Sci fi, Dystopian, Apocalyptic
Date Published: Aug 25 2020
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Four years have passed since the lillipads fell and Etyom slipped into darkness. The New Black Death has mutated again, spreading to near epidemic proportions. What little order existed in Earth’s last city has disintegrated into chaos.
Rippers roam the Vapid, robbing and leaving their victims butchered. The Robusts have spilled out of their broken enclaves and hide in any dark corner that will conceal them. Meanwhile, the elite Graciles, fallen from their pristine towers in the sky, have all mysteriously disappeared.
Demitri is a prisoner in his own mind. His demon, Vedmak—now known as the Vardøger—is manipulating Demitri’s body to execute a secret plan far more disastrous than even the Gracile Leader dared.
Mila, her status among the fractured resistance elevated to that of Paladyn—a protector of the people—leads the fight against zealots intent on destroying what little remains of Etyom. It is a responsibility she never wanted, a calling that prevents her from doing what she truly desires.
Yet, Mila should be careful of what she longs. Caught between annihilation and loyalties that refuse to die, she must reconcile a single immutable truth: following your heart comes at a price.
Previous Book in the Series
Sci fi, dystopian, apocalyptic
Date Published: May 22 2018
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
The world you know is dead. We did this to ourselves.
The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil, power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an antibacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hellhole in northern Siberia, engulfed in endless conflict.
The year is 2251.
Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled city of Lower Etyom dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were immune to the New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine platforms called lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the superrich, bio-engineered to resist the plague.
Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal gone bad, she's forced to take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on revolution.
Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if discovered, will get him Ax'd. His only relief is an illegal narcotic produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.
Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons and make a choice—one that will either salvage what's left of the human race or doom it to extinction …
Bronze Medal Winner — 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards — Science Fiction
· Gold (1st Place) Winner — 2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards — Science Fiction/Fantasy
· Finalist — 2018 Dragon Awards — Science Fiction
· Winner — 2018 New York Book Festival — Science Fiction
· First Place Ribbon — 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards — Science Fiction
EXCERPT from Book 2
The young man in the brown jacket spins, arms raised high, a blood-curdling scream issuing from his lips. A few awkward steps and he falls, sprawling headlong across a pile of slush and rubble. A crimson fan spreads out under his corpse, staining the snow red. Another death, another friend of the cause, gone.
He was seventeen.
All around the pop-whizz of gunfire followed by deafening explosions from detonating grenades reminds us all the Kahangan stronghold of Nazal will not fall easily. I slide farther into the frozen mud of the ditch and scrunch into a ball.
“Mos.” Where the hell is he? “Mos, you with me?”
“I'm here, Mila.” The barrel chested Kahangan with midnight skin crawls up next to me, careful to keep his bulk below the rise.
“Is he dead?”
“He's not moving.”
“Sniper?” Mos jerks his head in the direction of the building before us. Politsiya in faded Cyrillic letters adorns the ruined facade.
“Knows what they're doing too.” I pull a small mirror from the arm pouch on my leather jacket and slowly raise it to get a better view.
In the reflection is the form of a person, prone on the roof of the palace—if you can call it that.
A glint of light bounces off the glass.
I snatch my hand down and pinch my eyes shut as a chunk of earth explodes from the rim of the ditch, showering us with wet clods of cold mud. The lingering crack of a rifle follows. He’s got a sarding scope and a good, stable position. Guy definitely knows what he's doing.
“There's a way up to the roof on the back side,” Mos says. “I can flank his position and approach from behind if you can keep his attention.” He cocks his head. “That's probably stupid, huh?”
“It's only stupid if it doesn't work.”
Mos, already shuffling away, motions to a few others hiding in another ditch to follow.
“What are you going to do?” I ask.
“Wait for my call.” Mos grins, revealing large, square, white teeth, then creeps away and seems to vanish into thin air.
The cold seeps through my clothing, stealing the fading warmth of the sun. My scarred Kalashnikov rifle feels like a cold, lead weight. I exchanged my bean-bag propelling weapon for a death-dealing one some time ago. I don’t even remember when that happened. Like everything else in this forsaken city, it just sort of did. Yeos forgive me. I loose my canteen from my satchel and take a shaky swallow of the nearly frozen water.
A bark, much like a wild dog.
The signal. “Now!”
I drop the canteen, roll to the left, and rise to one knee. Three more of my fighters appear and the air ignites with the sounds of war. Dust and stone billow around the sniper's nest. Our suppressive fire has the desired effect: he’s blinded by debris.
“Ceasefire!” I kneel again, the Kalashnikov pressed into my shoulder, watching as the dust clears. “Stand ready.”
We wait in silence, a bitter wind snapping at our scarf-covered faces.
Another flash of light from the roof.
“Get down!” I flop into the muck.
This time there is no report. No exploding clump of earth. A cry of terror fills the air, followed by the sounds of a struggle. I chance a glance. Mos is standing tall and proud on the roof.
“Hold your fire!” I yell.
My comrades lower their weapons. Mos reaches down and plucks up a skinny Kahangan who drops a long-barreled rifle. The little man screams, flailing madly against my friend's superior strength.
“Traitor.” Mos bellows loud enough to be heard, even from down here. With a single heave, the large Kahangan hurls the sniper over the edge. The man's hollow scream is cut short as he strikes the frozen ground some ten stories below.
I force myself to peer down at his mangled corpse, twisted like a broken doll in the ice and mud below. The Kalashnikov drops to hang from its canvas strap across my chest. My people follow suit, relaxing their guard, their eyes glazed over in a mixture of relief and stress. They’re all good soldiers. Committed to the cause—peace in Etyom, the last city. The Kahangan civil war has been going on for too long. Kapka—who somehow managed to survive the RPG blast on the platform four years ago—continues his campaign against the followers of Yeos with renewed vigor, but has so far not managed to take this Musul faction. Instead, in this desolate place, power-hungry warlords fight over resources while the people suffer. Here, it’s not Kapka who reigns, but Nazal.
Little is known of the origins of this despot. Some say, like all warlords, he simply rode to power on the broken backs of the Kahangan people. That there was nothing he wasn’t willing to do and no one he wasn’t willing to betray to claim the power he felt was owed to him. Others seem to whisper of his evil deeds like he’s some sort of phantom—a terrible consequence of our own divisiveness. Whatever the case, Nazal is a plague. He’s no Kapka, but the piles of corpses he’s left in his wake can no longer be overlooked. The resistance will stop him because someone must.
About Stu Jones
A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu Jones has worked as a beat cop, an investigator, an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team.
About Gareth Worthington
Gareth Worthington BSc PhD EMBA is a trained marine biologist and holds a doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Gareth works in the pharmaceutical industry helping to educate the world's doctors on new cancer therapies.
IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR: TRAILER #1
IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR: TRAILER #2
IN THE SHADOW OF A VALIANT MOON: TRAILER #1
IN THE SHADOW OF A VALIANT MOON: TRAILER #2
Instagram: @garethworthington @stujonesfiction
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