Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending in which Kresho and Ori work things out. As I mentioned, I am now attempting to post episodes at lengths that will be better suited for the flow of the story and enhance your reading pleasure. Some will be slightly shorter, some will be longer. This is especially true as we draw nearer the end of the novel. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!
For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.
Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ship Series
On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felish, 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 75: SNT Reconciliation
Kresho woke up on his bed with his cheek plastered to his pillow and very little memory of how he got there. He did remember returning to the Compass after his time with Len and Dragon, feeling an incredible sense of relief that Len had forgiven him, that she now knew the truth of her birth and why she had been so well suited for Dragon. He should have been elated, he should have been as happy as everyone else was, but he just felt empty. He’d replicated a bottle of New Hibernian rot gut, and the last thing he remembered was a moment of clarity, of a choice that had to be made. One he’d been putting off for a long time now. On his bedside table a chilled glass of water appeared, and he drank it back, only to have it replaced instantly with an orange drink he recognized immediately as one of Ori’s electrolyte formulas. “You are dehydrated,” she said when he only stared at it. He knew she would not go away until he drank it back. At least when they were on the Compass together, he had her undivided attention, and he was too goddamned needy not to take full advantage he supposed. So he drank back that glass, hoping he could hold it down, glaring at her all the while, well it was an attempted glare. Any movement of his face hurt like hell in his hangover condition.
“There. That’s better isn’t it?”
“Fuck you,” he mumbled, lowering himself gingerly back onto the bed.
When she didn’t leave, he groaned and pulled himself up, all but falling out of bed he stumbled to the shower to wash the stink of his bender off. He leaned against the wall while the cool water sluiced over his heated skin.
“You were too exhausted to finish the bottle,” she said. It had taken him awhile, but he’d gotten used to her speaking to him when he was in the shower. In the early days, she had often joined him, and fuck him if his skin still didn’t tingle with the memory of her touch, a touch she’d not offered in a long time.”
“You have not asked me,” came her quiet reply.
“After awhile even I had enough pride to stop begging,” he said, and he felt her flinch. Strangely it gave him no satisfaction. “Look,” he leaned his head against the wall and swallowed hard, strangely not to keep from puking, but just to hold onto his emotions, emotions he wasn’t willing to vent naked and vulnerable in the shower, “just let me get through the shower and get dressed, and then we can talk.”
“Yes,” the reply was tight and if he didn’t know better, he would almost think wounded. “We need to talk about the elephant in the living room.” She was at least as good at ancient Terran slang as he was. He felt her withdraw, and he finished his shower, taking his time to gather his thoughts, giving himself space to prepare for something he would never be prepared for, but neither could he go on with things like they were.”
Once he was dressed, he made the decision to climb down the laddered shaft into the core chamber of the Compass. After a few minutes that felt like an eternity, he felt her cautious approach.
“Kresho? There are far more comfortable places for us to meet than here.”
“For us to meet,” his attempt to laugh turned bitter and shriveled in his chest. “Perhaps I should have made an appointment.”
Her silence lasted long enough that had she been humanoid, he would have thought she’d left him in a huff. But she wasn’t humanoid, and when she spoke, her voice was maddeningly calm. “You are the one who sent me away when I came to you.”
“I’m leaving,” He blurt out. That hadn’t been the plan, but maybe it was easier this way.
“What do you mean you’re leaving? You’re my compliment?” There was that ridiculously calm voice again.
“Am I? Am I really? I’m just the piss poor substitute for the compliment you lost, and for the one that now belongs to your brother. You must have been so disappointed when you turned up too late to have her for yourself.”
When there was another silence just long enough to make him think she really didn’t give a shit, he continued. “I’ve been grooming Belina to take over the station for a long time now. She’s the best damned administrator on Vodni, far better at it than I am. And Farrukh knows as much about running the science department as I do, and he’s the chief expert on the synth-axe. You don’t need me. Anyone would do. I’m sure I could get a position on Dubrovnik’s science team. They could use all the help they could get.”
The sudden wave of static in the room was damn near enough to make his hair stand on end as it moved over his skin raising goose bumps and making his scalp tingle. “You are not Dubrovnik’s compliment. He doesn’t need a compliment. You are my compliment, and no one else’s,” she exploded with anger he had never felt from her in all their time together. It only served to fan his own anger.
“You fucking whored me out to Tenad Fallon like I was a goddamned piece of meat.”
“I thought that’s what you wanted, goddamn you! The way you looked at her, the way your pulse raced and the way she stiffened your cock when I no longer did.”
“Jesus, Ori, I’m a fucking male, and how the hell would you know if my cock was stiff for you when you kept me at arm’s length?”
“Do you have any idea how close I came to blowing that woman out her own goddamned airlock for touching you, for having you when you never came to me anymore. And I could have fucking done it easily enough even on her fancy Jaeger. Do you think I would have ever put you at risk under any circumstances? You are mine, and I protect my own.”
He could barely breathe beneath the weight of her anger, her … emotion. But he had anger of his own, plenty of it! “Then fucking treat me like it, not like I’m some interchangeable tool to use up and then replace when you’re done!”
“You were the one who pushed me away, who left me in the cold. I didn’t know what you wanted, and you wouldn’t tell me. All you ever wanted seemed to be to lose yourself in running the station, as though I wouldn’t have blown up the whole damn thing had I known that it would cost me you, had I known that you would relegate me to the subfloors of the station to wait for your visits, as though I were nothing more than a piece of machinery you deigned to check on now and then. After you regained your memory, when you remembered Janesha, when you remembered you loved her, I didn’t matter anymore.”
He sat down hard on the catwalk around the core of the Compass as though the breath had been knocked out of him. “Jesu Vati, Ori! That’s what you thought? I thought I was responsible for the death of the woman I loved, and worse yet, for the death of her daughter who I swore to protect. I thought … I thought I wasn’t …” The words wouldn’t come, and his breath wouldn’t come, and the backs of his eyes stung. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t fucking breathe!
“You thought you weren’t worthy?” And there it was. In five words Ori gutted him and left him gasping and blinking back tears. She didn’t give him a chance to respond. “I love you, Kresho Ivanovic. I love you and only you, and I have loved you from the moment I saw how hard you fought for your life, how hard you fought to be what I needed you to be. When I found out about Lenore, it was always my plan that she should be a companion for Dragon, but I swear to you I never wanted anyone else but you. It was you I loved, and it is you I still love. But you kept pushing me away until I decided to give you what you wanted.”
“For Dragon? You wanted Lenore for Dragon?” He managed around the ache in his chest that threatened to crush his ribcage.
“He’s my fucking brother!” She said, Ori, who never cursed, never got upset. He had no idea she was even capable of such emotions. “Of course I wanted him to have a companion. I wanted him to heal, Kresho. I didn’t know that anyone else of my kind had survived. I only hoped, but Dragon, Dragon was all I had left of my family. Don’t you understand how badly I wanted him, needed him to heal, how badly I wanted you to heal?” There was a moment of silence when he could almost hear her choosing her words carefully, something he had heard her do so many times, and it always meant he probably wouldn’t like what she was about to say. He braced for it.
“Kresho, I needed you to heal me. Did you never understand that in all this time we were together? I still need you to heal me. Every day since you got your memory back and distanced yourself from me I have needed you to heal me, perhaps even more so than ever. I do not want you to leave me, Kresho. I am sorry if I did not know how to handle your pain, but how did you expect me to know what you needed when you wouldn’t tell me, and my only other experience of a humanoid love was taken from me and destroyed before my eyes by the Authority. I was young still, Kresho. I was so very young and inexperienced. We all were. Did you really think I had brought into our relationship a vast wisdom and experience?”
As he hadn’t done in a very long time, Kresho reached out his hand, and felt the construct of cheek and lips beneath his fingertips, felt the once familiar physical form she had created for him to hold him, to comfort him back when he was barely alive, back when he hurt all the time, back when she first made love to him so very, very gently because he was so fucking fragile, but he needed her.
“And I needed you, Kresho. I am an SNT. My physical desires are at least as strong as yours, and you have left me needing for far too long.”
“Then you take me to your heart and you keep me there,” he said. “Don’t leave me out in the cold.”
“Then you take me to your heart, Kresho, and stop relegating me to the subfloors. I am Vodni Station, the heart of it is my heart, and you are that heart, so either you let me in and hold me close or you let me go. Our bond is not a one-way street, and if you think I don’t need you then you really don’t understand that bond at all, and you an SNT scientist. I love you and only you, Kresho, and I would do anything for you, so come back to my heart and take me back to yours.”
He leaned forward and found her mouth yielding and ready, tongue sweeping between his lips as he returned the favor. He pulled away just enough to speak. “I’ve never loved anyone else since our bonding, Ori. It’s you. It’s always been you. And I’m sorry I didn’t know how to let you in, but I do now. I promise you I do now.”
The female construct, that familiar womanly shape that she became just for him, that interface for their love between ship and humanoid moved against him, hands opening his shirt and slipping it off over his shoulders to thumb his nipples until they were bead-hard and sensitive enough that he felt her caress clear into his balls. The she moved forward, pressing full breasts against his bare chest, and Jesu Vati how he’d missed her, how he’d missed the love they had shared with such joyous abandon. “You are my heart, Ori, and all this time I’ve been living without it.” He trailed kissed with teeth and tongue down the length of her throat and across her collar bone and cupped her breasts burying his face in the deep valley between. He sighed as he took in the humanoid scent that was like no other scent, that almost magical blending of machine and biology, intuitive, sensitive and oh so responsive to his own needs. She all but purred as she went to work on his trousers opening them and shoving them roughly down over his hips until he could feel the rough metal of the catwalk against his buttocks. Even that she molded, softened, changed just enough that it didn’t bruise or abrade. Then she cupped his balls and ran a strong fisted hand up the length of his shaft and he cried out. “Fuck, Ori, you keep that up and I’ll go off like a rocket.”
Her laugh was low, gravelly, wicked. “And then I’ll give you a couple of minutes and you’ll be ready for me to ride. I will ride you, Kresho, I will ride your cock until you give me exactly what I want, until you fuck me incoherent.”
It was his turn to laugh, as he pushed her hands aside and reached between her thighs to finger her open causing her to gasp and suck on her bottom lip as she shifted against his tweaking and stroking. “And what am I going to do with an incoherent SNT? You know I love your brains as well as your pussy.”
“You’re the SNT scientist. I’m sure you’ll figure you’ll know what to do.”
“I’ll take that challenge.” He grabbed her hips and pulled her down onto his cock, and her tight slippery grip was like New Vaticana paradise. “Fuck, I’ve missed you, Ori! I’ve missed you so much.” Those were the last words either of them spoke for a very long time.
The next time he woke on his bed, he wasn’t alone. Ori, his beautiful Ori, was wrapped around him holding him close. He was still sheathed up inside her. He kissed the top of her head and sighed.
She all but purred and her hips shifted, and her body tightened. “Okay, just one more time, Kresho, then we have to get down to the Dust Bowl. I believe Arji Finkle has reserved his back room for our meeting.”
“Mmm. And aren’t I just looking forward to tossing back a few pints of that gourmet beer of his.”
“I hear his brew is talked about in hushed tones all across the Taklamakan System,” she replied, shifting and undulating against him as he lazily caressed her ass, pulling her closer. “I’m sure you can’t wait.” She bit his ear causing him to surge inside her. God how he’d missed this.
“As have I my love,” she replied. “As have I.” And then she made him come again.