Today we are excited to be the final stop on the Bane blog tour. Don’t miss the giveaway boded below and the final installment of a free short story, set in the world of Strain, Juggernaut, and Bane. Please welcome author Amelia C Gromley.
Hi, and welcome to the Bane blog tour!
I don’t think it’s any secret that a lot of readers, in the wake of reading Strain, wanted more of Darius and Rhys. Already by that point I was brainstorming the pre- and peri-apocalyptic story that would become Juggernaut, but the further along I got on that, the more I realized the situation Zach and Nico were in couldn’t be resolved in the timeframe of Juggernaut. They needed developments that would only make sense to happen after the events of Strain. The plot also required Rhys to have matured a great deal since the end of Strain. Altogether, it gave me a beautiful opportunity to bring closure and an HEA ending (or at least as close to one as you get at the end of the world) for both sets of protagonists.
Thus we have Bane.
Over the course of the Bane blog tour, I’ve been sharing a free post-Bane short story, Refuge. How far post-Bane? Well, you’ll have to read and see. Some developments that happen in Bane are referenced, but not in any great detail, which means the reader should only encounter a few very broad, non-specific spoilers. Obviously, though, it will be best enjoyed if you’ve read Bane already (and Bane, of course, is best enjoyed after Juggernaut and Strain.)
Refuge introduces us to three new characters, Kal, Billie, and perhaps my favorite, Zeus. It’s a completely sex-free story, so you’re safe reading it at work. If my nebulous thoughts on how to continue the Strain universe ever take shape, it’s very possible a lot of material in this short story will be folded into a larger plot with Kal and Billie as the protagonists, and if that happens, you’ll find the smut there.
Each day, at least one stop on the blog tour will contain a section of the story. These segments may end or begin a little abruptly or clumsily at times, as I tried to split them in such a way that no one section would be to long and cumbersome for a single stop on the blog tour. In its linear form, it would simply be a five chapter story. By the end of the tour, all the sections will have been posted. If you need to catch up, you can check out the blog tour page (linked above), or my website, or the “Extras” tab on the Bane product page at Riptide for sequential links to all the posts.
Anyone who follows along on the tour will qualify to win store credit at Riptide. To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you (email, Twitter, or Facebook.) Each stop along the blog tour that you visit offers you another chance to enter. Be sure to check the Riptide blog tour schedule for a complete list of other stops. The contest will close 9/26/15. Any entries made without a way to contact the winner will be invalidated, so please don’t forget to provide your email, or your Twitter or Facebook address.
Good luck, and enjoy Refuge!
*Author’s Note: Refuge is completely unedited and un-proofed. What you’re seeing here is essentially a first draft, and like any first draft, it often may be clumsy to read or contain extraneous world-building and info-dumping that would be trimmed and streamlined during the editing process. Actually, I kind of like sharing it with you this way, if for no other reason than to allow readers to see just how much world-building happens behind the scenes and in my head, but doesn’t ever actually make it onto the page.
And of course, there will be typos. Oh so many typos.
The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.
Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.
Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.
For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?
About the Author
Amelia C. Gormley published her first short story in the school newspaper in the 4thgrade, and since then has suffered the persistent delusion that enabling other people to hear the voices in her head might be a worthwhile endeavor. She’s even convinced her hapless spouse that it could be a lucrative one as well, especially when coupled with her real-life interest in angst, kink, social justice issues, and pretty men.
When her husband and son aren’t interacting with the back of her head as she stares at the computer, they rely on her to feed them, maintain their domicile, and keep some semblance of order in their lives (all very, very bad ideas—they really should know better by now.) She can also be found playing video games and ranting on Tumblr, seeing as how she’s one of those horrid social justice warriors out to destroy free speech, gaming, geek culture, and everything else that’s fun everywhere.
You can find her self-published Impulse trilogy almost anywhere ebooks are sold, and check out her catalog of Riptide Publishing releases at their website.
Today’s Final Piece of Refugee
Kal kept up a running commentary while Billie cleaned her teeth, wincing at the sharpness of the mint and the bitterness of the powder.
“Apparently, my Uncle Rhys got one of the last tubes of toothpaste anyone would ever use when Delta Company found him,” he chattered. Honestly, for as talkative as he was, it was a bit amazing that he was willing to spend so much time with only a dog for company. Or maybe that was why he was so talkative. “There was plenty of it lying around, of course, but by then the tubes they’d scavenged and everything they found as they went along were beginning to separate or dry up. He’d been so long without it that they took pity on him and let him have one of the last ones that hadn’t gone bad yet.”
By then she was done, her gums stinging and feeling well-scoured, her teeth strangely smooth. But her mouth tasted clean. Just before darkness fell, he brought another bucket of water for her to wash her clothes in so she could lay them out by the fire while she wore the spare clothing in her pack.
“—It won’t be dry by morning, of course, especially if it’s frosty tonight, but at least they won’t smell so ripe and we’ll pin them to the outside of your pack so they can air dry while we travel—”
By then she tuned him out, her eyes falling shut even as she tried to wring out her clothes by the firelight. She didn’t remember if she finished the task. At some point she must have stretched out on the blanket he’d spread on the ground for her, because the next thing she knew, she was waking up to the unfamiliar feel of another body pressing against hers.
“Shh,” Kal murmured as she startled, disturbing the dog on her other side. “Go back to sleep. I don’t think you heard me tell you we’d have to share the blankets. I don’t have enough to keep us both warm with as cold as it gets at night. If you have to have your own bedroll, we’ll keep an eye out for some we can scavenge but don’t get your hopes up. They’re probably either falling apart or full of things you really don’t want wrapped around you all night.”
His tone was amused, but she shuddered at the plain truth of his words. “I’m fine sharing. Thanks.”
He started off on another subject—something about sheep and wool and the Refuge’s efforts to re-learn spinning and designing looms—but she was asleep again before he got very far.
When Billie woke again, the sky was the dark gray that preceded dawn. Zeus was gone, her bladder was full, and she was warmer than she could remember being since she’d left the Clean Zone. It took a long time to gather the courage to leave the blankets and the heat of Kal’s body against hers to go relieve herself, shivering in the icy air. She hurried back to the bedroll, slipping under the blankets between Kal and the fire and drawing a grumble from him, though he didn’t seem to actually awaken.
Falling back to sleep was harder, because now she was rested enough to be aware of and care about the body behind her. Rolling slowly over to avoid disturbing him, she took the time to study him in a way that she’d been too cold or scared or tired to do the day before.
He was darker than all but a few people in the Clean Zone tended to be. Heavy black eyelashes swept the top of sharp-boned cheeks, and the faint crease of smile lines bracketed his mouth before his beard began. They deepened into something like long dimples when he did smile, which was often. His hair was long and shaggy enough that she really wasn’t been able to make out the shape of his brows, and she lifted a hand to brush it aside—
—Only to find her wrist caught in an iron grip.