Doomsday Warrior 17 - America’s Sword (3 page)

BOOK: Doomsday Warrior 17 - America’s Sword
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ockson fired—at the rats. He knew he could never take his own life. It wasn’t part of his soul. He’d go out fighting, biting at the little bastards as they did the same to him. Not that he didn’t have trepidations to say the least. The final shot blasted through the wall of squealing fur that was coming at him and sent a good fifty of the carnivores shooting off like bloody meteors through the dust-choked room, hurtling into the distance where he could hear them slam against the wall. And then there were more squeals of pain, and of hunger. But it hardly seemed to slow the advancing ranks down. They seemed to be losing their fear of the weapon, not that the meat-eaters had a whole lot of fear built into their natures.

One of them suddenly leaped at his face from out of the dimness and Rockson somehow managed to whip the front of the pistol up, catching the thing on the side of the head so that it whimpered and flew sideways. But there were more where he came from. An army more. Another jumped, then another. One of them got in on the side of his face and took a nice bite right out of his cheek. Rockson let out with an involuntary yelp and shook his head wildly trying to dislodge it, though he could only move inches from side to side.

Suddenly he thought he heard something. A voice, several voices. Then above the squealing all around the room, scraping. He was sure of it. Men. They were digging him out. God was good to him today. If he could hang on . . .

“Don’t fire at us,” a voice that sounded like Detroit’s screamed out. “Who’s down there? We heard some shots. Is that you, Rock? Who’s there?” The voice sounded frightened, not for its owner, but for the fact that Rock might in fact be in there smashed to pulp beneath the fallen ceiling. He heard debris being frantically pulled about twenty feet off, shovels clanking cement and stone.

“Yeah, baby, it’s me,” the Doomsday Warrior screamed back as the rats hesitated from all the commotion. “And you better hurry, ’cause I got me some rats in here who are eyeing my face like they haven’t been fed since before the big war.”

“It’s Detroit, Chief,” the voice screamed back with real joy in the words. “Okay, man, we’re coming in,” the voice shouted through the fog of dust which still hung everywhere. “Just don’t fire. Hang in there. We’re sending in a little company while we try to reach you.” Rockson couldn’t figure out just what the hell kind of company that might be, since he couldn’t remember someone skinny as a pole who could fit in the crevices and little snaky tunnels that were all he could see around him.

The rats sensed the newly arrived guests almost instantly. Even the little bastard with its teeth flared back ready for a quick bite at Rockson’s face. And as Rock saw the first of them coming out of the dust mist his face brightened as if the sun were shining through. Cats—big suckers, too! Cats that the rescue squads must have pulled up from the sub-levels where they had patrolled against rats and mice for years. The rats around Rockson, even though they outnumbered the prowling felines by hundreds to one, didn’t exactly fancy facing off with any of these extra large mutant creatures, which had been bred for decades for their size and fearlessness and for their claws the size of mountain cats’ claws!

There was hissing and snarling everywhere in the half-darkness that was lit fractionally here and there by beams from the lanterns. Men were digging through the hell zone toward him. A huge tom that looked more like a small dog than a feline came tearing straight at Rockson’s face.

“Nice kitty,” he announced, hoping the thing didn’t think he was an oversized rat. At the last instant the forty-pound ball of muscle and teeth and claws leaped right up so that its tail whipped over his nose. It grabbed the rat which had been again thinking of doing something nasty to Rockson’s cheek and snapped its neck. There was a cracking sound like a chicken bone breaking, then more of the snapping noises all around him, as the cats tore mercilessly through the ranks of would-be Rockson-eaters. The rats ran in every direction. Just survival was on their little minds.

“Where the hell are you, pal?” Detroit screamed out as Rockson heard sounds just a few yards off now and saw the lanterns, lights mounted on the crews’ hardhats, illuminating the area where Rockson was trapped.

“Here, baby, over here,” Rockson said, his face lit up like a Hawaiian sun at having survived. He slammed with the side of the pistol against a chunk of chair-sized concrete at the end of his outstretched arm. Rock could see the huge piece of smashed concrete right in front of him being lifted.

A bearded giant swung it around, and his eyes lit up to see what he’d uncovered.

“ROOCCKSSOON!” the huge near-mute bellowed out, dropping the concrete block to the side so the whole floor seemed to shake. Rock was never so glad to see an ugly, hairy face.

“Hey, easy pal,” Detroit said, coming up behind him. “You almost got me on that last load!”

Archer’s face couldn’t stop grinning as he reached down to help Rock.

“Careful!” Detroit chastised the giant, pulling Archer back by the shoulder. “We’ve got to move slow so that we don’t dislodge any of this junk piled atop him. Damn, mister, you’ve got a moving truck worth of jagged debris up here. How this bed frame held up I’ll never know. Don’t move.”

“I ain’t going nowhere,” Rock grunted back.

They carefully took the pieces off him. Even with the giant and the black man with one bionic arm, it was tough work. Still, within just minutes they had almost the whole bed uncovered, the debris thrown to the side. Then came the bed frame which Archer lifted by himself and threw several yards.

“You okay, man?” Detroit asked, leaning down on one knee and handing Rockson some water from a canteen and a wet compress for his eyes. Rockson sat up and took them both thankfully, drinking a few deep slugs to clear his throat of the grime and slunk. Then he flushed his eyes out and wiped his face clean. And he felt vaguely like something that was starting to resemble a man again.

“What the hell happened?” he asked as he handed the supplies back to Detroit and started to rise. “Was it a—?”

“Quake, huge one. Seven point three on the Richter scale; epicentered only twenty, maybe thirty miles from here. All things considered—we were lucky the whole damned place wasn’t 100 percent destroyed.”

“Damn,” Rockson fell back to the floor as his foot seemed to give out. Archer caught him in midflight.

“What’s wrong, Rock?” Detroit asked, anxiously, as he reached out an arm to support his field-commander.

“My fucking foot, I think it’s broken or something,” Rock said angrily.

“There’s an emergency med-unit about a hundred yards behind us in the junction. They can fix it.”

“How bad is it?” Rock asked as he hobbled along with Detroit’s arm supporting him on one side.

“It’s pretty damn bad,” Detroit replied, “But well, you’ll see.”

Rock looked around. Everything they passed was like his quarters—collapsed, covered in sheets of dust. Subbasement real estate that wasn’t worth diddly-shit any more.

“It’s not this bad everywhere,” the black Freefighter went on. “The main science chambers and much of the hospital are okay. The archives and library are supposedly fixable. Beyond that, I don’t know.”

Rockson winced and asked, “How many dead?”

Detroit sounded like he didn’t want to answer. “A lot,” he whispered.

“The President, Kim, Rona . . .” Rockson suddenly blurted out, a look of open fear on his face.

“We’re looking man,” Detroit said. “Once we get you taken care of, we’ll be out again. Here we are,” he said, as the two half-stumbled into the makeshift emergency treatment center.

It looked bad, all right. Bodies were piled on one side of the large chamber where all the tunnel systems of that level met in the middle and ramps ran up and down to the other twenty levels of the subterranean “Freefighting city.” Many were not alive—crushed beyond recognition. Only the fact that all the citizenry were identifiable both from finger and DNA holographs as well as from dental charts would enable anyone to I.D. them later. Some were crushed to pulp, just pieces of hands and tongues sticking out of the bloody piles of human horror. But they would all be identified, every last poor bastard of them.

Rock could hardly stand the screams as they entered the chamber. M.D.’s and nurses were operating right on the cots in the chamber. IV tubes, penicillin shots, and oxygen were being given out at a frantic rate by whoever was hobbling around. Bones were broken everywhere, some men’s limbs hanging at grotesque angles. It was a mess, that was damn sure.

They somehow found Rock a cot and a doctor came rushing over, seeing who it was. Rank did have its privileges.

“Gonna split, man,” Detroit said as soon as he saw Rockson was in the right hands. “Don’t have time to talk when there’s so much—”

Rock waved him on, not even wanting to talk. Archer came grumbling on behind the black man as they headed out to search for more survivors.

“What’s up, Rock?” the doctor asked, as he stopped just in front of the Doomsday Warrior.

“My left foot, Doc. Think I might have mashed it up good in the collapse.”

“Well, let me take a look.” The doctor began removing the boot and Rockson winced in pain. “I’ll have to cut the boot off,” the doc said, taking out a small laser-saw, one of Shecter’s inventions. He sliced through the thick leather in an instant, not touching a hair on Rockson’s calf or leg. He removed the boot and looked down at the foot, then turned it slightly a few inches in each direction as Rock yelped.

“Yeah, it’s a break.” He took out a hypo-pad and stabbed the ankle and foot with it a few times.

“Multishot,” the doctor commented. “Has every antibiotic, vitamin, numbing and healing agent known to man. Should stop infection from setting in.” He sprayed all the wounds over with a thin layer of plastic medicine which hardened to a rubberlike texture. Then he made a small cast, taking what looked like a construction caulking gun. He squeezed the trigger and a thick, goopy mess came out over Rock’s foot. Before it hardened, the doc pulled Rock’s foot into proper position.

“Instant cast,” he said, looking down with a thin smile. Rock looked down at the doctor’s handiwork. It had already hardened before his eyes. But though Rockson was happy enough to still have his foot, he could see the injury was going to slow him down.

“How long before I can get up on it?” Rock asked.

“Maybe give it twenty minutes and it’ll reach max-strength. After that, you’ll have to keep it on at least two weeks. Then just cut it off. I’ll give you one of those laser-cutters; it will make it easy.”

“Have you heard anything about the President? Kim? Rona?” Rockson asked, anxious again.

“Nothing yet! But Rockson, the quake’s less than a few hours old. They’re still finding survivors. Depends on where—”

“Yeah, relax,” Rockson said with a sneer, though he knew the doctor meant well. “Thanks for the quick fix.”

The Doomsday Warrior jumped down from the cot, once he saw that the foot cast had hardened enough to take his weight. He felt a numb throbbing, but at least he could move.

He hobbled through streams of wounded. It was like another nuclear bomb had gone off. And Rockson felt even his spirit sag somewhere deep inside. So much destruction after so many years of labor and love spent to build it all up. It had been a beautiful city, the pride of all of America’s Freefighting hidden cities. And now . . . nothing but the broken, the dying and dead.


hat evening, around crude kerosine lanterns spread out on a huge square table, about fifty men sat with deeply pensive expressions on their faces. Men whose eyes all looked like they had just been given a glimpse of hell, and would just as soon not have seen it. Not when it was their own wives and children, their own homes that had been squashed to human paste and ripped, destroyed, pummeled out of existence.

“So what’s the worst of it, Dr. Shecter?” Rockson asked as the rest of the top science, military and intelligence brass of the city listened intently.

“Well, we’ve thrown everything into a computer as all readings and data are coming back,” the white-haired, pipe-smoking Shecter, genius of Century City’s futuristic projects, said. Over the last thirty years, invention after invention had spewed out of him. People depended on Shecter for solutions. “We already know the medical casualties. Out of a population of what was last recorded at 45,678, we have at least nineteen thousand dead and another ten thousand wounded. The rest of the population is in basically good shape . . .”

They all shook their heads for the hundredth time since they had met to figure out what to do about the future of Century City.

“But in its own terrible way, the loss of equipment—though it’s cruel to say it—is even more of a catastrophe,” the chief scientist went on to say, with total surety in his voice. “The quake ripped our power generators, and our transmission equipment has been cut to shreds. Connectors, coils, magnets, all ruined. We’re running on emergency right now,” he said, “for the hospitals, air pumps, pure water and a few other vital areas. Otherwise the city is virtually in the dark. To get C.C. functioning again must be our priority number one objective. My computer men can draw up a list of needed supplies and we can send to the neighboring free cities for—”

“I think we should devote our main energies to defense,” General Trasner spoke up firmly from across the dust-coated conference table, which had been set up in a meeting room that had been cleared of debris. “We’re extremely vulnerable right now. If attacked by anything from Reds to cannibal hordes, we would have some real problems.”

“Medical is the first priority,” Surgeon Landers raised his voice. “I must represent the sick and wounded who need constant attention, blood transfusions, food . . .” They all began speaking at once, until Rockson spoke up, his voice booming over theirs for a moment. Although each man had an ego as big as the sun, all deferred to Rockson. The Doomsday Warrior was a name known throughout America; he was the shining hope for the starving masses at the mercy of the Reds. His presence was no less powerful in real life as it was in the growing legends around his deeds.

BOOK: Doomsday Warrior 17 - America’s Sword
4.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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