CHAPTER 33: "BOLD ATTEMPT"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
Dejah Thoris struggled to prevent the robot from injecting
the drug into her arm, but to no avail. Before the effects could further
cloud her mind she demanded that the little wizard tell her what had happened
to the Jasoomian, but Vovo avoided giving her a direct answer. All he would
say was "You will never again see the one you call Dotar Sojat -- and soon
you will be quite happy about that." Vovo then directed her attention away
from such thoughts and to the cape the mechano-man had just taken from
"I will now give you a little preview of what is coming,
granddaughter of Tardos Mors," she heard him say. "Watch carefully what
happens to the robe you had wrapped about you."
The wizard pulled some switches on one of the control
panels and the huge glass dome descended until its bottom rim was just
a little above the ground. A robot threw the cape under the great enclosure
and then Vovo lowered it until it hit the ground with a heavy thump. Next,
Vovo's robots manipulated a ray projecting machine outside of the dome,
aiming the end of its long beam shaft directly at the robe. At that point
Vovo threw a switch and something impossible happened.
It appeared to John Carter that the mechanical mount was
hovering in the air, a little above the tree tops, and that he and Oman
were looking down upon a large transparent enclosure. Not far from this
were Vovo, Dejah Thoris and a large number of Eo's mechanical men. The
Earthman was ready to rush to the girl's defense at once, but Oman pointed
out the many robots surrounding her. Vovo was in complete control of all
of them. But he implored Carter to projected his thoughts to her, with
all his will, and try to gain her response.
Oman scrutinized the faces of the two humans. If his plan
was going to work, they must make mental contact at once. As soon as that
happened he would distract Vovo and the three of them could move to end
the wicked experiment before it began. But the girl seemed distracted --
so deeply under Vovo's spell that she did not perceive the arrival of her
Before her widening eyes the cape she had worn doubled
in size; then it doubled again and again, until it was many times its original
mass. Only when Vovo turned off the bombarding rays did the great heap
of fabric cease its miraculous expansion.
"Now that you have seen my little preview, Dejah Thoris,
perhaps your mind can grasp the fate I have in store for you. My mass-multiplier
ray will increase your size, just as you saw the cape was expanded. At
the same time I will take full control of your enlarged brain -- the largest,
most complex and powerful brain on all Barsoom. It will be my pleasure
to instruct that unique, pliant mind and to put its great analytical capacity
to effective use in my service!"
"But have no fear," he continued, "I will not harm you.
In fact, I have been careful to fine tune the multiplier's settings so
that your expanded bones and muscles can support your new weight. I will
do all of that without changing your present lovely proportions. If you
will now be so kind as to step under the dome when I raise it, Princess
Vovo's mechanical robots carried the princess beneath
the domed glass enclosure and left her there, flat on her back. The strong
drug the wizard had given the girl had already made her oblivious to her
impending fate. From his seat among the switches and controls, the Wizard
of Eo began the count-down for greatest experiment.
Woola had gained the lead and was leaping straight toward
the dazed girl. Sensing his master's anxiety for the princess, the Martian
watchdog slipped under the descending glass enclosure at the last possible
moment and raced to her side. Much to his dismay Woola found the girl unresponsive
to his yelps. Then the wind rushed past him so quickly that his ears ached
terribly. Poor Woola -- he had not the slightest premonition as to what
was about to happen!
One by one Vovo flipped the switches and turned the knobs
that set his carefully orchestrated process into motion. As the glass dome
descended to its locked position, four enlarging ray shafts slid into position
around the prone subject. Vovo made a slight adjustment in their aim in
order to avoid expanding any more the already enlarged cape. The readings
on his instruments informed him that he had enough organic compounds in
storage to increase the maiden's mass by eight hundred percent, resulting
in a new height of close to seventy-five sofads (75 ft.) and still leave
a great deal of unused material in reserve. That amount of enlargement
would result in the expansion of her brain's cerebral cortex by exactly
the measure he wanted. He set the air pressure to compensate for the sudden
increase in mass under the dome. The most delicate part of the operation
centered in his making sure the there would be a sufficient number of new
blood vessels of the correct size to adequately nourish the expanded body.
He did not want to place any undue stress on the enlarged heart, so Vovo's
last instrument adjustments set the new heart size to conform exactly with
his finely calculated specifications.
All of these important observations and considerations
occupied the wizard's attention so closely that he only looked up from
the instrument readouts after the dome was locked into place. Of the five
final switches on his control panel, Vovo had already flipped four of them
into the closed position. Now his trembling green fingers hesitated over
the fifth switch. Where had the calot come from? What was it doing beside
his experiment subject? Vovo cursed aloud and with the other hand he reached
for his radium pistol.
Oman was shocked when he witnessed the impulsive calot
bound forward to the side of the semi-conscious maiden. His carefully conceived
plan fell apart then and there. Vovo was just becoming aware of the interruption
to his experiment, and before anything could be done to stop him his radium
pistol would destroy any and all intruders. However, the robot had not
even completed making that lightning fast conclusion when something was
done to halt the detestable green dwarf.
Dejah Thoris watched the enclosure descend over her limp
body, the enormous cape and all else that was within her field of view.
For an instant it seemed as though she were back in Vovo's tower laboratory,
where a much smaller glass had confined her body when the wizard performed
her decalcification. But the sensation left as quickly as it had come and
in its place was the absurd notion that Woola was beside her under the
glass. Then her perception was assaulted by a maddening whirl of colors
and flowing shapes. No longer able to gather her thoughts, the Princess
of Helium surrendered her mind to insanity.
For less than a eye-blink's interval John Carter felt
Dejah Thoris' thoughts enter his mind. It was a precarious, ephemeral contact,
but it was all the reassurance he needed before plunging the flying metal
thoat directly into the Wizard of Eo. Oman fell to one side as the mechanical
mount fell out of the air. The Earthman felt as though the robot steed
had disintegrated beneath him, leaving only Carter's flying body and outstretched
sword to impact upon the living target of his malice. An instant later,
amid the shattering of glass and the crunching of metal, the mechanical
mount crashed headlong into the control area where the wizard sat.