Stories From a Distant Galaxy Volume 20
The Celestial Smuggler
The view of that bright blue planet brings a tear to my eye. I’ve never had a job where the beauty of outer space is brought to me on a silver platter. I’ve been working this job for about a year now, and the pay is incredible.
Not only that, but I get to sightsee on a cosmic scale. For every job, my employer gives me a new ship, and when I’m done, I’m required to bring it to a scrap ship for crushing. That’s the part I don’t like.
Whenever I fly a ship, I want to be able to connect with that ship. Maybe I’m just fucking crazy or something, I don’t know. As I bounce thoughts around, I float up to the window and ponder out at the stars.
Wow, just wow. The glowing blue planet makes the stars dance in the cosmic wonderland that is our galaxy. It really makes you think about what could be out there. Is this what the Iteusions felt when they invented light travel? I wonder how they felt when they encountered an alien race for the first time.
Damn, I think too much. I really shouldn’t run behind schedule, my employer’s kind of a hard-ass. They should be, because they’re the Gradorian Assembly. I was a little skeptical about getting into smuggling, but being a teacher just doesn’t pay off.
Especially since the GUA made budget cuts to the education system. Fucking pigs; I hate the government. “Psst, Gavi! Gavi…” Calls a voice from behind me. I look back to see a pale grey-skinned, hairless old Gradorian sticking his head out from a panel in the floorboard.
“Hey, I told you to not come out.” The man floats out and stretches. “Whatever dude, I’m sure we’re fine. I just needed to stretch. We’re cramped as hell back there.” He nags as he floats up to the cockpit. We float side by side and gaze off at the stars. “How much longer?” Asks the Gradorian.
I wipe sweat from my orange-skinned face. “One more jump, then we’ll be at the Rukari system. Hey, who are you guys anyway? My boss said you’re hot, and I mean really hot. I usually run drugs, some firearms, and maybe hookers. I’ve never run a bunch of old Gradorians before.”
The man pulls a cigarette out of my pack. I hate when people smoke my cigarettes! If I run out of smokes, I’ll probably die! Slowly, I pull a smoke out, and the Gradorian lights it for me. “Usually, I’d say it’s none of your business, but considering that you’re a solid guy taking a big risk, I’ll tell ya.
We’re all underbosses for the Assembly. Most of us are sitting on racketeering charges, I think one guy’s sitting on 12 murder charges, and I’m sitting on racketeering, manufacturing of controlled substance, and arson. What can I say; I had to burn one of our labs down. It’s not my fault the fire spread to an old folks home.”
I puff on my cigarette and chuckle. “You guys are some heavy hitters, man. I’m just a high school teacher looking to make some extra money. I teach economics and business. That’s the irony of it, I teach kids how to make money when I struggle with it.” The man pats my back.
“It’s not your fault, friend. The GUA butt fucked the educational system. The Assembly will treat you right if you do a good job. I’m guessing that you’re pretty good if they have you on a job like this. Anyway, I’m going to get back into my hole and tell the others how far we are. Thanks for the smoke by the way.”
I smile and nod at him as he floats back into the floor panel hole, and covers it. Okay, time to make my next jump. Quickly, I flip a few switches and engage the sequence. After putting on my jump helmet and strapping in, I hit the switch, and the ship vanishes into the starry abyss.
After two hours of agony and stomach pain, the ship emerges out of light jump, and into the Rukari system. Within a flash, I take off my helmet and pull out the vacuum tube to vomit into. Every ship comes equipped with a small vacuum tube, because everyone pukes from a jump.
There’s no dodging jump-sickness unless you’re a trained military pilot or something. I hear the sound of yacking coming from the hiding hole, and run to check on them. Upon opening the panel, I see blobs of floating vomit and the Gradorians holding their stomachs. With no time to lose, I grab the vacuum tube and suck up the floating vomit.
“Thanks Gavi, we really appreciate this.” Mumbles one of the men. I smile as I continue sucking up the floating puke. “It’s apart of the job. Listen, we’re in the Rukari system. I’m going to seal the panels. Once we land, you’re people will come to get you.” I inform them.
One of the Gradorians pats my shoulder. “Be careful, Gavi. You’re doing us a real solid here, but anything could happen. Good luck, friend.” I pat him back, and screw the panel into the floor. Okay, here I go. As I approach Rukari-Dez, I take a moment to admire the beauty.
The planet is an ocean world with thousands of islands and ice caps scattered across the surface. Rukari-Dez is known for its fish. It is the fishing capital of the galaxy, and goddamn the fish is good! I position the ship into the orbital entryway and fly to the long line of other ships.
There seems to be heavy traffic, I wonder what happened. As we approach the atmospheric entry point, I notice something. Oh shit! Right outside of the entry point is a bulky GUA checkpoint. People fly their ships into this mini station, the GUA checks the ship, and then they carry out to the planet.
GODDAMMIT! With my fucking luck! I pound on the control board out of anger, and one of the Gradorians hear me. “Everything okay, Gavi?” Asks one of them. I light up another cigarette and puff on it. “GUA checkpoint, just stay quiet and don’t make a peep.” I hear slight rustling around, and then it’s silent from the hideout.
Slowly, I pull the ship into the small station and park it. Okay, just stay cool, and everything will be fine. I notice about 12 GUA enforcers running up to the ship with their guns drawn. Uh-oh! This isn’t normal. Before my next thought is processed, a machine pulls off my landing door and a stun grenade is thrown into the ship. “BANG!”
Everything is white and the only thing I can hear is a high-pitched ringing. Suddenly, I feel a man grab me and throw me to the ground while handcuffing me. As my vision is restored, I see the enforcers pulling the Gradorians out of the floorboard. Oh my god, I’m dead.
A pack of underbosses gets arrested on my watch. They kill people for more petty reasons than this! All of the Gradorians look at me with disappointment in their eyes. I have failed them. What hell was even going on? How did they know? Did someone rat? Was this a setup?
These are all questions I ask myself as I’m marched out of the ship. We all sit on the cold ground of the station as the GUA enforcers gut the ship. I notice one of them smoking my cigarettes. I hate when people smoke my goddamn cigarettes! “Hey man, could I have one of my smokes? If I’m going to prison, I’d like to at least have a smoke.” I kindly request.
Surprisingly, the enforcer kneels down, puts a cigarette in my mouth and lights it. “Not all of us are assholes, we’re just doing our job.” Utters the enforcer. I puff on the smoke as my hands are cuffed behind my back. “Same goes for us, too. We’re not all bad, but we need to feed ourselves.”
One of the Gradorians bluntly interrupts me. “Oh, I’m a bad guy. In fact, we’re all bad people. Even you, narc.” Rashly insults the Gradorian underboss. The Enforcer scoffs. “Then we’ll all suffer in Nocutra’s void when we die.” I sit back and continue smoking my cigarette, as I speculate on the situation.
I’m not even worried about prison; I’m worried about my life. The Gradorians don’t fuck around, and I most likely have a target on my head. After they gut the ship, the enforcers take us to a holding cell on Rukari-Dez.
A few days after that, I was taken to a jail on a GUA enforcement post a few light-years away. As I was waiting for my trial, I received a surprise visitor. It was a lawyer, but not just any lawyer. She was one of the best criminal lawyers in the galaxy. Her hourly wage is 10k AC.
There’s no way I could ever afford that, so I was a tad bit confused. That was until she explained the situation. One of underbosses on my ship was an informant. The whole trip was a setup. The Gradorians appreciated that I didn’t rat them out, so in return, they set me up with an elite lawyer.
There was no dodging prison time. I was looking at 50 years. The prosecutor wanted to make an example out of me, so they slapped on nonsensical charges. Well in the end, I only received 5 years, and got out in 3 because my appeal passed.
Soon after, I learned that after the trial, the prosecutor was found dead in his home without a head. Later, they found the head spiked on a statue outside of the courthouse where the trial took place. I guess the Gradorian Assembly wanted to make an example out of him.
After those 3 years, I walked out of the prison transport with a bag of loose items, a few thousand AC, and my opal ring. My assets were frozen, and I could never teach again. So, this is where my story begins.
My name is Gavi Linool, and I am an orange-skinned man looking for my next hustle, and I think I know what it is.