When he crawled out of the tunnel at headquarters nobody was there. Rida had confirmed the issue and hall had been repaired. He found her standing on the railing overlooking Docking Bay.

Docking bay. He thought Bout the literal meaning of it and how shocked he’d been when he learned that as a young boy. A place for ships to dock. Ships from Earth, the big blue ball that shown down on them from time to time. Intellectually he knew they all had begun there, but for him it was a legend. A myth. An unattainable mystical dream to tell stories and dream about but nothing more.

Docking bay to him was just a name for the large open area below central command where all the fans were installed. When the originals had given up on redness from Earth they had begun using Docking Bay to construct the machinery they would need to subsist. Fabs to process raw materials an minerals into tubes and hoses and gears and silicon. Cyclers to take waste products and break out the molecules into reusable growth media, water and even air.

The originals had begin the strict regimen of zero degradation that he had grown up in. Everything was re-used. Anything lost outside the hatches was lost forever. What they had could not be replaced. Each molecule could be re-used, recycled, reformed and refitted, but if they couldn’t find it outside in the Lunar dirt, it could not be replaced.

The originals began an index to track the degradation of materials over time and make sure they could stop leaks and losses quickly. All values started at 1. Recently a few had dropped perilously close to zero. When those ran out it would cause hardship. Hydrogen, Oxygen and Carbon were the most important. Their indexes were perilously low. He had argued with Rida about whether they would approach zero in their lifetime. She was convinced they would.

And now instead of meeting him at the exit hatch to comb over the data of the repair job and how it would effect cycle rates and nudge the indexes, she stood quietly looking out over the machines chugging away in Docking Bay.

“We’ll have to clear it,” she said as he got close to her.

She had been pessimistic before but this was ridiculous. What had set her off?

“Oh come on Rida, don’t be melodramatic, even if you’re right in a decade or so, the machines are what keeps the index–”

“No,” she turned and showed him a bloodless face painted with fear. “We’ll have to clear it for them, Warren.”

“Who?” he asked concerned. He wasn’t sure she was OK. Should he call Infirm? “Who’s them?”

“The Earth-men. They answered,” she began to sob.

He dropped his tools, as his brain attempted to reconcile his understanding of everything.”