Could the Biker Club be of any help in smuggling into Lorville?
It was an unusual meeting place. Unusual especially for a group that had recently been broken up by Hurston Security. They called the place “Stim Theater.” It was located on the old mining site directly behind the headquarters of Hurston Dynamics. Sort of in the shadow of the symbol of power. Gently, I landed the White-Rabbit next to two parked Aopoa Nox Gravlev bikes. A strong wind blew dust and dirt into the cargo hold as I opened the tail ramp. With my hand, I tried to shield my face. Two guys were standing at the foot of the ramp.
“Hey Zero we haven’t seen each other in a while”, Brubacker greeted me happily.
“Bru. Good to see you. And who are you?” My eyes fell on the second person.
“I’m Gabriel Winters. Or just Husky.”
“Winters? I’ve heard that name before”, I replied thoughtfully.
“You’ve probably heard of my grandfather. Friedrich Winters. He’s the CEO of Nordlicht Aviation.”
“We had met Friedrich at the New Babbage show”, Brubacker added.
“That’s right. I remember. Come aboard. The weather is frightful.”
“Can we park the bikes in your cargo hold”, Husky asked.
“Yeah sure. I hope Brubacker manages to park without hitting anything.”
Brubacker mumbled something unintelligible. He probably didn’t find the reference to his weakness in landing spaceships funny. But with some help and instructions he managed to maneuver his Nox into the Star Runner without any problems. A short time later, Husky’s Nox was also in the cargo hold next to my Dragonfly. It was an unusual sight. Three Gravlev bikes in my Star Runner.
“Do you have anything to drink?”
I looked at Brubacker and grinned.
“Sure. There are cool drinks in the fridge. Come on.”
In the White-Rabbit kitchenarea, Brubacker and Husky told us about F.R.O.S.. The Free Riders Of Stanton. A biker club that denounced the inhumane and exploitative machinations of the megacorps and fought for the freedom of the people. F.R.O.S. was especially active on Hurston to fight against the bad working conditions. Eventually the club was broken up by Hurston Security and the leader arrested. The charge was involvement in drug dealing.
After the breakup, Husky refounded the club. My ears perked up. Could F.R.O.S. be helpful in smuggling to Lorville. Would Husky follow in F.R.O.S.’s old footsteps and again help the workers on Hurston? Even by illegal means? But my glimmer of hope was quickly dampened. For Husky, it was not yet clear in which direction F.R.O.S. would develop. Was Gabriel Winters, after all, just the grandson of a rich guy who needed nothing and just wanted a little bit of the free independent outlaw feel?
There was no end to the protracted ramblings of Brubacker and Husky. Quietly, I groaned to myself. I needed a way to smuggle everyday items to Lorville for the workers. Fantasies of a community supporting each other all over the verse didn’t help me. I needed to get out of here, out of this situation.
“What do you think about taking the bikes out together”, I interrupted Brubacker.
“Good idea. We could take your ship to Oparei. The landscape is nicer there”, Husky suggested.
When I landed at the outpost, the sun was just setting. Blood red, it stood low over the horizon and bathed the tall grass and trees of the savannah in a warm light.
We rode the bikes up a nearby hill. By the time we reached the top it was already dark. Remnants of red light could be seen on the horizon. Otherwise, the savannah lay under a black cloth that was only cut by the headlights of the bikes. In my mind I was already somewhere else. A biker club was quite nice. But did I want to spend my time with rich guys who were going for freedom in their spare time? But then Husky surprised me.
“I know a way we can smuggle stuff into Lorville.”
Curious, I looked at Husky.
“Despite the tightened security?”
“There’s an old landing pad near the L19 District. If you fly low enough you won’t be picked up by the flight control scanners. But the blind corridor between Teasa Spaceport and the pad is very narrow.”
“So you just disappear from radar on approach? That’s noticeable, isn’t it?”
“It takes a small ship in the radar shadow of a big ship. The big ship lands officially. Just before landing, the small ship detaches and flies low to the pad. So the flight control has no idea that there is a second ship. At the pad, the cargo can be handed over to people from the city.”
The idea fascinated me. It sounded daring but not impossible. Husky suggested showing us the way in practice. The only question was where to get a big spaceship. Fortunately, an old friend of mine was in Lorville at the time. He lent me his Hercules C2. At the orbital station Everus Harbor we squeezed an Aurora into the cargo hold of the Hercules.
Tensely, I looked out of the narrow viewing window in the cockpit of the Hercules. Slowly I steered the mighty cargo ship to the Teasa Spaceport. The risk that something went wrong with the action and I became conspicuous with the authorities was too big for me. Therefore I left Brubacker and Husky the flight with the Aurora to the old landing pad. Before I took the risk Husky had to prove that it really worked. The lettering “Teasa Spaceport” slid past the cockpit window. The Hercules sank lower and lower. The initially small buildings of the city grew into large mountains. Just before the hangar doors, I opened the cargo hatch. Husky steered the Aurora out of the belly of the Hercules and disappeared in the direction of the L19 District. The buildings and containers of Lorville swallowed the small ship. It was no longer visible. A few seconds later I landed in the assigned hangar. No one had noticed the little Aurora. Not yet.
After landing, I hurriedly took the Metro to the L19 District. Would Brubacker and Husky make it? Would the Aurora go unnoticed? The closer I got to the L19 Metro Center the more tension I felt. From the Metro Station I walked past many guards, dumpsters and piles of dirt to the lookout point by the apartment buildings. From there I had a clear view of the old landing pad. And indeed. There stood the Aurora. Husky and Brubacker had made it. Then the Aurora took off and flew around completely unmolested between containers and pipes. I was impressed with Husky’s action. He had shown us a way into the city, past the controls. He was a real hotshot. My first impression was wrong. Gabriel “Husky” Winters was a fearless pilot with a few tricks up his sleeve and not just a rich kid.
In the evening Brubacker sent me the proclamation certificate of F.R.O.S.. It said “…human freedom is above all else…” and that they were critical of the UEE and the Megacorps. I liked that. That was exactly my attitude. F.R.O.S. was not required to have a firm exclusive commitment. That suited my desire for independence. I joined the Free Riders Of Stanton.