Friday, January 25, 2019
Deception Point Page 52
Only fifteen feet away, Gabrielle Ashe stood in the shadows, rigid. From the den came the harmonious gaol of crystal snifters and the crackle of the fire.58In a panic, the young NASA technician scud done the habisphere. Something terrible has happened He found Administrator Ekstrom al maven next the press area.Sir, the technician gasped, running up. Theres been an accidentEkstrom turned, looking distant, as if his estimates were already deep troubled with other matters. What did you say? An accident? Where?In the extraction pit. A luggage com recessment just floated up. Dr. Wailee Ming.Ekstroms face was blank. Dr. Ming? But We pulled him kayoed, but it was too late. Hes dead.For Christs sake. How broad has he been in there?We think about an hour. It looks alike he fell in, sank to the bottom, but when his body bloated, he floated up again.Ekstroms reddish fight turned crimson. Goddamn it Who else knows about this?Nobody, sir. Only two of us. We fished him out, but we scen e we better tell you before-You did the right thing. Ekstrom exhaled a weighty sigh. Stow Dr. Mings body immediately. Say nonhing.The technician felt perplexed. But, sir, I-Ekstrom put a large hand on the mans shoulder. Listen to me carefully. This is a tragic accident, one I deeply regret. Of descent I will deal with it appropriately when the time comes. Now, however, is non the time.You indispensableness me to hide his body?Ekstroms cold Nordic eyes bore cut back. recollect about it. We could tell everyone, but what would that accomplish? Were about an hour send off from this press conference. Announcing that weve had a fatal accident would overshadow the discovery and consider a devastating effect on morale. Dr. Ming made a casual mistake I have no intention of qualification NASA endure for it. These civilian scientists have taken sufficient of the spotlight without my letting one of their slipshod errors cast a shadow over our public event of glory. Dr. Mings accid ent remains a secret until after the press conference. Do you understand?The man nodded, pale. Ill stow his body.59Michael Tolland had been at sea enough times to know the ocean took victims without remorse or hesitation. As he perplex in exhaustion on the expansive sheet of ice, he could just make out the ghostly outline of the towering Milne codswallop Shelf receding in the distance. He knew the powerful Arctic period flowing off the Elizabethan Islands spiraled in an enormous loop nigh the polar ice cap and would eventually skirt land in northern Russia. Not that it mattered. That would be months from now.Weve got maybe thirty minutes xlv at the most.Without the protective insulation of their jelly- modify suits, Tolland knew they would be dead already. Thankfully, the Mark IXs had unploughed them dry-the most critical aspect of surviving cold weather. The thermal gel around their bodies had not only cushioned their fall, but it was now fate their bodies retain what little heat they had left(a).Soon hypothermia would set in. It would start with a vague numbness in limbs as the blood retreated to the bodys means to protect the critical internal organs. Delirious hallucinations would come next, as the meter and respiration slowed, cheating the brain of oxygen. Then, the body would make a closing effort to conserve its remaining heat by shutting down all operations except the gist and respiration. Unconsciousness would follow. In the end, heart and respiration centers in the brain would stop functioning altogether.Tolland turned his esteem toward Rachel, wishing he could do something to save her.The numbness spreading through Rachel Sextons body was less painful than she would have imagined. Almost a incur anesthetic. Natures morphine. She had lost her goggles in the collapse, and she could barely open her eyes against the cold.She could analyse Tolland and Corky on the ice nearby. Tolland was looking at her, eyes filled with regret. Corky was m oving but manifestly in pain. His right malar was smashed and bloody.Rachels body trembled wildly as her mind searched for answers. Who? Why? Her thoughts were befogged by a growing heaviness inside her. Nothing was qualification sense. She felt like her body was slowly shutting down, lulled by an occult force pulling her to sleep. She fought it. A fiery anger ignited inwardly her now, and she tried to fan the flames.They tried to kill us She peered out at the threatening sea and sensed their attackers had succeeded. Were already dead. Even now, knowing she would in all probability not live to learn the whole truth about the deucedly game being played out on the Milne Ice Shelf, Rachel suspect she already knew who to blame.Administrator Ekstrom had the most to gain. He was the one who sent them out on the ice. He had ties to the Pentagon and Special Ops. But what did Ekstrom have to gain by inserting the meteorite beneath the ice? What did anyone have to gain?Rachel flashed o n Zach Herney, wondering if the president was a coconspirator or an unknowing pawn? Herney knows nothing. Hes innocent. The President obviously had been duped by NASA. Now Herney was only about an hour away from making NASAs announcement. And he would do so armed with a video accusative containing endorsements from four civilian scientists.Four dead civilian scientists.Rachel could do nothing to stop the press conference now, but she vowed that whoever was responsible for this attack would not get away with it.Summoning her strength, Rachel tried to sit up. Her limbs felt like granite, all her joints screaming in pain as she bent her legs and arms. Slowly, she pulled herself to her knees, calm herself on the flat ice. Her head spun. All around her the ocean churned. Tolland lay nearby, gazing up at her with inquisitive eyes. Rachel sensed he probably thought she was kneeling in prayer. She was not, of course, although prayer probably had as good a chance of saving them as what sh e was about to attempt.Rachels right hand fumbled across her waist and found the ice ax still bungeed to her belt. Her stiff fingers gripped the handle. She upside-down the ax, positioning it like an upside down T. Then, with all her energy, she drove the shadower downward into the ice. Thud. Again. Thud. The blood felt like cold molasses in her veins. Thud. Tolland looked on in obvious confusion. Rachel drove the ax down again. Thud.Tolland tried to bristle himself onto his elbow. Ra chel?She did not answer. She needed all her energy. Thud. Thud.I dont think, Tolland said, this cold north that the SAA could hear Rachel turned, surprised. She had forgotten Tolland was an oceanographer and might have some mentation what she was up to. Right idea but Im not calling the SAA.She unploughed pounding.The SAA stood for a Suboceanic Acoustic Array, a relic of the Cold struggle now used by oceanographers worldwide to listen for whales. Because underwater sounds carried for hundreds of miles, the SAA lucre of fifty-nine underwater microphones around the world could listen to a astonishingly large percentage of the planets oceans. Unfortunately, this remote section of the Arctic was not part of that percentage, but Rachel knew there were others out there listening to the ocean floor-others that fewer on earth knew existed. She kept pounding. Her message was simple and clear. ball. THUD. THUD.THUD THUD THUDTHUD. THUD. THUD.Rachel had no delusions that her actions would save their lives she could already feel a raffish tightness gripping her body. She doubted she had a half hour of life left in her. Rescue was beyond the realm of possibility now. But this was not about rescue.