Happy Friday everyone! I hope last weeks reading highlights for March gave you some great ideas for fabulous reads. As always I’d love to hear from you if you find a great read and you want to share. This week, however, it’s time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. In our last longer bonus instalment we had a reunion with Fury, Mac and Manning. This week Fury and his crew come to the rescue of a ship and discover the crew has been up to something sinister. 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!
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 7: Damages and Consequences
“There’s a ship coming in fast.”
“Shit!” Manning said. “Another Jaeger?”
“It is not,” came the reply. “And it is alone. It is sending a distress signal.” He put the other ship and it’s message on screen, but Fury and his compliment were cloaked and invisible to anything but another SNT.
The ship was tiny, an older starling class, battered and clearly not well cared for. “No doubt smugglers,” Manning observed. “Probably down on their luck come to Taklamakan Major to steal from the salvage dumps.”
The pilot was a scruffy man, who looked like he could use a bath. Mac wrinkled her nose at the thought. He was speaking the common tongue. She glanced at the telemetry. “They’re venting oxygen, and there’s a radiation leak. Ship’s in worse shape than some of the junk in the yards.”
“It will crash onto the planetoid if I do not tractor it,” Fury said.
“Do it,” Manning ordered. “And ‘tran the crew into the cargo bay.” There was no real need to tell Fury any of this, but there was a routine they had fallen into, and it comforted them all when they were together for the long haul, without seeing another being for endless stretches of time. Not that they were ever bored, nor did they ever have cabin fever, not with Fury, but for each of them to fulfill a role, was the maintaining of a structure on which their lives were now built. Manning was the captain, Mac was the pilot and Fury contained them, maintained them and cared for all three of them.
“I have them in the tractor beam,” Fury said.
To which the captain of the smaller vessel responded, “what the fuck?”
“You’re being ‘tranned into our cargo bay for radiation treatment until we access and repair your ship,” Fury responded.
“Wait a minute, ‘tranned? Are you fucking crazy? No ‘tranning! There’s been -” The crew of three were ‘tranned mid-rant.
“They sound charming,” Mac said. “Though I suppose considering that molecular transport is illegal and not nearly sophisticated enough for human transport, you can’t really blame them.”
“There is little choice,” Fury said. “Their ship is not safe for humanoids and I cannot fix it with them on board, nor will I risk any of my compliment to treat them under such dangerous circumstances.”
“Can you fix it?” Manning asked.
“I can. It should not take long. The repairs necessary are not complex, only the ship’s crew cannot manage the task on their own, and they have not properly cared for the vessel.” The sharp edge is Fury’s voice at the poor maintenance of a ship made his disapproval clear, but then with Fury’s mix of tech and biology, he could not keep from being sensitive to what he viewed as mistreatment. “I already do not like these men,” he commented. Both Manning and Mac nodded agreement.
“Let’s get them treated and sorted and out of here ASAP,” Manning said.
A sudden sense of static ran over both their skin and they shivered. “What is it, Fury?” Manning asked. “What’s wrong?”
“There is the scent of sex on all three of these men, one woman, and there is the scent of her blood. It was not consensual.”
“Fucking hell,” Mac cursed. “And she’s not onboard.”
“She is not.” The static of Fury’s anger rose.
“Then blow the bastards out the airlock,” Manning said.
“No wait.” Mac laid a hand on Manning’s arm, and the other against Fury’s consol. “If she’s still alive, she may need help.”
Manning blew out a sharp breath and nodded. Fury cursed, something he seldom did.
“Then we shall question them severely. I will do it myself.”
“Let me do it,” Mac said.
“No!” Both of her men said at the same time.
“What? You don’t think the two of you can rescue me if three men with radiation poisoning in our tight little cargo cabin get stroppy,” she used the term cargo cabin loosely. Where the men were was the place maintained to isolate certain types of humanoids from the rest of Fury’s compliment and from seeing what was not meant for them to see. In essence it was a jail when need be.
“Of course we could easily rescue you from these wastrels, dear Mac. It was our concern that this task shall be difficult for you, Mac, after what has been done to you.”
“But it will make me a helluva lot scarier than either of you could ever be.”
Manning rubbed his chin and nodded. “I’ve seen you scary, Mac.” She could feel Fury giving the SNT equivalent of a nod.
“Then I shall keep a lock on you at all times.”
“I’d expect nothing less,” she replied.
“And I’m coming with,” Manning added.
“Fair enough. I’ve seen you scary too, Manning,” she said.
“And if the two of you are not scary enough, I reserve the right to be terrifying.”
“We reserve the right to let you,” Mac said. She knew of nothing that frightened her more that the lengths to which an SNT would go to protect his compliment.