The mega corporations in the Stanton System played to their power. Trade became more difficult.
After the activists on ‘Everus Harbor’ disappeared without a trace, I made some inquiries. The employee at the service counter leaned forward, approached me and said in a hushed voice. “It was eerie. The security guards were searching the whole station. Everyone was scared. I think that’s over the top. Just because there are new trade regulations, to immediately turn all of Everus Harbor upside down.” “What new trade regulations?” I asked, confused. “Some things are no longer allowed to be traded on Everus Harbor. Hadanite, for example. But why does that mean the security forces have to turn everything upside down. That’s crazy.”
A forklift carrying a crate rumbled by. I frowned and said, “Corporate power plays.” As I walked away, I saw the employee shake her head. On the way to the elevator, a warehouse worker told me that shortly after the search, a shipment from Hurston Dynamics arrived at the station. The goods were stored in a special secure area. I wondered if the search had to do with the new trade regulations or with the shipment. In any case, the search was a reason for the activists to leave.
I thought about the message I had intercepted from Constantin Hurston. It talked about meeting an escort on Everus Harbor. I don’t know if that was a lead worth following. But it might have something to do with the shipment the warehouse worker told me about. I showed the picture, attached to the message, to some people at the station. No one could or would tell me if they had seen the person on the picture. The people on ‘Everus Harbor’ were intimidated after the search and did not want to talk.
There was a subdued atmosphere. Few conversations could be heard. Most of the tables were empty. The hologram on the ceiling bathed the food court on ‘Everus Harbor’ in a colorful light. Lost in thought, I ate a burrito. I was absent-minded, as if in another world, when I suddenly startled. Someone sat down next to me. “Zero, good to see you.” “Sam where the hell have you been. I’ve got a load of Hadanite and I couldn’t find you at the hide on the cargo deck.” Sam, one of the activists, looked around worriedly. “Forget it. Hurston Security is cracking down. We had to give up the secret outlet on Everus Harbor. It’s too risky. You have to go to Port Olisar with the stuff. I can’t help you. Sorry man.” Sam stood up, patted me on the shoulder and left.
“Permission to land granted. Land on pad 10.” Port Olisar traffic control went silent and I went into the approach. Before flying to Port Olisar, I was on the Hurston Moon Arial. I bought Laranite to sell it for profit here, in orbit of the gas giant Crusader. The ‘White Rabbit’ touched down on the pad and I turned off the systems. The roar of the engines died away, only the hum of the ventilation could be heard. On the way to the stern ramp, I stroked the boxes of Laranite in the cargo hold. At least we still had Port Olisar for free trade, I thought to myself.
Shortly thereafter, I stood stunned in front of the trading terminal. Neither the Hadanite, nor the Laranite could I sell. I thought of a bug in the system and went to the admin desk. My bewilderment grew even greater, anger boiled up inside me. The guy told me that there were new trading regulations and that not everything was traded on Port Olisar anymore. Hadanite could only be sold to mining outposts. The high value metals, Laranite, Agricium, Titanium, Gold and also Diamonds, could only be sold in the trading centers of the main landing zones on the planets.
These were not trade regulations, these were trade restrictions. The corporations in the Stanton system started a trade war and tried to consolidate their power. With these restrictions, they had control over the metals. They could determine who the metals were sold to and make a profit on the sale. I wasn’t sure if this was just against the free peoples. Or also against Crusader Industries, which had previously allowed free trade and export from the Stanton system through Port Olisar. I stood at the big window and looked at the stars. My anger at the big corporations and the UEE was growing. This trade war was a scandal for Brubacker to report on. Where the hell was this guy anyway. When you ever needed the press, it wasn’t there.
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