Here is chapter four! Please remember this is a rough draft, and as the author I own FULL copyright to it. This work may not be copied/shared in any manner other than a link to this blog. Thanks and enjoy!
‘Get DOWN!’ Ally hissed in a whisper, yanking him flat to the floor. The little red dot followed. Panic caused a massive release of stimulants into her bloodstream as Ally desperately darted this way and that, trying to shake the focus of whatever tracked them. Her speed increased while Eoin gasped and protested at being hauled around. Back against a rounded metal wall, Ally did the last thing she could think of, and knocked Eoin flat crouching over his body, spreading herself to cover him as much as she could. Another red dot appeared and another, more blinking to life and all zoomed through the dark to settle on her.
‘Ally!’ Eoin struggled beneath her. ‘Don’t!’
‘WARNING! This is a restricted zone!’
The foreign sounding oddly mechanical voice made them freeze. With the torch hanging between them, Ally could see Eoin’s astonished expression. Half a second later and all around them erupted in light. Ally cried out in pain at the unexpected intensity, covering her eyes as they swiftly adjusted. It took pico seconds and Ally lifted her head, staring cautiously around. Still pinned beneath Ally, Eoin patted her arm. She absently lifted off him, mouth ajar as she stared at the massive oval structure perched on five skinny legs. All made of steel from the looks of it. Protruding from the smooth surface where a row of tiny bulbs, from which the red laser lights seemed to emit. Frowning at each other, Ally and Eoin slowly straightened. Ally’s body was braced and ready while Eoin flicked his thumb over his nails repeatedly, mind rapidly working at making sense of the device.
‘WARNING! Restricted zone! Approved personal ONLY!’
The acoustics of the tunnel made the voice boom from all around. But Eoin spotted the source. He tapped Ally’s arm and pointed. One of the tiny bulbs had no light, but an opening.
‘WARNING! Restricted zone!’
‘Is it going to shout that the whole time?’ Ally said with a grimace, fingers in ears now she’d decided it wasn’t a threat.
‘I don’t know,’ Eoin said and he walked closer.
‘Hey! Be care-‘
‘WARNING! Restricted zone! Present hand for identification.’
The sharp tone left an echo in Eoin’s head then a smooth sound caught their attention. A piece of flat rectangular metal popped out the structure, between two of the legs. It unfolded itself to the ground, creating steps to a doorway that became visible the instant the bottom step met the dirty steel floor of the tunnel. Beside the doorway a hand shape in the steel glowed. Eoin moved without thinking.
‘No!’ Ally stood between him and the stairs a moment later. ‘Don’t be ridiculous!’
‘Oh come on, listen, it’s speaking in old English. This has got to be pre Event, Ally. This is the find of a lifetime!’
She scowled at him, violet eyes flashing with frustration as she debated what to do. The lights above them flickered, and she realised they led all the way back to the entrance of the tunnel. Turning to look ahead she saw the tunnel continued for some distance and far ahead in the distance it looked as if daylight peeked through. Catching a slight movement from the corner of her eye Ally twisted and pointed her finger at Eoin’s chest. ‘No! I’m not bringing back a fried carcass because you couldn’t resist your curiosity. Stay bloody put. I’m going to check the perimeter.’ She shoved past him, clattering down the stairs and stopped at the bottom. Nostrils flaring, she inhaled deep. Metal and the scents of synthetic materials touched her mind, but nothing living. Not so far. Turning to cast another glare at Eoin, who threw his hands up in response then set them on his hips and glowered at her.
‘Get on with it!’
Ally stuck her tongue out at him, pleased to have irritated him as much as his irrational response had irritated her. Setting off at a slow jog, she first rounded the legs of the sphere, looking underneath at its belly for any types of compartments, or even markings. It all looked the same as the top had, smooth and silver. It could be concealing any number of weapons and she’d never know. Frustration made the hair on the back of her neck prickle, and she picked up her pace. Rounding out to examine the nearest walls then jogging along the furthest wall, she kept her eyes peeled for any variations in the smooth metal. The lights overhead flickered occasionally, making her wonder where the power source was located. If this tunnel and that strange structure were indeed pre Event then those lights were operating on a power generator from five thousand years ago. And that seemed sheer insanity to Ally. Her breathes came slow and easy as she jogged, the exertion no more difficult than an ambling walk. The long solid strips of lights didn’t reveal much yet. She’d spotted two very slight variations, but they could simply have been built that way. She’d have to examine them later. The daylight she’d thought she’d seen from a distance appeared to have vanished. Forehead wrinkling in a frown, Ally set off to try and reach the end of the tunnel.
Eoin watched as Ally got smaller and smaller then quietly, half an eye in her direction lest she abruptly return, turned back to the door.
‘WARNING! Restricted zone! Present hand for identification!’
‘Alright already,’ Eoin muttered under his breath. Taking a breath, and hoping like mad he wasn’t about to put himself in an early grave, he extended his hand and pressed his hand against the cool metal plate. The unexpected sting of a needle made him jerk back, staring white faced in shock at the outline of the hand on the metal plate. Just as he began to feel a nauseating rush of panic, that Ally had been more than right in her fears, the hand print vanished and what had appeared to be solid metal suddenly retracted in a tall rectangular door. He shuddered in relief then jolted when the mechanical voice addressed him.
‘Welcome Promethian. I recognize your type to be Scientist. You may enter this laboratory.’
Eoin felt a rush of elation and stared through the open door. With a judicious glance he measured the distance between Ally and the lab then quietly stepped through the doorway.
First glance showed stairs down into a spacious room. Standing there on the stair landing Eoin crouched to peer under the thin metal handrail and into the room below. The rounded egg shape of the structure leant itself to a laboratory. He could just make out work tables that edged the outer walls, with smooth faced cabinets jutting out overhead. A shimmer of movement made him jerk, and lean down further, eyes zeroing in on the motion. On the wall opposite, beneath the shelves, a row of images showed. After a moment they changed in a blink and Eoin realized he stared at some sort of monitoring system. Each image showed a section of lit tunnel, and of the seven images two appeared to be outside, above ground. The images of jungle, with no sign of raiders or just humans anywhere allowed some of the anxiety to dispel. Mesmerized by the images, mind frantically storing the data as he made sense of the varying images and where they were in comparison, his gut made a sudden lurch when the images changed again. Ally returning to the lab. With a muttered exclamation he scrambled to his feet and lunged back out the doorway. Then stared at the open door.
‘Close,’ he said in an urgent whisper.
The door didn’t budge.
On a whim he touched the spot where the hand print had been.
‘Door locking!’ boomed out the mechanical voice as the metal door slid down. Eoin winced at the volume then backed down a couple of stairs. Moments later Ally appeared, having ducked under the lab.
‘Is it still yelling? How do you stand it?’ she demanded as she climbed the stairs to his side. ‘I couldn’t see anything of concern, but I’ll do perimeter checks every hour while we’re here. I think I can rig up some alarms for night time.’
Eoin nodded, about to respond before she continued.
‘So, think you can figure out how to get into it?’ she quirked a brow at him. ‘Because I don’t carry anything equipped to tackle that.’
Eoin resisted grinning and stepped closer to the door. Instantly the hand print lit up. ‘I reckon I put my hand here,’ he said and extended his hand as Ally cried out.
The door slid open, the mechanical voice blotting out Ally’s voice.
‘Welcome Promethian. You may enter.’