Sunday, April 22, 2012

Star Traveler Update - On the Trail of Ezekiel Watts: The Trap

            “Please Lena,” Shattuck begged. He was on Galla II, transmitting on his headset from a little rundown dive. “His purchase is the talk of the town. It took me a bit to track down the buyer, but I know who they are now.”
            “Even if I could raise that much credit what makes you think they will sell Watts to you? If they paid that much for him then they must have wanted him really bad. Have you thought of the fact that the buyer might be working for Braden?” Lena asked him. “I’m afraid you are getting in over your head Tuck. Tell the local authorities what you know and get them to retrieve Watts,” she suggested.
            “There are no local authorities here,” Shattuck said. His sister had no idea what this place was like and if she did she would be throwing even a bigger fit then she was. Shattuck knew if he miss-stepped here he would most likely just disappear.
“Besides,” he continued to argue, “he isn’t here any longer. The buyer took him. They’re on their way to Karakas.”  
“Karakas?” Lena said in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding.”
Karakas was one of the richest planets in the verse. You couldn’t set foot on it unless you had a royal bloodline or had inherited one of the top thirty fortunes in the verse. It was a party planet designed for the rich and powerful. There were floating palaces and private islands, underwater resorts and whole buildings full of endless parties with perpetual refill and cleanup teams. There were well manicured gardens and pristine beaches, mountain hideaways and desert oasis. Playgrounds where you could act out any fantasy you could dream up. And there were restaurants where you could consume the delicacies flown in daily from the four corners of the known verse. Whatever you wanted to experience you could find on Karakas, maybe even things you hadn't thought of.
“How do you intend to get access to the planet?” Lena asked. “Have you even thought about that?”
“I have,” Shattuck assured her. “I am going to masquerade as a bestselling verse investigative journalist. Clever huh?” Shattuck asked sarcastically.
“A reporter is the last thing they will allow through their security,” Lena warned.
“Not when I tell them Empress Minu has granted me an interview,” Shattuck said.
“You can’t lie about that, Tuck. They’ll check with her.” The Empress was well known for her love of privacy.
“And she will tell them she has asked me to come,” Shattuck said with satisfaction.
“I don’t believe you got her to agree to an interview. She is too reclusive.”
“Well, you are going to have to start believing. She is the one who bought Watts. I am going to expose her to the whole verse for her association with the slave trade. The news will bury her charities in scandal. I told her if she saw me I would include any rebuttal she had.”
“Tuck, that’s ridiculous. Why would she grant you an interview for such a flimsy reason? ‘Oh sure, just come on down and we’ll talk about my buying slaves.’” Lena said in a haughty voice as she imagined Empress Minu would sound. “You need to be careful. I can’t retrieve you from Karakas. Once you’re there you’re off the grid.” Lena warned. “That place has its own set of rules.”
“Work on the money, Sis. I’ll send you the galleys from the interview before I submit it to U.N. You deserve to read it first if you help me rescue Watts.”
“Now it’s a rescue?” Lena asked in disbelief.
“Yup, this doesn’t have anything to do with Braden any longer. I have shown his holo-image on every stop of this trip and no one has seen him. And,” Shattuck said with emphasis, “I don’t think anyone would forget that pockmarked face. No,” Shattuck continued with conviction, “this is about saving Watts from a life of slavery at the hands of someone the verse thinks is a benevolent philanthropist. If this works out right it is going to be the biggest expose’ in the history of the U.N.”


Trafficking of humans
in the slave markets on Galla II
Read about the brutal treatment of the slaves

Interact with the captives
Use your GCP to enter the cells at the Slave Market of Galla II


            All right, this was the stupidest thing he had ever done. Lena was right and if he ever got out of here he would admit it to her face.
            Yesterday he was transported and escorted to this room in the floating palace of Empress Minu several thousand feet above planet Karakas. He was told to wait. He had been waiting ever since.
            It wasn’t as though he was being ignored. Someone checked on him regularly. Yesterday they brought him lunch and dinner, even a late night snack. This morning breakfast had arrived in a timely fashion.
            It wasn’t as though Shattuck’s accommodations were lacking either. Even though he was not invited in advance to spend the night, and had not intended to stay over, he was supplied with pajamas and a dressing gown. The room had a fully equipped bathroom with everything to keep him squeaky clean and well coiffured.
            The room had a wall scene where he could while away the hours watching U.N. almost bigger than life.
The balcony of the room had a lovely view of the clouds. The city of Runnamede was spread out below a vertical drop of several thousand feet.  
No, he would have been comfortable in this penthouse in the sky except for the fact that he was a prisoner. They had taken his headset and posted a guard outside his door.
What had possessed him? What made him think he was immune to their actions? What made him imagine he was any kind of a threat to people this rich and powerful?
Lena was right. He was in way over his head.

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