Aug. 17th, 2011

Keene wiped the frost off his goggles and entered the wheelhouse of _Serengeti_. It was about ten degrees warmer inside than the Arctic winter outside. He took off his heavy gloves and clapped his hands together vigorously to get a little circulation back before trying to operate the radio.

"DMX nine zero, DMX nine zero, over," said Keene into the receiver. There was a burst of static and then a reply.

"Papa Bear back, DMX nine zero," said the reply. "Long time no hear, Keene; what's it been, four hours?"

Keene was in no mood for kidding around. "Just gimme the news, Carl," he said.

"No word, buddy," replied Carl. "Your bro at the hospital says the old lady is yelling up a storm, but still no baby." Keene rested his head on the ice cutter's bulkhead. Of all the times to be called up for active duty, this was the one time, the only time, that his wife really needed him. He had promised he'd be there.

But this was an emergency. Keene swore, his breath visible, and got back on the horn.

"All right, keep your ears on," he said. "I'll try to wait at least six hours until the next call."

"You know I wouldn't hassle you, but admiral says keep the channels clear," said Carl apologetically. "Trying to coordinate every ship and plane above the Circle for this situation takes all the bandwidth we got. Hey, apparently there's some kind of… thing going on!"

Keene smiled beside himself. "Yeah, I know," he said. "_Serengeti_ out." He hung up and looked at the faint haze of blue to the north, hugging the edge of the ice on the horizon.

It wasn't every day the Northern icecap burst into flame.

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