THE EMPIRE OF PTARTH
Eibhlin looked at the map as the flier approached the southern lands.
The Empire of Ptarth was one of the few super-powers on Barsoom.
She controlled three artic ice-stations and a number of the waterways that
stretched south to the Phundahl Hills, owning much of the area between
the Artolian Hills on the west and the Dead Throxeus Seabed on the East.
She even had two of the rare waterways that originated from the Southern
Icecap, those these were dry much of the year as the Southern icecap retreated
beyond the melting-pumping stations. To circumnavigate Barsoom, one
crossed Ptarth. Surrounded by hills and the dead seabed, Ptarth had
been nearly immune to any land attack and was able to achieve power long
before aviation made them vulnerable.
Currently they were flying south along the easternmost of the southern
waterway, stopping at night for supplies and rest for their mission was
not one of haste but precision and that required that all the warriors
Moving to the other map, she noted that they would have to skirt the Otz
Mountains then cross nearly a third of the planet to reach Kobol.
No, not quite a third for at that low latitude, the map was deceptive.
Still, there was a bloody huge desert to cross, a desert that not even
the Green Men chose to inhabit. A straight flight would have been
faster, but that would force them to cross the Koalian Forest and
Koal was jealous of her territory. Still, three years earlier she
had arrived in that forest and she’d have liked to see it from the air
instead from under the watchful eyes of hopeful predators.
They landed at a farm roughly twenty-five degrees south and disembarked
for the night. Korad lying some 2600 miles east. By thoat, through
the northern tip of the Great Desert, it would take some 80-90 days but
by flyer, even one as old and poorly maintained as this one, the flight
was still near two days. Then she would see her new employer.
She had served Farran Koff, Odwar in the Navy of Ptarth for some two
years or so (she still had trouble with the Barsoomian Year which was far
longer than her native Earth Year) then, suddenly, disaster. She
had rescued Para Far from the Iss, returned her in safety to her father
and received the honors she deserved…. Until Para Far had told the wrong
people what had really happened. Her threatening to feed Para Far
to the silians, the Earthman, North’s seduction of her while she, Eibhlin,
was otherwise occupied with her niece and that nerdy Earth scientist who
thought Barsoom was a grand adventure. And her releasing alive the
Heliumite fop with whom Para Far had run off was just another nail in her
The last interview went better than expected. “Avleen Oobreen,”
he said, still unable to pronounce her Irish name of Eibhlin Ui Bhrian
properly. You are one of my best warriors despite your lack of skill
with a sword. You alone have never failed me. I understand
your threatening my daughter’s life when she called you a moorouk.
I’ve often felt like doing the same to her. But, I needed that fop killed,
quietly, to save me from embarrassment. To allow the …’affair’ (he
spat the word) to continue under your eyes was unforgivable. Especially
when witnessed by other people, including those Jasoomians. I understand
how you Weir need … sex… often or you die but my daughter’s virtue is as
important to me as is her life. And to be shamed by allowing them
to … rut in front of witnesses….” He stood, poured a drink and pointedly
NOT offering her a glass, and continued. “Then that Jasoomian!”
the man actually shuddered she noticed. Why would he feel that way
when the Prince of Amhor, Vad Varo, and the Warlord of Barsoom, John Carter,
are both from Earth?
Ok, that was her fault she admitted. They thought North was under
control. He had been warned by herself, her niece Janice and even
Kara to keep his .. member to himself. Then while relaxing after
a long trip north they paused in a small city that was, it appears, at
odds with Ptarth. While the two Weir were having fun and giving Steve
a well-earned fantasy, North took the opportunity to seduce Para Far.
Not that she required much in the way of seduction, Eibhlin thought, that
woman would mate with a thoat if it would embarrass her Odwar father.
Then the stupid girl actually bragged about her affairs. The word
got out and people who wished to embarrass the Jeddak of Ptarth used that
information to do exactly that. In fact, the only part of the mission
that went well was bringing the girl home alive. Now she sat there,
her tail curled and twitching in nervousness, waiting. She wasn’t afraid
of being executed... much. Red Men were terrible shots with a firearm
despite the thermo-nuclear rounds they used. And in close quarters,
her greater strength and longer curved sword was more dangerous than the
Red Man’s shorter blade. Plus she could always cut her attackers
down like wheat with her beamer. Still…
He sighed, then continued, “Panthan Avleen Oobreen, your services to
the Jeddakate of Ptarth are no longer needed.” He then held his hand out
as she removed from her leather harness the devices of Ptarth and the House
of Far and returned them to her former employer.
Then, sighing again, he continued, “You’ve always been a good
soldier, rarely flaunting your noble rank, never complaining about the
tasks we gave you and always succeeding. So in remembrance of this,
I will give you this last gift. The Jed of Kobol is hiring Panthans
for a dangerous mission into the Jeddakate of Jahar. The pay is good
and it will get you away from Ptarth and the gorthans who my daughter has
been courting recently. The flier leaves tonight and I will give
you an escort to the flier in the hopes that my warriors can deter any
possible assassin long enough for you to get away. Dismissed.”
She expected him to turn away but he stared, unsmiling which, she supposed,
was something of respect for her.
As she left, she saw two of the three Therns she served with waiting.
“Hail Avleen Oobreen,” Lakon called. “It seems we travel together
once again.” The man was actually smiling. For a man who a
brief century ago had been seen as a god by the people of Barsoom as well
as by himself, his reduced status as a common mercenary bothered him not
at all. His friend, Omal, was, as usual, quiet. Omal actually
resented his loss of status. John Carter had destroyed the Thern
religion and empire for no other reason than to rescue his wife.
Eibhlin hoped that the woman appreciated such love. Since then, many
of the Therns, white men who were totally bald and wore a blonde wig, though
some had taken to coloring theirs black, had become Panthans, mercenaries,
soldiers of fortune.
“You too?” Eibhlin asked.
“Well, I’m bored with Ptarth and need to see more of Barsoom.
After 500 years as a God being trapped in Heaven with naught but the most
beautiful women on the planet as my playthings, being mortal is not easy.
But, the hardest part is the constant staring! You are so fortunate
to be able to walk around with such total anonymity, avoiding the stares
of the people as you pass. See! Even now they stare at me.”
Eibhlin laughed at the man for his pleasant attitude. Yes, he had
white skin in a world of coppery-reds. He was bald and wore a blonde
wig dyed black in a world of wavy black hair. And the people they passed
had some who still revered him as a god, others reviled him as a cannibal
and a fraud who was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents.
But most just thought he was a man with a strange skin color.
Those who saw past the Therns saw a white woman with straight black
hair, uncommonly braided, pointed ears, antennae, cat-eyes, two thumbs,
ape-like feet, larger breasts than any flat-chested Red Woman could possess
and a long prehensile tail who carried the weapons of a man. No,
Eibhlin thought, no one ever stared at her.
“What do you know about this Kobol?” she asked.
“Not much,” he replied. “It’s southeast of the Koal Forest on
one of the waterways that stretch from Koal to Jahar. It was once
a part of Jahar then after that war it is said to belong to Helium though
I think that after being sacked by Pankor with no aid from Helium, that
may not be true, at least no longer. It lies on the highlands so
is arid but not fully desert. Han Kosal is the Jed though some say he is
a madman with delusions of empire.”
“Wonderful, we now work for a megalomaniac who resents his former subjectation
and wishes to conquer his former lords. Can this day get any better?”
she asked with some sarcasm.
“He likes women, at least exotic women so you may find better employment
in the palace.” This from Omal who was still upset that she had repeatedly
rebuffed his attentions. Despite the century that separated them
from their past, many Therns still saw women of any race as mere playthings.
A body to be used, abused and cast aside or killed and consumed when they
were bored with them. Both had expressed their interest in Eibhlin
simply because after centuries of absolute freedom with the ‘lower orders’,
they got bored with normal sex and needed … ‘more’ to provide the excitement
they craved. And Eibhlin was exotic enough to provide that.
Fortunately for her, she was almost four times as strong as any human on
Barsoom and both were smart enough to not draw steel on her for fear of
execution by the Jeddak. Dueling was legal on Barsoom, but murder
was not. Especially when the attempted murder followed attempted rape.
Although as a Weir, Eibhlin needed sex monthly or she would die, she preferred
the attentions of a hired slave to the complications of bedding a co-soldier.
At least the slave left when done as was smart enough to not brag about
The thing that surprised her most was that they reached the flyer, an
ancient hulk that should have been retired centuries ago, without incident.
She knew that Para Far wanted her dead and was hiring Gorthans, or trying
to hire them to kill Eibhlin but none appeared. Possibly her Thern
escorts deterred the assassin for who would face a couple near gods who
were among the best swordsmen on the planet AND an alien who could crush
the assassin’s neck with a single grasp?
The flier was required to land at the edge of the farmlands and the
Ptarth Noble who was in charge of this section of the waterway made certain
that there were plenty of his own guards around. Although she had
served Ptarth for some years, she was never trusted for a Panthan changed
their metal with the winds of fortune and she was no longer of Ptarth.
Still, Eibhlin wandered around for she was bored.
The waterway itself was a huge pipe buried deep in the ground.
This one came from the south so the water brought from the southern ice
cap was seasonal and when it flowed, much of it was stored in buried tanks.
The northern waterways also stored water but their flow was constant so
droughts were rare up north. Also the northern waterways had croplands
that stretched for a dozen miles into the deserts, here they were only
a few miles out and produced a poor yield. Eibhlin had the urge to
ask the Noble who he had angered to be sent here.
Climbing a watch tower, she looked over the area. Far to the East
were two more waterways, but independent of Ptarth, then hundreds of miles
east the Iss River that she had so recently traversed in search of Para
Far. But between here and Kobol was the Great Desert. This
part was the High Desert and not as bad as the Low Desert but still, it
made the California Death Valley she had crossed once by car look like
a paradise. She stared a bit, thinking of her lost life in Ptarth
then that made her think of her lost life in California which made her
think of her lost life in Ireland and then, depressed, she didn’t argue
when the Watch told her to leave the tower. Drink! Yes, she
needed to get drunk. Drown her thoughts in an alcoholic daze.
Seeking an eating establishment, for this place had one in a futile
attempt to mimic civilization, she ordered wine and as the Barsoomian vintage
ate its way through her guts, she began to talk.
She awoke in a blanket, naked, with Omal lying naked nearby, his sword
within reach. Panicking, she moved away as quietly as possible, then
checked herself as she heard a voice, “I didn’t rape you last night though
I wanted to. Frankly, Avleen Oobreen, you should consider giving
“Why didn’t you?” she asked, not believing him.
“Because between what you puked and shat, even I didn’t want you, much
less that slave-girl you tried to rent for the night. She chose a
beating from her owner to an evening with you.” He tossed her some
cleaning cloths and soap, “Clean up, especially your breath, we leave in
He dressed as he walked away, sheathing his sword as she called, “Thank
you for guarding me last night. I owe you.”
“And I shall someday collect,” he laughed back.
Cleaning, she again resolved to stop drinking. Especially the
Barsoomian wine that ran through her like acid and gave her loose green
stools. By the time she was clean enough to be around people again,
the flier was ready to lift off and the sniffing of her fellow mercenaries
told her that she’d need a better washing. The problem was that the
Red Man never sweated. They had some other method of cooling that
wasn’t the same as humans so when she sweated in the heat, everyone around
her knew and moved as far away as was possible. She may be invisible
to the Barsoomian telepathy but anyone with a nose could easily detect
her on a hot day at a dozen paces.
It was about 400 miles to the next waterway, one unfriendly to Ptarth
and whose relations to Kobol were unknown. And a few miles past that
was another, also unknown. But fortunately their tanks were full
so there was no need to land and choosing a part of the farmland that seemed
to be nearly uninhabited, at least the crops were poor and ill-attended,
they flew over it as fast and high as was possible. Eibhlin passed
out quickly and was revived only after they lowered to a safer height.
Even then the pilot complained about ‘those Jasoomians and their tiny lungs
that forced him to fly so low a Banth could leap aboard’ though all
knew he was more worried about the Green Hoards.
“I don’t know why,” she panted, trying to breathe again. “The
Huntdoon are northeast, closer to the Koal Forest, the Warhoon far west
and no one lives in this miserable desert.”
“It’s still a worry,” one of the other Panthans offered. We’ve
all fought the Green Men, even you Avleen Oobreen.”
“True, when I first arrived I fought and killed two who had captured
and tortured two of my dearest friends. I’ve also fought their alien
relatives who make yours seem like a sorak by comparison. Still,
I wish we could avoid contact.”
“What scares me,” one Red Man offered, “is the Iss. We cross it
in 2700 haads.”
“Why worry about that? It’s just a river,” another countered.
“Because it’s holy!”
“No longer!” and soon an argument broke out between those who
still believed and those who had listened to John Carter. Just before
swords were to be drawn, Omal and Lakon arrived. Though neither had
rank, both had influence for a hundred thousand years of being gods was
important to a world that thrived on tradition. Neither said nothing
but their presence stilled the fight before steel could be drawn.
Then Eibhlin said, “we have some ten hours of flight before we must fear
either way. For me, I’d like to get some sleep.”
“And a bath,” whispered another. Eibhlin shot him a dirty look
but could not argue though she did go on deck with her blanket where the
air was less confined than below.
She was awakened by a light prod of a lance-butt driven by a man easily
out of her reach for all knew of her temper. She was the only woman
in the company, one of the few females who took up the sword and the only
alien that many had ever known personally so few knew her real abilities
other than she was unbelievably fast and strong. “What do you?” she
“The pilot wishes you afore. He knows that you have been down
the Iss and wishes your advice.”
Nodding, she rolled her blanket and adjusted the silk covering her breasts,
for since separating from her niece-lover, Janice, Eibhlin had returned
to her habit of covering her chest. She adjusted her all-too short
skirt, wishing her could wear a longer one or even pants, then went forward
to find the two Therns there already. “What do you wish?” she asked
the pilot, noticing that they were stopped and floating some distance from
“Have you any opinion, lady Panthan?” he asked.
“From this distance and height, it’s difficult to say. When I
looked at the charts, that crater valley to the right may be the one I
entered seeking Para Far. It’s filled with savages that turned away from
the pilgrimage and went mad. My flier was shot down by Green Men
some 1900 haads north of here and this section I followed on a captured
thoat with no problems.”
Lakon added, “I have no opinion for I never left Dor until … the Warlord
forced us into other occupations.” For all his good nature, it was
clear that Lakon resented John Carter and would avoid using the name of
his bitterest enemy.
Omal added, “I patrolled the Iss often, adding stores and canoes to
the way-houses along the Iss. Some of my fellows still do so and
they are well armed. If we meet a Thern flier, can this ship fight
a dozen Therns, even with the help of we three?”
The Dwar from Kobol who had hired the Panthans thought for a moment,
“Unlike much of Barsoom, we of Kobol are undecided as to the divinity of
the Therns. We were tributary of Jahar then of Helium then sacked
by Pankor and during those times, our faith was often the only thing that
kept us fighting. I would rather not meet with those many of us still
revere.” He tried to avoid the glance of the two ‘gods’ standing next to
“Then we wait.” The pilot instructed. “We go back until we are at a
safe distance and wait until dark. Then when neither moon is in the sky,
we run and hope we are unseen.” And with that, the flier turned and
flew west for a distance until the pilot settled into a crater which would
hide them from casual observation.
When settled, the Dwar called out, “Listen to me! We remain here
until sunset in about four zodes. Then we load and run across the
Iss. Stretch, feed the thoats, relax and don’t get lost.”
This was met with some light cheers for being cramped in the belly
of a flier with a bunch of thoats and a smelly woman you couldn’t touch
made everyone on edge and soon the flier was emptied with some setting
silk for sun-shades, others wiping down their eight-legged thoats and still
others establishing sentries along the crater rim. Eibhlin was one
of these as Red Men are poor climbers and as she headed to the western
edge, she became lost in her thoughts and it was the water she stepped
in that awakened her. Water! They were miles from the Iss but
this deep crater with its thick moss was apparently a water collection
similar to many along the River. She moved around, feeling the water
pressed from the moss as if she were walking on wet sponges, enjoying the
sensation as she removed her sandals and walked bare of foot. To
the right was a darker red and a lot of mantilla, that life-giving plant
that fed anyone who know its secret. Approaching, soon found a seep
where she moved some rocks to create a hold for a pool and as it slowly
filled, she climbed to the rim, looked around for any movement and finding
none, returned to the floor to find her pool now filled with clear water.
She glanced around, saw she was alone and that the rocks hid her from
the nearby flier and so undressed and with sword nearby, relaxed in the
water, the sunlight warming her body above, the water her body below.
Taking some sand, she scrubbed herself clean then closed her eyes and soon
“Avleen Oobreen!” the voice called her to wakefulness. She saw
Omal watching intently with dagger in hand. Shit!, she thought, he’s
going to try to rape me and she slowly edged her hand to her sword.
Then he threw his dagger and she rolled to grab and draw her sword, only
to find him standing there, ignoring her as he stared beyond.
She saw a ten-legged snake, one of the venomous reptiles of the desert,
pinned to the ground with Omal’s dagger. “You really should be more
careful,” he commented as he retrieved his dagger. Then, watching
her naked body as he cleaned the blade on the moss, added, “You are very
beautiful, in an exotic way.” And as she covered her breasts and
loins with her hands, added, “You now owe me twice,” and walked away.
“Damn!” she thought as she tossed the snake aside and settled back into
her water, “Had he not added that last, I might begin to like him.”
Omal looked at her like she was meat though most Red Men found her to be
deformed. They easily overlooked her tail, hands and feet and even
her antennae and ears but her banth-like blue eyes, un-Barsoomian straight
hair and large breasts bothered them a lot. Still, Omal had been
a god for centuries, doing anything he wished to any girl who survived
a day in Dor ignoring her cries for mercy. How many centuries before
you loose every inhibition you had? How many sexual acts can you
perform and how many partners, willing and unwilling, before normal sex
with normal women became dull and unexciting? How many perversions
does a god practice on unwilling virgins and how much worse do these perversion
become over the centuries? And how long before you accept the perverse
as normal? She had no desire to find out and determined to sleep
with naked dagger.
She returned to find dinner ready, cooked over a radium stove that required
no firewood or moss to heat their meal. Eibhlin would have preferred
a meal cooked over an honest fire but the Dwar refused, fearing smoke would
reveal them to any potential enemies, Green, Red or White. As they
sat around, eating, they did what soldiers do on any planet and time, they
talked about their past, dreamt about their future and lied about their
As always, the stranger you were, the more curious people became and
few were stranger than Eibhlin.
“Tell us of your past,” the Captain asked. Half the others groaned
and turned away, having heard that story before far too many times.
Sighing, Eibhlin sipped her mantilla milk and began, “I am Eibhlin Inghean
Ui Bhrian, not Avleen Oobreen and I was a Princess of Ulster in Ireland
on Jasoom. But my nation was conquered, my mother sold into slavery,
my father hanged and my home burned. I fought back as best I could
but eventually lost and was .. killed.” She avoided describing her
gang rape at the hands of the British soldiers as too unpleasant.
“Then as I lay dieing, the Demons, a race of six-limbed reptiles, found
me, repaired my wounds, gave me life and changed me into this. They
needed a slave to repair their ship and so I served them for a few years
until I was released with a starship of my own. Unable to return
home, I became a Mercenary among the stars just as I am a Panthan here.
“My lover left me and yes, I take female lovers as you take wives, and
I chose to come here by starship and see your world. Unfortunately,
I found a stargate, a wormhole or doorway in the fabric of time and space,
and appeared in the Koal Forest, naked with naught but my blade and beamer.
Since then I have done what I can to survive until I can find another stargate
to go back or until my ship arrives.” She had built a mayday beacon
in Ptarth and was basically killing time until her ship detected the beacon
and answered. She had killed three years so far.
The Dwar continued, “So Lady Avleen, Avleen, I cannot pronounce your
name as do you, You came from Jasoom as did John Carter and Vad Varo and
a number of others?”
“So it appears.”
“Did they come as did you? These ‘stargates’ as you call them?”
“I know not, never having met either. But from what I heard, it
sounds so. But my nephew came here by a Jasoomian teleporter built
by their scientists so I imagine that there are many ways to arrive.”
“And, Princess, can we find or build these gates or machines and travel
to Jasoom or other worlds?”
“Perhaps, though my nephew tells me that after consulting with the Mad
Surgeon Ras Thavas, no Barsoomian can survive for long on Jasoom for the
gravity will snap your bones and burst your heart.”
“Pity.” He sighed. “I’ve seen the world through our telescopes
and it seems beautiful, though now dead of human life. Were we able
to live there, we could abandon this dying planet for your living one.”
Then he turned to others and asked them their lives. Jason would
have seen that as a challenge, a problem to solve. How to adapt the Barsoomian
to live on Earth. Eibhlin never saw the problem as worthy of interest.
But then that man was infuriating in his curiosity and questioned everything
from her sex life to the reproduction of moss to how some stars could be
turned to a supernova and others returned to g-type status. Eibhlin
was more interested in just staying alive and enjoying the centuries the
Demons had given her.
“I was an impoverished noble whose family angered my Jed so was stripped
of our wealth and cast out.” One answered.
“I am a warrior and with my nation at peace…”
“I got bored and sought adventure…”
“Gorthan assassins killed my family and so I travel to forget…”
The stories were similar or different but all implied a people with a past
they wished to forget and no real hope for a future. Then he turned
to the two Therns.
“Lakon, Omal, your stories if you please.”
“What is to say.” Lakon started as Omal sulked. “We are from the
Valley of Dor and were as Gods with nothing to fear save the Black Pirates
who raided us often. As you thought we were Gods in Heaven, we thought
the Black Pirates were devils from the further moon. And upon their
attacks we honed our skill with the sword. Then when… We should have
killed the Princess of Helium though had we, the Warlord would have cut
us all down. Instead in his effort to rescue his Princess, he destroyed
our religion, killed our Goddess and destroyed our lives.
“A few remain in Dor, seeking to live as mortals. Others attempt
to rebuild our faith among those Red Men who still believe but some of
us, plagued by memory or the past, wander. Some to atone for our
crimes, some to seek a faith that is destroyed, some just… I know naught.
But we are here and the past is dead and gone.”
One Panthan asked, “Lakon, I heard that Therns consume human flesh as
if it were thoat meat, is this true?”
Without pausing in his meal of thoat, Lakon commented, almost smiling,
“You eat the flesh of the lower orders as did we.”
“Men are men!” one demanded.
“But we were Gods! And the rules of mortal men were not for us.
We did as we pleased, with whomever we chose and only Iss herself could
demand ought from us.” Omal countered.
“And my wife,” one of the newer Panthans snapped. “She took the Pilgrimage
to Dor. Was she one of your playthings? Did you kill and eat
her too!” he was no longer asking but demanding.
“I know not. We asked not their names or cities and over the centuries
there were so many, I remember only a few.”
“Then die as did my wife!” and the Red Man drew steel.
“Stand!” the Dwar ordered but received an oath in reply. Lakon
stated calmly, “Sheath or die, no mortal can stand against a God.”
The Panthan refused and struck a blow that Omal easily deflected.
Then the fight began in earnest, all save Lakon making a ring to watch
for those from Ptarth who had served with the Therns knew how good with
a blade they were. Few survived in their profession unless they were
very good with a sword but it soon became clear that Omal was toying with
the Red Man. Savage thrusts and cuts were easily stopped, to be repaid
with a swift jab or slice and soon the Red Man was bleeding from a dozen
or more places. Lakon called out with infinite calmness, “Stand down
lest the banths smell your blood and finish you before Omal does.”
The Red Man swore again and putting all his strength into one savage
cut, struck the ground as Omal casually walked past him, cleaning the blade
that few saw kill his opponent.
The Dwar looked at the body and the Thern, astonished at how easily
Omal could have killed his man at any time, then sighing, “He ignored my
order to stand down. Had he lived, I would have flogged him myself
for that refusal. NO ONE disobeys my orders, not even you two!
Now pack up, it grows dark and we must be ready to cross thee Iss within
The flier flew to the Iss, then jumped forward as the pilot threw all
in an effort to cross the Sacred River as fast as was possible. Firearms
were denied Pilgrims and Custom prevented the colonization of that rare
source of life-giving water but there were potential threats. Therns
patrolling the river, seeking to rebuild their discredited religion and
thus kill any they saw as apostate. Green Men raiding from the Great
Desert and even the few Lost Cities that thrived in the stories of the
Panthans though none save Eibhlin had seen any.
But the River was crossed without incident and the flier slowed to conserve
power and rest the engines for they still had seven thousand haads or 2600
miles of desert to cross before they reached Kobol. And so they flew
on at a speed of over a hundred miles an hour. Eibhlin napped, expecting
the trip to take a day then she awoke and heard, “look, the Moons are directly
abeam and not fore and aft. We’ve changed course.”
Their Dwar entered and was asked, “Captain, why the course change?”
“We’ve received a wireless message from the Jed of Kobol. We are to
go directly to the Fortress of Jhama and seek that of value to Kobol.
You will be told more when we arrive.”
“Jhama,” one said. “That was where Tul Axter, Jeddak of Jahar
banished Phor Tak when he refused to give the Jeddak his secrets.”
“No,” another countered, “That was a fortress on the edge of Jahar when
Tul Axter sought to conquer the Great Desert. All within died and
only Phor Tak chose to brave the ghosts and Corphals that haunt the place
when he fled the Jeddak’s wrath.”
The arguments went on as Eibhlin sought another place to sleep.
She had been in enough wars and battles in Ireland, on Mon and Vanthi and
even Kris worlds and upon Barsoom to know that worrying about the future
was useless. No matter what they told you, the reality would be worse
so rest now for you won’t get any when all Hell breaks free.
They flew through the night and then the day, the sun heating the flier
which flew low only because the captain hated to loose his strongest warrior
to death by thin air. Fortunately, there were no Green Hoards in
the Great Desert, at least none that were known to exist, so they feared
nothing save a wandering patrol form Tjanath or Jahar, neither of which
appeared. As always, war was unending boredom followed by brief moments
of activity and terror. This was the boredom and the longer they
were bored, the greater would be the terror at the end.
Then just before the sun set, the flier landed in a valley as the dwar
called them to orders. “Exercise and rest the thoat and yourselves.
Eat well and sleep deep for tomorrow we attack the fortress of Jhama.
I expect no resistance which means that we can expect to have to work for
our prize.” The men laughed at this for military intelligence on
any world was a misnomer.
“We are looking for anything that is useful to our Jed. We know
that Phor Tak who once owned this place was a military genius and so touch
nothing until I have cleared it as safe. The slightest object of
art could be a bomb and I’ve already lost one man. Dismissed.”
Eibhlin looked around but there was no water in this valley so she found
a place where she could lay her bedroll, stretched her cramped muscles
and after ensuring that her blade was convenient, fell into a deep and
Something struck her and she awoke with an oath to find one of the men
tossing pebbles at her while calling her name. It wasn’t safe to
shake awake a man who lived by the sword. They may just kill you
in their sleep. So grumbling, she rolled over, sheathed her blade, washed
with a damp cloth for water in the desert was too valuable for more, then
adjusted her silks over her breasts and loins, her harness for her weapons
and braided her hair as she waited for breakfast. At least they didn’t
ask her to cook. Not after that one time when she ruined the meal
because her earthly body couldn’t tolerate much of the foods and spices
common on Barsoom, so the meal she cooked was bland and almost impossible
to eat. Some of the men watched her braiding because Red Women let
their wavy hair grow free to their waists and Eibhlin had to grow hers
long in deference to custom. But she braided it to keep it out of
the way, an event that caused no end of entertainment for her fellows.
At least it stopped them from staring at her chest which they all found
to be disgusting, especially after she told them what human breasts were
Soon, their meals were done, the thoats saddled and the Dwar showing
them their plans upon a well-drawn map. “We will land here at dawn,
in the military square and not on the roof as do other fliers. Yes,
it will expose us to fire from the surrounding buildings but we cannot
ride thoats down the ramps from the hangers. As soon as we land,
disembark fast to your positions. Squad One to this building, Two
to this, Three to this and Four to here. As soon as you are off,
the flier will rise to this position and drop Squad Five by lines to here
and here while the riflemen cover from above. Kill only in self defense.
Take prisoners but treat them well for I’d rather they helped us from kindness
than torture. Since the War with Helium, no one has bothered to enforce
claim to this fortress so if we can get in and out with a minimum of violence,
we won’t have to run from Jahar or Tjanath forces.
The plan actually worked! Eibhlin was expecting the inhabitants
to resist and fight back and house-to house fighting where the defenders
knew every wall and hiding-hole would be expensive and hard. But
they landed, offloaded the thoats fast, Eibhlin, being infantry, was out
and against a wall long before the thoats were off and mounted. She
looked around with naked sword and saw a couple slaves watching her, concerned
but not terrified. Placing her finger to her lips to caution silence,
she motioned for them to move which they did and she ran for the doorway
and burst through to find herself in a laundry with leathers hanging to
dry. Weapons of a sort were in racks and the slaves working looked,
started then stared. With no warriors, Eibhlin left and entered the
next building with the same effect. Finally one of the Red Men who had
gone with her said, “This is really strange.”
“It is,” she replied. “It’s too quiet.”
“No, not that. Too many slaves, not enough freemen.” Then
he explained, “Only the wealthy can afford to own a slave. In a military
fortress like this, only the higher officers have that wealth so we should
see mostly soldiers with a few slaves and those mostly women owned by the
officers. All we’ve seen are slaves and most of those women.
Shrugging, Eibhlin moved on. And on. And on. And soon the
entire ground floor was clear as were the higher floors. All they
found were slaves, most of which were women. Finally they heard the clash
of steel and rushed to the sound to find three defenders fighting thrice
their number of Panthans from the flier. Even Eibhlin could tell
that the defenders were outmatched and soon most of the attackers backed
off, dropping the points of their blades as they called for the defenders
“And if we do?” one called back.
“You are imprisoned until we leave then released unharmed. We
wish not your lives nor the enmity of your Jed, only the secrets of Phor
Laughing, the defenders dropped their blades and called, “agreed.”
Eibhlin began to get nervous. No battle was this easy. Yet,
one of the prisoners offered to accompany the invading force and with his
aid, soon all the defenders were imprisoned, though when they asked for
comfortable accommodations, slaves were sent to fetch their sleeping silks
and furs and assigned to feed them well.
Talking to Omal as they raided the kitchen, Eibhlin asked, “Don’t you
think this is too easy?” Then spying a slave hiding she called, “You
girl, come out. We won’t harm you.”
Unlike most Red Woman who were beautiful in a way that took Eibhlin’s
breath away, this one was almost plain. Pretty in her own way but
no great beauty, what the Americans would call ‘the girl next door’.
She was naked from waist to collar as custom demanded but what she did
wear was scarlet silk to cover her loins as in the American Red Indian
breech-cloth. She even wore scarlet ribbons in her hair and some
very plain jewelry that appeared to be homemade. But unlike all Red
Woman who had no need to nurse, her breasts were, though small by Earthly
standards, large by Martian. Eibhlin never understood the American
obsession with large breasts, as if they wished to nurse their entire lives
for to the Irish noble, more than a hand or mouthful was too much.
And she hated the size of her own which were sensitive and pleasant to
the touch, and though slightly larger than the average American, she still
saw as huge and the Red Men as gross.
“Please mistress,” the slave looked a second time to be certain that
the alien that faced her was really a woman, “Command and I obey.”
Taking the terrified girl by her hand, Eibhlin led her to a chair and
bade her sit. “Why don’t the defenders defend their homes?” she asked.
“Because they forgot how,” was the reply.
“I don’t understand. Where are all the warriors? This is a military
fortress and we see nothing but female slaves, a few male slaves and a
few warriors when there should me mostly warriors with few slaves.”
Laughing, then suddenly silent, the girl tried to explain, not looking
at Eibhlin or Omal. Eibhlin had that effect on people. Seeing
her pointed ears, her banth-like eyes that slitted closed in the light
and open in the dark, her moth-like antennae, light skin and straight hair,
few were the Red Race who could look at her without staring or cringing.
Slowly, as she spoke, her eyes moved upward, taking in the Irishwoman’s
form and trying to accept what she saw. The ape-like feet, the long prehensile
tail, the oversized breasts and the dual thumbs took her some time to accept.
“Mistress, when Phor Tak came here fifty years ago, he was a scientist,
not a warrior so his retainers were slaves. Slaves to assist, slaves to
attend and slaves,” she shuddered, “as experiments. He needed few
warriors so took only those who were loyal to him. Since his death
at the hands of the Heliumite, few come here. We are isolated and
neither Jahar nor Tjanath want this place. I expect that it is too
expensive to hold in peace.” She was smiling then, actually looking Eibhlin
in the face without cringing though she did start when Omal snapped fingers
and pointed. Instantly the slave-girl was on the floor, cringing
on her hands and knees.
“THAT was uncalled for!” Eibhlin advanced on the Thern who just laughed
and commented, “I like it when they cringe.”
“Enough! Search the other rooms and I shall interrogate the prisoner
The man shrugged and walked off as if it were his idea as Eibhlin raised
the terrified girl. “I’m sorry, the man is a boor at times but a
fighter of renown whom I’d hate to face in battle. Still, I understand
why so few warriors, but why so many female slaves? You Red Women
lay thirteen eggs a year. Over fifty years since Phor Tak’s death,
there should be over six-hundred and fifty laid by each woman and most
hatched. Simple odds imply that half would be male.”
“Mistress, were every egg to hatch, Jhama would be as overrun as was
U-Gor. So most are destroyed upon being laid. Those few which are
deemed suitable are stored in the pits where the temperature is too low
for incubation. When Phor Tak came here, most of the slaves were
men but over the decades, most died or were killed with the warriors keeping
only the women they … desired.” She shuddered again. Eibhlin
knew that shudder. She had often done exactly the same in Belfast
in the mid-seventeenth century when she was a child herself accosted by
British troops. Eibhlin didn’t want to think about how this girl
had suffered and even though she could be centuries old, she still looked
young enough to evoke the Irishwoman’s maternal instincts.
“What of the technical devices of Phor Tak? These are what we
were sent to fetch.”
“Gone, all gone. Phor Tak kept them all in his private lab and
these were destroyed by that Heliumite when he killed the scientist and
stole his invisible airship.”
Sitting herself, the girl watching as Eibhlin’s tail moved aside, the
Panthan wanted to laugh. “Isn’t that the way things are? We
come all this way to find nothing to take. Well, I suppose we must
search anyway to be certain. Will you be safe here?”
“Mistress, I am but a scullery slave. I clean and little else.
Why would anyone seek my harm?”
Nodding, she smiled at the girl then left to find her captain.
So now she searched, this time with sheathed blade. Any of the
very few warriors they met quickly surrendered without a fight, the slaves
simply not caring who owned them and soon the fortress was secure and being
searched by half the Company while the other half celebrated with the slaves.
Disgusted, but wishing she could join in, Eibhlin sought the scullery-slave
for the tingle in her lips told her that her Need was rising and if she
didn’t get sex soon, she’d have to approach some of the men and that turned
her stomach. Maybe the slave-girl would be receptive? Although
a free woman must be chaste, a slave was expected to service her master
and no one thought ill of either so long as the girl wasn’t forced or abused.
Returning to the kitchen she found the place empty and in disarray.
Pots on the floor, dishes broken, a drop of blood on the table where a
body had struck. A fight had taken place so drawing her sword, Eibhlin
searched calling out, “Girl! Kitchen-girl! Damn!
Why didn’t I ask her name. Where are you!”
Eventually she found one of the Panthans, drunk and with a slave under
each arm, neither seeming in danger, so she stopped and asked, “Have you
seen Omal with a young slave-girl?”
Almost falling with the effort, he pointed down one of the curved ramps
that the Barsoomian used instead of stairs. Then thinking that if
the slaves knifed him and the rest of the company in their drunken stupor,
they deserved it, and she ran on and down.
She found Omal & Siden, another Panthan who was a sycophant to the
Thern, in a room far below. Attracted to the screams, she found the
former god holding the struggling slave-girl by her long black hair, Siden
seeking to bind the struggling girl, all three naked for their sport though
only the girl unwilling. A part of Eibhlin noticed that the Thern
was as bald below as above.
“Release her you… you pig!” Eibhlin cried, drawing her blade.
“Take her,” Omal said quietly, not bothering to draw his own sword,
Smiling, Siden moved in, his own blade at the guarde to face an enraged
Irish woman, skilled at war and enraged with the memory of her own gang-rape
and murder at the hands of English soldiers. A memory that twenty
years and more had not been able to erase.
Siden feinted and sought to disarm her but she easily countered to slam
his sword away by strength of anger. Before he could recover, she thrust
and although she missed his heart, the Red Men having a slightly different
internal anatomy, still the thrust was deadly and stepping back, she ignored
the falling body to face the Thern.
By then Omal had snapped a manacle about the girl’s wrist and slowly
drew his own long sword. “I was a GOD!” he screamed, flicking at
her to draw blood over one breast as he did so. “I could do ANYTHING!”
Another flick of steel and another cut. The slave-girl cried and
pulled at her wrist, then tried to reach Sidenss sword with her feet, but
with no luck for it was far out of reach. “I fought the Black Pirates
for CENTURIES!” and other flick, another cut. “Do you know how good
I had to be to survive those battles!” another cut. He was
playing with her, being the far better swordsman with centuries of experience,
she knew she was doomed. She tried to move in closer to allow her tail
to snap out to grasp something, anything of his but a quick cut and the
tip of the beloved member was severed a hands breadth from the end.
He was cutting her to pieces, enjoying the pain and blood he caused.
Eibhlin moved away, always on guarde, always failing to protect herself.
She knew she was the stronger, four times as strong as was he despite his
being a foot taller. She knew she was faster but still not fast enough.
She knew her bones were denser to fight Earth’s greater gravity and enhanced
by her Demon masters to survive multi-gravity accelerations. She
knew she was heavier than he because of her bones and muscles and she knew
that she could take far more punishment and heal faster. But he knew
the latter too and would butcher her slowly, reveling in her pain.
Having little choice, she reached for her revolver only to have her
wrist cut so badly she couldn’t hold the weapon with her severed tendons
and veins. With the missing distal grasping joints of her tail as
useless as her right hand, she fought left-handed and knew she would die
but determined to take him with her. Then something flew between
the two, fluttering like a scarlet bat, distracting both, but Eibhlin had
little fear of bats and rushed him.
Omal deflected her blade and she simply ran onto his, crying as the
steel entered her belly. Looking down, she dropped her own blade,
grasped his wrist with her good hand and pulled herself forward, screaming
as the blade dug deeper, then she turned, reached up with her leg and using
her tarsial foot, she grasped Omal’s neck with her hand-like foot and crushed.
The pain of his blade tearing her insides drove her on, sending that pain
into her opponent, then her foot moved and with a crack, the Thern’s neck
snapped and he fell lifeless, his blonde wig falling free.
She collapsed too, barely hearing the girl cry, “Mistress! Listen
to me! I can’t reach you. I need the keys yonder to help you.”
Eibhlin dragged herself to the wall where the keys had fallen.
How many days that journey took, she knew not, only that she rested often,
then was goaded to movement by the girls pleading. “You can’t die
yet. You fought so hard to save me. You cannot die yet.”
Eibhlin awoke with more searing pain as the slave-girl pulled Omal’s
sword from her body, it took forever, for the hilt was against her belly
and more than two feet protruded past her back. Eibhlin screamed
in agony then she passed out again.
Later, awake again, she found the pain to be gone. The girl was
bandaging her sides, using but one hand for her right, the one in the manacle
had been torn terribly and rendered useless. She heard words but
not their meaning and then she was alone in the darkness, dead again.
As she died, she wondered if the Demons would come for her again and what
would they do to her this time.
Eibhlin awoke, in a soft bed, covered with silks and furs, her body
numb. Looking around she saw the slave-girl laving her face with
a wet cloth, her own right hand bandaged. “Are you awake enough to
hear? Dwar!” she called and Eibhlin’s Captain approached.
“I’m glad to see that you are still alive. I’d hate to have to
report loosing three more of my Company.”
“What happened?” she croaked then sipped as the slave-girl placed a
cup of water to her lips.
“We were searching as ordered when this slave ran to us, bruised and
bleeding, unable to speak from exhaustion but attempting to drag us below.
We followed and found you bleeding and near death with Omal and Siden dead
nearby. The slave told us what happened and refused to leave your
“I thought I had died,” Eibhlin managed to croak.
“Hardly, though close. Strange thing is that your skin began to
harden, almost like a shell but we chose to work on your wounds first and
the skin flaked away. Rest and Heal, Avleen Oobreen for we leave
in a few days and I don’t like malingerers in my company.”
She glanced at her arm, pale and wondered, ‘so it would happen to me
too, enshelled while repairing the damage. Jason enshelled and Janice
was released, would I be buried and fight my way from the grave a human
man? Or would my werewolf nature take over again? A Werewolf
on Mars! What a story,’ and she fell back laughing.
“Is something wrong, Mistress?” the slave girl asked, concerned.
“How?” she barely managed to ask, ignoring the question.
“I threw my silks to hoping to distract the God but I didn’t think you
would run onto his blade as you did. I feared you were dead but you
pulled yourself to him, he driving his sword through your body as a collector
pins bugs to display. Then when you killed him, you ignored your
own wounds and sought the keys to free me, his sword still through your
body. You almost made it to me with the key to my bindings.
But they were an inch too far so I tore my hand, ready to bit my own thumb
off to slip free. Fortunately, I only pulled it from the joint and
tore the flesh and that gave me the inch I needed to reach the key and
free myself to aid you.”
“It was my duty and pleasure, Mistress. You gave your life to save me,
a lowly slave. I would give you my all.”
“I don’t really want a slave, so I guess you are free.”
“Mistress, my egg was laid by one of Phor Tak’s slaves. Perhaps
he was my father, perhaps another slave was, perhaps my egg grew without
a father, one of the madman’s experiments. I don’t know. I
only recall running wild, an animal after my hatching until I was captured
and tamed and trained, just another slave here without name. No one
has been kind to me save you. I am yours.”
“How old are you?” the girl looked young, very young. But
then, Eibhlin looked seventeen despite her forty-some odd years.
And Red Men didn’t age between maturity at forty and age at nine-hundred.
“Barely ten years.”
Eibhlin made some quick calculations even though they made her head
hurt. The girl was 18 Earth years. An old Maid long past marriage
by Irish standards, half-grown by Barsoomian but still an adult for a child
five years from the shell on Barsoom is an adult though far from mature.
She drank again, feeling her lips no longer tingling. Her Need for
sex was no longer rising, hopefully slowed as she healed, but approaching.
Looking down, she saw her tail shorter by some six inches, the sensitive
grasping joints missing. Most of her cuts were simply ‘glued’ shut
with the marvelous Barsoomian healing salve that stopped bleeding, accelerated
healing and covered the wound to protect it, but the one in her belly was
heavily bandaged. Doubtless they had to open her up to repair the
damage inside as his sword entered and twisted, causing havoc with her
entrails. That one might even scar.
“I’m sorry for your injuries, Mistress,” she said, actually meaning
“My kind heals fast. I’ll even regrow my missing tail joints in
a couple weeks if I eat properly.”
“Mistress, as your slave, I shall ensure that you receive all that you
“I have no need for a slave, just a lover.” Eibhlin took the chance
or maybe was groggy from the medicines she was given.
“I can do that, mistress,” her eyes lowered.
Perking up, “oh?”
“I saw the way you looked at me. The same way men looked at me
my entire life. But they took what they wished without thought.
You were kind and cared for my safety and so I gladly offer what you wish.
Otherwise, what have I?”
“I accept, until we can find you a decent life.” Then, remembering,
“I am the Princess Eibhlin Ui Bhrian of Ireland on Jasoom. And your
“Larena, if it pleases my Mistress.”
“Then, my dear Larena, I am, was, the Princess Eibhlin Ingean Ui Bhrian
of Ulster in Ireland of Jasoom but now am a simple Panthan. I cannot
really afford a slave but will share with you what I have. I’ll protect
you and care for you to the best of my ability and find you a better life
when I return to my own world and life. But, I am not a Red Woman
as you see. Much of your food is poison to me, I cannot breathe if
I climb or fly very high in your thin air and my kind needs sex often or
we die a terrible death. We are going to Kobol were I will serve
the Jed for as long as I am needed. The life isn’t as easy as your
life here so you may wish to reconsider.”
Smiling, this time not cringing at the sight, she replied, “Mistress,
My work here is easy but my life hard. With you it will be the opposite.
I await your command and call,” then after a pause and dropping her eyes,
Laughing again, Eibhlin said quietly, “I am not my niece so would prefer
to wait until I won’t have my wounds torn open. In the meantime,
my name is Eibhlin, AH-vih-leen UUH BREE-yan, not Avleen Oobreen or anything
else. We’ll work on that.” Then she fell asleep again.
As Eibhlin was being helped by Larena to the flyer, she noticed that
many of the Panthans were accompanied by a slave carrying a bag of booty.
It seems that few had been idle in their search. Lakon passed her
with three girls of his own, each carrying a bag so Eibhlin called to him,
still influenced by the pain represents she was taking, “Lakon, why three?
Most men think better of their prowess than is true but unless you have
three members or two and a tail, you can only love one at a time.
Do the others watch or are they for a midnight snack?”
Lakon laughed back and replied, “Avleen Oobreen, I have not consumed
the flesh of the Lower Orders in almost sixty years. No, I simply
enjoy variety in my company as do you though mine are the more beautiful
it seems. Also my member seems to be in far better shape than your
tail which is missing the end.”
She snapped back, “Perhaps I, being a woman, can see past a pretty face
to the person beneath. Larena is a pretty enough and is a good and
kind woman with a brain, something you men seem to dislike in a woman.”
It was later that Eibhlin realized that Lakon said he hadn’t eaten a human
in sixty years. Issus died and the Thern Religion fell more than
seventy years ago. She shuddered then tried very hard to forget what
he had said.
Once sitting, wincing as her injured back leaned against the hull, Eibhlin
turned to the Panthan to her left and asked, “I know why I must have Larena
but why do you take a slave?”
“Same as you, companionship.”
“But I must eat a bland diet so Larena can have what I cannot consume,
plus I get paid more than many of you Red Men. Can you afford to
feed that fine woman you possess?”
He shrugged and commented, “When I cannot, I shall sell her.”
Which caused Eibhlin to wonder a bit at the cold-heartedness of men.
“I wonder,” she mused, “If my own mother that Cromwell sold to slavery
in the Americas was treated as you intend to treat that woman.”
“Probably, though from what you told us, your Jasoomian relatives were
far harsher to their own slaves than are we to ours who have some legal
Dropping the conversation as unproductive and disturbing to her personally,
Eibhlin tried to sleep, then awoke as her newly acquired slave asked, “Mistress,
I must change your bandages. Please try to remember that I shall
be as gentle as possible but it may hurt.”
“Of course, please proceed.”
First was her abdomen which the slave exclaimed, “The skin is almost
healed and as I press, you barely wince. I don’t think we shall need
these bandages. Now let us see to your tail. Incredible, the
end, the scars are gone and it looks as if….”
“Yes, I am regrowing the lost joints. It’s fortunate that mantilla
is rich in calcium to allow me to rebuild the lost bone. Soon enough
I should be complete.”
Rubbing the member to her cheek, Larena commented, “I expected it to
be as rough as an ulsio tail but this is soft and smooth as is your own
arm. Do all Jasoomians have such a tail?”
“None, save those the Demons abduct and change. And before you
ask, ‘moorouk’ to me is an insult as is the Jasoomian ‘monkey-girl’ so
please make no comparisons.”
“In would not dream to do so. But why did these Demons do so to
“They needed a slave to repair their ships and find taking humans and
changing them to better work in space to be useful. On
Jasoom, they think I was created to climb trees but the Demons saw otherwise.
All that you see, my feet, thumbs, tail are for clinging to the hull of
a starship in space where there is no gravity. My eyes, ears and
antennae are to better understand the machinery of a starship. I
know that I am shocking to look upon….”
“Nay, Mistress. At first, a bit disconcerting, but once I got used to
you, I saw that you are a beautiful woman. And now I see the beauty within.
What is it like, in space? Seeing other worlds? Perhaps the Princes
of a dozen worlds throwing their swords and jewels at your feet.
Surely dozens of worlds have bid for your hand in marriage?”
“Hardly. Most of the people I see who resemble humans are too
big for me, nine foot tall is average for a Mon male. And the Vanthi
who are our size… well they tend to hairiness and see even free women as
possessions. On Jasoom, like here, they see me as a freak.
It is rare that I meet someone who can see past the body and seek the woman
who lies within. Plus, my tastes run to the fairer sex of my own
gender. See Hermm over there, he is one of the rare Red Men who prefer
men over women which is why he took a male slave. That is why he
is a Panthan, he cannot marry so is useless to his family. We accept
him because.. well we all have our stories and many are tragic.”
The flier stopped thrice to offload and exercise and to air out the
aircraft. At every stop, Eibhlin stretched, ate more than she needed
to which her Captain commented, “Keep that up and you’ll eat away our supplies
and force me to dock your pay.”
“I’ll be fine soon. I just need to eat more to repair my body.
I took a strong wound back there.”
“And for what? A mere slave? She had better be worth loosing
Omal and Siden.”
“I feel that she is.”
“So much will you accept me docking your pay to compensate the pi Jed
Han Kosal paid to hire them?”
“Since you recovered the money from their bodies, I fail to see how
the Jed is loosing.”
“Avleen Oobreen, You are stronger than any Red Man and that alien Beamer
of yours makes you dangerous, but with the blade, Omal was worth three
of you on the Line. I shall have to place you in considerable danger
to make up for his loss.” Then he walked away, knowing that Eibhlin would
now be given the worst and most dangerous assignments. In the forests
or even cities, her body could find advantage but on the flat desert, only
her strength had value and her need to drink thrice the water of a Red
Man and her stink while sweating in the desert made her a liability.
It was time to go home. She only hoped that her niece, Janice, would be
able to contact her ship and send it to the right planet and time to rescue
They eventually landed in Kobol after passing over the expected ten
miles or so of croplands that bordered the waterway that stretched from
the Koal Forest in the northwest to Jahar in the southeast. Kobol,
being in the middle of the highlands wasn’t as arid as the desert surrounding
Jhama and all saw the change in vegetation long before they saw the walled
Once landed, they were processed as with all Martian cities. They
were made to stand as they were photographed, their height, weight and
additional descriptions added (Eibhlin enjoyed knowing the extra paperwork
the clerks would have to do describing her) then identity papers were printed
and copies sent to various places in the city. Then they were taken
to the barracks where the men were bunked in a dorm on one floor, Eibhlin
with the free women on another and the slaves below. Getting together
for her liaisons with Larena would be a problem. Then they were called
together and told, “Remain here tonight. Tomorrow you will meet Jed
Han Kosal and swear your loyalty to him and the nation of Kobol.
Do NOT leave this building for until tomorrow you are foreigners and will
be detained in the pits until the guards care to listen to your entireties
and contact me.”
As Eibhlin started to walk away she muttered, “Eat, Drink and be Merry
for tomorrow we die!”
“Excuse me,” her Dwar asked. “What means that?”
“Oh, it is a saying from the Bible, the Holy Book of my religion on
Jasoom. I think it comes from the Book of Isaiah and means that we
should celebrate the glory of God well while alive for God will judge us
when dead. I think the pagan Gladiators in ancient Rome used it otherwise,
to celebrate their last night before they meet death in the arena.”
“Interesting, I never thought you Jasoomians were religious. But
here we have a saying, ‘Issus may be dead but Han Kosal is Jed!’
You would be well to remember that.”
Nodding, she walked away seeking both her slave-girl and a place where
they could be alone for a bit. She didn’t feel well enough for sex
but some love-making, gentle kissing and just holding each other under
the stars would be nice.
Finding Larena was easy, she just looked in the slave quarters and called
the girl, “Would you accompany me to the roof? I’d like to relax
a bit before I go to sleep.”
“Of course, Mistress, I am at your command,” but her eyes asked
for that command.
They couldn’t hold hands as Eibhlin wanted and the magnetic elevator
gave her her usual headache as her sensitive antennae picked up the magnetic
fields in the shaft, but these were easier to deal with then the florescent
lighting used in America which gave her migraines within seconds.
Then on the roof, they sat against a wall, Eibhlin’s feet over the edge
as they huddled under some furs.
“It’s so far to fall,” Larena commented.
Looking, the Weir laughed, “Barely ten stories. When I am on the
outside hull of a Demon starship, down is a thousand light years and even
with your lifespan of a thousand years, you’ll die of old age before you
“It must be wonderful to own such a ship, to be free to go anywhere,
knowing that if you don’t like where you are, you can find a totally different
place with different customs elsewhere.”
“It does have its advantages. But sometimes, when I am trapped
someplace like here, it gets a bit difficult.”
“Does this happen often?”
“Not often. This is my second time I got lost using them.
My … niece seems to get lost often.”
“I would love to leave this dying world and see.. other places.
All I have known since I hatched was work, privation, abuse and the constant
desert across no one can walk. To go places with people who love
you…. That is every slave’s dream.”
“Then, dear Larena, when my ship arrives I’ll take you with me.”
Then an idea. “My nephew, Jason, once loved a woman from Amhor but
when he returned to Jasoom, he had to leave her behind for the crushing
gravity of Earth would have killed her. But! I have a Demon
shield-belt. I wore it on worlds where the air and gravity were not
conducive to my life and you can wear it to survive the gravity of my ship
and other worlds!”
“Really! You would take me with you! I am so happy,” and
she hugged her owner in her gratitude. "Mistress, your breathing
is quickening. Is something wrong? Should I call a physician”
“Nothing is wrong, at least nothing that cannot be cured with a taste
of your lips.”
A while alter, they broke apart, Larena saying, “That was different.
Softer, gentler than the rough ways of the men of Jhama.”
“Let us not talk of men but of only ourselves.”
Then later, “please, mistress, I am afraid of falling. You may
cling to the side of a building but I cannot. Can we not find a safer
Laughing Eibhlin stood and helped the Red Woman to rise, “very well,
how about there, on that deserted flier?”
Despite Eibhlin’s concern for her wound, kissing Larena was gentle and
soft and her body hurt not at all, though so accustomed to the soft touch
of her tail, she was unable to use that member and so relaxed with fingers
and lips and soon they were both naked exploring each other.
“Shhh, Mistress, wait! I hear someone.”
“Who cares, I burn for you my dear Larena.”
“What if we are discovered? Please, let us wait until they leave.”
Sighing, the Irish woman agreed and they sat, holding hands, communication
their desire with a squeeze of the hand and a stroke of a finger until
they heard a groan.
Looking over the side, Eibhlin motioned, “There.” A number of
men glowed in their body heat to her enhanced eyes. Two men held
a third, limp, between them in the dark. “I see nothing,” Larena
commented. “It’s too dark for your eyes but mine open to see more in less
light. Plus I see their body heat. I see two men dragging a
third to a flier. Remain here.”
“Wait!” she called but her cried were useless as the Irishwoman approached,
stubbing her foot on an unseen something on the floor. “Damn!
Doesn’t anyone pick up this place!” she demanded. Tools rarely glowed
in the infra-red unless they were heated somehow.
“Shhh,” Eibhlin heard as the glowing figures moved aside and behind
something that hid them. Although very dark, there was enough light
from a far-off radium globe and the light of one of the Martian moons through
the open door for her to see. True, it was all black-and-gray and
very dim but she could see as most people would under a half-moon on Earth.
“Come out! I know you are here. Are you Gorthans?
More shuffling as the glow appeared and vanished behind some object.
Then one appeared, his arm in a position that spoke ‘weapon’ thought she
could not tell if it were dagger, sword or revolver. But knowing
that she was totally invisible to the Red Men whose sight was as poor as
any Earthman’s, Eibhlin took a quiet step or two to the right and pulled
her Demon sword and waited as the stranger moved to her former location.
As the glow passed, she shifted her grip and struck, rendering the man
unconscious with a groan and thud, then was blinded by a radium torch flashing
the hanger. Her eyes, opened wide for sensitivity, reacted as if
a searchlight had struck her and she called out in pain.
“Stand!” the farther voice demanded. Unable to see and her eyes
still in pain, she did exactly as she was ordered. “Drop your blade!”
She did so. “Who are you!”
“I am the Princess Eibhlin Ui Bhrian of Jasoom, Panthan to Han Kosal
of Korad. What crimes do you commit?” She was buying time to
recover, knowing that so long as the torch was being shined in her face
she was vulnerable. Even through closed eyelids and slitted secondary
lids, the light was bright so her opponent must have his radium torch on
full. If she were to fight, she would have to do so with other senses.
And still healing from her wounds with Omal, she wasn’t certain of even
She could estann the Red Man nearby, probably looking her over then
she heard her sword being kicked away and her revolver being pulled from
her holster. A moment later, time enough for him to look over the
grip modified for her smaller hand and extra thumb, her dagger was pulled
and tossed aside with a click as it struck the floor. Then, “Wake
up you fool! This… whatever she is, laid you out with a blow.”
She imagined him shaking his companion and remembering the location of
the unconscious man, she kicked hard. A groan and report as his revolver
fired and she heard a ‘zing’ of the explosive round passing her ear.
Hearing no explosion, the light-active round wouldn’t detonate now, but
as the sun rose, someone would be in for a surprise when the light struck
the expended bullet.
In the meantime, Eibhlin fought by sound alone, listening for the sound
of his body and kicking to that area, sometimes striking, sometimes not
until, “Mistress, cease, it’s over!”
“I’m blinded! Tell me what happened!”
She felt her hands being pulled away, “I see no damage, doubtless your
blindness is just temporary. When you kicked that man, he dropped
his torch which gave me enough light to approach. You kept him occupied
until I could strike him with a wrench. He lies unconscious near
Sitting carefully, her side still ached from her previous battle, Eibhlin
allowed Larena to lave her aching eyes with a damp cloth. “Your antennae,
the feathers retreat under my touch, am I harming you?”
“No, my dearest, that is a blink reaction to protect the sensitive feelers
that detect electro-magnetic forces. I can see a bit though spots
hide everything. A few moments more and I’ll be fine. See you
to the captive.”
Eibhlin focused, barely, and sought her weapons when Larena called out,
“Come here please.”
“Why? Can’t it wait? I’m looking for my dagger.”
“Your dagger can wait, look here.” The fact that the voice came
from the direction of the unconscious men and not their prisoner as was
expected caused the Weir to turn to find her slave kneeling by the men,
both battered, one bleeding from his lips where Eibhlin’s kicks had sent
splintered ribs through fragile lungs.
“Is that what I think it is?” Eibhlin saw what her slave was touching.
“It is,” she replied in a hollow voice.
“Shit!” Both unconscious men wore the Device of the House of Kosal,
the royal house that Eibhlin was supposed to wear upon the morrow.
“I am in so much trouble. Quick, return to your quarters.
They never saw you so you will be safe.”
“No, mistress,” she explained. “As your slave I can be but praised for
assisting my mistress and so am immune to harm in this matter. I
fear for your life though. We should throw them out the hanger and
their prisoner too to hide our involvement.”
“No, any good psychologist would see my image in their dead minds and
seek me for murder as well. We need to report this and perhaps run.”
THE GREAT DESERT <img src=”greatdesert.jpg”>
She was right, Eibhlin thought. There were mountains and forests along
the equator some 500 miles north of Korad. The waterway that stretched
from Koal to Korad to pass Jahar was mostly owned by Korad or Jahar.
Four hundred miles east was another waterway but who owned that was unknown
and thought strangers approaching valuable croplands would be suspicious,
detained and probably executed. Everywhere else was the great Desert,
so barren that even the Green Men avoided the area as uninhabitable.
No, their only chance was to see the thing through.
“Perhaps the fact that the kidnappers were working in stealth will work
to our advantage. We can claim that no honest man abducts another
in the darkness.”
“Unless,” Larena offered, “The Jed wishes none to know of this matter.”
“Regardless, my plan is what we shall claim so that when the royal Psychologists
seek to probe our minds, they will see only the truth and our good wishes.”
The prisoner begged them for release, claiming that he was being abducted
by gorthans but they chose to leave him in his bindings, feeling that this
act would work in their favor and called the Watch.
It was a short time before they were before the Jed himself. The
man reeked of excess and could barely sit from the drink he had been sucking
as if the bottle in his hand were his mother’s teat and he a starving babe
though Martians never suckled, being hatched nearly adults. Still the Irish
remained armed which was a good sign as the Watch explained the matter
in total honestly, giving weight to neither her nor the prisoner nor the
one man who had been first struck by Eibhlin’s sword. The other was
still having his ribs and lungs repaired. Through it all, Han Kosal
listened as he slowly sobered though this may be only because the bottle
As the Watch Padwar spoke, Eibhlin looked around the Throne Room.
Unlike the one in Ptarth which was quite discrete, Kobol was poor enough
to seek other means to express their position and so the Kobol Throne Room
was a pasha’s paradise with silks and tapestries covering all walls, rugs
on the floor and gold and silver everywhere. With this amount of
wealth, Eibhlin mused, the Jed would be stingy with the pay of his Panthans.
But it was the Throne that attracted her attention the most. Not
because of the Jed who was fast approaching obesity, a rare thing on Barsoom,
but because of his harem. She chose that word for the simple reason
that the women who lounged at the feet of the Jed must be his wives for
few wore slave collars.
All were different. Here one with a bald head and coppery skin
as if she had hatched that way or shaved her head. There a woman
with the muscular build of a man. Another with blue eyes that changed
to green as she looked. Another was a woman who wore too much in
the way of cosmetics until Eibhlin realized that she was a man in woman’s
harness. And, passing by some drapes, a woman with white skin and
breasts that would put even an earthly porn star to shame. She wore
a… Mother Mary and all the saints… was that a penis that hung to below
her knees? A woman with a man’s member, a member that would put even
a horse to shame. How could she or he or .. use that? Eibhlin
had been forced to take some generous men when her Need rose but that would
tear her apart for erect, if it could harden, would be… her mind staggered
and to save herself she looked to the floor and saw that the woman had
no feet but hooves.
Before she could go further Eibhlin realized that the Jed was speaking
and no one who wished to live would ignore the words of a king.
“And you, whatever you are… another off world visitor? A woman
playing at a man’s occupation. What is your story?” And he
let drop his bottle for the first time to lean upon his hand and stare
at the Irishwoman, not in interest but in undisguised lust.
Trying to focus her thoughts to respond, Eibhlin curtsied to the king
to buy time though Barsoomians had no concept of the European genuflection.
No, she had imagined the woman with a man’s… “Mother Mary, get your
mind from the gutter,” she admonished herself. All that kissing with
Larena had excited her and with no release, her mind was in the barnyard,
wishing for… “Great and noble Jed, I am the Princess Eibhlin
Ingean Ui Bhrian of Jasoom, trapped on your world and seeking employment
as a Panthan with your magnificent court.” There, Eibhlin thought,
it never hurts to compliment an insecure man. “I was in that hanger
with my slave observing the city I would swear to protect upon the morrow
when I heard a scuffle. Examining the sounds, I saw one man being
dragged away by another and sought to examine their motives for if gorthans
operated in your fair city, it would be my task to stop them as I would
any foreign invader. In the fight, I injured these two and only after
the lights had been raised did I see that they were wearing your device.
Doubtless they are in disguise, hoping to slander your noble reputation
with their misdeeds.” There, she thought, compliment the man and
give him a way to save face if he ordered the abduction.
All waited as the Jed focused his eyes and then he spoke, “Away with
them all. We shall investigate this matter so none shall leave the
city.” Eibhlin noted that the kidnappers walked out free, their victim
watching with considerable nervousness. Yes, she had interrupted
a private matter between the Jed and some with whom he was at odds but
feared arresting in public.
“Your slave too but, Princess of Jasoom, you remain. I would hear more.”
And the throne room was quickly emptied of all save the Jed, his harem
and the Irish alien. “Sit,” he commanded, patting the cushion next
to him. Eibhlin noted that he sat at am angle. Hermm sat like
that after a prolonged loving by his male slave. Without a woman’s
natural moistness, soreness was inevitable or so she thought.
Carefully sitting, estanning the man’s desire to penetrate and be penetrated
by one person, she began to worry. Han Kosal reached out to stroke
her straight hair, now in a loose tail. “Your hair is as black as
any Red Woman’s but straight. I find that so attractive. Remove the
band that it may flow free as it should.”
Eibhlin slowly untied her ribbon and shook her hair free, now wishing
she had cut it short.
Cupping her chin, he looked into her face, without wincing or turning
aside as so many others did at her alien features. Eibhlin knew that
she was attractive though no great beauty that would launch a thousand
ships in her rescue as was said of Helen of Troy or Dejah Thoris of Helium.
It was her eyes, ears and antennae that bothered people but the Jed stared
at them all, her round Irish face and commented, “You are the most beautiful
woman in the world. Lay with me and I will make you my Jedda.”
A Queen, power, title, palace, all that the British had stripped from
her. All that she was raised to possess. Her father would have
married her to a man she knew not to cement an alliance, would this be
any different? A loveless marriage of convenience? She could
take her female lovers and the Jed wouldn’t care, asking only to join in
occasionally. She had done that before, first with Cyndi and Kevin
on Earth, then more recently with Janice and Steve along the Iss and enjoyed
them both so would this be any worse?
She felt his lips on hers and estanned the anger and hatred from the
others, fear that they would be replaced, tossed into the Great Desert
to die for nowhere else would they be accepted. Then she felt his
hand slide behind her head, take her hair and twist, forcing his lips to
hers hard, his tongue forcing itself into her mouth, his other hand grasping
her tail, the tip wincing with pain from the severance only a few days
past as he sought to force the member. His tongue now deeper into
her mouth, nearly gagging her with its length.
Almost she bit it off, memories of her past coming forth then she tried
to relax, to give this King what he needed until she broke away, panting
in terror, not seeing the dagger in her hand until it was too late.
Han Kosal lay across the room where her greater strength had tossed
him. “I.. I’m sorry My Lord. I apologize and beg your forgiveness.
I, I cannot control myself sometimes. Please…”
The Jed stood, then turned and left the room, his guards entering and
Eibhlin resigned herself to a fight to the death, readying herself.
One pointed to the door, “Return to your unit, Panthan, His majesty will
decide your fate later.”
Walking back, fearing a dagger or bullet in the back, she wondered at
that. The man was a pervert by any standard but a pervert with power.
He wanted to force her and be forced in return, thus his reputation for
exotics, men and women who were different and enjoyed their love-play rough.
“Damn! I could have had it all!” she punched the wall then yelped, looking
at her bloody knuckles and the unharmed wall.
Reaching the barracks, she sought her slave and kissing her gently,
said, “I need to find you a safe place to remain. Kobol is no longer
safe for me or those with me.”
“Why mistress?” she was worried, as she should be. Eibhlin wouldn’t
put it past Han Kosal to use Larena as leverage to force Eibhlin to submit
“Our new Jed wished me for his own. I resisted.”
“Mistress, I have been thinking. Slaves say that the waterways
are so in need of help that even a slave can find a home. We can
go there, hide out until it is safe. I am young and will outlast
Han Kosal who has only a few centuries left. We can be safe there
until he dies.”
Eibhlin thought then agreed, “Then we will search for a safe farm when
we can.” Though privately, Eibhlin knew that Larena would be safe
only apart from the Alien. Perhaps she could find a farm who had
a son would wish to marry even a freed slave.
The Dwar of Eibhlin’s Utan called them to formation just outside Jahar,
for save as individuals, Jahar refused to allow foreign soldiers within
their walls. Tul Axter, the former Jeddak of Jahar had made a LOT
of enemies in his bid for planetary conquest and Red Men had very long
“As you know.” He spoke, “Han Kosal, our illustrious Jed,” He looked
at Eibhlin as did most of the Company for all knew why they were here,
“Has sent us to aid Jahar retake U-Gor Province. I know that there
are rumors so I am here to quell those. There are no monsters, no
corphals, no aliens from another planet.” A number laughed as Eibhlin
heard someone comment, “Other than our own alien here. Doubtless
she shall protect us from her fellow off-world monsters.” Eibhlin
laughed too for nothing on Barsoom was as bad as some she had seen on other
The Captain continued, “What we WILL find are cannibals! Yes,
Tul Axter outlawed marriage and forbade the destruction of ANY egg during
his reign. Thus all those eggs which would have been destroyed or
stored in the cold were allowed to hatch.” Eibhlin remembered Red
Man biology. Every Barsoomian woman laid thirteen soft-skinned eggs
spread over a year, about one every fifty days. Most of these were
sterile because of a lack of sex and so destroyed, and of those that were
fertile, most were destroyed because of some defect or simply because they
were not needed. Eibhlin understood as she had come from a time when
women were little more than breeders and most died in childbirth after
birthing anywhere from six to a dozen children. On Barsoom, they
allowed maybe one egg per decade to hatch, thus keeping the population
to manageable levels. To allow every egg to hatch… thirteen children
every year for a thousand years… Her mind boggled at the implications,
as did every other mind she could estann. Resources on Mars were
too scarce to support a large population so population control was second
“Obviously, it didn’t take long for Tul Axter to breed an army of unstoppable
numbers in his bid for conquest. Unfortunately, he waited too long
or maybe U-Gor simply got out of hand. The population stripped one
of the most fertile areas on Barsoom and without food, the starving masses
turned to each other.” He gave the Utan a moment to digest that thought,
then continued. “Since then, the people of U-Gor simply ate their
Nobles. When Tul Axter sent in the army, they too were overwhelmed
by numbers and consumed.” When Eibhlin had lived in Los Angeles ten
years ago or more, she had seen a television show about the human waves
in the Korean War. Only the first wave had been issued weapons as
they had been sent against the UN Forces. They all died but the next wave
arrived, picked up the fallen weapons and advanced a few yard more until
they died. As wave after wave arrived, the UN Forces simply ran out
of ammunition and were overwhelmed by the Chinese waves who charged with
fixed bayonets. There were stories that Mao had encouraged breeding
to such an extent that he had enough volunteers who were willing to face
war than the starvation and cannibalism of rural China. Eibhlin could
easily see the same thing happening here.
“Finally, the older, civilized people died or were killed leaving their
young and eggs to fend for themselves.” Barsoomian eggs incubated
for five years as they grew from the size of a goose egg to something that
could hatch a nearly-grown teen. Eibhlin had no idea of how that could
be but the fact that it happened was undeniable. The newly-hatched
youth was then captured and tamed and educated. Without that taming
and education, the youth of U-Gor would be little more than animals.
Animals that resembled men but still animals.
“Our task is to simply advance, kill any of the savages, destroy any
egg we find and clear the land for replanting. I am told that the
savages have no sword skills and their tactics consist of engaging the
prey and fighting on the defense until another stabs you in the back.
So when facing them, do so in a square, blades outward. If outnumbered
more than three-to-one, retreat to regroup. Remember, we are not
Kobol citizens, nor are we of Jahar. We are Panthans which means,
expendable. So we can expect little in relief so take care of each
other! We leave at dawn as U-Gor is a thousand haads SouthEast of
here and it will take us about a half-zode to arrive. I want the
sun up enough to see but not so far risen to warm our enemy. If we can
catch them still frozen, all the better. Dismissed until a zode before
Eibhlin looked to the city as the Utan dispersed and thought she saw
someone on the wall. That wasn’t unusual as the Jeddek of Jahar,
whomever Sonoma Tora was currently married to, ensured that the walls of
Jahar were bristling to discourage the Kobol forces from seeing the city
as vulnerable. Raising her field-glass to her eyes, she saw a woman
watching the company. “Lakon,” she called, “Look yonder, that woman
on the wall. She appears to be dressed as a noble. Do you know her?”
The Thern looked himself and commented, “Could be Sonoma Tora, the Jeddera
of Jahar. But I cannot be certain. The coins Jahar is paying
us carry the Jeddak’s face, not the Jeddera’s.”
“What do you know of her?” Eibhlin asked.
“Very little,” which was untrue for the Therns lived by secrecy, their
skill with the sword and the information they gathered. Lakon would
know everything about the Jeddera and reveal only what he thought was public,
keeping the best to himself. “She is of Helium but married Tul Axter
in a bid for power and position. Some say she was abducted and forced,
others that her father arraigned the marriage and pretended that she was
abducted to save face. Regardless, she was married to the despot
until Tan Hadron, also of Helium, sought her freedom out of love.
Strange thing is that he found that he loved a boyish slave girl more than
he did Sonoma Tora who is a great beauty. Still, when Tul Axter was
killed and Jahar broken, Sonoma Tora remained, married one of her step-sons
and remained on the throne. Whether she adapted to her role to survive
or was like this always is moot, what IS known is that any husband who
fails her dies suspiciously and she marries another of Tul Axter’s brood
to retain her position. I would not wish to cross that woman.”
The former god left quietly and Eibhlin glanced at the wall again.
A woman who married power and became ruthless to retain power. Eibhlin
commented to the absent Thern, “Had my family lived and the English not
burned my home, I would have been like her, married to some weak Tierna
to cement alliance and rule at his side, manipulating him and my people
to drive the British out of Ireland. I wonder if I would be as ruthless?
I understand that woman.”
Eibhlin drank little that night, wishing to spend the darkness in furs,
not with her head and arse in the latrine for even the best Barsoomian
wine ran through her system as if she had dysentery. Her fellow mercenaries
drank hard, for to tell a Panthan to avoid drink was like telling them
to avoid women, neither order would be obeyed and the man who sought to
enforce that order would find himself alone on the battlefield. The
best they could hope for was that the Panthans would seek the furs early
enough to avoid a bad hangover and most would. Those that drank overly
much usually died in the next-day’s battle and the Dwar had a way of ensuring
that those with too little control and overly aching head were on the front
Larena came to her, crawled under the fur seeking warmth for with the
setting of the Martian Sun, not only did light end almost as if someone
had turned a switch, but so did the warmth. And Jahar, at fifty degrees
south, was cold enough. “Mistress, I fear for the morrow. I
hear strange things of U-Gor. Even those of Jhama spoke of the place
Holding her slave close, more for physical warmth than to comfort the
girl, she laughed, “You heard what our Captain said. All we need
to fear are some savages. I’ve been all over this galaxy and seen
lots of monsters, including Green Pirates that would cause even your Green
Men to quake in fear, and somehow, all managed to die under blade or beamer
“Warriors run out of bullets and their sword arm tires as the hours
of fighting pass.”
Eibhlin laughed then kissed her slave-lover, “I am far stronger than
any woman or man on this planet. My bones were made to survive the crushing
gravity of Jasoom and the Demons who abducted and changed me made me stronger
still. I can easily carry a case of radium bullets with the same
ease that you carry our sleeping furs. And I don’t tire as easily
as you do.”
“Then my dearest mistress, please do so. I would feel safer knowing
that you are high on a rock shooting the savages from afar than in their
midst where a lucky sword could pierce your back.”
“If it gets to that, I shall. Neither Han Kosal not Sonoma Tora
pay me enough to risk my life needlessly. And when the need arises,
I can outrun a thoat.” She didn’t mention that she could, but only for
a short distance until her Earthly lungs shut down from the thin air.
“Come, let us bundle until the morning’s dawn.” Then rising, still
wrapped, they proceeded to their tent, little more than a silk cloth on
poles over a hollow between some rocks that would retain some of the day’s
heat. Then, when undressed, Eibhlin kissed Larena gently and
found the girls soft hands exploring her body, raising passion that must
be controlled for fear of breaking the Red Woman. Still, the time
Larena took with her lips on her owner’s ears and neck easily matched the
sensations of the Red Girl’s hands elsewhere and entwined, their passion
exploded a dozen times, followed by another hour of kissing and touching
until Eibhlin fell asleep, happy.
The next morning, the slaves gathered with the Panthan’s unneeded gear
for they would remain behind as their owners went to war. Normally
they would remain near the battlefield, safe but vulnerable to capture
by the victors, this time, however, they must remain far behind for fear
that the savages would avoid the mercenaries and attack to consume the
helpless slaves. Larena cried a few tears fearing that she would
never see her beloved mistress again. Eibhlin blew her a kiss as
she entered the flier and the slaved watched the three transports lift
off, rear propellers turning to push the airships to the horizon and beyond.
Larena watched the flier become lost in the distance, fearing for her
future. The others not caring, for to a slave, one master was pretty
much no different from another. If the Panthans returned, life would
go on, if not, they would be sold on the block to another. Few free men
would deign to kill a slave, partly from honor, partly from the needless
loss of income that selling the slave would bring. Larena was different.
Still young, not even fully mature for her age, though 18 years Earth-time,
meant that she was far from the forty that would mark her fully grown and
mature. And before Eibhlin, her life was one of work and use by any free
man in the fortress of Jhama and the men there were not as gentle and caring
as was the Irish woman. Religion was scarce upon Barsoom since John
Carter had destroyed the religion of the Therns and the one she met, Lakon,
who was a friend to Eibhlin was far from the god-like beings that many
thought. Still she tried to pray for the safety of her owner-lover,
though to what gods even she could not say. Her only consolation
was that Eibhlin had bribed a farmer to take her up the waterway to a farm
where she would be safe until Eibhlin returned.
What Larena did not know was that Eibhlin had bribed the farmer to not
only take care of the girl, but if she did not return, to encourage one
of his sons to marry the former slave who held to her breast her papers
The fliers landed, six of them, four from Jahar, two from Kobol,
the latter bearing only Panthans. On the edge of the U-Gor Province
Eibhlin could almost smell the moisture that had made this one of the most
fertile regions on Barsoom. She knelt and took a handful of the ochre
soil, real soil and not dirt and smelled the fertility of the land.
Tul Axter should burn in the Barsoomian version of Hell for denuding this
Battle-weary Red Men dragged themselves into the fliers to return home,
men exhausted with killing and with them, the Panthans knew that they would
win or loose for their own flier, their only means of escape, was lifting
off with battered warriors, hopefully to return on the morrow. One
of her fellows came to her and said, “I see now why you carry so much ammunition.
Would you sell me a box or two?”
“Perhaps later I’ll trade you a box for a canteen of water. But
for now I think I’ll carry my own.” Eibhlin drank thrice the water
of a Red Man and that was rarely enough for her body, adapted to a world
as wet as Earth where she would never be more than a mile from a stream
of cool, pure water.
The companies formed along a line, each a dozen paces from the man on
either side and at a command, they moved forward at a slow walk.
The first haad or two was uneventful for the former soldiers had driven
the savages back, but then a group rose from some rocks and surrounded
one of the Panthans. He fought well, killing three before his fellows
could reach him and then the Panthans were alone as their Padwar, Ral Silvas
yelled, “Reform that line! Beware a feint!” and the line reformed,
waiting as those who had killed the savages examined the bodies.
“Nothing Padwar! Naked and not even a belt. They look like
they are animals holding a sword. This should be easy.”
“Were it that easy, then why is Jahar still seeking to take U-Gor after
nearly fifty years? You saw they whom we relieved, so stay awake
and alert and expect worse than you were told.”
They moved forward again and a zode later Hermm called out, “Beware!
I see a savage waiting for us!” Ral Silvas called a halt to the line
and his order was passed down the line. Eibhlin pulled her field
glass and examined the creature. It was a typical Red Man in build
and form though totally naked. Not naked as are the usual Red Man
who wore little more than a harness to cover their loins and hold their
weapons but the impression Eibhlin received was that this was an animal
that only looked like a man. While in California, she had read the
stories about Burrough’s other, more famous hero, the Englishman who had
been raised by apes in Africa, but all the reports of that happening in
real life, of people raised by animals were far different. They never
recovered and were human in form only, their minds and instincts and emotions
remaining that of the beasts who raised them. This was the same.
No noble savage but an filth-encrusted animal who carried a naked sword
only because it had seen enough humans carry one to know the value of such
It waited there, holding the blade, watching the line. Then it lifted
its head and gave an eerie howl that made the short hairs on Eibhlin’s
neck bristle. Once, in Ireland in 1650 or so, she had been in the
woods with her father, homeless after the British had burned their home
in revenge, seeking a rabbit for their meal when she heard that sound.
Not a wolf, but wolfhounds gone feral and so having the instincts of the
wolves they were bred to hunt but no longer seeing man as friend.
And so having no fear, were all the more dangerous. “Padwar!” she
called out, “Ready the line!”
Ral Silvas looked at her then another howl caused his to scream, “To
arms! Form a square! Muskets to the center, blades out!”
The men rushed to follow orders but the savages struck before they could
make ready and some half dozen were dragged down by weight of numbers before
they could fight back. Eibhlin knew not the skills she had sought
to hone only the hack and slash and a constant moving for those before
her would engage, snarling and growling as they hacked without skill, then
she would estann someone behind her and turning, kill the savage that was
about to run her through the back, only to have to turn again to face her
former opponents. Slowly she fought her way to the rest who had managed,
they who survived, to reach Ral Silvas and Lakon who was dealing death
as the god he once was. Lakon seemed to be singing, so happy was
he to kill for now no one would argue at his killing the ‘lesser orders’.
Eventually, they formed a square but so closely were they pressed that
none dared to take the time to pull revolver from holster or rifle from
back. A part of Eibhlin watched the dead… Women and youths
approached and began to tear at the bodies, Red Man and Savage with equal
heed, consuming not only their foes but their own lovers as well.
Eibhlin wanted to be sick but was to busy to take the moments to even vomit
at the sight.
The savages had no skills, they simply stood before in a group and hacked
and stabbed without purpose, spending most of their efforts on blocking
her own thrusts and cuts until one could stab her from behind. Thus,
despite her superior skill and strength, she was on the defensive only,
occasionally taking a precious second or two to reach over and cut or stab
one savage who was seeking to work his way around one of her fellow Panthans.
And so the battle raged for hours until a hoard of monsters arrived over
VII THE VARTANIANS
The first she saw were white men hacking away at children, cutting
them like wheat, but then she realized that there were no children on Barsoom.
These were giants! Easily eight to nine feet tall, confusing in perspective,
the pair moved forward with three normal men following, dispatching the
wounded and engaging they who sought to surround the small group.
Soon the savages broke and the Panthan army was too exhausted to follow.
Collapsing, Ral Silvas cried, “Arm muskets, count by threes, ONE!”
By the time the numbers reached Eibhlin she barely remembered to call
out “Three!” and when the counting was done, a quarter of their number
“Ones on guard with rifles! Shoot anything that appears to be
a savage! Twos on burial detail, threes rest! We shift in half
a zode.” Ral Silvas was shouting so Eibhlin sat and watched the giants
speak to her Dwar as Ral Silvas walked, no staggered over to listen in.
The five new members collapsed as well giving Eibhlin and the others a
chance to look them over as one of the giants came to sit next to Eibhlin.
“Greetings to you,” he said in a language it took Eibhlin a moment to recognize.
“You’re a Mon!” She replied. Eibhlin had watched the _Conan_ movie
in California with that Austrian weight-lifter in the lead role and these
Mon would make him look skinny and fat. Eibhlin supposed that a magnificent
build was deemed necessary by the Demons in their soldiers for the War
with the Kris. As the Red Men had no heavy gravity to fight, none
were as muscular or defined as even a well-built human and so all suffered
in comparison with these giants.
Laughing he continued, his accent and dialect unfamiliar, “What else
would I be?” Some 650 years ago the Demons had abducted an English
village and dumped them into Demon space ten thousand light years away.
Then the Diaspora happened and the Saxons left to become the Vanthi, the
Christians formed the Holy Empire which started the Kris Wars against the
Pagan Normans. With the Wars going badly, the Demons changed the
Normans into Mon, giant soldiers to fight the Christians of the Holy Empire.
“I didn’t know any of you were willing to take the time from the Kris
Wars to come here and fight in this war?”
Confused, the giant answered, “The Kris Wars have been over for some
three-quarters of a Century! I thought you Drakonans were educated
enough to know history?”
“Drakonis?” Then enlightenment. “Oh, you’re from the future.
I’m from about 510 commonwealth year.” Time travel was such a pile
of sheep-shit at times. Eibhlin was from the middle of the 17th century
and thought that today, on Barsoom, it was sometime in the 21st century,
Earth time but couldn’t be certain.
The Mon laughed again and called to his friend, “Harrold! This Weir
is from the past! She thinks the Kris Wars are still going on.”
Harrold laughed back and said something to the three dark-skinned people
at his side who laughed too as if in jest.
“I said something funny?” she asked, too tired to even be angry.
“No, not at all. It’s just that we have a Weir from your future
in our company. He’s out there somewhere with the rest of the company.”
Before she could query him further, he was called away and forced himself
to his feet groaning, “I am so glad gravity here is so light. We’ve been
in a running fight for two days without rest.”
Then, “Hey! Before you go, do you have anything to eat? I’ve been
eating Barsoomian food for three years and would kill for some mutton!”
The Mon laughed back and pulled a package from his pack, “Trail Rations.
Not good to the tongue but filling and nutritious. Best I can do,”
his deep voice boomed over his shoulder.
Eibhlin looked over the packages, each about 6’ x 3” x 1” and struggled
to read the writing. As best she could decipher, you tore the wrapping,
ate the insides, turned the wrapper inside out and ate that for roughage.
She had opened the first one as was eating it ravenously with a moan when
Lakon sat next to her. “What is that?”
She moaned again and said, “Heaven! Mon have the same biology
as do I so this food here is made for us. A couple years ago I would
have refused to eat it but today, Ambrosia wouldn’t taste as good.”
“Mon? I gather that our visitors are aliens too? What brings
so many of you to my world?”
“I never thought to ask him. The two giants are Mon, Jasoomians
who were changed by Demons to be soldiers as I was changed to be a technical
slave. I never saw the olive-skinned ones before though that Mon
claims that there is another Weir with them. Probably my Nephew has
returned to fetch me home.” Jason, no Janice had left Barsoom to
return the Earth scientists to their home and promised to come back to
fetch her. It was time, she thought, to return home.
“Whatever brings them here, I’m glad they arrived when they did.
My sword arm was getting tired.” He held his hand, received a bit
of the bar and after tasting, spat it out, “How can you eat this thoat-dung?”
“Now you know what I taste when I eat your food.” She replied, finishing
the bar and forcing herself to eat the wrapper. It wasn’t half-bad.
When she was finished, she was placed on guard duty and stood on a large
rock with a short rifle in hand, her revolver loosened in its holster as
she scanned the terrain with her field glass. The Red Men were dragging
the savages to a nearby crater and tossing them within without ceremony
while others were digging a trench in a gully to bury their dead comrades.
Eibhlin watched them do a religious service then pile rocks over the bodies
and then lay a number of radium bullets under another layer of rocks. Any
savage that tried to dig those bodies out would ignite the rounds and suffer
dangerous and hopefully fatal injuries.
The newcomers were still talking to her Dwar, too far away to understand
the words but it was clear that they were allies, for now so when Ral Silvas
approached, she did another scan of the area and listened to him speak
to the group. “These.. aliens are Panthans as are we, hired to clean
out U-Gor. It appears that the Jeddak of Jahar grows tired of loosing
his own people so would rather hire foreigners to die for him. Regardless
of who they are, they are her for the same reason we are, to kill the savages.
BUT, one thing that Jahar never mentioned, U-Gor extends into the Torquas
Basin and that is often patrolled by Green Men so beware of this new danger.”
He moved off to tell what he knew to others as Eibhlin thought that he
was a good officer to keep his men informed and listen to suggestions but
not afraid to take command.
Later, when her shift was over, the burial duties were over and Eibhlin
moved to talk to the aliens. If Jason or Janice were here, she wanted
to see him. At the least, they had a ship and could easily reach
Before she could reach them, Ral Silvas called her over, “Avleen Oobreen!
Take Lakon and head east seeking the remainder of the alien company.
I’d like to spare more and hate loosing you two but if I must, you two
have the best chance of survival. Hide over engagement. Don’t
worry about killing savages as they will come to us for that. Just
sneak in, try to find the others and sneak back alive.”
“Why us?” Lakon asked he followed Eibhlin from rock to rock, she looking
around before she moved.
“Doubtless he knows of my past on Jasoom where I did just this when
I fought the British in Ireland. Or maybe he is trying to get rid
of the non Red-Men to ease tensions in the company. The Red Men are
resenting so many aliens, including you. Keep down until you are
certain that there is no one around.”
“Why this way?” he asked. “You move as if you had a purpose.”
“My kind can feel the presence of another of our race. That is
how Jason knew to seek me in that valley. I feel that there is someone
in this direction.”
They moved on in silence until Lakon whispered, “here!”
Approaching his position, she saw an egg nearly three feet long hiding
between some rocks for warmth. “Do you think it’s human?” she asked.
Everything on Barsoom save one shrew-like mammal laid eggs.
“Only one way to find out.” He motioned her forward.
Eibhlin looked around then drew her short sword and struck the egg which
opened immediately. Just as immediately, she lost her lunch when
she saw what exited the ruin. A child, it couldn’t be more than five
years or so it looked, bleeding from her blow with umbilical cord still
attached to a small reddish-yellow yolk sac.
Lakon looked at her then finished the job, killing the child with one
thrust. “You never saw one of ours like this?” He knew how humans
reproduced but unlike Eibhlin, didn’t feel it in his soul.
Wiping her mouth, she tried to not look at the body. “no.
I saw the eggs in the incubators but… it’s so like a human child.”
“Without parents and family to socialize, it is just another beast.
We should search for more. Most lower orders are territorial and
lay all their eggs in one area.”
“I can’t. You must do it.”
Giving her a look of disgust, the Thern moved around, searching and
occasionally thrusting his sword into a crevice. Eibhlin hoped he
was human enough to not eat the children he was murdering. She knew that
as a god he had done so, seeing roasted humans from eggs to be a delicacy.
She repressed that thought with her stomach and moved apart from the ruin.
Lakon returned, his blade clean and commented, “We should move on before
their mothers return. Doubtless they shall consume what I have left.”
Eibhlin vomited again knowing that he had said that only to get a rise
from the alien who he saw as related to the cause of his religion’s extinction.
They moved on, guided by Eibhlin’s ‘feeling’ that the others that they
sought were ‘that way’. “Strange,” she said, “Usually I could pinpoint
Jason or Janice almost exactly. This is different, just a feeling.”
Perhaps her intimacy with the other gave her more to detect, though why
now? Distance? Or the horrors she had seen were dulling her
“At least we won’t get lost,” the Thern commented.
“Lost?” She stopped. “Haven’t you been keeping track of
Looking around he pointed, “I recognize that rock and think I can get
us back from there. You focus on where we are to go, I’ll remember
how to get back. It would be ironic for me to be consumed by these
savages after centuries of dining on them.” The man had a dry wit
about him Eibhlin thought.
Fortunately, they found no more eggs but they did occasionally see a
hunting savage, naked and filthy and stalking like an animal. One
was sneaking up on another which he ran through from behind and then began
to feed as its mate came forward to join in. The two Panthans snuck
up and killed them both then moved on.
Another time the spotted a couple hunting and Eibhlin led Lakon to set
an ambush where the two savages lay bleeding soon after. “I find
this form of killing to be not honorable,” he said as he wiped the blood
from his blade.
“I fought like this for years in Ireland. We were always outnumbered
and outgunned so had to fight the best we could. Come!” And
they walked on.
It was nearing dark when they found the others, moving across the field
from rock to rock. “That’s not Jason or Janice. She has strawberry
hair and he light-brown while that man had black hair.”
“Is you entire planet moving to Barsoom? Rather from descriptions
of your world, we should trade.” The Thern commented.
“At least we haven’t seen any savages for zode or more,” she offered,
a zode being about two and a half hours. She then tossed a rock to
get their attention and as they froze then ducked, she waved her hand.
The others looked around and then approached, their leader, a Vanthi, hairy
and blonde in his Barsoomian harness crying quietly, “Who are you?
And what of the rest of our troop?”
“Safe, at least the two Mon and three dark-skinned men are. We
are sent to find you.” Eibhlin explained as they looked over the
three. She had lived for years in Vanthi space so the Saxons
were no stranger to her. Lakon, though, was entranced by their blonde
hair, heavily braided beards and chest hair thick as a rug. Aside
from the Yellow Men of the North, all Barsoomians were beardless and bare
of chest. The third was a Weir, and not Jason. Obviously younger,
darker of hair that looked almost blue in its blackness and with the build
of an athlete, but not as well as the Mon, he smiled at her, appraising
the Irish woman in a manner that wasn’t insulting but appreciative.
Looking around the Vanthi leader said, “I am Alric Thorsson, this is
Sebbi Shieldbittr and Ras Muras of Sothis. What are your names?”
Vanthi rarely mentioned their homes to outsiders so it was interesting
that he mentioned the Weir’s home. Obviously they didn’t consider
him to be one of them.
“I am the Princess Eibhlin Ingean Ui Bhrian of Ireland and this is my
companion, Lakon of the Otz Valley. Is there some place safe for
“As safe as can be any place in this infested locale. We’ve cleaned
out most of the savages in this area but that usually means that more will
move in and take over. Still, there is a crater and cave over there
that is as safe as anyplace. We can talk there.”
The Saxon led them to a nearby hill that they climbed easily though
Lakon needed help, “Stop pulling my tail or you’ll tear it off,” Eibhlin
admonished. He was clinging to that member as he struggled to climb.
Like Red Men, the Therns were poor climbers but for a race that had been
in space for centuries like the Vanthi or who had been engineered for climbing
around a starship, the rise was as a walk in the park.
“Let me assist,” Ras commented, extending his own tail to the Thern
who took the thicker member with some disguised gratitude.
And soon they were at the top and inside the shallow crater where they
were led to a cave hidden in the wall.
“We think that this was a natural cave created by a meteor impact that
was dug out by some animal. Still it is large enough for us all and
hidden form view. And if the savages are no better at climbing than
your companion, we will be safe here tonight. So we eat, drink and
tell stories through the night.”
“Can I speak to you outside,” Eibhlin asked the other Weir.
“Of course. Captain, I’ll be outside but within the rim.”
“Be certain to remember details,” the Vanthi laughed as he opened a
bottle of beer that the Thern tasted then spat out. “All the more
for us!” Alric commented.
“I was never comfortable around Vanthi. They treat their women
like possessions.” Eibhlin commented, then outside under the further moon,
she sat, wrapped her furs around herself and asked, “Did Jason or
Janice send you to fetch me?”
“I don’t know who you are talking about. I’m a Vartanian Mercenary
recruited on Sothis after the Third Shitai War. You said you were
from Ireland? The last I heard that planet was still be terra-formed.”
“No, Ireland on Earth. When were you taken by the Demons.
I never heard of any country called Sothis, but then, I’m from the 17th
century and we didn’t know a lot abut the rest of the world.”
“Now I’m confused.” He replied.
Seeing that, she laughed, “Now I understand. In my time your Barony
didn’t exist and most of Demon Space was under control of the Holy Empire
of God in Christ. The pagan Mon and the Demons were fighting the
Christians and the Vanthi were still pirates. So you, like my nephew,
are from the future.
“I suppose that I should give you my story. I was born in Ireland
on Earth in 1635 and taken by the Demons and made into this form when I
was killed by the British in 1653. They released me from their slavery,
gave me a Vanthi starship and I have been traveling the last twenty years
since searching for others of my kind. Just a few months ago I met
my nephew, Jason who was also a Weir and he told me about Drakonis.
I visited Earth, my Vanthi lover left me and I came her to forget her and
an trapped. Jason rescued some American scientists and returned them
to Earth promising to fetch me when he could but that was a couple weeks
ago and I suppose it is too soon for his return.”
He handed her a bottle of wine which, not being Barsoomian, she sucked
at greedily as he began. “I was born in the Barony of Drakonis on
Sothis which is on the frontier. Shortly before I was eighteen, the
Shitai invaded, we were evacuated and after the war, returned to rebuild.
I disliked being a farmer and when the Vartanians arrived seeking soldiers
for their Mercenary armies, I enlisted and have been fighting for them
the last three years. We took a contract on Barsoom to exterminate
the savages of U-Gor and have been fighting these last months, though to
be honest, I think that they breed faster than we can kill them.
Plus the Green Men are to the east and they are always a danger.”
He was playing with her hair as she drank his wine until she pushed him
“Is that all you Weir think about? A woman is more than a womb
to slake your lust. I’m a person and besides I prefer women.”
“I’m sorry. But it has been a long time since I was with a woman
of my own race, three years in fact and I tire of aliens. I forgot
that you aren’t born this way or you’d know.”
“Yes, I know.” She snapped in a sarcastic tone, “Weir are accommodating
and will bed anyone of either gender that they wish. You are all like rabbits!
But I’m different. Just because this body needs a man occasionally,
I still want a woman. And I like to be romanced. So either
sit with me as a friend or return to your comrades.”
Relenting, they sat for awhile watching the stars and the further moon
until Eibhlin asked, “I know Mon technology and Vanthi as well, both being
far above this world. So why not just scan and kill the Savages from
“Non interference policy. When we Merc, we agree to use local
technology only. I think that is why the Vartanians gave up war,
their technology grew too great and they risked the destruction of entire
systems with a single thought. So they gave up war but Merc out express
their more aggressive instincts.”
“Oh. You’ve done this long?”
“Since I was eighteen. Three years I think.
I prefer this level of war. All that push-button conflict where the
Demons turn a star into a supernova from a dozen light years away by touching
a button seems to be a waste and… horrible. At least here I can see
the people who I am killing and they have a chance to defend themselves.”
The nearer moon appeared over the distant horizon and sped across the
sky. The twin moons of Barsoom were in an eccentric orbit so could
be seen from a greater latitude than if they were orbiting the equator
as on earth, still, at nearly 55 degrees south, they were far to the north
and were the two on the bottom of the crater, both moons would be invisible.
“Beautiful!” Ras commented. “We have two moons on Sothis too but
neither are this low and beautiful.” He began to recite;
“A Poet could have a volume this sight,
Their lunar faces shining bright
Speeding across the darkened sky
My heart races to pursue.”
Eibhlin stared at him, “You’re a poet?”
“Not really, but my grandparents were from Japan and Haiku is learned
early, though I am far from good.”
“Do one about me,” she asked, sipping from his bottle, her lips suddenly
He looked at her then began:
“Foreign woman with ebony braids
Round face like the further moon
Not the man she pretends to be
But beautiful in her own right.”
“Damn! You win. I’m ready now.”
He laughed, caressing her cheek with his tail tip. “What if I
want to be romanced?”
Laughing, Eibhlin undid the silk covering her breasts, “These are all
the romance a man needs. But I’m freezing here, lay your furs on the ground
and crawl under mine.”
Later, their tails caressing each other, she whispered, “I still prefer
women but, well that was nice. And it’s good that I don’t have to
fear breaking you. I did that once last year, I waited too long and
in my Need I hurt the man servicing me.”
He lay his fingers to her lips and said,
“Shhh, just lay here, watching the stars,
Passions stilled for the moment
Your hair like perfume to my soul
Our hearts beating in tune.”
“My God, keep that up and you’ll have to keep this up all night,” she
commented sitting upon him to find him still ready. Jason was like
that, she thought as she slid down, feeling his length, sometimes never
growing soft, sometimes ready only seconds after.
They were woken as the sun rose over the crater wall by Lakon who asked,
“Did you two get any sleep last night?”
Yawning, she replied, “Not much but then, I’m feeling really good right
now so abuse me at your own peril.” She then kissed her lover, no
not her lover, just someone to … something to… It was more than physical.
She felt … She hadn’t felt like this since Kevin. He was from 20th
century Nevada and human and she sometimes feared hurting him in their
passion but he actually cared for her and her feelings and needs as much
as he did his wife Cyndi. Those were fun years together, almost a
three-way marriage with each enjoying the others equally. Eibhlin
often wondered what they did after they left her ship all those years ago.
She had tried to prepare them for space and even bought them their own
smaller ship then… they were gone. They all were gone. Kara,
Cyndi & Kevin, Chlareissah, they all left her. Maybe even Larena
had married one of the farmer’s sons she had been sent to. Feeling
sad, she asked, “Lakon, can we have a few minutes please?”
He nodded and left as she woke Ras, “Love me again, please. Gently.”
This time it took only minutes, both knowing that they had to leave and
focusing their attention on the act. She hadn’t intended to but she
climaxed with him which was a surprise and clutching him to her, she shuddered
and relaxed. “That was nice but we have to go.”
“Please, not another poem or we’ll be here all day.”
He lifted his weight and reached for her harness and weapons first,
then his own and then dressed, rolled their furs and caught up to the others
who were fast reaching the summit of the crater.
“Shhh,” Alric pointed to the east where, hidden by the rising sun they
barely made out a line of green.
“Raiding party!” Lakon commented. “Torquas reaching into U-Gor
for booty or more likely savages to torture. We should wait until
they are gone.”
Nodding, all save Lakon were below the summit, he remaining to watch
the Green Men. It did give the Weir a chance to eat their missed
breakfast, Eibhlin enjoying the field rations she was offered. “If
you had been eating what this planet has to offer for three years, you’d
kill for these food bars yourself.”
“Then,” Sebbi laughed, “Hel and Woden grant that I never stay here that
A quarter zode later Lakon called, “I think it is safe now. I’d
rather face an army of savages over a single Green Man.”
Ras laughed at this, “We spent a week fighting their space-faring relatives
once. THAT was terrifying and we lost half our company. These
“You never met one face-to-face as did I when I arrived here.
They may be thinner than the Green Pirates I fought before but they are
every bit as dangerous and terrifying.”
Carefully and quietly they moved to the west, trusting Lakon to lead
them to their comrades. Twice they hid from a large number of savages
also heading west as Alric stated, “They are massing for an attack, otherwise
they’d never band thus. Our main duty is to get back alive and warn
the others. Being killed and eaten here will do noon any good if
that mob pushes on.”
Once they were discovered and as the savage raised its face to howl
its discovery, Eibhlin cut him in half with her beamer. Then they
ran, having to slow for the humans had not the lung power of the Thern
despite their greater strength.
“Should we split up, hoping one will get through?” Ras asked.
“No,” Alric replied. “Our small group is as easily hidden as a
single man and if discovered, we can defend each other.”
At a rest while Eibhlin and Ras panted, “I recall watching war vids
on Sothis from Terra. At times like this someone always remains behind
to guard the rear so that the rest could get through and warn their comrades.”
“I watched those too in Los Angeles.” Eibhlin replied. “And in
Ireland we did the same, sacrificing ourselves for the group. BUT,
my dear Ras, WE were fighting to free our country from invaders.
Here, we are fighting for gold and I’m not willing to throw away my life
for that. Nation and family, yes, but not strangers who would desert
me and us to save a few coins. Leave your noble values for those
who have earned them.” “Was I ever that young, she asked herself.
Another battle broke out then they rounded a hillock and Lakon bumped
into a savage, both falling backward though Lakon recovered first, slashing
the beast’s throat to prevent a cry. Before he could rise, the rest
had passed him and attacked the group following the savage and soon, covered
with blood, they were standing amongst the dead.
“I hear a howl!” Eibhlin said. “We’ve been discovered.”
“Then we run! If we can, remain in a group for anyone who lags
behind risks us all!” And he took off at a gallop.
Lakon easily took the lead, his body adapted for Barsoom’s climate but
the rest soon were sweating, panting and Sebbi collapsed from heat-stroke
Alric drained his canteen, popped a stimulant pill and pulled his comrade
to his own back and staggered on, none of the group willing to leave them
behind. Alric’s example had forced all to that loyalty Ras Muras
They had to rest. Save the Thern, none had the lungs to breath
the thin Barsoomian air at a run. Save the Thern, none could cross that
desert without more water than they possessed. As to why Lakon remained
with them when he could easily have left them, he did not say. They
were simply grateful that the former god was there for when the savages
attacked, he was first to meet the hoard.
“Take the high ground,” Alric croaked, “make the savages work for their
Exhausted, and near death from lack of water and heat and sun, the others
pulled revolvers and emptied their cylinders into the onrushing beasts.
With every round, a savage fell, a large hole in his breast. Lakon
dealt death with every cut with every thrust a savage fell but still they
Catching his breath, Alric pulled buckles at shoulder and belt to release
a massive blade. Two inches wide and four feet long, this was
a weapon made to cleave armor and before the it slim steel of the Red Man
was as a fencing foil. Planting his feet, he took his great sword
in both hands and swung and when the arc was ended, he spun and swung again,
his blade moving in a figure-8, his upper body twisting from right to left
his great belly threatening to strain his belts to their limit..
And against that engine of destruction, nothing could stand. Bodies
and parts of bodies were thrown by the force of his strength, far greater
than any Red Man.
Eibhlin faced her own foes with her Demon blade, the metal honed to
a near molecular edge and she cut bodies and limbs as if they were paper.
Ras stood by her side with his Barsoomian long sword in one hand, his short
sword in the other. For what the Earthmen, or rather their descendents
lacked in Lakon’s skill, they made up in raw strength.
Then as the group were certain that they were dead, the savages pulled
back. Perhaps they found the nightmare of they who opposed them to
be too monstrous to face. Perhaps some savages backed off from fear
and that fear was contagious. Perhaps some saw the dead an easier
meal than the living and that idea spread. Whatever the reason, the
savages backed away, dragging bodies and parts of bodies to consume alone
or in groups as their mates crawled forth to share in the bounty.
Alric leaned on his great sword, notched from contact with the Forundus
steel of the savages but far too heavy to be broken and looked at the Thern,
barely standing. “Thern! Woden Himself watched this battle
and when you die, he will escort you himself to Valhalla.”
“Is Valhalla your heaven?” was the reply.
“Certainly it is. And a better place does not exist. The
dead fight all day and feast all night to fight the next day.”
“Then, my hairy white comrade, I think I shall pass for right now I
am too tired to fight and were I to move this thin blade, I would surely
fall to the ground to be consumed by yonder beasts.”
“Suit yourself. But Odin watched you anyway. Though,” he laughed,
“As hairless as you are, beware the feasts lest you be mistaken for a woman
and bent over a table and violated before the truth be known.”
Laughing despite himself, the Thern replied, “You aliens are a disgusting
lot. But I am proud to have fought with you at my side.”
Ras Muras checked his revolver then replaced it into its holster, “No
more bullets. I believe the rest are the same else they would not
have dropped the weapons and drawn steel.”
“I think that I have killed more men today than in my entire life.”
Eibhlin added. Then smelling her armpit, added again, “I need a hot
bath and a lot of soap.” Then looking at the gruesome feast, asked,
“Do you think they will let us go?”
“Go if you wish, “Lakon replied,” but I am near death myself and cannot
walk a dozen paces.”
Pulling her medical kit she had been using to treat the wounds of Ras
and herself, she approached the Thern, “None seem life-threatening.
Let me treat you and I’ll carry you back.”
“A God upon the back of a lesser being and a woman at that!” He was
indignant but allowed her to treat his wounds. “Rather will I remain
here and die.”
“Men!” she replied with considerable disgust. “You Therns are
like the Vanthi, seeing a woman as just a toy. Well, I killed as
many as did you and can carry you further now than you could carry me if
you were in your prime.”
Taking her hand, Ras Muras kissed her knuckles and said, “We Weir value
women as equals and I know that without you here today, they would dine
upon us and not each other. I will carry the Thern if you will carry
“Then we go!” said Alric, and lifting Sebbi with a groan, they moved
on away from the savages who glared but ceased not in their feasting.
Passing past one group of filthy savages, male and female, eating one
of the dead that they had dragged apart from the others, Alric said as
the things growled at him, “Truly are these animals, for a man would not
allow us to leave after the slaughter of so many of their fellows.
I was wrong, Woden cares not for Warriors who kill a herd of beasts.”
Zodes later they arrived at the Line which had advanced haads in their
absence. “Beware, the savages mass. Hold the line and ready
for a battle that will chill even the Valkyries.”
There was no attack that day, nor the next so Eibhlin found a spring,
dug a pool and shared the find with Ras, the Vanthi and even the Mon who
also missed a bath. The three olive skinned men were Kentaurans,
former Celts who had moved to that the desert world of Kentaurus and so
felt at home on Barsoom, laughing at the Weir and Mon’s desire to soak
in precious water.
Eibhlin and Ras slept together those two nights and Eibhlin found that
good sex DID make her wounds heal faster for by the time he was called
with his company to another part of U-Gor, her tail was almost completely
healed. She kissed the man and whispered, “In my forty-five years
of life there have been only two men that I called lover, you are the third.
I’ll miss you.”
“My dear, though I am barely twenty-two, I will treasure those words
for the next five-hundred years. Hopefully when this is over, we
will meet again.”
Eibhlin watched him and his troop leave, then she made certain she had
plenty of ammunition, her sword was ready and her beamer working.
Then she bathed again, filled her stomach and canteen and approached the
Line which the savages were approaching. The Vartanians would flank
the savages then push deeper into U-Gor as would her company, once this
battle was done.
The Savages attacked in numbers the next day and the fighting lasted
a day and a half-without break. It took another three days to bury the
bodies and the howls of the banths and calots that dug them up prevented
sleep for another week.
THE PROVINCE OF U-GOR
Eibhlin’s company moved forward to the city. The map showed it to
be U-Gor, the capital of the province built on a bay overlooking the Torquas
Ocean then following the receding waters to the rich fertile seabed where
farms had spread. The map indicated that the seabed was so rich and
damp that waterways were unnecessary and watering rare.
The Map showed that the western part of U-Gor was mountainous which
was why it was so difficult to totally exterminate the savages. They
simply had too many places to hide. But the map also showed that
the eastern part that stretched into the seabed was mostly flat or rolling
which gave anyone or anything ample room to raid if they choose.
What the map did NOT show was that all of U-Gor east of this city was
roamed by the Green Hoard of Torquas, unrestrained since the fall of the
Province during the reign of Tul Axter. The map also did not show
how many times this city had been retaken by Jahar, only to be lost to
the teeming hoards of savages or the Torquas Hoards, both of whom found
that Jahar would not garrison the city adequately enough to defend it.
Privately Eibhlin wondered why they didn’t? With a little work, U-Gor
could be returned to her former glory but none of the Jeddaks of Jahar
would spend the resources to do so. They would send in armies of
their own and armies of Panthans to exterminate the savages but then deny
the new colonists the military protection they needed to save them from
the Green Men of Torquas or the savages that escaped the exterminations
and rebred to their former numbers.
The flier landed in the central square of U-Gor, capital city of the
province of U-Gor, a square that overlooked the bay, now dry and deep.
To the east the city ended at the walls that held off the Torquas.
To the west and south, the mountains were enough protection from the Green
Hoards but not the savages who had the intelligence of a man and the ferocity
of an animal but lacking the socialization of either. The savages
had no language, no culture, nothing but their filth and the swords they
carried. Even their mates carried blades though they rarely took
part in the fighting, preferring to allow the males to fight, then trading
sex for food and later hiding their eggs where they would not be found
by animals or their own fathers.
Ral Silvas called out, “House to house! Enter carefully, clear
the place, watch your backs and when clear, seal the building and move
And so the fighting began anew. U-Gor was large, dozens of haads
across and with villas in the foothills. No one could retake this
city with less than a hundred thousand men. No one could hold it
with less than a million. What they needed was to move the Line of
men northeast over the mountains at a walking pace to clean out everyone.
Then a second line to catch those savages that had hidden from the first
and kill them before they hit the first Line from the rear. Then
a third and a fourth to keep catching those the previous lines missed.
At the same time, they needed an army to land in the major cities to
take those and give a stable base of operations and a nearby place to recover
and rest with lots of ammunition and enough fliers to evacuate everyone
when the cities fell and the Lines were overrun.
But fifty years later, or more, Jahar still was rebuilding from the
War with Helium and could do little more than keep the savages in check.
Touching a door, Eibhlin estanned something within. Nodding to
her companion who had also felt the occupation by that Barsoomian telepathic
ability they possessed, she pushed the door open and jumped aside as the
thing within, a large ulsio this time, jumped out and ran off before it
could be killed. “Damn!” She swore. “This place has more rats
than savages. No wonder the ancients hung their beds from chains.”
The Martian rat could not climb. She looked within and called, “Another
of them, but the ulsios got to it first!” By now she had lost all
consideration for the things that walked like men. She almost left
but something made her glance again. “Hermm! His head is cloven.
He was murdered. And not too long ago by the stink.” Both knew
that this wasn’t bait for the rats for not even a hungry savage would eat
an ulsio when there was fresh meat striding by.
They searched the building more carefully after that, surviving only
because of that care, for when Hermm passed through a doorway, shining
his torch about, Eibhlin screamed as a blade moved in the darkness, the
torchlight reflecting off the shiny Forundus Steel that not even age and
lack of care could dim. The Red Man reacted instantly, deflecting
then stabbing to kill the savage behind the door.
“Thanks! I’d be in his belly had you not warmed me.”
“Look at that, he’s so stuffed he can barely move. Shhh!”
the howl of the hunting creatures penetrated the building and both said,
“Damn!” at the same time as they swept the room with the torch then ran
for the outside.
The savages didn’t wait for numbers, they simply rushed in to kill and
eat, or die tryig, so at first the fighting was easy. The savages
had no skill and died as easily as any man, though they just kept coming,
starvation making them desperate. The Panthans retreated to
a building where they could hold the door and windows then a whistle made
each duck as a bomb from the flier high overhead fell among the savages.
Looking out at the carnage Lakon commented with his strange and dry humor,
“I think we found a way to kill them. Let us be the bait to trap
them in a field and as they are killing and eating us, the Navy bombs them.”
No one laughed.
For the rest of the day they searched but no others were found.
Either the fliers floating overhead had scared them all off or the bomb
had killed the last. Regardless, the flier landed, offloaded food
and drink and lifted off again to resume its overhead watch. The
Panthans took over a small hostel, barricaded the doors and windows, searched
carefully then relaxed and enjoyed a good meal and, for them, decent wines
until one by one they set sentries and drifted to sleep.
Eibhlin dreamt of Kara. She was Vanthi, a Saxon descended human whose
ancestors had been taken by the Demons shortly after the Norman Conquest
and unlike the Mon or Weir or Kentaurans, the Vanthi had remained human,
though even the women were nearly six feet tall. Eibhlin had met her when
a Vanthi ship caught hers and demanded to know who she was and what she
was doing in one of their ships. The difference between a Vanthi Merchant
and a Vanthi Pirate is the number of guns you both have. So Eibhlin explained
the situation, how she, in Demon Service (A polite way of saying
‘slave’) had found it drifting, damaged and when the Demons boarded, the
people on board attacked them and were killed. Eibhlin did have a vid of
the event and her new registration signed by the Vanthi Navy and when they
saw it, they backed off for no one wants to upset the Demons. And as the
ship had been taken as a Lawful Prize, the surviving previous owners had
lost all rights to it and it was, legally, hers now. Pirates understood
that concept. The Mairayd was once Vanthi until captured and now was Eibhlin’s…
until Some Vanthi was able to take it back. Eibhlin could see the
other ship considering the odds then give up the thought.
So Eibhlin visited the Vanthi base and met Kara.
Kara wasn’t gay, but willing to try to be an equal opportunity lover
in return for a chance to be a Captain of a ship, for to the Vanthi, women
are at best, second-class citizens. Also, she was bored with the
men on her ship and their constant pounding away at her hips. She wanted
someone gentle and Eibhlin’s tail fascinated her as it did most women.
So for a few months they were lovers, spending more time in bed than on
the flight deck. But Kara had tired of the Alien and hated being a lesbian
which she saw as a perversion and they separated, she to explore
the Earth which she had only read about in history books and Eibhlin to
visit Barsoom and an endless procession of rented slaves.
Kara was on top of her, kissing her neck and ear-lobes but somehow ignoring
her breasts. Then she slid a phallus into her and began the slow thrusting
that Eibhlin enjoyed. Eibhlin climaxed quickly and easily, an unintentional
gift of the Demons and that woke her to see Ral Silvas on top of the Irish-woman.
Inside her. Panicking, she almost broke his neck for raping her in
her sleep but her next climax was there so Eibhlin closed her eyes, held
his ankles with her tarsial feet, clutched his heaving ass and, with her
eyes closed, screamed Kara’s name as she pretended it was her Vanthi lover.
Finally he shuddered, came, filling her with his hot wetness and as Eibhlin’s
final climax ebbed, she whispered in his ear, “Get off and never do that
again or I’ll cut your dick off.”
He did, quickly and avoided her the rest of the day, terrified of the
strength she had shown in her feet and hands and tail, strength that could
easily complete her promise.
Ral Silvas avoided her the rest of the day and she him. Deep within
U-Gor, times were harsh. All knew that Eibhlin and the other Weir,
Ras Muras had been lovers even though they had net only hours before their
first session and the Red Men had an unkind word for Free Women who acted
like that. And Eibhlin’s Need for regular sex and her desire for
women had made her infamous. It also made the more stupid of the mercenaries
think that all she needed was a good man to teach her the value of a penis
over a vagina. Unfortunately, the company had drunk too much of the
wine that the flier had offloaded with their meals and Ral Silvas had drunk
more than he should have. That drunken binge almost cost him his
Still, Eibhlin was angry. The fact that she had been drunk herself was
no consolation to her.
It was days later, days of searching, killing the occasional savage
that they headed into the seabed. The savages had an uncanny ability
to hide and strike from behind when you were certain that you were alone.
All Barsoomians were telepathic, the savages had honed that to an art of
cloaking their presence and detecting their prey. And that ability
took its toll on the Panthans who daily lost someone. Usually they
were able to recover the body and kill his attacker… usually. It
was when someone failed to report or simply vanished that they knew they’d
find only gnawed bones.
Sometimes Eibhlin wished that the Vanthi, the Mon and the Weir Ras were
with her for their size and strength would be an asset. Other times
she wondered if they were still alive for she had heard nothing of them
since they left.
“Look at it this way,” Ral Silvas joked. “Between the savages
and the Green Men. There isn’t enough out here to hide behind so we’ll
see them long before they shove a fork into your liver!” No one laughed.
It had been just too rough too long.
They followed the road into the seabed farms. Once rich cropland, now
eaten down to the roots. Kneeling, she shoved her dagger into the
soil and it came up rich dark-red. Even she could tell that this
alien soil would grow trees from a dropped toothpick if it were given a
chance. Now all that was here was the thick Seabed-Moss and the broken
fences and the occasional empty and destroyed house. They entered
one, found nothing but bones in the oven and Lakon commented, “The savages
broke in here to consume the family that farmed this land. See how
the screens that foil gorthans are in place but rent! They must have
died early in the famine for they were cooked, not eaten raw.” No
Eibhlin thought he was wrong for that would have been a century
before and something would have dragged the bones away long ago.
No, something else was here, recently. Something that ate the flesh of
man but preferred it cooked. Something that was still civilized enough
to know how to use an oven. That thought made her skin crawl.
Eibhlin was poking around the house and nearby lands seeking something
to explain those cooked bones when Lakon came up to ask, “You are thinking
the same as we, that either the savages are developing some civilized abilities
but not giving up their savagery or that some civilized people are out
there who have sunk to savagery but retain their civilized skills of killing,
either of which is dangerous to us.”
“I am,” she admitted. Then finding nothing, no tracks of a thoat,
no marks of a landing flier, no footprints of a man, gave up and looked
overhead. “We have only one moon on Jasoom. Huge and majestic
and beautiful. Poets write about that moon, friends become lovers
under that moon. And here you have two of them.
“When I was a young girl in Ireland, I dreamed about some handsome prince
or knight rescuing me, marrying me and returning me to wealth and position.
“I remember reading about the adventures of john Carter and his
friends when I lived in Los Angeles, that’s a city next to an ocean of
water in the nation of America. Somehow, there was always a princess
in peril and a hero willing to overcome all odds to rescue her until they
fell in love. I’ve been on your world for some three years
and so far *I* am always the princess but no one rescues me. I do
all the rescuing and gain no one. Why can’t life be like the romance
“You wish some handsome prince to rescue and marry you?” he asked.
“Well,” she laughed, “Right now I wish for a beautiful Princess to accomplish
that goal. Despite my dalliances with my nephew Jason and Ras, I
still prefer women.”
“I’ve had thousands of women as playthings in Dor and even a few I cared
deeply for. But they all ended up the same.” He saw her look
and continued, “You seem surprised that I could feel affection for someone
of the lower orders? Well, once I loved a Red Woman. I braved
my own faith to love her and I protected her from harm for nearly a century.”
He stared at the moons.
“The Goddess Issus became angry at my perversion and ordered her to
be the main course at the next dinner.” He shrugged. “I learned
my lesson. I am a Thern and so may marry only Thern women of which
there are too few. You are a .. whatever you are… and you should
seek love among your own kind, not among Red Woman slaves or Jasoomian
women or whatever aliens you meet in your travels.”
Stomping her foot, Eibhlin cried in anger, “I find your attitude to
be cynical. The Heart knows what the heart wants and race or gender
matter not to a heart in love.”
“That is why you are here dreaming of your alien Kara or Jasoomian Jean
but bedding that slave girl or that Ras Muras male or any slave boy when
you claim you need sex? We call that adultery even if you are not
properly married. You are as much a pervert as you accuse me to be.”
He wasn’t angry but he was amused and Eibhlin realized that he was playing
with her. Still, she wanted to kill him on the spot for his words
which cut too close to her own feelings.
“Doubtless,” she struck back, “You have admiration for these savages
who eat humans as you did before John Carter abolished your religion, killed
your goddess and cast you from heaven to earth.”
She could estann the thoughts in his mind fighting for release. Thoughts
about her being alone because no one could stand to be around her for long.
Thoughts about Kara and Jean and the others leaving her. Thoughts
about her being here because her rutting ways had destroyed her career
in Ptarth. His face almost released those words but then, he smiled
and answered, “Divinity is a difficult cloak to wear. And even gods
die in their own time.” Then he walked away, the better of the two
for his refusal to speak his thoughts.
As always they placed sentries about and when the sun rose, one was
missing. All knew that no one deserted this far into U-Gor so they
didn’t even look for the bones but packed up and moved on. Upon the
march, someone was always sweeping the horizon and nearby hidey holes with
their field glass but they never saw anyone. “The beasts and savages
hole up in the sunlight, coming forth in the dark to hunt.” Ral Silvas
commented to his company, now half their original number.
Near the edge of the lands they thought denoted the border of U-Gor
the seabed became rocky with a series of those impact craters that the
Red Men called ‘valleys’, the Padwar called a halt. “It’s getting
late and we must find a secure place to remain until daylight. Down here,
the savages are too wiley. This time we watch in groups of three.
No fires and keep your torches ready but closed. If there is a sound, full
power to blind whatever approaches.”
Eibhlin sought out Lakon for though they were at odds, each recognized
that their best chance for survival was the other. Who their
third was mattered not.
Another day on the seabed found the advance party rushing back.
“An army is out there!” they announced as the rest of the company readied
their weapons that hadn’t left their hands in weeks. “I cannot read
their devices but they lead wagons filled with crops to plant.” They explained
between gasping for their breaths. “We think that they are some nearby
city that seeks the U-Gor farmlands for their own. If they settle
in, Jahar won’t be able to force them out with an army.”
Ral Silvas commented, “No wonder Jahar has been sending in Panthans
instead of their own people. They hold their own in reserve.
Damn! Someone knew about this before they asked Kobol to loan them
troops to search this area. Once again, men, we are expendable.
The question is, do we fight for Jahar or run for ourselves?”
There was some discussion for no Red Man wishes to run from a fight,
even if it isn’t for their own nation. In the end they decided to
run, not from fear but to fight their way back to their lines and warn
the Utan so Jahar could ready themselves and send support.
They were moving west when Hermm noticed, “They come from the south,
probably seeking warmer lands to farm. But look there! Heads!
They hang heads from their thoats.”
“Do you think that they are who roasted the bones we saw?” Eibhlin asked.
Shrugging, he replied, “Who knows? If the hoards of U-Gor overran
their croplands, starvation could have forced them to cannibalism too.
And if eating man drove them mad, they may see anyone not of their nation
as little more than a thoat to eat.”
“Then we should rush away faster for they outnumber us three to one.”
Lakon laughed at that, “Then we must fight thrice as hard to win!”
Eibhlin hated it when things went wrong!
She was on Barsoom doing a decent job as a Panthan (that’s a Mercenary
soldier for the rest of you) when they got outflanked. Not the usual outflanking
where you discover a squad of cavalry rushing in from the left; but the
one where the army you are facing and are slowly cutting to pieces retreats
and you see three larger armies on every side suddenly appear to chase
you and you now realize that you have stumbled into a trap and your one
desire becomes to try very hard to survive. Especially when the flanking
army intended to eat their captives.
She blamed her Jed. The man wasn’t as smart as he should have been but
he paid well and when you are a professional soldier, you fight! And sometimes,
when desperate for work, you don’t look as closely as you should at the
jobs. But he wanted her despite her being a woman, or as close to being
a woman as he thought she was. Or maybe he wanted her because she was a
woman, deformed as he saw her but then, the man had a harem of exotics
and probably thought a week on the front would make his bed more inviting.
It didn’t. But it was beginning to. Even the perversions of Han Kosal would
be preferable to the Savages, the Green Men and now this army.
So why would a Jed, or king on another planet where men are soldiers
and women are wives and concubines want an alien woman from Earth to be
a soldier? Because Earthlings, she never got used to calling herself a
Jasoomian, are telepathically invisible to Barsoomians so she could go
almost anywhere and not be detected by the Red Man’s ESP. Plus, being Weir,
she was engineered to be easily twice as strong as any human and on Barsoom
with its .38 Gravity, she could easily crush any male with a single grip.
THAT made her valuable despite her barely adequate skills with a sword.
In this case, the Jed made a mistake. He jumped into a situation where
he thought he would win and didn’t see that the enemies of his allies,
were smarter than was he. Eibhlin’s Company attacked form ambush
the unready invaders, cut the opposing army of whomever they were to pieces
then were overwhelmed by the unseen reserves who moved in from the flanks.
She felt like General Custer who on the moment of victory, saw every Red
Indian in the Colonies appear over the hills to demand justice for his
murders of their women and children.
Her Padwar called them together and they cut themselves free and into
a cave where the enemy could only come at them in smaller numbers and where
they could hold the entrance. Barsoom was covered with these. With a thin
atmosphere, asteroid and meteor impacts littered the surface, spreading
stony-iron rock all over and melting the substrata which then filled with
vaporized rock and water, cooling into hollows.
“Avleen Oobreen” he called to her for these Red Men could never pronounce
her Irish name properly, “It’s time to find and open that stargate you
told us about!”
“Stargate? Cac! With what?” She needed running water and
a metal mass to de-gauss. He sent her to the rear of the cave and she realized
from her headache that all that red soil of Barsoom came from the stony-iron
meteorites that impacted the surface. Their core mixed with the extinct
oceans had colored the planet red with rust. There was iron everywhere.
And the planet had water, only it was locked in the soil. Now how could
she get the kinetic energy to degauss the iron?
Her Padwar was a good man, despite him raping her in her sleep, so he
didn’t rush her even though she could see her battle-buddies dying at the
cavern entrance to buy her time. She found a melted iron arch, something
left-over from an ancient asteroid impact when Barsoom still had flowing
water and decided that this must be the Stargate she had felt. The Demons
had made her very sensitive to em-fields so she could not only feel Stargates,
but electrical currents and some radio waves. Now she needed kinetic energy
to degauss the thing. “Ral Silvas,” she screamed, “I need men to pound
here!” Maybe if they got enough men to strike the mass in a rhythm,
it would set up a resonance and open the Stargate? She got them to
pound with their sword pommels, 1,2,3,4,5,6,1,2,3,4,6,1,2,3,4,5,6, and
so on until she felt the static charge build up. It worked! She’d
rather have called her space-ship but there wasn’t time for it to arrive.
“I don’t know where this leads!” she screamed to her officer.
“Does it matter? We die here or we try for life elsewhere.”
Then the calots hit them!
Ten-legged war dogs the size of a Shetland Pony, the most successful
predator on Barsoom and in a pack, invincible. They killed everyone they
met and though the Red Men killed them by the score with sword and revolver,
they easily took the warriors down.
The gate was open and Eibhlin screamed, “Here! Now!” Then
one was at her. She leapt aside and slashed upward with her Demon sword,
near decapitating the calot which fell dead meters beyond her. She yelled,
no, screamed for the survivors to disengage and join her but to no avail.
Any calot was more than a match for any Red Man and Eibhlin only survived
because of her greater strength and agility. She slashed again, removing
the first three of another calot’s ten legs then stabbed as it fell aside
her and saw the last of her buddies fall to their triple toothed jaws.
Alone, pursued by a number of the things, She put all her energy into a
leap and passed through the Stargate, not knowing where it led. She could
be entering space to be freeze-dried, or to a methane planet or another
time or even the heart of a star. But anyplace was better than here with
its certain death.
CONTINUED IN CONVENTION