Happy Friday, everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. Last week we met Kresho Ivanovic, who was unhappily preparing to meet with Tenad Fallon on Vodni Station. This week we discover that neither was what the other expected as the dance between enemies begins. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!
For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.
Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ships Series
On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.
Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.
Dragon Ascending Part 21: Not What He Expected
As he approached, she turned to face him, bright green eyes curious, but not angry at his slight, not impatient. “Tenal Fallon, you’re a long way from the Authority’s Teat.” He prided himself in being charming.
She offered him a lazy smile, accessing his threat level while holding his gaze. So the military training might be more than just a fashion statement. He wondered how much training she’d had. “Kresho Eyvanovak, the Authority has very big teats And it’s Tenad,” she replied.
“Mmm, to match their very big twats, I would imagine, and it’s Ivanovic.” He nodded to her ribs. “I can escort you to medico if you’re med bot’s not working.” Ah. There it was. Not exactly a flinch but a slight twinge of a nerve being tweaked the wrong way. No one else would have noticed, but Kresho never missed anything.
“Thank you, but there’s nothing wrong with my med bot. I find a little pain from time to time is good for the soul.”
“Giving or receiving,” he asked.
Her smile became a soft purr of a chuckle. “That depends on the circumstances.”
“Well you are a Fallon, so I suppose you give as good as you get.”
Another almost flinch.
Kresho studied her longer than would have been considered polite, but then nothing about their first encounter was polite. But she simply stood quietly as though she had all the time in the world, until he took in a slow, hard put-upon breath and said. “You’re at the ass end of the galaxy, in the middle of nowhere with three hot rod jaegers. I don’t give a shit what you’re doing. Hell out here we all mind our own business, but I do give a shit that you’re here on my station. Since you’re not here for the holiday climate, I can only assume you need to resupply.”
The smile that she offered and the mischievous glint in those green eyes wrong footed him for a split second. Fallons were never to be trusted, and especially not if they flirted. “There! You see, we barely met and already we’re on the same page.”
“It’ll cost you.”
She shrugged. “As you say I’m far from the Authority’s teat. And unlike most of the Fallon brood, I’m filthy rich in my own right.”
“It’ll cost you a lot.”
“I’ve got a lot,” she replied.
He wondered what was so important to her that she had scurried all the way out beyond the ends of nowhere and didn’t even attempt to haggle.
“Also, my crew is sorely in need of some shore leave.”
“That can be arranged. My com officers will liaise with your ships to make arrangements. They behave themselves or they end up in the brig with a nice fat fine.”
“They’ll be on their best behavior.”
“Also I wouldn’t mind a break from the confines of my shop either.”
“Same rules apply to you.”
“Then I’ll do my best to stay out of trouble.”
“You’re in luck, the VIP suite is unoccupied at the moment. There’s a replicator, no room service.”
“I’ll be bringing my indentured,” she said.
This time all civility slipped away. “No you won’t, not if you want to resupply at my station, and not if you want your crew to survive this little visit.”
This time she studied him as though he amused her, and that made him want to shove her out the nearest airlock. He did not drop his gaze from those green eyes, but the ice in his gut made him wonder what was behind that look. At last she tilted her head and gave a quirk of a smile as though he were some interesting specimen under a microscope. “I have three fully equipped jaegers outside your station, Mr. Ivanovic, all state of the art and then some, one is a planet buster. You might reconsider threatening me and my crew.”
“I know exactly what you have, Ms. Fallon, and I know that you wouldn’t be here if your arsenal was in any kind of condition for whatever you’re up to. I also know Vodni Station is the only out post for a very, very long way.”
“I could just take what I want.”
He took a step closer into her personal space and heard, her breath hitch from the pain of having to step back. “You could do that if it were here for you to take.” When she blinked her confusion, he continued. “I’m not a stupid man, Ms. Fallon, to leave myself wide open to the likes of you. Surely you don’t think the Authority is the only place with hunter and dreadnaught class ships to you? And do you really think I would leave myself and my station vulnerable to any such threat. I said no indentureds on my station, and I meant it. Unless you’re willing to leave them here to be released.”
She raised her brow at that.
“No indentureds and no more discussion. If you need the help of an indentured so desperately, then I suggest you stay onboard your ship at night.”
Instead of threats and ultimatums, she simply replied, “very well. I’ll stay onboard the Virago.” And then she changed the subject as though they had only disagreed on some minor negotiation, not a human slave. “I’ll have my second in command send over the list of what we need, and if you could get me an estimate the sooner the better so I can make the credit transfer. I don’t intend to stay longer than necessary.”
“I don’t intend to delay you in the least. You’ll have the estimate before beddy-bye time tonight.”
Again she wrong-footed him by turning to look out the view port. “Mr. Ivanovic, are you also a salvage dealer now?”
Over the woman’s shoulder, he caught the view of the Lizzie Ann tractoring a battered sparrow class ship into docking bay B just as a sub-dural message from Gert came in. “Chief, we got an unexpected visitor. The Lizzie got a distress call and, well, you better get down to the dock.”
He tapped the side of his throat in silent acknowledgement and turned to Tenad Fallon. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”
This time she offered him an uncharacteristic pout. “What no tour for a VIP?”
“I’ll have Anders there show you around. I’m sure he’d be delighted.”
“So my guard doubles as a tour guide. How convenient,” she said.
“We’re a small station. Everyone has to multitask here.”
“And I imagine you, as the boss of this place wear a lot of hats.”
“Naa,” he said. “I have one job and that’s dealing with all the shit no one else wants to deal with.”
“Sounds like you could use a vacation,” she said looking him up and down.
“No rest for the wicked,” he replied, returning the favor. Then he excused himself as another message from Gert came in. He left her tapping in a message on her PD in front of Anders, who stood stone faced and unimpressed in front of her. Anders was a man of certain taste, and she wasn’t it. In fact, Anders wasn’t a man at all. That’s why he was so good at what he did. And he was very good at multitasking, Anders was.
Kresho counted silently to himself and made it to seven before another
message of his subdural. This one was not from Gert.
“Tenad Fallon’s people have been ordered to find out about the ship the Lizzie Ann is tractoring,”
“That didn’t take her long,” he responded. Then he spoke to Gert. “Let prying eyes pry. And put out the word to our people to pump Fallon’s crew for all the information they can get. Tell Savvy at the Tavern to give ‘em the good stuff.”
Gert responded with just a tap. She knew the drill.