I was still looking for a smuggling route to Lorville. A new plan was born.
A thick gray layer of dust and dirt lay on the old landing pad. The steel reinforcement was rusted. It was unmistakable that it had not been used for a long time. But then individual particles of the dust layer began to vibrate. First gently, then more and more strongly until they finally flew apart in all directions. The exhaust jet of a landing spaceship swept the dust away. After the small spaceship touched down, the tail ramp opened. A swarm of Gravlev bikes poured out and shot across the pad. But after only a few meters they were stopped by a wall of Hurston security guards. Impenetrable soldiers in black and yellow armor stood at the edge of the pad. Suddenly, a sardonic laugh was heard. A group of Red Wind couriers in red uniforms ran past the Gravlev bikes. Laughing, they passed the soldiers and entered the city without being checked.
Drenched in sweat, I startled up. I almost hit my head on the roof of the bed. Tired and worn down, I sat down on the edge of the bed and let my head hang. My bare feet touched the cold metallic floor. Cautiously, I moved my toes. The coldness of the floor awakened my spirits. Slowly, I began to sort out the chaos in my head. Husky’s idea of using the old landing pad at Tease Spaceport for smuggling had haunted me all the way into my dreams. But my subconscious also showed that the plan had no guarantee of success. There were still too many unknown variables. I needed a plan B. Suddenly, I had an idea.
A few hours later, I met with a hacker from the Activist Network at Orbital Station Everus Harbor. We sat in the smoothie bar in a small seating area. Next to us, some green leaves rustled in the gentle breeze of the ventilation system. I drummed my fingers on the tabletop. I needed courier status to get into town unchecked. If Red Wind wouldn’t hire me I had to get status some other way. Our heads were smoking, we were thinking, spinning ideas and discussing.
“It doesn’t work that way. You can’t just write an entry in the reputation database. The status is not in there as a value, it’s calculated in real time. The more positive customer feedback you have in your history, the better your status.” The hacker shook his head vigorously.
I wasn’t going to give up that quickly. “Then we simulate positive customer feedback and feed it into the database.”
“Doesn’t work either. The customer feedback has to be confirmed by the customer with their personal bio-signature.”
“How do we get the bio signatures?” My question came out of the blue.
“Only by persuading or forcing someone at gunpoint. Killing them doesn’t help either. The signature is secured with two-factor authentication. Bioscan and personal password are required.”
I groaned. “We can’t go around forcing people to confirm false customer feedback. It’s going to stand out.”
“You can’t create a status in the reputation database without signed customer feedback”, the hacker said, somewhat annoyed.
Pondering, I scratched my head. No one was speaking. The pause seemed timeless. The scent of a freshly made smoothie drifted past my nose. Then I said softly. “What if clients don’t realize they’re looking favorably on a simulated assignment?”
“No one will give you a positive rating on an order if you haven’t delivered a package”, the hacker replied.
“Then we have to deliver packages. We have to get customers to give me a delivery order thinking they’re going to order Red Wind.”
Suddenly, our ideas took off.
“I could create a fake Red Wind order portal. It looks like the real thing, but the orders go to you, not Red Wind. No one who uses the portal will notice. Question is how we get the potential customers to use the fake portal and not the real one.”
“We send phishing mails with special offers. In the mails there is a link to the fake order portal. As soon as someone wants to use the special offer he goes to our portal and we have the order.”
“And after you execute the order, the customers sign a positive customer feedback for the fake Red Wind order. The signed customer feedback is then in your history in the reputation database. Eventually you will have the status of a courier. It’s just a matter of time. This could really work.” Enthusiasm resonated from the hacker’s voice.
“The masquerade has to be believable, though. It’s not just the fake order portal that has to look like Red Wind. Me, too. There are a few visual tweaks that need to be made. I have an idea about that.”
The next day, I met with Hermieoth. He did a complete service on my old Cutlass and repainted it. I had my armor customized as well and had it dyed red. I was ready to earn courier status as a fake Red Wind messenger. It didn’t take long for the first orders to come in.
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