Bane (Strain, #2) by Amelia C. Gormley
Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist Kanaxa
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome Amelia C. Gormley here today as we step back into her dystopian universe of Strain. Amelia’s brought not only a contest for Bane, but the rough draft of a new Strain universe novel, Refuge. On our part of the tour, our readers will get the first look at Chapter 1 (part2) of Refuge, . Welcome, Amelia, and thanks for the opportunity for this first glimpse at your new story!
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’ll be 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. As always, you must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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.
Refuse, A Strain Universe Novel
CHAPTER 1, PART 2
She landed hard, her shoulder and ribs screaming a song of pain at the impact. Billie’s teeth snapped closed on her tongue and the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. She wasn’t sure if the crack she heard was the house collapsing around her, or her own bones fracturing. The basement was even colder than the house above it had been, filled with the odors of wet and mildew, dirt and animal droppings. It was impossibly dark; even the meager moonlight that had filtered through the dusty windows of the house above was all but gone. Around her, rodents squeaked and squealed and chittered.
That was the sound that broke her.
Weeping with fear and despair, she curled into a ball. Even if it didn’t hurt to move, the chances of her finding the stairs in the pitch black were almost non-existent, and if she did stumble upon them by sheer luck, they were just as rotten as the floor had been. More so, really. She’d ventured to check them when she was exploring the house as a possible shelter, hoping there might be something she could scavenge in the basement. The first one had been mushy beneath her carefully-placed foot and she hadn’t dared put her weight on it. Climbing them now, when she was already injured, would just be impossible.
But sooner or later those rats in the darkness were going to overcome their fear at this loud intrusion and start biting her. Then she would die of infection or disease if the cold didn’t kill her first.
She was tired. Too tired to make the effort to try to survive. She closed her eyes and begged whatever powers that be to help her go to sleep or even freeze to death before the pain began.
Something warm pressed against her, whining softly. The dog. It had gotten into the house and down the stairs she wasn’t brave enough to climb. Its cold wet nose nudged her face, its tongue licking her cheek. It stiffened and growled, and Billie braced herself for it to bite, but a moment later it was nudging her and whining again.
That process repeated itself several times—the curious sniffing and licking, followed by a menacing growl. The growl didn’t seem to be for her, though. Finally she realized it only growled when the rats got louder.
Was it driving off them off?
Was it protecting her?
Eventually it snarled and lunged at something. A loud squeal and a lot of movement followed, the scratching and clicking of little feet as they bolted in fear. Then there was silence except for the dog, who returned to press against her and whine reassuringly.
She was still cold where she lay on the concrete of the basement floor, but the warmth of the dog helped offset that. Billie grew braver, wrapping an arm around it and burying her face in its fur. It smelled . . . clean. Not like she imagined a wild dog would smell at all. Maybe this was a domesticated dog that had somehow wandered away from the Clean Zone, or perhaps even one that had gone with someone who had left the Clean Zone for the same sorts of reasons Billie had. Maybe that person had died and now it was alone like her.
Feeling safer than she had since she’d run away, despite the cold and hunger, she fell into an exhausted sleep.
When she woke, the dog was still there, and faint hints of light were filling the hole in the floor over her head. It ran off once she was awake, and it was gone for some time before returning. Consciousness was an elusive thing. Sometimes the dog was gone, and sometimes it was right there, radiating warmth. Sometimes it barked at her, begging her to get up and follow it up the stairs. She even managed to crawl a few feet in that direction before the shaking of her limbs and weariness dragging her down had made it impossible.
The dog charged off again, and in that icy, semi-conscious state, she thought she heard it barking in the distance. No doubt berating her for not following.
All she could do was lay there, too cold even to shiver.
In the early 22nd century, the US military created Project Juggernaut. It was meant to solve a hopeless tactical imbalance in overseas wars by providing the US military with supersoldiers while crippling enemy resistance.
Instead, it introduced a deadly pandemic that all but obliterated humanity.
The remaining Juggernaut troops work tirelessly to find and protect the surviving uninfected population—even though they themselves are exiled and despised by those they help. But their efforts are hampered by the vestiges of a dysfunctional government, old prejudices that refuse to die, and those few who would do anything—and sacrifice anyone—to become superhuman too.
– See more at Riptide Publishing’s Strain universe page.