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The Warlord of Mars

In the great fortress known as The Palace of Helium, on the planet referred to as Barsoom by its inhabitants, the evil Jeddak, Tardos Mors, regarded his captive, the last of the Thark merchants to be captured, and the only one still living. The prisoner looked miserable, head bowed, all four of his green arms hanging limp against his sides.

 “Come now, no need to feel so glum,” the Jeddak’s smile was cruel. “Soon you will be reunited with your brothers and other members of the Thark trade delegation.”

The Jeddak snapped his fingers. A nervous-looking attendant heeded the call, hurrying to a heavy wooden door on the far side of the room. At once, the Jeddak’s soldiers drew their weapons.  The attendant, with much trepidation, reached a trembling hand toward the latch, only to sigh with relief after the Jeddak held up a finger, delaying the horror.

“One moment,” said the tyrant. “I want to enjoy this.” He regarded his Thark captive for several seconds.  “Tell me, what is your name?”

“Does it matter?”

“No, it does not.” The Jeddak’s smile broadened. “Do you know why you and the other hundred members of your trade delegation were invited to meet at the Palace of Helium?” The Jeddak remained silent after posing this question; a silence that became increasingly uncomfortable with each passing tick of the clock. Despite the fact that the prisoner had been forced to his knees, the Thark merchant was still able to look the Jeddak straight in the eye.

“It was a cruel betrayal to invite my people here, then so ruthlessly attack us in our sleep.” said the Thark, and though his voice was soft the accusation was clear.

“Perhaps,” the Jeddak shrugged. “But hardly relevant. Let me explain something to you. I am the king of a dynasty that has ruled the greatest city on this planet for over a thousand years. Each generation has been blessed with a hero to lead us into our next era of greatness. I was my generation’s hero. The next hero is destined to be my granddaughter, Dejah Thoris. But our dynasty’s future may be in jeopardy. A potential problem—a rather large potential problem—could call into question Dejah’s smooth ascension to power.” The Jeddak paused for effect. “Do you know what that potential problem is?”

When the Thark remained silent, even after the Jeddak nodded for a response, he had an attendant blow a high frequency dog whistle. The pitch was enough to cause the Thark to scream for relief. “Okay, I’m sorry, what is the potential problem?” the Thark cried.

“Our belief is that my granddaughter has been taken captive—but this is only a minor set-back.  I am in the final stages of setting off to her rescue. To do so I will send an army across the aether, to that festering planet of Jasoom, better known to its puny inhabitants as Earth.  By necessity the invading interaetheric vessel is of limited size, therefore the army must be small in number but awesome in brutality. Do you understand why my military force must be so fierce?”

This time the Thark was paying attention. “Why must your military be so fierce?”

“I’ll tell you why;” said the Jeddak, and for some reason he pointed skyward as he spoke. “My granddaughter is a supreme warrior, only the most powerful army could have taken her. Therefore I need an army more powerful than the most powerful!  And so, through science and hard labour I have created just such an army, thanks to you and your fellow Tharks.” Jeddak Tardos Mors nodded to his attendant. “Open the door.”

The attendant gulped then turned and slowly raised the latch.

A chorus of glottal hisses and choking gurgles added to the already disturbing atmosphere. The passage was secured by a set of bars through which reached dozens of grayish-green arms. The attendant, entranced by the horror didn’t notice one of the arms, mere inches from the ground, until it had a hold of his ankle. It only took a second before he was pulled flush against the bars. The creatures were driven to frenzy by an insatiable and unnatural appetite. They tore at the young man’s flesh. The royal guards sprang forward but the Jeddak held up a hand, staying their rescue efforts. Within seconds the screams ceased, yet the horrid creatures continued to tear at the bloody body.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THEM?” The Thark prisoner cried.

“I gave them the greatest gift a ruler can bestow upon his army.” The Jeddak’s voice softened. “I took away the fear of death by killing them all, then reanimating their still warm corpses with a potent serum derived from the sap of the legendary phoenixia rose from the planet Cosoom and the blood from the fearsome red bull of Vavoom. I then designed exoskeletons to augment their strength and agility. They have no thoughts of their own, but the entire army can be controlled by the commander of the guard from a remote located on the vessel which will sail them across the space between our world and Jasoom.”

“YOU’RE MAD!” The Thark prisoner cried out. “MAD, I SAY!”

“Please,” Tardos Mors smirked. “There is no need for such a display of rudeness. Today is a great day, a day for feasts; tomorrow we depart for the last known whereabouts of my granddaughter, Dejah Thoris—tomorrow we set out to lay siege upon the city state of New Babbage!”

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  1. Cyan Rayna Cyan Rayna July 28, 2016

    Brings out the popcorn machine and the fancy red and blue 3D glasses.

    “This one is going to be good.”

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