“How is the refitting coming, Sam,” I inquired as soon as my boots hit the cargo bay.
“Just completed,” Sam answered. “Have a look.”
He must have flipped the switch for the newly installed cloak on the pod because the vehicle disappeared before my eyes.
“Frosty,” I complimented.
“Yep, works like a dream. As long as Ma-rye-a can hold the drone’s attention so they’re not actually scanning the space you’re in you should be able to slip by.”
Furgus’ half payment on the job helped fund the purchase of the cloak. The pay on this job was generous, no doubt to ensure a successful smug.
When we get within pod range of Alta III the plan is to have Ma-rye-a and the crew slow-run past the planet to keep the Galactic Official’s surveillance drones occupied with her while I slip down for the delivery. The drones keep track of all vessels coming and going from Alta III. Ma-rye-a will get close enough to keep them interested, but not get recorded. I don’t want her in their database. We are going to be ghosts.
We have luck on our side. Sane people don’t go to all this trouble to get onto Alta III. Usually, only people running from the Galactic Forces or with a death wish go there.
The Galactic Forces are making an attempt to keep technology out of the Altans hands. They are basically iron/bronze age, but have a few things that have leaked to them from visitors in the past. For instance Altans are well aware that there is a Verse full of other sentient beings beyond their world. They have acquired communication capabilities which they can run, but have no idea how they work. If it breaks they would most likely just kick it. A lot of technology is ‘magic’ or ‘miracles’ to the Altan’s.
However, the chieftains see the power of the ‘visitor’s’ magic. They are more than willing to deal with, or steal, weapons and or other technology from anyone they meet. It is however, forbidden by Galactic treaty for advanced races to deal with the Altans, hence the whole smuggling bit even though it’s just a painting.
The planet’s inhabitants consist of many warring tribes. Some live in permanent cities clustered around water sources, but many are nomadic tent dwellers which roam the arid lands of the planet. There are two central cities, Kadear and Mazala. The chieftains of these two cities manage to keep a limited truce. Their citizens often prey on one another, making little foraging raids back and forth. Occasionally, a tribal lord will get his courage up, and inflame his men enough to try to take on one of these walled cities, but it is rarely successful. The changing of the city’s hands often comes from within as a coup. Forces from outside are never enough to overcome the walls of the few cities and with water available the inhabitants can hold out indefinitely. No one would poison water on Alta III. It is way too precious.
“I know Cassie has something she wants to go over before I leave,” I said to Sam. “Let’s meet up in my cabin and finish up the prep.”
I watched as the pod’s cloak was lowered and the vehicle reappeared on the cargo deck. Technology is truly incredible at times.
When I reached my cabin my whole crew was present and each had advice for my trip down to Kadear.
“You’ll need to land the pod here,” Ma-rye-a said as she cast a holo image of the terrain around Kadear pinpointing the spot in red. “This bluff will shield your landing from view.”
“You should wear your blaster, but whatever you do, don’t let it fall into an Altan’s hands,” Sam cautioned. “I have put a remote detonator onboard the pod. If you do lose your blaster it is tuned to its frequency. You must destroy it.”
“They can trace your blaster to you via the Galactic register. If it is used in a crime on Alta that is brought to the Galactic authority you will be subject to all the punishment placed on that crime,” Horus advised.
All information I already knew, but my crew was taking no chances of being left without a captain.
“You need to wear the cape you bought for the Risa trip,” Cassie advised. That cape was light tan, floor length with a hood. “The Altans are a dark raced people. You will stick out like a white dwarf in the night sky. And the leather boots Arr gave you last trip. They will fit in better than your spacer boots.”
“That kinda ruins my cool outfit for attracting Aldobi-rand,” I huffed in frustration.
“Cassie is correct,” Horus agreed. “You invite problems and confrontations if you are spotted as an Off-worlder, or Enee as they call foreigners.”
Guess that kills that dramatic dream entrance.
“Once we are sure you are safely planet bound I will take us to the opposite side of their moon cluster and wait for your signal,” Ma-rye-a confirmed.
I was going to lift off - once I was out of the planet’s atmosphere I would create some random prerecorded sub-space chatter that the drones wouldn’t have any reason to monitor, but Ma-rye-a could spot. We would rendezvous at a prearranged location and our work would be done.
In and out - slick as a Tuldavian Swamp Lizard’s trap.