I Spy Mission Log - Entry 08A/Team 1
McHale is out of immediate danger. The trouble is, there are four snowshoes for three people, and about 3 miles of open and covered fissure infested snow drifts before reaching their destination.
The good news is no one's injured.
Jones rests her chin on the thumb of her fist, thinking to herself. "Hmmm. How to deal with holey snow? Well, I could deal with the lack of snowshoes but that wouldn't help me with the cracks in the snow... and I don't think I want to let them get ahead, then follow their footprints..."
She turns to the others, "We must be more careful about holes. Perhaps a walking stick? Sniper rifle?"
Martin suggests "we tie ourselves together in a line, no more than 10 feet apart with my rope. Does anyone have anything to prod the snow ahead for hidden fissures?"
Brushing himself off and checking all his gear, McHale exhales in relief.
"I agree with the idea to rope ourselves together. As far as prodding the snow, I don't believe I can be of service. Maybe tying a weight to the rope and swinging 10 or 12 feet out so that it hits the snow real hard, kind of an overhand whip and down motion may work. Also, I'm without the benefit of snowshoes. My idea for traveling fast is that someone can use my hard, plastic rifle case as a sled while the two, or one of the two, with snowshoes pulls.
"Sue leading and beating the snow, me pulling and Kristin riding (assuming her snowshoes fit me) would be my suggested configuration. I just want to travel another 3 miles as fast as possible, set up shelter and drink some hot chocolate.
"Of course, the downside of traveling fast is that if there are any devices used to detect intruders out here, we'll bumble right into them."
Kristin shakes her head sadly. "Hmmm. I'm starting to think that people don't take me seriously... first, Sue doesn't wake me for my watch, and now Timmy wants to drag me around on the snow."
Then louder, addressing the others, she adds "The real downside of traveling fast is running into more hidden cracks in the ice. I can travel without snowshoes, but the problem is that it would take a lot of concentration. I'd be unable to help much looking out for holes, and I'm not sure I could keep it up for three miles."
Both Tim and Sue are taken by surprise by Kristin's private remarks.
Tim is first to reply. "I do take you seriously. If things start to get ugly, I'm counting on you to be a cool, experienced professional that I can count on. I hope that's how you view me, too. The watch thing between you and Sue is just that-- between you and Sue. How you handle it is up to you.
"As far as dragging you around goes, if YOU want to drag ME, hey, I don't mind being the one who gets to say, 'Mush!' I thought I was being considerate. I LOST the snowshoes by falling into the big hole, I thought the fair thing was for me to get to do the WORK."
He then agrees with Kristin about the perils of Antarctic travel. "You are right. Cracks kill..."
Sue also adds her voice. "I didn't mean to sound like I wasn't taking you seriously. It's just that when I saw you weren't sleeping well, I thought I'd let you get your rest. I can endure extreme temperatures better than most, and there's no telling just how long we are going to be out in the snow.
"As for the sled idea, I think McHale is just trying to be practical. Speaking of which, I like your suggestion, McHale, but who is going to volunteer their gear for the heavy weight?"
Scratching her head, she adds, "By the way Kristin, how can you travel without snowshoes and hope to keep up?"
Hearing Sue ask about Jones' snow walking trick, perks up Tim's interest. He's also interested in her explanation.
Putting a double-covered hand behind her neck, Kristin works out some kinks. "Sorry. The cold must be getting to me... or all this white!"
She then addresses Sue's questions, "Oh that? It's just a little skill I picked up a couple years ago. Don't worry about it. And as for the weight, how heavy do we need? I've got a spare pistol, but that's kinda light. We didn't really bring much spare and heavy stuff with us."
Tim may have an idea. "As far as what you use for a weight goes, we're standing on it. I can chop out a lump of ice (actually, probably compacted snow) with my knife and tie it to the rope. If it starts to disintegrate from snow smacking snow, we should be able to harden it up by pouring some water on it; real hard ice hitting compacted snow is much nicer. It shouldn't be too tough to replenish water supplies, once we make camp. And if that doesn't work, I have some other ideas.
"As far the watch thing goes, you girls handle it. I just want everyone awake and alert and ready to go at any time. That includes myself, too. If I'm not handling myself correctly, you all tell me. Just remember that we're all pros here.
"That's all I have. I'm just looking forward to shelter."
Later, McHale takes Jones aside. "One other thing... Don't let her quiz you about your skills. She blows up like a body builder any time we need to pick up something heavy. Has she offered any explanation about that? And what's up with wearing a Mrs. Peel-type cat suit on the glacier? I wouldn't do that to a brass monkey, but she seems more comfortable than you or me.
"You may not be the one that has some explaining to do after all."
The other replies, "Hey, I figure that working with Q-branch has got to be worth SOME cool toys... Advice noted, but I *do* know about secrets and the need to keep them."
They tie themselves together, ten or so feet apart. Sue takes the lead, with a spare length of rope tied around a moderately large chuck of ice. She'll use this to test the ground ahead for more hidden cracks. Tim is behind her, dragging his hard plastic rifle case, upon which sits Kristin.
Moving is slow, between the fact that it is pitch black (starlight at night and infrared in a blizzard), the presence of so many fissures, and the need to make wide detours around some large cracks. Most of the fissures are small, but even a twisted ankle out here could mean death.
It is hard work, but it keeps you warm, unlike riding the 'sled', so Kristen and Tim change places throughout the trip. By the end of the 'day', everyone is cold and tired.
GPS puts your location at within a mile of where Whiteout base should be.
Jones stops dragging McHale's sled and wipes beads of sweat from her forehead with a handkerchief. "Ok, boys and girls, it's igloo time.
"Let's find an appropriate hill or ridge or whatever, dig into it a bit, build some walls around the hole and do the camouflaged shelter thing. Preferably something on the opposite side of the hill from Whiteout. Whoever's on watch can poke their head over the crest to look around.
"Once we're done with that, I'll take first watch (since I got some extra sleep last night...) You two can iron out who is next.
"Any ideas on how often, or if, we should try contacting Team 2? If they've been captured, their captors would probably notice them getting a phone call. If they're 'guests,' who knows..."
Tim agrees with Kristin's shelter ideas, adding, "Whatever high speed excavation Sue did for our last camp site is good for me. As for location, I want to be on the leeward of a hill, in order to get out of even more wind. This assumes, of course, that there is a prevailing wind direction." He makes a note to observe Sue's technique later, and pitch in.
"As for watches, I'm flexible. I have some e-mails to send and answer (probably 40 minutes worth) and my gear and weapons to check out (probably another 40 minutes). I don't want to do this on my watch, so if somebody will wake me up about 90 minutes earlier than I'm supposed to start watch, I'll be cool."
McHale is against radio contact. "I say radio silence. I advocate listening all the time, though."
The group is tired, but having the need for some protection from the storm, team one presses onward.
After a while, a faint violet glow can just barely be seen in the distance. And in that glow, the silhouette of a ridge is visible.
The wind is worst on the ridge side facing away from the glow, but the team agreed that they should try to remain hidden from the base. So they make camp on the windy side of the ridge.
Tim unpacks the tents and watches what he expects to be Sue's high speed excavation. However, she doesn't dig at all; she just tamps down the snow with her feet, pitching the tent floor below the surrounding snow.
After observing for a bit, he pitches in. Kristin is busy building up a snow wall to block the wind and aid in camouflage.
Once finished, Kristin volunteers for first watch "since I got some extra sleep last night." Tim opts for second watch, asking that Kristin wake him up about 90 minutes earlier than when he's supposed to start watch.
The three also agree on radio silence, but continue to listen for any word from team two.
Before Tim gets settled in, he makes hot chocolate for everyone and makes sure Kristin gets some. He adds, "Don't let me sleep if you hear me whimpering or something. It's probably that same old dream about coming to work with no ammunition (how embarrassing!)"
All are appreciative of the warm drink. The food, however, is another story. "Meals Rejected by Everyone. Yum," Kristin mutters with a scowl.
Kristin and Sue begin discussing music. Tim bows out, fluffing his arctic parka for a pillow and once again slips into the great dark.
Once Tim is sound asleep, Sue asks the question which his dream comment had reminded her. Quietly, "Kristin, who is Rose?"
Jones looks a little confused until she hears, "Well, you were tossing and turning last night..."
Quickly, Kristin recovers. "It's nothing. I don't really remember my dreams... Sorry I bothered you." It's obvious that she doesn't really want to talk about it.
She then goes outside to begin her watch, and gives herself a hug against the chill. "Damn it's cold out here!"
Before too long in her watch, Kristin attempts contact with her agency. No sound at all can be heard over the satellite phone gear. Believing the storm is causing interference, she gives the device a shake anyway. It rattles unnaturally, and two frayed wires become visible through a crack in its casing. The radio must have been damaged by Tim's 'trip' down the hole!
Fear grips her momentarily, before she remembers Sue's handiwork at disabling the plane's rescue beacon. She heads back to the tent to wake her, hoping that she can make repairs.
Inside the tent, Sue had not yet dozed off; she is finishing her routine of nightly stretches. Kristin fills her in; the other takes the phone and pulls over her toolkit.
Sue is unable to work with her gloves on, and when she takes them off Kristin notices both her hands are discoloured, unnaturally tinged blue and purple. Even with her gloves off, the fine detail of the work is beyond her. She then removes what looks like a woodchip from a small plastic bag, squeezes it in one hand, and rubs it between the palms of her hands.
After fifteen minutes, Sue is in shape to work. An hour later she has the radio 'fixed', although she explains what she had to do. Apparently, the radio reception circuitry was damaged. As luck would have it, Jack has set up a homing beacon, complete with repeater, somewhere outside Whiteout. She was able to piggyback on his carrier signal and uplink into the satellite phone network.
The remainder of Kristin's watch is uneventful.
When Timothy is awakened, he asks Kristin about her snow walking trick. "Is this a martial arts discipline or what? If so, I practice Aikido, myself, and was wondering if you would mind me checking out the dojo where you study (or studied)."
Jones smiles to herself, and says, "I watched a lot of Kung Fu when I was a kid. Didn't you? Anyway, yes, it has to do with the training I've had. I practice Kumango Pentjak-Silat."
"Sorry, not too familiar with that. I'll look it up when I get back to the states."
"It's Indonesian, and was developed on loose, unsteady ground. That 'trick' unfortunately, took several years to learn (and several more years to even get to learn it), and the Master who taught it to me is no longer teaching."
"I'm probably not willing devote that much time. Tough to get several years off , even with workers' comp and a nice faked injury."
Tim continues, "Also, I'm interested in any other useful, out-of-the-ordinary skills you may have. I think I've shown that I can keep a secret. Also, I'm a pretty careful planner and I've only gotten as far as I have by knowing everything about a situation I'm in, including my allies' capabilities, and then eliminating variables.
Kristin looks to one side thoughtfully. "Out of the ordinary? Just the usual sneaky, quiet, go-thru-locks-and-up-ropes kinda stuff."
"That's pretty normal. In this crowd, at least."
"I prefer pistols and hand-to-hand, but I've used submachine guns and shotguns... drive motorcycles and cars, but not planes or boats..."
"Remember, planes are easy to get off the ground, tough to get back (in one piece). Just bring parachutes."
Kristin finishes with, "and maybe a little sabotage, evidence creation/disposal... that kinda stuff."
"Thanks for the run-down; I know I'm asking a lot. If there's anything you want to know about me, I'll be glad to tell you (with due modesty, of course). I just want to foster an environment of trust an openness. And get out of this alive, of course."
Before Kristin beds down for the night, she relays what Sue had said about the communications gear. Tim ducks out into the snow, as Kristin somewhat reluctantly settles into the prewarmed man scented bag.
Within a mile from Atlantis II, Sue and Kristin huddle in their sleeping bags while Timothy stands watch. He checks in with his contacts back home then scans the base for movement, trying to establish their routine.