Tag Archives: Scifi romance

Piloting Fury Part 3: KDG Scifi Romance

Good morning, my lovelies. Time for another cheeky Monday Read.  Time for another episode of  Piloting Fury.  As I said, Fury is a little different from what you’ve come to expect from KDG. I’m revisiting this serial novel for multiple reasons, but mostly because I love Fury, and I hope you do too.

Last  week Mac learned the terms of the bet are not at all what she expected. This week something sinister is underway, and it has to do with Mac’s disappearance.

Catch up here if you missed last week’s episode of Piloting Fury.

 

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” 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 3: 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 was no 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 Gerando fucking Fallon here. He wouldn’t even be here in the first place if he hadn’t been doing the job that ass wipe was supposed to be doing, and that because he happened to be in the wrong damn place at the wrong damn time. He happened to choose the goddamned Nine Tails for his first shore leave hooch stop instead of any of a dozen other disreputable dumps on NH372. He was barely in the door before Fallen was eyeballing him. Then, the little snot gob had the balls to grab him by the shoulder and ordered him — fucking ordered him! To keep an eye on Diana McAllister while the bastard went off to fuck some poor unsuspecting whore. Before Rab could mumble yeah or ne, Fallon had escorted a dark-haired chick, big blue eyes and nice tits out of the bar. She was smiling and flirting, doing her job. Rab couldn’t help notice that she looked a helluva lot like Diana McAllister. He felt for the chick. She would more than earn her money — if Fallon paid her at all. Whether or not she’d ever be able to work again once the little shit was done with her, well the odds were definitely not in her favor.

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Piloting Fury Part 2: KDG Scifi Romance

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to my readers in the UK! I hope you’re getting some sunshine and can get out to enjoy the Spring blossoms.

As I mentioned last Monday, with the completion of Mr. Sands, I would not  leave you bereft of those cheeky little Monday reads. Piloting Fury is a little different from what you’ve come to expect from KDG. I’m revisiting this serial novel for multiple reasons, but mostly because I love Fury, and I hope you do too.

Last week Rick Manning offers Diana ‘Mac’ McAllister a bet she can’t possibly lose. This week she learns the terms of the bet are not at all what she expected. Enjoy!

Catch up here if you missed last week’s episode of Piloting Fury.

 

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” 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 2: I Got this, Mac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piloting Fury: A KDG Scifi Romance

With the completion of Mr. Sands, I promise not to leave you bereft of those cheeky little Monday reads. This time the serial I’m sharing with you is novel length, and a little different from what you’ve come to expect from KDG. I’m revisiting Piloting Fury for multiple reasons, but mostly because I love it, and I hope you do too.

Enjoy the first half of the first chapter, and if you’re very good (or if I’m very good ) I’ll have the rest of the chapter up next week. From there, we’ll see where Fury leads us.

 

 

Piloting Fury

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer — Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered indentured pilot, Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her life she’s dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. She figured wrong. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out Fury is way more than a cargo ship. Fury is a ship with a history – a dangerous history, and one that Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer than she thinks. And Rick Manning is not above cheating at poker to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Chapter 1: The Bet

“Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” Rick Manning was more than a little bit drunk. He had to be to make that sort of bet with me. Everyone knows you don’t gamble with Diana Mac unless you want to lose. I never lost – ever! What gambling I managed in spaceports was my sole income, and I horded it all obsessively. Every credit of it went toward paying off the contract of my indenture. Nope! I never lost because I couldn’t afford to. And yet here I stood on the small but efficient deck of the Fury, reporting to Rick Scumbag Manning, and the prick was nowhere to be found. “Probably sleeping it off in some whore’s bed,” I growled under my breath.

“You cheated, you bastard,” I said out loud. Even if he heard me, what the hell was he gonna do, dock my wages, throw me in the brig? “I know you cheated, I just don’t know how you did it,” I said to the console which, in spite of my anger at Manning, already had me intrigued. I confess, vivid visions of strangling Rick Manning with a New Hibernian cryo-whip couldn’t hold my imagination quite like the console of a good ship – even one I was now indentured to for who the hell knew how many galactic years. I’m serious when I say I’m the best pilot in the galaxy. It’s not bragging if it’s true. I’ve never met the ship I couldn’t fly. Not that I got that many opportunities indentured to the Dubrovnik, but Captain Harker had raked in the credits more than once by betting on me in an impromptu race of some sort. Of course the ship was never my own, and that made the bet even more interesting. No one ever saw it coming.

In spite of my crap situation, I couldn’t help admiring the clean lines and the efficient arrangement of the Fury’s controls. While the ship might look like a rusty tub on the outside, Manning had known to put his money where it mattered. I was already jonesing to see what the ship could do, and the truth was that the Fury was one helluva ship despite the rusty tub appearance. I doubted if Manning even knew what the original make was. If the entire ship wasn’t glued together with spit and high tensile repair tape, I’d be surprised. But leave it to Manning to win, steal, smuggle and finagled some of the best, state of the art components in the galaxy. I only knew that because he and I got drunk together on Diga Prime waiting out a lava storm one night in a bar. The man was as proud of his ship as he was his cock and, while I’d made it a point not to check out the latter, I’d wanted to check out the Fury for a long time. Just not like this.

I flopped down in the pilot’s seat, which strangely enough felt as though it molded to fit my butt. I knew for a fact that Manning’s ass needed a little more space than mine, and so did his broad shoulders. I’d admired those shoulders and that ass in more than a few spaceports where we’d pitched up together. At this moment, though, I loathed the whole damn package with a loathing hotter than the fiery pits of Diga Vulcanus. I envisioned kicking that very fine ass out the airlock somewhere in the Outer Rim. But thanks to the mess the cheating rat bastard had gotten me into, I couldn’t even do that.

It had been such a sure thing. I was sitting pretty, wasn’t I? The newly healed incision on my forearm itched like crazy, and while it was already all but invisible, it guaranteed I was as bound to the Fury as if Manning had roped me and tied me to the pilot’s chair. I should have known. I should have suspected something, but I was too busy patting myself on the back for my good fortune, too greedy for more.

I should have suspected something when Manning lost a small fortune to me in game after game of Sandirian poker. At the time, the man wasn’t yet too drunk to make intelligent decisions, and I knew for a fact he wasn’t a gambling addict. I’d heard about addicts who had gambled away far larger fortunes than the one Manning had dropped, which was just enough to buy back my indenture with a nice little nest egg to tide me over until I could find other work. Nope, Manning was a lightweight when it came to gambling losses. A minor satrap was legendary for gambling away a whole planetoid out at the edge of the Orion Nebula. I just figured it was a cock thing with Manning. I recognized the signs. The dress I wore had worked its magic just like it always did with lonely, horny punters in spaceport hoping to get laid. Men or women – it didn’t really matter. If they gave me that look and offered to buy me a drink, I knew I had them. They all just assumed because I was sitting alone, shuffling a deck of cards, I was as lonely and as in need of entertainment as they were.

And then there was Rick Manning. He’d been doing his best for the past several galactic years to get me in bed. By now it had become a game between us. He flirted, and I let it roll right on over me. I liked the banter. I liked the fact that we had intelligent, often witty conversations, as well as a lot of laughs in between his flirtatious, but harmless, advances. It was what we did, the two of us. So why should I think anything was particularly different about last night? Yes, he showed up at my table before I could reel in some sucker willing to lose his shirt. And yes, when I tried to shoo him away, he offered to play a few hands with me as a warm-up – he said, and then he’d leave me to find another victim. It was a win-win. I could skin Manning of a few credits before he decided to give it up, and then get serious with someone who didn’t know me.

But he didn’t give it up. He just kept losing, and betting and losing again. Fuck me if the man didn’t lose everything he had, all of his life savings, right down to the last credit. I know this because the Notary kept asking if he was sure and reminding him that all notarized bets were legally binding. Still all he could do was chuckle.

“It’s your hair, Mac,” he said as he motioned over the notary yet again to transfer more credits to the indentured sub-account Captain Harker had set up for me. “When you wear that dress and let your hair down like that, of course a man’s gonna lose. And you, you little minx, that’s what you’re counting on, isn’t it?”

“I need the credits, Manning.” I leaned across the table and rubbed my fingers together under his nose in a gimme gesture. “Indentured here, remember? But if it’ll help,” I grabbed up the band that had secured the battered deck of cards and pulled my hair back in it. “The dress I can’t do anything about. The butler hasn’t brought my holiday wardrobe down from the Dubrovnik yet,” I joked.

“Helluva place to go on holiday,” he said, glancing around the Nine Tails. Then he leaned over the table and offered a smile that would have shamed the Suns of Valoxia. “Tell you what, one more hand and I’ll bet my jacket.” If you win, you can cover up a little bit and maybe give me an even chance. And if you lose,” he looked me up and down.

“I won’t,” I replied shoving the deck of cards across the table to him.

He took them and began to shuffle, his eyes locked on mine. “If you lose, then I get your clothes. All of them.”

“It’s just as well I’m gonna win then because you wouldn’t look good in this dress. Teal’s just not your color.”

He only chuckled as he dealt the cards.

In no time at all I was bundled up in a vintage flight jacket that Manning swore up and down was a real Terran relic he’d won in a poker game he’d apparently done much better in than he was doing in this one. He slugged back another New Hibernian whiskey and the barmaid, who bent so he got a good view down her bustier, brought him another one. I laid down enough credits to pay for my drinks and stood. “Gotta go, Manning. You’ve got nothing left I can win off of you, and I sure as hell don’t want the clothes off your back.”

“Not so fast, Mac.” His words weren’t exactly slurred, but getting pretty close. He blocked my exit with an extended leg, nodded back to my chair, and with a shrug of his shoulder sent the barmaid scurrying for another whiskey for me. “You can’t leave till I’ve had a chance to win back all my shit.”

“I can, and I will,” I said, stepping over his leg, but even half drunk, Manning was fast. He lifted his thigh, effectively high-centering me and ending me up in his lap. He curled thick fingers around a my makeshift pony tale and reeled me in. I remember thinking it strange that he smelled more like a man who’d been enjoying the great outdoors in the Parks of the Beledine than someone three sheets to the wind on cheap-assed whiskey. I even remember not minding his flirtations at the time, but then why would I when I was a free woman at last, one with a very nice jacket, even if it was considerably too big.

“I do have something I can bet.” His breath was warm against my ear, and I felt the buzz of my own generous alcohol consumption that made me think I just might take him up on what I figured he was about to offer me. It would be a nice addition to the drunken celebration of my freedom. After all, an indentured didn’t have a lot of free time for sex. When I did have the time, I was trying to win a few more credits toward my freedom.

“Oh that,” I nodded down to his lap and gave a little laugh. “I figure I can have that without wagering for it.”

The chuckle he returned sounded positively animal, and his lips quirked into a crooked smile. “While I can think of nothing I would enjoy more than a good shag in the sheets with you, Mac, that wouldn’t win me back my shit now would it?”

I was about to say that since he had nothing to offer I saw no point. I was about to walk out the door of the bar free and clear, go straight to Captain Harker, pay off the contract of my indenture and see what it felt like to sleep and wake up as a free woman. That’s what I should have done, in retrospect. But then Manning dropped the bomb.

“One more hand, Mac. Just one. Win the bet and Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.”

Fuck me! If he hadn’t been holding me, I would have fallen right onto the floor. Now I’m not a woman who’s often speechless, though as an indentured, I know when to keep my mouth shut. But this time, all I could do was make a couple of fish gasps. He gave me that look I was sure had gotten more than a few women into his bed. It had probably worked just as well getting him out of trouble with the authorities when his cargo was less than copasetic.

“What do you say, Mac? You up for it? I’m betting the Fury along with the next three contracts I have to fill.” He shrugged. “If I don’t have a ship, I can’t fill the contracts, right? Come on. Give me at least one more chance.”

“Your ship? You want to bet the Fury?” I stumbled off his lap all but falling on my ass before I made it back to my chair. He was already motioning the notary over.

Piloting Fury Part 15: Brand New KDG Read

It’s Friday and that means time for more Fury. A cheerful hello, while I eat my morning porridge. I hope you’re all settling into Autumn with lovely walks in the glorious changing colours and much good reading. Isn’t that just the best part of this changeable season?

I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury as we enter the 15th 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. In this episode, Captain Harker recalls how Diana McAllister ended up the pilot of the Dubrovnik.

 

 

 

“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.

 

Harker Remembers

He disposed of the trifle and moved to look out the portal into the blackness of space. He’d always found comfort in it. It had always felt like home to him. That humanoids had extended their consciousness out into the far reaches of its inhospitable darkness had always given him hope, made him feel proud. At least until recently. Be safe little girl, he spoke the words in his head, the only place it was safe to speak them. Diana Mac had always seemed like a little girl to him from the instant he first saw her, a young woman in a scrawny, undernourished body, frail enough that he feared a breeze might blow her away. And in spite of her condition, it had been her raw, uncompromising strength of will, courage to endure, that had astounded him. Her dark hair had been shorn so close to her head that, in her malnourished state, she could have passed for a boy. And even after she had put some meat on her bones and her hair had grown thick and glossy, those large blue eyes, her father’s eyes, dominated the landscape of a beautiful face that belied the horrors, the ugliness she had endured. Little girl … even after she had grown strong and healthy in her new life, the name had stuck.

Only he called her little girl. Nicknames were a captain’s privilege. The rest of the crew called her Pilot because they didn’t know what else to call the indentured woman who could pilot anything, find any route, guide them through meteor storms and asteroid fields like they were floating on a sea of glass. They didn’t know what else to call a woman whose father had been either a notorious villain or a tragic hero, and none knew for sure which. They didn’t know what else to call someone with no formal training, with such vibrant talent, who bore the shackle and the scars of the mistreatment of her owner, their employer.

It seemed like an eternity ago now that he had taken the gamble that her piloting skills were what he’d hoped they would be. While Fallon was inspecting the Dubrovnik, Harker had made his wager. He bet that Diana McAllister could find a new route, a faster route from Terra Nova Prime to the Asteroid Provinces of the mining colonies in the time it took Fallon to inspect the rest of the conglomerate freighters and enjoy the party in the captain’s dining room. Though he had stacked the decks slightly in her favor. He had known that her father was searching for just such a route, a route that would revolutionize trade, and in their last communication, he said he thought he’d found it. He was counting on the fact that he had told his daughter. He left her in the chart rooms with free access to the replicator, figuring she could use all the nourishment she could get. If she succeeded, she was to stay onboard the Dubrovnik as its pilot, and she was to systematically revamp the Bright Star trade routes through the Authority systems and beyond into the free trade zones.

He could have cried for joy when she did it, when he won — if not her freedom, at least access to a better life for her. He had plans of giving her the pilot’s quarters, paying her for her efforts, making her as comfortable as he possibly could, in some way compensating for what had been stolen from her. But alas, even onboard the Dubrovnik, she came with strict orders from Fallon concerning treatment and accommodation, and Harker was left with limited abilities to make her life better.

McAllister had made the Dubrovnik the most profitable ship in the Bright Star conglomerate’s fleet, in any fleet. Then she had literally revamped all the Bright Star trade route to faster, more efficient ones, making Fallon and Bright Star still more money. Whatever had caused profitability to become second priority to bringing Diana McAllister back to Terra Nova Prime, Harker didn’t know. He only knew that she wasn’t there yet, and that was cause for hope.

Piloting Fury Part 12: 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

As we enter the 11th 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 Rab does a little detective work with some unwelcome help.

 

 

 

“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.

 

Detective Work Part 12

Rab wasn’t bad at this investigating shit, if he did say so himself. And even though the work all had to be done on his own time and on the sly, it sure beat the hell out of being indentured — a thing Fallon reminded him of often. He’d managed to play stupid when Harker questioned him concerning his unhappy encounter with Fallon’s brat. After all he’d had the hell kicked out of him. It wasn’t hard to believe that a man might take an ass whupping on a backwater space station and not know who’d done it. The stations and colonies on the edge of the Rim were noted for being rough. That’s why Harker tried to avoid them whenever he could. Being that the Dubrovnik was a big-assed fancy-shmancy conglomerate ship, it seldom put in at the more remote shitholes. The conglomerates always wanted everything to look all squeaky-clean and we-care-about-our- employees like. But Rab knew better. They all knew better.  Hell, Rab wasn’t the first of the Dubrovnik’s crew to get roughed up while on shore leave. He’d been damned lucky, truth be told. Harker lost an ensign just last year and in a place far more respectable than NH372. Young Turk, flirting with a woman. Turned out the bitch in question had a boyfriend, a real jealous boyfriend. Cut the poor kid’s throat from ear to ear. He bled out in nothing flat. So Rab’s story wasn’t much of a stretch. Whether Harker believed him, he couldn’t say. The boss man kept a good poker face. Working for the conglomerate, he couldn’t afford not to.

Over in the corner of the bar on Mining Colony Heceta 9 – the dive didn’t even have a name — Gerando Fallon sat with a woman on his lap all but fucking her right there at the table. Apparently she was on the menu. Rab knew for a fact that daddy had ordered sonny-boy to play nice and not draw attention to himself. But it still made Rab’s skin crawl to think of that turd ball even feeling up a Faribaldina crater slug, let alone a woman.

It wasn’t by chance they’d ended up in the same bar. Sadly, while Rab might have the makings of a good detective, Abriad Fallon had decided that a part of his job should now be babysitting his jizz waste of son. The two were all but joined at the hip until they found Diana McAllister. Hell, he’d thought he’d never have to look at Junior’s ugly face again after what had happened in New Hibernia. But feeling the sting of daddy’s wrath had sent the little cockroach scurrying to find a way to make right his fuck-up, and that led to an even bigger fuck-up. He cornered the poor unsuspecting notary who had notarized the bet between McAllister and some punter named Manning.

Well, the good folks of Rim stations take their gambling seriously, and the bets placed by clientele in any establishment are duly notarized, then kept secret on pain of death. And this notary’s death had, indeed, been painful. Before he died, he’d managed to destroy the DNA codes on his device and everything but the name Manning.

That was when dear ole dad had stepped in. He didn’t want the fucking fruit of his loins killing any more innocent people – mostly because the cover up cost him serious credits, but he also wanted to get to the bottom of what had happened to Diana McAllister. So like it or not, and neither of them liked it one little bit, they were a team, which meant Rab doing all the work and Junior spending his time whoring and drinking.

Rab had done a little detective work from his sick bed on the Dubrovnik and had discovered that there had, indeed, been a Richard Manning in port that night. Manning was the captain of a bucket of bolts called the Fury. Fury was a cargo ship, but you didn’t need much of a brain to know that small cargo ships stayed in business by smuggling, and this Richard Manning had a reputation for being damned good at it. Several people who knew him, or knew of him — as it turned out no one knew him all that well – claimed to have seen him with Diana McAllister at watering holes across the Inner Rim over the course of the last couple of years. Hell Rab had probably seen them together himself, but he didn’t pay much attention to who drank with who, since he knew damn good and well an indentured wasn’t about to jump ship. Or so he’d thought until McAllister had done just that.

Strange now that he’d had time to think about it, low-end cargo ships and smugglers seldom hung out with Orca class conglomerate freighters. They were more likely to hang out in the shitholes at the edge of the Rim where there was business a plenty to be had for their ilk. While Rab knew who Diana McAllister’s father had been and the debt she’d been saddled with, while he knew that a place as corrupt and the Authority had to have enemies, rebel fractions, he seriously couldn’t imagine any of them would have the power to take McAllister right from under Fallon’s nose. Nor could he imagine why they would do it, except maybe to make a statement. Hell, maybe this Manning bloke was working on his own and just wanted some company that looked nice and could pilot a ship. Big risk though. But then again, who wouldn’t want to spend time with Diana McAllister, if they could keep her from winning the clothes off their back.

That’s what landed Leo Rab at a nameless bar on Heceta 9, tossing back a few and blowing off some steam with as many of his crew mates as could get shore leave. The Dubrovnik was at the colony to pick up a large shipment of triaxium ore. And mining colonies, no matter where they were, always attracted the scum of the galaxy. It was perfect for Rab. He’d learned that Manning had made a dodgy purchase of New Hibernian whiskey from a man named Gruber. According to rumors, Gruber was one of the more straight shooting smugglers out there. The man had a partner on Heceta 9, who ran the business planet-side and made sure all the transactions were just enough above board for Gruber to look legit.

“Yeah I know Manning,” Gruber said, sipping on the same beer he’d been nursing since Rab came into the place. He’d approached the man and offered him a fresh pint. Gruber nodded his thanks, and Rab took that as permission to sit. “He captains the Fury,” he said sniffing at the beer like he thought Rab might have pissed in it. But then you couldn’t be too careful in Gruber’s line of work, could you? “Don’t know how the hell he keeps the wreck flying. He must be a damn good engineer as well.”

Rab pulled up the image of McAllister on his device. “Don’t suppose you happened to see this woman onboard the Fury?”

Gruber grabbed up the device and squinted at it. “So what if I have? I don’t want no trouble, and Manning, well Manning’s all right.”

“She’s my sister,” Rab lied. Aside from the fact there was no resemblance whatsoever, he couldn’t think of any other reason why he might be asking after her. “The folks are worried. Old man’s not in the best of health, ya know. I just want to know my sister’s all right.”

The bloke shrugged and handed back Rab’s device. “Got a sister of my own, and yours could do worse than running off with the likes of Manning. Sorry about your old man, though.”

Talk about dumb fucking luck. Who knew the sod had a soft spot for his sister.

Gruber finished off the dregs of his beer and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “Didn’t get a good look at her. She was on the bridge, but that’s her. Maybe the bastard hired someone on to fly the damn ship while he’s busy fixing it, although,” he squinted harder, “Manning’s quite the ladies’ man. Your sister might have just gotten herself smitten.”

“Smitten. That don’t sound much like my sis, but hell, I suppose anything’s possible. The heart wants what the heart wants.” Strange, as long as he’d worked onboard the Dubrovnik with his only real reason for being there to keep an eye on McAllister and to see what Harker got up to, she really did feel sort of like a little sister – one he didn’t think he’d want to cross left to his own devices.

“Well, Manning’ll take good care of her if she’s on his ship. You don’t need to worry about that. Man’s got a good heart, even if he is bat shit crazy, but hell this far out, ain’t that many sane folks around is there?”

Wasn’t that the truth, Rab thought. “Don’t suppose you know who Manning’s selling the whiskey to?”

“Probably heading for Outer Kingston. That’s where I’d be heading if I had a load of New Hibernian I wanted to shed for a good profit. Woulda done just that ‘cept I had another contract pending.”

Rab’s heart sank. He was tied to the Dubrovnik as surely as if he was an indentured, and the Dubrovnik never ventured out that far. He hated like hell to think of Gerando Fallon getting his hands on McAllister before he did. He supposed the end result would be the same. Poor woman would be returned to Daddy Fallon, and Manning, if he survived, would be indentured and sent of to some penal colony for the rest of his life, which wouldn’t be long. Rab didn’t like to think about that. He didn’t like to dwell on the end result of all his detective work.

He tossed back his whiskey and ordered another one. “Don’t suppose you know who he might be selling to?”

“He didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask. None of my goddamned business once the stuff’s out of my hands and I got credits in my account.”

With no joy there, Rab tried a different approach. Another hour of asking around if anyone knew where he could unload a hefty shipment of New Hibernian on the QT, and he came up with a name he figured just might be their man, some Polyphemian named Banshee Blake. About as slimy as you could get, the scuttlebutt had it. But he paid well for New Hibernian. You just had to make sure the bastard didn’t take the goods and run. Polyphemians were notorious for that. Just one rung above thieving pirates, the whole damned lot. They’d sell their own mothers to the highest bidders. Blake was exactly the kind of scum they might be able to work with. But Rab wasn’t about to turn that information over to Junior.

He paid for his drink, and glanced around. Sonny boy was still parked in the corner with his head buried in the woman’s tits and his feet up on the table. He headed out back all nice and quiet like to run his plan by Fallon Senior. The man had the connections he’d need if they were to get to this Banshee Blake in time.

He found a quiet corner and was just about to send the message when a wave of alcohol on the air that made his eyes water told him that he wasn’t alone.

“What are you up to Rab?” Gerando Fallon sauntered up to him straightening his trousers. “You’re not trying to pull one over on me are you? What did you find out from Gruber?”

“What’d you do, kid, pull a fuck’n’run?” Before Junior could respond with more than just a growl, Rab fumbled with his own trousers. “I came out for a piss. Do you mind?”

Damned if the little gob shite didn’t pull out his cock and start pissing right next to him, while Rab had visions of working up a sweat kicking the bastard in the ass. “So, what did Gruber say?” Junior made a show of shaking it and tucking himself back in.

“He knows Manning.”

“Well we already fucking knew that, didn’t we? If that’s all you could squeeze out of him then maybe you better let me have a go.” He cracked his knuckles, and Rab would bet a galactic month’s wages that, if he looked, the motherfucker was getting a hard-on just thinking about beating poor old Gruber.”

“No need for that,” Rab said, tugging up the last reserves of his patience. “He sold Manning whiskey. Said he reckoned he’d sell it somewhere near Outer Kingston. I suppose you coulda have told me that too,” he said, suddenly feeling very tired.

“Coulda. An ass-kissing bastard like you wouldn’t know that, of course because the old man keeps you busy aboard the Dubrovnik.”

While daddy Fallon had ordered Junior not to kill Rab, he had conveniently overlooked the possibility that Rab might just kill the kid. Hell the old man would probably reward him for making the galaxy a more pleasant place.

Before he could get into a heartwarming fantasy of the best ways to take Junior out, the fucker grabbed Rab’s device right out of his hand and opened the message he’d been about to send. Rab braced himself figuring this was the part where the kid lost control and all bets were off.

“When were you gonna tell me this? When the fuck were you going to tell me this?” Spittle gathered in the corner of his mouth like a mad New Hibernian wolf dog and just as he drew back a fist, Rab took advantage of his generous alcohol consumption, ducked the punch, grabbed back his device and sent the message.

“I was going to tell you when I knew a little more about this Banshee Blake, and I thought with your father’s resources, he might be able to help us.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before a subspace came through from daddy.