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Gemini Rising

Modified on 2011/10/18 10:19 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands

   There is not one people in the history of the world to whom gaining their independence had not brought forth the torture which ancient poets and theologians reserved for the damned.

   - The Gathering Storm
   Sir Winston Churchill, 1936

   The companions arrive in Virginia Beach Naval Station and spend some time exploring the shipyards, where Ryan finds a brass telescope, before the book starts. They head up the road to a small ville to spend the night.
   They find the local tavern, and Jak starts flirting with the barmaid. One of the mercies in the room yells at her to "stop fondling that stinking mutie and come serve a real man". Which, of course, gets everyone up in arms. Jak puts his knife to the leader's throat and gets him to call off his men. As they're eating, Krysty hears them make plans to kill the companions and take their weapons; as the mercies are leaving, Ryan calls them on it. They panic and start shooting, and the companions kill them all.
   The fight is just ending when the town sec chief shows up, along with another man - a trader named Stephen. The men they killed were Stephen's guards for a trip up north to Front Royal. Since Stephen is headed that way, Ryan and the other sign on as passengers - they'll defend the convoy if necessary, but they don't get paid for it. The other passengers are Hector Johnson, his wife Sara, and their baby girl; and Clem and Bob, two hunters from the Tennessee Valley.
   They've barely gotten out of sight of the ville when they're attacked by a pack of greenies, which they dispatch with little trouble. They heard further into the highlands and find an abandoned house to spend the night.
   Cut to Casanova ville, one of the satellite villes of Front Royal. The baron is questioning a spy, supposedly from Front Royal. They don't get anything out of her, but they decide to send an assassin to kill the baron of Front Royal and mount an attack anyway, thinking that Royal is planning to take them over.
   As the companions are making dinner, Hector and Sara go to the neaby creek to wash diapers, accompanied by Clem and Bob. They're attacked by a swampie, who makes off with the baby. They eventually catch and kill it and recover the child, though she falls into the river; Mildred performs CPR and saves the baby's life, and Sara names the child after her in gratitude.
   The next day, they run into a massive ambush - a large flat stretch lined with trees on one side and a hill on the other. The bandits there roll boulders down the slope into vehicles, then kill anyone they find. Ryan's plan is to run directly into the ambush - by running uphill. They dodge the rocks and crest the hill, then start killing bandits. A second wave, led by a huge scarfaced man, comes out of the trees, but the companions kill most of them and drive the others off. Ryan finds a lone prisoner, who turns out to be a man who used to work for Nathan Cawdor - a man named Daffer. Bob is killed in the fight, but everyone else makes it out okay. They put Daffer in a truck and bring him along to Front Royal.
   When they get close to Front Royal, Ryan and the others get off the convoy, because they're all known faces. Ryan sends Mildred ahead with Clem to keep an eye on Stephen; their job is to scout things out and see what's going on in town. They wander around, seeing the sights, and stumble upon an execution. Nathan has set up one of his sec men in front of a firing squad for dereliction of duty. He's about to give the order to fire when Overton Cawdor strides up. After a short argument with Nathan, he shoots the man himself - he says using eight bullets is a waste when one will do. Mildred returns to the camp on her own to report.
   Later, Nathan and Overton are discussing matters with the other local barons in the war room. They're talking about a mutual-defense treaty, but Nathan shoots it down - it would take too long for each ville to reinforce another due to travel time. They're interrupted by cheering and gunfire - Ryan and his friends have arrived. Overton meets them at the gate and immediately punches Ryan, intending to get Ryan to try to kill him. JB manages to convince Ryan not to gut Overton with his panga; Ryan instead embraces his "son", to the approval of everyone watching and to Overton's dismay (the plan was for a sniper to kill Ryan during the fight), and they're borne into the ville in the midst of a cheering mob.
   Cut to BullRun ville, where a massive battle has just taken place. An army of Orientals (possibly Japanese, though we never find out for sure) in ninja clothing has attacked the ville; they were defeated only with a good deal of luck. They hear that Front Royal has dozens of new sec men, blasters, and equipment - it's obvious (to them) that Front Royal was behind the attack, so they send an assassin to kill "the baron of Front Royal".
   At the celebratory feast that night, Nathan signals to Ryan that all is not well - he calls Ryan "Uncle" repeatedly, which Ryan specifically told him not to do when they first met. Later on, Ryan manages to find some time alone, and Nathan fills him in on what's been going on: there have been increased mutie attacks all summer. They got word of a ville that had been wiped out, and they went to see; they found no one living, but were attacked by hordes of muties. They won, but most of the sec force was killed. Overton showed up the next day, posing as a mercenary with his own army. Now he and Nathan are in a detente - Overton controls the walls and gates, and Nathan controls the armory and the dogs. Overton also has Nathan's pregnant wife, Tabitha, as a hostage, so Nathan can do nothing (everyone else believes she was killed in a mutie raid).
   Ryan goes to the rooms assigned to him and his friends, and they make a plan to start the liberation of Front Royal. Clem (who has stayed with them thus far) decides to keep on - he wants to try out the new Enfield rifle he got.
   Their first stop is the barracks. They bluff their way in posing as two of Overton's men with Ryan as a prisoner; once inside, they kill everyone they find on their way to the dungeon below, where many men loyal to Nathan are being held, along with Tabitha. They liberate all the men and load them and Tabitha into a truck. Clem and Mildred take Tabitha to Daffer's hut, then Clem drives the rest of the men somewhere else. Mildred remains with Tabitha in case she goes into labor.
   About an hour later, a bunch of Overton's men come on a house-to-house search for Tabitha. Mildred and Daffer hide Tabitha under the bed and pretend to be caught in the middle of sex to throw off their suspicion, and the men go away. Tabitha, however, goes into labor from the stress.
   Meanwhile, Ryan and the others are fighting their way toward the keep, looking for Nathan and Overton, but all they find is lots of Overton's men. Krysty motions them on ahead while the watches the rear, but she's spotted and forced to flee. She ducks into a garage and finds two LAV-25 APCs. Cornered, she manages to kill several sec men, but they knock her out. She wakes up to find herself tied to the side of a LAV, about to be gang-raped before she's handed over to Overton. One of the men, though, is Nathan's spy, a man named Orin - he shoots all the other men and frees Krysty. They climb into the LAV and start to power it up, only to realize that it's booby-trapped - Krysty's weight on the driver's seat has armed it. Orin binds the seat down long enough for Krysty to get up, and they get out just before the LAV blows up, setting off some nerve gas grenades stored in a motorcycle saddlebag (which, luckily, is lighter than air).
   Ryan and the others fight through the keep and are driven to the parapets, where they dive into the moat and escape. Once Ryan and the others have gotten into the forest, Ryan calls a halt. Nathan has left satchels of his dirty clothing for them, and Ryan has everyone put it on. They barely get dressed before a band of Overton's men on horses gallop by, chased by the hounds. The dogs pull down all the men and kill them, then go sniff around the companions. The clothes are Nathan's, though, and have his scent - as long as the companions move slowly and make no threatening moves, they're all right. They make their way back to the keep, entering through the dogs' entrance, and meet up with Nathan and his men.
   They tell Nathan that Tabitha is safe, so he takes his men and storms the barracks for more weapons, while Doc goes to secure the gate. He kills the men there, along with Overton's right-hand man, and takes control. In the barracks, JB finds a flare gun, which he uses to fire flares into the war room - the room where all the dynamite and other explosives are being stored. One of the flares lights a dynamite fuse, and it blows up the entire top of the tower. They make their way to the main hall to find Overton, and they finally find Krysty.
   Meanwhile, Overton and a group of his men gather in the keep and blast their way out. Overton escapes on a horse, riding toward a secondary camp some miles away. Ryan gives chase on a motorcycle, eventually finding the camp. He sneaks in and climbs into one of the LAVs parked there, using the 25-mm cannon to kill most of the men and the other LAV, before Overton pulls out a LAW (light anti-tank weapon) and destroys the LAV with a rocket. Ryan is pinned down, running low on ammo, when a truck crashes into the camp behind him - it's his friends, along with Nathan, a bunch of sec men, and the remainder of the hounds.
   Just when things are starting to swing their way, though, the men from Casanova ville show up, shooting at everyone. Ryan and Nathan know that Overton's got some kind of booby trap set exactly under the position where the Casanova men are, so they make a temporary alliance with him - they'll let Overton go if he agrees to help set off the fuses. Ryan and Overton jump down into a small pit holding the fuses and set it off, then Overton attacks Ryan. One of Overton's own men ends up shooting him - he says Overton broke his word (which he did).
   The rounds only mortally wound him, though - he's wearing a bulletproof vest. Mildred goes down to watch him while he dies, while the rest of the folks clear the camp. On Overton's urging to kill him, Mildred gives him some quill jolt, enough to kill several men. She finds a number tattooed on his arm (352, the code to open redoubt main doors) and calls Ryan down to show him; Ryan demands to know where Overton saw a redoubt, and he speaks a single word before dying: Shiloh.
   As the book ends, BullRun's hired killer, posing as a healer named Daniel Lissman, enters the ville looking for the baron.

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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