Office Talk

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Vanisha Bhargava, a corporate lawyer employed by the Lunar Investment & Development Corporation, landed not too far away from the Grimaldi Resort. As a representative of the resort's owners, the woman had been on the Moon previously. For her it was just another routine inspection, though General Manager Lisandra Wendell was also a close friend of her. So it was no surprise that the latter was waiting for at the space port.

"Good to see you again!" the corporate lawyer greeted the general manager. The two women exchanged a few kisses. "Yes, I am very glad to welcome you once more in our beautiful resort." Lisandra beckoned her executive assistant, who submissively moved to the two women. Without saying anything, Ms Bhargava gave Kimberley her luggage, who took it without making any remarks.

"So how are you doing, Lisandra?" "I am fine and you?" "I'm fine too. Though I have been very busy lately." "I know," the other woman replied. "Of course, I have been very busy too." "I would not dare to think otherwise," the corporate lawyer said with a very big smile.

About an hour later both women were sitting in Ms Wendell's office and while they enjoyed their lunch, Ms Bhargava said:

"You know how much work it is to prepare our application to the Lunar Committee. And that's really only the tip of the iceberg." "I see." "It's not only the technical details which have to be absolutely right, but we need to anticipate any possible objections to our plans. There's no doubt that those scientists will do anything to prevent the establishment of a tourist resort on their Far Side and of course, there are many naive and ignorant people who will support their cause. It all complicates our plans, but still I am quite confident that we'll finally get our permits."

"Of course," Lisandra said, "we'll get those. Is there already a decision on the precise location for the new resort?" "Not yet, though we have reduced the list to five places. Each of them at large distance of either the Daedalus or the Saha crater." "How much?" "At least five hundred kilometers away from each." "I guess that that distance should be sufficient in order not to disturb those scientists with their precious research." "I agree and that will be of great importance for our success."

"The Lunar Committee has also to decide on the approval of the Saha project." "Of course," Ms Bhargava replied. "And I agree with you that the approval of that project will be key to ours. If we do not get our permit, why should we accept that they can get theirs? The Moon belongs to all of Mankind, not just to scientists. It's important that we stress that we do not oppose scientific research on the Far Side and that tourism would not hurt those inquiries at all. If we can convince the Committee of that, we will win."

Then Lisandra ordered her executive assistant to remove their empty plates and to bring them fresh cups of tea. In Kimberley's absence the corporate lawyer remarked:

"She is such a lovely assistant." "Yes," the other woman replied. "Kimberley is very loyal and a very good worker. I have hardly anything to complain when it comes to her. And in case her performance seems to drop even in the slightest, I only need to show her my hairbrush to let her to quickly regain her motivation. Fortunately, that's hardly necessary." "You're very, very lucky to have her around you." "Yes, I am," Lisandra said with a big smile.

"Anyway," Vanisha said, "we have also to deal with those Lagrangians." "Do you expect trouble from them?" "We know that they would like rather less terrestrial citizens here on the Moon than more and tourism is in the end about more numbers. So naturally they will tend to side with the scientists, but there is some friction between them. The scientific community is, of course, well aware that the Lagrangian position is politically motivated and hence they might change their view, as it suits their interests."

"And what," the other woman asked, "are their interests?" "Well," the investor and lawyer said, "that's actually hard to tell. As I said they are not in favor of more terrestrial involvement on the Moon, but on the other hand they prefer that we are busy with the Moon, so that they can control the rest of the Solar System. So their intentions are hard to guess and the Association of Lagrangian States has yet to make a formal statement on either the Saha project and our proposal." "Is such a statement necessary?" "In a strict formal sense no, but the Lagrangians have to give their consent sooner or later. Hence such a statement is to be expected, and usually it will also contain some considerations – in order to convince other stakeholders."

Hardly had Ms Bhargava stopped talking, when Kimberley returned with a tray with two cups of hot tea and a bowl of biscuits. Silently the executive assistant gave the two other women each a cup, thereafter she retired to one of the corners of her boss's office. Lisandra took a biscuit and dunked it in her tea, her guest followed her example.

"Excellent," Vanisha said, "but of course, I don't expect anything else but the highest quality of service at our flagship resort." "Neither do I." "You are by far one of the best GMs we have ever had. Since you have taken up the management here, our customer reviews have only improved." Lisandra smiled. "The day our guests will experience even the slightest decline in the quality level of our services, you'll need to borrow my hairbrush." From the edge of her eye, the corporate lawyer, could see that the mention of the hairbrush made Kimberley shiver a bit. "It would really surprise me, if it would ever come that far." "Let's hope it won't be necessary."

Both women started to laugh but only a couple of moments later, they resumed their more serious conversation.

"As I've understood," Lisandra Wendell said, "The Lagrangians are about to provide a substantial part of the financial investments needed for the Saha project." "That's true, but I have heard rumors that it's anything but certain they will actually provide these funds. If not, the whole project is likely to be scrapped." "Why are the doubts among the Lagrangian settlers in regard of funding a second LRO?" "I don't know, but I got the impression that they are quite divided. That's contrary to common perception among us terrestrials, who usually see those folks as a single bloc. But I believe that could actually work to our advantage."

The general manager had no great love for the Lagrangians and the idea those people were busy to fight themselves amused her a lot. While Lisandra was finishing her tea, her visitor quickly resumed their interesting conversation.

"Of course, in the end the whole dispute is not about scientists versus tourists." "Why not? And what's the conflict really about?" The general manager asked surprised. "Well," said the corporate lawyer with a sinister smile, "it's about energy." "I'm afraid I don't understand, Vanish." "I see, it's not really your cup of tea, I guess. But it's not that complicated. You have to know that the Moon's Far Side is rich in Helium 3 – a valuable substance since it could be used as fuel for fusion reactors. Of course, Lunar helium resources are of special interest as they are the closest supply to Earth." "Well, but are the Langrangians not completely dependent on Solar power?" "Not completely. It's no secret that the Lagrangians are not keen to keep themselves to the Sun-Earth Lagrange points but that they desire to expand to the entire Solar System."

"I'm not surprised about their ambition. Yet, I still don't see how Lunar Helium matters to them as fusion power is mainly a terrestrial affair." "There's one use of fusion power that greatly concerns them: Fusion rockets. With those the Lagrangians will be able to travel the Solar System much faster. And also from their perspective, the Moon is their nearest supplier. So they have a clear interest in keeping us Terrestrials away from the Far Side and the whole Science versus Tourism debate helps them to conceal their true motives.

"Nevertheless, the game the Lagrangians are playing is very opaque and hence we've to be careful when dealing with these folks. We can't know for sure on whose side they are or even why. The recent past has shown that they are willing to fund causes that are in apparent conflict with their own interests." "Yeah," Lisandra said, "I've heard about them funding the anti-GMO movement, only to eliminate terrestrial competitors for their own GMO-based products." "And that's just only one example," her visitor and friend added.

"But, I guess it's time to get a tour of this wonderful resort, so I can see the good work you are doing here." "That would me a great pleasure," the general manager said. While the two women were rising from their chairs, Lisandra commanded her executive assistant clear her desk and to bring the empty cups back to the kitchen. Without paying any further attention to Kimberley, the other women left the office.

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