Dragon Ascending Part 69: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending.  Last week Tenad Fallon gave Fury an ultimatum. This week Len battles her own past as she struggles to the rendezvous spot with Camille.  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!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

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: Flash-Back and Ascent

“I love you. I need you. I love you. I need you.” Len kept the mantra going down the sub processor com more than anything because it made her feel connected in this isolated place. It had been the lack of connection, the complete isolation, that had nearly broken her here all those years ago, and now in her efforts, now when she had so much to lose for the first time in her life, she clung to that connection like it was more precious than the oxygen supply dwindling with every controlled breath she took. She was no longer alone, she told herself. This time she would make it off. This time she wouldn’t be isolated for three fucking months. In spite of her determination, in spite of those precious connections, this place, this awful place, brought it all back to her as though it were only yesterday. She had never revisited the nightmare of it, never revisited those memories in all the years since her escape. She supposed it was inevitable that they should come back to kick her in the butt now, but it was also the last thing she needed. Somehow that didn’t matter. The memories overflowed with the dwindling oxygen.

The first morning after her mother’s death, when it was warm enough that the facility was as comfortable as it ever got, Len had focused all of her attention on how to get off this iceberg. It gave her something to think about other than her loss, grief she couldn’t afford at the moment when she knew timing was everything if she wanted to stay alive, and her mother had wanted that, made her promise that over and over again before her death, always saying that Len’s life was paramount, that Len had to survive at all costs. She’d just figured that was a mother talking, the survival of the next generation and all that rubbish, and she always promised that she would, mostly just to get her mother to stop talking nonsense. So now she would do her best to keep that promise even if she didn’t particularly care one way or another at the moment. For her the effort of getting off Tak Minor became a focus point to get her outside herself and the pain she was sure would crush her if she dared dwell on it.

She could still send out a distress signal to the ship that had just left, but it wouldn’t come. They had killed her mother, and surely figured that if she were still alive, she wouldn’t be for long. If they did come back for her, she knew it was only for the shackle. She couldn’t keep from wondering why they hadn’t just shackled them both and taken them back for the bounty. On the long range scanner she could still see the ship, but it was heading away from Authority Space. It was only then that she realized the ship wasn’t an Authority vessel. A closer scan showed that it was a salvage ship. They didn’t take them alive for the bounty because they didn’t know who they were.  Cold terror tightened her empty belly, as she threw on her outdoor gear and ran to the storage shed that housed the back-up generator. Even before she got there she knew what she’d find. The pressure door had been left open to the elements leaving it open to the wind, but it didn’t matter now. It was empty of their most precious possessions, the back-up generator and Triaxe power cells that ran both generators. There was nothing on the station that would have been of more value to salvagers. Even the delicate instrumentation and the computers inside would have meant nothing compared to the Triaxe. The men had not bothered to look inside. They had, however, ransacked the food and medicine supplies in the storage shed. She had been taking sensor readings in the ice caves beneath Mount Orion when the shuttle set down. It wasn’t time for the annual manned visit, so of course her mother would have thought someone had discovered who they were and come to take them back for the bounty.

Tak Major belonged to the Rim Free Alliance. Tak Minor hadn’t been so lucky. Supposedly it was under joint control, but everyone knew the Authority used it to punish scientists who had somehow crossed them. And while the planetoid was of scientific significance, that had very little to do with the Authority efforts. It had long been suspected of being nothing more than an Authority satellite for spying on the Rim, but there was no real proof. All Len knew was that when the manned ship came, the chief engineer spent an inordinate amount of time fiddling with the instrumentation.

None of that mattered now. All that mattered was getting off alive. The ship had not taken all the supplies. Len and her mother always cached what they didn’t use from the previous supply dump, never trusting that the next one would come on time. Once a drone had crashed on the far side of Mount Orion due to freak winds. It had taken them days to salvage what they could with long exhausting treks out onto the flank of Orion and back. She figured her mother’s forethought and planning would just about keep her alive for the three galactic months until the next drone supply ship came. Fortunately it was on its way already and could not be turned back. Unfortunately, since it was only a drone ship and had no need to get anywhere fast, it had one speed, and that was slow. It was already visible on the long-range scanners, a tiny blip still three months out. It had no guidance controls, no accommodations for humanoids and no life support. But it was the only hope of her escape.

Len’s foot slipped and she did a belly flop against the rough icy slope jarring her back to the present, back to her purpose. Dragon was waiting. Dragon would come for her. She would get home to him. “I love you. I need you. D, remember the first time you saw me? Fuck that must have been such a shock to you! I must have looked more like a desert rat than a person. I love you. I miss you. I need you so much.” The mantra continued, drawing her back to the present, to staying focused on the task at hand, to slowing her breathing, to getting home to Dragon’s loving arms where she belonged.


“The fucking Dreadnaught is already here! How?” Kresho cursed profusely as he dropped the Compass into orbit above Tak Minor. He was glad they were still fully cloaked.

“Clearly Tenad Fallon’s contingency plan had contingencies,” Ori commented. “The Dreadnaught will have to drop the dampening field before it can launch the planet killer. I would guess we will have a two minute window, possibly three to ‘tran my brothers’ compliments out. I do not see the Andromeda. She must be cloaked,” she added.

“I’m trying to get a message through,” Kresho responded, “just keep an eye out for the dampening field to drop, and then you scan like hell.”

“I am on it.” Ori trying to use vernacular always made him smile, and somehow made him feel a little more like her compliment, and damn if he didn’t need all the help he could get right now.



“I have picked up two homing beacons,” Ori said. Cryo-pods.”

“I couldn’t get them out!” Camille was suddenly shouting down the sub processor. “I couldn’t get them out. Somehow the Dreadnaught blocked my signal.”

“I have them,” Ori responded. “As expected they contain Diana McAllister and Richard Manning. Their bio signs are good. Beginning reviving sequence.”

“Where is Lenore? Where is my Lenore?” Dragon roared into the sub processor. He had slipped into orbit fully cloaked and so stealthily that they hadn’t known he’d arrived yet.

“Shit! There were only two cryo- pods at the station,” Kresho responded. “What was she thinking? What the hell was she thinking? How could she have taken such a risk? Scanning the station now and ready to ‘tran her up.”

The dampening field just went down,” Ori said. “The Dreadnaught is commencing the launch sequence.”

“Fuck! She’s not at the station!” Kresho roared. “Where the fuck is she?”


Len spent the first day inventorying what was left of her dwindling supplies. Water was never a problem on Tak Minor since the whole damn planetoid was ice. Food, though, food was everything. There was just her now, and while her mother accused her affectionately of eating like a Triax minor, she could eat less. Far less. If her calculations were right, and they always were, and if she conserved her energy and rationed, and barring anything else unexpected, she should just be able to hold out until the drone arrived. That would be the easy part.

For the next few weeks, she studied everything she could find about Tak Major’s orbit, about its outposts and about where it would be when the drone arrived on Tak Minor. It was the only populated place she had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting to in the drone. She smiled at her ancient Terran cliché. She supposed it would be exactly that, throwing a snowball into the heat of hell. She shivered inside her thermo-shelter and thought she’d be very happy to roast for a while instead of freezing all the time.

There would be food and medical supplies onboard the drone that she and her mother had ordered nine months ago. Making up the shopping list was always an exercise in forethought and planning. There was no such thing as spontaneity on Tak Minor. She pulled up the inventory and checked down through the medical supplies until she found what was commonly known in most sectors as the Juliet drug on the list. It was a cocktail of drugs that when carefully administered would simulate death by slowing the heart rate and all vital signs to almost undetectable levels. Smalls doses were administered when cryo-stasis was used. Get the dosage a little too small and the person could go into convulsions. Get it too large and the resulting death would not be simulated. Still, without it, she knew she couldn’t make the journey, even to Tak Major.

Once she was sure of the orbits and the trajectories of drone ships coming from Hammer Fell and Vodni stations, both too far for her to make, she studied trajectories first to Windward, and Sunward outposts on Tak Major, only to discover that they would be on the far side of the planetoid when she would be forced to make her journey, and there would be no way to reach them. She was just about to despair when she pulled up Sandstorm Outpost, a dreadful place, from all of her research. It was nothing but miles of salvage dumps in a hideous sea of sand, but to her it looked like paradise. Sandstorm Outpost — that she could make, only just barely, but with the Juliet drug and a knowledge of the schematics and control system aboard the Mayfly 7 drones used for Tak Minor, she might just make it. That, however, was a knowledge she didn’t have.

There was lots of knowledge she didn’t have, could never have imagined she would need, knowledge she had only three months to get. Fortunately the one thing that never went down, never failed, never glitched was the central computer set up to enable a lone scientist or two to access the entire body of knowledge from the whole galaxy – well as much as anyone could access. It was there, as much as anything, to keep said scientists from going insane from boredom and isolation. It contained everything from university degrees learned online to porn to cartoons to cooking shows — for all the fucking good those did. They were actually vintage, old Terran, some people made it their life’s work studying cooking shows to try and replicate tastes and textures of foods and spices that had been lost to the known galaxy for so long that no one really had a clue what they tasted like. They called it food archeology. They then, in turn, had their own shows, many going to great lengths and sparing no expense to find and cultivate any extant heirloom seeds for a taste of authenticity, as if anyone would know the difference.

So Len set about learning how to program the guidance system on a Mayfly 7 drone ship, learning all she could about the Juliet Drug, and carefully monitoring the progress of the incoming drone. With her eidetic memory, any knowledge she sought out was very quickly committed to her brain, so there was lots of time to learn lots of things, anything, everything, to keep from thinking about her loneliness, her loss, her mother’s body frozen in the ice cave that housed the generator. For a brief time she researched everything she could about cryo-stasis. There were two cryo-pods in the storage room for emergency escape from the station, but launch devices on them would take her out into the main space lanes, and she would as likely be picked up by an Authority ship as not. As dire as her situation was, it was still better than a shackle. So that once again left her with the incoming drone as her only way off Tak Minor.

The wind picked up, as it always did on Orion. Len hoped that meant she was getting closer to the top. That was a good thing, she told herself. Soon she would break through the dampening field and Camille would ‘tran her up and take her home to Dragon. She trudged on. “I love you I need you, I love you. Dragon, remember when I woke you from the bad dream. I risked coming to your heart because I knew you. I knew your heart, that you would never hurt me, and I was right. I’m coming back to your heart, Dragon. I’ll be there soon. You’ll see. I love you, I miss you,” her thoughts coursed down the sub processor link, hoping against hope that Dragon could hear her, that he would know she was coming home to him. She stumbled and nearly fell again. A check of the oxygen levels said there was a danger of hypoxia, and she should readjust the flow. She couldn’t, she didn’t dare. Even now she would be nearly unconscious when she reached the summit. She’d set an automatic distress beacon in the suit so that if she wasn’t able to transmit, the beacon would do the job for her. Camille knew what to do. “I love you …. I need you …”