Hi, and welcome to the Juggernaut blog tour!
Almost before I was done writing Strain, my mind began trying to fill in the blanks of the world we saw in Strain, trying to piece together what had led up to that point. I decided I wanted to write a story chronicling the apocalyptic pandemic, both the events leading up to it and the immediate aftermath. The result, of course, was Juggernaut.
On the Juggernaut blog tour, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the world of Juggernaut/Strain/Bane, including several cut scenes from Juggernaut which I felt contained important world-building details that in the end just didn’t fit the flow of the story. I’ll also be sharing a couple sneak previews of the third book in the Strain universe, Bane (coming September 21 from Riptide Publishing) as well as giving away three e-copies of Bane before it hits the shelves!
To enter to win, 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 Saturday, August 15th, 2015 and the winner will be contacted no later than Monday, August 17th. 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. Contest is NOT limited to US entries.
Good luck, and enjoy the tour!
This excerpt is the first of two scenes in Juggernaut that were deleted because they came from General McClosky’s POV, and in the editing process we decided that McClosky didn’t need to be a POV character. Unfortunately, that meant there was no other way to convey this insider’s insight into the domino-effect “comedy” of errors that resulted in the pandemic obliterating the population.
Phong Thị Thanh was the most brilliant bioweaps virologist in half a century, when she could get anyone to listen to her. The U.S. would have been in and out of Iran in half the time the last war there had taken, and with a fraction of the ongoing insurgent activity and peacekeeping troops needed, if she’d had the rank to make anyone pay attention when she first came up with the idea of Bane. McClosky had tapped her to consult when things had started heating up in Russia after the dissolution of the United Nations. The U.S. armed forces didn’t have the numbers for a drawn-out war of attrition, which any war in Russia would have to be by virtue of it being Russia.
There was no way the U.S. could allow Russian syndicates to monopolize the mines and inexpensive labor needed for making fuel cells. Their use wasn’t so widespread that all the power plants had been taken offline yet, but it was expanding. Some cities had refitted municipal buildings with fuel-cell powered utilities to set an example, and just like the post-World War II construction boom in the mid-20th century, employment was up due to contractors being in demand for those refits, with all the attendant benefits that came with lower unemployment. More tax revenue, lower welfare expenditures,
more money flowing into the economy. And it wasn’t only construction. A new service industry had been born, dealing with the maintenance and repair of fuel-cell equipment. It was getting workers out of the corporate tenements and into independent living, and economists were making cautiously optimistic predictions that America might see a rebuilding of the all-but-vanished middle class.
Perhaps more importantly—depending on the priorities of whoever you asked—was the fact that new fuel-cell driven military equipment and weaponry was in the pipeline and steadily rolling into commission. The technology had the potential to reduce military fuel expenditures by a significant margin over the next twenty years, and while it wasn’t McClosky’s branch of R&D, the weapons concepts coming off the drawing board offered a promise to bring about the day—the first since September of 2001—when the U.S. was not engaged in active hostilities or occupation somewhere in the world.
Anything that jeopardized the precious supply of those minerals—such as Russia’s criminally governed syndicate factions—had to be dealt with swiftly and decisively, especially with China threatening to wade into the fray on Russia’s behalf. But the US forces were outnumbered, poorly trained, and using nearly antique armaments in some units. Washington steadfastly refused to reinstate the draft or institute a mandatory service policy. Doing so would have been political suicide and the wealthy idiots in office—few of whom had ever had to serve or see someone they love serve—weren’t about to risk their re-election chances. Most of them were more concerned with waging the War on Immorality on the home front, which made for better copy. Items regarding the curtailing of civil rights for gender and sexual minorities kept making their way into bills intended for military appropriations, stopping them dead.
The bottom line was that something had to be done to increase the effectiveness of the limited troops they had, preferably while decreasing the effectiveness of enemy forces.
The primary arm of Juggernaut had been Thanh’s brainchild. She and McClosky were in agreement on their reservations about the second arm of the project, but even she admitted that if it deployed successfully, it could make all the difference.
Phase One had been an unprecedented success, but it was reports from the first active engagements involving Juggernaut troops that McClosky had been waiting for when he’d been shot.
He could tell by the tension at the corners of her eyes and mouth when she walked into his hospital room that something was seriously wrong.
They greeted each other and spoke of innocuous issues while Thanh wandered the room with a small hand-held scanner. The search for bugs came up negative, but they weren’t going to take any chances in an unsecured location.
As she finished reporting on the latest attempt to work a more liberal budget into R&D appropriations, McClosky groaned loudly and shifted in his bed.
“Everything all right, General?”
“Yeah. I’m just too damn sore and drugged to sit still for long or talk shop. Get my mind off things. How’s your family?”
“They’re good, sir. My brother’s kids are still backpacking across Europe.” The Juggernaut troops are holding position at base.
“They’re not too hot this time of year?” Have they seen any action?
“My youngest nephew suffered a small case of heat-stroke, unfortunately. He was carrying their supplies.” One company has been involved in an engagement with some casualties.
“Did he recover well?”
Her mouth tightened. “They managed to get his body temp down again, but the supplies were left behind.” The troops were withdrawn after Phase Two had been deployed.
“And how’s he doing now?”
“He’s fine, but his mother’s in a panic. She’s demanding they come home immediately so she can see they’re all right for herself. Apparently the idea that they might get hurt never occurred to her before. They’ll be flying back to Maryland here shortly.”
McClosky was so startled for a moment he forgot to keep the dialog going.
The State Department deluded itself into thinking there wouldn’t be any casualties and wants to interview the wounded troops to get an after-action report. They’re bringing them to Bethesda to do it.
McClosky forced a gravelly chuckle. “If I were them, at that age, I’d burn my passport first.” Can we stop them being brought back?
Thanh echoed the laugh. “My sister-in-law says if they do that, they can kiss any hopes they have of her helping to pay for university goodbye.” Someone powerful is threatening to pull the plug and cut off funding.
“Well, that’s a damn shame. Maybe they can resume their trip here back home. Where was it you said your parents lived?” Can we have them diverted to a more secure facility?
“Down south, sir. And yeah, they’ve been wanting to visit their grandparents for a while, so they’ll probably head there after they check in with their mother.” Too late to have them delivered directly to the CDC in Atlanta, but they’ll be sent there as soon as we placate the politicians.
“Well, let’s just hope the weather is still good by then.” Let’s pray nothing goes wrong while they’re outside quarantine.
“Yes, sir, I definitely hope so.”
For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.
Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.
When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.
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I would like to give a big Thank You to Amelia C. Gormley and Riptide for letting us take place in this Blog Tour