The lost tale of the Cryovolcano
So while Cronus, Isra, and Althea work on their plan, I thought I would go digging around draft number one again to see what I could find.
And man, I found a doozy. But first, Chapter 27:
I had all but forgotten about this but, in the original draft, the team runs afoul of a cryovolcano.
As in, yes a volcano that erupts ice and water in the same way volcanoes on earth erupt liquid rock. I'm not sure what I was thinking, I was probably desperate to add some action to a story that was going nowhere. But, for reasons that will become painfully obvious, brought this segment to the old chopping block and hacked it away without mercy.
But since I really can't think of anything to add to this chapter, I dredged this up.
Enjoy. As much as one can enjoy something this goddamned ridiculous:
They continued up the mountain. The path was even narrower. Viekko had taken to walking behind the ATV since there was barely enough room on the road for the vehicle itself. Every once in a while he would glance over the side. It was nearly a sheer drop down to the sub-zero ocean below. Ahead the ATV was struggling in the oxygen-poor air.
“Nah, I don’t like this, people.” said Viekko finally, “If this is a fortress, they’ve probably got ambush points. This here is the perfect one. They charge at us from ahead and we’ve got not way to go but straight up or straight down and straight up isn’t usually a viable option.
“So we turn back?” said Chronos hope creeping in his voice.
“No. We continue until we find where these people went,” said Ariane
Althea gunned the throttle a couple of times, “This engine is struggling a little too, how long can the engine run up here.”
“I wouldn’t worry about he engine, the excess methane is probably helping. Besides, we’ll suffocate long before the engine stops working,” said Ariane.
Viekko continued to walk behind the rest of the group and the ATV. His head watched the sky for signs of the Prolis. He would occasionally see something flying out of the mountains towards the city in the valley far below them, but nothing suggested that they either knew that they were on their way up the road or cared about that fact.
He started to relax as they turned a corner that took them away from the narrow path along the lake and into a deep canyon in between the mountain peaks.
Suddenly, something directed Viekko’s attention in the opposite direction. The ground was vibrating beneath his feet. It was slight at first, just a slight tickle, but it was becoming more and more noticeable.
“Althea! Stop for a moment,” said Viekko finally.
Althea stopped the ATV and looked back, “What’s wrong?”
There was a distant roar that echoed through the canyon. He watched as rocks started to fall down the sides of the mountain and onto the path in front of them. “Maybe we should turn around.”
“We’re close,” said Ariane.
“We turn around now,” said Viekko pointing ahead.
There was a rising plume in the distance to the north. It was followed by another explosion that sent a second flow into the air.
“What’s happening?” said Chronos.
“Cryovolcanos. We turn around now! Go, go go!”
Althea started to turn the vehicle around and Ariane tried to stop her, “What’s the problem? What are you worried about?”
"Look at where we are, Ariane. Look at this path. It isn’t rock anymore, it’s solid ice. We’re in a god damned drainage ditch for cryovolcanology. That’s why the people had to leave the city so quickly! That’s why we’ve not run into a single guard this entire way! Now move.”
“Viekko, would you calm down!” said Ariane.
“Turn it around! Turn it around!”
Althea started doing as she was told and the began running back down the canyon where they came. Viekko waved them by as he watched as the two columns of gas were joined by a third. As quickly as the three columns appeared one by one they began to collapse. It was almost exactly as he feared. He turned back and yelled, “The columns are collapsing! Move faster!”
They were still several hundred meters from the entrance to he canyon. Viekko looked behind him. The canyon was being filled with a flow of water, gasses, and methane filling the canyon.
“We won’t make it!” yelled Viekko, “Up, we go up the wall,” he said.
“What about the ATV?” said Althea.
“Leave it!” just climb. Climb damn it.
He jumped up and started scrambling up the wall rock wall. It was still as steep climb but it was rocky enough to make some headway. He reached a ledge with a crack in the rock and extended his hand. Ariane got their first and he pulled her in. Althea came close behind her and he pulled her in. Viekko looked down. Chronos was struggling to get a foothold on the slippery rocks.
Viekko checked back up the canyon. He could now hear the roar of ice and water as it scraped through heading toward their position at an ungodly speed.
“Chronos. Move! You got to get up here!”
“I can get a hold!” he said desperately.
“Motherfuck...” said Viekko.
He jumped out of the scrambled down the side of the canyon wall until he got down to Chronos. He grabbed him by the hand and threw up the side of the canyon wall. He looked back up the canyon at the wall of water and ice coming his way. He scrambled back up the side towards the ledge. He got a few feet from the ledge when the land started to give way beneath him. He lost his balance and started to fall back to the bottom of the canyon.
Just as he was about to fall a hand reached out and grabbed his wrist. Viekko looked up to see Althea looking down at him.
Althea looked back over her shoulder, “Ariane, don’t you let go of me!”
Viekko took the moment to get he feet under him and pushed himself up the side of the cliff. He crawled onto the ledge just in time to see a kind of cyroclastic flow sweep through the canyon. It hit the ATV and disappeared off the side and into the Ligeia Mare.
Althea collapsed against the wall and panted, “Even in microgravity, you’re a heavy bastard Viekko.”
Viekko looked down at the river of ice water flowing beneath him, “It’s this armor. It adds a hundred kilos or so... plus I think it makes my ass look big.”
“What the merry ol fuckity was that!”
“Cryovolcano. It’s like a geyser only way bigger. Some of them also go off regular like geysers.”
Viekko got up and started eyeing the canyon wall above him, “That’s why the city was evacuated so fast. They probably have a very specific window when they can traverse this canyon between the flows of ice and water from the geysers. It also explains why there's nobody watching the road here. It gets a less steep the farther we go, we can crawl out of here.”
“You’re not serious,” said Chronos.
“Why not. The steepest part of the climb is below us. Above that should be easy. We get to the top and we find this stronghold we’ve been looking for.”
“We were almost killed!” said Chronos.
“To be perfectly specific,” said Ariane trying the rock, “You were almost killed. We made it to safety just fine.”
“And that added incentive to get this far, didn’t it? You can do this. If you need extra incentive, I can threaten to kill you if you don’t make it to the top.” said Viekko.
Chronos gave a pleading look to the last member, “Althea?”
She looked at Viekko and Ariane already starting their assent, “They are right. It’s easy from here. Come on.”