Return to Mars is part 2 of the saga of Kelem Rogeston, a 27th century Martian psychic and scientific genius. After being stranded on the alien world Plantanimus for six years, Kelem and Ndugu Nabole return to the human solar system courtesy of the Kren, the insectoid species they met while on Plantanimus. Upon their return they learn that the Phalanx, an evil fascist organization from Earth, has taken over the Terran Government and invaded Mars. The red planet has become a slave colony for Earth, forced to manufacture goods and technology for the mother planet. Kelem joins the resistance and eventually becomes the leader of the Martian rebels. With his psychic powers enhanced by his connection to the Dreamers of Plantanimus, the sentient plant life he met while stranded there, Kelem and the rebels defeat the Terran invaders. Return to Mars is full of epic space battles, sinister characters bent on total control of the Martian population and powerful psychics fighting on both sides of the conflict.
Colonel Jude Voltanieu was bent forward in intense mental concentration sitting in the co-pilot’s chair of his custom made shuttle. He and his pilot were chasing a rogue ship in the Hellas Planitia in the middle of the worst Martian dust storm in years. Less than an hour earlier he had been reading reports at the Hellas Rim base commandant’s office, when he psychically sensed the proximity of the man that he’d been trying to identify for several weeks. He realized that in a lucky twist of fate the man had come to him. He was somewhere near! And he had brought some of his friends with him! He woke up his pilot and soon they were headed north. His psychic intuition told him that’s where the man was. Soon after take-off, his ship’s radar showed an intermittent blip heading eastwards traveling barely above the ground at an insane speed, and Jude Voltanieu knew that his mystery man was on that ship! The rogue was trying to jam their radar, but Jude Voltanieu’s radar was practically interference-proof. Now his pilot was pushing the engines hard gaining steadily on the rebel ship. “Sir, whoever that pilot is, he’s either insane or he has the reflexes of a super computer!” His pilot exclaimed, worried that both vessels would end up slamming against the edge of the crater any moment now. The other ship suddenly slammed on its air brakes and Jude’s ship shot past it. Jude Voltanieu suddenly lost pscychic link with one of the females on the rogue ship that he was just about to identify, and cursing with frustration, he took over the controls of the ship. His pilot was the best in the Terran Occupation Fleet, but Colonel Voltanieu was the best pilot on Earth. The other ship veered southeast heading toward the Martian South Pole, but Jude knew it was a faint. Jude also turned south-east but at a narrower angle knowing that the rogue ship was going to veer north any second now. He told his pilot, now co-pilot, to aim the shuttle’s rail guns directly ahead and wait for his order to fire. As soon as the other ship changed course, Jude gave the order and a long stream of ammunition traveling at several times the speed of sound issued forth from his shuttle like fire from a dragon’s mouth. But the other ship again maneuvered right almost at the same time that his rail guns went off and the shots missed the ship by several kilometers. “Who is this son of a bitch?” his pilot asked, impressed by the skills of the man piloting the renegade vessel. “A ghost, a god-dammed ghost!” Jude swore gritting his teeth as he rammed the throttle to maximum and the ship jumped forward shaking and rattling as it neared its maximum safe speed limit. Adriana saw the other ship suddenly shoot forward in their direction. “Kelem, the other ship has caught up with us!” she yelled above the roar of the engines. Kelem looked on his radar screen and saw the blip of the other ship coming at them at near missile speed and cursed under his breath. He didn’t know if the other ship was at its maximum velocity this low to the ground or if it still had more juice in its engines. Whatever capacity his adversary’s ship’s engines had, the man was surely burning a lot of fuel. Kelem guessed the thing was a two-seater, fast and agile. But once again, Kelem prepared to slam on the air brakes and let the other ship pass him. This time he alerted Adam to send a volley of rail gun fire in the direction of flight the moment he hit the brakes. His adversary would fly straight into his line of fire. “Ready?... Now!” Kelem yelled as Adam released all six rail guns and the shuttle decelerated and veered left pulling almost seven g’s. Without fail, Jude Voltanieu’s ship flew right into the stream of fire as several pellets of depleted uranium converted into plasma by the rail guns, slammed into the ship’s fuselage. The barrage didn’t hit any major mechanical parts, but now his co-pilot lay slumped forward on the instrument panel with half of his brains missing. The decompression alarm went off indicating the cabin was losing air pressure, and Jude grabbed his helmet and slammed it shut. Jude Voltanieu screamed with frustration as he also turned north firing his guns repeatedly in a blind rage. Kelem was sure that his enemy had by now burned and crashed, until with utter surprise, he noticed the blip on his radar screen relentlessly following him as streams of rail gun fire shot past him. He realized that he couldn’t outrun this ship and that eventually it would catch up with them. Its rail guns would tear their ship apart. Kelem turned around and called Loeky over. ”Major, go grab ‘the package’ and put it in the air lock, and for god’s sake hurry!” The older man raced to the back of the cabin and ran to the airlock door with the explosive that Kelem had put together. The bomb was a short stubby cylinder with rings of tubes and cables around it. He opened the inner door and put the cylinder inside and then closed the door. “Attention everyone, please make sure that your harness is on tight. I’m going to be executing a very sharp maneuver and I don’t want anybody coming lose and breaking their neck!” Then he called out to Jake, “Jake, make sure that Nicolas is strapped in good and tight!” Jake left his seat and sat next to Nicolas and adjusted his harness, then strapped himself on the chair next to him with his right arm over the old man’s chest for extra measure. Jude Voltanieu was closing in on the other ship fast and was almost within firing range. He had the ship’s night vision on and as he came closer to the other ship he recognized it as a medium size Terran shuttle! “Well! Whoever this man and his friends are they’re about to die!” he exclaimed jubilantly. As Jude reached for the firing button on his controls, the other ship suddenly and unexpectedly shot upwards almost vertically. Jude reacted within milliseconds and matched the bigger heavier vessel’s move, knowing that the other ship couldn’t climb as fast as his lighter more maneuverable shuttle. The other ship was actually attempting a loop! Jude laughed at the other pilot’s pointless effort which was draining speed and altitude from the bigger ship and would bring it into his sights within in a second or two. So concentrated on the other ship was he, that he didn’t notice a small blip on his radar leaving the other ship and heading towards his. Without warning, the rogue ship flipped left and dove down. Jude was about to correct when a blinding explosion went off in front of him hitting the shuttle with great force. Stunned, Jude tried to grab the controls but the ship was falling and spinning so fast, he couldn’t reach them. The windows failed and the cabin filled with swirling red-brown Martian dust. He lost consciousness and the world went black.
Born in South America and raised in the United States, Joseph M. Armillas is an actor, musician, writer, and veteran of the US Army. He is also the author of Awakening, the first of the Plantanimus Trilogy. He lives in Los Angeles, California.