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M. L. "Matt" Buchman

Skibird (also in audio)

Skibird (also in audio)

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When the political battlefield spreads to Antarctica, can the team survive the deep freeze?
Those who work there call Antarctica “The Ice.” A secret Russian cargo jet crashes into a crevasse near an Australian Station. The Aussies call in the top air-crash investigators on the planet.
The best of them all, Miranda Chase, must face the Russians, Chinese, and use her own autistic abilities to keep her team alive. As the battle spreads across The Ice, are even her incredible skills enough?
Or will they all be buried in the frozen wasteland?
"Miranda is utterly compelling!" - Booklist, starred review
“Escape Rating: A. Five Stars! OMG just start with Drone and be prepared for a fantastic binge-read!” -Reading Reality

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Altitude: 43,000 feet
Off the coast of Antarctica
69°22’25” S 76°22’18” E
approximately

“Kolya, I am going to rip out your eyes and crap in your skull!”
“This is not my doing, Captain.”
Captain Fyodor Novikov knew it wasn’t his navigator’s fault, but he needed someone to vent at and Kolya would know that. They’d started as young men together in flight school and knew each other’s ways.
The Ilyushin Il-76's airframe creaked worse than his deda’s knees in a Moscow winter—a topic his grandfather loved to discuss in excruciating detail. Like Deda, his plane had earned the right to creak. Of the more than a thousand 76s built, it wouldn’t surprise him if his was the oldest remaining in service for the Russian military.
The storm slammed the big cargo jet one way and then another across the Antarctic sky. Nothing to see out the windshield except a world of white—snow and cloud. At least it was daylight as it was high summer and they were below the Antarctic Circle. Below, he knew though he couldn’t see it, lay a world of death. Nothing but a storm-tossed ocean thick with ice floes down there.
When he and his four crewmates had departed Cape Town International Airport seven hours ago, the report called for clear weather all the way to Progress Station in Antarctica. And it had been…for the first four thousand kilometers of the flight.
But then Antarctica had decided to have a fit worse than his mother had when he’d brought home Aloysha the first time. The shouts, the pounding of fists on the armchair. In his bedroom that night they’d lain together listening to Mama’s vicious mutterings through the thin wall.
He wished Kolya was sitting beside him in the cockpit instead of the party-hack copilot. He flew well enough, but couldn’t speak without spouting off some brainwashed nausea.
Kolya, however, sat alone in the lower navigator’s cockpit. Though they were mere meters apart, their compartments connected back in the cargo bay. The party hack sat to Fyodor’s right and the engineer and loadmaster sat close behind him. No privacy this side of a good bar.
The chaotic headwind flipped to a tailwind in a sharp, sixty-knot gust. The plane plummeted two hundred meters in the next three seconds as if the bottom had fallen out of the sky. He heard a grunt from the copilot who hadn’t known to tighten down his harness in a storm and had now bruised himself on the overhead. The engineer and loadmaster were old hands and had long since strapped down and were trying to sleep. Their work mostly happened on the ground.
Fyodor waited five seconds. Six. Seven…they were down another four hundred meters before the gust dissipated and the plane began climbing again. Patience.
This storm was as angry and foul as Mama had been—where patience had not worked.
Flying headlong into that first storm, he had married the gorgeous Tatar blonde from Kazan—and regretted it ever since.
Within the next year, she’d entered into an extended affair with his commander, which had caused one type of problem. Major Turgenev had assigned Fyodor to the most remote and long-lasting assignments, keeping him far from Moscow.
Then she’d moved on to his commander in turn, which had caused Fyodor an entirely different type of problem. In retribution, Major Turgenev now assigned him the oldest aircraft on the worst routes.
It wasn’t his navigator, it was Aloysha who should have her eyes ripped out. Little status-climbing sterva! Whose bed would the bitch find next, the Russian President’s? The Lord knew that enough others had. Rumors of his numerous unclaimed children and lovers who were quietly disappeared abounded like Russian ghost stories.
At least that’s what he’d expected of her, but he’d checked his messages shortly before takeoff from Cape Town. Aloysha’s low voice had left a long, rambling apology of how he’d been the only man to ever treat her properly and how could she make it up to him?
Not a chance, woman.

Publication Details

Initial Publication: October 25, 2022
Print Pages: 364
Audio length: 8:44
Narrator: Read by Author

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