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Posts Tagged ‘Scifi romance adventure’

Piloting Fury Part 13: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday, and that means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello from Grace Manor. I hope all is well with you Lovelies and that much good reading is happing. We’re just back from a wonderful week holiday in Appleby-in-Westmorland, right on the edge of the Lake District National Park. Did some great walks in gorgeous weather, and I even managed some good writing sessions in a local, very socially distanced and Covid safe coffee shop. What more could a girl ask?

As we enter the 13th 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. This week Mac’s past comes back to haunt her.

 

 

 

“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.

 

 

Nightmares and Demons: Part 13

Below deck, I lost myself in the work. I wasn’t a natural born medic. I didn’t like being around sick people, but neither did I like suffering, and I’d seen a shitload of it in my life, so I did what I could to make sure everyone was comfortable. I could already see improvements in the patients who had received the vaccine. But I knew for a fact that something this wonderful couldn’t be kept secret, and as soon as the Authorities found out about it, they’d confiscate it, and make it unavailable. Oh they wouldn’t destroy it altogether. The truth was it increased the usefulness of the SNT virus for biochemical warfare. I’d lived close enough to these sick bastards to understand how their minds worked, what they’d want. At the end of the day, we’d have been better off blowing the victims out the airlock. At least then their suffering would be over. Even healed they were still criminals, runaways, just like I was. I bathed the fevered face of the young boy, who was taking longer to recover than the others. I figured that was because he was so malnourished and abused. I could see the burn scars on both his arms and the place where his protruding collarbone had been broken at least twice. “You’ll be okay. I got you,” I whispered. He was less likely to hear the tightness in my voice, if I whispered, less likely to understand that I was only hoping for his recovery rather than expecting it. “I got you now. You rest awhile, and when you wake up, you’ll feel better.”

I need the coordinates to the McAllister Wormhole, Mac.”

Manning joined me, holding out his device.

I took it from him and punched them in without looking at him.

“Can you lay in a course for the Svalbard?” His voice was quiet, tired, I thought.

I nodded.

“Do you need the atlas?”

I shook my head and glanced up at him. “Not for that. I have that memorized from anywhere in space I’ve ever been, and it’s the first route I memorize wherever I am.” I focused my attention on the keypad entering the route. “It’s the only thing in the galaxy I can almost believe is mine.” I handed it back to him, and returned my attention to kid, who was now shivering. There were no more blankets to put over him, and I had nothing warmer than my T-shirt, which was soaked in my own perspiration from the efforts in the hot cargo hold.

“Here. Help me.” I was surprised when Manning laid aside his device and shed his bomber jacket. I eased the boy into a sitting position, and Manning helped him into it telling him that it was a genuine Terran flight jacket — the same story he had told me before I won it off of him, but the boy’s attention was riveted “Brings good luck,” Manning said, as the fever-ravaged kid all but fell asleep in his arms, and we lowered him back onto the stretcher.

“You should get some sleep, Mac. There’s nothing more you can do for him. The medics will stay here through the night.”

“Unless that’s a direct order, I’d like to stay.”

The muscles along his cheekbone jerked and twitched and he gave me a quick nod. “All right. If you’re sure. We leave for Plague One as soon as the Svalbard is away. The medics will stay onboard and care for their charges until then. Afterwards, Ina will stay with us to care for them until we reach Plague One. The sooner we get there, the better.” There was nothing happy-go-lucky about Manning now, and nothing but dread on my part when it came to our next port of call.

Long toward morning the boy died. I didn’t cry. He wasn’t the first indentured barely old enough to be out of diapers I’d seen die, and he wasn’t likely to be the last. His body was wrapped in a shroud from the Svalbard and sent into space with all the proper words, as though that made us all feel any better. None of us believed in an afterlife, and any indentured knew that the void of death was far better than what our lives would likely be.

I stumbled back to my room dry-eyed and stayed in the shower for ages rubbing at the damned shackle until the skin around it was angry red. Manning’s microsurgery was all but invisible beneath the number that was the only identity I had since my father died – at least the only one the Authority recognized. Then the debt of the Merlin and its destruction was saddled on him post mortem and, by proxy, his only living relative. I’d clung viciously to my name and to my memories, I’d worked hard, I’d gambled hard and saved away every credit to buy back my freedom and the chance to clear my father’s name. And now here I was, no closer to that goal than I had been the day they came for me, and me still holding desperately to the belief that my father would be cleared of all crimes, of all debts. I should have run. I should have escaped to some system on the Rim. I could have started a life as a free woman rather than clinging stubbornly to the beliefs that because I was a law-abiding citizen, as my father had been, justice would triumph.

I fell onto the bed too exhausted to mourn another loss that no one cared about. I slept, and for the first night in a long time I dreamed.

I wandered the deserted decks of the Merlin. That was how it always began. Even when the conscious part of me saw it coming, I could never get out of it until I’d seen it through to the bitter end. I was excited to see my father’s ship, a work of art, he’d told me, a pilot’s dream come true, and it really was beautiful, like no other ship ever built.

“She slices through space like a sharp knife through birthday cake.” I heard his voice as though he stood right there next to me, but he didn’t. He never did. I was always alone.

I walked the whole ship, from the bridge to the cargo hold, trying to find him, calling out to him over and over again. But he never answered, and my dread always grew the longer I searched. I ended up on the bridge trying to contact him on the com. It was his ship, after all. He had to be there somewhere. He wouldn’t leave his ship, and he wouldn’t leave his only daughter alone.

And then the screen flashed bright and I was staring into his fever bright eyes.  He sat propped in the engineering room against the door. There were radiation burns along his cheekbones and down his neck. It was then that I heard the first explosion and the ship juddered from a direct hit. “Daddy? Daddy what’s going on? What’s happening?” Another impact and I thought the Merlin would shake apart.

“Diana, I need you to get into one of the escape pods. Now.”

“Daddy, you’re scaring me.”

“Don’t be afraid, angel. Just do as I asked. Everything will be all right.”

And then I was screaming and hammering on the airlock of an escape pod as I watched the Merlin explode into a fireball with my father still inside.

After that I was running, running from Fallon, endlessly running from Fallon until I stumbled and he caught me by the collar. Two of his men held me while he inserted the shackle, chuckling to himself all the while. “You’re not daddy’s little girl anymore, 1215Mac035. You’re just a number, just a tool, and you belong to me.” And then my arm broke out in a rash, and he watched it spread. While he drank New Sicilian wine and fucked some nameless woman, I shivered with fever and screamed at the hallucinations the virus elicited. “This will teach you,” he said, lifting his glass as though he were offering me a toast. “This will remind you what will happen if you ever cross me, if you ever displease me. Then he took up a syringe and inserted it into my shackle. “Only I have the antidote, only I can make you all better, just like that Diana.”

But I didn’t get better, my skin reddened then blackened and pealed away. And he laughed. “Oops. Sorry about that girl. Guess I was a little bit late this time. Bad luck that. Never mind. Next stop Plague One.”

I woke drenched in sweat and gasping for air. I stumbled from the bed and barely made it to the bathroom in time to vomit until my whole body convulsed with dry heaves, until there was nothing left in me at all. And then I did cry, leaning back against the tiles, cradling my arm with the disease-free shackle against my chest, weeping for all I’d lost, weeping for the helplessness that was still the center of my existence, weeping for the death of one little boy whose name I didn’t even know, ashamed and embarrassed that even after all this time I could still let it matter.

It was a long while before I calmed enough to realize that I wasn’t alone. Manning knelt beside me, wiping my face with a cool cloth and offering me a glass.

“Drink this. It’s Fury’s special formula. It’ll balance the electrolytes in your system and help you sleep.” He held my gaze. “Without dreams.” He sat down on the floor next to me and handed me the concoction. I drank it back, not sure I could keep it down. To my surprise it felt good against my battered insides.

“Better?” he asked, still mopping sweat from my neck and forehead.

I nodded.

“I don’t want to go there,” I managed. Then my throat tightened and I was sobbing again like some blubbing baby.

To my surprise, he pulled me onto his lap and rocked me. “I know, and I’m sorry.”

“It’s not like I have a choice,” I hiccupped.

His chuckle was a soft rumble deep in his chest. “Not like either of us does, it would seem.” Then he added, smoothing the hair away from my face. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you still get your twenty percent.”

And in spite of myself I laughed. “I should have held out for twenty-five.”

Hi smile turned wicked. “Hell, another minute or two in the Braid and I’d have happily given you thirty.” Then, with me still in his arms, he stood effortlessly and carried me back to the bed. Strangely enough the sweaty sheets had been replaced and the bed turned down. “Fury’s a bit of a mother hen when it comes to taking care of his crew,” he said as he settled me down and pulled the blanket up over me. “Get some sleep. The Svalbard sets off at 0600, and we’ll be taking the fastest route to Plague One.” He stood and headed for the door. Then he stopped. “Oh and Mac,” he said without turning back. “I’m the captain, not you. In front of our clients, even when they’re friends, like the Svalbard, both our lives may depend on at least the appearance of a strict order of command. Understood?”

“Understood,” I said.

“Good. Now sleep.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 7: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies! We’re actually away up in Cumbria walking some of Hadrian’s Wall this week — our first time away since lockdown began. It feels wonderful to be back in one of our favourite parts of the UK. It feels lovely just to be away.

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, Diana Mac did a bit of exploring around her new home. This week, Diana Mac is missed.

 

 

 

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.

 

Turning a Blind Eye Part 7

Captain Evander Harker paced the bridge of the Dubrovnik, waiting for the shuttle to dock. The ship had been delayed in its departure due to a missing pilot. Oh he’d occasionally had crewmembers jump ship without giving notice, but they were usually unskilled labor and certainly they were never indentured. Of course there were others who could pilot the ship, though certainly none who were anywhere nearly as good at it as Diana McAllister.

“No sign of her, Captain,” came the message from the shuttle pilot. “If she’s on the space station, scans aren’t showing any evidence of her shackle. She’s long gone.”

Harker certainly hoped that was true. Leo Rab had reported to sickbay with a broken rib and a ruptured kidney last night. He claimed he was attacked behind the Nine Tails. But Harker knew better. He might have a reputation for being one of the few orca class captains working for Bright Star Conglomerate that was incorruptible, but that didn’t make him stupid. That made him cautious. It didn’t matter if you were a starship captain or a bum. Harker was always well aware that the boundary separating a free citizen from an indentured was thin and fluid. Diana McAllister was a perfect example of that. So he’d always been cautious. But he’d been a helluva lot more so since taking Mac onboard. She had made the Dubrovnik, and therefore Bright Star, a lot of money. But he had known from the beginning her being on the crew was only a temporary reprieve. That he wasn’t sure what had happened to her left a cold knot in the pit of his stomach. That Rab had gotten away from whatever altercation he’d been involved in with no more than a broken rib and a ruptured kidney left him hopeful. But then again, there was really little reason for Rab to remain aboard if McAllister was gone. Well he could tell himself that, but clearly Fallon senior still wanted him watched.

Harker paced back and forth on the deck one more time, knowing that there was no need to wait any longer, and hoping against hope that the best damn pilot in the galaxy could somehow make a successful escape. If any indentured he’d ever known deserved it, she did.


“Juarez, take us out of orbit,” he ordered the lieutenant now sitting uncomfortably in Diana Mac’s chair. Then he hit the com button. “All hands to stations.” With any luck they would be out of hailing range before Abriad Fallon checked in. In truth Harker was surprised that he hadn’t done it already. Surprised and worried. Conditions were picking up for one helluva radiation storm, giving him a genuine excuse for not contacting Fallon about Mac going AWOL. That would give the girl a little more grace, he thought, trying not to dwell on the very real possibility that she was already suffering in an alley somewhere, or worse yet, aboard Gerando Fallon’s ship. By now the virus would have become far more than a rash and in another forty-eight hours, there would be nothing anyone could do for her. The only other possibility was just too damn good to be true, and yet circumstances kept him hoping.

As he took his seat and buckled in, he knew that there was already nothing anyone could do for her if Fallon found her. He had no idea why the man wanted her so badly, and Vaticana Jesu knew he had done everything in his power to keep her away from the man. Now matters were out of his hands, but as long as Leo Rab remained onboard the Dubrovnik, he was still under Fallon’s scrutiny.

Once the Dubrovnik had cleared the Corset and the jump was made, and he couldn’t help noticing it was a little rougher than it would have been if McAllister had made it, he unbuckled and turned to Juarez. “You’re head pilot now, lieutenant, at least for the moment.” He supposed it was his own little streak of mean, his own way of dealing with all the goddamn helplessness he felt every day, but it did his heart good to see Juarez pale just a little bit as he gave a stiff necked nod and a breathless ‘yes sir.’

He returned to his quarters and grabbed a quick cup of coffee from the replicator before he settled in to inspect the manifests one last time for the cargo they’d be off-loading in Inner Rim City. But the words and numbers blurred in front of his eyes like some foreign language. He pushed back from his desk and commed Sickbay.

“How’s Rab?” he asked without preamble.

“Making a recovery,” came Dr. Flissy’s no-nonsense reply. “He’s off the duty roster for two, maybe three days, but he should be good to go by the time we hit Inner Rim City.”

“He still in sickbay then?”

“For a couple more hours, yes, then I’m releasing him with pain meds back to his quarters to sleep.”

“Good. I’ll be right down. I want a word with him.”

“Right captain.” Flissy didn’t ask why the ship’s captain was questioning Rab rather than the on-duty security staff, which was just as well because he really couldn’t give a good answer could he?

As he stepped into the corridor security chief, Ivan joined him. “A word, sir, if I might.”

“What is it, Ivan. I’m in a bit of a rush.”

The man matched his steps unflustered by his captain’s impatience. “Just thought you might like to know that Amos and Han saw Gerando Fallon in the Nine Tails last night eyeballing McAllister. If I were to venture a guess, he’s the reason our pilot is missing.”

Well hell, this was not what he wanted to hear, and yet it didn’t surprise him either. Even as it worried him, it left him hopeful.

“That’s a possibility,” Harker replied. He’d known Fallon would be there. That was the reason Fallon senior ordered him to make the unscheduled stop at NH372. He’d also known exactly what Gerando Fallon had been there for, which had forced him to act recklessly, but he was the only one who knew just how recklessly he had acted.

“Militia said that a hooker who worked from there turned up dead this morning. Last seen leaving with Fallon.”

No surprise there, Harker thought, as his stomach tightened still further. He’d feel better, he hoped, after he’d talked to Rab. “Thanks Ivan,” he said as he reached the lift. “Keep on it for me. She was a damn fine pilot. Could well be she saw him and ran. I would have. Could well be she’s holed up somewhere. I’ve got the militia looking with instructions to administer the antidote if they find her in time. Nothing else I can do at the moment, is there?” Nothing else but keep his fingers crossed and
hope.

Harker would be willing to bet that Gerando Fallon being at the Nine Tails last night had more than a little to do with the hooker’s death and Rab’s beating. Hell, the way he saw it, if Gerondo Fallon had gotten hold of Rab, then the man was lucky to be alive and in one piece. But if Fallon junior had been that upset, then Harker would also be willing to bet it was because McAllister had slipped through his fingers. Even the thought of Abriad Fallon’s eldest being that close to the girl made his skin crawl. The scuttlebutt was that some punter beat McAllister at poker last night. That was big news and it travelled fast. He also knew she had left with him. That was all he knew. That was all it was safe for him to know, and even that might be too damn much.

 
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