Piloting Fury Part 46: Brand New KDG Read
It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again. In today’s episode Mac learns more from Professor Keen about her two boys. 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.
“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 46: Testosterone and Secrets
Both my boys, I thought. How could anyone consider them to be my boys when they didn’t trust me enough to tell me something as basic as me being born to compliment Fury, something that they both knew was an important part of the past I knew nothing about.
Keen squared his shoulders and blew out a heavy sigh. “Why the dumb oaf would think it would matter to you is beyond me, but he does have more than his fair share of testosterone, I’m afraid. They both do, Diana. You need to remember that. Fury may look like a battered freighter, but his heart, his mind is just as humanoid male and just as driven by his urges and hormones as Richard’s is.”
“You got that right,” I managed around my heart that had lodged itself somewhere in my throat. “And I’ve had so much experience with men and relationships that I should have known this.”
“Of course you haven’t, and that’s why none of you has a clue what to do now that you have found each other. That’s why I’m telling you.”
I downed my tepid cappuccino in a single gulp without tasting it and nodded to him, folding my arms across my chest. “I’m listening.”
“The tether is the tie that binds bonded compliments to their ship. It quite literally is like an umbilical cord that feeds the ship’s life and strength into the compliment’s physical body and the reverse is true as well. The compliment’s physicality and organic nature in return infuses the ship. It’s very much a give and take. Because the ship is sentient and because that sentience is based on humanoid genetics, carbon based organisms, this interchange not only can happen, but it’s essential to the SNT system. It is even more essential to Fury because he was created from a joined sperm and egg, while the other SNT ships were cloned.
“In most bondings, the tether is, for practical purposes, long and loose, meaning that the compliment may be away from his or her ship for an extended period of time, might even survive permanent separation, if necessary, though that theory was, obviously, never tested. When Fury bonded with Richard, he had no way of knowing this. In so many ways, you have to consider that Fury was born before he was ready. He was sent out into the world untested and untrained. He was, as you know, our last hope. That meant that his understanding of what was supposed to happen in a bonding was limited. Since the circumstances were most definitely extenuating, and due to Fury’s lack of understanding of a bonding, the tether created was short, meaning that Manning can only safely be away from Fury for a few days at most. Less if his physical or emotional reserves are taxed, as they were when he rescued you. What he did, the surgery he performed on your shackle to neutralize it was exacting and difficult. Fury had no antidote onboard at the time because their last cargo had been infected indentureds. And even for Fury it takes a while to synthesize it. When Richard found out that Fallon had sent his son to take you back to Terra Nova Prime, there was no time to spare. Richard had to perform the delicate task of neutralizing your shackle, this after a rough ride and a tight turnaround. Mind you, I don’t have to tell you that by this time Fury’s love for you and need of you had become Richard’s as well. He was terrified he’d do something wrong.”
“Fuck!” Suddenly I was shaking all over. “I thought he left me alone in that horrible room to go back to the barmaid. I thought …”
“He left you alone in the Nine Tails’ safe room, Diana. Every bar worth its salt has one — at least on the Rim. It’s a place shielded from all scans and probes and with a force field around it that makes it almost invisible. And when you left the next morning, presuming you were alone. Well you weren’t. You were well guarded until you were safe onboard the Fury. Diana,” he squeezed my hand, “Richard had to return to the Fury or risk death. Under such circumstance all he can do, the only thing that will help is if he literally sleeps and regenerates in Fury. It’s best if he’s home in his own bed inside Fury every night. That way he’s always at full strength. What happened when he was here was a combination of the energy it had taken him to get you safely onboard the Fury and away. His regeneration between your arrival onboard and the disaster with the Svalbard was too little and the situation too stressful. That was why he collapsed here.”
“Jesu,” I whispered. “Why didn’t he tell me? I would have understood. I would have understood better than thinking he’d rather be holed up with Stanislavski than helping me get Fury through the storm.”
“Diana, there’s no place he would have rather been than beside you on Fury’s bridge. But he absolutely couldn’t. Even then it took Ina to make sure he didn’t try to go to you anyway. That would have done no one any good in his condition. Ina knew you couldn’t do what you had to do to get Fury to safety if you had to take care of Manning as well. He knew it too, and he hated it. He sees it as his weakness. He didn’t want you to know.”
“Stupid fool! Why would he think I wouldn’t understand? Of course I would have understood. Even Fury wouldn’t tell me what the problem was. What?” I asked when I noticed him studying me as if I was somehow missing the bigger picture.
“Diana, there’s a lot more to it than the need to regenerate inside Fury. You see, Fury literally brought Richard back to life. It’s Fury’s energy, fury’s essence that sustains Richard. The short tether is way more than just an umbilical chord for Richard, it is a lifeline. It is short because his life is literally Fury’s.”
“Wait a minute.” I suddenly felt as though the floor beneath me was tilting. “Are you trying to tell me that Manning is …”
“Dead. Yes. Richard Manning, at least the Richard Manning that Fury rescued all those years ago, died of his extensive injuries. The matrix you see and know and have clearly grown fond of is one created by Fury to contain Richard’s essence.” His face broke into a beatific smile. “I had no idea that Fury was capable of such a thing, and at the time, he didn’t realize what he was doing. What he knew was that this man had gone to extraordinary lengths to free himself from bondage and Fury simply refused to let his efforts be in vane. Oh I promise you, all of what you see and interact with, all of the man who clearly adores you, is as real and as alive and breathing as you and I are, and is as much Richard Manning as the flesh that died all those years ago was – more so in fact because the Richard Manning who now serves as Fury’s compliment has grown and evolved and is a much better human being for his experiences. That he has not told you, I suspect is because he fears your reaction.”
“Goddamn him!” I sniffed back tears. “Goddamn both of them. What the hell do they take me for – an idiot? A monster?”
“Of course you’re not a monster. Diana, listen to me.” Keen reached for me, but I shoved my chair back and stood.
“I’ve gotta go.” I turned and fled with Keen calling after me.