21. TROUBLE ON LUMNA 2*

Is one of the Lumna 2 council a secret supporter of men’s lib?
Tony has the tricky job of finding out.

On Lumna 2, the women treat the men like slaves.  The President suspects that one of her council is a secret supporter of men’s lib.  She asks the Federation to send someone to discover the traitor.  She is not pleased when Tony, a mere male, arrives to investigate.

Length : 6 800 words.

1

ONE MIND, CLEAR ABOVE THE OTHERS.

I checked my wrist unit as I hurried through the Shuttle Station. I was late for a meeting with Martin, my boss. Not very late, but he’d asked me to meet the President of a planet, and presidents of planets don’t like to be kept waiting.

The Shuttle Station on Yband 4 was as busy as usual. Since I’m from Earth, I can sense the feelings of the people from other planets. Around me, there was lots to sense as other travellers gave out the usual mixture of feelings – interest, relief, impatience and boredom, but I was used to it so I didn’t notice it, like the babble of voices in a busy Earth railway station.

Until I sensed one mind, clear above the others. It was excited – and murderous.

2

HIS?

A Shuttle Station is a wide corridor. Along one side are the deep bays containing the doors of the shuttles, for travelling to distant planets. The other side has shallow bays with benches for sitting.

I went back, and traced the thought to a man, sitting at one end of a bench. When I sat at the other end, he gave me an unfriendly look but, deciding I was just a kid, turned his attention to the travellers streaming past.

I studied him secretly, ready to look innocently away if he glanced at me again. He was humanlike, with black hair and eyebrows, above deep-set dark eyes. His clothing….

His? Forgetting to be cautious, I stared at her. Because this wasn’t a man: it was a woman. It’s usually easy to tell a man’s thoughts from a woman’s. A woman’s thought’s are softer: it’s hard to explain. In this person, the womanlike thoughts were almost submerged by ruthless determination.

The clothes didn’t help. She wore a shapeless black tunic and trousers. The cloth looked stiff and rough. Her right hand, nearer me, was in her trousers pocket.

Among the crowds, I looked for another Federation agent that I could ask for help. Yband 4 has the local Federation headquarters, so a lot of agents use that Shuttle Station. Not at that time. Among all the colours that jostled past, there wasn’t the pale grey of a Federation uniform.

The woman’s excitement rose. She was watching another person who was striding through the station. It looked like a man of the same race as the woman, with black hair covering his ears. He(?) didn’t push others out of his way, but they seemed to melt away in front of him. His clothes were the same as the woman’s but, over them, he wore a cloak with curly patterns in all the colours of the rainbow.

As he came level with us, the waiting woman got to her feet, pulling something black from her pocket.