Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 1, Part 1

“They will look like us. They will work with us. They will even try to be us, but they are not us. In the future there will be robots.”

“For every generation there is one who shall answer to prophecy. They will be superior in combat and defence. You will know their name as the Maverick and preserving humanity is their calling.” – Lucius, a Warrior

 

Welcome to the Future

Chapter 1: Just a Soldier

Jack Thorn was entirely oblivious to the fact he stood so close to his own destiny. Only at that precise moment it faced him in disguise by way of a clunky metal air lock door. He shared the stale processed air with a regiment of other soldiers waiting for their dropship to land. Then the war would really begin.

How he got there would make a rich and far stretching story, but what followed after, well that is where this journey begins. A tale intertwined with destiny going back further than anyone could imagine just for this moment to exist. Sometimes Jack thought about everyday life just like that. One day can be made up of a series of chance meetings; unbeknown to you or anyone else that you may meet the love of your life or your archenemies and everyone in between. Maybe the soldiers behind him were just a cameo in his blockbuster life or maybe they would charge with him and lead the front line all the way to the enemy. He didn’t know at this precise moment that his thought process compared to others was different. His making was of prophecy laid out generations before. A prophecy saying he would fight and that he’ll be good at it.

“Damn turbulence,” Steve Franco grumbled. He glanced around nervously whilst trying to keep a rigid stance to the right of Jack.

Everyone bounced in slow-motion as the gravity adjusted. All of them bobbing up and down in clunky hard padded armouring, shoulder to shoulder in threes. They weren’t on solid ground just yet.

“Flying is so damn overrated right now,” Jack Thorn said with a tone of concern.

He eyed the mud encrusted metal grating they all stood upon.

“That’s just the battle anxiety in ya,” said the soldier stood on his other side. This older man thumped the chin strapped standard issue helmet he wore.

Franco’s round and rough shaven face briefly peered to this older soldier. The dim lights flickered for all but a moment and then Franco spoke with a Brooklyn tongue,

“Yeah, nothing like the fear of death to get the heart pumping. I just want you to know Connolly that both myself and Thorn are ever so grateful you volunteered us to the front.”

“I’ve always got you fellas in mind,” the soldier Connolly proudly said.

“At least in that way we get first dibs on cover and you gals need the experience. Unlike the senior cats on this boat. They didn’t appreciate the call up against these walking talking manikins”.

The entire dropship jolted with a rattling vibration.

“We attack this situation before it gets a chance. Guns up the ass of the enemy. Don’t give them an inch,” Connolly added.

“He’s right. We attack this situation Franco, so man up.” Jack thumped Franco’s worn out plastic shoulder pad.

“In the history of being told to man up, who actually has manned up?”  Franco asked with an air of protest.

“Anybody ever said you think too much?” Connolly asked while turning away.

Jack gripped Franco’s shoulder and pulled him in close,

“What do I always say?” His eyes looked into the worried stare of his oldest friend.

“We find a way, always,” Franco chanted softly.

“We find a way, always,” Jack repeated and took a breath.

There came commotion from the back and then a rumbling of hydraulics underneath.

“Landing gear. It’s time,” Jack said. He checked the auto rifle cradled in his plastic armour shrouded arms.

“This is where we are supposed to be man, trust me,” he added.

“You better be right man.”

They smiled to each other, not in an endearing or loving type of way but the way two mischievous best friends would when they had an assured cunning plan.

The caged red light above the air lock door began to flicker.

Soldier Connolly turned to face his comrades and pulled a slider on his auto rifle. It powered to life with a digital display below the scope.

“Cliffeville regiment. Check your ammo and stand strong!” He strengthened his footing as everything seemed to shudder.

Both Thorn and Franco checked their weapons and pulled the sliders. As they let go their whole world bounced to a heavy jolt. The drop ship landed and the airlock door hissed loudly. A deafening barrage of war sounds blasted them. Music of terror and chaos played. The light above changed to green. That only meant one thing. Next came the piercing and vibrating buzz, their signal to disembark.

“We find a way, always!” Jack barked over the loudness. He caught the image of Franco reciting those words just as another sight came into view.

Bright flashes and explosions played out on what was a murky and cloudy planet.

“Move, move, move…”

Jack marched forward and down the ramped airlock door. Franco followed behind with their boots gracing soft brown ground. Neither of them heard the droning whine resonating from above. The noise careened down from the sky and with it a damning bright light. Franco glanced up with a hand held to his helmet. His eyes widened to see the bright flaring light heading down towards him. He rushed forward alongside Jack and then a burning force knocked them both forward. Their boots lifted along with everything else. They crashed to the soggy sponge type ground of this planet. Their welcome, an explosive burning.

“Shit,” Jack said. He glanced back to smoke and flames

“They’re all gone!” Franco stared into mostly smoke and a mass of crumpled metal and burning.

“Connolly,” Jack shouted. He jumped up.

Franco grabbed his and Jack’s auto rifles and followed.

“We damn took a direct hit,” Connolly croaked.

“Welcome to X43 I guess,” he added.

“And this time the odds were with us,” Jack shouted over the loudness of war.

 He helped the older soldier to his feet while the orchestra of gun fire and explosive commotion crept in all around them. This was a sheer sight of pandemonium. Other drop ships were landing nearby, all of them filled with men and women ready to duel with doom.

“Come on. We have to move forward,” Jack shouted.

He grabbed his auto rifle back. With one free arm he helped with Franco in guiding Connolly forward.

“What do we do now? This shit has gone south quickly!”

“But we are still here no matter how south Franco,” Connolly shouted. He broke free from his aiding soldiers.

“Take it all robot scum!” He marched on his own and discharged the auto rifle. A spray of bright laser guided bullets charged forward to the nearby horizon. Standing on it, a line of approaching enemy, the robots.

“Come on man this is it,” Jack shouted to Franco.

They both lined up with Connolly, aimed and picked targets. With more bullets volleying to the horizon they met incoming movement, some fell to the ground whilst others persevered. A nearby cluster of soldiers watched the last three of Cliffeville regiment take a stand for losing their brethren, then they joined in. Still the robot offensive advanced with more and more numbers heading from the bullet hazed horizon

“We’re kinda outnumbered!” Franco shouted. He reached down to his leg side pocket for another ammunition magazine.

“Preserve your laser rounds, switch to metal jackets!” Connolly ordered. He twisted a dial on his auto rifle. After an electronic whine a burst of bullets spread out wide and he tried to hose incoming robots down.

“Hold the line Gunners!” Shouted a commanding voice. Jack turned to see a pair of stern eyes look him back. He focused on the rest of a tanned rugged and scarred face, the face of a woman.

“Not the time to be eyeing up the talent soldier, and I’m pretty much it,” this older woman said in a slight Hispanic tongue

Jack’s eyes flashed over her printed chest name and initial.

“Well ‘M. Garcia’. Watch this,” Jack said. Before bolting forward, he gave this ‘Garcia’ a daring look.

“That’s Major Garcia to you soldier,” she barked.

“We got a man in the line of fire. Hand to hand offensive. Move!” Connolly looked up to see Jack run in to battle.

Like always Jack Thorn faced situations like this in a unique kind of slow motion. It seemed weird to begin with, the sensation of racing heart beat and everything around slowing down. By the time he reached the age he was, Jack had learned to use it and that’s what he did.

A cluster of dark blue uniformed robots marched toward the front running Jack. Some with guns others with just their hands. They moved like humans and even had mannerisms like humans. But Jack knew they weren’t like him, he had a sixth sense for these things. He looked closer at them, there were scratches and burns bringing out their partially plastic faces. Some had uniforms burned or ripped away and this rag tag army didn’t stop at anything, Jack liked it that way.

He engaged target number one, a robot about take aim but instead received a sharp forceful jab. The robot blinked as the stunning flash of attack made him stop. Jack, already in mid jump, swung all the way around. His boot driving into the side of robot head before it could even realise. The force caused a spark instantly knocking the target down.

Everything sped up and Thorn landed before his first victim hit the ground.

“You’re fast. Wanna see how faster a robot can be?” Another enemy closed in, bigger than the last and charging.

“I’m not sure you’ll live to find out,” Jack said with deadpan emotion.

He side stepped and ducked to evade a wild swipe. This he followed into another jumping round house kick; not an easy feat in the clunky battle armour. The big robot grunted and stumbled forward after the force hit from behind. Before any words could be spoken the robot’s mouth was driven shut by a thundering uppercut by Thorn. Another spark and flash followed, the robot crashed to the ground where it remained motionless.

Jack skipped on further into combat. He scoped out another as it came charging and they collided. Thorn couldn’t even manoeuvre his auto rifle to aim as the robot wrestled it away with a smile. The enemy hovered one dirty finger over the trigger. Thorn smiled back and then swung out a high and wide kick colliding into auto rifle and mostly robot. Bullets fired upwards as the robot lost footing and fell. Jack rolled forward, closed in and reached out. With quick nimble hands, he took the rifle back and turned the weapon. A short burst of fire blew into plastic flesh and black oily liquid sprayed.

Jack sensed another robot close in behind and so he drove an elbow back. His padded arm buried straight into another face, there came the familiar spark and spray of liquid, but Thorn was nowhere near done. He only moved on with robots falling and leaving a trail of destruction.

“What’s he on and where can I get some?” Connolly asked. He and Franco struggled to wrestle a single robot. Together they worked in getting it to the ground.

“I don’t know… but take this you son of a, bitch,” Franco shouted. He drove a foot into the downed robot’s face. They both looked further ahead to the group of robots that had been dented by Thorn’s efforts.

“Remind me to apologize fully to Thorn,” Connolly said.

“What for?” Franco asked.

“Everything, just everything.”

He and Franco were passed by Major Garcia and a wide cluster soldiers following.

“Let’s not stand on ceremony. Help the soldier damn it or he’ll win the war on his own,” she ordered.

“Come on Connolly.” Franco marched forward.

In the clearing of downed enemies Jack looked all around, in his sights came a straggling robot. He focused on the target and took a double step forward swivelling his body side on into a stretching kick. In a flash he leant back and drove his right boot up and high, the sole driving into the chin of this unsuspecting target. Jack’s whole body seemed to follow in smashing through the robot’s chin. Again came the flash.

The sounds of war and explosions carried off in the distance where many more battles were taking place, but for now on this small rock surrounded hill Jack Thorn claimed it to be his own the moment the final robot fell. Major Garcia’s regiment closed in all around the scene of partial victory.

“Reel it in dog tags,” Garcia ordered.

Jack found his two fellow regiment mates and without breaking a sweat or any lost breath he stood beside them.

“That was some intensity Thorn, didn’t know you had that in ya,” Connolly said with an air of surrender in his tone.

“That was kind of showy, but in a necessary this is war kind of way,” Franco added with an approving nod and attitude of someone who had seen Thorn fight many times previous.

“Alright soldiers, break it up,” Major Garcia grumbled, she stepped in to face Thorn.

“I don’t do compliments much, but that was some fine work soldier. You wanna tell me your name?”  She asked. Her eyes looked at Jack’s nameless chest armour.

“It’s Thorn, Major,” he said and nodded.

“Thorn huh, I knew a Thorn once before, back in the day. Well it seems like you three are the remainder of an extinct regiment. That’s the brutal reality of this gig. For now, consider yourselves honorary Gunnery members.” She nodded to Jack as her regiment roared in approval.

“I’ve got just the mission for a quick fighter like you Thorn.” They started to walk back towards the wrecked dropship, now a smouldering pile of jagged metal.

“I’m guessing it’s the type of something you would rather not lose one of your own with?” Jack asked and Garcia eyed him firmly again.

“I’ve met your type before kid, young and full of ability but you’re attitude stinks.”

“That attitude keeps me and my friends alive Major. Sorry if that’s disappointing to the man,” Jack said.

Garcia stopped again and moved within spitting distance of Thorn. Her face full of commanding grimace,

“I don’t give two shits about the ‘man’. And the deal on this rock is all types of irrelevant. Just like you I happened to be in the army when this war got declared. Now I think it’s pretty damn obvious what you are capable of and I’m asking if you’ll answer to that. Hell, maybe we’ll get a name printed on that third hand armour of yours. Then perhaps you’ll be somebody, that’s why we are all here right?” she asked.

Jack cracked a half smile and replied, “This mission then? What did you have in mind?”

*                      *                      *

Jeremey Jones awkwardly shifted his large frame in the leather office style chair. No matter which position he tried or whatever lever he adjusted, nothing could be done to achieve any comfort. Jones was a big man approaching fifty and unless the seat had been custom made his body would protest. This was a pay by the hour conference room after all so the décor and contents were mostly items of the cheap plastic persuasion and to him, a place he looked down his nose at.

Jones wouldn’t let thoughts like that go any further. He spent a life convincing people the family he came from weren’t just some snooty upper-class types. So there he sat trying to keep a military drilled posture in an expensive suit at the head of a long oval table and the chair was a pain in the ass.

He glanced at the ‘commy’ around his left wrist. The future’s answer to the cell phone. It did just about everything a cell would, plus more. He tapped the glowing screen and checked the time. Still the same as a few seconds ago when he last checked.

“It’s been a long damn time,” a southern accent said out of the nearby shadows.

Jones looked to the outline of Joey Connors opposite. His tipped cowboy style hat leant forward into a spotlight with the rest of him. A roughly bearded and wrinkled face glanced up momentarily and nodded to Jones.

“You’re looking old Jones,” Connors added and smiled.

“None of us have as much hair as we used to but we aren’t exactly young anymore,” Jones said. He ran a large hand across his near grey slightly receding hair line.

“It’s not the greatest of turnouts,” another said closely beside Jones. He too leant out of the shadows. An African American; Axel Hendricks looked to the only two other occupants of the room and then clasped both hands together. One of them covered by a dark leather glove.

“Do ya blame them?” Connors asked, “hell I turned up so Kelly didn’t have to, plus he’s running the bar in a state that currently has a shutdown government. Anybody heard from Clark in recent times?”

“Not for a few years, but him no showing doesn’t surprise me one bit. I also tracked down Don Dedman,” Jones said.

“He’s still alive?” Connors laughed.

“Barely,” Hendricks said.

“Who else is around, that uh, survived that night?” Connors asked.

“Harish went back to India after Police Force shut the department down,” Hendricks explained.

“And Louis?”

“Blew out years ago, busy running the family restaurant,” Jones added with a deep sigh.

“Well fellas, good try and all but this reunion kind of stinks,” Connors said.

“Saying that, it’s good to see you both. Those years I spent up in the city were good times with good folks. Shame it went the way it did. You know if ya think about it deep, we caused that shitstorm in a way.”

The room fell silent for a moment. Connors felt the awkwardness before the other two and did his best to fill it with words. As he inhaled to speak Jones beat him to it,

“I’m going to bring back the World Force.”

Connors stared at Jones vacantly until he became conscious of the silence.

“What now?” He asked in that southern accent.

“Seeing as Police Force didn’t want to renew their deal it put us all out of job. Acting ‘Chief’ Martin Case made that decision personally. That means it goes back to before, where I fully own the rights to robot law enforcement in the eyes of the S.E.S. With Hendricks I am going to bring back the World Force,” Jones said.

“That is why we invited you here today. Just to connect after all this time and talk about it. Maybe you could have some involvement in training future World Forcer’s,” Hendricks added.

“Ownership in the eyes of ‘S.E.S’? I can’t believe this shit. You’re both serious about this? Serious about treadin’ on the lives of those folks we lost all those years ago on that damn night. I was there when it happened, and we lost those people. Clark lost everything man, and I wasn’t far from it either,” Connors barked.

He pulled back and lifted his leg up onto the table, he revealed it to be metal and prosthetic.

“This is what happened to me that night and I have to live with it for the rest of my days. I fled that city because those damn robots won. What gives you any damn idea you ‘own the rights’ to robot law enforcement?”

“We all have our scars from the past,” Hendricks said. He held out both hands momentarily.

Jones ran a hand along the prominent scar on his right cheek. He then slid a hand into the jacket he wore. From it he took a faded bronze badge.

“The Secret Earth Services presented me with this all those years ago. They never revoked it Connors. Even after Clark’s presumed breakdown he still has his. So, in my eyes our original deal still stands. What is it you have an issue with?” Jones asked.

Connors clambered to his feet and made for the door.

“After all these years, you’re still afraid of him aren’t you?” Jones asked making Connors stop. Again, silence ruled until he turned.

“You bet your ass I am. You weren’t there Jones. You didn’t see the way he drove that blade into…” He stopped himself before simmering over with even more anger and took a breath.

“She died that night and it changed all of our lives. For whatever you have planned I say bullshit and I want nothing to do with it. Let me be the only one who actually cares about defending our legacy without stepping on it.”

“A legacy of failure?” Jones replied. Again, Connors stopped.

“You would make a good politician ‘Sarge’. People still call you that right? Cliffevile could do with a mayor like you to ignore the people’s needs.”

Connors limped away to the door. He pulled it to and then came the loud angry slamming.

“I expected more resistance from the others,” Jones said.

“They didn’t show and probably for good reason,” Hendricks added.

“They don’t know what we and Clark know. This planet has a robot crime problem that we fought for so long. Just because our contract with that corrupt police force timed out doesn’t mean we have to stop. There’s a new generation of fighters out there and so is our maverick. He could be up there on that muddy rock,” Jones said.

“X43? You know he is, but what about the girl?”

“As far as I know, the Warrior is watching over her. Where they are right now, I don’t know…”

“Well Jones, we are going to need a Warrior if you want this to be a success…”

“I know Hendricks, I know. We need a whole bunch of them. The World Force worked because of the Warrior support we had. Right now, we need to get our Maverick, that’s if Lucius turned out to be right.”

*                      *                      *

“I’ll be brief soldier…” Major Garcia braced while a nearby thudding explosion shook the muddy ground of X43. Her Gunnery regiment stood huddled around in a covering cluster of rocks, this included their three new recruits.

Jack stood front and centre. He listened in over the distant sound of battle which seemed to close in around them.

“Now here’s our line.” Garcia turned and glanced at the upward slope leading to battle. Men and women soldiers struggled to push back attacking robots.

“Receding at every moment,” she mumbled and pulled out a long battle knife from her belt. In one motion she sliced a horizontal line in the brown clay type rock surface.

“Over that hill and across the way is another line.” Again, she sliced a parallel line above the first.

“The ‘supposed robot rebellion’ have a line of mobile artillery trucks. They move around and to wherever we drop troops.”

Jack watched her carving five crosses above the top line.

“They were responsible for taking out your regiment. Our job is to take them out before they move on…”

The whole area shook violently. Clumps of mud rained down on the group. An artillery shot landed dangerously near. The ground rumbled and dust rode the wind briefly thickening the air with a thick dusty haze.

“As you can see, they are still in town. If you want to make yourself a hero kid, then the job is yours to take them out. All you gotta do is run in there and place some explosive charges,” the Major explained.

A cluster of her troops turned towards the hill. More and more robots appeared.

“Bullet meat at twelve o clock,” Connolly shouted. He pushed through everyone and began to lead a group of soldiers. They began to fire up towards incoming robots.

“So this is a suicide mission, right?” Jack asked. He knew there probably wasn’t a choice in backing out now.

Garcia wiped the knife on her leg and holstered it.

“Right. As I said your more than capable of this Thorn. Maybe you’ll even earn yourself a star on that chest of yours,” she shouted over more gunfire.

“Like me.” She revealed a covering shroud just above her chest nameplate. It revealed two faded gold stars.

Thorn nodded. He slipped into his own mind momentarily and to a truth where he was a guy in his mid-twenties who never really amounted to anything. The calling he would come to realise faced him. Major Garcia’s words led him out of the brief trance.

“You wanna be someone in this world you gotta work for it. We’ll crush this offensive and then call in an airstrike of extraction gas. That stuff takes down anything that moves within a thousand-yard radius. You run in as the gas drops, place a charge at each gun and get your ass out of there. Jefferson?”

Garcia called to a soldier carrying an armoured rucksack. He looked up to her and Thorn through a set of goggle style glasses.

“Here are the charges. Five in total for five artillery placements.” Jefferson took out a pipe shaped oval ended device from the sack.

“You pull and twist. This red band will light up and indicate it being armed.” He shoved the bag into Thorn who shouldered it.

“Have you got comms?” Jefferson then asked. He gripped Thorn’s left wrist and took a closer look at his robust commy.

“We’re on battle channel ten. Sync your commy and we can talk. When you place the final charge call it in,” he said.

“What do I do then?” Jack asked. He tapped on the commy screen a few times as Jefferson began to usher him forward.

“You run the hell out of there,” Garcia shouted. She charged past him and joined in on the gun fire.

“Evasive forward movement!” She waved for everyone to move over the hill. They began to push back the incoming robots.

“You sure about this Jack?” Steve Franco asked giving Jack that all familiar mischievous look.

“Nope but that’s why we joined this damn war, to do something with our lives.”

Franco nodded and cracked a half smile. This wasn’t the first time their comradery got them through a situation.

“Hey, I enjoyed driving buses back home. If you weren’t gonna do this, I probably would. I guess I can’t always be that semi-coward friend who follows you into all types of shit,” Franco added with Thorn managing a momentary smile.

“Just cover me, you and Connolly are good shots, the others, I’m not so sure.” Jack marched forward.

“I guess that’s a compliment…” Franco waved him off.

Jack rushed out from the cluster of soldiers and up the hill. He looked out towards the next horizon. It stood closer than he realised, and this was happening sooner than he wanted.

“Spread out and cover our man Thorn,” Garcia ordered. She fired towards an unarmed robot.

The soldiers fanned out and took back the hill with Jack running out front. He saw the expanse of a now empty battlefield and in his ear came a crackling from his commy. The incoming audio travelled up his wrist and though the body using advanced frequency to sound like a clear phone call.

“Thorn, this is Jefferson testing comms do you hear me?”

“Yeah,” he said and looked to see Jefferson moving toward him.

“These explosives are inconvenient to carry,” he added.

“Ok that’s the communications link working. I’m gonna go ahead and call in for the air strike,” Jefferson said.

Thorn watched as Jefferson turned.

“…is Jefferson of the second gunnery requesting a strike of extraction gas. Our area code is ‘AOE, and position, silver’. I repeat our code is ‘AOE, and position silver’.”

“Affirmative, target has not moved,” he added. After a moment he faced Thorn and shouted to everyone.

“It’s coming in!” Jefferson signalled to his fellow soldiers who looked up to him waving.

“Make us proud Thorn,” Garcia shouted.

The next horizon seemed further away to Thorn this time and at the very edge were five blocks of grey. The artillery. He looked up to the thick clouds above. A droning whine flew overhead followed by a strike of what looked like lightning. It rained down on the horizon with a flash. A billowing array of smoke began to rise.

“That’s your queue Thorn, go!” Jefferson ordered.

Thorn began to sprint towards the smoke and towards the unknown…

End of Part 1 

Tune in Next week for another edition of Jack Thorn. Same Jack time, same Jack place… Remember if you enjoyed reading, tell a friend, leave a comment and share it around on social media…

READ PART 2 HERE

 

Copyright 2004 – 2019 ‘Jack Thorn’ and ‘The Thorn Legacy’ Written By Lee Hall 2019 All rights reserved.  

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Weekly Ramble #33

Let’s talk about Game of Thrones; I want to talk about what a lot of folks have on their mind and like me I wholeheartedly agree with the fact GOT resolved itself in a pretty shitty way.

I don’t think a petition to redo will make it any better and when we’re removed from it in ten years time will it be that bad? Some of the stuff that happened fit, the good guys kind of prevailed and the evil Lanister regime fell. Overall GOT became a coming of age story for the Stark kids, looking back at S1 it always was about them so why would anything different happen?

John Snow returning north did kind of leave me a little deflated. Not every loose end was tied and above all this thing felt like a quick cash grab wrap up. Or is this just the complaining culture we live in these days? One person says something sucks; gives zero real reason other than they didn’t like something and then all of a sudden a twitter group is 200,000 strong and putting petitions together.

GOT and it’s final season may be the first time the internet horde generation has faced something like this. Maybe because of the availability of instant opinion means maybe it was always destined to fuck a lot of people off, or am I trying to rationalise the fact it was a shitty ending? But it isn’t ruined, it’s just not the way you fantasized it, grow up. At the end of the day you watched it, so they won.

From a writers perspective it seems the story was put together in a rushed kind of way. It’s almost as if the show writers/runners were offered some kind of lucrative deal from someone like Disney and they got distracted. This sounds like the case and in my opinion if so they have broken the golden rule of story telling – tell the current story you are working on, in an orderly fashion with all of your upmost effort. One project at a time, tell what is in front of you, not in the future or shall we say in this case a galaxy far far away. Above all that’s just unprofessional and bad form; hence GOT’s downfall… 

Another huge factor to the show’s somewhat disappointing culmination is the fact it always had to end. Most shows run until they get cancelled; the show runners then move to an endgame. In this case there was always going to be an end but it just wasn’t very good. It’s not as melodramatic as some people were trying to debate online; quite honestly I don’t have time to discuss a TV show. It is what it is and we can now all move on. The pandemic of bad story telling in the final act is alive and well, I guess they can’t all be Breaking Bad…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kau D’varza: A story in the ChaosNova universe by David Noë – ARC Review

Engaging and immersive high end sci-fi that follows multiple characters along with their antics of journeying through space…

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In the ChaosNova universe the depths of space can be filled with near enough unlimited scope for mystery, deception, risks and reward as this book focuses on ‘Kau D’varza’ a space station where something is always happening. 

Elise Rivera; a relative newcomer to the station in search of a new life soon becomes entangled first of all into some trouble before the realisation comes that she can be of great use. After an early conversation with station’s arch commissioner Elise rides her luck in some senses towards becoming an External Investigations Specialist where she finds herself rubbing shoulders with other specialists of ‘Kau D’varza’ whether that be to help with traitorous engineers or even assisting on bigger space missions. Her journey is intertwined with other specialist’s as they all go about their duty in keeping the station safe; from incoming unknown ships, the threat of ‘Reclaimers’ or the scourge of space; pirates. 

We see these other stories which display the multitude of believable and likable folks such as the eventual romance of specialist Kaska Stone and Specialist Joseph Raffa which added to the many depths this story contains. I enjoyed the realistic approach and even somewhat clunky-ness of Raffa while he tried to do his best to court Stone; even if Ikarus did intervene to begin with.

The reading experience overall feels like a fly on the wall documentary in some places; which is a compliment to the very well constructed and detailed universe this story resides in. In the latter stages of what is a long but immersive read I particularly enjoyed the space battle which carried notes of the space adventures all sci-fi fans will know of along with cutting it’s own unique path. Pockets of action or deceptive investigation for the station specialists will keep any reader immersed in what is an original and highly detailed entry to the science fiction world.

5 Stars

I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Noë for providing an advanced copy of the book. I shall place my reviews in the usual places – Goodreads and Amazon. 

Kau D’varza can be preordered now via amazon and will be out soon! 

 

Darke Blood is FREE today only!

It’s 3 years since my 2nd book got published so to celebrate and the fact I actually have a decent following, it is FREE to download for 24 hours.

This is a one time deal (most probably) and I have done nearly zero promotion for it just to see how much of a following I do have!

So if you’re interested click here , if you need a little more persuasion this post is dedicated to convincing you why the story of true darkness should be your next read…. And remember above all, leave a review!

Recent Reviews:

I’ve made it my mission this year for ‘DB’ to get read and reviewed. Quite recently I’ve had 3 reviews from fellow bloggers.

Blair Leftly of the ‘Feed the Crime’ blog had these words to say about Darke Blood and main character Blake Malone… 

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4 cups of coffee ain’t bad, in fact it’s great, you can read Blair’s full review here and why don’t you give her awesome book review blog a follow also! 

Next up came a review from Nicole of ‘Mullen Crafts’ who had these great words to say not only about main character Blake Malone, but the female Han Solo equivalent of the book ‘Caitlyn’…

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Another epic review came from Jaycee Lynch of the ‘Thinking Moon Blog’, she had these words to say: 

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So as you can probably tell, Darke Blood is a vampire story but its also about so much more. Whilst drafting this book I dug deep and had to find myself as an author. It still is the hardest project I’ve ever faced and the resultant of that is a pretty epic and rewarding story full of twists and turns.

Above all its about identity and that’s translated as I found my identity as a writer which is then reflected to the characters and you’re probably thinking holy cheese, that’s deep and artsy; but it’s also true. 

Like all of my works they remain relatively undiscovered and so I need your help to show the world they do exist. Vampire stories tend to get a bad rep these days (guess we can thank Twilight) but my book has a certain sophistication and is about so much more than blood sucking creatures of the night!

If you are still not convinced here are some more reasons why you should read Darke Blood

Thank you for reading and go grab yourself a copy of Darke Blood right now! Remember to leave a review!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 4, Part 1

Chapter 4 – War Friends

“Well, I think cuddling is out of the picture,” Steve Franco chattered. A plume of vapor rose from his mouth into the still night air.

“With the way they crack the whip here, it’s probably a court martial offence.” Nicks smiled with a cloud also rising from her mouth.

The big freeze had consumed X43. A ten-day stint where the planet moved from the reaches of it’s nearby star that normally kept temperatures habitable. Both Franco and Nicks were huddled inside a sheltered alcove of the front-line trench. The smouldering glow of a barrel between them did just enough to stop the hypothermia.

“It’s funny,” Franco said, “I’m not sure our auto rifles will work when its this freezing.”

“Good thing the robots are hibernating for now,” Nicks added.

“Look alive grunts! We grovelled just enough for some gifts,” the commotion of Rob Connolly said. Jack appeared with him and they both carried a quadrant of canisters each.

“Is that beer?” Nicks asked.

“You bet your ass it is,” Jack said. They ducked into the alcove and began to hand out the stubby box shaped canisters.

“Two grunts of our stature blagged our way into the refectory tent.” Connolly began to gulp down his drink.

“We’re known as the ‘Shift-blasters‘ apparently,” Jack said.

“Well how abouts we toast before freezing to death.” Franco took a beer and held it up.

“To the Major,” Jack said, and they toasted.

“How could I forget. I snatched another burning log also.” Connolly pulled out a plastic log and dropped it into the barrel.

“So I guess we won’t be seeing any action if there’s beer?”

“Well Franco, I guess those walking tubs of plastic feel the cold too. If they call us over the top, we’re taking the beers with us,” Connolly added and again they toasted.

“You fellas are on quite the winning streak. Two gold stars of honour so far.” Nicks moved her hand to reveal the shroud below her name. A solitary gold star glistened below it as the nearby fire came to life.

“That gives me an idea. We earned that star together, with the Major. Perhaps we should honour her for it.” Jack unpinned his latest star and held it to the piping hot barrel. Carefully he let the flames lick gold paint which in turn became blackened.

“A black star for the Major,” he said.

“Too right.” Connolly did the same along with the others.

“We all stick by Thorn and more stars will come our way. That includes you Nicks. Maybe you can show the folks back at V54 after the war,” he added.

“Yeah, what’s that planet like?” Franco asked.

“I won’t be going back there.” Nicks pinned the now charred star back on her chest.

“I’m sensing a story,” Connolly said.

“Well. V54. Since birth you are taught to find an escape plan. ‘People’s republic planet of V54’, my ass.” Nicks kept a stare on the embers.

“That bad huh?” Jack asked.

“Yep, it’s that bad.”

“I thought the Chinese were not that bad,” Franco said.

“You hardly see them when you’re below the overpopulated poverty line. Yeah, they run V54, but you never see them on the streets. As soon as I heard they were offering troops to help the Army of Earth, I enlisted.”

For a moment Nicks eyes showed a struggle filled past she lived. Overcrowding, tightly spaced high rises full of disease, the slums and struggling to make ends meet. Even more so the sticky heat that made up most of the climate on V54. And worst of all, the pollution. New Earth it wasn’t.

“Sounds like a one-way deal then. Fight, win and the reward is Earth,” Connolly said nodding.

“Damn straight,” Nicks half-heartedly added.

“It’s not like V54 have the authority to come get me. Universal politics work in my favour.” She took another sip of beer.

“Now are you guys gonna tell me your story? Thorn? What is up with that accent?” She asked.

Jack finished his beer and crumpled the canister before dropping it into the fire.

“I bounced around a few places in the past. So did my accent I guess,” he said.

“Real mysterious,” Nicks said and finished her drink.

“He lived in England until he was like fifteen,” Franco said.

“Okay so we got English over here, and what point do you meet New York over there?” Nicks held her hand toward Franco, Connolly then filled it with another beer canister.

“My folks, well, my Father was from New York. Met my Mother from England in the city. Had me and sent me to live with my grand folks,” Thorn explained.

“For fifteen years. What were they protecting you from?” Nicks asked with a smile of intrigue.

“Whoever or whatever killed my Mother.”

All of them sat in momentary silence, looking to the burning embers.

“Sorry Thorn, I didn’t know…”

“Neither did I.”

Again came the silence while they all stood looking into the orange glow of heat. Then Franco spoke,

“Then you came back and went to that stuffy academy out in Cliffeville.”

“Is that when you started writing Thorn’s biography?” Nicks asked.

“We’ve always known each other. That Franco kid is the oldest friend I have. He came to England in the summer every damn year. And then to Cliffeville, he drove as soon as he got a licence. Even after I dropped out of that academy. They were grade A assholes,” Jack said.

“The greatest love story never told,” Franco added with a mischievous smile.

“All manly love aside. You were a young fella with a young family Thorn. You needed to provide and so you stumbled upon the Army of Earth and me.” Connolly raised his canister again.

“To family,” he said.

“So you got a kid Thorn?” Nicks asked.

“I’ve got two dependents, and a wife.”

“And let me guess New York over here followed you into the army also?”

“Na man. I stand in nobody’s shadow. I’m a man with my own aspirations and stuff. I had a career before this damn rock.”

“Is that so? What type of aspirations and stuff is that?”

“I was, I was a bus driver,” Franco said with pride.

“Then Jack called me and asked if I wanted to enlist. So I did and came to Cliffeville.”

“Cliffeville. State of sin and robots, right?” Nicks asked.

“Yeah, even people on V54 have heard of it.”

“Last hold out of the Western divide political alliance. Cliffeville is the real last land of the free in America,” Connolly said.

“To Cliffeville,” Nicks toasted. They all raised a beer over the fire.

“Maybe one day you guys can show me Cliffeville.”

“Sounds handsome. We all got something to go back to on that blue and green rock,” Connolly said.

“Are we finally going to hear the mysterious yet intriguing back story to Rob Connolly? Goatee wearing, gun toting man’s man,” Franco laughed.

“Save it soldier. The only thing waiting for me is the only woman who ever loved me back. Mrs Connolly’s baby boy will get back to her, no doubt. That lady, would do anything for her only son. Hell, I would do the same back.”

“To Mrs Connolly, family, fresh starts and driving buses,” Nicks said.

“And war friends,” Connolly added.

At the very moment they touched canisters a blaring screech from the nearby siren blared out to them.

“What is that?” Franco asked over the loudness. He poked his head out into the trench.

“I don’t recognise that sound… wait what? Have we gotta go over the top?” He asked to a passing soldier who shrugged whilst rushing past.

Jack gripped his auto rifle and moved out of the alcove. The drastically colder air hit him and instantly took his breath away.

“Damn, it’s cold. What’s happening?” He stepped up onto a ladder and squinted out of the trench. All he could see was the dark sky.

“Where’s the damn superiors? Shouldn’t they be yelling out orders.”

“I don’t know man, but that siren is loud!” Franco shouted as he joined Thorn.

“Is anyone going over the top?” Nicks asked appearing with Connolly.

Jack tried to see past murky darkness of a frozen battlefield.

“I can’t see zip. Wait. Where’s that dude going?” He watched from the left to see a solider clambering up onto the battlefield.

“Hey. Solider. Get back here! You’ll freeze to death…” Connolly shouted to the tall and wide shadow of the soldier trudging away. The siren clicked off to reveal another sound. Men and women arguing in confusion.

“Stand down termites!”

A superior officer appeared behind the front line.

“Back to your alcoves. Do you want to catch ice death?”

“But there’s a soldier out there on his own…”

“I said back to your alcoves…”

“What about the siren?” Franco asked.

“If you termites listened in basic that’s the enemy air strike alert.”

Jack began to climb the ladder. He stepped up onto the ice-covered mud.

“Stand down solider! That is an order!”

“Well I guess you better shoot me if you want me to stop.” And like that he hurried away.

The dramatically colder air hit him and darkness soon surrounded him. The voices of his friends drowned out and over the nearby horizon he went.

“Soldier!” He called out and saw up ahead the outline of a tall and wide man.

Now it was even darker, and the air seemed to sting as he breathed.

“Fall back. Turn around, it’s too damn cold out…”

From all directions forward came flashes of gun fire. Robots were closing in. Still the shadowy figure stood and fired back.

Jack ducked and continued to sprint forward. More gunfire exploded all around. Greens and reds coursed by him. The enemy were using laser rounds and Thorn glanced up to see a red burning strike the very near soldier in the shoulder.

After a loud grunt this soldier recovered and began to fire back. Jack joined him,

“This is suicide. There are too damn many of them.” He cowered back and tried to pull the much larger man back.

“Come on soldier. Move!” He fired some more but his efforts were focused on retreat.

From the murk above they both heard a droning. It moved fast and closed in.

“That’s a jet engine!” Jack shouted, and he looked up wide eyed the brightening fog. Something airborne swooped down and unloaded an onslaught of explosions.

Jack yanked the man down and they huddled behind a nearby rock. He saw this aircraft fly past, a shape he didn’t recognise. Just when the droning simmered down it came back along with a brightness up high.

“It’s coming back. We need to move.” Jack didn’t even look at the soldier’s face. He began a frantic retreat and this time the soldier followed.

They felt the airborne threat looming in the clouds above and just when it swooped out of the low fog they jumped down into a crater. Explosions rocked the ground and something solid crashed into Jack at head height. Clutching an auto rifle, he clenched both eyes shut. He momentarily saw stars and then darkness.

*                      *                      *

Even though most evenings were sticky in the Cliffeville desert heat, Rouge insisted she wore the dark camouflage uniform given by her friend the Freak. It still smelled of those revolutionary days he spoke of. A smell she came to embrace and totally not because it needed laundering. Out of waitress hours, Rouge was a soldier, in training. And here she stood within the horseshoe arrangement of trailers around the back of Denny’s diner, ready. Again.

“Check your stance Rouge,” the Warrior commanded from somewhere behind. She couldn’t see him and so her focus remained on the incoming target.

“Check.” She bent both her knees whilst twisting side on. Her head began to turn away when the Warrior ordered more words,

“Eyes on the target at all times.”

Her target being the Freak holding the remnants of a beaten armchair resembling a padded shield. He hesitantly moved her way.

“Strike, now,” the Warrior said.

Rouge side stepped twice before her legs tangled together. She stumbled and before gravity took full effect she managed to swipe out at the weathered padded shield come make shift punch bag. Her nails scratched at crumpled gaffer tape. Before her moving target or teacher spoke, she shot up.

“Again,” she said and waved the Freak forward.

“Stance.”

“Check.” She glanced at the Warrior for a flash and her target came crashing forward. She tried to lash out and clumsily wrestled the shield down. She angrily laid in a fist.

“I just can’t do it.”

“Yes you can. Belief comes from within the mind,” her guardian said.

“That’s coming from the mechanoid type,” Rouge sniped.

“My computer mind was created from the Warriors of old. It is that of a human or equivalent. Now come on. Again,” the Warrior ordered.

Rouge dropped her fists and they swung in frustration.

“I just can’t do this fighting stuff. I’m just no good.” She slumped down onto a nearby rock.

“I sincerely doubt a girl of prophecy would lack self-esteem,” the Freak said. He scooped up his make shift punchbag shield.

“Woman of prophecy. And what about flat-footed clumsiness?” she asked and dusted herself off.

“You’re trying too hard Anne-Marie. A fighter doesn’t have time to think, thinking comes from learning how to use your body as a weapon. Now try again,” the Warrior said.

“Perhaps think about those robots you took down back in the diner,” the Freak added.

“That was different. I could feel what they were going to do. I could see the future, in my head. That’s my true gift. Vision, not fighting,” Rouge said.

“Maybe your actual vision clouds that initial judgement. Hence, I have an idea. Turn around young lady,” the Freak instructed.

“Her mind is gifted for more than fighting yes,” he said and spun her around.

“Then we shall put that theory into direct practice.” The Freak took off his pot washers apron.

“What if you can sense without seeing.” He folded the fabric and made a blindfold for her wear.

“What? This is stup…”

“Let the robot help you Anne-Marie,” the Warrior said, and the greasy fabric covered her eyes.

“Now I will approach. But I won’t say when or where. Sense me,” the Freak said. He rushed away and took hold of his improvised punchbag.

The Warrior watched on. His red-haired student turned sharply and dropped into a defensive stance. Gently her feet moved across the hardened sand. Although her eyes saw only black, her vision opened from what seemed like a view from above. The Freak approached from the left, so she moved the opposite way. This gave the robot a false confidence that he hadn’t been detected. She knew exactly where he walked, she was the predator here.

Instantly she dropped and swung a leg around. It clipped something hard and next came a thud followed by a short groan.

“Robot down…”

Rouge stood up straight and pulled down the blindfold. She looked to see the Freak laying on his punchbag.

“Good. You must hone the basics first Rouge. Detecting an enemy is only a portion of combat,” the Warrior said.

“I’m not particularly sure how many bumps one has left like that,” the Freak said. Rouge moved in and pulled him up.

“You can only provide basic simulation. Eventually you will combat against me.” The Warrior moved in between them.

She looked up to his black balaclava covered head.

“But you are a Warrior. Am I supposed to fight Warriors?”

“No, but my speed will certainly train you to be superior over any robot you face.” He began to turn and then lunged back. With a clenched gloved hand, the Warrior drove it toward Rouge’s head. Without looking she held a firm forearm in defence. She blocked his wide arm instinctively.

“Your mind is gifted beyond anyone I have known. Even the Mavericks of old would envy you. I can see your senses already have reflexes for speed. Another lesson for another day.” His hand slowly opened.

Her much smaller hand fit inside it. She looked up to the near dark sky and exhaled.

“Until tomorrow,” she said and threw the blindfold apron back to the Freak.

“Every time you fall,” the Warrior added as she moved towards her trailer.

“Is an opportunity to learn a new way to pick yourself back up.” Rouge’s silhouette disappeared into the silver vessel she called home.

“An improvement tonight perhaps,” the Freak said.

“Yes. Every day she gets stronger and every day my concern grows. I dread the sun going down.” The Warrior looked up to an emerging full moon.

“There is always the option of relocation. Wasn’t this place always a temporary arrangement?” The Freak asked. He dropped down to the same rock Rouge had just sat on.

“She is settled here. For the first time her mind is one with her body.”

“Then the burden of worry falls on your shoulders for now Warrior. They called you Runner before, didn’t they?” The Freak asked.

For a split second the Warrior’s computer mind flashed back to a time long ago. He saw the world from a different view, a more vulnerable view. A time when there were others like him. His body looked different, it was smaller, before he became who he was now.

‘Watch over her’

The image of an infant girl flashed across his view.

‘Be her guardian’

“Many years ago,” he said.

“And I am certainly not Runner by nature. If they come for her again, I will fight them all.”

Rouge flopped back onto her unkempt bed. Isn’t that how all geniuses lived? she thought. A trail of fairy lights swayed above her, and cool conditioned air rattled from the unit nearby. She put a hand on the one prized item she owned, a tablet sketchpad.

“Not tonight,” she sighed. Sleep beckoned more than the urge of drawing.

Her finger tapped clear plastic and the device shone to life. After a couple of swipes the room became filled with floating projections.

The metal walls all around were filled with her various ‘display’ works. Artistic drawings of people caught in the moment in the diner. Truckers sipping coffee at late hours and even some of her as a young girl. Childhood always brought the same image of her holding the hand of a much larger being. Her guardian. In the distance another figure stood tall and hooded, watching. Anytime she thought of this stalker her mind would jolt. A warning shock not to seek any further. All she remembered were two dark hollow eyes staring down at her.

Don’t think about it, not now.

The absence of sedatives now meant Anne-Marie’s mind could grow. All the thoughts and memories of her nearly forgotten past were returning but in jumbled pieces. If it were a puzzle, the pieces wouldn’t fit just yet. They were still morphing and growing with her.

She would also draw other things that popped into her head. More recently a decorative star charred with black from the heat of flames or images of a brown and grey landscape. One picture showed the backs of small people looking up to something high. A solitary neon red strip glowed out of a murky land far away.

Like always sleep came swiftly for the tired robot fighter in training and deeper inside her gifted mind she went.

“Where am I?” She asked. Her voice echoed in the darkness.

A whispering came from all around.

‘Ryan is coming’

Behind her faint light cast across the trailer and out front she saw a haze of smoke, Denny’s diner. On the horizon came a faint glow, flames perhaps, she couldn’t tell. The ground she trudged on now seemed crunchy and frozen, a slight departure from the usual plains of Cliffeville. Still the diner remained ahead and a wide shadow closed in.

“F.G?”

“What is happening?” She called out to the wide robot. His grease covered cook’s clothes seemed to be drenched in something wet. A black ink. Or robot blood.

His vacant eyes stared through her just as the wave of terror set in. In the middle of F.G’s forehead she saw a bullet hole.

“No F.G!” she cried, and he flopped to the ground. The smoke was thicker now, and it closed in all around.

“Freak? Warrior? Where are you.” Rouge clawed emptily through the murk, her feet dragging across mud.

Another figure closed in.

“Are you Ryan?” she asked.

The approaching figure looked thinner as it came closer and looked a plain canvas white. She reached out to this all white washed being. It was as if a robot had been covered head to toe in this material, she looked at the head, a solitary crack ran down where the face would be.

“I know you, I, I remember you, from somewhere,” she said.

“He’s coming Rouge and there isn’t anything you can do. Don’t fight it,” the figure said.

“I don’t understand. Is this Ryan coming? Who is Ryan?” Rouge asked, and more smoke divided them. The figure was gone.

Just when she turned to face the trailer her feet buckled. The ground gave way and began to swallow her whole. Bright flashes raced overhead, reds and greens coursed by. Laser rounds.

Explosions and thudding closed in.

She took in a deep breath, it stung her chest. The air temperature dropped dramatically.

“Stand down solider! That is an order!” A booming voice said.

Rouge could only look up at dark clouds as another voice shouted. Something gave her a familiar comfort about this weird accent.

Her feet tried to adjust in what seemed like icy mud.

“Well I guess you better shoot me if you want me to stop.”

She smiled at the voice and it’s weird familiarity. Then the hole she stood in began to collapse. More of this familiar accented voice spoke,

“That’s a jet engine!”

A deafening roar echoed down to her and the ground violently shook.

“I want to wake up now!”

End of Part 9

Tune in Next week for another edition of Jack Thorn. Same Jack time, same Jack place… Remember if you enjoyed reading, tell a friend, leave a comment and share it around on social media…

Copyright 2004 – 2019 ‘Jack Thorn’ and ‘The Thorn Legacy’ Written By Lee Hall 2019 All rights reserved.  

 

Weekly Ramble #32

As an author do you want to know what’s worse than a one star review?

A one star rating with no review, words, explanation or even evidence said ‘reader’ has taken on your work. Not to mention the mindfu** it will give an author for a long time constituting to the round in circles question; why didn’t they like it?

One of my previous ramble post’s was half rant and half response to a one star review that had an actual explanation which I tried my best to debunk and move on from. This is different and it appears a particular book of mine keeps getting ‘pot shot’ with these random ratings (Open Evening) via Goodreads. In fact you can compare the reviews on Amazon (UK) to Goodreads to see the inconsistencies which just leaves me flapping my arms as to why?

I don’t want it to appear as if it’s getting to me, but it is, because we’re only human right? As authors we live and die by the currency that is reviews and as a reader if there was something I thought deserved a one star review I probably wouldn’t have finished reading it and then would have just moved on (and I have done that very recently). We’re all entitled to an opinion, that’s fine and I am not contesting that, what I am contesting is conduct towards writers. Leaving that one star might turn someone away from the craft forever.

Another huge factor is Open Evening like all my books was funded entirely by me including the sequel and the other book it is linked to Darke Blood; there is plans for further sequels but thoughts of that turn me away from it.

The question that remains in my head; Is Open Evening that bad? Does it justify someone swooping in to leave a one star rating and think nothing of the consequences? Maybe some like minded writer folks should swoop in and help an author in need…

 

 

 

 

Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 3, Part 2

“Over the top soldiers! What do you think this is a mothers meeting!” The voice of a commanding solider barked pulling Jack out of his trance. He faced the glare of Major Garcia.

“Major. Can’t you see fighting these things with just rifles is suicide?” He asked.

“Tell that to the second gunnery when you see them all in hell. Every day is an opportunity to earn victory soldier. Didn’t I teach you that last time…”

From behind the front lime came a piercing fire of auto rifle. Jack cowered back to see a much more senior soldier look down at them all.

“All of you move in to battle now. You heard the order, go! Or face my bullets. That is an order!”

Major Garcia gave Jack a defeated look and then began to climb the trench.

“This is damn suicide,” Jack said.

“Sometimes that’s all war is,” Garcia added and moved out onto the battle field. Jack gripped the nearest ladder and hauled himself up.

“On your six Jack…” Franco followed his best friend into damnation.

“Come on, we’ve gotta to draw those things away from the front line…” Jack commanded alongside Franco.

“And then what?”

“We’ll think about that when we get there.” Thorn added.

He and Franco charged into battle and caught up with the Major. She stumbled back at the moment a barrage of bright bullets lit up her path. The soldiers in front were blown into vapour. Jack tackled her into a nearby crater and down they went. He didn’t look back to see if his comrade had followed.

“What are you doing Thorn?” She asked giddily.

“Saving your ass Major. We can’t fight these things one on one. They are too damn big, and their guns are two damn lethal,” he said and pushed the Major down.

Just over their covering crater the Shiftmaster stood. The red neon strip panned horizontally toward movement. Then it began to raise a forked arm toward Thorn.

“Take cover,” he shouted.

THUD. THUD. THUD.

Everything drowned away to white noise. Smoke filled the crater and the next thing Jack saw was the face of his best friend along with Connolly and Nicks.

“…either die from friendly fire or in battle,” Connolly shouted with Jack’s hearing coming back.

“Now take this you walking stack of tin!” Connolly angled up and fired his auto rifle.

“What are we aiming at. The whole thing is just metal,” Franco joined him and they both dropped down when more fire came over head.

“The only weakness of that thing seems to be the computer in it’s head,” Nicks said. She unstrapped her ruck sack and offered Major Garcia a bandage for her cut arm.

“The head is wrapped up tight in armour,” Connolly shouted over more fire. He peered up toward the nearby threat. From across the battlefield came a roar of screams.

“Damn that’s brutal.” Connolly and Franco watched the other Shiftmaster step down into a crater presumably full of soldiers.

In all the time this happened Jack sat there working things out. They needed to draw the Shiftmaster away without getting killed. The computer sitting in its thirty-foot-high head had been lashed in armour.

“Blunt force. What about an explosion?” Jack asked. He looked to Nicks.

“How do we get an explosion up there?” She asked.

“You got any gren…”

“Great minds huh?” From her rucksack she offered him two ball shaped grenades.

“Pull the ring and wait til the right time? Then throw but maybe lose an arm?” Franco said taking a grenade.

It wouldn’t be that simple. Too many maybes, if’s and buts. They would need to guarantee the explosion happened at Shiftmaster head height.

“That’s great thinking of a plan and all but the threat is very much knocking on the door,” Connolly said.

“I got it,” Jack said. He took the two grenades.

“You got any string or rope?” He asked to Nicks. She rifled through the rucksack and pulled a reel of fuse wire.

“Fuse wire?”

“It will have to do,” Jack said. He reeled off a length and Nicks moved in to cut it with a knife. Then he got to work looping the wire around a grenade and then through the pull ring.

THUMP.

“It’s here!” Franco shouted and they all looked up to see the large metal foot.

“Get it to turn away,” Jack ordered and already Connolly was moving.

“Come on Franco. We’re bullet fodder,” he dragged Franco up and they fired whilst clambering out of their crater.

Pneumatic whining droned down to Thorn. He briefly looked up to see the Shiftmaster turn to follow Connolly and Franco. Then the huge gun-mounted arm did the same.

“Get down!” Nicks shouted. She then took the first wired grenade whilst Jack used the same length of wire to loop in the second grenade.

“Over here bitch face!” Franco shouted with a whining fear in his voice. He erratically turned and fired.

The booming response replied instantly. Connolly had already dived into another crater and Franco somehow evaded the threat.

“Woo!” He shouted.

“Okay it’s done,” Jack said perhaps a little too loudly.

The Shiftmaster began to turn back their way.

“Shit,” Nicks said taking a step back. They had nowhere to go. The huge arm began to swing their way.

“Hey. Over here!”

Jack and Nicks looked to Major Garcia. She had slipped away and stood in the complete opposite direction. The neon strip had already turned to her.

“Do it Thorn! Take it down!” Garcia barked.

Jack stumbled out onto the muddy battlefield armed only with two grenades tethered to each other by fuse wire. He took one deep breath and swung them once around his head. Then he released. In slow motion his make shift slingshot grenade mock up careened forward. Almost instantly it darted to head height of the metal giant and clanged around it’s wide head.

“Get down Garcia. No!” Franco shouted from his crater.

In slow motion Jack watched the grenades wrap around the wide head before pulling the fuse wire tight. The looped rings popped out.

THUD. THUD.THUD.

Bright large calibre bullets lit up the battlefield and coursed to Major Garcia. There were no craters for cover, and she stood in the line of fire.

“No!” Jack shouted and looked away. He closed both eyes for a moment and missed the booming roar from above.

A cheer of approval echoed from behind. The Shiftmasters head now resembled a smoking heap of metal and wires.

Jack had already broke into a sprint along with Nicks. They burst through bullet smoke and got to the Major. In the background came the sound of metal clanging to the ground. The Shiftmaster sunk along with Thorn’s heart as he dropped to Garcia.

“I guess, this is, how I would have, wanted it…” she said. Jack pulled her in close.

“Ah man. This is a mess,” Nicks said and had already got to work with trying to patch up the huge gaping holes flowing with red.

“Leave it, medic, you know, what comes next,” Garcia added with a deathly gurgle.

“Let her work Major,” Jack said. He saw her red stained teeth as she smiled.

“Stubborn, even in, the face of, death. Just like, Clark… yeah, I knew, your old man. I put in, that good work for ya, to the Sarge, also.”

“I know you did Major and thank you.” He knew this was it. She was going any second now and so he did the only thing he could, he took her hand.

“Don’t, you thank, me kid. This, deal, it’s your destiny. My advice…” The Major began to shake.

“Trust, your damn destiny kid.” And she took her final breath before both of her now watery eyes glazed over.

Another booming explosion roared from across the battlefield. Jack and Nicks looked to see the other Shiftmaster looming.

“We need to find cover,” Nicks said.

Jack gripped the body of Major Garcia and began to drag her back.

“What are you doing?” Nicks asked. Franco and Connolly passed her and helped Jack.

“I’m honouring the dead,” Jack barked.

The three of them hauled Major Garcia to their previous crater hiding spot.

“There are too many that will never get home. Even if they aren’t for this life anymore,” Jack said. They lowered her into cover.

“He’s right man,” Franco said and handed Jack his auto rifle.

“Take cover!” An incoming soldier roared. She led a small group to the crater just as the second Shiftmaster opened fire.

“How did you take the first one down?” She asked revealing a blood-soaked stomach.

“Let me take a look at that,” Nicks said and got to work.

“We need grenades,” Jack said to her.

“Thompson. You got any bangers left?” This commanding woman asked and winced as Nicks patched her up.

“Down to my last two,” a soldier called Thompson unclipped two grenades from his armour.

He handed them to Jack who already got to work with fuse wire.

“You want me to throw this time?” Franco asked.

“No. Just hold that thing back,” Jack said.

THUMP.

THUMP.

The second Shiftmaster stepped closer. They could all hear the hydraulic whine as it’s gun mounted forked arm began to move.

“Get down soldiers. Jesus we would have more room if this stiff wasn’t in the way,” the commanding woman said.

“This stiff was one of ours, so she stays,” Thorn said through gritted teeth. He finished looping the grenades and got ready.

“I’m gonna need some covering fire,” he ordered and shuffled back.

“That’s us Connolly.” This time Franco pulled Connolly out of the crater and soldier Thompson followed.

They side stepped whilst firing. Nicks dropped down and grabbed Jack’s rifle. With the woman she just patched up they began to fire

The Shiftmaster followed Franco’s group but the gun pointed towards the crater. Jack swung the grenades twice and released.

“This if for the Major!”

THUD.THUD. THUD.THUD. THUD

Mud and smoke kicked up all around them. Jack cowered back and went down with Nicks following. Everyone else in the crater laid low.

“Keep firing!” Connolly commanded from nearby, but it was too smoky to see.

Then came the popping explosion. Through smoke clouds Jack looked up to a brightness. Next, they all heard the clanging of metal falling to the mud. The huge arm mounted gun flopped beside the crater with a breeze that cleared the view.

Another cheering roar sounded all around. Jack stood in the midst of action, his mind shaken and body out of breath. They had downed the second Shiftmaster.

“Return to the line soldiers. Wounded are a priority!” The trench speaker system announced echoing out to them.

“Good work soldiers!” The commanding woman said and climbed out with others.

Jack stood reactionless looking at Major Garcia’s body.

“Come on. We can’t leave her here,” he said and with Nicks began to lift the body when both Connolly and Franco joined them.

Together they hoisted and carried the Major’s body out of the crater. Nearby soldiers looked on, some with puzzlement while others stood with defiance. That day they had all felt the true meaning of loss in conflict. Something which would unite them and create a bond only man and woman could find in fighting together. Major Garcia meant something to Thorn’s past and he would make sure her name was honoured.

End of Part 9

READ PART 10 HERE

Tune in Next week for another edition of Jack Thorn. Same Jack time, same Jack place… Remember if you enjoyed reading, tell a friend, leave a comment and share it around on social media…

Copyright 2004 – 2019 ‘Jack Thorn’ and ‘The Thorn Legacy’ Written By Lee Hall 2019 All rights reserved.  

Indie Book Sequels: Are they worth it?

The title of this post presents itself as a question I have tried to find an answer to from experience. There are still many pros and cons to it floating around in my head; so in my divine wisdom I have decided to explore this question via a blog post and because my experience from releasing an indie book sequel wasn’t the best…

Background

When I write a story my mind is forever in expansion mode. I am always looking for an opportunity to tell a back story or plant something for later on; this even goes as far as planting stuff for books later on in a series. This may sound visionary and I suppose it is BUT it’s also a curse because while I’m standing over in book three, people haven’t even picked up book one yet! – that’s not a unique problem in indie publishing, our biggest challenge is product distribution…

I very much enjoy the thinking ‘fourth dimensionally’ writing style in fact there isn’t a better satisfaction in writing than seeing a long term plan pull together and that’s what I like to do. But to evolve or even edit the title of this post let me ask this:

Are indies just better off writing stand alone stories? 

Beginners luck

copy-of-cover

I present the question above with an intention to answer it with logic as opposed to experience because if we look at it on simple terms, and this doesn’t just extend to indies but books in general, who is going to buy book 3 of a series if nobody really read or knows about 1 and 2…

My writing faced that answer very early on and in 2016 I was set to release my first book ‘Open Evening’ which is now part of the wider ‘Order of the Following’ series (this is the first time I have named that series publicly, consider it an exclusive, thank me in the comments). Due to my writing style the latter stages of Open Evening was set up and left open (no pun intended) so that a sequel could be explored some time in the near future.

The expectation I had in selling this book wasn’t particularly high but it did relatively well and shifted a bunch of paperbacks, did the rounds on social media and in all left me felling pretty darn good. There wasn’t any profits but I had made my official arrival as an author known.

Move on to the next one

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After finishing a book; the best thing an author can do, if they really are an author is to move on and write something else. Enter my vampire caper ‘Darke Blood’ which before Open Evening found it’s final edit became linked to this book by way of some (clever) back story.

So to put this into context, these books are separate but sit in the same universe; so it’s Iron Man and Captain America. If you read both you will see where they are linked, it’s fairly obvious.

Listen to the heart

Unfortunately this is where my thinking fourth dimensionally curse struck. I really wanted to do an Open Evening sequel, there was more story to tell and explain, there was even opportunity to link back to Darke Blood. So I did it, and ‘Cemetery House’ was born.

I knew from the offset that my readership would in fact be very limited, but I did that thing where the urge to tell a story took over everything else, and now I still don’t regret that decision.

It kicked my ass

By the time I had finally got ‘Cemetery House’ released in late October of last year (2018) I was facing being ‘done’ with writing, possibly forever. It hit me that hard. Not the writing process, not the editing process, or even Amazon being fail because their stupid KDP software didn’t like the format of the book for ages so didn’t accept it. All of it hit me hard, to a point where I pretty much faced a level of depression I have never seen or experienced ever.

This sequel ended up being a bad day that just got worse. And so then came the icing of the three tiered cake of shit; pretty much nobody bought the damn thing…

cem house

Facing reality

There are a huge amount of factors as to why ‘Cemetery House’ went the way it did. Mostly because I put my expectation on a pedestal and didn’t accept reality where Open Evening had only been out 2 years when the sequel arrived. My following was nowhere near the amount I have now. The promotional efforts, well they were okay actually but without the following, well there’s the problem.

It hurt. Big time, and I probably did it to myself more than anything. 2018 was a huge year for me. I released The Teleporter half a year previous to ‘CH’ and only now is it getting any type of traction.

This stuff takes time. It takes thought and above all it takes a suit of armour to protect yourself sometimes from yourself. Most of this stuff is on your head. I have always said as an author success is in the eye of the beholder.

But the beauty of this is simple, I can happily talk about it and accept it for what it is. I have 4 books published. I did that in 2 years. Cemetery House has 0 reviews and not a lot of sales but it stands shoulder to shoulder with 3 other books that make up the 4. And they are mine

The drive home

Screenshot_2019-05-09-12-49-58

There was an album I listened to religiously while creating ‘Cemetery House’. In fact its by one of my favorite bands. For near enough half a year after publication of that book I couldn’t face listening to any of those great songs. That was until last night, when I took in the whole album at level 18 volume.

The conclusion I have is simple. If you have more story to tell and your heart is telling you to write it, then write it. We do this because above all it makes us feel something in this rather cold world. We’ve all had bad reviews and good reviews. Sales and no sales. Just do what you wanna do to feel happy in writing and fu** everything else.

Thanks for reading my story about my stories and a little insight to how I got here. It means a bunch to have your support, have you got any sequel gripes? Let me know in the comments. 

dfw-lh-3dx2

Black Sunrise by Christina Engela – Review

A fun and enjoyable quirky multi-character story that carries an important message…

Quantum Series #1 - Black Sunrise 2019 - front

Black Sunrise is about a lot of different things and the author has done a great job of linking them all together by way of a story that is not only funny, it’s also strange in a good way and carries a positive message. The diverse array of characters range from a bounty hunter to a talking plant called ‘Fred’ who in some senses stole the show considering this ‘Arborian’ seemed to be more of a secondary character.

Set mostly on the planet of Deanna; this holiday destination see’s the arrival of an alien spaceship helmed by the ‘Ruminarii’ a race of hostile lizard type aliens looking to send a message. Along the way we see the story from many different points of view; including these aliens who (spoiler alert) fail in a sense to send said message.

Cindy Mei Winter; a former government agent is trying to put the past behind her and provides the important message this story carries. What first appears as a suggested undertone comes center stage in the latter part of the story as Cindy is revealed to be transgender; something that is portrayed in a positive and modern way. In fact there are two transgender characters in this story. This message extends to many of the other characters who are all different in their own way questioning the concept of what an alien really is. 

Overall I found this story enjoyable with a positive message that puts the ‘conscience over paycheck’ concept into practice. There are some parts I found to be genuinely funny while in other moments it was thought provoking.

Seeing as this book is a part of the wider ‘Quantum’ series I will be sure to check out the others.

5 Stars 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indie April Book Review Wrap Up

Indie April so happened to be my most successful month as an author, book reviewer and blogger. Although I love to just talk about me, the world is a better place when I share the spotlight so during April I also found time to support fellow indie authors by reading and reviewing their stuff. Here’s a rundown of my Indie April reads…

within dark places

First up came probably what is the most scared and on edge I have been whilst reading for well, ever and I am proud to say ‘Within the Dark Places’ by Duncan Thompson happened to be a great and terrifying read.

This shorter novel as quoted from my review ‘follows a small group who decide to spend their weekend in a woods with chilling results. From the very beginning there’s a stack of mystery and intrigue as to what exactly is lurking in the shadows which starts to play on the readers imagination more than anything; something which is text book horror and also very effective in a book like this.’ 

If you are looking for a good text book horror scare then I highly recommend this one and the great news is, there’s a sequel, but more on that further down…

‘Original page turning action with a powerful voice that speaks of prophecy, coming of age and warriors’ is how I described my next read Daughter of Kali: Awakening by Shiulie Ghosh.

kali

This young adult action tale is indeed a journey down the rabbit hole of an original premise that follows the ‘chosen one trope’ of one girl who discovers there is a huge world out there full of demons and warriors who fight them. I very much enjoyed this story and even more so for the linkage to the Hindu faith which intertwines ancient religion and mythology with the modern day; something I haven’t seen before. The good news is this story is a part of a wider trilogy with the sequel that has just dropped!

The author has also recently released some new cover art work which I am happy to share here and of course on my original review.

Indie April became the month of sequels for me as I decided to take on more chills and dark hidesedge of the seat thrills by delving into ‘Where the Darkness Hides’ by Duncan Thompson, a sequel to Within the Dark Places; and although the story did kind of end it cleverly opens up again in the very early stages of what is ‘A sequel and continuation into the shadows’; as quoted from my review

This one is more of a slower build and full of tension leading towards what we know is going to happen. It goes to places that are unexpected and isn’t just a re run of the first story; something which is important for sequels. Overall I enjoyed what is a great companion to a terrifying but highly readable pair of stories.

 

And so sequels became the theme of my April reads as I took on ‘Daughter of Kali: Unholy Alliance’ by Shiulie Ghosh. My decision to read and review the follow on story from Daughter of Kali: Awakening was quite simply a no brainer; firstly I was approached with a free copy by the author in exchange for a review and secondly I enjoyed the first, thirdly the story was still fresh in my mind, so I figured lets do this…

kali 2

With the world of Warriors and Demons already established that rabbit hole I previously mentioned opens wider into a great continuation. Much of what is suggested first time round comes to light, with new characters and new challenges for the main character with feisty but likable traits. ‘Kaz’ must continue her journey into this world and as she so powerfully says “I’m not a kid anymore. I’m a Warrior now…”

It’s just as good as the first and seeing as this is a trilogy series it didnt suffer from middle story syndrome in anyway. You can read my full review here

 

And so that wraps up my reading and reviewing efforts for April; a busy month for me as a writer, blogger and life in general. Thanks to everyone for the support and a tip of the cap to all of those who follow and actively go out of their way to make this blog a success!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endgame Review

Last night I had the pleasure of spending an evening in the company of what is probably one of the most stacked casts in cinema, of course I am referring to Avengers: Endgame.

Of course I enjoy a good comic book caper but I consider myself a casual Marvel fan but I will also admit like Iron Man I show up for the big ones.

This won’t be a concise review but more of a love letter of sorts to the culmination of 10 years work for what has turned out to be an incredible universe and this film is part 2 of a great capping of said world.

The story opens as the last Avengers closed, we finally see absentee Hawkeye who is drawn into the wrath of purple Homer… I mean Thanos. Those who didnt turn to dust must work together and convince Tony Stark to come back yet again and fight.

What ensues is a different sort of film. More of a journey into other genres as opposed to aliens taking over a city and battling for the free world. This film takes a new route and refreshingly does not feel like an Avengers film and although long it wont feel that way.

The mainstays of this assembly of heroes take centre stage such as Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man. This is their journey and they carry it with such finesse but because this is such a wide universe compliments go to Ant Man, Racoon, Captain Marvel et all. Their objective turns into delving back in time to get the infinity stones and changing the course of time.

As I said this isnt just a hero film but a time travel caper that maybe the crowning piece to an incredible series. The best Marvel movie? A resounding yes! Its emotional in many places, many of the RIGHT places and takes the audience on one hell of a ride and culmination.

Full salute to the Avengers!

5 Stars