Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week all hell broke loose, and we were reminded once again why no one trusts a Fallon. This week Kresho prepares to meet Fury, and possibly his doom. 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 56: I Should Have Seen this Coming
“I should have seen this coming! I should have fucking known better.” Kresho paced back and forth on the bridge of the Compass. “Now we don’t know where they are. Now our hands are tied. He turned to the com and all but shouted, “If they die, Ori! If they die their deaths’ll be two more deaths on my head, and I’ll deserve it when Fury blows me the fuck out of the sky.”
“They won’t die, Kresho. She can’t afford their deaths and we’ll find them long before that becomes an issue.”
“What part of that bitch masking their signals did you not catch?” He waved the question aside with a hand that was none to steady at the moment. “I should have killed that goddamned woman while I was in her quarters. Fuck knows she gave me the perfect opportunity.”
“For now, we need her alive,” came Ori’s voice over the com. She won’t dare kill Fury’s compliment, as I said. I think the stupid woman believes she can simply sever that connection, stick them aboard a transport to some remote system and keep them under lock and key with just enough contact that Fury will pine for them, and suffer, but keep her alive and do what she commands in order to keep them safe. She truly believes that she can replace them as simply as one replaces the drive on a replicator. She is a fool.”
“But she’s a clever fool. Now what?” He said wiping sweaty palms on his trousers.
“The plan hasn’t changed. Now it’s time you give SNT1 a visit and play our ace in the hole.”
“What the fuck ace in the hole? In case you haven’t noticed, Fallon just pulled a huge ace out of her ass, one I should have seen? Fury doesn’t need me now. I don’t know where Manning and McAllister are. I’m useless to him, me he may very well blow out the airlock for instigating this whole cluster fuck.”
“No, he will not, and you did not instigate this cluster fuck, as usual, that’s the Fallons’ job. Now stop with the damn self-pity already. We have work to do, and yes, we do have an ace in the hole.”
“How do you figure?’
I have called in all our resources, scanning the planetoid and even Fallon’s own ships. Though I think if the woman has SNT tech on board, it would be a huge mistake to hide the compliments of another SNT there. I don’t know if her ship is the only one that has it, but I would be willing to bet it is. That would not be the kind of information she’d share. Besides to install it on even one ship she must have gone to great lengths and great expense, even if she did steal the tech from her father. Yes, she is wealthy, but her resources are still limited. She cannot afford to treat SNT technology as casually as one would buy a holiday in the pleasure isles. No, Fury’s compliment will not be on any of the Fallon ships, and she certainly won’t trust her brother to keep them safe, or even keep them captive. Wherever they are, it will be remote, unlikely and completely secret. Knowing her, she might well kill the security force assigned to help her accomplish the task once it’s finished just to make sure there are no flapping lips. Besides,” she added as an afterthought, “if they were on any of those ships, I would know it.”
“What then? You said we had an ace in the hole.”
“I did, yes. While I did not find Fury’s compliment, I did find something else rather interesting. The Fallons are not the only ones onboard SNT1.”
“The one thing we had not taken into consideration when we were trying to deduce who had ‘tranned, and where they had ‘tranned to when we were analyzing Fury’s transports was that the single transport signals might not have been either of Fury’s compliment.”
“Between your interrogations and Tenad Fallons’s rather unorthodox methods, of the crew of the Dart, you learned that the three men onboard had violated a woman on their ship and left her for dead in the Sea of Death.”
“Well that woman was our Lenore, Kresho.”
He barely made it back to his chair in time to collapse, and for a dreadful moment, he thought he would puke. Bloody hell, what Len had been through because of his failure, and now this.
If Ori were concerned over his shock, she didn’t show it, but then she never did. “Gerd did a little investigating in Sandstorm while you were occupied with Tenad Fallon, and she discovered that it was indeed Lenore.”
“Fuck! Even after I came clean with Arji and told him the whole story, he still didn’t tell me about … the Dart, about what had happened.”
“Of course he wouldn’t. I’m sure Lenore has painted a rather rubbish picture of you for him, and while he’s always trusted you before, well the woman has his heart, and he would do anything for her.”
“If what the crew of the Dart said then is true, and all evidence points to that, then Len should have died. Three men beat her and,” he swallowed his gorge, “beat her and raped her, then they threw her off the ship in the middle of the Sea of Death. Her chances of survival were, I’d say non-existent. Except … she discovered the SNT in the salvage dump, didn’t she?”
“At about the same time Fury sensed his presence on the surface. The lone signal that was beamed to and from the scrap yard and the final transport signal into Sandstorm and out was our Lenore.
“And then again yesterday evening when you were busy entertaining Tenad Fallon, the two signals that had tranned to the surface returned to Fury. Those would be his compliments. Then perhaps a little more than two hours later there was another ‘tran up. No one else was there but our Lenore, so it had to be her. She did not ‘tran back down.”
“Fuck me! Then she’s there onboard with Fury.”
“And I am guessing the Fallons do not know.”
“They barely know of her existence. They certainly don’t know who she is and if they find out…”
“They mustn’t find out,” she said. This is not a safe situation for her or for our SNT friend down below on the surface. Certainly there’s no way Fury could know, though I’m sure they’ve wondered why she of all people found an SNT hiding among the wreckage, one who didn’t want to be found. Kresho, we need to get her out of there. If the Fallons find out who she is, what she is, they’ll see her as an opportunity. We’ve got to get her away.”
For a tight moment there was silence and then Kresho simply said, “keep a lock on me.” Then he commed Fury.