Monday, March 28, 2016

Rough Riders On Mars! Chapter 6– My Interview With The Mayor

Chapter 6– My Interview With The Mayor
The Professor and I were ushered into the building, while our guards were asked to wait outside. I was assured that there was nothing to worry about, so we proceeded into the City Hall. The first room was a reception area where we signed in and stated the purpose of our visit. We then followed the guard down the corridor to the Mayor’s office.

The office filled the entire floor of the tower (as had the reception room), with the Mayor’s desk  on the right hand wall as we entered the room. The room was rather Spartan, with only the Mayor’s desk and a few chairs. There was no artwork or symbols of the authority to be seen. All in all, it was a depressing space.

As we approached the Mayor’s desk, he stood up and Introduced himself. “Good day Mr. Roosevelt, I
am Reytik of Ceraunius. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”, he said.

His command of the English took me aback. I quickly recovered and replied, “It is my pleasure to meet you Mr. Reytik.”

I continued, “As you are aware, I am in command of the United States Army station here. As such, I feel it is my responsibility to learn as much about our situation here in the city and the local environs. So, whatever information you can give me would be most helpful.”

Reytik replied, “Well, Mr. Roosevelt, the situation here in Ceraunius is, as you say, right as rain. Your men have behaved very well, so far as conquerors go. The civilian population have hardly taken notice.”

“But, in some aspect, not all is, ‘right as rain’?”, I said.

“Well, there will always be some, professional jealously, between your soldiers and mine. However, the townspeople of Ceraunius are not your biggest problem. They know the power of your spaceships that utterly destroyed our previous overlords. No, I think they will be quite passive for a long while.  Your real problem will be with the citizens of the towns further down the canals and the wildmen of the desert regions. They know nothing of your weapons or your motives so they will not fear you. Also, their customs in dealing with outsiders are very strict and rather unique. It takes a skilled negotiator just to prevent open hostilities and an exceptional one to gain tangible results. In fact, it would not surprise me in the least if, sooner rather than later, they test your metal with a skirmish or two with your patrols.”, Reytik said.

“Mr. Reytik,” I said, “I am sure we will be able to deal appropriately with the rural communities when the time comes, but I denote a bit of anxiety in your comments. You have referred to the United States of America as conquerors and overlords, but nothing could be further from the truth. America believes in self-government for a peoples and we are here to help you and your people to develop a sustainable self government.”

“Well, since you are only here to help us,” Reytik said, “I am sure that we will all get along famously.”

“Indeed.”, I said unconvinced. I knew that my words would not convince Reytik. It would take action to prove our motives. However, I needed Reytik to keep things under control in Ceraunius long enough for our American ideas of government to catch hold and take root. Since it would be another 3 months before the remainder of my three companies of troops and advisors arrived, so I would have to be careful so as not to incite trouble until I had the force to back it up.

 I finished my interview with the Mayor and headed back to our base. As we walked back to the post, I asked Professor Edgren his opinion of Reytik and the state of affairs in Ceraunius. He said, “I do not think that Reytik has any real concept of what the American form of government is, nor do any of the “civilized” people of the planet. For millennia these people have only served the whims of their masters and even after those masters began to disappear, they were replaced by new ones.

“Who were or are these new masters?” I asked.

“It is my understanding that the original overlords of Mars were the Nagi-Fej. They came here eons ago and enslaved the population. At that time, populations of these tyrants occupied every city-state. This was the status-quo for many generations, until some sort of plague attacked the Nagi-Fej. As there population dwindled, they congregated to the city-states of Alba and Cophen. As the Nagi-Fej fled the outlying cities, their Martian go betweens took over as defacto rulers.”

“This maintained the status quo in the major cities and the neighboring regions, but it left the outlying towns to their own devices. On the fringes, a sort of feudal system evolved, again with the higher ranking Martians taking the part of the Baron. So, the towns further down the canals have a greater autonomy than those closer to the cities at the canal junctions.”

“Then there are the nomadic desert tribes. These are made up of the bands of slaves that have escaped through the ages. One could compare them to the Mongol tribes or the North American Indian. They eke out a meager existence following the herd animals that live in the desert and marginal areas.”

“The society, here at least, seems remarkably developed for one that so recently lost its power base. How has this happened?” I asked.

“I appears time is measured differently for the Martians, the Nagi-Fej, and us. The Nagi-Fej had extremely long lifespans and were slow to reproduce. So, what would be a crisis situation for them could have been going on for hundreds or thousands of Earth years. Indeed, the city-states furthest from the Cophen Exclusion Zone may have been free from the Nagi-Fej since Roman times on Earth or even earlier. The Martians lifespan is also greater than that of Earthmen, though nothing near the length of the Nagi-Fej. Their lifespan, the length of a Martian year, and their association with the Nagi-Fej are all factors that have modified the Martian concept of time.” Professor Edgren replied.

“So, I assume that because Ceraunius is so near the Cophen Exclusion Zone, their society shows a greater degree of Nagi-Fej influence than in other states?” I said.

“Indeed,”  Professor Edgren responded, “While contact with the Nagi-Fej was diminishing over the
last seven hundred to eight hundred years, Ceraunius has been truly independent only for the last one hundred years or so.”

My meeting with Mayor Reytik and this brief Martian history lesson helped me to develop my plans for the future. Next, it was time to meet with my officers and get their perspective on the relationship between our people and the native population.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Martian Miniatures

To those of you that have been following Rough Riders On Mars!, first let me express my gratitude for you interest in that project. Thank you. Let me assure you that Teddy and the gang will have their hands full of intrigues and hostiles before too much longer, probably about chapter 8 or so.

The idea of Rough Riders On Mars! came to me after I completed the initial draft of my Edison's Conquest Of Mars wargame rules. These rules are somewhat based on the novel by Garret P. Serviss of the same title as well as elements from numerous other sword and planet novels. Currently, the rule book contains 31 pages of background information (without illustrations, which will be added later) 18 pages of game rules, a variant of The Sword And The Flame. I may change the rules to a variant of my Spanish-American war rules, Rough Riders! before publication.

At any rate, I thought that those following my story might like to see what my interpretation of a Martian army would look like. So here is a sneak peek of the 15mm Martians that I hope to one day release through TVAG.

 Here we have a unit of Archers. This is the typical dress of the Martians

These are Martian riflemen.
These are Martian swordsmen.
These are Ma Gongi, A different kind of being that inhabits the swamps of Mars.
Here is the first type of Martian heave cavalry. They are mounted on Ibuezi.

Here is the second type of Martian heavy cavalry. They ride Moa-nui.

Finally, here are Martian mounted infantry riding Moa-iti. I will try to get some photos of the Earthlings up shortly.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rough Riders On Mars! - Chapter 5 – Visiting The City

Chapter 5 – Visiting The City
I awoke early the next morning, quite refreshed and ready to explore my new surroundings. I knew that the men that traveled with me would also want to visit the town, so first I arranged their leave. I kept the men in the groups I organized on the trip out. To these I assigned two from the garrison; they would act as escorts for the new arrivals. Each group was to take a three hour excursion into town. This schedule would give the men a taste of their new home without giving them too much time to get into trouble.
Having made the arrangements for the men, I prepared myself for a visit to the Mayor of Ceraunius. Of course Mayor is not the Martian title. It isn’t really a good translation of the title. However, it will give the reader an idea the man’s job. I decided to wear a civilian suit to the meeting as I wished to appear congenial,  since only half of my command ( 1 and ½ companies) was on station.
At ten a.m. I set off with my translator, Professor August Hjalmar Edgren and an escort of five riflemen. Professor Edgren is a native of Sweden who joined the 99th New York Regiment as a lieutenant during the Civil War. He is fluent in a number of Earth languages as well as common Martian and the local variations around Ceraunius. The Professor and I got along quite well during my stay and became good friends.
As we walked into town, I got my first look at the Martians. As a rule, they are thin and small
framed.They appear slightly taller than the average earthman, an appearance that is accentuated by their thin build. The face is oblong, with oriental eyes and an aquiline nose. The ears look to be a normal human shape for the lobe, but the top of the ear comes to an acute point. The skin color is a pale green, the eyes have a base of yellow with an iris of red, and the hair is golden or honey blonde.
The dress of the common man is a simple kilt, though more of the ancient Egyptian style than the Scottish. It is secured about the waist with a belt and hangs down to just above the knee. The female’s garment reminds me of those seen on the ancient Greek statues. It is sleeveless and may be hung from one or both shoulders and is bound about the high waist with a ribbon or belt. The garments of both sexes come in a wide variety of colors. All footwear consists of a thin sandal.
The civil authorities wear tight fitting trousers and long sleeved shirts with a very wide belt around the midsection. They wear a cowl over their heads from which only their face protrudes. The cowl covers the neck and part or all of the shoulders. Finally, they wear a thick soled shoe or boot.
The architecture of the city is monotonously the same. Invariably, each building consists of four square based towers that taper gradually to the roof on each corner, connected by corridors. This left an open courtyard in the middle of each building. Doors are in the center of each tower, flanked by windows. The windows in the corridors are high up on the wall and can only provide light into the corridor. There are parapet walls on both the towers and the corridors. The walls are very thick, causing the windows and doors to be set back from the exterior wall face. This restricts the visibility from the windows. Colors range from a pastel pink, to orange, or mauve.
 We passed through the residential district and into the commercial district. Most shops were divided into two sections. One tower on the street contained high end merchandise for the upper classes. The other tower contained goods for the masses. Street stalls were put up in front of the common shops, giving the street the look and feel of an Arab bazaar. The remainder of the building was used as a workshop or residence.
We entered the government district, though there was no way to tell other than small plaques near the doors. Of course, these signs were written in the Martian script, so I could not make heads or tails of them. As we penetrated deeper into the civil district, I noted that some buildings had guards posted at the doors. I asked the Professor about this, and he told me that the more important offices were protected by the military. I noted that the soldiers dressed no differently than the ordinary man, other than a sword and perhaps another weapon. We turned to a doorway and Professor Edgren addressed the guards. One of the guards turned and went inside.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rough Riders on Mars - Chapter 4 – Landing on Mars

Chapter 4 – Landing on Mars

The remainder of our journey was uneventful and we whiled away the time working through our routines. By the time the monotony began to rub nerves raw, Mars began to grow in the window. As we looked at the red planet, one of the men asked, “So where are the two moons?” I responded, “do you see those two small stars near the planet? Those are the moons.” The men were surprised that they looked nothing like our own moon.
Soon Mars loomed large in the ship’s window. The surface features became more pronounced every period. The mountain ranges appeared, then the swamps. Next, the canals came into view and I knew we were mere days away. I spent time trying to locate Ceraunius, my station. Based on my maps, I identified a spot on the surface of the planet that I suspected was my destination. After conferring with Captain Thorpe, I was gratified to learn that my reckoning was correct and I had, in fact, identified my post.
After a few more periods, the captain entered the main cabin to announce that the time had come to prepare for landing. The men cheered then thanked the captain for a safe passage. We set up all of the chairs and stowed all of the unnecessary supplies and equipment. Cities and towns were clearly visible now, and I knew that soon I’d be commanding my troops on the surface of a strange world.
The captain invited me into the pilot’s cabin to observe the landing operation. I accepted the invitation and followed Thorpe into the small compartment. Once inside, I saw a bewildering array of dials, knobs, and levers. The captain called out orders that I did not comprehend then the crewmen moved handles, turned knobs, and manipulated other apparatus on the panels.
We entered the atmosphere gently. I looked from horizon to horizon and saw no clouds. I knew this would be the case, but I still found it amazing. A sky with no clouds seemed lacking beyond description. The lack of weather, other than wind was going to take some getting used to. We arrived on Mars at the beginning of its spring, but being so far north, it would be months before the effects of the season would be fully felt.
As we descended, I could see more details of the city and its surroundings that was to be my home. Ceraunius is situated at the conjunction of five canals. It is laid out in a circular pattern with the hub at the juncture of those canals. It appeared that the warehouse district was at the center of the city, then what appeared to be shops and manufacturers, and finally housing for the workers. The streets were all a-bustle with activity.
I noticed a structure off to one side of the city that we seemed to be steering toward. I asked the Captain about our apparent destination. “That, Mr. Roosevelt, is your station”, he said. It is located between the Thyanis and Leontes canals with the Phlegra Montes as a backdrop. To the south could be seen the western volcano group. At present, all three were inactive. The structure that was my post, forms a hollow square of four towers connected by slightly lower corridors. This is typical Martian construction and makes for a strong and eminently defensible fortification.
We came to a stop just outside of the fort. Before the doors were opened, the Captain addressed us. “Men, it’s been a pleasure transporting you to your new post.  Before you step outside, be aware that the force of gravity on Mars is much less than it is on Earth. I have, over the course of our journey, reduced the gravity within the ship. However, you will still find the experience of working and moving outside the vessel a little… strange. So take it slowly until you get used to the “Feel” of your new home.”
The men only half-heartedly heeded the Captain’s warning with humorous results. Private Tyree was the first out of the ship. He nonchalantly hopped off the platform. However, his small leap propelled him higher and farther than he expected. As a result, on the way down, he pitched forward and landed on his head and left shoulder. Once the men stopped laughing, Quinncanon edged out the door. He would not pick up his feet and shuffled out the door like a ninety year old man. Once out the door, he lunged for the handrail. He caught the rail and flipped on over.  On the way to the ground, he cracked his skull on the lower rail, but managed to land on his feet.
At this point, I determined that I had better show the men how to exit the craft, otherwise we’d be at this all day. I knew that the Captain had been adjusting the gravity, so I had been adjusting my stride to compensate for the weakening gravity. Therefore, I was able to walk out the door with confidence. The rest of the men took my lead and we were able to disembark with only a few minor incidents.
We spent the rest of the day unloading both of the ships. Fortunately, I had three platoons of men already on station to help with the legwork. I set up two “bucket brigades”, one from each ship. These led into the storehouse of the fort. The work of unloading was much easier than loading. Of course, this was due to the lesser gravity of Mars. But even with the lesser effects of the gravity, the men were pretty well worn out by the end of the day.