Star System: Algemron
Date: 2502-07-22
Increase in Whitespike Trafficking Worries Concord

Wreathe, ALGEMRON - The Concord, working in tandem with local authorities on the asteroid Wreathe, has confiscated the largest haul of biaxinin yet uncovered by the anti-smuggling efforts in the Algemron system. Over 200 kilograms of the dangerous drug were discovered aboard the independent freighter Gray Landing during a routine inspection. While the capture of the contraband is encouraging to some, it leads others to believe that the Concord is losing the war against the whitespike smugglers...

"It's a nightmare scenario out here," said Sergeant Lionel Davenport, a member of the team that first searched the Gray Landing and detained its captain. "We don't know where all these drugs are coming from. Over the past two months, the amount of arrests we've made has skyrocketed. We've never had to deal with this many smugglers, let alone ones carrying several hundred kilos of spike in a load..."

Normally, the harsh conditions on Wreathe's surface provide a natural deterrent to whitespike smugglers. E-suit accidents are quite common among people who regularly work on the surface, as are encounters with dangerous lifeforms. Despite these perils, many squatters have opted to set up whitespike "farms" on the surface of Wreathe, cultivating the growths to sell to aspiring drug runners. The local authorities have done little against these farms, instead focusing on confiscating whitespike as soon as it reaches Midas City, the capital of Wreathe.

The investigation of the Gray Landing and its captain was a textbook search, at least in most regards. The local government of Midas City issued a warrant for the arrest of its owner, Harold Walker, after a detained drug courier admitted selling several kilograms of biaxinin to him. When police approached the vessel at its dock, Walker sealed its airlocks and attempted to lift off. Fortunately, the authorities managed to seal the hangar where the trader was docked, giving the narcotics officers enough time to ground the Gray Landing and bore through its hull with a plasma torch.

"Nobody with nothing to hide does that," stated Sergeant Davenport. "Fortunately, Walker was still alive when we got to him. He even put up a fight when we went in to arrest him. It was almost like he was high off of spike himself--it was like he didn't feel pain."

Walker's arrest brings with it many disturbing questions. Given the rarity of whitespike, it is unlikely that even the most dedicated gatherer could supply that much biaxinin. The local authorities may have an explanation for this.

"From our analysis, we believe that the drug was either cut with something, or is an altered version of biaxinin itself," said Phyllis Carmichael, the narcotics officer who first analyzed Walker's shipment. "It has some of the same chemical properties, but in other respects, it's a completely different substance. For all we know, we could be dealing with a nastier version of the drug."

If this is the case, the government of Wreathe could have a whole new set of problems on its hands. The Concord primarily focuses on protecting neutral shipping, leaving only a few vessels free to enforce anti-smuggling regulations. The Alitarin government has offered no help to its distant colonial world, as it is still trying to free itself from the orbital blockade and occupation achieved by the Galvinites. This leaves Wreathe's government with barely enough resources to stem the tide of whitespike smugglers.

"Somebody has to be backing them," said a senior police official who requested to remain anonymous. "I think it's the Galvinites. They're just trying to wreak hell with our economy, and get thousands of Alitarins addicted. You know they're getting hopeless down there, and a little whitespike does a lot to get rid of pain like that..."

"A lot of the runners and growers we've captured seem to have trouble of their own..." said Sergeant Davenport. "It seems that somebody's trying to get a stranglehold on the market. Though I don't see where they'd set up their base of operations--in order to survive on Wreathe in the long run, you need habitat domes, and those need quite a bit of infrastructure and support." For now, the situation on Wreathe remains precarious indeed...

Reporter: Berylliumt

November 13, 2010 - dblade

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