Happy Friday my Lovelies! I hope you’re enjoying Piloting Fury. I 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, we left Rab in a serious bind. Our story picks up from 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.
A Deal with the Devil
He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all. He was seriously considering cutting his losses and running. Being the bearer of bad news to Gerando Fallon never ended well, and even if he did escape with his life, he’d more than likely be permanently maimed. Rab was a free man, no longer indentured. That was the price for his years of service on the Dubrovnik. That was what Abriad Fallon had offered him for keeping an eye on McAllister and on Captain Harker. It was a good job too. Pay was decent and he had a bed and three squares, which was way more than a lot of people these days. He hated like fuck to walk away from a good thing. But he liked very much the idea of saving his skin, something there was never any guarantee of if you crossed a Fallon.
Hell he could find other work, work outside the Rim. He was strong and able-bodied. He’d heard there was lots of work to be had out there, outside Authority influence. He could start all over, begin a new life. Who knew, he might even find a mate, have a family. He had credits saved from his service on the Dubrovnik, extra credits that Fallon hadn’t known about, credits he’d not been able to freeze and hold over his head. Diana Mac hadn’t been the only one doing a little moonlighting. Fuck this shit. Rab didn’t need it. He didn’t need any of it, and even Abiard Fallon had no influence beyond the Rim. He was all set to slip away, convinced to make a run for it, but he’d thought about it just a little too long, and Gerando Fallon’s loud mouth shattered the silence.
“Diana McAllister better be with you, Rab, and ready to board the Ares. I’d better just be too drunk to see her. Do you hear me? I left you to keep an eye on her. It was a simple task. An imbecile could have done it, and yet I’m not seeing her, shit nob.”
Fallon approached Rab in an alcoholic wave that nearly made his eyes water, but that was the least of his worries now. The fucker had an illegal mol-pistol strapped openly to his hip like he was a goddamned Old Terran cowboy, and no matter how bad he smelled, he was way to steady on his feet to be trusted. For a brief moment Rab calculated his chances of taking Fallon down and making a run for it, and then the fucker’s bullyboys stepped out of the shadows. There were four of them, all bigger than Fallon by a long shot, and all with just enough brains between them to stay in Fallon’s good graces.
“It was a done deal, Rab. All I had to do was take the bitch when she left to go back to wherever the hell she’s staying for the night. All I had to do was throw her over my shoulder, toss her on board the Ares and take her back to the old man. It was a done fucking deal! All you had to do was keep an eye on her. What the fuck happened?” He all but yelled the last words peppering Rab’s face with rank flecks of spittle that made his own gorge rise. Goddamn it irritated him that the last thing he’d smell in this life was Gerando fucking Fallon’s stink.
“I can tell you where she disappeared at, and I can tell you there was evidence of a localized cloaking device. I have the readings on my PD, if you care to see them.” He’d had the good sense to send them on to the old man figuring at least he’d get one over on the little bastard, even if it had to be post mortem. “Oh, she’ll be back on the Dubrovnik first thing in the …”
Fallon didn’t even look at his personal device, but knocked it out of his hand, and it skittered across the walkway. “I don’t give a rat’s ass if she was beamed up to goddamned New Vaticana heaven. All you had to do was keep an eye on the bitch.”
“All I had to do was your job, while you fucked a whore.” He knew he shouldn’t have said it, but goddamn it, he was going to die anyway, what the hell. He might as well tell the little turd ball what he thought. And he was right. Fallon backhanded him so hard his ears rang, and he spat blood. But before he could do more than struggle for breath, two of the ugly boys grabbed him and stretched out between them like a filta carcass waiting to be gutted. Damn, he wasn’t going to get a pretty death. Not that he’d really expected it, not even before he’d opened his big mouth. Still, holy New Vaticana Jesu, he had hoped for the Mol-pistol and instant disintegration at least. But there you go. Fortune was an evil bitch, wasn’t she? Now there would probably be torture ending in something nasty like having his ‘nads stuffed down his throat. A high price to pay for telling the prick off.
Fallon stripped out of his pretty boy flight jacket – the bastard fancied himself a pilot – and handed it to one of his ass kissers. He had just pulled back his fist for a nice hefty gut punch when his PD went off. He jumped back like he’d been shot and for a second, Rab thought he was going to puke again. But the green around his gills told Rab all he needed to know. It was daddy on the horn. Fallon lifted a hand for his thugs to hold the show. He didn’t want to miss any of the pain, after all. Then he stepped back into the shadows, where he paced back and forth. The hiss of his voice rose to a spoilt brat whine that made Rab want to slap the little twat’s face off and stomp on it. He held his breath. Maybe it wasn’t such a good day to die. Rab wasn’t a snitch, but it wasFallon Senior he worked for, after all, and if Junior couldn’t do his job, well that wasn’t his fault.
At last Fallon shoved the device into his pocket. He gave the wall of the docking bay a couple of brutal kicks and spat viciously. Then he marched over to where Rab was stretched out between his pals and gave him the mother of all punches in the ribs — one of which Rab felt snap as his chest erupted in an explosion of pain and then spasmed in his effort to breathe. The two bullyboys released him, and he slid to the ground, curling around himself to protect his tender innards against the three hard kicks that came to the kidneys instead.
Just when Rab was thinking he might be dead meat in spite of the father son chat, the bastard pulled back gasping for breath. “Seems you’re still needed on the Dubrovnik, you worthless cunt licker.” Fallon grabbed Rab by the collar and dragged him to his feet in a wave of agony. “But cross me again, and I’ll gut you no matter what the old man says. You remember that.” He gave him a hard shove onto the ground. Then he fought his way back into his jacket and swaggered away like John Fucking Wayne for an old Terran film. And that was bloody fine by Rab. He wasn’t going to die tonight, though right now he sure as hell felt like it. He’d live to fight another day, and even as dragged himself back to his feet, stopping to puke twice before he could manage it, he felt like a man with a new lease on life. In agony that had never felt so good, he stumbled to the main dock and took the last shuttle of the night back to the Dubrovnik.