Machie Ibeke is on the verge of becoming a pilot of her own Hawk in the West African Union Military when the final flight before her promotion is interrupted by a horrifying terrorist attack.
The surviving aircrew is grounded and ordered to maintain their silence about the possible emergence of an old enemy so ruthless its sole purpose is to wipe out humanity. In the past, the fanatical Gaia Cult has used the potent Inferi Plague Virus as a terrorist weapon. The zombie virus kills, brings the dead back to life, and instills in the resurrected Scourge the overwhelming need to bite and spread the contagion.
Living with the knowledge that the world is in danger is difficult, made more complicated by the arrival of visiting family, a rogue A.I. hiding in her apartment building, and questionable activity in the Bamako Megacity.
If Machie’s suspicions are correct and the dangerous Gaia Cult has returned, then an apocalyptic outbreak is imminent, and it will be up to her to save her loved ones and find a safe haven in a dead world.
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About the Book
Escape to the Last Bastion
by Rhiannon Frater
The Last Bastion
June 18, 2019
The air was thick with fear and the reek of blood. Each step Machie took rang out like a gunshot, her boots’ heavy weights slowing her down. Or perhaps it was dread washing over her like a tsunami. Furious growls, pained screams, and the heavy thud of bodies falling beneath the onslaught of the Inferi Scourge were accompanied by the wild staccato beat of Machie’s heart.
Adeleke’s cries only heightened Machie’s fright as they fled the bloody scene unfolding in front of the elevator. Machie elbowed people out of her way, nearly tripped over a porter rushing to attack the scrags, and barely caught herself with one hand against the wall.
“Run!” she screamed at the people surrounding her.
Faces slack with shock, some of them didn’t even acknowledge her and stayed frozen where they stood. Others sputtered into action to run alongside the three soldiers and little girl.
Bako gruffly pushed Machie forward. “Move faster! The scrags are busy infecting everyone behind us, but that will only slow them down for so long!”
The infection would spread fast. Scrags bit their victims and immediately moved onto the next one. Each second that ticked by stole away what little time they had to escape.
Pale blue walls and highly-polished black cement floors stretched before them. The hall was daunting in its length, gradually curving and spanning the width of the building. Decorative planters, statues, paintings, and benches dotted the long expanse. The hallway was split in the center by a shorter corridor that opened to an observation deck on one end and a bay of service and residential elevators on the other. Those weren’t the elevators they had to reach. The one 5-T2 had secured was on the opposite side of the building.
Ahead, Aminata whipped about, lifting her weapon to aim at the scrags before cursing and continuing to run. “There’s no way to get a good shot!”
The doors to every flat yawned open due to the security override. The tenants peeked out to see the cause of the commotion. One woman screamed shrilly when she witnessed the scrags attacking those near the lift and fell back against the edge of the door, overcome with fear.
“They’re here! They’re here! They’ve come back!” she screamed, disappearing back inside her flat.
Adeleke’s sweaty little hand slipped from Machie’s grip, so she grabbed the girl’s wrist, her fingers tightening to the point where her niece cried out. Ignoring the child’s discomfort, Machie ran, half-dragging her along beside her. Adeleke’s short legs strenuously pumped to keep the pace, her small face pinched with fright.
The screech of the Inferi reverberated in the air, sending prickling chills down Machie’s back. The smell of blood mingled with the scent of food wafting from the open doorways. She’d lost track of time. It was lunchtime, when families returned from work and school to gather for the midday meal. The fragrance of food was a reminder that the day had been like any other until the elevator doors had opened and unleashed the Inferi Scourge.
Braving a glance over her shoulder, Machie witnessed the scrags and humans doing a dance of death in front of the lift doors while porters attempted to stop the undead from following those fleeing. A terrified woman slipped past the porters, gasping, crying, and shaking with fear. Clutching her shoulder, she stumbled along after those trying to escape.
Machie hesitated, lifting her weapon to give the woman cover.
Blood seeped from beneath the woman’s fingers and Machie knew what would happen next. After a few steps, the woman’s body seized violently and she let out an ungodly screech. It only took seconds for the virus to transform her into a scrag. A porter leaped on her, pummeling her head with one metallic clawed foot to kill her a second time.
“Dammit!” Machie shouted, tripping.
“Watch where you’re going!” Bako barked.
Aminata sprinted at the lead of their small group, dodging the curious people wandering out of their flats. Bako took up the rear, overturning decorative planters, benches, and statues to slow pursuing scrags. Meanwhile, two porters crawled along the ceiling, escorting them toward their next destination.
“Infection rate is increasing by-”
“Stop, 5-T2! Only tell me when they’re getting close.”
A man rushed past Machie toward the elevator wielding a butcher knife. Two women, whom Machie recalled were sisters, followed, one clutching a decorative sword and the other a machete. A few more young men followed, armed with makeshift weapons.
“Aren’t you a soldier? Help us! We need to kill them!” one man shouted at her.
Machie faltered briefly in her sprint, wondering if she should turn back and fight. It was her duty after all.
Bako shoved her shoulder, pushing her forward. “Keep moving!”
“We should help!” Machie retorted.
“We can’t help them! Don’t you want to save your niece? Turn back and she dies!”
Adeleke’s heavy breathing and petrified gaze were enough to compel Machie to ignore the life and death struggle behind her. She hated that Bako was right, but she had to save her niece.
Death tainted the atmosphere and made it hard to breathe.
She caught glimpses of people attempting to desperately push their unrelenting front doors closed. Some residents were piling furniture in the entrances to their flats to barricade themselves inside. Other people ran behind Machie and her group, probably because Bako was in uniform.
The shorter hall loomed ahead. It was a danger point due to the banks of elevators. There was no doubt the scrags exiting the lift near her apartment had come from the lobby. People had probably tried to flee after the decker-bus had crashed through the wall and the Inferi Scourge breached the building. Studies of outbreaks cited elevators as major infection points. It only took one scrag or an infected person slipping into a packed elevator to turn everyone inside. How many floors were now infected as unsuspecting people summoned the lifts to their level?
“Aminata, watch out! There could be scrags coming off the lifts ahead!” Machie called out, weaving through the curious venturing out of their apartments to see what was happening.
Adeleke stumbled and Machie yanked her upright before she could fall. One more tug jerked the child over her shoulders. Adeleke squealed in protest, her knees banging against Machie’s collarbone.
“I’ve got you. Stop squirming!”
The little girl’s hands scrambled at her aunt’s jacket until Machie stabilized her. With one arm, she held Adeleke in place on her shoulders, leaving the other free to wield her weapon. Machie sprinted at full speed behind Aminata, her gaze riveted to the hallway intersection they were swiftly approaching.
A man beyond the crossway shouted, “What’s happening? What is going on over there?”
“Run! Run! It’s the Inferi Scourge!” a teenage boy yelled back. “Just run!”
Panic seized the residents farther down the hall and many began to hurry toward the closest bank of elevators, which meant rushing toward Machie’s group.
“Shit! Shit! Shit! Go the other way!” Aminata shouted at the stampede of frightened people swiftly blocking their passage.
“We have a situation. Another porter is reporting the Inferi Scourge are in the main stairwell pursuing survivors,” 5-T2 warned from its perch on the ceiling. “We will scout ahead, Machie Ibeke.”
On the ceiling, the porters accelerated their speed in order to scramble ahead.
The slap of many feet against the floor resounded throughout the hallway. It was difficult for Machie to ignore the temptation to check to see who was following, humans or scrags.
As though reading her mind, Bako said, “Don’t look behind us!”
That was enough of an answer.
Aminata aimed for a sparsely occupied section in the packed hallway and Machie followed in her tracks. The panicked, frightened faces of the people pushing their way toward the lifts would haunt Machie’s nightmares if she survived. As she skirted around a cluster of teenagers in school uniforms, Machie shouted at them to turn back, but they ignored her. It seemed as though everyone on the floor was home for the lunch break. The side hall was completely congested.
Forced to slow down so she could weave through the throng, Machie studied the unfolding situation. The people on the heels of her group were still human, but behind them the porters were losing their valiant battle to hold back the Inferi Scourge. Several scrags forced their way through the chaos and sprinted after the stragglers.
Aminata twisted around and waved Machie back. “Shit! Shit! We’re cut off! Scrags ahead! We can’t make it to the elevator 5-T obtained!”
“How?” Machie gasped, pausing in her gait.
“It doesn’t matter! They’re coming our way!”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the tour for ESCAPE TO THE LAST BASTION by Rhiannon Frater, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Rhiannon’s novel The Last Bastion of the Living to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to U.S. shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Rhiannon Frater. Giveaway ends 2/29/2020 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About the Author
RHIANNON FRATER is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor) as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living. She also co-hosted of the ZCast: a Z Nation Fan Podcast, interviewing the cast and crew of the SyFy show.
Born and raised in Texas, she currently resides with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets) in South Texas. She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.