CHAPTER 30: "OUT OF THE NIGHT"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
John Carter's calot continued to prowl the grounds around
the circular metal building which was the top of Vovo's retracted tower.
From the small windows high above him sounds and smells reached Woola,
telling him that his master was close at hand. He could not leap to the
level of those little openings, so the calot continued to search for another
A distant clanking sound alerted the beast to the approach
of danger and he hid in the foliage while a troop of scentless men with
shiny skin approached the silver edifice. A section of the walls slid open.
The strange men went through the opening and it closed behind them. A short
while later the process was repeated in reverse, but only one of the shiny
men came through the opening. Woola bounded past the man-like figure knocking
him to the ground. Almost simultaneously the walls slid back shut, crushing
the man-thing to pieces. The calot did not stop to ponder the lucky event.
Inside the walls the scents of John Carter and Dejah Thoris were much stronger.
The watchdog warily made his way through the empty hallways, seeking the
Oman continued to watch over the unaware Jasoomian. Sooner
or later Vovo would return and the metal odwar would have to face his wrath
but that certitude did not presently occupy the robot's attention. He had
opened the door to a vast store of knowledge, previously hidden from his
thinking self and Oman was busy sorting out and cataloging that information.
The robot general noticed the Earthman stirring. He quickly
changed his mode of thought, moved his sorting and cataloging cogitation
to a lower brain level, while he focused all his watchful attention upon
the man. Oman stepped back a few paces, in order to observe the unpredictable
swordsman from a safe distance.
Suddenly Carter awakened; his head spun crazily. "Oman!"
he exclaimed finally. "Your master sent you to finish me?"
The leader of the mechano-men stepped out of the shadows.
With his hand upon his sword he looked down upon the Earthman.
"No, Dotar Sojat," Oman answered in his unchanging robotic
monotone. "I have not obeyed Master Vovo's orders. You yet live. I need
your help and you need my help. Let us work together to rid Eo of Vovo
and to insure that you and the princess leave here safely. Of all Vovo's
robots, my brain alone possesses the power of independent thought. Only
I can lead you and Dejah Thoris to safety."
"Where is the Princess of Helium?" Carter demanded. "Before
one of your robots attacked me she was by my side. Where has Vovo taken
her and where have you taken me?"
"Believe me," he answered, "she is near by. So long as
I am with you, none of my men will harm you. Nevertheless both of you are
in great danger. I ask that you try and trust what I say, even if your
senses tell you otherwise. The wizard has administered powerful drugs to
you and the girl and they will affect your mind so long as Vovo has power
in Eo. It is a delicate situation but I know how these perils may be overcome.
First we must reunite you with Dejah Thoris and tell her of Vovo's clever
deceptions. Until that can be accomplished the illusions that now plague
you will only grow stronger."
"I do not understand what you're saying, neither I do
not trust anything upon this weird mountain -- including you," replied
the Earthman. He seized his long-sword and sprang to his feet, ready to
do battle with the artificial man.
"Please, have a little patience and hear me out," pleaded
Oman. "Not all you see, hear and feel is what you think. Eo is a place
of deception and mirages. You think you stand with your sword, here in
this place, ready to fight. But see what I can make happen by means of
mental suggestion alone."
John Carter watched in wonder as his ancient steel blade
shimmered with an ethereal radiance. Then it was gone! Before he could
fully comprehend what had happened, the glow returned and an instant later
he again held the long-sword at Oman's steel breast.
"What sorcery is this!" Carter cried out in a loud voice.
Woola searched the interior of the peculiar building,
moving silently on his eight padded feet through a tangle of rooms and
hallways, but he found no humans. Then, from the far end of one long passageway,
he heard John Carter cry out. The calot bounded through the gloomy channel
in the direction from which that faint sound came. After numerous twists
and turns the corridor ended and Woola emerged into the light.
"Listen to me," begged Oman. "Your sword has been with
you since you arrived at Eo. However, Vovo's wizardry can make things seem
to appear and disappear. I provided you with a small demonstration of that
wizardry, but this power of illusory suggestion is a dangerous thing. It
will be best for you and the princess if together you can work your own
way out of Vovo's mental labyrinth. I can but guard and guide you. Will
you give me your cooperation?"
John Carter shook his head in disblief, but Oman continued
to plead his case.
"Even now Vovo is making preparations to transform your
red friend into one of his creatures. Just as he has controlled my thoughts
and experiences for hundreds of years, he will manage her. When my mind
first awakened in this metal body, the first thing I was taught was that
a mechano-man must not kill any intelligent being. Long ago Vovo and another
came to Eo and blinded the minds of all of us to that important basic teaching.
Just a little while ago I was on the verge of killing you, Dotar Sojat.
But a particle of my original instruction remained buried in my brain and
I was saved from the wizard's perversions. Now Dejah Thoris is to be subjected
to methods of mind control far exceeding any that Vovo inflicted upon the
inhabitants of Eo. If the princess returns to her homeland in that condition,
Vovo will use her as his puppet, to deceive and subvert all of Helium.
You -- we must not allow his nefarious experiments to continue. If you
value the safety and freedom of your princess and if you wish to save the
red race from a great evil, now is the time for us to act. Follow my guidance
and together we can stop this monster before he enslaves more minds and
Then a savage roar rang out and Oman went down beneath
powerful fangs and ripping talons.
The Princess Dejah Thoris saw that the mechano-men, led
by Vovo, were carrying her ever deeper into the great ruined edifice. The
disintegrating building was everywhere overgrown by the jungle, its foliage-covered,
collapsed segments presenting an eerie sight in the darting beams of the
robots' radium torches. Soon, however, the moving column passed into a
less damaged part of the vast structure and the girl saw evidence of repairs
and construction. Then the complex of roofless rooms and corridors opened
into a great chamber, well illuminated and enclosed in a huge transparent
dome. Here the throng of artificial warriors halted and Dejah Thoris silently
awaited her doom.