[PART 17]

THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS

During this time it became possible to continue work uncovering the mysteries of ancient Egypt. To accomplish that goal British Archeologist Edward Ierton found himself and his team from the British Museum of Natural History hard at work in the Valley of the Kings. His discovery in 1907, even though it was quite spectacular did not render a large press following as other more critical events took the forefront. Nevertheless, much of the Committee leadership did pay close attention. He had discovered the remains of Akhenaton which in and of itself was not necessarily grand. However, the remains themselves were very different than the archeologist would have expected. The skull of the Egyptian Pharaoh was greatly elongated with the distinct appearance of a Martian hybrid! Egypt was looking very interesting as an area we needed to study more closely.

Along with the remains were found ancient carvings reporting that Akhenaton was visited by “one of the sky gods who advised him on local Earthly matters. (‘Star People’)” The hieroglyphics also reported that Akhenaton was himself descended from sky beings that came to Earth in flying ships. Without any doubt the Committee would be following up with further expeditions to Egypt as the connection between the Martians and the ancient peoples of Egypt began to see the light of day. What more we could uncover was anyone’s guess.

The Committee also published A. Erman’s A Handbook of Egyptian Religion in London. It was one of the first to mention the possibility of a Martian-Egyptian connection over time.

 ‘EXPLORATION’ OF THE EARTH’S POLAR REGIONS

“At first when the mission was proposed I had no idea that the actual objective would be a reconnaissance mission against the Martians.”

U. S. Navy Commander Robert E. Peary

Even before the Committee knew for certain some type of command and communication center had been re-established on Earth by the Martians it was generally suspected there were at least two primary control areas that had been used by the Martians to coordinate their attacks on Earth’s major population centers during the war. By reviewing combat reports from field commanders around the world and studying the Martian movements and attack strategy from the war we were able to conclude that the Martians had divided up the Earth into only two operational areas of attack and occupation – north and south. These operational areas were suspected of being directed by command centers at or near both geographic North and South Poles. We would discover later that the Martians had placed mobile tracking beacons at both poles to guide in their battle spacecraft during the war (Martian B Interrogation 1906-16). These beacons were probably still in place and if this turned out to be correct we would need to remove them if possible.

This positioning seemed to make not only tactical, but logical sense from the point of view of the Martians. With the cold and desiccated climate now pervasive across their home planet both of Earth’s Polar Regions would have been logical choices to begin their worldwide operations. These were Martian comfort zones of a sort and these out of the way locations would give the Martians time to set up their operations before attacking. It is very possible that the Martians knew, having studied Earth’s history apparently so closely, that no human had ever walked on the top or bottom of this world. Only a Martian could do that at the time. For humans these areas were terra incognita. The equatorial areas on Earth would naturally be the last place the cold loving Martians would want to be. (There was also the biological problem the Martians had when it came to simple survival. The bacteria that had killed their invasion forces were still very much in place especially in the warmer areas.) It had even been suggested very early on during our study that the warmer areas on Earth would not be attacked as to allow the Martians a zone of human occupation for resource purposes (food). They had used only limited resources for attacks, but nevertheless deadly, along or near Earth’s equator during the war. This however, may very well prove to only be wishful thinking.

It was soon decided to send teams to both poles in order to locate and hopefully destroy those remote bases, if they existed, as soon as possible. Being the most active area of the two by far the North Pole would be attempted first. The only problem was, mankind had never even gotten close to the poles and we had no way of knowing what we would find when and if we ever got there. And if we did get to the poles could we bring enough manpower and supplies to do any real damage to the suspected remote Martian command centers? It was left up to the science and military teams to decide exactly how we would send teams to the poles. Once again cover stories, unrelated to any Martian activity, would be presented to the public through various universities so as to distract any views as to exactly what we were up to. The public would not be informed of the actual purpose of the rush to “explore” Earth’s Polar Regions until after war broke out for the second time. They would also not be told that a human, born on Mars, would be on the expedition to the poles. Her name was Nova, and the fact that she ‘knew’ the Martians very well and was well adapted to cold weather made her an invaluable member of the polar teams. She was also a delight to speak with.

What to do about the Martians, if they were located, would be the next problem to be dealt with. For now the problem would be to get there and verify their location; the rest would have to fall into place at a later date. (Much later as it turned out.) However, it was felt the work being done on new flying machines developed using back-engineered Martian technology could be key to eventually flying to the poles. Perhaps we could even fly a rebuilt Martian Flying Machine to the poles. That option was on the table, but it was held “close to the vest” until we actually knew how to fly one of those things. We still had a great deal to learn. In the meantime, a 49-year-old U. S. Navy Commander named Robert Edwin Peary received an urgent telegram from Admiral George Dewey to report to his office in Lower-New York City for immediate assignment.

Peary would later write, “When the word came in to report to Admiral Dewey’s office I had a pretty good idea what he wanted to speak to me about. And since I was not busy with other projects I thought it would be a good idea to once again head north. I had no idea at the time that the actual objective would be a reconnaissance mission against the Martians. Because I had been working on much different projects, the possibly simply did not cross my mind. I guess I was like everyone else, trying to put the Martians into the past.” As history would record he was about to overtake the past.

NORTH

Commander Peary, already well known for his northern explorations, was about to find out he had been chosen to lead the first “exploration” to the North Pole and he would not be looking for polar bears. He was to search for Martians. If it weren’t for the Martians the assignment to the far Arctic Region would have been just the latest adventure for Peary. He had already made several expeditions exploring the ice pack surrounding most of Greenland during 1886, ‘89 and ‘91. He was also one of the first to cross the Greenland ice cap. (Above which one of the major air battles of the Second Martian War would be fought.) He had continued to push farther north during explorations in 1898 eventually becoming one of the first to travel north to a record 87 degrees 06 minutes north latitude. After that expedition Peary wrote Northward over the Great Ice published in 1898. The Committee team making the selection had read copies of his book before he had gotten the call to come to Lower-New York City. Naturally, they failed to mention this to him during their interview. They didn’t want Commander Peary to know he had already been selected to lead the mission even before he arrived at the Committee offices.

What had impressed the Committee was not that he had gotten so far north, even though his work on the ice had been quite impressive. What had most impressed the Committee members was his method of setting up support teams and supply caches for the trip north before making that last dash to record north latitudes. This organizational ability was deemed critical to achieving their goals. He was also recognized for his study of Eskimo survival techniques, which he closely followed. He had dressed in traditional Eskimo furs and in the same method used by them to preserve his body heat without over heating causing sweating which in the cold of the Arctic can kill with great speed. He had also trained with the Eskimos on igloo building techniques and other native methods. Clearly he was the right man for the job, which would require more than luck and determination. It would require a great deal of planning skills to pull this dangerous assignment off even if he did not run into any Martians along the way.

After the interview, Admiral Dewey told Commander Peary it would be his job to select his team and with the Committee’s help outfit a ship for the voyage north and the trek across the ice in search of the suspected Martian Polar base. It was decided a single ship on an exploration mission (reported by the newspapers to be going to the west coast of Greenland) would not attract any undue attention. There was an added task, somewhat on the fringe, but then again this was 1907 and he was planning on searching for Martians for god’s sake. How much stranger could it have gotten? Commander Peary soon found out.

He was also expected to do his best to prove or disprove a popular theory which stated the Earth was partially hollow with an extensive entrance at the North Pole leading into the interior. It was felt by some investigators and writers the 1890s UFO reports could have been based in just such a hidden area flying out of the darkness to create havoc on the surface before retreating to their hidden base, even though there was no solid scientific theory to show how this could be possible. Supporters of the ‘Hollow Earth Theory’ would relate that the descendents of the survivors from ‘Atlantis’ are now living in splendor in a grand civilization hundreds of miles beneath the pole. These ancient people were given the name “the Dero” who were also reported to be living in several linked caverns of massive size said to be situated in line extending from the equator all the way to the top of the world and well into the hollow Earth. (We knew so little about our own planet at the time.) There was of course the real possibility of some type of massive cave complex at the pole that could serve just as well. Peary thought otherwise, but he would check out the theory as best he and his team could. I could not help but wonder what the London based Flat Earth Society founded around 300 years ago would have thought of all this. For that matter, what would they have to say about the Martians?

The theory of a hollow Earth dates back to ancient times finding its way into the myths from the Greeks of a deep set Hades as well as the Nordic Svartalfheim, the Jewish Sheol, and of course the mythical Christian Hell. In 1692 the famous astronomer Edmond Halley put forth his theory that the Earth was only a shell some 500 miles thick and hollow on the inside with a core mass about the size of Mars. In 1818 John Cleves Symmes, Jr. proposed making an expedition to the North Pole to test the theory and search for an opening he had ‘calculated’ should be some 1400 miles wide. Before he left office American President John Quincy Adams stated he was in favor of just such an effort, but left office before approval and the all important funding was forth coming. The next President, one Andrew Jackson, decided not to proceed with the effort as his administration had other less esoteric efforts in mind much closer to home. Peary would pick up where Mr. Symmes had left off. And just to be safe Peary took the time to pick up a copy of Jules Verne’s 1864 novel, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, which goes into great detail about a subterranean prehistoric world. After all, one should be fully prepared when going on such an expedition. There was no sense taking any undue chances even though no one expected to find a lost world of dinosaurs! Did they?

Reflecting on the assignment, Peary was only mildly interested in possible discoveries of ancient life to be found on or in the high Arctic ice. And even though Martians were to be his primary concern he could not help but wonder if he could accidentally discover what had really happened to Swedish Arctic explorer Salomon August Andree who had attempted to fly a balloon to the North Pole (his second attempt) in 1897 only to be lost. His failure to return had been on many people’s minds and Peary wanted to discover the balloon and the remains of the small group of explorers. “To bring news to their families would give them some comfort.”

Peary would now have ten months to prepare himself and his crew. When asked who he wanted as his second in command Peary responded without hesitation. “Admiral, there is only one man I would trust with that assignment, my old friend Matthew Henson.” A messenger from Magic was soon knocking on Mr. Henson’s front door.

SOUTH

As we prepared to send reconnaissance teams to the North Pole plans were also being made to send teams to the South Pole. As with the north, tactical reports indicated the Martians had a great deal of interest in the south and Antarctica would be an ideal location for an Earth base of operations. The Martians would certainly feel at home in Antarctica. (Later we would look to Antarctica as a possible off-world home for our Martian enemies, but that was many years in the future.)

Chosen to led the way to the South Pole was veteran Arctic explorer Roald E. Amundsen of Norway. Amundsen had been the first mate for the 1897-99 Garlache expedition that had wintered off the coast of Antarctica first sighted in 1820 by a Russian expedition led by Faddey Bellingshausen. The first landing on the ice continent was made a year later by Captain John Davis the American leader of a sealer ship. In 1903-06 Amundsen led the first successful traverse of Canada’s Northwest Passage starting from the north Atlantic and ending up in the North Pacific Ocean. It was during this trip the team had spotted several distant unidentified aerial objects but made no positive identifications of any Martian flying craft. Needless to say, in 1906 we humans had no aircraft anywhere near the area. After his successful trip he had made inquiries about a possible push to the North Pole in early 1907. However, learning the assignment had gone to Peary he immediately accepted the task of making the first trek to the geographic South Pole. Briefed on the real Martian reason for the trip only made Amundsen that much more determined to make it all the way south. Like most people he had lost many friends during the First Martian War. Due to the great distance to the pole and an even greater possibility of Martian contact the southern mission was considered by planners to be the most challenging of the two reconnaissance missions.

As we began to search for Martian Earth bases their Martian hybrid allies once again attacked and this time their target would be a Committee facility deeply set in Lower-New York City. The war had come to our very doorstep and beyond!

MARTIAN BROTHERHOOD ATTACK DIRECTORATE D LABS

To most of the world even though Dr. Tesla was not known as Director D from the Committee he was nevertheless a well known scientist living in Lower-New York City. He was also known to be working on some wondrous new inventions that were at times (most of the time if the truth be known) being funded by the Committee and so naturally his work would fall under our protection even if he were not one of the Magic Twelve. When news of the attack on his lab “hit the streets” there was a good deal of reporting done by the local papers. What they did not report on was any Committee connections, but it got very close.

As the New London Electrical World headlined, “Fruits of Genus Swept Away”, the Sun out of New York reported, “Work of Half a Lifetime Gone”. Sun reporter Charles A. Dana wrote,

The destruction of Nikola Tesla’s workshop, with its wonderful contents, is something more than a private calamity. It is a misfortune to the Committee and the whole world. It is not in any degree an exaggeration to say that the men living at this time who are more important to the human race than this young gentleman can be counted on the fingers of one hand; perhaps on the thumb of one hand.

This last sentence came dangerously close to informing the world that Dr. Nikola Tesla was not just a famous scientist, but a critical member of the Magic Twelve. Needless to say, three Committee representatives went to visit Mr. Dana of the New York Sun along with his publisher for a little “chat!” It would be some time before any new articles about Mr. Tesla found their way to the pages of the Sun which was nevertheless ‘allowed’ to continue publishing!

I was in Lower-London at the time so I missed the attack or rather the attack missed me. Work had been going on for some time to expand the new underground laboratory being constructed in Lower-New York City at 35 South L-Fifth Avenue for Dr. Tesla and his small personal staff of engineers and technicians. Tesla had always been a more hands on individual when it came to his projects even though he still had major responsibilities as one of the Magic Twelve. It was clear that he very much preferred the “table top work” over his paperwork. As it turned out the only reason Tesla was not in the lab that morning was because he was running down some small detail in a report he needed to finish by the end of the week – in other words paperwork! And even though Dr. Tesla would have been a Brotherhood target due to his lab work it was felt the attack itself had been made on the lab and anyone who had been there and not specifically against Dr. Tesla.

That day as usual thousands of workmen came into the underground facilities. All carried I.D. cards that were checked, even the three who came to destroy from the Brotherhood. Their I.D.s were real except the men who carried them were not the same men who had been issued the I.D.s. Those three workmen were already dead!

The three hybrids, which looked not unlike the photos on the I.D. cards, entered Lower-New York City from three different entrances (they had to due to the restriction placed upon I.D.s) at approximately 6:48 a.m. on 6 June 1907. All three went directly to work lockers where they had earlier stored weapons and explosives. At 7:28 the three hybrids made their separate ways to a small underground coffee shop around the corner from the lab to link up and make final plans. Their timetable had set up the attack on the Directorate labs for exactly 8 a.m. At five minutes to eight the three men stood up, paid their bills, and casually walked to the guarded entrance of the lab. Having already made it into the underground complex their entrance into the lab complex was far too easy. Only later would we correct that particular error.

The three hybrids must have had some idea of exactly where the main laboratory was as there were no signs to lead them to it. It did not take them long to find their way to a small office just outside of the main lab. There they prepared the explosive devices and loaded their weapons. They were almost ready to begin the attack when one of the security guards checking locks on his last round of the day opened the door to the office. He was gunned down immediately. The sounds of automatic weapons fire passing through the body of the guard and echoing throughout the halls signaled the start of the attack on Directorate D labs.

Crossing the hall the three hybrids shot their way into the lab cutting down four young assistants who had come in early that day. Within seconds alarms were going off. As the noise continued two of the hybrids placed the explosive packages in three areas inside the lab, while the third guarded the entrance. Setting the explosive timers took no more than a few seconds. When they were finished they began to make their way out of the lab. It was at that point responding to the gunfire that Corporal Winchester, who had been making his way to the lab from another lab deeper in the complex, arrived at the scene. Without hesitation he began firing his rifle as he ran towards the hybrids. There was a brief exchange of fire as Winchester cut down the trailing hybrid with four well-placed rounds. The second hybrid spun around firing as he turned. His rounds also cut into the hybrid and wounded Winchester three times. Continuing to fire his weapon despite being gravely wounded Corporal Winchester managed to wound the second hybrid, twice. The lead hybrid then began firing wildly as he pulled the wounded hybrid from the lab and dragged him across the hall. Seconds now remained on the fuses.

Teams of security personnel had by now surrounded the facility. It was at that time the lead hybrid decided to cut the odds of his capture. He took out his pistol and shot the wounded hybrid in the head killing him instantly. Security teams had now made their way to the inner lab where they spotted the explosive devices and the now unconscious Winchester. They were barely able to drag him to the relative safety of a reinforced internal wall within the lab when all three explosive devices went off with a tremendous blast. The assault team had been just able to throw themselves behind the blast proof wall that had been designed to hold in any explosions that might have occurred due to any failed experiment in the lab. The four man team was badly shaken up but they were very much alive only because the hybrids had attacked the most blast secure lab in the entire facility without knowing it.

The explosion had torn apart the lab, destroyed a million dollars worth of research apparatus, and blown off the blast door that had not been closed at the far end of the lab. The explosion also punched a hole in the floor leaving a pile of burnt and crushed metal on the level just below the lab. The hybrid that had made it back across the hall had been knocked off his feet and was now badly wounded. It had been less than two minutes since the first rounds had been fired at the security guard. Tango was on the way.

Pushing past a security blockade quickly set up around the facility Tango’s Delta squad, the team on duty at the time, consisting of 20 members of Tango all dressed entirely in black, ordered the power to be shut off in the lab. With the power off the team made their way carefully to the office where the hybrid was suspected to be hold up. Using mirrors and a new low-light device, classified to Tango forces, the squad was able to locate the hybrid. Moving slowly two members crawled towards the wounded hybrid until they were within ten feet. At a signal the team outside called to the hybrid that pulled himself up to fire. Instantly both close in Tango members opened up on the hybrid cutting him down with automatic weapons fire. It was all over.

The team signaled it was clear and called in the fire suppression teams to put out the fire in the destroyed lab. After the fire had been put out and the area cleared of debris it was clear the “building” could no longer serve as a modern lab. It was too small at any rate and far too close to one of the original main entrances. Dr. Tesla soon found himself and his staff at a new, larger and more secure location. 46 L-East Houston Street would house Dr. Tesla’s new ‘cavern’ but he could still be reached at his old phone number “Spring 299.” Weeks later the lab was back in operation fully staffed and ready to go – along with ten new guards stationed around the clock and a new revised set of security protocols! The new lab could now boast a well-developed security device that was designed to stop any hybrid, human or for that matter any Martian who happened to drop in – a fully electrified walkway set to electrocute any and all who arrived ‘unannounced’. It was in fact a death trap. We were still learning to defend ourselves against our Martian enemies, even as we were fast becoming a warier people.

A few weeks later the Committee decided that Dr. Tesla’s work was so critical to our needs that a second lab would be set up across town at 8 L-West 40th Street. It would also sport the new security protocol. Both labs would be working on identical projects making it next to impossible for the work to be interrupted again. Tesla was delighted with the new set up, not just because of the additional laboratory space, but more for the fact the new lab was just across the L-street from the Lower-New York City Library (one of Carnegie’s projects), of which he was a frequent visitor.

As for Corporal Winchester, he would soon be on his way towards a full recovery and an awards ceremony where he was awarded the Committee Silver Star (CSS) for his actions during the firefight in the lab. Not long after he was invited to join Tango. Since membership in Tango is classified I will not comment on whether or not he accepted. All I will say is as far as his records show – he had left military service for ‘other’ work!

My concerns were now directed towards the health of Dr. Tesla. He was working far too many hours. When I spoke to him about resting up a bit he told me about a “little problem” he was having.

“…a peculiar affliction due to the appearance of images, often accompanied by strong flashes of light, which marred the sight of real objects and interfered with my thought and action. They were pictures of things and scenes which I had really seen, never of those I imagined. When a word was spoken to me the image of the object it designated would present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I saw was tangible or not. This caused me great discomfort and anxiety.”

Needless to say, it caused the members of the Committee a good deal of anxiety as well. The rest of the Directors decided to assign a “special assistant” to the good Dr. Tesla to keep track of his health, both physical and mental. We were starting to keep an eye on our own! Once again we were behaving like Martians!

TEST FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX

“Kleine Opfer mussen gebracht werden!”

Three weeks after the Brotherhood attack on Lower-New York City we were ready for our first Martian Flying Machine test. 1 July 1907, dawned cool and clear over the flight test range at Bournemouth, England. Committee members on hand to witness the first flight of the re-constructed Martian flying war machine we named the Phoenix, which symbolized our rebirth from the ashes of war, were Gustave Whitehead, Nikola Tesla, just in from Lower-New York City, Admiral Dewey and myself along with a group of Committee engineers. It had taken five and a half years of hard work by Directorates C, D, and E to get to this point, and to say the least there was a lot riding on this first test flight.

Earlier point hover tests had been very successful as were the short runway tests. The vehicle had even been piloted off the runway for a few feet in order to test the controls in “flight.” The longest “short run” had been about two feet off the ground for around 1200 feet down the runway. Today however, Major’s Davis and Wodsworth and a hybrid named H-Phillip Gulliver would take the Martian craft up for a true test of ‘man’ and machine. The question was: Had we done enough to man-rate the machine as well as machine-rate the man? We had learned that simple direct control of the craft had proven to be impossible. That would require mastery of the Martian language, as in full control the craft was normally flown as the pilot “thought” or spoke his movements in Martian as well as in combined manual mode and the machine responded. Advanced Martian “tool use” was directly related to Martian language centers of their rather large brains. To work around this problem a series of cover controls had been overlaid on the Martian controller to allow a human to at least be able to perform simple turns and land in one piece. That was the very simple and direct flight plan and we felt we had mastered the control situation.

The Phoenix had actually been cobbled together mostly using pieces from the three Martian Flying Machines, which had attacked the first Committee meeting in London in 1901. All three had crash landed (their Martian A crews had been “dealt with”), but after being disassembled it was found, with a good deal of work and a bit of luck, one complete craft could be built from these ‘spares.’ When added to several random bits and pieces from several other craft. So as I stood by on that first “launch day” in July there was a good deal of expectation in the air. Everyone was aware Mars opposition was underway at the time and even though an attack was not expected one never knew when Martians were involved so we were on heightened alert. We were ready for a success even though it would be a long time before a production model could be built to go one-on-one with the Martians. Training pilots and reworking the controls would be the key. Before the craft was launched six Committee aircraft took off to “keep a look out for Martians around the test area.”

As I walked around the airfield and spoke to some of the assembled group it was difficult not to be aware of the fact we were making a big step and one which if successful could be used to encourage further recovery. After a few delays to check controls and another to run some cows off the runway the Phoenix test flight was ready to go.

At first the brilliant white machine with the blue and red strip along its side moved slowly down the runway, but it did not take long for the craft to lift its front end towards the few clouds which had formed in an almost effortless rise off the runway as smoothly as any Whitehead flying machine ever had. From the start we could all see the difference – this was raw power displayed in a seemingly effortless movement in the air. There was very little sound from the engines. At best our earthly craft struggled for each foot of altitude and every mile of flight. The Phoenix however, was a true aircraft strong with grace and purpose. It had a truly powerful engine of which we knew so very little. Our back engineering teams had taken it apart – for the most part – but no one really knew how the damn thing actually worked! That was only one of my many concerns. When they put it back together on a test stand and “turned it on” for the first time it came alive and nearly tore a hole in the building where it was bolted to the floor. In fact, it nearly tore itself from the bolts before an engineer was able to rush over and turn the damn thing off! This was raw power and we knew it would probably be years before this technology could be duplicated, if ever. All we could do for now was hold on and take a ride.

With Major Davis controlling the lift and Major Wodsworth in command of speed and direction the machine was soon flying at 1000 feet. Flying in a shallow turn to the left we could see the machine would soon be passing the reviewing stand for a speed run. It was at this point something went wrong. As the pilots came out of the turn the craft executed a double roll maneuver to the left and began to change its course. At once everyone knew something had gone very wrong. This was not part of the flight plan. The crew was in trouble. The Phoenix began to shutter so badly that we could see this from the ground. Suddenly the craft nosed straight up as the crew worked to control their machine. It was thought the pilots were attempting to gain as much altitude as possible so as to allow them enough time to solve the problem.

At 1600 feet the craft entered a small bank of clouds and we all heard a loud bang. (Later rumors would go around that the Phoenix had been shot down, but no one at the test site ever reported seeing any other craft in the area at the time other than our own.) Within five seconds the machine came out of the clouds in a twisting turn towards the ground. A second later the cockpit canopy was torn off either by the aerodynamic forces or possibly released by the crew. Speed at this time was later estimated to be an amazing 500 miles an hour! Increasing the spin the craft pulled up and what appeared to be under control at around 200 feet, but it was too late. The powerful Phoenix slammed into a field next to the runway exploding on contact. Mankind’s’ first flight test of a Martian Flying Machine had ended in a huge fireball. We had attempted to go too far too fast. The craft had simply proven to be impossible for our pilots to fly under any type of control for any length of time. The dynamics of flight were too great too fast to overcome.

The flight had lasted less than 55 seconds, flying for some 5-1/2 miles total distance. Needless to say, there was little left of the craft when ‘rescue’ teams arrived at the crash site. The only human remains found was a 4-1/2 inch long piece of skull from one of the crew members, which was never identified. What was left of the engine would be dug out of the pit some 40 feet deep.

An investigation soon followed, and as I filed through the reports it was clear to me at least, that we did not really know what had gone wrong, but there were clues.

From my notes: “…clearly we are not aware of all aspects required to pilot this very advanced flying machine particularly the translational aspects related to Martian language and the requirement to either master the language or substitute this type of controlling aspect of flight with one which is man-rated before continuing with this flight test program.”

Naturally, some investigations pointed to possible sabotage by the hybrid, but we uncovered no evidence of sabotage. The best two explanations, which were accepted by the Committee, were that control of the craft probably became too complicated due to having to work with controls linked by Martian language. The second possible cause accepted was we had possibly assembled part of the craft incorrectly and we did not fully understand the craft we were asking our people to fly. Simply stated, we had flown too soon in a craft we had not mastered. We were just not ready. We would need to find some better way of controlling the craft using the Martian language.

The ancient Greek scholar Pythagoras had found in his work a relationship between mathematics and harmony. The ancients, when looking towards the planets, would call this orbital harmony the “Music of the Spheres.” We humans needed to learn this harmony of Martian mathematical language and with it the secrets of their flying machines. Clearly we had a very long way to go. Nevertheless, we would continue to test pieces of Martian Flying Machines we had and use any back engineered ideas we had discovered in order to perfect our own aircraft designs pushed as hard as we could. As the years played on we would once again attempt to fly a Martian machine but only when we knew we were ready to fly and not before. We would also continue to discover the workings of the Martian engine which in the end would prove to be very simple yet very elegant in design and use.

Painful as the loss of the Phoenix and her crew had been I could not dwell on the crash. My work for the next five months would focus on revising the classified Directorate Report on the Martian War. The crash only served to remind us all that we were indeed in a fight for our lives.

From my notes: “No matter what we must move forward and fix this damn thing. We NEED this damn thing to work!”

One newspaper reported a general conversation in their column ‘Heard on the Street’. “Everybody talked of flying, everybody repeated over and over again ‘Bound to come,’ and then you know it didn’t come. There was a hitch. They flew—that was all right; they flew in machines heavier than air. But they smashed. Sometimes they smashed the engine, sometimes they smashed the aeronaut, and usually they smashed both. Machines that made flights of three or four miles and came down safely went up the next time to headlong disaster. There seemed no possible trusting to them. The breeze upset them; the eddies near the ground upset them, a passing thought in the mind of the aeronaut upset them. Also they upset—simply.”

When critics stepped forward to criticize the work of the men who were attempting to adapt and fly Martian technology, perhaps too soon, it was none other than Theodore Roosevelt who stepped up to let them know how he felt about their pessimism. I remember seeing him standing on a wooden platform to address the workers in London as he surveyed their efforts progressing to bring back this world city. He spoke of the Bournemouth “event” and how we needed to keep on trying and ignore the critics.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

As he spoke I recalled the words of glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal as he lay on his death bed after he had broken his spine in a glider crash. He told his family, “Kleine Opfer mussen gebracht werden!” (“Small sacrifices must be made.”) We all knew we would be asked to make many more “small sacrifices” both on the ground and in the air before our work was done.

These men in Bournemouth, England, knew he was with them as they cheered his words. With his visit on their minds the Phoenix team went back to work. Their first task was to locate and bring back to their facility all known Martian flight craft. They would eventually locate 18 of the machines in various states of disrepair. And in the end, after many years, they would succeed well beyond their greatest expectations. Only later would we transfer this work to a lonely desert area in the southwestern United States.

With that, most but not all of the critics of the Phoenix project were silenced, at least for a while. The next day Mr. Roosevelt appointed George Washington Goethals to take over Chief Engineer responsibilities for the continuing work on the Panama Canal. John Stevens went back to work at headquarters on other advanced programs mostly to do with underground projects.

One London newspaper man who doubled as a Committee intelligence agent reported a conversation he had with an agitated man who had come to his news office. The man was concerned about what he called the “disappearing inventor” known to be working on the problems related to flight.

 “Well, have you noticed what one might call the remarkable case of the disappearing inventor – the inventor who turns up in a blaze of publicity, fires off a few successful experiments, and vanishes?”

 “Can’t say that I have sir. Please go on.”

“Well I’ave, anyhow. You get anybody come along who does anything striking in this line, and, you bet, he vanishes. Just goes off quietly out of sight. After a bit, you don’t hear anything more of ‘em at all. See? They disappears. Gone – no address. First – oh! it’s an old story now – there was those Wright Brothers out of America. (The Wright brothers had just sold their first aircraft contract to the United States Army.) They glided – they glided miles and miles. Finally they glided off stage. Why, it must be nineteen hundred and six or seven, they vanished! Remember that Whitehead fellow. Where is he? Then there was those people in Ireland – no, I forgot their names. Everybody said they could fly. They went. They ain’t dead that I’ve heard tell; but you can’t say they’re alive. Not a feather of ‘em can you see. Then that chap who flew round Paris and upset in the Seine. De Booley, was it? I forget. That was a grand fly, in spite of the accident; but where’s he got to? The accident didn’t hurt him. Eh? ‘E’s gone to cover. Looks like a secret society got hold of them.”

“Secret society! Naw! Secret society. War Departments; that’s more like it.”

“I tell you, sir, there isn’t a big power in Europe, or Asia, or America, or Africa directly connected to that Committee, that hasn’t got at least one or two flying machines hidden up its sleeve at the present time. Not one. Real big, workable flying machines. And the spying! The spying and maneuvering to find out what the rest have got. I tell you, sir, a foreigner, or, for the matter of that, an unaccredited native, can’t get within four miles of Lydd nowadays—not to mention our little circus at Aldershot, and the experimental camp in Galway. No!”

Needless to say, the interview was not published and the rather agitated man was soon visited by a couple of Committee representatives in dark suits.

We were also working on the Martian ground fighting machines which we had been able to at least move somewhat slowly on the ground even though we were nowhere near ready to put them into production. Naturally, they had the same Martian language problem as the flying craft and before we could use them properly we had to solve the same problem which had caused the crash of the Phoenix. This was going to take a good deal more time than the Committee had originally anticipated. As for the Martian tunneling machines we had yet to put them into proper operation, but we were able to learn enough to begin the design and construction of our own smaller machines we hoped could be put into operation and speed up the underground work in not too many months.

1907 also saw the formal reorganization of the Grand Tribunal Court which had been formed during the early days of the Martial Law period (roughly from 1901 to 1906) following the end of hostilities with the Martians. This year the temporary Tribunal was reorganized into the permanent ‘World Court’ formally known as the International Court of Justice located at The Hague, Netherlands. From this point on any Martian War criminals would be put on trial at the new World Court. The Committee would oversee, but would not interfere, for the most part, with the new Court.

It would not be a surprise I would suspect for anyone to learn that the Magic Twelve, as well as many additional senior members of the Committee, were by secret agreement exempt from any Court action and could at any time override any Court decision. As far as I am aware this has never happened, however, within the Committee it is known at times ‘Magic representatives’ have ‘visited’ the Court to ‘suggest’ various courses of action. That is also not to say Tango forces ended their operations against the Martian Brotherhood, they did not. And they were still executing most of them after they were captured (usually after a short hearing of the facts). Tango operatives were not subject to court overview.

[END PART 17]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[NEXT WEEK: PART 18: CAN LIFE ON MARS CONTINUE AND LUNCH WITH A MARTIAN.]