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La voyage dans la Lune, Chapter 2

(Part 2 of ?)

Back in Houston, Barney was admiring his work. Serenity’s newly–regenerated skin gleamed under the lights of Building Seven. He was considering renaming the building 24/7, as he’d spent so much time here this past month. She’d come back in a rather dirty state, with volcanic rock dust everywhere on the outside and a couple of grinning fools on the inside.

Fiona had asked him many questions about cold weather operations, but he couldn’t figure out exactly why. Barney couldn’t imagine Kevin willingly going somewhere cold as he hated that more than anything. And as for why they needed Serenity to make tunnels… well, that really had Barney’s mind going.

Barney looked up from his console. He’d gotten the alert that everything was done. “Well, you’re ready for whatever else they’ve got planned.”

Her answer came back through a nearby comm panel. “Thanks. I think it might be a while though.”

They’d built her a speech synthesizer pretty much straight away. Her voice was about as low as Fiona’s, but she spoke at a slower rate, giving the impression that she’d given a great deal of thought to every word. She sounded American, in a computer sort of way. If she was in a playful mood she might switch over to something close to a Cylon Centurion voice. It still startled him when she did that.

Serenity herself was being even more coy, deflecting most of his questions and talking him into playing games. Board games, card games, she was curious about everything. He’d flat–out refused to play blackjack, though. The only game where he could sort of hold his own was chess. She actually had to take time to think about it.

“Hmm.” Barney cycled through the windows on the three screens in front of him. A ‘To Do’ alert had come up. He checked his email then, looking for the press release that should be there by now. He opened the letter and began reading.

Engelhart Industries announces bold new initiative to reduce space junk.

HOUSTON – A new division will be tasked with developing orbital vehicles, search–and–recovery systems, and orbiting fabrication facilities to clear the low earth orbit region of potentially hazardous and toxic space junk, E.I. spokesperson Karen Wright announced today.

Addressing an impromptu news conference, Wright said that “the continued commercialization of space is endangered by the legacy of past exploration.” Engelhart Industries “sees great potential for growth, with as–yet unexploited profit streams available in the areas of reuse and recycling waste and abandoned equipment.”

An initial series of rockets will test various types of launch and recovery systems. The second phase of the project will include a small manned platform capable of refurbishing satellites and boosters that have remained in orbit past their useful lives. “Until now,” Wright said, “the lack of affordable recovery systems has prevented any work in this area. Our timeline has the first test occurring in eight to nine months.”

Engelhart Industries strengthens its’ commitment to being the world leader in new technologies…

Blah, blah, blah, here beginneth ye boilerplate… Barney pushed himself back from the desk. It’s as good as any, I suppose. I’ll be glad when Fiona tells me what’s really going on. “Serenity, I need a break. I’ll be back in a few hours.” Then he smiled. “Don’t go gallivanting around.”

She replied in her best impression of a southern belle to date. “Why EVA would I do something like thay–at?” She’d picked up sarcasm very easily.

It made Barney’s ‘fro attempt to stand up on end, which could be a dangerous thing. She knows everything. I’ll bet Kevin doesn’t even know the half of it. He tried to change the subject. “Have you downloaded next week’s ‘Bones’ yet?”
She made a ping. “There it is right now.” Then she chuckled ever so softly. “Barney, have you heard of a game called ‘Dungeons and Dragons’?”

He rolled his eyes and sighed. “Yes, but we’ll have to find a way for you to throw the dice.”

“No pseudo–random number generators?”

“Girlfriend, that’s not how this crewe rolls!”

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La voyage dans la Lune by Kevin L. Corridon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.