The Martians: Committee Field Notebook Number Two
THE WAR CLOUDS OF EARTH
Chapter Four – 1911-1914
Clouds of War in a Time of Peace
Chapter Five – 1915-1920
The Great Earth War and the ‘Spanish’ Flu
CLOUDS OF WAR IN A TIME OF PEACE
“The broadening of men’s views that has resulted can scarcely be exaggerated.Before the [Martian] cylinders fell there was a general persuasion that through all the deep of space no life existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere.”
H. G. Wells
The hybrid siege of Sidney Street – The Tunguska bomb project – Mars Watch Reports – ‘I remember’ the Martian war – The discovery and ‘mystery’ of Machu Picchu – The ‘rock’ from Mars – Just a shadow – A meeting of the nations – The eruption of Mount Katmai – Our first flying rocket tests – Massive forest fires – Francis Ferdinand assassinated – Lower-London – Tango in Somaliland – News from the Egyptian team – The search for the great Earth caves – The bloody war in Europe begins.
Industrial capability was definitely on the rise as the world’s population began to slowly rebound after the War, but there was much work to be done. There was no real ‘normality’ in many places where populations were much lower than before the war as yet, but people around the world could now see a time in their own futures when the Earth would once again become a place humanity could call home. Nations and individuals were now able to plan for peace while they were recovering as hard as they were planning for a possible next war. Nevertheless, interplanetary war plans were still the top priority of the Committee even as some members were looking inwards perhaps a bit closer than off world rivals. This was a time of relative peace, but the dark clouds of a purely human war were beginning to gather over a Europe still struggling to regain a firm footing on our home world. It was also a time when members of the Martian Brotherhood were once again on the move in London as well as several other cities around the world.
The Hybrid Siege of Sidney Street
It would become known as the ‘Battle of Stepney.’ Already on the run for a series of violent robberies a small group of hybrid Brotherhood members decided to rob a jewelers’ shop at 119 Houndsditch in Upper-London on 16 December 1910. The result would be the death of several police officers and an eventual street battle on Sidney Street in the East End of Upper-London. The hybrids had gathered at empty bombed out houses at 9, 10 and 11 Exchange Buildings in order to tunnel into the jewelry shop. However, it turned out they made too much noise and as such a local shopkeeper became aware of the hammering. It did not take long for three sergeants and six constables to be on scene for what was thought at first to be a simple burglary. It was much more than that.
It was a rather simple approach as Sergeants Bryant and Bently walked up to the front door of number 11 and knocked. Brotherhood leader, H-George Gardstein opened the door, but did not say anything. The officers wrongly assumed he did not understand English and motioned to a man in the background on the stairs to come to the door. However, before they could say another word shots began to ring out from inside the building as Bryant and Bently found themselves in a tight crossfire. Both men were hit several times. Bently collapsed at the door while Bryant somehow managed to stagger outside. Reacting instantly to the gunfire Sergeant Tucker and Police Constable Woodhams rushed to Bryant’s aid. More rounds fired from inside the dark building killed Tucker before he could get to Bryant as Constable Woodhams, himself wounded twice, made it to Bryant and under constant fire dragged him out of the line of fire before a third bullet sent him to the ground.
Seeing they were trapped the six hybrids attempted to shoot their way out, however, as Gardstein came out the door, still firing, Police Constable Choate, unarmed, tackled the Brotherhood leader of this small group of terrorists and took him to the ground. Choate, a decorated veteran of the Martian War, was not about to let this hybrid killer escape. During the struggle, as other police officers moved in to cover the exits, Choate was wounded by the hybrid several more times. Choate would still not give up the fight. Desperate to save their leader two more hybrids broke for the front door to escape and shot Choate five more times! They also accidentally shot their leader several times as well. Gardstein was then dragged away as the hybrids continued to fire on several constables who have given chase hitting Constable Strongman who had gotten very close to them. He would soon die of his wounds, as would Gardstein the next day. Police Constable Choate was later posthumously awarded the Committee Medal of Honor.
The hunt was now on for the killer hybrids as Scotland Yard took the led tracking down the hybrids that had killed four of their own. Needless to say, the Committee pulled out all resources to help the ‘Yard’ in any way we could, including assigning some 200 men to the all out search.
The Press would headline, “KILLER HYBRIDS IN LONDON.” “Hybrids have been a serious social problem in Europe for the past ten years since more than a few of them adopted the policy of haphazard terror and assassination to ‘destabilize human society.’ No respite from their activities can be predicated until they have stirred some cataclysmic upheaval in Europe.”
Within weeks several dozen hybrids had been picked up and were now “cooling their heels” behind bars at Scotland Yard. None of them were found to be members of the Brotherhood, but they were in fact all common criminals. The ‘Yard’ would deal with them. Tango operatives ‘interviewed’ each of them and concluded they had nothing to do with the murderous attack on the police so no request for transfer to a Tango ‘hotel’ was forthcoming. Tango wanted the murderous Brotherhood members, not simply any hybrid even if they were common criminals. Eventually, they found them. On 1 January 1911 the Brotherhood killers from Houndsditch had been tracked to 100 Sidney Street, Stepney. This was confirmed by Tango operatives who were now keeping a very close watch on the building.
During a classified meeting held in Lower-London, Scotland Yard senior officers met with Tango senior staff to work out the details of the raid on Sidney Street. Because all of London were watching events with keen interest it was thought best for Tango security to not openly involve Tango personnel in this job. There was no tracking to be done so the job would remain outside of the Committee, at least for the time being. The senior Tango officer simply said, “You cannot afford to fail. Whatever resources you need from this organization you will get.”
Expecting a fierce firefight Scotland Yard, backed up by a 200-man infantry team, sealed off the entire block and evacuated connecting streets under cover of darkness. By 2 a.m. no one could get in or out of Sidney Street. What the police and infantry personnel did not know was that two long-range Tango sniper teams had taken up positions overlooking the street and 100 Sidney Street with instructions to kill any Brotherhood members they could put in the cross hairs of their weapons as soon as the shooting started. Four additional Tango sniper teams were positioned (two each) at both ends of the street. Their assignment was to “take out any hybrids who may attempt to shoot their way into Sidney Street and attempt a rescue of the Brotherhood members.” In other words their job was to protect the police and infantry from any unexpected outside attacks.
Once again in typical British fashion Inspector Frederick Wensley followed by Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson, both unarmed, knocked on the front door of 100 Sidney Street. The answer came in the form of a volley of pistol shots through the door that wounded Leeson. Under cover of a series of rifle shots Inspector Wensley dragged Leeson to safety. The siege of Sidney Street was now full on! A tremendous volume of fire was soon coming from the building as if dozens of Brotherhood members were inside and very ready to do battle.
As the battle began a call went out for reinforcements. A call also went out to the Home Secretary, which happened to be my friend Winston, who was soon “on scene directing the traffic.” Puffing a rather large cigar he ordered the Scots Guards sharpshooters who had just arrived to take up positions on the top floors of nearby buildings (Tango snipers were on the roofs) across the street. It seemed that the hybrids, now well aware they were completely surrounded, were firing at just about any direction one cared to mention. It was at this point an event occurred which shocked just about everyone who was on hand for this mini-war.
Not withstanding the small war going on all about him a rather intrepid postman, looking, I must say, very British, continued making his rounds which certainly included mail delivery to several nearby houses on Sidney Street. As he made his way slowly along the ‘war zone’ the shooting just seemed to stop. No one could quiet believe what they were seeing. His code, it would seem, read ‘neither wind, nor rain, nor dark of night, nor terrorists bullets will stay his rounds.’ Hybrids or not the British mails were going to be delivered – and by George that was that!
After the deliveries were made the ‘war’ began once again in earnest as a storm of rounds now forced the hybrids to vacate the upper floors of the building. Churchill now recommended that artillery be brought up to simply level the place right on top of the hybrids, but before his recommendation could be carried out flames began to issue from the top floors. All of the ammunition that had been expended on the site had ignited something flammable inside. Before long, most of the building was engulfed in flames.
Three of the hybrids, including one that had caught on fire, attempted to escape out of a side window even as flames could also be seen behind them. Not one of them made it out as all three fell back inside to sniper fire delivered by members of Tango from their oversight positions. Two of the as yet uninjured hybrids now attempted to make it to the backyard, but they were cut down within a few steps by a well-aimed volley of fire delivered by Police Constables who were covering that side of the building. These were the last hybrids to make it out of the building. After the fire, eighteen hybrid bodies were found inside; all had been burned. Most of them also showed several gunshot wounds and three had very nice clean holes in their foreheads – delivered one may expect by the fine work of Tango.
After the siege my friend Winston made his way to his Committee office where he was met by a very agitated Charles Masterman, his personal secretary. “Winston, what have you been up to?” To which a rather sheepish Churchill reported, “Now Charles, don’t be cross; it was such fun!”
A later report, which could not be fully explained by Scotland Yard and of which involvement was certainly denied by Tango Headquarters, was the fact that four hybrid bodies had been found after the fight had ended well outside of the north end of Sidney Street. All four had rather large holes in the fronts of their heads. It seems that while they were on their way to help their fellow Brotherhood members they had all been killed by snipers. Tango of course had no comment. It was left to Winston to “remind the Yard” that if these hybrids had made their way to the battle they could very well have made quite a mess. The official investigation was dropped after a few well-placed phone calls by the Committee. Winston had taken care of the details.
The Tunguska Bomb Project
“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”
On 1 February 1911, after 19 months of intensive research by 80 scientists and energy specialists, the Magic Twelve held their first formal meeting to discuss the Tunguska ‘Bomb’ Project. Invited to the Most-Secret CoT meeting were Herbert Wells, who would write the classified history of these and other events, Ernest Rutherford, there to present his team’s new calculations, Dr. Albert Einstein to present some of his new theories about atomic power and energy levels, Pierre and Maria Curie on radiation, George Westinghouse on production methods required for such a project, as well as Dr. Walter Hohmann and Dr. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky both advising on the possibility of deployment of such weapons by rockets. (Director D, Dr. Tesla, was scheduled to be part of the meeting, but he had been unexpectedly called away on a personal matter. He was of course briefed at a later date.) Even by Committee standards that were always high, the security at this meeting in Lower-New York City’s Committee Headquarters was phenomenal. For security reasons none of the Directorate ‘Princes’ were present. They would be briefed at a later date. Everyone was double checked, as were all packages, briefcases and luggage.
At the meeting back engineering research reports were presented which showed the distinct possibility that although the Martians did not yet possess such a powerful weapon (that we knew of) using so called “radioactive fuels” it was very possible they were working on such a project. We already knew Martian scout ships possessed nuclear powered engines (one of course had exploded over Tunguska which removed any lingering doubts), which could easily out-fly anything on Earth. They were also able to propel their spacecraft all the way to Earth and back to Mars quite readily. Knowing their great intelligence it was not too great a leap of faith to believe a so-called Martian “atom bomb” would not be far off. We suspected the only reason they had yet to develop one was their possible lack of resources to refine a large amount of uranium and lack of manpower (so to speak) to develop and build the weapons. They also had other very powerful weapons, so perhaps an “atom bomb” was thought to be unnecessary for now.
Dr. Einstein would remind the group, “Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors… Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.”
The great French physicist Pierre Curie along with his wife Maria Sklodowska-Curie had discovered in 1898 that pitchblende, an ore of uranium, emitted large amounts of radioactivity. They named the source radium. It was thought at the time large amounts of energy could be extracted from the ore even to the point of a very large explosion. It would take Mr. Einstein to fill in some of the details.
Marie Curie would report to the group, “…one point which appears today to be definitely settled is a view of atomic structure of electricity, which goes to conform and complete the idea that we have long held regarding the atomic structure of matter, which constitutes the basis of chemical theories.”
Her general non-technical report was later published in the newly restarted Scientific American magazine now reporting on post-Martian War discoveries.
“At the same time that the existence of electric atoms, indivisible by our present means of research, appears to be established with certainty, the important properties of these atoms are also shown. The atoms of negative electricity which we call electrons are found to exist in a free state, independent of all material atoms, and not having any properties in common with them. In this state they posses certain dimensions in space, and are endowed with a certain inertia, which has suggested the idea of attributing to them a corresponding mass.”
“A new property of matter has been discovered which has received the name of radioactivity. Radioactivity is the property which the atoms of certain substances possess of shooting off particles, some of which have a mass comparable to that of the atoms themselves, while the others are the electrons. This property, which uranium and thorium possess in a slight degree, has led to the discovery of a new chemical element radium, whose radioactivity is very great.”
A Committee gold medal would soon be on the way.
In 1905 Dr. Einstein had shown with his three-page paper on the Special Theory of Relativity (The actual name of his paper was Zur Elektrodynamik Bewegter Korper or On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies) among other things, that a very large amount of energy was indeed present in a very small amount of dense matter (E=mc2). Needless to say, Mr. Einstein was no longer working as a clerk for the Committee. At the meeting he reported, “Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.”
The key to the Tunguska Project theory had been found, but there was a great deal of work ahead to actually produce such a weapon. We knew it would probably take years to develop and a great deal of industrial effort, but we really had no choice. Naturally much of this work would be done underground. Security levels on this project had to be as high as we could make it. However, even with what limited information we had at the time it soon became clear that this method – if successful – could never approach the energy levels demonstrated in 1908 at Tunguska. There must therefore be other methods we have yet to dream of! Only the gods know what the Martians dream of – if in fact they dream at all. (It sounded like another book for Dr. Freud to work on.)
Recently Rutherford’s work had shown that a great deal of an atom’s mass is situated in a very small central nucleus, which, is and of itself, surrounded by a “shield” of electrons whirring about yet locked into certain levels of energy (orbits of sorts). He would tell us at the meeting that, “I was brought up to look at the atom as a nice hard fellow, red or gray in color, according to taste.” We were now learning that things were just a bit more complicated than that. Complexity upon complexity would be the new rule of science.
Dr. Rutherford would quote from James Maxwell’s 1873 paper on “unworn atom.” “Though in the course of ages catastrophes have occurred and may yet occur in the heavens, though ancient systems may be dissolved and new systems evolved out of their ruins, the molecules [atoms] out of which these systems [i.e. Earth, etc] are built – the foundation stones of the material universe – remain unbroken and unworn. They continue this day as they were created – perfect in number and measure and weight…”
The theory to be explored, in order to release such prodigious amounts of energy for the purpose of a new super bomb, was to discover whether or not a powerful blast of partials could be used to “split up the atoms”, which was theorized to be able to release vast amounts of partials and power (E=mc2) by this atomic splitting. This continuous series of events, if it could be sustained, was soon referred to as a “chain reaction” as it was thought the release of one elementary partial would impact others setting off a cascading chain of events, which would reach explosive speed in a tiny fraction of a second. At least that was the theory. For the moment we had to take their word for it. This was mainly because very few people on the planet actually understood the theory and even fewer thought it might even work. Many of course held out no hope of ever developing a super weapon as it was soon called. Even Rutherford had problems accepting the possibility of such vast amounts of energy from such a tiny source, especially in a bomb. Even with the hope he told us that, “The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.” That put a real damper on the proposal, but we continued on. As for myself, I just took notes and kept my fingers crossed.
This was the work to be set upon by some of the best scientific minds on the planet. However, from this point on only the Magic Twelve, a few top Committee members and no greater than 145 scientists knew the Tunguska Project was a massive super bomb project. Even among this group the bomb was referred to only as ‘the gadget.’ (Altogether some 26,000 individuals would work on the project, most not knowing what the actual project was all about.) All reports and data released to the general public as well as uninformed world governments by Directory L referred to the Tunguska Project as “a Committee program under the name “Project Starlight” developed to produce usable electric energy using vast amounts of solar radiation and new metals.” However, in order to show some progress with the cover story it was necessary to actually do real work on the solar energy project, which surprisingly enough showed real results!
A few years later the Tunguska Project would split off into two separate programs as more and more discoveries showed that solar energy technology, while not nearly as efficient or clean as nuclear or oil based methods, was still a potentially viable energy producing technology when used as a backup method for short periods of time. We still needed to find ways to best dispose of the waste products left over when solar panels and batteries were produced (lead, acids, gases, metals, etc). Of course always-dependable coal still remained the primary energy source for most of industry and home use. Worldwide we had plenty of reliable coal, oil and natural gas so we were not going to run out any time soon. (Estimates ran as high as 400 years worth in North America alone.) The only shortages we could project would be man-made, more than likely to be caused by local or regional conflicts.
Reporting to the newspapers as part of the propaganda program to mislead the Press, Dr. Tesla, after he returned to headquarters, would be quoted as reporting, “…harnessed the rays of the Sun and will compel them to operate machinery and give light and heat. This invention is still in the experimental stage, but he declares that there is not a possibility of its failure. He has discovered a method of producing steam from the rays of the Sun.” “We can illuminate the sky and deprive the ocean of its terrors. We can draw unlimited quantities of water from the ocean for irrigation. We can fertilize the soil and draw energy from the Sun!”
In this same year American physicist Victor Hess was able to detect radiation coming to the Earth from outer space. Before long his discovery would be called cosmic rays. It was one more proof that mankind continued to progress and make discoveries despite the destructive events brought to the Earth by enemy aliens. We on Earth were still determined to move forward. We were also still determined to keep as much of the work as secret as possible. The Committee as usual had no problem using lethal force and ‘absolute power’ when required.
MAGIC – MOST SECRET CoT
Magic Order MO-63
Immediate: The Tunguska Project is to be given the highest of priorities, and highest secrets’ protection. Lethal force is authorized to protect any aspect of this project. Any individual revealing the true nature of the project without specific permission by Magic Twelve will be held indefinitely, and if not required for work on the project will be terminated forthwith by order of Magic. Deniability required at all levels.
MAGIC ONE-NEW YORK
MAGIC – MOST SECRET CoT
Mars Watch Reports
In keeping with a ‘generally’ open Committee policy related to many areas, every once in a while Mars Watch Program team members would release statements to the press which more often than not would lead to headline reports in the popular newspapers of the day. Naturally when a member of the team as well known and respected at Dr. Lowell sent along a telegram on his observations, headlines became long column stories, which generated a good deal of readership. One such “news” story appeared in the popular press on 27 August 1911. The story attracted a good deal of interest as well as concern. This would be one of the last reports on Mars issued by Dr. Lowell.
The New York Times – 27 August 1911
MARTIANS BUILD TWO IMMENSE CANALS IN TWO YEARS
Vast Engineering Works Accomplished in an Incredibly Short Time
by Our Planetary Neighbors.
ACCORDING to a telegram dated Aug. 17, from Flagstaff Observatory, Arizona, Dr. Percival Lowell announces the rediscovery of two new canals of Mars, which were seen for the first time at the last opposition in 1909. The canals are now very conspicuous and attracting world-wide attention because of their startling significance.
Measurement of their dimensions shows each of them to be a thousand miles long and some twenty miles wide. In comparison, the canyon of the Colorado River would be a secondary affair. What has been the cause of these vast chasms, which have suddenly opened on Mars, where the internal forces are far less than could possibly be the case with our planet? Nothing like it has ever been seen or heard of before. To witness the coming into existence on another world of a surface feature in what we know to be no airy cloud-built fabric, but the solidest of ground, is in its character an even so far of unique occurrence.
That these vast chasms have been caused by some internal disturbance is out of the question, for shattering of the sort would certainly have left its mark in yawning, cavernous abysses – such as we see on our planet in regions where volcanic disturbances have taken place. In the case of the new canals recently observed on Mars, such widespread, shattering effects are altogether absent, and as Dr. Lowell expresses it: “The outcome is purely local, and of most orderly self-restraint at that. An enormous change in the planet’s features has taken place, with no concomitant disruption beyond the bounds it set. The whole thing is wonderfully clear-cut.”
That the new canals were not a mere illusion or vagary of the imagination is proven by the fact that they are again visible, but they are as great a problem now as they were when first seen in 1909. Canals a thousand miles long and twenty miles wide are simply beyond our comprehension. Even we are aware of the fact that, owing to the mass of the planet being a little less than less than one-ninth of the Earth’s mass, a rock which here weighs one hundred pounds would, there only weigh thirty-eight pounds, engineering operations being in consequence less arduous than here, yet we can scarcely imagine the inhabitants of Mars capable of accomplishing this Herculean task within the short interval of two years.
Examining the Flagstaff records for the past sixteen years, during which Mars has been kept under observation, no record has been found of these canals. We are sure that seasonal changes cannot explain them, and that eleven years ago, no such canals existed, nor before their discovery in 1909. In Martian chronology, they not only did not exist in their present state during the previous Martian year, but also not four, five and six Martian years before that. It is also certain that they were not in existence thirty and thirty-two years ago, inasmuch as Schiaparelli (the Milanese astronomer who first detected the canals of Mars) never saw them.
The observer can never be quite sure that his data are comparable until he has himself seen the Martian disk under like conditions, or nearly such, which recurrent presentations require a lapse of fifteen to seventeen years. Furthermore, to be conclusive, the observations must all have been made by the same observer working under like conditions, and grown in consequence, familiar with every detail of the disk, since the personal equation including by that term the site, instrumental methods and equipment, is always a factor.
A Martian cycle, that is a round of about sixteen years, must have been through by the same observer before definitive judgment can be pronounced. Such a cycle now stands complete at Flagstaff, and they prove conclusively by the records that although Mars has been observed four times previously at the same season of the Martian year at which these two new canals appeared, no such canals then existed.
They were first detected on Sept. 30, 1909, when the region known as the Syrtis Major came around again into view after its periodic hiding of six weeks, due to the unequal rotation periods of the Earth and Mars. Two canals were at once evident to the east of the Syrtis in places where no canals had been previously seen.
Not only was their appearance unprecedented, but the canals themselves were the most conspicuous ones on that part of the disk. With the two main canals were associated several smaller ones, and at least two oases, all previously unseen, while from their interconnection they all clearly made part of one and the same addition to the general canal system.
Many independent drawings of the phenomena were made, both by the Director, Percival Lowell, and his assistant, Mr. E. C. Slipher, and in the course of the next few days the canals were photographed, appearing on the plates as the most marked features on that part of the planet. The record books were then examined, when it appeared that not a trace of them was to be found in the drawings of May, June, July or August when this part of the planet was most carefully observed and drawn. That they had not been observed in previous years was then conclusively ascertained by examination of the records of those years.
The record of canals seen at Flagstaff is registered at the Lowell Observatory after each opposition or near approach of the planet, when it is well placed for observation. From these records a fresh map, including all new details observed, is made of the planet’s surface. These maps are, therefore, of the greatest value in enabling us to trace any peculiarities or changes on Mars, and they keep us in touch with any alterations, which may be taking place on that planet. What new revelations are in store for us, at the present opposition, we know not, but of one fact we are certain, and that is the untiring energy and boundless enthusiasm of Dr. Lowell and his able assistants at the Lowell Observatory will make it simply impossible for any detail of the slightest significance on Mars to escape their vigilance.
Only later would we discover the “new canals” were in fact very old ones being cleaned out and probably repaired for possible future use by the Martians. Much of what had been exposed on the surface had been covered by dust from the many storms that cross the Martian landscape. We would come to understand that the Martians were long past being able to build new canals, at least on Mars. They did not have the ‘people’ or the machines in working order to do the work (Ref: Martian Electric Document 104F41). And even if they did it turned out they were much more concerned with rebuilding their massive invasion fleet than constructing new canals. If they were creatures that gambled one could say they were putting most of their chips on Earth with only a few side bets on Mars.
Editor’s Note: Most canal work on Mars Prime at that time was being completed sub-surface which was never discovered by Earth based observations – Earth based observation lacked the power to detect the subtle surface indications of sub-surface canal structures.
Internal to the Committee we were reading some of the new information on the Martian water situation developed by the Mars Watch Program and Professor Alfred Russell Wallace. We needed to get a handle on Martian water resources since they seemed well determined to acquire as much as possible from Earth. It was truly a weak link in their survival plans. It was also something we may yet be able to exploit.
The water-vapor of our atmosphere is derived from the enormous area of our seas, oceans, lakes, and rivers, as well as from the evaporation from heated lands and tropical forests of much of the moisture produced by frequent and abundant rains. All of these sources of supply (other than small intermittent lakes in low lying areas) are admittedly absent from Mars, which has no permanent bodies of water (seasonal only), very little rain, and tropical regions, which are almost entirely, desert.
The melting of the caps on the one hand and their reforming on the other affirming the presence of water-vapor in the Martian atmosphere, of whatever else that air consists.
It would be from Dr. William H. Pickering we would read more about the possible growing of vegetation along the canal routes as noted by Professor Serviss. Only later would we be able to verify this method of food production. Low food production must have also been of great concern to the Martians. At the time we knew nothing of their underground food production.
[Dr. Pickering] further supposes that water and carbon-dioxide issue from the interior into these fissures [along the canals], and, in conjunction with sunlight, promote the growth of vegetation. Owing to the very rare atmosphere, the vapors, he thinks, would not ascend but would roll down the outside of the craterlets and along the borders of the canals, thus irrigating the immediate vicinity and serving to promote the growth of some form of vegetation which renders the canals and oases visible.
In another internal Committee report on Mars originally written by the late Dr. Lowell, Professor Serviss would quote,
In Mars we have before us the spectacle of a world relatively well on in years, a world much older than the Earth. To so much about his age Mars bears witness on his face. He shows unmistakable signs of being old. Advancing planetary years have left their mark legible there. His continents are all smoothed down; his oceans have all dried up… Mars being thus old himself, we know that evolution on his surface must be similarly advanced.
A short half-page note of historical interest was passed around headquarters about this time on the ‘god’ of Mars. It was interesting of course, but the note held rather little new information about our enemies on Mars.
Under Roman Emperor Augustus the worship of Mars gained new importance. Mars had been the traditional operator and guardian of wars for the Romans, but now as Mars ‘Ultor’ the god became the personal guardian of the Roman Emperor. Roman records do indicate that the ‘god’ did indeed set foot upon the site of city of Rome in that time. Was this an earlier visit by a Martian, perhaps a B, to Rome? By 250 A.D. Mars became the most prominent of the Roman gods.
As the tenth anniversary of the Martian War approached many books and pamphlets began to appear mostly in Europe and the United States. (By the gods, I must say I could not believe that the time had passed so quickly.) Expectedly, many of them were, to say the least, inaccurate or simply downright lies about deeds and events that had reportedly occurred during the war. With this in mind the Committee asked ‘Prince’ H. G. Wells and his staff to put out a new series of their own pamphlets describing some of the events they had witnessed during their time spent in and around Old London during the war. This would become part of an ongoing program to keep the public focused on the enemies we had on Mars. The series did not have his name on them or the names of the other participating authors as they were simply published as I Remember: Thoughts from a Witness to the Martian War. They were a great success as many were copied and sent on to others to read. Originals have now become collectors’ items. Very few were ever autographed by Mr. Wells (of course mine was) or for that matter the many other authors who had participated in the program. “For many years my adult life [was] haunted by the fading memories of those early war fantasies.”
Thoughts from a Witness to the Martian War
THE MARTIANS WORE NO CLOTHING. Their conceptions of ornament and decorum were necessarily different from ours; and not only were they evidently much less sensible of changes of temperature than we are, but changes of pressure do not seem to have affected their health at all seriously. Yet though they wore no clothing, it was in the other artificial additions to their bodily resources that their great superiority over man laid. We men, with our bicycles and road-skates, our Lilienthal soaring-machines, our guns and sticks and so forth, are just in the beginning of the evolution that the Martians have worked out. They have become practically mere brains, wearing different bodies according to their needs just as men wear suits of clothes and take a bicycle in a hurry or an umbrella in the wet.
And of their appliances, perhaps nothing is more wonderful to a man than the curious fact that what is the dominant feature of almost all human devices in mechanism is absent—the wheel is absent; among all the things they brought to Earth there is no trace or suggestion of their use of wheels. One would have at least expected it in locomotion. And in this connection it is curious to remark that even on this Earth Nature has never hit upon the wheel, or has preferred other expedients to its development. And not only did the Martians either not know of (which is incredible), or abstain from, the wheel, but in their apparatus singularly little use is made of the fixed pivot or relatively fixed pivot, with circular motions thereabout confined to one plane.
Almost all the joints of the machinery present a complicated system of sliding parts moving over small but beautifully curved friction bearings. And while upon this matter of detail, it is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature of the disks in an elastic sheath; these disks become polarized and drawn closely and powerfully together when traversed by a current of electricity. In this way the curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking and disturbing to the human beholder, was attained. Such quasi-muscles abounded in the crablike handling-machine which, on my first peeping out of the slit, I watched unpacking the cylinder. It seemed infinitely more alive than the actual Martians lying beyond it in the sunset light, panting, stirring ineffectual tentacles, and moving feebly after their vast journey across space.
When I looked again, the busy handling-machine had already put together several of the pieces of apparatus it had taken out of the cylinder into a shape having an unmistakable likeness to its own; and down on the left a busy little digging mechanism had come into view, emitting jets of green vapor and working its way round the pit, excavating and embanking in a methodical and discriminating manner. This it was which had caused the regular beating noise, and the rhythmic shocks that had kept our ruinous refuge quivering. It piped and whistled as it worked. So far as I could see, the thing was without a directing Martian at all.
Thoughts from a Witness to the Martian War
AFTER I HAD PARTED FROM THE ARTILLERYMAN, I went down the hill and by the High Street across the bridge to Fulham. The red weed was tumultuous at that time, and nearly choked the bridge roadway; but its fronds were already whitened in patches by the spreading disease that presently removed it so swiftly. At the corner of the lane that runs to Putney Bridge station I found a man lying. He was as black as a sweep with the black dust, alive, but helplessly and speechlessly drunk. I could get nothing from him but curses and furious lunges at my head. I think I should have stayed by him but for the brutal expression of his face.
There was black dust along the roadway from the bridge onwards, and it grew thicker in Fulham. The streets were horribly quiet. I got food—sour, hard, and moldy, but quite eatable—in a baker’s shop here. Some way towards Walham Green the streets became clear of powder, and I passed a white terrace of houses on fire; the noise of the burning was an absolute relief. Going on towards Brompton, the streets were quiet again. Here I came once more upon the black powder in the streets and upon dead bodies. I saw altogether about a dozen in the length of the Fulham Road. They had been dead many days, so that I hurried quickly past them. The black powder covered them over, and softened their outlines. One or two had been disturbed by dogs.
Where there was no black powder, it was curiously like a Sunday in the City, with the closed shops, the houses locked up and the blinds drawn, the desertion, and the stillness. In some places plunderers had been at work, but rarely at other than the provision and wine shops. A jeweler’s window had been broken open in one place, but apparently the thief had been disturbed, and a number of gold chains and a watch lay scattered on the pavement. I did not trouble to touch them. Farther on was a tattered woman in a heap on a doorstep; the hand that hung over her knee was gashed and bled down her rusty brown dress, and a smashed magnum of champagne formed a pool across the pavement. She seemed asleep, but she was dead.
The farther I penetrated into London, the profounder grew the stillness. But it was not so much the stillness of death—it was the stillness of suspense, of expectation. At any time the destruction that had already singed the northwestern borders of the metropolis, and had annihilated Ealing and Kilburn, might strike among these houses and leave them smoking ruins. It was a city condemned and derelict.…
In South Kensington the streets were clear of dead and of black powder. It was near South Kensington that I first heard the howling. It crept almost imperceptibly upon my senses. It was a sobbing alternation of two notes, “Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla,” keeping on perpetually. When I passed streets that ran northward it grew in volume, and houses and buildings seemed to deaden and cut it off again. It came in a full tide down Exhibition Road. I stopped, staring towards Kensington Gardens, wondering at this strange, remote wailing. It was as if that mighty desert of houses had found a voice for its fear and solitude.
“Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla,” wailed that superhuman note—great waves of sound sweeping down the broad, sunlit roadway, between the tall buildings on each side. I turned northwards, marveling, towards the iron gates of Hyde Park. I had half a mind to break into the Natural History Museum and find my way up to the summits of the towers, in order to see across the park. But I decided to keep to the ground, where quick hiding was possible, and so went on up the Exhibition Road. All the large mansions on each side of the road were empty and still and my footsteps echoed against the sides of the houses. At the top, near the park gate, I came upon a strange sight—a bus overturned, and the skeleton of a horse picked clean. I puzzled over this for a time, and then went on to the bridge over the Serpentine. The voice grew stronger and stronger, though I could see nothing above the housetops on the north side of the park, save a haze of smoke to the northwest.
“Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla,” cried the voice, coming, as it seemed to me, from the district about Regent’s Park. The desolating cry worked upon my mind. The mood that had sustained me passed. The wailing took possession of me. I found I was intensely weary, footsore, and now again hungry and thirsty.
It was already past noon. Why was I wandering alone in this city of the dead? Why was I alone when all London was lying in state, and in its black shroud? I felt intolerably lonely. My mind ran on old friends that I had forgotten for years. I thought of the poisons in the chemists” shops, of the liquors the wine merchants stored; I recalled the two sodden creatures of despair, who so far as I knew, shared the city with myself.…
Thoughts from a Witness to the Martian War
IT WAS DARK, VERY DARK, and it was cold. Clouds had come in from the river. I knew those Martian devils were close-by. I could smell them. My group had come into contact with them twice before and twice before we had taken many casualties. We were determined that this time we would take the Martian measure and show them what determined humans could really do. By now most of New York was in flames or worse. When the Martian machines move there is little left to recognize save a wall or a half-melted lamp-post or perhaps some other artifact mostly destroyed attesting to the fact that humans once stood on these burnt and melted grounds. Even with that I knew by the general outline of the rubble that we had made our way to the south end of Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge, or what remained of its foundations, had to be to our east but we had not traveled along the eastern side of the island to view its destruction.
My four companions and I had been following the buzzing sound of a Martian Walker for a few hours. It was always best to follow as they seemed to always concern themselves with what lie ahead rather than what had been passed. This machine had not been throwing out its Black Smoke or spraying the horizon with its Heat-Ray as this part of New York had already been brought to its knees days earlier. As far as we could understand the device had been moved into place to stand a port, perhaps awaiting new orders to kill and destroy.
We began to crawl when we spotted its steel cowling through the smoke and dust, making our way to a small hill of debris. From there I took out my binoculars for a closer look. There was only one machine standing in a small clearing with three Martians standing heavily on their many tentacled-legs appearing as if they were inspecting some component on the side of the deadly steel monster. I knew this would be our chance. From our covered position we were able to crawl to within fifty feet of our enemy. For whatever reason they seemed to not know or perhaps not care that we were there.
I must admit we did not have much of a plan, and none of us thought that we would survive this attack, nevertheless we prepared ourselves. Three of my group moved south of our position as myself and my companion moved a bit to the north. At a signal we topped over our covered positions and ran towards the three Martians. They seemed stunned for a moment, not knowing what to do. The one closest to the other group soon found itself facing three screaming madmen firing their rifles as they ran. It was soon hit by several rounds as the other two Martians began to move away and behind the Martian machine. The first Martian was dead.
We could now see the second and third Martians attempting to climb back into the machine but by then we were so close it was easy to cut them down with our rifles. However, before the last Martian was finished it was able to reach a panel just inside the machine that released the deadly Black Smoke. It was time to get out of that low lying area but only two of us made it out before the Black Smoke overtook our fellows. Running for our lives I could not help but feel that this time we had bested them even though we had lost three of our own.
[END PART 22]
Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020