This story was started as maybe an attempt to re-write Flight of the Starbird or The Challengers as a children's book. It introduces the character Alex as maybe a substitute for Troy Star. This still has many possibilities if the inspiration strikes again.
Van Turner, 2010
“Blue leader, bogey on your tail! Get outta there!” shouted the voice in his helmet comm. A flash of light off his port side and his ship shook violently as the shot missed, the energy bolt expended.
The pilot led the little craft at nearly one-quarter light speed through a series of maneuvers bewildering to the eyes, boggling to the mind. His foe was with him every step.
This guy is putting me through my paces, the fighter pilot thought to himself as his ship shook again. If I can just get ahead of him, he thought.
He pressed the turbo button on the flight control and the little gray ship leaped forward, the acceleration pushing him back into his cockpit seat for moment as the inertia control system kicked in to take the brunt of the G-force.
On the myriad of screens and controls, one scope showed the ship behind him was falling farther behind. Now is my chance, he thought. He pulled back hard on the flight control. The snub-nosed little fighter shot “upwards,” his intent being to go up then roll back and fly towards his pursuer. It never got that far.
As the little flat-wing ship climbed an alarm sounded.
“What?” he said, astonished. “Impossible!”
But it wasn’t. The alarm indicated a weapons lock. The pilot looked up just in time to see the incoming neutron missiles.
“Blue leader, eject! Eject!”
No time, he thought.
Strange they should address me so informally, he thought. And stranger these would be my last thoughts.
The missiles came closer still. Time slowed to a crawl as they touched the little ship, his Epsilon Class fighter, newest and best of the UC fighters.
“Alex Brown, pay attention this instant!” The voice sounded different, not panicky, commanding, insistent. And it seemed not in his helmet comm.
“Alex, if you don not answer me right now, you will spend the afternoon in detention.”
His world ended in fire as the ship exploded . . .
The sharp sound of a book falling flat on the floor startled him to the point of nearly falling out of his desk chair.
“What?” he exclaimed, looking up brown eyes wide at his history teacher. Mrs. Webriala was standing almost directly over him.
“Forty-two!” he said quickly. “1942. Winston Churchill!”
Mrs. Webriala straightened up to her impressive height and looked down at her pupil sitting sheepishly in his chair, an eyebrow raised over turquoise eyes, head tilted in his direction, short pointed ears out flat. Mrs. Webriala was a Huvolt, a fox-like creature that could walk upright as well as run on all four legs.
“No?” said Alex quietly. “Could you repeat the question?”
“The question was who is given credit as the founder of the United Colonies of Earth?”
“So, not Winston Churchill, then?” asked Alex, blushing furiously, his pale complexion doing nothing to hide it. “I did it again, didn’t I?” he asked, trying to regain his composure.
There were giggles and outright laughter from the other students in the classroom.
“Quiet!” came the command and was instantly followed.
“I’m sorry,” said Alex, shaking his head, longish auburn hair swirling a bit. “I’m really very sorry. I’ll try harder, I really will.”
“You will report to detention this afternoon in the library,” said the tall silver fox in the blue dress. Mrs. Webriala picked up the book she had dropped, then turned and walked back to the front of the classroom. “I will make sure Mr. Geffle knows to expect you,” she said in a flawless British accent of the type you only normally hear on the news.
Her accent was flawless and in English because of the translator unit in his amethyst earring. These units allow one person to understand another regardless of language differences.
“Michael Albert Wright,” said Alex.
Mrs. Webriala turned around. “Pardon?”
“Michael Albert Wright is given credit for founding the UCE,” Alex said with confidence. “In 2495.”
“That is correct,” said Mrs. Webriala. “But you are still going to detention.” She picked up a slim plastic looking square, her data pad, and tapped on the screen a few times. “Mr. Geffle knows you will be there.”
Peachy, he thought to himself. Just peachy. Mr. Geffle. Oh, joy. Now I’ll get to hear just how important this ancient history is. Why should I care? It’s been almost five hundred years since the UCE was founded. They’re probably planning the anniversary now, never mind it’s nine years off!
And the war. Oh, I’ll have to hear about the Great Intergalactic War, the one that nearly destroyed us all; how even old Earth wasn’t spared from some damage. Two hundred years! I can hear it now. Two hundred years of fighting, every civilization in four galaxies took up arms against each other.
Alex shifted in his plastic seat and picked up his stylus and began writing on his data pad. He began taking notes on the lesson Mrs. Webriala was trying so very hard to teach. Unable to keep still for long, he pulled at the sleeve of his blue uniform shirt.
My Academy uniform is shrinking, he thought. Next I’ll get a demerit for being out of uniform.And won’t that be just lovely. That would make fifteen this year. A record. Not just for me, he thought, but an Academy record. He smiled to himself. Sometimes I impress even myself.
Alex had to fight the urge to giggle. He pressed the heel of his left hand into his mouth and bit down to suppress the bubble of laughter that threatened to burst. He looked around the classroom with as much stealth as he could to make sure no one noticed his discomfiture.
No one seems to have noticed, he thought, getting control of himself. He looked around again at the other students, some of which he’d known from his first days at the Academy, ten years ago. Two more years and it’s off to OTC, he thought and a wave of excitement nearly sent him over the edge again.
Alex pulled himself together as the bell rang to sound the end of the period. He looked at the chalkboard at the end of the classroom. The large digital display had the notes for the lesson for all to see. Had he been paying attention he could have taken his time in getting the notes down to his data pad. As it was, he had not paid attention and now found himself scrambling to access the pad’s download interface. Alex tapped in the command to download the notes just as Mrs. Webriala deleted them.
Alex found himself holding his breath, waiting to see if he had beaten the delete command. His pad beeped to indicate successful download and he gave a barely audible “yes!” and saved the information.
“I should not allow you to download so freely, Alex,” said Mrs. Webriala, giving him a stern look. “I should deduct points for it.”
She was quiet for a moment and Alex thought she might be considering the possibility. Her looked changed to one of concern as did her tone as she chided him gently: “You are a better student that this, Alex. I expect you to show it from now on.”
Alex blinked in surprise. This was above mild praise from one such as Mrs. Webriala. He was quiet for a moment.
“Mrs. Webriala, I am truly sorry. I don’t mean to drift off like that. It is unintentional. I will try harder, honestly.”
“I am sure you will. Just remember, Alex, all the great artists were dreamers. Now run along before you are late for your next class.”
Alex left his history classroom with a new respect for his teacher. Was that praise he’d heard? She was not known for giving praise except in the most extreme circumstances. Maybe he had misunderstood something.
She likes me, he thought, befuddled. She actually likes me but can’t say so because it would be out of form. Well, now I guess I’ll have to pay attention.
Alex continued down the long hall maneuvering through the crowd of blue-uniformed students from all manner of species.
All these people, he thought. Centuries ago, we’d’ve been at each other’s throats. Dorani, Scetza, Naltis, Huvolt, Human, each of us students at the Academy, some of us bound for a life in service to the United Colonies. Some of us just bound for home to work the family farm.
I’m bound for my physics class, he thought lightly. Let’s see if I can stay awake this time.
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