FURY IS BACK! After a two-week hiatus, the Friday episodes of Piloting Fury are up and operational again. If you remember, in the last episode Gerando and Rab showed up at Pandora Base with bad news all around. This week Mac figures that if family is the problem, it might also just be the answer. 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 52: Family the problem, Family the Solution
I went to the control center to see if there was anything I could do to help. I needed to be busy, and I needed not to think about the fact that I hadn’t felt this much pain since the last time Fallon had hurt me. The communications officer was putting out a subspace on a channel that no one else used but Pandora and the folks helping escaped indentureds make it to Pandora, and now with the Svalbard gone, there was one less. So far, they’d contacted two small freighters only marginally larger that Fury, and a science vessel that was even smaller still.
I was scanning frequencies for any help we might be able to find when Keen came in. “Diana, if you please.” He nodded for me to follow him, and once we were outside the control room and headed down the corridor toward his lab and office, he spoke. “You’re wasting your time. Even if there were enough ships, and there aren’t, none of them are close enough to help us. We’d need an orca class big enough to evacuate the whole base, surely Ina told you that. Our only option is to hope that Gerando Fallon is right about the Apocalypse.”
“I need to do something. Anything.”
He turned on me so fast that I nearly ran into him. “What you need to do is go back to Fury and get about the damn business of bonding.”
“Don’t fucking tell me what I should do,” I exploded. “He kept the truth from me, and what the hell kind of bonding would it be when he makes a unilateral decision against my will. Knowing that … I mean Christu Vaticanus, he has to know what that monster did to me, what his son did to me, and yet there he is convalescing aboard my …”
“Aboard what? Your ship? The one you love?”
“Fuck you!” I turned on my heels and headed back for the control room, but he grabbed me in a powerful grip of an arm made stronger still by doing the work of two and pulled me back.
“Perhaps your father didn’t educate you fully in the roles of a ship and a compliment, so let me enlighten you. When a ship makes a unilateral decision, the compliment stands by him because there are some things a ship understands better than a humanoid does.” He nodded back to the control room. “That message. That message is the only contact Fury’s had with an SNT since the destruction of the Merlin. Do you have any idea what that means to him? Fury would die a thousand deaths for you, Diana, but that Gerando Fallon has some connection with Apocalypse and that the SNT, this civilized part of the Apocalypse has found something in a monster like Fallon’s spawn worth trusting, can’t you see why Fury did what he did, why he had to do what he did? You above all people should understand his loneliness. And that an SNT has been forced into the service of Fallon makes it all the more important for Fury to learn what he can so that he can free Apocalypse – not just because he wants to know his brother, but because another SNT, especially one living as an orca class ship, would give Pandora Base a fighting chance. If we can just –”
“Wait a minute,” I said. And it hit me like a smack in the face. “Why Gerando Fallon? Why did Apocalypse trust Gerando Fallon of all people?”
“I don’t know, but clearly the kid has turned against his father and with damn good reason, I’d say.”
“I know that. There never was much love between the two to begin with, but it’s not just the matter of trust, it’s a matter of how the hell did he connect with Gerando in the first place if Apocalypse is only partially SNT and he’s controlled by Fallon, how could he connect unless …”
“Unless there’s a blood bond.” Keen said, scratching his chin.
“But I thought you were the donor for Fury?” I said, suddenly feeling as though the floor were tilting beneath me.
“No. I never donated. I figured it would make me connected in ways that wouldn’t be helpful, and it might bias me in my work, work that I couldn’t afford to be biased in. I thought of all of the SNTs as my children, and I loved them all equally, or I tried to. But Fury had my heart anyway, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t my child physically.
“Manning had always referred to me as Fury’s father, and in a way I am, as I am to all of the SNTS. But mine was not the sperm that gave Fury life.”
I felt as my heart would explode from my chest. “It’s Fallon then, isn’t it? Fallon was the donor. And Apocalypse is also from his sperm.”
“It’s more likely that Apocalypse is cloned from Fury. It’s not impossible that Fallon could have bribed someone for a sample of Fury’s genetic material before Fury was born. It’s always easy enough to trump up charges and threaten someone or someone’s family with indenture. That would explain why Gerando could communicate with the Apocalypse. Technically, they’re brothers, just like Gerando and Fury are.”
As we moved into Keen’s lab, I dropped into the nearest chair, my mind racing. “And Fury knows this.”
“Of course Fury knows this, though he didn’t before Gerando and the message from Apocalypse. It wasn’t difficult to figure out.”
“And yet I missed it. I fucking missed it,” I said, scrubbing a hand over my face.
“Of course you missed it. You were face to face with a man who had tortured you and made your life a living hell. That’s the reason SNTs can override their compliments when the situation demands it.” He laid his hand on my shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “But most of the time, most of the time, the compliment has the last word because it’s the humanity of the SNTs that makes them so powerful, and that humanity can only be fully accessed through the compliment.” He heaved a sigh. “I guess it’s the same as any mated couple. The two are always more themselves, stronger, better when they’re one. It’s not simple mathematics in a humanoid bonding. One and one is always way more than two. But that’s ten times more the case with a SNT bonding.” He chuckled softly and his lips curved into that inward smile I’d seen on people’s faces when they took a little private walk down memory lane. “I used to lay awake at night dreaming about what Fury would be like when he was bonded. I saw astounding results in all of the SNT pairings – every one unique, every one opening up possibilities that I would have never even thought of before the bondings. And Fury, well Fury was so much more than we could have ever imagined just by the nature of his creation. That you were created the same way, that you were so much his compliment that it was like you were already one even before he left space dock. I’ve ached for him and his emptiness so often. I tried to get him to bond with Ina, because the pairing would have worked, and because I didn’t think you would ever be free, I didn’t think you would even live to meet Fury.” He settled into a chair next to me, and held my gaze. “You see, Fury and Manning didn’t let me in on their little plan to rescue you from the Dubrovnik – not that I had contact with them all that often. They also didn’t tell me that they’d been keeping a close watch on you for a long time before that.”
I shook my head, fighting back emotions that if I lived, if any of us lived, I would one day have to deal with. “I wondered why I always felt close to Manning when we’d meet in ports, and we both laughed at the coincidence, which was no coincidence at all. And the first time I boarded Fury, it was like coming home.” I swallowed back the tightness in my throat. “He … he fit me, both he and Manning.” I forced a laugh, “I actually remember thinking once that we were like an old mated couple, like I was his wife, intuiting his needs and what he could do for me, and wanting to find ways to thank him, to please him. All right, I know that pilots are a superstitious, sometimes a bit loopy, but with Fury it was different from the beginning, like I’d found the other part of me.”
Keen touched my hand where it rested on the desktop. “Because you had found the other part of you. Listen to me, Diana, the one thing we don’t have is time, and we need a fully bonded SNT if we have any chance of surviving when clearly we can’t evacuate. As much as it will break my heart to do it, if you don’t bond with Fury, I’ll have to force the issue and bond him with Ina.”
The thought made my heart clench so hard, I thought it would stop beating, but before I could speak, Keen continued. “It won’t be right. It’ll break his heart and hers, and certainly Richard’s, and he won’t be nearly as powerful as he would be if he were properly bonded to his intended, the one born to him, but if I have to, if you force me to I will. There’s too much at stake.”
“I was born for him,” I grabbed his hand and squeezed it so hard that knuckles pop. “Keen, don’t you see, I was born for him. If I was created for Fury and Apocalypse is cloned from Fury, then surely Apocalypse will sense me and reach out to me in the same way, maybe even more so than he did with Gerando and Fury, if it’s true what you say and an SNT isn’t complete without his compliment then perhaps I can connect, communicate with him.
Keen’s forehead wrinkled in thought, then he opened a channel. “Well it’s worth a try.”