by Silver Türk
Michał looked back at the hangar. Despite the high contrast of light and shadow, the inflatable hangar seemed not that different from the sports hangar in his home city, Hamburg, where he used to train in the winter. He looked at the horizon — there was the landing site with six spaceships that just arrived with the people ready to move in. The construction was finished according to an ideal schedule, there were no additional delays. Michał had an experience, he had the same design in Shackleton almost a year ago. The hangar had been ready for weeks already, and Michał had no serious work to do today, just setting raising the room temperature to more comfortable levels and helping the locals responsible for the amenities of the newcomers. In the low gravity of the Moon, he took softly landing bouncing steps towards the hangar exit.
In the airlock of the hangar, he looked at the mirror and examined his spacesuit. Wasn’t it colorful like a plumage of a parrot! Sri, a local, had told her about the design. It was inspired by a pattern originating from the eastern part of Ecuador, and the colors had very specific names, such as candy apple red and beer yellow. Michał smiled — Sri seemed to take design and art very seriously. When the pressure had equalized, it was time to walk through the still empty hangar to the station. He put his spacesuit into his locker and changed his socks and footwear. When he exited the locker room and walked through the hangar filled with living quarters, he entered the lobby. The lobby was full of people in colorful clothes and the smells of fragrances, which made the place look more like a hippie convention than a space station. The place was outright crowded.
Emerging from the narrow corridor leading to the inflatable habitat, he noticed a huge white dog in the foreground of the unfamiliar crowd. The dog was one of the largest he had seen, covered with fluffy white hair, the nose was black and the eyes were brown. It approached slowly. When the dog was three or four meters away, Michał stood up. The dog continued approaching and once next to Michał, the dog raised onto the two hind paws and leaned his front paws on the shoulders of Michał. It was almost as tall as Michał. Michał, mildly surprised, had to slightly rebalance his load. He looked at the eyes of the creature with a rather blatant view on greeting humans. Michal just hugged the dog firmly and rubbed its sides, feeling the beast’s rib cage under his palms. He mumbled a few calming words. This seemed to do the trick, and the dog returned to the four-point support usual for quadrupeds. Now Michał spotted the dog’s owner, a woman in an Oasian cloak.
“Dog knows dog,” she said.
“What breed?” inquired Michał, wondering.
“Pyrenean mountain dog,” replied the woman.
“Beautiful dog.” said Michał with praise, “Hi!”
He outstretched his arm. “Michał… Or just Michael if you wish”
“Ote,” the woman replied, just nodding and beaming in return. “You do not seem like one from the Oasis.”
“Yes,” replied Michał, “I work for Beruang Engineers. And you?”
“I see. And you are one of the new colonists of the Oasis?”
“Yes but perhaps not for a long time,” replied the woman, “Imbrium offered triple salary. I am seriously thinking about that offer.”
Michał’s eyebrows raised. “Imbrium?”
“A solicitor offered triple my salary if we were to join Imbrium. They plan to start brewing beer and bio yogurt on the Moon on a large scale. I like the Oasis and Imbrium seems a little bit suspect but I do have heard I have heard that they pay construction workers well.”
“That is true,” replied Michał, “it is no secret that our company has tried to become their contractor for a long time. Imbrium has loads of cash. They seem to be quite generous; more generous than the state-based ones like Shackleton and Selene… Their offer is tempting. When would you leave?”
“Tomorrow is the day to sign the contract, and leaving takes place within this week.”
“Now that is quick.”
“Imbrium probably hires construction specialists as well to accommodate the new colonists,” Ote said.
Michal said: “Interesting developments but I have finished my workday today. I guess they have made an offer for our company. I will hear about it tomorrow, I guess… Today… it has been a good workday and I am quite hungry now. Would you like to join me for a supper with…” Michal looked at the Pyrenean.
“Velvet. We just finished supper,” answered Ote.
Michał nodded and turned his gaze away from Velvet to Ote, outstretched his arms, and hugged Ote. She slowly shook her head, yet smiling, and turned her eyes to Velvet. The brown-eyed dog looked back at her and wagged the tail, and took a look at Michał, as well. Michal rubbed the neck of the dog and said “See you,” to Ote. “Inshallah,” she replied and seemed to look at her shoes.
Michał satiated his hunger, visited his small apartment for a quick shower, and set his steps towards a cluster of small rooms with plants and some animals. He found a free seat near an intersection near the cage of orchids and ericoid, bats and lemurs. The lemurs were resting while, curiously, Michał was unable to spot a single bat in the bat cage. A bit dismayed, Michał reached his pocket for a small chocolate bar he had procured from the canteen. While cracking it, he was interrupted by a message from the loudspeaker. The message was presented in a calm but serious tone. The voice explained that one of the locals had contracted a virus with the symptoms of cough and fever and that the virus originated from the bats. All of the people with symptoms as well as bats were isolated. The voice explained that the symptoms were not life-threatening but ordered all personnel to return to their quarters. Michał noticed his phone vibrating briefly in his pocket. Ignoring it, he finished his chocolate bar, put the chocolate paper into his pocket, and left for his quarters.
The station was quarantined. No settlers left for Imbrium. Ote and Velvet disappeared. The virus turned out to be a relatively harmless one, and only a few people contracted it. After some official and unofficial inquiry, Michał learned that Imbrium was represented by a woman with a dog who arrived with the spaceship from Earth.
His employer, Beruang Engineers had a preliminary agreement with the representative of Imbrium about erecting an inflatable habitat for Imbrium very soon. While it was never said explicitly, it was quite clear that the aim of the Imbrium was to buy the same inflatable habitat from the Oasis and convince the majority of the new settlers with the help of a good paycheck.
When Michał walked around the moon base, he noticed incoming and outcoming tracks of a rover; the direction of these tracks led to the direction of the Rover. Indeed, it was profitable for Imbrium as they did not have to pay for transport from Earth to the Moon.