Heroes Without, Monsters Within is on the way!

Well folks, it’s almost time for the sequel to “Blaze of Glory” to hit the shelves! We’re set for a January 3, 2012 launch but I can’t help teasing you for the next few months as we ramp it up to the release!

Let’s start off slow with the official blurb:

Fight alone, die alone.

In the weeks since Jo “Surf” Tanis and her rough-and-tumble band of super-powered actors broke free of the government-sponsored superhero show, they’re all still dealing with the aftershock of adjusting to this thing called reality.

It doesn’t get much more real than a mission to dig survivors out of what’s left of Erie, PA, after a mysterious earthquake. A trembler that powerful is as out of place as Jo feels as the de-facto leader of the troupe. Not to mention the soul-shaking feelings she has for Hunter, a team member whose past as an Agency Guardian casts a heavy shadow over any possible relationship.

It seems one of the supers, an earth-warper named Ground Pounder, has gone rogue, using his freedom from the Agency’s brand of virtual slavery to put the “villain” back in supervillain. Failure to find him before any more innocent bystanders are hurt means the team could be back under the Agency’s thumb.

It’s a burden that doesn’t rest easy on Jo’s shoulders…especially when the man who’s invaded her heart is caught in the crossfire.

****

Now if that doesn’t get you all curious about what’s going to go on with our favorite superpowered misfits, here’s a sample of what you’ve got to look forward to!

****

The rooftop was quiet and dark, the only illumination coming from the shops below me along Queen Street West. A pizza place across the way advertised 2-for-1 slices, a comic book store with a neon Bat Signal beamed into the night and an all-night convenience store flashed OPEN. The black gravel still had long drag marks from my awful landing earlier.

After smoothing out the skid marks I headed for the edge of the building. I sat down and crossed my legs in front of me, not in a painful-looking yoga pose but a casual sit. Meditation had been Mike’s bag, not mine. I’d done it with him to keep him happy, but it never really worked for me. The control over my power came from a constant awareness of my surroundings, not reciting mantras for a sense of inner peace. But it’d been part of what made Mike work and what made us work as a team. So I’d taken it back up, isolating myself on the roof at least once a day for a bit of introspection.

I felt like I’d aged ten years since New York City. I’d never realized the weight on Mike’s shoulders until now, and I regretted every time I’d brawled with him over the little things, the minutiae that you only think about when someone’s gone. Wet towels in the shower, drinking out of the milk carton instead of using a glass, not changing the empty toilet paper roll. I was guilty of the first two, he the third.

I closed my eyes and listened to the crowds below. It was likely I was in range of a half-dozen cameras, all snapping away images of the great Surf doing her thing. I didn’t care.

A young girl’s laugh drifted up to me, along with the smell of fresh pizza, mixed in with the aroma of the BBQ joint farther down the street. I made a mental note to order in their ribs in the next few days, make it a double order or maybe a triple with Steve around. The sauce was spicy and sweet enough to add to the taste, not to drown it.

“Hey.” Someone slid down into the gravel beside me. Hunter.

“You better be wearing more than that towel,” I growled. My eyes stayed closed.

“Afraid of what the tabloids would say?”

“Afraid of what they’d see. Need a microscope to find anything.” I reached out and tapped him in the side of the head without looking. “I’m busy.”

“So I see.” He sat in silence beside me for a few minutes. I heard him shuffle into a cross-legged position, giving off a pained gasp as he curled his legs around.

Inhale, exhale. Find your happy place and balance it. I felt the shimmering around me shift and resolve into an ordered pattern. I stretched out my power and touched the waves around us, pulling it into my bare hands. It was like building a tower with bricks and playing the harp at the same time.

“You’re not responsible for what other supers do,” Hunter whispered.

“I know.”

“We’re going to find this guy.”

“I know.”

“We’re all behind you, whatever you decide to do.”

“I know.”

“I’m bothering you.”

“I know.”

“Okay. I surrender.” He got to his feet, laughing as he unfolded himself. “I’ll be downstairs if you want to talk.”

I let my breath out slowly, drew in another lungful and pulled it to my center. The door slammed shut. That’d be a shot for the tabloids to exploit. I knew they weren’t monitoring our chat. Jessie had set up scramblers for that, electronic toys to keep them from reading our lips. I didn’t know how, but I trusted him that they worked.

My inner peace disappeared with a salami-based burp.

There was still Hunter to deal with. I hadn’t taken our relationship past the kissy-kissy stage, and I could tell he was getting annoyed and impatient. When I’d discovered he was not only a Guardian but also a super, a wall had shot up between us and stayed in effect, despite May’s deathbed instructions placing us in each other’s hands, sealing our bond not only as a super and a Guardian but also as a couple. He hadn’t been honest about his abilities almost until the very end and that could have cost us the final battle, all because he didn’t want to expose May to possible death. In the end she’d died, but it’d been her decision, not the Agency and not Hunter’s.

Mike’s ghost also hovered over us. I hadn’t been in love with the big lug, our relationship nothing more than one of convenience and needs, but I still missed him. He’d been my strength for years, my one constant in a world of fakes. We may have been false superheroes, but we’d been true friends. I believed he’d want me to move onwards and upwards in more than just saving the world, but this was a whole new world I’d created. Now I had to find a place for Mike’s memory, Hunter and my own spot as a leader.

I shivered in the cool night air, remembering the last few minutes Mike and I had been together. There had been nothing of him to recover after the battle, nothing to bury. The crater still sat in the middle of a New York City street, barricaded off as the rest of the city rebuilt around it. Around him.

A scream broke through the crowd’s mumbling beneath me in one of the narrow alleys that ran in a jagged maze behind the storefronts.

Before I had a chance to gather my thoughts I was on my feet, running over the roof towards the back of the Lair. The alley was dark, cut off from any street illumination. I’d avoided it when I’d worked here, doing all my traveling via the front door. The old cobblestone lanes were a perfect spot for muggers, rapists and drug dealers.

Until now.

I stepped off into the night, playing the waves around me in a light crescendo as I fell towards the ground.

*****

and… that’s it for now! Keep checking back over the next few weeks and months for more excerpts, cover art and giveaways as we fly towards 2012 and the return of the Protectors!

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