[PART 24]

THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT KATMAI

Mount Katmai is located in a remote section of western Alaska Territory. Despite its remote location we had received reports from locals as well as captains from passing ship’s that unidentified aerial activity was increasing in the remote area. Naturally when the reports first came in we suspected some type of Martian involvement, but what they had in mind for the snow and ice-swept volcano in Alaska we did not know. We were about to find out.

It is well that ignimbrite eruptions (massive blasts of volcanic debris flowing down and away from the volcano covering vast areas) are historically rare. The only one recorded by modern man occurred in 1912 at Mount Katmai and of course it was set off by Martians. Many of us wondered at the time if the Martians were fully aware of the massive destructive power to be had by one of these types of eruptions? They knew!

Up until 1912 Mount Katmai, located to the west of the Alaskan mainland on a peninsula looking not unlike a giant horn from high above the Earth, had been well-behaved. There were no recorded eruptive events in man’s written history and it was thought to be dormant and thus simply eroding into its inevitable old age. Nevertheless, on 2 June tremors were being felt by the locals whose homes were spread thinly over the general area. These tremors continued on 4 and 5 June as ash clouds began to issue from the general location of Katmai. That evening natives clearly saw three Martian Flying Machines fly over the volcano. Minutes later, one of the craft was seen to launch a blue/green rocket towards the ground a few miles south of the smoking mountain. The next day Mount Katmai was in full eruption as a massive Plinian ash cloud (much like the one reported by Plinian the Younger in 79 A.D. describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius) began to shower hot gray ash over a very large area. A small Japanese freighter was the closest ship to the eruption, but they were only able to report unidentified aerial craft in the area. They could not see the mountain. Their wireless reports would end on the morning of 6 June. Nothing was ever heard again from the freighter.

A letter found by rescue teams that had been written by a local native in nearby Kaflia Bay named Ivan Orloff tells part of the frightful story of that 6th of June.

We are waiting death at any moment. A mountain has burst near here. We are covered with ashes, in some places ten feet and six feet deep. All this began June 6. Night and day we light lanterns. We cannot see the daylight. We have no water, the rivers are just ashes mixed with water. Here are darkness and hell, thunder and noise. I do not know whether it is day or night. The Earth is trembling, it lightens every minute. It is terrible.

That evening two massive explosions erupted from the mountain heard almost 900 miles away. The next day a third and indeed what turned out to be the most massive explosion erupted from the mountain could be heard throughout most of the Alaskan territory. This was the eruption that issued the deadly lateral ignimbrite blast that covered and destroyed so much of the local area.

The volcano began to simmer down after this violent event and before many weeks had passed it became mostly quite with an occasional release of gas and ash, but at a much lower rate than earlier. During that period only three ships passed close enough to the area to see any activity yet all three reported numerous sightings of unidentified aerial craft in the general area. The Martians were keeping very close track of their latest ‘trial run.’ None of those ships however, came under Martian attack. At the time all we knew was a great eruption had occurred and Martians had been involved, but we had not understood the vast destructive power that had been released by this volcanic event. It would be several years (1916) before we were able to send a team to investigate. When we did we would discover there was much more to this eruption than we could have ever expected.

As part of our ongoing historical research into Martian interference in mankind’s affairs we would later understand this and other types of eruptive events, set off by the Martians, had been well-established for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years (Martian B Interrogation 1908-218). We were becoming aware that Earth was their long-term testing ground for these types of weapons. Two possible examples of their deadly work could be seen in the devastating eruptions of Minoa in 1628 B.C.E. that effectively wiped out the Minoan civilization as well as the recent 1883 eruption at Krakatoa near Sumatra. Both events had taken many thousands of lives.

From: Committee Notes: The Martians and the Martian War (1907. r. 1914)

Centuries earlier the Martians had developed devices which could disrupt solid rock in such a way as to set up eruptive events in volcanoes, massive earthquakes and excavations (canals?). Further study shows that while these devices, once put into place, could advance an eruption or quake event they could not in and of themselves create sufficient energy displacement to make their own eruption or quake, at least not yet. These advanced devices could only take advantage of natural forces to greatly enhance and speed up a natural event. They may best be described as a softening up technology able to create a situation, which could progress faster than it would have normally been able to occur. This has led to the idea that the Martians are able to closely monitor geological events on Mars or Earth in order to take advantage of natural dynamics and stored energy in the rocks. Both of these discoveries are dramatic and fearful to the Committee members. With this newly gained knowledge researchers concentrated on historic geologic events, which had occurred during times when strange craft had been seen in the skies before, during, and if anyone survived – after. One such event, which fell into that category, was the Minoan eruption of 1628 BCE.

OTHER EVENTS AT THE TIME

On 30 May we heard the news that Wilber Wright had died from typhoid fever that was once again making the rounds. Naturally the Committee sent representatives to the service with our condolences to the family. He and his brother had recently been at a Committee meeting to discuss matters related to new aircraft proposals. We were all saddened by his loss.

Despite my great reluctance at the time to place myself in any type of flying contraption I was persuaded that flight would eventually become a requirement for members of the Committee. So with my heart beating fast and palms dripping I took my first flight on a Farman Seaplane on 5 August 1912 with aviator Grahame White. It was a success as I held on for dear life, and even though it was very interesting to see the familiar sights on the ground from hundreds of feet in the air I was quite ready to land as soon as possible. When I landed, apparently none the worst for ware, I was handed a note informing me of a major eruption in Alaska.

On 14 October Committee member Theodore Roosevelt was shot by a hybrid named H-John Schrank of Upper-New York City. What saved Theodore’s life was the fact the bullet hit his spectacle case and his rather thick folded copy of his speech. He was later taken to the hospital to have the bullet removed from his chest but only after he finished his speech! The gunman would spend the rest of his life in a Committee insane asylum. If I could have had my way he would have been executed. However, I was not in that position to say so – yet!

If I recall 1912 was also the year we first tasted a new dinner treat called the Oreo cookie first produced in a small bake shop doing business on the west side of Lower-New York City. We had them at the dinner celebrating the opening of the new Columbia Journalism School in New York.

On 8 November 1912, news of the escape of a PO from the Martian Prisoner of War Camp was radioed to our Sydney office and relayed to Lower-New York City Committee Headquarters. The Committee sent instructions that the staff of the facility were to standby and do nothing as it was suspected given enough time, and very little of that, the local ongoing brutal weather conditions would be more than enough to remedy the problem. The PO was going nowhere and we considered it to be a form of suicide by a PO desperate to have a few hours of freedom before it died. The public were not informed of the escape or of the discovery of its body weeks later. As I read the report concerning the dead PO I could not help recall that after the Grand Tribunal I had been given the opportunity to be one of those selected to execute one of those ‘things’ which had been given the death penalty. I confess I felt no pity for it as I placed my revolver to its head and pulled the trigger!

The next day the British government announced the tunnel across the English Channel had been completed with traffic flow expected to begin before next Christmas. Five percent of the tunnel revenue would find its way to Committee coffers. The remaining revenue would be divided between the British and French governments.

Along with everything else going on in the world we were becoming acutely aware of an increase in the number of unidentified flying object sightings in many wide spread areas. One of the more troubling reports came out of British Columbia, Canada, due to the objects’ speed as well as its seeming ability to simply appear out of nowhere before flying off at tremendous speed.

At 4:48 a.m. on 1 December onboard a Committee surface vessel manned by a mostly Canadian crew the radar watch officer suddenly saw a large object reflected on the ships radar scope. The ship, the CS Albert, stationed some five miles south of Lookout Island, British Columbia, was on sentry duty looking for any signs of local Martian air activity. That morning the air held a heavy fog and the ship was moving at only ten knots when the unidentified object suddenly appeared on the radar. The device indicated the object was only two miles south-east of the ship and must have been able to sneak up to the vassal without being spotted by the very alert crew. It was further noted the unknown was no more than 200 feet in altitude at the time.

As the Albert turned in the direction of the unknown while sounding the alarm the unknown suddenly took off towards the north at speeds indicated to be well over 8000 miles per hour! Concern came from the fact that previous to this encounter Martians, or at least unknowns thought to be of Martian origin, were not known to be able to accelerate that fast or more with such great speed in the dense lower atmosphere of Earth. Were we now dealing with ‘others’ unrelated to Martians?

During the previous two weeks over Canada and ten northern American states dozens of multi-colored unidentified flying objects had been reported; many were said to be moving from a hovering position to a very fast speed in “a blink of an eye.” Needless to say, Committee investigators were soon looking very closely at the situation and would report back to the Twelve when any new information was obtained.

1913

Showing its new found leadership the United States passed the Federal Reserve Act in early 1913. This legislation stabilized the now fast growing investment economy of the United States and set the example for the rest of the world. It would not be long before the monetary interests within the Committee set up similar laws in many new nations. This was a major turning point for the Committee as their almost absolute total control over world banking was being partially spread out across the globe thus greatly strengthening the world’s banking systems. It also made it easier and faster to find financing for the continuing local rebuilding programs still repairing the damage caused by the war.

The next year would see the American Dollar ‘officially’ become the world’s primary currency, backed by major United States and Committee gold and silver holdings (he who holds the gold makes the rules), with the British Pound now used only as a back-up. As earlier the proposal was brought forward to issue Committee currency, but once again it was rejected on the grounds it would focus too much attention on our group. The Americans, pushed by J. P. Morgan and David Rockefeller, were showing more world leadership and monetary control. Still leading Directorates A and B after more than a decade no one outside of the Committee knew this fact even as much of the world still looked to both men for monetary and recovery leadership. When their names came up they were simply reported as ‘unpaid’ advisors to the Committee. That leadership would lead the Americans to institute the United States Federal Income Tax in 1913.

In February of that year Australian Committee member Douglas Mawson began his work along the Antarctic coast mapping the area out as he dog sledged along. His work would prove invaluable when years later a Martian outpost was discovered in that area. February also saw a rather interesting display of ‘meteorites’ intercepting a rather wide path of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. At least we thought they were meteorites until the ‘flight paths’ were plotted by William Denning. It was Professor Denning who had been one of the first and certainly the most qualified observers in 1901 to see the first Martian cylinders coming in to land on Earth. As an expert on meteorites his observations of the 9 February ‘falls’ were quite invaluable in our understanding of exactly what we were really observing.

We had never before received so many reports of ‘meteorites’ at one time since we began our sky watch operations. Some 140 individual reports described anywhere from 50 to 60 bright objects entering Earth’s atmosphere over eastern Canada and much of the Atlantic Ocean. At first the simple solution came to mind that this was simply an active meteorite shower but the fact that many of the pieces were visible up to 50 seconds and coming down in groups rather slowly pointed not to objects entering from deep space but rather objects had been in some type of Earth orbit!

When all of the calculations were completed it became clear that the ‘footprint’ or impact area of these objects was a line along a 5,500 mile path which ended in the mid-Atlantic and at places as wide as 150 miles. This was no meteor shower. The final calculations by Denning and others clearly showed a large metallic object, possibly as large as two miles in diameter had been in Earth orbit and had, over a decade, degraded to such a degree it entered the upper atmosphere of our Earth and broke apart as it impacted the thicker portions of the lower atmosphere.

In November of 1902 what we came to understand was a derelict Martian Flying Machine entered the atmosphere and disintegrated over Australia. However, this latest object was no mere standard flying machine. Recovered portions of this device were to prove this massive object, which had been orbiting the Earth unseen for at least the past 12 years, had been the Command Ship for the Martian invasion! We were able to recover thousands of pounds of pieces from the east coast of Canada. Needless to say it was simply impossible to hide this much evidence from the general public so the Committee used this story to inform the world it was large (but not as large to the public it truly was) and that all of the Martians who had crewed this massive craft were in fact long dead before it crashed on Earth. This of course we had no way of knowing.

The public was informed this was not the start of a new invasion by any means. For the most part the general Earth population took the report as evidence that we had nothing to worry about when it came to Mars. I wished at the time I too could crawl into that particular cubby hole.

In April of 1913 we lost J. Pierpont Morgan who died at his desk at Committee Headquarters in Lower-New York City. News reports of his death did not mention he had been one of the Magic Twelve, a designation not used outside of headquarters. We did not want our enemies guessing who might replace him nor what type of people were part of the powerful Magic Twelve. The Prince of the Directorate, Henry Ford, having returned to the Committee from his work in New Detroit, was now the new Director of Directorate A. Mr. Ford had just opened his Model-T assembly line to mass produce his new auto-mobile when he “got the call.” The next year, 1914, he would by rotation become the Prime Director of the Executive Committee of Twelve and become the most powerful man on Earth for the following twelve months.

Newly minted Director A was able to report to the Committee that by now he had developed his assembly line production methods so well he had been able to cut the time it took to produce one of his electric automobiles from 12 hours in 1908 to a little more than 90 minutes! However, he assured the Committee he fully expected to cut that time down to as little as 15 minutes per vehicle in the years ahead, and if war came could be adapted to the production of war products.

On 19 May the Governor of California, Hiram Johnson, signed into law the Webb-Hartley Law which prohibited “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from purchasing or owning any type of land in the American west coast state. It would not be long before other states and nations followed the lead with more “anti-Martian-alien as well as anti-Martian-hybrid laws.”

As I recall 7 May saw a very strange occurrence over and then in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, England. A local man reported a “torpedo-shaped object” had flown high over his house ‘with something making contact with the ground nearby. Moving with great speed, much faster than any Earth based aircraft at the time; it displayed two very large lights. That seemingly ended the sighting, however, the next day the man found what he called a “ball that looked like a soccer ball but with a length of steel bar run through it.” The police soon took possession of the “ball.” When the Committee heard about the strange object found on the cliff near the man’s home we sent representatives out to examine and take possession of the object. A report was soon sent to local newspapers that the object was nothing more than a “sea buoy.” We did not address the issue of how this device found its way to the top of a sea cliff at Clacton-on-Sea nor did we address the issue of the unidentified object. But the story did not end there.

A few days after we ‘acquired’ the device “two strange looking men materialized” near the man’s home. They were seen to be climbing and searching the sea cliff for what must have been the device we had in our custody. They also searched the man’s sheds, barn and other out buildings. Not knowing who these men were, or the fact they were searching for something found the man’s servant confronted by one of the strange men who “spoke to her in a strange musical language she did not understand.” She ran off as fast as her legs could carry her and the two strangers “vanished as if they were never there!”

Back at headquarters in Lower-London the device was investigated, but only after it was dismantled at a remote site (just in case of…?). We had no idea what it was and a wisely placed explosive device was not out of the realm of possibility. It turned out the device did have some strange magnetic effects cutting off wireless transmissions and shutting down other electric devices, but other than that we could never decipher its actual use.

It was also in 1913 that Upper-New York City hosted the First International Exhibition of Modern Art. The abstract core of the exhibition featured the likes of Picasso, Matise and many other new style artists. Art had returned to New York City and the people delighted in this new form.

At the same time I took my first private underground ‘flat’ at 52 L-St. James Court in Westminster. It was small and not overly furnished, but it was surprisingly comfortable and it soon became my private refuge from the rest of the world. As I recall the first book I took to my new flat was Monuments of Egypt that had a rather long section on Queen Hatasu. It was not required reading but considering the long and unwanted association the Egyptians have had with the Martians I wanted to understand as much as I could about the region and its people.

It was at my new flat where I was informed that revolution had once again broken out in the Mexican area as northern command General Victoriano Huerta, a Huichol Indian reportedly born in an adobe hut, grabbed power in a civil war against local dictator Medaro, with the backing of H-Pancho Villa. Villa would soon side with Venustiano Carranzo as power and money were his only real allies. Medaro had failed to maintain any kind of stable government and had lost the support of the military. It had also been reported ‘President’ Medaro had been taken from his home out to the desert and shot! It would not be long before Huerta developed a much deserved reputation as a “bloodthirsty animal.” It would also not take long for the streets of Mexico City to once again fill with the stench of bloated decaying corpses.

Acting on a proposal by the new American President Woodrow Wilson the Committee refused to recognize the authority of Huerta stating only that the area had no legitimate government at this time. Wilson said, “I will not recognize a government of butchers.” “The present policy of the United States is to isolate General Huerta entirely; to cut him off from foreign sympathy and aid and domestic credit, whether moral or material, and to force him out.” The United States sent war ships to the seas off of Mexico in order to be ready in the event that they were called upon to protect American interests near the Mexican territory. Once again the full Magic Twelve group went into session to discuss the matter. And as before, a vote, this time 7 to 5, decided the matter with a no vote to designate Mexico territory as a Lawless Zone. Most however, felt that eventually this area would meet the criteria for that designation. The only question was when? Huerta soon began kidnapping any able-bodied man he could for his army. Stability and freedom seemed to be a very long way off. The Committee “fully condemns those who seek to seize the power of government to advance their own personal interests or ambition.” I thought that was very interesting coming from a member of the Magic Twelve whose power and control was damn near absolute.

Despite the often confusing and distressing news from Mexico, our eyes were soon on Committee rocket tests as we built on a new technology we would eventually have to master. Problems in Mexico would have to wait.

OUR FIRST FLYING ROCKET TESTS

By July 1913 we were ready to test our new rockets in the air, but only by way of winged craft. We were nowhere far enough along in our work to attempt a true vertical rocket test and expect any kind of control, and certainly not with a pilot on board. That would be a test for a future date.

The Committee had purchased a small sailplane for the work and modified it to hold two large black-power (solid) rockets. We also strengthened the wings and airframe. Without modifications it was clear the rockets could very well rip the small craft apart before it got a chance to test the new engines. An electric firing device was wired to each of the rockets with the switches set inside the closed cockpit. The plan was to fire the rockets one after the other in order to provide as long a powered flight as possible with the available thrust. Control of the craft in this early test was just as important as other matters. We needed to know if a pilot could react quickly enough to events in the air under rocket power.

 At 9:16 a.m. on 16 July at our test facility outside of Bournemouth, England, pilot Lt. Commander Phillip Stamer slid into the Flyer and the observation group stepped back to view the flight. The tow vehicle soon began to move down the runway pulling the Flyer behind. At around 45 miles per hour the tow-rope was released and the Flyer was on its own. At exactly 9:23 a.m. Stamer hit the first switch that ignited the first solid rocket and he took off above the runway in a great rush of black smoke at a 45 degree up angle. He did not take long to reach 1000 feet. Within 20 seconds he fired the second rocket which when combined with the first still firing sent him to 4,900 feet flying a circuit around the test area. The flight had gone smoothly and had lasted one minute and 47 seconds when the wheels touched back down on the runway. The rockets had fired for thirty-five seconds each and had taken the Flyer to over 230 miles per hour, a new world’s record for manned flight. The next test was now set for that afternoon.

After a good lunch at a nearby pub the team was once again ready to fly. The ground team had replaced the spent rockets with new ones that were expected to produce at least 25% more thrust than the ones used during the morning flight. This test would not be one of distance or time spent in the air. The team wanted to go as fast as they could so both rockets were wired to go off at the same time. The pilot was going to get quite a jolt when they were lit, but we all felt it would not be more than he could handle. As it turned out the pilot could take the ride, but the Flyer could not.

Once again the tow vehicle pulled the Flyer, this time to a speed of nearly 50 miles per hour before releasing the craft for free flight. At 2:18 p.m. Stamer punched the button that ignited the two solid rockets and he was off with a great rush. Still pulling up to gain altitude ten seconds after ignition the right side rocket exploded sending the Flyer into a violent right turn. The explosion had punched holes in both wings, the body of the craft, and had cracked the canopy cover, but had somehow completely missed the pilot! With the rockets on the port side now firing out of control and undirected with the Flyer on fire, Stamer nosed down to within 65 feet of the ground leveled off and then put it down on the ground belly first as the wheels had also been destroyed during the in flight explosion. As the craft continued to slide across the field it slowed as the rockets ended their burn. The flyer however, was now nearly completely on fire over the wings and rear of the craft. The Flyer was completely destroyed by the time the rescue team arrived, but we still had our pilot. He would fly again despite first and second degree burns on his hands and back. We went back to the drawing board and Lt. Commander Stamer went to the hospital for some much needed repairs.

It was during these tests we heard the news Igor Sikorsky had successfully flown the world’s first four-engine airplane he named the Russian Knight. It was soon better known as Le Grand. A later version of this biplane named the II’ya Muromets would see service as a bomber during the fast approaching Great Earth War.

The July 1913 edition of Scientific America now back in publication would draw attention to man-made flight tests in Europe by the Committee and national forces. The possibility of a major human conflict was not to be lost on the magazine’s readership.

“Germany has devoted most time, money, and skilled research to the development of the various types of the dirigible; France, to that of the aero plane or avion, in all its forms. A similar comparison as to aero planes and trained pilots shows France to be much superior to Germany; and it is also stated that though the French machines are frailer looking, they are much better constructed than the German ones, which are still too heavy. Obviously, then, in case of war there would be a contest between German dirigibles and French aero planes – like battleships and torpedo boats.”

Our attentions were soon pulled away from aero news and the small fire onboard the flyer to a dramatic series of very large ones. The Martians, it seemed, were about to put the Earth to one more of their little destructive tests.

MASSIVE FOREST FIRES

If a great storm system had crossed these areas with a good deal of lightning we would not have thought much about the fires which spread across the Northern Boreal Forests of Canada in December of ’13 other than to understand that once again mother nature was displaying her awesome power. However, the skies in the area where the fires had started had been clear for the most part as far as anyone could report. There was also the fact the fires had begun almost at the same time in over forty different locations. These had clearly been intentionally set and it did not take long for the Martian Brotherhood to take credit for these attacks even through most in the Committee felt the Martians themselves had sat most of the fires. This time their letters to the Press taking credit for the destruction were taken seriously as the people of the world came to learn the Martians, through their hybrid allies, were once again at war with the Earth. It did not take long for people to demand to know what we were going to do about them as the fires raged for several months, once again, destroying literally millions of acres of prime forest. Coming so closely after the war this was a great loss.

News reports were coming in from Europe as well. One of the more interesting came from Die Suddeutsche Zeitung out of Munich, Germany.

Unidentified flying objects have been sighted over various districts of southeast Europe during the last few days. At the weekend an amateur astronomer photographed three of these gleaming celestial objects at Agram. But while the experts [at Committee headquarters] were still giving their opinions of this photograph that was splashed across several columns of the Yugoslavian papers, more UFO’s have already been reported from the mountainous region of Montenegro, where they were even supposed to have caused several forest fires. These accounts come mainly from the village of Ivangrad where the inhabitants swear black and blue that they have observed strange brightly illuminated heavenly bodies every evening during the last few days. The authorities confirm that several forest fires have occurred in this district but so far cannot explain what started them.

We were learning the Martians were not only readying themselves to attack the people of Earth, they were still finding ways to attack the planet as well. Despite the recent Katmai volcanic event this series of fires failed to raise enough of our attention to this critical fact. If it had we might have been better prepared to deal with these types of “attacks on nature” in the future, although I was at a loss as to just how we could prepare for such events other than pre-staging fire fighting teams in remote locations. We humans were just not up to the task.

A LITTLE HYBRID WORK BY TANGO

The first thing the Committee did as far as public comments were concerned was to release a statement confirming the Martian Brotherhood did indeed exist, but emphasized that Committee security forces working with several national military and security forces around the world had been actively hunting and killing them since 1906. It was not reported exactly why the hunt had begun in 1906, simply that their activities had been discovered around that time and we had teams of specially trained people working on the problem full time. Nothing in these news releases addressed the problem of fighting the fires or how we might begin to develop plans to stop these attacks before they could begin.

Naturally, the public was not informed about the Tango Group or their involvement in hunting down enemy alien hybrids of the Martian Brotherhood. By this time Tango operations had expanded to other areas including internal Committee security. Included in the statement was a list of 83 hybrids recently captured, of which 54 had by that date been tried (mostly) in secret military tribunals and executed by firing squads (a much lower number than had actually been killed or captured – 649 by this time). Most of the others were held by Tango. (They were reported as being “held in Committee facilities.”)  Once again our Tango Group had done the work and not always after a trial. The public was also informed this work would continue as long as the threat was active and until the “Martians and their hybrid allies were completely neutralized.” Naturally it was also stated it was policy not to release any information on methods used to track down those “enemy aliens” as it could easily compromise our efforts to protect the public. Other than a few newspaper editors few questioned the work being done on the “Martian hybrid problem.”

One writer to a local newspaper asked if anyone had yet encountered a friendly alien as opposed to an enemy alien. The staff of the newspaper reported that “…as of this writing there are no ‘known’ encounters with friendly aliens. Perhaps in the future we shall meet some. Perhaps when we do they will have some friendly advice on how to deal with the decidedly unfriendly enemy aliens from across the ethereal border with Mars!”

As the general public went back to their day-to-day struggles, Tango Group continued on the hunt for Martian supporting hybrids. Tango 5 at Fire Base Tango (FB Tango) was now in full operation in Lower-Sydney as was the new ‘hotel’ including ‘guests’ at FB Tango. Within weeks, after a few ‘brisk’ conversations with our ‘guests,’ the hotel was completely empty of ‘guests’!

In addition to these reports were added statements (off the record of course) that even though a large area of Boreal Forest had been lost, along with other areas, much of the loss would eventually be made up naturally without any need for human intervention. (That policy was later revised to allow re-seeding by low flying blimps as well as some work by fixed-wing aircraft.) In the final Committee internal classified report there was a small, almost passed over paragraph which noted that due to the amount of particulate matter sent into the atmosphere by these fires the Earth’s overall atmospheric temperate had probably fallen 2-3 degrees F. world-wide for a year or two. It seemed to be only an afterthought at the time, but in fact the fires had been part of a much larger plan to cool the planet by the Martians. The public were not ‘bothered’ with that detail. Only later would we recognize these fires had been a test by the Martians to check not only our response, but the effect on cooling the Earth. At the time we had no information on how long this type of attack had been visited upon our planet.

Despite these destructive events work continued on rebuilding sections of our destroyed cities as well as the many below ground facilities. However, even after more than a decade of recovery many areas still looked battle worn as focus and funding remained split between surface and underground building programs. Whole sections of most cities were still untouched since the war and would remain so for many more years to come. Reworking the internal supports to greatly strengthen the facilities underground naturally slowed the work, but this extra support would eventually prove its worth in the years to come. Nevertheless, life was generally returning to some form of normalcy for many of the peoples of Earth.

Unfortunately, part of human normality seems to be the need to wage war on ourselves as if the threat from other worlds and enemy aliens were not enough to worry about. Humans it would seem have very short attention spans. They were soon to prove that fact! War ‘feelings,’ had been floating around Europe for a few years now, and most observers felt all that was needed was some critical international incident to set Europe on fire. That incident was soon supplied by off-world enemies of mankind aided by their agents on Earth. And even though the target had limited power at the time, those with “war fever” took it upon themselves to take full advantage of the situation. Humans had played right into the hands of the bloody Martians.

FRANCIS FERDINAND ASSASSINATED

28 June 1914

“The second bullet struck the Archduke close to the heart. He uttered only one word, ‘Sofia’ – a call to his stricken wife.”

Committee report FF-14

I first heard the news when one of my aids came rushing into my office. Phillips came charging down the hallway, around the corner into my office and damned near knocked me over.

“Sir, the Martians have killed the duke in Sarajevo!” (We all knew which duke as he had been sent by the Committee to mend fences in Europe.)

I must say that my first response was somewhat less than professional, but then again I was almost slammed into the wall.

“Damn it, Phillips. We don’t need this crap right now. This is a critical time.” After I pulled myself together and finished ‘snapping’ at poor Phillips I said, “Alright, sit down and tell me what you know…”

That evening The New York Times would headline, “HEIR TO AUSTRIA’S THRONE IS SLAIN WITH HIS WIFE BY A BOSNIAN YOUTH TO AVENGE SEIZURE OF HIS COUNTRY.”

Committee member Francis Ferdinand and his wife
Committee member Francis Ferdinand and his wife

Archduke Francis Ferdinand, a European member of the Committee (Magic Board of Directors – Europe, and the Habsburg heir to the Austrian throne), had been on a good will tour of European nations at a time when many of them were once again feeling national rather than planetary loyalties. Naturally I had met the man and had discussed a few programs with him, but I can’t honestly say we were anything more than acquainted by way of Committee business. To say the least he still wore the stuffy air of someone who felt he was owed something because his family had been able to oppress millions of people for many years in order to feel superior and wear a crown. I did not like the man and we were not friends. To be honest if one looks closely at the event it really was a minor incident on the world stage still deep into recovery. But, he did have a job to do for the Committee.

His job during that warm summer was to meet with new national leaders to discuss ways for all of the European nations to refocus on things off world and away from national trivialities. History would record he failed, or rather more accurately – we failed. Instead, he was met on a small street in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary, by members of the Martian Peace Society (MPS) led by two members of the Martian Brotherhood. The entourage was just preparing to cross a bridge when the attack came. We were to later learn they had been supplied with weapons by the Black Hand terrorist organization led by hybrid Colonel H-Dianic Dimitrievic. The hybrids seemed to be expanding their operations.

Under Committee interrogation (a rather brisk one I might add) one of the (MPS) conspirators named Borijove Jevtic made his statement about the assassination.

When Francis Ferdinand and his retinue drove from the [train] station they were allowed to pass the first two conspirators. The motorcars were driving too fast to make an attempt feasible and in the crowd were many Serbians; throwing a grenade would have killed many innocent people [on the road to the city hall].

When the car passed Gabrinovic, the compositor, he threw his grenade. It hit the side of the car, but Francis Ferdinand with presence of mind threw himself back and was uninjured. Several officers riding in his attendance were injured. (It bounced off and exploded very near the next car of a six-car procession.)

The cars sped to the town hall and the rest of the conspirators did not interfere with them. (When he arrived at the City Hall the Archduke commented, “So you welcome your guests here with bombs?”) After the reception in the town hall General Potiorek, the Austrian Commander, pleaded with Francis Ferdinand to leave the city, as it was seething with rebellion. The Archduke was persuaded to drive the shortest way out of the city and to go quickly.

The road to the maneuvers was shaped like the letter V, making a sharp turn at the bridge over the River Nilgacka. (His driver Franz Urban had taken a wrong turn down this narrow street where he could not turn around.) Francis Ferdinand’s car could go fast enough until it reached this spot but here it was forced to slow down for the turn. Here [Gavrilo] Princip (a 19 year old Bosnian with tuberculosis) had taken his stand. As the car came abreast [and stopped] he stepped forward from the curb, drew his automatic pistol from his coat and fired two shots. The first struck the wife of the Archduke, the Archduchess Sofia, in the abdomen. She was an expectant mother. She died instantly.

The second bullet struck the Archduke close to the heart. He uttered only one word, ‘Sofia’ – a call to his stricken wife. Then his head fell back and he collapsed. He died almost instantly.

The officers seized Princip. They beat him over the head with the flat of their swords. They knocked him down, they kicked him, scraped the skin from his neck with the edges of their swords, tortured him, all but killed him.

Committee staff member and security advisor Count Franz von Harrach was riding on the running board of Ferdinand’s car as one of the bodyguards. There should have been a much larger group of body guards. He was perhaps the closest to Ferdinand when he was shot. Later during a closed Committee hearing he gave his account beginning after the two shots had been fired.

As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood spurted from his highness’s mouth onto my right cheek. As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe the blood away from his mouth, the Duchess cried out to him, ‘In heaven’s name, what has happened to you?’ At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the car, with her face between his knees.

At that, I seized the Archduke by the collar of his uniform, to stop his head dropping forward and asked him if he was in great pain. He answered me quite distinctly, ‘It’s nothing.’ His face began to twist somewhat but he went on repeating, six or seven times, even more faintly as he gradually lost consciousness, ‘It’s nothing.’ Then, after a short pause, there was a violent choking sound caused by the bleeding. It was stopped as we reached the Konak.

The shot had severed the duke’s jugular vein. British, German and Committee diplomats attempted to head off a new conflict but reasonable minds were ignored. They had been replaced by reactionary fears. And as terrifying as the Martians are we were becoming reflections of them in our need to wage war upon ourselves.

With the Martian inspired murder of Ferdinand organized with weapons and ammunition from Serbia, Austria-Hungary soon declared war on Serbia on the 28th of July. (Revenge for the death of two people that most people around the world viewed as important as a hill of beams!) This action caused Germany to side with Austria-Hungary declaring war on Russia on the 1st of August. Two days later Germany declared war on France and Belgium, with Great Britain declaring war on Germany the next day and a new human contrived European conflict was well on its way to becoming the Great Earth War. It was as casual as dividing up teams for a Rugby match only this match would be to the death for millions. The Martians had done their human homework very well! The “powder keg of Europe” was about to explode. We humans were going to murder each other on a massive scale; Martians need not apply.

The New York Times would report: “The European nations have reverted to the conditions of savage tribes roaming in the forest and falling upon each other in a fury of carnage to achieve the ambitious designs of chieftains clad in skin and drunk on mead.”

When news of the assassination reached Lower-London headquarters a section of Tango was immediately sent to the area. Their job would be to track down the group who had assassinated Ferdinand and his wife and find out how this had come to pass. They were also ordered to execute them after interrogations were completed. It was soon discovered most of the Committee security forces had been abandoned on Ferdinand’s orders and were not available to protect the Duke. After this assassination all members of the Committee were required to sign an agreement that they would keep their security teams informed at all times of their movements and keep them close-by. Personal bravado was not part of the program. 

Two years later, on 23 November 1916 the Evening Post commented on events which transpired after the assassination as the world braced for destruction. “Franz Ferdinand, the heir-apparent, ‘the future war lord of Europe,’ was assassinated on the 29th of June 1914, at Sarajevo. Out of the murder arose the little flame which kindled the greatest [manmade] war the world has known.”

I recall there was a rather strange post-script to the assassination which arrived by the mails in the form of a letter to the Committee from Dr. Joseph Lanyi a former tutor of the Duke. It had been mailed two days before the assassination and concerned a dream Mr. Lanyi had concerning the Duke. In his dream Dr. Lanyi had been delivered a letter from the Duke which in part read, “I wish to inform you that my wife and I were the victims of a political assassination…” How this pre-assassination dream could have become fact no one knows. But the letter may now be found in the Lower-London library in one of the many safes set aside for critical documents.

Even as these events were occurring several nations had been able to reconstruct at least part of their naval forces most notably the United States and Japan. At the end of 1914 the Japanese government announced the commissioning of the battleship Kongo. It was the fastest and would remain the fastest battleship in the Japanese fleet. At the time of its commissioning it was the most heavily armed warship in the world with four 14’ twin gun turrets as well as twin torpedo bomber catapults. The Committee sent our congratulations on their efforts.

FOOD RIOTS IN EUROPE

As if we did not have enough problems to deal with the news of the assassination, and probable Martian involvement, several cool summers and cold winters had lowered the European crop yields to a point where some locations were experiencing shortages that pushed food prices to levels not seen since the First Martian War. These shortages fueled by war rumors soon led to food storage facilities being broken into in several eastern European cities.

In 1876 Edward Lytton, British Viceroy for India, had anticipated wide spread food shortages, long a problem in India. He began to stockpile surplus food supplies rather than selling off the excess in order to at least lesson the once large-scale problem of famine. Overall, the plan had worked well enough up to the start of the First Martian War. Lytton facilities were now being developed in populated areas around the world, however, with two short growing seasons in the past two years and populations growing at rates beyond what had been anticipated, food shortages were starting to become a problem. In several areas of Western Europe food riots had also begun and it would take a great deal of effort to bring them under control.

The first large scale riots began in Brussels as war rumors spread to every part of Europe. Most people could easily remember the shortages and starvation that had followed the First Martian War and did not want to be caught short again. It was a natural feeling of concern for the unknown and even though our food supply systems were thin and our food reserves were not what they should have been there was no general shortage of grains and other foods; nowhere near the critical shortages brought on by the First Martian War.

Nevertheless, when a large group of men and women who had been living in one of the few remaining ‘tent cities’ outside of Brussels were refused entrance to a closed food collection point a riot occurred which soon spread throughout the city. Rumors were outpacing facts and before long fires began to be set and assaults were occurring. It had not taken long for news of the Brussels riots to reach other major cities in Western Europe. Martial law was soon declared in several cities. Without any real information on exactly why the riots had occurred many took it upon themselves to believe the worst, that food was short, that the Committee and national governments had horded food for themselves, and that the Martians were once again on their way to attack the Earth. None of these rumors were true, but we needed to deal with the riots fast no matter who or what had started them.

We were soon sending wireless ‘news’ reports out that food supplies were in fact plentiful and the Committee was opening the food storage areas, such as they were. We stopped several planned grain shipments from America and China scheduled for deposition into our food storage centers in Europe so as to be able to restock these centers that were about to be depleted in quick order once control had been regained. The Committee also printed ‘news’ reports that the rumors had been started by Martian supported hybrids and many of them were being picked up. Leaflets were dropped on the most critical areas along with some food and medical supplies. Within nine days the riots ended and things pretty much went back to normal. One policy change that did come out of the riots was the need to store more food in areas away from the public view, and for the storage areas that were known, put them under local armed military control. The Committee needed to tighten things up.

It was around this time members of the International Red Cross began to transport vital food and other emergency supplies to stricken areas using available air resources of the Committee and national air forces. These efforts would be greatly expanded as aircraft became available with expanded lift capabilities. Working closely with the International Red Cross, also allowed Committee operatives to blend with the Red Cross workers.

Once again using the resources of civilian publications the Committee released information of a non-technical nature to the general public of advances in science. This time the offices of the Scientific American magazine were used to report on chemical advances. Theodor Svedberg would write,

“The existence of molecules may today be considered as firmly established. The cause of this radical change of front must be sought in the experimental investigations of our still youthful twentieth century. Ernest Rutherford’s brilliant investigations on alpha-rays, and various researches on suspensions of small particles in liquids and gases, furnish the experimental substantiation of the atomistic conception of matter. Not only is the atomic structure of matter demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, but means have actually been found to study an individual atom. We can now directly count and weigh the atoms!”

AURORA, TEXAS

As I recall it was about this time we heard the news from Aurora, Texas, of a large airship said to have crashed into a local grain storehouse. This was not the first time an unknown craft had crashed on someone’s property requiring a fast Committee response. Newspapers soon had the story thanks to local correspondent S. E. Hayden, most prominently the Dallas Morning News. This was going to be difficult to cover up. Nevertheless, one of the CAIG senior members reported, “We will take care of it.” The recovery team needed to work with a good deal of speed.

Reported to have crashed on an outlying farm owned by a farmer named Burgan Thomas, the occupant was said to have been “of gray color, dead and badly mangled in the wreckage.” Further reports spoke of “Hieroglyphic figures” and other strange markings etched on some of the wreckage of aluminum and other metals yet unknown. We had recovered this type of debris many times before, even occasionally before the First Martian War by several national governments, but at the time we had no idea what to make of it. Not long after the Committee received the first reports teams were sent to the area to “remove any physical evidence of the crash and its occupant.” It was not a good idea to let people in on the secret that the Martians had never left the general area of Earth. Unfortunately, the town’s people had already buried the occupant in the town cemetery and were unwilling to point out the burial site to Committee investigators. They had not placed a marker on the grave. Needless to say, we could have pressed the issue and demanded in no uncertain terms to lead us to the body. But one or two additional dead Martians in our cold freeze facility would not amount to much so we dropped the ‘request’.

Investigators came away with all of the debris with a promise that no one would ever dig up the “mangled gray fellow’s body.” To smooth things over our team even sent a group over to rebuild the storehouse and repair other damage done to the farm. As far as I could understand we did a whole lot more ‘repair work’ than was actually required! (It seemed that some damage had also been done to his farm vehicle even though it looked more like very old rust!) Before the team left the area they did a bit of work on the local church as well. We even sent a nice food package to the local residents as a thank you from the Committee for their cooperation.

With no evidence remaining around the area the story soon faded and we all went back to work. A few other newspapers eventually took up the story, but any questions were easily deflected. It seemed most eyes were on events ongoing in Europe as many expected war was right around the corner. Many Committee eyes were on European events, but we had not lost track of our many other projects including our priority work underground.

[END PART 24]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[Next week: Part 25: Lower-London, Tango and team Egypt.]