The endless, barren plains. A reddish-orange sun hangs deadly in a cloudless yet far-from-blue sky, while hazy heatwaves rise from the rocky tablelands. Towards the horizon, the sky turns slightly green, tiny airborne silt particles tinting the view for endless miles in all directions. A red and black lizard, no larger than a man’s arm, slinks onto a rock outcropping, surveying the boundless wastes. With a shriek, a buzzard nearly twice the size of the lizard rockets from the sky, only inches away from a killing blow. In an instant, the pebbly-skinned Gila Skank bolts to the side as a barb-tipped tongue fires from its maw. The buzzard cannot even cry out in pain as the neurotoxin paralyzes the winged beast, sending it crashing with a sickening thud into the rock where the Gila just perched. The whip-like tongue is retracted with a slurp, and from a hole near the rock’s base, two dozen smaller hatchling Gila Skanks swarm over the still-living avian, and begin tearing through feather and flesh to devour the buzzard alive. This is Athas.