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Homeward Bound

Modified on 2011/11/22 15:37 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Creatures
      The earth is all the home I have.
   - W. E. Aytoun

   The story begins with the companions just outside a redoubt in upstate New York. They endured a double jump not long before - the first jump after leaving Wizard Island took them to someplace with low gravity and very little oxygen; Ryan barely had enough energy to reactivate the mat-trans before passing out.
   After taking a look around, they head back inside to spend the night, then stock up on supplies and head out. After hearing about Ryan's brother and the state of events in Front Royal, the others are eager to go down and help set things right, but Ryan doesn't want to. The group heads south, following the Mohawk River, with no real destination in mind.
   Near nightfall, they come across a dirt-poor mutie village with a raft tied up on the riverbank. They wait till full dark, then cut the raft loose and ride it downriver.
   The next morning, they spot a crude rope bridge across the river. A bunch of robed muties gather on it to throw rocks down on them, and JB throws an implosion grenade at the bridge, destroying it and killing most of the muties.
   They make it the rest of the day without incident and make camp on the riverbank, but they're attacked by stickies in the wee hours of the morning. Except for Lori, who is knocked out in the initial attack, the companions deal with the stickies easily.
   The next day passes without incident. They pull off early when they find a nice spot; Jak does some fishing while Ryan and Krysty go off on their own. Krysty convinces Ryan to tell her his story. At the end of it, he realizes that he needs to go to Front Royal and set things right.
   They head out and make it clear to Yonkers, about 50 miles north of Newyork before dark; a rainstorm rolls in, forcing them to take shelter. They find a bunch of cuddlies, which they butcher and eat.
   Some time later, they pass through the ruins of Newyork, where they're attacked by a band of scalies from the river. After dealing with those, they keep floating downriver, eventually ending up in Hudson Bay, which is largely cut off from the ocean. They're force to paddle to shore, ending up in New Jersey.
   Two days of walking later, Jak finds a small camp with five people and a wag. The companions ambush them with the intent of just taking the wag, but one of the women pops up with a gun, so they're forced to kill four of them. The final man surrenders, but kills himself as they take off with his wag and his livelihood.
   Somewhere around the middle of Pennsylvania, they come across a man and a woman near the burning remains of a bus. The pair claim they were attacked by muties and ask for a ride. Ryan is willing to give them some fresh clothes but leave them there, until the girl says they know of a trap at a toll bridge. He lets them in, and they tell the group about a band of cannies that ambush travelers at the bridge.
   As it turns out, the pair are advance scouts for the cannies - they use the ruse to get inside any vehicles, then kill the driver and open the doors to let the others in. Ryan tweaks onto it just before the girl slits his throat; they kill her and her friend, then open fire on the others outside, killing most of them.
   The wag finally runs out of gas not far from Front Royal, so they hide their rifles inside and set out on foot. They're quickly caught by a patrol from Shersville, one of the satellite villes, lead by a young man named Nathan Freeman. They take the companions back to Shersville, where several people have been strung up on the road for crimes against the baron and his wife. Doc nearly loses his composure and decides that he can't stay, so he and Lori head back to the wag.
   The next morning, Nathan takes Ryan off for a private talk. Each of them knows who the other is. They're talking when someone calls down looking for a man named Tom, who rode off in the middle of the night - he's gone to tell the baron of the companions.
   Not long after, the baron's men come for the companions; they escort them to Front Royal, while Nathan goes to find Doc and Lori. Ryan and the others meet his brother Harvey and his wife Rachel, but Harvey doesn't recognize him.
   After their meeting, the companions are escorted to individual rooms and locked in until dinnertime, when they're escorted to the main hall. Things go well enough until one of the servants recognizes Ryan and calls him by name. Harvey orders them all taken prisoner.
   Meanwhile, Nathan has found Doc and Lori, told them what's going on, and is taking them to Front Royal. Along the way, they run across Tom, whom Nathan kills. Doc is posing as a doctor, which is unfortunate, because the sergeant of the guard at the gate has a rotten tooth that needs pulling. When Doc screws up the extraction, he and Lori get tossed into the dungeon as well.
   Later that night, Harvey's son Jabez comes into Krysty's room via a secret door, intending to rape her, but she uses her Gaia power to beat him to death and tear him limb from limb. She weights the parts and tosses them through her window into the moat.
   The next day, Harvey comes up with a suitable punishment - he's going to have a hunt, with Ryan and his friends as the prey. The companions (minus Doc and Lori, who no one suspects are part of the group) are taken to an island nearby with only one way off and given a one-hour head start, then Harvey, his men, and his hounds come after them. Ryan spent a lot of his childhood on the island, so he knows it intimately; he also knows that there's a large building used to store the ville's gasoline. They head there and set up a trap, blowing up the building and killing all the sec men and dogs. Harvey survives only because he was far enough away and hiding behind a low ridge; he gallops back to the ville with Ryan and the others in hot pursuit.
   Ryan chases Harvey through the main keep, eventually catching him in the lower levels, above a pit used to store the boars Harvey breeds. Ryan throws a knife at his brother, catching him in the throat, and Harvey falls into the pit and is eaten alive by the boars. Rachel sneaks up behind Ryan and is about to kill him when Doc appears and blows her head off with his LeMat.
   With Harvey, Rachel, and Jabez dead, the rightful rule of the ville falls to Ryan, who doesn't want it. He abdicates in favor of Nathan. After a few days of rest, the companions resupply, get the wag fixed up, and head back north to the redoubt.

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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