[PART 57]

Large Eruption on Mars

The first reports came in at 5 a.m. GMT on 4 January 1937. There was a large volcanic eruption going on at Mars and it was very near their primary launch site. The Mars Watch Teams had seen the eruption begin. Mars opposition occurred on 19 May that year which placed Mars only 48 million miles distance from Earth. It was not the closest that Mars’ orbit had come to Earth but nevertheless the seeing was excellent. Our new telescopes using back-engineered Martian technology were giving our Mars Watch Teams one hell of look at the surface of Mars and to be sure the Martians were experiencing one very large eruption on the surface in and around what must have been a very critical area.

By our estimates it had taken four years for the Martians to build their Great Launch Facility located on the high plateau of the Tharsis Montes. Here their three massive rail launching tubes had been constructed to take advantage of the high slope of Nix Olympia the largest known volcano in our solar system. It was twice as high as Mount Everest and its slopes were wide enough to easily hold the launching ramps with a great deal of room to spare.

The eruption had begun in an area just north-west of the central caldera of Nix Olympia opposite to the rails. However, it did not take long for fissures to open on the western side very near the business end of two of the rails. Within days the flood of magma had begun to cover the center section of the closest rail easily covering 80 to 100 miles on the surface as well as at least 40 miles worth of the second rail.

From what we could make out, which was not much by then due to the vast amounts of gas and dust obscuring much of the area, along with a bit of guess work, our observers deduced that the Martians must have begun work to stay the flow using at least two methods. First, bright reddish beams of intense light could be seen near the flows which seemed to indicate that the Martians were franticly digging trenches with Heat-Rays in order to re-direct the widening surface flow of magma away from the rails. Secondly, our telescopes were picking up massive clouds of steaming gas not only from the eruption fissure but from the flow fronts themselves. The Martians were using vast quantities of their precious supplies of water to cool down and possibly stop the flow! This must have been a desperate effort using limited supplies of water. The effort showed that they would do anything they needed to do to protect as much of this launch facility as possible even if it meant using a great deal of water they could ill afford to waste.

The Mars Watch teams kept an especially close eye for the next eight weeks and their final report indicated that at least 40% of the two rails were covered and had been put out of action. How long repairs would take was anyone’s guess. Best thoughts indicated that no more than 20 months would pass before the rails would once again be fully operational. The gods of Mars had given mankind a little more time to prepare.

 

Earth Offers Peace

‘Martian Antarctica’

 

In light of the massive destruction brought to Earth by the Martians a plan was developed which was nothing less than amazing. We had been working on the project for a while now and it was time to test it out. Directorate H proposed to the Executive Committee of Twelve an audacious plan to allow the Martians to come to Earth – in mass – and occupy almost all of Antarctica. We would in effect attempt to appease the Martians by giving them Antarctica. After years of preparation for war and full planetary defense this plan was going to be a very hard sell especially to the military. Needless to say, this plan would need to be submitted to all of the world’s active governments for it would need to be a proposal sent to Mars from the entire Earth. It had to represent all of humanity including the Lawless Zones. (Bringing in the Lawless Zones did cause a good deal of later debate.) It would be a hard sell to the people of Earth, but the realities of the situation would eventually win grudging support from a majority of world governments. The plan itself was a simple one. It was called “Martian Antarctica” at staff (code named “Red Cold”). Considering the recent volcanic destruction on Mars we felt the time could not have been better to approach the Martians.

For many years explorers across our southern oceans had dreamed of a southern continent said to be populated by tropical forests and where it was said the beaches washed up diamonds and emeralds. The explorers called this continent Terra australis incognita the Unknown Southern Land. This dream of utopia came to an end in 1775 when Captain James Cook sailed around the South Pole keeping a watchful eye always open for large floating icebergs. If there were a southern continent it had to be as cold as the ice so plentiful in the Antarctic Ocean.

As a land mass Antarctica is larger than Europe by some 30% and in fact the area is a landmass, which represents an area ten times larger than that presently occupied by the Martians on Mars itself (that we knew of). There would be plenty of room for all of them. We were offering the Martians an opportunity to simply fly to Earth without being interfered with (as if we could do anything about it at the time) and take over an area on Earth which was certainly much more favorable to their needs than any place on the surface of their home planet. It was felt that this offer was a plan that any Martian thinking logically (by human standards perhaps) could not over look. We were by this offer letting the Martians know that as far as we would understand they had found a way to live in Earth’s atmosphere without falling to its pathogens. This we thought would also tell the Martians that we were capable of keeping track of them as well.

Without so much as a thank you the entire Martian civilization could move in mass to a new world and they would not have to fight for a single square inch. It would become sovereign Martian territory requiring Earth passports with Martian visas stamped on them for any human to go to “Martian Antarctica” except for a thin slice of the continent reserved for human scientific research and a political staff.

This of course was not a purely humanitarian solution. Earth could greatly benefit from such an agreement, as we would be hosts to an advanced civilization, albeit a brutal one so far, within easy reach. Certainly it would be much easier than going to Mars to make peaceful day-to-day contact. The possibilities for advanced knowledge and cultural exchange were practically endless. Certainly mankind’s science and technology would continue to advance by leaps and bounds if such an agreement/treaty could be arranged with our enemies on Mars.

There were other aspects of this offer we needed to study. After word got to the Martians that we were offering a large land mass why not simply take it and use it for a military base of operations. In other words agree to the offer and then stab the Earth in the back as soon as they had enough military force on Earth to do the job. The conclusion we came to was simple. The Martians must know that we are weaker than they are, but we are many millions more and being in one place they must have known we would be ready to fight. Perhaps, most grudgingly they were learning to not necessarily respect humans as an intelligent species, just our ability to fight.

We decided, that is to say that Dr. Tesla convinced the Twelve, that we should also send along instructions to the Martians on a method developed by Tesla to produce great fogs on Earth. He had discovered this method accidentally while working with instruments which created antenna current pulses of 1100 amperes. He felt that with this technology the Martians could literally pull great amounts of moisture out of their atmosphere and thus perhaps delay any attacks on Earth. He also felt it would do very well on Earth in desert environments. “I am positive in my conviction that we can erect a plant of proper design in an arid region, work it according to certain observations and rules, and by its means draw from the ocean of air unlimited amounts of water for irrigation and power purposes.” Dr. Tesla was always one to think “out of the box.”

As gracious an idea as this sounded I had other ideas, and they did not involve surrendering territory to the Martians without a military backup plan. The Martian Antarctica plan would still be a tough sell to the military until they understood what we had in mind. I remember when it was first presented to the Magic Twelve.

“…so gentlemen, what I am about to propose to the Committee may seem, at least on the surface, to be a radical idea. I am fully aware of that. However, if you will bear with me I can assure this Magic Group that it is no such thing. Simply stated, I propose to send the Martians a peace treaty in which planet Earth will give to the Martians almost the entire continent of Antarctica.”

I paused as I let that one sink in. Not unexpectedly there were several gasps in the room, as others simply shook their heads in disbelief. The commanding general of Department C could not believe his ears.

“What? Director, I’m sorry, but with all due respect, are you bloody insane? You expect us to just step aside and invite then in?”

“Hear me out general. I assure you that I am quite sane. I think you will find this proposal to be quite interesting and I might add that I would expect world military leaders such as yourself to be the ones who will most support such a plan.”

“Really? I can’t wait for this one. Please, carry on Director.”

“Thank you Sir. Gentlemen, as it stands today we have lost hundreds of millions of lives in a war with the Martians, and a great deal of material resources.”

“We all know that. That’s why we are all here.”

“Indeed so general, indeed so. And we also know, to a man, that another bloody war is right around the corner unless we do everything we can to prevent it. I am certain that no one in this room has any doubts about that. Millions more, perhaps hundreds of millions are going to die and there is no power on Earth which will allow us to make a preemptive strike on Mars to prevent these expected upcoming attacks. We don’t have the means, by which I mean the rockets, the spacecraft, the technology, or the bombs to do the job. However, if we as a planet offer Antarctica to the Martians, and they accept, they will at first bring their advanced forces to the South Pole, which they presently do now in a limited manner as we are all well aware of, and in the case of war will do so at any rate.”

“So we simply stand down and just invite these murderous squids to drop by, is that it?”

“In a manner of speaking, that is exactly what I am proposing. But, with all Earth forces on full alert and pre-positioned to fight if the need arises. In other words general, on our time schedule and not theirs, and if they accept it may also give us more time to prepare an even stronger defense.”

The general was still not impressed.

“We are already prepared even without this plan, as we have Mars Watch and set units ready at all times. Underground work in most areas is damn near complete and new weapons that we expect to kick the crap out of those slimy little pod bastards are nearing production.”

“Quite correct, sir, but, if they come and we do not attack and the Martians do not attack us they will gain confidence in the sincerity of the proposal, which would allow the Martians the opportunity to bring their entire population to Earth; at least as many as they are prepared to re-locate. If it works we will have effectively ended a bloody war before it can begin.”

“That’s a mighty big if, sir. And what exactly do we do then Mr. Director, invite them over for dinner?”

There was some, but not a lot of laughter at that comment, as it hit far too close to home.

“At that point Director F we help them set up a Martian nation in Antarctica. And general know this, it will also mean that 100% of the Martian population re-populated on Earth will be well within range of your bombers, your fighters and your missile forces and all in one place!”

The silence in the room was dramatic. That had gotten the attention of everyone in the room, especially the general. The general then leaned forward to speak and he was smiling – deeply.

“Now I like the sound of that. I could ring Antarctica with a steel net so tight a flea could not get out. With new highly explosive weapons expected to come into our inventory relatively soon it is not beyond the possibility that Earth forces could in fact wipe out the entire Earth based Martian population in one massive attack! Taking care of the squids in one shot would suit me just fine.”

It was at that point that the Prime Director spoke up after he cleared his throat.

“If I may gentlemen, before we all get too excited about all of this, let me remind all of those in this room that we are looking for a peaceful solution here if we can, even though we must be fully prepared for war. If we can have any hope of this working I think we need to take a close look at all options, peaceful as well as full on war. We must be on 100% alert and fully prepared with our military forces before we try anything like this.”

“That is correct of course sir. But this presentation to the Martians will put the ball very much in their court, but on our terms. We may have a great deal to gain from this. It may also give us a few more months to prepare for the worst case scenario we are trying to avoid.”

After a long debate in which the pros and cons were discussed it was decided that Earth really had nothing to lose. Diplomacy might actually work and if it did not we still had the military option on the table, and so did the Martians. Orders soon went out to speed up preparations for any possible military action. We needed to be ready if the Martians agreed, and even more so if they did not.

Knowing that a simple agreement might not be enough for the Martians, Directorate H had put together a comprehensive package of aid, transportation, building programs, food, energy development and trading possibilities. We wanted to make the proposal as attractive as we possibly could. There was even a most-secret portion of the agreement known as “sub-clause 15,” which was never released to the general public. This sub-clause included Earth supplying the Martians with live humans for food; those who had been convicted of murder or other brutal crimes, and sentenced to death. It was an old idea, but this time it was put on a Committee document. In effect, we would use the Martians to dispose of Earth’s most brutal criminals. Certainly this would be a plus for humanity in general and end once and for all the need to hold on to such unneeded individuals. They would become a “resource” for both sides of this interplanetary equation.

A system would be set up where a convicted criminal would be strapped to a chair in a gas chamber. The gas would render the man (usually a man) unconscious and a Committee doctor would go through the act of checking that he was ‘dead’ just for public consumption. Having been certified the ‘corpse’ would be taken away for disposal. At which time the ‘corpse’ would be woken, taken in chains to Antarctica and “released” to the Martians. There was one other section of the plan. The convicted individual would be sterilized before being sent to the Martians in the event the human was not eaten. Needless to say, the Martians would not die from lack of human nourishment. There are still plenty of brutal criminals wondering around our planet to insure the ‘success’ of this most-secret program.

We were even preparing to turn over all members of the Martian Brotherhood not yet executed to the Martians, as well as the last four surviving POs, PO19, PO24, PO39 and PO64. Included in the proposal was a full briefing of the known conditions on Antarctica to be sent to the Martians, which were also summarized in an executive briefing paper for the Magic Twelve.

We sent the proposal and waited. We did not have to wait long for an answer.

A radio message sent several times from Mars came in broken English, but the message was crystal clear, demanding that our military forces disarm and step down. This of course, no matter what the result, was the one option the Earth was not about to consider.

EARTH WEAPON HOLDERS WE WILL COME AND YOU WILL DIE. EARTH WILL BECOME THE NEW [MARS]. THERE WILL BE NO TALK. [MARS PRIME] WILL TAKE ALL ON EARTH.

There was now no doubt that the Martians would return for another attempt to take the whole of our planet. The next message we sent by radio to Mars was also crystal clear. It was sent every hour for two days. “The people of the Earth are as one in the call for peaceful relations with all of the inhabitants of the planet Mars. With this our offer of Antarctica for the inhabitants of Mars continues. However, should the need arise, and if we are attacked by Mars, Earth fighting and weapons holders are fully prepared to defend our warier planet with all the destructive means at our disposal and will do so at any and all costs. Any attacker from any planet must be prepared to pay a fearful price for such unprovoked and provocative actions on Earth as well as on Mars! We will fight if need be to completely destroy any invader. Earth is still prepared to talk peace at any time. Earth now stands fully prepared for peace on both our planets or war on Mars.”

There were no further messages from the Martians, at least there were none in response to our rather timid threat, but we were quite certain that our second message was received and understood as we sent it in five primary Earth languages, English, French, German, Russian and Mandarin Chinese, as well as what we felt was a pretty good version of Martian.

Editor’s Note: This primitive electronic message to the leaders of Earth would be the only direct electronic contact sent by Mars Prime to enemy forces on Earth.

 

The Hindenburg ‘Accident’

It had been an average albeit rainy day at the airfield and for all that could be gathered from the survivors the flight across the Atlantic had been a rather uneventful passage. The passengers and crew had enjoyed a smooth crossing even though the giant craft had run into a strong storm as the airship crossed over Upper-New York City. It was always a grand sight. All that remained was for the last drinks to be enjoyed and the already packed luggage to be unloaded once the great ship of the air was firmly attached to its mooring mast at the airstrip at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

As had become custom for all airship passengers and crew only “full-humans” were allowed to fly these majestic craft (the exception being hybrids working directly for the Committee). Needless to say since the loss of the Roma in February of 1922 all who boarded were checked and re-checked for any possible Martian connections. Contacts with hybrids did not necessarily disqualify one for service or travel on one of these airships but special permission was required. Once an individual was on the approved fly list travel could be obtained relatively easily. This security protocol had worked well for better than fifteen years. We knew we had to be perfect 100 percent of the time. The Martian terrorists had to be successful only once. Their time came in May of 1937.

Despite the increasingly rough weather from the ground the ship did not appear to have a real problem as it majestically floated towards the mooring mast with the ground crew dutifully standing by to stable the craft. Also standing by was a young radio reporter on his first assignment from WLS Upper-Chicago. Herb Morrison was about to become known as the man on the spot when humanity lost its greatest airship of all time.

“Here it comes, ladies and gentlemen, and what a sight it is, a thrilling one, a marvelous sight. It is coming down out of the sky pointed toward us, and toward the mooring mast. The mighty diesel motors roar, the propellers biting into the air. No one wonders that the great floating palace can travel through the air at such a speed with these powerful motors behind it.”

It was 7:20 p.m. as the great airship slid in level to the ground at 200 feet. Only 700 feet to go to the most. As lines dropped the ground crew ran to seize the lines.

At 7:25 the ship was stationary at 75 feet and seemed to fill the sky with its shining silver surface. There was an almost imperceptible shutter as two crew-members stationed to see the Number 4 after gas cell around 50 feet above them saw the ‘event’. A bright red flash of light suddenly appeared inside the cell; this was quickly followed by a huge yellow ball of fire as the men found themselves surrounded by flame. The ship would be nearly totally consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds! One crewman screamed: “The ship’s burning!”

 

P
Hindenburg crashing

Within seconds as the rear of the airship exploded with flame, a 100 foot tongue of yellow flame pushed out of the noise. If they had understood before what was happening in the rear of the craft all now the great airship was doomed as passengers and crew began jumping out of windows. One of the survivors would report “a scene from a medieval picture of hell.”

Terrified ground crew began to run yet Chief Boatswain Fred Tobin would have none of it. “Navy men, stand fast! We’ve got to get those people out of there.” With the Navy’s courageous efforts 62 people would survive this disaster with only 36 losing their lives. Dr. Eckener would later write, “It appeared to me the hopeless end of a great dream, a kind of end of the world.”

It was not the end of the world but it did spell the end of airship travel, at least as far as Earth was concerned. These great ships of the air were far too susceptible to sabotage and Martian intrigues. Investigators would discover that this was no accident but a carefully planned attack by Martian hybrids. And, once again, the general public was dutifully informed that despite the dramatic loss of the Hindenburg it was only a tragic accident most likely caused by static discharge from the local violent weather compounded by the poor use of a gas which made the Hindenburg a magnificent floating death-trap.

 

Los Angeles Times – 7 May 1937

ZEPPELIN BLAST KILLS THIRTY-FIVE

Giant Dirigible Blazing Wreak

Airship Blows Up on Its Arrival at Lakehurst Airport From Germany

 

LAKEHURST (N.J.) May 6. (AP) Germany’s great silver Hindenburg, the world’s largest dirigible, was ripped apart by an explosion tonight that sent her crumbling to the naval landing field a flaming wreck with horrible death to about a third of those aboard her.

Exactly how many died was still in dispute as the flames licked clean the twisted, telescoped skeleton of the airship that put out from Germany seventy-six hours before on its opening trip of the 1937 passenger season.

What caused the fearful blast, just at the moment the great craft was being moored, no one knew. The explosion occurred at the rear and some observers believed a spark of static electricity following a mooring rope from the ground set off the highly inflammable hydrogen. Other reports indicated a backfiring motor might have sent a flash of flame into a minute gas leak.

Then came the terrible explosion and a brilliant red flames suddenly splashed out toward the stern and the rudder. The detonation tore the ship as if it were made of paper. The tail dropped earthward. The blunt nose bobbed up, hung a moment in the air and then crumpled toward the field, flames running along its sides and its fabric flaking off in big chunks.

The explosion occurred in the No. 2 gas cell toward the stern of the ship, according to State Aviation Commissioner Gill Robb Wilson, who called the blast strange.

As with the Roma attack in 1922 the Committee was soon “working the problem.” Teams were sent to insure that the event was “properly reported.” Other teams were soon tracing leads to which group of hybrids had been responsible for the attack. No one at the Committee believed it could have been an accident or an attack by anyone other than a group of hybrid terrorists. Within weeks some 83 hybrids had been captured and interrogated. By the end of Committee work to uncover the ‘truth’ some 219 hybrids were “lost to intense interrogation,” before we had enough information to identify those who had bombed the airship. All of those involved soon found their way to one of our ‘hotels’ and before long to our underground firing squads. Trials for suspected terrorist hybrids had gone the way of the dinosaur.

We were still taking matters into own hands with no public oversight. (For the record the Committee had organized an internal review group but it was tasked to make recommendations with no actual power to change policy. That was still firmly held in the hands of the Magic Twelve.) I could only wonder how long the Committee could hold on to this much power and control. And what would be the end result when and if the general public understood the price humanity had paid for its recovery from the First Martian War. We were beginning to lose our way but no one at the highest levels seemed to notice. And if they did no one, including myself, voiced a single word of decent.

Since the Hindenburg disaster had been published as a very unfortunate ‘accident’ there was no reason to inform the public of the latest hybrid roundup. No connection was to be made in the public mind. For the public it was to stay a terrible accident – case closed.

[END PART 57]

Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020

[Next week: Part 58: Upper-New York, Defense 1 in orbit and briefing papers.]