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TARSHAN


TARSHAN

Trapped in a vortex, unable to escape the terrifying force, Tarshan and Celeeshia are projected through time into a parallel universe billions of years in the future.  A tide of evil envelops the surrounding systems.  The Gorgonian humanoids, and a Livvid brotherhood vaguely reminiscent of corpses notorious for barbarity, personify two opposing aspects of chaos. 

The Livvids concealed aims to destabilise the existing social order of the masse; to apotheosise their own to Lords of the Galaxy.

In the blood-soaked labyrinth an corridors of the inner city Tarshan and his legions take their vengeance on the fleeing Livvids into an Underworld of appalling atrocity.

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ISBN: 978-0-9942751-1-0     Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 454
Genre: Science Fiction
Cover: Clive Dalkins

  By the same author:

Stealers



Author
-
John Stuart Sullivan
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2016
Language: English


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Dedication 

I dedicate this book to my two sons Mark and Jason and families, my brother Phil and family, to my editor Marilyn, and finally to Lucy, my Jack Russel, who never left my side while writing Tarshan.

CHAPTER 1 - sample


Every step taken along the narrow winding paths in the Barshanian twilight the danger was an obscure presence until awakened. How often had they been forewarned of the treacherous labyrinths in the forest, a transit through infernal regions where few dared, yet their kind never ceased to amaze him, the law-breakers their souls in turmoil adrift with dissent who lacked perception and a disregard for the ravings of
madmen. Forbidding depths played havoc with the conscious state bordering on modes of behaviour leaning towards irrationality.

The giant spines had a voracious appetite aroused by a sensory system receiving stimuli from the external approach of prey; they sensed the sweating fear exuding like drops of blood in coagulation from the
nearness of the living unsuspecting.
Equidistantly-spaced cube obliterators lined each side of the paths vaporising the molecular structure of life forms they came in contact with. The intense beams nonetheless never interflowed leaving a killing zone of thirty feet between. It was through these unswept gaps the serrated spines covered in barbs and camouflaged stingers dripping hot, stinging venom seized their prey, where the air reeked with the
stench of ripped, decaying flesh and the suffocating odour of converted, carnivorous plant. In the beginning there were four, hard men brutalised by a system bred on hatred for inmates the controllers feared. Lewis was a blue skinned rapist, having taken over a thousand women on the twin worlds of Neleh 1 and 2, a boast he often came out with; in the minds of the sophisticated a deception deserving strong condemnation.

Mag-Gil and Stone were mass murderers and worked as a team in the dismemberment of humans in the hundreds. They went about their murderous acts with a brazen assurance. Despite their formidable
reputations there was one for whom they feared.
Towering over the three with a height of nine feet six inches Tarshan was innocent of any crime. He happened to be passing through a restricted zone which to the arresting watchmen was of no consequence he should have known better. An invincible blood-alien, yellow hair darker in tone than dawn light from a main-sequence star, fell over massive shoulders. Four years previously, together with the murderers, he had been transported to the dreaded penal moon Barshan from Ospray, a giant world of rocky plains and high mountainous ridges overhanging depthless ravines swept by icy rivers swarming with
insatiable creatures that cannibalized their own species.
Lewis was already incarcerated.
The vast hexagon superstructure covered one fifth the moon’s surface with the forest periphery along two of the straight grey-walled sides. Watch towers revealing clusters of beam weapons projecting like
radial spokes from revolving platforms, were situated at the top end in the northern sector surrounded by fortified floor to ceiling walls of shatterproof glass. From the sealed doors in each of the remaining four
sides a sand desert swept to a curving horizon that at certain times of the year appeared to waver under components of light separated by degreesof refraction lasting hours. The administrative staff suspected the phenomenon had to do with the seasonal weather patterns on the uninhabited world the moon orbited.
In all six wings five thousand holding cells bisected wide floors every two hundred feet. A single cell barely big enough to stand up in was allotted to each prisoner. Incorporated in the walls, a network of intersecting, electrical currents remained fully operational at all times, which for those incarcerated made life a living embodiment of perpetual suffering. To sleep the prisoner needed to lie on his or her side, both legs drawn up close to the chest in a foetal position provoking the onset of painful cramps if remaining on the floor for extended periods of time. Either that or have their limbs come in contact with the continuously
buzzing walls by relieving the spasms, therefore inducing an even more painful stimulus to the affected areas. This and other draconian methods of brutalism acted as a catalyst for what followed.
The time chosen for a mass breakout occurred several hours prior to first light and away from the beam towers when the prison controllers were at their fewest in lowering stages of drowsiness. Not all knew about the illegal exodus except for a minority of one hundred and fifty inmates from the first wing in close proximity to the main doors facing the sand dunes.

Once on the outside Tarshan chose a direction taking him to the right away from fleeing prisoners into the desert; the most dangerous route others would reject as a suicidal if not foolish undertaking not worth the risk.
He watched them go, a frenzied mob bent on escape so reckless and ignorant of what the shifting sands foretokened; a deceptive crossing to the unwary. If a few survived the hazards it would not take the penal
staff in pursuit long to catch up. ‘The fools take a direction that can only lead to disaster,’ he muttered to himself. He had a notion the controllers would not consider the forest as a crosscut to freedom. Nobody in their right mind would gamble irresponsibly fleeing through an area where none came back alive. When they eventually caught up to the wretches going east and found some missing it was not because they had chosen the most dangerous region. He smiled thinly at the disturbing prospect and turned to go, glancing up every now and again at the high walls on his right taking the precaution of a close proximity to the hard stone. He need not have bothered the walls were deserted this early. Two hours of darkness remained, sufficient time to reach the first line of forest on the far side of the vast penal complex.
Streams of faint light raced across the sharpest ridges of the highest dunes blanketing the hollows in slowly moving shadow from the horizon on the eastern side. On the western side it was still dark due to
the vast structure between when a palpable sense of intrusion entered the mind of Tarshan, an unwelcome presence behind him. Listening for the usual drift of sound when being followed he stood still. Turning slowly he perceived the outlines of three silent forms standing motionless, unsure whether to approach him or not, their left sides silhouetted against a backdrop of brightening pink sky.

For several moments they stared at each other, frozen looks linked with mistrust. Reluctantly he gave a brief nod and the three knew they were invited to join him. One was the blue man, the other two the
mass murderers. They had been keeping to the shadows as effectively as possible hoping to go undetected for a while longer, their train of thought a line similar to his: If they were to be taken it would not be by the controllers.
As he came up ahead of Mag-Gil and Stone, Lewis grinned, a toothless smile with a gravelly voice painful to the ears. “You choose wisely, you could have taken a more direct route and gone east.”
“I thought it impractical,” answered Tarshan indifferently looking down at the small man and noticed that he had discarded his heavy prison issued boots for light sandals. How he managed to keep them hidden from the controllers over such a long period of time eluded him. Two of the straps on the left foot showed signs of wear working loose and could prove a hindrance if they had to move quickly. The yellow orbs of Lewis caught his attention once more. “You already know the reason why without me having to elaborate.” He then set his eyes on the murderers who had not moved under extremes of trepidation.

Rapidly changing expressions and darting glances towards danger areas was always a barometer to the torment within.
“Why is it so damn quiet in there, no sound, nothing moving?”
Mag-Gil complained to no one in particular, an imploring look sealing his sweating forehead with a feeling of apprehension overwhelming him that some formless creature was about to leap out and crush him. His
eyes kept on darting first in one direction then another in search of his imaginary beast, but it never materialized.
“Because everything’s dead in there and has been for thousands of years,” Stone grunted with a sour twist of his mouth. “That’s why they kept on warning us, day in day out even while sleeping.” He looked
down at his hands aware they were shaking and felt self-conscious.
Above all else he despised those revealing any form of weakness, now here he was lacking the true spirit of the courageous, in its place a display of contemptible cowardice.
“Their continual warnings were designed to scare us into not escaping, nothing more,” Tarshan said wanting the murderers and the rapist out of his sight. “We are of no consequence to them whatsoever
whether we live or die. They detest the idea of having to look for inmates who continually turned a deaf ear to their warnings.”
He knew they were wasting time standing around airing past grievances. “You can remain here it makes no difference to me. I’m going in whether you want to stay or come with me.” He turned briskly and strode towards the nearest path which was a mere fifteen metres away where the smaller trees grew in little clumps unlike deeper in.
Listening to the irritating tones of three arguing amongst themselves, their voices barely perceptible the further he drew away from them, he wondered how far they had to traverse a region overgrown with dense forest before the western periphery was within reach; if there be an end to the tangled vegetation. A while back he could not help overhearing the controllers mention a forty-five mile distance, a journey taking at least two days, or did the forest overspread the entire moon.
“Wait for us, we’re coming!” Lewis hollered and started running to catch up, his motion awkward on account of the sandals, the murderers close on his heels not wanting to be left alone always looking
behind.
Tarshan gave a snort of disgust at the prospect of having them join him again. In their present state he failed to see how he could rely on them, and the first gap was just ahead. Realization dawned as he
glanced over his shoulder at the obliterator; it was twenty five feet away and they were standing on the demarcation line of the first killing zone.
Jumping back he shot his eyes to either side of the path sensing the early stirrings in the slender palpi-like attachments, their cue to go, and fast.
He knew they had four seconds remaining before the symbiotic appendages alerted the monstrous killing spines. Without further deliberation he sprinted across, a signal for the others to keep with him or rise up to a higher place if they hesitated, he did not have to tell them.
Airspace filled with the forest coming alive, distinct whack sounds and that of hurricane winds sweeping the tops of tall trees,bending branches under the strain sending down heavy rains of foliage to  carpet the surface and over time undergo fermentation. Giant spines, a dozen or so metres long lashed back and forth, a frenzied attack to snare that which trespassed on forest tracts. One thrust beyond the demarcation line and was instantly vaporised permeating the air with the acrid odour of combustion combinations. Surrounding the massive trunks smaller bushes began to shred seeping streams of poisonous sap from ripped stems spraying showers of stinging heat. The forest had changed: A different scene with everywhere thrashing belts of intense motion.
First across was Tarshan not stopping until he reached the second obliterator. Only then did he turn to look back uncaring for three who had changed the lives of so many.
Well within the safety margin Stone was vigorously patting himself down to see whether he had sustained any injury, an immense expression of relief registering on his glistening face.
Next was Mag-Gil followed by Lewis with his eyes bulging, his chest heaving, his breath a convulsive wheeze as he bent over clutching both knees to inhale precious air. One arm had a stream of blood
running down to his hand from a cut below the elbow. He had started off ahead of the others but more of the sandal straps had snapped loose slowing him down, the murderers having shoved him out of the way to reach the safety margin more quickly.
“What happened?” Mag-Gil asked paying Lewis a casual glance who was regaining some composure attending the wound.
“One of the creepers had a piece of me, or tried to get it, a superficial cut that won’t bother me in the least,” Lewis said stony-faced, and shoved a pointing finger into Mag-Gil’s face. “Next time you put
your hands on me it’ll be you two who stays behind.”
‘‘You keep on getting in the way like you always did back there in that hell hole,” Stone snarled, an ebullition of hatred imprinted across his face. “You’ll know now to keep your distance or the same will
happen.”

Deep blue eyes scanned ahead following a path that went in a straight line for several hundred metres before veering to the right out of sight. Tarshan then took note of the forest on either side: The frenzied
attack was becoming less violent, a deceptive lure to the inquisitive.
Satisfied, he turned to Lewis who was still working his arm, having finally stopped the red flow. “You better do something about those straps or they are going to be the death of you before the night is out.”
He felt in no mood to pursue the matter the warning sufficient to put some sense into the man’s head. 

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