Cold

Chapter 1

Winter, 1982

U.S. Antarctic Research Base 31

The being had little hope of survival in its current form. It recognized what the human creatures were doing, and it was concerned. Concerned, and angry. They had destroyed its make-shift craft and were now actively hunting it. They had planted explosives throughout the base, intending to destroy them all in the blast. It had learned of this suicidal plan when it absorbed the one called Garry.

That, at least, was something. One less enemy to worry about.

There were only two left now. Two humans, and two appendages of itself of any appreciable size and power. At the moment the greater form was pursuing the weaker human, Nauls. He posed no real threat to it, The Whole was far more concerned with the one called MaCready, but he was above, on the surface level of the base, while it was within the underbelly, with Nauls.

What was that human saying? Beggars can't be choosers.

The man was fast, but he was only human and the base was a labyrinth of dead-ends and heavy machinery. It was only a matter of time before he was cornered and consumed.

...

It was over. He'd known it since the power had failed. Since they'd found Blair gone and the ship the Thing had created. He wasn't a soldier like MacReady, he was a cook for God's sake. He'd never even been in a street brawl, much less a battle. A war. A war against an alien that could look just like your best friend or your worst acid-trip nightmare.

It was just like Alien. MacReady was Ripley.

And Nauls was Lambert.

Nauls cursed as he turned the corner to find a dead-end.

End of the line.

Tears formed in his eyes as he turned and looked upon the horror pursuing him. He wanted to vomit at the sight, but didn't have the strength. One half of it's head was old Blair's distorted face, grotesquely melded with a drooling, dog-like muzzle filled with with sharp teeth. It's body was bloated and twisted, with random limbs and waving tentacles lashing toward him, seeking to add him to that tortured mass of all-consuming flesh.

God, he didn't want to die like that.

Nauls instinctively pressed himself against the wall.

He still had a gun.

It couldn't kill the Thing, but he wasn't planning on using it on the monster. He would escape by the only means he had left. He shakily raised the gun to his chin, closed his eyes, and . . .

Fell.

The wall vanished as his finger reached the trigger, a small, strong hand pushed the gun down, the bullet tore into the creature's bloody hide. The gun flew from his hand, rattled onto the rapidly rising floor as Nauls felt himself pulled bodily from . . . Everything.

A door seemed to slam shut. Everything was gone. The monster. The base. Even the cold.

He caught a glimpse of a green, child-like face with glowing amber eyes. He fell backwards into an emerald light, and those small hands caught him. Within seconds he went from mortal terror to peaceful slumber.

...

Torren-Wraeth picked the man up and held him gently in his arms. He watched as the mutilated form of the parasitoid before the Portal vanished. He was unfazed, he had seen, and had dealings with, far more hideous creatures. He was, after all, a son of Great Cthulhu himself.

...

It paused. Something, somehow had opened a dimensional portal and pulled Nauls through. A twinge of fear rippled through The Whole. Some power was at work here that it had not foreseen.

What was that green child?

"What a mess this is. Now, why would you just kill nineteen people like that?"

The creature turned to see a beautiful, golden-skinned youth standing behind him. His face showed neither fear nor disgust, only a passive indifference. It replied telepathically:

We do not seek conflict. The bio-mass was needed to help restore what was lost in the crash. This barren place lacks any other form of consumable matter outside of humans and dogs. We had no choice. After the first spawn were created the humans began to destroy us. We had to defend ourselves.

"Yeah, they tend to do that. Humans are a remarkably violent lot."

What are you? You are not human.

"I am a stranger, like you." Tektaktequataquarl made a show of examining his fingernails, "And, for the record, I'm inedible. I can help you get home. You saw the portal my friend created, I can easily make one to your home, wherever that is."

This world has inflicted great suffering upon The Whole. And we must feed. We must survive.

"You can't 'survive' on earth. This world is protected." Tek's tone grew darker, ominous, "Did I mention that I am one of the Spawn of Hastur?"

The creature's rage was immediately replaced by a mind-numbing fear. Hastur. The Whole knew of The Tattered King. The Whole knew of the beings that dwelt beyond the mortal realm, and had no desire to confront them.

It let out a terrified roar and fled, upwards, straight through the ceiling of the base.

And right into MacReady.

Tek heard primal screams and thunderous explosions from above as the two frightened beings fought desperately to survive.

Was that idiot actually using dynamite against a creature that could reproduce by division? Tek shook his head, if that was the best humanity could do, they were royally screwed.

Part of the creature, a bloated, worm-like appendage with whipping tentacles remained trapped in the hole the being had made in its attempted escape. It shuddered, thrashed and writhed as the battle progressed. Tek was about to follow it to the surface when the world around him erupted in flame, debris and deafening sound.

U.S. Antarctic Research Base 31 had exploded.

...

Yoshida Technologies Antarctic exploratory vessel Fujin-Maru,

Torren-Wraeth stood beside a bed in the sick bay of the vessel, contemplating the problem of what to do with the human he had rescued. He was very fortunate that Goro's company had a ship so close (relatively speaking) to the two afflicted bases. He could make up a plausible rescue scenario for the man to tell the authorities.

He wished they'd learned about this situation earlier. They might have been able to send the being home with no loss of life. Instead, it was a bloodbath.

Torren-Wraeth gently probed the unconscious man's mind, watching as horror after horror made itself lethally known. The man was stronger mentally than he himself believed, but this would be too much for him in the long run. Torren-Wraeth erased his memories of the past day, replacing them with a terrible accident, a fire and explosion that had claimed the lives of the rest of the base personnel. He was very careful to get the details down precisely, right down to the actual helicopter crew of the Fujin-Maru who had 'rescued' him. He didn't want to risk any further mental trauma.

"What about the other human?" He asked without turning to face his friend.

"Right now he and the being are sharing a drink."

Torren-Wraeth laughed mirthlessly, "Now they stop killing each other." He turned, "Extraction?"

"The entity is too dangerous to allow it to interact with other lifeforms." Tek shrugged, "And the human's slightly psychotic."

"Why didn't you just knock him out and bring him here?"

"They seemed to be having a good time. That, and I got hit in the head by a fifty pound piece of slag and buried beneath a ton of hot metal, dirt and boiling water."

Torren-Wraeth frowned. Hastur-Spawn might be nigh-indestructible, but they could still feel pain. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. But we have to make sure this thing is contained and sent back where it came from."

"That might be difficult, the idiot used dynamite to blow the larger creature to pieces. And there are doubtless still pieces left at the other camp. And," He frowned, "Then, there's the military."

"Which one?"

"Does it matter? It's too late, anyway. One of the humans from Thule station survived and reached the Russian base. They probably think she's crazy, but once they get a team there . . ."

"The Norwegians already sent a helicopter in. I saw it in Nauls' mind. The pilot was killed in an explosion and the passenger was shot by the Americans when he accidentally shot one of them. He was trying to shoot the creature. As if bullets could stop it . . . He," Torren-Wraeth indicated the slim, dark-skinned young man on the sick bay bed, "Thought they'd gone to war with Norway."

"That's a distinct possibility, if both countries start thinking their crews attacked each other . . . And if the Russians have heard what happened at the Norwegian base, the Americans will hear about it soon enough. They might not believe it, but they'll hear about it. And with two research stations destroyed and twenty three people dead, there are going to be a hell of a lot of questions."

"Depending on what they find, they'll almost certainly believe it. The humans don't know what they're dealing with, they'll have left remains lying around. Remains that aren't quite dead yet." Torren-Wraeth paused for a moment, "I don't even know what that thing was, other than it was some sort of transgenic mimetic . . . Thing. A thing that has to be completely and utterly destroyed to die."

"It's just a lost, hungry traveler stranded on a hostile planet, trying desperately to survive the only way it knows how. The only way it can. It may not even have realized that humans were sentient until it had already absorbed one, by which time they were trying to kill it." Tek rubbed the bridge of his nose. He was tired. He looked at Torren-Wraeth, "I say we Call Ithaqua, have him place a glacier over the whole area so the humans can't reach the pieces, and come back for them later. The storm will keep the investigators at bay for as long as Ithaqua wants." He shook his golden head, "What did you tell the crew?"

The captain and crew knew about the existence of alien lifeforms, most workers at Yoshida Technologies had to know. Their founder and CEO's closest friend was a hybrid of human and Star Spawn who actively worked with them reverse-engineering alien tech. Still, there were many things they didn't, and shouldn't, know about. A shape-shifting parasitoid who could perfectly replicate its victims and literally become the entire faunal ecosystem of earth was one of them.

"Tragic accident. The base caught fire and blew up."

"That won't be good enough for the military. Especially since two bases were destroyed."

"Sabotage? Terrorism?"

"In Antarctica?" He scoffed, "I don't think the PLO or the IRA can take the fall for this one. The Americans and Norwegians will probably blame the Russians, and we'll have World War III."

"Then, like you said, we bury it. The respective governments will probably cover it up for us, when they hear that woman's story. They're good at that sort of thing." He stroked his tendriled chin anxiously "Of course, Nauls remembers it as a tragic accident, not a battle with an alien lifeform. I was worried about his peace of mind, not his credibility. Of course, he remembers being outside when the 'accident' happened. He doesn't remember the alien."

Tek's eyes widened, "The other human! I forgot about him! I'll go get him now and bring him here. You Call Ithaqua." With that, Tek vanished.

Dr. Fujita, ship's physician, entered the room, "I ran the blood check. He's human." Torren-Wraeth already knew that, of course, but it was always good to get a second opinion. "Captain Kubo radioed the Americans to let them know about the accident and that we have a survivor."

Torren-Wraeth winced despite himself. They had to let the Americans know their base was gone and most of their staff dead, and have them pick up the survivors. He just hoped nobody reached the site before, or during, Ithaqua's arrival.

"We may have another shortly. There's still a man out there, Tek's gone to pick him up."

The doctor looked at him in surprise, clearly wondering why they'd left a survivor of a catastrophic explosion in the middle of a massive Antarctic storm.

"Tek was hit by a secondary explosion and couldn't get him right away. As he wasn't in immediate danger, he came here for a moment to recover before going back. I'm about to go myself and help put out the fire."

"Let it burn, if there's no one else left . . ."

"Thanks, but this fire has to be put out. Hazardous materials."

Torren-Wraeth sighed. He couldn't Call Ithaqua aboard the Fujin-Maru. The ship would be destroyed by the cold the Great Old One brought with him. He would find a good half-way point between Thule Station and U.S. 31 and Call The Wind Walker to bury the evidence so deep the humans wouldn't even know there had ever been anything there.

He didn't know how they'd react to a gigantic glacier suddenly engulfing two research stations, but at the moment, he didn't particularly care.

He picked up Nauls' cold weather gear, which had been set aside, and began to dress in the man's thick clothing. It wasn't much, but Torren-Wraeth hated the cold.

...

U.S. Antarctic Research Station 31, or what was left of it.

"Ya' know, Childs. I think I've drunk too much, or not enough." MacReady looked at the golden, winged figure approaching through the blizzard and black smoke, "I'm seein' f***'n angels."

"You shouldn't say F*** around angels, probably." It replied, "But I'm seein' it too." It had to resist the urge to attack the Hastur-Spawn, between MacReady's flamethrower and the golden boy's power, it wouldn't have a chance.

"He's right, you shouldn't curse around angels." Tek smiled, "But I'm no angel."

MacReady pulled out his flamethrower and aimed it at the beautiful golden figure, then shrugged and set it down, "You wanna F***'n drink?"

"No thank you. I came to rescue you."

They both got a big laugh out of that one.

"So, yer' Luke F***'n Skywalker . . ."

"My friend's about to call a god of ice and snow to bury this whole mess under a glacier. He already took Nauls to a ship . . ."

"Fine, they can drink too." He took a swig, then paused to consider, "Nauls made it?"

"Yes." Tek wondered if he should tell him that the man sitting next to him hadn't 'made it', but decided against it. "He's fine."

"Garry?"

Tek frowned, regret glimmered in his golden eyes, "I'm sorry. If we had only been two minutes earlier . . ."

"An' what about us?"

"Does it really matter?"

MacReady laughed, "Well, s***! I guess not."

"What's this 'bout an ice god?" 'Childs' asked.

"Yeah. Ithaqua, The Wind Walker. He's gonna plow this whole scrapheap under a giant glacier."

"Ya' know, the way I see it, you're a pink elephant. I'm drunk off my a** and freezin' to death and talkin' to an angel about ice gods. . ." MacReady actually made a pretty good argument, it did seem a bit unlikely.

"You'll sleep it off." Tek said softly, and R.J. MacReady fell fast asleep. "As for you," He turned to 'Childs', "My offer still stands. I'd rather send you home than kill you, but I will kill you to keep you from taking over this planet."

'Childs' stood up, sighed, shook his head. His drunken facade fell away. "Then I have no choice." It laughed, "It's a shame, they make some d*** fine liquor here. But I know when I'm beat. I panicked before, when I found what you were. It was a stupid mistake. I've made a lot of those lately." There was a hint of self-reproach in its voice. "What about all the smaller forms . . . "

"Why do you think we're freezing this place solid? We'll recover them and send them back, but we have to hide them for now until the humans give up and we can search properly. We can't have you, any part of you, falling into the wrong hands."

"Military hands?"

"It's a miracle humanity hasn't destroyed itself with what they have already. Add your . . . Talents to the mix, and it's all over."

"Maybe they'd be better off as part of The Whole. We have seen so much in their minds. Their souls. So much hatred, violence, bigotry, nationalism, religious conflict. Mutual Assured Destruction. What we offer is a superior existence We are united. I say 'we', but we are a single entity. Many, many bodies, one mind. One organism so vast that it encompasses hundreds of worlds and billions of individual forms. All united. All are one within The Whole."

"They don't want that. Humans fiercely value their individuality, being absorbed into a gestalt like The Whole is their worst nightmare. Your Paradise is their Hell. I know you can see that, having absorbed so many of their minds."

The creature acceded defeat, for it knew the Hastur-Spawn's word to be true. This world would never accept The Whole, they would rather die. 'Childs' smiled broadly, "Well, let's go, before we become frozen for another one hundred thousand years."

...

Five minutes later.

Fujin-Maru

Tek set the larger man on a bed as Dr. Fujita rushed to his side, This one's so drunk he may not need memory manipulation. Tek thought. Oh well, Psychic Surgery was Torren-Wraeth's specialty anyway. Just so long as MacReady didn't wake up and start killing everyone in sight, thinking that they were aliens. "Do you have any flamethrowers or explosives aboard?"

"That's not exactly my department. But I'm sure we do."

"Don't let this man anywhere near them."

...

The Crashed Starship

Tek lifted the massive craft from the ice with a thought. It was beautiful, a shining disk-like craft of unfamiliar design, partially damaged from the crash and the battle between the creature and the sole survivor of Thule base. Yoshida technologies could undoubtedly make good use of it. First, of course, he would have to scour the entire vessel to ensure that no portion of the creature made it to Japan.

The wind was already beginning to howl, and the temperature was plummeting. He turned his head slightly to see a towering, shadowy figure, roughly man-shaped, with eyes like twinkling stars set in an indigo sky. Ithaqua had already arrived. And judging by the waves of ineffable cold he was radiating, everything within his vicinity was soon to be frozen solid. Tek sent the ship to a pocket dimension and teleported away before things got too cold even for him.

...

Fujin-Maru.

Torren-Wraeth was already there, leaning over MacReady's prone form, erasing and fabricating the man's memories to make them fit with Nauls' previously implanted 'experiences'. It was delicate work, to alter the human mind. Tek noted that Torren-Wraeth was dressed in Nauls' survival gear, which appeared to be almost frozen solid, every movement sent snow and ice crackling to the floor.

"I recovered the ship. I have it stored away until I can make sure there's nothing dangerous left aboard," Tek crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, "How is Goro going to explain that his vessel's helicopter just happened to be passing by when two research stations went 'kablooie'?"

"Just that." Torren-Wraeth said tonelessly, "They have authorization to be here. Studying the permafrost, searching for fossils. They were conducting a recon flight to find a good spot to set up a station of their own. They saw the smoke, and decided to investigate. I don't think anyone but the most paranoid militarists in America or Norway would think Japan would outright attack them, especially after what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They have everything to lose and nothing to gain."

"There are still a lot of people left who saw Pearl Harbor, a lot of people who survived Pearl Harbor." Tek pointed out, "People who suffered and can't forgive. They might think old Hirohito is making another idiotic power play."

"The Japanese government is not involved in Yoshida technologies beyond absurdly high taxes, and Goro-Kun has no love for either the former Empire or its Emperor." Torren-Wraeth said irritably. Imperial Japan was something the son of Cthulhu didn't like to talk about, as its brutal war crimes were part of the reason Goro had decided to give up his immortality and leave Torren-Wraeth's side. Tek turned and left him to his work.

He walked over to the nearby bed and idly glanced into Nauls' mind. He was dreaming about Panama City Beach and college girls in bikinis. Tek smiled and made a mental note to visit Florida.

"There, it's done." Torren-Wraeth began removing the cold weather gear, "I hate Antarctica. Our work is done here, and we can't be here when our friends wake up, so I say we go somewhere warm and sunny."

"How about Panama City Beach?"

"You go ahead. I have to stop by Goro-Kun's house first, let him know what's going on."

...

To be continued . . .

Notes:

I still say Nauls survived! No body, no proof!

How I arrived at nineteen killed by the Thing:

Fuchs, Matias, Lars, Colin, Peder and Clark were not directly killed by The Thing. Fuchs and Colin committed suicide. Peder, Lars and Clark were killed by other humans and Matias died in a helicopter explosion.

1. Henrik, 2. Griggs, 3. Juliette, 4. Olav, 5. Karl, 6. Edvard, 7. Derek, 8. Jonas, 9. Adam, 10. Sanders, 11. Sam, 12. Norris, 13. Palmer, 14. Bennings, 15. Blair, 16. Copper, 17. Windows, 18. Childs, 19. Garry

For the record, in an Alien situation, I'd be Lambert too. People are too hard on her. I don't doubt that everyone who calls her a coward would probably lose control of their own bowels at the mere sight of a Xenomorph, much less after watching it slaughter their friends one by one. If they were very, very safely contained, I might be more like Dr. Gediman from Alien: Resurrection, too enamored of the things to recognize the danger until it was too late. Either way, I'd die horribly.

Torren-Wraeth is the half-human son of Cthulhu and my character.

Tektaktequataquarl is the son of Hastur and my character.

Yoshida Goro is Torren-Wraeth's closest friend and my character.