Authors: Ryder Stacy
One hundred years after Russia’s lightning World War III victory, America struggles out of the radioactive rubble to throw off the shackles of Soviet domination. Leading the American rebels in their most desperate hour is the ultimate soldier of survival, the Doomsday Warrior himself. Ted Rockson. But even Rockson cannot escape the carnage and—badly injured—the Russians pluck him from the bloody battlefield to add him to their slave labor force.
The Soviets don’t know that they’ve captured the famous Ted Rockson. And Rockson, suffering a loss of memory, dreams along with the other wretched Americans of the famous Doomsday Warrior who might someday save them from their slavery. But somewhere in his subconscious, in his soul, Rockson’s true self fights to emerge. And when it does, his lack of weapons won’t stop him from striking a smashing blow against the enemy—or die bringing glory to the name of the . . .
ON THE BRINK OF DEATH
The WHITE FAN came at Rockson spinning the now opened fan in front of him like a toreador’s cape, creating a dizzying blur of white. And again the Doomsday Warrior felt the seemingly harmless implement slam into him. Shots hit his face and throat and stomach in an unending barrage of blows sending Rock reeling backward as if he had been struck by a cannon shell. He fell down, landing on his back, not even able to soften the blow with his arms. He could feel his consciousness going out like a fading lightbulb. He had never felt so awkward, so humiliated. He couldn’t even touch the man. All his years of training, of fighting, meant nil against one of the last living Masters.
Rock tried to rise from a sitting position and found his body barely responding to his commands. Even flesh and muscle as toughened as Rockson’s had its limits. He wasn’t a superman—just a man—and a very mortal one at that.
are published by
Kensington Publishing Corp.
475 Park Avenue South
New York, N.Y. 10016
Copyright © 1985 by Ryder Stacy
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: September 1985
Printed in the United States of America
field of death. A field of blood and rotting flesh. Where once had grown brilliant flowers and lush trees now lay only broken human stems with blood-red flowers of torn arms and shattered skulls. Where once had been what men called beauty was now just ugliness and decay. Nature in her harmony creates life, color, motion—things reaching up toward perfection. It is left to the creation called man to create her antithesis—black stillness in which twisted, broken things sink down into the ground in pools of festering poison.
Forrester Valley, where just the day before the battle had raged between the Freefighting forces of Century City and an invading Russian-controlled Nazi army of nearly a quarter of a million men. Every Freefighter had been prepared to die—and had fully expected to as their 10,000 man force was vastly outnumbered by the Nazi forces. Yet in the midst of the darkest hours—a miracle. The Glowers, the hideously ugly mutant race whose bodies glowed with a deadly blue flame and whose minds with their telepathic powers were capable of healing—or killing—had arrived just when all seemed lost. As the German troops and heavy equipment had surged across the valley floor bent on complete annihilation of the Freefighters, the Glowers’ huge sandships had appeared out of nowhere and tore into the ranks of the Nazis. They had unleashed the totality of their mental death—creating terrifying hallucinations in the Germans’ minds. Whatever they feared most they had suddenly seen before them—and in striking out in their blind terror—had decimated one another. The dirty work had been done by their own foul unconscious memories and evil deeds, as they were literally consumed by their private nightmares. Within minutes the plains between the two low mountain ranges of the valley had been turned into an immense grave of bloody flesh and smoking white hot metal. Then the Glowers had disappeared as quickly as they had come, vanishing into the swirling clouds of mist at the far end of the Valley.
The Germans had pulled back in hysterical retreat—those who were still alive. Nearly 70% of their army had been destroyed—the supposedly invincible German military broken as easily as a twig. The Freefighting forces had stood up on their camouflaged mountain-top firing positions and cheered. Century City was saved and a blow had been struck for America’s freedom that would ring throughout the land. They had quickly pulled back, wanting to vanish into the Colorado Rockies before reconnaissance planes could track them back to the hidden subterranean Century City. But many brave fighters had died that day and though victorious, the Freefighters limped back through the thick pine forests, carrying their wounded comrades-in-arms.
Even in victory one can suffer devastating losses. Nearly half of their fighting men had been killed. Century City itself had been nearly destroyed by a neutron bomb that had landed on Ice Mountain, the peak just to the north of Century City’s own Carson Mountain—beneath which C.C. had been built. And though none of them yet knew it, perhaps the greatest catastrophe of all—for as Ted Rockson and Rona Wallender stood looking at the destruction, one of a final volley of tank shells from the retreating Germans went off right next to them, blasting both into the air. They lay side by side, badly hurt, unconscious in the midst of the plateau filled with the dead and dying bodies of German and American fighters. Death walked in his dark robes that night, searching among the fallen warriors for those who were ready to be taken down into his dark domain.
But even death, which takes the souls of things, leaves behind their lifeless, discarded shells. The forces of nature move in quickly to devour the putrid refuse, to turn it back into the stuff of life. As the bodies slowly cooled, as their hearts stopped and their brains which had once thought and loved, turned into a rotting mush, nature’s first line of scavengers—microbes and bacteria rushed in to eat their fill. They dug into the hardening flesh with microscopic shovel-like teeth, ripping out infinitesimal bites again and again. Then came the larger flesh-eaters—flies and wasps taking their due, depositing their eggs inside the corpses so that their own young might hatch and eat their way out into a forbidding world. Then the wolves and wild dogs appeared, furtively edging closer, circling the dead with wild red eyes until they were sure that no danger was present, no men with their sticks that spoke loud death.
Then they lunged forward with desperate hunger, their fanged jaws ripping out whole chunks of flesh, dismembering the dead Nazis and Americans as they chewed away fiercely on their joints—knees, shoulders, ankles, then running off with their bloody dinners, trailing veins and chunks of human meat. Within 18 hours of the battle for Forrester Valley that had been responsible for this vast graveyard, every corpse was being attacked, mutilated, eaten.
At last the human predators arrived. Dark men with equally dark robes that fell to their ankles, rushing among the fallen fighters, searching for any that still lived, any that would fill their needs—Slave Traders—peddlers in human flesh. Flesh that still functioned, flesh that could be sold to live out their wretched lives in factories and work gangs. And here and there among the cold dead they found what they sought—men, bloodied, grievously wounded—but still among the world of the living. They smashed at the groaning, fallen fighters rudely awakening them from their dark dreams into an even darker reality, hitting them with clubs, kicking them with steel-tipped boots, until they were forced against their own will into consciousness. The Slave Traders rushed over the three mile-wide plateau that looked down over the center of the Valley where the largest battle of the post-nuke world had just taken place and gathered their crops. What the grim reaper had sowed with a bloody scythe, they now gathered. The fruits of destruction.
Something was smashing him in the face. The blows jarring him like the screaming gong of an immense brass bell, shaking his skull so violently he could feel his brain slamming up against the curved bone. He tried to raise his arms which felt leaden and dead to protect himself, but this only increased the force of the blows against his temple and cheek and mouth. His eyes one violet, one aquamarine, opened to the blinding light of the sun ripping into them like razor blades, slicing his pupils, making him cry out in pain. He tried to roll to the side to avoid the continuing barrage of blows as his eyes quickly adjusted to the burning white bulb of the sun hovering over the trees that dotted the near mountains. Suddenly the flaming orb was blotted out by a dark angular-faced man, wearing a long black robe. The man kicked out again with his long leg.
“Up, up vomitous cur,” the attacker screamed down from high above in heavily foreign-accented English. A gnarled cane came soaring down attached to the end of the dark man’s hand and hit the wounded man on the shoulder, sending waves of sharp pain through it. The man on the ground tried to gather himself but everything was just a swirling dream of pain and incomprehension.
Where was he? Who was he?
He felt as if he had been falling down an endless pit so black that nothing could be seen. Nothing. And now . . . Now he must survive. Whatever was happening to him, the instinctive urge to survive was supreme. He rose to one knee and then shakily stood up as his attacker let fly with one more furious smash with the oak cane darkened with a thousand coatings of blood to a dark, violent purple.
“Over there,” the voice above screamed out shrilly, pointing to the right with the tip of the 7.2mm Turgenev service revolver he held in his other hand. The aching, wounded man looked over, his eyesight at last coming into a clear focus. Lines of men, their torn and bleeding bodies covered with tattered Freefighter uniforms oozing with swatches of bright red, were being herded along by others of the dark stubble-faced men, each garbed in the same dark robes as his attacker. The man looked around as he stood to his full height; every nerve, every cell in his body aching as if they were on fire. There had obviously been a battle of some sort here—and recently. Stiff corpses dotted the crater-pocked ground, their skin pale as the moon, their eyes and tongues already eaten away by lines of large red ants. The wounded man looked down as he nearly stumbled. He was standing in a black-charred blast crater himself. He must have been lying there when the first blows hit. But before—what was before? He searched frantically in his mind for anything, anything that would tell him