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CHAPTERS THIRTEEN AND FOURTEEN
The coming of the First Born
The Emerin were firing their pistols now but, they were poor shots and most missed their targets. They were gathering for a final attack;
“Get ready!” shouted John Carter. “They are setting up for a final assault! If you love your freedom, if you love your life, if you love your Kali-Maaka. Come join us! Death to the feather heads!” Several dozen joined the ranks of the defenders. He saw Turan, his leg in a splint and wrapped up, hobbling out –he had a radium pistol himself.
“If I must die, I want it to be next to my love, my mate,” Turan said, giving Valla a kiss on the cheek.
“And I too, my prince!” she answered. She didn't get long to savor what ever was his reply because the birdmen let out another screech and charged them. They outnumbered the defenders five to one.
“Let em have it!” Cried the Warlord and a hail of radium bullets and darts met the horde of Emerin. For a moment the attack faltered, but regrouped and came at them, this time a machine gun was set up giving them covering fire.
Turan and Valla were firing into the attackers, dozens fell to their pistols until the click of empty weapons were heard followed by some colorful Zorian profanity from Turan.
Some of the cave men, boys and old men, joined them but it seemed like a lost cause. The Raksa were forced back deeper into the caves. The birdmen were using their staffs with nooses to capture slaves or perhaps victims for their kitchens.
As all seemed hopeless a steady sound brought joy to John Carters heart. It was the high pitched report of a large radium cannon followed by an explosion among the ranks of the Emerin. More and more powerful shells hit them and they started to fall back more interested in the new foe that was attacking them from behind. John Carter ran forward and picked up several pistol from dead birdmen—copies of Colt 45 Peacemaker revolvers. He notice Turan and Valla did the same.
“Father? Are these the 'hoglegs' you spoke of?” she asked eyeing the weapon.
“Thats them, but be careful they have quite a kick when fired,” he answered, shooting a birdman in the back as he was attempting to withdraw.
“Who is attacking the Emerin?” asked Turan.
“My guess its the First Born,” The Warlord said with a smile. “And I for one say they didn't come a moment too soon.” He could hear radium rifles and the chattering Maxim Gun as well as rifle fire. Still, even with these weapons they stood little chance of defeating the Black Pirates of Barsoom.
John Carter could see new fires in the city now—and modern skyships painted in the colors of the Dator of the First Born hovered over the city. What few Emerin airships that dared to oppose them were quickly shot out of the sky.
“Without the ray they are finished!” Cried Turan as Valla held him close. In the lake were floating several large steel ships— submarines dispatched to the inner world. From them small boats were off loading an army of ebony skinned warriors. Being taken by surprise the Emerin was scattering into the jungles or trying to reach their city.
John Carter saw a flyer take off from a large submarine and head towards the caves where they were. She flew the colors of the First Born.
John Carter stood up on the earthworks and waved at the approaching ship.
A few rifle shots came his way but the Emerin were in full retreat now. The ship fired at the retreating columns with its bow gun as it approached. The Warlord knew he was recognized and soon the small ship landed on the works, among the dead birdmen. It carried six ebony warriors. John Carter didn't recognize them.
“You are John Carter of Heilum?” asked a lean warrior wearing the metal of an Odwar.
The Warlord approached him with a smile.
“Yes, I am John Carter, prince of Helium, who do I have the honor of addressing?”
“Odwar Shandax Of the royal guard of the Dator of the First Born,” he said with a smile. “All of Barsoom has been searching for you these past weeks. Many thought you had returned to Sasoom with your daughter.”
“Much of Sasoom is here in Daimara—The plants and animals taken from my home world by the Emerin. The featured creatures you have been fighting. You came at the right time.”
“Our troops are attacking the white walled city but the fighting is fierce—and that chattering death gun is like nothing we have even seen.”
“A curse from Sasoom I fear,” explained the Warlord. “But let us rescue my men and daughter. I want her placed in no more danger.”
“She is the Jedara of Zor I have been told,” the Odwar said. “The people of that land have been in mourning, believing she might be dead.”
“She has her guard with her—they are to be wed.” informed John Carter. “If you can let her people know of the coming marriage—they should have a little joy when we return.”
“We will fly you to our submarines and take you back to the Omean. How many in your party?”
John Carter looked around only a few of his original crew still lived, Djor was there. So too Turan and Valla and six others.
“These are all we have left.” he told the First Born.
“Good, I will send for another ship and take you.... What is this? By Issus!”
Xoiana came walking in—seeing the First Boon she started to run for the Officer.
“Father!” she cried out as they embraced.
“We thought you were lost in the crash of your flyer five years ago!” he said with tears in his eyes. Your brother is with the expedition –you mother will be surprised to see you... alive.”
Tar and Maas came up and the tracker spoke to John Carter.
“Are you going to leave us?” he asked. “The legends all say that Kali-maaka will leave when he frees all Daimara.”
“I must go,” he said. “I only hope we have ended forever the rule of the Emerin and burned their hateful city.”
“It is my wish as well,” answered Maas.
The Odwar motioned for him and the rest of the party to come to the airship. Several of the First Born ex-slaves joined them as did a handful of from Barsoom, a man from Dusar and a Couple form Zodanga. The ship was crowded but took off and flew to the submarines in the lake. John Carter counted seven of gray gun metal crafts. All large vessels.
“I took a hogs leg, with me as a souvenir,” answered Vala, holding up the six gun.
“You better be careful with that piece, No safety switch like a radium pistol. “ John Carter said pushing the barrel of the 45 caliber pistol away from the party.
“You shall have to show me how to shoot such a thing,” Valla said as she hugged Turan close.
“You have other things to worry about,” he father told her as they landed on the broad whale -like back of the undersea vessel.
They were escorted down a hatch into the interior of the metal hull. The First born saluted John Carter and even bowed in deference to Valla, having been informed of her rank.
They were escorted forward where a lavish cabin draped with purple curtains, gold fittings and overstuffed chairs. A place fit for an admiral. Later he learned it was the cabin of the Dator himself.
“The Dator isn't here directly, but send his regards,” The Padwar said with a low bow. “We will be setting off for the Omean in a few moments. We wish to get you back to Helium as soon as possible.”
“Will there be a reception at the Dator's palace?” asked Valla. “I will need to freshen up. You too father, you could use a bath, Turan as well!” Turning to Turan she said, “ I want you to look your best when you meet my mother.”
“I have met Dejah Thoris before,” he answered her.
“But never as my intended husband.” smiled Valla.
For the first time John Carter leaned back and relaxed. “In time I will comeback with the Green Men of Thark, and the Grand Fleet of Helium and smash Emerini to pieces. Their tyranny must end.”
“A great goal, my Lord.” answered Turan.
In moments they heard the low throb of the engines and it started to dive under the waters of the lake. The walls of the underwater cave was visible as it made its way in a maze of tunnels. Fish filled the portholes presenting a fascinating show for the passengers. Some had never seen a fish in their lives. The hours passed slowly until the submarine broke surface in the underground sea of the Omean.
From the portholes in the cabin they could see more and more submarines were surfacing in the Omean until all seven of the crafts were home, their airships lashed to the decks.
“I will need more submarines to carry the army to finish off the Birdmen. I will take the best of the Heliumetic Empire and her many allies. I want to catch some of the Lions for the Zoo in Greater Helium—and what ever animals they have robbed from Sasoom. I think, the inner world could be made a garden spot for Barsoom.”
“A bold undertaking, sire,” smiled Turan.
“Only you could accomplish such a feat,” added Valla.
Just then the sunken sea was rocked by a massive explosion, water washed over the submarine and sent it rocking with the shock and waves. For a moment it was like a great storm.
“What happened?” asked Valla.
“My guess would be the Emerin have blown the undersea tunnel.” commented John Carter. “ I guess the invasion of the inner world will need to wait for another day.”
A First Born crewman rushed to the Warlord. He had a folded peace of parchment.
“A message for you,” he said handing him the scroll. “It is addressed to Carter of Sasoom, from the Dator of the Emerin Empire.”
The warlord took the paper and silently read the thing.
“Its from the ruler of the Emrin, taunting me.” John Carter told the gathered people. “He says what I suspected. They blew up the tunnel but, they said we would meet again. I suspect we will—if they ever get that ray operational again.”
“Maybe another could free the Raksa?” mused Valla.”You do not need to be the one to save the world—maybe you need to relax for a time—and help me with my wedding plans.”
As they watched out the thick porthole, a large ship painted with the colors of Helium, and flying the imperial flag of the ruling house, flew close, just above the submarine.
“If I know Dejah Thoris, she is aboard that ship,” he said to Valla and Turan. “You better freshen up, your meeting with your mother will be sooner than you think.”
“I believe your right, Sire,” added Turan.
A Wedding In Helium
Greater Helium was filled with visitors from all over the vast Heliumetic Empire and her many allies. The sides of the streets were becoming packed as the dim Martian sun set. All knew that the wedding party and parade would pass this way to the Temple of Rewards, to finalize the marriage of Valla, Jedara of Zor and Turan of Zor—the daughter of the Warlord and the grand daughter of the Jeddak of Helium, Tardos Mors. It was a wedding that rivaled that of Carthoris and Thuvia of Dusar. It was THE event of the season and only the most powerful or fortunate could secure a ticket to the palace.
The whole palace was decorated with Plimaria Blooms and multicolored drapes. Flags flew from every window and staff—many held the flag of Zor. Music filled the packed main chamber that night. The greatest warriors, diplomats, merchants, scientists , scholars and their wives were present, with an equal number of guards. It was only fitting, for the royal wedding of Valla and Turan. For the couple it was only the first of several planned nuptials, one in Greater Helium and another in Zor.
The men in the lavish chamber spoke of Turan's skills as a swordsman, even his old swordsmanship teacher from Zodanga was present. The women all talked of Valla's dress, fabricated by the greatest dressmakers in Lesser Helium and her jewels. All were waiting for the couple to arrive. Tardos Mors would preside –as was Valla's wish. A Seventh Cycle Thern would officiate at the Wedding in Zor. She knew that her father wouldn't permit a Thern in the palace after his many problems with them at Valley Dor.
Some of the many present were school girls from Valla's old academy, young and giggling, from the finest families in the Empire, this was the most opulent event they had ever attended.
The foods offered at the long tables were both abundant and, for Barsoom, exotic. Fish from the Omean was highlighted, as was the thick steaks, cooked in the style of the Tharks, much beloved by the Green Man allies of Helium and the Warlord. One dish Valla had replicated was fried chicken--- a Sasoomian delicacy, her father had told her about such things.
As well as cakes, and baked treats. The school girls were laughing and feasting upon the sweets. The men were toasting each other with golden goblets of Dusarian Ale and Zodangan wine. The Warlord was not present, nor was her highness, Dejah Thoris – the formal event had yet to start and the gathered throng could be themselves.
A gong was struck alerting the party that Tardos Mors was about to arrive. The chamber became silent as the double doors parted and the ruler of Helium entered with his wife and entourage. Everyone knew that John Carter and Dejah Thoris would be arriving soon. After them would come the bride and groom and the festivities would commence.
Their was a ripple of clapping, and bows as the ruler took his place at the dais at one end of the hall. No sooner he took his position, the gong was struck three more times and all turned to see John Carter, his mate, Dejah Thoris on his arm, enter the chamber. The assembled witnesses began to clap in admiration of the beloved couple. She wore a long scarlet gown, with a flowing cape, jewels of an empress and a gleaming bejeweled dagger. Even the smiling John Carter was dressed well, in matching scarlet. His Harness new and decorated with awards and badges of rank. His weapons were the same he always wore, having rejected the ones selected by Dejah Thoris—encrusted with gems. He was smiling and nodding to old friends but all who knew him realized he would rather battle a great white ape or plant man that take part in the formal ritual. Still, his friends could see a mark of pride in his eyes that his youngest daughter was being married to a brave warrior—in his palace.
They took their place next to Tardos Mors as the great gong sounded ten times, and music played a stately march, an ancient tune that dated back to the founding of Helium ages ago. In the doorway was Valla, dressed in her wondrous white bejeweled gown. A gasp came from the guests as she was joined by Turan. Dressed in the sleeved open tunic of the Zorian wedding costume, but wearing his own serviceable weapons. He still wore the metal of the Jeddara's guard. John Carter approved, no gleaming swords hilts for him—as befitting a true warrior.
Valla's schoolgirl friends were gasping and giggling, whispering and snickering at Turan. Several blushed as their whispered conversations centering on the man their friend was about to wed. The two slowly walked towards the dais.
“They better hurry up,” whispered John Carter to his mate. “I'm starving, I want to try the fried chicken the cooks have been making. I know its really lizard, but I am curious how close they got to real Sasoomian chicken.”
“Be quiet, John.” she smiled. “You men, always thinking of your stomach.”
The two bowed before the Jeddak as he started the long ceremony. In a zode it was done and the two, now mated, kissed before the cheering crowd. Now the party would start with foods and drink and lastly the parade to the Temple of Reward and the registration of the wedding.
The dancing was started, but after the first formal dance, John Carter relaxed and watched Valla and Turan in their slow turn on the dance floor. He could see they were deeply in love. The Warlord found himself in a conversation with Kantos Kan, Odwar of the Helumetic navy. They were talking of Dhaimira, the inner world.
“I have an idea,” started John Carter. “Something I learned from friends on Sasoom, Earth, Its called an Iron Mole, designed to drill into the crust of Barsoom. With Helimetic engines and metals I bet we could fashion such a thing in a year or two. I ran some ideas past Ras Thravas and he came up with some good ideas for the oxygen repleshners and improved metals for the drill and gears.”
“Where would you go in such a contraption?” asked Kantos Kan as he sipped his ale.
“Why back to the inner core of Barsoom,” he said. “I have a score to settle with the feathered creatures who live there!”
John Carter took a drumstick and bit in, it tasted as good as anything found in Fairfax County, Virginia.
“A bit stringy, but not bad, not bad at all.”
JOHN CARTER IN THE CORE OF MARS
By Richard L. Senate
Ch. 1 and 2
Ch. 3 and 4
Ch. 5 and 6
Ch. 7 and 8
Ch. 9 and 10
Ch. 11 and 12
Ch. 13 and 14
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