Response to a Critic

Recently I was subjected to some rather nasty comments from an anonymous detractor. Whilst this has not been an unusual occurrence over the last eighteen months, the abuse was aimed at my iDad and Pine Gap stories – not at me personally. I’ve got a pretty thick skin (head too according to some) when it comes to insults about my appearance, intelligence or behaviour. However, targeting poor defenceless iDad and the good Colonel Drax, was a little harsh.

My policy of not posting bad language on my site meant that you guys were spared this individual’s ridiculous diatribe. However, the gist of his / her comments were along the lines of my stories being ‘shite’ and that I should give up writing.

“After all,” it said. “You can’t polish a turd.”

Well my cowardly critic, have I got news for you 😉

Pine Gap Teaser 05 – Sex, Blood and Rump Steak

Its been a while since I shared any of my novel with you all, so here’s teaser number 5. In this scene are Colonel Gabriel Drax – Head of Security and resident hero, Admiral Silas Dargan – main protagonist and nasty little herbivore, Chief Science Officer Lilakoi Paige – Gabriel’s love interest, Major Katana May – family friend of the Admiral who is now doubting said friendship, and Lieutenant Nicholas Schiffiletti – Head of Communications.

Enjoy!

Seven hundred and ninety eight million two hundred and forty two thousand nine hundred and thirteen calculations later, Chief Science Officer Lilakoi Paige had done it. Her program had finally learned how to reassemble life by studying how not to; and she was aching to test it out. Mathematically the theory was flawless but common sense called it absurd. Only a proper test would provide the answer so she contacted the Admiral for approval.

“Well done my dear, well done. I really didn’t think you would get this far so soon. Your parents would be proud.”

A backwards compliment kept her in her place and the reference to her parents reminded Lilakoi who was the boss. She hated the Admiral more than any other being she had ever known. All she wanted now was to complete her job and get out of this godforsaken place.

“When can we test it Admiral?”

“Right now of course. When else would you like?”

He always spoke down to her, treating her like a slave instead of giving her the respect she deserved. She had completed a task on her own that has taken teams of scientists decades to get nowhere. Lilakoi reflected on the different management styles of the Commanding Officers she had served under since arriving at Pine Gap. Admiral Silas Dargan was rude and callous, never caring for anyone’s opinion but his own and always treating his charges with contempt. His methods of motivation were through intimidation, fear and the threat of recriminations. There was no respect in the camp for this creature, nor was there any loyalty. Only obedience expressed under duress.

Colonel Gabriel Drax on the other hand had earned the reverence of his peers within hours of his arrival. He only exerted his authority if he perceived the situation to be getting out of hand and he always spoke kindly to Lilakoi no matter how she addressed him. He had united the troops, brought fairness and equity to the duties and effectively encouraged the sharing of skills amongst the diverse range of military experiences.

Reflecting on the handsome Colonel brought a pain to her chest and she began to wonder whether she had handled the situation this morning poorly. Gabriel was a leader, someone that they could all turn to in a crisis, and if Lilakoi wanted to be with him she would have to share him with everyone else.

Now she had identified her problem! She wanted to be with him so badly that sharing was out of the question. And she was jealous. Her irrational outburst at breakfast was due entirely to her own anxiety and the sudden arrival of the green-eyed monster. Lilakoi was ashamed at her behaviour and was at a loss as to how she would salvage a situation that may already be broken beyond repair.

The monster was screaming at her.

“Are you there? What are you doing you stupid woman? I’m giving you an order damn it and you better follow it to the letter. Insubordination is a serious charge you know.”

Lilakoi shook off the sad fog of regret.

“I’m sorry Admiral, there was a problem with the communicator. I can hear you clearly now. What do you need me to do?”

It was a nice save, if he believed it.

He did.

“One more time for the idiot in the room. Go and find Major May, Lieutenant Schiffiletti and a side of beef. I will meet all four of you at the elevators in ten minutes and please place the carcass in charge. Its undoubtedly the most intelligent of you all.”

The belligerent beast switched off the communication without another word and Lilakoi sat seething in the silence for several seconds. When she had calmed herself down she started the process of establishing a direct link between the secure terminal in the converted master bedroom of her terrace and the offline mainframe on level ninety-nine. As the two computers negotiated the encrypted passwords she called Major Katana May over the radio and relayed what the Admiral’s instructions were, down to the point of placing the dead animal in charge.

“I take it you’re learning a few new lessons about my old ‘uncle’ too then?”

“I’m sorry Major, I know he’s a long-standing family friend, but I find the man to be a bellicose bully.”

“He was my father’s associate Lily, not mine. Personally I feel that there are people here at Pine Gap who are more balanced, sensible and pragmatic than the Admiral ever was. Plenty of better choices for a friend I would think.”

Lilakoi knew what Katana was alluding to but she chose not to acknowledge her. Coming to terms with being a jealous troll was one thing, admitting it to others was another.

“Do you know where Nick is?”

“He went to see the prisoner Katarg with the Colonel. I’m not sure if they have returned as yet.”

“Ok, I’ll go find him could you please arrange for the test subject.”

“No problem, see you in ten. May out.”

Lilakoi attempted to raise Lieutenant Nicholas Schiffiletti on the communicator and found him in the process of changing cars on level thirty. She knew if Gabriel were with him he would be going through the psychic torment of the Mombaly madness so she asked after his condition.

“The Colonel? He’s fine. I mean he looks like he’s gone five rounds with a heavyweight champion but otherwise he’s ok.”

Gabriel listened to the conversation and daydreamed about the night he had spent with Lily. In his hand he held the metallic splinter that Katarg had used to identify the destination of the shredders. As his fists clenched in a vain attempt to stave off the violent, extra-sensory assault of the Mombaly convicts the blast-honed edges punctured his palm and he knew he would need more stitches before lunchtime.

By level twenty-eight Gabriel was fine and Lilakoi was gone. He placed his hand in his pocket to hide the injury and remained silent until they all got out on level sixteen. Standing outside the doors were Admiral Dargan, CSO Paige and Major May carrying a rump roast.

Lilakoi was shocked at Gabriel’s appearance. Nick had lied to her and he didn’t look fine at all.

“Your face! What did you do?”

Drax countenance was caked in blood, with black polyester knots holding his cheek together and reddish-brown butterfly clips keeping his eye open. His shirt collar and sleeve were stained a dark vermillion and his neck had long stripes of black coagulate that resembled knife wounds. Even Silas gave a brief look of concern. Lilakoi reached up to touch him but he intercepted her hand with his own, depositing a fresh scarlet river onto her forearm.

“Don’t worry about me I can look after myself. Where are you people going?”

If Silas was ever concerned for the welfare of the Head of Security, it dissipated immediately.

“None of your business Colonel. Come along ladies, you too Nick.”

The Admiral found his path to the elevator blocked by a blood-soaked behemoth, brandishing a loaded pulse rifle and bearing a look on his face that would have scared Satan. Silas, who had only taken one step forward, took two quick steps back as Nick shuffled sideways to get out of the way. Lilakoi placed her hands to her mouth in shock and sorrow. She’d set out this morning to destroy Gabriel’s character, regretfully she may have succeeded.

The nasty little herbivore was taken aback for only a moment. He had been in situations like this before and he knew how to handle them.

“Get out of the way you oaf or I’ll have you arrested.”

“On the contrary Admiral. If you choose not to obey the lawful commands of the Head of Security during a declaration of Sovereign Law, it is you who will be arrested.”

The squad behind Drax took his lead and immediately aimed their weapons at the Admiral. It was a standoff between the indomitable force and the immovable object, the outcome of which would determine the balance of power at Pine Gap once and for all. Unfortunately for Silas the Colonel was technically correct, even though there was no real precedence for detaining a man of his rank or stature during a time when Sovereign Law was proclaimed. Silas was also keen to test out his latest toy, so he backed down.

“My apologies Colonel, you are of course correct. I am simply taking my team here on a little tour of the prison levels to get some exercise and feed the Yowie.”

Admiral Dargan tried to smile after his little fib to give it more credence but he only managed an obsequious sneer. Drax knew he was lying and Katana grimaced at the obvious nature of the Admiral’s untruth. Yet in spite of the evident falsehood Gabriel let him go.

“Thank you Admiral. My squad will accompany you on your tour.”

That was the last straw for Dargan. He had been held up long enough and as his impatience reached critical mass he let his feelings spill out.

“Now you listen to me boy. I will not be dictated to by you or any of the miscreant morons residing at this facility. I will decide if and when I need to use any of your pathetic soldiers and then I will personally choose who I take. Do I make myself clear?”

Drax still barred the path to the elevator and as blood dripped from his hand onto his boot he delivered a cool, calm and calculated reply.

“The only thing clear to me is your ignorant stupidity. My orders demand that all groups travel with a minimum contingent of four armed personnel. Major May is the only member of your team who has a weapon but you have her carrying an armful of steak.”

Both Nick and Lilakoi had retreated behind Silas at this point so he couldn’t see the expressions on their faces. Katana and the other soldiers remained stoic, yet reveling in Gabriel’s admonishment of the Admiral. The Colonel paused only long enough to take a breath and then he continued.

“I will also add for the record that I am utterly sick and tired of your continued criticism toward the staff. Personally I have found all of the inhabitants here to be resourceful and highly skilled soldiers. They work well together without any sign of racial or inter-special schism and they learn from each other. You on the other hand are a diseased dinosaur. An ancient twisted relic, perpetuating a war the cause of which has been long forgotten. So, if you dare to cast aspersions against these people that I have grown fond of, I will charge you with insubordination and incarcerate you in the dankest, dingiest most uncomfortable cell I can find. Do you understand?”

The Admiral was fuming, but Drax had won. It was time to concede defeat.

“Yes, yes I understand.”

“Yes WHAT!”

“Yes sir.”

“Yes Colonel! I’m a Colonel and you are an Admiral remember? Even though we are under Sovereign Law you do not refer to me as sir.”

“Yes Colonel.”

“We have reached an accord then. My troopers will escort you on your tour. Good day.”

Drax watched the lift door close before he allowed himself to laugh. The confrontation had greatly elevated his mood and raised his spirits out of the dark pit from which four trips to Starca had dragged him. He smelled like sex, blood and body odour. It was time for a shower and a change of clothes.

Monsters from Pine Gap

These are some of the nasties you’ll find lurking withing the pages of my novel.

This collection includes:

Sand Shark – Sand Sharks live under the loose soil of the Australian desert. They are highly voracious marsupial predators who aren’t afraid to cannibalize their own kind.

Catonque Spider – These huge arachnids hunt in threes with a highly toxic venom that has no known cure.

Zombie – Also know as the Beast of Bourbon. Check out the post in the Pine Gap section of the website.

All drawings done by Daniel. Share

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Pine Gap Teaser 04 – In The Wine, Is Truth!

A lot of people have asked me whether anything nice happens to the characters in my book. I suppose with all the giant spiders, Sand Sharks and rotting corpses, you’d be right to assume that this is a horror novel: but its not. Please find a short paragraph or two below that shows the interaction between our hero and his love interest. Don’t worry, its G-rated 🙂

Colonel Gabriel Drax and Lilakoi Paige enjoyed a marvelous lunch of lasagna, crusty garlic bread and a crisp Mediterranean salad. The Cabernet Merlot was perhaps not the best choice of wine to accompany such a meal, but it was smooth and subtle with a hint of chocolate; and it tasted divine.

The conversation this time was a lot more friendly and relaxed. Lilakoi had decided to stop trying to deflect Gabriel’s attentions and Gabriel had decided not to give up trying. It was a win / win situation.

They were only interrupted twice. Once was by Admiral Dargan who was wanting ‘results, where are my results’ but he quickly departed when he realised that Drax was present within her quarters. The other was from Lieutenant Schiffiletti who was informing the Colonel that the training grounds had been reconfigured for the afternoon’s rematch. Neither interjection warranted any immediate course of action by either party.

They were sitting together on the lounge and, as the Colonel opened the second bottle of wine, Lilakoi suddenly felt the urge to open herself up to him.

“Yesterday I acted like a total bitch toward you and I’m sorry!”

Drax topped off her glass.

“In vinum veritas.”

“What does that mean?”

He wiped the drop from the lip of the bottle with his finger and placed it into his mouth.

“In the wine, is truth.”

“But nothing I said over lunch yesterday was truthful. My mother isn’t dead and I really do remember the day we first met. I was just being nasty.”

“I was talking about today. You just admitted being a bitch, in vinum veritas.”

He clinked her glass and sat next to her. That was twice today he had got her with his wicked sense of humour and she loved it. She wriggled down the couch to be so close to him that their hips touched. She put his hand on his knee and spoke again.

“You know I had two very good reasons for wanting to get rid of you yesterday.”

“Oh really! And what were they?”

“I am incredibly busy working on a top secret project for the Admiral.”

He motioned to speak but she cut him off.

“Please don’t ask. I am told that if I divulge my work to anyone other than Dargan that I would be akin to committing treason. Now whether that’s true or not I don’t care. If I get brought up on charges… well that alone would be enough to destroy my parent’s reputation.”

“Fair enough. What’s the second reason?”

“Its my eyes.”

“What’s wrong with them? Don’t you think they’re blue enough?”

She sighed heavily and drank some wine before replying.

“You can be so exasperating some times. Can’t you see there’s three of them?”

Gabriel knelt on the floor in front of Lilakoi and removed his eye patch. He placed her free hand on the side of his face and let her do the rest. Lilakoi gently touched the faded scaring around the burnt and broken socket with her warm soft hands and Drax was in heaven. She ran her fingers along the indentations in his skin caused by the elastic of the patch, to the damaged eyelid and when she accidentally brushed against the hard crystal implant that occupied the space where a soft moist eyeball should be, she flinched involuntarily.

“Its funny isn’t it?”

“What is Gabriel?”

“How you have three eyes and I only have one eye, yet with four eyes in total we are exactly the same as every other humanoid couple out there.”

Lily placed a hand either side of Gabriel’s face and leaned in so close he could feel her breath on his lips. Now was the perfect opportunity for him to steal a kiss, but he hesitated a second too long and Lilakoi spoke.

“That’s probably the corniest thing I have ever heard.”

“Its true though. In vinum veritas.”

Lilakoi gave him a sultry half-smile and as she drew him closer her eyes screamed ‘come to bed’.

“I think we’ve both had enough vinum don’t you?”

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Teaser 03 – The Beast of Bourbon

Gabriel’s quarters were directly opposite Sebastian’s so he took a deep breath, shook off the alcohol fog, and crossed the park to find his bed. Two of the Mahjongg players from the train saw him and immediately stood to attention. The elevator door opened behind them and Drax knew what they were up to.  The mystery of Pine Gap was legend amongst the Terran armed forces and the new recruits were going on an adventure.  He would make changes tomorrow when his authority as the Head of Security was made official. Tonight they were someone else’s problem.

The Colonel’s security card had been coded to allow him access to his domicile with a simple wave in front of the scanner sensor in the door jamb. Upon entry every light was automatically switched on and Drax could see that his residence, with the exception of a few personal additions, was exactly the same as Botha’s.  The carpet on the lounge room floor was woven out of a soft down-like substance that molded with the individuals foot shape to provide comfort and support, whilst gently massaging the soles to relieve stress. Gabriel kicked off his boots and sighed at his toes were swathed in velvety bliss.  As he entered the kitchen the surface became more solid with mildly heated tiles that were no less pleasurable to walk on in spite of their rigidity. Feeling thirsty, and still a little giddy from the bourbon, Drax poured himself a glass of ice water from a jug in the refrigerator.  He drank some of the half frozen liquid, bent his head into the sink, and tipped the rest of it over the back of his neck. Gabriel stood there for a moment watching the water drip from his nose and splash onto the shiny metal surface of the drain and then decided that a hot bath would help him sleep. He ascended the stairs to the second level and noticed that the entire story was covered in polished floorboards which, like the kitchen tiles, were also kept at a comfortable temperature.  Three bedrooms and a bathroom didn’t hold much interest for him so he continued upwards towards the waiting spa. The master bedroom was carpeted in the same substance as the ground floor living area with a massive bed situated against the far wall. An imposing walk-in wardrobe with floor to ceiling mirrors stood opposite the bed and Drax could see that his uniforms had been neatly pressed and were hanging at attention. On the left hand side of the bed was the large double doors that opened onto the balcony at the front of the terrace and to the right was the en suite, which is where Drax headed. It took ten minutes to fill the spa to the desired level and the Colonel was left standing impatiently naked waiting for it to be ready.

The jets of hot water eventually began to massage his spine and Gabriel closed his eyes to enjoy the sensation.  Suddenly the serenity was broken by an unnatural sound on the stairs.  Drax thought he may be hearing things but switched off the spa to be sure.  His ears strained against the silence for what seemed an eternity then, just as he was about to give up and get back to the bath, he heard it again.  A scraping sound similar to a bag being dragged along a wooden floor, followed by the thump of a heavy footstep. Gabriel stepped quietly out of the tub and wrapped a towel around his waist.  He grabbed his laser pistol from the bed and headed to the top of the stairwell. Although he hadn’t shut off the lights the two floors below him were pitch black and the noise was getting closer.

“Identify yourself!”

The Colonel bellowed into the darkness and the noise stopped momentarily before quickening its pace. The soggy officer reached for the control panel to switch the lights back on but nothing he did would illuminate the stairway, so he positioned himself in a crouch and waited for the intruder to access the final landing.

Scrape-thump.

The noise was becoming progressively louder as it drew closer to him and Drax could feel his heart pounding faster than ever before.

Scrape-thump!

He had fought his way out of many tough situations but something here didn’t feel right, and his palms began to sweat.

Scrape-THUMP!

“Relax soldier.”

He was talking to himself.

SCRAPE-THUMP!

And then he saw it! A rotten, fetid corpse staggered around the corner and looked up at him with one ice blue eye. Maggots were still gnawing on the other eyeball whilst chunks of putrid skin and hair were hanging off the carcass forming morbid festoons of pus and gore. Drax retched on the stench of decay and fired his pistol at the approaching menace. The laser bolt went right through the creature’s chest cavity and impacted with the wall behind it splattering bone and coagulated blood. The – thing – swayed slightly on the step and the frightened man could see large black cockroaches crawling amongst the decomposing organs. He prepared to fire his pistol again but stopped when the creature held out a half empty bottle of brown spirits and began to speak.

“I thought you might want to finish the bourbon with me.”

Gabriel stared in utter disbelief as the suppurating cadaver of Sebastian Botha gurgled its horrible invitation, then fired his pistol once again. This time the laser bolt hit the liquor bottle and the alcohol burst into flames, setting his friend alight in a blaze of blue fire and black smoke. The cremation lasted only a few seconds and the Captain was reduced to a pile of charred bones and greasy ash.

Drax vomited onto the carpet then staggered back into the master bedroom.  He placed his pistol on the bed and, with his body quivering from the early onset of shock, allowed the towel to drop to the floor.

SCRAPE-THUMP!

All too late he heard the second corpse and was seized from behind by a grip that belied human physical strength. The monster wheezed through its disintegrating nasal passage.

“I’ve been waiting for you. Its time to have your bath”.

Before he knew it Drax was being dragged by his neck into the en suite and he saw, with a dread realisation, that he was about to be drowned in his own spa. He fought back with all the strength he could muster but was no match for the super human abilities of his captor. His head hit the tap as it was forced into the water, which prevented him from taking a deep enough breath. He opened his eyes and watched the blood from the cut on his forehead blend with the bath water and disperse. His hands were still free so he planted them firmly on the floor of the spa and pushed up with all his might until his head broke the surface and he was able to gulp down some life saving oxygen. Then he was drowning again and the force holding him down was not about to let him fill his lungs for a second time. Finally the terror of his experience and the hopelessness of his situation registered and he panicked. His arms thrashed around in the water clawing at the creature holding him under. Pieces of graying skin and muscle came away in his hands as his fingers scraped against the arm bones of his assailant. The water turned a muddy brown colour as it became diluted with the filth of the decaying carrion he was tearing apart. Finally, as he was on the verge of passing out it spoke to him again.

“What’s the matter?  Don’t you like to be clean?”

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004