Figured I’d put up an excerpt from the new book today. Its unedited so don’t give me any crap. Enjoy!
Jax had filled Alpha squad with some of the more experienced pilots and even then, there had been a couple who had only been in combat simulations. When he took over on the Delarus, he had called on a fellow retired fighter pilot by the name of Morris to be his second and in command of Beta squadron. Morris was quiet and seemed reserved but Jax knew a different side of his second. He had seen the extreme intelligence and split second decision making that Morris tried to downplay while they were flying together back in the GF. He knew that if anything happened to him the station and the other squads would be in very capable hands.
“Delarus command this is Alpha one,” Jax said.
“Alpha one this is Delarus command, go ahead,” he heard.
“According to your coordinates we are on an intercept course with the incoming ship and should be within visual range soon,” Jax said.
“Copy that Alpha one. Please visually identify the vessel and report back their ID tags so we can put it into the system.”
“Copy that command. Okay boys you heard the boss, let’s get ID on this ship and make sure they’re okay. It’s probably just a comm. glitch, but let’s go weapons free in case we’re wrong.” He paused long enough for the squad to confirm the weapons free order. “Three and five form up on me and the rest form up on Cutty. We’ll make the main contact to try and get a visual while two and the rest come in on the back side to grab the ID tags.”
Jax tapped the yoke of his ship and the small fighter broke slightly to the left. He watched as the other group drifted off to the right and his two wingmen slid up beside him. He noticed that alpha three’s ship was looking a bit beat up and made a mental note to check it out for himself when they got back to the station. His fighter was the newest in the Delarus’ fleet. It was a design that the GF had just phased out relatively recently. It was faster and had better maneuverability than the older fighters in the small fleet as well as much stronger armor. It seemed that the federation had switched from the weaker polysteel construction to a new fully synthetic blend that decreased weight but was twice as strong.
“Sir I have a visual on the unknown,” Jaxs’ wingman Karn announced.
“Copy that, I have visual as well. Man they are moving,” Jax said.
“At that speed they’ll be at the station in no time,” Perkins, his other wingman said.
“Unknown vessel if you can hear us please slow your speed until we can verify your ID,” Jax said.
“Doesn’t look like they can hear you sir,” Perkins said.
“No it doesn’t seem like it does it. Anyone see any windows?” Jax asked.
“No sir nothing at all. What kind of ship is it anyway?” Karn asked.
“No idea, let’s get a bit closer to get a better look.”
“Sir this is Cutty, I need to get a bit closer but we didn’t see any ID tags on our way by.”
“Any markings at all?”
“No sir there doesn’t seem to be, we’re closing in a bit to see if we just missed them.”
“Stay sharp, we’re not getting any responses from them at all.”
There was a beeping sound in Jax’s cockpit and he flipped a switch on his left. “We’re within range for weapons and scanners. You two get a lock on and I’ll do a quick scan.”
“Target acquired,” Karn said.
“I have one as well,” Perkins echoed.
“I’m starting a life sign scan now,” Jax said. There was a flash and Jax looked up from his display in time to see Perkins’ ship explode into a million tiny pieces off to his left.
“BREAK RIGHT, BREAK RIGHT!” he yelled as he shoved the stick to the right sending his fighter into a hard bank, swerving away from the incoming ship.
“What in the seven hells was that?” Karn asked, the sound of panic rising in his voice.
“No idea but they got Perkins. Forget about getting an ID. You have the all clear to engage.”
“Copy that, engaging,” Karn said as he hit his front right thruster and spun his ship a full one hundred and eighty degrees. He hit the trigger on the control yoke and his nose cannon came to life, riddling the top of the unknown aggressor.
“Report,” Jax said.
“Um I think I may have scratched the paint,” Karn said as he swung around to make another pass.
“Seriously?” someone asked.
“Cutty, you guys come in from the back and tear this thing up. Karn you get over here and give them some room to work for a minute.”
“Copy that,” Karn said. He looked up to see the second group on their approach just as the larger ship fired. The bright flash made Karn yelp and he jammed his yoke forward. He felt his ship lurch and heard multiple alarms screaming in his cockpit. Jax yelling in his ear sounded tinny and far away, almost lost in the din of the alarms. He looked desperately over each shoulder trying to assess the damage to his fighter while his fingers snapped toggles and switches to shut down systems, turn on safety measure to fight against internal systems burning and reroute power to life support. “I’m still here, I’m still here, I don’t know how but I am.” He saw that half of his back end was gone. Sparks crackled from the exposed wiring and engine parts.
The larger ship had flown straight through the wreckage that had been part of Karns’ ship and paid no attention to the rest of it as it floated nearby, all power shut down except life support. The three fighters behind it fired their guns and a salvo of missiles, none of which had any noticeable effect on the unknown raider. They swooped in below it, firing their cannons up at the hopefully softer underbelly of the ship. Jax let out a heavy sigh as he watched and saw, once again, that there seemed to be no damage. “Come around again for another run, we need to stop this thing before it gets any closer.”
The three fighters came out from under the ship in a triangular formation and broke to their left to circle around for a second pass. As the two ships at the back of the formation got level with the nose of the unknown ship, it again fired a searing flash that slammed into both ships, shattering them almost instantly. Cutty yelled as he saw the flash. He felt something heavy hit his ship causing it to kick out to the side and heard the patter of debris skitter across the outer hull. Cutty cursed as he tried to turn and realized he had lost most of his steering controls. “Cutty you need to get out of there,” Jax said in his ear.
“Can’t really move boss, steering is almost totally gone.”
“Hold on,” Jax said. He shoved the stick forward and dove toward the raider. He waited until his targeting computer locked onto its target before pulling the trigger and hitting the small red button on top of the control stick to fire his missiles. He held it until all eight were streaking toward the larger ship. “At least try to use your thrusters to get out of its way.”
“I am, it’s just taking a bit. If that thing fires again I’m done,” Cutty said. He was sweating as he stared over his shoulder at the large ship coming toward him.
“Working on it,” Jax said tersely as his ship dove. He could see Cutty off to his right as he went by, still firing at the larger ship. The missiles had struck and just as he had suspected there was once again no damage. His finger still held the trigger for his cannons though and he peppered the top of the ship.
He pulled back on the yoke and killed his aft thruster as his canopy passed the front of the raider. He looked through the clear roof of his cockpit and saw the ship head straight at him. He paused for a moment until he was sure that he should be in there targeting solution before he kicked on his afterburner and jammed the control stick forward. He saw the flash as he felt the huge engine kick in and closed his eyes. The newer fighter reacted instantly, and darted straight down and under the larger raider. Jax let out a howl as he opened his eyes and realized he was still alive.
“Cutty, how’re we doin?”
“Jax I’m sorry,” he heard Karn say.
“They got him, they got you both actually.”
“What, how?” Jax asked as he looked over his shoulder to see if he had any damage.
“No idea, I saw the flash, he was gone and part of your ass end went bye-bye,” Karn said.
Jax listened to his wingman as he checked his gauges and ran a diagnostic. He looked up to see that the unknown ship was now far off in the distance still travelling along the same straight line it had been when they had tried to intercept it. He swore as he read the results on the small screen on the dashboard. “It looks like they took out my guidance, long range communications array and part of my fuel line. Gonna have to reroute that.”
“You can reroute your fuel line from inside?” Karn asked.
“If you know what you’re doing you can,” Jax answered as he worked on the fuel line issue.
“Well I’m glad one of us knows what he’s doing then.”
“Karn do you have long range comms?”
Jax’s wingman barked out a laugh at the question. “Man I am lucky I’m still breathing at this point. I have life support and front thrusters.”
“Ok I’ll pop my distress beacon then. It won’t tell them much, but at least they’ll send help once they see it, if it isn’t too late by then.” Jax said as he reached down to pull a small lever that manually released the distress beacon. He watched as it floated up above his ship attached by a thin tether of cable, it blinked with a slow strobe effect.
“Now what?” Karn asked.
“Now we wait.”
Back to work with me,