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Don Juan on Mars

Episode II
The Stolen Bride

By Marc


Don Juan, in his Mhartian reincarnation as the handsome young Prince Thol keeps a love tryst in the Garden of Mhersa with the beautiful Princess Lheeta. This meeting has been sanctioned by the Supreme Council according to Martian law for the purpose of lending the necessary biological aid to the almost perfected system of synthetic reproduction now in popular vogue upon the planet. Mind over matter is the keynote and the "lovers" are supposed to participate in a mental union only. Don Juan, however, reverts to type and his passion fans to flame a hidden spark in the heart of Lheeta. They spend one wonderful night of forbidden bodily love and are discovered the next morning by the Garden Guards. When an attempt is made to take them into custody and present them to the authorities, Don Juan sees red, breaks loose from his captors, attacks and fells the guards, rescues Lheeta and with her in his arms escapes into the dense forest.

OH, the supreme ecstasy of these past few days—and nights!! Only the peeping stars and caressing night breezes know, and they will keep our precious secret!

No signs as yet of our pursuers. For the time being we have thrown them off our trail. Little use to hope that they have given up the hunt, for the Council is relentless and well I know the lengths to which it will go in order to enforce or avenge these infernal mental laws. We have committed a grave sin against this unbearable supercivilization. How long can we elude the round-bellied heartless Guards of Mhersa? One thing is certain, that every moment of our delicious freedom will be filled to overflowing with our newfound happiness. All the lost passion of this chilly globe seems to be seething in my veins! Could a thousand deaths buy one hour of this maddening delight? I fear them not, but still, I shall be wary.

I have built a leafy bower of love here for my darling Lheeta. Deep in the purple forest fastness and high in the protecting arms of a giant Ghiva tree. I have become a savage in actuality, for life depends upon my ability to wrest from Nature the substance of our existence and my skill in the defense of our persons from the many lurking dangers of the wilds.

A stout club of dhaga wood makes me a serviceable weapon and means of defenses against the few carnivorous beasts that prowl this part of Mhars and should I chance upon any of our enemies I will give a good account of myself.

I gather the choicest fruits, nuts and edible roots and bring huge pods of nectar-like liquid from Bhoppa, the milk tree. Each meal is a feast of the gods served by Lheeta's own dainty hands. Life is sweet, so sweet!

Lheeta and I are very happy in our great love and newfound freedom from hateful mental restrictions. Though there is no marriage upon this callous old sphere, I hold Lheeta as my bride. Were we not given to each other by the great Dhall himself, united by Mhersa and welded as one by that long dormant instinct that had its birth back in the very cradle of Time itself? The wise old stars decreed that Lheeta should be my mate. Ah, did heaven e'er bestow a more priceless gift!!

Last night when Mhersa cast her soft green radiance o'er our secret love-nest in the treetop, Lheeta crept close to me, her warm little hand found mine and she murmured, "Thol, my adored one, explain to me the sweet mystery. Each thrilling kiss, each passionate caress, seems the acme of bliss, the most wonderful thing in the world. Life is so short at best, oh my darling, let not a fraction of its precious span be wasted! The glowing chariot of delight awaits, lover mine, and there may be still unexplored worlds in our universe of ecstasy!" What a night!! Her burning lips sought mine—

Mhersa's emerald radiance seemed to deepen with sheer envy. The mighty Ghiva tree that shelters us actually trembled with the delicious intimacy of the night. Mhars, her intrigues and mental conquests, Creation itself ceased to exist— we alone were the universe. Overhead the reluctant stars winked out one by one and another dawn blushed upon us as we peacefully slumbered in each other's arms oblivious to all but our great happiness.

Today, somehow, I have a queer feeling of uneasiness. Nothing tangible—merely a premonition. The unaccustomed strain is telling on my nerves a bit. Still, I feel that something unpleasant is in the wind. Lheeta feels it, too, though she has tried to keep it from me.

We must be constantly on our guard lest our thought waves escape and betray our hiding place to our enemies. Only yesterday I experienced several strong telepathic impulses from the outside. Possibly a number of great minds are concentrating upon me, groping for my mind in the darkness of the subconscious. It is a duel of thought waves and I must be ever on my guard. Not for a moment dare we leave the mental gates ajar. I can no longer communicate with Lheeta while foraging for our daily food because our enemies would intercept our thoughts.

Lheeta has just opened her marvelous sea-green eyes and I read in their mysterious depths the sweetest of all messages. I am by her side in a twinkling and her soft strong little arms draw me rapturously to her, hot trembling lips cling to mine and my happy heart pounds madly in my breast. I stroke the satin smoothness of her rose-tinted skin and marvel anew at the perfection of her divine little body. So seductively molded! Radiant with life—and with love!

I am confronted with a minor tragedy today. The food supply near our home tree has been exhausted and I must search farther afield for our evening meal. I have cautioned Lheeta to stay well hidden within our love-nest lest some roving Mhartian discover her during my short absence. I will not be gone long but one can never tell what may lie around the bend of the trail.

Food is scarcer than I had imagined. I have been hunting for hours so far with little success. Lheeta will be hungry when I return and I must not be empty-handed.

I have traveled a great distance from our Ghiva tree but have marked well my trail so that my way will not be lost. A few juicy roots and a handful of zhaka berries comprise the full extent of my findings so far. It seems as if someone or something had denuded the whole locality of fruits and nuts. It is uncanny and I am the prey to strange misgivings. The situation is indeed serious for without a plentiful supply of food Lheeta and I will be forced to abandon our happy treetop "home" and risk the perils of another journey through the forest.

My long wanderings have made me very weary and I must needs rest awhile before continuing my search. There is a small clearing a short distance ahead where the sun filters down through the vaulted branches. I will make my way there and recline upon the warm moss for a few moments in order to retrieve my strength.

I must have dozed for a space, surely not long for the sun seems about the same and yet— What is that queer sweet odor in the air? I did not notice it before, or is it just my imagination? A languorous feeling envelopes me, the mossy mound on which I am reclining seems the soul of luxurious comfort, my heavy eyelids close and again I am lost in sleep.

Have I awakened or do I slumber on? Surely this is a dream! There directly across the small clearing are two maidens, or are they goddesses? Their beautiful bodies, flecked with filtered sunlight are swaying rhythmically to the measure of some pagan dance and softly to my ears come the muted notes of faraway music. I try to rise but the strength seems to have completely left my body. I can only lie there and watch.

Nearer and nearer dance the two lovely female figures, one a silver-haired blonde, the other with tresses of sunset hue. I note the voluptuous curves of their breasts and thighs, their full luscious lips and the tantalizing flush of their nude flesh. The strange perfume in the air grows stronger and I seem to grow weaker. I am powerless to move, only my eyes follow the enticing movements of the dance.

They are upon me now, these two temptresses from heaven or hell. They caress me with their pink-fingered hands, their glowing eyes, their scorching lips. They throw themselves upon me in a frenzy of passionate delight, I am enveloped by their charms, stifled by their kisses and yet I am as one detached, a mere spectator to the amorous tableau. I realize that in some mysterious manner I have been drugged. Slowly my mind grasps the details even though my body is as a thing apart, powerless to resist the advances of the two beautiful charmers and now completely possessed by them.

Suddenly, as a flash of livid lightning in a midnight sky, the thought strikes me, what of Lheeta!! Her name is like a powerful stimulant and I concentrate my errant senses to overcome this strange lassitude. A tiny shriek followed by much sobbing comes to my ears as with one supreme effort I free myself from the beautiful physical vampires as well as the mental paralysis. Trembling from head to foot I hesitate there for a moment to get my bearings then dash off madly through the purple forest, my heart filled with dread.

I am at the base of our Ghiva tree and have called softly to Lheeta but she does not answer. I fear to go up lest I find—

Yes, Lheeta is gone!! My lovely bride has disappeared! Perhaps she has but wandered near by in search of me—but, no, the worst has happened, that I know. Our enemies have been here during my absence and stolen away my darling mate! And yet, there seems to be no sign of a struggle and I know that Lheeta would not tamely submit to the fate in store for us if we are captured. Strange!

I search the vicinity thoroughly but find not a single clue to the mystery. I am disconsolate and reproach myself for having gone so far afield and for staying so long. Then, for the first time since my unhappy return, I recall the queer happenings in the forest, the stupefying perfume, the two beautiful women, the cry and sobs—!! Could that have been Lheeta? Could she have followed me and witnessed that disgraceful exhibition in the clearing? What was the cause of it all?

My head aches. I begin to see through the whole diabolical scheme of things. Oh, they are clever, these Mhartians, and peerless in the art of mental torture.

Life alone in the forest is unbearable so I will give myself up. This I know, is just what the infernal Council anticipates—but what matter? Perhaps I may be granted the sight of my Lheeta before the Laboratory claims my physical powers. I have had my day, I suppose, and now I must pay the price. I leave for the City at once.

A reception committee of Guardsman meets me as I emerge from the forest. They expect me. I am being led unresisting toward the city. What do I care?

We pass a group of young nobles who leer impudently at me and converse in unnecessarily loud voices.

"We really owe him something," remarks one, eyeing me, "for the great service he has rendered us by liberating the delightful passions of the divine Lheeta."

"Yes," answers another, "I experienced her charming ministrations last night and I must say that they far surpass anything that I have ever dreamed."

At the mention of Lheeta's name I stop dead in my tracks and pulling my guards with me confront the smirking speaker.

"What say you, spawn of a maggot?" I cry, eager to be at his well-fed throat. "Let me but hear that sacred name again upon your vile lips and I will tear you limb from limb!!" I shake off the restraining clutches of the guards as if they were mere jhav-flies, trembling with a consuming rage. To a man the nobles retreat before me and draw weapons to defend themselves. The guardsmen recover from my burst of fury and again hold me powerless.

"The fool evidently has not heard," mutters one of the young bloods. "We should tell him. After all the credit belongs to him."

And so I learn the horrible details. My Lheeta did discover me there in the embrace of those two strange women. Brokenhearted she voluntarily gave herself up to the Council, and their devilish punishment is this. She is to be the public property of the nobles of the court who still retain some rudimentary vestige of their physical properties. In the belief that she has been betrayed by a faithless lover she has entered into the situation with utter abandon, striving to eke from the many a balm for that deep hurt inflicted by the one.

My heart is sick within me! I am being brought before the Council to hear my fate but I care not, nothing matters now. My Lheeta, my bride, the willing mistress of all Mhars, a common ———!!

Dhall! This is too much! You Mhartian fiends, with your bloated minds and lust-steeped bodies!!!

We enter the laboratory, the great gates clang shut behind us and I am about to meet the Council face to face.