Seas of dust and sand, a world of rock and stone.
The horizon is more bleakly beautiful than Mars. So empty, yet so busy. No wet clouds, but streaks of dark, dusty brownness as the wind stirs. Life is all but gone. Dead. At least on the surface.
There had to be life somewhere: the air of Rubal Khali was still breathable. Thank goodness. Even my recyclers are not that efficient. I've had plenty of water and...food. After a fashion, but if I had to rely on it for air, I'd have died six months ago.
However, unless I found...something....wet I was going to die soon enough.
I had been exiled, well, sentenced to Rubal Khali. They gave me enough food and water with my suit to survive for my time: twenty years. They dropped me off, far away from anyone else on the desiccated superearth. Then left me there. They could track my suit and the only way to prevent that would be to leave the suit behind. And that would be a death sentence.
Unfortunately, I had gotten stupid at one point and busted one of the bots following me around with my extra provisions. One's mind can get...a little loopy. I had attacked it thinking it was going to attack me. I realized my error after I had exhausted myself destroying the bot and calming down. I knew my doom when I saw the water and food leaked from the bot and through the sand.
I could have, I should have stayed in one place and took up a project. I could have spent twenty years carving out my own monument. Some had done so, even with the simple tools they had. Whole carved statues, temples and buildings, some quite elaborate.
I had been the fool though: I had left to try to do what had never been done. I had attempted to find another human being. It might not have ended well, but I did attempt to do it.
So, I wandered off into the wastes. Into the open spaces no person had ever been seeking a person at least a thousand kilometers distant. That frustration of my ambition had driven me to madness and ruin. My own frustration and madness born of my own ambition and my own fault.
I stood here alone. Armed with the ground down arm of the bot I had destroyed and surveyed the vast emptiness. I looked down upon the waste. I looked down upon this world.
I knew the sands, the fine grained dust to the course gravel. In some places, the dust moved like rivers, albeit slowly. I had contemplated them, sitting almost in meditation.
In other places, earthquakes rumbled and stones fell from cliffs like waterfalls.
In still others, boulders lay like quiet accusing sentinels: why did you do something so stupid? How could you have not thought it through? Why would someone as bright as you be so stupid as to let your life come to this? How could you continue to be so stupid in the face of the consequences of your actions to only make it worse?
I had stood there staring at their faces. Some grey. Some faded red. Some dusty, dusky brown. A handful of obsidian black, full of scorn and hate.
I had moved on from their shelter from the wind simple because their contempt.
I had never found anyone else. I probably never would have.
The sun would set soon.
The heavens would be lit on fire.
The sky would be stained red.
And soon, so, too, would the sand.