As Anders and Hite moved forward, careful not to reveal themselves by leaving tracks on the surface of the glacier, the debris trail continued. Mostly it was unrecognizable, save as laminate fragments, maybe from some aircraft. But as they progressed up past the first kilometer of the climb, they began to see larger fragments, and some recognizable items: a packing crate, a sweater, a seat cushion. To Ander's critical eye, it seemed like a proper distribution, nothing false about it. Hite's wilderness training told him that this was what a crash site, or the area around it looked like, and that the items here had been here for weeks.
As the pair neared the ridge, aircraft fuel and oil began to splatter the ice, weirdly opalescent under the layers that had been laid down afterward. Coolant fluids and antifreeze had eaten into the glacier, creating bizarre spiraling patterns.
Finally the two reached the ridge. Carefully peering around, they saw it. A hybrid airship lay in the saddle beyond the ridge. Its huge body, shaped like a pumpkin seed, filled most of the shallow valley. It had been a vivid blue, but ice dulled its colors It was crumpled against the face of the peak opposite, where it had struck and then slid back down. Talus and scree partially buried the blunt forward end. Most of the rest of the hundred-and-sixty meter body lay in a shallow, ice-over tarn, the massive aircraft dwarfing the little lake. Tremendous letters, each as large as a frame, spelled out "McGregor" in stylized script. McGregor was primarily a mining concern, but also dealt in logistics.
It was hard to tell what could have brought the enormous heavy lifter down, but there had clearly been survivors. On top of one manta-like wing, a patchwork of packing foam, seat covers, foil, and other bright or reflective materials had been glued down with expanding foam, spelling out "SOS". Several shrubby little pines nearby had been cut down. A short distance from those trees are three long piles of stones. Aluminum shafts have been pounded into the frozen soil at their heads, and red and orange plastic banners fly from the head of each one.
The sun is going down, deep verdant shadows seeming to well up from every crevice, and the two's sensors told them that temperatures were dropping sharply.