Author : Sam Clough, Staff Writer

“Time?” Cal called down to Peter from his perch on top of the ruined building.

“Five more minutes, give or take,” Peter shouted up to him, “Molly has never been particularly punctual.”

They were waiting about two klicks outside Ironworks. A rusting metal sign informed them that they were welcome at the ‘Perceptible Science Development Center, Beta West’. Calder was exploring the intricate peaks of concrete, looking for wildlife. Peter was standing just by the main road that ran directly to town, pacing around impatiently.

The shadows had lengthened considerably before they heard the rumble of Molly approaching in a borrowed four-tonne truck. The truck was one of only three functional vehicles in town. It had cost them a lot of cash and far too many favours to get hold of it for the night. If Peter’s plan didn’t pan out, they’d be in debt for a few months.

Molly parked the truck carefully, and waved from the driver’s side window. Peter hopped into the back, and dragged out the reel of cable they’d found. He quickly hooked it around the hitch on the back of the truck, and pulled it out into the debris field. Cal helped him to secure the end of the cable to the largest rubble fragment. They wove it between jutting remnants of the building’s steel substructure, and pulled it tight. The truck’s engine roared, and they quickly cleared the worst of the detritus away from the centre of the ruined building.

Under a thick layer of dust was what they’d come looking for. Cal swept the worst of the dust away from the small, circular panel set flush with the ground.. Molly brought three packs out from the back of the half-track, and Peter threw the last small bits of concrete away from where Cal was working. Cal was growing increasingly frustrated with the panel. It was studded with buttons, and he was entering combinations from a notebook, but with no obvious effect. Peter shined a torch over his shoulder. Cal punched one last combination, and was rewarded by a thick ‘clunk’. Nearby, a large metal panel had sunk about a centimeter into the ground, and was slowly grinding to one side. Molly peered down the newly-revealed hole. A ladder was attached to one side. The beam of her torch illuminated a floor, roughly ten meters below.

“I take it back, Peter. You’re less full of yourself than I initially estimated.” Molly mused, staring into the hole.

“Who’s going first?” Cal asked brightly, shouldering his pack.

“I will…” Molly responded, slowly.

The three friends climbed down the ladder in silence, the light from their torches dancing on the walls of the shaft. As Molly stepped off the bottom of the ladder, into the corridor adjacent, there was an audible click. Every third ceiling tile began to glow faintly, illuminating a long corridor.

“There’s power.” Peter stated. “Some, at least.”

“We’ve hit the jackpot,” Molly laughed, “there must be so much good stuff down here!” She hugged Peter. “You’re brilliant, know that?”

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