CHAPTER 28: "DEATHLESS FOES"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
By what can only be described as a miracle, the Virginian
managed to elude the many grasping metal hands and roll free of the struggle
with Dejah Thoris in his arms. He attempted leaping, but it was not very
practical among the tightly packed buildings. However, he managed to get
ahead of the robots and, for the moment at least, Carter and the princess
were free. Behind them the pair heard the the wizard screaming "Seize them!"
but John Carter and the granddaughter of Tardos Mors continued their flight
through Eo's unlit alleyways.
Dejah Thoris was rapidly regaining her senses and she
better understood now what was happening around them. The girl knew that
she was slowing John Carter, however. Even he could not fight off the robots,
pick out an escape route and carry her all at once.
"Dotar Sojat, put me down; I can move on my own!" she
"You are falling to the ground!" he replied. "Here, I'll
pick you up!"
"No, I'm right beside you. Lead the way and I shall follow."
They came shortly to an open space -- a little plaza where
both street lights and moonlight combined to provide a much better view
of things. Indeed, Dejah Thoris, who could not even stand upon her own
feet minutes before, was now running almost as quickly as her companion.
The Earthman spoke words of courage to the girl, urging her to greater
Just behind them the runners heard the voice of Vovo:
"Stop, fools! You cannot escape my mechanical creations -- they will follow
you tirelessly to eternity!"
The couple slowed their pace. On every side of the small
open square stood at least a hundred of the mechano-men. More were pouring
in from all quarters.
"He is right, John," Dejah Thoris admitted. "We will grow
tired -- they never will. Between us we have two swords -- they have five
hundred swords and spears. Many are carrying guns!"
"Where?" demanded the Earthman, incredulously. "I see
no guns among them! But look, they have left an empty space behind them,
Suddenly Carter grasped the girl and wheeled. His earthly
muscles sent the two of them in a high leap over the robot's heads. Once
again they were free, but in the dark, unfamiliar maze of buildings and
jungle, John Carter could find no escape route.
Dejah Thoris would point out an alley, but he would not
see it. Carter would suggest a hiding place and the girl answer was that
it was far too small. They seemed to agree on nothing, other than the night
was very cold and the pathways very dark. Both of them wondered if the
wine they had taken in Vovo's lab was blurring their perception, almost
to the point of hallucination? With thousands of the invulnerable robots
at Vovo's command, how could they hope to win?
"They are right behind us, John -- what shall we do now?"
But her companon could give no answer. For the moment their only comfort
was in knowing that they faced their fate together.
If calots can be puzzled, then Woola was puzzled in the
extreme. Atop of the flat mountain his sensitive nostrils could detect
no trace of human, green man, nor even of any other large animals. Here
and there he happened upon a few insects, even a bird or two, but, to the
many-toothed beast, the plateau's summit appeared to be virtually deserted.
Yet, he could see the footprints of many men on the trail he followed.
But which prints to follow? Some pointed one way and some the other. The
Martian hound halted and stood in the middle of the path thoroughly perplexed.
Then the wind shifted and his twitching ears caught the faint sound of
"One thing is for certain, I will not leave you, Dejah
Thoris. Many days ago, in Korad, we agreed that our only chance of escape
was to go together. But there is no time to speak of these matters now.
The metal men are again surrounding us. See, they are over on our left
"No, my chieftain, they are not. But on the right they
are coming. And from behind. And I hear their sounds ahead of us as well!"
The noise of the chase was everywhere. It occurred to
the two humans that all of Eo was alerted and from the workshops in the
caverns below the city, hundreds more of the metal humanoids would soon
emerg into the narrow streets. Carter and Dejah Thoris were cornered by
the tireless mechano-men. They knew there was no place left for them to
run, or leap, or hide.
The couple saw Vovo emerge from an alleyway. In his hand
he held a brilliant radium torch. For many heartbeats the little green
dwarf stood there, moving the light in slow circles across their naked
figures. It took no great effort for them to discern the wizard's thoughts.
He complimented himself on how well man's hands had healed and how the
woman's exquisite body was now supple and free of all blemish. Her curves
and clefts spoke the physical language of health, strength and womanly
endowment. Vovo thought that the man was a splendid specimen of molded
physique and stimulating potency. All of this the last Wizard of Eo had
brought back to life. It would be a shame to destroy such good results,
but the man was no longer of use.
At last Vovo spoke. He remarked that it was very cold
out and that "Even the hot-blooded young wench must be freezing." The humans
heard him order a mechano-man to find the girl a cape and to deliver her
to his experiment site in the ruins. The he ordered Vovo to "dispose of
the Jasoomian on the rubbish heap" and then to rejoin his master.
Oman, the Odwar of the Army of Eo, listened intently to
his master. He raised his hand to carry out the command. Then he hesitated.
In his memory he saw Eo as it had been hundreds of thousands of years before.
He recalled the great ocean that lapped the shores of Isle Eo, and the
beautiful birds, and the bands of playful, gentle six-limbed creatures
who dwelt in the untamed forests. And the coming of the Cosoomians. That
had been long ago -- long before Vovo's time.
To Oman had come the orders to dispose of the Earthman,
but to deliver the princess for another of Vovo's experiments. But who
was Oman? The mind of the metal man pondered that question. Who was he?
Where had he come from? Why could he not picture his own form, in his memories
of the timid green creatures, running wild and free through the protective
The humans noticed Oman's hesitation and looked on in
"Vovo's will is my will!" he called out. Then Oman made
ready to kill John Carter.