This is part one of my new short story! I hope you all enjoy it. Please leave comments and feedback, its all greatly appreciated! If you like my work here, please go and follow my blog at kylerickettsblog.wordpress.com and follow my Facebook page- Kyle Ricketts-author!

Happy writing!

Kyle Ricketts

 

PART ONE

The Starship moved silently in the inky blackness, little pin pricks of light surrounding it. There was nothing else around and seemingly no reason for the ship to be in this region of the system. Its elongated neck and head were reminiscent of a swan. Its body was square, giant cylindrical rockets that looked like jet engines were on the side of the body. A little port underneath the ‘neck’ that seemed to be covered with electricity, could be seen near the bottom, the only obvious way to get onto the starship. There were no lights on or any other signs that there were inhabitants on board. To anyone observing, if anyone could, the scene was peaceful, almost like a Sunday drive on a sunny day.

Inside was a very different scene.

Red lights were flashing and a klaxon alarm was sounding, people were running everywhere as a voice over the PA system kept repeating, “Collision Imminent, Change course now,”

On the bridge, Captain Fox was standing still, staring into the black.

“Don’t even have it on our radar-“

“- can’t see it out of the bridge windows,”

“Time to impact one minute –“

Fox was trying to take in all the information being shouted at him. His first officer was right; there was nothing out of the bridge windows that would make sense for the warning.

“Power down all engines, engage shields and shut down all unnecessary systems,” Fox said staring out into the void, trying to get a glimpse of what was coming their way.

His crew responded to his orders, the alarms and lights still stayed on and the PA system still issued its warning.

“Sir, we are still on collision trajectory,” One of his technicians monitoring the warning said.

With some difficulty, Fox refrained from rolling his eyes. The alarm told him as much without the technician having to say anything.

Another technician spoke, masking the fear he felt, “Time to impact thirty seconds,”

Fox sat down on the captain’s chair, every face in the bridge turned to him.

“Captain, are we not going to get out of the way?” His first officer asked quietly, stepping up to the captain’s chair so that only Fox could hear him.

“Move out of the way of what, Pepper?” Fox asked, still staring out into space.

“10 seconds to impact,”

It seemed as though everyone held their breath, waiting for the impact to come from an invisible enemy.

Then suddenly, the alarms all stopped, the PA voice stopped warning of disaster.

Everyone let out a sigh of relief, everyone except Fox who shouted, “Reengage engines, keep the shield up,”

The couple of seconds of relief was over; everyone rushed to obey their captain’s orders.

“Engines reengaged-“

“Shields at maximum,”

“Co-ordinates Captain?”

“Forward, fast,” Fox replied to the last question.

“Sir?” Pepper asked, looking quizzically at his captain.

“Trust me,” Fox replied.

Pepper nodded then snapped back to his console with concern as it started to beep shrilly.

The whole starship shuddered, taking everyone by surprise. Technicians and officers who had been standing were thrown sideways, some onto the floor, others into monitors and systems. Fox gripped his chair a bit tighter, and then said, “Turn starboard, get the weapons system ready, we’re under attack,”

Red beams speed past the bridge windows as the weapon leaders spoke into their mics, ordering the attack teams to their positions.

A technician said, “Weapon systems aren’t online; the power down initiated a system reboot,”

Fox swore, “How long till they are online?”

“Three minutes, sir,”

Fox wiped his face with his hand, his order before had been a mistake. Powering down all unnecessary systems had also meant the weapons systems at the time, as there was no reason to suspect they were under attack.

“-Just appeared on radar, how is that possible?”

“One bogey on our six, signature seems to indicate stolen starship-

“Bogey just released four smaller signatures; their weapons systems are active,”

The alarm started again.

“Weapons systems online in two minutes,”

Fox listened to all the information, there seemed to be only one more option. The bogeys would be on them soon, they didn’t have time to wait for the weapons system to reboot.

He hit a button on his chair, “Pilot Squad Sierra-Foxtrot to hanger bay,”

Pepper turned around, “Sir! Are you sure?”

“Unless you have a better idea Pepper, get your ass down to that hanger,” Fox said running from the bridge.

Pepper looked about himself and yelled, “Second mate, take command of the bridge!” Before running after Fox.

 

Pepper ran into the hanger a few seconds behind Fox.

In front of him were for the four agile Space fighters of Pilot Squad Sierra-Foxtrot. Pepper slowed down and looked at them in awe.

Even when they were powered down, they stayed in the air, held in place by special clamps in their docking bays. They had what looked like two vents on either side of the cock pit, which were actually their blasters. The cockpit itself was pyramidal at the front, with a smaller pyramid in front of it that made it look like it had a beak. Behind the cockpit was a squat little body that held the thrusters. The smaller pyramid opened up and could release missiles. They had a V, that rested on the back which held a circular thruster, while underneath that were two more. These thrusters were powerful enough to support hyper jumping. The wings swept back at close to a forty-five degree angle from the tip of the smaller pyramid. They were a thing of beauty.

The wings were a dark navy blue, with a dark grey moving from the front of the wings and meeting the navy blue in the middle. The blasters and rear V were also navy blue; the rest of the space fighters were dark grey.

Two of the other squad members had already put on their fighter suits and were walking down the catwalk, helmets under their arms, towards their fighter.

Each fighter was slightly customized to their Pilot.

One of the middle two fighters had a blue falcon painted just underneath where the cockpit opened up. Liam Jones - call sign: Falcon - was a decorated Pilot Ace, having flown top secret missions for the Coalition, the government that oversaw his home system. He joined Fox’s team after a mission he had flown, turned bad and his own government had abandoned him. Fox had come to his rescue, and seeing his potential had offered him a position on his team. Falcon had reluctantly accepted. He didn’t fancy being below Fox. Falcon had got his call sign because of the blue falcon he had on his fighter. No one knew what it meant.

To the left of Falcon’s fighter, Andy Holt – Call sign: Slippery- had customized his fighter in a slightly different way. As the resident mechanic who looked after only the fighters, he had fitted a dish to the top of his cockpit. This dish was a sensitive radar array that Slippery had invented. It could pick up incoming hyper jump bogeys before even seeing them, as well as analyse the defences of anything that was mechanical. Fox had had him install it on their starship too, without the rest of his crew knowing. Slippery had been a gambler before joining Fox’s team and had gotten in deep with the wrong people. Pepper had come to his rescue, bailing him out of a tight corner. Slippery had joined Fox’s team, purely because Pepper had asked. He had got his nick name because he always managed to slip out of trouble.

On the right was Fox’s fighter. At first glance, it didn’t look like Fox had customised his fighter at all. If one looked close to the underside of the fighter however, one would find that Slippery had installed propulsion discs. These discs allowed Fox’s fighter to turn from Space Fighter to Ground Tank with a flick of a switch. A long barrel was hiding just behind the cockpit, the Tanks main weapon. It fired discs of concentrated hard light, which caused an amazing amount of devastation on impact. It was one of Slippery’s designs. James Mack –Call sign: Fox- had headed up this team after dropping out of his home system’s Air Force College. Smart, Cunning and fearless, he had received top marks in his class and was a natural born leader. Fox acquired his call sign exactly because of his cool, calm and cunning nature under pressure.

Before he was supposed to deploy on his first ever mission, he was pulled aside and dishonourably discharged. There was no explanation and it was all covered up. Fox never spoke of what happened. He had gone off on his own as a mercenary and worked hard for several years doing various jobs. Not all of them for were good. When he had come out the other side, he had earned enough credits to buy a starship and the four space fighters, as well as earned a reputation as a mercenary that could get the job, whatever the job, done. He had then needed a team.

Pepper had been with Fox through it all, always by his side.  Mark Popper- Call sign: Pepper- because of his greying hair.  He had, fortunately, been giving a chance to choose his own nickname, either salt or pepper. He chose Pepper because it was so close to his last name.  He had been in the air force for years, and was a high ranking official. After a successful career as a pilot, he had moved on to teaching. Fox had been his star pupil and when Fox had been discouragingly discharged and the reason covered up, Pepper had tried to find out why. However, the cover up went way above his pay grade and he wasn’t able to find out the reason. He had used every contact he had, all of who came back with the same answer: Whatever had been going on went higher than any of them could go. Fox never told him about it and the two had never mentioned it since. Knowing that something unjust had happened, his faith in the system broke, Pepper resigned from the Air Force and found Fox just as he had started his mercenary career. As the oldest on the team, and the most experienced, he gave Fox advice and was his right hand man.  Pepper had a rat in a dressing gown drawn on the right blaster of his fighter.

“Pepper! Get a move on!” Fox yelled as he climbed the ladder to the catwalk that would take him to his fighter.

Within seconds, each Pilot was in their fighter.

“Comms check,” Fox said as he flipped switches and belted himself in. His fighter hummed to life.

“Falcon: ready,”

“Slippery: ready!”

“Pepper: ready”

Fox looked through the cockpit window and down a runway. The exit seemingly covered by electricity, “Pilot Team Sierra-Foxtrot ready to deploy,”

“Not a moment too soon, Captain,” The second mate’s voice rang out in the squads fighters,” Containment Field down, Pilot Team Sierra-Foxtrot are go!”

Slippery’s fighter shot off the mark first, launching by the special clamps.

Shoom!

Falcon’s fighter shot out next and banked right immediately.

Shoom!

Pepper’s fighter sped out.

Shoom!

The force used to propel Fox’s fighter forward threw him back into his seat and kept pushing him into it. It was incredible.

Then he was past the containment field, the pressure eased off and Fox smiled. He was back where he belonged.

He banked to the right and saw his squad mates, already engaging the enemy.

The enemies fighters looked like two dimensional V’s that had a triangle in the middle. The cockpit windows sat at the front with the blaster’s, again looking like vents, sitting just behind. It offered the Pilot accuracy, without having to always rely on the firing systems lock on feature. They were black, which made them hard to see in space, sometimes only looking like shadows moving against the stars.

Thanks to Slipper’s advanced radar system however, the bogeys showed up in red diamonds on the heads up display built into the cockpit windshield.

Slippery already had a bogey on his tail, who was firing hard, red light barely missing the wings of Slippery’s fighter.

“Need help here!” Slippery said over his comms.

“Little busy,” Falcon said through gritted teeth, as he chased his own enemy, firing blue beams of light. His enemy weaved to the left; Falcon didn’t follow and instead fired to the right. The enemy banked right next, in a classic avoidance manoeuvre, only for Falcon’s beams to hit his wing. The injured enemy fighter immediately took off, in the direction of a Star Ship that was hovering at the edge of the dogfight. Falcon cheered and then immediately turned towards Slippery.

Meanwhile, Fox had zeroed in on a bogey that was making a bee line for Pepper, when suddenly red beams flew across his cockpit forcing him to bank hard to the left to avoid colliding with the enemy fighter. The enemy banked sharply and then came at Fox again, firing the whole time. Fox dived out of the way, and then pressed a button labelled- G-diffuser. He then managed to pull up, roll and fly back all in the tightest loop-the-loop that anyone had ever seen.

The G-Diffuser was another invention from Slippery. It rendered G-Forces to zero, so that feats such as the one Fox had just pulled off, were possible.

Fox now had the upper hand on his enemy, firing hard. His enemy weaved and dipped and rolled out of the way. It was no good. Fox’s barrage slammed right into the rear thrusters and the fighter silently blew up.

It seemed that the dog fight was to be short lived, the two remaining enemies started flying back towards their Star Ship, Falcon began chasing them.

“Come back here you cowards!” He yelled, clearly forgetting that his comms were on.

“Falcon, let them go. We’ve won,” Fox said into his comms, bringing his fighter into a hover and watching Falcon chase the bogeys.

Falcon kept chasing and firing.

“Falcon! Return to base!” Fox said.

Still Falcon ignored him.

“That’s an order!”

Falcon’s fighter finally broke off the pursuit and turned around.

“Captain!” The Second mates’ voice said in Fox’s fighter.

“Go ahead,”

“The Captain of the other Star Ship is requesting to speak to you,”

“Tell him I’ll be there soon, Fox out,” Fox said, turning his fighter towards his own Star Ship as Falcon flew past.

 

 

Fox didn’t hurry back to the bridge.

He wasn’t about to be accommodating to the Captain who had just launched an attack on him, unprovoked.

By the time he finally got to the bridge with Pepper, he had been called three times by the Second mate, telling him that the other captain was getting impatient.

Now he sat in his chair and said, “Put him on the screen,”

A giant hologram spat out an image and everyone did a double take, everyone except the two Captains.

The second captain looked similar to Fox.

Both had light brown hair, dark brown eyes and the same nose, it seemed.

There were slight differences; the Enemy Captain wasn’t as tanned as Fox and judging by the equipment behind him, a foot smaller. Not to mention the shorter of the two was wearing an air force uniform, which was nice, white and pressed. Compared to Fox who had a black jacket with a short collar with his team’s logo on it, open with a grey t-shirt underneath with black cargo pants.

“I thought it was you, brother,” The enemy Captain said.

Fox remained silent.

“You seemed to have damaged two of my fighters, you’ll be happy to know the Pilot of the fighter you destroyed survived.”

Again, silence met the statement.

The two men looked at each other for a second, then Fox said, “What do you want?”

“I want to offer you an olive branch,”

Fox scoffed.

“You realise that a warrant has been issued for your arrest?”

Fox looked at his brother,” I was aware, such are the perils of my life,”

His brother raised an eyebrow, “You don’t care?”

“No,” Fox answered shortly.

It was true, one of the radio technicians had come to Fox not long ago, saying that there was chatter about an ‘arrest warrant’ that had been issued on Fox. The only problem was that the radio channels that the warrant had been picked up on weren’t legitimate channels.

It was essentially a hit.

A hit that Fox was sure his brother had just tried to carry out.

“You are a very wanted man,”

Fox was growing tired of this conversation and he had a nagging suspicion that his brother was purposely drawing it out.

“Well, if that’s all you wanted to tell me, Jackal,” Fox said, starting to stand up.

This time, his brother didn’t answer.

It confirmed Fox’s suspicions.

He moved his hand across his neck, indicating to cut the connection.

As soon as the screen disappeared Fox said, “Keep shields up, Engines at maximum, we need to put as much distance between us and them as possible. As soon as we are clear, initiate Hyper Jump,”

Once again, the bridge jumped into action. Only this time, it was too late.

Fox watched as his brothers Star Ship fired something into the emptiness between them and without so much as a thought to how close they were, Hyper Jumped.

The drawback was terrible, Fox’s Star ship was dragged towards where Jackal’s had disappeared while at the same time, the projectile Jackal had fired, detonated.

The result was spectacular.

There was a small ring of dark blue that spread out in a circle, sweeping over Fox’s Starship.

Then, with an incredible force, it was sucked back in from the point it started. Fox’s starship seemed to be caught by the same force, dragging it in with the blue ring. As Fox looked on, wondering what his brother had fired, his systems rang the alarm again, with a warning that no one who ventured into space wanted to hear, “Gravitational irregularity detected, time to horizon: seven minutes,”

The noise seemed to get softer and a sense of calm fell around Fox as he looked out of the bridge window, everyone following his gaze, his mouth hanging open.

Framed by the window, and getting bigger as they were dragged closer, was a massive black circle. It was only distinguishable by the ring of golden yellow around it; otherwise it wouldn’t have been able to be seen. The ring of blue could be seen, still travelling towards it, but very small. The ring of golden yellow started to swirl, as if a plug had been taken out of a drain and the water was making a whirlpool, moving away from the black circle in the middle. The further the golden yellow got, the darker the colour became till a swirling red was forming the outer ring, which enveloped Fox’s star ship.

“A black hole…” Fox whispered, transfixed by what he was seeing. It held an eerie beauty about it; everyone was staring. The golden yellow was illuminating the bridge, the occasional red flashing amongst it; the alarm was still sounding.

Time to horizon: Five minutes,”

The computers voice pulled Fox out of his state.

“Turn us around, engines at maximum. We don’t have much time!”

Everyone jumped to their stations, the alarm seemingly got louder and panic was starting to set in.

The view of the black hole vanished as the ship was turned around to be replaced once again by empty blackness.

Below the bridge, with no windows to see what was going on, every crew member was running to the safety zones and strapping themselves into seats. The rest of Pilot Team Sierra-Foxtrot got into their Fighters, just in case.

Back on the bridge, Fox looked at gauges that sat in front of his chair. It didn’t seem as though they were moving.

“Engines at maximum, fuel getting low-“

Time to horizon: 1 minute-“

“- not moving-“

Fox slumped into his chair. They had run out of time, there was nothing they could do. He looked around the bridge, it felt like slow motion. He could see people talking but not hear what they said. The alarm was still flashing red lights. He looked out the bridge windows and saw that they were in the golden yellow ring now.

Impact”

Time sped up again, but it was still silent. Everyone had stopped talking; knowing they only had seconds until the end.

Then it started.

It crept down from his head, a feeling as though something was pulling it backwards. It moved slowly down his body, slowly stretching him. People started to scream, feeling the same thing. Fox tried to move his head to the side, to look at someone, to give them support. But he couldn’t. The gravitational forces of the Black hole were too strong. The further they went into it, the more the feeling of stretching increased. It was excruciating. It was pain beyond anything Fox had ever felt in his life. He screamed too.

The last thing Fox saw was a blinding white light, heard the screams of all his crew, then, thankfully, nothingness.

Published by Kyle Ricketts