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I Spy Mission Log - Entry 06B/Team 1

McHale and Jones make it back to where Sue had been working on shelter without too much trouble. Even though it is nearly impossible to see, the hike was not too far. In the snow depression, one larger tent and one smaller one separated by a tarp can be seen. Inside the larger tent a faint staticy buzzing can be heard.

Unzipping the front and ducking inside, Tim and Kristen find Sue sitting half in and half out of a mummy bag, with a second unrolled beside her. Her eyes are closed and her head is rocking back and forth to the dub rhythm of some prerecorded dance band. Catching the draft, she stirs from her music.

"I figured we'd hole up until the storm passes. This tent's for sleeping; the other tent's for when nature calls." When asked about the second sleeping bag she says, "Anna was handing them out before we jumped. It never hurts to have too many blankets!"

Nodding, Kristen agrees that the team should stay put for awhile. "It occurs to me that we've been awake and on-the-go since we left New Zealand. It may be a good time to get some sleep, what with us being stuck waiting in a shelter in the Antarctic. We should also agree on watches..."

Tim volunteers for first watch. "I've got some things I'd like to do before catching some Z's anyway." He leaves his pack inside and heads out, closing the tent behind him.

The quarters are almost uncomfortably close. Almost, but the closeness does cut the chill quite a bit.

After rummaging around in her pack for a few seconds, Jones sits back with an annoyed look. "Oh, well," she mutters. Looking back up, she says, "So, Martin, got any relatives in the States?"

"No. Actually, I don't have any living relatives." "I'm sorry." "Don't sweat it; I've been on my own most of my life. You get used to it after a while." Yawning, Sue flexes her arms and arches her back for a good stretch, and drops into a sleep sound as death itself.

Outside, after establishing shelter and recon points, McHale snaps some shots with his digital camera. Then, back inside the cramped tent, he manages to establish a digital uplink between his computer, the satphone and the internet. Once there, he checks with the military equivalent of the national weather service to get the forecast. This area of the pole is looking at 3-4 more days of snow and harsh winds.

McHale then send the photos to his private e-mail as attachments. Then he examines the photos. With his fisheye lens, and a lucky break in the storm, he was able to capture some good terrain shots. The ground seems riddled with fissures. Not knowing if this is normal for the area, he passes them on to some of CIA tech boys he's worked with in the past.

Closing his laptop quietly with a click, McHale thinks about his "final solution".

If the cavalry needs to be called in, I'll pick the cavalry. By following the directive that "proper authorities (decontamination or bomb disposal units) should be notified at once, even at the risk of jeopardizing a delicate mission. Caution supersedes any political or national allegiances," you can be sure that the clean-up operation will be secure. And ugly. And final. And Zeb will find out about it by reading the third page of the international section of USA Today...

Scratching his chin, McHale shakes his head. I won't pull the trigger on that clean up call too soon, though. I want all the information first.

Remembering Team Two, McHale plugs the personal audio pickup into the satphone and attempts to raise the other team. He receives some static and some clear air, but no response. What happened? he wonders to himself. Shrugging, he tries again every ten minutes for an hour, with no response.

Later, when he wakes Sue for her watch, he relays that team two is unaccounted for. Switching places, Tim is glad for the already warm bag. As he falls asleep, he wonders at how Sue is sweating, though only wearing a leather catsuit.

Sue takes watch and tries to raise team two every half an hour, for the first two hours. She then decides to conserve the batteries, and just watch over her sleeping companions.

Martin's watch goes quietly - the hissing of the snow against the walls has died down as the shelter is covered beneath it. In the silence, she hears a pained whimper, and looks over to see Jones jerking lightly in her sleep. Must be a nightmare, Sue thinks. Kristin mutters what sounds like "rose...." as a tear slips down her cheek, but then quiets down.

Feeling completely rested from her meditation and four hour deep sleep, Sue opts to take third watch as well. They need their rest.

In the morning, Kristen is surprised that she was allowed to sleep all night. Before leaving the sack, she puts a call into Miss Hemingway, leaving a message with her secretary. "She may have a lead on our leak."

The team eats their bland MREs, each one going over their equipment. Jones was glad she had read up on Antarctic conditions beforehand, and winterized her guns like McHale. Martin is conspicuously free of firepower. After packing and breaking camp, they head towards Atlantis II, making sure to stay out of sight - not difficult under whiteout conditions.

Kristen suggests "sneaking closer to Atlantis, and then go into shelter to wait for a sign. Once we're kinda close to the base (perhaps a half mile or less), we should put up some camouflaged shelter. Maybe find a hill or ledge, dig under the edge of it, cover the opening with white cloth and let the snow cover it."

Donning snowshoes, the three venture off.

Watching Martin move in her skintight winterized suit, Jones thinks to herself, I guess that answers my question as to whether Martin has any cool Q-toys...

Jones then turns to McHale. "I had a thought. You mentioned that when an intel op is blown, one of the normal responses is a 'purely military solution.' You also thought that we seemed like a pretty heavy group to be sent on an intel op. Has it occurred to you that we MAY BE the 'purely military solution?' Or at least that Zeb&Co. had it as a possible backup plan?"

Nodding, as much to agree as to warm his neck, McHale answers. "It's something I had considered. Once we get settled into our next shelter, I want to try communicating with some of my assets that are outside the mission (and thus uncompromised). Also, there were these orders: 'If chemical, biological, or radiological (nuclear) warfare devices are encountered in the field, you should make no attempt to disarm or contain the devices. Proper authorities (decontamination or bomb disposal units) should be notified at once, even at the risk of jeopardizing a delicate mission. Caution supersedes any political or national allegiances.'

"I haven't decided WHO the 'proper authorities' are, but I have a bad feeling about Zeb and his swiss cheese organization being called in for the clean-up. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it..."

Without warning, McHale drops from sight into a snow covered hidden crevasse.

Shadowcat Tim McHale Sue Martin