Doomsday Warrior 13 - American Paradise

FREEDOM’S FIRES

A surprise Russian thermonuclear first strike nearly a century earlier had transformed the United States into a decimated wasteland, its people enslaved by rampaging hordes of brutal Soviet invaders. But one man has refused to allow the flames of freedom to flicker out. The ultimate champion of a lost democracy, he is Ted Rockson—the Doomsday Warrior!

From the ruined California coast, Rockson and his Freefighters set sail for a remote Pacific island. Rumor has it that the primitive inhabitants worship a strange and deadly idol—a gargantuan instrument of destruction stretching 150 stories into the sky. But now the terrifying weapon is in the clutches of a crazed Soviet officer intent on utilizing it to destroy forever the valiant struggle for America’s freedom.

Marked for ritual sacrifice by the superstitious islanders, the “Rock Team” must wrest control of the doomsday device from the hands of a bloodthirsty maniac. For if its awesome power is unleashed, the last hope for a reborn America will be trampled into the radioactive dust!

DOOMSDAY
WARRIOR

BLADES OF DEATH!

The two thick-set samurai were naked to the waist. They drew their glistening swords and shouted a challenge.

Ted Rockson reached for his shotpistol only to find an empty holster.
Lost the damn thing somewhere!
There was only one recourse, the long, heavy Katama sword he carried. He pulled it from his scabbard.

The Doomsday Warrior was not an expert at swordplay. But Chen had taught him a few lessons in the noble art in Century City’s gymnasium. Lessons that would be tested now, Rockson thought grimly, as the two samurai suddenly rushed forward swinging their razor-sharp blades over their heads like deadly twin scythes!

ZEBRA BOOKS

are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp.

475 Park Avenue South

New York, N.Y. 10016

ISBN: 0-8217-2338-3

Copyright © 1988 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: April 1988

Printed in the United States of America

Forward

A
merica was a strange and often frightening place one hundred and nine years after World War III. Radioactive deserts, killer dog packs and poisonous creeper vines now were the norm in a world gone mad.

The Red victors of the Nuke War were hard put to maintain their grip on the nation in such conditions. But to the Freefighters, led by a remarkable soldier of survival named Ted Rockson, this bizarre world was
home sweet home.
Rockson, known as the Doomsday Warrior, was the acknowledged leader of the battle against the Soviets.

Ted Rockson was six feet two, tan and musclar, and
hard.
His long, black hair with the mutant’s white streak in the middle was thrown back over his shoulders. His mismatched aqua and ultramarine eyes were steady and keen. He was a born leader and a stubborn go-it-alone individual. And above all, he had a fierce hatred of tyrants.

Rock, as the Freefighters called him, carried a versatile balisong knife in his belt; there was a twelve-gauge shotpistol in his right holster, and a snub-nosed Liberator submachine gun slung over his arm.

Operating out of a hidden fortress city in the Rocky Mountains, Rockson led his Rock team on mission after mission against the enemy.

The team consisted of the cream of the crop of Century City’s awesome fighters for freedom:

1) Detroit – a bull-necked, ebony man with a pitching arm that could strike out any inter-free-city home run hitter, or eliminate a Red bunker fortification. He carried twenty of his “pineapples” on crisscrossed bandoliers on his chest. Detroit was also an expert anthropologist—a necessary skill in a postnuke America with a thousand bizarre, isolated cultures.

2) Chen – the pencil-moustached, wirey, Chinese-American martial arts expert. He carried a belt load of
shuriken,
star-knives, for throwing. Chen often sparred with Rockson, the only man that could win so much as a draw against him. He hated formality and often wore a mocking grin when people spoke but said little himself.

3) Archer – an immense, black-bearded mountain man. Rockson had found him sinking in a quicksand pool while Rock was out on a mission. He saved the near-mute, and Archer had repaid him in kind many times. Archer preferred isolation to company. He lived deep in the twisting maze of conduits under Century City and was loathe to wear a khaki uniform like the others. Instead, he lived and slept in a bearskin outfit. You could overlook his smell, because Archer had a homemade titanium alloy bow and a set of arrows that could pierce a six-inch armor plate.

4) Scheransky – a blond Soviet defector, the technical expert. He was the most recent addition to the team. Scheransky carried the standard Liberator, plus a Czar’s bludgeon. He wore a pair of pearl-handled .44 revolvers—a gift from Dr. Schecter, Century City’s chief scientist, for Scheransky’s assistance to him.

5) McCaughlin – a bear of a man, nearly as bulky as Archer. But in all other ways he was the opposite. He had a neatly trimmed, reddish beard and a crisp uniform. He was talkative and gregarious, with a special penchant for the ladies. The crew-cut fighter was also a passable trail cook and a humorist. He was a must on all missions, for when the going got rough, McCaughlin’s wit got going! Plus he was, like the others, a crack shot.

There was no stopping these determined men. With Rockson in the lead, surely AMERICA WOULD RISE AGAIN!

One

F
og
. Endless fog. That was the way it had been for two days now, once the Rock team left the heights of the Sierra Nevada and descended to the barren valley of California. Rockson was hoping they would reach the coast soon. All the men—Archer, Scheransky, McCaughlin, Detroit and even Chen who was noted for his patience—were getting restless. Maybe restless wasn’t the word. They were almost driven crazy now by the monotony, the silence. And the moisture was rotting everything: their clothing, packs, even their well-worn boots. This sullen evenness, this blindness, was worse on the nerves than the shaking and quaking of the “Unstable Lands” of Nevada, which had sent the men’s sturdy ’brid mounts down into suddenly gaping crevasses, along with most of their ammunition. The six men survived to tramp on toward the Pacific waters. Six sullen, sodden men in moods so sour Rockson felt they didn’t need any weapons, they would spit acid at anything that bothered them!

Most of all, he didn’t like being in fog in unknown territory. In the Rockies there were dangers galore, but he knew the dangers. Here—who knew whether an innocent-looking bush had mutated into a grabbing thing that would yank you off your feet and digest you?

As he sloshed through inches-deep mud at the head of the column, barely able to see six feet ahead of him, Rockson thought back to how this expedition had begun: He had been deep in Century City’s underground archives. Historical researchers had unearthed a video tape from the nuclear war, and though it was 109 years old, they managed to restore it. It was a recording by Shiela Martin—one of the underground city’s founders. Rockson had placed the tape in an antique VCR and had been watching it for a half hour. Martin, on the tape, was reporting to the third council meeting regarding a drilling operation that had resulted in the second of the many levels of Century City being completed. Rock had been amazed to actually see and hear this woman of legend and was deeply absorbed. Then the annoying interruption came.

It was old man Rath, the hawk-nosed intelligence chief, who brought word of the faint, garbled radio broadcast from one of the most far-flung groups of Freefighters—the Surfcombers—in California. The message was something about a new weapon about to fall into Soviet hands. Rath made Rock turn off the precious tape and demanded that Rock “quit this foolishness” and secure that weapon. He produced a document ordering Rock to do so, a resolution by the council.

Now here he was, his hat brim dripping water in his face, Rock’s expression set in a constant grimace, battling fatigue and rot.

Rockson’s left boot suddenly touched something gritty; he looked down and saw that there was sand under his feet. He called a halt to the column and stood still, listening to a low roar.

“What do you make of that?” asked the bullnecked, muscular black man, trying to peer through the dense fog.

“Detroit,” Rock replied, “I—think it’s the roar of
surf!”

They walked forward slowly, inhaling pungent salt air as the fog parted. They
were
on a beach. Ahead was the Pacific Ocean, breakers and all.

McCaughlin came up alongside the Doomsday Warrior.

“Well I’ll be, Rock. Are we at our destination?”

“Not sure . . .” Rock replied. “We’re on the coast, obviously, but maybe too far north or south. Chen, take a reading on the geo-locator.”

Now that the sun shone palely through the clouds, the mini-sextant-gyrocompass device could be set down on its tripod in the sand to determine their position. That was exactly what the martial-arts expert proceeded to do. When he threw the switch, there were a few beeps, and a red readout appeared on the globular six-inch device.

“We’re twelve miles too far north—not bad,” Chen reported.

“Well, let’s get trekking then,” their leader said.

Chen scooped up the geo-locator, snapped its tripod shut and put it back in his rucksack. The weary men, buoyed by being so near their goal, walked down the beach with a bit of their old spirit.

After a while, Rock looked back. One man was missing. “Hold it,” he ordered. “Let’s go back, Archer’s disappeared.”

They found him way down the beach, bending over.

“Archer,
stop picking up seashells,” Rock admonished. “We can’t carry those around!”

“Pretty!” the giant replied sheepishly. “Meee liike!”

“Oh, all right, but just the small ones.”

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