The Last Prince of Mars!




Prince Gashanatantra stood at the portico of his suite of rooms, in the family palace here in the center of the city of Warhoom. The plains of Mars stretched out before him, cool in the wan sunlight that warmed his green skin. At the extent of his lordly vision, he could see the hint of the great drying seabed far to his south; once an area of relaxation for his ancestors, it now was a sandy expanse almost devoid of surface moisture, its shores turned into the growing beds for fields of aeromoss, an invention of his own house scientist Ras Thavas [Gashanatantra saw the scientist as his own personal slave, though the rules for such things indicated he was communally owned among the great family] in an effort to reinvigorate the thinning Martian atmosphere.

To his left stood the sleek silver aeroships of his family’s private space force. Tall needles, standing erect on their three stubby fins, they waited, ready to go on their launch pads. Utility robots warmed over their Titanotherium surfaces making final checks. Beside these, a phalanx of armored Tripods sauntered lazily along, each waiting their turn to be loaded aboard one of the rocket ships, where they would rest, folded in on themselves until the family fleet swept down to attack their hated rivals, the Kavashok family on the opposite side of the world. Then, they would unfold themselves, sounding their awful war-horns, and commence what the Prince hoped would be a decisive battle against hereditary enemies. He could imagine it all, the Tripods striding over territory that would soon be his, their heat-rays spreading nearly-invisible death on the surprised foe, destroying their buildings and artwork with green plasma bombs….

His revelry was interrupted by the insistent beeping of his personal wrist communicator. It was from Ras Thavas, down in the military lab.

“Yes,” Gashanatantra intoned, “What is it?”

“My lord, you are needed down in the sensing room immediately.” Ras Thavas’ voice held an unusual timbre in it. It was chilling; in all the years he’d been the Prince’s servant, rarely did the scientist-slave show such dread. The Prince’s calm assurance cracked a bit, just hearing that voice.

Many possibilities crossed the Prince’s mind as he strode through stone-tiled corridors busy with preparations for war. War was a way of life among the Princes of Mars, and had been for generations, once it was discovered that the planet was undergoing a climate shift that might prove disastrous to the Barsoomian civilization. Despite the technological revolution the coming event had precipitated, even so the great families of Mars had been at war all through that while. This time, aside from land and slaves the prizes had become control of the technological marvels that were meant to be used to save the planet.

Gashanatantra’s family had lost control of the great canals built to funnel water from the last oceans to fertilize fields all across the world. They had also lost the secret genetic formula to the aeromoss in a raid by the Kashavok; but this was a generation ago. No such losses had been sustained once Gashahatantra had come of age. In return for these past grievances Gashanatantra had staged lightning raids and gotten for himself the plans to the Kashavok’s most advanced Tripod walker designs, and had been using the land-vehicle’s heat ray designs as a weapon upgrade on his own sleek silver aeroships. The two great families on opposite sides of the dieing planet had filled their halls with captured banners and the dried corpses of lesser family Princes, and used their plunder to reinforce themselves for the ultimate conflict between each other; they were the most bloodthirsty clans on the Barsoomian stage of war.

Gashanatantra strode into the sensing room like he owned the place; because, basically, he did, and everyone in it as well. Robots scurried to and fro, carrying data readouts between stations that were manned by increasingly-alarmed technician-slaves. Ras Thavas sat at his wide viewer consol, hunched over the readouts, his frame visibly shaking. He turned as the Prince entered, almost shouting for his attention and haste.

“What is this now?” the Prince demanded, “I am almost ready to launch against the Kashavok. Even now, my ship Ajax has my personal Tripod loaded and r-"

“My lord, please.” To interrupt a Martian Prince in this way could mean a Whim Death for the slave so arrogant as to speak over his lord. But there was that tone in Ras’ voice. The Prince stayed his hand. “The readings my sensors are showing.. cannot be possible. But, I am seeing the same readings from our secret splices in the sensor arrays of three other families.”

With a trained eye, Gashanatantra shouldered in beside his servant, glancing across scrolling lines of text from a number of different antennae across the world, all showing more or less the same odd things. Alarming things, impossible things.

“This cannot be correct,” gruffed the Prince, “Perhaps the Kashavok are feeding false readings to disrupt our plans.”

“No, my lord! I have run remote systems checks on all feeds. These readings are showing true! The data is not corrupted nor simulated!” The small-bodied scientist was so agitated his was wringing his slim, delicate hands together most roughly, a gesture that would, for Martians, be tantamount to cutting oneself in grief. No Martian slave was ever allowed to wear hand covering to protect this delicate feature. Threat of harm to the hands allowed their owners to keep such slaves in line, death at the whim of a superior notwithstanding, of course.

For a few seconds more, the two stood in silence as the data unfurled before them. What it was saying was beyond apocalyptic. But the Prince needed to hear confirmation. “Tell me your conclusions.”

The scientist-slave barely could be heard now. “I believe that the gravity-wave device the Kashavok have been working on has malfunctioned in an irreversible and fatal way. Just as I said it would if our spies were correct!” The Prince grimaced at the pitiable display of emotional weakness the scientist was jabbering through. “An uncontrolled reaction that is self-generating. I told you they could not control such a gravitic reaction if they ever initiated it!” He swiveled in his seat to face his lord and look him squarely in the eyes, a gesture of defiance that would surely be worthy of his immediate death, if only under other circumstances “They have destroyed the world! According to our devices, they are turning the crust of the planet inside out!” His voice was a shriek.

To the Prince’s trained eye, this assessment appeared to be correct. Even now, from it’s initiation point on the other side of the planet, some disastrous runaway effect was uplifting the entire crust of Mars, and rolling it over upon itself. Material from miles under the surface was being flipped over, while the surface was being immediately inverted or subducted. The wave was spreading in a ring, expanding outward from the center of Kashavok territory, flowing around the world in an inexorable calamity.

“There is no escape from this,” the Prince whispered, even as he pondered quite selfishly, that his brilliant preparations for war had been rendered pointless.

“No,” whimpered the scientist. “My lord! What shall we do?”

But Gashanatantra was already calculating possibilities. He was also, on a related point, already striding out of the lab, leaving his bewildered technician to his own fate.

The Prince pulled on the gauntlets that completed his battle armor. He slid a small, artificially flavored strip [the Prince’s was tinged with his favorite: grilled plainsbeast flesh] into his mouth. This lingual strip allowed him direct electrical communication with some of the systems of his suit, for the armor allowed a near neural interface with its wearer. With mental gestures that approximated computerized commands, the Prince engaged the leg servos and shot down the halls toward the door leading to his rocket launch pad.

Somehow, word must have leaked out that something horrible was coming, By the time Gashanatantra had scooted through the ready rooms for his aero fleet, he could see panic spreading and people running to and fro. Some of his pilots had already come pounding out onto the tarmac seeing their Prince’s haste. They gathered dutifully at the base of the ladder that was welded outside one of the Ajax’s landing fins, where the Prince faced them.

“My loyal warriors! Our hated enemy have done the unthinkable! They have launched a doomsday device rather than suffer the final humiliating defeat we have proclaimed for them! They choose to destroy our entire planet, rather than fall like the craven sillithigs they are! There is no time to explain! Prime and launch all fighters! We shall climb for high orbit and try to escape the calamity! Destroy any other ship we encounter!” With that, he was scrabbling up the Ajax’s leg and into his personal fighter.

Even as he was strapping himself in and beginning the launch sequence, Gashanatantra’s personal comm lit up again. He activated his view screen.

“Yes, what is it, mother?”

“Son! What are you doing! Your scientist-slave tells me the Kashavok have destroyed themselves?”

“No, mother, not just themselves: the entire world. Mars is about to die.”

The Queen did not seem to be taking him seriously at all. She scowled at his image in her viewer. “And you are flying off to symbolically kill our foes before death takes us all, is that it?”

This was not entirely true, but the Prince said, “In a mogrusk shell, yes.”

“What nonsense.” However, the comm audio was broken up by some hurried screaming from very close by the microphone. A few servants could be seen running frantically and pointlessly through the Queen’s room. One of her handmaiden slaves whispered hurriedly in her ear, and then, there was Ras Thavis himself, gibbering his final truth to her until the Queen’s face also bloomed in total alarm and fear. Both she and the scientist turned to the viewer. “My son! You must save us! Where is your sister?”

Gashanatantra jammed the final rocket control button; the Ajax’s engine began covering the not-totally-deserted tarmac under his ship with an immense blast of flame. He turned briefly to the view screen. “Farewell, mother. I never liked Bamerinada anyway,” he said in final word concerning his loathsome sister. “Go now and die in what way seems best to you.” The Queen gave an outraged shriek as it became apparent that was the last her son would be saying to her as well. She had just turned and grabbed up her personal laser blaster from the table when the Prince killed the signal and blocked her channel; no doubt she was about to give Ras the Whim Death he had incurred on himself for bringing her such dire news. Martians almost always shot the messenger.

Nearly a score of slim silver rockets rose up from Warhoom’s royal launch pads on columns of flame. Some had not been fully fueled, and fell back toward the ground even as the others strove upward. Running on gauges, the Prince looked out his slim window; he could see at the horizon, the horrible dust and tumult of a planet spewing out its innards. The line of destruction spread from horizon to horizon, edge to edge as far as he could see, the atmosphere clouded with debris all the way to the stratosphere and beyond; it was truly the first time anything had made the Prince of Warhoom quake in total fear. It was simply too vast to contemplate.

When he switched to a rear view, he could see, past the vibrating image of the other Titanotherium-skinned rockets flying with him in formation slightly behind, the rolling wave of the gravity device pass beneath them. In reddish dust, everything his bloodline had ever done was, in an instant, rendered moot.

His readout pinged: several dozen miles away, other ships were straining for orbit. As information came in, he could see that several fleets were making for space. If they were the battle rockets of other families, Gashanatantra would do as his ancestors always had: he would destroy them in fiery combat, rocket vs rocket, until only one family line would reach the prize. If they were simply refugee ships, well, they would die too, simply with less trouble.

When the autopilot disengaged, the Prince and what was left of his air force speared toward the clouds of other ships, heat rays and plasma missiles darting out.

Several hours later, it is done.

The planet Mars has been reshaped. The entire planetary crust has been flipped over like some huge spherical pancake. What was once a world of grassland and cities is now a ragged tumult of exposed rock, soon to be a hundred yards deep in dust. The wreckage of the once strong [if declining] Barsoomian civilization is wiped away, its pebbles buried under miles of stone. The last vestiges of its dwindling water supply is now vaporized or mixed into mud that will soon dry. The atmosphere is clouded in a way that will engender a permanent ice age – if there were much ice to be had.

The sky above the planet is similar in debris-filled repose.

The glare of heat rays and green plasma explosions have ceased. The killing frenzy which overtook the last remaining survivors of Mars, has caused them to finish what a bumbling scientist back on the surface began: the death of a species. Shattered silver space ships now drift, or are reduced to component pieces. Green bodies twirl lazily in the airless void of space. None have survived.

None but one.

The Ajax is operating on emergency power. The Prince unstraps himself and makes his way in the narrow control room, checking components. He has drawn off his powered gloves. His slender green hands run over circuit boards and connections. The sensitivity of his hands guides him.

The blessing and curse of the dominant Martian organism is it’s hands. Three fingers and a perpendicular opposable thumb, each with spatula-like pads at the fingertips, circle an almost nonexistent palm. The inner surfaces of the fingers are lined with cilia, hairs so sensitive that Martians can detect differences of almost a micrometer. These flagella are also manipulative, so that small machines can be assembled simply by laying their hands against a collection of components.

But the armatures that support these miracles are weak. So weak, in fact, that the Barsoomian civilization has always been about technology; for aeons almost never has there been born a Martian who could support the weight of a weapon like a sword or axe, much less swing one in battle, using his naked hands. So the Prince’s battle suit includes powered gloves that support the gentle hands inside, and give them the strength to do bloody battle.

Except now, where their delicate operation is far more important to this, the Last Prince of Mars.

The Last Prince reroutes power, taking feeds from the Tripod folded inside the jump bay below his cabin. He is hand-writing new circuits with his flagella and the tiny tools designed for this function, though from the outside his fingers barely seem to move. As the head lights of the fearsome Martian walker below dim and go out, rendering the last Barsoomian war Tripod mute forever, the Ajax hums to weak life once more.

Over the next few hours the Prince makes his calculations. There is nothing for him on the planet below. So he turns his eyes toward the inner solar system, and the next world closer to the sun.

Earth had long been a target of the Martians. For years, its inhabitants were being watched from the timeless reaches of space. Analyzed like creatures in a drop of water under a microscope.

Had it not been for the permanent state of war on Mars, the sleek silver spacecraft of the Barsoomians would long ago have swept to Earth, dropping their Tripods and enslaving the people found there. Many times plans were drawn up, only to be abandoned for more pressing matters closer to home. Prince Gashanatantra had been one of those who had looked toward the blue-green world as a target of conquest. Now, it was the place he looked to again.

The needle nose of the Ajax pointed toward the spot where the Earth would be in four years. Gashanatrantra began activating his cryo sequencer, and settled back in his flight chair for a long, long nap. He did not glance backward out the view portal again.

This occurred in June of 1873.

Quite some time later, the Ajax, on autopilot, discovered a bad fuel cell in the Tripod it had stolen power from, and realized it did not have the velocity and proper thrust to make a safe landing. So, while the Prince slept, the ship turned itself and made a slight detour, around Venus, which at the time was closer to Mars than Earth. While there, it was forced to jettison the Tripod, after its horde of small maintenance robots, slowly altered during the trip to be more mobile and useful, removed a slew of components from the war machine.

The last of the mighty Martian Tripods took an involuntary dive into Venus’ acidic atmosphere, dumped like so much garbage.

With small sips of energy the Ajax vectored a wide orbit that would use natural gravity wells to propel it back toward Earth at a safer and more manageable energy state.

The little detour took one-hundred-and-thirty-four years.

The Ajax woke its pilot at the appropriate distance to their target. The groggy Barsoomian assessed logs of what had happened and cursed mightily when he realized the three-legged walker he’d hoped to use to subdue the Earthlings was now scrap on another planet. With this the only real regret plaguing him, he spent some time pondering the blue vistas of ocean on his new home from orbit, a sight the likes of which no Martian had seen in generations. Then, he picked a spot near a coastline, where his readings indicated there to be a city of some size, and commenced re-entry.

The spike-nosed tube of mirrored chrome settled clumsily, engine-side down, expending its final fuel landing on a swampy isthmus on the outskirts of Croatoa, Paragon City, Rhode Island, in the United States. The unstable ground did not support it on its slender landing fins, so it immediately keeled over onto its side in a great wave of displaced mud. The Prince made his way out, sliding down the Titanotherium skin of his now-useless rocket.

Well, perhaps not totally useless.

Equipped with welders and tools both precise and coarse, Prince Gashanatantra, the Last Prince of Mars, began surgically tearing his space ship apart. Salvaging weapons, energy cells, power heads, metal, and a huge hodgepodge of other things, the Barsoomian Prince created several hidden stashes of equipment around the general area where he’d come to Earth. Then, he set about building himself something he realized he might need: robotic servants to help him carry away more gear, and act as his long-gone bodyservants and guards. He established a small cave as a lair in which to continue building.

Then, he went looking for breakfast.

[[So hey! Needless to say, this is a new villain toon I'm aving a blast with [didn't know MMs could be so fun], and if there's an RP thread with room for one let me know! Otherwise look for me on the V side of Virtue!]]



((Great read. Hope you keep updating this.))



The last Prince of Mars looked on what he had wrought, and it was good.

After a few forays, Gashanatantra had managed to build himself three robotic servants. They were not up to the full caliber of current [used generously given the actual length of his trip] Martian technology, but they sufficed in their offensive and defensive capabilities. The prince had begun by dismantling the Ajax’s maintenance robots for their brains. They were capable of decision-making but were not overly independent, had generous processing power in a small package, and could adapt easily to the tasks the Prince had decided to redesign them for. There was also sufficient leftover processing cores that the Prince imagined he could eek one or two more units from all the parts he had left, if the frameworks could be found.

“Arise, my servants!” he said imperiously. The three humanoid robots unfolded themselves from their containers and stood. Though crude in that they did not have smooth covering nor look particularly life-like a propos of anything, they were an excellent example of Martian efficiency of design. Their faces were a simple collection of sensing fixtures, ocular lenses, audio microphones, and small speakers for them to speak through. The wedge-shaped heads sat on hydraulic necks leading to wide, barrel body thoraxes, where the thickest of their armor was, since within the chest area were the processing components, power sources, and all their other major electronics. Their back plates contained sockets for a number of modules the Prince had in mind to design and add in, swapping them for each other depending on his aims and whims.

The Prince had lamented a lack of sufficient parts to give each robot well-articulated hands. Being this was a particular Martian foible, he felt the inability acutely. After a few minutes mulling it over he gave the lesser two Drones [numbered simply and conveniently, 1 and 2] a small weapons array as their lead hands, and reduced their off-hands to heavy armor-plated cudgels. He saved the repair components from the various smaller ship robots to give to the Guard unit instead. Although this robot also had an array of laser-beamers as its lead hand, it’s off-hand was like a metal flower, which opened to show its repair and manipulator fixtures. The Guard unit could repair the other two robots while under fire if the occasion required, and possessed one of the Princes last few working force-field projector units. The Prince had decided to keep the other mobile field projector unit for himself.

Gashanatantra walked around the robots, examining them as he would any slaves or soldiers on a parade ground. He made a few small adjustments; the robots waited stoically.

He finally halted his circling. “Guard robot,” he announced, “shield all.”

The Martian Guard robot faithfully expended charges from the force field projector, and soon the two Drones and the Prince each stood suspended in a humming soap bubble of deflective force. The Prince checked the readouts on the Guard’s back, and was satisfied with the rather minimal drain on its power pack.

“Guard robot, upgrade all: combat pack.”

The Guard lumbered Between the Drones, adjusting their rear-access pack modules. The Drones self-diagnosed their new laser-boostatrons, then remained at attention.

“Guard robot, upgrade all: travel pack.”

The Guard duplicated his movements with a different pack. The Drones exhibited improved hydraulic response in their leg servos.

“Excellent,” their leader pronounced.

The Prince’s last check was the Robot Delivery Pod.

A shiny chrome sausage about the size of a Volkswagon, this semi-robotic aeropod used to function as a bomb-delivery system during assaults. A drone of sorts, it would fly through enemy fire and open its bay to drop dumb bombs or more potent items on enemy positions. Now, the Prince and his robots had altered it to enclose and deliver the Prince’s new robot servants anywhere he called from, then return on its own to the hidden rocket ship where it lay here.

“Robots: load selves.”

At the Prince’s command, the three metal servants folded in on themselves into small round packages, shifted slightly, and were picked up by claw armatures inside the pod’s bay. Fastened securely inside, they were ready to be dropped wherever the Prince needed them. The pod's readouts seemed within acceptable parameters.

“All right. Robots: unload selves.”

As his three servants stood tall once more, the Prince checked his laser carbine and other gadgets, and went hunting.



Much to his surprise, Prince Gashanatantra's original ideas of Earth were vastly off-base.

Long gone were the smokey cities of squat stone-faced buildings barely reaching four or eight stories. Once he'd reached the edge of the swamp, the Prince gazed past the expected farmlands and suburban brownstones of Croatoa to see the towering skyscrapers of Paragon City proper near the horizon. For a moment, he stood there, reigning in his awe.

He could gauge the distance pretty well. Though the Industrial revolution he had once viewed through powerful telescopes and orbital spy satellites had shown an advancing civilization, the Prince had not anticipated that the hundred or so years he spent in suspended animation had allowed the Earthlings to create such engineering. Alarmed and with a sense of wonder both, he lead his robots over a number of dunes along a beach, the mechanicals scrambling to keep up with their master.

Atop a stone rise Gashanatantra verified his dread using the better vista over an expanse of open water: the city he was seeing was truly miraculous compared to what he'd expected. The buildings towered far above what his homeworld had accomplished. Although he knew, the methods of constructing a steel-framed tower were nothing spectacular, the sheer number of them and the infrastructure laid out around them boggled his mind. Long gone were the extensive railway tracks which had laced over Earth cities like London and New York like choking veins; now slim elevated trams were their small legacy. It seemed now, the Earthlings preferred individual transport carriages. No longer relying on quadrupeds to pull their wagons, motorized enclosed sleds shot everywhere on the Earthmen's black roadways.

Gashanatantra realized he'd landed near a metropolis.

For a moment, he was crushed, his Martian ego unused to surprise nor the vision of objects greater than those built by his own people.

Then, however, his own avarice reasserted control. If the Earthlings had advanced this quickly, what other technology had they created, which he could steal and adapt to his own? Where he'd been sweating with worry before, he now wrung his powered gauntlets in a Martian facsimile of greed.

His robot servants stood stoically behind him, until one swiveled it's head about. A second later, it returned to face him and beeped.

"Unknown creatures approaching. Designations vary; several species present. Assessment: potentially hostile."

During the assessment the Prince had turned, powering up his blast rifle. "Guard Robot, upgrade all: combat pack! Guard Robot, shield all!" he barked rapidly. The lone assistance mecha struggled to keep up with the command sequence even as his master added his own large-radius force field to the lot, but soon, the englobed group lumbered down, gleefully charging across the sand towards a party of large, bipedal brutes who appeared in pursuit of what the Prince was really looking for at this moment: a human.

It was over rather quickly. The Tuatha de Dannon pack had been running a lone Earthman to ground, and had just caught up to the fellow and laid paws on him when the intruder and his robots had crashed into their group. The warriors of the beastmen had put up a good fight, but the robots wore energy fields which slowed their strikes and no damage they'd done to the artificial servants seemed to slow them down. From a distance, the Last Prince of Mars had hindered the Tuatha by repeatedly knocking them down with reverse-polarity blasts from his force field projector, and sniped at them with painful bolts from his gleaming red gun. Eventually the animal-men had broken and run, several of them with shattered horns which had splintered against the heads of the nigh-impervious metal men.

The Prince cackled, but gave a start; the human prey had tried to run in the confusion, despite being trampled by the retreating animal-men. He was quickly brought down a dozen feet away by the Last Prince's robots, who were still in aggressive mode; they blasted him face-first into the sand with their ranged weapons. The Prince called them to heel and strode to the still-smoking man.

His three-fingered power gauntlets gripped the Earthling's shoulder and rolled him roughly over. The grizzled human gave a start, and shouted something.

"Get off uff mee!"

The Last Prince turned his head, adjusting a dial on his belt, and said something unintelligible. The Human responded, "Vhat! Vhat are you sayink"

The armored assailant began speaking again.

"Vhazhada tsayig. Vhatshar tsayick. Vhushadda sayink. Vhud are ju saynk? Vhat are you sayink? Ah! Dere ve go." The Last Prince climbed to his feet as his Universal Translate-otron fed algorithmic calculations of potential word-forms into his mind. It contained a large number of already-sampled Earth words [from many years of abductees] along with possible variations based on this further sample.

The Prince got to his feet. "Get along, little doggie!" he declared threateningly, roughly shaking the injured human by his furry collar. "Git on yer feet!"

Then, he clammed up for a second. The human captive was nearly twice as tall as he.

"Hmph!" The Last Prince jammed the creature in its midsection with the still-hot barrel of his pulse rifle. "Identify yourself! By what are you called," he demanded, "What's your handle?"

His thick wool coat still giving off smoke from a few blast holes, coddling his injuries, the human replied, "Zhey call me Boris, zhe Russian." He began dusting the sand from his clothes.

"Well, Boris zhe Russian, I am Prince Gashanatantra, your new master!"

As the robots closed in, Boris gave a surprised squeak.



Boris had been hypnotized rather handily. Although the Last Prince's Hypnotron had been an old unit, an obsolete small specimen kept in a first-aid kit in his rocket in anticipation of a day of interplanetary invasion that had never come, it's power cell still held a charge and worked as designed.

Boris was now quite pliable to Gashanatantra's whims. The Warhoomian Prince had led the now-sluggish human along the beach, heading towards what Boris had described as a rescue ship. This area was apparently far from Boris' actual home, a place he called 'the Rogue Islands', a name that appealed to the Last Prince at least, in terms of the translated verbal style. The city seen in the distance, what the human captive called 'Paragon', was said to be over-run by 'heroes' and thus unsafe for the likes of Boris.

Asked why he was so deep in enemy territory, the Last Prince discovered his true good luck: Boris was an information broker and knew all sorts of interesting things that others paid him human money for providing. Thus Gashanatantra had landed himself a local encyclopedia with great potential. Some of those who patronized Boris' services had come to rescue him in an undersea vehicle, using stealth to arrive inside Paragon's borders and leaving the same way.

Gazing out from beneath some trees across to the inlet where the vessel waited, the Last Prince examined it thoughtfully. He asked several questions about the crew of the ship, their armaments, and the like.

"Very well, Boris zhe Russian, heed my commands: you will take me with you to the Rogue Islands. You will tell the humans on board that vessel that I am in the same business as you, and that you have known me for many Earth cycles. I am your good friend! Amigo, mon freir, compadre! We are like pigs in a blanket" The Last Prince ran through as many terms as his still-working Translate-otron could fish up. Boris nodded, his face a bit slack. "You will take me to your living place. From there, I will plan my next move," the Last Prince finished, more to himself. "You will awaken, feeling refreshed." Gashanatantra snapped the metal fingers of his glove, and Boris suddenly stood taller once more, inhaling the sea air deeply and giving a satisfied grunt.

"Ah! Come on, my freint! To zhe sub!"

"Robots, er.." The Prince was unsure how to word his next commands. "Power down your weapons until we get onto the metal vessel over there, and await my command to rearm them. Appear less formidable! Slouch." Obediently the robots ducked their heads slightly, their hydraulic armatures drooping somewhat. dragging their feet in the sand, they scuttled along after their master.



Heh, can't believe this escaped me for so long. Me likey - especially the way you worked ingame elements like Boris in. Where's the next update?

"If I had Force powers, vacuum or not my cape/clothes/hair would always be blowing in the Dramatic Wind." - Tenzhi




[[It comes on me at odd moments mate. Been leveling him lately. Soon!]]



The interior of the sub did not impress the Last Prince.

Although the general shape was in line with his own personal rocket ship, the humans' idea of a well-tuned machine were, for Gashanatantra, indicative of their fate as his future slaves. The walls were festooned with exposed wiring and pipes, and the controls were abysmally analog. It took three of them to pilot the simple craft. Plus, the place stank of oil, exhaust and stale burned herbs.

In addition, he observed, they had been rightfully mistrustful of his metal henchmen, despite the robots' efforts at appearing nondescript. Once they'd squeezed inside the tubular craft they'd folded in on themselves like so much cargo; but the still-emitting diodes and oddly aware look of their crudely [for the Martian Prince's expectations, at least] constructed facial areas put the crew on edge.

Boris, for his part, was relieved, nearly jolly that he'd been rescued and that he and his 'old friend' were now safely dieseling off away from the coast. With his hypnotic suggestions holding, he cheerfully sipped some coffee and made idle chit-chat with the Last Prince, trying to find where they'd left off, whenever they might have last seen each other.

But the Last Prince was not up for small talk; after a while, Boris curled up on a packing crate to sleep inside his tattered coat, and left Gashanatantra to surreptitiously poke around at the submarine's design.

For the first hour or so, he'd silently planned to simply take over the craft. However, his more careful probing of its wiring and hydraulics [the latter only by eye] convinced him that scuttling the thing would be a smarter effort than trying to keep it as a conveyance.

However, as he listened to the sea pass by outside, clutching the bench on which he sat a bit tightly at the alien sensation of being afloat and also at the mental image of more water than he'd ever seen in his life, bearing down over his head outside just a thin shell of metal, it occurred to him: the metal was keeping the sea out.

At that point ignored the grimy inner workings of the sub and concentrated on the inner framework. Load-bearing ability, thickness of the bracings. Simplicity of the welds. Extra rivet holes left for pieces or designs that had never been added.

It wasn't Titanotherium, nor any alloy that could hold a candle to the Martian metal, but....

When Boris awoke, he introduced the Last Prince to something called 'coffee', which Gashanatantra would not partake in until the Russian showed him how to add cream and sugar... which suddenly made Boris appear as an excellent hand-slave to the Prince's eye. With nearly an inch of white crystals poured in, the coffee was quite pleasing. And it made his beady red eyes blaze, as the caffeine made his green blooded brain race with more plans. So when the Russian information broker climbed the ladder to the hatch, the Last Prince shooed him.

"I'll be right along, Boris old chap. I want to have talk with the stevedores."

As Boris' foot hit the end of the dock, there came from within the submarine some hurried shouts, and the faint sizzle of laser bolts. Then an impact that echoed across the illicit inlet; with a ringing thoom!, a small dimple appeared on the outer hull and the sub rocked a bit in its moorings. Smoke rose from the open hatch, and all was silent for a time.

Then, the smug Last Prince of Mars clambered up, his laser rifle held at a cocky angle. After he checked the other docks for any sign of observers, his robots joined him, and then began the arduous task of dragging the entire sub up the docking ramp onto dry land.



It had been more than three weeks now, but still the sub's carcass drew the occasional spectator.

Tonight, it was a trio of Gold Brickers, who'd caught sight of the wreck while taking a stroll along the coast.

"Can't tell whose it was," said the first, "all the skin near the nose is gone. No name, no ID numbers."

"Looks like a big chicken carcass," commented the second.

"Maybe," the third said, as he lumbered up inside the shell, poking around at what was left, "but not so much; ribs are cut down to the lowest deck level. Nothing's sticking up."

"Just the engine," said the first. Indeed, except for a few small parts the diesel motor sat intact, its back end submerged by the high tide. "Screws are gone, too."

"Pretty sloppy," observed the second agreed, as if seeking the first 'Bicker's approval.

"Nah, wait, look at this!" The third had bent to examine something. He gestured as he spoke. "All the cuts are precise. Laser welders, maybe? Right through the steel frame, like a knife. And, I was looking at the electronics they left. The comm gear is smashed, but some of the circuit boards were pulled out first. See? Nothing green left. Just wires and tubes." He moved some objects aside with his gloves. "Yep. Not a single circuit board left. All this junk is old news, analog. Anything solid-state is gone. No sonar, no targeting computers. Periscope's still here; satellite dish isn't." He stood there pondering while his underlings looked around.

"Hey! said the second after a while, "they left the head behind!" He laughed, pointing at the white porcelain toilet.

"Brilliant," the first moaned, rolling his eyes. "How did I get you guys assigned to my patrol?"


"They are moving off now, Master," noted Martian Drone Number Two. It stood at the window in Boris' ramshackle apartment, as it had for hours, its sensor arrays peeking out through the natty curtains, scanning over the docks for potential intruders.

"Duly noted," the Last Prince sighed. He was draped over a loveseat, which for him served as spacious couch here in his first slave's domicile. His powered armor stood on its own in a corner, while Gashanatantra lounged in an oversized mu mu, one of Boris' old nightshirts cut to size [and washed many, many times]. His laser rifle was never far, though, and for the moment the Prince wore his powered gauntlets as well, so he could manipulate his coffee mug while its contents were still hot. And to work the TV remote.

Boris for his part lay in an alcoholic stupor in the easy chair where he spent most of his days. The Last Prince's hypnotic manipulations were still in effect, but the human had developed a sense of melancholy while under it, which had crept into Gashanatantra's psyche as well by association. Now, the two of them lazed despondently around Boris' run-down bachelor pad, flipping endlessly through the cable channels, with the robots taking turns standing watch or getting them food. The Guard-bot had polished the Last Prince's armor for perhaps the dozenth time now, and was surveying its work with a similar sense of malaise.

The Last Prince of Mars sighed. He felt despondent. The television showed him many marvels [using the term loosely], but more and more frequently, Gashanatantra was presented with constant reminders that he was alone here. Humans worked in groups; even the animal-science channels talked endlessly about herd behavior in Earth creatures, and every time he saw furry little Merecats cavorting with each other on some dusty plain the Last Prince scowled.

Then of course, there were the Earth women.

In both long-form plays and short "advertisements" the Last Prince was presented with an endless parade of accentuated human females who oozed overt mating signs. Tightly clad, or even clad in almost nothing, these humans didn't know how good they had it! mused Gashanatantra. Running, laughing, solving crimes; no matter what undertaking they were occupied with in their teleplays, these Earth women showed off their lovely curves and spoke each word with implied lust for masculine attention! Their movements were spellbinding!

And yet..

Presented with so much contextualized sexuality, the Last Prince realized it only made him pine for attentions of his own. There were no more deferential green-skinned lovelies for him to chose from at his whim; only these lewd, independent, curvaceous giantesses of the monkey-descended Earthlings.

The Last Prince sighed heavily. "Whiskey," he muttered, and Drone Number One refilled his shot glass. he grimaced over the horrible tasting liquid fire, but it eased his hurt.

"Borissey," he said presently, mangling what the Russian called himself, "Boris zhe Russian" into an odd and incorrect contraction, "I will never know love on this miserable planet."

His bleary-eyed companion turned from the TV, "Eh? Vhy not?"

The Last Prince's mechanized glove pointed at the TV with one of its three fingers. "Look at your Earth women. So strong willed, so independent. They do not bow for anyone! This is not at all acceptable. Nor do I find it attractive in any way!" Gashanatantra lied. "None of them are acceptable mates for a Prince of Warhoom! Whiskey!" He almost shouted, yet, concealed a small whimper.

"The tipsy Russian groaned as he altered his slump in the chair. "Dhey need a bick strong man! I vas vone vonce! Bick and strong, vit tattoos. All deh girls lovet me. I vas in deh navy you know..."

"Yes, please don't tell me that again," Gashanatantra sighed.

"Big strong man!" Boris insisted again, muttering away into silence. "Strong and successful.."

The Last Prince hammered back his next shot; the Drone dutifully refilled for him.

"I will never be big!" The Prince shouted abruptly a short time later, waking Boris when he had dozed. "You big lumbering apes! All so tall," Gashanatantra whined drunkenly.

"So," Boris grumped, "you can be powerful still! On de Islands, you just need to be in deh know. Dat's why I am so successful... people buy my information."

"You call this successful?" the Last Prince roared incredulously. "Look at us! We live in a hovel! It smells like sea creatures and low tide!"

"Ya, but I got money in da bank!" Boris shot back petulantly. "And I live comfortably! Dis is vhat I like!" He shrugged at the dark apartment.

"And I have a warehouse full of steel and components!" the Last Prince countered, speaking of the stash of sub salvage he'd filled the downstairs garage area with.

"Vell! So vhat! Go do sometink vit it!" Boris snipped.

The Last Prince scowled at the human, even as the latter turned bleary eyes back to the droning TV.

His red eyes cast daggers at Boris until Gashanatantra jumped up from the couch and, adjusting his mu mu, stormed off into the bedroom he'd made his own. Boris was soon snoring lightly.