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Volume 2165

by: Rick Johnson
This story occurs after Meeting of the Panthans-Part 2 and before Convention and focuses on Eibhlin’s last months on Barsoom before she returned to Earth.

The entire Eibhlin on Mars series so far consists of: Panthan of Mars, Meeting of the Panthans-Part 1 and Part 2 and  The Battle at U-Gor to conclude with Convention.  There is that two-year gap between Panthan on Mars and Meeting of the Panthans that remains unknown.



Eibhlin looked at the map as the flier approached the southern lands.  The Empire of Ptarth was one of the few super-powers on Barsoom.  She controlled three artic ice-stations and a number of the waterways that stretched south to the Phundahl Hills, owning much of the area between the Artolian Hills on the west and the Dead Throxeus Seabed on the East.  She even had two of the rare waterways that originated from the Southern Icecap, those these were dry much of the year as the Southern icecap retreated beyond the melting-pumping stations.  To circumnavigate Barsoom, one crossed Ptarth.  Surrounded by hills and the dead seabed, Ptarth had been nearly immune to any land attack and was able to achieve power long before aviation made them vulnerable.

Currently they were flying south along the easternmost of the southern waterway, stopping at night for supplies and rest for their mission was not one of haste but precision and that required that all the warriors be well-rested.

Moving to the other map, she noted that they would have to skirt the Otz Mountains then cross nearly a third of the planet to reach Kobol.  No, not quite a third for at that low latitude, the map was deceptive.  Still, there was a bloody huge desert to cross, a desert that not even the Green Men chose to inhabit.  A straight flight would have been faster, but that would force them to cross the Koalian Forest  and Koal was jealous of her territory.  Still, three years earlier she had arrived in that forest and she’d have liked to see it from the air instead from under the watchful eyes of hopeful predators.

They landed at a farm roughly twenty-five degrees south and disembarked for the night. Korad lying some 2600 miles east.  By thoat, through the northern tip of the Great Desert, it would take some 80-90 days but by flyer, even one as old and poorly maintained as this one, the flight was still near two days.  Then she would see her new employer.

She had served Farran Koff, Odwar in the Navy of Ptarth for some two years or so (she still had trouble with the Barsoomian Year which was far longer than her native Earth Year) then, suddenly, disaster.  She had rescued Para Far from the Iss, returned her in safety to her father and received the honors she deserved…. Until Para Far had told the wrong people what had really happened.  Her threatening to feed Para Far to the silians, the Earthman, North’s seduction of her while she, Eibhlin, was otherwise occupied with her niece and that nerdy Earth scientist who thought Barsoom was a grand adventure.  And her releasing alive the Heliumite fop with whom Para Far had run off was just another nail in her professional coffin. 

The last interview went better than expected.  “Avleen Oobreen,” he said, still unable to pronounce her Irish name of Eibhlin Ui Bhrian properly.  You are one of my best warriors despite your lack of skill with a sword.  You alone have never failed me.  I understand your threatening my daughter’s life when she called you a moorouk.  I’ve often felt like doing the same to her. But, I needed that fop killed, quietly, to save me from embarrassment.  To allow the …’affair’ (he spat the word) to continue under your eyes was unforgivable.  Especially when witnessed by other people, including those Jasoomians.  I understand how you Weir need … sex… often or you die but my daughter’s virtue is as important to me as is her life.  And to be shamed by allowing them to … rut in front of witnesses….”  He stood, poured a drink and pointedly NOT offering her a glass, and continued.  “Then that Jasoomian!”  the man actually shuddered she noticed.  Why would he feel that way when the Prince of Amhor, Vad Varo, and the Warlord of Barsoom, John Carter, are both from Earth? 

Ok, that was her fault she admitted.  They thought North was under control.  He had been warned by herself, her niece Janice and even Kara to keep his .. member to himself.  Then while relaxing after a long trip north they paused in a small city that was, it appears, at odds with Ptarth.  While the two Weir were having fun and giving Steve a well-earned fantasy, North took the opportunity to seduce Para Far.  Not that she required much in the way of seduction, Eibhlin thought, that woman would mate with a thoat if it would embarrass her Odwar father.  Then the stupid girl actually bragged about her affairs.  The word got out and people who wished to embarrass the Jeddak of Ptarth used that information to do exactly that.  In fact, the only part of the mission that went well was bringing the girl home alive.  Now she sat there, her tail curled and twitching in nervousness, waiting. She wasn’t afraid of being executed... much.  Red Men were terrible shots with a firearm despite the thermo-nuclear rounds they used.  And in close quarters, her greater strength and longer curved sword was more dangerous than the Red Man’s shorter blade.  Plus she could always cut her attackers down like wheat with her beamer.  Still…

He sighed, then continued, “Panthan Avleen Oobreen, your services to the Jeddakate of Ptarth are no longer needed.” He then held his hand out as she removed from her leather harness the devices of Ptarth and the House of Far and returned them to her former employer.

Then, sighing again, he continued, “You’ve always been  a good soldier, rarely flaunting your noble rank, never complaining about the tasks we gave you and always succeeding.  So in remembrance of this, I will give you this last gift.  The Jed of Kobol is hiring Panthans for a dangerous mission into the Jeddakate of Jahar.  The pay is good and it will get you away from Ptarth and the gorthans who my daughter has been courting recently.  The flier leaves tonight and I will give you an escort to the flier in the hopes that my warriors can deter any possible assassin long enough for you to get away.  Dismissed.”

She expected him to turn away but he stared, unsmiling which, she supposed, was something of respect for her.

As she left, she saw two of the three Therns she served with waiting.  “Hail Avleen Oobreen,” Lakon called.  “It seems we travel together once again.”  The man was actually smiling.  For a man who a brief century ago had been seen as a god by the people of Barsoom as well as by himself, his reduced status as a common mercenary bothered him not at all.  His friend, Omal, was, as usual, quiet.  Omal actually resented his loss of status.  John Carter had destroyed the Thern religion and empire for no other reason than to rescue his wife.  Eibhlin hoped that the woman appreciated such love.  Since then, many of the Therns, white men who were totally bald and wore a blonde wig, though some had taken to coloring theirs black, had become Panthans, mercenaries, soldiers of fortune.

“You too?” Eibhlin asked.

“Well, I’m bored with Ptarth and need to see more of Barsoom.  After 500 years as a God being trapped in Heaven with naught but the most beautiful women on the planet as my playthings, being mortal is not easy.  But, the hardest part is the constant staring!  You are so fortunate to be able to walk around with such total anonymity, avoiding the stares of the people as you pass.  See!  Even now they stare at me.”  Eibhlin laughed at the man for his pleasant attitude.  Yes, he had white skin in a world of coppery-reds.  He was bald and wore a blonde wig dyed black in a world of wavy black hair. And the people they passed had some who still revered him as a god, others reviled him as a cannibal and a fraud who was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents.  But most just thought he was a man with a strange skin color.

Those who saw past the Therns saw a white woman with straight black hair, uncommonly braided, pointed ears, antennae, cat-eyes, two thumbs, ape-like feet, larger breasts than any flat-chested Red Woman could possess and a long prehensile tail who carried the weapons of a man.  No, Eibhlin thought, no one ever stared at her.

“What do you know about this Kobol?” she asked.

“Not much,” he replied.  “It’s southeast of the Koal Forest on one of the waterways that stretch from Koal to Jahar.  It was once a part of Jahar then after that war it is said to belong to Helium though I think that after being sacked by Pankor with no aid from Helium, that may not be true, at least no longer.  It lies on the highlands so is arid but not fully desert. Han Kosal is the Jed though some say he is a madman with delusions of empire.”

“Wonderful, we now work for a megalomaniac who resents his former subjectation and wishes to conquer his former lords.  Can this day get any better?” she asked with some sarcasm.

“He likes women, at least exotic women so you may find better employment in the palace.”  This from Omal who was still upset that she had repeatedly rebuffed his attentions.  Despite the century that separated them from their past, many Therns still saw women of any race as mere playthings.  A body to be used, abused and cast aside or killed and consumed when they were bored with them.  Both had expressed their interest in Eibhlin simply because after centuries of absolute freedom with the ‘lower orders’, they got bored with normal sex and needed … ‘more’ to provide the excitement they craved.  And Eibhlin was exotic enough to provide that.   Fortunately for her, she was almost four times as strong as any human on Barsoom and both were smart enough to not draw steel on her for fear of execution by the Jeddak.  Dueling was legal on Barsoom, but murder was not. Especially when the attempted murder followed attempted rape.  Although as a Weir, Eibhlin needed sex monthly or she would die, she preferred the attentions of a hired slave to the complications of bedding a co-soldier.  At least the slave left when done as was smart enough to not brag about his acts.

The thing that surprised her most was that they reached the flyer, an ancient hulk that should have been retired centuries ago, without incident.  She knew that Para Far wanted her dead and was hiring Gorthans, or trying to hire them to kill Eibhlin but none appeared.  Possibly her Thern escorts deterred the assassin for who would face a couple near gods who were among the best swordsmen on the planet AND an alien who could crush the assassin’s neck with a single grasp?

The flier was required to land at the edge of the farmlands and the Ptarth Noble who was in charge of this section of the waterway made certain that there were plenty of his own guards around.  Although she had served Ptarth for some years, she was never trusted for a Panthan changed their metal with the winds of fortune and she was no longer of Ptarth.  Still, Eibhlin wandered around for she was bored.

The waterway itself was a huge pipe buried deep in the ground.  This one came from the south so the water brought from the southern ice cap was seasonal and when it flowed, much of it was stored in buried tanks.  The northern waterways also stored water but their flow was constant so droughts were rare up north.  Also the northern waterways had croplands that stretched for a dozen miles into the deserts, here they were only a few miles out and produced a poor yield.  Eibhlin had the urge to ask the Noble who he had angered to be sent here. 

Climbing a watch tower, she looked over the area.  Far to the East were two more waterways, but independent of Ptarth, then hundreds of miles east the Iss River that she had so recently traversed in search of Para Far.  But between here and Kobol was the Great Desert.  This part was the High Desert and not as bad as the Low Desert but still, it made the California Death Valley she had crossed once by car look like a paradise.  She stared a bit, thinking of her lost life in Ptarth then that made her think of her lost life in California which made her think of her lost life in Ireland and then, depressed, she didn’t argue when the Watch told her to leave the tower.  Drink!  Yes, she needed to get drunk.  Drown her thoughts in an alcoholic daze.

Seeking an eating establishment, for this place had one in a futile attempt to mimic civilization, she ordered wine and as the Barsoomian vintage ate its way through her guts, she began to talk. 


She awoke in a blanket, naked, with Omal lying naked nearby, his sword within reach.  Panicking, she moved away as quietly as possible, then checked herself as she heard a voice, “I didn’t rape you last night though I wanted to.  Frankly, Avleen Oobreen, you should consider giving up drink.”

“Why didn’t you?” she asked, not believing him.

“Because between what you puked and shat, even I didn’t want you, much less that slave-girl you tried to rent for the night.  She chose a beating from her owner to an evening with you.”  He tossed her some cleaning cloths and soap, “Clean up, especially your breath, we leave in an hour.”

He dressed as he walked away, sheathing his sword as she called, “Thank you for guarding me last night.  I owe you.”

“And I shall someday collect,” he laughed back.

Cleaning, she again resolved to stop drinking.  Especially the Barsoomian wine that ran through her like acid and gave her loose green stools.  By the time she was clean enough to be around people again, the flier was ready to lift off and the sniffing of her fellow mercenaries told her that she’d need a better washing.  The problem was that the Red Man never sweated.  They had some other method of cooling that wasn’t the same as humans so when she sweated in the heat, everyone around her knew and moved as far away as was possible.  She may be invisible to the Barsoomian telepathy but anyone with a nose could easily detect her on a hot day at a dozen paces.

It was about 400 miles to the next waterway, one unfriendly to Ptarth and whose relations to Kobol were unknown.  And a few miles past that was another, also unknown.  But fortunately their tanks were full so there was no need to land and choosing a part of the farmland that seemed to be nearly uninhabited, at least the crops were poor and ill-attended, they flew over it as fast and high as was possible.  Eibhlin passed out quickly and was revived only after they lowered to a safer height.  Even then the pilot complained about ‘those Jasoomians and their tiny lungs that forced him to fly so low a Banth could leap aboard’  though all knew he was more worried about the Green Hoards.

“I don’t know why,” she panted, trying to breathe again.  “The Huntdoon are northeast, closer to the Koal Forest, the Warhoon far west and no one lives in this miserable desert.”

“It’s still a worry,” one of the other Panthans offered.  We’ve all fought the Green Men, even you Avleen Oobreen.”

“True, when I first arrived I fought and killed two who had captured and tortured two of my dearest friends.  I’ve also fought their alien relatives who make yours seem like a sorak by comparison.  Still, I wish we could avoid contact.”

“What scares me,” one Red Man offered, “is the Iss.  We cross it in 2700 haads.”

“Why worry about that?  It’s just a river,” another countered.

“Because it’s holy!”

“No longer!”  and soon an argument broke out between those who still believed and those who had listened to John Carter.  Just before swords were to be drawn, Omal and Lakon arrived.  Though neither had rank, both had influence for a hundred thousand years of being gods was important to a world that thrived on tradition.  Neither said nothing but their presence stilled the fight before steel could be drawn.  Then Eibhlin said, “we have some ten hours of flight before we must fear either way.  For me, I’d like to get some sleep.”

“And a bath,” whispered another.  Eibhlin shot him a dirty look but could not argue though she did go on deck with her blanket where the air was less confined than below. 

She was awakened by a light prod of a lance-butt driven by a man easily out of her reach for all knew of her temper.  She was the only woman in the company, one of the few females who took up the sword and the only alien that many had ever known personally so few knew her real abilities other than she was unbelievably fast and strong.  “What do you?” she demanded.

“The pilot wishes you afore.  He knows that you have been down the Iss and wishes your advice.”

Nodding, she rolled her blanket and adjusted the silk covering her breasts, for since separating from her niece-lover, Janice, Eibhlin had returned to her habit of covering her chest.  She adjusted her all-too short skirt, wishing her could wear a longer one or even pants, then went forward to find the two Therns there already.  “What do you wish?” she asked the pilot, noticing that they were stopped and floating some distance from the Iss.

“Have you any opinion, lady Panthan?”  he asked.

“From this distance and height, it’s difficult to say.  When I looked at the charts, that crater valley to the right may be the one I entered seeking Para Far. It’s filled with savages that turned away from the pilgrimage and went mad.  My flier was shot down by Green Men some 1900 haads north of here and this section I followed on a captured thoat with no problems.”

Lakon added, “I have no opinion for I never left Dor until … the Warlord forced us into other occupations.”  For all his good nature, it was clear that Lakon resented John Carter and would avoid using the name of his bitterest enemy.

Omal added, “I patrolled the Iss often, adding stores and canoes to the way-houses along the Iss.  Some of my fellows still do so and they are well armed.  If we meet a Thern flier, can this ship fight a dozen Therns, even with the help of we three?”

The Dwar from Kobol who had hired the Panthans thought for a moment, “Unlike much of Barsoom, we of Kobol are undecided as to the divinity of the Therns.  We were tributary of Jahar then of Helium then sacked by Pankor and during those times, our faith was often the only thing that kept us fighting.  I would rather not meet with those many of us still revere.” He tried to avoid the glance of the two ‘gods’ standing next to him.

“Then we wait.” The pilot instructed. “We go back until we are at a safe distance and wait until dark. Then when neither moon is in the sky, we run and hope we are unseen.”  And with that, the flier turned and flew west for a distance until the pilot settled into a crater which would hide them from casual observation.

When settled, the Dwar called out, “Listen to me!  We remain here until sunset in about four zodes.  Then we load and run across the Iss.  Stretch, feed the thoats, relax and don’t get lost.”

This was met with some light cheers for being cramped in  the belly of a flier with a bunch of thoats and a smelly woman you couldn’t touch made everyone on edge and soon the flier was emptied with some setting silk for sun-shades, others wiping down their eight-legged thoats and still others establishing sentries along the crater rim.  Eibhlin was one of these as Red Men are poor climbers and as she headed to the western edge, she became lost in her thoughts and it was the water she stepped in that awakened her.  Water!  They were miles from the Iss but this deep crater with its thick moss was apparently a water collection similar to many along the River.  She moved around, feeling the water pressed from the moss as if she were walking on wet sponges, enjoying the sensation as she removed her sandals and walked bare of foot.  To the right was a darker red and a lot of mantilla, that life-giving plant that fed anyone who know its secret.  Approaching, soon found a seep where she moved some rocks to create a hold for a pool and as it slowly filled, she climbed to the rim, looked around for any movement and finding none, returned to the floor to find her pool now filled with clear water. 

She glanced around, saw she was alone and that the rocks hid her from the nearby flier and so undressed and with sword nearby, relaxed in the water, the sunlight warming her body above, the water her body below.  Taking some sand, she scrubbed herself clean then closed her eyes and soon was asleep.

“Avleen Oobreen!” the voice called her to wakefulness.  She saw Omal watching intently with dagger in hand.  Shit!, she thought, he’s going to try to rape me and she slowly edged her hand to her sword.  Then he threw his dagger and she rolled to grab and draw her sword, only to find him standing there, ignoring her as he stared beyond.

She saw a ten-legged snake, one of the venomous reptiles of the desert, pinned to the ground with Omal’s dagger.  “You really should be more careful,” he commented as he retrieved his dagger.  Then, watching her naked body as he cleaned the blade on the moss, added, “You are very beautiful, in an exotic way.”  And as she covered her breasts and loins with her hands, added, “You now owe me twice,” and walked away.

“Damn!” she thought as she tossed the snake aside and settled back into her water, “Had he not added that last, I might begin to like him.”  Omal looked at her like she was meat though most Red Men found her to be deformed.  They easily overlooked her tail, hands and feet and even her antennae and ears but her banth-like blue eyes, un-Barsoomian straight hair and large breasts bothered them a lot.  Still, Omal had been a god for centuries, doing anything he wished to any girl who survived a day in Dor ignoring her cries for mercy.  How many centuries before you loose every inhibition you had?  How many sexual acts can you perform and how many partners, willing and unwilling, before normal sex with normal women became dull and unexciting?  How many perversions does a god practice on unwilling virgins and how much worse do these perversion become over the centuries?  And how long before you accept the perverse as normal?  She had no desire to find out and determined to sleep with naked dagger.

She returned to find dinner ready, cooked over a radium stove that required no firewood or moss to heat their meal.  Eibhlin would have preferred a meal cooked over an honest fire but the Dwar refused, fearing smoke would reveal them to any potential enemies, Green, Red or White.  As they sat around, eating, they did what soldiers do on any planet and time, they talked about their past, dreamt about their future and lied about their abilities.

As always, the stranger you were, the more curious people became and few were stranger than Eibhlin. 

“Tell us of your past,” the Captain asked.  Half the others groaned and turned away, having heard that story before far too many times.

Sighing, Eibhlin sipped her mantilla milk and began, “I am Eibhlin Inghean Ui Bhrian, not Avleen Oobreen and I was a Princess of Ulster in Ireland on Jasoom.  But my nation was conquered, my mother sold into slavery, my father hanged and my home burned.  I fought back as best I could but eventually lost and was .. killed.”  She avoided describing her gang rape at the hands of the British soldiers as too unpleasant.  “Then as I lay dieing, the Demons, a race of six-limbed reptiles, found me, repaired my wounds, gave me life and changed me into this.  They needed a slave to repair their ship and so I served them for a few years until I was released with a starship of my own.  Unable to return home, I became a Mercenary among the stars just as I am a Panthan here.

“My lover left me and yes, I take female lovers as you take wives, and I chose to come here by starship and see your world.  Unfortunately, I found a stargate, a wormhole or doorway in the fabric of time and space, and appeared in the Koal Forest, naked with naught but my blade and beamer.  Since then I have done what I can to survive until I can find another stargate to go back or until my ship arrives.”  She had built a mayday beacon in Ptarth and was basically killing time until her ship detected the beacon and answered.  She had killed three years so far.

The Dwar continued, “So Lady Avleen, Avleen, I cannot pronounce your name as do you, You came from Jasoom as did John Carter and Vad Varo and a number of others?”

“So it appears.”

“Did they come as did you?  These ‘stargates’ as you call them?”

“I know not, never having met either.  But from what I heard, it sounds so.  But my nephew came here by a Jasoomian teleporter built by their scientists so I imagine that there are many ways to arrive.”

“And, Princess, can we find or build these gates or machines and travel to Jasoom or other worlds?”

“Perhaps, though my nephew tells me that after consulting with the Mad Surgeon Ras Thavas, no Barsoomian can survive for long on Jasoom for the gravity will snap your bones and burst your heart.”

“Pity.” He sighed.  “I’ve seen the world through our telescopes and it seems beautiful, though now dead of human life.  Were we able to live there, we could abandon this dying planet for your living one.”

Then he turned to others and asked them their lives.  Jason would have seen that as a challenge, a problem to solve. How to adapt the Barsoomian to live on Earth. Eibhlin never saw the problem as worthy of interest. But then that man was infuriating in his curiosity and questioned everything from her sex life to the reproduction of moss to how some stars could be turned to a supernova and others returned to g-type status.  Eibhlin was more interested in just staying alive and enjoying the centuries the Demons had given her.

“I was an impoverished noble whose family angered my Jed so was stripped of our wealth and cast out.” One answered.

“I am a warrior and with my nation at peace…”

“I got bored and sought adventure…”

“Gorthan assassins killed my family and so I travel to forget…”  The stories were similar or different but all implied a people with a past they wished to forget and no real hope for a future.  Then he turned to the two Therns.

“Lakon, Omal, your stories if you please.”

“What is to say.” Lakon started as Omal sulked.  “We are from the Valley of Dor and were as Gods with nothing to fear save the Black Pirates who raided us often. As you thought we were Gods in Heaven, we thought the Black Pirates were devils from the further moon.  And upon their attacks we honed our skill with the sword.  Then when… We should have killed the Princess of Helium though had we, the Warlord would have cut us all down.  Instead in his effort to rescue his Princess, he destroyed our religion, killed our Goddess and destroyed our lives.

“A few remain in Dor, seeking to live as mortals.  Others attempt to rebuild our faith among those Red Men who still believe but some of us, plagued by memory or the past, wander.  Some to atone for our crimes, some to seek a faith that is destroyed, some just… I know naught.  But we are here and the past is dead and gone.”

One Panthan asked, “Lakon, I heard that Therns consume human flesh as if it were thoat meat, is this true?”

Without pausing in his meal of thoat, Lakon commented, almost smiling, “You eat the flesh of the lower orders as did we.”

“Men are men!” one demanded.

“But we were Gods!  And the rules of mortal men were not for us.  We did as we pleased, with whomever we chose and only Iss herself could demand ought from us.”  Omal countered.

“And my wife,” one of the newer Panthans snapped. “She took the Pilgrimage to Dor.  Was she one of your playthings?  Did you kill and eat her too!”  he was no longer asking but demanding.

“I know not.  We asked not their names or cities and over the centuries there were so many, I remember only a few.”

“Then die as did my wife!” and the Red Man drew steel.

“Stand!” the Dwar ordered but received an oath in reply.  Lakon stated calmly, “Sheath or die, no mortal can stand against a God.”

The Panthan refused and struck a blow that Omal easily deflected.  Then the fight began in earnest, all save Lakon making a ring to watch for those from Ptarth who had served with the Therns knew how good with a blade they were.  Few survived in their profession unless they were very good with a sword but it soon became clear that Omal was toying with the Red Man.  Savage thrusts and cuts were easily stopped, to be repaid with a swift jab or slice and soon the Red Man was bleeding from a dozen or more places.  Lakon called out with infinite calmness, “Stand down lest the banths smell your blood and finish you before Omal does.”

The Red Man swore again and putting all his strength into one savage cut, struck the ground as Omal casually walked past him, cleaning the blade that few saw kill his opponent.

The Dwar looked at the body and the Thern, astonished at how easily Omal could have killed his man at any time, then sighing, “He ignored my order to stand down.  Had he lived, I would have flogged him myself for that refusal.  NO ONE disobeys my orders, not even you two!  Now pack up, it grows dark and we must be ready to cross thee Iss within the Zode.”

The flier flew to the Iss, then jumped forward as the pilot threw all in an effort to cross the Sacred River as fast as was possible.  Firearms were denied Pilgrims and Custom prevented the colonization of that rare source of life-giving water but there were potential threats.  Therns patrolling the river, seeking to rebuild their discredited religion and thus kill any they saw as apostate.  Green Men raiding from the Great Desert and even the few Lost Cities that thrived in the stories of the Panthans though none save Eibhlin had seen any.

But the River was crossed without incident and the flier slowed to conserve power and rest the engines for they still had seven thousand haads or 2600 miles of desert to cross before they reached Kobol.  And so they flew on at a speed of over a hundred miles an hour.  Eibhlin napped, expecting the trip to take a day then she awoke and heard, “look, the Moons are directly abeam and not fore and aft. We’ve changed course.”

Their Dwar entered and was asked, “Captain, why the course change?”

“We’ve received a wireless message from the Jed of Kobol. We are to go directly to the Fortress of Jhama and seek that of value to Kobol.  You will be told more when we arrive.”

“Jhama,” one said.  “That was where Tul Axter, Jeddak of Jahar banished Phor Tak when he refused to give the Jeddak his secrets.”

“No,” another countered, “That was a fortress on the edge of Jahar when Tul Axter sought to conquer the Great Desert.  All within died and only Phor Tak chose to brave the ghosts and Corphals that haunt the place when he fled the Jeddak’s wrath.”

The arguments went on as Eibhlin sought another place to sleep.  She had been in enough wars and battles in Ireland, on Mon and Vanthi and even Kris worlds and upon Barsoom to know that worrying about the future was useless.  No matter what they told you, the reality would be worse so rest now for you won’t get any when all Hell breaks free.


They flew through the night and then the day, the sun heating the flier which flew low only because the captain hated to loose his strongest warrior to death by thin air.  Fortunately, there were no Green Hoards in the Great Desert, at least none that were known to exist, so they feared nothing save a wandering patrol form Tjanath or Jahar, neither of which appeared.  As always, war was unending boredom followed by brief moments of activity and terror.  This was the boredom and the longer they were bored, the greater would be the terror at the end.

Then just before the sun set, the flier landed in a valley as the dwar called them to orders.  “Exercise and rest the thoat and yourselves.  Eat well and sleep deep for tomorrow we attack the fortress of Jhama.  I expect no resistance which means that we can expect to have to work for our prize.”  The men laughed at this for military intelligence on any world was a misnomer.

“We are looking for anything that is useful to our Jed.  We know that Phor Tak who once owned this place was a military genius and so touch nothing until I have cleared it as safe.  The slightest object of art could be a bomb and I’ve already lost one man.  Dismissed.”

Eibhlin looked around but there was no water in this valley so she found a place where she could lay her bedroll, stretched her cramped muscles and after ensuring that her blade was convenient, fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Something struck her and she awoke with an oath to find one of the men tossing pebbles at her while calling her name.  It wasn’t safe to shake awake a man who lived by the sword.  They may just kill you in their sleep. So grumbling, she rolled over, sheathed her blade, washed with a damp cloth for water in the desert was too valuable for more, then adjusted her silks over her breasts and loins, her harness for her weapons and braided her hair as she waited for breakfast.  At least they didn’t ask her to cook.  Not after that one time when she ruined the meal because her earthly body couldn’t tolerate much of the foods and spices common on Barsoom, so the meal she cooked was bland and almost impossible to eat.  Some of the men watched her braiding because Red Women let their wavy hair grow free to their waists and Eibhlin had to grow hers long in deference to custom.  But she braided it to keep it out of the way, an event that caused no end of entertainment for her fellows.  At least it stopped them from staring at her chest which they all found to be disgusting, especially after she told them what human breasts were for.

Soon, their meals were done, the thoats saddled and the Dwar showing them their plans upon a well-drawn map.  “We will land here at dawn, in the military square and not on the roof as do other fliers.  Yes, it will expose us to fire from the surrounding buildings but we cannot ride thoats down the ramps from the hangers.  As soon as we land, disembark fast to your positions.  Squad One to this building, Two to this, Three to this and Four to here.  As soon as you are off, the flier will rise to this position and drop Squad Five by lines to here and here while the riflemen cover from above.  Kill only in self defense.  Take prisoners but treat them well for I’d rather they helped us from kindness than torture.  Since the War with Helium, no one has bothered to enforce claim to this fortress so if we can get in and out with a minimum of violence, we won’t have to run from Jahar or Tjanath forces.

The plan actually worked!  Eibhlin was expecting the inhabitants to resist and fight back and house-to house fighting where the defenders knew every wall and hiding-hole would be expensive and hard.  But they landed, offloaded the thoats fast, Eibhlin, being infantry, was out and against a wall long before the thoats were off and mounted.  She looked around with naked sword and saw a couple slaves watching her, concerned but not terrified.  Placing her finger to her lips to caution silence, she motioned for them to move which they did and she ran for the doorway and burst through to find herself in a laundry with leathers hanging to dry.  Weapons of a sort were in racks and the slaves working looked, started then stared.  With no warriors, Eibhlin left and entered the next building with the same effect. Finally one of the Red Men who had gone with her said, “This is really strange.”

“It is,” she replied.  “It’s too quiet.”

“No, not that.  Too many slaves, not enough freemen.”  Then he explained, “Only the wealthy can afford to own a slave.  In a military fortress like this, only the higher officers have that wealth so we should see mostly soldiers with a few slaves and those mostly women owned by the officers.  All we’ve seen are slaves and most of those women.  Why?”

Shrugging, Eibhlin moved on.  And on. And on.  And soon the entire ground floor was clear as were the higher floors.  All they found were slaves, most of which were women. Finally they heard the clash of steel and rushed to the sound to find three defenders fighting thrice their number of Panthans from the flier.  Even Eibhlin could tell that the defenders were outmatched and soon most of the attackers backed off, dropping the points of their blades as they called for the defenders to surrender. 

“And if we do?” one called back.

“You are imprisoned until we leave then released unharmed.  We wish not your lives nor the enmity of your Jed, only the secrets of Phor Tak.” 

Laughing, the defenders dropped their blades and called, “agreed.”  Eibhlin began to get nervous.  No battle was this easy.  Yet, one of the prisoners offered to accompany the invading force and with his aid, soon all the defenders were imprisoned, though when they asked for comfortable accommodations, slaves were sent to fetch their sleeping silks and furs and assigned to feed them well.

Talking to Omal as they raided the kitchen, Eibhlin asked, “Don’t you think this is too easy?”  Then spying a slave hiding she called, “You girl, come out.  We won’t harm you.”

Unlike most Red Woman who were beautiful in a way that took Eibhlin’s breath away, this one was almost plain.  Pretty in her own way but no great beauty, what the Americans would call ‘the girl next door’.  She was naked from waist to collar as custom demanded but what she did wear was scarlet silk to cover her loins as in the American Red Indian breech-cloth.  She even wore scarlet ribbons in her hair and some very plain jewelry that appeared to be homemade.  But unlike all Red Woman who had no need to nurse, her breasts were, though small by Earthly standards, large by Martian.  Eibhlin never understood the American obsession with large breasts, as if they wished to nurse their entire lives for to the Irish noble, more than a hand or mouthful was too much.  And she hated the size of her own which were sensitive and pleasant to the touch, and though slightly larger than the average American, she still saw as huge and the Red Men as gross.

“Please mistress,” the slave looked a second time to be certain that the alien that faced her was really a woman, “Command and I obey.”

Taking the terrified girl by her hand, Eibhlin led her to a chair and bade her sit.  “Why don’t the defenders defend their homes?” she asked.

“Because they forgot how,” was the reply.

“I don’t understand. Where are all the warriors?  This is a military fortress and we see nothing but female slaves, a few male slaves and a few warriors when there should me mostly warriors with few slaves.”

Laughing, then suddenly silent, the girl tried to explain, not looking at Eibhlin or Omal.  Eibhlin had that effect on people.  Seeing her pointed ears, her banth-like eyes that slitted closed in the light and open in the dark, her moth-like antennae, light skin and straight hair, few were the Red Race who could look at her without staring or cringing.  Slowly, as she spoke, her eyes moved upward, taking in the Irishwoman’s form and trying to accept what she saw. The ape-like feet, the long prehensile tail, the oversized breasts and the dual thumbs took her some time to accept.  “Mistress, when Phor Tak came here fifty years ago, he was a scientist, not a warrior so his retainers were slaves. Slaves to assist, slaves to attend and slaves,” she shuddered, “as experiments.  He needed few warriors so took only those who were loyal to him.  Since his death at the hands of the Heliumite, few come here.  We are isolated and neither Jahar nor Tjanath want this place.  I expect that it is too expensive to hold in peace.” She was smiling then, actually looking Eibhlin in the face without cringing though she did start when Omal snapped fingers and pointed.  Instantly the slave-girl was on the floor, cringing on her hands and knees.

“THAT was uncalled for!” Eibhlin advanced on the Thern who just laughed and commented, “I like it when they cringe.”

“Enough!  Search the other rooms and I shall interrogate the prisoner alone.”

The man shrugged and walked off as if it were his idea as Eibhlin raised the terrified girl.  “I’m sorry, the man is a boor at times but a fighter of renown whom I’d hate to face in battle.  Still, I understand why so few warriors, but why so many female slaves?  You Red Women lay thirteen eggs a year.  Over fifty years since Phor Tak’s death, there should be over six-hundred and fifty laid by each woman and most hatched.  Simple odds imply that half would be male.”

“Mistress, were every egg to hatch, Jhama would be as overrun as was U-Gor.  So most are destroyed upon being laid. Those few which are deemed suitable are stored in the pits where the temperature is too low for incubation.  When Phor Tak came here, most of the slaves were men but over the decades, most died or were killed with the warriors keeping only the women they … desired.”  She shuddered again.  Eibhlin knew that shudder.  She had often done exactly the same in Belfast in the mid-seventeenth century when she was a child herself accosted by British troops.  Eibhlin didn’t want to think about how this girl had suffered and even though she could be centuries old, she still looked young enough to evoke the Irishwoman’s maternal instincts.

“What of the technical devices of Phor Tak?  These are what we were sent to fetch.”

“Gone, all gone.  Phor Tak kept them all in his private lab and these were destroyed by that Heliumite when he killed the scientist and stole his invisible airship.” 

Sitting herself, the girl watching as Eibhlin’s tail moved aside, the Panthan wanted to laugh.  “Isn’t that the way things are?  We come all this way to find nothing to take.  Well, I suppose we must search anyway to be certain.  Will you be safe here?”

“Mistress, I am but a scullery slave. I clean and little else.  Why would anyone seek my harm?”

Nodding, she smiled at the girl then left to find her captain.

So now she searched, this time with sheathed blade.  Any of the very few warriors they met quickly surrendered without a fight, the slaves simply not caring who owned them and soon the fortress was secure and being searched by half the Company while the other half celebrated with the slaves.  Disgusted, but wishing she could join in, Eibhlin sought the scullery-slave for the tingle in her lips told her that her Need was rising and if she didn’t get sex soon, she’d have to approach some of the men and that turned her stomach.  Maybe the slave-girl would be receptive?  Although a free woman must be chaste, a slave was expected to service her master and no one thought ill of either so long as the girl wasn’t forced or abused.

Returning to the kitchen she found the place empty and in disarray.  Pots on the floor, dishes broken, a drop of blood on the table where a body had struck.  A fight had taken place so drawing her sword, Eibhlin searched calling  out, “Girl!  Kitchen-girl!   Damn! Why didn’t I ask her name.  Where are you!”

Eventually she found one of the Panthans, drunk and with a slave under each arm, neither seeming in danger, so she stopped and asked, “Have you seen Omal with a young slave-girl?”

Almost falling with the effort, he pointed down one of the curved ramps that the Barsoomian used instead of stairs.  Then thinking that if the slaves knifed him and the rest of the company in their drunken stupor, they deserved it, and she ran on and down.

She found Omal & Siden, another Panthan who was a sycophant to the Thern, in a room far below.  Attracted to the screams, she found the former god holding the struggling slave-girl by her long black hair, Siden seeking to bind the struggling girl, all three naked for their sport though only the girl unwilling.  A part of Eibhlin noticed that the Thern was as bald below as above.

“Release her you… you pig!” Eibhlin cried, drawing her blade.

“Take her,” Omal said quietly, not bothering to draw his own sword, “but alive.”

Smiling, Siden moved in, his own blade at the guarde to face an enraged Irish woman, skilled at war and enraged with the memory of her own gang-rape and murder at the hands of English soldiers.  A memory that twenty years and more had not been able to erase.

Siden feinted and sought to disarm her but she easily countered to slam his sword away by strength of anger. Before he could recover, she thrust and although she missed his heart, the Red Men having a slightly different internal anatomy, still the thrust was deadly and stepping back, she ignored the falling body to face the Thern.

By then Omal had snapped a manacle about the girl’s wrist and slowly drew his own long sword.  “I was a GOD!” he screamed, flicking at her to draw blood over one breast as he did so. “I could do ANYTHING!”  Another flick of steel and another cut.  The slave-girl cried and pulled at her wrist, then tried to reach Sidenss sword with her feet, but with no luck for it was far out of reach.  “I fought the Black Pirates for CENTURIES!” and other flick, another cut.  “Do you know how good I had to be to survive those battles!”  another cut.  He was playing with her, being the far better swordsman with centuries of experience, she knew she was doomed. She tried to move in closer to allow her tail to snap out to grasp something, anything of his but a quick cut and the tip of the beloved member was severed a hands breadth from the end.  He was cutting her to pieces, enjoying the pain and blood he caused.

Eibhlin moved away, always on guarde, always failing to protect herself.  She knew she was the stronger, four times as strong as was he despite his being a foot taller.  She knew she was faster but still not fast enough.  She knew her bones were denser to fight Earth’s greater gravity and enhanced by her Demon masters to survive multi-gravity accelerations.  She knew she was heavier than he because of her bones and muscles and she knew that she could take far more punishment and heal faster.  But he knew the latter too and would butcher her slowly, reveling in her pain.

Having little choice, she reached for her revolver only to have her wrist cut so badly she couldn’t hold the weapon with her severed tendons and veins.  With the missing distal grasping joints of her tail as useless as her right hand, she fought left-handed and knew she would die but determined to take him with her.  Then something flew between the two, fluttering like a scarlet bat, distracting both, but Eibhlin had little fear of bats and rushed him.

Omal deflected her blade and she simply ran onto his, crying as the steel entered her belly.  Looking down, she dropped her own blade, grasped his wrist with her good hand and pulled herself forward, screaming as the blade dug deeper, then she turned, reached up with her leg and using her tarsial foot, she grasped Omal’s neck with her hand-like foot and crushed.  The pain of his blade tearing her insides drove her on, sending that pain into her opponent, then her foot moved and with a crack, the Thern’s neck snapped and he fell lifeless, his blonde wig falling free.

She collapsed too, barely hearing the girl cry, “Mistress!  Listen to me!  I can’t reach you.  I need the keys yonder to help you.”

Eibhlin dragged herself to the wall where the keys had fallen.  How many days that journey took, she knew not, only that she rested often, then was goaded to movement by the girls pleading.  “You can’t die yet.  You fought so hard to save me.  You cannot die yet.”

Then blackness.

Eibhlin awoke with more searing pain as the slave-girl pulled Omal’s sword from her body, it took forever, for the hilt was against her belly and more than two feet protruded past her back.  Eibhlin screamed in agony then she passed out again.

Later, awake again, she found the pain to be gone.  The girl was bandaging her sides, using but one hand for her right, the one in the manacle had been torn terribly and rendered useless.  She heard words but not their meaning and then she was alone in the darkness, dead again.  As she died, she wondered if the Demons would come for her again and what would they do to her this time.

Eibhlin awoke, in a soft bed, covered with silks and furs, her body numb.  Looking around she saw the slave-girl laving her face with a wet cloth, her own right hand bandaged.  “Are you awake enough to hear?  Dwar!” she called and Eibhlin’s Captain approached. 

“I’m glad to see that you are still alive.  I’d hate to have to report loosing three more of my Company.”

“What happened?” she croaked then sipped as the slave-girl placed a cup of water to her lips.

“We were searching as ordered when this slave ran to us, bruised and bleeding, unable to speak from exhaustion but attempting to drag us below.  We followed and found you bleeding and near death with Omal and Siden dead nearby.  The slave told us what happened and refused to leave your side.”

“I thought I had died,” Eibhlin managed to croak.

“Hardly, though close.  Strange thing is that your skin began to harden, almost like a shell but we chose to work on your wounds first and the skin flaked away.  Rest and Heal, Avleen Oobreen for we leave in a few days and I don’t like malingerers in my company.”

She glanced at her arm, pale and wondered, ‘so it would happen to me too, enshelled while repairing the damage.  Jason enshelled and Janice was released, would I be buried and fight my way from the grave a human man?  Or would my werewolf nature take over again?  A Werewolf on Mars!  What a story,’ and she fell back laughing.

“Is something wrong, Mistress?” the slave girl asked, concerned.

“How?” she barely managed to ask, ignoring the question.

“I threw my silks to hoping to distract the God but I didn’t think you would run onto his blade as you did.  I feared you were dead but you pulled yourself to him, he driving his sword through your body as a collector pins bugs to display.  Then when you killed him, you ignored your own wounds and sought the keys to free me, his sword still through your body.  You almost made it to me with the key to my bindings.  But they were an inch too far so I tore my hand, ready to bit my own thumb off to slip free.  Fortunately, I only pulled it from the joint and tore the flesh and that gave me the inch I needed to reach the key and free myself to aid you.”

“Thank you.”

“It was my duty and pleasure, Mistress. You gave your life to save me, a lowly slave.  I would give you my all.”

“I don’t really want a slave, so I guess you are free.”

“I refuse.”


“Mistress, my egg was laid by one of Phor Tak’s slaves.  Perhaps he was my father, perhaps another slave was, perhaps my egg grew without a father, one of the madman’s experiments.  I don’t know.  I only recall running wild, an animal after my hatching until I was captured and tamed and trained, just another slave here without name.  No one has been kind to me save you.  I am yours.”

“How old are you?”  the girl looked young, very young.  But then, Eibhlin looked seventeen despite her forty-some odd years.  And Red Men didn’t age between maturity at forty and age at nine-hundred.

“Barely ten years.”

Eibhlin made some quick calculations even though they made her head hurt. The girl was 18 Earth years.  An old Maid long past marriage by Irish standards, half-grown by Barsoomian but still an adult for a child five years from the shell on Barsoom is an adult though far from mature. She drank again, feeling her lips no longer tingling.  Her Need for sex was no longer rising, hopefully slowed as she healed, but approaching.  Looking down, she saw her tail shorter by some six inches, the sensitive grasping joints missing.  Most of her cuts were simply ‘glued’ shut with the marvelous Barsoomian healing salve that stopped bleeding, accelerated healing and covered the wound to protect it, but the one in her belly was heavily bandaged.  Doubtless they had to open her up to repair the damage inside as his sword entered and twisted, causing havoc with her entrails.  That one might even scar.

“I’m sorry for your injuries, Mistress,” she said, actually meaning it.

“My kind heals fast.  I’ll even regrow my missing tail joints in a couple weeks if I eat properly.”

“Mistress, as your slave, I shall ensure that you receive all that you need.”

“I have no need for a slave, just a lover.”  Eibhlin took the chance or maybe was groggy from the medicines she was given.

“I can do that, mistress,” her eyes lowered.

Perking up, “oh?”

“I saw the way you looked at me.  The same way men looked at me my entire life.  But they took what they wished without thought.  You were kind and cared for my safety and so I gladly offer what you wish.  Otherwise, what have I?”

“I accept, until we can find you a decent life.” Then, remembering, “I am the Princess Eibhlin Ui Bhrian of Ireland on Jasoom.  And your name?”

“Larena, if it pleases my Mistress.”

“Then, my dear Larena, I am, was, the Princess Eibhlin Ingean Ui Bhrian of Ulster in Ireland of Jasoom but now am a simple Panthan.  I cannot really afford a slave but will share with you what I have.  I’ll protect you and care for you to the best of my ability and find you a better life when I return to my own world and life.  But, I am not a Red Woman as you see.  Much of your food is poison to me, I cannot breathe if I climb or fly very high in your thin air and my kind needs sex often or we die a terrible death.  We are going to Kobol were I will serve the Jed for as long as I am needed.  The life isn’t as easy as your life here so you may wish to reconsider.”

Smiling, this time not cringing at the sight, she replied, “Mistress, My work here is easy but my life hard.  With you it will be the opposite.  I await your command and call,” then after a pause and dropping her eyes, “Anxiously.”

Laughing again, Eibhlin said quietly, “I am not my niece so would prefer to wait until I won’t have my wounds torn open.  In the meantime, my name is Eibhlin, AH-vih-leen UUH BREE-yan, not Avleen Oobreen or anything else.  We’ll work on that.” Then she fell asleep again.


As Eibhlin was being helped by Larena to the flyer, she noticed that many of the Panthans were accompanied by a slave carrying a bag of booty.  It seems that few had been idle in their search.  Lakon passed her with three girls of his own, each carrying a bag so Eibhlin called to him, still influenced by the pain represents she was taking, “Lakon, why three?  Most men think better of their prowess than is true but unless you have three members or two and a tail, you can only love one at a time.  Do the others watch or are they for a midnight snack?”

Lakon laughed back and replied, “Avleen Oobreen, I have not consumed the flesh of the Lower Orders in almost sixty years.  No, I simply enjoy variety in my company as do you though mine are the more beautiful it seems.  Also my member seems to be in far better shape than your tail which is missing the end.”

She snapped back, “Perhaps I, being a woman, can see past a pretty face to the person beneath.  Larena is a pretty enough and is a good and kind woman with a brain, something you men seem to dislike in a woman.”  It was later that Eibhlin realized that Lakon said he hadn’t eaten a human in sixty years.  Issus died and the Thern Religion fell more than seventy years ago.  She shuddered then tried very hard to forget what he had said.

Once sitting, wincing as her injured back leaned against the hull, Eibhlin turned to the Panthan to her left and asked, “I know why I must have Larena but why do you take a slave?”

“Same as you, companionship.”

“But I must eat a bland diet so Larena can have what I cannot consume, plus I get paid more than many of you Red Men.  Can you afford to feed that fine woman you possess?”

He shrugged and commented, “When I cannot, I shall sell her.”  Which caused Eibhlin to wonder a bit at the cold-heartedness of men.  “I wonder,” she mused, “If my own mother that Cromwell sold to slavery in the Americas was treated as you intend to treat that woman.”

“Probably, though from what you told us, your Jasoomian relatives were far harsher to their own slaves than are we to ours who have some legal rights.”

Dropping the conversation as unproductive and disturbing to her personally, Eibhlin tried to sleep, then awoke as her newly acquired slave asked, “Mistress, I must change your bandages.  Please try to remember that I shall be as gentle as possible but it may hurt.”

“Of course, please proceed.”

First was her abdomen which the slave exclaimed, “The skin is almost healed and as I press, you barely wince.  I don’t think we shall need these bandages.  Now let us see to your tail.  Incredible, the end, the scars are gone and it looks as if….”

“Yes, I am regrowing the lost joints.  It’s fortunate that mantilla is rich in calcium to allow me to rebuild the lost bone.  Soon enough I should be complete.”

Rubbing the member to her cheek, Larena commented, “I expected it to be as rough as an ulsio tail but this is soft and smooth as is your own arm.  Do all Jasoomians have such a tail?”

“None, save those the Demons abduct and change.  And before you ask, ‘moorouk’ to me is an insult as is the Jasoomian ‘monkey-girl’ so please make no comparisons.”

“In would not dream to do so.  But why did these Demons do so to you?”

“They needed a slave to repair their ships and find taking humans and changing them to better work in space to be useful.    On Jasoom, they think I was created to climb trees but the Demons saw otherwise.  All that you see, my feet, thumbs, tail are for clinging to the hull of a starship in space where there is no gravity.  My eyes, ears and antennae are to better understand the machinery of a starship.  I know that I am shocking to look upon….”

“Nay, Mistress. At first, a bit disconcerting, but once I got used to you, I saw that you are a beautiful woman. And now I see the beauty within.  What is it like, in space? Seeing other worlds?  Perhaps the Princes of a dozen worlds throwing their swords and jewels at your feet.  Surely dozens of worlds have bid for your hand in marriage?”

“Hardly.  Most of the people I see who resemble humans are too big for me, nine foot tall is average for a Mon male.  And the Vanthi who are our size… well they tend to hairiness and see even free women as possessions.  On Jasoom, like here, they see me as a freak.  It is rare that I meet someone who can see past the body and seek the woman who lies within.  Plus, my tastes run to the fairer sex of my own gender.  See Hermm over there, he is one of the rare Red Men who prefer men over women which is why he took a male slave.  That is why he is a Panthan, he cannot marry so is useless to his family.  We accept him because.. well we all have our stories and many are tragic.”

The flier stopped thrice to offload and exercise and to air out the aircraft.  At every stop, Eibhlin stretched, ate more than she needed to which her Captain commented, “Keep that up and you’ll eat away our supplies and force me to dock your pay.”

“I’ll be fine soon.  I just need to eat more to repair my body.  I took a strong wound back there.”

“And for what?  A mere slave?  She had better be worth loosing Omal and Siden.”

“I feel that she is.”

“So much will you accept me docking your pay to compensate the pi Jed Han Kosal paid to hire them?”

“Since you recovered the money from their bodies, I fail to see how the Jed is loosing.”

“Avleen Oobreen, You are stronger than any Red Man and that alien Beamer of yours makes you dangerous, but with the blade, Omal was worth three of you on the Line.  I shall have to place you in considerable danger to make up for his loss.” Then he walked away, knowing that Eibhlin would now be given the worst and most dangerous assignments.  In the forests or even cities, her body could find advantage but on the flat desert, only her strength had value and her need to drink thrice the water of a Red Man and her stink while sweating in the desert made her a liability.  It was time to go home. She only hoped that her niece, Janice, would be able to contact her ship and send it to the right planet and time to rescue her.

They eventually landed in Kobol after passing over the expected ten miles or so of croplands that bordered the waterway that stretched from the Koal Forest in the northwest to Jahar in the southeast.  Kobol, being in the middle of the highlands wasn’t as arid as the desert surrounding Jhama and all saw the change in vegetation long before they saw the walled city.

Once landed, they were processed as with all Martian cities.  They were made to stand as they were photographed, their height, weight and additional descriptions added (Eibhlin enjoyed knowing the extra paperwork the clerks would have to do describing her) then identity papers were printed and copies sent to various places in the city.  Then they were taken to the barracks where the men were bunked in a dorm on one floor, Eibhlin with the free women on another and the slaves below.  Getting together for her liaisons with Larena would be a problem.  Then they were called together and told, “Remain here tonight.  Tomorrow you will meet Jed Han Kosal and swear your loyalty to him and the nation of Kobol.  Do NOT leave this building for until tomorrow you are foreigners and will be detained in the pits until the guards care to listen to your entireties and contact me.”

As Eibhlin started to walk away she muttered, “Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow we die!”

“Excuse me,” her Dwar asked. “What means that?”

“Oh, it is a saying from the Bible, the Holy Book of my religion on Jasoom.  I think it comes from the Book of Isaiah and means that we should celebrate the glory of God well while alive for God will judge us when dead.  I think the pagan Gladiators in ancient Rome used it otherwise, to celebrate their last night before they meet death in the arena.”

“Interesting, I never thought you Jasoomians were religious.  But here we have a saying, ‘Issus may be dead but Han Kosal is Jed!’  You would be well to remember that.”

Nodding, she walked away seeking both her slave-girl and a place where they could be alone for a bit.  She didn’t feel well enough for sex but some love-making, gentle kissing and just holding each other under the stars would be nice.

Finding Larena was easy, she just looked in the slave quarters and called the girl, “Would you accompany me to the roof?  I’d like to relax a bit before I go to sleep.”

“Of course, Mistress, I am at your command,”  but her eyes asked for that command.

They couldn’t hold hands as Eibhlin wanted and the magnetic elevator gave her her usual headache as her sensitive antennae picked up the magnetic fields in the shaft, but these were easier to deal with then the florescent lighting used in America which gave her migraines within seconds.  Then on the roof, they sat against a wall, Eibhlin’s feet over the edge as they huddled under some furs. 

“It’s so far to fall,” Larena commented.

Looking, the Weir laughed, “Barely ten stories.  When I am on the outside hull of a Demon starship, down is a thousand light years and even with your lifespan of a thousand years, you’ll die of old age before you strike anything.”

“It must be wonderful to own such a ship, to be free to go anywhere, knowing that if you don’t like where you are, you can find a totally different place with different customs elsewhere.”

“It does have its advantages.  But sometimes, when I am trapped someplace like here, it gets a bit difficult.”

“Does this happen often?”

“Not often.  This is my second time I got lost using them.  My … niece seems to get lost often.”

“I would love to leave this dying world and see.. other places.  All I have known since I hatched was work, privation, abuse and the constant desert across no one can walk.  To go places with people who love you…. That is every slave’s dream.”

“Then, dear Larena, when my ship arrives I’ll take you with me.”  Then an idea.  “My nephew, Jason, once loved a woman from Amhor but when he returned to Jasoom, he had to leave her behind for the crushing gravity of Earth would have killed her.  But!  I have a Demon shield-belt.  I wore it on worlds where the air and gravity were not conducive to my life and you can wear it to survive the gravity of my ship and other worlds!”

“Really!  You would take me with you!  I am so happy,” and she hugged her owner in her gratitude.  "Mistress, your breathing is quickening.  Is something wrong?  Should I call a physician”

“Nothing is wrong, at least nothing that cannot be cured with a taste of your lips.”

A while alter, they broke apart, Larena saying, “That was different.  Softer, gentler than the rough ways of the men of Jhama.”

“Let us not talk of men but of only ourselves.”

Then later, “please, mistress, I am afraid of falling.  You may cling to the side of a building but I cannot.  Can we not find a safer place?”

Laughing Eibhlin stood and helped the Red Woman to rise, “very well, how about there, on that deserted flier?”

Despite Eibhlin’s concern for her wound, kissing Larena was gentle and soft and her body hurt not at all, though so accustomed to the soft touch of her tail, she was unable to use that member and so relaxed with fingers and lips and soon they were both naked exploring each other.

“Shhh, Mistress, wait!  I hear someone.”

“Who cares, I burn for you my dear Larena.”

“What if we are discovered?  Please, let us wait until they leave.”

Sighing, the Irish woman agreed and they sat, holding hands, communication their desire with a squeeze of the hand and a stroke of a finger until they heard a groan.

Looking over the side, Eibhlin motioned, “There.”  A number of men glowed in their body heat to her enhanced eyes.  Two men held a third, limp, between them in the dark.  “I see nothing,” Larena commented. “It’s too dark for your eyes but mine open to see more in less light.  Plus I see their body heat.  I see two men dragging a third to a flier. Remain here.”

“Wait!” she called but her cried were useless as the Irishwoman approached, stubbing her foot on an unseen something on the floor.  “Damn!  Doesn’t anyone pick up this place!” she demanded.  Tools rarely glowed in the infra-red unless they were heated somehow.

“Shhh,” Eibhlin heard as the glowing figures moved aside and behind something that hid them.  Although very dark, there was enough light from a far-off radium globe and the light of one of the Martian moons through the open door for her to see.  True, it was all black-and-gray and very dim but she could see as most people would under a half-moon on Earth.

“Come out!  I know you are here.  Are you Gorthans?  Explain yourself!”

More shuffling as the glow appeared and vanished behind some object.  Then one appeared, his arm in a position that spoke ‘weapon’ thought she could not tell if it were dagger, sword or revolver.  But knowing that she was totally invisible to the Red Men whose sight was as poor as any Earthman’s, Eibhlin took a quiet step or two to the right and pulled her Demon sword and waited as the stranger moved to her former location.  As the glow passed, she shifted her grip and struck, rendering the man unconscious with a groan and thud, then was blinded by a radium torch flashing the hanger.  Her eyes, opened wide for sensitivity, reacted as if a searchlight had struck her and she called out in pain.

“Stand!” the farther voice demanded.  Unable to see and her eyes still in pain, she did exactly as she was ordered.  “Drop your blade!” She did so.  “Who are you!”

“I am the Princess Eibhlin Ui Bhrian of Jasoom, Panthan to Han Kosal of Korad.  What crimes do you commit?”  She was buying time to recover, knowing that so long as the torch was being shined in her face she was vulnerable.  Even through closed eyelids and slitted secondary lids, the light was bright so her opponent must have his radium torch on full.  If she were to fight, she would have to do so with other senses.  And still healing from her wounds with Omal, she wasn’t certain of even survival.

She could estann the Red Man nearby, probably looking her over then she heard her sword being kicked away and her revolver being pulled from her holster.  A moment later, time enough for him to look over the grip modified for her smaller hand and extra thumb, her dagger was pulled and tossed aside with a click as it struck the floor.  Then, “Wake up you fool!  This… whatever she is, laid you out with a blow.”  She imagined him shaking his companion and remembering the location of the unconscious man, she kicked hard.  A groan and report as his revolver fired and she heard a ‘zing’ of the explosive round passing her ear.  Hearing no explosion, the light-active round wouldn’t detonate now, but as the sun rose, someone would be in for a surprise when the light struck the expended bullet. 

In the meantime, Eibhlin fought by sound alone, listening for the sound of his body and kicking to that area, sometimes striking, sometimes not until, “Mistress, cease, it’s over!” 

“I’m blinded!  Tell me what happened!”

She felt her hands being pulled away, “I see no damage, doubtless your blindness is just temporary.  When you kicked that man, he dropped his torch which gave me enough light to approach.  You kept him occupied until I could strike him with a wrench.  He lies unconscious near his friend.”

Sitting carefully, her side still ached from her previous battle, Eibhlin allowed Larena to lave her aching eyes with a damp cloth.  “Your antennae, the feathers retreat under my touch, am I harming you?”

“No, my dearest, that is a blink reaction to protect the sensitive feelers that detect electro-magnetic forces.  I can see a bit though spots hide everything.  A few moments more and I’ll be fine.  See you to the captive.”

Eibhlin focused, barely, and sought her weapons when Larena called out, Mistress!”


“Come here please.”

“Why?  Can’t it wait?  I’m looking for my dagger.”

“Your dagger can wait, look here.”  The fact that the voice came from the direction of the unconscious men and not their prisoner as was expected caused the Weir to turn to find her slave kneeling by the men, both battered, one bleeding from his lips where Eibhlin’s kicks had sent splintered ribs through fragile lungs.

“Is that what I think it is?” Eibhlin saw what her slave was touching.

“It is,” she replied in a hollow voice.

“Shit!”  Both unconscious men wore the Device of the House of Kosal, the royal house that Eibhlin was supposed to wear upon the morrow.
“I am in so much trouble.  Quick, return to your quarters.  They never saw you so you will be safe.”

“No, mistress,” she explained. “As your slave I can be but praised for assisting my mistress and so am immune to harm in this matter.  I fear for your life though.  We should throw them out the hanger and their prisoner too to hide our involvement.”

“No, any good psychologist would see my image in their dead minds and seek me for murder as well.  We need to report this and perhaps run.”

“To where? 

THE GREAT DESERT  <img src=”greatdesert.jpg”>
She was right, Eibhlin thought. There were mountains and forests along the equator some 500 miles north of Korad.  The waterway that stretched from Koal to Korad to pass Jahar was mostly owned by Korad or Jahar.  Four hundred miles east was another waterway but who owned that was unknown and thought strangers approaching valuable croplands would be suspicious, detained and probably executed.  Everywhere else was the great Desert, so barren that even the Green Men avoided the area as uninhabitable.  No, their only chance was to see the thing through.

“Perhaps the fact that the kidnappers were working in stealth will work to our advantage.  We can claim that no honest man abducts another in the darkness.”

“Unless,” Larena offered, “The Jed wishes none to know of this matter.”

“Regardless, my plan is what we shall claim so that when the royal Psychologists seek to probe our minds, they will see only the truth and our good wishes.”

The prisoner begged them for release, claiming that he was being abducted by gorthans but they chose to leave him in his bindings, feeling that this act would work in their favor and called the Watch.

It was a short time before they were before the Jed himself.  The man reeked of excess and could barely sit from the drink he had been sucking as if the bottle in his hand were his mother’s teat and he a starving babe though Martians never suckled, being hatched nearly adults. Still the Irish remained armed which was a good sign as the Watch explained the matter in total honestly, giving weight to neither her nor the prisoner nor the one man who had been first struck by Eibhlin’s sword.  The other was still having his ribs and lungs repaired.  Through it all, Han Kosal listened as he slowly sobered though this may be only because the bottle was empty.

As the Watch Padwar spoke, Eibhlin looked around the Throne Room.  Unlike the one in Ptarth which was quite discrete, Kobol was poor enough to seek other means to express their position and so the Kobol Throne Room was a pasha’s paradise with silks and tapestries covering all walls, rugs on the floor and gold and silver everywhere.  With this amount of wealth, Eibhlin mused, the Jed would be stingy with the pay of his Panthans.  But it was the Throne that attracted her attention the most.  Not because of the Jed who was fast approaching obesity, a rare thing on Barsoom, but because of his harem.  She chose that word for the simple reason that the women who lounged at the feet of the Jed must be his wives for few wore slave collars.

All were different.  Here one with a bald head and coppery skin as if she had hatched that way or shaved her head.  There a woman with the muscular build of a man.  Another with blue eyes that changed to green as she looked.  Another was a woman who wore too much in the way of cosmetics until Eibhlin realized that she was a man in woman’s harness.  And, passing by some drapes, a woman with white skin and breasts that would put even an earthly porn star to shame.  She wore a… Mother Mary and all the saints… was that a penis that hung to below her knees?  A woman with a man’s member, a member that would put even a horse to shame.  How could she or he or .. use that?  Eibhlin had been forced to take some generous men when her Need rose but that would tear her apart for erect, if it could harden, would be… her mind staggered and to save herself she looked to the floor and saw that the woman had no feet but hooves. 

Before she could go further Eibhlin realized that the Jed was speaking and no one who wished to live would ignore the words of a king.

“And you, whatever you are… another off world visitor?  A woman playing at a man’s occupation.  What is your story?”  And he let drop his bottle for the first time to lean upon his hand and stare at the Irishwoman, not in interest but in undisguised lust. 

Trying to focus her thoughts to respond, Eibhlin curtsied to the king to buy time though Barsoomians had no concept of the European genuflection.  No, she had imagined the woman with a man’s…  “Mother Mary, get your mind from the gutter,” she admonished herself.  All that kissing with Larena had excited her and with no release, her mind was in the barnyard, wishing for…  “Great and noble Jed,  I am the Princess Eibhlin Ingean Ui Bhrian of Jasoom, trapped on your world and seeking employment as a Panthan with your magnificent court.”  There, Eibhlin thought, it never hurts to compliment an insecure man.  “I was in that hanger with my slave observing the city I would swear to protect upon the morrow when I heard a scuffle.  Examining the sounds, I saw one man being dragged away by another and sought to examine their motives for if gorthans operated in your fair city, it would be my task to stop them as I would any foreign invader.  In the fight, I injured these two and only after the lights had been raised did I see that they were wearing your device.  Doubtless they are in disguise, hoping to slander your noble reputation with their misdeeds.”  There, she thought, compliment the man and give him a way to save face if he ordered the abduction.

All waited as the Jed focused his eyes and then he spoke, “Away with them all.  We shall investigate this matter so none shall leave the city.”  Eibhlin noted that the kidnappers walked out free, their victim watching with considerable nervousness.  Yes, she had interrupted a private matter between the Jed and some with whom he was at odds but feared arresting in public.

“Your slave too but, Princess of Jasoom, you remain. I would hear more.” And the throne room was quickly emptied of all save the Jed, his harem and the Irish alien.  “Sit,” he commanded, patting the cushion next to him.  Eibhlin noted that he sat at am angle.  Hermm sat like that after a prolonged loving by his male slave.  Without a woman’s natural moistness, soreness was inevitable or so she thought. 

Carefully sitting, estanning the man’s desire to penetrate and be penetrated by one person, she began to worry.  Han Kosal reached out to stroke her straight hair, now in a loose tail.  “Your hair is as black as any Red Woman’s but straight.  I find that so attractive. Remove the band that it may flow free as it should.”

Eibhlin slowly untied her ribbon and shook her hair free, now wishing she had cut it short.

Cupping her chin, he looked into her face, without wincing or turning aside as so many others did at her alien features.  Eibhlin knew that she was attractive though no great beauty that would launch a thousand ships in her rescue as was said of Helen of Troy or Dejah Thoris of Helium. It was her eyes, ears and antennae that bothered people but the Jed stared at them all, her round Irish face and commented, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world.  Lay with me and I will make you my Jedda.”

A Queen, power, title, palace, all that the British had stripped from her.  All that she was raised to possess.  Her father would have married her to a man she knew not to cement an alliance, would this be any different?  A loveless marriage of convenience?  She could take her female lovers and the Jed wouldn’t care, asking only to join in occasionally.  She had done that before, first with Cyndi and Kevin on Earth, then more recently with Janice and Steve along the Iss and enjoyed them both so would this be any worse?

She felt his lips on hers and estanned the anger and hatred from the others, fear that they would be replaced, tossed into the Great Desert to die for nowhere else would they be accepted.  Then she felt his hand slide behind her head, take her hair and twist, forcing his lips to hers hard, his tongue forcing itself into her mouth, his other hand grasping her tail, the tip wincing with pain from the severance only a few days past as he sought to force the member.  His tongue now deeper into her mouth, nearly gagging her with its length.

Almost she bit it off, memories of her past coming forth then she tried to relax, to give this King what he needed until she broke away, panting in terror, not seeing the dagger in her hand until it was too late.

Han Kosal lay across the room where her greater strength had tossed him.  “I.. I’m sorry My Lord. I apologize and beg your forgiveness.  I, I cannot control myself sometimes.   Please…”

The Jed stood, then turned and left the room, his guards entering and Eibhlin resigned herself to a fight to the death, readying herself.  One pointed to the door, “Return to your unit, Panthan, His majesty will decide your fate later.”

Walking back, fearing a dagger or bullet in the back, she wondered at that.  The man was a pervert by any standard but a pervert with power.  He wanted to force her and be forced in return, thus his reputation for exotics, men and women who were different and enjoyed their love-play rough.  “Damn! I could have had it all!” she punched the wall then yelped, looking at her bloody knuckles and the unharmed wall.

Reaching the barracks, she sought her slave and kissing her gently, said, “I need to find you a safe place to remain.  Kobol is no longer safe for me or those with me.”

“Why mistress?” she was worried, as she should be.  Eibhlin wouldn’t put it past Han Kosal to use Larena as leverage to force Eibhlin to submit to him.
“Our new Jed wished me for his own.  I resisted.”

“Mistress, I have been thinking.  Slaves say that the waterways are so in need of help that even a slave can find a home.  We can go there, hide out until it is safe.  I am young and will outlast Han Kosal who has only a few centuries left.  We can be safe there until he dies.”

Eibhlin thought then agreed, “Then we will search for a safe farm when we can.”  Though privately, Eibhlin knew that Larena would be safe only apart from the Alien.  Perhaps she could find a farm who had a son would wish to marry even a freed slave.


The Dwar of Eibhlin’s Utan called them to formation just outside Jahar, for save as individuals, Jahar refused to allow foreign soldiers within their walls.  Tul Axter, the former Jeddak of Jahar had made a LOT of enemies in his bid for planetary conquest and Red Men had very long memories.

“As you know.” He spoke, “Han Kosal, our illustrious Jed,” He looked at Eibhlin as did most of the Company for all knew why they were here, “Has sent us to aid Jahar retake U-Gor Province.  I know that there are rumors so I am here to quell those.  There are no monsters, no corphals, no aliens from another planet.”  A number laughed as Eibhlin heard someone comment, “Other than our own alien here.  Doubtless she shall protect us from her fellow off-world monsters.”  Eibhlin laughed too for nothing on Barsoom was as bad as some she had seen on other worlds.

The Captain continued, “What we WILL find are cannibals!  Yes, Tul Axter outlawed marriage and forbade the destruction of ANY egg during his reign.  Thus all those eggs which would have been destroyed or stored in the cold were allowed to hatch.”  Eibhlin remembered Red Man biology.  Every Barsoomian woman laid thirteen soft-skinned eggs spread over a year, about one every fifty days.  Most of these were sterile because of a lack of sex and so destroyed, and of those that were fertile, most were destroyed because of some defect or simply because they were not needed.  Eibhlin understood as she had come from a time when women were little more than breeders and most died in childbirth after birthing anywhere from six to a dozen children.  On Barsoom, they allowed maybe one egg per decade to hatch, thus keeping the population to manageable levels.  To allow every egg to hatch… thirteen children every year for a thousand years…  Her mind boggled at the implications, as did every other mind she could estann.  Resources on Mars were too scarce to support a large population so population control was second nature.

“Obviously, it didn’t take long for Tul Axter to breed an army of unstoppable numbers in his bid for conquest.  Unfortunately, he waited too long or maybe U-Gor simply got out of hand.  The population stripped one of the most fertile areas on Barsoom and without food, the starving masses turned to each other.” He gave the Utan a moment to digest that thought, then continued.  “Since then, the people of U-Gor simply ate their Nobles.  When Tul Axter sent in the army, they too were overwhelmed by numbers and consumed.”  When Eibhlin had lived in Los Angeles ten years ago or more, she had seen a television show about the human waves in the Korean War.  Only the first wave had been issued weapons as they had been sent against the UN Forces. They all died but the next wave arrived, picked up the fallen weapons and advanced a few yard more until they died.  As wave after wave arrived, the UN Forces simply ran out of ammunition and were overwhelmed by the Chinese waves who charged with fixed bayonets.  There were stories that Mao had encouraged breeding to such an extent that he had enough volunteers who were willing to face war than the starvation and cannibalism of rural China.  Eibhlin could easily see the same thing happening here.

“Finally, the older, civilized people died or were killed leaving their young and eggs to fend for themselves.”  Barsoomian eggs incubated for five years as they grew from the size of a goose egg to something that could hatch a nearly-grown teen. Eibhlin had no idea of how that could be but the fact that it happened was undeniable.  The newly-hatched youth was then captured and tamed and educated.  Without that taming and education, the youth of U-Gor would be little more than animals.  Animals that resembled men but still animals.

“Our task is to simply advance, kill any of the savages, destroy any egg we find and clear the land for replanting.  I am told that the savages have no sword skills and their tactics consist of engaging the prey and fighting on the defense until another stabs you in the back.  So when facing them, do so in a square, blades outward.  If outnumbered more than three-to-one, retreat to regroup.  Remember, we are not Kobol citizens, nor are we of Jahar.  We are Panthans which means, expendable.  So we can expect little in relief so take care of each other!  We leave at dawn as U-Gor is a thousand haads SouthEast of here and it will take us about a half-zode to arrive.  I want the sun up enough to see but not so far risen to warm our enemy. If we can catch them still frozen, all the better.  Dismissed until a zode before dawn.”

Eibhlin looked to the city as the Utan dispersed and thought she saw someone on the wall.  That wasn’t unusual as the Jeddek of Jahar, whomever Sonoma Tora was currently married to, ensured that the walls of Jahar were bristling to discourage the Kobol forces from seeing the city as vulnerable.  Raising her field-glass to her eyes, she saw a woman watching the company.  “Lakon,” she called, “Look yonder, that woman on the wall. She appears to be dressed as a noble.  Do you know her?”

The Thern looked himself and commented, “Could be Sonoma Tora, the Jeddera of Jahar.  But I cannot be certain.  The coins Jahar is paying us carry the Jeddak’s face, not the Jeddera’s.”

“What do you know of her?” Eibhlin asked.

“Very little,” which was untrue for the Therns lived by secrecy, their skill with the sword and the information they gathered.  Lakon would know everything about the Jeddera and reveal only what he thought was public, keeping the best to himself.  “She is of Helium but married Tul Axter in a bid for power and position.  Some say she was abducted and forced, others that her father arraigned the marriage and pretended that she was abducted to save face.  Regardless, she was married to the despot until Tan Hadron, also of Helium, sought her freedom out of love.  Strange thing is that he found that he loved a boyish slave girl more than he did Sonoma Tora who is a great beauty.  Still, when Tul Axter was killed and Jahar broken, Sonoma Tora remained, married one of her step-sons and remained on the throne.  Whether she adapted to her role to survive or was like this always is moot, what IS known is that any husband who fails her dies suspiciously and she marries another of Tul Axter’s brood to retain her position.  I would not wish to cross that woman.”

The former god left quietly and Eibhlin glanced at the wall again.  A woman who married power and became ruthless to retain power.  Eibhlin commented to the absent Thern, “Had my family lived and the English not burned my home, I would have been like her, married to some weak Tierna to cement alliance and rule at his side, manipulating him and my people to drive the British out of Ireland.  I wonder if I would be as ruthless?  I understand that woman.” 

Eibhlin drank little that night, wishing to spend the darkness in furs, not with her head and arse in the latrine for even the best Barsoomian wine ran through her system as if she had dysentery.  Her fellow mercenaries drank hard, for to tell a Panthan to avoid drink was like telling them to avoid women, neither order would be obeyed and the man who sought to enforce that order would find himself alone on the battlefield.  The best they could hope for was that the Panthans would seek the furs early enough to avoid a bad hangover and most would.  Those that drank overly much usually died in the next-day’s battle and the Dwar had a way of ensuring that those with too little control and overly aching head were on the front line.

Larena came to her, crawled under the fur seeking warmth for with the setting of the Martian Sun, not only did light end almost as if someone had turned a switch, but so did the warmth.  And Jahar, at fifty degrees south, was cold enough.  “Mistress, I fear for the morrow.  I hear strange things of U-Gor.  Even those of Jhama spoke of the place in fear.”

Holding her slave close, more for physical warmth than to comfort the girl, she laughed, “You heard what our Captain said.  All we need to fear are some savages.  I’ve been all over this galaxy and seen lots of monsters, including Green Pirates that would cause even your Green Men to quake in fear, and somehow, all managed to die under blade or beamer or handgun.”

“Warriors run out of bullets and their sword arm tires as the hours of fighting pass.”

Eibhlin laughed then kissed her slave-lover, “I am far stronger than any woman or man on this planet. My bones were made to survive the crushing gravity of Jasoom and the Demons who abducted and changed me made me stronger still.  I can easily carry a case of radium bullets with the same ease that you carry our sleeping furs.  And I don’t tire as easily as you do.”

“Then my dearest mistress, please do so.  I would feel safer knowing that you are high on a rock shooting the savages from afar than in their midst where a lucky sword could pierce your back.”

“If it gets to that, I shall.  Neither Han Kosal not Sonoma Tora pay me enough to risk my life needlessly.  And when the need arises, I can outrun a thoat.” She didn’t mention that she could, but only for a short distance until her Earthly lungs shut down from the thin air.  “Come, let us bundle until the morning’s dawn.”  Then rising, still wrapped, they proceeded to their tent, little more than a silk cloth on poles over a hollow between some rocks that would retain some of the day’s heat.   Then, when undressed, Eibhlin kissed Larena gently and found the girls soft hands exploring her body, raising passion that must be controlled for fear of breaking the Red Woman.  Still, the time Larena took with her lips on her owner’s ears and neck easily matched the sensations of the Red Girl’s hands elsewhere and entwined, their passion exploded a dozen times, followed by another hour of kissing and touching until Eibhlin fell asleep, happy.

The next morning, the slaves gathered with the Panthan’s unneeded gear for they would remain behind as their owners went to war.  Normally they would remain near the battlefield, safe but vulnerable to capture by the victors, this time, however, they must remain far behind for fear that the savages would avoid the mercenaries and attack to consume the helpless slaves.  Larena cried a few tears fearing that she would never see her beloved mistress again.  Eibhlin blew her a kiss as she entered the flier and the slaved watched the three transports lift off, rear propellers turning to push the airships to the horizon and beyond.

Larena watched the flier become lost in the distance, fearing for her future.  The others not caring, for to a slave, one master was pretty much no different from another.  If the Panthans returned, life would go on, if not, they would be sold on the block to another. Few free men would deign to kill a slave, partly from honor, partly from the needless loss of income that selling the slave would bring.  Larena was different.  Still young, not even fully mature for her age, though 18 years Earth-time, meant that she was far from the forty that would mark her fully grown and mature. And before Eibhlin, her life was one of work and use by any free man in the fortress of Jhama and the men there were not as gentle and caring as was the Irish woman.  Religion was scarce upon Barsoom since John Carter had destroyed the religion of the Therns and the one she met, Lakon, who was a friend to Eibhlin was far from the god-like beings that many thought.  Still she tried to pray for the safety of her owner-lover, though to what gods even she could not say.  Her only consolation was that Eibhlin had bribed a farmer to take her up the waterway to a farm where she would be safe until Eibhlin returned.

What Larena did not know was that Eibhlin had bribed the farmer to not only take care of the girl, but if she did not return, to encourage one of his sons to marry the former slave who held to her breast her papers of freedom.


The fliers landed, six of them, four from  Jahar, two from Kobol, the latter bearing only Panthans.  On the edge of the U-Gor Province Eibhlin could almost smell the moisture that had made this one of the most fertile regions on Barsoom.  She knelt and took a handful of the ochre soil, real soil and not dirt and smelled the fertility of the land.  Tul Axter should burn in the Barsoomian version of Hell for denuding this land. 

Battle-weary Red Men dragged themselves into the fliers to return home, men exhausted with killing and with them, the Panthans knew that they would win or loose for their own flier, their only means of escape, was lifting off with battered warriors, hopefully to return on the morrow.  One of her fellows came to her and said, “I see now why you carry so much ammunition.  Would you sell me a box or two?”

“Perhaps later I’ll trade you a box for a canteen of water.  But for now I think I’ll carry my own.”  Eibhlin drank thrice the water of a Red Man and that was rarely enough for her body, adapted to a world as wet as Earth where she would never be more than a mile from a stream of cool, pure water.

The companies formed along a line, each a dozen paces from the man on either side and at a command, they moved forward at a slow walk. 

The first haad or two was uneventful for the former soldiers had driven the savages back, but then a group rose from some rocks and surrounded one of the Panthans.  He fought well, killing three before his fellows could reach him and then the Panthans were alone as their Padwar, Ral Silvas yelled, “Reform that line!  Beware a feint!” and the line reformed, waiting as those who had killed the savages examined the bodies.  “Nothing Padwar!  Naked and not even a belt.  They look like they are animals holding a sword.  This should be easy.” 

“Were it that easy, then why is Jahar still seeking to take U-Gor after nearly fifty years?  You saw they whom we relieved, so stay awake and alert and expect worse than you were told.”

They moved forward again and a zode later Hermm called out, “Beware!  I see a savage waiting for us!”  Ral Silvas called a halt to the line and his order was passed down the line.  Eibhlin pulled her field glass and examined the creature.  It was a typical Red Man in build and form though totally naked.  Not naked as are the usual Red Man who wore little more than a harness to cover their loins and hold their weapons but the impression Eibhlin received was that this was an animal that only looked like a man.  While in California, she had read the stories about Burrough’s other, more famous hero, the Englishman who had been raised by apes in Africa, but all the reports of that happening in real life, of people raised by animals were far different.  They never recovered and were human in form only, their minds and instincts and emotions remaining that of the beasts who raised them.  This was the same.  No noble savage but an filth-encrusted animal who carried a naked sword only because it had seen enough humans carry one to know the value of such a tool.

It waited there, holding the blade, watching the line. Then it lifted its head and gave an eerie howl that made the short hairs on Eibhlin’s neck bristle.  Once, in Ireland in 1650 or so, she had been in the woods with her father, homeless after the British had burned their home in revenge, seeking a rabbit for their meal when she heard that sound.  Not a wolf, but wolfhounds gone feral and so having the instincts of the wolves they were bred to hunt but no longer seeing man as friend.  And so having no fear, were all the more dangerous.  “Padwar!” she called out, “Ready the line!”

Ral Silvas looked at her then another howl caused his to scream, “To arms! Form a square!  Muskets to the center, blades out!”

The men rushed to follow orders but the savages struck before they could make ready and some half dozen were dragged down by weight of numbers before they could fight back.  Eibhlin knew not the skills she had sought to hone only the hack and slash and a constant moving for those before her would engage, snarling and growling as they hacked without skill, then she would estann someone behind her and turning, kill the savage that was about to run her through the back, only to have to turn again to face her former opponents.  Slowly she fought her way to the rest who had managed, they who survived, to reach Ral Silvas and Lakon who was dealing death as the god he once was.  Lakon seemed to be singing, so happy was he to kill for now no one would argue at his killing the ‘lesser orders’.

Eventually, they formed a square but so closely were they pressed that none dared to take the time to pull revolver from holster or rifle from back.  A part of Eibhlin watched the dead…  Women and youths approached and began to tear at the bodies, Red Man and Savage with equal heed, consuming not only their foes but their own lovers as well.  Eibhlin wanted to be sick but was to busy to take the moments to even vomit at the sight. 

The savages had no skills, they simply stood before in a group and hacked and stabbed without purpose, spending most of their efforts on blocking her own thrusts and cuts until one could stab her from behind.  Thus, despite her superior skill and strength, she was on the defensive only, occasionally taking a precious second or two to reach over and cut or stab one savage who was seeking to work his way around one of her fellow Panthans.  And so the battle raged for hours until a hoard of monsters arrived over the ridge.


The first she saw were white men hacking away at children, cutting them like wheat, but then she realized that there were no children on Barsoom.  These were giants!  Easily eight to nine feet tall, confusing in perspective, the pair moved forward with three normal men following, dispatching the wounded and engaging they who sought to surround the small group.  Soon the savages broke and the Panthan army was too exhausted to follow.

Collapsing, Ral Silvas cried, “Arm muskets, count by threes, ONE!”



By the time the numbers reached Eibhlin she barely remembered to call out “Three!” and when the counting was done, a quarter of their number was silent.

“Ones on guard with rifles!  Shoot anything that appears to be a savage!  Twos on burial detail, threes rest!  We shift in half a zode.” Ral Silvas was shouting so Eibhlin sat and watched the giants speak to her Dwar as Ral Silvas walked, no staggered over to listen in.  The five new members collapsed as well giving Eibhlin and the others a chance to look them over as one of the giants came to sit next to Eibhlin.  “Greetings to you,” he said in a language it took Eibhlin a moment to recognize.  Spanglik! 

“You’re a Mon!” She replied.  Eibhlin had watched the _Conan_ movie in California with that Austrian weight-lifter in the lead role and these Mon would make him look skinny and fat.  Eibhlin supposed that a magnificent build was deemed necessary by the Demons in their soldiers for the War with the Kris.  As the Red Men had no heavy gravity to fight, none were as muscular or defined as even a well-built human and so all suffered in comparison with these giants.

Laughing he continued, his accent and dialect unfamiliar, “What else would I be?”  Some 650 years ago the Demons had abducted an English village and dumped them into Demon space ten thousand light years away.  Then the Diaspora happened and the Saxons left to become the Vanthi, the Christians formed the Holy Empire which started the Kris Wars against the Pagan Normans.  With the Wars going badly, the Demons changed the Normans into Mon, giant soldiers to fight the Christians of the Holy Empire.

“I didn’t know any of you were willing to take the time from the Kris Wars to come here and fight in this war?”

Confused, the giant answered, “The Kris Wars have been over for some three-quarters of a Century!  I thought you Drakonans were educated enough to know history?”

“Drakonis?” Then enlightenment.  “Oh, you’re from the future.  I’m from about 510 commonwealth year.”  Time travel was such a pile of sheep-shit at times.  Eibhlin was from the middle of the 17th century and thought that today, on Barsoom, it was sometime in the 21st century, Earth time but couldn’t be certain.

The Mon laughed again and called to his friend, “Harrold! This Weir is from the past!  She thinks the Kris Wars are still going on.”  Harrold laughed back and said something to the three dark-skinned people at his side who laughed too as if in jest.

“I said something funny?” she asked, too tired to even be angry.

“No, not at all.  It’s just that we have a Weir from your future in our company.  He’s out there somewhere with the rest of the company.”  Before she could query him further, he was called away and forced himself to his feet groaning, “I am so glad gravity here is so light. We’ve been in a running fight for two days without rest.”

Then, “Hey! Before you go, do you have anything to eat?  I’ve been eating Barsoomian food for three years and would kill for some mutton!”

The Mon laughed back and pulled a package from his pack, “Trail Rations.  Not good to the tongue but filling and nutritious.  Best I can do,” his deep voice boomed over his shoulder.

Eibhlin looked over the packages, each about 6’ x 3” x 1” and struggled to read the writing.  As best she could decipher, you tore the wrapping, ate the insides, turned the wrapper inside out and ate that for roughage.  She had opened the first one as was eating it ravenously with a moan when Lakon sat next to her.  “What is that?”

She moaned again and said, “Heaven!  Mon have the same biology as do I so this food here is made for us.  A couple years ago I would have refused to eat it but today, Ambrosia wouldn’t taste as good.”

“Mon?  I gather that our visitors are aliens too?  What brings so many of you to my world?”

“I never thought to ask him.  The two giants are Mon, Jasoomians who were changed by Demons to be soldiers as I was changed to be a technical slave.  I never saw the olive-skinned ones before though that Mon claims that there is another Weir with them.  Probably my Nephew has returned to fetch me home.”  Jason, no Janice had left Barsoom to return the Earth scientists to their home and promised to come back to fetch her.  It was time, she thought, to return home.

“Whatever brings them here, I’m glad they arrived when they did.  My sword arm was getting tired.”  He held his hand, received a bit of the bar and after tasting, spat it out, “How can you eat this thoat-dung?”

“Now you know what I taste when I eat your food.” She replied, finishing the bar and forcing herself to eat the wrapper.  It wasn’t half-bad.

When she was finished, she was placed on guard duty and stood on a large rock with a short rifle in hand, her revolver loosened in its holster as she scanned the terrain with her field glass.  The Red Men were dragging the savages to a nearby crater and tossing them within without ceremony while others were digging a trench in a gully to bury their dead comrades.  Eibhlin watched them do a religious service then pile rocks over the bodies and then lay a number of radium bullets under another layer of rocks. Any savage that tried to dig those bodies out would ignite the rounds and suffer dangerous and hopefully fatal injuries.

The newcomers were still talking to her Dwar, too far away to understand the words but it was clear that they were allies, for now so when Ral Silvas approached, she did another scan of the area and listened to him speak to the group.  “These.. aliens are Panthans as are we, hired to clean out U-Gor.  It appears that the Jeddak of Jahar grows tired of loosing his own people so would rather hire foreigners to die for him.  Regardless of who they are, they are her for the same reason we are, to kill the savages.  BUT, one thing that Jahar never mentioned, U-Gor extends into the Torquas Basin and that is often patrolled by Green Men so beware of this new danger.”  He moved off to tell what he knew to others as Eibhlin thought that he was a good officer to keep his men informed and listen to suggestions but not afraid to take command.

Later, when her shift was over, the burial duties were over and Eibhlin moved to talk to the aliens.  If Jason or Janice were here, she wanted to see him.  At the least, they had a ship and could easily reach Earth.

Before she could reach them, Ral Silvas called her over, “Avleen Oobreen!  Take Lakon and head east seeking the remainder of the alien company.  I’d like to spare more and hate loosing you two but if I must, you two have the best chance of survival.  Hide over engagement.  Don’t worry about killing savages as they will come to us for that.  Just sneak in, try to find the others and sneak back alive.”

“Why us?” Lakon asked he followed Eibhlin from rock to rock, she looking around before she moved.

“Doubtless he knows of my past on Jasoom where I did just this when I fought the British in Ireland.  Or maybe he is trying to get rid of the non Red-Men to ease tensions in the company.  The Red Men are resenting so many aliens, including you.  Keep down until you are certain that there is no one around.”

“Why this way?” he asked.  “You move as if you had a purpose.”

“My kind can feel the presence of another of our race.  That is how Jason knew to seek me in that valley.  I feel that there is someone in this direction.”

They moved on in silence until Lakon whispered, “here!”

Approaching his position, she saw an egg nearly three feet long hiding between some rocks for warmth.  “Do you think it’s human?” she asked.  Everything on Barsoom save one shrew-like mammal laid eggs.

“Only one way to find out.”  He motioned her forward.

Eibhlin looked around then drew her short sword and struck the egg which opened immediately.  Just as immediately, she lost her lunch when she saw what exited the ruin.  A child, it couldn’t be more than five years or so it looked, bleeding from her blow with umbilical cord still attached to a small reddish-yellow yolk sac.

Lakon looked at her then finished the job, killing the child with one thrust.  “You never saw one of ours like this?” He knew how humans reproduced but unlike Eibhlin, didn’t feel it in his soul. 

Wiping her mouth, she tried to not look at the body.  “no.  I saw the eggs in the incubators but… it’s so like a human child.”

“Without parents and family to socialize, it is just another beast.  We should search for more.  Most lower orders are territorial and lay all their eggs in one area.”

“I can’t.  You must do it.”

Giving her a look of disgust, the Thern moved around, searching and occasionally thrusting his sword into a crevice.  Eibhlin hoped he was human enough to not eat the children he was murdering. She knew that as a god he had done so, seeing roasted humans from eggs to be a delicacy.  She repressed that thought with her stomach and moved apart from the ruin.

Lakon returned, his blade clean and commented, “We should move on before their mothers return.  Doubtless they shall consume what I have left.”  Eibhlin vomited again knowing that he had said that only to get a rise from the alien who he saw as related to the cause of his religion’s extinction.

They moved on, guided by Eibhlin’s ‘feeling’ that the others that they sought were ‘that way’.  “Strange,” she said, “Usually I could pinpoint Jason or Janice almost exactly.  This is different, just  a feeling.”  Perhaps her intimacy with the other gave her more to detect, though why now?  Distance?  Or the horrors she had seen were dulling her senses?

“At least we won’t get lost,” the Thern commented.

“Lost?”  She stopped.  “Haven’t you been keeping track of our path?”

Looking around he pointed, “I recognize that rock and think I can get us back from there.  You focus on where we are to go, I’ll remember how to get back.  It would be ironic for me to be consumed by these savages after centuries of dining on them.”  The man had a dry wit about him Eibhlin thought.

Fortunately, they found no more eggs but they did occasionally see a hunting savage, naked and filthy and stalking like an animal.  One was sneaking up on another which he ran through from behind and then began to feed as its mate came forward to join in.  The two Panthans snuck up and killed them both then moved on.

Another time the spotted a couple hunting and Eibhlin led Lakon to set an ambush where the two savages lay bleeding soon after.  “I find this form of killing to be not honorable,” he said as he wiped the blood from his blade.

“I fought like this for years in Ireland.  We were always outnumbered and outgunned so had to fight the best we could.  Come!”  And they walked on.

It was nearing dark when they found the others, moving across the field from rock to rock.  “That’s not Jason or Janice.  She has strawberry hair and he light-brown while that man had black hair.”

“Is you entire planet moving to Barsoom?  Rather from descriptions of your world, we should trade.” The Thern commented.

“At least we haven’t seen any savages for zode or more,” she offered, a zode being about two and a half hours.  She then tossed a rock to get their attention and as they froze then ducked, she waved her hand.  The others looked around and then approached, their leader, a Vanthi, hairy and blonde in his Barsoomian harness crying quietly, “Who are you?  And what of the rest of our troop?”

“Safe, at least the two Mon and three dark-skinned men are.  We are sent to find you.”  Eibhlin explained as they looked over the three.   She had lived for years in Vanthi space so the Saxons were no stranger to her.  Lakon, though, was entranced by their blonde hair, heavily braided beards and chest hair thick as a rug.  Aside from the Yellow Men of the North, all Barsoomians were beardless and bare of chest.  The third was a Weir, and not Jason.  Obviously younger, darker of hair that looked almost blue in its blackness and with the build of an athlete, but not as well as the Mon, he smiled at her, appraising the Irish woman in a manner that wasn’t insulting but appreciative.

Looking around the Vanthi leader said, “I am Alric Thorsson, this is Sebbi Shieldbittr and Ras Muras of Sothis.  What are your names?”  Vanthi rarely mentioned their homes to outsiders so it was interesting that he mentioned the Weir’s home.  Obviously they didn’t consider him to be one of them.

“I am the Princess Eibhlin Ingean Ui Bhrian of Ireland and this is my companion, Lakon of the Otz Valley.  Is there some place safe for the night?”

“As safe as can be any place in this infested locale.  We’ve cleaned out most of the savages in this area but that usually means that more will move in and take over.  Still, there is a crater and cave over there that is as safe as anyplace.  We can talk there.”

The Saxon led them to a nearby hill that they climbed easily though Lakon needed help, “Stop pulling my tail or you’ll tear it off,” Eibhlin admonished.  He was clinging to that member as he struggled to climb.  Like Red Men, the Therns were poor climbers but for a race that had been in space for centuries like the Vanthi or who had been engineered for climbing around a starship, the rise was as a walk in the park.

“Let me assist,” Ras commented, extending his own tail to the Thern who took the thicker member with some disguised gratitude.   And soon they were at the top and inside the shallow crater where they were led to a cave hidden in the wall.

“We think that this was a natural cave created by a meteor impact that was dug out by some animal.  Still it is large enough for us all and hidden form view.  And if the savages are no better at climbing than your companion, we will be safe here tonight.  So we eat, drink and tell stories through the night.”

“Can I speak to you outside,” Eibhlin asked the other Weir.

“Of course.  Captain, I’ll be outside but within the rim.”

“Be certain to remember details,” the Vanthi laughed as he opened a bottle of beer that the Thern tasted then spat out.  “All the more for us!” Alric commented.

“I was never comfortable around Vanthi.  They treat their women like possessions.” Eibhlin commented, then outside under the further moon, she sat, wrapped her furs around herself  and asked, “Did Jason or Janice send you to fetch me?”

“I don’t know who you are talking about.  I’m a Vartanian Mercenary recruited on Sothis after the Third Shitai War.  You said you were from Ireland?  The last I heard that planet was still be terra-formed.”

“No, Ireland on Earth.  When were you taken by the Demons.  I never heard of any country called Sothis, but then, I’m from the 17th century and we didn’t know a lot abut the rest of the world.”

“Now I’m confused.”  He replied.

Seeing that, she laughed, “Now I understand.  In my time your Barony didn’t exist and most of Demon Space was under control of the Holy Empire of God in Christ.  The pagan Mon and the Demons were fighting the Christians and the Vanthi were still pirates.  So you, like my nephew, are from the future.

“I suppose that I should give you my story.  I was born in Ireland  on Earth in 1635 and taken by the Demons and made into this form when I was killed by the British in 1653.  They released me from their slavery, gave me a Vanthi starship and I have been traveling the last twenty years since searching for others of my kind.  Just a few months ago I met my nephew, Jason who was also a Weir and he told me about Drakonis.  I visited Earth, my Vanthi lover left me and I came her to forget her and an trapped.  Jason rescued some American scientists and returned them to Earth promising to fetch me when he could but that was a couple weeks ago and I suppose it is too soon for his return.”

He handed her a bottle of wine which, not being Barsoomian, she sucked at greedily as he began.  “I was born in the Barony of Drakonis on Sothis which is on the frontier.  Shortly before I was eighteen, the Shitai invaded, we were evacuated and after the war, returned to rebuild.  I disliked being a farmer and when the Vartanians arrived seeking soldiers for their Mercenary armies, I enlisted and have been fighting for them the last three years.   We took a contract on Barsoom to exterminate the savages of U-Gor and have been fighting these last months, though to be honest, I think that they breed faster than we can kill them.  Plus the Green Men are to the east and they are always a danger.”  He was playing with her hair as she drank his wine until she pushed him away.

“Is that all you Weir think about?  A woman is more than a womb to slake your lust.  I’m a person and besides I prefer women.”

“I’m sorry.  But it has been a long time since I was with a woman of my own race, three years in fact and I tire of aliens.  I forgot that you aren’t born this way or you’d know.”

“Yes, I know.” She snapped in a sarcastic tone, “Weir are accommodating and will bed anyone of either gender that they wish. You are all like rabbits!  But I’m different.  Just because this body needs a man occasionally, I still want a woman.  And I like to be romanced.  So either sit with me as a friend or return to your comrades.”

Relenting, they sat for awhile watching the stars and the further moon until Eibhlin asked, “I know Mon technology and Vanthi as well, both being far above this world.  So why not just scan and kill the Savages from orbit?”

“Non interference policy.  When we Merc, we agree to use local technology only.  I think that is why the Vartanians gave up war, their technology grew too great and they risked the destruction of entire systems with a single thought.  So they gave up war but Merc out express their more aggressive instincts.”

“Oh.  You’ve done this long?”

“Since I was eighteen.  Three years I think.    I prefer this level of war.  All that push-button conflict where the Demons turn a star into a supernova from a dozen light years away by touching a button seems to be a waste and… horrible.  At least here I can see the people who I am killing and they have a chance to defend themselves.”

The nearer moon appeared over the distant horizon and sped across the sky.  The twin moons of Barsoom were in an eccentric orbit so could be seen from a greater latitude than if they were orbiting the equator as on earth, still, at nearly 55 degrees south, they were far to the north and were the two on the bottom of the crater, both moons would be invisible.

“Beautiful!” Ras commented.  “We have two moons on Sothis too but neither are this low and beautiful.”  He began to recite; 

“A Poet could have a volume this sight, 
Their lunar faces shining bright
Speeding across the darkened sky
 My heart races to pursue.”

Eibhlin stared at him, “You’re a poet?”

“Not really, but my grandparents were from Japan and Haiku is learned early, though I am far from good.”

“Do one about me,” she asked, sipping from his bottle, her lips suddenly tingling.

He looked at her then began:

 “Foreign woman with ebony braids
 Round face like the further moon
 Not the man she pretends to be
  But beautiful in her own right.”

“Damn!  You win.  I’m ready now.”

He laughed, caressing her cheek with his tail tip.  “What if I want to be romanced?”

Laughing, Eibhlin undid the silk covering her breasts, “These are all the romance a man needs. But I’m freezing here, lay your furs on the ground and crawl under mine.”

Later, their tails caressing each other, she whispered, “I still prefer women but, well that was nice.  And it’s good that I don’t have to fear breaking you.  I did that once last year, I waited too long and in my Need I hurt the man servicing me.”

He lay his fingers to her lips and said, 

“Shhh, just lay here, watching the stars, 
Passions stilled for the moment
Your hair like perfume to my soul
Our hearts beating in tune.”

“My God, keep that up and you’ll have to keep this up all night,” she commented sitting upon him to find him still ready.  Jason was like that, she thought as she slid down, feeling his length, sometimes never growing soft, sometimes ready only seconds after. 

They were woken as the sun rose over the crater wall by Lakon who asked, “Did you two get any sleep last night?”

Yawning, she replied, “Not much but then, I’m feeling really good right now so abuse me at your own peril.”  She then kissed her lover, no not her lover, just someone to … something to… It was more than physical.  She felt … She hadn’t felt like this since Kevin.  He was from 20th century Nevada and human and she sometimes feared hurting him in their passion but he actually cared for her and her feelings and needs as much as he did his wife Cyndi.  Those were fun years together, almost a three-way marriage with each enjoying the others equally.  Eibhlin often wondered what they did after they left her ship all those years ago.  She had tried to prepare them for space and even bought them their own smaller ship then… they were gone.  They all were gone.  Kara, Cyndi & Kevin, Chlareissah, they all left her.  Maybe even Larena had married one of the farmer’s sons she had been sent to.  Feeling sad, she asked, “Lakon, can we have a few minutes please?”

He nodded and left as she woke Ras, “Love me again, please.  Gently.”  This time it took only minutes, both knowing that they had to leave and focusing their attention on the act.  She hadn’t intended to but she climaxed with him which was a surprise and clutching him to her, she shuddered and relaxed.  “That was nice but we have to go.”

“I know.”

“Please, not another poem or we’ll be here all day.”

He lifted his weight and reached for her harness and weapons first, then his own and then dressed, rolled their furs and caught up to the others who were fast reaching the summit of the crater. 

“Shhh,” Alric pointed to the east where, hidden by the rising sun they barely made out a line of green. 

“Raiding party!” Lakon commented.  “Torquas reaching into U-Gor for booty or more likely savages to torture.  We should wait until they are gone.”

Nodding, all save Lakon were below the summit, he remaining to watch the Green Men.  It did give the Weir a chance to eat their missed breakfast, Eibhlin enjoying the field rations she was offered.  “If you had been eating what this planet has to offer for three years, you’d kill for these food bars yourself.”

“Then,” Sebbi laughed, “Hel and Woden grant that I never stay here that long.”

A quarter zode later Lakon called, “I think it is safe now.  I’d rather face an army of savages over a single Green Man.”

Ras laughed at this, “We spent a week fighting their space-faring relatives once.  THAT was terrifying and we lost half our company.  These are nothing.”

“You never met one face-to-face as did I when I arrived here.  They may be thinner than the Green Pirates I fought before but they are every bit as dangerous and terrifying.”

Carefully and quietly they moved to the west, trusting Lakon to lead them to their comrades.  Twice they hid from a large number of savages also heading west as Alric stated, “They are massing for an attack, otherwise they’d never band thus.  Our main duty is to get back alive and warn the others.  Being killed and eaten here will do noon any good if that mob pushes on.”

Once they were discovered and as the savage raised its face to howl its discovery, Eibhlin cut him in half with her beamer.  Then they ran, having to slow for the humans had not the lung power of the Thern despite their greater strength.

“Should we split up, hoping one will get through?” Ras asked.

“No,” Alric replied.  “Our small group is as easily hidden as a single man and if discovered, we can defend each other.”

At a rest while Eibhlin and Ras panted, “I recall watching war vids on Sothis from Terra.  At times like this someone always remains behind to guard the rear so that the rest could get through and warn their comrades.”

“I watched those too in Los Angeles.” Eibhlin replied.  “And in Ireland we did the same, sacrificing ourselves for the group.  BUT, my dear Ras, WE were fighting to free our country from invaders.  Here, we are fighting for gold and I’m not willing to throw away my life for that.  Nation and family, yes, but not strangers who would desert me and us to save a few coins.  Leave your noble values for those who have earned them.”  “Was I ever that young, she asked herself.

Another battle broke out then they rounded a hillock and Lakon bumped into a savage, both falling backward though Lakon recovered first, slashing the beast’s throat to prevent a cry.  Before he could rise, the rest had passed him and attacked the group following the savage and soon, covered with blood, they were standing amongst the dead.

“I hear a howl!” Eibhlin said. “We’ve been discovered.”

“Then we run!  If we can, remain in a group for anyone who lags behind risks us all!” And he took off at a gallop.

Lakon easily took the lead, his body adapted for Barsoom’s climate but the rest soon were sweating, panting and Sebbi collapsed from heat-stroke and dehydration.

Alric drained his canteen, popped a stimulant pill and pulled his comrade to his own back and staggered on, none of the group willing to leave them behind.  Alric’s example had forced all to that loyalty Ras Muras espoused.

They had to rest.  Save the Thern, none had the lungs to breath the thin Barsoomian air at a run. Save the Thern, none could cross that desert without more water than they possessed.  As to why Lakon remained with them when he could easily have left them, he did not say.  They were simply grateful that the former god was there for when the savages attacked, he was first to meet the hoard. 

“Take the high ground,” Alric croaked, “make the savages work for their meal.”

Exhausted, and near death from lack of water and heat and sun, the others pulled revolvers and emptied their cylinders into the onrushing beasts.  With every round, a savage fell, a large hole in his breast.  Lakon dealt death with every cut with every thrust a savage fell but still they came on.

Catching his breath, Alric pulled buckles at shoulder and belt to release a massive blade.  Two inches wide and four feet long, this was  a weapon made to cleave armor and before the it slim steel of the Red Man was as a fencing foil.  Planting his feet, he took his great sword in both hands and swung and when the arc was ended, he spun and swung again, his blade moving in a figure-8, his upper body twisting from right to left his great belly threatening to strain his belts to their limit..  And against that engine of destruction, nothing could stand.  Bodies and parts of bodies were thrown by the force of his strength, far greater than any Red Man. 

Eibhlin faced her own foes with her Demon blade, the metal honed to a near molecular edge and she cut bodies and limbs as if they were paper.  Ras stood by her side with his Barsoomian long sword in one hand, his short sword in the other.  For what the Earthmen, or rather their descendents lacked in Lakon’s skill, they made up in raw strength. 

Then as the group were certain that they were dead, the savages pulled back.  Perhaps they found the nightmare of they who opposed them to be too monstrous to face.  Perhaps some savages backed off from fear and that fear was contagious.  Perhaps some saw the dead an easier meal than the living and that idea spread.  Whatever the reason, the savages backed away, dragging bodies and parts of bodies to consume alone or in groups as their mates crawled forth to share in the bounty. 

Alric leaned on his great sword, notched from contact with the Forundus steel of the savages but far too heavy to be broken and looked at the Thern, barely standing.  “Thern!  Woden Himself watched this battle and when you die, he will escort you himself to Valhalla.”

“Is Valhalla your heaven?” was the reply.

“Certainly it is.  And a better place does not exist.  The dead fight all day and feast all night to fight the next day.”

“Then, my hairy white comrade, I think I shall pass for right now I am too tired to fight and were I to move this thin blade, I would surely fall to the ground to be consumed by yonder beasts.”

“Suit yourself.  But Odin watched you anyway. Though,” he laughed, “As hairless as you are, beware the feasts lest you be mistaken for a woman and bent over a table and violated before the truth be known.”

Laughing despite himself, the Thern replied, “You aliens are a disgusting lot.  But I am proud to have fought with you at my side.”

Ras Muras checked his revolver then replaced it into its holster, “No more bullets.  I believe the rest are the same else they would not have dropped the weapons and drawn steel.”

“I think that I have killed more men today than in my entire life.” Eibhlin added.  Then smelling her armpit, added again, “I need a hot bath and a lot of soap.”  Then looking at the gruesome feast, asked, “Do you think they will let us go?”

“Go if you wish, “Lakon replied,” but I am near death myself and cannot walk a dozen paces.”

Pulling her medical kit she had been using to treat the wounds of Ras and herself, she approached the Thern, “None seem life-threatening.  Let me treat you and I’ll carry you back.”

“A God upon the back of a lesser being and a woman at that!” He was indignant but allowed her to treat his wounds.  “Rather will I remain here and die.”

“Men!” she replied with considerable disgust.  “You Therns are like the Vanthi, seeing a woman as just a toy.  Well, I killed as many as did you and can carry you further now than you could carry me if you were in your prime.”

Taking her hand, Ras Muras kissed her knuckles and said, “We Weir value women as equals and I know that without you here today, they would dine upon us and not each other.  I will carry the Thern if you will carry my gear.”

“Then we go!” said Alric, and lifting Sebbi with a groan, they moved on away from the savages who glared but ceased not in their feasting.

Passing past one group of filthy savages, male and female, eating one of the dead that they had dragged apart from the others, Alric said as the things growled at him, “Truly are these animals, for a man would not allow us to leave after the slaughter of so many of their fellows.  I was wrong, Woden cares not for Warriors who kill a herd of beasts.”

Zodes later they arrived at the Line which had advanced haads in their absence.  “Beware, the savages mass.  Hold the line and ready for a battle that will chill even the Valkyries.”

There was no attack that day, nor the next so Eibhlin found a spring, dug a pool and shared the find with Ras, the Vanthi and even the Mon who also missed a bath.  The three olive skinned men were Kentaurans, former Celts who had moved to that the desert world of Kentaurus and so felt at home on Barsoom, laughing at the Weir and Mon’s desire to soak in precious water.

Eibhlin and Ras slept together those two nights and Eibhlin found that good sex DID make her wounds heal faster for by the time he was called with his company to another part of U-Gor, her tail was almost completely healed.  She kissed the man and whispered, “In my forty-five years of life there have been only two men that I called lover, you are the third. I’ll miss you.”

“My dear, though I am barely twenty-two, I will treasure those words for the next five-hundred years.  Hopefully when this is over, we will meet again.”

Eibhlin watched him and his troop leave, then she made certain she had plenty of ammunition, her sword was ready and her beamer working.  Then she bathed again, filled her stomach and canteen and approached the Line which the savages were approaching.  The Vartanians would flank the savages then push deeper into U-Gor as would her company, once this battle was done.

The Savages attacked in numbers the next day and the fighting lasted a day and a half-without break. It took another three days to bury the bodies and the howls of the banths and calots that dug them up prevented sleep for another week. 


Eibhlin’s company moved forward to the city.  The map showed it to be U-Gor, the capital of the province built on a bay overlooking the Torquas Ocean then following the receding waters to the rich fertile seabed where farms had spread.  The map indicated that the seabed was so rich and damp that waterways were unnecessary and watering rare.

The Map showed that the western part of U-Gor was mountainous which was why it was so difficult to totally exterminate the savages.  They simply had too many places to hide.  But the map also showed that the eastern part that stretched into the seabed was mostly flat or rolling which gave anyone or anything ample room to raid if they choose.

What the map did NOT show was that all of U-Gor east of this city was roamed by the Green Hoard of Torquas, unrestrained since the fall of the Province during the reign of Tul Axter.  The map also did not show how many times this city had been retaken by Jahar, only to be lost to the teeming hoards of savages or the Torquas Hoards, both of whom found that Jahar would not garrison the city adequately enough to defend it.  Privately Eibhlin wondered why they didn’t?  With a little work, U-Gor could be returned to her former glory but none of the Jeddaks of Jahar would spend the resources to do so.  They would send in armies of their own and armies of Panthans to exterminate the savages but then deny the new colonists the military protection they needed to save them from the Green Men of Torquas or the savages that escaped the exterminations and rebred to their former numbers.

The flier landed in the central square of U-Gor, capital city of the province of U-Gor, a square that overlooked the bay, now dry and deep.  To the east the city ended at the walls that held off the Torquas.  To the west and south, the mountains were enough protection from the Green Hoards but not the savages who had the intelligence of a man and the ferocity of an animal but lacking the socialization of either.  The savages had no language, no culture, nothing but their filth and the swords they carried.  Even their mates carried blades though they rarely took part in the fighting, preferring to allow the males to fight, then trading sex for food and later hiding their eggs where they would not be found by animals or their own fathers.

Ral Silvas called out, “House to house!  Enter carefully, clear the place, watch your backs and when clear, seal the building and move on.”

And so the fighting began anew.  U-Gor was large, dozens of haads across and with villas in the foothills.  No one could retake this city with less than a hundred thousand men.  No one could hold it with less than a million.  What they needed was to move the Line of men northeast over the mountains at a walking pace to clean out everyone.  Then a second line to catch those savages that had hidden from the first and kill them before they hit the first Line from the rear.  Then a third and a fourth to keep catching those the previous lines missed.

At the same time, they needed an army to land in the major cities to take those and give a stable base of operations and a nearby place to recover and rest with lots of ammunition and enough fliers to evacuate everyone when the cities fell and the Lines were overrun.

But fifty years later, or more, Jahar still was rebuilding from the War with Helium and could do little more than keep the savages in check.

Touching a door, Eibhlin estanned something within.  Nodding to her companion who had also felt the occupation by that Barsoomian telepathic ability they possessed, she pushed the door open and jumped aside as the thing within, a large ulsio this time, jumped out and ran off before it could be killed.  “Damn!” She swore.  “This place has more rats than savages.  No wonder the ancients hung their beds from chains.” The Martian rat could not climb.  She looked within and called, “Another of them, but the ulsios got to it first!”  By now she had lost all consideration for the things that walked like men.  She almost left but something made her glance again.  “Hermm!  His head is cloven.  He was murdered.  And not too long ago by the stink.”  Both knew that this wasn’t bait for the rats for not even a hungry savage would eat an ulsio when there was fresh meat striding by.

They searched the building more carefully after that, surviving only because of that care, for when Hermm passed through a doorway, shining his torch about, Eibhlin screamed as a blade moved in the darkness, the torchlight reflecting off the shiny Forundus Steel that not even age and lack of care could dim.  The Red Man reacted instantly, deflecting then stabbing to kill the savage behind the door.

“Thanks!  I’d be in his belly had you not warmed me.”

“Look at that, he’s so stuffed he can barely move.  Shhh!”  the howl of the hunting creatures penetrated the building and both said, “Damn!” at the same time as they swept the room with the torch then ran for the outside.

The savages didn’t wait for numbers, they simply rushed in to kill and eat, or die tryig, so at first the fighting was easy.  The savages had no skill and died as easily as any man, though they just kept coming, starvation making them desperate.   The Panthans retreated to a building where they could hold the door and windows then a whistle made each duck as a bomb from the flier high overhead fell among the savages.  Looking out at the carnage Lakon commented with his strange and dry humor, “I think we found a way to kill them.  Let us be the bait to trap them in a field and as they are killing and eating us, the Navy bombs them.”  No one laughed.

For the rest of the day they searched but no others were found.  Either the fliers floating overhead had scared them all off or the bomb had killed the last.  Regardless, the flier landed, offloaded food and drink and lifted off again to resume its overhead watch.  The Panthans took over a small hostel, barricaded the doors and windows, searched carefully then relaxed and enjoyed a good meal and, for them, decent wines until one by one they set sentries and drifted to sleep.

Eibhlin dreamt of Kara. She was Vanthi, a Saxon descended human whose ancestors had been taken by the Demons shortly after the Norman Conquest and unlike the Mon or Weir or Kentaurans, the Vanthi had remained human, though even the women were nearly six feet tall. Eibhlin had met her when a Vanthi ship caught hers and demanded to know who she was and what she was doing in one of their ships. The difference between a Vanthi Merchant and a Vanthi Pirate is the number of guns you both have. So Eibhlin explained the situation, how she, in  Demon Service (A polite way of saying ‘slave’) had found it drifting, damaged and when the Demons boarded, the people on board attacked them and were killed. Eibhlin did have a vid of the event and her new registration signed by the Vanthi Navy and when they saw it, they backed off for no one wants to upset the Demons. And as the ship had been taken as a Lawful Prize, the surviving previous owners had lost all rights to it and it was, legally, hers now.  Pirates understood that concept. The Mairayd was once Vanthi until captured and now was Eibhlin’s… until Some Vanthi was able to take it back.  Eibhlin could see the other ship considering the odds then give up the thought.

So Eibhlin visited the Vanthi base and met Kara.

Kara wasn’t gay, but willing to try to be an equal opportunity lover in return for a chance to be a Captain of a ship, for to the Vanthi, women are at best, second-class citizens.  Also, she was bored with the men on her ship and their constant pounding away at her hips. She wanted someone gentle and Eibhlin’s tail fascinated her as it did most women. So for a few months they were lovers, spending more time in bed than on the flight deck. But Kara had tired of the Alien and hated being a lesbian which she saw as a perversion  and they separated, she to explore the Earth which she had only read about in history books and Eibhlin to visit Barsoom and an endless procession of rented slaves. 

Kara was on top of her, kissing her neck and ear-lobes but somehow ignoring her breasts. Then she slid a phallus into her and began the slow thrusting that Eibhlin enjoyed.  Eibhlin climaxed quickly and easily, an unintentional gift of the Demons and that woke her to see Ral Silvas on top of the Irish-woman. Inside her.  Panicking, she almost broke his neck for raping her in her sleep but her next climax was there so Eibhlin closed her eyes, held his ankles with her tarsial feet, clutched his heaving ass and, with her eyes closed, screamed Kara’s name as she pretended it was her Vanthi lover. Finally he shuddered, came, filling her with his hot wetness and as Eibhlin’s final climax ebbed, she whispered in his ear, “Get off and never do that again or I’ll cut your dick off.” 

He did, quickly and avoided her the rest of the day, terrified of the strength she had shown in her feet and hands and tail, strength that could easily complete her promise.

Ral Silvas avoided her the rest of the day and she him.  Deep within U-Gor, times were harsh.  All knew that Eibhlin and the other Weir, Ras Muras had been lovers even though they had net only hours before their first session and the Red Men had an unkind word for Free Women who acted like that.  And Eibhlin’s Need for regular sex and her desire for women had made her infamous. It also made the more stupid of the mercenaries think that all she needed was a good man to teach her the value of a penis over a vagina.  Unfortunately, the company had drunk too much of the wine that the flier had offloaded with their meals and Ral Silvas had drunk more than he should have.  That drunken binge almost cost him his life.

Still, Eibhlin was angry. The fact that she had been drunk herself was no consolation to her.


It was days later, days of searching, killing the occasional savage that they headed into the seabed.  The savages had an uncanny ability to hide and strike from behind when you were certain that you were alone.  All Barsoomians were telepathic, the savages had honed that to an art of cloaking their presence and detecting their prey.  And that ability took its toll on the Panthans who daily lost someone.  Usually they were able to recover the body and kill his attacker… usually.  It was when someone failed to report or simply vanished that they knew they’d find only gnawed bones.

Sometimes Eibhlin wished that the Vanthi, the Mon and the Weir Ras were with her for their size and strength would be an asset.  Other times she wondered if they were still alive for she had heard nothing of them since they left.

“Look at  it this way,” Ral Silvas joked.  “Between the savages and the Green Men. There isn’t enough out here to hide behind so we’ll see them long before they shove a fork into your liver!”  No one laughed. It had been just too rough too long.

They followed the road into the seabed farms. Once rich cropland, now eaten down to the roots.  Kneeling, she shoved her dagger into the soil and it came up rich dark-red.  Even she could tell that this alien soil would grow trees from a dropped toothpick if it were given a chance.  Now all that was here was the thick Seabed-Moss and the broken fences and the occasional empty and destroyed house.  They entered one, found nothing but bones in the oven and Lakon commented, “The savages broke in here to consume the family that farmed this land.  See how the screens that foil gorthans are in place but rent!  They must have died early in the famine for they were cooked, not eaten raw.”  No one laughed. 

Eibhlin  thought he was wrong for that would have been a century before and something would have dragged the bones away long ago.  No, something else was here, recently. Something that ate the flesh of man but preferred it cooked. Something that was still civilized enough to know how to use an oven.  That thought made her skin crawl.

Eibhlin was poking around the house and nearby lands seeking something to explain those cooked bones when Lakon came up to ask, “You are thinking the same as we, that either the savages are developing some civilized abilities but not giving up their savagery or that some civilized people are out there who have sunk to savagery but retain their civilized skills of killing, either of which is dangerous to us.”

“I am,” she admitted.  Then finding nothing, no tracks of a thoat, no marks of a landing flier, no footprints of a man, gave up and looked overhead.  “We have only one moon on Jasoom.  Huge and majestic and beautiful.  Poets write about that moon, friends become lovers under that moon.  And here you have two of them. 

“When I was a young girl in Ireland, I dreamed about some handsome prince or knight rescuing me, marrying me and returning me to wealth and position.

 “I remember reading about the adventures of john Carter and his friends when I lived in Los Angeles, that’s a city next to an ocean of water in the nation of America.  Somehow, there was always a princess in peril and a hero willing to overcome all odds to rescue her until they fell in love.   I’ve been on your world for some three years  and so far *I* am always the princess but no one rescues me.  I do all the rescuing and gain no one.  Why can’t life be like the romance novels?”

“You wish some handsome prince to rescue and marry you?”  he asked.

“Well,” she laughed, “Right now I wish for a beautiful Princess to accomplish that goal.  Despite my dalliances with my nephew Jason and Ras, I still prefer women.”

“I’ve had thousands of women as playthings in Dor and even a few I cared deeply for.  But they all ended up the same.”  He saw her look and continued, “You seem surprised that I could feel affection for someone of the lower orders?  Well, once I loved a Red Woman.  I braved my own faith to love her and I protected her from harm for nearly a century.” He stared at the moons.

“What happened?”

“The Goddess Issus became angry at my perversion and ordered her to be the main course at the next dinner.”  He shrugged.  “I learned my lesson.  I am a Thern and so may marry only Thern women of which there are too few.  You are a .. whatever you are… and you should seek love among your own kind, not among Red Woman slaves or Jasoomian women or whatever aliens you meet in your travels.”

Stomping her foot, Eibhlin cried in anger, “I find your attitude to be cynical.  The Heart knows what the heart wants and race or gender matter not to a heart in love.”

“That is why you are here dreaming of your alien Kara or Jasoomian Jean but bedding that slave girl or that Ras Muras male or any slave boy when you claim you need sex?  We call that adultery even if you are not properly married.  You are as much a pervert as you accuse me to be.”  He wasn’t angry but he was amused and Eibhlin realized that he was playing with her.  Still, she wanted to kill him on the spot for his words which cut too close to her own feelings.

“Doubtless,” she struck back, “You have admiration for these savages who eat humans as you did before John Carter abolished your religion, killed your goddess and cast you from heaven to earth.”

She could estann the thoughts in his mind fighting for release. Thoughts about her being alone because no one could stand to be around her for long. Thoughts about Kara and Jean and the others leaving her.  Thoughts about her being here because her rutting ways had destroyed her career in Ptarth.  His face almost released those words but then, he smiled and answered, “Divinity is a difficult cloak to wear.  And even gods die in their own time.”  Then he walked away, the better of the two for his refusal to speak his thoughts.

As always they placed sentries about and when the sun rose, one was missing.  All knew that no one deserted this far into U-Gor so they didn’t even look for the bones but packed up and moved on.  Upon the march, someone was always sweeping the horizon and nearby hidey holes with their field glass but they never saw anyone.  “The beasts and savages hole up in the sunlight, coming forth in the dark to hunt.” Ral Silvas commented to his company, now half their original number.

Near the edge of the lands they thought denoted the border of U-Gor the seabed became rocky with a series of those impact craters that the Red Men called ‘valleys’, the Padwar called a halt.  “It’s getting late and we must find a secure place to remain until daylight. Down here, the savages are too wiley.  This time we watch in groups of three.  No fires and keep your torches ready but closed. If there is a sound, full power to blind whatever approaches.”

Eibhlin sought out Lakon for though they were at odds, each recognized that their best chance for survival was  the other.  Who their third was mattered not.

Another day on the seabed found the advance party rushing back.  “An army is out there!” they announced as the rest of the company readied their weapons that hadn’t left their hands in weeks.  “I cannot read their devices but they lead wagons filled with crops to plant.” They explained between gasping for their breaths.  “We think that they are some nearby city that seeks the U-Gor farmlands for their own.  If they settle in, Jahar won’t be able to force them out with an army.”

Ral Silvas commented, “No wonder Jahar has been sending in Panthans instead of their own people.  They hold their own in reserve.  Damn!  Someone knew about this before they asked Kobol to loan them troops to search this area.  Once again, men, we are expendable.  The question is, do we fight for Jahar or run for ourselves?”

There was some discussion for no Red Man wishes to run from a fight, even if it isn’t for their own nation.  In the end they decided to run, not from fear but to fight their way back to their lines and warn the Utan so Jahar could ready themselves and send support.

They were moving west when Hermm noticed, “They come from the south, probably seeking warmer lands to farm.  But look there!  Heads!  They hang heads from their thoats.”

“Do you think that they are who roasted the bones we saw?” Eibhlin asked.

Shrugging, he replied, “Who knows?  If the hoards of U-Gor overran their croplands, starvation could have forced them to cannibalism too.  And if eating man drove them mad, they may see anyone not of their nation as little more than a thoat to eat.”

“Then we should rush away faster for they outnumber us three to one.”

Lakon laughed at that, “Then we must fight thrice as hard to win!”

Eibhlin hated it when things went wrong! 

She was on Barsoom doing a decent job as a Panthan (that’s a Mercenary soldier for the rest of you) when they got outflanked. Not the usual outflanking where you discover a squad of cavalry rushing in from the left; but the one where the army you are facing and are slowly cutting to pieces retreats and you see three larger armies on every side suddenly appear to chase you and you now realize that you have stumbled into a trap and your one desire becomes to try very hard to survive.  Especially when the flanking army intended to eat their captives.

She blamed her Jed. The man wasn’t as smart as he should have been but he paid well and when you are a professional soldier, you fight! And sometimes, when desperate for work, you don’t look as closely as you should at the jobs. But he wanted her despite her being a woman, or as close to being a woman as he thought she was. Or maybe he wanted her because she was a woman, deformed as he saw her but then, the man had a harem of exotics and probably thought a week on the front would make his bed more inviting. It didn’t. But it was beginning to. Even the perversions of Han Kosal would be preferable to the Savages, the Green Men and now this army.

So why would a Jed, or king on another planet where men are soldiers and women are wives and concubines want an alien woman from Earth to be a soldier? Because Earthlings, she never got used to calling herself a Jasoomian, are telepathically invisible to Barsoomians so she could go almost anywhere and not be detected by the Red Man’s ESP. Plus, being Weir, she was engineered to be easily twice as strong as any human and on Barsoom with its .38 Gravity, she could easily crush any male with a single grip. THAT made her valuable despite her barely adequate skills with a sword. 

In this case, the Jed made a mistake. He jumped into a situation where he thought he would win and didn’t see that the enemies of his allies, were smarter than was he.  Eibhlin’s Company attacked form ambush the unready invaders, cut the opposing army of whomever they were to pieces then were overwhelmed by the unseen reserves who moved in from the flanks. She felt like General Custer who on the moment of victory, saw every Red Indian in the Colonies appear over the hills to demand justice for his murders of their women and children. 

Her Padwar called them together and they cut themselves free and into a cave where the enemy could only come at them in smaller numbers and where they could hold the entrance. Barsoom was covered with these. With a thin atmosphere, asteroid and meteor impacts littered the surface, spreading stony-iron rock all over and melting the substrata which then filled with vaporized rock and water, cooling into hollows. 

“Avleen Oobreen” he called to her for these Red Men could never pronounce her Irish name properly, “It’s time to find and open that stargate you told us about!” 

“Stargate? Cac!  With what?”  She needed running water and a metal mass to de-gauss. He sent her to the rear of the cave and she realized from her headache that all that red soil of Barsoom came from the stony-iron meteorites that impacted the surface. Their core mixed with the extinct oceans had colored the planet red with rust. There was iron everywhere. And the planet had water, only it was locked in the soil. Now how could she get the kinetic energy to degauss the iron? 

Her Padwar was a good man, despite him raping her in her sleep, so he didn’t rush her even though she could see her battle-buddies dying at the cavern entrance to buy her time. She found a melted iron arch, something left-over from an ancient asteroid impact when Barsoom still had flowing water and decided that this must be the Stargate she had felt. The Demons had made her very sensitive to em-fields so she could not only feel Stargates, but electrical currents and some radio waves. Now she needed kinetic energy to degauss the thing. “Ral Silvas,” she screamed, “I need men to pound here!”  Maybe if they got enough men to strike the mass in a rhythm, it would set up a resonance and open the Stargate?  She got them to pound with their sword pommels, 1,2,3,4,5,6,1,2,3,4,6,1,2,3,4,5,6, and so on until she felt the static charge build up. It worked!  She’d rather have called her space-ship but there wasn’t time for it to arrive. “I don’t know where this leads!” she screamed to her officer. 

“Does it matter? We die here or we try for life elsewhere.” 

Then the calots hit them! 

Ten-legged war dogs the size of a Shetland Pony, the most successful predator on Barsoom and in a pack, invincible. They killed everyone they met and though the Red Men killed them by the score with sword and revolver, they easily took the warriors down. 

The gate was open and Eibhlin screamed, “Here!  Now!”  Then one was at her. She leapt aside and slashed upward with her Demon sword, near decapitating the calot which fell dead meters beyond her. She yelled, no, screamed for the survivors to disengage and join her but to no avail.  Any calot was more than a match for any Red Man and Eibhlin only survived because of her greater strength and agility. She slashed again, removing the first three of another calot’s ten legs then stabbed as it fell aside her and saw the last of her buddies fall to their triple toothed jaws. Alone, pursued by a number of the things, She put all her energy into a leap and passed through the Stargate, not knowing where it led. She could be entering space to be freeze-dried, or to a methane planet or another time or even the heart of a star. But anyplace was better than here with its certain death. 



Rick Johnson's Barsoom Fiction

Eibhlin Story 
Crossover Stories
Jason Story
Panthan on Mars =>
Lost on Barsoom
Meeting of the Panthans I
<= North to Barsoom
 Meeting of the Panthans II
Battle at U-Gor <=>
ERBzine Refs
Rick Johnson Feature Articles and Fiction in ERBzine
Worlds of ERB
ERBzine 1645: Johnson: ERB Fan Profile
ERBzine 1522: Sociology of the Wieroo
ERBzine 1527: Maltheusian Decimation in Pal-Ul-Don
ERBzine 1547: Opar
ERBzine 1710: Conflict!
ERBzine 1965: Rescue In Pellucidar
ERBzine 1974: Anatomy of an Alien

ERBzine 2304: Prelude to Weir-Lu of Caspak

ERBzine 2388: Bright-Eyed Flower of Pal-ul-don

ERBzine 2394: Dinosaur Survival On Earth

ERBzine 1578: Barsoom Questions
ERBzine 1370: Mapping Barsoom I: Can It Be Done?
ERBzine 1562: Mapping Barsoom II: Compromises
ERBzine 1565: Mapping Barsoom III: The Past
ERBzine 1633: Valley Dor
ERBzine 1634: Swords On Mars
ERBzine 1711: A Panthan of Mars
ERBzine 1712: Spy: Arrival On Mars
ERBzine 2165: Battle at U-Gor
ERBzine 2166: Lost On Barsoom
ERBzine 2167: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. I
ERBzine 2168: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. II
ERBzine 2169: North to Barsoom
ERBzine 2196: Jahar
ERBzine 2303: Return to Barsoom I: Letters


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