Andrews walked further into the tunnel and activated the flood lights. Knowing that it would be foolish to go further without proper preparations, Jefferson ordered the team to start setting up a camp in the first antechamber. There were no other spots better than the one inside of course. Plus, by having the science team stationed inside the anomaly they could continue their work through the night if they felt up for it.
The lights that Andrews had activated flooded the tunnel that led further down with light. It was an awesome display and I had to admit, that the anomaly certainly had all the merits of being constructed by an advanced species. The rock was cut smoothly, by a machine no doubt and cleaned to the point where the pressure of the water made it as smooth as silk, although glass would be a better way of describing it.
“How you holding up, Carl?” Andrews asked me.
“Doing fine, a lot better now that I set up the main computer,” I told him. “From here everything that the expedition team will be logged into the computer. We will know what is going on through the underground system.”
“Sounds goud, but what do you think of this place?”
“It’s...it’s creepy as hell is what it is. I didn’t want to say anything to the chief, but to setup inside the anomaly just seems like a bad idea.”
“Perhaps, but this will give us plenty of time to learn as much as we can before we head back to base camp. I’m sure we are all looking forward to the first supply drop that the Corp sends us.”
“I’ve been holding onto the dream of smores, man.”
“Yeah, well, I suppose you wouldn’t know what they are, but I will show you them if we get lucky.”
“I look forward to it.”
I watched Andrews walk back to his station with Jefferson. Too often I forgot that Andrews wasn’t human. By all means he seemed that way, but his kind always took the appearance of the race they felt most close too. The only way humans could tell he was an alien was by the startling blue eyes. Not a speck of white was in them, but I felt if I looked close enough I could see starts blinking inside.
Ignoring my friend’s wondrous eyes for a moment I turned back to the monitor and began reading the energy signals. Once Jefferson had cleaned out the device for me I opened it up and connected it to the computer monitor. Within moments I was starting at several graphs that analyzed everything that it could with small signals. It reached through the tunnel with radar, mapping it carefully as far as it could.
“Right, deploying sensors!” I announced to everyone and with a tap of a button three drones carrying small nodes the size of my thumb flew deeper into the tunnels.
After a certain distance they dropped the nodes in the darkness or stuck them to the walls. The nodes all connected back to my monitor and with another push of a button the tunnel ahead of us was lit up by holograms. When charged these nodes could light an anomaly such as this for three years, more than enough time for us to get to know the anomaly before we moved onto the rest of the planet.
Everyone cheered as the tunnel was slowly scanned by the drones and revealed. The different paths were appearing on the screen and it was all as clear as day. There were certainly some strange readings and objects that warranted investigation. The only one who wasn’t pleased was Jefferson and when the readings stopped coming back he frowned.
“Why did it stop?” he asked.
“Uh...the drones only have a certain number of nodes, so they can’t map out the entire anomaly on their own,” I explained. “They should be on their way back now.”
We focused on the blinking red shapes of the drones on the monitor and they seemed to remain stationary for a moment. I waited patiently and after a moment they start to return, all except one.
“Huh, must be a fault in the drone,” I murmured.
It continued to hover there in a dark spot of a tunnel and soon my patience ran out and I began issuing commands for it to return. However, it just seemed to hover there.
Everyone was now staring at the monitor, pushing against each other, so to make things easier I activated the holo-screen which was much larger. Without the entire team crowding around me I began to code further instructions, but that red dot would not move. I was scratching my head for a moment and felt the blood rush to my face.
I was so proud of these drones and for them to fail on the first run painted me in a bad light with the other scientists.
“Listen, Carl, don’t worry about it,” Andrews told me. “My expedition crew is gathering and our first task will to be go retrieve the drone. You can join us if you want.”
“THanks, I think I will,” I replied, my mood improving already. “Just...let me switch to the live feed so we can see what is happening.”
Another push of the button later the holo-screen showed darkness beyond what seemed like a tangle of vines. Plantlife further in the tunnels of all things and my drone was caught amongst it.
“Now that is odd,” Andrews murmured.
We all stared at the vines which didn’t seem too different from the foliage of the jungle we drove through, but within moments something flashed across the screen before we could identify what it was.
“Movement,” Jefferson stated. “Can you move the camera?”
“Better yet, I can track it,” I told him. A few orders later the camera was following something beyond the vines, something we could only catch glimpses of.
“Andrews, you know that we treat everything foreign as hostile,” Jefferson reminded him. “I don’t care what you find down there, you destroy it.”
With that cold warning, Andrews nodded in reply and gestured for his team to follow as he proceeded down the tunnels. I was not looking forward to seeing what he found, but I paid close attention to those slight movements beyond my sight nonetheless, hoping to glimpse at something that told it wasn’t dangerous