Dragon Ascending Part 8: Brand New KDG Read
Happy Friday everyone! I hope that as you head into the long weekend, you have a good read picked out and a sunny spot to read it in. If it rains, then a nice dry place to enjoy a cuppa and a good read while you watch it rain. Friday means it’s time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week Fury and his crew come to the rescue of a ship only to discover that its crew had been up to something sinister. This week Mac, Manning and Fury interrogate the crew of the rescued ship concerning the fate of the mysterious woman. 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 8: They Reek of Fear and Violence
“They reek of fear and violence,” Fury commented, as Mac and Manning approached the holding cell. They were monitoring their guest’s abusive demands to be released. Their behavior was not that of the innocent. “I have fixed their ship,” Fury added. “Perhaps I will program it to take them on a one way tour of the system’s sun. A warm vacation might be just what they need to relieve the stress under which they’re about find themselves.”
The injections to combat radiation poisoning had been administered by a med-bot, and the three men had been decontaminated before Fury would permit Mac and Manning to enter the cell. “According to the med-bot’s data stream, there were other injuries,” Fury informed them as the lift descended. “The data stream confirms that all three have recently had sex and it was not masturbatory.” Mac shivered and knot tightened in her stomach. Fury was sometimes the king of TMI. He continued with his assessment “One has a broken nose, recently and badly set. The ship’s med-bot is not functioning. One has bites to his tongue and on both lips some self-inflicted, some not, and there are scratches and bite marks on his face, which were of course, not self inflicted. There are also contusions and cuts on the captain’s knuckles conducive to hitting someone, and he has a cracked rib. The woman fought back. However, I cannot say whether she survived for she was not onboard.”
“Fuck,” Manning said. “Whatever happened it wasn’t a friendly party. If she’s dead,” he added.
“Then so are they.” Fury finished for him. Mac didn’t argue. The lift opened, and they stood in front of the pressure door that separated the main cargo hold from what was now being used as the brig. Mac stopped and took a deep breath.
“You sure you want to do this?” Manning placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “You know you don’t have to.” She gave a single nod and just her willing it to do so opened the door.
The men had been sitting on the floor against the wall. They were given no comfort. They all sprang to the feet, and the captain took an aggressive step forward. “Who the hell are you? You have no right to hold us prisoner, bitch.”
“The bitch is the one who saved your worthless carcasses, and she just happens to be an Authority agent, asshole,” Manning said stepping in by her side and shoving the man back with a flat palm hard enough to expel the oxygen from his lungs, “and she doesn’t take kindly to abuse.” That shut them all up, and Mac too for a moment.
“Just go with it,” Fury said inside her head. “Richard Manning can be quite the actor when he chooses, and we both know you can con anyone.”
The three men stood before her, pale and smelling of nerves and guilt. She and Manning both had enhance senses thanks to their bonding with Fury, and at the moment, in the tight quarters, that was not a nice thing. She paced in front of the three letting the depth of the shit they were in sink in a little bit, then she spoke. “Before you bother denying anything, remember, we have ways to get the answers we want, ways none of you is strong enough to withstand.” Vaticana Jesu, she would have rolled her eyes at that corny remark, and Manning would have laughed his ass off, but there was nothing humorous about the situation. And the three men didn’t seem to find it humorous in the least. “You’re ship’s registered in the New Kingston sector. What business do you have in the Taklamakan?”
“Salvage. Why the fuck else would anyone be out here in this shit hole?” The captain replied. He didn’t like being questioned by a woman.
“Delivering or buying?”
“Brought in a load of spent solar cells. We had some bad luck on the way so we set down for repairs.”
“From the looks of it you need a few more repairs,” she observed. “What happened?”
“Apparently we missed a small rupture in the fuel tank,” the man said, then he added with an ingratiating smile. “It’s an old ship.”
“He’s lying,” came Fury’s voice inside her head. “There was no rupture. The ship was targeted from the planetoid. Though he doesn’t know that. It all happened too fast. There is no such capability in the whole system.”
Except for an SNT in hiding, Mac thought. To the captain, she said, “sounds like you should fire your engineer.”
The man growled something under his breath about uppity cunts, then shut up right fast when Manning growled back and cracked his knuckles.
“No offence, but you’re a long way from Authority space out here,” the captain said. “And I’m not so dumb that I don’t know what an Authority Jaeger looks like, and this ain’t it.”
“I’d say you’re pretty dumb, not knowing when to keep your mouth shut,” she said. “You had a passenger. What happened to her?”
The three men went silent. There was a lot of subtle eye-sliding between them. Nothing Fury or any of his crew would miss. “We dropped her off at a big salvage Dump out in the Sea of Death, just like she asked.”
“Hitching a ride, was she?” Mac asked. “I hear the Sea of Death isn’t exactly a vacation paradise. What? You were just planning to leave her there?”
There was some more half whispered curses, and the captain said. “We were in high orbit, lady. She paid us to pick her up again in three galactic days. I don’t know why the fuck she went there.”
“But you weren’t planning to come back for her, were you?” All three men went pale.
“Course we were. We told her all bets were off though if we got in trouble, like with our ship or anything. We told her – ”
“Did she pay you to beat her and violate her as well? Did she pay you to kick her out in the Sea of Death without her pack?” To Mac’s surprise it was Fury who spoke. The tightening in Manning’s shoulders told her he was surprised too, but Mac was sure if Fury hadn’t said something, Manning might have bashed in the man’s face for him.
“Hold on now,” the man raised both hand and backed away, “the bitch was willing enough to party, she was asking for it. Me and the boys, we – ”
Mac cut him off with a backhand that knocked him off his feet, cursing as he went down. He raised his hand to another broken nose to add to the list of crew injuries and a grunted nasal comment about a ball-busting bitch.
“The ball busting bitch has the authority to shackle your sorry ass and send you back to the nearest Triax mine.” The words were out of her mouth before Mac could be appalled, and she felt the shock run through the rest of her crew, but neither Fury nor Manning said anything. Suddenly the room was deathly silent. Feeling slightly queasy even at the thought of shackling anyone, she took a deep breath, forced a lazy smile and said. “They’re always looking for more help in the Triax mines. If we turn the three of you over, well, there’d be a nice bonus for me and my crew.”
“Please, lady,” the engineer spoke up, glancing nervously at his captain on the floor. “We haven’t done anything deserving the shackle. We’ll tell you anything you want to know. Anything.”
“Did you kill her?” Manning asked.
“No! No, we didn’t, we wouldn’t,” he whined. “We put her down exactly where she asked us to. She was roughed up a bit, but,” he tried to chuckle, “some women like it rough.”
“Lie to me, and I will absolutely see that you get the shackle,” Mac growled. “There was way too much blood for her to have only been a little bit roughed up.”
“We left her by the big salvage yard in the Sea of Death, just like she asked, and she walked away under her own power. I swear it. Give me truth drug, hell give us all truth drug, just please don’t shackle us.”