The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 173

my colours broke from one of Zat Arras' ships. Then
from another and another. On some we could see fierce battles waging
between the Zodangan soldiery and the Heliumetic crews, but eventually
the colours of the Prince of Helium floated above every ship that had
followed Zat Arras upon our trail--only his flagship flew them not.

Zat Arras had brought five thousand ships. The sky was black with the
three enormous fleets. It was Helium against the field now, and the
fight had settled to countless individual duels. There could be little
or no manoeuvering of fleets in that crowded, fire-split sky.

Zat Arras' flagship was close to my own. I could see the thin features
of the man from where I stood. His Zodangan crew was pouring broadside
after broadside into us and we were returning their fire with equal
ferocity. Closer and closer came the two vessels until but a few yards
intervened. Grapplers and boarders lined the contiguous rails of each.
We were preparing for the death struggle with our hated enemy.

There was but a yard between the two mighty ships as the first
grappling irons were hurled. I rushed to the deck to be with my men as
they boarded. Just as the vessels came together with a slight shock, I
forced my way through the lines and was the first to spring to the deck
of Zat Arras' ship. After me poured a yelling, cheering, cursing
throng of Helium's best fighting-men. Nothing could withstand them in
the fever of battle lust which enthralled them.

Down went the Zodangans before that surging tide of war, and as my men
cleared the lower decks I sprang to the forward deck where stood Zat
Arras.

"You are my prisoner, Zat Arras," I cried. "Yield and you shall have
quarter."

For a moment I could not tell whether he contemplated acceding to my
demand or facing me with drawn sword. For an instant he stood
hesitating, and then throwing down his arms he turned and rushed to the
opposite side of the deck. Before I could overtake him he had sprung
to the rail and hurled himself headforemost into the awful depths below.

And thus came Zat Arras, Jed of Zodanga, to his end.

On and on went that strange battle. The therns and blacks had not
combined against us. Wherever thern ship met ship of the First Born
was a battle royal, and in this I thought I saw our salvation.
Wherever messages could be

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