Villalba, world of a hundred thousand luxurious resorts, where any and every pleasure is for sale. A planet chock-full of tropical island paradises, where the rich come to play and the hopeful come to pray. Fortunes are won and lost here 29 hours a day in the casinos that never close. Gambling for anything, on anything, from cards to shark fights, dice to gladiators; if it can be wagered upon, it’s on Villalba.
“If games of chance aren’t your addiction of choice, rest assured that whatever is can be found here. We will cater to your every whim. Fantasy fulfillment, pampering, body enhancement, sensory stimulation of every sort – if you can dream it we have a place for you to live it.”
Few gamblers ever come out ahead, though. It’s a given that the odds are always fixed in the house’s favor. That hasn’t changed since the first gambling hall opened back at the dawn of history.
Until now. Now, suddenly, if you can believe the rumors, anyone can go into any casino on the planet and come away a winner. It’s incredibly easy, so the stories go. It’s as if the casinos have all decided to generously pay out all the trillions of credits they’ve collected over the centuries, to anyone and everyone who walks through their doors.
“It all started about three months ago when a new drug called ‘Peek’ showed up. Now, this isn’t any kind of feel-good or take-me-away drug – we’ve got plenty of those available legally. No, what Peek does is much, much worse. It gives its user a peek into the future. The way I understand it, the user can see an overlapping image of all the possible outcomes of whatever he concentrates on. The more likely a particular outcome, the clearer he sees it.”
Needless to say, I didn’t try my luck at the casino that night. Instead, I took my purchase and let the most sophisticated scanner on the planet have a look at it.
This incredibly sophisticated device, ansible linked to classified databases on several different planets, was not located in Villalba’s planetary forensics laboratory. Nor did it belong to any of the elite security services that maintained offices there. It was, rather, aboard my highly customized tramp freighter, the Wah, an integral part of the auto-medic system, actually.
What I learned confirmed what both Gov. Svensson and Sam had told me about it, mainly that it is like nothing else ever seen in this universe. In fact, according to both Sam and my equipment, parts of it exist in several additional dimensions that modern physicists can’t even agree on the properties of.
And every resource I referenced agreed that it could not have been made in this universe.