Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week Len was mol-tranned off Tak Major. This week Kresho and Ori change the game plan with the Fallons. 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 36: Kresho Modifies the Plan
Tenad Fallon was pacing his office like she owned the goddamn place when he got there the next morning, feeling hung over and exhausted in spite of the fact he hadn’t had a drink. It had taken all night to set the plan in motion, and while he didn’t like it one little bit, like most of Ori’s plans, it had an uncanny chance of coming together without him becoming the sacrificial lamb. He took a deep breath before he stepped inside and offered Tenad Fallon a smile that showed enough teeth to be as predatory as he could make it. “You want me to help you get back the inheritance you say should have been yours, and my people tell me that your brother down there, cooling his heels in the fancy Dreadnaught wants the same thing.”
“Half brother. Idiot half brother.” She interrupted him. Aha! So she could be rattled. Ori had been right again.
“Look lady, I don’t give a shit if he’s your dog’s mongrel pup, if you want me to do this, if you want me putting my whole station at risk for a fucking Fallon, when I’d just as soon rid the galaxy of the lot of you, then I expect you to pony up. I expect that reward you so magnanimously offered before you threatened my people with the shackle fattening up my Atlas account nice and hefty-like before I set off with you.” He nodded to her PD. “Those are my demands.”
She studied him like this was something she’d been expecting and then glanced down at her PD, which beeped with his incoming message already written up in triplicate ready to be notarized to make sure she didn’t try to weasel out of any of it. For a moment she said nothing, just stared at it as though he had written it in Polyphemian Mountain dialect, and then she tipped back her head, red hair now in a flaming ponytail, and let out a raucous laugh that sounded like it belonged in a brothel on the Outer Rim. She laughed until her eyes streamed, and she wiped at them with an elegant fingertip. “I was warned you had serious balls, Ivanovic.” Before he could respond, she said, “you get half now and half when the job is finished to my satisfaction, and that will be when SNT1 is mine to command. I don’t mean when I’m simply beamed onboard, I mean that his compliment is out of his reach, and he is under my control, you got that?”
“Not good enough, Fallon. If I die in your hair brained scheme, I expect the other half paid in full plus another half bereavement pay to go to my next of kin, and that would be my station. I want those credits in a holding account you can’t touch with your slimy Fallon fingers, all notarized and ironclad. I’ve also made certain that if I die, the minute I stop breathing, my people will know, and I promise you neither you or your fancy ship will survive if you try to trick me.”
She gave a dismissive shrug, clearly sidetracked with the view out onto the docking bays below. “I can live with that.” Then she jerked her head toward the scene unfolding down there and growled. “I’d give you twice that if you could get rid of my fucking brother for me. He’s been following me like a Karesian house hound since I left Outer Kingston. He’s the reason I lost SNT1 the first time.
Kresho moved into her personal space, close enough for her to have to look up to him. “Oh I can get rid of him for you, but if I were you, I’d make good use of him first. If nothing else, he’s a good canary for the goddamned triaxe mine of a disaster you’re about to get lost in.”
She batted impossibly long eyelashes at him and offered a smile he could almost taste. “What did you have in mind, Ivanovic?”
He opened his com. “Dyrg, escort the other Fallon up to my office if you would be so kind.”
The man on the other end chuckled low and evil-like. “Gladly, Boss.”
When he looked up from his PD, she was all over smiles. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such delicious hate of Fallons. Sets my heart a flutter.”
“Lady, you ain’t been around much if this is the worst you’ve ever seen,” he said, all but standing on top of her.
“Oh I get out plenty, Ivanovic. But most places I go prefer to kiss my ass and at least pretend they like me, for their own protection, if nothing else.”
“We don’t kiss ass on Vodni Station,” He gave a little shrug, never taking his eyes off her. “We don’t like someone here, we’re more likely to bide our time and kick some ass at the most opportune moment to give us the most pleasure.”
“I shudder with delight at the thought.” The bitch made it sound like foreplay. That made him hard, which made him angry, but before he could dwell on it too long, there was a ping at the door and he slid it open with the press of a button.
The man who burst in might have been considered handsome if he wasn’t high as a New Vaticanan Baboon’s asshole on Mist, Kresho would guess. An expensive addiction, but the bastard was a Fallon, after all. “I fucking ought to blow your goddamned shit piece of junk space station into dust for keeping me waiting, you fucking piece of –” That was as far as he got before Dyrg nearly pulled him off his feet into a choke hold that had him turning red, making fish faces and tiptoeing like an ugly prima ballerina.
“You’re not in Authority Space anymore, bub.” Dyrg hoisted him up just a little farther onto his toes. “We eat Fallons like you for breakfast out here. It might due to remember that when you’re speaking to our lord and master. He demands the proper respects be paid.”
“And a kowtow, a good face to the floor kowtow,” Gerd added, having stepped through the door just in time to see the action. “Especially from foreigners and barbarians from the Authority.”
“Mr. Fallon,” Kresho said, biting the inside of his cheek to hold back a snigger, “I apologize for slighting your delicate Fallon sensibilities, but we had protocol issues to settle, since your sister was here first, and your fondness for each other is talked about in hushed toned at bars all over the edge of the Rim, we didn’t want violence erupting on the station. Now, if the two of you can play nice, I’ll offer you some good hooch, or whatever the hell it is your smoking, and we can sit down like civilized people and discuss the situation.”
Dyrg released the man, who said. “What is there to discuss? I want that bitch off this station and escorted back to Authority space, and-” Dyrg tightened his grip again just enough to be threatening, and Gerd moved to flank him, not that he needed her help, but Kresho knew her well enough to know she didn’t want to miss out on any of the juicy details to share later down at The Hub over a pint or five. The woman could hold her booze. The man shut up and calmed. And Kresho nodded his thanks to Dyrg.
“Now, that’s better, isn’t it?” He looked the man up and down, he must have taken after his mother, Kresho could see none of his father in him, and certainly none of his sister. Where she had the red hair and pale skin of a New Hibernian, Jessup had the darker olive skin and hair of the New Kingston islands, but he was as fucked up as the rest of the Fallons. Your sister and I have been discussing how much more effective your search might be if you worked together.” Kresho raised a hand when the man opened his mouth to protest. “Oh I’m not saying you two have to have that warm family feeling or anything like that. Hell, I don’t care if you mutually blow each other out the airlock at the end of this little disaster we’re all heading out on. In fact if you two would do me that solid, drinks on Vodni for the celebration party will all be on me.” Jessup Fallon’s eyes flashed fire, but he had the common sense to keep his mouth shut this time. The redness of his nose and the heavy blinking of dry eyes told Kresho he was coming down from his high a little sooner than he’d planned. That was because Kresho had made him wait a little longer than he’d anticipated, being a Fallon and all. He would agree to almost anything right now to get back to his Mist supply. Kresho continued. “We’ll work together, pool information.”
“I’m not pooling information with that bitch.” He glared at his sister.
“Then neither one of you will ever get what you’re looking for, and even working together you won’t without my help,” Kresho said.
Now he had their full attention, and Jessup’s high had worn off enough that he would have to hurry and make the plan or get the fucker some Mist. “We’re all ears, Mr. Ivanovic,” Tenad said with a lazy smile.
“And you trust these two goons here with this kind of… sensitive information,” Jessup shot a glance over his shoulder where Gerd and Dyrg stood quietly at some semblance of attention.
“Those two goons are coming with,” Kresho replied, and got a raised bronze eyebrow from Tenad. And now, he had their full attention.
“I’m probably the only person left alive who worked closely with the SNT project. Your fucking father made short work of the others, and I escaped to a more hospitable place. He didn’t want to think about that escape, nor what it had cost him, so he continued on. “You’ll need me if you ever plan to take any SNT, let alone SNT1 and get the Fallon horde back from him and from Gerando.” They both bristled at the mention of their older brother.
“We don’t need his help.” He glared at Kresho, then turned to his sister, “I say we just go in and kill SNT1’s compliment and make him do what we want.”
Tenad rolled her eyes. “God, you’re an idiot. How do you propose to do that?”
“You have three of the most powerful Jaegers in the galaxy, and I have the best dreadnaught money can buy armed to the teeth with a planet killer, and I know one of your Jaegers has one too. I’d like to see SNT1 stand up to that.”
Jesu Vaticanus, what kind of monster gives his little darlings planet killers to play around with, Kresho thought, but he’d lived through enough to know the answer to that.
“And once you’ve destroyed him, his compliment and half the Taklamakan system, how do you plan to get the Fallon inheritance back, Jessup? Hmmm?” Tenad said.
To that the man only shifted nervously from foot to foot, and finally said, “well I didn’t mean that we actually had to use them on him. Just the threat alone …” He blinked hard and wiped his nose on the back of his hand. It was getting harder and harder for him to hold it together.
“You’re both going about this all wrong,” Kresho said. “Tenad, you know where SNT1 is, and I know what he’s doing there. That’s serious leverage over an SNT.”
Jessup grunted a laugh. “What? SNT1 took his complements there on holiday?”
“He’s there because he’s discovered another SNT ship in hiding. Nothing I know of can get an SNT’s full attention quite like family.”