Tars Tarkis stood in the great chamber surrounded by his entire company of Tharks. His pride had been sorely wounded by the princess’s denigration. No more! The need for water on his homeworld was dire – but coming to this world was an act of vanity and nothing more on the part of the royal family. War abroad was a distraction from the problems at home. He and his company of warriors had had enough, they would no longer be subjugated by her self-serving rule. The princess may take-off in her ship with her handful of Red Martian guard and her treasured serum designed to unlock this world – but there would be no returning home for Tars and his Tharks.
It was with these sombre thoughts in mind that the once mighty Green Martian, with his thirty soldiers behind him, stood outside the cell where the prisoners had been taken. Inside the cell a dozen of the blood-thirsty, unnatural spawn of the mad old doctor menaced the two earthmen and two children. The children and the tall man with unkempt white hair ran around the cell screaming, while the little dark one with the serious countenance fought with remarkable skill.
Tars was tempted to see how long this earth warrior could stand up against such odds, yet their freedom would be his final act of defiance. With a click of the gem he wore on a leather strap around his neck the cell door opened. The white abominations, always concerned with self-preservation, scrambled up the wall and into the hole from which they had emerged. Tars wondered briefly if the earthmen on the surface realized just how many hundreds of those ravenous demons lurked beneath their city streets.
The humans looked uncertain, the children he saw were frightened. Tars met the eyes of the smaller man and held his stare until he felt a warrior’s understanding had passed between them. He then signalled his company, leading them from the great chamber, in search of a place they might be able to call home in these subterranean pockets beneath the city of men.
“Martin!” Junie whispered, placing her hand on Malus’s chest in an unconscious gesture to make sure he was real. “Are you and Kaylee okay? Where is she?”
“We are fine.” Malus replied, keeping his voice low to ensure the Martian guard did not intrude. “Kaylee is in the lower decks attempting to sabotage Dejah’s ability to turn off the cavorite containment system.”
“Martin, she has to succeed, otherwise this ship will destroy half of Clockhaven.”
“We need light.” Malus told her. “It is too dark for her to do anything down there beyond guesswork.”
“Oh!” said Junie excitedly, reaching into her pocket. “I just remembered I have this. It is a lighter I got from Dr. Joe.”
“Dr. Joe?” Malus questioned, taking the silver lighter from Junie’s hand.
“He is an awful, awful man.” said Junie shaking her head. “He’s created such wretched and tragic creatures through some sort of experimentation to develop a cure for the common cold.”
“Who are you here with?” Malus asked, the hint of concern in his voice warming junie’s spirit. “Is Sir Sir upstairs?”
“No, we were separated. Petharic found me in the tunnels. He is upstairs now with Dejah Thoris and the doctor I told you of.”
“Petharic!” said Malus unable to mask his surprise. “The assassin who’s been trying to kill Sir Sir for the past two years?”
“Yes.” said Junie. “He’s not so bad – but for that one character flaw. In fact…” Junie’s thought was interrupted by the sound of shouts from just outside the bathroom door. Junie and Malus exchanged worried glances. Cautiously Junie opened the door in time to see two of the Red Martian guards dragging a struggling Kaylee up the central staircase. Upon seeing Junie peeking out of the bathroom, they quickly pulled her from the doorway and roughly led her back up the stairs behind Kaylee and her captors, leaving Malus, still hidden, alone in the lavatory.
“Kaylee Faulkner – you bitch!” Dejah Thoris raged upon seeing the New Babbage girl held between two of her guard.
“Watch your mouth Dejah!” said Joseph reproachfully. “There is no call for such language! If your toy misbehaves you punish her – but you do so with respect.”
“Fine.” said Dejah, turning to one of her guards. “Shoot Kaylee Faulkner and do it now. But do it respectfully with a single shot to the head.” After a brief pause Dejah Thoris added, “And shoot the red-headed woman too – I am in a bad mood.”
Two shots rang out.