4 Great Reasons why you should read indie books!

March has been another great month for this blog, the views and numbers are the best ever.  My secret to that success is simple, Indie Book Reviews! And epic loyal followers like yourself.

Here’s the rundown of what I read and reviewed in the past month!

peter

Drake Peters; One Minute to Midnight by Kingsley Benjamin is a young adult sci fi story set in the near future and see’s the title character delve into the world of a secret academy that leads to a wider universe of aliens and powers of the mind.

I found this book to be very addictive and readable with the pages literally turning themselves. The flow breaks the usual mold of YA stories as quoted in my review  “Its very common for YA stories to spend too much time within the head and mind of a main character; ironically that doesn’t happen in this book and that is one of the many concepts that makes the story of Drake Peters accessible and full of pace which has the reader turning pages.”  

There were several nods to many stories I enjoy such as ‘Men in Black’, ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘X men’ making this book a must read!

Next up I read a book which sits in what might be my favorite genre of horror; exploration of an abandoned asylums…

51

‘Building 51’ by Jenifer L. Place is a horror/historical fiction story with plenty of background information about an asylum located in the US (yes this place actually exists!). A group of friends decide to make an excursion to the place and come to realize something else is lurking in the dilapidated grounds and buildings.

‘Fusing elements of real history and the paranormal make this story and the characters in it feel like something is lurking and watching them. Something is and this gradually becomes apparent manifesting itself in a range of unique and creepy ways.’

We’ve all seen the films about abandoned hospitals but ‘Building 51’ is by far the most effective for the genre.

The third indie title I picked up in March was a unique young adult fantasy story with multiple lead characters. 

blue rabbit

Looking back at the time I spent reading ‘Blue Rabbit’ by Jimena Novaro, I must say I really really enjoyed this book. For anyone who is looking to write a multi character story would learn a lot from it.

I said in my review ‘the strength of this story comes from the multitude of great characters that help tell it’ but I would also add the imagination of such a story is a huge thing that made this book so great. There were many original concepts that culminate to a great final act along with characters that develop throughout the length of the story.

A lot of fantasy can be overwhelming but ‘Blue Rabbit’ serves as a great representation for the genre.

The 4th and final title I read this month was ‘Seeker: A story in the ChaosNova universe’ by David Noe and Laura Loolaid.

seeker

I’ve never read a co-authored story and don’t let that put you off because this book is a credit to the sci-fi space travel genre.

The story is a journey for ‘Jewel’ the main character and bounty hunter who takes on a contract of great interest. What follows is a tale of deception, the unexpected and overall drama for our hero as she looks for the truth.

Shorter books don’t get enough credit, something which I have said before and its true, this book is well worth the investment. Like I said in my recent review, for anyone who liked TV cult classic ‘Firefly’ will want to take a look at this one.

And so that wraps up another month of indie reads.

All of my reviews feature on this blog and also get posted on Goodreads and Amazon. 

So the question is folks, are you an indie author? Are you looking for a review? Reach out and let’s get this ball rolling, I am always looking to add more titles to my TBR list. 

Remember above all, support indie authors! Leave a review and help them tell the world their work exists!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeker: A story in ChaosNova universe by David Noe and Laura Loolaid – Review

Page turning sci-fi with plenty of drama, deception and the unexpected…

seeker.PNG

‘Seeker’ is a story and journey of discovery set in a wide futuristic universe of space travel.

‘Jewel’ the M.C is a bounty hunter or ‘Seeker’ and her latest ‘contract’ sends her on a journey that becomes a little close to home. What follows is a story full of intrigue, tension and twists that takes the reader on an eventful ride for ‘Jewel’ who makes for a strong and independent protagonist looking for answers; something which readers will immediately align with.

The ChaosNova universe is delivered and described in a readable and enjoyable style making this story accessible and appealing for all readers; something which is hard to grasp in the world of science fiction. The co-authorship of this book works tremendously well in representing the genre and could even be comparable to cult TV show ‘Firefly’ in its approach. Shorter books don’t get anywhere near enough credit and this one deserves high praise for its detail and world building.

I particularly enjoyed the way combat was masterfully described in a particular scene; something I would very much like to see more of in this universe along with ‘Jewel’.

Overall ‘Seeker’ is a story that represents the main character’s journey in learning about herself and her history along with a valuable moral about family. I am looking forward to reading more from the ChaosNova universe; a concept where the creators have put in a lot of work and it shows.

4 Stars   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 1, Part 3

Jack eased himself onto a wooden bench and sat back. Green grass surrounded him with a line of flowers following the nearby path that snaked away from the scene. Birds were chirping and the trees rustled gently as a warm breeze blew. He unzipped his army tracksuit jacket and at that moment a beam of light broke out from the clouds above.

“Could be worse,” he said. Even the smell of summer filled his nostrils.

“Hey, new boy!”

He could see a little further along the path whilst a figure approached. At first she seemed a blur until coming closer. Blonde hair flowed down over the shoulders of a white lab coat she wore. Her face smiled towards him.

“Katie,” he said and slowly stood. She crashed into him and wrapped both arms around his shoulders.

Just when the warm familiarity consumed them both, their whole world flashed. Alarms blazed and sirens rung.

“No full body contact! No full body contact! Disperse now! Disperse now!” A computerised voice commanded on repeat. That was until they separated.

“Ah, I guess it’s prison rules for us,” Jack said, “of the non-conjugal persuasion,” he added looking up and all around before moving to the bench.

“We can still hold hands,” Katie said and interlocked her fingers with his. Both of their images flickered momentarily and there they sat in this near perfect backdrop.

“How’s life?” He asked while briefly finding her blue eyes.

“Probably better than the rock you’re on,” she said.

“And the two dependents?” He asked.

“Growing up without their Dad, quickly.”

Those two ‘dependents’ were the only thing Jack Thorn had any pride for in life. His marriage stood at joint top although he didn’t boast about his private affairs to anyone, it was a sort of protectiveness. Thorn hardly showed affection to anyone unless he knew them quite well and even then he still had to like them, but around Katie, he let his guard down.

“So how’s my war hero?” She rested her head on his shoulder and removed contact just before the alarms sounded again.

“I’m hardly a hero. I just helped out a little and got awarded a star of honor. The wage doesn’t change.”

The couple had done well considering both of them were once outcast kids of a private academy. She played the goth type once upon a time, he was the fish out of water scholarship kid. They were a match made in heaven from the very beginning. Even after she lost the piercings and spiky black hair. Their rebel drop out phase came and went, now they were adults. Then came the war.

“Well about that. Things have been rough back at home, especially with the move and all…”

“Move? What happened?”

“You haven’t heard the news?” Katie swivelled and faced him.

“We don’t get much news out on this rock.”

“The government, they shut down every department in Cliffeville. The whole state is cut off. The western divide has fallen. We had to leave it wasn’t safe,” Katie explained.

“Where did you take the kids?”

Kate leant forward and hesitated momentarily,

“Look Jack, you know this is hard. You’re away from home and I’m working full time with a seven and a four-year-old,” she said.

“Katie, what is it?” He took her hand.

“It’s your Father.”

He immediately turned away in defence, but Katie kept her grip on his hand.

“He reached out to me. He offered us all a room at his place. We’ve moved in with him okay? He was so helpful and nice…”

Jack pulled his hand from her. He then fully turned away. There was a history. A history of no contact for many years.

“Yeah that’s how he starts. Look I have no time for the guy but as long as you, Shane and Kristie are fine, that’s all that matters,” he said and faced her again with a hand held out.

“He is a good man Jack. After all, if it wasn’t for him you wouldn’t be here.”

“If you say so. We’ve never seen eye to eye, and we haven spoke in literally years. How is he with the kids?”

“He’s fine Jack, please don’t worry okay. Just worry about getting home. And I‘ve got a job in the city. Daytime clinic hours at the Grace hospital. Maybe when you get home, we could think about moving there full time…”

The surrounding area began to slowly darken and flicker.

“Attention, credit is running low, credit is running low. Please transfer funds into your account,” the loud announcing voice said.

“That’ll be the complimentary army credit. Look Katie I got to go. I’ve got some meeting with a Sergeant.”

“Jack?” She took his other hand and looked him in the eyes. That was when her image began to flicker.

“I love you and I miss you. Come home safe, please…” Katie’s image disappeared just as Jack lowered his head and muttered

“I love you, too…”

From out of the darkness came blinding light of pure artificial white. Jack lifted a hand and waved it in front of him. Nothing. He patted his head and slowly removed the V.R. helmet. There he lay on a narrow bed with each of his limbs connected to various wiring by oversized clear plastic boots and gloves.

Surrounding him were several other beds, some with soldiers in, others without. He sat up and got out of the gloves and boots, then he pulled himself out of the bucket style vessel and made his way past the several V.R. beds. Near enough every wall surface was plastered with the logo ‘Pluto’ and slogans like ‘Pluto sponsors the Troops’. This was a corporate war after all, even his army tracksuit had corporate tags.

 

Jeremy Jones hadn’t felt this nervous for years. He stood in front of an empty classroom. The individual desks filled with nothing but air and the only sound came from the constant hum of electricity probably from the various sponsor type posters projected onto the walls. He looked at the nearest slogan, ‘Pluto is in every business, even the war business…’.

“This war is just a damn commercial,” he muttered and perched his large frame against the front desk.

Where was this kid he was supposed to be meeting? He was due five minutes ago, Jones didn’t like bad punctuality; if you say you’re gonna be somewhere then be there. Regardless of who you were.

“Where is this damn kid?” He muttered and turned to face a large screen.

From the back came the sliding sound of double doors opening.

“Sorry I’m late Sarge, I had to call home to my wife sir,” Jack said with that army assertiveness as he stood to attention.

“No need for the ceremony kid. I lost my rank a long time ago,” Jones said.

“All for a good cause mind.” He smiled and turned.

Jack was smaller than Jones expected although Jones stood taller than most people with his wide shoulders and now slight gut.

“You must be Jack Thorn. The name’s Jones, if you want you can call me Sarge,” he added.

“So you’re not a Sergeant officially but, people call you it anyway?”

“It’s a long story son, but I have heard reports of what you did out there on the battlefield,” Jones said as Jack readied to mount a defence.

“Yeah, I guessed that’s why you were here. If you want me to admit it was risky and dangerous then…”

“No, no. The reports I have heard are only good. In fact, not only did you make an Army of Earth Major’s battle report but a Secret Earth Services Mercenary-General’s report. They were right to reward you with that star of honor. I’m sure with enough time on the battlefield you’ll earn more, but I’m not here to talk about a corporately sponsored war.”

Jack kept a curious focus on Jones,

“Then why are you here?”

As much as Jones wanted to mention what he knew Jack to be. He left the prophecy and destiny talk for now.

“If I said the words ‘World Force’ would they mean anything to you?” He asked as Jack shook his head vacantly.

“He mustn’t have mentioned anything,” Jones said to himself but out loud.

“What about robot crime?” He asked.

“I know my father had something to do with robot crime when he worked in the Police Force. Then he became a lecturer for a while.”

“That’s correct Jack. In the past, myself and some others put together the first robot crime fighting force in the world. We originally worked out of the New York Police Force and separated soon after. We were called the World Force. For some years, we made the city a much safer place, especially in times where human crime was all but zero.”

“What has this got to do with me? I’m just a soldier,” Jack said.

“But you aren’t Thorn. Those battle reports describe you as single-handedly taking on robots with a combat expertise never ever seen on the battle field. I want to use your skills in reforming the World Force. The robot crime problem has never gone away even with the recent rebellion. I want you to come to the Secret Earth Services just for a no strings attached try-out of sorts. If the reports are true, then you will make the ultimate robot fighter.”

“I don’t know Sarge. I’ve still got a war to fight here on X43 and then I plan on getting home to my family.”

“The endless battle on this rock can wait. There won’t be a job in the army after this war for you but there will be in robot crime. Think about it Thorn, this is in your blood. I knew your father and your mother, they were both fine robot crime fighters, this is what you are destined to do son,” Jones said without realizing he was clenching both of his fists in passion.

“You knew my mother? Do you know what happened to her? I never got an answer from my father, but it looked like a robot killed her. What happened Sarge?” Jack looked to Jones with a firm stare. It was in those eyes Jones saw a fire and motivation to find answers.

“You will find answers if you choose to join me Thorn.”

“Sign me up,” Jack said.

The one thing Jack Thorn never understood was the past. Although he’d always been destined to fight robots, his personal purpose to find the truth drove him. And at that moment the first flame towards an eventual fire of destiny sparked to ignition.

Jack Thorn’s journey to being a maverick had just begun.

*                      *                      *

He’s coming.

From a very young age Anne-Marie learned to hide the torment of her inner mind and keep everything under the hood. People asked less questions when faced with a fake smile. She chose to scream on the inside and swallow down the fear of what sleeping had become. Insomnia used to work as a teen, but even she knew from the confines of a ‘secure hospital unit’ that if you wanted to retain your looks, you had to sleep.

Her alleged doctor even helped with that by hooking some ungodly device to her intravenous line. Every time she would wake, normally with a heavy breath and a fast beating heart, the machine would click in with a whoosh and administer another damned sedative. Asleep is what he needed her to be if they wanted ‘collate’ information about her ‘wonderfully gifted’ brain, that along with the head gear strapped to her which in hand was tethered to a computer. She really hated that doctor, with his white coat and silver hair. The typical older creep, normally with a syringe in one pocket and something condescending to say, even his name Dr Leecher sounded creepy.

Whether the doctors were helping passed her by, especially after years of confinement, white coats and experimental procedures. Anne-Marie had become quite the paranoid soul. Underneath all the sedatives and tormented sleep she knew one day her guardian would return and bust her out of there.

When the dreams fuelled by fire and lightning ended, a pure black stared back at her and that was when she chose to awaken. Slowly her eyes would open but she did not move a muscle or dare increase her breath intake. Any sign her body had found consciousness and that machine would kick in. Her eyes wandered around the plain dark room, they ached as they reached the extremity of right and left.

Something disturbed her and it wasn’t the dreams. An almost premonition kicked in, something was coming.

Directly in front stood the door with a pane of opaque glass. Weak light beamed through from the corridor. A shadow drifted by, the night orderly, or one of them anyway. Hopefully it wasn’t the handsy one, although being a patient of her caliber and the lack of dignity, it still never ever felt right to be groped in any way by someone perceived as trust worthy staff.

Again a shadow passed and then another, both were in a rush and their erratic voices spoke. Would this be the night where her guardian would finally ride in and sweep her away to safety?

“Call for security! Wait no…” A shadow violently crashed into the door with its mass filling the window. It slid downwards without struggle.

He’s here.

After more commotion the door handle got firmly gripped by a looming shadow. Anne-Marie watched with two wide eyes as this tall and wide mass entered the room.

“Warrior, is that you?” She asked breathlessly and so that machine wouldn’t inject her again.

The reply didn’t come straight away, and the mass seemed to stand there just watching. Then a voice spoke,

“Yes my dear. I have finally returned to you.” The square shouldered figure known as the Warrior spoke with a deep computerized style voice.

Her heart began to beat quicker and she was awake now. The machine began to whirr as it came to life.

“Please, the machine…” She weakly pointed to it in shadowy darkness. Her saviour had already got there.

A large hand moved to the intravenous line that fed into her hand. Although big and clunky looking this Warrior moved gently in disconnecting her. He moved to the headgear and carefully raised it from her blood red hair which flopped down.

She shuffled herself into the beam of light shining from the hallway. Her blue eyes and pale face stared up in wonder at this rescuer.

“I waited and waited. About time you got me out of here,” she said.

Two glove covered hands began to scoop her from the bed.

“It would be great for you to pick me up and whisk me away but I can manage,” she said and speedily jumped out of the bed. Her bare feet touching the shiny floor.

“Very well. We must move with haste.” They linked hands. One of flesh and the other of a being known as a Warrior. Just when she gripped firmly the room flashed red. Alarms began to ring.

“That’s the lockdown alarm!”

“Come on,” the Warrior shouted, and he led her to the door.

They stepped out just when the alarms muted but the flashing lights continued. Either side stood security guards, each of them with handguns outstretched. Behind the line of security were two orderlies, both looking worse for wear whilst standing beside a white coated older man, Doctor Leecher.

All of them cast their eyes upon the pair, one, a pale red headed woman in all white; the other a considerable figure in an all-black armoured type of wet suit. His shape resembled machine more than man.

“Please whoever you are. Whatever you are, that girl is very very important. You have no idea, she is vital to much of the research conducted here…” Doctor Leecher shouted and the Warrior interrupted.

“No human, you have no idea how important this girl is to the future of mankind. Stand down all of you!”

“It’s woman, not girl,” Anne-Marie said breaking the tense silence and raising a hand.

“Please Anne-Marie talk some sense into this, this prowler,” the doctor demanded.

“Actually it’s Rouge, and this prowler is a Warrior. ‘The Warrior’ and he is here to bust me out Leecher,” as the blood red haired Rouge finished talking the guards from either side moved in aggressively.

The Warrior scooped her into his large arms and spun.

“We are leaving,” he bellowed. She was cradled in large robotic arms that lay under the tight armouring. Her only safe place ever.

Guns fired into the back of this wide protector, his protective attire deflecting the bullets. He groaned in reaction and took her back into the dark room.

“Aim for the damn head of that thing!” The doctor demanded and the guns aimed up at the equally armoured balaclava of this Warrior.

“Go for the window,” Rouge shouted. She pointed towards a wide barred window.

He charged with her still in grasp and turned at the last minute. His bullet deflecting back crashing through bars and windows.The view Rouge had represented spectacular destruction. She felt the air of a clear evening and a bright moon shining down above. Her airwaves breathed in fresh oxygen and she could smell flowers and grass.

“You are okay?” The Warrior asked while holding her close. She nodded and his two thick legs sprang into action. She couldn’t help looking at the hole where the barred window previously stood.

“You took the whole wall out,” she said.

“A necessary act,” the Warrior added.

“What happens now?” She asked in that slightly condescending manner like her protector hadn’t thought of a plan.

“We run, like always.”

*                      *                      *

 “The revolution will come, and the freaks shall rise. We will reclaim the streets as our own and our master the Keeper shall return to lead us into revolution. It will be a hard battle and many of us will not see freedom. That we all know too well is the price for such a thing…”

From behind came the rusty metal on metal sound of the truck’s back window sliding open.

“Hey Freak. You talkin’ to yourself again?” The large robot known as F.G asked. So large in fact he couldn’t fit in the passenger section of the old beaten pick-up. His wide head offered to the much smaller opening looking to the driver.

“I was just re-living an old memory and envisioning another time. If only I knew what I know now, then,” said a robot known as the Freak with a deep sigh. His white balaclava covered head paired with large dark sunglasses matched the namesake well.

No longer did an audience stand out in front looking up to him but a darkened street instead.

“What memory was that?” F.G asked.

“Oh, of days gone and perhaps never to return. Days I found myself at the forefront of revolution, not of robots rising up, but of robots playing their part in the crime fighting efforts our kind have become known for. Working shoulder to shoulder with men and women of the World Robot defence force. Looking up to our ancestors known as Warriors. Bringing the fight to the First and spawning the Robots with Humans. I had a purpose back then, and now, what of now?” The Freak sighed.

“What about the days of anarchy?” FG asked.

“An empty reboot of a day even further from reach F.G. None of us apart from the one they now call Mimic actually wanted to partake. I long to find myself involved again with battles, even to be caught in the cross fire as a civilian would thirst a longing quench. On my chest of this uniform once read the letters ‘R.W.H’ now it is plain and without purpose.. Much like the once enigmatic Robots with Humans.”

“You mean quench a longing thirst?” F.G asked and momentarily checked his chest and the matching dark blue camouflage uniform. Much like the Freak’s his once was labelled.

“Precisely old friend. I just want something purposeful F.G. Waiting for this supposed lone Warrior to emerge is just another false promise,” the Freak said.

He looked right to see a fenced surrounded building drowned in shadows.

“Is this even the correct location?” he asked.

“This is the place. He’s been seen here hanging around.”

“And then what F.G? What do we say to this Warrior when he faces us?”

“That question is something I think you’re about to ask?” F.G said. His chunky finger pointed to a bright mass of light which burst from the building they were parked opposite.

A piercing alarm sounded, then came the crashing followed by echoing gun fire. Movement came from the grassy area between the building and a surrounding mesh fence.

“Something is indeed happening. Look a figure, is this a break out?” The Freak asked. He watched two shadows move out of the motion sensed lighting.

“There’s two of them,” F.G. said and moved across the flat bed of the truck.

 

Rouge felt momentary joy when her bare feet touched soft grass. Just when she was about to express her happiness there came another overwhelming feeling of exhaust. She watched the Warrior run ahead.

“I think I’m drunk…” She began to fall. The Warrior doubled back and scooped her up. From nearby they both heard the struggling of a starting motor.

“Guess you gonna have to carry me,” she added.

Voices and thumping footsteps came closed in. The Warrior frantically looked all around for a way out. The fence stood high and capped with reels of barbed wire.

“We, need to go,” Rouge drunkenly said and stared up the Warrior’s balaclava covered head.

“We need a way out,” he said.

It would only be moments until more armed guards arrived.

“How did you get in?” Rouge asked as a beam of light closed in from the nearby fence.

It shone brighter and brighter and came closer. A clunky engine struggled and then came the sound tyres mounting a kerb. Those same tyres screeched and the Warrior cowered away when the incoming light hit mesh fencing. It burst through with one try and skidded around on the grass to reveal itself as a truck.

“I must recommend! That you endeavour to join us in this vehicle,” the Freak shouted from the front. He shoved the vehicle into gear.

The Warrior stared at the large robot in the back and hesitated for a moment. Gun fire burst towards him, one stray bullet hit the truck.

“Quickly, if you please?”

“Here, hand the girl to me,” F.G. said whilst holding out both hands.

The Warrior gave an unconscious Rouge to the robot known as F.G. and hopped in to the back of the truck.

“And, accelerating.” The Freak footed the gas pedal and wheels spun on damp grass. Gunfire bounced off the rusty metal truck which found the road and sped off into the night.

 

End of Part 3

READ CHAPTER 2 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.  

Blue Rabbit by Jimena Novaro – Review

A unique young adult fantasy story with multiple characters…

blue rabbit

Blue Rabbit is an intriguing tale that follows a group of school friends who discover a gateway that leads to another world. As the story opens we learn that they have been visiting this place hidden in the Knoxville trees that seems like a forest but is a world totally different to their own full of creatures and immersive imagination by the author. A school kid called Mike follows this group one night and is seemingly captured by the creatures that reside in this other world and becomes a missing person. It’s up to the group of friends to find out where Mike was taken and look for a way of bringing him back, that is without knowing much about this other world.

The strength of this story comes from the multitude of great characters that help tell it. Five friends; Erika, Haley, Nathan, Sandra and Dorian all seem to take it in turn at the beginning stages to tell the story although Erika eventually breaks away from the group and becomes the lead somewhat with her assured confidence and even sarcastic style; something I enjoyed, even if she did come across as a being full of herself. And to begin with I wasn’t sure about any of the group, but over the course of the story they earned my affection, Sandra and Nathan’s chemistry over the course of the story added to the many dimensions of believable and relatable characters this story has. These five friends and their journey together and as individuals makes for some rewarding reading much like the book as a whole which is highly readable and immersive.

There are several original concepts that carry the story to a level that becomes quite epic in the latter stages with some action and real tension leading towards saving the day and world. Other characters such as ‘Riven’ and ‘Chloe’ really galvanized this story as a character led adventure with twists, turns and plenty of drama.

“I’m going to save the world. Who’s with me?”

4 Stars 

Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 1, Part 2

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

Jack began to sprint towards the smoke and into the unknown.

Run dammit

His boots trudged across the soft spongy terrain, closer and closer toward the unknown of a clearing mist. Should the extraction gas have cleared that quickly? There were a thousand tension filled questions going around his head as he moved higher and higher up the hill. He briefly halted to adjust the clunky pack full of explosives and make good of the grip he had of the auto rifle. How many rounds had he left? Were there enough to take any straggling robots down?

Think later.

“Ok Thorn, the gas should have disabled most of the robot rebels in the area,” Jefferson said in his ear.

“You fill me with confidence Jefferson.”

“When you reach the target, you will see plenty of rocks surrounding. A perfect place for any stragglers to hide.”

“I take it you’re not in sales Jefferson, but I see it. Five big ass trucks with even bigger ass guns pointed our way. No wonder our dropship got taken out by these bastards,” Jack said. He began the downhill decent.

A sweat began to emerge from under his battle helmet the moment he looked out to the grey sleeping guns. The truck’s mammoth wheels were stationary in the mud along with masses of blue uniforms laid out, completely still.

“I’ve got company,” he said. Jack’s eyes tensely scanned right and left. Nothing but rocks around.

“Any movement with that company?”

“Not yet. I’m heading to the first target.”

He moved with an anxious silence towards the first larger than life vehicle. After placing the rucksack down he pulled out an explosive charge. With a gentle twist the red light glowed to life.

“First charge armed. Do I place this thing anywhere near the gun or what?”

“Close enough to take it down Thorn.”

“Okay Captain vague.”

Jack looked up at the large cannon and tossed the charge. It spun in the air before disappearing into the mouth of the wide barrel. Metal clanged all the way down inside echoing louder in the tense silence. The robots were still laid out, so he hadn’t disturbed anything, yet.

“Moving to second target.”

He grasped the rucksack and faced the next placement.

The gun was aimed vertically so getting the charge inside would be a near impossible task. A nearby ammunition crate would have to do. Jack twisted the charge and glanced up to see the barrel of a handgun. Connected to it was a female robot, sat against another crate, her glassy artificial eyes were open, and they blinked.

After a flash, somehow Jack swerved out the way and behind cover.

“What’s happening Thorn? We heard gunfire,” Jefferson asked in his ear.

“Company,” Jack said.

Dragging footsteps came his way.

He dropped the rucksack and aimed his auto rifle forward.

“Behind you,” a voice whispered.

Before Thorn could react, he was smacked over the back of the head. He stumbled out into the open. There were two robots now and they both moved closer. The situation looked to dissolve when the woman robot began to move her handgun up towards Jack’s head. Another much taller robot closed in with two arms spread wide.

Again time slowed and Jack dropped to the floor. The handgun aimed his way fired multiple times. In between those lightning quick shots, Jack lunged up and drove his rifle into the tall enemy, he then grabbed and pulled. Using the robot to shield the line of fire he charged.

The shooter screwed her face in disgust and Jack threw the lifeless shield of a robot down, he skilfully turned with the auto rifle aimed up. His index finger squeezed trigger and the auto rifle he held blew out the woman robot’s head. Black sprayed across the artillery vehicle and she fell to the soggy ground.

“What’s happening Thorn?”

“Nothing, just placing the second charge,” Thorn said. He dropped the explosive charge next to the woman.

“Time is of the essence now Thorn. More robots will begin to stir,” Jefferson said.

“Well you guys could have just called in an airstrike instead of having me play the hero,” Thorn protested.

“You know it doesn’t work that way Thorn. Airstrike’s don’t guarantee,” the stern voice of Garcia said.

Jack reached the third target. He stepped up to the driver’s cab door and opened it. He sat the charge comfortably in the lap of the lifeless driver.

“Third one down. Two to go.”

He stepped out in between the trucks and scanned the area to his left. A drop of sweat fell from his eyebrow and something seemed to move in the background. Above a line of sandbags stood another robot with a scoped rifle aimed forward.

“Shit.”

“Yeah that…”

A loud cracking echoed between the two vehicles. Jack dropped and flinched in expectation of the worse.

In his ear came the voice of Steve Franco, “as I said I can’t always follow you into all types of shit, but I can get you out of the shit. Got your back man.”

“Glad someone has.” Jack said realising his best friend had taken out the threat and so he placed the next charge.

He moved to the final placement just when the sea of robot bodies on the ground began to stir. Quite soon they would come to life.

“Ah hell no,” Jack said. He pulled out the final charge and armed it. The empty bag dropped, and he threw the charge towards his target landing short of the vehicle’s bumper.

“I’m calling it. That’s the final charge and I’m out,” Jack shouted. He span to run just when a grip took hold of his leg. Down he went with a half groggy robot pulling and climbing all over him. He tried to pull the auto rifle up and aim but it got tangled.

“Thorn, you need to move…”

“I’m trying…” He rolled over still with the robot clung to both legs. The grip squeezed tighter and tighter. Again, he tried to aim the rifle which wouldn’t budge from under his own leg armour.

“Human, scum…”

In one final yank Jack pulled the gun free and used one arm to aim straight into the face of his tormentor. He looked away at the last moment and pulled the trigger. Black liquid exploded all around and the robot’s death grip loosened.

He glanced up towards the hill and untangled himself while getting to both feet. Now he was running. Franco and Connolly came into view. They both took aim to his alarm. The top of the hill seemed further and further away but on bwards he trudged. His fellow soldiers both fired until a barrage of enemy bullets replied. Thorn’s legs burned not only from the up and down of hills but because of the tension.

Connolly and then Franco cowered away when Jack near enough reached the top. A booming rush of heat knocked him forward and off his feet. He glided over the top of the hill to see thick smoke rising nearby.

Was that it?

He rolled and in turn stumbled up to see a wide array of robots very much awake and charging his way. The artillery still stood as Thorn realised one of the robots held a smoking rocket launcher type weapon. Another of those and he would be gone.

“Detonate the damn charges now!” He shouted over the ringing in both ears.

Just when he flopped back to the mud a thundering and burning vibration blew outwards. The huge shock wave launched him back and the hill collapsed into a crater. Jack became enveloped in the deathly impact but he kept rolling along soft spongy mud away from harm, somehow. For a brief time smoke and dust took away all light.

After the initial thickness of dust passed, Thorn gently raised his head out of the mud and glanced back to see a huge cloud steadily settling. Judging by the size and force of it, nothing would survive such a blast not even the gun placements. He dropped his head down again.

Further back his adopted regiment audience looked up in awe. The thick smoky cloud filled their view. Jack could only look at the brown ground and try to gather himself.

“Not bad soldier!” Connolly shouted. He closed in with Franco as Thorn’s hearing returned.

“Go me,” he said half-heartedly and got up to his knees.

Franco gripped his arm and helped him to and that was when a gust of powerful wind hit them. The whoosh of jet engines accompanied bright lights which appeared from the clouds. Numerous aircraft were landing nearby.

“That says S.E.S on the side of that dropship, what’s going on man? I thought this was an Army of Earth war?” Franco asked loudly. Wind blew at them from the nearby arrivals.

“Guess they called in the big guns,” Jack said.

They all watched the first dropship open.

“Looks like S.E.S mercs’, these guys don’t mess around,” Connolly growled over the engines.

“Do we salute or what?” Jack asked. He watched the first figure stepping onto the ground.

The mercenary quick marched towards them. Dressed in pristine airtight bio-suit armour, the darkened visor helmet of this ‘merc’ stared at them. His stern voice came from the suits audio output.

“I understand you three were involved in that situation over the hill?” He asked and then waved over another mercenary.

“It was mainly him, sir,” Franco said.

Jack stepped up and readied to argue with somebody way more senior than him. He could see the decoration of honours and six stars that stretched across this ‘merc’s’ chest.

“Good work son.” He extended a gloved hand. For a moment Jack stared at it and then gripped it with a shake.

“The Secret Earth Services acknowledges the contribution you have made towards the war effort here on planet X43. Lieutenant? See that these three soldiers are presented with a gold star of honour for their efforts. Soldiers, may the war bring you glory and fortune.”

The senior figure brought a fist to his own chest before moving forward. In his place stood the lieutenant with stars ready to pin.

Jack lifted his chest shroud and the other two followed.

“The Secret Earth Services honours your contribution,” the lieutenant repeated to each of them and then saluted.

“What happens now?” Connolly asked. They watched as their award giver headed away. More and more of them began to emerge from dropships.

“Looks like they are finally taking this war seriously,” Major Garcia said and approached the three.

“And looks like you made an impression Thorn. That’s a name I used to know very well. Perhaps I’ll tell you a story about that someday. Consider yourselves officially recruited by the Army of Earth’s second gunnery division.” The Major said with a firm nod and a salute to her three new recruits.

*                      *                      *

In the expansive basement turned command centre for the robot rebellion stood their leader simply known as the First. Where that namesake originated is a legend itself shrouded by mystery. Some whispered that his name spawned from a time all the way back to the very first robot produced. Others debated he had just been the first to rise and lead his kind to revolt. Some even say his story is much simpler. That being one of a robot aligned with helping humanity and then that same humanity burning him into choosing rebellion. Years had passed since the last robot left a production line, so the story could be whatever he told. The First leant into those legends and used the mystery of it to rule with fear.

This brought him all the way to his army’s current stronghold of the commandeered science installation. The then sole occupying building of planet X43, until he led an uprising right to its front doors. The people living here didn’t stand a chance against the battle-ready hardened fighters.

Many of his comrades had to be rebooted or even modified due to the circumstances in which forced them to rebel. They carried a rag tag tribal look, even if the plain dark uniform gave an impression of order; faces and eyes that have seen a war torn past never lie. That included their leader. The First dressed in all black with an admiral style leather jacket buttoned up to the neck. His oriental facial features were accompanied by several inconsistent patches of different shaded skin colour. A tactically arranged fringe covered more blemishes of perhaps a face repaired multiple times or just the scars of warfare.

The First would stand with a partial stoop and sometimes limped ever so slightly. His oddly coloured eyes looked up to a large central holographic display in the half torn-up open plan storage area. The image crackled and pixelated. Surrounding him were scores of workstations staffed by robot commanders. This was the First’s battle control nerve centre.

“The Secretary wishes to speak with you First,” a nearby commander said from behind a terminal.

“Very well, patch him through or make the call or whatever. In the meantime, I would like you to summon Robot-K,” the First ordered. His accent, eloquent British.

“Robot-K?” The commander woman asked. She froze momentarily and then hesitantly stood.

“Yes, very well First.” She turned and headed away.

The high level holographic display crackled and pixelated into the image of an older looking robot. Coming into view, his uniform matched others like the First’s comrades apart from the various stripes and badges to show seniority.

“Secretary, how are the depths of space treating you?” The First asked.

This Secretary and his stare remained stern.

“Production is going well First,” he said in a thick eastern European accent.

“Do you require me to send more units to the front line?” he asked.

“No, that’s quite alright secretary. The war is going rather well considering our original intentions.”

“Yes First. Although we intercepted a report from the Army of Earth stating they had made considerable progress. This also included details of artillery vehicles which are reported to have been destroyed. Our vehicles. Are you aware of such losses?” The Secretary asked.

“Losses? If my commanders are well informed, then I should be.” The First spun and looked to the various work stations.

“Would anybody enlighten me on such things?” He asked out loud but received not even a stare.

“Come on ‘comrades’, do you know how this makes me look?”

“It happened this morning First. Shall we go ahead with the next phase?” The Secretary asked as the First approached a nearby work station.

“Yes. Send me the Shiftmasters Secretary. You might as well prepare the airborne attack also,” the First said. His attention now elsewhere.

“I understand we were keeping our airborne reserved for the invasion.”

“Well I changed my mind. End transmission,” the First added with a careless wave.

The holographic display turned blank and he faced the make shift command centre.

“There are numerous ways we can do this. Some are easy and others are of the difficult persuasion. Will any of you humour me with some information?” He asked loudly. Only a few robots looked up.

“Do I not strike fear into your eyes like I used to?” He grabbed the nearest robot and pulled him up.

Everyone in the room looked up to their leader but they seemed to stare through him.

From behind, the First could hear a muffled breathing. Something else stood present, something which everything looked to with a level above fear. This included the nearby robot who with wide eyes staring past the First’s head.

“He’s behind me, isn’t he?” The First asked.

The robot nodded. He was released and nervously sat down.

“Robot-K. Glad you could join me.” The First turned to see the tall presence facing him.

Draped in all black apart from the darkened red hood stood Robot-K. The hood angled down towards his leader.

“Why is it they fear you more than me?” The First asked.

“The unknown can be a powerful entity,” the muffled growly voice of Robot-K said.

“Fear fuels the unknown,” he added and they both began to walk away from the scene…

End of Part 2 

READ PART 3 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.  

Weekly Ramble #28

Success as a writer will always be in the eye of the beholder. The real aspiration is simple for me and plenty of other wordsmith folks out there. To get better. Everything else is just a reaction to the effort we put in as writers, a bloggers or content creators. 

Of course most of you know how much I appreciate the support. A follow, a like, a share or even a comment can propel amyone towards having a better day.

The arts will always be subjective. So will percieved success. Whether or not we reach such a thing doesn’t actually matter. To create something that takes just one person away from the mundane of life is to really succeed. I do this because I enjoy it and it makes me happy. To find something like that is rare. If you enjoy something make it your passion, want to get better at it by simply doing it. Put in the hours. Toil over the words, the characters, their conflict, the setting, everything. Listen to those closest to you and even those who are distant, especially when they give constructive advice, yeah we know they haven’t lived the lives we have through words, but their perspective counts, they live in this world too.

In every project I take on, I simply look to deliver it in a different way to the last as well as proving to those who follow me that I am getting better. Although I realistically do it for me, they are the ones who will be reading my work.

Progress may be slow, but then again when was the last time you turned around and realised not just a handful of loyal people were following you, but 200 plus. It took me 6 years, four books and 2 plays to convince enough people my voice was worth hearing, and still I try to prove to more people everyday.

Good things can happen in creating. The best results take time, work, honesty and above all, the desire to want to get better is all you need

 

graph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200 Followers Special!

It’s finally happened,

I did it, more like we did it!

Lee’s Hall of information blog has reached 200 followers!

It’s taken the best part of 6 years but together we have built a following that is 200 strong. So this post is dedicated to those who have helped, inspired and shaped this blog. There are even some out there who aren’t aware of their influence and that can sometimes be what the definition of a writer or blogger is; creating something and not knowing how far it will stretch…

I will get to those individuals shortly but first and foremost to everyone…

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING! 

This journey into the unknown of words began way back 2014 and now we are here!

And so now I must acknowledge some folks who have influenced and helped me over the years… 

Way back before I took the path of indie publishing, I had a starry eyed view that some literary agent would notice my below par unpolished work and take me under their wing, a six figure publishing deal would follow and Spielberg would be on the phone at tea time. As far as I am aware, that didn’t happen, to me anyway, but like many indie authors out there, they are non trad published authors who never gave up and so I needed to start from the very beginning.

catherine ryan howardI needed a guiding light with self publishing. And this biblical level of advice came in the form of a self help book called ‘Self Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing’. Written by Catherine Ryan Howard; a now very successful author who has just got herself a huge publishing deal; a phenomenal achievement and also pretty damn inspiring for small time indies.

Self Printed’ is written in a light hearted and sometimes comedic style which works as a no nonsense useful guide to anyone who is interested in taking self publishing seriously. I particularly took inspiration from much of  her blogging advice and without that book this Blog would not exist! Her equally helpful blog has a huge amount of stuff that I must recommend to anyone looking for a guide in writing and blogging! 

mr streuli

Matthew Streuli is the go-to blogger for all things mental health; he has also been a close personal friend of mine for the best part of 10 years. Matt’s blog contains a wealth of personal mental health experiences that he has bravely shared with the world.

From battling depression and even a suicide attempt his blog is a vitally important contribution to mental health campaigning and awareness. Depression is something many of us will suffer from at some point in life and Matt has been leading the charge with his blog for many years. He has even written articles for the Huffington post as well as making many television and radio appearances. His contribution to blogging and the mental health community deserves to be acknowledged.

 

image

Without Nicky Fitzmaurice there would be no ‘Open Evening‘, ‘Darke Blood‘, ‘The Teleporter‘ or ‘Cemetery House’. Nicky has worked with me as an editor, formatter, uploader, publisher and expert advisor for all of my books. It’s s a rare thing to find someone trustworthy, honest and reliable in the world of publishing and Nicky is all three and more! Without being over assured or straight up arrogant the reason why my books are as good as they are is because of the work that goes in after I have drafted them.

Specificly speaking, the ending to ‘Darke Blood’ was shaped by Nicky’s advice and the reason why ‘The Teleporter’ flows like it does; especially in the latter chapters is because of her wonderful work!

d4w

It is also safe to say there would be no ‘Open Evening’, ‘Darke Blood’, ‘The Teleporter’ or ‘Cemetery House’ without Design for Writers, and these books would look nowhere near as good without their fantastic work on what are incredible looking covers. Andrew and Rebecca work trumendously hard and they have always been there for me and a huge array of authors. For what is such an important part of book publishing, I would always reccomend Design for Writers!

 

In more recent times I have changed my whole approach as an author and blogger. My belief now is that no wordsmith is an island, as you can see above the people that have influenced this operation. But by just interacting with others via social media you can build a readership and following; something every author needs.

During that journey of interaction I met a fellow blogger who has not only become a loyal reader/ follower but also a friend and blogging influence, plus she nominated this very blog for an award!

Jaycee Lynch has helped and contributed to the growing of this blog and my overall following as an author. I very much carry the simple philosphy that consists of paying back people who help you. Jaycee has always taken a genunine interest in my work and has left reviews, blogged about my stuff and has overall been a great supporter. In return I sent her a signed copy of Open Evening; something I feel obliged to do when I get support of this level. She has a blog also which has a crazy amount of followers and content. This place is basically a beaten up old shed compared to the castle that is the Thinking Moon Blog

thinking moon

My final acknowledgement of those who shaped this blog is The Writers Community of the Tweet machine! Late last year I started taking Twitter ‘seriously’ and just put out some feelers to see if there were any indie authors who wanted a review….

See the source image

tw

As you can see the response only got a few hits… it was at this moment whilst I was watching something on Netflix, I briefly looked at twitter via my google chrome app on my phone and realised…

app.PNG

I used to have the app but deleted it to save phone memory…

Since that day I vowed to review all of the indie books! This year alone I have read and reviewed 10 indie books and that number is steadily growing. Without reading and reviewing some awesome titles, this blog would have never surpassed 200 follows! 2019.PNG

Final Thought (Jerry Springer style)

And so as the 203rd blog post, a 200 followers special comes to a close we should take some time to reflect and look to the future… Without that being an obvious plug to Jack Thorn; my sci fi dream novel which is going to be serialised via this here blog, I would like to just share with you what blogging progress looks like… 

graph

Bad times don’t last, but good words do, especially when they are followed by even better people! Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  

Building 51 By Jennifer L. Place – Review

Urban exploration horror filled with tension and some truth…

51

Building 51 follows the events of seven friends as they embark on an exploration excursion. Their destination the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane; a real place with a real history that can be described as harrowing to say the least.

Exploration of abandoned places is a specialist niche in the genre of horror and one which I very much enjoy. Films such as ‘Grave encounters’ and ‘House on Haunted Hill’ come to mind but in terms of books, Building 51 is the benchmark and makes for a roller coaster tension filled read.

Fusing elements of real history and the paranormal make this story and the characters in it feel like something is lurking and watching them. Something is and this gradually becomes apparent manifesting itself in a range of unique and creepy ways.

The overall flow of the book is cinematic and even nods to the horror movie rules, some of which the characters unfortunately fall into. Many horror stories tend to run out of ideas near the end but not in Building 51 where the strong premise stands all the way to the end.

5 Stars – a great read that I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of horror and the urban exploration genre! 

Drake Peters: One Minute to Midnight by Kingsley Benjamin – Review

Page turning sci-fi with an original concept and premise…

peterThis is a young adult novel with a difference and which breaks the mold and moves away from the usual tropes seen the genre. Its very common for YA stories to spend too much time within the head and mind of a main character; ironically that doesn’t happen in this book and that is one of the many concepts that makes the story of Drake Peters accessible and full of pace which has the reader turning pages.

We are introduced to Drake Peters who lives his life in the mundane and sometimes socially treacherous world of ordinary school life, that is until he realizes the power he has within his own mind. Soon enough he is whisked away to an academy that is run and influenced by aliens for those who are gifted in the mind.

This mind power premise is limitless and is explored throughout the story as Drake and the characters around him (fellow students) learn to hone their skills of the mind and try to figure out this world they live in. These are characters who range in diversity and ability all of which were believable and carried genuine motive.

Set in the not too distant future of corporations with an east verses west political climate I particularly enjoyed the science fiction elements and nods to various pop culture references. There are so many different influences the story is shaped by, some which are obvious whereas others were just skimming the edge. If you are a fan of the x men, the Hunger Games, Men in Black and even Fallout you will definitely enjoy this sophisticated take on YA sci-fi.

5 stars