The Book

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2007, 08:23:28 AM »
"What makes you say that?" Gayer asked

"Let's just say I've got a hunch." he replied and together they walked the curving corridor into the dining room which was slowly filling with people from the corridor. A large buffet table was set up along the far wall hosting a full continental-style breakfast, complete with national newspapers from all around the world.

"I wonder how they get the papers here so early? We're at the arse-crack of the world and I'm holding this morning's Daily Telegraph from England!" Chris mused as he picked up the paper along with a croissant and yoghurt.

"I honestly don't care" Said gayer, between mouthfuls of toast "I don't read the paper anyway."

They sat down and watched the other 'explorers' coming into the halland appreciated for the first time, just how few there were. 27 people were in the room, the only people not present were Dann, Tom Bishop and Raist. Trekky  had sat himself down in the corner with a scowl on his face, taking care of Muffs seemed to be getting the better of him. Muffs herself was happily helping herself to her third fruit yoghurt.

"How do you not get fat?" He growled at her.

"Youthfull vigour!" She chirped back "Something you seem to have lost!"


Dann finally reappeared with just ten minutes before they were due to head out to the vehicle sheds, Raist followed in non-chalantly and they peeled off to separate tables.

"Why don't you just bring him over?" Gayer whispered "I mean, it's fairly obvious how you feel, and neither of us care."

"I don't know what you mean." He declared and buried his head in Chris' newspaper. Both Chris and Gayer decided to drop the topic, besides there wasn't really enough time to go into it, in less than five minutes time they would be making a move to see the Ice Cruiser cars

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2007, 07:24:22 AM »
Dann continued to dodge the topic concerning Raist and him all the way down to the vehicle sheds, eventually Chris and Gayer both decided to give it up. Instead of going through the massive main entrances on the sheds, the explorers entered the warehouse-like constructs from a small side-door connected to the SnowFox dome through a short corridor..

"Before we go in, can I ask all of you to make sure the external doors remain closed at all times, some of the Cruisers still have exposed engines and we don't want the cold getting at them when there's no reason to, ok?" Dogplatter said ""Please follow me in."

There was an almost simoultanious gasp from everyone  as they  made their way into the cavernous sheds. They had seen the pictures of the Ice Cruisers, sure, but nothing could quite prepare them for the sheer scale of the behemoths. The Nearest car to them, the 'Rowbotham' was more than twice Chrissetti's height and long as well as wide.

"All right, listen up." Tom Bishop said, appearing at Dogplatter's side as though by magic "This is where we will read out the final groups and the name and number of the Car you will be traveling in. Go to your allotted car and one of our technicians will talk you through the controls and procedures. All right:
Car one, 'Rowbotham'. Trekky, Muffs and Myself
Car two: 'Shenton'. Midnight, TheEngineer and Raist.
Car Three: 'Ross'. Chaltier, Raa and Dogplatter
Car four: ' Columbus'. Mr Ireland, Space Cowgirl, and Bytes."

As he read out the names, the people separated from the main group, met up in their three's and walked over to their chosen cars.

"Car Five:'Johnson'. 0042, Narcberry, and Token
Car six: 'Dowie'. Rex, Cheesejoff, and Gulliver
Car seven: 'Amundsen'. Diego Draw, Saddam, and Z
Car Eight: 'Lazarev' Chrissetti, Gayer and Dann
Car nine: 'MacKenzie' Bushido, Divito and vauxhall
And finally car ten:' Weddell'. Althalus, Masterchief, and Roundy."
« Last Edit: December 27, 2007, 04:11:03 AM by Chris Spaghetti »

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2007, 05:35:11 PM »
(sos about the delay, guys)

Gayer, Dann and Chrissetti made their way past all the other behemoths on the way to the Lazerev, observing how the technicians were showing the other teams through the cars. The Lazarev was no different to all the others apart from the bronze plaque on the side of the red bodywork with '08 - LAZAREV' in an attractive bronze design, underneath that was the Rowbotham institute logo next to a quote in tiny letters 'Optimism is true moral courage-Ernest Shackleton'

"Good morning. or afternoon, I forget which." Said a grey-haired man stepping out from behind the truck, despite his hair colour he did not appear old, certainly his voice contained the vigour and youthfullness seldom seen even by people in their late twenties "My name is Erasmus and I'll be taking you through the motions on the Toyota/Land Rover Ice Cruiser, a unique vehicle made 'specially for the Institute. They cost over half a million dollars each, so try and bring her back in one piece!

"The most important feature I should mention is the in-build metalwork heater,small pipes radiate heat through every panel of the car to stop it from seizing up in the cold, but it runs off the engine, so for God's sake, never turn off the engine while you're out there. In case of emergencies, tossing one of the heat-bricks on the bonnet should warm the engine up enough to get it going again, other than that, the engine layout isn't vastly dissimilar to domestic cars, do you drive?" Dann and Chrissetti nodded "Then you'll know about it.

"Emergency wheels are in the same place you'd usually find them and other than that, there's not a lot else on the outside of the car, so if you'll follow me in..." Erasmus opened the car and they had to climb up a short ladder to reach the cockpit.nothing could have prepared them for the interior. A massive compartment with more in common with a sci-fi starship's bridge than a car. There was enough room for there to be floor space between the seats (a stylish cream leather design.) and a 4m by 2m flat empty space at the back. "Sleeping quarters. Warmer and safer than setting tents up."

The number of controls on the car was truly overwhelming, Chrissetti had learned to drive in a Mini and currently owned a tiny Peugeot. This monster had 11 forward gears and four reverse, five separate dials for the heating controls, several controls for anti-glare/telescoping/sonar/Radar HUD screens on the front window, a stalk that controlled the 25 individual lights mounted over the car, a complicated radio/walkie-talkie arrangement, controls for the brakes and coupling links for the caravan attachments not to mention a whole grey panel with more buttons than his latest games console on it. And that was just the driver's controls.

"This will be impossible to learn!" Chris complained

"Complete Nonsense, it's a very easy car to drive once you get the hang of it. whoever is in the second passenger-seat has a computerised instruction manual, as well as a paper copy if need be." their eyes flicked to a colossal tome underneath the seat, and vowed to leave it there.



(short one this time but im just getting the ball rolling again)


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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2007, 03:56:53 PM »
“Right!” Erasmus declared,” it’s time to give you guys some training on in these things. Firstly, do any of you know how to drive a regular car?”

Dann and Chrissetti confirmed they did

“Well once you get driving this isn’t too different, except you’ll need to change gears a lot earlier and more often, or you’ll get bogged down on the ice. But before we can get into any of that, we need to take you through the pre-drive checks and preps. For this trip, Dann will be the main driver, Chrissetti, you take the co-driver position and Gayer in the auxiliary driver’s position.

“All right, now Chrissetti, you have in front of you a set of backup controls that are on the driver’s seat, temperature, communications, etc etc so first we’ll activate the metalwork heater, it’s the little red button marked ‘MWRK HTR’. Ok, now we need to set the internal temperature controls, underneath the ‘INT HT’ you’ll see a plus and a minus and a little digital readout, play with the controls until it’s about 20° and finally hit the tyre heater controls. Just hit ‘TYR HTR AUTO’ and that will regulate it automatically for us.”

Chrissetti couldn’t help feeling like he was in the cockpit of a space shuttle or at the controls of the Starship Enterprise, he went through a couple more heating controls and set up the complicated navicom which gave their GPS co-ordinates on both a round Earth Antarctica and a Flat Earth Ice Wall. He then turned his attention to gayer and led her through the controls of the communication array

“The most important piece of kit you have on-board.” Erasmus told them grimly.

Eventually he passed the keys to Dann and began to explain the controls.

“All right, check all four hand brakes are on and that you’re in neutral and fire her up!”

The key clicked and a fantasic rumble came from the engine, it sounded like a nuclear generator had been turned on. Suddenly a loudspeaker voice tore through the hangar.

“Opening main bay doors, please ensure all personnel are in protective temperature environments.” A klaxon sounded twice and the enormous metal doors slid open and the majestic Antarctic vista burst into the hanger, casting a brilliant blue/white light over everything and blowing in a flurry of powdery snow. The bright blue sky, unblemished by even a single cloud met the pale white horizon like two opposites attracting.

“Okay” Erasmus said “Gayer, switch the comms to broad range, Chrissetti, monitor those temperature dials, Dann…

“Hit it!”

Dann slammed down the clutch, slid it into first gear and gunned the accelerator, feeling the car chomp on the bit of it’s hand brakes

“car 1 ready!” Came Muffz’s excited voice
“car 2, ready”
“Car 3 ready to go!” Chaltier said
“Car 4 engaged” Said a female voice Chrissetti didn’t recognise
One by one they all confirmed their status
“Car eight ready!” Gayer announced
The last two confirmed, and all ten behemoths launched out onto the ice in a wave of roaring engines and raw power…

Until car 6 stalled, Car 9 started to spin, car 4 got stuck in the snow.

“OK, Dann get third gear now.” Erasmus said as they went past 20mph “But don’t bring the clutch up too fast or— “

The engine hiccoughed and they stalled to a halt.

”Hey! Whaddya know, not five meters out and you’re already crap!” The sarcastic tone of Diego Draw sneered ”Why don’t we, hang on, oh shi—“

Ahead of them, one of the icecruisers went into a wild spin, coming to stop facing the opposite direction it had come

“And that’s why we don’t stay in the low gears!” Erasmus said with a wide grin shared by everyone in the Lazarev.

Another fifteen minutes of painful stalls and spins later, most of the drivers seemed to be getting the hang of the huge trucks and practice had begun on basic formations that they should be driving in out there on the ice. They were supposed to be driving in a simple line, keeping about four car lengths between them and the car in front, but from the air it resembled something from the Wacky Races radar with red cars sliding about in all directions, and car nine apparently hopelessly lost somewhere to the East of the rest of the pack, everyone else was ‘helpfully’ pitching in with direction ‘advice’ three people were saying left another two offering right and the rest alternating between ‘left’, ‘right’, ‘forwards’ and ‘penis’

After the ‘success’ of the first manoeuvre they tried their hands at more complicated formations and scenarios which, over time, became more fluid and natural. By the time they had finished mucking around it was late in the afternoon and the brilliant Antarctic ice took on a more orange glow and Tom Bishop came over the network comms

“ok, great going, guys. We’re going to come back home, hook up the trailers, refuel back up to the brim and tonight we’ll be sleeping out under the stars!”

There was a unanimous cheer from all ten cars. Finally they were about to get underway, the Antarctic was their oyster!

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2007, 04:39:33 AM »
With the massive equipment caravans in tow, the Ice Cruisers were truly sights to behold, longer than a city bus and taller too. They now carried enough fuel to keep them moving on the ice for 2 months, plus enough camping equipment to help them survive twice that long if the cars did run out of fuel. All the equipment was built to survive temperatures lower than anything ever seen on Earth, the technicians had left the cars and now they were on their own as they snaked away from the SnowFox dome. Chatter between the cars was excited and frequent, clogging the radio network up with trash talk and general chit-chatter. Tom Bishop occasionally tried to give inspirational pep-talks but was drowned out by the already-excited Muffs who needed no pep-talk to feel up for the expedition.

The Lazarev and car three, the Ross, had to come between Cars 5 and 6. It seemed that Gulliver and Narcberry were quite prepared to take their argument onto the ice. Although neither of them had tried anything yet, the other cars in the convoy wanted to make sure they stayed that way.

Inside the Lazarev, Dann had really gotten the hang of driving, dropping gears or making split-second course corrections had become second-nature to him already. Although the windscreen was anti-glare he had still donned a pair of shades to 'protect his eyes from the sunlight reflected off the ice'. Chrissetti had left temperature controls and had set about organising the sleeping area at the back of the car. Occasional curses reached Gayer and Dann's ears as he trapped fingers in the fold-up beds. Gayer was doing a good job representing the Lazarev on the comm-link, warding off Diego's pathetic put-downs easily.

"Whoever nurtured your personality should be shot." She said warily.

The hours passed, the orb of the sun descended almost to the horizon and seemed to stop, the glare making it appear a brilliant golden six-pointed star.

"The midnight sun." Someone said over the intercom. "Surely that's all the evidence we need that the world is round?"

"Not at all." Tom Bishop said, smugly "Look at all the snow we're kicking up as we're driving along, so many ice crystals disturbed by the slightest movement and freezing the very air itself. Consider all these tiny crystals as 'glass' prisms. The light from the sun is simply refracted to us through all the ice crystals. How do I know? Well, do you believe that the sun is actually an orange object with six points actually closer than the horizon? no, of course not, the light is scattered and refracted by ice in the air. This is how the sun works."

For just one, precious, glittering second, there was silence, save the rumbling of the engine until

"That's bullsh--" Started Gulliver, and from there toppled the first domino of incoherent, enraged 'debate'.

"I'm beginning to pick up a pattern here..." Dann muttered

"Tell me about it." Gayer grunted. before she launched herself into the vocal meleé.


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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2007, 02:17:23 PM »
It was ten pm by the time Tom Bishop decided to call it a night and the sun was still a deep orange orb in the sky. The ten cars had parked in a rough circle and the explorers had abandoned the warmth and safety of the cockpits for the cold ice and harsh winds.

"I think if I was cooped up in there any longer with her I might just scream." Trekky grumbled. Muffs was in the middle of trying to assemble a full-sized snowman and it wasn't long before most of the team was helping her to push the boulder-sized torso across the thin layer of snow and the ice underneath.

Chrissetti, however was one of the few who didn't take part in the grunting and heaving of people trying to move a ball of ice larger than they were. Instead he sat on the hood of the Lazarev, still warm from the gentle hum of the engine, and watched the sun. After a while the hood bounced as someone else settled down next to him.

"What are you thinking about?" Gayer asked.

"How little it matters whether the world is round or flat. This is the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen."

"Should I leave you alone with it?"

"No, it's nice to share something this good."

Together they sat and watched as then sun didn't set while behind them, the ridiculously undersized head was lowered onto the Snowman's torso to a chorus of cheers from the gathered crowd.

"You know, it's weird to think I've never breathed air this clean, or just sat and watched the horizon with someone." Chrissetti said, barely more than a whisper.

"Never?" gayer asked, astonished "You've never camped out on a hill with a guy, well a girl in your case, and just let the world pass you by?"

"Never."

"You should. It's so relaxing, like you could just lie there forever." She said, getting misty-eyed "Well, until the guy gets bored of being subtle and just starts rubbing your boobs."

"personal experience?" Chrissetti laughed, strangely he didn't have any trouble picturing the scene.

"Twice." She said, "The third time he found himself left naked in a ditch nursing an impressive black eye."


While they sat and watched the unusual skyline, most of the others went back to their cars leaving Gayer and Chrissetti alone, save the huge snowman. They smiled and agreed to go back inside the car and get some sleep, neither wanting to admit just how nice the warmth of the car felt on their frozen faces.

At least getting to sleep should be easy tonight Chrissetti thought as he wrapped himself up in his thick sleeping bag.

****

The letter had caught him completely by surprise. Tom Bishop (From the fifth message-board, as far as he could remember) had written to Saddam personally, inviting him to the exclusive revelation of 'a bold new scientific theory' and had included a return plane ticket to the capital of the Falkland Islands. He re-read the letter for the twelfth time that night. The US authorities would want him to report it and hand the letter over to him

But why? Saddam thought, as he paced the tiny apartment. It troubled him. Covert sneaking around on the internet, the odd list, now this? Suddenly he wanted out. Now. The flight was in just three days, all he had to do was to keep trawling his internet sites like nothing had happened and give them their update reports.

How would they know I got a letter?

Saddam stuffed the letter inside a phone book, hid the book in the back of his cheap cupboard and buried it under a pile of junk. It was perfect, once he got to the Falklands he was in British territory. Maybe he could meet this ‘Tom Bishop’ and find out why American intelligence was tracking an eccentric scientist  outside  American jurisdiction

‘Conspiracy’

He’d always laughed off so-called conspiracy theorists as nothing but nutters. Nutters with too much spare time, like those idiots who spent hours writing  ‘books’ on the internet to amuse a small group of people, surely no-on could take them seriously?

“Then why am I tracking them!?” He shouted to nobody in particular and collapsed into a nervous bundle on the floor, the knowledge of the letter burning at the back of his mind. Always burning…


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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #36 on: December 29, 2007, 11:23:53 AM »
”Rise and shine, folks! Time to get up!” Shouted Tom Bishop over the radio. Chrissetti got up much too quickly and cracked his head on the wall of the car as Gayer and Dann grumbled into the world of the wakened. Your breakfast this morning should be a sachet of cereal from your food supplies. Don’t have any more as you want to get into a habit of rationing your food.”

The radio clicked off and Chrissetti got out of his sleeping bag, stretched and scratched himself.

“Chris Spaghetti! Stop that,” gayer moaned “Dann isn’t—oh men are disgusting!”

Chris and Dann grinned inanely at each other then down at Gayer who wasn’t exactly a vision of early-morning beauty. Her long brown hair was wild and sticking out at strange angles, her eyes hadn’t adapted to the light at the same speed so she was squinting.

“What?!” She snapped “Go get some sodding breakfast.”

Outside the car, a thin layer of snow had settled over the windscreen, reducing visibility to a series of different intensity lights through the grey. Chris was glad to see that the heaters had kept frost from forming. As they fumbled around in the car, breakfast was eaten, clothes were changed and soon they found themselves dressed in their outside coats ready to face the open air. The door opened and the force of the cold wind hit them like a dagger across the face.

“jesus it’s cold out there!” Dann grumbled as he dropped down onto the ice. All the other crews were appearing and cursing the cold too.

“Allright! Gather round, people!” Dogplatter called. People formed in a loose circle around them, shifting from foot to foot and rubbing hands together to keep out of the cold “OK, it’s 9am now, so if we set camp at 10 tonight, going at an average of 40 miles per hour, we should have covered about 500 miles come this evening. This means that in the next couple of days we’ll be at the ‘official’ Geographical South Pole. Weather reports are saying that we’ll have a fairly smooth time of it, apart from this band of pressure which is causing these winds we’re feeling at the moment. Sometime today or tomorrow, we’ll be facing the full brunt of up to 150mph winds.”

“So you’ll need to know how to deal with them” Tom Bishop pitched in “So If you’ll follow us to the Rowbotham…”

Tom and Dogplatter led them to  the behemoth that was Car 1 ‘Rowbotham’ Dogplatter stood behind Tom, immediately next to the car.

“When the high-wind alarm sounds you must come to a full stop, get out of the car and start by applying the Primary Anchors. There are four on the main car and two on each of the caravan trailers.” Dogplatter opened a hatch bigger than his hand and pressed a button inside. The car gave a whir and a metal drill was visible sliding out of the bottom of the car and boring into the ice, throwing up an impressive spray.

“The next step is to lash it down. On top of each car you’ll find strong cords wound around a shallow drum. These should be unwound and stretched as far as possible from the car. The pegs at the ends should be hammered into the ice using the mallet, found on top of the car, at 45 degree angles from the ice.” While Tom spoke, Dogplatter had climbed on top of the car and come back down trailing a black plastic-sheathed cable and holding a mallet. He proceeded to follow Toms instructions and pound on the peg until it was barely visible outside of the ice. ” Ok, any questions?”

Nobody had any, so Tom ordered them back into the cars and to get ready to leave.

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #37 on: December 31, 2007, 11:30:21 AM »
The morning drive started much smoother than the embarrassing first attempts of the first day on the ice, all ten cars quickly arranged themselves into the familiar long line in numerical order. By ten O clock, the sun was a powerful white light in the sky once more that not even the glare-proof windscreens could adequately get rid of, everyone was wearing shades after just half an hour, without them, the ground was a blazing white light. The wind continued to pick up speed, throwing up a fine mist of ice and snow.

"What's the time?" Dann asked, the designers of the IceCruiser, who had the foresight to include just about everything they would need, had neglected to put a clock on the dashboard.

"Almost half twelve." Chris said from his comfortable position with feet up on the dashboard and seat fully reclined.

"Want to have a go behind the wheel? We're already cruising along nicely so it shouldn't be too hard to pick it up."

"Sure, why not?"

"Me after!" Gayer called out. Chrissetti sat on the edge of Dann's seat and placed a hand on the steering wheel.

"When i count to three I'll let go and you put your foot on the accelerator, not too hard though, ok? ok. one...two..three!"

Chris took the controls and accidently put far too much gas on, causing the engine to roar as though it had been provoked.

"Easy! I said not too much" Dann chastised as he settled into the temp-control-seat. Driving became second-nature easily after that, once the car was settled in seventh gear with the clutch up, there was actually very little that needed to be done, apart from course corrections to match the snaking line of cars and caravans up ahead.

Very little to be done until the winds came.

The car gave a sudden lurch and an alarm sounded the severe weather alert. Gayer hurridly snapped her seatbelt on as the huge car began to slew from side to side as Chrissetti over-compensated for the wind. Chris and Dann both snapped their seatbelts on as Thomas Bishop issued orders to stop over the intercom.

"Clutch and brake down together! Now!" Dann yelled, the roaring of the wind forced him to shout to make himself heard. Chrissetti obeyed and the car came skidding to a halt. "Alright! Gayer, you start setting up the anchors, me and Chris Spaghetti here will lash her down!"

All three of them rushed to the door and pushed it open into the howling gales of the Antarctic. the cold alone was enough to make Chris' eyes water while the wind punched him like a prize boxer. There was no time to waste as Chrissetti clutched the bucking truck and hauled himself onto the roof, crawling across on his belly to avoid being swept off the precariously slippery metal.

Gayer ran to the small hates around the car and activated the anchors. She had three of the car's anchors down when the last button made a groaning noise and nothing happened.

"Dann!" She yelled "It's not working!"

"What?!"

"The anchor! It's jammed or something!"

"Shit! You help Chris lash down the car! I'll see what I can do!" Gayer ran to the front of the car and caught the first heavy cable that Chris had tossed down, then picked up the mallet from the ice. It took all her strength to hold the cable taut and her first two mallet swings just glanced the gunmetal peg. Meanwhile, Dann had crawled underneath the IceCuiser and was frantically trying to free the anchor drill.

Chris tossed down the second cable and winced as the wind threw it wildly off target and slammed into Gayer's leg, causing her to loose her footing and slip on the ice.

"Shit!" She shouted and caught the cable in one hand, while rubbing the spot where the heavy piece of metal had struck with the other. Soon all the cables were lashed out and the mighty truck held firm against the winds, which had continued to gather speed and power. The caravan's anchors were released and Dann slid out from under the car, proud to announce that he'd repaired the faulty anchor. With their work complete, the trio threw themselves back into the safety and warmth of the Lazarev.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2008, 01:49:52 PM »
All three of them simply sat, panting against the door for a moment as the winds lashed against the lazarev, still making it shudder despite the protection they had worked hard to erect. Gayer drew air through her teeth as she rubbed the spot where the peg had hit.

"I'm sorry, Gayer, the wind, i-it caught it!" Chrissetti stammered, terrified that he'd caused real harm. The brunette simply smiled back at him;

"Don't worry, it's just bruised, I know you weren't responsible."

"All right, people." Shouted Tom Bishop through the radio "Is everyone all right and anchored down? If so, can you let me know."

"Car Four all present and correct." A girl announced, fighting through a lack of breath
"Car nine hunkered down"
"We're all right. Car Eight is all right." Dann told the radio. One by one the cars announced that they were ok, finishing with Diego's car.
"Hey, wait a minute." Dann said "Car Two hasn't checked in. Car Two, can you respond?"

There was nothing but static for a moment until a voice broke through, obviously worried despite the calm pretense.

"This is Midnight of Car Two calling out to all cars, we have a serious problem, one of our guys has taken a deep cut from a loose cord. We've managed to lash the car down, but he's losing a  lot of blood. Nobody here has any medical experience and we're appealing for assistance."

"Who?!" Dann demanded "Who's been hurt?!"

"Raist."

Dann looked as though someone had punched him in the gut.

"Where are you in the line?" The unfamiliar girl's voice asked.

"We were directly behind Car 4 when the winds picked up. Who am I talking to?" Midnight told her

"OK, hold tight, I'm just in front of you, I'm training to be a nurse, just press some clean cloth against the cut until I can get there" She said with authority "The name's Space Cowgirl, by the way."

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2008, 02:38:20 PM »
Why am I doing this? Mara Clark thought as she shunted the 'Columbus' door open to face the bitter cold of the Antarctic. The winds were harsh enough to leave her face blessedly numb after a few seconds in the howling wind. The world was smothered by an impenetrable blanket of grey, leaving Car 2, The Shenton as nothing more than a silhouette in the distance.

"Argh!" She screamed fruitlessly against the wind as she was knocked down to the ground in a particularly fierce gust. Pulling herself up was exceptionally difficult against the raging weather but nevertheless, she gritted her teeth and pushed onwards. Raist was counting on her.

Finally, as she thought her legs were about to collapse, a figure loped out of the snow and offered a hand to her. A hand she was only too eager to take. It led her to the Shenton and even helped her inside as the door swung open.

"Thanks!" Space Cowgirl panted.

"No problem." Midnight grunted, trying to prove he was fine after the trek into the snow. They both took down the heavy hoods. Mara, or 'Space Cowgirl' pushed her long dark hair out of her attractive African face. Raist was lying in the sleeping quarters at the rear of the car, blood spreading through a t-shirt pressed to a deep gash underneath his left eye, his breaths were shallow and accelerated.

Space Cowgirl wasted no time examining the wound closer and ordering TheEngineer to retrieve  the medi-pack.

"Thank you." She said, opening the little green box "Now listen to me Raist; This is going to hurt like hell, but I need you to keep as still as you can for me, ok?" Raist gave a feeble half-nod as Mara removed the disinfectant from the case, poured opened the lid and dribbled it over the wound.

"AAARRRGH!!!" Raist screamed, following it up with a string of exotic curses. Tears were streaming from his eyes

"I'm sorry, but the wound has to be sterile. Now, Engineer, Midnight; I'm going to need you to hold his head down."

"What are you going to do?"

"I need to close that gash up with some field-stitches, or else the blood is never going to stop. I really don't want him thrashing about while I'm doing it, or he might lose an eye."

With a grimace, they both co-operated and pinned Raist down while Space Cowgirl threaded the needle. She tried not to be troubled by Raist's screams of agony as she literally sewed his face back together again. By the end of the crude operation Space Cowgirl's hands were slick with dark claret. She then proceeded to press gauze against the wound and wrap it in bandages, sure enough, the bleeding stopped seeping through and she announced that he would be stable.

"The next biggest worries I have are shock and loss of energy. Keep him wrapped up in a sleeping bag and as warm as possible, give him plenty of fluids." She told the other two explorers, before picking up the radio

"He's ok. i've stitched him up and given the others strict instructions on how to care for him. I'll ride out the rest of the storm here, save risking my neck trying to get back."

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2008, 09:22:42 AM »
Dann relaxed the second Space Cowgirl announced that Raist would be all right.

"Thank God." He muttered

"Hey Dann, why don't you tell us what's going on between you and Raist?" Chris asked.

"Nothing is!" He snapped back.

"Oh come on, it's not like you haven't made it obvious!" gayer chipped in.

"We really don't have any problem with it." Chrissetti said, gently. In a flash, Dann was out of the comms chair and was staring Chris with burning eyes.

"Nothing...is...going... on!" He growled ominously. Gayer stood back from the two arguing men.

"Fine! Christ man, we were trying to be supportive, you dick." Chris said and turned and sat down in the temperature control seat and pretended to monitor the heat of the car. The weather controls told him that the winds outside were ripping through at 174mph. Faster than most tornadoes. The windows had turned from light grey to almost completely black as the volume of airborne ice screened the window from the sun's light.

"I wonder how long these are going to last for?" gayer asked, timidly, trying to break through the electric atmosphere that had developed between the two men on board.

"Not sure." Dann grunted back. He had taken to sulking at the rear of the car.

****

Chapter III
[/b]

The storm finally blew itself out after three hours. All ten cars had survived the punishing winds, though a couple of support cables had been ripped from the ice and had carved great gashes out of the sides of the affected cars' paintwork. The sides of all the vehicles were plastered in snow and ice torn up by the tempest. The tracks they had left in the ice had worn away completely, but an observant viewer would notice there was a track, several hundred metres from the huddle of IceCruisers.

The occupants of the huge cars were all engaged in removing the anchors and cables, ready to  move off again, all save raist who had been advised to stay inside, at least until the wound had healed a little.

"OK, that's the last one!" Gayer called as the little metal drill retracted into the underbelly of the car. Chris jumped down from the roof of the car as Dann and him finished putting the cables away.

"Quite proud that ours all stayed in the ice!" Dann said, "We must be the only one who did have all four surviving!" He patted Chris on the back and followed the other two back into the Lazarev.

"Can I get a status report from everyone before we go?"Tom asked.

"Car Two fine. Minor paint damage from a loose cable. Raist is stable and up and about." Midnight said

"Car three is ready-to-go. Just a dent from a wild cable peg to report."

"Space Cowgirl's back to Car Four fine. We'll need to have a proper look at one of our caravan's anchors tonight, though. It's having troubles retracting."

"Car Five is good, save some scratches from a loose cable."

"Car Six is fine."


The rest of the vehicles reported they were in good condition and Tom gave the order to go. All ten cars rumbled off, relaying their deep tyre-tread tracks behind them. Nobody noticed the smaller tracks running parallel to them.


*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2008, 02:04:20 PM »
As the explorers traversed the mighty Antarctic desert, the scenery subtly began to change around them. No longer was it an infinite plane of ice in all directions, but now dark brown mountain rock was exposed. Chris, Gayer and Dann had watched as the landscape around them became gradually more and more rough and jagged. the sun had descended to a point just above the horizon, stretching the shadows from the ancient mountains hundreds of metres in front of them.

"We should set up camp in the next valley, it should give us some protection if the winds pick up again during the 'night'" Tom announced over the radio and most of te cars tended to agree. All but one...

"We lost way too much time earlier in the snowstorm." Diego Draw declared "i'm pretty sure nobody would have a problem with going for another hour or so, it's not like we have darkness to worry about."

"No, Diego. If we have another incident like today, I want everybody to be alert and at the peak of their physical capabilities, not half-asleep because they pushed themselves too far the night before."

"What's the hurry, Diego?" Gayer asked "it's not like we're on a deadline here."

"Some of us ar--" He snapped, then seemed to catch himself "Some of us would prefer to be."

The radio lines were silent for the remainider of the drive to the valley. Steep snow and ice-covered mountains rose up on either side like guardians to another world. Inside the valley, light had a hard time reaching the ground, casting a gloomy twilight into the pass. Dann slowed the car and joined the rough circle formation the other cars were making, all of them facing into a centre circle where several explorers had already begun to congregate, the headlights from the surrounding cars throwing them into stark light.


Dann had gone to visit Raist, leaving Chrissetti and Gayer alone in the Lazarev.

"it's weird. it's so dark, but the sky above the valley is still bright." Chris said

"yeah."

Silence fell across the car

"How's your leg?" Chris asked, just to break the charged atmosphere

"It's ok." She said and took his hand in hers, guiding it to where the peg had hit her leg "See? Everything feels normal."

Their eyes travelled from the spot on her leg and locked on each other.

"you know, I--" Chris started

"Shh..." gayer silenced him, and slowly, they brought their heads together, tenderly and nervously, their lips touched, sending an electric shock down Chrissetti's spine. Just for a moment they hovered, barely touching each other, before Gayer placed her free hand behind Chrissetti's head and brought them both into a full kiss, gently at first, then with more passion, Chris wrapped his arms around Gayers shoulders as she around his head and waist. Time stood still as the kiss went on and on. Had they been anywhere else in the world, the stars would be shining high in the sky. Finally they broke apart just enough to smile at each other in the dim light of the Lazarev. For the first time since he'd received the letter, it felt like absolutely nothing could go wrong.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2008, 02:51:34 PM »
In the early hours of the morning, a figure crept out of one of the slumbering cars and out into the gloom of the antarctic Valley. He stopped for a moment to take in the awe-inspiring silence of the place. No birds, cars, breeze rustling the leaves, no people walking past, no music, nothing but the almost inaudible humming of ten huge diesel engines. it was no surprise that this was called the Whisperer's Way. The figure carried a worn leather satchel he had brought from the Stanley facility with him. he hitched it over one shoulder and began to climb the shallower side of the valley, crawling on all fours to gain purchase on the bare rock and ice.

At the top he admired the view before setting up the rugged little machine carried in the satchel. A heavy plastic box barely 30 inches across and half as deep. A thick antenna protruded from the back, extended to full length it was over two feet long.

"Hunter Owl calling Station #00245. S00245 do you read me. Over." He said into the microphone, keeping his voice to a whisper.

"We read you, Hunter Owl. Please provide a status report on Operation WinterStorm. Over." A woman with a heavy Californian accent said. To hear it out here in the icy wilderness was disconcerting.

"Three Grade A targets are confirmed to be in the expedition, along with twenty-seven others, mostly civilian. They have supplies to last months on the ice. Over."

"Understood. Can you provide geographical co-ordinates for the SnowFox Facility? Over."

The one addressing himself as Hunter owl unfurled a piece of paper from his pocket and read out the co-ordinates.

"Continue with operation as planned. We will deal with SnowFox. Over and out."


*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #43 on: January 08, 2008, 12:47:14 PM »
"Rise and shine!" The radio shouted at a volume that shot Chrissetti awake, who smacked his head against something hard. "It's a beautiful day today. With any luck we should arrive at the South Pole before nightfall."

"Ohh my head!" Chris groaned, rubbing his forehead.

"Your head!" An indignant voice screeched. Chris opened his eyes and met the annoyed face of General gayer. in a flash the grogginess of the morning vanished and he remembered the previous evening in vivid detail.

"Sorry." he said sheepishly.

"You'd better be!" Gayer said, smiling. "Come on, time we got up!"

"i quite like it here." Chris said, with a cheeky grin. Gayer pushed the open sleeping bag off herself and stood up over him. She smiled, grabbed an ankle and pulled him out of the sleeping bag.

"Agh! Cold cold cold!" He yelped. In one quick movement, he twisted and tackled her down to the cold floor, lying on top of her so that her body was as cold as his.

"You sod!" She laughed.

In the middle of their childish wrestling on the floor of the Lazarev, Dann pulled the car door open and climbed inside, he paused to watch the scene for a moment before he coughed.

"Shall I leave you two to it for a minute?" he asked, wryly. Both Chrissetti and gayer yelped and tried to cover their bodies with the abandoned sleeping bag "Oh come on, I've seen it all before, just get dressed. God, I feel like your mother!

"Well, one of your mothers anyway... otherwise it's just weird..."

Chris and Gayer got dressed quickly and followed Dann out into the middle of the car circle where Tom Bishop was giving his morning briefing. He spoke briefly about the good weather conditions predicted, the change in surface conditions, from the uniformly flat plain to ice boulders and hidden crevices.

"Hopefully, if all goes well, we should reach the predicted location of the South Pole this evening, from there, we'll know pretty quickly whether the Earth is Flat or Round. If The Rowbotham institute and I are wrong, then we head back to SnowFox first thing tomorrow morning and you can all annoy me as thoroughly as Muffs has been doing ever since we left." Muffs gave a cheesy smile and double thumbs-up "If, however, the rest of the world is wrong, we proceed as planned out into the Ice Wall, search for the existence of Cybele and, ultimately, the Edge of the World, or Occumbo Australis."

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2008, 04:14:07 PM »
There was the traditional cheer from the explorers as Tom finished his speech and each of them returned to their cars. Soon the valley was thrumming from the sound of ten huge diesel engines roaring to life, they left the safety of the valley and out onto the ice fields again. Today radio chatter was scarce and mostly focussed on the job at hand, as though the conversation well had simply dried up. Conversation in Car 8, however had rarely been so fluid;

"So then guys, I'm gone for one night and you two are at it like rabbits. If you'd wanted me out of your hair earlier, you only had to say!" Dann chuckled

"It's not like that, it just...happened.." Gayer said, "Fortunately."

"So where did you head off to last night? It's not as though there are many places open out here!" Chris asked.

"I spent the night with Raist, seeing how he was after the accident." he said levelly "He's gonna have one helluva scar there for later life."

"How's he feeling?"

"fine, the dizziness has gone and he was walking around and stuff."

"-And stuff?" Chris asked, unable to see Gayer's frantic 'no' gestures.

"Look;" He sighed "He's got a girlfriend back in the real world, we're just...friends..."

Suddenly, Dann had to slam on the brakes as the car in front of them slammed to a stop, it's trailer caravans slewing over the path like the tail of an angry snake. The car remained motionless.

"This is Car 8 to the rest of the convoy, car seven has just crashed!" Gayer said over the quiet radio network. "Car Seven, are you guys ok?"

"ugh, just peachy." Diego grunted in reply "Hit a fucking ice boulder. Clipped it on the front-left wheel, probably smashed the transmission. Shit."

"Hold tight." Dogplatter announced "Chaltier has been trained to work on the IceCruisers and there's enough spare parts in the third trailer to build a whole new one from scratch...almost."

"We'll just slow you lot up." Diego said. "There are enough supplies here to last us for a few months and, as you say, the spare parts are in the back. We'll fix it ourselves and head back to SnowFox. I know it's a cliche but go on without us."

"Don't be stupid. It'll cost a couple of hours probably. just hang tight!"

"Come on. let's go laugh at them." Dann said, a wicked smile on his face

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2008, 12:09:45 PM »
“So. You didn’t see it?” Chrissetti asked Diego with more than a hint of doubt.

“That’s what I’m telling you.” Diego snarled. Behind him, Dogplatter, Z and Saddan were huddled around the front of the colossal IceCruiser.

“You didn’t see a five-foot block of ice in the middle of a completely empty snowfield?”

Diego murmured something incoherent and wandered back to Car Two with his hands stuffed in his pockets.

“Does anything here seem a little ‘off’ to you?” Chris asked Dann and Gayer

“Well, not showering for three days is starting to take it’s toll.”

“Yeah, come on, Chris. Diego’s a moody git but there’s nothing suspicious about him.”

The repairs took well over two hours, even though the damage was largely superficial, the front bumper had to be replaced and the alignment had to be reset, but otherwise the car was in remarkable condition. The other vehicles were eager to get back on the move after the delay, but Tom Bishop insisted that everyone keep their speed to under 40mph until they cleared the boulder field, an insistence that most cars in the convoy were lax in following. Eventually, however, they were forced to slow down as the boulders became more and more frequent and larger and larger in scale. Cars bumped and clipped the jagged pieces of ice, some were forced to stop to make hasty repairs while others escaped with just dents and gashes.

“Argh!” Dann roared in frustration as the car ground to a halt again. In between the massive rocks, snow was loose and powdery, only serving to obscure dips in the path. Twice in the last hour they’d had to stop to shovel a few feet of snow and ice clear of the front wheels in order to move again. Not only was it physically tiring but having to keep stopping was massively demoralising.

“For God’s sake… not again…” Gayer groaned.

“Maybe not.” Chris said “Dann, try shifting us into reverse, pull the clutch back enough to start moving and then stop again, keep doing it until we start to rock backwards and forwards, I reckon it could wear the ice into a nice slope for us to accelerate up.”

“Beats shovelling in the snow.” Dann shrugged and followed Chris’ idea. Surprisingly, after just a few rocks, the car’s momentum was beginning to carry it up the small ramp at the front.

“Now gun it!” Dann floored the accelerator and the Lazarev launched itself out of the ditch and back onto the ice again.

“Woohoo!” Gayer whooped, before giving Chrissetti a quick kiss “How did you know that would work?”

“Lucky guess?”

With their new ‘rocking’ technique, getting through the ice boulder field was measurably easier. All ten cars finally cane within eye contact of one another again as they travelled through a clearing in the boulders no more than two-hundred metres from side to side. Outside the clearing, the alien landscape went on as far as the eye could see, a rugged, jagged sea of white and blue sat silently beneath the orange glow of the Antarctic sun. It was hard not to feel calm and tranquil.

That was until the rear caravan of the car ahead exploded…

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #46 on: January 11, 2008, 12:10:37 PM »
”Get out of the way!” Doctor Bernard yelled, shoving Mara aside with a sweep of his arm, the young nurse stood back and watched as he set to work on the gunshot victim currently known as Jane Doe. A paramedic team had found her slumped against the front of an apartment building in downtown New York. They had done a great job in keeping the victim alive until she could be brought to hospital. “We need to get her into theatre, NOW!”

Mara could only look on as a swarm of nurses and doctors rushed her stretcher down the corridor. She hated the way nobody regarded her as important just because she was an intern, everybody has to start somewhere, after all. She sighed and ran after the injured woman, planning to watch from the observation room when one of the admin nurses, was her name Theresa? Thrust a letter into her hands.

“Who’s it from?” Mara asked, turning it over in her hands.

“Do I look psychic? It wasn’t dropped off with the usual post, though. Some hot-shot in a fancy suit delivered it by hand.”

Mara decided that she’d finish her shift a few minutes early. Doctor Bernard would no doubt chastise her for it, but what was new there? She took her letter to the waiting room and opened it up.

   ‘Dear Miss Mara Clark

   I write to you today as representative of the Rowbotham Institute for Zetetic Astronomy, we are a cutting-edge scientific facility based in the Falkland Islands and internationally established since 1906.  We extend to you a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to be present during the discovery of a bold new scientific theory which will revolutionise the way we think not only of the world around us, but the universe as a greater whole. It will involve a long expedition in Antarctica, or the ‘Ice Wall’ with members of the scientific community, as well as ordinary member of the public.

   I realise that at this point, you may be naturally sceptical, indeed this letter may already reside at the bottom of a wastepaper basket, however, to prove our good intentions we have provided a free plane ticket to Stanley Airport in the Falkland Islands and an open contract for us to pay any expenses caused from time off work. If upon arrival, or at any point during the briefing, you do not wish to continue then your return flight will be booked and paid for by the Rowbotham Institute.

   If you decide to take advantage of this offer of learning and discovery then we require you only to board the plane listed on your ticket.

Your pseudonym for this project will be Space Cowgirl, do not use your real name.

      Yours sincerely

            Dr Thomas T Bishop


« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 12:25:31 PM by Chris Spaghetti »

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #47 on: January 11, 2008, 12:25:12 PM »
“Shit!”

Cars scattered to try and escape whatever had detonated car six’s caravan

”What is it!?” “Are we being attacked?!” “what the hell?!” The radio was clogged with panicked chatter and screams as bullets tore into the side of Tom Bishop’s car

”Get out of here! For the love of god concentrate on avoiding the ice boulders! They have us in the open in here!” Tom ordered.

“Tom! What’s going on?! Who are these people!?” Gayer yelled, as the unmistakeable sounds of bullets danced a lethal tattoo on the IceCruiser’s bodywork.

”No time!

The explorers darted into the maze of boulders and jagged ice, risking serious crashes in order to escape the pursuers. The Lazarev had fallen just behind the Rowbotham and witnessed it skimming the sides of boulders, it’s trailer caravans swinging dangerously from side to side, slamming into the huge lumps of ice. Suddenly Dann shouted and pointed out of the window.

“Look!”

Hurtling alongside the lazarev was a white snowmobile ridden by two men in Arctic coats, one driving and the other trying to aim an automatic rifle at Tom bishop’s car. Whoever was driving the Rowbotham was doing a suberb job pinning it down and stopping the snowmobile from getting a clear line of sight.

“Hit them!” Chris told Dann who jerked the lazarev sharply to the right, catching the snowmobile  on the side and forcing it into a large ice boulder. But they had no time to relax as the patter-patter of bullets tore from the opposite side, another snowmobile was gaining on the Rowbotham. Tom Bishop appeared leaning out of the car’s windscreen a moment later letting rip with a powerful handgun while all around him, the hail of white hot lead tore up the side of the IceCruiser.

BLAM, Tom’s shot hit home, thudding into the shoulder of the driver who lost control and plunged headfirst into a boulder. The explosion lit up the ice all around and blasted ice for hundreds of metres.

"Is that the last one?" Muffs squealed in shock and terror.

As if on queue, another snowmobile leaped from a boulder and pursued Car Seven, who were lagging behind, apparently the crash earlier had done more damage than they'd thought.

"We have one hostile attacking on our right side! We need assistance!" The Iraqi known as Saddam shouted through the radio. "Please, we need a--" The transmission gave way to static and in the Lazarev's side mirror, an orange fireball leaped into the sky where Car seven had been.

"Ohhh shit..." Chris gasped, "I know they were assholes but..."

"The snowmobile isn't following, it must have gotten caught in the explosion..." Dann said, his face as pale as a ghost's.

After the intense firefight the silence was oppressive. Now only nine engines penetrated the nothingness of the Ice Wall.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 12:30:12 PM by Chris Spaghetti »

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2008, 02:16:11 PM »
For an hour the twenty-seven survivors drove frantically fast to escape any more pursuers, when none came, they agreed to stop. gone was the neat circle they were used to in their camps, battle scarred IceCruisers sprawled across the ice with their caravans trailed out behind them. Even before they had fully stopped, explorers jumped out of the cars and were converging on Tom Bishop's vehicle. To his credit, Tom stepped out amongst them while Trekky was held back by his sister.

"Who were they?!" someone shouted
"Why were they trying to kill us?!"
"Why the f*ck didn't you tell us?"
"Arm us?"
"I'll finish what those snowmobilers couldn't!" Gulliver threatened and stepped forward to face Thomas Bishop down.

"Stop it!" Chrissetti yelled, above the crowd. Suddenly all eyes were on him and the temporary burst of angry energy dissipated in a second. but he cleared his throat and carried on "Mr Bishop, I think we'd all like to know just why three people have just died..."

"I'm sorry but--"

"But nothing!" Chris turned on him furiously "Thee people have died because of your... theory! This ridiculous idea that the world is flat! Now tell us. Who were they?"

"Guards." He said flatly. "I didn't believe that they existed. Now I know better."

"Who?" Gulliver shunted Chrissetti out of the way.

"Some of us in the Rowbotham Institute believed that the organisation that keeps people believing the world is round have guards posted around where the 'South Pole' is supposed to be."

Gulliver slammed his fist into Tom Bishop's jaw, dropping him to the ice as others held the enraged Gulliver back

"I'm sorry!" He croaked, tears welling in the old man's eyes. "None of this was supposed to happen! I believed the guards were myths, an invention of conspiracy nuts! I'm sorry I'm so sorry!" He broke down before the mob of explorers, the tears freezing in the frigid air even before they left his face.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2008, 05:05:40 AM »
"Leave him alone!" Dogplatter ordered, fighting his way through the crowd. "This isn't his fault. All this proves is that somebody secretly wants to stop us from exploring the Ice Wall and that the world really is flat."

"That's bullsh*t and you know it! There's probably a terrorist group here, or a secret military project. Your quest has taken us into restricted military territory and now they're gunning for us." Gulliver snarled

"All right, all right!" Somebody else cut in. was his name TheEngineer? "This is acompishing nothing. The question is, what do we do now? Go forward or go back?"

It was amazing the effect these simple words had, in a second everyone in the crowd was loudly voicing their opinions over everyone elses. The explorers were scared and angry, if they went on it might mean further attacks, if they went back then the attackers won, and they might still be stopped by more hostiles.

"Stop it!!" Yelled Dogplatter, angrilly splitting up narcberry and Gulliver who were seconds away from turning the charged crowd into a physically violent one. "We will not be unarmed if they strike again. Under the floor at the back of each car is an AK-47 rifle and a handgun for everyone on board. Some of us considered the guards a real possibility. Now if we press on, we can escape into the darkness of perpetual  night, if we head back, we go straight back through the boulder field and the team they inevitably sent  to collect the first team will destroy us. It's your choice."

"Go back another way." Trekky said, stepping down from the Rowbotham "They won't be expecting it. We head back another way, report these guys to the authorities and let them take over. I'm not putting my sister in danger. Not again."

"You don't get it." tom said, standing up again, icicle tears still frozen to his face "They are the authorities. We should carry on. Escape the sun's light and the safety of the darkness beyond..."

****

Rain hammered on the young Iraqi's head as he walked off the main street down the side-alley that was a shortcut to his apartment.despite the overwhelming smell of urine and the graffiti, Saddam had never felt threatened by anyone in the alley. Which is why he wondered why he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise at the sounds of footsteps behind him now. They were steady, fast steps, the footsteps of someone who wanted to let his prey know he was being followed. He sped up, so did the footsteps behind. Saddam risked a glance behind him. Two heavy-set Americans in dark suits stretched across their muscly torsos, leading them was a shorter man with medium-length blonde brown hair.

"Mr Al-Hashan. We need to talk." The leader said above the drumming of the rain

"Shall we at least get inside first?" saddam said, trying to stall the men.

"here will be fine."

Saddam sighed and turned to face the Americans, employing tehniques he had learned in the army to disguise his fears. The muscle positioned themselves either side of Saddam, and looked about as inclined to move as a mountain. The brown haired man smiled and held out his hand to Saddam.

"My name is Diego Lawrence, an agent of the same organisation you now work for. I wonder, did you understand your instructions when we employed your services?"

"Of course I did."

"Then you deliberately held back the letter from the Rowbotham Institute then?"

Saddam was silent for a moment, then replied calmly and with as much authority as he could muster

"I want out. Nobody said anything about spying when I accepted this job. Deport me back to Iraq if you want but I'm not going on that flight to the Falklands."

"Yes you are, Saddam Al-Hashan. You will go because otherwise a certain Sahah Al-Hashan will match her official records."

A cold shiver ran down Saddam's spine. His sister was dead, she had died years ago. How dare this man disgrace her memory?

"Sahah is dead." He said coldly.

"Officially. But in actual fact she went into hiding two years ago. Forces in the area know her as the ghost bomber and has made life hell for the troops over there."

"Good. You bastards deserve every damned bomb and bullet that hit you!" He snarled, the two mountain-men beside him twitched threateningly.

"She is now in a top-secret prison, one few know about. Guantanomo is nothing more than a side-show to this prison." He handed him a photo of a beautiful Iraqi woman chained to a wooden bench in a spartan cell. A newspaper dating thre days ago was open on her lap.

"The plane leaves in just two day's time. For her sake, be on it. You'll get further instructions from myself when we land.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #50 on: January 19, 2008, 12:04:58 PM »
Although most people in the convoy would not believe that they were being pursued by a clandestine organisation devoted to mainaining a falsification of the Earth’s shape, they did admit that staying in one place would be disadvantageous to all of them. The nine cars sped across the antrctic waste without the usual excited radio chatter, and without the illusion that the environment was a safe one.

According to their maps they were now less than one hundred miles from the geographical South Pole, the winds howled at the sides of the Toyota/Land Rover hybrids emphasising the dark mood of the explorers, even when they were so close to their goal. Mile after mile passed in silence and the cars drove in a much tighter formation than they had been prior to the surprise attack by the snowobiles.

On board car one, the atmosphere was charged even more than in any other vehicle of the fleet. A petrified Muffs stared at the radar screen while Trekky tried to contain his anger at Thomas Bishop, who preoccupied himself with the radio transmitter.

“Mr Bishop?” Muffs asked, the first words she’d said since they had gotten underway. “Why are those people trying to kill us? Why do they care so much that we find out whether the Earth is flat?”

“Because it would mean the end not just for those directly involved in the conspiracy but for the millions of people who have had the wool pulled over their eyes for at least fifty years. If we revealed our findings to the world  sure there would be ridicule aimed at us, but people would start thinking and questioning the motives of the space agencies. Audit trails, no matter how well covered up would conclude that what they say they are doing and what they’re actually doing are totally different.” He said solemnly “The safest option they have is to have us killed and blame our deaths on the Antarctic conditions.”

“So why didn’t you forsee that?” Trekky asked, the level of malice had definitely dropped significantly from his voice but it was still a threatening tone “This ‘conspiracy’ stretches all around the world and you didn’t think they’d defend the one place on Earth that could disprove them once and for all?”

“I didn’t think it was possible. Sixty-thousand miles of harsh winter ice, that’s thousands of soldiers to feed, home, care for and keep secret. It should be impossible.”

“I wonder where they house them all?”

Trekky and Tom Bishop looked at one another, the realisation that they might accidently drive through hostile accommodation hit them both like a dead weight.

“We need to start looking at possible locations.” Tom said to Trekky. “Think you can drive, little sister?” the young brunette’s face lit up with glee, the horrors of the day temporarily forgotten. She leaped out of the co-driver’s seat and stood hunched over Trekky’s seat as he started to explain how the car worked, everything from the complicated speed to gear ratios and Muffs watched, rapt with concentration as she tried to remember all the controls, her mouth mimed what Trekky was saying to try and more easily remember.

“Do you think you got all that?” He asked. Muffs nodded confidently and slipped into the driver’s seat with ease. Trekky slid the seat forward so her feet could comfortably reach the pedals. In seconds she seemed totally at ease behind the wheel, carefully dodging a lump of ice, adjusting the headlights mirrors to give her a clearer field of view.

“Erm, need a hand with something?”  Trekky asked

“Nope, got everything in order here. Go play war games with Tom.” She said, whilst switching into a higher gear. Trekky looked furious for a second, shook his head and walked to the back of the car where Tom was setting up a huge map of he world, keeping everything other than their own section of the ice-wall folded over. Trekky scoffed.

“Look.” He said, “I can understand the desire to prove to the world you’re not a nutter, that you’re right, I felt the same thing trying to prove that B’Lanna was a better engineer than Scotty at the last Star Trek convention, but this is going too far, it’s not worth people dying over.”

“Let me ask you something, Andrew. Why did you come? You’ve been protesting about every decision I’ve made even before we left the Falklands.”

“Because who would turn down a chance to see all of this?” He said, gesturing towards the pristine snowscape outside that was slowly metamorphosing from the calm umber and orange to blood red as the sun set lower and lower in the sky. “But I wouldn’t have come if I’d have known what would happen.”

Tom nodded slowly and sadly

“So you never cared. Never even gave the Institute’s theory a second thought. This was all going to be an adventure holiday for you.” He said “You think I’m mad. Some senile old fool who’s out to try and make the world as he sees it? If that’s true then I’m not the only one. A lot of people believe in the Institute, believe in me.”

“Oh come o—“

“The Stanley facility employs thirty people, SnowFox twenty-four, over three-hundred in facilities around the US, almost one hundred in Great Britain and western Europe and many more in China and Japan.”

“Yes bu—“

“Who do you think pays for all this? To pay for a secret lab in the Antarctic cost two-million US dollars, that’s before we take the equipment into consideration. A lot of people fund this project. Up until a couple of years ago, the International Flat Earth Society exclusively funded the day-to-day runnings of the organisation.”

“Why did they stop?” Trekky asked smugly.

“It’s leader was killed. Burned in his home along with valuable one-of-a-kind Flat Earth literature.” He replied grimly. Trekky’s smile vanished “Fractured remnants of the society exist world-wide but they have enough funding their own running, let alone the Rowbotham Institute. That means that close to eighty percent of the running costs are paid for by private sponsors who…know…exactly what we do…” Thomas’ face blanched and his voice faded to a whisper as though struck with a great realisation. Without warning he rushed over to his suitcase and pulled out a black ring binder. He frantically flipped through the pages, tearing some off the rings until he finally came to a page, stopped, mouthed the words as he read it back to himself , and dropped the binder on the floor in shock

“What?!” Trekky said, scrambling to his feet to retrieve the binder. He read the page that was face up:

“Oedipus Auto Components Limited. Oh six sponsors of the…  blah blah blah,” The paper went into details about the American company’s sponsorship deal, underneath it was a picture of Thomas bishop wearing a tailored suit with a blue tie shaking hands with a tall businessman with dark cropped hair next to what had to be a prototype or a concept car for the IceCruiser. “What is this, Tom?”

“I take it you didn’t notice the tiny logo on the engine casing of the snowmobile that tried to kill us?” He said, a trace of Tom Bishop humour slipping into the sentence. Trekky didn’t justify the question with an answer. “I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t on a piece of the shrapnel stuck in the side of the Rowbotham, presumably from when the snowmobile exploded. It was an ancient Greek-style face. Much like the one…”

“…That Oedipus uses for it’s corporate logo.” Trekky finished as realisation hit him too.

“We’ve been set up from the beginning, the conspiracy wanted us out here.”

“Congratulations, Tom. Two epic failures in one day…how does that feel?”

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #51 on: January 20, 2008, 03:20:27 PM »
When the sun set for the third time over Antarctica, it did not cast it's wonderful crimson rays on a camp of parked IceCruisers, but a fleet racing hell-for-leather across the wilderness, their battle-scarred bodies hurtling through the wind and snow.

"The wind is picking up again." Raist said to his comrades in car two, he had spent the time since the accident recovering and manning the temperature and radar controls, trying not to pick at the infuriatingly itchy scar on the side of his face. Space cowgirl insisted that it was just a sign that the wound was healing itself but she'd have a look at it next time they stopped. "If we have to lash down again, I'm doing the anchors."

"Do you think it's going to get that bad?" TheEngineer asked

"Things have already gone so bad, it makes sense for the inevitable cycle to continue." Midnight sighed

"Thank God for your warm, cheery optimism, eh Midnight?" Raist laughed, wincing at the shoot of pain it sent through his jaw.

"You can talk," midnight retorted "You whinged loud enough when you ffound out you wouldn't be seeing your gay lover again tonight."

"What Dann and I have isn't gayness, it's just..." He fished for appropriate phrases "man-lurve" Raist finished, rolling the 'r'.

"That was a shudder, in case you hadn't noticed." TheEngineer said, shaking his head at raist. Suddenly the winds picked up violently and the Weather Warning alarm sounded again.

"Ok, guys! You know what to do!" Tom Bishop called over the radio. The Shenton slowed and TheEngineer pulled it's handbrakes on before donning the thick winter coat and forcing his way out onto the ice. vicious Antarctic winds scoured any exposed skin, while the force of the wind forced him back like a sail. At leas the cloud of snow wasn't anywhere near as fierce, they could still see other cars stopping and preparing just as they were.

"Come on, let's get this over with!"

****

Outside car nine the pale skinned Vauxhall was struggling to engage the last ice anchor, a stray bullet had hit the mechanism and he was employing the full use of his engineering skills to restart the damaged machine.

"Start! Come on, you vicious bastard!" He screamed, and clobbered the machine with the emergency wrench he had found clipped to the underside of the car. With a grunt and a groan  the drill started up and plunged into the white. "Yes!"

He looked around to see Bushido give him the thumbs up. Him and Divito had succeeded in lashing down the cables. Vauxhall clipped the wrench back to the underside and fought the violent winds back to the car, stumbling as rogue gusts pummeled him. When he finally managed to climb into the cab the winds had brought with them a blizzard harder than anything the last snowstorm had brought up.

"Well, it could be worse." bushido shrugged as they watched the outside world turn from dark grey to solid black as snow built up against the windscreen.

"--Car Eight secure." The radio said, they'd forgotten that everyone was supposed to give a confirmation message to the rest of the convoy.

"We're all good here in car nine!" Bushido claimed over the radio.

The three men sat at the back of the car listening to the roaring of the sudden storm outside and playing Poker with a packet of battered pornographic playing cards, enjoying the cards themselves as much as the game. After nearly an hour the game became dull and they instead 'amused' themselves by speculating why they were attacked, and why car seven had been destroyed.

"They were assholes." Divito said, admiring an attractive blonde on the five of harts.

"So what, you blow up assholes now?" Bushido said, before the other two burst out laughing at the accidental innuendo.

"Speak for yourse--"

Suddenly the MacKenzie gave a violent shudder and all three of them felt the car slide to the right. Another jolt and it began to lean precariously to one side, sending the cards scattering across the floor. Vauxhall scrambled to his feet and tried to reach the radio, pulling himself along the back of the chair as the whole car slammed back to the ice before lurching back and forth and leaning even more dangerously, bags slid across the room, one of them knocking Bushido unconscious and another smashing into Divito's leg. Vauxhall reached out a hand to get to the radio as the whole car flipped onto it's roof, tossing Vauxhall's muscled body like a ragdoll into the wall, his head left a blood splatter where it connected and Vauxhall slipped into darkness...
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 03:53:43 PM by Chris Spaghetti »

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #52 on: January 21, 2008, 05:53:03 AM »
In the heart of the storm, the MacKenzie spun and tumbled as the tempest winds battered it's toppled frame. Pieces of the car tumled away across the ice, never to be seen again. Finally the battered IceCruiser came to rest against a rocky outcrop and the dunes of snow covering it's jagged edges. A spire of rock-hard ice smashed through the driver's side window, allowing in the deadly cold Antarctic air and the rain of glass shards.

Vauxhall and Bushido were still unconcsious, or dead, Divito couldn't tell from his crumpled position against the rear of the car, half buried under an avalanche of suitcases, sleeping bags and pornographic playing cards. The pain in his leg was making him giddy while a gash above his left eye stained his vision a stunning blood red. He gave a sigh of relief when the car abandoned it's wild tumble through the ice and was about to try and pull himself over to the radio when something in the shattered window caught his attention. A shadow, about human shape. Divito tried to call out to the shadowy manifestation but stopped himself, there was something wrong. Someone trying to perform a rescue would be making more noise, trying to attract the attention of whever was trapped inside, not skulking around hunched over, like it was searching for something. Eventually it found the unconcsious body of Vauxhall, instead of trying to help him, the figure, someone dressed in the standard Rowbotham Institute arctic coat, pulled out a long sleder strip of metal that glinted in the weak light. A knife! With the speed and precision of an adder's bite the blade flashed down and pluged into Vauxhall's body, the legs and arms began to shudder uncontrollably before they lay still.

The mysterious attacker pulled the knife out of Vauxhall with a sickening squelch, even in the gloom it was easy to see the blood dribbling off the end. The attacker wiped it and began to prowl the car again, hunting out Bushido who was lying beneath one of the chairs which had broken in the mad tumble of the MacKenzie. The attacker found out his prey, examined Bushido's unconcsious form before bringing the knife round in a deep slash through the unaware japanese man's throat, spraying blood in a quick violent fountain that splashed across the attacker's face. He removed his hood and glasses to wipe the blood off them, allowing Divito to clearly see the face o the dark spectre. Dark hair framed a ahrsh face, a familiar face, the face of someone he thought he'd never see again.

"Z? B-but you're dead!"

"Then this can't be happening, Divito." He said, turning to face  the helpless man lying crumpled under the detritus of the cabin.

"Why are you doing this?" he asked, his voice as level and calm as he could manage in the face of the impossible killer. He had to keep him talking while he unclipped the pistol from the hatch at the back of the cabin, the one Tom Bishop had talked about and the one he was currently lying on.

"What does it matter? You're going to die today with or without that knowledge." He said menacingly. He really was enjoying this

"It matters."

"Tough." Z loomed over Divito, knife raised. Divito succeeded in slipping the gun out of it's holster, was it loaded? No time to check, he kept it hidden beneath a sleeping bag while he clicked the safety off and curled his fingers around the grip.

"Goodbye." Z said, bringing his hand down in a wide arc,

"Goodbye."Divito replied shooting through the sleeping bag , the bullet tore through Z's knife hand and he leaped back in abstract horror. Divito unhid the gun and tried to take aim through the blur of blood in his vision while Z dived behind the fallen radio chair, pulling out a glock pistol of his own.

BLAM BLAM

The noise in the silent cabin was so much louder than in those hollywood blockbusters and the lead tore the chair to pieces, forcing Z to flee from his hiding spot, with just enough time to to fire ione bullet before he dived through the broken window. The bullet slammed into Divito's chest with  a spike of pain that forceed him to gasp out, barely holding back a scream. If Z knew that his shot in the dark had hit home then he would probably come back. All Divito could do was to drag himself over to the radio, click the open bandwith and call for help in a weak voice before he passed out, blood dribbling from a gunshot wound just below his ribs.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #53 on: January 26, 2008, 02:51:58 PM »
The cry for help went unnoticed by seven of the eight cars cowering beneath the storm clouds, their anchors holding them steady against the hurricane speed winds.

”…Need…help…”

“What was that?” Gayer exclaimed from her position on the floor of the Lazarev with Dann and Chrissetti.

“What?” Chrissetti asked as she stood up and went to the radio.

“Shh!”

”Please….murdured..” The weak voice said, barely audible above the roaring of the storm outside.

“Hello?!” Gayer called down the radio, trying to get a response from the caller. “This is Car Eight to all cars, please can you give me some kind of indication that you’re ok?”

”Gayer,” Tom called, his voice calm and full of confidence and authority ”What’s happened?

Gayer told him of the voice calling for help. Tom listened and appealed again for everyone to give a confirmation. Just a word that they were all right.

One by one, everyone said that they were fine. The gap left by Car two was painfull, almost a physical pain. The Lazarev gave their ok and everyone waited for the MacKenzie. Nothing came.

“Shit” “Not again.” “Oh Christ!”

Car ten reporting in…” Everybody was in a panic, two cars down in less than six hours. That didn’t add up to a good survival prospect, but what could they do? They were two days travel away from the SnowFox facility, indefinite distance away from the magical ‘safe shadow’ that Dogplatter seemed convinced existed.

“We have to save them.” Dann said, slipping into the driver’s seat.

“Are you mad? Look at the weather! Even if we aren’t blasted off our wheels how do you honestly expect to find them?” Chris said with a pleading tone.

“We can’t just leave them out there!”

“There’s nothing we can do!”

He was right, even if Dann couldn’t admit it. To try and move in a blizzard was damn near suicide. In sheer frustration he pounded the steering wheel.

“Dann…” Gayer placed a hand on his shoulder, Dann simply shrugged it off and stood up to face them.
   
“There are three of our people out there, and we’re going to just let them die?” With that he picked up his coat and walked to the door.

“No!” Chrissetti rushed him, rugby tackling to the ground. “I won’t let you be victim number seven.”

Dann heaved and threw Chrissetti off him.

“You’ve already written them off!” He snarled, eyes full of grief and anger. “How many does it take? How many before we take the right risks, before we’re prepared to risk our comfort zone to save someone else? You’re a coward. A stinking coward.”

“Stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it!” Gayer screeched, cutting through the charged atmosphere between the two men. “We’re already in enough danger from the bastards out there, now we’re throwing daggers at each other, too?!”

“Gayer, I—“

“Enough! We’re supposed to trust each other in here and we’re too paranoid to even tell each other our names?” Gayer was at fever pitch now, the stresses of the journey exploding in a sudden burst of anger.

“But—“

“Natasha!” Gayer said, cutting through Dann’s interruption, his own anger gone in the face of the whirlwind of Gayer’s fury. “Natasha Valentine..”

“Chris Tredinick.” Chrissetti said, looking at Natasha in the eyes.

“Daniel Sanders.” Dann said, meekly.

“Thank you.”

Getting all their stresses into the open seemed to clear the air between the Lazarev trio. Just in time as the weather warning alarm shrilled it’s safety indicator. Dann smiled smugly and pushed out onto the ice. Chrissetti and Gayer quickly followed. Outside the winds still beat hard against the trucks but it was nothing compared to the tempest just moments ago. The rest of the explorers were trekking to where the missing Car Nine had been before the storm.

Twenty-four inexperienced expeditioners gathered around the site of the MacKenkie. Each of them utterly shocked. Instead of the empty plain of ice, punctuated by just the drilled holes from the anchors. Instead, what they found was four of the pegs, still connected to four cables, but each of them was cut cleanly and smoothly. The entire anchor mechanisms were left drilled into the ground.

“This wasn’t an accident.” Tom Bishop said solemnly. “Whoever did this knew how to disassemble the anchors and knew where the weakness in the lashing cables were. This i—“
“It doesn’t matter!” Space Cowgirl cut across him. “We need to concentrate on finding any survivors.”

Finding the car wasn’t going to be difficult, the mad tumble across the ice left large chunks of debris, equipment from smashed caravans, pools of spare diesel, crumpled plates of mangled metal. Tom Bishop was worried that they might be travelling into a trap so he ordered a few people back for AK-47s, now they appeared like a military troop.

Less than fifteen minutes after they began their search, the main bulk of the MacKenzie was spotted buckled and crushed against a rocky outcrop through the ice, nothing was stirring around it. Behind them, the rest of the convoy was invisible beneath a veil of snow and ice.

“So who’s going in?”

Nobody moved apart from Dann, Midnight and Space Cowgirl. Dann armed with a pistol, Midnight with an AK-47. Space Cowgirl with a medical kit.. Dann led the way up the carcass of the IceCruiser followed by Space Cowgirl, then Midnight, the other armed members of the group scouted around the MacKenzie.

The door was jammed solid, the crashes had caved it in on itself and crumpled the door frame around it. The windows had smashed and with a little effort they shoved the debris blocking them out of the way. Dann sucked down a deep breah of razor sharp icy air and forced his way inside, training his pistol at the deep shadows lurking inside the behemoth machine.

“Hello?” He called, hoping for a response, a reply, a grunt, anything to let him know that somebody was alive. His eyes began to adapt as Space Cowgirl came in, letting him make out shapes in the gloom. “Hey! Down here!” The young nurse rushed over to where Dann had called, on the floor was the vague shape of somebody on the floor. Was he unconscious? Dead?

“Here.” Midnight said, tossing Dann an omnitool, currently set to work as a flashlight. Dann and Space Cowgirl screamed  as the little pool of light splashed over Vauxhall’s body. Blood had soaked his tee-shirt and jeans, cold dead eyes stared aimlessly at the ceiling. Space Cowgirl regained her composure and examined Vauxhall, checking his pulse in one last futile grasp for life.

“He was stabbed.” She said breathlessly

“What? No, he couldn’t be. Who could have stabbed him?”

“I was an intern at an inner-city hospital. I know what a stab wound looks like.”

With regret she closed his eyes and stood up, hope of finding survivors dropping by the second. It wasn’t long before they came upon the body of Bushido, throat slit from side to side. Seconds later they found Divito, the flashlight showing the bullet wound just underneath the ribs, off to the left side of the body. Space Cowgirl was about to declare him dead too when she saw his lips move soundlessly.

“He’s alive!” Mara shunted Dann out of the way as she knelt beside him, opening the entirely inadequate medical kit. “One of you, give me your shirt now! Now!”

Midnight stripped from the waist up, shivering in the Antarctic cold still blowing in through the shattered windows. He pulled his coat on again and tossed the shirt down to Mara who tore it into expensive linen strips. She applied pressure to the wound and made the best field bandage.

“Who did this?” Dann said, kneeling down by his head. “Who killed Vauxhall and Bushido.

“…” Divito croaked, his face screwed up in agony as he tried to form the word. Or rather the letter. “...Z…”
« Last Edit: February 10, 2008, 07:38:06 AM by Chris Spaghetti »

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #54 on: January 28, 2008, 04:48:46 AM »
"Z? But he's dead. We saw the car explode. Nobody could have survived that." Dann said, shaking his head, refusing to believe. Space Cowgirl had tried everything she could to save him, but still the wound was bleeding through the padding.

"There's nothing more I can do. At the very best I give him a couple of hours to live. I'm sorry."

"I'd better tell the others what'sn happened, Dann said sadly, preparing to get up.

"I'll go." Midnight interupted, and he climbed out through the broken window.

Outside, the explorers had gathered into a worried knot, Midnight was worried that some of them might have itchy trigger fingers at the moment, so he approached them slowly.

"They're dead." He said calmly and simply. "Head trauma, looks like they died by being battered into unconscioussness by the car rolling across the ice. Space Cowgirl is just packing up now. Me and Dann will escort her back, neither of them will want to be crowded now, so go back to the IceCruisers."

The worried crowd started chattering nervously amongst themselves as they turned to leave, Midnight's authorotive voice cutting through them. A few stayed behind, mostly the fellow explorers from Dann and Space Cowgirl's car, Midnight told them to go and wait as he went back inside the MacKenzie.

"How'd they react?" Dann asked.

"I told them they died in the crash."

"What?!"

"They're panicked enuogh as it is, we don't want to push them over the edge into outright hysteria by telling them that an angry ghost is knifing them while they sleep."

"Dann rounde on him, backed up by Space Cowgirl. "We've been lied to enough by Tom and the Rowbotham Institute. And now by our own, too?"

"Fine. Tell them. Panic and chaos are the natural response to big news so this should be fun to watch."

The other two were silent as they considered Midnight's concealed warning.

"All right, we keep it secret for now. But ehast about him?" Space Cowgirl said, indicating the man lying with a gunshot wound.

"Whatever." Midnight shrugged. "But the longer we satay here, the harder it will be to maintain the air of it being an accident."

"All right. Here's what we'll do."

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #55 on: January 28, 2008, 08:53:09 AM »
he SnowFox dome relied heavily on supplies from the mainland, usually from the Falklands. When the last supply helicopter disappeared in the intervening time between Stanley and SnowFox the people inside became nervous. The expedition to the IceWall had emptied most of their armoury and in the last few hours radio contact with the island had ceased.

Lisa LaCaille sat in her office going over the data time and time again. At 4am this morning, radio signals in and out of the SnowFox facility were blocked. Coupled with the helicopter mystery it put the acting Head of Facility in a serious problem. Did she arm the men and wait to see if they were being attacked? Evacuate the facility on the reserve helicopter?

She stood up and walked to the small window her office enjoyed and looked out over the facility, the vehicle sheds, now devoid of cars, save one Toyota Land Rover IceCruiser. One that she would have driven in as NutH had there been enough volunteers. Instead she'd been left to command the facility, placing every engineer, cartographer and scientist under her care. It was a massive responsibility that she wasn't prepared for, but one she was determined to live up to. She walked back to her desk and pressed a facility-wide PA system button.

"This is Madame LaCaille. As of this moment we are at condition yellow. All non-essential work is to be shut down immediately. All staff are required to check arms and be prepared to step up too condition red at any time without warning. Thank you."

She knew that the scientists would complain. Most of them were quite willing to carry on their experiments during an earthquake; nevertheless she had to make sure the facility was on its guard. Her gaze happened to wander out of the open window and she caught a glimpse of something dark on the horizon. It was nothing more than a speck but she was used to the pristine Ice Wall skies, the eternal blue broken only by a wispy cloud.

"Oh merde!" She ran back to the PA button and yelled 'red alert' just in time for the first missile to hit the corner of the vehicle sheds. A golden plume of fire leaped hundreds of feet into the air while the shockwave shattered every window in the building. The sound was loud enough to leave the world ringing in her ear when the explosion passed. Outside, the Vehicle shed had slumped on one corner into a smouldering ruin of metal. Seconds later the heliport went the same way, the reserve contra-rotating helicopter throwing shrapnel to the winds. On the horizon, the helicopter had gotten close enough to make out details and several dark squat shapes were looming up from beneath the horizon. Suddenly there was a fwooosh noise and Lisa looked to see institute men firing heat-seeking bazooka rounds at the approaching army. The helicopter easily intercepted and destroyed the rockets before launching a volley of smaller ones itself. Boom boom boom boom, a chain of fire snaked across the ice, turning a section of ice into a worrying ice chasm, devouring peripheral buildings whole.

Lisa ran from her office to find out what was going on and ran into a whirlwind of activity, AK-47 equipped men and women scrambling to open windows, a couple of them carrying ammo for the rocket launchers. It wasn't long before the dark shapes on the horizon revealed themselves as armoured personnel carriers. The helicopter opened fire again with its gatling cannon, turning the SnowFox dome into the world's largest colander. A lucky shot clipped the helicopter and it was obvious it couldn't fight, Institute soldiers opened fire on its retreating form.

But now the APCs were in range to open fire with heavy cannons, shredding any wall or body its leaden death came into contact with. One rocket fwoooshed through the air and connected with an APC, forcing soldiers to flee from the back screaming as the flames melted their coats into bubbling, cracking skin.

A storm of bullets ripped from both sides as soldiers from the attackers dismounted from the backs of the trucks to lend their rifles' power to that of the large cannons. Lisa ran through the dome, giving orders to retreat or move to another location, or just offering support, whenever she passed a hole big enough to shoot through, she fired a couple of rounds from her pistol, feeling pleased when one of her shots actually hit someone. She dived out of the way as a supporting column collapsed, bringing down a wall and a considerable chunk of the ceiling. She was lucky enough to escape with just some deep scratches.

Lisa could see her troops were too disorganised to mount any kind of counter-attack so she gave the order to retreat into the middle ring of offices and labs, she would force the conspiracy troops into a bottleneck through a handful of entry-points.

"How many of us?!" She screamed to an engineer she forgot the name of,

"About fifteen. I could rig a few of the labs to explode, make some booby traps for them, which should level the playing field a little."

"All right, but make sure that our boys know where they are!"

The man nodded and ran off into the smoke choked corridors of SnowFox. In minutes everyone was silently in position. The conspiracy troops had all left the APCs and were making their way over to the facility's three main entrances and a hole blown up in the outer shell. Lisa waited patiently as the soldiers made their way beyond the threshold before yelling the order to the engineer who detonated his booby traps, five men were caught in the small locations, bringing enough debris down to seal off all but two entrances, from which conspiracy troops opened a clip of ammunition blindly into the building, hoping to get a lucky shot. Lisa expected them to advance, but they didn't. Instead there was a soft chink chink as a little metal capsule was thrown into the building.

"Cover your mouths!" She ordered, pulling her jumper up in front of her face as the metal capsule started leaking poison gas into the building. Several Institute troops panicked and fled from the rooms too early and were mown down by machine-gun fire. Those that didn't move passed out quickly from the gas. Lisa's world went black as she saw Conspiracy soldiers stormed the now defenceless building, shooting the gagging, spluttering men and women in the head.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #56 on: February 03, 2008, 12:36:37 PM »
 Tom Dann, Space Cowgirl and Midnight stayed with Divito as his fatally damaged body slowly broke down. Dann tried time and time again to get him to explain what he meant by “Z”. there were bullet holes in the back of the chair. Who fired them? At whom? It was frustrating that one of the witnesses couldn’t respond and the medical opinion was without question that he was going to die. The moment came three hours after they found the wreck of the MacKenzie.

“He’s gone.” Space Cowgirl said simply, trying hard not to break into tears.

“You did your best.” Dann said, gently placing a hand on her shoulder which started to shake.

“It wasn’t good enough.” She said with a sob “Now we’re sitting in a tomb. A cold dark tomb.”

Midnight came in from the ice outside with his usual solemn expression even more glum than ever. “Come on. Lets head back to the convoy.”

“No, i—“

“We’re going. Now.” He said with true authority. Pulling Space Cowgirl by the wrist. They left the battered hulk of the MacKenzie behind, trudging through the snow and ice following the trail of debris back. Mara was trying to stop crying simply because her tears froze on her face and hurt. They all agreed to maintain the story that someone had sabotaged the anchors and all three of them perished when it toppled with the wind.


“Hey.” Dann said, opening the door of the Lazarev. Gayer and Chrissetti were huddled around the radio, apparently chatter had been hard and fast between the cars.

“What happened?” Gayer asked quickly. “What’s taken you?”

“ Divito was still alive. Space Cowgirl spent so long trying to keep him alive but there was nothing we could do, the sho—wound was too deep.”

“The sho--?” Chris asked with an eyebrow raised

“Slip of the tongue. We should tell the other’s I’m back so we can get underway.” He said, cutting across any more questions. Begrudgingly the others agreed and radioed through.

Ok people. I know you’re all shaken by the deaths of  our friends and comrades Divito, Bushido and Vauxhall. The people who sabotaged their car are the inhuman scum who are dedicated to stopping us uncovering their secret and shattering their lies to six billion people the world over.” Tom Bishop said ”And we already know that they are lying, they are trying to kill us. From this moment on there will be no more stops. We sleep in shifts. We will honour our friends by bringing down those responsible.

*

Chris Spaghetti

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Re: The Book
« Reply #57 on: February 10, 2008, 06:35:56 AM »
Eight cars thundered across the ice which the storm had worn down to the smoothness of a plane of glass, allowing the explorers to gun the throttle up to a terrifying hundred miles an hour, not that it was obvious at all, from the inside of the cars the landscape seemed unchanging, just a perfectly solid divide between the sky and the ice all around.

On board the Lazarev, Dann had fixed himself on driving, insisting that there might be a hidden ridge or bump, he shrugged off most questions, either not answering or giving a brief grunt to confirm or deny the question. The radio was full of chatter about the deaths on board the MacKenzie, a discussion that Gayer and Chrissetti dropped when they saw how uncomfortable it made Dann.

"You two may as well get some sleep." He said, startling the silent Chrissetti and Gayer. "If we're going to be driving in shifts, you better be alert for it."

"Yeah, you're probably right." gayer said, cheekily grinning at Chris.  "Let's get some 'shut eye'."

"Ugh, if I hear or see anything I'm throwing the both of you out onto the ice." Dann said, shaking his head. He fixed his attention more than ever before praying for a cluster of boulders, or a sudden cliff or anything to distract him from the sound of clothes dropping to the floor, instead he had only the six-pointed star of the Antarctic sun setting over the ice to distract him, so he started whistling.

****

Malcolm Lee sat back at the computer and grinned. The pathetic people on the internet chat-room had taken the bait easier than he'd thought and had descended into purposeless argument, forgetting why they were arguing in the first place. He knew it was ultimately pointless but it was amusing to see the bumbling masses bicker at his expense, or rather at 'Midnight's expense. There was a clatter at the letterbox so he left one last scathing comment and he went to the door, not that it was a long way, his apartment was a tiny three-room studio overlooking Silicon Valley. His job as a software designer just about covered the rent, the cost of running his computer and a couple of decent nights out a week.

Midnight picked up the single letter on the floor in front of his door and walked back to his worn sofa as he opened it. He read it. He re-read it. he put it down and laughed.

"Even a fake plane ticket too!" he said, to nobody in particular. He decided that the internet could confirm whether the invitation to a 'unique scientific revelation' were genuine. He went back to his fearsome array of technology, a triple core 600GB hard drive plugged into six flatscreen monitors that were stacked two by three and curved around the user. A wonderfully unique and ergonomic wireless keyboard sat next to a complicated five-buttoned  wireless laser mouse. Three large speakers sat at the sides of the monitors with a further two behind him. Stacks of CDs and DVDs were arranged in alphabetical order and formed two multicoloured pillars at the side of the computer table. it gave him the computing performance that most internet surfers could only dream of. His home-designed graphics heavy operating system managed whatever program he wanted with little to no fuss.

he started hunting down the information he wanted from the worldwide web. He discovered that the plane ticket was real. Booked and paid for from California to the Falkland Islands in a week's time, but that was all. Now he was intrigued, he usually assumed that anything could be found on the web, given the skills to hunt it down but Thomas Bishop remained an enigma. Apparently he was a real person who had graduated Harvard University armed with a doctorate in astrophysics in 1974, he went on to work in an observatory in Massachusetts for five years and had apparently questioned most of the established 'facts' and figures been touted by the scientific community. In 1982 the observatory and the research community who financed it quietly told Tom to leave. In 1989 he became a watched figure by the CIA and the FBI, though Malcolm couldn't find out why. After 1990 the only records of his existence were plane flights to various destinations around the world.

Midnight booked himself a two-month paid holiday by hacking his employer's computer starting  in a week's time...


****

“Hey!” Muffs called, attracting Tom and Trekky’s attention who were scribbling on the Ice wall map. The time was ten pm and for the first time on the trip;

“It’s night!” Trekky exclaimed. It was true, darkness had completely fallen over the ice, only the Rowbotham’s headlights showed the landscape as black and white relief. Suddenly the lonely beauty of the Antarctic became so much more menacing.

“Wait, doesn’t this mean that we’re past the ‘South Pole’?” Trekky asked, making air quotes with his fingers.

“No. According to the radar compass, we’re twenty miles from the official ‘end of the world’.” Tom said, pointing to the little device on the dashboard. He clicked a switch on the radio “All right, everyone. We’ve finally got nightfall and we’ll be approaching he border of explored territory in an hour, make sure everyone is armed. from now on we run without internal or external lights. God speed.”

“We should turn back.” Said Trekky

“We’ve discussed why we need to carry on an—“

“This is suicide. We’re thirt—twenty-four untrained civilians, and we’re going up against a well-armed military who know we’re coming into their territory. That’s not good odds, Tom.”

“We have one advantage. They don’t know we’re armed.”

“They know we have guns, we dealt with three of their snowmobiles, remember?”

“Exactly, we stopped them, there was nobody left to report back.”

“Unless there were more of them.” Muffs piped in from the driver’s seat.

“And what if they don’t know?” Trekky asked “They’re still out to kill each and every one of us.”

“We press on.” Tom announced with fierce determination.

“Stop this damn pig-headedness!” Trekky yelled “We’ve lost six in how many days? Three? At this rate there will be no-one left in twelve days. Why make that worse by trying to run the blockade?”

“Because these bastards deserve to be brought down. You agreed with that, nothing’s changed. We turn tail and run now then they’ve won. Completely and utterly.”

Trekky shuddered, as if physically restraining himself. Closing his eyes and mouthing counting to ten under his breath, unfortunately Tom didn’t seem to appreciate the depths of Trekky’s anger.

“So will you agree we need to continue?”

At that point Trekky finally lost it. He burst from the front of the car fists first, a clumsy right hook caught the older man across the cheek and he went down to one knee, Trekky followed through with his other fist, blood erupted from his lip.

“Andrew!” Muffs shrieked, “Stop!”

Trekky stood seething over Tom Bishop who was staggering back up to his feet, wiping blood from a cut on his bottom lip
« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 03:46:23 AM by Chris Spaghetti »

*

Chris Spaghetti

  • Flat Earth Editor
  • 12682
Re: The Book
« Reply #58 on: February 11, 2008, 04:41:57 AM »
Tom scowled at Trekky, walked calmly towards him, and landed a perfect haymaker hard enough to land him on his back wearing an amazed expression. Trekky scabbled to his knees, wincing as he felt the bruise starting to form on his jaw, Muffs yelped and began to cry.

"Ouch." Trekky grumbled, "That's one hell of a punch, but it doesn't change anything. We need to turn around while we still can."
"We need to hit them back." Tom responded with utter conviction.

"Go hunt your whale on someone else's time, Ahab. Not mine."

"I--" Toms words turned to bitter cinders in his mouth, he had meant to lecture Andrew on the evils of the conspirateurs, remind him of their atrocities, but somehow he couldn't shake the image of himself as the doomed captain, nursing his anger at the white whale that crippled him, losing everything he loved to the leviathan, "to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

"Sorry?"

"For twenty-six years I've been hunting my own white whale, I've spent just about every penny I have in the endeavour, haven't settled down for more than 2 months anywhere. I've brought hundreds more to the hunt. And now the whale is in range of my harpoons, I haven't sacrificed so much to give up now."

"Didn't Ahab die fighting the whale?" Muffs asked

"Ahab didn't have AK-47s."

"Neither did the whale."

"You better decide what we're going to do soon." Muffs said urgently "Because pretty soon it's going to be a pointless argument anyway."

Outside the Rowbotham night had truly descended the only difference in the sky to the ground was the stars. Straddling the horizon was a harsh pinprick of white light, artificial light. Trekky and Tom looked at each other and both went to pull out the Arctelligent binoculars. They both zoomed in on the alien manifestation. Through the powerful zoom it became clear that the lights were powerful searchlights mounted to a dark skeletal metal tower

*

Chris Spaghetti

  • Flat Earth Editor
  • 12682
Re: The Book
« Reply #59 on: February 11, 2008, 03:59:32 PM »
CHAPTER IV

She was used to the cold by now, the way it curled itself around her like a cobra, drawing life from her. She was used to the hunger and the anticipation of just one more slice of stale bread. She was even used to the wooden bench made slippery with condensation. What she couldn't get used to was the isolation, in all the time she'd been locked up she hadn't spoken with another human being, or even seen one. Food was delivered in little brown paper packages through a slit at the bottom of the door.

Time, there was another bizarre concept. She genuinely had no idea how long she had been imprisoned, there were no windows in the depressing six by five foot concrete block and food deliveries were irregular. She had absolutely no point of reference.

That morning, or afternoon, or night, who knew? Sahah Al-Hashan's world finally changed. As she lay on her bunk staring mindlessly into the middle distance, she heard a click at the heavy metal door that contained her. It took her mind several seconds to analyse what the alien sound actually meant but when the door opened a crack, she pulled herself off the bed and to her feet so quickly that  days of inactivity, poor nutrition and exhaustion made her legs crumple beneath her, sending her sprawling to the cold grey floor.

"Sahah?" A voice said, a familiar voice. She tried to reply but her vocal chords just gave out a strangled squeak. Then the owner of the voice walked in. He wore a thick coat and trousers, hiding most of his body. the face, oh yes, she recognised the face. Handsome Iraqi features with a short bushy dark beard and eyes haunted by dark memories.

"B-Brother?" She rasped and struggled to her feet, legs shaking with the effort

" Xushik!" he exclaimed in Kurdish "You're alive!"

He ran to his Sister and held her in a deep embrace, letting out years of pain in loud cries. Saddam and his sister held each other for both an eternity and no time at all before armed soldiers gripped the man by the shoulders and wrenched him away from her. Sahah screamed at the soldiers, pulled at Saddam and punched the soldiers who knocked her to the floor with the butt of his gun.

"Bastards! you evil bastards! Let me go! let me GO!" He screamed, making his voice hoarse while tears streamed from his face but it was no good, the heavy metal door slammed shut with a sickening finality. The soldiers turned him around to face his tormentor, the captor of his sister, Diego Draw standing before him with a smug expression across his sneering face.

"Now you know she's alive, and the one responsible for making sure she stays that way is you, Saddam."

"F*ck you!"

"it's very simple. Just complete your mission. When all of the insurgents are...dealt with you and Sahah walk away free to do whatever you want. We will of course pay to help your new lives start up. Now what do you say? will you continue to help us?"

"Get f*cked!" He spat, still straining at the soldier's grip.

"Very well then. Corporal Jones? Kill her."

"No! all right! all right! you win! For the love of God you win!"

"I thought you might say that. Corporal jones, belay that order. Mr Al-Hashan is learning."