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Volume 3374
Part Two (continued from ERBzine 3373)
The Tenth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
He lunged at me viciously.Blue Book: December 1934 - Swords of Mars 2/6This, he said, is the brain.
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
C) Rapas the Ulsio:
John Carter first runs into Rapas the Ulsio while he is posing undercover as Vandor the Panthan, in order to stamp out the power of the Assassin's Guild of Zodanga:
“Over nineteen hundred miles east of the Twin Cities of Helium, at about Lat. 30 degrees S., Lon. 172 degrees E., lies Zodanga. It has ever been a hotbed of sedition since the day that I led the fierce green hordes of Thark against it and, reducing it, added it to the Empire of Helium.

“Within its frowning walls lives many a Zodangan who feels no loyalty for Helium; and here, too, have gathered numbers of the malcontents of the great empire ruled over by Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium. To Zodanga have migrated not a few of the personal and political enemies of the house of Tardos Mors and of his son-in-law, John Carter, Prince of Helium.

“I visited the city as seldom as possible, as I had little love either for it or its people; but my duties called me there occasionally, principally because it was the headquarters of one of the most powerful guilds of assassins on Mars.

“The land of my birth is cursed with its gangsters, its killers, and its kidnapers; but these constitute but a slight menace as compared with the highly efficient organization that flourish upon Mars. Here assassination is a profession; kidnaping a fine art. Each has its guild, its laws, its customs; and its code of ethics; and so widespread are their ramifications that they seem inextricably interwoven into the entire social and political life of the planet.” (SM/1.)

This situation, like the one with the religion of Issus, is unacceptable to John Carter's Jasoomian morality. He will butt heads with most Barsoomians over his crusade against the guilds:
“For years I have been seeking to extirpate this noxious system, but the job has seemed a thankless and hopeless one. Entrenched behind age-old ramparts of habits and tradition, they occupy a position in the public consciousnness that has cast a certain glamor of romance and honor upon them.

“The kidnapers are not in such good odor, but among the more notorious assassins are men who hold much the same position in the esteem of the masses as do your great heroes of the prize ring and the baseball diamond.

“Furthermore, in the war that I was waging upon them, I was also handicapped by the fact that I must fight almost alone, as even those of the red men of Mars who felt as I did upon the subject also believed that to take sides with me against the assassins would prove but another means for committing suicide. Yet I know that even this would not have deterred them, had they felt that there was any hope of eventual success. 

“That I had for so long escaped the keen blade of the assassin seemed little less than a miracle to them, and I presume that only my extreme self-confidence in my ability to take care of myself prevented me from holding the same view.” (SM/1.)

In other words, most Barsoomians see the whole thing as a noble but losing cause, like the South’s Glorious Cause during the Civil War. We see a side of Carter's personality not unlike that of the South's. After all he fought in the Civil War as a Virginian in the Confederate Army. In his present crusade, he doesn’t seem to have learned anything about lost causes, just like the presidencies of those Southern gentlemen of the Texas persuasion: LBJ and W.
“Dejah Thoris and my son, Carthoris, often counseled me to abandon the fight; but all my life I have been loath to admit defeat, nor ever have I willingly abandoned the chance for a good fight.” (SM/1.)
It doesn’t take a Sigmund Freud to see that Carter’s crusade is just an excuse for him to engage in honorable combat. Think of how boring it would be for the greatest swordsman of two planets to be sitting idly at home with the women and children during peace time. Wouldn't you, too, create some kind of diversion or cause that would allow you the self-righteous justification
to do what you really want to do: kill what you perceive to be the bad guys? Yes, when you have no real enemies to fight, you have to make them up.
“Certain types of killings upon Mars are punishable by death, and most of the killings of the assassins fell in such categories. So far, this was the only weapon that I had been able to use against them, and then not always successfully, for it was usually difficult to prove their crime, since even eyewitnesses feared to testify against them.

“But I had gradually evolved and organized another means of combating them. This consisted of a secret organization of super-assassins. In other words, I had elected to fight the devil with fire.

“When an assassination was reported, my organization acted in the role of detective to ferret out the murderer. Then it acted as judge and jury and eventually as executioner. Its every move was made in secret, but over the heart of each of its victims an ‘X’ was cut with the sharp point of a dagger.

“We usually struck quickly, if we could strike at all; and soon the public and the assassins learned to connect that ‘X’ over the heart as the mark of the hand of justice falling upon the guilty; and I know that in the number of the largest cities of Helium we greatly reduced the death rate by assassination. Otherwise, however, we seemed as far from our goal as when we first started.

“Our poorest results had been gained in Zodanga; and the assassins of that city openly boasted that they were too smart for me, for although they did not know positively, they guessed that the X’s upon the breasts of their dead comrades were made by an organization headed by me.” (SM/1.)

Since Carter can hardly expect other Red Martians to join his crusade, he decides to accept the challenge of the Zodangan assassins alone and thus show them he is really smarter than they are.
“To say that such a condition annoyed me would be putting it mildly; and so I decided to go in person to Zodanga, not only for the purpose of making a thorough investigation, but to give the Zodangan assassins a lesson that would cause them to laugh out of the other side of their mouths.

“I decided to go secretly and in disguise, for I knew that if I were to go as John Carter, Warlord of Mars, I could learn nothing more than I already knew.” (SM/1.)

There is, however, one Zodangan family that is loyal to Helium, and that is the Ptor brothers, the ones who first gave Carter the red pigment he uses to stain his skin. He dons the pigment and a Zodangan Panthan’s harness, removes all of the insignia of his royal house from his one-man scout flier, and heads off secretly for Zodanga, informing no one in his secret organization of vigilante super-assassins of his plans.

He avoids the Zodangan air patrols and lands in a hanger garage in a shabby section of the Old City – that part which survived the sacking of the Green Hordes – and seeks a place to stay in a public house. While there, he meets Rapas the Ulsio:

“I had brought with me some old and very ordinary sleeping silks and furs and these I deposited upon the platform. Sprawled in the adjoining space was a shifty-eyed individual with an evil face. I had noticed that he had been eyeing me surreptitiously ever since I had entered. At last he spoke to me.

“‘Kaor!’ he said, using the familiar form of Martian greeting 

“I nodded and replied in kind.

“‘We are to be neighbors,’ he ventured

“‘So it would seem,’ I replied.

“‘You are evidently a stranger, at least in this part of the city,’ he continued. ‘I overheard you asking the proprietor where you could find an eatingplace. The one he directed you to is not as good as the one that I go to. I am going there now; if you’d like to come along, I’ll be glad to take you.’ 

“There was a furtiveness about the man that, in connection with his evil face, assured me that he was of the criminal class; and as it was among this class that I expected to work, his suggestion dovetailed nicely with my plans; so I quickly accepted. “‘My name is Rapas,’ he said, ‘they call me Rapas the Ulsio,’ he added, not without a touch of pride.

“Now I was sure that I had judged him correctly, for Ulsio means rat.

“‘My name is Vandor,’ I told him, giving the alias I selected for this adventure.

“‘By your metal, I see that you are a Zodangan,’ he said, as we walked from the room to the elevators.

“‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘but I have been absent from the city for years. In fact, I have not been here since it was burned by the Tharks. There have been so many changes that is like coming to a strange city.’ 

“‘From your looks, I’d take you to be a fighting man by profession,’ he uggested.

“I nodded. ‘I am a panthan. I have served for many years in another country, but recently I killed a man and had to leave.’ I knew that if he were a criminal, as I had guessed, the admission of a murder on my part would make him freer with me.

“His shifty eyes glanced quickly at me and then away; and I saw that he was impressed, one way or another, by my admission.” (SM/1.)

They make it to the eating-place, which is in another avenue a short distance from the public house, and then carry on their conversation.
“When we had seated ourselves at a table, Rapas ordered drinks; and immediately after he had downed the first one his tongue loosened. 

“‘Are you going to remain in Zodanga?’ he asked. 

“‘That depends upon whether or not I can find a living here,’ I replied. ‘My money won’t last long; and, of course, leaving my last employer under the circumstances that I did I have no papers; so I have trouble in finding a place at all.’

“While we were eating our meal, Rapas continued to drink; and the more he drank the more talkative he became.

“‘I have taken a liking to you, Vandor,’ he announced presently; ‘and if you are the right kind, as I think you are, I can find you employment.’ Finally he leaned close to me and whispered in my ear. ‘I am a gorthan,’ he said. 

“Here was an incredible piece of good fortune. I had hoped to contact the assassins, and the first man whose acquaintance I had made admitted that he was one.

“I shrugged, deprecatively.

“‘Not much money in that,’ I said. 

“‘There is plenty, if you are well connected,’ he assured me.

“‘But I am not connected well, or otherwise, here in Zodanga,’ I argued, ‘I don’t belong to the Zodangan guild; and, as I told you, I had to come away without any papers.’

“He looked around him furtively to see if any were near who might overhear him. ‘The guild is not necessary,’ he whispered; ‘we do not all belong to the guild.’

“‘A good way to commit suicide,’ I suggested.

“‘Not for a man with a good head on him. Look at me; I am an assassin, and I don’t belong to the guild. I make good money too, and I don’t have to divide up with anyone.’ He took another drink. “There are not many with as good heads on them as Rapas the Ulsio.’

“He leaned closer to me. ‘I like you, Vandor,’ he said; ‘you are a good fellow.’ His voice was getting thick from drink. ‘I have one very rich client; he has lots of work, and he pays well. I can get you an odd job with him now and again. Perhaps I can find steady employment for you. How would you like that?’

“I shrugged. ‘A man must live,’ I said; ‘he can’t be too particular about his job when he hasn’t very much money.’

“‘Well, you come along with me; I am going there tonight. While Fal Silvas talks to you, I will tell him that you are just the man that he needs.’ 

“‘But how about you?’ I inquired. ‘It is your job; certainly no man needs two assassins.’

“‘Never mind about me,’ said Rapas; ‘I have other ideas in my head.’ He stopped suddenly and gave me a quick, suspicious look. It was almost as though what he had said had sobered him. He shook his head, evidently in an effort to clear it. ‘What did I say?’ he demanded. ‘I must be getting drunk.’ (SM/1.)

Rapas takes Carter to Fal Silvas the next night, after he has sobered up:
“‘You’ve got to have a clear head when you talk to old Fal Silvas,’ he said. ‘By my first ancestor, no shrewder brain was ever hatched of a woman’s egg.’” (SM/2.)
Fal Silvas, you may recall, is one of the Mad Scientists of Mars. He interrogates Carter, making sure he has no current ties with anyone in Zodanga.
“‘Perhaps you are just the man I need. Rapas is sure of it, but I am never sure. No man can be trusted.’

“‘Ah, but master,’ interrupted Rapas, ‘have I not always served you well and faithfully?’

“I thought I saw a slight sneer curl the lip of Fal Silvas.

“‘You are a paragon, Rapas,’ he said, ‘the soul of honor.’

“Rapas swelled with importance. He was too egotistical to note the flavor of sarcasm in Fal Silvas’s voice.” (SM/2.)

To test Vandor’s sword arm, Fal Silvas has him duel with Rapas:
“‘Rapas, here, is handy with the short sword. Let us see what you can do against him.’

“‘To the death?’ I asked.

“Rapas guffawed loudly. ‘I did not bring you here to kill you,’ he said.

“‘No, not to death, of course,’ said Fal Silvas. ‘Just a short passage. Let us see which one can scratch the other first.’

“I did not like the idea. I do not ordinarily draw my sword unless I intend to kill, but I realized I was playing a part and that before I got through I might have to many things of which I did not approve; so I nodded my assent and waited for Rapas to draw.

“His short sword flashed from its scabbard. ‘I shall not hurt you badly, Vandor,’ he said; ‘for I am very fond of you.’

“I thanked him and drew my own weapon.

“Rapas stepped forward to engage me, a confident smile upon his lips. The next instant his weapon was flying across the room. I had disarmed him, and he was at my mercy. He backed away, a sickly grin upon his face. Fal Silvas laughed.

“‘It was an accident,’ said Rapas. ‘I was not ready.’

“‘I am sorry,’ I told him; ‘go and recover your weapon.’

“He got it and came back, and this time he lunged at me viciously. There would have been no mere scratch that time if his thrust had succeeded. He would have spitted me straight through the heart. I parried and stepped in, and again his sword hurtled through the air and clanked against the opposite wall. 

“Fal Silvas laughed uproariously. Rapas was furious. ‘That is enough,’ said the former. I am satisfied. Sheath your swords.’

“I knew that I had made an enemy of Rapas; but that did not concern me greatly, since being forewarned I could always be watchful of him. Anyway, I had never trusted him.

“‘You are prepared to enter my service at once?’ asked Fal Silvas.

“‘I am in your service now,’ I replied.

“He smiled. ‘I think you are going to make me a good man. Rapas wants to go away to attend to business of his own. While he is away, you will remain here as my bodyguard. When he returns, I may still find use for you in one way or another. The fact that you are unknown in Zodanga may make you very valuable to me.’ He turned to Rapas. ‘You may go now, Rapas,’ he said, ‘and while you are away, you might take some lessons in swordsmanship.’

“When Fal Silvas said that, he grinned; but Rapas did not. He looked very sour, and he did not say goodbye to me as he left the room. 

“‘I am afraid that you offended his dignity,’ said Fal Silvas after the door had closed behind the assassin.

“‘I shall lose no sleep over it,’ I replied, ‘and anyway it was not my fault. It was his.’

“‘What do you mean?’ demanded Fal Silvas.

“‘Rapas is not a good swordsman.’

“‘He is considered an excellent one,’ Fal Silvas assured me.

“‘I imagine that as a killer he is more adept with the dagger and poison.’

“‘And how about you?’ he asked.

“‘Naturally, as a fighting man, I prefer the sword,’ I replied.

“Fal Silvas shrugged. ‘That is a matter of small concern to me,’ he said.

‘If you prefer to kill my enemies with a sword, use a sword. All I ask is that you kill them.’

“‘You have many enemies?’ I asked.

“‘There are many who would like to see me put out of the way,’ he replied. ‘I am an invento , and there are those who would steal my inventions. Many of these I have had to destroy. Their people suspect me and seek revenge; but there is one who, above all others, seeks to destroy me. His is also an inventor, and he has employed an agent of the assassin’s guild to make away with me. 

“‘This guild is headed by Ur Jan, and he has personally threatened my life because I have employed another than a member of his guild to do my killing.’” (SM/2.)

The first night at Fal Silvas’s, Vandor is interrupted in his living chambers by a runaway slave girl named Zanda. She tells Vandor both about Fal Silvas and Rapas: 
“‘Rapas the Ulsio is his assassin now; but they are both afraid of Ur Jan, chief of the guild of assassins; for Ur Jan has learned that Rapas is killing for Fal Silvas for a price far lower than that charged by the guild.’...

“‘How about Rapas?’ I asked. ‘He comes and goes apparently as he wishes.’

“‘Yes, Rapas comes and goes. He is Fal Silvas’s assassin. He also aids in the kidnaping of new victims. Under the circumstances he would have to be free to leave the building....

“‘You may rest assured that Rapas knows nothing of importance. In fact, I have heard Fal Silvas say that one thing that endeared Rapas to him is the assassin’s utter stupidity. Fal Silvas says that if he explained every detail of an invention to him, Rapas wouldn’t have brains enough to understand it.’” (SM/2.)

Vandor needs permission to go out at night so that he can seek out Ur Jan and destroy him before he can assassinate Fal Silvas. Silvas suggests that Rapas take Vandor to the headquarters, but Vandor says it is better that Rapas be left in the dark. Vandor locates the guild’s headquarters and sneaks inside, but almost gets caught in the room that adjoins the conference room of Ur Jan and the 50 assassins. He hides behind a huge cupboard as two men enter the adjoining room room, but is unable to make out their identities as they open the door to the conference room:
“Ur Jan had looked up as the door opened. ‘What now?’ he demanded. ‘Who have you with you?’ and then, ‘Oh, I recognize him.’

“‘He has a message for you, Ur Jan,’ said the man at the door. ‘He said it was a most urgent message, or I would not have brought him here.’” (SM/4.)

It is, of course, Rapas the Ulsio, come to sell out Fal Silvas to the guild. He tells Ur Jan that he does not kill for Fal Silvas but that he knows who does. Fal Silvas has hired a new man to do his killing, a Panthan named Vandor. Ur Jan wants to know Rapas’s motive for giving him this information:
“Ur Jan glowered at him skeptically. ‘And why do you bring me this information? You are not my friend. You are not one of my people, and as far as I know you are a friend of none of us.’

“‘But I wish to be,’ begged Rapas. ‘I risked my life to get this information to you because I want to join the guild and serve under the great Ur Jan. If that came to pass, it would be the proudest day of my life. Ur Jan is the greatest man in Zodanga – he is he greatest man on all Barsoom. I want to serve him, and I want to serve him faithfullly.’” (SM/4.)

Ur Jan comes up with a plan for how Rapas can set up Vandor for one of his best assassins to kill him. Rapas has a later appointment with Vandor at their favorite eating-place and Ur Jan appoints Uldak to do the deed after Rapas leads Vandor into the trap. Luckily Vandor has overheard the entire conversation and knows what is waiting for him at the eating place.

He goes ahead and stakes out the eating place and waits for Rapas and Uldak to come.

Rapas points out the eating-place to Uldak and then they split up; Rapas goes inside while Uldak waits outside in a dark. Vandor waits for Rapas to go inside and then pursues Uldak and kills him, carving an “X” into his chest. He returns to the eating place and toys with Rapas, then returns to the house of Fal Silvas.

He reports to Fal Silvas but does not tell him of the role of Rapas, but Fal Silvas guesses it anyway:

“‘He nodded. ‘I guess you are right,’ he said, and then for a moment he sat in deep thought. Finally he raised his head. ‘I have it!’ he exclaimed. ‘I know who the traitor is.’

“‘Yes?’ I asked politely.

“‘It is Rapas the Ulsio – Ulsio! He is well named.’

“‘You are sure?’ I asked.

“‘It could be no one else,’ replied Fal Silvas emphatically. ‘No one else has left the premises but you two since you came. But we will put an end to that as soon as he returns. When he comes back, you will destroy him. Do you understand?’

“I nodded.

“‘It is a command,’ he said; ‘see that it is obeyed.’” (SM/5.)

Then Fal Silvas shows him his spaceship and mechanical brain and Rapas is forgotten for awhile. Many days pass and eventually Vandor convinces Fal Silvas that he intends on locating Rapas and making contact with the assassin’s guild. He goes to their favorite eating-place. 
“I had scarcely seated myself before Rapas entered. He came directly to the table and seated himself opposite me.

“‘Where have you been keeping yourself?’ he demanded. ‘I was commencing to think that old Fal Silvas had made away with you or that you were a prisoner in his house. I had about made up my mind to go there tonight and call on the old man, so that I could learn what had happened to you.’

“‘It is just as well that I got out tonight before you came,’ I said.

“‘Why?’ he demanded.

“‘Because it is not safe for you to go to the house of Fal Silvas,’ I told him. ‘If you value your life, you will never go there again.’

“‘What makes you think that?’ he demanded.

“‘I can’t tell you,’ I replied, ‘but just take my word for it and keep away.’ I did not want him to know that I had been commissioned to kill him. It might have made him so suspicious and fearful of me that he would be of no value to me in the future.

“‘Well, it is strange,’ he said; ‘Fal Silvas was friendly enough before I took you there.’

“I saw that he was harboring in his mind the thought that, for some reason, I was trying to keep him away from Fal Silvas; but I couldn’t help it, and so I changed the subject.

“‘Has everything been going well with you, Rapas, since I saw you?’ I asked.

“‘Yes, quite well,’ he replied.

“‘What is the news of the city? I have not been out since I saw you last, and of course we hear little or nothing in the house of Fal Silvas.’

“‘They say that the Warlord is in Zodanga,’ he replied. ‘Uldak, one of Ur Jan’s men, was killed the last night I saw you, as you will recall. The mark of the warlord’s agent was above his heart, but Ur Jan believes that no ordinary swordsman could have bested Uldak. Also he has learned from his agent in Helium that John Carter is not there; so, putting the two facts together, Ur Jan is convinced that he must be in Zodanga.’

“‘How interesting,’ I commented. ‘And what is Ur Jan going to do about it?’

“‘Oh, he’ll get his revenge,’ said The Rat; ‘if not in one way, then in another. He is already planning; and when he strikes, John Carter will wish that he had attended to his own affairs and left Ur Jan alone.’” (SM/7.)

A customer comes in and Rapas exchanges a knowing glance with him; Vandor realizes it is another assassin in Ur Jan’s guild. The assassin orders a glass of wine, then leaves. Rapas leaves shortly after him.
“‘I must be going,’ he said; ‘I have an important engagement.’

“‘Shall I see you tomorrow night?’ I asked.

“I could see him attempt to suppress a grin. ‘I shall be here tomorrow night,’ he said.” (SM/7.)

Of course the assassin, Povak, is lying in wait for Vandor and they have it out. Vandor toys with him, telling him that he is John Carter, but Povak doesn’t believe him; then, as they duel, he carves an “X” over his breast and asks him if he now believes. The man ends up being a coward and Vandor quickly dispatches him.

He spends the next day with the mechanics at Fal Silvas’s workshop and that evening he revisits the eating place on the Avenue of Warriors. Finding Rapas not there, he orders a meal. 

He eats it slowly, and still has to wait idly before he shows up.

“It was evident that he was very nervous, and he appeared even more sly and furtive than ordinarily.

“‘Kaor!’ I said, as he approached the table; ‘you are late tonight.’

“‘Yes,’ he said; ‘I was detained.’

“He ordered his meal and fidgeted about, uneasily.

“‘Did you reach home last night all right?’ he said.

“‘Why, of course,’

“‘I was a little bit worried about you,’ he said. ‘I heard that a man was killed on the very avenue through which you must have passed.’

“‘Is that so?’ I exclaimed. ‘It must have happened after I had passed by.’

“‘It is very strange,’ he said; ‘it was one of Ur Jan’s assassins, and again he had the mark of John Carter upon his breast.’

“He was eyeing me very suspiciously, but I could see that he was afraid to even to voice what was in his mind. In fact, I think it frightened him even to entertain the thought.

“‘Ur Jan is certain now that John Carter, himself, is in the city.’

“‘Well,’ I said, ‘why be so upset about it? I am sure that it does not concern either you or me.’

“Eyes speak the truth more often than lips. The eyes of Rapas the Ulsio told me that he did not agree with me that the killing of one of Ur Jan’s assassins was of no concern to either him or me, but his lips spoke otherwise.

“‘Of course,’ he said, ‘it is nothing to me; but Ur Jan is furious. He has offered an immense reward for the positive identification of the man who killed Uldak and Povak. Tonight he meets with his principal lieutenants to perfect the details of a plan which, they believe, will definitely and for all time end the activities of John Carter against the guild of assassins. They – ’

“He stopped suddenly, and his eyes registered a combination of suspicion and terror. It was though for a moment his stupid mind had forgotten the suspicion that it had held that I might be John Carter and then, after exposing some of the secrets of his master, he had recalled the fact and was terrified.

“‘You seem to know a great deal about Ur Jan,’ I remarked, casually. ‘One would think that you are a full-fledged member of his guild.’

“For a moment he was confused. He cleared his throat several times as though about to speak, but evidently he could not think of anything to say, nor could his eyes hold steadily to mine. I enjoyed his discomfiture greatly.

“‘No,’ he disclaimed, presently; ‘it is nothing like that. These are merely things that I have heard upon the street. They are merely gossip. It is not strange that I should repeat them to a friend.’

“Friend! The idea was most amusing. I knew that Rapas was now a creature of Ur Jan’s and that, with his fellows, he had been commisssioned to kill me; and I had been commissioned by Fal Silvas to kill Rapas; yet here we were, dining and gossiping together. It was a most amusing situation.” (SM/8-9.)

Two villainous-looking men enter the establishment and Vandor recognizes them as members of the assassin’s guild. He realizes that Ur Jan is no longer taking any chances with one man assassination attempts on Carter. As soon as they take their seats, Vandor excuses himself:
“‘I must be getting along, Rapas,’ I said; ‘I have some important work to do tonight. I hope you will forgive me for running off like this, but perhaps I shall see you again tomorrow night.’

“He tried to detain me. ‘Don’t hurry away,’ he exclaimed; ‘wait just a few moments. There are a number of things I should like to talk to you about.’ 

“‘They will have to wait until tomorrow,’ I told him. ‘May you sleep well, Rapas,’ and with that I turned and left the building.” (SM/9.)

Vandor hides and waits for them all to leave. The two assassins leave first, shortly followed by Rapas. Carter then makes a bee-line for his flier and flies again to the Guild of the Assassins. Carter hovers his craft and descends by a line to the balcony where he can hear the conversation inside. Rapas and the assassins report that Vandor has eluded them but he will meet with Rapas tomorrow night so there will be another chance to slay him. 

The big plan to take Carter out of the life of Ur Jan has to do with kidnapping Dejah Thoris and spiriting her off to Thuria in Gar Nal’s spaceship. Vandor accidentally makes a noise and is discovered and barely escapes. He then speeds off for Helium, but his one man flier is no match for Gar Nal’s spaceship. By the time he arrives, Ur Jan’s assassins have kidnapped Dejah Thoris after dispatching two of her slaves. Vandor returns to Zodanga and on the way to Fal Silvas’s house, he meets up with Rapas, who is following him:

“I swung around then, my hand upon the hilt of my sword; and as I did so, the man who was following addressed me.

“‘I thought it was you,’ he said, ‘but I was not certain.’

“‘It is I, Rapas,’ I replied.

“‘Where have you been?’ he asked. ‘I have been looking for you for the past two days.’

“‘Yes?’ I inquired. ‘What do you want of me? You will have to be quick, Rapas; I am in a hurry.’

“He hesitated. I could see that he was nervous. He acted as though he had something to say, but did not know how to begin, or else was afraid to broach the subject.

“‘Well, you see,’ he commenced lamely, ‘we haven’t seen each other for several days, and I just wanted to have a visit with you – just gossip a little, you know. Let’s go back and have a bite to eat.’

“‘I have just eaten,’ I replied.

“‘How is old Fal Silvas?’ he asked. ‘Do you know anything new?’

“‘Not a thing,’ I lied. ‘Do you?’

“‘Oh, just gossip,’ he replied. ‘They say that Ur Jan has kidnaped the Princess of Helium.’ I could see him looking at me narrowly for my reaction.

“‘Is that so?’ I inquired. ‘I should hate to be in Ur Jan’s shoes when the men of Helium lay hold of him.’

“‘They won’t lay hold of him,’ said Rapas. ‘He has taken her where they will never find her.’

“‘I hope that he gets all that is coming to him, if he harms her,’ I said; ‘and he probably will.’ Then I turned as though to move away.

“‘Ur Jan won’t harm her, if the ransom is paid,’ said Rapas.

“‘Ransom?’ I inquired. ‘And what do they consider the Princess of Helium worth to the men of Helium?’

“‘Ur Jan is letting them off easy,’ volunteered Rapas. ‘He is asking only two shiploads of treasure – all the gold and platinum and jewels that two great ships will carry.’

“‘Have they notified her people of their demand?’ I asked.

“‘A friend of mine knows a man who is acquainted with one of Ur Jan’s assassins,’ explained Rapas; ‘communication with the assassins could be opened up in this way.’

“So he had finally got it out of his system. I could have laughed if I had not been so worried about Dejah Thoris. The situation was self-evident. Ur Jan and Rapas were both confident that I was either John Carter of one of his agents, and Rapas had been delegated to act as intermediary between the kidnapers and myself.

“‘It is all very interesting,’ I said; ‘but, of course, it is nothing to me. I must be getting along. May you sleep well, Rapas.’

“I venture to say that I left The Rat in a quandary as I had turned on my heel and continued on my way toward the house of Fal Silvas. I imagine that he was not so sure as he had been that I was John Carter or even that I was an agent of the Warlord; for certainly either one or the other should have evinced more interest in his information that I had. Of course, he had told me nothing that I did not already know; and therefore there had been nothing to induce within me either surprise or excitement.

“Perhaps it would have made no difference either one way or the other had Rapas known that I was John Carter; but it pleased me, in combating the activities of such men, to keep them mystified and always to know a little more than they did.” (SM/121.)

With the help of Zanda and Jat Or, they steal Fal Silvas’s spaceship and have their Thurian adventure. After being forced to return to Zodanga, they walk from Fal Silvas’s hangar down a long corridor and see a man approaching. It is Rapas the Ulsio:
“At sight of Ur Jan and me standing side by side, The Rat went ashen gray. He started to turn, as though to run; but evidently he thought better of it, for he immeditately faced us again, and stood staring at us as though fascinated.

“As we approached him he affected a silly grin. ‘Well, Vandor,’ he said, ‘this is a surprise. I am glad to see you.’

“‘Yes, you must be,’ I replied. ‘What are you doing here?’

“‘I came to see Fal Silvas.’

“‘Did you expect to find him here?’ demanded Ur Jan.

“Yes,’ replied Rapas.

“‘Then why were you sneaking in on your tiptoes?’ inquired the assassin. ‘You are lying, Rapas. You knew that Fal Silvas was not here. If you had thought that he was, you would not have had the nerve to come, for you knew that you were in my employ.’

“Ur Jan stepped forward quickly and grasped Rapas by the throat. ‘Listen, you rat,’ he growled; ‘you know where Fal Silvas is. Tell me, or I’ll wring your neck.’

“The fellow commenced to grovel and whine.

“‘Don’t, don’t; you are hurting me,’ he cried. ‘You will kill me.’

“‘At least you have told the truth for once,’ growled the assassin. ‘Quick now; out with it. Where is Fal Silvas?’

“‘If I tell you, will you promise not to kill me?’ asked The Rat. 

“‘We will promise you that and more,’ I said; ‘Tell us where Fal Silvas is, and I’ll give you your weight in treasure.’

“‘Speak up,’ said Ur Jan, giving the fellow a shake.

“‘Fal Silvas is in the house of Gar Nal,’ whispered Rapas, ‘but don’t tell him that I told you or he will kill me horribly.’” (SM/24.)

Carter does not trust Rapas on his own so they force him to take them to Gar Nal’s. They arrest the two mad scientists, and while Ur Jan is about to torture Gar Nal, Rapas silently slips away back to his rathole:
“‘I’ll get the truth out of him,’ growled Ur Jan. ‘Here, Rapas, heat a dagger for me. Heat it red-hot.’ But when we looked around, Rapas was not there. As we had entered the room, he had made good his escape.” (SM/24.)
And that, thank Issus, is the last we ever hear of him.

J. Allen St. John wraparound: Swords of Mars - 5 interiors

7 WONDERS: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII

RUNNERS UP: I.a | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII.2.2b.3a.3b | IX | X.2.3.4 | XI.2.3.

A Princess of Mars
Gods of Mars
Warlord of Mars
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Chessmen of Mars
Mastermind of Mars
A Fighting Man of Mars
Swords of Mars
Synthetic Men of Mars
Llana of Gathol
Skeleton Men of Jupiter
John Carter and the Giant of Mars

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