It’s Fury Friday! We left Mac and Manning and Fury in a right mess. Wherever they are, trouble is bound to find them. Time for another escape to deep space for a rollicking read. Mr. Grace and I just celebrated our anniversary on Tuesday, lockdown style, with a wonderful surprise of wine, chocolate and flowers sent to us by our gorgeous and thoughtful nieces in Kentucky. In the evening we enjoyed a live music stream with friends from all over the world with Gavin Thomas’s Songs from the Summer House. If you love good music, you can join us at the Summer House Tuesday and Saturday nights from wherever you are in the world. 8:00 PM GMT.
Meantime, while I’m still writing and planning away on the expanding Medusa’s Consortium series, I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 22nd week. If you are, 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. Today, Mac, Manning and Fury are caught in a dangerous place. Happy reading, and stay safe out there!
“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” McAlister 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 22 He Won’t Even Know What Hit Him
My gut twisted into a double knot. “Mol-tran him back, now.” Manning was already dematerializing from Blake’s ship before the words were out of my mouth while Blake bellowed a string of curses in several different languages.
“Blake is powering to jump,” Fury said as calmly as though he were telling me the weather.
“Fuck! He’s hanging us out to dry.”
I heard the bastard say something about sending us coordinates to finish the transaction. Manning’s lock I got, but somehow Blake had managed to shield the whiskey. Manning ended up sprawled ass over teacup on the deck cursing profusely, and Blake jumped. We, on the other hand, were well and truly trapped.
“I can’t jump from here, and they’ll have a visual in ten seconds,” I shouted as Manning strapped himself in, but he wasn’t listening to me.
“Fury, cloak,” was all he said just as the three Authority hunters came into view and then cruised right on by us at troll speed. I held my breath, hands pressed flat and sweating on the console, ready to ease out and make the jump, if we all survived that long. I would be plague bate if we were caught, but I’d made the decision ages ago when I first joined the crew of the Dubrovnik, I’d throw myself out the airlock before I’d let Fallon take me again. Nobody had cloak technology, not since the SNTs. It was highly illegal. It would be a plague planet punishment for Manning too if we were caught, or at the very least a shackle and a one-way trip to the triaxium mines. I said nothing. I barely breathed. I’d been so damn careful all these years, so afraid of what my punishment might be, so afraid that Fallon would toy with my shackle just a little too long, and I would end up dying by inches on some plague worlds. No one would ever know what had actually happened on board the Merlin. And my father would never be avenged. For one horrible second, I thought I would vomit on the console, and then I felt Fury rise up around me like a bird of prey on the glove aching to mount the sky and fly. For a moment I felt the embrace, and I looked up to find Manning’s stormy eyes locked on mine. In an instant everything that went before was over and my life was ahead of me. And from a split second I went from being sure I would vomit, feeling horrible gut-wrenching fear of the shackle to feeling free, an experience I’d never expected to have again.
“Can you jump while cloaked?” I asked Fury.
“I can, Diana Mac. Shall I?”
Manning was already entering the coordinates. He nodded he was ready and just as the backend of the last hunter past us, I made the jump with a bellow that would have put Banshee Blake to shame. But we’d barley made it before Manning was entering coordinates again and my stomach slammed against my backbone as we came out. “What the fuck?”
“We’re on the dark side of Outer Kingston,” he said without looking up at me. “If I know Blake, the bastard’ll be patting himself on the back for getting us in trouble with the authorities and getting off with one hundred thousand credits worth of New Hibernian. And doing his best to drink the profits.” He waved a hand in my direction. “Oh he has no intention of sending us rendezvous coordinates. He reckons we’ll be in enough trouble he’ll be safe for at least a year or so, and if he sees me again, all he’ll have to do is claim he had to dump the cargo and share in the bad luck.”
“So you know where he’s going then?”
“I know where the whiskey’s going because I tagged it. I always tag my cargo, and then when the deal goes down according to planned, the tag disintegrates. If the deal gets fucked for whatever reason, I at least have some recourse. There.” He pointed to a red blip on the grid of the space dock of Outer Kingston Prime. “Gotcha, you fucker,” He jabbed a finger at the monitor.
“Now what?” I asked.
“Well,” Manning drug his teeth over his lower lip and rubbed his chin. “We won’t be able to beam out the whiskey. It’ll be well shielded. In fact, it’ll be all but invisible, and if we turn the authorities on him, we’ll never see any of those hundred thousand credits.”
I undid my harness and stood on legs still none too steady from that last quick and dirty jump, then I began to pace. “I don’t suppose you’d know what watering hole he hangs out in?”
“It wouldn’t be that hard to find.” Manning watched me pace. “What do you have in mind?”
“Fury, you’re a fabulous ship, and you make a mean breakfast, but how are you as a seamstress?”
“Is your apparel not satisfactory, Diana Mac?” the ship asked.
Manning broke into a wicked chuckle. “Not for what she has in mind, Fury.”
“I need a sexy dress that might make a lonely smuggler like Banshee Blake want to buy me a drink and maybe pass a little time with a friendly game of poker while he admires my well-displayed cleavage.”
“I see,” Fury said. “How soon do you need it?”
“Just let me make a few inquiries,” Manning said. “I have a lot of friends in Outer Kingston, and since you’ve never been, and that fat bastard doesn’t know you’re working for me, he won’t even know what hit him.”