As Life is prolonged the Mind begins to expand and so does the civilization to which it belongs. Some Races evolve from biological to mechanical, others from matter into energy. Some Races become extinct and others simply continue to develop into wholly different Beings. But one truth is constant: At the beginning and end of all new stages of evolution the Sentient Races face a choice between extinction and salvation.


Once, the river that served as the source of freshwater in Landing had been kilometres south of the settlement’s boundaries. Long pipelines with automated pumps had been extended from the original encampment to the shore by the Old Ship’s surviving military engineers. Now the pipeline was a long-forgotten memory; buildings clustered along the river’s banks and bridges spanned the mighty Acoma. Once, the river had marked the southern boundary of Humankind’s incursion onto this world. Inevitably the city had grown and now sprawled in all directions: to the east, Landing skirted the edges of the Great Stone Plains that led to the ocean. Northwest Landing extended to Overlook Knoll, which rose to meet the great Shadowpine Forest. The city spanned the Acoma River, but strangely the city fell short of even the smallest foothills of the Blue Mountains. It seemed stopped against some invisible barrier, as though Humankind’s last descendants were somehow wary of drawing nearer to the mountain chain.

The vast Blue Mountains stretched away south and west; hundreds of blue-stoned peaks reaching like fingers up into the clouds. Most were covered in the purple and russet colors of the native flora; only the taller peaks were bare stone or snow-capped. On clear days the summit of the Queen’s Mount was visible crowning the chain, almost twice as high as even its nearest rival. In all the time that people had been on this world, no one had ever succeeded in reaching the summit of the Queen’s Mount.

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