Read Reddened Wasteland Online

Authors: Kyle Perkins

Reddened Wasteland

Reddened
Wasteland

By Kyle
Perkins

All Rights Reserved ©2015 Kyle
Perkins. No portion of this book may be copied, retransmitted, reposted,
duplicated, or otherwise used without the express written approval of the
author, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a
review.

The characters, names, and events as
well as all places, incidents, organizations, and dialog in this novel are
either the products of the writer’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Dedicated
to all the people that have helped me out along the way. My dad, Max &
Debbie, My mom & Jimmy, Samantha, Richie, and finally the people of Nation
Divided & 5th Era.

Chapter One

“Three hundred years ago, my family arrived like many
from Earth. Boarded onto large ships that traveled across the empty void to our
final home. It wasn’t some far off destination across the galaxy, but instead,
our closest viable cosmic neighbor. Earth itself fell under the sword of
humanity and its tampering, and died a quiet death, choked out by disease and
lack of resources. Scientists at the time were testing new bioweapons to use in
their endless wars amongst one another, and human error was the spark that
started the chain reaction that was our untimely end. In the end, we had no
place left to hide on our home world.

“Humanity, like a caged animal, began looking for a
way out. Scientists and politicians – the same people responsible for this
disaster – are the same people that made it out alive. The rich, the greedy,
and the intelligent. All of the so-called best of humanity made it out on these
ships through years of careful planning and calculation, as humanity took its
last few dying breaths.

“After months of travel, they finally reached their
destination and the first Martian was born. After that, they began terraforming
Amazonis Planitia under this giant dome, in hopes of saving humanity. At least,
that is the official story,” Alerik said as he wiped the sweat from his
forehead. He stood leaning against a cold, rocky wall as he looked at his crew.
He had on a synthetic leather jacket and his sweaty white undershirt was
clinging to his athletic frame, his short, dark hair swept back, with a clear
safety visor over his cold blue eyes.
He knew he was an attractive man, knew
Velar probably had a bit of a crush on him. He also knew he was far too old for
her. She couldn’t be a day over twenty-one.

“So that is the official story, huh? You buy it?” She
asked with a radiant smile that was somehow playful and suspicious all at the
same time. She was a looker herself, with her big brown eyes and tan skin. She
was wearing that same shitty backpack that was always slung over her shoulders.
It looked ridiculous on her at nearly twice the size of her tiny frame and he
couldn’t understand why she bothered lugging it around all the time.
Truthfully, he couldn’t remember a time seeing her without the old thing. Must
have some sentiment, he figured.

“Of course I believe it. I mean, we can never know the
whole truth… we weren’t there. So, things may have gotten lost in the fray, but
I think the story adds up. Plus, why would The Union lie to us?” He asked with
a wink, pushing himself off the wall that he was using as a crutch. He brushed
past the petit girl.

“Look,” she followed him with her usual persistence,
“I’m not saying they are lying, but what if
they
don’t even know? It has
been a long time, and most things have been passed down from word of mouth.
Even you can’t be that naive, Alerik!” she nudged him with her shoulder,
causing him to fall back into the wall. He groaned.

“Velar,” he sighed, “I won’t say
you’re right or wrong, but could we talk about this back at the compound? This
isn’t the best place to discuss our opinions.” His tone was intentionally cold
– just in case she had forgotten the seriousness of the consequences if The
Union caught her talking like she was – but he forced a smile as he started
walking again. He was only thirty years old, but already he moved like an old
man, slow and with purpose. He didn’t move when he didn’t have to. Working in
the mines from the time you’re old enough to hold a pickaxe will do that to a
man.

Velar lingered behind to dwell on what he had said
before catching up to him. She was quiet. She had decided that she didn’t want
to press the issue any further. After all, he was right. Their conversation
could be taken as treason. The whole settlement had been on high alert since
the attacks in the year 2231.

***

Later that night, Alerik stopped by the bar to turn
over a few of his credits for the distilled shit they were passing as a drink
those days. He didn’t complain though – who would listen if he did? He walked
down the straight path to the bar, staring up into the dome that covered the
settlement and into the night sky. The Union called it Humanity’s Womb.

They were really creative with names.

As he walked, he began thinking back to earlier and
his conversation with Velar. She was right, things were not adding up. But the
last thing he wanted to do was scare the kid. The Union had been tightening the
chain around everyone’s throats in the last couple of years, from enforcing the
curfew and cutting credits, to even culling new births. They said it was for
the betterment of the people, that it was necessary to get them in line so they
could all make it off of the rock and return to Earth, but he knew he’d never
see it in his lifetime. The Union always made promises that they could not
deliver, undoubtedly to increase quotas on the workers in the name of duty to
their kind.

Alerik knew far too much was wrong with the world he
lived in, but he kept up appearances for the girl. She was the only person he
cared about. He let her think she was clever in uncovering some big secret, but
the truth was that none of this was a shocking revelation. Anyone who had spent
enough time under that dome already knew the truth, deep down. Shit was fucked
up.

He approached the bar, a tall two-story structure with
aluminum siding and deep carvings into the metal that indicated it was, indeed,
a place to get drunk. He stood outside and took out his pipe, leaning against
the siding.

“Where are you?” He mumbled to no one in particular as
he lit he alcohol-based lighter, just allowing the flame to hover over the
pipe. The white, powdery substance inside the pipe began to bubble as he took a
deep drag and allowed the smoke to fill his lungs. When the first settlers
arrived, they ran out of what was called cigarettes pretty quickly. Presumably
all the stress of starting a colony on a foreign planet diminished the
stockrooms at an impressive rate, so they had to find a new source of a quick,
few

minute
buzz. Thus, Cigz was born.

Again, The Union was bursting with creativity.

“You know that stuff will kill you, right?” A sweet
voice echoed in the distance. He glanced up to see Velar appear in the light of
the path.

“Oh, don’t give me that shit right now, we are about
to pour pure alcohol made from who knows what into our blood stream. Once you
justify that, then you can hop back onto your pedestal,” he smiled wryly as he
walked out to meet her.

As she came towards him, he sucked in a sharp breath.
Damn, she really was beautiful. She was short – couldn’t be over 5’2” in boots
– but what she lacked in height, she made up for in being a know

it

all. She
was wearing her typical tight green shirt with that backpack firmly strapped
on, the straps so tight that you’d think she was worried it might suddenly
sprout legs and walk away from her somehow. She was very curvy and built from
good stock. Alerik knew that she was aware of how attractive she was. Yet, for
some reason, she never acted like she was too pretty to be seen with the likes
of him. Why? He'd probably never know.

When he reached her, she didn’t give him much time to
actually give her a proper greeting, she just linked her arm in his and
continued walking.

“You alright? You seem eager,” he said dryly as he
glanced over at the girl tugging on his arm. He moved a little faster to keep
up with her pace.

She looked up at him, “Yes, I’m alright. Just another
long day in the mines. You know, betterment of blah, blah, blah…”

They reached the entrance to the bar and she slid open
the metal siding before stepping inside. Alerik followed behind her, sliding
the door shut before scoping out the bar.

The place was a shit hole. Depression hung in the air
like an invisible fog. Happy music still played, though. It was the only kind
of music they would ever play

everything else had been
confiscated by The Union. They didn’t want sad music bringing down the morale
of their workers, so only upbeat and fast-paced music was permitted. It was
said to create a positive atmosphere, which in turn would increase
productivity.

Ha. Right.

If The Union wanted to improve morale, it would take a
lot more than an upbeat tempo.

That wasn’t the worst of it though. The worst were the
reruns on The Union-sponsored television channel, the only channel that came in
on the static-filled boxes that citizens were permitted to use. It was all
reruns of American 1950’s television programs. All happy, all the time… and all
fake. Alerik was wise enough to know that no one is or ever was that happy.
Things go wrong. Life is never as perfect as they show on television. Then
again, maybe on Earth it had been. It surely wasn't perfect on Mars. Closer to
the opposite, in fact.

Alerik walked up to the bartender and ordered a couple
of shots for himself and his companion. As he did, Velar hopped up onto the stool
next to him. She motioned for him to lean closer as she whispered into his ear.

“I don’t want to get blackout drunk tonight. I want to
come to your place,” she lowered her voice, eyes darting around as if she was
making sure no one was eavesdropping, “I have something to show you.”

Alerik was taken aback a second. He was quiet as the
gears turned in his head. What could she possibly need to tell him at his place
that she couldn’t say here? He quickly dismissed a thought that popped into his
head. That one was both impossible as it was inappropriate. Finally, he
reasoned it probably had something to do with their earlier conversation. Yeah,
probably that. He was glad he worked it out before he said something stupid out
loud.

He offered Velar a small nod as the bartender slid
their order across the top of the bar. He picked up the shots and handed her
one, clinking his to hers and tossing it back quickly. Once he set the glass
down, he looked back up to see her grimace and he chuckled a bit. The girl never
could keep a straight face after taking a strong shot.

This had been their routine for a while, though Alerik
couldn’t really remember when it all started. She’d just shown up there after
work one day, looking awkward and out-of-place surrounded by the rough types
that usually frequented the place. They had started talking, venting about the
workday and eventually a friendship had formed between the two. Every night
after work and before the curfew, the pair would meet up at the shitty bar and
have a shot or two… or seven. There were few things in his life that he looked
forward to as much as he looked forward to their daily bar ritual.

“You ready to get out of here, then? We still have to
be up early,” he said as he scanned a few credits onto his bar tab to pay for
the drinks. They’d need to cut the bar time short if they wanted to travel to
his place and still get her home in time. Velar nodded excitedly, obviously
itching to talk to him about whatever it was that was on her mind.

The two quickly headed out of the bar and Alerik
reached for his pipe out of habit.

“Don’t do that, we don’t have time,” Velar said before
grabbing his hand and leading him back onto the path, “I have a few questions
for you, about… You know, the history of
us
,” she said in an ominous
tone. As she turned her head to face forward, her long, dark hair flowed over
her shoulders like the dust storms that engulf the dome.

“This again?” he half-smiled, locking his eyes on the
path ahead of them so he’d stop noticing things like her hair, “I have no
problem with giving you what I remember. Just please, don’t make it an exam,
deal?”

“Deal,” she nodded as they both walked in unison under
the dim light of the street lamps.

Their walk through the settlement was uneventful, the
usual sterile smell of metal and dirt filled the air. The filtration system on
the dome always did its job, but the metallic smell of the terrain outside
always seemed to permeate in, and you never quite got used to it.

The settlement was mostly a uniformed height, no buildings
exceeded five stories tall except for the buildings in the Ruby and Diamond
district. Those buildings towered above them all, stretching upwards from an
impressive thirty all the way up to a hundred stories tall. The buildings were
grim and dark. All structures were, in fact. The dome amplified the weaker
sunlight, and the dark buildings absorbed it, making heating a little easier.

The settlement was a well-oiled machine, an ecosystem.
Everyone had the same amount of pay, the same amount of things to choose from
if they wanted to use their pay, and the same structured, pre-planned lives.

Nearly all the inhabitants of Liberty were miners.
Exceptions were the guards who kept order, and the people of The Union. The
Union was comprised of scientists, doctors, and politicians – all fighting for
the same chair. Historically, power had switched hands often in Liberty.

For the last fifty years, however, it has been ruled
by one man. Aldain Denamu. His family had been fighting for power since the
dome went up, leveraging the power that their name held due to the weight it
had back on Earth. Now that the family finally had someone in the lead chair, there
would be no letting it go.

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