Dr. Leana Sokolov sat in the observation lounge of the Orbital Research Center and looked down at the Earth. She could still remember the first time she had come here with her father, how blue it had seemed from orbit. She had thought there would be more green, but it was the blue and the white of the clouds which stood out in her memory.
Her father had been a researcher on the ORC for almost sixty years, and yet nothing had ever changed things. No country, no law, no lobby had ever managed to prevent the decay of their home. Now the color that dominated the view was brown. She closed her eyes and looked away.
She herself had worked here for almost thirty years now. She had been on the team that had created a break-through: a gene in the structure of certain plants that could be altered to allow for a 27 day “day”. It was the gene that would make lunar farming possible.
The Committee had been in deliberations for months over a very controversial plan to raise the required funding to move to full-scale trials. Today they were expected to make their decision.
She glanced up when she heard a polite cough and smiled. “Dr. Gonzales.”
He set a cup of coffee down in front of her. “The Committee just passed the measure.”
She nodded, still not certain how she felt about it herself. “Have they set a price yet?”
“1.2 million per acre.”
She raised one eyebrow. “That’s a little excessive for land they’ll never see, don’t you think?”
“They’re rich,” he said, taking a seat opposite her at the small table. “It’s just vanity property. Besides, they’ll see it every night. Sort of.”
“That isn’t the same thing and you know it.”
“Look, they’ll buy an acre or two, get their title, ‘soil’ sample, and bragging rights. Meanwhile, we’ll get the funds without ever having to lift a finger beyond some survey data.”
She took a drink of the coffee, more to be polite than because she really wanted it at that moment. “What about China?”
He waved his hand dismissively. “It’s not as if we’re actually claiming any kind of ownership-”
“Except we are, if we give title deeds.”
“No, no; think of it as more of a…” he searched for the right word for a moment, then with a grin said, “sponsorship.”
“But that isn’t how you plan on presenting it to-”
“Semantics. Look, let the lawyers do what they do, we don’t have to worry about that. All we have to do is keep the revenue high enough to fund our work.”
She shook her head, her lips pressed into a thin line. “It just seems wrong. Wars have started over less, you know.”
“We aren’t politicians, Leana.”
“You’re sounding more like one every day.”
He frowned at the comparison. “We’re scientists, and we have an obligation. Think of all the good we’ll finally be able to do!”
She nodded, not really agreeing with him but agreeing with the understanding that the research had to continue, it was the only option left. “So, we get the funding. We build the bio-domes, we go to full trials, we expand the colony…”
“And we turn the moon green.”
She looked back at Earth. “Let’s hope we can keep it that way.”