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Eclipse at Noon

Modified on 2012/03/18 17:02 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands
   One should head eventually for the place where land becomes mainly sea and the sea becomes mainly sky.

   - from Midnight Rambler, the Collected Thoughts of Chairman Mark,
   pub. Islander Press of Key West, 1995

   The beginning of this book overlaps slightly with the end of Circle Thrice. Ryan is chasing Countess Katya Beausoleil toward the Tennessee River, thinking that she killed all his friends. He catches up to her at an old overlook and slams her into the fence; she grabs him, and they both go over into the water. She's killed by the fall, but Ryan survives and is swept away.
   Despite the rest of the companions searching for him, they can't find him (though they do find Katya's body). He washes up downriver and is pulled out of the water by a man named Paddy Maxwell.
   Meanwhile, the others run into a trio of hunters. They share a camp and some wild boar the men have shot. After the meal, Doc wanders off into the trees to do his business and runs into a trio of stickies, which the hunters have said are wandering the area. He shoots them with his LeMat, killing one and wounding another, then runs back to the camp to warn the others. They finish off the two remaining and bid their farewells to the hunters.
   Not long after, they hear screams and turn back. Another band of stickies has raided the camp and slaughtered the men, then slipped away. With nothing else to do, they head on downriver and take shelter in an abandoned music store. That night, Krysty gets a sense of Ryan somewhere out there. She concentrates on sending him a mental message; though comatose, he receives it and wakes up.
   Over a week later, Ryan has mostly recovered. He's ready to go, but Paddy (who lives alone and is terribly lonely) doesn't want him to. They reach a compromise - Ryan will take Paddy along to the next ville downriver, Twin Forks.
   The first night after leaving home, they stop at an unnamed boarding house. Paddy gets into a fight over a poker game and ends up gutted; the three men who killed him come after Ryan as well, but he kills them and flees with more men hot on his heels. He comes to a small settlement on the river, steals a boat, and floats downstream.
   The next day, he floats into Twin Forks, whereupon Doc spots him by chance and he's reunited with his friends. JB and Jak have taken jobs as bouncers at one of the riverboats to pay for their room and board while they search for Ryan; with the extra money they've accumulated (along with some more they get from mugging rich merchants), they decide to take a trip north on a riverboat.
   The first night after setting sail, Jak is on deck alone when he's joined by Gert Wolfram and Magus. They just want Ryan and JB, their old enemies, to know they're around.
   The next day, a storm blows in, leaving a thick fog behind it. The captain requests Ryan and JB's presence on the bridge, so they go. Wolfram and Magus are there, and they lay things out: their men have taken the rest of the companions hostage; they want Ryan and JB to go find some missing overseers from a nearby slave camp. If they find said overseers, everyone can go free, unharmed.
   With no choice, they accept. They're put ashore not long after and head overland toward the camp. They come across a small ville with an old art center - a building built by an artist to display some of his work. While they're checking out the exhibits, they're attacked by the villagers, who want their weapons, but they kill several people and get away.
   Not long after, they run into two groups of stickies. They jump off the path right into a minefield; Ryan steps on a mine and arms it, but JB manages to dig it up and disarm it. They toss the mine into the middle of the two groups as they converge, killing most of the stickies right off; they finish the job with some firepower.    When they get to the camp, Ryan hops aboard a truck headed into the wire while JB waits out in the trees with the rifle. Ryan gets inside, kills a guard, and sets the gasoline store alight, blowing up most of the camp. He and JB rescue the others and escape in a hot air balloon the slavers were using for scouting. Wolfram tries to climb aboard, but Ryan knocks him loose and he falls to the ground, where he's set upon by stickies and torn apart.
   Magus, meanwhile, hides out until the next day and escapes. The companions take the balloon back to the redoubt and use the gateway.

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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