Home Fun Stingray: Snow Business! – A Gerry Anderson A21 News Story

Stingray: Snow Business! – A Gerry Anderson A21 News Story

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It was Christmas Eve and the weather control satellite governing the Pacific Seaboard of the United States had been out of action for several days due to serious technical malfunction.

That was all the time it took for an uncontrolled weather system to form and blanket much of the area with a thick layer of snow and hazardous ice. And nowhere was hit worse than Marineville, the headquarters of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol.

Commander Shore and his daughter Atlanta were unable to leave their residence by the normal route due to the deep drifts piled up outside and they had to resort to the emergency tunnels under the surface in order to make it to the Control Tower in time to begin their duty shifts.

“Look at it Father,” Atlanta marvelled, “Have you ever seen so much snow?”

“Not since the blizzard of ’33,” Shore replied gruffly, surveying the scene from the window of the mercifully warm control room, “We’d better put Operation Thaw into effect at once – and hope those boys at Weather Control get that satellite fixed on the double!”

“Yes Sir,” Atlanta replied and turned to the communication system on the main control panel, “Tower to Clearance Crews, commence Operation Thaw.”

Although rarely needed, Marineville maintained a fleet of the very latest in cold-weather clearance equipment and craft. Within moments of Atlanta’s order, the crews sprung into action.

First, a squadron of ice-hardened helijets took off from the Marineville heliport and fanned out to designated sectors across the base. Once in position, the pilots activated the specially-formulated fast-acting de-icer sprays, gushing wide jets onto areas outside the Control Tower, Power Plant, Vehicle Bays, Hospital and other key installations.

Once the helijets had exhausted their de-icer supplies on the first sweep and returned to the heliport for re-supply, the ground vehicles took up the next leg of the operation. 

Powerful snowplows with huge caterpillar tracks roared out of the vehicle bays and began to tackle the high drifts covering the roads around Marineville. Some of them were equipped with huge blowers like the kind found on snow trains and these set the snow spraying out of their path to left and right.

The airfield’s runway was being cleared by a pair of automated mechanical thawing machines known as Snowbots, affectionately referred to as Donner and Blitzen.

Deep underground, the vast network of power generators was being put to excellent use, ensuring that everything from electric heaters to auto-nurses and life-support units remained fully operational while Operation Thaw continued.

Back in the Control Tower, Commander Shore monitored the steady progress of the effort.

He nodded with approval, “Mmm… They seem to be making out okay so far. With any luck another hour or two will finish the job.”

The door of the control room slid open and Troy, Phones and Marina entered.

“Good morning Commander. Atlanta,” Troy greeted them both with a smile.

“Morning Troy,” Shore replied as he consulted his watch, “Say, what gives? You’re not due on patrol duty for another four hours.”

“I know, Sir. But everyone’s working hard on Operation Thaw and we didn’t want to sit by and do nothing. If it’s alright with you, I thought we could take some presents to the kids at the orphanage and call at the guard checkpoints with flasks of hot cocoa.”

“Hmm, nice idea Troy,” Shore said with a warm smile, “Sure you can manage by yourselves?”

“Oh I guess so, Commander. Lieutenant Fisher and Officer Coral are off duty too and are going to give us a hand.”

“That’s fine. Well, take care and don’t go slipping on any ice out there. I can’t afford to have my best crew on medical leave,” Shore said in a manner that Troy knew wasn’t nearly as gruff as his tone suggested.

As Troy and the others left, there was a buzz from the console and Atlanta flicked the transmit switch, “Tower receiving, go ahead.”

“Airfield here, Tower. We’ve got a problem – Blitzen’s refusing to work.”

“What the blazes?” Shore snapped and moved his hover-chair to the console.

“I’ll take over, Lieutenant,” he said as he lifted his personal radio receiver, “Shore here. Is that you, Anderson? What in Neptune’s name do you mean ‘Blitzen’s refusing to work?’ Have you got a lost reindeer down there??”

Anderson sounded amused as he replied, “Not at all, Commander. Blitzen’s what we call one of the mechanical Snowbots. It’s stopped obeying commands.”

“Of all the fool-headed…” Shore muttered to himself, “Listen to me, Anderson. Cut out the cutesy names and get that machine fixed. Meanwhile I’ll divert one of the helijets to take up the slack. Understand?”

“Yes, Sir!” Anderson replied and broke off communication.

“And you can wipe that grin off your face, Lieutenant!” Shore said, seeing Atlanta trying to suppress a chuckle, “This is the headquarters of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol, not Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole!”

“I’m sorry, Father,” Atlanta said, still trying not to laugh, “But you must admit it was pretty funny when you thought there was a reindeer on the loose!”

Shore’s gruff manner quickly melted and a grin spread across his face, “Er, yeah… Heh, I guess it was kinda funny. Well, I suppose, seeing that it’s Christmas, it’s only fair that people should have a little fun, right?”

“Exactly, Father,” Atlanta said with a smile of delight.

“Did I ever tell you about the time when I was a kid and I actually caught old Santa Claus himself putting the presents under our tree?”

Atlanta shook her head and asked him to tell the story. She’d heard it many times before of course, but knew that it made her father so happy to tell it each and every time.

Shore began the tale from the very beginning and an indulgent smile lit up his face as the normally gruff Aquanaut Commander travelled back to the days of his carefree youth and a magical Christmas long ago…

THE END

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