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Piloting Fury Part 27: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. 

If you’re enjoying this rollicking read, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. This week the secrets Manning and Fury reveal to Mac generates more questions all with colossal implications.

 

 

“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” McAllister 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 Part 27: More Answers, More Questions

 

“What?” That was all I could manage. It was as though I’d forgotten how to speak. I pulled away enough to look down at my shackle and cradled my arm in my hand as I’d done since I was first indentured, the only way I had of comforting myself, comforting my assaulted flesh, the flesh that constantly carried the means of my destruction. “You …”

“Oh you won’t be able to tell any difference and neither will anyone else.” He lifted my chin onto the crook of his finger and held my gaze. “Do you really think I’d ever have an indentured? The same technology that allows me to reprogram your shackle to me, also allows me to deactivate it entirely,” he said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you.”

“It would not have been wise,” Fury interjected.

Manning reached out and lay his other hand gently over my arm. “Believe me, I wanted to, but if you knew you were no longer an indentured, if anyone knew, then the risk to you and to the research going on at Pandora Base would be that much greater.”

I felt as though I was doing another hyper-jump – this one without a ship, this one without even my own body.

“It’s still not safe for you to know, but it’s not safe for you not to either. If we’re to finish what we started, then I can’t have you living in terror, and I can’t have you looking back at the past.” He nodded down to my arm. “I’d remove it completely if the circumstances were different, and I hope in time to do just that. But for now, it’s best if the world believes Diana McAllister is a runaway indentured who ended up in the hands of someone who could hijack her shackle.”

I didn’t realize I was crying until Manning wiped a tear with his thumb. “I’m free,” I hiccupped.

“You’re not free. You’re a long way from free yet,” Manning said.

On the replicator by the bed a steaming cup of tea appeared and the scent of chamomile filled the room. “Here, drink this. It’ll help calm you.” Manning handed it to me and smiled. “Fury has a home remedy for everything.”

“From seven hundred different worlds,” the ship added.

 

 

“Then there’s a plan. There’s a reason why you cheated me in poker.”

“There are lots of reasons, but yes, there is a plan, Mac, and you play a major role in that plan. You have since before you were born. You just didn’t know it. Fallon suspects, and that’s why he made sure your father got the blame for the loss of the Merlin and forced you into indentured service – to him specifically. More than likely that’s why he infected you so many times with the virus as well. But that’s something you’ll have to discuss with Professor Keen.”

“He infected me for punishment,” I said.

“Fury, pull up the data,” Manning said, holding my gaze.

A graph flashed on the monitor on my wall with Diana McAllister and my indentured number written after it.

“These were the dates Fallon infected you,” Fury said.

“Fucking hell!” I swallowed hard. “The bastard kept track!”

“Oh he did way more than keep track,” Manning said. “And he wasn’t best pleased about losing his data.”

“I don’t understand, I said fighting back the urge to be sick.

“Look at the graph, Mac, look at the dates. Every time, he infected you, he left the cure a little longer. I know,” he said waving a negating hand, “that’s a game sadistic owners often pull with their indentured, and if they go too long, well, they just send them off to a plague planet and get another indentured. It’s not hard in this day and age to trump up charges, to make sure someone can’t pay the debt they own. It’s just a matter of what position you need filled. The Authority and the conglomerates have had control of the universities and technical schools for years and no one gets through them without owning some kind of service to the Authority, most owe way more than service by the time they’ve managed their education.”

“I know that, every one knows that,” I said, “but what does it have to do with Fallon keeping track of the times he infected me.”

“He played it close to the bone with you, didn’t he?”

Bile rose to my throat and I shoved the tea aside. “The bastard took bets on how long he could hold out before he injected me with the antidote.”

“Barbaric pile of excement.” To my surprise, it was Fury who spoke.

“Mac,” Manning took both of my hands in a tight grip. “You should have died after the third time he injected you.”

“What?”

He nodded up to the graph. “My cheating at poker was nothing compared to the bets he made. The deck was always stacked in his favor. Mac, listen to me, very carefully, after the third time, he infected you, the antidote was just saline. You’re immune to the SNT virus.”

Knuckles cracked in the suicide grip I had on his hands and I wasn’t sure if they were mine or his. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breath. The graph on the screen blurred and went out of focus.

“I … I’ve never been so ill.”

“That’s because he infected you with higher doses of the virus each time, until in the end, the dosage would have been lethal even to a full bred Polyphemian. And yet, you recovered. Your body healed itself every time. Every time.”

“I was his guinea pig.”

“The data, the tissue samples, the work, it was all done in conglomerate labs under one of the conglomerate’s best scientists. But Fire Star labs were infiltrated. The data and the tissue samples they had taken from you were stolen by some of Keen’s network. That was the precious cargo aboard the Svalbard. At the time, the Svalbard didn’t know that my cargo was even more precious.

“The reason I cheated in poker, the reason I would have kidnapped your ass and hauled you kicking and screaming onboard the Fury is because with his data and samples gone, Fallon needed you back. Fallon was about to arrange your transfer from The Dubrovnik back to conglomerate labs.”

I didn’t realize I was shaking until Manning pulled his damn monk robe off and draped it over my shoulders. Hell, I hadn’t even noticed he still wore it, but then I had a lot on my mind.

“If Fallon’s son was as far out in space as the edge of the Rim, then he was looking for you. You’re the cure that Fallon wants to control, because if he doesn’t, you could sway the course of history.”

“Drink your tea,” Furry said. “You do not look well, Diana Mac.”

“How do you know all this?” I asked, “And even more importantly, how do you fit in? Are you just doing it for money? Am I just another job?”

 

 

He cupped my face in his hands and gave me a kiss, a quick kiss, but it got my full attention nonetheless. “You know better than that, Mac. You’ve always known better than that from the day we first met. Let’s just say I have a long history with SNT technology and I have at least as much of a stake in this as you do.”

I waited for more, but it didn’t come, and I wasn’t entirely sure I could take in any more tonight anyway. For a moment we all sat in silence. I sipped my tea, which somehow Fury had managed to keep warm for me. “So what do you want with me then. I’m assuming I’m not just the pilot. Or will I get booted off on Pandora Base permanently the next time we’re there for research purposes.” I suddenly felt queasy again.

“That’s not going to happen, Mac. You’re right here with me and Fury where you’re supposed to be.” Manning blew out a sharp breath. “But you’ll have to trust us for now that for the three of us to do what we have to, we’ll need Victor Keen’s help.” He reached out and smoothed the hair away from my face. Oh believe me, I would love nothing more than for you to have no other task but piloting Fury. I have wet dreams of what the three of us could do together in the galaxy if we were free to do what we pleased.”

The thought made me a little wet too, I had to admit, and better yet, it made me smile.

“Maybe someday we’ll be able to, but not yet. Right now there’s just too damn much at stake.”

I gulped back the rest of the tea, heaved a sigh and squared my shoulders. “All right. We just scammed back a fortune in contraband, we just escaped a seriously nasty sonovabitch, which will probably come back to bite us in the ass, and I’ve just learned I’m no longer an indentured plus I’m the reverse of Typhoid Mary. What’s next?”

Manning brought my hand to his lips and placed an enthusiastic kiss on my knuckles, and it felt almost like Fury shared his excitement. “Well, we need to sell the whiskey to the New Sumerians, and I know just the buyer for the musk oil out there as well. New Sumerians are gaga for aphrodisiacs. We’ll need the resources. When that’s done we’ll head back to Pandora Base. Keen will need to run some tests on you.” He squeezed my hand. “None involving infecting you, believe me. And some of those, believe it or not, will involve your piloting skills.” He held my gaze. You really are the best pilot in the galaxy. By far. Keen can also answer more of your questions than anyone else alive. After that, the plan gets complicated, but,” he gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze, “it’ll involve clearing your father’s name and the sentient ships as well as Keen, and I don’t have to tell you the implications for indentureds.”

“Wow!” That was suddenly all I could say. My world had just shifted on its axis again, and if the first shift had been major, this one was beyond colossal.

“We focus on one day at a time, Mac, just like we always do, and we do the task set before us. And right now the task set before us is food, drink and celebrating one hell of a scam.”

 

Piloting Fury Part 26: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday my Lovelies, and time for another chapter of Fury. I don’t feel any older, if you’re wondering. My birthday was quietly, safely just what I wanted and needed in these scary lockdown times. Pride and Prejudice was as fabulous as it always is. I ate too much Pavlova, enjoyed lots of good wine, had some nice walks and totally basked in being queen of the weekend. I hope you all enjoyed the extended instalment of Fury.

If you’re enjoying this rollicking read, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Remember this is a work in progress, so please be gentle with me. This week Manning and Fury let Mac in on a game-changing secret.

 

 

“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 Part 26:

I materialized on my hands and knees on the deck of the Fury, trying hard not to vomit. Manning mantled me for a moment, then scrambled to his feet.

“We need to jump. Now,” came Manning’s calm voice, and when I was too shaken to move, he yanked me upright; half dragged, half carried me to my chair and belted me in. He’d barely gotten his own belt secured when the g-forces of the pre-laid in jump pushed us back against the seats. Fury was gone and us right along with him.

Once the jump was made, Manning grabbed my hand in a suicide grip. “Mac, I need you to focus. We need to jump again, and then again after that, as quickly as possible. Get us as far into deep space as you can in a quick jump. Just do it!”

“Do not worry Diana Mac, Richard Manning knows what he is doing. We will be very safe if you do as he says.” I had already laid in coordinates by the time Fury finished his pep talk. “Ready to jump,” I said. As we did, I was already halfway through entering the coordinates for two more fast jumps.

The whole sequence took less than five minutes and we came out of hyperspace with a bone-jarring jerk. I sat still waiting for my innards to settle back into place before. Manning spoke between barely parted lips. “Good thing I didn’t have my dinner yet. I’d be losing it about now.” He swallowed hard then laid his head back against the seat. “Nobody with any kind of desire for self preservations would have followed us through that, even if they could have.” Then he covered his mouth with his hand and swallowed several times before the green tinge began to fade from his cheeks.

“Which they could not,” Fury added.

“I ran right into him, and the sonovabitch recognized me. Gerando Fallon recognized me.” Suddenly I was shaking so bad I couldn’t have stayed in the seat if I hadn’t been belted in. “If you hadn’t had a lock on my, I’d have ended up … Christ! He was going to take me back to his father. I’m just a runaway indentured. I’m a fucking fugitive. Fallon would have infected me… There’ll be repercussions for Fury. Jesus, Manning, what are we going to do? What are we going to do?” The deck swam around me, and my vision blurred. Manning threw off his harness and grabbed me up out of my chair with me shivering and babbling like some loony. When I finally came to myself, I was huddled in the middle of my bed in Manning’s arms, as he crooned to me softly.

“He is never going to have you. Ever, Mac, do you hear me? You’re not a fugitive, you belong right here with Fury and me, and no one will ever infect you again.”

“Diana Mac’s vitals are better now,” Fury said. “The likelihood of shock is greatly reduced.” It was strange, but I felt Fury almost as intimately as I felt Manning – not terribly surprising as closely as I’d worked with the ship.

“Mac, listen to me.” Manning eased the combs from my hair and ran his fingers through it. “I promise you no one could have followed us through those jumps, and certainly Fallon’s brat won’t find any allies at Stella’s. Stella turned a blind eye for me because she owes me. That means all the surveillance cameras were turned off. Fallon would have had them turned off anyway. The fact that the man has a reputation of being a drunken asshole means no one will believe even half of what he says, probably not even his father.”

“Jesus, Manning! You can’t be that naïve! It was his father who sent him – sent him looking for me, because he knows the sonovabitch wants me almost as much as his old man does. And if Leo Rab is helping him, well Rab’s no slouch, and he works for Harker on the Dubrovnik. Don’t you get it? They won’t give up. Fallon will never give up. How could I have possibly thought that he would, and now you and Fury are under threat because of me.”

“Don’t you worry about Fury and me. We’re fine, and so are you. Do you hear me, Mac?” He gave me a little shake. “So are you.”

I nodded and gulped a deep breath.

He studied me for a minute as though he doubted that he’d gotten his message through, then he blew out a heavy breath. “As for the Dubrovnik, well it was Harker who helped me get you away. Rab, I don’t know, but I’m guessing he’s not the only one on the Dubrovnik, or any conglomerate ship, for that matter, who gets a little something extra under the table for snitching.”

For a long time no one spoke, and while I could sense Manning’s gaze on me, it was the Fury’s warmth that I felt, a micro-adjustment to the space where I lay, no doubt. Fury was all about the comfort of his crew.

To my surprise, it was Fury who spoke to Manning. “Are you sure it is a good idea, Richard Manning? There are risks.”

“There are always risks,” Manning said, “and it’s time she knew.”

“Knew what?” I asked.

Fury made what sounded like a tutting noise, but then I may have just imagined that. I didn’t imagine the charged air between captain and ship, which made my skin prickle.

Manning took a deep breath and cupped my arm in his hand, holding it so the place where the shackle was implanted was exposed. For a moment, we both stared down at the spot, and then he ran the fingertips of his right hand along the slight roughness of it. “You’re not an indentured anymore, Mac. You’re shackle is empty.”

 

 

Piloting Fury Part 25: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Birthday to me!  Tomorrow is my birthday, so to celebrate, this week’s version of Fury is actually a double read. While you enjoy more time with Mac, Manning and Fury, I’ll be toasting you all with the bubbly. Since we’re in lockdown once again here in England, I’ll be celebrating at home, more than likely binge watching the fantastic 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. If you’ve not seen it, I can’t recommend it enough. I try to watch it every year if I can.

Mac and Manning, however, are not Elizabeth and Darcy, and there’s nothing very well mannered in their behaviour at all. As we enter the 25nd week of Fury, I hope you’re enjoying the rollicking read. If so, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Today, while the con was successful, the getaway doesn’t quite go as planned.

 

 

“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 Part 25: Aftermath

 

“Tell you what,” he said in a slurred voice that was dripping seduction and generously laced with greed, “how about I give you a chance to win it all back and more.” He looked me up and down, and I crossed my legs and leaned forward.

“What did you have in mind?”

“If you win, you take back your shares. If I win, you give me the coordinates for the triaxium.” When I started to protest, he placed a brandy-scented finger against my lips. “Oh don’t worry, sweetie pie, if you lose I’ll see that you have enough credits transferred into your account that you won’t have to resort to poker for a little while at least.” He pulled my hand to his lips and kissed the back of it to the tune of Manning’s rapid-fired, multi-lingual cursing in my ear. My lips twitched, but I’m no amateur. I made it look like I was about to cry.

“You would do that for me?”

“Of course I would, darlin’. I wouldn’t leave you destitute, now would I? But,” he grabbed up my hand again and began to stroke the backs of my fingers as though he were stroking something farther south, “I would expect a little … reward, if you know what I mean.”

I offered my best pout. “And what about me? What’s my reward? How do I know you can trust me, I mean you just stiffed your partner for a whole shipment of New Hibernian. I ran my teeth over my pouty lip and shook my head. “No, I think I’d better go face the music. I lost. I need to quit while I still at least have a job.”

“I’ll throw in the whiskey.” And there it was, what I’d been waiting for.

“A whole load?” I settled back into my chair, and his gaze followed my tits as I did.

“Look, I’ll be honest with you. I’ve got room in my freighter for a full load of triax from a stingray class, but not with the whiskey, which I haven’t sold on just yet. I was holding out to trade with some New Sumerians just in from the Far Outer. They’ll pay a fortune for it.

I leaned forward my biggest smile leading the way, then I looked around to make sure no one was listening. “How’d you like a new partner?”

“What did you have in mind,” he said stroking my arm and all but drooling in my cleavage.

“Well,” I wriggled in my seat. “My crew are losers. I can’t count the number of times they’ve cheated me out of my fair share, and they never listen to me. I could have made us a fortune in the Outer Rim several times over if they’d only just taken my advice, followed up on my research, but no. I’m just the pilot. I’m not the captain, who is an idiot, by the way,” I said with a wave of my hand.

“Watch it,” Manning chuckled into my implant.

“It’ll take them a week, maybe more to get the equipment together, and then there are the permits. They’re actually going to get permits, can you believe it?” His eyes were getting bigger and brighter by the moment. “Our cargo bay is empty, plenty of room for a load of whiskey, and I’m the pilot, I can drop the shields and we can mol-tran the whiskey right on over. You did say you had mol-tran, didn’t you?” I didn’t wait for his reply. “Then you’ll have room for all that triax. If we leave now, we can mol-tran the triax, sell it on, and be back in time for Carnival in the Riviera. We can just let my soft-headed crew have the whiskey, that’s nothing, that’s chump change compared to the triax. What do you say?” I reached into my handbag and pulled out a couple of decent sized nuggets of ore that Manning had onboard the Fury. “I couldn’t resist taking these little babies just for luck, you know?” I ran my palm over his chest and all but purred. “I’d certainly say my luck has just changed.”

“Both our luck, partner,” he said squeezing my hand. By this time I’d learned to totally ignore Manning’s ongoing derogatory monologue. “All I need are the coordinates, Layla,” Blake said. I’d told him my name was Layla Bridges. It was actually the name of a series of obscure bridges my father had taken me to visit in a remote region of the Plitak System. They were ancient, built of stone spanning countless, rivers and waterfalls. It was the last trip I’d made with my father before he was bonded to the Merlin.

“Here we go, I’ve just lowered the shields so you can mol-tran the whiskey. Oh heavens, I’m so excited.” I gave him Fury’s coordinates.

“I’m ‘tranning them over now,” he said.

“Hold it.” I brushed my cleavage against his arm and settled close enough to see his device while he set up the ‘tran lock. “What’s that?”

He zoomed in. “Polyphemian musk oil. Huge shipment,” he said. “I traded a Digan for it. Practically stole it. Poor bastard didn’t know what he had, since Digan’s have no sense of smell, they’re not susceptible.”

But everyone else was very susceptible, and I knew it. Polyphemian musk oil was one of the most expensive, most coveted aphrodisiacs in the galaxy. “Well, you’d better do something with it because you’ll need all that space for the triax, trust me you will, and even then I’m not sure you can get it all on board.”

The greedy bastard expanded the lock and this time Manning’s curses sounded more like a prayer of surprised thanksgiving. Blake and I watched as both the whiskey and the musk oil disappeared from his cargo bay. I passed the coordinates for the non-existent triaxium to his device just as Fury confirmed that our cargo hold was indeed very full.

“Partners!” I gave a drunken little squeal and launched myself at Blake in a busty hug that he returned with gusto. Then I toddled unsteadily off to the ladies room to freshen up, I told him. I knew exactly what would happen next.

I had a much-needed pee after drinking enough ginger beer to float a battle cruiser. Then I took my time freshening up and toying with my hair until Manning spoke into my implant.

“You, my darling, have just been stood up. Blake will be halfway across the Ingrid Expanse before you have your nose powdered.”

If there’s one thing a Polyphemian craved more than sex, it was the opportunity to scam a deal. The deal I just pulled off made me wonder if there might be a tad bit of Polyphemian floating around in my own genetic soup somewhere.

“The musk oil alone is worth three times what the whiskey is,” Manning whispered in my ear. “Bloody hell, you were born to this business, woman! Tonight we celebrate.”

I pumped my fist in the air with a victory salute, and gave the holo-mirror a shit-eating grin while giving myself one last inspection before returning to Manning. My mind was completely focused on the celebration aboard the Fury that might possibly involve more of Manning’s lips when I walked out the door and ran smack dab into Gerando Fallon.

He was drunk, like he always was. The eldest son and a blight on the family name, his father always said. But as far as I was concerned the whole goddamned family was a blight on the galaxy. Gerando was the one who had dragged me into the Faribaldi among other unpleasant things. Before panic could override surprise, survival instincts that had kept me alive all these years, kicked in. With my head down, I mumbled an apology in High Digan and spoke in the mincing little girl voice Digan women used when they interacted in public. But he grabbed me anyway.

“Hey sweet tits,” he pulled me up close into the stomach knotting scent of whiskey, sweat and testosterone. I tried to breathe through my mouth. I knew his scent way too well not to know that before the night was over some woman would end up in a bad way, and it sure as fuck wasn’t going to be me, not this time. He gave my butt a groping squeeze, and I pushed back. “You go running into a man dressed like that and you’re liable to get you pert little ass fucked.” He slapped my butt, and turned away. I thought he’d let me by, I thought he was heading for the pisser.

The wave of nausea passed into an instant of relief so overpowering that I could do nothing but gasp. He didn’t recognize me. The fucker didn’t recognize me. I kept my head low and had damn near made my escape, when, he grabbed my arm in a bruising grip and jerked me back with an evil growl.

“Seriously! Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you, McAllister? Did you really think you were going to get away with it?” He gripped my chin in his hand in a vicious squeeze and lifted my head so I had no choice but to meet his gaze. “Just look at you, all healthy and smooth-skinned, half naked and begging for it. It’d be ashamed for me not to take advantage before the old man gives you a nice hefty dose of the plague.” He jerked me in until we were nose to nose, and the alcohol of his breath nearly made me gag.

“How the hell did a skanky little indentured come up with the money to get her shackle neutralized, that’s what I wanna know. Though I imagine that bleeding heart Harker had a hand in it. Don’t tell me this Manning bastard decided to free you to keep his cock warm. He could have saved himself a whole lot of credits by just buying himself a Hanorian whore. I hear lots of lonely smugglers keep one or two onboard for scratching the itch. Still, neutralizing your shackle cost him less than its costing my old man to hunt you down, so there must be something about your worthless ass that makes men putty in your hands. How ‘bout you show me just exactly what it is.” He gave me a teeth-rattling shake and pulled me up on my toes until I was pressed against his sweaty stink.

I’m not sure if it was rage or terror that won out, but adrenaline shot through me like a rush of Digan fire dust. I stomped down hard against the inside of his shin. My balance was off just enough for it to be only a glancing blow, but it was enough for me to break and run, with him cursing loudly right on my tail. I barely made it to the back door before he was on me, pulling me back by the hair. “You little bitch, the old man should have infected you properly when he had the chance.” He reeled me in close and spoke next to my ear. “The old man’s birthday’s coming up. I haven’t got him a gift yet. You’ll do nicely, and I’m sure he won’t mind if I test drive you first.”

“Get off her, Fallon. He will mind and you know it, now get off her.”

I squirmed in his arms to see Leo Rab, from the Dubrovnik, striding toward Fallon like he was being chased by Valkyries.

Before I could speak, Fallon grabbed me around the throat and hauled me up on my toes with me gasping and choking for breath.

“Fuck you, Rab. The ole man isn’t here, and this whore is.” As he reached for his fly, I brought the crown of my head up hard under his chin, jarring his whole head back. He cursed profusely and stumbled back right into Rab, just as Manning shoved his way around the two, slid his arms around me and pulled me close.

“Get us out,” Manning spoke softly and as calmly as if he were just telling me the latest gossip. “Hold tight.” And before I could utter more than a shocked little yelp, Fallon’s surprised face bloomed bright then went thin and faded, then for a split second the world blinked out of existence.

“She got away. She fucking got away! He’s gonna kill me.” The kid kicked over a table, upsetting the poker game going on and sending the punters scrambling before he started on them, then he picked up one of the cheap-assed chairs and threw it through the cheap-assed wall. “I’m gonna rip that rat bastard, Manning’s, throat out! I’m gonna fry his brains out with a mol-gun and leave him to drool and shit himself.”

“All right! All right, goddamnit!” Rab gasped, all but dragging the boy out into the alley to cool down before he wrecked anything else in the Corsair in a blind rage. Fucking good thing his old man was loaded. Hadn’t taken him long to do some serious damage. Shit, the kid was scary in his rage. “He had her in a mol-tran lock, Junior. There was nothing we could do. Bloody hell, I’ve never seen anything that accurate.”

“Come on.” The kid jerked away. “Let’s go find Blake and beat the truth out of him. He’ll know where they’re at. Surely he’ll know.”

Rab grabbed him and swung him around. “How the hell will he know where they’re at? Weren’t you paying attention? Think, ya little twit. Blake doesn’t fucking know McAllister or he sure as hell wouldn’t have been playing cards with her. He doesn’t know anything about why we want Manning and the Fury. Hell he thinks Manning is shackled and on his way to hard labor in the triax mines. Whatever the hell McAllister told him, you can bet it wasn’t the truth. We took a gamble that she would even be here.”

Junior let fly a string of curses that would have curled Rab’s hair – if he had any. Before Rab could respond, the kid drove his fist into the wall with so much force that knuckles cracked, and the smell of blood added to the stink of piss and puke in the alley. His shoulders slumped and he looked down at his mangled hand like it was a total surprise to him. He didn’t resemble his father much at all just then, Rab thought.

“He’s going to kill me.” He said softly, and he began to shiver like they were on Arctica Major instead of balmy Outer Kingston. “He’s going to kill me.”

“Hey! Hey, calm down. Let’s get that hand looked at.” Jesus, he couldn’t believe he was being buddy-buddy with the little shit, but his old man had really done a number on him. “You’re the bearer of the family jewels, remember. He ain’t gonna kill you.” Frankly it was what might happen that didn’t involve death that worried Rab a whole lot more, though he kept his worries to himself. He wouldn’t put anything past Fallon senior. Having the pleasure of seeing the interaction between the two just during his time onboard the Ares, he had to say, he understood exactly why the kid was such a fucked up mess.

 

Piloting Fury Part 24: Brand New KDG Read

Happy New Year everyone!  2020 has been a rough year for everyone. Wishing you all light love and laughter. We’ll make it through this together and see the sun again.

While Mac and Manning may not be celebrating the New Year at the moment, they are definitely plotting and planning. Mr. Grace and I are celebrating a lockdown New Year as everyone is in the UK right now, keeping in touch with our friends and family on social media, which is more important for all of us in our isolated lives right now. And, as you might guess, there’s a whole lot of escapist reading going on, which brings us to another episode of Piloting Fury.

As we enter the 23nd week of Fury, I hope you’re enjoying the rollicking read. If so, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Today, Mac pulls off a little con to get back what was stolen. Happy reading, and stay safe out there!

 

 

“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 Part 24: The Con

From low orbit, we Mol-tranned into the alley behind the Corsair and left Fury in charge of getting us back safe and sound. When we ‘tranned, Manning pulled me close like he was afraid he’d lose me. As we rematerialized he stepped back and gave me one last head to toe, then gave me a wicked smile. “If I didn’t know what’s about to happen to the poor bastard, I damn near envy Blake spending the evening with you, and so will everyone else.” He touched my neck where the insert was. “The owner of the Corsair owes me a favor, so I got her to drop the shields that prevent Mol-tranning. Fury has a permanent lock on both of us, and you’ll be out of there in a heartbeat if anything looks even slightly suspicious.”

I nodded and turned to leave, but he pulled me back. “I’m serious, Mac. Nothing we’ve lost is worth losing you over, do you understand?”

I nodded again, already in the zone, knowing what I was about to do was something Manning couldn’t manage without me, and I really wanted to do it for the team I now felt a part of, in spite of the shackle in my forearm.

He took me by my shoulders and gave me a gentle shake, as he might have done to wake me up. “Don’t take any unnecessary risks, all right? You belong to me now, me and Fury. Trust us to take care of you, to keep you safe.”

If that wasn’t enough to make me feel warm and fuzzy clear down to my toes, the bastard took my face in his hands and kissed me. He kissed me like no one had ever kissed me. Oh it was just a quick dart in and back out again, but he left me with no doubt where I belonged. Jesus! He left me with no doubt that I actually didbelong, and possibly for more than what I could contribute to Manning’s own Atlas account.

He checked the layer of Dermanew disguising my shackle and ID number one last time. Then he stepped back. “Go. Stella has a table reserved for you in the corner so you won’t draw too much attention. In fact, I paid her well to be sure it’s only Blake’s attention you draw. I’ll be lurking.” He pulled the hood of the New Vaticana monk’s robe he was wearing up over his head and gave my hand one last squeeze. “Good luck.”

Inside a woman with bright yellow hair piled high on top of her head led me to a table near the back without a word spoken. I wondered if she was Stella. I ordered a drink then pulled out the deck of cards and began a game of solitaire keeping one eye on the main entrance. Manning walked in and, at the sight of a monk, one of the Corsair’s good time girls bowed before him and brought his hand to her lips. He laid a palm on her head and offered her the iglacial symbol for the forgiveness of sins. I wondered how he’d learned to be so priestly. Adjusting his hood, he found a place at the bar, and his gaze moved slowly around the room until it settled briefly on me with a barley perceptible nod. Then he gave a casual glance toward the open door, now completely in the shadow of a mountain of a man. The yellow-haired woman greeted him with an affectionate slap on the back then guided him to a table that was so close it was almost in my lap.

While Banshee Blake was only slightly smaller than Fury’s shuttle, he was most definitely not a fat bastard – well perhaps he was a bastard, a good number of the folks who hung out in places like the Corsair were, but he wasn’t fat. He was just huge. Manning was tall, but this man towered over him by a good half-meter. The heavy brow ridge, the blazing eyes and the way he wore his hair in a top knot told me that at least one of his parents was Polyphemian. They were the giants of the known galaxy. Their size, plus the blazing eyes and luxurious hair were always a dead giveaway. No one with Polyphemian blood in the family tree could hide their ancestry. They were supposedly well endowed in all areas of their anatomy and were considered exquisite lovers. None of this information Manning had bothered to impart. I suspected his little possessive speech about me belonging to him and Fury may have been his warning not to let the guy seduce me. As if that would happen when there were credits to be won and a score to be settled. Manning, more than anyone, should know that by now.

The Ployphemian made no effort to hide his blatant ogling of me as I made an elaborate display of dealing the cards and setting them up for another game of solitaire. I pretended not to notice, pretended to be fully focused on my game as he called the waitress over. I could tell by the nod of his head he was ordering me another drink as well. I was dinking Hebridian ginger beer, but he certainly didn’t know that, and I was counting on him thinking I was drunk enough that, not only would he win, but he’d get a good fuck out of the deal as well.

“Thank you.” When the drinks came, I lifted mine in a salute. As I expected, he took that as an invitation to join me. “I was hoping for someone to play with,” I nodded to the cards but made sure he got the double entendre.

“I’d be happy to play with you, darlin’.” Gone was the flugelhorn bellow of our earlier encounter, replaced by what could only be called a bedroom voice, but that was also a Polyphemian trait. The voice they used with the opposite sex was as seductive as the voice they used with the rest of the world was annoying.

“Do you play Stygian five card?” I asked batting my lashes.

“Honey, I play whatever you want me to play.” He laid a hand on my thigh. In my implant, Manning said some rather rude things about the man’s parentage, and Blake just assumed my chuckled response was me flirting with him. I shoved the deck across to him, and said, “what shall we bet?”

By the third hand I had him empathetic, telling him the bits of truth I’d always told my marks, that I was a low paid pilot trying to make a little extra with a little gambling on the side. From that point on the details varied with the mark. This time I was working for a salvage ship, and business had been bad recently. When it was bad, I supplemented my income however I could, I told him. I left just exactly how I did that to Blake’s imagination and offered him a hint of a smile as he shifted in his seat to make his enthusiasm for helping a girl out a little more comfortable in his trousers. He was feeling generous from the deal he’d just made, he told me.

“I fucking bet he is,” Manning growled into my implant.

Blake lost magnanimously and graciously the next three hands while I proceeded to pump him for details about this great deal he’d made, and the asshole didn’t even try to hide the fact that he’d cheated Manning out of paying him. I knew that about Polyphemians as well. They were always pleased to get something for nothing, and their views on ownership were more about possession than the exchange of legal tender. With a few cleavage swelling gasps and sighs and an enthusiastic stroke of the tree trunk thigh now pressed against mine, I made my admiration for what he’d pulled off clear. Then I leaned in close and told him that the salvage ship I was on had just discovered the mother load of triaxium ore in a wrecked Aranian stingray class freighter. It had been lost ten years ago out near the Katis quasar, not far from here. But my crew had to mark it and leave it because they didn’t have the right equipment, and being an Authority sanctioned ship, they didn’t have mol-tran. So if he were willing to play for my share, I was willing to bet something worthy of such a Polyphemian deal. You could almost see the credit calculations whizzing through his mind. The obvious was that the New Hibernian whiskey was small change compared to a triax treasure trove.

By that time, I was making sure he got generous views down Fury’s exquisitely designed bodice and I was showing the first signs of having just a bit too much to drink. But while my inebriation was faked, his was not. A helpful piece of information Manning had given me was that Blake couldn’t hold his alcohol, but he loved Krinelian brandy, nonetheless. A little dealing under the table by Manning had Stella making sure the alcohol content in Blake’s brandy went up the closer I got to what I wanted. And celebrating his steal of a deal, as he was, fully expecting to take me back to his room for further celebrations, he kept the drinks coming. Now that there was a chance to sweeten the deal beyond his wildest dreams, he had even more reason to celebrate. I was very careful to lose the next two games spectacularly, gambling away all of my share of the triaxium salvage.

 

Piloting Fury Part 23: Brand New KDG Read

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! And here’s another episode of Fury to help you celebrate.  While Mac and Manning may not be celebrating Christmas at the moment, they are definitely plotting and planning. Mr. Grace and I are celebrating a lockdown Christmas as everyone is in the UK right now, keeping in touch with our friends and family on social media, which is more important for all of us in our isolated lives right now.  Hope you’re all doing the same, staying safe and finding different ways to celebrate in these Covid times.

I’m not taking much of a break. I’m still writing and planning away on the expanding Medusa’s Consortium series. Still working on the timelines of the last two novels. I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 23nd week. If you are, please spread the word and pass the link to a friend. I love to share my stories with as many people as possible. I’m offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Today, Mac, Manning and Fury are caught in a dangerous place. Happy reading, and stay safe out there!

 

 

“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 Part 23: Looking the Part

“Damn, Fury, have you been looking at Manning’s porn stash?” I asked as I turned in front of the holo-mirror to get the over-all effect of the clinging off the shoulder dress. The fabric had a prism effect as I moved in the light. It showed off my legs and hugged my curves as only bespoke clothing could.

“Richard Manning does not have a porn stash,” came a reply I could have sworn was just a wee bit huffy. “I have only complied with your request that the costume be appealing to Banshee Blake and show off your anatomy in a way that would attract one of the opposite sex.”

A deep, drawn out wolf-whistle came from the open door of my cabin, and I turned to find Manning leaning up against the wall looking me up and down. “If I were Blake, I’d sure as hell want to play with you.”

“Playing with you is what got me into trouble in the first place,” I said to his reflection in the mirror. “And I don’t believe for one minute that you don’t have a porn stash. Shameful really, getting Fury to lie for you.”

“In the first place, Fury doesn’t lie, and in the second,” he said coming into the room and walking around me for the full 360 inspection, “how can you possibly call all the fun and adventure we’ve had so far trouble? I’m wounded to the core.”

I flipped him the finger. Sometimes the ancient gestures were still the best. He only chuckled. “And another thing, Manning, knocking is the polite thing to do before entering someone else’s quarters.”

“The door was open,” he said.

He was right. It was. I’d returned to my room only planning to insert the subdural tracking device into my neck like Manning had instructed. I hadn’t expected Fury to have the dress ready so quickly. I’d slipped into it in the bathroom and came out to see the full effect in front of the holo-mirror.

“And the implant?” Manning ask, all humor gone from his voice

I looked down at the device I still held. “Haven’t quite gotten there yet.”

He stepped up close and personal and took it from me. His warm knuckles brushed
my earlobe as he raked my hair aside. “I’ve discovered that if you’re right-handed, the images you project will be clearer and more stable if the implant is on the left, just next to your carotid. There’s a sweet spot,” he ran his fingertips lightly down the side of my throat, and my pulse jumped, a response to which he flashed a knowing smile. “Right there,” he pressed gently. “Less interference from the pulse, which can make the image jumpy under stress.” In a move that I could have damn near mistaken for foreplay, Manning eased the device into position and, with a slight sharp sting, inserted it. My breath caught, and so did his. The smirk that turned into a wicked smile said he knew exactly what I was feeling. The smug bastard. “There,” he purred. “Exactly there.”

For a moment, we stood eye to eye, and everything in me went warm and soft, like the afterglow I felt when I’d pilot a good ship through a rough patch, only more so. But warm and soft was not what I needed right now. I was just about to step back when Manning said, “you’ll have to wear this up so my view won’t be obscured.” He reached around me and stroked the length of my hair. I’d defiantly grown it out after I joined the Dubrovnik crew. Fallon kept me closely shorn because when I was young and underfed, as he preferred me, there were times when he used me as a boy. Though my near bald head might have aided his sick fantasies, it also meant one less thing for him to grab onto and one less way for him to hurt me.

But Manning, Jesus, Manning’s hands tangled in my hair made me want to move closer and snuggle down against his chest while he caressed and touched, while he curled tresses around his fingers and lifted them away from my neck. Fuck, I actually embarrassed myself by moaning, as he scooped the weight of it off my nape and the heat of his breath bathed my bare throat and shoulder.

“Fury,” his voice was barely more than a whisper, “can you replicate a couple of Terran combs to hold Mac’s hair up?”

“I don’t know how to put …” I lost my train of thought as he walked me backward, his body all but flush with mine. He reached around me to where two beautifully formed mother of pearl combs appeared almost instantaneously on the shelf near the mirror.

“Don’t worry, Mac. I got this.”

I found the breath to speak as he caressed and arranged my locks. “You’ve done this before?”

“No, but I’ve taken them out,” he said with a filthy grin.

“Of course, you have. I should have known.”

He must have felt the stiffening of my spine at his words, his smile softened and his gaze held. “I’m kidding, Mac. I’m as clueless as you are, but I’m sure between the three of us, we can figure it out.”

And then we were all talking at once as Manning pulled and tugged and arranged while Furry advised, and I joked about having never had anyone do my hair before. It wasn’t one of the perks of being an indentured.

“Perhaps I shall become a chef on the Riviera and Richard Manning shall open an exclusive hair salon there,” Fury said.

“And Mac here will play poker with our customers and win all their money,” Manning added.

When we were finished, both humanoid and ship made satisfied oohs and awes at the end result, just like I could easily imagine an exclusive hairdresser doing. “Now then, let’s check the connection.” Manning pulled a small black case from his pocket. Inside was the single contact lens that was his visual connection to my implant.
There was also a micro device beneath the skin just below his right ear so he could hear. He blinked a couple of times as he settled the lens into place and then gave a slight nod of his head. “Say something Mac.”

I offered him my best smile and spoke in the voice I usually used with my marks. “I still say you have a porn stash.”

His lips quirked in a smile that had mischief written all over it. “Care to bet on that?”

“Not really. You’d just cheat anyway, and with you and Fury tag-teaming, what chance does a poor girl have.”

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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