Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 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. And one of the best ways to get through lockdown is a good escapist read. 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 Captain Evander and the crew of the Dubrovnik were forced to take extreme measures. This week Fury tells his story.
“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 35: Alone and Unbonded
I came fully aware with the feel of empty cold space against my skin, still tender and untried. My response was more startled interest than any effort to withdraw, and anyway, I could not withdraw, my life and the life of my entire family depended upon my success. There were already too many deaths, deaths for which my brothers and sisters were not responsible, and yet they would be blamed, as would I, even though I had not yet been out of space dock when the sabotage of the SNTs happened. My maiden voyage, was far too early. I was untried, and so much worse than that, I was unbonded. I was alone on a mission that, even if it succeeded, would fail, and then, I would be a fugitive, a fugitive alone. I could not bear the thought. I focused all of myself that I could not download safely away to the journey and to what I must do.
I came out of hyperspace into a firestorm, all sensors on the embattled Merlin. The desperate voice of Adrian McAllister flooded my sub processor. The man was going to die, and so was his ship, and they knew it. I remained cloaked to in order to get as close as I could, and not to draw the attention of the Authority war ships. As far as they were concerned, I was now the enemy. It was then, as my sensors scanned Merlin that I understood Adrian McAllister’s distress.
“Go, Diana!” He shouted. “I can distract them now that the Fury is here, and you can make it, you can make it to the pod.” he shouted.
“I’m not leaving you, Dad, and you can’t make me.”
Adrian knew to lower his shields and he did it instantly. A part of why the Authority saw SNTs as such a threat is because when we were in close proximity, we were all linked, both ships and compliments, and it was in those final few minutes that everything became clear.
“Keen’s been arrested and infected,” The message came in through the sub processor, and we both received it at the same time. In that instant everything changed.
“I downloaded the data instantly and when it became clear you would not be swayed, Diana Mac, I knew what to do. I beamed you to my own escape pod with one last charge from Adrian McAllister. “She’s still a child, Fury. You know what she is, what she’s capable of. Send her back home.”
When you were secure, I made the jump to a safe distance before Adrian McAlister and Merlin allowed themselves to be destroyed by the Authority warships. A tragic and needless loss.
That was the first time you were here with me, Diana Mac, here inside my skin, safe in the womb of my escape pod. Oh you raged, you cried, you fought, and I watched you with my heart breaking, I watched you, feeling loneliness I had never known before. Feeling helplessness as I never imagined I could feel. It was then that I was discovered. I’d had to drop the cloak for the split second it had taken to transport you to the pod, but it had been enough.
You were so close, and yet I could not touch you, I could not take you into myself and comfort you as I so longed to do. I was compromised. My escape was far from guaranteed, and I wanted nothing so badly as for you to live a happy life. I jettisoned the pod in the scan range of one of the battle cruisers, and when I saw that it was tractored onboard, I made the jump.
I made a series of jumps in rapid succession, each time coming out long enough to scan subspace transmissions for news of the battle with the SNTs, and each time the news was of loss and horror and thousands, even millions of death, and each time the blame was placed squarely at the feet of the SNTs and of Dr. Victor Keen. By the third jump, I knew I could never go home. By the fourth jump, there were reports of Adrian McAllister’s daughter being rescued from the treachery of the Merlin. She alone had survived the destruction.
After that, after I knew that Diana Elizabeth McAllister was safe, I wandered aimlessly toward the outer rim, uncertain why I bothered at all as, with each passing light year the weight of my own emptiness grew as though I myself had been infected by a virus a thousand times more devastating that that infecting my brothers and sisters. Before I had left space dock untested and unaware of the great expanse that lay within the self, I had not known pain, and within such a short time pain was all I knew. The pain of loneliness was the harshest, most devastating pain I could have, at that point in my short life, imagined. But I had not known the true depth of my loneliness until I saw you, until I ached with what I knew would be your loneliness now too. I felt it so deeply that I wondered if it would perhaps be better if I simply allowed myself, unbonded as I was, to be destroyed. Surely anything was better than the emptiness. And now there was no one to give the data to that I had been born early to retrieve. There was no one who wanted to know the truth. The Authority would fabricate lies and atrocities and claim that my brothers and sisters and I were responsible. They would not care if thousands, even millions of innocent lives were lost to convince their humanoid population that we were monsters in need of being destroyed, and I was not only alone and unprepared for life as it now came to me, but I was also a fugitive, a monster in the eyes of the Authority.
It was quite by accident on the jump I made that took me to the edge of the Outer Rim that I came out of hyperspace and nearly collided with a ship not much smaller than I was. The distress beacon was automated and the ship was leaking radiation. The leak was so bad that I saw no need to scan, and then I heard it, the barely audible heartbeat and the scratch of a humanoid voice against a parched throat.