A follow up to Garrett Putman Serviss’s Edison’s conquest of mars.
Warning, this story is not what one would call G rated, contains violence, sexual situations and a man being killed with a flying toilet. Reader discretion is advised.
Chapter 1 chaos reigned
The 19th century was a time of massive upheavals, new inventions and settlement of new lands led to changes that utterly transformed the world from what was known to our grandparents. But all of this that humanity did to itself paled to what happened in the wake of the Martian invasion. The labour of centuries was destroyed, great armies, cities, factories and the homes of hundreds of thousands of people were smashed and incinerated, countless lives were lost as the Martians rampaged across the land in their walkers.
I suppose that for me all of this started when a Martian meteor landed 50 miles outside the town I was living in. By the time they got to where I was the first major offensive against them had completely failed. Most of the local resistance was mounted by volunteer militia, they were good fighters, but they lacked organization, experience and perhaps most importantly mobile heavy weapons.
My name is Ryan Hammond, I was a printing press operator for a small publisher of mostly scientific and technical works in a small city in South Carolina which vanished when the Martians invaded.
I don’t know what I was thinking early on in the invasion, at first I thought it was all some kind of sick hoax. Then I believed that they would be stopped long before they would get to where I was. The Martian campaign in these United States consisted of a massive assault on the eastern seaboard with no activity in the west or central area of the country. Most of their meteor cars came down in New Jersey in a campaign against New York and eastern Pennsylvania. Along with a number that came down in North Carolina in a march to Atlanta. Inexplicably they did not drive on Washington, D.C. Military minds far sharper than mine have pondered why the Capitol was not attacked and no satisfactory explanation has ever been furnished.
My involvement in this disaster at first was largely limited to ignoring the reports of refugees fleeing from the evil descending upon us. The stories seemed too fantastic to have even a whit of truth, at least that was until I saw the walkers with my own eyes.
The local militia was mobilized, by now we had several reports of what we were dealing with. With my technical ability I was assigned to manning one of our old war of northern aggression era surplus artillery pieces. Our commander, a scion of a respected local family, Vaughn Wyatt accurately presumed that the alien machines would be resistant to small arms so he arranged for a clever ambush. Our cannon would be carefully hidden in brush and homes and we would wait until we had good aim to fire.
At least that was the plan, actually implementing it was terrifying beyond description. Night was falling as they approached. The walkers approached in a three in line formation, blasting and knocking down trees, telegraph poles, whatever was in their way. I felt myself lose control of my body to fear, then came the order to fire.
The lanyard was pulled and our gun fired, my battery hit right in the walkers nearest leg severing it from its body and causing it to fall. Right on our position, I ran as the thing came down and exploded with considerable force. Somehow I survived the blast to see that another battery had hit the walker to the left, square in the middle causing it to go out of control, it’s pilot dead. The battery to my right however had only damaged their walker and it was firing its heat ray.
If I live a thousand years I will never forget the stink of that heat ray. It smelled electric and toxic, pure hell in a box, I no longer had a weapon, all I could think was to run back to my home and get my wife and daughter somewhere safe. As I did I was joined by some survivors from my battery, I couldn’t recognize them individually through the filth and confusion.
As I saw my house I tripped into a ditch, if I hadn’t I would have been vaporized. I felt something land on top of me as I heard the surviving walker rampage through the town seeking vengeance for its dead brothers. I just lied there until the sounds of murder ended, choking, trying not to make any more noise.
When the machine moved on I got up, the thing that landed on me was the lower half of the town butcher. I recognized his trousers, what was left of them, his Remington revolver and cartridges were still intact so I grabbed them. I had never owned a weapon in my life but I figured having one right now would be wise.
As I pulled myself out of the ditch I saw the whole town was gone, just gone, every tree, every building, every nail. I looked over to where my house should be and there was nothing there. I screamed, bitterly, I jammed 2 knuckles into my mouth to try to silence myself. For the first time in my life I was completely overcome, I can’t describe how I felt then and I don’t think I would if I could. My wife, daughter, all of my friends, coworkers and neighbors were dead.
I was covered in filth and carnage, consumed by thoughts of vengeance, so I took off in the trail of wreckage left by the walker. It seemed to be going in a straight line, right back where it came. Not thinking clearly I thought that I would somehow sneak up on the walker or perhaps join another group of ambushers. I caught up to it after a night of pursuit. In the blue radiance before sunrise I saw the walker, it was inactive. I imagined that the pilot of the craft was off somewhere taking a break from his wanton destruction.
I checked my weapon, I burned with a lust for vengeance overjoyed at the thought that fate had furnished me with an opportunity for a somewhat fair battle with these creatures. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, the few survivors I had heard spoke of these beasts being utterly alien, unlike anything on earth. But I didn’t mind, all that mattered was that I was about to destroy something that had caused so much destruction.
I was starting to suffer from exhaustion and probably dehydration, I heard music in my head, music that sounded completely unlike any I had ever heard before. It was rhythmic, downright catchy, but unfamiliar and unnatural. I tried to be stealthy around the machine, but I did not feel like a predator, I felt uncoordinated. My senses were alive, I heard something, a sucking sound, it had to be a Martian, nothing else was alive in the area. I came up to a stream where there was a large pile of boulders.
There was no mistaking it for anything else, it looked like an octopus from hell. It’s appearance would have been terrifying enough, it was feeding, it was using a pipette to drain the blood from a young black girl. I shrieked involuntarily and fired, over and over, I was about 20 feet away and some of my shots must have struck home. It released the girl, when I realized that my gun was empty I dropped it and grabbed a large smooth rock and used it to pound on the things head.
It was soft, like gelatin in tough leather, I hit it with my entire being. I heard someone screaming, “Die die die!” Then I realized that it was me and the thing was no longer moving. Then I looked over at the girl, the pipette had broken off in her neck and she was bleeding out on the rocks. I screamed, “no!” and I tried to staunch the bleeding, but I saw the life drain out of her. She had a look of terror on her face as she died, I tried, I tried to save her but she let out one last breath and she went limp.
I let her go, I screamed again and I went over and I pummeled the dead Martian some more. I picked up big rocks and dropped them on it’s lifeless form, I realized that I was going insane, my thirst was overwhelming me. Some remnant of my logical mind concluded that the Martian must have stopped here because the water here looked untainted.
So I drank, washed off the blood and Martian ooze, I stayed by that roaring stream long enough for my headache to go away. I looked around, collected and reloaded my revolver. I found a shell crater nearby and buried the girl, I took some scrap wood and hammered out a makeshift cross. I must have cried at her grave for some time because the sun was starting to set as I started to examine the dead Martian.
I had done a lot of damage, one shot had landed right in the monsters right eye, it’s tentacles were mangled beyond recognition. It was so wrong, so unnatural, I wanted to burn it down but I had nothing to cook it with. I looked at the walker, it was heavily damaged, I couldn’t get up to the control unit, but from close up I could see that it was of remarkably light but strong construction. I was still out of my mind from everything and I shouted at the dead creature. “You aren’t invincible, I would have licked you back home and you are licked now! I beat you and we will beat the rest of you!”
My shouting summoned someone, while I was studying the war machine I heard feet walking up behind me. Another Martian, no, feet, they had to be human, wait, they still might be hostile. I drew the revolver, cocked the hammer and spun around, standing behind me was a group of four mountain men. They had a double barrel shotgun, a revolver and 2 very old looking rifles. I uncocked my gun and stated, “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
The oldest one stated, “we don’t wanna hurt you either, we wanna thank you, you kilt a Martian!?”
I replied, “yeah, but I was too late, that monster killed my family and the only reason I got the drop on him was because he was feasting on a little girl.”
He walked up, placed a hand on my shoulder and stated in his folksy patios. “You did good, you did all you could and you survived, more than can be said about all the rest of you city people.”
They brought in food and more weapons and set up in a defensive ring around the walker. They brought in a makeshift ladder, they wanted me to try to get the thing up and running so we could use it against other Martian war machines. But after a days of work I had yet to figure out how to get the monstrosity started. While I was trying to get this thing up and running dozens more hillbillies arrived and added to the defenses. If any more walkers showed up we agreed that we were going to disperse, the hillbillies had somehow acquired some dynamite and if a walker was seen the fuse would be lit and the machine would be denied to the enemy.
After three days of work I hit the right combination of controls to get the machine up and running. I figured out that the walker was controlled by full body motion in the control seat. Though it was very clearly not designed to accommodate a human body. The weapons system was entirely separate from the other controls and I was starting to figure out how to work it when I was told that it was time for lunch.
I climbed back down to the ground for a lunch of squirrel stew with rice, probably the best meal they could make out of the raw materials at hand. I was halfway finished eating, talking to a moonshiner about the mysterious gelatinous fuels that appeared to provide the energy to drive the thing when a lookout shouted. “Soldiers, there are soldiers coming!”
We made sure our weapons were unloaded on the ground, but as the soldiers came up the hill when they saw the machine they retreated and called out to us. We shouted back that it was safe, the machine was under our command. They were federals, from a naval detachment, mobilized to address reports of an active Martian war machine in the area. I showed them the rotted remains of the machines pilot and filled them in on everything I knew. Once I was done they told us about the wholly unexpected events of the past week.
The invasion was over, we were saved, by the defenses of our biology, the Martians were all dead. With the exception of an unknown number who had managed an escape back to Mars by detonating an incredibly powerful explosive in New York to furnish their escape into space.
When one of the hillbillies stated that I had figured out how to drive the walker the commanding officer of these sailors. A Captain Rutherford demanded that I show him the machine in motion. So I climbed back up the rope and got the thing running, once I got the hang of driving the thing it was actually kind of fun to pilot. I shouted down to the federals, “so where do you want me to take this monstrosity?”
The captain screamed back, “just shut it down for now, we will figure out what to do with it later.”
The next day the federals had me walk the thing a short distance to a nearby rail spur where they would guard it until a train came along to take it elsewhere for study. I started off back to my home with a federal and 2 hillbillies escorting me. When I got back I saw that Vaughn Wyatt was still alive, he was organizing a dozen other survivors and his family in a salvage effort being run out of his home outside of town. Wyatt had been burned but not by the heat ray, he stated that after his shot struck he had been attempting to reload his cannon to get off a second shot at the surviving walker when the heat ray had set off their powder charges blowing him backwards and knocking him out. 2 Other men had survived at his battery along with 10 men, women and children who had gotten just far enough out of town before the massacre started.
There was nothing left of my home, Wyatt took me and some of the other survivors into his home and for awhile I was in a state of limbo. Numb to the world around me, just going through the motions of trying to rebuild civilization.