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Fire Cult

Fire CultGunrunning, intrigue, tribal cults and lost gold amid the erupting volcanic islands of New Guinea

Dave Stark is salvaging a crashed jetliner while Fang Mitchell is gunrunning in a revamped warplane. They are recruited by two suspicious Japanese to search for their lost father’s remains . . . or a fortune in stolen gold dust. In a race to find the gold they trek through the jungled river gorges and primitive tribes of the Finisterre Ranges, following an elusive trail of ancient clues. 

There is only one man who can help, Ted, a tormented old soldier haunted by horrific nightmares of Japanese atrocities, fanatical cults and erupting volcanoes. The minute Ted steps onto the trail he embarks on a tortuous journey of self-discovery. Their quest climaxes violently amid volcanic eruptions on an exotic island controlled by a demonic chief and his fire-worshipping cult. Planes, helicopters and boats clash in a final deadly pursuit across the Bismarck Sea.

Read Chapter One and Chapter Two

“…This engrossing novel has a most ingenious plot with an ongoing sense of immediacy. The build up of tension and suspense keeps one turning the pages. This fast paced tale of heroism, terror and sickening sadism would be perfect for a thrill-a-minute action movie."

Writespot International
.”

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Book Excerpt
 

Jan intervened. ‘… And if Joe is right, that’s the least of our worries. This guy could be dangerous — prostitution, drug smuggling and gun-running.’ She deliberately glanced at Fang.
Activity increased on the beach and verandah. Senior staff made a fuss as a large black speedboat roared around the point and dropped smoothly off the plane.

‘Something’s happening,’ said Dave.

The speedboat wallowed briefly in its own bow wave, then idled gracefully up to the private pier. A swarthy man in a white shirt stepped from behind the wheel. A huge coal black islander stood by his side. The driver left the big islander to tie up and hurried off toward the house, followed by a string of fussing staff.

‘Gotta be Kless.’ Fang glanced back at the speedboat. ‘Check that out. Ten metres of pure grunt. Big V8 with Hamilton jet units, I’d say. Looks like it’s doin’ eighty knots just sittin’ there.’
Jan turned to Jake. ‘Does that look like the boat that followed you from Madang?’

‘It was too far away to tell,’ he shrugged.
They noticed that all the house and garden staff were exceptionally beautiful women. A shapely Papuan with a halo crown of frizzy dark hair busily slashed the lawn with a curved
sarif blade. Within ten minutes, a diminutive Sepik girl, probably late teens, walked over and smiled broadly. ‘Welcome to Rimbula Plantation. You’re here to see Mister Kless?’
‘Yes, Dave Stark and friends. We were invited over.’
A broad overdone staircase led up to the verandah. A simple set of ten steps would have sufficed. Hand carved totems formed handrails. Each upright post consisted of intricately carved warrior figurines with grasped weapons.

The Sepik girl escorted them to the front door. Two huge vertical totems crowded with mythic ceremonial spirits of legends and battles flanked the entrance. Another pretty girl answered
the door and led them to the foyer. ‘Please come in. Mister Kless will be with you shortly.’ Her eyes were almost oriental, her hair Polynesian and she boasted a trim but busty figure —without doubt a Trobriand islander.

Dave smirked as Jake underwent a transformation. His normal slouch straightened. He was taller, chest out, stomach in as he smiled and chatted with the attractive Trobriand girl.
Bruno Kless entered and dominated the room with a strange earthy charisma. His mixed-race heritage blessed him with Teutonic good looks. His smooth naturally tanned skin glowed
with good health. He quickly scanned and assessed his visitors. A broad smile spread across his face, exposing perfectly straight white teeth below a wide close-cropped moustache. ‘Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Rimbula Plantation,’ he said as they casually introduced themselves.

Dave saw Kless’s gaze fixed on Jan. ‘Thanks for your invitation.’ He fancied Jan’s captivating beauty was the deciding factor in taming Kless’s reputed arrogance.

‘And how may I help you, Mr. Stark?’ Kless queried brusquely. His large intelligent eyes looked lively and almost black in colour.

‘Joe Wallis tells us you’re an expert on the Sangami Fire Cult. We’d like permission to briefly transit your estate so we can visit them.’

‘The Sangami tribe—it’s a delicate situation,’ he replied. ‘We’ll need to discuss a few things.’ His initial warmth was lost to a sudden reluctance.

Fang broke the hesitant silence. ‘I see you have a personal jetboat in your fishing fleet.’
‘Yes, one of my favourite toys, but also quite practical. If the airstrip’s closed due to bad weather, I can be in Madang in thirty minutes. In the wet season, the road is often washed away between here and Kaviak. With the jetboat, I’m only ten minutes from the airstrip in an emergency. Are you familiar with Hamilton jet boats, Mr. Mitchell?’

‘I had a single jet fifteen footer a few years back. The quickest and most manoeuvrable boat I’ve ever owned.’

‘They certainly are. Living in the shadow of a volcano encourages one to invest in such speedy transport. Right, let’s have coffee in the lounge. My own homegrown brew of course.’
Kless smiled proudly, then led his visitors to the main living room.

Ornate artefacts worthy of a museum decorated narrow solid wall sections upholstered with decorative pit-pit grass. Cleverly thatched in two distinct tones, it created fascinating herringbone patterns. Huge elaborately carved storyboards from the Murik Lakes hung above sinister black masks from the Chambris area of the Sepik Plains. Morobean and Madang carved idols and figurines with eyes of Cowry shells stood against the walls.

Fang paused at a huge bookshelf, impressed by the comprehensive collection of Pacific history books and war records.
‘Mind if I browse through your library?’
‘Feel free. Meanwhile the rest of us can get comfortable.’
Combat arrows and spears hung in large fans alongside displays of ceremonial weapons. All sported intricately carved barbs of fire-hardened black palm.

A screen partly concealed one corner of the room, the entrance guarded by a huge carved crocodile. It’s back was shaped into a bench for four, the jaws hung agape, studded with real crocodile teeth. The sound of women’s voices came from beyond the screen.

‘Don’t mind them,’ smiled Kless. ‘Some of my staff relaxing.’
A big muscular man sat quietly at the bamboo bar. His skin looked coal black, almost certainly a Buka islander. The giant looked tough and ignored the others in the room. He silently joined the women behind the screen. A small machine pistol swung from webbing at his hip. Jake elected to take up the vacated stool at the bar. A single-edged razor blade lay on the bar alongside a mirror lightly dusted with white powder.

‘Recognise the gun, Fang?’ Dave queried.
‘Yep, Uzi 9mm sub-machine gun. Foldin’ wire stock, 18 inches long and weighs less than nine pounds. A 25 round magazine, capable of firing 650 rounds a minute with limited accuracy up
to 200 metres.’

Kless listened, clearly impressed. ‘You know your weapons, Mr. Mitchell.’

‘Are automatic weapons necessary out here?’ Dave challenged.

‘With the current state of emergency and martial law, I thought it prudent to ensure my property is protected.’

They sat down and Jan reopened the conversation. ‘Is that your Cessna Skymaster parked at the airstrip?’

Kless did not answer directly. Instead he motioned to a shapely light-skinned Tolai woman, who was watering macrame suspended coleus. She moved off to prepare coffee. ‘Why, yes.
Another of my toys. Excellent for fish spotting for my small fishing fleet.’ Kless lived in overt luxury and flaunted his wealth and power at every opportunity.

‘Were you flying it in the Finisterre Ranges two weeks ago?’ Jan probed.
‘Two weeks ago? No, although I charter it out often. I can’t remember who had it at that time. My manager looks after all that,’ he added evasively.

The siting of the house captured the sea breeze both under and through the building. A gentle trade wind wafted across the open glass louvres. It carried the fragrance of frangipani into the opulence of the room. The Tolai girl returned, and the strong aroma of freshly brewed Arabica coffee overpowered nature’s floral perfume.

Kless waited as the woman poured coffee. ‘My own blend from my highland plantation,’ he repeated smugly.

‘Did you by chance charter your plane to a Japanese man?’ Jan persisted.

Kless hesitated before his charm returned. ‘As I said, I don’t deal directly with the customers. On occasions I charter it to Japanese groups.’ He called for a selection of spirits and crystal
port glasses before settling back into his favourite lounge chair. It resembled a throne, supported by uprights in the form of carved human figures. The armrests exposed a wonder of intricate carving. Crocodiles consumed the tails of twisted pythons, like macabre daisy chains. ‘I hear you’re diving on the old Jap barge at Kulili,’ he probed changing the subject. ‘Obviously it’s beyond salvage. What are you after?’

 

ISBN: 0958141800

 

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