Daughter of Kali: Awakening by Shiulie Ghosh – review

Original page turning action with a powerful voice that speaks of prophecy, coming of age and warriors…

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On the surface ‘Daughter of Kali’ would appear to be just another teen/young adult story but in reality it is so much more and carries a level of sophistication that gives it a much wider appeal.

We are introduced to ‘Kaz’ who is a feisty and likeable main character, she carries the story as a girl who stands out from the very beginning. She’s the only Indian girl in an English school and is toughened by the fact. The opening chapters serve as an introduction to what is an ordinary seeming world of school for ‘Kaz’ and her best friend/computer whizz ‘Em’ only for them to realize there is a whole other world below the surface. That world being one of demons and a warriors guild who fight said demons. ‘Kaz’ discovers that her own mother is in fact a warrior and so her journey of discovery begins, which involves finding out about her past, eventually becoming a realization of power story. 

This warriors guild has been historically fighting demons for generations and is cleverly linked to the Hindu faith; a concept I found intriguing and original. There’s plenty of action and suspense throughout along with many other original concepts and characters that delve into the world of magic and mythology.

Overall I enjoyed reading what is a well written and clever tale that I found to be un-put-down-able in the latter chapters.

5 Stars – Looking forward to the sequel

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

Chapter 2: The Secret Earth Services

Jack awoke instantly. He had been plucked from a deep state of sleep. Both of his eyes threw themselves open and they ached when artificial light hit them. After a panicked gasp emerged from his dry mouth he lurched up. Where the hell was he? All around came a dull humming of electricity. Plain and almost opaque walls surrounded him on four sides, three of them had high level windows. His eyes followed them around the room until his vision met another figure staring straight back at him.

“Oh, hi…” Jack croaked, his voice still dishevelled from the sleep.

The man wore a blue tracksuit with lettering on the chest. Jack didn’t bother or care to read it right then. Where he was interested him more although this guy stared at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Would it be cliché to ask where we are?” Jack asked. The man turned away with a smile.

“Secret Earth Services,” he said in a thick distinct accent. Now was it Australian or South-African? Jack couldn’t be sure and would let him talk some more to scope it out.

“It’s how they have always done things.” The man seemed awkward or at least very short with words. Jack looked at him closely, there was a familiarity about him. His skin, well-tanned or was that his natural dark colour? Hair long and rough, chest wide and muscular, his age, probably at least ten years older than him.

Reasons began to quickly flash through Thorn’s mind.

What in the crap have I done to get myself into the S.E.S?

“I take it the Sarge met you personally?”

“The Sarge, uh, yeah. He came to X43,” Jack said with the realisation this partially made sense now.

“You’re supposed to be here then soldier,” the man said continuing with his shortness.

“I’m getting South-African feels from that accent.”

“Yep.”

“You army also?” Jack asked.

“Nope.”

“Not a talker either?” Jack added. He swung both legs over the shelf type bed and to the floor. Next his hands patted down the Army of Earth tracksuit until he looked down to see only socks on his feet. They touched a cold floor and again he looked to the man perched on the shelf bed opposite.

“Although, they did want me to play war with them on that planet. They never replied after I sent them the invoice,” the man said, and the small crease of a smile emerged from one side of his mouth.

“Name’s Cade, I’m with Sky Force.”

“Jack. Army of earth. Wait, you said Sky Force?”

“Yep, I own a private air force that runs air support services to those in need of it or who can afford it. We just got back from a patrol job on V54,” this Cade explained and shot a glance at Jack.

“Sky Force, yeah I’ve heard of that. So that’s where I recognised you.” Jack then placed a hand on his aching forehead.

From behind him came a vibrating hum. Out of the wall folded a shelf, on it sat a solitary beaker of clear liquid.

“Well you’re up Jack, that special potion is for you.”

He grasped the beaker and sized it up.

“Smell’s kind of electric.”

“You’ve been out a while. That’ll make you feel a billion bucks,” Cade said as Jack tipped his head back and swallowed the drink.

“Uh, that’s as bad as tequila,” he said wiping his chin. Upon placing the beaker down a loud piecing alarm buzzed.

“Attention. Please stand away from the plain wall,” a computerized female voice sharply announced.

Jack looked forward and presumed the wall directly in front without any glass must of been the plain one.

“What’s going on?” he asked over the repetition and buzzing.

“It’s try-out time. This is why you are here right?” Cade asked.

“Right. But why does a guy who owns his own air force want in on this?” Jack asked loudly.

“I’ve known the Sarge for some years…” The buzzing stopped along with the announcement, next came a pneumatic type hissing.

“You know him? well how did you meet?” Jack asked.

Great this guy knows Sarge personally, that’s already an advantage I don’t have.

“He approached me with an offer much like this one,” Cade said.

The plain wall moved an inch forward and then with more sounds of machinery and hydraulics the whole surface moved up. It opened while folding above them like a garage door.

“That’s kinda neat,” Jack said.

They looked out past their confining cell. There was nothing but white.

“Least we get our shoes back,” Cade said and jumped off the bed. He grabbed a pair of sneakers just outside the line of where this confining wall had raised.

“Yeah what is with that?” Jack asked, and grabbed his. They both stepped out of the cell into what seemed to be a huge space.

“It’s the famous calling card of the S.E.S. Leave nothing behind but your damn shoes, that’s what I make of it anyway,” Cade said sounding more like ‘mek of it anyway’ but Jack was more focused on the expansive place they stood. This seemingly endless place felt disorientating especially with the only colour around being a bland off white which provided no horizon or reference point.

“Sort of makes you dizzy,” Jack said while Cade whistled loudly.

“No echo, either.”

Another loud hiss forced them to both turn. From the unlimited space, the cut out of a doorway emerged nearby and folded inwards. Out stepped two figures.

“You have the Secret Earth Services to thank for their always elaborate style,” Jeremey ‘Sarge’ Jones said. Concealed behind his tall and large frame walked the African American Axel Hendricks and behind them were a line of men and women. All of them were dressed in a range uniforms, from navy, army, air force to even police.

“Guess I underdressed,” Jack said looking at Cade whilst Jones approached.

“I see our final candidates have arrived. Many of you will recognise Commander Cade Biggs, owner and proprietor of the renowned Sky Force,” he said.

Some of the group nodded in approval.

“And this is Jack Thorn, soldier for the Army of Earth and currently assigned to the war on X43.”

Thorn scanned the group who mostly seemed to turn their noses the other way.

“I’m Axel Hendricks, pleased to meet you Thorn. I worked with your parents many years ago and…”

Jones coughed loudly to interrupt Axel.

“I think we should proceed Hendricks,” he said in a semi-commanding tone.

“Nice, to, uh, meet you,” Thorn said but he was still in awe of this place.

“Now welcome all of you to the white room,” Jones announced.

“Why is it called that?” Jack asked.

“Because it’s white kid, try to keep up,” a senior looking uniformed man said in an attempt to brush off Thorn.

“Thanks for the input General obvious. Remind me to come to you for any more obvious quips,” Jack immediately said back. As the senior man began to angrily reply Jones loudly coughed again.

“Let’s try to remain focused on why we are here. Now all of you have been hand selected for an opportunity to be a part of the new World Force, our planet’s answer to the ever-worsening rate of robot crime. Either Hendricks or I reached out to you in some capacity to be here today and I see a range of men and women here who represent the very best in what they do. Some, may not even know it yet,” Jones paused at Thorn before slowly walking along the line of people.

“And some may never know,” the senior looking ‘General obvious’ said with a direct glare to Thorn, this time only some of the group laughed.

“Now we are all equals in this room,” Jones said. His commanding voice called out while he continued along the line. Again Thorn spoke out,

“That is until some of us get our teeth kicked down our throat.” Cade gently gripped his shoulder.

“Wind it in mate. You’ll get your chance,” he said. Jack and this senior man continued to stare at each other.

“You have all been especially invited to take part in a series of simulated exercise activities. At the close of today we will have a better idea as to who we think will best suit our needs for the next generation of World Forcers.”

Axel Hendricks stepped forward, in his one gloved hand he held a transparent glass tablet.

“All of the exercises will happen in the white room. Many are adapted scenarios from previous World Force reports and have happened in real life. Of course, this is a simulation room, but you will still be able to make full body contact with any A.I. involved and the geography is also as real. You will take part in teams of two, the person whom you arrived with will be your partner for the day.”

Jack nodded at Cade and Axel continued,

“Everyone’s performance will be analysed on a constant basis while you work thorough the various simulations. Consider this a real life on the job interview for an opportunity to fight robot crime. If there are no questions, I suggest we move proceedings forward.”

Jones broke the momentary silence,

“I am looking for a leader. Someone to be the vessel for this new generation of robot crime fighters. The world needs leaders more than ever right now and this is your shot. The simulations will now begin. Good luck.” He turned with Axel and they headed for the door way.

“I guess it’s us versus everyone else kid,” Cade said, and Jack began to follow.

“It would seem that way…”

“Before we get this little party started…” ‘General obvious reached out and gripped Jack’s shoulder from behind.

“You better appreciate, Thorn, is it? Most of us have had a life of earning medals and respect. A low life soldier like you…”

Jack spun forcing the man’s grip away,

“A low life solider like me has every right to be here. You touch me, no, you lay one damn finger on me again. You’ll regret it,” he said through gritted teeth. A uniformed woman stepped in to pull the man away.

“Come on Davidson, we’re partners in this shindig so let’s move out.” She led him away, but he and Jack continued to stare each other out.

“We’re up Thorn,” Cade said. He led them to a nearby holographic display of their names.

“There’s something about that guy I really don’t like. I’m only getting bad vibes,” Jack said.

“We can profile the entitled uniformed assholes later,” Cade added. He and Jack watched a wire type frame fold out of the white flooring, hung on it were two handguns.

“Guess we’re gonna need these.” Jack grasped the gun along with his partner. In front of their eyes the area turned into a building city scape. Structures rose from the white and began to form into a full street. Every surface seemed a little blurred including vehicles which rose out of road surface.

“I recognise this layout. This is Times Square,” Jack said looking around at the slightly blurred displays and advertising.

“I’ll take your word for it mate.”

“Location; New York,” a computerized voice announced with bright text flashing past. It continued with the brief,

“Simulated robot hostiles have blocked all traffic and are holding a violent demonstration. Simulated civilians are caught up in the demo. Shoot to kill at your own discretion. Direct as many simulated civilians out of the area. Behind you is the medical team waiting for the area to be made safe so they can reach the casualties. Simulation activated.”

A loud buzzer sounded, and Jack pointed his gun forward taking the lead.

Cade stood a few steps behind and they approached the first blurry car. If it wasn’t for the lack of detailed graphics both of them could believe they were stood in New York.

“You know this place Thorn. What’s the plan?” Cade asked. He scanned between the blurry cars.

“Head into the centre of the triangle. Take out anything that…” He fired the gun and an electronic spark surged towards the first approaching robot. The simulated figure reacted to the shot and flickered before falling back into a car. It morphed into a plain white manikin and dropped.

“Even the damn perps are just holograms,” Jack said. Two screaming civilians ran across their view, the image flickering momentarily.

“Disperse, now!” Cade shouted. He and Jack continued through a mass of parked vehicles.

“This could actually be fun,” Jack added.

He lowered the gun and tucked it into his tracksuit.

“Let’s see what they can do.” He pulled in a fist and stood with a defensive stance.

“If that’s how you want to do it, then that’s how we’ll do it,” Cade said doing the same with his weapon.

Jack stepped up onto a car to see a group of robots closing in. The nearest target jumped up and faced him. With a lightning jab Thorn moved in and startled the target before tripping him down onto the car bonnet. Landing with a thud, the robot’s display flickered to blank before Jack was about to drive his palm down.

“These guys are paper thin,” Cade said and roughly wrapped two hands around the nearest target. With a grunt he pulled and slammed it into a nearby vehicle, again the robot flickered to white.

“Yeah, this is too easy.” Jack swung a leg high with not even half strength, the robot smacked back.

The number of robots incoming began to grow in numbers.

“I think,” Cade said as he pulled his gun out and fired.

“These things are designed to be cannon fodder,” he added and fired several times.

“I think you’re right,” Jack said joining Cade with the firing. They took down the various targets most of which didn’t even seem engaged.

“This is kind of crappy. I’m more of a hands-on type of guy.” Jack turned his attention to the left. Just when Cade surged forward with multiple shots, he looked through a side street and into another simulation.

He could see Davidson and his partner struggling with a mass of robots surrounding them.

“Pull back! Screw the civilians they are on their own,” Davidson shouted and got up from behind a car. The guy began to retreat.

“Hey!” Jack shouted. He moved away from his simulation.

“Thorn! Where you going?” Cade shouted. Alarms and text began to flash.

“Return to scenario, return to scenario…”

Davidson watched Jack heading into his zone with fists and feet at the ready . He swung around and launched a heel into the first robot. Moving further along he thrust both fists back and forth going through the mass of robots, all of them diminishing before him.

“Hey, get out of here soldier scum!” Davidson roared before running back into action. By the time he arrived Jack had dealt with the final target. A simulated family stood cowered down between two vehicles. Their terrified looking back and forth animation played on a loop. That was until somebody engaged them,

“It’s safe, get out of here,” Jack shouted. Immediately the simulated faces changed their animation by looking at him and then to Davidson.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?”

“Your job. ‘Screw the civilians’ is not in our remit,” Jack barked.

The taller Davidson clamped his hand down on Thorn’s shoulder.

“That’s what this is about, protecting people?” Jack added while feeling the gradually increasing pressure from Davidson’s grip.

At that precise moment, something clicked inside his senses. Everything aligned while he felt the strength of this man which seemed more than human.

He’s a damn robot.

Jack winced in pain just when Cade burst onto the scene. He barged Davidson away forcing his grip.

“Break it up.”

“He’s a damn robot Cade,” Jack said.

Before Cade could speak Davidson had crashed forward into him. Cade fell forward and went down head first onto a car bonnet.

“Dammit Davidson,” his female partner whined.

Davidson faced Thorn with a sinister grimace.

That was the moment both Jeremey Jones and Axel Hendricks realised they had a situation on their hands.

“I’m ending all simulations and disarming the soft hostiles,” Axel said. His finger began to tap on the clear glass tablet he held. Sitting beside him Jones reached out to intervene but kept both eyes on the display screens of their dark control room.

“Wait. Let’s see how this pans out Hendricks.”

Buildings from the various simulations began to lower and flicker back to white.

“It’s not safe Jones. Biggs is already down and if we don’t end this now then all of those candidates are going to turn on Thorn…”

“The situation is in control. Thorn isn’t the only human in there,” Jones argued and tried to snatch the hand-held tablet from Axel.

“The only other human in there is a plant we put in and he’s just hit his head on a damn holographic car. Badly might I add.”

As they bickered and argued the situation inside the white room fell entirely into Jack Thorn’s very capable fighting hands.

Before anyone around him offered a reaction, Thorn engaged and rushed in. He saw red for his now downed partner Cade Biggs and for what this smirk faced Davidson stood for; even if he was most probably a planted robot by Sarge. With two hands, he snatched at Davidsons hair and pulled down driving his face into a knee. That was the move he used when he was after blood and there was, but it came in robot black. At that moment all the surrounding simulation scenarios disappeared into the white.

Davidson reeled back from the knee impact and with no time to react any further Jack had driven the sole of his foot into the robot’s chin. He hit the white floor with a spark.

Thorn then realised the majority of uniformed men and women in the room were all staring at him, but not with that intrigued type of stare. Their eyes showed no emotion but just the glassy emptiness of the what revealed them all to be robots.

End of Part 4

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 #29

This week more than any I stand by my decision to write and tell a story about a drunk super hero.

Like all of my books they are about so much more than what’s on the surface. Blurbs and covers sometimes do a book zero justice and even now I have a feeling people judged the Teleporter harshly to begin with and most probably still do (I guess I cant win them all). How dare I write a story with a genre that’s ‘in’ at the moment because even now I can see my own logic in doing it. Super heroes are more popular than ever, and did people just see through that? Did everyone just see me trying to ride a trend and attempt to cash in on it?  Was it just an empty grab a fashionable genre?

To begin with that’s what I set out to do, but in the end, this book became something so much more.

The sheer will of my main characters journey is what makes The Teleporter worth reading.

13 people purchased a copy of the Teleporter on release. That was my lowest ever book launch sales figure until Cemetery House but we won’t count that or talk about that (sequels are strange) and even though it’s low, I have zero complaints. That number grew by a handful until this year and back then (even January this year) my following was a lot less than what it is compared to today. This whole deal; reviewing books, interacting, giving back to the writing community has opened a huge door for me. And I haven’t just reached out past my own shores of Hall island to sell books, I’ve done it above all to become a better writer and to be taken seriously, and people are taking this seriously now.

There are two ways a writer learns their craft; by doing and by reading. Along the way I’ve met some pretty bad ass bloggers and authors, types whom I share this voyage with. Perhaps building bridges is what leads to real success in creating.

This week The Teleporter has owned the day. Several times when complete strangers have cast the net out into the twittersphere looking for reads; my scrappy little underdog of a book has come out on top; above other books from authors with huge amounts of follows. That has always been my gimmick, the underdog who waits on the fringes of the unexpected, waiting to strike, waiting for my moment and proving to the international stage that I’m good at what I do.

Thank you to everyone this week, and before this moment. Those who left a review for the Teleporter before today are probably a huge reason why it’s been downloaded over 600 times in two days!

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Within the Dark Places by Duncan Thompson – review

There’s something lurking in the shadows of Druid Wood and it’s terrifying…

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As an avid fan of horror, I don’t scare easily but ‘Within the Dark Places’ is the closest to terrified I’ve been for quite some time whilst reading a book.

This story 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.

It reads like a modern horror flick by way of a well written page turning style giving the reader no rest-bite between the sometimes graphic but always creepy fate in which the characters face. And believe me it does get graphic in a few places. This one isn’t for the faint of heart but I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good scare.

Its paranormal and ‘creature feature’ combined with some of the usual tropes seen in horror but some cliches will always work and they do so very well here. Although this novella is on the short side, the whole story is delivered effectively and makes for some great horror reading.

4 Stars – I have already added the sequel to my TBR list! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Teleporter is FREE to download!

KABLAMO!

Friends, bloggers and readers from all over the world my 3rd Book The Teleporter is officially free to download. This is a rare one off deal so go now to Amazon and grab yourself a copy….

(The Teleporter won’t be free to download for a very long time, trust me) 

Not convinced I hear? This post is dedicated to convincing YOU to make The Teleporter your next read!

Let the prosecution present to you ‘Exhibit A’ or also known as ‘dem’ Reviews…

Exhibit A:

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Reviews aren’t everything, I know and some of you know that. Maybe some of you are thinking I just paid a bunch of people to review The Teleporter I didn’t, in fact this book is relatively undiscovered…

FUN FACT: It only sold around 13 copies on release…. 

Indie books take a long time to gather any type of following, unless you got a pro marketing company, a boat load of money and lady luck on your side, so like all of my works the reviews have come after some time. It’s taken a whole year to get to 6 reviews and so its up to you, the reader to tell the world about it.

You could be responsible for telling the world about The Teleporter! (I’ll probably buy you at least 12 drinks for that type of support)

(No doubles, I have a mortgage to pay…)

Exhibit B: It’s a comedy….

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Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, let me admit these quotes are actually quite terrible at reflecting how funny The Teleporter really is (no wonder it only sold 13 fu**ing copies), but trust me, you’ll laugh, I did, a lot.

ANOTHER FUN FACT: My marketing campaign was probably terrible… there really are better quotes than the sh** above; lesson learned I guess and that’s the most important thing (what all partial failures like me say).

But… it’s not all ‘ha ha’. This book has a hell of a lot more going on than just gags. There is a real message and moral to the story. Our main protagonist struggles to come to terms with his new power, there is a whole responsibility thing going on with that struggle and friendship arc as well.

Exhibit 3: – It’s deep (not a sexual reference)

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Members of the jury, seeing as this book is a super hero story, it wouldn’t be one without subtly nodding to the Marvel cinematic universe. This quote above is said by a ‘Stan Lee’ type during the latter stages of the story.

Exhibit D: – The Teleporter is dedicated to breaking stereotypes by appearing as just another super hero story, but it isn’t just another super hero story!  

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The prosecution rests…

ANOTHER ANOTHER FUN FACT: I’m into courtroom dramas at the moment, can you tell? That ‘The People Vs O.J  show was awesome… yes I also realize I’m some years late, I’m an author, and I’m busy…

…and now awaits the verdict which will hopefully be in the form of a 1000 downloads or more. Let me know if you’ve grabbed a copy by commenting on this post or tweeting me! Happy reading and thanks for the support!

Extra fun fact: Every time The Teleporter is mentioned in this post, the link to the book is attached to it… so get clicking! 

Bonus shizzle/ further reading:

Here are some more reasons why you should read the Teleporter…

And this is what the cover looks like, although you shouldn’t judge books by covers, except mine because they rock!

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Ultra Super Bonus content: Are you still here? Well if you are I have promised to myself that The Teleporter will get a sequel if it gets more than 15 reviews… so what are you waiting for? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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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…

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‘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. 

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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.

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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…

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‘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.