Humans were parasites. Having left their own world desolate, they moved from planet to planet, using up its resources to keep up with their ever-enlarging population, aided by medical advances that allowed them to live longer and longer lives. They left each planet behind, desolate, paved, plastic-littered, and polluted. They accomplished this with disturbing rapidity, making it rare for a child to be born on the same planet as its parents. The entire human race were experts at packing up and leaving a destroyed planet to find another one, habitable but uninhabited by sentient life. Word spread quickly about the humans' habits, and any creatures with an ability to communicate made it immediately clear that the humans were not welcome there.

Moving from planet to planet, taking and destroying, this was the human way that had been going on for centuries. But on one of those used-up planets, a renegade group of humans stayed behind when the ships left, determined to put an end to their trail of destruction. They made this decision knowing that it would take many more years to heal the planet than it had taken to destroy it, and knowing that they were dooming their children and grandchildren to this hard life that they had chosen. The humans never returned to a planet that they had once inhabited, and no one visited a planet where humans had once set foot.

This planet in particular had been saved from the usual nuclear winter, instead having been pushed to the other extreme by swift global warming. The entire planet was a desert, save for small pools of open water and occasional rain at the poles. The group that stayed behind watched the rest of their species take off in their ships, hidden in the shade of rock caves. They called themselves the Redeemers. They called their planet Sandstorm.

Determined to survive on the desolate planet, they knew that they would have to adapt to their new desert life. They had been training in secret in the months before the rest of the humans left, trying to toughen their bodies to deal with the harshness of the planet, studying survival techniques, learning simpler technologies that would be more in line with a life on a planet where the means for creating high-technology objects was gone. But a few months of training, as dedicated as they were, was not enough to completely turn around the years of soft, climate-controlled living.

They had enough rations to last for several months, which they hoped would be enough time for them to find means of securing new food. Most of the food eaten by the humans was grown in greenhouses, and while the shells of the buildings existed, the means of keeping them was gone. The humans kept their most essential resources, such as power generators, on board their ships. When they found a new planet, they set the ships down some distance apart, and each ship served as the center of a new city. It was the heart and brain of the city, providing the essential functions, while houses and other necessary buildings were built up around it. Farms were established outside the cities, but as the resources of the planet were drained, they were abandoned one by one, and the rest of the food needed until the humans deserted the planet was produced in the on-ship greenhouses.

The Redeemers decided that their first task after the others left was exploration of the abandoned cities, to see what was still useable. They quickly discovered that the buildings that remained would be useless, uninhabitable without the climate-control systems that kept it cool and sheltered from the hot sun that blazed down through the thinned atmosphere. The caves that they had hidden in while the others had left would have to be their new home. Deep inside the caverns, the temperature dropped enough to be just barely comfortable. After their first excursion to the cities, they decided that the surface was far too hot to expose themselves during the day, and only at night would they be able to venture outside.

They designated roles among themselves- Caretakers, who would look after the children and do chores inside the caves; Scroungers, who would continue to explore the cities and bring back whatever was useful; Builders, who would take what the Scroungers brought back and build their underground cities; Hunters, who would seek out the wildlife of the planet, mostly reptiles, birds, and small mammals, as well as protect the Redeemers from the large predators; and Farmers, who would try to recreate the greenhouses in a way that they could maintain. The bulk of their new existence would be focused on survival.

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