Hilary was sat at the transfer station waiting for the next shuttle. This was going to be her big day. No longer a high school student, going to university and away from her parents for the first time.
She didn’t know anyone there, they all looked busy. The mother with a pram and toddler screaming, a business man with his tabcomp – doing whatever he did. The shady looking teenager – wearing a heavy trench coat. That stuck her as odd – the dock side waiting room was kept by the station air system, right upto the point you walked onto the ship as a passenger you never got close to the dockside openness that the cargo people dealt with.
Hilary watched him as he paced back and forth.
She missed Laura from her class. They’d been best friends for over 10 years on earth. But she’d gone into Cambridge on a ship engineering and design course. Not the classical studies that Hilary was going to do at Tranquil. No one understood the fascination she had with long dead languages, or variations of those.
Tranquil had the only large collection of books printed on paper, every other university in the system had switched to comp based reading. There was something that she found intoxicating about the smell and feel of holding a collection of paper glued together. There was a smell and a feel that a tabcomp just didn’t have.
The teenager stopped pacing and sat on the bench opposite.
There was a rumble of running boots in the corridor outside of the waiting area. Then a number of armed station sec burst into the room.
“There he is” Yelled one of them.
The other men pointed their rifles at the teenager.
It was the last thing Hilary saw as the bomb went off, sending shards of shrapnel flying through the air, ricocheting off the bulkheads.