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Piloting Fury Part 36: Brand New KDG Read

I apologise that Fury is a day late this week. I didn’t plan my time very well and the week ran out before I had Fury ready.  But learning how Fury and Manning became a team is worth waiting an extra day for, I promise you. And this week, we learn how Fury found Manning.  If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. (Except on the odd occasion when I’m a day late, of course 🙂 )

 

 

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAllister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 36: Frankenstein’s Monsters

“May Day! May Day! This it the Pegasus. May Day … need …elp”

The com crackled and failed as the systems overloaded. I had but an instant to react. I locked onto the humanoid and transported him then jumped to a safe distance as the Pegasus lit up space in an explosion far too large for the small ship, but that mattered less than the humanoid I had transported. I had transported him straight to medico. Whatever the cargo had been, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was not completely above board.

The humanoid was in an environment suit, which had, no doubt, saved his life. I was still not well versed in the manipulating of my molecules that I might assume a useful form as a medic. Fortunately the auto surgery could be set to deal with severe radiation poisoning. As the suit was cut away from his body, I had my first contact with a humanoid male. With the tools of the auto surgery, I worked for the next few hours stabilising the man, who suffered severe burns over most of his body. That was easy enough to fix with a small injection of my own biological tissue, though I knew I would have to deal with his body’s rejection, for it was designed to nurture and heal and be compatible with one person only, my compliment. With high doses of anti rejection drugs meant to be used only in case of the need for an organ transplant, I was able to get the man’s mangled flesh to accept the injection. Three times the man went into cardiac arrest and twice he was dead on the table. I injected him again and again with my own organic matter. “If you live,” I spoke out loud after yet another battle to stabilise him, “then you shall be as much Frankenstein’s monster as I. What a pair we shall be.” What I had planned, or rather what I hadn’t really planned at all, but simply did by instinct, had never been done before. I was certain that in the wildest dreams of those who created the SNTs, of those who donated sperm and egg for me and my compliment, no one could have ever imagined that an SNT could survive without a compliment. In fact, it was the plan of the Authorities to eliminate the compliments from their ships, thus rendering the ships helpless thus allowing them to insert a compliment of their choice. They found that it was not possible for them to do so. Destroy one and the other could not be salvaged. Certainly it had never been considered that I might create my own compliment to replace the one I was certain at that point I would never see again.

 

 

As I worked to keep this humanoid alive I spoke to him constantly, for it was my voice he needed to bond with above all else if we were to compliment each other. Beyond that bonding effort, it eased my loneliness to do so, as I believe it reassured him that he was not suffering alone. I learned very early that this one could fluently curse in multiple languages, and his repertoire included fecund phrases of which even I with my large database was not familiar. However most of our conversation, by that time was non-verbal, as the injections of my biogenetic materials had connected us.

“Where am I?” he asked, when he was conscious enough to be aware that he was, indeed, alive and no longer onboard the Pegasus.

“You are onboard SNT Fury,” I replied, bracing myself, expecting horror or disgust, perhaps fear. I got none of those.

“Out of the frying pan into the fire, I guess then.” He said with no more emotion that if he had just told me the weather on Vega Prime.

“That is an accurate observation. Though at the moment we are safely cloaked and on our way to the outer rim.”

“And the Pegasus?”

“I’m afraid your ship is no more.” I said.

I believe the man actually chuckled and offered a smile that, in his present condition, was little more than a grimace. “That’s all right. It wasn’t my ship.” With an effort I found monumentally impressive considering he was only just barely alive. He lifted his left arm the small shackle incision on his left forearm that identified him as an indentured. “Did it work?”

He shook the arm at me. “I need to know, did it work. Jesus Christ if it didn’t then Fuck me if I know what will, but you listen to me, SNT Fury whatever the hell you call yourself, if I’m infected, you let me die. You fucking let me die, do you understand? I’m not going to waste away on some goddamned plague planet.” He fell back onto the table exhausted, but not so much so that he didn’t shake his arm at me again.

Mind you I was too astounded by the chain of events I was now piecing together to do anything else but examine his shackle, and since my exile and the deaths of my brothers and sisters was so closely tied to this despicable virus, it was of a great deal of interest. “You destroyed the Pegasus on purpose?” I asked, as I carefully made an incision to open the skin above the shackle.

“To kill the bloody virus, yes! Did it work?”

“The virus is irradiated, so yes it worked. And while you are in the auto-surgeon, I shall remove the empty shackle as well.”

I had not thought of flooding the decks with high levels of radiation. Perhaps that would serve to destroy the virus on those SNTs that still remained. I was not sure that the device Dr. Keen had implanted in each of us as a means of conveying important data between all of us simultaneously still worked, but I sent the message out anyway, with hopes that perhaps at least a few of my family would survive.

As I performed the procedure, my patient lay very still, no doubt an instinctive response for indentureds who could never forget that unauthorised tampering with a shackle resulted in infection and a long and painful death. But this shackle was doubly deactivated for not only had the device been destroyed by the radiation, the man had effectively died twice in the auto surgery. He could not have been brought back had his body now contained my biological material. Once I had removed the device I put it aside. It would be worth studying in the future. It was only as I finished that I realised there were tears in my patient’s eyes. “I’ve worn that damn thing for the past three years,” he said. “You have no idea how glad I am to be rid of the fucker.”

“Perhaps this day I do,” I replied, then I added quickly, “oh not to be shackled, of course, but to be a fugitive, unable to go home.”

For a moment, I had the sense that the humanoid was studying me, though of course he could neither see me nor perceive where I might be. You must remember, however, at that point in my young life I was as unsure of my boundaries as this man must surely have been. At last he spoke. “Yes. I’d imagine so. I’m Manning, by the way, Richard Manning. Very pleased to meet you SNT Fury.” With that he convulsed and went into cardiac arrest.

“No! No don’t. Please. Not yet. Please, Fury.” I woke with Manning thrashing against me, his heart racing and his body sheened in sweat.

“Do not wake him,” Fury reached over me, and I had the sense that he now completely embraced both of us and Manning instantly relaxed back into deep, peaceful sleep. “There are parts our story that are best left for Richard Manning to tell, Diana Mac. He will tell you when he is ready. But sleep again, and I shall tell you my part of our story.” I fell instantly back to sleep and once again I saw the world through Fury’s eyes.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 35: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury.  I hope you are all staying safe, and that means following whatever lockdown rules are in place wherever you are. We’ll get through this together and celebrate on the other side. And one of the best ways to get through lockdown is a good escapist read. 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 Captain Evander and the crew of the Dubrovnik were forced to take extreme measures. This week Fury tells his story.

 

 

“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 35: Alone and Unbonded

 

I came fully aware with the feel of empty cold space against my skin, still tender and untried. My response was more startled interest than any effort to withdraw, and anyway, I could not withdraw, my life and the life of my entire family depended upon my success. There were already too many deaths, deaths for which my brothers and sisters were not responsible, and yet they would be blamed, as would I, even though I had not yet been out of space dock when the sabotage of the SNTs happened. My maiden voyage, was far too early. I was untried, and so much worse than that, I was unbonded. I was alone on a mission that, even if it succeeded, would fail, and then, I would be a fugitive, a fugitive alone. I could not bear the thought. I focused all of myself that I could not download safely away to the journey and to what I must do.

I came out of hyperspace into a firestorm, all sensors on the embattled Merlin. The desperate voice of Adrian McAllister flooded my sub processor. The man was going to die, and so was his ship, and they knew it. I remained cloaked to in order to get as close as I could, and not to draw the attention of the Authority war ships. As far as they were concerned, I was now the enemy. It was then, as my sensors scanned Merlin that I understood Adrian McAllister’s distress.

“Go, Diana!” He shouted. “I can distract them now that the Fury is here, and you can make it, you can make it to the pod.” he shouted.

“I’m not leaving you, Dad, and you can’t make me.”

Adrian knew to lower his shields and he did it instantly. A part of why the Authority saw SNTs as such a threat is because when we were in close proximity, we were all linked, both ships and compliments, and it was in those final few minutes that everything became clear.

“Keen’s been arrested and infected,” The message came in through the sub processor, and we both received it at the same time. In that instant everything changed.

“I downloaded the data instantly and when it became clear you would not be swayed, Diana Mac, I knew what to do. I beamed you to my own escape pod with one last charge from Adrian McAllister. “She’s still a child, Fury. You know what she is, what she’s capable of. Send her back home.”

When you were secure, I made the jump to a safe distance before Adrian McAlister and Merlin allowed themselves to be destroyed by the Authority warships. A tragic and needless loss.

 

 

That was the first time you were here with me, Diana Mac, here inside my skin, safe in the womb of my escape pod. Oh you raged, you cried, you fought, and I watched you with my heart breaking, I watched you, feeling loneliness I had never known before. Feeling helplessness as I never imagined I could feel. It was then that I was discovered. I’d had to drop the cloak for the split second it had taken to transport you to the pod, but it had been enough.

You were so close, and yet I could not touch you, I could not take you into myself and comfort you as I so longed to do. I was compromised. My escape was far from guaranteed, and I wanted nothing so badly as for you to live a happy life. I jettisoned the pod in the scan range of one of the battle cruisers, and when I saw that it was tractored onboard, I made the jump.

I made a series of jumps in rapid succession, each time coming out long enough to scan subspace transmissions for news of the battle with the SNTs, and each time the news was of loss and horror and thousands, even millions of death, and each time the blame was placed squarely at the feet of the SNTs and of Dr. Victor Keen. By the third jump, I knew I could never go home. By the fourth jump, there were reports of Adrian McAllister’s daughter being rescued from the treachery of the Merlin. She alone had survived the destruction.

After that, after I knew that Diana Elizabeth McAllister was safe, I wandered aimlessly toward the outer rim, uncertain why I bothered at all as, with each passing light year the weight of my own emptiness grew as though I myself had been infected by a virus a thousand times more devastating that that infecting my brothers and sisters. Before I had left space dock untested and unaware of the great expanse that lay within the self, I had not known pain, and within such a short time pain was all I knew. The pain of loneliness was the harshest, most devastating pain I could have, at that point in my short life, imagined. But I had not known the true depth of my loneliness until I saw you, until I ached with what I knew would be your loneliness now too. I felt it so deeply that I wondered if it would perhaps be better if I simply allowed myself, unbonded as I was, to be destroyed. Surely anything was better than the emptiness. And now there was no one to give the data to that I had been born early to retrieve. There was no one who wanted to know the truth. The Authority would fabricate lies and atrocities and claim that my brothers and sisters and I were responsible. They would not care if thousands, even millions of innocent lives were lost to convince their humanoid population that we were monsters in need of being destroyed, and I was not only alone and unprepared for life as it now came to me, but I was also a fugitive, a monster in the eyes of the Authority.

It was quite by accident on the jump I made that took me to the edge of the Outer Rim that I came out of hyperspace and nearly collided with a ship not much smaller than I was. The distress beacon was automated and the ship was leaking radiation. The leak was so bad that I saw no need to scan, and then I heard it, the barely audible heartbeat and the scratch of a humanoid voice against a parched throat.

 

Piloting Fury Part 34: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. The first Covid 19 jab happened last Saturday! Bravo! We’re halfway there. That automatically makes me feel better.  I hope you are all staying safe, and that means following whatever lockdown rules are in place wherever you are. We’ll get through this together and celebrate on the other side. 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 Fury, Manning and Fury dreaming together. This week Captain Evander and the crew of the Dubrovnik are forced to take extreme measures.

 

 

“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 34: Extreme Measures

Apocalypse attacking. Fury’s identity and destination known. Pandora’s box opened. Mission compromised.

Evander Harker played the message back once more and then deleted it. For a moment, Dr. Ingrid Flissy and Security chief, Jelik Ivan only stared down at the device as though they feared it might explode. Then Flissy spoke. “Does Lebedny know you know?”

“If he does he’s pretending not to, but this was on my private subspace channel. It was only a general distress call to those who it might affect.”

“Which includes us,” Ivan said, chewing on his lip.

 

 

“Which includes us,” Harker said. “We knew it would happen, we knew it when we signed on. But clearly Lebedny got this message too, just like Rab would have, and that means we’ve been compromised. We’ve got to act fast – especially if the Apocalypse is in on the action. We’re closer to Plague 1 than anyone else, and once the truth is known, all that we’ve worked for will be lost. We’ve got to go, and we can’t go with Fallon’s lackeys onboard.”

“So what do you have in mind?” Flissy said rubbing her hands against her trousered thighs as though she were suddenly cold, or anxious to get started. Knowing her as Harker did, it was the latter.

He leaned over his private console and pulled up the camera from the sub-basement. “Do all the hibernation pods still work?”

“They do. I just tested them last week.”

“How many of them are there?” Ivan asked.

“Enough,” she said, holding the captain’s eye.

The hibernation pods were the last defense in case of a deep space evacuation. Once the regular escape pods were full, or if they were compromised, there was room in them for a third of the crew – individual cryo-beds equipped with powerful homing beacons and a very basic auto navigation system that would always guide the pod toward the main space routes and the most populated areas. A humanoid could survive in a pod for possibly up to a hundred galactic years, maybe more, though the longest ever survivor from a shipwreck was seventy-two years. Harker straightened his jacket and squared his shoulders. “Difficult times call for difficult decisions.”

“Personally,” Flissy said, “I’m for blowing the fuckers out the airlock.”

Ivan grunted, “Your bedside manner’s appalling, Fliss, but I don’t disagree.”

“Everyone of those people live under the threat of the shackle, just like we do,” Evander said. “That’s not their fault. All I want is them safely, and permanently, out of the way until we get the situation sorted.” He studied his two closet allies and friends and blew out a sharp breath. “We all know this shot in the dark at best. At worst it’ll be a shackle for every one of the crew who’ve served this ship so faithfully all these years.”

“And you know every one in that crew would take the risk,” Flissy replied, and Ivan nodded agreement.

“All right then,” Harker said. “this needs to happen fast. If the Apocalypse is heading for Plague 1, we don’t have much time. It’s got to be fast and efficient. Any ideas?”

“A radiation leak,” Flissy said, then she waved her hand dismissively. “Oh not a real one, but that sort of thing can be faked easily enough. Thomson and Freeman in engineering, they can make it completely believable. The subbasement has always been the place the crew gathers if there’s a leak because it’s double shielded. Standard operating procedure is to give everyone a shot for radiation poisoning just in case. I line ‘em up, inject the Dubrovnik crew with a placebo and Fallon’s bitches with a nice strong knock-out drug. Voila,” she snapped her fingers. “They wake up … well who knows where the hell they wake up?”

“Or when,” Ivan added.

The doctor stood and looked down at the subbasement camera and its gruesome compliment of pods. “We can quarantine people in separate groups, you know, so no one will notice when people start dropping like flies. I’ll get Sutter and Leland to help me administer the shots and we’ll let people in one at a time. Safety protocols and all that shit. Everyone knows how anal I am. It won’t surprise anyone that I want people coming through three at a time.”

“It’s a good plan,” Harker said, but our timing will have to be perfect.”

“That’ll never happen,” Ivan spoke up. “It may go like clockwork. I hope to hell it does, but we need to be prepared if we hit a few bumps.”

“What do you suggest,” Harker said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

“We know the loyal core aboard the Dubrovnik. We’ve had each other’s back for a long time now. Give me,” he looked down at his chronograph, “Two hours to spread the word, and pass out weapons. Just in case. We won’t get a second chance.”

“We don’t have two hours unless we multi-task.” Harker said. “While Juarez is not the pilot McAllister was by a long stretch, his lack of experience is exactly what we need. I’ll over-ride the course computer and load in the coordinates for the fastest route to Plague 1 and tell him I’m experimenting with a faster route. If we can pull it all together fast enough, that’s exactly what it’ll look like I’m doing. If not, well then we need to be sure that our own people are armed and ready if they need to be.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 33: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. There’s good news at Grace Manor. Tomorrow morning, Mr. Grace and I will be getting our first Covid vaccination. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you are all staying safe. 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 Fury talked about his beginnings. This week Fury and Manning prepare to share memories important to Diana Mac by dreaming with her.  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 33: Dream With Us

For a long moment the bridge was silent. It was as though the two Manning and Fury gone to conference without me.

“A figure of speech, Diana Mac,” Fury said, “for I have grown terribly fond of you.”

“The feeling’s mutual.” The tightness in my throat that surprised me. There was another moment of somewhat more awkward silence as I struggled to take in all that had just happened and all that I’d been told. Then I realized that Fury’s story was as much mine as it was his and Manning’s. There were things he knew about my father, about the fall of the SNTs, truths he knew that I needed to know, that I’d longed to know my whole life. Knowing that fact made me more emotional than I usually was, but once I felt I was under control enough to speak, I gave the console the equivalent of an affectionate smack on the butt. “So tell me, Fury, what have you been doing with yourself all these years?” The words were barely out of my mouth when my stomach growled.

“Shall we continue the discussion in the galley?” the ship asked. “As is often the case, after sex, there is a need for sustenance.”

Two peanut butter sandwiches and half a gallon of Outer Kingston iced tea and, while the banter was pleasant and relaxed and punctuated with lots of playful touch, Fury and Manning still hadn’t told me what had happened in the fifteen years since the destruction of the Merlin and my father’s death. When the silence once again waxed heavy, it was Manning who spoke. “Are you going to let her see, or will this be story time?”

“Let me see what?”

 

 

Fury moved close, and I felt almost as though he knelt next to me resting a hand on my thigh. “Diana Mac, what you saw when I made love with you, in the act of penetration, was a very brief glance at my inner workings. It was all that I allowed because I did not want to overwhelm you, but if we were bonded, you and I, you would have seen my history as though it were your own.”

“So you can show me then?” I asked, my pulse suddenly hammering in my throat.

“I can give you the memories, yes, but they will not be easy for you to see, they involve your father’s death, the destruction of the Merlin. They involve stress for Richard Manning, which will also be difficult for you to experience now that you have grown fond of him.”

“She’s here with us now,” Manning said, reaching across the table to take my hand, “and we have nothing to do until we rendezvous with the Sumarians.”

“Be that as it may, it is still Diana Mac’s choice to make,” Fury said, and I had the sense he had just moved closer and squeezed my other hand, but that somehow, he was as uncomfortable as I was.

“I want to know,” I swallowed hard, feeling suddenly like there was a desert in my throat. “I need to know.”

“Very well,” Fury said, “then it is time to go to bed.”

Seeing my confusion, Manning helped me to my feet. “While sex is a great way to connect, and a helluva lot more fun than a lot of what you’ll be facing, it’s not the best way for you to see our history. The best way is to sleep with us, dream with us.”

“Us?”

“Richard Manning’s life is as tied to mine, as yours is, Diana Mac, possibly even more so.” Fury chuckled softly. “I told you I was unique. I am the only SNT ship to choose my compliment, and I am most definitely the only SNT to indulge in the act of ménage by taking onboard a second compliment, an act which I believe my first compliment shall not complain about.”

With Manning holding my hand as though he feared I would be unable to find the way, we adjourned to my quarters, where he undressed me wordlessly, lingering only for a gentle caress here and a kiss there. Fury watched. I don’t know how I knew that but I did.

At Fury’s guidance, I settled into bed Curled around Manning’s back and Fury curled around me from behind. I was certain I would never sleep, but I did almost instantly. The last thing I heard was Fury’s whisper. “Do not be afraid, Diana Mac. They are only memories you will now see. The past, we have all left behind, and you are now safe with Richard Manning and me, safe where you belong.”

 

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.”

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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