Qerhaan is dying.
No one remembers when people first came to Qerhaan, whether human eyes ever saw a time when the dunes were verdant with life, if that time ever was. Whatever the past may have held, this is now a planet dominated by deserts.
Since time immemorial, the land has been drying. Rain is becoming less frequent and sparser when it does come. With every passing year, the desert grows. We eke out a living where we can, building harvesters to condense water from the air, and in a few places there is enough water to form small lakes, and to grow food.
One might think that here, in a place where it takes such effort just to survive, people might have found a way to work together. That would be neglecting to account for human nature. We have never been unified, unless you believe the wistful, rambling old legends. No. We are scattered across the desert, a disparate array of peoples, some settled, some still nomadic. Life is hard, but it is life, and we do whatever we deem necessary in order to maintain it. We remain true to some of the traditions of our ancestors - we steal and pillage and feud and exact our petty vengeance.
We live, we die, the sun rises, the sun sets, and life goes on.
Technology came, and we learned how to collect water from the air. Populations grew, and the tribes became clans. We learned how to alter the genetic code of both our crops and ourselves, enabling survival with less water. Populations grew. The land is drying. For all our advancement, we can do nothing to stop it. There is no longer enough water.
We fought over resources. Old friendships and alliances broke down. We learned how to make ever more destructive weapons, and some clans dominated others. Whereas once we might raid one another in order that we ourselves might survive, the new struggles took a more savage turn. Entire clans and tribes have simply ceased to exist.
There is still not enough water. In our desperation, we launched satellites, to scour this world for anywhere we might persist. From orbit, we finally saw the hottest, driest, and most remote wastes of the deserts that by foot we had never been able to cross. We saw no lush oases secreted away, untouched by human hands. Instead, we detected evidence of past habitation where it should never have been. There were signs of metal, of structures buried just beneath the surface, of residual radiation and energy.
There had always been theories that we came to Qerhaan from another world, long ago, but none had ever given them much credence. Is this possible proof that we are not native here, or that we have been here since before there were deserts?
Technology advanced enough to bring our ancestors across space would surpass us even now. What secrets might be hidden beneath the sand?
An expedition was sent. Disappearing into the endless expanses of the remote desert, they were never heard from again. Whether beset by hostile tribes of nomads, lost in the vicious sandstorms that sweep across Qerhaan, or dying, baked and dehydrated, lost in the sands, we do not know. We have undertaken to reach the remains, and to uncover the fate of our lost. If the old myths contain even the merest grain of truth, we must find what lies buried in the sands. We are becoming ever more desperate. We must know.
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