For thousands of years, the red planet has called out to us. The call is subtle, and strong. We tell ourselves that its red colour fascinates us, but the call is deeper and more urgent than humans can know. It resonates our cell membranes and haunts the dreams of mitochondria. The whales sing, sleepily, of the call from beyond the world. Baking in the sun, the snakes imagine sliding in the sands of the planet that has almost forgotten water.
It's a distress call.
Our sister world, so alike Earth in the Sun's youth, is dying. Once a home to life, the long slow drought covered the lands with salt and sand. Life adapted and persevered, filtering underground, following the water, hibernating for ever longer periods as Mars' heartbeat slowed. What remains is quiet, buried and hidden... and waiting. This unknown biosphere knows it cannot defeat time - Mars will never return to Noachian wetness until the sun begins to burn to death - so it calls out across space and time for aid, and clings precariously to its last remaining niches, hoping against hope for another chance at the future.
It's no accident so many cultures associated Mars with war. It is a planet of war, unlike anything Earth has ever seen - a hopeless fight, burning for a billion years, as the Martian biosphere struggles desperately for survival. Early astronomical observations led us to imagine we watched the efforts of a dying civilisation to survive; we were simply placing our subconscious awareness of Mars' distress call onto the wrong evidence.
Earth has heard her sister's plea. She has slowly concentrated vast reserves of fuels beneath her skin in preparation. At great cost to her own ecological integrity, a technological species has been pulled into existence. Earth, survivor of five mass extinctions, is undergoing a sixth for the sake of her sister. It is a terrible gamble, undertaken only because the survival of Martian biopoiesis is at stake.
Only a technological species is capable of building the vessels and machines necessary to cross the space between Earth and Mars. Only we have the knowledge and capability to sift the Martian sands for the rare and precious secrets they hide. The sacred duty of humans, as representatives of the Gaian biosphere, is to locate and aid the last surviving remnants of Martian life. Only with our help will life on Mars have another chance.
Earth is mounting a rescue mission.