Happy Friday my Lovelies! I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury. If you are, please share the word. Something entertaining to read in lockdown goes a long way for passing the time happily, and I’ll be offering a new episode of Fury every Friday. Last week, Diana Mac reports for duty onboard the Fury and found the situation rather different than she expected. In Part 6, she does a bit of exploring around her new home.
“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.
Not What She Expected
I had to pick my dropped jaw up off the console before I could do anything else. The rat bastard had been onboard all the time and hadn’t bothered to get his ass out of bed. I had half a notion to go bang on his door until he answered it and then kick him in the balls. But what was the point? I was his and if he wanted to spend the next twenty years in bed with me serving him meals on a silver platter, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
My righteous anger lasted just until I got the all clear from the port master computer and released the docking clamps. Then just like always, I was a pilot through and through. I might well be indentured, but I was still a damn fine pilot and Fury, no matter what sex, was a damn fine ship to be piloting. I reversed out of a cramped little space that would have been a difficult maneuver for a ship half the Fury’s size, and I was in my element. The Dubrovnik was a good ship easy to pilot, but piloting Fury was like having really great sex. I’d never piloted such a responsive ship.
“Manning may be a bastard, but we’re gonna get along just fine,” I said, once we’d maneuvers clear of the busy space lanes and headed out toward the Corset. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Hon. I got you now. I’ll take good care of you.”
If captains were a superstitious lot, pilots were even more so, and on top of that we were soppy sentimentalists. The captain might be in charge, but every good pilot knows that the ship is hers in a way that’s far deeper, far more personal than it ever is for a captain. Indentured I might be and under dubious circumstances in both cases, but Fury was already mine. I felt it deep in my gut even more than I had with the Dubrovnik. But the Dubrovnik was more of a hive mind. Fury was willing and ready to go one on one with me, and he all but purred when I took the controls and guided him out through the heavy port traffic and into the main space lane away from Outer New Hibernia.
By the time I’d laid in the coordinates I found in the ship’s computer for our rendezvous with the Torrington, I was basking in the after glow, itching for the foreplay of maneuvering through the Dublin Corset, the bizarre asteroid belt that was Outer New Hibernia’s man made defense structure, and a piece of engineering nearly impossible for most pilots to maneuver without help from the station. While I wouldn’t have been allowed to attempt it on the Dubrovnik, Fury was as ready to dance as I was, and we tangoed our way right on out through the Corset with no help from the station, no help from anybody, thank you very much.
I’d all but forgotten about Manning until I passed his quarters on the way to the galley to make myself a coffee and have a sandwich. Having unsupervised use of a replicator was a luxury I planned to take full advantage of.
On a whim, I cupped my ear to the door. Aboard the Dubrovnik, the captain’s quarters and those of the senior officers were soundproof, and while technically I was a senior officer, as an indentured, I wasn’t afforded that luxury. Nor was I afforded the luxury of the not so soundproof crew quarters. At Abriad Fallon’s insistence, I was given little more than a rabbit hutch off the engine room, a reminder that I was still his and he could do with me what he wanted even onboard the Dubrovnik. I’d learned to sleep in a fetal position while listening to the growl of the engine, which I found far more pleasant than the fraternizing that went on in the thin-walled crew quarters, a constant reminder that I was not one of them. Treks to the edge of the Rim were long and boring, and fucking was the main way to pass time on a big freighter. Though for me, it was just one more reminder that consensual sex was something I couldn’t risk for myself or for a partner when I didn’t know who Fallon might have onboard to keep an eye on me. I could hear nothing coming from Manning’s quarters though. I figured he really was sleeping it off.
It was then that I noticed the door next to Manning’s now bore an imitation brass plate that read ‘First Mate Diana McAllister.’ It hadn’t been there before. Believe me an indentured wouldn’t miss something like that. I glanced back at Manning’s door and frowned. How had he managed that without me noticing him up and about? Rick Manning was impossible not to notice. Even his presence asleep dominated the whole ship, and yet while I was making love to Fury, he must have done this.
I opened the door, which was no longer locked, and cautiously stepped inside. With Manning I had no idea what to expect, but it sure as hell wasn’t this. While the space wasn’t big, it felt positively palatial to me. The bed was just the standard built-in space faring size, but to me, it was big enough to wallow in and long enough to accommodate all of my height. Hell, I would have ended up hunchbacked from sleeping in the little bit of space I had on the Dubrovnik. This was pure luxury. The recessed safety-shielded shelves above the bed displayed an ancient astrolabe and a small brass orrery, clearly old Terran. They were beautifully replicated and placed between a smattering of antique books. No doubt they were copies, but in this day and age even copies cost a fortune. To my delight, there was even a tiny window with a view of the void. Who the hell had a window these days? There was a desk and a chair, and there was a bathroom. I had my own private bathroom! The shower was actually big enough to turn around in. It even had a water replication feature. The place was like a fucking mansion. I had time before we rendezvoused with the Torrington, and I was still in my worse for wear dress. A peak into a small slide-out
closet showed that Manning had thought of that too.
No stodgy uniform for Fury’s crew. Instead I found several lightweight jumpsuits in varying colors designed for comfort as well as style. I could live with that. I stripped and stepped into the shower.