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"The Second Descent of Professor Lidenbrock"
Part 1 of 2
This time, he was prepared. After the initial relatively unsuccessful descent, the Professor decided that this time, he would be more patient, gather a team, and complete the mission. With his pesky nephew out of the picture, the Professor compiled a team of gifted geologists, Coast Guard Captains, ex-Marines, and a couple of mercenaries whom he didn't fully trust, but were cheap and willing to go on the mission no questions asked. On June 21st, the team assembled at the rendezvous near the mountain of Snæfellsjökull on the far western coast of Iceland, where by the failing light of the summer equinox, the team descended into the mountain. For this was the passageway to the Center of the Earth.
The Professor had embarked on this journey some ten years prior with only his nephew Axel, and their trusty guide, Hans. Their journey was cut short after multiple problems with rafts and the pesky underworld lightning, not to mention the hare-brained experiment with the gun cotton. Now the Professor was wealthy beyond his wildest dreams after selling both the book and movie rights of the adventure for a pretty penny, and going on the lecture circuit almost full time. But this lifestyle was boring him. He longed for the feeling that the original adventure had ignited in him. He could still remember the feeling, but only as a fleeting memory; that feeling of having something no one else in the world had. The feeling of truly discovering something new, to be the first pair of human eyes to witness an event. Of course, he hadn't been the first pair of eyes to journey to the center of the earth, but he had been the first to publish his findings and prove that it could be done. He knew, that in a strange way, everyone was an explorer and an adventurer, since the only time one can actually experience an event of this magnitude is to see with ones own eyes. This experience to them feels as though they are the first person in world to witness the event since it is only in their mind that they can see and comprehend the event. The Professor had written multiple papers on this theory of consciousness and now he was back at the open mouth of Earth, ready for his crowning achievement.
Because of his prior experience with this adventure, the Professor made it to the subterranean sea in no time, avoiding all of the pratfalls that had hindered the previous mission. He was on a fast track to find the one thing that had brought him and his team of experts here in the first place: the giant ape-like man who he and his nephew had left behind and undisturbed. The team crossed the sea faster than even the Coast Guard captains had thought possible, and came upon the land with the herds of Mastodons and giant mushrooms. The team set to work setting up a base camp and securing the area, just in case this ape-like man had more than a couple of friends. These ape-like men were, after all, over 12 feet tall and ugly as the day is long. Who knows what they would be capable of in large numbers? The team had to be prepared for anything. However, nothing could prepare them for what they encountered the next day.
The team was split up into two separate divisions, one to hang back and protect the camp, and one to explore the vast system of caves that lined the inland sea that seemed to stretch on for an eternity. The Professor himself headed up the exploration division, as he was the only one of the entire team who had any experience in this subterranean world. After a short hike into the caves, the Professor was stopped dead in his tracks, and what he saw before him defied anything he had ever expected to find in this desolate, seemingly uninhabited environment. Stretching out in front of him and his team were what seemed like hundreds of people, but not the giant ape-like people he had expected to see. Instead, he and the team were witnessing Regular People, like the ones milling around shopping malls and driving on highways high above them on the Earth's surface.
To Be Continued...