Kindle Edition- Free on Sept 10th, 2014
Kindle Edition- Free on Sept 10th, 2014
Joe Devlin has started his first year at the Space Academy and nothing has gone his way. His father's heroics in the Tri-Sun War are legendary and Joe has plans to follow in his father's footsteps to be a Star Fighter. While his father is deployed to the war, can Joe measure up to the task at hand? With the town in smoke, Joe better find out if he can fix what he messed up before his father discovers his secret.
Sixteen-year-old Joe Devlin waited at the front gate to the Space Academy. This was the moment he had waited for all his life. The sun was coming up and there was already a line at the entrance with several families and their soon-to-be cadets. Everyone had been waiting with anticipation to get onto campus to start the cadet induction. The gate opened and the line started to move, but Joe had not noticed. He was imagining what it would be like to fly a Star Fighter like his father.
Joe's mother, June, noticed that he wasn't watching. “Joe, stop looking around and pay attention to the line moving. You're just like your father, always dreaming. You'll get your chance soon enough.”
“Yes Mother.” Joe started to slowly move forward. With all the excitement he wasn't looking forward as he walked and plowed right into the boy in front of him.
“Watch it Devlin! How do you expect to fly if you can't even walk?”
Oh great, Joe thought. It was Ken Hawk, the boy who had always bullied him at his old school. Another boy to the right of Ken laughed.
“Look, it's Joe Devlin The Boy Wonder, or more just like Wonder. I didn't think you made good enough grades to get into the Space Academy. Must have been a mistake!”
Joe turned to see Jay Gordon, Ken's sidekick. Joe quickly replied, “The only mistake was letting both of you guys know where the front gate to the Academy was located. Are you sure you're in the right place? The circus is down the road.”
Before Ken and Jay could answer back, June caught up to him and told the boys to get a move on before they would miss their first day at the academy.
Joe approached the check-in table, just as Ken and Jay were walking away. Ken turned to Joe. “Hey Wonder, see you around.”
Joe was not happy with his new nickname.
The Lieutenant at the table signed in Joe. “You're the third roommate in room seven of the Fifth Fighter Wing dormitory. In fact, those two boys leaving as you arrived are your new roommates.”
Joe thought, great I'm rooming with the Trouble Twins, Ken and Jay. What else would go wrong today?
The Lieutenant at the check-in table looked up at him with an expression of slight impatience. “Welcome aboard Cadet, now quickly move along.”
Joe liked the sound of the word cadet and was pleased with his new status. Cadet Joe Devlin, he thought to himself...the newest and bravest Star Fighter.
He turned to say good-bye to his mother. June had a tear in her eye. Joe was her last child to leave the house and now her entire family was part of the Intergalactic Space Force, the ISF. She was trying to hold back the tears, but it was just too hard.
Joe's father had been gone for over a year in a war that never seemed to end and Joe was now following in his footsteps. June had always known this day would come. All she could do was hug her son one last time and send him down life's path, away from her protection.
Joe gave his mother a hug and started to turn away.
“What! No kiss for your mother?” said June.
He turned back and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and then hurried away. Joe hoped the small peck was enough to avoid having to give her a larger kiss in front of the entire academy. One nickname was surely enough for his first day as a cadet.
As Joe walked away, he could not help thinking about his father, Commander Don Devlin of the Black Aces. The conflict had been dragging on for over eleven years and his father had been deployed for half of that time.
Joe missed seeing his father in person and used interstellar video feeds to talk to him. Commander Devlin was over a thousand light years away and Joe was hoping that attending the Space Academy would bring them closer together through flying in the ISF. That was the best he could expect over such a long distance.
Joe and his sister were the family's fifth generation to attend the Academy. It was a family tradition. This only added to the personal pressure of Joe's expectation to become a Star Fighter pilot. He was determined to be the best pilot that the Academy had ever seen.
Joe soon arrived at room seven and could already see that his new roommates claimed the two bottom bunks. The bottom was usually the better bed since you did not have to climb up a ladder to get on it.
When Ken saw Joe enter the dorm room, he turned and looked directly at him. “Look Jay, it's Wonder! He has already come to visit us. Did you miss us?”
Joe passed Ken and looked up at the upper bunk above Ken's bed and turned back toward him, looking Ken right in the eyes. “I was told that I was your roommate and that I had to take the top bunk over your bed since you are so full of hot air. The Dean doesn't want you to float away before your first flight!”
Ken's smile straightened out and he turned away, walking out of the room with Jay following behind him.
Joe started to unpack. Space Academy was going to be harder than he thought with his new roommates, the Trouble Twins.
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James R. Thomas takes young readers into the world of space travel, teaches them the importance of conservation, and also tackles the topic of helping children cope when a parent is deployed in the military. His writing style has been inspired by his military service and the challenges his own family faced with his deployment. He also wanted to bring his love of science fiction to life for children and teach them to be socially conscious of our planet.