Whatever group was responsible for the round up didn’t seem to care about any signs of their passing being left behind. Tire tracks crisscrossed the street and the soldiers foot prints were everywhere the dry dirt covering the pavement was thick enough to leave an impression in. There were other signs of the visit as well; candy wrappers, empty plastic bottles and crumpled up bags of snack foods were just dropped any place that was convenient. Which looked to Ghanis to be just about everywhere.
“Well they are either Cocky or overconfident, or just stupid,” Ghanis said with a frown. “By the looks of things though, they are well stocked.
He reached down and picked up one of the snack bags. It was red and covered with white letters that he couldn’t understand above a picture of a thinly sliced potato.
“Hundreds of years old and this stuff is still good,” Ghanis chuckled as he waved the bag at Jhax. “Says a lot about our ancestors though.”
Jhax gave an exaggerated sniff of the bag and faked a gagging noise.
“Can’t say I disagree Jhax, but it’s doesn’t make it any less impressive.”
He dropped the bag and looked at the manhole.
“Well I guess we tackle this now.” He said pointing at the cover. Being the bigger of the two and born stronger than most used only his hands to slide the cover up and out of the way.
Naturally the hole was dark. Jhax wasted no time however in climbing down and scanning for danger. A short moment later she signaled it was clear and waved to Ghanis that it was ok for Him to climb down as well. He dropped their packs into the hole, then crawled down into the darkness pulling the manhole cover closed behind him.
Jhax pulled some flashlights out of Ghanis’s pack and handed one to him. He knew any light would negate her night vision but it was better that both of them be able to see and he thanked her.
From here they had two directions to travel. They could either follow the tunnel north which oriented with the town’s main road above, or if they choose to, they could follow the south tunnel which terminated in an intersection about 10 meters in.
“It might be difficult to find our way back”. Ghanis pointed out. He did not fancy the idea of getting lost down here.
Jhax nodded, then after a short search picked up a fist sized stone from the ground.
“We just have to mark as we go,” she signed, and used the stone to scratch a large circle into the wall of the tunnel.
“So which way?” Ghanis asked.
Jhax shrugged and pointed south towards the intersection and started moving in that direction.
The two mutants explored cautiously, marking their path as the did so in order to easily find the entrance again. Most of the area they explored had been empty, it looked as if the tunnels did not expand much farther than the town’s perimeter.
Ghanis thought about the number of people he saw being herded into the buses. He supposed that they all could have been hiding in this place as it was, spread out through the dark twisting passages, but even has the thought entered his mind he also figured it was not very likely. There just had to be a place all of those mutants were hiding
It seemed to the pair that they had managed to explore all of the tunnels. Most of the intersections were already marked with Jhax’s circle. there was just one or two left to explore. He knew they were almost finished but he was getting tired now and had enough of the dark musty smell that surrounded them.
“We may as well head back Jhax – the place is dead.” Ghanis said.
He turned to face her so he could read her reply when they both heard a metallic creaking sound followed by a solid thud that echoed loudly through the tunnels. It sounded like had originated from around the corner of one of the unexplored tunnels ahead.
Jhax’s ears perked forward, and she stood alert, muscles tense and ready to spring as she listened for danger.
Upon hearing the thud Ghanis switched off his flashlight a tapped on Jhax’s shoulder signifying that she should do the same, which she did a few seconds later.
Ghanis directed Jhax was to go first. She brushed past him and peered around the corner. She turned back and grabbed Ghanis hands, speaking to him again with her fingers.
“There is nothing there, but it looks like it terminates at another dead end about twenty ten meters down the passage. Wait here and I’ll be right back.” Moments later she disappeared around the corner.
Ghanis moved up and tried to look around the corner hoping to keep an eye on her but gave up on the idea quickly. It was simply too dark for him to see anything. All he could do was wait for Jhax to come back. He kept looking around the corner anyway listening for her muted footfalls.
It was only the space of a couple of breaths before he saw the dim light of Jhax’s flashlight at the far end of the tunnel. Jhax was leaning there with her ear against a large metal door. She turned only long enough to wave at him, indicating he should join her, then went back to her listening.
When Ghanis reached Jhax, he crouched down next to her. “What do you hear?” he asked her.
Jhax moved backwards a bit, giving Ghanis a little more room at the door then pointed at one of his ears and then back at the door, indicating that he should listen for himself.
Ghanis did as she instructed, then gasped slightly at what he heard. It was barely audible at first, but as he settled in and controlled his breathing the sound he was hearing through the cold metal door was that of a young child crying.