The entire cavern rumbled for the third time in as many minutes.
A young apprentice shook his head and continued working. In front of him lay hundreds of vials and a variety of coloured viscous liquids.
His mind was buzzing from the constant hum of power around him. He was not young but the rough environment had aged him beyond his years. And the constant flow of high energy around him had caused his hair to fall out prematurely.
Growing his hair back was on the agenda as soon as he finished on his current project. The one which was bubbling in front of him; an apt fertilizer for a special kind of fungus his mentor was growing.
He picked his head up to marvel at the genius of his guru. He was helping the fledgling population of a planet survive the harsh and unfertile land by providing them with an edible strain of fungus.
Another tremor shook the cavern causing the vials and bottles to clink and jingle. The apprentice sighed as a splotch of brown goo fell on his trousers.
He heard the trademark swishing of the long coat and turned around to see his mentor enter the cavern. To conceal his thousand year life-span, Jake often changed his appearance. Presently he had settled on a stout middle aged body with handsome streak of grey running through his mottled brown hair.
“My dear Frank! Come now. Do not be so sullen. I did not take you to be my protégé simply because your last name is Einstein. It does remind me of my favourite experiment though,” said the old man, with a toothy grin.
“This infernal buzzing is driving me crazy, Jake. Plus this constant rumbling. You have to stop your fungi growing such deep roots. It’s irritating to keep moving my vials.”
“The rumbling is not being caused by the fungi,” said Jake, surprised. “I thought you were trying to build your pylons again.”
Frank was miffed. The pylons were his first individual project and although, Jake was very supportive, he didn’t seem to think much of it. “Then what is it? A real quake?”
“That is impossible. You know we aren’t on a specific planet.” The great inventor looked puzzled, a look Frank had never seen on the man’s face.
A thunderous crash shook the whole cavern and the vials smashed on the floor, hissing and creating acidic puddles.
“What was that?” asked the apprentice, coughing. The ceiling was raining stone-dust on them.
“Somebody is trying to reach us,” said Jake, trying to move away a chair which had tripped him.
“Reach us here?” Frank asked, incredulously. “But nobody knows where we are. Or for that matter, who we are!” Frank was proud to be the apprentice to the great inventor but he hadn’t wagered his life for it.
The old man looked worried. “I think I know. Do you remember the time we tried combining essences a couple of centuries ago?”