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The days on Huntress are darkening.

The Tivinel’s star dimmer has stopped the planet’s fossil-fuelled warming by diverting much of the sun’s energy away, but crops are now failing in the faint light. For the Gomeral slaves, food is increasingly scarce and whispers of rebellion grow.

At the forefront, Pedro finds himself guiding his people towards the future he came from, knowing all the while that one false step will destroy everything he has sworn to protect.

But all may be in vain, for in that future darkness also falls on the far-flung descendants of those Gomeral. Bashed and imprisoned on Hazler, David Collins faces execution because of his genes, while Joel and Loraine must unravel a genetic mystery of their own as a new omniscient Pasha comes into his powers.

On the precipice of war, friends become foes and unlikely allegiances form as the last vestige of peace slips towards oblivion. Yet a glimmer still remains of sunshine, warm seas and love; of a simple life, lost long ago but perhaps even now still redeemable.

Set immediately after Plight of the Tivinel, this story concludes the adventure begun with Barefoot Times, Call of the Delphinidae, The Mind of the Dolphins and Cry of the Bunyips.


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ISBN: 978-0-6482230-5-4
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Fiction


Jeff Pages
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2018
Language: English




This book is dedicated to the Mudie family (Peter, Sue and Ross) for their unwavering enthusiasm and support throughout the series.




As always, my blind friend Ray Foret Jr has been a literal sounding board for me throughout the writing of this book, providing valuable feedback on my strengths and weaknesses and helping me see the light at the end of the Deadfall Ridge tunnel. 

I’m indebted to my friend and fellow author Tim Mills, a Cheyenne Native American, for his enthusiastic support over many years and our long chats on how stories like this evolve. 

Inspiration sometimes comes from strange places. Stephen Fry’s documentary Out There gave me the nudge I needed to pin down the relationship between my characters David and Cam, adding what I hope is an interesting twist to this story. 

To my friends who braved a cold July evening in Woy Woy for the launch of Plight of the Tivinel, many thanks for making it such a memorable event. I look forward to seeing you all again for the launch of this book. 

Thank you, dear readers, for following this story from its humble beginnings in Barefoot Times. I hope you find this conclusion to the tale as satisfying as I did in writing it. 

Last but not least, many thanks to the wonderful staff at Zeus Publications for their great work and support over what is now almost a decade and a half since this series began. 


Author Biography 

Jeff Pages was born in Sydney, Australia in 1954 and from a very early age was fascinated by science and technology. After finishing high school he attended the University of Sydney from where he ultimately obtained a doctorate in Electrical Engineering. 

In 1989, his work took him to Tamworth in north-western New South Wales, where he joined the Tamworth Bushwalking and Canoe Club and spent many weekends bushwalking in the nearby parks and forests.  

In 1995 he moved back to the Sydney region and now lives at Umina Beach on the northern shore of Broken Bay where he has recently retired from full-time work. 

He has always enjoyed going barefoot as much as possible and has been a member of the Society for Barefoot Living, an internet-based discussion group, since 1996. 

In 2013 he became a keen geocacher, combining his love of technology and bushwalking in the GPS-based hunt for caches hidden by fellow participants. 

His other retirement adventures include walking barefoot along the entire 250 km Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle, as documented in his blog at barefootingthegnw.wordpress.com. 

His first novel, Barefoot Times, was published in 2004, followed by Call of the Delphinidae in 2006, The Mind of the Dolphins in 2008, Cry of the Bunyips in 2011 and Plight of the Tivinel in 2015. 

Rise of the Gomeral is the sixth and final book in the series. 

Further background information can be found on the series’ website at www.barefoottimes.net.





Roly looked up, smiling, as Joel led the others across in front of the dais.

“My time as Pasha is drawing to a close; I have foreseen it. Do not despair at my passing, for I’ve had a fulfilling life far beyond all expectations. A time of upheaval approaches, but don’t lose hope, for from this will spring a far greater good. Thank you, my subjects, and I wish you well.”

He closed his eyes before suddenly going limp and falling to the floor, a dart protruding from his back.

“What happened?”

“He’s dead!”

“Who killed him?”

“I did,” Drago said, bounding down the rocks and climbing onto the dais. “The rule of Roly is ended and I, Drago, am now your Pasha.”

“That’s preposterous!” Jarred yelled. “The challenge of the Pasha is a rite of passage, a test of skills both physical and psychic. You cheated, you little bastard!”

“Enough! The old ways have ended, old man Barungi. Return to your village while you still live.”

Jarred shook his fist. “This means war!”

“No, Dad,” Hamati said, but Jarred was already marching back up the aisle. He shook his head before following along behind.

“To hell with the Barungi!” Drago said. “Where are my Tivinel?”

“Right here, my lord,” Mayor Sandford said, emerging from the wings.

Drago settled himself in front of the lectern. “You heard Roly speak of global warming and the need to limit our use of fossil fuels until something better comes along. I say no, there are other ways; the Tivinel scientists have created a star-dimming machine, a device to control our climate while allowing us to exploit our coal and oil reserves to their full extent. No-one need suffer deprivation while the Barungi tinker with their subspace transducers!”

“Hear, hear!” Sandford shouted.

“Praise the Pasha!” chanted the crowd, this time with much more enthusiasm. “Praise him with great praise!”

“I think we’d better leave them to it,” Joel said, ushering the others down the stairs to the portal room. He turned to Charon. “Someone on this side will need to permanently shut down the portal after we’ve passed through; we can’t risk another Tristan.”

“I’m not sure if I know how.”

“I can do it,” Pedro said.

“But, but you’re coming with us, aren’t you?”

“No, on the whole I think not. I’ve found my true purpose here, as well as my flesh and blood.” He pinched himself, confirming he was real. “While you were dealing with Tristan, Roly touched my mind, telling me the Gomeral will need someone with my skills in the years ahead, should I wish to remain. I told him I would.”


Elsa grasped Pedro’s hand while kissing him on the cheek.

“I think having a pretty girl by his side also swayed his decision,” David whispered to Cam. Cam grinned, putting his arm around David’s shoulder.

Joel turned to Willy. “What about you?”

“I’d like to come with you, Joel, if you don’t mind.”

“No, of course not.”

“Right,” Charon said, “I guess it’s settled.”

Pedro scanned the readouts. “Roly also gave me a flash course on how to drive this thing. Now that Tristan’s cusp has ended, the portal is locked back onto your own time. All I have to do is flick this switch –”

Joel half expected a temporal implosion, but instead the portal ring became transparent.

“Off you go and good luck, all of you.”

“You too, Pedro.”

Joel ushered David, Cam and Willy into the portal before following them through. 


* * *


Hamati dropped a handful of soil onto the coffin, before Pedro and Elsa did the same. Other Barungi and Gomeral from the nearby village formed an orderly queue, quietly paying their respects to clan leader, Jarred.

“I can never replace him,” Hamati said to Pedro as they stepped aside.

“And nor should you; you have different qualities, Hamati, qualities that’ll be sorely needed in the years ahead.”

“Careful, Pedro, you don’t want to say anything that might mess with the future.”

“Don’t worry, I have only the vaguest notion of what’s coming and even that’s third hand and most likely inaccurate.”

Another of the Barungi stepped over to them. “Excuse me, Hamati, the Pasha, curse his name, has called for parley and wants both you and the Tivinel leader to meet with him on the island.”

“Tell him I’ll be there.”

“Yes, my liege.”

Hamati grimaced as soon as he’d left. “I hate it when they call me that.”

“So what are you going to do?” Elsa asked.

“I have little choice but to accept whatever terms he dictates. Our army is spent; those still alive have barely the energy to stand and if the Tivinel destroy our crops we’re finished.”

Pedro grinned. “I know the Pasha’s supposed to be an all-seeing telepath but Drago’s still a boy and from all accounts didn’t see Tristan sneaking up on him until he had a knife at his throat. Do you think you can shield your innermost thoughts from him without it looking like you’re doing it?”

“Of course, that’s easy.”

“Excellent. Body language is everything, so what you should do is talk and act as if you hold the upper hand; make it sound like agreeing to his peace is a concession on your part.”

“I see, yes, but the Tivinel will know I’m bluffing.”

“They might think you’re bluffing, but they can’t know for certain. You must keep them guessing.”

Hamati nodded. “I want you both to accompany me, but you’ll have to be disguised as slaves.”


“Free Gomeral are no longer permitted on the Pasha’s island.”

Elsa spat on the ground before blushing as she remembered where she was. “Sorry, Uncle, but that’s disgusting.”

“It’s something we’ll all have to get used to, I’m afraid.”


On his previous visit to the island, Pedro had thought the household staff looked like actors and actresses performing in some great dramatic work, but now they were more like prison guards. In place of the Count, it was The Screw who led them through into the Pasha’s hall.

Hamati gasped, staring at the walls, for where there had once been beautiful frescos of corals and sea grasses, amongst which a Black Dolphin reputedly hid, there were now only fanged creatures like winged lizards or dragons on a sooty grey background.

“The ashes of hell,” Elsa whispered to Pedro.

“Hush,” Hamati said, walking forward to bow before Drago who was seated on Roly’s throne atop the dais. Behind him hung a huge portrait of himself, a black-skinned boy with bright red hair and pupils like frozen pitch.

More prison guards ushered Hamati to a seat on one side of a large table set before the dais, with the Tivinel mayor, Sandford, sitting opposite. Hamati grinned at him, showing as many teeth as possible, and Pedro was pleased to see Sandford look away.

“Hamati, what are these Gomeral doing here?” Drago said.

“They’re my personal slaves, sire.”

“I don’t recall Jarred ever needing slaves, but then you’re not your father.”

“No, I’m not.”

Drago cleared his throat. “This war you two are fighting serves no purpose other than to destroy valuable resources, my resources, and will henceforth cease. You’ll both withdraw your forces to your respective bases immediately.”

“But, sire, the Barungi started it,” Sandford said.

“No,” Hamati said, “you started it by conspiring to kill our rightful Pasha. I wouldn’t trust a Tivinel as far as I could throw one!”

“I didn’t come here to listen to Barungi insults!”

“Enough!” Drago said. “There’ll be no more bickering; my word is final and my word is law. Is that understood?”

“Yes, sire.”



“Good. I need you both working productively, not fighting each other, for I have great plans for this world, yes, great plans. So, since you’re unwilling to cooperate with one another, I hereby decree that from this day hence, the Barungi will be confined to the coastal lowlands. Any Barungi found standing on ground more than 50 metres above the Geodetic Height Datum will be immediately executed.”

Hamati leapt to his feet. “That’s an outrage, sire!”

Drago grinned. “Yes, it is, but you have only yourselves to blame. Now, Sandford, I’m granting the Tivinel free rein over the rest of the planet, but in return you’ll build a network of fine cities and roads for me, filled with factories and industry like never before seen. For too long my predecessor stifled development of this world; now things will be different.”

Sandford grinned. “Thank you, my liege.”

Drago turned back to Hamati. “Such development will require much greater food resources, which the Barungi will supply. Your farm production must increase tenfold or you will starve.”

“That’s impossible; we don’t have the workforce, particularly now the Tivinel have killed so many.”

“Indeed, which brings me to the third element of my master plan. We all know that the Gomeral, while lacking any of our telepathic ability, have great manual dexterity, therefore, from this day forward, any Gomeral over 12 years of age and not otherwise indentured will be enslaved into my service, from where they’ll be sent to work with the Tivinel industrialists or the Barungi farmers as I may see fit.”

Elsa looked about to protest, but Pedro restrained her.

“Not now, not here,” he whispered.

Drago looked firstly at Sandford and then Hamati.

“Are there any questions?”

Hamati shook his head while quietly fuming.

“You are most kind, sire,” Sandford said.

“Kindness has nothing to do with it. I want results, Sandford, and that’s all that matters.”

“Yes, sire.”

“Excellent, you’re both dismissed.”

The Screw led Hamati and his entourage back to the portal room, standing guard until they’d all passed through.


“So what do we do?” Elsa asked once they were back in Hamati’s house.

Hamati sighed. “We have no choice but to obey the Pasha.”

“What about us?” Pedro asked.

“I’ll have you both indentured to me; Drago’s already seen you with me so to do otherwise would look suspicious.”

“Very well, but I take it we’re to be more than mere slaves.”

Hamati stared into space for a moment. “Those three Gomeral who came with you from the future, Joel, David and Cam, appeared intelligent, resourceful and compassionate, am I right?”

“Yes indeed.”

“The future’s perhaps not as bleak as it seems and Gomeral have a part to play in it, an important part. No, you and Elsa won’t be mere slaves, as you put it. I want you to form a secret Gomeral society, one that to all outward appearances is only concerned with the well-being of Drago’s slaves, but there’ll be another agenda known only to us.”

“What’s that?”

Hamati drew them close. “The Rise of the Gomeral.”


Part One


Thread of the Pasha 



Joel looked up, rubbing his eyes. “Chemistry? Why do I have to do chemistry?”

“What’s wrong?” Loraine asked.

“It says here that I have to take chemistry, but surely that can’t be right. Why would an environmental scientist need to be a chemist?”

“Well, um, there are things like soil and water acidity, I guess, and fertiliser residue, even chemical spills, I suppose. Anyway, I have to do chemistry too and you don’t hear me complaining.”

“Yeah, but you’re majoring in biochemistry so of course you’ll be doing it.”

Loraine sighed. “It’s only for one year, Joel; after that you can start to specialise. Anyway, you did okay in chemistry at school, didn’t you?”

“I guess, but back then I didn’t know what I wanted to be.”

“I don’t see why that should change anything.”

“It seems such a waste of time now, that’s all. I could be doing interesting stuff instead.”

“No knowledge is ever wasted, Joel. You of all people should know that.”


“Wasn’t there some critical thing you did that involved pi?”

“Oh, that. Yeah, but, um, okay, I suppose you’re right; you always are, aren’t you?”

“Of course; that’s what I’m here for. Now finish off that form before they kick us out and lock the doors.”

Joel stared back at the page, rubbing his eyes again as he tried to find his place.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, but why do they have to make this damn printing so small?”

“Show me.”

Loraine glanced at the form. “It looks okay to me. Maybe you should see an optometrist.”

“What? No way! I can see fine, really.”

“Joel, it wouldn’t hurt just to have your eyes checked.”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“What’s wrong with you? You’re behaving like a five-year-old.”

Joel looked up at her, tears starting to form in the corners of his eyes. “What – what if he says I’m going blind?”

Loraine shook her head. “You’re not going blind; you probably just need glasses, that’s all.”

“Yeah, but, but what if it’s something more serious, something they can’t fix?”

“Then it’ll happen whether you see someone about it or not.”

Joel ran his hands through his hair, pulling it down over his eyes before brushing it aside. “It’s just, well, it’s only started happening since I fell into that fissure back when, you know. Hundreds of years passed before my body was reconstituted and I think some genetic ones might have turned into zeros or something.”

“You mean there might have been a mutation?”

“Well, yeah. When I had to inject Cam with the antidote I couldn’t see well enough to find a vein and had to get David to help me. That’s never happened before.”

“Oh, Joel, I’m sure everything’s just fine, but, but hang on, that French policeman got a sample of your genetic makeup from some of your stuff I’d been carrying prior to your kidnapping, so it ought to be possible to do a direct comparison between then and now.”


“It might be expensive, though.”


“Let’s see what the optometrist says first, okay?”

“Yeah, okay, I guess.” 

* * *


“Come on through, Joel,” the optometrist said, leading him into the examination room. “Take a seat and tell me what’s troubling you.”

“Thanks. I, um, I’m having trouble with close-up stuff and fine print, particularly if the light’s not too good.”

“Has this only just started or has it been going on for some time?”

“It’s been only in the last six months; ever since, um, I went through a rather traumatic time.”

“Oh, you’re the one who was kidnapped, aren’t you?”


“I see. Well let’s begin by doing a quick check of your distance vision.” He dimmed the room lights while turning on an illuminated eye chart on the far wall. “How far down the chart can you read?”

“Um, the bottom line is D E F P O T E C, isn’t it?”

“Very good.” He handed Joel a card while turning the lights back on. “Now try this.”

Joel stared at it, moving it back and forth in a vain attempt to find a distance at which he could read it. “Sorry, it’s just a blur to me.”

The optometrist nodded. “It seems you have hyperopia, but let’s make some actual measurements to be sure.”

Joel grimaced. “What’s hyperopia? Am I going blind?”

“No, not at all; it just means you’re long-sighted, your cornea is too flat to be able to focus light properly on the retina. In childhood the lens is flexible enough to be able to compensate, but as you get older it starts to stiffen, so eventually you can’t focus on close objects.”

“I see.”

“Come over to the machine and we’ll put some numbers to it. We used to do this manually but these days it’s all automated and extremely accurate, or so the manufacturers say.”

He sat Joel in front of what looked like an overly large set of binoculars.

“Just relax your eyes and don’t try to focus on anything.”

A series of rapidly flashing circles appeared, firstly fuzzy but becoming increasingly sharp as the machine adjusted to match Joel’s vision. Within a few seconds it was done.

“All straight-forward, Joel; there’s no astigmatism or other aberrations to worry about. I’ll just do a glaucoma test and take some retina photos to finish up.”

“So, um, what causes it? Is it genetic?”

“Actually yes, and they’ve even isolated the genes responsible. It’s a bit of a strange one, as the same gene can cause both hyperopia and myopia, which is short-sightedness. Some people can even be long-sighted in one eye but short-sighted in the other, although it’s quite rare.”

“Gosh! That’d be confusing.”

“It is, and it can be difficult to correct without making things appear bigger in one eye than the other. In your case, though, both eyes are the same so it’s easy-peasy with either spectacles or contact lenses.”

“I think I’ll go for the spectacles; I’d feel too queasy trying to put anything into my eyes.”

“There’s also the option of laser surgery, but we prefer to leave that until our patients are a little older, say around twenty-five.”

“The spectacles will be fine, I’m sure. Will I need to wear them all the time?”

“You can if you want, and ultimately you’ll have to, but for now you can just use them for reading as your distance vision is quite good.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“Come on out and you can choose a frame you like.”

Joel stared at the bewildering array of styles racked before him, ranging from the finest wire frames to bulky black plastic ones.

“How about these?” the optometrist asked, slipping a gold-coloured wire-framed pair over Joel’s nose and ears.

Joel stared at his reflection in the mirror, thinking it could be a whole lot worse. “Yeah, they’re good; I’ll take them.”

“Don’t you want to try any others?”

“No, I don’t handle choices very well. These are fine, really.”

“Okay then; I wish all my customers were as easily pleased. Now just look straight at me.” He pulled out a marker pen, placing dots on the plastic lenses.

“What are they for?”

“It’s to align the lenses with the position of your pupils.”

“Oh, right.”

“That’s it then. We should have them ready for you to pick up in about a week.”

A week; just seven more days of youthful bliss before the first stage of aging ensnared him. Soon he’d be having his hips replaced and be riding a mobility scooter.





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