I’m doing something different today. I’m not going to bore you with several hundred words about my life or my family. Today I’m giving you a glimpse inside my fiction.
Well over a year ago I read an anthology called Battlespace. The editorial staff are all veterans. They actually have a really awesome podcast called The Science Fiction Show. Check it out. Anyway, they did something cool. They put together a bunch of military sci-fi, published it, and gave the money to a charity that helps veterans. In this case, the Warrior Cry Music Project. For some reason, even knowing they were looking for contributions, I didn’t even try to write one. After reading it, though, I thought I had a story in me for the next volume. And yes, I’m told there will be a second one.
So, I wrote a short story and ran it by some folks. They liked it. Thing was, it was the conclusion to a larger series of events. Since then I’ve been writing short stories that peek inside that larger series of events. Faster Than Light is one of those.
Faster than light. Hyperspace. Warp speed. Science had reached the point where we knew it was possible. After all, our enemies were able move at such a speed. Now it would be our turn. The Bugs were pushed back against the gravity wells of Neptune and Uranus. Jupiter and Saturn were both at a point in their orbits of Sol that they, too, where on that arc of their orbits. Mars and Pluto, the other outer planets, were at about 9 and 3 o’clock, respectively, if Uranus marked 12 on an analog clock. The path to the other side of our system was free, other than the asteroid belt, of any gravitational flux.
Terran Space Ship 10-101, The Warped Tour, was small compared to the warships hammering and being hammered millions of miles away. The one-man ship was about the size of a small transport, grossing about the same tonnage as one of the old 20th Century Space Shuttles. Its shape, too, was 20th Century, but in this case it was inspired by science fiction. Entertainment creators hadn’t envisioned the Galactica’s Vipers to be quite so large, but The Warped Tour was a test bed.
Already it was accelerating away at a slight angle that would carry it above the asteroid belt orbit, as well as away from all the major bodies in the system. Bob Mauer, the test pilot and great nephew of one of those killed during first contact, was letting the flight test squadron know he was ready. Fast-as-light communications meant that the team aboard Terran Orbital 2 were seeing and hearing everything at the same time, but the reality was we were a few minutes behind. What we were seeing and hearing was in the past now.
Even as the go-ahead came over our speakers, the blip on our screens representing Warped winked out. Nearly 30 minutes later a report came in. Mauer had come back to realspace, corrected his angle, and accelerated out again, this time aiming for a point in an almost straight line from Earth and on the same level of the elliptical. It meant he’d taken just a few minutes to leave Earth orbit and arrive at a distance nearly equaling Jupiter’s from the sun, before transitioning to the turnaround point, and the final real test, before coming home. Another fifty minutes passed and we received the report from the gunnery range. Mauer had transitioned, found the targets, and destroyed them, then returned to Midpoint.
A blip suddenly appeared on our screen. Though we were sure it was Warped, we were on wartime footing, so everyone tensed. Then the message, “I’m baaaaack!”
Cheers. Slapping each other on the back. Someone broke open a bottle of champaign.
Admiral MacLaughlin stepped over to a comm unit, asked to be put through to the assembly line.
“This is Admiral MacLaughlin. The test was 100% successful. Start installing those drives; get the ships to the armory. As soon as Mauer arrives, debrief him in the presence of the other pilots. We can turn the tide.”