Treasure Buried In The Ice
It was just another earthquake.
Well, not even an earthquake.
Just a tremor.
These were the thoughts that went through the seismologist’s mind as the tremor from the Grímsvötn caldera in Iceland’s glacial ice cap of Vatnajökull was recorded. It was May of 1983, and they had been recording activity since December. And, after all, earthquakes were not exactly unheard of in Iceland.
“What’s happening, Eric?” a voice asked, bringing the man back to reality.
Eric turned, seeing his supervisor standing over him. He nodded in the direction of the device. “Another tremor on Grímsvötn,” he replied blandly.
His supervisor frowned at the readings. “Looks like the volcano’s getting restless, doesn’t it?”
Eric shrugged. The Grímsvötn caldera was located in the western part of the ice cap. An ice cap that was the largest in Europe and not exactly the most accessible. “Should we warn those volcanologists that their pet project might literally blow up in their faces?”
“I have a feeling they’re painfully aware of that, Eric,” came the amused reply. “Anyway, they’re getting daily updates.”
“What good that will do. Since when can anyone predict a volcanic eruption?”
* * *
The tremor that Eric’s machinery had detected had been felt by the team investigating the ice cap. The caldera lake was covered by an ice shelf nearly two-hundred metres thick, so studying it “up close” was a bit of a joke.
The theory at the time was that the tremors were being caused by brittle failure of the crust above and around an inflating magma chamber. The hope of the team was that this might cause cracks to form in the ice field that would allow them to take samples from deep within the glacier.
It was the day of this particular tremor that a large fissure was discovered in the ice field. It was several kilometers long; ten metres deep at its shallowest point, and several hundred metres at its deepest.
While this discovery was exciting initially, it paled in comparison to what the team discovered when they ventured within. In one area, protruding from the ice wall, was what looked like a space ship. Were it not for the fact the “craft” was still partially buried in the ancient ice layer, the team leader would have called it a hoax. Perhaps the area had melted and refrozen after the eruption of 1972.
A battery of photographs were taken and immediately sent off along with a report of the finding, although the team leader had his doubts as to whether anyone would believe a word of it.
He could not have imagined what was to follow.
* * *
The photographs taken by the volcanology team did more than grab the attention of their recipients. They grabbed the attention of several government agencies. Within hours of their appearance in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, the news of their existence, and that of the spaceship they purported to show, was being broadcast through an elaborate spy network.
Within forty-eight hours, copies of the photographs and report appeared in the Headquarters of the KGB in Moscow, NATO in Bonn, and UNIT in Geneva. The head of the latter of these agencies was the least skeptical, as alien incursions and artefacts had been the purview of UNIT for more than twenty years. The KGB and NATO, however, were more interested the military implications of the artefact. Each was determined to get hold of the object before the other. And if this meant killing anyone who got in their way, than so be it.
* * *
The Chief of NATO headquarters in Bonn, West Germany sat looking at the report with more than a little skepticism. Alien artefact indeed, he thought. He had been contacted by a Colonel Crichton, the head of UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, in London. They did not hit it off as the Colonel practically ordered NATO to steer clear of the operation.
Just thinking about the conversation made the Chief’s blood boil. “Stay out of our way,” the Colonel had said. God damn limey! Who did he think he was, ordering him around like that?
The Chief looked down at the file. He would have to assign someone to investigate this matter and retrieve whatever items could be compromised by the KGB. A small smile came to his face as the candidate came to mind. He would send Iron Klaus and kill two birds with one stone.
In his last mission that involved NATO’s cooperation with UNIT nearly three years ago, Iron Klaus, Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach had had the audacity to survive a gunshot wound that should have been fatal. As bad as that was, he had also been recommended for a commendation by the then head of UNIT, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Everyone had congratulated the Chief on having such a remarkable agent, while inwardly he wished the man were dead.
Now, perhaps, he might get his wish. He sent for the Major and sat humming a happy tune as he waited. With luck, the man would take all the annoying alphabets with him and get the whole lot of them killed in one stroke.
* * *
The Major appeared at the door to the Chief’s office and his superior just glared at him, his good mood evaporating. Iron Klaus. Damn the man, did he never change! He had worked with him for how many years now, and he looked as thin and muscular as he had the first time he’d laid eyes on him. While he himself was working on another belt size around his middle.
Having observed his Chief’s obvious ill temper, the Major casually took a puff on his cigarette, moving a stray strand of his long dark hair out of his face. “You sent for me?” he said blandly, knowing his tone would irritate the man further.
“Don’t just stand there!” the Chief snapped. “Sit down. You have an assignment.”
The Major listened as his assignment was laid out, silently puffing away on his cigarette. Iceland. A glacier in Iceland. Why not just make it the North Pole and have done with it? He eyed the Chief, reflecting that he would make a good Santa Claus and should be shipped of the North Pole on permanent assignment.
“Do you have any questions, Major?” the Chief asked, trying and failing to keep the joy from his voice.
“When do we leave?” the Major asked coolly.
“Immediately, if not sooner. Who will you be taking?”
“I’ll need agents A, B and Z, I should think,” the Major replied. His operative agents were designated by letter and were appropriately referred to as the alphabets. “I’ll leave Agent G to run things while I’m away.” Seeing the gleam in his superior’s eye, he snapped, “And keep your lecherous ass away from him so he can keep this place from falling apart while I’m gone!”
The Chief gave a derisive snort. The Major rose to his feet, flicking the ash from his cigarette all over the papers on the desk before leaving.
“I hope you die from frostbite!” the Chief yelled as the door was slammed in his face.
* * *