Since we have a few hours before arriving at the colony, I decide to take a nap. It seems like only minutes pass, when, for the third time today, Ramos wakes me up.
"Ramos, what is it now?"
"We're preparing for final descent. Man, I think you're gonna want to see this."
I figured by now, I would have built up some resistance to Septimus Syndrome. Okay, it's not a real disorder, at least not yet. But that's what I call the endless beating your mind takes by looking at the worldsphere. I was wrong. As we got close enough to the surface to make out details, all my preconceptions about what to expect exploded in a blinding flash and a puff of smoke. Truth be told, I'm not sure why, but I always assumed the builders were the last inhabitants of Septimus and when they left, how ever many aeons ago that was, the worldsphere remained hidden and abandoned until we humans came along. Maybe since we have never discovered any life on any planets humans have explored, I figured we were really alone out here. Yet, as we approach the island where the Rojas colony is located, I can see dozens, maybe hundreds of structures scattered all over the surface of Septimus. Some look like roads or railways, others like towns and cities. At this distance, it is impossible to tell if any of the settlements are inhabited...
"No EM, except for the colony transponder," Juanita said, as if anticipating my next question.
"Can we get hi-mag?", asked Chevsky.
Some of the control systems were still damaged from the jump, but Juanita and I were able to get the telescope deployed in a few minutes. As the high-mag feed appeared on the main viewer, I got the sense for first time that I was going to die on Septimus and that death would not be quiet, peaceful and painless. Everywhere we looked, we saw ruin. Broken cities, worn down by the ages could be seen everywhere. Below us were huge craters and gouges that tore up the surface, though a lot of it was overgrown with vegetation. I'm no expert on archaeology, but it sure looked like more than one group of people built all those structures. There were different styles of architecture. Some cities had pyramids, others didn't. The layout of some of the cities was very angular, for others it wasn't. Some cities appeared older and almost completely eroded away. Others seemed more recent, though probably still ancient. But one thing all the cities seemed to share. They didn't die from neglect, they were destroyed. Chevsky was the first to speak.
"We better get to the colony."
I could hear the fear in his voice. It was first time since I'd met the man that he showed fear of anything. No one else knew what to say. We continued on to the colony in silence.