The Styx Strikers

A Mecha Adventure Novel 

Jake is an adventurous young man, emigrating to a moon called Wayfarer to live with his cousins.  The moon has been terra-formed and is being colonized slowly using 31st century technology.  In the outback of Wayfarer, Jake and his friends explore a massive underground cave system near the ranch, finding something fascinating and dangerous in the caverns.  The equipment they find becomes essential, as the team is called upon to defend their community from a band of highly organized bandits.  The militaristic thugs are in the habit of raiding local outposts, stripping them of valuable equipment for sale on the black market of Wayfarer.  Armed with a lance of battle mechs, the raiders pose a formidable challenge to Jake and the colonists.  Jake and his team mount a secret offensive against the raiders in defense of their community. 

By Thor Zollinger, writer/musician/engineer at large.

 Download  Styx Strikers Chapters 1-6 1.29 MB pdf 

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 6:

“Hey, look.  There’s the sinkhole” Tarra interjected as the vehicles rounded the top of the hill and came to an abrupt stop twenty meters from the edge.  Jake was in the back seat of the Ripsaw tracked vehicle sitting beside Tarra. 

“Wow, that’s huge!” Jake exclaimed.  “It didn’t look that big from the air.  We’re repelling down inside of that?  Dang, that thing’s a kilometer across and five hundred meters down!”

“No!  It’s only a hundred meters down, Jake.  One hundred fifty meters or so of cable.  One hundred and fifty is the number you set into the Ascender so it stops just off the bottom. ”  Tarra clambered up out of the vehicle and walked over to the edge to look down.  Jake was right beside her.  He felt a little uneasy looking down over the abrupt edge into the maw of the massive sinkhole.  He could see a few birds circling their way up and down the thermals that existed in the air that rose up out of the sinkhole.  The air was moist and warm this time of year, making it easy for birds to move in and out.  Strange animal calls and screeches could be heard echoing up from below.

“What was that?” Jake asked after a particularly loud screech echoed it’s way up the walls.

“Probably just one of the birds.” Hai said finally, speaking in front of the girls for the first time on the safari.  He was a bit shy and didn’t really say much when there were girls around, but he was talking to Jake and not them after all.  “There are all kinds down there, they seem to like the way the sinkhole shelters them from the wind.  None of the bigger animals have seemed to figure out how to get down there from up here, we’ve never seen anything bigger than the small marsupials you see in the trees, no Lupes or Grizz.  We did find a skeleton of an ancient Grizz that fell in.  Not enough for them to eat down there anyway, I guess.”

Bjorn was now standing next to Jake at the edge of the precipice.  He pulled out his computer tablet and took a look at the thermal heat scan he could get off the satellite feed.  “No beasties in our vicinity.” he told Sven.  “Everything seems to have moved away from all the noise we made driving in.”

“Good, let’s get the cable set up and the gear ready to go down into the hole.”  The crew scattered in various directions to attack their individual tasks.  Ariel, who hadn’t gotten any directions, shrugged and followed Bjorn and Tarra back to the Ripsaw to see if she could help Tarra into the climbing harness like last time.  Jake wanted to watch Tarra go down into the hole, so he didn’t mind that Sven hadn’t given him any directions either.

“You’re going down first?” Jake gaped with an open mouth incredulously.

“Well, yah.” Tarra stared sternly back at him.  “I’m the best climber in the group, who did you think was going down first, one of those other goof balls?” she said pointing at Dan and Zane who were busy trying to whack each other with their jackets.  “Somebody has to go down and hook the cable to the stake so the rest of you can use the Ascenders.”

Tarra had the harness out of the storage locker in the side of the Ripsaw and slipped both legs through the straps, once she and Ariel got the thing straightened out.  “Here, help me get the shoulder straps in place, I’ve almost got the main buckle done up.”  Ariel untwisted the straps and laid them carefully over Tarra’s shoulders.  Tarra grabbed the ends and slipped each one into the correct buckles and snapped the cross straps into place across her chest.   She tensioned each one of the leg straps so they wouldn’t cut off the circulation in her legs while she was descending and yanked on the D-ring in the front to make sure she had everything set up just right. 

Sven had pulled a canvas bag out of the vehicle and was fishing some longer hexagonal aluminum devices with handles out of the bag.  Sven pointed out the button below the green numerical display to Jake.  “Press it once, then use the thumb wheel right here to set the display to 160m, then press the button again and it will stop flashing.  You unlock the clamshell using these two buttons, one on top and the other on the bottom, then the Ascender opens up like this.” Sven said while demonstrating.  “You slip the Ascender around the cable and close it.  Make sure you get the rollers in the grooves in the cable or it won’t close all the way, like this.  Slide this switch to set your direction using the arrows, then grab onto the handles and press both buttons at the same time to go up or down.  The harder you squeeze the faster you go.  Simple, huh.” 

Bjorn had the snap hook on the end of the winch cable and was slowly letting out enough cable to reach the edge of the chasm.  Tarra walked over to the end of the cable, snapped the hook onto her D-ring and inserted the detent pin that locked the snap into place so it wouldn’t open.  Backing towards the edge Tarra slipped on her climbing gloves and gave the thumbs up sign.  Bjorn handed her the winch remote and Tarra backed over the edge, letting out cable slowly as she held onto the cable with the other hand, walking backwards over the edge and into the opening.  She had begun the long descent down into the Spire sinkhole.


The book is up on, but was trimmed down in size by removing all of the pictures so it would meet the submission requirements, i.e. no illustrations. You can download all of the illustrations for the book using the link below.  

Available here on!

 Download  Styx Strikers - Picture Pack 4.95 MB pdf