2: A Moon Alone (part 2)

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2.2 Keifer Davidsen

Tycho Base: 29 May 2107

Keifer felt a hand on his shoulder. The voice of his boss crackled over the radio, "Go home, Keifer. You're dead on your feet, man. There'll still be plenty more to do tomorrow."

Inside his helmet, Keifer's head nodded in agreement. Like most, he had worked long past the end of his shift. Exhaustion had already taken its toll on several members of the workforce. He looked around. Each spacesuit was adorned with the flag of the wearer's country: Chinese, Russian, European and South American.

Did they still mean anything?

All work had stopped three hours ago for them to cluster around an old non-holographic flat screen to watch the asteroid's impact. Many of them had been unable to continue afterwards.

Keifer's bounce across the depot was lethargic, taking him a couple of minutes to reach the airlock. At least his temporary cabin wasn't too far.

After de-suiting and showering in his meagre water allowance, he slumped down on the bed.

The boss was right. They still had tons of potassium fluoride crystals to unload and transport to the other colonies. At least the damned stuff was here now, and not stuck on Earth. He'd heard that several ships hadn't managed to escape in time. The chemical had been one of newly elected President Stephanopoulos' demands. Absent from the Moon, it was used to break up the Moon's regolith – its surface dust and rocks – into its constituent chemical components, including oxygen, silicon, iron, aluminium and other metals. Their continued existence on the Moon and self-sufficiency depended on such resources that had been hastily shipped over the past two weeks.

And what a fortnight it had been. Not only had Keifer hardly stopped for a moment, society on the Moon itself had also gone through a major revolution. Eleven days previously, the Moon had finally become an independent political entity. Given what they'd witnessed of the asteroid's impact, Keifer wondered if it was the only one left this side of Mars.

Despite his exhaustion Keifer was unable to sleep. After a while he flicked the cabin screen on. Most of the channels were showing the same thing. Watching the destruction chewing its way around the home planet, Keifer knew that President Stephanopoulos' worst-case scenario had come true. Even Janet hadn't thought it would get this bad.

Keifer rubbed his eyes, though the grittiness in them wouldn't go away. He sighed, flicking across the channels before stopping on one that, instead of relaying the live satellite feeds from the Earth, was documenting the rise of their new president.

He already knew most of the story; he even quite liked the man. Georgios Stephanopoulos, mayor of the primary habitation, the Kepler Colony, had always been a popular figure amongst the permanent colonists. He was also chairman of the LCC – the Lunar Colonies Confederation – and was prominent in advancing the causes of the colonists against the lethargy of the UN derived government.

Keifer had been one of those cheering when, eleven days ago, Stephanopoulos had declared himself president. With support from more than two-thirds of the Moon's residents, the mayors of the other colonies immediately pledged allegiance to him.

For years a growing movement had advocated self-rule but lacked leverage for anything other than protest. With the threat of the asteroid hanging over the Earth, the Moon was seen as a safe house. With its bargaining position massively strengthened, Stephanopoulos had seized the opportunity. He'd even had the UN appointed Moon governor, a fair but rather narrow-minded man, put under house arrest, primarily for his own safety.

The screen played back events from several days back when Earth's nations initially refused to recognise the change of power. Stephanopoulos' scientific advisors had indicated that the Earth could be rendered almost uninhabitable for up to ten years. He decreed that two-thirds of all ships arriving should instead carry supplies and livestock, the latter in embryonic form, to enable the Moon to become as self-sufficient as possible. Although there were already underground farming facilities available, they struggled to provide the bulk of the inhabitants' requirements. As expected, his demands were ignored. However, several heads of state were already on their way to be relocated on the Moon 'for the duration of the emergency'. But when passengers of the first ship – loaded with the kings of England and Wales, the queens of the Netherlands and Scotland, as well as a few Baltic presidents – were strictly prohibited from disembarking, efforts to comply with Stephanopoulos' demands were finally instigated.

Keifer switched channels again. Back on the live view from Earth he was aghast at how far the devastation had progressed. He wished he was back home with Janet and Melissa.

He checked the time and picked up his phone.

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