It's the future, one not so far away. Mars. A colony that prospers without being really aware of the history of its origins. A woman is the only one who knows it, or that's what she believes. And in the south of the red planet a giant dust storm arises...
RED RUST OF SUMMER
It was ugly, but not without charm. So much that Kate couldn't help going close to the overlook to gaze at the enormous regolith block outside. Polished and shaped like a keel against the faint wind of Mars, it endured stoic the sharp abrasion of the dust, although the rust had already infected the reddish hue of the planet on it. And soon it would have to bear again the weak temper of that desolated star. It was summer in the south hemisphere by then and in that crater-laden ground a planetary storm had been brewing.
Like the one of that day.
The blood spilled then was her secret blame, but she didn't repent for it. She had to choose between that or the absolute ruin for the colony, and time had sided with her, although for that she had to renounce her previous life. That way her old name ended engraved on the monolith, together with the ones she sacrified. A reasonable price, she thought, for reaching so high.
Just one doubt had keep her uneasy for many years. What happened to that dark-haired woman? They never found her body, only the wrecked remains of her survival suit. Maybe Mars ended the job that day burying her in its haggard and dusty skin. Or maybe...
Her thoughts barely allowed her to notice the woman with the jet short hair who, discreetly, placed herself on her side. She didn't pay her attention, many enjoyed watching the chestnut horizon through the vast overlook. But the stranger wanted to share that moment of contemplation with her.
—The view is great, but that monolith spoils it.
Kate looked surprised at the brunette, was she talking to her? Not seeing anyone else close around there pointed her out that yes, that she had to answer her.
—The truth is that it didn't convinced me at first —said Kate, smiling to the unknown woman. Nevertheless, when she glanced at her she felt something familiar. Why?—, but I don't think it's that ugly anymore.
—I'm not annoyed by its looks —objected the woman with unexpected harshness—, but its inscription. Your name shouldn't be carved there, Faith.
A heart ceased to pump life for an instant, Kate's. What had she call her? Her frightened mind looked for an explanation, and she found it fast.
—Cannot be! Ju… Julia?!
—How long, doesn't it? —Julia's sarcasm sounded lethal— Yes, Faith, at last I've come for you.
Kate tried to step back, to get far from that spectre from the past. But the other woman was faster.
—No, no —said Julia in a musical tone, grasping her by the wrist—. You can't go. You must see how I blow up your lie!
With her free hand she fished some sort of remote out of a pocket and pressed a giant button. Faith didn't need explanations, it was a detonator. One like the other she used years before.
The explosion lit up the furious smile of Julia, quite the face of vengeance. The floor trembled and the regolith, smashed into pieces, strafed the lookout's glass.
Faith, stunned, was unable to break free from that woman. Confusion raised to the top in the place, and worst was the terror. She couldn't help being carried away by her captor towards a near maintenance access, and there the woman forced her to put on a survival suit. One aged and badly patched that confounded her when she noticed it was from the original settlement.
—Yes, Faith. You'll go for a walk with the suit that saved my life that day. Put it on, come on!
She found hard to walk in it. It was made for someone bigger than Julia even. But she didn't had time to think about it, she was forced at gunpoint to go further from the place of the explosion and any chance of rescue. Julia had planned her move well.
—And now what! —blurted out the woman with two names—. Are you going to execute me? It's too late! I've won! Ceranis is something that those idealistic wackos would'nt have imagined to achieve ever!
—And killing them was the best way to convince them, eh? Just because your ambition was better than their dream?
—Their dream was impossible! And I didn't want to lose everything for one damned utopia!
The radios transmitted their faltering breathing, a slight pause for their confronted wills. Julia denied in silence, but her gaze was still resolute. She got close to Faith and turned her around, making her face the horizon. An enormous and orange cloud was growing nearer.
—You see it? Was summer in the south back then, and came a dust storm —the woman's tone was hard, accusatory—. Just like that one. Perfect to hide your massacre, and to cover my flight from it... But it wasn't funny. No, Faith. I walked kilometres inside that abrasive dust which blinded me and wore down my suit. With no other water than the recycled, and to eat only the feeling of hunger, I survived after all. And I sweared revenge, Faith!
Julia shoved her wildly, making her stumbling over. She would have bitten the dust if she hadn't worn a helmet. Faith sat up awkwardly to face again the female who was sending her to death.
—Kill me already, Julia! Or you don't want to get stained with my blood!
Julia didn't reply, first she took out an huge knife from a sheat at her back and showed it to her.
—I've learned many things these years, don't wish me to practice all of them on you —Her menace reflected red on the edge of the weapon—. If Mars forgives you… Who knows? Maybe I'll do it too.
Faith looked at the woman, then to the dust cloud hovering over the colony. Translucent and frayed, veiled the distance's boundaries. She had two deadly options, one certain and the other... She stood up and, without looking back, started to walk. It was not of her taste to let herself killed without resisting till the end.
Julia simply remained there, seated on a protrusion, watching how the woman evaporated in the dry and vague tempest.