Read Chapter One

I want to thank those who made comments on the blog about the production process. As a thank you I present part of the first chapter in anticipation of Icarus Falling release. Enjoy, and don't forget to get the book when it comes out to read the whole story:

Chapter One:
Long Journey From Orbit

A burst of light raced past the jet as the pilot watched with amazement. He had never seen anything like it in his life. Over the radio he said, “I have the bogey at my one o-clock. Following in pursuit.”

"Stay at a distance and do not engage,” said the officer in charge at the ground command center, Colonel MacKay who lived for moments like this, chasing after the unknown in hopes of advancing military technology. Colleagues thought he was strange, but he quickly advanced in rank and position. Black operations saw potential and hired him for more restricted missions. Today the mission included chasing unidentified flying objects detected nearby an airbase.

“Man, that bogey is fast,” the pilot reported back. “I’ll do my best to keep up and continue tracking.”

Colonel MacKay checked in with his ground radar operator, “Where is the bogey located at this moment?”

“Twenty miles from our staging position.”

“Good, this might just work. Keep me posted on the tracking updates. We don’t want to lose this one.”

“Yes sir,” the radar operator said, keeping close attention to the blips on his screen.

The relatively small alien craft looked like a bright star or airborne searchlight. It was slightly larger than a jet pilot’s cockpit and continually changed illumination patterns of blinking white, red, blue, and green. Other similar lights were seen earlier in the sky, but had long since raced away. Fully armed jets targeted for attention this single craft like a pack of carnivorous hunters picking out prey.

Within ten minutes time the small craft had already changed course three times. It became difficult to continue keeping up with the twists and speed increases. Air Force pilots had a hard time staying in position. Surprisingly, the craft didn’t leave them alone in the sky to contemplate what they witnessed. It was waiting for something.

“Sir,” the radio operator said to Colonel MacKay, “I’m getting another bogey from outside the target area. This one looks much larger.”

“How large?”

“Perhaps, a quarter of a mile long,” the radar operator couldn’t believe what he picked up. “This is huge.”

“I don’t care about the larger contact,” Colonel MacKay said, leaning in to get a closer look at the radar signature. “It is too big to take down.”

The radar operator warned, “The smaller one is closing in on it. Could be a docking ship.”

Colonel MacKay picked up the radio, “All pilots, keep the bogey in target zone. Do not let it escape.”

A flurry of acknowledgments sounded back. Two strings of jets roared over the skies to head off the small craft. They set up a virtual wall between it and the larger craft, keeping it from escaping. Despite all advantages the smaller craft had, it didn’t reach beyond the staging area.

Seeming to recognize the trap that was set, the smaller craft completely turned around. It darted toward a higher elevation to get out of the way of oncoming F-22 Raptors. In the process of turning and climbing, the small craft hit a jet that flew above trajectory.

The pilot of the craft exclaimed in distress, “Mayday, mayday. The bogey hit my plane. Repeat, the bogey hit my plane.” Warning sirens erupted inside the cockpit, making it hard to hear any response to his cry for help. “It clipped my left wing. There is a loss of maneuverability. Going down. Going down.” Reaching forward, he grabbed onto the ejection handle and pulled hard, “Ejecting!” The cockpit window blew out and his seat shot high into the night air. A parachute tripped opened with a violent thrust, letting the pilot slowly drift to the ground.

The jet was less fortunate. It plummeted to the ground in a huge fireball that brightened the general area of its crash. Smoke billowed up and marked its last position. Rescue personnel immediately scrambled to retrieve the pilot and clean up the broken mess.

Noticing the commotion from the downed jet, Colonel MacKay asked over the radio, “Do we still have the bogey?”

A pilot still in pursuit responded, “Command, we still have the bogey in sight. Climbing elevation to match its location.”

Colonel MacKay gave out a sigh of relief having felt certain the small craft escaped the trap. He looked at the radar for any confirmation it was still within the strike zone. The radar operator pointed out the green blip showing where it was in relation to Air Force formations. They were closing in and keeping it from meeting up with the larger craft.

On the ground were air-to-air missile teams ready for their part in the operation. Col. MacKay checked with them, “Strike Zone One, Bogey is nearing your position. Watch for it and set guidance systems to lock-on. ETA in less than five minutes. Air Group is setting priorities.”

“This is Strike Zone One,” said a crackling voice over the radio, “Our radar confirms target. Initiating triangulation coordinates.”

“Launch with positive lock on bogey.”

“Positive lock ranges inconsistent. Can’t let loose with negative.”

Colonel MacKay wasn’t worried about getting a direct hit. It had to be close enough to cause damage. Complete destruction negated the purpose of the mission. “Permission for launch set at best guess.”

“Permission for best guess lock-launch noted Sir,” a switch soldier said. “Do we have at will?”

There was no answer at first. Colonel MacKay checked information on his own radar. The small alien craft represented by a green tint moved swiftly across the screen. Other blips representing Air Force craft looked comparatively sluggish. The unidentified craft made rings around them.

“Strike Zone One ground launch asking again for attack permission.”

Colonel MacKay hesitated to answer back, but the small craft eventually entered the intended parameters. “Launch at will and best guess.”

“At will acknowledged, Command.” The small craft continued to make elaborate changes in direction, elevation, and speed. Launch control wasn’t sure if they could get any useful lock on the target. Still, they had a mission to perform. The minimum accessible lock was found and the missiles engaged. Grey trails of smoke lifted up behind tiny yellow fireballs. At first it looked like the missiles might actually hit the erratic object, but at the last second it veered too quickly off course. Explosions could be seen and heard for miles as missiles detonated.

“Did we get it?” Colonel MacKay asked with excitement.

“Negative,” answered ground and air attendant.

Colonel MacKay checked the radar to reorient where the small craft might have gone. He saw the blips indicating Air Force positions, but there seemed to be no sign of the pursuit subject. It was as if the craft had gone invisible.

The radar operator noticed the concerned look on Colonel MacKay’s face. He searched the radar frantically for any sign of the small craft, but didn’t see it. “Sorry Colonel. Nothing on radar. It seems to have left our range of influence.”

“The larger craft? Has that left as well?”

“Sorry,” the radar operator said, continuing to scan the screen, “both of them . . . vanished.” He couldn’t think of a better word to use.

“They must have been toying with us. Maybe they were testing our resolve and capabilities. No matter, we were doing the same.” Colonel MacKay took one last look at the radar screen for any hope. There wasn’t any forthcoming, “Carry on and keep me informed of any new contacts.” He left for his office to write up a report. The immediate mission failed, although valuable information was acquired.