The skimmer glided to a halt, settling onto the cobblestones with a pneumatic sigh. After a few moments, the passenger door slid open, and a tall and broad-shouldered squirrel emerged, duffel bag slung over one shoulder. Under his black tunic and trousers and his white shirt, his fur was an unremarkable rusty brown, his eyes dark. By the standards of many places, and certainly here on Tantari, he would be thought quite attractive – and anyone in that uniform, especially with a lieutenant’s pips on his shoulders, was very desirable.

No young lady awaited him at the stop, though. In fact, the old street was remarkably quiet, he reflected as the skimmer registered him as disembarked and set off to its next passenger. He could hear something going on in the distance, voices raised in laughter and merriment, and whatever it was, everybody was attending to it.