Once again, we’re back on schedule! It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury day. In today’s episode of Fury, Gerando makes an astounding discovery. If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday.
“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAllister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.
Piloting Fury Part 41: Long Lost Family
Once they were in the corridor and junior could manage enough breath to speak, he said, “I’m gonna need the auto doc.” After that they both kept their mouths shut while the two berserkers marched them back to their quarters. Rab figured it was a pretty safe bet that they were still only just outside the door. They were as much prisoners as the poor bastard in the dungeon.
“Get me some water, would you?”
Rab was surprised by the request. After what they’d just seen, he figured there wasn’t enough whiskey onboard the Apocalypse to make either of them feel better.
“Why the fuck did you do that, you stupid twit? You’re goddamn lucky your old man didn’t kill you.”
The kid stepped into the bathroom and Rab heard him rinsing his bloodied mouth and spitting in the sink.
“Oh he won’t kill me, at least not yet. He’s having way too much fun toying with me.”
“Vaticana Jesu in a shackle, where the hell do monsters like him come from?”
“Been asking myself that my whole life.” There was no humor in the kid’s voice. “Then I look in the mirror and I have a pretty good idea.”
What the kid got up to next left Rab gaping in confusion. From the autodoc’s medical replicator, he ordered up several swabs and ran one around the inside of his cheek, then he placed it on a slide and slipped it into the micro analyzer and closed the tray.
“What the fuck?” Rab said, stepping closer and looking over his shoulder. “Is that a goddamned paternity scan?”
“That’s exactly what it is.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Oh it’s not for me. I know I’m Abriad Fallon’s bastard. He always has the whores he knocked up tested to make sure he isn’t about to get saddled with raising someone else’s brat. Never married any of them, never had a legitimate Fallon, but he’s got enough bastards to populate a small moon, and those are just the ones he knows about. The smart women who find themselves with a little surprise growing in their belly from the old man get as far away from him as they can and make sure no one ever suspected their brats might be Fallon’s.” He took a fine metal tool and cleaned his father’s blood and skin tissue from under his nails. “I wasn’t that lucky,” He said quietly. Then he repeated the process with the micro-analyzer. When the analysis matched, he said without enthusiasm, “see. Told you. Chip off the old block. Sad to say, no matter how many times I run the test, the results will always be the same. That was the control. What?” he said when Rab blew out a long low whistle of surprise, “you didn’t think I was smart enough to manage a little science experiment?”
Rab raised an eyebrow and folded his arms across his chest. “You just picked a fight with your old man. How bloody smart can you be?”
The kid just chuckled, then he moved away from the auto doc to the computer bay. To Rab’s surprise, he opened the CPU and pulled up some gobblety-gook on the monitor that meant nothing to Rab. Then he took a similar device to that he had used for the nail scrapings of his father’s tissue and ran it along the edge of the unit. At his touch, the symbols on the screen convulsed and quivered. “Sorry about that,” he spoke to the guts of the computer as he shut the unit back up and placed a third slide into the analyzer tray. This time he stood over the machine like a Digan fire vulture waiting to pounce. When the analysis was finished, he jerked the slide off the auto doc to get to the results. He blew out a breath like he’d been gut punched, and his shoulders were so tight, he looked like he’d been stretched on the goddamned rack himself. Speechless, he dropped back into the chair, and went all pale-like.
“You all right?” Rab came to his side, wondering if his father had maybe done some internal damage or something.
Gerando just nodded, and swallowed like he had a Kingston cave worm stuck in his throat. He licked lips gone all dry and said, “I was right.” His words came out all harsh and scratchy in the back of his throat. He stood and moved back to the computer bay. “The Apocalypse contains genetic material from SNT1, from the Fury.”
“The fuck!” Now it was Rab’s turn to drop into the auto doc chair like he’d been shot. “Are you telling me this ship’s an SNT?”
“Yes,” Then he shook his head. “Well, not exactly. There are data streams running through the CPU that are completely non-organic, simply a very sophisticated computer, but these,” he pulled up the strange patterns he’d had up when he had taken the scraping, “these are organic, these are … well, they’re like brain waves. The thing is,” he scrolled down through the pages and pages of what Rab could definitely distinguish now as two forms of symbol, what looked like some type binary code or some such, and fuck if the other squiggles didn’t look like … well … brainwaves and the graphs on a heart monitor. Well, they weren’t obvious at all unless you knew what you were looking for. And at the moment he was staring at the kid, who only shrugged. “Told you I hacked my father’s data base about the SNTs.
“How the hell did you know to check for it?”
“The same things that cued us in to the fact that the Fury was an SNT clued me in. The Apocalypse was cloaked, remember? We never saw it until it was right on our ass, and then my father said he’d had the first mate from the Svalbard ‘tranned aboard. Okay, lots of ships have illegal mol-tran, and if anyone would have access to cloaking technology with all that he knew about the SNT Project, my old man would. But what really made me wonder was how I felt.”
“How you felt? What do you mean, how you felt.”
Color rose to the kid’s cheeks and he began to pace restlessly. “Like … Fucking hell, I felt like the ship didn’t want to destroy the Svalbard. I felt like it literally hurt the ship to do so, like it made the ship sick.”
“You mean when you puked?”
The kid nodded and waved a dismissive hand. “But it wasn’t just that, it was like almost from the moment we came onboard, I felt the ship was making a desperate cry for help. I know, I know that sounds fucking insane, but that all got me thinking.”
“Hold it, I get what you’re saying about the cloaking device and the mol-tran, and I can even see what you mean by the difference in these patterns,” he nodded to the screen, but are you trying to fucking tell me you actually felt the ship’s pain? And that’s another thing,” he stood and began to pace wildly, nearly running into the kid who was doing the same. “What the hell does that have to do with confirming that the ship’s an SNT?” He nodded to the auto doc’s micro-analyser.
“It’s not an SNT, not entirely. It’s … I don’t know some sort of a hybrid. And the checking of the DNA proves that it’s cloned DNA from not just any SNT, but from SNT1.”
“Jesu, bloody Vatanica Christ, that still doesn’t explain how you went all touchy-feely with the ship or why anything Fallon would do would make the ship … sick.”
“Because the goddamn ship is Fury’s brother! Well half anyway, cloned from the genetic material after Fury was born, from the brain cells of an SNT, and the basic guiding rule for all SNTs was do no harm. They were created to end the Great War, that’s true, but they were created to limit the loss of life and maximize the possibility of peaceful solutions. And that wasn’t their entire mission, Rab. Fuck, don’t you know any history at all? That was the task set before them so that the could begin their mission, which was expanding the known galaxy, peaceful exploration and making the lives of those in Authority space better. Fury has no heart for cruelty. No SNT ever created does, and at its core, the Apocalypse hates what my father is forcing him to do.”
Rab ran a hand over his face and dropped back into the Auto doc chair. “Okay, supposing all that’s true, I’m sure if you did all the research you said you did and you were as obsessed as you were on the SNTs, it wouldn’t be that difficult to find out the genetic make-up of SNT1. I mean the SNT1 was the pinnacle of SNT achievement, the ship that was supposed to change all our lives, but how the hell did that,” he nodded to the micro-analyzer, “prove it?”
The kid dropped down into the computer bay chair and licked his lips. “Do you remember I told you I wanted to be an SNT’s compliment?”
Rab nodded. “So?”
“So, I didn’t want to be just any SNT’s compliment, I wanted to be SNT1’s compliment, and I was too young to be the compliment of any of the other SNTs. I passed all the exams, top of my class. I was in the final selection group. The old man was beside himself. I was going to be his way into the SNT inner sanctum. The tests were all double blind. The most important thing was the compatibility with the ship.”
“So, what happened?” Rab asked.
The kid leaned forward, his jaw gone stiff, his lips a tight line. He sucked a sharp breath and said. “I wasn’t compatible.”
“Well, I imagine that happened with lot’s of people,” Rab said.
“I hacked the computer to see why I wasn’t compatible. I had to know. I was devastated and my father was furious.” He looked up at Rab. “I wasn’t compatible because I had the same genetic material as SNT1.”
“Sonovabitch,” Rab managed, and that was about all he could manage.
The kid nodded. “The goddamn piece of shit wasn’t happy sowing his seed far and wide. I don’t know how he managed it, and he sure as fuck wouldn’t tell me, but somehow he had arranged to be the sperm donor for the embryo that would become SNT1. So you see,” he said, suddenly unable to hold Rab’s gaze. I have an older brother. Apocalypse, however,” he ran his hand over the console, “is almost the right age to be my twin.”
“Sonovabitch,” Rab managed again, then stood and replicated two very large whiskeys and handed one to Gerando.
The kid only stared down into the glass. “The problem is that the Apocalypse is, and will be, a Frankenstein’s monster of a ship until he can rendezvous with Fury, and even then there’s no guarantee that there’s anyone still alive who can successfully transform the Apocalypse into a genuine SNT. Apparently the old man thinks its possible.