The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 170

countless ages. It had
not been my intention to be distracted from the main issue of the
campaign, but we must settle this attack with the therns once and for
all, or there will be no peace for us while our fleet remains near Dor,
and our chances of ever returning to the outer world will be greatly
minimized."

Kantos Kan saluted and turned to deliver my instructions to his waiting
aides. In an incredibly short space of time the formation of the
battleships changed in accordance with my commands, the ten that were
to guard the way to Omean were speeding toward their destination, and
the troopships and convoys were closing up in preparation for the spurt
through the lane.

The order of full speed ahead was given, the fleet sprang through the
air like coursing greyhounds, and in another moment the ships of the
enemy were in full view. They formed a ragged line as far as the eye
could reach in either direction and about three ships deep. So sudden
was our onslaught that they had no time to prepare for it. It was as
unexpected as lightning from a clear sky.

Every phase of my plan worked splendidly. Our huge ships mowed their
way entirely through the line of thern battlecraft; then the V opened
up and a broad lane appeared through which the transports leaped toward
the temples of the therns which could now be plainly seen glistening in
the sunlight. By the time the therns had rallied from the attack a
hundred thousand green warriors were already pouring through their
courts and gardens, while a hundred and fifty thousand others leaned
from low swinging transports to direct their almost uncanny
marksmanship upon the thern soldiery that manned the ramparts, or
attempted to defend the temples.

Now the two great fleets closed in a titanic struggle far above the
fiendish din of battle in the gorgeous gardens of the therns. Slowly
the two lines of Helium's battleships joined their ends, and then
commenced the circling within the line of the enemy which is so marked
a characteristic of Barsoomian naval warfare.

Around and around in each other's tracks moved the ships under Kantos
Kan, until at length they formed nearly a perfect circle. By this time
they were moving at high speed so that they presented a difficult
target for the enemy. Broadside after broadside they delivered as each
vessel came in line with the ships of the therns. The latter attempted
to rush in and break up the formation, but it

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