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The Ruins of Byron's World
by mortaine

They say everything comes to an end. Here, in the sand, their first colony sank like a ship in the ocean, slipping beneath the waves of earth while its hapless inhabitants screamed for mercy from a deaf god.
The settlers of Byron's World formed their settlement far belowground, initially because the world was filled with light-- too much light! Light suffusing everything. Even the children glowed.

They brought things from Earth that reflected their values. They were a people who heard the music of their legacies, but never listened.

This is all that is left of the First Settlement of Byron's World. Their biggest mistake lies beneath the poisoned sand, forgotten and unknown.

Moving closer to the surface, they started anew. A new society; with vaults of glass and gold and a dedication to beauty and artistic expression.
The artifacts and perfectly preserved mummies of the dead reflect this new generation.
If you listen closely here, you can hear the song of the Age of Gold. They say it's the spirits of the dead, singing the praises of their ancestors. But in truth, it's the wind whistling through cracks in the glass, keening and lonely. There are no souls here.

The Third Settlement began as an experiment in functional design, built to oppose the artistic excesses and wastefulness of the previous Age.

That opposition more evident here, where the Birthing Vaults begin.

This was a society that distilled and controlled everything down to the most efficient use of time, caloric intake. Austerity was king. Their world had been forever altered by the excesses of the previous age, and they were clawing their way back to sustainability.

Even the creation of life was regulated, measured, controlled, removed from individual choice. For the betterment of the species, they robbed themselves of the very instincts that made them fit enough to survive.

But everything comes to an end: they succumbed to the Plague of the First Year.

The Fourth Settlement must have been empty for ages before the colonists finally occupied it.
This snowman was a stark contrast to the unoccupied, industrial ruins of the Fourth Settlement. With the dark sun in the distance, it's easy to see why the cold and ice have lingered for so long.
But must everything come to an end? The Fourth Settlement built a device to launch us toward the stars.

It's a broken shell now, leaving only questions to be answered. Who built it? What happened during the Last War? Did the starliner work?

Are we alone in the universe?When activated, it would have saved humanity. Or, perhaps, destroyed it.
Finally, at the end of it all, they fell silent. There are no more works, no more colonies. Only the ruins, here in the sand and snow. A wasted, empty land.