Tarrid, The Green Man of Barsoom“This is Princess Valla of Helium,” boomed Tarrid. “We seek to communicate with John Carter to let him know his daughter lives.”
Chapters III and IV
III. AIR ATTACK
“By my ancestors!” exclaimed the warrior, “Half of Barsoom is looking for Valla! Come in, highness, we will radio Helium at once. “Is the Green man Tarrid of the Tharks?”
“No greater friend has Helium than Tarrid,” called back Valla.
“Then, he has no enemies here!” answered the warrior. A door opened in the structure and a full squad of warriors wearing the metal of a half dozen lands came out to greet them. Valla was glad to see two men wore the metal of Helium.
They were ushered in and escorted to a Padwar from Duhor who sat at a desk. He stood up and greeted them.
“Welcome to Valley Dor,” he said, “You of all people must know the religion of Issus was false. I need not give you the presentation reserved for those who are still in ignorance.”
“We did not take to the river of life by choice,” she said. “We took it to escape a war party of Warhoons who had trapped us.”
“So that is what happened!” exclaimed the Padwar. “People have speculated what occurred after you were shot from the sky. Helium has bombed and attacked the Warhoons without mercy for the act. They should know that to fire on a ship of the Warlord is to invite destruction.”
“Have you contacted the Warlord?” asked Tarrid. “He must be informed at once.”
“That was done the moment we heard who you were. A flyer is coming to take you home as we speak. It should be at Valley Dor in a few hours. I must say they were relieved to learn you were alive and not a captive.”
“We have been living off fish,” added Tarrid, “I think I speak for the Princess when I ask if you have something else?”
“It will be done!” added the Padwar. “But first I would like you to see our station at the bottom of the world.”
They were given a tour of the site that included a gallery of images of the savage Plant men and the false Issus built to inform the deluded that the beliefs they had learned were false.
“They say that the true Issus is in spirit form,” added Valla. Tarrid noticed one of the men rolled his eyes in disbelief.
“Be that as it may, the old Issus was a terrible cannibalistic monster,” added the Padwar. “All Barsoom owes John Carter a debt for pulling away the mask from this hag.”
A warrior rushed into the hall of pictures and saluted.
“A Delegation of Therns is here to see and give honor to Princess Valla,” he said.
“Are they New Therns?” he asked with a tone of contempt in his voice.
“Yes,” he answered, “they demand to see the Princess.”
“I thought as much,” he said thoughtfully, “Not much happens in Dor that escapes them.”
“I will see them,” announced Valla.
“But, Princess,” added the Padwar, “They are New Therns. They are even outcasts from the Tenth Cycle Therns. “
“As long as they are not Cannibalistic,” Valla said.
“No, they are not Cannibals, They just think that … that... your father.. the Warlord... is...”
“A God?” inquired Valla.
“Yes, I know its blasphemy, but they believe only such a being could have done what he has.”
They returned to a large reception room, used by visiting nobility on the top floor of the structure. As soon as she walked in nearly one hundred men fell onto their stomachs in worship. Tarrid noticed this caused Valla to smile. She was loving this—being worshiped.
“A rise Holy Therns,” she commanded and as one they all rose, with heads bowed and there hands in the pommel of their swords. They all wore blond wigs, were light skinned but didn't show a lot of muscular build. Tarrid had fought them before and found them to be poor warriors, who would retreat at the first sign of real opposition. He held them in contempt as would any Martian red or green. Tarrid noticed their harness was similar to style worn by the Warlord. This angered him—that these unworthy Therns should copy this.
“I am Kortis, The Seventh Cycle of the New Order of Therns,” he said with deep reverence. “I welcome you to Valley Dor. We come to swear our lives to you and the Warlord.”
“You are in luck Thern, the Warlord will be here in a few hours and you can pledge yourselves to him in person.”
“Then this is truly a grand day for all Therns!” he said turning towards his comrades. “We had a revelation just the night before. We know why John Carter came to Barsoom!”
“What is this?” asked Valla.
“The Warlord came for his only true love—the only one who could be his mate—the true incarnation of Issus---Deja Thoris!”
“My Mother?” smiled the princess. “My mother is the re-incarnated Issus?”
Now Tarrid rolled his eyes—he had seen Dejah Thoris when she was anything but godlike.
“What does that make me?” asked Valla.
“You trifle with us!” answered Kortis, “You, princess, are a goddess! We honor you for just looking upon our miserable, unworthy selves!” at that the Therns all fell to the floor again.
Tarrid saw she was looking at him, almost about ready to burst into laughter at the simple display of piety. She just shook her head in disbelief.
“Arise my loyal Therns of the—what was it? The Seventh Cycle,” she said in her most regal voice. “I honor your loyalty—would that you were with us when we fought the savage Warhoons.”
Tarrid knew the Warhoons would have cut them to ribbons.
“Princess, we will die for you!” vowed Kortis, as he drew his long sword and tossed it on the floor before her. The others in the Thern party did the same.
“I am honored!” Valla said. “You will have to meet with my father...” Before she could finish they all fell on the floor again.
“Any of us would be honored to die for you or the Warlord,” continued the Thern, “Knowing that to do so, we will be transformed to Sasoom and rest forever in beautiful Virginia!”
Tarrid just shook his head.
“Arise loyal Therns, take your swords and sheath them until they are needed,” she ordered. They did this with a great solemnity, though Tarrid noticed a few of them were smiling.
He had no idea what must be going though their minds, meeting there god face to face. Still, from the looks of some—not all were convinced.
“To the north!” cried one of the red men. “Three warships come.”
“Are they of Helium?” asked one of the Therns.
“They fly no flag. Their lines are in the old style so they can not be of Helium or any of the modern nations,” cried an observer on the balcony.
“Perhaps a city or country closer came to do honor to Valla—and meet with the Warlord?”
added the padwar of the base. “Therns, step to one side to give room for our visitors.”
The Therns didn't move but looked to Valla. She saw their discomfort and made a simple waving motion and they instantly obeyed the gesture, moving to a compact group at one side of the round chamber.
Now Tarrid could see the ships, yes, they were old style and a bit rusty to boot. They were coming in fast. Then, he saw that the guns were pointed at the station—in a move universally accepted as hostile on Barsoom. He noticed the concerned look on the Padwar's face. He looked over to Valla, and read the fearful expression on her face. In a bound, took the dais next to her. He upholstered his Radium pistol and handed it to her, butt first.
“Thank you,” she said. Then she looked down at the company, “Therns of the Seventh Cycle Attend Princess Valla” she said in her most regal tone of voice. “Defend her as you would John Carter himself!”
Just then an explosion rocked the building and the Dusarian Battleship moored on the roof landing stage was blasted and set burning to the ground.
“Who would dare to attack this station?” asked Tarrid with a smile, for he knew there would be fighting soon. “Would that I had a dozen Tharks, but we fight with what our ancestors or chance has given us. If all we have are Therns...”
He stopped as he noticed the Therns were, like him, smiling, with a mad expression upon their faces. This he had never seen before. He also noticed they were drawing lots and breaking into parties of two. He had never seen Therns do this when he fought them years ago.
The warriors from the five great empires went out to the balcony where the largest of the strange warships was coming in to discharge her warriors. He was about to join them, when he remembered his first duty was to Valla, so he stayed inside the chamber near the princess. He could hear the clang of sword on sword and the cries of battle. He noticed the Therns didn't move into the fight but stayed in the large room—perhaps cowardice or some strategy, he could not guess. The warriors fought bravely but a full hundred warriors –mercenaries Tarrid believed, swarmed off the ship and over powered them. The Mercenaries rushed in heading towards the princess Valla. The first one to step in was dropped by a shot in the chest fired by Valla. Then the Invaders saw the Therns,
“Just Therns and a single Green Man,” yelled one, “scatter them quickly!”
“For John Carter!” Yelled Tarrid, the chant seemed to electrify the Therns who now fell upon the Mercenaries with the fierceness of Warhoons. He saw that they attacked in pairs, one man to throw himself upon the swords of the foe, permitting himself to be impaled and pulling close in a death grip. That pulled down the weapons of his foe. As he fell, his partner would come close and cut off the head of his enemy! A sacrificial strategy, that caught the mercenaries unprepared and took down many warriors. Even Tarrid was amazed by the willingness to throw away their lives. Tarrid was in the middle of the fighting. He was using both his long sword and short sword with all the skills he had learned so long ago. He found himself laughing as he battled in sheer joy. Once, two mercenaries jumped him. One was close enough to deliver a death blow to the Thark, only to have his head explode to a radium bullet. Valla was at her best now, On several occasions her accurate fire protected the Green Man from death. Tarrid noticed that half the Therns were dead now, and they had taken almost as many invaders with them. He knew they might not win but, the mercenaries would remember this fight as long as men drink and sing of battle. It was sad no other Tharks would know of this unequal conflict. He saw though the window a second ship coming in to reinforce the landing party.
The new warriors came forth but the Therns and Green man held them back. They were holding their own but Tarrid noticed they were not pressing their attacks as they had before. It was then that he heard a scream. It was Valla.
He glanced back, to his horror, the third ship had landed men on the other side of the building and they were coming in the tall windows. Two had seized Valla, but he saw two others dead at her feet. They were pulling her out the window where he could see the other ship, a smaller vessel.
“Attend the Princess!” he yelled and withdrew to engage the mercenaries who had Valla. Two men came forth to engage him, Swords flashed in arcs of battle as they clanged and dueled. He saw Valla, pulled out, tied and forced onto the ship, as soon as she was on deck, the flyer pulled away leaving the two men to face the wrath of the Green Thark. They were good warriors, but they did not have a chance against his rage. He saw he was joined by a Thern, together they finished off the rear guard. But, the ship was speeding away over Valley Dor.
Tarrid looked back, the fighting was over, the two other ships were also leaving, the men that took part in the attack having withdrawn over the balcony. The floor was slick with blood, and bodies lay were they had fallen, a few were still alive, but not ten Therns were still standing. One, there leader, Kortis was at his side.
“Quickly,” the Thern yelled, “We must pursue the Kidnappers!”
“How?” asked the Thark, “The only battleship here was destroyed by the attackers.”
“I have a fast ship, I will signal for it now!” using a mirror from his pouch he flashed a message. Tarrid saw a ship leave one of the cliffs in the valley and head right for the base. It was marked with the number seven in a circle. As it drew near, Tarrid could see it was a modern craft, almost like the one Valla had taken, and about as big. He could see from her lines it was fast.
“I would like to come with you,” asked Tarrid. “Valla is my charge. I was ordered to guard her by the Warlord himself.”
“Then it shall be ,” answered Kortis with a low bow. Tarrid could see he had several cuts. “It shall be just the two of us-- with the help of Issus we can free the princess.”
“May it be so!” added The Green man as he sheathed his swords. He picked up his radium pistol from the floor and holstered the would return it to Valla when they met again, she was using it more than he of late.
The small gold painted flyer landed on the same balcony where the attackers had been minutes before. The pilot, a young Thern, was impressed with the carnage.
“By John Carter!” he commented, “I missed a big one today.”
“I am afraid you will need other transportation,” stated Kortis. “Stay, John Carter is coming. Let the survivors tell the tale of what happened here to him. Let him know Tarrid and I seek to follow the kidnappers and find where Valla is being taken. If it is the will of Issus we will attempt to rescue her!”
“John Carter? Here?” said the young man with reverence as he stepped off the craft.
“Tell him what I said.” at that, the two jumped on the flyer and with the Thern at the controls they flew off, following the raiders. As they gained attitude, they increased speed. Tarrid was surprised to find the ship was equip with superchargers—Tarrid thought only Helium had such things. Therns had ways to discover secrets. Now the Thark was glad, they might catch up to the older crafts that were speeding away. It would be a long night. Now Tarrid wished he had some fish to eat.
The dry dead sea bottoms replaced green Valley Dor as they flew on, they could see the three ships as specks in the sky, heading west. The ship was on autopilot as Kortis was treating his wounds with Barsoomian healing agents, they closed the wounds and disinfected them. The Thern offered The Thark some and he applied it to his cuts.
IV. A RESCUE ATTEMPT
“I have some rations,” said the Thern, “there is enough for both.” He opened a hidden panel and withdrew two box shaped containers, presenting one to the Green Man.
“Thank you, Thern.” said Tarrid as he opened the box and withdrew the processed strips. He didn't like Red Man rations, but he was starving and devoured them in but a few bites.
“I can't say when we will get a chance to eat again,” added Kortis.
“Might I ask a question of you?” inquired the Green Man. “before the battle I noticed you drawing lots. What was that for?”
“One would throw himself at the enemy—the other would slay the foe.”
“I am glad you won the gamble,” responded the Thark.
“No,” said the Thern with a serious look, “I lost the draw—the lucky ones attacked and now are on Sasoom sipping the nectar of a Mint Julep in Virginia as we speak. Would that I were with them.”
“When you are killed in battle you are transported to Sasoom?” asked Tarrid.
“We appear before Old Ben, on Sasoom and he judges us as worthy of the pleasures of Virginia.” explained The Thern.
“What if you are unworthy?”
“I believe those who fought today were all worthy—they fought well,” said Kortis,
Tarrid nodded his head. They died as brave men.
“But, I imagine that some might be unworthy, not truly believing in the divinity of John Carter, and in such cases they will be denied entry to Virginia.”
“Where do such cast offs go?” asked Tarrid.
“There is a place on Sasoom called Arizona. It is hot and dry and they they must reside until John Carter returns to Sasoom.”
The green man could only nod his head at their strange beliefs. He had to admit that he would like to see for himself the wonders of Sasoom---but death in battle would not be the way to accomplish this. He guessed his skeptical nature would doom him to Arizona. He noticed a red button on the dashboard of the flyer. He knew it was a radio beacon as they have on the newest ships in Helium.
“A radio beacon?” he asked.
“I have engaged it from the time we left Dor,” said the Thern with a wicked smile. “The Warlord is, I believe, tracking our progress. The destination of the kidnappers will be known to John Carter. Even if we fail, his wrath with avenge us.”
The Green Man smiled. “I am starting to like you, Thern.” he said.
“Maybe I can convert you to the true faith of John Carter!” he answered.
They raced on, following the older ships but hanging back.
“Why older, out of date ships?” asked Tarrid.
“Perhaps they have none better—a band of outlaws, maybe.”
“I think not,” replied the Green Thark. “ Only an advanced nation would have heard the radio message telling of our entry into Valley Dor. The older, unmarked ships, and mercenaries were used to mask the true identity of our attackers. “
“Why?” asked the thern.
“Perhaps to escape war with Helium and her allies.” speculated Tarrid.
“Then we shall foil their designs,” commented Kortis. “When the sun sets we will engage the supercharger and catch up to the lead ship that hold Valla and board her. If it is the will of Issus we can recover her highness and return to Valley Dor.”
“May it be so,” agreed Tarrid. There would be hot fighting tonight.
Once the moons were low, and the sun dipped below the horizon, the thern engaged the supercharger, causing the engine to roar and send the ship forward at double the speed. In less than a hour they were at the stern of the older ship—by her lines she was the newest one of the three and the smallest. Tarrid had seen them pull the princess onto this vessel. They matched the speed of the lumbering craft—dis-engaging the supercharger, a grappling line was cast out and the two pulled close. As near as they could tell there was no one on watch. Such things would be impossible in the navy of Helium—but with slovenly mercenaries such lax security was common.
Tarrid stepped onto the ship first, sword in hand, by the dim light of the low moons, no one was on deck. He made his way, slowly, quietly, along the deck to a cabin with an open port. He could hear men engaged in some laughter, he believed they were gambling. He glanced in and saw no sign of Valla, and continued on, down the deck to another cabin.
He thrilled when he heard Valla's voice arguing in a loud tone. The port was open and he listened.
“Who do you think you are?” she was yelling. “When my father hears of your actions he will come down on you with all the might of Helium and the Green horde of Thark—the fiercest of the Green men.”
“But he shall not,” said a male voice. Tarrid glanced in trying to get a look at the man, but all he could see was Valla tied up to a chair. Her hair was a mess.
“He shall learn of your action!” she snapped back at her captor.
“He will pay what we ask—he will have no choice but pay a ransom of a Jeddak to get you back—in what ever shape we shall keep you in....”
“You touch a lock of my hair...” she shouted.
“And if we do? What will the warlord do? Or are you like those foolish New Therns who think he is a God?”
“They will avenge me!” she answered. Tarrid glanced at Kortis, who was also listening with a grim face. He mouthed to Tarrid: “We will.” as Tarrid nodded.
The Green Man continued down the deck to a door, testing it, he found it opened onto a narrow companionway. From here there must be access to the cabin that held Valla.
The two slipped in as silently as possible, and proceeded down the corridor. Then they heard a shout!
“Now!” Yelled someone unseen and warriors came at them from both sides of the companionway. The two fought back to back as mercenaries rushed at them. Swords rang out in the narrow confines of the hall.
“We should have drawn lots,” said Kortis.
“It was a trap,” commented Tarrid, “I fear we may both be bound for Sasoom soon.”
“Stop,” came a voice, it was the only voice that would have halted Tarrid's swordplay, it was the voice of Valla. A second deep voice sound as well: “Surrender!” it yelled.
The Thern and the Green Man lowered their swords. As the mercenaries disarmed and bound them up with ropes.
“A wise call, princess,” came the voice. Tarrid saw it was a large mercenary wearing a simple harness with a plain badge of a Padwar. --The Thank saw Valla looking out a doorway, she was in tears.
“Your lives are too precious to me to see you cut down before my eyes,” she said.
“Now that they are securely bound,” yelled the padwar, “throw them over the side.”
“No!” screamed Valla, “ Zulan Tith, you want me to give my word not to attempt escape or take my own life. I will grant you this if you spare my loyal guard and the Thern.”
“A fair compromise, my princess,” the Padwar said, “Stow these prisoners in the hold, make sure they are chained. If you give me any more problems, Princess, I will resend my orders and heave your two over the side. And I want to thank your Thern for a fine new flyer—it is better than any in the band.”
“A gift from the seventh cycle,” answered Kartis, “let me offer you the truth about John Carter...”
His little speech ended with a flood of laughter from the warriors.
“You shall see, when you face his wrath!” added a indignant Thern.
“Until then, New Thern,” barked the Padwar, “You and your Green Man are guests of the Outlaw band.”
The two were pushed and pulled out of the corridor and though a hatch to a dark smelly chamber deep in the ship. There were chains on the walls and bars on the windows—it was outfitted as a brig. There were two beds of metal on the wall. That and a single bucket made up the full decor of the flying prison. The two were secured with chains and there ropes cut away. At that point the mercenaries left— locking the massive door behind them.
“It was not the will of Issus we would succeed,” murmured Kortis.
“At least we still live.” answered Tarrid. He noticed the Thern was busy with his free hand pulling at a strap of his harness.
“You know the radio beacon on my flyer?” He whispered to Tarrid, “I disengaged the light. It is still sending out a signal even though it looks as if its now off. The Warlord will know where we are and where we are going!”
Tarrid permitted himself to smile. Once the warlord came—there would be fighting!
The Thern managed to extract a bit of wire from a hidden place in a strap of his simple harness. He bent the tip and began to work on the padlock that locked him to the wall.
“We Therns know many things—ever wonder how we know? No lock can keep us out,”
he whispered as he worked. “These old padlocks are simple—like the ship, antiques. I will have us free in moments.”
“Yes, but we have no weapons?” answered Tarrid. There was a click and the padlock snapped open.
“We can use these padlocks themselves as weapons—they are heavy and large enough to throw,” smiled Kortis. “If we fail? There is always Sasoom awaiting us.”
The Thern started to work on the padlocks that chained the big Green Man. Now that he had some practice, they came off soon. The two, now free from the chains stretched their limbs and stood up.
“Let us arrange ourselves so as to look as if we are still chained lest they discover us free before we can get the door open,” advised Tarrid.
“You are wise for a Green Man,” added Kortis.
“That is what John Carter said to me once.” he answered. The Thern was silent.
Kortis next examined the wooden door to the brig. It was stout skeel wood ---- locked from the outside. They were bound in the cell until someone opened it. Next he turned to the small barred port. Even without the bars it was so small that none of them could have exited though that way.
“It seems Issus wills for us to stay put,” the Thern admitted.
“Perhaps when they bring us food?” inquired Tarrid.
“I don't think they plan to feed us, Green Man,” replied the Thern. “If they come, it will be to throw us overboard.”
“Perhaps the next one though that door will be John Carter?” said Tarrid.
“That would be the best of all happenings. Only death and Sasoom would be better.”
At that point there was shouting outside the door, the sound of running feet and a loud explosion! The ship was under attack. They looked out the port, but what ever was attacking the vessel was on the other side and out of there view. There were more detonations and the hull shivered with the blasts. Now they felt the guns on the outlaw vessel replying but, the fire was sporadic and dropped off within minutes. They saw a small flyer leave the ship heading towards the horizon at a high rate of speed. From its color and the devise on her side—it was the Thern ship. Tarrid could see the Padwar was the only one on the vessel—there was no sign of Valla.
“The coward flies from battle!” sneered Tarrid.
“Taking my ship,” signed Kortis. “ I predict he will soon encounter John Carter.”
Now the sounds of swordplay and pistol fire echoed in the Companionway outside the door. A single pistol shot came though the door passing close to the Green Man.
“Hey,” cried the Thern, as he pounded on the door, “In the name of Issus, herself, let us out!”
Tarrid was silent. It was not the Green Man's way to beg for help.
“They could hear the fighting ending and a key work the lock of the door. They stood back with the locks as weapons, ready to throw, as it opened. They didn't know who won the conflict on the ship. The Thern was adjusting his wig and smiling. Tarrid knew he was expecting to meet his god, John Carter, in person. Even Tarrid was swelled with pride and glad Valla would be returned to her father's palace. Maybe he could get re-assigned at long last.
When the portal opened, there were warriors dressed in some odd, overly ornate, harness of Silver and jewels. He had swords dawn and bloody. The metal they wore looked vaguely familiar to the Green Man—he had seen it once before; In Helium.
The man who came in was handsome, with the proud walk of a Jed. He could see several cuts on his skin from battle.
“Are you Tarrid? Valla's guard?” he asked.
“Yes, and whom do I have the honor of addressing?”
“I am Shalla Tanni, The Jeddak of Zor.” he said. “And this must be the Thern, Kortis of the Seventh Cycle?”
“I bow to you sire,” he said with a bow so low that his wig almost came off.
“Valla is free, and requested we release you as soon as we recovered her,” explained the Jeddak. “We have captured the ship and we are now flying to my kingdom of Zor, not far away.”
“Is John Carter here?” asked Kortis in a hushed town.
“No, but we will contact Helium as soon as we land at the palace in Zor,” answered the tall ruler. This caused the Green man and Thern to look at one another. Could the Radio Beacon have been defective?
“How did you find us?” asked Tarrid as they walked out of the cell and up a ladder to the main deck. They could see battle damage and bodies littering the deck.
“A patrol boat caught sight on them.” said Shalla Tanni. “It was pure chance. We have been attacked by the Outlaw Band before and knew their ships well. We heard about the attack on the Valley Dor Station. I realized this was the group that hit there and had taken Valla prisoner. All of Barsoom was searching for the princesses. Helium has dispatched her navy to all points of the compass and those of her allies as well to search for the girl. We were glad to help John Carter in his hour of need.”
“I am sure he will reward you for your service,” answered Kortis, with a sort of bow.
Tarrid was sure the trade treaty would favor Zor when it was approved.
Once on deck, they saw Valla. Her hair was still a mess, and there were red marks on her wrists where she had been bound. Tarrid saw a welt on the girls cheek that sent his blood boiling!
“Tarrid, thank the ancestors your still alive!” she said hugging the big Thark. One large hand comforted her. He could feel welts across her back—she had been beaten worse than any slave. He had failed to protect her from mistreatment, this caused him to feel ashamed. An anger filled his heart.
“Who did this to you?” he asked softly. She just started to cry in a way he had never heard before.
“Was it the Padwar, Zulan Tith?” he asked. The princess just shook her head yes.
“You will be avenged!” vowed the Thern of the Seventh Cycle.
“The leader of this band was not found among the dead,” the Jeddak said.
“We saw him fly in a small ship toward the south,” answered Tarrid with a sneer.
“Such behavior is not uncommon with these calots.” answered the Zorian.
“You need to be treated.” said the Green Man, “When will we reach Zor?” he asked the Jeddak,
“Before the rising of the two moons,” the ruler answered, putting a hand of comfort on Valla's shoulder. “We will capture this Zulan Tith and he will suffer Zorian Justice for his many crimes.”
“Better yet, give him to John Carter!” commented the Thern.
“Perhaps we shall,” answered the Jeddak.
Ch. I and II
Ch. III and IV
Ch. V and VI
Ch. VII and VIII
Ch. IX and X
Ch. XI and XIII
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