A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 37

and majestically toward us.

Each carried a strange banner swung from stem to stern above the upper
works, and upon the prow of each was painted some odd device that
gleamed in the sunlight and showed plainly even at the distance at
which we were from the vessels. I could see figures crowding the
forward decks and upper works of the air craft. Whether they had
discovered us or simply were looking at the deserted city I could not
say, but in any event they received a rude reception, for suddenly and
without warning the green Martian warriors fired a terrific volley from
the windows of the buildings facing the little valley across which the
great ships were so peacefully advancing.

Instantly the scene changed as by magic; the foremost vessel swung
broadside toward us, and bringing her guns into play returned our fire,
at the same time moving parallel to our front for a short distance and
then turning back with the evident intention of completing a great
circle which would bring her up to position once more opposite our
firing line; the other vessels followed in her wake, each one opening
upon us as she swung into position. Our own fire never diminished, and
I doubt if twenty-five per cent of our shots went wild. It had never
been given me to see such deadly accuracy of aim, and it seemed as
though a little figure on one of the craft dropped at the explosion of
each bullet, while the banners and upper works dissolved in spurts of
flame as the irresistible projectiles of our warriors mowed through

The fire from the vessels was most ineffectual, owing, as I afterward
learned, to the unexpected suddenness of the first volley, which caught
the ship's crews entirely unprepared and the sighting apparatus of the
guns unprotected from the deadly aim of our warriors.

It seems that each green warrior has certain objective points for his
fire under relatively identical circumstances of warfare. For example,
a proportion of them, always the best marksmen, direct their fire
entirely upon the wireless finding and sighting apparatus of the big
guns of an attacking naval force; another detail attends to the smaller
guns in the same way; others pick off the gunners; still others the
officers; while certain other quotas concentrate their attention upon
the other members of the crew, upon the upper works, and upon the
steering gear and propellers.

Twenty minutes after the first volley the great fleet swung trailing
off in the direction from which it had first appeared. Several of the

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