I apologise that Fury is a day late this week. I didn’t plan my time very well and the week ran out before I had Fury ready. But learning how Fury and Manning became a team is worth waiting an extra day for, I promise you. And this week, we learn how Fury found Manning. 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. (Except on the odd occasion when I’m a day late, of course 🙂 )
“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 36: Frankenstein’s Monsters
“May Day! May Day! This it the Pegasus. May Day … need …elp”
The com crackled and failed as the systems overloaded. I had but an instant to react. I locked onto the humanoid and transported him then jumped to a safe distance as the Pegasus lit up space in an explosion far too large for the small ship, but that mattered less than the humanoid I had transported. I had transported him straight to medico. Whatever the cargo had been, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was not completely above board.
The humanoid was in an environment suit, which had, no doubt, saved his life. I was still not well versed in the manipulating of my molecules that I might assume a useful form as a medic. Fortunately the auto surgery could be set to deal with severe radiation poisoning. As the suit was cut away from his body, I had my first contact with a humanoid male. With the tools of the auto surgery, I worked for the next few hours stabilising the man, who suffered severe burns over most of his body. That was easy enough to fix with a small injection of my own biological tissue, though I knew I would have to deal with his body’s rejection, for it was designed to nurture and heal and be compatible with one person only, my compliment. With high doses of anti rejection drugs meant to be used only in case of the need for an organ transplant, I was able to get the man’s mangled flesh to accept the injection. Three times the man went into cardiac arrest and twice he was dead on the table. I injected him again and again with my own organic matter. “If you live,” I spoke out loud after yet another battle to stabilise him, “then you shall be as much Frankenstein’s monster as I. What a pair we shall be.” What I had planned, or rather what I hadn’t really planned at all, but simply did by instinct, had never been done before. I was certain that in the wildest dreams of those who created the SNTs, of those who donated sperm and egg for me and my compliment, no one could have ever imagined that an SNT could survive without a compliment. In fact, it was the plan of the Authorities to eliminate the compliments from their ships, thus rendering the ships helpless thus allowing them to insert a compliment of their choice. They found that it was not possible for them to do so. Destroy one and the other could not be salvaged. Certainly it had never been considered that I might create my own compliment to replace the one I was certain at that point I would never see again.
As I worked to keep this humanoid alive I spoke to him constantly, for it was my voice he needed to bond with above all else if we were to compliment each other. Beyond that bonding effort, it eased my loneliness to do so, as I believe it reassured him that he was not suffering alone. I learned very early that this one could fluently curse in multiple languages, and his repertoire included fecund phrases of which even I with my large database was not familiar. However most of our conversation, by that time was non-verbal, as the injections of my biogenetic materials had connected us.
“Where am I?” he asked, when he was conscious enough to be aware that he was, indeed, alive and no longer onboard the Pegasus.
“You are onboard SNT Fury,” I replied, bracing myself, expecting horror or disgust, perhaps fear. I got none of those.
“Out of the frying pan into the fire, I guess then.” He said with no more emotion that if he had just told me the weather on Vega Prime.
“That is an accurate observation. Though at the moment we are safely cloaked and on our way to the outer rim.”
“And the Pegasus?”
“I’m afraid your ship is no more.” I said.
I believe the man actually chuckled and offered a smile that, in his present condition, was little more than a grimace. “That’s all right. It wasn’t my ship.” With an effort I found monumentally impressive considering he was only just barely alive. He lifted his left arm the small shackle incision on his left forearm that identified him as an indentured. “Did it work?”
He shook the arm at me. “I need to know, did it work. Jesus Christ if it didn’t then Fuck me if I know what will, but you listen to me, SNT Fury whatever the hell you call yourself, if I’m infected, you let me die. You fucking let me die, do you understand? I’m not going to waste away on some goddamned plague planet.” He fell back onto the table exhausted, but not so much so that he didn’t shake his arm at me again.
Mind you I was too astounded by the chain of events I was now piecing together to do anything else but examine his shackle, and since my exile and the deaths of my brothers and sisters was so closely tied to this despicable virus, it was of a great deal of interest. “You destroyed the Pegasus on purpose?” I asked, as I carefully made an incision to open the skin above the shackle.
“To kill the bloody virus, yes! Did it work?”
“The virus is irradiated, so yes it worked. And while you are in the auto-surgeon, I shall remove the empty shackle as well.”
I had not thought of flooding the decks with high levels of radiation. Perhaps that would serve to destroy the virus on those SNTs that still remained. I was not sure that the device Dr. Keen had implanted in each of us as a means of conveying important data between all of us simultaneously still worked, but I sent the message out anyway, with hopes that perhaps at least a few of my family would survive.
As I performed the procedure, my patient lay very still, no doubt an instinctive response for indentureds who could never forget that unauthorised tampering with a shackle resulted in infection and a long and painful death. But this shackle was doubly deactivated for not only had the device been destroyed by the radiation, the man had effectively died twice in the auto surgery. He could not have been brought back had his body now contained my biological material. Once I had removed the device I put it aside. It would be worth studying in the future. It was only as I finished that I realised there were tears in my patient’s eyes. “I’ve worn that damn thing for the past three years,” he said. “You have no idea how glad I am to be rid of the fucker.”
“Perhaps this day I do,” I replied, then I added quickly, “oh not to be shackled, of course, but to be a fugitive, unable to go home.”
For a moment, I had the sense that the humanoid was studying me, though of course he could neither see me nor perceive where I might be. You must remember, however, at that point in my young life I was as unsure of my boundaries as this man must surely have been. At last he spoke. “Yes. I’d imagine so. I’m Manning, by the way, Richard Manning. Very pleased to meet you SNT Fury.” With that he convulsed and went into cardiac arrest.
“No! No don’t. Please. Not yet. Please, Fury.” I woke with Manning thrashing against me, his heart racing and his body sheened in sweat.
“Do not wake him,” Fury reached over me, and I had the sense that he now completely embraced both of us and Manning instantly relaxed back into deep, peaceful sleep. “There are parts our story that are best left for Richard Manning to tell, Diana Mac. He will tell you when he is ready. But sleep again, and I shall tell you my part of our story.” I fell instantly back to sleep and once again I saw the world through Fury’s eyes.