to fall to your feet, the oxygen makes it hard to get intoxicated. So we have to work to get a buzz here. So thanksfor the champagne.”

“Well, I don’t suppose you’d like to keep drinking and maybe owrk on background for a feature story on me? We could have dinner in my hotel.”

“You move pretty fast.”

“Slow pilots are dead pilots. But look I do not even know your name and I won two weeks at a nice hotel with dinner for two included. I have never been to the Moon before and you are someone I seem to be able to talk with, so how about it.”

“Well, it is not impossible. I do want to do a feature. I also eat. How did you get here?”

“I have luggage in the trains locker at Port Clearnace. But I just came on a bus from Elevator Tower. I also had planned to try to find a distant cousin who had a postal box in the Elevator Tower and a an old physical address in the dock dorms. That pretty much sums up all the connections I have in Lunapolis.”

“Well then at least let me give you a ride to your hotel and then we’ll see. If you can make out that parking lot over there beyond the pond that comes up to the veranda of the Registry Offfice then you know where we are going. I am parked there.”

Joseph took a long stride off the magnetized pavement and thenleaped up about ten feet and got a good view of the parking lot. Then He bent down and removed his newcomer’s shoe nets. There was a depository for them at the registry and he dropped them into it as they walked past. He walked beside his semi-date with a pilot’s skill in adjustment. Nonetheless he was very aware of his clumsiness as he tried to match the long and loping strides used by colonists on the Moon. The path alongside the Registry led among fruit trees first in a statuary park and then continued along the pond with fruit trees on one side and benches facing the pond on the other side. An aplle fell from one of the trees with impossible slowness.

Joseph was amazed to see the speed, grace and dexterity with which the young woman moved from his die to rush airborne to the apple.Her arm and fingers moved like a beautiful fleshly serpent and siezed the apple just as her foot found a small stone in the grass and pushed hard enough to send her up and in a parbola to land beside the spot where his last stride was landing him.

“How about a snack between champagne and dinner?”

“Sounds good”

The reporter smiled and dropped the apple towards his open palm as she looked at his nodding and smiling face. He used this as a chance to display his own speed and skill. She barely saw his other hand flick his cigarette into a trash bin, reah down and grab his knife from his pocket and open it as his right hand seized and positioned the apple. She did see him split the apple and then skewer half of it and offer it to her while he brought the other half to his mouth with his left hand.

“Bravo, you are an impressive man.” Her voice held bothe teasing laughter and real admiration.

“Then we are mutually impressed. In all thais getting impressed I have never caught your name.”

“Right, you are new here and you were getting the champagne when I did the sign off. My name is Roberta Dupuis and I will definitely follow up my half apple with a real meal with you.”

“I am very pleased.”

“Well, I think you might be.”

This is just a drawing of what any Lunar Crater Cap Colony might be like. For the key go to the group “Crater Cap Concept Colony Group” in my list of groups.

 

Drawing of the view of a proprietary crater cap colony from above