CHAPTER 26: "LIVE OR DIE!"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
Still John Carter held out his sword. In a room full of strangers and
strange things it was the only thing he could trust. Vovo's promises may
or may not be honest ones, but the steel in his hand had an honesty of
its own and upon that known reliability the Earthman trusted. He now could
see where the other handful of mechanical men had gone. While he had listened
to Vovo's artful words they had circled around him. On every side he saw
robots with drawn swords, inching their way toward him.
"Stop them," the Virginian ordered, "ere my sword divides you in two
The Earthman's tones struck terror into Vovo's heart. His smiles and
ingratiating talk disappeared at once. The wizard felt the blade cutting
into his rough green hide and he winced in pain.
"Halt! Halt!" the wizard cried into his microphone.
Oman and the other robots halted at their master's order. Not only did
they cease their forward movement, but for the second time Captain Carter
witnessed the bizarre scene of evidently intelligent minds going blank,
like clockworks being shut down. Among all the robots only Oman's eyes
continued to move.
"Vovo's will is our will," Oman chanted in a low monotonous voice.
"Now, wizard, if you wish to continue living," Carter spoke sternly,
"you will revive the Princess Dejah Thoris -- now!"
Then Carter prodded Vovo back to the electronic decalcifying machine.
Above the body of the princess was a glass enclosure. Vovo pointed to this
"In your case I was able to inject the catalyst drug into your arms.
But her skin will not accept an injection. She takes in air with a slow
and shallow breath, so if I fill the glass chamber with the drug under
a moderate pressure, it can be administered that way.
"Then do what you must," the swordsman answered. "But remember I am
watching your every move."
"Your calcification was only a partial one, Dotar Sojat. Your bodily
processes were not greatly interrupted. Her case is much different. I can
remove the paralysis, but I cannot always guarantee perfect success when
changing calcified tissue back to living flesh. Have patience, this will
take some time"
With Dejah Thoris within the air-tight glass case, the wizard administered
the drug in a gaseous form. Then he waited until he
saw certain changes
in the frozen girl's eyes. The minutes dragged on and finally John Carter
lowered his antique blade. The only change in the vast room, so far, was
that Oman had ceased his bothersome chant.
Vovo at last aligned the machine and pulled the switch. The healing
rays moved from Dejah Thoris' head, down to her feet, and then back again.
Carter waited breathlessly while the streams of bombarding electrons pierced
the girl's body.
Under the glass enclosure John Carter could see a change taking place.
Where before the maiden's body had been a dull gray, it was taking on a
pinkish hue. At the same time, a thin translucent shell began to take form
around the girl's skin.
"Look, Jasoomian!" Vovo practically screamed. "The petrifaction is coming
out of her. When the enclosing sheath cracks open, your princess will be
relieved of the curse wrought by the purple vapors of Go-La-Ra!"
The fighting man looked on in amazement. Very slowly, almost imperceptibly
at first, the sleeping figure's firm breasts began to rise and fall. At
her nose and mouth signs of moisture began to appear within the translucent
shell. The color of her skin returned to its natural redness. Dejah Thoris
took a deep breath and from her inconspicuous Barsoomian naval outward
the enveloping coating cracked and fell away, like a sand castle dissolving
in an ocean spray.
"Is it over?" questioned Carter. "Will she awaken now?"
"Are all the creatures of your primitive planet so impatient, Dotar
Sojat?" The dwarf responded. "After I lift the glass you may do your part
in the transformation. She cannot be awakened suddenly or her mind will
never again function properly. How clear is the telepathy between the two
Vovo removed the air-tight enclosure and once again John Carter's senses
were assailed by the powerful drug. For a moment he reeled with dizziness,
but the gas and its effects upon him soon dissipated and he was himself
"I am still learning how you Martians project your thoughts, wizard.
As you must know by now I can guard mine from your mental probing well
enough. However, the princess and I have only shared small, brief episodes
of thought transfer. It is something I know very little about."
"Then now is a good time to learn, my odwar."
The green man's big eyes took on an ominous, dominant look. He appeared
to cough a little, above his microphone. Then he continued.
"Project your thoughts into her mind, Jasoomian. Although she sleeps
her brain will sense your communication. But you must do more than just
that. Open your mind, concentrate upon the princess only. Let her thoughts
come to you. Do not try to understand them or organize them into any special
pattern. The thoughts of a dreamer are random, they go where they will.
But in a while she will become sensible of your presence and her dream
awareness will begin to center upon you. Do you understand what I am saying?"
"Yes, I understand. But you have not said what effect all of this will
have. I do not intend to take my eyes off you, Vovo. If you make one false
move, you'll taste the steel of my blade."
"Oh, that would not be good," the little man said with a start. "But
I believe you will trust the mental process when you experience how it
works. Once you have entered into her dream, speak with her, tell her where
she is and what is happening. Her thoughts will then begin to come together
in proper order and she can awaken without the risk of becoming a madman
or an imbecile. You love her; that bond has been more than evident since
I met you out upon the desert. If she loves you in return, then the mental
coupling will be a strong one. Lovers upon Barsoom have shared the dreams
of their sleep for ages. Meet her in her dreams and then lead her slowly
back to wakefulness."