Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

I watched as the Martian women came down the stairs from their shuttle onto the tarmac.

Regular Martian humans smeared red clay into their skin but these Ambassadors had tattooed their entire bodies red. They believed that if your skin matched the colour of your blood, you had purity of mind. Their hands and feet were intricately tattooed a darker shade of rust with rings of triangles, dots and bands. Their red cloaks billowed slowly in the calm summer day as they came closer to our delegation.

They were all wearing red sunglasses. Back home, their sun didn’t beat down on them the way ours did.

When Mars humans come to earth, our colour palette is sensory overload. The blue sky, the green trees, the black night. Putting on a pair of rose-coloured glasses helps them. They’re used to red dust coating everything, a small red sun, and twinkling red and pink stars nestling in the bloody ribbon of the Milky Way at night.

They were getting closer. They were taller and thinner than us. We waited in our suits under the July sun with some hand-picked reporters gathered around us. The Martian ship was clean of weapons but we had firearms just in case. Ever since the war ended ten years ago, our planets had been estranged. The planet named for the god of war had lost. Mars had seceded from the solar-system federation after that.

Now we were face to face in the silence of the tarmac. Every one of the Martian Ambassadors had the naturally ginger hair that was common on Mars. Strawberry blonde all the way down to a red-yarn scarlet that doesn’t exist on Earth.

The lead ambassador took off her glasses and smiled at me. Her eyes were a dark, iridescent, fire-flecked reddish brown that we didn’t have a word for. Hair the colour of a Kansas sunset pulled up tight above grenadine skin. An ornate pattern of red tattoos splayed across her exposed red arms and neck. Her nose had the same long sweep as the profile of the face on the Martian twenty-dollar bill.

“Mars is leaving.” She said in a startlingly low voice for such a fragile-looking person.

Confused, I waited for more but she was finished talking. “I don’t follow.” I replied. “You seceded from the System years ago. You have already left.”

“You do not understand.” She said again and smiled at me.

The buds in the ears of the reporters around me started up. The generals standing behind me reached for phones, nodded into them, and quickly walked to their vehicles.

The reporter to the left of me said into his communicator “Gone? How can it be gone?”

I looked back towards the lead Ambassador. She was still smiling.

“We have uncovered the secrets of the ones who lived in harmony before us on the red planet. We have discovered where they went. And we have extrapolated. We can bring the planet with us. We are here to tell you that in person. It’s only fair.” She said to me.

Then she turned to the other ambassadors and nodded. As one, they crossed their wrists. Some of the people around me reached for weapons but before they could draw, the Sisters shimmered, a crimson glow rippling around them, and disappeared with an arcing clap that ended in a twinkle of ruby light.

I stood there in the following silence and looked to the sky. I knew I’d be up on my roof tonight with my telescope looking for Mars.


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