Sam, an ex-soldier who is trying to rediscover himself after twenty years of service, unwittingly stumbles upon a mysterious alien presence in rural Wales. He thought he’d discovered criminal activities, it was more than that and everything he believed in was shattered. He is drawn into a tangled web of intrigue, pitting him against forces bent on destruction and putting his life in peril. Feeling mentally eroded by his time in the army and having worked hard to overcome this, he is thrust upon an alien journey that will change his life and beliefs in a profound way.
Targeted Age Group:: adult audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The idea for this novel had rattled around my head for some time, only when I developed a story arc that encompassed five books did realise that I needed to put pen to paper. I have an eclectic range of books on my shelves, but I would say the influencing authors would be Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein and Lee Child.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are an accumulation of traits from people I have met or know. Each has their own quirks and as in real life, react differently to each other as the story unfolds. Having finished the series, I miss the main characters.
Reb’s head flew up as something caught his attention. He quickly moved himself in front of Sam, hugging and pushing his head down at the same time. The crack of assault rifles reverberated across the cavernous tunnel, regardless of the sound- dampening paint. Sam felt the impact of seven or eight bullets as they struck Reb in the back. The shudder of the impact passed through to him as Sam took on the full weight of his body.
Other bullets impacted all around him, causing shards of concrete splinters to fly about. He grabbed what was left of Reb and, using his body as a shield, moved behind one of the huge steel blocks that were scattered around. ‘Shit!’ he expelled as he tried to lower Reb to the ground with some reverence. He had, after all, sacrificed his life for Sam.
‘Oh God, that hurt. Bob, what the hell’s going on? Who are they and where did they come from?’ Reb shouted to no one in particular.
‘What the fu–’ He was cut short as Reb waved his arm for silence and stuck his finger in his ear.
Kneeling down, Reb popped his head around the corner of the block and just as quickly drew his weapon, firing off a short burst with a surreal, silent ‘pfft’ as the muzzle flashed brightly. ‘Should slow them down for a second.’
Sam looked at Reb’s back. The long overcoat that he always wore and trousers were pockmarked with bright, shiny metal bullets. Each one held what appeared to be a gel that had solidified upon impact. Without thinking, Sam brushed a squashed bullet off the coat and watched as the area reset to a flexible fabric.
‘What do you mean there is no one else here? I can bloody well see them.’ He indicated to Sam to take up a position on the other side of the block. Drawing his pistol.
Peering around, he saw three massive brutes taking cover from Reb’s fire. In the distance, he could make out a group of others rushing around the curve of the tunnel. ‘There’s more on the way, at least another eight,’ he shouted to Reb.
‘Bob, we need backup now! What, we haven’t got ten minutes. How did they get through? What do you mean there are only sheep in the tunnels? Do they fucking look like sheep to you? I don’t care what the computer says. Get me some backup, now!’
Upon seeing their comrades closing the half-mile gap, two of which must have been an advanced scouting party, they leapt out with bravado, firing their carbines on full auto as they dashed to the next steel block. Both Reb and Sam took this opportunity to fire in the face of the inaccurate but just as deadly fusillade. Both running assailants took the explosive small arms fire to their chests. Sam was silently impressed at the reduced recoil and improved accuracy of his cloned weapon. He was less impressed at the supposedly improved munitions. ‘I thought you said these were explosive rounds,’ he angrily shouted towards Reb.
‘They are. One of these should take down a rhino.’
The aggressors each had four or five gaping wounds to the chest. The flesh was hanging off them, yet they still continued on.
‘Aim for the head.’ Reb’s next bullet took the man down with a crimson burst of colour that looked surreal as it splattered across the huge, silvery dice behind. Sam grazed the head of his target just before he managed to gain the safety of another cube.
Inaccurate rifle fire suddenly pockmarked the cubes around Sam and Reb. Two of the approaching squad had climbed upon the metal blocks to offer a steady stream of suppressive covering fire. The main squad were approaching fast. Sam ejected the empty magazine. The prognosis for the next five minutes was not good. Pistols against rifles. They already had the advantage, never mind the superior numbers, Sam had hit an assailant at least five times, and he was still fighting. He was down to thirty rounds in two magazines. ‘Make them count,’ he said to no one in particular.
The barrels continued to trundle on above them, the sound of the conveyor muffled by the clack of metal hitting metal as bullets flew through the air. The last barrel was in sight. At this rate of progress, it would be processed in less than a minute.
‘Bob, I need you to stop the conveyor and divert the portal. We need to get out of here.’ He looked up as the rumble ceased. ‘Put the station on alert and tell them we are coming in hot. Get ready to reset the portal as soon as we pass through.’
The main force had gathered just outside the pistol’s effective range. The controlled shots from Reb that were striking the enemy were more of an annoyance than a terminal kiss of lead. They didn’t seem worried about waiting an extra few minutes to allow their quarry to deplete their limited cache of ammunition.
‘Who are they?’ Sam asked in a brief lull as they regrouped for the next onslaught.
‘Never seen them before. Bipedal, humanoid and ugly. Although unlike you, they seem to be pretty immune to your primitive weapons,’ indicating his pistol, ‘even with our modifications. They must have an incredible muscle density and bone structure. Clearly, our shots are not getting past the rib cage. Bob is arranging for the portal to relocate to the station. Strip off now and, when I say, run up the gantry and jump through slowly. The surface reacts badly to velocity. Oh, and try to hit the event horizon parallel. Sam, it’s going to hurt. You’ve got pins in your leg.’
Sam looked at the portal. It seemed even blacker now that the heated metal was no longer pouring down its front. He looked at the cubes, suddenly realising that these were formed from the leftover metal from the process. Then he looked down at his right leg. ‘Shit!’ He stripped off as quickly as he could. Hardly surprisingly being naked in the midst of a firefight made Sam feel extra vulnerable. He fired off a few shots to make himself feel better and managed to take out the previously wounded scouts with a satisfying headshot.
He was grateful that the metal cubes were made from a soft steel. The bullets mushroomed into them rather than spraying him with shrapnel or ricocheting about wildly.
‘What do you mean you can’t divert, you can’t be blocked out?’ As the heated discussion turn to an argument. The black portal visibly shimmered with a variety of dark hues. Reb managed to catch the third scout in the head. His body crumpled to the ground, blood and cranial matter flowing onto the concrete floor.
‘The others are massing for a charge. Get ready. Bob, how are we doing with the portal? What? No, it’s still black, I don’t know.’ Reb used his leg to quickly flick the plastic case that Sam had dropped behind the cube, just in time to avoid the next heavy salvo. ‘They’re coming.’
Sam braved the volley of bullets. He knew his luck couldn’t last much longer. He was already more exposed than he wanted to be, firing right-handed around a left- hand corner, and now he was nude. He managed three head shots with the careful and calm precision that a trained soldier got from knowing that you were certainly going to die and there was nothing you could do but seek pre-revenge.
‘Sorry, Doc,’ Reb said as he took out three of the four glass containers and threw them towards the charging brutes. They crashed on to the tunnel floor ahead of them. Reb had already wrapped a cloth around the fourth canister whilst Sam was preoccupied and now lit it with a hand lighter and threw.
The combustible vapour that now permeated the tunnel ignited with a whump long before the projectile crashed onto the floor, sending its liquid fire in all directions. This burnt fiercely with tall flames, but with little to consume within the tunnel, it would only last a short while.
Reb looked across to Sam with a grin, only to see him leaning heavily on the cube. Sam’s face was ashen. Blood was seeping down his torso from wounds on both sides of his right shoulder. An arrow-like projectile had skewered him to the cube. Thankfully it had not passed through Sam completely as the vicious looking finned tail would have caused horrendous tissue trauma. Most alarmingly, the projectile must have come from the portal.
‘Bob, what the hell’s happening?’ He moved towards Sam to assess the situation as the portal shimmered to settle, showing a steel gantry leading down to a room full of hostile-looking soldiers. Thankfully they wore Mineran uniforms. ‘Sam, I’m going to pull you free of the cube. We need to leave the arrow in to staunch the flow.’
‘Yeah, sorry,’ Sam replied groggily. ‘Yeah, ok.’ He looked down at the arrow. ‘It’s too high to have pierced the lung. But stupidly I nearly blacked out as I hit my head on the block.’ He broke out into a traumatic, shock- induced laugh. ‘I’ve been shot with a bloody arrow in a gun fight. If this is how you treat your friends, I’d hate to see you on a date.’
‘Someone knows our history; this is a ceramic version of an ancestral arrow. If those fins feel any pressure from penetration, the whole back end will suddenly resemble an angry porcupine. It gets real messy.’ Sam blanched as Reb pulled the arrow and his body with equal force. Sam groaned. ‘We need to go now. The portal is open. Go in forwards and try not to fall backwards onto the arrow.’ He pulled a small hood from inside his coat, a quick, practiced action of fingering a tiny hoop in the back of his collar, stretching and releasing on to his forehead. It shrank to cling to the shape of his head.
Reb pushed Sam ahead as he fired off the rest of his magazine, dumped the gun and followed, covering Sam with his own body as he did so. As they ran up the gantry, bullets whipped all around. He lost count of how many hit him, his reactive body armour preventing penetration and spreading the force of the blow over a larger area. It was like being repeatedly punched, each one taking its toll on his body. He took two large blows to the head, dazing him instantly, his legs and body working independently of his consciousness to get him out of danger.
Reb was at the Dia Kuklos shortly after Sam. As he proceeded to step through, the area ahead of him suddenly splattered with blood and white hot metal as Sam’s body was ripped apart from the inside. Reb managed to twist in time to miss the white hot liquid metal from Sam’s leg pins. What worried him the most was the small piece of metal streaming down the portal surface at head height. He could see blood! Lots of blood.
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