A note of explanation to newer readers:
In 2012, I began writing a novel about what an Alaskan chapter of Monster Hunter International might be like. I obtained Larry Corriea's kind permission to play in his sandbox, and posted seven chapters.
Then - for whatever reason - I stopped. I hadn't thought much about it until this past April, when during a delightful encounter with Old NFO, he asked why I never continued. That got things percolating again.
And so, here is Chapter 8 in the story. I trust it doesn't suffer too badly from the hiatus; please let me know if I should continue, in comments.
Copper Center, Alaska:
Rick's phone buzzed, waking him from a sound sleep. By the time he dug it out from under the furs and blankets, it wasn't buzzing anymore, but the text from Val woke him up:
Something large attacking cabins between Big Lake and Willow. Red-eyed moose sighted again. Locals patrolling with big-game rifles. V.
Wonderful, he thought. We're already stretched too thin. "Up and at 'em, guys. We've got work to do."
"Do we have time to stoke the fire, boss?"
"No, Sandy. Sounds like something big's going on at Big Lake. Let's get loaded up; we've got seven hundred miles to cover," Rick replied.
Dang, my knee hurts. What did I do to it this time?
Jamie and Sandy loaded the last of the supplies in her floatplane.
"There's a lot less now than when we got here," Sandy said. He glanced at her, but she just nodded. "That's what happens when you use all your ammo on a giant frozen crab, I guess."
"If that last rocket hadn't penetrated its shell, we'd have used all the rest of the ammo," Jamie agreed. "But I'm glad we're loaded up. Rick called; there's something going on back home."
"At Wasilla?" Sandy asked.
"Near enough," she replied. "Big Lake, moving toward Willow. And before you ask, we don't know what it is. But Harvey's back."
"Harvey? Oh, geez ... better stop at HQ, then," Sandy said. "We need to restock."
Five miles north of Big Lake:
Nineteen local hunters were moving slowly through the woods. The only sounds were the wind in the tree tops, frozen branches rubbing together, and the noise of all those feet treading in the crunchy snow.
The organizers had given good advice as they started out. "Stay sharp, and don't get a case of the nerves. Spread out a bit, but keep within sight of the guys on either side of you. Fingers off your triggers. Keep your heads, and eyes open."
The man second-from-the-west-end of the line heard a noise above the sound of branches rubbing on his pants, and looked to his left. Dang, it's getting colder, he thought. Wait a minute ... where did Bob go?
He stood still for moment, remembering to inhale through his mouth, and exhale through his nose, conserving body heat.
Trying to see through the thick brush, he called out, "Bob. Hey, Bob!"
"Bob Johnson was right there, but now I don't see him. And he's not answering."
"Uh-oh," Serge said. Turning his head, he shouted over his shoulder, "Stay frosty, gentlemen - we're not alone!"
Serge turned back just in time to see a large, dark form rise up. He felt cold ... then he felt nothing at all.
TO BE CONTINUED
DISCLAIMER: I do not own MHI or any of its characters; those are owned and copyright Larry Correia. I only claim the ones I've created. And a BIG h/t to Mr. Correia for creating such a wonderful universe in which to play, and for his kind permission to use his concepts here.
A h/t also to Jenny S., who contributed a couple of crucial ideas to improve this short story, the book cover and team patch above. Her help has been invaluable, both here and in my first book.