Smuggling to Lorville was on a knife edge. Would I succeed in opening a new smuggling route?
The Tesa Spaceport never seemed so bright and friendly to me. When I stepped out of the elevator from the hangar, the letters “Lorville” beamed joyfully at me. They seemed like a warm welcome. Fascinated, I stopped and enjoyed the moment. Busy-looking people walked past me. No one bumped into me. I took a deep breath in and out.
What a moment. The last delivery orders had earned me the highest courier status. My reputation allowed me to pass through customs in Lorville without inspection. I had a license to smuggle. Finally, I could bring the workers on Hurston what they so desperately needed.
“Fuck the Hurston family. Screw the reprisals”, I said quietly to myself. The moment had arrived. I walked past the ship terminals and down the stairs toward the Metro. Just as I was about to pass through the security gate, a loud insistent announcement cut through the busy background noise.
“Zero Sense report to customs. Zero Sense report to customs!”
It hit me like a toothache. Like the icy sting of a cold drink. First cold then hot. With weak knees, I went to the customs counter.
Grimly, the customs officer stood behind a pane of glass. With razor-sharp eyes he looked at me. His voice sounded determined, unyielding.
“Zero Sense? We need to inspect your cargo.”
“Why? I’m a Red Wind courier of the highest status. I can….”
Without raising his voice, he razor-sharp cut through my words. “Your special status is not all-encompassing. Your shipload must be controlled.”
My confidence was fading. “But I can deliver rush shipments without losing time through customs inspection with my courier status.” I realized this was a hopeless attempt even before I closed my mouth.
“Your shipload will be inspected!” The words were unmistakable. They left no room for interpretation. With discomfort, I thought of the DMC pants in my backpack. They were forbidden in Lorville. I was at a loss, this was the end.
“Courier status specifies that everything on the ship will be checked”, the customs officer continued calmly. “Anything you carry on your body will not be checked. Not even bags and backpacks.”
Only with difficulty could I suppress a cry of jubilation.
“Are you kidding me? Some pants? That’s it?”
The guy from the Lorville resistance sat across from me in a dark corner of the M&V bar. Muffled, the thump of music could be heard downstairs. I was glad I could sneak the pants into town. And now this guy was being silly.
“Don’t you need pants? Or what are you trying to tell me?”
“They said you were a super smuggler. And now you’re just bringing some pants? I would have expected more. We need more.”
“Hey the entrances to the city are heavily controlled. It wasn’t without smuggling the pants in. I can bring other stuff too. Whatever you need. As long as it doesn’t take up a lot of space.”
“Do you have any idea how many people are oppressed in Lorville? How many people need help? And you come with a small backpack? And with really big excuses? Are you serious? Put your back into it. Take risks, man.”
I swallowed my burgeoning anger like a big stone. It made me want to puke. You give these guys your little finger and they want your whole hand.
It was clear to me that my help was only a drop on the hot stone. But more was not possible at the moment. Using the route Husky had shown me, I could smuggle entire crates into the city. But I needed a very large ship. One that had room for a small one. Brubacker’s Carrack would have been helpful now. But he had to crash his Clark against the wall in the hangar and lose his license. I had written to Husky to see if he could get a big ship through his family. But he had not answered yet. I was running out of ideas. With tired eyes, I looked at my counterpart. He was still ranting. Ranting about the despondency of today’s smugglers. In one go, I downed my glass of whiskey-coke, got up and left.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)