by Laurence Moroney
GENRE: YA Sci-Fi
After conflicts in Korea, Pakistan and the Middle East turned nuclear, the world stood on the eve of destruction. Realizing that we only have this one precious planet containing all of humanity, the United Nations pulled us back from the brink, and started a new, multinational effort to conquer space. Many years later, the peak of achievement for any young person is to be admitted to the Space Academy. Previously available only to a precious few, it has recently opened enrollment to anybody who can meet their strenuous entry criteria. Space Cadets is the story of the first African-American girl, Aisha Parks, to enter into the academy, where she learns that the more some things change, the more they stay the same, and despite the honorable intentions of the academy, there are some dark secrets being kept – secrets that could be the end of us all.
It never failed to give her a thrill when she saw the moonscape rush by underneath her ship, and the blue curve of Earth rise above it. Aisha smiled at its beauty.
Down there, girls her age were wondering about homecoming dances, and what dress they’d wear, or which boy would ask them out. She was much happier here, piloting her ship, zipping at breakneck speeds across the Moon, and getting ready to break into deep space.
“I think I see them,” said David, her navigator and co-pilot, sitting in one of the wing pods to her right. “Two-seven-zero karem one-nine-eight.”
“Confirmed,” came the clipped voice of Soo-Kyung, her gunner. Aisha glanced to the pod on her left and her eyes met Soo-Kyung’s. The Korean girl smiled and nodded.
Aisha always wanted a visual confirmation. Comm lines could be hacked and voices faked. Soo-Kyung knew this instinctively. That’s what made them a great team.
“Okay,” said Aisha. “Weapons hot. Let’s check them out.”
She punched in the coordinates, and the ship turned towards their target.
“Visual range in five seconds,” said David.
“I see them,” Aisha replied. Her heads up display started to light up with targets. Squares projected on her canopy, wrapping tiny dots that could easily be mistaken for stars to the naked eye.
“That’s a lot of ships,” she said, awe sneaking into her voice.
“That’s a bloody awful lot of ships,” said David.
Soo-Kyung was business as always. “Orders?”
“Can you confirm ship type?”
“They are mostly type-three fighters. About eighty of them.”
“A single mothership. That’s the target.”
“No other fighters?”
“A couple of type-ones, but hard to tell with all the movement.”
The fighters were moving around the mothership, following what looked like random patterns, making it hard to get a radar lock.
“Are they moving to intercept?”
“David, probe the edge of their defense shield.”
His gentle voice sounded in her earpiece. “Yes, Sir.”
David took the ship forward slowly, while Soo-Kyung watched the behavior of the enemy fighters. They knew from experience that these ships could turn from defense to offense in the blink of an eye. If they didn’t react, they could find themselves surrounded and destroyed in seconds.
“We are at the edge of previous attack ranges,” said Soo-Kyung. “Recommend that we hold at this position.”
The ship halted, and they floated in space, watching the enemy.
“Any update on ship types, David?”
“The best I got is maybe two or three type-ones, the rest are definitely type-three.”
She wished she had read the spec books more closely, but was glad David was there. “Turning radius of type-threes?”
“Two hundred degrees,” he answered, almost in reflex.
“Distance of fighters from the mothership?”
“Average about three hundred clicks.”
Soo-Kyung raised an eyebrow. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Yes,” said Aisha. “Full frontal assault, all shields on front.”
“If we leave our back exposed--”
“Hopefully they won’t get a chance. Maximum throttle, straight at the mothership, direct all energy to front shields.”
“Including lasers. We’re on bullets and torpedoes. Can you do it?”
She heard the smile in Soo-Kyung’s voice. “Done.”
“Good. And fire at will.”
“David. Punch course in.”
“Manual control to me.”
“Here goes nothing!”
Aisha punched the program, and she felt the craft lurch as they accelerated forward. She continued its burn, getting faster and faster as they approached the enemy ships.
“Ships turning to intercept.”
She saw the enemy ships swarming to intercept. Suddenly their random patterns stopped, and they turned, almost as one, bearing down on her. They opened fire, but the forward shields held.
“Intercept in five seconds,” said Soo-Kyung. Aisha marveled at her ability to stay calm, and it seemed the more stressful the situation, the calmer she was.
And just like that they flew through the squadrons of enemy fighters, on a course straight for the mothership.
“They’re turning to intercept.”
Time seemed to slow down in her mind. The mothership approached weapons range at a painful crawl. The enemy fighters, now behind her, were slowly turning to follow them, with a clear shot at Aisha’s tail. She’d turned off their lasers, directing their energy to the shields, so they’d need to be close for ballistic weapons to be effective.
It was going to be tight. Once the enemy fighters had turned around, the back of Aisha’s fighter was exposed. The lead ones had almost turned, and were ready to open fire.
But then Soo-Kyung had her target locked and opened up with everything she had on the mothership. Direct hits, but the ship stayed intact.
A hit on their right wing made the ship lurch.
“Now would be a good time, Soo-Kyung.”
Aisha looked to her left, seeing her friends’ face deep in concentration. Another torpedo launched, hitting a module to the rear of the mothership's bridge. A small explosion was followed by several large ones, but before the ship was destroyed, Aisha’s ship was hit again. This time right in the engines.
Aisha felt her ship lurch. Red lights all over her console. The reactor had taken a direct hit. It was about to go critical. Her heart was beating hard. She reached for the eject buttons, hesitating long enough to see the mothership go up in a ball of flame.
The moment’s hesitation was enough.She felt the ship lurch as the reactor gave out. Her mind slowed as the white flash enveloped them. She had enough time to realize, with resignation, that she was dead. Both co-pilots too.
The simulator door opened, and Captain Simms’ craggy face looked in at her.
“You’re dead. All of you. Again,” he said. Disapproval in his voice. “I thought you guys were better than that.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Laurence Moroney is the author of more books than he’s prepared to admit. After several best selling programming books, his first Young Adult novel “The Fourth World” became a #1 book on Amazon Kindle, spawned two sequels “The Million Year Journey” and “The Legend of the Locust”, and is currently being shopped around studios for a potential movie. “Space Cadets” is his latest, a cutting edge science fiction novel, based on real science that starts a new series charting out humanity’s course to the stars. He’s presently working on the sequel “The Quiet World”, which he hopes to finish in 2015. For his day job, Laurence works as a Developer Advocate for Google, where he is constantly counting his blessings for being part of the best workplace in the world…
Find him here:
Space Cadets Blog:
Space Cadets Website:
Laurence will be awarding a signed copy of Space Cadets to a randomly drawn winner (US ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour.