The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 112

the guard. He
evidently took in the situation at a glance and appreciated the gravity
of it as quickly as I, for our revolvers came up simultaneously and the
sounds of the two reports were as one as we touched the buttons on the
grips that exploded the cartridges.

I felt the wind of his bullet as it whizzed past my ear, and at the
same instant I saw him crumple to the ground. Where I hit him I do not
know, nor if I killed him, for scarce had he started to collapse when I
was through the window at my rear. In another second the waters of
Omean closed above my head, and the three of us were making for the
little flier a hundred yards away.

Xodar was burdened with the boy, and I with the three long-swords. The
revolver I had dropped, so that while we were both strong swimmers it
seemed to me that we moved at a snail's pace through the water. I was
swimming entirely beneath the surface, but Xodar was compelled to rise
often to let the youth breathe, so it was a wonder that we were not
discovered long before we were.

In fact we reached the boat's side and were all aboard before the watch
upon the battleship, aroused by the shots, detected us. Then an alarm
gun bellowed from a ship's bow, its deep boom reverberating in
deafening tones beneath the rocky dome of Omean.

Instantly the sleeping thousands were awake. The decks of a thousand
monster craft teemed with fighting-men, for an alarm on Omean was a
thing of rare occurrence.

We cast away before the sound of the first gun had died, and another
second saw us rising swiftly from the surface of the sea. I lay at
full length along the deck with the levers and buttons of control
before me. Xodar and the boy were stretched directly behind me, prone
also that we might offer as little resistance to the air as possible.

"Rise high," whispered Xodar. "They dare not fire their heavy guns
toward the dome--the fragments of the shells would drop back among
their own craft. If we are high enough our keel plates will protect us
from rifle fire."

I did as he bade. Below us we could see the men leaping into the water
by hundreds, and striking out for the small cruisers and one-man fliers
that lay moored about the big ships. The larger craft were getting
under way, following us rapidly, but

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