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Further down the tunnel she went, careful to look the walls over for any markings when she finally came across an eerily illuminated tunnel. The light seemed to be coming from the narrow pools of water lining each side of the tunnel, but was curious how it there could be natural light this far underground. She could only assume it was a reflection of light from the surface, somehow mirrored from its source above to the bottom of the waterway, illuminating the tunnel with beautiful patterns of gentle aqua ripples reflecting all along the walls and ceiling. Deep in the distance she could see a silhouette of an object set on a plinth in the center of the room. This had to be it; her whole reason for coming here.

“Liz... I think I found it...” Daisy muttered. She turned off her light to take in the scene while continuing down the tunnel slowly.

“Careful, Daisy. It's pretty but don't let your guard down. If this is what we think it is, it's sure to be protected somehow. They always are.”

Heeding her sister's advice, Daisy nodded and together they looked all over for any signs of a trap. The stone pathway between the narrow straits was smooth from what could only be years of water washing over it. The curved walls and ceiling appeared the same. Daisy could only assume that this whole tunnel washed out from time to time, but why? What caused it? The tide? No... it had to be something else.

Possibilities began swimming around Daisy's head as she approached the plinth. She turned her light on once more. It reflected all around the tunnel revealing a dead end, the waterway rounding the edge of the wall around the lone pedestal in the center, and above it, the prize.

“Is that what we're after? It's so... muddy.” Daisy didn't know what to think of her prize but she was immediately silenced by Elizabeth's hand gripping her shoulder.

“Do you hear that? That fizzle?” she asked. Daisy's heart began to pound and she looked around the room trying to find the source, but then her heart sank as the fizzle turned into a deep rumble.

The water began to splash wildly and receded as if it were being drained but before Daisy could satisfy her curiosity and look over the ledge, Liz shouted, “Get out of there, now!!”

Daisy swallowed hard and whipped around, gunning for the main hall. The rumble grew louder and louder and the cave's walls began to vibrate. She rounded a corner, ducked through the wall of spikes and over the pit, but it was too late. Daisy screamed as the water hit.

“Daisy, Daisy!!” Liz screamed, ripping the VR headset from her sister.

“Barry, no! Why did we have to send Barry?! That was the drone you got me for christmas last year!” Daisy said with watery eyes. She threw her arms around her sister and quietly sobbed at her loss.

Liz sighed, turning to the agent. “There, we saw it. Is that enough evidence for you?”

The blazer-laden woman glanced at girl sobbing over a petty piece of machinery and scoffed before locking eyes with her determined older sister. “...Very well, you'll have your funding. Your methods may be a little... unorthodox, but you are the best in the business. If you and your team can extract the relic, there may be an added bonus in store for you.”

“--and that sat-phone! It probably got ruined, too! Do you know how expensive that was, Liz?! I saved a whole year for that! It took weeks to program properly, WEEKS!!” Daisy wailed.

“Calm down, we'll get a replacement with the bonus, ok? I just have to get the relic,” Liz said, patting her sister's head.

“Can--*sniff*-- Can you bring back Barry's corpse? I might be able to salvage some parts at least...”

“Sure thing, kid.”

“I've got a still from the feed. I'll put it up on the monitor,” Rusty called from his workstation.

Liz, Rusty, and the agent all turned back to the monitor where they'd been watching the drone's video feed and a shaky image of the round muddied object appeared.

“...And I have your word that we'll be allowed to examine the relic at the university before it's donated to your museum?” Liz didn't so much as ask the agent as she told her.

“A museum? We shall see. If my client's hunch is correct, that relic may not make it that far.” The woman met Liz's scowl with a confident grin.

“I'm not going to risk my life if it's going into a private collection.” Liz stared the woman down for a tense moment before the agent broke her gaze and turned towards the door.

“You'll understand more once the relic is in her possession. The money will be wired to your account tomorrow, and we expect that muddy... thing before the week's end. Farewell, Ms. Darren.” With that, the agent stalked on her heels out the door and into the main exhibit hall.

“She's baiting you, Liz. Don't let her get under your skin. We'll get that thing and figure out why it's so important and we won't let her sell it on the black market,” Rusty said walking over to Liz and taking a good look at the image on the large screen in front of them. “I just have to know what's buried under all that mud.”

“Me too. I hate to say it, but my curiosity's piqued on this one too. Why anyone would want a mud ball is beyond me. It's got to be worth a fortune,” Liz said, following Rusty's gaze.

“Maybe we should just take it and sell it ourselves! Then we could replace Barry and make him even better! Barry 2.0!” Daisy cheered, pumping her fist in the air, a gesture that couldn't help but get a laugh from her small audience.

“Heh, until then, I guess I have to do this the old fashioned way,” Liz said. “I have a feeling this job's going to be different. That shady bitch from the Society gives me bad vibes...”
This is a ‘demo’ chapter, a sample scene rather, giving an idea of the characters and a possible opening scene for the story. This is mainly here to give an idea of what we’re dealing with and to get feedback from people. Please leave a comment below with any thoughts, questions, or ideas. Keep in mind this is a very very early draft and everything is subject to change.

Oh, and for anyone curious, I've started chapter 7 of Jessie today.
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March 23, 2015
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