Preview 1: Independent Flight

Short excerpt from Chapter 1:

Veronica looked at her reflection in the window, then breathed some frost onto it and traced the outline of a starship with her slender fingertip before the cabin heater wiped away the ice.

The subtle trace of her finger remained. Her mind’s eye filled in the details of the starship she had just left a few days prior, the mighty heavy cruiser SV Aquarius, pride of the Interstellar Navy. She had been Senior Officer Aboard during the ship’s six-month refit and the two months of shakedown that had followed, which entitled her to wear the coveted Red Jersey of a starship’s commanding officer until she was officially accepted into the ship’s company of Avenger, her new assignment. It was packed into her flight bag, next to the tablet containing her orders and a handful of congratulatory letters; today she wore the blue of an aerospace-qualified officer.

The carrier and her task group of fighters and escorts were a mere cluster of tiny chips of heat and light in the distance. They would rapidly be growing closer. She felt the subtle quiver of the shuttle’s warp engine reversing the focused spacetime distortion that propelled it, dropping velocity at over 3,000 meters per second-squared. She suppressed a chill of anticipation, knowing that the deck of a starship would soon be under her feet again.

She tapped her toes against the deck. The senior-most passenger was last-on and first-off of a shuttle, a tradition that dated back to the old Interplanetary Solar Space Agency back on Earth and Mars in the 21st Century. It was a perilous tradition; when accidents happened, first-off could either put an officer to safety or into harm’s way. But tradition nonetheless it was, and Veronica was hardly one to alter it on her own whim.

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