Blood Of The Sun: Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray
Kendall Reviews was able to obtain a rare interview with crime-fighting brother-sister team Penny and Matiu Yee, stars of The Path of Ra supernatural crime-noir series, ahead of the duo’s third adventure, BLOOD OF THE SUN (as told to Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray) which releases November 2020 from Raw Dog Screaming Press.
This brilliant interview will be available TOMORROW, for now, please enjoy an exclusive excerpt from Blood Of The Sun
A pair of bulked-up officers carrying semi-automatic rifles stop them at the entrance to the Port of Auckland. One of them steps out of the milky wash of the headlights and approaches the vehicle. He raps his knuckles on the windscreen.
Penny’s heart skips. This isn’t normal.
In the Holden’s driver’s seat, Penny’s brother Matiu is as cool as a cucumber. He lowers the window. “Officer?” he says, his tone unctuous. It’s the voice he uses to get one over Mum, one he’s perfected over years of trying to get out of the dishes.
The man lifts his face-shield, revealing a five o’clock shadow. Impressive, since it’s barely four AM. “You’ll have to turn the vehicle around, sir,” he says, raising an eyebrow, a decided lack of sincerity in that ‘sir’.
Penny hasn’t got time for their pissing match. Tanner called her forty minutes ago. He’d expected her in ten. She leans over the console, ducking her head to speak to the man across her brother. “You need to let us through.”
“Yeah, it’s not going to happen, lady. This whole area is off limits.” The officer waves his rifle casually towards Bledisloe Wharf. “It’s a crime scene.”
Penny resists the urge to roll her eyes. “Yes, exactly. A crime scene. That’s why we’re here. Detective Inspector Tanner called me expressly. I’m Dr Penny Yee from Yee Scientific Consultancy. This is my…driver, Matiu Yee, and in the back is my technician, Beaker, I mean, Grant Deaker.”
The officer sucks air in over his teeth and shakes his head. “Sweetheart, you could be the twenty-first Timelord with her Companion, I still wouldn’t be able to let you through. My orders are not to let anyone in without the proper authority.”
Penny bristles. She’s no one’s bloody sweetheart, least of all some Neanderthal toting a gun. She has a doctoral degree, close to a decade’s-worth of post-doc experience, and she owns her own business—the parts the bank doesn’t own, anyway.
“I assure you, I have the proper authority,” she says sweetly. As sweetly as she can through gritted teeth. “Detective Inspec—”
“It’s all good, mate,” interrupts Matiu, buzzing the window up to half-mast. “This time of the morning, you won’t get any argument from me. I’m just as happy to go back to bed.” Stamping on the accelerator, he lurches the car forward, barely missing the squaddie out front, then slams the vehicle into reverse.
“Matiu!” Penny jabs the ignition switch.
The car jolts to a stop, whiplashing them all back and forth. In the rear, there’s a nervous squawk from Beaker, followed by a yelp from Cerberus, the dog’s nails scratching the leather upholstery.
She glances backwards. “Sorry, guys.”
Her lab technician shuffles his feet to one side, allowing the Labrador Retriever to clamber out of the footwell. “No problems. We’re all fine here, aren’t we, Cerb?” Beaker’s voice, and his own blaze of red hair, disappear behind a wall of golden fur.
In the half-light, Matiu glares. “Pen, c’mon. Let’s just go.” He reaches for the ignition.
Penny stops his hand. “No!”
“Pandora—” Matiu says, and Penny’s teeth ache. The only name she dislikes more than ‘sweetheart’ is her given one.
Matiu lowers his voice. “I don’t know if you noticed, but the Mutant Ninja Terrorists in black out there, the ones sporting the HK MP5s, those guys are from the Armed Offenders Squad.”
“Which means they only get called out when the offenders are armed,” Matiu says slowly.
“Well, yes. It’s a multiple homicide, Matiu,” Penny says, equally slowly. “That’s why Tanner asked me to bring Beaker. My guess is a couple of wharfies had a set to or something…”
“A couple of wharfies? Open your eyes, sis. Have you seen how many squaddies there are out there?”
Penny squints through the haze of pre-dawn humidity. Her breath catches. Between the teetering stacks of containers, there has to be at least fifty squaddies shuffling like zombies in the eerie light of the aurora.
The upholstery squeaks as Beaker leans forward. “There do seem to be a lot of men with guns…”
Cerberus lets out a low growl.
Penny nibbles her lip. Definitely not normal.
“Let me get Tanner on the phone,” she says. While she’s fumbling in her satchel for her cell, knuckles rap the window again. “Give me a second, will you? I’m trying to get your bloody authorisation for you,” she mutters.
“Um…Penny,” Beaker mumbles from the back. “It’s Officer Clark.”
Clark? Penny’s head whips up. “For goodness sake, Beaker. Why didn’t you say?” Gripping her satchel, Penny throws open the passenger door and gets out of the car. “Officer Clark. Sorry we took so long. These men won’t let us through.”
“It’s OK,” Clark tells the gatekeepers. “Dr Yee is our science consult.” He smiles stiffly, giving them a thumbs up and the squaddies fall back, their black uniforms melting into the shadows.
Penny wants to scream. A century and a half of women’s suffrage and a man’s word still carries more weight. Still, they’re in, which means the job—whatever it is—is hers, so maybe this isn’t the time to kick up a fuss about the state of women’s rights.
“Matiu, you might want to pull the car in over there,” Clark orders. He signals to a parking bay off to the right. “Come this way, Dr Yee. And you too, Mr Beaker.”
While Matiu parks the car, Penny and Beaker follow the constable, who weaves them through the containers towards the end of the wharf, where a single ship is berthed on the northern quay. Beaker lopes alongside Penny, the on-site sampling kit bumping against his thigh. Clark hurries ahead.
“Clark? What’s happened?” Penny calls. “Why the rush?”
Shaking his head, Clark says nothing.
“I reckon his blood 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine titre is low,” Beaker quips.
Penny gives Beaker a wry smile. Clark isn’t the only one who missed their morning dose of coffee.
They pass under a stack of containers, its bulk momentarily blocking the streaks of green and violet rippling in arcs across the sky, and Penny shivers in spite of the humidity. It’s only the fourth geomagnetic storm in a month. When auroral lights appear this far north of the geographic pole, and in the Auckland CBD where light pollution is high, it can only mean one thing: the solar winds coming off the sun are nothing less than colossal. When the second storm occurred, Penny had looked it up on Auroralert, a real-time solar wind and geomagnetic data mapping service. It was alarming. They were reporting planetary indices as high as Kp8 and Kp9. These guys aren’t crackpots either, their data streamed via NASA’s ACE spacecraft. Huge geomagnetic storms coming in thick and fast.
And so far north.
Hardly surprising then that certain scientists are saying that this marks the start of the Earth’s magnetic pole reversal. Penny’s inclined to agree. After 780,000 years since the last one, a flip is long overdue. But some people—the end-is-nigh doomsayers—are calling it the end of the world. With Auckland’s recent blackouts, the quakes, the ongoing heat wave, and now a weekly southern light show, it’s easy to understand why. Either way, over the past few months it’s resulted in an epic crime wave with people throwing caution to the wind, settling old feuds, or looking for a quick score so they can tick off all those items on their bucket lists before civilisation disappears from the face of the planet. Desperate times. Last week, someone told Penny that Tanner’s department had forty homicides on the books.
“It’s a bloody shitstorm,” Clark says, echoing Penny’s thoughts.
Penny frowns. It’s not like Clark to swear, though.
“Er…what exactly do you mean by a shitstorm?” Beaker asks.
But by now they have reached the end of the stacks. Penny stops dead. She gasps.
“Oh my God,” Beaker whispers.
The bodies. So many bodies. Charred and mutilated beyond recognition, they lie in blackened broken heaps. Bledisloe Wharf has become Danté’s Plain of Burning Sand.
Blood Of The Sun
There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Because if he’s involved, Penny will murder him herself…
Matiu can taste the chaos in the air. All they’ve done so far is keep it at bay, but now the streets are shuddering in protest. Things are pushing up against the veil like floodwaters. The coming days promise to be dark, but there’s a bright side. He’s got this flash new car, Penny’s been too busy working to bug him, and Erica keeps scheduling their probation meetings over her lunch hour…
Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.
Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning author-editor from Aotearoa-New Zealand (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows), and a three-time Bram Stoker Award®-nominee. Her work includes military thrillers, the Taine McKenna Adventures, supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (with Dan Rabarts), and debut collection Grotesque: Monster Stories. She has edited sixteen anthologies, her latest projects being Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women co-edited with Geneve Flynn, and the AHWA’s Midnight Echo #15. She is co-founder of Young NZ Writers and of the Wright-Murray Residency for Speculative Fiction Writers, HWA Mentor of the Year, and an NZSA Honorary Literary Fellow.
Dan Rabarts is an award-winning author and editor, four-time recipient of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award and three-time winner of the Australian Shadows Award, occasional sailor of sailing things, part-time metalhead and father of two wee miracles in a house on a hill under the southern sun. Together with Lee Murray, he co-writes the Path of Ra crime-noir thriller series from Raw Dog Screaming Press (Hounds of the Underworld, Teeth of the Wolf, Blood of the Sun) and co-edited the flash-fiction horror anthology Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror, and At The Edge, an anthology of Antipodean dark fiction. His steampunk-grimdark-comic fantasy series Children of Bane starts with Brothers of the Knife and continues in Sons of the Curse and Sisters of Spindrift (Omnium Gatherum Media). Dan’s science fiction, dark fantasy and horror short stories have been published in numerous venues worldwide. He also regularly narrates and produces for podcasts and audiobooks. Find him at dan.rabarts.com.