“Neither is the composition of the Black Smoke known, which the Martians used with such deadly effect, and the generator of the Heat-Rays remains a puzzle. The terrible disasters at the Ealing and South Kensington laboratories have disinclined analysts for further investigations upon the latter. Spectrum analysis of the black powder points unmistakably to the presence of an unknown element…”
The disaster at Ealing laboratories was the first attempted removal of the Heat Ray device from a Fighting Machine. What is known is that, despite the dormancy of the machine, the power generator was still active and caused an explosion which claimed the lives of the entire scientific team.
The second disaster, at South Kensington, involved the death of only one technician but caused many thousands of pounds worth of damage. The power generator device and heat ray had been decoupled from a fighting machine but upon activation it was found that there are sensitive control mechanisms within the cowl of the machine. As many of the components communicated with the power generator using unknown wireless means, this was an understandable error.
For the next few months, all investigations of the Heat Ray have been within the confines of intact Fighting Machines. Thankfully, there were still several of them with which the military scientists can work. Even with this limitation, there were amazing breakthroughs in the areas of adaptive hydraulics and inorganic ‘muscular’ machines for lifting and loading.
In an unparalleled level of co-operation, the Government permitted the Americans to send some of their top men to view the Martian devices. These scientists worked with the Naval Science Liaison, Harry Matthews, and successfully decoupled the Heat Ray from the generator. One of the scientists involved, Nikola Tesla, would later ‘defect’ to the United Kingdom in order to spend more time with the technology, a move which caused strained relations with the Americans for several years. Treaties of mutual co-operation and sharing of technology were only a partial solution and the scientists were forever escorted by bodyguards due to the danger of espionage.
Tesla and Matthews quickly became the acknowledged worldwide experts on the process of understanding and reproducing Martian technology.