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The tunnel appeared to be part of the ruins, as the walls and ceiling feature the same stone designs as outside. Dangling roots and some kind of fungus lined the sides of the walls. Only the entrance appeared to be dug out by someone or something. After several meters, the tunnel sloped downwards and into the side of a stone corridor.

James following the tracks and stopped as they entered the corridor. He examined the stone floor carefully and said pointing to the right side where bits of soil and moss on the stone floor clearly showed the direction of where the attackers went. "This way."

"Wait," James said before he pulled out a chem stick and snapped it. He jams it into a crack in the wall, pointing to the direction they are heading to. "For the reinforcements to know where we went." He added for Karl's benefit.

Karl nodded and started fast walking with his weapon at the ready. They have tested their communication devices earlier and couldn't get any signals out.

As they went deeper, they noticed there were several side rooms with the doors, rotted or caved in, inside, they found them to be some kind of storeroom, littered with unidentified objects and large rat-like creatures scurrying away from the bright beams of their lights. Some of the rooms were even filled with bones or rotting parts of all kinds, they quickly retreated out of the room as the stench of rot and decay were super bad in there.

The stone walkway finally split into two ways, and James bent down low to examine the floor. "Shit, I am not sure where they went." He cursed. "The stone floor is too hard and dry to leave tracks behind."

"So what do we do now?" Karl asked as he licked his dry lips nervously. "Splitting up seems bad."

"Wait, turn off the lights," James said. With the lights turned off, darkness surrounded them instantly. After a while, James excitedly said, "There! Found them!"

Confused, Karl looked around in the dark before understanding what James meant. As their eyes adjusted to the dark, the right side of the tunnel appeared to be brighter than the other. It highly meant that whoever grabbed Kristine, they have to be using some kind of light to travel.

Turning on their flashlights again, James marked the wall with an arrow indicating which direction they went and they set off at a faster pace. After another ten to fifteen minutes of walking and passing by more empty rooms, they saw that there appeared to be some kind of glow ahead and both of them turned their lights off and clearly could see a flickering glow at the end of the corridor.

As they came closer, they peeked out of the corridor to see the stone hallway expanded out to a huge hall. From their vantage point, several crude torches were hung on the sides of pillars that reached up to hold the ceiling where what looks like chandeliers hung limply. Sounds of voices and growls reached their ears and they saw several children like beings, mingling around a huge black pot set in the middle of the hall. Pieces of furniture littered the area and several sleeping cots could be seen.

"What are they?" Karl whispered softly. "Natives?"

"Yea, I think we found the natives. You see Kristine?" James asked.

"No, I don't see her." Karls peered around. "Wait... She's in the pot!" Horrified, Karl blurted out loud.

Instantly the hall turns quiet, all the denizens inside turned and looked towards the direction of the two of them.

"Oh shit, sorry." Karl apologized. "Ah fuck." The childlike beings shrieked and scrambled to grab what appeared to be knives or swords, as the blades reflected the light from the flaming torches.

"FIRE!" James yelled as the beings closed in. From close up, the size of the natives appeared to be similar to a 10-year-old child. But the long ears coupled with the wrinkly face, bulbous nose, red bleaty eyes, fanged mouths and bald heads seemed to be from some fantasy nightmare. They shrieked and yelped like hyenas, pushing and shoving their naked bodies at each other in their mad quest to get to James and Karl.

The bark of the M7A1 assault rifle and the boom of the shotgun drowned out their eager screams and cries of pain. James now understood why the techie says green monsters, as his one thousand lumens tactical flashlight on his assault rifle light up the creatures in front of him. The bright glare of his light half blinded the creatures making them flinch away. Their skin was colored in a greenish grey hue, most of them were naked displaying their deformed genitals, while others wore simple loincloths, rags or even animal hides.

The forward wave of the green creatures screamed in terror and pain as the bullets ripped into their bodies. Those infront turned and shoved back against the mass of green that was trying to get to the two humans. They couldn't understand what powerful sorcery they had, that threw thunder and fire at them. They tried to run away but were blocked by the crowd pushing from behind, causing countless to be stepped on and crushed to death.

"RELOADING!" Karl screamed in the cacophony of gunfire and shrieks, his hearing deafened by the firing in the enclosed area. James stepped up to cover him as he sprayed his M7A1 without even bothering to aim. The AP rounds torn through several bodies like paper in the tightly packed space. The flood of green skins soon started to falter as the panic from the front spread to the rear. Suddenly, like floodgates breaking, the host of green skins dispersed and disappeared into several other exits in the hall leaving behind a carpet of dead and dying.

The smell of voided stomachs, blood and chemicals lingered in the hall. Holding back his urge to gag and vomit, Karl stepped over a body of a green skin. "What the hell are these things?" He turned to see Cpl James, dodging a dying green skin's dagger, who then shot it in the head with his pistol.

"I have no idea," James said as he holstered his pistol. "How is she?"

Karl reached over the huge black pot and looked in. "Eh, she's naked and soaked in a bunch of other things." Karl gave a grimace. "I gonna tip the pot over."

He braced his back against the heavy almost meter tall cauldron and shoved it off the crude stone support. "Lucky they didn't light the fire yet." He noticed the firewood stacked underneath the pot.

James joined Karl at the tipped pot and helped drag Kristine out. Apparently, the green skins have cut the clothes off from her body, as several long cuts could be seen on her body. She appeared to be knocked out judging from the bleeding bruise on her forehead, other than that, she was still breathing.

"Better find something to cover her up," James said before realizing there was nothing around and Karl's uniform was a jumpsuit. He sighed and started removing his armour and harness before removing his marine BDU to cover her up.

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neo Koh

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