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Previous page Next page navigation 11/14 branch Chapter 11.   A daring plan
       
Next paragraph     Fearing that Pew Mogel might somehow intercept any shortwave signal to Kantos Kan, John Carter sought out the flagship and hove to alongside it.
Next paragraph     The troop ships that had accompanied him on his secret mission were strung out behind their leader.
Next paragraph     Their captains awaited the next orders of this remarkable man from another world. In the last twenty-four hours they had seen John Carter accomplish a task that no Martian would have even dreamed of attempting.
Next paragraph     The next four hours would determine the success or failure of a plan so fantastic that the earthman himself had half-smiled at its contemplation.
Next paragraph     Even his old friend, Kantos Kan, shook his head sadly when John Carter explained his intentions a few minutes later in the cabin of the flagship.
Next paragraph     "I'm afraid it's no use, John Carter," he said. "Even though your plan is most ingeniously conceived, it will avail naught against that horrible monstrosity.
Next paragraph     "Helium is doomed, and although we shall all fight until the last to save her, it can do no good."
Next paragraph     As he talked, Kantos Kan was looking down at Helium far below. Joog the giant could be seen on the plain hurling great boulders into the city.
Next paragraph     Why Pew Mogel had not ordered the giant into the city itself by this time, Carter could not understand-unless it was because Pew Mogel actually enjoyed watching the destructive effect of the boulders as they crashed into the buildings of Helium.
Next paragraph     Actually, Joog, however frightful in appearance, could best serve his master's purpose by biding his time, for he was doing more damage at present than he could possibly accomplish within the city itself.
Next paragraph     But it was only a matter of time before Pew Mogel would order a general attack upon the city.
Next paragraph     Then his entrenched forces would dash in, scaling the walls and crashing the gates. Overhead would swoop the supporting apes on their speedy mounts, bringing death and destruction from the air.
Next paragraph     And finally Joog would come, adding the final coup to Pew Mogel's victory.
Next paragraph     The horrible carnage that would then fall upon his people made Kantos Kan shudder.
Next paragraph     "There is no time to lose, Kantos Kan," spoke the earthman. "I must have your assurance that you will see that my orders are followed to the letter."
Next paragraph     Kantos Kan looked at the earthman for some time before he spoke.
Next paragraph     "You have my word, John Carter," he said, "even though I know it will mean your death, for no man, not even you, can accomplish what you plan to do!"
Next paragraph     "Good!" cried the earthman. "I shall leave immediately; and when you see the giant raise and lower his arm three times, that will be your signal to carry out my orders!"
Next paragraph     Just before he left the flagship, John Carter knocked at Dejah Thoris's cabin door.
Next paragraph     "Come," he heard her reply from within. As he threw open the door, he saw Dejah Thoris seated at a table. She had just flicked off the visiscreen upon which she had caught the vision of Kantos Kan. The girl rose, tears filling her eyes.
Next paragraph     "Do not leave again, John Carter," she pleaded. "Kantos Kan has just told me of your rash plan-it cannot possibly succeed, and you will only be sacrificing yourself uselessly. Stay with me, my chieftain, and we shall die together!" John Carter strode across the room and took his princess in his arms-perhaps for the last time. She pillowed her head on his broad chest and cried softly. He held her close for a brief moment before he spoke.
Next paragraph     "Upon Mars," he said, "I have found a free and kindly people whose civilization I have learned to cherish. Their princess is the woman I love.
Next paragraph     "She and her people to whom she belongs are in grave danger. While there is even a slight chance for me to save you and Helium from the terrible catastrophe that threatens all Mars, I must act."
Next paragraph     Dejah Thoris straightened a little at his words and smiled bravely as she looked up at him.
Next paragraph     "I'm sorry, my chieftain," she whispered. "For a minute, my love for you made me forget that I belong also to my people. If there is any chance of saving them, I would be horribly selfish to detain you; so go now and remember, if you die the heart of Dejah Thoris dies with you!"
Next paragraph     A moment later John Carter was seated behind the controls of the fastest, one-man airship in the entire Helium Navy.
Next paragraph     He waved farewell to the two forlorn figures who stood at the rail of the flagship.
Next paragraph     Then he opened wide the throttle of the quiet radium engine. He could feel the little craft shudder for an instant as it gained speed. The earthman pointed its nose upward and rose far above the battleground.
      Then he nosed over and dove down. The wind whistled shrilly off the craft's trim lines as its increased momentum sped it, comet-like, downward-straight toward the giant!
       
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