On a hidden planet somewhere in the galaxy
there’s a culture clash between a heartless, high-tech society and a world full of ancient magick. Led by a teen rebel called Aiya, a band of rejected outliers revolts against a bullying Big Brother.
A rowdy lacrosse-like game of Bonko
is being contested on Geto by Rejex kids. Watching enthralled is awesome Rejex teen Aiya and her new trans gal-pal. On their island utopia, the banished tribe lives an almost idyllic life, as they explore long-lost “magick” and follow natural practices like alchemy and martial arts. But even paradise has its perils.
Meanwhile, an oppressive, science-gone-mad culture back on the Mainland, offers peace and security at the price of freedom. But, if you don’t fit it, Big Brother rejects you to Geto.
The daughter of Ma-Tu, an adult Rejex, Aiya has dark hair and hypnotic, almond shaped eyes. But exotic-looking Aiya’s birth father is a mystery to her. Her mentor is Alkima, another adult Rejex and a former Mainlandian scientist now schooled in alchemic arts and miraculous medicine. Her mother, Ma-Tu, is a former adept, proficient at all sorts of skills — but she was banished for committing the crime of getting pregnant for Aiya in the natural way.
Aiya learns ancient practices and martial arts from these two and from a teen crush called Abana, And now, like her fellow Rejex teens on Geto, Aiya’s coming alive and changing into an irresistible force.
Also inspired by a dream of riding a spirited “fire horse” and escaping her Geto, Aiya desperately wants to travel to Mainlandia to uncover the real reason her people have been exiled. When her alchemist mentor, Alkima, gets an SOS message from rebellious Mainlanders, they take off on a real adventure off their island. But what awaits them on Mainlandia is ripped from their darkest dreams — hooded bullies and intolerant thinking.
After descending down the rabbit hole that is the Mainland’s Underground City, Aiya’s crusaders uncover the secrets of the City’s high tech, eugenics program. Our crusaders then use their instinctive skills to ignite a revolt — going up against modern-day Dr. Frankensteins and their messiah-like Commander, X-3.
Finally, mounted on a real “fire horse,” heroic Aiya’s message to the mainland’s citizens is clear — “I am REJEX, we are all REJEX” — so, rise up above your technology’s intolerance, or forever be its slave.
But, something dark is coming, thirty days and counting...
My name is Ashley Jude Collie and I’m a writer, blogger, scriptwriter and author, who believes in the charm of chance and the sway of serendipity.
First, an awesome painter friend of mine, Adam Licsko, showed me a series of art called “Remember Yourself ” with people who are so into their technology that they’re out of touch with everything around them. We see it every day around us, people not talking to each other over dinner, or not watching where they’re going, or not even looking up to the Sun because they’re so consumed by technology — as wonderful as it can be.
Adam’s series resonated with me and with a story I was developing. I had an image of an “Oblivious Man” in a dystopian society where a high tech Big Brother rules and humanity is forgotten. This high tech worker is so consumed by his hand-held, he doesn’t even see ancient wooden spears come slashing down around him — totally clueless, like so many people in our world, today.
At the same time, I also met a high school student, a throwback hippie chick, who loved Hendrix and the 60s, and who told me a story about a “fire horse” and so I created a mythology around this magical creature.
Remember Yourself, Oblivious Man, Big Brother, Fire Horse...add them together, mix them up, add a dash of alchemy and I created a novel called REJEX, about a war, a culture clash between a heartless high tech society and a world of “magick.”
And in homage to the classic Rod Serling TV series, The Twilight Zone, I came up with REJEX’s opening line: “Imagine if you will, looking at act one, scene one of a living nightmare.”
Then I connected with my high school pal and brilliant fine artist/graphic designer, Gary “Buzz” Burak, to help me create a website that reflected this kaleidoscope of themes. With the help of publisher Bob McLain of Pulp Hero Press — “the world’s most dangerous books” — Rejex-theNovel.com is the culmination of a lot of people showing their humanity. I hope you enjoy it because it’s the first of three books in a trilogy, and hopefully a movie or television series. Because in reality, we are all REJEX!
“Imagine if you will, looking at act one, scene one of a living nightmare!”
So says One-10, a late-20s scientist, a cheeky geek in a dull gray windbreaker, who sits in a spiffy, motorized power chair muttering into his headset. In the far distance to his left, he gawks at dancing fires that reflect in his eyes. The fires are controlled by firefighters but the flames devour everything in their immediate path — green grass, lush foliage, and innocent creatures. The sap from giant trees bleeds red rivers onto the ground. And the hungry fires leave nothing but destruction. One-10 thinks he also sees a charred human hand colored with a splash of blue, and pitifully reaching up from out of the charred ash.
“And he’s off...” replies a droll voice over his headset.
“A bloody, living nightmare!”
“Again with the drama, One-10.”
“Fix your camera, One-9, because you ain’t eyeballing our growing wasteland up here!”
“And always with the smartass comments!”
“Well, as Confucius said, ‘Never give a sword to a man who can't dance, eh?’”
“There you go again!”
“Hey, someone’s got to be a pain in big bully’s butt!”
Away from the fires, One-10 leads a small research team of scientists and engineers. He hears an irritating “bing” and looks down to swipe an annoying pop-up off his handheld: “Conformity is a warm blanket of bliss.” Another bing also goes off on the wearable computer on his wrist. To which he mutters with a crooked smirk, “Yeah, PISS off!”
“What’d you say, One-10?”
“Oh, just thinking out loud of how damn freakin’ happy we all are,” he lies.
His power chair idles near a shimmering domed structure away from which stretches the scavenged, bone-dry Basin of Mainlandia. This flat man-made desert lies between a mountain range way to its west and a lush green forest way to its east. On the Basin’s northernmost fringe, where the controlled fires burn, a black and ugly open-pit is being dug to extract oil from the sand below the surface. And day-by-day, the lush forest is either burned or chopped away. The ever-retreating green vainly tries to battle back against the murderous attack of burning flames, chain saws, shovels and crushers. But all that’s left in the wake of this assault are bleeding trees, smushed plants, and more charred bones.
There’s no sweet birdsong this early morn, as they all seem to have skedaddled the hell out of here. And, even though the big bashing machines are still asleep, dawn shyly peeks out almost afraid to see what new horrors have been seared and hacked into the landscape.
While One-10 works near the dome, the rest of his team of pale young adults, dressed in similarly grubby windbreakers, surveys the construction and destruction on the Basin. One of them, who lags behind, is consumed by his ultra slim e-device. A pop-up promo flashes, “Be careful, be clever. Don’t act like a Rejex and you won’t get expelled to Geto, like never.”
With a DNA strand symbol on the right breast of his windbreaker, and wearing headphones, this lagging scientist is so focused on the graphs and stats on his device, he’s totally clueless to something going on just ahead of him — several ancient but vicious weapons that hiss and hurl through the air not fifty yards away. The primitive projectiles rain down into the Basin’s arid land. Sharp, zing, zang! The spears and arrows soon arrive at the feet of his fellow researchers. More zing, zang! The group stops dead still, finally sensing something’s not quite right. Wakey, wakey, people!
But they’re scared frozen in their tracks. Their mouths become as dry as the ravaged land. And their eyes truly bug open wide when they see who’s throwing the spears — a couple of savage-looking, almost naked but magnificent creatures covered and colored in blue paint. The pale scientists are so shocked, they try to scream but nothing comes out. They finally back up then churn their legs to stumble and run. Not used to running, they awkwardly fall over each other as they head back towards the one lagging behind them.
Mainlandians aren’t much into touching each other, but needs must, so they grab hands as their hearts pound and their legs pump with a sound something like, tap-tap-terap!
Also oblivious, One-10 doesn’t hear or see what’s happening to his fellow researchers, so he closes off a “Don’t forget, Thirty days and counting...” pop-up on his wristband, rebelliously cursing under his breath. “And, screw the freakin’ countdown!” He finally looks up ahead to the Basin, blinks to clear his eyes then is totally alarmed to see his buddies scrambling towards him. He shouts into his headset. “Aiyaa! I think we’re in some deep do-do, One-9!”
“Okay, what’ve you done, now?” comes the reply.
“Freakin’ nothing, I swear. But this is soooo not looking good!”
The stumbling, bumbling group grabs the lagging man and yanks him along. The projectiles continue to rain down on the rock-hard Basin as the research team screams bloody murder for “HELP” and desperately runs toward One-10 and the dome behind him.
Humming and shimmering like an oasis of escape, the dome entity casts a shadow over One-10, who now screams back to his escaping colleagues. “Run! Run, faster!”
The scientist spins his power chair around to the dome and commands, “Open, open, open!” But the voice recognition system doesn’t work as he hears gears grinding. “Hey, it’s Scientist One-10 up here!” He shifts position, hoping that will help communication. “Hello, can you hear me now?!” But still nothing. “Anyone, hello? We got to get out of here!”
The voice of his associate shouts back over his headset, “Keep trying, One-10!”
“One of those old magic wand thingamajigs would help right now!”
“No time for bad jokes, One-10, do it manually. Pronto!”
So, One-10 places his trembling hand at a certain spot, and a small section of the dome’s wall slowly appears to break down into individual molecules. “Anytime now would be good! Hello! Please open up!” the rebel with a cause, now pleads as he glances over his shoulder at the horrifying picture — a group of scared shitless, and weak-kneed geeks with laser pencils in their pockets being chased by fearsome blue warriors.
But after more gritty grinds, and a torrent of cuss words by One-10, the portal finally swooshes open. The research team stumbles straight towards the section as one spear hungrily finds its mark, burying itself into one man’s shoulder. But somehow they all manage to bumble and stumble through the portal into complete blackness.
“One-10? One-10, are you safe?” says the voice on the headset.
There are some deathly silent moments. Then, “Sure thing, Dar, but can someone, down where you are, turn on the lights? You know how I just hate being in the dark!”
Outside, the dome’s portal shifts back to shimmering solidity, as more spears and arrows clatter harmlessly against its outer shell. Clank, clank, clank!
And, somewhere else, in a hushed, dimmed suite buried deep below the Basin in the Underground City, a 3-D hologram displays a close up image of a blue-faced, long haired savage hurling a spear against the dome’s shell. Someone who looks like a hooded holy man is intently watching as he says over and over, “Fake, fake, fake! This whole setup is fake!” He then falls to his knees in front of the holographic battle of high tech against wooden spears. “Please forgive the blue brutes, for they know not what they do!”
With what looks like a speckled band wrapped serpent-like around his left wrist, he then prays, “Thirty days and counting — comes the great Darkness. Thirty days and counting...”
But way over in the West, on a sort of low-tech, island nirvana called Geto...
Faster than a falling star, I reach the clearing
behind the village. In my head, I laugh at a new PIM I surprisingly get from my new secret admirer: “Make sure U cheer 4 us at the game. Just get ready 2 duck!”
Duck? How exciting! I’d never really
seen a full-out game of Bonko. I can’t wait so I take a shortcut...
I crouch down and push through a hedgerow as the sounds of slamming bodies, shouts and raucous laughter deliriously cover me. I poke my head through some branches to see…a bunch of teenaged, sweating males stripped down to their short shorts. With safety goggles on, each holds a short stick with a flattened, curved, scooped out end. And they catch and whack a ball around in the air as they powerfully slam their bodies together. Hard and fast. Wow, it explodes into mesmerizing madness!
The visiting south side islanders have brought the competitive spirit out in both sides. They bash and yell and joust but all in a friendly way. The players are so alive in their joy of the game. And that joy of life is picked up by the appreciative spectators all wearing cool hats and including a rainbow mix of different people: two men who sit arm in arm and in love together; a group of adults and teenagers with blue eyes who are happy as punch to just cheer on the players; and, a couple of attentive albinos who shade themselves from the beating down sun. They keep official score of the game, using a scoreboard contraption that sends up spurts of cool, colored steam when one or the other side scores.
Without ever having met him, I glom onto Abana, the one with the Mohawk. He’s got darker skin, and he isn’t the tallest, the biggest or the loudest of the players. But he’s so smooth and goes about his game with quiet glee. When he gets elbowed in the mouth and bleeds a little, he concedes, “Good one!” to his opponent and then gives as good as he gets.
I scurry over to settle comfortably under a “glitter” tree, next to my always playful friend Ayuna, saying, “I like him, I mean, I like it, the game. Bonko!” We giggle.
She’s dressed in sexy corset over a blouse with billowing sleeves, and wears a spiffy top hat. Like I said, Ayuna was born a male on Mainlandia but when he/she started displaying female tendencies, she was bullied. She tried to fight back but it didn’t help, she says, and so she was banished here to Geto. Lucky for us and for me as Ayuna was the first of my pals to start reading my mind. We two new besties bump fists and giggle more.
Then she stops and gathers herself. Suddenly, she opens up her heart to me. “The hooded ones used to shame me and make me cry. When I tried to fight back with clever words, they hurt me. And then they banished me.” She wipes a tear from her eye but sucks it up. “But I love the fact that on Geto, we can be who we are, not who someone else says we are. Thanks, Aiya, for letting me be who I am — a girl inside a boy’s body. I mean I don’t fully know my identity, I think it’s still developing. But thanks for having my back.”
“Always, you’re my BFF!”
We hug then Ayuna shifts back to her playful side, winking at me as she gestures to Abana. “See I was I right, he is totally cute!” He sure is.
The cut and action of the game is just awesome, and we find ourselves cheering the gamers on, coming up with our own chants. “There’s only one Ah-bana. Only one Ah-bana. Only one Ahhh-bannnna. Only one Ah-bana!”
There is a moment when two opposing players, two of the bigger ones, square up against each other. They look like they’re about to throw some serious punches. I note that they both have a similar tattoo on their right shoulder — a screaming eagle. But the fact they’re even considering fighting is way weird for Geto. They smack their foreheads together with a deep thud, and menacingly growl. Wow!
I later find out they are the same two that Ma-Tu had seen square off outside our home. And a lot of surprised stares now watch them, as the ball lies at their feet. They drop their sticks and grab each other’s arms. Their ripped muscles reflect the momentary tension in the air. Then out of nowhere, Abana swiftly nips in, scoops up the loose ball and shouts, “Brothers…game on. Let’s Bonko!” Abana takes off running and that breaks the tension. The muscled players grunt and blend back into the flow of the game.
When a player scores, both sides shout, “Bonko!” The colored steam explodes up. So much fun! And, boy, that Abana dude has some moves. He can slip into spaces with a drop of his shoulder or a shimmy of his hips. On one play, Abana, almost faster than you can see, streaks down the flank waiting for the ball to be passed his way. Sure enough, he catches the ball in full stride and is about to shoot for goal when he’s tripped and goes flying into the air. I can tell he also doesn’t like to lose as he still tries to fire the ball towards the goal as he sails through the air. But it goes off at right angles and speeds instead towards us two girls. It strikes the glitter tree trunk just above our heads and ricochets off my goggles. Lucky me!
“Oooops!” apologizes Abana.
The whole trunk trembles, as shivers travel up the tree’s body to its branches, loosening the silvery tinkling blossoms. And as they fall, it truly does look like a cascade of glitter…with sound. We two girls look splendid in our coat of glitter as the players pause their game, and “howl” their pleasure.
Abana’s handsome face breaks into a lopsided grin, as he momentarily removes his goggles to flash kind but mischievous eyes. “Sorry, I’m Abana.” He officially introduces himself. Then shrugs his powerful shoulders, re-sets his goggles and sheepishly goes back to the game. We shout after him, “Abana, Bonko!” And my heart is on fire. Okay, I know that’s a little quick. But, hey, what’re you going to do, eh?!
Abana asks, “Hey, did you ever hear of the Middle Kingdom legend of Min and his adversary Gang Jun?” Off a shake of my head, he jumps up. “I don’t know how much of it is true or myth but it’s still a cool story, and also like a blueprint for fighting against a superior enemy or even a bully.”
The whole concept of bullying makes me want to puke, not that we see it here on Geto...
... Anyway, I sense this guy really knows stuff as my eyes open wide with intrigue. “Can you show me?”
“Hell yeah,” his mischievous look says, as he holds out his hand to help lift me to my feet. Then he stands me under another nearby fruit tree looking at the sun behind him. He pulls out a well-used slingshot and stretches it out. “The sling was one of the earliest projectile weapons, simple but deadly. The sling-bullet could be made of lead ore, like this one I’m going to use, or it could even be spiked with fast-acting poison that would instantly knock out the victim when they were hit.”
He backs off a ways. “Instead of using and wasting great armies, the Middle Kingdom legend tells of another way that disagreeing people settled their differences. One-on-one combat as a solution to a disagreement. Or, for all the booty, or even for a fair princess like you.” I giggle. “Anyway, this one story tells of the tribe of Timur that politely asked for a trade route through the lands of Kaz. But, they couldn’t agree terms, so it came down to Kaz’s warrior king, Gang Jun, taking on Timur’s knight-prince Min. Gang Jun was a massive warrior with these huge guns,” Abana flexes his own muscled arms for me. “You know, biceps. Anyway, Gang Jun could snap an opponent’s neck with his bare hands. Min sensed he couldn’t overcome his opponent’s strength, so he relied on guerilla tactics using surprise, stealth and smarts.”
“You mean, like super senses and skills?”
"Right on, exactly!” Abana shifts his position and theatrically acts out his story for me. “Min would fly his personal emblem of a fighting cock with spurs on its feet. Bold. And, his army members were all dressed in brilliant lilywhite — with a “Blanchflower,” a beautiful but deadly white flower, embroidered into their lilywhite clothing. Min and his ‘Blanchflower’ army were adept tacticians. In combat, they would cleverly take advantage of the elements around them. They’d attack from downwind against opponents that had a superior sense of smell. They’d change to camouflage colors when needed for opponents with superior vision. But against Gang Jun, Min used his agile feet to keep away from the giant warrior’s sword — a weapon so sharp it could slice a wild predator in two. So, Min feinted, he dodged, he weaved, all the while looking for one specific moment when Gang Jun lifted his head and exposed his throat. So, strategically using the falling sun behind him to temporarily blind Gang Jun, Min let fly with his sling and his dead eye shot hit home, taking down Gang Jun who collapsed like he was a falling tree trunk.”
“Timberrrrrr! I think Min is my new hero, because he helped Timur find a new trade route without a bloody battle, right?” I blurt out, and Abana nods. But I know that he is my real new hero...
“I loved the gong-banging nut-crackers out of it!
“REJEX is right up there with the best of young adult novels today, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter. Why? REJEX is a delightful tale of page-turning heroism and adventure, where the forces of light that have been rejected crash up against the forces of darkness that have been accepted as the norm, and where the magical, raw, powerful strength of metaphysics and myth meet the technological, crushing, iron hand of science and logic. Ashley Jude Collie pulls you into his gorgeously drawn world slowly and smoothly, and then you find yourself flying through the pages as fast as possible, eager to know what happens next.
“With the humor of Tolkien, and Card's feeling of methodical, well-thought out planning, REJEX has all the flavor and joviality of The Hobbit and the serious, surprisingly cunning twists of Ender's Game. As much as it is a comment on today's society and its pitfalls, Ashley's mental child also brings a message of hope: that nothing is impossible; there is good in everything, even that which may at first seem horrible! REJEX will be irresistible to those who love sci-fi and Ray Bradbury's works of mental playgrounds, as well as those previously mentioned. Could not put it down!”
“The logline is perfect! Succinct and enticing! It makes the novel sound like something new and unique with relatable themes. Then, right from the start, the Prologue had me hooked! You paint such a beautiful setting which, to me, displays the polarized nature of this society right from the get-go. And, I'm entranced by the Great Darkness...such ominous foreshadowing! I think this series is going to have a very wide demographic appeal! There's something in it for everyone.”
Catherine and The Queens
“I am actually good, can’t help it we’re tilted...”
“But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo/What the hell am I doing here?/I don't belong here...”
“I want to be the minority/I don't need your authority/Down with the moral majority/'Cause I want to be the minority...”