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Modified on 2012/01/05 20:04 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands
   Living close to the edge makes you feel a new man. And the new man wants to live even closer to the edge.

   - From Fresh Fields
   by Marcus Strafford

   The companions arrive in a new redoubt. After recovering from what was a pretty good jump, the companions pile out of the gateway and have a look around. Ryan goes ahead with Dean and Krysty to check the passage. Dean needs to take a leak, so Ryan tells him to go against the wall while he and Krysty walk ahead a ways.
   They find that the passage ends in open air - the redoubt's built into the side of a mountain, and an earthquake has sheared off a large section. Behind them, Dean starts to scream. Everyone hurries up to find a mutie snake has burst from a hole in the wall and latched onto his leg. Ryan pulls it free, and Doc kills it. He leans against the wall, inciting dozens more to attack, but they get away with only minor wounds.
   Following the passage the other way, they eventually find access to the rest of the redoubt, as well as a way down. They head into the valley below and make camp for the night.
   Sometime in the middle of the night, a trio of hunters come on the camp. The men are tracking a gigantic grizzly, but they tell the companions about the nearby ville of Vista and that they're avoiding the baron's sec men. Despite the attraction of hunting a huge bear, the companions slip out in the predawn hours, eager to avoid a confrontation with the baron's men.
   Unfortunately, they run into the grizzly the next day and are forced to kill it when it attacks them. Not long after, the trio of hunter show up, followed by a group of sec men led by the chief, Rick Coburn. He executes the hunters (who are poaching on the baron's land) and escorts the companions, under guard, back to Vista.
   There, they meet Baron Alferd Nelson and his mother. Nelson tells them of his wife and son: a group of trappers from the nearby ville of Yuma came by a few months previous; one or more of them had sex with his wife, and the group also killed his son, who was fishing at a lake not far away. Nelson killed his wife for cheating on him, but the trappers got away. He knew where they came from, and who sent them, however - Wizard Sidler, baron of Yuma, who had challenged Nelson for leadership of Vista and been defeated.
   That night, Nelson has Ryan brought to his room for a private conversation. He makes a deal with Ryan - he'll keep Dean, Krysty, and Mildred hostage, while Ryan and the other men go to Yuma and bring back the ones responsible for killing his son. They'll have ten days. Since the companions have no weapons and are at the baron's mercy, Ryan has no choice but to agree.
   He, JB, Doc, Jak, and Michael set off the next day. They make good time; near the end of the day, they run across a small troupe of actors who are also headed to Yuma. They make camp together, and Ryan comes up with an idea. Since the troup is short a few people (there are only two actors), he gets Michael and Doc to pretend they're actors as well, so they can slip into Yuma unnoticed.
   They make it into the ville and get rooms at one of the inns. The next day, while the actors are rehearsing, Ryan heads out to meet with the baron, who's watching a movie at the local theater. He also meets the band of mercs who killed Nelson's son (minus one, who was killed in a barfight).
   Later, Ryan comes up with a plan to get the mercs outside without arousing suspicion - at one point in the play, the actors will call a group of people forth from the audience to play the "bad guys", who escort the fair maiden offstage. Ryan finds an emergency exit leading to a side alley, which is perfect.
   Sidler gets sick, so they delay a day to put the play on. The day after, they do their first performance, which goes off without a hitch - except that Sidler and the mercs don't show up.
   Meanwhile, back in Vista, the baron's mother calls for Krysty, Mildred, and Dean. She holds a little revolver on them and lets slip that Nelson plans to betray them - even if Ryan and the others come back, he'll have them killed and keep the women for breeding and raise Dean as his own. They wait until she's distracted, then scatter; Dean goes right up the middle and stabs her with his knife.    Nelson comes into the room right after. When he finds out what happened, he finishes her off, then decides to kill them as well. Krysty takes the woman's revolver and shoots Nelson with it, killing him.
   The next day, everyone shows up for the performance. Ryan and JB wait at the back door and cold-cock everyone as they come up, then bundle them into the wagon. They then pile in and ride out of town about ten minutes ahead of an alarm. A group of sec men ride out after them, but Ryan shoots a couple, putting the rest in disarray.
   A few hours later, Sidler slips free of his bonds, grabs a knife, and slashes one of the actor's throats. Doc (who happened to be her lover) shoots him in the face with his LeMat. They bury her body, toss Sidler's aside, and keep on.
   As the sun rises, a snowstorm hits, reducing visibility to near zero. The driver loses control of the wagon and it slips over the edge of a precipice, dumping it and the prisoners in a ravine below. the companions were riding horses and so remained on the road. Ryan and the others are forced to kill all four of the prisoners, who survived the plunge. They put the other actor and the driver in the wagon and burn it, then hurry back to Vista.
   There, they found out what's happened. Coburn makes a deal with them - they get a free meal, supplies for three days, and a two-hour head start; after that, he'll take a group of sec men after them in reliation for killing the baron (despite the fact that it was justified self-defense, he has to do it in order to keep face with his men).
   The companions rush back to the redoubt, making it there just ahead of Coburn and his men.... but the entry door won't open. (The book ends here, on a cliffhanger.)

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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