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The Ruins of Shelley's World
by mortaine

Fifty thousand years ago, this was home to Titan Colony, giants of industry and growth.They covered their planet with cities and created unending levels of pollution.
Other worlds were viewed as resources to be exploited and visitors to those worlds returned with tales of vast spaces, raw materials for building and making new things, and more food than their population would ever need.

Those visitors.... lied.
For millennia, their ingenuity and avarice was unmatched.
Towering buildings spiralled up into the sky, changing the patterns of clouds and the weather. Rain fell upon the upmost levels of the buildings, while far below, in the shadows of these behemoths, lay a dark, arid desert of concrete and steel.The heart of their civilization was the efficient exploitation of raw goods, the appropriation of any cultural icon or image from others, and the unending greed. The wanting, the wanting.
Children sang of this. Elders derided their songs as being childish folk music.

Few paid attention to the hollow core of their society.

In dark corners and private rooms, however, some spoke furtively of their childish dreams of justice, equality. Of living in parity. Of bringing the sacred back to the sheer process of life.

But like anything that humanity creates, after thousands of years, the tide shifted. The planet simply could not sustain. Earthquakes cracked the earth and the enormous buildings atop its crust. Severe weather heralded deep changes. The planet was shaking the colonists off like a bad cold.
There was a fall. The same people who built the world began to dismantle it. Cannibalizing their past to desperately save a future they were no longer guaranteed.
But Nature never forgets.

Or forgives.

An echo thousands of years later, they built tiny homes, low to the ground, humble. Out of natural materials that would return to the land when they were done.

Of all the lessons they could have learned, they learned to return to the land.

But it did not matter. Not in the least.

And in the end, despite their attempts to rescue themselves, their society succumbed to predators, illness, and starvation.

Their legacy was a story of wretched excess brought to an end with blood-soaked sheets and a rattling cough that heralded death in the night.