“It’s quite incredible, really,” said the commander, examining the scans. “Pinpoint orbital strikes on what might have been major population centers, some minor infrastructure traces, and an atmosphere that suggests major sapient-induced changes within the last hundred dekacycles.”

“Just like the others?” said the adjutant.

“Quite,” the commander said. “It’s like looking into a terrible alternate past, isn’t it? There but for chance go we. If we’d been discovered…?”

“Why do you suppose it was done?” the adjutant said. “Clearly there was an intelligence at work here.”

“We may never know.”

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