The ruins ran underground for kilometers here. Millennia ago, someone had excavated this section, clearing out the vast, arched chambers, carefully cleaning the dust and grime from the alien mosaics covering the walls, running lights and com lines throughout the vast complex. Then they'd all left, when Earth had been lost, and studying the past became a luxury men could no longer afford.
Mara sat leaning against the wall in one of the underground vaults. She could faintly feel the ridges of the mosaic behind her back. One of the archeologists had left a flashlight on the floor of the chamber, however many hundreds of years ago, and it had laid there ever since. The past was thick here, a miasma surrounding her, the dust of so many, many years...
The bag from the MuniPrin's bedroom lay next to her. She opened it, flipped through the sticks – Mercury Imagery I, Mercury Imagery II, Venus Imagery... And, under the disks, a collection of books of paper: Observations of the Moon, Observations of Earth-Moon Space, Observations of the Earth. She slipped the last one out.
Somewhere, overhead, the MuniDef were probably still looking for them. A few chambers away, her comrades were probably resting, or talking, or otherwise trying to kill time until they judged it safe to try the surface again, to try to make it across the border. But she still felt very, very alone. The light of her headlamp seemed the only light in the universe.
She opened the book to a random page.
Imaging of South African coastline, 5/11/5018: possible thatched roofs and fishing craft, coordinates...
She turned to the front and begun to read.