"Something's weird about this level," Meredith murmured out loud. Robertson was directly behind her, but she wasn't actually talking to him. He had been quietly sulking ever since she chided him for kissing her. She could understand the heat of the moment, considering how thy had been fighting hard for so long to get free of that lower level, and a slight kiss on the cheek or even a peck on the lips or even a hug would have been understandable, but the way he had kissed her said volumes about the way he so obviously wanted her, not just to share a single moment, like high-fiving one another after a victory.
They had started walking and he assumed the rear position, refusing to talk. So she had done all the talking, when any was needed, which was seldom. Mostly she mumbled to herself and if he wanted to pick up on it, that was up to him. She wasn't his nursemaid or mother and she sure as hell wasn't his lover. She could have used the intra-suit communicators, but she didn't want to make this easy for him.
"Grow the hell up," Meredith mumbled under her breath. She hoped this time he actually had heard what she'd said.
Then she stopped short, causing him to almost run into her, but stopping just in time. She waited, listening, until Robertson finally leaned forward and into her left ear said, "What is it?"
She turned her head to answer and found his lips next to hers once more. He quickly backed up enough to give her space.
"Sounds. Up ahead," she whispered barely loud enough. She jerked her head in the direction they had been heading. "More than one." He nodded, understanding that she meant more than one person up ahead.
Slowly Meredith started forward once more and Robertson waited until there was at least five feet between them before he began walking. That was the best method in a tight situation like this. He didn't need to run into her at the wrong moment and cause noise that might lead to their being captured or killed. He almost sighed, wishing he had been in the lead now. He understood too well that she knew exactly what she was doing and had proven she could handle herself in any situation, but still, he wished it were his place to be the first in sight in case anything happened that could lead to death. It was just how he was built and had lived his life - protecting others.
Slowly they crept forward. A faint light was evident up ahead and Meredith reached up, her index finger slightly tapping the left upper corner of her goggles, disengaging the night-vision aspect. They certainly didn't need any bright lights blinding them. Robertson saw her move and realized what she had done. He reached up and did the same, thankful she was more familiar with these suits than he was. He was learning.
Meredith crept forward as minutely as possible until she was able to see movement up ahead. She stopped, her right hand behind her, fingers splayed to indicate for him to hold up. She surveyed the scene ahead of her, then remembered the function for sharing and using her right hand squeezed down on the lower right section of her goggles. Robertson was unprepared for the visual as his goggles displayed on their inner surfaces the same scene Meredith watched.
Three large, monstrous creatures of obviously alien origin moved about in the chamber before them. The beings were moving crates - at least it looked like crates, though as Robertson watched he realized these weren't the oblong wooden boxes he was most used to on Earth, but cases of some dark material that was smooth, rounded at the corners. More like small caskets, but with fewer angles to them. As they watched the creatures stacked the - crates - for want of a better word, one on top of another until they had a wall of them. As the creatures worked they realized there were far more than three of them. The beings were moving in-and-out of the chamber, one alien taking the place of another as each delivered the cargo they had brought in and stacked it. When the first wall was completed the creatures began stacking another wall of crates in front of that. How the hell many of these things were there and what were they for? What was inside these crates? Were they dangerous to Earth?
Neither of these FBI agents knew the answers to any of these questions, but they knew it was up to them to learn as much as possible in order to determine how to counter whatever these aliens were planning.
With the second wall of crates completed the aliens all filed out of the chamber. Meredith waited several minutes to ensure none of the beings would return, then motioned for her partner to follow her forward.
Meredith passed by the crates and peered around the corner of the rocky outcropping that led away form this area. She couldn't see any of the beasts anywhere nearby and returned to the chamber where Robertson was already checking the outside of one of the casket-like boxes.
"See any way to open it?" Meredith whispered.
He merely shook his head, wanting to keep the conversation to a minimum. Just in case any of the aliens returned.
As he felt along the outside rim of the crate he held his fingers located a slight bulge in the otherwise smooth design. He depressed the bulge, pushing it inward. A slight "click" could be heard in the silence of the room and the lid came away in his hands. He handed the lid to Meredith and looked into the crate, his eyes wide with wonder.
Meredith moved forward enough to see into the crate. At first she as unsure of what she was seeing, then her eyes, too grew large as she realized they were looking at what must be at least sixty oval-shaped eggs that were a translucent dark blue. Inside each egg was a small form that had to be a fetus of the large aliens that had stacked these crates in this chamber. Meredith and Robertson both looked at the rest of the crates and ran calculations in their heads. If there were sixty eggs in each crate, which they now realized must be incubators to keep these eggs warm and hatch them, then that meant there had to be at least fifty-two hundred eggs stored in this chamber alone. Were there more in other areas of this underground cavern? If there were, Earth was in serious trouble.