The can opened with a pop and fizzle, burning cold in the unforgiving desert heat. Tinny sat in a plastic lounge chair and cradled the soda between her fingers. An umbrella tilted over most of her body, just leaving her bare feet to be warmed by the sunlight. Despite being in the shade, she wore sunglasses to cut the glare from bleached sands, scrub, and blistering sky that bled into the horizon. Everything smelled of dry heat and cooking metal, and the air was deathly still. Beyond the burble of her drink and turning of pages, the world was silent. This was the sort of day where nothing happened, just the way she liked it. The book she swapped her can for, some pulp sci-fi shlock, was one in a large pile she'd been meaning to get through for quite a while. The rest were functioning as her side-table, and a water ring had already soaked into the topmost battered paperback.Tinny was settled in for almost a whole hour before the sound of an engine snapped her attention from her book. The source was easy to find, a plume of sand and dust grumbling toward her.Tinny's first response was to accidentally spill her soda with a curse. She sopped up the cola that ran down her leg with the hem of her camisole as the truck came to a stop and footsteps crunched toward her. The person stopped a foot or so away, waiting for her attention. Giving it up for lost, she wiped her hands on her sides and glanced up. Black suit, black glasses with the sun glinting on their rims, dark brown hair. They had to be hot as hell out here. Tinny held out her hand and a handkerchief was draped over it before the agent gave her the package. A manila envelope, unlabeled, but surprisingly heavy.Without a word, the agent turned on his polished heel and returned to the truck, where Tinny could see the shape of another person. They backed up, kicking up more grit, and peeled out along the unmarked road. Tinny muttered some unkind words in their direction before swigging the remains of her drink and turning her attention to the envelope. She used the handkerchief to open and pull out a thick pack of papers. After a quick flip through, Tinny resigned herself to the indoors again to wash her soda-sticky hands and properly look over the contents.It wasn't in her best interest to question her superiors, at least not out loud. But if Tinny could even find who they were, she'd have had a few questions after reading her new orders. This was so far out of bounds from her usual objectives -- Tinny rubbed her eyes. Night had come on, and she'd only broken from her new assignment to throw some noodles on to cook, before returning to work and forgetting about them until the trailer filled with smoke. There were only so many times one could read about magical artifacts (though the packet was careful to never call it that, if it looked like a duck...) and expect it to make sense. There wasn't anything else she could do but take on the mission, though. There never was another option.Which was how Tinny found herself halfway around the world in a different desert. The same unforgiving sun beat down, and familiar grit stabbed like needles in the wind -- same shit, different day. It made her want a soda, but all she had in her pack was water and food. Tinny cast a glance over the workers already here, a mix of locals and foreigners alike, and wondered how many received similar unmarked envelopes. They were bustling around a cave entrance carved into barren stone, looking for some unrelated artifact that, in one of those contrivances that were so unbelievable, they had to be true, was conveniently located in the exact same place her organization suspected their "item of interest" was buried.She found a tent with a man hunched over a table and made her way to him. "Hey -- I just got here," Tinny said as soon as she had his attention.The man muttered something to himself, barely looking up from the table. When Tinny just stood there, he focused a little more attention her way. "Any experience?""I've worked with speleologists in cave systems in the USA before, sir, but am just another warm body to put to work," she said, having already rehearsed. Archaeology wasn't the sort of thing one could learn in a month's time, but the basics of caving was, and working with speleologists just lent that certain something extra to her story. He was silent, as though trying to figure out what to do with her. "Go talk to Jade. She's inside. See what she needs done." Then he was back to his charts. Tinny took a moment to look over them herself. It was a cave survey, littered with colored pins and notes. She tried to match it up with the map she'd received. Hers was far more complete. The dig had passed several possible locations already, but most still lay in unmarked, unexplored territory. She knew where she needed to be now."She's probably around here," he said pointedly, breaking Tinny from her study. His finger circled right at the boundary of known and unknown. "Don't go anywhere there're no lamps or people, and if you get lost ask someone for help.""Roger that." Tinny quickly scampered off.The mill of people lessened the further she went into the cool interior. It wasn't just cool, it was cold, especially compared to the sun-scorched outside. She unknotted her jacket and slipped it on, an unremarkable, faded canvas affair like her pants and bag, and put her sunglasses and hat away. Everything had an overlay of shadow as her eyes tried to adjust, and she carefully danced around the occasional person knelt on the floor or leaning against the rough walls.It was straight, then left. Through a claustrophobic little crevice and -- there! A room, tall and long, with lamps strewn up and markings on the walls. The size, while impressive, wasn't the largest area. Further along another cramped passage the dig hadn't gotten to on their map, Tinny knew, the cave system really opened up, and also plunged about sixty feet straight down. It was mostly safe-going until there. That was one of the possible locations marked on her map.Tinny glanced around the few people left. He hadn't told her what Jade looked like, but there was only one other woman here. "Jade?" she asked, her voice ringing a little hollow in the chamber. "I'm Sarah. Some guy out there, didn't get his name, said I needed to come to you to figure out what I should be doing. I've worked in caves before, but not on any digs." Right to the chase.