It has been one planetary rotation since our arrival to this planet. We have been beating back the natives, while suffering a number of casualties doing so. The success of our course varies a small amount from one region to another. Both sides of the local war are agreeing to come together in a vague effort to resist our superior might.
The locals are now known for their lack of intuition. Even the lower life forms of the local planet know to fear us and retreat. The dominant bipedal beings however, know not when to have peace, or when to surrender. They charge at us from impulsive urges of their naïve heroism.
We are, however, still dominant on this planet. We can do it. We can win.
I woke up with the sound of boots thudding around the trench's wooden floor boards. I still felt relatively sleep deprived. I looked around at the people who came marching in. All of them were new. Fresh recruits, dragged over here from boot camp.
At the time, I started to think, 'they're all too tidy. They'll be slaughtered in seven seconds flat.' Then I suddenly wondered, 'why are there so many replacements? Where is the original battalion?'
I slowly began to go over the possibilities, refusing to believe that the nightmare I had was real.
That hope was instantly obliterated when a young, fresh faced private, who looked too young to actually be in the army (most rookies were like that), came up to me.
"Excuse me sir," he began, "are you from the previous battalion?"
"Previous?" I asked (a little more shaky than I had expected), "what do you mean previous?"
"Well, we were told that just about everyone on the frontline went missing after these giant metal monsters appeared from the sky."
The boy (I assumed he was under the age of eighteen) described all the information that the people in reserve were informed of. It was common belief by the replacements, and those who didn't fight the Martians that giant canisters fell from the sky and blasted at both sides with giant guns, but were quickly dispatched after valiant charges of our soldiers. The Germans were not mentioned at all, other than there being a ceasefire.
Obviously, not enough survivors had been able to tell of the Martians accurately. Rumour had it that the Martians would be easier to fight than the Huns, as they had fewer people.
"Where is the commander?" I asked.
"Lieutenant Barley is over there," gestured the boy, "I'm not sure where the Captain is though."
The man was relatively stout, and a bit to plump compared to my previous officers. Barely out of officer school.
I walked over to the overfed child of a soldier. "Hey!" I yelled. It astonishes me how rude I was acting out of my shock. "Hey you!"
The officer turned to look at me. At first he was enraged by being addressed in such a manner, but seeing my rag-tad attire blew away most of his confidence.
"Who are you? What Battalion are you from?" He demanded in a voice that betrayed him.
I quickly gave a relay of my rank and unit. "Do you have any idea what we are up against?" I ask.
"Of course I do!" He replied, trying his best to feign confidence. "We're fighting men from Mars."
I sighed. "And do you think we can win?"
"Well you could never be more wrong in you're life!" I exclaimed. "We aren't fighting men from anywhere! We're fighting against monsters from a hell that is above us!"
I explained to the fresh faced lieutenant (and most of the platoon, as they all turned to look who had the nerve to berate an officer) of what happened that previous day. Of the landing of the Martians, the slaughter that took place and the day that I spent in with the German soldier.
"Preposterous!" Said the lieutenant, gaining some confidence after talking to a mad man. "You must be shell shocked!"
I felt enraged by the man's inability to understand the complexity of the situation, and I was about to elaborate further when my train of thought was broken by the sound of distant gunfire further south.
One of the recruits nearby tried to peak up over the trench, but I quickly grabbed him and pulled him back in out of reflex.
The sound of battle slowly faded away into nothingness. Not long afterward, a new battle started closer towards our position, but was cut away too. Gradually the sound of battle came towards our direction, until it was audibly at the battalion next to ours.
It seemed that the Captain had shown up on time to witness the battle. "To your stations!" he shouted, with a cold type of confidence that was reassuring for a brief moment.
Everyone in the trench was trying to remain as calm as they could. I remember thinking them as foolish at the time. I knew there was no hope of us wining against the almost god-like opposition of which we were to face.
The sound of machine-gun and rifle fire eventually silenced once again.
The suspense brought by the situation had made me want to scream. To shout. To make as much noise as physically possible, just so the silence would be filled. I knew, however, that had I done so, the captain would have me shot personally.
By then the striding of the Martian machines were audible, and I was quite sure that I heard a dead tree being uprooted (I hoped that said tree was not used as a forward spy post).
Suddenly, the striding of the machines stopped. I tried everything to block away the image of the Martian war machines looking into our trench, aiming their heat ray to blast all contents within.
Most of the men in the trench (myself included) had looked over the trench to see things for themselves, and we found that the Boche did likewise.
There were four of the Martian war machines, standing in the middle of no mans land, in what seemed vaguely like a crescent formation. They stood there, with their bodies facing the sky, and their tentacle appendixes limp, like a man pondering something about space.
Then, one of the tripods howled louder than a steamboat, waving it's limbs ceremoniously, "Aloo!" Soon the other Martians followed. "Aloo! Aloo!"
It was as if they were performing a war cry or a ritual of some sort. Any which way, I had the action was not one of sufficient intellectual thought, as the deafening howl would assist in alerting both our armies, and the German ones of their presence and location. At the time, I did not know that the Martians could not hear in our atmosphere.
I don't remember who fired first between the us, the Germans or the Martians, but I remember that half of the battalion was incinerated within the first few shots.
The Martian machines were shooting at us half-heartedly the way a man would sweep at flies. I wondered how they thought of our attacks. When we fire at them, do they see a united military? Do our weapons seem like toys to them? Do they view us the way we view an infestation of rats?
A shot impacted onto one of the machine's hood. We cheered at the sight of the machine stumbling, but the Martian quickly regained it's footing, and faced the direction of the German trenches. It shot what looked at first like a series of artillery shells. The Martian then turned to the direction of our artillery positions and fired another series of small canisters. Not long after, the sound of artillery fire diminished to what I estimated was less than two batteries. The canisters shot were filled with poisonous gas, and the artillerymen did not have time to put on gas masks, and died in agony, and what seemed in vain at the time.
The firing from the trenches had general stopped completely. Many people were crawling out of the trenches in an effort to run from the Metal warriors, only for half of them to be quickly cut down by another half-hearted ray of invisible heat.
The tripods continued to walk Northward, to areas that they have not swept up yet, ignoring the fleeing stragglers, though occasionally shooting a few short jets of heat at a persistent machine gun nest, or remaining artillery.
Then, I heard the cheering voices of men. Everyone was looking towards our side of the battlefield and cheering, and I turned to see a sight of loud, clumsy, bulky, clattering machines of human, of British manufacture. Rolling slowly towards the Martians was a line of about a dozen tanks (land ships was the more official name, but the name tank stuck to the bulky, water tank like vehicles).
That was when I concluded that the Martians simply must acknowledge our intelligence, for us to be able to design such machines.
Authors note: I apologise that this fanfic is taking so long to write. I was a little stuck on how to write the first few chapters, and kept procrastinating.
Thanks for all the reviews, it convinced me to continue writing.
And to anyone who may have misunderstood the summary, this is about what would have happened if the Martians decided to invade in the middle of the first world war, rather than in 1900 as in the original novel.