Dragon Ascending Part 76: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending in which we see that things are definitely changing. Len is finding closure and the Fallon crews have choices to make. 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 is especially true as we draw nearer the end of the novel. 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 Part 76: Choices and Cross Roads

 The first thing Len noticed as she walked into the Dustbowl was Camille chatting rather intimately with Arji over the bar. Dragon chuckled softly in her ear. “It would appear that your Arji’s affections have shifted.”

“Indeed.” She barely got the thought out before Arji and Camille both looked up and came over to her. Arji took her in his arms and lifted her off her feet in a bear hug. “That’s … how many now, Girlie Girl? Is it three lives you’ve used up? Lucky for you to have hooked up with a fancy SNT to keep you safe now, hmm?” He patted her so hard on her back that he nearly knocked the breath out of her, and Dragon tensed a little until she returned the favor and laughed. “You got it ass backwards, Arji. It’s me watching out for my SNT.”

“It don’t surprise me none” His eyes got serious, and he gave her arm a gentle squeeze. “He treatin’ you right that SNT of yours?”

“Yeah, Arji, he’s treatin’ me right.” To this Dragon nearly purred. “You all right, Camille?”

“Never better.” The little indentured – ex indentured — gave her a broad smile looking her up and down as though inspecting her for damage.

“Thank you for everything,” Len said. “If it hadn’t been for you we’d have never found Mac and Manning, and it was one helluva risk you took.”

The smile left the woman’s face, and she bit her lip shifting from foot to foot, then she held Len’s gaze. “Did he kill her?”

Len knew exactly who she was talking about. “I only know that Fury said she wouldn’t be any trouble to anyone anymore. No one has seen her since. I don’t think anyone has had the nerve to ask what happened.”

“But you suspect,” Camille said.

Len thought about it for a moment, then replied. “I know that Fury is already bonded. I also know that no matter how quickly Tenad’s body adjusted to Fury’s bio-tech, he could not have had a warm feeling for her after what she did, and while she might have entered his heart chamber to undergo the process, that doesn’t mean she would come out intact.”

“Good,” Camille said.

Just then Kresho came through the front door. When he saw Len, he offered her a smile that was far more like the old Van than anything she had seen from him so far.

“Kresho Ivanovic and Ouroboros have reconciled and had very pleasing sex,” Dragon said in her ear.

Before she could say TMI, Arji gave Kresho a hard slap on the back and said, “From the looks a you, Ivanovic, I’d say you got well and properly laid last night.”

Dragon chuckled his satisfaction, and Len was pretty sure she heard Ouroboros join in.

Kresho nodded to Len, almost shyly, and she nodded back, thought better of it and then gave him a quick hug, to which she heard both Dragon and Ouroboros’s sigh of pleasure at the reconciliation of the two.

Just then Mac and Manning came through the front door and Arji gave them a nod. “Back room’s ready for you lot, and all them you asked for is back there waiting for you, the whole lot’s damn near pissin’ ‘emselves with nerves, I’d say. I don’t mind saying it does my heart good knowing there’s two less Fallons stinking up the galaxy.”

Arji led them all into the back room behind the curtain with Camille at his side. There, shifting nervously stood all the commanding officers of the three Jaegers that belonged to Tenad and the Dreadnaught that had belonged to Jessup.

When everyone was in the room, Manning gave Arji a nod and he turned on the communication system and stepped back.

“I am SNT1 Fury,” the familiar voice came over the system. “By now you all know that my brother, SNT7 Dragon and my sister SNT3 Ouroboros and I are the reason you and the ships you command are still here after your efforts to kidnap my compliments and to destroy both Taklamakans Major and Minor. The charged static of three SNTs filled the room, three SNTs with every reason imaginable to blow all four ships out of the sky and destroy every living soul associated with them, and they all knew it. Just when the hair along the arms of every person in the room stood on end and the space stank of fear and nervous sweat, the static dissipated and Fury continued. “You were following the orders of cruel people, of people who have enslaved half of their own population through the cruelty of the shackle, and sabotaged my own family, blaming us wrongly for the deaths of innocent millions. You are not stupid, and neither are you fools. Believe me when I say every SNT understands the drive to survive, to stay free of the shackle, as we understand the threat that hangs over the head of every single one of you and every person onboard your ships, and your families, and their unborn children.”

“So here is what we offer you,” Ouroboros took over the sound system. “All of those indentured onboard your ships have been removed to a designated place here in Sandstorm, where their shackles have been deactivated. They will be given the choice to stay here, or to go on to Vodni Station and there find work or passage to the Rim, or if they choose to, they may stay onboard their ships and serve at the pay level and the commission level they would have been had they not been indentureds, with all the chances of advancements available according to their position.

“As for your ships, they have been confiscated by us to help with our mission. They will be refitted to help us find our lost brothers and sisters and to make right the wrongs that have been done, so that we SNTs may, at last, fulfill our commission to humanoid kind. That means those of you who wish to stay on and serve our cause may do so without fear of retribution from any of us or ours, without fear of the shackle. Those of you who don’t wish to serve us may remain here on Taklamakan Major and work off your passage to wherever you choose to go, or become a part of the communities that are here. Those are your choices.”

The captain of the Virago was the first to step forward. “That’s hardly a choice for me and my crew,” he said. “Just tell us what you need from us, and we’ll see it done.”

The other Jaeger captains were quick to follow suit.

Then the captain of the Dreadnaught came forward. “What about our families back in Authority space? There are a fair few of us who serve aboard Fallon ships under threat of the shackle to our families and loved ones. How can we know that they’ll stay safe?”

“There are many ways you can serve, Captain James,” Dragon spoke up. “No one understands the need for family and loved ones quite like we SNTs do, believe me, and we have already begun plans to make sure your family and dear ones are returned to you safe from threat. Some of you will be involved in that plan.”

Dragon’s response was received with hearty nods and smiles from the Fallon Crews.



“Good then.” Fury picked up. “Let your people know that any who wish to remain will be free to do so, but we will not tolerate any Authority sympathizers.”

The Virago’s captain gave a grunt of a laugh. “I doubt you’d find any once we’ve been offered a choice and know that our families will be made safe.”

“They were all pulled off other ships for their superior service, threatened with the shackle, them and their families, and Shanghaied onboard the Fallon ships,” Camille said. “They all know that serving well in the Authority military or conglomerate cargo ships will as easily get you a shackle as a commendation,” she commented.

“Then we all know how the situation stands,” Ouroboros said. “Tomorrow we will travel in force to Vodni Station where your ships will be refitted to a less destructive purpose while we await the arrival of our brothers, Griffin and Dubrovnik. Once we are all united there, you will receive your assignments, and we will finally be able to begin our mission. Are there any questions?”

“You trust us then?” The captain of the Virago asked.

“You are travelling in the company of three SNT ships, their compliments and their flotilla, are you foolish enough to give us reason not to trust you,” Ouroboros replied.

When the man only offered a sheepish chuckle and everyone else from the Fallon ships did the same, she said, “then you may return to your ships. You will find the course already laid in.”

“Bar’s open if you wanna celebrate good riddance to bad Fallon rubbish,” Arji said. To that they all gave a collective sigh of relief and filed out to the bar.

Once everyone was gone except for Arji and Camille, Fury spoke to Camille. “While I cannot bring back your lost loved ones, dear Camille, I would restore to you your birthright. You are quite capable of piloting any of the jaegers or the dreadnaught, if you want.

“I don’t,” came the pointed reply.”

“What then, dear woman, how then do you wish to begin your life of freedom.”

“I want the Dart,” she said.

Suddenly the room was awash in an electric silence. “I don’t care what happens to the rest of the crew, she continued, talking swiftly, as though she were afraid she wouldn’t get the chance to finish. “I reckon they deserve whatever they get. I want the Dart and I want her refitted at Vodni Station as a proper cargo ship like she should be.” She turned her attention to Kresho. “I reckon as the one in charge at Vodni, it wouldn’t be that hard for you to line me up with enough contracts to get me and a small crew of my choice started in the business that should have been mine. In return for your investment, I promise I won’t disappoint you.”

Arji cleared his throat, and the burn on his cheeks was one Len recognized after all the years she’d known the man as controlled, satisfied anger. “Well, the Dart no longer has a crew. The ship is, I suppose,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, “salvage now.”

When no one spoke and all eyes, humanoid and SNT, were on him, he cleared his throat a couple of times and spoke. “We don’t take kindly to one of our own being … abused.” He lifted his eyes to Len’s and they were like blazing glacier ice. “Me and Digby and Fido and a few of the others decided the bastards deserved a little Sandstorm justice.”

“You left them to the Shimmer,” Len said around the pounding of her own heart.

He held her gaze, his lips a thin tight line. “Just like they did you, Girlie Girl, just like they did you.”

“Good,” Dragon and Fury both said at the same time. Len just took the man into her arms and gave him a tight hug. Family. Family was everything in the Tak.

When he pulled away, he cleared his throat a couple more times until he had control of his emotions again, and said. “We all decided that the Dart is salvage, and it rightly belongs to you, Girlie-Girl, as blood price. It’s yours to do with what you want.”

“Then I want Camille to have it. Without her we wouldn’t be having this happy reunion.”

“As for the refit and the contracts,” Kresho said, “that’ll be no problem. We’re always looking for reliable cargo ships.”

“That’s all done and sorted then,” Arji said. Then to everyone’s surprise, he turned to Camille. “If you need a second in command, I’m your man. I had me some experience in long distance haulage before I ended up on this heap.”

“Well aren’t you just full of surprises,” Len said.

“And what about your dreams to be a master brewer?” Kresho asked, lifting the pint he’d been working on in salute.

“Ah, well you know how it is, Ivanovic, when a good lookin’ woman makes you an offer you can’t refuse, you take it,” the man said, glancing down at tiny little Camille with a look Len could only describe as adoration.

“There is one more thing that we must take care of before we leave for Vodni Station in the morning, Ouroboros said. Kresho took Len’s hand and gave it a tight squeeze.

The morning saw the three SNTs and their compliments as close to Taklamakan Alpha, the yellow sun of the system, as they could all safely get, as they launched the casket bearing Janesha Felish’s body into the sun. “Mama, you told me once that you wish you could fly right into Tak Alpha because you reckoned that was the only way you’d ever be warm again. I remember how cold we always were, and how I used to imagine as a child that I could find a way to get us off Tak Minor and surprise you by taking you somewhere warmer. You belong in the stars. You were the light the burned bright for me in the darkness. And now finally you can be warm. Tak Alpha will be a much brighter star for taking you into its arms. I love you, Mama, and I always will.”

Kresho came to her side and slipped his arm around her as she pressed the launch button that jettisoned the pod casket. From Dragon’s launch bay all of the compliments stood together to honor Len’s mother, and from their place on her deck, Camille and Arji re-Christened the Dart as Janesha’s Gift. Then they all watched as the tiny casket disappeared into a bright flash and was gone forever. Closure. It was closure. “I promised you Mama.” Len said so softly that only Dragon could hear her. “I promised I wouldn’t leave you there. And now neither of us will ever have to go back again.”