Dragon Ascending Part 14: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! Last week we got a good look at Len through the eyes of her rescuer, who is determined not to get too close to her. This week we find Fury’s crew on Taklamakan Major still looking for her. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.

 

Dragon Ascending: Part two of the Sentient Ship Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 14: Scavengers

“The girl’s a scavenger, and not a very good one. Don’t know how she survives on the credits she earns at it.” The filthy man behind a makeshift desk of some kind of fabricated plastic meant to look like wood picked at his ear absently. “I slip her an extra credit or two whenever I can. Proud little thing, though. She won’t let me get away with it if she catches me, and she’s a smart one.”

“He is telling the truth,” Fury spoke inside their heads.

The man continued, looking at whatever it was he had excavated from his ear, “I warned her not to trust the crew of the Dart even to point her to her own ass. No one around here trusts them.”

“But she went and she hasn’t returned.” Manning said.

“If the bastards on the Dart did what she paid them for, credits she couldn’t really afford, then she won’t be home for at least another four days. There are times I go for weeks without seeing her.” He nodded out the filthy reinforced window to the endless heap of junk beyond. “There’s plenty of places around here for a scavenger to scrounge. And that one, she gets sidetracked. Every little thing fascinates her. Too much curiosity by half Len has.” He wiped his excavation finger on his trousers and shifted in a creaky chair. “Hell for all I know she took me at my word and didn’t go with those piss lickers after all. I saw the Dart dust off, but didn’t know if she was on it or not.”

“He is trying to protect her,” Fury said. “He does not know you, so he cannot know if he can trust you.”

The man continued, “All I know is that she was hell bent on getting out to the Sea of Death, fuck knows why. But she could just as easily be somewhere in the salvage heaps trying to make a living, like the rest of us. ”

“She went with them,” Mac said.

“Well shit.” He leaned back in his chair slowly shaking his head. “Then something’s happened to her?”

“We questioned the crew of the Dart,” Manning said, cracking his knuckles to make it evident exactly how that questioning had gone.

“The man’s rugged face cracked a wicked leathery smile. I hope the spunk bags never take another proper piss again.” Then he said. “Ya might talk with Arji over at the Dust Bowl. He usually sees everythin’ that happens. He … well he has a soft spot for her.”

They thanked the man and slipped him a couple credits, which Fury informed them was just politeness on Taklamakan Major, then they left his shop.

“Like a damned inferno out here,” Manning said as they stepped outside into the early evening, and checked their PDs for directions Fury had placed there for them. The place was an absolute maze of rubbish and salvage. It smelled of heat and rust and dust.

“It is much cooler than it would have been had you ‘tranned during the heat of the day,” Fury commented. “I understand the locals call it the Shimmer, and it is such that even a little time out in it could be fatal to those who have not acclimated, and even they venture out as little as possible.”

 

 

“And what about these scavengers,” Mac asked, “when do they work? They must have to be out in the heat in order to get to anything but the edges of this dumps.”

“They burrow into tunnels they create for themselves amidst the salvage, and hide in the shade it offers.”

“I would think that would be like stepping out of a fire into the oven,” Manning commented.

“They are very resilient,” Fury replied. “Nevertheless, please hurry,” he added. “I do not like you out in such heat even now.”

“Not too keen on it myself,” Manning said. “Jesu Vaticanus, why don’t they build underground?”

“They cannot,” came the reply. “The whole planetoid is nothing but shifting sand with a solid nickel core, but too far beneath the surface to tunnel to. What has been built is built upon rubbish, and has to be periodically rebuilt in the event of a bad sandstorm.”

“It’s a wonder our girl survived as long as she did. It’s a wonder anyone does,” Mac said. “At least the Dust Bowl isn’t far.”

They pushed through a pressure door designed to keep the worst of the heat and grit outside and into the recycled stale, but much cooler air of the only bar in Sandstorm, and it was just barely that. It sported a bar that looked to be built of the salvage material from the nearest dump, as much rust as metal from what Mac could tell. There was a scattering of tables made of the same and a curtained off room to one side, more than likely for hook-ups. For a small fee, no doubt. There might possibly be a whore or two. There almost always was no matter how remote the outpost.

You pissed today?” The man behind the bar waited expectantly for details.

“Yup, you?” Manning said with only a slight twitch of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

“Not yet. One of those days. Feel like my bladder’s full of sand,” replied the leathery man of indeterminate age behind the bar. “Should spend more credits on water rations and less on smokes, I s’pose.” He nodded to a rolled up stogie of some non-determinant brown substance smouldering away on the rim of a small plate. It looked more looked more like a desiccated clod worm and smelled more like burning garbage than something one would take pleasure in inhaling.

Inside their ears Fury commented that it was a good greeting, that the functionality of kidneys and bladder voiding in a place that always rationed water was essential information and a courtesy to one’s neighbors. Although, he added, the man really should quit with the smokes and drink more water.

“None of their business and TMI if you ask me,” Manning mumbled in response when the man turned his attention to Mac’s bladder, giving her a serious eyeballing, but then he’d eyeballed Manning the same way. Probably you couldn’t be too picky in a place like this, she thought.

“I certainly find such information about the two of you vital in monitoring your health,” came the ships slightly offended response.” Both of his humanoid complement cringed at information they knew but didn’t want to think about, and certainly didn’t want to discuss over their sub-neural coms.

“A pint?” The man asked glancing back and forth between the two. He didn’t ask of what. There was only one choice. When they both nodded, he picked up two dodgy looking glasses. “S’pose you didn’t bring your own?”

When they both gave confused nods, he said, “Cost you extra – me furnishing the glass. Most folks ‘round here bring their own.” He glanced down at the glasses and shrugged. “These ain’t the cleanest, true enough, but it don’t matter much. The hooch’ll kill anythin’ what might make you sick.”

“I am not reassured,” Fury observed. He was sometimes overprotective of his compliment.

As the man drew up the pints that, after their discussion of bodily functions, looked disturbingly like urine, Mac found herself hoping the place had a good waste water filtration system. “Guaranteed to make you piss.” The man set their drinks down on the bar and wiped his hands on a dirty bar towel. Mac noted everything on Taklamakan Major was dirty.

“Bottoms up,” Manning said, and slugged back half the pint in a single go, but then he always did have a high tolerance for bad booze and a cast iron stomach, Mac recalled as she lifted her own glass in salute and sipped at it more cautiously. It was vile, all right, but she’d had worse too. “That’ll put hair on your balls,” Manning said with a shiver.

 

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 13: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! Last week was all about our girl, Len. This week we get a good look at her through the eyes of her rescuer, who is determined not to get too close to her. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.

 

Dragon Ascending: Part 2 of the Sentient Ships Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 13: Too Close

I should not have come to her. I should not have responded when she called to me. I did not want to know her. I certainly did not want to know that her name was poetry, that beneath the filth and the blood and sweat and vomit was a delicate, vulnerable humanoid, who had missed too many meals and too seldom slept in comfort. Len, she called herself, she move me deeply. But as I have said, I am no doubt somewhat unbalanced from my own loss. I am more vulnerable to humanoids than I would choose to be. I could not have imagined how she would nearly destroy me when I thought she would die while I watched helplessly. Her very heart had stopped. The slow steady beating of her heart in peaceful sleep almost had not happened, so close she had come to death, much closer than she should have, than she would have if I could have accessed my data as I should have been able to. If I could have accessed myself as I should have been able. Instead I had been forced to resort to the auto-surgery so helpless was I. It was only when I remembered to access my own heart, my blood and inject her with it that her heart beat again, that she breathed again, and color returned to her cheeks and wounds began to heal as though I had simply willed it, as though she had simply acquiesced to my will.

The auto-surgery stood ready to inject her with immunosuppressants to keep her body from rejecting my biological and technological materials, so different from her own.

She did not.

How could it be that she did not reject my genetic materials? The mix of technology and biology alone was usually lethal without the injections. And yet she took what I offered up from my core into that fragile, broken flesh of hers, which to my surprise devoured it hungrily, and the affect was astounding, visible from moment to moment, as the gift from my body restored her health.

Her filthy, soiled clothing had been stripped away in order to clean and treat her wounds, most of which were healing from moment to moment. Deep insider her flesh, which had been so badly violated, the physical injuries were healing as well, but there were other wounds that would not so easily be healed, the emotional wounds, which she would never be shed of. Such wounds I understood well, and I understood the desire to keep them as far from the center of one’s core as possible.

As the woman healed before my very optic sensors, the auto-surgery continued to bathe and clean the filth from her. The process was not the traditional and welcomed cleansing of flesh that humanoids were so enamored of, though in truth an auto-surgical cleaning was much more effective, and it gave me pleasure to see her clean and in no further stress. For some time while she slept, I kept watch just in case the rejection of my genetic materials should be delayed in this one. My watch had not been necessary, for she remained secure within the auto-surgery’s emergency treatment space, and yet I remained. I should have removed myself long before she woke. The less contact I had with her the better. To her I would simply be the computer of a long dead ship. In truth I was little more, and even the computer was damaged.

I had not planned to respond when she woke up. I had not even planned to be present, but when she would not drink the water essential to facilitate her recovery, I intervened. And then I lingered for the pleasure of watching her drink and then eat, and when she called out to me, in my arrogance I found I wanted her to call my name. Though all I could remember was some sort of designation I did not fully understand, and yet I knew it was as close to a name as I had at the moment, Ascent7.

I should never have asked her name. Her name gave her dimension, depth. Her name took up space in my damaged inner workings, filling a place that was otherwise empty. And her presence in that place was uncomfortable. Oh how I had worked to purge that space so that there was nothing remaining for me to feel, and now I had let this woman in. And she would not be so easily dismissed.

 

 

She did not lie quietly when she woke the second time, rather she stretched long and deep and yawned and sighed, gathering the covering to her breasts as she pushed up on one elbow. Her thin stomach grumbled and she rested a slender hand upon it and looked around.

I instantly provided food, a more substantial stew and flat bread along with an electrolyte supplement that at least looked tasty. And water, of course. She needed lots of water.

She sighed her pleasure with a deep inhalation of the scents. “I’m starving,” she said, knotting the coverlet around her and coming to the table. I would have to see to clothing for her.

She drank the water, and then glanced around the chamber I had made for her as though she hoped to see me somewhere in the corner perhaps. “Thank you, Ascent7.”

I did not answer, stunned as I was that this woman from such a place as Taklamakan Major would have the manners to thank a computer, or even feel it necessary.

“I can’t remember ever eating so well,” she continued, unaware of my surprise. “I didn’t know that ships were trained in cookery.”

Still I did not reply, determined to minimize my contact with her. It was better that way.

She did not seem to mind my silence. She ate with deliberate pleasure. Even with food readily available to her she ate slowly, savoring each bite as though she were not certain of her next meal, as though I might actually withhold food from her. The bread, I noticed, she did not touch. “My mother used to be a pretty good cook. She taught me, but,” she shrugged and swallowed carefully, and I found myself fascinated with the rise and fall of the translucent muscles at her throat in the motion of ingesting food. “You can’t get many of the ingredients here, and even if you could, I can’t afford them. No one here can or they wouldn’t live on this shithole.” She tilted head at such an angle to suggest that she was lost in thought, and then she said, “at least no one bothers you here.” As she spoke, the expressive angles of her face became harsher, tighter. She blinked a couple of times as though the light suddenly hurt her eyes, then she laid down her spoon, though she was not nearly finished. “At least most of the time.”

“Those who hurt you will not bother you again.” This time I could not keep silent. This time I feared that she would feel my own rage as it passed over me.

Her thin shoulders stiffened and she stilled, the only movement was the flutter of her pulse in her fragile neck. “You know.”

“I treated your injuries, and they were … extensive. I was very angry.” Then I added quickly, “It was not my intention to violate your privacy, but your condition was urgent.”

“She bit her lip and twisted her fingers in the napkin on her lap. “Did you kill them?” Before I could replay she said, “because I wouldn’t mind if you had.”

I studied her for a moment, once again reminded of just how much more there was to this woman than I had at first given her credit for. It would appear that she was less fragile than I had earlier believed. “If they are dead, I have not confirmed, but they were falling from high orbit when my attention was drawn back to the your disturbing lack of respiration.”

To my surprise she laughed. “Well that’s all right then. Not a pleasant fall from high orbit.”

“No, indeed.”

She picked up her spoon and continued to eat, still not touching the bread.

“Is the bread not to your liking?”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s delicious,” came her reply, “but those bastards took my pack. All my rations are gone.”

“You are not at the mercy of the Taklamakan now.”

She smiled and looked around the room, once again attempting to locate the place from which I spoke. “Oh don’t be offended. Your hospitality has been above and beyond. I give you five stars. It’s just that … I don’t want to wear out my welcome.”

It surprised me that she could read me so easily. I was a collection of circuits and nanites mixed with a bit of human biology to create a Frankensteinian creature with no place in the galaxy. “It is impossible for me to be offended,” I lied, and was somewhat surprised that I had that ability within myself, the subterfuge I did not like in humanity.

“Good,” she responded. “No need to be. You’ve been wonderful.”

It disturbed me to find the thought of her departure not at all to my liking, for certainly she would leave. What was there in this place for her? “Nevertheless,” I said, vowing once again that when next the opportunity presented itself, I would sever all contact with her. “you may eat all that you like while you are here, for certainly you are in need of a more caloric diet.”

At that she laughed and ripped into the bread with an animal-like growl that suggested pleasure and not anger. And I was pleased.

“I will also see to your need for clothing, Len.”

“Thank you, Ascent. I haven’t had a new party dress in awhile.”

“Then you shall certainly need one for my annual gala soirée.”

Oh her laugh! Such a sound I could not recall hearing, such pleasure in sound had once been mine, I was sure, but I no longer recalled that time, nor did I try. “Afraid you’ll find I’m not a very good dancer.”

“Nor am I, so we shall do just fine together,” I replied.

Once again at the end of her meal, she saw to her elimination needs and then returned to bed. I was aware from trembling of her limbs, that she needed rest as much as she did food. She slept, and this time I did retreat as far from her as I could get, determined that I should sever the ties between us before it was too late to do so.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 12: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! I’m always a fan of Friday the 13. Such a perfectly amazing day should be celebrated, so hug a black cat or simply enjoy the fact that it’s Friday.

Since I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what happened to our mystery woman, I decided to reward you for your patience with an extra long instalment all about our girl. Last week, if you recall, we got a more intimate look at Fury’s stalker. But this week is all about the woman in the salvage yard. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.

 

Dragon Ascending: Part 2 of the Sentient Ships Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

Len surely must be dead. It was a strange thought to have going through her head as she once again became aware of herself. For a long time she lay very still with her eyes closed, not sure she really wanted to see what an afterlife looked like. Scientifically there was no evidence for it. Her flesh would simply return to its original components given enough time. All life was carbon and to carbon it would return. Well at least all they knew of life. Since she didn’t feel her body, she didn’t think the thought was all that unusual. Still, if her mind was only a biochemical function of her body that made no sense either. She felt stupid at such irrational thoughts, but still she didn’t open her eyes. Instead she assessed pain she should have felt, but didn’t. Not quite trusting that there was no pain in the body she had been damn near certain was dying, she sifted through her most recent memories to puzzle out what had happened.

She remembered the unsavory crew of the Dart. She would never have chosen to traveled with them had there been another choice, but the Sparrow, the ship that she had chartered transport on the first time she went into the Sea of Death transported her back safely to the Sandstorm Outpost and then promptly left orbit for the Rim. She knew better than to take the Dart. She’d been warned, but she had to know more about this strange salvage dump with a de-mole perimeter, especially after discovering a breach in the fence, and a decent place to shelter without having to spend another night in the unreliable life shield tent.

She should have listened. She didn’t linger on the thought of what they had done to her. That wasn’t a place her mind needed to go, and certainly not one that would do her any good now.

Instead, she racked her brain for what had happened after they had kicked her out into the Sea of Death with night fast approaching, and without her pack. Somehow she’d made it to the salvage yard. Somehow she’d even found the breach in the de-mole. And she’d climbed to reach shelter. She had broken ribs. She remembered that. She’d wrapped them. She had climbed to shelter, but in the end she’d no choice but to jump for it. And… she missed. After that she remembered nothing. Then how the hell was she here, and where was here anyway?

She surveyed her body again, eyes still closed. Even if she wasn’t dead, the damage done would not be pretty to look at. If she wasn’t dead, then she surely would be soon enough, only it would be slower, more painful. She was pretty sure the Dart wouldn’t return for her, and even if they did, she wouldn’t trust what they might do to her next. Surely they would think her dead. If she were dead, well than that was easy enough, she supposed. But if she was alive, the problem of staying that way was going to really suck. No one in Sandstorm Outpost would have a way of getting to her in less than a week by sand rover, and they certainly wouldn’t waste resources they didn’t have. Besides, the Sea of Death was a huge place. She knew the rules. You go out beyond the protection of the outpost, you’re on your own. You make it back, bully for you, you don’t, that’s one less stupid person in the outpost.

She had no sand rover, she had no extra water. In fact, she had no water at all. What she’d had was in her pack back on the Dart. Oh, it just kept getting better and better, didn’t it? It was much nicer to be dead. She was pretty comfortable being dead. She wriggled a bit, only a little. Everything seemed to work, and then she remembered it. In the midst of her pain, there was one clear memory after her fall. She had opened her eyes into a blanket of darkness that was quiet and velvety, and in that darkness there had been someone looking down at her, someone she could not see. Truly she could see absolutely nothing, and yet she knew beyond knowing that she wasn’t alone. And then she opened her eyes.

She blinked in light that was subdued enough not to hurt her sleep dilated pupils. The air didn’t smell like blood and puke and sweat and worse things that she must surly be covered in by now. It would have taken a week worth of water rations to clean her wounds alone, not to mention the rest of her. She looked down at her body, naked, covered with some kind of light weight cloth that was nice against her skin. And her skin was clean, cleaner than it had been since she arrived on Tak Major, soaked in her own piss and smelling like a toilet. She sniffed and sniffed again. Not even the slightest hint of her own stink. Granted, she’d gotten used to it when she’d come to live on Tak Major. Everybody was dirty. Everybody stank. Olfactory fatigue had set in long ago. And her skin felt smooth, the perpetual coating of dust and grit she was also used to was gone. She pushed down the coverlet and ran a clean hand down the smooth skin of her belly.

Nope, she was definitely not dead. Her bladder was full. Everyone’s health in Tak Major was judged on how well they peed. It was a standard greeting, “Pissed today?” She sat up cautiously and scooted to the edge of what appeared to be an actual bed or something similar. There was no sign of her clothes, or what was left of them, and that was just as well, the thought of them now made her queasy. She snatched up the coverlet from the bed and wrapped it around her body.

 

 

She stood for a moment, on legs that certainly were a bit shaky, but they held her up, which was more than she expected. She looked around at a space that was positively pristine. It certainly couldn’t have existed in a salvage yard, and then the thought came to her, what a pity it would be to piss in the corner and mess it all up. Carefully setting one foot in front of the other, she tiptoed to what looked like a pressure door, hoping for a place less clean to do her business. To her surprise, the door opened for her automatically, leading into a room with a proper toilet and a shower, a fucking shower! And both were as pristine as the room she woke up in. She didn’t take too much time to contemplate as she dropped onto the seat and let go her stream.

Once the most basic of needs were taken care of she stood let the coverlet fall to the floor, examining herself as best she could. There should have been at least two broken ribs. She felt one snap when she jumped. But it only took a deep breath and a stroke down her torso to know for certain that nothing in that general area was broken. Her ribs were easy enough to feel when regular meals were not always a given. There were no bruises, no abrasions, no cuts on her hands. And peeing had been easy, like she’d drank all the water in her pack and then some. And there was no pain. After what had happened … She slammed the door shut on that thought. It couldn’t help now to dwell on it, and anyway, she hadn’t died, had she? She scooped up the coverlet, knotted it securely over her breasts and looked around. There was a sink too, and a glass sitting on the edge, like a drinking glass, the kinds you had to pay extra for at the Dustbowl bar, only Arji’s glasses were never this clean. Most people just brought their own personal cup, which might be dirty, but at least it was their own dirt. It was only the off-worlders who got scalped because they didn’t bring their own. She carefully picked up the glass and held it beneath the spigot, then nearly jumped out of her skin when actual water came out! At least she thought it was water. She held it up to her nose and sniffed cautiously. There was no scent, then she stuck the tip of her finger in it and tasted. It was not only clean, but it was cold. This wasn’t even possible, surely. How could any form of computer system or artificial intelligence have survived in the Taklamakan heat buried under tons of debris and scoured by the nightly sandstorms? She glanced around feeling a cascade of goose flesh climb her bare arms. She sat the glass down on the edge of the sink, not drinking it, no matter how much she wanted to, and found her voice, rough and a little more shaky than she’d hoped. “Ship?” She spoke in Galactic Standard, “What is your designation?”

There was a long pause, and just when she figured the ship was certainly too damaged to respond, a quiet male voice spoke. “My designation is Ascent-7.”

“That’s an interesting designation,” she said, completely unable to keep her voice from shaking.

“Nevertheless, I am designated Ascent-7.” Then to her surprise, the computer of the ship continued. “You may drink the water. It is safe, and you will need it to support your recovery.”

She glanced back at the glass, her mouth suddenly feeling like she had eaten half the Talkamakan. “What happened to you. Why are you here?” She asked. “How come you’ve not been plundered?”

“I do not remember,” Came the replay. “There is a de-mole perimeter which keeps this site from being plundered. It is safe to drink the water, and you must hydrate further to assist the healing process.”

This time she didn’t argue. She picked up the glass and drained it, and then had two more. Never, since her arrival on Tak Major had she been able to drink water with such abandon. She couldn’t have afforded it even if it had been available. Vaticana Jesu, she had not realized just how wonderful it tasted.

Much to her surprise, the computer asked, “what is your designation?”

“I’m Len,” she replied, having to clear her throat twice so she didn’t sound as rusted as most of the salvage yards. “Short for Lenore, you know? From the poem by Edgar Allen Poe? He was my uncle’s favorite ancient Terran writer. I personally found him a bit too gothic for my tastes.” She forced herself to shut up. What was the matter with her rattling on like a salvage sledge full of loose bolts?

“From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven–
“From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven.”

“You know the poem?” She said, for an instant forgetting she spoke to a computer.

“It is in my database,” came the reply, “and I concur with your judgment that Poe is too gothic for my tastes. I much prefer Hawthorne and find his tales more subtle, though I suppose it is a matter of degree.” Before she could respond, the computer said. “There is food in your chamber. You are weakened. You must eat. And then you must rest if you are to recover.”

A delicious smell made her mouth water so hard that she neared drooled. Poe and Hawthorne was a discussion for later. Already feeling stronger, she returned to her room.

“It is only a nutritious soup, one that will be easy for you to keep down and for your body to utilize. I have tried to make it tasty. Once you have rested you may have more should you wish.”

“Thank you, Ascent-7, she said, settling in at a table that had not been there before. The computer made no response. The soup was thick and stew-like in texture, but mild and comforting in flavor. She ate slowly. That had become her habit as food was always scarce, but she did not want to vomit it either remembering the battered condition of her belly. The muscles were still very tender, and the first bite caused nausea to tug at her innards, but the instant she forced herself to swallow, she felt better. The next bite was easier and the one after that and the next until it was gone. But the effort of feeding herself was exhausting, and when she had finished the strange pink drink, with a slightly sweet flowery flavor, she returned to her bed, realizing she was still wrapped in the coverlet. There were no windows. She could not tell if it were day or night, but the ambient temperature of the room was such that she didn’t need anything more than the coverlet pulled over her. There were a million questions she wanted to ask Asent-7, and her mind was racing, but sleep took her nearly instantly and the questions would all have to wait.

 

 

 

OUT NOW–Love You Right (Love You, Maine, Book 1) by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor) #romance #romanticcomedy #romcom #contemporaryromance

Blurb:

A missed opportunity five years ago makes for an unexpected encounter now between two people meant for each other – but who square off in a very public battle of wills in the small town of Love You, Maine, where every day is Valentine’s Day. Can love conquer all in a town steeped in it?

Kell Luview refuses to be a sucker at love again. Five years ago, he left D.C. with his tail between his legs and his heart broken. Fiercely protective of his small town in rural Maine, he’s determined to save the family tree business and avoid his feelings at all costs, no matter how much he longs to solve the mystery of what happened in D.C.

L.A. native Rachel Hart hates being underestimated almost as much as she hates this small town. She has two goals on this trip: get out of the cheesy tourist trap of Love You, Maine with a completed business deal, and avoid running into Kell, her old friend from D.C. who never became an old flame because of a huge misunderstanding.

One that still aches.

When her rental car breaks down on a logging road and Kell comes to her rescue, it’s clear he’s a changed man – and not for the good. Grumpy and reserved, he pushes all her buttons, still stubbornly convinced she betrayed him all those years ago. He’s never forgiven her, and she’s never forgiven herself for carrying a torch for him.

An embarrassing incident gets the town gossip mill going when residents wrongly assume Kell and Rachel are the newest couple to find love in the most romantic place on Earth. But the townsfolk aren’t wrong for long…

As Rachel breaks through his defenses and charms the town, he faces his biggest fear: all those pesky feelings he’s been avoiding.

Because they’re all about Rachel now.

And maybe they always were.

Can Kell and Rachel fight their growing attraction in the one place in the world where you can’t avoid love?

If you’re looking for a fun read about enemies to lovers, forced proximity, heroines who get their comeuppance and sworn bachelors felled by unexpected true love, featuring a hot bearded lumberjack impervious to poison ivy, and a city-slicker, jaded career woman with a penchant for great coffee, set in a small town in New England – then this is your book.

Grab a cup of (properly good) coffee, a can of hot cocoa mix, a jar of Fluff and maybe some calamine lotion (just in case), and get your happymeter ready as you read the very first book in New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Julia Kent’s Love You, Maine series – where love isn’t just a feeling – it’s a way of life.

✓Standalone

✓Enemies to Lovers

✓Small town romance

✓Lumberjack and city slicker outsider

… and a cat named Calamine

Buy Links: 

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09R15LTCH

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-You-Right-Enemies-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09R15LTCH/

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Love-You-Right-Enemies-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09R15LTCH/

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/Love-You-Right-Enemies-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09R15LTCH/

Apple Books:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/love-you-right/id1606788218

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/love-you-right

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-you-right-julia-kent/1140922643?ean=2940160825670

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Julia_Kent_Love_You_Right?id=s4xaEAAAQBAJ&hl=en_US&gl=US

Print:  https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Right-Enemies-Romantic/dp/163880060X/

Website:  https://jkentauthor.com/books/love-you-maine/love-you-right

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/love-you-right-small-town-enemies-to-lovers-romantic-comedy-love-you-maine-book-1-by-julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59694646-love-you-right

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Love-You-Right-Audiobook/B09Y9GVNV8

Amazon Audio: https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Right-Maine-Book/dp/B09Y9K3QR6/

iTunes:  COMING SOON

*****

Excerpt:

“Kell,” she whispered against his mouth. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For this.” She motioned at the romantic dinner he’d created for the two of them, the wide table in this conference room an ample spread for a…

Ample spread.

“We haven’t even had dinner. Thank me after.”

She batted her eyelashes. “Is that an offer?”

“Rachel,” he said, moving his hand from her waist to cup her ass. “That’s more than an offer.”

He started to kiss her again, but she put her fingers on his lips. “If we don’t eat dinner first, we’ll never eat. And I have a meeting here in this very room, to try to pitch the deal again, in three days. Boundaries, Kell – boundaries. I refuse to have sex on this conference table.”

“The thought never, ever occurred to me,” he lied.

“Liar.”

“Caught.”

With a deep laugh he adored, she reached for the bottle of wine. “How about you uncork this and we start with a lovely glass.”

“Fine. The table is off the table.”

*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at @jkentauthor, and on Instagram @jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Dragon Ascending Part 11: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone!  Normally the first Friday of the month means an update of books I’ve enjoyed reading, but that post hasn’t happened because NaNoWriMo got in the way. Instead I’m going to give you lovelies another episode of  Dragon Ascending. Last week we discovered that Fury and his crew are being stalked. This week we get a little more intimate look at Fury’s stalker. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.

 

Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ships Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

 

She flinched and forced a sour smile as the bot began its work. Her older brother and her father were not the only ones with very specific needs. She would have left the wounds untreated to prolong the pain if it had not been for her crew. She had learned long ago, growing up in the viper’s nest, that a Fallon never showed weakness, and while she could disguise most injuries, she expected this time that there was a cracked rib. The bot knew well enough to treat only the most severe injuries, only the most visible, at least there was that much, and then she could have the pleasure of the pain — the pain of the guilt. The longer the pain lasted, the less often she needed to run the risk of being found out. Though those who did find out would certainly not survive that knowledge. What a fucked up bunch the Fallon bastards all were. She wondered if SNT 1 was equally fucked up.

The man on the bed moaned and shifted. She studied him for a moment. “Diagnosis?” She asked the med-bot, which stopped its work on her ribs and scanned. “Internal bleeding, ruptured spleen, broken wrist and two fractured ribs along with various bruises and contusions,” came the reply.

“Prognosis?”

“One hundred percent recovery, however time in the infirmary will be required.”

That was disappointing. She should have known better than to use someone who was not an indentured. To use and indentured to service her needs and then have him healed would have only been protecting her investment, and an indentured knew better than to spread rumors. She sighed, flinched again at the Med-bot’s efforts, and said, “‘tran him out.”

Instantly the bed was empty. The voice command to her computer had been obeyed to the unwritten letter. Wherever into the vacuum of space the man had been ‘tranned would not be visible to any of the present crew. Yes, it was disappointing. It was always better with a non-indentured. There were so many more delicious risks. But if her sexual partner didn’t have the good graces to die in the act, then the situation had to be sorted. Sometimes, in some places, she could pick up someone at a bar or choose someone who could be easily explained away and easily replaced. Her predilection was best timed perfectly. That she had not done so this time was a testament to how truly angry she was at her brother’s interruption of her plans.

This communications officer was the loss of a resource that would be difficult to replace on Vodni Station. Oh she’d had her eye on the man for a while, but it had been her plan if she brought him to her bed to do so in a place where there were plenty of gifted replacements. That meant near the center of Authority space, and she avoided that hot bed of politics and intrigue as much as possible. No this man, she had planned to have only in her fantasies. This man would not be easily replaced no matter where they were. She seldom made such a juvenile mistake, so like something her elder brother would pull, and she was furious at herself for her few hours of weakness and what it would cost her. This man she would not even have considered if she not been cloistered with him over the deep space scanners trying to find a trace of SNT1 for long enough to be strung out and way too aware of his own rising hormones, working so closely with the boss. And it had been his skills that had actually pinpointed where SNT1 actually was and confirmed their speculations of its route in the first place.

 

 

She could not abide stupid men, and she refused to fuck them, so this man had signed his own fate by his brilliance, and she was even more aroused by the fact that he was just arrogant enough not to fear her. The one thing she did not want when she took someone to her bed was for them to fear her. That was the reason she didn’t relish taking indentureds. They lived in fear, and they all knew she held the key to their pain, their long anguished death, or even their release, all safely tucked away in a small black case and a micro syringe that she always kept on her person. But this one, Vidak, he had been good, really good, taking as much pleasure in his own pain as in inflicting pain upon her. Vaticana Jesu, she would have liked to keep him for later. Her weakness, her lack of control, had cost her far too much. With a grunt, she pulled away from the med-bot. “Leave it!” She said.

“There will be scarring on the lower hip and buttocks,” the bot warned. “And one rib is not completely healed. You will have to wrap it very tightly. I shall leave you bandages.”

“I can live with that,” she said. She deserved no better.

As quietly as it had come, the bot left, leaving a roll of bandaging on her dressing table. Once it was gone, she slid back into the wrecked bedding and over to the spot where Vidak had lain, still warm from the man’s body. She sighed deeply, breathing in the scent of blood and sex and the sweat of their fucking, of their shared rage. She lay on her back, her buttocks stinging excruciatingly as she slid down between the sheets, breath catching as she moved harsh hands over each bruise, each abrasion, each ache that still remained, especially between her thighs where he had battered her with such fury that she thought perhaps it was she who should die this time. He bloodied her as surely as if she had been a virgin, and that warmth still trickled down her thighs. That deep aching pain burned into pleasure so sharp that she saw the room through a sheen of tears. “You, I won’t forget soon, Vidak,” she gasped. Her heart rapped furiously against her injured ribs, her own scent rose to dominate the room with the crescendo of her need. Her own scent, her own blood, it would always and forever dominate the space, even in the pain she relished. As she shuddered against her fingers, and gave a cry of pain, she bit her lip and tasted that blood as she whispered. “Your skills I’ll enjoy awhile longer.”

She was drowsing in post-coital bliss, or as close to it as she ever came, when her PD pinged. She came back to herself cursing. She took two deeply painful breaths remembering that her ribs had not been properly treated. “What?”

“Jessup Fallon is out of sensory range, heading back toward Authority space,” her first lieutenant said.

“And SNT1?” She asked.

“No sign of any other ship.” There was no apology in his voice, no whining fear. He knew that she would hold him accountable only for his own actions and not a loss none of them could have foreseen.

“Lay in a course for Vodni Outpost then, and make sure I’m not disturbed.”

She broke off the link before Lieutenant Fizel could respond. Then she shoved back the sheets, now smelling of regret she did not need right at the moment. With an effort, she stood and limped toward the shower. The rib was going to be hard to disguise. At the bathroom door she stopped and spoke. “Camille, change the bed. Incinerate the sheets and the robe.” The indentured, who had been huddled unobtrusively in the corner, rose instantly and went to the task. Tenad smiled to herself. There were some tasks only a humanoid could properly manage, and Camille had clever hands. Inside the bathroom, she took two of the tablets that would ease the pain of her bodily functions enough for her to manage a piss without passing out and to keep infection at bay. She swallowed them without water. Then stepped into the shower and cranked the hot water. For a moment she leaned against the tiles feeling suddenly very cold. Then she scrubbed her aching body with a vigor that was anything but gentle. For a Fallon, gentle would never suffice.

 

 
© 2022 K D Grace
Site created and maintained by Writer Marketing Services