Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“What is that which burns like the star had a child?”

“Terra of Sol Three, my bairn. Its residents called it ‘Earth’. It was beautiful.”

“Why does it burn, pata?”

“They had the war they said they’d never have.”

“That seems foolish.”

“It was. They lived on a planet with more shades of green than any place I have ever been. They had a host of creatures that gave voice; even had companion creatures. In addition to the dominant sentient primates, there were four pre-sentient aquatic species, two pre-sentient primate species, and a host of broad spectrum entities that we never properly catalogued.”

“They killed them too?”

“One could argue that a few hundred murdered billions. When you tally the number of lifeforms that abounded there, it is better the perpetrators died in the holocaust they made. We have not the penalties for a crime so all-encompassing.”

“Did they do so knowingly or were they insane?”

“Sanity is a trait that can change drastically depending on circumstance, my bairn. To the point where what is sanity for one can be insanity for others. I have no doubt that some thought themselves to be in the right, others thought themselves immune, and many more thought their chosen psycho-supportive idols would intervene. In the end, they all burned.”

“What remains?”

“Memory. Which, by the time the ashes cool, will be gone. I returned to renew my acquaintance with this, one of the most beautiful of worlds, scattered with a diversity of natural paradises almost completely ignored by the indigenes. I came back because I was forgetting. Now, I mourn that the forgetting will soon become total.”

“The death of memory being the final demise?”

“In all ways that matter to solid beings, yes. Those who are immaterial may have better of it, but the barrier betwixt us is as impenetrable as that between us and the dead.”

“Then Earth is dead?”

“Aye, my bairn. A glorious place made barren by fear and avarice. The naïve would simply blame a lack of communication, but, at the last, those who choose not to talk invariably have selfish reasons. Whichever of the two underpins the silences, it matters not.”

“What now, pata?”

“We note the loss of a destination. Then we move on.”

“Could there be survivors?”

“Scattered in off-planet habitats and suchlike? Undoubtedly. But, fewer than a viable colony at best.”

“Then we should leave them to their twilight. Anything else would be cruel.”

“Well said, my bairn. Let us begone.”