The Empty Quarter
Sand dunes, tragedy and aliens
Five centuries have passed since humans settled the planet Vennia. The challenges of terraforming are long forgotten. No-one goes into the desert. No-one wonders about the sand dunes, so different from those on distant Earth.
But now a pair of young explorers venture into the sand. They're there for a scientific survey. Instead they uncover a terrible secret and change the future.
A 2200 word short story.