In Helium, tensions were high.
John Carter, who was still distraught over the loss
of his beloved wife, had also to contend with decaying relations between
Earth and Barsoom.
Julian 67th, jemdar of Earth was, in the words of the
diplomats, "highly concerned" regarding the disappearance of his son. The
feelings of the Terran President were more ominous. The longtime era of
peaceful relations between Earth and Mars was threatened.
The jeddak had also to contend with the loss of Tamla,
a favorite, but troubled descendant. Her mother, Delah Kodal, who was the
great, great grand daughter of his own daughter Tara, appeared at court
each day to remind him that her daughter was still missing and his failure
to find her. Tensions were also growing within his family.
Carter had sent missions out covering the entire planet,
personally leading many of them until exhaustion threatened to claim him.
To complicate things, he had gotten word that Ras Thavas, the so-called
"mastermind" of Barsoom had vanished at the moment that he needed him most.
Ras Thavas, the ever-elusive, two-thousand year old scientist had been
sought to consult on the kidnapping of Tamla of Helium and the associated
disappearance of Julian 68th the prince jemdar of Earth only for it to
be discovered that he himself had vanished.
John Carter now sat alone in his apartments at the
palace in Greater Helium, his grey eyes reflecting an infinite sadness.
His beloved princess taken from him by age, his closest friends, Kantos
Kan and Tars Tarkas and even his own son, Carthoris, elderly and no doubt
soon to follow her and all the adventure having been slowly bled from his
life, John Carter was faced with an unfamiliar emotion, that of feeling
sorry for himself. In truth, any kind of introspection was more or less
alien to his nature. Carter was far from unintelligent, but he was, in
a way, uncomplicated. All he had ever asked from life was that he would
be able to fight, laugh and love. His current life had no enemies to fight,
no woman to love and little to laugh about. Curling his lip sardonically,
he muttered, "I still live."
On Earth, The Jemdarate itself was in crisis. The President
had now twice appeared before the parliament to argue against the continued
royal succession. Never before had the heir to the throne been victim of
such a crime as it now appeared had come to pass. While peace had been
the rule between the two great empires, there had been some ongoing points
of contention. Both planets claimed mining rights on Mercury. Barsoom had
placed a colony on the surface of Earth's moon against the wishes of the
Jemdarate. John Carter had stated that the Jemdarate only had claim to
Vah-Nah, while the dead surface of the Moon was unclaimed. Also there was
public discontent within the Jemdarate regarding the Barsoomian failure
to abolish slavery. There was much made of the fact that the jeddak's previous
allegiance, although over one thousand years ago, had been to a government
which had revolted to preserve that very questionable institution. To now
have an Earthly prince who was supposedly a guest of the Barsoomian government,
vanish only added to existing tensions.
The Grand Council of Jeddaks met to discuss the rising
tensions with Earth. They started plans for evacuating the Lunar colony
and heavily armed ships were placed in orbit of Barsoom.
Earth openly sent an expeditionary force to Mars to
"render aid" in the search for the princess Tamla and the prince Julian
68th. The Speaker of the Grand Council, Carthoris, jeddak of Helium declared
that Barsoomian authorities required no help in the search and politely
refused permission for the earth ships to come into Barsoomian orbit or
to land on the surface. The President of the Jemdarate responded that their
government would take a dim view of Barsoomian efforts to thwart Earth's
attempt to recover the prince. John Carter was alarmed. Earth and Barsoom
were rapidly heading into a dangerous situation which could easily escalate
into war. This would not be the kind of war that was fought bravely hand
to hand as a true warrior fights, but a war fought mostly at great distances
with bombs and rockets that would claim the lives of many innocents and
do nothing to test the metal of those involved. How easy it would be to
lay low these two great civilizations! John Carter knew that he must prevent
it, yet he had no means of doing so.
The expeditionary force of the Jemdarate fell into
orbit around Mars challenged only by words, for John Carter and the Council
had ordered that the first shot fired would not come from a Barsoomian.
A single small vessel descended to the surface just outside of the gates
of Greater Helium. From that vessel emerged seven men, one of them a diplomat
in formal attire, six of them heavily armed soldiers. As they approached
the city gate, a second, larger ship descended from the sky to alight about
a haad away from the city. It was a troop carrier.
There was some dickering, but finally the diplomat
with only two of his "honor guard" were admitted into Helium and into the
chamber of the Grand Council of Jeddaks.
The diplomat, Jayman Zandrik by name, made what started
out to be an impassioned appeal for the safe return of the prince, but
also contained several references to a number of perceived slights against
the Jemdarate. He informed the Council, and John Carter, for he had entered
the chamber when he heard that Zandrik had arrived, that their efforts
at finding the prince were woefully inadequate and their government felt
it was best to take over the search themselves. Then he came out and said
flatly that any attempt at interference by the Barsoomians would be treated
as an act of war.
There was an explosion of voices within the council
and in some cases, more than voices. Had not the jeddak of Warhoon been
restrained (no easy job, it took fifteen red men to hold back that single
green man), he would have instantly beheaded Jayman Zandrik for his temerity.
John Carter stood up, his face white with rage. This
was not an emotion frequently seen in the normally cool-headed warlord.
"Jayman Zandrik," he began, "as you are empowered to speak for your government,
so I am for mine. If it is your intention to end centuries of peace by
bringing armed men to this world, you will not find us unready. While my
people have lived in peace for a very long time, our national character
was forged in warfare and knows it well. Engage us at your own great peril!
This meeting has concluded." With those words, he stalked from the room
followed by all the jeddaks. For a minute or so, Zandrik and his guards
stood in the chamber alone. They had to return to the city gate on their
own where they were escorted back to their ship. They were offered no hospitality
in the city.
As that day passed into night, word was gotten to the
armies of Barsoom to get themselves to a state of maximum readiness. John
Carter ordered that if anyone emerged from the larger ship it should be
Just before dawn broke, John Carter was awakened. A
message carried on a Gridley wave had been detected. The source could not
be determined, but the content of the message was that Tamla and Julian
The jeddak was taken to the communications office in
the palace and a recording of the message was played for him. The voice
was that of a man. Clear and educated, it conveyed a sense of great assurance
and purpose. "I hope that this communication may reach the ears of John
Carter, warlord of Barsoom. I am Savjoda, of Earth, now lord of Dhaimira
and I wish to inform you that princess Tamla of Helium and prince jemdar
Julian 68th are well and healthy in my care. Do not fear for their safety."
A second voice then came on. "John Carter, I shall
not have to identify myself as I am sure you know my voice well." Indeed
he did, it was the voice of Ras Thavas, the so-called "mastermind" of Barsoom.
While generally good-intentioned, Ras Thavas put learning above all things
and did not always worry about how individuals might be effected by his
actions. "I cannot describe to you the astonishing things which have come
to light, but rest assured that the greatest discovery in the history of
Barsoom has been made! We shall contact you again very soon."
That morning, Jayman Zandrik was summoned into a private
audience with John Carter. He was expecting to receive either permission
to deploy his troops or a declaration of hostilities. He certainly was
not expecting to be played a sound recording from a strange personage named
"Savjoda" claming to be an Earthman now living in a place called "Dhaimira".
Although greatly perplexed, he took a copy of the message and departed.
That afternoon, both ships left the surface of Barsoom.