The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 53

was thoroughly
familiar with the mechanism of every known make of flier on Barsoom.
For nine years I had sailed and fought with the navy of Helium. I had
raced through space on the tiny one-man air scout and I had commanded
the greatest battleship that ever had floated in the thin air of dying
Mars.

To think, with me, is to act. Grasping Thuvia by the arm, I whispered
to Tars Tarkas to follow me. Quickly we glided toward a small flier
which lay furthest from the battling warriors. Another instant found
us huddled on the tiny deck. My hand was on the starting lever. I
pressed my thumb upon the button which controls the ray of repulsion,
that splendid discovery of the Martians which permits them to navigate
the thin atmosphere of their planet in huge ships that dwarf the
dreadnoughts of our earthly navies into pitiful insignificance.

The craft swayed slightly but she did not move. Then a new cry of
warning broke upon our ears. Turning, I saw a dozen black pirates
dashing toward us from the melee. We had been discovered. With
shrieks of rage the demons sprang for us. With frenzied insistence I
continued to press the little button which should have sent us racing
out into space, but still the vessel refused to budge. Then it came to
me--the reason that she would not rise.

We had stumbled upon a two-man flier. Its ray tanks were charged only
with sufficient repulsive energy to lift two ordinary men. The Thark's
great weight was anchoring us to our doom.

The blacks were nearly upon us. There was not an instant to be lost in
hesitation or doubt.

I pressed the button far in and locked it. Then I set the lever at
high speed and as the blacks came yelling upon us I slipped from the
craft's deck and with drawn long-sword met the attack.

At the same moment a girl's shriek rang out behind me and an instant
later, as the blacks fell upon me. I heard far above my head, and
faintly, in Thuvia's voice: "My Prince, O my Prince; I would rather
remain and die with--" But the rest was lost in the noise of my
assailants.

I knew though that my ruse had worked and that temporarily at least
Thuvia and Tars Tarkas were safe, and the means of escape was theirs.

For a moment it seemed that I could not withstand the weight of numbers
that confronted me, but again,

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