Major Jack Waco was the best pilot in the SENTI
Command. A self-proclaimed loner, he thought he
didn’t need anything or anyone until he met Major
Maggie Wilson, who challenged those preconceptions.
Maggie’s mannerisms and attitude reminded him of an important person from
Jack’s past. These revived memories and feelings
threaten to send his head and his heart into turmoil. With a
government conspiracy on-hand and large-scale
interstellar piracy threatening the very stability of the
galaxy, will Jack be able to cope with these newly
awakened feelings in time to succeed in bringing the
guilty to justice or would he be betrayed by them – far
out in a newly-discovered planetary system on the
other side of the galaxy?
SENTI is now available in Paperback and EBook versions, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
For your enjoyment here is a split excerpt from SENTI. It is the first part of Chapter 1 and the first part of Chapter 7. Chapter 1 introduces us to our hero, Major Jack Waco and Chapter 7 tells us about finding the Jackwill System. , but it does have a lot of useful information. I hope you enjoy the excerpt. I hope to be back at a later date with different excerpts and more action.
I sit without talking. Her image waits for me to speak. Tears burn my eyes as they mist over. I wipe them away with my uniform sleeve. My throat constricts, forming a lump that makes speech impossible. I stare at what she once was, young and beautiful, remembering how she died, how much I loved Emma, and how I killed her. My heart aches, wishing she was more than a holographic image. I feel a dull, empty pain begin to gnaw at my soul. Slowly reaching out with a trembling hand, I hit the end button. The receptionist’s image instantly replaces Emma’s. She informs me that the director wishes to speak with me. Standing to leave, I tell the receptionist, “Maybe next time. I’m running late.” This is just what I don’t need. Some shrink wasting my time with a bunch of hogwash about repressed feelings and other garbage.
Opening the door, I find Mrs. French, a stout, semi-attractive, older black lady, standing there, effectively cutting off my only escape route.
“Major Waco,” she says, and then her voice lowers slightly. “Jack, I’ve been increasingly concerned about you. I would like to help you deal with some of the pain you’ve been carrying alone for so long. Now, you and I both know that in my position I have the authority to recommend grounding you. I have no intention of doing that at this time because I think we can work this out. All I’m asking is for you to come talk to me, right now, about getting into therapy. Can you at least do that?”
Staring at her, I say nothing. She places her hand on my shoulder, and I start to resist, but decide to give in and get this over with. She guides me from the viewing cubicle and into her office. It’s small but comfortable. The walls are bright and cheerful. A large, holographic screen on one wall is playing ocean surf crashing onto the shore. The faint cries of gulls are mixed in. I can almost smell the sea. The overall effect starts to soothe me. I feel my muscles start to relax and the tension fade. A provider unit is on a small table in one corner. On her desk is a holographic image of twin girls, almost identical copies of Mrs. French. Behind her are books, real, hardcopy books. This lady is starting to impress me. I sit in a chair beside her desk.
“Jack, you’ve avoided talking to us. We’re not the devil incarnate. You come here at least once, maybe twice a year for the last eleven years. You sit and stare at her hologram for several minutes, then leave. You never say anything to her. My assistant tells me you deliberately avoided her on your past several visits. So I waited where you couldn’t duck out on me.”
“I’ll talk.” I don’t really feel like it. As I fold my arms across my chest, I tell her, “No need to bring in the head of SENTI Command on this. It’s not that important.”
“When you pilot one of the most powerful ships in existence, anything that deviates from the normal is important.”
“I guess you’re right. I’ll cooperate.” I lean forward and rest my elbows and forearms on her desk.
“That would be nice. Most people come here to talk and visit with their dearly departed. You only sit and stare for about half an hour, then you leave. It usually takes most people six months to a year to complete the grieving process, not eleven years. Why so long?”
“Don’t know. I try to come on her birthday and on the anniversary of her death. Each time I come, Mrs. French, I silently pray for her forgiveness, but I get no reply.”
“The avatar can give you answers. The forgiveness you want, need. Just ask her and she will give it.”
“I know the avatar can talk to me, answer questions and respond in her voice. The avatar is so real, but it’s not her. It could never be her and can never give absolution.”
“Jack, let’s change direction for a few minutes. How about those nightmares you told us about ten years ago? Are you still having them?”
“I told you they stopped six months after I joined SENTI Command.”
“I’m glad, but what stands between you and reaching out to another person? You still need to reestablish some kind of a social life. You need to find someone.”
“I’m alone for a reason,” I interrupt. “I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else. I killed her.” I stand and go to the provider unit. Seconds later, I have a cup of hot chocolate. I take a sip, then continue. “A woman wants a man who can keep her safe. My record proves I can’t do that. And then there’s the Deneb system. I let down sixty people, plus their families. I have enough company, if I want it.” I take another swallow, savoring its rich, dark flavor.
“No one blames you for anyone’s death except you. You must learn to forgive yourself. You must let yourself live, love again. I don’t want to see you end up all alone, bitter. You deserve better.”
“Thanks for your time, Mrs. French, and the chocolate.” I set the mug on her desk. “I said I’d think about it, and I will.” Standing to leave her office, I notice the clock. Great, thanks to Mrs. French, I’ve missed the first round of assignments. I’ll get stuck with some shuttle run, or worse, no runs at all.
We meet Hilton at 1000 hours the next morning. He informs us that SENTI 005 will be ready by 1600. He gives us our next assignment. “You are going to Beta Ori, a system one thousand four hundred light-years away. It’s basically a scientific outpost. You’ll be taking their semi-annual shipment. Once you drop the shipment, you will pick up an explorer pack and proceed from Beta Ori on an outward course. You will fly at level five for two hours, then drop to level three. Once at level three, you will start a standard mapping survey for four weeks.
“You are authorized to do a first contact survey on any system you find. You will then return to Sol. The senate should be ready for your testimony by then. I know it seems funny to be sending you off on an exploration mission right now, but we’ve learned from intelligence reports that there are plans to kill both of you. We don’t know who yet, but we’re almost sure the robber at the resort had other things on his mind besides just robbing you.”
“The best way to protect us is to put us out in deep space where no one can find us,” I finish.
“If they did find us, then it would be their bad luck,” adds Maggie.
“Right you are, Jack, Maggie. I’ll see you when you get back. Good luck.”
We leave Hilton’s office and pick up S-5.
“Well, Maggie,” I say as we prepare to lift off, “Your first star hunting expedition? This should be real exciting. Beta Ori, the outermost planet of this system, has the science and exploration station. That’s our jump off point. We’ll drop their shipment, pick up the pod, and then we’ll be on our own for the next four weeks. Have you been on any exploration trips?”
“No,” Maggie answers.
“I’ve done two. It’s not too bad if you find a new system. Beta Ori has a scanning range of eleven hundred light-years. That’s why we start at twelve hundred light-years. I suggest that when we arrive on station, we do a straight out, ten-day run instead of a triangular pattern, unless we find a system close to our starting point. With two on board, we will do six-hour shifts. S-5 can actually do the scan without human supervision, but with someone in the tank, we can observe the data as it comes in and decide if we need to go take a better look.”
“You mean we’re not going to be tanked the entire four weeks?”
“No. When we drop out of level five, S-5 will automatically drop a navigational beacon. This is done in normal space. S- 5 will also start scanning a hundred light-year radius from the ship as a reference point. It will take about an hour to complete the scan. S-5 will alert us if anything is there. If something is there, we’ll decide if it’s worth a closer look. If it’s clean, then one of us can detank and starts running our search pattern at level three. As we go, S-5 will update the original scan with new information it receives.
“S-5 will automatically drop into normal space again when we reach the edge of the scanned area and repeat the procedure. When we complete the second cycle, we’ll move over two hundred light-years and do it all over again on the way back. This way we have a two hundred by four hundred light-year section of space scanned.”
“Sounds good to me. Who gets first watch?”
It is an uneventful trip to Beta Ori. We drop their shipment and pick up an exploration pod. The pod contains special long-range scanners and other detection equipment that ties into S-5’s system. It carries six-dozen navigation beacons, three hundred drone probes, six star probes, four large navcom beacons, and a planet exploration module, or PEM.
The PEM contains everything one needs to successfully survey a planet, including a seven-meter roamer. It is a hovercraft that can cruise at speeds of up to one hundred twenty kph, dive to depths of one hundred meters and fly up to fifteen hundred meters.
One hour after we leave Beta Ori, S-5 drops back into normal space and deploys a navigation beacon. It functions perfectly. At the same time, S-5 starts the one-hour scan. Still in our tanks, we watch as S-5 slowly begins to fill in the blank holographic display with new data. We start our scan at star field level three. We quickly fall into a comfortable routine. At least we’re not bumping into or getting into each other’s way.
Well into our tenth day, an alarm goes off. I enter my tank ready to take over from Maggie. She informs me, “It’s a Class G2 star, ten degrees off our starboard point and one hundred ten light-years away.”
“Want to take a look?”
“I sure do.”
I drop back into normal space and run a tight scan of the star. What comes back surprises us. The star has twelve planets.
“This is a rare find,” I say excitedly. “It has five planets in the green zone.” I drop a navigational beacon to mark where we end our survey. “Stay tanked, Maggie. We’re going to level five.”
S-5 drops into the system’s fringe ten and a half minutes later. I drop another navigational beacon then order a scan of the system. We both detank to eat and try to relax.
Twelve hours later, S-5 informs us the scan is complete. Maggie and I gather into the briefing room to review the results. I call up the newly made chart on the holographic projector. “First thing is to name the system. How about a combination of our names? Jackwill sounds better to me than Wacwill.”
“Of the two, I like Jackwill.”
About the Author
I am a child of the ‘50’s and grew up in a small rustic Texas Town, in the Dallas/Ft Worth area. My Mom owned a small general/convenience store that was located next to our house. I was literally raised in that store and it taught me the value of a good work ethic and how to treat other people. We also had some interesting characters that were regulars and have or will show up in my stories. My Mom also taught me how to read and understand what I was reading.
I attended a local community college, where I studied journalism and photography. I also worked as a reporter for a local paper for two years. I was a Navy photographer and was stationed on two different aircraft carriers during the Vietnam War. I took part in Operations “Frequent Wind” & “New Life”. These operations were the end of the War in Vietnam. I helped to escort one of the waifs back stateside.
I continued to work on and off as a professional photographer for thirty years, after I got out of the Navy. I also worked as an EMT full time for five years and attended Nursing school, I drove a taxi in Houston, drive an eighteen wheeler, but I always came back to Photography I am now medically retired and use a wheelchair to get around.
I’m married and have a very spoiled cat (no children).
I started writing books in 2003 when I entered the Writer’s of the Future Contest. I now have one book in print, one book out of print, and six works in progress, in various stages of completion.
The prize is an eBook copy of SENTI. How to win is simple. Simply send me an Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with SENTI Contest in the subject line to be entered into the drawing. Did I say “AN”, so sorry I intended to say three eBook copies of my book. I’ll notify the winners on Monday, by5PM CST.