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Piloting Fury Part 30: 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 left Rab and Gerando in detective mode. This week, while their sleuthing pays off, they get a surprise visit from a very unwelcome visitor arrives.  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 30: An Unwelcome Visitor

Rab scratched his chin. “They would have had to jump like fucking jackrabbits to get far enough out of there and leave no trace to be followed.” He rubbed his belly. “Makes me green around the gills to even think about it. Anyway, how the hell do you know so goddamned much about the SNTs?”

If Rab didn’t know better, he could have sworn the kid blushed. “I know everything there is in the Authority data base about the SNTs and a few things that aren’t public knowledge.” He grunted a sour chuckle. “Even my father doesn’t know that I hacked him. I was obsessed with them. They’re the reason I wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to be compliment to an SNT. Woulda got me away from … shit. Then, you know … everything happened like it did.”

Rab looked up from his efforts at checking through the Ares’ computer scanners for something, anything. “Woulda never figured you for the compliment type. In your case, I doubt anyone would have blamed an SNT for offing its compliment.”

The kid gave him the finger with his good hand, then flinched again as the bone-knitting process got down to the more delicate work.

“If we had the exact time McAllister and Manning Mol-tranned out, we might be able to pick up something jumping an instant later.”

Junior made a one-handed effort to pull his device free from his pocket. “This won’t be exact, but pretty damn close. The old man messaged me, shit, it couldn’t have been a minute before I grabbed McAllister. I’d just had time to tell him to fuck off, I was busy. And then …” He fidgeted with his device, “ … he messaged me back. I felt the signal just as Manning appeared and grabbed McAllister away from me. I remember thinking it was something Manning had done to me. You know how it is in that split second when things don’t quite add up. By the time I connected the dots, they were gone” He pulled up the message and gave a bitter laugh as he read out loud.

Busy had better mean finding Diana McAllister.

“The sentimental old fart,” Rab grumbled. The kid handed his his device and Rab entered the time of the message into the search parameters of the Ares. “There it is. Gotta be.”

“Where? I don’t see anything.” Junior craned his neck and the both squinted.

“Right there. See. If you back up the scan, it’s there, it’s there, it’s there and then … it’s gone.”

 

 

 

And sure enough, it was. It was only a blip, a tiny blip that someone with vision not as good as Rab’s would have missed entirely. But it was there up until a split second after the message from daddy Fallon, and then it was gone. Just gone. “Had to have mol-tranned them from high orbit. That’s all I can figure, and the blip is so small, there’s no other explanation. Bloody hell! What else could possibly do that but an SNT?”

Over the next few hours they both buried themselves in research. Rab was surprised that sonny boy really was quit an expert on the SNTs. “We don’t want to approach your old man without enough evidence to keep him from thinking we’re just making excuses,” Rab said, getting what was definitely a crash course, more than he ever wanted to know about sentient ships.

“We give him the right information, he’ll believe it,” the kid said. He was stuffing his face with something he’d replicated that looked like dirty underwear, supposedly a delicacy from somewhere in the outer rim, sitting on the floor with several devices spread around him, all displaying different SNT articles. He added around a mouthful. “The old man kept a close eye on the project. He had spies on the inside. The scientists and technicians involved sure as fuck didn’t trust him. The SNT project was funded by the Free Universities and not one credit came from the conglomerates. No matter how much my father offered in financial backing, they wouldn’t take it. I have no idea where all the money came from. I didn’t think there were any universities left that could finance their own asses without conglomerate backing. But they insisted they didn’t want the conglomerates in control.” He laughed a bitter laugh that sprayed several of the devices with crumbs. “That meant no control for the old man. Well I’m sure you can imagine how much he liked that. But there wasn’t much he could do except stay close and bribe as many people on the inside as he could. He was actually friends with several of the scientists, including Adrian McAllister. They’d gone to school together or some shit.”

“Then you knew Diana Mac before she was your father’s indentured? That must have been awkward.”

“I didn’t actually.”

Could Rab hear sadness in his voice?

“Her father kept her a secret, kept her away from the SNT project as far as I know. No one knew about her until the year before her old man bonded with the Merlin, and all of a sudden he had a daughter who was to be by his side onboard the Merlin. I probably hated her as much for that as anything, even though I didn’t know her.” Junior was no longer looking at the devices in front of him, but staring back in time at memories that Rab would guess weren’t best pleasing. “When she became my father’s indentured, I wanted her to suffer. She’d gotten what I wanted most, the only thing I’d ever wanted in my whole life, and she was nothing more than the bastard daughter of a mad scientist. I was the son of Abriad Fallon. I had whole conglomerates at my disposal, and yet she got what I wanted. I wanted her to suffer. I wanted to be the one to make her suffer.” He closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Turned out I was an amateur compared to the old man. When it came to making someone suffer, he’d been practicing on his kids for years.”

What the hell could Rab say to that? He felt a sudden chill, even though the atmosphere in the Ares was Terran standard for humanoids.

“After the SNTs fell, everyone suspected it was conglomerate sabotage responsible for the infecting of the ships,” the kid said going back to pouring over the devices.

“Is that what you think? Rab asked.

He spoke without looking up from his efforts. “Wouldn’t doubt one bit that my fucking father was at the forefront of their downfall. The old man always has to be in control. When the Free Universities wouldn’t give it over, well, business opportunity missed, plunder and pillage and all that shit. I mean what’s the point in having power if you don’t use it, right? All you gotta do is kill a few million innocent people and point the finger in the right direction and people will start screaming for heads to roll.”

Rab couldn’t argue with that, though he wished ha could. Into their silent introspection an orca class ship burst onto the view screen as if out of nowhere and before they could do more than curse, the Ares was locked in a tractor beam, being draw into the open hold of the flying castle.

“Sonovabitch,”Junior cursed. “That’s the Apocalypse, my father’s bloody ship.”

“What the fuck? Your father flits around the galaxy in an orca class ship?”

“The fucker doesn’t feel safe staying in one place, and with good reason. The Apocalypse is a flying fortress. I’ve never seen it before. He doesn’t invite any of his spawn onboard. Doesn’t trust us not to slit his throat in his sleep, I suppose.”

“Well I sure as hell don’t trust him not to slit mine,” Rab said as the Ares, seeming tiny and insignificant, was swallowed up in the maw of the Apocalypse.

Junior’s laugh was so bitter that it made Rab’s skin crawl. “Oh he’d never do anything to either of us that elementary.

 

 

His kids, most of us anyway, we just want him dead. He, on the other hand, is more about making people suffer than snuffing them.”

The knot in Rab’s stomach had tightened to an icy fist, and he wasn’t sure he wasn’t going to puke. “What the hell is he doing clear out here?”

“Doing the job you two don’t seem to be able to manage,” came the voice of Abriad Fallon over the com, and they both jumped as though they’d been shot. The icy chuckle barely sounded human. “Careful, Gerando. Your sisters and brothers won’t be best pleased with you if you give away their plans for their old man.”

The kid tightened his jaw and the muscles along his sharp cheekbones spasmed, but he made no response. Fallon continued. “Once the Ares is onboard, I will expect the pleasure of your company on the captain’s bridge.”

 

Piloting Fury: Part 22 Brand New KDG Read

It’s Fury Friday!  We left Mac and Manning and Fury in a right mess. Wherever they are, trouble is bound to find them. Time for another escape to deep space for a rollicking read. Mr. Grace and I just celebrated our anniversary on Tuesday, lockdown style, with a wonderful surprise of wine, chocolate and flowers sent to us by our gorgeous and thoughtful nieces in Kentucky. In the evening we enjoyed a live music stream with friends from all over the world with Gavin Thomas’s Songs from the Summer House. If you love good music, you can join us at the Summer House Tuesday and Saturday nights from wherever you are in the world. 8:00 PM GMT.

Meantime, while I’m still writing and planning away on the expanding Medusa’s Consortium series,  I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 22nd week. If you are, 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. Today, Mac, Manning and Fury are caught in a dangerous place. Happy reading, and stay safe out there!

 

 

“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” McAlister 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 22 He Won’t Even Know What Hit Him

My gut twisted into a double knot. “Mol-tran him back, now.” Manning was already dematerializing from Blake’s ship before the words were out of my mouth while Blake bellowed a string of curses in several different languages.

“Blake is powering to jump,” Fury said as calmly as though he were telling me the weather.

“Fuck! He’s hanging us out to dry.”

I heard the bastard say something about sending us coordinates to finish the transaction. Manning’s lock I got, but somehow Blake had managed to shield the whiskey. Manning ended up sprawled ass over teacup on the deck cursing profusely, and Blake jumped. We, on the other hand, were well and truly trapped.

“I can’t jump from here, and they’ll have a visual in ten seconds,” I shouted as Manning strapped himself in, but he wasn’t listening to me.

“Fury, cloak,” was all he said just as the three Authority hunters came into view and then cruised right on by us at troll speed. I held my breath, hands pressed flat and sweating on the console, ready to ease out and make the jump, if we all survived that long. I would be plague bate if we were caught, but I’d made the decision ages ago when I first joined the crew of the Dubrovnik, I’d throw myself out the airlock before I’d let Fallon take me again. Nobody had cloak technology, not since the SNTs. It was highly illegal. It would be a plague planet punishment for Manning too if we were caught, or at the very least a shackle and a one-way trip to the triaxium mines. I said nothing. I barely breathed. I’d been so damn careful all these years, so afraid of what my punishment might be, so afraid that Fallon would toy with my shackle just a little too long, and I would end up dying by inches on some plague worlds. No one would ever know what had actually happened on board the Merlin. And my father would never be avenged. For one horrible second, I thought I would vomit on the console, and then I felt Fury rise up around me like a bird of prey on the glove aching to mount the sky and fly. For a moment I felt the embrace, and I looked up to find Manning’s stormy eyes locked on mine. In an instant everything that went before was over and my life was ahead of me. And from a split second I went from being sure I would vomit, feeling horrible gut-wrenching fear of the shackle to feeling free, an experience I’d never expected to have again.

“Can you jump while cloaked?” I asked Fury.

“I can, Diana Mac. Shall I?”

Manning was already entering the coordinates. He nodded he was ready and just as the backend of the last hunter past us, I made the jump with a bellow that would have put Banshee Blake to shame. But we’d barley made it before Manning was entering coordinates again and my stomach slammed against my backbone as we came out. “What the fuck?”

“We’re on the dark side of Outer Kingston,” he said without looking up at me. “If I know Blake, the bastard’ll be patting himself on the back for getting us in trouble with the authorities and getting off with one hundred thousand credits worth of New Hibernian. And doing his best to drink the profits.” He waved a hand in my direction. “Oh he has no intention of sending us rendezvous coordinates. He reckons we’ll be in enough trouble he’ll be safe for at least a year or so, and if he sees me again, all he’ll have to do is claim he had to dump the cargo and share in the bad luck.”

“So you know where he’s going then?”

“I know where the whiskey’s going because I tagged it. I always tag my cargo, and then when the deal goes down according to planned, the tag disintegrates. If the deal gets fucked for whatever reason, I at least have some recourse. There.” He pointed to a red blip on the grid of the space dock of Outer Kingston Prime. “Gotcha, you fucker,” He jabbed a finger at the monitor.

“Now what?” I asked.

“Well,” Manning drug his teeth over his lower lip and rubbed his chin. “We won’t be able to beam out the whiskey. It’ll be well shielded. In fact, it’ll be all but invisible, and if we turn the authorities on him, we’ll never see any of those hundred thousand credits.”

I undid my harness and stood on legs still none too steady from that last quick and dirty jump, then I began to pace. “I don’t suppose you’d know what watering hole he hangs out in?”

“It wouldn’t be that hard to find.” Manning watched me pace. “What do you have in mind?”

“Fury, you’re a fabulous ship, and you make a mean breakfast, but how are you as a seamstress?”

“Is your apparel not satisfactory, Diana Mac?” the ship asked.

Manning broke into a wicked chuckle. “Not for what she has in mind, Fury.”

“I need a sexy dress that might make a lonely smuggler like Banshee Blake want to buy me a drink and maybe pass a little time with a friendly game of poker while he admires my well-displayed cleavage.”

“I see,” Fury said. “How soon do you need it?”

“Just let me make a few inquiries,” Manning said. “I have a lot of friends in Outer Kingston, and since you’ve never been, and that fat bastard doesn’t know you’re working for me, he won’t even know what hit him.”

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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