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A murky red sky it was, well kind of. They had to land now, Direct Orbital Approach… First aero breaking, than Retro rockets, than chutes, than more retro- rocketry…

The Lander started to glow, a tiny speck in the sky. She might have been visible from Mars Base One.  Nobody was watching though, everybody down there was busy playing ground control.

The noise level was growing bad, sonic boom included.

“Chutes… Numbers within Viking reference, temperature normal pressure 3 mbar. Vision: Bad”.

“Changing filters! I want visual when we loose the chutes, the last 200 L we need to stay clear of boulders! (If there are any)”

“Roger, this better? There go the parachutes! Retro, and hover! Debby she’s all yours, do find us a free parking space!”

The computers had done all the flying, well falling, up till, (down till?) now. And they would do that until they hit rock bottom, dirt, or maybe just plane dirt. That would probably be all right, but just to be sure, they could take over now, if need be.

“5 mbar, we’re drifting, hidari no desu! 150 L. Clear, going down, (2km/h, 0.5. 0.25). We’re down. We’re in a cloud!” (To the left!)

“Changing filters, I want to look around! Wolfs, check list”

“Roger, all stations general check”

No sound, well, the sound of cooling metal, and something like a distant thunder, or rumble coming from outside, sound from outside the ship, amazing. It would take the ship an hour to cool down, fumes had to drift away, everything had to be checked, there was still a lot of dust coming down, well you know the drills.

“Where are we, lets see, we’re within 200 of our spot, small rocks, gravel, legs are clear. Turning cameras. I can smoky mountains, about 4 km away from here. The dust is settling down. Expect windows clearance in 5 minutes”


A pebble started to slide down. Some dust had moved by the noise of the Lander coming through the sound barrier.

The dust had been supporting sand grains lying around on the North Slope of the huge Crater for about 300 Martian years. Columbus hadn’t even been born… Well who cares he wasn’t a Martian we think. The sand grains bumped into more sand grains, stirring up more of the red gray dust again. You wouldn’t have seen nothing no more…

“Changing filters, lets try with Natural. Seems like we started an Avalanche over there. Well we’re well clear, miles and miles. We got a phone-call people!  (“Hi you too”), I’ll put them on the system.”

“You’re on the system. Over”

“Dawn here, ground control, seems you got down just fine. How’s the patient?”

“Debby here, not good. Say again: not good. This is going to be narrow. We’ll get the balloon up as soon as we can”

“Roger. We got you on seismograph too. Twice, what happened? About 3 clicks away from you”  

“Avalanche of some sorts, seems to settle down now. Tap into the camera signal. There you are. Well Dust!”

“No reason to swear… Well Mars Base out I guess. You got work to do, we’ll stay near the phone be sure.”

“Ship out”


The sand had moved some pebbles. They hadn’t moved since the first Crusade, wrong planet, one of the pebbles, a brown one actually, kind of porous. Might have been of volcanic origin, pushed a rather big boulder out of balance.

A gray boulder; and than things really got moving, it looked like the solar system all over again. But that’s an ancient story.  It took hours for all the dust to clear.


“Yo crew, Airtha is gone, phone the Base. They can send a cable to Earth. I don’t know what to say. Wolfs take over coordination”.


“Roger. Taking over. Lauhmuni. Thunnar. Whatever. (Thor’s Lightning). Ga thrastjan? Who can comfort us?”

“Yeah, I don’t know that word, that’s Old Saxon? Let’s keep the old gods out of it”

“Yeah, sorry Bo.”


They all were silent, the ship had to cool down, they had to pack and to unpack things. Debby was taking care of her sister. Body had to be frozen, regulations…


It was raining tiny rust particles. The temperature: minus 40, Centigrade, one fine morning on Mars.