Authors: Evan Currie
Copyright © 2011 Evan C. Currie
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Well here we are, Ladies and Gentlemen, my third self published novel. On Silver Wings is NOT the sequel to Odyssey One in case any of you were under that impression. I tried to make it clear on Amazon, but it's understandable that some of you will still make that error as the two are quite similar in genre. Normally I don't write two stories of the same genre at the same time, but in the case of On Silver Wings and Odyssey One, I started OSW at a point in time when I didn't think Odyssey was going to go anywhere. Shows what I know, huh?
If you did come in expecting the Odyssey sequel, I am sorry for the confusion. That said, I think you'll like OSW if you liked Odyssey, so give it a try and let me know what you think. On Silver Wings is mostly from the middle of my writing life, more experienced than when I wrote Odyssey, but hopefully I've learned a few things since then too. For those of you who didn't appreciate the editing issues in Odyssey, well they should be cleared up here. That said, this is still a volunteer and personal edit job, so it may not be perfect. Why have I not used pro editing yet? Because my first decent check from Odyssey One doesn't clear for another two weeks and I'm flat broke. OSW will likely be the last book I ever put out without pro editing, however, so there's that. Still, I think we nailed most of the issues in this one, if you find anything that really bugs you feel free to contact me and let me know. I've left contact information after the novel, and I do enjoy chatting with readers so don't be shy.
At any rate, I hope you enjoy On Silver Wings as much as I did while writing it.
Terminal velocity sucked.
That was the only thought in Sergeant Sorilla Aida’s mind as she picked herself out of the hole that she’d dug in the soft loamy ground when she hit. Her head was still spinning, and the only thing she could hear was the ringing in her ears from the near miss at eighteen thousand feet.
Sergeant Aida reporting in
,” She mouthed the words without sound, the implanted chips in her cheek and jaw translating the movement of her muscles and bone into communication that was compressed and pulsed out in a micro-burst transmission. There was no response, either through the audio channel or through the OLED Heads Up Display (HUD) that had been inserted into her corneas.
Her threat board was clear, however, which was a damned good thing. The way she felt, she probably wasn’t a match for a terrorist, let alone a real soldier.
Any Recon Team Alpha members, report in
,” She again spoke silently, leaning against a towering tree, popping the seals on her helmet and letting it fall to the ground. ‘
I say again, any team members report in.
There was no response over the digital comm, and no sign of her unit’s transponders on any of her systems either.
“Well hell.” She muttered aloud, eyes dully looking out into the jungle without seeing.
Her stomach chose that moment to rebel, and spattered the ground with what was left of her last meal.
Nauseous, headache… can’t focus. Yeah, I’ve got a concussion for sure.
It had all gone to hell after the team had been committed. There had been no way to turn back, no way to regroup. Intel had screwed up, that was the only answer. Aida just wished that she were surprised, but it wasn’t the first time in her career that it had happened. Hell, if she were lucky, it might not be the last.
She coughed, blood flecks spattering her lips as she convulsed with the spasms wracking her body. Though it might take more than a little luck this time, she decided ruefully. She must have dug in pretty hard when she hit, probably had internal injuries.
” She mouthed again silently, ‘
An instant later the computer in her combat suit was humming happily away as she lay back and tried not to move too much. Her eyes glowed faintly as the HUD lit up, the thin film of organic light emitting diodes (OLED) in her cornea displaying the results of the scan.
She wasn’t hurt beyond the suit’s ability to do some good, thankfully. The internal systems producing near infrared light at varying intensities, which were feeding energy directly to her cellular structure in order to promote healing as a secondary command was issued and she felt the warmth spread deep into her, biological bacteria cued to mobilize in support of her white blood cells and other bodily defenders. Sorilla just lay back as it went to work, wondering what had happened to her team.
They had jumped together, drifting into planetary orbit from well past the Lagrange Five point, suits on minimum life support as they made the eight hour approach on momentum alone. Nothing should have been able to detect them in the Carbon Nano-Mesh of their combat suits, and it seemed that it had worked according to plan.
They’d made entry on schedule, burning up their ablative armor as they fell through the thickening atmosphere of the planet, looking for all the universe like a small handful of debris burning up from the friction. Everything by the numbers, right up until they hit twenty thousand feet.
The air itself had exploded around them then, brilliant white flashes of light that tore the sky apart around them.
No smoke, no trail to follow back to their source, the fire just exploded from nowhere in their midst. Icons had vanished from her HUD, each one representing someone she’d trained and lived with for over a decade, and Aida’s eyes were coated with moisture as she closed them. She’d been caught in a near miss that had blown her completely off course and knocked out even through the armor of her suit.
She remembered waking up when her chute deployed on its own, jerked around by the sudden deceleration. She’d opened her eyes just in time to see the green canopy of the jungle rushing up at her and then she hit the branches, snapping through the foliage on her way to the ground, and everything went dark again as a splitting burst of agonizing light tore through her head.
Sorilla slumped as consciousness left her again, oblivious to the continued operation of her combat suit as it went about its attempt to heal her injuries.
“Are you sure? I can’t figure out where we are...”
“It’s this way.”
Two men cut their way through the undergrowth, the lead man grimly hacking at the thick vines as the one following him grumbled and complained.
“Don’t know why we’re out here anyway, you saw the explosions... everyone did. Nothing made it down. Not the army, not the supplies... We’re on our own.”
The lead man didn’t reply as he continued forging on through the undergrowth, hacking away with one steady swing after another until he pushed out into a clearing. He paused at the edge, causing the man following too close behind to run into him.
“Hey! What the hell!?”
The voice was calm, no inflection in it, but it stopped the second man cold.
The clearing was mostly empty, but only mostly. Against a thick tree about twenty feet away a figure in mottled black and grey was resting, resting or something else. The face and armor were clearly female, her eyes closed as she lay unmoving against the thick Hayden tree at her back.
“Oh Jeez...” The second man muttered, “Is she...?”
The first, a man named Reed frowned, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”
Reed stepped fully into the clearing, noting that some distance from the tree there was a helmet, probably with a pressure seal from the looks of it. It too was mottled in random shades of gray, looking like it had passed through a fire and been burnt up. There was no glass visor, just a solid black shield over where the face would go.
Impersonal. Intimidating. Almost evil looking.
He stopped by the helmet, eyes casting to either side, and then finally looking up.
“We’ll have to get that,” Reed said after a moment.
“Get what??” The second man, a baker by the name of Thomas Burns, asked as he followed Reed’s gaze, “Oh holy crap!”
Above them, tangled in the canopy about eighty feet up, was a black case that looked to be about the size of a coffin in length and width, but only about a foot thick. They could see a hole torn through the normally tightly woven canopy, exposing the blue green sky above.
“How the hell are we going to get that!?”
Reed ignored the question and moved instead to the unmoving figure. He knelt by her, noting the close cropped hair and the surprisingly unmarred skin that was exposed from her neck up. He’d have expected someone to look much worse after what she must have been through. He checked her pulse, then frowned thoughtfully as he pried open first one chocolate colored eye, and then the other.
“She’s alive. Looks concussed,” He said. “Help me get the case down, we’re taking her back to camp.”
When the world came back to Sergeant Aida she was again able to move, though it wasn’t pleasant. Sorilla resisted the urge to activate the military grade implants she had implanted in her body and instead forced herself up to a sitting position with nothing but her own muscles and determination. Nausea assaulted her as she did, making her head swim, and she groaned silently.
She must have hit her head on the way down.
Any hit that could do this through her helmet would have squashed her head open like a melon if not for the armor. She forced her eyes open, even as the urge to vomit persisted, and looked around carefully.
It wasn’t much. In the dim light that filtered in, she could tell that it wasn’t much more than a hut, really. The sort of thing that still existed deep in the jungles on Earth, among tribesmen who either resisted the pressures to join the modern world, or were protected from them by more ‘progressive’ governments and corporate entities.
She’d spent more than a few years of her life in similar surroundings, usually right before or right after someone tried to kill her.
The more things change,
She sighed as she rubbed her eyes, trying to keep that sensation of motion at bay so she wouldn't throw up, and queried her on board processor silently, ‘
Proc, Log. Motion. Since last command
The little computer obeyed in its eternally cheerful way, showing her a map of her movements as gathered from the GPS satellite network that still hung in orbit, as well as dead reckoning and inertial systems.
Fifty miles east north east of her ‘landing’ point.
Someone had performed a lot of work to get her here, dragging her through the jungle around them. Unless they had emergency response vehicles, of course. Somehow, though, that didn’t seem the case. She lay back, still talking silently to her constant companion, dumb though the tiny computer was, ‘
Proc, Med Scan.
The scan ran through again, giving much the same information as before, only this time it noted the concussion with a bland notation warning her not to fall asleep.
She killed the readout, the glow fading from her eyes as the twin displays returned to their clear state, and proceeded to do her own little medical scan. She sat up again, head still swimming, but she forced the sensation away as she put light pressure on her ribs, arms, then legs. The sharp pain in her side told her that the medical scan was right on the money there, but it wasn’t as serious as the computer reported.
She could deal.
Sorilla grunted with the exertion, but managed to swing her legs off the makeshift bunk she had been left on, and planted her feet firmly on the floor.
,’ she mouthed silently, her eyes glowing again as the system shifted readiness states, ‘