Ice rift, p.1

Ice Rift, page 1

 

Ice Rift
 



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Ice Rift


  PROLOGUE 1

  Planet DX666 - The Distant Past

  PROLOGUE 2

  The Arctic - 1999

  PROLOUGE 3

  Pine Glacier Ice Shelf - 2013

  ICE RIFT - 2015

  CHAPTER 1

  Betrayed

  CHAPTER 2

  Antarctica

  CHAPTER 3

  Descent

  CHAPTER 4

  Unexpected Visitors

  CHAPTER 5

  The Anomaly

  CHAPTER 6

  Hell's Garden

  CHAPTER 7

  Flee from Paradise

  CHAPTER 8

  Food

  CHAPTER 9

  Alien Landscape

  CHAPTER 10

  Tombs

  CHAPTER 11

  The Pilot

  CHAPTER 12

  The Dormitory

  CHAPTER 13

  Lucifer

  CHAPTER 14

  They are Coming, RUN!

  CHAPTER 15

  Different Paths

  CHAPTER 16

  Escape

  CHAPTER 17

  Basecamp Monster

  CHAPTER 18

  Return to the ship

  CHAPTER 19

  Adrift

  EPILOGUE

  Going Home

  OTHER BOOKS BY AUTHOR

  ICE RIFT

  Ben Hammott

  ISBN 10: 97809562369

  ISBN 13: 9780956236982

  Copyright 2016 ©Ben Hammott. All rights reserved

  No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any other information storage and retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the copyright holders.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Author can be contacted at: benhammott@gmail.com

  www.benhammottbooks.com

  Though I have had this book professionally proofread and edited, mistakes do occasionally slip by. If you notice any grammar or spelling errors, I would appreciate it immensely if you would contact me to let me know so I can correct the error. I can be contacted at benhammott@gmail.com

  Acknowledgments

  I would like to thank the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team for their help in providing information about the Antarctic ice rift in the Pine Island Glacier and everyone who advised me on the extreme weather conditions and dangers experienced while traversing the remote areas of Antarctica. Any mistakes or liberties taken with this information are my own.

  NOTE FROM AUTHOR

  I had always wanted to set a book in the remote wastes of Antarctica, so when I learnt of a huge ice rift that would eventually set free an iceberg the size of Manhattan, it gave me an idea for a book.

  The result is my homage to films like Alien and The Thing and authors I admire, which includes Matthew Riley, Michael Crichton and Clive Cussler.

  I hope you find Ice Rift and exciting an enjoyable read.

  I welcome your feedback and reviews, good and bad, as it helps me to improve my writing.

  If you would like to be added to my mailing list to receive notifications of my new books, receive limited free advance review copies and the occasional free book, send feedback or just to drop me a line, please contact me at: benhammott@gmail.com

  Your details will not be shared with anyone and can be removed at any time by contacting me via the above email address requesting your removal.

  Details of all my books can be found at benhammottbooks.com

  If you have any questions or comments about this book, or any of my other publications, please contact me at benhammott@gmail.com

  As always, thank you for your continued support.

  Ben Hammott

  Planet DX666 - The Distant Past

  THE DRONE OF THE small night creatures flitting through the air and the distant howls, screeches and wails that sounded like spectral bloodhounds on the scent of prey, announced the waking of the planet's nocturnal predators. Of all the different species that dwelled on DX666, none was more feared than the female who dwelt in the mountain. Though in part this was due to her vicious nature, what made her such a feared and expert hunter was her extraordinary ability to be able to mimic the sound and form of any animal she heard or encountered. The Mimic wielded her gift with exacting, murderous intent to draw her victims close enough to kill. Another trick she utilized was changing her skin to imitate the surroundings, whether it was rock or foliage, making her practically invisible, and then luring a victim into her trap with the call of a wounded animal. She rarely failed to ensnare a victim.

  A young six limbed goat-like creature, which had yet to learn of this menace, leapt sure-footedly from rock to rock and paused to stare into the cave entrance filled with such a foreboding darkness it almost had substance. However, failing to recognize its brief life was about to end, the unsuspecting animal flicked its eyes over to the enticing bush adorned with blue berries and succulent orange leaves growing a small distance from the entrance. It bounced over to the bush and bit off a fruit laden twig.

  The distant scrape of claws on rock from inside the cave signalled the approach of the feared mountain creature. Unaware of the impending danger, the animal continued feasting on the tasty foliage. Two red eyes appeared amidst the tangible gloom shrouding the cave entrance and focused on the animal. The Mimic changed its appearance and oozed from the cave like an invisible, pestilent shadow that crawled from one world to the next to spread putrid blight and savage death.

  The animal squealed when the claws of death crept over its body and cloaked it in pain. Within a moment the animal was no more. Its killer had devoured everything except its bones, which collapsed into a lifeless heap. The thing of indistinct form, neither man nor beast, rose from the ground and morphed into a creature that nightmares would be hesitant to welcome.

  The Mimic gazed up at the bright fireball streaking through the night sky. At first, her interest assigned it little consideration; there had been many similar occurrences before. It was only another rock falling from the heavens. Though she'd often wondered where they came from and what beast was powerful enough to throw them such a distance, they posed no threat and were thus ignored. She was about to direct her gaze elsewhere when something unusual happened; the sky-fire changed direction. With renewed interest she observed the glowing disc of flame shooting through the obsidian sky.

  The object turned in a wide arc, straightened out and then veered toward the mountain that housed the Mimic's lair. When the sky-fire became lost from its sight, the Mimic sought out a higher view point. She clambered up the rocky mountain and perched atop a large boulder. Her eyes focused on the strange object that no longer glowed, skimming above the forest canopy. The leaf-burdened boughs creaked in protest from the wash of the object that grasped leaves and twigs from their branches and carried them in its wake. Frightened shrieks from disturbed tree-dwelling beasts accompanied its passing. The frantic sound of the rustling foliage grew louder as the object approached and rose to follow the contour of the steep mountain in its path.

  Though the Mimic was wary, she experienced no fear as she observed the underside of the object when it sped overhead. The lights peppering its base reflected in the Mimic's red eyes when she turned to follow its path over the mountain. So fascinated by the extraordinary object was the Mimic, she barely noticed the storm of debris that washed over her. She had spotted something inside the strange thing from the sky
something alive!

  The Mimic momentarily pondered what she had witnessed. She knew it didn't originate from her home world and was something she had not laid eyes on before. Curiosity caused the Mimic to postpone her hunt until she had investigated the new arrival. She bounded across the rocks and disappeared over the mountain.

  Unaware his arrival had been witnessed by a dangerous intelligent life-form, the pilot of the small spacecraft that had so fascinated the Mimic, glanced at the control console. A relieved smile formed on his lips at the lack of any warning lights; evidence the ship had survived the tremulous entry through the planet's atmosphere undamaged― again. It was the part he hated most about these missions. The creaks, groans and rattles of protest the aged vessel emitted during every stressful arrival on a new planet were a constant reminder of the hard and hectic life the old ship had endured. Each entry could be its last, killing all those on board.

  The pilot gazed out of the control room's viewing ports at the dark landscape speeding past below the ship. The red glow of molten rock, flames and hot ash spewing from the crowns of distant angry volcanoes lit up the night sky. It was this volcanic activity, spread across half the planet that made this world unsuitable for their purpose. However, long range scans from the base ship currently orbiting the planet had detected something of use and the reason for their visit to the planet they had named DX666.

  In the shuttle craft's forward lights the pilot glimpsed flashes of the greens, reds and browns of the verdant forest that covered a huge area of the planet's surface and the home of the thing he sought. He switched on the spacecraft's landing lights and searched for a suitable place to set down. He spied a clearing in the forest and pointed it out to the co-pilot who sat a short distance away. “Put us down there and tell the crew to prepare for the hunt.” He climbed out of his seat and strode from the room.

  The Mimic paused on the tip of a rock outcrop that stretched precariously out over a sheer drop, and watched the flying object swoop down like a giant graceful bird. For a few moments it hung in the air above a clearing in the forest before it slowly descended to the ground, raising a cloud of dust and forest debris.

  Keen to examine the unexpected anomaly closer, the Mimic dived into the void and plummeted toward the ground. Her stretched out arms morphed into wings and like a hell spawned angel, she glided through the air in a gentle curve to the forest far below. She dipped through the canopy and weaved a path between tall ancient trees. When she glimpsed the object ahead, she swooped up the length of a large tree trunk and landed softly on a branch. As soon as she landed the wings morphed back into arms. She moved aside a branch so she had a good view of the strange object and watched to see what would happen.

  Thundering footsteps accompanied the pilot's breath-heaving sprint through the thick undergrowth. He risked a glance behind. Though he heard the beast's roars and its noisy pursuit through the forest, he was thankful it was still far enough behind him to remain absent from his sight. He'd underestimated its speed and was forced to leave the forest track to prevent it from catching him. So far the plan seemed to be working. The limited gaps between the gnarled trunks of the ten yard thick tree trunks left little room for the gigantic beast to easily pass through.

  He raced across a clearing and glanced up at the orange glow of the dawn sky peeking through the canopy of impossibly tall trees. Large, eight-limbed creatures skulked menacingly along their boughs as they followed him. The tree creatures gave the pilot an idea― an opportunity to slow the beast further. Without halting his stride, he grabbed the small weapon from the holster fixed around his waist, aimed the lethal end at one of the tree creatures, fired and re-holstered the weapon. The small ball of light struck its target. As the dead animal crashed into branches during its fall, the pilot dodged around another of the large trees to find himself on the track again. He sprinted along it.

  The huge beast broke into the clearing its prey had recently vacated and snatched the falling creature from the air with massive jaws crowded with long, thick teeth. Bone crunched and blood sprayed when the animal was bitten in two. One gruesome, innards dripping piece was thrown into the air while it chewed and swallowed the portion in its mouth. The remaining remnant it plucked from the air was devoured just as swiftly. By the time it had crossed the clearing the devoured animal was already in the beast's large stomach, but there was plenty of room for more. It rushed onto the track, slammed into a tree, regained its balance and continued the hunt of its next meal. It rounded a curve in the track and stared at its food leaning against a tree.

  The pilot heard the rapidly approaching creature and casually waited for it to arrive. A nervous smile played on his lips when the beast bounded around the corner and looked straight at him. Though the beast seemed to be of low intelligence, it had surprised him before. He trusted his crew to have set up everything according to plan, but things had gone wrong before; two deaths were the result of that botched trap.

  The ground shook with each contact of the beast's six powerful legs when it rushed at him with bloodstained jaws wide open to let out a loud, rumbling growl. The beast was so large it was as if a mountain rushed at him. When it drew closer, the pilot saw his reflection in the beast's single, large eye set in the center of its massive head. A loud crack rang out. In the blink of an eye the beast was encased in netting that tightened to squeeze its limbs together and force its powerful jaws shut. It stumbled to the ground and pushed a wave of soil and forest debris before it when it slid toward the pilot. The pilot lifted a leg as the beast's head ground to a halt inches away and placed it on the beast's wide flat snout. He stared into the beast's eye that stared back at him. “You did well,” he commended the beast. “You nearly had me once or twice. Perhaps I am getting too old for this lark?” He grinned. “What do you think?”

  The beast growled angrily.

  “Why thank you. Yes, I do look younger than my years.” He looked up when two of his crew appeared. Sensing other creatures approaching, he stared into the gloomy forest, catching glimpses of things moving in the shadows. “Let's get this thing aboard the ship.”

  One of the crew walked around to the rear of the creature and picked up the length of cable attached to the netting that encased the beast. The other looked to his right and whistled. Almost immediately, a small craft, hovering a foot off the ground, appeared out of the forest driven by a small life-form at the control.

  The creature, a different species to the crew, glanced at the trapped beast and then at the pilot. “Another successful hunt, Master.”

  The pilot gazed at the hill-sized beast and smiled. “Yes, Haax, it's the biggest one we've caught so far. It should provide the crew with a welcome change from the usual diet we've endured for so long.”

  Haax reversed the hover close enough to the trapped beast to enable the cable to be hitched to the vehicle. The pilot and the two crewmen climbed aboard the hover.

  Haax glanced at the pilot sitting beside him. “To the ship, Master?” After receiving an affirmative nod, Haax moved the vehicle off along the track.

  The beast dragged along the ground behind, groaned.

  The pilot shook his head in dismay, tapped Haax on the shoulder and pointed a thumb back at their cargo. “Aren't you forgetting something?”

  Haax glanced behind at their payload. “Sorry, Master.” He pressed a button on the dashboard control panel. The beast rose a short distance off the ground. They headed off along the track weaving through the ancient forest.

  The Mimic had watched the four life-forms emerge from the flying object and head into the forest. Though it wondered why they were here, she hadn't followed them; they would return. She was interested in what they left behind. She glanced into the sky lit with dawn light and fading stars. Because they weren't from this world, she surmised there must be other planets. She would like to visit them. Her eyes wandered back to the object that could take her there. She waited for her chance to sneak inside.

  At the approach of th
e hover vehicle and crew, the large door at the back of the spacecraft rose and a ramp slid out.

  The Mimic saw her chance. She mimicked her surroundings and moved closer, her camouflage changing constantly to keep her invisible as she crept nearer. When the hover glided up the ramp with its huge cargo in tow, the Mimic leapt onto the beast's back and immediately imitated its skin colour and texture, as well as the netting that bound the beast.

  Haax pulled the hover to a stop and glanced behind to ensure the large beast was fully inside the ship. He pressed a button on the dash. The ramp retracted and the door closed. Another button lowered the hover and beast gently to the ground.

  The pilot and crew climbed off the vehicle.

  The pilot glanced at the beast and then at Haax. “Stow the creature ready for transport.”

  “Yes, Master.”

  The pilot and crew headed for a nearby door leading to the front of the cargo shuttle craft.

  Haax strolled around the beast; he'd never seen such a huge creature. He paused and placed a hand on its rising and falling chest and felt the rapid beat of its no doubt huge heart. When Haax moved to its head, the large eye turned in his direction. Haax smiled kindly. The beast growled angrily. Haax could understand the beast's anger. He too had been snatched from his home world and forced to serve others. The beast though would serve the crew differently― on platters in the dining room.

  Haax selected a weapon from a rack on the hull wall, pressed it against the beast's neck and pushed. The weapon hissed. The blue liquid filling the transparent cylinder flowed into the beast. A few moments later the beast's eye closed. Haax replaced the weapon in the rack and crossed to a nearby control panel. A press of a button activated two straps that snaked out from the floor and over the beast to secure it. Haax left the cargo bay.

  The Mimic gazed around its strange surroundings. She felt movement. Whatever this thing was it had entered, it was leaving the planet. She became visible, leapt from the beast and concealed herself in a corner while she waited to find out what would happen next.

 
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