Santa’s missile launchers made hash of the black helicoptors. The copters were perfect targets against the snow, wallowing into range over the flat ice pack; they lit up up like flares on the elves’ radar as they lumbered over the last pressure ridge and into view. The missiles slammed into them and fiery confettii fell hissing onto the ordered ranks of the snowman army below.
It was all according to plan. Marty Wheeler chuckled as the settlement’s perimeter defenses launched fifty thousand dollar missiles at what were little more than spray-painted styrofoam mock-ups of helicoptor gunships, powered by snowmobile engines and loaded with cans of napalm. The orbiting RPV transmitted the screams of the melting snowmen. It was all a diversion, but Marty loved every second of it.
And so, while the villagers were happily lining-up crosshairs and slapping buttons in their Nintendo-brand control rooms, the attack subs rammed their sails up through the ice and disgorged troops in the middle of the town square. Marines boiled out of the subs and into the candy-cane lined streets of Santa’s Village.
* * *
Wheeler had suggested simply planting bombs under the ice and blowing the elves into the stratosphere from below, but the hostages had made that tactic a hard sell.
The memos handed down from Staff fueled Wheeler’s disgust for the lengthy, CNN kind of action that the generals apparently wanted. The thought of catering to the same reporters who had savaged him personally for years in press briefings repelled him. Wheeler wanted revenge, but he wasn’t particular about whom.
He thought about the subs, there were possibilities there. “We’re using Old Fartface, right?” The ancient USSN Senator Charles Facer was famous for its leaky reactor plumbing and bogus safety records. “Say, some kind of accident thing right as it surfaces? I mean, how many times has that piece of shit nearly ka-fwoomed already?” Wheeler had in mind an “accident thing” that would light up half the horizon from twenty klicks away.
Staff objected. We don’t want hostages back if they glow in the dark, said one pointed memo. More memos went back and forth; they had agreed that there would be carnage, just not how much, or whom, and yes, CNN reporters were still off limits.
“How about some kind of computer virus? Get one of those Microsoft guys to whip something on the goddamned snowman servers. I mean, Christ, who knows what they’re doing to those hostages. Maybe scooping out their brains and replacing them with Sony controls hooked into Vista command lines or something that will make them –”
Just get the parents and kids back, alive and all smiles for the camera crews, thank you.
“– vote democrat or something.”
But, by all means, toast the elves if you want to, and any snowmen who get in the way.
Something inside Wheeler snapped. He liked the tiny sound it made.
* * *
“Okay, the Chunk pops up here, right next to, what’s that, the power station?”
“They make myrrh balls there, we think. Or maybe cluster bombs.”
“Whatever. It blocks their retreat. So, ah, put the King Tut *here* where it takes out the mess and gets a bunch of troops right into the barracks. Leaving the Putz. Where?”
“Not the main house?”
“If I order the USSN Pointsetta to come up from under and destroy the quote prime objective unquote of this mission, both you and I will be shot on national teevee, with Cathy Lee Gizzard asking us ”How do you *really* feel about color coordinated firing squad uniforms?””
“Not even a *little* too close?”
“Okay. This, then. What rooms are the hostages kept in? I want you to beat it out of that commie traitor reindeer with a cattle prod if you have to, but having half of that house gone from the get-go is going to save us buckets of trouble.”
* * *
“This is Delta One Nine Actual. Drop us three H-E about ten meters north of our GPS squawk.”
“Roger that, one-niner. Three packages on their way.”
From five miles up in the orbiting AWACS, the village looked like an anthill that was having the shit kicked out of it by invisible boots. Wheeler watched through a ground scope as three closely spaced explosions marked the mortal exit of another troup of over-confident elves.
On the ground, the barber-pole-striped pillbox that had been platoon leader Erickson’s most recent worry was replaced by a momentary geyser of ice chips and salt water. Now he had a clear way to advance into the compound, assuming he didn’t encounter any more of those goddamn candy-cane gattling guns, or run out of stuff to walk on.
He looked at the spreading water around the hole in the ice where the pillbox had been and got on the horn again.
“Tell Willy not to use too many more mortars, it’s getting pretty iffy down here.” There was a fine line between taking the enemy out with explosives and chewing up the ice so badly that they’d need kayaks.
Pretty soon, he was sure, they would be fixing bayonettes.
to be continued…