Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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"MEN of the American Army," said the grizzled old General Hunt into the microphone, "we are on the eve of the last desperate effort to gain back our land from the invader. Also, in all other nations, armies are crouched to leap tonight. We must destroy the invader or die; and if we die, the human race dies with us. Our home, the Earth, will belong to the Martians."
The small bulb awakened yellow glimmers from the insignia on the General's tall, firm figure. It revealed also the mud walls of the adobe hut which served as headquarters. His young adjutant sat on the floor on a roll of blankets. On a rough bench near him waited a calm, elderly man in civilian clothes, holding in his hand a bunch of white cards covered with notes. Outside was night, and in that night were thousands of desperate men, so well hidden that even by day, a plane flying low over the country could not discover them. In mud huts, in iron huts covered with sand, in dugouts, in caves, for twenty miles east and twenty miles west, groups of men were huddled about radio speakers, listening. They were big, tanned men, splendidly developed physically; the finest specimens of manhood that the world had seen for ages. Rocks, dirt-colored canvas, baked mud huts, heaps of New Mexico mesquite and cactus covered stacks of weapons and ammunition and countless aeroplanes. Everything was ready for an attack flight on a few moments' notice.
The General's message to the men gathered in their hot hiding places continued.
For a while, Lieutenant Gary, the General's adjutant, was intent on his chief's words. Then a far away look came into his eyes. From his pocket he took the photograph of a beautiful girl and gazed at it awhile. For a moment the general's voice was lost to him as the bright eyes from the photograph gazed into his own. What would the morrow bring forth? Would he ever see her again? The chances looked slim in the light of what he already knew of the story that was to be told over the radio. Yet he comforted himself with the knowledge that she had a little weapon and knew how to use it; and in case these cold fragile Martians won the day, he was calmly confident that she had the courage to account for several of them before she turned it against herself.
"We have two more hours," the general went on; "too short a time for sleep. The Staff has felt it wise, before we go over the top, for you young men to know better what we are fighting for. Once this was a happy land and we terrestrial humans owned it, lived on it, and prospered gloriously. In order that your hands may strike harder as the new day breaks tomorrow, I want you to learn the details of how the invaders took the Earth away from us, and how it comes about today that there are only a few handfuls of us left on the deserts.
"Dr. Wren, who has spent a lifetime studying the history of the Martian invasion, will talk to you until it is time for us to start, and will give you an account of how these invaders came to our Earth and took it away from us. Dr. Wren!"
The general's voice stopped. A rustle sounded in the countless speakers scattered over the deserts and prairies. Then began a clear voice, perfectly intelligible, never loud; one could picture its speaker as a calm and learned man, for it never hesitated; it was colored just enough to avoid monotony. It never rose to excitement, never left the matter-of-fact level.
Here is the story it told:
DURING the Golden Age, just before the Dark Epoch, there was a great deal of fanciful fiction written around the possible conquest of the Earth by Martians. It consisted largely of fantastic tales of weird, pseudo-human monsters wracking terrific ravages with machines, rays, and other destructive agencies, and sweeping aside mankind with an easy gesture. When the invasion and conquest really came, it was so different from what had been imagined, that it was not recognized for several generations. Yet, it was all so simple—as one looks back one sees that it was the only possible and probable thing—so simple that it requires no scientist to imagine it. It could all have been predicted by a person of good common sense.
Early one morning, four hundred years ago, Otto Hergenrader, the pilot of a transcontinental mail plane saw beneath him from the height of 4,000 feet, what appeared to be a splash in the Amargosa Desert in Nevada, which he was then crossing. It appeared so unusual that he looped around it and passed it again at the height of three hundred feet. It was indeed a splash; but a huge one, several hundred feet across. In the middle of its depression stood a dark object which looked like a huge projectile from a cannon, cylindrical, with a cone-shaped top, and black and rusty looking. About it slowly moved a number of smaller figures.
Hergenrader, on mail schedule, could not stop; but he radioed the news promptly as he flew on his way. The first man to land on the spot was Larry O'Brien, a reporter on The Salt Lake City Tribune, who caught the message in his plane, not a score of miles from the place. O'Brien's headlined article in the Tribune has become a historic document, though it was written in poor English and gave practically no information of any value. It described the tall, rusty-looking, shell-like mass, and the slow, pale people who came out of it. They spoke weakly, and showed him a diagram composed of black circles and dots on a white sheet. But he could make nothing of them, nor could anyone who read his article, which went on to describe the gathering of the nondescript throng about the object and its inhabitants. The arrival of troops by aeroplane and the roping off of the space from the crowd, the springing up of lunch-counters and pop-stands in the desert in a few hours, came in later paragraphs. By evening, a dozen scientific men from the Universities of four states were there. These required only a few minutes to deduce that a space vehicle from Mars had arrived. The names of these scientists and of the President who later entertained the Martians are moldering away in some hidden archives; but popular memory has preserved those of Hergenrader and O'Brien as the discoverers of the Martian vessel.
Within a few hours the scientific men had established a sort of rudimentary communication with the arrivals from Mars; and the mutual learning of each other's language began to progress rapidly. But the President did not wait for complete understanding by the spoken word before he set up a great banquet to welcome the planetary visitors to the Earth. It was held in Washington, the second day after their arrival. Speeches were made in both languages and sketchily interpreted by both sides, and great masses of newspaper reports of the occasion exist to this day.
The general public was astonished to learn the next morning that the Martians were people just like we are. They had faces and spoke and ate. They had no pear-shaped heads nor barrel chests. About the only differences were that they were much paler than we, and moved slowly and uncomfortably. Otherwise they were as human as any of us. Many special newspaper and magazine articles appeared to explain that ours was the only possible form that intelligent beings could assume, because the same natural laws operated throughout the solar system or the universe, and on Mars these laws have the same materials to work with. Intelligence requires a large brain; this brain requires a locomotor and a nutritional apparatus to support it; these mechanisms were all developed from the same primordial slime on Mars as on Earth and went through the same steps. While theoretically other evolutionary body forms are possible, they could not be stable; while they have existed transiently, they had to make room for the more stable forms.
When the Martians started off to their planet, with a roar of discharging blasts and a hurricane of sand, after a stay of two weeks of welcoming, feasting, oratory, and scientific conferences, they carried half a dozen Earth people with them. Just whose desire this was, is not known, but as the Martians had spoken inspiringly of vast, unimaginable wonders back on their planet, there were more volunteers for the trip than there could possibly be room for. They were eager to go, in spite of the warnings of the scientific men that they could not survive long on Mars. These travellers never returned, nor were they ever heard of again. The Martians could not be blamed, for they had managed to convey to the scientific men of our race that two generations of selected individuals had been reared and trained for the expedition from Mars to Earth, under proper conditions, in order that they might survive the terrestrial environment.
Following the Martians' departure, we can imagine people all over the Earth alert for rusty cylinders in desert places, and watching the red planet through telescopes and wondering about future visits. We can deduce that their interest finally played out and was transferred to other matters, so that, for most of them before the Martians came again, it passed out of their memories and had been replaced by the sensational things with which their news agencies constantly supplied them. Eleven years later, when a huge meteor was seen to fall in the sand-hill region of western Nebraska, no one thought of Martians. Only when Dr. Condra arrived from the State University the next morning in search of the meteor, was the whole memory of the first visit revived.
Apparently Dr. Condra, of whom little other record remains, was a man eminently fitted to greet the visitors and pilot them around through prominent places and present them to representative personages. Their white faces and slow, rhythmic steps were soon seen in the high places of business and government, and even in society; and everywhere on the movie-screen and illustrated periodical page; and that was true not only on this continent but also in Europe. Whereas, the first visitors remained two weeks, the second remained two months.
A situation developed which must have caused the Martians to consider our social and economic organization of the time a curious phenomenon. The Martians approached President Francisco of the United States, having ascertained him to be the highest personage in the nation on the soil of which they had first stepped, and offered him gifts, which consisted of some tons of rare metals, as tokens of appreciation of their fine reception and symbols of friendship. These metals such as tungsten, iridium, beryllium, etc., were expensive, and yet were in great demand in industry. Much public discussion followed in newspapers and magazines, most of which, still available today, looks very strange and illogical to us. The President could not accept the metals as a personal gift. He stated that he served his visitors only in his official capacity. Had he not taken this position, had he accepted the gifts personally, a storm of criticism would have flung him high and wide. Nor could anyone find any legal authority or precedent for his accepting the gift on behalf of any government or other public organization for the purpose of giving its benefits to all the people. The Martians insisted that the gift was to our people, and for such a thing no legal channels existed.
A brilliant thinker, whose name has now been forgotten, suggested that the benefit would best be transferred on to the people if the business concerns which needed the metals were permitted to purchase them at a low price. This idea was hailed with delight, and a lowering of prices was at once announced on fountain-pens, watches, electrical bulbs, radios, and similar commodities. The money was paid over to the Martians in various kinds of legal tender; and they accepted it with much interest and curiosity. Honorary citizenships were conferred upon them in this country, and titles of nobility, in other countries.
Shortly afterward they took their departure.
There was another Martian visit three or four years later, with much better understanding between guests and hosts and more precious "gifts" of rare metals. The guests appeared publicly in most cities, and almost every person saw them personally before they left. Within the next fifteen years, rusty cylinders and white faced, slow-moving tourists were so common that they ceased to excite more than passing attention. Many people on Earth learned the Martian tongue, a difficult feat but an exhilarating exercise for the mind. The Martians learned about buying and selling, and a trade in rare metals sprang up between the two planets. People were glad to get low prices on the commodities requiring the rare metals, the manufacturers of these commodities made money; and the Martians who sold the metals made money. Soon several of the Martians who had acquired considerable terrestrial wealth were well known, and numerous honorary citizenships had been presented to Martian people.
Considerable worry promptly arose among economists in regard to the one-sided trade, all the money leaving terrestrial hands and getting into Martian hands. A number of books on that point are still preserved. But apparently the problem did not last long, for the Martians began to spend their money. That was logical, for it was of no use to them unless they did. Many people considered it odd that their first purchases should have consisted of real-estate.
The first transfer of property into Martian hands has been traced through the deed recording offices in New York and has been reconstructed from contemporary records. When two white-faced strangers stepped into the Metropolitan Real Estate offices one June morning late in the twentieth century, the manager had not the least idea that the deal he was consummating marked the beginning of a fearful era for the world. He only felt a keen delight in the speed with which the transaction was closed, and in the excellent price in cash which he received for "Le Soleil," his choicest and most modern apartment building facing Central Park. By this time, Martians appeared so frequently in almost all cities that they went about the streets without awaking more than a momentary glance of curiosity. So, it may be surmised that no one paid much attention when gradually, always plausibly, one tenant after another moved out of "Le Soleil" and one Martian after another moved in. This is also a deduction. No comments appear in historical sources upon the matter.
It was a good many years later, in the first decade of the twenty first century, that the episode of Jonathan Heape called attention to what was really happening, and even then the general public failed to take it seriously. The following is from Jore's "Sources of the Martian Era."
Jonathan Heape was a retired farmer who enjoyed living in the city. He was a hard-headed son of the soil, who thought that the old-fashioned aeroplane was good enough, and refused to ride in the newfangled passenger rockets. For some eleven years he and his wife had occupied one of a row of cottages in Côte d'Or, a new suburb of St. Louis. When a Martian approached him, offering first a generous and then a fabulous price for his cottage, Jonathan Heape first roared NO, and then told the Martian to go to hell and that he'd be damned if he'd sell his house, and finally shoved the Martian down the front steps. He stormed around vociferating against "the pesticatin' critters, worse than vermin!"
But Heape noted that for several blocks up and down the street on both sides of his house, the inhabitants of the houses had moved out and Martians had moved in; and soon no one was seen in the street except those white-faced people.
"We're the only white people left," said Jonathan six weeks later.
"They're whiter than you," his wife objected.
"I'll be damned if I move out!" Jonathan growled.
He found his obduracy uncomfortable. First, the sight of the "lumbering" Martians with their bleached faces taking possession of the street irritated him. Then there was the cold. The Martians had some method of refrigeration which kept the whole neighborhood at the low temperature which they seemed to prefer; and Heape had to keep his furnace going in mid-summer. Next was the twilight. How they managed to keep the whole neighborhood partly darkened all day, Heape could not imagine, but it annoyed him. Then the constant excitement that pervaded the formerly peaceful suburb, one big public occasion after another, that he never understood, going on all the time, made him indeed uncomfortable.
The Martians finally got at him legally. They incorporated the suburb and made certain "modern equipment" required in each home.
The "modern equipment" was purely Martian in nature and totally incomprehensible to Heape. But he was stubborn enough and sufficiently well off to fight them when they went after him legally. He stood up in court, fiercely pushing away the hand of his lawyer who tried to hold him down, and made a crude but impassioned speech that has remained a classic ever since.
"The people of this country 'ud better look out!" he shouted. "If you don't wake up to what's comin' you'll all be pushed off the Earth, like I'm bein'. How many of their ships have landed on the Earth in the last forty years? I've counted 'em up. Six thousand! Surprises you, don't it? Surprised me. How many ships are there on Earth today? Nary a one. These guys have moved in here to stay. Aha! Surprises you, don't it? How many of these clumsy, paper-faced vermin are there in Côte d'Or now? I've counted two hundred. And how many other towns are they buttin' into? Hell only knows. You people'd better look out. Honored visitors! Bah! Honorary citizenship! Plah!" He spat on the floor in their direction.
Everyone was sorry for the poor old man, embittered by the loss of the home to which his sclerosing tissues had become unalterably accustomed. But the law was so unequivocal on the point that the jury was forced to decide against him. He received a court order to "modernize" his house or move out. He went out of the courtroom storming that he'd see them new-fangled gadgets in hell before he'd move out. The affair dragged along for several weeks more, and ended tragically.
He refused to move. The sheriff came over to remonstrate with him in person, though the sheriff's sympathies were with Heape. Heape turned on the sheriff.
"Their money has bought you too!" he roared. "They bought the court—"
"You know that isn't true," the sheriff said sadly. "The judge and the jury were both sorry. They tried everything to stretch things for you. But the law was too clear; there was no hope."
Heape grew angrier, but the sheriff had his orders. He called on his deputies and began moving out furniture. A crowd of Martians gathered about outdoors and watched. Heape got out an old shot gun and loaded it deliberately in plain sight of everyone. Then he gave them ten to get out, and began counting.
"One—two—three." Both Earth men and Martians held their breath and remained motionless, everybody tense as a drumhead. The deputies began to move more slowly, and to edge toward the door.
The sheriff slowly drew his pistol.
Suddenly Heape grew limp; his gun clattered to the floor and he crumpled on top of it. When they reached him he was dead. A post mortem examination failed to clear up the question as to whether he had died from conventional heart failure, or whether the Martians had killed him by some secret, subtle method.
A glance at the newspaper files of the next hundred years shows such small struggles to have been numerous, but the public did not recognize their trend or significance. The isolated individual like Jonathan Heape recognized it because it hit him hard in his everyday life; but the general masses of people ignored it. As time went on, the conflicts increased in magnitude and violence.
For instance, in 2047, Rawlings, a garage owner, patented a device for exerting traction from an automobile motor directly upon the road, without the intervention of transmission and wheels. He had gotten the idea from the Martians, and had begun to wax wealthy in manufacturing his device. The Martians claimed it and sued him in the courts, but lost the case. They retired gracefully enough, apparently. But a year later Rawlings failed financially and committed suicide, because the Martians had put on the market a device much better and cheaper than his. This is one of the rare instances of an organized Martian group taking part in any kind of business dealings with the terrestrials. Usually they shunned business and remained aloof.
Other conflicts were more gruesome. Fights over women especially were common. The Earth women liked the Martians, who though weak, were good looking, and certainly had an effective way with the ladies. One of the earliest discoverable records comes from the "Denver Post," because the scene created in the civic center of that city made a rare news scoop. A Mrs. Yardley, wife of a high school coach had become enamoured of a Martian, a rather no-account fellow among his own race. Yardley followed his wife one night and saw them meet. He stepped out and confronted them. The Martian carried the usual attitude of insolent superiority, and Yardley, infuriated, let go at the Martian with his fist.
The first blow split the Martian's head wide open, but Yardley hit him three more times before he fell, and broke several bones. It was a crowded hour and a throng gathered instantly. In this crowd were two Martians, who immediately called the police and filed a complaint.
Yardley was found guilty but given a light sentence.
On one occasion in El Reno, Oklahoma, a Martian was found taking a fifteen-year-old Terrestrial girl with him. A lynch mob gathered promptly, intending to hang him, but by the time they got to the chosen tree, only a few fragments of him were left in different people's hands. Through the agency of the Martians in the community, the "leaders" of the mob were tried and sentenced to the usual punishment.
In Boston, the Martians bought up several acres of land surrounding the Bunker Hill monument, though the site of the monument itself was beyond their reach. No one noticed what was happening until the venerated relic of the Revolutionary War was so completely surrounded by densely inhabited Martian territory, the people disliked to try to get through to visit the monument. Societies were organized for the purpose of reclaiming the monument. Whether any clear explanation was ever made to the Martians of the significance of the spot is not known, but lawsuits dragged on for years. On the day of the final unfavorable decision of the courts against the League of American Patriots, a mob gathered and marched through the Martian quarters. Many Martians who happened to be in its path were killed; buildings were fired, and there was a great deal of shooting and destruction. Suddenly the mob began to crumple. In a few short minutes, all of them were dead, blackened, scorched. This is the first record of the use by the Martians of the short-wave pistol.
Near the middle of the twenty-first century, the Martians sold the secret of this short-wave pistol to Terrestrial manufacturers. It must have been a paying proposition, for immense numbers of them were sold, and the Terrestrial manufacturers became quite wealthy. Whether or not the Martians ever considered that their weapons might be turned against them is a matter of conjecture; but this happened soon. It was again a dispute over property, this time in Minnesota. A large tract of wooded land north of Minneapolis, originally a huge French estate, was purchased by Martians. The latter began to clear off the pine woods and to drain the lakes, and to turn the country into one of the painted deserts in which they preferred to live.
The Minnesota people were indignant at the butchering of their beloved landscape, and protested. The Martians insisted upon the right which their deeds to the property gave them. Then, a clever attorney found in the abstracts of title an ancient and forgotten provision that the land could not pass out of the hands of the family in any way as long as an heir was living, except into State hands for taxes. An heir was found and the courts began to grind. They ground for several years, by which time the Martians had built a great many huge, scattered buildings upon it. The courts decided against the Martians, and ordered the property sold back to the original owner.
The Martians refused. A sheriff was empowered to remove them forcibly, and granted the aid of the Minnesota National Guard. The vindictiveness with which the "removal" was carried out was striking. The troops were outnumbered by civilian helpers, armed with all sorts of weapons, ancient and modern, but short-wave pistols predominated. A few Martians escaped from the territory; most of them were "accidentally" killed. The buildings were all dynamited. When the troops and the mob left, water was flowing back into the lakes and the soil was all turned up, ready for pine trees to grow again.
Such examples as the above illustrate the individual isolated instances of how the Martian infiltration and the Terrestrial resistance came into conflict. But it was a hundred years before the masses of the people as a whole became conscious of what was going on. It was not until the end of the second century after the first landing of the Martians, that this conflict was carried into politics and legislation. Paul Arnac, a Frenchman, was the first to make a public issue out of it. He introduced into the International Senate, a bill to restrict immigration of the Martians. His presentation speech sums up the situation fairly well as it existed at the time.
"Today," said M. Arnac, "there are Martian 'quarters' in all of our large cities. These 'quarters' are neat, orderly, modern, yes. But they are increasingly pushing out our own people.
"Gentlemen, you may not see it as clearly as I do, but our race is going to have to fight for its existence, and my bill is the first gun.
"I have the highest respect for the individual Martian gentlemen whom I know personally. I know Martians who teach in our schools; I know Martians who have reached high positions in the medical, legal, and engineering professions; I feel that we ought to consider ourselves complimented because they have chosen to throw their lot with us and live our life. Among my best and most respected friends are the two honorable Martian Members of this august Senate, who have so won the confidence of the Earth people as to be elected to one of the highest political honors that the Earth can give.
"But such Martians are exceptions. The masses of them do not mingle with us. They keep to themselves and look down upon us as children, with a patronizing attitude. Sometimes it seems that they are too busy—God knows with what—to have time for us. What is it all about, their activity? Their building, their machinery? I'm sure I do not know.
"They consider our money system a disgrace, though they condescend to use it in dealing with us. But if one of them gets rich and puts up a country estate or manufactures racing cars or yachts or planes, he is an outcast and considered a degenerate.
"If one of them marries a terrestrial partner, he is an outcast and a pariah to be spat upon and ground under the heel. He is not permitted to associate with or live among their better classes in their own sections. The children of these bi-racial unions are the worst outcasts of all, accepted by neither race. They already form a class by themselves which presents a terrible problem. They are physically unfit for labor and are not accepted among the intellectual classes; they sink into the utmost depths of degradation. I shudder to think of them. What shall we do with them?
"The loss of life in racial clashes, the moral degradation produced among our people by the Martian Screens, the havoc wrought among our youth who learn the habits of excitement and emotional indulgence from them—all these things have been terrible enough. They are going to be worse!"
Arnac's bill called for a complete barring of immigrants for twenty five years, and then for admitting a thousand per year thereafter for fifty years, and then the question was to be reopened. There was much excited speaking. It is rather surprising to find in the records that only a limited number of Senators saw the handwriting on the wall; most were against the bill. One even fought it on the ground that the Martians had a much higher rate of sickness and death among them than we did, and required immigrants to keep up their numbers, calling attention to the increase of our own wealth and prosperity as a result of what the Martians had brought us; and to the new views of life and the expanded horizon for the intellect and the emotions that the Martians had taught us.
Arnac's bill was hopelessly defeated. Arnac himself spent the rest of his life collecting information and writing books upon the Martian problem. A small pamphlet which he published eight years after the defeat of his bill presents proof that forty members of that particular session of the Senate displayed a sudden and extensive increase in wealth quite promptly after the bill failed to pass the Senate. However, the hostility and resentment against the Martians gradually spread among the Earth people, for many reasons. One of them was the Screen of Life. The Martians were after money. They wanted money in order to acquire property peacefully and legally. They sold for money many of the secrets of their higher civilization, for many of which we Earth people were not far enough advanced, either physically or mentally. It seems very silly to us of the present day that our ancestors should have been victims to such a silly thing as the Screen of Life. But remember that physical existence was comfortable in those days; food and clothing were not hard to get, and men were not as hard physically nor as upright as we today. Yet the mental aspect of life was difficult. People were under severe mental strain; far more mental strain than we, scattered thinly over the desert, can realize. In their cities was strenuous competition, every man against every other; not physically, but in a subtle economic sense, which was more unmerciful and terrifying than physical combat, and the struggle had no end in life, except for the rich.
It is not surprising, if we understand how harassed they were mentally, though comfortable physically, that they should grasp at opportunities for momentary forgetfulness. The Screen of Life afforded such an escape from the realities of the present moment, for which the Terrestrial people seemed to be willing to pay all they had. It was a little apparatus, which, if supplied with special batteries produced on an opalescent screen pictures out of the past, out of what purported to be the future, or out of pure fancy. The general trend of these pictures could be controlled by the operator, but to them, the apparatus itself added a glamour of emotional, sensational surprise that thrilled the beholder beyond measure. People with well-balanced minds were upset by these things; once seen they could not be forgotten. Only a portion of the Earth people who once became accustomed to gazing at the Screen of Life, could ever break their habit, a great many of them found its attraction so strong they could not give it up. They gave all they had for the machine and for the constant supply of batteries necessary to operate it; for the Terrestrials never mastered the secret of manufacturing either. Addicts would spend hours and days watching the Screen in a sort of half-conscious trance, totally oblivious and indifferent to what was going on. The habit was worse than any drink or drug habit that the human race has ever known; able business and professional men became degenerates who stared stuperously at Screens all day, and lost all they had. They were outcasts among their own people, and were despised by the Martians. But they cared nothing about their disgrace or their starving families; they clung to the oblivion of their Screens. All legal efforts to prohibit the manufacture or sale of these Screens failed because influential people were making too much money out of it.
During all of this period, although warnings ought to have been obvious, the masses were indifferent to the Martian encroachment. The average person does not like to be disturbed in the even tenor of his everyday life, unless by something sudden and startling; it was a long succession of small details.
Inter-racial fights, some of them extensive enough to be termed wars, were numerous. It is difficult to know which to call the first war, because the conflicts began as small affairs and increased gradually. But between 2099 and 2101 the Martians were driven completely out of Australia by a terrific struggle that cost the lives of three millions of people and most of the Martians who lived there. For several years the Australians waited in armed and fortified terror for retaliation from the rest of the Martians on Earth. Nothing startling ever happened; but twenty-five years later there are records of Martians occupying portions of cities there.
In 2131, Castigli became famous as a humorist. So beloved were his witty remarks and his laughing sympathy with human follies and weaknesses among the masses of the people, that they were not satisfied to hear him on the radio and see him on the television screens; he had to appear personally before his devoted admirers. For three years he was kept busy traveling by aeroplane from Alaska to Buenos Aires. Off the stage, he was a timid, humble man; he never became wealthy. He was just a natural born troubadour of the twenty-second century, and audiences idolized him throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Martians arrested him one day because he had landed in a Martian restricted area and caused disorder thereby gathering a crowd. Technically he was guilty. Not being able to pay a huge fine, he was thrown into prison. Had his admirers known, they would promptly have raised millions to pay his fine; but the matter was kept quiet. His free, roaming nature could not stand prison confinement and he committed suicide. Then the news came out.
In one night, the people of the Western continents rose against the Martians. They had learned by this time how brittle the Martian bodies were, and how easy it was to kill a Martian with a blow of a fist or a stick. Martian houses were broken into, and Martians were killed at meals and in bed. Martian deaths predominated at first. But by dawn the disturbers had everywhere been surrounded by organized groups of Martians. Many of them were brought into court and hundreds punished for all crimes, from disturbing the peace to first-degree murder. Both races suffered from this terrible blundering thing, which is merely a single example of how impossible it is for two differing races to live independently side by side; and the awful losses and sufferings that occur for no reason at all when they try to do so.
While the general trend of the story is a general crowding ahead of the Martians decade after decade, each generation of Martians gaining and Terrestrials losing, yet the Terrestrials in their struggles won some brilliant victories. If the Martians keep a history, they undoubtedly give in it a position of great honor to a military leader of theirs whom our literature calls Bare Head. This name was given to him by Terrestrials because his skin was able to develop sufficient pigment to enable him to go without a hat.
This is the story of Bare Head. The Martians were later getting into the southeastern States than elsewhere, because they did not like the heat and moisture. They also fared worse there because the Southerners did not take patiently to them. They did not win impartial decisions in the courts. About 2150 there was considerable distress there; uprisings were frequent and violent, and the whole section was put under military rule from Washington. Military camps were dotted through Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.
There was great indignation among the terrestrial population when quietly, gradually, with no one knowing how or when, a Martian army materialized in the midst of them, in the old Oglethorpe country. The Martian Army said nothing, did nothing—merely remained quietly on the spot while the civil and military authorities attempted to restore peace. But the Earth people became suspicious, and one morning the Martians found themselves surrounded by a dense ring of troops, artillery, aeroplanes and tanks. The Martians formed a circle, and old Bare Head could be seen through the field-glasses here and there among his men, who cheered him as he went by. For some two hours the two sides faced each other without a move or sound. Then suddenly an aeroplane appeared from the north, going like a bullet at five-hundred miles per hour. Within two minutes some kind of Martian ray had brought it down, but not before it had shot a rocket bomb into the middle of the Martian camp which blew out a huge, smoking crater.
For some time the superior weapons of the Martians told. Attack after attack of the Earth soldiers was repulsed, and thousands of them were slain in a few minutes as they attempted to close in. But after several repulses, the aeroplanes closed in above and the tanks below, and while old Bare Head rushed back and forth about his camp, the bombs rained in until nothing was left of the Martian post but a plowed and smoking field. Among the few Martian bodies recognizable was that of Bare Head.
At the end of the twenty-second century there arose the first of the line of Prophets. Just as in ancient Israel, these Prophets saw; and they preached and wrote and stormed. At this more modern age, their appeal was not so much to the emotions as to the intellect, by sound argument and scientific observation. The first of these great men whose name went down to posterity was Ansel Roosenhaas, who left behind him 147 books and 3,000 magazine articles, and who traveled and lectured constantly, trying to awaken the Terrestrial race.
"There are now ten exclusively Martian cities scattered over the earth," wrote Roosenhaas in 2197. "There, the Martians own all the real estate, having legally purchased it. Just as a restricted suburb is kept free from undesirable tenants, these Martians are excluding Terrestrials. They cannot legally forbid us from visiting their cities; but outside of casual visits, every other Terrestrial presence or activity is barred; and there are many quarters to which no Earth visitor penetrates.
"We must admit these cities are beautiful places, bright, airy, and soaring, in marked contrast to our own ponderous, dreary and, confused conglomerations. If we could only profit by them and incorporate into our own cities the openness and cleanliness, the harmony! But do we? No!
"Our people use these cities as resorts for emotional stimulation of the most dangerous type. The Martian food and drink seems like something from Heaven. They have become a goal for which our citizens neglect their business and their patriotic duty—for the sake of which they spend all their time and money in the Martian cities.
"I am positive that the Martians do not welcome our people in their cities. They do not like our intemperate way of partaking of their emotional indulgences. There is a great physiological difference between Earth men and Martians. The latter have a highly developed intellect, and their emotions are under such rigid control that they are hard to arouse. The Martian needs powerful stimuli to give his emotions sway and afford him enjoyment. (It is a curious fact that many of these visitors comment on the fact that there is a large proportion of hospitals in these cities).
"When the Earth people indulge in these stimuli: the food, the drink, the music, the Screens and the sex associations, their emotions blaze up in a fire that sweeps away all intellectual restraint. This, of course, is disastrous to the welfare of the individual, and ultimately to the welfare of the race. Once begun, our people find it impossible to stop the downward rush; they become slaves to their emotions. The only way to avoid destruction is to stay away from the initial stimulus that produces the emotional conflagration.
"Even the Martians succumb to their own emotional indulgences, and they have a relatively high proportion of illness among them, because their constitutions are less rugged than ours. The reason that the majority avoid illness is because they have sufficient self-control to know just how far to go and where to stop.
"The love relationship is specially disastrous to our people. Among Martians, love has become quite separated from reproduction, and is purely a social matter. The women of their better classes are so beautiful that a mere glance at them sweeps away the emotions of the Terrestrial beholder. The only ones among our own people who are able to see Martian women, and to behold them impersonally and retain their self-control are our artists and scientific men. The average man does foolish things when he comes near one of these lovely creatures from the other planet. Most frequently it is one-sided. These beautiful women scorn the Earth men, while the Martians are very hostile to any attention that is paid to their women.
"Marriage between Earth men and an inferior type of Martian women occurred from the earliest days of the infiltration, but received nothing but contempt from both races, and produced the class of half-breeds which now constitutes such a serious problem. Of course, there have been exceptions in these inter-racial matches, but they merely prove the rule. Such is that of Betty Benson, daughter of the Secretary of State a hundred years ago. She had an affair with an officer high up in some Martian company. She was a popular girl and the public took a great interest in the details of her life. All attempts to dissuade her from her Martian lover's side failed; she remained devoted to him. One day they appeared together at a huge public picnic, and gradually a mob gathered about them. There was considerable danger that her Martian lover might be injured by the carelessly wrought up mob; Martian bodies stood up very poorly under mob violence. Betty Benson put him behind her against a wall and protected him with her own body until the proper officials arrived to marry them on the spot.
"Usually, when Earth men of a high type do come into contact with the highly-cultured Martian women, inter-racial affaires result which are usually illegal. The reverse occurs, though somewhat less frequently; cultured earth women in liaison with high-class Martian men. For a hundred years there have been endless complications and scandals, and even fights and killings. By this time, the Martian love technic has become pretty common knowledge among the leisure class of Terrestrials; and our psychologists and sociologists consider it one of the greatest misfortunes that has ever occurred to us.
"Martian love-making is an intense, intoxicating storm of passionate indulgence of the emotions, a fire of beauty, poetry, and spirituality that the human heart has never before known in its history. But, it is one-sided. It affects the Martians only passingly. Their cold emotional organization is barely stirred. But it is too much for our own emotional structure. In Terrestrials it changes the whole life-tenor of an individual; it renders him unfit to do the work of the world. He can never forget it, and never be at peace again. It is gradually breaking up the best business, professional, and scientific elements of our race."
This is the end of Roosenhaas' remarks as I quote them; though I may add that the Martians became somewhat more emotional later. Possibly the greater percentage of oxygen in our atmosphere or the greater intensity of ultraviolet radiation that reaches us, speeded up their metabolism somewhat. But the harm to our people was done.
In spite of the storming of the Prophets, the early twenty-second century saw the Martians outnumbering the original Earth inhabitants. So gradually did the increase come that our people did not realize what was happening until long after they were in the minority. By that time nothing much could be done about it, and certainly nothing was done. For nearly a century, the Terrestrials lay dormant, in a sort of stupor. History records no great names, no great events. What people thought or did has been lost in the stream of time. We can only know that when the twenty-third century began, the Martians owned most of the Earth, having acquired it peacefully and legally. As a general rule, the Earth people had voluntarily sold out their own birthright for some sort of indulgence. We know that by this time there were numerous Universities scattered over the Earth's surface, exclusively for Terrestrial students. The young people of the Earth's race went there and were educated at Martian expense in all the ancient learning and modern technology of the Martians: thought reading, emotional control, associational focusing, atomic dynamics, space manipulation, transformation of matter. Some of them graduated and took their places in Martian civilization and became adopted among the Martian race. This was just the reverse of the situation two hundred years before, when we were adopting a sprinkling of Martian scientists, teachers, and professional men. The Terrestrial graduates were quite absorbed among the Martians and were lost to their own people.
The great majority of them went back to our own people; and before they reached maturity, forgot most of the things they had learned, or retained only the pernicious and undesirable portions of them. Only rare exceptions among the Terrestrial race had the constitution to live the high-strung life of the Martians. They did not like the Martian culture that they had learned. Again, among the records of these young people, we find records of comments upon the prevalence of illness among the Martians; a type of emaciation combined with feverish activity and staring eyes that was most gruesomely unpleasant to nonmedical people.
During the twenty-third century there were developed over the Earth's surface several areas which were reserved as the exclusive right and property of the Earth people. The American Southwest (the Martians preferred colder regions), North Africa, much of the East Indies were exclusively Terrestrial and rarely visited by the Martians though they supported and maintained these regions. There was no denying the fact that the Martians were taking care of the Terrestrials in a patronizing sort of way, educating them, feeding them, paying them for anything on any kind of pretext—for land, royalties for discoveries on the land, etc., as though they felt guilty for having crowded us out of our home in the solar system. In these Terrestrial reservations, the Earth people were free to do as they wished, to cultivate the land, build cities in their own way, and to escape the intense emotional atmosphere which the Martians, unable to live the calm, deliberate Terrestrial life, had set up for themselves. These reservations were pleasant places, into which Terrestrial ideas of landscape beauty had mingled with Martian improvements in architecture and city planning. All the humans that remained on Earth at this time were well off.
What was the reason for the sudden renaissance of the twenty-fourth century? Why did the Earthly race suddenly stir, open its eyes, and awaken to its position and its danger?
"Shall we let this puny, half-sick race crowd us off the Earth?" was the slogan of the time, and it suggested the answer to both of the above questions.
For the Terrestrial race of this period was on a far different physical and mental plane from their ancestors of two centuries ago. They were tall and lithe and tan; their bodies were perfect and powerful. Their minds were keen, alert and intelligent. They were hardy and rarely sick. The transformation had been worked by the Martians, but in a most unexpected way.
The degenerating, softening influences that the Martians had shown us had proved too much for three-fourths of the human race. The laziness, the intoxication of the Screens, the fiery love play, the emasculating food and drink of the Martians had placed our people in an environment which only a relative few had survived.
A billion people had been eliminated from existence in the high strung, Martianized world; and those that were left were the fittest, hardiest worthiest specimens that the human race had ever seen. They represented the best development of which the human mind and body were capable, and everything that Earthly development had given them was reinforced by the desirable things that the advanced culture of the Martians could teach. The force of necessity had taught them to co-operate, instead of fighting among themselves. This new race was capable of saving its home, where the old one could never have done it.
And thus we come down to the organization of the Hoplites. In 2389 was born the man who thirty-five years later brought together the nucleus of the force that tonight intends to dislodge the Martians from our planet, or destroy us all in the attempt. Celsius Modry spent a quiet and contemplative youth, and eventually became Professor of Geology in the Terrestrial University in the Texas Panhandle. It was on his long, lonely expeditions studying rocks among the mountains and deserts with a student or two, that he first evolved the idea of a disciplined organization of young men, modeled after the armies that the world had ceased to need for two hundred years.
Just as the ancient Greek Hoplite represented the best in equipment, as far as arms and armor were concerned, so our Hoplite of today represents the best mental and physical equipment that can be developed by intensive effort. For many years, Modry was content with developing his little organization at his own university. He drilled his young men physically until they were perfect specimens and their organization acted as a perfect unit; he developed them mentally until they were a fair match for the Martians. Yet outwardly, the ostensible purpose of the group was not military—not hostile to the Martians. On the surface, it was a health movement.
The idea spread like the wind. Group after group took it up. Modry abandoned his teaching work and dedicated his life to perfecting and training the various organizations. He worked out a standardized procedure so that a member of a distant group could come into any other group and feel perfectly at home whenever the work started. Most of the members for the first two generations worked enthusiastically and loved the movement because of the benefit it rendered them, and without the least idea that it had any strategic value. And long after Modry was dead, his name was remembered, and his work went on, improving and increasing.
Of course, in secret, Modry had been studying and seeking for a means of waging a successful offensive against the Martians. He died without success, but he left a worthy successor in Saoti Kuwato, who also spent his life trying to bring the work to a focus. It remained for our own General Hunt to define an objective, and prepare to act. He has, as you know, been preparing you and other Hoplites all over the world for the single leap that we are to make at the Martian vital centers tonight. During all these years of planning and drill, of accumulation of stores and weapons, General Hunt has lived in anxiety lest some word betray the hiding places or hint of our plans. But the system of Modry is perfect. Not a Hoplite has proved disloyal. Not a Martian has annoyed us.
Aeroplanes and bombs are ready; men and squadrons are drilled. In South Dakota lies the key city of the Martians. In other continents are other key cities. A sudden destruction of these will disorganize the Martian system long enough to permit us to attack and destroy the panicky remainder. Tomorrow, the Earth is ours, or we are no more!
THE CALM VOICE of Dr. Wren suddenly stopped. The men in the thousands of coverts remained for a while in tense silence. Lieutenant Gary tucked his photograph firmly in a pocket and tightened his heavy belt. The General stepped to the microphone and spoke in a level tone:
"Everyone slip out quietly to your stations now. Buglers remain behind at your receiving set. In ten minutes the bugle will sound here. It will be repeated by the bugler at each post, and it will be your signal to start. Once more I ask you: shall we let this puny, half-sick race crowd us off the Earth?"
It was excitement at the importance of his mission that caused Gary's heart to leap into his mouth when the bugler stepped up to the microphone. As the clear tones pealed forth, the Lieutenant followed the General to the aeroplane from which a covering of canvas and cactus had been removed; and in a moment they were whirring through the night. How cool and quiet after the day's heat it seemed. Did those peaceful stars know that in a few hours bombs would be crashing and blood would be flowing? It seemed to Lieutenant Gary that he and the General might have been in the air alone for all the sights and sounds that reached them, except for the navigator's constant whispering into his transmitter, and the twittering of the dials in front of him. But those dials gave the Lieutenant confidence in the thousands of planes that were spreading fanwise to form a circle about the Martian clot in South Dakota.
Lieutenant Gary would have welcomed action, excitement, trouble. But to sit hour after hour in a plane, expecting every moment to hear the crack of shots from Martians below, or to see some portion of the machinery melt as the result of some invisible ray, or to feel some unknown, unexpected, terrible blow from the science of the Martians, that was unnerving. His heart pounded hard and he could hardly sit in his seat.
According to the navigator, everything was going like clockwork. Not a plane had met with any trouble. All were in correct positions in the formation. When, after the lapse of hours, daybreak finally came, the planes were gathered in a huge circle around the Martian key city. At the General's orders, they hovered, while a few scout planes crept ahead. A deep red light shone through the morning mists from some high spot in the city; it shone for a moment and went out. Again it came and went out. Monotonously this continued; even after the day had become bright, the deep red rays were plainly visible, going on and off. The scouts came back stating that there were no troops, no weapons visible; that one of the planes had purposely exposed itself to draw attention and nothing had happened.
"A trap of some sort," the general muttered. But he gave orders to close in swiftly and drop bombs.
Pinpoints appeared almost simultaneously from all quarters of the sky, and gradually came together until a huge circular cloud of them made a black halo over the city. Lieutenant Gary's eyes were on the ground. Not a Martian was visible anywhere.
The General hurriedly sent out an order to drop no bombs. A hundred planes were ordered to dash across the city and retreat in the opposite directions. Lieutenant Gary saw them streak across like bullets. But not a sign from the city, except the monotonous coming and going of the red light.
"I'm going over myself," the General said.
Lieutenant Gary eyed him in surprise. "They need you!" he exclaimed. "Suppose—please let me go."
"I can't understand it, and I'm going," the General replied. "Kamil Rey will make a good commander in my place if necessary. You may come with me if you wish."
He sent out a call for volunteers, and twenty planes followed him. At a slower speed they flew over the city and looked down. The red light, blinking on and off came from a tall tower. There were things moving. Some automatic conveyors kept up a monotonous procession. Several solar clocks rotated slowly. But nowhere was there a living being.
At a signal, the pilot dropped a small bomb in an open square. With a loud crash it scattered masonry far and wide, and all the planes fled as swiftly as they could gather acceleration. But in a moment they circled back. Not a soul appeared in response to the bomb.
"If it's a trap, they're good sports," General Hunt remarked. "It begins to look suspiciously as though perhaps something else—"
"What?" asked Lieutenant Gary.
"I can't imagine." The General mused abruptly: "We'll land and find out!"
As the signal went out, the twenty planes circled about, looking for a landing place. The General's plane landed in a large, open square near the center of the city. As the General was about to step out, the Lieutenant drew him back and stepped forth ahead of him, running into the open a dozen yards from the plane. He was expecting to drop instantly in his tracks, a charred corpse. But a minute went by and nothing happened, until the General clapped him on the shoulder.
"Good of you," he said, "but not necessary, apparently."
Everything was silent and motionless. They stared warily up the broad, empty street. The Lieutenant ran ahead as they passed each corner or doorway or any place where danger might lurk, until finally the General smiled and ceased to protest.
"I'll be able to tell the young lady that you're game, anyway," he said.
They were startled by a sudden movement and a clicking noise, but it was only some automatic machinery on a standing vehicle. Careful scrutiny showed it to be without occupants. Other groups of Hoplites were scattering in different directions. Ahead of them was a large building with a tall tower, in which the red light went on and off. It did not seem much brighter when they were right under it, than it had from the distance of ten miles. It went monotonously on and off. Just at their elbows was the door of a house.
"I'm going in," Lieutenant Gary said, half-questioningly.
"Yes. We have to find out," the General stated.
They searched the broad rooms and found in one of them a dead Martian, woefully emaciated, with wide staring eyes. In another room, were two more, both dead, one on the floor at the foot of a chair, and one on a sofa.
They waited in front of the building of the tower until other groups arrived.
"Unquestionably the City Hall, or Administration Building," the General remarked. As the search parties came in one by one, they all reported the same—a silent city, with very few inhabitants, and those all dead.
Within the city administration building there was almost none. One was found crouched stiff on a stairway, another, reclining in seeming luxurious comfort on a chair in front of a desk. In one room were several bodies on a cremating apparatus; the cremating had not been done, and the bodies were in an unpleasant condition. In a small room, high in the tower was the corpse of an operator still bent over a tremendously complex communication apparatus of some sort. The vast machinery was not all clear to the Terrestrials, but the microphone mouthpiece was plain, and the message in front of the operator left no possible doubt. In the simple script of the Martians, with which he was familiar, Lieutenant Gary could read the following:
"We advise sending no more colonists to the Earth. The Martian race cannot survive on this planet. There is too much ultra-violet and too much oxygen. It increases our metabolism and burns our skins. The protective measures developed on Mars last one or two generations, but eventually prove futile. Not one family of colonists has ever lasted more than three generations: only the millions shipped over in space vessels have kept up our numbers. Our scientific men have worked hard to find something to protect us, but since colonists have ceased coming our numbers have melted away. In..... (an untranslatable jumble of Martian characters standing for the city they were in), everyone is dead, and soon I shall be. I have left the distress signal on in the tower for three days but I get no reply from any of the other cities. I transmit the warning of the Scientific Council: 'Earth is not for Martians!'"
Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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