Pilot by @RayAnthony07 #scifi #excerpt


by Ray Anthony

Cover links to Amazon.com

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.


The Air Traffic Controller was most surprised when Space Con Four crashed his control frequency. The Space Con Four controller came on with an emergency override and was screaming a warning to some ship, X-Ray Tango One Five. There wasn't any X-Ray Tango under his control, so he checked his screen but there was no 'unidentified' in his sector. The Space Controller had stopped babbling in mid sentence. The Air Traffic Controller waited for further information. None was forthcoming. Had that Space Controller flipped? It wasn't unknown for these naval types to crack up whilst serving in a weightless. Because there was no immediate conflicting traffic with the aircraft under his control the Air Traffic Controller decided to devote some of his time to this 'situation'. A renegade controller wasn't just a danger to the spacecraft under his control, he could talk a ship in anywhere downside.

The Air Traffic Controller pressed 'call', this alerted the Control Officer that there was a possible difficulty in his sector. He knew that on the other side of the huge underground control room several Watch Officers would tap into the information displayed on his screen. Before he could explain the reason for the call, detectors picked up gravitational shock waves emanating for the upper stratosphere, so he punched into the ground and satellite based infra-red network. As he'd expected, the infra-red detectors picked up a 'burner' - a ship had hit the atmosphere at high speed. It must have been the ship that Space Con Four was warning. He locked the infra-red monitors onto the ship. The detectors showed a streaking object, glowing white-hot, that had dived deep into the atmosphere. The Air Traffic Controller had witnessed a few burners in his time, but never one like this. This ship was moving fast, yet it didn't appear to be out of control, it was definitely being flown. The pilot was scrubbing off speed - using the atmosphere as a brake. Whoever was piloting that ship looked to be in a hurry to lose speed and get down.

The ship squawked 200765 for only four seconds, then pulled back out of the atmosphere. The Air Traffic Controller checked the aircraft in his sector, they were all still OK. On its next orbit the ship came down to 90,000 feet and squawked 200765 for six seconds, then pulled out again. At 100,000 feet a vessel came under Air Traffic control, so he prepared to hail the ship on the emergency frequency on its next pass but flashing warning lights on his console distracted him.

It was an 'all stations alert' from Naval TacCon. The Navy was telling every man and his dog that there was a full naval sector scramble on. Naval Air Station Bandar in the Persian Gulf, and the Maldives station in the Indian Ocean were putting up point defence space ships and supersonic aircraft. As the Air Traffic Controller got very busy steering the aircraft under his control out of the path of the Navy ships, it occurred to him that this wasn't a routine training scramble. Naval Air Stations didn't normally launch simultaneous scrambles. Plus, they were putting up nearly five times the normal number of ships. Was this scramble connected with the burner?