The dust of the desert swirled in small eddies as the hot breeze rode over the surface of the sand. A long tailed kangaroo rat moved low to the ground poking around in the sand near the sparse vegetation seeking sustenance. Seeds were it's primary food source, the rat storing more than it would eat. As the rat moved the creatures watched it come closer. They needed a host to get out of this place. They knew there were higher lifeforms but not where. Their ship had crashed hard in the desert and they didn't have the ability to recreate it or the energy to power a ship. All of their swarm was of a biological nature and could only create, or imitate life forms.

Until they could find a higher life form with the ability to manipulate chemistry, they were stranded in the middle of a desert. The rat moved closer and stopped to look at the oddly moving dust particle that seemed to float above the surface of the ground. It was odd and the rat nearly bolted away. But after a moment, it settled back to digging near a small plant that might have seeds buried nearby. When it was finished digging, it moved right through the swarm.

Each of the swarm members took a leap, powered by tiny engines, each attracted to the next by some unseen force. Some of them stuck to the creature, some fell back to the sand never to be heard from again. Immediately, the biological processing began, some of the creatures injected themselves into the rat. Some burrowed just under the skin, others moved to the eyes, nostrils, mouth and other parts and began to reproduce rapidly. More rapidly than even the rat could comprehend.

One moment, the rat was a rat. A few milliseconds later the rat was no more. In its place stood a perfectly copy, identical in every respect except that inside tiny nano-creatures, intelligent machines lived, worked and moved - and most important, controlled the virtual rat.

With a new purpose the Rat moved - this time putting distance between it's old home burrow and itself, moving generally in the direction the swarm had last detected what may have been the signs of a civilization of some highly advanced creatures on this unfortunate world upon which the swarm had unceremoniously found itself in the crash.

The neo-Rat needed water and food just like the old one, but there was no time to stop now. The controllers moved the creature toward what appeared to be a kind of city in the distance. Bipedal creatures could be seen moving around.

As the neo-Rat approached the city a piercing sound - an alarm perhaps? - was sounding and the bipeds were running in all directions. The creatures were running into holes in the structures and closing doors.

Moments later the neo-Rat stood alone in a street, looking and seeing no one. None of the bipeds were around, the alarm was still sounding.

A brilliant flash of light blinded the neo-Rat and nano-units instantly started to do repairs. But a sudden burst of gamma radiation hit the neo-Rat instantly killing cells, nano-units and even viruses that floated about on the surface of the neo-Rat's skin. When the fireball from the nuclear detonation hit, the nanites were vaporized.

There was no thinking, no consideration, no understanding of what happened. They just "Weren't' any more.

They simply didn't expect to crash land on a planet called Earth, in the middle of a nuclear war, its entire population fighting everyone.

Thus ended the first expedition of a race of creatures created to explore the galaxy.

Post Script

Weeks later, far away from the blast zone, a lone, nearly dead nanite watched a six legged insect walking towards it. Perhaps, as the thinking goes, "there might be a chance". The cockroach assisted the weakened nanite by ingesting it.