Alone Among the Stars: Planet Spuzurali
While resting under a tall plant, I spotted a crumbling ruin on the snowy peak of a nearby mountain. I was far too tired to hike up for a closer look, but even from my distant vantage, I could tell the structure was massive. Spiraling columns, at once reminiscent of the local flora and geometric, surrounded some sort of central building. Perhaps it was once a tomb, or an altar, or even a humble dwelling?
Curiously, I spotted another ruin, this time in a field on a grassy mound. Without the arduous hike to stop me, I was happy to examine this ruin more closely. It resembled the first in a few key ways: the same columns, the same central structure. Where it differed was the level of ruination present. Whereas the mountain ruin was more-or-less intact (as far as I could tell, anyway), this ruin had been ravaged severely by time. Only one of the columns still possessed a complete spiral, with the others in various stages of crumbling into rubble. Now that I was able to examine closer, I was able to carefully enter the small building. Even in its dilapidated state, I felt welcomed and cozy, as if I had stepped into a lodge or lobby. I even noticed evidence of an opening into an underground chamber! The door, rusted as it was, came off easily, but alas…the entrance was completely blocked off by densely-packed debris, the likes of which would require heavy equipment to excavate. I left shortly after, allowing the ruin to preserve its underground secrets.
I think I was mistaken in assuming the columns in the ruins were merely influenced by nature, as a short while ago, I came across a small patch of curling vines by a gentle river. Upon closer inspection, these vines were nearly identical to the columns! They grew both rigid and fluid, reaching up to the alien sky as if to assert themselves. “We are here. We are alive.” The inhabitants perhaps wished to assert themselves in much the same way. Experimentally, I picked one vine for my ship’s garden, and upon feeling the air on them, the vine’s roots quickly spiraled, mirroring the upward plant. How fascinating! I will need to study further, but my hypothesis is that the root spirals are a preservation technique to prevent the root ends from drying as quickly.
Near the end of my journey on this planet, I had just finished circumnavigating a volcano (which, appearing for all intents and purposes identical to Earth volcanoes, shows that some things stay the same no matter what) when I stumbled upon a perfectly spherical glob of magma. Not only that, this magma was levitating in the air over a perfectly circular slab of black glass. Not a drop fell from the magma as it rotated in the air as if being spun on an invisible spit. It was still unbearably hot, preventing close inspection, but the black glass underneath was oddly cold. In fact, as long as I kept myself low to the ground, I could actually touch the platform(?), though not for long, as I didn’t want my hand to freeze. Yes, it was that cold, which made the juxtaposition with the magma ball even more perplexing.