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Piloting Fury Part 9: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, and that means time for more Fury. We’re coming out of a rainy, windy week here at Grace Manor, but going into a long holiday weekend with the weather promising not to be dire. Result! I hope all is well with you wherever you are and that  you’re staying safe and reading lots of good stuff.

 

As we enter the 10th week of Piloting Fury, I hope you’re enjoying the read. If you are, please share the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Last week, it was business as usual as Diana Mac learns the ropes aboard Fury working with Manning. All is going well as they take on a load of illegal whiskey, and Mac quickly learns, there’s far more to Fury and Manning than meets the eye.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Piloting Fury: We’re In Trouble

Manning pulled up a camera from the cargo bay and I watched as the empty space filled with whiskey barrels. New Hibernia Alpha was a densely wooded planet, and therefore the primo New Hibernian whiskey was still fermented in wooden barrels. A few seconds later a man appeared standing next to the shipment. The captain of the Torrington had a chest that made me think perhaps he had stashed a smaller version of one of the barrels inside his shirt. In one hand, he held his device with the manifest, and with the other he circumnavigated the shipment poking and prodding to make sure the force field that held it all in place was secure.

“All right, Mac.” Manning grabbed up his device and stood. “I’m going to go welcome Captain Gruber onboard. Best you stay put in case we need to make a quick getaway – not likely with Gruber. He’s a pretty straight shooter, but with you leaving the Dubrovnik in such a hurry, I reckon there’s still a bulletin out on you as an escapee.” He looked down at his chronometer. “You’ve got another thirty-three standard hours before they’ll give you up and figure if anyone does find you, they’ll send you off to the nearest plague planet at the Authority’s expense. Once everyone gives up the search, then I promise I’ll take you to the smuggler’s ball.”

He leaned down close and for a second, I actually thought he was going to kiss me. “I’ve got an implant right here that’ll allow you and Fury to keep an eye on me.” He bared the side of his throat. “When we get a minute, I’ll fit you with one too. That’ll give us both a voyeur’s eye view.” He gave me a wicked smile. “Could be entertaining on those long hauls beyond the Rim. Besides it’ll also allow us both to mol-tran out of any bad situation if we should ever need to.”

Everything onboard the Dubrovnik was always proper and by the book. It had to be to suit the conglomerate’s taxations tables and their personnel safety standards. Since the Authority was well into the pockets of the conglomerates, rules had to be followed so that everything looked legal and proper, but any indentured could tell you just how deceiving looks could be where the Authority was concerned. I had to admit, getting one over on them, even if it was nothing more than a few barrels of tax-free whiskey, did my heart good.

On screen, I watched as Manning took the lift to the cargo hold, but instead of stopping there, the door pinged and kept going. To my surprise it stopped a half deck below the hold I’d explored earlier, and Manning chuckled all warm and honey-like over the com. “False floor, Mac. You gotta have one if you’re gonna work in Authority space. Those bastards would tax you every time you took a dump if they could figure out how to manage it.”

He stepped out of the lift to find the dour Captain Gruber looking him up and down. “Manning,” he said with a nod of the head. “Got yourself a crew, I see.” He offered a grimace of a smile and a shoulder shrug up toward the monitor mounted above the lift. “She any good?”

“Fury, shut it down,” I said in little more than a whisper. Once I was certain my mug wasn’t plastered all over the view screen, I blew out a sharp breath. “So much for keeping me secret.”

“My apologies,” Fury’s computer purred into the silence. “Richard Manning had all of the screens on to keep watch over you earlier when you were exploring,”

“Bastard.” The little twitch of Manning’s mouth and the sparkle in his eyes told me he’d heard my comment. “If you liked that, you’d love the gesture I’m making right now, just for you,” I said in a voice that was all smiles and sugar. I could have sworn Fury’s computer chuckled.

“You can’t get good help these days,” Manning was saying to Gruber. “She doesn’t eat much, though, and she’s good for a game of cards if I get bored.”

“You are a dick,” I said between barely parted lips. To which he only smiled and kept right on talking to Gruber about the goods manifest.

Beyond the acknowledgment of my existence, Manning made no effort to introduce me, and Gruber didn’t ask. Considering that I was a fugitive, I figured it was better for me that way. From my vantage point on Fury’s bridge, I watched with interest as the two men circled the cargo and compared manifests. The whole transaction took less than one galactic hour. Just as the process was concluding, Manning sent me a message on his device to lay in coordinates for Outer Kingston. It was the perfect place to sell high-end smuggled whiskey. In fact Outer Kingston was the perfect place to sell or buy any type of contraband. I’d never been there while I worked onboard the Dubrovnik. There was no reason to go there when a conglomerate orca class freighter was always on above board, Authority sanctioned business.

“So, Fury, my lovely,” I said, keeping one eye on the proceedings in the cargo hold. “You’ve been to Outer Kingston before,” I pulled up the logged routes. “What do you think, since I’m new, will you take me on the tourist route?” I let out a low whistle as I studied the logs of trips to Outer Kingston. “Looks like you’ve gone just about every route that’s ever been taken, haven’t you?” In my head, I couldn’t help imagining the ship offering me a testosterone charged ‘I’ve been everywhere, hon,’ Manning-like smile, and I had to chuckle.

“Recommended routes?” I tapped the question into the Fury’s computer, and nearly jumped out of my skin when Manning said. “Take the Faribaldi Nebula route, Mac. You ever been?”

I turned to find him standing behind me. “Sorry, didn’t mean to sneak up on you. Just not used to having anyone onboard but me.”

“I’ve been inside the Nebula,” I said, “but it sure as hell wasn’t the tourist route.”

“Inside the nebula? That’s one dangerous place to hang out, if everything I’ve heard is true,” he said, dropping into the captain’s chair. “What the hell were you doing in the nebula?”

“Rescuing one of Fallon’s brats.”

“Seriously? What happened?”

“His oldest son fancied himself a pilot. Got his coordinates wrong and ended up in the Faribaldi. Daddy sent me to bring him back.”

“Fucking hell! It’d take more credits that there are in the Outer Rim to get me in there. Hope he rewarded you well for that.”

“A good dose of the SNT virus, actually.” I kept my eyes on the console, kept my words even. “His son claimed it was all my fault he was lost in the first place because I wouldn’t take him into the nebula.”

“Jesus! What kind of idiot would want to go into the nebula?”

“One with nothing better to do, I suppose.” The Torrington had just made the jump, and I was about to lay in the course around the outer nebular aurora when the com crackled to life.

“Fury, this is the Svalbard.” Just then a raven class freighter a good ten times bigger than the Fury hove into view out of hyperspace. “We’re in trouble,” came the voice over the intercom.

 

Piloting Fury Part 8: Brand New KGD Read

Its Friday, and that means Fury time again my Lovelies! Hadrian’s Wall was fantastic, and fascinating. We had good weather and great walks, but it’s good to be back home with all the smelly walking laundry done, everything unpacked and back into my usual writing routine.

 

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, Captain Harker aboard the Dubrovnik missed his best pilotDiana and was secretly wishing her all the best. This week, it’s business as usual as Diana Mac learns the ropes aboard Fury working with Manning.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Business as Usual Part 8

By the time Manning joined me on the deck, looking way too perky for someone who was hung over, I was already well on my way to a meaningful relationship with Fury, who was doing me real proud.

 

“I see you’ve been reading back through the logs,” Manning said, as he settled into the captain’s chair.

 

“For someone who’s been sleeping off a hangover, you’ve been busy.” I replied.

 

“I don’t miss much,” he said with a hint of a smile that made his grey eyes glisten like the Faribaldi nebula. “Besides knowing you like I do, Mac, I could have guessed as much.”

 

Before I could comment that we really didn’t know each other all that well, he changed the subject. “Clothes comfortable?”

 

“Perfect fit.”

 

“And no,” he said, before I could ask, “I didn’t give you a grope measure while you slept, though it was tempting.” He wriggled his sun-bleached eyebrows, and I wondered again how someone who spent the majority of his time in deep space looked like he’d just come off a beach holiday. “Fury’s replicator sized you when you sat your fine little ass in the pilot’s chair, with that and the help of the view screen, voila!”

 

“It’s definitely a step up,” I observed. “The damn uniforms on the Dubrovnik never fit right, but then indentureds didn’t have funds to get bespoke ones.”

 

“Trust me,” he said giving the console an affectionate pat, “everything onboard Fury is bespoke. All you have to do is ask. And the room? It’s okay?”

 

“It’s fine.” As glad as I was to have a room at all, I’d been indentured too long not to expect there’d be a price attached. “It does makes me wonder, though, what you expect in return.”

 

“It’s just space, Mac.” He pulled up the view screen, the fine muscles along his cheekbones tensing. “Don’t read too much into it. If you work for me, I want you to be comfortable. I figure if you’re happy, you’ll work better.”

 

“A carrot instead of a stick, then,” I said, stroking the soft fabric on the sleeve of my jumpsuit.”

 

Manning’s body stilled as though he’d suddenly frozen in his chair. As he turned to meet my gaze, his eyes blazed bright. “Deliberately infecting someone with the SNT virus and then curing them at the last minute, seriously Mac.” His voice was little more than a low growl. “You may hate me right now, but you’ve gotta know I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy.”

 

I looked down at the place on my inner arm where the shackle was now all but invisible. “That may be true, but if I’m ever checked against the registration records, I’ll still end up with a lethal dose of the virus and a free ride to the nearest plague world.” I shivered at the thought.

 

He leaned in close, his gaze storm cloud dark. “If that ever happens, I’ll be shackled and sent to the nearest tri-ax penal colony.” He cradled his own arm against his chest in the way I’d done a million times, in the way I’d seen so many indentureds do. “You’re a gambler, Mac. You know everything has a cost.”

 

I studied him for a long moment, and he didn’t flinch. Then I let out a tight breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. “You did know how to manipulate the coding on my shackle to keep me from getting infected. I didn’t think you could. I didn’t think anyone could.”

 

“I can do a lot of things,” he said, his gaze still locked on mine, “and believe me, I know who the monsters really are.” Before the situation could get more uncomfortable, he changed the subject again. “Nice driving by the way. Through the Corset, I mean. But then I would have expected no less from an ace pilot. And nice thinking, tweaking the coordinates.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of making the rendezvou point with the Torrington behind the Drogheda Dust Cloud.”

 

“Wow, you really don’t miss much.”

 

“That’s how I’ve managed to stay one step ahead of the Authority’s thugs.”

 

“Smart man.” I forced a smile. “I wouldn’t recommend Authority hospitality.” I couldn’t help feeling a bit of satisfaction when he flinched at my comment.

 

For a moment we sat in silence watching the viewing screen as we approached the rendezvous point. At last he spoke. “I’d better check the manifests one more time. Gotta be sure what’s on them is what I actually get, otherwise I’m the one who gets cheated on the other end.”

 

“I’ve checked them already,” I said.

 

“Kissing my ass won’t do you any good, Mac.” Then he chuckled wickedly, “Though it sure as hell would do me some good.”

 

“I had time to kill,” I replied, angry at myself for the blush I couldn’t control. “If I really am your first mate, then I need to know what’s going on, just in case you’re … hung over again, and I need to take charge.”

 

He eyeballed me until I squirmed in my chair. This time there was no mischief and no playful lust in his eyes. “Good point. I reckon if I can’t trust you then who can I trust?” He tugged his bottom lip between his teeth, blew out a sharp breath and pulled a tablet from beneath the console. “Then perhaps you’d like to check out the real manifest, Madame First Mate.”

 

I folded my arms across my chest and blinked. “Oh I have checked the real one. You don’t really think I thought what you recorded in the logs was actually the deal on the table when you’re doing the exchange beyond the Corset?” Just then the Torrington flashed into view and settled next to us.

 

“Well, that’s a relief then, I don’t have to lie to you.” Manning said with a bright smile.

 

“You own me. You can’t honestly think I’d be stupid enough to betray something as benign as a less than above board whiskey transport.”

 

He laughed out loud. “Oh Mac, we’re gonna get along just fine. You’ll see.”

 

I ignored the ridiculous warm flush I felt around my ears as he flipped on the com button and a gravelly voice with the accent from the Inner Rim came on line.

 

“Ready to transport, Manning.”

 

“The hold’s all yours,” Manning replied, and I just gaped.

 

“You have mol-tran?” Molecular transport technology was illegal for planets under the Authority, punishable by confiscation of goods and ship and a prison sentence, which meant a shackle. The Authority took its right to tax everyone and everything very seriously. Mostly they feared the unauthorized transport and trade of Indentureds. But their excuse was that it wasn’t safe. Everything I’d heard about the accidents and horrors from the use of illegal mol-tran convinced me they might be right on this one. But then maybe that was just more Authority propaganda.

 

“Of course Fury has mol-tran,” Manning replied. “It would be stupid to deal in some of the more … sensitive trade items without it.”

 

“Then you trust Gruber just to transport the whole shipment right down into the Fury’s hold, wave toot-a-loo and be on his way?”

 

“Of course I don’t trust Gruber, and he doesn’t trust me either. No one trusts anyone in this business. There’s always an inspection, and the exchange of credits takes place in person when everyone is satisfied with the arrangements, just like with

Harker on the Dubrovnik.”

 

“Right,” I said, rolling my eyes. Manning just offered me a beatific smile that would have been right at home on a New Vaticana saints.

 

“Commencing transport,” came the disembodied voice on the other end of the com.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Piloting Fury: Part 3 — New KDG Read

Hi my Lovelies. I have decided to release a new instalment of Fury every Friday so you can enjoy through the weekend. If you like it, please let your friends know. The more the merrier.

Today we meet Rab, who has been spying on Diana McAllister for awhile now, and suddenly finds himself caught in a really, really bad situation he hadn’t counted on. Enjoy!

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.

 

Chapter 2 Part 1 A Deal with the Devil

The outer docks were darker than the inside of a Faribaldian’s asshole. This was the oldest part of the station, and while the atmosphere in the outer ring was breathable, if you considered suffocating slowly in a stinking thick fog breathable, the New Hibernians didn’t waste energy on lighting the place unless they needed to use if for overcrowding. Why the hell there would be overcrowding on this backwater shithole, Rab sure as fuck couldn’t figure. He stayed as close to the utility lighting near the docking bay as possible, squinting hard at every moving shadow beyond. It was an unplanned stop for the Dubrovnik, and Rab had no goddamned idea why Captain Harker made it until he saw Gerando Fallon drinking and whoring at the Nine Tails. Then it all made sense. But it was Harker’s problem, wasn’t it? How the hell did he end up right in the butt fuck middle of it all?

It was the shit that happened in this part of the docks when there wasno overcrowding that concerned Rab at the moment. If there was a murder on NH372 — and murder was a favorite pastime for these New Hibernian fuckers – this was the place it would happen. Chances were equally good the body would not be found until the next time NH372 had an overcrowding problem. As Rab waited, pacing in a tight circle, he was almost certain he could smell the stink of rotting corpse.

The thought that he might soon be joining the ranks of the rotting did little to calm his nerves. He knew the place’s reputation, and he didn’t like it. He especially didn’t like it that he was meeting Gerandofucking Fallon here. He wouldn’t even be here in the first place if he hadn’t been doing the job that ass wipe was supposed to be doing, and that because he happened to be in the wrong damn place at the wrong damn time. He happened to choose the goddamned Nine Tails for his first shore leave hooch stop instead of any of a dozen other disreputable dumps on NH372. He was barely in the door before Fallen was eyeballing him. Then, the little snot gob had the balls to grab him by the shoulder and ordered him — fucking ordered him! To keep an eye on Diana McAllister while the bastard went off to fuck some poor unsuspecting whore. Before Rab could mumble yeah or ne, Fallon had escorted a dark-haired chick, big blue eyes and nice tits out of the bar. She was smiling and flirting, doing her job. Rab couldn’t help notice that she looked a helluva lot like Diana McAllister. He felt for the chick. She would more than earn her money — if Fallon paid her at all. Whether or not she’d ever be able to work again once the little shit was done with her, well the odds were definitely not in her favor.

But when Fallon was your name, you could do what you bloody well pleased. Daddy would clean up all your messes and wipe your ass. That’s what made Rab so nervous. He’d been doing the lazy bastard’s job, and he’d kept an eye on Diana McAllister. Hell, he’d been doing that anyway, doing that ever since she set foot on the Dubrovnik. And frankly he felt for her when sonny boy showed up casting his filthy glances her way. He figured daddy was about to bring his prize indentured home, and this time, it didn’t matter that she really was the best damn pilot in the galaxy. Abriad Fallon wanted her back. Hell, Rab would have helped her escape himself if there’d been any possible way. But she was an indentured. To escape was a death sentence, and a long and painful one at that. Still, he couldn’t really imagine that being worse than being the plaything of a Fallon.

Strange her disappearance, though. The place was so crowded he could barely clap eyes on her from where he stood at the bar. She was in the middle of a poker game with some punter he didn’t recognize. No reason why he should. Hell he kept his head down and didn’t associate with anyone. He had too much to lose to get friendly-like with the wrong folks.

He’d just settled at the bar with a pint, figuring he’d be there for awhile. McAllister would ring every last credit out of the poor bastard she could, him hanging on all the while hoping his luck would change, or at least hoping in the end he’d get a sympathy fuck for his losses. Like that was ever gonna happen. He’d been wrong though. A bar maid had dropped a tray full of drinks right in front of him, glass and cheap boozing going everywhere, everyone dodging and cursing. By the time he looked back McAllister was gone. It was like she vanished into thin air once she left the Nine Tails. The scuttlebutt was that she’d lost. Fucking lost! And had left with the man she’d lost to. That was stranger still, Rab thought. He’d been working on the Dubrovnik with the woman since she’d become its pilot, and he had never seen her lose. No one who wanted to leave with their credits and their shirt in tact ever played poker with Diana McAllister. That’s why she was in her element in remote space stations where no one knew her reputation and everyone was lonely and in need of company that didn’t look like a the ass end of a New Vaticana baboon. But tonight she had lost, and she had lost soundly.

Well the way she looked in that dress and considering she was an indentured with no funds, he figured the lucky sonovabitch who’d beaten her was going to get well and truly laid. What else could she have to offer him and, frankly, Rab considered it quite a win. No one fucked Diana McAllister. In all the years he’d served next to her, he never once heard even the slightest rumor that anyone was getting any joy from Diana Mac. Oh plenty had flirted, plenty had tried, but she shut them down right fast. Kept herself to herself, kept her nose clean and did her job. Then whenever the Dubrovnik was in space dock, she put on that cock-straightening dress and invited the brave and the stupid to a little game of poker. While indentureds had no right to invest funds they earned, if the owners of their contract allowed them to moonlight, they could save toward their release. If she was like most of the poor bastards, he figured that’s what she was saving for. Just between him and the gatepost, he wasn’t sure she could pay off her contract to Abriad Fallon in three lifetimes. For some reason, she was worth a small fortune. But that wasn’t Rab’s problem. His problem was explaining to Abriad Fallon’s lazy ass fuck of a son why he had lost her, and doing it in such a way that he might just manage to stay alive.

Being that his situation couldn’t possibly suck worse than it did, he kept racking his brain trying to figure out just what the hell happened, trying to come up with some answer that would get his ass off with only a good hard beating. Oh he was sure that McAllister would be back onboard the Dubrovnik when the ship left orbit. She was an indentured. She didn’t dare not return. But what that did mean was that once the Dubrovnik jumped, daddy Fallon would have to wait a little longer to get his prize back to Terra Nova Prime. It also meant that the whole process of the transfer of her shackle would then have to be legal and aboveboard. Rab reckoned sending Junior to steal her away like a goddamn thief was an insult to Captain Harker. Clearly the captain was fond of Diana Mac, but hell, who wasn’t? Abriad Fallon would see it as a firm reminder that when push came to shove the woman belonged to him to do with whatever the fuck he chose. Sending his cruel fuck of a son made the message crystal clear. The kid was little more than a spoilt brat left to grow up with no discipline and no restraints. Daddy Fallon, on the other hand, was one scary sonovabitch. He was one of the most powerful men in the Authority, and his control of the largest conglomerate also made the motherfucker one of the richest. He didn’t get that way be playing nice. He didn’t get that way be even pretending to play nice.

He would not be best pleased with the jizz gob of his loins for costing him time. Rab knew only too well that shit always rolled down hill and fuck if he wasn’t smack dab at the bottom of that goddamned hill. So he’d managed to shove his way through the
crowd and catch up with McAllister and the man who had won at poker in the alley
behind the Nine Tails. It couldn’t have been simpler. McAllister wasn’t a troublemaker. She’d give the man what he’d won and be back onboard the Dubrovnik in time for departure. They went around a corner and that was it. Just like that, they
fucking vanished. After he had looked for them over two hours with no joy, figuring either his number was up, or he’d have to run, he caught a break. Fallon came back from his whore drunk and puking in the alley, not in any condition to enjoy hurting Rab for his failure, and this dump of a place is where he’d ordered him to wait.

 

Piloting Fury: Brand New KDG 2nd Instalment

Last week after a long silence, I rolled out the first instalment of Piloting Fury.

Fury is a new, never before seen KDG novel, first of all because it’s a bit experimental and out of the KDG norm, and second of all simply because I want to be able to share some of it before I put it out to the larger world.

Piloting Fury is a project very near and dear to my heart, with a rewrite now in progress. As I said last week, for the July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I am working on the next book in what is a Space opera, of sorts, with plenty of political intrigue, plenty of sex, plenty of space travel — a lot of which is done in sentient ships. Piloting Fury is the first novel in that series. At this Camp NaNoWriMo, book two, Dragon Ascending is well underway. Enjoy the second half of the first chapter, since a little birdie told me you were all, indeed, very good.  (and so was I 🙂 ) From here, we’ll see where Fury leads us.

 

 

 

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.

Your Ass is Mine

“What does this mean, her ass is yours?” The notary asked, with a strong New Hibernian accent. “You know I need specifics.”

“He wants me to fuck him, if I lose,” I clarified. Me arrogant? Huh! I could already picture myself easing the powerful bulk of the Fury out of dock and seeing what the ship could do in open space.

There were three other tables demanding the attention of the notary, and the fact that such a big wager had to be witnessed wasn’t making them or him very happy. “Well I can hardly write that down, can I?”

Manning rolled his eyes and grabbed the notary’s device using the touch pad to type in whatever was a good euphemism for the thing I was certain wasn’t going to happen. I was so sure of myself, so positive that the Fury was already mine that I didn’t bother to look at what he wrote. I just placed my thumb against the DNA reader on the keypad and the notary grunted his approval, nodding to the barmaid who brought over a sealed pack of cards. Manning settled her onto his lap – for luck, he said, as he shuffled the cards, considerably longer than necessary. But then I could be patient when I would be walking away with the price of my freedom plus change and a bright shiny starship of my very own. I certainly wasn’t worried about Manning. He was a respectable pilot – not as good as I am, but not bad either, and he was one cunning sonovabitch. He’d land on his feet no matter what happened.

When he dealt me three tens, I figured I was in like Flynn. The vacuous barmaid was too busy playing with Manning’s bronze curls to give anything away. And really, while she might meet him after hours and commiserate with a good fuck, she wasn’t at all interested in the outcome. Looking back, I should have thought that strange. I should have thought the whole situation strange, that a man was about to bet his fucking starship to a woman who had a reputation for never losing. Looking back, I should have thought of a lot of things, but all I could think about was that in one glorious night, I would gain my freedom and a starship with contracts pending.

I sure as hell wasn’t thinking about Rick Manning pulling a straight flush. But that’s exactly what the bastard did. Winner takes it all.

“You cheated,” I said. But no one heard me over the squealing of the barmaid who all but bounced up and down on his lap, before nearly sticking her tongue down his throat in a congratulatory kiss. It ended in a yelp as he shoved her off, stood and offered me his hand. “Diana McAllister, I believe your ass is mine.”

The notary shoved his pad in our faces and we both offered our thumbs, which made the bet final and binding as well as transferring the details to the station archives where it would be conveniently noted and disappeared before the Authority could get wind of it. Stations this remote were not fans of the Authority, and they all played by their own rules. I said nothing. I only offered my thumb. The new Hibernians didn’t take kindly to people reneging on a notarized bet. In fact it was punishable by death at the bar owner’s discretion, in which case the winnings from the bet became the property of the bar owner. So I followed Manning out of the bar, hand in hand still trying to figure out what the hell had happened.

Even then I was consoling myself with the fact that I was no worse off than I had been before. The thought of fucking Rick Manning wasn’t entirely loathsome to me, and after all the whiskey he’d put away, I figured he’d pass out long before we got down to doing the deed. If not, there were rumors that he was good in the sack. Probably rumors he’d started, I figured. I wouldn’t put it past the bastard.

He led me down a darkened passage to a rented room above the bar. I’d expected something a little more upscale, but I was still too stunned to make any snide comments. It didn’t matter if he’d cheated, it didn’t matter that I’d lost my freedom, and a starship even before I had them. It was a done deal, so if he wanted to fuck my brains out, it had all been notarized. It was the humiliation that bothered me as much as anything. At least at that point.

He entered the code. The door slid open, and he nodded me inside. My first surprise was when he turned on the lights before motioning me to the bed. Well, maybe he liked to see what he was doing in the sack. “Lie down,” he said quietly, making no attempt to feel me up or kiss me.

I did as he said. I stripped out of the bomber jacket, but if he wanted anything else off, he’d have to do it himself. To my surprise, he didn’t come immediately to join me, but rummaged through a compact duffle bag on the floor. When he did finally come to the bed, he set a small leather case on the nightstand and pulled off his belt. I braced myself. But instead of getting down to it, he looped the belt around my forearm just above my subdural shackle and cinched it up tight enough the outline of the chip shown below the surface of my skin. “This will only hurt for a few minutes, then it’ll all be over,” he said. Before I could even begin to struggle, he laid a heavy hand on my chest. “I’d recommend you lie still. I’ve never done this before.”

“What are you doing? What the fuck are you doing?” I fought back panic.

He offered me a beatific smile. “Don’t worry, Mac. I got this.” As he brought out the laser scalpel, I all but froze.

“Fucking hell, Manning, you know what happens when a shackle’s tampered with.”

“You belong to me now, Mac,” he said, making a tiny incision that stung like fire and then two more in quick succession until the shackle was laid bare.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I held dead still hissing the words between my teeth, expecting at any minute for my arm to break out in a rash of blisters. “I belong to Captain Harker and the Dubrovnik.” Or at least I had been assigned to him for that last few years. Who I really belonged to, I never admitted unless I had no choice. Though I suspected Manning knew. He didn’t miss much.

“Not anymore you don’t.” He pulled a pair of micro-view goggles from the leather case and shoved them onto his face. Then he grabbed a couple of very delicate-looking tools I recognized from when my shackle had been recalibrated my first day onboard the Dubrovnik.

“Manning, you’ll get me infected! You’ll get me sent off to a plague planet!”

“Don’t you worry about a thing, Mac. Just hold still for me, and everything’ll be fine.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I didn’t move. I didn’t breathe. I all but willed my heart not to beat until at last he heaved a sigh and gently laid the skin back over the shackle. Then he covered it with a layer of Dermanew. That done, he removed the belt and admired his handy work. Then his hands started shaking, and I was afraid for a second, one or maybe both of us might throw up.

I stared at my arm, waiting for the telltale rash to break out. When it didn’t I looked up at him. “What the hell did you do?”

“You didn’t read the notary contract, did you?”

“I wasn’t planning to lose,” I said between gritted teeth.

“What I did was reprogram your shackle to Fury, to me, more specifically. You’re now indentured to me for an indeterminate time. I reckon it’ll take you longer to pay it off on the Fury than it would have on the Dubrovnik, since smaller ships have smaller incomes, but I promise you’ll have a lot more fun. Besides, I’ve been wanting to hire on a first mate for awhile now, and I really wanted a good pilot.”

“But what about the Dubrovnik. I can’t just jump ship.”

“Of course you can. Now.” He nodded down to the shackle. “I wouldn’t advise trying to jump ship on Fury though. You can sleep here tonight, and tomorrow at 0800, report to Fury.” He stood, suddenly a little unsure on his feet, and stumbled toward the door. Then he turned back and offered me a smile that faltered just a little
around the edges. His face had gone pale as though he’d just realized what he’d done. “The room is locked from the inside, just to keep the riff raff away, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what will happen if you try to leave. As for the Dubrovnik, well we’ll be long gone before everyone even finishes boarding the Dubrovnik. Now get some sleep. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow.”

 
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