Would Little Eagle become his regardless of everything? Of all his questions, this he wanted to know most of all. Still on the run, the girl reluctantly joins the Kanes in their travels. But another Indian has other plans for her. Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Get print book. AuthorHouse Amazon. Buddie Fox : Desert Wolf. Bev Magee. AuthorHouse , Jun 28, - Fiction - pages.
Blake Habers hated Indians, especially the tribe his sister lived with. Selected pages Title Page. Contents Foreword. Chapter Chapter 8. About the Author. Bibliographic information. Chapter 1. Nearly 20 years of constant improvement and modification since the initial introduction of the original "Corona" surveillance satellite in had paid off in high reliability, flexibility and greatly enhanced performance over the relatively primitive capabilities of that original system.
Directed by preprogrammed instructions or by specific near term direction relayed from Air Force ground command stations, these systems recorded amazingly detailed data in several media on selected points of interest on the Earth below. Surely the photography it provided and the proper diplomatic employment of that material, contributed significantly to maintaining the uneasy peace between the U.
Perhaps even to the prevention of the global insanity of a Nuclear exchange. Contrary to general belief, the most effective employment of such hard won intelligence was not to keep it to ourselves. Controlled "Leaks", through international channels, appraising the other side of our immediate awareness of their developments and moves effectively eliminated the tempting advantages of surprise.
With the "Corona" ability to observe and photograph any point of interest on Earth every four days, recovered material could be examined for anything suspicious or threatening and if of significant concern, a U-2 mission put up to take a closer more detailed look. In concert however with this change for the better every where else in the world, conditions grew worse.
The ultimate demise of colonialism, revolutionary emergence of new political factions, industrialization and modernization of a number of here to fore "backward" societies, with still others reverting to tribal behavior, all precipitated the rise of new conflicts. In many of these, the opposing factions often supported by the U. Collectively they made the simple one on one antagonism of the early cold war seem almost attractive by comparison. With regularly updated inputs, they could pretty well quantify everyone's assets, friend or foe's and when or where they might be massed or moved.
Unfortunately, no sensor has yet been devised to determine "Intent". A fact which continued to keep the game interesting and necessary. Leaving, Only, the final most dramatic and crucial of the Operation That of returning the collected data to Earth for examination and interpretation Though Proven and refined over several hundred similar operations, the associated Sequence of de-orbit, reentry and recovery of the Payload Capsule familiarly referred to as "The Bucket" still constituted the ultimate "Home Stretch" rush of excitement.
Natures master plan for Protecting Earth from catastrophic collisions was orbiting space debris, employs the high Velocity of such bodies as they plunge into our upper atmosphere. The enormous frictional heat thus generated is Sufficient to vaporize all but the largest bodies which fortunately, are extremely rare.
Science obviously had to thwart Mother Nature, if these vehicles were to survive the initial phase of reentry and get on with their ultimate purpose. To pull this off, techniques to precisely control reentry and ablative heat shield materials were developed. These materials have the unique quality of flashing directly from a solid to a gas Ablation when exposed to high heating rates and in the process absorb large amounts of that heat at their surface while acting as an insulator for anything below the surface.
Thus, perhaps to the consternation of the Creator, his creatures have managed to subvert his perfectly workable system, which has thus far, protected their home planet from becoming a pummeled ruin, to achieve their own questionable ends. The terminal step of bringing home to Earth, its' bard won intelligence payload for the mystical machinations and prestidigitation by the "Spooks" at the N. She was beautiful. After 30 years together and the four kids, he still loved to look at her. Fascinated by all her moods and postures he would often watch her in pure enjoyment, seemingly, without her awareness of his attention.
Now, in perhaps her most feminine mode, Jan stood before her mirror dressed to party, adding final artistic touches to her hair and makeup. Even with a sufficient smattering of green to satisfy the St. Paddy's day motif, the sleek, fitted skirt and spike heels presented a stately elegance characteristic of Jan herself, but hardly the earthy concept of a traditional Colleen. He couldn't help but smile at the memory of last years costume party with Jan the hit as a somewhat exotic Irish barmaid, and himself as an unlikely oversized Leprechaun.
All this with a surprising tolerance for his somewhat esoteric profession and its' many impositions on their family life. After three years in World War Il as a U. Army Air Corps mechanic, somewhat frustrated because a High School Football eye injury had thwarted his desire to fly, he was in his junior year at Duquesne University School of Engineering. For him a dream come true by virtue of the U. Government and the G. With a working widowed mother and a younger brother to worry about, since early High School, he had anticipated and was prepared to undertake the drudgery of holding a daytime job for years, while pursuing an Engineering Degree at night school.
Then close on the joyful realization of having returned from the Pacific War in one piece, a "Grateful Nation" was prepared to provide the where with all for him to attend college full time, in a normal four year format. His cup damn near "Runneth Over"! To him it was a "Paid in Full" from that grateful nation for the three years he had given in their service.
Consequently on Friday nights he could regularly frequent a small local dance hall with a modest admission fee and only soft drinks and snacks available, which kept the cost of meeting girls at his budgetary level. There was a strategic spot next to a column along the dance floor, midway between the Ladies Lounge and the cloak room. He observed that almost all girls, upon entering, would first stop at the lounge fo touch up their makeup and hair, then check their coats before joining the crowd around the dance floor, From his observation post against the column, when he spotted an attractive target, as she emerged from the lounge and headed to check her coat, he would ask for a dance and offer to check the coat, as something of a package deal.
It didn't always work but his batting average was well above anything achieved by Williams or DiMaggio. It was thus, that he first met Jan, and just when he had his system down cold, after that night he never employed the routine again. Two movie dates after their first meeting, they both knew there would never be anyone else. Two years later, after acquiring his first engineering job after graduation, they were married in a relatively modest affair, befitting their limited funds and proceeded on with the happy compatibility and productivity leading to their present state.
However, increasing experience, a results oriented fixation and a useful quirk of being creatively different led to greater responsibilities and the coincident loss of personal time. The increased travel and professional demands, far beyond a conventional 40 hour week. Little did they realize that these initial divergences from conventional family existence, were only precursors to a more bizarre lifestyle. Most notably one initiated some ten years ago when he accepted the role as Chief Engineer on the highly covert "Retriever" project.
Coincident with that step, "Normal" disappeared from the Mannion family lexicon. The effects of such rigorous requirements for secrecy, on the personnel thus engaged, were many and varied, some humorous and some stultifying. On these occasions, the indomitable "Kells", drawing on her personal experience, as big sister to a large Irish family, enlarged her span of control to that of house mother to such distraught young women, who envisioned themselves on the way to Levenworth.
On others, particularly some engineers involved in the intricacies of design and operations, the effect of such overbearing secrecy was to adopta permanent sotto voce, conspiratorial tone, that annoyingly, persisted for all occasions. Particularly irritating, when employed in response to irrelevant questions about the weather or how they liked their coffee.
Surely far preferable to the more widely recognized potential for delivery of nuclear warheads. The collective output of these systems, in effect, drove the Russians "Bonkers" and kept an unblinking eye on other hot spots such as Cuba, China, Iran, Iraq, plus lesser sites of periodic minor wars and revolutions that might ultimately precipitate American involvement. Sartorially armed and dangerous, ready to do battle with her lady friends for the honors as Top Babe in the neighborhood.
Looking at her now, she sure could count on his vote! Then, as an afterthought, writing the Blaines' telephone number on the kitchen note pad, which, while readily accessible in the phone book, served to emphasize their close proximity, if anything came up requiring parental attention. With both younger girls now in High School and the older two boys in college, there was no longer a pressing need for someone at home. Consequently, Jan was starting to heed the call of a of a more dynamic daily environment. Rog had some very mixed feelings about such a change in their family routine.
Buddie Fox: Starting Over
True, the added income would cut down on the accruing debt associated with putting four kids through college but there is no such thing as "Free Lunch" and he knew it. This however was an evening for fun and relaxation, not controversy, so he strategically withheld serious comment, knowing full well that it would come up again, and soon. The night however, was crisp and clear and the short walk provided a refreshing interval, as a prelude to the crowded boisterous party atmosphere in prospect.
It led to their early acquisition of a technically priceless American flight unit, which, no doubt, greatly accelerated their lagging developments in this area. The event, fictionally depicted, to some degree, in Ian Flemings "Ice Station Zebra", presented a stupefying example of art mimicking life beyond all rational explanation. Coincident with that understanding, insulting messages such as "F--k you, Yank!
They initiated a number of creative attempts at camouflage and deception to mask their points and activities of interest. In the midst of the grim give and take of cold warfare, it almost provided a humorous "di camaraderie between the initiated and an outlet for acid wit on both side. Examination of the photography in the second recovered vehicle of the first revised orbital operation, nearly knocked the sox off the N. As the game progressed, they actively contrived to generate misinformation, even constructing inflatable decoys of submarines and rockets, to display when they knew we were looking.
To the great glee of the N. Caught footed, they now had to endure watching some of their best kept secrets. There its descending data capsule, to be snatched. For this it employed its array of precision optical sensors to take fixes on prominent stars, such as Conopus, along with the Earth's horizon. An onboard computer algorithm would then orchestrate the firing of multiple attitude control thrusters, to achieve the desired pointing orientation. This final attitude allowed for ejection of the reentry vehicle, backward, relative to the flight path of the mother craft.
Following a precisely controlled separation, the "Retriever's" retro rocket had to point forward and up, with an accuracy within a half degree. Too steep, and the resulting G forces and aerodynamic heating would incinerate the vehicle. Too shallow, and it would skip the upper atmosphere, to be lost forever in space. Of no further use, the entire de-orbit module is then jettisoned, to reenter on its own and burn up in the atmosphere. Long, hard experience had taught early space vehicle designers, that one shot functions, of the type employed for activation in such a sequence of events, could be more reliably performed by pyrotechnics, rather than electrically or mechanically.
Thus, the operation entailed a series of small, carefully timed detonations, starting with ejection from "Mother" to final deployment of the parachute, fostering a natural comparison with that noisy oriental holiday celebration. The resulting decrease in velocity related centrifugal force, disturbs its delicate balance with the earth's gravitation.
Thus, the vehicle now under the influence of an uncompensated portion of the Earth's gravity, proceeds to fall out of orbit, following a predetermined ballistic trajectory, as it plunges into the atmosphere at roughly miles per hour. Essentially, in the reentry phase, the vehicle simulates a man made Meteor. For perspective, if all the natural Meteors that enter and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere were protected by the special heat shield material employed on "Retriever" our Earth today would be a pock marked ruin from impact of the resulting survivors.
An interesting mix, ethnic, religious or political persuasion, but from the celtic viewpoint, on St. Patrick's day, all present, either Irish, or "Thim that wish they wuz! A simple but unnecessary opening formality, 3S they could easily find both blindfolded, after years on the local party circuit, of which the Blaines were an integral part.
Both neighbors and friends of long standing with much in common, including kids away at college. The trials and tribulations of those displaced offspring was the subject of the current conversation, as it invariably was whenever they got together. After a few drinks, the conversation would turn to more diverse, less mundane subjects. Later, after a few drinks, in keeping with Irish partying tradition, they would end up competently harmonizing on "Danny Boy", "Galloway Bay" and other favorites, while the rest of the drunks, including Rog, would, inadvertently, do their best to louse up the beauty of the thing, by joining in.
He had wanted to talk to Abe privately anyway and this was as good a time as any. Abe, like himself, had worked at Omega Technologies for a number of years. In fact in their younger days they had worked several projects together and had become friends. For several years now Abe had headed up the Thermodynamics Analysis Group and Rog considered Dick Flowers, assigned to him on Project "Retriever" from that group, one of his key players.
If true perhaps he and Abe might be able to work something out to keep Dick happy, yet still in touch with "Retriever" for at least another year. This without sacrificing their basic faith, its associations or attitudes. Where there might have been early frictions, their wonderful senses of humor served them well and after years they were surely one of the best liked, most popular couples on the local social scene. Both were highly intelligent, with strong social consciences, tempered by streaks of down to earth practicality, which gave them a sensible disdain for altruistic, feel good, solutions that so often proved to do more harm than good.
Her grandfather, Isaac Belkoff, escaping from one of the periodic Russian pogroms in the Ukraine, had found his way to Jersey City when it was still relatively under populated. There he had set up a Pharmacy, the traditional family business. Fed by the heavy European immigration of the period, the neighborhood filled to overflowing around them. The new comers, however, were predominantly Irish with a smattering of Germans, many attracted by work as longshoremen on the nearby Jersey docks, a nearby boiler factory and a slaughter house easily reachable by trolley.
He commonly provided free, practical medical advice, would readily extend credit and never let a sick neighbor leave his shop without required medication. This, over the years rendered him not particularly well to do, but highly respected and greatly beloved. The crowning indicator of his place in local Gallic hearts, came when he was invited to be an honorary member on the Hibernian Society and march with them in the local St.
Patrick's day parade. This he did with great glee and as they pranced by the family pharmacy, Sylvie, her. Grand mother, her mother and two siblings, stood at the curb and waved small green St. Patrick's day flags, enjoying the event immensely. Hank and Julie, both families eldest, enjoyed a quasi- romantic friendship through out high school. They attended some dances and other parties together and then were formal dates at their Junior Prom.
In their senior year however, preoccupied with coming college and career planning, any earlier ardor appeared to metamorphosis into a solid friendship which has persisted in spite of their divergent career interests. Now, Julie was a senior Physics major at Columbia, already accepted for graduate work at M.
She was also romantically involved with a Colombia graduate student in chemistry and seemed happily destined to join him ultimately in solving the worlds energy shortage. He and Rog had taken an introductory course at the local YMCA which culminated in certification and authorization to rent diving equipment and use it. Initially, they enjoyed diving together at several nearby lakes and quarries but where Rog was content to keep it simple and recreational, Hank joined an active diving group.
He soon had acquired his own gear and was into serious ocean diving at various wrecks and other points of diving interest, while still in High School. As a natural consequence he was now finishing work on his Bachelors Degree in Marine Biology at University of Florida and had been accepted for Graduate work in Oceanography' at Woods Hole.
Romantically, he had yet to develop any serious attachments, but appeared to be enjoying all those beautiful girls in bathing suits he encountered in the normal pursuit of his academics. Jim always a bit of a Dare Devil, loved and excelled in the High Bar competition. Rog often referred to him as his "Swinger". Ham, an exceptionally graceful kid, was a joy to watch in the Floor Exercises and did extremely well at that event. They had been in school together from the earliest grades and although casual friends, personality wise, too different, for any closeness to develop.
Dave was a brilliant student but somewhat introverted, while Lanie, bright enough, was in love with the entire world and everyone in it and demonstrative of the fact. She thought of him as a cute little "Nerd", and frequently played the surrogate big sister, since Julie had gone off to college. Now the system was approaching the sequence initiation point and things were starting to happen. Not unlike unplugging the family vacuum cord from a wall socket at home, the plug however, considerably larger, more complex and the force to unplug it, provided by a small controlled explosive charge.
The resulting small blast, would literally blow apart the two mated segments constituting the connector. It was the simplest of functions in a sequence including some very complex ones, flawlessly repeated several hundred times in past operations, only this time, as if to demonstrate that there is no permanent reprieve from "Murphy's Law", nothing happened!
No blast! No movement! No disconnect! The damned thing failed to lire! Leaving Retriever inexorably tied to "Mother" by an Electrical cable pull tested to withstand well over pounds. Thus, unaware that "Murphy" had struck at this most unlikely point, the sequence continued uninterrupted. All fired, as planned, releasing the vehicle and allowing the spring ejection system to propel it away from its mounting surface, for subsequent spin up at a safe distance from "Mother". Fortunately, anticipating normal full separation i the mother system at this point, the design did provide for all subsequent functions in the Reentry procedure to be orchestrated by an onboard de-or programmer, switched on in the vehicle at separation.
This at least precluded activation of the spin up thrusters or Retrorocket while in this anomalous configuration. Among them, massive chunks of debris entering the Earth's atmosphere at random locations, completely out of control. Although much of it would incinerate at atmospheric entry, for masses of size, a significant amount though crushed and charred would still survive atmospheric entry to impact on the Earth below.
In the next pass over a tracking station, the vehicle's automatic data transmission had announced its state of ill health, which was quickly relayed to the Air Force Satellite Control center in the "Blue Cube" on the California coast outside of San Francisco. There it would cause all hell to break loose. First, among military ground control personnel, then like a splash in a pond, spreading throughout the network of corporate engineering organizations, effectively responsible for design, manufacture and operational performance of the system.
With an obvious preference for jokes relative to the "Ould Sod" and its flamboyant inhabitants, it was fascinating to listen to versions of an Irish brogue, by people of various other ethnic backgrounds.
Recent Nearby Sightings
Surprisingly, Abe Klein was more adept at it, than most of those born to the tongue, and his repertoire of humor of all kinds was legend. It was her version of a reality check t0 reaffirm that she still had it. Privately, she and Rog kidded about it regularly and had many a laugh over some of the ramifications of her harmless party pastime. Even with the less than complimentary accompaniment of some of the drunks, the total group sounded pretty good. Rog could stay with them without doing too much artistic damage until they had to hit the higher end of the scale.
Then, in frustration, lamented the vagaries of genetics, which, in spite of a predominant Irish heritage had cursed him with a limited vocal range.
At times like this, "Danny Boy" brought tears to his eyes, part from sentiment and part in frustration. Perhaps accelerated by accompanying Bushmills and soda. Normally a Scotch drinker, he always made a point to switch to Irish whiskey on St. Patrick's day. Murphy"s Chowder", when Marge Blaine called him from the top of the steps to say he had a telephone call. As with most parents with kids at home, his focus leapt immediately to what might have transpired there.
Says lts urgent. Dan Wilkes was a recent rePlacement as Program Manager on the "Retriever" project, a nervous, insecure administrative type. Sensing the nature of the call, he took it on an extension m an upstairs bedroom. Dan, what's up? We've got a real bitch on our hands. A malfunction in the bird and its hung up on mother" VonBargen called me, and I'm about to leave for the office. Can you locate your key guys and meet me there as soon as possible?
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We have to Put together a conference call with the operations guys at the Blue Cube, aS quickly as we can get your technical Weenies together. I have a few loose end call my guys from home before I head in. Jan had obviously been assured by Terry that it was a business call from Dan Wilkes and consequently sidled up and asked, "Whats up with old Nervous in the Service? The Kleins can drop you when they leave, they go right past the house". This is St. Patricks Day and they certainly know you're Irish". A more suspicious wife would swear that the two of you were running around on the sly, under the cloak of national security.
I never thought. Now, I better haul ass before Dan wets his pants all over the office floor. Make my apologies to our hosts and friends. Just tell them l forgot to turn the light off in my office and the company's on an economy kick. In normal work hour traffic, the drive from Rog's home in the valley took about forty minutes, but he'd make it to the plant in twenty-five tonight.
Bill Ullinger, Phil Ehling and and Crey Newell had all been home in various stages of preparation for bed. As old hands in the covert game, after the usual perfunctory protestations and garrulous attempts at humor, they all run off, to make explanations to their families, prepare for the drive in and the long all night session sure to follow.
As it turned out, only Dick Flowers and his new second wife were out for the evening, also at a St. Pats Party.
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A teen age son from his first time around answered, saying that they were due home in about an hour. Rather than take more time and complicate things, Rog simply left a message asking Dick to head for the office as soon as he got home, knowing that as another old hand he would sense the urgency and be on his way. He smiled at the thought, that if this had been last year what a Hoot it would have been to show up at the crisis meeting dressed in the Leprechaun get up.
Two years ago, after procrastinating over it for some time, he had finally gotten up the courage to submit a Technical paper for presentation at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Symposium. The subject, a hypothetical design concept of an Orbital Recovery Vehicle for commercial applications, drawing on what "Retriever" experience he was able to disclose without violating security restrictions.
Somewhat to his surprise, the paper was accepted and he was invited to present it at the annual A. Despite a bit of nervous tension relative to the actual presentation, it was well received and quite satisfying personally, once it was over. Again, he was please to get acceptance and an invitation to present at this years symposium in Boston. Unfortunately, the symposium date was one and a half weeks hence! There Harry, one of the more senior security guards on duty, carefully checked his badge even though they had known each other for years. Mannion, Mr.
Ehling passed through about fifteen minutes ago, then Mr. Ullinger just before you. Now, there's Mr. Newell's car just pulling into the lot. Then together they took the elevator to their fifth floor, high security, cipher locked area. Crey, one of those strikingly handsome men, had actually done some male modeling to pay his way through Engineering School and then, later, his graduate studies. Many of his more casual associates and most of the secretaries he encountered, wondered why, with his looks, he hadn't continued on into full time modeling or tried some form of show business?
They, simply didn't know the guy. If there ever was an individual who loved technology and engineering it was Crey. He had the fascination of all scientists, to know how things work with the added compulsion common to engineers, to translate that knowledge into useful devices and systems. He had the bug, had it in spades, and would never have been happy doing anything else. His specialty was Structural Analysis and Dynamics and he was considered pretty much World Class by his colleagues and associates.
A number of well received technical papers presented by him, nationally and internationally, tended to verify their high esteem. Married and completely faithful to a lovely gal, Millie, who he met in college and married just after graduation. Considering the level of competition she must have faced at that time, she had to have been one Hell of a woman. The subsequent years proved that beyond a doubt. With all the trappings of a stable, happy marriage, they now have boy and girl teenagers and eight year old girl twins.
God knows, his looks which if anything improved with maturity, provided more than ample opportunity. This despite the fact that Newells lived about ten miles away. Almost reluctant to explore the myriad of frightening possibilities in prospect. Better to wait on some official definition and confirmation before going off half cocked! There they could expect to find the gathering crisis team.
On such occasions that well equipped, secure location, always served as the command center for these activities. Its furnishings included a large conference table, a bank of telephones, a large TV with separate speakers, a side table, and cabinet housing a coffee maker and the various accoutrements necessary for heavy use of that stimulant so much a part of these activities.
As it turned out he hadn't called Joe earlier but apparently had thought better of trying to handle the Program Office end of this crisis by himself. Joe had been with the "Retriever" program since its inception, serving in his present role under Ray Abbate, the original Program Manager. When Ray left the company for a Vice Presidency position in another corporate technology giant it was assumed by all of their associates that Joe would be his natural replacement. Unfortunately, in another example of how unfair life can be, the powers that be saw it differently.
Dan Wilkes coming off a completed, lesser program, received the appointment to the surprise and chagrin of everyone involved. Diplomacy however, was not his long suite, and in his disappointment at the choice Rog recalled the many heated confrontations, normal in any such complex undertaking, in which they had both taken part. Joe's quick, acid wit no doubt rubbed someone of influence, a bit beyond they're tolerance for the give and take of such interaction.
Joe would be joining them shortly. We have one Hell of a problem and I'm going to need all the assistance I can get. He told me to drop everything and get my ass in here to a secure phone and get back to him ASAP. I managed to make it in and call back a little after just before I called you. He was particularly insistent that we have you and your Guys on board immediately. He insists that you call him back with a preliminary' action plan, as soon as we're done with this briefing. Now let me fill you in on our problem, as best as I understand it from the Colonels' call, it's a Bitch and the operations guys in the field are really jumpin' up and down.
They say that everything was going like clockwork up to the point of separation of "Retriever" from "Mother". As best they can tell, at this time, the pyro failed to lire in the umbilical disconnect. Then, at vehicle separation, the RV only moved away a few inches and was brought up short by the still intact umbilical cord. Fortunately the subsequent Reentry Vehicle de-orbit sequence is controlled by the programmer in the RV, activated by umbilical separation. So the last word from the Colonel has the whole shebang tracking along in its normal orbit except that it now features our "Retriever" vehicle dangling out the front end, constrained by a leash, as it were, Since it's our vehicle, everybody wants us to tell them what the Hell to do about it and damned fast!
National Space Defense Command Center, located there in Kazakhstan, some miles South east of Moscow, had become almost routine even monotonous. In the past 24 hours however, frantic activity had been in growing evidence, culminating in the high level meeting currently in progress in the secure command level conference room.
So there can be no mistake, let me summarize briefly, my impression of what I think you have just told me". Except for the craven deception the warmongers perpetrated on those blundering fools who proceeded me, the imperialist's operational pattern has been relatively unchanged and predictable since then. This concerns me greatly! Perhaps all of their self-righteous pressure to outlaw the Orbital Bombardment concept, some years ago, was a deception and we are now looking at their operational version of such a destructive system.
Perhaps preparing to rain a number of independently targeted nuclear armed reentry vehicles on unsuspecting cities in Mother Russia. We have been able to keep them engaged, agitated and spending large sums in support of their lackeys around the World without direct confrontation. Now, could they have finally lost patience and decided to end it with a devastating surprise attack on us? Perhaps some of our more recent international provocations have pushed him to a point of taking the action he appears prone to, if we are to believe the Psychological profiles drawn up on him by our specialists in that area.
I am issuing you a direct command to bring our retaliatory forces to a Yellow Alert status. I will immediately contact our leaders and brief them on this situation. Report immediately to me on any further changes in our tracking data and alert all forces to be prepared for further escalation in our alert status at any time! If those Imperialist fools want a war they will not find the Soviet Military sleeping as they were at Pearl Harbor! They quickly realized however, that to produce anything meaningful they would need more specific technical detail than the somewhat emotional input received by way of Dan Wilkes.
Donohue, a retired Lt. Colonel, was a former Air Force pilot. Because of his flying background and familiarity with Air Force customs and procedures, Paul was extremely effective in his essentially, liaison role at the satellite tracking facility. He was also a friendly, intelligent guy that Rog liked and had always interacted with amicably. Alert, but still obviously a "Happy Hibernian" residual from his evening celebrating St. Paddy driving out the snakes.
Now I know l should have gone into medicine, at least l could have scheduled abortions at a civilized hour! Rog, it must be a bitch of a problem for you to cut short your annual, alcoholic homage to St. Incidentally I like your tie. A bitch, Dick, sit down and prepare for a long one. I'll let the Guys fill you in on the available details while I put through a call to Paul Donohue, We had just started when you arrived.
The background noise in the room said pandemonium. Paul was on the line almost immediately and after a perfunctory exchange of Graveyard Humor, quickly Filled in the details that were not forthcoming from the earlier exchange between Dan and the Colonel. The attitude control system had pointed the combination precisely, with a minimum of "Hunting," to within the half degree accuracy tolerance.
This entailed the Simultaneous firing of four explosive bolts comprising the physical attachment between ih two units. Spring cartridges, then gently and precisely pushed Retriever clear of "Mother". The umbilical separation event aborted and tragically, unaffected by that prior failure in the sequence, the vehicle separation performed flawlessly. The mechanical attachments were pyrotechnically severed and the spring cartridges gently kicked "Retriever" away.
Sadly however, for only about sixteen inches. There it was restrained from further movement by the free length of the umbilical line still firmly attached to "Mother" as a result of the malfunction in its pyrotechnic disconnect. Since that time, the total system had continued in orbit in an altered configuration, open at the forward end with its' "Retriever" vehicle dangling, as it were, outside the nose of the main body. The temperature in that area had now reached degrees and was climbing steadily with each succeeding rotation.
If we don't do something quick that damned retro-rocket is going to go like a bomb! What's more, it will almost certainly set off the main fuel supply and blast "Mother" into junk! Dick, quickly, how much leeway do we have before that happy occasion? I'll find out damn fast, though. Fortunately, I've dealt with Max Severin down there for years and he's a friend of mine.
More important, I have his home number in my book. I'll be right back! Since the earliest days of these orbital surveillance programs there had always been a lurking concern that some anomalous situation might inadvertently de-orbit one of the vehicles, such that it reentered the atmosphere over Russian territory, to be mistaken for an attacking ICBM.
Years of improving performance and excellent reliability had greatly diminished this concern. Now however, statistics as they have a way of doing, was about to bite them in the Ass! In less than 10 minutes he came through the conference room door, if anything, more agitated than before. Rog, this is even worse than I thought.
The auto- ignition temperature on the fuel mix in that retrorocket is degrees Fahrenheit with an error band of about plus or minus 20 degrees. By my quick numbers that says we have about seven, maybe eight more orbits to get that sucker out of the sun and drop its' temperature or we're in big trouble.
Max assures me that under auto-ignition, that retro-rocket will go like a bomb. Surely powerful enough to set off "Mothers" main fuel supply and blow her into a number of sizable chunks. Sophisticated orbital manipulation devolved to quick action based on one simple fact. Continued exposure, in orbit, to the impingement of solar energy, unfiltered by the Earth's atmosphere was heating up the exposed retro-rocket at a continuos rate. They had to get the damned thing out of the Sun! VonBargen, ignoring the usual protocol of having Dan initiate the contact.
There was no rebuttal when Rog pointed out that, since they had no way of knowing the physical position or attitude of "Retriever" relative to "Mother". Success or failure would be determined by monitoring temperature in the critical area on each succeeding orbit, with roughly 90 minutes between each check. If "Retriever" was still snugly in contact, or better still partly entrapped in the front end of "Mother", this simplest of maneuvers could get it into her shadow with little fuss. In the event that no positive results were forthcoming, the orbiting system would be im mediately commanded to rotate itself 90 degrees about its yaw Earth pointing axis on its next pass, placing "Deliverer" at the far end of the orbiting system facing away from the Sun.
He then shut down the contact for roughly 90 minutes until the vehicle would complete its next orbit and present them with another temperature reading. Maxtead, his boss at Space Command, who would no doubt inform the Joint Chiefs and ultimately the President. That disclosure clearly defined the seriousness of the situation, eliciting a circle of sickly expressions around the Omega conference table and in Dan, profuse perspiration and a nervous tic. Assuming however they could get the Retro rocket temperature under control it still only bought time relative to the primary disaster in waiting.
How long they could keep it under control was fraught with uncertainty. The prospects were so sobering that almost immediately the group commenced brain storming in a frantic search for a solution to make it all go away.
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Visions of large chunks of "Eagle Eye" reentering the atmosphere into Russian airspace and ultimate impact in Red territory, of debris surviving reentry heating, precluded the simple pleasures of nail biting. Rog would get Joe aside privately later for a more factual discussion and to get him involved in the serious technical problem solving process. When Ray Abbate had resigned from the company, to take advantage of the great career opportunity he had been offered, everyone had assumed Joe to be his natural replacement.
He was competent, experienced on the program and well liked by his colleagues. Of course one of the major attributes contributing to that popularity was his quick wit and the acid commentary he often employed in dealing with the uninitiated, asking stupid questions. This, regardless of whether they represented management above or customer without.
Undoubtedly it was this special skill employed at the wrong time, on the wrong individual, which led to his "Passover" and brought them Dan! Ray Abbate, an extremely astute Program Manager, recognized this affinity between his assistant and his Chief Engineer and encouraged their working closely together. At any rate, in the midst of what was beginning to assume proportions of a potential disaster, Rog was relieved to see Joe arrive.
Particularly with Dan starting to show signs of coming apart at the seams! Quickly it became apparent that there were no practical options available to cut lose the dangling reentry vehicle and leave the orbiting Eagle Eye system operationally intact and capable of completing the rest of its full mission. That, of gathering the additional data, sufficient to fill its second "Retriever" vehicle and then sending it successfully on its way home. After the last reentry vehicle was safely on its way, "Mother" was carefully maneuvered, by ground control, into the proper attitude to fire its own Retro rocket at the proper predetermined point in its orbit.
This powerful unit, when activated, provided the braking action necessary to cause the massive system to fall out of orbit along a planned ballistic trajectory, insuring its impact in a remote deep water region of the North Pacific. There, the debris that survived atmospheric re-entry threatened no one, splashed down relatively unnoticed and sunk well beyond the reach of any attempt at unauthorized retrieval. Before Ivan, no doubt tracking the whole thing, over reacted with his usual paranoia and did something precipitous. Dick Flowers mimicking his boss, Abe Klein's regular put on from his Yiddish background, described it best, "So it shouldn't be a total loss!
Out of consideration for that fact, the design of the "Retriever" vehicle which performed this last crucial function, was carefully and conservatively fashioned. This allowed the reentry vehicle, stripped of used appendages, to commence reentry clean and aerodynamic. Screeching into the atmosphere with an unwanted appendage still attached to its backside was a no-no relative to successful reentry and recovery. Still, there was hope that at least half of the intended mission might be accomplished.
If they were lucky and if the recovery aircraft could still locate and manage to air snatch the descending capsule after such an unconventional arrival. After his departure there was a bit of irreverent jesting about him wanting to have his breakdown in private. Dick suggested that perhaps he didn't want to disturb our meeting with his Primal Scream Therapy. He seemed ready to allow Joe, Rog and the technical team to work the problem without his managerial posturing. The news, not just disappointing, was to some degree, terrifying. The retrorocket temperature had actually increased 12 degrees more than on prior orbits and was now at a frightening degrees Fahrenheit.
The first trial maneuver had done more harm than good, so while the system was still in signal range instructions for the second trial attitude change was transmitted and the "big sucker" was now pointed "ass end" into the Sun as Paul put it. Hopefully, with the "Retriever" vehicle dangling out the other end in its long shadow, added Rog to himself, in a silent prayer. Working the details of the coming operation to a "gnats ass", they were determined to maximize the odds of recovering "Retriever ", while assuring a flawless watery interment of the total orbiting system.
Von Bargen on the details and results of their team deliberations. After funneling a few reasonable technical questions from his staff, which Rog was able to answer, He and his Air Force team readily agreed with their conclusions and before ringing off said that he would alert his command and recovery forces as to what would be coming down the line.
While unable to reveal even a whisper of what was transpiring, he could, at least in generalities, fill her in on the crazy schedule he would probably be living for a while. They were both early risers and in spite of the late night partying, he knew that she would at least, be awake. As it turned out she was already having her morning coffee in the kitchen where the girls were at breakfast and preparing to leave for school. Romeo, how did things work out for your shank of the evening, Was it good for Kells? Babe, I don't know how you do it, out partying half the night and you still can make jokes.
Personally, I'm bushed and I'll probably get a lot more hushed before things are done. As for poor Kells, hopefully, she got a good nights sleep at her, or maybe Denny's place, blissfully unaware of what she'll run into when she arrives here in another hour or so. I thought with your sudden departure, here is as my big chance to get involved in a little scandal. Not that Jake Horton didn't give it his usual try, but Lydia, ever alert, dragged him off before we could get anything going.
People aren't completely stupid and by this time. Most of our friends and neighbors are businessmen or in sales and for them its' not common practice to disappear from a party in the middle of the night after getting a mysterious phone call. I'm sure they all have visions of you involved in some kind of James Bond action. You're not "shooting it out" with any bad guys, are you Rog?
Seriously, though. I thought I better let you know that my schedule is going to be a bit hairy for a while. I should be able to get home this afternoon or early evening for some sleep. I better. Unfortunately, after that l'll probably have to skip town for a while. After all the work and preparation you put into it, don't tell me this fiasco is going to louse that up?
Considering the somewhat unpredictable nature of our calling, along with normal illnesses, it can't be the first time they have had to cope with an absentee speaker. Yes, I'm a bit disappointed, but this is my job and that's the way it is and l'll get over it. What the Hell! God knows this is enough to scare the crap out of anybody but this is no time for a guy in his position to fall apart.
He practically asked me to take over and with his ego, that has to tell you what kind of shape he is in. Von Bargen is well aware of that, along with everyone else on the program. If Dan keeps to his office, biting his nails and stays out of our hair, the odds of a successful conclusion only improve. So lets count our blessings and get on with it.
The temperature was still rising but at a lower rate than on all previous orbits, this time only 52 degrees, 28 less than in the initial increases. Obviously, in this new attitude, at least part of the "Retriever" vehicle must be in shadow. So the last attitude change helped, provided some clues relative to their next attitude change and bought some extra time. It was to late to transmit instructions for the next attitude change from the California command center, but in roughly another half hour its orbital track would bring the system over a supplementary tracking and command facility in the Australian outback.
It was an inherent part of a worldwide tracking and control network set up with the cooperation of friendly, participating nations. Most of the Americans on assignment there found it a "Hoot" working with the Aussies, particularly, the "Sheilas" who had a flare all their own. The damnedest thing they had to deal with was the uncertainty of the attachment between the reentry vehicle and "Mother". Had the RV become jammed in place such that as they maneuvered the total system it would follow along in the same relative position or was it dangling unrestrained from its umbilical cord, flopping randomly with each controlled maneuver?
Confronted with this lack of information there was clearly no basis for rational choice, so when Rog in frustration said, "The hell with it, lets roll the sonofabitch 90 degrees clockwise and see what happens, if the temp moves in the wrong direction they can immediately roll it degrees counter clockwise, surely one or the other has got to help. Even in only a half orbit the temperature had skyrocketed. It had increased by 92 degrees and considering that the first half orbit should have been at the lower rate, the combined average was alarming.
They had immediately commanded the degrees counterclockwise back up and now all were faced with a white knuckled 90 minutes until the next data point. This hypothesis made sense to Rog, and everyone else, at least it provided a plausible explanation. Davorkan was in a high state of agitation, some in response to external stimuli, some in keeping with his perception of his own self image.
Gorgarich had just completed updating him on the latest behavioral pattern of the American satellite observed by the soviet tracking facilities. He now stood quietly as Davorkin paced, gestured and launched into a diatribe based on his own interpretation of what was afoot. It was an intimidating experience, even for Davorkin. He had never really spoken, in length, to the Chairman before. They had met on several past occasions, but those were perfunctory contacts, at official governmental functions or social events for upper level general officers and political figures.
The spoken interchange between them on those occasions, consisted of the equivalents of "Da" and "Nyet" from the general, in response to specific questions from the chairman, always shaded in a manner to emphasize who was in charge. This time, he was the technical expert describing, interpreting and explaining a complex, threatening situation to a group of concerned but relatively untutored politicians. Perhaps, out of fear of the unknown, they did accord him a significant degree of proper respect, untypical of prior meetings.