“It is a satellite?”
“My team analyzed the overhead images the asset provided, your Majesty,” HarMakeg said. “They came from something at least four-hundred kilometers above the surface.”
Orlin got up from his chair and looked at the sky through the East windows. Lor was low, but still above the horizon in the West, so the sky was a dull purple empty of stars. Not that he could have seen what he was looking for even if it was night.
A satellite. How had they gotten one of those? How had it remained hidden?
He had been expecting a stealthed high-altitude airship of some kind. His own scientists were working on one that could park over a battlefield at twenty kilometers up and avoid detection unless a careful search was made, but they still hadn’t gotten the hiding part to the point where it would survive.
But no. The Warsisters had something far better.
“If it is a satellite then they can track our artillery rounds from the moment they’re fired. With that kind of tracking we won’t be able to pierce their interdiction.”
Without the artillery, the invasion would be far too costly. Orlin could easily lose half of what he had sent, resulting in rebellions across the continent when hidden enemies realized his army had no deployable forces.
The invasion would have to wait until the satellite was gone.
“For now, maintain the siege. We know the Warsisters ship in many of the resources for their weapons manufacturing. Without fresh supplies they’ll hit a limit on how much they can build up their forces. And keep them from taking any more of our equipment. It’s shameful.”
“I’ll increase the strength of individual patrols.” HarMakeg’s voice echoed from the speaker. “Now that most of the forces are in place, we can outmatch their raiding parties.”
“Good.” Orlin turned around and went back to his desk. “I’ll put everything we have on finding that satellite. Now that we know what it is, it won’t be able to hide forever.”
He lowered himself back into the chair and pulled up an empty note on his computer. Military observatories, of course. He could requisition the largest civilian ones, as well, and stock them with his people. They didn’t have much radio scanning anymore but he was certain his engineers could figure something out.
Finding it would be only half a solution, however. He would also need a way to kill it. If it was surviving up in the debris belt it would have to be armored. More than most military satellites of the previous era had been. It’s anti-laser armor could be very robust, and at that distance, getting a standard anti-missile laser to do anything to it would be hard. He would need something special.
Problems for his scientists.
There were more immediate matters that fell in his own domain.
“You said the satellite confirmation was a first offering from your new asset? What else can it give us?”
“My informant can give us warnings of where your brother’s forces will be in Akati several hours before they move out. The camp is fortified against attack, but if we can catch them with a large enough force when they deploy, we should be able to smash them.”
“You mean a dual operation between the Black Maw Raiders and your fast reaction force.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
That was very doable. Apparently his brother had been running around in Akati playing some kind of hero, and it was making the local raiders very angry. Zarteg ParThanek, leader of the Black Maw Raiders, had already agreed to put four battalions of armor at Orlins disposal in exchange for official control of Akati once Orlin secured his hold over the Empire. Combined with his own rapid reaction force that made eight battalions, close to a full division that he could drop on Rixken’s head.
He just had to know when and where to do it.
“You are certain your informant can deliver the information we need?”
“The asset is well placed.”
“What does this person want?”
“Immunity. And a nice farm to live on somewhere peaceful.”
Someone with a sensible price. Orlin smiled.
“Done. Make sure your men and the raiders know who not to shoot.”
“I will do so, your Majesty.”
“Good.” Orlin thought of all the things he would have to put in motion over the next few days. The Empire hadn’t had a satellite finding program in two centuries. Let alone a satellite killing one.
Well, perhaps this would be the first step to getting back into space.
But all of that would come tomorrow. It was already too late to do anything but give a bunch of delicate scientists a bad night’s sleep.
As for HarMakeg…
“Take a break tomorrow, Niril. You have a wait ahead of you, and I want you in top form when the moment comes. Rixken will not get away this time.”
“Yes, your majesty. As you say. He will not get away.”
This chapter is part of the in-progress serial web novel The Unbroken Blade, intended to be book one in The Shattered Empire trilogy, and features a mix of sci-fi and thematic elements reminiscent of near-future military fiction such as Gasaraki or Isaac Hooke’s Atlas series and sci-fi combat classics such as Mechwarrior/Battletech and Gundam. The story is rich with battle and conflicts of honor and conscience arising around a civil war on the forested world of Dankar, far from our own, but is primarily focused on how the main characters deal with the challenges they face, not their machines or their world. Follow this blog to receive each chapter as soon as it is released. Like and share to give me a shot of encouragement. Full chapter updates on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.