A Late Dinner

Freshly cut grass.

That was the first smell Ransom remembered. The sweet, overpowering aroma of freshly cut grass. The intoxicating power that intruded on the senses and lulled the mind, a feeling of content fatigue washing over the body.

Then slowly the sunlight of the day broke through to him. The warm glow in the mid-afternoon sun graced his waking self as he lay in the grass. Gently, Ransom pushed himself to his feet, blades of green tumbling from his back and his hair.

The sound of moving water met him next, all his senses finally opening. The trickling orchestra danced over the rocks of a river bed, clear and bright.

"Where am I?" he asked himself as he surveyed the lush countryside that greeted him. It was an alien world, like Terra, only different. The grass was green, the trees were brown and the sky was blue. There were no mushrooms casting shade on the banks of the river, there were no shards of steel sprouting from the ground, and there were no cities. No towns. No people. No roads, no pathways, no farms, no animals, no sentient life to be seen.

But then it came.

Barks of rifles, plumes of black smoke and the stench of gunpowder. Shouts and screams as soldiers died and charged, small balls of lead striking the chests of the defenders and attackers. Canon balls reigning from artillery positions, a nearby explosion sending ransom flying into the dirt.

The grass was long and wild, many parts splashed with red blood. The sun was blocked by the clouds of rifle smoke, and the air was warm with death and cold with violence.

"How did I get here?" he said to himself as he pushed himself to his feet again and dashed for cover. "Time travel?"

He chanced a peek beyond his cover. "Dimensional travel?" he said breathlessly as he caught a glimpse of a large mechanised exo-skeleton mowing down several soldiers carrying flinklock rifles.

And then, before his eyes, a naked Jaxx leapt from safe cover to tackle the killing robot head on.

"Ah yes," Ransom said to himself, "This is beginning to make sense."

Jaxx fought viciously, the chained beast within him being released in a lustful rage against the machine. But Ransom could see there was something different about him, something wrong. He was too good, too skillful. Too strong, too fast.

That was not Jaxx.

The mech bent backwards as the sheer might of Jaxx was laid upon it. The two were evenly matched, and neither would be giving in. Jaxx's fervent devotion to Eve was matched by the robot's cold and hard programming. The strength and power caused destruction around them. Soldiers were killed, walls were toppled and many Dwarfers had closer calls than they needed.

No ammunition available to the defending Americans would be able to damage the metal skin of the attacker. The simple lead bullets bounced off the surface, leaving only minor scratches and dents.

But there was a weakness.

The join between the leg, the lengths of cable and servos that powered the machine's walk were barely visible underneath plates of armour. They would be weak enough for a bullet, maybe even a blade, to cut through.

Jaxx took another swing at the mechanoid, sending its the Gatling cannon in a spin that racked the walls with bullets. Several soldiers that were shooting from cover, Ransom couldn't tell if they were Mexican or American, were cut down brutally, their weapons thrown across the ground.

Their weapons.

Ransom was not a known for his marksmanship abilities. Guns were almost an alien concept to him, and he had never shot one in true anger before. No, he was more content to sit and work out his problems in a manner more befitting a scientist. But desperate times...

He dived over to the rifle. It was a Baker rifle, a British flintlock weapon and one of the most accurate of the time. Not that he knew that.

Praying that it was already loaded, Ransom lifted the weapon to his shoulder, pressing the but of the gun firmly against his arm. Pulling the cock back, he took aim.


The gun thumped into Ransom's shoulder as the bullet thundered out of the weapon. Smoke clouded his vision, he couldn't tell if it had hit.

But it had.

Jaxx, seizing the opportunity, pounced on the stricken robot, one leg now fixed in position. A fist lunged into the main computer bank of the robot, the shark-man tearing out motherboards and RAM cards.

They had won.

A cheer echoed around the battle as thankful soldiers saw the invincible beast topple to the ground, the brain clutched in Jaxx's hand.

Ransom tossed away the gun slumped against the wall, exhausted and tired.

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