In a Latitude of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 5) (17 page)

BOOK: In a Latitude of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 5)
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Chapter Sixteen.
Dressed to Kill

Ha,ha,ha! My prey shall not escape me! My armies thirst for vengeance and blood! In the past I have urged them to show restraint with the humans, but no more! Devour the treacherous fiends! They are no friend to this world.

Ushuaia lies just ahead. My comrades will not allow a single villainous human to escape our righteous wrath. My army has completely surrounded the village to ensure their complete destruction. I feel a tremendous sense of power in the companionship of these tremendous beasts! Nothing can stand before us! The day of reckoning is here.

The dreaded fishing village draws near, but this time, it is the people of this enclave that are the hunted. I will pause and take a quick look around as I take a breath.

What’s this? Something is amiss. One of the human ships lies smashed and burning. Much of the village lies in ruin. My army controls the streets and surrounding territory, but I do not think that this damage is by their works.

Blast it! Curse! Curse! Curse! The monster is not here! It has escaped! The mission is a failure. There is nothing to do now but to make an example of any humans, living, dead, or undead, that are left behind.

I’ll make land on one of the few remaining docks. With a quick burst of speed, I gain the momentum necessary to propel myself up and out of the water. After a brief flight and deft landing, I roll to an upright position.

“Gilgoroth! Come to me!”

Beside the dock, my adjutant swims to me. The soft, though wise, eyes of the 9,000 pound flesh eating machine look out from his noble skull. His magnificent horn resonates his returning call.

“Arunf?”

“The monster has escaped us. It must have just left. Take a small herd to track the horrible thing. I suspect they return to their secret lair, but we can’t be too careful. I mean to see that monstrosity destroyed and I will not be denied. Now go!”

“ARUNF!”

“Deegonar! You and your seals are with me! I intend to dine on human flesh tonight! Let’s go get some or Gonkobuhn and his insatiably hungry leopard seals will not leave us the tiniest morsel.”

“Arunf. Arunf. Arunf.”

“What! They’ve all fled? There must be some humans here for us to feast on! I must taste blood!”

“Arunf. Arunf. Arunf.”

“Only a small group of humans remain?”

“Arunf.”

“Where?”

“Arunf, arunf.”

“On the roof of the fishery? We may as well take our time, my friend. I am sure Gonkobuhn and his incomparable predators have finished them by now. Let us go and check, just to make sure.”

“Arunf.”

“There they are. Ha,ha,ha! We are in time! The Leopards are just now demolishing the building to tumble the wretched humans into our carnivorous clutches. Ha,ha,ha... wait! I know that human! It’s Wolfgang Metzger! What is he doing here? Blast it, why did it have to be him?! Had it been anyone else I would say eat the meatbags, but he is a trusted friend! Gonkobuhn! Gonkobuhn! Call off your seals! Don’t eat those humans!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“I know!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“Yes, they are horrible humans, but please don’t!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“I know I said you could eat all the humans you wanted to, but I know one of them!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“But I
do
care, Gonkobuhn! Don’t do it!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“No!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“Blast it, Gunkobuhn, I said no! Don’t eat them!”

“Arf! Arf!

“Deegonar! Tell Gonkobuhn, do not eat the humans!”

“Arunf!”

“Arf! Arf!”

“ARUNF!”

“ARF! ARF!”

“ARUNF! ARUNF!”

“ARF!ARF!ARF!ARF!”

“AR
UNF!!!”

“Hien!”

“Good job, Deegonar. Thank you, my friend. Eh, hem. Hello, Wolfgang, is that you?”

“Ja! Ja! Ist me! Wolfgang Metzger! Ist that you, P.T.?”

“Yeah, it’s me, Agent P.T. Piston. Tell me, are these people you huddle together with just out of reach of my Leopard Seal army’s long dagger-like sabre teeth, are they... expendable?”

“Nein, Herr Piston! These are mein friends!”

“My crew and I were really looking forward to eating some humans. How about just throwing us that little one. He looks like he is about frozen to death anyways.”

“Nein! Please, P.T.! Ichabod ist a friend!”

“Ichabod? Ichabod Temperance?
That’s
Ichabod Temperance? That blue-tinged, shivering, pathetic little wretch? Hunh, I thought he’d be taller.”

“Y-Y-Yessir, Mr. Piston. I’m Ichabod T-T-Temperance.”

“Hm. Well, speak boy, are you in on this insidious plot that this tribe of Transylvanian blood transfusioners are trumping up?”

“Nossir, Mr. Piston. We ain’t with them, I promise!”

“I say, my word. The option of being shredded to little pieces as we are eaten alive notwithstanding, I should think that we would very much like to join your forces, Agent Piston. Quite, so, yes, hear, hear.”

“Sorry, lady. I have my army. We don’t need you. I think we would rather eat you than have you join us.”

“Like, uh, are we really standing here having a, uh, like, conversation, like, with a penguin? I mean, like gaw, shouldn’t he be wanting to join our forces?”

“Shooosh! Do not be such a speciest, my child. This handsome, tuxedoed penguin has been greatly affected by the passing of the Revelatory Comet I am thinking, too. Oh! Monsieur Piston! Oui! You are the well dressed rescuer of our little band, I am thinking, oui! I think that my companions and I would be so very happy and honoured to accompany such a dashing and dapper secret agent on a mission to stop the ‘transfusionierres’, oui! Please to tell us what we can do to help your noble mission mon formal yet formidable generale?”

“You can help by feeding my troops. Try not to resist too much.”

“Herr P.T.! Nein!”

“Sorry, Wolfgang, we mean to make pursuit on these fiends. An army runs on its stomach and I promised my forces that they could slay all the human meatsicles they could eat. Besides, your people will just slow us down.”

“But vee can help!”

“You don’t even have a boat to sail on. Even if you did, this unclean brood would send you to an icy, watery grave. They have the means to sink any craft to sail into the Southern Sea. That submersible is a ship killer. Moreover, they have shown a proclivity for defending their nest from any intrusion. That lair is hidden behind a system of installations in a distant land of ice. It is a place where the conditions are so harsh, brutal and unforgiving, that no human expedition has ever made it there, for they have been unable to penetrate the fields of pack ice that keep it in perpetual solitude. The area is a vast wasteland, far bigger than the entire United States. It constitutes the title of being its own continent.”

“Say there, Mr. Piston. These here folks really do gotta horrible scheme in play. I don’t think even you and your impressive army will be enough to stop them. I think you may require some of our technological expertise before all is said and done.”

“Go on, boy.”

“Yessir. We’d be willing to help out on that account, if you all could help get us down there to their secret base. I think I know of a way that we could sneak up on them, but we’ll need your help. It’s gonna take take all the wherewithal of our combined forces to assault the great, frozen, unknown, and fiercely inhospitable continent.”

“That could well be the case, Temperance. What do you propose?”

“I’m proposing that this here posse invade Terra NonArctica.”

 

---

 

Chapter Seventeen.
Ticket to Ride

Enheh. How did I get into this? Enheh. Those Norwegian ice-breakers were incredible! Now they are gone! The
‘Stoker’
has been wrecked by storm and the ‘
Wells’
has been burned and smashed by mechanical ‘Walrus’ assault. The only way to and from this bleak, icy heck where we are stranded is on that terrible, sinkable boat with the pointy spines and scary glass eyes. Oh, why do these things always happen to me? Enheh. I never should have let that giggling fool, Ierjghjnnhjgei, talks me into joining this stupid army. Uh, oh, here he comes now.

“Hey Bhjrghjtt!
Sss, sss, sss.
Did you see the train layout they have built down here? I wish we were going for a ride on that fancy, high-speed rail ship, instead of being on coastal guard duty...
sss, sss, sss
. Duty! Sounds like...”

“Ierjghjnnhjgei! Behave! Look out! Here comes Miztress Vampyrellah!”

The throaty, yet strongly feminine, rumbling jungle call of the dark haired woman reverberates around the four ice walls of the wholly hewn harbor in husky tones.


HU
H
-E
Y
Y
Y
,
Y
O
UU
U
, GU
H
-
AYE
IESS!”

“Da, Sir! Enheh. Sorry, Fraulein! I mean, Da, Miztress Vampyrellah!”

“Please to put your ogling peepers back into their sockets, thin frowny face man.”

“Enheh! Da, Miztress Vampyrellah!”

“Sss, sss, sss.”

“The way you cover your mouth when you constantly snicker does little to disguise your activity, little smiley man. Begone! You are commanded to remain on coastal sentry guard duty.”

“Duty! Skee!
Sss, sss, sss!”

“Go, before I slay your insolent imbecility!”

“Ja wohl, Miztress Vampyrellah! Come on, Ierjghjnnhjgei! Let us hurry from this strange, square cut harbour and down the chasm’s path to our sentry post before Vampyrellah decides she wants to enjoy a fresh cold-cut sandwich.”

“Hey Bhjrghjtt, this ledge cut into the ice walls fifty feet above the ice-packed ocean below sure is slippery.”

“Enheh. It sure is, Ierjghjnnhjgei, and it’s a two mile hike to get to where we can look out from the ice shelf onto the unforgiving white tundra of NonArctican pack ice that stretches into the horizon.”

“Yeah, and I really wanted to look at that crazy train set-up they’ve got! The icy turnstiles for the specialized train/ship/engines are a wonder of mechanics!”

“Trains? Turnstiles? All I saw or cared for were the vast and extraordinary accommodations to which they have applied their uncanny building methods. Like the grandest Swiss Chateaus, but entirely constructed of ice and granite.”


Sss, sss, sss.
Well, we won’t be sleeping in them anytime soon, Bhjrghjtt, we must protect this base from any invader!”

“Invaders, Ierjghjnnhjgei? Enheh. We are in a location so remote, no one even knows it exists. If they did, who would ever want to come to this frozen and terrible place anyway?”

“Sss, sss, sss!
Our employers, silly! Well, here we are, Bhjrghjtt. From this position at the end of the ice shelf, facing North, we have a clear and unobstructed view of the South Pacific Ocean to our left, and the Southern Ocean that rests below the Atlantic, is on our right.”

“Enheh, we better stay alert, just in case Vampyrellah conducts a surprise inspection.”

“Yeah, Bhjrghjtt! Of course, there’s nothing to see but endless fields of ice and the occasional penguin, though.”

“Our orders are to watch for ships or for anything unusual! Just be quiet and do as you are told, Ierjghjnnhjgei.”

“Okay, Bhjrghjtt. Say Bhjrghjtt, look at those iceburgs. Aren’t they pretty?”

“Pretty iceburgs? How can an iceburg be pretty? Just keep your mouth shut, and your eyes open.”

“Okay, Bhjrghjtt. Hm, hm, doe, dee, doe. Oh, look. That one little iceberg is moving against the flow of the other icebergies.”

“So what? I don’t care about the fickle migratory patterns of errant chunks of ice!”

“Yeah, right, sorry, Bhjrghjtt. I just thought it was interesting the way a giant walrus was riding backwards on what appears to be the front end of the iceberg.”

“I’m not listening to you, Ierjghjnnhjgei.”

“Well, I just thought it was neat the way the iceberg was shoving its way through the ice flow like an ice-breaker ship. The unusual walrus, which strangely enough, reminds me of the mechanical walruses from back on Tierra del Fuego, looks like he is breaking up the ice with his tail, and the iceberg is mysteriously propelled with great vigor through the resistant passage.”

“Be quiet, Ierjghjnnhjgei. You are supposed to be on the lookout for anything unusual.”

“Yeah, right, sorry Bhjrghjtt, it’s just, I think this big chunk of ice is gonna block the carved channel chasm and possibly trap the ‘
Nautilust’
within.”

kung-grueh-krng-
skrrrrsch!

“Ayeiie! Enhuh! We’ve been struck by an iceberg! We’re going to drown, Ierjghjnnhjgei!”

“I don’t think so, Bhjrghjtt. We’re still more or less on land. Hey! Look! It’s some of our guests from that crappy Ushuaia castle! Hey you guys, what are you doing here?”

“Howdy there, Ierjghjnnhjgei! Good to see you, buddy! Here, grab my hand when I jump across!”

“Got you, Ichabod! Here we go, now let’s help Mr. Metzger, Mademoiselle Gauzot, Trevor Dagger, Miss Plumtartt and these other four people that I don’t know so well across from your iceberg to this deep south ice ledge.”

“Hey, Ierjghjnnhjgei. May be we should not have helped them ashore...”

“Why not, Bhjrghjtt? These are our guests and we are supposed to be looking out for invaders. By the way, what are you folks doing here?”

“Invading.”

“You see, Ierjghjnnhjgei! Now we are in the big troubles. Enheh.”

“Do you boys have any ideas about how this place is laid out?”

“No, Ichabod, we don’t. We just got here a few days ago ourselves. We haven’t been anywhere except the installation at the end of this trail. That’s where a big, funny square shaped harbour has been cut out of the ice. It is really quite an amazing feat of engineering. Almost as fascinating as the railway system our employers have had built to their own mysterious specifications. The funny train station is where the strange rail tracks extend from. That stuff is just over the rise when you get past the harbour. I betcha there will be some helpful knowledge to be gained from the information pamphlet, though. It’s right here in my ‘Welcome to NonArctica’ packet...Hey! Look out! There’s a stern looking penguin headed this way!”

“It’s okay, Ierjghjnnhjgei, we’re with him.”

“What do you have there, Temperance?”

“Perhaps some very useful information, Sir. This small pamphlet is among the personal care items that are a part of this soldier’s billeting provisions, Mr. Piston.”

“Give me that! Let’s see, what does it contain? “Be frostbite vigilant. Count your toes when you wake up and go to bed.” Hmmm. What else is in here? “Acclimation to low light conditions: You’ll get used to it.” Hmmm. Ah! Here we are! A map!”

“Herr P.T., please to hold where vee may all see? Ja?”

“Sure, Metzger. We are here, at the end of this long peninsula. This stretches out towards Patagonia’s Tierra del Fuego that we just left, where South America seems to try and reach Southward towards us. The breach between these land masses form the dangerous chute that is the dreaded Drake passage. The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet here with terrible conflict. The earth’s South Pole lies in the direct center of this covert continent. If one were to use the Pole as an axis and traced a circle using a two thousand mile radius around it, it would form the continent and its extensive ice shelf. Bits of the land are nibbled away to imperfect our circle, but the ice makes the circle whole again. This peninsula represents the furthest extension from the Pole and easiest to access, despite the treacherous nature of the narrow seas.”

“There is a grid laid out on this projection. I believe it relates to the unusual railed transport in use here. If this map is to be believed, these industrious devils have managed to gain access to a wide territory of installation facility construction. There is a large ‘X’ marking the Pole. Three radiants project from this position. A mountain range divides this continent. The Pole is on the other side of this range. Only one radial extension is on our side of the mountains. The Pole and the other two installations are on the other side. A rail is shown to have been laid from our location to this first extension facility.”

“Wonderful, mes amis. Let us go and behold what these fellows have been playing with in their ice molds, oui?”

“Enheh. You people are invaders. Enheh. I am tasked to repel you. Enheh.”

“And do you find me repellent, Monsieur?”

“Enheh. No, Mademoiselle.”

“Of course not, frowny face Monsieur Bhjrghjtt. I am going to confide a petit secret with you, oui? We are not really the invasionairres, no! In truth, we are the daring, Liber’at
eur
, oui!”

“You hear that, Bhjrghjtt? They’re not invaders after all! They’re really liberators! Yay! Maybe Vampyrellah will give us a medal for helping them ashore.”

“Oh, I think she will give you something, oui! Now, take us to your leader!”


Sss, sss, sss
. Just follow us down this slippery ice ledge that follows the precisely formed channel cut into the wall of ice that extends fifty feet into the air from where we stand at the halfway point, and then another fifty feet down to the waters icy surface. Hey, I see movement in the water that has been recently broken of ice by the passage of the ‘
Nautilust’
. It looks like lots of gigantic seals are following along with us.”

Enheh. The bossy penguin that appears to be the alpha male of the group gives my short and tubby friend a dirty look from his cruel, beady, black, bird eyes. Why does he lick his beak in anticipation when he looks at me?

“Those seals are with me,” says the mean little penguin. “Don’t worry, you may be meeting them shortly.”


Sss, sss, sss!
Do they wear funny hats and bounce rubber balls on their noses?”

“Yeah, kid, sure they do.”

Enheh, somehow I get the impression that this penguin is being sarcastic, for I cannot imagine these NonArctican monster seals wearing funny clown hats and performing balancing tricks with rubber balls on their noses.

“Uh, like, this harbor is, like, uh, totally squaresville. Uh, I mean, really. It is cut into the ice in a perfect square, like.”

“Yes, Buffiegh. Quite an uncanny operation these creatures have brewing down here. Fifteen years of chasing outlandish stories in Chicago did little to prepare me for this.”

“Be careful mein friends, ist very slippery as we make our vay along the harbor’s edge. Rounding this last corner presents us vith zee icy docks. Three slips I see but only one ship, zee incredible ‘
Nautilust’
. Zee empty docks look to be built for zee
‘Stoker’
und zee ‘
Vells’
.”

“I say, this is an extensive facility. My word, though, there does not seem to be a lot of, eh, activity, what?”

“Enheh. We’re a little short handed, Miss Plumtartt. It seems that most of the staff double as the mercenary army. When you stranded the soldiers on Tierra del Fuego, it left this facility very lacking in human resources. Count Drauchulau, Miztress Vampyrellah and their vampire cohorts abandoned me and Ierjghjnnhjgei, here when they took one of the rail-ships to the first ‘GNP’, or, ‘Gyroscopic Neutralization Polaritimeter’ site.”

“Hey, P.T., how far are we from this ‘GNP’ site number One?”

“That’s ‘Mr. Piston’ to you, Coalshack, but a rough guesstimate off the top of my beak would be a minnow or so over two thousand miles.”

“Ach! Two thouzink miles! Eet veell takenzee derr veekz und veeckzen to travel such a great deeztanz! Eezeentz zaht right, Roemin?”

Enheh. The slack faced, mop-headed youth shrugs without an answer for the little Swedish vampire hunter.

“Come on, Bhjrghjtt and Ierjghjnnhjgei. Let’s go get a look at this most singular of railroads.”

“But, Mr. Dagger, I thought we had not told you about that most unusual feature of the rail.”

“What unusual feature?”

“Enheh, behold!”

“What do you mean, ‘behold’? There is nothing here
to
behold. Just a big ice wall. This ice wall stands about fifteen feet high. Its smooth sides square off sharply at the top. Hey Wolfgang, come here and help me boost Temperance up to take a look at this thing.”

“Ja, Herr Dagger. Ready Icky? Here you go!”

“This wall looks like it is about twenty feet thick. A groove is worn in the middle. This wall stretches out in icy perfection for as far as I can see. There is an accompanying wall further over, about fifty feet away. The wall y’all are propping me up on is smooth going out, but the other one  has a bunch of wavy hills built into it. They are both coming out of that rock and ice structure over yonder, to our left. That building is constructed at a slightly elevated position so that both ice walls slope upward about twenty feet as they enter and exit it. That building has the look of a stable, or maybe an overgrown, train yard, engine house. Lemme down, y’all, and let’s go check it out.”

BOOK: In a Latitude of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 5)
10.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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