Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week Len learns that Fury and his compliments understand Ascent’s reluctance far better that Len can imagine. This week all hell breaks loose, and we are reminded once again why no one trusts a Fallon. 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. This one is particularly long in order not to break the flow of events. 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 Felish, 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 55: Something’s Wrong
“You’ve allowed her to your core?” Mac said to Fury. She joined Manning in the galley for coffee. “I thought perhaps you might. I sensed her wandering about last night, but my feeling was that she didn’t want my company or anyone else’s, except maybe yours.”
“I had hoped that it might comfort her,” Fury replied, “but I am certain there is only one source of comfort that will truly ease her suffering, ease both of their suffering.”
“Ascent’s in agony, Mac said. “Can she not sense his pain?”
“Surely you remember how it was with us, Diana Mac,” he replied. “Space was necessary for both of us so that we would be able to come together again. Yes we suffered. We suffered terribly, and I do not wish such pain on anyone, but that journey must be made and they alone must make it in order to find their way back to one another. As it was with me, it is as important for Ascent to come to understand how he has hurt her and how he must allow her to his heart, for that is where she belongs, as he belongs in hers.”
“Do you think it might help if we went to Ascent, Mac and I?” Manning said. “We know what it’s like to love a neurotic SNT and to have to learn to be together, to trust each other. Maybe we can help him. At least we can comfort him. He shouldn’t be dealing with this alone any more than Lenore should.”
“While I kept watch with him through the night, making certain he was aware of my presence, he chose not to speak to me, which I also understand, having been nearly non-verbal in my own pain when our Mac left us. But I do believe that it would be a great kindness to Ascent. It would perhaps help him view the situation through the eyes of a compliment. Certainly I believe we all understand why he will not take Lenore Falish to himself. We have, each of us, felt that unworthiness, and it is terrible. One feels so very alone. Finish your breakfast first. I will not send you to the surface hungry. Then you can go, and I will stay to comfort Lenore so that neither of them is alone.”
Breakfast didn’t take long. Neither of them was very hungry, though Fury prodded them to at least eat something. He was such a mother hen at times. They both understood too well what Ascent and Lenore were suffering. They also knew that it was critical that Ascent bonded with Lenore sooner rather than later when there were two Fallons with war ships orbiting Tak Major. Sooner or later they’d figure out how to get inside the mole-tran and then Ascent would be at their mercy.
“I will ‘tran you directly to Ascent’s core. Though he may be mostly non-verbal right now, he has opened himself for us, but more in hopes that Lenore Falish will return to him. Do tell him that we will return her the instant she is ready, and she will be ready. I feel it in my own heart.”
“Fury,” Mac reached out her hand and touched what she could not see, but he had manifest for her, a stubbled face that planted a kiss on her palm, “convince her to come home so they can know what it should be like.”
“I will do all that is in my power,” he said, embracing them both. “Hurry back. I will have great need of you when you return.”
“It’s good to be needed,” Manning said. They had come too close to losing each other too often to ever take good-byes for granted.
The static prickle of a molecular transport in progress passed over Mac’s skin the blink of an eye before the galley faded and dematerialized. For a moment that might have been an eternity, neither she nor Manning existed, and then there was light and feeling and the tingling of limbs being reconstructed in a nanosecond, all things Mac would rather not think about, and didn’t most of the time. But it was not Fury’s gentle transport landing that they experienced, rather a hard drop onto a cold floor. It was most definitely not Ascent’s core that materialized before them when they came out of the transport.
“Something’s wrong,” was all Mac could manage. There was a brief flash of the deck of a Jaeger and a red-headed woman standing over them. On the com someone was yelling angrily. But before she could even utter her surprise, there was the sudden sting of a hypo in her neck and she was collapsing on the deck next to Manning as the world around them faded again, but this time to black.
“Fallon, what the fuck did you do? What the fuck do you do, goddamn it!” Kresho raged, pounding a fist on the console. Even as he raged, he knew exactly what she had done. How could he not have suspected?
“Oh come on, Ivanovic,” came the response over the com. “Did you really think I was ignorant of my father’s very sophisticated mole-tran system? Hell, I had it on the Virago before the Apocalypse did. Cloned it right under his nose, and it was a whole lot easier to install on a tiny little Jaeger.
“Do you realize what you’ve done? Do you fucking realize what you’ve just done?” he all but yelled into the com. “Fury will destroy all four of you ships before you even know what’s happening, and the Compass right along with.”
She cut his audio but allowed him to see and hear what was being said on her end, and she was haling Fury.
“SNT1, this is Tenad Fallon on board the Virago. I have your compliment. They’re safe, and they’ll remain safe as long as you meet my demands.”
The roar over the com system was deafening, even through Kresho’s coms. Fallon didn’t flinch. “If you let my brother and me transport aboard, I will tell you our demands.”
Before Tenad could say anything else, she was being ‘tranned off her ship, with Jessup right beside her.
It was a brutal transport. Tenad rematerialized on her hands and knees vomiting. Jessup was next to her doing the same. When she finally stopped heaving, she wiped streaming eyes and snotty nose on the back of her sleeve, and looked around, they were in a small featureless room with no visible door. She tried to crawl to her feet, but couldn’t manage it just yet. Jessup kept puking and cursing.
“They are safe?” Came the voice over the com they also couldn’t see.
Jessup managed something about blowing the goddamned SNT out of the sky before he gagged again.
“Shut up, Jessup,” She managed. “Yes. Yes SNT1, they are perfectly safe.”
“That is all I need to know.”
A vent opened overhead. There was a hiss of oxygen and then a sudden weight on her chest. The fucking SNT was syphoning the air out of the chamber. “Do that and you’ll never …” Her words were literally sucked from her mouth.
“Fury! Fury! If you do that, you will never find your beloveds again! Their signals have been masked.” It was Ascent’s’s voice that filtered through the rage and the pain. “Listen to me. Let them think they have won. We will find dear Diana Mac and Richard Manning together. We are not without our resources, brother. After that, these two, they will be easy enough to deal with however we choose.”
Fury came back to himself in such pain as he had not felt since his birth. But this time, he came into the comfort of his brother, and in that there truly was comfort, though the ache he felt was as though his inner workings had been ripped from him and flung far into space. With a thought, he restored air to the Fallons in his brig, but he did not do it very quickly, nor did he send in a med-bot to treat them for transport sickness. While he might be forced to keep them alive until he had his loved ones back, he did not have to make them comfortable.
When they could breathe again and they were not too nauseated to speak with him, at least the woman wasn’t, he spoke over the com. “What do you want?”
The woman coughed and pressed her hand to her chest, blinking back tears from both the vomiting and the struggle to breathe. “I’m pretty sure you know a part of that.”
“You want my inheritance.”
“My inheritance. The one that my dear brother Gerando stole from me.”
“You are not the eldest, and your name was not even on the will. As I understand what I have read, what Gerando has also told me, the will is legitimate and it is binding.”
“And now all the Fallon fortune and resources belong to you to do with what you will. I understand that. And if you want your compliment to stay alive, you will sign it all over to me.” She waved a dismissive hand, “Oh I don’t care about the indentureds. I have plenty of my own. Do with them whatever you want. The rest, I want back. That is my first demand.”
She tried to climb to her feet, but still could not manage it. Fury had to admit he took pleasure in seeing the sweat break on her forehead and her efforts to swallow back whatever still remained that was trying to push its way out of her stomach. This she did manage, and finally she spoke. “I want you to help me gain control over the SNT in the salvage yard in the Sea of Death. I know it’s there and I know you can get through the de-mole barrier.”
“He is not mine to control, or anyone else’s,” Fury replied, “and at the moment he is little more than salvage himself.” To this Ascent made a rude sound in his ear.
“Nevertheless, if you want your compliment to stay alive, you will do as I ask.”
“Is that all?”
“There’s one more thing.” This time she pushed her way to her feet managing to stay upright by pressing her back against the wall.
“I want you to bond with me, SNT1”
This time Ascent cursed out loud and used language Fury had not heard from him before concerning the parentage and the sexual preferences of the two Fallons. Fury would have laughed at her had he not realized the woman was very serious indeed. Instead he spoke carefully, measuredly, as though he spoke to a child. “To bond with an SNT is no simple process even for someone who has been prepared over years so that their bodies will not reject that bond, and there are often -”
“Can it be done?” She cut him off.
“It is a very complex procedure, and it is quite possible that my core would reject you even after you have completed the course of immune-suppressants.”
“Gerando was accepted without that.”
“Gerando had undergone the training to become a compliment long ago, and that involved small transfusions of SNT blood over a long period of time. Without it the humanoid immune system will reject that joining, that blood, just as it does of a differing blood type.”
“But it can be done?”
“Possibly, but it may also kill you.”
“Well then,” she squared her shoulders and blinked large green eyes, “you had better make sure it doesn’t if you want your compliment to continue living.”
“If my compliment dies, you die as well.” Through the view screen he could see the fine hair on her neck and arms rise and gooseflesh as he made his message physically clear. “It is a very dangerous double-edge sword you now wield, Tenad Fallon, you had better be certain you know how to use it.”
“If I didn’t think I could use it, I wouldn’t have hefted it,” she replied, then jerked her head toward the wall in front of them. “Now let us out, find us a place to clean up and then show us to the bridge.”
He ‘tranned them immediately into a tiny space with bunked berths built into the wall and very small shower and toilet. It was only across the hall from the space they had been in.
“What the fuck is this? What the goddamned fuck is this little shithole? My fucking Indentured has a bigger space than this.”
“Shut up, Jessup,” Fury heard his sister say before the man made another dash to the bathroom to vomit again, but his sister did not.
Like all SNTs, Fury was aware of everything that went on within himself, but it was not the squabbles of the Fallons that drew his attention, it was the small, incredibly empathetic, woman at his core, feeling for him in his agony, steadying him, comforting him, and it was Ascent, who encouraged her to do so.
“I’m safe, Fury, and they don’t know I’m here,” Lenore said.
“They do not know that I’m here either, my brother,” Ascent said. “Best they believe I am, as you said, little more than a pile of salvage myself, for now you have allies.”
“You have more than us,” Lenore said. “Arji will help us and so will everyone in Sandstorm. We have the Fallons and their operation well covered. Someone will know where Mac and Manning are.”
“We will find your loved ones, Fury, and we will return them safe and whole into your arms.”
Fury did not reply. He had allowed his compliment to be taken from him, how could he have failed those he loved so terribly.
“What you are thinking, my brother will avail you nothing. And it is a lie, as you have told me. What has happened could not have been foreseen. It was not your fault. We will get your dear ones back, and I will rise up with dear Lenore, and we will take our revenge and go together to find our brothers and sisters and restore what has been taken from us.”