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Savage Armada

Modified on 2011/10/18 11:34 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands


   Let them hate, as long as they fear.

   - Accius Navius, high priest for Tiberius the Elder,
   617 B.C.



   The companions awaken in a new gateway, but it's constructed like nothing they've ever seen - it looks like it was cobbled together from spare parts, with a ship's door serving as the portal. After everyone recovers from the jump, they open the door and a cloud of exhaust pours into the chamber. They advance into what is apparently a control room (though again not like a normal one), and Ryan finds the main door. He opens it, letting in sunlight and fresh air, which blows away the smog enough for them to see.
   The exhaust came from a generator, which (along with a car transmission, a step-up transformer, and a homemade Tesla coil) provided power for the gateway. They also find a skeleton, which had been nailed to the wall before whoever built the gate fled through it. The skeleton was a woman; she'd pulled herself off the spikes and bled to death, but not before sketching a symbol on the floor in her own blood.
   JB determines that the generator is out of gas, and they're stuck. Fortunately, it can also run on alcohol. Unfortunately, they don't have any, so they head out of the building to have a look around. They see nothing in the immediate area beyond loads of rusted cars, which JB says have been blown up by mines, and a barbed-wire fence a short distance away from the building.
   They're planning their next step when they're attacked by a flock of condors. They retreat inside, where Krysty trips over the skeleton. One of the birds lands on the Tesla coil, vaporizing itself and carrying a shock through the metal floor toward Ryan and Krysty. She's badly shocked but recovers the next morning.
   At this point, we find out where the companions have ended up - the Marshall Islands, in the Pacific Ocean. The chain includes the infamous Bikini Atoll, site of hundreds of US nuclear bomb tests. After breakfast, they break camp and head into the jungle to look for copper tubing so they can make shine for the generator.
   After several hours, they catch sight of a predark city that has obviously never been looted. They quickly find out why, though - it's a radiation hotspot. JB catches sight of a bridge heading to another island, so they head that way instead.
   They come to the bridge, only to find it guarded by a pair of hellcats. Ryan sights in on one to shoot it when a gigantic spider appears on the ridge behind them. Ryan shoots the ropes holding the cats, and they race to do battle with the spider. While the three creatures are occupied, the companions run for the bridge. The spider quickly deals with its opponents, though, and reaches the bridge not long after they do, climbing over it in an effort to get at them. They finally drive it off with a lot of firepower and make it to the next island.
   They stop for lunch and are just about finished when they hear screams and gunshots - JB identifies them as black-powder blasters. They find a small village on the beach below, being attacked by a sailing ship armed with cannons in the harbor. They move closer to see a group of sailors raping and enslaving the villagers, but they soon realize the truth - the ship (the USS Constellation) belonged a group of sailors who had come to the ville for repairs in exchange for weapons and powder, but the villagers betrayed them to take the ship, enslave the sailors, rape the women they had along (gifts for Baron Kinnison), and get off their island.
   Now that they know what's going on, the companions have no compunction about killing all the villagers. JB lets loose with his Uzi, and suddenly everyone freezes. One of the villagers thinks they're the "lord baron's" sec men. Ryan tries to play along, but the villagers ask for tattoos of rank, which they don't have. Caught in the lie, they kill the rest of the villagers then grab an outrigger from the village dock, sail out to the ship, and reclaim it from the erstwhile pirates.
   Doc and the sailors come out soon after, and Ryan talks to Bosun Jackson, the ranking officer. Since the companions saved the sailors' lives and rescued their ship, Jackson's willing to agree that they now own the ship. Ryan's willing to trade the ship for shine, so they strike a deal - passage to and from the sailors' hometown (and defense if necessary) and all the shine they need, in exchange for the ship. Doc suggests taking some of the women along - they're short of able bodies, and the women might be willing to come. Jackson agrees and sends him back to shore to recruit some new hands.
   In the next chapter, we go to one of the baron's sec men, Lt. Craig Brandon, riding into the harbor on a PT boat. He goes to the baron's throne room to report that he sank two pirate vessels and that the payment ship from Cold Harbor (the one the companions saved) is overdue. Kinnison sends Brandon back to Cold Harbor to find the ship and bring back the payment.
   Meanwhile, the ship in question is sailing toward Cold Harbor. Along the way, a pair of pirate lookouts spot it and run to report to their captain. The captain and crew gear up and jump on their ship, hoping to intercept the Constellation and get what they assume is a hold full of black powder.
   The fight is long and brutal, but in the end, the sailors and companions win. It's a Pyrrhic victory, though - they blew up the pirate ship, which also damaged the Constellation badly enough that they have to abandon ship. They pile into the lifeboats and catch a current around Forbidden Island (the same one the companions were on earlier, with the irradiated city) to Cold Harbor.
   Unfortunately, the guards in Cold Harbor think they've been irradiated, and that radiation sickness is contagious. Their solution - shoot the sailors out of the water. The companions dive into the bay and swim away, but everyone else is killed. They make it to shore, and the ville's baron - a giant of a man named Langford - comes out to deal with them. He sees their weapons and immediately offers them a huge amount of payment for them. Ryan tells him that he knows how to make black powder, but all he asks in return is a trawler and a load of shine. The baron, suspecting a trap, orders his men to kill the companions. They flee for the trawler at the dock, but Krysty trips and falls. Langford snatches her up and attempts to crush her, but she uses her Gaia strength to break free and kill him, then collapses in a heap.
   The next morning, Krysty finds that she's the new baron. Her friends are her new personal sec men, which angers the original sec men to no end. After eating, she has Ryan and the others take her to the armory. They find lots of black powder rifles and powder, but little else besides an escape tunnel leading to the baron's bedroom, where they find a couple chests; one has several bottles of alcohol, enough for the generator.
   The next day, Dean and Ryan go out to the harbor to recover the packs and gear they jettisoned when they went overboard. He's just gotten the last of it when five PT boats roll into the harbor. Brandon calls for Baron Langford, but the sec men yell that he's dead. One man, panicked, reveals that the new baron is making black powder (an offense punishable by slow torture and death) and another says that they're not going to be made slaves, then fires on the boat. The PT opens fire in return, and a battle breaks out.
   Meanwhile, one of the sailors from the pirate ship that attacked the Constellation survived and told his fellows what happened. They round up several more ships and sail for Cold Harbor, arriving as the battle is in full swing. Most of the PTs and all the pirate ships are destroyed; in the confusion, the companions hop aboard a disabled PT boat and sail it out of the harbor with Brandon's boat in hot pursuit. Ryan manages a shot at the other boat's boiler, which punches a hole in it, killing most of the crew and disabling the boat, and the companions race away toward Spider Island and the gateway.
   Later that evening, the other PT boats catch up to the companions' boat, which has been abandoned. The companions are heading across the bridge when they run into the spider again. Brandon spots them while they're fighting it and has his men fire a barrage of rockets at the bridge, collapsing it and sending everyone into the ocean. He then has the men fire some at the ruins and some more at the top of the mesa, where the gate is located - it would make a good place for a base camp.


  
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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