Being a professional stowaway was a pretty good gig, Sam always thought. The shipping lanes were always thick with goods and people moving from one place to another, and greasing the right palms could net the enterprising unregistered passenger a few square feet to call their own, to almost any location imaginable. The ships were always over-engineered and -supplied, meaning Sam always managed to make due, scrounging for loose foodstuffs, bedding, and entertainment.

Most trips were simple affairs – get smuggled aboard, find a small bolt-hole to claim as a temporary home, and avoid the occasional security or maintenance worker who poked into otherwise undisturbed corners of the hull. Offboarding was the easiest part of any trip – what company checks the IDs of people leaving their transports? Traveling was a good way of life – interesting people, unique places, and nearly unfettered access to experiences stationary people couldn’t believe.

Sam largely paid for the trips by bootlegging – some people were willing to pay a premium for genuine goods from foreign places, particularly if it meant avoiding exorbitant tariffs or troublesome legal questions. The import/export trade was booming business, but Sam stopped short of transporting packages directly between third parties – there were far too many stories of “private couriers” getting caught with truly horrendous contraband, or unstable materials that never should have been shipped in the first place. Sam relied on old-fashioned knowledge of supply and demand to make coin, rather than private contracts. It wasn’t nearly as lucrative, but far safer.

There were of course drawbacks to living between ports of call, not having a home to go back to, but Sam felt the freedom was well worth the occasional pang of lonliness that struck when, after pulling into dock, passengers would run to the waiting embrace of loved ones. Having no stable home meant few friends, nobody to share birthdays with, and no one on whom to rely when things got complicated. It also meant paying no taxes, living free of attachments, and completely avoiding the petty dramas which seemed to define others’ lives. Sam lived on the periphery of normal society, able to see and touch without getting pulled under. At least, that was the goal.