CHAPTER 34: "FUTILE DARING"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
"You've sealed their doom!" John Carter heard the little
green man screaming. The Earthman's heavy fist sent the mad dwarf flying
through the air, but not before the impact of Carter's body had forced
the wizard's hand down upon the fifth switch on the machine control panel.
Vovo landed in a heap upon the floor, but he was not badly
injured. All of his attention was centered on Oman, who was at that moment
hurriedly flipping switches and turning knobs, attempting to halt the experimental
process already underway.
"So, my trusted odwar, so show your true colors at last!"
Vovo screamed. "I should have eliminated you years ago. But there is nothing
you can do to stop the action of my machines upon the bodies of the princess
and that interfering calot. Already the switches have been thrown that
lock the enclosure in place and activates the expansion beams."
Oman ceased his attempts to terminate the experiment.
Vovo was correct in saying that nothing could be done to stop what had
been set in motion. However, that fact alone did the green wizard little
good. His domination of Eo was effectively finished.
"What your hands have caused to happen other hands may
yet reverse." Oman replied. "Even now your experiment goes forth with all
of the controls inoperative. But when it is concluded I shall find a way
to remedy the results. Where are your radium pistol and your transmitting
microphone now, Master Vovo. See, they are here at my feet. This is the
end of your cruel rule, for now I shall govern the mechano-men as the true
Wizards of Eo intended they be led!"
John Carter heard these reassuring words, but his attention
was focused upon the Princess of Helium. Beneath the glass enclosure she
was at that very moment being bombarded by Vovo's terrible ray machines.
The Earthman gasped in horror as the unnatural glow inside the glass intensified
and the bodies of the red princess and the calot went rigid and began to
"At last!" cried the wizard. "At last all Barsoom will
hail my genius! My five hundred years of labor were now bear fruit!"
Dejah Thoris and Woola were growing visibly in size. As
though enlarged by the sudden imposition of a great magnifying glass, the
two bodies quickly doubled in mass. Dejah Thoris appeared unmindful of
the unstoppable metamorphosis but Woola was anxious beyond measure. Then
there was another period of intense shaking, accompanied by the pitiful
sounding cries of the Martian watchdog.
"Is there nothing we can do?" cried the Earthman in bitter
"Remember that I told you things are not always what they
seem on the forbidden plateau of Eo," the mechanical man replied. "You
are seeing only one aspect of all that is happening; I perceive many things
your mind cannot now comprehend. I can also tell you that Vovo has tried
this experiment before, with much smaller, inanimate subjects. The effects
need not be permanent. There is yet hope for your princess.
The second doubling of the glass-enclosed bodies stunned
the calot into a stupor almost as immobilizing as Dejah Thoris' drug-induced
trance. After that there was no more yelping, but the whole area was plagued
with bone-piercing vibrations that caused walls to tumble and objects to
crash throughout the vast pile of ruins. Through all of this as many as
two hundred of the mechano-men stood, gazing straight forward, as though
they were statues. A large piece of machinery fell over upon several of
them. This accident caught Vovo's attention and he gave the command that
reactivated the crowd of robots. Thenceforth they protected themselves
from danger but did nothing else of any consequence.
When the final doubling was concluded the thick glass
of the dome began to crack from the internal pressure, sending forth a
loud concussion. For several seconds the observers could only watch in
suspense as the thin break-lines spread all across the glassy surface.
At the same time the buzzing and humming of Vovo's many pieces of equipment
fell silent and the incandescent lights flickered out, leaving the area
bathed in the eerie luminescence of numerous unfailing radium bulbs of
great antiquity. In this uncanny radiance the unmoving maiden and calot
presented the appearance of a giant tableau -- like a great prehistoric
monolith, carved by the elements into a semblance of man and beast.
Finally the entire dome came crashing down, but in a snowfall
of fragments so small as to cause no being present any serious injury.
So there in the vast open area, covered in sparkling particles of glass
were the giant forms of Dejah Thoris of Helium and Woola the calot from
Korad. Nothing moved. Nobody spoke. Even Omen was temporarily at the enormous
transformation. At length Woola coughed and shook his gigantic body, sending
a torrent of glass fragments into the ranks of the mechano-men and causing
many of them to move away in self protection.
Vovo appeared to have gone totally mad. He jumped about
in mindless exuberance, gibbering over and over about his great intelligence.
When John Carter could take no more of the idiotic behavior, another swing
of his fist sent the raving wizard back to his previous spot upon the ground.
"If only Vo Dor could have lived to see this!" Vovo raved
on. "He never would believe that inanimate mass could be multiplied, let
alone a living thing's size and weight be doubled three times. And look
at them -- they are still alive! I regret now having earlier disposed of
my inimical predecessor; he should have died better aware of my superior
Nobody paid any further attention to the deranged wizard,
but Oman at last spoke to John Carter about another matter of greater importance
and greater danger.
"You must do what you can to control this monstrous calot,
Dotar Sojat. The princess is awakening from the drug that Vovo administered
and no doubt she will respond to reason. But the animal will be confused.
His insides may ache; or he may be enraged; and he may do great damage
if he is not restrained. Never before on the plateau of Eo has there been
such an unnatural menace on the loose.