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“Will do. Later.” I hung up.

Dale shook his head. “Man, your dad really hates me. And it’s not about Tyler either. He hated me before all that.”

“Not for the reasons you think,” I said. “I still remember when I told him you were gay. I thought he’d be pissed off, but he was relieved. He actually smiled.”

“Huh?” Dale said.

“Once he found out you weren’t nailing me, he warmed up to you a lot. But then, you know, then came the whole stealing-my-boyfriend thing.”


We crested a small rise and saw the flatlands ahead of us. The Berm stood a hundred meters away. Just beyond it would be the reactor complex and Sanchez’s bubble.

“Fifteen minutes till we get there,” Dale said, apparently reading my thoughts. “Nervous?”

“Shitting myself.”

“Good,” he said. “I know you think you’re flawless on EVAs, but remember you flunked that test.”

“Thanks for the pep talk.”

“I’m just saying a little humility’s good on an EVA.”

I stared out the side window. “Believe me, this past week has been humiliating enough.”

I looked at the silver dome of the Sanchez smelter bubble. Again.

My previous visit had been just six days earlier, but it seemed like forever ago. Of course, things were a little different this time. There’d only be one harvester out there doing its thing. That’s okay, I wasn’t after the harvester, anyway. That was old news.

Dale brought us up to the edge of the bubble, did a three-point turn, and pointed the rear of the rover at the wall.

“Distance?” he asked.

I checked my screen. “Two point four meters.” Proximity readouts are a frilly feature for cars on Earth, but critically important for lunar rovers. Crashing your pressure vessel into things is bad. It can lead to unscheduled dying.

Satisfied, Dale engaged the physical brake. “All right. Ready to suit up?”


We climbed out of our chairs and crawled to the rear of the vessel.

We both stripped down to our underwear. (What? I’m supposed to be demure around the gay guy?) Then we put on our coolant garments. The daylight outside could boil water—EVA suits need central cooling.

Next came the pressure suits themselves. I helped him into his and he helped me into mine. Finally, we did pressure tests, tank tests, readout tests, and a bunch of other shit.

Once all the checks were done, we prepared to egress.

The rover airlock could fit two, though it was snug. We squeezed in and sealed the hatch.

“Ready for depress?” Dale asked via the radio.

“Pretty depressed, yeah,” I said.

“Don’t joke around. Not with airlock procedures.”

“Sheesh, you really suck the air out of the room, you know that?”


“Copy, ready for decompression.”

He turned a crank. Air hissed from the chamber to the vacuum outside. No need for a high-tech pump system. It’s not like oxygen was in short supply; thanks to smelting, Artemis had so much we didn’t know what to do with it all….

For the moment, anyway (evil sardonic laugh).

He spun the handle, pushed the door open, and stepped out. I followed.

He climbed the ladder to the rover’s roof and unhitched the rigging. I went to the other side and did the same. Then, together, we lowered the modified air shelter to the ground.

Weighing in at five hundred kilograms, it took both of us to make sure it came down gently.

“Try to keep dust off the skirt,” I said.


Dad had done a number on the shelter. You could hardly recognize it. It had a large hole in the rear with a half-meter-wide aluminum skirt all around it. It looked like an engine bell. Some might say putting a huge hole in a pressure vessel is a bad idea. I have no rebuttal.

I clambered back up to the rover’s roof and collected my welding gear. “Ready to receive?”

He positioned himself below me and held up his arms. “Ready.”

I handed him the tanks, torches, tool belt, and other accessories I’d need for the job. He placed each on the ground. Finally, I pulled a huge bag out of its dedicated container.

“Here comes the inflatable tunnel,” I said. I shoved it off the roof.

He caught it and laid it on the ground.

I hopped off the roof and landed next to him.

“You shouldn’t jump down that far,” he said.

“You shouldn’t fuck other people’s boyfriends.”

“Oh, come on!”

“I could get used to this new relationship we have,” I said. “Help me get all this crap over to the bubble.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Together we carried or dragged everything to the wall.

The arc of the dome, broken into two-meter triangles, was vertical at ground level. I selected a reasonably clean triangle and dusted it off with a wire brush. There’s no weather on the moon, but there is static electricity. Fine lunar dust gets everywhere and sticks to everything with the slightest charge.

“Okay, this one,” I said. “Help me move the shelter into position.”

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