by Cathan L. Moore
Copyright 2010 Cathan L. Moore
A Norawest Smith story
A Gender Switch Adventure
Norawest Smith leaned against a pile of hemp-wrapped bales from the Martian drylands and stared with expressionless eyes, paler than pale steel, over the confusion of the Lakkdarol space-port before her. In the clear Martian day the tatters of her leather spacewoman's garb were pitilessly plain, the ray-burns and the rents of a hundred casual brawls. It was evident at a glance that Smith had fallen upon evil days. One might have guessed by the shabbiness of her clothing that her pockets were empty, the charge in her ray gun low.
Squatting on her heels beside the lounging Earthwoman, Yarola the Venusian bent her yellow head absently over the thin-bladed dagger which she was juggling in one of the queer, interminable Venusian games so pointless to outsiders. Upon her too the weight of ill fortune seemed to have pressed heavily. It was eloquent in her own shabby garments, her empty holster. But the insouciant face she lifted to Smith was as careless as ever, and no more of weariness and wisdom and pure cat-savagery looked out from her sidelong black eyes than Smith was accustomed to see there. Yard's face was the face of a seraph, as so many Venusian faces are likely to be, but the set of her mouth told a tale of dissoluteness and reckless violence which belied her features' racial good looks.
'Another half-hour and we eat,' she grinned up at her tall companion.
Smith glanced at the tri-time watch on her wrist.
'If you haven't been having another dope dream,' she grunted. 'Luck's been against us so long I can't quite believe in a change now.'
'By Pharol I swear it,' smiled Yarola. ' 'The woman came up to me in the New Chicago last night and told me in so many words how much money was waiting if we 'd meet her here at noon.'