He stumbled around getting ready as quickly as he could and he grabbed his own goggles. He didn’t wait for Duke or Honora to get a moving as he dashed down the tunnel towards the light. He had to see whether or not it had worked. He finally got to the end and cursed. Although the goggles worked better than expected, it was obvious that there was still nothing but inky blackness beyond the opening.“Did it work?” Hans could barely hear Duke he was too far away still. Hans didn’t bother to answer him he just crawled closer and carefully reached out to touch the glowing artefact. It gave off no heat so he picked it up and shoved it beyond the edge of the opening and into the darkness.
“Hey, what’s going on?” It was Honora shouting this time. It was pitch black in the tunnel now and none of them had thought to grab a light.“Shit.” Hans shouted as the artefact started growing warm in his hand. He dropped it pulled his hand back. He could feel the blisters forming where it had been in contact with his skin. “Shit.”
Someone bumped into him and he put his hand out to steady himself biting his tongue to keep from crying out in pain.“Hans is that you?” It was Duke speaking. Hans just nodded even though he knew that no one could see him right now. His hand hurt too much for him to even want to try speaking yet.
“What’s going on up there? Is everything okay?” Honora sounded further back still, but she was obviously concerned.“Hans?” Duke began to shake him and Hans let out a groan.
“Stop.” Hans finally managed to force that one word out and then he closed his eyes trying to focus on blocking out the pain coming from his hand. He couldn’t believe that a burn could hurt this bad. He had been burnt badly before, after the crash, and that pain didn’t even compare to what he was feeling now.“Hans, look. Hans? Shit, your hand.” Hans felt Duke grab him by the shoulder and lean him back against the stone. “Honora get the first aid kit and get it now!”
Hans tried to curl up in a ball, but Duke held him still. “It’s going to be okay. Just hold on okay? Just keep holding on. HONEY, HURRY!”All Hans could focus on was the pain in his hand and he prayed that he would pass out soon, but that blessing seemed to be out of his reach. He just gritted his teeth and tried to remember to breath. It was hard enough to just keep breathing. It was the feeling of coolness spreading through his hand that finally brought things back into focus.
“Hans? Come on, speak to me.” Duke’s voice broke through the fog in Hans’ head and he finally opened his eyes. “What happened?”Hans looked around and it was the first time that he realized that he could see everything clearly. “Light? It worked.”
“Hans, focus on the important things, like what happened to your hand.” Duke reminded him.Hans looked down at his hand, or rather what used to be his hand. He held it up and stared at it gaping, unsure of what he was really seeing. He turned it this way and that, but from his wrist up it looked all the same. It was nothing more than charred remains of a hand. “I placed the artefact into the darkness. I guess there must have been some kind of reaction. It doesn’t hurt.”
“No, we emptied an entire bottle of freeze spray on it. I’m not sure how long that’ll last though. We need to get you out of here and to a doctor now.” Duke motioned for Honora to start backing up.“No.” Hans glared at them both. “We’ve made it this far and whatever I did worked. We can see and I, for one, am not going home without finding out what is that cavern.”
Hans dragged himself forward with his one good hand until he could see inside the cavern. “Holy mercy shitbuckets. You guys have got to see this.”“Kinda hard when you’re in the way, there isn’t enough room for all of us.” Duke growled.
“And we should wrap your hand or something…” Honora replied.Hans turned around and started pushing his feet through the entrance first. “Worry about that later. Grab my good hand and lower be down. It’s not far to the floor.”
“You are certifiable.” Duke grabbed Hans’ one good hand with both of his and helped lower him down.“Great, now you both have to get down here. If you want to wrap my hand then you’ll have to do it down here.” Hans called back up.
Duke looked at Honora and shrugged before lowering himself down the ground. Honora followed him over the edge and stood in awe as she looked around the room. It wasn’t anything like what they were expecting. It was more than any of them could imagine.“What now?” whispered Honora as she walked slowly around the room being careful not to touch anything.
“I have no idea, but I think I want to see what’s in that.” Hans pointed to an object on the far side of the room that had the most lights blinking on it. He wandered over and studied the lights on the case. Symbols like the kind that had been on his artefact covered the outside of it.“I don’t think touching anything is a good idea. Look what happened to you.” Duke pointed at Hans’ hand. “Let’s be smart about this.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s just that justifies everything for me. I’m right and now I want to know what they’ve been hiding from us, all of us.” Hans looked around the room in awe. “This is my proof that I’m not crazy.”“I might still call you crazy if you don’t let me wrap up your hand at least.” Honora grabbed his arm roughly and started wrapping the charred remains of Hans’ left hand. No one said anything until she was done.
“So, now what?” Honora asked.“I have no idea. Hans?” Duke and Honora both looked at Hans who was still staring around the room like he had just landed in paradise. “Hans!”
“What? Um, I wish I knew, but we can’t just stand here looking like idiots. Maybe someone should go grab our stuff and we’ll set up camp here. That looks like a door over there so I think there might be more to explore, but maybe we should play it safe and not touch anything yet.” Hans walked over to what he thought was a door and started inspecting it closely, but didn’t touch it.“I’ll go get the stuff.” Duke volunteered. He was the tallest and could get back into the tunnel the easiest. Hans just kept inspecting the suspected door and Honora, not sure of what else to do, joined him.