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Rider, Reaper

Modified on 2012/01/05 20:10 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands
   Happiness dwells within each heart,
   Until it's stolen by a thief.
   We all know well that villain dark,
   Whose wretched name is grief.


   - from Lives of Quiet Desperation
   by Mary Lynn Britton
   Bishop's Press, 1888



   When the companions arrive in a new redoubt, they find that they're back in New Mexico, near Jak's farm. Everyone needs a break, and they want to see Jak again, so they head off toward the farm.
   A few days pass, and most of the group go deer hunting in a canyon a few hours' ride away. Michael decides to stay behind with Christina and the baby.
   They get two deer; on the way back, Krysty has a powerful sense that something's wrong. They rush back toward the farm; a few miles away, they see a group of horsemen ride in, look around, and ride away without dismounting.
   When they get to the farm, they find a scene of carnage - most of the livestock, along with Christina and the baby, are dead; Michael is nowhere to be seen. They find tire tracks from what appears to be a pair of LAVs, along with the horse riders. They lay the bodies in the bedroom, planning to bury them the next day; after dinner, Ryan finds Michael in there.
   Michael tells them what happened - he was working in the barn when the two LAVs came up; Christina didn't tell them he was around, so he hid while they did their business and left. A bunch of Navaho came by soon after, looked around, and rode off after the men.
   That night, Michael writes a farewell note, then slips out and hangs himself in the barn. After burying him, Christina, and Jenny, the companions ride off after The General and his men.
   As they're making camp, they hear sounds of a firefight further south, in the direction both parties went. When they get on the scene the next day, they find that the Navaho assaulted the soldiers' position, but were driven back with fatalities.
   The next night, they reach the town of Opium Wells, which is abandoned and largely in ruins. They find a church that's still in pretty good shape, so Ryan and JB check it out; they find a man and a woman inside (Jerry and Gemma), who aren't hostile. The pair tell them that the soldiers and Navaho passed by awhile ago, heading south. The companions make camp and share their fire, but Ryan catches them up in the middle of the night trying to steal the horses, so he kills them both.
   Dean goes out the next morning to take a leak, and he's grabbed by one of the Navaho. As he's questioning the boy, the others find them, leading to a standoff. When the Navaho find out Jak's one of the companions (he and his wife are friendly with the local tribes), they let Dean go and decide to join up with them. It turns out that all of the Navaho in the party have lost friends and loved ones, and are out for revenge.
   On the trail south, Doc (who's in the lead) is attacked by a huge, rabid, mountain lion. His horse is gutted, and the two pack animals he was leading fall over a precipice, so he's forced to ride a mule they brought along named Judas.
   They stop for the night in an old diner called Mom's Place. One of the Navaho, a tracker, disappears for awhile. When he returns, he tells them that one of the LAVs got buried to the axles in mud, and that some of the soldiers remained behind with it.
   The next morning, they ride out to the wag. It's too well-fortified to try a direct assault, so one of the Navaho lights a small fire near it while Ryan and Jak hide on top. As the soldiers come out to avoid being cooked, they get capped. The last one hides inside, however; when the Navaho goes in, thinking they'd gotten everyone, he pulls the pin on a grenade, killing them both.
   The General's lair, JC Wright Caverns, is not far away. The companions, along with the Navaho, lay in wait along the road, knowing that a crew would be heading out to dig out the wag. When they do, the companions ambush and kill them.
   Outside the caverns, Ryan leaves Dean in charge of the mounts while the rest head inside. They find a visitor's center and go in, finding a back way into the caverns. When they hear footsteps coming down the passage ahead, two of the Navaho charge into battle, getting themselves killed. Ryan and JB kill the four men, whereupon the leader of the Navaho said his friends died bravely. Ryan says they're all idiots, which touches off a firefight that leaves all the Navaho dead.
   Meanwhile, a couple of the General's men slip out from the main entrance and around the back of the caverns, where Dean and the horses are. Dean's asleep, but Judas attacks both men, inflicting horrific wounds; the noise is enough to wake Dean, who shoots them both.
   Up ahead is the motor pool, where they have the final showdown with the General and his men. The General flees into the tunnels; the companions know there are only two exits, and the main one is guarded by Jak, so they head to the Visitor's Center to wait. Sure enough, he emerges an hour later, gun in hand; Jak kills him with a knife to the eye.
   They take one of the LAVs back, but the engine starts to overheat near a town called Patriarch. There, they find one of the traders sent out by Abe and Trader. After they return to the farm, Ryan and JB set off for Seattle to find their old chief.

  
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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