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Modified on 2011/10/18 11:54 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands

   ...there have always been secrets, and there has always been power. It's just that some of it has been out in the open, and some of it has been in the shadows. That's the worst - you can never be sure what's going on in the shadows. The twilight world where there are only half-truths and half-lies, and no such thing as trust.

   - From a report to a Congress committee on hidden cabals and covert operations,
   August 23, 1954

   The companions awaken in a redoubt. After spending time to recover, they move out to explore the place. It looks normal, except that the air is a little more stale than normal. They find clothes, but the clothes aren't military issue - they're in various colors of the rainbow. Mildred also notes that the place seems smaller, which is confirmed when the find the dorms - they hold fewer beds than normal.
   After sleeping and eating, they check the armory. The place is empty except for a single crate holding what appears to be laser rifles - all nonfunctioning. They decide to head out and check things on the way for more clues. At one point, Krysty stops at a locked door and says there's something inside. JB blows the door, and they find an office holding a single dead body (a suicide) and a wall safe with a journal of sorts.
   The journal tells of a group called the Illuminated Ones, a subsect of the US Government who knew the war was coming and covertly worked to preserve themselves by using Totality Concept resources. They built the redoubt and lived there after skydark; about fifty years later, one group used the gate to jump elsewhere, and another group left the redoubt for the surface. The lone man, unable to handle such drastic change, killed himself.
   They go to the motor bay and take a service tunnel up to the surface. On their way up, an earthquake strikes, collapsing part of the tunnel and separating them - Dean is caught in a pocket, and JB and Mildred are cut off at the back of the group. Everyone digs through the rubble and eventually rejoins, and they make their way out.
   They find themselves on a hilltop, with a forest on one side and a sheer drop to a scrub plain on the other. They decide to go down the plain side. On the way down, Doc stumbles and grabs at a small tree, which happens to hold a mutie hawk's nest. The hawk attacks him, and he's forced to draw his LeMat and shoot it.
   They're almost all the way down when a light acid rain starts to fall. They race for a deserted diner they saw from the top, making it before the rain gets too bad. A search of the place turns up nothing useful, though it's apparent that someone uses it semi-regularly. When JB is on watch, though, he digs around in the cushions in the booths and comes up with a crudely drawn map.
   It places them near Seattle, with two villes nearly the same distance from the diner. One is named Samtvogel, which gives Krysty a bad feeling, and the other is a ville under the ruins of Seattle (unnamed on the map, but called Raw). They decide to head for Raw.
   As they're walking on the road, an APC approaches and the companions scatter. A bunch of people in brightly-colored clothes (like the ones in the redoubt) and bearing laser rifles jump out and attack. They're not very experienced with the weapons, though, and the companions drive them off easily, killing several.
   Closer to Seattle, they find the vegetation becoming much thicker, almost a jungle, and the heat becomes nearly unbearable. Ryan decides to stop and have Jak scout ahead while they rest in an abandoned apartment building. Jak looks around for hidden entrances to Raw, but while he's searching he hears chanting moving toward him. He hides as a group of mutie humans dressed in bright clothes marches past, bearing two poles with something strung on them. Unfortunately, their path will take them right by the building where the others are resting, so he hurries back to warn them.
   Everyone moves to an apartment on an upper floor where they can get a good view of the forest below. The muties walk past, and they get a good view of what's on the poles - children. Once the muties are safely gone, the companions return to ground level and head onward. Jak finds an entrance, but he also spots a crew of sec men (armed) heading after the muties. The companions hide and wait for the men to pass, but half the party has circled around to ambush them.
   They're taken out to the open, and the sec men's leader, Harvey, talks things over with Ryan. He gives them a choice - a firefight now, or join them and recover the kids and maybe die later. Given that there isn't much choice, the companions join the sec men.
   Along the way to Samtvogel, Harvey tells them that Raw was founded by the group of Illuminated Ones who left the redoubt. They arrive at Samtvogel around nightfall; the muties have stuck the poles upright and are building bonfires around them, chanting all the while before a painted totem. They rescue the dead children, killing several of the muties in the process. Doc notices something odd about the totem and tries to tell Ryan, but they have no time.
   They get back to Raw and Harvey leds them to the main meeting hall, where they meet the baron, Alien, and his wife Jenna. Krysty is hit with a wave of psychic energy as she sees Jenna - the woman is a mutie also, an empath. Alien invites them to stay, and Dean offers to help burn the bodies before anyone can stop him. He notices - despite Harvey trying to distract him with a lecture on the furnaces - that all the children have blond hair and blue eyes. It bugs him, but he can't put his finger on why.
   That night, Jak decides to do a little scouting on his own. He catches the scent of burning flesh, which makes little sense - the furnaces should be venting to the outside, not back into the tunnels. He follows the scent to a locked metal door and is almost caught by a lamplighter; he hides near the ceiling, using some pipes as cover, knocks the man out, then quietly slips away.
   The companions spend three more days in the ville, checking things out. Alien is well-loved, and the ville runs on a communal system. They see little need to stay and are about to pack up and leave when word comes that a group of Sunchildren is on the march. Alien requests the companions' aid in the coming fight, as repayment for his hospitality, and they readily accept.
   They march out into the forest and pick a spot to meet the advancing muties, split into two groups. Harvey is in charge of one group, and one of his men, Downey, is in charge of the other. The plan is to hit them from both sides in a pincer movement; Downey's group attacks as soon as the muties pass, hitting them from the rear, but Harvey tells his group to wait. Mildred and JB ignore his order and attack, forcing the others to go with them. They kill a good number of the muties, and the rest flee.
   That night, there's a big celebration. Almost everyone in the ville, the companions included, gets stinking drunk. Krysty forbids Dean any alcohol, so he takes the opportunity to fake drunkenness so he can take a look around for the door Jak found. He wanders around the halls and eventually finds it.
   Inside are beds occupied by eight blond-haired, blue-eyed children, along with lab equipment containing what looks like dyes. Another barred door opens into a smaller room with two abominations that resemble children, obviously the results of some kind of experiment. He's about to leave when Harvey appears. Dean blows through him and runs for the door, but Jenna shows up and incapacitates him with a blast of fear. Harvey knocks him out, and they strap him down to a bed and shoot him full of sedative.
   The next morning, Doc awakens and remembers what it was he wanted to tell Ryan - the totem the muties were worshipping is a nuclear warhead. They take the news to Alien, who immediately makes plans for an all-out attack to wipe out the muties and recover the missile.
   They leave the next day, going on foot to Samtvogel. Jenna remains behind, telling Dean that she wants to use him as a stud for her next generation of children. Meanwhile, the combined forces of Raw villagers and companions attacks Samtvogel, killing everyone they find. They take Sunchild himself prisoner and recover the nuke and make their victorious way back to Raw.
   Back in Raw, they attempt to interrogate Sunchild, but he remains mute until he sees Ryan. He tells Ryan that he didn't take Dean, then goes on to say that Jenna is "tainted". Harvey shoots him in the face to shut him up. At the same time, Jenna is talking to Dean when she suddenly goes into convulsions. Dean uses the opportunity to free one hand from his restraints.
   Ryan has the others regroup in their quarters later for a discussion. Harvey shows up and tells him he's wanted in Alien's quarters, so he goes. He finds Jenna, alone and naked; she tries to use her empathy ability to seduce him, but he resists. It's a moot point, though, since Harvey and Alien show up. Harvey offers to shoot Ryan then and there, but Alien says it requires a ville meeting, to be held shortly. He lets Ryan go on his own recognizance.
   Meanwhile, Dean gets free of his restraints and finds an air duct. He pries off the cover and crawls in, making his way through the ducts until he finds an exit near the market. A couple men help him down, then he runs off to find his friends. He gets to their quarters and tells them what's going on, then Harvey comes to take them all to the meet. Since he doesn't know that Dean's free, the boy hides and comes out later, slipping through the crowd.
   Alien says that Ryan was apparently trying to seduce Jenna to take over the ville, then Jenna steps forward to say she'd resisted and he tried to rape her. Alien's verdict is that they'll be exiled. Dean pops up and tells everyone about the lab, which Alien (of course) doesn't know about. He bids the companions take him there, so they show him and a couple of the sec men the lab. Harvey and Jenna know the game is up, so they slip away while everyone's leaving and head for the armory to get their hands on the nuke, which they activate.
   Alien, disgusted by what he sees, has the companions destroy everything and kill the children. Most of the sec men side with Harvey, but some (along with most of the ville folk) are still loyal to Alien, and they draw up sides. With the companions' help, they overcome the traitors and kill Harvey and Jenna. They find the nuke, but it's been set with a password. Mildred makes a guess based on a Grateful Dead poster she saw in the redoubt - Garcia - and it shuts down.
   After recovering from the battle and helping Alien restore order, the companions leave Raw. They can't return to the redoubt, so they decide to head north to find the Illuminated Ones and their mythical lost land.

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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