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Piloting Fury Part 21: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Fury Friday! It’s time to see what Mac and Manning and Fury are up to. Wherever they are, trouble is not far behind them. Time for another escape to deep space for a rollicking read.  My NaNoWriMo project, Fledgling Nightmares is finished! Doing a happy dance with wine in hand here at Grace Manor. I promise a sneak preview as soon as I can clean one up for you. This week I’ve been working on timelines for the Medusa universe, fitting everything together and making it seamless. I still have work to do to make the last two books sync timeline wise, but it’s a lot of fun.

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 21th 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 gets a hard lesson in smuggling. 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 21 We Have Company

We skipped the scenic route to Outer Kingston in favor of the most direct, the one that involved three rough jumps and a slingshot move around a gas giant. It was a route that no one had tried before and frankly I was surprised when Manning gave me the go ahead. He said he’d rather be there a little early, never being sure of what Banshee Blake would do. “I trust the bastard about as far as I can drop-kick his fat ass through the nearest airlock,” Manning had said. He added that Blake had to have a special captain’s chair in his ship that would accommodate his size.

We came out of hyper and all but coasted to the rendezvous point with time to spare thanks to some seriously fancy flying, if I do say so myself. I could tell by the smile on Manning’s chops that he thought so too. He chuckled and ran a hand over his stubbled chin. “I think we just took the record for fastest trip from the Remote Inner Edge to New Kingston,” he said with a chuckle. “The McAllister Sling Shot, that’s what I figure they’ll be calling it one day.”

Sadly we both knew it couldn’t be made public, since we’d just paid an illegal visit to a plague planet carrying major contraband, and all that done with a Shanghaied indentured pilot. But I still had every plan to bask in the afterglow until Blake showed up.

“Nothing to do now but sit tight and wait.” Manning disappeared and returned shortly with a bottle of New Hibernian and two glasses. “Under the circumstances, I think a toast might be in order.” He handed me a glass and lifted his. “To the McAllister Sling Shot.”

I returned the toast.

He downed his in a single go. New Hibernian was more of a gulping whiskey, even the good stuff. It would get you there fast, and almost but not quite burn your taste buds off in the process. I followed suit.

He pushed the glass aside and stretched out his hand. “Let me see your device,” he said.

I gave it over and raised a curious brow as he typed something in it.

“There!” He handed it back to me. “As far as our little run to Pandora Base, well, nothing from nothing is nothing, but you’re welcome to half of that.” Before I could say anything, he nodded down to the pad.

“That’s the code to your Atlas account. It’s empty now, but while you’ve been doing the flying, I’ve arranged everything so that, as we said, twenty percent of all profits will automatically go into your account. Numbered only, for your protection, of course. Plus the folks at Atlas don’t give a shit that you’re indentured. Once we conclude the deal with Blake, the credits will be deposited. If you continue to prove yourself, I’ll up your percentage to twenty-five and from there,” he quirked his head and winked, “well from there we’ll see.”

I stared at the open account page until it became nothing more than an abstract jumble. “Does that mean you’re giving me the opportunity to buy back my indenture?” I managed around the excited hammering of my own heart.

“That means I’m giving you the opportunity to do whatever you want, whatever you’re capable of.” He held my gaze. “Naturally I’d prefer that whatever you do, you do it here with me and Fury.” Then he offered a blinding smile. “With a pilot like you who can gamble like you do, who can think on her feet like you do, I figure you’re my ace in the hole.”

Before I could offer more than a shocked thank you, Fury said. “There is an urgent incoming transmission from Banshee Blake.”

Fury patched it through. “Authority’s on my ass,” Blake’s voice was a nasal sharply accented tenor that boomed through the com like an out of tune French horn, like we were all deaf, or soon would be if we had to listen to him long. I guessed that’s how he got the name Banshee.

“Rendezvous point’s been compromised. Sending new coordinates.”

“Fury send a text only confirmation,” Manning said without switching on his com link. “I don’t know this place,” he added studying the coordinates Blake had sent. We both watched as a 3D image came up, closed in on our destination and then magnified it.

“It is a high orbit space station, abandoned five standard years ago as unsafe and too expensive to repair,” Fury’s computer said, as we studied the details.

“This is not like Blake,” Manning said. “He prefers open space for a quick getaway. That makes it easier for him to grab the cargo and run if he gets an opportunity.”

“I don’t like it,” I said.

“I don’t either. But then I never like doing business with Blake.”

“Then why do you?” I asked.

“Well, the deals are usually sweet and the profits high if you can manage them without him scalping you alive.”

“Fingers crossed then.” I entered the coordinates and stroked Fury’s console for luck. “I could use the credits. I’m broke.”

The space station was huge, and I wondered how the hell the giant hunk of junk had remained in orbit once it was left derelict. I also wondered why it hadn’t been dismantled. It had been used for the docking port for all ships coming and going to Outer Kingston until the new, larger, more streamline one had been built on the other side of the planet. Outer Kingston was the last and most remote port of call before the long trek to the Outer Rim. It was not really a part of anything, only a single rocky planet orbiting a small yellow sun, a planet that was almost entirely water other than the few small islands that served as hideouts for smugglers and ports of call for ships in and out of the Outer Rim. There had been a few efforts to make some of the more picturesque islands into holiday destinations, but the planet was just too far from the so-called civilized center of The Consortium of Planets. That meant most of those islands had devolved into illegal casinos and brothels, surviving and thriving just beyond the edge of Authority scrutiny. Though technically it belonged to the Consortium, it was too far out for any real Authority control, and that made the place a mecca of smuggling and illegal activity. We made our way in and out of the docking bays of the derelict space station until we found the rendezvous point. It was way too claustrophobic for my liking. I couldn’t keep from wondering just what else went on in a place that had trouble written all over it.

“It’s a good place for a sting,” I said.

“Too good,” Manning grunted, just as Blake’s ship appeared from a blind spot around the curve of the station.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “the man just came out of nowhere. That’s not possible. Something’s going on. We should have been aware of his approach.”

“Manning, let’s make this quick. I’m feeling a little twitchy after the week I’ve had.”

Manning kept the mic off. He laid a hand on my shoulder. “I need you to stay on deck and stay ready, Mac. We’ll Molt-tran the whiskey and me over at the same time, but separately. You know how to do that?” He waved a hand. “Fury does. Keep a lock on me and on the whiskey, but if worse comes to worse, we cut our losses and live to fight another day. I’ll need you to get us out of here fast. You got it.” I nodded.

He opened the mic. “On my way. Meet me in the belly with your manifest.”

“Shields dropped,” came Blake’s nasal flugelhorn response.

“I don’t like this,” I said to Fury, as I keyed in the mol-tran and watched first the whiskey and then Manning dematerialize before my eyes. “I don’t like this at all.”

“I am not terribly pleased at the situation myself,” Fury commented. “Banshee Blake is to be trusted less than most of our disreputable colleagues.”

Ourcolleagues?” I commented as Manning’s visual implant came online and I felt a whole lot better clapping eyeballs on him. “How much is he paying you?”

“Not nearly enough.” Fury replied, and in spite of the tense situation, I laughed. But the laugh died in my throat when Fury quickly added. “We have company, Diana Mac, three Authority jaegers converging fast off starboard.

 

Piloting Fury Part 7: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies! We’re actually away up in Cumbria walking some of Hadrian’s Wall this week — our first time away since lockdown began. It feels wonderful to be back in one of our favourite parts of the UK. It feels lovely just to be away.

I hope you’re all enjoying Piloting Fury. If you are, please share the word. We writers love to share our stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Last week, Diana Mac did a bit of exploring around her new home. This week, Diana Mac is missed.

 

 

 

Piloting Fury

“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.

 

Turning a Blind Eye Part 7

Captain Evander Harker paced the bridge of the Dubrovnik, waiting for the shuttle to dock. The ship had been delayed in its departure due to a missing pilot. Oh he’d occasionally had crewmembers jump ship without giving notice, but they were usually unskilled labor and certainly they were never indentured. Of course there were others who could pilot the ship, though certainly none who were anywhere nearly as good at it as Diana McAllister.

“No sign of her, Captain,” came the message from the shuttle pilot. “If she’s on the space station, scans aren’t showing any evidence of her shackle. She’s long gone.”

Harker certainly hoped that was true. Leo Rab had reported to sickbay with a broken rib and a ruptured kidney last night. He claimed he was attacked behind the Nine Tails. But Harker knew better. He might have a reputation for being one of the few orca class captains working for Bright Star Conglomerate that was incorruptible, but that didn’t make him stupid. That made him cautious. It didn’t matter if you were a starship captain or a bum. Harker was always well aware that the boundary separating a free citizen from an indentured was thin and fluid. Diana McAllister was a perfect example of that. So he’d always been cautious. But he’d been a helluva lot more so since taking Mac onboard. She had made the Dubrovnik, and therefore Bright Star, a lot of money. But he had known from the beginning her being on the crew was only a temporary reprieve. That he wasn’t sure what had happened to her left a cold knot in the pit of his stomach. That Rab had gotten away from whatever altercation he’d been involved in with no more than a broken rib and a ruptured kidney left him hopeful. But then again, there was really little reason for Rab to remain aboard if McAllister was gone. Well he could tell himself that, but clearly Fallon senior still wanted him watched.

Harker paced back and forth on the deck one more time, knowing that there was no need to wait any longer, and hoping against hope that the best damn pilot in the galaxy could somehow make a successful escape. If any indentured he’d ever known deserved it, she did.


“Juarez, take us out of orbit,” he ordered the lieutenant now sitting uncomfortably in Diana Mac’s chair. Then he hit the com button. “All hands to stations.” With any luck they would be out of hailing range before Abriad Fallon checked in. In truth Harker was surprised that he hadn’t done it already. Surprised and worried. Conditions were picking up for one helluva radiation storm, giving him a genuine excuse for not contacting Fallon about Mac going AWOL. That would give the girl a little more grace, he thought, trying not to dwell on the very real possibility that she was already suffering in an alley somewhere, or worse yet, aboard Gerando Fallon’s ship. By now the virus would have become far more than a rash and in another forty-eight hours, there would be nothing anyone could do for her. The only other possibility was just too damn good to be true, and yet circumstances kept him hoping.

As he took his seat and buckled in, he knew that there was already nothing anyone could do for her if Fallon found her. He had no idea why the man wanted her so badly, and Vaticana Jesu knew he had done everything in his power to keep her away from the man. Now matters were out of his hands, but as long as Leo Rab remained onboard the Dubrovnik, he was still under Fallon’s scrutiny.

Once the Dubrovnik had cleared the Corset and the jump was made, and he couldn’t help noticing it was a little rougher than it would have been if McAllister had made it, he unbuckled and turned to Juarez. “You’re head pilot now, lieutenant, at least for the moment.” He supposed it was his own little streak of mean, his own way of dealing with all the goddamn helplessness he felt every day, but it did his heart good to see Juarez pale just a little bit as he gave a stiff necked nod and a breathless ‘yes sir.’

He returned to his quarters and grabbed a quick cup of coffee from the replicator before he settled in to inspect the manifests one last time for the cargo they’d be off-loading in Inner Rim City. But the words and numbers blurred in front of his eyes like some foreign language. He pushed back from his desk and commed Sickbay.

“How’s Rab?” he asked without preamble.

“Making a recovery,” came Dr. Flissy’s no-nonsense reply. “He’s off the duty roster for two, maybe three days, but he should be good to go by the time we hit Inner Rim City.”

“He still in sickbay then?”

“For a couple more hours, yes, then I’m releasing him with pain meds back to his quarters to sleep.”

“Good. I’ll be right down. I want a word with him.”

“Right captain.” Flissy didn’t ask why the ship’s captain was questioning Rab rather than the on-duty security staff, which was just as well because he really couldn’t give a good answer could he?

As he stepped into the corridor security chief, Ivan joined him. “A word, sir, if I might.”

“What is it, Ivan. I’m in a bit of a rush.”

The man matched his steps unflustered by his captain’s impatience. “Just thought you might like to know that Amos and Han saw Gerando Fallon in the Nine Tails last night eyeballing McAllister. If I were to venture a guess, he’s the reason our pilot is missing.”

Well hell, this was not what he wanted to hear, and yet it didn’t surprise him either. Even as it worried him, it left him hopeful.

“That’s a possibility,” Harker replied. He’d known Fallon would be there. That was the reason Fallon senior ordered him to make the unscheduled stop at NH372. He’d also known exactly what Gerando Fallon had been there for, which had forced him to act recklessly, but he was the only one who knew just how recklessly he had acted.

“Militia said that a hooker who worked from there turned up dead this morning. Last seen leaving with Fallon.”

No surprise there, Harker thought, as his stomach tightened still further. He’d feel better, he hoped, after he’d talked to Rab. “Thanks Ivan,” he said as he reached the lift. “Keep on it for me. She was a damn fine pilot. Could well be she saw him and ran. I would have. Could well be she’s holed up somewhere. I’ve got the militia looking with instructions to administer the antidote if they find her in time. Nothing else I can do at the moment, is there?” Nothing else but keep his fingers crossed and
hope.

Harker would be willing to bet that Gerando Fallon being at the Nine Tails last night had more than a little to do with the hooker’s death and Rab’s beating. Hell, the way he saw it, if Gerondo Fallon had gotten hold of Rab, then the man was lucky to be alive and in one piece. But if Fallon junior had been that upset, then Harker would also be willing to bet it was because McAllister had slipped through his fingers. Even the thought of Abriad Fallon’s eldest being that close to the girl made his skin crawl. The scuttlebutt was that some punter beat McAllister at poker last night. That was big news and it travelled fast. He also knew she had left with him. That was all he knew. That was all it was safe for him to know, and even that might be too damn much.

 

Piloting Fury Part 4: KDG New Free Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies! I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury. I you are, please share the word. Something entertaining to read in lockdown goes a long way for passing the time happily, and I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Last week, we left Rab in a serious bind. Our story picks up from there.

 

Piloting Fury

“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.

 

A Deal with the Devil

He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all. He was seriously considering cutting his losses and running. Being the bearer of bad news to Gerando Fallon never ended well, and even if he did escape with his life, he’d more than likely be permanently maimed. Rab was a free man, no longer indentured. That was the price for his years of service on the Dubrovnik. That was what Abriad Fallon had offered him for keeping an eye on McAllister and on Captain Harker. It was a good job too. Pay was decent and he had a bed and three squares, which was way more than a lot of people these days. He hated like fuck to walk away from a good thing. But he liked very much the idea of saving his skin, something there was never any guarantee of if you crossed a Fallon.

Hell he could find other work, work outside the Rim. He was strong and able-bodied. He’d heard there was lots of work to be had out there, outside Authority influence. He could start all over, begin a new life. Who knew, he might even find a mate, have a family. He had credits saved from his service on the Dubrovnik, extra credits that Fallon hadn’t known about, credits he’d not been able to freeze and hold over his head. Diana Mac hadn’t been the only one doing a little moonlighting. Fuck this shit. Rab didn’t need it. He didn’t need any of it, and even Abiard Fallon had no influence beyond the Rim. He was all set to slip away, convinced to make a run for it, but he’d thought about it just a little too long, and Gerando Fallon’s loud mouth shattered the silence.

“Diana McAllister better be with you, Rab, and ready to board the Ares. I’d better just be too drunk to see her. Do you hear me? I left you to keep an eye on her. It was a simple task. An imbecile could have done it, and yet I’m not seeing her, shit nob.”

Fallon approached Rab in an alcoholic wave that nearly made his eyes water, but that was the least of his worries now. The fucker had an illegal mol-pistol strapped openly to his hip like he was a goddamned Old Terran cowboy, and no matter how bad he smelled, he was way to steady on his feet to be trusted. For a brief moment Rab calculated his chances of taking Fallon down and making a run for it, and then the fucker’s bullyboys stepped out of the shadows. There were four of them, all bigger than Fallon by a long shot, and all with just enough brains between them to stay in Fallon’s good graces.

“It was a done deal, Rab. All I had to do was take the bitch when she left to go back to wherever the hell she’s staying for the night. All I had to do was throw her over my shoulder, toss her on board the Ares and take her back to the old man. It was a done fucking deal! All you had to do was keep an eye on her. What the fuck happened?” He all but yelled the last words peppering Rab’s face with rank flecks of spittle that made his own gorge rise. Goddamn it irritated him that the last thing he’d smell in this life was Gerando fucking Fallon’s stink.

“I can tell you where she disappeared at, and I can tell you there was evidence of a localized cloaking device. I have the readings on my PD, if you care to see them.” He’d had the good sense to send them on to the old man figuring at least he’d get one over on the little bastard, even if it had to be post mortem. “Oh, she’ll be back on the Dubrovnik first thing in the …”

Fallon didn’t even look at his personal device, but knocked it out of his hand, and it skittered across the walkway. “I don’t give a rat’s ass if she was beamed up to goddamned New Vaticana heaven. All you had to do was keep an eye on the bitch.”

“All I had to do was your job, while you fucked a whore.” He knew he shouldn’t have said it, but goddamn it, he was going to die anyway, what the hell. He might as well tell the little turd ball what he thought. And he was right. Fallon backhanded him so hard his ears rang, and he spat blood. But before he could do more than struggle for breath, two of the ugly boys grabbed him and stretched out between them like a filta carcass waiting to be gutted. Damn, he wasn’t going to get a pretty death. Not that he’d really expected it, not even before he’d opened his big mouth. Still, holy New Vaticana Jesu, he had hoped for the Mol-pistol and instant disintegration at least. But there you go. Fortune was an evil bitch, wasn’t she? Now there would probably be torture ending in something nasty like having his ‘nads stuffed down his throat. A high price to pay for telling the prick off.

Fallon stripped out of his pretty boy flight jacket – the bastard fancied himself a pilot – and handed it to one of his ass kissers. He had just pulled back his fist for a nice hefty gut punch when his PD went off. He jumped back like he’d been shot and for a second, Rab thought he was going to puke again. But the green around his gills told Rab all he needed to know. It was daddy on the horn. Fallon lifted a hand for his thugs to hold the show. He didn’t want to miss any of the pain, after all. Then he stepped back into the shadows, where he paced back and forth. The hiss of his voice rose to a spoilt brat whine that made Rab want to slap the little twat’s face off and stomp on it. He held his breath. Maybe it wasn’t such a good day to die. Rab wasn’t a snitch, but it wasFallon Senior he worked for, after all, and if Junior couldn’t do his job, well that wasn’t his fault.

At last Fallon shoved the device into his pocket. He gave the wall of the docking bay a couple of brutal kicks and spat viciously. Then he marched over to where Rab was stretched out between his pals and gave him the mother of all punches in the ribs — one of which Rab felt snap as his chest erupted in an explosion of pain and then spasmed in his effort to breathe. The two bullyboys released him, and he slid to the ground, curling around himself to protect his tender innards against the three hard kicks that came to the kidneys instead.

Just when Rab was thinking he might be dead meat in spite of the father son chat, the bastard pulled back gasping for breath. “Seems you’re still needed on the Dubrovnik, you worthless cunt licker.” Fallon grabbed Rab by the collar and dragged him to his feet in a wave of agony. “But cross me again, and I’ll gut you no matter what the old man says. You remember that.” He gave him a hard shove onto the ground. Then he fought his way back into his jacket and swaggered away like John Fucking Wayne for an old Terran film. And that was bloody fine by Rab. He wasn’t going to die tonight, though right now he sure as hell felt like it. He’d live to fight another day, and even as dragged himself back to his feet, stopping to puke twice before he could manage it, he felt like a man with a new lease on life. In agony that had never felt so good, he stumbled to the main dock and took the last shuttle of the night back to the Dubrovnik.

 

 

 

 
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