by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Extinction Cycle Book 6.5
The war continues…
The European Unified Command calls on America's Team Ghost for a top secret mission. The residents of a small Inuit fishing village in Greenland have gone missing and reports of Variants unaffected by Kryptonite have surfaced.
Fatigued, injured, and unaware of the events back in the United States, Master Sergeant Joe Fitzpatrick leads Team Ghost into the remote and alien winter landscape to determine the fate of the missing villagers. But as the operation unfolds they discover a harrowing revelation that could impact the world war against the Variants, and the future of the human race.
Note: This story was originally published in the SNAFU: Black Ops anthology in December 2016.
Genre: SciFi Thriller
Content/Theme(s): Military, Genetic Mutants, Post-apocalyptic
Release Date: March 8, 2017
Excerpt & More
A dense snow fell on the team crossing the tarmac toward the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk chopper. Crew Chief Hector Webb zipped his parka up to his chin in an effort to keep out the chill. He hated the cold, especially in a place that kept getting colder. But unless the European Unified Forces—EUF—decided to nuke Greenland it was only going to get worse. Thankfully the trip to the island was a short one. The mission that had rerouted the USS Forest Sherman from the main European front would only take a couple of days.
Rubbing his gloved hands together, Webb watched Team Ghost moving as one across the deck of the destroyer. It was 0900 hours, but the sun was hiding in the blurry sky. The wind had picked up, sending walls of snow gusting across their path and covering their white fatigues in a blanket of white. The irony was striking, for a moment Team Ghost appeared as apparitions moving through the storm.
The leader, Master Sergeant Joe Fitzpatrick led the group with his German Shepherd trotting along at his side. Webb had heard the stories about the man and his dog single handily fighting thousands of Variants in New York City before Operation Extinction. There were countless tales of the two taking on formidable odds, but Webb’s favorite was the one where Fitz had killed the Bone Collector Alpha with his bare hands. Apollo was said to have eaten the monster’s heart.
Webb had his doubts, but if he was ever going to have a chance to ask, it would be on this flight. Perhaps he would even throw in a question about the legendary Captain Reed Beckham sending the dog to Europe with Fitzpatrick.
“Welcome aboard, Master Sergeant,” Webb said.
Fitz nodded and climbed into the troop hold with his M4 and MK11. The gum-chewing female member of Team Ghost blew a bubble as she jumped inside. Rico tucked a frosted strand of pink hair under her stocking cap and helmet. Sergeant Hugh Stevenson climbed in next, a skull bandana around his throat—he cradled his M249 SAW. Staff Sergeant Blake Tanaka was the next one in. Webb checked the Katana long blade and the companion Wakizashi short blade strapped to Tanaka’s back.
Damn, they are real.
He’d heard Tanaka had killed over a hundred Variants with them.
The others all carried silenced M4s, including Specialist Yas Dohi, who spat a licorice root out into the snow then pulled himself inside.
None of them said a word as they sat. Team Ghost was a diverse crew that was for sure; from their weapons to their nationalities.
Webb closed the door to seal out the cold then strapped in. He still couldn’t believe he was about to embark on a mission with Team Ghost. Just seeing them here gave him chills. Tanaka, the short Japanese-American soldier with tree trunk legs and a shaved head twisted to adjust the strap of his blades. Dohi reached for another piece of licorice from his vest, and Rico pulled out a journal.
“You ready to rock it, Ghost?” asked the pilot, Ted ‘Tito’ Bones. He turned from the cockpit, scratching at his chinstrap beard with a grin.
Fitz gave a sluggish thumbs up and winced. That’s when Webb noticed the bloodstain on the man’s left shoulder. He wasn’t the only injured one. Dohi, the Navajo tracker with jet-black hair and a silver goatee had a special chest brace.
Webb studied the other members of Ghost. Stevenson, the muscular African American man dipped his freshly-shaved face and closed his eyes. Rico wrote in her journal quietly. Tanaka put his ear buds in and drew in a breath. Dohi began tracing a finger around the bone handle of his knife.
They all looked exhausted.
“How long you been back from France?” Webb asked.
Fitz swiped a strand of red hair under his helmet. “Twenty hours.”
Webb nodded because he didn’t know what else to say. He had heard they’d hardly made it back from a mission to gather intel in France—intel that was vital to the next stage of the war—Operation Reach. Now Colonel Bradley was sending Ghost on another mission into enemy territory.
Several heads turned to the windows. Outside, a team of Marines boarded an adjacent Black Hawk. Another squad climbed into a third chopper. They were heading to Greenland with Team Ghost, but Webb wasn’t sure exactly where the target was. His job was simply to man the door gun and assist with the flight, and he was glad for that, not just because of the cold, but because of the rumors about what dwelled on the world’s largest island.
“ETA to target is about two hours,” Tito said. “Depending on the storm. Sit tight, Ghost.”
The rotors fired and made their first pass above, and Webb held his questions for later. He glanced out the window as the bird pulled into the sky. It only took a few minutes for the USS Forest Sherman to vanish on the horizon.
“All right, listen up everyone,” Fitz said.
Tanaka pulled out his earbuds and Rico closed her journal.
“There’s a reason Colonel Bradley sent us six hundred miles west of the European front, and that reason is Greenland…” Fitz hesitated as the chopper hit a stream of turbulence. The bulkheads rattled and he waited for it to pass.
“Got us some mean looking skies,” Tito said. “Better hold on to your breakfast.”
The bird vibrated, jerked, and then steadied out. Webb eyed the fort of clouds they were headed for. The other two Black Hawks were about to enter the storm. One by one, the wall swallowed the choppers.
Fitz waited another second before continuing.
“Here’s a timeline of events. VX9H9 was deployed over Greenland not long after the outbreak so about six or seven months ago. Kryptonite was deployed two months ago. The surviving government and military reached out to General Nixon about a week ago stating the weapons have worked well in most areas…”
“Except the one we are going to,” Stevenson said, shaking his head.
“Correct…” Fitz pulled out a laminated map and held it up for his team to see. “But our mission isn’t to determine why.” He paused again and scratched at the stubble on his jaw like he didn’t want to say what came next.
“Anyone ever heard of the German fortress Hitler was supposed to escape to in Antarctica?” he finally asked.
Rico chuckled. “Sure. The US supposedly launched Operation Highjump there. Story goes they sent ground and air forces to fight the Nazis at their base in the Queen Maud Land of Antarctica. The Germans were said to have UFOs and all sorts of—”
“That shit wasn’t real, Rico,” Stevenson interrupted.
Fitz directed his gaze at Rico and then Stevenson, silencing them quickly.
“Stevenson is right about Antarctica, but what I was getting to is that there was a Nazi base in Greenland not far from this Inuit fishing village,” Fitz said. He pointed at the map and Rico sheepishly raised her hand.
Fitz dipped his chin at her.
“I thought the Nazis only had a weather station in Greenland.”
“That’s what everyone thought, until now.”
Dohi pulled his knife and twirled it nimbly despite the rattle of turbulence. If anyone else was doing it, Webb might have told them to stop.
“Nazis? UFOs? What the hell are you guys talking about?” Stevenson asked. “I mean, seriously, what the fuck?”
Rico ignored him and directed her attention to the leader of Team Ghost. “Do you think that base has something to do with Kryptonite not working on the Variants there?”
Fitz folded the map in half, and then into a quarter to examine it closely. “That’s what we’re going to find out,” he said. “The government retrofitted the base into a lab and were working on a bioweapon of their own to kill the juveniles.”
“I don’t suppose these ‘rebels’ are going to help us, either, are they?” Tanaka said. “Not that I’m complaining. Just saying. The EUF wasn’t there for Operation Beachhead either.”
Fitz gave a reply with a quick shake of his head.
“What about the locals?” Rico asked. “Are there any still alive? Perhaps they could give us some intel if there are any out there.”
“Maybe if any of them are still alive,” Fitz replied. He went back to studying the map as turbulence rattled the chopper. Webb used the time to check the sky. He still couldn’t see the other Black Hawks.
“Our orders are to find and infiltrate the facility and destroy whatever weapon they were working on,” Fitz continued. “When we’re finished, we’re ordered to destroy the old Nazi facility.”
“And I don’t suppose you know what this weapon does, do you?” Dohi asked.
Fitz pulled a small handheld recorder from his rucksack and held it up. “This tape is the only real intel I have. It came from a joint mission between the Greenland military and the EUF. Most of it’s in English.”
Every member of Team Ghost moved closer to Fitz, even Apollo, who sat on his haunches. Webb unclipped his harness so he could hear.
Fitz clicked the play button.
Background noise, hardly audible over the whoosh of the helicopter blades, broke from the tiny speakers. A voice cracked through a moment later.
“Command, we have found the tunnel to the facility, permission to enter.”
“Copy that, Eagle 1, green light.”
A few seconds of static passed, followed by a panicked voice. “We’re entering the labs. Something happened here… something awful. There are bones and some sort of…”
More static, then the same frightened voice.
“There’s something here, Command.”
There was gunfire from multiple rifles.
“Lee is gone!” someone else said. “Shit they got Galan, too!”
Webb shuddered at the piercing hiss and shriek that followed.
“Eagle 1, do you copy?”
“Wolf 1, do you copy?”
“Snake 1, do you copy?”
“Command, Snake 1, we’re cut off from the other teams… we have multiple contacts… What the hell is that thing!”
“Take it down, Bray!” someone shouted.
Another flurry of gunshots sounded. What came next made Webb swallow hard. The high-pitched shriek almost sounded human.
The tape cut off, and silence filled the troop hold.
Fitz lowered the recorder and scanned his team. Their faces were stone cold, but Webb could feel his own eyes widen from shock.
“That was the last anyone heard from the strike teams,” Fitz said.
“How many were there?” Stevenson asked.
“Three teams. About thirty men. Not a single one made it out.”
Stevenson made a low whistle.
“Damn,” Tanaka added. “So that’s it? They didn’t send in any more teams to figure out what the hell is down there?”
“They don’t have any to spare,” Fitz replied.
Stevenson shook his head. “Of course not. Just like the EUF couldn’t spare anyone to help the 24th MEU during Operation Beachhead. Why the fuck don’t they just bomb the site?”
The chopper hit another pocket of turbulence. Webb grabbed a handhold and looked out the window at fluffy white clouds and snowflakes pelting the window. He searched for the other Black Hawks while Fitz continued his briefing.
“Nixon wants that weapon destroyed internally. We can’t risk it getting out. Bombs could bury it, but…”
Webb focused on a flash of motion through the clouds to the east.
“Three American fire-teams against a Nazi base full of God knows what…” Stevenson started to say.
“I’ll take those odds any day,” Rico said.
Dohi agreed with a grunt. “Me too.”
The underbelly of the bird seemed to answer with a groan as they passed through another stronghold of air.
“Jesus,” Rico said. She grabbed her stomach. “This is one hell of a rough flight.”
Webb glimpsed another flash of movement in the sea of white. He leaned in closer for a better view at a gap in the clouds. Every helmet in the troop hold looked in his direction at the sudden distant crack of gunfire.
“Ghost, we got Reavers!” Tito immediately said over the comms. “Badger 1 is under attack!”
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Be on the lookout for Nicholas Sansbury Smith's future release(s): The Hunted (Trackers 2) coming June 2017, Ghosts (Hell Divers 2) coming July 2017, Extinction War coming late Fall 2017, The Storm (Trackers 3) coming Winter 2017/2018, and Deliverance (Hell Divers 3) coming in 2018
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