Book Excerpt from Time Commander

March 3, 2014 at 9:22 am Leave a comment


I’ve hosted excerpts before from “First Admiral” and “The Burning Sun”. Now I’m sharing an excerpt from the third book in the series, “Time Commander”. Enjoy.

Book Excerpt

The Universal Alliance Delegation, Ganthus City.

First Admiral William Caudwell hated formal events.   This time, however, there was no way out.  The Ganthorans had invited them to a traditional “Welcoming” for the Time Warrior Candidate, and it would be a dress uniform event.  When informed of the formal function, Billy’s heart had sunk. Old habits, however, died hard in the mind of Billy Caudwell.  And, despite the years of political chicanery and double dealing in the part of his mind that was Teg Skarral Portan, Billy Caudwell still couldn’t escape the mindset of the persecuted youngster he had been at school.

Well, he considered, if he was going to have to go then he might as well make the best of it as he could.  Setting things into a military context, Billy considered that he should treat this as a reconnaissance mission.  Ambassador Sarkor Nicx was keen to glean every scrap of information or knowledge she could from her new hosts. Although still formally at war with the Ganthorans, the armistice created by accepting the Time Warrior challenge allowed Ambassador Nicx to begin to work her particular brand of diplomacy.

The exception to the rule of Dress Uniform was Ambassador Nicx.  This being a formal diplomatic event she had no alternative other than to wear the long, light blue robe with the golden waist sash of the Alliance Diplomatic Corps.  The sleeves of the robe were long and loose, allowing a freedom of movement, and some degree of personal comfort for the wearer.  And, being a formal event, Sarkor Nicx had no alternative other than to wear the three headbands of her species.  The bands that her mother had given her were of a valuable silver metal that were handed down the female line of her family.  Setting the bands into her long black curly hair Sarkor Nicx had been pleased with the contrast effect of silver on black. However, with the dress arrangement sorted out, Ambassador Nicx and First Admiral Caudwell stepped forth into the fray of the Welcoming Ball. Nicx punched in the six-digit code in the hand-held device that would take them to the Reception Hall of the Imperial Palace.

The circular Reception Hall of the Imperial Palace was every bit as grand as the name suggested.  The pale cream coloured floor beneath Billy’s feet was hard and shiny echoing to the swish of soft-soled shoes and the harsher click of the military boots that stepped across it.  The walls were of a similar pale cream colouring with large light panels thirty feet high and ten feet wide that were interspersed by images of long-dead Ganthoran Emperors and Empresses who smiled and scowled down upon the mingling crowd of guests from the image frames the same size as the light fixtures.  The ceiling of the Reception Hall was a darker brown colour, from which hung large light cubes to supplement the light sources from the walls.  Whilst spaced neatly throughout the Reception Hall stood the ridiculously slim support pillars that held the ceiling up.

Where on Earth, the support pillars would have been tall, broad and straight, these dark brown, almost black, pillars spiralled and corkscrewed upwards in a strange confection of shapes and angles that seemed to defy all the known laws of physics that Billy was aware of.

The Reception Hall was already filling with people who arrived from the dozen Tele-Portal doors scattered around the perimeter of the Hall.

“Ah, First Admiral Caudwell, Ambassador Nicx, welcome!” the voice of Second Adjudicator Tiba welcomed them through the increasingly oppressive silence of the Reception Hall.

The smaller and more rotund part-Thelian Second Adjudicator welcomed them from the Tele-Portal doorway.  Wearing a black tunic and breeches, Tiba had set off his evening wear with a narrow gold sash from his left shoulder in an outfit that did not draw too much attention to his spreading waistline.

“Adjudicator Tiba,” Sarkor Nicx began, “thank you for this great honour,”

“Not at all, Ambassador,” Tiba smiled the honest smile of the Thelians, “To be quite honest with you, everyone in Ganthoran society is absolutely bursting with curiosity to see the new Time Warrior Candidate. It is said that some people would kill their own parents to get an invitation to the Welcoming Ball,”

“Then, I do trust that we do not prove to be a disappointment,” Sarkor Nicx smiled.

“Oh no, Ambassador, we haven’t had a Welcoming Ball in almost three years, since the last Candidate, and we Ganthorans do like to put on a  good display,” the Adjudicator smiled and clapped his hands loudly twice.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Tiba called to the people on the two staircases, “our honoured guests have arrived, so could you please step towards the wall,”

With a buzz of excitement, the people on the stairways complied and began to line the walls of the Reception Hall.  Once again, the loud rush of conversation broke out as Adjudicator Tiba nodded to some unseen watcher.

With that simple nod from Tiba, the entire area of wall between the two staircases slowly began to open outwards towards Billy and his party.

“Please?” Tiba indicated, with a small bow that they step forwards towards the ever widening opening in the wall.

And, as the party of four began to move towards the opening wall, a strange swishing sound began.  Looking towards the Ganthorans watching their progress, Billy could see that the people were rubbing their hands together; with their hands set straight, at ninety degrees to each other, the ladies were rubbing their fingers in a small circular clockwise pattern.  For the gentlemen, they rubbed the palms of their hands together in a similar clockwise manner.  This was apparently the Ganthoran equivalent of applause, and once again, First Admiral Caudwell was quite un-nerved by it all.

Smiling, as best they could the party stepped forward into the unknown with the sound of rubbing hands in their ears.  And, as they stepped towards the wall opening, the swishing sound grew even louder.   The gap in the wall began to widen showing the interior of what Billy Caudwell supposed was the Ballroom.  It seemed to be a dark and gloomy room compared to the bright lights of the Reception Hall, reminding Billy of the school dances that he had attended back on Earth.  Yes, those dances here he had been too shy to ask anyone to dance, he remembered.  Feeling more than a little anxious, Billy Caudwell followed a few feet behind Sarkor Nicx as she stepped onto the small ramp that led into the Ballroom, as around him the swishing sounds of Ganthoran applause assaulted his ears.

The Ballroom itself was long and narrow and seemed to stretch out into eternity.  The small shallow ramp from the Reception Hall led onto a small platform surrounded by a low rail.

The rail divided in the centre of the platform allowing the guests onto the dance floor courtesy of two steps, which were flanked by two muscularly built Imperial Guards in dress uniform.  There were no chairs or decorations on the platform.

It had been designed simply as a viewing area. Looking up from the platform, Billy Caudwell could see, in the gloom of the ballroom, that there were three further levels built above the dance floor.  Like a theatre or an old dance hall back on Earth, the balconies were railed for the safety and protection of the revellers.  From what Billy could discern, they were not divided into sections like theatre boxes, but were flat open platforms in their own right.

The ceiling which towered above the Ballroom floor was invisible to Billy Caudwell, the gloomy lighting being too feeble to reach to that height.   It took Billy’s eyes a few second to acclimatise from the bright light of the Reception Hall to the gloom of the Ballroom.  And, no sooner had he started to focus on the expanse of people on the dance floor and the balconies, than his already jangled nerves were startled once more by the Ganthoran Welcoming Fanfare.

For important visiting dignitaries, the traditional Ganthoran Welcoming Fanfare consisted of a one octave scale played quickly three times, very loudly, with the final note being held for five seconds.  A startled Billy stopped in his tracks for a few seconds as his brain registered this further assault on his hearing.  With no musicians in sight, the Ganthoran Salutation to the Conquering Hero was either pre-recorded or the players were somewhere out in the murky gloom of the cavernous Ballroom.  Having halted, for a moment, Billy felt the firm pressure of Sarkor Nicx’s hand in the small of his back propel him gently forwards onto the platform.

With the swishing sound of the Ganthoran applause echoing and re-echoing from the walls and balconies of the Ballroom, Billy stood in front of Ambassador Nicx and Adjudicator Tiba

“Smile and wave,” Ambassador Nicx said quietly her own mouth set in a fixed grin.

Reluctantly, Billy complied with a shy, sincere smile and a feeble wave and nod of acknowledgement.

 “First Admiral Caudwell, Ambassador Nicx,” the familiar voice of Grand Adjudicator Bellor welcomed them.

“Grand Adjudicator,” Sarkor Nicx responded with a small courteous bow.

“Welcome,” Bellor beamed a dazzlingly insincere smile, and climbed up onto the platform between the two Imperial Guards.

Raising his hands and arms into the air, Bellor called for silence from the applauding and expectant crowd.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this evening we welcome First Admiral William Caudwell of the Universal Alliance to Ganthus City,” Bellor launched into what Billy Caudwell hoped would not be a long and tiresome welcoming address.

“Very few men have the skill and strength to qualify as Candidates for the Time Warrior ritual, and even fewer have the vision and courage to accept the challenge,” Bellor paused for effect.

Standing nervously beside Grand Adjudicator Bellor, Billy considered that this was yet another of the consummate politicians that arose maybe once in a generation.

“First Admiral William Caudwell is one of those rare men with the vision, skill, strength and courage, we welcome you First Admiral and wish you good fortune in the ritual,” Bellor completed the mercifully brief welcome.

The swishing and rustling sound of applause broke out almost immediately the echo from Bellor’s voice had faded.

“Grand Adjudicator, do I respond to your welcome?” Billy asked nervously.

“If you wish First Admiral,” Bellor responded, pleasantly surprised at the young human’s modesty.

Previous Candidates for the ritual had previously launched into long and, at times, quite tedious replies, full of self-praise and flowering flattery.

“Grand Adjudicator,” Billy began, as a signal for the applause to die down.

And, within seconds the entire Ballroom was held in a spellbound hush.

“Grand Adjudicator, thank you for your words of welcome and of praise,” Billy bowed slightly to Bellor, “Good people of Ganthus and the Ganthoran Empire, there is too much dancing and enjoyment to be done this evening so I’ll keep it brief,” Billy smiled and was rewarded by some polite laughter from the crowd, “thank you for your welcome, your hospitality and for this fine evening’s entertainment, enjoy your evening,” Billy finished with another small bow.

And, having spoken his last words, the fanfare sounded once again making Billy jump slightly.  The swishing and rustling of some warm and genuine applause indicated that what Billy had said had gone down well.

“That was just about perfect for this evening, First Admiral,” Bellor smiled.

Billy raised his hand nervously to acknowledge the applause, and nodded another brief bow to the crowd.   When the swishing sound of the hand rubbing applause had died down, and the last echo of the startling fanfare had dissipated, the Ganthorans resumed dancing.   The music seemed oddly familiar to Billy Caudwell, although it had no recognisable tune or melody, it did have a rhythmic beat for dancers to follow. The notes and phrases seemed to flow and merge into the rhythm in what sounded like a series of random expressions.

No sooner had then strange music begun than a crowd of around a dozen young Ganthoran women dashed forwards, to the base of the platform, giggling and squealing with delight and excitement, holding out their left hands.  Slightly confused, and not being used to so much female attention, Billy looked slightly nervously at the squealing and giggling crowd.

“They’re asking you to dance First Admiral,” Bellor said quietly in Billy’s ear.

“But, I don’t know how to do Ganthoran dances,” Billy replied anxiously.

“Well, I suspect they won’t be slow in teaching you,” Bellor smiled.

“They’re not exactly shy and retiring wallflowers are they?” Billy smiled nervously to Sarkor Nicx.

“Go on, First Admiral,” Ambassador Nicx said softly with a broad beaming smile of amusement, “enjoy yourself, us lesser mortals have work to do this evening,”

“Do I have to dance with all of them?” Billy asked Bellor nervously.

“Well, I don’t know about your Alliance customs, but traditionally we prefer to dance with one at a time,” Bellor replied with a cheeky smile, “just place the palm of your left hand on the palm of the one you wish to choose,”

Closing his eyes, Billy stretched out his left hand, palm downwards, over the cluster of outstretched hands below him.  Circling his hand over the expectant hands below he leaned forwards and found his hand had made contact.  The instant his hand made contact, he felt his hand and fingers caught in a vice-like grip, followed by a loud piercing shriek of triumph and delight.  Opening his eyes, he barely had time to register the features of the young Ganthoran lady random chance had selected to be his first partner for the night, when he felt himself being bodily pulled from the platform by her powerful left hand onto the dance floor.

Overbalancing slightly, Billy had to jump in a rather ungainly manner from the platform to the floor, straight into the scrimmage of young Ganthoran women, who began to jostle and push him to the dance floor.    Smiling anxiously, Billy Caudwell was dragged off like a dead antelope carcase by a pack of hungry hyenas prior to consumption.

The Guest of Honour may have chosen one of their number to begin with, but the other young ladies would wait their turn to dance with the young human who might be their next Emperor.

“I almost feel sorry for him, you know” Sarkor Nicx said to Bellor as Billy Caudwell disappeared amongst the pack of young Ganthoran women.

 “We’ll, keep an eye on him,” Bellor said softly, “we’re looking for cordial relations here, not a Diplomatic Incident,”

Laughing softly, Sarkor Nicx shook her head as Billy Caudwell disappeared into a giggling scrimmage.

Ganthoran dancing, as Billy Caudwell discovered, was not too different from dancing on Earth, something like two or three hundred years before.  The objective seemed to be to keep your left palm in contact with that of your partner whilst you performed various movements.  Turning one way and then the other seemed a popular movement, with some leaning forwards and backwards, turning hands at the wrist without losing contact, nodding and bowing and various skips and steps made up the repertoire.  For the first few dances Billy did his best to concentrate on what his partner was instructing him between the barrage of constant and inane conversation.

And, after the ordeal of each dance was over, he was rapidly surrounded by the gaggle of young ladies asking for the next dance.  It was like one of those cartoon shows back on Earth, they seemed to be circling around him on the dance floor like vultures around the man crawling through the desert.  When the music stopped, the vultures would spring forwards at him with their left hands held out.  Having been accustomed to no female attention back on Earth, he found himself being mobbed.  At first he was flattered and enjoyed the attention, but as the young ladies became more predatory and insistent, it started to annoy and frighten him.

During one dance, Billy noticed the tall handsome Ganthoran figure of Third Adjudicator Arrad prowling around the edges of the dance floor.  Wearing an outfit entirely of white with the exception of the gold sash at his waist, he was a handsome individual.   Calmly, he walked over to one of the young ladies at the edge of the floor, bowed politely and held out his left hand, palm downwards.  The young lady looked at him with a mixture of shock and anxiety, before touching the back of his hand with hers.  With his best insincere and sheepish smile, Arrad bowed once again and backed away from the scene of his humiliation

“What was all that about, with Adjudicator Arrad?” Billy asked his dance partner, a tall young woman called Lethra.

“She turned him down,” Lethra replied, “a bit too full of herself that one,”

“Why?” Billy asked attempting the cross-over movement that would mean the dancers exchanged places without letting go of their left hands.

“That’s Nietta; she’s Frontier General Kallet’s niece,” Lethra explained, “thinks she’s a bit too good for Third Adjudicator Arrad, got her eyes set on a young Captain in the Imperial Guard.  She doesn’t know he’s slept with half the wives of his Regiment,”

“General Kallet?  He’s one of the Frontier Generals?” Billy spluttered, “Is he here tonight?”

“I suspect so,” Lethra replied, “they’ll all be here to have a look at you,” she smiled coyly, shaking her shoulders, and her barely covered breasts, trying to draw his attention back to her,

“Adjudicator Arrad thinks she’s wonderful, but he’s Arrad.  He’s boring, always tied up with his duties. He’s not exciting and brave like you are,”

“Really?” Billy smiled, deftly avoiding the blatant attempt at flirtation.

Yes, they weren’t backwards at coming forwards on Ganthus, Billy considered and filed away that particular piece of information for Ambassador Nicx and Officer Sownus.  Third Adjudicator Arrad had eyes for General Kallet’s niece, whilst she was in love with some exciting, two-timing Imperial Guard Captain.  Well, didn’t that sound just like back on Earth, Billy considered, the hound gets the gravy once again.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Grand Adjudicator Bellor clapped his hands to draw the attention of everyone in the huge Ballroom as the dance finished, “in honour of our new Time Warrior Candidate we have prepared something very special for you,” the normally reticent Bellor smiled.

He may have taken his duties as Grand Adjudicator just a little too seriously for his wife’s particular liking, however, deep down Bellor did enjoy entertaining, and as a Showman his natural humour and exuberance shone through.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I give for your entertainment two finely matched Kla’tharans!” Bellor announced, and suddenly the Ballroom was bathed in a brilliant white light.

Instantaneously a gasp of delight was followed by a loud rustling and swishing burst of applause. Extracting himself from his latest dance partner, Billy made his way towards Grand Adjudicator Bellor at the platform by the Ballroom entrance, where Nicx, Lokkrien and Sownus had gathered once again.   And, as Billy headed towards the platform, two powerfully built young Ganthoran men bounded and sprang from opposite edges of the dance floor like acrobats.  The two young Ganthoran males sprang and somersaulted their way to the centre of the dance floor in front of the platform, whilst rest of the Ganthoran audience formed a rough semi-circle on the dance floor behind the Kla’tharans.  On the balconies overlooking the makeshift stage, the Ganthorans stretched and peered to get a better view of the action down below.

Stripped to the waist; wearing tight black breeches and ankle boots each Kla’tharan wore a different coloured sash his waist; one bright white, the other a dark silver-grey.

They wore silver sashes that would open out to the traditional nobleman’s weapon of the razor-sharp circular sword called the Kla’letha.

“What on Earth is going on?” Billy asked Bellor.

“This is a very ancient Ganthoran custom,” Bellor began, “Centuries ago, when two warriors got into a dispute, the local chieftain would mediate their problem.  However, if the warriors decided not to agree on the chieftain’s judgement, they had to undertake the Kla’thar ritual,”

As Bellor spoke, the rustling sound of applause broke out drawing everyone’s attention to the two acrobats.  The two acrobats had taken the sashes from their shoulders and had opened them out into the Kla’letha circular swords.  They were now parading around the semi-circle of audience and to the balconies cutting through strips of material to indicate how sharp the weapons were.

“The Kla’thar ritual was a form of trial by combat, the one who succeeded in defeating the other was considered to have the valid case,” Bellor continued.

“A trial by combat?” Billy asked, his mind starting to recoil in horror.

Back on Earth, there was a tradition of trials by combat.  The old adage of might makes right was never more visible than in days of old when the better warrior was said to display the favour of whichever deity was worshipped by that culture.

“Yes,” Bellor said, “the first one to draw blood from his opponent wins,”

“What!?” Billy snapped in horror and alarm, “you have to stop this! Someone could get very badly injured or killed…..”

“Be calm, First Admiral,” Bellor said, “it isn’t a real fight, they’re just pretending,”

The two competitors began the ritual by holding their circular Kla’letha in front of them and bowing to all four corners of the room.  Then, they bowed to each other, and began the ritual.

Like caged wild animals the two fighters began circling each other.  Billy, still unconvinced by Bellor’s reassurance watched anxiously as the two fighters jabbed their circular weapons at each other feigning attacks and cuts to each other.  Back on Earth, a crowd at a trial by combat would have been calling and shouting their support to their particular chosen champion.  Here in the Ballroom of the Imperial Palace in Ganthus City, there was an expectant silence.  To Billy Caudwell it was a horribly oppressive silence.  The trial by combat to his mind was something primitive and barbaric, and his mind recoiled in horror at the prospect.  Two people fighting, with razor sharp weapons, for the entertainment of a large crowd of aristocrats reminded Billy too much of the barbarism of the ancient Roman Arena, and Gladiators fighting for their lives, as sport.

And, as Billy watched anxiously, he noticed that the fighter in the white sash nodded quickly; almost imperceptibly to his opponent.  The opponent responded with two blinks of his eyes, and then, after a pause let out a loud battle-shout, and lunged at the warrior in the white sash.  The white sash warrior neatly side-stepped the onrushing opponent and pushed him away with a shoulder charge.  Lethra had, thankfully, been right, the whole thing was being staged.  With a massive sigh of relief, Billy settled back to watch what was going to be a neatly choreographed piece of theatre.

And, it did turn out to be a massively entertaining piece of theatre.  The two fighters began to circle one another once again.

Suddenly, the white sash lashed out with a massive backhand sweep, which his opponent countered with a two arm block.  Sparks flashed vividly as the two razor sharp metal edges clashed with a loud CLANG.  The audience gasped at the ferocity of the attack, unaware that it was all very carefully staged.  Time and again the two fighters clashed swords, showering the air with sparks and the clangour of metal on metal.  They swerved, ducked and skipped around the make-shift arena on the Ballroom floor like ballet dancers; lunging, thrusting, parrying and slicing at one another.  At times, the viciously sharpened blades would pass within fractions of a centimetre of the opponent’s skin drawing gasps of alarm and excitement from the audience as the two evenly matched combatants carried on with their display.

At one point, the two protagonists had clashed swords; which had become locked together, and were trying to push each other away.  The two fighters struggled, strained and pushed against each other trying to find the advantage that would push the other off balance.  The grey-sashed warrior took a half step backwards and found himself slipping on some drops of sweat that had fallen onto the polished dance floor from one of the guests.   Having lost purchase with his soft sole boots, the grey sash found himself losing balance.  Reacting as most trained soldiers do in such a situation, he tried to roll to his side in an endeavour to evade the opponent’s blade.   The white sashed fighter; seeing and feeling his opponent move away went into the next movement of the routine, which was an upward cut to the body with the left hand.

Unfortunately, the plan had been for the grey sash to be stepping backwards to the right, away from the blow. Having been unbalanced the grey sash was rolling forwards to the left; directly into the path of the swinging Kla’letha.  More by instinct than any judgement, grey sash threw himself into the roll and twisted his body to avoid the incoming blade.  White sash realising that something was going wrong and pulled his shoulder back to re-direct the swinging blade in a wide arc to the left.

And, not a moment too soon had the two combatants reacted.  The Kla’letha blade swept forwards catching grey sash on the abdomen as he tucked into the roll.  When he emerged from the roll, his sash had been cut almost clean through by the viciously sharp blade.  The audience gasped in alarm and excitement as the two stunned and shocked fighters stood staring at the remains of the sliver-grey sash that lay on the floor between them.  Their bodies glistening with sweat and their chests heaving with the exertion they faced each, wide eyed, other knowing that millimetres had separated them from a tragic accident.

Second Adjudicator Tiba was first to react in the stunned silence.  The fight had to be stopped; neither fighter was in any fit state, psychologically, to continue.  Their nerves would be shattered almost as badly as their confidence.   If they continued, there would be another mistake which would likely see one of them killed.

“The sash is torn, honour is satisfied!” Tiba called out and began to rub his hands vigorously in applause.

Tentatively at first, other Ganthorans took up the applause, which in a few seconds rose to a crescendo of rustling and swishing as the crowd reacted to what had been an excellent contest.

To the sound of applause, the two fighters bowed to the four corners of the room and then each other, Kla’lethas held out straight in front of them.  They both bowed deeply to Adjudicator Tiba, before retrieving the torn sash and walking slightly unsteadily out of the Ballroom.  The applause rang in their ears, however, both of them were just grateful that it had not ended in a fatality.

As the lights dimmed and the dancing resumed, Billy watched the two fighters leave the Ballroom and wondered if the Time Warrior ritual that he had signed up to was just another Ganthoran diversion.

Time Commander

Book III Time CommanderThe third installment in the exciting First Admiral Series, Time Commander follows the continuing adventures of Billy Caudwell; the teenage First Admiral of the Universal Alliance Fleet as he strives to prevent a long, protracted and bloody war with the Ganthorans.
Having defeated a Ganthoran Frontier Fleet General in battle, Billy Caudwell must undertake the dangerous ‘Time Warrior Ritual’. In the ritual, Billy has to re-fight (and win) a major battle, that in the history of his species was lost – and in which the losing Commander was killed. To prevent years, possibly decades, of costly warfare, Billy must complete the ritual and claim the Crystal Throne of Ganthus. If Billy completes the challenge, he will become the Emperor of the Ganthorans. If he fails, he will die on a historical battlefield from Earth’s past.
Sinister powerful and xenophobic forces among the Ganthoran aristocracy and military are ranged against Billy, determined to prevent an alien claiming the Crystal Throne.
Can Billy survive the challenge and avert a brutal and costly war?

Author Bio

 The author, William J.Benning was born in Dumfries (south west Scotland) in 1963. With his 50th birthday fast approaching, Benning has decided to grow old disgracefully. An intensely private individual, Benning recently returned to his home town seeking inspiration for his passion of creative writing. At age 18, Benning left home to take an Honours Degree in Psychology at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. He has some very fond memories, and many nights of vague recollection – which are, on the whole, probably best forgotten (!) – from his student days. After graduating, Benning had a career “false start” moving into the world of Pest Control Management. However, after several unhappy years, he switched tack and took further qualifications in Personnel Management, carving out a successful and enjoyable career in Human Resources as well as Learning & Development. Throughout his career, Benning has worked to support the activities of the British Red Cross.

From his early days as a First Aid Volunteer, he enjoyed working for the organisation which gave him further skills and built his self-confidence. Progressing within British Red Cross, Benning became a First Aid Instructor (Trainer), Assessor and Lecturer plus becoming invoved in training other Trainers and Assessors. Having returned to Dumfries to further his writing career, Benning now lives alone, but has been adopted by four members of the Canine Community. With four dogs in his life – and a newly arrived litter of Tibetan Terrier pups – plus a newly published novel, life is never going to be dull for Benning. William likes his sci-fi, but is also keen on military history and speculative fiction. Among his fiction favourites are Harry Turtledove, the late George MacDonald Fraser, Bernard Cornwell and Clive Cussler. William collects Edinburgh Crystal and has a terrible weakness for malt whisky. He has published his novel First Admiral with Malachite Quills in 2012.


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