This is from a novel I’m going to start in the not too distant future. Thought I’d see what people thought about this beginning. It’s different than I first wrote, but I like it better.
It was boring without war.
That’s the thought that wound its way through Major James Blish’s consciousness as he looked at the massive viewscreens of NORAD. Ever since the end of the Cold War and then the turning of the tide in the War on Terror, there’d be very little for him to do each day. With every aircraft, satellite and orbital vehicle tracked from launch of landing, there wasn’t much anywhere on Earth he didn’t know anything about, which took away and since of mystery each day.
While most officers in his shoes would be thankful for the peace and quiet and happily drudge through day after day of it, Blish wasn’t one of those types. In fact, if it were up to him, there’d be a conflict going on somewhere that called for American military might to be used to its maximum shock and awe value.
Blish tapped a finger on the top of his desk, keeping time with his heartbeat, while mentally taking note of the location of each of the military’s GPS and communications satellites. Boring or not, it wouldn’t do for him to lose track of one and end up with a fighter wing, or task group, being cut off from the chain of command or not know where they were. That would qualify as a Bad Thing and create an unnecessary headache at the same time.
“Major,” Lieutenant Mishi Korokita said. “I’ve got an unidentified object.”
Despite what the American public was told, the infamous ‘unidentified flying object’ existed and reared its ugly head far more often than believed. Many times it ended up being nothing more than a piece of orbital debris that NORAD lost track of, or either a top secret aircraft being developed at Dreamland or a half-assed attempt by terrorists to use a drone. Unfortunately, in Blish’s opinion, the nut jobs’ claims that the government was covering everything up made it impossible for him to tell anyone the truth and be believed.
The dumbasses, he thought.
“Where’s its location?”
“It’s on a direct trajectory to strike the dark side of the moon.”
“Let me see!”
The screen before him switched from a view of earth to one that displayed an area that reached ten times further out than the orbit of the moon. On the edge of the screen, barely within detection range, a red triangle marked the unknown object.
“That’s too small to be an asteroid,” he said.
“No heat or energy sources detected,” Kirokito said.
Another misconception people have about the military was that decisions were cut and dry and that the chain of command made sure response times were lightning fast. A lot of times that couldn’t be further from the truth and this was one of those moments. Up there, millions of miles from earth, could be either the biggest threat to mankind or something that wasn’t worth breaking a sweat over and no real way to make a fully informed decision.
Send out an unnecessary alert and I’ll look like a putz, Blish thought, do nothing and it’s a real emergency and I’ll go down with Custer.
He pushed a button on his headset. “Get me the General.”
Now that the ball started rolling, there wasn’t a thing Blish could do not but go along for the ride. If things were a false alarm, then the General would probably chew him out and then go back to sleep. However, if he were right then there’d be a commendation put into his file and at this time it proved to be a 50-50 proposition.
Thirty minutes later General Josephine Winters strode into the room with her three adjuncts in tow. While the aides appeared to have been up all night, the commanding officer moved with the energy of a well-rested person. Many years ago, while Winters was still a Colonel, someone stuck the nickname ‘Fireball’ on her due to her dervish of energy and in the two years he’d been assigned to NORAD, Blish witnessed the General’s energy first hand several times.
“What do you have?” Winters asked, dispensing with the niceties.
“Frankly, General, we don’t know.”
“Let me see it.”
“It’s too small to be an asteroid but it’s too far out to be a probe.”
Winters started to chew on the end of her thumb and then stare at the screen. In Blish’s opinion the woman started to waste precious time but he couldn’t say so. No one questioned that woman and kept their rear-and career-in one piece.
“Contact Commander Mishikotoko and have her send a team out of investigate,” Winters said.
“Tell Commander Mishikotoko I expect an ETA on their arrival with the target.”
Commander Lisa Mishikotoko grimaced as she disconnected from the communication with NORAD. A happy soul, it took a lot to make get her down but this fit into the category. General Winters proved to be the overall pain in the ass that colleagues had warned Lisa about when the General was named NORAD commander.
What made things worse was the woman’s tendency to send them out to check on any object that didn’t fit a tight profile. Each time they were sent out added to the risk that her command would be discovered. And if there was one thing Lisa didn’t want to happen, that was it.
Moon base Alpha’s tenth anniversary just happened last week and it’d been passed without any recognition from Earth. Built secretly on the dark side of the moon, it practiced both espionage on the earth and provided a defense against any foreign body targeting the home world.
“Looks like the Old Lady wants us to go take a look,” she murmured.
“I’d love to know what makes this target special. We have meteorites hit around here daily.” Lieutenant Adam Traxx said.
“Damned if I know, but no one dares cross Hurricane Winters.”
“It’s going to be a six hour mission. Three out and three back-and that’s if there’s nothing to investigate.”
“We’ve taken on longer,” Mishikotoko said. “Let’s just get it over with. Take Alpha team with you.”
Lisa glanced at the picture of her sister and brother she’d hung on the wall. Simply seeing it reminded her of why she’d accepted command of Moon base given that it was an indefinite term of duty. In the past year the base destroyed three comets and a meteor-all without the people on the surface even knowing the threat existed.
I just hope all this risk is worth it, she thought.
The blue star raged, with flares exploding as far outwards as Earth orbits the sun, causing the April to tamp down the viewscreen’s sensitivity. Even with that help, the people on the bridge struggled with the intensity of the light and the processor in Talia’s worked overtime to overcome the issue.
Talia De’Zahna wouldn’t have believed it a year ago but the humans that crewed the Valiant were now functioning better than any Gahl crew she’d served with during the War. Perhaps the ordeal she and the crew went through stopping the Wraith and Cabal from destroying mankind had worked like a forge and strengthened them.
A familiar irritation started to gnaw at her gut and it took all of the warrior’s self-control to keep it at bay. With peace having settled over the galaxy, it’d been nearly a year since she’d seen a battle and the withdrawal pains were getting worse and worse each day.
Thousands of years ago when the boffins created Talia and her sisters, they’d built into the four warriors’ DNA that an endorphin would release while they were in battle. Its effect on them was similar to when a runner hit the ‘high’ during a race but many times stronger and far more addictive. Keeping her and her sisters willing to fight instead of rebelling had driven the politicians to take such a course of action and Talia continued to pay the price for their actions.
So they made us drug addicts, she thought bitterly. Some control.
Just thinking about what happened proved enough to allow the thoughts of the War to come back to the forefront of her mind. Trillions of Gahl died at the hands of the Dragus, a cybernetic race that turned the civilians they encountered into biomechanical soldier monstrosities. For twenty thousand years she and her sisters fought them, and were cloned eleven times, until Gahlza finally fell.
And we were supposed to prevent that from happening, she thought. As if that were possible.