Last post I told you What I’m Working On, a Military/Sci-Fi project set in the future during a war between humans and the alien Vyptellians. Here’s a short excerpt from what should be the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it.
Tyko killed the first two Vyptellians quickly enough, sending bright green streams of charged slugs into spacefighters that were now millions of pieces of space debris. The first two Vyps had been bunched up, slow to respond, and then predictable in their evasive movements — easy prey for one of the fleet’s top pilots, a guy who one of his peers joked had created more space dust than God. But the third one, that was a different story. The Vyp had experience, Tyko could tell, the alien pilot taking full advantage of his craft’s superior maneuverability to avoid the pulsating green lances streaming at him.
Not his first rodeo, Tyko thought, using one of his favorite phrases, first heard in an old vid about one of Old Earth’s wars and then explained through archive research in the base station library. A smile crept across his face at the idea of a Vyp atop one of New Earth’s few surviving horses, kept from extinction along with thousands of other species in zoological preserves. Like the horse, few of Tyko’s generation had ever seen a live Vyp but propagandists made the most of the enemy’s reptilian visage, the commonly accepted image causing Tyko to smile at the pairing with a horse.
The Vyp twisted and turned, avoiding Tyko’s slugs while attempting to gain a position to return fire. The human countered each movement, both hands and feet working his craft’s flight controls while targeting and status data streamed across the vid screen he faced. The sleek Vyptellian fighter, shaped like one of the arrowheads shot at Tyko’s ancestors centuries ago on Old Earth, was locked in the targeting reticle in the center of the vid screen, the elongated pinlights of stars and planets on a backdrop of pure black providing visual references of the enemy’s moves.
A warning light flashed in the corner of the vid screen at the same instant a warning tone warbled in Tyko’s headset. He dismissed both with a flick of his eyes; he had mapped sensors in his helmet’s faceshield for such a command. Not now, Tyko thought as he closed on the enemy fighter. The Vyp suddenly decelerated and as Tyko compensated, relaxing his finger’s pressure on the thrust touchpad, the enemy fighter nosed over. Tyko followed his spiraling enemy, holding his fire until a bright red circle superimposed over the enemy fighter began to flash.
Tyko grunted with satisfaction as a one-second burst sent two lines of green reaching out toward the Vyptellian. At the moment when the charged slugs should have slammed into the enemy craft the Vyp pilot again drastically slowed and evaded, spinning off to the left in a turn so violently and crisply executed that for the first time in hundreds of engagements Tyko found his jaw dropping with awe at the skill of an enemy pilot.
The light and tone returned, brighter and louder respectively, as Tyko maneuvered to reacquire his target with a rolling turn to the left that was as sharp as his fighter’s controls allowed. The Vyptellian fighter reappeared on the edge of his vid screen, smaller than before but slowly moving toward the center ring where it would lock in place.
“Green Zulu Five One, you have nearly exceeded maximal battle efficiency duration. Disengage and prepare for relief.” The voice of the flight control officer was calm but the tone provided no room for discussion.
“Control! A few minutes…I need a few more minutes.”
“Request denied, Green Zulu Five One. Disengage and prepare for relief.”
Tyko maintained his course, accelerating to maximum thrust with a nudge of his finger. The Vyp in front of him displayed skill exceeding the norm and Tyko suddenly wanted to destroy this Vyptellian more than any of the others he had faced. The engine status text on his vid screen turned red as he swiped the touchpad to coax out more thrust.
“Green Zulu Five One!”
“Look at the roster, Control, see who you’re dealing with. Give me five more minutes.”
There was silence on the circuit and Tyko was sure the flight control officer was calling up the flight manifest and realizing the voice on the other end of the conversation was one of the fleet’s top pilots.
“Green Zulu Five One, disengage and prepare for relief or I will order an involuntary turnover.” A slight pause. “I don’t give a good Goddamn who you are, son. There will be just as many Vyps to kill in four hours and you’re not breaking the rules on my watch.”
Tyko muttered a curse under his breath and focused on the Vyptellian as the distance between his fighter and the enemy closed. A small bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face inside his faceshield as he stared at the vid screen, willing the red target lock circle to flash.
“Green Zulu Five One Papa, this is Control. Stand by to execute involuntary relief of Green Zulu Five One.”
“Aye, Control. Green Zulu Five One Papa standing by.”
Tyko applied pressure to the firing touchpad but with no target lock nothing happened. Gritting his teeth, he executed a rolling turn, sending his fighter away from the Vyptellian.
“Green Zulu Five One has disengaged, ready for relief.” Tyko closed his eyes. “On my mark, five…four…three…”
The other pilot, his relief, took up the count. “Two…one. This is Green Zulu Five One, standing by for vector to nearest targets.”
Tyko’s hands dropped from the controls and he leaned back in the seat, head up but eyes closed. After several moments he reached down and loosened the straps holding his feet to the control pedals. Swinging his legs to the right, he stepped out of the Fighter Control Unit (Remote), to find himself facing a small crowd of pilots and support officers, their faces upturned to get a better look at the large vid screens positioned over each pilot’s station.
They watch the battles like they’re some kind of Old Earth war vid, he thought to himself with slow shake of the head. Just like they always do.
Want to read more? Check out the entire story in the Space Jockey anthology which includes a lot of great sci-fi including a story by Philip Dick!
Or, you know, you can wait until I finish this book … but fair warning! There’s no telling when that will be! 🙂 Sadly, it may never be done.