When 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.