Avalanche is a earth type world. It was less than one third larger than earth with slightly lower gravity. It even had similar seasons, two months for spring, almost six for summer, one for fall and a bit over three for winter. Winter here was extreme though, it even snowed up to two meters on the equator and twenty to forty meters on the high plains.
We were better known for some of the animals. All the animals were a type of mammal or marsupial and had eight legs. Bronto Bison were twice as large as old earth elephants with a thick coat of fur. They had two tusks like an elephant but they grew almost straight out on their chins. They also had antler type horns they lost every four or five years.
We had an animal we just called deer but they were the size of a cow or horse. They grew horns like old earth antelope that were long and sharp. We had something we called rabbits because they bred like them, in very large litters several times a year. They were common everywhere and were the size of a medium to large size earth dog.
What the planet was known for was the predators. Spider cats the size of a large dog that traveled and lived in large packs numbering in the dozens. Dire Wolves the size of a large pony or small horse, they to traveled in packs up to eight or ten. Ice Tigers twice the size of a earth bison but a solitary animal.
Last but most dangerous was Peak Bears, they were almost as large as Bronto Bison and could stand on their four hind legs and reach over twenty feet tall. I was born and raised here, my mother died in a fall and my father by a peak bear. I am twenty and have been a winter guide since I was sixteen.
We get a lot of tourists that want to spend time in the wildness and then we get hunters. Because of the type of snowfall, snow homes can not be used in the deep snow country. After guiding tourist around in the lowland all summer I had scouted and tracked predators up on what was called the mid plains.
I was wearing light winter gear with my fourteen millimeter pistol on my right thigh and a small long barreled five millimeter under my right arm. I watched the four large gruff business men walk out of the port building with cases and large bags. Two teenage girls followed them listening to something only they could hear and carrying small bags.
I already knew I was going to have my hands full. The port master had let me know they brought in a large class three snow home. The leader was Ser Benson and he looked me over when they stopped, "we have a snow home being unloaded so as soon..."
I held up my hand, "I am sure you checked me out and know I am one of the best guides on the planet. You can not take a snow home up onto the mid plains."
He puffed up as I looked at the other men, "if you want to insist you can find another guide."
He stopped with his mouth open before glancing at the other men. His eyes narrowed, "fine, how are we getting there?"
I gestured to the hover truck behind me, "first we head out to my place where I have seven snow runners waiting. Each will have two sleds to bring our supplies and anything you kill back. We can also check your weapons to make sure they are still accurate after your trip."
That seemed to spark them into accepting. The trip out was full of bragging which was common. After packing everything they were eager to leave but spent the night. I made sure to explain my safety rules that night. We were up early and I got a kick out of the girls, Sara and Jen as they tested their runners. They were light blondes with a hint of red in their hair.
The only thing I did not like was the off world snow suits they wore. It would be okay unless the heavy storms started and that was not suppose to happen for another two or three weeks. I had told the girls not to leave the camp, not even if they had to pee. That first day we stopped several times and a few rabbits were killed so I started a large rabbit stew for dinner.
I had noticed signs on a nearby ridge and warned everyone of a nest of spider cats. Each time I camp I set up a temporary sonic fence. I watched the men as they played around and stripped weapons and shook my head. I turned a minute later to see Sara and Jen walking through the fence and stood before heading after them.
Just as I walked around the bush they were squatting behind, the pack of spider cats attacked. I pulled my small bore pistol and began shooting well aimed shots as the girls screamed and tried to scramble away. They got tangled in their pants and fell into the snow as I continued picking the cats off.
I killed eighteen before it was over and I glanced back at the camp to see the men just standing and looking. I reached down and pulled Sara up and then Jen, "get back in the camp."
I changed magazines before going to pull all the spider cats together and then started skinning them. It was over an hour before I was done and carried the pelts back into camp. I glanced at the girls, "next time listen to me. A little embarrassment is better than dead."
I pulled out the cleaning bots and started cleaning pelts as I checked the stew and dished it up. The men did not say anything except I should have told them so they could kill the cats too. It was another hour before I watched the girls silently walk to the side by the tent and pull their pants down before squatting to pee.
I led them to a few Bronto Bison and then a small pack of six Dire Wolves and a lone Ice Tiger. They also shot dozens of rabbits and several deer. Two weeks later I dropped them off at the starport after getting an early warning of heavy storms forming to the east and south. I went home since I did not have another job for two weeks.
I jerked up at the strident emergency call and twisted to answer, "Drake."
"We have a problem Drake. Those off worlders you took out hired MacHenry to fly them and their snow home to the high plains."
I sat up, "the weather?"
"Strong winds and blizzard conditions with high gusts that exceed safe air operations."
I was thinking and going over the high plains area, "status of MacHenry?"
"He sent out a mayday before going quiet. We had a brief call from a girl named Sara. She was a little hysterical and said everyone but her and her sister were dead."
I stood as I looked for clean clothing, "is she still on the air?"
"Negative but we have the flyer's emergency beacon location."
I reached for my pants, "what location?"
"One hundred and forty kilometer east of emergency shack six and two hundred north of twelve."
I shook my head, "I will be at the port in twenty minutes. I need a flyer to take me to the south valley pass or as close as we can get."
"Marsha and Peter are prepping their flyer and said to get your ass moving."
I grinned and disconnected the call and ran into the other room. First was the emergency pack with rations and then I went into the small outfitter store for my clients. I closed my eyes and pictured the girls before grabbing two sets of wolf mukluks and two wolf overcoats. I ran out and pulled three sleds onto a trailer and then the runner.
I went to slip my weapons on and grab my rifle before climbing into the hover truck. I headed toward the port as fast as was safe and slid to a stop by the rescue hanger and the dispatch office, "anything new!"
Old Simpson limped out, "nothing."
I nodded as I quickly unloaded and accepted the map screen from him. I rode the runner to Marsha's flyer and quickly started pulling everything in. Peter was almost tiny compared to his wife and cursed as he closed up, "lift damn it!"
I ignored him as I sat and started studying the location of MacHenry's flyer crash. The map screen kept updating the weather and I shook my head, "MacHenry was crazy to try taking them out in this."
Peter snorted, "it is worse, the moron had their snow home slung under the flyer."
I looked at him and he shrugged, "we saw him take off."
The ride was extremely bumpy and it was a long two hours before Marsha came on over the intercom, "you got ten seconds to get off when I drop the ramp. Good luck Drake."
I moved to the runner, if she was setting a time I knew she was stretching herself and her flyer to the limit. I started the runner when I felt the flyer dip and watched the ramp before gunning it as it began to drop. My runner was out and moving with the three sleds following. I was wearing thermal glasses.
It was a good thing because that let me see at least fifteen meters in front of me. I turned and headed north and whispered, "fly safe Marsha."
Three hundred kilometers in this weather was going to take time I knew the girls might not have. Even when the sun began to rise it did little to help. Three hours and I had only made it a third of the way. I went past bison in the snow and once a wolf but did not stop. It was eight hours before the snow fall thinned until I could see a couple of hundred meters ... maybe.
I started checking the map as I got closer but did not need it when I found the flyer. Wreckage from the snow home was scattered behind it and the flyer was crumpled and had several breaks in the body. What drew me though was the fully grown peak bear ripping at a hole as it tried to get into the flyer. I stopped a hundred meters away and pulled my rifle.
One shot behind the left ear and it dropped to twitch and spasm in the snow. I moved closer and parked the runner under a wing that stretched up at a steep angle. I moved around and opened a personal door and stepped into wreckage and junk tossed around. I saw the two frightened girls immediately.
.... There is more of this story ...