The music blared while we ate the food messily. It was an experience to say the least; driving through the foreign jungle while the music we all used to listen to played us into a strange mood. To think this would be the place where we would live for the next twenty years was strange, but with our limited resources that is the way it was going to be.
The planet was supposedly habitable, but from what we found on surface scans is that there few areas that seemed to have the right level of oxygen. Unfortunately, these were jungles and I hated them more than anything. Insects, especially undiscovered ones, were a hassle.
“We’re almost at the anomaly, check your equipment, people!” our expedition leader called back to us. “And finish stuffing your faces before you do, if a crumb falls into anything I swear I shove it down your throat.”
I polished off my food quickly and cleanly. When I looked over to my side I could see my pal, Carl, looking down at his energy reader which was covered in crumbs.
“Just shake them out,” I whispered. “Isn’t that like your third sandwich?”
“Well, I’m hungry,” he replied.
Once we arrived we marched out the bus and took our first steps in the jungle. It was a lot similar to our first day of training in a sense as we knew it would be a long time before we left this place. The ground was pretty solid, muddy, although the dirt seemed to have an odd reddish colour to it. As I noted that the geologists were already taking samples of it.
However, it was my nose that told me the reason before their scanners did.
“Smells like copper,” I announced and moments later the machines replied.
“It is copper,” one of the geos replied. “It’s incredibly fine, but there is plenty of it in the ground. Along with other natural material which seems to have biodegraded into the soil.”
“That will make it difficult for crops to grow,” I murmured.
“Not really, but what they will grow will just poison our system,” Carl nodded. “Although, I’m sure I saw cleaner patches of soil further in the jungle, it definitely got more red the closer we got to the anomaly.”
“Alright, people, it’s time to head inside,” the leader, Jefferson, announced. “The entrance is a five minute walk East and once there we are to enter a cave one at a time, is that clear?”
We all agreed and with Jefferson leading the way, we proceeded into the jungle. Going between trees here and there we soon reached the anomaly. It was a structure, man-made from the look of it, but we couldn’t exclude other races of alien life-form now that they joined the intergalactic society.
“God...how did this get here?” a geo asked.
“It’s truly amazing, kid,” Jefferson replied. “I used to be a factory worker and the most exciting thing I would see was a fist to the face, but this...this is something incredible. I think I will take the liberty of going first and then you, Andrews, you follow. I’m sure you can figure out where I am going.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied.
We watched as Jefferson entered the tunnel into the mountain and once we lost sight of him I entered in next. Despite the tunnel being so long and empty there was no echo. The only explanation would be that the walls dampened the sound before it could carry all that way.
My torch flashed on and I saw Jefferson walking ahead of me. With a quick jog I made to catch up.
“Andrews, what did the report say on this place,” Jefferson asked. “I don’t know about you, but I feel that something is off about it. Surely you can figure something out?”
“The report didn’t say much about the anomaly other than the strange energy signature and that it resonated deep within the planet,” I replied. “Our cans told us that there are many tunnels and pathways leading further down, but it is a maze that still needs to be mapped out.”
“And what do you think of the place?”
“The soil became more red the closer we got the entrance, hinting that the source of the copper is from here, although when I look at the floor it is clean, excepted for these two channels running along the ground.”
Jefferson looked down and noticed the grooves in the ground, they were brown unlike the cold grey of the walls and floor.
“You know, I mentioned a punch to the face when I was working in the mining corporation,” Jefferson began. “There are two pieces of information that I have say on. One, copper isn’t mined by sending it down a channel like this and certainly it wouldn’t be so...moist. And two, when I was punched I never got a chance to wash my face till I got home. It was terrible and when I finally looked at myself in the mirror the next day the blood on my jacket and face was turning brown.”
“Blood does have copper in it, turning it brown over an extended period of time,” I nodded. “And...I’m afraid to say it, but you’re right about where you’re going. The only way copper can form this kind of coating is if it was liquid first, flowing down the channel into the jungle.”
“I’m not going to like what I find at the end of this tunnel, Andrews. To think, we were given an expedition to come to this planet of all places.”
I pondered what Jefferson said before Carl caught up with us.
“There seems to be a problem, I’m not getting any energy readings at all,” Carl murmured.
With that, Jefferson reached over, grabbing the device and shaking it wildly. Crumbs fell from the device like bready rain.
“What did I say about a single crumb getting into the equipment?” Jefferson asked.
Carl shook in place.