Freezone - Prologue
Light from Mars’ twin moons reflected off the grey steel roofing of a small mining settlement surrounded by a wall of stripped logs. Just outside the walls a wide river slowly meandered past, lined by cottonwood trees. A pack of coyotes, unaware that they lived on an alien world, howled at the brother moons just as their ancestors had done on Earth for countless generations.
Steven Taylor stood on the ramparts of the settlement’s walls his combat rifle laying on the tops of the stripped logs. He stroked his reddish-brown beard as he stared off across the Martian prairie, deep in thought. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find them eventually,’ said a dark-skinned man dressed in a blue suit with a grey tie as he walked up to where Taylor was standing.
Taylor looked at the man and nodded. ‘Nice to know you have confidence in me, Mr. Musa,’ he said.
Amobi Musa smiled. ‘I did my research before I hired you,’ he said, ‘you’re one of the best. Olivia Reid doesn’t stand a chance! Soon that thorn in our side will be brought to justice.’ Taylor smiled.
Just at that moment Liam Murray, one of Taylor’s platoon leaders, climbed onto the ramparts using a nearby ladder and stood beside the two men. Taylor looked past Amobi and said, ‘Is it time, Murray?’ The man nodded. Taylor looked back at Amobi, ‘I’m sorry Mr. Musa, but that’s my shift over.’
‘Of course, of course,’ he replied, ‘I was just leaving anyway. Goodnight!’
Taylor grunted in response as Amobi walked away along the ramparts. Taylor climbed down the ladder to the dusty ground below. He made his way along the dirt streets between the houses towards the house that he’d been allowed to stay in since he arrived on Mars. Most of the houses were locked up and the wooden shutters they had instead of curtains had been closed. He could see light in a few of them peeking through the cracks in the shutters but most of the people in the mining colony were already asleep by this time of night.
Once Taylor was far enough away from the wall that he was sure no one was watching him he started to move more stealthily among the wooden houses. He stayed in the shadows and occasionally hid in a side alley to catch anyone who may be following him. Finally, he made his way to the wall on the opposite side of the settlement.
He knocked on the door of a house only a few metres away from the wall. The door opened and another one of his platoon leaders, Sarah Grey, opened the door. Her green eyes looked into his and she knew exactly why he was there. She moved out of the doorway, let him in, and quickly closed it again.
Inside there was a small living room with one sofa and a coffee table made of the same wood as the house itself. On the sofa sat a blonde-haired woman with blue eyes and a freckled face, dressed all in black.
‘Just as beautiful as ever, Olivia,’ Taylor said smiling as she stood up and faced him.
She kissed him and he held her close for an extra second after the kiss. ‘I’m not just a pretty face,’ she said with an evil twinkle in her eye. She pulled a large knife with a mahogany handle out from under her shirt. ‘What do you think of this?’
Taylor was impressed, ‘I think that will get the job done.’
Olivia ran a finger along the black steel blade. ‘This is more than just a job, Taylor. Its victory. Its freedom.’ Her blue eyes stared into his, ‘I’m going to enjoy it.’
Taylor smiled, ‘Of course. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for both of us…if we succeed. I trust Sarah has filled you in on the plan?’
‘Yes, don’t be seen and hide out at your house afterwards,’ Olivia replied, ‘I’m ready.’
‘Ok,’ Taylor said and he hugged her again, ‘Good luck.’
Olivia walked out into the night and Sarah closed the door quickly behind her. She blended into the dark Martian night as best she could. She made her way though the alleys and streets of the settlement without being seen.
Then, she saw him. Amobi Musa, governor of the mining colony. He was climbing down a ladder from the settlement’s walls. She silently watched him, keeping even her breathing as quiet as possible. He reached the ground and walked towards the main street of the settlement. She watched him as he walked under the solar streetlights of the central avenue past the shops, restaurants and pubs where the miners spent their leisure time. Eventually he turned down a side street and stopped in front of a door set in a stone wall. One of the few structures made of stone in the settlement was the governor’s house, surrounded by a stone wall.
Olivia knew that if he made it inside, she would have no way of escaping. Adrenaline rushed through her veins as she stepped out of the shadows. ‘Amobi Musa,’ she said in an authoritative voice, ‘Your time has come.’
Amobi looked at her, his eyes wide with surprise. But as he recognized who she was his surprise turned to dread. ‘Olivia Re—’ he started but before he could finish, she had covered his mouth with her hand.
‘That’s right,’ she whispered, ‘Finally, what you have will be mine!’ Then, she plunged her knife into his heart. She held her hand over his mouth as he died. With a sick smile on her face, she laid his body face down in the dirt.
Olivia Reid ran off into the night still holding her knife covered in Amobi Musa’s blood.