The following provides an outline of the plot of Hell Holes: To Hell and Back. Stop reading if you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want to know how it goes.
Chapter 1: Coming Together
Morning of day 5 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fairbanks: After meeting for breakfast, Angela leaves the base to spends the day with Jill Starr, widow of Mark Starr, who was the first member of the hell hole study team to die. Aileen, Tabitha, and the other members of the Order attend a private meeting run by members of the High Council during which Angela is debriefed. This is followed by a military meeting ran by General Robertson in which members of the Order and Jack are introduced to the two special forces teams and Dr. Leland Curtis, the exobiologist. Members of the Order, the two scientists, and the two special forces teams are assigned to the two assault teams.
Chapter 2: You’re in the Army Now
Afternoon and evening of day 5 of the invasion – Eielson AFB: Members of the Order and the two scientists obtain their CACs (military identification cards) and obtain their uniforms from the base exchange. Jack and Leland brainstorm on the instruments they will need for the mission. Jack, Angela, Tabitha, and Aileen discuss the situation (day’s activity, Jack and Leland’s instruments, Jill Starr, and status of the war) over dinner. Demons have overrun the military on the north side of the Yukon River and continue to pour out of active hell holes. They make similar advances in Scandinavia and have overrun Greenland and Iceland. The Russian Federation is largely silent as to what is happening, but rumors are that they are advancing south across the lightly populated Siberia. Humans have complete air dominance and heavily bombard the active hell holes.
Chapter 3: Playing Soldier
Morning of day 6 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fairbanks: After breakfast, Angela leaves the base to head home. She obtains Jill’s airplane ticket, packs suitcases for her and Jack, waters the plants, reads the mail, pays some bills, and cleans out the fridge. Members of the Order and the two scientists spend the morning receive training by the special forces soldiers including how to move and work with the soldiers to clear rooms. This is followed by target practice at the range.
Chapter 4: Preparing the Bombs
Afternoon of day 6 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fairbanks: Aileen, Tabitha, Jack, and Leland have lunch together. The members of the two assault teams are taught about the B61 thermonuclear bombs they will be transporting to the demon homeworld. Afterwards, Jack and Leland head over to the university to prepare the scientific instruments they will need during the mission. The soldiers and members of the Order go their separate ways. At dinner, the three scientists (Jack, Angela, and Leland) sit together and discuss scientific stuff. Aileen, Tabitha, are joined by Ceana MacClelland and Jason Davies for lunch. They quietly discuss the day’s activities and how the war is going. Demons have crossed the Yukon river, overrun the villages of Rampart and Steven’s Village, and are outflanking the military. They are moving slowly southward through the wilderness while the military largely holds the Dalton Highway. Difficulty crossing the Yukon in large numbers is slowing their advance.
Chapter 5: Bring Out Your Dead
Morning of day 7 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fairbanks: After breakfast, Angela helps Jill pack and then drives her to the airport before heading to UAF to begin preparing her research (software and data) for transfer to TBD. The others go to an aircraft hanger for training on the demons based on autopsies of dead demons.
Chapter 6: Facing Your Demons
Afternoon of day 7 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fairbanks: Angela joins Jack, Leland, Aileen, Tabitha, and Ceana for lunch. Afterwards, Angela heads back to UAF to finish transferring copies of her and Jack’s research. The others go to a different aircraft hanger where they see captured living demons being researched and interrogated. Meet for dinner. War going poorly. Demons have pushed the military back and have taken over the villages of Livengood (at the south end of the Dalton) and Minto, putting them only sixty miles as the crow flies north of Fairbanks and 100 miles by road from Eielson AFB. The civilian population of Fairbanks is beginning to panic and clog Highway 3 south to Anchorage and Highway 2 south to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.
Chapter 7: Preparing the Plague
Morning of day 8 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fairbanks: After breakfast, Angela picks up her and Jack’s suitcases and brings them back to base. The members of the two assault teams take training on the demon plague and the Hero-30 UAV that will spread it among the demon population outside of the immediate blast zone of the nuclear weapon(s).
Chapter 8: Practice Makes Perfect
Afternoon of day 8 of the invasion – Eielson AFB and Fort Wainwright: The two assault teams are flown to Fort Wainwright where they are introduced to one of the “spiders”, a large three-legged metal scaffolding that will be the platform from which they will rappel down into the hell hole and from which the nuclear bomb will be lowered by winch. The teams spend the afternoon practicing rappelling down from the platform which sits atop three towers as tall as the hell hole is deep. There is a flash back that explains why Aileen has a problem with heights.
Chapter 9: The Pre-mission Briefing
Morning and afternoon of day 9 of the invasion – Eielson AFB: The members of the assault teams as well as supporting personnel and dignitaries attend a large pre-mission meeting given by General Robertson. Consula Romano also address the attendees. The go over the overall operation intended to lure the demons away from the two target hell holes as well as the mission to deliver the bombs and UAVs.
Chapter 10: The Calm Before the Storm
Evening of day 9 of the invasion – Eielson AFB: Aileen and Tabitha visit the special forces soldiers to see how they spend their time prior to an attack. Tabitha is attracted to Captain Greenwald, while Aileen plays poker with some of the men. Then, they head by the the room assigned to members of the Order and make their final preparations prior to leaving for the hell holes.
Chapter 11: Hell Bound
Night of day 9 of the invasion – Eielson AFB, Flight, and Hell Hole 1: The two teams board their Chinook helicopters and from from Eielson to their respective hellholes. They refuel on their way there and land after some special forces snipers take out a small number of demons guarding the hell hole, the assault team’s helicopter lands at the edge of the hell hole. Another Chinook deploys the spider platform over the hole.
Chapter 12: Into the Pit
Night of day 9 of the invasion – Hell Hole 1:The assault team mounts the spider and rappels down into the inactive hell hole. The nuclear bomb is winched down. The team take it to the tunnel leading to the portal to Hell. The indicator light turns yellow, indicating that the boom has been synchronized with the other bombs and that the countdown to detonation has begun. The team enter the tunnel and make their way to the portal. The tunnel is lit by human body parts stuck into the tunnel’s wall; they are covered in a bioluminescent fungus.
Chapter 13: Abandon All Hope
Night of day 9 of the invasion – Hell Hole 1, Portal, Hell: The team send a small robot through the portal to the portal room on Hell. Several soldiers use grenades and assault weapons to rapidly kill the demons in the portal room. Then the rest of the team enter with the nuclear bomb. Jack tells them that the air is breathable and they take off their gas masks. Looking out the thin narrow windows, they observe large numbers of human and alien slaves among the much larger hordes of demons filing into the building on their way to Earth.
Chapter 14: Revenge from Above
Early morning of day 10 of the invasion. – Hell: Aileen, Tabitha, and the other members of the UAV subteam secretly make their way up to a tower on the roof of the demon’s portal complex. They successfully launch their UAVs and see a UAV with Russian markings go by. On their way back to the portal room, they are spotted and several members of the subteam are killed. They run into a high-ranking devil and manage to kill his guards. The devil is in turn killed by a human slave. The subteam take the human slave and his alien friend with them to the portal room.
Chapter 15: Escape from Hell
Early morning of day 10 of the invasion – Hell, Hell Hole 1, Flight, and Eielson AFB: Demons attack the surviving members of the Hell Hole 1 assault team in the portal room, where several more members of the team are killed protecting the nuclear bomb. As the countdown nears the time of detonation, the survivors flee through the portal and the tunnel to the base of the hell hole, where they are winched up to waiting helicopters. The helicopter containing Aileen, Tabitha, and Jack is hit by a brimstone bomb and crashes. The nuclear bomb goes off, and part of the explosion passes through the heavily damaged portal, creating a small mushroom cloud. Tabitha is killed in the crash. Another helicopter picks up the remaining survivors and flies them to Eielson AFB. As they fly over Fairbanks, they see that the town has been overrun and set on fire by the advancing demons. Jack is reunited with Angela. The survivors are told they are being immediately evacuated down to the lower forty-eight.
Chapter 16: A Bittersweet Farewell
Days 10 and 11 of the invasion – Flight, Washington DC (Whitehouse), and Rome (Headquarters of the Order): The survivors of the mission and Angela are flown by military transport from Eielson AFB down to McChord AFB just outside of Tacoma, Washington. Vice President Gillibrand meets them and flies them in Air Force Two to Andrews AFB just outside of Washington, D.C. The next morning in the Whitehouse, President Warren awards the military survivors of the mission the Medal of Honor and awards the civilian members the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After saying goodbye to Jack and Angela, Aileen and the other members of the Order travel by portal to the headquarters of the Order, located underground in Rome for the ceremony honoring their fallen comrades (not just Alaska but also around the world). The survivors then leave to continue their work tracking down and killing the remaining demons on Earth.