[PART 21-(A)]

THE ROCKET MEN

Tesla and Tsiolkovsky had decided to use alcohol and liquid oxygen to power the team’s first test rockets. Later, when the technology and supplies became available, liquid kerosene or liquid hydrogen would be used as a much more powerful fuel for delivering rockets and payloads eventually into space. Whatever the eventual outcome, we all realized Earth could not afford to have a second-rate space program; not when we faced planet hopping enemies just around the corner. Testing could now begin to develop the methods and the means by which man would push into space. For now it was time to put small rockets on wheeled vehicles to test the propulsion capabilities of their first work. These tests would not only provide data on liquid fueled rockets, but would include work on solid rockets as well. All aspects of this work would be looked at very carefully in regards to rocket tests and applications to high powered aircraft. The ‘solids’ would come first.

On 15 March 1910 the team was ready for its first test of a rocket powered car. The modified Ford, now called the RAK 1, was parked on the roadway outside of New York City along a quite stretch by the woods. For the most part very few vehicles came that way even though in the years to come it would become a major transportation corridor. Today however, it would play host to a small group of experimenters and one brand new “rocket car”. Later, we would test such rockets at our new Surry, England facility.

As we stood by Dr. Tsiolkovsky chatted with the few newspaper men we had allowed to view the test. “Since the earliest days man has looked towards the heavens and wondered what it might be like to step on another world. It is perhaps man’s destiny to accomplish such feats now that we have been forced to learn as much as we can to eventually accomplish such goals. Man will not stay on Earth forever, but in the pursuit of light and space will first emerge timidly from the bounds of the atmosphere and then advance until he has conquered the whole of circumsolar space, including Mars.  First, however, we must develop the means by which we are able to go higher and faster in Earth’s atmosphere in order to then push into Earth orbit for the defense of our planet. These first tentative steps are to be experienced today. And as we gain knowledge we will gain strength and confidence in this very new field, at least new as far as humans are concerned. Others have gone before us so we know the answers are to be found.”

One of the reporters wanted to know how such a rocket could work in a vacuum having been told such was not the case.

“For that we thank Mr. Newton who was kind enough to discover that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ It was after all his third law of motion. Just as a child’s balloon would move through the atmosphere as the pressurized air within is allowed to escape through the open neck, so the expelled gases from a rocket engine pushes against the body of the rocket; this ‘thrust’ allows the rocket to move in the opposite direction that the rear nozzle of the rocket points. One does not need an atmosphere for this reaction, in fact without an atmosphere the rocket performs with even greater ability.”

The test was a simple one. Get the vehicle up to its top speed of 25 miles per hour and then light the rocket. At the given signal the driver set off and at the designated point he lit the rocket which sent the now rattling RAK 1 to a top speed of 47 miles per hour. Just as the solid rocket began to sputter and lose its thrust the right front tire was ripped off and sent flying. It was only with a good deal of effort the test vehicle did not flip over on its side as it very nearly did. The test however, was a success and a second test was scheduled for the next month.

This time the team used a different Ford built car that had been heavily re-enforced. There were also two extra wheels that had been bolted on both sides on steel bars set away from the main body of the vehicle to help prevent rollovers. Because this test was expected to reach much higher speeds it was felt to be necessary as were the new hard rubber tires. These were thought to be much tougher than the ones used in the previous test.

On 1 May after a few delays, we were ready for the next test. The new RAK 2 was rolled onto the same “test strip” and set to go. This time we would test several solid rockets, 24 to be exact, at the same time. The test began as the driver came to 25 miles per hour and fired off the first set of six solid rockets. With black smoke pouring from the back of the RAK 2 we could see the acceleration. Within seconds the second, third and forth series of rockets were ignited. As the final set were fired the back end of the vehicle caught on fire that caused our driver to push on the breaks as hard as he could. By the time he was able to slow the vehicle down to a point where he could jump out he had suffered first and second degree burns on his back, neck and arms. He would recover, but the RAK 2 was a total loss. Nevertheless, we had reached an impressive 143 miles per hour under solid rocket power. It would soon be time to push into the air.

Early 1910 found Committee members assembled on the deck of the United States cruiser USS Congress for the first demonstration of an aircraft being launched from a ship. This was something the Martians had not done during the war. On this day the primitive aircraft carrier was born. A wooden deck had been built over the old cruiser for the test. It was completely successful. After the flight it was decided to design and build a series of carriers to be deployed as part of our battle fleets in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Approval and funding would soon put these ships and craft on the high seas ready to protect the sea lanes. We knew these first few “carriers” would be test-beds of a new technology and we would be building newer and better ships later. However, we needed to start somewhere and so we began the work.

It was during this demonstration that the new coal mining figures had been reported to the Committee from the United States. Committee and American groups in the United States were mining five hundred million tons of anthracite and bituminous coal per year which was reportedly less than one percent of known reserves in the United States. There would be no shortages of coal to keep the recovery going well into the next century.

On 15 March 1910, Roberto DeLaCruz published his book My Days Among the Martians. The book, soon to be a best seller, told the firsthand account of DeLaCruz’s days during the First Martian War when he was captured by one of the Martian machines, tossed into one of their steel nets and carried off as a food source. (Not unlike the fictional story told by the so-called ‘Martian Ambassador’.) The most often quoted section of his book is the story he tells of “sneezing into the face of the Martian.” He is convinced his sneeze was the reason why that particular Martian and possibly many others were soon quite dead! Reviewers were soon calling DeLaCruz “Robert the Martian Slayer”. With his popularity secured DeLaCruz was soon on a lecture tour discussing his days with the Martians and how Robert became the Martian Slayer. For many years it would be standing room only at any of his lectures on things Martian and other rather humorous events in his long and eventful life. And as time went on the stories just seemed to get better and better.

This was also the time we first heard Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 that made its premiere in Munich, Germany. The concert in a recovering Munich was conducted by Mahler himself. It would not be long before his work was popularly known as the “Symphony of a Thousand”.

Late that same year Alfred North Whitehead (no relation to one of our Directors) and Bertrand Russell published their three volume Principia Mathematica et Martian. Their work helped link mathematics understood on Earth to Martian mathematics and logic, which would eventually be instrumental in solving one of the critical questions related to the control of Martian flying and walking machines through their very complicated language. The Tesla team now had one more key to understanding how these machines worked. Naturally several copies of this work were sent to the language teams at Crosswick Estate where Whitehead and Russell gave several briefings to the teams. In attendance was my friend Winston Churchill. After they become unofficial (read that as unpaid) consultants to the language group. Recognized by the Committee the men shared that year’s Committee Gold Medal for Scientific Achievement at a dinner held in Lower-London and shared the $10,000 prize. As always neither man could discuss exactly why they had been given the award.

THE 1910 FLYBY OF HALLEY’S COMET

As Halley’s Comet began to make its close approach to the Sun and Earth the Committee re-issued Wells’s book In the Days of the Comet. Even with this re-issue we knew we had a lot of work to do as this cometary pass was going to be close and possibly quite spectacular and we had to convince people none of it would impact the Earth. We had covered up the 1908 Tunguska event with a tall tale about comets. It had been very successful, but that little story was about to come back and bite us on the ass if we could not convince the public there was nothing to fear about this cometary return. It was going to be a very hard sell! Panic was already sweeping much of the world.

Newspapers around the world were soon bringing people up to date on the history of Comet Halley. The comet had been recorded first by the Chinese perhaps as early as 1057 B.C.E. with its return every 75-76 years recorded since 240 B.C.E. In 87 B.C.E. 14-year-old Julius Caesar saw its return. However, perhaps its most infamous return to Earth’s view came in 1066 A.D. when it graced the skies over Europe as William the Conqueror invaded England. It was also visible during the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1456 as well as during the destruction of the Inca Empire in 1531 by Pizarro. Needless to say, the comet was not linked to many positive aspects of human history even though it had absolutely nothing to do with mankind’s failures or successes. It did not help to learn of a re-issue of French writer Camille de Flammarion’s science fiction work La Fin du Monde originally published in 1893. His tale of a wayward comet on a collision course with Earth brought thoughts of more horrors from outer space to many new readers.

Perhaps the most ridicules historic response to Comet Halley fear came in 1456 when Pope Calixtus III ‘excommunicated’ the comet! That type of pure fear and manipulation, as well as the total misunderstanding of what a comet is was something we hoped to avoid if it was at all possible. However, more than a few people worldwide viewed the appearance of any comet as bringing the deaths of kings as well as a whole group of other calamities to mankind. Reminding these people of all the calamities mankind has gone through, including the Martian invasion, without any comets in the night skies did not seem to have made any headway in elevating the irrational fear of the comet.  One troubling cartoon even depicted what looked like a fleet of Martians riding next to the comet preparing to re-invade the Earth. The best we could do was to inform the people as much as possible and hope for the best.

Halley’s Comet
Halley’s Comet

Due to extensive calculations the comet was recovered photographically on 11 September 1909, when it was a mere spec on a photographic plate estimated to be some 310 million miles from the Sun. Its close approach to Earth would occur after its perihelion on 20 May 1910 at only a few million miles in space. Our scientists calculated that at the time it was moving at an incredible 157,838 miles per hour! This however, would not be the comet’s closest known historic approach. In 837 A.D. the comet came within 3-1/2 million miles of Earth as the tail covered nearly half of the night sky – some 140 degrees! It must have been terrifying to those who dared to look up. It did not help that Edmond Halley, the astronomer who predicted the comets’ return, speculated that a comet had possibly impacted the Caspian Sea thousands of years ago creating the mythical flood in the bible. Needless to say, churches were doing a very brisk business. Halley had calculated and collected a number of cometary orbital data. Three of these cometary orbits from 1531, 1607 and 1682 were amazingly similar causing him to speculate they were in fact the same object returning to the vicinity of the Sun on a rather regular basis around 75 or 76 years.

As we continued to track the comet and publish reports stating we had nothing to fear, astronomers announced the Earth would actually pass through the debris of the comet’s tail. This was not helpful. The press went wild with speculation and ridiculous headlines. “Human Race Due for Free Gaseous Bath,” “Comet Comes and Husband Reforms,” “Victim Climbs Tree; Tries to Phone Comet.” There were even reports the Martians would use the comet as a weapon against the Earth and that the gases would soon kill millions. (Truth be told the Martians were working on just such a plan but not with this particular comet (Ref: Martian Electric Document 372ZZ4). Naturally we never published that report.) “Martians Control Cometary Destiny”. When a small insignificant amount of cyanogen gas was detected people were purchasing gas masks (which we did not discourage as they could be useful during a real Martian Black Smoke attack) as well as comet insurance, and anti-comet pills! Astronomers were asked to not mention that the meteor shower in early May, the Eta Aquariids and the late October Orionids are debris from Comet Halley that the Earth passes through twice a year. Halley did not live to see the comet’s return in 1758. A year later French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille named the comet in his honor.

On the lighter side a group of New Yorkers were soon meeting at the newly renovated Kickerbocker Hotel for meetings of the “Comet Club.” There was also to be comet coffee, comet soaps, and comet mattresses and of course the world famous comet wines. These efforts found great support amongst Committee members. Trying to keep a good humor on events led famous author Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) to remark that, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” He would die on 21 April 1910, aged 75, one day after the comet reached its perihelion! The great writer of fiction and humor would now be forever linked to the great 1910 flyby of Halley’s Comet. Dr. Tesla had lost a good friend.

After its pass one newspaper reporter had written that “the only person on Earth to have been effected by the comet of 1910 was Mark Twain and he had made his reservation years before any Martian decided to invade the planet.” When this story was re-published around the world it had the effect of calming a good many nervous people who simply took the whole event as a wonderful cosmic show with no more significance than that. After all, nothing had happened! Nevertheless, we were all quite happy this particular comet only appeared in our skies once every 75 or 76 years. That was enough excitement for a while even though it had been an amazing sight to see. Next close perihelion pass will be on 9 February 1986. I could not help wondering if it would be greeted by humans or Martians during its next close encounter with the Sun and Earth?

Even as Halley’s Comet was making itself known we on Earth were preparing to send a team to the Southern Geographic Pole – one of the coldest places on Earth and an ideal spot to hunt for Martians!

THE SOUTH POLE EXPEDITION

On 3 June 1910 Roald Amundsen and his crew left Oslo onboard the Ice Breaker Fram (Forward) on their way to Antarctica. The voyage south was for the most part uneventful however, there were several sightings of unidentified flying “lights in the skies” noted in the logs. Most of these sightings had occurred during the first half of the voyage, before crossing the equator. They seemed to diminish in regularity as they approached the equator. The team arrived at the “Great Ice Barrier” later named the Ross Ice Shelf, which advances from the Bay of Whales inlet on 14 January 1911. On the ice Amundsen built his Antarctic base camp and named it “Franheim.” Amundsen signaled a weak directed radio message that he had arrived on the ice. …./.-/.-/-.-/—/-.,  ../…,  -.-./—/.-../-.. (Haakon is cold)

After a few days of difficult work all of the equipment was removed from the Fram and a proper base camp was ready to supply the team making ready for the long walk to the South Pole. Amundsen, working in the same manner as Peary, had trained with the Netsilik Eskimos of the north and had learned to wear Eskimo-style animal skin clothing rather than the bulky and quite heavy wool used by earlier explorers. His next job would be to create a series of small supply depots at 80o, 81o, 82o, 83o, 84o and 85o south on a direct line to the South Pole. At the supply depot at 80o south Amundsen recorded that the team had deposited “12 cases of dog pemmican, about 30 kilos of seal steaks and 50 kilos of fat together with a 20pk of chocolate. In addition, 1 box of margarine and two boxes of sledging biscuits.” The main pre-polar plateau food depot was set up on 17 November at 85o-20’ south.

During his briefing at our headquarters in Lower-London Amundsen had been asked to survey as much of the new territory as he could along his route to the south. Peary had done some survey work but it had nearly cost him the pole not to mention the risks of longer exposure to the ice of the great north. After much discussion it was decided this much time and energy needed to survey would not only greatly slow his progress, but could in fact cause the team to run out of supplies before they could finish the work. With this in mind the survey work was quickly abandoned. Nevertheless, Amundsen did keep a detailed log of not only what he and his men saw, but of strange radio signals he began to pick up even before the team “landed” on the Great Ice Barrier. Amundsen also informed the Committee he intended to kill many of his dogs along the way in order to supply his team with fresh meat. This caused some heated discussion, but no one doubted that Amundsen knew what he was doing. The bottom line was he and his crew were risking their lives for this expedition not us, so he would be making the calls. That ended the discussions on dogs! With that in mind I was thankful I was not going along on the trip even though I had indeed tasted dog a few desperate years earlier.

The team’s first attempt to make it to the pole had begun on 8 September 1911, with Amundsen, Hjalmar Johansen, Kristian Prestrud, Jorgen Stubberud, and polar veteran Nova Terra. However, due to extreme wind conditions and very low temperatures (even Nova Terra was uncomfortable) the attempt had to be abandoned and the group returned to Camp Framheim.

Log – September 12 – Tuesday. Not much visibility. Nasty breeze from S.-52o C. The dogs clearly affected by the cold. The men, stiff in their frozen clothes, more or less satisfied after a night in the frost… prospect of milder weather doubtful.

Amundsen had begun too early and it had cost him valuable dogs and team members with frost bite needing a month to heal. After only four days from his main camp he had to return. In his log he wrote that he had to …hurry back to wait for the spring. To risk men and animals by continuing stubbornly once we have set off, is something I couldn’t consider. If we are to win the game, the pieces must be moved properly; a false move and everything could be lost.

Hialman Johansen, one of the most experienced polar explorers in the world had a different view of the retreat. “I don’t call it an expedition. It’s panic.”

A second attempt at the South Pole began on 19 October as temperatures began to warm up a bit and winds went below 15 miles per hour. It was 830 miles to the South Pole. This team would consist of Amundsen, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hussel, Oscar Wisting and Nova Terra. The team would use four specially built sledges and 52 dogs. Moving south along a route near the Axel Heiberg Glacier, newly named by the team, they arrived at the formidable Polar Plateau. It would take four days of hard climbing pulling up sleds, dogs and other equipment – not to mention themselves – to reach the top of the plateau. It was 21 November and the temperature showed a brisk –55o. It was cold, but with only a slight wind, it was very survivable. The log listed it as a good day for Martians.

Almost immediately upon reaching the plateau the team began to pick up a weak but steady radio pulse strongest in the general direction of the South Pole. In fact, when equipment and snow was piled up around the receiver, allowing the team to ascertain the general direction of the signal, they soon discovered the signal was coming, so far as they could discover, exactly from the direction of the Geographic South Pole. They would be able to follow the pulse signal all the way south that caused a rather interesting debate amongst the explorers. The signal was real, even though it was rather weak. Were there any Martians ready to do battle at the end of that signal and did they know humans were on the ice to take a look? The team pressed on keeping a very close eye on things both on the ice and in the crisp clear air.

Although it was certainly not a scientifically proper assessment, Nova informed her team members she was not picking up any feelings of Martians in the area as she had in 1909 at the North Pole with Peary. The team took her feelings into account, but kept their eyes open just in case.

From the top of the plateau the team moved with good speed as the dog teams made very good time on the firm smooth ice. Only a few times were they required to pull the sleds over ice rubble on the trek south. For the most part the dogs did the work.

Today we have had a lot of loose snow although it doesn’t affect our dogs.

On 14 December 1911, in the middle of Antarctic “summer”, the six person team was very close to the objective when Helmer Hanssen in the led sled suddenly raised his hand and halted the team. He signaled for everyone to drop the ice and waved to Amundsen to come forward. He had seen something of great interest. By the time Amundsen made it to his side Hanssen had taken out his rifle!

“What is it Helmer?”

“Roald, take a look to the right. Do you see what I see?”

“If you are seeing a snow covered Martian Flying Machine I am. I don’t see any movement.”

“Neither do I, but that beast must be parked just about on top of the pole. Roald, I don’t see any other machines in the area. Do you suppose there are any others about?”

“I certainly hope not. Alright, let’s go see.”

The team discovered what appeared to be an intact Martian Flying Machine partly embedded in the ice of Antarctica. Amundsen waved to the rest of the team members to come forward, but to keep low to the snow. By then the team had taken out their rifles as Amundsen scanned the horizon for any live Martians. No movement could be seen. Checking the sky showed no activity of any kind. Hussel and Wisting volunteered to go around the side of the craft to recon the situation.

“All right. But everyone go slowly. If they are in there they probably know we are here. There’s no reason to take any undo chances. Keep your weapons handy. Olav, if the Martians come out to play be prepared to radio our discovery immediately. No waiting. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

It did not take long for the two men to work their way around and as Amundsen kept careful watch with his binoculars the men made their way to the half buried craft. Before long one of the men was standing on top of the craft waving for the rest of the team to come on over.

It turned out the Martian Flying Machine had indeed been damaged, probably as it attempted to land. The impact had been enough to break the atmospheric seal on the craft allowing Earth’s atmosphere, and bacteria into the stricken craft. Inside, the team found five dead Martian As and four dead Martian Bs. The Martian Bs seemed to have all been used as food for the Martian As, at least for the two As who seemed to have survived the crash only to die at some time later probably from Earth’s bacteria which had taken most of their Martian cousins during the war. There was no indication as to how long the craft had been there. For all they knew it could have been stranded there for many years before the First Martian War. No matter, they did discover that the craft was still generating electrical power and was at least partly operational.

The team would spend three days at the pole recovering from their trek across the ice and photographing the entire area. As it turned out only two of the photos taken at the pole failed to show the Martian craft or Martian technology therefore those two photos were the only ones released to the general public. It is still generally thought only two photos were taken by the team at the pole.

Committee South Polar exploration team
Committee South Polar exploration team

The team did not find any evidence other Martian machines or for that matter, other Martians had ever been at that location. This seemed a bit strange considering the amount of activity known to have occurred in the southern hemisphere. There we no tracking devices found on the site. Our final Committee report would clearly indicate we were missing something, and something could very well be a Martian outpost located at another remote location on the Antarctic continent. If there was such an outpost the odds of us locating it in that vast desert of snow and ice were very long indeed, after all the area is larger than Europe!

In his log Amundsen named his polar site Camp Polheim (Home on the Pole) and re-named that area of the Polar Plateau the King Haakon VII’s Plateau.

As the South Pole team prepared to leave they made certain to leave no trace of their visit. The tent they had put up, seen in one of the two released photos, was taken down and packed up. Nothing to indicate that humans had been to that site was left behind. If the Martians did show up the Committee did not want to tip their hand that humans had actually made it all the way to the South Pole. The released photos would indicate we had in fact succeeded and announced to the world, but any Martian going to the South Pole would see an undisturbed location. It was hoped they would then believe humans had faked the trip and they were still the only ones who had walked on Earth’s most southern geographic point. We wanted to confuse them into not accepting all human reports they heard on radio. (Deception – always deception.)

The team returned to Camp Framheim on 25 January 1912 with only 11 surviving dogs. On 7 March 1912, Amundsen and his team arrived at Hobart, Australia, and his success at the pole was announced to the world. Amundsen would report, “I may say that this is the greatest factor – the way in which the expedition is equipped – the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order. – luck people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time: this is called bad luck.” We knew the Martians would be listening in, we did not know they had recently focused in on Milan, Italy.

A DIRECTOR ASSASSINATED

To much of the world Dr. Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli was an Italian astronomer primarily interested in the study of the solar system and the discoverer of the asteroid Hesperia in 1861. He also discovered faint markings on the surface of Mercury. However, his most famous work involved his reports on the canal systems across the face of Mars. He was in fact an international expert on Mars having discovered 100 of the famous canals. He was also one of twelve men who controlled the destiny of Earth as Director K of the Executive Committee of Twelve. Naturally, no one outside of the Committee was aware of that fact. At least that was what we believed at the time.

On 4 July 1910, Dr. Schiaparelli was visiting Milan, Italy, with a group from the Committee. No mention of any Committee connection had been made of course. He was preparing to give a lecture on Mars at the University of Milan detailing the new equatorial data on Mars (3963 miles) when he was run down by a fast moving vehicle as he crossed a busy intersection. His guards immediately opened fire on the car just before it struck the Director, but it was too late to save his life. He was hit square on and he was clearly the target as the vehicle had changed its course in order to hit the Director. Continuing to fire the vehicle was hit dozens of times before bursting into flames and exploding only yards from where it had killed the Director.

Because of his unexpected death Schiaparelli’s last lecture was given by one of his staff. A copy of a technical portion of the lecture was printed and is now on display in the hallway leading to his old offices. In part it read,

Mars is now known to have a density of 3.96 relative to water (1). The velocity required to keep an object in orbit about Mars is calculated to be 2.2 miles per second. The speed a craft would need to reach to leave Mars orbit, that is to say escape velocity, is 3.1 miles per second.

The mean distance now calculated for Mars from the Sun is 141.3 million miles. Its perihelion is 128.445 million miles and its aphelion is 154.885 million miles. The closest distance between the Earth and Mars varies from 62 to 34 million miles. The closest approach of these two solar worlds occurs every 15 to 17 years. If one were to explore Mars one would need to reset one’s watch to a day lasting 24 hours 39 minutes and 35 seconds (Earth time). The explorer could expect to encounter a world with 60% of its surface covered by dusty red deserts much drier than any on Earth.

As to the moons of Mars, Deimos orbits the red planet at a mean distance of 14,580 miles at 30 hours 18 minutes, while Phobos (possibly not a natural satellite) orbits at a mean distance of 5,826 miles taking 7 hours 39 minutes to complete one full orbit. There are some detectable variations in Phobo’s orbit that bear further investigation.

The Committee was immediately informed of the incident and a new Director was sworn in. A letter sent to the Committee made it clear the Martian Brotherhood had been responsible for the Director’s death, but it was unclear at the time as to whether or not he was killed because he had been a Director or for the fact he was a recognized expert on Mars and their canals. It did not take long for Tango teams to flood the area in a detailed search for the killers. Before long they were hot on the trail of the assassins. The world at large would only come to learn the incident had only been a tragic accident and nothing more. After an extensive investigation the Committee concluded he had been killed due to his groundbreaking work on Mars and not because of his position on the Magic Twelve. The Brotherhood had not infiltrated the Committee and was still in the dark as to who actually directed the organization. Nevertheless, Magic Twelve guards were increased in number and their “off-office” appointments were generally curtailed at least while the hunt was on. It was difficult for all of us, but security needs had to come first. After all, we were at war!

To add to the confusion of those planning possible future attempts the Committee began a search for individuals who could pose as Directors and perhaps misdirect any other planned attacks on the real Magic Twelve. This would later be formalized as “Operation Ghost Rider.” At headquarters they were referred to as “the Mysterious Twelve”. The success of this operation may be seen in the fact that although there would be three more assassination attempts on high ranking members of the Committee in the years to come none were ever successful against a sitting Director. (Two of the Mysterious Twelve were indeed killed in the line of duty before the Second Martian War.) During our next meeting the Mars War Room at headquarters was re-named the “Schiaparelli Mars Planning Office” most however still used the original name.

[END PART 21(A)]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[NEXT WEEK: PART 21(B)]