Hazel peeled the aging mask from his face. Beneath the mask, heat and sweat reddened skin glistened, and stank with the tang of exertion and stale fear. Cold air rushed against his skin. He let the rubber mask hang limp from it's tether, bumping against his chest. For a moment, his brain thought: world's lamest necklace. Then he glanced towards the sky, with eyes unclouded by the mask's tinted lenses. He peered at the stars. At the pale moon. At the space where he knew the sun would rise, and then glanced towards his compass.
As a child he hadn't needed the green-glowing arrow of the compass to find his way; he'd been proficient in traveling the wastelands by wintersight and constellation. Years at the colonial school had resulted in a lack of use of the skills, and they had faltered. Now, in the rapidly cooling air, he wished that he hadn't let the skill lapse, if only for his confidence's sake.
As he walked, he told himself tales of the constellations that he had learned from his grandmother and aunts, as he looked for signs of familiarity.
But in his absence, the wasteland had changed. The night no longer seemed so friendly, he couldn't find sign of trade-path or provision cache. He wondered (and then laughed at the absurdity) if the land was punishing him for turning against the ways of his people.