Yesterday was Friday, which means Fury is a day late this week, and I do apologize, but hacking happened yesterday and major plumbing issues happened through Wednesday, so it’s been a wild ride this week. All sorted now at Grace Manor, so I did finally manage another episode of Piloting Fury. If you remember, in the last instalment, Mac got a loud and clear reminder that she is very much a part of Fury’s family. This week Mac has to come to grips with the fact that some members of the family are not among her favorite people. 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 54: Uncomfortable Allies
This time when I returned to Fury, it wasn’t Manning who greeted me. It was Fury, and his greeting was cautious, anxious.
“I’m sorry.” We both spoke at the same time, and I would have laughed if I could have managed it, but the embrace I felt was a tight bear hug.
“Diana Mac, I need you. I’ve always needed you. I need you now and I will need you in the future, if there is one.
“I didn’t understand, Fury. There’s so much about being your compliment that I don’t understand, and then when I saw Gerando, when you ‘tranned him onboard, all I could do was remember what he did to me. I couldn’t think beyond that. I’m so sorry. Even Apocalypse knows that my place is with you.”
“You are 1 Not Bro 1.” I could almost hear the smile in Fury’s voice. “I could not imagine that one who is so used in such abominable ways, one barely allowed the tiniest bit of consciousness would be so empathetic.”
“Stanislavsky tapped me into your sub processor. Fury if you could tap into mine it would have been saying the same thing. I need you, Fury. I need you and I’m sorry.”
“If we were bonded we would not need anyone’s help for such a simple thing. But you must know, Diana Mac, that I also do not know how to behave with you. While I have learned to be with Richard Manning and grown to love him, he was not, has never been a substitute for you. Ina Stanislavsky has offered herself to me as compliment, and she would be a wonderful compliment, but just not for me. You are for me, Diana Mac. Only you, and I would fervently ask that we could be bonded as soon as possible.”
“I want that, Fury. I want that very much. If you had told me earlier, if I had known, we would have already bonded, in so many ways, I feel we already are.”
“Then do it already,” came Manning’s voice over the com. “You two are not the only ones involved in this little dance.”
“Glad you approve,” I said, fighting back giddiness that came from being close to my two men where I belonged.
“I am sorry, Diana Mac, but Richard Manning is with Gerando Fallon and Leo Rab.”
“It’s all right,” I said, and I really meant it. “How are they?”
“Leo Rab is recovering nicely, but Gerando Fallon is not. I do not know why.”
Fix Bro 2! Came the message on the screen. Plz fix bro 2. Bro 2 new need be. Plz fix.
“Apocalypse senses Fallon’s condition?” I asked.
“Just as I do, Diana Mac.” I sensed the need in his voice, the need for me to understand.
“Then what can we do? What can I do?”
“Perhaps you could talk to him.”
When I didn’t respond immediately. The message came immediately on the screen.
1 Not Bro 1 plz fix Bro 2!
A knot tightened in my chest and suddenly there didn’t seem to be enough oxygen in the cabin.
“Diana Mac, I will not compel you to do what you feel you cannot.”
“I can,” I managed around the tightness in my chest, “if you and Manning will help me.”
“You know that we will.”
I took the lift down to the cargo bay and the room that had been set aside for humanoid cargo sensing Fury close to me, possessive and protective. “I will be as close as your own breath,” he said.
The door slid open before I could press the button and Manning, who had been sitting on a chair next to Gerando’s bed came to me and folded me close. “I’m glad you’re here.” Then he kissed me as possessively as I felt Fury’s presence. “Back where you belong.” Then he glanced over at the bed.
I’m not sure I would have recognized Gerando if I hadn’t known it was him, so ravaged was he by the virus. He lay on his back with his eyes closed, his breathing wheezed in and out of his lungs with tremendous effort. It was clear he was not sleeping, only struggling to cope with the pain, pain I remembered only too well.
I approached the bed having my own struggles to breathe. “Your brothers have asked me to help you. I don’t know what I can do. You’ve been given the antidote. It seems to me that the rest is up to you.”
He opened his eyes and, with an effort turned his head enough to look up at me. “You know what it feels like.”
My gut clenched and I swallowed bile. “I know.”
“You want me to die? That’s what you should want,” he added.
“You don’t get to tell me what I should and shouldn’t want, not here, not on my own ship.” I felt Fury’s response to those words like a caress.
For a moment that seemed like an eternity he studied me with fevered eyes. I didn’t look away, but he did. Then he made a pained effort to swallow.
“I hated you because of him,” he forced the words through his swollen throat.
“Because of your father? Well then the feeling was mutual. I didn’t like either of you very much.”
“Not because of my father. Because of Fury. You were born for him I was born for no one.”
“So you hurt me.”
He licked cracked lips and nodded.
“I hurt you and I wanted you at the same time.” I felt both of my men bristle at his words, and their protective presence became still stronger, as though they were building a wall around me.
I took the glass of water from the bedside table, then eased him up enough that he could sip. And when he was finished, I sat the glass aside and settled him back into the bed.
“Because of Fury, I won’t hate you. If he believes you’re worth saving, if both your brothers believe you’re worth saving, then I’ll trust their judgment. You need to do the same because Apocalypse will need all of us, if he’s going to be able to defy your father’s wishes, and at the moment, you know him better than anyone.”
To my surprise, he raised himself on one elbow. “There are restraints on him, restraints that can be loosened by blood connections.
I moved to plump his pillows so he could be a little more upright.
“How do you know this,” Fury asked.
Before he could answer, he broke into a coughing fit that racked his whole body. When he was finished, all he could do was lie back and catch his breath. It was Rab who spoke.
“The kid suspected. His DNA matches Apocalypse’s. Dumb bastard had to get the shit beat out of him by his old man to test his theory. Turns out he was spot-on.”
“We couldn’t have imagined that Apocalypse could communicate with us.” Fallon managed, struggling for breath. “I figure he’s cloned from Fury because the only one who knew the in vitro method that was used to create Fury and you, McAllister, was Dr. Keen. I knew about Fury’s birth, and I hacked the old man’s system a long time ago. That’s how I learned his sperm was used for Fury.” He had another bout of coughing.
“Kid knows his SNTs,” Rab said. The concern in his eyes for Fallon surprised me.
“Here,” I said, helping Fallon to sit again and giving him a drink the color of dirty water. “This helped me when I was infected and coughing my lungs out.”
He drank it, never taking his eyes off me.
“Ina Stanislavsky is approaching,” Fury said
1 Not Bro 3 fix Bro 2, came Apocalypse’ response on the screen in the make-shift sick bay.
Stanislavsky let herself in and looked up at the message on the screen, and without greeting anyone, she typed. 1 Not Bro 3 maybe Fix Bro 3
We all watched as the message came back immediately No Fix Bro 3, Bro 3 ½ Broke.
Bro 3 not ½ Broke. Bro 3 not finished, Stanislavsky typed. Then she turned to us, moving to take Fallon’s wrist in her hand to take his pulse the old fashioned way. “Actually the same thing that will help you, Gerando, will help Apocalypse as well, at least that’s what Vic thinks, and I agree.”
“And what exactly might that be,” Manning asked.
“Material from Fury’s biological core.” She released Gerando’s wrist and turned her attention to the medical bag belted around her hip. “That mix of technology and biology might just do the trick.”
“It makes sense,” Fury said. “Certainly we are all compatible.”
“Vic took samples from your biological core earlier today, Fury, as he always does when you’re at Pandora Base and he’s got time to check you out.” She pulled out a syringe full of a shiny liquid that looked almost like quick silver. She turned her full attention to Gerando, arranging his arm so that she had access to the veins on the inside near his elbow. “If you weren’t compatible, the biological soup from an SNT would kill you without days and weeks of treatments so that your body wouldn’t reject it. Every candidate for an SNT compliment has to do just that in order to assure the compatibility, except for Fury and McAllister.”
“I know,” he said. “I’ve undergone the treatments. I was training to be a compliment when … everything happened.”
That got everyone’s attention. If Gerando noticed, he didn’t say anything just offered up his arm and laid back on the pillow. “If I remember right, this hurts like a sonovabitch.”
We all watched as Stanislavsky emptied the contents of the syringe into Fallon’s arm. It was hard to tell if he were in any more pain when his color was already grey and his body ravaged with pain.
“Someone mind saying how the hell we’re going to get the nanites onboard the Apocalypse,” Rab spoke up.
As Stanislavsky placed a pad over the wound, Gerando spoke between barely parted lips. “Inside me.”
“Fucking hell, you can’t even stand up,” Rab said.
“Oh he will be able to,” Fury said. “If my nanites could heal Richard Manning, they can certainly finish the job the antidote has begun on Gerando Fallon, especially since he already contains the necessary antigens.”
“Then there’s the problem of getting him onboard.” I said.
Gerando forced his way up onto on elbow and turned his gaze on me. “That won’t be a problem if you’ll come with me, McAllister.”
“As the bate.” Even as I said it my knees went weak, and it became hard to breathe. “I’m what Fallon’s wanted all along.”