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Piloting Fury Part 42: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury day. In today’s episode, Fury and his crew return to Pandora Base for the answers Mac needs. 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 42: Pandora Base Revisited

 

The rendezvous with the Sumerians went even better than we’d hoped. We were able to sell both the whiskey and the oil for premium prices, then we celebrated. Fury created a celebratory meals and the three of us danced to ancient Terran rock and roll music. We ended up on the floor of the observation deck where there was room for the rough and tumble that quickly became a part of our lovemaking.

During the long flight back to Pandora Base, we fell into a routine that felt as though we had always been together. Fury said it was because we were always intended to be together. Who knew a ship could be such a romantic? As we drew nearer to Pandora Base, I became more and more nervous about what lay ahead. All my life I had wanted answers to questions, and never in my wildest dreams did I expect the answers I had gotten up until now. Nor had I expected that it would be Victor Keen waiting at Pandora Base who would give me the rest of those answers.

As we settled into orbit above Pandora Base, I was surprised when it was Keen who appeared on the view screen. “Welcome back. Hopefully you’ll have more hospitable conditions this time than you did last. Diana, I hear you did some damn fine piloting. Richard, I hear you did some damn fine sleeping.”

Manning offered a lazy smile. “Never miss an opportunity, that’s what I say.”

“Wise advice.” I didn’t miss that Keen held Manning in a scrutinizing gaze until Manning cleared his throat and looked away. “Glad you’re doing okay,” the professor said at last. Then, to my surprise, he turned his attention to the ship. “Fury I need you in space dock this time, if you don’t mind.”

“I didn’t even know Pandora Base had a space dock,” I said.

“You gotta remember, mol-tran’s illegal. Whatever shipments of supplies the Authority sent into Plague 1 had to dock to unload their cargo, which was then shuttled down. It was a job nobody really wanted. Nobody wanted to be reminded of how close they all were to the shackle. Eventually, they just stopped bothering with anything but automated drones, and even then the ones they sent weren’t much more than junk. If they arrived, Pandora Base got supplies, if they didn’t, no one was the wiser. Most arrived, actually, but not many returned.” Manning offered a wicked smile. “Keen and his crew have gotten to be experts at salvage, and they made friends with a lot of smugglers.” He laid a hand on his chest. “Plague 1 is a pretty safe for all of us, since no Authority ships have docked here for more than five years.

“Is it unusual,” I asked, when the docking crew contacted us for clearance. “Docking Fury, I mean.”

“Not unusual, no,” Manning said, then he added with an affectionate slap against a bulkhead, “Keen’s Fury’s father.”

“Didn’t see that coming,” I said.

“Neither did Fury’s mother,” Manning joked.

Fury gave Manning the mental equivalent of the middle finger and said to me, “I told you that I was birthed from sperm and egg just as you were.”

“Never could see the resemblance,” Manning said. “Personally I think it was really the milk man, you know what with Keen working long hours, leaving the missus at home alone. It happens.”

“I suppose it is possible,” Fury observed, and then he asked, “do you believe that perhaps this milk man had superior genetic makeup to that of Dr. Keen?”

“No, but perhaps he probably had a better developed sense of humor,” Manning replied with a twitch of a smile.

Fury made a rather rude sound with his vocal processors, and I found myself smiling at the degree of adolescent behavior that passed between these two, so incongruous with their tenderness toward each other and their stunning capacities for passion.

 

 

As I maneuvered Fury into space dock and eased back on the thrusters, my nerves must have been obvious in spite of my steady hand at the controls because Fury’s embrace was almost as obvious as the way Manning kept glancing over at me like he was afraid I might explode.

“Do not worry, Diana Mac, it will be all right,” Fury said. “You have been through the worst, and now the truth will be as a gift”

“He’s right,” Manning said. “Keen’s a good man. And he’s got answers you’ve waited most of your life for.”

While all that was true, I couldn’t help feeling like I should brace for impact.

I was surprised to find that when we opened the docking bay door, Keen was waiting. He gave Manning a one armed hug and a slap on the back, then offered me a polite smile.

“He nodded down to the bag in his hand that looked like a replica of something carried by an ancient Terran medical doctor. “Time for Fury’s check-up.”

“As you are well aware, Dr. Keen, I am self regulating and self-healing. There is little need for a check-up.”

Manning nudged me in the ribs with an elbow. “Typical father and son. Aren’t they just the cutest?”

“I think I can safely speak for both the doctor and myself when I say, Fuck you, Richard Manning,” Fury said with all the politeness and even timber we’d come to expect from him.

Keen raised an eyebrow at Manning. “Richard, you’re a bad influence.”

Manning just chuckled. “There are just parts of the boy’s training that a father can’t do. What can I say?”

“While I’m sure that’s true, there are modifications and upgrades that a reprobate smuggler can’t make, and that’s why I’m here. I have a new injection of modified nano cells that may make molecular adjustments easier and faster, and they may also help ease your condition, Richard.”

Whatever passed between them, it immediately became clear Manning did not want me in on, and he changed the subject. “Do you think Mac here can get a proper tour this time?”

“Ina should be here any second. She’s looking forward to doing the honors.”

“Wait a minute. I’m the pilot, shouldn’t I be in on this little upgrade?” I looked from one of them to the other and Manning’s jaw looked like it was made of iron.

“It’s not necessary, Diana.” Keen said without taking his eyes off Manning. “I’ll talk you through the upgrades if you want, but really there’s no need. You’ll know what they are immediately once you reconnect.”

“Go,” Manning said. “You’ll be bored if you stay, and I …” he forced a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “I could use a little male bonding time.”

“By all means,” I said, trying not to feel left out and fobbed off on Ina Stanislovski, who would have been my last choice of a tour guide. But it was clear, for whatever reason, Manning didn’t want me onboard while these modifications were being made, and Fury didn’t seem too keen on it either. Whatever was happening, it didn’t include me.

Just as things were getting uncomfortable, Stanislovski showed up and made it worse. She offered me a cool kiss on both cheeks like we were at some fancy tearoom in Britannia Epsilon. “Good to see you again, McAllister,” she lied.

“And you,” I lied back.

She may have spoken to me, but her focus was clearly on Manning before I could even make an attempt at small talk. “Richard, how are you?” She pulled him into an embrace that was way more than that of a casual acquaintance and, even though Fury had told me that she felt responsible for Manning and for him nearly dying once, I still couldn’t fight back the jealousy when Manning returned her embrace like she was a long lost lover. When I was just about to suggest they get a goddamned room, she pulled away and gave him the once-over, this time checking him with her professional eye.

“Jesus, Ina, I’m fine. Stop looking at me like I’m a fucking plague case.”

It didn’t stop her looking though, not until she was satisfied that he was fine, then she took a deep breath and offered me a smile that she clearly had to work at making stick. “Well shall we then, McAllister? I think you’re going to find Pandora Base fascinating.” While that might be true, I couldn’t help feeling that we both wished anyone else in the whole damn galaxy was giving me the grand tour other than Ina Stanislovski.

“Mac, wait.” As we turned to go, Manning scooped me into his arms and gave me a kiss that could have melted the planet’s ice with its heat. He fisted his fingers in my hair and made sure the only thing closer to me than his body was my think layer of clothing. “Don’t go too far,” he whispered against my mouth as he pulled away, “Fury and I’ll both be needing you back onboard in a few hours.” He’d made damn sure I knew what for. I was the only one who heard, and felt, Fury’s affirmation of that fact, and suddenly it wasn’t nearly so hard to leave the space dock with Ina Stanislovski.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 41: Brand New KDG Serial

Once again, we’re back on schedule! It’s Friday, which means it’s Fury day. In today’s episode of Fury, Gerando makes an astounding discovery. 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 41: Long Lost Family

Once they were in the corridor and junior could manage enough breath to speak, he said, “I’m gonna need the auto doc.” After that they both kept their mouths shut while the two berserkers marched them back to their quarters. Rab figured it was a pretty safe bet that they were still only just outside the door. They were as much prisoners as the poor bastard in the dungeon.

“Get me some water, would you?”

Rab was surprised by the request. After what they’d just seen, he figured there wasn’t enough whiskey onboard the Apocalypse to make either of them feel better.

“Why the fuck did you do that, you stupid twit? You’re goddamn lucky your old man didn’t kill you.”

The kid stepped into the bathroom and Rab heard him rinsing his bloodied mouth and spitting in the sink.

“Oh he won’t kill me, at least not yet. He’s having way too much fun toying with me.”

“Vaticana Jesu in a shackle, where the hell do monsters like him come from?”

“Been asking myself that my whole life.” There was no humor in the kid’s voice. “Then I look in the mirror and I have a pretty good idea.”

What the kid got up to next left Rab gaping in confusion. From the autodoc’s medical replicator, he ordered up several swabs and ran one around the inside of his cheek, then he placed it on a slide and slipped it into the micro analyzer and closed the tray.

“What the fuck?” Rab said, stepping closer and looking over his shoulder. “Is that a goddamned paternity scan?”

“That’s exactly what it is.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Oh it’s not for me. I know I’m Abriad Fallon’s bastard. He always has the whores he knocked up tested to make sure he isn’t about to get saddled with raising someone else’s brat. Never married any of them, never had a legitimate Fallon, but he’s got enough bastards to populate a small moon, and those are just the ones he knows about. The smart women who find themselves with a little surprise growing in their belly from the old man get as far away from him as they can and make sure no one ever suspected their brats might be Fallon’s.” He took a fine metal tool and cleaned his father’s blood and skin tissue from under his nails. “I wasn’t that lucky,” He said quietly. Then he repeated the process with the micro-analyzer. When the analysis matched, he said without enthusiasm, “see. Told you. Chip off the old block. Sad to say, no matter how many times I run the test, the results will always be the same. That was the control. What?” he said when Rab blew out a long low whistle of surprise, “you didn’t think I was smart enough to manage a little science experiment?”

Rab raised an eyebrow and folded his arms across his chest. “You just picked a fight with your old man. How bloody smart can you be?”

The kid just chuckled, then he moved away from the auto doc to the computer bay. To Rab’s surprise, he opened the CPU and pulled up some gobblety-gook on the monitor that meant nothing to Rab. Then he took a similar device to that he had used for the nail scrapings of his father’s tissue and ran it along the edge of the unit. At his touch, the symbols on the screen convulsed and quivered. “Sorry about that,” he spoke to the guts of the computer as he shut the unit back up and placed a third slide into the analyzer tray. This time he stood over the machine like a Digan fire vulture waiting to pounce. When the analysis was finished, he jerked the slide off the auto doc to get to the results. He blew out a breath like he’d been gut punched, and his shoulders were so tight, he looked like he’d been stretched on the goddamned rack himself. Speechless, he dropped back into the chair, and went all pale-like.

“You all right?” Rab came to his side, wondering if his father had maybe done some internal damage or something.

Gerando just nodded, and swallowed like he had a Kingston cave worm stuck in his throat. He licked lips gone all dry and said, “I was right.” His words came out all harsh and scratchy in the back of his throat. He stood and moved back to the computer bay. “The Apocalypse contains genetic material from SNT1, from the Fury.”

“The fuck!” Now it was Rab’s turn to drop into the auto doc chair like he’d been shot. “Are you telling me this ship’s an SNT?”

“Yes,” Then he shook his head. “Well, not exactly. There are data streams running through the CPU that are completely non-organic, simply a very sophisticated computer, but these,” he pulled up the strange patterns he’d had up when he had taken the scraping, “these are organic, these are … well, they’re like brain waves. The thing is,” he scrolled down through the pages and pages of what Rab could definitely distinguish now as two forms of symbol, what looked like some type binary code or some such, and fuck if the other squiggles didn’t look like … well … brainwaves and the graphs on a heart monitor. Well, they weren’t obvious at all unless you knew what you were looking for. And at the moment he was staring at the kid, who only shrugged. “Told you I hacked my father’s data base about the SNTs.

 

 

“How the hell did you know to check for it?”

“The same things that cued us in to the fact that the Fury was an SNT clued me in. The Apocalypse was cloaked, remember? We never saw it until it was right on our ass, and then my father said he’d had the first mate from the Svalbard ‘tranned aboard. Okay, lots of ships have illegal mol-tran, and if anyone would have access to cloaking technology with all that he knew about the SNT Project, my old man would. But what really made me wonder was how I felt.”

“How you felt? What do you mean, how you felt.”

Color rose to the kid’s cheeks and he began to pace restlessly. “Like … Fucking hell, I felt like the ship didn’t want to destroy the Svalbard. I felt like it literally hurt the ship to do so, like it made the ship sick.”

“You mean when you puked?”

The kid nodded and waved a dismissive hand. “But it wasn’t just that, it was like almost from the moment we came onboard, I felt the ship was making a desperate cry for help. I know, I know that sounds fucking insane, but that all got me thinking.”

“Hold it, I get what you’re saying about the cloaking device and the mol-tran, and I can even see what you mean by the difference in these patterns,” he nodded to the screen, but are you trying to fucking tell me you actually felt the ship’s pain? And that’s another thing,” he stood and began to pace wildly, nearly running into the kid who was doing the same. “What the hell does that have to do with confirming that the ship’s an SNT?” He nodded to the auto doc’s micro-analyser.

“It’s not an SNT, not entirely. It’s … I don’t know some sort of a hybrid. And the checking of the DNA proves that it’s cloned DNA from not just any SNT, but from SNT1.”

“Jesu, bloody Vatanica Christ, that still doesn’t explain how you went all touchy-feely with the ship or why anything Fallon would do would make the ship … sick.”

“Because the goddamn ship is Fury’s brother! Well half anyway, cloned from the genetic material after Fury was born, from the brain cells of an SNT, and the basic guiding rule for all SNTs was do no harm. They were created to end the Great War, that’s true, but they were created to limit the loss of life and maximize the possibility of peaceful solutions. And that wasn’t their entire mission, Rab. Fuck, don’t you know any history at all? That was the task set before them so that the could begin their mission, which was expanding the known galaxy, peaceful exploration and making the lives of those in Authority space better. Fury has no heart for cruelty. No SNT ever created does, and at its core, the Apocalypse hates what my father is forcing him to do.”

Rab ran a hand over his face and dropped back into the Auto doc chair. “Okay, supposing all that’s true, I’m sure if you did all the research you said you did and you were as obsessed as you were on the SNTs, it wouldn’t be that difficult to find out the genetic make-up of SNT1. I mean the SNT1 was the pinnacle of SNT achievement, the ship that was supposed to change all our lives, but how the hell did that,” he nodded to the micro-analyzer, “prove it?”

The kid dropped down into the computer bay chair and licked his lips. “Do you remember I told you I wanted to be an SNT’s compliment?”

Rab nodded. “So?”

“So, I didn’t want to be just any SNT’s compliment, I wanted to be SNT1’s compliment, and I was too young to be the compliment of any of the other SNTs. I passed all the exams, top of my class. I was in the final selection group. The old man was beside himself. I was going to be his way into the SNT inner sanctum. The tests were all double blind. The most important thing was the compatibility with the ship.”

“So, what happened?” Rab asked.

The kid leaned forward, his jaw gone stiff, his lips a tight line. He sucked a sharp breath and said. “I wasn’t compatible.”

“Well, I imagine that happened with lot’s of people,” Rab said.

“I hacked the computer to see why I wasn’t compatible. I had to know. I was devastated and my father was furious.” He looked up at Rab. “I wasn’t compatible because I had the same genetic material as SNT1.”

“Sonovabitch,” Rab managed, and that was about all he could manage.

The kid nodded. “The goddamn piece of shit wasn’t happy sowing his seed far and wide. I don’t know how he managed it, and he sure as fuck wouldn’t tell me, but somehow he had arranged to be the sperm donor for the embryo that would become SNT1. So you see,” he said, suddenly unable to hold Rab’s gaze. I have an older brother. Apocalypse, however,” he ran his hand over the console, “is almost the right age to be my twin.”

“Sonovabitch,” Rab managed again, then stood and replicated two very large whiskeys and handed one to Gerando.

The kid only stared down into the glass. “The problem is that the Apocalypse is, and will be, a Frankenstein’s monster of a ship until he can rendezvous with Fury, and even then there’s no guarantee that there’s anyone still alive who can successfully transform the Apocalypse into a genuine SNT. Apparently the old man thinks its possible.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 40: Brand New KDG Read

 

 

Happy Beltane everyone! Fury is a day late this week because I spent a glorious day yesterday on the Salisbury Plane and Stonehenge and the surrounds with my dear friend, and awesome writer, Helen Callaghan. It was a great place to spend the day before May Day. In today’s episode of Fury, Rab and Gerando’s encounter with Gerando’s father turns bloody. 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 40: I Will Know the Truth

“I don’t know what happened, I swear I’ve never felt anything like that.” The kid was still icy cold, and Rab was seriously beginning to worry that his fucking old man had figured some way of infecting him with the virus. He wouldn’t put it past the sonovabitch. As he handed him a warm cup of electrolyte formula infuse with calmatives for his stomach, he took a sneak peek at the inside of the kid’s arms, but they were clear. He was running no temperature according to the auto doc who proclaimed Gerando Fallon to be the epitome of health.

“Fuck! I know this makes no sense but I felt like I was the one being forced to blow up that ship, like I didn’t want to. Like it physically caused me pain.” He accepted the cup and sipped quietly for a moment. “I mean it isn’t like I give a shit what happens to the Svalbard. Hell I just want the old man to get McAllister back and leave me the fuck alone.”

“You and me both, Junior. You and me both.” Rab didn’t sound any more convincing than the kid. He wasn’t sure either of them had the stomach for delivering the poor woman back into that monster’s hands.

“He knew.” The kid said. “He knew about the Fury. How the hell did he know?”

“My experience, fuckers like your old man aren’t that easy to keep shit from. Only secrets that are safe from them are the ones you keep to yourself and then blow your goddamned ass out of the airlock for your own protection. Hell I wouldn’t be too sure it’d be safe even then. I heard they’re experimenting on some sort of zombie drug that’ll suck the memories right out of a dead man’s brain even while his corpse is already starting to rot. Sorry,” he said as the kid all but gagged at his words. “I’m not feeling all cherry cheerful and happy assed at the moment.”

Gerardo nodded as the sickly shade of green slowly left his gills, and he was able to sip the drink without dry heaving. “Something’s not right, Rab,” he said staring off into space like he might find whatever was wrong over by the replicator. “Something’s really not right and it’s… it’s making me sick.”

“Yeah well, it ain’t exactly making me feel great either, but fuck. I mean Jesu Vati and his goddamned mother. What he hell does any of this have to do with a bloody plague planet? Don’t you think that would be the last place in the galaxy Manning would take Diana McAllister?”

The door pinged and slid open and two berserkers stood there all at attention. They didn’t speak, berserkers, or so Rab had heard, but then they didn’t really need to, did they? Pretty damned obvious these two goons were their dates for the party on the bridge.

“Something’s not right,” the kid whispered under his breath again, then he gulped back the last of the electrolyte mixture and stood, looking as much like he was heading for his own execution as Rab felt. But they were still alive and neither one of them was shackled. Rab was as sure as he was of his own name that the old man would shackle his son without so much as batting an eye if it served his purpose. Thing is, right now they had no goddamned clue what his purpose was. He clearly knew a helluva lot more than they did. That made Rab really twitchy, made him wonder what the hell he was keeping them around for. But what the fist in his gut, he figured the shit was about to hit the fan.

This time they weren’t taken to the bridge, but to Fallon’s private quarters. Goddamned place looked like the libraries and studies belonging to the rich bastards in Old Terran films.

Fallon sat like the king of the fucking galaxy staring into what could have very well been a log fire in a stone fireplace for all Rab knew. Course it wasn’t, but if they’d been in anyone else’s presence, Rab might have actually appreciated it more.

 

 

“Sit.” He waved them to a couch across from him. He took a deep breath and swirled the drink in a hoity-toity brandy sniffer cupped in his palm. He didn’t offer them so much as a glass of recycled water. Not that Rab could have stomached anything under the circumstances anyway. Truth was just being on the Apocalypse, knowing what the bastard had done, knowing what he might still do to them had him damn close to puking his guts just like the kid had. Still, what the fuck ever happened to common courtesy? “I have a lot to tell you, a lot you’ll need to know if we are to succeed in our mission.”

Our mission, Rab thought. Christ! When had it become their mission?

Waiting for him to continue, they sat on the edge of the sofa as stiff and uncomfortable as fucking statues. And didn’t Fallon like them just that way?

“While you were not as successful as I had hoped you would be in bringing Diana McAllister back to me, the information you did provide, no matter how blundering it might have been, helped me to find out some astonishing truths that will revolutionize Fire Star and the entire Authority.”

“You mean it’ll give you more control,” the kid said folding his arms across his chest like he wasn’t scared shitless.

Fallon shrugged. “Same thing, boy, same thing. I don’t like variables I can’t predict and there are a few too many in the direction the Authority’s heading at the moment.”

“And you think the Fury is your solution?” Rab asked, wondering why the fuck he didn’t keep his mouth shut.

“Of course the Fury is my solution. The Fury is SNT 1, the Fury is the formula, the template, for future SNTs that won’t be controlled by the Free Universities, that won’t be controlled by funding other than my own, and that of my investors, of course. But that’s just the beginning. There’s way more to the picture than we’re currently seeing, though that, I daresay, is about to change.”

He sat down his brandy and pressed a button, which slid aside a big-assed wall painting of an ancient sea battle to reveal a large view screen. “Computer, display our guest.”

It took Rab a moment to realize what was being displayed to him on the screen, and then his gut twisted. The kid groaned as though he was gonna puke again, then cussed like a sailor” Ever the stickler for detail, Fallon’s interrogation room looked like a goddamned ancient Terran dungeon, and this one was not empty. The bloody mass of a humanoid was barely recognizable as such. Poor bastard was strapped naked onto a wooden rack, stretched so fucking tight his muscles strained like they’d snap. His ribs rose and fell with each effort to breathe, which must have hurt like hell, because even with the poor lighting of the place Rab could see the man had several broken ribs.

With a la-de-da flick of a finger, Fallon turned on the com, and fuck if it didn’t feel like they were right smack dab in the middle of the dungeon next to the man. The surround-sound didn’t do a damn thing to settle Rab’s stomach.

“Gentlemen, forgive my rudeness. This is the Svalbard’s science officer and acting first mate, Katiel Markov. He is about to reveal to us all we need to know about the Svalbard’s mission and it’s connection with the Fury, and thus Diana McAllister.” Marcov cried out as a man dressed like an ancient torturer, complete with a fucking black hood, gave the rack another crank, and Rab grabbed at his own ribs in sympathy.

“You could have saved yourself so much pain and just told me what I wanted to know, Mr. Markov, what I will now find out anyway.” He nodded to the torturer, who took a stainless steel case from a bench all covered with ancient tools for torture, and took out a syringe that Rab was pretty sure was a helluva lot worse than all the other shit in the dungeon put together.

“When the serum has done its work, Mr. Markov, I will know the truth, and you won’t even know how to piss by yourself.” He gave a little nod of his head and the torturer emptied the syringe into the poor bugger’s carotid.

“There now,” Fallon said, watching the man’s eyelids droop and close. “In a few hours I’ll know exactly what the Svalbard has been up to and where we can find Diana McAllister.” He’d barely closed the com and shut off the monitor when the kid launched himself like a goddamned missile.

“You sonovabitch! You fucking sonovabitch!” He landed the first punch, but it was only a glancing blow, enough to piss his old man off. Then he let his fists fly, again and again. Hell, Rab didn’t know what to do. If he tried to intervene, he might be next, but he was afraid the sadistic piece of shit would kill his own son. Thank fuck, the blows stopped coming and the old man, breathing more like he’d just got laid real good than like he’d just given a beating, pulled the kid into a choke hold, and just as he was about to lose consciousness, he reached for the old man’s cheek and clawed him hard.

“You little bastard.” Fallon hissed like a mad cat and shoved him to the floor. “Remember, I have other sons.” He hauled loose and kicked the kid hard in the ribs. Then he turned away, leaning over the desk, sucking breath like he’d just shot his wad. “Get him out of here, Rab, before I have him escorted to the dungeon right next to Mr. Marcov.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 38: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Thursday everyone! I owe you a huge apology for last week’s lack of a new episode. No excuses other than being sidetracked with editing a new Medusa Consortium project. I’m making up for it by having this post out a day early. I’m back in action, and so are Fury and Manning, as they continue to share their story with Diana Mac.  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 38: New Compliment, New Vocation

“Cloak,” he said, I don’t want to go back to those bastards and I’m not particularly keen on seeing a sleek ship like you destroyed, now cloak!”

“They have seen us, they will be able to follow our signature.”

“No! No they won’t if you listen to me.” He cursed, “Goddamn it, I need access to your controls, Fury. I need you to trust me.”

“They are yours,” I said feeling the adrenaline rush I had not expected as he took the position that should have belonged to my compliment.”

“You may be young and inexperienced, but I’m not, now fucking cloak your ass.”

I did as he asked. “Lay in a course to the Sigma 10 Asteroid belt. I want us smack dab in the middle of it. Can you do it?”

“Already done,” I said.

“Fucking hell, that was fast.”

“I’m a fucking ship. It is not rocket science.”

To that he laughed out loud and strapped into the seat as we warped.

As per his request, we came out right in the middle of the asteroid belt and the war ship, well the war ship had not considered that we would and came out at the edge.

“They won’t follow us here and put a Phoenix class star ship at risk,” Richard Manning said. “The chances of their survival are less than slim and they know it.”

“And they will suppose that ours is none better and that we are lost.” I replied.     “But they won’t be taking into account that a hot shot SNT ship is teamed up with the best damn pilot in these parts. There’s a way out, and I can get us there.”

And it was brilliant, the way he navigated the Sigma Belt. Oh I helped out a little by tightening the trajectory in a few places and easing us in and out of tight spaces that an ordinary ship would not be able to maneuver, but for the most part it was Richard Manning navigating from memory, a route I would have not thought possible for a humanoid brain to calculate. “I’ve used this route more than once, to lose the Authority and other unwelcome parties. Once I figured it out, it was my ace in the hole.”

As we cleared the Sigma several hours later, near the Terra Nova Cloud, I was beginning to understand that Richard Manning just might be my ace in the hole. Apparently he was thinking the same thing.

“You can’t go back, SNT Fury. Neither of us can.”

“That is true, Richard Manning.”

“I’m more intelligent than I look. I understand the extensive nature of what you did to me, and when you unlocked your controls to me, I saw your insides laid out before me like a child’s line drawing. You knew that I would.”

“It was the only way I could repair you.”

He laughed softly. “I’m all about survival. I’m all about survival, though I have to admit,” he ran a hand through his mussed hair which stood on end as though he were statically charged. “I’m not entirely sure I know what that means now.”

“I too, am all about survival, Richard Manning, and I also am not entirely sure what that means now. For all I know I may be the last of my kind, the only survivor. While the rumors that have been spread are lies, and the deaths of millions lay at the feet of the Authority, not my brothers and sisters, it does not matter now. What matters is that we do survive, Richard Manning.”

He paused for a moment, then let out a sigh of a breath and cocked his head. “And you don’t mind that I’m a criminal?”

“We are both fugitives, Richard Manning. And if you are a criminal, your crime was nothing more than your effort to survive, as is mine. I have taken that into consideration.”

He chuckled. “Well, I’m glad to see that you have at least some standards.”

I found myself smiling. “If you had seen my beautiful compliment, if you had known what she was to become to me, then you would have realized that I have lowered them considerably.”

For a moment, the man said nothing, the smile slipped from his face and I saw sadness in his grey eyes. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Oh she is not dead,” I said quickly. I don’t know why I did it, but I displayed the final image of her beautiful face. “But now she is forever beyond my reach.”

To my surprise, Richard Manning laid his hand against that image of her and ran a finger gently down her lovely cheek as though he could comfort her for her loss. “I see your point. I’m a big step down.”

“It doesn’t not matter now.” I replaced the image with the expanse of stars ahead of us. “What does matter is that she is safe. And it would seem fortune has brought us together in our greatest time of need, Richard Manning. We will both lower our standards and learn to work together, I believe.”

 

 

The smile that split his face was nothing less than beatific and for the first time I realized just how young he truly was to have done what he had done and survive. I observed that his face would be considered handsome by humanoid standards, if a bit rough around the edges, but then if my database was accurate, many humanoid females find those rough edges sexually attractive. Perhaps on a biological level, they consider someone who is a bit dangerous better able to provide for and protect their offspring. It was his laugh that brought my attention back to him. “You never saw my last ship, nor the dangerous piece of shit I served on for the last three years. Believe me, Fury, you’re a ship captain’s wet dream come true.”

I would be lying if I said his words did not please me. Even as untried and unformed as I was, that someone found me worthy greatly pleased the biological components I still did not fully understand, and I confess it was the part of me that I struggled with most during those dark days.

Richard Manning stood and began to pace the bridge, my biological material seemed to be healing him with exponential speed. “Well, Fury, we’re going to have to make a living, the two of us, if we’re going to survive, and while you are one helluva ship, you’re pretty clueless in the scheme of things. I, on the other hand, am not. He ran a finger down the length of my console in a move that was so near a caress that I would have shivered at the touch, had I had that capability. “You can shape yourself, did you say?”

“I can, yes. I am, as you would say, a tabula rasa at this time. I was to have been given schematics and parameters for what I was to become, but sadly there was not time for that. I am … I am unformed.”

“Well, from what I saw of your innards when I was piloting, you have the components to make one helluva cargo ship, and with your cloaking device,” he shrugged, “well, if our cargo is a little less than above board, that will come in real handy.”

“I see,” I replied when I realized he was waiting for my response.

He heaved a sigh and dropped into the captain’s chair. “Look, small cargo ships are the life’s blood of a lot of legitimate establishments who need to be supplied with goods and services on the edge of the rim, and in the places too far away for the central Authority to give a shit about. There’s legitimate money to be made, that’s true enough, and that always has to be a smuggler’s cover. Thing is, just because the central Authority doesn’t give a fuck about the outlying colonies, doesn’t stop it from taxing them up the ass. The truth is, most legitimate businesses – and especially those that deal in the entertainment and services industries, can’t survive without smuggled goods. They give their pound of flesh to the Central Authority, when they have to, but they all keep two sets of records. They have to in order to survive.”

“This seems to be very shortsighted on the part of the Central Authority,” I replied.

“Out of sight, out of mind, most of the time. The outer colonies are taxed without representation in the Authority, and without receiving the benefits those taxes are supposed to provide. At the same time, the Authority rapes them of their natural resources and wealth. Not a win-win situation.”

“Indeed not, Richard Manning. It would appear to me that I shall need a complete refit then, and a crash course in smuggling.”

The lovely smile returned to his face. “It would appear to me that I’m just the man to do both. Also, on this side of the Rim, I have a lot of contacts and, if you trust me, I can set us up several contracts for as soon as we can get you refitted and ready.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 37: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Holiday Weekend, everyone! If you celebrate Easter, Happy Easter, if you don’t then Happy Reason to Celebrate! Time for another instalment of Piloting Fury. The story of how Fury and Manning became a team continues this week as the two struggle with their own losses and their common enemy, loneliness.  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 37: So Much Empty Space

“Richard Manning, you are still weakened. If you will but ask me, I shall bring you what food you can best assimilate that will aid in your recover, and I do not think New Hibernian whiskey will be of aid.”

In truth, the humanoid’s strength astounded me, though at the time I just assumed it was because of my biological material in his body. He shuffled to the table in the galley clearly in pain, or at least to me, but then perhaps it is because I am more perceptive than humanoids and this one had not yet learned that there was little he could hide from me. From the time I brought him onboard, I had constantly monitored his vitals, for I knew how closely he walked to death and how hard I worked that he might stay with me.

“Consider it comfort food,” he said. In those days he still had not gotten past his efforts to find a place to look upon that he could consider to be me. “If what you say is true,” his gaze was now on the replicator, “then I’m damn lucky to be able to eat at all.”

“Considering the fact that corpses do not generally eat, you are, indeed, damn lucky. But Richard Manning, having my metabolism of alcoholic beverages still does not mean that it is a wise choice for sustenance.”

“All right then,” he rubbed his stubbled chin and studied the replicator in a very different way. “How about an ancient Terran specialty – cheeseburger, fries and a strawberry shake?”

While it was not a choice I would have made for him, I replicated his order and because of his convalescence, did so on the table in front of him. “While I cannot guarantee the flavor, I am relatively certain it will be as much like the ancient specialty as any other replicated version you have ever eaten.”

To this, he laughed out loud. “Trust me,” he said around a mouthful of the French fries, “nothing you could replicate couldn’t possibly be worse than the swill I’ve been served these past three years.” He ate in silence for a few minutes and then wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “You’re an SNT.”

“That is correct.”

He ate some more, and I waited, sensing that he had something he wished to say. At last he pushed back his chair and looked around, as though he planned to go searching for me this time until he found me. “Why did you save me? You lot are supposedly the scourge of the galaxy, going nuts and killing everyone in sight.”

“Supposed to be,” I responded. “Are you in doubt of it?”

“If the Authority says it’s so, then yes, I’m in doubt of it. If they said shit stinks then I’d be convinced it smelled like roses.”

“Though I would be inclined to agree with them when it comes to the olfactory properties of shit, as for the rest, I would say that you are a wiser man than most, Richard Manning.”

“Not so wise or I wouldn’t have gotten caught, would I?”

“Ah, then you are a convict rather than in debt. For what, if I might ask?”

“For trying to stay out of debt, what the hell do you think?” He went back to eating.

“Smuggler?”

“That’s right, and a fucking good one too.”

“Apparently not that fucking good if you got caught.”

He grunted and shoved a fist full of fries into his mouth. “I was set up. Someone who had his eyes on my ship, had for years.”

“It must have been a very good ship, then” I said, “if it was worth such an act of betrayal.”

“It was a piece of junk, but it was mine, and it was better than his piece of junk.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” I thought perhaps if he was fond of ancient Terran food, perhaps he might also know some of the slang.”

“Damn skippy,” he said, offering me a broad smile, which flashed bright and disappeared as fast as it came. “But you haven’t answered my question. Why did you save me?”

“I am programmed to protect and keep safe, as all SNTs are.”

He studied me for a moment and then slurped his shake. “Lots of things are not like they’re supposed to be.”

It was then that I felt the bone-deep ache of her absence, the one I would never now know, nor share my journeys. “Yes, Richard Manning, many things are not like they are supposed to be.” I withdrew to my solitude until he needed me again. It was easier than explaining to him that while he was the epitome of humanoid male testosterone driven bravado, I was not. I was not even fully formed and I was adrift in the galaxy without compliment or purpose, my only companion a braggart of a smuggler.

The next chronometric day I found him seated in the captain’s chair on the bridge. My first response was anger. The place was to have belong to her, and yet here this smuggler sat in it as though he had the right, as though I had invited him to be there. But before my anger could be fully formed, he very gently, nearly reverently ran his fingers lightly over my console. “Thank you for the clothes,” he said, softly, not sensing my approach, I was sure, but perhaps hoping for my company in the same way I hoped for his. I had stayed away lest my heart should break even more with the comparison of this convict, this uncouth humanoid to the woman I’d lost.

 

 

He chuckled softly. “I figure you must have got tired of my cock hanging out of the robe at inopportune moments. Hard to be dignified when you’re cock’s hanging out.”

“You are welcome, Richard Manning. And while I did not mind at all the occasional appearance of your cock, I thought perhaps you would appreciate proper clothing now that you are recovering nicely.”

His breath caught at the unexpected sound of my voice and the change in his heart rate, the flush of blood to his cheeks, the way he shifted nervously told met that he might possibly be as lonely as I was, though I could not imagine anyone being so lonely.

“What was the compliment onboard your ship?” I asked.

“Me. I was the compliment.” He chuckled and I could hear the nostalgia in his voice. “Just as well because I used every bit of space I could for the cargo bay. I slept in a hammock and the shitter was just a cubbyhole at the rear of the hold. Home sweet home,” he said resting his palm against the consol.

“Home sweet home,” I repeated, and for a moment the two of us were companionably silent watching the dark of space rush by. “If you are up for it, Richard Manning, I am happy to offer you a tour, though I do feel a bit like, what was that early Terran phrase, a flasher letting it all hang out.”

The man laughed out loud, and I was struck at how lovely his laughter sounded on deck. “I showed you mine, now I’d love to see yours.”

After we returned, I did not mind it so much when he sat in the captain’s chair. I was like a child waiting for, longing for his approval.

“Well?”

“There’s a lot of unused space.” He raised a hand and laid it respectfully on the console, “Beautiful space, wonderful space, but I have to ask, Fury, why’s so much of you so unused.”

“Because I am young,” I blurted out. One would think that as I am the pinnacle of humanoid and technology come together, that I would have shed all the human foibles of speaking before my thoughts were fully formed, and those were things I would have learned, would have developed it I had only been given more time.

He raised an eyebrow and stared up at the monitor, as though he expected my face to appear. “Young?”

I did not have time to squirm, or to answer his question because we dropped out of hyperspace face to face with a Phoenix class warship.

 

 

 
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