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Dragon Ascending Part 28: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending.  Last week Tenad Fallon learned a game-changing tidbit about Kresho Ivanovic. This week Fury and his crew get someone else’s nightmare. 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. I hope you find this switch-up helpful. 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!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

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 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 28: Someone Else’s Dreams

“Fury is right. This is the only way, and you have to let me go”

“I will not! I cannot! I will kill them all for what they have done! We are innocent! We have done nothing wrong. You have done nothing wrong. Please!”

“No, no you won’t kill them, and it no longer matters that we are innocent, no one will listen, You have to understand that my darling. You will kill no one. You will let me do what I must and by doing so, you’ll save millions and yourself. There’ll be another time. I need you to live to fight another day. I need you to tell the galaxy what really happened, what they did to us, to you. I can go to my own death easily if I know you live on.”

“Please! Please do not make me do this!” Fury’s own voice, ragged in a way his compliment had never heard it before, begged over and over again, but the woman, the woman consumed in flames was not his compliment, his own dear Diana Mac, who had already suffered so very much loss and pain, and yet the pain he felt was as though it were her, or his precious Richard Manning. Agony like he could not have imagined, agony that he was certain he would not survive.

“Do it out of love for me.” The woman’s voice rose above the crackle of flames. “Do it out of love for your brothers and sisters. Do it out of love for all of those who can’t fight back.”

“This is not how I meant it to be! Fury cried out. “Please, you do not have to die, please do not sever yourself from the bond!” The message he had sent out into the galaxy hoping against hope to save his brothers and sisters who had not already perished was short, sharp, desperate, but this was not what he had intended. Not like this! Not like this!

“I cannot! I cannot! I cannot! Please do not make me do this! Please! I cannot bare it. I will not survive alone. I cannot! I cannot! Please! Please!”

“Do it out of love for me.” Sobbing out the words, Mac sat bolt upright in the middle of the bed she shared with Manning and Fury, both of them sat next to her. She and Manning were in tears, inconsolable, as together they wrapped their arms around Fury, in that same instant, they realized it was his dream they felt so deeply.

“But it was not mine. The dream was not mine. It was not you, dearest Diana Mac, who was lost to the flames, and it was not my agony you felt.”

“The SNT on Tak Major,” Manning said scrubbing his hands over his face, still drenched in sweat from the dream. “We dreamed his dream.” It wasn’t a question. They all knew that the dream did not belong to them, and yet it felt like it did.

“How anguished he must be,” Fury said. And to Mac, it felt like Fury’s own anguish. “If truly we are seeing how he lost his dearest compliment, then surely I am to blame for his suffering, for I had not intended it to be so, it did not have to end so, there were other ways to accomplish the purging of the virus.”

“Fury, listen to me,” Mac said, making every effort to hold the physical representation the ship offered still closer, “you don’t know what happened, what the circumstances were, and I know the story of how desperately you flung the message out that high doses of radiation would kill the virus. Vaticana Jesu! It’s a wonder that any of them got the message at all, garbled or otherwise. And considering their circumstances, they were already all fighting and fleeing for their lives. You are not to blame.”

“That is not how it feels when I have been plunged into my poor brother’s loss and agony.”

Manning frowned and cocked his head. “Fury, how closely connected are you to the emotions of your siblings.”

“I am very closely linked to Griffin and Dubrovnik because of our shared experience in their births. Sadly my other siblings were so very far away from me when the Authority sabotaged them that I was not certain my message was even received by them, or that they would recognize who it was from if it did. I was not due to be born for several more years.”

“Well at least you know it reached this SNT,” Manning said.

“And yet this one has lost his compliment. How can he ever forgive me for that? I would not have severed one of my siblings from their beloved companion for anything.”

“There were very few choices back then,” Mac said. “My father was happy to sacrifice himself for Merlin, and I know Manning and I would do the same for you. We would want you to go on if it came to that, to find another compliment, to move forward.”

For a long moment their shared sleeping chamber felt charged with icy hot pain, and Fury said at last, “I do not know if I could go on without my beloveds. I do not know how any SNT could survive such a loss. Because you came to me when you did, dear Richard Manning, I did not have to endure the loss quite the same as the bereaved SNT below must have.” Once again there was silence. Mac knew that Fury was checking their vitals, their physical needs, their emotions after such a nightmare. And then he said, “I do not believe that any of us will sleep again soon. Perhaps we should adjourn to the galley for a late night snack, something soothing that might once again induce slumber.”

“Besides,” Mac added, “we need to talk about what just happened.”

 

 

Mac and Manning slipped into loose fitting robes that Fury had designed for them and padded to the galley, feeling Fury’s presence as though he walked beside them. They replicated simple chocolate pudding, which had early on become one of Mac’s favorites. For a moment the only sounds were the smacking lips and the appreciative groans of food well enjoyed, and then Mac spoke around a lingering sip of Digan cinder flower tea. “The woman, Lenore Falish, she’s still with him. I wish we knew if he’s keeping her prisoner or if he’s …”

“Enamored of her.” Furry finished for her.

“Is that possible?” Manning asked.

“Based on our relationship, Richard Manning, I am sure you already know the answer to that.” Both Mac and Manning felt what could only be called an affectionate stroke of their cheeks.

“Then that’s good, isn’t it?” Mac asked. “I mean sometimes the healing of a broken heart needs a little outside help.”

“That is true,” Fury said, then added more cautiously, “It could be good.”

“But?” Manning said.

“But this SNT is going out of his way to conceal himself from us. He only revealed himself when he fired at the Dart, certainly to avenge the woman. I do not believe I would have discovered him otherwise, and it is clear now that he knows we are here, and he does not want contact. I do not know why, but I can speculate many possibilities, none of them are very good.”

“Could he think we’re an Authority vessel,” Mac asked.

“No. That is not a possibility. It is in our biological and technical make-up to recognize Authority ships and the threat they could pose, but more importantly still, to recognize each other.”

“But the SNT virus was engineered to go straight for the SNT neural net and the brain, wasn’t it? Manning said.”

“That’s right,” Mac agreed. “Maybe the virus has affected this SNT’s memories and primary net.”

“If this SNT has lived through the events of his nightmares, the loss of his beloved compliment, then he would have been cured of the virus long before there could be any permanent damage.”

“Then what? And what can we do?” Manning said, helping himself to more pudding. “Do you think Lenore Falish will come back out, and maybe we can try again? If we could question her, we might be able to find out what’s going on with your brother down there.”

“She has already been out while we slept,” Fury said.

“What? Why didn’t you wake us?” Manning nearly dropped his spoon.

“Our SNT kept a lock on her and he has also improved his shields. I believe I may still penetrate his shields at will, but I may not take her while he has a lock on her.”

“Then what?” Manning asked.

“For now we must wait until an opportune moment when he believes it is safe, that we have left, and lets down his guard. But we must also consider in the taking of this woman from my brother, his response will without a doubt be very hostile. We must handle the situation and its consequences very carefully.”

“And in the meantime,” Mac said.

“In the meantime, my dear Diana Mac, it is the middle of the night, we have all been wakened from a nightmare that was not our own. If we are sensitive to my brother’s nightmares, perhaps he may be equally susceptible to our feelings for each other. Shall we see if perhaps we can comfort him, and us? Perhaps he shall take comfort from our lovemaking.”

Manning chuckled salaciously. “I don’t know about him, but I certainly will.” He slid his hand inside Mac’s robe and cups her breast in the very same instant Fury mirrors his action on the other side.

She caught her breath and leaned back in the chair allowing the robe to fall open as both her men replace very skilled fingers for even more skilled mouths. “I cannot tell you how happy I am that you have two such lovely breasts, Diana Mac, or else Richard Manning and I might find cause to argue over such carnal delights.”

“Not as happy as I am” Mac said. “I love what you- ” Her words ended abruptly in a little gasp as Fury eased her thighs open and left her breasts to Manning while his very talented mouth went to work on all parts south. How could the other SNT not be enjoying this, she wondered. She wondered if he made love to Lenore and found solace in their passion. She hoped so for both of their sakes. Certainly the poor woman’s life had been short on tenderness and passion, short on simple human kindness, something Mac understood only too well.

 

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 27: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending.  Last week Tenad Fallon brutally interrogated the captain of the Dart. This week she learns a game-changing tidbit about Kresho Ivanovic. 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. I hope you find this switch-up helpful. 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!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

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 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 27: Tidbits of Information

She was dozing between the bloody sheets she had shared with Teagues when her PD sounded. She tapped it to let her chief of security know she was listening.

“I have some information about Kresho Ivanovic you might find helpful, Ma’am,” he said.

Suddenly she was wide-awake, forcing herself through the pain to sit up on the side of the bed. “Give me twenty minutes and I’ll be right down.” She had already ‘tranned Teagues body into space, but Camille could never make the space presentable before Haydon got here. Best she meet him in his office. She knew the drill, the tablets the med bot insisted on, the essential treatments which allowed her to hang on to as much pain as possible while functioning without anyone knowing about it. The med-bot had already treated the worst of the injuries. Sadly, they weren’t as bad as she’d hoped. Apparently Teagues didn’t have quite the stomach for pain that he thought he did. Too bad really. But it had been enough to level her out for a while, and if not, there were always the indentureds. Under the circumstances, maybe it was a good thing that Teagues hadn’t been as tough as he thought he was. If the info Haydon had for her was anything of use, and he certainly wouldn’t have commed her in the middle of the night otherwise, she would need to be at her best to meet with Ivanovic tomorrow, and cracked ribs, she now realized, were not the sorts of things that man would miss. She came out of the shower to find Camille stripping the bed. For a second she watched the girl. She never flinched at her mistress’s predilections, no matter how messy they became, nor was she squeamish about the cleanup. Sometimes she wondered how much of the girl’s mind was left. Tenad had never punished her. There had never been a need. And unlike her father, it gave her no pleasure to hurt someone who couldn’t return the pain. Camille was, to some degree, like the med-bot, always there, always doing her job, never commenting, never moaning. Perhaps her mind was gone. It happened. Tenad had heard that living with the threat of the SNT virus over your head as all indentured did had been known to wreck an indentured’s mind. But as long as Camille served her well and made no trouble, she figured the girl was probably better off without too much ability to let her mind wander. She left her to her cleanup and headed for the Haydon’s office.

For a split second in the lift she let her mind wander to what it might be like to fuck Ivanovic. He was certainly intriguing enough. And he was very much off limits. That in itself made him fodder for her fantasies. What she wanted, but knew she didn’t dare give in to. Still, he was so very enticing.

What she needed was his cooperation. For some reason he was as interested in the Dart’s mysterious arrival as she was. Fair enough, it was his station and he didn’t want some phantom ship that could hurl other ships into deep space threating what was his. But he wasn’t a stupid man. He was as mysterious as this ship was. And she didn’t like things she couldn’t define, things that made her nervous. They too often came back to bite her in the butt when she least expected it. Unknowns in an equation troubled her until she solved them. And this troublesome man was letting her into his business way too easily. He knew her people were snooping about, and he let them. Okay, she was a Fallon and he wanted to be rid of her as soon as possible. She got that. But most deep space stations would have taken a Fallon and head of the Nebula Conglomerate for all it could get. Granted, he was doing that too, but there was something else, something she couldn’t put her finger on.

Ten minutes later, in Haydon’s office with the files before her on her chief of security’s tablet, she could barely believe her luck. What her head of security shared with her about Kresho Ivanovic was the last thing she would have ever expected, and very well might be the most helpful tidbit of information she’d had in ages.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 26: Brand New KGD Read

Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending.  Last week Len Ascent experiences Len’s nightmare and decides he wants to return to his deep slumber. This week, Tenad Fallon uses her own techniques to interrogate the captain of the Dart. WARNING! this post contains adult themes.

As I mentioned in my last post, for the next few weeks, I may on occasion be posting longer episodes of Dragon because I feel it will be better for the flow and enhance your reading pleasure by allowing these posts the extra length necessary to complete the scene. 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!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

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 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 26: Kill the Messenger

“My med-bot took care of your little problem?” Tenad said when the door to her quarters slid open. She didn’t look up from her PD. She knew no one could get in that she hadn’t invited. She was a little surprised that Ivanovic had agreed to her interrogating the captain of the Dart. She hadn’t told him the interrogation would be her ship, in her quarters. She didn’t want to run the risk of him telling her no. That wouldn’t have stopped her, but she preferred at least a façade of cooperation whenever possible. If Cronin Teagues had any information about the SNT1, and she was pretty sure he did, she planned to have it and she’d have it much easier without Ivanovic’s interference.

“That’s a treasure, that bot of yours is.” The captain of the Dart’s voice was butter and honey smooth. “Ours is a piece of rubbish we salvaged off Diga X12. It can give you a jab in the ass if you’re taking on radiation, and it can almost set a bone, if you’re not too concerned about how well the job’s done. Definitely wouldn’t trust it with the family jewels. But that one of yours, that one sorted my junk right out and gave me a hand with the test drive after just to be sure I didn’t puke again.”

“It must have been very unpleasant, that. Puking at such an inconvenient time.” She turned to face him and let him ogle her up and down, while she returned the favor. She knew he liked what he saw. She was not hard on the eyes, especially when she was out of uniform. Not that it mattered much what he looked like or what his opinion was of her. She seldom paid much attention to looks now. They mattered far less than end results where her sexual encounters were concerned, and the longer they lasted, the harder it was the less often she needed to make special arrangements to take care of her needs. Looks aside, this one, she knew his kind, dangerous because he was easy on the eyes. One should never assume that because something looks good that it’s good for you in any way, as Captain Teagues was about to find out.

“Let’s just say projectile vomiting is no substitute for a good sac emptying in just the right spot.” He wiggled his eyebrows in a way she assumed some women found charming. For her, charming wasn’t necessary.

“I see your point,” she said, deliberately glancing down at his crotch.

He brushed long slender fingers over the fly of his trousers and offered her a full-lipped smile, dark eyes sparkling. “Not yet you don’t but we can certainly remedy that, can’t we … Do you have a name?”

“I do,” was all she said. She had made sure he didn’t know who had asked to see him or why. Most people didn’t actually know what Tenad Fallon looked like. She kept a much lower profile than her high viz brothers, who more often than not were making public spectacles of themselves, and the gossips and the paparazzi loved them for it. But she learned long ago that if no one knew who she was or what she looked like, well that was a currency all its own, often worth more than a conglomerate’s worth of credits. “And I look forward to you showing me that point,” she said giving him the walk around, which made him a little wrong-footed. He was used to being the aggressor with women. She slid her hand over his well-muscled buttocks, lingering to slide a finger along the seam in between with enough pressure that she felt the muscles around his anus clench in anticipation. Enjoying that little orifice would come later. She traced the trim, straight contours of his hipbone and moved on around to a casual caress of his balls and cock, already tightening in his trousers.

He caught his breath with a curse and a little grunt that ended in a chuckle. “You like slumming, do you? Rich and bored? Some conglomerate mogul’s daughter?”

“Something like that,” she said, increasing the pressure of her caress.

Another chuckle, this one with just a hint of bitterness, his hips now shifting into her strokes, his voice a little tighter, a little more breathless at her efforts. “Well I’m just fine with that. I like a little upscale pussy every now and again. Always happy to spread the pleasure.” He reached for her breasts, and she grabbed him so fast that he quickly stepped back, or tried to. But she’d caught the ponytail, which hung thick and dark between his shoulders and spun him around close to her, the bones in his neck cracking at the odd angel of force as she pulled him back to front against her body, her arms sliding into a choke hold. He was about her height, slender built, wiry, strong no doubt, and that made the muscles below her belly tighten in anticipation. No doubt he was fast, but she caught him off guard and held him firmly tightening her hold just enough to still him, then just a little more to remind him of how essential breathing was, but not enough to extinguish the anger radiating off of him at being bested by a woman. She wanted him angry. “I hear you like to hurt women, captain.” Her words came out a throaty whisper against his ear, a whisper he mistook for anger and he tensed in her embrace, his own anger practically vibrating through his whole body, especially his cock.

The press of her forearm against his trachea made him cough and scrabble with his fingers to loosen her grip, nails bitten short scratching across her skin raised goose bumps down below her navel.

“I have yet to meet a chick who doesn’t like it a little rough. They may play coy, but they don’t really know what they want till I give it to them. What about you? You like it rough, don’t you?”

“You have my number all right, captain, I like it very rough. What about you?” She wrapped his hair around her hand and pulled it tight. “That bulge of yours tells me you might just like it a little rough too.” She released him with a shove that landed him on her bed.

His eyes grew round, the subdued lighting rendering them little more than black holes in his angular face. His cock jerked in his trousers. “Honey, I can take whatever you can dish out and give it back till you scream for more.” He cleared his throat a couple of times and cracked his neck from side to side.

 

 

“I’m slick at the thought, captain.” She toyed with the tie at the waist of her white robe. She liked white robes when she knew blood was about to be shed. While he eyed her fingers on the robe expectantly, he was no dummy. “Who told you I like to hurt women?”

“Who do you think? Ivanovic, of course. He’s holding you and your men on your ship against your will, right?”

“How do you know that?”

“Bored, rich conglomerate mogul’s daughter, remember?” She untied the robe and he rested a hand against his surging penis.”

Still eyeing her with a wary blend of lust and mistrust, he chose his words carefully. “No doubt the crew of the ship that flung us into space left a message in our files for anyone who found us. The sick bunch of fucks onboard were about that crazy to leave us puking and living on space rations with full sacs wondering where the hell we’d end up.” He half coughed up the chuckle from his still irritated throat. “Pretty nutso, huh?”

“Indeed. In fact no one would have ever believed such a tale if the Lizzie Ann hadn’t corroborated your story.”

“Fuck me! You have no idea. And even with all that, it was still a nightmare to convince that hard-assed security bitch of Ivanovic’s that we were telling the truth. Now then, I want to test your med-bot’s handiwork in something other than my fist. How about you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.” He gave his package a salacious stroke. “Talk is cheap, and I think you want to play as badly as I…”

His words died in his throat as she slipped the knot of the robe and with a shrug, let it slide off her shoulders and over her hips in the hiss and caress of silk. Stroking his still clothed bulge, he watched as she walked naked to a small bench she’d had Camille set up next to the vanity table. She fingered the items laid out meticulously, just the way she liked them, all promising exquisite pain when rightly applied, and she knew exactly how to apply them. From the selection she picked up a length of rope, rough and abrasive like the old Terran hemp ropes she’d seen in museums as a kid. Then she turned to face him, running the abrasive weave of the rope over her palm. “Tell me about the ship that … flung you,” she slapped the end of the rope whip like against her hand relishing the sting. “And get undressed.”

Teagues lazily climbed off the bed his burnt-hole gaze shifting from her tits to the rope and back again as he worked the buckle of the belt that held his trousers up. “I see you brought toys.” The bravado wavered the tiniest bit when she did not smile. “Who’s tying up who?”

“Take off your clothes and tell me about the ship.”

“All right.” He bent slowly to take off his boots, careful to keep his eyes on the rope now, her body secondary at the moment, and that thought made her very slick indeed. “It wasn’t big, a tramp cargo ship, smuggler I’d bet.”

She had to hand it to him, in spite of the dangerous situation in which he found himself, his hands were steady as he slipped the shirt off over his head and went to work on his trousers. “Nothing special about it. It looked as old and battered as the Dart, but I’m guessing that was only a disguise.”

“I’m guessing so,” she replied. “Sounds like some pretty illegal shit on that boat.”

“You got that right. I mean no ship I know can ‘tran humans without scrambling their brains and their junk. I know cargo ships use illegal Mole tran tech, hell I’d have it on the Dart if I could afford it. But this, this was something else again. I doubt even your rich ass could afford it.”

Vaticana Jesu, the man was going to spill his guts without any real interrogation. Well, she supposed she was all right with that. In the end it wouldn’t matter anyway. She’d get what she wanted. All of what she wanted.

He continued, “Being ‘tranned was bad enough, but then to take our entire ship and toss it out toward the Rift at speeds like that, I figure it was either some top secret project some conglomerate’s carrying on out here or it was all stolen, I mean what else could it be?” When he was undressed, hands shielding his erection, he stood facing her expectantly, gaze returning nervously to the rope in her hands. “Look, honestly, sweetie, the rope isn’t really necessary. I’m harmless.”

With a quick flick of her wrist, the rope shot out and lashed him across the chest leaving an angry red welt. He gasped and stepped back barely catching himself to keep from falling on the bed again. “Sonovabitch! What the fuck?” His cock surged and he grabbed it as though he were reining himself in.

She chuckled under her breath. “I don’t want you harmless, Captain.” Then she snapped out the rope again. This time around his neck and reeled him in and his string of abusive language along with. With him flush against her body, skin to skin, chest to chest, she ran her hand down and cupped his heavy sac. “You’re right, captain, some women don’t know they like it rough, but I very much assure I’m not one of them.” She slid the rope free with a jerk leaving an angry abrasion around his throat.

“Fuck!” Was his only gasped response.

“Now, I want to know absolutely everything about that ship and it’s crew that so abused you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 25: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending.  Last week Len reflected on the implications and the dangers of staying with an amnesiac SNT ship. This week Ascent steals a glimpse into Len’s past and makes a decision that will change everything for both of them. For the next couple of weeks, I will be posting slightly longer episodes of Dragon because I feel it will be better for the flow and enhance your reading pleasure by allowing these posts the extra length necessary to complete the scene. 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!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

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 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 25: We Could Go Together

I was resolved that I must find a way to return to my slumber. Lenore asked too many questions, and I felt each of those questions like the reopening of critical wounds I wished not to feel again. If I allowed her to stay, her very presence would force those wounds open again and again. Had it not been the longing for, the hoping for my companion that had awoken me to Lenore’s presence to begin with? She was no substitute for the one, which I would never have again, and that I had allowed her to entice me from my slumber was a mistake.

Still I could not send her away until I could safely return her to Sandstorm Outpost. It was as I dwelt upon these thoughts that I heard her cry out in her dreams, crying out for her mother in such pain that I felt it in my own heart, a pain I wished not to feel, but I could not separate myself from it, I could not leave her in such agony. It was then that I violated her. Oh not intentionally, and not in the way that the beasts from the Dart had, but it was the connection forged by my blood that now lay open and unprotected between us that revealed her dreams to me as clearly as if they had been my own.

There was ice and snow everywhere and Lenore hid half suffocating half freezing in the recesses or a tiny ice shelter. I saw through her eyes, her thoughts were my own, even as I recovered the data that would have allowed me to close the connection between us enough for her to maintain her privacy, I did not.

Helplessly she watched the man from the ship shove her mother into the snow. “Mama!” I felt the wind freeze the words to ice in her throat, her cry swallowed up by the howl. “Mama!” She cried out bursting from the drift of snow, sounding so much the child that she must have been on Taklamakan Minor. Her pain, her pain! It was not physical, but it was a pain I understood to be so very much worse. I felt it with no shield, I felt as though this moment I lived it, as though this moment I lived it for her. But her pain was nothing to her fear, cold terror in the pit of her stomach, my stomach, clenching her heart, my heart. I was cold, I was terrified and I could not get to my mother. I was not fast enough. I was not fast enough! Pain! Cold, icy cold! Fear beyond what a child should endure, beyond what anyone should endure as I tried to run to my mother. Then the dreamscape slowed to an agonizing pace, like the dragging quick sands my sensors told me had limited the growth of my salvage dump to the south. I did not want the moments to drag out, I wanted only to wake up. I did not want to hear my mother yell for me to run, to hide. I did not want to see the knife brighter, than the cold sun slip up into my mother’s heart. And the man turned away without looking back, leaving me to die. Leaving me alone in this horrible place, for I knew beyond knowing that my mama was dead, and no one would come for me.

It was then that Lenore burst up out of sleep sat up in her bed and sobbed into her hands, and I … I left her to suffer alone, severing the connection, but not before the wave of her own anguish broke over me to join with my own.

 

Len had no desire to sleep after the dream. Instead she wondered the limited space that was lit for her access. There were tantalizing passageways that disappeared into deep darkness, there were ladders that disappeared up into rising tunnels. The lift took her to multiple floors, but all of them were darkened, all of them were frightening, forbidding, leading who knew where into the inner recesses of an SNT ship whose mental stability she was unsure of. Had Ascent killed his own compliment? So little was known about what had actually happened during the SNT Uprising, what was truth and what was rumor. All she could really do was speculate. What she did know for certain, deep in her gut, was that whatever had happened to the SNTs, the Authority had been to blame, as they had with her mother’s death. She wrapped her arms around herself and fought back the memories she didn’t want to revisit. It had been a long time since she dreamed that dream. She hated it above all the nightmares that had visited her since her mother and she arrived on Tak Minor. It was the one she could never escape, the one that she had actually lived in the waking world, and she could no more stop the dream when it happened than she’d been able to stop the events in the real world.

She walked the confines of the space Ascent had lit for her again and again until she was tired, but she still didn’t want to return to her quarters and risk more dreams. She found a place at the edge of the light where the passage disappeared into the black and settled on the floor against the wall. She was angry at Ascent for having left her vulnerable to the dream after all these years. It had always been her ambition to get off Tak Major and find out what happened to her uncle and Quetzalcoatl, she had never been able to manage it, always barely surviving, always on step ahead of dehydration and hunger. It had never entered her mind that she’d connect with another SNT, and in this way, nor had she thought what might happen when she did, what memories and nightmares would resurface. And now what? Would she spend the rest of her life here, effectively a prisoner, walking on eggshells just in case an enraged Ascent turned violent? Well, she’d lived her whole life on eggshells anyway, hadn’t she? Every ship that visited Tak Major caused her to hide in the salvage dumps until she knew for certain it wasn’t a rogue Authority ship. No one on Tak Major was fond of the rare Authority visitor, and ultimately everyone feared the shackle, but no on had reason to fear like she did. Even with Abriad Fallon’s strange death, indentureds were inherited wealth, so the indentureds would never be free. And she would never be out of the shadow of the shackle until she could get off this rock and safely out beyond the Rim. Tak Major was all the shackle she wanted. It certainly felt like she was indentured to it.

 

 

It was the smell of breakfast that woke her from a doze. A table spread with bacon and eggs and scones had been placed next to her. The growl of her stomach was a reminder that she had not finished her dinner last night. After Ascent’s unintentional revelation, and his abrupt exit, she had lost what little was left of her appetite.

“You were not in your room. Is it not satisfactory?” Once again Ascent sounded more like a ship’s computer.

“It’s fine. I just couldn’t sleep,” she lied, rubbing her eyes. Then she shoved to her feet and settled at the table. “I would have come back for breakfast if you had called me. I didn’t mean to cause you extra trouble.”

“It was no more trouble than any other meal I have set before you. Sustenance for humanoids is a part of my programming.”

SNTs were not programmed, she nearly let slip, but instead she buttered a scone and said politely, “thank you.”

She ate a few bites in silence, enjoying the flavor of some blend of black tea, something she’d not had since her early childhood. All the while she sensed him waiting expectantly. She swallowed and set aside her cutlery. “What is it, Ascent? What is it you want to say?”

“I wish to return to my slumber,” he all but blurted. This he most definitely did not sound like a ship’s computer.

“I understand,” she said, around the hammering of her heart. This was no surprise, and perhaps it was best this way when she didn’t know if she could trust him. “You know I can’t go back to Sandstorm without your help.”

“Of course I know. I have begun plans for a mode of transport that will return you to your home.”

She nearly blurted that she had no home, only a series of differing prisons, but she said. “Thank you.”

“I do not know how long it will take me, but I shall work as swiftly as I can, and I shall be too busy to socialize with you unless I am in need of your input.”

“I understand. I won’t disturb you.”

“All your needs shall be met, as always, and if I have overlooked anything you only need ask.”

“I can’t sit around my little space and do nothing during that time.”

“I understand,” came the reply. “You shall have supplies and access to the salvage yard. I only ask that you do not go beyond your supply and that you do not ration your water, as there is no need.”

“I won’t. And inside?”

“I shall open up a little more of myself so that you may have more space and comfort. You may access my library of literature and science. That I do know how to access, and I shall make it available to you. What I can open to you I shall, but I ask that you do not go into the areas that remain unlit, for it may be very dangerous in the darkness.”

“Thank you. I won’t.” Once again, she found her appetite lacking, but she forced herself to eat anyway, knowing that she would most definitely need her strength for the return journey to Sandstorm. “I would like to explore as much as possible outside. That’s why I risked coming in the first place. Perhaps I may find something of value that will help me buy space on a ship going to the Outer Rim.”

For a moment the corridor filled with the crackling static of Ascent’s silence and she froze. Finally he spoke, and she realized she had been holding her breath. “That is a very long way from here,” he commented.

“Not far enough.” The bitterness bled through in her voice as she recalled her escape from Authority space with her mother, and then … and then she slammed the door of unwanted memories shut.

The static of silence returned. This time her own bitterness made her less fearful. Maybe he’d just kill her and get it over with. Anything was better than living this half life.

“Lenore,” this time he did not sound like a ship at all, but like the Ascent who had held her close in the darkness. “I will not hurt you. You do not need to fear me.” There was pain in his voice that felt like a strange lump in her chest.

She let out a tight breath and looked down at her hands clenched on the table. “I know.”

“It is only that I believe it is best for both of us if you return to Sandstorm Outpost and I to my slumber. But I will do what I may to help you find salvage of enough value that you may buy your passage away from here.”

“You could take me,” she blurted out without thinking. “This place can’t be good for you either. We could go together.”

It was almost as though the whole of the corridor drew in a sharp breath. “I cannot,” he said. And then he was gone.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 24: Brand New KDG Read!

Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending.  Last week Len realised that Ascent is an SNT. This week, she contemplates the implications and the dangers of staying with an amnesiac SNT ship. For the next couple of weeks, I will be posting slightly longer episodes of Dragon because I feel it will be better for the flow and enhance your reading pleasure by allowing these posts the extra length necessary to complete the scene. 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!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.  

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 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 24: Not My Memories

Ascent was an SNT!

The thought screamed across her consciousness flashing supernova bright. But she swallowed back the urge to blurt it out as quickly as it had come, hoping they were not so connected that he could read her mind. It should have been obvious to her from the beginning. Thinking back now, hadn’t it been plucking at the back of her mind since she first woke up? How could she not have made the connection considering the household she’d been raised in, with her mother doing what she did and her uncle … ending up like he had? How could she not have seen the signs? And yet under the circumstance it should have been impossible for an SNT to be here buried in a Tak Major salvage dump. It made no sense at all that he should be here. Her skin prickled, and she forced herself to breathe deeply, to calm down. That her uncle’s fate was still unknown unlike so many of the SNTs and their compliments made her hold her tongue. Ascent didn’t remember who he was. Ascent! The strange name suddenly made sense Ascent SNT! Whatever had happened to him had been that traumatic. An SNT with no memories of who he was or what had happened to him or what he had done could be a very dangerous thing. And, sweet Vaticana Jesu, she had his biological soup running through her veins now.

“Ascent,” she sat up on the edge of the bed, then stood to pace feeling him watching her intently, “What do you remember before I woke you from your long sleep?”

“Nothing,” the answer was quick and sharp edged. She stopped pacing and froze, feeling the skin crawl on the back of her neck. Then he added more gently, “I do not know how long I have slept here in this place. Lenore, you are frightened, why?”

“Do you want to know your past,” she asked.

“I wanted very much to know … facts, information, data. When you were dying and I could not help you, I wanted, I tried, I raged to access what I needed to know in order to heal you. I could not. There are other parts of me, however, that I wish never to access again. They make me feel things I do not wish to feel.”

She stopped pacing and sat back down on the edge of the bed. “These memories, the ones you don’t want to access. Is it that you aren’t willing to access them, or is it that you can’t?”

For a moment the stillness in the room was electric. If it had not been for that feel of static and tension she’d felt in his presence before, she would have thought he had left her.

“I have not examined … that part of myself closely enough to ascertain if it is one or the other. I … have slept so that I did not have to remember.”

“Ascent, before you pulled me back from the salvage yard today, I remembered horrible loss, fire swallowing up everything and the wanting nothing more than to sleep. Those weren’t my memories. Could … could your blood give me access to your memories?”

Again the feel of static passed over her skin and he said, “I do not want you accessing my memories. There is no place in them for a humanoid stranger.”

She forced a laugh. “Believe me, I don’t want to access your bad memories. I have enough of my own without yours to keep me company too. I guarantee I didn’t access them on purpose.” When he didn’t respond, she continued. “You said it had been a long time since you embraced a humanoid. That means you have, right? At some point in your life you have embraced a humanoid.”

 

 

“There are no points in my life. I have no life. I am a ship’s computer.” This time the static was cold and nearly painful, and she recalled with a sudden lurch of fear the madness of the SNTs and resolved to ask no more. He gave her no options though even if she had wanted to.

“Go and take a shower,” he said, sounding for the first time since she had known him like a ships computer. “Then rest.” And just like that he was gone.

She had no intention of sleeping after she showered. For the first time since she woke up in the place Ascent had created for her, she wasn’t anxious to linger in the cleansing cascade, her discovery making her hyper vigilant to every sound, though there were few other than the barely audible hum of the life support system. Ascent’s breath breathed out for her, she thought. And then she wondered if he would now end it because she had made him uncomfortable. She stood for a moment, frozen on the floor of the bathroom, towel clenched tightly to her breasts, heart racing, willing herself to be calm. He would know it if she was panicked. She was very young when the SNTs became infected and went on a destructive rampage, but she recalled the details only too well, details that had changed her life forever. The SNT virus had affected the organic CPUs, the brains of the SNTs, driving them into destructive madness. Several of the maddened ships had turned off their life support systems and suffocated their compliments before jettisoning them into the vacuum like so much rubbish. Others had been responsible for the deaths of millions. Had this ship been one of those? And would he suffocate her? Of course she wasn’t in the void. The atmosphere was breathable on Tak Major, if not very nice, but the ship could pump in carbon dioxide and she would die just as surely. All he needed to do, really was just abandon her to the planetoid itself. Without help, without transport, she would never make it back to Sandstorm alive.

Still none of her speculation made any sense when he had worked so hard to bring her back from the dead. Surely he wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble only to kill her again. But she had no idea how long she’d been dead before he revived her, did she? What if she was just the experiment of a demented CPU? The abilities she now had certainly weren’t natural, and then there were the memories that weren’t even hers and with the way they could communicate inside each other’s minds, was she even human at all anymore or had he created for himself a new, Frankenstein’s monster sort of companion to replace the one he’d lost? But she recalled her uncle’s connection to Quetzalcoatl. Hadn’t he said they could share thoughts, and that by being bonded to the SNT, he had abilities he could have never have had as a mere humanoid. But that bonding process had taken ages. There were the immunosuppressant drugs, the transfusions, the other things she’d not understood as a child, and then there was the actual bonding experience between ship and compliment, which was supposedly some sort of secret union that was never shared between anyone but a ship and their bonded compliment, and certainly never spoken of in any detail with anyone outside that bond. She did remember that her uncle seemed different somehow, but it wasn’t something a little girl could easily define or understand. She only knew that he was about to begin a great adventure in the most amazing ship ever. And then she lost him, and she and her mother had to flee the shackle.

By the time she was dressed, her mind was racing. If Ascent was an SNT, then which one could he be? He certainly wasn’t Raven or Ouroboros. They were both females. The sex of a ship was the sex it was born with, just like with infants. And Ascent couldn’t be Quetzalcoatl because that was her uncle’s ship, and when Ascent spoke of his compliment, he spoke of her. The others that had survived were on the far side of Authority space separated to the far corners in distant and abandoned shipyards, their locations kept secret. None of this made sense, and yet she knew as certainly as she knew her own name that Ascent was an SNT who had survived the destruction, the decommissioning and the diaspora. While Ascent had no memories of himself, the real question was had the experience driven him insane, and if so was she in danger. Not that it fucking mattered. She had no way of getting back to Sandstorm, even if she was.

She lay down on the bed, lost in her thoughts, wondering if perhaps Ascent might know something of her uncle’s fate, but for the moment, he didn’t know his own name and she was afraid to ask any more questions. She was certain she would never sleep, certain she should begin trying to plan an escape. But the thought of going back to Sandstorm was far less appealing than staying where she was. As a child, she’d only ever dreamed about growing up to be the companion of an SNT. Well, certainly this wasn’t what she had in mind, and she didn’t fancy suffocating in her sleep or finding out she was some kind of zombie created to serve a demented ship. But it was very hard to get enthusiastic about returning to Sandstorm, where at some point she would have no other choice but to turn Arji down and resign herself to a life alone, or share his bed and resign herself to a life that was a lie. She supposed that said something about her own sanity, but before she could dwell on it, she did sleep.

 

 
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