The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 113

not rising from the water.

"A little to your right," cried Xodar, for there are no points of
compass upon Omean where every direction is due north.

The pandemonium that had broken out below us was deafening. Rifles
cracked, officers shouted orders, men yelled directions to one another
from the water and from the decks of myriad boats, while through all
ran the purr of countless propellers cutting water and air.

I had not dared pull my speed lever to the highest for fear of
overrunning the mouth of the shaft that passed from Omean's dome to the
world above, but even so we were hitting a clip that I doubt has ever
been equalled on the windless sea.

The smaller fliers were commencing to rise toward us when Xodar
shouted: "The shaft! The shaft! Dead ahead," and I saw the opening,
black and yawning in the glowing dome of this underworld.

A ten-man cruiser was rising directly in front to cut off our escape.
It was the only vessel that stood in our way, but at the rate that it
was traveling it would come between us and the shaft in plenty of time
to thwart our plans.

It was rising at an angle of about forty-five degrees dead ahead of us,
with the evident intention of combing us with grappling hooks from
above as it skimmed low over our deck.

There was but one forlorn hope for us, and I took it. It was useless
to try to pass over her, for that would have allowed her to force us
against the rocky dome above, and we were already too near that as it
was. To have attempted to dive below her would have put us entirely at
her mercy, and precisely where she wanted us. On either side a hundred
other menacing craft were hastening toward us. The alternative was
filled with risk--in fact it was all risk, with but a slender chance of
success.

As we neared the cruiser I rose as though to pass above her, so that
she would do just what she did do, rise at a steeper angle to force me
still higher. Then as we were almost upon her I yelled to my
companions to hold tight, and throwing the little vessel into her
highest speed I deflected her bows at the same instant until we were
running horizontally and at terrific velocity straight for the
cruiser's keel.

Her commander may have seen my intentions then, but it was too late.
Almost at the instant of impact I turned my

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