AS SOON AS GREENLEY departed the next afternoon, Thyron got back to work. Knowing it was inefficient to wander blindly, albeit virtually, he slipped his psi-view vantage point to high above the mountainside hangars, from which he tuned his sensors below the surface. He emitted a flaunal gasp when the resulting holographic view revealed the compound was far more pervasive than he ever expected. Facilities visible above ground were but a tiny fraction of what existed below.
Five subterranean levels spread out far and beyond the Galileo Bay complex, which comprised the first level within the stand of mountains. Each level was connected vertically by several shafts that contained tiny rooms on suspended cables called elevators. As Thyron psi-vestigated the layout, he noted that security measures in the form of electronic sensors and mechanical barriers increased with depth. Likewise, the color and electronic coding of badges worn by occupants on each level, none of which matched Greenley's, as their driver had explained when they'd arrived. Now it made sense.
Beneath the deepest level was a massive solitary tunnel that extended for hundreds of kilometers in several directions, its psibrations registering as a magnetically levitated transportation system. At some point, he'd have to follow it to see where it went.
Returning to the second level, below and slightly offset from the hangars, he discovered a lab saturated with an enticing buzz of intellectual energy. Now that was more like it! He dove in for a closer look, gasping when he perceived the hostile psignature of munitions research. Its perpetrators comprised a mixture of human and extraterrestrial engineers who were examining components that originated with Galileo Bay's most recent acquisition.
The large head and short stature of one of the non-humans reminded him of Sapphirans, except its slanted eyes were dark, lacked pupils, and didn't bulge. Its extremities were longer, skin more grey than blue, and judging by its aura, possessed intelligence far superior to its human cohorts. Whether it was organic or artificial he couldn't tell, its psibrations so strong it overpowered any sign of the subtle frequency incident to life. There were at least three other distinct races he could see, only one of which had human-like characteristics, features of similar proportion, but much larger.
He hacked into one of the conversations, which conveniently was telepathic, discovering they were discussing how the device in question could be duplicated, since Terra lacked the needed elements. How to get around that limitation involved mathematical and chemical theories with which Thyron was familiar from his own physiology and innate ability to transmute elements.
Quickly bored, he wandered off to another lab on the same level where quantum fluctuations sparkled in multi-dimensional splendor. Maybe Terrans were farther along technologically than suspected. The quantum web was a place to which he often retreated when he needed timeless information. This was the domain of the cosmic soup, the universal time flow where everything—past, present, and future—resided. Since humans weren't typically privy to such access, efforts to build a device to provide it were in progress.
Who was this person, Alice, for whom the area was named? And why would these efforts be located in such close proximity to those pursuing weapons development?
His leaves tingled as the connection resolved. Uncomfortable, and hoping they'd fail, he descended to Level 3 where he found a residential area on one side and, on the other end of a connecting tunnel, a decontamination section more sophisticated than the Bio Lab. In addition, he found numerous storage areas, meeting rooms, and another large lab furnished with even more advanced equipment than the one he was in. A quick psi-pass of the individuals working there indicated its function was primarily molecular and elemental analysis that supported reverse engineering operations in Galileo Bay as well as Level 2 activities.
Consumed by the exhilarating allure of intellectual stimulation, he descended to Level 4, known as the Aquarius floor, which housed additional labs, more experimental in nature than the ones above. In a separate excavation on the same level he found a dark and relatively primitive containment area comprising multiple compartments, many of which emitted lifeform psignatures that indicated nonhuman intelligence. His cilia tingled with alarm.
Were they guests? Or prisoners, like himself?
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