Colonel Pak was putting together a small strike team of soldiers to intercept the Americans before they reached the control centre at the face.
Pak knew the face would be their goal once they had discovered the tunnel, and as there was no sign of a land attack, he assumed they could only be approaching underground.
The tunnel at the north end was mostly similar to the section where Delaney’s team had been up until now.
The only difference was that there existed a three-part delta where the main tunnel ended.
Pak’s team had exited the control room and descended another ramp, slanting thirty degrees downward to the main tunnel.
At the bottom of the ramp, which was lit by an eerie blue fluorescence, the soldiers had entered the tunnel, and looking left and right, noticed two other tunnels branching off to either side.
These tunnels were about half the diameter of the larger one, and curved around and down in wide arcs away from the centre.
They were runoff tunnels for the water which powered the turbine.
Unlike the main tunnel, they were unlit. Dark shafts leading to nowhere. Probably hundreds of miles deep for all Pak knew.
Pak walked into the main tunnel with his men following behind.
He hated the tunnel. It gave him the creeps—claustrophobia. Nothing troubled him more than the thought of being trapped down here when the water started to flow.
The soldiers with him, twelve in all, carried bullpup rifles. Four of them also carried cases containing C4 explosives.
Pak had only been in this part of the tunnel once before—when they had first breached the control room door. It was from one end of the control room, where the blue-lit, ramped corridor extended from. He had taken a moment to check where that door led, and upon seeing the tunnel, quickly retreated to the safety of the control centre.
This time, he had been sent here specifically by General Kwan. All he wanted to do now was get the job done and get out as quickly as possible.
The job—plant explosives at the end of the tunnel.
The idea being, once Kwan’s army had been transported to Mars through the Hellas Pyramid Trojan Device, he would destroy the tunnel and the control room to stop other armies, specifically the Americans, from following. And, the cost of sending a large enough army in ships from Earth to Mars would be totally unjustifiable.
Pak ordered eight of his men down the tunnel and up onto the catwalk. The catwalk ran half the length of the tunnel on this side of the turbine.
These eight soldiers would be the first line of defense of any incursion by the Americans through the tunnel. They would radio back to Pak’s demolition squad if things got out of hand.
The demo squad would then set the charges with a timer, giving the frontmen time to retreat to the face before the explosives detonated.
Pak quickly ordered his explosives men to lay the charges around the points where the walls of the three tunnels met.
The team worked rapidly, placing enough C4 to level a small town. They ran wires from charge to charge, concealing as much of the material as they could in joints and shadowy areas of the walls.
If all went to plan, the explosion would bring down the entire north section of the tunnel and everything that lay above it.