Piloting Fury Part 39: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Thursday everyone! Fury is a day early this week because I’m out of pocket tomorrow enjoying the glorious spring weather. And to make up for missing a week, you get a double episode today as Fury and Manning,  continue to share their story with Diana Mac.  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 39: I’m a Nobody

“Will the Authority not pursue you when they learn you have escaped and are doing business again?” I asked.

“I’m a nobody, not important, and they’ll figure if I escaped, I’ll die of the virus anyway. To them I’m already dead.” I could not miss the bitterness in his voice, and I made my first effort to move my consciousness toward him, to comfort him. He tensed, then let out a little sigh and relaxed.

“I believe to them, I am also already dead,” I said. Then I added, more than a little excited about a future that was not at all what I expected, but at least hopeful. “Once you have given me the parameters you will need for a cargo ship, the refitting will not take me long. I have but to think it to make it so.”

“Fucking hell,” he said with a low whistle. “Great trick if you can do it.”

“I assure you, I can do it. When shall we begin?”

“No time like the present,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Oh, there is one very important thing, Fury.”

“What is it, Richard Manning.”

“You’re going to have to make yourself look a whole lot less pretty. I need you to look old and battered and like I put you together with wire and a glue gun, can you do that?”

“Of course I can do that,” I said. “I am not attached to the way I look. I did not expect to remain as I am.”

“Good. Then with your insides meeting my parameters and your outsides looking like something that is barely space worthy, I think we’ll do just fine.”

That evening, I replicated another ancient Terran dish called tacos, which Manning ate with relish, washed down with a Terran drink called Margaritas. It was a celebration, he said, and so it was. It was a new beginning I had not anticipated, and while we were both awake and my decks echoed with his curses and his strange sense of humor, we both did well. But while Manning could not go without rest – especially not in his state of recovery, I did not sleep. For a few hours I worked with the schematics he had given me, creating below deck a cargo bay with another cargo bay hidden underneath for less than aboveboard goods, upgrading the shield and downgrading my outward appearance. I wished to surprise Richard Manning when he woke up.

My attention was on making my outer hull look as though it had been through several meteor storms when I heard him cry out in his sleep. While his vital signs were within the normal range, it was obvious he was in REM dream state and his dreams were not pleasant. I went to him without thinking. While I had avoided going into the chamber I had set aside for him, as much for his privacy as for the fact that it was to have belonged to my compliment, I entered now, and I was moved as I had never been moved before.

He lay naked with the coverings thrown off his body, which glistened with the perspiration of his stressful dreams, and he fought valiantly with whatever demon it was that had invaded his unconscious world. While I had seen him naked many times during his healing process, I had never seen him so vulnerable, nor had I realized just how nearly healed he now was.

He cried out again, loud enough that it would have startled another humanoid. It was then that I discovered I had the ability to do more than replicate molecules. With what, at the time, was little more than my ability to imagine what his caress had felt like against my console, I created such a caress and touched him gently on the shoulder.

“Richard Manning, wake up. You are having a bad dream.”

He came into the waking world with a shriek of terror, shoving himself into a seated position on the bed. His pulse was much too fast, and I found that I could create an embrace of sort, as I had seen represented among humanoids as an act of comfort, as an act of affection, as I had often imagined doing with my compliment. In truth Richard Manning was my compliment now, and seeing that his needs were met was paramount.

I had not expected tears when he woke up from the nightmare. I knew enough about the strange codes of manliness most humanoid males lived by to understand that the shedding of tears was not an acceptable show of manhood, that he might be embarrassed by the act. But I also understood that that this humanoid had been shaken to the core by what demons had confronted him in the world of his dreams. And I was feeling quite vulnerable myself under our shared circumstances.

“I’m sorry,” he managed between gasps for breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“You cannot disturb me, Richard Manning. You are the only humanoid onboard. You will always be my central concern.”

“That doesn’t make me particularly comfortable,” he said.

“You will get used to it.”

“Not that I’m sorry for you waking me up right now, believe me.” When he had calmed a little, and I sensed his unease at my closeness and I pulled my physicality back enough to eliminate his discomfort. “I am always at your service.”

For a time, he sat in silence, his hands resting on his thighs, but in that way of humanoids, I could see the tension, feel the slight acceleration of pulse that informed me, he wished to speak, but was not quite sure he should. “Richard Manning, you may always speak freely with me. If you wish to talk about your dream, I will listen. It is not as though I will divulge to anyone your secrets.”

At that, he offered a hiccup of a chuckle. “No, I suppose not.”

 

 

I replicated a glass of water for him and waited quietly while he drank it in thirsty gulps.

At last he spoke. “When the Authority arrested me, I wasn’t alone on the Bourdieu. My cargo was humanoid, a dozen fugitives escaping the shackle. Friends of theirs smuggled them off Terra Nova Prime on the night before they were taken. Three families with small children, and two promising young bioengineers. I was transporting them to the outer rim and to freedom. They were hiding in the cargo bay. When I smuggled people, I had a plan for if we were ever boarded. There was a space we’d created that was sensor proof. If we were boarded it would always appear that there was only one person onboard the ship. I always set the Bourdieu on a laid in course for the safest spot, just in case I was arrested. Up until that time it had never happened. The ship always looked empty, and while I might get a fine for some trumped up infraction, it was the most the Authority could charge me with, which I paid off, thumbed my nose at their backsides and delivered my cargo safely to their destinations. Of course as a smuggler, the odds are never in your favor if you get boarded. You learn to stack the deck. I knew that and my passengers all knew that. Whatever risk they were taking with me were risks they all took willingly, and with good reasons.” He paused for a moment, swallowing hard, his shoulders tense, his breathing harsh and uneven. I feared he might be about to vomit, but instead the tears returned to his eyes. “Fritz, the bastard who betrayed us thought he’d get the ship. Instead, he was lucky to get off without ending up in a shackle. The Authority Hunters, they didn’t give the ship to anyone. They didn’t even tractor it back to spaceport. They just blew it up. Fifteen people onboard in the hold, and the bloody fuckers knew it. They knew it. All I could do was watch.”

This time when I moved to embrace him, he did not push me away, and I formed the molecular structure as close to a humanoid hand as I could and stroked his back, making sure that I had enough of a physical form for him to hold on to and to rest his body against. “I am very sorry for your loss, Richard Manning. There has been so very much loss, and far too little hope. But you are free now, and you are with me. We will press on, as we must, in spite of our losses.”

He gave a slight nod against me and pulled closer to me. For what seemed like an age, and that to me, one who can measure the passage of space time in nanoseconds, we held each other. But it was long enough for me to perceive that his pain, though deeper than anything I could reach to heal, was manifesting itself in the humanoid way I myself felt but did not fully understand, in the desire to be intimate.

That I understood that desire, that I anticipated it and responded to it so quickly still astounds me, in that I had no experience of humanoid intimacy other than what I could call up in my database. But when Richard Manning sought me out with his lips, I was ready, my molecules forming and shaping to his needs, which were so deeply my own. I could barely comprehend that the press of his kiss, the exploration of his tongue, the movement of his hands over the shape of me that formed instantaneously at his body’s desire, were indeed my own desires, what I would have done with my compliment once we had gotten to know each other. I reminded myself once again, as he guided the hand I had formed down to his erect penis, that this humanoid, this wounded and damaged humanoid who needed almost as desperately as I did, was indeed now my compliment. It would be to him that I would give myself for the first time, for every time, as long and as often as he had desire for me – as we had desire for each other.

“Fury, I need you,” he whispered as he pulled away from my mouth just enough for his teeth to rake over the lips I had not known I could create, the lips I had not known could feel such electrifying sensations.

“And I need you, Richard Manning. I very much need you.” With that I guided his hand down to my own physical need, the biology of me, heavy and hard and more ready than I could have ever imagined, ready to explore this physical side of my nature. Richard Manning was willing and able and intuitive, as he guided me, for the first time, in the pleasures of the flesh and the intimate act that would, with time, bring healing for both of us.

 

“Fury, are you familiar with the ancient Terran term, TMI.” It was the sound of Manning’s voice that made me aware that I was floating in that space between wakefulness and sleep. Manning reached over me and slapped Fury on the flank.

“I am indeed familiar with the term, Richard Manning.” Fury reached to return the favor, pausing to kiss my neck. “But our Diana Mac knows us both intimately, and all she need do is look, and all will be revealed.”

“I wouldn’t do that. Not without permission,” I said.

“Permission is not needed amongst us, at least it should not be, and something passed between him and Manning that was lost to me because after such a dream, all three of us were in dire need of a cold shower if we didn’t take care of each other. And lying sandwiched between too such virile males, I was soon rendered speechless and probably would have forgotten my own name, let alone the need to pursue the intimacy issue between the three of us. After that, the sleep was dreamless.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 38: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Thursday everyone! I owe you a huge apology for last week’s lack of a new episode. No excuses other than being sidetracked with editing a new Medusa Consortium project. I’m making up for it by having this post out a day early. I’m back in action, and so are Fury and Manning, as they continue to share their story with Diana Mac.  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 38: New Compliment, New Vocation

“Cloak,” he said, I don’t want to go back to those bastards and I’m not particularly keen on seeing a sleek ship like you destroyed, now cloak!”

“They have seen us, they will be able to follow our signature.”

“No! No they won’t if you listen to me.” He cursed, “Goddamn it, I need access to your controls, Fury. I need you to trust me.”

“They are yours,” I said feeling the adrenaline rush I had not expected as he took the position that should have belonged to my compliment.”

“You may be young and inexperienced, but I’m not, now fucking cloak your ass.”

I did as he asked. “Lay in a course to the Sigma 10 Asteroid belt. I want us smack dab in the middle of it. Can you do it?”

“Already done,” I said.

“Fucking hell, that was fast.”

“I’m a fucking ship. It is not rocket science.”

To that he laughed out loud and strapped into the seat as we warped.

As per his request, we came out right in the middle of the asteroid belt and the war ship, well the war ship had not considered that we would and came out at the edge.

“They won’t follow us here and put a Phoenix class star ship at risk,” Richard Manning said. “The chances of their survival are less than slim and they know it.”

“And they will suppose that ours is none better and that we are lost.” I replied.     “But they won’t be taking into account that a hot shot SNT ship is teamed up with the best damn pilot in these parts. There’s a way out, and I can get us there.”

And it was brilliant, the way he navigated the Sigma Belt. Oh I helped out a little by tightening the trajectory in a few places and easing us in and out of tight spaces that an ordinary ship would not be able to maneuver, but for the most part it was Richard Manning navigating from memory, a route I would have not thought possible for a humanoid brain to calculate. “I’ve used this route more than once, to lose the Authority and other unwelcome parties. Once I figured it out, it was my ace in the hole.”

As we cleared the Sigma several hours later, near the Terra Nova Cloud, I was beginning to understand that Richard Manning just might be my ace in the hole. Apparently he was thinking the same thing.

“You can’t go back, SNT Fury. Neither of us can.”

“That is true, Richard Manning.”

“I’m more intelligent than I look. I understand the extensive nature of what you did to me, and when you unlocked your controls to me, I saw your insides laid out before me like a child’s line drawing. You knew that I would.”

“It was the only way I could repair you.”

He laughed softly. “I’m all about survival. I’m all about survival, though I have to admit,” he ran a hand through his mussed hair which stood on end as though he were statically charged. “I’m not entirely sure I know what that means now.”

“I too, am all about survival, Richard Manning, and I also am not entirely sure what that means now. For all I know I may be the last of my kind, the only survivor. While the rumors that have been spread are lies, and the deaths of millions lay at the feet of the Authority, not my brothers and sisters, it does not matter now. What matters is that we do survive, Richard Manning.”

He paused for a moment, then let out a sigh of a breath and cocked his head. “And you don’t mind that I’m a criminal?”

“We are both fugitives, Richard Manning. And if you are a criminal, your crime was nothing more than your effort to survive, as is mine. I have taken that into consideration.”

He chuckled. “Well, I’m glad to see that you have at least some standards.”

I found myself smiling. “If you had seen my beautiful compliment, if you had known what she was to become to me, then you would have realized that I have lowered them considerably.”

For a moment, the man said nothing, the smile slipped from his face and I saw sadness in his grey eyes. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Oh she is not dead,” I said quickly. I don’t know why I did it, but I displayed the final image of her beautiful face. “But now she is forever beyond my reach.”

To my surprise, Richard Manning laid his hand against that image of her and ran a finger gently down her lovely cheek as though he could comfort her for her loss. “I see your point. I’m a big step down.”

“It doesn’t not matter now.” I replaced the image with the expanse of stars ahead of us. “What does matter is that she is safe. And it would seem fortune has brought us together in our greatest time of need, Richard Manning. We will both lower our standards and learn to work together, I believe.”

 

 

The smile that split his face was nothing less than beatific and for the first time I realized just how young he truly was to have done what he had done and survive. I observed that his face would be considered handsome by humanoid standards, if a bit rough around the edges, but then if my database was accurate, many humanoid females find those rough edges sexually attractive. Perhaps on a biological level, they consider someone who is a bit dangerous better able to provide for and protect their offspring. It was his laugh that brought my attention back to him. “You never saw my last ship, nor the dangerous piece of shit I served on for the last three years. Believe me, Fury, you’re a ship captain’s wet dream come true.”

I would be lying if I said his words did not please me. Even as untried and unformed as I was, that someone found me worthy greatly pleased the biological components I still did not fully understand, and I confess it was the part of me that I struggled with most during those dark days.

Richard Manning stood and began to pace the bridge, my biological material seemed to be healing him with exponential speed. “Well, Fury, we’re going to have to make a living, the two of us, if we’re going to survive, and while you are one helluva ship, you’re pretty clueless in the scheme of things. I, on the other hand, am not. He ran a finger down the length of my console in a move that was so near a caress that I would have shivered at the touch, had I had that capability. “You can shape yourself, did you say?”

“I can, yes. I am, as you would say, a tabula rasa at this time. I was to have been given schematics and parameters for what I was to become, but sadly there was not time for that. I am … I am unformed.”

“Well, from what I saw of your innards when I was piloting, you have the components to make one helluva cargo ship, and with your cloaking device,” he shrugged, “well, if our cargo is a little less than above board, that will come in real handy.”

“I see,” I replied when I realized he was waiting for my response.

He heaved a sigh and dropped into the captain’s chair. “Look, small cargo ships are the life’s blood of a lot of legitimate establishments who need to be supplied with goods and services on the edge of the rim, and in the places too far away for the central Authority to give a shit about. There’s legitimate money to be made, that’s true enough, and that always has to be a smuggler’s cover. Thing is, just because the central Authority doesn’t give a fuck about the outlying colonies, doesn’t stop it from taxing them up the ass. The truth is, most legitimate businesses – and especially those that deal in the entertainment and services industries, can’t survive without smuggled goods. They give their pound of flesh to the Central Authority, when they have to, but they all keep two sets of records. They have to in order to survive.”

“This seems to be very shortsighted on the part of the Central Authority,” I replied.

“Out of sight, out of mind, most of the time. The outer colonies are taxed without representation in the Authority, and without receiving the benefits those taxes are supposed to provide. At the same time, the Authority rapes them of their natural resources and wealth. Not a win-win situation.”

“Indeed not, Richard Manning. It would appear to me that I shall need a complete refit then, and a crash course in smuggling.”

The lovely smile returned to his face. “It would appear to me that I’m just the man to do both. Also, on this side of the Rim, I have a lot of contacts and, if you trust me, I can set us up several contracts for as soon as we can get you refitted and ready.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 37: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Holiday Weekend, everyone! If you celebrate Easter, Happy Easter, if you don’t then Happy Reason to Celebrate! Time for another instalment of Piloting Fury. The story of how Fury and Manning became a team continues this week as the two struggle with their own losses and their common enemy, loneliness.  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 37: So Much Empty Space

“Richard Manning, you are still weakened. If you will but ask me, I shall bring you what food you can best assimilate that will aid in your recover, and I do not think New Hibernian whiskey will be of aid.”

In truth, the humanoid’s strength astounded me, though at the time I just assumed it was because of my biological material in his body. He shuffled to the table in the galley clearly in pain, or at least to me, but then perhaps it is because I am more perceptive than humanoids and this one had not yet learned that there was little he could hide from me. From the time I brought him onboard, I had constantly monitored his vitals, for I knew how closely he walked to death and how hard I worked that he might stay with me.

“Consider it comfort food,” he said. In those days he still had not gotten past his efforts to find a place to look upon that he could consider to be me. “If what you say is true,” his gaze was now on the replicator, “then I’m damn lucky to be able to eat at all.”

“Considering the fact that corpses do not generally eat, you are, indeed, damn lucky. But Richard Manning, having my metabolism of alcoholic beverages still does not mean that it is a wise choice for sustenance.”

“All right then,” he rubbed his stubbled chin and studied the replicator in a very different way. “How about an ancient Terran specialty – cheeseburger, fries and a strawberry shake?”

While it was not a choice I would have made for him, I replicated his order and because of his convalescence, did so on the table in front of him. “While I cannot guarantee the flavor, I am relatively certain it will be as much like the ancient specialty as any other replicated version you have ever eaten.”

To this, he laughed out loud. “Trust me,” he said around a mouthful of the French fries, “nothing you could replicate couldn’t possibly be worse than the swill I’ve been served these past three years.” He ate in silence for a few minutes and then wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “You’re an SNT.”

“That is correct.”

He ate some more, and I waited, sensing that he had something he wished to say. At last he pushed back his chair and looked around, as though he planned to go searching for me this time until he found me. “Why did you save me? You lot are supposedly the scourge of the galaxy, going nuts and killing everyone in sight.”

“Supposed to be,” I responded. “Are you in doubt of it?”

“If the Authority says it’s so, then yes, I’m in doubt of it. If they said shit stinks then I’d be convinced it smelled like roses.”

“Though I would be inclined to agree with them when it comes to the olfactory properties of shit, as for the rest, I would say that you are a wiser man than most, Richard Manning.”

“Not so wise or I wouldn’t have gotten caught, would I?”

“Ah, then you are a convict rather than in debt. For what, if I might ask?”

“For trying to stay out of debt, what the hell do you think?” He went back to eating.

“Smuggler?”

“That’s right, and a fucking good one too.”

“Apparently not that fucking good if you got caught.”

He grunted and shoved a fist full of fries into his mouth. “I was set up. Someone who had his eyes on my ship, had for years.”

“It must have been a very good ship, then” I said, “if it was worth such an act of betrayal.”

“It was a piece of junk, but it was mine, and it was better than his piece of junk.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” I thought perhaps if he was fond of ancient Terran food, perhaps he might also know some of the slang.”

“Damn skippy,” he said, offering me a broad smile, which flashed bright and disappeared as fast as it came. “But you haven’t answered my question. Why did you save me?”

“I am programmed to protect and keep safe, as all SNTs are.”

He studied me for a moment and then slurped his shake. “Lots of things are not like they’re supposed to be.”

It was then that I felt the bone-deep ache of her absence, the one I would never now know, nor share my journeys. “Yes, Richard Manning, many things are not like they are supposed to be.” I withdrew to my solitude until he needed me again. It was easier than explaining to him that while he was the epitome of humanoid male testosterone driven bravado, I was not. I was not even fully formed and I was adrift in the galaxy without compliment or purpose, my only companion a braggart of a smuggler.

The next chronometric day I found him seated in the captain’s chair on the bridge. My first response was anger. The place was to have belong to her, and yet here this smuggler sat in it as though he had the right, as though I had invited him to be there. But before my anger could be fully formed, he very gently, nearly reverently ran his fingers lightly over my console. “Thank you for the clothes,” he said, softly, not sensing my approach, I was sure, but perhaps hoping for my company in the same way I hoped for his. I had stayed away lest my heart should break even more with the comparison of this convict, this uncouth humanoid to the woman I’d lost.

 

 

He chuckled softly. “I figure you must have got tired of my cock hanging out of the robe at inopportune moments. Hard to be dignified when you’re cock’s hanging out.”

“You are welcome, Richard Manning. And while I did not mind at all the occasional appearance of your cock, I thought perhaps you would appreciate proper clothing now that you are recovering nicely.”

His breath caught at the unexpected sound of my voice and the change in his heart rate, the flush of blood to his cheeks, the way he shifted nervously told met that he might possibly be as lonely as I was, though I could not imagine anyone being so lonely.

“What was the compliment onboard your ship?” I asked.

“Me. I was the compliment.” He chuckled and I could hear the nostalgia in his voice. “Just as well because I used every bit of space I could for the cargo bay. I slept in a hammock and the shitter was just a cubbyhole at the rear of the hold. Home sweet home,” he said resting his palm against the consol.

“Home sweet home,” I repeated, and for a moment the two of us were companionably silent watching the dark of space rush by. “If you are up for it, Richard Manning, I am happy to offer you a tour, though I do feel a bit like, what was that early Terran phrase, a flasher letting it all hang out.”

The man laughed out loud, and I was struck at how lovely his laughter sounded on deck. “I showed you mine, now I’d love to see yours.”

After we returned, I did not mind it so much when he sat in the captain’s chair. I was like a child waiting for, longing for his approval.

“Well?”

“There’s a lot of unused space.” He raised a hand and laid it respectfully on the console, “Beautiful space, wonderful space, but I have to ask, Fury, why’s so much of you so unused.”

“Because I am young,” I blurted out. One would think that as I am the pinnacle of humanoid and technology come together, that I would have shed all the human foibles of speaking before my thoughts were fully formed, and those were things I would have learned, would have developed it I had only been given more time.

He raised an eyebrow and stared up at the monitor, as though he expected my face to appear. “Young?”

I did not have time to squirm, or to answer his question because we dropped out of hyperspace face to face with a Phoenix class warship.

 

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 36: Brand New KDG Read

I apologise that Fury is a day late this week. I didn’t plan my time very well and the week ran out before I had Fury ready.  But learning how Fury and Manning became a team is worth waiting an extra day for, I promise you. And this week, we learn how Fury found Manning.  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. (Except on the odd occasion when I’m a day late, of course 🙂 )

 

 

“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 36: Frankenstein’s Monsters

“May Day! May Day! This it the Pegasus. May Day … need …elp”

The com crackled and failed as the systems overloaded. I had but an instant to react. I locked onto the humanoid and transported him then jumped to a safe distance as the Pegasus lit up space in an explosion far too large for the small ship, but that mattered less than the humanoid I had transported. I had transported him straight to medico. Whatever the cargo had been, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was not completely above board.

The humanoid was in an environment suit, which had, no doubt, saved his life. I was still not well versed in the manipulating of my molecules that I might assume a useful form as a medic. Fortunately the auto surgery could be set to deal with severe radiation poisoning. As the suit was cut away from his body, I had my first contact with a humanoid male. With the tools of the auto surgery, I worked for the next few hours stabilising the man, who suffered severe burns over most of his body. That was easy enough to fix with a small injection of my own biological tissue, though I knew I would have to deal with his body’s rejection, for it was designed to nurture and heal and be compatible with one person only, my compliment. With high doses of anti rejection drugs meant to be used only in case of the need for an organ transplant, I was able to get the man’s mangled flesh to accept the injection. Three times the man went into cardiac arrest and twice he was dead on the table. I injected him again and again with my own organic matter. “If you live,” I spoke out loud after yet another battle to stabilise him, “then you shall be as much Frankenstein’s monster as I. What a pair we shall be.” What I had planned, or rather what I hadn’t really planned at all, but simply did by instinct, had never been done before. I was certain that in the wildest dreams of those who created the SNTs, of those who donated sperm and egg for me and my compliment, no one could have ever imagined that an SNT could survive without a compliment. In fact, it was the plan of the Authorities to eliminate the compliments from their ships, thus rendering the ships helpless thus allowing them to insert a compliment of their choice. They found that it was not possible for them to do so. Destroy one and the other could not be salvaged. Certainly it had never been considered that I might create my own compliment to replace the one I was certain at that point I would never see again.

 

 

As I worked to keep this humanoid alive I spoke to him constantly, for it was my voice he needed to bond with above all else if we were to compliment each other. Beyond that bonding effort, it eased my loneliness to do so, as I believe it reassured him that he was not suffering alone. I learned very early that this one could fluently curse in multiple languages, and his repertoire included fecund phrases of which even I with my large database was not familiar. However most of our conversation, by that time was non-verbal, as the injections of my biogenetic materials had connected us.

“Where am I?” he asked, when he was conscious enough to be aware that he was, indeed, alive and no longer onboard the Pegasus.

“You are onboard SNT Fury,” I replied, bracing myself, expecting horror or disgust, perhaps fear. I got none of those.

“Out of the frying pan into the fire, I guess then.” He said with no more emotion that if he had just told me the weather on Vega Prime.

“That is an accurate observation. Though at the moment we are safely cloaked and on our way to the outer rim.”

“And the Pegasus?”

“I’m afraid your ship is no more.” I said.

I believe the man actually chuckled and offered a smile that, in his present condition, was little more than a grimace. “That’s all right. It wasn’t my ship.” With an effort I found monumentally impressive considering he was only just barely alive. He lifted his left arm the small shackle incision on his left forearm that identified him as an indentured. “Did it work?”

He shook the arm at me. “I need to know, did it work. Jesus Christ if it didn’t then Fuck me if I know what will, but you listen to me, SNT Fury whatever the hell you call yourself, if I’m infected, you let me die. You fucking let me die, do you understand? I’m not going to waste away on some goddamned plague planet.” He fell back onto the table exhausted, but not so much so that he didn’t shake his arm at me again.

Mind you I was too astounded by the chain of events I was now piecing together to do anything else but examine his shackle, and since my exile and the deaths of my brothers and sisters was so closely tied to this despicable virus, it was of a great deal of interest. “You destroyed the Pegasus on purpose?” I asked, as I carefully made an incision to open the skin above the shackle.

“To kill the bloody virus, yes! Did it work?”

“The virus is irradiated, so yes it worked. And while you are in the auto-surgeon, I shall remove the empty shackle as well.”

I had not thought of flooding the decks with high levels of radiation. Perhaps that would serve to destroy the virus on those SNTs that still remained. I was not sure that the device Dr. Keen had implanted in each of us as a means of conveying important data between all of us simultaneously still worked, but I sent the message out anyway, with hopes that perhaps at least a few of my family would survive.

As I performed the procedure, my patient lay very still, no doubt an instinctive response for indentureds who could never forget that unauthorised tampering with a shackle resulted in infection and a long and painful death. But this shackle was doubly deactivated for not only had the device been destroyed by the radiation, the man had effectively died twice in the auto surgery. He could not have been brought back had his body now contained my biological material. Once I had removed the device I put it aside. It would be worth studying in the future. It was only as I finished that I realised there were tears in my patient’s eyes. “I’ve worn that damn thing for the past three years,” he said. “You have no idea how glad I am to be rid of the fucker.”

“Perhaps this day I do,” I replied, then I added quickly, “oh not to be shackled, of course, but to be a fugitive, unable to go home.”

For a moment, I had the sense that the humanoid was studying me, though of course he could neither see me nor perceive where I might be. You must remember, however, at that point in my young life I was as unsure of my boundaries as this man must surely have been. At last he spoke. “Yes. I’d imagine so. I’m Manning, by the way, Richard Manning. Very pleased to meet you SNT Fury.” With that he convulsed and went into cardiac arrest.

“No! No don’t. Please. Not yet. Please, Fury.” I woke with Manning thrashing against me, his heart racing and his body sheened in sweat.

“Do not wake him,” Fury reached over me, and I had the sense that he now completely embraced both of us and Manning instantly relaxed back into deep, peaceful sleep. “There are parts our story that are best left for Richard Manning to tell, Diana Mac. He will tell you when he is ready. But sleep again, and I shall tell you my part of our story.” I fell instantly back to sleep and once again I saw the world through Fury’s eyes.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 35: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury.  I hope you are all staying safe, and that means following whatever lockdown rules are in place wherever you are. We’ll get through this together and celebrate on the other side. And one of the best ways to get through lockdown is a good escapist read. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. Last week Captain Evander and the crew of the Dubrovnik were forced to take extreme measures. This week Fury tells his story.

 

 

“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 35: Alone and Unbonded

 

I came fully aware with the feel of empty cold space against my skin, still tender and untried. My response was more startled interest than any effort to withdraw, and anyway, I could not withdraw, my life and the life of my entire family depended upon my success. There were already too many deaths, deaths for which my brothers and sisters were not responsible, and yet they would be blamed, as would I, even though I had not yet been out of space dock when the sabotage of the SNTs happened. My maiden voyage, was far too early. I was untried, and so much worse than that, I was unbonded. I was alone on a mission that, even if it succeeded, would fail, and then, I would be a fugitive, a fugitive alone. I could not bear the thought. I focused all of myself that I could not download safely away to the journey and to what I must do.

I came out of hyperspace into a firestorm, all sensors on the embattled Merlin. The desperate voice of Adrian McAllister flooded my sub processor. The man was going to die, and so was his ship, and they knew it. I remained cloaked to in order to get as close as I could, and not to draw the attention of the Authority war ships. As far as they were concerned, I was now the enemy. It was then, as my sensors scanned Merlin that I understood Adrian McAllister’s distress.

“Go, Diana!” He shouted. “I can distract them now that the Fury is here, and you can make it, you can make it to the pod.” he shouted.

“I’m not leaving you, Dad, and you can’t make me.”

Adrian knew to lower his shields and he did it instantly. A part of why the Authority saw SNTs as such a threat is because when we were in close proximity, we were all linked, both ships and compliments, and it was in those final few minutes that everything became clear.

“Keen’s been arrested and infected,” The message came in through the sub processor, and we both received it at the same time. In that instant everything changed.

“I downloaded the data instantly and when it became clear you would not be swayed, Diana Mac, I knew what to do. I beamed you to my own escape pod with one last charge from Adrian McAllister. “She’s still a child, Fury. You know what she is, what she’s capable of. Send her back home.”

When you were secure, I made the jump to a safe distance before Adrian McAlister and Merlin allowed themselves to be destroyed by the Authority warships. A tragic and needless loss.

 

 

That was the first time you were here with me, Diana Mac, here inside my skin, safe in the womb of my escape pod. Oh you raged, you cried, you fought, and I watched you with my heart breaking, I watched you, feeling loneliness I had never known before. Feeling helplessness as I never imagined I could feel. It was then that I was discovered. I’d had to drop the cloak for the split second it had taken to transport you to the pod, but it had been enough.

You were so close, and yet I could not touch you, I could not take you into myself and comfort you as I so longed to do. I was compromised. My escape was far from guaranteed, and I wanted nothing so badly as for you to live a happy life. I jettisoned the pod in the scan range of one of the battle cruisers, and when I saw that it was tractored onboard, I made the jump.

I made a series of jumps in rapid succession, each time coming out long enough to scan subspace transmissions for news of the battle with the SNTs, and each time the news was of loss and horror and thousands, even millions of death, and each time the blame was placed squarely at the feet of the SNTs and of Dr. Victor Keen. By the third jump, I knew I could never go home. By the fourth jump, there were reports of Adrian McAllister’s daughter being rescued from the treachery of the Merlin. She alone had survived the destruction.

After that, after I knew that Diana Elizabeth McAllister was safe, I wandered aimlessly toward the outer rim, uncertain why I bothered at all as, with each passing light year the weight of my own emptiness grew as though I myself had been infected by a virus a thousand times more devastating that that infecting my brothers and sisters. Before I had left space dock untested and unaware of the great expanse that lay within the self, I had not known pain, and within such a short time pain was all I knew. The pain of loneliness was the harshest, most devastating pain I could have, at that point in my short life, imagined. But I had not known the true depth of my loneliness until I saw you, until I ached with what I knew would be your loneliness now too. I felt it so deeply that I wondered if it would perhaps be better if I simply allowed myself, unbonded as I was, to be destroyed. Surely anything was better than the emptiness. And now there was no one to give the data to that I had been born early to retrieve. There was no one who wanted to know the truth. The Authority would fabricate lies and atrocities and claim that my brothers and sisters and I were responsible. They would not care if thousands, even millions of innocent lives were lost to convince their humanoid population that we were monsters in need of being destroyed, and I was not only alone and unprepared for life as it now came to me, but I was also a fugitive, a monster in the eyes of the Authority.

It was quite by accident on the jump I made that took me to the edge of the Outer Rim that I came out of hyperspace and nearly collided with a ship not much smaller than I was. The distress beacon was automated and the ship was leaking radiation. The leak was so bad that I saw no need to scan, and then I heard it, the barely audible heartbeat and the scratch of a humanoid voice against a parched throat.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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