Horror and Thriller Science Fiction posted January 10, 2018

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Two men on a mission deep into enemy territory

The Snow Kingdom Chapter 9 pt 2

by rtobaygo

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
SNOW KINGDOM SYNOPSIS:  Two soldiers from the United Northern Alliance, Colonel Castille Tasca and Master Sergeant Rambika Maseru, have undertaken a clandestine mission deep into Snow Kingdom territory to test a new agent designed to kill coca plants the source of the Snow Kingdom’s cocaine, the very foundation of its power and wealth. 
DBS: acronym for Drop and Bury Site
HK: acronym for Hunter-Killers
“Thanks for positive spin, sir.  Any more cheer you’d care to share?”
“Tasca, grinned.  “Yes, Sergeant.  Two factors you may like.”
“And they are, sir?”
“They may have underestimated our ability to survive the dangers we’ve mentioned.  Couple this with the new supplies and ordinance we’ll have at the DBS, it could provide an advantage they won’t expect.”
            “Possibly, Colonel, but we destroyed four HK’s and nine stalkers.  If anything, they’ll see us as a priority one threat and act to neutralize it.”
“Valid point, Sergeant, but only time will tell.  All right, enough Goddamn speculation . . . we have more important things to worry about.”
“True, sir.  I don’t mean to bust your bubble . . . but what about the Scavs?”
            Tasca let out a deep sigh.  He had no illusions about the relentless savagery they’d face once the Scavengers attacked in full force.  “They’ll be a problem, Sergeant, but one we can handle.  Nearly four years before we were attached at the hip, I was a young Second Lieutenant sent to this area to extract two negotiation teams.  Their objective was simple; recruit certain Worlar and T’ming sub-clans to work for the Alliance.  A Skipjack brought my squad in after nightfall to hook up with the first team, Orion one.  We were taken to the Northern Worlar Clan’s camp, where the talks were successful.  We continued west into T’Ming territory, but they refused to ally themselves with us due to periodic shipments of snow and ordinance from the Kingdom.  By the time we reached Orion Two, the T’Ming had killed and eaten three team members, but not before torturing them.  We, and what remained of Orion Two, made a fighting retreat into Worlar territory, losing two more good men in the process.  Aside from a few recon team missions sent into T’Ming territory over the years, it was the last sanctioned contact we had with them.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, sir.  Then it’s fortunate our mission keeps us east of their territory, yet I feel there’s a but coming.”
“Ahh, perceptive to a fault, Sergeant.” Tasca’s voice was heavy with fatigue. “Certain Worlar sub-clans remained loyal to the Alliance until the construction of two small Kingdom Trading Complexes in the northern and western regions of the Atacama, just two years after my first mission.  The Pegasus team I handpicked to observe the developing situation, reported passive hostility towards them due to the snow the Worlar received from the Kingdom.  When it came time for extraction we found four bodies at the site, with what remained of the team under attack.  Fortunately, we left no one behind.”
            Maseru looked at Tasca and shook his head.  “And there’s been no contact since then, yet the site’s located in the Latal Gorge, inside Worlar territory, right?”
            Tasca grinned.  “Yeah, it does seem rather odd, doesn’t it, but it’s the most direct route to the Dune Sea where the Worlar refuse to enter.  The sea should provide adequate cover until we reach the Spines.  All right, time for my beauty sleep.  Wake me at the first sign of anything irregular.”  He stared into the Sergeant’s eyes, then his timepiece.  “It’s eighteen thirty.  Rouse me a twenty-two hundred sharp.  Questions, Sergeant?”
“Yeah, one, sir; your definition of irregular?”
            “Anything approaching our position.  Remember, out here size doesn’t equate lethality.  Take every threat seriously, no matter how insignificant it appears.  If you don’t it could make for a long, Goddamn night.”  
            “Understood, Colonel.  As of eighteen thirty, there’s no movement.  Whatever lives here is staying put for now.”
“And pray it stays that way.” Tasca looked out over the sand surrounding their position, then the faint pale-blue moon and realized this peaceful moment would not last, for the deeper they went into the night, the sooner they’d find what creatures called this slice of desert home.
“You’ll get no argument from, me.  I’ve double checked the scanner’s range.  Should we detect anything on the ground or above us, we’ll have sufficient time to assess the threat and react accordingly.” 
Tasca placed his hand on Maseru’s shoulder.  “All right, Sergeant, you’ll maintain a low profile.  I want you to be part of this rock, not something that might attract attention.”
“Yes, sir, low profile.  Enjoy the rest.  I’ll wake you at twenty-two hundred.”  Maseru followed Tasca to the depression.  Satisfied the Colonel’s position was secure, he moved to the right side of the outcropping and searched the area with his teledars.  After five minutes of seeing nothing but desert and black, star-filled sky, he climbed to the top, and having checked the scanner, made his way to the other side.  He continued this routine until it was time to wake Tasca.
            “Colonel." Maseru gently touched Tasca’s arm.  “It’s twenty-two hundred and the scanner shows clear.”
“What?  Oh, yes . . . my time to . . . watch.  All right, good.” Tasca’s voice was hoarse from sleep. “It’s your turn, Sergeant.”  Tasca rolled to his right and with some effort stood. 
Maseru gave a weary nod.  “I’m so Goddamned tired I could sleep on broken glass and not feel a thing.” 
“No doubt, Sergeant.  Now get some rest.  I’ll wake you at the zero two hundred.  Aside from being tired, how do you feel?”
“Ribs are fine, but my legs and shoulders are so Goddamned stiff and sore.  The only thing I can figure is it’s the amount of weight we’re humping.  Carrying forty-two kilos, over this distance, in this heat, is taking its toll.”
“I hear you, Sergeant.  If it will make you feel any better, my legs and shoulders feel the same way.  Now get some sleep and that’s direct order.”
Maseru nodded and watched Tasca climb over the top of the outcropping and disappear from sight.  He knew this would be easier said than done.  His mind and body craved sleep, yet the warrior’s instincts would fight to stay awake.  Fatigued to the point of numbness, he desperately tried to find a comfortable position.  He knew he must sleep, turn off the flow of questions seeking answers he couldn’t give.  He looked up at the full moon surrounded by the dark, glimmering sky and smiled.  Such beauty, so calm, so peaceful in all this hurt.  Damn, fucking shame it won’t last.  He lowered his head until it touched his rucksack.  He gave the night sky a final look and closed his eyes.

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