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It was the cleanest spaceport McCade had ever seen. He stood for a moment at the head of the landing ramp, looking around at the spotless concrete, the sparkling buildings, the clear sky. The Dovetail was the only ship on the apron, and there were no other people as far as he could see. But it was clean. He could imagine the cleaners coming out of some shed somewhere after the Dovetail left again, in two days, polishing away all signs of its ever having been there.

A breeze came from the west and brought with it the scent of trees and growing things. He knew the port, in the Red Dog district of Loger, was at the edge of the city, but to have no city smell at all was very strange. Every city he’d ever been in, on every world, had had a city smell. Maybe when the wind changed the true aroma of this place would return.

As he stood he saw a low, broad vehicle come out of one of the terminal buildings, all glass and chrome, and come floating centimeters above the ground toward the Dovetail in a graceful, unhurried curve. And then he felt a touch at his elbow.

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