In spite of the fact that the jomads had their own agenda,
when Savjoda ordered a road to be opened, they obeyed.
Tamla, Savjoda and I stood atop the palace as the sun went dark.
We were dazzled as it again jumped to its former light. It took another
several minutes until we saw the flyer as a dot against the sky. That dot
swelled in size rapidly.
Savjoda said, "Fomas-67 has the power off until he is less than a
mile above the ground. If it were anyone else, I'd call it a foolish risk.
There is truly no more skilled pilot than that doyak."
The flyer finally started to slow down and sank gently to the roof.
Onboard were Ras Thavas and John Carter.
The Warlord looked concerned, although he was relieved to see that
Tamla was alive and well. The mastermind appeared detached, as was his
John Carter was somewhat impatient. With every step he took, and
he took many for he was pacing nervously, his metal clattered cacophonously.
"We must act as soon as humanly possible." He said, "We kept Helium from
being taken for now, but Zodanga, Korad and Ptarth have fallen to the jomads
and their region of control is expanding. The fact is," he said with a
sour expression, "that the way of the sword is lost to most Barsoomians
these days. We are no longer a militaristic culture."
"The life of the warrior is still in the heart of all Barsoomians!"
The warlord smiled lovingly at the girl who, to his mind, had inherited
more of his own personality than any of his recent descendants.
Savjoda and I listened bemusedly to this very Barsoomian exchange.
Brute force from either Earth's or Mars' largely de-militarized empires
would be unlikely to do the job. The jomads were already spread too widely
in the Solar System.
Two of the Waziri scholars were consulting with Gosmasokamankgo and
Ras Thavas at the other side of the great library.
Gosmasokamankgo broke free of the huddle and walked over to Savjoda
and John Carter. He spoke to Savjoda in his peculiar language." They have
an interesting thought," said Savjoda.
Two flyers sat on the roof of the palace. There were a few jomads
around, but they were only instructed to protect Savjoda and to not let
him leave, but not to interfere with his other activities. If one of the
flyers had Savjoda on board when it set off, the jomads would give chase,
but they would not dare question him before hand.
Fomas-67 took the controls of one of the aircraft and Ras Thavas
the other. Into the first craft came myself, Gosmasokamankgo and two Waziri
named respectively Dallo Mâ€™Tumba and the other simply Joseph.
Gosmasokamankgo had with him the device he had used to alter Tamla's size
although it was now incorporated into another machine that had a more Barsoomian
The second craft took aboard Tamla and John Carter while Savjoda
waited beside it.
Our craft took off with only passing notice of the jomads. Fomas-67
took us up above the road-making device and quickly gestured toward Gosmasokamankgo.
The Minunian lifted the peculiar mechanism into a position which allowed
him to point a lens at the front of it at the immense machine. At the same
time the huge device began to diminish rapidly in size and float up toward
the flyer. With deft manipulation of the controls Gosmasokamankgo directed
the movement of the machine until it was now only three feet high and rested
on the floor of the flyer. To my bemusement, there was a multitude of minutely
shrunken Minunians scrambling about in the diminished machine. Their size
was only that of insects and they were in a state of panic.
Fomas-67said, "We must make haste now! The effect on inanimate objects
lasts for only a very short time!", and wasted no a second as he turned
the flyer toward the open sea and pushed the airship to full speed.
Every jomad in the city flew toward the site that the machine once
occupied to see what had happened and Savjoda used that moment of distraction
to leap aboard the second flyer and direct Ras Thavas to take off.
Both flyers were left unmolested for only a few short moments before
the jomads fully realized what had happened and gave chase.
In our own flyer, I was asking Gosmasokamankgo and Fomas-67 a thousand
questions as quickly as I could formulate them. "How in Heaven's name did
you do that!?!"
Gosmasokamankgo answered in his peculiar tongue which I had no understanding
of whatsoever. Fomas-67 was somewhat more helpful.
"Ras Thavas and I educated him as to the nature of the more exotic
rays of the Barsoomian spectrum. He was able to use the Eighth Ray in conjunction
with the size control apparatus to perform this feat."
The jomads were gaining ground on the craft which held Ras Thavas,
Tamla, Savjoda and John Carter. Ras Thavas set the directional compass
and stood up with John Carter and Tamla with swords drawn. Along side them
was Savjoda with a knife in one hand and a pistol in the other.
Twenty jomads swooped down on their flyer and in seconds twelve of
them were falling dead to the sea. The remaining eight stood on the deck
of the flyer locked in desperate combat while another group of them gained
steadily on our flyer.
Gosmasokamankgo pointed down toward the water and exclaimed something
in his native tongue. On the surface of the ocean was a circle of light.
At that moment Fomas-67 did something alarming, he pointed the nose of
the flyer directly at the surface of the sea and started to accelerate.
In the flyer behind, Ras Thavas broke free of the fray and did likewise
with their craft. The last of the jomads on the second flyer were dispatched
and the group who were pursuing us turned back in order to get to Savjoda.
Out of the ring of light on the surface of the water floated a huge
bubble just in time for both flyers to penetrate its side. It remained
unbroken and instantly dropped again beneath the waves with both flyers
We were below the surface of the ocean, but surrounded with enough
air to breath comfortably for quite some time.
Gosmasokamankgo again made some remark in his native language. and
pointed at the road making device. It was now bigger than it was a minute
ago and expanding. The reduced Minunians, however, were not. Apparently
the effect lasted longer on living things than it did on mere objects.
It was clear that the flyer would soon be overtaxed by the increasing mass
of the mechanism.
We started to see the outline of a depression on the seafloor as
we sank downward. The machine was now seven feet on a side and swelling
at a remarkable speed. The flyer broke into two pieces just as we settled
to the bottom, depositing all of us to the bottom of the bubble. Its surface
was slimy and resilient, like wet, semi-liquid rubber.
Directly outside of the bubble were a band of darmayoks who motioned
us to approach them. They were somehow forming a second bubble, like a
bud from the surface of the one we were in and all of us scrambled toward
it trying to out race the expansion of the machine. The last person into
the bud was John Carter whose sword arm was soaked to the elbow in jomad
The bud pinched closed and broke free of the larger bubble and bounced
along the sea floor, jostling us considerably, but causing no great harm.
Although the transparency of the bubbles was limited, we could see
that the machine had attained its full size once more. I can only guess
how the, now ant-sized Minunian engineers reacted to see its great mass
expand around them to a size much larger than they could have expected.
According to Fomas-67, it would be several days before they regained their
normal size if Gosmasokamankgo didn't intervene before then.
The trip from the palace had taken only a short time but we had gained
both control of the machine and Savjoda's freedom.
Our bubble was carried by several darmayoks to a structure that looked
rather like an enormous tree. The uppermost branches reached right to the
"That," said Fomas-67, "is a darmayok city. We will be able to live
and work here in relative comfort for a short time at least."
The bubble was attached to a branch and something resembling a mouth,
or some sort of animal orifice in any case, opened into it. Fomas-67 waived
us through it and we obediently went.
Inside was a wet tube that had a peculiar and unpleasant smell and
looked more like it had been grown than built. I later discovered that
this was in fact the case. The darmayok cities and buildings are structures
created by specially bred creatures not unlike the corals of Earth. The
bubble that transported us to the city was a creature rather similar to
the coelenterates of my home world. Although they used neither metal nor
fire, the darmayoks were far from unsophisticated.
A darmayok walked up the corridor toward us. It was the first time
I had ever seen one of these creatures make its way on foot. Its feet splayed
outward when it walked and it had a peculiar rolling motion to its stride.
It spoke to Fomas-67 in its own language and the two conversed for a few
moments. Finally we were conducted to a room that was somewhat less wet
There we sat to plan our next move.