Volume 2226

26. "LIVE OR DIE!" -- May 31, '42
(read novelization

P1: As the mechanical men approached, John Carter threatened the wizard: "Stop them," he ordered, "ere my sword divides thee in two halves!" 

P2: The Earthman's tones struck terror into Vovo's heart. "Halt! Halt!" the wizard shrieked into his microphone. 

P3: Oman and the other robots halted at their master's order. "Vovo's will is our will," Oman chanted monotonously. 

P4: "Now, wizard, if you wish to continue living," Carter spoke sternly, "you will revive the Princess Dejah Thoris!" 

P5: Then Carter prodded Vovo across the laboratory to the electronic decalcifying machine. 

P6: "I cannot always guarantee success when changing calcified tissue back to living flesh," Vovo grumbled. 

P7: After the wizard pulled the switch, Carter waited breathlessly while streams of bombarding electrons pierced the girl's body. 

P8: Strange thoughts raced through Vovo's twisted brain as he stood behind the Earthman. "Look!" He screamed suddenly. 


1. In the novelization Oman will be slow in obeying Vovo's orders, thus allowing Carter to seize the green dwarf and threaten his life. When Vovo commands the robots to halt, Oman's brain nearly breaks free of the wizard's control, but then his programming kicks in and he begins to chant "Vovo's will is our will!" 

2. In panel 6 of strip #26, Vovo says: "I cannot always guarantee success when changing calcified tissue back to living flesh," which indicates that he has performed this process numerous times in the past. In the novelization, perhaps he and Vo Dor can be depicted as having used the calcifying process to incapacitate the former Wizards of Eo -- and their stony bodies were locked away somewhere in his laboratory. 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

Still John Carter held out his sword. In a room full of strangers and strange things it was the only thing he could trust. Vovo's promises may or may not be honest ones, but the steel in his hand had an honesty of its own and upon that known reliability the Earthman trusted. He now could see where the other handful of mechanical men had gone. While he had listened to Vovo's artful words they had circled around him. On every side he saw robots with drawn swords, inching their way toward him. 

"Stop them," the Virginian ordered, "ere my sword divides you in two halves!" 

The Earthman's tones struck terror into Vovo's heart. His smiles and ingratiating talk disappeared at once. The wizard felt the blade cutting into his rough green hide and he winced in pain. 

"Halt! Halt!" the wizard cried into his microphone. 

Oman and the other robots halted at their master's order. Not only did they cease their forward movement, but for the second time Captain Carter witnessed the bizarre scene of evidently intelligent minds going blank, like clockworks being shut down. Among all the robots only Oman's eyes continued to move. 

"Vovo's will is our will," Oman chanted in a low monotonous voice. 

"Now, wizard, if you wish to continue living," Carter spoke sternly, "you will revive the Princess Dejah Thoris -- now!" 

Then Carter prodded Vovo back to the electronic decalcifying machine. Above the body of the princess was a glass enclosure. Vovo pointed to this and spoke. 

"In your case I was able to inject the catalyst drug into your arms. But her skin will not accept an injection. She takes in air with a slow and shallow breath, so if I fill the glass chamber with the drug under a moderate pressure, it can be administered that way. 

"Then do what you must," the swordsman answered. "But remember I am watching your every move." 

"Your calcification was only a partial one, Dotar Sojat. Your bodily processes were not greatly interrupted. Her case is much different. I can remove the paralysis, but I cannot always guarantee perfect success when changing calcified tissue back to living flesh. Have patience, this will take some time" 

With Dejah Thoris within the air-tight glass case, the wizard administered the drug in a gaseous form. Then he waited until he saw certain changes in the frozen girl's eyes. The minutes dragged on and finally John Carter lowered his antique blade. The only change in the vast room, so far, was that Oman had ceased his bothersome chant. 

Vovo at last aligned the machine and pulled the switch. The healing rays moved from Dejah Thoris' head, down to her feet, and then back again. Carter waited breathlessly while the streams of bombarding electrons pierced the girl's body. 

Under the glass enclosure John Carter could see a change taking place. Where before the maiden's body had been a dull gray, it was taking on a pinkish hue. At the same time, a thin translucent shell began to take form around the girl's skin. 

"Look, Jasoomian!" Vovo practically screamed. "The petrifaction is coming out of her. When the enclosing sheath cracks open, your princess will be relieved of the curse wrought by the purple vapors of Go-La-Ra!" 

The fighting man looked on in amazement. Very slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the sleeping figure's firm breasts began to rise and fall. At her nose and mouth signs of moisture began to appear within the translucent shell. The color of her skin returned to its natural redness. Dejah Thoris took a deep breath and from her inconspicuous Barsoomian naval outward the enveloping coating cracked and fell away, like a sand castle dissolving in an ocean spray. 

"Is it over?" questioned Carter. "Will she awaken now?" 

"Are all the creatures of your primitive planet so impatient, Dotar Sojat?" The dwarf responded. "After I lift the glass you may do your part in the transformation. She cannot be awakened suddenly or her mind will never again function properly. How clear is the telepathy between the two of you?" 

Vovo removed the air-tight enclosure and once again John Carter's senses were assailed by the powerful drug. For a moment he reeled with dizziness, but the gas and its effects upon him soon dissipated and he was himself again. 

"I am still learning how you Martians project your thoughts, wizard. As you must know by now I can guard mine from your mental probing well enough. However, the princess and I have only shared small, brief episodes of thought transfer. It is something I know very little about." 

"Then now is a good time to learn, my odwar." 

The green man's big eyes took on an ominous, dominant look. He appeared to cough a little, above his microphone. Then he continued. 

"Project your thoughts into her mind, Jasoomian. Although she sleeps her brain will sense your communication. But you must do more than just that. Open your mind, concentrate upon the princess only. Let her thoughts come to you. Do not try to understand them or organize them into any special pattern. The thoughts of a dreamer are random, they go where they will. But in a while she will become sensible of your presence and her dream awareness will begin to center upon you. Do you understand what I am saying?" 

"Yes, I understand. But you have not said what effect all of this will have. I do not intend to take my eyes off you, Vovo. If you make one false move, you'll taste the steel of my blade." 

"Oh, that would not be good," the little man said with a start. "But I believe you will trust the mental process when you experience how it works. Once you have entered into her dream, speak with her, tell her where she is and what is happening. Her thoughts will then begin to come together in proper order and she can awaken without the risk of becoming a madman or an imbecile. You love her; that bond has been more than evident since I met you out upon the desert. If she loves you in return, then the mental coupling will be a strong one. Lovers upon Barsoom have shared the dreams of their sleep for ages. Meet her in her dreams and then lead her slowly back to wakefulness." 

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