Fifty years after the end of the conflict, the wasteland showed only the barest trace of green. The bodies were gone, bleached bones covered in dry, shifting earth. No vegetation anchored it, and winds blew the earth from drift to drift. Here and there, desert animals were returning: rodents and in their wake, small predators and raptors.
The earth licked its wounds, letting the toxins leach away and the scars close over. On the hillock, a gun carriage rotted into the earth, the only evidence of man in the landscape that stretched from horizon to horizon, a dried-up lake, a range of hills, and a dense mist where the ocean lay. Or had done once.
The two emissaries took a last look at the emptiness before turning back to their shuttle. They had arrived too late to make contact…
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