A reentry is attempted.
Esgalwathanar grinned as Jorge was let into his office. “Major Tollings, I don’t believe we have had a chat before. Your work does precede you. So why did you want to speak with Vesstan and I?
“You and the guildsman here visited a place to obtain the release of a lady, something that I thank you for, as dealing with the lady could have been messy since Gander and Alissa are friends of mine. Since the lady is flying around with a disreputable dragon at present, I thought that I would ask you for your analysis of that place.”
“You are going to raid the Refuge.”
“Yes. I have a plan for a quick in and out, and I want to keep the collateral casualties to a minimum, especially the women and the children.”
“One woman should be secured at all costs if possible,” Vesstan said. “How are you planning to get in?”
“I have the family’s rather disreputable yacht available for a delayed honeymoon up the coast. We have boats and Swimmers, so we go in on a new moon after one of Jorge’s noisemakers and some noise across the bridge. I have good intelligence from the town and I can take advantage of the portal there that Jorge put there and hasn’t picked up. What I want to know is where the children are quartered and the key things that I have to secure.”
“We can go over those for you. You must have what the chief and his people have already. Why did you wait so long?”
“There were some distractions and coming up with a plan to get in wasn’t easy. We were also hoping that we could get a trace on their big place. The island was never a big concern, at least to me, once I knew where it was.”
“You had infiltrators.”
“Actually, Gracie Beinan has a way of listening with microportals. That worked for a while until the portal guy became aggressive about tracing microportals and dealing with them.”
“I imagine that that was disappointing.”
“It was, but that’s part of the business.”
“Do you have a map of the island with you?”
“I have a picture from the estate and a map that Enny made from the picture so that I had something that reduced the clutter.”
“Bring them out and let us go through things.”
Dúnathron looked at her loom and saw some very disturbing developments. The ship that had pursued the Collector was being used for a honeymoon by Major Tollings. That fact came from her source in the Press Service. There was a large funeral in Ishendell where the deceased did not seem to be recovered victims from the siege. There was a shipment of ammunition that her source in Ishendell sent her and other hints that Major Tollings had been seen visiting people in Vesticour and Athlin. All of that added up to Major Tollings preparing to strike, and at the Refuge. She packed up the information and went to her brother. “I think that the time has come to evacuate.”
Mórsairon looked at his sister and said, “What changed your mind?”
“Some things appeared on my loom and I put some pieces together. I believe that Major Tollings is going to raid this place using the ship that took the Collector and some other things before the next five day.”
“What leads you to believe that?”
“Major Tollings is using the yacht for a cruise. There was a significant and sudden flight of ammunition flown in to Ishendell. Major Tollings was seen at the capital and in Vesticour. All of these things point to him doing something and soon.”
“I will start to prepare for the evacuation. We will want to minimize the use of the portals when we begin, so we will prepare as much as we can beforehand. The evacuation will be the family and key people only. Let’s set up for four days and keep an eye out for that yacht.”
The satellite had made its orbits until it was approaching the place where it had been launched. Now the final tests of its functions started the tape that had been running on a clock, sent a signal and the separation charge activated.
The converted fifteen inch shell that had been modified to reenter the atmosphere separated and started to drop to the planet.
At the Gadget station, the satellite was visible and the separation was noted. There had been some contorversy about just what shape something reentering the atmosphere should have and the shell, from a gun that had never been put on a ship, was available, so it was agreed to use the inert lump of steel for the test. The gun itself, purchased for its scrap value without the rifled liner, was part of Skychaser’s shock tube wind tunnel, where high velocity shock waves were created using liquid hydrogen and oxygen blasts. Based on tests in the tunnel, it was expected that the shell would probably have a rather bad time on reentry, but that was the reason for sending the shell into orbit in the first place.
Romarod, wiping the sleep out of his eyes, came into the gadget station and said, “Did it separate?”
“On schedule. The shell is on its way down.”
“Are we tracking with the camera?”
“The cameras are all tracking with the gadget.”
“Good. We’ll want pictures.”
As the shell started to reach air thick enough to matter, the surface heated first slightly and then to incredible heat as the plasma of the shocked air transmitted the heat to the shell. The variations in the heat and burning sparks caused the shell to spin and then tumble, as the heating increased. The parachute that had optimistically been set up, as well as the instruments aboard the shell were incinerated and most of the shell vaporized, leaving a misshapen lump for the searchers to find. When the lump of misshapen steel was brought into the Skychaser hanger, Romarod looked at it and said, “Well, that was interesting.”