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Piloting Fury Part 48: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again.  Mr Grace and I are just back from a wonderful holiday in glorious Cumbria with lots of walking and lots of relaxing in the local pubs, as well as a special treat of a few extra days with friends. Now amid the laundry and the catching up, I want to make sure your next episode of Fury is happily waiting for you right on time … thought this episode is certainly not happy as Captain Harker and the crew of the Dubrovnik make a decision from which there is no turning back. 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. PS: No pics of the stars this time, but a few holiday photos from our wonderful walk to Nine Standards Rigg, a part of the Wainwright Coast to Coast path and the Pennine Way.

 

 

“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 48: No Turning Back

It had been Harker’s experience that when an operation was going too smoothly, it usually meant all he had to do was wait for it, and the shit would hit the fan. This was not the time when he needed the unexpected. This was the time when he needed everything to go exactly as planned. Flissy and her two assistants had been very careful with the vaccinations to make sure Fallon’s spies were equally interspersed with the rest of the crew so not to draw any attention. Six other trusted crew members worked in the sub-basement getting Fallon’s groggy loyalists safely and quietly into the cryo-pods.

The real worry was that Lebedny was not yet among the crew reporting for vaccinations. Twice he’d delayed saying he’d come as soon as he finished what he was doing. When it happened the third time, Harker dispatched a security team to escort him down. That was half an hour ago. He was just about to com up and see what the delay was when the cargo bay door slid open and Lebedny stepped in flanked by two of the other men, both working security, who had come onboard with Fallon’s snitches. He smiled benignly enough, but there was nothing benign about the three of them together. Lebedny was a big man, muscled and fit, and the two who flanked him were bigger still. Harker had done his homework and he knew that Lebdny had come up through the ranks through Authority special forces. His job, before he had come onboard the Dubrovnik, had been organizing security details for Fallon and Fire Star Conglomerate’s more sensitive, more ‘at risk’ cargo.

“They’re the last three,” came Ivan’s voice inside Harker’s ear piece, “and I think the jig is up.”

When Harker motioned him to the bay where Flissy waited, he offered a lazy smile. “There’s no radiation leak, Harker. Did you think I wouldn’t check? I don’t know where you’re holding my people, but I suggest you release them now, and we can forget any of this ever happened.” Then he tapped the button on his chest and opened a ship-wide com. “Attention all personnel, Captain Harker is attempting to hijack an Orca class ship belonging to Star Fire conglomerate. Any members of the Dubrovnik’s crew are who are found to be aiding Harker or his co-conspirators will be punished to the full extent of Authority law.”

Harker had just stepped out of the sub basement after checking the cryo-pods, all but three of those prepped were full. He gave his earpiece two quick taps, the signal between him and Ivan and Flissy as well as several other key players, that there was trouble. Then he spoke quietly to the crew assisting with the pods, who were securing the last three patients. “Finish up and get out of there.” Keeping one eye on Lebedny and his accomplices, he tapped into his com officer. “Hansu, play it.” Immediately the message from the from the Svalbard began to play over the com system. Once it was finished and he was sure the other members of the crew were clear of the pod room in the sub-basement, he began the depressurization sequence. “That was the last message from the Svalbard before Abriad Fallon destroyed her and her crew.” He spoke into the open com. “You know where the escape pods are if you have no stomach for what’s about to happen.” He didn’t say anything else. He didn’t have to. Fallon had underestimated the crew’s loyalty and the discontent at having a third of their compliment replaced with Fallon’s ass-kissers who were far less competent then the members they had replaced and nothing more than glorified snitches. Add to that, like Harker, they were tired of living with the threat of a shackle hanging over their heads and the heads of their families.

Ivan moved to flank Harker, and Ledbedny assessed the situation with an experienced eye. “Jacobs and Schmidt are dead, Harker,” he said, keeping his voice even, trying to make the threat seem less than it was. “You should have known better than to send them against me. They were just freighter security. Their training wasn’t up to the task. It’s a pity really. They were good men. They didn’t have to die. There deaths are on your head. The rest of you,” he raised his voice to be heard above the Svalbard’s last transmission now being played on a loop. “The choice is yours to make. But be warned, it won’t go easy for you if you choose wrongly. The Authority doesn’t look kindly on industrial espionage and hijacking of an orca class ship. The best you can hope for is a shackle for you and your families and a life sentence in the mines.”

He turned his attention back to Harker. “Captain, I’m going to ask you one more time to release my people.”

“I can’t release your people, Ledbedny. They’re in cryo-stasis, and nice and ready for a long trip.” Just then the alarm began to sound for the decompression of the chamber and Ledbedny went wild. He dove for the door and hit the lock mechanism with his fist just before it would secure the sequence, the door slid open with the computer’s voice mindlessly repeating a warning of imminent decompression. His two cohorts each grabbed Harker by a shoulder and Ivan grabbed for Lebedny. His momentum forced them both through the door, which slid shut automatically behind them and the locking sequence commenced again. But when Harker tried to pull away from Lebedny’s men, they held him so that he couldn’t key in the abort. He could only struggle and watch helplessly as Ivan and Lebedny battled inside the decompressing cryo-chamber, all the while the final message from the Svalbard played mindlessly over the intercom. “When that chamber hatch blows, Lebedny goes right out the door with no cryo-tube, now let go of me.” The fact that they didn’t budge made him wonder if they were more afraid of Lebedny than they were of him.

“Don’t worry, boys,” came Flissy’s rough contralto voice from behind. “I’ve still got space for you.”

In unison the two men gave a soft grunt of surprise and stumbled backward into the waiting arms of Flissy and her assist, Keller, and Harker sprung forward to key in the code that would reverse the decompression sequence. But it was too late. All he could do, all any of them could do was watch in horror as the hatch opened, the clamps on the occupied cryo-tubes released and the tubes, along with Lebedny and Ivan, still locked in heated battle were sucked outward into the void.

 

There were no tears shed. No one had time for tears. Ivan’s loss was a heavy blow for the Dubrovnik crew. He’d signed on as an ensign when Harker became captain. They had worked well together, and he would be missed. Only Harker knew that he his family had pooled their last resources to send him away so that he would escape the shackle of his family’s debt. They had risked further debt to buy him a new identity and a new life. Harker had kept his secret, and he had been loyal to the end. Ivan’s death was a sacrifice that Harker knew he saw as his duty, and yet that made the loss no less bitter. Ivan and Flissy were two of the few people onboard that Harker had come to consider friends and equals – them and Diana McAllister, for whom he’d had to keep his respect and admiration hidden.

The crew was all gathered on the observation deck, at his request. Flissy flanked him and so did Science Officer Hal Rehnquist. Harker looked out over the faces he had become familiar with over the years. Few ever left the service of the Dubrovnik on purpose. It was a good ship and a good place to serve. He looked out on determined faces, squared tense shoulders and all eyes were on him.

“We will mourn the los of our comrade Jelik Ivan, make no mistake, that time will come, and we will drink to his memory and to the example he represented aboard this good ship. We will mourn the loss of the Svalbard, her fine crew and captain and the good work they did. We will mourn so many losses, more than we can count. I promise you that time will come.

“Today, though, we have a chance to make a difference. But know this, all of you who stand before me, the price will be a high one. We’ve hijacked a conglomerate orca class flagship. We’ve tossed a third of the crew overboard, and we’ve disobeyed every direct order and every rule we’ve lived by all these years together.” He stepped forward to the com and played the last message of the Svalbard once more. And when it was done, when the silence was as complete as death, he spoke again. “If any of you wish to leave, now is your chance. After this there’ll be no turning back. If you choose to go, you’ll be set aboard an escape pod with coordinates that will take you far from the action, but land you safe in an Authority stronghold, where you need tell nothing but the truth, and no harm will come to you. No one here will hold it against you.”

When no one budged, he heaved a sigh and offered a tight, but earnest smile. “Your loyalty moves me deeply, that you stand by me knowing that I may very well be leading you to your deaths or worse. But this is where we draw the line. This is where we take our stand. Pandora Base can’t stand against the Apocalypse. It is unarmed, and until now, undetected. The shields will only hold for a short time. There are five hundred souls on Plague 1, and the research that has resulted in a cure for the SNT virus in any stage. There are secrets there that we cannot allow to fall into the Authority’s hands. Most especially we can’t let them fall into Fallon’s hands. There’s space aboard the Dubrovnik for the people and the equipment. Once the base is evacuated and everyone is onboard, with a quick stop on Grania 5, we can take on supplies enough to get us to the Rim. Once we’re there, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, there’ll be no coming back, so I will offer you one last chance to opt out.” Still no one moved. He looked out once again over the faces of his trusted crew and nodded. “Well then, buckle in. We’re already on course for Plague 1 and we’re about to jump to maximum speed. We’re way closer than the Apocalypse is, since the destruction of the Svalbard happened here.” He pointed to a place on the star map. With any luck, we can be there, have the base evacuated, and have jumped a couple of times before the Apocalypse arrives. Good luck. Good luck to all of us and all of those at Pandora Base.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 47: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again.  Mr Grace and I are enjoying a lovely week of holiday in glorious Cumbria with lots of walking and lots of relaxing in the local pubs. But I haven’t forgotten today’s episode of Fury, which finds Rab and Gerando in a really, really bad place. If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday.

 

 

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

 

Piloting Fury Part 47: Infected!

Rab woke parched and drenched in his own sweat. He was buckled into a seat in the control room of the Ares and Gerando Fallon was strapped in next to him. He was thrashing about like he was having bad dreams. Well bloody hell, why wouldn’t he be after all the fun and excitement aboard the Apocalypse? Rab was damn glad he couldn’t remember if he dreamed. “Wake up kid.” His throat felt like he’d swallowed a goddamned Cairovian sandstorm. “Hey! Fallon! Hey, you’re dreaming.” It was as he reached across to give the kid a shake that he saw it, the thing of his own nightmares, the small raw patch on the inside of his left forearm, the faint outline of the incision still visible beneath the skin, but as upsetting as that was, it was nothing compared to the beginnings of a blistered rash around the outer edge of the incision.

“Vaticana fucking Christu! Fallon! Goddamn it, Gerando, wake up! We’re in deep shit.” In the kid’s thrashings about, the infected incision on his arm became visible too. “I hate that goddamned fuck of an old man of yours,” Rab roared as the memories of their last audience with Abriad Fallon came rushing back. His throat didn’t like that one bit.

The kid woke with a violent jerk, and Rab could already see the fever in his eyes. Jesu! How long had they been unconscious? “Your fucking father shackled us and infected us.”

Before Gerando could do more than stare at his own arm in horror, the ship’s console came to life with an incoming message from the old shite gob. His image filling the screen added to Rab’s sudden urge to puke. The goddamned sonovabitch wore a smug smile plastered across his face that Rab would have loved to melt off with a mol-pistol, or better yet, tear it off with his bare hands. “Good. I am so glad to see the two of you are awake.”

“What have you done? What the fuck have you done?” The kid roared, shoving his way out of the belt and leaning forward over the console frantically searching for their location.

“Oh don’t bother, boy.” Fallon said with a wave of his hand. “I’m more than happy to tell you where you are. You’re onboard the Ares, as I’m sure you figured out already, and you’re on your way to Plague 1, or as they call it these days, Pandora Base.”

 

 

“What the –”

He raised a hand and the kid shut up as though he’d been gagged. “I told you that you both had a key role to play in this mission. But I’m not so stupid that I was not aware of your – shall we say – lack of enthusiasm. Now, Gerando, I know that you’ve always been half in love with Diana McAllister, and you didn’t much like it that I did with her whatever I wanted and you couldn’t.” The kid’s face went crimson and, and Rab felt for him.

“And you, Leo Rab, well you’ve worked with the woman for, how many years now aboard the Dubrovnik? A soft life you had there, I’d say, compared to the triax mine I pulled you out of. Oh, I know that everyone onboard the Dubrovnik respected McAllister, and some more than others. How do I know that she didn’t endear you to her like she did Harker and the rest of the crew? How do I know that you didn’t just get soft and spineless aboard the Dubrovnik? You see,” he said, pacing in front of them in the same library he had slipped them the mickey in. “How can I possibly be sure either of you are up to the task without a little incentive.” He nodded to their arms and smiled beneficently.

He waved a dismissive hand. “Oh I really don’t need you – either of you. With the firepower the Apocalypse carries, I could simply go in guns blazing, mol-tran out McAllister, take the Fury by force and blow the whole base off the planet. But in this case, I opted for finesse rather than brute force. You see, there’s technology on Pandora Base that I want. That being the case, the two of you are useful. I know that bleeding heart, Keen. And I know he won’t turn away infected indentureds, no matter who they are, and they sure won’t expect a cloaked orca class gun ship coming in right behind the Ares while the shields are down.” He looked down at his antique chronometer and smiled. “Oh I’ve timed it all just perfectly, my lads. I know the top speed at which the Ares can arrive at Plague 1, and I know just how long you two have been infected. There’s no real rush, you’re far past the point at which I can administer the antidote. If you want to live, and if you want to recover from the virus, then you go and beg help from Plague 1. If you don’t succeed, you die. If you do succeed, well, you might just stand a chance of recovery before I take over the base and take back what’s mine. After that,” He shrugged. “Well after that I don’t give a shit what the two of you get up to together out in the big wide galaxy.” He rubbed his hands together. “Oh I love a good challenge, don’t you?” The screen went blank. The com went dead.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 46: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again.  In today’s episode Mac learns more from Professor Keen about her two boys. If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday.

 

 

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

 

Piloting Fury Part 46: Testosterone and Secrets

Both my boys, I thought. How could anyone consider them to be my boys when they didn’t trust me enough to tell me something as basic as me being born to compliment Fury, something that they both knew was an important part of the past I knew nothing about.

Keen squared his shoulders and blew out a heavy sigh. “Why the dumb oaf would think it would matter to you is beyond me, but he does have more than his fair share of testosterone, I’m afraid. They both do, Diana. You need to remember that. Fury may look like a battered freighter, but his heart, his mind is just as humanoid male and just as driven by his urges and hormones as Richard’s is.”

“You got that right,” I managed around my heart that had lodged itself somewhere in my throat. “And I’ve had so much experience with men and relationships that I should have known this.”

“Of course you haven’t, and that’s why none of you has a clue what to do now that you have found each other. That’s why I’m telling you.”

I downed my tepid cappuccino in a single gulp without tasting it and nodded to him, folding my arms across my chest. “I’m listening.”

“The tether is the tie that binds bonded compliments to their ship. It quite literally is like an umbilical cord that feeds the ship’s life and strength into the compliment’s physical body and the reverse is true as well. The compliment’s physicality and organic nature in return infuses the ship. It’s very much a give and take. Because the ship is sentient and because that sentience is based on humanoid genetics, carbon based organisms, this interchange not only can happen, but it’s essential to the SNT system. It is even more essential to Fury because he was created from a joined sperm and egg, while the other SNT ships were cloned.

“In most bondings, the tether is, for practical purposes, long and loose, meaning that the compliment may be away from his or her ship for an extended period of time, might even survive permanent separation, if necessary, though that theory was, obviously, never tested. When Fury bonded with Richard, he had no way of knowing this. In so many ways, you have to consider that Fury was born before he was ready. He was sent out into the world untested and untrained. He was, as you know, our last hope. That meant that his understanding of what was supposed to happen in a bonding was limited. Since the circumstances were most definitely extenuating, and due to Fury’s lack of understanding of a bonding, the tether created was short, meaning that Manning can only safely be away from Fury for a few days at most. Less if his physical or emotional reserves are taxed, as they were when he rescued you. What he did, the surgery he performed on your shackle to neutralize it was exacting and difficult. Fury had no antidote onboard at the time because their last cargo had been infected indentureds. And even for Fury it takes a while to synthesize it. When Richard found out that Fallon had sent his son to take you back to Terra Nova Prime, there was no time to spare. Richard had to perform the delicate task of neutralizing your shackle, this after a rough ride and a tight turnaround. Mind you, I don’t have to tell you that by this time Fury’s love for you and need of you had become Richard’s as well. He was terrified he’d do something wrong.”

“Fuck!” Suddenly I was shaking all over. “I thought he left me alone in that horrible room to go back to the barmaid. I thought …”

 

 

“He left you alone in the Nine Tails’ safe room, Diana. Every bar worth its salt has one — at least on the Rim. It’s a place shielded from all scans and probes and with a force field around it that makes it almost invisible. And when you left the next morning, presuming you were alone. Well you weren’t. You were well guarded until you were safe onboard the Fury. Diana,” he squeezed my hand, “Richard had to return to the Fury or risk death. Under such circumstance all he can do, the only thing that will help is if he literally sleeps and regenerates in Fury. It’s best if he’s home in his own bed inside Fury every night. That way he’s always at full strength. What happened when he was here was a combination of the energy it had taken him to get you safely onboard the Fury and away. His regeneration between your arrival onboard and the disaster with the Svalbard was too little and the situation too stressful. That was why he collapsed here.”

“Jesu,” I whispered. “Why didn’t he tell me? I would have understood. I would have understood better than thinking he’d rather be holed up with Stanislavski than helping me get Fury through the storm.”

“Diana, there’s no place he would have rather been than beside you on Fury’s bridge. But he absolutely couldn’t. Even then it took Ina to make sure he didn’t try to go to you anyway. That would have done no one any good in his condition. Ina knew you couldn’t do what you had to do to get Fury to safety if you had to take care of Manning as well. He knew it too, and he hated it. He sees it as his weakness. He didn’t want you to know.”

“Stupid fool! Why would he think I wouldn’t understand? Of course I would have understood. Even Fury wouldn’t tell me what the problem was. What?” I asked when I noticed him studying me as if I was somehow missing the bigger picture.

“Diana, there’s a lot more to it than the need to regenerate inside Fury. You see, Fury literally brought Richard back to life. It’s Fury’s energy, fury’s essence that sustains Richard. The short tether is way more than just an umbilical chord for Richard, it is a lifeline. It is short because his life is literally Fury’s.”

“Wait a minute.” I suddenly felt as though the floor beneath me was tilting. “Are you trying to tell me that Manning is …”

“Dead. Yes. Richard Manning, at least the Richard Manning that Fury rescued all those years ago, died of his extensive injuries. The matrix you see and know and have clearly grown fond of is one created by Fury to contain Richard’s essence.” His face broke into a beatific smile. “I had no idea that Fury was capable of such a thing, and at the time, he didn’t realize what he was doing. What he knew was that this man had gone to extraordinary lengths to free himself from bondage and Fury simply refused to let his efforts be in vane. Oh I promise you, all of what you see and interact with, all of the man who clearly adores you, is as real and as alive and breathing as you and I are, and is as much Richard Manning as the flesh that died all those years ago was – more so in fact because the Richard Manning who now serves as Fury’s compliment has grown and evolved and is a much better human being for his experiences. That he has not told you, I suspect is because he fears your reaction.”

“Goddamn him!” I sniffed back tears. “Goddamn both of them. What the hell do they take me for – an idiot? A monster?”

“Of course you’re not a monster. Diana, listen to me.” Keen reached for me, but I shoved my chair back and stood.

“I’ve gotta go.” I turned and fled with Keen calling after me.

 

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 45: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again.  Today’s episode finds Mac confronting Professor Keen about the truth Fury and Manning have kept from her. If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday.

 

 

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

 

Piloting Fury Part 45: Confrontations and Secrets Revealed

Just then Professor Keen walked through the door, and I thought Stanislavski was going to pass out from relief. She pulled away from my less than gentle grip and all but ran to the professor. I, on the other hand, was not about to pass out, not about to be budged until I knew what the fuck was going on.

Keen glanced at Stanislavski and then me, and the look on his face darkened. He offered Stanislavski a buss on the cheek and she said her good-byes, knowing goddamn good and well that the only reason she was escaping was because I figured Keen had more answers than she did, and he wasn’t getting away until he gave it up. But before she left, she glanced at me and then turned her attention to the Keen. “They haven’t bonded,” she said.

“Yes, I know,” Keen replied.

Then she offered me a worried little look that made my stomach clench, and she left. “Is she always that much of a snitch?” I asked, feeling even less magnanimous toward the woman at the moment that I usually did.

“She has reason to be, in this case,” he said, offering me a sympathetic smile, and my insides knotted still tighter.

“Reason to be? What reason? You wanna tell me what the fuck is going on?” I barely managed to wait until the woman was out the door. “What the hell is Stanislovski talking about, me being bonded? I’m a fucking pilot. Nothing more.”

This time when the waiter approached cautiously as though he feared I might use my laser beam stare on him, Keen politely ordered two cappuccinos and offered the poor man an apologetic smile. Before I could launch back into what the fuck mode, he asked, “Diana, how much do you know about your birth?”

“I know that my father was widowed when I was barely more than an infant. I lived onboard a ship with him from, well for all my life until the Merlin, except for time spent with an aunt.”

“And he never talked about your mother, did he?”

“No,” I replied, realizing that this was the first time I had ever even thought about the mother I never knew. “I … he never mentioned her.”

“Don’t you think that’s rather strange?”

I could manage nothing but a shrug of my shoulders. For some reason, I felt as though I’d just been shoved out an airlock into empty space.

“Diana, you were born to be Fury’s compliment.”

And now I was sure I was in free fall, but before I could do more than open my mouth, he continued. “As Fury told you most of the early SNT experiments with fertilized humanoid eggs failed in the early weeks after fertilization. His was the only viable fetus that took to the nano technology and thrived in the hybridization that followed. There was, however, one other that survived, a humanoid female of your father’s sperm and an unknown doner. When it became clear that you weren’t suited to become an SNT, your fetal material was slated for termination, but your father wouldn’t allow it. I helped him make sure you were safe and hidden away until your birth.”

For a moment the world spun around me and shifted in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I wanted to run. I wanted to wake up safe and loved aboard Fury. I wanted to believe that at least some part of my mess of a life had been normal, and now that had been taken away from me. “So you’re telling me I’m a failed SNT experiment?” I managed, barely finding the breath for the words.

“Of course that’s not what I’m telling you. What you became is no less astonishing and marvelous than what Fury became. What you became is so much more than just a pilot. What you were born to be was the perfect compliment for Fury. Even your father knew this in his heart of hearts, which is why he raised you and spent so much time with you onboard starships. However, he also wanted the choice you made to be your own. Sadly, due to the circumstances, you never got that opportunity and neither did Fury.”

I felt as though I’d been gut punched and then had my heart ripped out. “Then why hasn’t Fury told me? Why hasn’t he come clean? Does he not want me?” I felt stupid the second I said it. I sounded childish and ridiculous. It had never mattered to me before if anyone had ever wanted me. Hell, I’d kept every man who’d looked at me with interest at arm’s length, including Manning, whom I had always been attracted to, and now I was upset because Fury hadn’t been honest with me about my past.

 

 

“Don’t be daft! Of course he wants you.” Keen took my hand in his rather calloused one, a strong grip that cracked knuckles. “He’s lived for you, and so has Manning from the moment Fury told him about you. They both want you. They both need you and, in fact, the ship I created Fury to be won’t be complete until you’re a part of that matrix. Manning was never your replacement. Manning was Fury’s salvation in his loneliness, and from that their bond has grown.”

I found myself painfully close to tears, as I listened.

The waiter brought two cappuccinos and we sat quietly until he’d left.

Keen picked up the spoon and toyed with the foam, then he took a deep breath and spoke. “One thing you must understand about Fury, he’s not programmed. His heart is his own in a way that was not the case with the other SNTs. Fury has a deep capacity to connect, to relate and to love, and with that, the capacity for guilt and jealousy and all of the other emotions that humanoids deal with on a daily basis. Fury is as much humanoid as he is technological.

“Once his commitment was made to Manning, once they were bonded, that bond could never be broken except in death. However, your place remained empty. It might have been less of a trauma for Fury over the years had he not partially bonded with you when he rescued you from the Merlin. It was the first time he saw you, and that the bonding would be so strong and so instantaneous on his part, I had not foreseen. I mean everyone has heard of love at first sight, but it really doesn’t happen very often. Quite literally, Diana, Fury has loved you since he first saw you. You were never meant to be just a pilot. You were meant to be an SNT Pilot, more specifically the pilot for SNT1, you were created especially as his compliment. You were created for him and he has felt the need for you and the absence of you every day since he was raised to consciousness.”

“If that’s the case, then why didn’t he tell me? We’ve had time. We’ve been together for almost a month now and we’ve been … together, the three of us.”

“You know Fury’s heart. He’s laid as much bare to you as he had the courage to. Fury’s afraid of rejection, just like you are, just like we all are. But it’s more than that.” He pushed the tepid coffee aside and leaned over the table toward me. “You see when he bonded with Richard, things didn’t quite go according to planned. Fury was so young, and so inexperienced and so totally alone. There were complications. Fury fears he’ll not be able to bond with you without such complications. I’ve reassured him that won’t be the case, and if the two of you bond here, I’ll be here, if for no other reason, so that he feels more secure.”

“But those complications. They were due to Manning’s condition, weren’t they? And the fact that Manning wasn’t Fury’s intended compliment. I mean from what Fury told me, it was nothing short of a miracle that they were able to make a bond when Manning was neither his intended nor was he trained to it. Stanislavski said something about a short tether. I don’t know what that means, and neither Manning nor Fury mentioned it to me.”

For a moment Keen studied me as though I were a problem to be solved until I squirmed under his scrutiny. “Richard has not broached this subject with you, what happened the last time you were here?”

“No. No he hasn’t.” I felt a blush climbing my neck. I don’t know why. For the past couple of hours I’d been in the presence of people who knew both Manning and Fury better that I did, and I couldn’t help it, I was more than a little defensive that everyone seemed so surprised by my ignorance. “He doesn’t seem to want to talk about it, and I didn’t push.”

“Well then, he won’t be happy with me, but you need to know. You need to know about both of your boys if we’re going to get through this situation intact.”

 

 

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 44: Brand New KGD Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again. AND! It’s Vaccination Day at Grace Manor! That’s right, both Mr. Grace and I are now fully vaccinated. We received our second jabs this morning, and there is much rejoicing. So much in fact that Fury is just a little late getting out to you today. I hope you can forgive my exuberance. Today’s episode finds Stanislavski giving Mac a tour of Pandora Base, in which she reveals a bit more than the perfectly replicated Main Street. If you’re enjoying Fury, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday.

 

 

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

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 44: The Tour in Which Much is Revealed

 

“It’s bigger than I expected and smaller.”

Stanislovski had taken me to the clock tower on the replica of a courthouse overlooking the twentieth century Main Street of Pandora Base. From there we had the best view of the entire area that was designed so that people who almost never went out into the dangerous atmosphere above ground could at least get the feeling they were in the sunshine. The edge of the living area had been disguised beautifully with holo-projections so that the rock walls appeared to be cornfields and parks and tree-lined streets. There was nothing claustrophobic about Pandora Base.

“This is all the space that can be spared at the moment,” the woman replied. “There aren’t enough workers to expand the common area, and the majority of the space excavated is needed for growing food and keeping the space livable. At least at the moment population is stable with new survivors coming in and children being born. And of course a lot of people migrate to the Rim first chance they get. The practicality of increasing the size of a place that will never be more hospitable when we have to keep what we’re doing secret is questionable. On the other hand we can do here what we can’t on either of the other two plague planets for that very reason. The Authority doesn’t see and it doesn’t care. While both the other plague planets are more hospitable, they’re also way too visible. Pity.

“And there are other issues to consider. Well over half the population of Terra Nova Prime is indentured. These days people are born in debt. There are rumors that in parts of Terra Omega, they’re actually breeding indentureds to increase the workforce.”

I felt a sudden wave of nausea at the thought, and looked down at my own empty shackle. “Isn’t that forbidden in the codes?” I felt stupid the moment I asked it. The codes created when indentured servitude was voted into law as a way of paying off debt were blatantly ignored now. No one would dare protest for fear they would be the next to end up with a shackle implanted in their arm. Them or their family. There was always hidden debt to be trumped up and used against a person if necessary. “Never mind,” I said when Stanislovski gave me the raised eyebrow.

She moved around the stone balcony that circled the clock tower and I followed taking in the 360 view. “More and more indentureds are running the risk of escape due to abysmal conditions and no recourse. More and more are ending up on Plague Two and Three, and that means the ones we can get off, the ones we can smuggle or intercept are coming here. If the numbers increase too rapidly, we run the risk of overcrowding and an overload to the life support systems, certainly to hydroponics.” She waved a negating hand. “Oh those things can be dealt with. We’ll find a way. We always have. But what we may not be able to deal with is that the increased numbers may draw attention to us, and that could be devastating. We’re not prepared to fight a battle here on Pandora Base. Our defenses are just that, defenses, and while they are strong enough to give the majority of our people a chance to escape, assuming we had the ships and the opportunity, they are not strong enough to hold off a full-blown attack from the Authority. Pandora Base would be lost and the antidote would be discovered.”

“Do you have an evacuation plan?” I asked.

“Not much of a one, and it all depends on us having ships available to get people off. We’d need at least a dozen ships. One Orca could do it, but there aren’t too many of those these days that don’t have their noses buried up the conglomerates’ asses.”

“Fury might be able to recreate himself as an Orca, but we need him for other more important tasks right now.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and she nearly ran into me, as we descended the stairs from the clock tower. “Of course I know about Fury. I’m one of the few who does. Fury is Dr. Keen’s crowning glory, and a damn good little ship.”

I couldn’t help it, I felt betrayed and more than a little jealous that she knew about Fury, that she had a past with the two men in my life, that she might know secrets I didn’t

“What’s the matter with Manning,” I blurted out.

 

 

For a moment, I thought she wasn’t going to answer me. We opened the door and stepped out into the warm sunshine and she looked up and closed her eyes as though she were basking in the light of a real star. She took a deep breath and said. “Nothing is the matter with Manning. It’s just that his situation is complicated. Because of the extenuating circumstances of his bonding, his tether is shorter than it was intended to be. That’s all.”

“His tether?”

She guided me into an old fashioned coffee shop and nodded to a table near the window. “Vaticana Jesu, didn’t they tell you about tethers and compliments when you bonded with Fury?”

“What do you mean when I bonded with Fury? Fury’s already bonded to Manning. I’m just … I’m just the pilot.” I couldn’t help it, I blushed.

For a long moment she stared at me as though I had just sprouted another head. Then she took a deep breath. I could see she was choosing her words carefully, which made the already tight fist in my stomach clench even tighter. “I saw the way Manning kissed you.” Now it was her turn to blush, “and I sensed Fury’s longing. Neither of them can wait to have you back, and you’re telling me you haven’t bonded yet?”

The waiter came to take our order and Stanislovski shooed him away with a flutter of her hand, her gaze still locked on my. “McAllister, what the hell’s going on? I’m not your enemy, you know.”

“I didn’t think that you were.”

“Oh I think that’s exactly what you think, but there are a few things you need to know, a few things that I hope will help you understand why Richard and Fury mean so much to me.”

Before I could say anything, she dropped the bomb.

“I wanted to be the Fury’s compliment once we realized that he still existed, that he was very much alive and well and thriving with Richard’s help. We all got drunk together one night – well Richard and I, Fury just hung out with us on the observation deck. It was then that they told me how they came to know each other and why Richard’s situation was … unique. After what happened, after what happened with Richard, I felt that maybe I could finally fulfill the roll I was trained for. I felt that they needed me. I mean I could have helped Richard, could have been there for both of them. I was trained for it. I was compatible. That’s why I was shackled,” she said holding up her arm absently. “Pretty much everyone associated with the SNT project was shackled, and especially the back-up compliments. We were considered most dangerous because the rogue SNTs might come looking for us, they might need to replace their compliments. When I was freed, when I found out Fury’s situation, I volunteered. I offered myself to be bonded, but …” the muscles of her throat rose and fell and she blinked hard, then squared her shoulders. “but he refused me.” For a moment she sat in silence, on hand resting against her chest. “Nothing ever hurt like that, to be rejected by the only one with whom I could fulfil my purpose.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, and I really was, after hearing Fury’s story, I could only imagine her pain.

She shook her head. “Don’t be. I guess maybe he felt Richard was enough, since he never expected to have his intended compliment. Who knows, maybe he felt guilty. It’s hard to say with an SNT mind like his. He’s not only far more intelligent, but he’s also far more sensitive, though I suppose you know that by now.”

“He loves Richard,” I said. “I suppose you know that by now.”

“And Richard loves him, yes, I know that by now. And they both love you.” She shot me a smile that was timid and brave.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked, not wanting to discuss my love life with her when I wasn’t entirely certain of what it even meant yet.

“I guess I wanted you to know that I’m no threat.” She forced a laugh. “I wish like hell I was, believe me. A compliment living her life without a ship, well the research says we can do it and we can survive. We can, I have.” She held my gaze. “But there’s not a single day that goes by when I don’t have to battle the emptiness, when I don’t want to run back to Fury and beg him to take me, beg him to make me whole. You’re a compliment, created to be his compliment. Surly you understand this.”

“Hold it, hold it. What the fuck are you talking about I’m a compliment. I’m a pilot whose lived most of my life as indentured. I’ve never had any plans of being a compliment and I was never tested.”

She blinked, then blinked again. “Vatican jesu! You don’t know, do you?”

“Know what? Stanislovski what the hell is it I’m supposed to know?”

She ran a hand through her short dark hair, and it stood on end as though she’d just been electrocuted. “Jesus, Diana! Oh fuck! Fury hasn’t told you.” She stood nearly knocking the chair over. “Look, this is not mine to tell. I would have never …” She glanced at the door as though she was considering making a break for it.

I grabbed her arm. “Well whatever the hell it is that you would never, your sure as hell had better because I don’t like playing games.”

 

 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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