Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 90

was the instigator of the entire foul plot.
HE must pay the penalty; and who better than Vas Kor could lead
the Prince of Helium to Astok of Dusar?

Faintly out of the night there came to Carthoris's ears the purring
of a distant motor. He scanned the heavens.

Yes, there it was far in the north, dimly outlined against the
dark void of space that stretched illimitably beyond it, the faint
suggestion of a flier passing, unlighted, through the Barsoomian
night.

Carthoris, knowing not whether the craft might be friend or foe
of Dusar, gave no sign that he had seen, but turned his eyes in
another direction, leaving the matter to the Dusarian who stood
watch with him.

Presently the fellow discovered the oncoming craft, and sounded
the low alarm which brought the balance of the watch and an officer
from their sleeping silks and furs upon the deck near by.

The cruiser-transport lay without lights, and, resting as she was
upon the ground, must have been entirely invisible to the oncoming
flier, which all presently recognized as a small craft.

It soon became evident that the stranger intended making a landing,
for she was now spiraling slowly above them, dropping lower and
lower in each graceful curve.

"It is the Thuria," whispered one of the Dusarian warriors. "I
would know her in the blackness of the pits among ten thousand
other craft."

"Right you are!" exclaimed Vas Kor, who had come on deck. And then
he hailed:

"Kaor, Thuria!"

"Kaor!" came presently from above after a brief silence. Then:
"What ship?"

"Cruiser-transport Kalksus, Vas Kor of Dusar."

"Good!" came from above. "Is there safe landing alongside?"

"Yes, close in to starboard. Wait, we will show our lights," and
a moment later the smaller craft settled close beside the Kalksus,
and the lights of the latter were immediately extinguished once
more.

Several figures could be seen slipping over the side of the Thuria
and advancing toward the Kalksus. Ever suspicious, the Dusarians
stood ready to receive the visitors as friends or foes as closer
inspection might prove them. Carthoris stood quite near the rail,
ready to take sides with the new-comers should chance have it that
they were Heliumites playing a bold stroke of strategy upon this
lone Dusarian ship. He had led like parties himself, and knew that
such a contingency was quite possible.

But the face of the first man to cross the rail undeceived him
with a shock that was not at all unpleasurable--it was the face of
Astok, Prince of Dusar.

Scarce noticing the others upon the deck of the Kalksus, Astok
strode

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