Prologue: The Eve of the War

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

H. G. Wells wrote those words in the opening to his famous book, The War of the Worlds. While suggestions of alien invasion are often met with skepticism if not derision, and while Mars has, for decades, been held as lifeless and barren for some millennia, Wells had no idea how right he would turn out to be.

It all started with the Ares mission. The National Science Board had always wanted a program to explore Mars with men, even during the days of the Apollo program – back when it was still NASA. Now, on June 26, 2070, that dream was finally being realized.

I was one member of the first human crew to set foot upon the Red Planet, following the wheel tracks of dozens of probes before us. Little did we know that we were not the only living beings to tread upon that rusty sand...