“It looks like there might once have been a pretty advanced civilization down there, but there’s little sign of it now.”

“Oh?”

“Some ruins, evidence of road networks. Not much to go on.”

“Any life?”

“Microbe-analogs and a few eukaryote-equivalents. Nothing larger than that, the environment is too degraded for it.”

“What makes you so sure there was an advanced civilization, then? Or any sapients at all?”

“There. See this space station there, in orbit? Very cannily placed, very precise orbital insertion. And, according to this, one passenger. Or their remains, anyhow.”

“How long…?”

“Millennia. There’s no way to know how long exactly. But they, whoever and whatever they were, had a ringside seat to the end of their world.”

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