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EDEN PRIME - The New Jonas Blackthorne Action Thriller!

A Secret Experiment. A Lethal Virus. A Deadly Plan. 

In the increasingly turbulent atmosphere of international environmentalism, the once peaceful grass roots climate change group – The Eden Movement - has been covertly taken over by the mysterious figure known only to his legion of radical followers as Prime.

At the same time, an increasing number of high ranking Australian military officials and senior ASIO intelligence analysts are contracting an untraceable and fast-acting virus with a 100 percent fatality rate.

With few clues and precious little time, Sentinel operative Jonas ‘Witch Doctor’ Blackthorne must unravel this mysterious plot and locate the shadowy figure at the centre of the chaos.

For unbeknownst to the world at large, The Eden Movement is on the very tip of the iceberg in a deadly plan that will risk the lives of billions and forever alter the future of the entire human race.

In Store Price: $AU38.95 
Online Price:   $AU33.95

ISBN: 978-1-921574-53-5
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 496
Genre: Fiction
Cover Design: Clifton Smith

By the same author:
Witch Doctor's Vengeance

Author's Website:
www.andylsemple.com

Author: Andy L. Semple
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2010
Language: English

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

I want to sincerely thank you – the reader, for choosing to spend a span of your hours within this story. It’s hard to express the kind of honour that represents – that you entrust me with your precious time. 

I hope you will enjoy the journey, and when we have other opportunities to travel together again, I’ll do my best to never let you down. 

Thanks to Tegan Francis, Virginia DeMichele, Ruth Tate, Joanna Kordina, Lynda Woods and Aunty Margaret, all of whom read earlier drafts and provided notes and comments. 

If there are any mistakes they are mine. 

To my buddy, Clifton Smith, thanks for making the book look so awesome. I could not be prouder. 

Lastly, I’d like to thank my wife Monique, who suffered through endless recountings and for listening ad nauseam as I read many sections out loud. No doubt she counted herself among the victims. 
 

In Memory of the 88 Australians who were murdered on the Indonesian island of Bali.

12 October 2002

 

Whoever has the Gold makes the rules.

-The Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences

 

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

- H L Mencken

 

When a government controls both the economic power of individuals and the coercive power of the state ... this violates a fundamental rule of happy living: Never let the people with all the money and the people with all the guns be the same people.

- PJ O’Rourke

 

A CNN reporter, while interviewing a Marine Sniper, asked, “What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist?”

 

The Marine shrugged and replied, “Recoil.” - CNN
 

 

AUTHOR BIO

 

Andy L. Semple was born in Darwin, but has lived most of his life on the Gold Coast. He holds a Geology Degree from the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, and a Commerce Degree from Bond University on the Gold Coast. 

He lives and works on the Gold Coast with his family, where he is currently working on a series of action thrillers. 

Eden Prime is his second novel.

Prologue 

 

The Sofitel Hotel, Broadbeach, GOLD COAST 

 

I

t was just after 8.35 p.m. as Nathan Morris walked into the Sofitel Hotel towards the hotel’s main entrance. The wide Broadbeach Parade was teeming with pedestrians and traffic in combat. The entrance itself to the hotel was jam packed with taxis, limousines, a silver Rolls Royce and three black Mercedes Benz S class saloons. Room 81, one of the Gold Coast’s renowned fine dining restaurants, was packed to the rafters. It was a typical Friday night in busy Broadbeach.

Morris had studied the list of prominent hotels that had a record of working with the Parliamentary Protection Unit or PPU. Many hotels had been excluded already, leaving only a handful of prospects. After many days of observation, one in particular caught Morris’ attention.

A middle aged woman, seen inside the Sofitel Hotel dressed in the uniform of a senior member of staff, left every evening between 5.45 p.m. and 8 p.m., hardly a precise schedule for a working woman. Every time the woman emerged she was dressed in a designer outfit and was met by a waiting black Holden Statesman, not a taxi, not a bus, or a spouse’s car, and not the pattern of a working woman, but easily that of a PPU agent.

Morris’ plan however, was both arduous and time-consuming. This did not bother him, as he was after the son-of-a-bitch politician who had cost him everything. He would go from floor to floor constantly looking for the unusual. He found an irregularity on the nineteenth floor. Normally the room service attendants dashed to various rooms with trays and room-service tables, however there were more attendants wandering around the floor without trays or tables, with their apparent concentration on a single door at the end of the hallway. Morris deduced that this must be where the son-of-a-bitch Prime Minister and his older brother were staying.

Morris quickly gathered his thoughts, forming a plan. He had to isolate that door. He had stayed at the Sofitel many times before and was familiar with the room-service routine. In addition to the service elevator, each floor had a reasonably large maids’ storage cupboard. Casually, Nathan Morris followed a tray-carrying room attendant and found the location of the nineteenth floor storage cupboard. He then remained in the wide hallway, walking about as if he was lost, and counted what he presumed to be the real room-service attendants and those who were not.

There were four attendants, two who delivered and two who merely walked or patrolled. Morris’ strategy was evolving fast and it would begin in the storage cupboard. He returned to it and waited to see if any attendants were about. Determining that none were presently about, Morris managed to pick the lock and slipped inside. He locked himself in, switched on the light and withdrew a Glock 19 pistol from his left jacket pocket and a silencer from his right. He attached the silencer and waited until he heard the distinctive service elevator door chime that indicated the lift’s arrival. He stepped out, shooting the startled female attendant who dropped her tray on the floor. Morris dragged the body into the storage cupboard and firmly closed the door.

The second victim never knew what happened. A fit young man was pushing a room-service trolley past the storage cupboard when Morris fired. The young man collapsed over the trolley, killed instantly. Soon two corpses lay heaped on the floor of the storage cupboard, their glowing red blood flowing over the white tiles. Nathan wiped the small trickle of sweat from his brow and prepared for his next encounter, two final steps to the man who had turned his dreams into a nightmare.

He left the storage cupboard, locked the door, and made his way down the corridor. As he turned the corner he saw the first PPU guard standing by the main elevator within sight of the Prime Minister’s suite door. Pretending to be drunk, Morris approached the man and pushed the elevator button. Speaking in a slurred voice, “I’m afraid I’m totally fucking lost, mate,” sounding half pissed. “I can’t find the ninth floor.”

The guard shook his head and said, “You won’t on this floor, mate. You’re on the nineteenth floor.”

“No shit! Too much drink really dulls the eyesight. I could have bloody well sworn I pressed nine!”

“No worries pal, it could happen to anybody.” The elevator door opened.

Morris lurched off with a drunken burp. “Gee mate, do you think you could press nine for me, I’d hate to fuck this up again!”

“Sure pal.” The guard walked into the elevator and pressed the button for the ninth floor. As he did so, Morris raised his silenced Glock pistol and pulled the trigger – PHUT! The elevator door closed, the lift descending to the ninth floor.

No sooner had the elevator door closed than the second guard appeared from around the corner of the hallway. It was obvious that he was looking for his partner. Morris walked towards him. “Excuse me buddy, there was a scuffle here a moment ago. I was just talking to a man there by the elevator when the doors suddenly opened and two rather angry-looking men grabbed him and pulled him inside.”

Gerry!” the man roared. The PPU guard reached into his belt to grab his radio but he wasn’t in time. Morris rushed forward, his pistol concealed under his jacket, and slammed his body into the astonished guard, simultaneously firing his weapon. The guard fell dead to the floor. Morris bent down and rifled through the guard’s pockets, hoping he would find the key for the Prime Minister’s suite.

Morris dragged his fourth kill of the evening to the edge of the fire stairwell and pushed the body down the steps. He returned to the Prime Minister’s door, his face a mask of pure rage. After three long years, vengeance was his at last. The end would come in seconds, the end of the nightmare. He could have been in charge of Sentinel, a project he and his trusted friend Russell Towell had devised, but one man had stood in his way – Prime Minister Jake Lachlan. That pig would be dead before the clock struck nine. It was now two minutes to nine. Silently, Morris inserted the key.

 

Prime Minister Jake Lachlan sat in a comfortable chair facing the main balcony viewing the delightful Broadbeach night lights with a drink in hand. His brother, Kelly, was across from him talking on his mobile phone. Their friend, Jonas ‘Witch Doctor’ Blackthorne, was also present finishing off his dinner when he heard the sound of a slight metallic scratch from the suite’s main door. It was barely audible, and both the Lachlan brothers remained oblivious to it. But in his former life in the SAS, Jonas had become attuned to picking up such indefinite sounds. Often they had meant the difference between concealment or discovery, or life and death. He glanced over towards the door and noticed the door knob was turning slowly and silently.

“Jake! Kelly!” he whispered. “Don’t say a word and do what I say now. Go to the main bedroom and lock the door!”

“What the fuck, Jonas?” said a startled Kelly.

“Just do it now!”

Kelly looked over to his bewildered brother Jake and they both did as they were told as Jonas grabbed a side lamp from a nearby table. Yanking the power plug out of the wall socket, he rose from his chair and gripped the lamp at its midsection whilst walking swiftly to the suite door and stepping to the left of it. When the door eventually opened, the door panel would provide cover for him.

It slowly opened and the figure of a man rushed inside, a silenced pistol gripped in his right hand. Jonas swung the base of the lamp with all of his strength at the head of the intruder. The silenced pistol fired twice into the far wall as the killer spun around and fell back, his skull covered with blood, and staggering to stay upright. Jonas was stunned and completely gob smacked as he instantly recognised the intruder. Nathan Morris! The former Chief Security Adviser to former Prime Minister McGuire was still alive!

Jonas recovered an instant before Morris regathered his balance and bearings and raised his weapon again. Jonas rammed the base of the table lamp into Morris’ body, slamming him back against the wall. The intense blow served only to further enrage the blood soaked Morris.

Morris desperately lunged forward and Jonas grabbed his wrist that held the silenced pistol, twisting it counter clockwise to break the grip.

But it was no use. Morris, in his frenzied state, had the strength of a man half his age and five times stronger.

“All you fucking pigs will die!” screamed Morris, spit forming on his lips.

“You wanted Sentinel you piece of shit and we stopped you from having it!” replied Jonas breathlessly, holding Morris back as best he could.

“Ahhh fuck you!” screamed Morris, tripping himself up on an unbalanced Jonas and hitting him while Jonas still held the pistol in his grip. The silenced pistol fired once into the lounge chair where Jake had been sitting only moments ago. They both rolled over and over, smashing into furniture, before finally getting to their feet, two animals in a death dance. Paintings smashed to the floor, the room service trolley was overturned, flower vases fell and shattered. Punches and counter punches, they were the final moments of the epic battle. Jonas fought against the hard blows so that he was able to grip the shirt around Morris’ rib cage whilst still managing to hold the pistol away. He spun Morris around, and with a strength he had not known was left in him, hurled him with such force towards the suite’s main window that the heavy glass splintered into large fragments, one of which impaled Morris’ throat, severing it completely. Blood gushed from the open wound as the life rapidly drained from the twitching and spasming body.

Jonas collapsed to his knees, his body flogged, gasping for breath.

The sound of footsteps immediately got Jonas’ attention and he turned and looked up towards the direction of the footsteps. He could tell from the sounds that it was two pairs of shoes walking over the rubble of the smashed hotel suite.

Prime Minister Jake Lachlan and his brother both stood and surveyed the scene. Both literally looked like they had seen a ghost.

“Fucking hell Jonas, what the fuck just happened!” yelled a bewildered Kelly Lachlan.

Before Jonas could utter a word, Prime Minister Jake Lachlan put his right arm on Kelly’s left shoulder to steady himself. In obvious shock from the scene he was now witnessing, Jake could only muster a whisper, “Morris is still alive! I thought he committed suicide three years ago? My God!”  Feeling his stomach begin to tie itself up into a ball and his legs weakening, Jake decided to sit down while he still had enough control to do so. Sensing his brother’s distress, Kelly helped his younger brother to a seat on the lounge while looking over to Jonas who was covered in blood and bathed in sweat from the epic fight.

Never someone to hold back, no matter what the situation, Kelly blurted, “Well that sack of shit Morris looks pretty fucking dead now!”

  

Six Months Later

   Saturday 

 

Chapter 1 

 

Near the Georgina River, Outback Queensland       

T

he last rays of the sun were long gone, and thousands upon thousands of stars glittered brightly in the dark sky high above the rugged and parched Queensland outback. This region of Queensland was poor. There were no electric lights to illuminate the dark night and the gravel roads that connected this isolated part of the world to the larger world beyond.

A pair of headlights suddenly appeared in the darkness, briefly illuminating bush scrub, scattered patches of bush weed and sparse grass. A bashed and battered Toyota Landcruiser 4X4 swayed along a gravel road, its suspension whinging as it bounced in and out of a series of deep potholes. Drawn by the beams of light, swarms of insects darted towards the weather-beaten 4X4 and splattered against the dust covered windscreen.

“Jesus!” Antonino Melchiorre swore, wrestling with the steering wheel. Scowling, the short and unshaven half Italian half Australian Melchiorre leaned forward, trying to see past the clouds of flying insects and billowing dust. He took one hand off the steering wheel to wipe sweat from his brow and then swore again as the 4X4 nearly veered off the winding gravel road.

“We should have left for Boulia way sooner,” he grumbled to the slender and somewhat attractive black-haired women beside him. “This shit-house road is bad enough during the day. It’s a fucking nightmare now.”

Irish born Arin Reagan shrugged. “Our job requires the equipment we are carrying and when you serve Eden, you must accept inconveniences from time to time, Antonino.”

Melchiorre frowned, wishing for the hundredth time that his Irish colleague would stop lecturing him. Both of them were old hand activists from the Queensland division of the Eden Movement, working to save the Earth from greed, capitalism and globalisation.

The 4X4’s high beams highlighted a familiar rock outcrop next to the gravel road. Melchiorre sighed in relief. They were finally close to their destination, a small camp settled two months ago by members of the Eden Movement. He couldn’t remember the campsite’s original aboriginal name so the first thing he and Reagan did was rename it ‘Karinya’ or ‘Peaceful home’, in the local aboriginal dialect. It was an apt name, or so the Eden Movement hoped. The local aboriginal people didn’t seem to mind and more importantly, they had agreed to the change and accepted the Eden Movement’s help in returning to a traditional and eco-friendly method of farming. Both activists believed their work here would lead to the rebirth of a wholly organic form of aboriginal agriculture – a rebirth in complete opposition to the west’s toxic mining of the land. Reagan was certain that her impassioned speeches had won over the local aboriginal elders. Melchiorre, more cynical by nature, suspected that it was the generous cash grants from the Eden Movement that carried more importance. Fuck it, he thought, the ends in this case would adequately justify the means.

He turned off the main track and drove slowly towards a little cluster of tin-roofed demountable buildings. Near the Georgina River, Karinya lay in a shallow plain partially surrounded by boulder-strewn hills and tall bush grass. He brought the Toyota to a stop and lightly tapped the horn twice to announce their arrival.

No one came out to meet them.

Melchiorre turned the engine off but left the headlights on. He sat still for a moment, listening. The camp dogs were howling and whimpering. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

Arin Reagan frowned, “Where is everyone?”

“I don’t know,” Melchiorre replied as he slid cautiously out from behind the wheel. Normally by now, dozens of excited children should have been swarming around them, laughing and giggling in glee at the sight of the new farming equipment piled high in the Toyota’s storage space. But nothing stirred among Karinya’s darkened campsite.

“Hello?” Melchiorre called out. Next he tried his limited aboriginal – “Guruulbarng? Hello?”

The dogs at the camp only barked and howled louder.

Melchiorre shivered. He leaned back inside the Toyota Landcruiser. “Something is very wrong here, Arin. You should make contact with our people immediately, as a precaution.”

Reagan stared at him for a moment, her eyes darting from side to side with a look of concern. Then she nodded and climbed out of the Landcruiser. Working swiftly, she grabbed the satellite phone and punched in the numbers to their Gold Coast office. Melchiorre watched in silence. Most of the time he found Arin intensely annoying and irritating, but she had courage when it counted. While Arin was dialling, he reached under the front passenger seat for the Mag-lite torch. He also grabbed the digital video camera and slung it over his shoulder.

“What are you doing, Antonino?” she asked, waiting for the phone to connect.

“I’m going to take a look around,” he said uneasily.

“All right. But you should wait until I have a connection with the home office,” Reagan told him. She held the sat-phone tight to her ear for a moment. The stress becoming evident as her mouth and lips tightened. “There’s no answer! There must be no one at the office!”

Melchiorre checked his watch. The office would have closed hours ago. They were both on their own. “Try the laptop and log onto the website,” he suggested.

Reagan nodded.

Melchiorre forced himself to move. He straightened his shoulders and walked slowly towards the camp. He swept his torch in a wide arc, probing the darkness ahead. A goanna lizard scuttled away from the beam, startling him. He muttered a soft curse and kept moving forward into the darkness.

Sweating profusely, despite the cool outback breeze, he came to an open space at the centre of the camp. The camp well was located there and it was the gathering place for all of the camp’s inhabitants at the end of the day. He swept the torchlight across the earth…and froze.

They were all dead.

The Italian/Australian stood frozen, his mind reeling in horror. There were dozens of bodies everywhere he looked. Dead men, women and children lay in a heap on the dirt. Most of the bodies were intact, though warped and misshaped suggesting they had endured a terribly agonising death. Some bodies however, seemed eerily empty, almost as though they had been partially eaten from the inside out. Others were reduced to nothing more than ripped flesh and bone immersed in congealed puddles of blood red soup. Thousands of huge blowflies swarmed over the mutilated bodies, feasting on the remains.

Melchiorre bent himself over as a surge of bile and vomit hit the back of his throat before exiting and hitting the dirt. With trembling hands, he dropped the torchlight and took the digital video camera off his shoulder and began taking video pictures of the gruesome scene before him. He thought to himself that someone had to record this senseless slaughter. Someone had to warn the world of this massacre of aboriginal people whose only crime had been to side with the Eden Movement. 

 

Three men lay motionless on one of the hills overlooking the campsite. They wore desert camouflage fatigues and full body armour. Night vision goggles and binoculars gave them a clear view of every movement made below, while audio pickups fed every sound into their headsets.

One of the observers studied his shielded computer monitor. He looked up. “They have a link to the website via the satellite phone.”

His leader, a fit massive man with bright blue menacing eyes, smiled thinly. He leaned in closer to get a better look at the monitor screen. It showed gruesome images – the video taken only minutes before by Antonino Melchiorre, was slowly being uploaded to the Eden Movement’s website.

The bright-blue-eyed man watched carefully. Then he nodded. “That’s enough. Cut their link and erase the video.”

The observer obeyed and rapidly entered commands on a portable keyboard. He tapped the enter key, sending out a set of coded instructions to the satellite orbiting in space overhead. Two seconds later, the digital video feed streaming up from the Karinya campsite froze, flickered and then totally disappeared.

The massive man glanced at the man lying flat next to him. He was armed with a silenced .50 calibre Barrett sniper rifle designed specifically for use in covert operations use. “Now kill both of them,” he ordered.

He brought his night-vision binoculars into focus, and highlighted the two Eden Movement activists. The goateed Italian/Australian and the Irish woman were staring down at their satellite hook-up in disbelief.

“Target acquired,” the sniper murmured. He squeezed the trigger. The .50 calibre round hit Melchiorre in the forehead. He toppled backwards and fell to the ground, smearing his blood and brain matter down the driver’s side of the Toyota Landcruiser. “Target one down.”

The sniper fired his second shot an instant later. The bullet caught Arin Reagan high in her chest blowing an exit wound the size of a man’s fist. Blood and tissue splattered everywhere. She fell in a heap next to her activist colleague. “Target two down.”

The bright-blue-eyed leader rose to his feet. More of his men, wearing bio-hazard suits, were already moving down the hillside carrying an array of scientific gear. He keyed his throat mike, reporting through an encrypted satellite link. “This is Viper. Field test one is complete. Collection and analysis proceeding as planned. After collection the campsite will be sanitised – Viper out.” He eyed the two dead Eden activists and smiled. Their master’s plan was beginning to unfold.

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