Varner was happy to be alive. It wasn’t something he would usually admit to but, after such an intense battle, it was the truth. And really, it was the best case scenario in any war; the other option was being dead and that wasn’t going to work.
Climbing from the pilot’s seat, Varner took a moment to let the events of the previous hour take hold in his mind. He had been expecting some sort of trouble once he hit the blockade but having made successful runs to Norriv IX in the past, he felt he could handle it. His ship was not the fastest vessel out there, and by no means the most equipped for battle, but he was pretty damn sure he was the best pilot in the galaxy. It was that (self-proclaimed) status that had seen him through the unwelcome surprise that was waiting for him when he exited warp space. Varner was stunned when, not one, but two Alliance Warships loomed before him. His first impulse had been to make a run for it. He knew his cargo was restricted and that the Alliance would probably throw him in some deep, dark hole to spend the rest of his life in if they caught him. Varner had not lived as long as he had on the wrong side of the law by not trusting his gut, so within seconds of arriving he was already swinging his ship around and plotting an escape vector.
When the Corporate Movement ships arrived, Varner realized that he was officially screwed. The CM was at war with the Alliance and with the arrival of their bitter enemy, the Alliance Warships would be far too occupied to worry about Varner in his Mark 3 Transport (better known in the less desirable places as the Greedy Fox). However, once the fight began any ship within a twenty thousand kilometer range would be lucky to be anything more than atomized particles blowing in the cosmic winds.
Fifteen very tense minutes—and a severely damaged warp engine—later the Fox was limping away from the conflict as fast as she could manage. Varner didn’t know why the Alliance was blockading Norriv IX (they seldom gave a reason for their actions), or what the Corporate Movement would gain from provoking their enemies other than that was what they seemed to enjoy doing. But the long and short of the whole thing was that Varner would not be delivering his goods to the Lord High Regent anytime soon. He would end-up having to take his cargo back to the pick-up point on the forth moon of Dav.
Varner unbuckled himself from the pilot’s seat and headed to the cargo hold. There were few things worse in Varner’s line of work than not delivering a cargo but it was always better to cut-and-run than die for the cause as far as he was concerned.
With a sigh he opened the cargo-bay door. Varner found himself facing a dozen of the Lord Regent’s finest concubines.
“I got bad news ladies. I won’t be able to run the blockade. In fact, I barely got us out of there at all,” Varner said shaking his head disappointedly.
One of the women stepped forward. “What are you saying?”
Varner cleared his throat. “Well, it means we’re going back to Dav—even that’s going to take at least two weeks without a warp engine. I’m sorry to say, but until this blockade is over, the Lord Regent is going to have to go without your company.”
The cargo hold was silent as the women looked from one to another. Just when Varner though maybe he hadn’t been clear enough, the women erupted into whoops of laughter.
“Uh…” Varner was more than a tad confused by their reaction.
“Oh Mister Varner, you’ve made our day! The Lord Regent is an overweight, smelly old pig. The longer the blockade over Norriv IX holds, the better,” one of the ladies blurted.
“Besides Captain,” another one spoke up, “we could certainly do worse than spending some time with a handsome man like you. How long did you say it was going to take to get back to Dav?”
Varner couldn’t help but smile. “Two whole weeks.”
Yes sir, Varner was happy to be alive.