Vicky stared into black hole to the opening to the cave. “One. Why is there a cave down here? Two. Is that water I hear gurgling away down in there? Three. Are there squids!”
YES. YES. NO.
“That first answer doesn’t make sense.”
IT IS WHERE CAVERNS GO. THEY DO NOT BELONG ON THE FIFTH FLOOR.
“Fine. What about the Squids?”
THERE ARE NO SQUIDS.
“How about right now?”
“Will there be squids?”
THERE ARE CRACKS THAT USE THAT ARE UNCHARTED. HISTORICALLY THERE HAVE NEVER BEEN SQUIDS HERE. CHANCES OF SQUIDS IS ONE PERCENT.
Vicky sighed. “Any other surprises or unknown or anything else I should know about before I go into this maw?”
THERE ARE FOUR TRAPS. THEY HAVE BEEN DISABLED AGAINST MUCH PROTEST.
“Good.” She stared at the entrance of the cave some more. She picked up a storm lantern and coaxed the wick to life. Yellow light splashed into the cave lighting it up a few steps for her to see. She gave the bandoleer a tug to ensure it was properly fit and her gun belt. She had her Winters Special, four single shots, the Repeater, extra bolts and shells and one rolled up welcome mat from Avera. Vicky was still confused about that last one. “If I’m not back out in a half hour, send the TBM after me.”
IT IS TUNNELING THIS WAY PRESENTLY.
Vicky stepped inside the cave. Her lantern light played against the descending steps further into the reaches of the cave. After a minute of walking, she realized the tunnel had curved and she could no longer see the entrance. A stream ran along side the tunnel and ended in what looked like it could be a moon pool elsewhere. There was no where else to go.
Vicky furrowed her eyebrows as she stared at the opening for several minutes. Putting the lantern down, she removed all of her weapons and extra ammo and placed it in a corner of the room away from the water. Next she stripped off her boots, jacket and outer layers and folded them neatly out of the way. She was happy there was no one else to see her, she’d probably have to shoot them. Repeatedly.
After pulling out a shoe lace she made a necklace of the brightest glowing castors to wear around her neck. With her other shoe lace she tied back her hair and slung the repeater with extra bolts over her shoulder.
Vicky stepped up to the edge of the hole. She was ready now. She inhaled rapidly several times and stepped out over the edge and plunged into the abyss.
The water was warm, not cold as she had expected. Vicky likened it to a relaxing bath temperature.
The ground stream headed off in one direction into the dark. At the far end she though she could see a light. The tunnel was large enough that she could have easily stood in it if it was empty. The current was barely noticeable as she swam through the tunnel.
It turned out there was an air gap that ran the length of the tunnel after she had gone through a shallow bend. This place seems awfully easy to get to, she thought to herself. She had been told it was of utmost importance and she was the only one that could do this. A frown formed on her face. Something was off.
Several minutes passed as she swam to the other end of the tunnel and waited to see if anything else happened before she made the final push into the chamber at the end of the tunnel. Nothing happened. She knew she couldn’t tread water forever waiting, so she was going to have to go in and hope nothing was actually waiting for her on the other side. Like squids. She shivered in the heated water.
She dove and swam into the chamber, rising slowly, the Mark VIII out in front, to breach the water line first. Vicky pushed her head above and blinked the water out of her eyes, confused.
The chamber was dimly lit, that was fine. The entire place was covered from floor to ceiling in wood slat panels. There were wooden benches and lounging chairs. A table sat off to one side. Steam filled the air.
“This is not a cold dark cave that holds the key to the Market,” Vicky said to the room.
She hauled herself out of the water and headed over to the table where there was a folded piece of metal paper.
Unfolding the paper revealed heavy stamped block lettering with one word, ‘ENJOY.’
Vicky smiled, and then laughed. She put the weapons on the table along with the necklace of glowing shells.
She was going to enjoy this.