Now his troops were secure, Olaf could start scanning the region to the west. With the two weeks of travel to the site of the forward base, they were near the old Belarusian border. Without the shuttle, they were at least three weeks on a bicycle from New Romanovka to the south west of the town.
“Headquarters, assemble. We are going to mount up in the shuttle and scan the surrounding region for energy signals. Every theory of the weapon, from both the scientists and Lilith, state it has to give off a large energy signature. Unless it’s on something like a nuclear-powered tank, which we should be able to track as well, it has to emit an etheric or dimensional energy signature.
“If it seems viable, we will raid the site to capture the weapon, so pack heavy. Otherwise, we return. Then, leaving a company on site to protect our forward base, the rest will equip for travel and mount a raid in force. Either way, we will leave a squad of Were volunteers on site to observe and report along the line of advance.”
“Major Petrova, you will have command of the forward base. In the unlikely event, communications is lost with the shuttle, you are to report the event to New Romanovka and move in on the last reported location.”
The Major nodded unhappily at that. Although Olaf would have twenty-four people on the shuttle, if it was taken out she didn’t want to be the one to tell Boris and Janna. Someone would have to though.
“Sir, I must request that someone else lead the scouting expedition, again. I know that you wish to be there, that you believe that actually seeing the land we may need to fight across. But…” She paused and took a deep breath, “Boris is sure to be furious if you die on a scouting mission. In fact, it is arguable that neither you nor I should go on the first flight to assess an unknown threat that could take out the shuttle scanning for it.”
Olaf grimaced but held firm. “The risk is minimal at worst. The advantage knowing the terrain for myself is too great. Pictures and verbal reports only go so far. We have scanned the area between the town and here. We’ve talked to local farmers. There is only one force that any of the farmers have seen, and it came from the west.”
“Out of all the countries with a propensity for weapons research, the only one that makes any sense is Belarus. The Russians would have placed such research in western Siberia, well away from any enemy. Politically, it is the one that seems to fit the type of country that the Forsaken preferred. If we don’t find anything by the time we are scanning and searching a hundred miles west of Minsk we’ll have to re-think. But for now, we are doing exactly what my father ordered. I need to be there to judge if any raid is an acceptable risk and to lead the attack if it is. It is what my father would do.” Olaf knew that to keep the respect of the Weres he might one day rule he needed to lead from the front when he could.
More than that, he needed to lead from the front for himself. He needed to feel the crash of battle around him. Both his Mother and Father had, and he could do no less. Not if he was to rule as well as they had. He needed to know what his own soldiers faced.
Discontented fear rumbled through the ranks of the officers, but Olaf silenced it with a glare. “Besides, the weapon only seems to ravage wood and flesh. Inside the alloy hull of the shuttle we should be safe from it,” he finished confidently.
With that, he said “I leave in thirty minutes. Those designated troops need to be on the shuttle or be left behind.”