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6. CHAPTER VI : THE BLACK PIRATES OF BARSOOM
"What is it?" I asked of the girl.
For answer she pointed to the sky.
I looked, and there, above us, I saw shadowy bodies flitting hither and thither high over temple, court, and garden.
Almost immediately flashes of light broke from these strange objects. There was a roar of musketry, and then answering flashes and roars from temple and rampart.
"The black pirates of Barsoom, O Prince," said Thuvia.
In great circles the air craft of the marauders swept lower and lower toward the defending forces of the therns.
Volley after volley they vomited upon the temple guards; volley on volley crashed through the thin air toward the fleeting and illusive fliers.
As the pirates swooped closer toward the ground, thern soldiery poured from the temples into the gardens and courts. The sight of them in the open brought a score of fliers darting toward us from all directions.
The therns fired upon them through shields affixed to their rifles, but on, steadily on, came the grim, black craft. They were small fliers for the most part, built for two to three men. A few larger ones there were, but these kept high aloft dropping bombs upon the temples from their keel batteries.
At length, with a concerted rush, evidently in response to a signal of command, the pirates in our immediate vicinity dashed recklessly to the ground in the very midst of the thern soldiery.
Scarcely waiting for their craft to touch, the creatures manning them leaped among the therns with the fury of demons. Such fighting! Never had I witnessed its like before. I had thought the green Martians the most ferocious warriors in the universe, but the awful abandon with which the black pirates threw themselves upon their foes transcended everything I ever before had seen.
Beneath the brilliant light of Mars' two glorious moons the whole scene presented itself in vivid distinctness. The golden- haired, white-skinned therns battling with desperate courage in hand-to-hand conflict with their ebony-skinned foemen.
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