Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Hands We're Given by O.E. Tearmann - Blog Tour with Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

The Hands We're Given - O.E. Tearmann

O.E. Tearmann has a new MM (trans) hard sci fi/cyberpunk tale out, book one in their "Aces High, Jokers Wild" series: "The Hands We're Given."

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That's fine with the Democratic State Force base he's been assigned to command: they don't like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned.

Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

Life's a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you're given.

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O.E. is giving away an eBook copy of “After Hours Game: A Wildcards Christmas: with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4754/?


The Hands We're Given meme - O.E. Tearmann

The dark shapes of three drones flitted over the junkyard, blotting out the stars. Aidan desperately turned the keys, slamming his foot on the accelerator. The truck’s engine finally revved. Kevin flung open the passenger side door and leapt inside. “Go, go, go!”

Aidan slammed it into reverse and hit the gas. They jumped backward. Once the truck was far enough away from the fence, he changed gears and wrenched the wheel around. They bumped and rattled into the night as fast as Aidan dared without the headlights on. The heat of the engine would make them easy to follow for the drones’ thermal cameras, but the short-range guard drones couldn’t go too far from their base of operation before their programming called them back. Aidan just hoped they could outrun them.

He gripped the steering wheel so hard it hurt. He could feel the suit tightening down against his skin. His heart pounded in his chest. Kevin’s breathing was ragged beside him. Another burst of bullets sprayed the ground right in front of them. Aidan yelped and yanked the wheel to avoid getting hit. The truck jittered to the side. Aidan slammed on the gas. The desert night sped past in a blur of blue and red under the starlight. Slowly, the whir of rotors faded into the distance. Aidan’s grip on the steering wheel began to relax. Kevin pulled his tab out of the bag and set it on the dashboard, watching as the screen flipped through the security channels they’d hacked into, keeping track of the location of dozens of drones.

Finally, Aidan pulled up under an overhang of red rock and cut the engine. The wide-range security drones were due to make their fly-over soon. Better to stop for a while and recover, get back on the road when it was safer.

They sat in silence for a long time, listening for rotors over the quiet buzz of the night insects. Aidan rested his arms on the steering wheel and propped his chin on his wrist, watching the star-studded sky.

“You all right?” Kevin breathed. At some point during the drive, he had deactivated his slick suit.

Aidan sighed and leaned back so he could manually flip his face screen up.”Yeah. Think so. Banged my knee pretty bad. Your shoulder?”

“Bruised. Doesn’t feel severe.” Kevin shrugged.

“Um, good,” Aidan whispered eventually.

So. They were alive. They’d gotten out with most of what they’d gone in for.

At the expense of a bad bruise across Kevin’s cheek, that or worse to his shoulder, and an action that could have caused so much more.

Slowly, some of his anger seeped back. He took a breath. “You scared the hell out of me back there and acted like a complete gamma, Kev. Don’t do that again.”

Kevin ducked his head in a slow nod. “I’m sorry, Aidan. I—When I saw you like that, I guess I panicked.”

Aidan sighed. Kevin was normally so level-headed. He’d been utterly cool on-Grid, when Aidan had been scared shitless.

So why had he acted like this out here?

On the tab screen, the red dot of a drone approached their location. They waited in breathless silence as the long-range drone passed, not even the sound of whirring to announce its presence. The red dot moved out of range.

Aidan breathed out. Kevin looked up with a smile. So close. They were so close.

“That’s the last of them. A very fine night’s work if I do say so.”

Aidan tried to smile, but it faltered. “I didn’t get the holo board. That was the part we needed most.”

Kevin smirked as he pulled the bag up from the floorboard and into his lap. He rifled quickly through the materials they had managed to grab, yanked, and pulled out the board with a wink.

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“What? How…?” Aidan breathed, feeling the wave of defeat that had been threatening lift.

“Fell down the pile when you did,” Kevin whispered, grinning. “I simply grabbed it up. After all, I am the requisitions officer. Snatching things is my forte.”

A rush of joy shot through Aidan. They’d done it. They’d gotten everything. Nose to nose with Kevin, he grinned.

“Holy shit, we- Holy shit! You… wow. Kevin, holy shit! This is like one of your vids!”

Kevin’s eyes glittered like silver in the low light. “You know, if this is a vid, I know how the scene ends.”

“Yeah?” Aidan asked, still giddy with relief.

Kevin was still smiling, his teeth white outlines in his grin. And he was leaning closer. Aidan could feel the heat of his skin, his breath.

“Heroes always get a kiss at the end of the adventure. That’s the convention.” Kevin tipped his head, eyes holding Aidan’s. “Would the hero like a kiss?”

Aidan froze. Was Kevin actually… Was he…?

He wet his lips. His voice escaped as a whisper. “Am I supposed to be a hero?”

Kevin’s smile was soft now, and he was so very close. “I don’t see anyone else in the driver’s seat. So you must be.” Then he pressed his lips against Aidan’s.

Kevin’s lips were hot. Aidan’s brain turned inside out. Kevin was kissing him.

Kevin had started kissing him.

This was real.

He leaned into the warmth with a pleasure that was almost pain. This was only going to be a second, but if only this second would last.

Softly, Kevin drew back. “Was that okay?”

Kevin’s whisper barely made it through the buzzing in Aidan’s brain. He gasped in a breath. “Um, okay. Yeah.” He swallowed hard and forced himself to sit up. "We-we should get going home…”

Kevin nodded, eyes still holding his as he drew away. “I suppose we should.”

The Wildcards are the main unit and the protagonists of the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. They’re a motley and wild crew, and today I’m sharing twenty random facts about them, from things you’ll find the first two books to some behind-the-scenes insight. Enjoy!

1.    Commander Taylor was the first commander of the Wildcards--and the last functional one before Aidan.
2.    The Wildcards are the only active base in the Democratic State Force that has children on-site. All of the others send any families and children to hidden, safe bases that don’t engage in combat or missions.
3.    The Wildcards are, on paper, a reconnaissance and research outpost with a focus on information gathering. What the Sector Commander and Base Commander did not tell the crew is that they were the real research. The Wildcards were designed as a test to see if keeping a unit cohesive over time would improve morale and efficacy. The experiment was a success.
4.    The Wildcards base is the closest unit to what used to be the Denver Metro area.
5.    The unit used to be much larger until I realized I couldn’t keep track of so many characters and cut it down to the current crew.
6.    Hacking into the personnel files is considered an entertaining pastime among the crew--much to the personnel officer’s dismay.
7.    Specialist Danvers is treated as and should technically be an officer, but she’s refused the rank four times to avoid dealing with the extra interpersonal responsibilities it carries. You don’t separate Janice Danvers and her work. Period.
8.    The Wildcards have the highest rates of success in their Sector, and close to the highest in the nation. Number of successful missions in the last two years: one hundred ninety-eight. Average number of successful missions per base in this time frame: seventy five.
9.    The medical officer, Damian, has had to restrict access to stimulants so many times he’s lost track. The Wildcards are incredibly efficient at running themselve ragged. The words ‘don’t even think about getting in here’ are written on the locked cabinet where he stores the stimulant drugs.
10.  Though he’d never admit it, Aidan had a huge crush on his former roommate Jackson, who coded his therapy AI program Omi for him.

11.  The first time Tommy Lawrence, ten year old son of the base’s cook, saw a Disney movie, he sang the songs non-stop for a full week. The rest of the base still hasn’t quite gotten them out of their heads. Everyone blames Kevin for this. Loudly.
12.  Financial officer Blake Frachette is actively nervous around the base children, because he once made a catty comment that made young Dilly cry and has regretted it ever since.
13.  To date, Kevin McIllian has been threatened with the following if he plays Bon Jovi loudly in the workspace module ever again:
*a wrench to the head
*stabbing with a spoon
He switched to Guns N’ Roses.
14.  Dozer Short, Senior Transport Specialist, views his Junior Specialist Topher Fiaz as a surrogate son, though he hasn’t actually said this to Topher. He thinks he’s more sneaky about it than he is. He’s wrong.
15.  Sarah, Yvonne, and Lazarus were dubbed The Three Stooges by their mutual good friend Kevin. They have a habit of putting random and bizarre things on the requisitions list; sometimes to pull a prank and other times just to see if Kevin notices.
16.  The Wildcards were originally a side part of a different story I was messing around with, until they became more interesting and I shifted my attention to writing their story instead.
17.  There is more than one transgender character in the Wildcards--can you guess who the other one is? (It’ll be revealed in Book 3, tentatively slated for July.)
18.  I intentionally created the Wildcards to be a very diverse group of people, partially because I believe representation is important, and partially because it’s fascinating writing how those different identities interplay and affect each other.
19.  The base has their own anthem, Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. Kevin played it once when he was seventeen and it was immediately, unanimously voted in as Their Song.
20.  Aidan’s little sister, Naomi, is the one thing missing from his new life on the Wildcards base. Unfortunately, she thinks he’s dead. He asked his friend Jackson to write him into the Democratic State Force’s list of casualties after a bombing raid that seperated the three of them, so that his issues would no longer dog her and put stumbling blocks in her career. Aidan Henderson-Adler died, and Aidan Headly showed up in the roster.
Aside from Aidan, only Sector Commander Magnum knows about the forged records and the mis-informed sister. But that may need to change soon. And when it does, Aidan is going to have more than a little explaining to do…

If you want to hear more about the gang, come hang out at @wildcards1407 on Facebook or follow me on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/O.E.-Tearmann/e/B07J62VX9W

Author Bio

O.E. Tearmann lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, in what may become the Co-Wy Grid. They share the house with a brat in fur, a husband and a great many books. Their search engine history may garner them a call from the FBI one day. When they're not living on base 1407 they advocate for a more equitable society and more sustainable agricultural practices, participate in sundry geekdom and do their best to walk their characters' talk.

Author Website: http://aceshighjokerswild.com/
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/wildcards1407/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18359444.O_E_Tearmann
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/O.E.-Tearmann/e/B07J62VX9W

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