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Doom Helix

Modified on 2011/10/18 10:06 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands


   But I can tell you what your folly and injustice will compel us to do. They will compel us to be free from your domination, and more self-reliant than we have been.

   - John H. Reagan
   1881-1905



   This book picks up not long after Breakthrough - Dr. Huth and the other Shadow Worlders, after being forced to leave Deathlands, jumped to another Earth, where they eradicated the bacterial infection. Unfortunately, this Earth was long dead, so they jumped again, and again, until they found a place worth exploiting.
   A few weeks later, they find that something else, something that lives in the void between worlds, has followed them and is killing off every life form higher than a microbe. It wipes out all life on the planet, and they barely get away before they're all killed as well (though some of the Shadow Worlders do fall victim to it).
   Meanwhile, the companions are trekking through the badlands of southern Idaho when they hear something screaming. They head down to an old collapsed lava dome to see a pack of mutie coyotes. Ryan shoots two and the rest flee, so he and his friends go down to cut them up for meat. There, they find the remains of a human - torn apart by the coyotes. They're examining the remains when the pack returns to ambush them. They kill most of the coyotes, driving the rest off.
   Meanwhile, the companions are trekking through the badlands of southern Idaho when they hear something screaming. They head down to an old collapsed lava dome to see a pack of mutie coyotes. Ryan shoots two and the rest flee, so he and his friends go down to cut them up for meat. There, they find the remains of a human - torn apart by the coyotes. They're examining the remains when the pack returns to ambush them. They kill most of the coyotes, driving the rest off.
   As they're reloading and putting down the wounded, someone calls out from a crevice nearby. Ryan tells him to come out, and they see that it's Big Mike, former slavetaker for the Shadow Worlders. He tells them that the invaders are back, and they've decided to round up their own slaves. Mike himself ended up getting manacled; he got free, but at the cost of his left hand. He and four others fled into Idaho, where they ran into a toll bridge controlled by a baron calling himself Burning Man (aka Connors, the geologist from the first expedition). He and one other made it across the bridge and into the badlands.
   The companions cut up the coyotes and pack the meat onto Mike's shoulders, then make him carry it while they search for a cave to spend the night. They eat dinner, then step outside (away from Mike's hearing) to discuss what to do. Mike's report is troubling - they know what the Shadow Worlders are capable of, but the fact that the invaders have returned in only limited numbers means the companions might be able to deal with them. The decision is unanimous: they have to return to Slake City and destroy the invaders.
   Back at Slake City, Auriel Otis Trask and her whitecoats are watching a stickie that is infected by the parasitic life form that's been chasing them across worlds. Huth tells her that he hasn't yet found a way to deal with the specters, as they're called, so he incinerates the dead stickie and the specters after they burst forth from the body.
   That night, Jak and JB are on watch when a group of natives sneaks up and captures them all. The companions and Big Mike are tied together and force-marched to the south, where they enter a ville near the Snake River. They're taken to the toll bridge, where Burning Man recognizes Ryan as Shadow Man, and Ryan realizes that he's Captain Connors - the previous Shadow World expedition's geologist, who deserted. He orders the group released and fed, while Big Mike is taken to another hut to be interrogated - it turns out he had lied to the companions, and that Connors had let him go to "spend some quality time" in the badlands before being recaptured. His men thought the companions were with Mike, so they were brought along. Once Connors hears that the Shadow Worlders are back again, he immediately mounts up a force to attack Slake City, which is due to leave in the morning.
   At the mine, Auriel Trask is forced to put down a minor altercation between slaves - a group of thugs stealing food from a weaker slave. She kills the leader, then finds that her second in command, Mero, has collapsed - she's infected with specters. She's taken to a holding cell deep in the mines, where Huth convinces Auriel to let the specters come to term, instead of incinerating her before they come out - he says he can gain invaluable data from it. She reluctantly agrees.
   A few days later, the attack force reaches the edge of the glass lake. They wait for dark, then head out onto the glass on foot, making their way to the new camp, which is near the mine. Jak joins the Indian scouts as they go ahead of the group to find a clear path. They find a guard tower and take out the guards, then wait for the rest of the group to catch up.
   Meanwhile, Auriel goes below to watch Mero die as the specters burst forth. She finds out not long after that she, too, is infested.
   The group reaches the camp around midnight; Connors lays out the plan of attack, then they split up to execute it. A few groups throw pipe bombs at the lone gyroplane, destroying it, then the main force attacks on foot, driving the invaders into the mine and destroying the generator that keeps the lights and EM shields going. Ryan, running ahead of the group, is inside the mine when Connor tosses a backpack full of pipe bombs into the entrance, collapsing it.
   The backup generator comes online, but not before the specters in the holding cell get free, and the stickies in the mine come pouring in. The specters gleefully attack the stickies, which flee upward into the mine. Ryan and the remaining slaves, heading down, encounter them, but the stickies are more interested in running than fighting. The specters coming after them, however, slaughter several slaves before the others run. Ryan and a woman named Ti make it to the holding cells, where Auriel (still in her suit) is holed up. She lets them in, telling them it's the only safe place to be. She reveals that she's actually Ryan's daughter, and that she's infested, then asks Ryan to kill her before the specters burst out of her. He can't do it, so Ti shoots her.
   On the surface, Connors goes to blow up the gate generator while the rest of the group searches for laser rifles to melt the glass blocking the mine entrance. He accidentally enables the force field around the generator; unable to leave, he's blown up along with it.
   In the depths of the mine, Huth is relieved to find that the specters vanish when the gate is closed - they're part of the same macroorganism, and closing the gate prevents it from reaching through. He takes his helmet off, only to be attacked and dragged off by a horde of stickies.

  
Copyright
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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