Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Montag Press
Date of Publication: March 26, 2014
Number of pages: 304
Word Count: 75,000
Cover Artist: Jeremy Rathbone
SEAL Mitch Grace was among the first humans to see the aliens when they landed at the naval base where he was stationed, but like the rest of humanity, he was powerless to stop them.
Five years later, Mitch awakens from his coma under the care of an alien physician to find that aliens control the planet. Starting alone, as a one man army, he rallies the surviving humans to build a resistance movement to take the planet back from the alien conquerors. After his capture by the aliens, Mitch is forced into intergalactic slavery to become a gladiator, fighting as the sole representative of the human species. Against all odds and far from home, he lays the plans for the reconquest of his homeland.
Reconquest: Mother Earth is the thrilling combination of Red Dawn, Independence Day, and Gladiator.
Charles Amato stared at the enclosed area. His three years of Navy SEAL training and ops could hardly prepare him for what he was witnessing.
Charles closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened them, the impossible scene had not changed. He fought his instincts to run away. He had to take responsibility and do something.
Clutching his gun, he did not take it out. The threat wasn't immediate, and he did not want to appear hostile to the alien life forms fenced inside the motor pool storing military vehicles.
The alien nearest him was a large, stocky light-blue skinned creature whose spiky head looked oddly small in comparison to its tall, wide frame, which was over three meters in height. Its long tongue darted in and out from its sharp teeth. Four short and stocky legs supported the alien’s hairless body. Its four spindly arms, each with six thin fingers, shot out in all directions.
The alien looked like it was jumping rope as it bobbed its head and shifted its weight to each of its four feet. It gazed at Charles, but did not move toward him.
The second alien had a tall, angular body with a dark brown face and wide, oval eyes that looked almost human. Its pupils were the size of a quarter. Wiry tendrils just below its nose had the appearance of a long mustache except that the tendrils shifted and moved like appendages. Short, matted hair covered its head. Its mouth was located just above its neck. Two sets of short, mosquito-like wings from its back flapped continuously, creating a buzzing sound.
The second alien stood on an open-air vehicle that resembled a train, except that it hovered in the air and was not supported by tracks. A trail of smoke emanated from the rear of the vehicle. The alien’s upper torso stuck out, and it drove in a circle, not paying any attention to Amato.
Charles slowly stepped backward, hardly believing what he was seeing. Perhaps this was a hologram created by a computer wiz on a SEAL team, but these creatures occupied physical space and had mass.
Mentally retracing his tracks, he had returned from the base’s infirmary after receiving treatment on his sprained ankle. He had injured it on a jump during HALO training when he had been trying a maneuver while falling through the air.
After getting his ankle evaluated and rewrapped, his mind had been locked in on rest and relaxation during the upcoming weekend until he had encountered this situation. First, he had heard a buzzing sound. Then, he had spotted the vehicle moving, before getting a full view of the two aliens.
Other than the sprained ankle, Charles felt fine. He was not sick, hallucinating or delirious.
He considered his options. If they were hostile, he did not want to attract their attention. Although he was armed, he had no idea of their capabilities and did not want to find out.
He looked around, but could not see anyone nearby. He felt alone and isolated, wishing there was an officer to advise him.
The two aliens continued to ignore him. How the hell did they get here? Not just to the planet Earth, but within the Navy SEAL base on Coronado Island. They did not have a ship adequate for transport from a location thousands or millions of miles away. What did they want? They were not wearing any suits, which meant they were capable of breathing the Earth’s air. They probably came from an environment similar to this one. What did it all mean? Were these two a precursor of what was to come or had they arrived here accidentally?
The light blue alien chirped something incomprehensible. The second more human-looking alien did not reply. It tilted its head back and forth in a swaying motion. He wanted to call out and announce his presence, but the words stuck in his throat.
Charles had to do something. He was not a helpless civilian. He was a member of the most elite naval special warfare unit on the planet. It was time for him to get past his fear and act.
The second alien drove its hover-train towards the edge of the fence. The alien shook violently and screeched as its tendrils grabbed the fence.
The light blue alien began to jump up and down on its four legs and shrieked in unison with the other alien.
“What the hell?” Charles shook his head. He had to get help.
Navy SEAL Ensign Peter Estabrook sat behind his desk listening to the sob story of First Class SEAL trainee Pappalardo.
He had no time for this nonsense. Not everybody was cut out to be in the SEALs. Peter had discovered that firsthand when more than three quarters of his training class dropped out. They only wanted the very best, and not everybody could cut it. He had known many good men who did not make it through training, but to whine and complain on your way out like Pappalardo was pathetic. According to Pappalardo, it was everybody else’s fault but his own.
“The instructors aren’t giving me a fair shake, sir,” Pappalardo said. “I mean I could do this stuff. They just aren’t being fair.”
Peter tried to hold back his anger. He felt like grabbing the kid by his throat. If Pappalardo couldn’t make it through this stage of the training, there was no way he would make it through Hell Week, where many strong men folded under the pressure.
“I can assure you that none of the trainers have treated you unfairly,” Peter said. “We only accept the best and don't make apologies for our high standards. I am sure that there are other careers within the US Navy that would be more suitable for you.”
“Hey, I can be a SEAL, sir,” insisted Pappalardo. “I’m better than a lot of these other guys. They ain’t got nothin’ on me.”
Peter gritted his teeth. “You have some kind of nerve, Pappalardo. You come into my office making all kinds of demands. I was trying to let you off easy, but you want to push it. Do you have any idea of what it means to be a SEAL? Do you?”
Pappalardo stammered but did not reply.
“Let me tell you, son, I have served as a Navy SEAL in two wars and more combat missions than I can remember. It means sitting in a lake for hours hoping you don’t get discovered, waiting to ambush your enemy. It means diving off of a plane four miles up in the air and trying to land on a moving target. It means going into enemy territory in the middle of a firefight and rescuing a POW. Do you have any idea what it would be to have an Al Qaeda officer interrogate you? You make me sick. Do the right thing and drop out, because I can assure you that things will get worse, and you'll experience hell unlike anything you've ever known. I'll start the paperwork to get you transferred. Go pack your bags.”
Pappalardo started to argue, but Peter ushered him out of his office. He shut the door and returned to his desk.
Thinking of Pappalardo made his stomach turn. Being treated like dirt was the norm in the Navy SEAL program. That had been going on since JFK had first commissioned the teams. It was necessary because battlefield conditions were worse than training conditions. In his day, nobody complained to the officers unless they lost a limb.
A knock on the door caused Peter to groan. If that was Pappalardo again, he was going to strangle the kid.
First Class Torpedoman Charles Amato stood at the door. His face was flushed and he was perspiring heavily. He shook as he spoke. “Sir, I have a situation that requires your immediate attention.”
Peter sighed. “What’s the problem?”
“Sir, I need you to come with me immediately.” Amato’s voice wavered.
Peter's face tightened. “Gain control of yourself. What's the problem?”
“Sir, I can't even begin to describe what I witnessed by the vehicle storage area. Please follow me.”
“This better be good,” Peter said.
“Sir, this is a matter of national security.”
Peter put on a light jacket and walked out of the building. His senses were immediately alerted to a change in the air as they walked through the base. It was nothing tangible. It felt like the onset of a major storm, except that the skies were cloudless and it was a perfectly sunny day. The base looked like any ordinary college campuses, save for the drab buildings and lack of color.
Amato breathed heavily as they walked. He had known Charles Amato for three years and had always found the kid to be mentally and emotionally stable. He had seen Amato perform quite admirably in training when they went to Nova Scotia in the depths of the Canadian winter.
An eerie buzzing noise grew louder. “What’s that?”
Amato had a tremor in his voice. “You’ll see.”
They turned around the bend and approached the motor pool. When he first saw them, Peter was too stunned to speak. It took him a minute to finally say, “What the hell is this?”
“Sir, I have no idea. My guess is that they are alien life forms.”
Alien life forms. The words hung in the air as if frozen by liquid nitrogen. Of course they’re alien life forms, dummy, Peter felt like saying. Do they look like they came from the San Diego Zoo? “This is insane,” Peter muttered. The air around him seemed to tighten.
“I agree, sir.” Amato approached the fence and looked closely at the alien on top of the vehicle. “They don’t seem to be trying to communicate with us?”
Peter stood next to Amato as the two aliens chirped. The large, squatty alien with the eight limbs had a shrill, high-pitched voice, while the alien with the tendrils that resembled a mustache spoke in a flat, monotone voice.
“Maybe they don’t know how to communicate with us,” Peter replied in a low voice. “Perhaps they’re as confused about the situation as we are.”
The large, light blue alien jumped up and down on its many legs. The earth shook underneath it. It tilted its spiky head and issued a loud cry as its tongue swirled in the air. It then looked at the alien in the vehicle, who appeared to be nodding.
After observing for some time, Peter asked, “Amato, have you tried to initiate contact with the alien subjects?”
Amato shook his head. “I didn’t know what to do, sir, so I observed their actions, much like we are doing now. Instead of trying to initiate communication, I went to find you. Should I have tried to talk to them?”
Peter shook his head. “What you did was fine.” Peter stepped forward. “I am Ensign Peter Estabrook of the United States Navy. You have landed in Coronado, California at a US naval facility. We would like to help you in any way possible, but we need to know your intentions.”
Still inside of his vehicle, the smaller alien approached the fence. He spoke something incomprehensible as his mustache flailed wildly.
“I guess we don’t speak the same language,” Peter said.
“So what do you think they want?”
Peter's face tightened. “How should I know? I'm as lost as you are.” He continued to watch in lurid fascination. “You know what I've been wondering since I got here?”
“What's that, sir?”
“Why are these two alien creatures staying within the fence? It should not be difficult to leave, especially for the one in the vehicle.”
Amato frowned. “I don’t know, sir. Perhaps they feel the barrier is more impenetrable than it actually is.”
“If I landed on a foreign planet and found myself in a cage or an enclosed area, I would try to find a way out. Thus far, these two haven’t shown any inclination to escape.
“Well, we can’t stand here all day waiting for something to happen. This is going to be big, Amato. Real big.”
Peter took out his cell phone and called Lieutenant Mitch Grace. He had more confidence in Mitch than any man alive, but what would Mitch do when he saw these aliens?
Mitch Grace worked the grill in his kitchen like a seasoned professional, whipping up hash browns, sausage and eggs on his cast-iron skillet. Normally he would not cook such an elaborate breakfast, but this morning he was not dining alone.
The scent wafted through the small apartment. Wearing her powder blue bathrobe, Deborah kissed him lightly on the back of his neck. Her long brown hair was still damp from taking a shower. “What did I do to deserve you, Mr. Grace?” She peeked over his shoulder. “You’re too good to me.”
“That’s Lieutenant Grace to you. I’d like to refute your statement, but as the forefather of our great nation once said, I cannot tell a lie.” He turned and gave her a kiss.
“I’m using a special recipe I learned when I was out in Guam, lots of exotic spices. In a few minutes this bountiful feast will be all yours. Well yours and mine.” Mitch lowered the flame on the burner and began setting the table. “In that case, you’ll get nothing. This was a test and you failed miserably.”
“What are you going to do, take a stripe away from me?”
“I just might,” Mitch replied. “I know people in the Navy.”
“Fortunately the rest of the Navy doesn’t take the SEALs seriously. We think you’re a bunch of yahoos.”
They sat down to eat on the cozy wooden kitchen table. Mitch savored every bite, much better than anything he had eaten in Afghanistan. It felt strange being home after completing his second tour of duty. He had arrived in San Diego last night. Deborah had picked him up at the airport. They spent so much time away from each other, it was hardly ideal for a successful relationship. Deborah, a naval intelligence officer, had recently spent time in the Persian Gulf. Besides being his significant other, her high level of clearance in the navy allowed her to be privy to his missions.
Their time apart had been torture. In the middle of the war zone, no matter how tough things got, thinking of Deborah always pulled him through.
Upon his return, all Mitch wanted was a good meal and a good bottle of wine. He and Deborah had gone out to eat at one of their favorite restaurants in Little Italy. It felt so good to be back home, certainly better than wearing heavy gear in sweltering heat.
As they were doing dishes, he said, “Maybe we should do it. You know, tie the knot, make it official. I wouldn’t make you change your name if you didn’t want to.”
Deborah put down the wet dishrag. “We’ve been down this road before. What kind of marriage can we have if each of us is going to be in Timbuktu for God knows how long? You know I love you. I absolutely do, but being in a relationship with you is trying. There are nights when I can’t sleep because I’m worried sick that some terrorist is going to ignite a bomb and kill you.”
Deborah had been married and divorced once. Her ex-husband was a car salesman who had not been able to handle her being away so often, finding solace with another woman. She had explained to Mitch that she had been young and naïve, thinking her ex-husband would love her enough to stick with her even when her schedule got difficult. To her credit, she made the divorce quick and painless, and moved on with her life.
“If that happened would you be any less heartbroken if we weren't married?”
“No.” Deborah closed her eyes. “But my idea of getting married would mean to raise a family and have a house with a white picket fence. When I made my career choice, I knew that would be difficult. I’ve already tried once unsuccessfully. If we’re going to be married, I don’t want to be away from you for so long.”
“Then I’ll quit.”
“I don’t want you to quit. You’re the best of the best. It would be selfish for me to let you quit just so that I could have you at home. What you do is more valuable than anything you could do in the private sector or in another branch of the military.”
“And all this time I thought you hated us SEALs. What did you say the first time we met? All we do is smash and bash everything in front of us?”
Deborah smiled. “But you do it so well.”
“Maybe I don’t have to quit. I just finished my second tour. They won't send me back again unless I petition for a third tour, not to mention the war efforts are winding down. I could become a full-time instructor. If now isn’t a good time to get married, then when is?”
Deborah shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Mitch sensed he had struck a nerve. “You have to concede that the timing is good.”
“You know the statistics. Most SEAL marriages don’t last more than a few years.”
“We’ll make it work. I love you.”
“Yeah, but who knows what the future will bring?” Deborah asked.
Mitch gestured wildly with his hands. “We’ll deal with the future later. Let’s deal with the here and now. So, are we going to do this?”
“Maybe? I just argued a great case, counselor, and all you could give me is a maybe.”
Deborah asked questions about the logistics of a wedding, and Mitch had an answer for each of her concerns.
“So is this a proposal?”
Mitch pulled out a one carat diamond ring from his pants pocket. Just then his phone rang. Only important calls came in on this cell phone.
Mitch felt torn between love and duty. He searched Deborah’s eyes.
“Answer it,” she said after the second ring.
He answered. For nearly a minute he did not say anything. “Okay…Can you tell me what it is? It’s happening right now…I’ll be there.” Mitch frowned and turned to Deborah. “This isn’t happening the way I planned it.”
She chuckled. “Does it ever? So what’s the emergency?”
Mitch shrugged. “I don’t know. It was Peter Estabrook. He said that it was an extreme emergency involving national security. Whatever's going on has to be huge. Estabrook sounded…scared.”
“Huh. That’s not reassuring.”
Deborah’s cell phone rang, and she answered. After thirty seconds she hung up. “Well, it looks like whatever this emergency is, I’m involved too.”
“Let’s go to the base. I’ll drive.” He put the diamond ring back in his pocket. It would have to wait.
After putting on their uniforms, Mitch and Deborah hardly spoke on the drive to the naval base. Estabrook had not given much detail on the phone, which meant the situation was grave.
He put on a news station. The governor of California was giving a speech on his plan to fix California’s economy.
As they pulled into the base, he asked Deborah, “Are you ready for this?”
“I certainly hope so.”
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
When I was in high school I dabbled in writing but I dropped it when I got to college. Majoring in Biomedical Engineering, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for ancillary activities. After graduation, my wife thought it would be a good idea if I started writing again, and I realized that it was something that I missed. That was when I got serious about learning the craft and trying to get published.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
It was probably the day that I got my first short story published. The story was called “Let Us Prey”. It was based on an urban legend, and it was published by Nevermore magazine. The story came out the same day my oldest son was born, which made it especially cool.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
My first novel published, Two For Eternity, wasn’t the first novel that I had written. It was actually my third novel. From the time I started writing again, until Two For Eternity was published was around ten years. It was a long, hard process, but one that has also been rewarding in many ways. The struggle made me appreciate it all that much more.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
For my day job, I’m a Quality Engineer at a medical device company. It’s probably not as exciting as it sounds, but my role is basically to make sure the product line that I am working with, which is a surgical lighting product, meets all the demands that the FDA requires.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Reconquest: Mother Earth is a mix of Independence Day, Red Dawn, and Gladiator. A Navy SEAL has to take the planet back from alien conquerors.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
My publisher is Montag Press. Based out of California, they are made up of a young, intelligent, eager team who trying to put their foothold in the publishing world.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I don’t write a single book continuously. I’m constantly bouncing from one book to the next to a short story and then back again. I would say in average it takes me three to four years.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I certainly don’t hold myself to a genre. My first novel, Two For Eternity, is an historical fantasy novel that takes place of 12,000 years. I followed that up with Blood Street, a paranormal thriller featuring vampires feuding with mobsters. My latest novel, Reconquest: Mother Earth, is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. I basically find concepts that really interest and excite me and I turn it into a story. I see myself doing more of that in the future, regardless of genre.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
In my novel Reconquest: Mother Earth my favourite character is Mitch Grace, the lead protagonist in the story. He’s a Navy SEAL who is knocked into a coma on the first day of the alien invasion and wakes up five years later to find that aliens have taken control of the planet, and is determined to take the planet back from the aliens. I’ve always had a deep admiration for members of our military, specifically the Navy SEALs. They are almost superhuman to me. What they are capable of doing is amazing. For me Mitch Grace is the embodiment of what is good about the United States. He is intelligent, fit, strong in both mind and body, and has an uncompromising will to survive and not accept defeat.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I work full time. I have two small children who demand my attention. My wife also works a job with long hours, so I basically write whenever I have time. Even if it is just a few minutes here and a few minutes there. I have learned to absolutely maximize my time and make the most out of it. That’s why I find the concept of writer’s block laughable. I don’t have time for writer’s block.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Absolutely. I have been fortunate enough to have predominately very positive reviews for each of my novels. I have yet to experience the pain of gut wrenching overly negative review.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Titles are so tricky. Occassionally, I come up with a title early on in the process, but more often than not it comes later. In the case of Reconquest: Mother Earth, Brett Talley, who is a fantastic, up and coming horror writer, suggested the title.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I have no set strategy. Sometimes the name comes to me and feels right for the character. Sometimes, I randomly come up with names by looking up character names and it feels right. Sometimes, I will go with a name because of the meaning behind it.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
The naming of characters and places always comes first. I just think it would get to awkward to continue to refer to a character or a place by something generic like character X until I come up with the name.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Much like the plots in my stories, I have a rough idea of what the character is going to be like, but I let them evolve as the story matures. The main character is generally fleshed out more than the side characters, but I try not to be too rigid in my approach and give room for the characters to breathe and let the story dictate who they are.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Not consciously. Occasionally a moral will develop, but it’s not something I set out to do. I am more about the story than the moral.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I still enjoy the print format, regardless of whether it is in hardback or paperback. I have a Nook and I enjoy reading on it, but it’s not quite the same as a book that you can hold in your hands and turn the pages of it.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
My favorite book is most definitely The Stand by Stephen King. The Stand is the best novel I've ever read. I tackled this post apocalyptic epic fantasy when I was thirteen. It had a profound effect on me then and made me want to write. There is so much going on in the novel, but if you want to boil it down to its fundamentals, it's ultimately about good vs. evil. The personification of evil, and the best written villain I've encountered this side of Hannibal Lecter is represented in Randall Flagg, who is kind of like the devil incarnate and the one who started this super flu.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Most certainly. In fact I think Hollywood screen writing has become so predictable and cliché. There are so many movies that I watch that make me groan. I can tell you everything that is going to happen before it happens. I think the best movies and television shows in recent years have started off as books. You look at The Silence of the Lambs, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, True Blood, The Walking Dead, and many others, and they are clearly of higher quality.
Your favorite food is?
As far as an ethic food good goes, I love Thai food. You also can’t go wrong with a nice steak that’s cooked well.
Your favorite singer/group is?
I have a number, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say old school Motley Crue and Metallica.
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Stephen King. Especially his early work, which is nothing short of brilliant.
Carl went to Boston University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Carl graduated with a BS degree, and has since worked in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. He later graduated from Lehigh University with an MBA degree. His debut novel Two For Eternity was released in 2011 by Weaving Dreams Publishing. His novel Blood Street was released in 2012 by True Grit Publishing. His novel Reconquest: Mother Earth is scheduled to be released in 2014 by Montag Press. His short fiction has appeared in various publications such as Blood Reign Lit, Alien Skin, and Dark Eclipse. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and has attended the Penn Writers Conference.
You can visit his website at www.carlalves.com