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
Good luck, and enjoy Refuge!
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.
CHAPTER 5, PART 2
not familiar with the customs in the Clean Zone,” Kal muttered, releasing her
wrist without opening his eyes. “But in the Refuge, we ask permission before we
whispered, scrambling as far away as she dared get without having to skirt the
fire. She rubbed her wrist, trying to calm her racing heart. He might not be
one of the Jugs, but his reflexes were frighteningly fast. “I just wanted to
get an idea of what you looked like under the hair.”
“S’okay. Didn’t say the
answer would be no. Just that asking was in order.” He sounded half asleep
again already, but he pushed his own hair back off his forehead, revealing
heavy black brows that offset the almost delicate appearance of his cheekbones.
“There. You’ve seen. Now get back under the blankets before you freeze your
bits off—and mine. Zeus has gone hunting; he’ll wake us up when he comes back.
Since her backside was
already going numb from contact with the frosty ground, she obeyed, making him
grumble again. This time it made her smile.
She didn’t manage to go
back to sleep, and she wasn’t sure he did any more than doze, but it was
pleasant in the warm space between him and the embers of the fire. Zeus
returned a small rabbit that he apparently didn’t intend to share this time.
Kal berated him good-naturedly for his selfishness, but nonetheless spitted the
creature and cooked it until it was warm but still bloody. As the sun started
to melt the frost into dew, they braved the chill to wrap their fingers around
tin mugs of broth made from the meaty remnants of last night’s meal and left to
simmer over the coals all night. It was richer than the broth he’d made the
previous day from salted meat, filling her as well as warming her from the
inside-out. While they sipped it, he regaled her with memories people in the
Refuge used to wistfully share with him about a marvelous—and sadly, now,
nonexistent—hot beverage called coffee.
He was a gifted
storyteller, perfectly capturing the longing in the tales he related.
“You make it sound like
they were talking about a lover rather than something they used to drink,” she
He closed his mouth with
a snap. “You know,” he said after a moment’s thought. “I’m really not sure they
could tell the difference.”
Billie giggled, this time
managing not to splutter into her broth.
“No, I’m serious,” he
protested, though the twinkle in his eyes said he was anything but. “I
guarantee it. At least one of my moms would probably shank me, her firstborn, beloved child, if I stood between her and an
undiscovered and somehow miraculously preserved cache of the stuff.”
She smiled sweetly. “I’m
sure the other one would do it for just a few minutes of quiet, no coffee
He pantomimed being
stabbed in the chest. “Ouch! That’s it. See if I share my dog with you again.”
He turned an aggrieved look down to the canine at his feet. “Who needs a shiv
when they got her around, huh boy?”
Zeus rose and shook
himself off before rounding the fire to plop down beside her. At which point
Billie had to set her cup on the ground before she fell over, laughing until
her stomach ached. By the time she had recovered, the dog had his snout in her
broth, and she got to spend the rest of the morning being teased over how she’d
been played by a mutt.
that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.
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.
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, 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,verybad 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
You can find her self-publishedImpulsetrilogy almost anywhere ebooks are
sold, and check out her catalog of Riptide Publishing releases at their