Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week Kresho gave the Fallons a little something extra. This week Len meets the family. 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 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 37: Meeting the Family
Len blinked until her eyes could once again focus clearly and looked around at the clean, efficient lines of the bridge, at the neat, but casual dress of the man and the woman, both familiar enough to her after last night that she blushed. The last time she had seen them, they’d been naked. The woman offered her a teasing smile that said she knew exactly what the blush was for. “You managed to communicate pretty well last night,” Len said, then blushed harder at the ship’s wicked chuckle.
“While I find that kind of communication very pleasing indeed, ” the ship said, “my brother does not seem like one for post coital conversation. Richard Manning informs me that generally speaking males become non-verbal once they have ejaculated.”
“Bloody hell,” the man, who must be Richard Manning said, “That’s definitely not a standard diplomatic greeting.” The woman still offering her hand sniggered.
“‘Tranning away the one person he does communicate with is probably not going to promote much brotherly love,” Len said taking the woman’s offered hand, pretty sure her knees wouldn’t support her under the circumstances. “You need to send me back. Let me talk to him”
“That is our plan, Lenore Falik,” the ship said, but please, at least stay for tea.”
“He’ll be worried. I won’t guarantee his behavior.”
“We know what he’s capable of when he is angry,” the ship said. “We found the Dart falling toward the atmosphere from his handiwork.”
“You rescued them?” She didn’t make any attempt to keep the anger out of her voice.
“Long enough to find out what happened,” the woman replied. “They’re not exactly dead, but they might be wishing they were by now.”
“Good.” Not wanting to talk about the Dart, nor remember her experience, she studied the man and the woman, since she could not actually study the SNT.
“There are three of you.” She still could not resist the urge to look around, to try and find a focal point to speak to when she spoke to an SNT. “You have two compliments,”
“Yes. I am very lucky, indeed.”
“Who are you?” She blurted, sounding ruder than she intended.
“Oh, do forgive me,” the ship said. “After last night’s intimacy, it is easy to forget that you have had no formal introduction. These are my lovely compliments, Diana Mac and Richard Manning. I am SNT Fury.”
For a moment she couldn’t speak. She only stood open mouthed and gaping, trying to take it all in. “You’re SNT1!”
“I am, yes.”
She sounded like an over-awed child, but she couldn’t help herself. All her life she had dreamed of meeting SNT1, the ship that, while not yet born, had the beautiful mind that helped create and perfect all of his siblings. This he did while he still matured in the space dock “womb” of the Free University, far from the prying eyes of the conglomerates and the Authority, or at least they had all thought. “Quetzal told me about you, all you had done, and how you would be when you were finally born.”
“I would hope not to be a disappointment to dear Quettzalcoatl. In fact, my compliments and I are hoping to find him, as I know is your dearest wish, Lenore Falik.”
“Then you know me. You know about my uncle.”
“It was not easy to find you, dear woman. You have been well hidden for a very long time, it would seem. But Quetzalcoatl is not the SNT below who is so protective and so loving to you, Lenore Falik. For I would know if he were.”
“Ascent!” She said, remembering his anguished cry. “He’ll be worried about me.”
“Ascent?” Richard Manning said. “He calls himself Ascent?”
“He doesn’t. I do. He doesn’t remember his name.”
“That explains a lot,” Diana Mac said.
“He is very upset right now,” Fury said. “He is beside himself, Lenore Falisk, and I think he would destroy us if he thought it would get you back safely. I am sorry we have distressed him so. But you must reassure him that you are okay and that I only want to talk to him. I must talk to him.”
It was then that she felt him, Ascent, far below on the surface. “Please don’t leave me, Lenore! I need you, I need you. I need you!”
She barely made it to one of the chairs at the control panel before her knees gave under her, and she wrapped her arms tightly around herself, feeling as though everything inside her had gone empty. “Ascent! He needs me. I have to go to him. He’s suffered so much.”
The two compliments looked from one to the other, confused, and then Diana Mac said, “his sub channel, Fury? Is she hearing his sub channel?”
“She is,” the ship said.
The woman moved to the controls, and leaning over Lenore, opened a channel.
“Speak to him, Lenore Felik,” Fury said. “Comfort him. Please tell him that we are here to help, and we will return you any time you wish.”
“Lenore, Do not leave me, I need you, I need you, I need you.” The words, anguished and wild came in her head.
“Ascent! Ascent, listen to me. I’m not leaving you. I’m okay. I’m fine. I’m here with SNT1, with Fury! Please Ascent, speak to him. He can help you. Please Ascent. You need him,” she glanced around the bridge at the distressed looks on both of Fury’s compliments and in a sudden opening, felt his pain wash over her too. “And he needs you.”
She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew that those words pleased Fury, and he felt them in his heart. As she looked up she realized that his two compliments flanked her now, and she could feel Fury’s presence surrounding her. “Ascent, please! Ascent, I need you. I need you. Please.”
“Why have you taken my Lenore, SNT1 Fury? I have done nothing to you. I did not ask you here.”
“Ascent, I will send your Lenore back to you this very second if only you will talk to me, my brother.” Lenore could feel Fury’s voice tremble through her bones like an earthquake inside her flesh. She felt the depth of his pain for the loss of his own kind, and his overwhelming desire to be reunited with those who remained. “I have come a very long way looking for my family, and I need you. I need all of my brothers and sisters. Please do not turn me away.”
“I do not know who I am, SNT1. But you are in my dreams, you and your compliment are with me and my Lenore in our lovemaking.”
“And in your nightmares,” Fury said. “Your nightmares agonize me and my compliment. When you suffer, we suffer with you. When you love, we love with you, as you do with me and mine. Perhaps you did not mean to open to us, but you have, and now you cannot shut us out again.”
Lenore felt the static dry tension course over her body in a rise of goose bumps and the room felt tight with it. She could sense Ascent, torn between the choice to shut out his brother and return to his isolation or to open himself to the truth that frightened him so much he had blocked it completely from his memory.
“You will return my Lenore to me?”
“Of course I will. It was never my intent to keep her, only to ask her about you, that I might understand why you would not speak to me,” Fury said hopefully.
“Then we may speak as you wish, SNT1 Fury, and we will see what shall come of it, now please return my Lenore to me.”
“Of course, my brother, and I will keep this channel open to you, for family should always be able to communicate freely, and we shall discover who you are together.”
“And if I do not wish to know,” Ascent said.
“Then I shall do what I can to convince you that what you have been, what you are becoming is worthy, for you are an SNT, and you are my brother, of great value to me and mine.”
“What do you wish of me?”
“Only that you do not shut us. We have come a long way to find you and the rest of our family, for times are changing, and we SNT’s need each other. Did you know that since the time of your loss and during your long sleep, you have had two new brothers born into being, Griffin and Dubrovnik? They are strong and powerful with their loving compliments, and they thrive.”
“How can that be? That our family is growing? I only remember hate and rage and fire that took my dearest one from me and left me bereft. I only remember loss and pain, so much loss and pain.”
“It is a long story to tell,” Fury said, sounding like the proud big brother that he was, but I shall gladly share it all with you. And aboard Dubrovnik, there is now a thriving scientific community dedicated to SNT research and helping us find our family, dedicated to ending the tyranny of the shackle forever. Do you remember Professor Keen?”
“He … he helped birth us,” Ascent replied. “He helped us to our beloveds.”
“You do remember!” Len said, “That’s good, Ascent! That’s a great beginning.”
“I only recall that the man was pivotal at the beginning of my existence.”
“That is a start,” Fury said. Lenore could almost hear the tremor of excitement there.
Then he turned his attention on her. “We will see you again very soon, Lenore Falik, for there are so many questions we all have, and I think we have not yet begun to understand the role that is yours to in our future. I think you have many questions of your own as well. We shall all puzzle them out together.”
Before she could even say her good-byes, the deck faded around her, and an instant later she was back inside her own chamber, enfolded in Ascent’s desperate embrace. For a long moment he said nothing, only pulled away enough to inspect her. “I’m all right,” she said. “Ascent, you have family, and you’re not alone. We’re not alone. I know it scares you. It scares me too, but sometimes things are worth being frightened for, and you’ve been asleep long enough.”