Happy Jubilee, everyone! I know, today is not Friday, but to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with the rest of the UK, I’ve decided to give you four episodes of Dragon over the four days of the Jubilee Holiday Weekend. As I put the posts together, I am, in spirit at least, serving each of you a nice fat piece of Victoria sponge cake and a cup of tea. Whatever your indulgence of choice for this mini read-a-thon, settle in and enjoy. If you remember, last week we found Fury’s crew on Taklamakan Major still looking for the missing Len. Today we join Len, who is healing nicely and wondering why she is suddenly being ignored by Ascent-7. Do remember that tomorrow, and every day through Sunday, there’ll be another new episode of Dragon Ascending, so tune in and enjoy. 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 Ship 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 15: The Silent Treatment
Len felt like she’d done nothing but sleep and eat for days. Surely it couldn’t have been that long, but there was no easy way to mark the passing of time without her PD, which she’d lost either on the Dart or in her scramble to safety. She was sure Ascent-7 would provide if she asked. He had provided clothes as promised, and once her stomach had settled and her appetite had fully returned, the meals became beautiful feasts that it was clear he had given thought to, but then she reminded herself thought for a computer didn’t take long.
If the coming of meals were timed to a normal galactic day, then she assumed it was three days since she regained consciousness. She’d not thought to ask how long she’s been with Ascent-7 before that, but certainly when she did regain consciousness her recovery was much farther along than she thought it should have been.
On the fourth day the need for more sleep was gone, replaced by her usual desire to explore. Her mother said she should be careful with that urge. While it was a good trait in a scientist, the Authority showed up when you least expected and as often as not, the desire to explore, to create to learn would end you with a shackle.
But Len wasn’t a scientist, and she really couldn’t imagine Ascent-7 being connected in any way with the Authority. Besides the de-mole perimeter made it impossible to get inside the salvage yard — except for the breach. That it existed and had gotten larger since her first visit to the Sea of Death worried her. While she believed herself safe inside the shelter Ascent-7 had created for her, she still couldn’t keep from wondering what the hell a de-mole perimeter was doing out here in the middle of the Sea of Death, as if that wasn’t barrier enough. But then it hadn’t stopped her, had it?
She began to wonder if somehow she had offended Ascent-7, which was stupid. Surely computers couldn’t be offended. Still, he hadn’t spoken to her for two days. She might have thought the rust and the temperature fluctuations had finally damaged his processors if the food and the creature comforts, as her mother had called them, hadn’t kept coming. But that thought raised a more disturbing issue. Certainly her rescue and maintenance had to take its toll on a system that must have been dormant for possibly years and was suddenly called upon by some basic command to protect humanoid life and provide for her. She wished she could get a glimpse of the ship that Ascent-7 belonged to. She had monitored any new salvage at a dozen of the larger dumps including the Sea of Death, and there had been nothing in the years she’d lived on Tak Major anywhere near the significance that a ship with such an advanced computer would have had. If there had been, it would have been bought from the yard nearly before it was dumped there. The Sea of Death salvage yard had no human presence, and she could not find record of it ever having one. That made no sense at all since it might have made some money for some yard manager. In all the years she had monitored the place there hadn’t been a new deposit in the Sea of Death that she could find. At least that was what all inventories of the place that she could get her hands on showed, which was part of the reason she wanted to check it out. If there had been time to explore on her first visit, she might have found out a little more, but it was only just before she had to rendezvous with the Sparrow for the return trip to Sandstorm that she actually found the salvage dump, and according to her PD, so much more enormous than she would have imagined. And there was the de-mole. When she found the hole in the defense, she couldn’t resist the temptation to at least peek inside. In the fading light, she found the remains of multiple junked ships and wreckages from other items she couldn’t easily identify. In a few minutes she’d found tech for an older molecular transport system. That alone would resupply her pack and buy her transport back to the Sea of Death for further exploration.
As for the de-mole perimeter, no other salvage yard had anything that sophisticated or that illegal. Why the hell would they? It should have been impenetrable, but that Ascent-7 had taken it upon himself to avenge her injuries in a chillingly human way called that theory into question. Clearly he had had no trouble breaching the barrier with some kind of weapon powerful enough to take down a ship in high orbit. Oh, she had a million questions she would love to ask him, but if he were angry with her, then there was no sense wasting her breath, especially when she didn’t really know what had offended him. Never mind that. The point was that while she couldn’t stay here forever, she also couldn’t leave any time soon. It was hard as hell to get here, and the effort had cost her way more than just credits. She sure as hell didn’t have any reason to hurry back to Sandstorm. Even if it wasn’t a boring pit, which it absolutely was. It was also damn near impossible to support herself there. She had no ties to the place. No one would miss her. At the moment all those reasons were irrelevant. She couldn’t get back anyway, not without transport. Windward and Sunward outposts were on the other side of the planetoid. So long as Ascent-7 didn’t kick her out and kept the food and water coming, she might as well take advantage and do what she came to do in the first place – explore. She supposed it was possible that if she could find components to get herself out, Ascent 7 could help her build some sort of transport.
So, on the fourth day after she had showered and dressed, she called to the computer. “Ascent-7, if it’s not night, I would like to explore a little, maybe get my bearings.”
When still no answer came, a knot clenched her belly. Surely he wouldn’t keep her prisoner. Could a shipboard computer be insane?
There was still no answer, but there was a hum of energy, and a small daypack appeared along with the usual protective desert clothing and a PD showing her that it was early galactic morning, the best time to explore and avoid the worst of the heat. The daypack contained food far nicer than any journey fare she’d ever had, and a generous supply of water, a luxury she had never been afforded before now. It was added weight she wouldn’t mind after so many times wondering if she would die of thirst because her ration wouldn’t hold out. She looked around her, strange that she still half expected to see him standing in the corner waiting for her. Then she dressed quickly, not wanting to lose the advantage of the morning. As soon as she was ready, the door slid open, as though he somehow knew, and she stepped out into what must have been an outer airlock of Ascent-7’s ship. She would make it a point to explore as much of the inside as she could when it was too hot to be out. The outer airlock slid open silently, and the blast of even the morning heat nearly took her breath. She had never been this long in cool comfort, which made the shock of it even more of a surprise. Quickly she covered her face and put on the protective goggles of much better quality than the scratched, damaged pair she had found in one of the salvage yards that surrounded Sandstorm. There was a crisp chirp from her PD and, she looked down to see the tracker was set to guide her back when the heat got too much. Strange the comfort she took in it, as though it were a personal message from Ascent-7, who maybe wasn’t mad enough at her to want to be rid of her.
“Thank you,” she said, then began the easy descent