A Princess of Mars HTML version
Through Carnage To Joy
Sometime later Tars Tarkas and Kantos Kan returned to report that Zodanga had been
completely reduced. Her forces were entirely destroyed or captured, and no further
resistance was to be expected from within. Several battleships had escaped, but there
were thousands of war and merchant vessels under guard of Thark warriors.
The lesser hordes had commenced looting and quarreling among themselves, so it was
decided that we collect what warriors we could, man as many vessels as possible with
Zodangan prisoners and make for Helium without further loss of time.
Five hours later we sailed from the roofs of the dock buildings with a fleet of two
hundred and fifty battleships, carrying nearly one hundred thousand green warriors,
followed by a fleet of transports with our thoats.
Behind us we left the stricken city in the fierce and brutal clutches of some forty thousand
green warriors of the lesser hordes. They were looting, murdering, and fighting amongst
themselves. In a hundred places they had applied the torch, and columns of dense smoke
were rising above the city as though to blot out from the eye of heaven the horrid sights
In the middle of the afternoon we sighted the scarlet and yellow towers of Helium, and a
short time later a great fleet of Zodangan battleships rose from the camps of the besiegers
without the city, and advanced to meet us.
The banners of Helium had been strung from stem to stern of each of our mighty craft,
but the Zodangans did not need this sign to realize that we were enemies, for our green
Martian warriors had opened fire upon them almost as they left the ground. With their
uncanny marksmanship they raked the on-coming fleet with volley after volley.
The twin cities of Helium, perceiving that we were friends, sent out hundreds of vessels
to aid us, and then began the first real air battle I had ever witnessed.
The vessels carrying our green warriors were kept circling above the contending fleets of
Helium and Zodanga, since their batteries were useless in the hands of the Tharks who,
having no navy, have no skill in naval gunnery. Their small-arm fire, however, was most
effective, and the final outcome of the engagement was strongly influenced, if not wholly
determined, by their presence.
At first the two forces circled at the same altitude, pouring broadside after broadside into
each other. Presently a great hole was torn in the hull of one of the immense battle craft
from the Zodangan camp; with a lurch she turned completely over, the little figures of her
crew plunging, turning and twisting toward the ground a thousand feet below; then with
sickening velocity she tore after them, almost completely burying herself in the soft loam
of the ancient sea bottom.