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Monday, December 3, 2012

Science Fiction: Pilot by @RayAnthony07 #excerpt



Pilot

By Ray Anthony





Cover links to Amazon.com

Synopsis


The Explorer Corps' spaceship Arabia has the distinction of being the ship that has travelled the farthest distance from Earth. Eight days ago Earth lost communication with the Arabia. The spacefighter, Baddest, is one of a pair of spaceships that, at more than fifty miles long are the largest machines ever built. Baddest is normally crewed by the Air Force's Ace Crew II but for this mission the crew is supplemented by the Navy's Special Combat Team Alpha. The Navy and Air Force are bitter space-borne rivals.

Mission: To find the vessel Arabia or to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, her fate and that of her crew.

Excerpt


Downside

The Sub Lieutenant sat strapped into his console and stared out at the starfield. Over the months this view had lost most of its excitement. At the Naval Academy he, like most Cadet Officers, had dreamed of graduation and a first tour on board a Battle Cruiser. When the postings were announced he, like most of the graduates, was disappointed. His posting was to an Earth orbit space station and there wasn't much glamour in that. He supposed that it had something to do with his qualifications in electronics, or the lack thereof. Still, it could have been worse, much worse. He could have been given a downside posting. If you got 'downside' on your first tour your naval career was over before it had even begun.

At first he hadn't thought this posting too bad; space station tours were usually short, normally just a year. On these 'weightless' stations the tours were even shorter, usually four months. He was only seventeen; he had four months to show how bright he was. At the academy he hadn't really had a chance to shine and, anyway, at least he was in space, clocking up space hours, he felt confident that he would get a Battle Cruiser on his next tour.

He had been in space before of course, all cadets had space training. His first time as Officer Of The Watch, had been the first real opportunity he'd had to marvel at the beauty of the Milky Way. It was the first time he'd been in space without someone looking over his shoulder and assessing his every move. He used to enjoy staring out into the cosmos, dreaming about the time when he'd get out there amongst the stars in a Battle Cruiser. But he didn't do that any more. He'd quickly discovered why the weightless tours were only four months long: boredom - crushing, unending boredom. In zero G recreational activities were limited; even movement around the station was regulated. When he'd asked why the station had to remain weightless he was told that an artificial gravity, or one induced by spin, would affect the delicate sensory instruments.

It wasn't as if he had a lot to occupy him. There were often days, sometimes even weeks, when there was no traffic except one or two transit craft. Occasionally a flotilla or even a strike fleet would come in, then there would be round-the-clock activity. Unfortunately that happened all too infrequently and, usually, all he did was count off the days until his posting ended. He no longer cared if he went to a Battle Cruiser; he wouldn't even mind a downside post. Anywhere, as long as it wasn't here or on another weightless.

The mass detector lights started flashing and an audible warning sounded; it had picked up non-random motion at maximum range, just inside Jupiter's orbit. The Sub Lieutenant lazily turned to the console and absentmindedly waved his hands over the console. 'Scanning' identified the mass as a small vessel, still too far away to identify its class, heading towards Earth at trans-light speed.

Trans-light speed? Trans-light velocity inside the plain of the solar system was 'verboten', it caused massive gravitational disturbances. If a Navy Captain did that he would step out of his ship to find the shore patrol waiting, and then he or she would step straight into a court martial. This could only be some Air Force jockey. The Sub Lieutenant dialled up the emergency frequency, he was going to give this Flyboy a statute warning...

"Hello Space Con Four. Space Con Four, this is X-Ray Tango One Five, squawking 200765. Request vector for entry Earth downside, over," a voice crackled over the super-light comm.

XT? That wasn't a standard call sign. It could be one of these 'irregular' flights; flights that no one was supposed to know anything about. However, the squawk code was correct; he'd keep the statute warning up his sleeve. "X-Ray Tango One Five, this is Space Control Four. You are identified. What is your destination downside? Over."

"One Five. Destination AFB Oymyakon, over."

AFB Oymyakon? So, it probably was an Air Force ship, but he wasn't yet 100 percent sure. "Space Control Four. Roger. Destination, Air Force Base Oymyakon. Wait." He checked his screens. "Wait." He checked his transit schedule. "One Five, zero space traffic for Oymyakon. You have priority over air traffic. You are clear for direct reentry. Decelerate and steer 0021/5628/1431. Oymyakon Control on 373 decimal 5, over."

"One Five. Roger. 0021/5628/1431, 373 decimal 5. Thank you Space Control Four, have a nice day."

By now he was pretty sure that it was an Air Force ship. Why should he give some pilot, who'd been cooped up in a bucket for God knows how many months, a hard time just because the pilot was in a hurry to get downside? After the ship decelerated it would take about seventeen hours to make the Jupiter to Earth jaunt; seventeen hours before the Flyboys got some well deserved R&R. The Sub Lieutenant had almost taken his eyes off the screen when something about the pilot's tone made him look again. Suddenly the ship disappeared off his screen... then reappeared at less than a quarter of its original distance. It had made a super-light hop! Even in the Air Force that was an instant Court Martial. Super-light transit near a solar mass was dangerous to the point of being irresponsibly reckless. He stabbed wildly at the comms board and hit it on the second attempt.

"One Five, you are too hot. Too hot! Decelerate, decelerate! Acknowledge, over!"

There was only silence.

His fingers fumbled as they punched in 373 decimal 5. "This is Space Control Four. Override emergency! X-Ray Tango One Five, decelerate, you are..." he stopped in mid sentence and watched open mouthed as the ship made a minor trans-light course correction. If he hadn't been strapped in he would have jumped out of his seat because the ship was now heading directly for the station!

Before he could say or do anything the collision warning sirens started wailing. It might have been just the sirens, but he could have sworn that he heard hysterical laughter coming over the comm. Three seconds later the ship passed the station at a distance of less than two hundred metres and a minute fraction of a second after that Space Control Four was hit by a gravitational shock wave.

Gravitational waves, like other wave forms, affect everything in their path. Even the smallest subatomic particles were individually disturbed. The disturbance was similar to the effect jumping into and out of super-light had on the crew of spaceships. But on a weightless the effects were greatly amplified, it played havoc with the central nervous system. Being caught in the wash of a trans/super-light ship was known in the generally understated parlance of spacefarers as 'having your day buffed'.

The Sub Lieutenant and the other six hundred and fifty-seven crew of Space Control Four were blasted insensible. Approximately one hour later they would regained consciousness. It would take another six hours or so for their vision to return to normal and for their pounding headaches to subside. It would take a further twelve hours before they regained fully control of their bowels and fine motor functions.

AUTHOR Bio


RAY ANTHONY was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1958 and lived with his grandparents until 1968, when he came to Britain to join his parents. Educated in south London, when he had the choice, he studied only maths and science - he found the arts crushingly boring. His first employment was in retail management, then he joined the Royal Air Force. After leaving the Royal Air Force he changed career to media sales management. It was during this time that he discovered he had a hidden creative bent. "Less of my time was being spent on selling or managing, and more on shuffling pieces of paper. Writing strategic reports did my brain in, so I started 'jazzing them up'. The bosses were not amused. If I wanted to keep my job and my sanity, I had to find some release." In 1987 he started writing his first novel.

His published works are: Science Fiction novels Empress and Pilot and Contemporary Fiction novels Interface and All Woman. Non-fiction - Thinking Man's Guide Pregnancy, Childbirth & Fatherhood - A tongue-in-cheek look at the pregnancy & childbirth phenomenon from a male perspective (all the things an expectant father needs to know but is too afraid to ask!)

When he isn't writing he coaches youth rugby and when he isn't doing that you'll probably find him scuba diving.

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