• Another blast of cold air slapped him in the face. The second cold cycle had just begun and he was already chilled to the bone, his wiry beard frozen in icicle shapes. The fifteen month years never seemed to end. Another teeth-chattering wave rolled into the alley. Three months. Three months of this torturous cold. He puffed warm air between his gloved hands, hoping to bring back some feeling to his frozen fingers. It didn't help.
    He was the first. The first person to be born since the Great Abandonment, which happened only thirty-nine years before. He was the first person to have never seen the face of Earth with his own eyes. All he had was pictures, and they looked nothing like the volcano-pitted surface of Neo Terra. He was born only thirty-eight years ago.
    Much had changed since the first settlements. There were now three major planets and four rural resource planets.
    A scream pierced the air. Just another commonality on Neo Terra. Ever since the United Asian and America Coalition settled the planet, things had only gotten more totalitarian. The rich and the poor had only pushed each other towards the extremes. To war. Now, a wall separates the slums from the High Estates in the capitol city. Another merchant probably dead.
    It was time to start moving. Ice had started to float from the sky in thin sheets, breaking on the concrete-studded dirt. Shelter. That's what he needed. His run down cabin was only three blocks away. “Only,” he muttered to him self scornfully. This area of the slums was anything but safe. Three blocks meant a mile and a half of alleyways that could bring death, or much worse, at the hands of the desperate, if not desperately violent, homeless poor.
    Celestus dealers lurked at every corner and alley opening, hinting at discounts and other alluring reasons to buy from them. People would stop occasionally like crack addicts, only to be turned away. Empty pockets weren't good for business.
    That is what destroyed Earth, and in his mind, corrupted humanity. ManaCorp's one big break was the one thing to ruin them all. At the same time, it was exactly what enabled human kind to accomplish all that they had since the Great Abandonment. It is what gave them... life.
    To anyone that lived in the slums, anything that was not a tent or box, was a cabin. His was large in comparison to most in the slums, but tiny when compared to the fancy homes of the High Estates on the other side of the wall.
    Another half block to go. The ice started to fall more heavily. The cold sent all kinds of figures scurrying in the dark parts of the alleys that walled the so called “road”. There was no snow, just ice.
    A sudden crack caused the man to jump. A worn, elderly figure shuffled across the road only to enter the next alleyway that opened up to him. His rags were obviously home made, but who could afford anything different?
    The sight of his home brought a warmth over the man. He had made it. He would survive the day after all. As was usual, a few figures wandered around the road, looking for something edible.
    Once through the door of his one-roomed shack, the man pulled a half frozen loaf of bread from under his tattered coat. A smile came to his face. He would have dinner tonight.