Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 4, Part 3

“I’m gonna close up honey. Haven’t seen a customer in two hours. Why don’t you get an early night?” The outline of old lady Denny moved into Rouge’s peripherals.

Not for a second did she look up to her boss. Instead she kept both eyes on her newest creation.

“I don’t mind waiting for my friends,” Rouge said from the confinement of an empty booth. There she sat in the desolate diner pulling another late, the usual girl hadn’t turned up in a few days.

“Another doodle? You’re gonna need your own gallery soon. What is it this time?” The old lady shuffled closer and eased down onto the leather opposite.

“It’s you.” Rouge spun her sketch pad tablet around. She smiled at her work whilst it projected out.

“I got a few more wrinkles than that honey, but I’ll settle for that.”

“What wrinkles?” Rouge asked innocently. Her words showing a playful sarcasm. Just another sign her mind was growing.

“You have a real talent for this stuff Anne-Marie. I’ve asked a thousand times already but are you ever gonna tell an old broad like me what you’re doing in a place like this?”

The redhead’s smile steadily faded. Not in shame, uncertainty more like.

“I’m just, I don’t know.”

“It’s okay honey, you can tell me.”

A wrinkled hand reached out to her. Rouge looked up and then took it.

“I came from a bad place. A place I never want to go back. Right here and right now, I’m happy, and I’m still finding myself, I guess.”

“Well, that’s enough for me. You take your time kiddo. Draw all you like, play fight all you like out back. To have a bright star like you around for however long is a gift enough. At least you turn up for your shift.” Old lady Denny gripped the table with both hands and began to rise.

“We need a few more good staff around here, but that’ll be tomorrow’s job. I’ll go and relieve those robot friends of yours for the night. Then it’s lights out.” She shuffled past as her star waitress swivelled and took her hand again.

“This is the only place that’s ever felt like home to me,” she said.

“Well how abouts a smile for your efforts,” the old lady added and then noticed the two eyes looking up to her beginning to widen.

“Get down!” She cried.

Rouge’s grip yanked the old lady down to the chequered floor tiles. A barrage of broken glass exploded inwards with mass of heat following and then the lights shunted off.

“Ms Appleby!”

“It’s okay honey. I think,” Denny said feeling blood on her neck. Somewhere near came a flickering glow, and they both smelled smoke.

“Take this, it’s red anyway” Rouge took off her apron and held it to the slash along her boss’s neck.

Just as the fumes of burning began to thicken a loud whoosh rocked them both.

“We appear to be under attack,” the Freak said. He had extinguished the remainder of what looked like a flaming tyre.

“Where’s F.G?” Rouge asked.

“Fetching our Warrior,” the Freak said. For a second, he lowered to them and then rose to peer outside.

“Can’t really see much apart from bright headlights…”

A loud revving echoed into the broken diner window. More and more motors joined in.

“Sounds like bikers, great,” the old lady said.

“Bikers? Why are they here?” Rouge asked.

A gruff voice echoed over the revving which instantly simmered down,

“We’re here for the girl! The red headed one, hand her over and there won’t be any trouble!”

“I advise you stay concealed young Anne-Marie. Cliffeville bikers are the scourge of the western divide. They threw over the government in the city…”

“Cliffeville city is thirty miles away, what are they doing here?” Denny asked. She felt a warm trickling down her back.

“Money, Leecher has money and wants me.” The heartbeat in Rouge’s chest made itself apparent.

“We know you’re in there little girl,” a rough southern accent crowed.

“Why don’t you come on out and play?” Another said.

The Freak stood, he held an arm up to shield incoming bright light, even though he still wore the sunglasses over his white balaclava.

“Begging your pardon gentlemen, but there is no ‘girl’ here that fits the description you are demanding…”

“Shut the hell up robot! We saw her sitting there next to the old lady. She’s got two minutes before we torch the place and pull her out of the ashes!”

The Freak lowered again whilst more words came their way,

“Yeah that doctor guy didn’t say dead or alive. We’ll take whatever we get!”

“Shut the hell up Hector.”

Echoing out into the night was a voice Rouge recognised, her beating chest calmed.

“Leave! All of you now! None of you have any business here. I command you all to leave!”

After a deathly long silence the Warrior cried again,

“I command you to leave!”

“And I command you to shut the hell up.”

“What’s with the wet suit?” A slurring biker asked.

“Leave all of you. Or I will be forced to take action!” The Warrior stepped out of the shadows and into the brightness of headlights.

“Is that so?” The presumable lead biker said. His accent also southern and rough cut. His outline strode forward to reveal snakeskin boots and a leather waistcoat.

“Well the guy we doin’ this for. He did his researches and homeworks. You’re some Warrior aren’t ya? He reckons you can’t lay even a finger on a human soul. Some agreement made years ago. This guy who is payin’ has got brains. So I reckon you as soft as the sand you standing on.” The biker held up both arms wide, his audience roused in agreement.

“The Warrior code agreement. Indeed, a rule I live by,” the Warrior said.

Rouge could hear the defeat in his tone. She looked up to see this Biker close in and begin poking her much larger guardian.

“And so I could just walk past you, and take my payday. All because of a rule. A stupid damn rule. You should live more like us folks. We don’t have any rules, because they were made to be broken.” The biker practically spat his words as the much larger foe opposite bowed a balaclava shrouded head.

“Yeah rules are stupid!” Another Biker crooned.

Watch over her… be her guardian.

“You are right. That is a stupid rule and for the sake of humanity and its future, I must break the Warrior code agreement, laid down by the Warriors of old to protect the Maverick.”

“Huh? What you jabberin’ on about?”

Before the Biker could react, he received a short sharp jab. The Warrior’s gloved fist struck the man between the eyes. Wobbling on both feet the biker then felt his world tip upside down.

“Breaking the rules, does, feel good,” the Warrior said without any strain.

Rouge looked on to see her guardian grip the leather waistcoat of this vagrant and hoist him up high. It took barley any effort to throw him into headlights. There came crashing and commotion. Bikes fell over and people began shouting. More footsteps closed in.

F.G moved out of the shadows with a wide frying pan at the ready. He saw the barrage closing in. The first few bikers were downed by the Warrior’s outstretched arms as he charged back but then he became mobbed. They lashed out, some with chains and blunt weapons.

“Warrior!” Rouge screamed. The Freak held her back.

“I strongly suggest you sit this out Rouge.” He looked to the mob now engulf F.G.

“My decision to join this situation is a unanimous one I’m afraid.”

The Freak let go of her and clumsily clambered out of the broken window.

“Get Ms Appleby to a safer place, we can negotiate this,” he ordered and trailed toward the riot.

“Come on, we have to get out of here.” Rouge moved swiftly in getting the older lady up and out the back door.

“Leave this place ruffians!” The Freak’s struggling words echoed to her and then a sudden gust of wind blew.

Old lady Denny lowered to the ground as dust and loose dirt hit Rouge’s face and she cowered back. Then something else hit her, not a physical force but a presence in her head. It had echoing voice, like the one from her dreams. The voice with a weird accent she found comfort in.

‘No! I have to go and help my friends. I’m not gonna leave them, again.’

*                      *                      *

Steve Franco thought he was going to die. He cradled a faulty auto rifle while huddling around a rock big enough for just him. The other two soldiers either side found that out with their lives. Over the deafening gun fire and flashes that zoomed past he could hardly make out Rob Connolly let alone hear him as he crouched in a nearby crater.

“I, can’t hear, you man…” An explosion of dirt spread out between them. Before the smoke cleared there came a sudden break in gunfire.

“We gotta pull back. There aint enough of us left Franco…”

“The ridge, it’s just over this hill. If we push them back its game on,” Franco shouted. He could see half of Connolly’s face a dark red. Dried blood.

Again, the ground rumbled, and brightness filled the dark sky.

“Where’s Nicks at?” Connolly asked.

“Haven’t seen her, since we went over the top. I’m gonna make a move for it, if you see another auto rifle send it my way, these two ran out of ammo…”

“Franco wait. Solider!”

Connolly watched Franco creep out from behind the rock and trudge forward. Up the hill he went staying low and expecting an incoming robot at any second. Closer he got to the top with legs aching and eyes squinting to the various flashes and explosions. Just when the top appeared, he dove to the ground.

“Made it,” he said and shimmied forward.

“Right beside ya soldier,” Connolly shouted. He dropped down next to Franco.

“This isn’t a male exclusive gig, right?” A mud-covered Nicks appeared next to them on her front.

“Glad you could make it,” Franco said.

“I wouldn’t say that just yet. What’s the plan?” Nicks asked. Her body swivelled to look back at a war torn plain. Craters and bodies of either side were strewn everywhere.

“I knew it!” Franco said. His head peered up and over the hill. A mass of black faced him and in another explosive flash he saw only a cluster of robots populating the line. Two rock shrouded gun placements sat in the shadows and not a lot else.

“Some of them haven’t even got rifles,” Connolly said.

“There isn’t enough of us to make an advance. Enemy airborne are due anytime now.” Nicks glanced over from their vantage point.

“I guess it’s up to us,” Franco clambered to his feet.

“Hold back soldier. You don’t even have a working rifle.” Connolly couldn’t reach him in time and Franco darted over the hill.

“Guess I’m going too…”

“Damn it Nicks, this is suicide.” Connolly followed her.

Overhead came a bright burning. It struck the hill where they were still moving from. Connolly barely stumbled from the explosive force. He turned to see the hill now more a crater than anything else.

“This is..”  Another explosion rocked the crater of a hill with Connolly feeling the brunt of force. He was thrown back.

Steve Franco screamed in a fear-fuelled rage and charged to the nearest advancing robots. Most of them marched unarmed and partially clothed. Either a result of war or poor command and resources.

“Shoot the ones with rifles!” He commanded.

Nicks lifted her rifle to aim, a task not made easy by her clunky medic-engineers pack.

“Got your back,” she shouted.

Franco swung his auto rifle like a club. Into the first robot head it went and after a second try the weapon crumpled to pieces.

“Damn, cheap shit…”

Robots closed in and he made a fist. After reeling back, he drove a right hand forward and straight into the mouth of a wild target. It hurt like hell, but the thing went down. Then Franco realised punching all of them out wasn’t a solution, there were too many. And they descended upon him.

*                      *                      *

Shuffling old lady Denny back to her trailer seemed to take an eternity of time, but in reality, it hadn’t been that long

“I’ll be alright honey, I got this,” Denny held a fresh towel to her neck, but Rouge had already turned back. Moments later she stood outside the diner, in her prized camouflage uniform.

Destiny had taken its time to find Anne-Marie Thorn, but when it arrived, it did so with an unrelenting force.

“My friends need me too,” she said in reply to that voice she heard in the wind.

The Warrior was buried underneath a violent biker mob yielding weapons and what not. Some of them broke away to see her close in.

“Hey there pretty thing. Come here, I’ll only bite a…”

Rouge had been here before, and she knew instinct would kick in, so she followed her mind and readied into a stance. The first biker was down before he even realised. A swift out-swung leg crashed into a face which instantly dropped to the parking lot dust. She already locked on to target two and another out-swinging kick did enough in disposing of the threat. Her whole demeanour of combat appeared effortless.

“What is this?” She asked with a breathless whisper. The world didn’t slow down, it seemed to speed up, only now she was faster.

A new target faced her. Dark, tall and yielding a chain. It swung above his bandanna shrouded head. Rouge took in a deep breath and could hear the individual links on that thick chain clink and clunk. She reached out with a sharp grab and pulled tight. The biker was hooked and with superior strength Rouge yanked him down to the dust. Another one down.

In turning to throw an elbow she caught sight of F.G swinging a frying pan upwards into a duo of incoming bikers. The Freak helped him break away from their crowding threat. Just when she got close enough to the mobbed Warrior he groaned with explosive force. Bikers flew back with him standing tall.

“I am willing to take your life to preserve hers!” He shouted and grabbed the nearest body. With machine precision he hoisted it away.

Rouge stepped up and stood alongside him. Together they fought. This moment the guardian had been succeeded. She laid into every approaching attacker with high kicks and precise punches. Not even stopping to admire her handy work.

“I command you all, to leave!” The Warrior barked. His wide spanning arms wrapped around a nearby motorbike and he launched it towards the road.

Some remaining stragglers turned to run away, and the Freak caught one with his foot.

“Yield ruffian,” he barked, and the biker turned with his hands up.

“Now leave.” The Freak began to raise a fist, he lowered instinctively when a loud crack of gunfire echoed out into the night.

Rouge faced what they presumed to be the leader. With a bloody nose and a limp he moved closer holding the gun up towards her.

“I got no choice but for this to get nasty,” he said. A greasy screwed up faced stared straight at Rouge along with the barrel of that gun.

“No, Anne-Marie!” The Warrior cried. Those still standing stopped along with F.G and the Freak.

“Now, I’m taking my pay day!”

Rouge watched the leader close in. She kept her eyes glued to his movements. Her senses could almost smell his next move. Just when the barrel of the gun began to move toward the Warrior she struck.

An exhaling scream blurted out in fear as she threw a kick out front. Her foot colliding with dirty hand. The grip of the gun gone in a flash and even quicker was Rouge with her moves. She lunged forward. Gravity took hold of the weapon, but she was faster and plucked it out of the air. Now the barrel faced him.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here with my friends. We are the R.W.H!” She shouted through angrily gritted teeth.

The fear in his eyes became apparent and he put up both hands.

“Yeah, sure whatever you say little girl…”

“I’m a woman. Get down, on both knees…”

“Maybe I should just leave…”

“Now!” Rouge commanded. Her grip on the gun tightening. She pointed it to his face, and he did what he was told.

“Anne-Marie, the man is yielding,” The Warrior shouted.

“I’ve never fired a gun before. Not sure if I would like it,” Rouge said. With one swoop she launched the gun into the darkness.

“But I do like fighting.” She pulled a half smile and swung her fist.

The biker fell back to the dust and she stepped over him to another target. Although many of them were fleeing some still approached.

For the first time in many many years Anne-Marie fully smiled. She then looked to see at her side F.G and the Freak. Her guardian just behind and all of them ready to fight, together. Her eyes met his, and he nodded.

“The Robots with Humans are back in business skumbag!” F.G barked.

“I implore you to remember that name.” The Freak swung out.

“And our Maverick will save you all. That is if you don’t perish here!” The Warrior shouted with an outstretched arm.

“Stand tall Anne-Marie, fighting is in your blood. We stand beside your destiny,” he powerfully added.

There were many firsts Anne-Marie felt that night, above all she charged into the darkness without fear while smiling and she wasn’t alone.

*                      *                      *

Jack Thorn had never run so damn fast for so damn long. The only soldier nearby was Brock Jones who straggled a few lengths behind. In both hands Jones held an auto rifle, one of which belonged to Thorn. They both looked to the nearest hill the moment it lit up with explosive force. The ground under their feet rocked.

“Jack, come on!” Brock ordered. He and Thorn stopped.

“We gotta pull back. Enemy airborne will be…”

‘No! I have to go and help my friends. I’m not gonna leave them, again,” Jack shouted. He then broke into another sprint. For some reason those words he said seemed to have an echo.

Into thick smoke and out of the other side he dashed. Then he saw it. The rocky ridge, natural cover from any airborne attack. Just ahead the enemy front line guarded it with a distinct lack of forces present. In the very near foreground were his friends and so he didn’t stop.

“Take them down Brock!” He shouted and coursed forward.

The first robot moved out from mobbing Steve Franco and Jack launched a kick straight into its chin. Then he swung a roundhouse colliding into several targets clearing the path for his best friend to get out.

“Jack!”

“Steve, good to be back.”

Together they swung fists and took down another enemy.

“If we can take this robot front…”

“Then its game on!” Jack said completing Franco’s sentence. They looked at each other for just a second.

We find a way, always.

From behind them they saw Brock Jones emerge with two rifles. He fired toward more incoming enemies.

“On your feet soldier,” he shouted to the recovering Rob Connolly.

“Says the guy fresh from a nice vacation,” Connolly shouted back and began to stand.

Thorn turned to more robots and Franco followed him into battle. They moved closer and closer to the enemy front taking down robots and avoiding their fire. The robot’s line had become even more desolate than before. Most of the them straggling forward. In unison the pair downed their targets, Franco needing to put more effort, but impressively punching as Thorn kicked.

“Step aside soldiers!” Connolly shouted. He stumbled alongside Brock and they fired.

Thorn wrapped two arms around his comrade Franco and shuffled him out the fire line. They hit the ground, and both looked to see this final cluster of enemies fall revealing a view with two enemy gun placements facing them.

“Get down!” Nicks shouted just when she aligned with Connolly and Brock.

The two gun placements lit up and laser rounds burst towards them all. After what seemed like a certain victory it got decimated just like the muddy ground was obliterated by bigger caliber weaponry.

Jack rolled away, and again Franco followed. They stayed low and fell into a shallow crater.

“No!” Franco screamed looking to the laser rounds engulf Nicks, Connolly and Brock.

“Screw this. I want to go home!” Jack shouted and jumped out of the sheltering cover.

“So do I,” Franco added and followed.

Jack Thorn ran. Not only to the adversity of a nearly lost battle but towards his destiny. He knew this was now or never. His ability to fight had never been shrouded in doubt and no matter what, he would move forward. The answers of his past lay ahead, along with the truth of what happened to a mother he never knew and a destiny he would soon answer. Nothing would stand in that path.

He looked up to the gun placements firing out to his friends and then he smiled. Not in a sadistic way or even an arrogant way. He smiled because this is where he was meant to be. Faster he sprinted jumping over bodies and craters, his tunnel vision focused on the target. Impressively, he leaped and skipped past more obstacles. His breath not wavering once, his drive not waning. The motor of a Maverick ran fast and carried ambition of prophecy.

With a final long jump, he drove his body forward. In the air his boot kicked out with his body following and launching itself over sandbags and rocks. The enemy front line and its outburst of laser rounds stopped dead when Jack’s foot collided with robot face. He landed with a stamp onto the enemies’ body and a furious growl.

Steve Franco followed behind with a less impressive jump and fell next to the cannon. Without protest he jumped up and gripped the handle. Jack helped him in turning it towards the other placement which lit up again.

“Fire on those bastards!” Franco tugged on the wide trigger. The ground vibrated and rounds shot out to the other placement, in seconds it exploded. He held the trigger for a few seconds longer before letting off. With heavy lungs he slumped back onto a crate of ammunition and realised the music of war had turned silent. A firm hand gripped his shoulder armour and startled him for a second.

“We did it man,” Jack said.

“We find a way, always,” Franco added.

“The others?” He asked and clambered out of the gun placement. Jack followed him onto a smoky battlefield. The smell of burning cast across their senses and they headed back.

From more smoke came the outline of three soldiers.

“And you called me the suicide artist!” Brock shouted. He smiled to both Thorn and Franco.

“Brock.”

“Good to see you Franco man,” Brock added and handed Jack his rifle.

Nicks shuffled with Connolly, both worse for wear, but alive.

“You did it Franco. You crazy son of a bitch,” Connolly muttered.

From the hill turned crater came a barrage of men and women. They cheered at the sight of an empty enemy front.

“You know the rest of the enemy are in that ridge, and beyond that?” Franco said.

“Their front door, we’ll be knocking on it soon enough,” Connolly added and tried to stand.

“We’ll let the reinforcements lead the way this time,” he said and offered his rifle to Franco.

Army of Earth soldiers charged by and rushed toward the rocky ridge.

“What do you say Brock, Steve?” Thorn asked. He nodded to the advancing soldiers.

“After you Thorn, we’ll assume the position of hiding behind you,” Franco said.

“And we’ll catch up after some medic attention,” Nicks said.

Jack turned to see the enemy front swarming with soldiers from the Army of Earth. They charged further, firing at more robots somewhere in the craggy mountainous ridge. He smiled to his comrades and rushed back into battle.

There were hundreds of planets and thousands of stars between him and a red-haired girl doing her best to be a solider also. Destiny would work its way in bringing them together and eventually they would come to meet.

End of Season 1

Thank you for reading my story Jack Thorn. For those who have followed it from episode 1, thank you! For those just getting started, this is the book I will be querying next year to agents. This story is the reason why I became an author! Hope you enjoyed reading my dream! 

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

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

Chapter 4 – War Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is that beer?” Nicks asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sensing a story,” Connolly said.

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

“That bad huh?” Jack asked.

“Yep, it’s that bad.”

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

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

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

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

“Damn straight,” Nicks half-heartedly added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Whoever or whatever killed my Mother.”

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

“Sorry Thorn, I didn’t know…”

“Neither did I.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To family,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And war friends,” Connolly added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stand down termites!”

A superior officer appeared behind the front line.

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

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

“I said back to your alcoves…”

“What about the siren?” Franco asked.

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

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

“Stand down solider! That is an order!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*                      *                      *

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

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

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

“Eyes on the target at all times.”

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

“Strike, now,” the Warrior said.

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

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

“Stance.”

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

“I just can’t do it.”

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

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

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

Rouge dropped her fists and they swung in frustration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What? This is stup…”

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

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

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

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

“Robot down…”

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

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

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

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

She looked up to his black balaclava covered head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“An improvement tonight perhaps,” the Freak said.

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

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

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

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

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

‘Watch over her’

The image of an infant girl flashed across his view.

‘Be her guardian’

“Many years ago,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t think about it, not now.

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

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

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

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

A whispering came from all around.

‘Ryan is coming’

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

“F.G?”

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

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

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

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

Another figure closed in.

“Are you Ryan?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Explosions and thudding closed in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s a jet engine!”

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

“I want to wake up now!”

End of Part 9

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

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

 

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!  

tp ded

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!

tp 3d

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?