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Volume 5679

A John Carter Adventure:
The Blood Seas of Barsoom
PART IV (conclusion)
Continued from ERBzine 5678
by Richard Senate

Cartography by Gino D'Achille

10. The Battle of Tubax

11. The Fight for the Palace
12. Peace comes at last
The End

Chapter Ten
The Battle of Tubax
  As we drew close to the fleet, I could see gunfire coming from the city aimed at the fleet.  A number of ships came out of the city to engage the fleet.  The battle was  about to re-start. 

“Looks like a new battle is starting.” I said to Nolan.

“I think not, there are too few ships. Most are small flyers not battleships.” answered the flying man.  “We had best get into the protection of the fleet.”

He was right—the attacking ships were small ones. The attack was not acting against the fleet but heading our way.  The heavier ships of Helium directed their fire at them as they raced towards us.   I saw two small gunboats go down in flames.   I was ready at the bow gun when Nolan gasp. 

“Look Sire!”  he said.   The flyer coming towards us at a great speed  had something lashed to  the bow.   I looked  and saw it was Djor Kantos, the captain of the warship Cluos and one of my friends. He was lashed to the bow of the ship. I was frozen  as he approached.

“Fire!” shouted Nolan.  But, I couldn't.  I couldn't kill my friend.  I saw Djor's lips were moving he was saying “Fire! Shoot Warlord!”   But I couldn't.   The ship was coming right for us now, the other Tubaxing ships had retreated back behind the walls but the ship keep coming.

“He's going the ram us!” cried Nolan.  “Fire!”   But I didn't.

Nolan stopped the ship.   He unfolded his wings and took off, flying off the ship,  Then I felt two hands grasp my harness and pull me from the flyer and pull me over the side and away from the craft as it was rammed.  Their was a great explosion. The Tubaxian must have been  loaded with a powerful bomb.  The pilot lost his life to slay me.  The blast blew us away from the wreck and to the ground.  Nolan had saved my life.  Djor Kantos was dead. At least his end was fast. 

“They knew we were coming and set this plan up to kill you, sire.” said the flying man as we headed towards the closest airship—This one with the colors of  Zor.   The crew seemed amazed to see Nolan the flying man.    When we placed me on the deck a dozen warriors surrounded the batman with drawn swords.

“Stop!” I ordered, “This man is my friend. He just saved my life.” 

“Obey him!” came a woman's commanding voice.  I saw my daughter, Valla, come on deck, all went to one knee and sheathed their weapons.  She looked older now, far older than I remembered her.  She now served as  the Jeddara of Zor.  She came and embraced me. 
 “If this creature saved you, father, he has no enemies on this ship.” 

“Did you see what the Tubaxians did?”  I asked.

“Monsters!  They had Djor Kantos tied to the attacking flyer.”

“I couldn't kill him—they almost achieved their plan.” I told her.  “I will take my revenge on the ruler of Tubax.” 

“You should blast the city to rubble.” Valla   said.   As we spoke a smaller gunboat, a ten man ship, painted with the colors of Helium, flew up to the Zorian battleship. 

“Are you all right, Warlord?” as the commander of the smaller ship. 

“Yes, but only due to the fast action of my winged friend Djor Nolan,” I answered.  “Tell me, Is Kantos Kan leading the fleet?”

“He awaits you on the flagship.”  came the answer.   I said good bye to Valla  and with Nolan mounted the gunboat and with an escort of four other armed craft we headed toward the largest ship in the the fleet.  I recognized the craft by her sleek lines as  the Djana.   As I drew close, I saw a vision that caused my heart to race. On the bridge, next to my old friend Kantos Kan, my incompatible mate, Dejah Thoris, in her scarlet silks. 

As we  touched the battleship, I leaped off and joined her embracing as the crew watched. 

“Where were you?” she asked after our warm kiss. “I worried for you.”

“Captured, But Lee is safe and in good hands, now.”  I answered. “I have a score to settle with the Jeddak of the West.”

“I saw what they did.  Kantos Kan was moved to tears as his son was killed in the attack.”

“He will be avenged,” I vowed.

“Look, Sire!” cried one of the crew as he pointed to Tubax.

“What new treachery is this?” asked Dejah Thoris in a disgusted tone to her voice.

I turned and saw a ship rise from the walls of the city. She was pained in the garish colors of Tubax but it was my swift battlecraft—The Cluos.   Above her main deck was a large white pennant---a universal symbol of truce on Barsoom as it is on Earth.

“So they want to talk!” I comment.

Kantos Kan came running up with a powerful glass. 

“Look who is aboard the ship!” he told me as he offered the spyglass.

I put it to my eye and saw men tied up, they wore the harness of Helium. I recognized them as the captured crew.  I noticed they were gagged as well.   I scanned the ship, from bow to stern—No one else was to be seen.   I noticed some scars of battle on her hull from the fight in the inner sea—or perhaps at the walls of the city.  It was moving right towards us. 

“Why are the men gagged?” asked Kantos Kan. 

It hit me in an instant.  “Its a trick, Pull the fleet back, don't  let the ship close!”   The signal men  started to convey my orders  as did the wireless men—the Flagship ship started to slowly back away. 

“Pull back!"  shouted.  “Its a trick.”   I noticed all the guns were out—but their were no crew to man them.    As I watched the approaching ship started to speed up  to close the distance. 
Kantos Kan also had a glass. 

“Look to the crewmen!” he said in an excited voice.  I looked back as the men lashed to a mast.   One of the men, with the help of another tied and gagged man, managed to pull off the rag.  He was yelling as others nodded their heads.

“What is he saying?” I asked.

“Send for a lip reader,” ordered the admiral. 

In moments a crewman ran up and was given the glass.

“What is that man without a gag saying—we can't make it out at this distance?” I ordered.

He studied the approaching ship. 

“There is a bomb on the ship!”  The crewman said. “We are dead men—fire on us!”

“Open Fire!” I ordered.  Almost before the words left my mouth, every gun on the flagship fired, so did the others in the fleet.   The ship with the white flag fired back somehow and put on speed to close with us.  A second broadside hit her with damaging effect and then she vanished in a mighty detonation.  It was the most powerful blast I had ever seen, the shock wave  scattered the fleet.   I was tossed to the deck,   Dejah Thoris fell beside me.  Kantos Kan was knocked back but hanging on to the rail he was still standing. If the ship had been closer—the much of the  fleet might have been damaged or lost. 

The lip reader had been  blown from the deck.   I glanced towards the walled city and noticed that a whole fleet of Tubax had come out  to attack. 

“Warn the fleet.” I yelled, “We are under attack.” 

I could see two of the Heliumetic ships were burning, having been struck with parts from the blasted ship.   The treacherous  plan almost worked. 

I could see the Heliumetic fleet and her allies were pulling back and regrouping. I saw that Valla and the Zorians didn't take any damage –they were further from the blast.  The Tubaxian ships were older and from the ragged formation they lacked the training of a major power—still they were numerous.  Now the battle was on as the roar of radium cannons filled the sky.  The Tubaxians were poor gunners  and soon they were being punished by the allied fleet.  One by one the enemy ships fell from the sky, burning,  but still they kept coming. The fear of their Jeddak kept them on the attack. 

“Was it this bad when you first came?” I asked Kantos Kan.

“No, sire, But this time we will finish them.” he vowed. 

“Kill them all!” cried my incomparable mate.   “They have no honor!” 

“I do not blame these poor Tubaxians,” I answered. “ I blame their ruler and a certain traitor who sold out his own nation.”

“I am shamed to know he is of my clan,” said Kantos Kan.  “He must face death.”

“For kidnapping my grandson he will die. It is my hope he dies by my own hand,” I added.

The Tubaxians pressed their attacks, their ships taking a great deal of punishment before they   Took the long dive.  A few tried to surrender, with their captains jumping to their deaths. As soon as a ship lowered her colors, they were targeted by other Tubaxians and blasted to bits. It seems that surrender was not acceptable to the Tubaxian air navy.    One ship tried to race and   ram or board the flagship.   Every gun was  trained on this one ship,  Pieces were blown free of the craft, but still it kept coming.  I had to admire the brave captain for his attack, but it was doomed to fail.   Before she could get close to the flagship, it was a burning hulk and took the long drive to the ground.   With her fall, the remains of the Tubaxian fleet returned behind their walls. 

“Don't  think its over!” I said. “They have more tricks up their sleeve.” 

The Heliumetic fleet approached the city slowly, firing as they went. They were targeting gun mounts.  The fire from the walls was sporadic, giving the impression they were finished.

“They look like their done!” said Kantos Kan.  “Should we raise a truce flag?”

“Let them raise the white flag first. Keep up the bombardment. Focus on the gates.  We wary of any ships trying to flee the city.” I ordered.

It wasn't long before the fire from the city stopped all together.   Then, over the main gate, a white banner was hosted.

“Stop firing, but be ready for tricks.” I yelled.   No ships left the city—but I had seen Tubaxian treachery before.

The word reached the other ships of the fleet and the bombardment stopped.   We wait for a response from the Tubaxians.  But nothing happened.  I was about ready to re-start the attack when a single Tubaxian ship started out from the city. It was an older ship but ornate with gold designs.  More a royal barge than a warship.   It had guns at ready and a large white banner with flags of the royal house of Tubax. That should mean than the Jeddak was aboard.

“Good,” I said. “Now we can arrest the Jeddak of the West  and place him in chains and try him in court with an international tribunal. He has broken the accepted rules of war.”

“I say kill him!” whispered Kantos Kan.

“That would make us no better than he.” I answered. From the look on my Mates face—she was in agreement with the Admiral.

The barge moved slowly towards our line of battle. I didn't know if this was their top speed or deliberately flying slow.  I used a glass to see who was on deck. I did see a fellow wearing the  garments of a Jeddak on a thrown—and just a handful of crew.  I speculated that all of the best crewmen may have been killed in battle.   I noticed the figure on the thrown was smiling.

“Why is the Jeddak smiling?” I asked almost more to myself than anyone else.

“Treachery!” answered Dejah Thoris.

“Perhaps,” I answered. “It seems that this is their accepted form of warfare.”

The ornate ship drew closer and a crewman stepped to the bow with a speaking trumpet.

“We wish to surrender to John Carter himself.” the Tubaxian cried out. 

“Let us go to the Jeddak of the West,” I said to Kantos Kan.  “But, be ready for anything.”

Nolan, the winged man, rushed to the bridge, saluting as he approached.

“I fear Treachery, John Carter,” he said in an excited voice.  “Maybe another bomb ship to slay you?”

“I don't think that is his plan.” I said shaking my head. 

Slowly the big, opulent barge drew closer.  She was headed for the flagship with her props slowly turning. 

“Be ready for anything,” I said, drawing my long sword. I saw my mate had drawn her dagger.  I drew my short sword and gave it to her—She took it in her right hand. She was skilled in its use.   The Barge was close when Nolan cried out.

“That's not Kulan Tith!” he yelled.  “I know him. That is an imposture.”

I took the glass—I had meet the Jeddak once but—through he looked similar—it was not him.  I was about to order the warship to open fire when grappling hooks shot out from the barge and pulled the two ships together.  At the same time  mobs of small man-like creatures  with long legs and spindle-like  arms  jumped up and boarded the flagship. Some were armed with long metal tubes.  They were fast and came with such a fierce attack some of the crew were cut down with their long bladed daggers. 

“The Spider Men!”  cried Nolan, “They are fanatically loyal to the Jeddak! They are after hostages!”   As he spoke one of the short men fired his tube like weapon and it shot out a net ensnaring a ships officer, and pulling him in.  More and more came out of the big vessel—they may have numbered over a thousand of them.

“I hate Spider Men!” shouted Nolan.  They had reached the Bridge.   The little men were armed with a long dagger they could use like a short sword or throw, each of them had several of these weapons. 

One came for me and in a few strokes I disarmed him and decapitated the enemy. Others of his kind got past me and engaged Nolan, Kantos Kan and Dejah Thoris. Before I could help them several more attacked me with their daggers.   I noticed they didn't throw their weapons at us—that told me they were ordered to take us hostage.   Three of the Spider men came to the bridge with the long tube new throwers.   I pushed back my foes to keep the weapons from getting on to the bridge—In the fight my long sword sent three of the small men to their ancestors.    I saw a tube aimed at me. I jumped up as the net flew to the place I had stood.

 When I came down, I fell upon a spider man, crushing him under my sandals, My sword flew in wide strokes and took out three more.   I saw a creature aim at my mate and fire.  My sword caught the net and mid-air threw it overboard. Unfortunately, my sword was ensnared in the web and went with it over the side.  All I had to defend myself was a Radium pistol  and a dagger.   As the enemy was using their net weapon I felt I was justified in using the handgun. 
I drew it and started firing. Six of the Spider men fell. Others followed my lead and began to use their pistols on the creatures. 

Kantos Kan was ensnared by a net but used his pistol on the attackers and pulled himself free of the net.

My mate was dueling with a bearded Spider Man when I shot him.

“John Carter,” she smiled,  “I had him, I didn't need your help.” 

Just at that moment a net wrapped itself around her as she screamed.   My handgun spat death into  the mob of enemy, dozens fell, including those who had tried to capture Dejah Thoris.   I quickly pulled the sticky net away from her. 

I looked up and saw a half a dozen ships were sending warriors to defend the flagship and attack the barge. The white banner on the vessel was cut down and the colors of Helium hosted.  I saw that the man playing the part of Kulan Tith was captured.    From what I could see all of the terrible spider men were dead.  They were loyal, I would give them that. 

“Now that we have had our exercise for the day,” I said to Kantos Kan. “Let us get back to the bombardment of Tubax—Ignore any and all flags of truce.”

“With pleasure,” he answered. Giving out the orders by wireless and with signal flags.  The fleet started to move closer to the walled city, now firing with all their guns.  Even the ornate barge –now with a prize crew-- joined in the bombardment.

“I fear they will have more tricks for us.”  Whispered Dejah Thoris.

“We will be ready for them!” I answered her.

Chapter Eleven
The Fight for the Palace
The guns on the walls were one by one taken out and much firepower was directed at the ornate gates.   It had once been a thing of beauty and art, now reduced to rubble.  Many of the fallen enemy were dead in and on the ruins.   It reminded me of something I heard  General Lee say once: “It is good war is so terrible least we grow too fond of it.”

The ships were landing before the walls and disgorging their cargo of warriors. These were Heliumetic soldiers, many I knew by their first names, veterans who fought under me many times.    Dejah Thoris gave me back my short sword and Kantos Kan handed me his long sword.   She didn't say a word but kissed me on the lips before I ordered the flagship to land and took command the the army marching on the gates of Tubax. 

The men, several thousand, cheered as I took the field.  Some started to chant “John Carter, John Carter.” I almost thought I was leading Seventh Cycle Therns for a moment. 

“Lets get this false Jeddak,” I cried out and lead them towards the gate. As we made our way  up the rubble and though the portal we encountered no resistance at all. But when we got into the narrow streets we were attacked on both sides by  spider men and Tubaxian guards.  They came at us from doorways and windows, even from thin ropes from the roofs. Some of the spindle-like creatures were armed with net tossing weapons and I was the main target. My men surrounded me and protected me from the nets.  Many of the odd creatures were cut down by our swords, still others fell to our pistols.   We pushed our way slowly through the city toward our objective—the Royal Palace.   We took losses but more and more warriors were landed and joined us.  I knew the resistance would get worse as we moved closer to the royal residence. 

Just then, a small flyer flew over our heads painted with the colors of Tubax. She flew so low the warships couldn't see her.  She was headed towards the main army and me.   My men aimed all their firearms at the speeding vessel.  The radium rifles made short work of the  small sky ship. Then, it blew up like a bomb.   It was packed with explosives! It was a desperate attempt to stop our advance.  Fortunately, no one was killed, save for the fanatic pilot who planned the wild attack.   Right behind the attacking flyer was a great horde of Spider men with their long daggers, now many were armed with spears.

We were ready for them and they fell to our swords. Their attack was furious but short lived and soon they were falling back with many of their comrades dead in the street.  We kept pressing forward we followed the street to a large plaza before the ornate palace. I could see the place was barricaded, with metal shutters on the windows and guns poking out the balconies.  The palace was now a fortress. 

“Forward! “ I cried to my men, “Let is take the palace and the city is ours!”  I lead them into the plaza as shot and shells greeted us.   Just then I saw my flagship flying low above us. Coming down the avenue. Her guns were blazing, silencing the guns on the palace and blowing in the  gates.  As the ship blasted away the men cheered.   She was well armored and took few hits but I still worried  about my mate—I would later discover she was the one who ordered the attack.

We headed for the fallen gateway and as we drew near hordes of spider men, joined now by palace guards,  came out to meet us.  They were running towards us, swords, daggers, spears and pistols all ready for battle.   I knew they were give up their lives to defend the palace. 

They hit us hard but our lines didn't waver.  Soon the square was filled with the dead.  I was still at the head of my men, fighting one foe after another.   Then, almost as they were about to force us back by sheer numbers, there was a blast on a horn, the Spider men, and palace guards withdrew back into the palace.   It looked like a trap.  Some wanted to run after them but, I maintained order.

“Hold back men!” I yelled. “It might be another trap.”

We slowly crossed the courtyard, ready for anything.  The Palace gates were blasted open.  I looked into the dark interior. I saw no one.

“I fear its a trap, sire!” said one of the men. “I will go forward and see.”

“You do that!” I ordered, “But beware of anything out of the ordinary.”

The man smiled and holding his sword  turned and bent low as he walked in by himself.  He was brave as are most of the Red Martians.   We all watched as he went deeper and deeper into the ornate palace.   He was not a hundred yards in when he turned and spoke out.

“There is no one here. They have run away.”  as the words passed his lips a thin rope  came down from the ceiling, encircled his neck and pulled him swiftly up into the darkness.  A short scream was all we hear after he vanished.   My men were shocked into silence.

Then they came, a screaming mass of warriors from doors on both sides of the entry, towards us and the battle was once again on. Some of my men rushed in the lobby, but nooses fell from the ceiling and snagged them.  It was an old spider man trick.   Those who held our ground at the front door of the massive building took the brunt of the attack in a swirl of swordplay. 

I glanced up and saw we faced another threat. Spider men repelling down the side of the palace to fall upon us with their long daggers and spears. There were hundreds of them coming out of every window.   I thought we might have to pull back.   Then, before they could inflict damages the sky grew dark and I saw hundreds of flying men with swords.  They fell upon the Spider men, cutting ropes and engaging them.   Natural enemies the two fought like demons. Soon we were the last thing the Spider men were interested as they fought the Bat men. I saw Nolan was leading them in the fierce battle over our heads. 

“Come on Men!” I yelled out, as I lead a new push to press the Tubaxians back into the palace and into the lobby. A few nooses came for us but we were ready for then and they were cut before they could snag more than a couple of men.  We pushed the defenders, now made up of tough members of the infamous “Skeel Legion”, down the hall until they started retreating into a huge thrown room.   Here were members of the palace guards.  Tough looking men. I knew they wouldn't give an inch.  I saw the ornate thrown was empty and looked to see if the “Jeddak of the West” was personally leading his men.   I didn't see him. I was sure he had another trick up his sleeve.

They fought for every inch of floor space.  The Palace guards were a mixed lot. Some good swordsmen who fought a losing battle with bravery and grace, but many were fat and rusty, a life of lazy guard duty had made them unfit for combat and they fell quickly under the well trained warriors of Helium.  We encountered a few Spider men but outside of tossing a few spears at us they were almost useless as we pushed closer to the ornate dais and thrown.  I felt they must be a door  beyond the seat that went to the royal chambers. 

The Skeel Legion was faltering, some were now retreating from us and I felt that victory was ours.   Then a loud voice bellowed out. I knew that voice—It was The Jeddak of the west!

“Stop fighting! Stop Fighting at once or your grand son dies, John Carter, or Dator Sojat!'

I looked up at the thrown and saw a vision that caused my blood to run ice cold.  There was the leader of Tubax in his full  harness of office with a boy in his hands, gagged,  a dagger over the child's head. It looked like  Lee!

“Stop fighting” I ordered in a loud voice as I lowered my long sword.  Kulan Tith was smiling, his hand shaking as he pointed the dagger at the boy.  The gag was wide and hid much of his face.  I could see Lee was shaking.   How had the tyrant re-captured him? 

“Surrender, False warlord John Carter,” cried Kulan. “Surrender to me and Lee will be set free.”    I walked towards the thrown, Tubaxians parted before me as I seemed to be giving in to the Jeddak of the West.   I still retained my sword.

“Let the boy go!” I ordered him knowing he wouldn't comply.  I wanted to get a better look at Lee and see if he had been hurt. 

“Drop your sword, Dator Sojat!”  Kulan ordered, his voice filled with the evil glee of a man who knew he had all the aces in the deck.  Now that I was closer, at the very dais where the two were standing, I could see that the boy the leader held, he resembled Lee, and was dressed like him, it wasn't Lee! 

“You Lie! Calot!”  I screamed and jumped onto the dais. Kulan released the terrified boy who ran away and drew his ornate long sword. Our swords met in a swirl of flashing blades.  The whole room went back to fighting. We faced each other on each side of the elaborate and bejeweled thrown, our swords meeting in powerful strokes.   I was tired and he was a competent swordsman but he lacked any real skill.  In a few passes he realized that he had met his match and tossed his long sword at me, using his free hand to draw his radium pistol.  I was ready for this trick  and slapped the weapon from his hand, taking two of his fingers with it.   He went for his short sword as be backed up.

“Guards! Attend your Jeddak.”  he screamed, fear now in his voice. 

He lunged for me but I was ready with a parry that sent the point of my long sword deep into his chest.  He fell dead, draped over his thrown.  Two guards leaped on to the dais but, seeing their ruler dead, they lowered their points.

“The Jeddak Kulan Tith is dead!” I yelled. “Stop fighting! The war is over!” 

The clash of arms stopped and the room was filled with a cold silence.  It was a silence that was almost as terrible as the sounds a combat. I could hear a few of the Tubaxians were moaning in grief—but they were few. Most of what had been our enemies  were shocked, numb that they tyrant who had rules with fear for so long was now  dead.

I stepped off the dais as many of the Tubaxians dropped to one knee and placed their swords on the floor. One of the Heliumetic warriors came forward and saluted.

“Search the whole palace,” I ordered , “Seek out,  The traitor Than, and Fandora, the Jeddak's daughter. Treat her well—she is a friend of Helium and of the warlord. Let there be no more bloodshed!” 

A man ran into the chamber, littered with the bodies of the dead.  He came to me and saluted.

“The Jed of the Bloodseas has arrive with a fleet of ships and the bat men.  He has with him your grandson.” 

“Bring him to the palace,” I ordered, “ and let Kantos Kan know that the fighting is over—but no ships are to leave the city!” 

“Yes, sire,”  he said and quickly left as medical people came into to tend to the wounded of both sides. 

One Tubaxian came forward to me, bowing.  I could see he had something to say.

“Out with it man!” I ordered.

“What will become of us?” he asked  I could see fear on his face. He expected us to loot the city and put the followers of Kulan Tith to the sword or enslaved.

“My war was against The Jeddak of the West.” I told him. “He was without honor.”

“In moments my men returned to the room with prisoners. One was the wife of the Jed, another was Fandora, now wearing chains.  She held her head high and didn't look at me. I expected her to cry when she saw the body of her father, but he didn't.

“Free this girl,” I ordered. “She sent the message that alerted the fleet. She is a friend of Helium and the Warlord.”

“Not your friend, Dator Sojat,” she answered.  “But I love honor and I saw that my father loved it not.  I could not stand his ways.”

“Never the less, I thank you.” I answered.

She was freed as other  members of the guard came forward and saluted.

“We have searched the whole palace, from landing stages to the pits and we have not located the traitor Thuran Kan.” 

“Can anyone locate this man?” I asked the captured  Tubaxian nobles.  They all stood silent. 

“He may well be hiding somewhere in the city,” speculated one of the Tubaxians to me. 

“Search the city, and a reward for the information pointing to his location.” 

Just then The young Jed of the Bloodseas came, with a body of guards, many of them bat men.  He had the Thern with him  and he had Lee with him.  The boy ran to me.

“Grandpa,” he said loudly, some of my men were smiling as we embraced.

“How have you been?” I asked him.

“I wanted to come and see the battle.” he answered. “looks like it was something else.”

“You will see enough battle,” I told him. “ No need to see it at your age.”  He was looking at the thrown where the body of Kulan Tith was still resting across the arms of the ornate chair. 

“Is he dead?” asked Lee, in nearly a whisper, indicating the former Jeddak.

“He will never bother you again.” I answered.

“Good, he was a bad man,”  he said with a set chin..

A trumpet sounded and the army parted. The bodies had been removed from the thrown room and the blood cleaned.   Guards came in, followed by my incomparable Dejah Thoris.  She still had my short sword with her and was dressed in her scarlet silks.  When she saw Lee she smiled, held out her arms as the boy ran to him and they embraced. 

A warrior ran up to me, saluted and gave his report.

“We have searched the palace several times but no sign of the traitor. We found some 10th Cycle Therns hiding in a back room.”

“Bring them to me—I wish to questions them.”   I knew my chances of getting anything out of them was remote—but it was worth a try.   About ten Therns in there odd robes and white harness can up.  I noticed one seemed a bit muscular for a Thern. They have a restricted diet because of their bizarre religion.  He was walking towards us and jumped out of line. Under his robes he had a radium pistol—pointing at Lee and Dejah Thoris! 

I recognized him as Thurgan Kan the man who had betrayed his people and me.

“Just as you can stain your skin Dator Sojat—I can bleach mine and shave my head to become like a Thern!” he said in a loud voice.  “No one suspected me! Now they have brought me here on your orders to finish my revenge—I shall kill the false Issus she is no goddess, just as you are no God.”

“I never said that I was.”  I told him, trying to stall for time.

I saw Dejah Thoris move Lee behind her. Using her own body to protect him. 

“ The Holy Hekkador, had told of your plan, Dator Sojat,” boasted Thuran Kan. “ Admit it, your a Thern who broke with the 10th Cycle and now seeks to force his rule upon all on Barsoom.  Your a fraud! And so is your mate---she does resemble old statues and paintings of Issus—but she is just a woman.”

“You are wrong,” I said still stalling for time.  The traitor kept one eye on me and the other on my mate.  “If the Hekkador preached these lies I shall have to have a little talk with him in Valley Dor. When I am done the Therns may well need a new Hekkador.” 

“Enough!  Watch as your false Issus dies before your eyes!”   Cried Thuran raised his pistol aiming at Dejah Thoris. 

“I drew my pistol faster than any western gunfighter, but he fired.  Just then a blur filled the air, a figure lunged between  Thuran and Dejah.  The bullet him him in the chest. It was Matai Shani. He had taken the Radium bullet destined for my mate.   My pistol spat death, as did the weapons of a half dozen warriors.  Thuran Kan crumpled as bullets hit him. 


Chapter Twelve
Peace comes at last
I rushed to Matai Shani.  His wound was mortal.

“Thank You!” I said.  “Your move saved Dejah Thoris life.”

“I feel honored to have given my life to save her.   I die in your arms.”

Dejah Thoris came to him, and kissed him on the forehead –a smile appeared on the Thern's face as he died.

“He was a great warrior,” said Zab Than. “He will be entombed with the highest honors.”

The Young Jed, now joined by his wife, took the dais and addressed the crowd.

“As a member of the royal family, long denied my place by the tyrant—I now ask if you wish me to be your Jeddak?   I will declare an amnesty to all who fought  to defend Tubax.”  He spoke to the Tubaxians nobles and members of the Skeel Legion.  “I also rescind the ban on the Therns of the 7th cycle—Both temples will operate in the  new Tubax!”

Many clapped at this.

“I want to tell you, my people, we will forge an alliance with Greater Helium  and the Warlord.” The ruler  went on to ask for their help to re-build the city, and restore trade with other neighbors.  We must rebuild our air navy and restore us to our place in this region of Barsoom.”

“Until then,” I shouted out to the ruler. “Helium will be your protector—I am sure a new trade treaty will establish good will between our two nations.”

“This will open new markets of Helium's goods in the west,” whispered Dejah Thoris.

“You think like your father.” I whispered back.

“Will you let me be your Jeddak?” asked Zab Than.

The room exploded with cheers, Many Tubaxians approached the dais and tossed their swords before the jed, swearing their loyalty to him.   I was sure he would be the leader who could rebuild the city state and  bring honor and prosperity to Tubax.

I hugged Lee with one arm and my mate with the other.

“I will leave Kantos Kan to work out a defense treaty and new trade treaty good for all,” I said loudly. “Now we must return to Helium and bring my grandson back to his mother.”

We walked out of the chamber as the bodies were being removed and some of the debris of battle cleaned up.  Outside a small ship was waiting to fly the three of us back to the flagship for the return trip to Helium.  I was sure the twin cities would be decorated  and a great festival would be held.   Once rested, and the palace restored, I plan a short trip to Valley Dor to have a  talk to the Holy Hekkador of the 10th Cycle.  He must stop preaching hate to his followers!   But that would be another story.

The  End


ERBzine 5676: Part I
Intro and Chapters 1-3
ERBzine 5677: Part II
Chapters 4-6
ERBzine 5678: Part III
Chapters 7-9
ERBzine 5679: Part IV
Chapters 10-12

A story of the inner world in nine chapters
 by Richard Senate
along with Richard's photo and bio

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