Chapter 36:

We Were Soldiers (Jack versus Colonel Ripper)


Jack ran up the tower block staircase leading to the Control Room. Dead Patriots, servicemen,  scientists, and engineers were everywhere. He panted. Of all the locations to go, he’d had to pick the one with stairs.Bookmark here

A giant burning wooden man floated up beside him. It was Wicker Man, his Spirit Beast. ‘IF YOU HAD A HEALTHIER DIET, THIS WOULD BE MUCH EASIER.’Bookmark here

‘Shut up, mom,’ said Jack.Bookmark here

Wicker Man floated away.Bookmark here

Jack reached the top floor and kicked open the door to the Control Room. Colonel Ripper was standing in the centre of a room full of beige computers with his hands behind his back. Scientists and engineers with missing fingers were lying around crying. Bookmark here

‘It’s too late, Jack,’ said Colonel Ripper. ‘These eggheads just gave me everything I need. The nuclear warheads are launching from the Nuclear Cooling Tower in T-minus ten minutes. I advise you to be in a nuclear bunker before that.’Bookmark here

‘It’s not too late,’ said Jack. ‘I can cause enough damage to the nukes to keep them from launching.’Bookmark here

‘That might cause them to explode onsite.’Bookmark here

Jack shrugged. ‘Beats World War III.’Bookmark here

‘I can’t let you stop me, Jack.’Bookmark here

‘Why are you doing this? You know this could end the world.’Bookmark here

‘I’d rather end the world than let the communists win. I lost too many good men in Vietnam to let that happen. You’re a soldier; you understand.’ Bookmark here

Jack nodded. ‘I understand how you feel, but I disagree with your methods. I think we can settle the Cold War—all wars—peacefully through negotiation. I’ve decided that if I survive all this, I’m going to become a war dove at the GOP.’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper laughed. ‘You’re nuttier than a five-pound fruitcake, but that’s what I’ve always liked about you. It’s a beautiful dream, Jack. Impossible, but beautiful. I suppose what our disagreement really comes down to is a young man’s optimism versus an old man’s cynicism.’Bookmark here

‘I suppose it does.’Bookmark here

They stood looking at each other in admiration for a moment.Bookmark here

‘Shall we?’ said Jack.Bookmark here

‘Let’s,’ said Colonel Ripper.Bookmark here

‘Zone: Wildfire.’ Jack caught fire. Bookmark here

‘Zone: Bomb.’ Little explosions rippled across Colonel Ripper’s body.Bookmark here

A hail of bullets ripped through the room. Missiles tore the roof off. A dozen Army attack helicopters were firing at the tower block. The scientists and engineers got cut to ribbons.Bookmark here

Jack and Colonel Ripper began a ferocious melee with their fire axe and buzzsaw. The fire and explosions they discharged destroyed the attack helicopters one by one. Colonel Ripper quickly overpowered Jack and disarmed him.Bookmark here

Got to think of something quick!Bookmark here

An attack helicopter rushed in all guns blazing.Bookmark here

Oh, that’s the last thing I need! No, wait!Bookmark here

Jack leapt up as the attack helicopter flew overhead, caught it by the tail, and swung its spinning rotor blades down on Colonel Ripper. Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper’s chest burst open. Bookmark here

He fell. Bookmark here

The attack helicopter spun to the ground below and exploded. Bookmark here

Jack picked up his fire axe and aimed it at the Nuclear Cooling Tower. ‘Zone Special: Fire Devil!’ Bookmark here

He threw his fire axe, which transformed into a flaming tornado.Bookmark here

‘Zone Special: Blockbuster!’ said Colonel Ripper. Bookmark here

He swung his roaring buzzsaw up at the flaming tornado and produced a giant explosion to intercept it.Bookmark here

The resulting blast hit Jack like a freight train, racked his body with pain, and sent him flying across the power plant.Bookmark here

Darkness.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

When Jack recovered, he was a bloody mess lying on the grasslands surrounding Blackfoot Nuclear Power Plant. The blast had destroyed much of the Nuclear Cooling Tower. By some miracle, the nuclear warheads hadn’t launched or exploded.Bookmark here

Thank God, Jack's eyes filled with tears. Thank you for your service, Colonel.Bookmark here

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