It had been a thousand years since I'd walked the surface of my home world.
Earth had managed to recover quite well from the depredations of her least grateful children after they had the grace to move out. The sky was the blue you see in the old images, not the streaked red and gray that it was the day I left.
We'd destroyed it, raped our world until it couldn't sustain us anymore. We caught onto what we were doing just soon enough that we'd been able to put together the sleeper ships to carry the last of us away. We ran from what we'd done, cowards afraid to face the consequences.
When the first of our new friends found us, Humanity, what remained of it, was humble, a penitent race whose brow was wreathed in ashes. It's too fucking depressing to say that we weren't the first to stumble onto the galactic stage like, but it's true. We had brothers out there in the stars, peoples who'd found a peace in the wake of their mistakes.
We didn't become saints. We were better, treasured every chance we had; waste was considered the great vice now.
"How is it, Jim?" The voice of my dispatcher crackled in my ear. She was a kid, spacer-born and smart as a whip, but not able to make sure journey surface-side without a heavy suit. She'd been my only company for the last month as I reminisced about the days before we left on our approach.
I looked around me, standing in an clearing of an old growth forest that had once been one of the greatest cities in the world. It was perfect. "It's a wasteland." I climbed back into the jump ship, killed the scans and collection, then deleted the data.
I curled myself up in the cradle, and pulled out my pistol. Another antique, like myself. Perfect memory of a time filled with mistakes. And there are some mistakes, I thought as I slid the barrel between my lips, you shouldn't get to walk back from.