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.