You stop yourself from letting out a sign of frustration, almost reflexive after dealing with this so long. Tranquility Base...
It was supposed to, as its name implied, be a beacon of peace: a symbol of the day that the east and west put their differences aside for the good of humanity and allow mankind to reach beyond their cradle. The lunar city had seemed to do just that: together the United States and the Soviets walked on our Moon, and once the satellite's resource potential was realized, it was only a relatively short span of years before the Base was even considered self-sufficient. Technological breakthroughs inspired by the necessities of life in space would enrich the lives of those still earthbound, while those seeking to make their fortunes flooded to the new colony. Some people began to hope that this truly was a new chapter in the history of Man.
Nothing can last forever, though, and if the first successful extraterrestrial colony marked a new chapter in human history, this chapter was still just as bloody. Soviet hardliners, incensed over the amount of resources that went into supporting the nascent Eros Program during a particularly bad harvest in Russia, would eventually replace Nikita Khrushchev with Vyacheslav Molotov, who brutally reversed every aspect of de-Stalinization he could, and reforged ties with red China to face reactionary opponents in Asia.
Indian and Chinese soldiers soldiers skirmished over disputed borders in the Himalayas while Russian missile bases peppered Jammu and Kashmir. Artillery barrages were exchanged between imperial forces and the PLA almost weekly across the Straight of Taiwan. If it weren't for the emergence of the Azad Hind as a nuclear state and Nixon restoring relations with the Japanese, the world might have descended into a third world war.
For the sake of diplomatic pragmatism, the hardliners still supported Tranquility Base at a greatly reduced fervor, but the Russians were pushed to the edge after President Nixon came to power on a platform condemning Kennedy for allowing Asia, at least those nations not still held by the Japanese or under the influence of the Azad Hind to quietly fall to communism. The political tension would in the end strangle not just aid from both governments that had previously gone into the base's flourishing but also the ability of the station administration, heavily dependent on both governments for defense needs, to put any sort of check on the leftist and rightwing movements constantly challenging the authority of Earth-based countries over their new home as well as an end to most traffic to and from the Moon.
You were young, but you still have vague memories of ads showing the effects of withdrawing support from the Moon: small stations around the main Tranquility Base abandoned due to lack of material for maintenance, dark and pock-marked by micrometeorites. Later you'd learn of how malnutrition, fighting with dissident groups, lack of Earth-manufactured drugs, and inadequate fuel for body disposal had led to several minor Outbreaks on the Moon.
After years of fruitlessly petitioning the powers of Earth for a resolution to the crisis as their economy stagnated and much-needed medical supplies became scarce, Tranquility was pushed to the boiling point. After quietly negotiating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Luna, the largest of the anti-government forces, the Tranquility Administration and leftists joined together in detaining American and Warsaw Pact military personnel as well as loyalist members of the Eros program, declaring the formation of a Lunar Provisional Government that requested UN protection, and proceeding to purge the rightwing America First movement. Despite outrage from both eastern and western governments, preparations for nearby American and Sino-Soviet bases to recapture the Tranquility colony-cluster, an uprising by UNGA members against a "Lunar War", the success in the United States of pro-Lunar propaganda showing the deterioration of the base after withdrawal of aid, and the potential economic impact of cutting off lunar resource shipments instead brought the Earth and Luna to the negotiation table.
The outcome, of course, is history: while the Free Government of Luna was given UN aid and a peacekeeping force, a bitter US, USSR, and China made sure that the majority of the peacekeeping force was supplied by them and proceeded to reliably protect only the small consular enclaves granted to them. Tensions between the RAFL and former Tranquility Administration officials making up part of the Free Government would boil over into bloodshed and a political cold war, with the base divided not just between the United States, Warsaw Pact, and the Lunarians, but also competing factions led by former Defense Staff Colonel turned "Marshal" A. Cankov and RAFL-backed Administrator Kurt Leitner, former head of the Eros Science team. Combined with lax regulations on immigration as well as Cankov-influenced lack of oversight for entrepreneurs, the Tranquility City of today is a lawless place marred by corporate exploitation, espionage, urban decay, and factional skirmishes.
As a whole, the United States government is happy to let the Lunarians rot as long as their own people are safe and free to make money from Lunar resources. That said, the plight of the Lunarian underclass isn't lost on everyone, and as one of the cornerstones of modern American philanthropy, the charitable Donovan Foundation is one of the bigger players in lobbying sympathetic U.S. congressmen and businesses alike to support humanitarian aid to Tranquility City, as well as using its endowment to finance aid itself. While lately most aid directly from the Foundation has been financial, your department is responsible for a number of social workers deployed to the moon following a series of RAFL bombings and gunfights with Cankov-loyal security forces as well as U.N. peacekeepers.
For your part, you think sending a bunch of therapists to a warzone was pretty stupid, but the deployment wasn't up to you, just making sure that everyone's ducks were in a row for getting and staying there, and making sure that nobody created a diplomatic incident or embezzled Foundation money once they arrived. That said, even if you'd have insisted on making sure they were better protected, if it were your call you would have sent them, too. From the rebuilding of New York after the Outbreak of 1944 to the worst of Jim Crow, helping out those no one else wants to help where no one else wants to go is just what the Foundation does, and you're not here to change that.
If anything, it's your calling to make sure it does that even better, and you have a lot to live up to if you're going to prove you're capable of that: you're among the youngest of your cousins, most of them accomplished professionals in their own fields, and you've never quite felt that you were able to measure up to them. Not that you get the feeling they see you as incompetent, so much as invisible: sent off to boarding school in England after your mother died, you barely saw most of them apart from holidays for half your life, and you have little to your name but education and drive. The only family member you've had regular contact with for the past several years is, in fact, the one you feel least equal to: the grandmother who has sat at the helm of the Foundation since pouring most of her fortune into it upon arriving in America over half a century ago: Dolores Nadine Donovan, president of the Donovan Foundation.
You pull yourself from your thoughts and in the end let the frustrated sigh out anyway, but don't vent your feelings on the situation with much more than that.
"How are they? Have any of our doctors taken a look at them yet, or are they at one of those overcrowded Lunarian hospitals?" You keep your voice even, but you're genuinely concerned. There may not have been much in your power to prevent them being grabbed off of the street in one of Tranquility's slums, but they're still your people, and you can't help but feel responsible for them to some degree.
After a prolonged lack of a response, you turn from the window to see Nissen holding the files and looking especially nervous. Your heart sinks a little as you notice the thickness of the files he's brought you and realize whatever is in the reports he's brought you, it didn't end with security forces recovering those workers by rescuing them.
He can't quite meet your eyes, obviously worried about your response to the news. "They didn't, uh- They didn't make it, Ms. Donovan."
You let that statement sink in for a moment.
>"We'll need to contact their families."
>"Do we have any idea who did this?"
>"I think I need a moment."
[So, pardon if some of the explanations got rather tl;dr. In the end, I decided to err on the side of more information given there is... well, quite a lot of things that have gone on prior to current events. With most of the broad stuff frontloaded, any future explanations will likely be much more brief, fortunately. You will take my textwalls and you will love them.]
So yes, this is an alt-history. The P.O.D. is in the late 20s