11 January 2018

Chapter 10: MHI Alaska - A Dish Served Cold

Big Lake:

Rick tried to pull himself even further into his parka. Man, it's cold out here, he thought. He'd seen cold weather before, into the -70° range outside of North Pole, but this was unnaturally frigid. Back in the '70s, when Harvey traveled in an unearthly pocket of supercooled air, it had been this cold. But even that flash-freeze zone wasn't spread across this much territory.

He turned his head as a gust of wind blew icy snow crystals into his face. No matter how tightly you cinch everything down, cold always gets in. 

Except these temps could kill you before you knew you were freezing.

"Hey, Rick - how large a perimeter do you want make with these detectors?" asked Tom. "I'm having trouble tightening the straps."

"That's the trouble with extreme cold: you lose the ability to do simple things, and everything takes a lot longer."

Tom just nodded, and kept strapping temperature sensors and motion detectors to trees about 30 feet apart. Just breathing was painful, and talking was an effort.

"We need plenty of notice if this ... whatever it is ... gets any closer."

"Okay, but my hands are really cold."

"Let's get back inside, and you send the next guy out to take over. None of us should stay outside any longer than we have to."

* * * * *

Once inside, Rick joined the others in the meeting room. The baseboard heaters were hot to the touch, but the room remained cool.

He took a seat and cleared his throat. "Okay, listen up, Hunters. Let's start with the obvious: we've got woods to the north, a pond on the east side, and the green belt to the west and south. When the source moves our way - and you know it will - it won't be so accommodating as to take the belt, out in the open. So the woods are the probable approach. We can't stay inside to fight it, so prepare for the coldest temps you've ever seen. Make sure your gear is lubed with aircraft grease or machine oil. The grease is good to 50 below, but it's already colder than that. Any prolonged time outside is going to make the action stiff."

"Also remember that we brought Harvey down with a heavy rate of fire. We don't know if this is the Sons of Harvey, or something else. But one thing we're good at is putting a lot of rounds on target, in a short amount of time."

There was some laughter at that, but it died quickly. Chairs squeaked as people sought more comfortable positions.

Rick stretched his leg out, to ease the ache in his knee. "Since everyone's here - and I'm looking at you, Jamie - we don't really need to talk strategy; this is nothing new. Don't let 'em sneak up behind you, keep an eye on the trees around you for any sign of a sudden temperature drop, and watch your flanks. Questions?"

Dusty asked, "Are we going to use the new drones?"

"No. I'd love to get some eyes in the sky, but it's too cold. The batteries and motors will freeze at these temps."

Rick raised his hand, pointing at the back of the room. "Val, bless her heart, sent several cases of hand- and foot-warmers. Be sure to stuff your boots and gloves with as many as you need. Put extras in your pockets, too. We don't know how long we'll have to wait.

* * * * *

Not long, as it turned out. The Hunters were still moving to positions inside the southern edge of the woods when they began hear branches snapping, up ahead.

There was a thick fog moving toward them. Trees took on a fuzzy appearance as the hoarfrost rapidly thickened. Ice-laden branches broke off and fell, landing with a whoompf in the heavy snow drifts. 

The air grew darker as the fog swallowed them up. 


DISCLAIMER: I do not own MHI or any of its characters; those are owned and copyright Larry Correia. I only claim the ones I've created. And a BIG h/t to Mr. Correia for creating such a wonderful universe in which to play, and for his kind permission to use his concepts here.

A h/t also to Jenny S., who contributed a couple of crucial ideas to improve this short story and the graphic team patch above. Her help has been invaluable, both here and in my first book. 


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Yay! Thanks for posting, Reverend!

Old NFO said...

Well done!

Rev. Paul said...

Thank you both, gentlemen. I'm going to try & stick with it.

JayNola said...

I was just thinking about this stuff yesterday. Reading Larry's website. I do enjoy these Rev.

Rev. Paul said...

I'm glad you like it, sir. More is on the way.