Wastelanders aka Germ Plasm Hybrids
What Used to be Believed
— from Prof. Summerlee’s addendum on the Wastelanders
Little is known about these elusive indigenes. They dwell, it is said, in places distant from those which civilized Man has explored, in places where civilized Martian, for that matter, has rarely been. Most descriptions are vague and come from tall tales, romantic fairy tales, and gossip among the float ship crews. To judge by such sources, the Wastelanders are veritable monsters. They stand tall than a man and each is such a fierce fighter that it would take two ordinary warriors to match him. Their faces are savage and freakish and they have great up-curving tusks. Why, some are even said to be green!
The merest bit of thought reveals that all these Martian stories have a familial relationship with the old travelers’ tales of Earth where people in foreign places were often portrayed as monstrous beings. The Wastelanders’ “great up-curving tusks” are probably no more than slightly exaggerated versions of the mildly oversized lower canine teeth of the ordinary City Dweller. Their “freakish” faces, simply a different cant to the features much as an Oriental is different from an Occidental. And their size? Well, a monster always sounds more terrible if he’s big, doesn’t he?
If we are to believe the tales, the Wastelanders’ society is a brutal, primitive one. It is here that the stories probably come closest to the truth. It would seem that the Wastelanders place a strong emphasis on warrior culture and a “might makes right” ethic. They are said to live in Clans, each grouping headed by the strongest warrior. The leader and the Clan are often refereed to by the Clan name, making for confusion as to whether he or the Clan as a whole did something. Thus, the phrase “the Lars attacked me” could mean that the Clan mounted the attack or that the Clan’s leader, Lars Larkas, personally was the assailant. This practice makes for some confusion when attempting to sort out the truth behind the stories.
Names of notable leaders which recur often in the tales include: Oorza Jakool, a legendary brute and doubtless a great bug-a-boo indeed, Shenka Shay, and Lars Larkas, who seems to be something of a noble savage and thus another classic storied archetype. All of them as real as Robin Hood, Odysseus, or King Arthur of Camelot.
What has Subsequently Come to be Known
— from Thomas Malone’s A Year in the Wastelands
The strange dwellers of the Martian wastelands are not natural beings at all, but bizarre hybrids bred in Cephalid Martian germ plasm vats. Why the Cephalids created these abominations, no man can say. Certainly they are often found in service to the Cephalids, but they are just as common in the “wild,” serving themselves.
Professor Summerlee’s accounts contain both truth and fiction. The descriptions he notes do indeed fit one of the germ plasm hybrid breeds. The sort found in the Martian hinterlands, free from the influence of their creators, may be properly called Wastelanders. These giants stand at least twice as tall as a man, and some are even bigger. They have four arms, a larger, stronger lower set and a man-sized upper set. They can wield weapons with either set, but are not known to coordinate both arms on a side. Facially, they resemble their City Dweller ancestors, though their lower canine teeth are exaggerated, just as in Summerlee’s legends. And, as in those stories, some even have a green or blue skin tint, though most are brownish or greyish in hue.
Wastelander society is a brutal one where status and wealth are based on strength and prowess. Fortunately for those Earthmen who have encountered them, these beings seem to prefer swords and lances as weapons over pistols, rifles, and even exotic Cephalid devices. Perhaps it has something to do with their strange and perplexing code of honor that they call the Burrose.
Wastelanders live in Clans and dwell in communal structures that are part home, part fortress, and part stockyard. Their social units are led by the greatest warriors. Some are led by a variant germ plasm hybrid of the Korovar type. Such Clans are far more likely to have stocks of Cephalid-built weaponry.
Korovars, while taller and bulkier than men, are smaller than the Wastelanders and lack the extra body structure that includes the second set of arms. Their heads are notably different as well, showing far more of the Cephalid component of their origin. Almost invariably, Korovars serve as officers for Cephalid raised units of Wastelanders. These trusted servants are often allowed to use strange devices and deadly weapons of Cephalid design.
Another hybrid type is the bestial Greshnar. Unlike the wily Korovars whom they physically resemble, these creatures seem little more than cunning animals and usually run about on all fours. Their heads betray another source of germ plasm as they are most bestial indeed, with a long, tooth filled snout and a bristly mane of hair. Some Wastelander clans keep packs of Greshnar as Earthmen keep hounds.
In the picture, British infantry and their City Dweller auxiliaries confront Wastelanders amidst the ruins of a Martian temple complex.