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Arcadia

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My dearest Ned,

If you’re reading this letter, then you’ve already read my journal detailing my adventures on Barsoom and here on Earth. Of how I searched for treasures and secrets from darkest Africa and the wastelands of the Arctic and how I found myself on a strange planet, millions of miles away from home; able to help a beautiful princess and noble warriors defeat a madman intent on destroying all who opposed him. My reward was to find a happiness on the red sands of Mars that I thought I would never find again.

Of all the stories I can tell you of my lives on Barsoom and Earth, I’ve saved my favourite until last. I think it will become quite obvious as to why I’ve not included this in my journal so far. I was writing as much to remember as to bring you onside in my plans to ‘trick’ the Therns into getting them to give up one of their medallions so I could return to Barsoom.

I know you can never go home but I want to - I have to go back. I hope that this memory will help you understand why it is so important for me to try.

I have told you, as part of my tale, that under the light of the two moons of Barsoom, Dejah Thoris took me as her husband. In some tales, that would be a fitting end … or at least with ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ as a postscript.

Not for me it wasn’t.

I’ve seen the wounds that war can leave behind and while I’m no Saw Bones, I knew that the best thing that could be done for all of Barsoom was to help ensure that the scars that were left behind, would fade in time. Barsoom was blessed on the days that both my beloved Dejah and Sola were born. In the days after the defeat of Zodanga, the two ladies spent their time talking over how best to bring Thark and Red Man together in peace to ensure that Barsoom did not face the same threat again. Evenings would be spent, sitting in the Helium observatory, looking up at the stars and talking about the ills that plagued Barsoom.

During those discussions, I found it most enlightening to sit and listen to the ladies talk; Woola snoring quietly as he slept at my feet. Being a (relative) stranger to Barsoom, it allowed me to understand both my new home and the people who lived there.

Oh, don’t read me wrong Ned; it wasn’t all politics and seriousness. The ladies would tell stories they had heard as children, sing songs and play music … and sometimes they’d ask me to tell my stories. I took some persuading, but eventually I told them about your aunt Sarah and Jack Jr. It wasn’t an easy thing … but I did it.

I didn’t tell the ladies this, but I feel I can tell you the reason why I was so hesitant to say anything. It was because up ’til that night, I still felt nothing but heartbreak and I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me or for Dejah to feel that she was a substitute for Sarah. Because she wasn’t and she never could be. They are as different as day and night from each other … and that’s one of the many reasons that I love them. I shouldn’t have worried because the funniest thing happened the minute I opened my mouth to speak. Instead of reliving the heartbreak of losing Sarah and Jack Jr. again, I felt a sense of ‘peace’ wash over me. It felt … good to be able to talk about them and not feel the colour bleed out from my world. Not to see blackened bodies but to see in my mind’s eye, two blonde heads walking a step ahead of me,. Happy and laughing.

Something must have shown in my face because as soon as I finished saying my piece, I felt my Dejah reach out to touch my arm; but I also felt two hands gingerly rest on my shoulders. Sola looked for all the world like a frightened colt standing there, ready to bolt if I said 'Boo'. I didn't know what to say, but that was before I realised what Sola was trying to do; comfort me.

"They are with the Goddess, she will care for them," she said.

You know me Ned; I'm not one for spiritual talk, always thought that as was best left to the preachers, but Sola's words touched me deep.

"And we shall all be reunited one day," Dejah continued, just as softly.

"Amen," I muttered. If I could travel across the darkness of space, then perhaps there was a place where souls go after their time is done. If there was, then I hoped that Sarah and Jack Jr. were happy there.

For the first time since I walked away from their graves, I felt like I was … home. Millions of miles away from the place I was born, on a planet where everyone I met looked at me as being ‘different’; but I had found somewhere I wanted to stay. And I wouldn’t have swapped it for all the tea in China or all the gold in Arizona’s hills. Or anywhere else for that matter. There would be a price to pay; I would never see my family again but that was a cost I was willin’ to pay. I was loved and I had a family once again, for a second time in my life. Some folks don’t even get a first go around, let alone a second. So who was I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Ned, please don't take this personal, but when you find that person you love more than breath and the friend for who you would gladly die for ... you'll understand what I felt, standing in the light of Barsoom's two moons.

That's what kept me going for those ten, long years. The memory of the family I had

found myself on Mars I hope … one day, you can find a family like that, because there is no joy that can compete. On earth or on Barsoom.

'Til we meet again, in this life or the next, I am, your ever faithful servant.

Captain John Carter.
Virginia Cavalry