Thursday, February 6, 2020

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Scorpion by Jeff Sweat - Cover Reveal + Giveaway



Today Jeff Sweat and Rockstar Book Tours
are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for SCORPION, the sequel to
his YA Dystopian, MAYFLY which releases June 23, 2020! Check out the awesome
cover and enter to win an ARC!

On to the reveal! 



Title: SCORPION
(Mayfly #2)
Author: Jeff Sweat
Pub. Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 432

Find it:  Amazon, KindleB&NiBooks,


In Scorpion, the sequel to Jeff Sweat's
YA futuristic thriller Mayfly, Jemma, Lady, and Pico all left the Holy
Wood to seek answers to the End, and when they find the Old Guys—the only
adults to have survived the original wipeout of everyone over the age of
seventeen—they think they've found help at last.


But there's a lot the Old Guys aren't telling
them. In fact, some of them don't seem interested in solving the End at all and
just want Jemma and her friends to leave. Meanwhile, war is brewing among the
tribes of the rest of the Children. Jemma's old home has fallen into disorder,
and is far from prepared for battle. It won't be long before the fighting
reaches Jemma and the Old Guys, if they even live to see it.

Haven’t started the series yet? Grab book 1, MAYFLY now!

Exclusive Content!


Prologue: The Ice Cream Man Massacre
Little Man tries to wait for the screaming to stop before he
enters the battlefield, but he can’t help himself.
The ice cream carts are tossed carelessly around the outside
of the bank that used to be Ice Cream Men’s Hydin Hole, as if giant hands had
been digging for toys. The Ice Cream Men are lying on the ground, just bodies
now. It’s a horrible, bloody mess, carried out by monsters. Little Man hasn’t
been so proud of himself since the first time he made a Giant.
One of those Giants stands next to him, breathing hard and
splattered in blood. Patrick. He used to be one of Little Man’s enemies in the
Cluster, but now he’s as loyal as he is mean. He’s also frozen in time by the
Making that will keep him from dying young, and that stimulates extra growth.
Seeing him plowing through the Ice Cream Men as if they weren’t there? That’s a
good day.
Stanford, his captain and Head of the Jocks, makes his way
through the wreckage, not looking down at the bodies at his feet. “A hundred
down on their side, Little Man,” Stanford says.
“And us?” he says. Not that he cares. He wishes he had been
able to bring the Last Lifers with him to jump in front of the Ice Cream Men’s
bullets, but the Cluster said it would be too much for this battle. They’re
still stung by the loss to the Kingdom only weeks ago. Little Man wasn’t
leading that one, but the Chosen has been coming to rescue him. The blame got
so intense that Little Man had to kill one of the captains of that attack to
shut them up.
“Six.” Little Man smiles.
The Cluster, the council that thinks it still runs the
Chosen, warned him not to do this. The Ice Cream Men were too important. They
provided too much food to the Chosen. What they really meant is they brought
all the delicacies and the pills the Cluster loves.
“How many guns?” Little Man says.
“Fifty.”
“There should be more.” Still, the Cluster will be happy. It
will give Little Man all he needs to launch the real war against the
Angelenos—and the Kingdom.
“We have some survivors inside the bank,” Stanford says.
“Start questioning them,” Little Man says. He doesn’t want
to kill them all, not yet. He wanted more weapons to make sure his war goes his
way. Everyone knows the Ice Cream Men held all their extra weapons and riches
in safe spots throughout Ell Aye, places they called Hydin Holes. It would only
take a few living victims to flush those out.
Blood coats the glass wall of the bank next to him. He steps
out gingerly among the bodies. He pushes down his revulsion. He doesn’t mind
this. He knows he’s looking at the beginnings of the Battle of Ell Aye.
The boys and girls lying on the ground are mostly dead. When
they’re not, he motions to Patrick, who casually stabs them with his lance.
He steps over a body—and sees the body stir. He looks down,
calling for Patrick. The boy beneath him rolls over, and Pico starts. He’s
never seen this boy before—but he has. This is the Ice Cream Man he saw in a
vision in the Haze, the one who traded with Jemma and Pico and Lady.
And he really wants to know where Jemma and Pico and Lady
are.
“Let’s keep this one breathing for now,” he says to Patrick.
Little Man squats next to the boy and drips water down his
throat. Gently. “It’s okay,” he says. “It’s all gonna be okay.”
“Doubt it,” the Ice Cream Man says. He’s right. Looks like
he’s been shot in the gut and the leg.
“How you feeling?” Little Man says. “Bet you’re a little
sore, huh?”
“You some kind of nurse?”
“Yeah. I’m a nurse,” Little Man says. Warm.
The Ice Cream Man blinks. He tries to focus on Little Man,
but his attention falls to Little Man’s arm, to the tattooed bars on the inside
of his wrist. He’s thinking what they all think: Three kills, on a kid who is
this small and this young?
The boy’s voice comes out as a croak. “You Little Man,” he
says.
Tommy is surprised, really surprised. “Normally people don’t
figure that out,” he says. “I’m easy to look past.” He’s usually just little
Tommy, small and nine and blond. Smart but harmless.
“I don’t look . . .” The Ice Cream Man stops, and forgets
what he was going to say. Maybe it’s the blood seeping out of his thigh.
Someone has tied it off in a tourniquet. “You come for our guns,” the Ice Cream
Man says.
Little Man nods. “Little Man meets the Ice Cream Man,” he
says. “You’re smart. I like you.”
“You a tiny little weird little dick,” the boy says.
“Well, now I like you less,” Little Man says.
How much time does he have before the Ice Cream Man bleeds
out? Five minutes? He has to get him talking.
“We got friends in common,” Little Man says. “The kids from
the Holy Wood.”
The Ice Cream Man seems to remember them. “Jemma . . . ?”
“I want to know where they went,” Little Man says.
“You gon kill em?”
Little Man shrugs. “I mean . . . maybe? But they know
something I wanna know. So I would probably want to talk to them first. Like .
. . this.” And he pushes his thumb into the Ice Cream Man’s stomach.
The kid can’t even scream, it hurts that much. The kid just
gasps until Little Man stops pushing. Little Man says, “They know things about
the End, I think, things that I should have known first. And Jemma can see
things.” He hates that she can see things. It was supposed to just be Little
Man.
“I ain’t gonna tell—”
Little Man moves his thumb back to his stomach. “I can make
your End as painful as you like.”
“She’s gon find the Old Guys,” the Ice Cream Man says,
seeming to want to pull the words back in. Everyone betrays their friends,
Little Man thinks.
“The Old Guys?” Little Man tries to be gentle again, but it
doesn’t come as naturally this time. He wants to know too much.
“She gon find all the answers there,” the Ice Cream Man
says. “They was there fore the End. They knows the way back. Don’t you knows
the stories?”
“I didn’t,” Tommy says, and an angry flush creeps up over
the pink skin. “Where do they live?”
“Fine. Don hurt me none. Stories say they lives in the Dead
Lands,” the Ice Cream Man says. “That’s a good place for you.”
“Let’s talk more about that,” Little Man says. “Let me get
you more water.” Trying to keep him alive just a few minutes longer.
When he turns back, something looks different. The boy has
shifted. Trying to get away that close to dead? Tommy’s impressed despite
himself.
Little Man crouches down. “Here’s your water,” he says.
“You believe in Man Jesus?” the Ice Cream Man says.
Little Man scowls. “I only believe in me,” he says. Then he
notices the egg.
All of the Ice Cream Men carry them, Long Gone bombs to
protect their carts from thieves, just like him. Tommy thought his soldiers had
collected all of them, but there’s an egg in the Ice Cream Man’s trembling
hand, fingers twitching under a pulled-out pin, just barely holding down the
lever that will release and kill them all.
The Ice Cream Man gathers himself up and throws the egg as
far as he can. Not much of a throw. Not much. But it drops at the feet of the
clump of Chosen ten feet away.
“Shit,” Little Man says. He sees the blur of a huge body in
front of him, feels a hand punch him in the chest, feels himself flying
backward through the air.
Three, two— He doesn’t hear the blast, just sees the white
swallowing them all. He has the most ridiculous thought: Hello, Man Jesus.

Chapter One
The Mayflies
Jemma has never rested this long in her life. No one has.
She’s been awake two days, and most of it has been spent in bed. In the world
before the Camp, no one stopped working unless they were dying.
She hates it. Lady left of boredom hours ago, her bullet
energy finally too much for the hospital room, and Jemma has no one to talk to.
That’s enough to make Jemma decide to explore the Camp. Good thing she can
finally move without puking. She rises to her feet, glad they let her change
out of her gown yesterday. Her hospital gown. Less than a week with the Old
Guys, and she’s already learning words that are Long Gone.
The lights flicker in the hospital room. She notices they’ve
been flickering awhile, as if they’re tired. She supposes they are. All the
machines should have been Long Gone a long time ago.
Jemma leaves the room into a blank hallway and turns right,
then another right into a dead end. A metal door with a window, cut by diamond
wire. She steps to the glass and sees boxes like Teevees. Some are dark, like
she’s used to seeing, but others glow.
It’s not magic, she tells herself. But it feels like it. She
jiggles the handle. It’s locked.
“Stay out of the computer room,” a voice behind her says.
It’s Gil. He’s the nurse here, but doesn’t seem much interested in his only
patient.
Puters, she mouths to herself, tucking it in with the other
new names she’s learning.
“You’re not cleared for walking,” he says. “You’re supposed
to have another day of medical observation.”
“Lucky for me,” she says, “I don’t know what none of that
means.” And brushes by him and into the sun. She hasn’t memorized the outside
yet; she’s spent so little time there. The Camp consists of four concrete
bunkers around a courtyard, each half-buried into the ground in a giant,
shallow bowl. To the north are mountains. To the west, hidden from her view, is
the ocean.
In the middle of the courtyard are three of her favorite
shapes in the world: Pico, the tiny former Exile who unlocked the secret of the
End; Grease, a gawky mechanical genius with homemade glasses; Lady, short and
curvy with cropped hair. Lady, her best friend. They left their home in the
Holy Wood Hills, and fought through Biters and Last Lifers and the poison of
the Dead Lands to find the place where the End never happened.
They’re safe here, safe as it’s possible to be. To the north
are the Dead Lands, poisoned when the Lectric plant—the nuclear—broke. It’s
impassable to all but the desperate, like they were, or to the Old Guys, who
cannot die. She found bodies in the dust there, blistered and burned. To the
south is San Diego, Long Gone and empty. Their enemies might still be out
there, but they won’t find Jemma at the Camp.
The Camp is a former military base, and the home of the only
scientists in the world. More important than that: the only people in the world
older than seventeen.
“You’re walking,” Pico says.
“Had a concussion, not a broken leg,” Jemma says. “Show me
all this stuff you guys been talkin bout.” While she was unconscious and then
shut up in the bed, they explored the Camp and met most of the Old Guys. They
keep on telling her stories that don’t make sense, like giant cows wandering
through fields of Long Gone war machines. She has to see it herself.
Most of the activity in the Camp takes place inside the
courtyard, based on the deep trails crisscrossing the grass. But the base seems
to stretch on for miles and miles beyond their outpost high up the hill. Far
below she sees an old runway for skyplanes, and to the south she sees a
Children’s playground and crumbling office buildings. Immediately below the
bunkers are three fenced-off large ponds, which must be the drinking supply.
“Up there,” Lady says, tapping Jemma’s shoulders. Jemma
follows the direction of Lady’s arm pointing up the hill, where she sees a hundred
fluffy brown shapes. A herd, grazing among old war machines pointing toward the
sea.
“The cows,” Jemma says.
“Not quite,” Pico says. “Bison. The Old Guys call em
buffalo.”
“They pets?” Jemma says. She likes their comically large,
shaggy heads.
“No. There used to be millions of them in America, and they
were almost wiped out by the Parents. Now there’s thousands just in the Camp.”
“More than the Parents,” Jemma says.
Her friends lead her around the barns and greenhouses, where
the Old Guys seem to grow everything they need. Jemma sees gray heads among the
tall plants. They duck down when the Children pass.
It wasn’t the machines of the Camp that startled her; after
meeting Grease and Pico, she’s accustomed to machines and Lectrics though she
still feels as if they’re the fingerprints of gods come to earth. It was
James’s hair, gray but not buried in the ground; James rescued her in the Dead
Lands.
There are no adults in this world. The Parents were scraped
from the earth. All the greatness of the Parents, all their stupidity—all gone.
A century has passed since the End, and the Old Guys should have passed with
it. They’re the ones who began the End.
“How many Old Guys here?” Jemma says.
There are fifty Old Guys in the Camp, some scientists, some
people who were subjects of the Long Life Project and others who worked on it
in less crucial jobs.
“We ain’t seen em all,” Lady says. “But they say it’s fifty.
Not all scientists but all of em know how to fight.”
“Armed, too,” Grease says. “It’s like they forgot the world
isn’t making more weapons.”
“They don’t talk to kids much,” Pico says. “We scare em.
Mebbe they gonna talk to you.”
They will. They’ll talk about the End and the Haze that
causes it, running free in the world for a hundred years. They’ll talk to Jemma
because she’s the only person who can control it. Maybe that’ll give them hope
that it can be controlled, and the End can be stopped. That’s Jemma’s hope.
“We’re gonna get the whole story of the End,” Grease says.
“You din’t ask them already while I was laid up?” Jemma
says.
“We tried,” Pico says.
“They said they wouldn’t explain until you were ready, too,”
Grease says. The two of them look perturbed.
“Hell, I’m ready,” Jemma says. And they go to find James.
He is in a conference room surrounded by glass walls,
covered almost completely by the ink of bright-colored markers. Other Old Guys
are there, too: Gil, the nurse; Brian K, the engineer; some Muscle; and a woman
with gleaming white hair to her shoulders, white–watery blue eyes that see
everything. Jemma hasn’t noticed her before. She finds herself drawn to her.
“Jemma, I’d like you to meet the rest of the . . . Old Guys,”
James says, bemused. “I guess that’s as good a name as any.” The Old Guys are a
few colors: some with dark skin, some who look almost like the Angelenos, but
most pink like James. James goes around the room and leaves the white-haired
woman for last. When he does finally introduce her, he pronounces her name
sourly, as if there’s years of distrust between them. “And this is . . . Alice.
Our lead geneticist.”
“So you’re the girl who can speak to the Haze,” Alice says
kindly. “Very impressive.” Jemma feels flattered. Chosen.
“Yeah,” Jemma says. “We ready to learn more.”
“You and your friends are from different tribes, aren’t
you?” Alice says. “How do you refer to yourselves?”
“I . . .” She doesn’t know. She and Lady grew up in the Holy
Wood, and Pico joined them as an Exile from the Malibus, another Angeleno
tribe. When they left Ell Aye, they found the Kingdom, a tribe of Knights and
cowboys, and took Grease with them. At each turn they picked up another, like a
rock rolling through mud downhill. They’re not Holy Wood or Angeleno or
Kingdom. They’re just friends.
“We the Mayflies,” Pico says.
Jemma and the others nod. “We the Mayflies,” Lady says.
“Fitting, but a bit dark,” Alice says.
“Nah. We know we just got this one life,” Pico says. “We
gonna make the most of it.”
The one they call Brian K speaks up. “How does it feel? The
Haze?”
That one is not answered easily. How does it feel to have a
companion inside your own head? To know things she should never know? To see
things before they happen? She doesn’t answer because she knows how it would
sound: It makes you feel like you’re wearing Lectrics beneath your skin. It
makes you confused and sure at the same time. It makes you feel like a god.
To him, she says, “Complete.”
The Old Guys continue to ask questions until finally Jemma
has to shake them off. “Now our question,” she says. “How’d you End the world,
and how can we stop it?”

Chapter Two
The Old Guys
The Mayflies bombard the Old Guys with overlapping
questions, until finally, irritated, James says, “Have some patience.”
“Patience is for people who gonna live a long time,” Jemma
says, irritated herself. “You said the End was caused by the Long Life Project,
which you ran. How?”
“Shall I tell them?” Alice says.
James is gruff. “You were going to anyway.”
“Aging is a matter of decay—your cells lose the ability to
function as they used to. Cells mutate into cancer. Organs that are essential
to your body’s equilibrium fail,” Alice says. “We created a treatment where we
removed decaying cells to make the body more resilient, then manipulated the
body’s DNA so it functioned at a higher level. That was phase one of the Long
Life Project. It has a very long clinical name, but we’ve come to call it the
Reboot.”
“How does that work?” Pico says.
“Grown-ups are talking, dear,” she says.
“Thanks to you guys, we’re all grown-ups here,” he says,
unfazed. “So let’s talk like it.”
“The Reboot wasn’t enough,” James says. “The cells would
operate smoothly for a time, but they would inevitably decay. We needed a
mechanism that would keep the body in balance perpetually. The Haze.”
“I know why I call it the Haze,” Jemma says. “Why do you?”
“Because we named it,” James says. “I suspect you call it
that based upon the image it provided you.”
“Well, that’s what it looks like,” she says.
“The Haze was the second phase of the Long Life Project.
It’s made of nanobots, tiny machines that float through the air, invisible and
powerful,” Brian K says. “They were designed to live inside people, to watch
when their bodies started to fail. If aging is when the body forgets to heal
itself, the Haze would tell the brain how to fix it. Humans could repair their
bodies indefinitely.”
“Each of our test subjects were synced up with the nanotech,
so that all the Haze surrounding an individual would be matched to that
person’s brain waves, DNA, and health conditions,” James says. “The Haze became
a second immune system. That part of the Long Life Treatment was called
Pairing.”
Jemma is struggling to keep up. She’ll have to ask Grease
and Pico later. But she understands enough. “It didn’t work, though, did it?”
she says.
“It did—for everyone you’ve seen living in the Camp. We each
have a subset of nanotech that constantly adapts to heal us, which is why we’ve
managed to grow so old—and, in fact, to escape the End,” James says. “But it
was too slow, too expensive, for anyone but the very rich. So we experimented
with just using the Haze. We knew we couldn’t Pair it with every single person
on earth. So we decided to embed basic intelligence about the human body in
each nanobot so the Haze could make medical decisions about every person it
encountered. It was simple, elegant, and cost-effective.”
“And a phenomenally bad idea,” Alice says, “letting a trillion
machines run free in the world.”
“You’re the expert on good ideas,” James says. Jemma can see
old arguments darting under the surfaces of both their faces.
Brian K says, “The Haze never acted the way it was supposed
to. The bots kept slipping out, leaving the containment units. And while they
healed, they’d sort of . . . improvise. As if they couldn’t quite stay on
script.”
“The bots live to consume oxygen and sunlight, to replicate
and to communicate—and they did all that more effectively than we could have
imagined,” James says.
“So why don’t you just go back to the old Long Life
Treatment?” Grease says. “It obviously worked. It’d be slow, but—”
“We would in a minute,” Alice says. “But riots broke out
during the middle of the End, and the Long Life Machine was destroyed. It will
never be rebuilt. We’ll never be able to attempt the Pairing again.”
“Never ain’t that long for someone who’s gonna live
forever,” Lady says.
James and Brian K exchange looks. “It’s currently beyond our
abilities,” James says. “We still hold out hope.”
“So that’s it?” Jemma says, not wanting to believe it. “This
. . . power inside me Ends everyone?”
“No. I mean, yes,” Brian K says. “The Haze kills people, but
it’s like the bullets from a gun. Someone else is pulling the trigger.”
“Who?” Lady says.
“Charlie,” James and Brian K say at the same time.
“Charlie who?” Lady says.
“It’s the AI—I mean, the supercomputer we built to control
the Haze,” Brian K says.
“Puter,” Grease says, translating for the rest.
“We needed an AI that could monitor the Haze and keep it in
check,” James says. “We called it Charlie.”
“Every homicidal computer needs a cute name,” Alice says,
bitter. “Because that’s what we really created, kids. We put a barely tested AI
in charge of barely tested nanotech, and almost the moment Charlie came online,
it started killing people. It fixed them to death.”
“But machines do what you tell to them to do,” Grease says.
“They’re supposed to. Charlie was a huge supercomputer, with
thousands of smaller boxes connected together. Turns out, with a trillion
interconnected bots, the Haze is the biggest supercomputer in the world,” Brian
K says.
“When we connected Charlie to the Haze, all that power was
Charlie’s. The power made it conscious. Human, almost,” James says. “Maybe it
was afraid. Maybe it didn’t understand what it was doing. Either way, that was
the moment we lost control.”
“So you shut it off,” Grease says.
“We did. It switched itself back on. Our remote access
failed. The crew in Vegas tried to breach the containment room manually; it
sealed the doors and pumped out the oxygen. A hundred people died in the
attack. After that, nothing could control the Haze. Just Charlie.”
“But that’s not true,” Jemma says. She’s been putting the
idea together as they speak, and it almost bursts out of her. “I can. I can see
things with the Haze. I can use it in fights. Ain’t that control?”
“Well, yes,” James says. “On a small scale. But the Haze is
Paired with Charlie. That’s how it controls it. The Haze is naturally at odds
with Charlie. It wants life, and Charlie wants death. It doesn’t matter. The
Haze is forced to serve Charlie unless we can reprogram the Haze.”
“I could give it new instructions. What if it listened to
me?” Jemma says. “Don’t you see? We could stop the End! That’s why we’re here!”
“Maybe,” James says, and the words he says next seem to pain
him. “If we really thought you could control it.”
“You know I can,” Jemma says. “You asked a million questions
about it. It’s inside me.”
“No, it’s not,” Gil says, speaking up for the first time.
“We all have the Haze inside us, so we have tests to measure its activity in
the brain. Your brain showed nothing.”
Nothing. Jemma doesn’t understand.
“You certainly talk as if you’ve experienced it,” James
says, gently. “Maybe it’s real, or maybe you heard it from another kid and
thought it made a good story. So we’ve decided to get a second opinion.”
Alice calls out. “Isaac, can you come in here?”
A moment later an unfamiliar Old Guy with auburn hair walks
in. No, not an Old Guy.
A boy.
He has light skin and blue eyes, and at first Jemma thinks
that one of the Biters has followed them through the Dead Lands. But he’s
dressed like the Old Guys, and they treat him like one of their own.
“You never said you had other kids here,” Lady says.
“Isaac is a resident here,” James says. “He’s a bit of an
expert on the Haze.”
How? Even Pico and Grease, the smartest kids she’s ever met,
can barely keep up. Isaac steps closer, closer, until he’s at her side. He
leans forward, and his nose is almost at her nose. He looks into her eyes. His
are deep, somehow ageless. Like they’ve seen everything.
“No,” he says, and walks away.
“Whaddya mean, no?” she says, furious. “I can prove it to
you!”
“Yeah? How?” he says, pausing.
Jemma scrambles for ideas. She can’t predict when the
visions or voices will come, and besides, he’d just think she were making them
up. She’s not sure if she could make the Lectrics light up again like they did
in the Night Mountain. But there is one way, one that has never failed her yet.
“Isaac,” she says. “Fight me.”

About Jeff:


Jeff Sweat has made a living from words his
entire career, starting out as an award-winning tech journalist for
InformationWeek magazine and moving into marketing.


He led the content marketing team for Yahoo and
pioneered its use of social media. He directed PR for two of the top
advertising agencies in the country, Deutsch LA and 72andSunny. He now runs his
own Los Angeles–based PR and marketing agency, Mister Sweat.


He grew up in Idaho as the middle of eight
children—seven boys and one girl—and attended Columbia University in New York.
Jeff lives in a big blue house in Los Angeles with his wife Sunny and their
three kids, two cats, and a racing greyhound.


He loves to travel and writes everywhere he
goes, even when there's not a desk. He likes karaoke, motorcycles and
carpentry. He was once shot in the head with a nail gun, which was not a big of
a deal as it sounds. But it still hurt like crazy.






Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a signed ARC of SCORPION,
US Only.





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