Authors: Raymond L. Weil
It didn’t seem
to him as if there was much they could do. How could you stop a neutron star?
At least his family was here in Tycho City. His wife and two children had flown
up the previous year.
“Tycho City is deep beneath the Moon’s surface,” began Mase, wondering how they would
receive what he was about to suggest. “I want to know if it’s possible to make Tycho City self-sufficient to the point we could survive without supplies from Earth.”
“You plan on us
staying in Tycho City?” Steffan asked with surprise in his eyes. Then, after
thinking for a minute, he added, “I can see your point. What good would it be
to return to Earth if it’s not safe there either? At least here we are in a
that Commander Larson on Star One will do the same thing. I don’t believe he
will evacuate the space station either. Between us and Star One, we have a lot
of resources that could be put to use to allow us to survive.”
“Tycho City was never intended to be totally self-sufficient,” Isaac reminded Mase as he
mulled over the work that would have to be done. “It would take a lot of effort,
and we would have to bring a lot of supplies up from Earth, particularly spare
parts. We may even need some additional specialists to put in some of the
systems required for long term survival.”
“I’m not sure
that Tycho City’s current location would be the best for us either,” Steffan
said with a thoughtful look on his face. “We might be better off cutting into
the side of the crater wall. If we drilled in a thousand feet with our mining excavators,
we could put thousands of feet of dirt and rock between the surface and us.
That would give us a lot of added protection.”
Steffan, seeing the serious look on the man’s face. “Is that even possible?
Could we build a new city beneath the crater wall in the time we would have?”
report from Farside, we would have over a year,” commented Steffan, looking
down and finding the information on a sheet of paper in front of him. “If we
start immediately, I think we could do it. We have the mining equipment, and
our people are well trained in drilling.”
Isaac spoke up, thinking about what Steffan had suggested. “We learned a lot
when we built Tycho City. By excavating beneath the crater wall, it would give
our people a better chance at surviving.”
Mase was quiet
for a moment as he weighed their suggestions. It was a course of action that
would be extremely expensive. They would need a lot of help from both Star One
and Earth to get it done in the time they had. This was something he would have
to talk over with Jane Kinsey, as well as Tim McPhryson. He would need their
support to get the president to approve the funds and supplies for such a
project. He knew that in order to keep all of their current projects running
and build a new city, it might be necessary to bring more qualified people up
“I will be
speaking with Commander Larson later today about the situation,” Mase informed
them. “We will be sending a message to Tim McPhryson about the Farside
discovery. Tim will then have to notify President Kateland and explain to her
its significance. It might take a while to get things sorted out on Earth, but
I suspect supplies and assistance won’t be a problem.”
“I will start
working up specifications for a new city beneath the outer rim wall,” Steffan
stated as he thought about everything that would be needed. “I will need to
bring in a few construction and mining engineers to get their input.”
replied Mase, wanting to get it started quickly. “Tell them what’s going on,
but make sure they understand it has to remain a secret for now.”
“I can do
that. I will be certain to pick men and women that I know I can trust.”
“I will start
looking at the types of supplies we will need to become totally self-sufficient,”
added Isaac, knowing it would be an exceedingly long list. “I may need a few
people also to help with that.” He wondered how his wife would take this. Her
parents were still on Earth as well as her younger brother.
“I would also
suggest that you look at expanding at our current location,” Mase suggested
after thinking things over. “We have already started excavating a second cavern
that is two hundred feet deeper than our current one. Would we be smarter
expanding that cavern and strengthening it instead of tunneling under the rim
wall? What would be the benefits of both?”
something to consider,” Steffan admitted, his eyes narrowing in thought. “We
have all of our supplies and materials already here as well as some
manufacturing capability in the machine shops. I will have my people look at
The three men
talked for another hour as they made plans and discarded ideas. In the end,
they came up with a plan that the three of them were satisfied with. If
everything worked out, Tycho City might just survive.
evening, Mase and Anthony Kleese were eating in one of the small restaurants in
downtown Tycho City. It was one of the smaller restaurants that specialized in
serving fast food. Mase had ordered a double cheeseburger with an extra order
of fries on the side, and Anthony had settled on a chicken fried steak. Mase
wanted to talk to Anthony about what he had discussed with the engineers
earlier and get his input.
“They want to
build a new city in the outer rim wall?” Anthony commented in a low voice. The
restaurant wasn’t very crowded, but he still didn’t want to risk being
Mase, recalling his earlier conversation with Isaac and Steffan. “It makes
sense if we’re going to try to survive here on the Moon. It will give us added
protection from any harmful radiation from the neutron star as well as
increased solar activity from our own sun. However, we might be able to achieve
the same thing if we expand the new cavern we have started to work on right
here at Tycho City. Steffan and Isaac are going to look at both options.”
family members on Earth; can we bring some of them up? I have a younger sister
attending college at Stanford, and I know your brother Phillip was already
considering bringing his family to Tycho City. I suspect once everyone knows
what’s happening there will be numerous requests to bring their families and
close friends up to Tycho City.”
“We can probably
bring some,” Mase replied startled at the suggestion and beginning to realize
how many people they might be talking about.
grew wide at the thought. In all of the discussions thus far, this was
something he hadn’t actually thought about yet. He realized now that it might
be necessary to build the new Tycho City much larger than the current one. This
would drastically affect plans that had been made earlier. He knew he was going
to have to speak to Isaac and Steffan before they made too many plans.
2,500 people, they might be talking about closer to 5,000 or even more. He also
realized there were a lot of people that might be essential to their survival
that were not even living on the Moon. That would be even more people they
would have to make room for. This might mean expanding the new cavern would be
the best option to accommodate such a large population. His thoughts were
interrupted as he saw Linda and another young woman walk into the restaurant. Mase
was surprised; he very seldom saw Linda away from the office.
around. Spotting Mase and Anthony, she made a beeline for their table.
Linda,” Mase said in a friendly voice, forcing a smile. He didn’t want to sound
distressed in front of Linda and the other young woman. “Who is your friend?”
“Hi, this is Jolene;
she’s going to start working in the horticulture department.”
“Want to join
us?” Anthony asked with a pleasant smile as he looked at Linda’s friend. Jolene
was an exceptionally good-looking young woman with dark black hair reaching
down to her shoulders.
at Mase, wanting his approval. Normally she didn’t socialize with anyone she
worked with. She had actually come over to the table just to be polite, plus
Jolene had wanted to meet the commander.
spoke up, gesturing toward two empty chairs at the table. “We just ordered, and
Anthony was starting to run out of things to say anyway.”
The two girls
sat down and the four quickly became engrossed in talking about Tycho City. Mase found out that Jolene had just recently arrived from Star One, where she
had been working with Star One’s head horticulturist, Julie Gray.
absolutely brilliant,” exclaimed Jolene, excitedly. She couldn’t believe she
was actually sitting at a table with Tycho City’s commander. “She is setting
Star One up to be totally self-sufficient. It won’t be long before they’re
growing nearly all of their own food. Julie has already nearly made the station
self-sufficient in water and oxygen use. They’re currently recycling nearly ninety-six
percent of their water and producing nearly ninety-eight percent of their own oxygen.”
over at Anthony with a knowing look. If this young woman had worked with Julie
Gray, she could be quite useful in their present situation. He would give Julie
a call in the morning to see just what she thought of Jolene. He was glad now
that Linda had brought the young woman over to meet him.
“I have known
Jolene for years,” Linda added with a smile. She knew Jolene was really excited
about meeting the commander. “We went to college together and have kept in
touch ever since.”
have ever thought we would be together on the Moon?” Jolene commented with a
grin. She was still taking everything in. Linda had promised her a complete
tour of Tycho City after they ate.
arrived, and the four continued to talk during the meal. Mase was pleasantly
surprised at how easy he found it was to talk to the two young women. For a
while at least, he was able to take his mind off the danger from the neutron
After the meal,
Mase returned to his apartment to turn in. He wanted to get a decent night’s
sleep; there was a lot he would have to do the next day. Anthony had gone with
the two girls, commenting that he knew more about Tycho City than Linda did. He
claimed that he could show Jolene some of the more interesting sights. Linda
had grinned and winked knowingly at Mase. Mase sensed that she suspected that
Anthony might have developed an interest in her friend.
morning, Mase had just finished talking to Julie Gray about Jolene when the com
unit on his desk began beeping, demanding his attention. “What’s going on?” he
asked as he picked up the phone.
Isaac was on
the other end. “We just lost communications with the operations station on the massif.
We think it might have been a meteor strike.”
Mase felt a
sudden chill go down his back. Due to the lack of an atmosphere on the Moon,
even small meteors could be dangerous. They didn’t burn up as they did when
they struck the Earth’s thick protective atmosphere. That’s why most of Tycho City was built deep underground.
Anthony and assemble a rescue team,” Mase quickly ordered. “I will be at the launching
It took Mase
only a few minutes to make it to the shuttle-launching platform. He saw that
Isaac, Anthony, and half a dozen other men were already there. All the men,
except Anthony and Isaac, were wearing their bulky spacesuits minus the
helmets. There was no point in going on suit power and oxygen until they
reached the massif and were able to evaluate the situation. His own suit was
inside the shuttle as well as several spares.
heard anything else?” asked Mase, breathing heavily from rushing over to the
launching pad from his office.
Isaac replied with growing concern on his face. “We were in contact with them
earlier and then everything went silent. We know that some of the antennas are
still working from the telemetry we’re receiving. However, several of the high
gain antennas are silent.”
Mase knew that
the high gain antennas were the ones closest to the operations building. That
was not a good sign. Those antennas were used primarily for communication with
Earth as well as Star One.
“We did manage
to train one of our orbiting satellite cameras on the operations building, and
it looks as if it has suffered some damage,” Isaac added with worry in his
“What type of
damage?” Mase asked now feeling deep concern for the men and women who were
assigned to that building. Normally there were eight people in the operations
building on the massif. He waited expectantly for Isaac’s answer.
“It looks as
if part of the roof has caved in on the southern section of the building. If I
had to make a guess, I’d say it was a small meteor strike.”
for the men to start loading. Turning back to Isaac, “I will contact you as
soon as we know something. Have the medical staff standing by in case they’re
the shuttle was in flight heading toward the towering massif and the operations
building. Mase looked back at the men who were busy checking their equipment.
This was one of the larger shuttles specifically outfitted to carry out rescue
missions. Occasionally, a scientific mission would get into trouble out on the lunar
surface, and the shuttle would be used to go to their aid.
after years of exploration, there were still science teams all over the Moon
doing research. They were expected to check in with Tycho City on a regular
basis, and occasionally they got into trouble.
quickly brought the shuttle over the top of the massif and then slowly circled
the area where the operations building was located. The operations building was
built on a small flat area nearly in the center of the towering mountain with
numerous antenna towers surrounding it.