The trip should have been quick, it should have been easy, and it should have made money.
The cheap merchandise was in low berth minding it’s own business, but the live meat was getting restless, even with the regular threats of beatings and abuse.
We had been looking forward to a pleasant stop over at Telluride Station on the northern continent of Seven Sisters. It would be the last chance for dirt side recreation before the final hop to Gateway and the expanses of the Echolian Stars.
It was to be women, wine and more women, even for the Kal like me. That part worked out just fine, and the miners at Telluride Station couldn’t get enough of our latest batch. Meat was traded for the usual contraband and special cargo, and was surprisingly intact when they returned it. After a little cleaning, it would have been fit for sale at Acaphone just as we planned.
There was a catch, and it was a big one.
Starport Control at Seven Sisters was in chaos when we arrived. Ordinarily this was a good thing as it made our trip to Telluride even easier. It seemed that all traffic to Gateway had stopped, and ships and passengers were piling into the fast diminishing berths and hotels.
The reason for this disruption was a name that meant nothing to the stinking rabble aboard our ship.
The rumours were that several ships had jumped into Gateway from nowhere and began to interdict the gas giant and its orbital starport. They were a design never seen before, but were obviously weapons of war.
They had casually announced that no ship would be permitted to leave the system without their permission. Ships eventually started to leave but very occasionally and without warning, the Lazloi ships would annihilate a hapless trader or transport into its constituent atoms.
Needless to say, ships stopped moving and now they will not go to Gateway at all. Echolian patrols are checking all outgoing ships and manifests regardless of destination. Since Gateway is the only route to the Autocracy, it means that we are stuck here.
Meat has a limited shelf life, especially on this ship, and disposal brings too many questions. I need not remind you that the penalty for human trafficking is death, either in the courts, or more likely, at the hands of the Echolian Marines.
For the moment we have nothing but time on our hands and the way I figure it, chaos and war have always been profitable.
In any case, the Lazloi can’t stop ships going into the Autocracy forever, can they?
-- Aerin Kaballa, Kal, aboard the pirate ship “Lovely Lola”, official registry, ND-2643 “Venture Star”.
Venture Star was created in Hexagon 1.21 and textured with UV Mapper Pro and Photoshop CS2. Buildings are from the Dystopia City Blocks.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 5 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2