Jandwat knew he was going to copulate tonight. No matter what his wife said.
“If we aren’t home for the latest holo-episode of Galactic Crime Investigators, there’ll be no mating ritual,” she said.
Jandwat rolled his eyes as he set the coordinates for Tau Ceti e. “Relax. Taking off in 5, 4, 3—” he hit the launch button early, setting off the centrifugal force stabilizer which blew enough air on Komway’s head that her tentacles lost their cultivated poof and went flat. She hadn’t had time to dodge it like normal.
“Zhanget,” she yelled the Tau Ceti en curse meaning: you who smells with ears and hears nothing. “Do you know how much the stylist cost? That’s it. No mating ritual.” She crossed her four arms.
As the saucer shot above the clouds, Jandwat leveled it out.
“Aren’t we going interplanetary?” Komway asked.
“I didn’t come here just to scare locals. I need a smoke before we leave the atmosphere.”
“Open the window. I don’t like that stink. I don’t know why you insist on that foul plant.”
He took out papers, pulled a tobacco leaf apart and sprinkled the remnants onto the small sheet. “You know it relaxes me.”
“We have substitutes.”
“Says the woman who’s never smoked.”
She huffed and stared out the window. Jandwat finished rolling his cigarette and lit it with his purloined Zippo. When he activated the Love Connector — as he liked to call it — he knew she would come around. The pheromone optimizer never failed.
“I said, roll down the window.”
Jandwat pulled back on the accelerator and set the ship to cruising speed so the air wouldn’t storm through the cabin. The internal atmosphere stabilizer would take care of the rest.
He waved his hand at the window, which receded into the ship’s frame. He blew a smoke ring, letting the wind from outside pull the perfect circle to pieces, then reached into the wall compartment for his Love Connector. He wanted to slip it into his pocket without drawing attention. She’d buried it in the biopit behind their hab, but he’d found it and hid it in the ship. He’d be needing it tonight.
He flipped the “on” switch and moved the Love Connector toward his pocket. The device worked best when the “subject” was exposed to the pheromone optimizing rays for prolonged periods, and they had hours to go before reaching home. It only needed to be within six feet. They’d both be in the right mood by the time they reached Tau Ceti e.
At first, Jandwat didn’t notice the hot ash. Until he felt the burn. Without thinking, he started slapping his tunic, forgetting all about the Love Connector. It escaped his grasp and flew out the window. Too late, Jandwat lunged, jerking the controls in the process and sending the ship thrusting hard left.
“What’re you doing?” Komway yelled as the centrifugal force stabilizer lost its battle with Newton’s Third Law and she hit the wall.
He sighed, and righted the ship. Komway detached herself from the wall and tried to reform her tentacles into something resembling style.
“What was that?” she asked.
“Oh that… nothing. Just a bauble from one of my trips.”
“Mmm hmmm. Definitely no mating ritual.”
Jandwat frowned. The Love Connector was falling to Earth, and pheromone optimizers weren’t meant for humans.
Jandwat drove the tiller over the tobacco field gloomily. He hated it here. He missed the adventurous, unkempt travelers of the intergalactic highway. These Earth people were… well, rubes. He never thought the Intergalactic Panel on Earth Affairs would rule how they did, but they were furious that he’d lost the pheromone optimizer.
The Love Connector had an amplified effect on humans. And the area covered by the one he’d lost was the entire United States. Unless his people wanted the country’s population to soar to unsustainable levels, they needed to intervene. Nobody liked Earth. So they made Jandwat go.
He finished the last row and steered towards the house where his wife stood with her two arms crossed.
“Hi, dear,” he called as he exited the tiller.
“Don’t dear me. I’ve been cooking all morning for the Rotary bake sale. You’ve got it easy.” She said it in an irritated voice, but with a smile.
Other than a few quick trips for tobacco, Komway had never really experienced Earth. But now that they lived here, she discovered she loved it. Back home, she’d complained people were too busy and disconnected. Here, in her new body and with all her new human friends, she was content. It helped that the ladies in the small town said she had the most stylish hair. On the plus side for Jandwat, happiness had made Komway amorous. On the downside, he’d been smoking his own crop since arriving on Earth. So until recently, Jandwat wasn’t in the mood.
“I’ll help. I just need to put the compound in the sprinklers and water the crops.”
The Board had given Jandwat a sexual-dulling concoction to put in the tobacco he grew. In addition to nicotine, tar and the roughly 443 other toxins the smokers would be inhaling, they’d get a Tau Ceti en chemical that would render them uninterested in sex. It wouldn’t reach all smokers, but he was farming for a major tobacco company. The Tau Ceti en scientists said it would be enough. At least until the phermone optimizer could be found and turned off.
The chemical also meant fewer children with a propensity towards addiction. Smokers wouldn’t beget smokers, and eventually the smoking population would be far smaller.
“I’m so glad you are part of the solution,” Komway said. “These smokers are scum.”
“That’s not fair. The tobacco companies lied about the addictive properties—”
“You should know,” she interrupted. “You’re one.”
Jandwat walked over and put his arms around her. “I quit last week.” He kissed her full human lips.
“Ooh, Jandwat,” she said. “You know, tonight’s the mating moon.”
“I know, dear.”
Alex Granados is a journalist and writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s published one novel — Cemetery Plot — with Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. In his day job, he is an education reporter for EducationNC. You can see his journalism at Ednc.org.