[PART 19]

THE GREAT TUNGUSKA EVENT

“The sky split in two and fire appeared…”
S. Semenov

I suppose the singular event, which brought the greatest fear into the hearts of those of us who were planning for interplanetary war, other than another war itself, was the Podkamennaya Tunguska River explosion, which occurred in the early morning dawn of 30 June 1908 in central Siberia, Yeniseysk Governorate, Russian Empire, around 500 miles northwest of Lake Baikal (60o55’N, 101o57’E) 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It is a place where Mammoths once roamed and where their bones are still found along the banks of eroded rivers. The fear came from the realization that if the Martians had developed a new weapon of such destructive power no force on Earth could ever defeat them. We would have lost even as the first shots were fired. Therefore, we needed to know if it was an accident of a propulsion system or a weapon of massive power, which had malfunctioned and been set off. It would of course have been nice if it were only a natural event unconnected to the Martians, but alias that was not to be.

Across the vast Gobi Desert in Western China the caravans were once again moving as their drivers looked up to see a fearful fireball tearing across the sky towards Mongolia followed by a roar of thunder. The Martian ship was in trouble, yet all the witnesses could see was the glow from the 5000 degree F. heat as it the craft plunged deeply into the atmosphere. The crew had only seconds remaining and there was nothing else to do but wait for the end.

At zero hours, 13 minutes, 35 seconds GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on 30 June it went off. “It was too bright for the naked eye.” The sub-arctic peat bogs and dense pine forests of the desolate Siberian plateau came alive with a deafening roar so great and so violent that seismographs in St. Petersburg some 2200 miles to the west recorded the event as did seismographs in Jena, Germany, 1040 miles further west. It even registered on seismographs in New Washington Center. Thunderous explosions could be heard more than 500 miles away. When we first learned of the explosion preset plans classified by Directorates C and L immediately went into effect to discount any reports it was anything other than a natural event, albeit an explosive one. A cover story was soon released. A piece of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere seemed the best cover story at the time and even today the history books report this acceptable yet completely false explanation developed by Directorate L.

Astronomer I. S. Astapovich from Russia and British astronomer Fred J. Whipple out of London were recruited to explain that it had been a “celestial missile” of sorts. It had been reported as a comet which had been completely destroyed upon contact with the dense lower atmosphere of Earth. As for the bright atmospheric phenomena, they simply stated a comet is largely water ice and therefore the phenomena was a natural effect of all this water in the high atmosphere, dazzling, but harmless. Newspapers in Europe and America reported on the meteorological phenomena as well as the effects on the magnetic fields of Earth. (We would later regret this false explanation of a comet when Halley’s Comet came flying into view and we had to somehow convince the world there was nothing to be afraid of!) Let me explain what really happened.

Tunguska River aftermath of explosion
Tunguska River aftermath of explosion

At the time the first wireless report came in I had been on an inspection tour of our underground facilities in Western Europe. A coded report was radioed to me to get back to headquarters immediately. There had been “an event” and I was expected to be on the team being assembled to investigate. Because of the efforts by Committee team member Dr. Christian Hulsmeyer and others, led by the eccentric yet brilliant electrical engineer and master inventor Dr. Nikola Tesla, we were able to track the incoming Martian machine with a new device we called radar, which had just recently come, as they became fond of saying, “on line.” This crude device (some were surprised it even worked) bounced radio signals off of metal objects in the sky, and if powerful enough, space, which was then picked up by an antenna, and the results displayed on a circular screen called the “telemobiloscope”; another invention of Hulsmeyer and the Tesla team. With this information in hand we knew this was not a comet or meteoroid fragment. We did not consider the possibility of a metallic meteorite. This was a ship coming to Earth from outer space and Mars was the only real suspect. This was the first time the new device had successfully tracked a Martian Flying Machine. It would not be the last. This information, added to what our intelligence people could deduce from extended observation of Mars gave us some of our first clues the Martians were orbiting the Earth even though we had yet to track them. Confirmation would come later as our radars became stronger and more reliable.

We all knew (within the Committee) the Martians were still sending in so-called “observation platforms” with and without crews. (An unmanned device had malfunctioned and crashed month’s earlier in Canada and had subsequently been taken to Committee laboratories for examination.) Now we could track them (sort of), at least when they entered the atmosphere at certain northern points. This gave us all hope that we would be able to use the new device to place military teams on Earth with a certain amount of speed upon finding their machines in the future. As the Earth crews, which manned one of the six radar machines so far completed, began tracking the Martian craft they could see the machine was not moving in a smooth flight – in fact the machine was zigzagging all over the sky. It seemed to the radar operators the Martian crew had somehow lost control. As the craft reached a point around six miles above the primeval forest at Tunguska the radar screens suddenly lit up with a powerful energy signal. The operators later reported the energy burst melted some of their wires and tubes, exploded others and sent a powerful blast into their ears. Two men went to the hospital with damaged eardrums. The ringing would go on for several days. When a backup unit was finally turned on the Martian craft was nowhere to be seen.

The explosion, which could have easily destroyed even the largest above ground population center on the surface of the Earth, had blown over an estimated 80 million trees in minutes over an area of some 800 square miles! The tall conifers of the cold taiga ignited in a flash and would burn for days. We were very lucky that the event had occurred in one of the most remote regions on Earth. This was, and is, one of the largest explosions ever in Earth’s recorded history (by humans at least) since mankind walked upright. The sound could be heard in some places over 1000 miles away as a strong “clap of thunder” or heavy artillery. Nearby northern nomads were tossed into the air along with their tents. Many of their animals were knocked over. 375 miles away the passengers on a train moving along the newly repaired Trans-Siberian Railway were jostled out of their seats as the train ground to a halt. The engineers had seen the tracks just ahead vibrating violently. Our hearts sank as the data from the damaged area came into the Committee. This could have been a weapon of incredible strength, and in the hands of the Martians, to be sure that was very bad news. (Years later we were able to develop a so-called “atomic weapon” the energy released by our new weapon would top out at a little more than one-one thousandth of the strength of the Tunguska detonation!)

Within days several Committee teams were assembled to get to the area of the blast as soon as possible. Our report was classified Most-Secret CoT and became Committee Case File 1908-H4 Tunguska.

The research team found that at 7:17 a.m. local time local Tungus natives (a Mongolian-type people) who herd reindeer for living and new Russian settlers hunting northwest of Lake Baikal saw “it” coming in. From their vantage point in the hills the men saw what was described as a “column of blue light,” as bright as the Sun “too bright for the eyes” flying across the clear blue sky. Those who could stand the light clearly reported the object changed its direction – at least twice! Approximately ten minutes later these men heard what they thought was artillery fire occurring just after they saw a blinding flash that “covered an enormous part of the sky”. People closer to the event were knocked off their feet by a shock wave, which was later reported to have broken windows on huts hundreds of miles away. The Earth itself had trembled. Within minutes thick black clouds rose to an attitude of nearly 12 miles as the entire area became engulfed in a “black sticky rain.” For hours as the rains came thunder could be heard all around.

Further investigation showed the event was registered on seismic stations across Europe and Asia. These records indicated an energy level of around 6.0 on the Professor Thomas scale of earthquake energy. Strong atmospheric pressure waves were also detected and recorded in England as well as Egypt and the United States. Later review showed that atmospheric shock waves had traveled around the Earth twice! The blast had indeed disturbed the Earth’s electro-magnetic field, which as above had been reported by the press. The explosion had placed so much debris into the atmosphere that for days the night sky glowed from luminous silver clouds enough to read the New London Times by this light in much of Europe and Asia. For weeks these displays continued over much of Europe from as far north as New London to as far south as Spain. High altitude ice partials were eventually given credit for this glow, but what was the source of the water? Later reports would conclude the Martians were, as part of their reconnaissance, still acquiring as much water as they could whenever they came to Earth, bringing back Earth reports and Earth water to their planet. This time Lake Baikal, the body of water that holds the largest volume of fresh water on planet Earth, had apparently been their target for acquiring the water. However, this Martian machine would never return to Mars. It seemed to be attempting to return to Earth for an emergency landing having already acquired the water when events overtook the crew. (Apparently our radars had not picked up the craft upon its first entry for the water or its attempt to lift off into space.) In the meantime, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory as well as the excellent work of the Mount Wilson Observatory both reported an unusual “decrease in atmospheric transparency” for months. This was thought to have been due to the suspended dust ripped from the forest floor and flung high into the atmosphere by the blast.

Testimony from hundreds of witnesses was taken, many with the same view and story. I include below one as a general view, which represents most with an identical flavor from a Tungus trapper named S. Semenov.

At breakfast time I was sitting by the house at Vanavara Trading Post (40 km south), facing north. I suddenly saw that directly to the north, over Onkoul’s Tunguska Road, the sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forest. The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire. At that moment I became so hot that I couldn’t bear it, as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few yards. I lost my senses for a moment, but then my wife ran out and led me to the house. After that such noise came, as if rocks were falling or cannons were firing, the Earth shook, and when I was on the ground, I pressed my head down, fearing rocks would smash it. When the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways, and it damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn a part of the iron lock snapped.

Most of those near enough to the event to see and feel it yet far enough away to survive made similar reports. “The explosion was observed from many points in the form of a vertical fountain rising soon 66,000 feet.” All of these witnesses were told it was an unusual, but very natural event. To be honest these were simple people and they were easy to convince once they learned that “we were official.” No one used the word Martian as we secured the reports from these people. Another member of the team reported, “The fire came by and destroyed the forest, the reindeer and the storehouses. Afterwards, when the Tungus went in search of the herd, they found only charred carcasses. Nothing remained of the storehouses; everything had burned up and melted.” Another Tungus named Vanavara who was 40 miles away stated “A huge fireball covered an enormous part of the sky. There was so much heat that my shirt almost burned off my back. Then an explosion threw me several feet from the porch.”

There were of course other reports some had seen the object “come in.” “…a body shining with a bluish-white light, too bright for the naked eye. It moved downward for about ten minutes. The body was in the form of a pipe (cylindrical). Then a huge cloud of black smoke was formed. A crash as if from gunfire…”

Other investigators, under the guise of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow, entered the remote area within weeks of the event. They had traveled east on the Trans-Siberian railroad making stops in Omsk, Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk. Their final stop would be at Kansk a small outpost and the closest train depot to the explosive site.

All members had been briefed on the true nature of the event and were prepared to do whatever was necessary to not only recover what if any evidence was to be gathered up, but do whatever was required to keep any reports of spacecraft or Martians completely covered up. We did have one piece of luck as the remoteness of the area certainly aided their work. The superstitious Tungus feared the place. Member S. V. Obruchev, a Russian geologist working with the Committee, wrote in his report. “In their eyes the ‘meteorite’ is apparently sacred. They carefully conceal the place where it fell. Many more were afraid to even admit that anything unusual had happened. Some of them have even referred to this event as ‘divine punishment from a vengeful Martian god!’ Some were even willing to report however, that several villages near the site had completely vanished, but only after the event had passed.” We never reported any deaths to the general public connected with this event.

When the teams arrived what we saw was overwhelming destruction on a scale not seen since the First Martian War in such an extended area. It was to say – complete. Bare ground, rocks and splintered trees – that was all. Near the ‘epicenter’ of the event one investigator reported standing in a forest of standing “telegraph poles.” The pine trees had been stripped of bark with all of their limbs blasted off and were as dead as the ones outside of this strange central circle. The “telegraph pole forest” sat in the middle of what they called the ‘Great Peat Marsh Caldron’. This was a sure sign the destructive blast had come from above. “The peat marshes of the region are deformed and the whole place bears evidence of an immense catastrophe. The solid ground heaved outward from the spot like giant waves in water.” Everywhere there was “continuous uniform scorching for miles.” The results of even a cursory examination exceeded all the tales of eyewitnesses and my wildest expectations.

The team soon reported that if this vehicle had gone off in a major populated area no human could have survived for miles (unless they were underground). Even so, none of the Tungus guides who had led the teams to the general area would enter the control zone of destruction. They were convinced that the ‘god of Mars’ had cursed the entire area and it meant certain death to go any further. There was however, no ground impact crater.

Immediately going to work, the teams spread out digging test holes, recovering wood, stone and soil for later examination. In all cases radioactivity was present. This was known even as the teams worked the area indicated by devices they had brought with them. In the samples microscopic magnetic spheres and forged silicate were found, as were other metals of a nature as yet unknown to mankind. The team also found traces of cobalt, nickel, copper, germanium and magnetite. This was conclusive evidence of its extraterrestrial origin and intelligent design – Martian design! The only true item, which could be readily identified as a manufactured device, was a small metallic case of around six inches on all sides found by a tracker some thirty miles from the center of the event. Years later this item would be shown to have been an electric record of the vehicle’s flight, apparently ejected from the craft moments before its destruction. A tracking beacon located within the device seemed to have malfunctioned and it was only luck, which placed the record into human hands. That device is now in the private museum at Committee headquarters in Lower-New York City (internally known as the “Red Museum” or the “Mars Shop”).

Our scientists had discovered the explosion was as powerful as it could have been in such a confined area had the Martian’s developed true atomic weapons and beyond. The blast at Tunguska was estimated at around four million tons (4 mega-tons) of explosive power. It was a truly incredible amount of energy from a single device. Professor Delton Zigel calculated that “…the Tunguska explosion’s temperature was several tens of millions of degrees!” The conclusion was that it had been an atomic or the newly discussed possibility of an “anti-matter” engine, which had exploded with a great deal of force, and speed but the background radiation in and around the area was nowhere near as concentrated as it would have been had this been an atomic weapon going off. As far as our scientists could discover at the time the Martians did not have an atomic weapon, at least not yet, despite the massive explosion.

I wrote, “…and as such efforts need to be made on an immediate basis to put such a project on some type of priority if for no reason other than to demonstrate that such a weapon is not feasible.”

With this in mind it was immediately decided to form a team of scientists led by Dr. Ernest Rutherford to discover whether or not it would be possible to actually build a controllable and thus usable weapon of such massive potential destructive power. With a view towards recent events the project was named “The Tunguska Project”. It would take 2-1/2 years of intense mathematical research before Rutherford and his team could present their preliminary results. It was one more potential project that had begun due to our contact with Martians and their proven potential for destruction on a vast scale.

During the same meeting on the advances being made and projected in physics were summed up by Dr. Minkowski. “The views of space and time have sprung from the soil of experimental physics and therein lays their strength. They are radical. Henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality. The validity without exception of the world postulate [relativity], I like to think, is the true nucleus of an electromagnetic image of the world, which, discovered by Lorentz, and further revealed by Einstein, now lies open in the full light of day to all of humanity.”

It was also during 1908 that William Howard Taft won the American Presidency and H. G. Wells published a book which described what human aerial combat could possibly look like based upon work being done by the Committee. This book, based upon a declassified Committee research program, was published as The War in the Air. It was a huge success as most readers viewed the work as purely fictional. In fact we knew the work was more along the lines of a planning tool for what would become a portion of the upcoming Great Earth War and perhaps beyond. The public was being ‘informed’ of the upcoming dangers even though they did not fully realize it at the time. It was to say the least well constructed propaganda, but would we get the point across that we all had to continue to work together for the good of all?

The development of science had altered the scale of human affairs. By means of rapid mechanical traction it had brought men nearer together, so much nearer socially, economically, physically, that old separations into nations and kingdoms were no longer possible, a newer, wider synthesis was not only needed but imperatively demanded. Just as the once independent dukedoms of France had to fuse into a nation, so now the nations had to adapt themselves to a wider coalescence, they had to keep what was precious and practicable, and concede what was obsolete and dangerous.

Everywhere, all over the world, the historians of the early twentieth century finds the same thing, the flow and rearrangement of human affairs inextricably entangled by the old areas, the old prejudices and a sort of heated irascible stupidity; and everywhere congested nations in inconvenient areas, slopping population and produce into each other, annoying each other with tariffs and every possible commercial vexation, and threatening each other with navies and armies that grew every year more portentous.

This was about the same time (17 September) we lost Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge who had been posted to the Committee’s Aero Study Group from the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps. His work had led him to test flights with the Wright brothers. During one of those tests at Fort Myer, just outside of New Washington Center, the Flyer, piloted by one of the Wrights (Orville as I recall), crashed causing Selfridge to become the first person to die as a passenger of a human constructed powered aero craft. The craft was around 150 feet in the air when the planes propeller cracked and flew off. At that point the ‘flyer’ nosed over into the ground. Lt. Selfridge died later in the day during surgery.

In this same year Henry Ford, now working in New Detroit, having left his original post at the Committee (he would later return to Committee work), rolled out his first production automobile he named the ‘Model T/Tin Lizzie.’ It was an instant success selling as fast as he could build them. (My first one however, kept breaking down!) It would not take long for Ford to develop a production line model that would revolutionize how mass production was accomplished. I read his report with great interest. He stated he was now able to produce a new automobile from his new assembly line every 12 hours dramatically reducing the time and costs of production. He was experimenting with a new method of production. He was placing his parts along the assembly line that would move with the assembled vehicle with one worker performing a single task over and over again. He felt with this new method he could cut the production time to less than two hours! (One car every 93 minutes would eventually come off of his assembly line, but that was a few years away.) He would keep us informed of his progress. I would keep him informed about my car problems.

Mr. Ford stated at the time, “I will build a motor car for the great multitude so low in price that no man will be unable to own one.” In 1900 some 4000 automobiles were produced and sold world-wide. In all of the United States these were only 8000 and many of them had been destroyed or were of little use for hard work. We needed to produce at least twenty-five times that number each year by 1910 in order to fill the demand needed for our continued recovery. Even with that we knew there would be a shortage of automobiles and trucks for some time to come. Several more production lines were soon in operation fully funded by the Committee. Five percent of the sales price would go directly to the Committee general fund. Ford would famously advertise that one could purchase one in “any color you wished as long as it was black.”

Within four years underground electric vehicle production would find its way into Lower-London and Lower-Sydney. With Committee funding Ford was also able to build an underground production facility in New Detroit. It was completely camouflaged, being covered by the rubble of old Detroit with an opening into a new park from a group of covered tunnel entrance points. There was also a side tunnel that connected the New Detroit Tunnel under the Detroit River to Windsor, Canada. Ford could now report that he was employing nearly 3,000 workers at his new facilities.

Construction of the above ground ‘house’ cover structure as children play nearby
Construction of the above ground ‘house’ cover structure as children play nearby

One classified underground facility south of Windsor in the small town of Essex was just now being built next to the water tower. The water tower doubled as the entrance to the small most secret base being set up as one of our emergency communication centers. The ‘water tower’ itself was a well-concealed transmission tower. It could also be operated from a small but comfortable three bedroom house located a few thousand feet west of the tower at 281 Victoria Avenue in Essex. Naturally the small home is only the above ground cover for the four acre underground center. (Entrance code PR68546) The facility could be easily supplied by a rail line conveniently cut through the center of town running only a few yards from the tower.

On 12 September I had the pleasure of being invited to the wedding of my good friend Winston along with J. P. Morgan and George Westinghouse. By now both Morgan and Westinghouse were using private railway cars to travel around the United States for both private and Committee business. We were also celebrating the 145 medals Britain had won during the 1908 Olympic Games that year. It was not so much the medals that the British had won, but the fact that this devastated city could put on such a joyful event even as it continued to rebuild along with most other cities on our still recovering planet.

Begun in 1906 and completed in late 1908 Upper-New York City could now boast the completion of the tallest building in the nation. The Singer Building at 165 Broadway, just down the street from the new city hall was testimony to the rebirth of central Upper-New York City. Times were beginning to boom as new steelworks were now in operation in Pittsburgh and a new Brooklyn Bridge was rising above Manhattan and the East River. A feeling of recovery was certainly in the air. In fact there were so many electric powered trolleys the people in Brooklyn began calling themselves the “Trolley Dodgers.” If I recall correctly it was not too much later that a professional baseball team from the area used that very name. I still plan to be on hand one of these days to view a match.

On 7 October we learned the Wright brothers had made a bit of aviation news with a passenger bearing test flight in France for one hour and four minutes. Naturally we sent our congratulations, and of course no one mentioned the three hour flight that had recently been made in secret by Whitehead at our flight test facility in upper New York State.            

At about this same time a group of ‘young Turks’ gained power in Turkey. They were now faced with transforming a sprawling devastated area into a viable nation.

OVER MARTIAN SKIES

On 23 March 1909, the Martians returned to the skies over East Anglia Peterborough near Cambridge, England, with many more over flights to come during the “Great Airship Scare”. The first still dark early morning fly over was reported by police constable John Kettle, and witnessed by dozens of people. Attention was first drawn to a noise high in the sky described as a “steady buzz of a high-powered engine.” Looking around the witnesses soon spotted “a powerful light which appeared to be coming from around 1,200 feet above the ground.” The constable would later write that the craft had a “dark body, appeared to be oblong and narrow in shape, outlined against the stars. It was traveling at a tremendous pace, and as I watched, the rattle of the engines gradually grew fainter.”

The object was very large that the constable said that it “blotted out the stars.” He continued to see the object dimly until it disappeared towards the northwest. It was not long before Constable Kettle was telling his story to the local paper which was soon picked up by the Daily Mail of New London. The story was even verified by a second officer who had by that time come forward to substantiate the account given by Kettle.

Only six weeks later several airships were seen over East Anglia. The press in New London went wild with speculation about possible new Martian attacks on the way. The New London Evening News and the Daily Express led the way sending several reporters to the area to interview witnesses. Most had seen large cigar-shaped objects with a series of powerful lights attached. No Heat-Rays were reported.

The Committee quickly decided we had to nip this in the bud as fast as we could. Panic we did not need. We soon had a spokesman for that Peterborough Police stating it was nothing more than a large kite on which a prankster had tied a Chinese lantern. The noise of an engine heard by Constable Kettle was put forward as being a motor left on all night by a local bakery shop with the dense air intensifying the sound and echoed off of high clouds. It did not make sense, but it did help to confuse the situation.

Over the next few weeks hundreds of such reports began coming into our headquarters in Lower-London and Lower-New York City. There was also increased activity in the southern hemisphere. Almost all of these reports came from witnesses spotting the objects at night, invariably described as “a cigar-shaped craft with a brilliant light beaming towards the ground.” CAIG investigators were undoubtedly being kept very busy. The Martians certainly were in more than one area of northern Europe, including as far north as Belfast, Northern Ireland. These sightings were soon put down to zeppelin reports said to be of a new secret German airship being designed in the far north of Germany. When asked for a comment on the Great Airship Scare, Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin remarked, “I don’t believe in ghosts.” Unfortunately the New London Weekly Dispatch seemed to agree these were not ghosts however, they also reported that they could not be German zeppelins as they had “flown far too fast, too high, and far too long in the air.”

In the valley of Hessdalen located in northern Norway residents were reporting flyovers of strange lights night after night for weeks across this remote location. Flashes of white followed by blue lights were seen in the air. Along with the lights came loud booms “banging like thunder” along the flight path of the blue lights. These “thunder” echoed across the valley floor and could be heard for miles. After these displays yellow or yellow-white lights were reported on the valley floor as if someone or something was signaling these aerial lights. After “contact” groups of these yellow or yellow-white lights were said to travel from the valley to the local mountains, moving as one. In all some 173 such Hessdalen sightings were recorded during a six week period, however, with no operational aerial craft available to investigate these sightings all we could do was keep track of these reports and attempt to discover any changes in the area or check on any missing persons. This time at least it seemed that no one was reported missing even though several reindeer herds were no longer moving across the valley of Hessdalen in Norway. This would of course affect the local economy that greatly depended upon the herds.

One particularly interesting report came from the small town of Flatwoods, West Virginia. A group of teenagers had been exploring a nearby wooded area just south of town of 300. Over a small hill crest the teenagers could see a small light on the ground and began to investigate. As they came closer they could smell a “foul sickening gas” which sent the seven youngsters into a panic. However, it was when a “ten-foot, red-faced mechanical monster” appeared the group “ran for their lives.” When asked for a description of the creature one of the teenagers stated the creature “looked worse than Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Investigators were able to locate the site and were able to recover burned plant-life, some of which had been covered by a gray/brown sticky material with a very foul smell. One female in the group wondered if perhaps they had seen a modern version of a biblical “watcher’ or “Nephilim” said to have been of giant size. She was particularly concerned with reports of these Nephilim “interbreeding with human females!”

At the same time across the south west United States mostly from Nevada and New Mexico came reports of several massive (one mile wide) aerial craft in V-formations flying silently at very high speed. Forty of these craft were sighted at various times. These same (or similar) vehicles were also being seen in southern England, France, Belgium, western Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Brazil.

For weeks reports of smaller craft of “Martian description” were reported throughout South America and South-Eastern Pacific. These reports coincided with missing person’s reports in South America along with four missing cargo ships and their crews! In New Zealand for six weeks beginning in late July centered on the town of Otago, silent moving lights and several “solid bodies” were seen in the sky many of which were being reported as “mysterious airships”. Several were seen over both North and South Islands as hundreds reported “cigar-shaped airships” in both daylight and at night. At least two dozen local residents in small enclaves near Otago had gone missing! These ‘scare ships’ were becoming a real problem.

It seemed that the Martians, at least we had no reason at the time to believe these craft came from any other off world species, were still keeping a very close eye on our recovery efforts as well as acquiring people and livestock and as much water as they could obtain. They were also doing their level best to keep people on edge not knowing if an attack could occur at any time. It was damned effective propaganda and it kept us busy keeping track of them even as we assured the public the situation was well in hand. This was when we began releasing reports that these unexplained lights at least were nothing more than our people testing new aircraft that were at times based upon Martian technology. The other reports were answered with stories that nothing unusual was occurring or that we had the situation being looked into. For those who filed reports to the authorities an explanation was worthless, but most people took our explanations to heart and believed every word. I only wished I could believe those tall tales!

Naturally, our military forces were put on alert expecting some type of attack could occur at any time or for that matter any place. As the days turned into weeks it was clear these craft were indeed on reconnaissance and supply missions as were many of the ones before, nevertheless, the Martians were apparently not yet prepared to engage Earth’s still weakened military forces at the time. We were also able to calculate despite the hundreds of sightings as few as ten craft were responsible for all of these new reports, at least the ones over northern Europe. We did confirm however, in the general vicinity of some of these sightings small groups of people were reported to be missing so it was also clear the Martians were still taking people at random around the world. At the time we could do nothing to stop them. Naturally, we kept that information from becoming general public knowledge.

1909 also brought to our attention a rather unique problem. It seemed we would need to somehow deal with a new face on the world stage – a Martian ambassador! This sort of thing we really did not need. But, it was a problem we would need to solve and solve quickly.

THE MARTIAN ‘AMBASSADOR’

He came from a small village in Southern India and he called himself the Martian Ambassador. His real name was Biraja Muhaddith. Said to have been “a simple farmer” before he “made contact with the Martians.” When we first read the initial reports of this “humble man of the Martians” we all thought it was some kind of a bad joke. Surely no one in his right mind would take anything this obvious fraud was saying for the truth. So with not so much as a second look we went off to lunch. We were wrong. (Wrong, in the sense that anyone would pay attention to this obvious fraud as they were all not in their right minds that did. As it turned out there were quite a few “not in their right minds in and around India.”) It did not take long for thousands of uneducated people in India to take in his story as the truth and with that the story soon began sweeping across Asia with thousands attaching themselves onto what this uneducated man was preaching.

In a world where most regions were still deeply injured by the First Martian War and generally expected to still be recovering for a long time to come, it was probably simple human nature to want to hang on to a belief that all was well and our interplanetary enemies no longer sought our planet or our people. In this the Martian Ambassador had struck a raw nerve. His tale was simple and easy to fall into as what he was saying had a tiny grain of truth to be found even as none really existed. After all, he did have a shinny “magic stone” or two from which he reported receiving instructions from Mars only he could hear! Naturally he made certain to show everyone the stone that appears to the educated eye to be nothing more than your average piece of volcanic glass. He also showed everyone his Martian rock, which upon close examination was nothing more than a small reddish meteorite. Said (by his followers) to have “magic powers when the two stones are brought together”. He would put them in his simple hat, look inside and “recover messages from Mars.” The absolutely strange part of his Martian rock story came to light years later when our planetary experts took a second, and I may say, a third look at his rock. Amazingly, the dark red meteorite turned out to actually have been a rock from Mars! How he got it and why he thought it was from Mars in the first place we shall never know. Did he have contact?

He told all who would listen that he had been taken from his humble village during the First Martian War and tossed into the metal catch basket known to have been part of the Martian fighting machines. This was a perfectly believable part of his story. He told of surviving the fall into the basket and being in mental contact with his Martian captives. With this connection on a level “no man has known before or after” his Martian captures soon realized his “special gift” and as such did not suck the life out of him. (This was much the usual Martian/human interaction during and after the war.) Rather, they took him as an “equal” to their Earth Base at the North Pole. (How he guessed they were at the pole seems to be the only mystery other than it being nothing more than a good guess.) From there a spacecraft took him “back” to Mars to “learn the ways of the Martian and their peaceful intentions for Earth kind.” Having now acquired the “ancient knowledge of the Martian” (he always used the singular “Martian” rather than the plural “Martians” seemingly referring to the head Martian without actually saying as much) he was sent back to Earth in what he called a “mother ship” to become the Martian Ambassador. And with that he began his mission on Earth that he now called “Squaria, from the Martian”.

The only problem was – well, as a matter of fact there were many problems with his telling of the story. The major problem was he does not seem to have left his small Indian village during the period he states he was on Mars. This proved to be no problem for the Martian Ambassador as he simply explained to his many loyal followers, growing larger each day, the Martians had substituted a surrogate to take his place on Earth while he attended his duties on Mars. With that he was soon off on a tour of India gathering up believers and as much money, free food and lodging as he could obtain. He was also able to obtain and pay for a rather well armed staff, not to mention a few “ladies in waiting.”

The Committee soon had investigators in the area to see how much potential damage this fraud would be able to do. Or could we perhaps use this individual in some way? The real question was going to be: Do we let him continue on or do we end his fraud once and for all and if so – how? The first thing to do was to interview the “Ambassador” and find out what was really on his mind. It turned out there was not much on his mind other than money, fame and of course women. Only much later was he “expecting to become leader of the world.”

After the ‘Ambassador’ was interviewed it was decided the only way to ‘remove’ him (and we did quickly decide to remove him) was to prove beyond a shadow of any doubt he was the fraud we knew him to be. (We discussed the possibility of simple paying him off, but with the money flowing into his private accounts this did not seem to be a viable option. Placing a well-aimed bullet into his brain was not an option since we did not need a martyr on our hands.) Too many uneducated people were hanging on his every word and he could become a very loose cannon at critical points in the future. That future problem came to a head when he announced the return of the Martians would come in full force on 15 January 1910. No – this we did not need. Therefore it was decided by Directorate L that the only way to expose this fraud to his hundreds of thousands of followers was to produce the ‘real’ Martian Ambassador. Naturally, we did not have one of these readily available at the time so we had to create one of our own. And strange as it would seem we had just the man working in our Lower-New York City office ready to take on the role.

We chose a man, a hybrid, who already most resembled a Martian B, to put this little show on the road. He was the same height as an average Martian B, taller than most humans, and by the time we cut off all of his hair, dyed his skin a very healthy blue/gray and dressed him in the official coveralls of a Martian B complete with gold sash (a pure creation of our staff) none of the Committee members who worked on this little project could tell the difference between our ‘ambassador’ and any other tall Gray fellow from Mars. It really was a very good job especially since our man could actually speak a hundred or so real words in Martian (barely). That was something the “other ambassador” simply could not do. It was a big plus for us.

Our efforts were unexpectedly aided by the large number of unidentified aerial craft reports being filed all around India and the rest of that part of the world in the weeks before we arrived. One thing was clear. The Martians were keeping close track of what was going on in India. The question was: Would they somehow interfere with our little show directly or would the Brotherhood step in and attack? We would need to move in this area with great caution.

With the aid of the reconstructed Indian government the Committee ‘ambassador’ flew into the capital of New Deli still very much in ruin under cover of tight security and was greeted by the Indian leader. From there our man was taken by special train for a meeting with the Indian fraud in Bombay. Naturally the large crowd of official Indian government people who went along with him were all part of the show. There, before a huge crowd at Bombay, our ‘ambassador’ stepped up to the podium with the appropriate Martian musical accompaniment and using a newly developed speaker system called upon the fraud to show his documents from Mars! Our ‘ambassador’ had of course a rather nice set of finely crafted documents all nicely written in Martian, or a reasonable facsimile, English, Hindu and several other Earth languages. The pure gold trim gave them a very nice official touch. With a booming voice the Committee’s ‘ambassador’ explained what part of Mars he had come from, and why he was here. He told them that the “government on Mars was very concerned the people of Earth were listening to an individual who did not represent their “primary” government. He then went on to describe exactly the type of ordinary rocks held by the fraud and what they actually were. He also warned the now restless crowd, it was very dangerous to listen to frauds as they only work for themselves, not the people of Earth or for that matter the beings on Mars.

With that the Indian fraud ran up to the ‘real’ ambassador, took out a knife, which had been hidden in his colorful robe, and attempted to stab our man to death. What he did not notice were the electric pads that had been placed around our hybrid so as he moved forward he stepped on one of them, closed an electric circuit, which give him the shock of his life. Tossed in the air as our man waved a hand it appeared the fraud had been dealt with quite handily by the ‘real’ ambassador! Game over.

Our ‘ambassador’ then simply and very calmly turned back towards the astonished crowd and quietly told the assembled mass he expected that the trusted people of Indian, who were now his friends and the friends of all peace loving Martians, would know what to do with this fraud on the ground behind him. Within minutes of our departure the now conscious man was quite literally torn to pieces by a very agitated crowd. His remains were then fed to animals. (Pigs if memory serves.)

Such was the fate of the ‘Martian Ambassador’ from a small village in India. As for our stand-in – it would take months for the dye to work its way out of his skin and of course for his hair to grow back. In the meantime, he spent a pleasant few months performing his regular duties in a fully furnished apartment inside Lower-New York City Committee Headquarters having retired from his post as the ‘real’ Martian Ambassador! He does however, have a very nice (color) photo of himself as the Martian Ambassador on his office wall. On his office desk one may find one of the two ‘magic stones’ that had been held by the original ‘Martian Ambassador’ who had come so far from a small village in India.

One week after we returned from India we read the news that the Wright Brothers had made their first public-invited powered flight in Ohio. The newspapers took note as I wondered what Mr. Whitehead would think of all the hoopla. I did not have the heart to ask and he certainly said nothing to me about the reports as he continued the work on his Committee supported Whitehead flyers. The brothers themselves would soon be working on other projects for the Committee unrelated to the study of flight. As for myself, I was preparing to record any information our polar team would send to headquarters from the high ice of the North Pole.

Wright Brothers test flight
Wright Brothers test flight

[END PART 19]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[NEXT WEEK: PART 20: EGYPT, MARS AND THE ARCTIC.]

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