Vera Rubin Ridge

A creature, whose body was plasmic for a moment before solidifying into form, crouched behind a riff of sandy rock.

Its eyes blinked at the tiny sun, just coming into a morning exposure to the surface that would last another 25 hours. Things came into focus. Most of it blended into a dusty stretch of terrain with solid stone structures in the backdrop until it met the dirty plains that syphoned into the valley.

The small creature had one reason to surface as it did. Something was disturbing the upper tunnels of its great under-city. As a martial scout, it was what the fathers called ‘duty’ to observe and protect this stretch of surface, and it was his current post to serve such a duty. Two large black eyes scanned for something, anything. There were no signs of rockslides or exterior disturbances along this side of Vera Rubin Ridge or further across on the interior lip of Gale Crater. Still, the hematite laden caverns hummed a song of trespass and finite dust.

Many sentries would be called, no, awakened, titled from their slumbers along the span of ridges in the ecological neighborhoods. Searching fervently at a dry, desolate landscape that once held a lake here over 100,000 years ago, All but one scout would return to torpor. That one would sight any treachery slanted by the other mega-cities. And destroy them.

Before their time of slumber, the Martians realized the water was lost. Each city submitted itself into a hybernative languor until the world would support them once again. What often was called by universal outsiders as just a crater, was in actuality a submission zone. These were submergences of whole cities that slept beneath the dying soils to await their future paradise. But a sleeping body is prone in more ways than one. Thus, the pathfinder. The slightest disturbance would rouse their patriotism, and if they did not succeed, their death would wake an army. An army so large as to defy our concept of numbers.

Settled down below, hidden behind a cluster of jagged rock, was an alien. Its dull silver body was pathetically camouflaged to the terrain. Suddenly it lurched forward, moved a few rolling steps towards the scout’s location, and paused boldly out in the open.

Startled to action, the homeland emissary focused the energy of its mind into a manifestation of molecular agitation, amplified through a strange hematite rod pointing down towards the intruder. The many-footed interloper flew apart in a whirlwind of scattering metal and plastics.
A man with a crooked necktie and a wild comb over stands up from his monitor, “Sir, Curiosity Rover transmission just went black.”