That night Toliver drove the ship at high altitude over the planet. It was high enough to avoid most sensors, but not so high that it avoided the turbulence and air resistance, making the ride rather rough. Cy stood in the cargo hold in a slipstream suit. While slipstream suites were often used in military contexts, they had not yet been used at the heights and atmospheric density that Cy was about to test it in. Anyone but a Moorvat would certainly suffocate, though it wasn’t certain a Moorvat would survive either.
“Fishmonger, Gerard, Pyrite, and Ox are all in place. You ready?”
“Pyrite,” Toliver said into the comm, “You’re a go. Cy, drop zone in fifteen.”
Pyrite drove the truck up to the gate at the end of a long entryway.
“You’re not the usual driver,” the guard said.
“Aw, man, he was spewing like everywhere. All over everything and so the boss let him have a couple hours to go home and rest.”
“We weren’t notified…”
“Dude, it happened like just a few minutes ago.”
“Still we should have been notified.”
“Look, you ordered this stuff. If you want me to take it back I can, but don’t be crying to my boss asking for a refund or to get some other schmuck to come out cuz with that guy spewing, I’m all you’ve got.”
“What about George?”
“Dude, he eloped to Gleaning Rock.”
“He was already married.”
“That’s what made it so weird,” Pyrite said without skipping a beat. “His wife is nothappy, but she’s hot. She’ll find somebody.”
“And what about Sam? What happened to him?” the guard asked.
“Sam? I’ve never heard of a Sam, man.”
The security guard nodded and waved him on through. Pyrite drove the truck up to a loading bay at the back of the house where he backed in, taking out two lawn ornaments and a shrub along the way. He got out, whistling, and walked to the back door. He unlocked it and was about to open it when he heard a voice. “Stop!”
Pyrite whipped around, fire playing at his palms, but he saw a housemaid instead of the security guard he’d expected.
“The guest supplies go on the far side,” she said. “You will not leave them here and expect us to move them. Not again.”
“Okay, okay, where’s the other loading dock?” Pyrite asked. Fire played on his fingertips.
She pointed around the house on the far side. “Can’t miss it.”
“Over there?” Pyrite asked, pointing with one hand while stepping behind the woman and bringing full flame to the hand behind his back.
“We can’t afford a casualty here, Pyrite,” Toliver said. “If you start dropping bodies there will be consequences.”
“It’s just around the corner,” the woman said.
“The North loading dock?” Pyrite asked. The full flame still dancing on the hand behind his back.
“I will blow your arm off, here and now,” Toliver said, “if you don’t flame down.”
“Yes,” the woman said. She looked back at Pyrite. Something in his demeanor inspired fear in her.
Pyrite smiled and brought his hand from behind his back without the flame. “Look, lady, I gotta follow orders or they’ll terminate me. My delivery schedule says south loading dock. You wanna see the paperwork?”
This appeal to mundane bureaucracy set the woman at ease. She nodded and followed Pyrite to the cab of the truck.
“Those knuckleheads in central probably switched it up,” Pyrite said. He pulled out a stack of papers and skimmed through it. The woman waited patiently while Pyrite looked. “Hmmm, it says south in here. I’ll have to call it in.” Pyrite picked up a comm device and dialed his central command i.e. Toliver.
“Hey, Dingleberry,” Pyrite said into the comm, “I’m out at the Clawf estate and…” he put his hand over the comm and asked the woman, “What’s your name, ma’am?”
“Zweerga,” she said.
“Gerard, Ox, and Fishmonger go, go, go,” Toliver said.
“Yeah,” Pyrite continued, “the lovely miss Zweerga here is suggesting that the south side loading dock is the wrong place.”
Gerard opened the back of the truck from the inside. Ox pushed the cargo sled out silently on its anti-grav skids while Fishmonger covered them with dual plasma pistols.
“I don’t know, Dingleberry,” Pyrite said into the comm, “that’s what Miss Zweerga said.”
Ox pushed the cargo sled to an inconspicuous place and then followed Gerard and Fishmonger into the facility.
“No, the south end, Dingleberry.”
“Package in place,” Toliver said, “wrap it up.”
“You calling her a liar?” Pyrite yelled into the comm, “I will not stand for you to insult her honor like that.”
“We’re done. Move on.”
“She is a fine upstanding woman!” Pyrite yelled.
“You’d be lucky to have her you, two-faced son of a Joogla beast. That’s right, I’m talking to you, Regional Shipping Manager, Toliver Dingleberry.”
“You’re fired,” Toliver said.
“Too late for you, my complaints will be submitted to the Syndicate within the hour!” With that he threw the comm device into the truck.
Zweerga smiled at Pyrite. Her earlier fear of him was a distant memory.
To Be Continued…