My smuggling to Lorville led first to new challenges and then to surprises.
Everything was polished to a high shine. Golden lettering on black walls. No dirt, no trash. The Central Business District was an oasis in littered and filthy Lorville. Even the air seemed cleaner.
I had brought another special delivery to Lorville for the workers. In the Central Business District, I met the corrupt businessman who took the goods past customs and into the city. As usual, his demeanor and tone was confident and arrogant.
“Ah you have another delivery.”
His words sounded like a sneer. “A delivery for me I think you meant to say,” I thought to myself.
“And I will bring the goods back to you in the city without customs noticing. A risky and very valuable service I might note.”
“Now surely another increase in his share is coming,” the thoughts whispered softly in my head. But I said nothing and kept silent.
“It’s time to talk about my reward.”‘
“I knew it,” the thoughts screamed loudly in my head. Outwardly, I didn’t let on. I remained very calm, looking at the businessman impassively.
“I don’t want a share of your shipment. It’s worthless to me.”
It was hard for me to hide my surprise. What was going on now? So far, he couldn’t get enough of the goods.
“I want you to bring me Bexalite.”
My face had to be derailed by now at the latest.
Bexalite was a rare mineral. The second most valuable after quantanium. The problem was, you couldn’t buy it. Not even on the black market. The only way to get Bexalite was to mine the raw material and have it refined in a refinery. But that was not enough. Since the trade restrictions and the end of ore export, there was only one way to sell the refined Bexalite. In the trade centers of the large landing zones in the Stanton System. From there it disappeared into the greedy maw of the mega-corporations.
A few days later I was standing in the hangar of the Ambitious Dream Station. There I had stored my Prospector after I could no longer export ores and refined metals to the free peoples. It presented a sad and pale picture. A dull, gray-brownish patina had formed on the hull. Only the engines still shone in the old glow of the metal hull. The heat of the engines had made the metal resistant to corrosion. A little wistfully I stroked with the hand over the aged outer skin of the spaceship. Memories were awakened. Memories of buying the Prospector in Levski and my bumpy beginnings in mining. They had been good times. Meaningful times when I could help the free peoples.
A short time later, I piloted the Prospector out of the hangar and flew to the moon Daymar. There I had found the highest concentrations of Bexalite at that time.
Somewhat demotivated, I stood in the cockpit sipping my water bottle. It was frustrating. I had been on the road for days and hadn’t found any Bexalite. Slowly, my supplies were running out. If I didn’t find something soon, I was going to have to go back empty-handed. At least the view was beautiful. The grace of the desert soothed me. I loved the endless sea of sand.
Finally, I sat back in the pilot’s chair and kept searching. It was a search under difficult conditions. The Prospector had always been old and vulnerable. But at the moment, the old lady was particularly bitchy. The scanner failed regularly. Sometimes the engine would suddenly shut down or the landing gear would extend.
But then I finally found a chunk, a very large chunk with a very high concentration of Bexalite. Downright excited, I landed, aimed the mining laser, and turned up the power full blast. The laser hummed, the ship shook with effort, the rock began to glow. But only very selectively at the spot where it was penetrated by the laser. I tried to increase the energy of the laser. But the regulator was already at the limit. The energy level in the rock did not increase. The rock was too big, too resistant for the small Prospector.
Disappointed, I turned off the laser. All at once it was quiet, the ship no longer vibrated. For a while I sat in silence, staring at the large boulder. It didn’t help, I had to keep searching. The treasure of Bexalite in that rock remained unreached for me. Slowly the Prospector climbed upward, the landing gear retracted and the boulder became smaller beneath me.
Suddenly I hit my head with the flat of my hand. How could I be so stupid. Sometimes I was really confused. With a little twist of the stick, the Prospector went back into descent. The landing gear extended and gently caught the ship on the sand. As soon as I landed, I shut down the engines and went aft to the living area. Hastily, I put on the spacesuit and attached something to the backpack. A small device with a big effect.
Wind and sand blew toward me as the outer door of the airlock opened. Quickly I had climbed down the ladder and trudged through the sand to the boulder with the Bexalite. I had completely forgotten that I had bought one of those new mining gadgets. A BoreMax. It reduced the resistance of the rock by 75%. That should give me a chance to crack it. After attaching the gadget to the rock and setting it to the right resonance, I activated it. The indicator light flashed green. I was ready to go. I clapped my hands and ran impatiently back to the ship. Would it work? Would the energy of the laser now be enough to crack the rock? Excitedly, I jumped into the pilot’s seat. I left the spacesuit on, I didn’t want to lose any time.
There was a click when I flipped the switch. The laser arm extended and I turned the power back up to full. The energy level in the rock rose slowly, but it rose. Finally, the bar on the energy gauge reached the green zone. A short time later, the rock shattered into several pieces with a loud bang. The laser went silent and I fell back in the pilot’s seat, relaxed, with a big grin on my face.
After retrieving the BorMax and extracting the Bexalite, I left the moon Daymar. The Prospector’s ore pockets were full to the brim, almost exclusively with Bexalite.
At the refinery terminal of the Ambitious Dream Station, I placed the order to refine the Bexalite. To my right in the corner of the room was a desk. Behind the desk, I noticed a sign sitting on a small cabinet. On the sign was a symbol that looked familiar. Underneath it was something. I went behind the desk to take a closer look at the sign. Frozen, I stopped. I couldn’t believe what I saw on the sign. Was this possible? Could this really be?
“You’re wondering what’s on the sign.”
The voice behind me sounded friendly. Slowly, I turned around.
“I know what it is. I lived on Levski for a while and still have friends there.”
On the sign was the symbol of the Peoples Alliance. The community that lived independently of the UEE on Levski. A political group that to this day offered shelter to the politically persecuted, dissenters and freedom lovers.
“In that case, meet me down at the store in an hour.”
The guy disappeared and I was left confused. Why was there a Peoples Alliance sign here in the Stanton system? I used to export ores and metals to Levski. In the old days, before there were trade restrictions. I had smuggled goods between Levski and the Stanton System. My heart was still attached to Levski. To those special freedom-loving people. I hadn’t been there in far too long.
An hour later, I ran into the guy at the refinery store. He was casually sitting on a chair. Shield cap, goggles, gloves and knee pads indicated he was a refinery worker….
“Contacted Levski. Checked you out. You are indeed one of us. Glad to hear it.”
“How with us? I don’t understand.” What was this guy trying to tell me? Did the Peoples Alliance have an outpost in Stanton? What was going on here?
“See your confusion in your face,” the guy laughed briefly and continued. “After the end of export of ores and metals, we were looking for new way.”
Now I was wide awake and stretched like a bow. “And did you find one?”
“Yes. We infiltrated the refineries. The ore for the free peoples is specially refined. The origin in the Stanton system is untraceable. Then it is taken to Orison. There it brings someone from the Stanton system.”
“Who handles the special transports from the Stanton system?”
“I don’t know. Don’t know him. Don’t know his name either. Only know that the metals from the refinery go to Orison. The contact there is in the storage area of the Providence platform.”
This was really surprising and good news. Now I could go back to mining and helping the free peoples. And I also had an idea who the unknown person might be who was organizing the special transports in Orison. But first I had to take the Bexalite to the corrupt businessman in Lorville.
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