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The Forever Quest by Craig Robertson (The Forever Series 4) Book

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The Forever Quest by Craig Robertson (The Forever Series 4) Read Book Online And Download

Overview: Life is the cure for happiness. Someone always wants what you have. If you have a lot to lose, you better watch your back very closely. Jon Ryan has lived two centuries. He has save humanity, bested hostile alien races, and helped create an ideal society on a new world. He should be able to rest for the first time in centuries, and enjoy the fruits of his labor. But, he's never been that lucky.

There's an alternate time-line version of Jon out there somewhere, one who suffered the loss of his species. Jon must find his duplicate who's lost in time and space. He must ease his pain. Along the way, an immensely evil man allies with an unbelievably vicious race to end the humanity once and for all. Jon must also decide if he believes in magic. There is truly no rest for the weary.

As the chances of failure skyrocket, can one good man stand against unbeatable odds one more time?

The Forever Quest by Craig Robertson (The Forever Series 4) Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
The Forever Quest by Craig Robertson (The Forever Series 4) Book

The Forever Quest by Craig Robertson (The Forever Series 4) Book Read Online Chapter One

I was nursing a drink in Peg’s Bar Nobody in the far-left corner under the broken Coors Light sign. It was dump on the outskirts of one of the three towns established on the farmship, Granger. Those were the cored-out asteroids dedicated exclusively to food production. Each worldship in the fleet was designed completely self-sufficient, including food production. The farmships were designed as backup food producers. They also afforded us the opportunities to have some bounty and a little luxury.

Farmships were big, smelly, sparsely populated, and most of all, isolated. They were how I pictured Old West towns. Tough, coarse, and populated with hard-working folks who kept to themselves and were leery of strangers. Perfect by me. I discretely negotiated a landing spot on Granger and could come with complete anonymity. No panicky, needy politicians dogging my every step. No gaggle of sycophants, male and female, eager to garner favor with the one guy who owned an intergalactic cube. I needed none of that.

I became chummy with Peg pretty quickly. She was my kind of gal. Four feet eleven in shoes, two hundred fifty pounds, and a vocabulary that would make a Marine Corp sergeant blush. She was barkeep, cook, and bouncer all rolled up into one big old bowling ball of spit and vinegar. When I say cook, I mean the bar served food that was above room temperature. You had to be a special kind of hungry to dine at Peg’s. Most people in the fleet tried to take soy protein and make it taste like meat. She took meat and managed to make it taste like the soy protein you wished you’d ordered.

She was loyal, she hated small talk, and she guarded the privacy of her limited patronage more fiercely than a Scotsman did his wallet. There was a movie made a long time ago that some people still idolize. It had a character named Jabba the Hutt. If Jabba took a mistress, it would have been Peg. Not that she’d have him, mind you. No, she made it clear to all who cared and who did not care that she was done with men permanently.

Over the last—I don’t know—year or so, when I wasn’t somewhere else, I was at Peg’s. She even tried to stay open longer to accommodate this sleepless android. Bless her heart. Many a night I found her sleeping face down on the bar, the rag she used still in her hand when she gave up the ghost. I’d shoo out any stragglers, carry her to her bed—a cot in the storeroom—and lock up. And she never once asked what happened the night before or said thanks. Nope, not her style. She’d just greet me with a deep grunt when I came in early the next morning and slam a beer in front of me without me needing to ask.

Was I in a rut? Sapale would have said yes, a very deep one. But she wasn’t around to kick my ass out of it. No one on Granger was about to try and whip me into shape. Most were just as much a loner as me. Even the ones who weren’t didn’t care what I did. I could tell Peg thought I was a jerk for pissing my time away in her dive, but she liked me too much to say anything. Plus, she’d worked hard to create her hard-ass persona. She’d never risk being perceived as a do-gooder. So, languish I did. The fact that I couldn’t technically become an alcoholic didn’t alter the fact that anyone who followed my presence at Peg’s sure as hell thought I was one.

I liked the downtime. I had a lot to think about. I had a lot of decisions to make. War hero celebrities weren’t allowed to sit alone most places. A dive bar in a smelly farmship was as close to anonymity I could get. No one tried to buy me a drink so they could have their picture taken with me, and no news crew showed up to shove a microphone in my face. I was a sideshow and wouldn’t be alone if I went anywhere near a populated area. Toño told me I was acting like a jackass of the first order. He said, “Forget about Sapale, I’m was ashamed of you.” Yeah? Well he wasn’t me, so screw him and the high horse he rode in on.

His attitude toward me had a lot to do with me not hanging around Azsuram much. No. It didn’t. Who was I kidding? He was trying to help. It wasn’t my family either. They asked nothing of me and gave me oodles of love in return. If I wanted to drink myself into an early retrofit, they’d let me. They were happy just to have me around. Was it the memory of Sapale that made me feel this way? Her gruesome death? Nah. I wasn’t the first, middle, or last person to lose a loved one in a pointless war. Yes, I loved her mightily. Yes, I was entitled to a massive amount of grief. But no, I wasn’t entitled to wallowing in a mire of self-pity and uselessness for an eternity. I guess that’s what bothered me. I didn’t know exactly why I was at Peg’s drinking moonshine intended to clean the underside of a tractor and eating food that paired well with the solvent Peg passed off as booze.

I had a cube. I could go anywhere. I had friends all over the place and projects up the wazoo. But there I sat, festering. I had, uncharacteristically, taken the advice of wiser people and didn’t set out on a vengeful search for the Berrillian home world. But boy, howdy, they deserved it. My only consolation was that they’d be back in my lifetime, and in greater numbers. I could do some major avenging then. I most surely would.

As I stared into my fifth mug of whiskey that morning, I felt someone who wasn’t Peg stop at my table. When Peg stood nearby, there was no mistaking her, the fat little Tasmanian devil. Without bothering to look up, I grunted, “Go away.”

“Aren’t you even going to find out who you’re blowing off before you act like a complete buffoon?”

That voice. I turned to look. There stood Amanda Walker, President of the New United States. She had on boots and blue jeans, and her hands were stuffed into a sweatshirt that read Farm Girls Ain’t Afraid to Get Dirty with a picture of a beat-up Ford truck on it. She was alone. No men in black wearing sunglasses indoors with wires coming out their ears.

“And, before you ask, no. They’re not outside scaring the locals either. I came alone. You’re the only person who knows I’m here. Everyone else thinks I’m doing my annual girl checkup. No one wants to cover that story.”

“You drove here,” I said perking up, “all by your lonesome? I’m impressed.”

“No,” she said slipping into the seat opposite mine, “you’re a hot mess. You’re a complete load of bollocks and a disgrace to the uniform you’re not wearing. That’s what you are.”

“Yeah.” I smiled despite my otherwise dour mood, “but how do you really feel about my condition?”

She glared at me. “I feel like coming around to your side of the table and openin’ up a big old can of whoop ass on you.”

“Madam President, wherever did you learn to speak so foully?”

“I’m complex.”

“I’m beginning to think that’s the case.” I pointed to my mug. “May I buy you some refreshment?”

“I can smell that from here. It’s about as refreshing as battery acid.” She waved to Peg, who was watching us like a hawk to begin with. “Bartender! A sarsaparilla when you’re done staring at us. No rush. You got time to take a picture. It last longer than a memory.”

I throated a chuckled. “You know she’s going to spit in your glass for that, right?”

“Hopefully that’s all she does,” she replied with a smirk. “Couldn’t help myself. It was worth the added saliva.”

“So,” I began, gesturing around the room with my mug, “you come here often, little lady?”

“Never before and never again.”

“You can’t say that until you’ve had the hash. Then you can say you’ll never come back with real conviction.”

She leaned back, met eyes with Peg again, and raised her finger. “Two hashes, sweetheart.” She pointed the same finger toward me. “His bill.”

“You must really hate me.”

Mandy knitted her fingers together on the table. “I don’t have to. You’re doing a bang-up job all by yourself.”

“Ouch! And you got elected to public office with that attitude toward those suffering?”

“Suckers are born every minute of every day.” She smiled widely.

“So, Mandy, what brings you this far from pleasant to see me?”

She looked at me, then her joined hands. “I heard how you were doing.” She scanned the room. “And where you were doing it. I came to give you some neighborly advice and a gentle push.”

“My, but that sounds unwelcome. Seriously, I’m okay. If I still had to bathe, I would be.” I pointed to my scalp. “Hair is both clean and combed. Score two for team Ryan!”

She crossed her arms but said nothing. Her jaw was set like steel, and her eyes weren’t laughing at my jocular wit.

“You’re just another person wants a piece of me. Everybody wants something. A lot of them want everything I got. You lining up too doesn’t make me want to change my ways.”

Damn. She just sat like a statue. I was throwing my best stuff at her too. She was good!

“Sorry. I run my mouth off a lot nowadays.”

Peg came over and dropped two plates of corned-something hash on the table so hard chunks flew to the floor. She slid Mandy a soda so roughly that a third of it spilled.

“Some people,” she said glaring at Mandy, “have the common decency to leave a man be when he ain’t lookin’ for company.” She spat. She actually spat on her own floor. “Some, I guess, don’t.” With that, she blobbed away.

“You like my new girlfriend?” I asked, thumbing in the direction of Peg. “She’s the reason I’m here all the time. Can’t get enough of my little dumpling.”

“There’s nothing little about that woman,” snipped Mandy. “Plus, she’s more my type than yours, sweetie. Hate to be the one to break the news and burst your love bubble.”

“Look, I appreciate you coming. I do. I’m working through some stuff, that’s all. I’m not going to hunker down here for good.” I poked at my hash with a fork. I wanted to make sure nothing moved before I ate any.

“I’m here because we’re friends. I wanted to see for myself how you were. You look like shit, and you’re acting like a pathetic wuss.”

“Gee, thanks. I’m looking forward to your next visit already.”

“There won’t be a next visit. The next time we meet, if we ever do, it won’t be on Granger. Enterprise maybe. Your cube possibly. But here? I only come here once.”

“No future state visits? The locals will be crushed.”

“Please be serious for the next five minutes.” She took a bite of hash. “This isn’t so bad.”

“Mine is. Yours has extra ingredients. Maybe that’s what put into the edible category.”

“Pass the ketchup and tell me when you’re leaving this dump for good.”

I slid the plastic bottle over, along with the hot sauce. “Soon, maybe. I don’t know.”

“What about your quest to find the other you, the one you mentioned back in my office?”

I scratched the back of my head. “That one. Yeah, sort of put it on hold. Everybody told me I was nuts, suicidal, or both to try and find someone very dangerous who didn’t want to be found.”

“They’re all wrong. They’re forgetting one thing. You.”

“You’re as unclear as a fortune cookie. What’s that mean?”

“They’re all forgetting just how low you can sink and how impossible it is for you to ever kick your legs to try and reach the surface.”

“Okay, now you’re up to two fortune cookies of huh.”

She set her fork down, set her elbows on the table, and clasped her hands. “Look, Jon. Literally look at yourself. Take a moment.” She checked her watch. “I have time. I’ll need to be back in a couple hours. But, come to think of it, I’ll need time to stop by a hospital and have my stomach pumped, so do speed it up.”

“I’m done. I took a long, hard, informed, and critical look—”

“I said take five minutes. I expect you to take five minutes. I deserve five minutes’ worth of your otherwise pointless day.”

“You got four left. Sorry.”

“Here’s the short and sweet of it. You, Jon Ryan, lost one loved one, a handful acquaintances, and a bunch of buildings. That put you in an epic tailspin the likes of which I’ve never personally witnessed. I don’t see you pulling out of this dive, seriously. Short of having you committed to a psych hospital in perpetuity, I don’t know what to do. But,” she stabbed her fork at me angrily, “I’ll remind you of this. That other Jon Ryan, if he’s really out there, lost a hell of a lot more than you did. He lost everything. He lost his people, planet, his roots, and any sense of purpose he could ever have. He probably watched as nine billion lives were blown to pieces, and he could do nothing to save them. Ever think about that, Jon Ryan? Hmm?” She slammed her fork to the table, and it clanged to the floor. “If your sad pint-sized loss did this to you,” she pointed at me with four fingers, “just try and imagine though your fog of self-pity and self-loathing what that would do to him.”

She pulled in a few ragged breaths and pushed back from the table. “There. I said what I came to say. I’m outta here. You’re free to be flippant, funny, or drop deader than the Christmas goose. Thanks for the indigestion and the lousy conversation.” She stormed out so fast I swear I saw a smoke trail behind her.

Peg came over uninvited. “I think I misjudged that gal. I kind of like her.” She slapped a mighty hip against my shoulder, nearly pushing me out of my chair. “I think she kind of likes you too. Oh, and she’s right. You do look like shit, and you are acting like a pathetic wuss.”

“It’s not polite to eavesdrop on private conversations.”

“I don’t have a polite bone in my body.” As she walked away, Peg turned and asked, “Oh, and if you’re not going to call her, give me her number.”

“Do you even know who that was?”

“Yeah. The girl one of us should be sleeping with tonight.”

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