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Worlds of Parroom

We are pleased to bring you exerpts from works by the greatest scientists, researchers, and chroniclers of the age. In time we hope to expand our coverage from this meager teaser we offer.

Professor Summerlee’s True Social and Natural History of the Red Planet offers its readers a veritable cornucopia of information about Mars, the cultures inhabiting that planet, and even their military forces. Though it is far too voluminous to present in its entirety, we have some choice selections in the “Mars and Martians” section. Yet, the good professor does not address all matters equally and in some cases we have consulted other sources to provide you with the fullest and most complete presentation.

The masterful Wars of the Worlds, by the renowned historian Herbert G. Wells is the most accessible and detailed account of the Martian invasions and Earth’s retaliatory attack and subsequent colonization of the Red Planet. Peruse the excerpts in the “General History” section. Occasionally we will present snippets of other accounts and, where pertinent, the occassional original document to clarify some aspect of the story.

Naturally, you will have an interest in how military matters stand among the Great Powers, especially on Mars. Drawing heavily from the research notes of Thomas Malone, late of the London Illustrated Times and now editor-in-chief of the Parroom Times-Despatch, we are offering summaries of the Great (and some not-so-great) Powers contending on Parroomin the “Earthmen on Mars” section.

The early period of colonization on Mars is rich in incident and full of colorful characters. We have scoured contemporaneous newspapers, journals, and private accounts to bring you capsule introductions to some of the most notable “Extraordinary personages” who acted upon that great stage of history.

In order to place all this information into context, here is . . .

An Annotated Timeline of History

This timeline, a slightly annotated list of certain events pertaining to the sordid and uplifting history of Parroom Station, is in no way intended to be complete. Readers whose vision of history was not changed by the coming of the Invaders may find that some events do not occur when they recall them happening, instead taking place either sooner or later or perhaps not at all. For their convenience, the most likely points of confusion are noted thusly.

1861-65

US civil war

1860-63

Captain Nemo’s anti-war campaign sends untold numbers of warships and supply ships to the bottom of the sea. Professor Arronax reports the Nautilus sunk in a storm in the Gulf of Mexico.

1870

Jules Verne publishes immensely popular account of Professor Arronax’s encounter with Captain Nemo.

Franco-Prussian War begins.

1871

New sighting of the Nautilus submersible, generally believed to be hoaxes inspired by Verne’s book.

Wilhelm, King of Prussia, proclaimed German Emperor at Versailles; Paris capitulates; France signs armistice.

1872

Three Emperors league established in Berlin, alliance between Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary.

US General Amnesty Act pardons most ex-Confederates.

Verne recounts his journey around the world in 80 days.

1873

Abolition of slave markets in Zanzibar.

1875

Britain buys 176.602 Suez Canal shares from Khedive of Egypt to gain controlling share.

1877

Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India.

1879

The first Invader cylinders fall on Britain.

Chelmsford, eager to settle the Zulu question before returning war-ravaged Britain, pushes across the Zulu frontier, precipitating the Zulu War.

1880

The second Wave of Invaders attack Earth.

James A. Garfield killed in the invasion; Chester A. Arthur steps into his place on the political scene.

The first New York electric street lights brighten the rebuilding city.

1881

Ingersoll utilizes Invader technology to first subterranean “mechanical mole.”

Chester Arthur inaugurated as 20th President of the U.S.; he is shot and killed in Sept.; succeeded by Vice President William W. Waterford III.

Flogging abolished in British army and navy.

1882

Triple Alliance between Italy, Austria, and Germany.

Three-mile limit for territorial waters agreed upon at Hague Convention.

Maxim patents recoil-operated machine gun.

Cavor unveils his prototype lifting engine.

Parsons’ 1st practical steam turbine amazes viewers with its small size, a benefit gleaned from Invader technology.

1883

British government announces intent to invade Mars.

Daimler’s landship prototype embarassingly breaks down during its first public display.

1884

Gen. C.G. Gordon reaches Khartoum; Mahdi refuses to negotiate and occupies Omdurman.

Germans occupy South-West Africa with lightning speed, deploying a new, smaller version of Herr Daimler’s landship.

Grover Cleveland elected U.S. President and vows to join the crusade against Mars, revealing that US ethyr conveyors are under construction.

Berlin Conference of 14 nations on African affairs is stalled when the Germans displayed their first ethyr conveyor hull. The scramble to join the Martian Punitive Expedition truly begins.

1885

Alain Quartermain’s adventure of King Solomon’s Mines.

Great Britain’s London debut of their Battle Strider walking machines is nearly upstaged by the appearance of a smuggled-in American Colossus machine. The Colossus breaks down on arrival at Crystal Palace.

The Mahdi takes Khartoum; Gen. Gordon killed in the fighting; British evacuate Sudan; death of Mahdi but it all fades to the inside pages of newspapers as the interplanetary fleet lifts for Mars.

The Congo becomes a personal possession of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Germany annexes Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The deposed Sultan of Zanzibar enters into a secret arrangement with Leopold of Belgium, buying his favor with “a treasure of unearthly value.”

1886

The Battle of Landing marks the Martian Punitive Expedition’s arrival on Mars; Campaigns against the Holheem of Parroom.

Dr. Jeckel’s strange case.

Tesla constructs electric motor in part based on Invader technology; Edison and Swan, mining the same source, produce electric lamps.

1887

First Colonial Conference opens in London; Mars is the most prominent topic.

Queen Victoria celebrates her Golden Jubilee and announces the opening of grand new Parroom Station Ethyr Port Complex.

Sherlock Holmes begins practice.

1888

The Wars of Domination begin on Mars, their end marked the Battle at the Wells of Silence and the elimination of the Sverdlinker cult in 1895.

Jack the Ripper murders six women in London.

Aeronautical exhibition in Vienna features demonstration flights of imported Martian float ships and early attempts at flying machines based on Invader designs.

1889

Frederick Abel invents cordite.

Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company and Garnet Worthington’s British Syria Plenum Company granted royal charters.

Eiffel tower designed for Paris World Exhibition.

A.H. Becquerel, studying Invader technology, discovers radioactivity.

1890

Dorian Gray’s secret revealed

Count Zeppelin builds his airship using salvaged light weight Invader alloys.

1894

Kipling tells story of Mowgli.

1895

H.G. Wells recounts the adventure of the Time Machine, coterie of scientists led by O.C. Marsh, G.E. Challenger, and A. Huxley call it a fraud, Wells recants, calling his book a work of Scientific Fiction vows to henceforward stick to Scientific Fact.

The so-called “Conflicts of Interests” begin on Mars with a Franco-British clash on Syria Plenum.

1896

Helium discovered by Wm. Ramsay.

1987

H.G. Wells reveals the truth about the Invisible man.

1898

H.G. Wells publishes his authoritative account of the First Martian Invasion.

1899

It is learned that the Invaders were not all exterminated.

MARS INVADES!

tripod on bow streetWhen the first Martian Invasion wave, sent in 1879 against Britain, failed, there was not a man or woman alive who did not think that we had survived total devastation by the thinnest of margins. Most, quite rightly, saw the hand of Providence in the fall of the Invaders. Some looked at how the Invaders had succumbed to the humblest earthly bacterium and saw their destruction as simple biology, espousing it in Darwinian harangues as proof that Man and not the Invader was most fit to rule the Earth. A few placed our survival at the feet of Dame Fortune, warning that it was only a chance infection that had laid the Martian Invaders low.

None foresaw that the terror would so soon stalk amongst us once more.

The Invaders’ second was on its way even as the Martians of the first wave, who had to all intents and purposes conquered Britain, lay dying. Cylinders fell worldwide. Britain suffered again, but this time She was not alone. The great fighting machines of the Martians stalked and slew. Their flying machines rained death down from the skies. Thousands succumbed to their deadly black smoke. Civilization teetered, but before it could fall, the fighting machines tumbled to the ground, the flying machines crashed into the sea, and the black smoke, dispersed, no longer besmirched the air. As had the first Invaders, these second, more numerous would-be conquerors were slain. Again Man was saved, and though I have no lack of respect for the valiant and courageous defenders who died attempting to stem the Invader onslaught, it was not through Man’s efforts but through an agency beyond our mortal contro.

As we sought to climb from the ruins and rebuild that which the Invaders had taken from us, men of science studied the debris of the Martian machines and the bodies of the Invaders themselves. Professor Challenger, first to publish a monograph on the creatures, dubbed them Cephalids but, as you are well aware, they remain known far and wide as Invaders. The British Isles, twice cursed by the onslaught, boasts more material for study than any other nation, but British industry, impaired by the invasion’s devastation has done less than might be hoped. Yet who else can boast our mastery of Cavoritic lifting devices; Babbage analytical engines, and the wonders of ethyr travel?

Thus it was only natural that Her Majesty’s government took the lead in the organizing of the Martian Punitive Expedition. Allies at home and farther afield made possible the construction of a great fleet of ethyr conveyors. The great industrial powers of America and Germany also built fleets while less advantaged nations, as often as not through the agencies of spies and traitors, found the means to prepare their own forces and come clamoring for a place in the honorable company gathering to visit righteous vengeance on the Invaders. Other lesser powers found places for themselves upon American or German conveyors. And so it was a truly international force that boarded the great ships, lifted free from the embrace of Mother Earth and flew into the heavens to bring war to Mars.

The reliability of those early ethyr conveyors was less than might be desired and they made the transit of the interplanetary invasion a dangerous venture, but one, which you know, was ultimately successful. The forces of her Majesty and their allies reached Mars. Though the Punitive Expedition did not arrive where they had intended, the launch facility used by the Cephalids for the invasion, the vengeful forces of Man disembarked on the Red Planet, ready, willing, and eager to bring the war home the Cephalids. What no one knew at the time was that the Cephalids had known of our coming and had laid plans against us.

All that Earthmen found on Mars was not as it seemed.

Almost immediately a small battle was fought against a Cephalid force. From the carmine dust, Earthmen emerged bloodied but victorious. Unfortunately, the expedition commanders disagreed on how best to proceed next. One faction believed that the Cephalids had expended their force in the Invasion of Earth and that the Battle of the Landing had eliminated the paltry force that remained to the creatures. Proponents of this position gained the upper hand in the councils of the mighty and the allied army was dispersed. Some actually returned to Earth. As a sop to those who maintained that the enemy was still a threat, columns were formed to search for the surviving Cephalids. It was Bromhead’s Third Column that was the first to encounter the aliens that we now call City Dweller Martians. It was also Bromhead’s column that was the first to be opposed by an organized military force of City Dwellers.

Gradually it became clear to even the most disbelieving of the generals that there was an organized City Dweller force opposing the Punitive Expedition’s march to the Invader launch site hard by the Martian city of Parroom, skirmishes and small battles were fought. The allied army reunited and marched on Parroom. As the Earthmen drew nearer, disturbing rumors reached the high command that the City Dwellers of Parroom were supported by Cephalids. The awful truth of that terrifying rumor was only learned shortly before the allied army came upon the Martian forces gathered to bar their way.

On the Plains of Parroom, a great battle was fought. It was no easy victory as the first battle had been. This time Earthmen paid dearly. They fought, unstinting in courage, and they did, after much carnage and slaughter, win. The Cephalid fighting machines were destroyed, the Kheem of Parroom killed, and the Martian army dispersed. In the heady rush following the victory, the Invader launching field was taken and mostly destroyed. The city of Parroom was sacked. When calm returned no sign of the Cephalids could be found. Those who had hoped to eliminate them – either through force of arms or by bringing to Mars whatever minute ally had finished the Invaders on Earth – were ecstatic. It seemed that the Men of Earth had done what they set out to do. It seemed that those who thought that the Cephalids had over reached themselves in their attack on Earth were right. Earthmen had struck back and eliminated the feeble and tottering remnant of the Invaders and struck down the treacherous City Dweller Martians who had sided with their overlords.

It was plain to any who cared to look that a new day was dawning on the Red Planet.

The Martian Punitive Expedition

When Queen Victoria’s government first announced its intention to mount a Punitive Expedition to Mars there was no general call to arms. To all appearances the British neither expected not wished the participation of other nations. But the Cephalids had invaded all of Earth, and all Mankind cried out for revenge. The British showed something less than good grace in accepting their self-volunteered allies.

In short order it became plain to any student of politics that any nation with pretensions to being a “Great Power” needed to have a place in the Martian Punitive Expedition, preferably lifting its own force via its own ethyr conveyors. The United States, flexing its nascent industrial power laid down more hulls than any other nation. Germany was a close second. Britain built more compared to Her size than any other nation. The French, to their embarrassment proved unable to build their own conveyors and joined the expedition only through the gift of three hulls from the United States. A Belgian-led consortium also wrangled a hull from the United States. The Japanese, driven to prove their Great Power status accepted no outside help (at least not publicly) and unveiled two conveyors, Sho-maru of conventional size and Dai-maru of enormous proportions, virtually on the eve of departure. Even the Russians managed to outfit a hull, bought at great expense from the Germans. But getting to Mars was only the first hurdle.

Departure

After years of preparations, secret and not-so-secret meetings and agreements, espionage and cooperation and back-stabbing, the great day of departure finally came. Bands played. Troops passed in review, resplendent in new uniforms. The great adventure was about to begin. Those who had survived the onslaught of the Invaders knew that not all of the brave soldiers would be coming home. Many of those who did would be broken, seared by the Heat ray or made consumptive by a whiff of the Black Smoke. Women and children, and not a few strong men, cried.

Not all who left for Mars returned to Earth.

Not all even made it to Mars. Most of the ships carrying the forces of Earth reached the Red Planet intact, but two met mishaps. The rickety Sho-maru Japanese conveyor “landed” nearly three hundred miles off-course. A greater loss was that of one US conveyor whose fate is, to this day, unknown.

The dangers of the voyage were only the beginning.

Bows and Arrows Against the Lightning

No rational being thought that traditional infantry and cavalry units would matter in a battle against Cephalid Fighting Machines, but that didn’t stop them from being included in every army’s order of battle for the Punitive Expedition. Perhaps, as was formally put forth, it was expected that on their home ground the Cephalids would have comparable, conventional forces. More likely the generals of those arms refused to be left out of what was surely going to be Man’s greatest battle.

It could be that the new armies despite the vaunted but not very numerous technological wonders seemed too pitifully small for the job ahead of them. The colossi and battle walkers, the chars de battaille and the panzerfahrzeug, and most of all the aeroscaphs were awesome, but were there enough of them to conquer the Martians? And once the fighting was done, how could the machines control the subjugated Martians? Surely then, if not before, there would be roles for conventional forces.

Or it could be that no nation trusted its fellows not to claim Mars for itself.

The New Armies

strider in martian townThere was not a power on Earth that did not look to its armed forces and see that what had been was not what needed to be. Those that could took action. Standing regiments were brought up to strength with the pick of hordes of volunteers. New soldiers and old were supplied with improved weapons. The old armies themselves were remade as new units were formed to man the wondrous new “steam technology” weapons.

Dreams born in scientific romances were suddenly made real. Colossi! Battle Walkers! Panzerfahrzeug! Chars de battaille! Aeroscaphs! The very names of the new machines evoked wonder. Their capabilities were amazing.

But in the end, steam and steel are only worth so much, for what is an army made of but men – mortal flesh and blood.

Even the original Punitive Expedition rosters included units of what came be to be called the Territorial Regiments. Drawn from the empires and dominions of the principal participants, these troops often played decisive roles in the battles against the Martian City-states. Indeed, in the Martian Wars that followed the Punitive Expedition’s campaign that broke Cephalid power, they were sometimes the dominant troop type employed.

Most of the Great Powers armed and equipped their territorials well. Even the ruthless Belgians and their cronies made sure their African surrogate soldiers had decent firearms. The British, presumably motivated by memories of the Indian Mutiny, stand out for making sure that their territorials were a technological generation behind their regulars. Even so, the British territorials were notably better equipped that any City Dweller units. Or at least they were until City Dwellers were recruited as askari and sepoys by some of the Great Powers.

Pzfslr advance in smokeDuring the early stages of the Punitive Expedition, the Press made much of the British failure to supply Her territorials with the most modern equipment, especially in regards to measures against the Black Smoke. Allegations were made that certain British generals actually used unprotected territorials to draw out the Black Smoke, preserving British regular units from the hellish clouds. The sad truth is that most territorial units suffered in that regard, whether deliberately set to soak up the Smoke attacks or not. Only the French seem to have been even handed in their distribution of safeguards against the Black Smoke.

 

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