Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week Fury and his crew got Ascent’s nightmare. This week, unwanted memories for Ascent. As I mentioned, I am now attempting to post episodes at lengths that will be better suited for the flow of the story and enhance your reading pleasure. Some will be slightly shorter, some will be longer. I hope you find this switch-up helpful. 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!
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 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 29: Unwanted Memories
“You know they won’t leave us alone. They won’t let something good happen that the conglomerates don’t have control over, and they won’t ever willingly do away with indentured servitude.”
On the map and navigations deck, my beloved looked down at the image of the Taklamakan System that floated in space light years from its nearest inhabited neighbor, and its two planetoids only barely populated, barely habitable as they were, surrounded mostly by nothing but emptiness and dust. I did not understand her fascination with the kilometers and kilometers of salvage dumps that covered most of the surface of the largest planetoid, but she said all of that junk told a history of humanoids, adventurers, explorers like us intrepidly moving out beyond our own consciousness. I liked it when she became philosophical, so my interest in the hot, dusty space dump was piqued for her sake, and for the poetry of her beautiful mind. But still one had to wonder why we had come to this place, what we hoped to find when so many of my other siblings were doing scientific research, were carrying settlers out to new worlds, were making connections beyond the Rim, and yet we had chosen the most remote emptiest sector of space known to humanoids and of interest to no one. I did not understand her pessimism.
“But they will not need indentured servants once we begin to fulfill our mission, my siblings and I. And then Fury will be born, and after him a whole new generation of sentient ships, all with a much deeper connection to humanoids and to the betterment of all species. Oh how I wish we could witness that moment, the moment of Fury’s birth.” Knowing that SNT1 was both my younger brother and my elder as well, and that I owed a great deal of my better self to him made me long to know him in person as I had Merlin and Phoenix and Ouroboros and the others, whom I loved.
My dearest one laughed that bitter laugh of hers that always unsettled me. I did not like being unsettled when what lay ahead of us was a brand new adventure, even if it was not the one I might have preferred. And then a chill passed through me, or at least what I thought must be a chill, for I was still learning my physical nature through the aid of my compliment and her physicality, which I so delighted in and which so complimented the maleness with I had been endowed by my creators. But nonetheless I was very sure it was a chill I felt. “Is that why you requested the deep space mission for us, the one that I noticed no other compliment wanted?”
She pressed her lips together as she did when she wanted to make her response more gentle, for she was a pessimist by nature, and I an optimist. “It’s just a precaution,” she said then added, “honestly it surprised me when none of the other compliments requested it. I would have expected them all to be clamoring for it considering the political climate in Authority Space. Certainly they can’t be that naïve.” She cocked her head, looking up from her personal device. “You don’t mind do you?”
“Of course I do not or I would have said.”
She looked back down at the representation of the Taklamakan System, and I zoomed in on Talkamakan Major. “I just want us safe when the shit hits the fan.” My compliment was fond of ancient Terran slang.
After that it was dark, time passed, I felt it but it did not bother me. It was but a dream, a pleasant dream of my dear one. Would that I could stay in such dreams, within their comforting cocoon, in the banality that had made up our ordinary lives. Sleeping, talking, loving, caring for each other, while we went about the ordinary tasks of logging our journey and our discoveries. But dreams are not that way. One does not get to chose those warm welcoming spaces in which to linger, and often the images turn on a nanosecond.
“I do not feel … right. Like something is loose inside my mind, something I do not want there, something rousing feelings I should not have, feelings, emotions that do not feel like my own.”
My dear one was there, at the core of me, the seat of my sentience, of my physicality. She had attached probes, just as she had been trained to do, her hands gentle and warm against me. “So far the diagnostics are finding nothing,” she said, shaking her head. “Can you describe it a little better, the way you feel. Perhaps it’s a malfunction in your tactile nodes, they’re still learning how to process… wait a minute, I think I might have found something.”
“What is it? Is it only my tactile nodes? Is it only that I am still growing and changing?” I said these things hoping them true, but even then, I did not believe them to be.
“This is not right. This can’t be right!”
NO! In my head I roared out the word knowing, as I always did that I was dreaming, and also knowing that this dream above all others I did not want. This dream was the reason I wanted to sleep for eternity. For when I was truly asleep in that deep place, the dormancy that had been provided for all SNTs should the need ever arise, dreams did not come to me. And then Lenore disturbed that rest and now I was forced to relive this, the worst nightmare, the thing that had destroyed me. But I could not wake up and I could not go deeper into my slumber.
Helplessly I watched as my dearest told me that somehow, I the perfection of technology and science and humanity united, I the future of all civilizations, was infected with the virus that had been engineered to control indentured servants, and that it infected that which I valued most about myself, my mind.