- Author: Craig Andrews
Book online «Wings of Honor Craig Andrews (ebook reader for pc .TXT) 📖». Author Craig Andrews
Wings of Honor
Book one of The Forgotten Fleet
Copyright © 2021 by My Story Productions
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
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Also by Craig Andrews
The Forgotten Fleet:
Wings of Honor
Wings of Mourning (Summer 2021)
Wings of Redemption (Fall 2021)
who shines brighter than any star
and lights the world for everyone around him.
Now you have a book too.
About the Author
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Coliseum, Terran Fleet Academy
Sol System, Earth, High Orbit
Callan “Coda” O’Neil slipped on his virtual-reality helmet, muffling the surrounding voices and sounds of excited anticipation. The VR’s imaging display flickered to life, and the real-life image of his squadron donning their own simulation helmets on the floor of the Coliseum was replaced by a simulated first-person view of the inside of his fighter drone. Resistant to radar, lidar, and other forms of detection, the matte-black Z-18 Hornet flew silently through the digital representation of space.
This calm before the battle, the silence before the rest of his squadron plugged into the simulation and the radio chatter began, was usually one of Coda’s favorite moments. But the upcoming battle was with Andrei Krylov’s Shadow Squadron, and Coda’s nerves and overwhelming desire to win spoiled whatever personal heaven the prebattle isolation normally provided.
Andrei Krylov, call sign “Moscow,” was one of the finest drone pilots in the Terran Fleet Academy and, in Coda’s opinion, its biggest prick. More importantly, Shadow Squadron was tied with Coda’s own Viking Squadron for first place in the academy’s standings. In addition to determining the Ace Squadron of their class, the battle would be one of the deciding factors in determining the pilots’ post-graduation assignments.
Coda already knew where he would be stationed. The image of the sleek black hull of the SAS Americas filled his mind’s eye. The battle cruiser was the flagship vessel in the Sol Fleet and home to the Nonpareil, the finest drone squadron the Sol Fleet had ever assembled. Coda would soon be one of them, fighting battles that weren’t simulated, battles that actually meant something. He couldn’t wait to rub Moscow’s smug face in it.
One thing at a time, Coda told himself, dismissing the daydream. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
“Heads-up,” he said softly, and his heads-up display overlaid his view of space, providing him with important flight data and a small three-dimensional map displaying a full view of the battle. The battle map, which was relegated to the bottom right-hand corner of his vision, would soon be teeming with green and red dots indicating friendly ships and enemy fighters. For the moment, however, a white dot of the friendly capital ship cruised behind the friendly green symbol that marked his fighter.
Above the floor of the Coliseum, where Shadow and Viking Squadrons were plugged in, was a much larger version of the battle map. Nearly four stories tall and almost as deep, the battle map gave the spectators front-row seats to the upcoming incursion. Instead of the green and red dots on Coda’s HUD, though, the spectators enjoyed three-dimensional, photo-real images of the fighter crafts.
There, the extensive view would shift to where the battle was thickest, like the vids of a space race moving to where the race was most interesting. A normal battle would draw most of the student body—it was a perfect opportunity to study a fellow squadron’s tactics, after all—but there wouldn’t be an empty seat in the house tonight. Even the faculty would attend. Not to mention representatives from Fleet Command.
Coda turned, the view in his VR helmet shifting seamlessly with him, and saw the rest of his squadron formed up beside him. Every battle simulation began this way, with the sixteen drones of the squadron stretched out in a simple line that gave each squadron leader a block of clay that they could shape into a formation of their choosing.
“All right, report in.” Coda listened as all of his pilots announced they were plugged in and ready for action. When the last radioed that he was ready, Coda ordered the squadron to move into standard formation, and in practiced unison, the drones shifted into a V with Coda at its point.
He didn’t intend to remain in the standard formation for long, but it gave the spectators something to see and provided his pilots with an opportunity to put their drones in action. Not that they needed the practice, of course; they’d logged thousands of hours in their drone operation bays, but Coda had long since learned that even the best pilot could hesitate during the early moments of battle. Having them shift formations before it began allowed them to get control of their nerves and avoid any serious mistakes.
“Contact!” Buster boomed suddenly.
“Copy that, Buster,” Coda said. “What do we have?”
“Looks like your standard smash-and-go scenario,” Buster said.
Coda glanced at his battle map, noting the newly appeared red dots marking the enemy fighters. They were two minutes out and zipping toward Coda’s fighters, away from a capital ship of their own.
“Let’s get some space between us and our ship.” Coda keyed an intercept course and sent it to