The sun sets on the lowest tide Mars had ever seen. Small creatures clung to the basaltic rocks and waved tiny flagella at that distant star, almost as if that plaintive gesture of goodbye would allow for one more perfect day.

Now, the ebb and flow of the stinging, salted seas was waning. Their dark green waves would cease to froth against the cracked rocks of the shore and the deep crimson sunset would have nothing to reflect off of. The atmosphere became choked with dust storms blowing ceaselessly from the dying inner continents and what life there was forced underground; the water frozen even deeper. There was nothing left for the planet to do but die utterly.

Rust. The mountains far away are rust, the sand sifting through crevices pools in crater beds like a liquid, the only existing seas on Mars. A twisting dust devil plows unheeded across the plain, in the salmon pink sky a bombastic rumbling is heard, distant thunder and the all-too-brief illuminations of lightning strikes hitting the forever parched ground. Not much can be seen without them as voluminous clouds of dust roll in from the south, tenuous winds roaring at a hundred miles per hour. These winds fill the billowing fabric of something falling out of the sky, blowing it far to the unmolested north – an emissary from the black, star sprinkled night.

Pale wisps of fragile cloud hangs around the shorn cliff face, the warmth of the local noon bleeding the hidden permafrost off into rivulets of salty sludge that runs down the red, red rocks. Overhead, glinting in stunning electric silver splashes a metallic orb hangs from a parachute. The glint changes to even brighter blasts of light as steam explodes from underneath the landing stranger. Dislodging small spheres of hematite and silicate, it forces forth a gush of rusted Martian mud.

With a loud crack the orb splits along seem lines and four petals unfold, the first flower ever seen on this world. The visitor crinkles and cracks, making foreign noises in the thin air. Small appendages unfurl to smell the sky, to taste the soil, and drink deep from the frozen seas.  Yet these bits of waking metal, this alien presence will fail in its mission. Almost as soon as it starts, it stops. For its warm, its friendly vibrations so steady and so attractive encourage little creatures to peak out from their damaged hovels.

They move towards this metal emissary, swarming it, their combined weight forcing it to tip and snapping off its fragile antennae, inadvertently blinding and deafening their visitor. The beasts huddle on the white surface, ignoring the red and gold symbols of its origin; CCCP meaningless as an amino acid chain is to a toddler.

Mankind has arrived. There will be other landers, even wheeled machines with nuclear engines. One day soon, perambulating about on two legs, will arrive the offspring of Earth to greet the offspring of Mars.