Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
There are times when the heart so overcomes vigilance
that triumph is almost immediately swallowed up by tragedy. Luckily for
John Carter and Dejah Thoris, that warm summer's day in Go-La-Ra, two impending
perils met each other head-on to subdue a seemingly inevitable tragedy.
Moving quickly across the flat roof of the building,
John Carter slashed his long blade into the durkoos' nest. The startled,
blind chicks were no great danger, he soon discovered. His path was then
directly to the unfortunate victim, who still teetered on the edge of the
building, in great danger of falling to a terrible death. He pulled her
from the peril and it was only then that he saw how horribly the purple
mists had altered the fair form of Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. He
gathered the slender body up in his arms and, for the first time since
his advent upon Mars, John Carter wept.
"My, princess!" he cried out, "I did not think I
would find you in time!" Then, after pausing to hold his cheek to hers,
he continued, "You have been through such terrible experiences! I would
have done anything to ..."
Dejah Thoris' eyes spoke of an irrepressible love,
but the girl's unbending gray lips stuttered out a dire warning.
"My chieftain! The -- door! The -- sky!"
John Carter turned to face a most unexpected invader.
Only then did it occur to him that he had neglected to secure the ramp-exit
doorway! Through the passage which he had just exited appeared a monstrous
reptile -- another hizzah, more than double the size of the dragon he had
slain inside the building. Still covered in the gore of one frightful hizzah,
John Carter turned to face yet another!
The roof, empty but for bits of rubbish and the smashed
bird nest, offered no possible hiding place or means of escape. His only
option, short of suicide, was to stand and fight the enormous reptile.
Captain Carter gripped the handle of the antique long-sword with new urgency,
hoping he might find one small unprotected spot at which to strike. As
he closed his fingers he noticed that the yellow oil had long since rubbed
off and that they were becoming increasingly stiff. The man raised his
long-sword to meet the invulnerable monstrosity, but the contest seemed
The sun shines through the thin air of Barsoom with
a distinctive burning intensity, especially when it is at its zenith. A
blocking of its rays immediately lowers the temperature, quite perceptibly
-- John Carter felt oddly cool. At the same time, the appearance of a large
enveloping shadow alerted the swordsman to the girl's second warning --
for, even as the dragon rushed out through the open portal, the mother
durkoos was plunging down from the sky with its wicked talons extended
and open for the kill!
Although his heart ached beyond measure for the plight
of the battered, rigid girl, John Carter had no choice but to release her
and then to simultaneously confront two giant intruders, either one of
which might kill him in an instant!
As the Earthman braced himself for what might be
the final conflict of his life, a very strange thing happened. The great
bird had been soaring down directly upon Dejah Thoris and himself. Perhaps
an eye-blink's time remained before they would be struck with incredible
force and ferocity. At the last possible instant, however, the great bird
turned and circled a little above the roof, carefully inspecting the creatures
that dared trespass on the sanctity of its nest. Then the winged terror
swooped down in a mighty dive to attack its old enemy, the male, chick-devouring
reptile. The hizzah had one eye on the humans and one eye on the bird.
It was not taken unawares, in fact its sinuous form shot upward with the
speed of a striking cobra and the two giant things met in deadly combat,
six feet off the ground. To Captain Carter, who had served with General
Scott at Vera Cruz, it looked like the great seal of Mexico's eagle and
rattlesnake image come to life!
The durkoos appeared to be unaffected by the giant
reptile's venomous stabs, while the dragon's impervious scales protected
it equally well from both talon and beak. It was impossible for the humans
to determine which monster had the advantage, but for the moment it was
enough just to see that they were totally preoccupied in attacking each
Taking the poor girl back up into his arms, the Virginia
swordsman looked for some way off the high roof, but the only imaginable
route of escape was back through the ramp-way exit door and down through
the unlit, reptile infested passage. Even as he considered that unlikely
path, a chilling sound caught his ear, the scraping of hard, reptilian
scales upon the carborundum building stone. Two wicked points of light
shone from the doorway and then the form of a third hizzah began to emerge
into the light of day. Although a female, it was in every way as large
and terrifying as the dragon fighting with the giant bird overhead. Carter
realized then that all hope of escape for them through the doorway had
been cut off, but perhaps there was another way.
On the dead sea bottom, 150 haads [40 miles] away,
the green girl replaced the saddle and the camp luggage upon the giant
thoat. She donned her leather harness, tightened her zitidar sandals, and
placed the short sword in her belt. Sola's firm flat bosom heaved in a
long gasp of tender emotion, quite remarkable for a Thark. She had lost
her mother, then her people and perhaps now even her unknowing father,
but she would not lose the human friends she cared for so much. Sola daughter
of Gozava was ready to fight and die, if that was the only path left open
to friendship and love!
Woola ceased his anxious pacing and whining. Even
the unimaginative beast could sense enough of Sola's thoughts to understand
that they were about to go out to join John Carter. The calot ran ahead
of the girl, pointing out the scent trail northward, then stood there,
licking his rows of teeth with a long rough tongue, waiting. It was time
to get moving!
With a cold, unemotional stare the female dragon
in the doorway eyed the battle going on in the sky, only a few feet away.
It also spent a second or two in contemplating the nest full of screeching
durkoos chicks. Finally it turned its cruel unblinking eyes upon the slender
human and her armed companion. The slithering monster's mouth had a hungry
look about it -- the long green tongue darted back and forth, as if seeking
out the most tasty morsel of flesh on the roof. Then it moved very quickly
upon the humans, fangs exposed and dripping venom.
John Carter looked up. The struggle between bird
and reptile raged on in the sky above. The battling pair were barely two
feet above his head. With the girl held tight to his chest, he leaped up,
grabbed one leg of the durkoos and hoped against hope that the huge bird
might rise upward, if only for a few moments. Amazingly that is just what
happened! But the male hizzah had wrapped itself around the bird's neck
and together they all were swept away from the rooftop!