It had been 60 years, at least, since anyone had gone there. Abraxas. The Lost Colony.
It was a small planet, somewhere between the Earth's Moon and Mercury in size, but it was in the goldilocks zone around its star. Lush forests, fresh water, a molten core and a healthy gravitational field keeping the radiation out. Abraxas was a paradise. It had been the most popular outer system colony since it opened up for general colonization up until it all went wrong. By the time it went wrong, there were millions of people, a handful of huge cities, a lot of towns, and a lot of conflict.
At the time anthropologists were referring to Abraxas as Little Earth, as it encountered a lot of the same political, cultural and economical problems Earth had already had. Later on it had taken on problems that Earth was currently still having. There had been hope that since Abraxas was a much smaller ecosystem than Earth, they would soon start having problems Earth would have later on. This would teach important lessons on how to deal with those future problems, even if they differed due to scale, when they occurred on Earth.
But it had not gotten that far. And the only lesson learned was that Earth -- and its colonies -- should be much more careful.
The two major cities on Abraxas -- Abraxas City and Fortuna -- had become economical and technological powerhouses. Trade wars erupted and they had started forming city states, incorporating the townships, farmlands and other cities around them. They became two political and economical blocks. Armies were raised, technologically advanced beyond what Earth had managed, and war had erupted.
Earth had tried to intervene but nobody had been able to bring the two parties together. Abraxas had always had limited resources, and the population growth had become unsustainable over time. Outside immigration had been shut down as a result. There were many mines and arable land between Abraxas City and Fortuna and these areas became highly contested as both wanted control over them. The asteroids that were in orbit around Abraxas' sun were also mined by both cities, and though less fights broke out there, mining facilities did change hands every so often.
Abraxas City publicly blamed Fortuna for sabotage in their factories, on their asteroid mines and even in elections. Fortuna claimed the exact same, and brought the term 'Opinionated facts' into life. The debate had stalled and became constant instances of utter denial of undeniable facts and petty name-calling.
Offers for materials being shipped in from other colonies fell on deaf ears, since both city states felt that the price to pay for outside imports was too high compared to the estimated cost of war.
How wrong they had been.
Against every single treaty banning them, both cities had started work on hydrogen bombs. The technology was well understood, and they were relatively simple to make. The materials were readily available on nearby asteroids.
When Fortuna launched their first missile carrying an h-bomb, Abraxas City immediately countered with a launch of 14 of their own. Their entire stockpile. If Abraxas City would be gone, at least the vassal cities would remain. But Fortuna would be gone -- vassal cities, towns, everything. Fortuna soon after launched the remainder of their stockpile. And the difference was noticeable. 54 more missiles went up into the air.
The decision makers at Abraxas City had known then that they would never have won. Calls were made to loved ones on both sides of the conflict, to tell them they were loved. Nobody initiated evacuations, since they would be fruitless. The bombs would destroy any shelter they could have built. The only ones who would survive would be those away at the asteroids, working on getting materials for a colony -- a planet -- that would soon no longer exist.
Abraxas was on fire for months. The atmosphere had caught fire and the asteroid workers had sent out SOS signals. Earth forces, along with some Mars frigates, had shown up to gather them up and ferry them out, offering them a new life on any other colony they wanted.
The lesson was learned. Humanity would always be at risk of utter destruction by its own hand.
We are capable of creating beautiful things, shaping nature to our own wishes. But our hunger for control, power, and money is a blight upon our potential. Too many of us are blinded by personal gain, accruing the aforementioned control, power, and money, for no other reason than to gain it.
The ones who are conscientious and willing to forego those things to help another are not the ones who lead.
The sociopaths do.
And that's a lesson the anthropologists learned when Abraxas, the paradise, imploded completely. And they very quickly realized it wasn't a new lesson. It was one relearned every half a century or so.
When the memories of the last time it happened have faded, those who fought in those wars and survived are dead, no longer able to impart their knowledge on the younger generation. When the peace those veterans fought for was won so long ago nobody remembers that it was ever any different, and tiny frustrations are gripped by both hands as opportunities to divide. These opportunities then become political platforms. Platforms built on fear of 'the other', a focus on one's 'own people', and a disregard for any semblance of cooperation.
Compromises die. Conflict rises. Societal and cultural unrest erupts. Conversations become impossible as all sides view every other side as an unrepentant enemy, impossible to be reasoned with.
And then it implodes. Another war. Another future chapter on how humanity screwed itself over details and unrealistic scenarios.
Conflict built on exploiting feelings, not on utilizing facts.
Just another Abraxas.