Journal Posts

Tag: rescue_mission

Chapter Five: Oct 18 - Nov 24 - Onto the Ice, Part Two
The expedition's journey south continued, and on the 8th of November the pack ice had closed in. The Gabrielle was stuck. "There's only one option open to us now," Starkweather said as the expedition's senior members met with Captain Vredenburgh, "dynamite. We will place charges, and break the ice." With their plan of action settled, Dr. William Scott Tyson accompanied Starkweather onto the ice. Explosive charges were carefully placed, and with an imposssibly loud roar and sprays of ice and mist, the pack broke up. The process was repeated half a dozen times over the next two days, but in the end the clear ocean lay ahead. On the 14th, the Admiralty Range came into view and Ross Island was sighted. The smoke billowing from Mount Erebus hung like a plume over the Ross Sea as the ship steamed ahead. That afternoon, the Gabrielle set anchor and the expedition had landed in Antarctica.

The Gabrielle's cargo hatches were opened and the great wooden ramp was lowered. The ship's cranes were deployed, and the Starkweather-Moore expedition began to unload its gear. The crew and the expedition team worked in 6-hour shifts, and less than a day later all of their gear and supplies had been unloaded. Evvy and Jeeves helped get the tractors unpacked and running until the planes were unloaded, at which point the young adventuress began to work side-by-side with Patrick Miles and Lawrence Longfellow to get the aircraft assembled and ready to fly. Tyson helped with the dog sleds, getting freight hauled at first and then taking off with Snabjorn and Fiskarson to scout for a permanent camp off the Ross Ice Shelf. Samuel and Stacey helped direct the flow of traffic and get gear stowed, while Nikifor and James did much the same after failing to much aid in setting up the radio tower. Buernor was a workhorse, hauling out twice as much save the big Bolivian camp worker Hidalgo Cruz.

Unloading the Gabrielle.

As the ship had been unloaded, the captain pulled her back out to the Ross Sea for safety. Plans needed to be made to move to a permanent base camp, and soon. "Less than a month from now," Professor Moore informed the group, "this ice shelf will be gone. We need to get settled soon." The work thus far had been hard, and adjusting to the ice difficult. Sameuel took a hard fall on the ice and ended up with a broken nose. Careful eye had to be kept out for signs of frostbite, and no one was allowed to work up a great sweat lest they cool suddenly and risk hypothermia. They had visitors too, as the local penguins took great interest in what was happening. But things seemed to be off to a good start. Evvy, Douglas Halperin, and Ralph DeWitt took to the air as soon as they could, and a new base camp site nearly 40 miles inland was soon found.

The expedition had found an audience from among the locals.

On the 18th, disaster struck. The ice shelf had begun to break up early and a large crack had started not more than 200 yards from the expedition's camp. With all due haste the expedition began to move. The planes were kept flying non-stop, the dog sleds were running tirelessly, and the camp crew and expedition members hauled frieght by tractor and by hand for hours on end. The cracks grew and began to spread. Jeeves lost a pallet of aviation fuel as a crack spread beneath the tractor he was running, but the ever-competent Englisman managed to prevent the machine from following the drums into the deep. Nearly half the fuel for the expeditons aeroplanes was gone, but by the 19th the camp had been successfully moved inland. The rest of the day was impossible to work in, as the wind and blowing snow created whiteout conditions.

Early on the 20th, the alarm bell on the camp's radio sounded. It was a mayday from none other than the Lexington Expedition! They had arrived on the ice four days earlier, and their camp was about eight miles north. A panicked voice could be heard over the wireless. ". . . Help! If you can hear me, land a party at once! The camp is under attack! This is Tony Hopewell calling Tallahassee. Mac, can you hear me? They 're -" The voice stopped, punctuated by two sharp reports like gunshots. A moment later the carrier faded, leaving only static. A low rumble, like thunder, could be heard coming from the ice to the north moments later. Something had exploded.

Base camp had been established.

With all due haste, a rescue party was put together. Starkweather could not pass up the opportunity to play the hero, and he led the members of the party, Sykes, Snabjorn, and Pulaski north on dog sleds and skis. It took two hours to cross the eight-mile stretch of broken ice, and by the time they was all over. All could see the Lexington camp's generator had exploded, and their main building was scorched and burned in places. Ash lay across a few of the tents, and several members of the expedition could be seen tending to the clean-up. Acacia Lexington spotted James Starkweather, and the two exchanged a few curt words before meeting in the main building. The rest of the camp could hear their heated exchange of shouts, insults, and blame on and off for the next two hours.

Despite the tension, the party members helped out as best they could. James O'Neil spoke with Kurt Jenner, the team's electrician, as he he hauled debris. The Lexington Expedtion had been beset by sabotage and strange events too, it seemed. Half their provisons had spoiled in the freezer aboard ship, and an electrical storm knocked out their power for a day or two at sea. Evvy spoke briefly with pilot Charles Wright and mechanic Robert Marklin, finding both somewhat unfriendly. Wright seemed to warm up to her, though he was obviously protective of Acacia. Tyson and Samuel spoke with Dr. Curtis Anthony, who was tending to Albert Prietly, the senior cameraman, and two other expedition members, Bradbury and Dinsdale. Both had snapped, emerging from their tents in the perpetual daylight screaming about spiders. They took a few shots at the camp, then set fire to the generator shack. Both were subdued without further harm, apart from Preistly taking a grazing shot to the face as he slept and one other, Tony Hopewell, catching a slug across his arm. Dinsdale couldn't explain why he had gone mad, and now seemed calm and remorseful. "We saw giant spiders everywhere," he said. "And knew we had to burn them out. I don't know what we were thinking." With naught else to do, and with Starkweather ready to storm off and leave "that damnable woman to fend for herself," the expedition headed back to camp.

The rescue party left as soon as possible, but arrived to late to be any big help much to Starkweather's chagrin.

Professor Moore would not leave it at that however, and on the next day made radio contact with Lexington's ship, the Talahassee, and eventually the woman herself. A meeting was arranged, and she and Priestly arrived later that day. A sit-down over tea was arranged, and despite uncivil words on both Acaica and Starkweather's parts, a deal was reached. Both camps would combine resources, enabling a longer stay. Acacia and her crew would film Lake's camp and the Miskatonic Mountains while the Starkweather-Moore Expedition would do scientific reasearch. As it was the 23rd, an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner was arranged, and the tractors were used to create a flat hightway between the camps. On the next day, the 24th of November, the planes were fueled up and ready to fly - Lake's camp had been found.
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