Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 107

would forge upward to taste the cup of death.

I had been taking my turn with the others in defending the approach
to our lofty retreat when Mors Kajak, who had been watching the
battle in the street below, called aloud in sudden excitement.
There was a note of apprehension in his voice that brought me to
his side the instant that I could turn my place over to another,
and as I reached him he pointed far out across the waste of snow
and ice toward the southern horizon.

"Alas!" he cried, "that I should be forced to witness cruel fate
betray them without power to warn or aid; but they be past either
now."

As I looked in the direction he indicated I saw the cause of his
perturbation. A mighty fleet of fliers was approaching majestically
toward Kadabra from the direction of the ice-barrier. On and on
they came with ever increasing velocity.

"The grim shaft that they call the Guardian of the North is beckoning
to them," said Mors Kajak sadly, "just as it beckoned to Tardos
Mors and his great fleet; see where they lie, crumpled and broken,
a grim and terrible monument to the mighty force of destruction
which naught can resist."

I, too, saw; but something else I saw that Mors Kajak did not; in
my mind's eye I saw a buried chamber whose walls were lined with
strange instruments and devices.

In the center of the chamber was a long table, and before it sat a
little, pop-eyed old man counting his money; but, plainest of all,
I saw upon the wall a great switch with a small magnet inlaid within
the surface of its black handle.

Then I glanced out at the fast-approaching fleet. In five minutes
that mighty armada of the skies would be bent and worthless scrap,
lying at the base of the shaft beyond the city's wall, and yellow
hordes would be loosed from another gate to rush out upon the few
survivors stumbling blindly down through the mass of wreckage;
then the apts would come. I shuddered at the thought, for I could
vividly picture the whole horrible scene.

Quick have I always been to decide and act. The impulse that moves
me and the doing of the thing seem simultaneous; for if my mind
goes through the tedious formality of reasoning, it must be a
subconscious act of which I am not objectively aware. Psychologists
tell me that, as the subconscious does not reason, too close a
scrutiny of my mental activities might prove anything but flattering;
but be that

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