Happy Friday everyone! And happy reading! Last week I talked books and good reads, a new post I now offer on the first Friday of each month. But this week it’s time to return to our desolate ship and the mysterious heroine, who we left struggling to reach shelter before the dangerous desert night set in. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. Last week we learned that safety isn’t that easy to come by. This week we discover that help isn’t easy to access. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!
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 4: Accessing!
As I watched the desert woman struggle, I felt such pain, such helplessness, as I had not felt since my great loss. Against all odds this ragged creature had returned to me, and, in my efforts to provide for her, I had made her suffering worse. While the scent of her blood had disturbed me when last she visited me, it was as nothing compared to the scent of death clinging to her like a parasite. She had sustained more injuries than one humanoid should be able to endure and remain functional, and those injuries had been inflicted by other humanoids. Her condition roused in me feelings I could not bear to revisit, so I forced them aside to focus on this woman and her struggles. She would die, and very soon, if I could not access my resources. I remembered in my frustration, in the addled jumble of memories I avoided so carefully, that I had resources, many resources. Though perhaps I had lost them in my fall from grace. Had I fallen from grace? I could remember no such fall. I could remember only that there had once been grace once, and I felt its loss all the more exquisitely as I watched the woman’s desperate efforts to get to the safety I struggled to provide. It was as she wrapped the cloth which she had covered her filthy shorn hair tightly around her ribs that I realized my mistake. I had put safety beyond her reach. The dear soul would have to climb to reach me.
Access! I needed access to resources, to functionality, to data, to power sources, to my core, to the rest of myself. And yes, even newly awakened as I was, in all that was lost to me I knew there was so much more. I was a master at multi-tasking, or I had once been. Down into the darkness I dove charging through meaningless terabytes of information a fog that could not be real, could not truly exist, a fog I had created as protection from my loss. I cursed myself in a most humanoid way that in my shortsightedness I had not thought perhaps there would be functions I would need, that perhaps I would, at some point in my endless desolate future, once again have companionship, albeit rough companionship. I did not plan for such an event. Nor had I understood that in such an event I might need to provide aid and comfort. I had never imagined such would again be my lot. And yet here I was unable to access the most basic functions, the key purpose of my very existence, to provide companionship, to work in tandem with one so vulnerable, to offer strength, to offer access to the stars. And yet as this woman, my woman, as I had already begun to think of her, started her ascent, I was scrambling in the darkness of my own data seeking for basic resources to save her life. For even, against all odds, if she were to reach the shelter I had provided, my analysis of the situation was that she would most certainly die without my help, for she had no resources of her own. Even the pack she had carried when last she came to me was missing.
There was a place within my data that would allow me to heal her, knowledge, resources, but none of that mattered if I had put myself beyond her feeble reach. I could not even access the very basic function of movement that would bring the unlovely airlock I had provided closer to the woman’s reach. Basics. Basics. Basics! Why had I chosen to forget basics? How could I be so consumed in my own loss that I had not thought others had also suffered losses. And this woman drawing nearer, the blood loss accelerating with each agonized effort, pausing, lurching, gasping for each painful breath, had suffered her share of loss. I scented upon her flesh the reek of violation, the scent of angry males, the scent of petty helplessness magnified by testosterone and frustration. My own rage crackled and hummed at her suffering, my own frustration magnified as she slipped and would have fallen if she had not been truly skilled in the art of climbing. These men who had harmed her, they were not far, and they would pay. In an instant I lashed out, unaware until I had done it that I could manage such violence, unaware as I had done it even exactly what I had done, but they did not deserve further attention from me. The one struggling so valiantly to get to me, she deserved my full attention.
There were new cuts, deep cuts on her hand, and I had put them there as surely as if I had taken a knife to her. If she had fallen to her death, it would have been one more death laid at my door. Had I caused other deaths? These who had harmed her, had I caused their death? I found that I did not care if I had. And if there had been other deaths laid at my door, that memory I shut behind airlocks and fog and shifting sand deep inside myself. That memory I did not want to access. I only wanted to help. I only wanted to ease this woman’s suffering. I wanted her to live. I needed her to live, I who had sworn to myself before I sank into my deep slumber I would never allow myself to need again.
Accessing, accessing, Fucking accessing! Words of frustration, curses, colloquialisms, scraps of doggerel, limericks. These were not what I needed now. These belonged to someone else, to another life lost. Accessing, accessing! Multi-tasking.
She ascended another agonizing few feet and then vomited painfully into the empty space, vomited nothing but bile. She could scarce afford more loss of body fluids, dehydrated as she already was.
Accessing, accessing. The Vienna waltz, ghost stories from Diga Prime. Heart and Soul, Chopsticks, Beethoven! Goddamn it! Nothing useful! Nothing fucking useful, and my woman, the one who had come back to me, the only other in this desolate world, slipped again. She did not cry in her frustration, she did not curse, she did not make a single sound, in her agony, as she steadied herself, she did not even moan. Once again she wiped her bleeding hand on her trousers, and looked up at safety, tantalizing, tempting safety just beyond her reach,
Accessing, motherfucking accessing, desperate accessing!
She was going to jump. She was going to bloody jump!
Accessing, Vaticana Jesu! Accessing!
She was going to jump, and if she did, she would not make it. She would fall to her death, and I would once again be alone.
She jumped! I accessed and reached into the darkness. She jumped, her fingers slipped. She fell away, away, away.
Accessing, accessing, ACCESSING!
She fell away, and I reached out and drew her into my safety.
Once she was safe inside, I closed the airlock and with less than a thought made myself invisible to anyone who might come looking for her. At the time I could not say how I did it. Perhaps again it was some instinct of self-preservation that my makers had given me, but then again, I do not recall that instincts can be programed. Still, it did not seem quite like simple programming. None of that mattered at the moment. All that really mattered was keeping her safe.
But then she stopped breathing.