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Book 1: Starfighter Down (Audiobook)

Book 1: Starfighter Down (Audiobook)

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“I’m not letting him get away,” Elya insisted. But he heard the undertone of her criticism. You're not being a team player, she seemed to be saying. Your actions are selfish. And even if you do catch this drone, the rest of the squad will resent the way you flew. But it was too late now. A tenacious stubbornness wouldn’t let Elya give up the chase.

“It’s two-on-one. We’ve got it outnumbered.”

Presently, the drone veered away from the Mammoth fleet and accelerated toward Robichar. Seeing his opportunity, Elya opened his thrusters to full burn. Osprey tailed him, the two of them flying neck and neck like they had back at the academy. The next few minutes passed in tense silence. When they were a hundred klicks out from the fleet, the Kryl drone flipped around and shot backward at them without losing its momentum. It was even able to maneuver in reverse to avoid their shots when they returned fire, dipping and dodging. Impressive. That was the kind of flying Elya got criticized for. Osprey would have called it pretty but ineffective flying.

Kryl didn’t think like people. They were controlled by a remote Overmind that gave them abilities that human pilots could never hope to match. It was one of the reasons starfighters weren’t piloted remotely; starfighters needed every edge they could get.

Elya stayed close, keeping up the steady stream of attack and refusing to back down. Hedgebot scurried back and forth along the window over his head, keeping him on track with the Kryl’s erratic flight pattern. At some point, the starfighter’s internal AI determined that the G-forces were too much for Elya’s body to handle on its own, and a pinch at the back of his neck, followed by a relaxing of his muscles, told him he’d been injected with the dose of targeted chemicals that would sharpen his senses and make the G-forces easier to handle.

Hopped up on the cocktail of stimulants and stabilizers, Elya managed to close the distance between himself and the drone to within half a kilometer. At this point, the Kryl drone flipped back around and arced up overhead in a loop—the same maneuver that Osprey had cautioned him against earlier that day.

As it came around, Elya cut his thrust, repositioning himself and waiting for his weapons system to lock onto the drone. As he expected, the craft came down in front of him, and when it did he mashed on his trigger, only to watch his blaster bolts soar right through the craft.

“Impossible,” Elya whispered.

“Nevers, pull up! Pull up!”

The drone braked and though Hedgebot flashed a bright red warning, Elya was too slow and too close to do anything except brace himself. To his complete and utter astonishment, the Kryl drone phased through his ship. His starfighter should have cut that drone in half, killing them both; instead, it passed through him, unharmed.

For a frozen moment, Elya’s Sabre occupied the same physical space as the Kryl drone. The craft was twice as large as his Sabre… and though he had expected it to be unmanned, it wasn’t. A vicious and deformed-looking Kryl with a midnight-black carapace and six arms terminating in skeletal claws, veered past him clacking its mandibles.

Above the mandibles, Elya met a pair of eyes set deep into a face that seemed far too human. He blinked and it was gone, the pilot once again hidden behind the hull of the Kryl drone.

“Nevers!” Osprey shouted, forgetting to use his call sign in her concern for him. “Nevers, are you okay?”

His starfighter beeped a warning as the drone’s weapons system locked onto him from behind.

“Oh no.” A cold spark of fear shivered through him, and his skin burst out in tingling gooseflesh. Elya’s body rocked violently as the drone’s weapons landed a direct hit on the rear left wing of his Sabre, taking out one of his two main engines. Warning systems blared, his control panel lit up, the filaments along Hedgebot’s back flashed red. Another targeted salvo from the Kryl took out two of his maneuvering thrusters. Elya’s Sabre went into an uncontrollable tailspin, pulled in by the gravity of the moon.

The blinking white of an explosion behind him told him that Osprey had landed a hit on the drone and damaged it. Elya didn’t think it had been taken out of commission completely, though, as it veered away from them.

Captain Osprey wavered between pursuing the damaged drone and sticking with him, but eventually she stuck with him.

“Nevers!” Osprey called. “Hang on! I’m coming after you.”

Elya did his best. He fought to regain control of the starfighter, but it had been lost to him. Caught in the gravitational pull of Robichar, Elya spiraled down toward the colony moon. As his starfighter spun, the movement overwhelmed even the cocktail of stimulants in his system, and he lost consciousness.

🎧 Audio sample

📖 Synopsis

A rogue Overmind is on the loose.

A million souls hang in the balance.

The Solaran Defense Forces make the difficult decision to evacuate the colony of Robichar in order to avoid a direct confrontation.

But when Captain Elya Nevers gets shot down during the evacuation, his squadron and the admiral in charge have to think fast to rescue their pilot before the Kryl overrun the system.

Fighting to survive in hostile territory, Captain Nevers discovers what the rampaging Overmind is really after—and it changes everything.

An extinct species known as the Telos fled the galaxy eons ago. What caused them to vanish in such a hurry?

And more importantly, what ancient relics of alien power did they leave behind?

It’s fly or die in this space opera action adventure for fans of Battlestar GalacticaStar WarsHonor Harrington, and Starcraft II.

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Starfighter Down is Book 1 of Relics of the Ancients.

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Series reading order

1. Starfighter Down
2. Hidden Relics
3. Rogue Swarm
4. Spare Parts
5. Raptor
6. Operation Heartstrike

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