Nils departed Conrad Lunar Station, driving his pressurized crawler. He imagined the station would become the hub of lunar activity associated with the Lunadyne Corporation. His hab wasn’t far off, allowing him to be away from the center of activity and on his own. The whole point of his being here had been to build up the Moon. He knew Lunadyne was an excellent group to be associated with, but he didn’t work for the company. He was an independent–one of the first.
The crawler was the center of his life on the Moon. He knew it was necessary for transportation and work. Nils knew that without the crawler, it would limit him to Conrad Station and the company would either conscript him for work or send him back to Earth. Neither of which appealed to him. He planned to do freelance activities. Before he arrived, Nils knew there would always be someone on Earth that needed a pair of hands on the Moon. The crawler enabled him to travel and offer his skills wherever they were required.
As he drove, he considered the list of jobs that had arrived through his broker. Using the broker had been a last-minute consideration. He wanted to handle it himself, but connections to enough people would prove impossible on the Moon’s surface. The broker would send a list, Nils would review it and select a job, negotiate a price, and pay ten percent as a fee. He’d worked through the last list, enabling him to make a down payment on the delivery of supplies.
Scanning the list while the crawler automatically drove the path toward his habitat, Nils noticed one that he realized he needed to avoid taking. Someone wanted to hire him to look for diamonds on the rim of Copernicus Crater. He knew that was impossible. The geology for the Moon was all wrong to form diamond. There wasn’t a sufficient source of carbon on the lifeless Moon. Knowing the answer beforehand, he didn’t want to spend a significant amount of money on conducting the survey. He called the brokerage firm.
“This is Nils Carmike,” he said once he reached the voice of a human operator. “I need to review one of the potential clients that is on my list.”
“Is there a problem with the price of the job, Mister Carmike?” asked the Broker in her smooth voice after the two second delay to Earth. “We established the prices based upon the work instructions that you provided to us.”
“Regardless, the price is outrageous for this job. Obviously, someone has deceived the individual who made the request at this outrageous price. There are no diamonds on the Moon, other than the once we brought with us.”
“That’s a shame, Mister Carmike. We have no processes to deal with this kind of discrepancy.”
“Tell you what,” said Nils. “We need to fix this, or I will end my contract with your firm. Because of my reputation, I cannot exploit someone’s lack of knowledge about the Moon on purpose.”
“Hold on a moment, Mister Carmike. I will arrange for you to discuss this with the client.”
“What is wrong with diamonds?” asked the man, called Herald.
Nils could tell that he was elderly but did not know how old.
“Sir, you don’t know me,” said Nils. “But I’ve been working on the Moon already more than anyone and been studying it far longer. Believe me when I say that the Moon doesn’t have diamonds.”
“I’m afraid that my nephew insists that this is correct.”
“If I may, how much did the mineral rights to the area cost you?”
“I think it was about three million,” said Herald. “I’ll have to look at my accounts to get the exact amount.”
“Did you get the rights because the seller insisted there were diamonds?”
“Yeah, I’m no fool. I wouldn’t have got rights without a sample.”
“You have raw diamonds that they claim came from the Moon?” asked Nils.
“Yes. I have them in a baggy in the drawer. One second, let me get them.”
“Yeah,” said Harald. “I have them here.”
“Can you describe them to me?”
“They are little rocks, mostly clear.”
“Are there any inclusions that are colored?” asked Nils.
“I see some color. What was that word you said?”
“Inclusion. It means that it’s buried inside the crystal.”
“I can’t really tell,” Herald said. “Some look on the surface.”
“What color are the stones?”
“Mostly gray, maybe slightly green.”
“Herald, I can tell you that these rocks might not be diamonds. I would get them tested. The cost of the survey means it will take me a day to complete. That cost covers all the expenses of me being on the Moon for that day.”
“That means that covers the cost of shipping all the water I drink, the food I eat, and even the air I breathe. That is a roundabout way of saying my services are expensive. I’d like you to have your samples checked first. If your samples are legitimately diamonds and the examiners will verify that they are not from the Earth, then I’ll go out to your site and look for diamonds.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes Harold, I fear that they have duped you and I don’t want to add to your financial burden to prove that to you by taking a day at your site and finding nothing. I would call your local police as well and report the fraud. You can give them my number.”
Nils closed the connection after reassuring the man that the situation was serious. Even though the money would have been easy, he knew someone other than him might take it. He hoped Harold would take his advice and verify those diamonds.