Chapter 42 Escape on Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Ero Shan awakened, and looked around. The Museum of Natural History was deserted except for a few sleepy guards and the sad and hopeless array of exhibits. "Awake, Carson ?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied; "I have slept only fitfully. I cannot rid my mind of the fear that something terrible has happened to Duare. Think of her out there in the night alone with that sub-human creature, and it had the pistol. I heard the guards saying that Vik-yor killed many of its own people with my pistol. It must have taken it from Duare, and it was her only guarantee of safety."

"Don't worry," counselled Ero Shan; "it won't help. Do you believe in the prophetic qualities of dreams?"

"No."

Ero Shan laughed. "Well, neither do I; but I just had a pleasant dream. It may not have been prophetic, but it was cheering. I dreamed that we were all back in Havatoo, and that Nalte was giving a wonderful dinner for us. All the members of the Sanjong were there, and they were heaping praise on Duare."

"I had a dream, too," I said. "I saw the anotar crash, and I saw Duare's broken body lying dead beside it."

"It is well that you don't believe in dreams," said Ero Shan.

"I don't believe in dreams," I almost shouted, "but why did I have to dream such a thing as that!"

A guard came up. It carried a little switch, with which it hit me across the face. "Be quiet!" it snapped; then, from behind the great gantor at my left, came the b-r-r-r of an r-ray pistol; and the guard which had struck me slumped to the floor.

Other guards came running up, as a figure stepped into view from behind the gantor.

"Duare!" I cried.

The guards started for her; but she came on straight toward them, the deadly rays humming from the muzzle of her weapon. As four or five went down, the others turned and fled, shouting an alarm.

Duare rushed to me, the vial in her hand. Quickly she touched my tongue several times with the stopper; then she turned to minister to Ero Shan. Even before the antidote had taken full effect, she cut us both down.
I felt life returning; I could move my legs, my arms. Warriors were rushing into the building, alarmed by the shouts of the guards. Duare turned to meet them as Ero Shan and I staggered to our feet. Duare only turned to make sure that we could follow her; then she started for the doorway, and Ero Shan and I were at her heels with drawn swords.

The Vooyorgans went down before those rays of death like wheat before a scythe, and the living turned and ran from the building. Spears were hurled; but fortunately they missed us, and at last we stood in the plaza, where we saw a crowd making for the anotar—a rage-filled mob bent upon destroying it.

"Quick!" cried Duare; "to the anotar!"

It was an invitation that we did not need—we were already half way to it. The Vooyorgans were swarming over the ship by the time we reached it. Whether they had done any irreparable damage or not, we could not tell. They were more determined than I had imagined they would be; but they were a poor match against Ero Shan's sword and mine, and none against the r-ray pistol that Duare handled like a veteran. Soon, those that survived had fled to the safety of the nearest buildings; and we stood in complete command of the situation.

"Give me the vial, Duare," I said.

"What do you want of it?" she asked as she handed it to me.

"Those other poor devils in there," I said, nodding toward the museum.

"Yes," she said; "I had intended freeing them, too; but when the creatures put up such resistance, I couldn't take the time, especially with the anotar in danger. But how can you do it? We should not separate, and we don't dare leave the anotar."

"Taxi it right up to the entrance," I said, "so that it blocks it completely. You with the pistol and Ero Shan with his sword can hold that position while I go in and free the exhibits."

It took me a full half hour to free the human beings. They were all warriors, and they all had their arms—and were they hell-bent on revenge! Those that I freed first helped me cut down the others, and by the time we were all through, a couple of hundred well-armed warriors were ready to march out into the plaza.

I won't try to tell you of their gratitude; several hard bitten fighting men, with faces and bodies covered with scars, broke down and wept. They wanted to follow me to the ends of the world, if I wished them to; and if the anotar would have held them, I'd have taken them all, for with them I could have conquered a world.

We taxied the anotar from the entrance and let them out. When they found they couldn't come with me, they said goodby and started for the palace of Vik-vik-vik ; and as we rose silently above Voo-ad, we heard screams and curses coming from the building.

I asked Duare what had become of Vik-yor. She told me, and then she said, "The poor creature not only could not multiply, but it could not divide."

A short time later Ero Shan pointed back. The sky was red with flames. The warriors I had released had fired Voo-ad.

"They will welcome no more visitors with flowers and song," said Ero Shan.

"And Vik-vik-vik will give no more of his delightful banquets," added Duare.

Into the night and the south we flew, and once again Duare and I were safe and together. Once again we were taking up our search for the city of Sanara , which is in the Empire of Korva in the land of Anlap .