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Piloting Fury Part 32: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. Last week we had the unpleasant experience of meeting Gerando’s father. This week Fury talks about his beginnings.

 

 

“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 32: SNT1 Fury

We sat on the bridge, Manning and me looking slightly worse for the wear. And Fury, well at the moment, I considered Fury the console I had fondled and caressed and talked to so often while piloting the ship. It was my suggestion that we go to the bridge because I wanted a physical representation of Fury there with us, though I had been reassured that none of the ship was a more accurate representation of Fury than any other.

“Are you the only SNT left?” I asked, still trying to get my head around the fact that just a few days ago I would have pushed the self-destruct button on any SNT ship that crossed my path without thinking twice. But then up until a few days ago, I thought they were all gone and certainly I never imagined I’d make love with one.

“I do not know,” came the reply. “There are confirmations of the deaths and destructions of nine SNTs and their bonded humaniod compliments. Three more are rumored to have been decommissioned and rendered harmless in remote space docks, the locations of which are top secret. As for Quetzalcoatl, Raven and Ouroboros, no one knows what has happened to them.” He added quickly, “If they do still exist, they will not want to be discovered any more than I do at this time.”

I turned my attention to Manning. “Then you’re Fury’s compliment?”

“I am.”

“You don’t look old enough to be bonded to an SNT,” I said.

He sipped his coffee and then stared down into the cup. “There were extenuating circumstances. While Fury was the only SNT born from a fertilized ovum, he was the last of the SNTs to be launched.”

“Being born rather than built as my brothers and sisters were, it took me somewhat longer to mature, you see,” Fury clarified.

“In spite of his late birth, Fury’s the prototype for the other SNTs.” Manning waved a dismissive hand. “It’s complicated. Anyway, bonding with me, well that wasn’t exactly a part of the plan.”

“Oh?” I stroked the console and then pulled my hand away struck by just how used to touching Fury I had become, and how important that touch had been almost from the beginning.

I was surprised when it was Fury who answered. “I suppose you could say that Richard Manning was shanghaied into working with me in much the same way you were.”

“I don’t understand.”

 

 

“It was theorized that I would have a stronger survival instinct, a deeper bond with my humanoid compliment than the other SNTs. My technology is far more sophisticated and was self-aware before my birth. In the early days of experimentation, it was believed that inserting the nanotechnology into an artificially fertilized ovum, just at the point of the sperm joining the egg was the process through which to grow a brain and a central nervous system that not only would become the core of a ship, but that would be, quite literally born to it. Most of those experiments failed very early on. I was the only one suited to the task. When it became evident that it would take far too long to birth a fleet of ships into existence, the cloning process was perfected using material from those Dr. Keen and his people felt most suited to the task. Contrary to what the world was told, no one was surgically implanted at the core of any SNT. The material, other than my own, was cloned. In fact some of my own genetic material was used for my brothers and sisters to enhance them, make them more like I would be when I was finally born. The other ships were up and operational long before my birth, and yet Professor Keen saw me as the next generation of SNTs. His plan was to clone me once I was ready. There are parts of my own circuitry, parts of my own consciousness that I do not have access to, much that I do not understand because I was sent out into the world before I was completed, sent out without my bonded compliment.”

“Jesus! How the hell can that even be?” I asked. “The SNT is as dependent on its bonded compliment as the compliment is on the SNT.”

“In most cases yes, and as I said, I was not complete, but I was highly functional, and able to accomplish the mission necessary. In addition I believe Dr. Keen wished me to survive above all others because I was unique. He … offered me a chance to evolve. It is he who holds the key to a great deal of my past, but then I am not entirely convinced that even he knows the whole story.”

“How did you escape,” I asked.

“I am also unique in that I can change and redesign my circuitry as well as my outer appearance to look, and to work as I, or my bonded needs me to. That means that with Richard Manning’s help, I am able to look the part of a small cargo ship, a barely disguised smugglers craft. While he has eyes in places I do not, I have a very large, very extensive database that is always growing, There are, in fact, parts of my database even I have not yet explored, though I find I am able to access whatever I need when and as I need it. Perhaps this was true for all SNTs had they been allowed to evolve and discover themselves as was originally the plan, but I fear we shall never know. It was, however, that fact that helped Richard Manning and I to escape the destruction of the SNTs. For example, while I was unaware of the McAllister Wormhole until you brought it to my attention, I know of other wormholes, I know of other sling shot maneuvers, I know of other ways to escape to the Outer Rim and to reinvent myself, as you call it. Since much of what is in my database I can find no analogue for in our galaxy, I am led to believe that perhaps at least some of my biological components are not even from this galaxy, or are from a part so remote that it has yet to be discovered and explored.”

I stood and began to pace in the tight space of the bridge. “Did you know my father and the Merlin?”

“Only by reputation,” Fury replied. “Your father was a great man, the head of the SNT Fleet. The Merlin was its flagship. I learned about him in my infancy. I was not yet out of space dock when the Phoenix incident happened. My first and only mission was to reach your father and the Merlin at Cerberus 5, Professor Keen sent me out unbonded. He knew that there was a problem, and he suspected that it was sabotage of the SNTs by some of the conglomerates in the Authority. He also knew that because of my unique bio-technology, I could not be compromised by the virus. This was essential if we were to find out the truth. My mission, my only mission, was to collect top-secret data from your father and the Merlin before they were destroyed. It was a mission I would have been unable to complete, but for two things, your father sent the data I was to gather in your escape pod. What we discovered, what Professor Keen would have shared with you had there been time, is that the Merlin was not compromised by the SNT virus, that the ship was immune. It had somehow gained immunity from you father in their bonding, which is why you have survived the infection.”

“Jesus,” I whispered. “Were you the ship that rescued me?”

“ I am sorry to say, I was not, Diana Mac. To do so would have compromised a mission that I could not compromise. But it was I who sent your coordinates for rescue.” Then he added in a voice laced with sadness, “Had I known, however, what the Authority, what Fallon would do to you, I would have taken you onboard as my own no matter the risk.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 31: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. We left Gerando and Rab in a right proper mess. This week we meet Gerando’s father and it’s not a happy reunion for anyone.

 

 

“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 31: Abriad Fallon

The rest of the tow into the bowels of the Apocalypse was made in silence, and when the hatch opened inside the shuttle bay of the big ship, there were four uniformed berserkers waiting to escort them to the bridge. Rab thought that was definitely fucking overkill, but then maybe daddy was taking Junior’s throw-away statement to heart. Or maybe Junior was dead serious. He reminded himself again that this was the same little prick that killed hookers on a regular basis, killed a respected notary, and damn near killed him. Fucking hell! How did he get mixed up in this mess anyway? Back at the beginning, just being free of the shackle seemed worth any price. Now, he wasn’t so goddamned sure.

The only orca class starship he’d ever been on was the Dubrovnik, and it was an early version, though the Fire Star Conglomerate kept it state of the art due to the fact that the Dubrovnik was by far the most profitable ship of the conglomerate’s freighters. Hell, Rab had been proud to work on the Dubrovnik. But the Apocalypse was a goddamn floating fortress. The Apocalypse was a crazy mix of military and up your ass, hoity-toity luxury, exactly what he’d expect from Fallon. He’d heard that the man was one paranoid fucker, that he never stayed in one place more than one night at a time – easy to do when one of your homes was a goddamn orca class starship. The man was one twisted sonovabitch. Explained a lot where Junior was concerned. But hell, being brought right to the heart of the beast’s lair was damn near enough to make a man shit himself. All Rab had signed on for was observing Diana McAllister and Captain Harker. That was what got his shackle removed, and back then he couldn’t see beyond his freedom. But he was beginning to think he was as much of a prisoner as he was when he had the shackle shoved in his arm. Hell, right now he was pretty sure shit was even worse. No good thinking about it now. The die had been cast, and damned if he knew how he’d get out of this game alive. That stopped being a sure bet when they lost McAllister.

It was only as the lift opened onto the bridge with its huge view screen that Rab realized the Ares wasn’t the only ship held captive by the Apocalypse. The ship being on screen was a raven class freighter, severely damaged. As they approached the console a lone man tall and lean stood looking out. He was dressed in the uniform of an admiral onboard a military ship, though Rab couldn’t recall that Fallon had ever served. He spoke without looking at them.

“You remember the Svalbard, don’t you, Rab? Or perhaps you don’t. The message about the Svalbard was, after all only one of the mindless, meaningless drone of subspace transmissions you sent me from the Dubrovnik over the years.” Before he could respond, the man turned, and Rab found himself face to face with Abriad fucking Fallon, icy eyes gluing him to the goddamn floor, eyebrows raised, clearly expecting an answer.

“I remember it. Yes. It was a distress call. A radiation leak. The Dubrovnik answered, as per ship’s protocol.”

The bastard offered a cold smile that never reached his eyes. “And you thought it strange that members of the Dubrovnik’s crew went onboard a ship with a radiation leak rather than dealing with it remotely.”

“It was strange.” The longer Rab was the center of the man’s attention the more he felt like he was being slowly strangled. “But Harker said there was extenuating circumstances and the ships doctor explained, details that meant nothing to me. I’m sorry.”

 

 

“No need to be,” Fallon raised a hand like he was some goddamn New Vaticana priest passing out absolution or some shit. “You did your job. You sent the transmission, and it has troubled me all these years, Leo Rab. It has troubled me, that strange encounter between the Dubrovnik and the Svalbard. Yes, it has troubled me until this very day. Until now.” With that he turned back to the view screen, and Rab was relieved not to be in the man’s evil eye. But the relief was short lived when the view changed to the bridge of the Svalbard, which looked like a war zone a goddamned war zone. It was deserted except for one battered looking man barely able to sit upright in the captain’s chair. “Captain Bryar,” Fallon said, “you may as well tell me what I want to know about the Fury and its crew, because I will find the answer. That is a promise.”

To Rab’s surprised it was the kid who cursed in a strangled breath. “You bloody fucking bastard.”

How the hell was it even possible for Abriad Fallon to make a smile look fatal? “I believe it is you who are the bastard, Gerando, and of a whore as lacking in brains as she was beauty, though certainly not in willingness to spread her legs.” He turned that awful smile on Rab, like they were talking politely over fucking afternoon tea. “You see all of my children are bastards, Rab. I quite enjoy the uncertainty of that battle over my legacy. And of course the genetic soup can be so very intriguing.” Then he strolled leisurely to stand in front of his son and straightened the lapels of his jacket. Credit to the kid. He didn’t so much as flinch as his father addressed him almost nose to nose. “And if you make another unwarranted comment on my ship, on my bridge, while I am meeting with the good captain Bryar, then I shall have to punish you, boy.”

Rab wasn’t sure he could have spoken if he’d wanted to, and while Gerardo said nothing else, he fidgeted as though he had New Texan fire ants in his pants. Fuck, it was like the kid was asking for trouble!

Fallon sauntered back to the console and offered poor Bryar a beneficent smile. “Forgive the interruption, captain. Children are so disrespectful these days. One has to keep a tight rein on them. Now as I was saying, the way I see it you have nothing to gain by keeping silent and possibly a chance to live if you speak. I know the Fury is an SNT, and I know its destination is Plague 1. All I need to know from you is why on earth would anyone want to go there?”

“I’ll tell you nothing, Fallon. You may destroy the Svalbard and her fine crew. You may go after her allies, but there will be an answering. That I promise you. There will be an answering.”

Vaticana jesu! What the hell was the kid up to? The fucker couldn’t stand still, he was all but convulsing with nerves. The little shit was going to get them both killed, Rab thought, as he struggled to pay attention to what Fallon was saying while trying to calm the kid. He was beginning to wonder if he was about to have some kind of goddamned fit. Wouldn’t that just be the cherry on top? The thought was barely out of Rab’s head when Fallon did something on the console, and the Svalbard exploded, momentarily blinding them all as it flashed then vanished into nothing more than a after image in empty space. There wasn’t even a sign of debris to show that the Svalbard had ever been there.

Gerardo doubled over and puked. His father made a disgusted sound. “If you’ve not the sac for the task at hand, boy, then perhaps I should send you back to Terra Nova Prime to see if the scientists at the Fire Star Institute might clone you some balls.” He turned to Rab. “Get him off my bridge. The berserkers will show you to your quarters. I’ll send for you both in an hour. Get him sorted.” He nodded to Gerando, who now stood wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, eyeing his old man like he wanted to pull the sonovabitch’s liver out and stomp on it.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 30: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. Last week we left Rab and Gerando in detective mode. This week, while their sleuthing pays off, they get a surprise visit from a very unwelcome visitor arrives.  Enjoy.

 

 

“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 30: An Unwelcome Visitor

Rab scratched his chin. “They would have had to jump like fucking jackrabbits to get far enough out of there and leave no trace to be followed.” He rubbed his belly. “Makes me green around the gills to even think about it. Anyway, how the hell do you know so goddamned much about the SNTs?”

If Rab didn’t know better, he could have sworn the kid blushed. “I know everything there is in the Authority data base about the SNTs and a few things that aren’t public knowledge.” He grunted a sour chuckle. “Even my father doesn’t know that I hacked him. I was obsessed with them. They’re the reason I wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to be compliment to an SNT. Woulda got me away from … shit. Then, you know … everything happened like it did.”

Rab looked up from his efforts at checking through the Ares’ computer scanners for something, anything. “Woulda never figured you for the compliment type. In your case, I doubt anyone would have blamed an SNT for offing its compliment.”

The kid gave him the finger with his good hand, then flinched again as the bone-knitting process got down to the more delicate work.

“If we had the exact time McAllister and Manning Mol-tranned out, we might be able to pick up something jumping an instant later.”

Junior made a one-handed effort to pull his device free from his pocket. “This won’t be exact, but pretty damn close. The old man messaged me, shit, it couldn’t have been a minute before I grabbed McAllister. I’d just had time to tell him to fuck off, I was busy. And then …” He fidgeted with his device, “ … he messaged me back. I felt the signal just as Manning appeared and grabbed McAllister away from me. I remember thinking it was something Manning had done to me. You know how it is in that split second when things don’t quite add up. By the time I connected the dots, they were gone” He pulled up the message and gave a bitter laugh as he read out loud.

Busy had better mean finding Diana McAllister.

“The sentimental old fart,” Rab grumbled. The kid handed his his device and Rab entered the time of the message into the search parameters of the Ares. “There it is. Gotta be.”

“Where? I don’t see anything.” Junior craned his neck and the both squinted.

“Right there. See. If you back up the scan, it’s there, it’s there, it’s there and then … it’s gone.”

 

 

 

And sure enough, it was. It was only a blip, a tiny blip that someone with vision not as good as Rab’s would have missed entirely. But it was there up until a split second after the message from daddy Fallon, and then it was gone. Just gone. “Had to have mol-tranned them from high orbit. That’s all I can figure, and the blip is so small, there’s no other explanation. Bloody hell! What else could possibly do that but an SNT?”

Over the next few hours they both buried themselves in research. Rab was surprised that sonny boy really was quit an expert on the SNTs. “We don’t want to approach your old man without enough evidence to keep him from thinking we’re just making excuses,” Rab said, getting what was definitely a crash course, more than he ever wanted to know about sentient ships.

“We give him the right information, he’ll believe it,” the kid said. He was stuffing his face with something he’d replicated that looked like dirty underwear, supposedly a delicacy from somewhere in the outer rim, sitting on the floor with several devices spread around him, all displaying different SNT articles. He added around a mouthful. “The old man kept a close eye on the project. He had spies on the inside. The scientists and technicians involved sure as fuck didn’t trust him. The SNT project was funded by the Free Universities and not one credit came from the conglomerates. No matter how much my father offered in financial backing, they wouldn’t take it. I have no idea where all the money came from. I didn’t think there were any universities left that could finance their own asses without conglomerate backing. But they insisted they didn’t want the conglomerates in control.” He laughed a bitter laugh that sprayed several of the devices with crumbs. “That meant no control for the old man. Well I’m sure you can imagine how much he liked that. But there wasn’t much he could do except stay close and bribe as many people on the inside as he could. He was actually friends with several of the scientists, including Adrian McAllister. They’d gone to school together or some shit.”

“Then you knew Diana Mac before she was your father’s indentured? That must have been awkward.”

“I didn’t actually.”

Could Rab hear sadness in his voice?

“Her father kept her a secret, kept her away from the SNT project as far as I know. No one knew about her until the year before her old man bonded with the Merlin, and all of a sudden he had a daughter who was to be by his side onboard the Merlin. I probably hated her as much for that as anything, even though I didn’t know her.” Junior was no longer looking at the devices in front of him, but staring back in time at memories that Rab would guess weren’t best pleasing. “When she became my father’s indentured, I wanted her to suffer. She’d gotten what I wanted most, the only thing I’d ever wanted in my whole life, and she was nothing more than the bastard daughter of a mad scientist. I was the son of Abriad Fallon. I had whole conglomerates at my disposal, and yet she got what I wanted. I wanted her to suffer. I wanted to be the one to make her suffer.” He closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Turned out I was an amateur compared to the old man. When it came to making someone suffer, he’d been practicing on his kids for years.”

What the hell could Rab say to that? He felt a sudden chill, even though the atmosphere in the Ares was Terran standard for humanoids.

“After the SNTs fell, everyone suspected it was conglomerate sabotage responsible for the infecting of the ships,” the kid said going back to pouring over the devices.

“Is that what you think? Rab asked.

He spoke without looking up from his efforts. “Wouldn’t doubt one bit that my fucking father was at the forefront of their downfall. The old man always has to be in control. When the Free Universities wouldn’t give it over, well, business opportunity missed, plunder and pillage and all that shit. I mean what’s the point in having power if you don’t use it, right? All you gotta do is kill a few million innocent people and point the finger in the right direction and people will start screaming for heads to roll.”

Rab couldn’t argue with that, though he wished ha could. Into their silent introspection an orca class ship burst onto the view screen as if out of nowhere and before they could do more than curse, the Ares was locked in a tractor beam, being draw into the open hold of the flying castle.

“Sonovabitch,”Junior cursed. “That’s the Apocalypse, my father’s bloody ship.”

“What the fuck? Your father flits around the galaxy in an orca class ship?”

“The fucker doesn’t feel safe staying in one place, and with good reason. The Apocalypse is a flying fortress. I’ve never seen it before. He doesn’t invite any of his spawn onboard. Doesn’t trust us not to slit his throat in his sleep, I suppose.”

“Well I sure as hell don’t trust him not to slit mine,” Rab said as the Ares, seeming tiny and insignificant, was swallowed up in the maw of the Apocalypse.

Junior’s laugh was so bitter that it made Rab’s skin crawl. “Oh he’d never do anything to either of us that elementary.

 

 

His kids, most of us anyway, we just want him dead. He, on the other hand, is more about making people suffer than snuffing them.”

The knot in Rab’s stomach had tightened to an icy fist, and he wasn’t sure he wasn’t going to puke. “What the hell is he doing clear out here?”

“Doing the job you two don’t seem to be able to manage,” came the voice of Abriad Fallon over the com, and they both jumped as though they’d been shot. The icy chuckle barely sounded human. “Careful, Gerando. Your sisters and brothers won’t be best pleased with you if you give away their plans for their old man.”

The kid tightened his jaw and the muscles along his sharp cheekbones spasmed, but he made no response. Fallon continued. “Once the Ares is onboard, I will expect the pleasure of your company on the captain’s bridge.”

 

Piloting Fury Part 29: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. While last week, Mac and Manning were celebrating, this week Rab and Gerando are in detective mode. Enjoy.

 

 

“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 29: Not Just Any SNT

Back onboard the Ares, Gerando and Rab were alone. Before this little cluster fuck, the kid had sent his bullyboys off gambling, afraid McAllister would recognize them if they all packed into the Corsair like a goddamned birthday party. Rab sat Junior down and set the auto-doc to work on his hand. There were several broken bones and some damaged ligaments, but nothing the med-bot couldn’t fix in a few hours. The kid had been silent as the grave since he finally calmed down. He looked grey with exhaustion, symptoms Rab had seen in one of the indentureds he’d served with who periodically had strange fits. Once the fits passed, he was exhausted and dead quiet. He had the kid drinking one of the electrolyte formulas from the replicator. It kept him off the booze. Besides Rab reckoned he needed it. He looked like death on a cracker.

“Never seen anything like that mol-tran,” Rab said. While the auto-doc treated Gerando’s hand, he made himself useful by checking the Ares sensor scans for the last few hours while they’d been at the Corsair. “Nothing on long, or short range scanners that I can see,” he said. “It isn’t possible that the Fury could have been in doc. As soon as they ‘tranned, I did a quick sweep. Thanks to the toys your old man gave us, that kind of activity I’d have picked up.” When Gerando gave him a vacant look, he added. “I did that while you were trashing the place.” The kid nodded like that made everything clear, and then Rab could see the wheels turning, as his brain started to wake up and pay attention.

“One minute they were there and the next they were gone,” Gerando said. “Just gone, and I had McAllister right there in my grip. She didn’t call out to anyone, she didn’t use any kind of communicator. She didn’t do anything except head butt the hell out of me. Might need the auto-doc to check for whiplash.” He rubbed his neck with his good hand and for a second seemed lost in concentration. “Manning said something just before they ‘tranned, but it was so soft, I couldn’t hear him. Did you hear him?”

Rab shook his head. For the moment the two sat in silence with Rab flipping mindlessly through the Ares scans, and not a clue what he was looking for. “Hell, any mol-tran I’ve ever seen would have taken out you and me and most of the blokes in the pisser, not to mention a quarter of the bar. But then most of those were off-system, used for industrial and freight transport only. Probably crush humanoid molecules to a pulp.”

“Pretty sophisticated tech.” Junior ran his teeth over his lower lip and craned his neck to see what Rab was seeing, which was a whole lot of nothing. “Did you tell my father our plan?”

“Course I didn’t.” Fucking hell, Rab hated feeling like a misbehaving brat about to get in trouble. He never had that problem on the Dubrovnik. He did his job and minded his own business and everyone else did the same. “We got lucky was all.”

“Some fucking luck,” the kid mumbled.

“That McAllister was there at all, I mean. That was just dumb luck, just a hunch. I’ve seen the woman win at poker. In fact I never seen her lose until she lost to Manning the night she disappeared. The woman could scam the skin off a fire toad. Saving every credit, she was, trying to buy her contract back.”

 

 

Junior grunted. “If she won half of the outer rim, the old man wouldn’t let her go. The way he sees it, she’s the last link to the SNTs. She might know stuff he wants to know, her DNA might contain information he can use, and the way he sees it, she’s too dangerous to be a free woman.” The kid shrugged. “I never saw what the big deal was about her. I mean okay, she looks pretty fine now that her hair’s grown back out. The old man used to make her keep it short, butch-like, and he kept her thin, like she was a boy. Like he went out of his way to make sure no one would look at her.” He shrugged. “I never understood why he did it. He just kept her around to toy with, and she … well she did teach me how to fly. He wouldn’t let me fuck her though.”

Hell, the kid spoke like they were discussing the weather instead of the violation of another person, one barely more than a little girl. It was a slap in the face reminder to Rab that this kid had been raised by a monster, and that monster’s DNA ran through his blood. He shivered.

“My point is, we don’t really need to tell him about anything do we? We were just following a lead that fell through. That’s all.”

They both knew Fallon would figure it out, and he’d cut them no slack, never mind that their plan absolutely would have worked if Manning hadn’t ‘tranned McAllister out, and that still bothered Rab.

Fuck if he wasn’t relieved that McAllister had gotten away again. She was his only job at the moment. She was the key to his staying free and living out the rest of his life fat and happy and dandling grandkids on his knee in his old age. The kid would have raped her — probably worse. Rab knew he would only have control over her treatment as long as he was aboard the Ares, and even then he had to sleep sometime. Then there was Fallon senior’s displeasure at having his prize possession escape from under his nose. He wasn’t entirely sure Daddy would mind if Sonny-boy had a go with his toy before he dropped her back into the lion’s den. And none of that was his concern, he reminded himself. Still it didn’t set well thinking of her abused like that. She was a good pilot, a good person as far as he could tell and here he was hunting her down like some animal on a game reserve. Fuck! He wondered who the monster really was.

“You know, you’re right about that mol-tran,” the kid said, bringing his focus back to the present. “That sort of thing isn’t even possible, and it sure as fuck can’t be done by a cloaked ship. Hell a decent cloaking device is even harder to come by than a mol-tran that can ‘trann humanoids. I’ve been trying to get both for the Ares for years now, and even with my name, and me throwing around credits like it’s Vaticana Christmas. I did finally got my hands on a mol-tran that would do the job and not scramble my brain,” he leaned forward and gave Rab a confidential chuckle. “Jakes and Ribbons, I’m not too sure about though.”

“Not to sure about you either, buck,” Rab said, and the kid only shrugged.

“I’m a Fallon, I reckon the slop in my brain is a pre-existing condition.” He looked down into his empty electrolyte glass. “Mol-tran is one thing, but a cloaking device more than only partially effective, well that just flat out doesn’t exist.”

And then it hit Rab like a ton of triax ore. “It does exist though, or at least it did.”

“Shit!” Fallon made the word long and drawn out, followed by a flinch as the auto-doc engaged the bone-knit. “On the SNTs it did – both mol-tran and a sophisticated cloaking device far better than any technology we have now. They were possible because the ships were biotech. Fuck me! Surely you don’t think the Fury’s an SNT? You said according to Gruber the ship was barely space worthy.

“You ever hear of hiding in plain sight? If the SNTs were capable of cloaking, couldn’t they change their appearance too? Think about it? The Authority Hunters were all over that abandon space station where Blake led them. He had it all set up. There was no escape for them. The bastard’s not about to sacrifice his skin to an Authority shackle, and all the better if a little snitching got him some serious profit on top. Goddman Polyphemians. You can’t trust any of them. But never mind that. We know for a fact that the Fury was there. The hunters caught the transmissions between the two ships just before Blake jumped. Blake saw it, gave coordinates too exact to make up. The Hunters combed that station with every scanner the Authority has. If they can’t find it with all of their tech, it can’t be found. And yet there was nothing. Nada. Their conclusion was that there must have been an escape route Blake didn’t know about. But what if the Fury was there all along, just hiding in plane sight?”

“Shiiit!” Junior said again. The auto-doc gave a warning for him to sit still. “If we’re right, then the Fury is not just an SNT, the Fury is SNT1. Only SNT1 has the capability to change the appearance of its outer structure quick and easy-like. The others could do it, but they had to evolve to it. SNT1was actually born, created from a humanoid embryo. It could manipulate molecules into anything it wanted. Only SNT1 could look like a bucket of bolts and fly like a goddamned angel.”

 

 

Completely Yours by Isabelle Lauren @RomanticIsa #Erotica #EroticRomance #BisexualRomance

Blurb

Caroline is on top of her game. Black Goddess, her company, is opening a store in New York, and a week away from the office is just what Caroline needs. In Toronto, she has to play the role of the prim, successful business woman, romantically linked with her business partner Daniel. But in New York she can be sexually free. It doesn’t hurt that this time, her attractive project manager Alisha is coming with them.

Alisha is attracted to both her bosses, but she is determined not to jeopardise her career.  This determination is shaken when Caroline proposes a no-strings attached sexual relationship for the duration of the business trip. Unable to deny her feelings Alisha embarks upon a scorching sexual journey with Caroline.

Daniel is in love with Caroline. Knowing that their romantic relationship is nothing more than a facade with no chance of ever becoming a reality, Daniel decides to quit his job as Caroline’s business partner in an effort to protect his heart. All he has to do is survive the week in New York. But can he continue to deny his feelings, especially when Caroline needs him?

When the media makes details of Caroline’s sexual excesses public, Caroline, Alisha and Daniel must work together to save the future of Black Goddess—and their hearts.

Buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Completely-Yours-Isabelle-Lauren-ebook/dp/B08L17BMQY/

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/completely-yours-isabelle-lauren/1138272680

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/completely-yours-8

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/completely-yours/id1541531014?

*****

Excerpt

Caroline sighed as the stress of the past weeks drained away. It was always good to come to New York, and even though their time here would be hectic with the new store opening, it would be less stressful than being in Toronto. She’d always loved New York, though she’d never move here—it was her escape from her life back home that made it so alluring. Here she could be herself, without fear of judgment. She was relatively anonymous, which she loved. She hoped that opening up a store here wouldn’t change that.

She closed her eyes and basked in the sun’s heat. It wasn’t the sticky heat of summer yet, thank goodness. There was still a coolness to the breeze, but the sun had gained enough in strength to warm her.

Her shoulders relaxed. She had a busy day ahead. There were meetings to be held and decisions to be made, but for now, she enjoyed her cup of coffee in the sun. The week would be brutal, but in between the busy meetings, she’d scheduled some time for herself. And for Daniel, if she was honest. The man needed a break. It’d been a hard year and she worried about him. He’d been distracted lately, missing appointments and dropping the ball on some important agreements. If she didn’t know better, she’d have said he was in love, but Daniel didn’t do love. He hadn’t been in a relationship in years.

That’s what she loved about him. He’d never judge her lifestyle, because he was the same. Her lovers were always temporary, some even staying as short as a few weeks. It was the perfect setup: she got her satisfaction but didn’t have to worry about commitment. Daniel had never disapproved, nor had he tried to talk her into committing to a relationship. There had been a time—long ago—when she’d wanted a relationship. Settle down with a partner, maybe even have a child down the line…but she’d come to realize that she couldn’t tie herself down to one person. The thought of only having sex with one partner for the rest of her life horrified her, so she’d given up looking for commitment.

Yes, it was good to be back in New York. Even if they’d brought Alisha. Not that she had anything against her—on the contrary—but it usually was only she and Daniel. It wasn’t to be helped, though. With the opening around the corner, it had made sense to take their project manager. Alisha had proven herself competent in the last few weeks. Caroline was happy she’d listened to Daniel and hired her.

She’d initially balked at bringing in a project manager. She could oversee the project perfectly well herself. Or so she’d thought. But while in the past she had been able to micromanage a project, the business had grown so much; she had to rely on others to get the job completed. She wouldn’t lie, it had been hard. Daniel had to keep reminding her to allow Alisha to do her job. And what a brilliant job she had done. Caroline couldn’t have asked for a better project manager. It was as if Alisha read her thoughts. Often Caroline would wish for something, only to find out that Alisha had preempted her request and had taken care of things.

It had been a long time since she’d been able to rely on a person like that. Apart from Daniel, of course. Daniel was her right-hand man and had been with her from the beginning. She didn’t know what she’d do without him. If it hadn’t been for his relentless work ethic and inexhaustible fount of encouragement for her, Black Goddess wouldn’t be where it was now.

Having Alisha here meant a chance to live a bit, have fun, and not worry so much. The past weeks—no, make that months—had been so stressful, she’d hardly had time to take care of herself. In Toronto she had to keep up the appearance of being a wealthy, successful, and—most of all—boring business woman. In New York, she could be the loose woman who’d bring back strangers to the hotel room for sex. She missed that. Not just sex with strangers, but any type of sex. When was the last time she’d been thoroughly satisfied? It’d been months at least. Well, no longer. This week she would live it up.

As busy as she would be, she would go back to Toronto refreshed and energized. Exactly what she needed. And maybe with Alisha here, she could step back a little. It was Alisha’s job to manage the project, so she should let her do just that.

She hoped Alisha wasn’t a prude. That was always the risk of bringing additional people to New York. She wanted to be totally herself, but she was acutely aware of the fact that many people still had problems with casual sex. Or sex in general. There was nothing wrong with liking sex, as long as it was performed safely between consenting adults, but some people didn’t seem to get that.

Alisha seemed different, though. She reminded Caroline very much of herself when she was younger. Not that she was that much older than Alisha—about five years. Alisha possessed that same drive, that hunger to be successful, to do a good job and receive recognition for it. But there was more to her than ambition. She brought to mind a large cat. Beautiful, gracious, but ready to strike at any moment. There was a sexual energy running through her. If she hadn’t been her employee, Caroline would’ve loved to explore that further.

Shaking her head at her thoughts, she finished her coffee and went back into the suite. It was time to do some work.

*****

About the author

Isabelle has been writing ever since she can remember. She’s tried her hand at pretty much any genre, but being an incurable romantic with a filthy mind, she made erotic romance her genre. Her books combine searing sex scenes with deep emotional connections. She loves making her readers hot with her words and is always happy to hear how her books have affected them.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RomanticIsa

Website: https://isabellelauren.com

*****

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