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Sequoia giganteum, America’s most impressive natural wonder, flourished in its habitat of the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains, with no other tree, plant, or animal rivaling it. Having endured mudslides and avalanches for thousands of years as other species fell to extinction, its crimson bark glistened in the evening sun, every crevasse defined by shadows from the west. The Sierras' winds howled east, the carriers of stormy skies. Twilight settled, and the winds flustered. 

A drop of water escaped the greying sky, fizzling on pine needles blanketing the nutrient-rich soil. Several of its friends joined in the fun. The waters tested the earth as gray skies turned into black. Each downpour washed away the protective needles on the ground, one layer after another. A torrent of droplets, unable to complete their descent, landed on the tree's robust branches, seeping into the bark and enriching the wood's luster.

The night's rains battered the forest with help from powerful winds. A flash of lightning struck the tree, its enormous trunk absorbing the shock, and splintering at its peak into two scorched stalks. Lightning struck twice. The second bolt sliced down the trunk, cleaving it. The gales finished the job, taking the Sequoia's life with their capricious force. The tree tipped over, caught in the wind, ancient history erased from the modern age. The heavens cleared, their judgement complete. Giganteum has fallen, the forest quiet.

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