Ice Station

Ice Station

4.4 174
by Matthew Reilly
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Anarctica is the last unconquered continent, a murderous expanse of howling winds, blinding whiteouts and deadly crevasses. On one edge of Antarctica is Wilkes Station. Beneath Wilkes Station is the gate to hell itself...

A team of U.S. divers, exploring three thousand feet beneath the ice shelf has vanished. Sending out an SOS, Wilkes draws a rapid deployment

See more details below

Overview

Anarctica is the last unconquered continent, a murderous expanse of howling winds, blinding whiteouts and deadly crevasses. On one edge of Antarctica is Wilkes Station. Beneath Wilkes Station is the gate to hell itself...

A team of U.S. divers, exploring three thousand feet beneath the ice shelf has vanished. Sending out an SOS, Wilkes draws a rapid deployment team of Marines-and someone else...

First comes a horrific firefight. Then comes a plunge into a drowning pool filled with killer whales. Next comes the hard part, as a handful of survivors begin an electrifying, red-hot, non-stop battle of survival across the continent and against wave after wave of elite military assassins-who've all come for one thing: a secret buried deep beneath the ice...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Grabs you like seeing a glock pointed at your head. If you want action--and I mean serious action--then pick up Matt Reilly's Ice Station."--Richard Marcinko

"Some of the wildest and most sustained battles in an action thrilled in a long time...non-stop action, lots of explosions--and a little bit of conspiracy."--Chicago Tribune

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After a team of American scientists at Wilkes Ice Station discover what seems to be a spaceship in a four-million-year-old cavern below the ice, two of the divers disappear while checking out the craft. Lt. Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield and his highly trained team of Marines respond to the scientists' distress signal. By the time the leathernecks reach Wilkes, three days later, one of the scientists has killed another, six more members of the Wilkes team have disappeared in the ice cave and eight French scientists from a nearby station are for some reason at the U.S. base. Would the French government kill Americans to capture a frozen UFO? Probably: six of the French "scientists" turn out to be the members of the French special forces. From that discovery onward, this first novel offers nonstop thrills as Schofield and his team fight for their lives--and for those of the remaining American scientists--against French and British commandos and a secret American spy group; against killer whales and strange aquatic mammals; and against time, for both the French and British commandos harbor "eraser" plans to wipe out all survivors in case of mission failure. Reilly's debut evokes a host of predecessors, including Jaws, The Andromeda Strain, The X-Files and the combat novels of Tom Clancy. It also echoes the work of Ian Fleming, as the outrageously heroic Schofield comes off as less a real Marine than a fantasy action figure on a par with Bond. There's not much that's original here--even the set-up is reminiscent of the classic SF film The Thing, about a saucer buried in Arctic ice--but Reilly doesn't really need to be original, not at the pace at which he whips his story line past readers. Employing crude but effective prose, a nonstop spray of short, punchy paragraphs and cliffhangers galore, this is grade-A action pulp. (Sept.) FYI: Ice Station was previously published by Pan Macmillan in Reilly's native Australia, where it sold 30,000 copies. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Fans of Clive Cussler will enjoy this first novel by Australian author Reilly. Set in Antarctica, Ice Station pits a group of U.S. Marines against a host of unexpected adversaries. Buried deep in the ice, in a layer 100 million years old, is something that arouses the greed of governments around the globe. Their respective Special Forces units are unleashed in this inhospitable land in a race to claim the hidden treasure. The book moves along at a good pace, and as with all well-told military thrillers there are plenty of unexpected twists, turns, and betrayals. Reilly's characters are colorful and engaging, and his bad guys are more wrong-headed than evil. The laws of science are sometimes shunted aside to make way for improbable weaponry and impossible situations, but that's just part of the fun. Recommended for public libraries with large military fiction collections.--Patrick Wall, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Spartanburg Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rollicking, think-and-you-missed-it military action-adventure pits a lone Marine against highly trained hostile troops, a secret government organization, killer whales, Stealth fighters, mutant monsters, and an entire submarine in a multinational race to claim what might be an alien spaceship frozen in the Antarctic ice. Marine Reconnaissance Platoon leader Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield's day in hell begins when his 12-person team (which includes two women) take two ice-skimming Hovercraft to answer the distress call: American scientists are missing after investigating a huge metallic object in a cave 1,500 feet below the South Polar Wilkes Ice Station. Though a solar flare has made radio communications nearly impossible, word has gone out to a distant French ice station that the object may be of extraterrestrial origin. Before Scarecrow—so-called because his hideously disfigured eyes have been equipped with supernaturally acute vision—can investigate a murder victim in the ice station's freezer, a French rescue team starts shooting at the Americans. The blood-splattering, ultraviolent play of high-tech weaponry, unforeseen catastrophes and death-defying escapes (12-year-old American math whiz Kirsty and her cuddly pet seal Wendy become convenient targets for villainous aggression) are only the beginning as killer whales rush in where the French fear to swim. Then Scarecrow learns that if the French fail to get the spaceship, they will "erase" the station from existence, because an even larger British SAS team, lead by Scarecrow's former mentor, Brigadier General Trevor Barnaby, is hot on their heels. Worse, a secret US government intelligence cabal has planteddouble-agents in Schofield's team with orders to kill everyone so that spacecraft's location will remain a secret. A fabulous Hovercraft chase ensues, followed by even more spectacular movie-style stunts (with a genuine cliff-hanger, just for fun). Alistair MacLean meets the X-Files, in a first novel by Australian writer Reilly that's as silly and satisfying as a wide-screen Hollywood blockbuster.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312971236
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
233,875
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Reilly is the bestselling author of Temple, Area 7, Scarecrow, Contest, Hell Island, Seven Ancient Wonders, Six Sacred Stones, The Five Greatest Warriors and Hover Car Racer. More than 3.5 million copies of his thrillers have been sold around the world, and he has also written several screenplays and published several magazine articles. Reilly was born in 1974 and studied law at the University of New South Wales. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One

The hovercraft raced across the ice plain.

    It was painted white, which was unusual. Most Antarctic vehicles are painted bright orange, for ease of visibility. And it sped across the vast expanse of snow with a surprising urgency. Nobody is ever in a hurry in Antarctica.

    Inside the speeding white hovercraft, Lieutenant Shane Schofield peered out through reinforced fiberglass windows. About a hundred yards off his starboard bow he could see a second hovercraft—also white—whipping across the flat, icy landscape.

    At thirty-two, Schofield was young to be in command of a Recon Unit. But he had experience that belied his age. At five-ten, he was lean and muscular, with a handsome creased face and closely cropped black hair. At the moment, his black hair was covered by a camouflaged Kevlar helmet. A gray turtleneck collar protruded from beneath his shoulder plates, covering his neck. Fitted inside the folds of the turtleneck collar was a lightweight Kevlar plate. Sniper protection.

    It was rumored that Shane Schofield had deep blue eyes, but this was a rumor that had never been confirmed. In fact, it was folklore at Parris Island—the legendary training camp for the United States Marine Corps—that no one below the rank of General had ever actually seen Schofield's eyes. He always kept them hidden behind a pair of reflective silver antiflash glasses.

    His call sign added to the mystery, since it was common knowledge that it had been Brigadier General Norman W. McLean himself who had given Schofield hisoperational nickname—a nickname that many assumed had something to do with the young Lieutenant's hidden eyes.

    "Whistler One, do you copy?"

    Schofield picked up his radio. "Whistler Two, this is Whistler One. What is it?"

    "Sir—" The deep voice of Staff Sergeant Buck "Book" Riley was suddenly cut off by a wash of static. Over the past twenty-four hours, ionospheric conditions over continental Antarctica had rapidly deteriorated. The full force of a solar flare had kicked in, disrupting the entire electromagnetic spectrum and limiting radio contact to short-range UHF transmissions. Contact between hovercrafts one hundred yards apart was difficult. Contact with Wilkes Ice Station—their destination—was impossible.

    The static faded and Riley's voice came over the speaker again. "Sir, do you remember that moving contact we picked up about an hour ago?"

    "Uh-huh," Schofield said.

    For the past hour, Whistler Two had been picking up emissions from the electronic equipment on board a moving vehicle heading in the opposite direction, back down the coast toward the French research station, Dumont d'Urville.

    "What about it?"

    "Sir, I can't find it anymore."

    Schofield looked down at the radio. "Are you sure?"

    "We have no reading on our scopes. Either they shut down or they just disappeared."

    Schofield frowned in thought; then he looked back at the cramped personnel compartment behind him. Seated there, two to each side, were four Marines, all dressed in snow fatigues. White-gray Kevlar helmets sat in their laps. White-gray body armor covered their chests. White-gray automatic rifles sat by their sides.

    It had been two days since the distress signal from Wilkes Ice Station had been picked up by the U.S. Navy landing ship, Shreveport, while it had been in port in Sydney. As luck would have it, only a week earlier it had been decided that the Shreveport—a rapid deployment vessel used to transport Marine Force Reconnaissance Units—would stay in Sydney for some urgent repairs while the rest of her group returned to Pearl Harbor. That being the case, within an hour of the receipt of Abby Sinclair's distress signal, the Shreveport—now up and ready to go—was at sea, carrying a squad of Marines due south, heading toward the Ross Sea.

    Now Schofield and his unit were approaching Wilkes Ice Station from McMurdo Station, another, larger, U.S., research facility about nine hundred miles from Wilkes. McMurdo was situated on the edge of the Ross Sea and was manned by a standing staff of 104 all year round. Despite the lasting stigma associated with the U.S. Navy's disastrous nuclear power experiment there in 1972, it remained the U.S. gateway to the South Pole.

    Wilkes, on the other hand, was as remote a station as one would find in Antarctica. Six hundred miles from its nearest neighbor, it was a small American outpost, situated right on top of the coastal ice shelf not far from the Dalton Iceberg Tongue. It was bounded on the landward side by a hundred miles of barren, windswept ice plains and to seaward by towering three-hundred-foot cliffs that were pounded all year round by mountainous sixty-foot waves.

    Access by air had been out of the question. It was early winter, and a minus-thirty-degree blizzard had been assailing the camp for three weeks now. It was expected to last another four. In such weather, exposed helicopter rotors and jet engines were known to freeze in midair.

    And access by sea meant taking on the cliffs. The U.S. Navy had a word for such a mission: suicide.

    Which left access by land. By hovercraft. The twelve-man Marine Recon Unit would make the eleven-hour trip from McMurdo to Wilkes in two enclosed-fan military hovercrafts.

    Schofield thought about the moving signal again. On a map, McMurdo, d'Urville, and Wilkes stations formed something like an isosceles triangle. D'Urville and Wilkes on the coast, forming the base of the triangle. McMurdo—farther inland, on the edge of the enormous bay formed by the Ross Sea—the point.

    The signal that Whistler Two had picked up heading back along the coast toward Dement d'Urville had been maintaining a steady speed of about forty miles an hour. At that speed, it was probably a conventional hovercraft. Maybe the French had had people at d'Urville who'd picked up the distress signal from Wilkes, sent help, and were now on their way back....

    Schofield keyed his radio again. "Book, when was the last time you held that signal?"

    The radio crackled. "Signal last held eight minutes ago. Range finder contact. Identical to previously held electronic signature. Heading consistent with previous vector. It was the same signal, sir, and as of eight minutes ago it was right where it should have been."

    In this weather—howling eighty-knot winds that hurled snow so fast that it fell horizontally—regular radar scanning was hopeless. Just as the solar flare in the ionosphere put paid to radio communications, the low-pressure system on the ground caused havoc with their radar.

    Prepared for such an eventuality, each hovercraft was equipped with roof-mounted units called range finders. Mounted on a revolving turret, each range finder swung back and forth in a slow 180-degree arc, emitting a constant high—powered focal beam known as a "needle." Unlike radar, whose straight-line reach has always been limited by the curvature of the Earth, needles can hug the Earth's surface and bend over the horizon for at least another fifty miles. As soon as any "live" object—any object with chemical, animal, or electronic properties—crosses the path of a needle, it is recorded. Or, as the unit's range finder operator, Private José "Santa" Cruz, liked to put it, "if it boils, breathes, or beeps, the range finder'll nail the fucker."

    Schofield keyed his radio. "Book, the point where the signal disappeared. How far away is it?"

    "About ninety miles from here, sir," Riley's voice answered.

    Schofield stared out over the seamless expanse of white that stretched all the way to the horizon.

    At last he said, "All right. Check it out."

    "Roger that," Riley responded immediately. Schofield had a lot of time for Book Riley. The two men had been friends for several years. Solid and fit, Riley had a boxer's face—a flat nose that had been broken too many times, sunken eyes, and thick black eyebrows. He was popular in the unit—serious when he had to be, but relaxed and funny when the pressure was off. He had been the Staff Sergeant responsible for Schofield when Schofield had been a young and stupid Second Lieutenant. Then, when Schofield had been given command of a Recon Unit, Book—then a forty-year-old, highly respected Staff Sergeant who could have had his choice of assignment within the Marine Corps establishment—had stayed with him.

    "We'll continue on to Wilkes," Schofield said. "You find out what happened to that signal, and then you meet us at the station."

    "Got it."

    "Follow-up time is two hours. Don't be late. And set your range finder arc from your tail. If there's anybody out there behind us, I want to know."

    "Yes, sir."

    "Oh, and, Book, one more thing," Schofield said.

    "What?"

    "You play nice with the other kids, you hear."

    "Yes, sir."

    "One, out," Schofield said.

    "Whistler Two, out."

    And with that, the second hovercraft peeled away to the right and sped off into the snowstorm.


Chapter Two

An hour later, the coastline came into view, and through a set of high-powered field glasses Schofield saw Wilkes Ice Station for the first time.

    From the surface, it hardly looked like a "station" at all—more like a motley collection of squat, domelike structures, half-buried in the snow.

    In the middle of the complex stood the main building. It was little more than an enormous round dome mounted on a wide square base. Above the surface, the whole structure was about a hundred feet across, but it couldn't have been more than ten feet high.

    On top of one of the smaller buildings gathered around the main dome stood the remains of a radio antenna. The upper half of the antenna was folded downward, a couple of taut cables the only things holding it to the upright lower half. Ice crusts hung off everything. The only light, a soft white glow burning from within the main dome.

    Schofield ordered the hovercraft to a halt half a mile from the station. No sooner had it stopped than the port-side door slid open, and the six Marines leaped down from the hovercraft's inflated skirt and landed with muffled whumps on the hard-packed snow.

    As they ran across the snow-covered ground, they could hear, above the roar of the wind, the crashing of the waves against the cliffs on the far side of the station.

    "Gentlemen, you know what to do," was all Schofield said into his helmet mike as he ran.

    Wrapped in the blanket of the blizzard, the white-clad squad fanned out, making its way toward the station complex.


Buck Riley saw the hole in the ice before he saw the battered hovercraft in it.

    The crevasse looked like a scar on the icescape—a deep crescent-shaped gash about forty meters wide.

    Riley's hovercraft came to rest a hundred yards from the rim of the enormous chasm. The six Marines climbed out, lowered themselves gently to the ground, and cautiously made their way across the snow, toward the edge of the crevasse.

    PFC Robert "Rebound" Simmons was their climber, so they harnessed him up first. A small man, Rebound was as nimble as a cat and weighed about the same. He was young, too, just twenty-three, and like most men his age, he responded to praise. He had beamed with pride when he'd overheard his lieutenant once say to another platoon commander that his climber was so good, he could scale the inside of the Capitol Building without a rope. His nickname was another story, a good-natured jibe bestowed upon him by his unit in reference to his less than impressive success rate with women.

    Once the rope was secured to his harness, Simmons lay down on his stomach and began to shimmy his way forward, through the snow, toward the edge of the scar.

    He reached the edge and peered out over the rim, down into the crevasse.

    "Oh, shit...."

    Ten meters behind him, Buck Riley spoke into his helmet mike. "What's the story, Rebound?"

    "They're here, sir." Simmons's voice was almost resigned. "Conventional craft. Got somethin' in French written on the side. Thin ice scattered all about underneath it. Looks like they tried to cross a snow bridge that didn't hold."

    He turned to face Riley, his face grim, his voice tinny over the short-range radio frequency. "And, sir, they's pretty fucked up."


The hovercraft lay forty feet below the surface, its rounded nose crumpled inward by the downward impact, every one of its windows either shattered or cracked into distorted spiderwebs. A thin layer of snow had already embarked upon the task of erasing the battered vehicle from history.

    Two of the hovercraft's occupants had been catapulted by the impact right through the forward windshield. Both lay against the forward wall of the crevasse, their necks bent backward at obscene angles, their bodies resting in pools of their own frozen blood.

    Rebound Simmons stared at the grisly scene.

    There were other bodies inside the hovercraft. He could see their shadows inside it and could see star-shaped splatters of blood on the cracked windows of the hovercraft.

    "Rebound?" Riley's voice came in over his helmet intercom. "Anybody alive down there?"

    "Don't look like it, sir," Rebound said.

    "Do an infrared," Riley instructed. "We got twenty minutes before we gotta hit the road, and I wouldn't want to leave and find out later that there were some survivors down there."

    Rebound snapped his infrared visor into place. It hung down from the brow of his helmet, covering both of his eyes like a fighter pilot's visor.

    Now he saw the crashed hovercraft through a wash of electronic blue imagery. The cold had taken effect quickly. The whole crash site was depicted as a blue-on-black outline. Not even the engine glowed yellow, the color of objects with minimal heat intensity.

    More important, however, there were no blobs of orange or yellow within the image of the vehicle. Any bodies that were still inside the hovercraft were ice cold. Everyone on board was most certainly dead.

    Rebound said, "Sir, infrared reading is nega—"

    The ground gave way beneath him.

    There was no warning. No preemptive cracking of the ice. No sense of it weakening.

    Rebound Simmons dropped like a stone into the crevasse.


It happened so fast that Buck Riley almost missed it. One second, he was watching Rebound as he peered out over the edge of the crevasse. The next second, Rebound simply dropped out of sight.

    The black rope slithered out over the edge after the young private, uncoiling at a rapid rate, shooting out over the rim.

    "Hold fast!" Riley yelled to the two Marines anchoring the rope. They held the rope tightly, taking the strain, waiting for the jolt.

    The rope continued to splay out over the edge until whack!, it went instantly taut.

    Riley stepped cautiously over to the right, away from the edge of the crevasse, but close enough so that he could peer down into it.

    He saw the wrecked hovercraft down at the bottom of the hole and the two bloodied and broken bodies pressed up against the ice wail in front of it. And he saw Rebound, hanging from his rope, two feet above the hovercraft's banged-open starboard door.

    "You OK?" Riley said into his helmet mike.

    "Never doubted you for a second, sir."

    "Just hold on. We'll have you up in a minute."

    "Sure."


Down in the crevasse, Rebound swung stupidly above the destroyed hovercraft. From where he hung he could see in through the open starboard door of the hovercraft.

    "Oh, Jesus ...," he breathed.


Schofield knocked loudly on the big wooden door.

    The door was set into the square-shaped base structure that supported the main dome of Wilkes Ice Station. It lay at the bottom of a narrow ramp that descended about eight feet into the ice.

    Schofield banged his fist on the door again.

    He was lying flat on the parapet of the base structure, reaching down from above the door to knock on it.

    Ten yards away, lying on his belly in the snow at the top of the ramp with his legs splayed wide, was Gunnery Sergeant Scott "Snake" Kaplan. His M-16E assault rifle was trained on the unopened door.

    There came a sudden creak, and Schofield held his breath as a sliver of light stretched out onto the snow beneath him and the door to the station slowly began to open.

    A figure stepped out onto the snow ramp beneath him. It was a man. Wrapped in about seven layers of clothing. Unarmed.

    Suddenly the man tensed, presumably as he saw Snake lying in the snow in front of him, with his M-16 pointed right at the bridge of the man's nose.

    "Hold it right there," Schofield said from above and behind the man. "United States Marines."

    The man remained frozen.

    "Unit Two is in. Secure," a woman's voice whispered over Schofield's earpiece.

    "Unit Three. In and secure."

    "All right. We're coming in through the front door."

    Schofield slid down from his perch and landed next to the man on the snow ramp and began to pat him down.

    Snake strode clown the ramp toward them, his rifle up, pointed at the man.

    Schofield said to the man, "You American? What's your name?"

    The man spoke.

    "Non. Je suis Français."

    And then in English, "My name is Luc."

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >