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Tales of the Morgor War

THE SKEPTICS

By David Adams

How John Carter returned across the vast expanse of space between Sasoom and Barsoom with his beloved Dejah Thoris is another story. Suffice it to say, they met with a few adventures along the way, which I may record at another time.

You will recall that John Carter had managed to capture one of the Morgor’s invisible ships, and upon this they traveled the millions of miles, spending much of the time becoming reacquainted in their own mutual bliss.

Carter, being a warrior at heart, was worried about the threat of the Morgors, and he even thought to stop back at the city of Zanor where he took samples of the amazing sands of invisibility from the shores of the vast ocean. He too asked his friend, Han Du, to return with him to Barsoom with his wife, O Ala, but they did not want to leave their own people since they were daily threatened by the Morgors. Unfortunately, the bodies of the Morgors he had killed there had been burned by the people of Zanor, so he was not able to return with the corpses for their own scientists to study.

That Bandolian and his hordes would attack Barsoom Carter had no doubt. He had seen their evil planet of Sasoom, and he knew the intentions of their hearts.

The fact that these inveterate conquerors could command thousands of invisible ships posed such a grave threat to his planet that he did not waste any time fighting the Morgors on their own ground. They were too powerful for a single man in a single ship.

John Carter flew home to sound the alarm.

Upon the morning of his return, John Carter landed the invisible Morgor ship directly upon the landing dock of his own palace. His guards were startled speechless when a doorway opened out of the thin air and their own Warlord appeared with his beloved Princess. They reappeared as mysteriously as they had once disappeared, seemingly out of nothing. He looked upon his own people again and simply said, “Kaor.”

Everyone was overjoyed to have the famous couple back again. Tardos Mors wept, and Tars Tarkas only thought to pound his spear on the marble floor a dozen times in his happiness. Carthoris and Thuvia hugged them both, and a great feast was immediately ordered. John Carter smiled at them all and said that he would explain everything in due time.

That evening when the great hall of the palace of Helium was filled with all of their friends, John Carter finally spoke of the Morgors. The tables had nearly been cleared of food and jeweled plates before he rose to speak, so by then everyone was almost delirious with curiosity. Where had they been for so many months? Even the servants paused to listen.

“My friends,” Carter began slowly, taking a deep breath that could be heard throughout the entire hall, so quiet it had become. He continued, seeming to look into the eyes of everyone at once. “My beloved people of Helium, we are facing a grave danger.” With these opening words, a golden knife slipped from a serving tray being carried from the room and clanged upon the floor like a gong in the great expanse of the hall. Carter’s eyes flickered quickly to the spot where the knife lay upon the stone, then quickly shifted to Deja’s own beloved orbs, which were wide with wonder and astonishment.

“I...” Carter, stumbled a second as his mind raced back from the interruption. “I have returned with my Princess, and we both are well.” Everyone was beaming again.

Carter continued with a grave demeanor. “The ship we came upon was from a distant place.” Again he paused, this time for effect. “A terrible place.” The silence in the room was palpable. “We have returned from Sasoom. It is inhabited. Yes, it is inhabited by a wicked race of people called the Morgors.” A low murmur arose from the crowd.

Carter went on, “I am a fighting man, not a maker of speeches. You all know me well. I would not raise the cry of alarm were it not serious. We are in a serious position today. We are threatened -- all Barsoom is threatened by the Morgors.”

A great wave of voices filled the room, and Tars Tarkas rose, lifting his spear which brought a sudden silence again. “Let the Warlord continue,” he said in a deep, booming voice that filled the hall.

John Carter continued, looking at his people with a fondness that he usually reserved for his Princess alone. “My people,” he said, “the Morgors mean to attack Barsoom with thousands of ships such as the one we returned upon. They have the power of invisibility. I do not mean to cause a panic among you; you are all nobles and men and women of bravery and character, but you should know the truth. The Morgors are capable of the conquest of our home.”

“No! No!” came a great shout from many brave red and green warriors alike. “We shall fight them to the death!”

“Yes, I know you are strong and willing to face any danger,” Carter spoke above the throng, “but listen to me.” “Tomorrow I will present my report to the Council of Barsoom and they will see the threat. For now, you must be content to hold your silence among the people of the Twin Cities, for we do not want to frighten them needlessly. We will find a way to meet this emergency I am sure, but for now a cautious silence will be best among the strongest so that the weaker ones will live in calmness and peace before they too will have to learn the truth.”

With these words, a very long speech for John Carter indeed, he sat upon his wooden chair at the head of the table and took the hand of his beloved at his side.

The following morning, John Carter walked to the great Council Chambers of Barsoom instead of riding a thoat as was his usual mode of transportation across the great square. He was accompanied by Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, Tardos Mors, Carthoris, and Thuvia. It was a royal family hand-in-hand that slowly ascended the marble ramp into the gleaming ersite hallways. All the nobles and ladies of the court followed them, and shoving behind came many of the citizens of Barsoom to hear what John Carter had to say, for the story of the Morgors had not gone completely unspoken in the city of Helium.

This day the Warlord of Barsoom did not take his usual place upon the high rostrum that surrounded the circular hall. He stood in the middle of a forest of soaring columns upon the very center of the marble floor, and when everyone had found their seats, he would be entirely surrounded by the greatest powers of the land.

Today, John Carter seemed like a changed man from the night before. He seemed impatient at the slow filling of the chamber. He folded his arms and almost glared at the people as they quickly took their places under his fierce gaze. John Carter was dressed in his finest harness of war, and both of his swords hung at his sides.

Finally, when it seemed that everyone had taken their places, John Carter quickly drew his swords, clashed them together, and held them above his head and cried, “Death to the Morgors!”

Everyone was astonished at his startling action. Never had they seen such a display upon the floor of the council. Never had they heard such anger in the Warlord’s voice. It is a grave offense to draw one’s sword in this Chamber of Peace, and before them was a man waving two of them almost dancing for a battle to begin.

“I have returned from Sasoom! John Carter cried aloud, “and the people there mean to conquer the entire planet of Barsoom! They have the means, as you will soon learn from our own scientists. They can render their ships invisible, and they think of nothing but war. All too soon they will be among us, and we must prepare for a world war upon an unprecedented scale. Everyone must be involved with these efforts, every man, woman, every child upon the planet. We will face an enemy such as has never been seen before in the entire history of Barsoom!”

A great cry of objection arose from nearly every voice in the hall. Finally, the Chief Counselor of the Chamber arose and raised his hands for silence, which was slowly given. “Let him speak,” the Counselor said with dignity, “for John Carter has never before been known to be a man of falsehood, nor is he one to spread alarm among the people without cause.”

John Carter seemed to quiet himself at these words. He sheathed his swords, and turned toward the Chief Counselor. “I beg your apology,” my Lord, he began, “but I could think of no other way to force your attention to the gravity of what I have to say to you this day. We really have no time to loose in discussion over this situation.”

“Dejah Thoris, my noble Princess, and I have returned from Sasoom. Yes, Sasoom 342 million miles away from home. We have the ship of the Morgors to prove the fact. This planet is inhabited by a warlike people of ferocity and cunning that is being prepared even now to descend upon our planet like a plague such as which we have never faced before. With their scientific capabilities of invisible ships, we will be entirely at their mercy when they arrive.”

Carter went on to an almost breathless audience. “The Morgors think of nothing but war. Nothing! They have no art, no literature, no sense of beauty. They live in great, brown cities illuminated by volcanoes that cast a red glow over everything. The people themselves look like skeletons. You can see every organ in their bodies through their transparent skins.”

At this last statement, a few chuckles echoed around the hall.

“Laugh if you will, my friends,” Carter chided, “but be warned. The Morgors are a grave threat to us, and they will come as surely as the twin moons circle our planet. I am here this day to give the cry of warning, and you must heed it or be utterly destroyed!”

At this, the entire chamber erupted with cries of anger and disbelief. Some were stomping their feet, and even a few swords were drawn in the confusion. John Carter simply turned on his heel and walked out of the noisy chamber, followed by his family and a few loyal followers who trusted him no matter what the situation might be.

“Well, that went well,” Carter said dryly as they descended the ramp of officialdom.

“Don’t blame yourself, John Carter, “ said Tars Tarkas, “I could not have done better.”

“I’m no diplomat,” he replied, shaking his head.

“They’ll come around in time,” Dejah comforted. “Even skeptics come around when all the facts come out. In time everyone will see you are right.”

“I only hope there is time enough,” John Carter spoke as he gazed up at the lowering skies.

* * * * * * * *

Editor's note: John Carter made several attempts to warn the thirty-one Jeddaks of Barsoom of the Morgor threat up until the actual invasion.