Piloting Fury Part 29: Brand New KDG Read
Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. While last week, Mac and Manning were celebrating, this week Rab and Gerando are in detective mode. Enjoy.
“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAllister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.
Piloting Fury Part 29: Not Just Any SNT
Back onboard the Ares, Gerando and Rab were alone. Before this little cluster fuck, the kid had sent his bullyboys off gambling, afraid McAllister would recognize them if they all packed into the Corsair like a goddamned birthday party. Rab sat Junior down and set the auto-doc to work on his hand. There were several broken bones and some damaged ligaments, but nothing the med-bot couldn’t fix in a few hours. The kid had been silent as the grave since he finally calmed down. He looked grey with exhaustion, symptoms Rab had seen in one of the indentureds he’d served with who periodically had strange fits. Once the fits passed, he was exhausted and dead quiet. He had the kid drinking one of the electrolyte formulas from the replicator. It kept him off the booze. Besides Rab reckoned he needed it. He looked like death on a cracker.
“Never seen anything like that mol-tran,” Rab said. While the auto-doc treated Gerando’s hand, he made himself useful by checking the Ares sensor scans for the last few hours while they’d been at the Corsair. “Nothing on long, or short range scanners that I can see,” he said. “It isn’t possible that the Fury could have been in doc. As soon as they ‘tranned, I did a quick sweep. Thanks to the toys your old man gave us, that kind of activity I’d have picked up.” When Gerando gave him a vacant look, he added. “I did that while you were trashing the place.” The kid nodded like that made everything clear, and then Rab could see the wheels turning, as his brain started to wake up and pay attention.
“One minute they were there and the next they were gone,” Gerando said. “Just gone, and I had McAllister right there in my grip. She didn’t call out to anyone, she didn’t use any kind of communicator. She didn’t do anything except head butt the hell out of me. Might need the auto-doc to check for whiplash.” He rubbed his neck with his good hand and for a second seemed lost in concentration. “Manning said something just before they ‘tranned, but it was so soft, I couldn’t hear him. Did you hear him?”
Rab shook his head. For the moment the two sat in silence with Rab flipping mindlessly through the Ares scans, and not a clue what he was looking for. “Hell, any mol-tran I’ve ever seen would have taken out you and me and most of the blokes in the pisser, not to mention a quarter of the bar. But then most of those were off-system, used for industrial and freight transport only. Probably crush humanoid molecules to a pulp.”
“Pretty sophisticated tech.” Junior ran his teeth over his lower lip and craned his neck to see what Rab was seeing, which was a whole lot of nothing. “Did you tell my father our plan?”
“Course I didn’t.” Fucking hell, Rab hated feeling like a misbehaving brat about to get in trouble. He never had that problem on the Dubrovnik. He did his job and minded his own business and everyone else did the same. “We got lucky was all.”
“Some fucking luck,” the kid mumbled.
“That McAllister was there at all, I mean. That was just dumb luck, just a hunch. I’ve seen the woman win at poker. In fact I never seen her lose until she lost to Manning the night she disappeared. The woman could scam the skin off a fire toad. Saving every credit, she was, trying to buy her contract back.”
Junior grunted. “If she won half of the outer rim, the old man wouldn’t let her go. The way he sees it, she’s the last link to the SNTs. She might know stuff he wants to know, her DNA might contain information he can use, and the way he sees it, she’s too dangerous to be a free woman.” The kid shrugged. “I never saw what the big deal was about her. I mean okay, she looks pretty fine now that her hair’s grown back out. The old man used to make her keep it short, butch-like, and he kept her thin, like she was a boy. Like he went out of his way to make sure no one would look at her.” He shrugged. “I never understood why he did it. He just kept her around to toy with, and she … well she did teach me how to fly. He wouldn’t let me fuck her though.”
Hell, the kid spoke like they were discussing the weather instead of the violation of another person, one barely more than a little girl. It was a slap in the face reminder to Rab that this kid had been raised by a monster, and that monster’s DNA ran through his blood. He shivered.
“My point is, we don’t really need to tell him about anything do we? We were just following a lead that fell through. That’s all.”
They both knew Fallon would figure it out, and he’d cut them no slack, never mind that their plan absolutely would have worked if Manning hadn’t ‘tranned McAllister out, and that still bothered Rab.
Fuck if he wasn’t relieved that McAllister had gotten away again. She was his only job at the moment. She was the key to his staying free and living out the rest of his life fat and happy and dandling grandkids on his knee in his old age. The kid would have raped her — probably worse. Rab knew he would only have control over her treatment as long as he was aboard the Ares, and even then he had to sleep sometime. Then there was Fallon senior’s displeasure at having his prize possession escape from under his nose. He wasn’t entirely sure Daddy would mind if Sonny-boy had a go with his toy before he dropped her back into the lion’s den. And none of that was his concern, he reminded himself. Still it didn’t set well thinking of her abused like that. She was a good pilot, a good person as far as he could tell and here he was hunting her down like some animal on a game reserve. Fuck! He wondered who the monster really was.
“You know, you’re right about that mol-tran,” the kid said, bringing his focus back to the present. “That sort of thing isn’t even possible, and it sure as fuck can’t be done by a cloaked ship. Hell a decent cloaking device is even harder to come by than a mol-tran that can ‘trann humanoids. I’ve been trying to get both for the Ares for years now, and even with my name, and me throwing around credits like it’s Vaticana Christmas. I did finally got my hands on a mol-tran that would do the job and not scramble my brain,” he leaned forward and gave Rab a confidential chuckle. “Jakes and Ribbons, I’m not too sure about though.”
“Not to sure about you either, buck,” Rab said, and the kid only shrugged.
“I’m a Fallon, I reckon the slop in my brain is a pre-existing condition.” He looked down into his empty electrolyte glass. “Mol-tran is one thing, but a cloaking device more than only partially effective, well that just flat out doesn’t exist.”
And then it hit Rab like a ton of triax ore. “It does exist though, or at least it did.”
“Shit!” Fallon made the word long and drawn out, followed by a flinch as the auto-doc engaged the bone-knit. “On the SNTs it did – both mol-tran and a sophisticated cloaking device far better than any technology we have now. They were possible because the ships were biotech. Fuck me! Surely you don’t think the Fury’s an SNT? You said according to Gruber the ship was barely space worthy.
“You ever hear of hiding in plain sight? If the SNTs were capable of cloaking, couldn’t they change their appearance too? Think about it? The Authority Hunters were all over that abandon space station where Blake led them. He had it all set up. There was no escape for them. The bastard’s not about to sacrifice his skin to an Authority shackle, and all the better if a little snitching got him some serious profit on top. Goddman Polyphemians. You can’t trust any of them. But never mind that. We know for a fact that the Fury was there. The hunters caught the transmissions between the two ships just before Blake jumped. Blake saw it, gave coordinates too exact to make up. The Hunters combed that station with every scanner the Authority has. If they can’t find it with all of their tech, it can’t be found. And yet there was nothing. Nada. Their conclusion was that there must have been an escape route Blake didn’t know about. But what if the Fury was there all along, just hiding in plane sight?”
“Shiiit!” Junior said again. The auto-doc gave a warning for him to sit still. “If we’re right, then the Fury is not just an SNT, the Fury is SNT1. Only SNT1 has the capability to change the appearance of its outer structure quick and easy-like. The others could do it, but they had to evolve to it. SNT1was actually born, created from a humanoid embryo. It could manipulate molecules into anything it wanted. Only SNT1 could look like a bucket of bolts and fly like a goddamned angel.”