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Chapter 5:
THE ESCAPE

"Kyou klar not kuman like k'Doctor?"
The voice is a horrible abomination of English, speaking with the inset sideways jaws of one of the guards.

K'CHUK'S STORY

THE SELENITE GUARD who can speak English (the only one of his kind that can do so) will tell the humans that his name is K'chuk. His command of the language is fair, but his inability to form certain words will restrict him, and he will be difficult to understand at times.

K'chuk is a "retainer of knowledge," a specific subgroup of Selenite devoted to the pursuit of knowledge through memorization. He was therefore able to pick up much of the English language from Tereshkovitch, who speaks it occasionally, and from the English books the Russian has in his cavern. Obviously Tereshkovitch, despite his contact with the Selenites over this long period of time, is too consumed with his madness and greed to have noticed these subtle differences between the creatures, and has no idea that K'chuk understood his rambling soliloquy to the players.

K'chuk will explain that he has no quarrel with the characters and is simply following orders. The Doctor (Tereshkovitch), he explains, has been a benefactor to K'chuk's community. He gave them improved techniques for growing fungus, which freed drones to work in the mines. This has proven to be hard and dangerous work, and after several drones died as a result, the rest refused to continue the work. Tereshkovitch left and then returned with rifles, armed a group of Selenites, and seized power. The Selenites he armed are all former custodians, and he appealed to their sense of duty to the community as a whole. The mine would produce stones which Tereshkovitch would trade to the first Earthmen who came to visit to receive technological devices which would further improve the Selenites' lot.

I  thought K'Chuk deserved his own NPC  character sheet, so I made one.

K'Chuk (Veteran NPC)
K'chuk is a "retainer of knowledge," a specific subgroup of Selenite devoted to the pursuit of knowledge through memorization. As such he is completely dedicated to the accurate transmission and storage of information and is incapable of lying, though he will not necessarily volunteer information to those he does not trust.

K'Chuk was initially excited at the arrival of humans, since nothing like that had happened to the Selenites in a long time. He has since become a little jaded by the recent events and is now much more cautious than before. He does not like the way Tereshkovitch runs things but so far has not seen any better alternative.

AttributesSkills

Str:1
Agl:5 Stealth 4, Marksmanship 3 (carbine)
End:2 Wilderness Travel 3 (spelunking)
Int:4 Observation 4, Arts 4 (Selenite History)
Chr:3 Eloquence 3, Linguistics 4 (Russian, English)
Soc:6 Leadership 5, Memorization 5, Paintmaking 3
 

     Motives: Loyal, Honest, Wise.

Now, however, K'chuk suspects that Tereshkovitch has lied to him all along and that he intends to abandon the Selenites and never return. Too many of K'chuk's nestlings have died in the mines in the name of progress for him to allow Tereshkovitch to make good his escape without at least trying to defeat him. K'chuk is a reasonable Selenite who will no doubt see the wisdom of making common cause with the characters, provided they can convince him that they are not as treacherous as his erstwhile master. If so, he will be willing to aid the players in gaining the support of the rest of the community and in bringing Tereshkovitch to "justice."

It shouldn't be too hard for K'Chuk to be convinced; after all, if the players can't turn K'Chuk, then they have to take on the Selenites alone. If so, the unarmed Selenites will not oppose the characters, but they will not help them either. If K'Chuk is killed, the players will have no way of communiicating to the Selenites aside from Tereshkovitch (or several months of extensive linguistic study). This could be a serious loss.
Because of their brief tour of the Selenite community and their conversations with K'chuk, the expedition will gain quite a bit of knowledge about the Selenites. The referee should make available the information presented so far on the layout of the caverns and the structure of Selenite society. A vital piece of information concerns the forces available to both parties, and K'chuk will provide complete information on the Selenite community and its probable loyalties.

The total population of the community is about 150, of which over 100 are drones. Of the 40 custodians, 29 are armed and loyal to Tereshkovitch, and can be expected to fight. The remaining 10 custodians are less satisfied with the direction of Tereshkovitch's "progress" and would certainly join in the revolt if K'chuk were part of it. As a retainer of knowledge, K'chuk's judgement is highly respected, and his support for Tereshkovitch has had much more to do with Tereshkovitch's success than he imagines. The drones are almost universally disaffected and can be expected to join any fight which K'chuk leads. Finally, K'chuk tells the players that Tereshkovitch and five armed custodians have left the settlement to find Grant's ether flyer, leaving the remaining guards leaderless. Their numbers and weapons are still formidable, but the revolt begins to look like it has a chance.

ESCAPE FROM THE HEART OF LUNA

THE ESCAPE from the clutches of Doctor Tereshkovitch will be a two-part process. First, with the help of K'chuk, the players will have to overpower the three other guards in the prison chamber. This move will give them four Remington breech-loading carbines as armament, with 20 rounds of ammunition each. Next, they will have to recruit assistance from the drones to overpower Tereshkovitch's armed Selenites.

TOTAL FORCES

BESIDES K'CHUK, who has already changed sides, Tereshkovitch has 29 former custodians armed and loyal to him. These Selenites may not be recruited, but must be fought. Three will have been overpowered in the prison chamber and five more are outside the settlement with Tereshkovitch, leaving 21 present to be dealt with. These custodians will be referred to as armed Selenites, and their location at the time of the escape is marked on the map. There are another 10 custodians in the hives and nursery who can be convinced to fight if merely contacted. K'chuk, obviously, will have to do the talking. Their positions are also given on the map provided.

Over 100 drones work in the settlement. They can be recruited, but it is difficult to get their attention and elicit a quick response. When K'chuk enters a chamber with the humans, he may begin shouting to the drones to join the rebellion. They will begin moving and fighting on the second combat turn after that, and only one die's worth will join the fray per turn. For example, K'chuk and the humans enter the nursery on turn 1. That same turn the custodians in the room may move and attack with the humans. On turn 3, one die of drones will also join in, and an additional die's worth will join in each turn after that until all 17 have joined in.

Tereshkovitch and five armed Selenites are out of the settlement searching for Grant's ether flyer in the gorge when the expedition makes its escape attempt. Whatever the outcome of the attempt, they will not return to the settlement until after all combat is completed.

Administering the Escape Attempt: Allow the humans to move from connected chamber to connected chamber. Administer the encounters in each chamber according to the example provided above. Selenites are not terribly intelligent creatures and have very little experience in combat situations. Even though the ruckus caused in one chamber would normally alert others nearby, Selenites find it hard to deal with problems so remote—encounters will be handled one chamber at a time.

Conclusion of the Escape Attempt: Once all of the armed Selenites have been eliminated, the grateful drones and custodians will begin repairing the damage to the village and caring for the injured. The humans have their freedom and most likely all of their original equipment back. They need only wait for the inevitable return of Tereshkovitch and the final struggle against his evil plans.

The diamonds are found in the mad doctor's desk when the players go and search it. Why would Tereshkovitch leave the diamonds behind? When he leaves, he probably thinks that he is leaving for good. If the players cannot figure a way to get the diamonds from Tereshkovitch, and Tereshkovitch is killed in the glow fungus, then they will have to get more from the walls of the mines, which they can dig for themselves or solicit the help of the Selenite miners.

THE RETURN
OF Tereshkovitch

EVENTUALLY THE doctor will arrive back at the outer caves with his five remaining armed Selenites. He will be confused and outraged to find there are no workers digging or guards guarding. He will encounter the humans, the surviving Selenite drones will attack him, and a running fight will begin. The five armed Selenites may be of little actual help in the fight, but Tereshkovitch has numerous tricks up his sleeve.

If Tereshkovitch did indeed find Dr. Grant's flyer, then he is unlikely to return. However, Grant's flyer is at least a five day climb, and Tereshkovitch may be returning to interrogate the players as to it's precise location.
As a defense against a possible rebellion, Doctor Tereshkovitch has rigged many of the stalactites in each chamber to fall on his command.

They are triggered by a small explosion which he in turn triggers from a pocket device. All of the rigged stalactites in a chamber (or an outer cave) must be triggered at once, and they will strike any characters (including the armed Selenites, who don't know where to get out of the way) who cannot make a roll against their Agility. Characters hit take one die roll's worth of wounds. In the confusion following his first use of the stalactites, Tereshkovitch will be able to escape into the settlement to set up other ambushes. He must be in the chamber which he wishes to "set off."

These "rigged Stalactites" will probably be located closer to the edges of a room than in the middle, since Tereshkovitch has had an easier time climbing the walls and reaching them. Rigging the middle of a room probably requires a scaffold, which is more effort that Tereshkovitch was usually willing to put into this plan. However, once the players figure out that the middle of a room is "safe," you could have them encounter a room where Tereshkovitch actually did go to the trouble of building a scaffold and rigging the center stalactites.
Tereshkovitch's last stand
The doctor's final defense, when cornered near his study, lies in his latest invention, a freeze ray. Consult the equipment list elsewhere in this book for details of its operation. He will make his last stand at the freeze ray and may incapacitate one or more players temporarily, but the sheer number of Selenites now part of the rebellion will swarm the gun. Tereshkovitch will detonate one last set of booby traps and make his escape.

The GM will probably not want to allow the players to capture a working Freeze ray; it is a powerful weapon and might unbalance the game. However, the destruction of the Freeze Ray could be a part of the plot; either Tereshkovitch sets it to self-destruct when he thinks he will be overcome, or the Freeze Ray fails at a critical moment.

The presence of the Freeze Ray will probably have the players ducking for cover after it is first used, and they will not want to walk into the line of fire of the weapon. However, when it is turned on the characters will notice a humming sound, like an electric motor running. Each time the Freeze Ray is used, the pitch of this hum increases until it is a high-pitched whine. After about six uses, a sound like steam jetting from a high pressure pipe can be heard, and the Freeze Ray will no longer function, and is about to undergo a meltdown. Within two actions, the Freeze Ray will "detonate", freezing everything in a 10 foot radius, and it's core will melt down into slag, having concentrated the room's heat in that one spot. Tereshkovitch is not so crazy as to think he can still use the weapon, so he will flee through his secret passage at this stage.
The characters will pursue him through the maze of passageways and discover that there is a very short route to the gorge they first crashed in (although it comes out considerably below where the players first entered the caverns.) Tereshkovitch begins climbing down into the gorge through the glow-fungus, which is much brighter and has a more yellow cast to its light at this depth. After several hundred yards the players will notice that the acid from the glow-fungus is much more painful and is beginning to raise welts where it has eaten through their clothes. Should the players take shots at Tereshkovitch and hit, this will knock him off the cliff face and have him fall into the thick patch of Glow Fungus below, having the same end result.
At this point they stop descending, but Tereshkovitch continues, cackling insanely as the flesh on his feet and hands bubbles and peels. Eventually, his hands lose their strength, and he falls into a large patch of the bright yellow glow-fungus on an outcropping. He screams and rants as the acid literally dissolves him before the characters' eyes. A fitting end for a villain of such magnitude. This end need not be final for Tereshkovitch. If you wish to use him as a villain in further adventures on Luna, make sure that his body sinks out of sight into the thick glow fungus, while he sreams and writhes from the acid.

It may turn out that Tereshkovitch survived this, though he will have acid burns all over his body; he will be a mess of scar tissue, horribly disfigured, with only a few wisps of his wild hair remaining. At this stage his madness has increased dramatically, and he will naturally blame the players for what has happened to him.

REPAIRING THE ETHER FLYER

GRANT WILL be able to use the diamonds mined to fix the ether propeller controls while the rest of the expedition repairs the hull and gas bag. These repairs will take only a couple of days. Grant then proposes that the proceeds of the sale of the remaining diamonds be put in trust for K'chuk's people to finance importation of some technological equipment more appropriate to their needs than Remington .50-caliber breech-loaders. Assuming the characters agree, K'chuk's gift (see below) will be presented to all of them. If the players do not agree, then Grant will pledge his share at least, and K'chuk will present the medallion to him.

FURTHER ADVENTURES ON LUNA

LUNA REPRESENTS a vast potential for further exploration. Maps similar to those shown here can go on virtually forever, taking adventurous characters deeper and deeper into the Lunar surface, to come face to face with the heart of the Selenite world. Their riches can be discovered, their knowledge learned, and their whole world mapped out for the glory of the crown.

Setting up individual provinces within the Moon will be tricky, but possible. It might be possible to make the gray or brown fungus or Lunar rat meat a delicacy in countries like France, and tremendous profits could be made. The diamonds on Luna seem to be universally flawed, but they will be in demand for industrial use. A few additional adventures on Luna might finance bigger and better adventures to come.

Finally, as the players take their leave of the Selenites, K'chuk takes a moment to thank them for all that they have done, and as a token of his gratitude, he presents them with a medallion of a highly polished, silvery metal which distinctly casts a yellow-red glow. The medallion is clearly not the work of K'chuk's people, and, aside from the designs and runes carved into it, it would appear to be machined. K'chuk does not know its origin, only that his people have had it since before the memory of the retainers of knowledge. Perhaps the answer lies deeper in the interior of the Moon, if someday a party can brave the dangers of the deadly, yellow glow-fungus. The ceremony where the players are presented with this gift will occur in the strange room that the players explored in Cluster #5. This room is in fact a Selenite "Temple", and the orb suspended from the ceiling is an icon of their Goddess, the Water Mother. K'Chuk will invite the players to attend a ceremony of thanks which will take place there, and as part of a baffling ceremony (K'Chuk will not translate at the time, though he may explain later) will present the amulet to the players. The Selenites will then begin "singing", which is in part vocal but also involves their rubbing their limbs together to create a buzzing sound. When this reaches the perfect pitch, the icon will start to vibrate, and the condensation will spray all over. That symbolizes the blessing of the Water Mother, which completes the ceremony.


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