A warm, gentle wind blew over the purple wheat, giving the waving grain the appearance of a lost, purple sea. In the islands of dust in the distance, rotting farmhouses sat abandoned and bruised by the purple corruption slowly creeping up its beams and planks.
Början stood on the lone dirt road bisecting the fields and held his hand up to his glassy blue eyes. As far as he could see, the scenery was the same, a land kissed by the spreading evil, its surface tainted with sorrow, ruthlessness, lies, and a deceptively beautiful color.
He took a step forward. He felt bereft, lonely, hopeless. For most of his life he had been seeing and saving planets. That shade of purple was so prevalent in his life, and yet it never felt any less demoralizing to see it cover a landscape.
But this landscape wasn’t entirely covered in despair, the planet’s purity had not been completely tainted. Ond hadn’t been here long. Början looked out to the dilapidated houses and sheds. Ond hadn’t been here long, but the area was as still as a tomb and completely deserted.
Ond was expecting him, Början felt it deep inside his chest, he knew it the way he knew, without looking, that the purple bruises on the wooden panels had spread half a centimeter.
He scanned the horizon, looking for the foul red spaceship at Ond’s command; its massive crimson plates were nowhere to be seen. He still had a ways to go.
In the distance there was an impenetrable green wall of forestry, where the purple hadn’t reached yet, Början looked at the wheat around him and saw that the purple was slightly lighter, and up ahead, even lighter. The planet could still be saved.
With a deep breath, he swore an oath to himself to not let the corruption engulf this planet the way it had many planets before. This would end here, and now. There would be no more space chases, no more “next time.”
The dark, looming forest closer than before, and a dot the color of freshly spilled blood appeared in the distance. Början knew Ond was watching him. He could feel the heaviness in his bones, his muscles were slowing.
Början stopped walking and looked up at the sky, certain that a white eye and sealed flesh were watching intently. He felt his shoulders sag, and his knees buckle. And with all the strength he had left in his body, Början lifted his hand, and waved once.
The heaviness lessened. No doubt Ond had turned away to consult with whatever “sage” was on board now. Början kept walking. Things would only get harder from here on out. Within two hours, he stepped on the shadows of the forest.