Double Dragon Publishing is now offering Tales of The Screaming Eagle in paperback! Mostly, Double Dragon is an e-book only publisher, but sales of the Star Run novel have been brisk. I am happy to know so many people like my book and am grateful to all my Star Run fans.
For those who haven’t read the novel, here is a sample of it. Happy reading:
“Set a blocking course. I want Cortez between the Salvation and the unknown ship. Shuttles are to remain with the Salvation and provide all possible protection. I want two drones programmed to deliver my report to Isis, the rest are to be prepped to launch with jump drives engaged but no destination programmed. Make it happen people!”
The Cortez maneuvered to shield the freighter and its over four hundred refugees. The unknown ship not only continued to close the distance, it launched a swarm of small fighter craft in the human ships’ direction. The jump point was twenty-seven minutes away at best speed. Once there, the Salvation would jump into hyperspace and disappear. In no time at all it would appear in the Alpha system. Then, it was hoped, the Confederation Member State of Isis would render assistance. The three navy shuttles would then dock with the Cortez, and it would jump out as well. At least that was the plan, but as they say, no plan ever survives the first shots of any battle.
Once in range, the Azanti ship began to spit plasma bolts at the Cortez while its fighters raked the Salvation. In less than a minute, Cortez lost the shuttle bay and the galley to the super-heated enemy weapons. Regina Corp.’s hull design was never intended to resist plasma cannons; humanity had not developed them yet. Whatever the enemy hit was instantly incinerated, and Burt’s team could only seal off the damage to prevent the ship’s oxygen from venting into space.
Kilroy watched the Salvation get hit by the enemy fighters. He also saw one of the Salvation’s engines explode and fragments trail in the ship’s wake. Then he felt a shudder, as a plasma bolt ripped through the Cortez’s gym sending all the fine equipment into space.
Captain Cho Li wasn’t going to take any of this laying down. “Launch all drones! Send the two with my report to the jump point. The rest are to screen the Salvation. When enemy craft are within ten kilometers, activate the drone’s jump drives!”
Kilroy heard the order and turned to Dumire. “Lieutenant, what the hell is that all about? Unless they’re at a jump point, the jump drives will catastrophically fail. Space-time will fold in on itself. What’s the point?”
“The point Matterson, is that when they do, the ripple will destroy the drones and everything within a ten kilometer radius or more. The captain is laying a mine field.” Dumire watched the tactical display as the drones deployed, and Cortez launched a missile barrage at the big enemy ship.
The war cruiser’s numerous plasma cannons shot down most of the missiles. The few that weren’t hit, seemed to strike an invisible wall and explode harmlessly. “Holy shit! They have a force field!” Gunner Gift exclaimed.
Kilroy saw it too. Force fields were only theoretically possible to human science, but not to the Azanti. He also watched the action around the Salvation. The drones destroyed a few enemy fighters but the shuttles were fighting in vain. The brave shuttle pilots engaged the faster, more powerful enemy fighters but did no real damage. The Azanti fighters were simply too well armored for the Navy lasers to have much effect. The shuttles were ripped apart by the foe’s plasma cannons. All three shuttles and their crews were gone within two horrible minutes. The enemy fighters now had a clear shot on the wounded heavy freighter, and its cargo of refugees.
“Concentrate all weapons systems on the enemy fighters! We will defend that freighter at all costs!” At the captain’s order, all four of Cortez’s laser turrets swung away from the enemy cruiser and started shooting at the Azanti fighters. A missile barrage that had been programmed to launch at the cruiser was automatically redirected as well.
“Sir,” Chief Hauss spoke up, “if all our weapons are protecting the Salvation, what will we do to protect ourselves?”
“Nothing.” Cho Li answered.
The missiles launched, and Kilroy cheered when he saw a handful of the small enemy ships explode. The Salvation got closer to the jump point but was not there yet. At current speed the refugees would escape to hyperspace in less than five minutes. Then, Kilroy heard the deafening boom of the main bridge exploding above him. All his redundant controls suddenly became primary. Everyone on the main bridge was now dead.
As Captain Cho Li’s plump body drifted into space, Lieutenant Dumire assumed command of the CJS Cortez. Or at least, what was left of it.
“Matterson, plot a course to intercept the big enemy ship. I want maximum thrust now! Gift, I want all lasers to keep targeting the enemy fighters. If we have any more missiles, launch ‘em now. God damn it, those fuckers are not going to kill any more civilians!”
Kilroy plotted the course. He wasn’t an idiot; he knew what kind of intercept Dumire was intending. She might as well have shouted banzai! This was a kamikaze run. He entered the numbers in the navigation comp anyway.
Taking a dry gulp he said, “Course plotted, you have the stick.”
Dumire began to steer the Cortez on its final vector but didn’t get far. The ship was ripped apart by another plasma barrage a moment later. The lights went out and the ship shook with the explosions. Monitors were ripped off the bulkheads by the concussion, and the artificial gravity went offline. In the flickering light of the navigation controls, Kilroy saw small globes of blood drift past his face.
Gift was dead. A fire extinguisher had been knocked off its bracket and smashed open the gunner’s skull. Kilroy unbuckled himself from his seat and floated over to the pressure door. It had been warped by the explosion and wouldn’t budge. Lieutenant Dumire and Kilroy were trapped in the disabled auxiliary bridge of a dying ship.