Ras Thavas was as close to panic as his analytical mind would allow
him to get. His flyer sped through the Barsoomian night as fast as he could
go, for he knew that an army of jomads were close behind him. He had mere
hours to reach Greater Helium to warn John Carter of the peril which stood
unseen at his doorstep. It boggled even his great mind when he considered
the immensity which was faced by the entire solar system.
In the distance, the jomads hurled insults and curses after him as
they slowly closed the gap between them. The Mastermind of Mars was armed
with nothing more than his wits, but wits such as those possessed by Ras
Thavas were mightier than a thousand swords.
He turned the flyer upward after setting a rather complex program
into the directional compass. That program would deliver him to Helium
on a course which would describe a high arc through the upper atmosphere.
In short order, the Mastermind lost consciousness, although he did so with
a slightly smug smile on his face. The jomads, unused to the type of atmospheres
behavior on the surface, did not expect to grow short of breath as they
rose to follow and one by one, passed out and started to plummet toward
Later, the flyer was dipping down as it approached Helium when Ras
Thavas regained awareness, none the worse for the experience save for a
The sun was at zenith over Greenwich. Only had it been otherwise
would that have been unusual, for Pellucidar never experienced night. Given
that basic fact of Pellucidarian life, the panic that every person who
was on the streets at the time felt when the sun suddenly went out, was
understandable. Luckily, or so it seemed, the darkness only lasted a few
The sun came back to life as quickly as it had been extinguished.
The population looked toward the sky in relief. That relief turned quickly
to a new form of panic as a horde of winged creatures descended out of
the renewed sunlight. At first, a few voices cried out "Mahars! They have
returned to enslave us!" but the owners of those voices soon saw that it
was a less familiar evil that they faced. The streets of Greenwich were
soon crowded with jomads who actually, for the most part, ignored the fleeing
residents. Only those who attempted to get in their way found themselves
cut down by their strange ceramic swords. It took them only a short time
to control the two key positions that they needed. The first was the underground
rail entrance that was the gateway to Earth and the second was the Gridley
wave transmission station so that they could delay news of their arrival
from spreading too quickly.
The jemdar and the president both sat in the house of parliament
that day and listened to one impassioned speech after another. A representitive
from the country of Brazil had the floor.
"Your Majesty, Mr. President. For two hundred days, our prince has
been gone without any real explanation. The Barsoomian "Warlord" has continued
to insist that a situation over which he has no control persists and that
having heard from this "Ras Thavas" person, we should trust and have faith
that all shall be resolved.
"I ask you, what manner of hogwash is this that we are asked to believe?
Ras Thavas is nothing more than the court wizard to a man who rules a medieval
system that is out of step with our modern world in almost every particular.
This John Carter was born on this world but enjoys living a fantasy life
on Mars! How much longer must we endure having to deal with this man? Furthermore,
he has claimed that some unknown personage named "Savjoda" is the real
villain in this shocking abduction without any evidence save for the word
of Ras Thavas!"
The parliamentarian's tirade was interrupted by a messenger entering
the chamber and running to the place where the president was seated. The
president looked over the scrap of paper briefly and then stood up and
struck the podium with his gavel.
"Gentlemen! I must call an end to this session at this time. There
seems to be a disturbance at the underground station that requires my attention.
A riot perhaps, but the military has been summoned and I must lend some
The president strode from the chamber with a sense of purpose in
his step. Several ministers escorted the jemdar out, while the members
of parliament fell into hushed discussions.
It was a rather shocking when the windows of the legislative chamber
burst inward to admit a hundred sword wielding jomads. They drove the representatives
from the chamber and herded them into a basement office where they were
locked in. None resisted the strange winged creatures. The president was
captured by jomads who constantly harangued him, but in a language he could
not understand. Julian 67th, hereditary jemdar of Earth's hegemony, was
arrested and confined to the residence of the palace. The center of Earth's
government had fallen in a matter of minutes.
The Walls of Greater Helium
It was near sunset. Cluros and Thuria hurtled overhead oblivious
to the disaster that approached from the horizon.
Three men stood on the wall of a Barsoom capital city. Two were red
men, one, a handsome youth in the spring of young manhood, another a withered
veteran. Between them stood a square-jawed, gray-eyed Earthman. The youth
was Ras Thavas the two thousand year old Mastermind of Mars in his seventh
new body since he had mastered the art of brain transplantation. The Earthman
was John Carter, Warlord of Mars, even older than Ras Thavas, but by how
much, he knew not. The ancient one was Carthoris, son of John Carter and
at the age of nine-hundred and ninety years had been contemplating retiring
as jeddak of Helium.
"They are like a swarm of bees," said John Carter.
"You have told me about bees, father, but I thought they were smaller,"
"They are, son. These creatures, whatever they are, are far more
Ras Thavas had only managed to stay ahead of the horde by about an
hour. To his disappointment, most of them had regained consciousness before
they had struck the ground and had renewed their advance on the city.
The ancient scientist addressed the warlord. "These creatures are
based on my own work in creating the hormads and unfortunately, although
their bodies are more symmetrical and they can reproduce themselves, their
minds are just as simple. Savjoda created them as a work force to help
him in his grand project of reclaiming the works of nature that had been
weakened by humanity. He sought to make the almost dead world of Dhaimira
into a preserve for wildlife that was barely holding on to its own existence.
"When the Kalkars invaded Earth seeking any meat they could find,
Savjoda, like a later day Noah of Jasoomian legend, preserved them, each
after their own kind. He hid them in Pellucidar out of sight or mind of
the Kalkars. It was at that time that the doyaks, the one-time dominant
race of Dhaimira, saw in Savjoda the key to their own salvation."
John Carter wrinkled his brow. "And now he has extended his wildlife
preserve to the surface of Barsoom?"
"I don't think so, John Carter. The jomads, being the rather simple-minded
creatures they are, have taken every idle word spoken by Savjoda as if
it were the most urgent order. He once expressed concern about the continued
rule of other human governments and they determined that he would conquer
all of mankind. He expressed the loneliness of his mission and they contrived
to kidnap a suitable bride for him. He expressed fatigue over the magnitude
of his undertaking and they determined to take it over for him. At the
moment, he is a prisoner in a gilded cage, waited on hand and foot, but
unable to act on his own at all. I was able to contrive a way to escape
and warn the outside world, but Savjoda insisted on staying behind in the
hope he might be able to exercise at least some control."
"I only hope", said Carter, "that your warning was enough. We must
arm every available man and use every available flyer. These jomads must
not take Helium."
In the Sun's Embrace
Only twenty million miles from the Sun was the darkest place in the
Kivu was the world within the planet Mercury. An age ago, on the
day that that the sun of Otala exploded, some visitors from that world
had been in Kivu. They activated the machinery to open a road to their
home world only to step out into vacuum and cold darkness. Kivu s life
giving link with the Sun was left severed. Since that day, Kivu had been
a world of darkness. Its natives took to burrowing into the ground to be
warmed by the heat of the sun that seeped up through the ground. In time
they became colorless and blind with a remarkably keen sense of smell.
Over a thousand centuries, they had developed a tradition of epic verse
and storytelling that was based only on the senses of smell, hearing and
touch. Their oral literature had a rare beauty. The Kivuans figure not
at all in this story, however, because they never ventured out to the inner
surface of Kivu at all. Because of this the jomads were unaware of their
presence, in fact their existence was known only to a few doyak scientists.
The jomads were interested in using Kivu as a jomad home world and
attempted to contrive a way to re-ignite its sun. Having only the most
basic grasp on how the dimensional roads worked, they made a crucial error.
Instead of placing the source for the inner world's sun near the Sun's
surface, they placed it directly at the core of the Sun. The adjustment
was made from Dhaimira, so it would be several minutes before the mistake
became apparent. To the team of jomads actually within Kivu at the moment
of ignition, there was so little delay in the result that they never had
time to even understand that anything was amiss.
In one of the last places on the surface of the Earth that was far
enough away from city lights to be useful, stood a small observatory. External
light, however, was not an issue today, for the astronomer was making solar
observations. Through a dense smoked filter, an astronomer was observing
and counting sunspots. The observatory was his refuge, particularly when
the news of events on Earth was so disturbing. The jemdar and president
under arrest and strange winged creatures running amok in the capital was
bad enough news to drive him into the isolation of his cosmic observations.
As he viewed the solar disk, he found himself baffled by what appeared
to be a second, smaller Sun bursting into existence beside it. His puzzlement
turned to horror when he checked an ephemeris. The bright splotch was in
the exact location of the planet Mercury.
The second asteroid belt that was born that day would come to be
known as the "Jomad s Children."