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.

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

 

Pine Gap Teaser 02 – Arachnophobia.

Here’s the second snippet from my novel – Pine Gap. I hope you find it entertaining. Pencil drawings are provided by my son Daniel, a budding artist who (much to his mother’s despair) seems to prefer gruesome illustrations. I have added his interpretation of a Sand Shark to the previous article – Derailed. Please feel free to comment on my work and if you know anyone who might like it I would be grateful if you would let them know. Cheers.

Two tired Tullimbar soldiers trudged wearily through the open elevator doors. It was a long and tedious journey from the basement to the apex of Pine Gap and they would have to do it all over again after they visited the CSO. As their transport crossed from level fifty-five to level fifty-four the lift shuddered, then struggled to move as if it were being pulled back by a colossal weight. The motor strained and cried out with a high-pitched whine that steadily increased in tone and volume, whilst the cables groaned in mechanical pain. Suddenly, as it extricated itself from its entrapment, the elevator launched skyward with a mighty jolt that sent the men smashing into the ceiling before dumping them onto the floor.

“What the hell was that?”

“I’ve no idea, but it felt like something was blocking the shaft. We should check it out.”

The bruised soldiers hastily reversed direction of the elevator and began their descent. Once again the car seemed to grind its way through the unknown obstruction, although this time the progress was a little easier. Finally it stopped and the doors opened. The sight that befell them was incredible. Thin strands of gossamer floated in the gentle stillness whilst glistening angels hair extended between the prison cells on both sides and up into the elevator shaft. So captivated were they by the beauty that both men stepped out of the car simultaneously and sealed their fate.

The lights in the ceiling reflected a dazzling brilliance from the delicate, silky threads as the spectrum exploded into tiny rainbows that shifted position depending on the viewer’s perspective.  Neither man had seen anything like this before. The awestruck visitors walked along the soft, cottony surface until they noticed that their impetus was gradually being impeded by an invisible force field. The lead soldier knelt down to touch the floor and was instantly puzzled to find his hand had become adhered to the substance they were standing on. He turned to look up at his partner in time to see the blue and yellow abdomen of a Catonque spider drop from the ceiling above his friend’s head. He watched in horror as the beast sunk its humongous fangs into the unfortunate man’s neck.

The crouching soldier wrenched his hand from the glued glove and attempted to extract the pistol from its holster. The floating threads that had been tickling his neck would not yield however and his entire torso was immobilised, held fast by invisible fingers of immense strength. He tried to kick his feet free from his boots and found that this was an impossible task. The more he struggled the more he stuck.

Long spindly legs began to emerge from the cell on the left. A second Catonque spider was slowly creeping towards him with a visage that betrayed its malicious intent. He realised now what had happened, he and his friend had blundered into their nest.

He frantically tugged once more at his shoes, but his feet were cemented to the floor.

The creature crept closer.

With his strength waning the  Tullimbar veteran fought in vain to free himself from the sticky filaments.

The spider crawled onto his foot.

He unloaded a stream of vociferous obscenities upon the arachnid and it reacted as only a soulless arthropod would, by biting him.

The doomed man screamed in agony as dual five centimetre long chelicerae punctured his leg and injected their venom. The thick, sticky poison began coursing through his bloodstream, melting his internal organs and reducing his insides into a gooey humanoid soup.

Eight lidless, emotionless eyes looked at him and then everything went black.

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Synopsis

Deep in the heart of the Australian desert an impenetrable military prison is being invaded by an insidious aggressor. Time is running out for the small defence force who are no match for rotting corpses, giant spiders, voracious sabellids and the other alien beasts that begin appearing around the facility. As the indiscriminate killings continue only the arrival of Colonel Gabriel Drax gives the fractured team any chance of survival. But will this brilliant tactician lead them to safety, or is he too late?

Pine Gap is a science fiction / action novel set in the thirty first century. I chose to use Pine Gap as the main setting because of its remote presence in the Australian outback and the fact that public knowledge about what is actually at Pine Gap is more conjectural than fact. A quick search on the Internet will provide the reader with many theories both plausible and fanciful as to the true workings of this facility. Pine Gap’s mystique makes for good subject matter.

In my novel, Pine Gap has been converted into an impenetrable prison where the hardest criminals in the Universe are sent. Its construction is entirely underground and so well defended that it has also become a databank for the intellectual property of all the peaceful nations within the galaxy. Bank accounts, patents, military secrets etc are stored here alongside monsters, terrorists and captured enemy Generals. In spite of all its security however, someone is managing to get in.

The main character is Colonel Gabriel Drax. He is a highly decorated officer and a skilled military tactician who was born in Australia and has been brought to the Gap in order to provide security. Gabriel suffered an accident as a child, which required in experimental surgery to be performed on his brain. As a result of his many operations Gabriel often has vague nightmares warning him about the future. All the while that he is trying to build a defensive position he is bombarded by an abstruse extrasensory perception. He knows that he is going to be betrayed but he does not know if it will be his friend, his enemy or his lover.

The other main characters are:

Admiral Dargan – He is the incumbent commander of Pine Gap who places Colonel Drax in charge. Gabriel knows that Dargan is developing something sinister in the bowels of the facility and it doesn’t take long to deduce what that is. Dargan has a long history of incompetent leadership and as a result he is despised by many of his subordinates especially Colonel Drax.

Major Katana May from Military Intelligence who is Admiral Dargan’s niece. Katana has a fiery temper, which lands her in hot water on more than one occasion. Gabriel develops a fondness for her regardless of her relationship to Admiral Dargan and in spite of the fact he knows she has been ordered to spy on him.

Captain Sebastian Botha who is Gabriel’s closest friend. Sebastian is a loyal soldier and confidant who would follow Gabriel into the depths of hell if need be. Their friendship was forged over years of fighting side by side during various campaigns throughout the Universe. Sebastian enjoys telling stories of their battles to the other troopers and sharing bourbon with his friend.

Lilakoi Paige who is the Chief Science Officer and Gabriel’s love interest. Lily is an incredibly intelligent scientist whom Gabriel is always trying to keep up with. She was brought to Pine Gap to assist Admiral Dargan achieve his insidious goals but she is in love with Gabriel and cannot seem to focus properly on her efforts. The more she falls for him the more she becomes conflicted about her actions.

Lieutenant Nick Schiffiletti who manages the Communications. Nick is a young, small-framed boy in his early twenties with a natural flair for computers. He is in charge of ensuring that Admiral Dargan’s communiqués are kept private and that the experiment remains a secret. He is also somewhat of a military historian with a deep respect for the Drax family. The arrival of Gabriel makes Nick think twice about his part in the Admiral’s deception.

Declan Sharkey, a mercenary who is leading the invasion. Declan is an ex soldier who was too violent to remain in the armed forces. He is an evil, smooth talking murderer who leads a group of insurgents with similar tendencies.

The Jones Brothers are three humanoids from the planet Tortia who are financing the mercenaries. Tortians are a race of people who have been genetically enhancing their appearances for generations. As a result their DNA has changed to the point that they all look exactly the same. The downside is they have become genetically perfect geniuses that are also criminally insane.

Garou, a shape-shifter and tribal chieftain from Scarag. He and his family are being used as pawns in the Tortian’s plans.

There are many other minor characters that will engage the reader in their own unique way. There is Fricassee Phil, the ancient chef who dispenses wisdom alongside his bacon and eggs. The grim Master Chief, leader of the last remaining squad of Red Cap soldiers in the Universe. Mo, the gruff Tullimbar Sergeant who befriends the Master Chief in spite of their differences and General Garorky Katarg a high ranking officer of the Magadatch army who are at war with Earth and our allies.

Throughout the novel the characters develop and change. Friends become enemies and enemies become allies. There is love, death and romance intermingled with jealousy, greed and infighting as Gabriel attempts to unite the troops and repel the invaders. Families splinter and murderers are exposed as the troops learn to trust one another and their leader in a desperate bid for survival.

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

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