It was the screaming that woke him up from what passed for sleep on this hell-hole of a planet. That whining squeal like thousands of tiny nails drawing spirals on chalkboards. That was a shuttle; sand catching in the engines, creating an even more obnoxious wind tunnel than the one they ran on anyway. Vo pushed himself to his feet, rolling his shoulders as the weight of around six hours of drifted sand fell off his cloak and settled in a gray-brown cloud at his feet. More sand shuffled out of his choppily-cut hair as he straightened, turning his black eyes toward the the sky. He squinted against the ongoing sandstorm; this place was always under sandstorm, which was why it made a great hideaway for someone small enough to hide away under the wind-warped stones. The screaming of the engines made it easy to narrow the area of his search; a glimmer of silver in the sky soon confirmed the shuttle's position, and Vo's thin mouth curved into a smile. The wind was at his back, and he vaulted over the rock he'd been using for shelter. He slid down the soft sand built up on the other side while he wrapped the collar of his cloak over his nose and mouth. The shuttle was heading west; it was probably going to drop either on the dunes or the rocks. Hopefully not the dunes. He kept his head down as he moved over the sand, skirting the edge of the rocks that had been his shelter. The sand whipped at his ears, making it difficult to follow the engine's screams which differed only subtly from the shrieks of the sandstorm. Twice he had to stop and squint against the sky to verify that he was still tracking the shuttle in the right direction. The engine's flare as it exited the atmosphere was the only indication he had of the shuttle's change in trajectory, but it was enough. He hunched his shoulders against the wind and doubled his pace, forcing his stiff knees up as the sand piled around his feet. Sleeping with at least forty pounds of sand distributed over one's body tended to take its toll on one's circulation. He scanned back and forth as he sprinted, finally locking on a dark shape slumped on the edge of the sand. It missed the rocks. Cursing his luck, he slowed to a stop, crouching down; the clouds of dust and sand would blend against his wrap; provided he didn't move, he would be invisible. He hung back long enough to be sure that if the Dropped was unconscious before he skulked forward. He was a long fellow, bigger than Vo himself, but that wasn't exactly unusual. He had what looked like faint tattoos all over what skin was visible; even a large mark on his face. And, of course, his feet were far too big for Vo to use his boots. Just once he wanted them to drop off a pygmy or something. Still, not completely useless. He was reaching for the collar of his shirt when the Dropped's chest suddenly rose. He jumped, his gaze darting up to the face when his eyes opened and his jaw nearly dropped. The stranger's face and clothes were already being coated with the same dull gray-brown that coated everything on this planet, but his eyes were a startling blue.