"There is a small opening back here," Martouf said. He was lying on his stomach, examining the innermost part of the cave. It was only maybe 2 feet high in there, and an outcropping of rock hid the opening, so they had not noticed it before.
"Can we get through it?"
"I believe so." He was quiet for a moment. "I feel cool air coming from somewhere further in, and I can hear water running."
Sam handed him the flashlight. "Here."
He used it to light up the passage, as far as possible. "There's not much room, but it looks like it opens up further along."
"We better not get stuck in there!"
"I will go first," Martouf said.
"I will be." He smiled, pleased that she cared. He squeezed through the opening, then crawled a few feet. "There is more room here already." He crawled a little further, then stood up. He ran the light of the flashlight over the walls. "You can come through. There is a large tunnel in here, and you can stand up straight. I have found the water I heard - it is a small stream, running alongside one of the walls."
"Okay, sounds good! Then we'll not die from thirst, at least!" Sam pushed the backpack ahead of her, as she crawled through the narrow corridor. She soon got out into the larger tunnel where Martouf was standing, waiting for her. "Wow, you're right! This is very wide... and that water looks very appealing. I'm thirsty!"
"As am I, but you should allow me to drink from it first. Lantash will be able to tell if it is safe - and it will not harm us."
"Impressive... well, go ahead, then," Sam said.
Martouf gave Lantash control, and he kneeled down at the water stream and scooped up some water. He drank a little. "The water is clean - you can drink it." He scooped up several more handfuls and drank thirstily.
"Great!" Sam took out her water canteen and filled it from the small brook, then drank from the canteen. Afterwards, she refilled it - it was always a good idea to have water, if something should happen.
"I suggest we follow the water stream. If we are fortunate, it exits this mountain through an opening we can go through as well," Lantash suggested.
"Sounds like as good an idea as any. Lead the way!"
They followed the purling stream for almost an hour, as it was slowly winding its way through caves and tunnels. The stream slowly grew in size, as it collected water from other small waterways. Once, they had even come across a sizeable, underground lake, in a large cavern.
Most of the way it was fairly easy going, but here and there they had to squeeze through narrow openings or crawl.
"I believe I hear something that sounds like a waterfall," Martouf said, listening.
"I don't hear anything, but I don't have symbiote-enhanced hearing, so..." Sam smiled.
They walked a little further, and then Sam could hear it too. Martouf suddenly stopped, and turned off the flashlight. It had been growing dimmer for a while, and they had made a torch, which they could light if the flashlight ran out of battery completely. "Do you see? There is a faint light in here," Martouf observed. "I had noticed that the light had become a little stronger, so I suspected that was the case."
"Give me a few moments longer, to get used to the darkness..." Sam said, then almost immediately nodded. "You're right. There's light coming from ahead! I wonder if it's more of that translucent quartz, or if it's an actual opening out!"
"I think the latter. Look!" Martouf pointed.
They had just turned a bend in the tunnel, and ahead of them the water was rushing out through an opening in the mountain - it was the waterfall they had already heard earlier.
"Yes!" Sam exclaimed happily, throwing her arms around Martouf and hugging him. "We're not trapped!" She blushed, letting go of him. "Oops, sorry!"
"For what? I do not mind being embraced by you. Quite on the contrary." He smiled at her.
Sam smiled back, still feeling awkward. "Let's go see if we can get out. Are you coming?"
They could not easily get out through the opening where the water exited. However, near the roof they found a narrow opening where they could just squeeze through. It lead to a low tunnel. It looked as if it had been cut by the water in the past, and then a cave-in of some sort had caused the water to take a new route.
The opening exited only a few feet above ground, and they made it out safely.
"Wow!" Sam said, looking out over the valley that stretched before them.
The mountains rose on both sides, protecting the valley from the worst of the weather. It was very green, almost paradisaical, with trees, bushes, flowers, lush green grass - and birds singing. Sam even spotted a small, furry animal of some sort, which disappeared among the greenery.
"It is indeed beautiful," Lantash agreed, admiring the view.
"It's surprisingly warm." Sam looked up. "I mean, yeah, the weather is nice again. Sunny and, ah, green sky... but still. There was a bad thunderstorm as late as tonight, and yesterday was the mother of all storms."
"Very true." He frowned, sniffing the air. "There is a faint smell of sulphur. Can you smell it?"
Sam sniffed. "Now you mention it... yes..." She nodded. "You're thinking hot springs?"
"Yes, that might help explain the mild weather here in the valley."
"You're right. It might... and that sounds nice, actually. I'd really like a bath after yesterday."
Lantash nodded. "I agree. Hopefully there is also some fruit or berries we can find - or perhaps we can hunt."
"Well, it should be late summer here, so there may well be some berries... as for hunting - I've only got a knife, so I don't know how easy that's going to be."
"I also only have a knife, but I was thinking of using a snare, perhaps. My first host knew how to make those, and I have that knowledge from him, of course."
"Yes... that might work. I'll just try if I can get any contact on the radio, then we'll go see see what we can find. Okay?"