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Devil Riders

Modified on 2011/10/18 09:56 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands

   The sun and the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.

   Havelock Ellis
   The Dance of Life (1923)

   As the book opens, a group of people are fleeing the Blue Devils, a band of motorcycle-riding bandits. When they've captured or killed everyone, one of the prisoners (an older man named Denver Joe) stands up to them and says he can kill any one of them barehanded. The leader, Cranston, picks one of his men to fight Joe. Joe wins, killing him in spectacular fashion, and thus earns the dead man's bike and equipment and a place in the Riders. Little do they know that he's actually an undercover agent serving someone called the Trader.
   Next, we go to the companions, who awaken in a new gateway. As they're clearing the lower levels, they hear odd noises. In the stairwell leading up, they hear a loud screech. On the top level, the garage, they find a sec hunter droid standing guard before a crack in the wall. When the companions fire on it, it turns to come after them.
   After dealing with the droid, they determine that the crack probably leads outside - it's letting in hot air - so they crawl into it... and run into a horde of giant millipedes, which the droid was holding off. They flee back to the gateway, but the millipedes break into the control room and start destroying the computers, rendering the gate inoperative. The main power goes shortly after, plunging them into darkness.
   They flee up to the garage once more, collecting as much explosive as they can along the way, and mine all the vehicles, then climb into the largest APC they can find. When the other vehicles go up, the shockwave bowls the APC over, knocking everyone inside unconscious.
   The Devils ride on to their base camp and spend the night. The next day, they ride on to Hellsgate with the intent of delivering their new slaves to the cannies there. They're ambushed, however, and slaughtered by the Trader and his men. Denver and the rest of the prisoners are rescued, and the Trader's men salvage the Devils' jackets and bikes.
   Meanwhile, the companions' plan worked - they wiped out almost all the millipedes in the garage, and the flame-retardant used in the fire-suppression system serves to drive off the rest. They block the crack with debris, then find a vehicle in relatively good shape and scavenge parts to get it running. Once they're outside, they find they're in a vast salt flat. It's dark and there are no stars visible, so they decide to just head west and see where they end up.
   The Trader ambushed and killed the Riders for a reason - to gain entrance to Hellsgate and its vast reserves of fuel. He thinks the place is too heavily fortied for a frontal assault, even with the weaponry he and his people have, so they try subterfuge (disguising some of the men as Blue Devils). Unfortunately, a doomie in the ville warns them and they open fire on the riders. Trader's people end up making that frontal assault, but they win because of the laser cannon on top of War Wag One.
   The companions spend the night out in the open, then head on. The next day, they're attacked by more millipedes, which have hitched a ride on the vehicle's underside. They burn the bugs off, but end up overtaxing the engine in the process and break some of the old belts. After effecting some repairs, they coax the truck along until they reach Rockpoint ville.
   After making a deal with the ville's sec chief, Ethan Hawk, they're allowed inside and let to the local motel. The clerk, a man named Sparrow, tries to rip them off, but the companions overpower him and his brother. Sparrow mentions that he's never seen anyone that fast since Kate; when they ask who Kate is, he calls her Trader's sec chief.
   While the companions are getting settled in, Hawk reports to Baron Gaza. He thinks they're spies for the Trader, so Gaza orders them all killed in their sleep.
   The companions head to the local tavern for lunch, leaving Dean and Doc guarding their truck. They ask around about Trader and get a general location; when the return to the barn, Doc is gone. They find his sword near the outhouse, though; it has blood on it. They use the innkeeper's dog to track the scent. They follow it down to the temple, which has the only working well in the ville. They kill the sec men there and rescue Doc, then barricade the doors.
   Word immediately gets back to Gaza, and he organizes his men to find and kill the companions. Doc mentions that one of the men took his LeMat and hid it in an iron maiden, so the others look for it. Ryan finds that one of the maidens is false - it conceals a hidden passage leading to an armory. Inside, they find an old operating manual for the Rockpoint Water Pumping Station. Everyone arms themselves, then Ryan opens the water feeder valve all the way, JB plants some explosives on the pipe, and they head for the roof. They blow up a nearby vehicle, and the explosion serves as enough of a diversion that they can climb down and run for the corral, where they grab a bunch of horse and flee the ville.
   The sec men finally break into the pumping station, setting off the bomb planted to the pipe. This creates an unstoppable geyser of water; the townsfolk (and sec men) realize that Gaza has been lying to them all along, so they leave off their pursuit of the companions and decide to string him up instead.
   Gaza, meanwhile, rounds up his wives and heads for an APC he has hidden for a quick getaway. He flees the ville ahead of the angry mob.

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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