Safe! That word has its nuances. Safety is relative. In relation to her immediate past, Duare was quite safe; but we were still thousands of miles from Korva, with only a very hazy idea of the direction of our goal.
We had enough concentrated fuel to fly the ship for, probably, some fifty years; but we would have to make occasional landings for food and water, and it seemed as though every time we landed something terrible happened to us. But that is Venus. If you had a forced landing in Kansas or Maine or Oregon, the only thing you’d have to worry about would be the landing; but when you set a ship down in Venus, you never know what you’re going to run up against. It might be kloonobargan, the hairy, man-eating savages; or a tharban, that most frightful of lion-like carnivores; or a basto, a huge, omnivorous beast that bears some slight resemblance to the American bison; or, perhaps worst of all, ordinary human beings like yourself, but with a low evaluation of life—that is, your life.
But I was not so much troubled by consideration of these possibilities as I was of the fate of Kandar and Artol. They were splendid fellows, and I hated to think of their having to remain slaves in Mypos.
Duare had evidently been watching my face, for she said, “What is troubling you, Carson? You look worried.”
“I was thinking of Kandar and Artol,” I replied. “We had hoped to escape together.”
“Who is Artol?” she asked. “I do not recall a slave by that name.”
“I met him after I was taken to Yron’s palace,” I explained. “He was a warrior in the bodyguard of Jantor, jong of Japal—Kandar’s father, you know.”
“We should help them to escape, if we can,” said Duare.
“I can’t risk your safety again,” I said.
“They are our friends,” she said. “We cannot abandon them without making an effort to save them.” That was like Duare.
“Well,” I said, “we might fly over the city and see what can be done about it. I have a plan. Perhaps it will work, and perhaps it won’t. That will depend more upon Kandar and Artol than on us. Take the controls a minute.”
As she flew the ship, circling back toward Mypos, I found writing materials in one of the storage compartments; and wrote a note to Kandar. I showed it to Duare, and after she had read it, she nodded her approval.
“We can do our part easily enough,” she said; “I hope they can do theirs.”
I tied the note to a spare bolt, and took the controls. We were now about a thousand feet above Mypos, and I started a wide spiral down toward the city, aiming at Tyros’ palace.
As we got closer, I could see people staring up at us from the streets and from the palace grounds; and I could see others scurrying for safety. Of course none of them had ever seen an aeroplane before, for our anotar is the only one in Venus—as far as I know; at least none of them had seen one except the Mypos warriors who had captured us. Of course they had told everyone about it, but nobody believed them.
I headed for the slave compound in the palace grounds, flying very low and looking for Kandar or Artol. At last I recognized them both; they were standing together, looking up at us. Although I had told Kandar all about the anotar, he looked now as though he couldn’t even believe his eyes.
As I circled again, some of Tyros’ warriors ran into the compound and commenced to hurl spears at us—the three pronged tridents with which they are armed. As far as we were concerned they were quite harmless; but they fell back among themselves; and after one impaled a warrior, they desisted.
I didn’t want the warriors in the compound; because I didn’t wish them to see me drop the note to Kandar. But how to get rid of them? Finally I hit upon a plan. The only trouble was that it might chase Kandar out of the compound, too; but I could only try it.
I zoomed to a thousand feet, and then banked and dove for the compound. You should have seen slaves and warriors scurry for safety! But Kandar and Artol never moved from their tracks. If the compound had only been a little longer and there had been no pool in it, I could have landed and taken off again with Kandar and Artol before the terrified warriors could have been aware of what I was doing.
Duare gave a little gasp as I flattened out and just missed the cornice of one of the palace buildings by a hair; then I banked again and came back. This time I dropped the note at Kandar’s feet; then I rose and circled back low over the compound. I saw Kandar pick up the note and read it. Immediately he raised his left hand above his head. That was the signal I had written him to give if he would make the attempt to escape that I had suggested. Before I flew away, I saw him destroy the note.
I rose high and went inland. I wanted the Myposans to think that we had gone away for good. After we were out of sight of the city, I turned north and gradually circled back toward the lake on which Mypos is situated. Still well out of the sight of the city I found a secluded cove, and made a landing a short distance off shore. Here we waited until after dark.