While your ship's integrated intelligence gathers and collates the results of orbital scans, you fire off a mote-probe, ride the sensor data it sends back as it drops toward the surface. The atmosphere reads as thin, very thin, but still present. Further down, there are winds, wild, strong winds that tear through the pale gray sky, weather the red-brown stones on the surface into thin arches, tall, towering chimneys and other howling, elegant shapes. You spend a handful of minutes just cruising over the surface, taking in the smooth, snaking canyons where sand and wind and time have worn elaborate patterns into rock, into a landscape that looks and reads as though it has never been crossed by human feet or touched by human hands.
Briefly you imagine what it would be like to wander through these canyons, to feel the gritty smoothness of weathered stone walls with your fingers, roll the dust and sand in the palms of your hands. In your mind, you can see yourself sitting cross-legged on a rounded boulder, waiting for the sun to crest and glow at the golden horizon. What alien gods would rise out of the sand before you if you were to sit there, witness a sunrise no other human has witnessed? What spirits would speak to you in the long, cold nights? Would there be spirits at all?
Impossible to say. Impossible to know.
Coming back, you trigger the mote-probe's return sequence, upload notes on the world to the network while you wait. It takes only a few minutes, in some ways feels like so much longer. Part of you doesn't want to leave the little world behind. Part of you wants to stay, explore a little more, but there are other wonders to see, to commune with in the wide void of the universe.
Smiling, you spin up your ship's phasedrive, turn the nose toward the stars.
The universe awaits.
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