As we tried to come to terms with what we had discovered, I began to to observe around the room itself. Dr. Anderson had immediately run to the console in hopes of understanding how to operate it and turn it off, or even perhaps gather more information. Dr. Fedotik and his team were investigating the degradation on the bones. Our Zulu friend claimed that these bodies had had to of been here for some ten thousand years. Such a notion sent shockwaves in our knowledge of human development as we knew it. I joined Holt, who was investigating one of the large egg-shaped machines. The top of the machine shined an icy white, whilst black metal connected it to the floor. Panels on either side indicated a series of lines being measured. Heart rate, temperature, brain activity. This was some form of medical device. Holt gave me his hypothesis, that Holmesian method of his working overtime to understand what is around him. A scientific and medical marvel, he believed the device was some form of animated suspension chamber. Had we not been standing in city far below the surface of the planet Mars I would have considered him mad. I could only agree now. Holt began looking around the device, intrigued by something. Dr. Anderson meanwhile confirmed she had been able to figure out how to turn off the signal and had done so. Dr. Fedotik had finished his own inspections when a loud hissing sound came from behind me.
Holt screamed in shock, the first time I had ever seen him unnerved. A white and silver gas escaped from the side of the chamber and had covered him in some form of condensation. As he tried to recover we watched in stunned horror as his skin turned a rotten black. I rushed to his side to try and help but it was too late, his body suddenly ice cold. Such a horrific waste of great life! As I stared at his now lifeless corpse, the shock drowned out all sound and blinded out all sight for me. As I came back I was aware of the sound of a roaring cry from the suspension chamber. A gutteral, angry roar of pain and misery. The sight I saw of that thing crawling out of the chamber suddenly gave me a new resolve. A resolve to flee and leave this hellish city. I somehow found the ability to move my legs, taking a massive detour around the chamber as I yelled for the others to run. They did not have any objections as we noticed now the other chambers began to follow suit. Humans may be curious but we also have the ability to sense danger, and these creatures coming out of the chambers were in no doubt hostile. We ran as fast as we could down the ramps of the higher structure, me carrying poor Holt’s body as the condensation warmed rapidly. Behind us the sound of unstable footsteps sounded.
We made it to the map hallway and went straight in the direction of our habitats, barely having time to put on our oxygen masks. Those feet of the creatures were quickly gaining momentum, the roars of whatever they were predatory in nature. As we moved down the stairways we did our best to ignore their increasingly close proximity to us until we got to the ground floor. The creatures had become distant, perhaps having misjudged their direction or taking in the sight of this hellish city. This delay was the only thing which allowed all of us to get through the security doors without these creatures capturing us. We made our way through the short distance to our habitats, aware of a sudden increase in the coldness within the city. Getting into our respective habitats, we began making preparations to leave. Woe befall me for my final moment of curiosity and turning back. How much I regret that. Standing in the ground floor glaring at our vehicles were five humanoid shapes. Naked for all to see, their glaring eyes a burning angry red and standing just over two metres each. Large claws at their sides. All of the bodies were hairless and toned, two women and three men. Though not all of those who were frozen away, these had clearly been our chasers. Locking eyes with one, he ran through the doors and into the thin atmosphere we were protected against, before slinking back as he struggled to breath.
I went into shock, being forced in by one of the others along with Holt’s body. The journey through the city itself was noticeably more difficult as whatever had generated the power of the city had finally begun to fail, for the lighting within all these structures began to turn of. As we got to the waterfront we noticed that the sea itself had several sheets of ice floating over it and that the ambient temperature outside had cooled at a rapid rate. As we passed over the bridge we saw the ice slowly creep forward securing it’s hold over the surface. Beyond that, it was a sombre following our original tracks back to the surface of that dreadful planet. We paused only briefly to look at the destroyed rover, remindful of it’s crew. By this time we had placed Holt in a secure chamber of his own. Never have I been more grateful to feel the light of the Sun, even from further away than normal, as we passed through the entrance and returned to Outpost Mercer. We decided to keep the bodies a secret, claiming no ice had been found. In truth I told Dr. Mercer in secret what we had discovered, as I did Professor Hackenbacker when we arrived and made our formal report at Ares. Holt and the three others lie in the cemetery within Ares’ dome, and I hope that they will be the only victims of that city, left forgotten amongst that rusty sea.
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