Did the old smuggling routes to Lorville still work? I tried.
The sun was low and cast long shadows. Like millions of fireflies, the dust particles danced in the red light of the setting sun. I knelt in the dust, breathing heavily in and out the polluted air. In front of me, Hurston Security’s guard towered menacingly. I looked directly down the barrel of their energy weapon. A second guard stood to my left. A third was searching my backpack. How could I be so naive as to think I could just march through the city gate. I had already successfully smuggled things through the city gate to Lorville. Back then, but times had changed. Sam had warned me.
Hours earlier, I had met Sam at the orbital station Everus Harbor. He reported on the situation in Lorville. Hurston was cracking down harder and harder and had reorganized the security forces. Harder, more ruthless. Any resistance was nipped in the bud. Special units stood guard in the central business district. The message was clear: we are not to be trifled with.
Sam told about a smuggling that had gone wrong. That the situation for the workers was getting worse and worse. Everyday items that were available everywhere in the Stanton system were forbidden on Hurston. The activists had smuggled all kinds of things into the city to make life a little easier for the people. But the smuggling routes had dried up. Now they were looking for a smuggler who could find new ways to bring the people what they desperately needed.
I had to think about the oppression of the free peoples. Of the injustices in the UEE. The inequalities between citizens and civilians. And above all, I had to think about the shameless machinations of the mega corporations. This could not go on, the poor people in Lorville had to be helped. I declared myself ready to help.
“Nothing easier than that,” I thought to myself. When I worked for the Gate Delivery couriers in Lorville, I smuggled goods through the city gates. I wanted to build on the successes of that time. I flew to Lorville on the White Rabbit and landed in a hollow some distance from the city. The last part to Gate 1 I covered with a Dragonfly.
The boot of the guard hit me hard on the shoulder. Suddenly I was lying with my face in the dirt.
“What do we have here. DMC pants. They’re banned here. Were you trying to smuggle something, little stinker?”
With difficulty I straightened up, coughed and spat dust.
“No, these are my pants. I wanted to wear something comfortable in town. I can’t be walking around in a space suit all the time.”
“You expect us to believe that?” the guard murmured contemptuously.
“Yeah man. I just wanted to visit old friends.”
“Like, biker friends. Are you one of those FROS guys. Didn’t we smash you twisted freedom fighters and arrest your leader!”
The other guard grabbed me by the chin and looked me straight in the face.
“You guys are scum. We should trample you little maggots and leave you in the dirt.”
The guard’s metal glove pressed firmly against my jaw. As if in a vice, my head was trapped. The slightest movement hurt. Then the guard flung me backward. Hard, I hit my back.
“Sit on your Dragonfly and get the hell out of here.”
Slowly, I stood up. With my head down, I asked the guard “Can I have my pants?”
With an outstretched arm, the guard held the pants in front of my face. They dangled back and forth. Sunlight sparkled in the zipper.
“These are confiscated. Can sell for a lot of money on the black market. Now get out of here.”
Like a whipped dog, I rode the Dragonfly back to the Star Runner. The wind in my face felt like whip lashes. This had gone mighty wrong. Fortunately, I didn’t have any contraband with me. It had been a good idea to test the security checks first. Sam was right. The old smuggling routes had dried up. I had to find a new way.
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