Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 1628
A Long Time Ago From A Galaxy Far, Far Away . . . 

. . . . . Came . . .
Jeff "Elmo" Long's


Jeff Long
ERBzine is proud to present a reprint
-- retrieved from the Web archives --
Volume 1 ~ Number 8
of this much-prized collector's publication.

Jeff Long's collection of 
news items from Barsoom
first appeared on the Web in

Submissions, comments, lunatic ravings
... are still welcome.
E-mail them to Elmo




Record Breaker
Javier Gomez

Big Brother
Timo Mantere

A Step in Blood
Rod Hunsicker


 By Javier Gomez

The room was dim, lit by only the light streaming in from two windows. It was a large room approximately 40 feet wide and 80 feet long. Once many years ago this room served as a warehouse for goods that were shipped over the vast Oceans to far away Capitals. In its heyday this room was often filled with boxes and crates stacked all the way up to its ceiling, forty feet high. 

Those heydays were gone long ago. This room had not been used for thousands of years, not since the great oceans dried up and the inhabitants of this once great city died out. To this day many of the crates that were to be shipped on one of those days still remained in the deserted room exactly where they were placed those many years ago. Serving as relics of an extinct people, waiting to be discovered and studied by some interested archeologist or historian. 

Today however there stood a man behind one of these massive crates who cared not one bit about the contents of these huge boxes. He was more concerned of the way his footstep stood out in the inch thick layer of dust. It was particularly annoying to the man, the way the light from the windows seemed to be aiming their beams of light right at them. A spotlight could not do a better job of highlighting the footprints. The man who is named Magra Dan had taken such care to walk as far away from the light as he could, to avoid this specific problem. However, that was three hours ago
when our man snuck into this dark room to hide from those pursuing him. The sun had since shifted, resulting in the current situation. 

Magra Dan had considered going over and wiping the footprints away. However, that thought was wiped away once shuffling could be heard just at the entry way. Involuntarily he sucked in his breath as he saw a large shadow at the door. Of course to Magra Dan the sucking noise he made seemed loud enough to wake the dead. However, apparently neither the dead or the mysterious shuffler heard it, for neither entered the room to investigate. Whatever it was simply moved on into the dark hallways of the abandoned building. 

Relieved, he slid down to the floor to rest his tense nerves, after a minute he began to recite to himself the exact reason why he is never going to attempt to break the record for circumnavigating Barsoom again. His arguments are simple, its far too expensive to design and build a new engine, This requires materials. To get the materials, one must have money to buy them with, the kind of money that a poor Padwar in the Navy of Helium does not have. Second, its too damned dangerous! Even Ptor Phak, who currently has the record, had to try twice. His first attempt ended with him becoming
prisoner of some invisible people! This is Magra Dan's third attempt at the record and each time his ship is either shot down by green savages or his engine blows up and leaves him stranded in some desolate and dangerous god forsaken part of Barsoom. The perfect example being his present situation. 

So why did he try? He'd be wealthy for starters. With a speed record under his belt, he could sell his engine design to an airship manufacturers for lots of money. To add to that, he would be a hero at home. Ptor Phak is from Zodanga, Heliums' traditional enemy. For years the people of Helium have had to live with this humiliation. If Magra Dan could bring the record back to Helium, he would be worshipped. All of this was enough to keep Magra Dan trying, even after his last failed attempt. 

During his last attempt at breaking the record, his engine blew up when it over-heated, clearly a design flaw. So Magra Dan designed a new cooling system which would prevent that from happening. And it worked.. sort-of. His engine didn't blow up, it just fused together into one big glob of shiny chrome and steel. 

Unfortunately, his ship stranded him within sight of a small Warhoon raiding party. Fortunately, he was also close to this deserted city. Once he realized the gravity of his situation, he abandoned the worthless, waste of good hard earned money, that he kindly had called an airship. He decided it would not be too humiliating to retreat in a dignified manner to the nearby city. Red men generally prefer not to run, however under the current situation Magra Dan made an exception. Who wouldn't with six twelve foot tall, four armed green savages riding mounts that are ten feet high at the
shoulder. Magra Dan wasted no time, he ran so fast that he practically left his skin back by the airship. Unaccustomed to running, he forgot to tie down his various weapons and possessions that he had attached to his leather harness. The result being that during his first dozen yards he was accompanied by a rattling of metal like he never heard. He also witnessed his short sword fly out of its sheath and land point down into the moss, so much for a smooth retreat. After stopping to secure his possessions, he made good time. 

Once in the city he ran down the main avenue some three hundred yards and entered this abandoned warehouse. Running down the main hallway he passed several rooms and settled on this one. 

He has been behind this crate since. Knowing how stubborn these green men can be they will search for many days before they give up on their prey. He will have to stay until nightfall, and then make his way out quietly. These plans were soon dashed, for no sooner had Magra Dan begun to relax when a shadow filled the doorway. It hesitated at the door and suddenly the shadow stepped into the room. It stepped forward towards the first of Magra Dan's footprints, and stopped. The diffused light coming from the window was enough to show Magra Dan the Green of the trespassers skin. Not that he needed this evidence, for the dim lighting was enough to discern enough of the creature to determine its nature, at twelve feet in height, with four arms, and the two large tusks protruding from the creatures face there was little else that this could be but one of the fierce Warhoons that were searching for Magra Dan. 

He was followed into the room by another of the warriors, who seemed to slide in like a nightmarish ghosts. They stood there, for what seemed an eternity, staring at Magra Dan's footprints. 

As the two giants stood there gazing at Magra Dan's footprints, The red man silently drew his long sword. He knew he was caught, he was also determined to give these two a hard time "catching" him. Although Magra Dan does not fancy himself to be a great warrior or another John Carter, he is still a formidable opponent. As all other men on this planet, he has grown up with a sword at his side, and was trained to use it. Having participated in several wars and battles as a scout in Helium's Navy, he was no stranger to battle or death. As such Magra Dan stood behind the crate ready to fight, resigning his fate to that which awaits most fighting men of Barsoom. 

Magra Dan peered around the corner of the crate, looking to see what would be his best approach to attack from. Instead what Magra Dan saw however was his salvation. As the Warhoon warriors stood there searching the room for him, a huge dark shadow crept up to the Warhoon men, from behind. When it was within five feet of green men, the creature suddenly stood up, straightening out to a full fourteen feet in height, letting out the most mind numbing roar imaginable, it sprang at the unsuspecting Warhoons. It was a White Ape, the most feared of Barsoomian predators. 

Magra Dan stood there stunned as the monster leaped at the two green men with his four massive arms spread out, grabbing both men. The first man died instantly, as the monster grabbed him by the neck, and with a brutal shake literally, broke his neck. The second however, was not so easy. The monster was only able to grab his left upper arm. To the green mans credit he fought valiantly, twisting around immediately, he struck with the long sword that he carried in his right arm. His blow gave a terrific cut to the creature at the shoulder, which for an instant made him back away a pace. An instant moves pretty fast, and so did the enraged white ape, recovering from the blow he leaped squarely onto the warrior. tearing away at him with his four mighty fists, pounding him into the ground, using all of his seven hundred pounds of pure muscle, until there was nothing but green and red pulp. 

The victorious monster stood there glowering with his angry eyes, staring at his lifeless prey. Suddenly he drove his jaws into the lifeless flesh and tore out a chunk of meat to begin his well earned feast. 

Magra Dan stood there watching in horrified Awe at the great beast, clearly deserving every bit of its fierce reputation. Magra Dan was actually more at ease now, as ridiculous as it seems. The White Ape killed the only men that knew he was in the room. Once the White Ape is done with his meal he will probably leave, leaving Magra Dan no worse for wear. As fate should have it though, Magra Dan will get no rest just yet. As he tried to settled down on one knee, the metal butt of his short sword tapped against the metallic crate. A sound so low that in normal circumstances would not even be noticed by the most sensitive of ears, but in a deserted empty warehouse it is like a siren announcing potential prey for a ravenous and opportunist white ape. 

A pallid Magra Dan peered from his hiding to note to his horror, that the monster was no longer by the dead green men. He was nowhere to be seen! A faint sound could be heard from the other side of the container, then another, suddenly there is a thud on top of the very crate that Magra Dan hid behind! Magra Dan nearly fell into a panic, his nerves were at an end. To him it would almost be better to have an outright confrontation with the beast than to sit here waiting for it to pound on him. The panic passed quickly, regaining his composure he devised a plan and executed it without  hesitation. Taking his dagger from its harness he threw it to the farthest, dark corner he could see. After a second his gamble was rewarded when he saw a huge shape suddenly lunge off of the container towards the clattering dagger. 

Wasting no time Magra Dan made his way around the far side of the container. At the same time he drew his pistol, this situation requires some good old fashioned fire power. Looking from behind the crate, he spotted the White Ape studying the dagger. Then looking at the doorway about twenty feet away, he figured he could quietly make his way to it while the ape analyzed the dagger. 

Moving slowly and carefully he was slowly but surely making it to the doorway, carefully looking back to make sure that the creature had not seen him. Magra Dan had taken every precaution, to make no noise and he was positive that he didn't. However what a man cannot hear, sometimes an animal can. Especially, a beast of prey, that relies on all its senses for survival. The White Ape is a very successful hunter, it has very sharp senses. Although Magra Dan could not hear it, His padded sandals made a slight thud on the dusty floor. When next Magra Dan looked over to the white ape,
he saw angry eyes beading in on him. As common myth or belief would the White Ape would stand up on it two feet and roar pounding its chest with its four mighty fists at its intended prey, but in reality that would be wasteful and serve no purpose. White Apes are not wasteful, instead what Magra Dan saw was the great beast hurl itself after him, using its two lower arms to assist in propelling itself onto its intended prey. All the while its head, topped with bristling hair, stayed nearly motionless on its body, as its eyes focused on the eyes of its prey, a tactic that in most cases is more than
enough to paralyze its prey with fear. 

However Magra Dan is no ordinary prey, but rather an experienced warrior. Now that the fight was out in the open, all fear vanished from Magra Dan, all the nervous anxiety that so often precedes any important event is gone. Instead it is now replaced by the instincts of a warrior. Raising his radium pistol towards the beast which charged him from thirty feet away Magra Dan took aim. This pistol, which is easily the most potent weapon a barsoomian warrior may have, fires a bullet that contains a powder that explodes when exposed to sunlight when the outer shell of the bullet cracks on
impact. Aiming at the beasts upper body, Magra Dan fired. To his horror his ace-in-the-hole didn't work. Nothing happened !! Apparently, the diffused sunlight was not enough to make the shells go off. 

Running towards the doorway he fired again at the creature, hoping that something would happen. Nothing did, the beast simply winced at the impact of the bullets, and was frankly getting a little irritated by them. The monster was now within twenty feet of Magra Dan and it was pissed. 

Magra Dan swung to the left, towards doorway that he used to enter the building. He could see the daylight trickling in through the exit two hundred and fifty feet away. Racing down the hallway he heard the creature crash into the wall as it rounded the corner of the doorway too fast. 

However, it regrouped fast. By the time Magra Dan Looked over his shoulder he could see it was already back on his trail and catching up fast. In the wide hallway designed to allow large cargo containers, the monster could move with no hindrance. Magra Dan ran as he never ran before, but to no avail. The creature was catching up with an amazing speed. With thirty feet yet to go, the monster was already only ten feet behind him. Magra Dan could feel the wind caused by the monster swiping at his head with its free upper arms. He could feel the hands getting closer. One second later, he felt
the apes finger rap him on the back of his head. He had to do something. 

Without much thought, relying purely on his instincts, he threw his useless pistol over his shoulder at the monster. Then grasping his long sword with both hands, he pushed off his right foot, up and swinging his body around he swung a vicious blow at the monsters outstretched hand, severing two of its fingers, then completing the rotation of his body, he landed on his left foot, and almost without loss of a stride continued forward. 

Looking over his shoulder, he could see the effect of the old trick, used so often by retreating soldiers to discourage a close pursuit. With some satisfaction he saw the beast grabbing his injured paw and slowing for a few paces. Shocked by Magra Dans' maneuver, the beast lost its stride, then harnessing his rage he leaped after Magra Dan with a re-doubled effort. 

Reaching the doorway, Magra Dan could see nowhere he could go or hide within two hundred feet. the monster was now almost to the door. There was nothing to do but stand and fight, at least out in the open he stood a chance, small though it be. Running towards the center of the avenue, he drew his short sword, and stood waiting for the monster. Armed with his long sword in his right hand, and his short sword in the other, Magra Dan was determined to make it a costly fight for the Ape. 

Looking at the doorway he could see the ape coming at him, approaching the doorway at a quickening pace as it was getting closer. He saw it slow down and rise up on its two hind legs as it realized that his prey was not running. Rising up so that it could pound the difficult red man with all its fury, it charged forward on its two hind legs. The red man saw the towering monster reach the doorway ready to crush him, he saw the sunlight striking the apes feet and rising up its body as it left the building. Then ..... 


Staring dumbfounded, he saw the ape collapse with two huge holes in its chest from which blood spurted out like a water fountain. Apparently, his pistol was not as ineffective as he thought, there simply was not enough light to detonate the radium powder. However, the powder still remained on the ape after the bullets struck.. Once exposed to the sunlight, the powder did what was natural for it, it exploded. 

Standing there in disbelief, with his nerves on edge he simply started to laugh. What a great trick!! As he stood there laughing he slowly realized that he was not laughing alone. Someone else was laughing with him. Looking around he saw the source of laughter. Not forty feet from him was a green warrior rolling around on the ground laughing his head off. The Green savages are a harsh people with a very harsh sense of humor. To them suffering and pain in others is simply the best humor around. Few are the green men that will not fall into a rash of giggling should one of their own trip and
crack his head open. 

Getting a grip of himself, the green man stepped toward the red man still unable to restraint his laughter. "Did you see that !! Did you see his expression as his chest blew open ?!! It was priceless !!" The Warhoon exclaimed. "That was a good trick red man, I'll give you that." 

Clearly this must be one of the Warhoon that was hunting him. However, there were at least ten as far as Magra Dan remembered. He knows the fate of two of them, and here is a third so, "Where are your other companions ? Weren't there more of you?" asked Magra Dan. Sobering up a bit, the green man responded "Three of us have remained to look for you. The others have left." "Well now you found me, what do you plan to do?" Magra Dan knew the answer, but tried to hope that he didn't. "Well red man I intend on taking you prisoner, so put your weapons away and lets go". " I don't think I will my friend, you see I have had a very bad day, and I have no intentions of making it worse by becoming your prisoner" replied Magra Dan, as he readied himself for a fight. 

"Come on red man, your no match for me", the green warrior replied while drawing his long sword, "besides there are two more of my companions around, and together we will definitely get you.". "Your companions are dead, Calot, and if you don't go on your way, you will find your ancestors much sooner than expected!" said the red man more than a little peeved at being considered such an easy opponent. The green mans' response was swift, with his long sward he rushed Magra Dan cutting furious swings, planing to overpower the red man as he charged.. 

Sidestepping the green man, his adversary rush by. Then when the green man spun around, Magra Dan shot his right arm back and hurled his long sword at the green mans heart. With the sword striking its mark, The Green man collapsed, dead. 

Being a man that learns from experience, Magra Dan spun around with his short sword ready, just in case something else was creeping up on him. However nothing else was. So with out further delay Magra Dan collected his long sword and pistol, and made for the quickest exit from this confounded city. 

Standing at the entrance to the city, Magra Dan looked back at the carnage, "that was kinda fun!" he thought. Then turning around he took the first few steps of many hundreds of thousands that stood between here and home. With plenty of time, Magra Dan began planning his next attempt at the speed record.


(C) Copyright 1997 by Javier Gomez

Big Brother
Timo Mantere

Some people may find this new Url Web story offensive. But then, some people would find ERB's mad Jed of Ghasta, who liked to grill young girls over a fire, pretty darn offensive, too. Who am I to judge?
Lonely red man rode a thoat in the red desert of Barsoom, man had another thoat in the rope as well. Man was Url Web, who had followed footprints in the sand for some while. He passed a small hill and suddenly he saw an ancient Martian city right ahead. 

Url Web realized quickly that this city in front of him can't be Fluke, because he didn't see the famous landmarks of Fluke, he had been told of landmarks from which he could recognise it.

"So," he thought. "I have been following the footprints of an enemy."

All unknown cities must be considered as enemy cities. He continued his thought, "This must be the city, where those two warriors I beheaded came from." 

How absolutely right he was, he was to find out very soon, because when he saw the city and realized it was not Fluke, he immediately tried to change the direction of his thoat. Url Web had no desire to enter enemy city or be seen by the enemy. But his thoat didn't change its direction. It kept its course right towards the city.

Only when it was too late, Url Web realized that the thoat he rode was trained to return to its home, in case it loses its rightful owner. Url Web had absolutely no control over the thoat. When realising that, Url Web jumped off the thoat and rolled down to the red dust of Barsoom. It was too late anyway. Guards in the city walls had seen him already and recognised him as a stranger, and at the moment armed warriors riding the thoats came out of city port and rode in his direction.

Url saw the men coming, he said to himself: "There's no point to escape." He realized he can't outrun the thoats, nor were there any hiding place around. So he stood at his place calmly and let his sword lay in peace at his waist, it would be no use against so many men.

One man rode in front. Url Web thought that he must be their leader. This man stopped his thoat right before Url Web and said "Kaor! Who might you be? And what are you doing in the lands of Vittu?"

Url Web recognized the name and the marks in the soldiers' belts. This was indeed the same city where those two warriors came. Unfortunately Url Web soon realized that these men can recognize marks as well.

Url Web answered: "Kaor! I am Url Web and I come in peace. May I visit your city as peaceful visitor and world traveller to eat and rest?"

Chief of the warriors seemed to have hard time to keep his facial impressions static, while the other soldiers blew up into laughter. Url Web thought it was a hopeless shot, from their laughter it seemed obvious that these people don't appreciate peaceful travellers too much. Url Web's only hope had been unexpected and brave suggestion, since no-one thought that friendly passengers could even exist in Barsoom.

Chief warrior was up to the joke. "So if you are friendly and peaceful traveller, would you mind to explain us, how come you happen to ride thoats of Pas Ka and Pil Lu?" he asked. "Were they also so friendly, that they gave their thoats to you?"

"Well," Url Web answered, "I met them in peace, but they wanted to kill me, so I had no other choice than cut their heads off, as much as I hated to do it, since I am a peace-loving guy."

The warriors didn't saying to that, so the descendant of John Carter continued:

"The thoats were lost and ownerless, so I thought I should take care of them, until the rightful owner claims them."

Chief looked still calm and said, "Well, I saw you are a clever man and good with words, you must also be a great warrior, if you killed Pil Lu and Pas Ka, and I can also see that you have quite a little brother, so you must be mighty soldier. So you may come to visit our city in peace."

Url Web accepted, even though he wasn't all that sure that his visit will be too peaceful, it was quite obvious from the soldier's laugh that they were expecting something funny waiting for him. But there were no way to refuse. Url Web wondered what the hell was the talk about his little brother, since he had no brother and these people wouldn’t know if he would had anyway. But he didn't feel that this moment would be too good for questioning.

Some soldier had captured the thoats that Url Web previously rode, so he was given the same thoat that he rode before. Url Web rode with soldiers into the strange city, it was beautiful city Url Web thought, all buildings seemed to be artistically decorated and in geometrically perfect order. People come and go in their business, people were really fine looking red Martians, both men and women, no hostility were to be seen, people gave friendly greetings to the soldiers accompanying Url Web, no special interest were pointed towards him. Maybe this is after all very civilized and friendly town, Url Web thought to himself.

Url was taken into palace complex, after they rode to the thoats into the stable, Url and soldiers jump down from their thoats. Url Web tell the chief "You have a beautiful town here, people seem beautiful and friendly, I think I'm going to joy my visit here!" Chief gave a wide grin, while he answered "I am sure you will, my friend." Simultaneously Url Web felt the hit in the back of his head and lost his consciousness, one of the soldiers had hit him from behind and laughed, "Yes, it will be very joyful visit indeed."

ViiSas sat on the desert rock, it saw a red man it hated been captured and taken into the city. ViiSas looked until the man disappeared behind the city walls and then it started to walk over the sand towards the city walls in order to follow the man and finally got its revenge.

Url Web regain his consciousness and find out that he was chained into the wall of some sort of rounded prison chamber. Chamber was about 30 feet in diameter, the chaining arrangement of prisoners was quite strange. People were chained in two floors -- upper prisoner were chained into the wall some seven feet from the floor level, and the lower prisoner into the floor level. Upper prisoners were all men, but in lower level there were some women prisoners as well. Url Web was chained in the upper level. There was nobody below him.

Url Web wondered what this arrangement was all about. He was about to ask the other prisoners when the door in the other side of the chamber opened. Four soldiers walk in, dragging a beautiful girl with them. Url Web's heart left a couple of beats undone, when he saw the girl, then his heart started to pump with insanely fast speed.

Url Web could barely believe the beauty of the girl. He watched those long thighs, those wonderful hips above them, that amazingly thin waist and belly, those middle-sized cute hills above them, that noble neck and chin, her perfectly shaped face, that small cute nose, those wide sparkling dark eyes, her long beautifully curved coal black shiny hair and those red lips that just asked to be kissed.

Url Web fell in love in less than a millisecond. While Url Web was still all mixed up with his new found love feelings, soldiers bring the girl right under Url Web and chained her right below him in the floor level. Then the soldiers leave the chamber.

After the soldiers went, Url Web regained some of his normal thinking and he asked the girl below, "Kaor, I'm Url Web of Helium, may I ask you who you are and why you are imprisoned?"

The girl answered, "Kaor, I am princess Vilma Vhenus from Fluke. I was imprisoned because I refused to marry their jeddak. They said that couple of days chained here would change my mind, but nothing will. I heard that I will get some John Carter descendant for my cell mate. They told me that soon I will discover what the famous Carter gentlemenship really is. They said that soon I will appreciate the gentlemanship of their jeddak.”

Url Web said, “Well I am a Carter descendant, it’s true that we are famous for gentlemenship, but I don’t see what they mean otherwise."

Unfortunately, soon he would find out. Url Web talked with the girl more, then Url Web was suddenly afraid that this girl might be too close of a relative, since the last city where Carters were royal was in Fluke. He cautiously asked if there were any royal Carter descendants left in Fluke. Vilma Vhenus answered that in royal family there’s only one, the one that is married with her aunt -- princess Janina Vhenus.

Url Web was very relieved to hear this, since he was ever more and more in love with this girl. Url Web had never been too much of a ladies man, even though everyone called him handsome. Through his infatuation, he remembered his encounter with green thark woman Sarkoja, when he was captured by 23rd Thark community just before he entered the desert separating Fluke from rest of the world. Shivers went down Url Web's spine when he though the green woman, thanks to whom he got away from Tharks.

More talks with Vilma and suddenly Url Web realized that he had a need to empty his bowels. Sudden realizations went through Url’s mind. He had from the first moment from waking up in this chamber smelled the faecals, but that was no news. He knew that Barsoomian prisons don’t have the best of smells. Prisoners are chained into walls and had no choice other than do their needs under them.

Url Web remembered John Carter saying, when interviewed on Heliumian television, that when he was imprisoned for half a year in the Zodangan prison -- charged with escaping the Valley Dor -- that first he made a chair from his own faecals and in the end of his imprisoning he had full-sized bed made from his own faecals. He wrote this into his manuscripts on Jasoom, but his nephew Edgar left this detail off the story as too inappropriate.

Url Web also had already seen prisoners at the other side of the chamber doing their needs right on top of the other one. Url Web felt the terrible feel of fullness in his lower body, his bladder felt like it would explode, his ass felt like burst at this second.

Url had stopped his talking with Vilma Vhenus, maybe the princess realised what is going on also, she had seen what had happened with the other prisoners, probably she realised just as Url Web did what the gentlemenship talk was all about.

Desperation fulfilled Url Web’s mind, he thought desperate thoughts, planned desperate things, he though if he take speed and swing his lower body
onwards he could empty his bowels in front of the girl, but he didn’t think he’s fast enough and the rest would drop on the girl. This certainly was the
most difficult situation that an descendant of Virginian gentleman could ever face.

John Carter, the Warlord of Mars, stand behind the pillar’s in the shady side of the strange large rounded hall. Carter had walked in the desert quite a long time, until he saw this unknown ancient city. Carter needed food, so he had waited till dark, before he secretly enter the town over the city walls. Now Carter wear the outfit of these strangers, his costume was a gift from the very nice fellow, who gave them to Carter after Carter let him taste his shortsword.

Carter had his skin still sunburnt and he thought that he might still fool these men to think that he's a red Martian from this town, but still he wasn't too sure about that and wasn't too interested to enter the room to be seen.

This strange hall both puzzled and disgusted Carter, room was all the time occupied by casual men that came and go, but what these men did bothered Carter. In the hall, there were five holes in the floor, holes were about 30 feet in diameter, at his position Carter didn't saw what there were in the holes, but he could guess.

Carter thought this must be a strange mensroom, because many of the men that came here went by the same hole and pissed into it. But the thing that bothered Carter was that most of the men laughed crazily while they pissed and some didn't pissed at all, but just watched to the hole while others pissed and they have erection. What a strange town Carted thought and hoped that by evening he could escape this hall and steal some food and thoat and escape this town.

Url Web might not have been too happy to know that his prison hole were to be used as toilet next day. Anyway at the moment Url was painfully need of an toilet, when the soldiers came into chamber, they came right to Url and said "So, you are the Carter descendant, the Biggest wants to see you." And they take his chains off and lead him out of the prison chamber.

One soldier ask laughingly, if Url is in need for using an mensroom, Url answered, "Yes, please!" Men push Url in the very modern looking mensroom, it was traditional Barsoomian mensroom with toilet, mirror and chemical handwashing equipment. There were not enough water in Barsoom to waste in toilets, so the hand washing and the destroying of faecals must be done chemically. Url laughed and cried from joy, when he got to emptying his bowels.

Url washed his hands and step out of the mensroom. Chief of the soldiers asked laughingly "So, did it ease?", Url answered "Yep, very much" Chief still laughed and said "The Biggest is very interested to see you, we have heard that Carter descendants have quite huge little brothers, and judging from you, it must be true."

Little brother again, Url thought. Are these people seeing things? Url asked the chief, "Little brother?"

Man answer, "Yes, it seems that that you have big enough to challenge the Biggest"

"The Biggest?" Url asked.

"Yes, our jeddak," was the answer. "His official title was The Holder of The Biggest, but nowadays he is just called The Biggest."

At the same time Url was lead into the large rounded hall, men were standing all around the hall, there were no chairs, except the throne chair, obviously for the jeddak. Url watched around, there were no women around. The door behind the throne opened, man and two young girls walked in, man sit into the throne and the two girls sat by his feet. The crowd in the hall shouted "Long live the biggest, may your big brother be merciful to us!"

Ceremonial master stepped in the floor and pushed man with him, the half blooded green and red man mix, and the master said here's the half blooded thark Carter descendant. The biggest watched the ten foot long purple coloured four legged ten foot tall man and said, "What an ugly creature, and his little brother does no honour for Carter name, Hul Lu step in and kill him". Strong red soldier stepped in the floor with axe and said "As you wish the biggest, may your big brother be merciful to us", and he faced the purple coloured hybrid saying "Be repaired to die ugly bastard, Hul Lu is going to kill you right now." Ceremonial master cave the purple man a longsword and said, "Battle well, so the big brother would awake and speak to us."

The battle started, Url watched the ugly hybrid, which was allegedly his relative, but he didn't know him. The huge red man swinged his axe, the purple man tried to cover, his purple skin was soon covered with purple blood, he got huge cuts in his flesh, when the red mans axe hit him. Crowd cheered eagerly.

John Carter had been hiding behind the pillar in the strange toilet room, until some man came by the same pillar and greeted him. "Hi friend, have you yanked off already? It's all right, I go behind the next pillar."

Man has erection when he walked behind the next pillar. Yank off? Carter thought, what's that? But now that he was seen, he stepped into the hall and walked by the rounded hole in the floor. Men greeted him "Hi friend, did it ease?" Carter thought it's best to admit, so he said "Yep!" One man was pissing in the hole, finally Carter got to see the hole, the smell was disgusting, he saw that there were people chained in the wall, the man beside Carter pissed right onto the head of one prisoner.

Disgust filled Carter, he almost jump into the mans throat, but managed to calm himself down. Man said, "Orsom, isn't it?" Carter was filled with rage, he couldn't believe what sort of perverts were these people to torture and humiliate their prisoners like that. Man got his needs fulfilled and he said to Carter "Come on, it's time to go, they have couple of Carter descendants, and they are going to butched them in the arena right now."

"Carter descendants?" Carter asked.

"Yes, come on", man said and walk to the door, Carter follow.

While they walk through hallways, man said, "By the way friend, you got a quite huge little brother, you have big enough to challenge the biggest, if you don't, you should hide it from the Biggest, otherwise he will decapitate your little brother some night in order to make you no challenger."

John Carter didn't have time to ask about the strange little brother talk before they enter the loud room, where were fight was going on.

John Carter looked the fight still puzzled by this town habits. There were badly wounded half blooded green/red man fighting with the strong red man.

Ceremonial master's voice filled the air, he shout "Big brother has awaken, speak to us, oh big brother!"

The crowd turn to look the throne, so did Url Web and John Carter, the Biggest sit in his chair and his huge organ has erection, the girls in his feet started to satisfied the Biggest's organ, crowd shouted "Speak to us, oh big brother, speak to us!", people watched the Hul Lu and the biggest organ, which got the gentle treatment from the two girls, ceremonial master shout "End him Hul Lu, make the big brother speak."

Hul Lu swinged his axe right to the throat of purple hybrid, the head rolled to the floor, blood spout into the air from cutted veins, people looked the corpse falling to the floor and the biggest, who standed up and simultaneously had ejaculation. People shout "Big brother speaks, big brother speaks, long live the big brother."

Url Web and John Carter watched this show at the different places in the hall, for Url this was something totally unknown. Carter had seen many things at his thousand years as mercenary in Earth, but he had never seen such perversed sexual oriented people in Barsoom.

As they look this scene, many other man seemed to squirt also, finally the excitement around the room seemed to calm a bit and silence start to fall into
the hall. 

The corpse of hybrid man was dragged out from the door. The ceremonial master stepped into the floor again and said “Long live the biggest, may your big brother be merciful to us!" He continued, “Oh big brother we have another Carter descendant for you." Url Web was then pushed into the floor. Url Web though to take this sublimely and stand his back straight looking the Biggest.

The Biggest looked at Url, evaluating. Url saw that the look directed into his groin. The Biggest said “Well, this man has quite a little brother, obviously fine Carter line, he deserve to die in the hands of great warrior, Ur Hea step in and show the Carter descendant how to fight."

Url Web saw a huge seven feet tall broadshouldered red man with a grin in his face step into the floor with a longsword, Url though that this man might be too much for him, quickly his brain calculate situation and he shouted “The Biggest is a coward to not fight himself, John Carter and his descendants always their fights themselves, is the Biggest a coward that hides behind bigger men?"

The Biggest stand up and shout “The Biggest don’t fight with foreigners and only those with big enough little brother are entitled to challenge the Biggest” There were some shouts from the crowd like “This man has a big enough to challenge” and “Why don’t you kill him yourself the Biggest, let him feel the wrath of your big brother?" Probably this got the Biggest to decide to take the challenge, he shout, " OK. You got my big brother angry, I will kill you myself."

So the Biggest stepped into floor with his longsword. Ur Hea gave his longsword to Url Web and stepped of the floor back to the crowd. 

John Carter saw all this and thought if he should step in and introduce himself as well as challenge the Biggest himself, but the years of inactivity made him thought that this unknown descendant of himself probably had a better chance with the Biggest.

The Biggest swinged his longsword in wide curves, he approach Url Web in rage, he swinged difficult slashes with his sword, Url was forced onto defensive side, Url pushed some hits towards the biggest body when ever seeing the opening. The fight got some time, Url’s good defence nullify the Biggest angry pressuring. 

Url saw that the excitement of the fight got strange forms, many men in the crowd got erection, Url watched the groins of the Biggest and saw that he had erection also, Url heard the crowd shouting “The Big brother has awaken, speak to us, oh big brother!". The Biggest again swinged terrible hit towards Url. 

Url managed to parry and at the same moment his brain got idea, probably inspired by disgust of this sexually perverted atmosphere or just the fact that his brain saw an opening, suddenly he discovered unshielded body part of the Biggest and with one fine aimed hit he cut the Biggest erected organ off.

The crowd suddenly silenced, the Biggest stopped his attack and watched his groins, Url Web stopped too, maybe his uncanny act shocked himself too, he had never heard anyone doing the same thing in swordfight ever before, even though everyone’s genitals in Barsoom was always naked. Maybe the chock or pain made the biggest collapse to the floor, Url put down his sword thinking if he should end this fight and kill the Biggest now.

ViiSas the Earth rat watched the fight from the hole in the room wall, near the throne. ViiSas had followed the man he wanted to see dead many days now, again it saw the man fought and won, so still ViiSas didn't get it's revenge. Anyway, ViiSas saw a good piece of meat dropping to the floor, it felt it's hunger and quickly run into the floor, took the piece of fresh meet into his mouth and run back to the hole to eat, before no-one even saw it. 

"My big brother! My big brother!" shouted the former Biggest, kneeling down on the floor searching for his biggest treasure, like he could save it now, even if he finds it, but it was already in better mouths. 

Actually it could have been saved if these people would have known about Ras Thavas. The poor former the biggest lost his light of sanity completely after losing the centerpoint of his very being. Man crawled insanely on the floor and no-one take any notice of him anymore.

Crowd was silent only couple of seconds, it was shocked to saw the big brother cutted off and The Biggest crawling on the floor. Ceremonial master was the first to recover, he was a man with big ambition, but not big enough organ to take the rule, so he saw an opportunity to rule by this stranger, who was big enough.

Ceremonial master shouted "Big Brother is dead, long live the big brother and new The Biggest, may your big brother be merciful to us!", he walked to Url and raised his hand up, like showing everyone who he meant, then he continued "Will anyone challenge new The Biggest? Does anyone have big enough to challenge?"

No-one seemed to have until the man who lead Carter into this hall shouted there is a man with big enough to challenge and pointed John Carter. Carter saw no other opportunity than step on the floor and start to walk towards the throne, he heard man whispering around "Look at that!", "He surely has big enough!" and "Where had he kept that hidden?"

Url Web saw a man approaching until he recognise him and shouted "John Carter!" John Carter stepped to the throne platform and Url Web jumped towards Carter and hug him. “It’s really you, John Carter” Url said. Carter simply answered “Yep”. Crowd was simply astonished to saw a legend himself, no-one seemed to know what to do.

Url Web didn’t had time to change words with Carter, so he said “I have to something immediately,” and run out of the doorway leaving Carter standing alone on the throne stage.

Url run into the prison chamber to free his love, when he got the chains off the lovely princess Vilma Vhenus, the girl hit him into the face shouting "You Ulsio!", and then with other hand "You bastard!" and with an other hand again "You #¤%&¤!"

She was literally pissed at Url Web.

The evening came, John Carter and Url Web had had some conversations with ceremonial master, who was second man in rule order at the city, crowd had leave the fighting arena wondering what the new ruler means to them. Url and Carter finally entered their sleeping chambers.

A man walked quietly through the dark secret hallways towards the sleeping chamber that ceremonial master had pointed to Url Web, the new The Biggest. Man wear a long robe and he hold a dagger in his hand.

ViiSas sit at the hole in the wall, it had followed the hated man, now it saw the man getting into the bed and it waited. It knew it couldn't kill the man itself, but it can do something else. It was a wise rat and it realizes which part of the body creates pleasure and was now determined to remove that part from that man.

Dark figure of a man reached the secret small chamber right behind the wall of Url's room, in fact man standed now only a couple of feet’s from the spot where Url Web slept calmly in his bed. Man pushed his hand through the hole in the wall and cut a hole to the wall-painting with his dagger, then he pushed other hand through the hole and searched Url's bed-clothes and then pushed his hand under them.

In the total darkness of the night ViiSas heard that the man has fallen asleep, his breathing has got that slow periodic tone, ViiSas knew the direction of the bed and walked right by it and jumped on it and found its way under the bed-clothes.

The man pushed his hand under Url's bed clothes and continued towards Url's organ tenderly not to wake him, finally his hand reach the target, he took a good hold of it and push his other hand holding the dagger through the hole and to follow the first hand, man quietly whispered "soon the biggest, will no longer be the holder of the biggest."

ViiSas placed Url's legs and follow them up towards his body part, which ViiSas was determined to bite off. ViiSas reach the crossing point of man's legs and couple inches further the reach the sausage-like fleshbite, it followed couple of inches toward the spot it though would be close the root of this organ. Then ViiSas open it's mouth wide and take a strong bite that separated the fleshbite from the body that hold it.

The shadowed man got his dagger to it's destination, when terrible pain hit the forefinger of his hand holding the target. Terrible pain strike through the man's nervous system, he screamed as his finger was separated from his hand, his grip from the target loosened.

Url waked up to the terrible scream and was fully awake in milliseconds, he felt alien hand's under his bed-clothes, inside the second he jumped up from the bed and took a hard grip of the hands and tear them and twist and break the bones from them. More terrible screams filled the air.

ViiSas plunged into the hole in the wall with its prey, it heard the terrible scream behind it, it felt the joy fulfilling it's heart, it had succeed, IhaNa was now revenged. ViiSas walked even more deeper into the hole, there were no more reason to rush or look back. Finally it stopped and ate its prey thinking that strangely this meatpiece doesn't feel as big as it looked at the daylight and it didn't taste quite the same that the one it ate early in the day and this one seemed to have small bones too, but it was soon eaten anyway. ViiSas continued ahead and came outside, it walked toward city walls
found a hole in it and was soon in the moonlight of the desert, it started to walk towards it's home, where it knew would be many beautiful Ulsio maidens waiting for their Jeddak.

John Carter was half sleep when he heard the scream from the direction of Url Web's sleeping chamber, Carter never slept full sleep, since he knew to expect problems. In couple of seconds Carter reach the Url's sleeping chamber with the long sword in other hand and short sword in the other, he switched the radium light on and saw Url holding two hands coming from the hole in the wall and dagger and blood in Url's bed, Url however seemed unharmed, the blood came from alien hands.

Couple of days later Url Web had set free the prisoners of the town and he and John Carter were about to leave the town. The strangers hands in Url’s bedroom revealed to be former The Biggest’s, he had regain some of his senses and attacked, but died of shock when his hands were mutilated.

Url rode ahead with the princess Vilma Vhenus, John Carter let the lovers, as he thought, rode together privately. Url tried to reason with the girl "I couldn't help it, no-one can too long! Surely you understand it! Can’t you forgive me? I love you, my princess!". Girl call him more ugly names and promised that he will be killed, when she told his crimes to her father.

John Carter looked the young couple, warm feelings filled his heart, when he look the cold rejection of the girl. Carter remembered how he'd also pissed off Dejah Thoris when they'd first met, and how hard it was for him to finally win her heart. Carter had no doubt that Url Web would finally win this girl's heart as well.

While looking the young couple, Carter thought how the matters of the heart on Barsoom haven't changed a bit after all. That was so wonderful to see, especially after just visiting the city of sadistic perverts.

Carter didn't realize that the things are not always as simple as they look.

E-mail comments to Timo Mantere at

A Step in Blood
Rod Hunsicker

She pushed open the unlocked door and rushed into the interior of the patchwork home. Behind her came Shera, her faithful slave and nurse, carrying her doctor's equipment in a shoulder bag. 

The rooms inside were dimly lit by a small radium lamp. Her tiny, well-shaped foot splashed in a puddle of blood as she dashed to the small cot where he lay. Gena Thal dropped to her knees by his bedside and nearly wept when she examined Fray.

He was unconscious. She steeled herself against tears and began to work on his terribly ravaged body. The enormous wound in his left breast required immediate attention. He had lost an incredible amount of blood. So much that he shouldn't be alive. In the past Martian year Gena Thal had completed her studies in Barsoomian medicine. The work over the next few hours was very difficult, but with the devoted aid of her more experienced nurse, she succeeded in keeping Fray alive.

The clear premonition that led her to his home kept ringing in the back of her mind as she worked, and remained when she was finished and looking down on his pale but living body.

He lay in a coma for almost a week. After this time he was no longer a stranger to Gena Thal or her nurse. Steadily, day by day, his breathing grew stronger and his face was restored to a pinker glow. Often she would sit and watch him. As his health returned she shifted her attention from his body to his mind. On the telepathic level that connects all creatures on Barsoom, she couldn't detect him, but on some other, new level, there was a shadow of contact that taunted her by remaining elusive and undefined. She stopped musing about it when he opened his eyes and looked at her.

"So, now you have saved me," he rasped. She laughed and gave him some water.

"You saved yourself. I concluded my medical training after we met. There is a great need for doctors on Barsoom. To repair sword wounds," she said. She examined him quickly and found his condition satisfactory. 

"No longer a need for a robe between us, Gena Thal. I fear you know all my secrets," he said with a smile.

"Well, I'd like to know about you, Fray. I don't think I've come close to it all, though," she replied.

"Maybe you know what's important, Gena," he said as he drifted off into sleep.

He stood by a great rock that served as one of several boundary marks around his garden. He was still weak from his wounds. One hand traced the bandage tape that served as a suture on his breast wound. The sun was hot and high in the sky. He took a few unsteady steps and knelt by one of his milk giving plants. 

"You have an interest in botany?" Gena Thal asked. He was not startled by her silent approach.

"I studied it for a century or two. My father was passionate about it and a boy likes to please his father. Have you noticed my garden? Most of my efforts have been toward the extraordinary milkplant that feeds the green men. Perfectly designed to feed a dying world. Too perfectly."

"Too perfectly?" she asked.

"There is no perfection in nature. It has always been the role of plants to feed animals. Sun to plant to animal. I wonder what agency produced this plant.. Natural or something else," mused Fray aloud.

"You sound like you think someone manufactured it."

Fray led her to a place in his garden where several plants were encased in glass. They were milkgivers and Gena Thal asked why they were separated.

"Part of my experiments. When I first arrived here I was naked and powerless. But not helpless. I witnessed some of the depredation executed by the green men on humans they had caught. Powerless, I could not help. Still, I could not tolerate such reprehensible behavior. I began to work on a plan to deal with the green Barsoomians.

"While I was working on this project I discovered the egg hatchery I showed you. Curious, I observed it for a few days until something wonderful happened. One of the eggs hatched and sprouted a small green child. The child was premature and not quite developed as most green children are upon hatching. I was at a loss as to what to do since no parents were available and the child would soon be eaten by some predator or starve to death on its own. In the interests of my studies I adopted the little green monster. Taking him home, it became apparent he liked the milk of the mantalia plant. He was an aggressive creature and very active. Still, I labored at impressing upon his mind instruction that I had received as a child. This seemed to slow him down a bit and he became more thoughtful. After several years of association he displayed remarkable humanlike traits. Compassion, trust, and civility marked how much he differed from his brothers.

"I called him Mac, after a friend of mine. I had grown very fond of the little fellow, but realized that his true destiny was to live with others of his kind. So I arranged for him to be picked up by a band of green warriors. He was hesitant about this, uncharacteristically fearful, yet equally eager to be among his own kind. I hid out of sight while Mac walked up to the small band of warriors. 

"How fine they looked in their ornaments and warriors' harnesses. They were surprised to see a lone green cub out in the wilderness. They questioned him, and Mac answered truthfully. When they learned he was an early hatchling, one of their number killed him with a single, mindless sword-stroke.

"You see, the green people have a rule that only eggs that hatch at a certain time are worthy to live. This rule is rigid. Mac had hatched early so he was unfit to live. As he died, I registered the hurt and amazement flooding his mind. I couldn't believe a species could be so cruel to its own kind. And so stupid not to recognize a viable member of their own race when they saw it. And I couldn't believe how stupid I was not to anticipate such a grave

"My weaponry was not strong enough to win against seven fully armed green warriors, and Mac was already dead, so I remained concealed. Later I buried Mac so the predators wouldn't get him.

"When the grief wore off I got mad. White hot mad. I returned to my labors. I needed a weapon to strike back at the green warriors. Not just the one who cut Mac down, but all of them.

"This," he said, waving his hand at the encased plants, "is the result of that labor. While I constructed the home base you see here, I also developed a weapon capable of destroying most if not all of the green race."

"What do you mean?"

"My observations have detailed the life cycle of the green men. I know they depend on this plant for nearly all their food. I thought at first to destroy the plant through disease, but that would only send the green giants on a rampage against the humans of this world. So I devised a virus that turns the
milk to poison. Any green man taking nourishment from my affected plants, like those you see in the glass cases, will die."

The red maiden was horrified by this repudiation of the ethics of her people. "Fray, this method of killing has no honor. It is monstrous."

"Fear not, Gena, I have not used it. I would not have you think of me as a monster," Fray said softly. He walked back to where she had found him and sat on the big rock, placing his hands on his knees.

"You've come a long way, Gena Thal. And you have done good work." 

"You mean saving you?"

"Well, sure, but I meant acquiring the ability to save me or others like me. I like to see positive growth like that."

"I'm glad I please you," she said demurely. An awkward moment of silence came between them. Fray locked his eyes on hers and let the silence grow. Again she tried to read his mind. When words could not cope most Barsoomians reached out telepathically. Some highly developed minds were difficult or impossible to read at the choice of the person, but usually there was something there to sense. Gena Thal had met John Carter a few times and had experienced first hand how blank he was to a Barsoomian telepath. Fray was like that, too. Or was he?

Now there was a glimmer of a mind linked to that masculine body. There was something she wanted to remember. What was it?

"You wonder how you knew to come to me. And how you knew where I was," Fray answered her unformed question.

She maintained her composure with difficulty. "Now that you mention it, I do wonder. Usually, I don't have trouble remembering things." 

"I might be able to explain some things to you, but I think its better if things work out by themselves," Fray said with a smile.

Gena Thal turned on her toes and faced away from Fray toward his patchwork house. Her nearly naked body had matured since he had last saw her. Where once she had a girlish plumpness her thighs and buttocks were streamlined into appealing feminine curves. She stood with a slight twist to her hips unconsciously assuming a seductive posture. Again Fray felt his masculinity rise within him and is was apparent on his face when she pivoted
toward him suddenly. Instead of commenting on his open desire, Gena Thal changed the subject with feminine grace.

"Where are you from, Fray? You never really told me," she asked. She sat on a small rock and perched her chin on her clasped hands. "Is it a secret of some sort?"

Fray frowned at her mercurial moods and then laughed. "Not really a secret. It's just that I was taught not to tell more than necessary."

"That sounds like military training. A very common vocation on Barsoom," she said with a trace of disappointment.

"Yes," Fray agreed, " it is. I was a soldier recently. My people were attacked by a terrible enemy. Soldiers were needed. I have been many other things in my life. Botanist, biologist, historian, athlete -- among others. Our lives are longer than those of most people."

"It seems only soldiers come to Barsoom from outside," she said. "The stories of two other soldiers, men of Jasoom, are well known to all the people of Helium."

"My story is not unlike theirs. One mistake in tactics left me vulnerable to a horde of the enemy's killers. I was severely wounded and left for dead. Up in the dark sky I saw the Red Planet: Barsoom. It opened its arms to me and I came. My body was reborn, healthy and strong, in a new world. A chance for survival. Had I not come, I would have perished," explained Fray.

"What were your people like?" she asked.

"Prosperous, happy, content with our lives. A rich history of arts, science and humanities. Some might call our civilization an utopia. We learned power through control. Control of our minds and bodies. Control of our behavior. Individual control based on ethical principles shared by most if not all of our people," said Fray. 

He tilted his head back and lingered on old memories. His body relaxed, almost sagging with weariness. His home was so far away that the memory of it was painful. Gena Thal sensed his pain and placed her hand on his shoulder.

"Sounds like paradise," she said sympathetically.

"Paradise lost," he said with a wry smile. "It is true that things cannot stay good forever. Neither should they stay bad forever. My people work to make things better. Our enemy wanted to destroy us because we were different from them. Even in war, we tried to find way to make positives out of the negative. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case on Barsoom. I am curious to know why," said Fray.

"We can't get ahead. We can barely stay alive. Fighting is all we know. It has been explained to us that it is the best way to live in the harsh environment of Barsoom. And the green men are always there to emphasize the point."

Fray lifted his head suddenly, his weariness a thing of the past. Reacting to his alarm, Gena Thal searched about her for danger and saw a half dozen mounted green warriors on a nearby hill. The green men handled their rifles with the intent to use them, following the example of their leader who pointed to Fray and Gena Thal with his barrel.

"See what I mean," Gena Thal gasped. "Hurry, we have to get to weapons and cover."

Fray held her in a loose grip. "Go inside and get my long sword."

"What can a long sword do against their rifles? Even if they meet you with swords, they are six and you are one."

"Get the sword, please."

"Fray, are you tired of life? Those creatures are the best killers in the universe. It's all they live for. We must defend ourselves properly," she insisted. The green men had started down the hill toward Fray's little home. They advanced at a leisurely pace, content that they were more than a match for any of the humans below. 

"Frankly, Gena, it's all any of you live for. I live for more. Go get my sword, " he commanded, "Now!" Years of obedience to the warrior males of her kind impelled Gena Thal to obey this man who she accepted as a friend and protector. She ran into the patchwork house to get his sword.

Fray walked toward the green men. His keen eyes identified their tribe and clan from their harnesses. He scanned them telepathically and smiled. He took off the soft robe he had twisted around his loins and was naked when Gena Thal came out with his weapon. Nakedness was nothing unusual on Barsoom so the red girl hardly noticed. He took his sword from her and walked out the meet the green warriors.

The two parties came together where the hill joined the level ground. The green men on their mounts towered over the pale human. They laughed when they saw him hold his sword loosely in his right hand. One of them raised his rifle to shoot Fray in the leg just to see him hit the ground.

"Kaor, I am Fray, conqueror of Quator Dot. Do you challenge me?" Fray said slowly, ignoring the raised rifle.

The leader of the group lifted his hand to halt the others. He stared at Fray with menacing eyes and laughed harshly as all his kind do.

"You have not yet recovered from the wounds that Quator Dot dealt you, though that is no reason to not kill you. I would like to kill you very much, little man. Split your head with my sword and watch your brains dribble out," said the giant green man. He dismounted and stalked closer to Fray and pulled out his sword. Fray's sword lifted in his hand as he assumed a defensive posture.

Twenty yards away, Gena Thal, listening to the exchange, grew horrified at the thought of Fray fighting this monstrous brute in his weakened condition. In desperation her mind reached out to him and, failing to reach him on the broad telepathic carrier wave that unites all Barsoomians, she tried to 'see' him as she had almost done before. There was a brittle moment when she saw him turn and smile at her even though she knew that he had not actually done so. The moment was so strange that she forgot the terrifying reality of the situation and laughed when this odd Fray winked . Then the moment was gone. The green man's voice boomed loudly in her ears.

"I am Minoat Zem, a man who will someday be a chieftain of the Yantak horde of the Thark nation. I recognize you as one who is protected by the chieftains of my horde for reasons of their own. I saw your fight with Quator Dot and acknowledge you as a great fighter. Since that day, we have been ordered to find your resting place and I have done so now. We will not fight today, Fray Dot, but I have hope that one day I may gain fame by running my blade through your heart." So spoke the green man.

"Then we have no further business today."

"Not today," laughed the Thark. He returned to his thoat and mounted. He and his small band rode away.

Fray stood erect until they had melted away in the landscape. By then Gena Thal stood beside him. She squeezed his shoulder. 

"What was all that about?" she asked.

Briefly he explained about his duel with Quator Dot. She stared at him incredulously. "Why would you do something like that?" she asked.

"Several reasons. Sooner or later the green men would have found my home and that would have led to unfortunate conflict. Gator Nel interested me. I saw potential in him to be more than the typical green warrior, so I wanted to influence him away from the barbaric ways of his people. For both of these reasons I had to gain the respect of the local Thark community. Slaying their champion fit the bill, though I had not thought it would be so difficult. Now I have a temporary impasse with the green people because they are uncertain what to do about me and so leave me alone. At least for now," Fray explained.

"And there are other reasons. Foremost is my study of the green man mentality. I had to feel, experience what it is to be a green man. During the duel I merged what they are with what I am to greater understand them, and to illustrate to Gator Nel what he might become.

"And in a final note, I sort of enjoyed the combat. It might have been the closest fight I've ever been in. Exciting," admitted Fray, "But that reason would not have been enough. To do something so significant, one must have several good reasons."

Gena Thal remained incredulous. "How did you know things would work out?"

"Telepathically I monitored their reactions to every move I made. Their minds are violent and simple. The only thing in question was the actual duel. Of course that was the most exciting part. Telepathy is more than simple communication, Gena, as I believe you are learning," said Fray.

Shaking her head, Gena Thal tossed her black hair. The strange telepathic vision that had led her to Fray was partially explained. "I may be learning something, Fray, but I'm very confused as well. You are not like the men of Helium."

"No, I am not. I trust Gena Thal of Helium can have friends that are not of Helium," he said with a smile.

"Of course," she retorted. "I am not a slave. I can pick anyone I want as my friend."

"Then, it shall always remain my wish that we be friends," said Fray.

And nothing more, she thought. No words of love or commitment. She had waited a long time for a man to name her his princess. Was this the man?

Fray pointed to the mantalia plants encased in glass. "It was because of Mac that those plants remain no danger to the green men. I realized that if he could develop positive traits, then others could too.

He dropped his eyes from hers. "I must be honest with you, Gena," he confessed. "There was another reason I dueled. The mindless warrior who cut down Mac was called Quater Dot." 

Gena Thal repressed a smile. There was a motive a red girl could understand. 


Copyright 1997, Rod Hunsicker 
Send comments to 

Listen to the Podcasts of Elmo's Dateline Jasoom via the vast Gridley Wave Network.
Visit for directions on tuning in your Gridley Wave antennae.
The show is podcast every two weeks and features
a full 15 minutes of news, zaniness, music, and interviews with ERB-world personalities --
all beamed directly from Elmo's state-of-the-art GWN studios on Barsoom..

Jeff Long's Barsoomian Blade & Panthan Press Features in ERBzine
Blade 1 | Blade 2 | Blade 3 | Blade 4 | Blade 5 | Blade Fiction 1 | Fiction 2 | Fiction 3 | Fiction 4
Princess of Jasoom | Princess 1 | Princess 2 | Princess 3 | Princess 4 | Princess 5 |

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2010/2017 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
All Panthan Press and Barsoomian Blade Material Copyright 1998/2006 by Jeff Long
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.