The Mentara: A Lesson in Arachnophobia

By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues

copyright Owen Quinn Artist Stephen Mooney

Buy your copy here on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Warriors-Belbridge-Mystery/dp/B08KHGDZLK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=owen+quinn&qid=1607287778&sr=8-2

From the get go when I first thought of worthy monsters and villains for the Time Warriors from the tender age of fifteen, I always knew the arachnoid Mentara were going to be the big bads.

When creating on a new villain part of what you think of is what scares people. What could potentially make people sit up and notice? What facets of your creation will burn themselves into an audience’s mind?

For me personally spiders do not annoy me in the slightest. I remember going into my back garden one morning to photograph some spider webs. To my amazement there were at least ten species of spiders living outside my back door. For some people that would freak them out to the point thy may never hang the washing out again. It only served to remind me that I had made the right decision in going with an arachnoid species.

But it had to be more than that to make them memorable. I have always loved giant spiders in television and movies so knew I had to honour that love of mine.

I decided the Mentara would hail from the planet Mentar. They would be the size of race horses and be centaur like in body shape. Rather than eight segmented legs their bulbous hairy bulks would be carried by six. Powerfully muscled they would have an additional set of arms to assit in the harvesting. They would retain their bulbous tarantula bodies but have a humanoid torso attached to the front. This would allow them to speak and interact with characters.

Imagine you’re standing on a empty motorway. The horizon is a curtain of shimmering hazy heat. From that curtain gallops a tarantula the size of a racehorse right towards you. It wields a mace or a weapon intent on braining you down. You are going to freak out right there. Your mind will try to reason it out as your body screams at you to run. The arachnoid appearance automatically brings a wave of terror to millions of people so imagine a group of Mentara in your street rounding helpless humans up for harvest.

Over the horizon come their scoop ships that reflect the Mentara appearance. Large circular craft in steel grey that have girders like spider legs folded beneath them. Shafts of purple light sweep down across the streets, scooping up humans like a hoover while the Mentara ground troops use their net guns to take down any stragglers. Their very appearance is enough to cause terror and confusion. Armies will be swept away beneath their might leaving them triumphant.

But that would be too easy.

What if I gave them limited time travel capability? Somehow they have stolen it from somewhere and don’t know quite how to use it.

Therefore their trips through time would be limited confined to certain points. Thanks to things like Star Wars, Star Trek and the likes it’s really hard to come up with an unique alien that can make an impact but when I had realised the Mentara in my head, I immediately thought they’d make a great action figure lol. Well, they do.

but trying to describe them to someone is hard. Racehorse sized centaur tarantulas with 4 arms seems pretty straight forward but only one man has come close to what I see in my head. So I commissioned him to do the cover for the Belbridge Mystery. Stephen Mooney is a local artist and gets the stories which is all I can ask. Below are his concept drawings for the Mentara; mace wielding Mentar and scythe Mentara. A couple of these concepts I integrated into the actual story.

Copyright Owen Quinn drawn and designed by Stephen Mooney

In the first Time Warriors book First Footstep (available to buy here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Warriors-First-Footsteps/dp/1461080894/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=owen+quinn+first+footsteps&qid=1607285503&sr=8-1)

copyright Owen Quinn

In the story Infinity Web, something is causing ripples through time almost breaking down the barriers between realities. it turns out a Mentara scoop ship is causing it with an unstable time drive. Caught in a hopeless battle both ships are drawn into a pocket prison dimension. Here the Warriors are split up into scenarios designed to break their minds allowing the resident alien parasites to possess their bodies and escape their prison. Jacke is trapped alone on an alien world with her childhood imaginary friend where she faces a lone Mentara. Tyran finds herself in a future where Mihl is leader of a band of rebels but has formed an alliance with the Mentara in exchange for his freedom. Tyran is the first to see the Tir in action; wood lice like creatures that burrow into their victims and attach themselves to the brain. Their bodies split the skull with their their armoured backs protruding. Their victims are willing slaves which serve the Mentara. In the latest story the Belbridge Mystery we learn the Tir are desert rodents that are poisonous to the Mentara and digest their victims once implanted into their bodies.

Only by breaking the illusion do they all escape but the fate of the Mentara ship is not explained.

It isn’t until Summer’s End in book three entitled Red Water do we meet the hungry arachnids again. (buy here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Warriors-Red-Water-Book/dp/1463594275/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=owen+quinn&qid=1607286666&sr=8-11)

copyright Owen Quinn

This time we discover the Mentara have been visiting one point in time for some years now. It is a Celtic village celebrating the annual Summer’s End festivals. It’s Halloween and what better to scare the children than demons in the shape of giant spiders? At some point the Mentara have managed to implant a monolith in the village which emits a mind control signal at Summer’s End, allowing them to subdue the villagers and make the harvest easier. The Time Warriors meet a group of druids who protect the village and when the sacred Shield of Scathach fails the Mentara launch their attack. Varrn manages to fly through the Mentara dimensional portal and destroy their centre of operations for the Summer’s End harvestings.

Capturing one surviving Mentara Varran keeps it prisoner on the Juggernaught starving it of all human flesh and blood. Carrying out tests he discovers the Mentara secret behind the harvests. In his fury he lets the Mentara die much to the disgust of Tyran.

In the Time Warriors book The Moon Once More and other stories history distorts in Twisted. Jacke and Michael end up in a future where the Xereban existence has been revealed. they have been taken into camps, the Juggernaught lies a stripped wreck in Hyde Park and Varran is apparently working with the enemy. General Castle leads the forces keeping the populace in hains and has made a deal with the Mentara. He will receive technology beyond his imagination if he hands over millions of Xereban people for the harvesting. Can Jacke and Michael restore the timeline with the help of a nest of rebels who blame them for everything?

The threads of Summer’s End play out in the latest book The Belbridge Mystery where we finally get to the Mentara homeworld where nothing is what Varran expected. They face off against the leader of the Mentara, General Cade. Cade and his father brought their species back from extinction through a literal gift from the gods. If a Mentara warrior is Spider-man then General cade is Venom. Bigger, broader and more powerful than any Mentara alive he is ruthless in protecting his father’s legacy and keeping his people alive. Who are the Butchers of Carden? Who are the Nasgul? No matter what, the Time Warriors will never be the same again after this one.

Buy the Time Warriors the Belbridge Mystry now on Amazon by clicking on https://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Warriors-Belbridge-Mystery/dp/B08KHGDZLK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=owen+quinn&qid=1607287778&sr=8-2

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