Tamla and I were provided with clothing in the form of loose fitting
shirts and tight fitting trousers not unlike those worn by the jomads only
of a size and cut to fit our bodies. We and Fomas-67 were escorted by several
other doyaks to a flyer on the flat roof of the largest of the buildings.
The flyer was clearly of Barsoomian design, but the controls were all marked
in English, an archaic language from earth, the handiwork of Savjoda, no
doubt. To our surprise, Fomas-67 returned the sword to Tamla before we
set off. He was, I am certain, quite able to take it from her again if
she tried anything.
The doyak physician handled the flyer expertly and brought us to
a very great height as we left the island of Penshodai behind us. We were
heading in the direction of southern Geprodna where I had spotted something
that looked like it might be a city when Tamla and I were engaged in our
"astronomical" studies. I was smugly pleased that I seemed to have been
right about that location's importance.
The flyer hurtled through the sky at incredible speed and it seemed
that we would be in the presence of the man who stood at the center of
these strange events when the unexpected transpired. The sun went out.
Fomas-67 made a rumbling noise deep within his torso signaling, no
doubt, his disorientation. The disorientation was shared by all of us,
for we could not tell up from down, the entire world had gone black. When
we saw the "road" appear emerging from where the sun once was, we realized
that we were descending toward the sea in a spiral.
Once there was a source of light, Fomas-67 was able to straighten
out our flight path. He said, "Something is amiss. Savjoda usually keeps
our community apprised as to when he opens a road. This opening is unscheduled.
Tamla was still catching her breath from the tailspin. "What does
that mean?" she asked.
"I'm not certain. Perhaps some kind of emergency prompted the need
or perhaps Savjoda is no longer in control of the machinery. We cannot
be sure until we reach his city."
Blue Barsoomian sky appeared momentarily where once there was a patch
of sea and then once again they were plunged into darkness. In a few seconds,
the sun again ignited. Fomas-67 decided to continue toward the western
coast of Geprodna so that we might find out what had happened.
It wasn t, it turned out, going to be that simple.
They were just dots at first, mere flyspecks in the distance, but
they quickly resolved into clarity. Jomads in a "V" formation like migrating
geese on Earth. Fomas-67 quickly turned the flyer to avoid the flock and
we immediately saw that another was approaching us from the left, only
this one was much closer, less than half a mile distant.
The speed of the flying jomads was unexpectedly swift. They were
almost upon us in a matter of seconds. Fomas-67 turned the flyer toward
them with the intent of ramming his way through. Two jomads were killed
instantly as the flyer's prow struck them but we were boarded by two more
who drew pistols. Tamla drew her sword only to have it struck from her
hand by a jomad. It dropped to the bottom of the flyer with a ringing clatter.
Another jomad fired his pistol into the instrument panel of the flyer destroying
it utterly. The flyer instantly started spinning. One of the jomads seized
Tamla and lifted her from the disabled flyer as she kicked and cursed them.
We were ignored as soon as they had Tamla. The jomads flew off, completely
indifferent to our plight as we plummeted to the sea.
I watched helplessly as the jomads disappeared into the distance
with my true love, indeed, the anguish caused by that sight momentarily
made me forget that I had only seconds remaining in my life, for the sea
was rushing up at the crippled flyer with alarming speed. Fomas-67 had
not given up. He was tearing into the ruined guidance mechanism with deft
and swift movements of his boneless hands. We were a mere fifty feet above
the rolling ocean when the mechanism of the flyer suddenly sprang back
to life throwing the both of us off our feet. Our descent was slowed enough
that we hit the water only softly and then started to rise again. The flyer
was only able to stay about five feet above the water and move forward
at only a snail's pace, but it would get us to an island alive, which was
decidedly better than the alternative.
Three days later, we arrived at a large island that Fomas-67 identified
as Omporoi, once the home of an important doyak nation. Its inhabitants
had been wiped out in a war that had taken place over fifty thousand years
before. Fomas-67 believed that Savjoda now used it as a preserve for otherwise
The flyer failed us while we were still a mile off shore and came
to rest on the surface whereupon it started taking on water. We could not
allow it to sink or we would be stranded. Even if we could not repair it,
the metal in it could be used for tools and/or trade given that there was
none to be found elsewhere in Dhaimira. We therefore, had to get out and
swim while bearing it up until our feet could touch bottom.
We dragged the flyer as high onto the pebbly beach as we could before
we took in out surroundings. This island was unfamiliar to the doyak who,
although well versed in the wonders of the greater cosmos, had traveled
little on his own world save for trips from one major enclave to another.
It turned out that his chauffeuring Tamla and I to Geprodna was the first
lengthy trip he had made in over one hundred years.
To our right was a forest of broad leafed trees including the ubiquitous
cup trees found, it seems, all over Dhaimira's islands. To our right was
a broad savanna that reached many miles into the distance. At a point which
would have been over the horizon had we been on the surface, that savanna
again gave way to forest and then, once more, the sea.
I retrieved Tamla's sword and determined to find a meal. Fomas-67
agreed that we needed food so we set out into the savanna. I had seen in
the distance, what looked a lot like wildebeest, and I thought that I might
be able to bring one down. Fomas-67 was entirely unversed in the art of
hunting and his inhuman odor, while barely noticeable to myself, seemed
to be quite alarming to the animals. I urged him to return to the beach
and allow me to fetch dinner on my own. He agreed and I was left to stalk
the herd without causing undo commotion.
About two minutes after he had left I heard a loud and strange sound
that could only have come from the doyak. It was rather like a combination
of a bell ringing and a cricket chirping. I turned around and was greeted
with a singularly unnerving sight. Fomas-67 was surrounded by five of the
most fearsome creatures I had ever set eyes on. They were four legged and
covered with bristly spotted fur. Their eyes shined with an unnatural light
and their fanged mouths slavered with an insatiable lust for blood. They
gave forth with voices that sounded like some demonic gibbering. They were
an apparition form an earlier age, a horrid creature thought to have been
extinct for hundreds of years. When they had lived on my world, they were
known as hyena.
By the time I was able to reach him, he was surrounded. Considering
that he was completely unarmed, he gave quite a good account of himself.
His tentacles functioned as effective whips that allowed him to keep the
hideous beasts at a distance.
I was gasping for breath as I came up behind on of the yipping horrors.
I struck off its tail with swipe from the keen-edged sword. The monster
let forth a frightful ululation and turned upon me with the intent to instantly
punish me. With all my might, I drove the point of the sword between the
evil thing's eyes. The others had seen the brief battle and quickly left
Fomas-67 for their new foe, but when they saw my swift dispatch of their
fellow, they reacted not with a need for vengeance, but set upon its still
twitching corpse tearing it to pieces.
Fomas-67 and I fled as the creatures quarreled over gobbets of their
brother's flesh. Killing that beast didn't require any great feats of swordsmanship,
only the nerve to do it. Heaven only knew what else might be required of
me during our sojourn on this island. I tarried for a moment to look once
more upon the beasts as they savaged the corpse of their own kith and kin,
praying that it would be the worst I would see.
Over time, we discovered that the African veldt that once was still
existed here. Prides of lions hunted zebras and wildebeest and herds of
elephants made there way there just as in ages past.
When the Kalkars first came to Earth, the larger animals were among
the first casualties. Their home world was starving to death and cannibalism
had been the only source of meat for a very long time. The large animals
of Africa and the great cattle herds of the Americas were decimated. Many
of the African animals were driven into extinction. Apparently Savjoda
had rescued many from oblivion. How, I was not certain at the time. There
would come a time when I would find out.
Fomas-67 was able to repair the flyer well enough for us to use it
over short distances. It was indispensable for transporting lumber and
for getting us to where game could be found.
Our life fell into a certain monotony and time was slipping away
while I had no idea as to the fate of Tamla. We found that our differences
made our life in this place somewhat uneasy. It turned out that Fomas-67
could not abide the odor of human beings and continued close quarters with
me made him irritable. I, on the other hand, could not bear to watch him
eat, a process that involved his everting his stomach through an opening
in his torso and digesting his meal outside of his body.
Fomas-67 spent almost all of his time attempting to repair the flyer
with the little resources we had while I applied myself to hunting. I constructed
a bow and some arrows, as a sword was not the ideal implement for bringing
The sky had darkened for the opening of a road several times since
we had been marooned. Fomas-67 speculated that Savjoda no longer had any
semblance of control of the equipment, for he had never used it that often
before. I wondered in horror at the possibility of jomads swarming the
skies of Earth. I mention this now because on one occasion that it happened,
I had almost failed to make special note of it other than to curse the
foul weather it heralded. When I looked up into the blackness, however,
I was startled to see the road opening up onto our island. The weird, halo-like
opening in the air drifted down to the surface less than a mile from me.
I could not see what, if anything, emerged from the road before the sun
suddenly flashed back to life. I had been so transfixed by the sight of
the road that I was caught by surprise and was temporarily blinded by the
sun. I called at the top of my lungs for Fomas-67. With the swiftness that
was characteristic of his species, he was at my side in less than a minute.
As my vision cleared I beheld an uncanny sight. In the distance was
a small herd of very tiny antelope that stood no more than fifteen inches
high at the shoulder, but that by itself faded into insignificance beside
the fact that these antelope had equally diminutive human riders.
For as much as I could tell, Fomas-67 was not as thunderstruck as
I to see this, although his expressions remained difficult for me to read.
We had naught to do but stand fast as the miniature riders approached.
They almost ignored me as they came to a stop in front of us, but the apparent
leader of the band, who wore something resembling a rather normal Earth-style
military uniform, walked directly up to Fomas-67 and addressed him in a
rolling polysyllabic language with which I was unfamiliar.
The doyak was taking it all in. "What in Heaven s name is he saying?"
Fomas-67 turned to me and said, "He said Lord doyak, we have found
you and the prince from Earth at last. Zuanthrol greets you, but, sadly,
also requires your help."
"And who, pray tell, is Zuanthrol ?"
"It is the name by which these people refer to Savjoda."
"Very well, and who are these tiny persons and where do they come
As far as I could tell, Fomas-67 was now wearing an expression of
"They are Minunians, Julian. They are from your own home planet!"