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  branch John Carter and the Giant of Mars
Previous page Next page navigation 7/14 branch Chapter 7.   The flying terror
       
Next paragraph     As Gore, the great white ape with a man's brain, crouched to meet John Carter, he was fully confident of overcoming his puny man opponent.
Next paragraph     But to make assurance doubly sure, Gore drew the great blade at his side and rushed madly at his foe, hacking and cutting viciously.
Next paragraph     The momentum of the brute's attack forced Carter backward a few steps as he deftly warded off the mighty blows.
Next paragraph     But the earthman saw his chance. Quickly, surely, his blade streaked. There was a sudden twist and Gore's sword went hurtling across the room. Gore, however, reacted with lightning speed. With his four huge hands he grasped the naked steel of the earthman's sword.
Next paragraph     Violently he jerked the blade from Carter's grasp and, raising it overhead, snapped the strong steel in two as if it had been a splinter of wood.
Next paragraph     Now, with a low growl, Gore closed in; and Carter crouched.
Next paragraph     Suddenly the man leaped over the ape's head; but again with uncanny speed the monster shot out a hairy hand and grasped the earthman's ankle.
Next paragraph     Gore held John Carter in his four hands, drawing the man closer and closer to the drooling jowls and gleaming fangs.
Next paragraph     But with a surge of his mighty muscles, the earthman jerked free his arm and sent a terrific blow crashing full into Gore's face.
Next paragraph     The ape recoiled, dropping John Carter, and staggered back toward the huge window on the right wall by Pew Mogel's throne.
Next paragraph     Here the beast tottered; and the earthman, seeing his chance, once again leaped into the air, but this time flew feet foremost toward the ape.
Next paragraph     At the moment of contact with the ape's chest, Carter extended his legs violently; and so, as his feet struck Gore, this force was added to the hurtling momentum of his body.
Next paragraph     With a bellowing cry, Gore hurtled out through the window and his screams ended only when he landed with a sickening crunch in the courtyard far below.
Next paragraph     Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas, chained to the pillars, had watched the short fight, fascinated by the earthman's sure, quick actions.
Next paragraph     But when Carter did not succumb instantly to Gore's attack, Pew Mogel had grown frightened. He began jerking dials and switches; and then spoke swiftly into the little microphone beside him.
Next paragraph     So now, as the earthman regained his feet and advanced slowly toward Pew Mogel, he did not see the black shadow that obscured the window behind him.
Next paragraph     Only when Dejah Thoris screamed a warning did the earthman turn. But he was too late!
Next paragraph     A giant hand, fully three feet across, closed about his body. He was lifted from the floor and pulled out quickly through the window.
Next paragraph     To Carter's ears came the hopeless cry of his princess mingled with the cruel, hollow laugh of Pew Mogel.
Next paragraph     Carter did not need the added assurance of his eyes to know that he was being held in the grasp of Pew Mogel's synthetic giant. Joog's fetid breath blasting across his face was ample evidence.
Next paragraph     Joog held Carter several feet from his face and contracted his features in the semblance of a grin, exposing his two great rows of cracked, stained teeth the size of sharp boulders. Hoarse, gurgling sounds emanated from Joog's throat as he held the earthman before his face.
Next paragraph     "I, Joog. I, Joog," the monster finally managed. "I can kill! I can kill!"
Next paragraph     Then he shook his victim until the man's teeth rattled. But quite suddenly the giant was quiet, listening; then Carter became aware of muffled words coming, apparently, from Joog's ear.
Next paragraph     Then John Carter realized that the command was coming from Pew Mogel, transmitted by short wave to a receiving device attached to one of Joog's ears.
Next paragraph     "To the arena," repeated the voice. "Fasten him over the pit!"
Next paragraph     The pit-what new form of devilish torture was this? Carter tried vaguely to ease the awful pressure that was crushing him. But his arms were pinned to his sides by the giant's grasp. All the man could do was breathe laboriously and hope that Joog's great strides would soon bring them to his destination, whatever that might be.
Next paragraph     The giant's tremendous pace, stepping over tall, ancient edifices or across wide, spacious plazas in single, mighty strides, soon brought them to a large, crowded amphitheatre on the outskirts of the city.
Next paragraph     The amphitheatre apparently was fashioned from a natural crater. Row upon row of circular tiers had been carved within the inner wall of the crater, forming a series of levels upon which sat thousands of white apes.
Next paragraph     In the center of the arena was a circular pit about fifty feet across. The pit contained what appeared to be water whose level was about fifteen feet from the top of the pit.
Next paragraph     Three iron-barred cages hung suspended over the center of the pit by means of three heavy ropes, one attached to the top of each cage and running up through a pulley in the scaffolding built overhead and down to the edge of the pit where it was anchored. Joog climbed partly over the edge of the coliseum and deposited Carter on the brink of the pit. Five great apes held him there while another ape lowered one of the cages to ground level.
Next paragraph     Then he reached out with a hooked pole and swung the cage over the edge. He unlocked the cage door with a large key.
Next paragraph     The keeper for the key was a short, heavy-set ape with a bull neck and exceedingly close-set eyes.
Next paragraph     This brute now came up to Carter and although the captive was being held by five other apes, he grabbed him cruelly by the hair and jerked Carter into the cage, at the same time kicking him viciously.
Next paragraph     The cage door was slammed immediately, it's padlock bolted closed. Now Carter's cage was pulled up over the pit and the rope anchored to a davit at the edge.
Next paragraph     It was not long before Joog returned with Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas. Their chains had been removed.
Next paragraph     They were placed in the other two cages that hung over the pit next to John Carter.
Next paragraph     "Oh, John Carter, my chieftain!" cried Dejah Thoris, when she saw him in the cage next to hers. "Thank Issus you are still alive!" The little princess was crying softly.
Next paragraph     John Carter reached through the bars and took her hand in his. He tried to speak reassuring words to her but he knew, as did Tars Tarkas, who sat grim faced in the other cage beside his, that Pew Mogel had ordained their deaths but in what manner they would die, Carter, as yet, was uncertain.
Next paragraph     "John Carter," spoke Tars Tarkas softly, "do you notice that all those thousands of apes gathered here in the arena apparently are paying no attention to us?"
Next paragraph     "Yes, I noticed," replied the earthman. "They are all looking into the sky toward the city."
Next paragraph     "Look," whispered Dejah Thoris. "It's the same thing on which the ape rode when he captured me in the Helium Forest after shooting our thoat!"
Next paragraph     There appeared in the sky, coming from the direction of the city, a great, lone bird upon whose back rode a single man.
Next paragraph     The earthman's keen eyes squinted for an instant. "The bird is a malagor. Pew Mogel is riding it."
Next paragraph     The bird and its rider circled directly overhead.
Next paragraph     "Open the east gate," Pew Mogel commanded, his voice ringing out through a loudspeaker somewhere in the arena.
Next paragraph     The gates were thrown open and there began pouring out into the arena wave after wave of malagors exactly like the bird Pew Mogel rode.
Next paragraph     As the malagors came out, column after column of apes were waiting at the entrance to vault onto the birds' backs.
Next paragraph     As each bird was mounted, it rose into the air by telepathic command to join a constantly growing formation circling high overhead.
Next paragraph     The mounting of the birds must have taken nearly two hours, so great were the numbers of Pew Mogel's apes and birds. Carter noticed that upon each ape's back was strapped a rifle and each bird carried a varying assortment of military equipment, including ammunition supplies, small cannon and a sub-machine gun was carried by each flight platoon.
Next paragraph     At last all was ready and Pew Mogel descended down over the cages of his three captives.
Next paragraph     "You see now Pew Mogel's mighty army," he cried, "with which he will conquer Helium and then all Basoom." The man seemed very confident, for his crooked, misshapen body sat very straight upon his feathered mount.
Next paragraph     "Before you are chewed to bits by the reptiles in the water below you," he said "you will have a few moments to consider the fate that awaits Helium within the next forty-eight hours. I should have preferred to conquer peacefully but you interfered. For that, you die, slowly and horribly."
Next paragraph     Pew Mogel turned to the only ape that was left in the arena, the keeper of the key to the cages.
Next paragraph     "Open the flood-gate!" was his single command before he rose up to lead his troops off toward the north.
      Accompanying the weird, flying army in a sling carried by a hundred malagors rode Joog, the synthetic giant. A hollow, mirthless laugh peeled like thunder from the giant's throat as he was born away into the sky.
       
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