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Ice World (?) (Completed: 01 Aug 2013)
"What do you mean? It is a mall", answered Hayze as he unhooked his repelling gear and looked up at the wall of snow beyond the three or four story roof from which he had just descended.
"Buried 50 feet in snow in the middle of Antarctica?" Edmond asked impatiently as if Hayze had missed his point.
"I think it is an underground street", Gage said as he looked down at a dark tile like surface dimmly lit only by the small beem of light from the roof above them in which they just came and the bright green light of several glow sticks which they had dropped from the roof just moments ago.
"An indoor street lined with shops... doesn’t that make it a mall?" Hayze said as he shinned his flashlight around inspecting his new surroundings.
"Okay!" Edmond interrupted. His voice echoed down the empty cavern extending into the darkness. "Am I the only one the least bit curious as to why there is a mall OR an underground street here?"
"No", Hayze answered.
"No what?", Edmond asked impatiently.
"No, you are not the only one curious."
Hayze shrugged. "We've been looking for years. Why are you so surprised?"
Edmond gaped at him. "We've been looking for life. Any kind of life. Microbial life. And what we find is..."
"Civilization.." came the echoes of Gage's voice.
The two men scrambled down the cavern to reach him. A sculpture stood in the middle of the street, nearly touching the ceiling of the cavern. It was a woman; a human woman. She was made of white stone.
"Imagine the time that went into that!" Gage exclaimed. "That's- She's incredible!" He ran toward the statue.
"Wait!" Edmond warned. "We should check for-"
But Gage was way ahead of him. He extended his hand to touch the white dress of the phantom woman. A blast of sound ripped through the air.
When he slowly opened his eyes he focused on Gage, whose left ear, the one closer to phantom statue, had spouted a steady, rusty leak of blood. Gage's mouth was moving and his eyes were were pleading for understanding, but Edmond could not hear the message, his only sensation was a quiet ringing that was quickly building to a roar.