Jupiter was a grey and dismal spheroid, its atmosphere mostly blown away into the vast darkness beyond the heliopause. Its moons were lost, scattered by the blast that had come thousands of years ago.

Lady Schrone floated in front of the ship’s window wall, looking out through the crystal at the sad remnants of the prince of worlds. She could not – could not – reconcile it with the images in the historical atlases.

She sighed, then spoke a command to the ship. In a burst of inertialess acceleration, Jupiter dwindled to a disc, a point, nothing.

The ship settled into orbit around the blackened cinder that was the remnant of Earth. She found her body wanting to weep for humanity’s cradle, but there was far too much to be done. Sorrow would have to wait for a more appropriate time.

As she waited, the swollen, ruddy sun peeked over the limb of Earth. The observation sphere filled with crimson light, and she shaded her eyes. Then the overrides came on and the crystal went grey like smoked glass.

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