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Piloting Fury Part 15: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday and that means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello, while I eat my morning porridge. I hope you’re all settling into Autumn with lovely walks in the glorious changing colours and much good reading. Isn’t that just the best part of this changeable season?

I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 15th week. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. In this episode, Captain Harker recalls how Diana McAllister ended up the pilot of the Dubrovnik.

 

 

 

“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.

 

Harker Remembers

He disposed of the trifle and moved to look out the portal into the blackness of space. He’d always found comfort in it. It had always felt like home to him. That humanoids had extended their consciousness out into the far reaches of its inhospitable darkness had always given him hope, made him feel proud. At least until recently. Be safe little girl, he spoke the words in his head, the only place it was safe to speak them. Diana Mac had always seemed like a little girl to him from the instant he first saw her, a young woman in a scrawny, undernourished body, frail enough that he feared a breeze might blow her away. And in spite of her condition, it had been her raw, uncompromising strength of will, courage to endure, that had astounded him. Her dark hair had been shorn so close to her head that, in her malnourished state, she could have passed for a boy. And even after she had put some meat on her bones and her hair had grown thick and glossy, those large blue eyes, her father’s eyes, dominated the landscape of a beautiful face that belied the horrors, the ugliness she had endured. Little girl … even after she had grown strong and healthy in her new life, the name had stuck.

Only he called her little girl. Nicknames were a captain’s privilege. The rest of the crew called her Pilot because they didn’t know what else to call the indentured woman who could pilot anything, find any route, guide them through meteor storms and asteroid fields like they were floating on a sea of glass. They didn’t know what else to call a woman whose father had been either a notorious villain or a tragic hero, and none knew for sure which. They didn’t know what else to call someone with no formal training, with such vibrant talent, who bore the shackle and the scars of the mistreatment of her owner, their employer.

It seemed like an eternity ago now that he had taken the gamble that her piloting skills were what he’d hoped they would be. While Fallon was inspecting the Dubrovnik, Harker had made his wager. He bet that Diana McAllister could find a new route, a faster route from Terra Nova Prime to the Asteroid Provinces of the mining colonies in the time it took Fallon to inspect the rest of the conglomerate freighters and enjoy the party in the captain’s dining room. Though he had stacked the decks slightly in her favor. He had known that her father was searching for just such a route, a route that would revolutionize trade, and in their last communication, he said he thought he’d found it. He was counting on the fact that he had told his daughter. He left her in the chart rooms with free access to the replicator, figuring she could use all the nourishment she could get. If she succeeded, she was to stay onboard the Dubrovnik as its pilot, and she was to systematically revamp the Bright Star trade routes through the Authority systems and beyond into the free trade zones.

He could have cried for joy when she did it, when he won — if not her freedom, at least access to a better life for her. He had plans of giving her the pilot’s quarters, paying her for her efforts, making her as comfortable as he possibly could, in some way compensating for what had been stolen from her. But alas, even onboard the Dubrovnik, she came with strict orders from Fallon concerning treatment and accommodation, and Harker was left with limited abilities to make her life better.

McAllister had made the Dubrovnik the most profitable ship in the Bright Star conglomerate’s fleet, in any fleet. Then she had literally revamped all the Bright Star trade route to faster, more efficient ones, making Fallon and Bright Star still more money. Whatever had caused profitability to become second priority to bringing Diana McAllister back to Terra Nova Prime, Harker didn’t know. He only knew that she wasn’t there yet, and that was cause for hope.

 

Piloting Fury Part 14: Brand New KDG Read

It’s a very wet and windy Friday at Grace Manor, and means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello, with a warm cuppa. I hope all is well with you Lovelies and that much good reading is happing. I plan to enjoy the rainy weather by curling up with a good read for a couple of hours this afternoon.

Whether it’s raining or not where you are, I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 14th week. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. This week Mac’s old captain on the Dubrovnik pays for turning a blind eye to her escape.

 

 

 

Piloting Fury

“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.

 

Replacements: Part 14

Fallon’s face on the com pinning Harker under his icy blue scrutiny did little to aid digestion. The man always commed at mealtime, or worse. No longer having an appetite, Harker pushed the Britannia trifle to one side, squared his shoulders and forced a polite smile.

Fallon nodded to the dessert. “One of my favorites, Britannia trifle. Though it’s been my experience replicators never quite get it right.”

As if Harker would know. He’d never had it any other way, and frankly, it was like most specialty dishes from Old Terra. Who the hell knew what they were supposed to taste like? Anything beyond the basic nutritional needs for survival had been guesswork ever since the Great Exodus. Most of the history of that time had been lost. Little real knowledge existed about anything, let alone what the food tasted like.

“How can I help you?” Harker asked, forcing down the irritation he could do nothing about.

“Let’s not pretend here, Evander. I’m aware that you’ve known almost from the beginning that Leo Rab was my eyes onboard the Dubrovnik. You’re not a stupid man. If you were, you wouldn’t be commanding my flagship.”

The muscles of Harker’s neck felt like someone had just tightened them into a vice. He shifted in his chair and tried to relax. “Is Rab okay?”

“Oh he’s fine, just fine, but I don’t need him onboard the Dubrovnik now that Diana McAllister’s no longer there, do I?”

Harker desperately wanted to ask if McAllister had been found, but to do so would betray what he hoped for her, what the woman truly deserved. So he sat in silence watching Fallon pace. The unrelieved black of his military-cut suit accented his powerful, but slender build. The shape, the style, even the color of it, a constant reminders of the lethal man who wore it. Harker had noticed through the years of having way more contact with the man than he’d have liked, that he was never still. He always had to be in motion. If for whatever reason, he were forced to stand still or sit down, he twitched, he fidgeted, he drummed fingers on desk tops, bounced a knee up and down, tapped a foot on the floor. Harker had had the opportunity to notice way more about Abriad Fallon than he wanted to. But then he had never forgotten that it was always just a single misspoken word, a single false step that separated Fallon’s friends from Fallon’s unlucky indentureds.

And that kept him careful, or at least it had until Diana McAllister came into his life. Bargaining to get her onboard the Dubrovnik as his pilot had been his first reckless act, and Fallon had been onto him almost immediately. Had the man not seen the benefits of such a good pilot on his flagship, had he chosen to keep her close instead, Harker could just as easily have ended up wearing a shackle instead of captaining a conglomerate flagship.

His second reckless act was to turn a blind eye when he first realized that Richard Manning’s interests in McAllister ran deeper than just physical attraction. It had happened while the Dubrovnik, and every other ship with business there, waited out a planet wide lava storm safe in high orbit above Diga Prime. The crew who’d been stranded on shore leave remained in the protected underground warrens that made Diga Prime habitable. He had overheard a throwaway conversation between Manning and the doctor of the Matterhorn about the illegal manipulation of shackles. Until then Harker had thought such a skill was only offered by quacks in back alleys, a scam that gave runaways false hope and, in the end, did nothing but speed along that dreaded one-way trip to a plague planet. He’d thought such a thing was nothing more than a desperate act. And yet he’d understood it. When Diana McAllister came onboard the Dubrovnik, he saw that desperation in her eyes, and he knew the reason for it. But after that conversation he now suspected he was meant to overhear, he began to think that if anyone could help the young woman, Manning could.

His third, and most reckless act of all was to make sure he’d piggybacked Fallon’s message ordering the Dubrovnik to make the unscheduled stop at NH372 to the Fury. Oh the message had been no secret. Fallon owned the Dubrovnik, and if he wanted it to make an unscheduled stop, then he had nothing to hide. Besides the channels were always open among commercial cargo ships where everything was technically above board. Harker had simply tweaked the settings just enough that if Manning were listening, and if Manning’s interests in Diana McAllister were anywhere nearly as keen as he suspected, he’d pick up on it. There was little else he could do.

To believe that there might be a way out for his pilot that would keep Harker above Fallon’s suspicions was a fool’s dream. He had always known that in his heart of hearts, and in that moment when he had known that Fallon was sending his eldest son to retrieve Diana McAllister and return her to Terra Nova Prime, it no longer mattered. He found that he couldn’t sit back and do nothing. And now he would pay for it. He only offered a benign smile and forced himself to continue with his trifle when Fallon had nodded to it graciously.

“Please, eat. It was not my intention to interrupt your meal.” Of course it was. Harker forced the spoonsful of trifle down the tightening constriction of his throat. Catching people at the most inconvenient moment, making sure they were slightly off balance, was one of the more civilized ways Fallon reminded everyone just how much their fate was in his hands.

“I suspect that you had something to do with my dear Diana’s escape, Evander.”

In spite of his efforts, Harker let the spoon clank noisily against the dish and wiped his mouth on the napkin, knowing he could eat no more. Fallon continued. “Oh I’ve suspected that you and half your crew have had a soft spot for her since I let her come onboard. That’s why I had Rab placed with you. I even suspected that if you didn’t help her try to escape, you might turn a blind eye if someone else did.” As he paced, his fingers twitched and his fists clenched and unclenched as though he anticipated tightening them around someone’s throat. “I suppose I can’t hold you at fault for that. The girl is rather endearing, and who knew she was such a good pilot?” His chuckle was more like a warning growl. “Well obviously you did, didn’t you? Captain’s instincts, I suppose. Besides, if memory serves, you did know her father. Like father like daughter, hmmm? That was your gamble, wasn’t it?” He waved a negating hand. “Never mind. It was a good use of my resources, as you told me back then. However,” he looked down at his perfectly manicured nails as though he were inspecting them for flaws, “I’ve invested a considerable amount into Diana McAllister’s maintenance and upkeep.” He leaned forward toward the monitor until Harker could make out the large pores around the sides of his nose. “Your next stop is Cairovia, isn’t it?’

He knew that it was. Harker always sent him the route plans along with cargo manifests and cargo destinations, but he answered as though it were business as usual as though he were not waiting for the axe to drop. “That’s right. Triaxium offload.”

“Good. I think it’s time for some new blood aboard the Dubrovnik. Performance is down and a bit of a change might be exactly what she needs.”

Performance was better than ever, and Fallon knew it well. Harker held his breath as the man grabbed up his device and tapped the keypad. “Oh don’t worry, no one will lose their position and no one will even be demoted. I just think a little shake-up is in order. I’ve chosen, randomly of course.” He motioned down to his device. “Fifteen members of your crew, including Rab, will be transferred to three other ships now docking at Cairovia. And you’ll receive fifteen new crew members of my choosing, those who have a little more loyalty to the conglomerate and the Authority.”

“To keep an eye on me,” Harker said, mentally kicking himself for not holding his tongue.

“Of course not, Evander. We’re old friends here, after all. I just think the Dubrovnik could use some new blood.” He glanced down at his device. “Oh, and one of those who’ll be coming over to your team is Kristov Lebedny. He’ll be joining you as second in command. Take him under your wing and show him the ropes, as a personal favor to me, Evander, and I’m sure the two of you will get on just fine.”

Harker sat stiff backed, unmoving. He had made his choices, and now he would face the consequences. He waited for it.

“I’ve a pretty good idea where Diana McAllister is at the moment, and I expect her to be onboard an Authority ship bound for Terra Nova Prime within the next few galactic days. Once she’s safe back in my care,” he offered a smile that would warm the cockles if Harker didn’t know the darkness it hid, “then the way I see it, no harm done. The new crew will perform their duties to the highest standard, as I’ve always counted on from the crew of the flagship. Then once you’ve trained up Lebedny, well I think it’s time you might want to consider your retirement, old friend. Certainly you’ve earned it.” He glanced down at his watch, clearly a Terran antique. “Goodness me, I’m late for drinks with the prime minister. Don’t worry, Evander, I’ll have our Diana back in my protection in no time.” The screen went dark.

For a long time Harker sat unmoving, watching his trifle melt into unappealing sludge. He knew that the world of conglomerates and politics was as much bluff as anything. He had to hope, he couldn’t bear not to hope that Diana was in good hands and that Richard Manning was half as much of a slippery rogue as was his reputation. That was all he had left to him now, that belief that perhaps Fallon was not as confident in Diana McAllister’s swift return as he pretended to be. Why else would he place his own people onboard the Dubrovnik after the fact? Why else would he leave the open threat hanging over Harker’s head?

 

OUT NOW IN AUDIO—Multi-Orgasmic Vol 3 by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) and Narrated by Frankie Holland (@voiceoffholland) #erotica #audio #audiobooks #audible

 

Blurb:

Love erotic short stories? Then check out this third collection of sexy short fiction from the pen of award-winning erotica author Lucy Felthouse.

Felthouse is back with a third volume of her popular short stories. Heating you up this time are tales of tattooed bad boys, unusual bondage, female domination, women taking matters into their own hands, outdoor encounters with strangers, indoor encounters with husbands, spanking, and even a Valentine’s Day surprise.

Enjoy sixteen titillating tales, over 54,000 words of naughtiness packed into one steamy read.

Please note: The stories in this book have been previously published in anthologies, as standalones, and online, but have been re-edited and updated for this book.

Listen here:

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Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2RmdHdK

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Audible US: https://adbl.co/3kMsVoX

Apple Books UK: https://apple.co/3mRkXgo

Apple Books US: https://apple.co/331Mbcg

 

Excerpt:

Passing Out Passion

As we filed into the mess, I glanced to my left and caught my mother’s eye. We shared a smile. From my other side, my dad grabbed my hand and gave it a quick squeeze before letting go. It had been a tough twelve weeks, but now my younger brother Shane had successfully completed his basic training for the British Army, we were overwhelmed with pride. We’d just watched him and his colleagues at their passing out parade, complete with the pomp and ceremony Brits are famous for, and were heading indoors for some food, drink and celebrations.

I could hardly wait to see Shane and tell him how proud of him I was, but I knew that the recruits had some stuff they had to do before they could head into the mess and be with us. Hopefully they wouldn’t take too long.

Throughout the parade, I’d barely taken my eyes off the spectacle before me. The band and the recruits had mesmerised me with their well rehearsed routines, and when I’d finally spotted Shane, I’d welled up. My little brother. Though, of course, he’s not all that little. He’s four years younger than me, yet when we stand side by side I barely come up to his shoulder.

Now, though, I looked around at the other families and friends who’d also come to celebrate their loved one’s achievement. There were lots of hugging women, and men shaking hands and slapping backs. There were people closer to my age, too, the brothers and sisters of the recruits, and also girlfriends and boyfriends.

“Christina.”

My mother’s voice tugged me out of my thoughts, and I turned to face her with a smile.

“Come on, sweetheart, your father’s gone over there to get us a table.”

I fell into step behind her as she walked towards the table she’d indicated. But the room was filling rapidly, and I quickly lost her in the squeeze of bodies.

I wasn’t concerned. I continued to slip between people with a polite smile and the occasional “excuse me” if they hadn’t seen me. Soon, though, I got to a group of people so tightly packed together and laughing so raucously that I was going to have to resort to shoulder tapping, I just knew it.

After my increasingly loud pleas went unheard, I reached up to tap one of the group on the shoulder. The guy spun round faster than I’d expected, almost knocking me over in the process. He reached out and grabbed my elbow to steady me, then our eyes met and a gasp escaped my mouth before I could stop it. He was obviously just as surprised as I, as his blue eyes widened and his grip on my arm tightened. My resultant frown obviously made him realise what he was doing, as he let go of me and finally opened his mouth.

“Hey!” His previous shock forgotten, his face transformed from surprised to delighted. “What are you doing here?”

 

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight, and The Heiress’s Harem and The Dreadnoughts series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Piloting Fury Part 13: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, and that means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello from Grace Manor. I hope all is well with you Lovelies and that much good reading is happing. We’re just back from a wonderful week holiday in Appleby-in-Westmorland, right on the edge of the Lake District National Park. Did some great walks in gorgeous weather, and I even managed some good writing sessions in a local, very socially distanced and Covid safe coffee shop. What more could a girl ask?

As we enter the 13th week of Piloting Fury, I hope you’re enjoying the read. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. This week Mac’s past comes back to haunt her.

 

 

 

“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.

 

 

Nightmares and Demons: Part 13

Below deck, I lost myself in the work. I wasn’t a natural born medic. I didn’t like being around sick people, but neither did I like suffering, and I’d seen a shitload of it in my life, so I did what I could to make sure everyone was comfortable. I could already see improvements in the patients who had received the vaccine. But I knew for a fact that something this wonderful couldn’t be kept secret, and as soon as the Authorities found out about it, they’d confiscate it, and make it unavailable. Oh they wouldn’t destroy it altogether. The truth was it increased the usefulness of the SNT virus for biochemical warfare. I’d lived close enough to these sick bastards to understand how their minds worked, what they’d want. At the end of the day, we’d have been better off blowing the victims out the airlock. At least then their suffering would be over. Even healed they were still criminals, runaways, just like I was. I bathed the fevered face of the young boy, who was taking longer to recover than the others. I figured that was because he was so malnourished and abused. I could see the burn scars on both his arms and the place where his protruding collarbone had been broken at least twice. “You’ll be okay. I got you,” I whispered. He was less likely to hear the tightness in my voice, if I whispered, less likely to understand that I was only hoping for his recovery rather than expecting it. “I got you now. You rest awhile, and when you wake up, you’ll feel better.”

I need the coordinates to the McAllister Wormhole, Mac.”

Manning joined me, holding out his device.

I took it from him and punched them in without looking at him.

“Can you lay in a course for the Svalbard?” His voice was quiet, tired, I thought.

I nodded.

“Do you need the atlas?”

I shook my head and glanced up at him. “Not for that. I have that memorized from anywhere in space I’ve ever been, and it’s the first route I memorize wherever I am.” I focused my attention on the keypad entering the route. “It’s the only thing in the galaxy I can almost believe is mine.” I handed it back to him, and returned my attention to kid, who was now shivering. There were no more blankets to put over him, and I had nothing warmer than my T-shirt, which was soaked in my own perspiration from the efforts in the hot cargo hold.

“Here. Help me.” I was surprised when Manning laid aside his device and shed his bomber jacket. I eased the boy into a sitting position, and Manning helped him into it telling him that it was a genuine Terran flight jacket — the same story he had told me before I won it off of him, but the boy’s attention was riveted “Brings good luck,” Manning said, as the fever-ravaged kid all but fell asleep in his arms, and we lowered him back onto the stretcher.

“You should get some sleep, Mac. There’s nothing more you can do for him. The medics will stay here through the night.”

“Unless that’s a direct order, I’d like to stay.”

The muscles along his cheekbone jerked and twitched and he gave me a quick nod. “All right. If you’re sure. We leave for Plague One as soon as the Svalbard is away. The medics will stay onboard and care for their charges until then. Afterwards, Ina will stay with us to care for them until we reach Plague One. The sooner we get there, the better.” There was nothing happy-go-lucky about Manning now, and nothing but dread on my part when it came to our next port of call.

Long toward morning the boy died. I didn’t cry. He wasn’t the first indentured barely old enough to be out of diapers I’d seen die, and he wasn’t likely to be the last. His body was wrapped in a shroud from the Svalbard and sent into space with all the proper words, as though that made us all feel any better. None of us believed in an afterlife, and any indentured knew that the void of death was far better than what our lives would likely be.

I stumbled back to my room dry-eyed and stayed in the shower for ages rubbing at the damned shackle until the skin around it was angry red. Manning’s microsurgery was all but invisible beneath the number that was the only identity I had since my father died – at least the only one the Authority recognized. Then the debt of the Merlin and its destruction was saddled on him post mortem and, by proxy, his only living relative. I’d clung viciously to my name and to my memories, I’d worked hard, I’d gambled hard and saved away every credit to buy back my freedom and the chance to clear my father’s name. And now here I was, no closer to that goal than I had been the day they came for me, and me still holding desperately to the belief that my father would be cleared of all crimes, of all debts. I should have run. I should have escaped to some system on the Rim. I could have started a life as a free woman rather than clinging stubbornly to the beliefs that because I was a law-abiding citizen, as my father had been, justice would triumph.

I fell onto the bed too exhausted to mourn another loss that no one cared about. I slept, and for the first night in a long time I dreamed.

I wandered the deserted decks of the Merlin. That was how it always began. Even when the conscious part of me saw it coming, I could never get out of it until I’d seen it through to the bitter end. I was excited to see my father’s ship, a work of art, he’d told me, a pilot’s dream come true, and it really was beautiful, like no other ship ever built.

“She slices through space like a sharp knife through birthday cake.” I heard his voice as though he stood right there next to me, but he didn’t. He never did. I was always alone.

I walked the whole ship, from the bridge to the cargo hold, trying to find him, calling out to him over and over again. But he never answered, and my dread always grew the longer I searched. I ended up on the bridge trying to contact him on the com. It was his ship, after all. He had to be there somewhere. He wouldn’t leave his ship, and he wouldn’t leave his only daughter alone.

And then the screen flashed bright and I was staring into his fever bright eyes.  He sat propped in the engineering room against the door. There were radiation burns along his cheekbones and down his neck. It was then that I heard the first explosion and the ship juddered from a direct hit. “Daddy? Daddy what’s going on? What’s happening?” Another impact and I thought the Merlin would shake apart.

“Diana, I need you to get into one of the escape pods. Now.”

“Daddy, you’re scaring me.”

“Don’t be afraid, angel. Just do as I asked. Everything will be all right.”

And then I was screaming and hammering on the airlock of an escape pod as I watched the Merlin explode into a fireball with my father still inside.

After that I was running, running from Fallon, endlessly running from Fallon until I stumbled and he caught me by the collar. Two of his men held me while he inserted the shackle, chuckling to himself all the while. “You’re not daddy’s little girl anymore, 1215Mac035. You’re just a number, just a tool, and you belong to me.” And then my arm broke out in a rash, and he watched it spread. While he drank New Sicilian wine and fucked some nameless woman, I shivered with fever and screamed at the hallucinations the virus elicited. “This will teach you,” he said, lifting his glass as though he were offering me a toast. “This will remind you what will happen if you ever cross me, if you ever displease me. Then he took up a syringe and inserted it into my shackle. “Only I have the antidote, only I can make you all better, just like that Diana.”

But I didn’t get better, my skin reddened then blackened and pealed away. And he laughed. “Oops. Sorry about that girl. Guess I was a little bit late this time. Bad luck that. Never mind. Next stop Plague One.”

I woke drenched in sweat and gasping for air. I stumbled from the bed and barely made it to the bathroom in time to vomit until my whole body convulsed with dry heaves, until there was nothing left in me at all. And then I did cry, leaning back against the tiles, cradling my arm with the disease-free shackle against my chest, weeping for all I’d lost, weeping for the helplessness that was still the center of my existence, weeping for the death of one little boy whose name I didn’t even know, ashamed and embarrassed that even after all this time I could still let it matter.

It was a long while before I calmed enough to realize that I wasn’t alone. Manning knelt beside me, wiping my face with a cool cloth and offering me a glass.

“Drink this. It’s Fury’s special formula. It’ll balance the electrolytes in your system and help you sleep.” He held my gaze. “Without dreams.” He sat down on the floor next to me and handed me the concoction. I drank it back, not sure I could keep it down. To my surprise it felt good against my battered insides.

“Better?” he asked, still mopping sweat from my neck and forehead.

I nodded.

“I don’t want to go there,” I managed. Then my throat tightened and I was sobbing again like some blubbing baby.

To my surprise, he pulled me onto his lap and rocked me. “I know, and I’m sorry.”

“It’s not like I have a choice,” I hiccupped.

His chuckle was a soft rumble deep in his chest. “Not like either of us does, it would seem.” Then he added, smoothing the hair away from my face. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you still get your twenty percent.”

And in spite of myself I laughed. “I should have held out for twenty-five.”

Hi smile turned wicked. “Hell, another minute or two in the Braid and I’d have happily given you thirty.” Then, with me still in his arms, he stood effortlessly and carried me back to the bed. Strangely enough the sweaty sheets had been replaced and the bed turned down. “Fury’s a bit of a mother hen when it comes to taking care of his crew,” he said as he settled me down and pulled the blanket up over me. “Get some sleep. The Svalbard sets off at 0600, and we’ll be taking the fastest route to Plague One.” He stood and headed for the door. Then he stopped. “Oh and Mac,” he said without turning back. “I’m the captain, not you. In front of our clients, even when they’re friends, like the Svalbard, both our lives may depend on at least the appearance of a strict order of command. Understood?”

“Understood,” I said.

“Good. Now sleep.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 12: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, and that means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello from Grace Manor. I hope all is well with you Lovelies and that much good reading is happing

As we enter the 11th week of Piloting Fury, I hope you’re enjoying the read. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. This week Rab does a little detective work with some unwelcome help.

 

 

 

“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.

 

Detective Work Part 12

Rab wasn’t bad at this investigating shit, if he did say so himself. And even though the work all had to be done on his own time and on the sly, it sure beat the hell out of being indentured — a thing Fallon reminded him of often. He’d managed to play stupid when Harker questioned him concerning his unhappy encounter with Fallon’s brat. After all he’d had the hell kicked out of him. It wasn’t hard to believe that a man might take an ass whupping on a backwater space station and not know who’d done it. The stations and colonies on the edge of the Rim were noted for being rough. That’s why Harker tried to avoid them whenever he could. Being that the Dubrovnik was a big-assed fancy-shmancy conglomerate ship, it seldom put in at the more remote shitholes. The conglomerates always wanted everything to look all squeaky-clean and we-care-about-our- employees like. But Rab knew better. They all knew better.  Hell, Rab wasn’t the first of the Dubrovnik’s crew to get roughed up while on shore leave. He’d been damned lucky, truth be told. Harker lost an ensign just last year and in a place far more respectable than NH372. Young Turk, flirting with a woman. Turned out the bitch in question had a boyfriend, a real jealous boyfriend. Cut the poor kid’s throat from ear to ear. He bled out in nothing flat. So Rab’s story wasn’t much of a stretch. Whether Harker believed him, he couldn’t say. The boss man kept a good poker face. Working for the conglomerate, he couldn’t afford not to.

Over in the corner of the bar on Mining Colony Heceta 9 – the dive didn’t even have a name — Gerando Fallon sat with a woman on his lap all but fucking her right there at the table. Apparently she was on the menu. Rab knew for a fact that daddy had ordered sonny-boy to play nice and not draw attention to himself. But it still made Rab’s skin crawl to think of that turd ball even feeling up a Faribaldina crater slug, let alone a woman.

It wasn’t by chance they’d ended up in the same bar. Sadly, while Rab might have the makings of a good detective, Abriad Fallon had decided that a part of his job should now be babysitting his jizz waste of son. The two were all but joined at the hip until they found Diana McAllister. Hell, he’d thought he’d never have to look at Junior’s ugly face again after what had happened in New Hibernia. But feeling the sting of daddy’s wrath had sent the little cockroach scurrying to find a way to make right his fuck-up, and that led to an even bigger fuck-up. He cornered the poor unsuspecting notary who had notarized the bet between McAllister and some punter named Manning.

Well, the good folks of Rim stations take their gambling seriously, and the bets placed by clientele in any establishment are duly notarized, then kept secret on pain of death. And this notary’s death had, indeed, been painful. Before he died, he’d managed to destroy the DNA codes on his device and everything but the name Manning.

That was when dear ole dad had stepped in. He didn’t want the fucking fruit of his loins killing any more innocent people – mostly because the cover up cost him serious credits, but he also wanted to get to the bottom of what had happened to Diana McAllister. So like it or not, and neither of them liked it one little bit, they were a team, which meant Rab doing all the work and Junior spending his time whoring and drinking.

Rab had done a little detective work from his sick bed on the Dubrovnik and had discovered that there had, indeed, been a Richard Manning in port that night. Manning was the captain of a bucket of bolts called the Fury. Fury was a cargo ship, but you didn’t need much of a brain to know that small cargo ships stayed in business by smuggling, and this Richard Manning had a reputation for being damned good at it. Several people who knew him, or knew of him — as it turned out no one knew him all that well – claimed to have seen him with Diana McAllister at watering holes across the Inner Rim over the course of the last couple of years. Hell Rab had probably seen them together himself, but he didn’t pay much attention to who drank with who, since he knew damn good and well an indentured wasn’t about to jump ship. Or so he’d thought until McAllister had done just that.

Strange now that he’d had time to think about it, low-end cargo ships and smugglers seldom hung out with Orca class conglomerate freighters. They were more likely to hang out in the shitholes at the edge of the Rim where there was business a plenty to be had for their ilk. While Rab knew who Diana McAllister’s father had been and the debt she’d been saddled with, while he knew that a place as corrupt and the Authority had to have enemies, rebel fractions, he seriously couldn’t imagine any of them would have the power to take McAllister right from under Fallon’s nose. Nor could he imagine why they would do it, except maybe to make a statement. Hell, maybe this Manning bloke was working on his own and just wanted some company that looked nice and could pilot a ship. Big risk though. But then again, who wouldn’t want to spend time with Diana McAllister, if they could keep her from winning the clothes off their back.

That’s what landed Leo Rab at a nameless bar on Heceta 9, tossing back a few and blowing off some steam with as many of his crew mates as could get shore leave. The Dubrovnik was at the colony to pick up a large shipment of triaxium ore. And mining colonies, no matter where they were, always attracted the scum of the galaxy. It was perfect for Rab. He’d learned that Manning had made a dodgy purchase of New Hibernian whiskey from a man named Gruber. According to rumors, Gruber was one of the more straight shooting smugglers out there. The man had a partner on Heceta 9, who ran the business planet-side and made sure all the transactions were just enough above board for Gruber to look legit.

“Yeah I know Manning,” Gruber said, sipping on the same beer he’d been nursing since Rab came into the place. He’d approached the man and offered him a fresh pint. Gruber nodded his thanks, and Rab took that as permission to sit. “He captains the Fury,” he said sniffing at the beer like he thought Rab might have pissed in it. But then you couldn’t be too careful in Gruber’s line of work, could you? “Don’t know how the hell he keeps the wreck flying. He must be a damn good engineer as well.”

Rab pulled up the image of McAllister on his device. “Don’t suppose you happened to see this woman onboard the Fury?”

Gruber grabbed up the device and squinted at it. “So what if I have? I don’t want no trouble, and Manning, well Manning’s all right.”

“She’s my sister,” Rab lied. Aside from the fact there was no resemblance whatsoever, he couldn’t think of any other reason why he might be asking after her. “The folks are worried. Old man’s not in the best of health, ya know. I just want to know my sister’s all right.”

The bloke shrugged and handed back Rab’s device. “Got a sister of my own, and yours could do worse than running off with the likes of Manning. Sorry about your old man, though.”

Talk about dumb fucking luck. Who knew the sod had a soft spot for his sister.

Gruber finished off the dregs of his beer and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “Didn’t get a good look at her. She was on the bridge, but that’s her. Maybe the bastard hired someone on to fly the damn ship while he’s busy fixing it, although,” he squinted harder, “Manning’s quite the ladies’ man. Your sister might have just gotten herself smitten.”

“Smitten. That don’t sound much like my sis, but hell, I suppose anything’s possible. The heart wants what the heart wants.” Strange, as long as he’d worked onboard the Dubrovnik with his only real reason for being there to keep an eye on McAllister and to see what Harker got up to, she really did feel sort of like a little sister – one he didn’t think he’d want to cross left to his own devices.

“Well, Manning’ll take good care of her if she’s on his ship. You don’t need to worry about that. Man’s got a good heart, even if he is bat shit crazy, but hell this far out, ain’t that many sane folks around is there?”

Wasn’t that the truth, Rab thought. “Don’t suppose you know who Manning’s selling the whiskey to?”

“Probably heading for Outer Kingston. That’s where I’d be heading if I had a load of New Hibernian I wanted to shed for a good profit. Woulda done just that ‘cept I had another contract pending.”

Rab’s heart sank. He was tied to the Dubrovnik as surely as if he was an indentured, and the Dubrovnik never ventured out that far. He hated like hell to think of Gerando Fallon getting his hands on McAllister before he did. He supposed the end result would be the same. Poor woman would be returned to Daddy Fallon, and Manning, if he survived, would be indentured and sent of to some penal colony for the rest of his life, which wouldn’t be long. Rab didn’t like to think about that. He didn’t like to dwell on the end result of all his detective work.

He tossed back his whiskey and ordered another one. “Don’t suppose you know who he might be selling to?”

“He didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask. None of my goddamned business once the stuff’s out of my hands and I got credits in my account.”

With no joy there, Rab tried a different approach. Another hour of asking around if anyone knew where he could unload a hefty shipment of New Hibernian on the QT, and he came up with a name he figured just might be their man, some Polyphemian named Banshee Blake. About as slimy as you could get, the scuttlebutt had it. But he paid well for New Hibernian. You just had to make sure the bastard didn’t take the goods and run. Polyphemians were notorious for that. Just one rung above thieving pirates, the whole damned lot. They’d sell their own mothers to the highest bidders. Blake was exactly the kind of scum they might be able to work with. But Rab wasn’t about to turn that information over to Junior.

He paid for his drink, and glanced around. Sonny boy was still parked in the corner with his head buried in the woman’s tits and his feet up on the table. He headed out back all nice and quiet like to run his plan by Fallon Senior. The man had the connections he’d need if they were to get to this Banshee Blake in time.

He found a quiet corner and was just about to send the message when a wave of alcohol on the air that made his eyes water told him that he wasn’t alone.

“What are you up to Rab?” Gerando Fallon sauntered up to him straightening his trousers. “You’re not trying to pull one over on me are you? What did you find out from Gruber?”

“What’d you do, kid, pull a fuck’n’run?” Before Junior could respond with more than just a growl, Rab fumbled with his own trousers. “I came out for a piss. Do you mind?”

Damned if the little gob shite didn’t pull out his cock and start pissing right next to him, while Rab had visions of working up a sweat kicking the bastard in the ass. “So, what did Gruber say?” Junior made a show of shaking it and tucking himself back in.

“He knows Manning.”

“Well we already fucking knew that, didn’t we? If that’s all you could squeeze out of him then maybe you better let me have a go.” He cracked his knuckles, and Rab would bet a galactic month’s wages that, if he looked, the motherfucker was getting a hard-on just thinking about beating poor old Gruber.”

“No need for that,” Rab said, tugging up the last reserves of his patience. “He sold Manning whiskey. Said he reckoned he’d sell it somewhere near Outer Kingston. I suppose you coulda have told me that too,” he said, suddenly feeling very tired.

“Coulda. An ass-kissing bastard like you wouldn’t know that, of course because the old man keeps you busy aboard the Dubrovnik.”

While daddy Fallon had ordered Junior not to kill Rab, he had conveniently overlooked the possibility that Rab might just kill the kid. Hell the old man would probably reward him for making the galaxy a more pleasant place.

Before he could get into a heartwarming fantasy of the best ways to take Junior out, the fucker grabbed Rab’s device right out of his hand and opened the message he’d been about to send. Rab braced himself figuring this was the part where the kid lost control and all bets were off.

“When were you gonna tell me this? When the fuck were you going to tell me this?” Spittle gathered in the corner of his mouth like a mad New Hibernian wolf dog and just as he drew back a fist, Rab took advantage of his generous alcohol consumption, ducked the punch, grabbed back his device and sent the message.

“I was going to tell you when I knew a little more about this Banshee Blake, and I thought with your father’s resources, he might be able to help us.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before a subspace came through from daddy.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
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