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A snicker rippled through the passengers. It was a stupid-ass joke, but comedic gold to the tourists.

The train set off. It was utterly smooth. No rocking, no shaking, nothing like that. It ran on an electric motor (obviously) and the tracks never had to deal with the warping effects of weather. Plus, there wasn’t much weight on them, compared to Earth tracks.

Each row of seats had a porthole window. Passengers eagerly took turns looking at the drab, rocky landscape. Why did it excite them so much? It’s a bunch of gray rocks. Who gives a shit?

A frumpy Midwestern woman giggled at her window and turned to me. “Isn’t it amazing?! We’re on the moon!”

“Ma’alesh, ana ma’aref Englizy,” I said with a shrug.

She turned to another passenger. “Isn’t it amazing?! We’re on the moon!”

Nothing like a language barrier to make people leave you alone.

I brought up an Arabic gossip webzine on my Gizmo. I just wanted an excuse to keep my head down. Fortunately, Raj was manning the controls and facing away.

By the time we arrived, I had learned all about the latest scandal in the Saudi royal family. The crown prince had cheated on his wives. Two of them had filed for divorce under the Islamic law of Khula, but the other two were standing by him. I was halfway through reading the queen’s quote on the situation when the train came to a stop.

The familiar sounds of the docking procedure clanged through the car and Raj shouted “End of the liiine!”

He walked to the door and opened it. “Apollo 11 Visitor Center! Have an excellent stay!”

We all crowded out of the train and found ourselves in a gift shop. Some folks stopped there, but most of us continued forward to the Viewing Hall. That entire side of the center was floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the landing site.

A well-manicured docent greeted the crowd as we approached the glass. I averted my eyes. Yet another person I knew. Goddamn, it’s annoying to commit crimes in a small town.

Gunter Eichel had emigrated to Artemis ten years earlier with his stepsister, Ilsa. They came because they were ostracized in Germany for being a couple. Yes, really. That’s why they emigrated. We don’t care what people do, sex-wise, as long as everyone’s a consenting adult. (Though some folks stretch the definition of “adult.”)

Anyway, he and I weren’t friends or anything. My disguise would be fine.

He waited for people to conglomerate, then launched into his presentation. “Welcome to Tranquility Base. Come on up to the glass, there’s plenty of room for everyone.”

We moved forward and lined up against the giant windows. The lander sat where it had been for the last century, alongside experimental packages that the old-time astronauts had laid out.

“You may notice the Viewing Hall windows follow a weird path,” Gunter said. “Why not just a half-circle or a straight line? Well, we have a rule that nothing is allowed within ten meters of any part of an Apollo landing site. The definition of ‘any part’ includes the lander, equipment, tools, the commemorative plaque, and even the footprints left behind by the astronauts. The Viewing Hall is built so that each window is just over ten meters from the nearest part of the site. Feel free to wander along the hall to get a look from different angles.”

Some of the tourists had already walked along the serpentine wall. But with Gunter’s suggestion, several more began the trek.

“If you’re nervous about a pane of glass separating you from the vacuum of space, don’t be. These windows are twenty-three centimeters thick to protect you from the radiation. That has a side effect of making them the strongest part of the Visitor Center’s hull. And, I’m proud to point out, the glass was manufactured right here on the moon. A small amount of regolith dust was added to darken it. Otherwise the sunlight from outside would be blinding.”

He gestured to the landing site. “The Eagle, named after the national bird of the United States, landed July twentieth, 1969. What you see here is the Eagle’s Descent Stage. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the Ascent Stage back into lunar orbit at the end of their mission.”

The tourists pressed against the windows, entranced at what they saw. I took a long look myself. Hey, I’m not made of stone. I love my city and its history. The Eagle is a big part of that.

“Every Apollo mission planted an American flag,” Gunter said. “So where is it? Well, when the Ascent Stage lifted off, the exhaust knocked the poor flag over. Then, the dust that had been kicked up covered it. If you look closely on the ground, just to the left of the Eagle, you can see a small patch of white. That’s the only bit of the flag still visible.”

The crowd murmured as people pointed out the white bit to one another.

“For later missions, they figured out to put the flags farther away.”

A small chuckle came from the crowd.

“Interesting side note: All the other flags have been exposed to unfiltered sunlight during lunar days for over a hundred years. They’ve been bleached completely white now. But Tranquility Base’s flag is under a thin layer of regolith. So it probably still looks like it did back in 1969. Of course, no one is allowed to enter or modify the landing site to take a look.”

He clasped his hands behind his back. “We hope you enjoy the history and beauty of Tranquility Base. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.”

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