Offspring Ch. 016byTalemaster©
I tried to digest what I had just seen. If my assumptions were right and the humans were in charge of everything that required more intelligence than Oktonians possessed there had to be a lot of humans there. At least the reactor and presumably the hydrolysis plant as well had to be manned around the clock. Depending on the degree of automation this would require some five hundred to one thousand humans to keep the show on the road. This was far more than the Oktonians could recruit from the space station. So where had these people come from?
There seemed to be no one standing over them with a gun so presumably they weren't slaves. The technology they were using was little more than Earth technology of the late twentieth century. A people with that kind of technology cannot build space ships like the Oktonians had. And where were the overlords and how did they control the people? My head swam. So many questions and so few answers. I had to talk to Feng. I would see him in the morning. There was no point in calling him now.
Another restless night.
I met Feng at ten o'clock as arranged. He was stunned when I told him what I had discovered.
"And you reckon their main activity is on that smaller island you showed me?"
"Still looks like it. There is no alien technology without heat signatures that I've seen. I am still certain the cities are virtually dead. I doubt there is much more activity where I was than what I saw. You would hear the noise of a big city, if nothing else. The rest of the city wasn't lit up either. I bet it's deserted apart from that hydrolysis plant."
"Assuming they use the same system on the island and have humans in charge of the difficult things, how many humans do you think they'd need?"
"Another ten thousand at a minimum," I said wondering where Feng was going.
"There must be a human colony somewhere."
"How do you make this out?"
"We know the Oktonians don't recruit immigrants. They get a few here at the spaceport through the sex, but that would only be a trickle. There is only one other source; the slave trade.
"Can you imagine what a slave costs delivered on Okton4? It's cheaper to buy male and female slaves and allow them to breed. They'd still buy premium slaves from time to time to bring fresh blood or talent in, but they couldn't do it in huge numbers. Don't forget they would only buy the best, they've got low grade labourers and whores enough and that is what the slave trade mostly supplies."
"If they have a human colony, why entice people here on the space station?"
"No one here on Okton4 is an idiot or labourer. Just about everyone who arrives here has some specialised skill. Here they get smart people at bargain rates. That's why they only allow men. Don't forget about the hybrids."
"Makes sense. Where does that get us though?"
"There must be some amongst them whose stay on Okton4 is not a happy one. Look for those, they will help you find out everything you want to know."
"How do you think the humans are controlled?"
"Through the food supply. We don't know if there is anything growing out there humans can eat. They can't grow anything they are used to because they have no plants or seeds or domestic animals. Do as you're told, or you don't eat. Simple."
"That would explain why there is so much Earth food here. But we know how much is coming in. We would know if they bought food for ten thousand extra people, wouldn't we?"
"The Feds only know what comes in from what the traders tell them. They have no way of checking. All the loading and unloading areas are off limits to them. I know from my own people how much shit they sell to the Oktonians that the Feds don't know about. Besides, the Feds might want to know where the stuff came from. Nobody wants that. All the official stuff is paid for with Lithium ore. The clandestine stuff is traded for precious metals and gemstones. The Feds suspect this is going on, but they have no way of proving it."
"Tell me Feng, how do the traders do business with the Oktonians. Who do they talk to?"
"There are fifty accredited negotiators. All transactions, legal or clandestine, between the Oktonians and the humans go through them. The negotiators are human. After what you told me they're probably Oktonians, born and bred here. No one fucks with them, not even the Feds."
"Alright, that's it for now. Is the camera ready?"
"Oops, I nearly forgot." He reached in his pocket and handed it to me. I was still worried how I could get that monster up my arse, but I would try.
"What is the maximum recording time I can get out of this?"
"That depends on how many frames per second you need and at what resolution you are recording. What are you trying to do?"
"I want to train the camera on the factory exits and see how many people go in and out. There is presumably a shift change. It'll give me an idea of how many employees there are."
"Put it on three frames per second and half maximum resolution. That'll give you just over twenty-four hours."
"Perfect. Now let's go and get something to eat and have a few drinks.
"By the time I got back to my hotel it was four in the afternoon."
I had a bit of trouble inserting the camera when the time came, but I managed. Once it was inside it was no more uncomfortable than the previous one. When I got to my preselected spot I found a place where I could position the camera. I set it according to Feng's instructions and went back home. No point in hanging around and risk exposure. Once I knew something about their routines it would be a different matter.