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Piloting Fury Part 14: Brand New KDG Read

It’s a very wet and windy Friday at Grace Manor, and means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello, with a warm cuppa. I hope all is well with you Lovelies and that much good reading is happing. I plan to enjoy the rainy weather by curling up with a good read for a couple of hours this afternoon.

Whether it’s raining or not where you are, I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 14th week. 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. This week Mac’s old captain on the Dubrovnik pays for turning a blind eye to her escape.

 

 

 

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.

 

Replacements: Part 14

Fallon’s face on the com pinning Harker under his icy blue scrutiny did little to aid digestion. The man always commed at mealtime, or worse. No longer having an appetite, Harker pushed the Britannia trifle to one side, squared his shoulders and forced a polite smile.

Fallon nodded to the dessert. “One of my favorites, Britannia trifle. Though it’s been my experience replicators never quite get it right.”

As if Harker would know. He’d never had it any other way, and frankly, it was like most specialty dishes from Old Terra. Who the hell knew what they were supposed to taste like? Anything beyond the basic nutritional needs for survival had been guesswork ever since the Great Exodus. Most of the history of that time had been lost. Little real knowledge existed about anything, let alone what the food tasted like.

“How can I help you?” Harker asked, forcing down the irritation he could do nothing about.

“Let’s not pretend here, Evander. I’m aware that you’ve known almost from the beginning that Leo Rab was my eyes onboard the Dubrovnik. You’re not a stupid man. If you were, you wouldn’t be commanding my flagship.”

The muscles of Harker’s neck felt like someone had just tightened them into a vice. He shifted in his chair and tried to relax. “Is Rab okay?”

“Oh he’s fine, just fine, but I don’t need him onboard the Dubrovnik now that Diana McAllister’s no longer there, do I?”

Harker desperately wanted to ask if McAllister had been found, but to do so would betray what he hoped for her, what the woman truly deserved. So he sat in silence watching Fallon pace. The unrelieved black of his military-cut suit accented his powerful, but slender build. The shape, the style, even the color of it, a constant reminders of the lethal man who wore it. Harker had noticed through the years of having way more contact with the man than he’d have liked, that he was never still. He always had to be in motion. If for whatever reason, he were forced to stand still or sit down, he twitched, he fidgeted, he drummed fingers on desk tops, bounced a knee up and down, tapped a foot on the floor. Harker had had the opportunity to notice way more about Abriad Fallon than he wanted to. But then he had never forgotten that it was always just a single misspoken word, a single false step that separated Fallon’s friends from Fallon’s unlucky indentureds.

And that kept him careful, or at least it had until Diana McAllister came into his life. Bargaining to get her onboard the Dubrovnik as his pilot had been his first reckless act, and Fallon had been onto him almost immediately. Had the man not seen the benefits of such a good pilot on his flagship, had he chosen to keep her close instead, Harker could just as easily have ended up wearing a shackle instead of captaining a conglomerate flagship.

His second reckless act was to turn a blind eye when he first realized that Richard Manning’s interests in McAllister ran deeper than just physical attraction. It had happened while the Dubrovnik, and every other ship with business there, waited out a planet wide lava storm safe in high orbit above Diga Prime. The crew who’d been stranded on shore leave remained in the protected underground warrens that made Diga Prime habitable. He had overheard a throwaway conversation between Manning and the doctor of the Matterhorn about the illegal manipulation of shackles. Until then Harker had thought such a skill was only offered by quacks in back alleys, a scam that gave runaways false hope and, in the end, did nothing but speed along that dreaded one-way trip to a plague planet. He’d thought such a thing was nothing more than a desperate act. And yet he’d understood it. When Diana McAllister came onboard the Dubrovnik, he saw that desperation in her eyes, and he knew the reason for it. But after that conversation he now suspected he was meant to overhear, he began to think that if anyone could help the young woman, Manning could.

His third, and most reckless act of all was to make sure he’d piggybacked Fallon’s message ordering the Dubrovnik to make the unscheduled stop at NH372 to the Fury. Oh the message had been no secret. Fallon owned the Dubrovnik, and if he wanted it to make an unscheduled stop, then he had nothing to hide. Besides the channels were always open among commercial cargo ships where everything was technically above board. Harker had simply tweaked the settings just enough that if Manning were listening, and if Manning’s interests in Diana McAllister were anywhere nearly as keen as he suspected, he’d pick up on it. There was little else he could do.

To believe that there might be a way out for his pilot that would keep Harker above Fallon’s suspicions was a fool’s dream. He had always known that in his heart of hearts, and in that moment when he had known that Fallon was sending his eldest son to retrieve Diana McAllister and return her to Terra Nova Prime, it no longer mattered. He found that he couldn’t sit back and do nothing. And now he would pay for it. He only offered a benign smile and forced himself to continue with his trifle when Fallon had nodded to it graciously.

“Please, eat. It was not my intention to interrupt your meal.” Of course it was. Harker forced the spoonsful of trifle down the tightening constriction of his throat. Catching people at the most inconvenient moment, making sure they were slightly off balance, was one of the more civilized ways Fallon reminded everyone just how much their fate was in his hands.

“I suspect that you had something to do with my dear Diana’s escape, Evander.”

In spite of his efforts, Harker let the spoon clank noisily against the dish and wiped his mouth on the napkin, knowing he could eat no more. Fallon continued. “Oh I’ve suspected that you and half your crew have had a soft spot for her since I let her come onboard. That’s why I had Rab placed with you. I even suspected that if you didn’t help her try to escape, you might turn a blind eye if someone else did.” As he paced, his fingers twitched and his fists clenched and unclenched as though he anticipated tightening them around someone’s throat. “I suppose I can’t hold you at fault for that. The girl is rather endearing, and who knew she was such a good pilot?” His chuckle was more like a warning growl. “Well obviously you did, didn’t you? Captain’s instincts, I suppose. Besides, if memory serves, you did know her father. Like father like daughter, hmmm? That was your gamble, wasn’t it?” He waved a negating hand. “Never mind. It was a good use of my resources, as you told me back then. However,” he looked down at his perfectly manicured nails as though he were inspecting them for flaws, “I’ve invested a considerable amount into Diana McAllister’s maintenance and upkeep.” He leaned forward toward the monitor until Harker could make out the large pores around the sides of his nose. “Your next stop is Cairovia, isn’t it?’

He knew that it was. Harker always sent him the route plans along with cargo manifests and cargo destinations, but he answered as though it were business as usual as though he were not waiting for the axe to drop. “That’s right. Triaxium offload.”

“Good. I think it’s time for some new blood aboard the Dubrovnik. Performance is down and a bit of a change might be exactly what she needs.”

Performance was better than ever, and Fallon knew it well. Harker held his breath as the man grabbed up his device and tapped the keypad. “Oh don’t worry, no one will lose their position and no one will even be demoted. I just think a little shake-up is in order. I’ve chosen, randomly of course.” He motioned down to his device. “Fifteen members of your crew, including Rab, will be transferred to three other ships now docking at Cairovia. And you’ll receive fifteen new crew members of my choosing, those who have a little more loyalty to the conglomerate and the Authority.”

“To keep an eye on me,” Harker said, mentally kicking himself for not holding his tongue.

“Of course not, Evander. We’re old friends here, after all. I just think the Dubrovnik could use some new blood.” He glanced down at his device. “Oh, and one of those who’ll be coming over to your team is Kristov Lebedny. He’ll be joining you as second in command. Take him under your wing and show him the ropes, as a personal favor to me, Evander, and I’m sure the two of you will get on just fine.”

Harker sat stiff backed, unmoving. He had made his choices, and now he would face the consequences. He waited for it.

“I’ve a pretty good idea where Diana McAllister is at the moment, and I expect her to be onboard an Authority ship bound for Terra Nova Prime within the next few galactic days. Once she’s safe back in my care,” he offered a smile that would warm the cockles if Harker didn’t know the darkness it hid, “then the way I see it, no harm done. The new crew will perform their duties to the highest standard, as I’ve always counted on from the crew of the flagship. Then once you’ve trained up Lebedny, well I think it’s time you might want to consider your retirement, old friend. Certainly you’ve earned it.” He glanced down at his watch, clearly a Terran antique. “Goodness me, I’m late for drinks with the prime minister. Don’t worry, Evander, I’ll have our Diana back in my protection in no time.” The screen went dark.

For a long time Harker sat unmoving, watching his trifle melt into unappealing sludge. He knew that the world of conglomerates and politics was as much bluff as anything. He had to hope, he couldn’t bear not to hope that Diana was in good hands and that Richard Manning was half as much of a slippery rogue as was his reputation. That was all he had left to him now, that belief that perhaps Fallon was not as confident in Diana McAllister’s swift return as he pretended to be. Why else would he place his own people onboard the Dubrovnik after the fact? Why else would he leave the open threat hanging over Harker’s head?

 

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.

 
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