...the most horrible monster she ever thought possible to look at without going in irreversible shock... Quickly she reached in her backpack, to find out as quick that she didn't take anything to defend herself. Where's Mr. Pepper when you need him? Then she grabbed Mr. Phonie - she could use some more light right now - and quickly turned the device into a flash-light. She was just about to start screaming - she heard about Chinese monks paralyzing their enemies just by screaming - and she knew she could scream very hard if needed. She remembered one night when she was still a baby, she screamed so loud that she woke up the whole street. Sure, there was only their house in the street that time, but she woke up her mom. Her dad was always drunk and could only be woken up with the sound of whiskey being pored... So here she was, shining her mobile flash-light on the monster... to discover it wasn't a monster at all, well, not that horrible as she first thought. It was a man in a bad shape, and while he approached he held a finger against his lips as a sign to keep quiet. Well, this one ain't gonna bite me at least, she thought, as he'll have to bite trough his own finger first... She couldn't laugh about her own joke. She could only stare at the man who approached her, and gently lead her to the side of the mushroom cave, where he invited her to sit down on some wooden crates, while he took a seat in front of her. 'Listen', whispered the man, 'and keep quiet'. 'I don't know who you are, and I don't care. Only thing I know is that I'm happy you're here, as you can see I'm not in a good shape myself. I've been wondering around here for months, trying to get out. If you want to get out yourself, we'll have to do it together. Beneath this cave is a whole network of caves and shafts that we'll have to cross to find an exit. You shall be my eyes and my legs, I know the way.' Zach holds up her hand, 'wait a minute', she whispered, 'what's going on here?'. The man continued, 'my dear', you don't know anything from what's happening here. Look around you, see the mushroom fields? All fake. It's a cover for the people from the Island to make them believe they are cultivating mushrooms here. Seen the dragon cave upstairs? The police arresting that guy for stealing the stuff companies provide for testing the cases? Fake! The feds think they got the criminal, they are so wrong. It's a cover for what's happening downstairs. Seen any dragon? He was a fake, he's already back to the museum he belongs to. All fake. I'll tell you what's really happening here. Have you seen those names carved on that rock? Professor Lidenbrock, Professor Challenger, John Carter and Dejah Thoris , Dobrynya Nikitich, Sherlock Holmes, etc... there were dozens more, all expedition leaders traveling to the centre of the earth. Some pretend they reached it, some never came back. But most of them came back and felt reborn. I've found out why. For hundreds of years there's an organization working in these caves, who captures the men traveling trough while on their expedition. They kill them and replace them by a look-alike, and when these man return from their expedition, they use their acquired fortune and fame to climb up on the echelons of society...' 'But why?' Zach asked while listening with fascination, 'Why? They want world domination, of course. They do the same with world leaders that come to visit these caves. All look-alike speak secretly to their heads of state about the powerful artifacts they found here - which isn't totally lied - and then all leaders planned a visit to the caves in their hidden agenda. They come here blinded by the power they could get, without anyone knowing, and get all replaced by look-alike. This is been happening since hundreds of years...' 'My god!', Zach stood, 'we have to do something! Can't we call the police?' 'No use', replied the man, 'all police staff have been replaced already by people of their own. There's no-one we can call for help. Not even the one who Really Always Makes Brilliant Operations
, some call him andree, in Hollywood they simply call him RAMBO
...' Then the man took a piece of paper from his pocket. 'I've been wandering around in these caves long enough to make a map' he continued 'best option we have is to go in to find a way out' (Heh? Wasn't that a song from Genesis "You got to get in to get out"? Zach thought)? 'Meaning we'll really have to go for the center to find a way out from there. Here is the map:'
'As you can see, I've covered quiet the biggest part of it. They install a mobile drill room to dig their way trough the underground. Some shafts were closed after digging them, or made impossible to enter. We'll have to find out why. There's also some caves I didn't explore yet. I wonder what's inside. Then there are some interesting spots I marked with a white circle on the map. I believe it are fast transport shafts, though I don't know yet how they work and which one ends where.' Again Zach raised her hand, 'Hold on a second, will you? We have a map here, nice, but do you also have a plan?' 'Right', the man replied, 'I see you are holding a cell phone, so I think first move should be to locate the generator room, where you probably will find a way to charge 'it. You probably noticed there's no signal here (Zacharie nodded there isn't indeed) so maybe we'll find there a way to communicate with the outer world. I'm going to have a look in that map room - who knows what else I missed - up to you to find a way to get to that power room. You have a bike, you're fast. They don't use weapons down there as they fear things could collapse with the blasts. By all means, try to stay low, and if anything goes wrong, we'll see each other in the garden. You can find it on the map. It's an artificial jungle they created to generate oxygen, and a great place to hide. I made a camp there and have hidden lots of stuff that can be of help...'
'Very well' Zacharie said while she stood, 'then we should keep moving' packed her backpack and picked up her bike, 'but before we go, you've probably noticed my name - Zacharie - as it's written on my backpack, my friends call me Zach, but who are you?' 'Ow', replied the man, 'didn't I say already? I'm the one who invented an application that turns the beam antennas for our cell phones into brain activity capture devices. I create riddles on forums to make people use their brain to solve them, then the antennas capture the location of the working brain, and I record theses locations to a map. So I know exactly who and where my riddles are studied. Sadly the Feds threatened to seize my logs lately, so I had to destroy them and disappear. That's how I discovered these caves and the secret activity that's going on here... And btw, my friends call me Shocking Blue...'
Blue and Zach prepared for the descent...Battery Status 80%