“Tell me again why we’ve got to put up with this tourist.”

“Because the French want him here and our government want to keep them sweet.”

“Oh for f… This is a scientific mission, not the White House lawn!”

“He has scientific credentials ..”

“He’s a botanist!”

“I know.”

“Coming to a lump of rock with no atmosphere and so no native plant life … no life period!”

“You’ve heard the story. He’s done the training. He’s landing any time now, so give it a rest.”

The speaker in the wall announced “Touch down in 5 minutes.” The reception party sat and chewed on their own thoughts.

“Touch down in 1 minute.”

“Touch down in 30 seconds … in 20 seconds … in 10 seconds. Landing completed.”

There was the hum of machinery as the docking corridor connected with the craft and the hiss of the air pressures being equalised. Then the door to Moonbase 3 opened and their guest walked in … a little unsteadily in the low gravity.

“Welcome to the Moon M. Cyrano. I’m Steven Corrigan, commander of this station, and this is my second-in-command and head of science, Gus McMurdo.”

“Pleased to meet you. Please call me Matthieu .. or Matthew, if you prefer.”

“So, how was the flight Matthieu?”

“Splendide. Fantastique. A real experience after all that preparation, but slower than I imagined.”

“I know. Everyone thinks so but we don’t want people crash landing. Now, do you want to rest or can we offer you some refreshment?”

“A beer would be wonderful. Do you have such?”

“Yes we do, but only low alcohol because of the low gravity.”

“Low gravity beer would be fine.”

They sat in the refectory with their drinks. The visitor drained his glass in one go.

“Please excuse me, I was thirsty.”

“That’s alright, we’re used to incomers being a little dehydrated,” said Corrigan, “that’s why we got you two.”

The Frenchman took a swig of his second beer and regarded the other two – Corrigan looking bland and McMurdo somewhat irritable.

“Go on then. Ask me.”

“Ask you what?” asked Corrigan.

“Where is the nose?”


“Oh, come on. You must know the story of my ancestor and his long proboscis! Don’t worry, I am used to it. ”

Corrigan’s face reddened and McMurdo appeared baffled.

“It never crossed my mind.”

“Then you are exceptional people.”

“We are.” McMurdo announced.

“Good. That saves time, but do you know why I was chosen for this mission?”