Hello, all! I’m Don Allmon and this week I’ll be touring the web to promote my new book, APOCALYPSE ALLEY, the second in the Blue Unicorn series.
If you’re looking for fast-paced cyberpunk/fantasy romance – Terminator 2 meets Fury Road with two sexy guys and a dragon – this is your jam.
Join in the fun by leaving a comment which enters you to win a Riptide gift card!
About Apocalypse Alley
Home from a six-month assignment to war-torn East Asia, genetically engineered supersoldier Noah “Comet” Wu just wants to kick back, share a beer, and talk shit with his best friend, JT. But JT’s home has been shot up like a war zone, and his friend has gone missing.
Comet’s only lead is a smart-mouthed criminal he finds amid the mess. His name’s Buzz Howdy. He’s a con man and a hacker and deserves to be in jail. Or in handcuffs, at least. The only thing the two have in common is JT. Unless you count the steamy glances they’re sneaking at one another. They have those in common too. But that just makes Comet all the more wary.
Despite their mutual distrust, they’ll have to work together to rescue JT before a cyborg assassin gets to him first. Racing down a miserable stretch of road called Apocalypse Alley, they must dodge radioactive spiders, a killer Buick, and rampaging cannibals. They also try to dodge each other. That last bit doesn’t work out so well.
JT is an orc on the way up. He’s got his own boutique robotics shop, high-end clientele, and deep-pocketed investors. He’s even mentoring an orc teen who reminds him a bit too much of himself back in the day.
Then Austin shows up, and the elf’s got the same hard body and silver tongue as he did two years ago when they used to be friends and might have been more. He’s also got a stolen car to bribe JT to saying yes to one last scheme: stealing the virtual intelligence called Blue Unicorn.
Soon JT’s up to his tusks in trouble, and it ain’t just zombies and Chinese triads threatening to tear his new life apart. Austin wants a second chance with JT—this time as more than just a friend—and even the Blue Unicorn is trying to play matchmaker.
About Don Allmon
In his night job, Don Allmon writes science fiction, fantasy, and romance. In his day job, he’s an IT drone. He holds a master of arts in English literature from the University of Kansas and wrote his thesis on the influence of royal hunting culture on medieval werewolf stories. He’s a fan of role-playing games, both video and tabletop. He has lived all over from New York to San Francisco, but currently lives on the prairies of Kansas with many animals.
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To celebrate the release of Apocalypse Alley, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 3, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Spent casings littered the parking lot. A dead Atari Koroshiya 036 urban combat drone lay drowned in its own hydraulic oils, a twisted, scarred wreck. Scraps of high-tensile netting and plastic shards from burst floodlights sparkled in the afternoon sunlight. There were bullet holes punched in the corrugated walls and divots blasted out of concrete. The whole compound stank of burnt wiring.
It looked like Yingkiong, or Beylagan, or Kampong Cham, or any number of other torn-up places Comet had been deployed to. It didn’t look like Arizona. It didn’t look like Jason’s home.
Comet had known something was wrong the moment he’d stepped off the plane after six months deployed to India and Jason hadn’t been there waiting with balloons and a cold welcome-home beer he would party-trick open with one tusk. Comet had needed to cab it to Duke’s place. There, he had gone straight for his bike and pistol, hadn’t even said hi to Duke.
Duke had seen him leaving and sent, —Where are you going? over the net, the Old Man’s voice simulated directly into his brain. It sounded like Comet’s own thoughts, except different.
—Something’s wrong. And on the ride to Jason’s compound, his cold-gut feeling got worse and worse, and now here was all the evidence of a goddamn war.
He almost signaled his squad. He didn’t because they were on holiday now, just like he was, and this was Arizona, not Arunachal Pradesh, and he refused to admit home had changed so badly as that.
—Raiders hit Jason, he sent to Duke, glad for once that the sending protocol didn’t carry tone well. It kept the hint of panic out of his words.
He slipped off his modded Kawasaki, slaved his 9mm Israeli Qayin, and pressed himself tight against the wall of the nearest shed.
Duke had told Jason not to build so far outside of town: no one to call for help if a raiding band swept through. It was four K to the next home, ten K to Greentown. But Jason had to have his privacy.
Comet linked his vision so Duke could see what he saw. He started recording, standard procedure.
Jason’s home and business was a concrete enclosure turreted on each of four corners. It had one entrance: a drive with sunken hydraulic bollards and a gate that was closed and electrified at night. Right now it was open, and the bollards were down. Inside the wall was an open yard of mixed paving and gravel big enough to park five or six cars or APCs or whatever vehicle Jason was printing at the time—empty now, except for Comet’s motorcycle and way too many bullet casings.
Six buildings ringed the yard: a toolshed (Comet tight against it), an armory, a storage warehouse, an empty garage (all the doors rolled up so he could see inside), Jason’s home (single story, concrete and steel, Bauhaus would have approved), and the printer lab. The printer lab sat catty-corner to the house. It had two doors: a bay door for the vehicles Jason printed, and a standard people-sized door. The bay door was closed. The people-sized door had been blown off its hinges and lay bent against the frame.
None of the other buildings had been messed with, not even the armory, which Comet found curious, because if he’d been the one to raid this place, he’d have cracked that armory wide open. Jason built more than motorcycles and monster trucks.
—Find survivors, Duke sent. That word survivors, sterile and analytical, steadied Comet, as if it wasn’t Jason they were talking about.
Pistol in both hands, Jedi-blue cybernetic eyes flickering through wavelength bands (seeing nothing, seeing nothing, seeing nothing), he leapt up the shed wall, then from one roof to another light as a feather. Grandmaster Natalia Jen had taught him to fly the way the old heroes used to. It was called qīnggōng, and he’d almost been a master. He’d nearly lost it all when his cybernetic and genetic modifications permanently disrupted his qì. These fantastic leaps were the best he could do anymore.
He landed at the front door of Jason’s home and slipped inside.
The AC was busted. The air was acrid but infrared showed no fires. There was no one here. On the dining table lay a pair of open tungsten handcuffs and a half-eaten mustard sandwich. The bread was mostly soft. On impulse, he took the handcuffs, reset the code, and slipped them into his jacket pocket.
He returned to the yard and inspected the ruined combat drone. It had looked something like a mantis, once. It was pitted from high caliber bullets and its hydraulic tubing had been laid bare and cut at several critical points. Across its chest was hand-painted the word: DOC. The Atari Koroshiya 036 was expensive. They could work independently on their limited virtual intelligence, but to be worth the cost, they needed a skilled pilot. If there were more than a few hundred skilled pilots in the world, Comet would have been surprised. Pilots like those lived their lives 24/7/52 in deep sleep, their entire interaction with the real world through the drones they controlled. Duke would have given both nuts and also thrown in Comet’s to get someone like that on the payroll, and Duke really liked Comet’s nuts. They’d cost him a fortune.
Comet checked for the Atari’s brain, but the slot was empty. Someone had taken care to remove any evidence of what had happened here.
Through the broken door of the printer building, Comet heard a woman’s voice: “Help me, Dante Riggs. You’re my only hope.”
That was just about the last thing Comet had expected to hear. Dante Riggs was Jason’s kid apprentice. Comet had never liked her.
He held his pistol close enough to his cheek he could feel its coolant. He leaned around the bent doorframe of the printer control room and looked in.
There was a man in the room. Comet didn’t know who he was, except he didn’t belong here.
He was standing amid the tangle of thick power cables that fed a hemispherical bank of eight 210-centimeter monitors behind him and was watching the projection from a large floor holo-display. It was working on backup power and projected a life-sized, staticked-up image of a pickup truck jacked high on immense wheels. The door of the holographic truck opened and a holographic woman dropped down from the cab to the ground. She wore a one-piece dress and her hair was done in an afro. The tips of her ears showed through. She was an elf and she was pretty. All elven women were. She said, “Help me, Dante Riggs. You’re my only hope.” And then the whole hologram went static and reset to the beginning: truck, door, woman, “Help me, Dante Riggs . . .”
The man didn’t look like a raider. Raiders wore body armor and bristled with knives and guns. This guy didn’t look to have a single weapon on him. He was as white as white guys got and probably Irish. He looked like a college kid out on spring break: cargo shorts and a flannel shirt over a faded T-shirt, white socks, and the antique kind of sneakers that never went out of style. He hadn’t had a haircut in a year and might not have owned a comb. His hair hung to his shoulders in a shaggy mass of loose copper curls and played mischief with his eyes.
He was adorable, and that was a damn shame, because any other time and place and the conversation they were about to have would have been completely different. Comet’s targeting laser brushed the guy’s cheek and settled over his temple. The guy was so deep in his study of the hologram, he didn’t even notice. Comet marked him as an enemy combatant and labeled him “Shaggy” so his gun knew who to kill, then he said, “Move and I’ll shoot you.”
Shaggy yelped and his hands shot up in surrender. Comet crossed the room fast and smooth, gun arm steady, and the little red dot wavered less than a few centimeters. Comet grabbed him by his shirt and shoved him back until he hit the bank of monitors. Shards of broken plexi clattered down.
He jammed his pistol under Shaggy’s jaw. “Where’s Jason? Who the fuck are you?”
Shaggy sputtered. Behind them, the hologram looped. “Help me, Dante Riggs. You’re my only hope.”
Comet lifted him so his feet were dangling. He didn’t weigh much. Comet could hold him up left-handed. He pressed the gun in harder. There was gonna be a bruise. The guy’s eyes rolled down and went mostly white trying to see the pistol buried in his chin. He said, “Qayin,” and closed his eyes like he was waiting to be killed.
Comet felt the smart link drop. The gun shut down. He pulled the trigger out of reflex. Nothing happened. This guy here had just hacked his weapon that fucking fast.
Shaggy took advantage of Comet’s surprise, twisted free, and sprinted hard for the door. Comet tackled him effortlessly—the guy wasn’t modded—and had him in an arm lock a moment later.
The guy cussed up a storm and huffed and whined as tears sprang into his eyes because that lock hurt, Comet knew. Comet tightened it so it hurt more.
“Now you’re gonna answer my questions.”
—Bring him in, Duke sent, having watched the whole thing through Comet’s eyes. He’ll answer mine.
Comet grinned wickedly. “Now you really fucked up.” He snapped the handcuffs on the guy and dragged him back to Greentown to see Duke.