Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. I don’t feel any older, if you’re wondering. My birthday was quietly, safely just what I wanted and needed in these scary lockdown times. Pride and Prejudice was as fabulous as it always is. I ate too much Pavlova, enjoyed lots of good wine, had some nice walks and totally basked in being queen of the weekend. I hope you all enjoyed the extended instalment of Fury.
If you’re enjoying this rollicking read, 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. This week Manning and Fury let Mac in on a game-changing secret.
“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 26:
I materialized on my hands and knees on the deck of the Fury, trying hard not to vomit. Manning mantled me for a moment, then scrambled to his feet.
“We need to jump. Now,” came Manning’s calm voice, and when I was too shaken to move, he yanked me upright; half dragged, half carried me to my chair and belted me in. He’d barely gotten his own belt secured when the g-forces of the pre-laid in jump pushed us back against the seats. Fury was gone and us right along with him.
Once the jump was made, Manning grabbed my hand in a suicide grip. “Mac, I need you to focus. We need to jump again, and then again after that, as quickly as possible. Get us as far into deep space as you can in a quick jump. Just do it!”
“Do not worry Diana Mac, Richard Manning knows what he is doing. We will be very safe if you do as he says.” I had already laid in coordinates by the time Fury finished his pep talk. “Ready to jump,” I said. As we did, I was already halfway through entering the coordinates for two more fast jumps.
The whole sequence took less than five minutes and we came out of hyperspace with a bone-jarring jerk. I sat still waiting for my innards to settle back into place before. Manning spoke between barely parted lips. “Good thing I didn’t have my dinner yet. I’d be losing it about now.” He swallowed hard then laid his head back against the seat. “Nobody with any kind of desire for self preservations would have followed us through that, even if they could have.” Then he covered his mouth with his hand and swallowed several times before the green tinge began to fade from his cheeks.
“Which they could not,” Fury added.
“I ran right into him, and the sonovabitch recognized me. Gerando Fallon recognized me.” Suddenly I was shaking so bad I couldn’t have stayed in the seat if I hadn’t been belted in. “If you hadn’t had a lock on my, I’d have ended up … Christ! He was going to take me back to his father. I’m just a runaway indentured. I’m a fucking fugitive. Fallon would have infected me… There’ll be repercussions for Fury. Jesus, Manning, what are we going to do? What are we going to do?” The deck swam around me, and my vision blurred. Manning threw off his harness and grabbed me up out of my chair with me shivering and babbling like some loony. When I finally came to myself, I was huddled in the middle of my bed in Manning’s arms, as he crooned to me softly.
“He is never going to have you. Ever, Mac, do you hear me? You’re not a fugitive, you belong right here with Fury and me, and no one will ever infect you again.”
“Diana Mac’s vitals are better now,” Fury said. “The likelihood of shock is greatly reduced.” It was strange, but I felt Fury almost as intimately as I felt Manning – not terribly surprising as closely as I’d worked with the ship.
“Mac, listen to me.” Manning eased the combs from my hair and ran his fingers through it. “I promise you no one could have followed us through those jumps, and certainly Fallon’s brat won’t find any allies at Stella’s. Stella turned a blind eye for me because she owes me. That means all the surveillance cameras were turned off. Fallon would have had them turned off anyway. The fact that the man has a reputation of being a drunken asshole means no one will believe even half of what he says, probably not even his father.”
“Jesus, Manning! You can’t be that naïve! It was his father who sent him – sent him looking for me, because he knows the sonovabitch wants me almost as much as his old man does. And if Leo Rab is helping him, well Rab’s no slouch, and he works for Harker on the Dubrovnik. Don’t you get it? They won’t give up. Fallon will never give up. How could I have possibly thought that he would, and now you and Fury are under threat because of me.”
“Don’t you worry about Fury and me. We’re fine, and so are you. Do you hear me, Mac?” He gave me a little shake. “So are you.”
I nodded and gulped a deep breath.
He studied me for a minute as though he doubted that he’d gotten his message through, then he blew out a heavy breath. “As for the Dubrovnik, well it was Harker who helped me get you away. Rab, I don’t know, but I’m guessing he’s not the only one on the Dubrovnik, or any conglomerate ship, for that matter, who gets a little something extra under the table for snitching.”
For a long time no one spoke, and while I could sense Manning’s gaze on me, it was the Fury’s warmth that I felt, a micro-adjustment to the space where I lay, no doubt. Fury was all about the comfort of his crew.
To my surprise, it was Fury who spoke to Manning. “Are you sure it is a good idea, Richard Manning? There are risks.”
“There are always risks,” Manning said, “and it’s time she knew.”
“Knew what?” I asked.
Fury made what sounded like a tutting noise, but then I may have just imagined that. I didn’t imagine the charged air between captain and ship, which made my skin prickle.
Manning took a deep breath and cupped my arm in his hand, holding it so the place where the shackle was implanted was exposed. For a moment, we both stared down at the spot, and then he ran the fingertips of his right hand along the slight roughness of it. “You’re not an indentured anymore, Mac. You’re shackle is empty.”