"I woke up this morning to the usual blinding light that shoots through the former exhaust ports of the engine. Dust and sand swirled in miniature storms as it passed through these gaps and into the rays of sunlight. As I shifted my body, a thin layer of sand formed streams as it ran off of my clothes, as was typical most mornings since our port covers had been torn off by a recent storm.
As I brought my body up off of the cool sand I could see that Herm had already gotten out and about, and there was still no sign of Etan, Mip, or the rest of the group. I passed through the large aft opening to be momentarily blinded by the sun, even after these many years my eyes took several moments to adjust to the harshness of the light.
Herm was out in the valley as he tended to be in the early hours of the day standing in the warm sun slowly humming to himself. He was oddly the one thing about this place that had never felt foreign, even from the beginning. Like a 10-story sentry he was always watching the passersby, a silent admirer of all, but never intervening in the daily routines of all the small creatures that came out in the mornings to go about their daily rituals. I always found it difficult to bother him during these morning hours. It seemed very important to him that he be awake to witness these morning activities, for such a surprisingly sedate race of creatures."
"His left foot was constantly caressed by the fine sand as it made strides along the crest of a dune. His right leg, more metal than flesh, punctured the sand like a spear through a stomach. A constant reminder that he was never meant to tread this land. His body was aged beyond its years under unyielding attack from the sun , and droves of blown sand that seemingly attempted to erode away his very flesh. His skin flowed and draped over his bones and muscles. He wore a military issued U.T.O helmet, which had lost its face plate. It was now little more than a small source of shade. Several pipes pin cushioned the top having been welded there. Beneath it he had fashioned a cloth bandana to keep any raw metal from burning his skin. He clinked rhythmically as he walked his metal armbands hammering against one another. Apart from these he wore only a leather breastplate and two leather faulds to protect his lower body.
Sifters they called them; him, everyone, the men and women not born here. An entire planet of people left to sift through the remains of what was once the epitome of colonization as mankind knew it. A culture derived from its own failures."