Date Published: 9/17/2020 Science Fiction
The enemy wanted him. The galaxy needed him.
Sixty years ago Nolvarics nearly conquered the solar system. They were defeated by starfighters.
Konran dreamed of becoming a starfighter, but he blew his one shot five years ago. Now his life is stuck in neutral as a glorified rock hauler.
He didn’t expect to find Nolvarics lurking within the solar system. They didn’t expect him to survive the confrontation.
Now all eyes are on Konran as he is plunged into a whirlwind of space battles, peril, and conspiracy. The Nolvarics will stop at nothing to catch him, dead or alive.
Can Konran rise up and claim his destiny, or will the galaxy fall?
Finally, his target comes into view. Barely visible despite the sparkling backdrop of one hundred million Milky Way stars, an icy, gravitationally bonded cluster of space rocks emerges through the inky darkness of deep space: one of a hundred Nolvaric operating bases lurking out here in the Kuiper Belt.
Some of the ice rocks loom large with the diameter of Neptune’s Nereid. Others glisten like meteors, swirling dangerously throughout the chaotic cluster on rapid, angular orbits. Ambient light is scarce at 5.9 billion kilometers from the sun, but Konran has no trouble seeing. Holographic overlays enhance his vision, displaying the objects teeming about by rendering their infrared emissions and quantum gravity distortions. Augmented so, the scene almost looks like a video game from the ’80s—the 2180s, to be precise.
Nolvaric starfighters converge on Konran like bloodthirsty mosquitos at sunset. With four wings like crab legs, pointed fuselages like herons’ beaks, and shark-fin masts protruding from the top and bottom, the enemy starfighters glint like demon spiders against the galactic backdrop. Known as Askeras, these are the nimblest, nastiest, most infamous of all Nolvaric starfighters. No longer able to ignore the escalating starfighter threat, Konran’s plasma cannons unleash upon his foe. Mounted in rotating turrets at his Sparrowhawk’s wingtips and nose, the cannons gyrate like shoulders in sockets, auto-tracking Nolvaric targets and spraying plasmic death in all directions. Enemies surround him, and Konran jolts and jags through their ranks. Askeras explode like firecrackers as he evades their return fire.
Passing through their midst, he stabilizes his trajectory and slows down just enough, letting them get close. The Askeras flock behind him, closing in as if for the kill.
Works every time, he thinks with a grin.
Konran inverts his Sparrowhawk, and his cockpit and craft reorient in an instant, flipping his point of view toward his aft thruster. In the same instant, his wingtip and nose-tip plasma cannons transmute from guns to gravito-nuclear rocket engines, providing him maneuvering capability as his formerly aft thruster assumes the role of megacannon.
Konran’s fingers find the targeting solution before his computer signals a lock.
He pulls the trigger, unleashing a concentrated kiloton blast of plasmic devastation from what moments before had been his backside. Fifteen Askeras disintegrate as forty more scatter. Konran reverts his Sparrowhawk, his weapons and propulsion systems resume their standard roles, and he rockets once more toward the gravitationally bonded cluster of chaos that was the Nolvaric operating base.
His Sparrowhawk careens around the diameter of an ice-encrusted, Texas-size rock, skirting no more than a dozen meters above its surface. More crablike Askeras descend upon him, and he releases his orbit, quickly dodging through a cloud of man-size space debris before losing the Askeras between a scattering of larger space rocks.
Gravity switches constantly within the agitated anarchy of asteroids, but Konran adjusts effortlessly, surfing the gravitational gradients like he was born for this kind of action. His guns tear through another pack of Askeras as he winds around an oblong icicle half the size of Portugal. And then there it is: a glowing, pulsating ice rock at the center of the swirling chaos—the heart of the Nolvaric operating base.
It rotates there, seemingly slower than the surrounding bedlam. It beckons to Konran, washing his cockpit in an ethereal, incandescent green. More Askeras focus on him, and he diverts all power to his aft thruster, jetting forward on the power of a thousand sequential gravito-nuclear explosions.
This will be the only attack run, the one chance to win or die.
Konran inverts his Sparrowhawk. His cockpit flips and his craft reorients in preparation for the killing stroke. A green light appears at the edge of the energy source, then another and another, revealing the deadliest of the Nolvaric defenses: concentrated plasmic energy bundles propelled like cannonballs from the heart itself. The green plasma balls fill the vacuous space before him, each trying to end him. They destabilize as they get close, exploding with vicious stored energy and rocking his Sparrowhawk with relentless plasmic shockwaves. Konran dodges one, then ten, then fifty of the blasts, intent on his target.
His megacannon comes within range, and he depresses the trigger.
A column of orange plasma leaps from his Sparrowhawk: a kiloton of destruction inbound on the target as if someone had just hooked a firehose up to a hurricane and funneled in all the lightning at once. The green Nolvaric heart shudders, wracking and cracking beneath the blast. Konran’s sensor displays indicate massive fissures forming within the glowing green asteroid—but it isn’t dead yet. His trigger finger itches as his megacannon cycles and he dances between waves of green plasma balls.
One more well-placed shot will complete the job.
Konran knows the spot, feeling it more than seeing it within the monstrosity of a space rock. He takes aim, angling slightly with a careful boost from his dual nose-tip cannons—which, inverted so, are presently providing propulsion to his Sparrowhawk.
He squeezes the trigger.
And with an enormous green flash, a Nolvaric plasma ball smashes straight into his cockpit. And everything goes black.
About the Author
Daniel Seegmiller grew up loving Star Wars, Mech Warriors, and all things sports. He started out as an English major before switching to his other love, science. He has an MS in mechanical engineering and has worked on everything from biomechanics, to machine learning, to defense technology.
Daniel loves dreaming up awesome adventures…like, literally, he wakes up in the middle of the night with the best ideas. Most of the stories he writes are for his kids. Starfighter Rising is his debut novel.
He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and three squirrelly children.
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