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Piloting Fury Part 39: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Thursday everyone! Fury is a day early this week because I’m out of pocket tomorrow enjoying the glorious spring weather. And to make up for missing a week, you get a double episode today as Fury and Manning,  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 39: I’m a Nobody

“Will the Authority not pursue you when they learn you have escaped and are doing business again?” I asked.

“I’m a nobody, not important, and they’ll figure if I escaped, I’ll die of the virus anyway. To them I’m already dead.” I could not miss the bitterness in his voice, and I made my first effort to move my consciousness toward him, to comfort him. He tensed, then let out a little sigh and relaxed.

“I believe to them, I am also already dead,” I said. Then I added, more than a little excited about a future that was not at all what I expected, but at least hopeful. “Once you have given me the parameters you will need for a cargo ship, the refitting will not take me long. I have but to think it to make it so.”

“Fucking hell,” he said with a low whistle. “Great trick if you can do it.”

“I assure you, I can do it. When shall we begin?”

“No time like the present,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Oh, there is one very important thing, Fury.”

“What is it, Richard Manning.”

“You’re going to have to make yourself look a whole lot less pretty. I need you to look old and battered and like I put you together with wire and a glue gun, can you do that?”

“Of course I can do that,” I said. “I am not attached to the way I look. I did not expect to remain as I am.”

“Good. Then with your insides meeting my parameters and your outsides looking like something that is barely space worthy, I think we’ll do just fine.”

That evening, I replicated another ancient Terran dish called tacos, which Manning ate with relish, washed down with a Terran drink called Margaritas. It was a celebration, he said, and so it was. It was a new beginning I had not anticipated, and while we were both awake and my decks echoed with his curses and his strange sense of humor, we both did well. But while Manning could not go without rest – especially not in his state of recovery, I did not sleep. For a few hours I worked with the schematics he had given me, creating below deck a cargo bay with another cargo bay hidden underneath for less than aboveboard goods, upgrading the shield and downgrading my outward appearance. I wished to surprise Richard Manning when he woke up.

My attention was on making my outer hull look as though it had been through several meteor storms when I heard him cry out in his sleep. While his vital signs were within the normal range, it was obvious he was in REM dream state and his dreams were not pleasant. I went to him without thinking. While I had avoided going into the chamber I had set aside for him, as much for his privacy as for the fact that it was to have belonged to my compliment, I entered now, and I was moved as I had never been moved before.

He lay naked with the coverings thrown off his body, which glistened with the perspiration of his stressful dreams, and he fought valiantly with whatever demon it was that had invaded his unconscious world. While I had seen him naked many times during his healing process, I had never seen him so vulnerable, nor had I realized just how nearly healed he now was.

He cried out again, loud enough that it would have startled another humanoid. It was then that I discovered I had the ability to do more than replicate molecules. With what, at the time, was little more than my ability to imagine what his caress had felt like against my console, I created such a caress and touched him gently on the shoulder.

“Richard Manning, wake up. You are having a bad dream.”

He came into the waking world with a shriek of terror, shoving himself into a seated position on the bed. His pulse was much too fast, and I found that I could create an embrace of sort, as I had seen represented among humanoids as an act of comfort, as an act of affection, as I had often imagined doing with my compliment. In truth Richard Manning was my compliment now, and seeing that his needs were met was paramount.

I had not expected tears when he woke up from the nightmare. I knew enough about the strange codes of manliness most humanoid males lived by to understand that the shedding of tears was not an acceptable show of manhood, that he might be embarrassed by the act. But I also understood that that this humanoid had been shaken to the core by what demons had confronted him in the world of his dreams. And I was feeling quite vulnerable myself under our shared circumstances.

“I’m sorry,” he managed between gasps for breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“You cannot disturb me, Richard Manning. You are the only humanoid onboard. You will always be my central concern.”

“That doesn’t make me particularly comfortable,” he said.

“You will get used to it.”

“Not that I’m sorry for you waking me up right now, believe me.” When he had calmed a little, and I sensed his unease at my closeness and I pulled my physicality back enough to eliminate his discomfort. “I am always at your service.”

For a time, he sat in silence, his hands resting on his thighs, but in that way of humanoids, I could see the tension, feel the slight acceleration of pulse that informed me, he wished to speak, but was not quite sure he should. “Richard Manning, you may always speak freely with me. If you wish to talk about your dream, I will listen. It is not as though I will divulge to anyone your secrets.”

At that, he offered a hiccup of a chuckle. “No, I suppose not.”

 

 

I replicated a glass of water for him and waited quietly while he drank it in thirsty gulps.

At last he spoke. “When the Authority arrested me, I wasn’t alone on the Bourdieu. My cargo was humanoid, a dozen fugitives escaping the shackle. Friends of theirs smuggled them off Terra Nova Prime on the night before they were taken. Three families with small children, and two promising young bioengineers. I was transporting them to the outer rim and to freedom. They were hiding in the cargo bay. When I smuggled people, I had a plan for if we were ever boarded. There was a space we’d created that was sensor proof. If we were boarded it would always appear that there was only one person onboard the ship. I always set the Bourdieu on a laid in course for the safest spot, just in case I was arrested. Up until that time it had never happened. The ship always looked empty, and while I might get a fine for some trumped up infraction, it was the most the Authority could charge me with, which I paid off, thumbed my nose at their backsides and delivered my cargo safely to their destinations. Of course as a smuggler, the odds are never in your favor if you get boarded. You learn to stack the deck. I knew that and my passengers all knew that. Whatever risk they were taking with me were risks they all took willingly, and with good reasons.” He paused for a moment, swallowing hard, his shoulders tense, his breathing harsh and uneven. I feared he might be about to vomit, but instead the tears returned to his eyes. “Fritz, the bastard who betrayed us thought he’d get the ship. Instead, he was lucky to get off without ending up in a shackle. The Authority Hunters, they didn’t give the ship to anyone. They didn’t even tractor it back to spaceport. They just blew it up. Fifteen people onboard in the hold, and the bloody fuckers knew it. They knew it. All I could do was watch.”

This time when I moved to embrace him, he did not push me away, and I formed the molecular structure as close to a humanoid hand as I could and stroked his back, making sure that I had enough of a physical form for him to hold on to and to rest his body against. “I am very sorry for your loss, Richard Manning. There has been so very much loss, and far too little hope. But you are free now, and you are with me. We will press on, as we must, in spite of our losses.”

He gave a slight nod against me and pulled closer to me. For what seemed like an age, and that to me, one who can measure the passage of space time in nanoseconds, we held each other. But it was long enough for me to perceive that his pain, though deeper than anything I could reach to heal, was manifesting itself in the humanoid way I myself felt but did not fully understand, in the desire to be intimate.

That I understood that desire, that I anticipated it and responded to it so quickly still astounds me, in that I had no experience of humanoid intimacy other than what I could call up in my database. But when Richard Manning sought me out with his lips, I was ready, my molecules forming and shaping to his needs, which were so deeply my own. I could barely comprehend that the press of his kiss, the exploration of his tongue, the movement of his hands over the shape of me that formed instantaneously at his body’s desire, were indeed my own desires, what I would have done with my compliment once we had gotten to know each other. I reminded myself once again, as he guided the hand I had formed down to his erect penis, that this humanoid, this wounded and damaged humanoid who needed almost as desperately as I did, was indeed now my compliment. It would be to him that I would give myself for the first time, for every time, as long and as often as he had desire for me – as we had desire for each other.

“Fury, I need you,” he whispered as he pulled away from my mouth just enough for his teeth to rake over the lips I had not known I could create, the lips I had not known could feel such electrifying sensations.

“And I need you, Richard Manning. I very much need you.” With that I guided his hand down to my own physical need, the biology of me, heavy and hard and more ready than I could have ever imagined, ready to explore this physical side of my nature. Richard Manning was willing and able and intuitive, as he guided me, for the first time, in the pleasures of the flesh and the intimate act that would, with time, bring healing for both of us.

 

“Fury, are you familiar with the ancient Terran term, TMI.” It was the sound of Manning’s voice that made me aware that I was floating in that space between wakefulness and sleep. Manning reached over me and slapped Fury on the flank.

“I am indeed familiar with the term, Richard Manning.” Fury reached to return the favor, pausing to kiss my neck. “But our Diana Mac knows us both intimately, and all she need do is look, and all will be revealed.”

“I wouldn’t do that. Not without permission,” I said.

“Permission is not needed amongst us, at least it should not be, and something passed between him and Manning that was lost to me because after such a dream, all three of us were in dire need of a cold shower if we didn’t take care of each other. And lying sandwiched between too such virile males, I was soon rendered speechless and probably would have forgotten my own name, let alone the need to pursue the intimacy issue between the three of us. After that, the sleep was dreamless.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 36: Brand New KDG Read

I apologise that Fury is a day late this week. I didn’t plan my time very well and the week ran out before I had Fury ready.  But learning how Fury and Manning became a team is worth waiting an extra day for, I promise you. And this week, we learn how Fury found Manning.  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. (Except on the odd occasion when I’m a day late, of course 🙂 )

 

 

“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 36: Frankenstein’s Monsters

“May Day! May Day! This it the Pegasus. May Day … need …elp”

The com crackled and failed as the systems overloaded. I had but an instant to react. I locked onto the humanoid and transported him then jumped to a safe distance as the Pegasus lit up space in an explosion far too large for the small ship, but that mattered less than the humanoid I had transported. I had transported him straight to medico. Whatever the cargo had been, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was not completely above board.

The humanoid was in an environment suit, which had, no doubt, saved his life. I was still not well versed in the manipulating of my molecules that I might assume a useful form as a medic. Fortunately the auto surgery could be set to deal with severe radiation poisoning. As the suit was cut away from his body, I had my first contact with a humanoid male. With the tools of the auto surgery, I worked for the next few hours stabilising the man, who suffered severe burns over most of his body. That was easy enough to fix with a small injection of my own biological tissue, though I knew I would have to deal with his body’s rejection, for it was designed to nurture and heal and be compatible with one person only, my compliment. With high doses of anti rejection drugs meant to be used only in case of the need for an organ transplant, I was able to get the man’s mangled flesh to accept the injection. Three times the man went into cardiac arrest and twice he was dead on the table. I injected him again and again with my own organic matter. “If you live,” I spoke out loud after yet another battle to stabilise him, “then you shall be as much Frankenstein’s monster as I. What a pair we shall be.” What I had planned, or rather what I hadn’t really planned at all, but simply did by instinct, had never been done before. I was certain that in the wildest dreams of those who created the SNTs, of those who donated sperm and egg for me and my compliment, no one could have ever imagined that an SNT could survive without a compliment. In fact, it was the plan of the Authorities to eliminate the compliments from their ships, thus rendering the ships helpless thus allowing them to insert a compliment of their choice. They found that it was not possible for them to do so. Destroy one and the other could not be salvaged. Certainly it had never been considered that I might create my own compliment to replace the one I was certain at that point I would never see again.

 

 

As I worked to keep this humanoid alive I spoke to him constantly, for it was my voice he needed to bond with above all else if we were to compliment each other. Beyond that bonding effort, it eased my loneliness to do so, as I believe it reassured him that he was not suffering alone. I learned very early that this one could fluently curse in multiple languages, and his repertoire included fecund phrases of which even I with my large database was not familiar. However most of our conversation, by that time was non-verbal, as the injections of my biogenetic materials had connected us.

“Where am I?” he asked, when he was conscious enough to be aware that he was, indeed, alive and no longer onboard the Pegasus.

“You are onboard SNT Fury,” I replied, bracing myself, expecting horror or disgust, perhaps fear. I got none of those.

“Out of the frying pan into the fire, I guess then.” He said with no more emotion that if he had just told me the weather on Vega Prime.

“That is an accurate observation. Though at the moment we are safely cloaked and on our way to the outer rim.”

“And the Pegasus?”

“I’m afraid your ship is no more.” I said.

I believe the man actually chuckled and offered a smile that, in his present condition, was little more than a grimace. “That’s all right. It wasn’t my ship.” With an effort I found monumentally impressive considering he was only just barely alive. He lifted his left arm the small shackle incision on his left forearm that identified him as an indentured. “Did it work?”

He shook the arm at me. “I need to know, did it work. Jesus Christ if it didn’t then Fuck me if I know what will, but you listen to me, SNT Fury whatever the hell you call yourself, if I’m infected, you let me die. You fucking let me die, do you understand? I’m not going to waste away on some goddamned plague planet.” He fell back onto the table exhausted, but not so much so that he didn’t shake his arm at me again.

Mind you I was too astounded by the chain of events I was now piecing together to do anything else but examine his shackle, and since my exile and the deaths of my brothers and sisters was so closely tied to this despicable virus, it was of a great deal of interest. “You destroyed the Pegasus on purpose?” I asked, as I carefully made an incision to open the skin above the shackle.

“To kill the bloody virus, yes! Did it work?”

“The virus is irradiated, so yes it worked. And while you are in the auto-surgeon, I shall remove the empty shackle as well.”

I had not thought of flooding the decks with high levels of radiation. Perhaps that would serve to destroy the virus on those SNTs that still remained. I was not sure that the device Dr. Keen had implanted in each of us as a means of conveying important data between all of us simultaneously still worked, but I sent the message out anyway, with hopes that perhaps at least a few of my family would survive.

As I performed the procedure, my patient lay very still, no doubt an instinctive response for indentureds who could never forget that unauthorised tampering with a shackle resulted in infection and a long and painful death. But this shackle was doubly deactivated for not only had the device been destroyed by the radiation, the man had effectively died twice in the auto surgery. He could not have been brought back had his body now contained my biological material. Once I had removed the device I put it aside. It would be worth studying in the future. It was only as I finished that I realised there were tears in my patient’s eyes. “I’ve worn that damn thing for the past three years,” he said. “You have no idea how glad I am to be rid of the fucker.”

“Perhaps this day I do,” I replied, then I added quickly, “oh not to be shackled, of course, but to be a fugitive, unable to go home.”

For a moment, I had the sense that the humanoid was studying me, though of course he could neither see me nor perceive where I might be. You must remember, however, at that point in my young life I was as unsure of my boundaries as this man must surely have been. At last he spoke. “Yes. I’d imagine so. I’m Manning, by the way, Richard Manning. Very pleased to meet you SNT Fury.” With that he convulsed and went into cardiac arrest.

“No! No don’t. Please. Not yet. Please, Fury.” I woke with Manning thrashing against me, his heart racing and his body sheened in sweat.

“Do not wake him,” Fury reached over me, and I had the sense that he now completely embraced both of us and Manning instantly relaxed back into deep, peaceful sleep. “There are parts our story that are best left for Richard Manning to tell, Diana Mac. He will tell you when he is ready. But sleep again, and I shall tell you my part of our story.” I fell instantly back to sleep and once again I saw the world through Fury’s eyes.

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 34: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. The first Covid 19 jab happened last Saturday! Bravo! We’re halfway there. That automatically makes me feel better.  I hope you are all staying safe, and that means following whatever lockdown rules are in place wherever you are. We’ll get through this together and celebrate on the other side. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. Last week we left Fury, Manning and Fury dreaming together. This week Captain Evander and the crew of the Dubrovnik are forced to take extreme measures.

 

 

“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 34: Extreme Measures

Apocalypse attacking. Fury’s identity and destination known. Pandora’s box opened. Mission compromised.

Evander Harker played the message back once more and then deleted it. For a moment, Dr. Ingrid Flissy and Security chief, Jelik Ivan only stared down at the device as though they feared it might explode. Then Flissy spoke. “Does Lebedny know you know?”

“If he does he’s pretending not to, but this was on my private subspace channel. It was only a general distress call to those who it might affect.”

“Which includes us,” Ivan said, chewing on his lip.

 

 

“Which includes us,” Harker said. “We knew it would happen, we knew it when we signed on. But clearly Lebedny got this message too, just like Rab would have, and that means we’ve been compromised. We’ve got to act fast – especially if the Apocalypse is in on the action. We’re closer to Plague 1 than anyone else, and once the truth is known, all that we’ve worked for will be lost. We’ve got to go, and we can’t go with Fallon’s lackeys onboard.”

“So what do you have in mind?” Flissy said rubbing her hands against her trousered thighs as though she were suddenly cold, or anxious to get started. Knowing her as Harker did, it was the latter.

He leaned over his private console and pulled up the camera from the sub-basement. “Do all the hibernation pods still work?”

“They do. I just tested them last week.”

“How many of them are there?” Ivan asked.

“Enough,” she said, holding the captain’s eye.

The hibernation pods were the last defense in case of a deep space evacuation. Once the regular escape pods were full, or if they were compromised, there was room in them for a third of the crew – individual cryo-beds equipped with powerful homing beacons and a very basic auto navigation system that would always guide the pod toward the main space routes and the most populated areas. A humanoid could survive in a pod for possibly up to a hundred galactic years, maybe more, though the longest ever survivor from a shipwreck was seventy-two years. Harker straightened his jacket and squared his shoulders. “Difficult times call for difficult decisions.”

“Personally,” Flissy said, “I’m for blowing the fuckers out the airlock.”

Ivan grunted, “Your bedside manner’s appalling, Fliss, but I don’t disagree.”

“Everyone of those people live under the threat of the shackle, just like we do,” Evander said. “That’s not their fault. All I want is them safely, and permanently, out of the way until we get the situation sorted.” He studied his two closet allies and friends and blew out a sharp breath. “We all know this shot in the dark at best. At worst it’ll be a shackle for every one of the crew who’ve served this ship so faithfully all these years.”

“And you know every one in that crew would take the risk,” Flissy replied, and Ivan nodded agreement.

“All right then,” Harker said. “this needs to happen fast. If the Apocalypse is heading for Plague 1, we don’t have much time. It’s got to be fast and efficient. Any ideas?”

“A radiation leak,” Flissy said, then she waved her hand dismissively. “Oh not a real one, but that sort of thing can be faked easily enough. Thomson and Freeman in engineering, they can make it completely believable. The subbasement has always been the place the crew gathers if there’s a leak because it’s double shielded. Standard operating procedure is to give everyone a shot for radiation poisoning just in case. I line ‘em up, inject the Dubrovnik crew with a placebo and Fallon’s bitches with a nice strong knock-out drug. Voila,” she snapped her fingers. “They wake up … well who knows where the hell they wake up?”

“Or when,” Ivan added.

The doctor stood and looked down at the subbasement camera and its gruesome compliment of pods. “We can quarantine people in separate groups, you know, so no one will notice when people start dropping like flies. I’ll get Sutter and Leland to help me administer the shots and we’ll let people in one at a time. Safety protocols and all that shit. Everyone knows how anal I am. It won’t surprise anyone that I want people coming through three at a time.”

“It’s a good plan,” Harker said, but our timing will have to be perfect.”

“That’ll never happen,” Ivan spoke up. “It may go like clockwork. I hope to hell it does, but we need to be prepared if we hit a few bumps.”

“What do you suggest,” Harker said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

“We know the loyal core aboard the Dubrovnik. We’ve had each other’s back for a long time now. Give me,” he looked down at his chronograph, “Two hours to spread the word, and pass out weapons. Just in case. We won’t get a second chance.”

“We don’t have two hours unless we multi-task.” Harker said. “While Juarez is not the pilot McAllister was by a long stretch, his lack of experience is exactly what we need. I’ll over-ride the course computer and load in the coordinates for the fastest route to Plague 1 and tell him I’m experimenting with a faster route. If we can pull it all together fast enough, that’s exactly what it’ll look like I’m doing. If not, well then we need to be sure that our own people are armed and ready if they need to be.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 32: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. Last week we had the unpleasant experience of meeting Gerando’s father. This week Fury talks about his beginnings.

 

 

“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 32: SNT1 Fury

We sat on the bridge, Manning and me looking slightly worse for the wear. And Fury, well at the moment, I considered Fury the console I had fondled and caressed and talked to so often while piloting the ship. It was my suggestion that we go to the bridge because I wanted a physical representation of Fury there with us, though I had been reassured that none of the ship was a more accurate representation of Fury than any other.

“Are you the only SNT left?” I asked, still trying to get my head around the fact that just a few days ago I would have pushed the self-destruct button on any SNT ship that crossed my path without thinking twice. But then up until a few days ago, I thought they were all gone and certainly I never imagined I’d make love with one.

“I do not know,” came the reply. “There are confirmations of the deaths and destructions of nine SNTs and their bonded humaniod compliments. Three more are rumored to have been decommissioned and rendered harmless in remote space docks, the locations of which are top secret. As for Quetzalcoatl, Raven and Ouroboros, no one knows what has happened to them.” He added quickly, “If they do still exist, they will not want to be discovered any more than I do at this time.”

I turned my attention to Manning. “Then you’re Fury’s compliment?”

“I am.”

“You don’t look old enough to be bonded to an SNT,” I said.

He sipped his coffee and then stared down into the cup. “There were extenuating circumstances. While Fury was the only SNT born from a fertilized ovum, he was the last of the SNTs to be launched.”

“Being born rather than built as my brothers and sisters were, it took me somewhat longer to mature, you see,” Fury clarified.

“In spite of his late birth, Fury’s the prototype for the other SNTs.” Manning waved a dismissive hand. “It’s complicated. Anyway, bonding with me, well that wasn’t exactly a part of the plan.”

“Oh?” I stroked the console and then pulled my hand away struck by just how used to touching Fury I had become, and how important that touch had been almost from the beginning.

I was surprised when it was Fury who answered. “I suppose you could say that Richard Manning was shanghaied into working with me in much the same way you were.”

“I don’t understand.”

 

 

“It was theorized that I would have a stronger survival instinct, a deeper bond with my humanoid compliment than the other SNTs. My technology is far more sophisticated and was self-aware before my birth. In the early days of experimentation, it was believed that inserting the nanotechnology into an artificially fertilized ovum, just at the point of the sperm joining the egg was the process through which to grow a brain and a central nervous system that not only would become the core of a ship, but that would be, quite literally born to it. Most of those experiments failed very early on. I was the only one suited to the task. When it became evident that it would take far too long to birth a fleet of ships into existence, the cloning process was perfected using material from those Dr. Keen and his people felt most suited to the task. Contrary to what the world was told, no one was surgically implanted at the core of any SNT. The material, other than my own, was cloned. In fact some of my own genetic material was used for my brothers and sisters to enhance them, make them more like I would be when I was finally born. The other ships were up and operational long before my birth, and yet Professor Keen saw me as the next generation of SNTs. His plan was to clone me once I was ready. There are parts of my own circuitry, parts of my own consciousness that I do not have access to, much that I do not understand because I was sent out into the world before I was completed, sent out without my bonded compliment.”

“Jesus! How the hell can that even be?” I asked. “The SNT is as dependent on its bonded compliment as the compliment is on the SNT.”

“In most cases yes, and as I said, I was not complete, but I was highly functional, and able to accomplish the mission necessary. In addition I believe Dr. Keen wished me to survive above all others because I was unique. He … offered me a chance to evolve. It is he who holds the key to a great deal of my past, but then I am not entirely convinced that even he knows the whole story.”

“How did you escape,” I asked.

“I am also unique in that I can change and redesign my circuitry as well as my outer appearance to look, and to work as I, or my bonded needs me to. That means that with Richard Manning’s help, I am able to look the part of a small cargo ship, a barely disguised smugglers craft. While he has eyes in places I do not, I have a very large, very extensive database that is always growing, There are, in fact, parts of my database even I have not yet explored, though I find I am able to access whatever I need when and as I need it. Perhaps this was true for all SNTs had they been allowed to evolve and discover themselves as was originally the plan, but I fear we shall never know. It was, however, that fact that helped Richard Manning and I to escape the destruction of the SNTs. For example, while I was unaware of the McAllister Wormhole until you brought it to my attention, I know of other wormholes, I know of other sling shot maneuvers, I know of other ways to escape to the Outer Rim and to reinvent myself, as you call it. Since much of what is in my database I can find no analogue for in our galaxy, I am led to believe that perhaps at least some of my biological components are not even from this galaxy, or are from a part so remote that it has yet to be discovered and explored.”

I stood and began to pace in the tight space of the bridge. “Did you know my father and the Merlin?”

“Only by reputation,” Fury replied. “Your father was a great man, the head of the SNT Fleet. The Merlin was its flagship. I learned about him in my infancy. I was not yet out of space dock when the Phoenix incident happened. My first and only mission was to reach your father and the Merlin at Cerberus 5, Professor Keen sent me out unbonded. He knew that there was a problem, and he suspected that it was sabotage of the SNTs by some of the conglomerates in the Authority. He also knew that because of my unique bio-technology, I could not be compromised by the virus. This was essential if we were to find out the truth. My mission, my only mission, was to collect top-secret data from your father and the Merlin before they were destroyed. It was a mission I would have been unable to complete, but for two things, your father sent the data I was to gather in your escape pod. What we discovered, what Professor Keen would have shared with you had there been time, is that the Merlin was not compromised by the SNT virus, that the ship was immune. It had somehow gained immunity from you father in their bonding, which is why you have survived the infection.”

“Jesus,” I whispered. “Were you the ship that rescued me?”

“ I am sorry to say, I was not, Diana Mac. To do so would have compromised a mission that I could not compromise. But it was I who sent your coordinates for rescue.” Then he added in a voice laced with sadness, “Had I known, however, what the Authority, what Fallon would do to you, I would have taken you onboard as my own no matter the risk.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 29: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. While last week, Mac and Manning were celebrating, this week Rab and Gerando are in detective mode. Enjoy.

 

 

“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 29: Not Just Any SNT

Back onboard the Ares, Gerando and Rab were alone. Before this little cluster fuck, the kid had sent his bullyboys off gambling, afraid McAllister would recognize them if they all packed into the Corsair like a goddamned birthday party. Rab sat Junior down and set the auto-doc to work on his hand. There were several broken bones and some damaged ligaments, but nothing the med-bot couldn’t fix in a few hours. The kid had been silent as the grave since he finally calmed down. He looked grey with exhaustion, symptoms Rab had seen in one of the indentureds he’d served with who periodically had strange fits. Once the fits passed, he was exhausted and dead quiet. He had the kid drinking one of the electrolyte formulas from the replicator. It kept him off the booze. Besides Rab reckoned he needed it. He looked like death on a cracker.

“Never seen anything like that mol-tran,” Rab said. While the auto-doc treated Gerando’s hand, he made himself useful by checking the Ares sensor scans for the last few hours while they’d been at the Corsair. “Nothing on long, or short range scanners that I can see,” he said. “It isn’t possible that the Fury could have been in doc. As soon as they ‘tranned, I did a quick sweep. Thanks to the toys your old man gave us, that kind of activity I’d have picked up.” When Gerando gave him a vacant look, he added. “I did that while you were trashing the place.” The kid nodded like that made everything clear, and then Rab could see the wheels turning, as his brain started to wake up and pay attention.

“One minute they were there and the next they were gone,” Gerando said. “Just gone, and I had McAllister right there in my grip. She didn’t call out to anyone, she didn’t use any kind of communicator. She didn’t do anything except head butt the hell out of me. Might need the auto-doc to check for whiplash.” He rubbed his neck with his good hand and for a second seemed lost in concentration. “Manning said something just before they ‘tranned, but it was so soft, I couldn’t hear him. Did you hear him?”

Rab shook his head. For the moment the two sat in silence with Rab flipping mindlessly through the Ares scans, and not a clue what he was looking for. “Hell, any mol-tran I’ve ever seen would have taken out you and me and most of the blokes in the pisser, not to mention a quarter of the bar. But then most of those were off-system, used for industrial and freight transport only. Probably crush humanoid molecules to a pulp.”

“Pretty sophisticated tech.” Junior ran his teeth over his lower lip and craned his neck to see what Rab was seeing, which was a whole lot of nothing. “Did you tell my father our plan?”

“Course I didn’t.” Fucking hell, Rab hated feeling like a misbehaving brat about to get in trouble. He never had that problem on the Dubrovnik. He did his job and minded his own business and everyone else did the same. “We got lucky was all.”

“Some fucking luck,” the kid mumbled.

“That McAllister was there at all, I mean. That was just dumb luck, just a hunch. I’ve seen the woman win at poker. In fact I never seen her lose until she lost to Manning the night she disappeared. The woman could scam the skin off a fire toad. Saving every credit, she was, trying to buy her contract back.”

 

 

Junior grunted. “If she won half of the outer rim, the old man wouldn’t let her go. The way he sees it, she’s the last link to the SNTs. She might know stuff he wants to know, her DNA might contain information he can use, and the way he sees it, she’s too dangerous to be a free woman.” The kid shrugged. “I never saw what the big deal was about her. I mean okay, she looks pretty fine now that her hair’s grown back out. The old man used to make her keep it short, butch-like, and he kept her thin, like she was a boy. Like he went out of his way to make sure no one would look at her.” He shrugged. “I never understood why he did it. He just kept her around to toy with, and she … well she did teach me how to fly. He wouldn’t let me fuck her though.”

Hell, the kid spoke like they were discussing the weather instead of the violation of another person, one barely more than a little girl. It was a slap in the face reminder to Rab that this kid had been raised by a monster, and that monster’s DNA ran through his blood. He shivered.

“My point is, we don’t really need to tell him about anything do we? We were just following a lead that fell through. That’s all.”

They both knew Fallon would figure it out, and he’d cut them no slack, never mind that their plan absolutely would have worked if Manning hadn’t ‘tranned McAllister out, and that still bothered Rab.

Fuck if he wasn’t relieved that McAllister had gotten away again. She was his only job at the moment. She was the key to his staying free and living out the rest of his life fat and happy and dandling grandkids on his knee in his old age. The kid would have raped her — probably worse. Rab knew he would only have control over her treatment as long as he was aboard the Ares, and even then he had to sleep sometime. Then there was Fallon senior’s displeasure at having his prize possession escape from under his nose. He wasn’t entirely sure Daddy would mind if Sonny-boy had a go with his toy before he dropped her back into the lion’s den. And none of that was his concern, he reminded himself. Still it didn’t set well thinking of her abused like that. She was a good pilot, a good person as far as he could tell and here he was hunting her down like some animal on a game reserve. Fuck! He wondered who the monster really was.

“You know, you’re right about that mol-tran,” the kid said, bringing his focus back to the present. “That sort of thing isn’t even possible, and it sure as fuck can’t be done by a cloaked ship. Hell a decent cloaking device is even harder to come by than a mol-tran that can ‘trann humanoids. I’ve been trying to get both for the Ares for years now, and even with my name, and me throwing around credits like it’s Vaticana Christmas. I did finally got my hands on a mol-tran that would do the job and not scramble my brain,” he leaned forward and gave Rab a confidential chuckle. “Jakes and Ribbons, I’m not too sure about though.”

“Not to sure about you either, buck,” Rab said, and the kid only shrugged.

“I’m a Fallon, I reckon the slop in my brain is a pre-existing condition.” He looked down into his empty electrolyte glass. “Mol-tran is one thing, but a cloaking device more than only partially effective, well that just flat out doesn’t exist.”

And then it hit Rab like a ton of triax ore. “It does exist though, or at least it did.”

“Shit!” Fallon made the word long and drawn out, followed by a flinch as the auto-doc engaged the bone-knit. “On the SNTs it did – both mol-tran and a sophisticated cloaking device far better than any technology we have now. They were possible because the ships were biotech. Fuck me! Surely you don’t think the Fury’s an SNT? You said according to Gruber the ship was barely space worthy.

“You ever hear of hiding in plain sight? If the SNTs were capable of cloaking, couldn’t they change their appearance too? Think about it? The Authority Hunters were all over that abandon space station where Blake led them. He had it all set up. There was no escape for them. The bastard’s not about to sacrifice his skin to an Authority shackle, and all the better if a little snitching got him some serious profit on top. Goddman Polyphemians. You can’t trust any of them. But never mind that. We know for a fact that the Fury was there. The hunters caught the transmissions between the two ships just before Blake jumped. Blake saw it, gave coordinates too exact to make up. The Hunters combed that station with every scanner the Authority has. If they can’t find it with all of their tech, it can’t be found. And yet there was nothing. Nada. Their conclusion was that there must have been an escape route Blake didn’t know about. But what if the Fury was there all along, just hiding in plane sight?”

“Shiiit!” Junior said again. The auto-doc gave a warning for him to sit still. “If we’re right, then the Fury is not just an SNT, the Fury is SNT1. Only SNT1 has the capability to change the appearance of its outer structure quick and easy-like. The others could do it, but they had to evolve to it. SNT1was actually born, created from a humanoid embryo. It could manipulate molecules into anything it wanted. Only SNT1 could look like a bucket of bolts and fly like a goddamned angel.”

 

 
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