Predator: South China Sea is a 2008 novel written by Jeff VanderMeer and published by DH Press. On a remote island in the South China Sea, former Khmer Rouge Colonel Rath Preap now runs an illegal hunting preserve where the world's wealthy can hunt all manner of big game away from the prying eyes of the world. However, his latest group of guests find the hunters have become the hunted when a veteran Predator chooses to make the island its very own private hunting ground.
DOUBLE CROSS. TRIPLE CROSS. WHO WILL SURVIVE?
On a remote jungle island somewhere in the South China Sea, stocked with some of the most exotic animals in the world, a deadly hunt is underway... just not the kind the participants expected. The hunters come from all walks of life: a South African arms dealer, a Romanian ex-wrestler, two former KGB agents, a wildlife TV host, a Thai pirate, a down-and-out rock star, and a billionaire with a mysterious past. Each has come to the island for his own reasons, some secret, some deadly. But when the encampment's owner, ex-Khmer Rouge Colonel Rath Preap, finds the fences cut, animals slaughtered, and members of his private army missing, it's clear that it's not just another day at the hunting lodge. Another creature is out for blood — and a lot of it. An adversary that has faced death on a thousand worlds, a battle-tested Predator with an unstoppable lust for conquest. It's story will play out across a landscape of old temple ruins, hidden ambitions, startling secrets, and a fight for survival so intense the jungle will run red with blood...
A group of Thai pirates led by sisters Sukhon and Suchin Dithakar attack a freighter in the South China Sea, but during the raid the vessel is separated from the prates' own in a storm. By the time Sukhon and her remaining men catch up with the freighter they find both the freighter's crew and their own boarding party — Suchin among them — have been massacred, many of them horribly mutilated. The only apparent survivors are a young woman and her newborn child. While searching the vessel Sukhon encounters the culprit, a lone Predator, and narrowly escapes with her life by jumping overboard, snagging a piece of the creature's armor in the process. The Predator scuttles the freighter and flies off in a small craft, while Sukhon is rescued by her crew and swears vengeance.
Elsewhere in the South China Sea is the private island of former Khmer Rouge Colonel Rath Preap, which he has turned into an illegal hunting preserve catering to the wealthy of the world who wish to hunt all manner of big game away from the rules and regulations of the civilized world. His current guests include former US special forces operative John Gustat, Romanian gangster Horia Ursu, South African arms dealer Jimmy Tau, disgraced British rock star Maxim Barnes, American smuggler John Colquhoun, Belgian big game hunter Benjamin Peake, and mysterious Russian couple Nikolai Bazkuhov and Tessa Marikova. While out exploring what the island has to offer, Gustat, Horia, Tau and Colquhoun witness a rhino being slaughtered by some kind of directed energy weapon. They flee the scene, but their story is met with scepticism, especially when Gustat does not back his fellow witnesses.
Meanwhile, unknown to the guests, Rath has noticed that the fences and surveillance systems on the island have begun to fail, while the walkie-talkies used by his men for communication are no longer working. Eventually, all exterior communications are cut off. That night, Marikova witnesses the cloaked Predator sabotaging the island's boats, but says nothing to the other guests. The following morning, Rath discretely sends some of his men to investigate the swamp at the center of the system failures, but they are all killed by the Predator. Meanwhile, Gustat elects to go and investigate an abandoned Thai military outpost in the north of the island, a relic of the island's former owners that is usually off-limits to guests. Realizing Gustat knows more about recent events than he is letting on, the Russians join him. As they approach the base, they find a killing field littered with the decomposing bodies of hundreds of animals the Predator has killed, but are apprehended by Rath's men before they can investigate further. Elsewhere on the island, the Predator reveals itself to the rest of the hunters, brutally killing Peake but sparing the others.
Later that day, the Predator assault's Rath's weapons depot, killing the guards and setting the munitions ablaze. Rath, Gustat and the Russians rush to investigate, but are attacked by the Predator en route; no one is killed, but Nikolai is scratched across the face by the creature's claws. Continuing to the depot, they find the Predator has left them a selection of heavy weapons with which to fight back, along with an ancient flintlock musket that was not among Rath's supplies. Reconvening at the lodge, Horia confronts Gustat on his apparent foreknowledge of what is going on, leading Gustat to reveal that his wife and son were previously killed by a Predator. Ever since, he has been seeking revenge against the creatures, working with a mysterious individual known only as Onyx to track down and hopefully kill one of them.
A plan is hatched to evacuate several of the hunters on a scheduled resupply plane, but the Predator brings the light aircraft down as it lands. With the occupants now totally stranded on the island, the situation continues to deteriorate. The Predator taunts Rath by using the Colonel's own security cameras to prove it can go anywhere it wants on the island, even inside his secret surveillance center, with complete immunity. Gustat disappears. Nikolai begins showing signs of an alien infection, contracted through the scratch marks on his face. Rath evacuates his forces to a fortified temple ruin elsewhere on the island, hoping to make a stand there against the Predator. Meanwhile, Horia, Tau and Colquhoun go to search the swamp, where they believe the Predator has hidden its ship, hoping to raid the vessel and steal valuable technology they can use against the creature and sell at huge profit if they survive. They find the ship in the middle of the swamp as expected, but are caught by the Predator, which mortally wounds Colquhoun and chases Horia and Tau into the jungle. While it is gone, Gustat emerges from hiding nearby and plants a bomb on board. However, the creature discovers the device upon its return and tosses it out, before activating a perimeter defence system on its ship that levels the jungle for half a mile in every direction. Tau is killed by the blast but Gustat and Horia narrowly survive.
Nikolai, by now totally assimilated by the alien virus and no longer human, goes in search of the Predator, finding it preparing for its assault on Rath's temple. Able to see the creature even while cloaked as a result of his infection, he engages it in a knife-fight. He fights well, but loses and is beheaded. Rath observes the duel and is alerted to the Predator's presence, ordering his artillery to open fire on the area. Despite the ferocious barrage, the Predator escapes once more and launches its final assault on the temple, first eliminating the sniper potions in the raised towers before blasting a hole in the outer wall as a distraction while it infiltrates the fortress from the rear. The slaughter rages all night, but eventually Rath's force of over a hundred men is wiped out. The Predator corners Rath himself in the temple's central tower, and Rath shoots himself rather than become its victim.
As the Predator departs, it is shot by Sukhon, who has tracked the creature to the island in her quest for vengeance. The bullet, made from the shard of armor she acquired on the freighter, easily pierces the Predator's body armor, and Marikova, lying in wait nearby with her sniper rifle, then shoots the creature through the hole, grievously wounding it. The Predator flees for its ship, but is attacked again on the way by Gustat and Horia, who fight it hand-to-hand. Horia is knocked out while Gustat is paralyzed and taken back to the vessel, where the Predator intends to tear out his skull and spine while he is still alive. Before doing so, the Predator takes off and escapes the island, docking with the cloaked mother ship that is hovering overhead to observe the hunt. Too late, the Predator realizes Gustat has put his bomb back aboard its ship, and before it can stop him he activates it, obliterating the mother ship and all the Predators aboard.
In the aftermath, Horia is found by Sukhon and her pirates, who capture him and inform him he will be ransomed back to his compatriots in the Romanian underworld, but nonetheless wish him no ill will. Due to the virus that has ravaged his body, Nikolai regenerates from his fatal beheading and is found by Marikova, who tearfully acknowledges that the man she once loved is gone. She considers trying to kill him, but seeing that he is at peace, leaves him to wander the island. As she awaits extraction, Marikova also encounters Maxim, driven insane by his experiences and still desperately trying to drag a machine gun to Rath's temple so that he might help. Seeing potential in this broken man, she recruits him to her cause.
- Predator: South China Sea is one of several Aliens/Predator/Alien vs. Predator novels that were never officially published in the United Kingdom.
- Although never identified in the story, author Jeff VanderMeer has confirmed (or at least strongly implied) that Onyx is Dutch from Predator.
- South China Sea was the last Predator novel to be published by DH Press; when the book series resumed in 2015, titles were published by Titan Books.
- When surveying the weapons the Predator has left for the survivors after torching the depot, Gustat considers how they all accept standard NATO ammunition. However, among the weapons are MG131 machine guns, which are chambered for 13×64mmB ammunition, which is not a NATO standard cartridge.