Authors: Ryder Stacy
FREEDOM’S LAST HOPE
America struggles to survive after a devastating first strike nuclear attack by the Russians. A virtual slave colony at the mercy of the brutal Soviet occupation army, the United States has one chance to regain her freedom: Ted Rockson, the Doomsday Warrior, and his underground high-tech guerilla army of FreeFighters!
But a bloody sneak attack scatters the rebels and gets Rockson captured. Stripped of his weapons, weakend by hunger, the Doomsday Warrior is forced to endure wave after wave of searing pain as a prisoner of the deadly Soviet torture device known only as the Dream Machine. Rockson must survive long enough for his men to rally to his rescue . . . the future of America depends on it!
One hundred more yards and he’d be free!
He almost lost traction, slipping on a patch of gravel in the dark cavern. Soon he heard scampering sounds behind him and the gnashing of flesh-hungry jaws.
The huge creatures had heard him and started screeching. Screeching for his blood.
Pulling his weapon from his belt, Rockson spun once on his heels and fired his shotpistol on full automatic. The X-patterns of deadly explosive pellets spread out and demolished the front ranks of the red-eyed monsters. His clip spent, he grabbed for another but came up empty.
But the deadly horde kept on coming, crawling quickly over the torn and bloody bodies of their own dead to tear the Doomsday Warrior apart . . .
are published by
Kensington Publishing Corp.
475 Park Avenue South
New York, N.Y. 10016
Copyright © 1990 by Ryder Syvertsen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
First printing: July 1990
Printed in the United States of America
nter now the world of Ted Rockson, the man known to all the world as the Doomsday Warrior. The time: circa
2096; the place: America.
It has been more than a hundred years since the devastating nuclear strike against the U.S. by the Soviet Union. The surprise attack had occurred right in the middle of peace negotiations that seemed to be going well. The U.S., though devastated, never surrendered, though most of its cities were wiped out, most of its population killed. A ragtag guerrilla force harassed the brutal Russian occupiers, and a sullen captive population in the new Russian slave-fortresses mounted constant revolt. Small underground complexes where freedom fighters hid and gathered strength became, over a hundred years, vast cities of “Freefighters.” The Freefighters launched more and more sophisticated and massive attacks on the Sovs.
As a result of endless guerrilla warfare, the situation slowly changed. By the late twenty-first century, when this chapter in the Rockson saga begins, the regular Soviet forces had been forced to withdraw from American soil. The greatest threat to Free America now came from renegade, independent Russian forces. One such force was controlled by Colonel Killov, a fanatical KGB leader. Killov openly flouted the uneasy cease-fire arranged by Soviet premier Vassily and U.S. president Langford.
The other force opposing U.S.-Soviet peace arrangements was led by deposed U.S. puppet president Mikael Zhabnov. Killov was supposedly dead; but no one knew the whereabouts of the unpredictable, cowardly General Zhabnov.
The world went about the business of trying to clean up the radioactive mess that World War III had caused. No one knew if their efforts would meet with success. Poisons were still filtering down to earth from the contaminated ionosphere. Vast areas of the planet were forbidden zones—radioactive wastelands. And day by day, the poisons still rained down . . . It was not at all certain that life on earth—as it had been known—would survive. Perhaps just the mutant species would endure: hardy, rad-resistant creatures such as the Narga-beasts, the blood-seeking lizards of the forbidden zones, or the mutant humans, such as the Doomsday Warrior, who had the star-pattern on their backs, but otherwise looked much the same as nonmutant humans.
Rockson was a man endowed with a keen sixth sense, and a well-honed fighting talent. He had been born with an unstoppable desire to live, to endure, to triumph over all opposition. Rockson was a man who would rather die on his feet than live kneeling before the oppressor!
ed Rockson’s Ramjet flyer came out of a thick white cloud and the cottony blankness before his mismatched light and dark blue eyes was replaced by a spectacular vista: for a hundred miles ahead, a vast, red-hued desert spread out. The Doomsday Warrior checked his gauges. He was 6,000 feet up over the radioactive wasteland of south Utah, cruising along at a leisurely subsonic 500 miles per hour. His fuel consumption was optimal, his warning indicators all quiescent. He’d be at his destination in less than an hour. He hoped that wouldn’t be too late!
It had taken Rockson three days to repair the old confiscated Soviet Ramjet and get it airborne—the three days from the time Rock had received Archer’s message asking for help, giving a location far out in the wastelands of America’s West. He hoped to hell that Archer was still alive when he got there. He wished that he could go a bit faster, but 500 was all this aircraft could handle. This old Sov flyer was a bag of loose bolts and jerry-rigged circuits. To go any faster meant she would probably fall apart.
“In any case,” Rock thought, “I’ll soon be there. To face what danger?” Rockson had no idea what peril his old friend turned hermit Archer was up against. The message hadn’t gone into that. No, that would have been too easy!
The scenes of scarred and ruined canyons, jutting mesas, red painted desert land sparsely patched with vegetation, crawled by underneath Rockson. Now and then he saw the twisting lines in the sands below that indicated the path of a Narga-beast. The tails made those marks with their barbed tips. Rockson shuddered even to think of those creatures. He’d seen what the Narga-beasts had done to men—torn them apart, eaten out their guts, and then deposited eggs in their wasted bodies—eggs that within hours hatched into new, horrible additions to their evil ranks!
Slowly, the desert changed. Now and then there appeared a twisted yucca tree, or a clump of thornbushes. Rockson was pleased to see that. It meant that the radiation was fading, that the land was coming back, slowly but surely Nature was reclaiming the man-ruined world. Whether nature would let the mad creatures known as human beings live in its domain once it was reclaimed, was another matter! Lately, it sure seemed that nature had it in for humankind, unleashing all sorts of megastorms, snowstorms in midsummer, earthquakes. It was as if the planet was trying to throw off its back the creature who had devastated it!
Rockson sighed and leaned back. He flicked a switch to put the flyer on autopilot, and then consulted the age-yellowed survey map on the seat next to him in the two-passenger craft. Yup, just as he had thought: there hadn’t been a sign of life here on the last air-recon survey, just ten years ago. It was worth recording the difference.
Rockson turned on the automatic cameras in the jet’s nose, to make an update for the boys back in Map Division in Century City. He glanced at the radar screen. No bogies. No challenge in the skies of America these days from Sov interceptor-jets. It was almost EERIE how the Sovs had finally packed up their bags and pulled out. The warfare against the Sovs had gone on for over a century; it had been a way of life for all Americans. Constant fighting had been a raison d’être for Rockson and his “Rock Team.”
Chen, Archer, Detroit, McCaughlin, Scheransky—all of the Freefighters—now had time aplenty on their hands. There was much to do, but to fighting men, it all seemed, well, DULL. That dullness was why Archer had lit out for parts unknown. The huge mountain man had said he couldn’t stand being around people who weren’t fighting. So Archer had packed up his rucksack and disappeared into the wilderness where Rockson had found him so many years ago. There had been no messages from the bearded giant for three years. Not until just three days ago.
Rockson pulled Archer’s message from his pocket and unfolded it. The message was a brief, cryptic scrawl in the handwriting of the mountain man, a message delivered via fax machine in the communications lab at C.C. It was nearly indecipherable, but it clearly said “Emergency” and “Danger.” The message also gave map coordinates to a place called Bawl Corner. Rock smiled wryly. Archer wasn’t much of a talker or a writer. But he was a hell of a fighter. If Archer needed help, the danger was severe.
He glanced at the chronometer. Fifty minutes flight time to go. Rockson put the note away and lay back in the cracked leatherette pilot’s seat. His mind drifted to thoughts about his other friends. Detroit Green, the muscular black cannonball, his team’s grenade-throwing expert, had been promoted to ambassador by President Langford. Detroit had been sent off to Russia. He’d been there for two years now, as “Special Envoy With Extraordinary Powers.” Detroit could make policy and coordinate U.S. and Soviet cooperation. That cooperation specifically meant that both nations would endeavor to track down and bring to justice the renegades who were trying to rekindle the World War.
Rock had been there on that fateful day in Pattonville when President Langford, now old and confined to a wheelchair, had given Detroit Green the assignment. Thinking of that unlikely day, when the reluctant, muscular, black Freefighter was drafted for the diplomatic assignment, Rock smiled. Detroit had tried to wriggle out of the job. He only wanted to stay in the U.S. But Langford said they needed the most intelligent man they could find for the job, and Detroit was that man. What irony, Rockson thought. Now the chief assistant to Premier Vassily of the Soviet Union was Ruwanda Rahallah, also a black man. And with Vassily in a more-or-less permanent coma, and near death, Rahallah was really in charge over there. Thus two black men practically ran the world now. And there was peace, real peace, for the first time in over a hundred years. Peace for a world that hadn’t seen a cessation of conflict since the days of the Vikings!