Of the mighty Martian Armada, only 761 ships carrying 26,635 troops survived the barrage and landed on Earth.
Had all these ships landed at one point, the survivors might have made a stand. But the electronic pilot-navigators of the ships had other ideas. The pilot-navigators scattered the remnants of the armada far and wide over the surface of the Earth. Squads, platoons, and companies emerged from the ships everywhere, demanding that nations of millions give in.
A single, badly scorched man named Krishna Garu attacked all of India with a double-barreled shotgun. Though there was no one to radio-control him, he did not surrender until his gun blew up.
The only Martian military success was the capture of a meat market in Basel, Switzerland, by seventeen Parachute Ski Marines.
Everywhere else the Martians were butchered promptly, before they could even dig in.
As much butchering was done by amateurs as by professionals. At the Battle of Boca Raton, in Florida, U.S.A., for instance, Mrs. Lyman R. Peterson shot four members of the Martian a.s.sault Infantry with her son's.22 caliber rifle. She picked them off as they came out of their s.p.a.ce ship, which had landed in her back yard.
She was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously.
The Martians who attacked Boca Raton, incidentally, were the remains of Unk's and Boaz's company. Without Boaz, their real commander, to radio-control them, they fought listlessly, to say the least.
When American troops arrived at Boca Raton to fight the Martians, there was nothing left to fight. The civilians, flushed and proud, had taken care of everything nicely. Twenty-three Martians had been hanged from lamp posts in the business district, eleven had been shot dead, and one, Sergeant Brackman, was a grievously wounded prisoner in the jail.
The total attacking force had been thirty-five.
"Send us more Martians," said Ross L. McSwann, the Mayor of Boca Raton.
He later became a United States Senator.
And everywhere the Martians were killed and killed and killed, until the only Martians left free and standing on the face of the Earth were the Parachute Ski Marines carousing in the meat market in Basel, Switzerland. They were told by loudspeaker that their situation was hopeless, that bombers were overhead, that all streets were blocked by tanks and crack infantry, and that fiftyartillery pieces were trained on the meat market. They were told to come out with their hands up, or the meat market would be blown to bits.
"Nuts!" yelled the real commander of the Parachute Ski Marines.
There was another lull.
A single Martian scout ship far out in s.p.a.ce broadcast to Earth that another attack was on its way, an attack more terrible than anything ever known in the annals of war.
Earth laughed and got ready. All around the globe there was the cheerful popping away of amateurs familiarizing themselves with small arms.
Fresh stocks of thermo-nuclear devices were delivered to the launching pads, and nine tremendous rockets were fired at Mars itself. One hit Mars, wiped the town of Phoebe and the army camp off the face of the planet. Two others disappeared in a chrono-synclastic infundibulum. The rest became s.p.a.ce derelicts.
It did not matter that Mars was. .h.i.t.
There was no one there any more- not a soul.
The last of the Martians were on their way to Earth.
The last of the Martians were coming in three waves.
In the first wave came the army reserves, the last of the trained troops- 26,119 men in 721 ships.
A half an Earthling day behind them came 86,912 recently-armed male civilians in 1,738 ships. They had no uniforms, had fired their rifles only once, and had no training at all in the use of any other weapons.
A half an Earthling day behind these wretched irregulars came 1,391 unarmed women and 52 children in 46 ships.
That was all the people and all the ships that Mars had left.
The mastermind behind the Martian suicide was Winston Niles Rumfoord.
The elaborate suicide of Mars was financed by capital gains on investments in land, securities, Broadway shows, and inventions. Since Rumfoord could see into the future, it was easy as pie for him to make money grow.
The Martian treasury was kept in Swiss banks, in accounts identified only by code numbers.
The man who managed the Martian investments, headed the Martian Procurement Program and the Martian Secret Service on Earth, the man who took orders directly from Rumfoord, was Earl Moncrief, the ancient Rumfoord butler. Moncrief, given the opportunity at the very close of his servile life, became Rumfoord's ruthless, effective, and even brilliant Prime Minister of Earthling Affairs.
Moncrief's facade remained unchanged.
Moncrief died of old age in his bed in the servants' wing of the Rumfoord mansion two weeks after the war ended.
The person chiefly responsible for the technological triumphs of the Martian suicide was Salo, Rumfoord's friend on t.i.tan. Salo was a messenger from the planet Tralfamadore in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Salo had technological know-how from a civilization that was millions of Earthling years old. Salo had a s.p.a.ce shipthat was crippled- but, even in its crippled condition, it was by far the most marvelous s.p.a.ce ship that the Solar System had ever seen. His crippled ship, stripped of luxury features, was the prototype of all the ships of Mars. While Salo himself was not a very good engineer, he was none the less able to measure every part of his ship, and to draw up the plans for its Martian descendants.
Most important of all- Salo had in his possession a quant.i.ty of the most powerful conceivable source of energy, UWTB, or the Universal Will to Become. Salo generously donated half of his supply of UWTB to the suicide of Mars.
Earl Moncrief, the butler, built his financial, procurement, and secret service organizations with the brute power of cash and a profound understanding of clever, malicious, discontented people who lived behind servile facades.
It was such people who took the Martian money and the Martian orders gladly. They asked no questions. They were grateful for the opportunity to work like termites on the sills of the established order.
They came from all walks of life.
The modified plans of Salo's s.p.a.ce ship were broken down into plans for components. The plans for the components were taken by Moncrief's agents to manufacturers all over the world.
The manufacturers had no idea what the components were for. They knew only that the profits on making them were fine.
The first one hundred Martian ships were a.s.sembled by Moncrief's agents in secret depots right on Earth.
These ships were charged with UWTB given to Moncrief by Rumfoord at Newport. They were put into service at once, shuttling the first machines and the first recruits to the iron plain on Mars where the city of Phoebe would rise.
When Phoebe did rise, every wheel was turned by Salo's UWTB.
It was Rumfoord's intention that Mars should lose the war- that Mars should lose it foolishly and horribly. As a seer of the future, Rumfoord knew for certain that this would be the case- and he was content.
He wished to change the World for the better by means of the great and unforgettable suicide of Mars.
As he says in his Pocket History of Mars: Pocket History of Mars: "Any man who would change the World in a significant way must have showmanship, a genial willingness to shed other people's blood, and a plausible new religion to introduce during the brief period of repentance and horror that usually follows bloodshed. "Any man who would change the World in a significant way must have showmanship, a genial willingness to shed other people's blood, and a plausible new religion to introduce during the brief period of repentance and horror that usually follows bloodshed.
"Every failure of Earthling leadership has been traceable to a lack on the part of the leader," says Rumfoord, "of at least one of these three things.
"Enough of these fizzles of leadership, in which millions die for nothing or less!" says Rumfoord. "Let us have, for a change, a magnificently-led few who die for a great deal."
Rumfoord had that magnificently-led few on Mars- and he was their leader.
He had showmanship.
He was genially willing to shed the blood of others.
He had a plausible new religion to introduce at the war's end.
And he had methods for prolonging the period of repentance and horror that would follow the war. These methods were variations on one theme: That Earth's glorious victory over Mars had been a tawdry butchery of virtually unarmed saints, saints, saints who had waged feeble war on Earth in order to weld the peoples of that planet into a monolithic Brotherhood of Man.
The woman called Bee and her son, Chrono, were in the very last wave of Martian ships to approach Earth. Theirs was a wavelet, really, composed, as it was, of only forty-six ships.
The rest of the fleet had already gone down to destruction.
This last incoming wave, or wavelet, was detected by Earth. But thermo-nuclear devices were not fired at it. There were no more thermo-nuclear devices to fire.
They had all been used up.
And the wavelet came in unscathed. It was scattered over the face of the Earth.
The few people who were lucky enough to have Martians to shoot at in this last wave fired away happily- fired away happily until they discovered that their targets were unarmed women and children.
The glorious war was over.
Shame, as Rumfoord had planned it, began to set in.
The ship carrying Bee and Chrono and twenty-twoother women was not fired upon when it landed. It did not land in a civilized area.
It crashed into the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil.
Only Bee and Chrono survived.
Chrono emerged, kissed his good-luck piece.
Unk and Boaz weren't fired upon either.
A very peculiar thing happened to them after they pressed the on on b.u.t.ton and took off from Mars. They expected to overtake their company, but they never did. b.u.t.ton and took off from Mars. They expected to overtake their company, but they never did.
They never even saw another s.p.a.ce ship.
The explanation was simple, though there was no one around to make it: Unk and Boaz weren't supposed to go to Earth- not right away.
Rumfoord had had their automatic pilot-navigator set so that the ship would carry Unk and Boaz to the planet Mercury first- and then from Mercury to Earth.
Rumfoord didn't want Unk killed in the war.
Rumfoord wanted Unk to stay in some safe place for about two years.
And then Rumfoord wanted Unk to appear on Earth, as though by a miracle.
Rumfoord was preserving Unk for a major part in a pageant Rumfoord wanted to stage for his new religion.
Unk and Boaz were very lonely and mystified out there in s.p.a.ce. There wasn't much to see or do.
"G.o.d d.a.m.n, Unk-" said Boaz. "I wonder where the gang got to."
Most of the gang was hanging, at that moment, from lamp posts in the business district of Boca Raton.
Unk's and Boaz's automatic pilot-navigator, controlling the cabin lights, among other things, created an artificial cycle of Earthling nights and days, nights and days.
The only things to read on board were two comic books left behind by the shipfitters. They were Tweety and Sylvester, Tweety and Sylvester, which was about a canary that drove a cat crazy, and which was about a canary that drove a cat crazy, and The Miserable Ones, The Miserable Ones, which was about a man who stole some gold candlesticks from a priest who had been nice to him. which was about a man who stole some gold candlesticks from a priest who had been nice to him.
"What he take those candlesticks for, Unk?" said Boaz.
"d.a.m.n if I know," said Unk. "d.a.m.n if I care."
The pilot-navigator had just turned out the cabin lights, had just decreed that it be night inside.
"You don't give a d.a.m.n for nothing, do you?" said Boaz in the dark.
"That's right," said Unk. "I don't even give a d.a.m.n for that thing you've got in your pocket."
"What I got in my pocket?" said Boaz.
"A thing to hurt people with," said Unk. "A thing to make people do whatever you want 'em to do."
Unk heard Boaz grunt, then groan softly, there in the dark. And he knew that Boaz had just pressed a b.u.t.ton on the thing in his pocket, a b.u.t.ton that was supposed to knock Unk cold.
Unk didn't make a sound.
"Unk-?" said Boaz.
"Yeah?" said Unk.
"You there, there, buddy?" said Boaz, amazed. buddy?" said Boaz, amazed.
"Where would I go?" said Unk. "You think you vaporized me?"
"You O.K., buddy?" said Boaz.
"Why wouldn't I be, buddy?" said Unk. "Last night, while you were asleep, old buddy, I took that fool thing out of your pocket, old buddy, and I opened it up, old buddy, and I tore the insides out of it, old buddy, and I stuffed it with toilet paper. And now I'm sitting on my bunk, old buddy, and I've got my rifle loaded, old buddy, and it's aimed in your direction, old buddy, and just what the h.e.l.l do you think you're going to do about anything?"
Rumfoord materialized on Earth, in Newport, twice during the war between Mars and Earth- once just after the war started, and again on the day it ended. He and his dog had, at that time, no particular religious significance. They were merely tourist attractions.
The Rumfoord estate had been leased by the mortgage holders to a showman named Marlin T. Lapp. Lapp sold tickets to materializations for a dollar apiece.
Save for the appearance and then the disappearance of Rumfoord and his dog, it wasn't much of a show. Rumfoord wouldn't say a word to anyone but Moncrief, the butler, and he whispered to him. He would slouch broodingly in a wing chair in the room under the staircase, in Skip's Museum. And he would cover his eyes with one hand and twine the fingers of his other hand around Kazak's choke chain.
Rumfoord and Kazak were billed as ghosts.
There was a scaffolding outside the window of the little room, and the door to the corridor had been removed. Two lines of sightseers could file past for a peek at the chrono-synclastic infundibulated man and dog.
"I guess he don't feel much like talking today, folks," Marlin T. Lapp would say. "You got to realize he's got a lot to think about. He isn't just here, folks. Him and his dog are spread all the way from the Sun to Betelgeuse."
Until the last day of the war, all the action and all the noise was provided by Marlin T. Lapp. "I think it's wonderful of all you people, on this great day in the history of the world, to come and see this great cultural and educational and scientific exhibit," Lapp said on the last day of the war.
« Previous My Bookmarks Chapters Next»