Monday, 20 April 2015

Sample 'Shaw, Lt - USMC'

On their own, a minefield and barbed wire entanglements would not keep a VC or NVA sapper out of the fire-base lines, it would just slow them down. It took alert men with guns, booby traps and trip flares to achieve that.
Night did not bring any relief from the mortars; it joined forces with them to provide cover to the sappers who may soon attempt to infiltrate the perimeter.
Schermuly, mortar and artillery illumination rounds, plus flares dropped by ‘Spooky’ helped to aid the defenders but the light from the flares was, of course, also of assistance to the enemy, in particular to his snipers.
Earlier in the day, the enemy had mortared the flanks of the fire-base, dropping HE rounds upon the slopes until they noted the lack of secondary explosions. The impossibility of having a mined, cover-free, kill zone in a fertile jungle setting was presenting itself as a problem for security once more.
For the previous four hours, the enemy had largely concentrated his fire between the western and northern sides of the perimeter. The occasional round would land somewhere else but generally the pressed men of the ARVN company elsewhere on the perimeter counted their blessings. The same could not be said of the veterans, those advisors, Montagnards and visiting troops with a previous war, or a fire-fight or ten, under their belts, these men did not get to call themselves veterans by accepting given situations at face value. The enemy was up to something.
The Empire Quartet was waiting at a small gap in the sandbags on the south-east side of the perimeter. It was, in effect, a modern day sally port, a secure entryway through the fortifications. Only wide enough for one man to squeeze through at a time it was near invisible from the outside. A weighted frame, wrapped in barbed wire and bedecked with nails acted as the ‘door’, one that could only be opened from the inside. None of the men wore webbing equipment or carried firearms; they were armed with various edged weapons. WW1 era trench knives served the two sons of ANZAC, these knives incorporated a knuckleduster and a sharp, bone penetrating, stud on the hilt for cracking skulls. The trench knives made Peter’s Fairbairn/Sykes fighting knife and Dip’s Kukri seem positively civilised in comparison.
With all visible skin blacked out with camouflage cream they waited in the darkness next to a fighting position manned by a trio of the largely untrained ARVN troops who had been foisted upon 'Ben' Gunn.
The moon was about to slip below the horizon but by its light Dip could see the nearest ARVN soldier’s eyes, which were wide and fearful. In a way, Dip Rai sympathised with the men who had been dumped here because they expendable and their high command apparently expected the fire-base to fall. It was the unspoken policy of the general staff to follow President Diem’s wish to preserve the best troops and equipment for use against internal coup attempts, not military incursions by hostile external forces.
Most of the ARVN at Fire-base Zara were getting it into their heads that it was sink or swim, time to fight or die, not hide amongst the villagers as a few had attempted before the civilians were evacuated.
Beyond them, over the sandbag wall and wire, lay the dark hillside that sloped away until it met the jungle. The intervening ground was their kill zone, which the manuals stated should be prepared by the clearance of undergrowth and the removal of any natural undulations or folds in the ground that may offer cover to an enemy. Even before mortaring had left shell holes to hide in there had been a foot high growth of grass and plant life taking hold. It was not a lot of cover for attacking infantry but it was ample for a stealthy man to approach the perimeter.
The defenders remained alert and expended schermuly para-illuminators at infrequent intervals but unfortunately the distinctively loud crack of the percussion cap igniting the propellant is then followed by a sky rocket ‘whoosh’, accompanied by a trail of sparks, giving three seconds warning that it is going to get bright for at least forty seconds. By the time the flare is alight beneath its tiny parachute the enemy is already hugging the ground.
Replacing the trip flares and booby-traps that the mortaring had destroyed was the fire-bases best insurance against surprise intrusions.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Armageddon's Song, Volume 6, Artwork

As my map illustrations did not find universal favour in the previous volumes I have stretched my art skills a bit in a couple of instances in order to put a face to some of the aircraft in the prequel that younger readers may never have heard of:

Friday, 3 April 2015

Removal of the 'Map Illustrated' editions.

Unfortunately it is just not possible to view anything other than the most basic of maps on a small screen. Kindle may allow you to upload a file of 200MB in size but they then compress it and picture definition and resolution suffer accordingly. Apple only permit a maximum upload of 10MB which is half the size of the map illustrated book files, so there is the same state of affairs in existence if you reduce the quality before uploading.

I do apologise to those who complained to Amazon but you seem to have forgotten that each book is a novel, not an Atlas, the maps were to enhance the story, not the other way around.
The maps will remain in the hardcover and paperback versions of course, but until some software is invented that gives good quality graphics at a low byte count the maps will not return to the electronic books.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Sample: 'Of Demons and Blue Moons'

The beat of wings grew closer, no longer gliding silently out of the night sky and suddenly a naked and heart-stoppingly beautiful woman alighted, though a touch heavily, upon the roadway. Great bat wings, one sliced deeply enough by Fae’s blade to prevent any further gliding, remained partly open, dripping blood from the wound and a forked tail flicked in a feline display of ill-temper. The gloss of her jet black hair held an electric blue tinge that exactly matched her eyes. She walked in the identical fashion to which Fae walked, with a sinuous roll of the hips and a gentle bounce of firm breasts that was completely provocative, even if the sideways glance this young woman treated Scott to was one of unveiled contempt.
She looked somehow familiar…?
 As she passed Scott he saw that she also wore upon her right buttock the same mark that Fae carried upon hers. Their bodies were almost identical, aside from tan and colouration, and even their age, though hard to judge, seemed similar.
Scott expected Fae to leap into the attack but instead she merely stood poised to defend herself, allowing the raven haired vision of deadly beauty to stride by unmolested as she approached the flung trident. 
As if he had suddenly been doused in ice water the shock of recognition came to him. That hair, those eyes, that face and body, the girl’s blatant ‘on-heat’-stride, performed as if upon a fashion house catwalk, but he could only point stupidly, open mouthed, for a moment.
Isn't that…?”

“Yes,” Fae cut in. “One’s mother.”