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The Case for Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

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Attar stumbled up the pass, eyes slitted against the glare off the snow. Her thick furs - her Father's second-best (She was a North person.[1]) - and the exertion of climbing brought prickles of sweat to her body even as her face and hands numbed. Hunting had got worse every year and with her Father's death she had been given a choice: be a hero - leave and find new lands for the tribe - or ... not. The elders wouldn't kill her, not unless she did something really bad, but they could just leave her to live or die by her own efforts, which wasn't much better.

[1]Cultural note: The People's other moiety was South people. There are various details concerning her Father's affiliation and the inheritance of furs and which furs it was appropriate for her to inherit which are not suitable for a translation of this kind.

She crested the pass and saw down to the plain. She was hoping for wide green spaces, with rivers and plentiful game and maybe an outcrop or two of flints for weapons and trade. She was expecting something a bit ruggeder, maybe some threatening ice walls and probably a wolf pack[2] or two.

[2]Translator’s note: Pure-bred no-domesticated ancestor canines no longer exist at this point but twenty-generations feral is not an appreciable difference.

She blinked. Squinted. Possibly gaped foolishly for a bit. The pass looked out over... the first thing she noticed were the spikes, huge piles of rock thrusting through the powdering snow like ribs out of a carcass chewed over by scavengers, surrounding a flat almost-square of jumbled black rubble. She didn't know that you could kill land before, but this could be nothing else. This land was twisted in agony around a mortal wound. As if to confirm her assessment, the rest of the land looked lifeless and barren, no green, just some scrubby bushes and patches of yellow-brown where ground-hugging plants had gained a foothold in the stony ground. It was probably possible to scratch out some kind of life there, but it looked worse than the Valley of the People, and you'd have to live in the shadow of the Wound.
Attar had no desire to get any closer, and even if she had, the barren plain decided for her: there was no food here, she'd be better off heading back, reporting back, begging for another chance and setting off up the higher passes, and damn the avalanches.