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white The Barsoom series
  branch John Carter and the Giant of Mars
Previous page Next page navigation 12/14 branch Chapter 12.   The fate of a nation
Next paragraph     Neither Pew Mogel nor the giant Joog had yet seen the lone craft diving toward them from overhead. Pew Mogel, seated inside the armored howdah that was attached to Joog's enormous helmet, was issuing attack orders to his troops by shortwave.
Next paragraph     A strip of glass, about three feet wide, completely encircled the howdah, enabling Pew Mogel to obtain complete, unrestricted vision of his fighting forces below.
Next paragraph     Perhaps if Pew Mogel had looked up through the circular glass skylight in the dome of his steel shelter, he would have seen the earthman's speedy little craft streaking down on him from above.
Next paragraph     John Carter was banking his life, that of the woman he loved and the survival of Helium upon the hope that Pew Mogel would not look up.
Next paragraph     John Carter was driving his little craft with bullet speed straight toward that circular opening on top of Pew Mogel's sanctuary.
Next paragraph     Joog was standing still now, shoulders hunched forward. Pew Mogel had ordered him to be quiet while he completed his last-minute command to his troops.
Next paragraph     The giant was on the plain between the mountains and the city. Not until he was five hundred feet above the little round window did Carter pull back on the throttle.
Next paragraph     He had gained his great height to avoid discovery by Pew Mogel. His speed was for the same purpose.
Next paragraph     Now, if he were to come out alive himself, he must slow down his hurtling craft. That impact must occur at exactly the right speed.
Next paragraph     If he made the crash too fast, he might succeed only in killing himself, with no assurance that Pew Mogel had died with him.
Next paragraph     On the other hand, if the speed of his ship were too slow it would never crash through the tough glass that covered the opening. In that case, his crippled plane would bounce harmlessly off the howdah and carry Carter to his death on the battlefield below.
Next paragraph     One hundred feet over the window!
Next paragraph     He shut off the motor, a quick glance at the speedometer too fast for the impact!
Next paragraph     His hands flew over the instrument panel. He jerked back on three levers. Three little parachutes whipped out behind the craft. There was a tug on the plane as its speed slowed down.
Next paragraph     Then the ship's nose crashed against the little window! There was a crunch of steel, a splinter of wood, as the ship's nose collapsed; then a clatter of glass that ended in a dull, trembling thud as the craft bore through the window and lodged part way in the floor of Pew Mogel's compartment.
Next paragraph     The tail of the craft was protruding out of the top of the howdah, but the craft's door was inside the compartment.
Next paragraph     John Carter sprang from his ship, his blade gleaming in his hand.
Next paragraph     Pew Mogel was still spinning around crazily in his revolving chair from the tremendous impact. His earphones and attached microphone, with which he had directed Joog's actions as well as his troop formations, had been knocked off his head and lay on the floor at his feet.
Next paragraph     When his foolish spin finally stopped, Pew Mogel remained seated. He stared incredulously at the earthman.
Next paragraph     His small, lidless eyes bulged. He opened his crooked mouth several times to speak. Now his twisted fingers worked spasmodically.
Next paragraph     "Draw your sword, Pew Mogel!" spoke the earthman so low that Pew Mogel could hardly hear the words. The synthetic man made no move to obey.
Next paragraph     "You're dead!" he finally croaked. It was like the man was trying to convince himself that what he saw confronting him with naked sword was only an ill-begotten hallucination. So hard, in fact, did Pew Mogel continue to stare that his left eye behaved as Carter had seen it do once before in Korvas when the creature was excited.
Next paragraph     It popped out of its socket and hung down on his cheek. "Quickly, Pew Mogel, draw your weapon-I have no time to waste!"
Next paragraph     Carter could feel the giant below him growing restless, shifting uneasily on his enormous feet. Apparently he did not yet suspect the change of masters in the howdah strapped to his helmet; yet he had jumped perceptibly when Carter's craft had torn into his master's sanctuary.
Next paragraph     Carter reached down and picked up the microphone on the floor.
Next paragraph     "Raise your arm," he shouted into the mouthpiece.
Next paragraph     There was a pause; then the giant raised the right arm high over his head.
Next paragraph     "Lower arm," Carter commanded again. The giant obeyed. Twice more, Carter gave the same command and the giant obeyed each time. The earthman half smiled. He knew Kantos Kan had seen the signal and would follow the orders he had given him earlier.
Next paragraph     Now Pew Mogel's hand suddenly shot down to his side. It started back up with a radium gun.
Next paragraph     There was a blinding flash as he pulled the trigger; then the gun flew miraculously from his hand.
Next paragraph     Carter had leaped to one side. His sword had crashed against the weapon knocking it from Pew Mogel's grasp. Now the man was forced to draw his sword.
Next paragraph     There, on top of the giant's head, fighting furiously with a synthetic man of Mars, John Carter found himself in one of the weirdest predicaments of his adventurous life.
Next paragraph     Pew Mogel was no mean swordsman. In fact, so furious was his first attack that he had the earthman backing around the room hard-pressed to parry the swift torrent of blows that were aimed indiscriminately at every inch of his body from head to toe.
Next paragraph     It was a ghastly sensation, fighting with a man whose eye hung down the side of his face. Pew Mogel had forgotten that it had popped out. The synthetic man could see equally well with either eye.
      Now Pew Mogel had worked the earthman over to the window. Just for an instant he glanced out. An exclamation of surprise escaped his lips.