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So, I'm reading "First Strike" by Eric Nylund (again), and not sure if anyone's brought this up before, but it doesn't make sense to me that the Covenant could partially glass a planet, then...
A. be able to survive on a small patch of it whilst digging around for Forerunner leavings
B. that the patch would be visible from space.
Now before I go further, let me say I absolutely enjoy Eric Nylund's writing and this is no attack on him. More just my sometimes all-too-realistic brain trying to wrap around "seeing" it as I read (believe me, all-too-realistic brain is like some heckler over my shoulder sometimes while watching movies, I have to jump through hoops to explain reason to it so it will shut up).
And I just don't "see" atmosphere existing with a whole lot of oxygen after the surface of a planet has been burned to a crispy glass shell. It seems Elites breathe oxygen like humans, how could they survive in that environment? In trying to see that unburnt patch, I think of the massive uprising of heated air and particles of ash that would erupt along the path of the inferno from each trail of plasma, heating an atmosphere to what must be unlivable degrees.
Now I'm not a meteorologist, but I'm pretty sure this would get the planet's atmosphere churning like milk and coffee: quickly it becomes all one color.
Add to that the instant vaporization of all that planet's water sources as the plasma touches it (oh, maybe *that's* where they get some of their oxygen... then again, oxygen is flammable...) and you've got an atmosphere full of toxic ash and water vapor. And have you seen how awesome a volcanic-induced lightning storm is? (image search "volcanic lightning" if you haven't - its *insane*!)
I just really don't think the surface of a planet is visible from space, probably not for a long time, once it's almost completely glassed.
So these are the types of things I ponder on a daily basis, and I knew if anyone had feedback on this particular mental journey, you guys would. So I'm interested in hearing your impressions.
Oh, and just because it's so badass, here's some volcanic lightning: