Happy Friday everyone! And a monumental Friday it is! For eighty weeks you’ve followed Dragon and Len’s adventure in the Dust Cloud Crossroad, and while it’s time for their story to end, the adventure goes on, as I’m sure you’ll see in the final episode of Dragon Ascending. I think it’s quite possible that KD had at least as much of an adventure writing Dragon Ascending as our main cast of characters, though thankfully not nearly as dangerous. I hope it’s been an adventure for you too and that you’ve had as much fun as I have. Will there be another novel from the Sentient Ships series? Well, certainly there’s one in my head. We shall see. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!
For those of you who would like to read the complete novel, Piloting Fury, book one of the Sentient Ships series, follow the link to the first instalment.
Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ship Series
On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felish, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.
Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.
Dragon Ascending Epilogue: You have a Different Fate
Through the observation shield in his office, Kresho watched Dragon make the jump, wishing he’d had more time to better know the woman Len had grown into, but glad that she had found love, had found her rightful place. He and Ori had persuaded Len and Dragon to take Gert with them, a task the woman was a little too excited about in his opinion, but Len wasn’t a pilot, nor did she have the kind of experience troubleshooting that Gert did, and the two women got along surprisingly well. Besides she and Dragon both hoped to build a working crew. They planned to take onboard escaped and free indentured and help them begin a new life beyond the Rim, all that while they searched for Len’s uncle and Quetzalcoatl.
Ori spoke, as they watched her brother vanish. “Humanoids need humanoid companionship. It has been good for us both to be surrounded by so many humanoids, Kresho, though perhaps we were surrounded by too many before we had the chance to enjoy each other as a bonded pair.” He felt her caress of the nape of his neck, and he lifted his arm to accommodate her construct as she slid in tight against his body.
“Then we’ll have to make up for it, won’t we?” He said, turning to kiss the top of her ear. “Does it bother you that Tenad Fallon is here?” The woman was now in a secured room close to the infirmary under full time care. They both visited her every day since they brought her onboard Vodni Station, though she was unaware of their presence.
“Of course it doesn’t. It’s only that I wished I had handled the situation better. I feel responsible for her present condition to some degree.”
“Jesu Vati, Ori, how can you be responsible for the fucked-up mind of a Fallon?”
When she didn’t reply, when he felt her searching for the right words, it was as though the lights had suddenly come on. How could he not have seen it before? “You had me go to her because you wanted her.”
“I wanted us to be happy, and when I learned that Fury had two compliments, I thought perhaps if you had someone human then maybe things would be better. I didn’t think she would escalate the situation like she did.”
Kresho thought about that for a minute and then dropped into his chair. “Perhaps,” he said slowly, “perhaps the reason she pushed for the bonding with Fury is because she wanted something more.”
His com pinged. “Ivanovic, you’d better get down to the infirmary.” The security guard assigned to Tenad’s room was breathing hard, and Kresho could hear the scuffle in the background.
“On my way.”
Even from down the corridor, they could hear the noise, and there was a trail of blood leading into the infirmary. The two security guards always posted at Tenad’s room were not outside, but in the room struggling to restrain Tenad while Doctor Candice, tried to sedate her.
With very little effort, Tenad shoved the doctor on her ass and pushed past the guards to lunge at him, already in mid-sentence, the first words she had spoken since the fiasco of her bonding. “Ivanovic, I have to go. You have to let me go. She needs me to find her. I have to go now!”
Kresho motioned the doc away, and the guards stood back knowing that Ori wouldn’t let anything happen to him. With some effort, he turned her back to settle her on her bed. “Go where, Tenad? Who needs you?
She pounded the side of her head with her open palm. “Here. I can see them here. She won’t leave me alone. I have to go. I have to.” She pulled in a massive breath, her eyes misted and she looked right through him. “There’s a veil, a fog, I can’t get through it, but she’s there. I have to find her.”
“Find who? Where must you go, Tenad Fallon?” Ori asked.
“Fury … when we were together.” She pounded the side of her head again. “I saw them, I shouldn’t have been able to, but I did. Like I was there. Like I was them. Like they were me. He did this to me. He did this!”
“Who? Who did what? Fury?”
“No, no, no! Not Fury. Never Fury. He would never…” She gave Kresho a shake. “You’re the scientist. Tell me how that can be. You and the SNT you belong to, listen to me, there are others. I don’t know how many, but they will come. The Authority. They will come. The Independent University wasn’t the only one experimenting. They were us. He used us. We didn’t know how many of us there were. My father kept most of us secret from each other. Then I bonded with Fury, and I could see.” Tears streaked her face. “I could see, and now I’m the only one who can, and I can’t get them out of here.” She pounded her temple again, “I have to go. I have to find them. They’re angry, so angry. They will never let it end here. They will never set me free now that they know. Fury did this to me. Fury did this to me! She pounded her temple hard enough that Kresho grabbed her hands.
For a long moment she sat only staring into space. Then she drew another deep breath. “You have to let me go. I know where they are. We need them, I know them. Oh Fury, I can see them. I know them. You could have helped them, and now I’m nobody, I’m nothing, but I’m all there is. I have to go. I’m all there is.” Tenad gave one last convulsive gasp and then her eyes were once again empty. Doctor Candice shooed Kresho away and examined her.
“Well?” Kresho said, when she made no reply.
“It’s like nothing happened. Her brain patterns are consistent with the catatonic state she’s been in since she tried to bond with SNT1. I can’t explain what happened, only that she suddenly sat up, agitated, demanding to see you, and when Pelton tried to sedate her, well,” she shook her head. “He’s over in the infirmary with a broken nose and a dislocated shoulder.”
“She forced a bond with an SNT,” the doctor said. “We don’t know the side effects of that, but we do know that the bonded compliments are stronger, more agile, in tune with the functions and needs of their ship, and they’re often very intuitive. If she can ever properly access it, she may have a deep bond to memories, events that only SNT1 would know. But that, whatever just happened, that had nothing to do with SNT1.”
“If she can ever regain consciousness, she will be unique in the galaxy,” Ori said, “and possibly even more frightening than she already was. We must discuss this with Fury.”
Tenad dreamed. She dreamed all the time now. It had become her existence. It always seemed like only a thin membrane separated her from the people moving around her, from the events that had changed the politics of the Dust Cloud Crossroads irrevocably. Even when she screamed out to them, tried to reach them, she couldn’t.
In the good dreams she watched her brother and Griffin make love to their pregnant compliment. She watched Dubrovnik interface with Professor Keen and his scientists in exciting research. She sensed the ship’s proud closeness with its double compliment. She watched Dragon make love to his new compliment, felt his pleasure in creating safe and comfortable places for his crew, and she watched Fury and his compliment still celebrating their reunion weeks after their return to him, as though she had never been there at all. How could she have dismissed Vodni Station so lightly? Tonight Kresho and his SNT were making passionate love, not rough like when he’d fucked her, but neither was it gentle. They couldn’t get enough of each other, and there was … love, there was love. She wondered what that might feel like, and she ached with loneliness. She couldn’t pull herself away from their love, their tenderness. Sometimes the camaraderie, the playfulness of the ships with their compliments was worse than her own nightmares because she was always only watching, never participating, always an outsider, one who none of them cared about. Sometimes she would almost prefer that they loathed her than that they did not pay her any mind at all. Lonely. She was desperately lonely, and she lived with the pain of it every time she was pulled into the dream that was the life she would never have.
“You don’t belong here, Tenad Fallon.” The woman’s voice she’d heard before in her fevered dreams, even before she bonded with Fury. She always walked on a craggy peak veiled in black. The air was thin. The wind was icy.
“I don’t belong anywhere.” Tenad tried to turn her face to the wall, but she was only dreaming, and there was no turning away. “It would have been better if I died.”
The veiled woman cackled with laughter. “Do you seriously think your survival was luck, girl? You gambled, and you got more than you bargained for.”
“I didn’t gamble. I considered every factor.” Tenad tried to hold the gaze of the woman before her, but it was impossible through the sway and lift of the veil in the howling wind.
“Your whole existence has been a gamble, Tenad Fallon.” Her words were a harsh, dry chuckle, as though she thought all of this was funny. “You’re not yet finished. You’re not your father, and you are not your brother. You were the best kept secret, the secret unlocked by your own ambition. And now your fate is thrust upon you. And you will rise to meet it, or you will die.”
And just like that the woman on the crag vanished, and Tenad Fallon woke up.