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Modified on 2011/10/18 08:37 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands

Power, like a pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame...

   - Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab (1813)

   The companions have fled the ville of Rockpoint and are riding through the night. They stop at dawn to rest and water their horses, whereupon they find that the water they'd taken with them is poisoned - it kills one of the horses that drinks it.
   They ride on, detouring around a rad crater. Some time later, Doc spies some cactus ahead. They stop to harvest the plants for water, but a man appears from the sands and hurls a spear, narrowly missing Mildred and hitting one of the cacti, which is a creature called a feeder. The companions kill it with a concentration of firepower.
   After they've dealt with the creature, the man introduces himself as Alar, a member of the Core. Others appear from the sands, surrounding the companions; Dean returns Alar's spear to him, so he declares them friends until the next moon - they have safe passage. Alar offers them jinkaja, a special drink made from millipede juice, but they decline. Another of the Core, Kalr, says they must drink or be killed. Alar says the law supports him (and he's the leader), so Kalr challenges him to a fight. The Core are apparently telepaths of some sort; they create a massive amount of mindwaves that render the companions unconscious.
   Meanwhile, Alexander Hawk, the former sec chief of Rockpoint who was shot by his baron, makes his way through the ville, carrying a duffel bag containing a 25-mm cannon. He meets up with a dozen of his men near the front gate; they have supplies and a tripod for the gun. When they're ready, they leave the ville to find Baron Gaza and kill him.
   The companions awaken awhile later near a ruined predark city. A girl, a member of the Core, comes to them with meat from their horses - the animals were all killed in the duel. They eat and rest overnight, then head south - they intend to reach the Rio Grande and the redoubt there, as well as maybe look for Trader (Roberto). Alar and some others of the Core come to talk to them; the companions leave most of their possessions behind to make it look like they just went for a walk, but the Core find out they went south (across their holy lands) and give chase.
   Some miles south, they reach a large salt plain, the remains of a nuke strike on a predark city. They're crossing the plain when JB breaks through and falls, landing (unhurt) on the top of a skycraper six feet below. Unfortunately, the hole in the saltpan releases all the gasses holding the rest of it up, and the companions jump down to the roof as the dome collapses in a storm of salt.
   Hawk and his men are about 12 hours behind the companions when they're attacked and slaughtered by Gaza and his wives. He spots the huge cloud from the collapsing salt dome and goes to investigate.
   The companions make their way down to street level, where they spot a sec hunter droid walking down the street (it doesn't see them, however). They head for the nearest supermarket to stock up on supplies, then are attacked by the droid.
   Gaza reaches the edge of the salt crater and runs into the Core warriors trying to find a way down. The two groups are sworn enemies, so he opens up on them, killing all but one young girl named Shala, who he takes as a wife.
   Meanwhile, Trader's convoy spots the cloud from the exploding water pump station. They come upon a stream of water from Rockpoint, then spot a group of people fleeing a horde of millipedes. They deal with the bugs, then talk to the survivors. They find out that the companions blew the pumping station and took a bunch of horses, and that Gaza is still alive, so they go after him.
   The companions lure the droid into a liquor store, coat it with alcohol, and light it on fire, then escape out the back. They find a sporting-goods store, where they stock up on ammo and supplies, then run into another droid, but they evade it and duck into a museum, where they spend the night. They head out the next day, looking for a way out of the crater, and are attacked by a band of stickies.
   Gaza has no way down into the crater, so he uses the APC's winch to lower two of his wives down to scavenge. They run into a sec droid, which kills one of them then climbs up the cable. The armament of the APC is enough to destroy it, however.
   The companions spot the damaged sec droid (the first one they encountered) running down the street, but it ignores them. They eventually find a way out of the city to the desert above. They spot an APC (Gaza's) and head toward it - if it's Gaza, they'll kill him and take it; if it's Trader, they'll ask for a ride out.
   Trader arrives on the scene and sends some of her men out on motorcycles to check things out. They run into Gaza's APC; Gaza kills most of them, until Shala yanks a bunch of wires and renders the APC unable to move. One of the wives shoots her for her perfidy. One of the other wives tells him that they can get replacement parts down below, so everyone goes.
   The companions, meanwhile, find the APC with only one woman standing guard. They kill her and get inside, only to find that the APC won't run. About this time, a chem storm hits the area, and the acid rain leaks into the APC, slowly filling it. They're forced to evacuate, but Ryan snatches up a radio from one of the motorcycles; he uses it to call War Wag One and get Trader to let them in in exchange for Gaza's location.
   Gaza and his wives, caught outside by the rain, head for the shelter of a military tank in the city below. They get inside, and Gaza accidentally activates a voice command. The tank powers up, then Gaza finds Trader's convoy and opens fire on it. Trader, with the companions' help, destroys the tank, but is killed in the process. Fat Pete, her second-in-command, takes over the convoy, but he lets the companions have the bikes. They part ways amicably.

DEATHLANDS, OUTLANDERS, EARTH BLOOD, and JAMES AXLER are all the property of Gold Eagle / Worldwide Library, and are used here strictly under Fair Use guidelines.
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