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He ordered Prinsloo to launch airboats and make a search; cautioned him to be careful of radiation, but to take no chances on any of the Gaucho's complement being still alive and in need of help. While that was going on, the Sky-Spy reported another ship coming over her horizon to the east, from the direction of Bwork. That would be the Oom Paul Kruger.

The spots that marked the enemy ship and her hunters crawled, too; seen from the hundred-and-fifty-mile altitude of the Sky-Spy, even the six-hundred-mile speed of the Gaucho was barely visible. They drank coffee till the stuff revolted them; they smoked until their throats and mouths were dry, they watched the screens until they thought that they would see them in their dreams forever.

That was about twenty minutes ago; at last report, she's fifty miles north of Keegark, headed up the Hoork River." Von Schlichten started thinking aloud: "That could be a feint, to draw our ships north after her, and leave the approach to Konkrook or Kankad's open, but that would be presuming that they know about the Sky-Spy, and I doubt that, though not enough to take chances on.

"Yes, of course; he can have anything he wants, as long as it isn't urgently needed for the bomb project." "Sky-Spy reports normal contragravity traffic between Keegark and the farming-villages around aircars, lorries, a few scows but nothing suspicious. No trace of either of the Boer-class ships.

"Well, the posts at the old Kragan castles report some contragravity, and parties riding 'saurs, moving west from the city," she told him. "There are a lot of refugees on the roads. And combat reports from Konkrook agree that resistance is getting weaker every hour.... And the supra-atmosphere observation-craft they're beginning to call her the Sky-Spy is up a hundred and fifty miles over Keegark.

The Jan Smuts vanished in a blaze of light that blinded everybody in the room; when they could see again, after some thirty seconds, the screen was dark. In the direct-vision screen from the Sky-Spy, the whole countryside of the Konk Valley, five hundred miles north of Konkrook, was lighted. The heat and radiation detectors were going insane.

The Northern Lights, also with screens tuned to the Sky-Spy, was sent to take over the Aldebaran's regular station. Finally, he called Skilk and had the Northern Star sent south down the Hoork Valley. After that, there was nothing to do but wait, and watch the screens.

He had the Aldebaran sent north along the crest of the mountain-range between the Hoork and Konk river-valleys, where she could cover both with her own radar and other detection-devices and exchange information with the Sky-Spy, and the Gaucho sent in what looked like the right course to intercept the Boer-class freighter from Keegark.

"The Sky-Spy just detected a ship lifting out from Keegark, presumed one of the Boer-class freighters, either the Jan Smuts or the Oom Paul Kruger. It was first picked up on contragravity at about a hundred feet, rising vertically from near the Palace. The supposition is the geeks had her camouflaged since the time Commander Prinsloo first bombarded Keegark with the Aldebaran.

The Keegarkan ship was completely blacked out, but the radiations from her engines and the distinctive radiation-pattern of her contragravity-field showed clearly, and there was a speck that marked her position on the radar-screen. The same position was marked with a pin-point of light on the vision screen some device on Sky-Spy, synchronized with the detectors, kept it focused there.