Sebastian, Henry and Marko moved on cautiously, exiting once again via an exit with three marks scratched in the wall. It was clear to all that their presence had been noted, and they were somehow being stalked.
After a short distance they noted that more of the small passages started to intersect with the tunnel they were following, entering at a height of between one and three feet, and at intervals of only ten to twenty feet. After a short distance they emerged in a a cave-cluster that was further honeycombed with the tunnels, in both walls and floor.
As they wound their way through the stands of fungi, Henry suddenly froze- he had spotted movement in the gloom ahead. He peered, and then hesitated in stunned amazement. faint clicking noises started to be heared all around them, and looking round other shadowy shapes could be glimpsed around them.
One of the shapes stepped slightly forward, revealing a hideous, six-legged alien creatures. The thing was roughly five feet long and stood about three feet tall from feet to head. It’s body was covered by a translucent, milky-white exoskeleton, and the face had two saucer-sized, multifaceted eyes and large, vertical mouths. Held in its front pair of arms was a Martini Henry rifle with fixed bayonet, and Henry could see its mouth parts move as it made a series of whines and clicking noises.
“Er, hello Old Boy. We appear to be a trifle lost” said Henry, and quietly asking the others “What do you think?”
“I count ten at least” replied Sebastian, “If they’ve all got rifles I don’t fancy the odds.”
“F…R..I…E…N…D….S old chap. Talkee English? Bantu? Swahili?” asked Henry.
“I say. I speak Latin and Greek if that’s any use old chap” said Bertie helpfully.
They placed their weapons on the floor, and half a dozen of creatures moved forward, to collect them: they also removed their other weapons. With their wrists bound behind them the three were marched off into the darkness.
The three were frogmarched on into two large spherical caverns. Placed inside them seemed to be numerous structures resembling giant beehives, made of some ceramic material. A large number of the moon creatures seemed to be busing themselves with a range of cryptic tasks, and a few were armed like their captors.
They were escorted along a series of passages to what seemed like an oak wooden door. A guard outside motioned them in, and to their surprise they they found themselves into a formal wood paneled study, complete with furniture, books and even a laboratory.
Sat on a sofa were Bertie, the Professor and Lady Glossop. A second door opened and a wild looking man walked in and seated himself at the desk. His hair and fingernails had grown quite long, and his complexion was pallid from lack of sunlight. He looked thin and sickly, but his eyes burned with the feverish energy of madness.
“You don’t know how happy I am to see you, Mr. Shaw” he announced, in English laced with a heavy Russian accent.
“Mr. Tereshkovitch I assume. Charmed I’m sure.” said Sebastian affably.
“Ah. The famous English manners.” said Tereshkovitch, acknowledging with a slight nod of the head. “I must aplogise for my appearance: as you no doubt stumbled across my ether flyer, it must be obvious that I have been stranded here for some time. I’m not exactly sure how long; the days are so hard to weasure down here.” He stopped and gestured around the room.
“Manners maketh the man, What?” guffawed Bertie, “At least that’s what old Doctor Wibberley used to say at my prep. school. Do you know…..”
“But why were you here in the first place?” asked Sebastian, cutting in. Tereshkovitch frowned.
“When I stumbled upon these caverns the first time, I was struck with the great riches here. Diamonds. Diamonds!’’ He reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a black leather bag, dumping the contents onto the desk. There were about 50 diamonds, some huge.” The same thought about the Ether Governor flashed through each of their minds.
“Of course, I had to return to Earth to get further supplies.” continued Tereshkovitch. " I also found that these …Selenites were unwilling to work for me until I had some ‘muscle,’ if you will, to back me up. The rest of my crew wouldn’t cooperate, intending to ‘serve the Czar.’ I had to kill them, of course." He shrugged and gestured to the armed Selenite guards around him.
“Fascinating creatures, but their discovery alone would not make me rich, now would it?”
“You absolute Bounder, you Ruskie Dog!” exclaimed Bertie. Sebastian elbowed him and he doubled over.
“I say old chap, no need for us to be enemies.” said Sebastian smoothly. “We can help you, and you can help us. We can all come out of this happily, yes?”
Tereshkovitch giggled. He reached into a canister on his desk and grabbed a handful of gray fungus, shoving it hungrily into his mouth, “Oh, you’ll learn to adapt. It’s not that bad, really, and it’s all there is to eat.” Laughing softly, he continued, “You’ll have plenty of time to adapt, too. You see, you’ve given me a ticket back to Earth. I knew someday someone would come this way again, and I would be able to escape. I can’t have you running and telling tales now can I?”
Lady Glossop sat up, a pleading look in her eyes- and started to speak to Tereshkovitch in fluent Russian. When she had finished, he paused and scratched his chin.
“Wery well Lady Glossop, wery well. You have convinced me” he smiled. “I am sure you will make a most diverting travelling companion for my amusement.” He clapped his hands, and two of the Guards stepped forward and lifted Lady Glossop, carrying her outside the second door
“You absolute Hound, Tereshkovitch!” shouted Sebastian, “I’ll see that you pay for this!”
“Tut, tut Captain Shaw” laughed Tereshkovitch. "My guards are out searching for your ether flyer now. Once they find it, I’ll be on my way with my new….friend.
“The Selenites of course believe that I’ll return with more technological treasures for them; they are quite gullible. I shall leave you to puzzle out a way to make my excuses for me, eh?”
He scooped the diamonds back into his bag and shoved them into a pocket. “Au revoir, gentlemen.” Tereshkovitch then issued some clicking commands, and the guards led the group away.