Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Wow! Only four more episodes left in book 2 of the Sentient Ship Series. What a romp it’s been. I hope you’ve had as much fun with it as I have. In this week’s instalment, Len and Dragon meet their growing family. 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!
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 77: Family Reunion
A lot had changed since Mac and Manning had left Dubrovnik still a barely born new SNT ship and Griffin, recovering from his enslavement to Abriad Fallon and newly bonded to Gerando Fallon and Ina Stanislavski. They now stood next to Len and Kresho welcoming their family onboard Vodni Station. There was a contingent on board from each of the ships that had belonged to the Fallons as well as Camille and a good representation of people from Taklamakan Major. But for now, the reunion on the observation deck of Vodni Station was just for SNT family.
“Well look at you, little girl!” Captain Levander Harker lifted Mac off her feet into a bear hug and offered her a hearty laugh. “It would appear that Fury and Manning are taking good care of you.”
“Well, actually, she’s taking care of us,” Manning said, offering Harker a hearty handshake. “And it would appear that Dubrovnik is taking pretty damn good care of you too, and the good Doc.”
Dr. Flissy gave Mac a hug that was nearly as tight as the one Harker had given her, and then she gave Manning a kiss on the cheek.
Mac had to admit they both looked a good ten years younger, and that in spite of the burden placed upon them now that they had literally been bonded to a floating colony of scientists and ex plague victims. “Manning’s right,” she said. “You both look great.”
“Being bonded has been good for us,” Harker said, and the adoring look he gave Dr. Flissy was one Mac had seen in Manning’s eyes often enough to know that the bond that had already existed between them, kept from its natural inclinations by their professional behavior had now blossomed to so much more, thanks to Dubrovnik, or Nik, as they now called him.
“Even Keen looks younger,” Manning said as the man came onboard and gave both him and Mac a hearty hug. “Nik don’t tell me you’re having the professor on the side.”
“I am not, but the professor is having Doctor Atkinson in genetic research, so perhaps that is the reason for his restored youth and vigor.”
Keen blushed heroically and said. “Sometimes, Nik, you don’t have to tell everything you know.”
“Well it is true,” the ship said. “And you do look much improved, even younger, I would say.”
“Everybody looks younger but ole Uncle Rab. Looks like I may have to clean myself up a bit and see if I can’t nab me an SNT sweetie, or maybe a nice doc from down in research. Good to see you, MacAllister.” The man gave her a nod and a smile, no doubt not too sure how she now felt about him since his main task when he came onboard Dubrovnik what seemed like ages ago now, was to keep an eye on Abriad Fallon’s prize indentured and then find and get her back to the bastard when Manning and Fury had whisked her away.
“You still hanging out with that reprobate, Gerando?” Manning said. “Though I suppose Stanislavski has him all lined out now.”
“Are you kidding me? ‘Those two together now I got twice the work keeping them both in line. No rest for the wicked, I guess.”
“Don’t let our Rab fool you,” Griffin said. “They have to keep him from corrupting me.” Then he added quickly, “He knows all the best jokes.”
“Speaking of the kid and his lady. They’re late. Is she feeling all right?” Rab asked.
“Right as rain,” came Griffin’s reply. “But I would not let her come onboard such a large station with so many people without I checked her out first.”
“Mother hen.” Rab grumbled.
Before Mac could ask if Stanislavski had been ill, Keen spoke. “I’m anxious to meet Dragon and Ouroboros after so long. I’m assuming that’s you, Dragon, there with the sleek falcon outline.”
“It is I, professor,” came Dragon’s reply. “It is a pleasure to see you again. And the lovely woman who I am still trying to fatten up after her ordeal is my beautiful Lenore Felish.”
Keen took both Lenore’s hands into his single large, calloused hand. He had lost an arm to the plague, Lenore had been told. He offered her a smile that was nearly blinding. “At last I meet Diana McAllister’s little sister. Of course none of us knew that at the time. Your mother kept your conception a secret. She was a wonderful woman, your mother, and one of the brightest minds I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I’m sorry that we were too far away to make her memorial.”
“Thank you, Professor Keen. She spoke fondly of you.”
“If you and Dragon are all right with it, I would like to run some tests on you, and on Dragon, for that matter, before we depart again.”
“Of course,” both Len and Dragon spoke at the same time.
“I’m still stunned that against all odds, you ended up being exactly where you needed to be, exactly in the right place for Dragon when he needed you. All that has happened to bring us together like this gives me hope. Dragon, I’d like to hear your story as well, that is if you’re okay with it. We all thought you dead with the Merlin and the others who were lost.”
“It does make you wonder,” Kresho said, “if there are maybe other ships that we thought were lost that escaped to fight another day.”
“Vanderbilt” Keen offered his hand and then a quick smile, “I’m sorry, I understand you go by Kresho Ivanovic now, and have done for a long time.”
“There’s a tradition out here, one that I didn’t know of until a free indentured aboard the Fidelio gave his life to save mine. To honor a fallen hero, someone else will take their name upon themselves and carry on living. That name is a constant reminder that you now live not just for yourself, but for them as well. You live the life they sacrificed. His name was Kresho Ivanovic, and when I couldn’t remember who I was, after Ori rescued me, I took Kresho’s name. Strange, that was nearly the only thing I remembered, his face as he pushed me out of the way. Fuckers were using de-mole tech.”
“I’m honored to meet you, then, Kresho Ivanovic.” Keen looked out the observation bay window. “And where is Ouroboros? When do I get to see her again after so long?”
“Me, you won’t recognize, Professor,” came the response. “I have been here all along. I am Vodni Station.”
Rab let out a long low whistle. “Well fuck me with a tri-axe torpedo. Didn’t see that coming.”
Ouroboros chuckled wickedly. “And you, Mr. Rab, perhaps it is time we consider bonding you to an SNT, no doubt it would have to be a saucy one.” The humor in her voice was warm and the little man paled for a moment before he realized she was joking. Then he laughed.
“Well, I reckon if you ever have a ship who has a taste for short, bald blokes, who drinks too much and tells dirty jokes, I might be her man.”
“What, and have our child grow up without an uncle?” Griffin said. “It would be an unthinkable loss.”
“Hold it, hold it, hold it,” Manning managed around several fish gasps. “Our child? What child?”
“Griffin was supposed to wait until we could all share it together,” came the deep clear voice now barely recognizable as belonging to Gerando Fallon. And in truth the broad- shouldered man with closely trimmed dark hair and beard definitely didn’t look like the alcoholic, plague-ravaged man with the haunted eyes and a spirit crushed by his old man.
As different as he looked, Ina Stanislavski was practically glowing.
“Ina Stanislavski is carrying a child.” Fury spoke, his voice full of wonder.
“Well so much for our news,” Stanislavski said with a mock pout, resting a hand on her still flat stomach. “I forgot just how nosey and gossipy SNTs are when you get them together.”
“Can SNT ships do that?” Len said, frantically looking over her shoulder at Dragon. “I mean make a baby?”
“Our situation is unique,” Gerando said. “In many ways I’m more an extension of Griffin than a compliment, you see, Lenore, he’s my brother.”
This time it was Len’s turn to whistle.
“I was dead, for all practical purposes, and the only way Griffin could save me was to build a matrix for my life, making it in essence, an extension of his own.”
“And then they bonded with me.” Stanislavski picked up the story. “I wouldn’t have thought the pregnancy would have been possible. Certainly we hadn’t planned it, but as Fury has confirmed, I am most definitely pregnant and with Gerando and Griffin being a part of the same life force, they’re both father to the child I’m carrying.”
For a long moment, the observation deck was awash in the static of excited SNT energy, and Ouroboros said, her voice filled with awe. “We have never had a baby before. What a treasure this child will be, and what a family we shall give it.” Then everyone was talking at once, hugging and congratulating everyone on the new family member, and Professor Keen was actually in tears.
Manning came up and patted him on the back after congratulation the happy trio. “Does this make you a grand dad?”
Before he could reply, Mac came to his side. “Do you think this child will be like Len and me? Is it even possible that it might grow into another SNT like Fury?”
“At this point we just don’t know,” Gerando said. “One of the reasons we arrived so soon after Nik is that we thought we needed to consult Professor Keen, and possibly now Professor Ivanovic as well?” He said turning his attention to Kresho, who gave several more fish gasps of his own before Ouroboros spoke for him.
“Our facilities on Vodni Station are state of the art, and Kresho has kept up his own research and studies of SNTs. Our plan has always been to avail ourselves to our brothers and sisters as a safe place, as a … well, I guess a home, if you will.”
“I think that is a wonderful idea,” Keen said, swallowing his emotions. “We have been without a home far too long.”