Double Eagle

Free Double Eagle by Dan Abnett

Book: Double Eagle by Dan Abnett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dan Abnett
Tags: Warhammer 40k
down at the glove for a moment. His manicured fingers drummed deftly on the edge of the desk.
    “Let me see…” he said softly. He was a beautiful man, perfectly built, with twinkling blue eyes and a captivating grin. His dark hair was superbly groomed and oiled, and his manner was annoyingly relaxed and charming.
    He looked up at Jagdea. “Part of me wants you to—what was it?—smash me round the face. Just to see Ornoff when it comes to filing charges. But I don’t think that will get us anywhere. Why don’t you sit down?”
    He gestured to the armchair in front of his desk.
    “I prefer to stand,” Jagdea snapped.
    Seekan shrugged. “Around this time, I like to take a small glass of joiliq. Can I interest you in one?”
    “I prefer to—no, you bloody can’t!”
    Seekan shrugged and rose. He walked over to the cabinet and poured a very small measure of liquor into a tumbler. “I’ve heard about you,” he said.
    Jagdea stiffened. What the hell did that mean? Part of her wanted to gush: I’ve heard about you too, all of you… all the Apostles. The finest fliers in the western Navy. Quint, ace of aces, Gettering, Suhr… and always Seekan. Wing Leader Seekan, master of the Apostles. Never a famously high score, but renowned for his leadership and tactics. Loved by his men. Seekan, the Imperial hero.
    She chewed her lip instead.
    “About me?” she said.
    “Not you particularly,” Seekan said. He thought about that for a second and then frowned. “Throne, I didn’t mean to offend you. I meant the Phantine. The only founded Imperial Guard regiment who are fliers. Because of the nature of your home world, isn’t that right?”
    “Yes.”
    Seekan nodded. He raised his glass and rolled the spirit around inside it. “All other air wings come under the command of the Imperial Navy, except yours. That makes us allies rather than kin.”
    “I suppose.”
    Seekan smiled. “And you value female pilots as much as men. Females are few in the Navy. This is a rare…”
    “Pleasure?” asked Jagdea.
    “‘Thing’. I was going to say, “thing’.”
    “There is no viable land on Phantine,” Jagdea said. “Everyone learns to fly, men and women. Our ability is said to be intuitive and exceptional.”
    “The same has been said of the Apostles.”
    “You have no reason to celebrate your own virtues. The Apostles’ reputation is clear enough.”
    “Thank you.”
    “So… would you like to explain why your man struck my pilot with a glove like that?”
    “Because he was angry.”
    “Angry? Angry?”
    “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to sit down, commander?”
    “Answer the damn question!”
    “Captain Guis Gettering… Sixty-two kills. His bird is called the Double Eagle. He was offended that your man would copy that name for his own plane.”
    “That’s it?”
    “What else can I say?” Seekan shrugged.
    “My pilot will rename his plane. No offence was intended. In return, I suggest your Captain Gettering makes a written and formal apology to Pilot Officer Marquall. Then the matter may be concluded without higher attention.”
    “My pleasure,” said Seekan. Jagdea turned and strode to the door.
    “Commander?” Seekan called. She paused in the doorway and looked back. “Good flying,” he said.
     
    Over the Lida Valley, 15.16
    It wasn’t an auspicious start to their first official sortie. A bright, promising day had turned sour in the time it had taken to get their machines aloft. At ten thousand metres, with a lousy eight-tenths cloud, and an even more lousy side wind, they were running up the wide valley of the River Lida towards the mountains.
    Jagdea’s normally sweet-running Thunderbolt, serial Zero-Two, was flying rough and heavy. Too long in the belly-hold of a Navy carrier, Jagdea supposed. The devoted maintenance crews had done their best to keep systems at optimum, but there was no substitute for regular flying time. Apart from the delivery run to Theda MAB South, all the

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