The huge cargo ship, Alushion, lumbered on in space, dwarfing some stars as it hurtled towards its destination.
The crew didn’t know what they were carrying, nor did most care. The majority of the 32 man-crew were old-timers who had been with the ship for years. There was one new crew member however.
His name was Gorm, and he was assigned all the shit duties aboard the ship. He was pretty sure that it would take years before he moved up enough to where he wasn’t cleaning bathrooms and grease pits.
But he didn’t plan on being a crew member forever. He was a former reporter for The World News in Gallax’s biggest city Aahorn. He quit his job because his editor wouldn’t let him write stories about state corruption and slavery.
What made him make the big move was a tip from a trusted informant. Gallax’s biggest cargo ship was carrying more than minerals and Gallaxian steel. It was also covertly carrying slaves!
Gorm was sure his editor wouldn’t let him go undercover and investigate it. So he quit and applied for a menial job as a crew member aboard the Alushion. He was in luck. One of the regulars was in an accident and they needed a replacement.
The adventure of it all appealed to Gorm’s endless imagination.
He would write a tell-all book about slavery that would catapult him to fame and wealth. Civilized Gallaxians abhorred slavery, but there was a criminal element that specialized in it.
Every city on Gallax had a problem with residents disappearing. No bodies ever showed up. The authorities seemed unable to do anything about it. There were hints of what was going on, like when one man escaped.
He was blinded and never knew that he was hidden in a building near the International Space Station. But he did hear broken conversations and shared those with authorities.
The slavers were well-organized. How they got their captives off world was a mystery. There were so many possibilities the authorities were stumped. Private ships, military ships, commercial travel ships, cargo ships, and on, and on.
There were literally thousands of possibilities to hide slaves.
The slavers would wait until they had at least 200 captives before transporting them. The captain of the Alushion was a corrupt scoundrel with high government connections. His arrangement with the slavers paid him three times his captain’s salary.
The whole scheme was the brainchild of Lancor Mey, the leader of the biggest underworld gang on Gallax. He partnered up with the ship’s captain, Kanor Olk, and for the past ten years they transported thousands of Gallaxians off world and to other planets that provided eager buyers.
The ship actually had two crews; the one that authorities saw consisting of 32 employees, and the one they didn’t see that consisted of three employees whose only job was to take care of the captives.
This was made possible by having a false hull that was converted into an area where the helpless captives were put in plastic pods that sporadically emitted sleeping gases. They were hooked up to feeder tubes which the small crew was supposed to monitor.
Gorm was so busy for the first three days that he didn’t have time to explore anything. No menial task was below him. On the fourth day he found himself with some free time. He was such a hard worker that some of the crew members were already letting up on him.
He learned that there were three decks and a hold of Galaxian steel and tons of minerals in it. He knew where the captain’s quarters was, the ship’s kitchen, the navigation deck, the crew’s quarters, and where the various supply rooms were.
A week later, Gorm was becoming discouraged. He still hadn’t seen anything suspicious, or heard any juicy conversations that might provide leads to where the slaves were being held.
He was starting to think he was a fool for listening to the tipster. He was stuck on a cargo ship that wouldn’t return to Gallax for three more weeks.
Then a break came.
He got to know all the crew members during his short time aboard, and when he saw a stranger slip out of the kitchen and scurry to a door that led below decks, he followed. He could hear the stranger’s footsteps as he disappeared down into the engine room.
Gorm looked at the small nuclear reactor that was the ship’s source of power. All eight feet of it was sheathed in steel plates with Gallaxian script engraved into them. Gorm was so close to the stranger that he had to duck behind the reactor when he stopped, and started to turn around checking to see if he was being followed.
Then the stranger put his hand on the wall and a hidden door slid open! Gorm cautiously watched where he put his hand. He had no doubt what he’d find if he went into that secret room.
He knew for sure there was one slaver, and more than likely others inside. He had no way of knowing how many of them. Nothing about the situation was good. What should he do?
He couldn’t stay here much longer before someone missed him. He considered telling the captain, but as he walked back to his quarters a growing sense of alarm told him not to. He really couldn’t trust anyone aboard.
After the encounter with the stranger he made a habit of going back to where the secret door was several times a day. His persistence paid off days before they were scheduled to land on Anterrean, Gallax’s main trading partner.
He was hiding behind the reactor which was directly across from the secret door when one of the slavers emerged. He hurried out. Gorm went to the spot and put his hand there.
At first he couldn’t see anything. The room was bathed in a soft blue light that didn’t throw shadows. Gorm saw another slaver slouched over a keyboard in front of a monitor. He was asleep.
As he felt his way around the room he saw another stranger stretched out on a bunk asleep. His luck was holding up. Then he came to a row of pods that held the captives. As he continued to search he found more rows. He stopped in front of one when he noticed a movement.
The captive in one pod opened his eyes and moved his head slightly.
“Blink if you can hear me,” Gorm said.
The Gallaxian blinked twice. The horror of the situation made Gorm’s blood run cold. “I’m going to try to help you,” he said.
The Gallaxian blinked again. Then his eyes grew wider!
Gorm didn’t hear anything until too late. A slaver slipped up behind him and put him in a chokehold. Darkness.
When he woke up he was in a room full of captives from planets throughout the solar system. He guessed he was on Anterrean. He felt like a damn fool! What made him think he would get away with going into that room?
He always wanted to experience adventures and to be a writer. Now he was a slave!
A slaver came into the room and roughly grabbed him by his arm, and led him outside to a platform before a group of prospective buyers.
“This pathetic creature,” the auctioneer droned, “...says he’s a writer. Who needs a writer? he asked the group. A couple of low bids were thrown out and the auctioneer acted disgusted, “I might as well slaughter him and sell his meat to the Zarks,” he grouched.
Finally a wealthy female Gallaxian made a bid that was acceptable. The auctioneer gave her the mobile control device that activated the shock collar on Gorm’s neck. It was standard slave issue.
Gorm followed her obediently down a series of well-maintained streets until they came to a big compound. His new master’s name was Illse, and she was the mistress of the large house.
“You’re job here is to tell stories to my children every night. If they like them, I’ll set you free after you tell a hundred consecutive tales.”
“Well… I don’t know…”
“Writers are storytellers, are they not?”
“Yes…yes, you could call them that.”
“Good. Then we have an agreement?”
“Sure. By the way, what happens if I run out of stories or your kids don’t like them?”
“You become Zark meat,” she said conversationally.
Gorm gave a sick grin, and said, “When do we start?”
As It Stands, life is about adapting to situations.