The tunnels were certainly massive. Yet, despite the vast emptiness, there was no echo. It was possible that the walls had some dampening agent within that keep the sound from bouncing, but that in itself is another wonder. The tunnels continued ever downwards and felt an unease amongst my crew.
We were built for an expedition, but usually it meant cross a new form of forest, a new ocean, a new desert. Our experience in the underground was limited, but not enough for us to say no. Afterall, the drone that Carl set up was still moving deeper into the tunnels, following whatever we could not see.
Speaking of which.
“Carl, do you have a visual?” I asked, pressing the communication pad on my wrist.
“Nothing, it keeps moving,” Carl replied. “We are getting a full model of the tunnels thanks to it. Anyway, you should be reaching the vines where it was stuck.”
Indeed we were, but we made out something far more strange. The vines did not grow from a crack in the ceiling as we expected. Instead, there were holes, clean-cut, designed to allow the vines entry into the tunnel. More so than that, the fines seemed synthetic. I couldn’t recall any vines so perfect in form, without a curve or bump in sight. No leaves, no real colour either. The vines were grey, looking more dead than alive.
“Keep your wits about you, Andrews,” I heard Jefferson over the communication link.
“Will do, sir,” I replied and moved between the vines, following the tunnel.
My crew followed and I heard the hiss of a rifle being prepared.
“Andrews, a rifle has been armed in your crew,” Jefferson announced. “No permission was given.”
I turned to the noise and saw one of the three crew members following me had his rifle raised and was pointing into the darkness. He looked at me and cocked his head to the side.
“Don’t you guys see that?” he asked simply.
I turned to face the front again and stared into the darkness. Indeed, I was seeing something in the darkness.
“Sir, permission request, we have a visual on something,” I asked Jefferson.
“Granted,” Jefferson grunted. “Remember, Andrews, destroy it.”
Three more hisses as the heat of the rifles was released, preparing them for firing. I pointed it into the darkness.
“Lights on,” I told my crew.
The lights attached to our shoulders and our guns lit up. The power of the lights was enough to fill the whole room with a glow, fast enough for us to catch a glimpse of life form. It appeared to have no legs from what we saw. It was possible that it could have been a tail, but I wagered it was more snake-like.
I turned on the stop and just in time to see a vine hover close to the rear guard of the crew. I didn’t hesitate, remembering Jefferson’s words all too clearly.
The first vines were vaporised with a high-pitched shot from the rifle. The energy crackled through the vine, or better yet, the tentacle, causing it to burn from the inside and melt. With the crew awake, the rest of the tentacles followed in a similar fashion. Some turned to liquid, others boiled and one even exploded.
Nevertheless, the hostile was destroyed and we formed a circle to watch from all angles, above and below included.
“Commander, we have encountered hostile life,” I told him. “The creatures appear to be taking the form of vines, but in truth they are tentacles. Fast moving, but so far nobody was hurt.”
I let the pad go and ordered my crew to follow. We were returning back to the rest of the team. However, what struck me as strange was not only the creature's appearance, but that Jefferson didn’t comment on it.
“Jefferson, sir, do you copy?” I asked over the communication link. Again, no reply. “Team, it’s time we got in gear and hightailed it to the rest of the team. I will cover rear, go.”
With those orders given, the two watching the sides painted themselves towards the exit and began to dash with the one covering the rear. I watched the rear, but the lights showed nothing in the long tunnel. It was clean and clear now, so with that I dashed after them
We ran through the tunnels and once more, the most off putting experience was the fact that there wasn’t any sound as we ran. Footsteps wouldn’t echo, let alone make a sound loud enough to suit how hard our boots hit the concrete-like ground.
It was perfect to hide an approach of any army, perfect in suppressing a scream.
At the speed we were moving we soon reached the antechamber where the whole team had set up their equipment. Inside the chamber we found nothing, not even their equipment. The chamber which we quickly filled, setting up our heavy equipment that would take an age to pack up and move, was all gone now along with the people.
“Commander, do you read me?” I called through the communication link. It was pointless. “Carl? Carl can you hear me?”
“What’s going on here, sir?” one of my team members asked. “No sign of the head and the others. Not to mention there being hostiles, no doubt filling the deepest part of these tunnels. What’s the plan here, because I can’t see one.”
“We return to the main vehicle in the jungle, I have a funny feeling regarding their disappearance,” I told them.
It didn’t take long for use to jog out of the tunnel and back into the jungle, across the copper mud towards the expedition vehicle. We soon walked amongst some trees, getting a great view of the vehicle.
“There’s no way the team moved all the equipment without that,” one of my crew members muttered.
“Which tells us only one thing,” I began. “The rest of the team is till in the tunnels, they haven’t left, but something definitely found them.”
“Plan of action?”
“Isn’t it obvious? We’re going back in.”
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