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Sky Raider

Modified on 2011/10/18 11:44 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands

   Fear is sharp-sighted, and can see things underground, and much more in the skies.

   - Don Quixote de la Mancha (1.3.6)
   Miguel de Cervantes

   The book starts off outside a ville, with a trader and the ville's baron, Jeffers, striking a deal. Digger, the trader, offers some new-looking ammo, so the baron and his guards decide to test it. It's filled with dirt, so they kill the trader. Shortly thereafter, a plane flies over and bombs the village, killing everyone but Jeffers. The pilot shoots at him, but he gets away, dives into the river nearby, and drifts downstream.
   The companions awaken in a redoubt, but it's cold. The move into the anteroom, and Ryan finds the exit door to be frigid, even though the vents are putting out warm air. Mildred has Ryan check for a draft around the door, and his flame goes out. Krysty checks the vent again, and it seems to be losing power. They determine that they're somewhere in space, the place has a leak, and the generators are losing power, so they pile back into the mat-trans and make another jump.
   Next, we go to another ville, where the baron is laying his son to rest on a funeral pyre. Three starving men had killed the boy to get to some food, and now they're to be executed. The proceedings are halted, though, when the baron's daughter, Sandra, returns to the ville bearing food (which she took from Jeffers' ville after she bombed it). She has the men crippled and thrown to the dogs, alive, instead of executed.
   The companions arrive in a new redoubt none the worse for wear. They find a corpse in a military uniform leaning against the door, one arm on the locking handle. They exit the chamber to find more corpses in uniform all over the redoubt. All of them died killing each other, except for a few people who killed themselves. They also find a prisoner in the brig, who was apparently being questioned by two generals. Up in the garage, they find a full fleet of vehicles.
   Next, we go to Sandra, who is now at an airfield in an old blast crater. Some years ago, she found a nearby airfield with hundreds of planes, and managed to get an old biplane (complete with a .50-cal machine gun) working; she uses moonshine as fuel. She has since tried to create her own copies of the plane in order to build a fleet to take over Deathlands, but has been unsuccessful to this point. Her latest effort, though, works perfectly. Unfortunately, it snaps the tether rope and flies out of the crater to points unknown. She sends her men to go looking for it, with orders to make a signal fire when they find it.
   Back in the redoubt, the companions hear the main blast door opening and closing repeatedly. They investigate, but nothing is there. They open the door and look around, and eventually find the cause: a nerve gas cannister wedged into the sill - it was placed there so that when the door closed, it would rupture and send the gas into the ventilation system, affecting everyone in the redoubt. After digging the cannister out so the door closes, they do a sweep of the redoubt for useful items and ammo, then spend the night.
   Meanwhile, Baron Jeffers is floating down the Ohio River. He eventually smells woodsmoke and pulls himself ashore. Wandering through the woods, he comes upon a small settlement that's been taken over by wandering bandits. He kills all the men and, since the old baron is dead, declares himself the new baron.
   The next morning, Doc spots Sandra's airplane outside the redoubt. The others come to look, and they see it also. They decide to track it down and destroy it, since anyone with a working plane could potentially take over Deathlands. They get two humvees and a pair of motorcycles working, load them up with trade goods, and leave the redoubt. They soon spot smoke coming from the south1, along with a huge fireball and head that way - presumably it's where the plane is.
   They soon reach the Ohio River and follow it upstream, looking for a bridge. They come to the ruins of a predark city, but quickly discover it's the home of a horde of stickies. They also find an old railroad trestle, but it's too weak to support the hummers, so Ryan tosses a grenade onto it to drop it into the river, forming a relatively traversible causeway. They make it across the river, but lose one of the bikes to the stickies in the process.
   They keep heading north and eventually find the remains of the test plane, along with an empty vehicle, lots of tracks, and some blood. The plane has been firebombed, probably with a Molotov (Sandra's work; she did it to keep anyone else from getting it). They're examining the scene when they're attacked by cannies. They capture Mildred and take her back to their lair.
   On her way back to the airfield, Sandra sees a trader with several moonshine stills in his carts headed toward her ville. She strafes the wagons, killing all the people and mounts, simply so she can get the copper tubing to make more stills (more stills = more fuel = more planes able to fly at once). After she lands and grabs up the tubing, she's attacked by howlers, but she gets way safely.
   Jak picks up the cannies' trail and tracks them to an oasis situated in a bamboo grove. They live in an underground cave accessed via an entrance in a small lake. They go in, kill everyone they find, and rescue Mildred and Karl, one of Sandra's men. He tells them that his baron will pay well for his return, so they head for Thunder ville.
   They come across the remains of the convoy Sandra attacked and are attacked by the same howlers that chased Sandra. The plane comes back into view, and Karl waves at it, trying to gain Sandra's attention. She fires on him, wounding him, then destroys one of the humvees and flies off. They dump some supplies from the other truck to fit everyone, then get going again. Sandra returns and drops several bombs, and Mildred returns fire with Ryan's Steyr, wounding her and driving her away.
   The next day, the companions, following Karl's directions, make their way to the airfield and scout it out. One of Sandra's men tells her that he saw a black humvee driving around the crater; she immediately identifies it as the one she shot at the previous day and hops in her plane, taking off before the companions attack.
   The companions get through the gate and start shooting everyone they find. Mildred and Krysty find Sandra's journal, which has all her notes on creating the new plane, and burn it. Meanwhile, Ryan hops on a motorcycle and draws her off toward an ambush they'd prepared the previous day. They killed several wild animals and piled them near the cannies' lake; the dead flesh draws a crowd of screamwings. When Sandra gets close, the stingwings attack her, and Ryan shoots her while she's distracted.
   She crash-lands the plane in a forest, where she is found by Jeffers and some people from his ville (whom he'd brought along to take revenge on her for destroying his old ville). She's trapped in wreckage, and he tosses several Molotovs on her, burning her alive.
   The companions return to the redoubt, rest up, and jump the next day.

   1 The initial description says the desert is south of the redoubt, but then the companions head north to follow the plane. At the end of the book, they head north (again) to cross the Ohio and get back to the redoubt, which seems to support the initial description, so I changed the summary to correct this apparent mistake.

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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