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Volume 0525
Jasoom  - Pellucidar - Caspak - Tarzana - Africa
BarsoomSasoomVanah - LunaAmtor - Cosoom
The Many Worlds of
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Presents

At the Core of Mars
By 
Seth Kallen Deitch
Copyright 1999 S.K. Deitch


Chapter Fifteen
Morbus and the Roads
 
The new bubble contained both flyers as it ascended toward the oceanís surface.

Tamla, Savjoda, John Carter, and myself occupied the two flyers with Fomas-67 and Ras Thavas as the pilots. Gosmasokamankgo and the other Minunians stayed behind in the darmayok city to operate the machine.

The bubble broke the surface and opened into a floating, rubbery pad upon which the two flyers rested.

We simultaneously lifted into the sky and Fomas-67 sent a wireless signal to Gosmasokamankgo back beneath the ocean.

We were plunged into darkness and then a new sun appeared in a patch of clear dark blue sky. The real Sun. We were looking into the sky of Barsoom. The flyers lifted quickly and made for the hole in reality at the center of the world.

Halfway to the opening, we saw a great mechanism flying through the sky. It was the "brother" apparatus to the great machine at the oceanís floor, the one which actually created the "road" through which we passed. It orbited Dhaimiraís sun at a remarkable rate of speed. I was told by Fomas-67 that it actually housed a full time staff of doyak and Minunian engineers. I should very much have liked to have seen how those workers were replaced, for only the very fastest flyers would have been able to catch up with the speeding machine.

The air of Dhaimira didnít start to thin out until very near the sun. In fact, so near that had the sun been lit, no living being could approach closely enough to notice. I felt the air grow briefly thin and cold before it became suddenly denser, but not so dense as that of Dhaimira. I now breathed the air of Barsoom.

Cluros and Thuria hurtled overhead, quite visible if not as magnificent as they appeared at night. Ras Thavas directed us toward Morbus where his great laboratory complex was located.

The city of Morbus was very ancient dating back to the nigh-forgotten age when rolling oceans covered much of Mars. It now stood on an island in the middle of Lake Toonol. This region had once been a vast stinking swamp, but the addition of the new atmosphere plants had started a reversal of the planetary drying which had seized Barsoom ages ago. Today what was once a desolate swamp is now a large clear lake. In some remote future age, oceans would once more exist on this world. Lake Toonol was once the deepest part of the deepest ocean, so it still persisted as a marsh even into the driest age of Barsoom. Morbus was rebuilt once over fifteen hundred years ago by Ras Thavas and is where his original laboratory was located. Here he perfected his surgical wonders and it was here that he engendered the first artificial humans, the so-called "hormads". The hormads proved to be a great deal of trouble and for a time, the master became the slave. Ras Thavas could well empathize with Savjoda. That second city of Morbus was bombed out of existence by the fleet of Helium and Ras Thavas set out to rebuild it yet again. While the city had suffered other mishaps since that time, none had completely leveled the city again. The Morbus of today is clearly assembled on the skeleton of that third city and is now home to a great scientific university. Ras Thavas is jeddak of Morbus, but plays little role in the government. That work is left to the "jeds of administration" the head of which is Zorn Konark, the first jed. On Earth, we would call him a mayor.

It was Zorn Konark who stood awaiting us as the flyers landed in the center of the city. Ras Thavas was instantly giving a hundred different orders to the throng that had gathered around. He called for every available flyer assigning the fastest one to John Carter to convey him back to Helium that he might take similar action there.

Many in the crowd stared dumbstruck at Fomas-67, for they had never seen a creature of his type. One man, mistaking him for a dangerous animal, attempted to capture him and swiftly discovered the amazing strength of his tentacles.

Before too long Tamla, Savjoda and I had a flyer of our own and a peculiar gun which had been designed by Gosmasokamankgo and mass produced through some amazingly swift method in the city of Morbus. Within hours, several flyer loads were on their way to Helium.

Two days passed before the fleets met on the dead sea bottom halfway between Helium and Lake Toonol where a small camp had been assembled to support the Gridley wave device needed to communicate with Dhaimira.

John Carter, who now commanded a fleet of over six hundred flyers, had Ras Thavas contact Gosmasokamankgo in the darmayok city. The device required that the Mastermind wear tight fitting headphones to receive the communication, so no others could hear what he heard, but the expression on his face clearly revealed that he was unhappy with the news he was hearing.

Looking up at John Carted and Savjoda he said, "The darmayok city is under attack by jomads. They have discovered that it is where the machine is now located and they seek to retrieve it. They have blocked all of the cityís snorkels save for one which they are trying to make their way down."

I asked Savjoda, "How long can the darmayoks hold them off?"

"Not long. The darmayoks are poor fighters. We must work quickly or all may be lost."


At that moment, the darmayok city was under siege although there were only a very few ways the jomads could get in. All but one of the organic snorkels were blocked with huge stacks of boulders which had been laboriously flown from land. It certainly did look bad until a sudden illumination leapt up from the depths.

As each of the winged creatures was touched by the light they seemed to dwindle in size. The device of Gosmasokamankgo had been brought into play. Each of the jomads was soon no larger than a doll and as their bodies shrunk, so did the capacity of their brains, for the hormad brains of the jomads did not respond to the Minunian diminution apparatus in the same way as that of a human. By the time they had reached their final size, they were no more intelligent than the small birds they resembled.


The sky opened up over the dead sea bottom and the first group of flyers rose into the strange rippling hole in reality. Our destination was Pellucidar and then Earth. The hole closed and then reopened, this time exposing the gray terrain of Vah-Nah and a second group of flyers entered the spatial rift.

Although I was not there to see it, the last and most complicated step was the team sent to Amtor. Amtor was not a hollow world like Earth, The Moon or Mars. The central sun of Amtor only got as hot as molten iron, creating sort of a "foamy" underworld of caverns and tunnels below the surface of Amtor which was inhabited by all sorts of strange creatures. The journey to the surface of that world would be arduous, requiring digging machines similar to that which first entered Pellucidar from Earth. John Carter referred to that region of Amtor as "Hades" when Ras Thavas told him about it, a reference that the Mastermind simply did not understand.


The most dramatic battle was fought in Pellucidar. The second the sun blinked out, the jomads knew what was happening. The assembled in a great flock in the sky over Greenwich many thousands strong. They must have, at least at first, been heartened when they saw how few the number of flyers was that had come through. They would have been well able to deal with only the hundred or so, particularly with their new metal weapons. How quick they had been to take advantage of the great mineral wealth if Pellucidar! Each of them now carried a large shiny steel sword and a Barsoomian style long-range Radium pistol. It must have been crystal clear to them how they would soon overwhelm us.

I was close enough to see the shocked expression on the faces of some as they watched their weapons expand in their hands, as they suddenly found themselves lost in the folds of their own clothing. It was only a matter of hours before every jomad of the legions around Greenwich were dealt with.

A group passed through to the surface of Earth and similarly handled the city of San Francisco. Much to my relief, my father was discovered alive, if dirty and underfed, in a palace basement room. The president had been killed by accident while the jomads were attempting to win his cooperation.

My reunion with my father, the jemdar, filled me with the greatest relief that I had ever felt. Greater than the fate of worlds is the bond between a son and his father.

In a matter of a few weeks, all of the major concentrations of jomads in the solar system were engaged and eradicated, but occasional small tribes of them were encountered on various worlds for another twenty years.

Finally, I was able to take Tamla of Helium as my bride. Ours was a life of great contentment with occasional bouts of restlessness. We traveled the solar system via the roads through space. Tamla presented me with two strong sons full of vigor and inheritors of their motherís feisty spirit.

Savjoda returned to his capital in Dhaimira to await his punishment by the doyaks.

BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE

Don't miss the novel's exciting... and surprising...
conclusion in next week's ERBzine 0526
Chapter 16
Punishment

Seth Kallen Deitch
Seth Kallen Deitch
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SETH
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Volume 0525

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