The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 175

for all the
vessels to reach their previously appointed stations, then with the
flagship I dropped quickly into the black depths, while one by one the
other vessels followed me in quick succession.

We had decided to stake all on the chance that we would be able to
reach the temple by the subterranean way and so we left no guard of
vessels at the shaft's mouth. Nor would it have profited us any to
have done so, for we did not have sufficient force all told to have
withstood the vast navy of the First Born had they returned to engage
us.

For the safety of our entrance upon Omean we depended largely upon the
very boldness of it, believing that it would be some little time before
the First Born on guard there would realize that it was an enemy and
not their own returning fleet that was entering the vault of the buried
sea.

And such proved to be the case. In fact, four hundred of my fleet of
five hundred rested safely upon the bosom of Omean before the first
shot was fired. The battle was short and hot, but there could have
been but one outcome, for the First Born in the carelessness of fancied
security had left but a handful of ancient and obsolete hulks to guard
their mighty harbour.

It was at Carthoris' suggestion that we landed our prisoners under
guard upon a couple of the larger islands, and then towed the ships of
the First Born to the shaft, where we managed to wedge a number of them
securely in the interior of the great well. Then we turned on the
buoyance rays in the balance of them and let them rise by themselves to
further block the passage to Omean as they came into contact with the
vessels already lodged there.

We now felt that it would be some time at least before the returning
First Born could reach the surface of Omean, and that we would have
ample opportunity to make for the subterranean passages which lead to
Issus. One of the first steps I took was to hasten personally with a
good-sized force to the island of the submarine, which I took without
resistance on the part of the small guard there.

I found the submarine in its pool, and at once placed a strong guard
upon it and the island, where I remained to wait the coming of
Carthoris and the others.

Among the prisoners was Yersted, commander of the submarine. He
recognized me from the three trips that I

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