Chapter One - Summerset/Europa
July 12, 2105 - Inner Summerset
The ringing reached into Enjo's sleep and pulled her awake. She rose from the couch, yawned and glanced at the time. Only three hours had passed. Still, the brief rest had done her good; her headache was gone. She paused in front of the mirror, pushed long, dark fingers through her black curls, and curved her lips into a sultry smile before she touched the control panel of her communication station.
"Hello," she said, pushing the word out low and vibrant toward the blank screen.
An unfamiliar male voice answered, "Hello, Enjo." The voice was medium-pitched and rather flat; not distinctive, except for the hint of an accent she didn't recognize. "I'm not at a console; pick up a hand phone."
"Of course," she said. She let go of the smile, but continued in the same seductive voice. "I don't think I know you, do I?"
She heard a transmission crackle and realized the voice was digitally altered - that explained what she had thought was an accent.
"Are you free now?"
"Yes, sure." Enjo answered with a shrug. Her voice had lost some of its seductiveness.
"I will meet you in The Hold, Outer Summerset. The safe underground. You'll hear the music." The expressionless voice paused. "I have a surprise for you."
"That's terrific," she said. "I'll-" The phone went dead. She put it down on the console and went back to the mirror. She was dissatisfied with her reflection, but there was no time for a major makeover. At least, she could change. She looked at the clothes scattered around her and shook her head.
"What a mess!" She retrieved a blanket from the floor and threw it over the unmade bed.
She showered, then explored the room until she found high heels and a clinging red dress. She threw on a long, black coat and left her quarters as always without bothering to lock the door. Soon she was walking alone through an area protected from the elements that posed a permanent threat to habitation on this icy moon.
Cathy Neolar was her official name; it had been a favorite alias on Earth, but most of her clients here knew her as Enjo. Even without the heels she was a tall woman, slender, with long, smooth muscles and silky black skin. In about ten minutes she reached the Underground. The area was well lit but she was cold. Her dress was almost transparent and the coat wasn't heavy enough to keep out the chill. The outer walls of Summerset formed an immense translucent anti-radiation shroud that veiled the inner city from the icecap-ridges and the endless glacier-crust. In places it was over ten kilometers thick. Below it sat a hundred kilometer deep ocean of slushy ice.
Inside the walls, the main housing areas and the scientific complex comprised Inner Summerset. Sections of newly-broken ice-crust of the moon's mantle appeared here and there, but otherwise it was like a fortress with a subterranean labyrinth of storage areas, arenas, workplaces and vehicle parking, carved out of the ice and connected by a maze of heated tunnels that served as hallways. The Underground was the twilight area between Outer and Inner Summerset, and Enjo descended into its tunnels.
She heard music at a distance and walked toward it. It wasn't unusual that the caller's voice had been changed for one reason or another. Arrangements for a spragge meeting were often made in secret and the encounter was by definition quick, anonymous sex. Sometimes the client would be disguised or even wear a mask. In spite of the unrecognizable voice, Enjo had a feeling this was one of her regular clients. She could usually guess who it was. Sometimes they even paid with their chip cards - name, picture and all. She was approaching a storage area for mining and exploration vehicles. The pungent smell of cement and grout met her nostrils, but the place was clean. More important, there were no monitors here. The music was clearer now. A sad, resentful voice was singing a doleful lyric. The volume was muted and it was closer than she'd first thought.
YOU ARE READING
Murder at SummersetScience Fiction
A story a hundred years into the future, set alternatively on the moon Europa, and in America.