Solon Waystation loomed large in Jeena's field of view as her pod made its final approach. She seemed to be headed towards the junkyard. A decrepit, abandoned hulk was docked dead ahead.
"COMMAND: Where are we going?" she asked her pod.
"Solon Waystation, docking at Port 58," it answered.
No way, not right next to that old beater!
"COMMAND: Over-ride. Park at port 59."
Her pod dutifully obliged, and a moment later, she stepped into the station. Jeena winced.
It was even worse than she had imagined - dark, dingy, and bitterly cold. The lack of upkeep was inexcusable. Equipment was randomly strewn about the floor in the corridor. And it smelled bad.
What a dump! How can people live in such squalor?
"COMMAND: increase the local lighting by 50%," she ordered.
Nothing happened. Evidently, the station was so outdated, it couldn’t understand free-form commands. She spoke loudly and distinctly.
No response. Every waystation, even the most rural, had a Concierge menu. How was she supposed to find anything here, anyway?
"COMMAND: emergency communication. COMMAND: emergency communication!!"
Something was very wrong; this could not simply have been poor design or maintenance. From the moment Jeena stepped through the airlock, something had seemed off, and she suddenly realized what it was. There were supposed to be upwards of 200 people on Solon Waystation, not including transients.
Where are all the scents? Nobody has been here for almost a week - well, except for one male.
The trail was fresh; she didn't even need to inhale to follow it. It led her to the showers. Clearly, he had been there, recently, and had applied deodorant -- Old Spice #209, nice choice -- and then had gone down the corridor to the left. She continued walking and soon found herself outside the Commander's office. Jackpot!! She had planned to have Commander Yastrow take her out for dinner, anyway.
Jeena took her Scenter pendant, and stroked its edges. It transformed into a mirror, which she used to perform a quick sanity check. With another touch, the mirror became a brush, with which she brought her hair back to full sheen. She reached down to press the special spot on her her flats to extend them into full heels, and tuned their color to Glossy Scenter Green. Lastly, she straightened out her suit, taking particular care to adjust The Girls to maximum advantage. After resetting her pendant to its default shape, she adhered it to her left shoulder, letting the chain fall gracefully across her breasts, accentuating the curves there.
Peeking through the open door, she saw the commander with his back to her, fiddling with a console at the far wall of the cabin. But wait, that wasn't a commander’s uniform. . .
Oh, no, no, no!! Not HIM!! Is the Universe punishing me for something?? The only other person on Solon, and it has to be The Dork.
Restraining her justifiable anger, Jeena asked, "Intern, what's going on here?"
"That's what I've been trying to figure-- " Skip began as he turned around, but stopped with an audible gasp at the dazzling hazel eyes before him, set in a stunning olive-skinned face, framed by mounds of lustrous, flowing raven hair.
The usual reaction, she mentally sighed, in mild annoyance. Love-ly. I don't have time for this! Okay, granted, this boy does have half a gram of class- at least he's looking me in the eyes.
"Intern, I asked you a question," she repeated.
"Oh, um, I have no idea what's going on, except that the Station Mind is completely gone. Obviously, no one could leave a message without the Mind, but there could still be others around who know what happened. We'll have to go cabin-to-cabin. There's no comm, not even public address."
"There aren't any others here."
"How can you be so sure?"
Jeena looked at him with open-mouthed incredulity. Could this backwoods boy really be that stupid?
YOU ARE READING
Last Pod out of SolonScience Fiction
Mengs are selected for their innate math aptitude. They may be male or female, and span the spectrum of physical attractiveness. Scenters, on the other hand, are invariably female. Moreover, they are VERY female... --- The photo on the cover is c...