Chapter 8 Tuesday, 1000 hours (10 AM)
The sky was clear and the winds calm, perfect conditions for the deployment of the drone. It was little more than a radio controlled toy really. Its eight foot wingspan dwarfed the tiny fuselage that was just large enough to hold the small downward-pointing TV camera.
It floated lazily, high over the zoo, its tiny engine buzzing, invisibly guided by a police transmitter from the roof of the high-rise across from the park. There, four officers squinted at the video screen displaying the drones aerial reconnaissance images. They had to squint close since the video monitor was outside on the roof, in the bright light of day. From its height, the zoo looked at peace. Now they would send the drone lower.
The Calfer on the SkySafari saw it first. He radioed a report in to Zoo Center. Joshua was sought out and told. Joshua headed immediately to a particular zoo maintenance cart which was provisioned for such a contingency. En route, Jack caught up and asked to go along. With Jack in the bed of the cart, Joshua drove to a sparse area near the Bronx River, the wide, slow moving tributary which flows through the zoo.
The police on the roof had no time to react to the missile. They instinctively pulled back from the screen at the moment the dark gray form of the rocket filled the field of view of the drones camera. Then the video monitor went dead. An instant later they heard the detonation and turned to look at the fireball spreading out and downward into the zoo.
On the ground, Jack and Joshua observed the display. The missile, made for far bigger game than a little drone, had immolated the aircraft as well as itself. A few flaming fragments fell into the river bringing forth miniature hissing puffs of steam.
As they drove back in triumph, Jack started to get angry. The drone obviously was launched from the high-rise roof and they had a radio bug up there. The techies should have been listening in. Why then, hadnt they gotten a warning. Jack screeched the cart to a stop in its usual spot and bolted up to the communications room for an explanation.
"The bugs? What bugs? Oh yeah. Look. We cant do everything. We cant be everywhere," said the techies.
"Well turn them on now," said Jack evenly.
For the next fifteen minutes Jack and the techies listened with satisfaction to curses and recriminations uttered on the distant roof.
"See that this kind of goof-up doesnt happen again," said Jack as he strode out of the communications room.