[PART 41]

Military Preparations

Communications between military forces had always been critical to successful operations in any war. In the early 1920s we added one more level to this vital area. Bell labs operated by AT&T developed what they called a teleostereograph machine loosely based on a Martian device taken from one of the Martian command walkers. This remarkable device was able to send a photo, map or drawing by telegraph to any area around the world that also had one of their new machines. With this tool we could send whole page reports as well as documents, maps and other vital military information across the wires. This teleostereograph machine would be put into operation with the cable system. It is expected that some use of this device would eventually find its way to the commercial market, but what use it could be remains to be seen.

By now we had developed, or rather converted other ships, with the capability to not only launch a small number of aircraft, but with a wooden “flat top” runway built on the existing hull of several vessels (losing one in Japan) we now had the ability to recover those aircraft on the decks of these newly converted ships. However, to land on one of these new “flat-tops” took a great deal of training and an even higher level of piloting skills. Short distance take-offs and landings would continue to be a challenge for many years to come. This work however was not seen as a truly strategic development. They were more like working models that would allow us to design a new series of true aircraft carriers built specifically for that purpose. Sea trials were soon underway and we were learning a great deal about how to maintain these aircraft at sea (salt water corrosion for one) as well as writing whole new rules of engagement for how to use this newly developing resource. It would not be long before three operational areas become the focus of these new ships. They would also be used for fleet defense and would be deployed as such when attacking an enemy force. They would be used for point attack on sea and land targets and would be sent out to perform reconnaissance duties into enemy held areas. We were soon testing these skills over the Lawless Zones.

The bottom line was we needed to field sufficient forces world-wide to not only fight across large bodies of water, but we needed to completely control the airspace above our oceans and thereby deny their use to the Martians. Even against relatively few Martian Flying Machines we knew this was going to be a major challenge.

By this time it had been decided by the Committee that any military contracts given out to private contractors must include a provision that at least half of the facilities involved in the production of any military hardware must be underground. It was also understood that certain critical manufacturing facilities, designated by the Committee as ‘priority one’ would not only be required to be 100% underground, but at least two facilities not in the same city be manufacturing the identical items. The Committee was now beginning to think about backups in just about every area of concern when it came to planetary defense. Getting our new contractors to think that way would be a challenge, but in the end we would succeed. We needed as much redundancy as we could build into our systems if we were to ever hope to win the next big war. This included mining minerals known to be critical which would then be stored in multiple locations mostly underground near manufacturing facilities.

It was at this meeting that Benito Mussolini, strongman of ‘Fascist’ Italy, made his report to the Committee. “The precise, fundamental duty of Fascist Italy is to reach a maximum strength with her armed forces on land, sea and air. Hence we must at a given moment be able to mobilize 5,000,000 men thoroughly armed, we must strengthen our navy; while aviation, in which I believe more than ever, must be on such a large scale and so powerful that the area of the wings of our airplanes must obscure the Sun from our land.” In truth, most of the Committee’s executive staff felt that ‘Il Duce’ would not be able to field an army greater than 900,000 at this time and in the future could field no more than 2,500,000 at best. Bluster does not defeat Martians.

It was also announced that the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, South Africa, Italy, France, Australia and Argentina were all either drawing plans for or constructing a new line of aircraft carrier. We were indeed becoming stronger.

During this meeting Major General Charles Pelot Summerall, Committee Operations Chief of Staff, told the Military Affairs Committee that “Army food rations are lower than those of convicts in U.S. Federal prisons.” He further stated that his soldiers usually receive only one good meal a day. His report was subsequently verified by United States Secretary of War Dwight Filley Davis, who had some responsibility in these matters. It did not take long for the Military Affairs Committee to increase the daily food ration for members of the army from 35 to 40 cents a day!

We also heard from Mr. Clarence Birdseye with a proposal to hold and store frozen pre-cooked fish in airtight barrels which could then be held for years along with freeze-dried fish and other foods. His idea was referred to one of our science departments for further study. If it could be applied to large food supplies it would greatly enhance our abilities to prepare for long military operations as well as long protracted underground operations.

UNDERGROUND MILITARY

The Committee’s underground military bases were well on their way to completion by December 1923. The smaller ones at Nanking, China: BETA, Rosario, Argentina: DELTA and Johannesburg, South Africa: EPSILON were completely excavated. EPSILON had been aided by the discovery of a previously unknown cave system as the work progressed. Taking advantage of this discovery allowed us to enlarge that facility beyond its original design by about 80%. The bomb-hardened buildings were finished at all three facilities and would before long be ready to receive equipment and supplies. As more modern equipment came on line the original supplies would be replaced and updated.

The two largest facilities at Munich, Germany: ALPHA and Atlanta, Georgia: GAMA, were completed as far as their central control areas were concerned, but digging and tunnel work on the rest of the facilities was still underway. We fully expected all of the Committee underground military facilities to be finished and up and running by the end of 1928 and no later than mid 1929. To insure these facilities would be completed on schedule more men and equipment were being directed for these projects.

By the end of the year we saw publication of the Russian book “The Decline of Mars.” Written as a novel this work crafted a fictional story of science with a political edge decidedly Soviet in nature. Its author Aleksey Tolstoy wrote of a “modern Soviet engineer” who had, under the watchful eyes of the Soviet system, built a two man rocket capable of making the voyage to Mars. On Mars these intrepid representatives of Soviet communism find a “humanoid race of Martians” not unlike our hybrids who are ancient in and that the human stock seems to have come from the lost fictional continent of Atlantis.

Naturally these Martians live in a class society unlike the real Martians who live in what can very easily be described as one very close to communism. Nevertheless, even as the irony of that fact seems to have eluded the author, the humanoid race on Mars, now fully Martian in thought and deed, find it in themselves to rise up to fight against the ruling class which for the most part resemble your average Martian A. They are unfortunately defeated all in the background of massive climate change on Mars which threatens to destroy all life on the planet as it goes into a planet wide ice age. It is then left to the reader to decide where the luckless Martians should next plant their rather worn flag.

News from Machu Picchu

January 1924

In January of 1924 we received a detailed report on discoveries so far found at the remote Machu Picchu site. The team, still under the direction of archaeologist Hiram Bingham III, had been able to dig no fewer than five exploration trenches into what was thought to be prime locations at the high altitude site. The teams were not disappointed. Even though two of the “deep holes in the ground” recovered what could be called ‘standard’ archeological items, three other trenches gave up a treasure trove of artifacts and written documents which detailed the last years and months of those who had “fled the gods to the high place in the clouds of safety.”

One of the trenches had cut into what might be called a sunken vault. Already the team had removed hundreds of baked clay tablets as well as flat stones and one rather interesting copper plate with writing on them which had been intentionally placed in the ‘vault’ to protect these vital historic records. To be sure not all of these ‘records’ had been written by the people of Machu Picchu. In fact, it could be shown that some had come from Asia, Africa and Europe. How these ‘documents’ had made their way to the ‘New World’ was not clear. This would be one of the areas that the team would research most closely.

The team had also discovered a good many references to astronomy in general and the planets on the tablets. References were being made to information which could not have been obtained by any humans at the time Machu Picchu was built. These people had to have had outside help in these efforts. It was also becoming clear that at least two of the structures on the site had been used for astronomical observations. And if the reports are proven correct they had found a damaged stone device that appeared to have held some type of lens much like a modern telescope only very large. The primary lens or perhaps polished mirror of this “stone instrument” must have been at least two feet in diameter! Engineers on site would spend the next two years examining this device and drawing up detailed drawings of this most remarkable discovery. More discoveries were expected to be reported in the years to come. This was indeed a major find.

The team had uncovered over 200 structures on the site including a central temple dedicated to the Sun all made out of stone. The center piece was an open green area much like a lawn about an acre in size. There were also 16 fountains in the city all feed by one natural spring. On the highest point was found a pillar that pointed to the cardinal points (north, south, east and west). Team geologists found that the small site was bordered by earthquake fault lines and that some of the evidence of destruction could have been caused by quakes. What they did not find were any carvings on any of the stone structures that resembled any type of writing. In fact there were no carvings at all.

The group had also discovered what they called an “off-site landing pad on the high hill just north-west of the main site.” The so-called ‘landing pad’ held an overall view of Machu Picchu and had steps carved up the stone wall all the way to the hand-carved flat ‘pad’ 100 feet in diameter.

By this time the teams had also uncovered around fifty burial sites and expected to find many more. Those remains were sent to the United States for examination. There was much work still remaining to be done on this site that was never discovered by the Spanish when they invaded the area hundreds of years ago. Research into surviving Spanish records indicate that they had no knowledge of the site probably because the local people had themselves mostly forgotten this high mountain redoubt.

MAGIC – MOST SECRET

Magic Order MO-280

Immediate: A propaganda/test flight is to be attempted by two to six military aircraft in order to circumnavigate the Earth by air. No details are to be released to the general public until the mission is successfully completed. Purpose: To demonstrate our aero-technology to the world and to test our technical abilities to support such a world-wide mission. The test is to also include development of pre-positioned supplies in support.

MAGIC THREE-NEW YORK

MAGIC – MOST SECRET

Along with reports from Machu Picchu and other interesting sites around the world came new information from our efforts in Egypt. More and more tunnels were being unearthed at Giza and with them the discovery of thousands of ancient books (scrolls) with stories of many gods coming to Earth from the stars. We were discovering that many ancient texts had reported gods flying out of the skies in many types of craft in order to interact with many different ancient peoples. It was becoming more and more evident that who or whatever these so-called “sky gods” were they had seemingly always been here, at least as long as mankind had advanced enough to produce lasting records of their visits and probably a lot earlier than that.

The question was: What were their reasons for coming to Earth and would they return with or without the Martians who were continuing to plan their next adventures on Earth? My thoughts were of how much these ‘others’ had given or possibly taken from our ancient ancestors? And, what more could we expect? More to the point – Were they the reason why we are on Earth in the first place? One interesting theory being passed around Committee offices at the time was the intriguing possibility that mankind had been “planted” on Earth and somehow we were alien to our own “adopted” world. My thoughts ran to the question of why they left Earth after seemingly spending so much time and effort on our world. Was there a purge of some sort?

Around the World Test Flight

April 1924

By April of 1924 we were ready to push our aviation theories and aircraft development to the next level. In order to truly bring the world together as a fighting unit, communications and transportation links would need to be put solidly in place. We even had a simple but effective telephone system in place in several cities. Certainly we now had cables and fundamental radio links. We had also established a great many shipping routes, which had been one of the keys to world’s economic recovery, now well along. Now we needed to add air resources to the mix and for that we needed to test our abilities to fly completely around the world. The test flight would also be of great propaganda value to humanity. If successful it would show that we had recovered as a planet sufficiently enough to once again do daring acts and accomplish great things in new scientific areas. This would be something the people would be able to cheer for.

The attempt would be made by four United States Army Air Service long distance aircraft, built by the new Douglas Aircraft Company. As much as we could the Committee stepped out of the spotlight and pushed forward efforts being made by nations and private companies that were supported in the background by Committee resources. The aircraft were named after four American cities, which had taken much damage during the First Martian War, and had made great progress in rebuilding their war damaged cities. They were named Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and Seattle. (We intentionally kept away from ‘New York City’ known to be a “Committee city.”)

On 6 April 1924, Boston, Chicago, and New Orleans took off from Seattle, Washington, heading northwest towards Alaska. The Seattle was being repaired at the time due to a bad landing during a training flight and was to join the other three aircraft in Alaska after repairs were completed. At least that was the plan. Seattle took off a few days later, but near Port Moller in Alaska on 30 April the Seattle slammed into a mountain in dense fog. There were no eyewitnesses to the ‘accident’ and since the aircraft and two-man crew were badly burned in the subsequent fire there was no way to determine if the Seattle was shot down by a Martian Heat-Ray or was simply lost in the fog and crashed. Upon receiving the news the remaining three “Douglas World Flyers” continued on to Japan, Korea, along the coast of China, Hong Kong, and then across Indochina. The crews rested in Thailand for a week as their planes were inspected and tuned up for the next leg of the round the world flight. Their report on how the operation was going up to that point included several sightings of “unidentified aerial craft seemingly pacing our flight.” None of these “unidentifiables” came close enough to be described in any detail, but they were certainly a bit unnerving for the crews. None of these aircraft were armed and fuel was the only cargo. The crews would report “that the unidentified craft seemed to be checking us out rather than hindering our flight at this point.”

They were soon airborne over Burma, crossing the mountains to India, and across the Middle East before turning north towards Europe. Their arrival in Paris came as the partially rebuilt “City of Lights” was celebrating Bastille Day on 14 July. Still more rubble than proper city, the people of New Paris nevertheless put on an impressive display of enthusiasm as they escorted the crews to an evening banquet in their honor. The banquet held outside under beautify lit tents was on the site of the half rebuilt new Effie Tower. The French were determined to resurrect their capital’s landmark and showcase it to the world.

Next was a short flight to New London where the crews were met by Captains Alcock and Brown for a state dinner at Buckingham Palace, which included George V and several of the Magic Twelve. (George was naturally “in the loop” as to who was who in Magic.) Although I was not present at this event it became well known that my friend, the newly minted “Sir Winston”, was most animated at the dinner as he gave a rousing speech of how the Earth would be fully prepared when the Martians returned as we would “fight the tentacled heathens for every inch of rubble, for every yard of Earth, for every drop of water, for every scrap of humanity whenever they chose to return to our warrior planet, and we shall defeat them at any cost, at any place they chose to name. When they come again, as we know they will, we shall bloody them and we shall give them a fight their heathen species shall long remember.” The next leg of the flight would be the always difficult Atlantic crossing. (Not that crossing the Pacific was an easy walk in the park.)

Once again the Atlantic would prove hazardous to cross as fog hampered all three aircraft for much of the flight. All three aircraft had newly designed compasses for the trip and they seemed to work quite well for most of the flight – accept for some reason over the Atlantic. When Chicago and New Orleans landed in Iceland the Boston was nowhere to be seen. Without any news the two aircraft continued on to Greenland and then on to Canada. Only later would reports come in of wreckage. Pieces of the charred remains of Boston had been found by rescue ships spread out over a large area. Clearly the Boston had been hit by a Heat-Ray causing the aircraft to explode in mid-air instantly killing the two pilots. This news was sent on to the surviving two air crews. Despite the news their efforts would not be hampered as they wired that they would continue the flight. After a brief discussion the Committee agreed that the crews had made the proper decision and the go-ahead was given to continue. The propaganda value of the flight was too great to end the flight short of its stated goal.

After flying to New Washington Center (NWC) the Chicago and New Orleans flew on to Seattle landing on 28 September 1924. There were no further ‘accidents.’ They would report flying some 23,942 nautical miles in 175 days. There would be no mention of Martians to the general public as the loss of Seattle and Boston were reported as unfortunate accidents, which of course the loss of the Boston at least certainly was not. The world cheered the Around the World Flight and we all went back to work to try and find ways to combat the Martians who were still attacking our planet albeit on a limited scale. We also continued working on the Phoenix project that was about to make a rather giant leap. At about the same time we received another rather mysterious visit by one of the Great Earth War airships, that was, to say the very least, a bit late reporting in.

The Great Zeppelin Mystery

July 1924

Not unexpectedly the Great Earth War had cost the Germans a great many airships they called Zeppelins. They had been a great power at the start of the war but these airships became less and less effective as the war pressed on and airpower by way of the well-armed biplane came to command the skies over Europe (that was as long as there were no Martian flying craft in the area). Losses of this kind were no mystery at all. However, there was at least one Zeppelin lost during the war which did indeed rise to the level of mystery. And it was not necessarily its disappearance in June of 1916 over the bloody battle grounds of the Great Earth War in France that was the mysterious part of the story of Zeppelin 142. The mystery came in July of 1924 when Zeppelin 142 crashed in a field in southern France having seen by many witnesses to have come out of a dark gray cloud just before it impacted the Earth. “The Zeppelin Ghost Ship” had returned!

There was no possible way any airship built on Earth could stay in the air for eight years, and besides who could have missed a 140 foot long Zeppelin flying around Europe for all those years? The dark gray cloud which had ‘deposited the craft’ had been seen to move against the wind, at least that was the way it appeared to the dozen or so witnesses who saw the Zeppelin emerge from the mysterious cloud. They were also quite adamant in reporting that as the Zeppelin made its clearly uncontrolled slide to the ground the large gray cloud slowly moved in the opposite direction and after a few minutes “simply faded from view.” Focus was now solely on the Zeppelin whose number “142” could be clearly seen on its undamaged side.

It was not completely true that the mysterious “Zeppelin Ghost Ship” had not been seen during the eight years of its mysterious flight. In point of fact “the” or rather “a” Zeppelin had been spotted several times, but never longer than a minute or two and always in places where there was no reason for any Zeppelin to be flying. The ‘ghost’ had been seen over Chicago in America, San Paulo, Brazil, Johannesburg in Southern Africa, Madras, India and Novosibirsk, Russia. There was even a possible sighting above the high Arctic ice before coming down outside of Toulouse, France in ‘24. Each and every sighting had two things in common. First, the Zeppelin was never seen to be “solid or in complete focus” appearing more like a ghost ship, and second, the number on the side of the craft could never be seen clearly enough to make note of seemingly darkened by its time in the air.

Mysterious Zeppelin 142
Mysterious Zeppelin 142

Nevertheless, when Zeppelin 142 came down in France the number was clear to see and the airship was solid enough to leave a sizable ‘dent’ on the ground where it came to rest. Within minutes a number of people had run over to the craft to see if they could render any assistance to the crew. They soon discovered that would not be necessary. The completely intact Zeppelin was in very good working order and completely disserted. What else was found truly shocked those who then boarded the craft. It was clear that someone (or perhaps ‘something’) must have been on quite recently. The lights were still on and the remains of a freshly cooked meal were still very evident. The lettuce was still crisp! It was also clear that the crew had been in some type of struggle as the cabin had been damaged from the inside completely unrelated to the rough landing. These men had been taken by force very recently – there was fresh blood on the floor and some of the walls, and not all of it was red! Some of the crew’s personal weapons were missing. They had in fact put up a desperate fight against whatever had commandeered their craft. Pots and pans as well as any type of wooden mop or broom or knife had been used by these men to defend their ship.

Also missing were any types of official reports. In fact, the people, and later the local authorities who were soon on site investigating the ‘recovery’ of the ship, could find no written records anywhere onboard. Who or whatever had attacked the crew had taken every written document and book that had been onboard. The crew member’s photos had also been taken. A later Committee investigation would conclude that the ship had been attacked by Martians and the crew had been abducted. However, how the Zeppelin had managed to stay in the air was never explained. Dr. Tesla would only state that “it appears that the crew had somehow been transported in space and time by a force we have yet to understand.” That much I was certain of, however, I had a hard time placing this particular event in the Martian column. Something else was at work here and as far as I was concerned we needed to find out as much as we could about it. However, most of the Committee executive staff felt that we had enough on our plates dealing with the Martians and the investigation never really got off the ground.

A Martian Secret Discovered

To say the least it came as a complete surprise to everyone working on the Martian machines. It certainly was for poor Jenkins when he found the panel that activated the field device in the Martian Flying Machine he was working on. Jenkins had been working with the group attempting to discover how the Martians interacted with their machines, when, as he later reported, “things came alive!”

Sitting in what amounted to a Martian A ‘chair’, which looked more like a rather flat bowl with holes in it for Martian’s ‘legs’, Jenkins was attempting to get comfortable. Certainly it was not an easy task for a human at any time. Adjusting his position towards the rear of the seat he simultaneously grabbed the sides of the ‘bowl.’ This contact caused the back of the chair to extend two panels, one on each side of his head extending out around 18 inches. The panels were 12 inches tall, ½ inch thick, clear and began to glow. At the same time a glass panel to his front, thought to have no instrumentation, lit up showing several dials and indicators as well as two small back lit projection screens.

As the panel came up to its full lighted position Jenkins “felt a warmth come over my entire head and I began to see images, symbols, numbers and I could even smell new scents.” These images were coming so fast he could not keep track of them. Within 30 seconds he was on the floor of the machine grasping his head in pain.

Jenkins had accidentally activated the Martian mind-link to their machines. It was a major breakthrough that had given us a new key to understanding at least part of this very high level of Martian technology. For Jenkins it meant a trip to the hospital for two weeks.

The team soon learned to cut the power levels to the device which allowed scientists to sit in the device for as much as five minutes at a time, with a break of at least one hour. Any more, even at low power, caused extreme headaches and could easily cause brain damage to anyone staying in the magnetic field of the device for ten minutes or more at any one time. Humans were simply not ‘built’ to use this device. It could easily have been deadly. One researcher remarked that it would make a rather fine torture device to be used on hybrids. We took it as a joke but I’m not too sure everyone looked at the comment that way. One of the Tango members was taking notes!

What Jenkins had activated was a small self-contained electro-magnetic field between the clear panels that interacted directly with the brain of the Martian controlling the craft. In fact this device could read the “brain waves” of the Martians! It allowed the Martians to mentally visualize all control aspects of his craft. More than that, with this device the Martian pilot could tell the machine exactly what it wanted to do simply by thinking about it.

We had discovered a Martian secret, but we could not do much with it. It was far too advanced for any of our scientists. There was no method we were going to be able to devise to duplicate this capability so humans could use this method on our own craft or modified Martian machines for a very long time – if ever. We simply did not understand how the device operated or how it made direct contact with the Martian brain. Even the brilliant Dr. Tesla felt it would be many years before we would be able to duplicate this fascinating technology. If we were going to control their craft in the near future it would not be with these very advanced devices. The work would nevertheless continue.

On a related subject other researchers into all things Martian had been able to understand that the advanced calculating devices used by the Martians were based on a simple binary code. Using only ones and zeros the Martian machines were able to perform an almost infinite number of mathematical computations and at a very high speed. It soon became clear that their machines could solve math problems at a rate several thousand a second! If we could find the secrets to these machines we would be able to use these devices to direct and control remotely craft not only on Earth but in space. Their technology was nothing less than amazing.

The Phoenix II Program

“We have cracked it and it works!” These were the first words I heard the morning Tesla came running into my small office now in Lower-New York City. I had never seen him more excited than this and even though I had no idea just what the hell he was talking about, to see Tesla in such an excited state told me that I was in for one heck of an explanation. He is not one for excitement. I only hoped I could at least follow some of what he was about to tell me.

“Nikola calm down. What the hell is it?”

“My friend, I have solved the problem of the power and control systems for the Martian Flying Machines. I know how they fly and what they use for energy.”

“Incredible. So how do they fly?”

Smiling deeply Tesla could barely control himself as he explained what his team had just discovered.

“Their craft, these spaceships, are using the electric field of the entire planet to fly and that’s why they don’t have many moving parts. They don’t need them so they don’t wear out. It is simple, brilliant and the power supply is infinite. It is all around us and we do not even realize it. No wonder they could keep their machines in the air so long – they never had to refuel. The Earth was doing it for them! No not the Earth, the entire universe.”

I had a million questions, not the least was how in the world we were expected to harness this new technology?

“You’re kidding? Is that how they get to Earth? What does…”

“Yes, yes, but only partially as they need to get off of the planet first, but since the entire universe is one big electromagnetic field, albeit weak in many places, all they need do is direct their ship’s field displacement and off they go hopping from one orbit to another, and from one planet to the other. Can you imagine that? With this device under our control someday men can explore the entire Solar System and beyond. Think of a magnet with positive and negative poles. When opposite poles face each other they are attractive. However, when two positive or two negative poles face each other they repel each other. This property of the field is amplified on board their craft at a fantastically fast speed with great power and control.”

Tesla continued to explain how a field displacement could be accessed and how they could fly without the standard surface areas using ailerons and other surface controls. He also explained that part of the device was set up to change propulsion to a simple “ion-propelled air or spacecraft including nuclear fuel” which would allow travel through areas where the electric magnetic fields were lower than required for smooth flight. According to Tesla, his team would soon be ready to fly Phoenix II. Before he would say much more he was running off to his office. I knew there would be a report on the work soon enough so I went back to my tall pile of papers happy to learn we were making some real progress. I had forgotten to ask him how the work was coming along putting the Martian language to use on his new flying craft. As usual trying to keep track of Nikola Tesla made my brain hurt!

Later that evening when we had a chance to relax and have a drink Dr. Tesla explained a bit more about how the Martians were able to fly along with other matters. He was quite certain that he had most of the problem solved which included work on the Walkers and the tunneling machines. I was also quite certain that most of what he said was Greek to me.

“It is quite possible that such ‘no-wire’ motors, as they might be called, could be operated by conduction through the rarefied air at considerable distances. Alternating currents, especially of high frequencies, pass with astonishing freedom through even slightly rarefied gases. The upper strata of the air rarefied. To reach a number of miles out into space requires the overcoming of difficulties of a merely mechanical nature. There is no doubt that with the enormous potentials obtainable by the use of high frequencies and oil insulation, luminous discharges might be passed through many miles of rarefied air, and that, by thus directing the energy of many hundreds of thousands of horse-power, motors, or lamps might be operated at considerable distance from stationary sources as well as spacecraft linked to electronic fields. What a great ‘gift’ the Martians have given to mankind.”

With that, I congratulated him went to the bar and had another drink – a strong one!

On 22 August 1924, Mars made one of its closest approaches in opposition to Earth in many years at a distance of only 37 million miles. Needless to say the world (i.e. the teams working with the Mars Watch Program as well as several nations) was keeping a very close eye on our troubled neighbor. Despite the close approach it seemed the Martians were a long way from being ready to reinvade the Earth. And even though the public was not made aware of the fact we in the Committee knew full well (at least most of us were of that opinion) that they were indeed still planning on taking the Earth so it was still only a matter of time when they would try again. That is not to say that they were not launching any spacecraft towards the Earth – they were. Not on a regular basis, but every so often observers would note the bright flash of a launch on the surface of Mars. It was suspected that most of these launches were of the water tanker variety. But from that distance we had no way of knowing for sure so we continued to keep our guard up. It must also be remembered that if they launched at night we could not see them since the dark side of Mars for the most part always faces away from Earth.

One of the individuals keeping an eye and his telescope on Mars was 18-year-old Clyde W. Tombaugh. “The planet’s atmosphere seemed fairly clear, for dark markings such as Trivium Charontis and Mara Cimmerium showed good contrast. But the area south of Mara Cimmerium was quite white from either frost or cloud. The south limb showed bright in our red-light photographs and not at all in blue light, again suggesting frost or cloud.”

In only a few years young Clyde would make a name for himself as a first class observer and astronomer. For the time being he settled in as one of our best observers at the glass when it came to keeping a close eye on Mars.

[END PART 41]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[Next week: Part 42: Contact made? events on Mars and Committee works.]