“Anderson, switch power from that radio to your auspex, and make sure it’s on silent.” Sgt. Chavez commanded softly.
There was a small clicking sound as the static wafting through the radio was cut off suddenly. The sudden silence put everyone’s nerves on edge. No one liked the feel of this secretive underground assignment, and the lack of any noise just reminded them how out of their element they were. The troopers waited in waist deep “water”, nobody asking or wanting to ask what else was in the water with them. The auspex clicked on, a sonar-like beacon sent silently out through the surrounding tunnels, providing a map and also a small level of comfort to the troopers. Their eyes could see only as far as their tac-light, but the auspex had no such shortcomings.
Rhythmic pulses of light lit Anderson’s face as the auspex display glowed faintly. No sound was emitted as the machine was calibrated for the squad. The field shown on the screen soon expanded and showed the rest of the squad as small green dots close to the center of the display. Nodding an affirmative to the Sergeant, the squad then continued moving out. Small breakers in the waist deep water accompanied the squad’s renewed movement as the troopers resumed their movement. Cut off from the outside world now totally, every man’s thoughts turned toward the dank tunnel and the steady drip of water off the pipes overhead.
They had moved about 20 meters deeper into the tunnel when the auspex display began to change. Anderson looked at it in confusion and hurriedly signaled Sgt. Chavez while hitting it softly.
“What’s wrong now?”
“I don’t know Sergeant, it was working fine a minute ago but we just made contact. It was weird, it was there for a second and then gone, I have no idea what the hell’s going on with the equipment.”
“Shit, let me take a look at it.” Sgt. Chavez cursed quietly as he reached for the auspex from Anderson’s hands. He glanced over it quickly and hit it against his chest plate violently while cursing just as violently. The auspex display changed again, the ugly red dot disappearing silently into the soft yellow hues. The scanning pulses had not been disturbed in their rhythmic dance the entire episode.
“No friggin way there’s a contact that big in these tunnels, I didn’t sign up for that shit.” The Sergeant murmured as he took his position in the column again. He tossed the auspex over his shoulder back to Anderson who caught it with shaking hands as he resumed his own place in the formation. A couple of men shook their heads at the comical scene of Anderson trying to catch the auspex without a light, but most kept their gaze determinedly outward.
Just as they moved out there was a small, terrified gasp from Anderson in the back of the formation. Signaling again for the Sergeant, he hurriedly made his way to the front of the formation. Cringing both outwardly and inwardly, Sergeant Chavez met him in the middle.
“Alright, now what?”
Anderson said nothing but pointed to the auspex with a shaking finger.
“Dammit, private hold it still.” Sergeant Chavez cursed again as he grabbed the shaky private’s wrist. Not believeing what he saw, Chavez held onto Anderson’s wrist for almost a minute before releasing him and turning back to the squad. He issued orders in a low clipped tone and left Anderson alone to contemplate the auspex display.
The contact had returned.