DAY TEN: 11 September 1938
By the tenth day the Martians ended their attacks on geologic targets. All efforts from this point on were directed at humans and any facilities they had built especially communications networks and our cities. Nevertheless, the damage already inflicted on the planet was substantial as earthquakes, massive rains with flooding, torrential winds, high energy lightening and massive volcanic eruptions continued to impact much of Earth. What they had set in motion even though things seemed to be leveling off a bit was to last for years.
Much of our wireless traffic was still being blocked by Martian interference. By radio, only burst messages were getting through, and only about half of them were being received. Our efforts depended on keeping the lines of communication open in order to coordinate as much of our defenses as humanly possible. By accident or design we had lost several primary cable links as well as many connecting lines. Both central Pacific and Atlantic cables were no longer operational. Land based cables seemed to be holding up very well as we were still able to coordinate much of our military efforts. Our submarine forces were still able to send and receive messages but near Martian controlled coast lines the Martians had placed devices in the water which were interfering with our underwater communications. That was unexpected but not a major problem at least for now.
There was at least one very good piece of news coming into the Committee from numerous sources. As far as we were able to learn not one of our natural tunnel facilities reworked to house and hide hundreds of thousands of people – none – had been discovered by the fast moving Martian forces! Naturally it was not known if our luck would hold but we would take what we could get. Messages by secure cable were sent to all of our natural facilities reminding them to keep radio silent and stay in their facilities for the very reason that Martian rear forces were all over the place and if they located any of these protective tunnels Martian front line forces would be expected to return to these facilities and destroy all they could. This was not to say the people in these tunnels were defenseless – they were not. Many had military or police training and were very well armed but mostly with hand held weapons up to and including machine guns and small rocket launchers. Nevertheless, doing battle with Martians in these tunnels would be extremely costly in lives lost. The best prospect for survival was to stay ‘buried’ in place and wait things out while continuing to be vigilant and monitor radio broadcasts.
It was confirmed on this day that humans, possibly thousands of them brought from Mars were presently fighting alongside Martian hybrids and Bs in Central America, Southern Africa and China. Orders were confirmed to capture as many as possible by Committee forces but not at the cost of lives. National military forces were forwarded this new information but none of them indicated that capture was an option. Understandably the lives of ‘Earth men’ came first. This day also saw the first substantiated claims of rear area Martian forces using abandoned motor vehicles and trains to transport troops and equipment. Most of these reports indicated the vehicles were being driven by hybrids and Martian Bs. With this new information in hand Committee and national forces were ordered to destroy as many of these vehicles as they could when they retreated. Anything the Martians could use was to be destroyed including rail lines. In several areas where humans were deployed with the Martians, language teams using loudspeakers began propaganda broadcasts directed towards the humans.
The Korean Mars Traps were working and damned well at that. The only problem was there were not nearly enough of them. As the Martians hit the defense layers on the outskirts of Seoul they encountered the traps and took no effort to avoid them. If they had suspected these were traps reports indicated the Martians simply moved right into these tunnels which were collapsed on them and without pause – as before – continued to move over their own dead. This was becoming the norm for Martian ground forces. What was not normal was the Martians fielding no flying machines during the first heavy ground assault on Seoul. This was the first attack on a major city conducted without Martian air cover. This was seen as certain proof the Martians were defiantly losing more of their air forces than they had planned. At the same time Korean fighters were hitting Martian ground forces with artillery and tank fire backed by dozens of bombers flying in defense of Seoul from air bases south of the city around Osan. So heavily bombed were some areas around the city it resembled the surface of the moon even though it was covered by snow. The Martians were at the gates of the Korean capital but they had yet to enter the city.
Inside Seoul, Korea
Secure cable report from COM 6 to Pusan relay to Titan at Auckland: MARTIANS ATTACKING SEOUL WITHOUT AIR COVER. HEAVY FIGHTING NORTH AND EAST. TRAPS ACTIVATED. HOLDING. HEAVY, MEDIUM, LIGHT WALKERS DEPLOYED WITH HEAT RAYS SUPPORTED BY BLACK SMOKE.
Martian tactics seemed to make another change on this day. Taking well defended cities or heavily defended mountain areas, even when successful was taking a great toll on their ground forces as well as their limited supporting air forces. Martian ground forces were beginning to slow their relentless advances on several fronts even though most were still moving forward. The combination of slower advances and seeming reluctance to ‘take’ cities and simply cut them off spoke volumes as to their need to husband their limited resources. This so-called “pause in the war” would give many of our forces an opportunity to re-group and re-enforce. In some places, notably west of Moscow, the United States borders and China, Martian forces were actually stopped. The question was why and what were we to expect when the other shoe dropped? It was not long before we had our answer.
THE BLACK SMOKE KILLING FIELDS
Almost as one, reports came into Committee Headquarters faster than we could read them – that was not new. What was new were reports which were almost identical. Sources world-wide were indicating Martian air operations pulling away from supporting ground attacks in the middle of their efforts in effect giving up on the air war. It seemed the skies had been mostly cleared of all Martian Flying Machines even in areas where desperate battles were continuing. We could see no reason for the Martians to pull their air forces out of the battle completely even though they were still losing at least some of their war craft.
Losing no time commanders immediately increased their air support and bombing missions on Martian front lines as well as some known supply points taking advantage of the “open skies”. No matter why the Martians had suspended their air war we would continue ours. It must be said this temporary air advantage did allow our ground forces the opportunity to halt and in some cases push back some Martian forces but no one thought this advantage would last for long – it didn’t.
Around six hours into the ‘pause’ radars both north and south began picking up several waves of Martian Flying Machines were spotted sweeping out of the ice towards every major land mass on Earth. Some of these machines headed for cities but most were tracked flying towards areas where large masses of people had fled. Fear had driven millions from their homes across vast areas of Earth, as waves of human refugees ran for their lives before the Martians. In an operation lasting all evening and long into the night Martians flew missions dropping thousands upon thousands of Black Smoke bombs on fleeing civilians caught in the open. We now realized the murderous attack on India had only been a test. It was estimated these Black Smoke bomb runs on this day alone killed at least ten million mostly in the central plains of China, India, central USSR, vast open areas of East Asia, Central America, central Africa and the eastern United States. After dropping their deadly bombs these machines simply hit as many areas as they could with murderous Heat-Rays. These attacks were clearly intended to kill as many people as possible with the least amount of Martian forces engaged. They had also targeted great herds of wild animals in several areas. These attacks did not go unchallenged.
These murderous attacks would cost the Martians another 218 flying machines and would constitute their final massed air assault of the early part of the war. This was thought to have been a last ditch effort to inflict massive casualties on humanity while the Martians still possessed the air resources to pull it off. At this point no Martian attack on any front could be supported by more than a few dozen machines. It seemed we had crippled their air capabilities. Devastating to human lives as these attacks had been they appeared to have cost the Martians the air war over planet Earth.
The species which had flown powered aircraft for the first time less than 40 years earlier had reclaimed the greatly damaged skies over Earth. Even with that said our remaining air combat forces were nowhere near strong enough to win a ground war. The final victory for the battle of Earth was still very much an open question. Nevertheless, one thing was very clear: at the moment humanity was still losing! The Martians had conquered hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory and killed millions in a frighteningly short period of time.
DAY ELEVEN: 12 September 1938
Heavy Earth bombers continued to attack ground supply points and massed ground troops in Martian held areas protected by Jet fighters. Medium losses in bombers were due to Martian ground based Heat-Rays but several supply depots and staging areas were destroyed. North and west of London a major line of Martian walking machines had formed and moving to contact the outskirts of London. As our forces attacked the center of the Martian line of advance Martian scout walkers were already engaged in combat with British, Commonwealth and Committee forces in and around the north New London area.
Having once again braved the streets to report on the Battle of Upper-London reporter Edward R. Murrow had made his way back to the underground headquarters of the International Press Office (IPO) to write and then broadcast his report on the efforts to battle the Martians which had come from many directions to attack a city they had known so well in 1901. Our efforts to engage and neutralize Martian radio interference were beginning to show some promise but not well enough. Murrow had to record his report and send it to America by cable.
“Good evening. This is Edward R. Murrow speaking. This is New London calling.
“Once again the Martian horde has attacked this world city as they had in 1901. As before, the attacks have been relentless, the effects devastating. There has been much lost even before the Martians are able to properly enter the city. But this time there is a real difference. This time there will be no retreat. This time the famous stiff upper lip of the people of London will not be turned for this is not 1901 this is 1938. This time the people of London and their military forces have the men and the equipment to do the job and they have met the enemy magnificently. This will not be the easy Martian walkthrough of 1901. This time the people of London will stand and fight and they will continue to fight until the last Martian machine is beaten into silence. This time the people of London expect to win. It is clearly seen on their grim but determined faces.
“Looking west towards the outskirts of the city it is possible to see several Martian Walking Machines in a hard battle line, gleaming in the dull Sun of a fall afternoon. Their Heat-Rays are pulsing, their cowed heads turning this way and then the other like some massive prehistoric beast. But these fearsome machines are not moving forward along the line. For these machines have met the British Army re-enforced by Committee forces as well as auxiliary members from the civilian corps. The fire from these forces pours onto the Martians and it is overwhelming. Forcing the Martians to at first stop they now slowly retreat as round after round finds its mark. First one then another learns what terrestrial tank and cannon fire can do when fired from a determined force which is unwilling to retreat – not a single step.
“As two rounds explode into the face of the center machine a cry goes up. ‘One down. Go left, go left.’ Fire now comes from less than half the battery with fewer than six tanks remaining in the fight conveying their relentless and dogged attack upon the second machine. It too feels the might of terrestrial weapons staggering and then crashing into several buildings which had barely stood now exploding as the ground before them trembles. Once again the cry goes forth, ‘Shift fire right, to the right.’ The final Martian in the line now seems confused firing above its enemy. Seemingly it cannot find a target in its confusion. These are after all not super beings they are as mortal as our own and that mortality is about to be assured.
“Then it is suddenly over as five tanks fire as one. Not a battle plan it just happened that way. As the roar passes our ears we look to see an astonishing sight. The third Martian machine is hit by no fewer than four of the rounds simultaneously, splits in two and explodes before our very eyes. Silence calls its siren.
“That was how one small corner of the beginning battle for New London was being fought today. The war continues as the Martians are made to pay for every street, every cobblestone and every section of this once grand city. This time the people of New London were ready and it will be the Martians who will know what it means to be defeated even though it will be some time before they can be made to learn that lesson. But it is a bloody lesson the people of New London along with many around the world are determined to teach every last Martian they can find. The battle for New London will continue.
New London evacuates
“This is Edward R. Murrow reporting. And this is New London calling.”
As the Martians pressed their attacks the British Parliament, now holding their sessions in reinforced offices in Lower-London, refused to leave their capital city, continuing to coordinate all activities to defend New London and other British held areas. Throughout England the Martians would battle the determined efforts by these forces brought to bear on the enemy.
From an embattled New London Wells reported, “The houses caved in as they dissolved at its touch, and darted out flames; the trees changed to fire with a roar. So you understand the roaring wave of fear that swept through the greatest city in the world just as Monday was dawning – the stream of flight rising swiftly to a torrent, lashing in a foaming tumult round the railway stations. Did they dream they might exterminate us?”
Earlier in the day we lost contact with ‘Neptune’ on board CS Indian Ocean thought at the time to be stationed south of Ceylon near Addu Atoll. After no word was received during the next twelve hours command of the Indian Ocean submarine fleet was transferred to the ‘Prince’ on board the CS Star Fish which had been standing by at our Sea Cave facility B7 in Colombo, Ceylon. The new ‘Neptune’ immediately sailed out of B7 to a point off the coast of Ceylon and submerged. We never discovered what happened to the CS Indian Ocean as no sightings of wreckage were ever reported – the command submarine and all of her crew simply vanished into the fog of war.
In several areas of Europe, Asia, North and South America small special operations teams began operating in rear areas controlled by Martians. For the most part their targets were small operation centers and Martian supply depots.
ATOMIC BOMB BLAST AT LOS ALAMOS
“The Bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.”
Admiral William Daniel Leahy to Director C
We had our test even though it was not the way we would have wished. The Tunguska West team knew they had precious little time to complete work on the second “gadget.” They had the fuel-set detonator and they had all of the sections and individual pieces necessary to complete the work. What they did not have was enough time to test all of the components before building the thing. The war was coming closer to the test site and if battle reports could be believed they could expect an attack at any time. They had to work fast – too fast.
Project supervisor Dr. John Sadler sent an urgent wire to Lower-New York City for instructions. He was informed the Committee was sending a special ground team to extract the gadget and they needed to hold out for at least twelve hours. The extraction team would need to make their way to the test site by ground because they did not have enough secure air assets to send and for that matter they did not have complete air superiority to guarantee they could arrive safely by air transport.
Dr. Sadler knew that the team could not arrive in time so it would be up to him to make the decision. With this knowledge he quickly called in his team to explain the situation. He told them that under no circumstances was he going to allow the Martians to capture the weapon. He ordered the team members to evacuate the complex and leave the device and the detonator with him. However, because this was against Committee orders Project Chief Engineer Robert McFarland told Dr. Sadler he would have to stay as well and disobey the order to leave. The bomb area was a “no lone zone” and no one was authorized to be alone with the bomb and the detonator. There was no time to argue so Sadler reluctantly agreed as he reached out to shake his friend’s hand.
With the rest of the team heading southeast as fast as they could Sadler and McFarland finished the assembly work and stood by for the expected attack. They held the cable line open so they could report as much as they could before the Martians came on. They wanted headquarters to get the word that they had completed the assembly. After that McFarland picked up the phone and made direct voice contact with Lower-New York City. He knew the Martians were probably listening, but it no longer mattered. There was nothing the Martians could do now that the bomb was ready so they just waited. They did not have to wait for long.
Nearly three hours after Tunguska West was deserted by most of the West team Sadler and McFarland could hear the unmistakable hum of the Martian Flying Machines. Six of the big steel monsters had broken through the northern defense lines and were heading directly at West. The open radar screen showed they were headed right at them. They must have somehow discovered the importance of this out of the way desert location, most likely by intercepting radio transmitters. But for them it was too late. The detonator was now in place. The bomb was ready to fire. Sadler got back on the phone which had been kept open for a direct report to Lower-New York City, which was also being picked up by Lower-London. He reported that the six machines were making their run at West and that he intended to detonate the weapon when they got close enough. TV cameras set up in the desert would show the result.
Tunguska West explodes
The next sound heard on the other end of the line was a sharp high-pitched squeal. The Committee had their atomic bomb test as it evaporated the test facility known as Tunguska West, along with Sadler, McFarland and six brand new Martian Flying Machines in one shot. We knew then the bomb we had spent so many years developing had actually worked. That meant the one heading south would probably work as well. The Martians now understood we mere humans had a weapon of tremendous energy even though it was nowhere near as powerful as their super bomb, but what they did not know was just how few of these weapons we had. Needless to say, they were about to find out! They may not respect humans, but they had no choice but to respect our new atomic bomb. News of the successful ‘test’ was flashed to the carrier CS Horizon as it continued to sail south ready to receive our only other assembled atomic weapon and deliver it to the team which was assigned to ‘deliver’ the weapon to the Martians in the high Antarctic ice. In three hours the weapon would be on board. Four hours after that the team assigned to bomb the target would be on their way.
The ‘test’ at Tunguska West had also destroyed the unassembled parts of three other bombs. At this point the only complete yet unassembled bomb was secured in a deep level Tesla laboratory in Lower-New York City. It was now in the process of being assembled as fast as possible.
THE GROUND WAR CONTINUES
As war raged the Committee continued to coordinate with national governments to press the fight against the Martians. Despite a continuing effort by Martian forces to isolate large pockets of humanity our overlapping communication facilities were still keeping our efforts linked. The weight of the Martian attacks had weakened our capabilities but had not destroyed them.
At about the same time we were ‘testing’ our bomb at Tunguska West the Martians deployed 25 flying machines to drop Red-Weed on captured areas in northern cold zones in Canada and China in some of the remotest places on the planet. Seismic devices were also dropped on several cable lines knocking out many of them as we began to use several back-up systems. There was a very large group of targets of opportunity for the enemy to focus on.
Earlier Ham Radio operators had sent thousands of spot reports on Martian movements costing many of them their lives as the Martians locked their weapons in on their equipment. Now they were being asked to relay as fast as they could even more vital military information around the world. These ‘civilians,’ many very young or very old, performed magnificently under very trying conditions. However, even this method would soon prove difficult as the Martians continued to jam any and all types of wireless communication. It would take some time however, before they got even close to taking out our valiant Ham operators who were getting better at working around the Martian jamming while all the time hiding their radios and themselves.
ZEUS FLASH: TO ALL COMMANDS: MARTIAN LANDINGS AT AMSTERDAM, HAMBURG, GDANSK, RIGA ARE RE-ENFORCED AND ADVANCING SOUTH AND SOUTH WEST. LANDINGS AT SEVILLE AND VALENCIA ONGOING.
Deadly ground assaults continued around the world as the Martians continued to create human slave labor and Martian feeding camps while depositing supplies at strong points along the path of their machines. Hybrids and Grays as well as hundreds of humans brought from Mars were guarding the humans and supplies in their rear areas. Martians were just beginning to spray crops and general vegetation with a Red Fungus never before seen which wiped out much of the local food supplies and general vegetation as they continue ground operations leaving a desiccated wasteland in their wake. Our anti-Red Weed chemicals were having only limited effect on this new threat. We would later discover that in large enough concentrations this fungus could be deadly to humans and animals alike. Before we could counter this new threat we needed to acquire a sample. This was exactly what one team of Canadian Eskimo fighters would set out to accomplish in North Central Canada.
On this day United States and Committee bombers begin a massive 24 hour bombing attack with a mixture of high explosives, nerve gas and jellied gasoline on Martian ground forces along a line from Bismarck to Duluth. Our bombers were escorted to their targets by Phoenix IIs and Thunder Jets. And even while these aircraft meet limited Martian Flying Machines ground based Heat-Ray attacks took a deadly toll on our bombers shooting down 275 of them. The atmosphere of Earth still under attack from volcanic and massive fire debris adding to the Martian attacks from the ground made it still a very deadly place in which to operate.
As we charted Martian advances across China it was clear one of our three Prime Mineral Locations (PML3) code named ‘Harry’ was now in Martian territory. Fighting around the deep underground facility had been brutal with no word on whether it had been sealed off from the Martians before the area was overtaken. If the facility was taken undamaged the Martians now possessed a large new supply of processed uranium. Orders went out to destroy the opening to the facility at all costs.
With Martians pressing hard but moving slowly against the Americans defending their southern border Apollo ordered our ‘Vaults for Mankind’ facility at San Antonio, Texas, code named ‘Blue’ explosively sealed in the wake of local Martian attacks. The facility was built to hold mostly fine art and related items. If captured and destroyed it could have been a great loss. It would now be safe from Martian grasp – at least for a while.
New landings on this day were made between Dublin and Belfast in Ireland, Sicily south of Athens, Crete, Cyprus, and southern Turkey. In the Southern Hemisphere there were no new landings reported. However the Martians continued to push north on all fronts including India, southern Africa, all of Madagascar, South America, Australia, and well across Indonesia. The only good news reported was an indication that Martian ground operations world-wide appeared to be slowing. A lack of air cover was one of the problems they now clearly faced. Nevertheless, despite their air losses humanity was still losing ground – only at a slower pace.
Destroyed city in China
From several occupied areas reports were coming into headquarters mostly by cable that despite large areas having been overrun by Martian ground forces stay-behind units were having some effect on the war effort, most notably in central Canada, northern China and southern Africa. Although reports were spotty and rarely complete we understood these guerrilla units had in fact attacked and destroyed Martian supply depots, repair facilities and in one case in China a slave labor camp west of Peking had been retaken by guerrilla units supported by Chinese regulars cut off from their units. Several thousand prisoners had been released. During this attack several humans born on Mars and fighting with the Martians were captured. They also reported the Martian B commander of the camp had been captured and hung from a lamp post. Isolated outposts were holding on as best they could.
In Russia stay-behind units which could be contacted had been given new orders. They were to re-group and in as large of numbers as possible hit rear units in direct support of forward Martian lines rather than attacking rear area occupation forces.
In Manchuria near Chilin several Calvary units of irregular troops had formed and were conducting hit and run raids on Martian supply depots as well as raids on several ground radar and Heat-Ray outposts. Their efforts had so far been quite successful causing several front line Martian units to be re-deployed to counter attack.
This was also the first time in the war Committee psychological operations units were able to deploy leaflets by air on enemy units. The “target audiences” were humans brought from Mars who were actively fighting for the Martians. The leaflets reminded these individuals of their Earth heritage and “invited” them to “come back into the fold of humanity.” They were to be given amnesty for any fighting they had done for their “Martian masters” and would be fully protected from harm – at least from any human harm. It would be a while before any real result could be known from these efforts. These units were however still engaged in radio deception operations which had caused numerous attacks on false targets by the Martians. Radio jamming had also been somewhat effective on both sides of the war.
The people of London were meeting the enemy as magnificently as they had in 1901. As he had done during the First Martian War the Second Martian War again found a much older Herbert Wells reporting from the front lines of the New London effort side-by-side with Earth’s military forces in a life and death struggle with the Martians. Wells had left his secure and not uncomfortable offices below ground to gain a firsthand look at events on the surface. Radio reports were one thing, but firsthand knowledge was always the key to fully understanding events. And so it was that Wells and his ever present squad of security officers made their way to the front. Finding a communications line he plugged into one of the outlets of the secure underground telephone lines and began to report back to the Martian War Room deep under the battling outskirts of the city of New London. His report heard, beginning in mid sentence, seemed almost familiar as it beckoned us back to 1901.
“…it was this howling and firing of the guns at Ripley and St. George’s Hill that we had heard at Upper Halliford. The Ripley gunners, unseasoned artillery volunteers who ought never to have been placed in such a position, fired one wild, premature, ineffectual volley, and bolted on horse and foot through the deserted village, while the Martian, without using his Heat-Ray, walked serenely over their guns, stepped gingerly among them, passed in front of them, and so came unexpectedly upon the guns in Painshill Park, which he destroyed.
“The St. George’s Hill men, however, were better led or of a better mettle. Hidden by a pine wood as they were, they seem to have been quite unsuspected by the Martian nearest to them. They laid their guns as deliberately as if they had been on parade, and fired at about a thousand yards’ range.
“The shells flashed all round him, and he was seen to advance a few paces, stagger, and go down. Everybody yelled together, and the guns were reloaded in frantic haste. The overthrown Martian set up a prolonged ululation, and immediately a second glittering giant, answering him, appeared over the trees to the south. It would seem that a leg of the tripod had been smashed by one of the shells. The whole of the second volley flew wide of the Martian on the ground, and, simultaneously, both his companions brought their Heat-Rays to bear on the battery. The ammunition blew up, the pine trees all about the guns flashed into fire and only one or two of the men who were already running over the crest of the hill escaped.
“After this it would seem that the three took counsel together and halted, and the scouts who were watching them report that they remained absolutely stationary for the next half hour. The Martian who had been overthrown crawled tediously out of his hood, a small brown figure, oddly suggestive from that distance of a speck of blight, and apparently engaged in the repair of his support. About nine he had finished, for his cowl was then seen above the trees again.
“It was a few minutes past nine that night when these three sentinels were joined by four other Martians, each carrying a thick black tube. A similar tube was handed to each of the three, and the seven proceeded to distribute themselves at equal distances along a curved line between St. George’s Hill, Weybridge, and the village of Send, southwest of Ripley.”
Later that day the small team made their way to a second location near a small waterway where the Martians were once again engaging Earth forces led by the British Army. Once again only part of the report made it through to the Committee.
“…but the Martian machine took no more notice for the moment of the people running this way and that than a man would of the confusion of ants in a nest against which his foot has kicked. When, half suffocated, I raised my head above water, the Martian’s hood pointed at the batteries that were still firing across the river, and as it advanced it swung loose what must have been the generator of the Heat-Ray.
“In another moment it was on the bank, and in a stride wading halfway across. The knees of its foremost legs bent at the farther bank, and in another moment it had raised itself to its full height again, close to the village of Shepperton. Forthwith the six guns which, unknown to anyone on the right bank, had been hidden behind the outskirts of that village, fired simultaneously. The sudden near concussion, the last close upon the first, made my heart jump. The monster was already raising the case generating the Heat-Ray as the first shell burst six yards above the hood.
“I gave a cry of astonishment. I saw and thought nothing of the other four Martian monsters; my attention was riveted upon the nearer incident. Simultaneously two other shells burst in the air near the body as the hood twisted round in time to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell.
“The shell burst clean in the face of the Thing. The hood bulged, flashed, was whirled off in a dozen tattered fragments of red flesh and glittering metal.
“Hit!’ shouted I, with something between a scream and a cheer.
“I heard answering shouts from the people in the water about me. I could have leaped out of the water with that momentary exultation.
“The decapitated colossus reeled like a drunken giant; but it did not fall over. It recovered its balance by a miracle and, no longer heeding its steps and with the camera that fired the Heat-Ray now rigidly upheld, it reeled swiftly upon Shepperton. The living intelligence, the Martian within the hood, was slain and splashed to the four winds of heaven, and the Thing was now but a mere intricate device of metal whirling to destruction. It drove along in a straight line, incapable of guidance. It struck the tower of Shepperton Church, smashing it down as the impact of a battering ram might have done, swerved aside, blundered on and collapsed with tremendous force into the river out of my sight.
“A violent explosion shook the air, and a spout of water, steam, mud, and shattered metal shot far up into the sky. As the camera of the Heat-Ray hit the water, the latter had immediately flashed into steam. In another moment a huge wave, like a muddy tidal bore but almost scalding hot, came sweeping round the bend upstream. I saw people struggling shoreward, and heard their screaming and shouting faintly above the seething and roar of the Martian’s collapse.
“For a moment I heeded nothing of the heat, forgot the patent need of self-preservation. I splashed through the tumultuous water, pushing aside a man in black to do so, until I could see round the bend. Half a dozen deserted boats pitched aimlessly upon the confusion of the waves. The fallen Martian came into sight downstream, lying across the river, and for the most part submerged.
“Thick clouds of steam were pouring off the wreckage, and through the tumultuously whirling wisps I could see, intermittently and vaguely, the gigantic limbs churning the water and flinging a splash and spray of mud and froth into the air. The tentacles swayed and struck like living arms, and, save for the helpless purposelessness of these movements, it was as if some wounded thing were struggling for its life amid the waves. Enormous quantities of a ruddy-brown fluid were spurting up in noisy jets out of the machine.”
Just before the small headquarters’ team was able to make their way back to the relative security of Lower-London Wells would be able to file one last report from a still working phone line.
“…and beyond, over the blue hills that rise southward of the river, the glittering Martians went to and fro, calmly and methodically spreading their poison cloud over this patch of country and then over that, laying it again with their steam jets when it had served its purpose, and taking possession of the conquered country. They do not seem to have aimed at extermination so much as at complete demoralization and the destruction of any opposition. They exploded any stores of powder they came upon, cut every telegraph, and wrecked the railways here and there. They were hamstringing mankind.
“They seemed in no hurry to extend the field of their operations, and did not come beyond the central part of east London all that day. It is possible that a very considerable number of people in New London stuck to their houses through Monday morning. Certain it is that many died at home suffocated by the Black Smoke.”
OPERATION MARS PRIME
(ATTACKS ON MARTIAN COMMAND BASES)
All command groups involved in the attacks on Martian Command Centers flashed their readiness to begin the operation. The most critical coordinated attack of the war was about to take off. They would be timed to hit each of their targets at the same time. It was time to strike at the very heart of the enemies’ operational centers.
POSIDON FLASH: TO APOLLO: PACKAGE READY FOR DELIVERY.
TRITON FLASH: TO APOLLO: ALL PACKAGES READY FOR DELIVERY.
ZEUS FLASH: TO APOLLO: PACKAGES ARE GO FOR DELIVERY.
APOLLO FLASH: TO POSIDON, TRITON, ZEUS: DELIVER PACKAGES IN SEQUENCE – BRAVO, ALPHA, TANGO. GOOD LUCK AND GOOD HUNTING.
ARCTIC COMMAND BASE MISSION
The Arctic portion of the daring three pronged attack was simple and direct. Strong air forces would take-off from five American air bases, two American carriers and two Japanese carriers in a direct assault on the Martian base at the North Pole. The first team launched from American bases outside of Boston, Providence and New York City manned by American, Canadian and Committee pilots consisted of 95 Phoenix IIs and 118 Thunder Jets escorting 259 Whitehead B4 heavy bombers grouped for the flight north over Grand Falls, Newfoundland. There they were met by 25 Phoenix IIs and 24 Thunder Jets from the carriers USS Ranger and USS Wasp. All of the aircraft carried extra fuel tanks (except the Phoenix IIs which did not need them) allowing them to fly all the way to the pole and back. If they could not make it home due to fuel or other problems two crude back-up landing strips had been designated at Baker Lake just north west of Hudson Bay. If the pilot made it to the Baker Lake area a team of Canadian Eskimo rescue forces would attempt a pick-up. Because this northern attack group had the longest flight they took off first.
The second group launched 385 Whitehead B4 heavy bombers supported by 55 Phoenix IIs and 85 Thunder Jets from bases in Anchorage and Whitehorse rendezvous over Point Barrow in Alaskan Territory. There they linked up with 25 Phoenix IIs and 20 Thunder Jets launched from Japanese carriers Zuikaka and Shokaku. Both teams would be lead by Phoenix IIA pioneer aircraft designed and equipped to navigate to pin-point targets. They would send out a tight energy beam to their rear to be followed by attacking waves of aircraft.
The combined total of well over 1000 combat aircraft made this the largest bombing mission of the war and one of the most critical as well as one of the most hazardous. Martian Flying Machines even though they were now limited in numbers were expected to fight these groups all the way in. And even when our bombers were on target they were expecting to encounter at least 60 land-based Heat-Rays in defense of the Martian base. These Heat-Rays would be the first targets of every Thunder Jet in the group and secondary targets of every Phoenix II but only after they were hopefully able to gain temporary air superiority over the pole.
The Thunder Jets would go in first in two waves of at least 100 fighters each to attack the Heat-Rays. Their run would be followed by the Phoenix IIs. Directly behind the Phoenix IIs three wings of heavy bombers in groups of over 200 each would begin their bomb runs. The first two groups were loaded with conventional high explosive bombs. The last group was loaded with Tesla’s version of seismic devices – some 1000 of them in total to finish the job of breaking up the ice. The objective was to literally sink every Martian structure at the base which unfortunately included the human holding cages in the center of the facility. Nothing was to be left on the surface. If the bombing did not completely destroy the facility the fighters were to continue strafing runs as long as their fuel would allow. This was to be a maximum effort.
Beyond having to fight their way in and beating back any Martian attack these pilots would be flying into an Arctic night made even more treacherous by tremendously bad weather they would encounter all the way in and if they survived all the way back home. It would be a two edged sword as we would need terrible weather as cover for most of the mission.
ANTARCTIC COMMAND BASE MISSION
When H-George Davis volunteered to pilot the modified Phoenix IIA to carry the bomb naturally there was grave concern. Not for his piloting or navigated skills of course as these were not an issue since he was one of the best available. The problem was whether people would support or trust a hybrid to pilot the only aircraft on Earth armed with the only assembled and ready Atomic Bomb? With this in mind the Committee decided that a fully human pilot would be sent along with Davis. It was only one more cover-up/lie and since they had complete trust in H-George the members knew the job would be done with or without the support of a “full human”. Besides, it was felt by some of the Committee at the highest level that only a hybrid could get close enough to the Martian base to set it off. They seemed to know where ‘they’ were even if the Martians could not actually be seen. Very close contact with the base was necessary. A close call would not get the job done. Needless to say, the Committee had a backup plan in case anything went wrong, but the crew of the Phoenix IIA was not in on that particular secret.
The light aircraft carrier CS Horizon got the job of delivering the bomber and two backups to the launch point off the coast of Antarctica. The carrier was one of the fastest in the fleet with one of the most experienced crews. At least that had been the original plan to launch as close to the coast of Antarctica as possible but time was running out. As soon as the bomb was safely on board the Horizon crew began preparing the modified Phoenix IIA to carry the bomb. The job would take a little over three hours to load, check, test and re-test the weapon. During that time the CS Horizon sailed at flank speed due south towards the icy continent of Antarctica. Air cover was triple layered with Phoenix IIs and Thunder Jets keeping a very close eye open for enemy air attacks.
Just before the group to bomb the southern Martian base took off the CS Horizon received word the northern group were on their way to the pole. They had sent their best wishes. Now it was their turn to fly. The Horizon turned into the wind and launched five modified Phoenix IIAs of which only one would carry a bomb. The other four were loaded with Tesla Heat-Rays, air-to-air rockets and radar jamming devices. Flying in a diamond five formation it was going to be a long flight mostly at low levels close to the ice covered ground. And even though it was spring in the Southern Hemisphere and daylight conditions vast amounts of airborne debris made for a foggy dust covered sky not much better than dusk on Mars.
Flying high cover for this mission were 28 Phoenix IIs flying along the same flight path as the low flying atomic bomb run team. However, this group would fly only as far south as the SPDL before turning west towards Palmer Peninsula for a hit-and-run attack on a small Martian base located along side the Antarctic mountain range. Their primary mission was to decoy any Martian Flying Machines away from the bomb group and towards the peninsula by attacking the Martian outpost and flying high enough to be seen. After that mission they would fly north to attack Martian ground targets at Tierra del Fuego continuing their decoy mission.
For the rest of the flight south the bomb group was on its own. One ground point the pilots who had been extensively briefed on the area expected to easily see was the Weddell Sea. When they flew over the Weddell Sea before heading into Antarctica they were expecting to be flying over an open ocean – they were not. The Weddell Sea was now a solid mass of ice.
GIZA COMMAND BASE MISSION
Because they were much closer to their target than the polar attack groups the team assigned to hit the Martian Control Center at Giza would be the last to set out on their bomb run. The team had assembled two groups of heavy bombers backed by Phoenix IIs and Thunder Jets from air bases outside of Rome, Italy and north of Belgrade.
They would however, not be the first to attack the center. Waiting off-shore were four Committee submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. Each of these subs had two Unmanned Gyro Stabilized Biplanes (USGB) mounted on their decks. The submarines were scheduled to launch all eight 2000 lb flying bombs at Giza just before the bombers flew over their positions. Tesla’s team had ‘programmed’ these unmanned flying bombs the same way he had done for his 1899 test boats but with a good deal more sophistication than he had available in those early years. (He had taken much from back engineered Martian technology and was about to send some of it back to the Martians.) Tesla was certain he could hit the center of the Martian complex within 100 feet with these devices. If I were the enemy I would not have bet against him.
For now all these men could do was stand by for the launch order. When given 310 Whitehead B4 bombers, 118 Phoenix IIs and 150 Thunder Jets would be on their way to the Giza Plateau with orders to “wipe it off the map!” The ancient pyramids and the rest of the structures at Giza would need to be sacrificed along with a great many other areas if we were to defeat the Martian horde.
Martian primary attacks and occupied territories – 12 September 1938
[END PART 68]
Copyright © R. Michael Gordon, 2020