The admiral arrives in Desert Howl. Osprey is making a pick up.
The admiral exited the plane, followed by the captains, Commander Littlechild and Dragonleader Beinan. The admiral turned to his pilots and said, “I want to thank you for an excellent flight, even if it is a bit irregular to have a Fellowship Dragonleader as my pilot.”
“You can transfer us, sir,” Nathan said.
“Commander, you aren’t getting away that easily. On the other hand, I do want the full story on how you and Miss Beinan met.”
“Yes sir. It involves your predecessor, Intrepid, two young dragons that are attending the Academy right now and the Dragonmaster.”
“I like it already. Spill, commander.”
Nathan did, and the admiral and the others laughed as they passed through the hanger to where Terrel Wavechaser, in uniform, was waiting. He saluted and said, “I have a car, sir. I have arranged quarters at a hotel in Seagate. Unfortunately the FSA has taken over the hotel here in town as a headquarters and I didn’t think that having you there as a good idea.”
“I can’t argue with that.”
“Instead of the FSA, you will have Lady Zylvyre, some of her relatives and their friends.”
“That sounds like much better company.”
“I thought so. The Conclave is over, but Paeris is keeping himself entertained keeping some pests out of the market in Innshys, so he isn’t here right now.”
“You sound as if you want him here.”
“Sir, I will remain silent on that. On the one hand, he would give the FSA fits. On the other, this isn’t his fight and Major Tollings has been detached to the FSA, so I would not want to know what would happen.”
“I will keep that in mind. If the FSA doesn’t show signs of actually closing things up and having actual cases, I’m pulling the major anyway.”
“I can’t argue with that. Commander, Bill is here with a jalopy to take you and the Dragonleader to the hotel once the plane is secured and refueled.”
“Should Bill be here, doing that?” Rob asked.
“He was available and I didn’t want to have some people know that you all were here. If Rod weren’t on Diligent and far away, I would ask the admiral to recall him, but that isn’t an option and most of the people from Beinan’s that I would use are home and staying there with the FSA prowling around. Also, the fewer people that know that you all are here right now, the better.”
“Things are that bad,” Drannor asked.
“Yes they are. Let’s go.”
Haral went to the podium and said, “Welcome to the opening dinner of the Republic Advanced Physics Society Conference. We are back where things started and while we have by and large moved on to other things, what we did has stayed with us. Events have forced a bit of a revival of our work and my grandfather has been discovering work that others have done that, while similar to what we pursued, was intended for far more deadly uses. The products of that work were the Scourge devises that were used to Scourge the cities of Wongpo, Clerves, Vesticour, Semmont, Athlin, Altensee and finally Luggergate. The devises were constructed in secret on my family’s stolen property in the Empire using facilities powered by the dam constructed by my great grandfather. Then they were transported to locations throughout the world and hidden until their owners could use them at the time of their choosing.
“While we in the society were in no way responsible for any of that, and the many lives lost, we were responsible for not carrying our work forward to the point where we could provide advice and assistance to the leadership of the country as things developed. That was left to others, who did not have our hard won knowledge and experience. Fortunately, they have been able to provide what was needed to deal with the Scourge devise program and the devises themselves without causing any more loss of life.
“We shirked from danger, assuring ourselves that as long as we kept things to ourselves that there was no further danger. We were proven wrong, in the most visible and brutal way. I want to end my speech with a remembrance for Greg Hartbender and Tomas Steelforger, who lost their lives in Luggergate, apparently after making sure that their students had all been evacuated and evacuating their families and as many other as they could.”
Nat turned to Jorge and said, “We shouldn’t be here.”
“Why not? We are just having dinner with our ladies. We aren’t actually attending the conference.”
“No we are not. I wish that I could.”
“That will be at another time. I’ll go to as much as I can with Bill and we’ll keep notes. I have already arranged membership for you, Stadlee, Chompers and some others so you all can go to the conference in Ironton next year.”
Aidiun was relaxing in his cabin with Eilrona when there was a knock on the cabin door. “Captain, there is a message from the company.”
Aidiun got up, went to the door and looked at the message. He turned to Eilrona and said, “We are to go to pick up boats and marines. Somebody wants a raid, apparently.”
“The message doesn’t say. Hopefully someplace that we are not expected to arrive.”