Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week Len got caught by the wrong person. This week, Tenad Fallon begins to realize just what she’d up against to become compatible with Fury. 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 58: The Conditions of the Bargain
“Fury! What have you done! What the fuck have you done! Bring her back! Bring her-” Kresho came out of transport ass end over teacup and landed hard on the bridge of the Compass.
“Fury didn’t do anything,” Ori said over his subdural. “Well he did send you back here to keep the Fallons from seeing you. Make that Fallon,” she added.
He could almost hear the self-satisfaction in her voice, as he stood and stumbled to his seat at the console. “Where is she? Where the hell is she, I can ‘tran her back, it’s not too late, not for her, it’s not too late.” On the view screen, he pull up and magnify Jessup Fallon’s body tumbling slow motion in the void, hid dick still hanging out. But Len was nowhere to be found.
“She’s not out there. She’s back on the surface with the SNT there. Apparently, he’s not as helpless as they think he is.”
Kresho slumped in his chair and ran his hands over his face. “She’s okay then. Thank fuck.”
“I’m beginning to think our friend on the surface has a soft spot for her,” Ori said. “That’s very interesting.”
Kresho straightened and looked back out the view screen at Jessup Fallon tumbling end over end, then he shut it off. For a moment he stared at the emptiness of their own surroundings, then replicated a double New Hibernian and downed it in one. “Do you think he knows?”
“I doubt it. How could he? As far as anyone knows the only embryo to survive the experiments became Fury’s Diana Mac. And even those few that do know have no real idea what that actually means. Fury will figure it out though. He is SNT1 after all, and he knows Diana McAllister’s history.”
“And he despises me.”
“Clearly not as badly as you despise yourself. This mistake is on me. I should have sensed it. Fallons, at least some of them, are very wily. But they are only hacks when it comes to SNTs and SNT tech. The only one of any expertise is Gerando Fallon, and he’s exceptional. I’ve already begun creating the algorithms to help us find masked signals. Fury’s compliment have SNT DNA in their blood, and they are completely bonded to him. There are ways to uncover those signals. I just have to find them.”
“She’s not stupid enough to kill them. Surly she’s not.”
“She’s far too clever for that, but there are a lot of variables that are beyond even a Fallon’s control, and the Taklamakan system is unpredictable to say the least. Wherever they are, I wager they are not being kept in the lap of luxury.”
“Really, this isn’t necessary SNT1. I’ve had worse, and enjoyed it. Just not from my idiot brother.” Tenad Fallon chuckled softly to herself as the auto-doc in the infirmary worked on the nasty bruise Jessup had left on her cheek. “Hell, it would have been worth a lot more roughing up to see you ‘tran the bastard out into the void, end over end with his dick hanging out. Suitable end for the little prick, I’d say.” When SNT1 did not reply, she said. “I’m guessing the girl was also someone you didn’t want me to know about, still, ‘tranning her out into space, hell even ‘tranning my brother out I would have thought went against all SNT programming. Maybe my father was right after all and there is a little bit of psychopath in all of us.”
“You have no idea,” the ship said, voice cold enough to make her shiver.
“Oh, I probably do, but never mind that. You just totally made my day by ridding me of that pest. Ivanovic said to bring him along so we could keep an eye on him. That turned out to be a really stellar idea.” She waved a dismissive hand, “Oh don’t worry, Jessup didn’t know where your compliment are. I wouldn’t trust him with such important information, and he wouldn’t remember anyway once he had a little Mist in his brain.”
“Which you made sure he always had.”
“Well, he is a Fallon with a few resources of his own, though they were rapidly diminishing without the old man’s money. That dreadnaught is the only thing he has of any value. He’s ran a good crew into the ground and had them all cowed under the threat of the shackle. They don’t deserve that. They deserve the chance to shine.”
“And you would give them that.”
“Of course I would. Carrot, not stick, whenever possible, that’s my philosophy, SNT1. But I am very happy to use the stick if I have to.”
“So I have heard.”
“Now, we need to talk about this process I’ll have to undergo before we can bond. I’d like to start it as soon as possible. Oh, I understand if you want proof of life before we begin. I’m happy to arrange something.”
“That is not necessary,” the ship said. “I will know if they are dead, and so will you.”
In spite of the comfortable ambient temp in the room, goosebumps stood at attention on her arms. “Yes, I suppose I will.”
“If you are even to be compatible to bond with an SNT ship then you must, over a period of time, be injected with ever increasing doses of SNT core material, which your body will violently reject. When that response begins, these injections will be followed by immunodepressant treatments, which will also not be pleasant for you. Under ordinary circumstances, even to rush the compatibility of a compliment will take three months.”
“I see.” She touched her face and looked in the mirror the auto-doc held up for her to view the finished effort. “I want it done in a week.”
“No,” came the response.
“Are you reneging on our bargain, SNT1?” As with most humanoids, she looked around the room in an effort to see him. It was instinct, Fury supposed.
“I am safeguarding our bargain. If you die in the process before I have my compliment restored to safety, then they will die. That is not an acceptable risk, and I guarantee the process would kill you if we attempted to rush it so.”
“How much time than? A month?”
“A month you might survive, but it will be most unpleasant.”
She stood and straightened her worse for the wear clothing. “I’m good with that.”
“You will need help, help that normally my compliment would give if necessary. I cannot.”
“Camille then. I’ll have her ‘tranned over. She’s my indentured, and no, I won’t release her. That’s not part of the bargain.”
“Then I am very glad you shall be far too ill to abuse her.”
She forced a chuckle around the tight knot of nerves in her stomach at the thought of what lay ahead. She didn’t mind pain, but she was certain this experience would make anything she had ever experienced pale in comparison. She had always prided herself in being strong willed, able to get through whatever she had to, but this? Was it just that she feared Gerando actually was a stronger person than she? No. She would never believe that, never allow it. “Not everyone abuses their indentureds, SNT1.”
“You will not free them when they have done nothing to you, to deserve your enslavement. Is that not abuse by any standards?”
“While I see your point, SNT1, the economics of the situation simply do not allow society to be otherwise, and I won’t argue politics with you, when we have work to do,” she spoke into her subdural. “Have Camille ‘tranned over, no belay that order. Have her bring over the Andromeda. I would prefer not to transport any more than possible.”
She rubbed her hands together and stood. “Now, SNT1, I need a shower badly, and I’d appreciate it if you could replicate me something appropriate for my convalescence, then we can get started. If I’m going to spend the next month being very unwell, best get it over with.”
Tenad Fallon was frightened in spite of her bravado, something she could hide easily enough from other humanoids, to Fury, who was sensitive to humanoid emotions she was an open book, and one of which he would make very sure to read between the lines as their efforts began.