A LINE IN THE ICE
by Jamie Craig
Thanks for joining me on this blog tour stop about a fast, action-packed science fiction novel sure to get your blood pumping. From the first page when our heroes battle freaky alien-like creatures, this novel doesn't stop to rest. This is definitely an adult story, though, with profanity and adult situations. But if you're comfortable with that and you like scary, science fiction adventures--you'll love this.
Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official Line in the Ice blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom. Click on this link and scroll down toward the bottom, and vote for A Thousand Wrongs. Thanks!
Learn more about this author duo by visiting their website, blog, Facebook or GoodReads pages or by connecting with them on Twitter. Buy the ebook here: http://www.amazon.com/Line-Ice-ebook/dp/B005078OMO
Bloodthirsty monsters are emerging from the ice, the same creatures that once stalked the battlegrounds of World War I. Back then, a group of soldiers valiantly fought off the beasts—and were never seen again. A century later, an elite military squad stands between civilization and the mysterious return of the enemy.
Captain Charlie Weller thinks she's seen everything—until a man crawls out onto the ice, barely alive and muttering about a place called Illyria. Lysander Davies claims to be the descendant of one of the missing soldiers. He insists the monsters are actually gentle creatures, under the control of beings far, far more dangerous...
Drawn to the stranger, Charlie believes his stories and agrees to help him. But they both know nothing can come of their feelings for one another, for the only way to save earth is for Lysander to return to Illyria and close the rift behind him, forever...
About the authors:
Jamie Craig is the collaboration between novelists Pepper Espinoza and Vivien Dean. Our first novel, "Chasing Silver," was published by Juno Books in December 2007. Since 2007, we have published eight titles with Samhain Publishing, four titles with Liquid Silver Books, and over three dozen with Amber Quill Press, including two best-selling series. Our urban fantasies “Mosaic Moon” and “Dominion” were two of our six 2008 EPPIE Finalists. For a complete list of our published and upcoming books, please visit our website, http://www.jamie-craig.com Or find us on twitter @jamiecraig
A Line in the Ice Excerpt: Chapter One
The ancient ice stretched into the horizon with no sign of cracks or fissures. Sergeant Charlie Weller knew better. She heard it first. A low hum deep in her ears, creating pressure behind her eyes and in her sinuses.
“Three o’clock.” Theo Maigny drew her attention to the right of their glider. A tall figure loomed over the ice, its silhouette twisted, its head too large for its body, its arms almost touching the ground. They were too far away—and the sun was too bright—to make out the details, but Charlie didn’t need them. Regardless of what the thing looked like, she only had one objective.
Their sentry had warned of two heat signatures. That meant two creatures on the ice, but visible or not, she didn’t worry about a second monster shooting off in a new direction. Soren would have told them. They each had a job. None of them slacked. Right now, hers was to get the state-of-the-art glider close enough for Theo to take a shot.
Thirty yards away, they rocked hard to the left. Her hand tightened convulsively on the sidestick, and she righted them almost immediately, but her pulse raced in time with the glider’s engine.
She decelerated to better navigate through the shock waves. “What was that?”
“We were hit. I don’t think we took any damage, but I think that big fucker up ahead is meant to serve as a distraction. I can’t find the second creature.”
“Soren!” She jerked hard on the stick, banking toward where the shot had to originate from. They needed to be able to see the enemy. “What’s going on? We only see one creature!”
The connection crackled in her ear. “It’s there. It has to be.”
“With the other one.”
“No, it’s not.”
“The sensors say—”
“I don’t care what the sensors say! My eyes are telling me something different!”
The glider rocked again. Theo’s growl of frustration rumbled in her earpiece, and they shifted slightly as he brought the gun up to his shoulder. Her shoulders and neck ached from additional strain as she braced herself for the shot. They practiced this as much as they could—which wasn’t much since every bullet was precious. But no amount of preparation could ever be enough.
When he fired, she wrestled with the glider, stopping it from going into a spin from the force of the bullet exiting the barrel.
The rear jackknifed over the ice. Her fingers flew along the trim, compensating for their speed, while she tried not to yank the sidestick and flip them over. Even with the glider’s high sides, a roll was the surest path to death. The force against the ice upon impact would either snap their necks or decapitate them, and she liked her head exactly where it was.
Though it took seconds to straighten them out, it felt like an eternity. “Tell me you got it, Theo.”
“Pretty sure I hit it but the bastard didn’t even flinch. You got to bring me closer.”
As soon as Theo finished speaking, the glider lurched again. For a brief, horrible second, she knew they were going to flip. She wasn’t strong enough. She wasn’t fast enough. She couldn’t fight the basic laws of physics. Her shoulders screamed in protest and a part of her recognized she wouldn’t even be able to move the next day. If they survived at all. It may have been nothing more than sheer force of will that straightened the glider, but she wasn’t going to question it.
“Come on, come on, come on…you fucker.” The gun’s report exploded over the ice.
The rift’s hum reverberated through Charlie’s body. Her last circle had brought them closer to it, unintentionally so. She hit on a plan and, without thinking about it twice, veered toward the first creature, the one she could see. Not even Theo’s, “What are you doing?” slowed her down.
“Doing this the hard way.”
She jammed the speed, foregoing navigability for sheer power. Her fingers itched to pull back, but this maneuver required careful timing. The creature might dodge out of the way or it might charge, and then she’d be up shit creek. She counted off in her head, her gaze unwavering from the monster as it loomed larger and larger.
“Get ready to shoot when I say so.”
Theo didn’t question her. Thank God.
The weapon in the creature’s hands was nothing they’d encountered before, but a head-on attack made her a much smaller target. Ten feet away, she swerved to the left.
Theo took the shot as they zipped by. He had been trained as a sniper before being sent to the end of the world and they had relied on his skills more than once. She had no choice but to trust him now. The shot still echoed off the ice when the creature roared. The microphones in their helmets picked up the sound, creating a feedback loop that threatened to blow their eardrums out. They might be entirely alien monsters, unlike anything Charlie had ever seen before, but pain still sounded the same.
So did dying.
“Found the second one,” Theo said. “It’s on the bastard’s back.”
“Tell me what you want from me.”
“I injured the big one. But we have to stop the glider. I need your firepower.”
She made a broad sweep back, circling the rift and coming around its opposite end. The glider eased to a stop. Theo jumped out of the craft first, running far enough away to ensure their vehicle wouldn’t get hit. She followed seconds after him, the weight of her gun against her palm frighteningly comforting.
Theo dropped to one knee and rested the butt of his rifle against his shoulder. Everything froze for a moment. There wasn’t even the sound of Theo’s breath through the speaker or the crunch of ice beneath her boot. She could finally make out the details of the monster they fought. Green fluid—it might have been blood—flowed freely from a wound in its neck, but that didn’t stop it from swinging its arms in wide arcs. The ice vibrated from the force of its roars, but they were thick and wet, too, as if blood welled up in the back of its mouth.
It swung its head, allowing her the chance to see what Theo had noticed. A creature, not quite a man but not quite a monkey, clung to the larger thing’s shoulders. It held a weapon with a long, discolored barrel. The monkey-thing saw her, too, and its lips pulled back in a silent growl.
Neither one of them wasted time. Charlie shot at the smaller creature while Theo went for the larger. Twin death cries pierced the crisp air, blood splattering onto the ice to bounce and then steam. The monsters separated like an amoeba dividing and Charlie swung her gun around to track the monkey-thing where it sprawled on the ice. Its weapon extended forward, the muzzle resting on the ground. She pulled her trigger at the same time the weapon jerked.
Theo must have seen it, too. The air rippled from the sudden rush of heat and they both rolled out of its path, diving in opposite directions. The signature of whatever the weapon discharged blasted between them, warming her in spite of the chill from direct contact with the glacial earth. By the time she was back on her knees, her gun was already in place and she emptied her clip into her target.
Its weapon fell limply onto the ice. A few yards away, Theo’s monster finally crumpled to the ground.
“Jesus Christ.” Theo straightened and approached the fallen creatures. “I don’t like the fact they’re getting smarter.”
“Are they?” She holstered her weapon as they walked. “Or were we just lucky until now?”
“I especially don’t like the fact that they’re armed now.” He put the strap of his rifle over his shoulder, though he was still tense, ready for a fight. “Steward? Guliyev? How are you doing over there?”
“We brought down the third creature, but we have a problem.” Lisa’s voice. It seemed like it came from the other end of a long tunnel.
“There’s a hole in our fuel tank,” her partner, Eduard, interjected.
“Shit,” Charlie muttered. “Who’d we piss off today to deserve this kind of luck?”
voice cut through. “Can you patch it up?”
Charlie didn’t like the long pause before Lisa’s answer. “I’m going to try. It’s not big yet. We haven’t lost too much fuel.”
“How far away are they, Soren?”
“About two miles.”
Not so far on the glider. “We’ll retrieve these weapons and be there as soon as we can. We’ve got enough juice to share in case you lose too much.”
“Is the rift clear?”
She glanced back at the fissure. “Yeah, there’s nothing…”
Her voice faded away. At the edge of the crevice, dark shadows smudged the ice. A trick of the glare, most likely, or something on her goggles. But though she didn’t move, the shadow lifted and then promptly collapsed against the icy plain.
Those weren’t optical illusions.
The smudges were gloved hands and the shadow, the unmistakable shape of a man.