Parker

The crimson winds blew across the town of Parker; it was a mining town no doubt. From the rusted structures to ramshackle housing, it was custom made for workers of Mars. Hezekiah pulled the cylindrical chamber cover, opening it to a carpet that greeted him. He tried pushing it up, there used to be a white rug covering the hole, but his luck was down, the carpet was fixed. Hezekiah repeatedly poked the covering, hoping to break a hole in it, after six minutes of relentless friction, a small orifice appeared and Hezekiah got a dirt encrusted fingernail embedded around it. The man ripped and pulled the carpet to satisfying noises, eventually flattening his hands to shoot his self out.

As his torso emerged a rifle butt connected with his nose, breaking it.

Hezekiah awoke to blurred vision and silhouettes of adults and children.

"Hey. Hey you. Wake up, now."

The man's voice was unfamiliar and was harsh sounding and unfriendly.

"Mmm...What...?"

Hezekiah's reply was too convoluted for the other man to understand so he repeated himself.

"What's...going on?"

Hezekiah's nose felt as if it was eroding away, slowly dropping off. The bridge was swollen and his nostrils expanded to take some oxygen through the crooked tunnels.

"What's going on friend?! I'll tell you what's going on you...you-son of a bitch. Coming into MY house through my floor!"

A woman, presumably the harsh sounding man's wife, tried to calm him down.

"Devin, calm down, please, for their sake."

She was the opposite of this 'Devin' thought Hezekiah.

"Okay, for their sake, not for this bastard's..."

Devin's wife led the other two silhouettes from the room. Hezekiah's vision was coming back slowly. Another crack from the rifle came directly to Hezekiah's chin, surely bruising it.

"Shit..."

"Speak again you robbing scum and I'll do more than that."

"I wasn't trying-"

Devin smacked Hezekiah with his rifle once more and shot him in the shoulder, blue muzzle flash shone in Hezekiah's impaired eyes as he let out a grunt. He was used to pain, but was this man?

"That was your only warning. I have to check on my family, and then I'll turn you over to the authorities."

Hezekiah was unsure as to whether this man, Devin, meant the EDF or the Red Faction. EDF influence was limited in Parker, but Red Faction would be prevalent albeit less deadly. The footsteps were indicative of Devin leaving, Hezekiah made sure to wait a couple of minutes to make sure it wasn't a trick. As soon as he was sure Devin had gone, Hezekiah shuffled his chair to a wall, any wall, so he could find an item.

A trail of whispers could be heard, "Don't worry Eva; I'll just explain to Phelps that it was an EDF member or something..."

This man was going to kill him. Or at least try.

Devin came back in the room only to see an empty chrome seat that had fallen.

"Ev-!"

Before Devin knew it, Hezekiah was holding a pair of scissors to his throat, forcing him to sit in the same seat. He was tied up as Hezekiah reached his leg out to shut the door and then, Devin felt the surging pain of the scissors stuck in his calf.

"OH MY FUCKING GOD!" The screams came as did Eva who was knocked out by Hezekiah's elbow. Eva's violent fall sparked sweat and panic across Devin's face.

"You motherfuc-" Devin's vocals were cut off as nastily as Hezekiah's were. He had stuffed a lump of Martian earth from a plant pot into Devin's mouth. He was choking but Hezekiah could have cared less, picking up the plasma rifle and hitting him in the chest, forcibly spraying the dirt out.

Moist red lumps clustered Devin's mouth as he struggled to draw breath.

"Now that you see I am not your average burglar...I want answers. Please." Hezekiah's polite interrogation was, of course, an old EDF trick, trying to magnetise the aggressive nature out of the 'interviewee'.

"Are you high?!"

Hezekiah clenched his fist and punched Devin in his jaw, paralleling the effect of Devin, instantaneously breaking it yet without need of a weapon.

"Now that you've calmed down..." the cool manner terrified Devin, "Where can I find Stephen Phelps, hmm?"

Devin's eyes indicated to Hezekiah that he wasn't going to tell him. Hezekiah twisted the scissors, breaking sinew and tissue in sync.

"HOLY SHIT!" Devin's cries were heard by his semi-conscious wife who tried hitting Hezekiah with pathetic flails. Hezekiah stood on her hand, enough to bruise, but not break. Someone needed to look after the children.

"I think you know what I'm capable of. Now tell me or I kill her and the children, and if I feel like it, stick those scissors through the roof of your mouth."

Devin looked up and spoke.

"He just left Parker, headed to Dust section to work. He's working until he can get enough support underground."

"Thank you, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Hezekiah gave a small smile to Devin.

"One more thing," called Devin, "are you EDF?"

Hezekiah's head dropped as he turned on the spot.

"I'm nobody."

Hezekiah went over to untie Devin, dropping the rifle and picking up his handgun with clips and ID. It was too predictable; as he walked away, Devin grabbed his rifle, aimed and was shot dead. Hezekiah had capped him through the heart. Eva shouted at Hezekiah, he simply told her it was to be expected.

As Hezekiah moved outside, three miners moved towards him. The house was isolated, it always had been, but these must have heard the distress.

A bald man spoke first.

"What's the problem here? We heard some screams from the cliffs."

"Don't worry about this, it's nothing, I had an argument with my daughter, that's all."

The second miner, with a dark complexion replied.

"This is Dev's house, you sure he alright?" The miner put a muscled arm behind his body to itch his back.

"Yeah, yeah, don't worry he's fine. I was just mad with her for not telling me about a decision to move to Eos."

The second miner continued to speak.

"Eos? Shit, they never spoke about that to us...you sure?"

"I'm old, but I'm not senile. Of course I'm sure."

"Alright then, just saying dude, we come past here every day at break time for a cup of coffee that's all. Eva usually feeds us then we head back to work."

"Yes, well, it's probably not the best idea to go in today." Hezekiah then had an idea. "Say...you boys aren't in the Red Faction are you?"

The bald man immediately disclaimed any notion immediately.

"Oh, I was just told by my daughter that you three were coming round to discuss guerrilla tactics or something with Devin." Hezekiah prayed silently that they believed his lies.

"Devin wasn't in the Red Faction," the muscular man's voice came, "We did however talk to them about the RF."

The bald man's eyes widened in disarray, he looked towards the third member, a short, dumpy fellow for further confirmation that they shared the same feelings. Hezekiah noticed this.

"Boys, don't worry, I support the Faction, hell, I sometimes led the EDF down the wrong route just to get you through your missions!"

"No offence to your memories, but...you do realise the last Red Faction uprising was in 2125, right?"

Hezekiah felt ill.

"Of...course!" His grey hair felt the wind, he was sweating profusely "There were of course, some EDF officers that couldn't let go. They were paranoid, thought more action went on when it did. I would just say 'I thought I saw some go that way' and they'd be off." He laughed hesitantly.

For the first time, the short man spoke.

"Well then," his voice was deep, it went with his typical country look "You my friend should come join us after work!"

Hezekiah accepted and the three men walked away, back to their jobs. Hezekiah was to meet them at a nearby service station. He casually walked in as EDF followed.

"Could I have...a Boulder Burger, and... a portion of fries please?"

As Hezekiah sat with his meal, complimentary milkshake included, an EDF officer walked over to his table.

"Enjoying your meal...sir?" The pause was oddly discomforting for Hezekiah however, he prepared to lie yet again.

"Yes, sir, this meal is delicious."

"I'm gonna have to ask you to leavewith us, you are wanted in connection with the murders of Mary Cooper and three EDF troops, one officer and two civil protectors."

Atmosphere surrounded the table; people stared as this middle-aged man was facing an unstoppable EDF officer demanded him to come to EDF Headquarters for questioning.

"And, if I don't...?"

The officer raised his eyebrow and chortled.

"You will be executed publicly."

"I thought EDF protocol was to arrest in a civilised manner, executions were outlawed in 2165, no?"

"You think you're funny? If you knew anything about history, that law was abolished May 15th 217-"

"...6. I remember that day, don't you dare talk to me about that day you young punk. You wear a uniform and expect kind treatment you piece of trash?"

Madness had begotten the officer, and a visible vein appeared around his throat.

"That's enough outta you!" He slammed Hezekiah's head on to the wood, causing his broken nose to bleed. The officer's radio fizzled. "HQ, I have Hezekiah Cooper here, former EDF officer blatantly being disobedient, please respond, over."

A woman's voice sparked through, "Execute as standard Officer Gleeson."

Pistol barrel metal fell against Hezekiah's head as Officer Gleeson rammed it against his cheek. Hezekiah though, could see the three miners running towards the station.

"Red Faction members at my six! HQ requesting back-up immedia-"

The bald miner's sledgehammer collided with the officer's head, killing him instantly. A familiar muscular hand helped Hezekiah up to his feet.

"Come on!"

The four of them got into a pickup, driving swiftly until they reached a safehouse. They got out just as the vehicle was coming to a stop.

"Close call back there, listen my name's Crank, the bald one's Tony and the short guy's Frankie. Sorry we didn't introduce ourselves earlier; we were rather suspicious of you, now we know you're legit."

"Thanks, I'm uh, Hezekiah."

"Hezekiah? How about Hez, Heezy?"

"No...Thank you." He laughed. "People have tried to come up with a nickname for me, for years, there's really no point."

The four of them laughed as a tall figure stepped out from a brewing sandstorm. He had an air of authority and charisma about him.

"Oh yeah, this here is the big guy himself. Stephen Phelps."