Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Fury’s story as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. In this week’s episode, our mysterious heroine is in trouble, and help in a junk heap is difficult to come by. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!
If you missed the beginning episode of Dragon Ascending, follow the link for a catch-up.
Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ships Series
On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.
Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.
Dragon Ascending Part 2: Shelter
This place is but shifting sand. One can never return to the same spot even from day to day. Therefore in her condition, I feared the woman would not find me and that she would have no shelter. It was no hardship for me to open a breach in the de-mole fence, to make it even larger to accommodate her injured condition. This time she bore no pack and her clothing was torn and bloody. How brave and determined she was to have sought me out. But beneath the shifting of the sands, I feared she would not be able to find my shelter, and I could not bear for her have come so far in vane. This time her needs demanded frantic searching through the fog that ever obscured my memories if I were to assure her safety. She would need an entrance, a door into a space that had not been breached since my loss. And in my rising consciousness I found I could give that to her. However putting it where she could easily access it in her weakened condition was a thing I could not recall how to do.
Len managed to stay upright to the perimeter of the salvage yard, but the crawl through the opening in the de-mole defence shield wouldn’t do her broken ribs any good. She hadn’t bothered to bind them, racing time to reach shelter before nightfall. Pain is a good thing, her uncle had always said. It meant you were still alive. Her uncle was full of shit. Or would have been if he was still alive. No one believed he was, but her mother had never given up hope, so neither would she. Still, she thought he was full of shit about pain. Pain, she’d had more than enough of, and she’d not liked any of it one little bit.
She was surprised to even find the de-mole breach again. Not that she much cared. A quick death by being disintegrated at the molecular level might be preferable to what was likely to be her fate. But while she wasn’t afraid to die, she wasn’t ready to bring it on any quicker. The breach was bigger than she remembered. She could actually crawl through this time. She dropped to her knees in a wave of nausea, the threat of unconsciousness accompanied the grating of her ribs with each breath. Still, she struggled forward on hands and knees. Her uncle, she supposed, would be pleased. She and managed not to vomit from the pain until she was through the breach. She hoped nothing would scent her blood and follow her. That was the downside of the breach expansion. She doubted the shield had been serviced in maybe twenty galactic years, and yet whatever was hidden in the salvage yard here in the worst part of the Taklamakan had been valuable enough to put up a de-mole defense shield, expensive and illegal for use other than military. And not even the military wanted anything to do with this place.
No one ever came to Taklamakan Major, and it was only bad luck that she and her mother had ended up on Taklamakan Minor. Or maybe not so bad, since the Authority left them alone, and both she and her mother would have been taken into indentured servitude had her mother not booked passage on the first transport to anywhere. It never mattered with the Authority how young a child was, or even if it had been born yet. The debt of the family was visited on the children, and her family’s debt was colossal. Though this desert was a shit hole at least as bad as Taklamakan Minor, it beat the hell out of being shackled as an indentured.
Taklamakan Major was one continuous salvage yard with a few outposts where no one came but criminals and fugitives, and only then in desperation. Even those trying to escape the shackle avoided the Taklamakan System, if you could even call it a system. But her mother had said she would have happily endured worse than to be shackled to some conglomerate pig. Her daughter would grow up in the free world. Len only knew the stories she’d heard of the Authority and of the conglomerates that ran the system, stories that her mother had told while they shivered in the science station on Tak Minor. In the Taklamakan System, you had two choices, freeze your lungs out or fry your brain, and yet the place was still better than a shackle in Authority space. Anyone who lived there would tell you that. She had turned six on the yearly long-haul supply ship that delivered them to the science station on Tak Minor, the only inhabitants of the tiny planetoid. And now it seemed she would die here in the dust and swelter of Tak Major without ever seeing the stars her uncle told her tales about. If this was her life flashing before her eyes at the instant of her death, well she reckoned she didn’t have long at all, because it was full of mostly nothing interesting.
Len shoved her way into the salvage yard and then forced her way up to her feet. She swallowed back bile in a wave of pain that her uncle would have found reassuring. The farther she got from the breach in the perimeter, the safer she would be, but in her condition that couldn’t be far. The place went on for kilometers, but she would be forced to find something close and find it soon. Inside the perimeter at least she wouldn’t have to spend her last hours being eaten alive by an infestation. She’d rather throw herself on the de-mole.
But the night was coming on. Once the winds got up, she’d have no hope of finding shelter if she didn’t do it now, so she forced herself onward. The temperature was already dropping and she bit her tongue trying to keep her teeth from chattering. Any noise might expose her, even in the relative safety of the salvage yard. If she could get through the breach in the de-mole, so could other things seeking shelter for the night, things she would rather not spend time with.
She didn’t know if you could lose consciousness while you walked, but she was pretty sure she’d done just that. In the next lucid moment she was looking up at an open airlock some ten meters off the ground. The shifting sands had apparently lifted the hulk of a junked ship, the open maw of its airlock gaping black in the growing dusk. The remaining light reflected off the metallic skin of what was, at the very least, some kind of escape pod. If she could manage the climb up to the airlock, she was pretty sure she would be safe for the night.