The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 114

bows upward, and then with
a shattering jolt we were in collision. What I had hoped for happened.
The cruiser, already tilted at a perilous angle, was carried completely
over backward by the impact of my smaller vessel. Her crew fell
twisting and screaming through the air to the water far below, while
the cruiser, her propellers still madly churning, dived swiftly
headforemost after them to the bottom of the Sea of Omean.

The collision crushed our steel bows, and notwithstanding every effort
on our part came near to hurling us from the deck. As it was we landed
in a wildly clutching heap at the very extremity of the flier, where
Xodar and I succeeded in grasping the hand-rail, but the boy would have
plunged overboard had I not fortunately grasped his ankle as he was
already partially over.

Unguided, our vessel careened wildly in its mad flight, rising ever
nearer the rocks above. It took but an instant, however, for me to
regain the levers, and with the roof barely fifty feet above I turned
her nose once more into the horizontal plane and headed her again for
the black mouth of the shaft.

The collision had retarded our progress and now a hundred swift scouts
were close upon us. Xodar had told me that ascending the shaft by
virtue of our repulsive rays alone would give our enemies their best
chance to overtake us, since our propellers would be idle and in rising
we would be outclassed by many of our pursuers. The swifter craft are
seldom equipped with large buoyancy tanks, since the added bulk of them
tends to reduce a vessel's speed.

As many boats were now quite close to us it was inevitable that we
would be quickly overhauled in the shaft, and captured or killed in
short order.

To me there always seems a way to gain the opposite side of an
obstacle. If one cannot pass over it, or below it, or around it, why
then there is but a single alternative left, and that is to pass
through it. I could not get around the fact that many of these other
boats could rise faster than ours by the fact of their greater
buoyancy, but I was none the less determined to reach the outer world
far in advance of them or die a death of my own choosing in event of
failure.

"Reverse?" screamed Xodar, behind me. "For the love of your first
ancestor, reverse. We are at the shaft."

"Hold tight!" I screamed in reply. "Grasp

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