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Dragon Ascending Part 1: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! I promised a surprise and here it is. Dragon Ascending is a brand new KDG read, and the sequel to Fury’s story. I debated long and hard about sharing the second book in the story of the SNT ships, but the truth is, I was just too excited about the Dragon to keep it to myself. Fury’s was the first story in a series of novels I can easily see in my head. Dragon Ascending was not the story I planned to follow Fury’s, but it was the story that pushed itself to the front of the queue with such persistence and such intrigue that I couldn’t resist. The rough draft got written fast and furious last April for the Camp NaNoWriMo month. For me it was one of the novels that wouldn’t let go of me until it was all there on the page down to the last word. On top of the tenacity of the story, it was an absolute joy to write, and it wouldn’t let go of me until it was all there. SOOO, if you enjoyed Fury’s story, I promise you, you’ll love Dragon’s story. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

 

 

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 1 Salvage

Anticipation returned with consciousness and the knowledge that I was no longer alone. But how quickly that anticipation was crushed. This filthy dust-covered woman child was not she, not the woman I longed for. With consciousness I was painfully reminded that the one I desired was gone, and the ache of her absence came back to me just as quickly as the presence of this humanoid roused me from my slumber.

Perhaps it had been a millennia, perhaps it had been only moments. The pain was the same. And certainly if I had cared to check, I would have known exactly how long she had been gone down to the nanosecond. It mattered not, the passing of time. It had eased nothing. Of what happened before, beyond her loss, I remembered little else, only fire and pain and loss, none of which I wished to bring to mind even if I were able.

But I knew with certainty that this humanoid woman at the perimeter shield was the first to visit me in my mourning, so I made sure she could enter my resting place. Though I should not have. I should have returned to my sleep. In sleep, I did not feel my loss. In sleep it was as though I had never existed. But night was approaching. The wind was already rising. This one would not survive without shelter, so with some effort, I opened a small breach in the perimeter shield, and this one was wily enough to find the entrance I had provided. She was not large, she had no trouble wriggling through like a small desert creature, pushing an oversized pack ahead of her. Once she was within, I closed the breach for the night to keep out predators, and I made my shelter available to her, but she did not know that. She did not even know I was there. No one knew I was there. I was alone.

It was my intention simply to offer her shelter for the night and then to return to my slumber, but oh, the presence of her, the intrigue of such a being finding her way here to this desolate place where no one came.

But when she drew near, she was not at all what I had hoped for. She was filthy and she stank of sweat and fear and determination. There was a fresh abrasion on her shoulder. It was rubbed raw from the heavy pack she carried. The scent of her blood made uncomfortable memories dance and weave in the fog of my mind. I did not want the scent of blood in my space. It caused me pain. And then I wondered if it was perhaps her pain I felt, and I was even less comfortable with the pain I could do nothing to ease. I was never supposed to feel such helplessness. I was supposed to alleviate pain, to heal wounds, to make situations better, and yet I could not. I could not remember how.

She was nothing like the woman who was taken from me. And I despised her for all that she was not. Perhaps it was only self-loathing in my helplessness. I do not know. And yet she intrigued me. And I found that I could not return to my slumber in her presence. Oh of course she did not know I was there. I did not want her to see me in my disgrace so far from the stars in the dust and the filth of this place. Oh how the humanity we once all longed for now seemed like such an evil thing.

 

 

I did not want her here. Her very presence disturbed me, reminded me of what I had lost, and yet I could not leave her unprotected nor could I rest while she slept in our shared hiding place. We were, both of us, fugitives, salvage, hiding away for our safety, of use to no one, tired and alone. But perhaps a little less alone for the moment. I watched while she slowly ate hard journey bread, taking but small nibbles, savoring each bite, lingering over small sips of precious water. In truth, she was thin, too thin and the bread would do little to return her to healthy weight. I would have offered her a feast. I would have offered her a bath and a clean bed in which to sleep. Was that not the hospitality one would share even with a stranger, even one who had come uninvited? But alas I could offer nothing but shelter, so weakened was I, so unaware even of my own functions.

When she had eaten her meager meal, making sure to tuck half of it away safely in her pack, she curled on her side, pulled the loose fitting cape around her thin shoulders and was instantly asleep. It was little enough to keep her warm and even in her sleep she shivered. That much I could offer at least. I curled myself around her and gave her my warmth, feeling the rise and fall of the breath of human sleep, and the ache of another memory, one I could almost not bare. Just the feel of human sleep next to me — one who did not need sleep and yet hid in it now like a coward wishing for death that would never come. But I was awake for the moment, and I took pleasure in the sleep that was laced with all the biological functions of humanoids, so complex in their perfection and yet so very, very vulnerable in their weaknesses. This one lived another day because I had given her shelter. But beyond that, there was nothing I could do for her small, fragile humanity.

Through the night I kept watch as she battled dreams, doggedly keeping them from erupting into the waking world. Silent. It was a silence I knew well, the deep silence of self-preservation. Why was she here in this inhospitable place where everyone who could leave had done so long ago? For a moment I feared for her, but there was nothing I could do, nothing I could offer that would not give my presence away, so I offered what I could and watched her sleep.

In the morning when she left without breaking her fast, I closed the breach in the defense shield behind her, and I returned to my slumber. But she had disturbed my perfect sleep. Even when I returned to it, this strange woman walked my dreams. The details of her came to me while I slept. Her hair beneath the rusted desert dust had been pale, cut short. Her eyes were equally pale, perhaps blue, though they seemed more silver at times. Her body was small and fragile, hard earned muscle and sinew too close to the bone. Her lips were cracked from the sun and the heat and drawn tight with the battles of her own internal workings, but I imagined them full and moist and smiling, as they would have been if she were well cared for, sheltered and cherished as she should be. How was it that I cared to remember so much about her when all I really wanted was to return to oblivion?

I would not see her again, for certainly she was just passing through. It was best that I not think what her future might hold in this desolate place. It was best that I not think of her at all. And yet, how could it be that I missed her when she left? Though I remembered little of what had been, I had not doubt that my own losses had left me unbalanced, and perhaps it was my instability that brought with it dreams of this strange woman, for surely she was nothing of value to me.

So for some time I did not bother to measure, I was alone again, expecting that time would purge this woman from my memories and allow me to return to my deep unknowing, for surely she was of no significance that she should take space for long in my dreams.

And then she returned. At first the joy of my anticipation nearly overwhelmed me, unhinged as I was sure I must be. And then I realized she was injured, that death was imminent and that she sought my shelter in which to die.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 56: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means  it’s once again time for more Fury. If you remember, in the last instalment, Captain Evander and the Dubrovnik showed up at Pandora Base just in time to help evacuate. All that remains before Fury’s intrepid crew is the bonding between the ship, Mac and Manning, and Manning might just be getting cold feet. Or is he? 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 56: The Heart of SNT1

We were not alone and yet it felt as though we were. Stanislavsky remained onboard with Fallon, who still needed to be monitored, and Rab would not leave Fallon. It came as a big surprise to me, that the two had somehow bonded so. I could hardly think of two people less companionable. The human cargo bay had been isolated so that no one within could feel what would be going on without, and we would not sense the presence of those within either.

Manning held my hand and guided me back into the elevator that led away from the lower cargo bay. I had expected us to go up to the bridge, but instead Fury surprised me by stopping at a place somewhere in between.

“Where are we,” I asked.

“I have taken you to my heart,” Fury responded. “It is the place to which I should have taken you in the beginning, but I was afraid.”

“I would have never denied you, Fury. If I had taken you to my heart you’d have known that. But I guess I was afraid too.”

“And you are afraid now,” he commented, “as am I.”

“Yes,” I forced a weak laugh. “Can’t you tell?”

“Well that makes three of us then,” Manning said. The words were barely out of his mouth when the elevator door slid silently open. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t what was there. We stepped out onto a platform that hung above nothingness, and in the center of that deep shaft of emptiness was a bright spiral that appeared to be the same quicksilver substance with which Stanislavsky had injected Fallon. It coiled and danced and rose and fell like a restless ocean.

I gasped and all but fell back against Manning in the wave of vertigo that nearly overwhelmed me. He pulled me close with a gasp of his own and leaned heavily against the closed elevator door, his breath coming in desperate gasps.

“You’ve not been here?” I managed, fighting to keep my stomach in its proper place.

“No.” He spoke between barely parted lips, swallowing hard, his eyes pinched shut tightly.

“Do not be afraid,” Fury said. “You are safe here, both of you are, because you are both my heart.”

“I thought Manning would have been here when you bonded,” I managed, still battling my racing pulse, in spite of Fury’s promise.

“Richard Manning has not been to this place, Diana Mac, for I could not properly bond with him when he was untrained and unprepared to do his part.”

“I’m no more trained than he was,” I said.

“But you are.” It was Manning who responded. “It’s in your DNA. Plus you’ve lived onboard an SNT. You learned way more than you know.”

Fury waited in comforting silence, enfolding us in his presence until we could both stand and focus without dizziness or nausea, then he moved back enough that we could take in the panorama and the space that was far greater that what could have been contained in such a small cargo ship.

 

 

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour,” Fury quoted William Blake, a quote my father had used so often when he tried to describe to me the connection between an SNT and a compliment.

“What you see is what I have grown into, what I have become during my short life, “ he said, with what sounded like a sigh. “It is what I would now revert to if my purpose for being were suddenly no more. In such a state I would remain dormant until such time as I was needed again. I think I might remain such even for eternity if there was no further need for me, and if nothing destroyed my essence as happened to my brothers and sisters. Though,” he added, “I do not know if their essence was such as mine, since they were not conceived as I was.

“I did not know this when Richard Manning and I met or perhaps I would have reverted to such a state. I am glad for my ignorance, for I would have never known the pleasure of his company, nor the delight of being united, at long last, with my compliment. I have learned a great deal in my short life, and until I learned of Apocalypse, I have had no one like me with which to share it.”

“Why did you never share this with me,” Manning said, his voice tetchy from secrets kept.

“What would have been gained by my sharing?” Fury responded. “Besides I was … uncomfortable in the sharing, for I was so aware of my otherness, and I did not want to frighten you by making that otherness even more evident.” Then he added quickly, “You must understand I am, in my essence, a humanoid male, as are you, and I do not always share my inner workings with ease.”

“So what do we do,” I asked, fearing the response in spite of Fury’s promise that we were safe in his heart. Was anyone’s heart really a safe place for anyone else?

“You must penetrate me.” He spoke the words as though he were almost as uncertain as I was.

“Penetrate you?” Manning said. His grip on my hand had become tight enough to be almost painful. “What exactly does that mean?”

“It means that you must enter my heart, become a part of it, as I become a part of the two of you. Richard Manning, with Diana Mac’s bonding, I will now at last be able to bond fully with you as well and the two of you with each other. I do not believe that even Victor Keen is aware of this fact. It is something I have known at my core since Diana Mac first stepped onboard, though I do not know why.”

“It might have been nice for me to know that.” Manning said.

“Yes, it might have been,” Fury replied.

“But how do we do that,” I asked, “penetrate you, I mean.”

“Here is my heart,” he replied. “All that separates you from it is the catwalk, which is only there for your psychological reassurance.”

“You mean we have to jump?” Manning said, “into … that?”

That is my heart, Richard Manning. It is the same heart that has nurtured you and protected you from the beginning, and until this moment, you have not found it loathsome.”

“It isn’t loathsome. Damn it, Fury, don’t be so defensive. You said don’t be afraid, well I am, goddamn it! I’m sorry, but I am. I mean I’m about to throw myself into the core of an SNT, not just any SNT, but SNT 1. I’m scared shitless.”

To see Manning so vulnerable frightened me almost as much as what Fury was asking of us. My two men loved each other as much as they loved me, and I knew this, but here we all were paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t bear their fear and my own, so I took a deep breath – as deep as I could manage when I was on the verge of hyperventilation. Then, I took a mincing step forward, and the rail that kept us separated from the abyss vanished. Suddenly the tiny catwalk was all that separated us from the core of SNT1. All that separated us from Fury’s heart. I took another step forward and pulled Manning with me. He resisted, struggling to breathe.

“Richard Manning, you must breathe deeply or you will lose consciousness,” Fury said.

“Please, Manning,” I managed around my own effort to breathe. “Please.”

He pulled back slightly one last time, and cursed under his breath, then he moved forward, enfolded me into a crushing embrace, and we stepped together into the abyss that was Fury’s heart.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 55: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means  it’s Fury day after a week’s hiatus. It’s still little more than controlled chaos at Grace Manor but hopefully things will get better soon.  If you remember, in the last instalment, Mac had to come to grips with the fact that some members of the family are not among her favorite people. This week an old friend shows up to help out. 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 55: Unexpected Help

 

“Not gonna happen,” Manning said, grabbing my hand and pulling me back to his side so fast that joints popped.

 

“I am inclined to agree with Richard Manning,” Fury said.

 

“Then you better use that big fucking brain of yours to figure out another plan,” Rab said.

 

I gently extricated myself from Manning’s grip. “Fury, can you keep a lock on me onboard the Apocalypse?”

 

1Not Bro 1 Come, 1 Not Bro 1 Go. Be Safe.

 

“That’ll help, if Apocalypse can manage it,” Stanislavsky said.

 

“No!” Manning repeated more fervently. “No. I don’t want you anywhere near that monster and we need you. We need you here.”

 

“The choice is not yours to make,” I said. “Fury, can you keep a lock on me just in case things go south?”

 

“I can, but I would reiterate Richard Manning’s sentiments. We need you here.”

 

“And I need to be here. But if I don’t do this, none of us may survive.”

 

Manning cursed profusely and when he turned to leave the room, I grabbed him and pulled him back with the same enthusiasm he’d used on me. “Don’t you dare walk out. I need you. I need both of you like I’ve never needed you before if we’re going to make this work.”

 

He pulled me into his arm and all but buried me in his embrace. “Jesus, Mac. Please don’t.”

 

“I have to and you’d do the same if the tables were turned. You know you would. It’s the only hope we have of putting an end to all this for good.”

 

The words were barely out of my mouth when Fury spoke. “We have company.”

 

“There’s only one man who would use that channel, and only in a dire emergency.” Manning opened the channel, and Captain Harker’s image filled the screen.

 

“This is Captain Evander Harker onboard the CF Dubrovnik. It grieves me to say that the Dubrovnik got the last distress call from the Svalbard. Damn fine ship. Damn fine crew.” His gaze came to rest on Ina. “I’m sorry for your loss, First Mate Stanislavsky.”

 

 

Stanislavsky only nodded her thanks, and my heart ached as I recalled the crew of the Svalbard and how hard they worked to save the infected indentureds. For her it had to be like losing family.

 

Harker turned his attention back to the rest of us. “Manning.” He offered a nod, and as I came to Manning’s side, a broad smile split his face. “Diana, it’s good to see you.”

 

“And you, sir,” I said, surprised by the emotion that tightened my throat.

 

His gaze settled back on Manning. “I’ve burned my bridges, stolen a ship and made fugitives of my crew — those I didn’t jettison in cryo-pods that is. So if you don’t need my help, I’m going to be very cross.”

 

“Not to mention in a shitload of trouble,” Manning said.

 

“You got that right.”

 

“Harker, the Dubrovnik is like New Vaticana Christmas and Galactic New year all rolled into one,” Manning said. “Pandora Base most definitely has need of an orca class ship. I’ll patch you through to Central Control. They’ll be very glad to hear from you.”

 

“So the fucking cavalry has arrived after all,” Rab said. “We just might get out of this with our asses still attached. How the hell did he know?”

 

“Apocalypse did not block the distress call. That is the only explanation,” Fury said.

 

Bro 3 call help came the response.

 

“Bloody hell! Who’da believed it?” Rab said, scratching his grizzled chin. “The Apocalypse is a sneaky little bastard, isn’t he?”

 

Orca Class Bastard came the reply.

 

“Apparently a sneaky little bastard with a sense of humor,” Manning observed.

 

“Clearly the connection is strong enough, and Abriad Fallon is unaware enough that Apocalypse’ consciousness is bleeding through. How much will he’ll be able to exert might be what sways the battle,” Fury said.

 

“Not the only thing that’ll sway the battle,” Stanislavsky said her gaze locked on me, but she spoke to Fury and Manning. “You need to bond. There’s not much time, and if you’re really going to be the bate, McAllister, then that bond will be essential in more ways than any of us can foresee.”

 

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 43: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury time again. Today’s episode finds Rab and Gerando invited to a dangerous celebration by Gerando’s old man. 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 43: A Dangerous Celebration

“You making any headway?” Rab said. He was pacing, just pacing. Fucking hell, what else could he do while the kid was trying to make contact with the damn ship?

Gerando shook his head without looking up. “Just the rudimentary niceties. The old man’s got lots of blocks and firewalls and gags in place to keep Apocalypse from talking. Fuck! Apocalypse! What kind of name is that for an SNT?”

“I doubt your old man cares much the ship’s feelings.”

They’d both had a shower and changed clothes. Rab figured Fallon senior might be suspicious at what the kid had been up to if he couldn’t be arsed to wash off the blood. Besides that, he didn’t care to see junior get the shit beat out of him again.

“You sure he’s even in there? Your … brother, I mean?”

“Oh he’s there all right. I can feel him. He’s just unable to communicate, other than through experiences that cause him great pain, and in that case, I really don’t know how the old man can’t feel it too. But then I’ve thought for a long time that he isn’t really humanoid.”

Rab couldn’t say he disagreed.

“Abriad Fallon wishes to see you in his study again,” Apocalypse’s computer said.

Before either of them could question, Gerando made a mad rush to the can and Rab cringed at the sound of the poor kid puking again. “Your brother has got to find a better way to communicate with you.”

When Gerando immerged from the bathroom still a little green around the gills, they both stopped in their tracks at the sight of a glass of something just replicated. “To make you feel better, Bro.”

They both froze. “It’s not good, is it, what he wants from us?” Rab asked.

“Drink,” the computer commanded. “You will need to feel better.”

The kid obeyed, nearly gagging with his first effort to drink the stuff.

Need to feel better,” Rab managed. “Jesu and all the angels, I think we’re about to be fucked.”

“You must go now, Bro.”

“Thank you, Bro.” The kid placed a hand on the console and they stepped out into the silent company of the Berserkers.

This time when the door slid open for them to enter, they were surprised to see a small table laden with so much food, Rab wondered if the old fart had invited the whole damned crew for a fucking la-di-da cocktail party. Fallon greeted them with a smile too bright for that bastard’s face. “Come in, come it! Do have a seat.” He nodded to the table. “Something to eat? To drink? Honestly, where have my manners been? It was rude of me not to offer something before. I’m usually a better host than that.”

Rab doubted that very much, and after the things he had experienced so far onboard the Apocalypse, he wasn’t sure he would have trusted the food even if he was hungry, and he’d lost his appetite when the old man shanghaied them aboard.

But Fallon seemed oblivious to their lack of appetite and nibbled with on some foreign hoity toity gourmet shit Rab hand never seen, but he reckoned it probably cost more than he got paid in a whole year.

“Actually, I’ve laid this feast because we have yet more cause to celebrate.”

They didn’t ask, but the fucker told them anyway. “Acting science officer, Markov died a few minutes ago, but not without divulging some astounding and wonderful things.”

The kid went all green again, and hell Rab was feeling like he might puke himself. They both just stood there, like their feet were glued to the floor, but the old man didn’t seem to care.

“This,” he said, pulling a small silver vial out of the pocket of his jacket raising it so that it caught the firelight and sparkled like a New Luxorian diamond, “This is what the Svalbard, what Plague 1 is hiding.”

“Plague 1?” The words were out before Rab could stop them as he broke out in that nasty clammy sweat you always get before you heave your goddamned innards.

 

 

Fallon glanced at Rab and the boy like he’d forgot they were even there. “That was the Svalbard’s destination, believe it or not. And that’s not even the most astonishing part, gentlemen, oh no. Here’s the real reason to celebrate. You see Plague 1is where the Fury, along with Richard Manning and Diana McAllister all are even as we speak. And isn’t it wonderfully convenient that we are aboard the fastest, most advanced ship in the galaxy – other than the Fury, of course,” he said with a little shrug. “That means we can all be there to join the party in no time at all.” He leaned forward across the table his eyes bright like some goddamned wild animal. “Apparently, the good citizens of Plague 1 have developed an antidote for the SNT virus.” He shook the vile at them. “This antidote is not just for the early stages, but for any stage of the disease. Can you imagine?”

Rab gave a low whistle, and the kid swayed on his feet. Jesu Vaticanus, he looked like hell. The ship was really doing a number on him. Too goddamn bad it wasn’t doing the same to his motherfucking old man.

“My interrogators have learned from the Svalbard’s unfortunate acting science officer that we won’t even recognize Plague 1. It’s apparently been transformed to a mecca for runaway indentureds. Stunning, isn’t it?” He waved a hand wildly, “like one of those Edwardian spas in Old Terran England, you know where the people went to take the water.” How the hell would Rab know that? “It would appear that the Svaldbard’s intrepid crew were also in the business of transporting runaway indentureds. Shocking, isn’t it? Goodness, the captain and crew of that ship would have been in so much trouble if the Authority ever found out. Never mind. It seems that any indentured, no matter how badly infected, has but to show up on Plague 1, take the cure and begin a new life on a planet we all thought was dead. Why I was completely beside myself with excitement.”

Rab just fucking bet he was. He knew goddamned well the danger Plague 1 was in and the rest of the galaxy too now that this information was in the hands of Abriad Fallon. With a start, Rab found himself wondering when his sympathies had shifted so completely when his freedom and his fucking life were in the hands of this shit stain of a humanoid. He reckoned the kid was likely having the same thoughts, that and trying to figure out how the hell he was going to get through the rest of their audience without puking on the old man’s shoes.

“You’re sure Diana McAllister is there?” The kid asked.

“Mmm. And the Fury. And of all people, Professor Victor Keen. Why I bet the old rascal was instrumental in both the antidote and the new Plague 1 Spa and Resort. Who knew he would end up being so useful to me.” Fallon took the vial from his pocket again and twirled it between his fingers, eyeballing it like it was a bloody New Luxorian diamond. “Who knows, perhaps it is her blood they’ve used on Plague 1 to formulate the antidote.” When they both just gauped at him, he chuckled all smug-like. “I didn’t just infect dear Diana with the virus purely for the pleasure of it, boy.” He glared at the kid. “Though I wager she would have preferred my … experiments to being given to you as a place to dip your cock.”

The kid’s blushed bright red and fuck, Rab was embarrassed for him. But they both kept their gobs shut. “If you’d been interested in anything other than your cock or becoming a goddamn pilot, you might have noticed that each time I waited a little longer to administer the antidote, and each time I gave her a higher and higher dose of the virus.”

“She nearly died every fucking time you did it!” The kid burst out.

“But you see, that was it. She didn’t. She didn’t die. After the third time I infected her, I never gave her the antidote. I gave her a placebo, and her body fought off the virus on its own. Extraordinary, don’t you think? But then she is the Fury’s compliment, isn’t she?”

That little tidbit of information was an eyeball popper to Rab.

“ And now,” Fallon looked lovingly down at the vial, “now I’ll be able to control all the sources of the antidote.”

There was a knock on the door and a man in an engineering uniform slipped into the room. “Sir, the Ares is prepped and ready.”

“Good, then we can begin.” He made a shooing motion with his hand and the man slipped out.

“Drink, I insist,” he poured each of them a glass of Outer Dalmatian fire wine from a crystal decanter and raised his glass in salute. They both managed little more than a sip and the kid asked. “I’m assuming you have a plan then, one that involves the Ares.”

“Oh yes. Your help will be essential in my plan. In fact I’ll be relying on you to make first contact with both Diana McAllister and the Fury. I think it won’t be nearly as difficult as we all feared it might.”

It was when Rab realized he couldn’t understand what Fallon was saying that he figured they were fucked. When the kid all but fell onto the sofa behind him, he was certain of it. From a long way off, Fallon was talking, and as he dropped into the nearest chair, the wineglass tumbling from his hand and shattering on the floor in a pool that looked like blood. He had just enough wits left to realize Fallon was no longer talking to them, but to two men who now stood over them in the Authority uniforms of the sick bay. He tried to protest, when they came to him and gave him a injection on the inside of his arm, but he was unable to move. He thought he heard Fallon order, “shackle them. Shackle them both.” After that he remembered nothing else.

 

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alonso Darlington recently as he waltzes back into the
Medusa stories, never being far off the written page anyway. I never imagined when I wrote the story of how he and Reese Chambers became lovers that he would figure into so much more than a simple M/M romance novella. As it turned out, Alonso and Reese’s tale was only the beginning.

 

Before I understood who he really was, who he worked for and where his tale would lead me, I was invited for a strange visit to his home in the remote part of the Lakeland fells, where he warned me to hold on to my hat. The ride was about to get wild. That being said, I decided that under the circumstances it was time to share that encounter with you again.

 

 

 

1st Entry

 

I’ve debated long and hard about posting the details of my encounter with Alonso Darlington. But ultimately the need to share, the need to bring details of this encounter to light, has overcame my fear that readers might think I’m a nutcase and the even bigger fear of what Alonso’s response to my sharing might be.

 

When I wrote the strange erotic tale of Alonso Darlington and Reese Chambers as a story to be published in the Brit Boys: On Boys Book Bundle, I had no idea what a rabbit hole it would send me down. It was just an interesting sexy story, made more so by the location and the fact that Alonso Darlington was … is a vampire.

 

This being the case, Imagine my surprise when I received an invitation from High View Manor to meet Alonso Darlington in person. I thought I had perhaps spent too much time in my own imagination. I even considered seeing my doctor. But when the first class plane ticket arrived to Manchester, I went. I maybe shouldn’t have, but since I had written Alonso’s story, it seemed that I should meet the man in person.

 

I arrived in Manchester with the sun setting in the West. The rabbit hole feel of my first encounter with the man became even more vivid when I was picked up at the airport in a black Land Rover with darkly tinted windows kitted out to compete with any limo I’d ever seen. The driver handed me a heavy winter parka and helped me into the back seat, where I found a basket containing freshly baked bread, cheese, meat, fruit, wine and bottled water. I drank the water, but was way too nervous to eat anything, and I certainly wasn’t going to meet Alonso Darlington tipsy from alcohol.

 

I couldn’t help but feel intimations of Anne Rice as the woman I know only as Talia led me through the renovated areas of High View manor house and out into the Cumbrian chill, down to the night garden Reese Chambers has been landscaping for Darlington. I knew better than to offer Talia a handshake. The woman’s a succubus and she’s a close friend to Darlington – his familiar, I believe is the term. I don’t’ know much about her, and frankly I was nervous enough without losing my wit or my virtue to a sexy succubus. Even her gaze felt way too intimate. The sooner I could get away from her, the better.

 

She led me as far as the stone steps descending into the garden, then nodded to where Alonso Darlington sat on the slate bench with his back to me. She offered me a smile that looked like she might be as likely to consider me dinner as Alonso might, then she left. For a second I stood taking in the sky awash with stars and the dark outlines of the fells all around, giving myself a chance to stop trembling. It didn’t help. It was a rare, clear night, and there was no wind, for which I was thankful because it was still damn cold that high in the Cumbrian fells. I was extremely glad for the coat the driver had given me and a bit amazed that it fit so well. I have broad shoulders, and getting a winter coat to fit is always an ordeal. With the heavy Northface jacket pulled tightly around me, I took a deep breath and descended the steps, just as Darlington stood and turned to greet me.

 

How can I explain the first time I saw him face to face? How is it possible that I wanted to freeze to the spot like the stone statuary around me, while at the same time, I wanted to rush down the steps, allow him to embrace me, and offer him my neck. How could anyone ever look at the man and think him ordinary? How could Reese Chambers have possibly resisted Alonso Darlington? I don’t remember the rest of the descent into the garden. The next thing I remembered was Darlington extending his hand to me.

 

‘Ms Grace, it’s a pleasure. Welcome to High View.’ His hand was large, and I took  it without question, feeling a little shiver at the unexpected warmth of his skin, wondering if he had fed recently, if that was the cause for the warmth that shouldn’t be there in the Cumbrian chill. That should have been a relief, but instead it served as a reminder that I was in the presence of an alpha predator, and while he loved Reese and Talia was his occasional lover, I might very well be nothing more than the midnight snack.

 

Of course he sensed my nerves. I mean really, I couldn’t hide them no matter how badly I wanted to. He leaned close to me and smiled wickedly. ‘Don’t worry. I won’t bite, unless of course you want me too.’

 

God, it’s embarrassing to say, but I might have given just the slightest bit of a yelp as I pulled my hand away, a bit quicker than I intended. Not a wise thing to do with a predator, I knew. But then I wasn’t at my best at that moment.

 

‘Thank you,’ I croaked. ‘I’ll keep that in mind.’ Then I blurted out. ‘Why did you invite me, Mr Darlington? I know you don’t take many visitors, especially not … like me.’

 

His laughter runs up my spine like the feel of soft fur on bare flesh. He nodded me to sit, then sat down next to me on the bench.  ‘Like you, Ms Grace? You mean a writer of erotic fiction? A blogger? A dreamer? A woman who lives most of her life in her head making up stories?’ He laughed again, and I shivered, but not from cold. ‘A woman who has a very … imaginative fantasy life?’

 

Before I could respond, he moved closer to me so quickly and with so little effort that, though I knew he’d done it, I didn’t know how. I only knew that it was definitely not a movement an ordinary person might make. Strangely, I was torn between scooting away, or scooting closer. ‘May I call you K D?’ he asked. ‘Certainly I would expect to be on a first name basis with anyone who knows me as well as you think you do.’ It was a damn good thing I was sitting because I was certain my knees wouldn’t have supported me if I weren’t. He continued. ‘I would say you’re probably even more of a recluse than I am, and I do apologise for the inconvenience of my invitation. I hope that the journey wasn’t too loathsome for you.’ He bowed his head to me slightly and I had the surprising urge to reach out and run my fingers over his silky dark hair. The predator image flooded my mind again and I did scoot back, just a little, and my heart sped up more than a little. Alonso’s knowing smile reminded me that he could hear the heart beating in my chest, he could sense the movement of my blood in my veins. I shiver thinking of everything about me that he might be able to sense, and then I forced my attention back to what he was saying. ‘Really, K D, why shouldn’t I be anxious to see you?’ His eyes were suddenly obsidian bright, and colder than the night air around us.  ‘After all, you’ve already told everyone who I am. What I am.’

 

Landscapesis a fictional story,’ I managed, unable to keep the trembling of my body from manifesting in my voice. ‘Mr Darlington, I –’

 

‘Alonso,’ he corrected me with a smile that was so friendly and inviting that I might have thought him just being hospitable if the circumstances had been different. ‘It’s Alonso. After all, we keep no secrets here, Do we, K D?’

 

‘I didn’t know you were real,’ I continued as quickly as I could, afraid I’d lose my courage, afraid I might actually do something stupid like try to run. ‘Believe me, everything I wrote, everything I published, it came from my head, from my imagination, from nowhere else. I would never –’

 

He leaned forward and shoved the hair away from my neck so quickly that I had no time to do more than gasp. My heart was beating way too fast and I could smell the terror rising in a cold damp sweat against my skin. He was going to take me. Right then and there, and no one would know the difference. My husband had been away in South Africa when Alonso’s invitation had come, and though I had emailed him, he had no more idea than I’d had as to where High View actually was, and he wasn’t due home for another ten days. I had told no one else because who the hell would believe me?

 

‘You wrote the story, K D,’ he whispered against my ear. ‘Surely you know I have ways of putting ideas in your head, thoughts,’ his mouth brushed my earlobe and gooseflesh rose along my nape, ‘fantasies.’

 

By that point in our encounter, things had become a bit vague. To my embarrassment, I confess it could have been fear. ‘Talia?’ I managed in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a frightened child. ‘Did you send her to me?’ I could feel panic rising. Surely not. Surely if he had, I would have remembered something.

 

He only chuckled softly, and stroked the tender spot behind my ear with the thick of his thumb. ‘Now why would I have done that, K D?’ I felt his warm lips against my throat, and I’m embarrassed to say that there was suddenly another feeling coexisting with the terror and the panic. ‘I’m not going to hurt you. But we do need to talk. We do need to come to an understanding, and I will keep you here until we do.’ And Christ! He actually ran his tongue up along that hammering pulse point where the blood runs so close to the surface, and I remember looking up and thinking I’d never seen such a beautiful sky.

 

 
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