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Time Nomads

Modified on 2011/12/13 19:04 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Creatures

   The past and the present
   are only a heartbeat apart.

   - From Tunnel Vision
   By Laurence James
   Published by Blackie, 1989

   The story begins with the companions arriving in a new redoubt. This is Mildred's first jump, and she's taking it hard. She eventually recovers, and the companions move out and search the area.
   After leaving the control room, JB closes the door, but the old mechanism is damaged - it crashes to the floor, sealing the room. They decide to check the rest of the place before trying to blast their way around the door.
   The first thing they notice is a bundle of wires along the ceiling of the corridor - obviously some sort of self-destruct device set before the place was evacuated. They find many more sealed doors before the corridor is blocked by a massive cave-in. on the way back, they check the doors more thoroughly, and Krysty senses fresher air coming from beyond one. Ryan and JB heave the door open, but they find that it merely leads to another section of the redoubt that's also blocked off. They do, however, find a couple rooms with emergency supplies - food, water, and beds.
   Most of the food has gone bad (the cans are either rusted or exploded), but they find enough to make a decent meal. Ryan takes a couple cans that are dented; Mildred warns him that they could be bad, but Ryan's pride gets the better of him and he chows down anyway. Later that night, he becomes violently sick and falls into a coma - he's been infected with botulism.
   While in the coma, he has a dream of his early days with Trader. The events take place around the year 2085.
   Ryan's dream starts with him riding on War Wag One; he's in an arm-wrestling contest with another member of the convoy named Lex. Ryan wins the contest (and a load of jack). Shortly thereafter, the convoy makes camp in southern Colorado. After dinner, Ryan decides to search the ruins nearby for evidence of a redoubt; Trader grants him permission, so he takes along four others: Hunaker, Ben, Ray, and Lox.
   They run into a local named Walt, who warns them that scabbies are in the area. After talking to him, Ryan and Hun head into a house to check it out; they have a quickie, then find an old answering machine and listen to it. Ryan decides there's little more to find, so Hun goes out to tell the others they're leaving; she yells back that Walt is trying to signal them.
   Walt tells them that he just saw scabbies, right before his head is blown apart by a musket ball. Ryan and the others take cover in Walt's house, where they trade shots with the scabbies and they end up in a standoff.
   A couple hours pass before Ryan comes up with a plan - they'll pretend that they're out of ammo, which will draw the scabbies up to the slaughter. The plan works, and they wipe out the scabbies, but Lox is killed in the battle. Ryan and the others make it back to the covoy, and they give Lox a burial service that night.
   Afterward, Trader tells Ryan that he's gotten word of a ville to the east that has stocks of gas and ammo, so they'll be heading that way instead of north.
   They're a day out from Towse ville when they run into a group of wagons under attack. They    come to the setters' aid, driving off the bandits. The folks are headed to Harmony ville; one of them is a young girl named Krysty. They also tell Trader that the bandits were led by a man with one eye.
   Once they get to Towse, they meet Baron Alias Carson and his wife Sharona. Carson invites them to dinner, where they meet the baron's sec chief, Ferryman. Ferryman tells the baron that he lost several people during an attack from some war wags earlier, when he was trying to extract a toll from a group of settlers passing through. Everyone involved knows the other side was there, but nothing happens; Carson says the gas will be there in a few days.
   A few days go by. One day, Ryan is talking to Ferryman when one of Carson's scouts come riding into the ville. The scout has news of a white lion nearby; Carson, an avid hunter, wants to go find it. He invites Trader and some of his people along, so Ryan volunteers to stay behind while JB and several others accompany the party. While they're gone, Sharona takes Ryan back to her room and they have sex.
   A couple days later, the gas still hasn't shown up. Carson advances Trader some gas and tells him about a redoubt located up in the mountains a day or so away. He's never been there himself, so he's not sure what's there (or even if it exists). He says the gas will arrive in five days or so, so Trader decides to ride off in search of the redoubt.
   The redoubt is indeed there, but it was broken into long ago and has since been picked clean. The exploration party has just found the entrance when they're attacked by the local Indians - the locals think Ryan is Ferryman and want revenge for his attacks on their people. Trader tries to convince them otherwise, but since none of them have seen Ferryman up close, they can't prove Ryan isn't the sec chief. Finally, the tribal chief, Slow Eagle, proposes a compromise - trial by combat. Ryan will fight their champion, Dark Cloud; if he wins, everyone goes free.
   Ryan wins, and they go free. Upon their return to the ville, they find that only one gas tanker has arrived. Trader gives Carson 24 hours to produce more before he gets "angered some". He tells Ryan to see if he can find out anything from Sharona about the baron's plans - it's obvious Carson is playing them, though to what end no one knows.
   Ryan gets his chance the next day. Sharona sometimes rides out to a small ghost town to do her painting, along with a pair of sec men; Ryan gets himself an invite to come along.
   They're nearly to the town when one of the men's motorcycles breaks down. Sharona goes on ahead with Ryan while the other two fix the bike. Once they're in the building she uses, though, she immediately jumps his bones. The sec men arrive while they're in flagrante delicto, and the lovers are forced to kill them.
   A ferocious storm hits the area while this is happening, so they take the bodies outside and leave them to be scoured by the wind-blown sand, which wipes away any traces of foul play. Upon their return the next day, they spin a tale that the men were caught out by the storm and died before reaching shelter.
   The gas arrives that evening. The war wags get gassed up, and the baron throws a celebration for the children of the ville, which includes fireworks. The last of them turns out to be a parachute flare, which is a signal for the sec men to attack. Trader and his people are ready for it, though, and they fight off the attack and break free of the ville. Once they're a few miles away and more organized, they return, kill every man they find, and escort the women and children a few miles away while the Indians ride into the ville to retake it. During the fighting, Ryan runs into Sharona; he can't kill her, though, and she gets away on a motorcycle.
   Back in the present, Mildred's experimentation with various drugs from the medical stores enables Ryan to wake from his coma and eventually recover. While he was out, Jak found a possible way out - a gap at the top of one of the caved-in passages. Once Ryan is able to function properly, JB rigs up some plas-ex at the top of the door leading to the control room, hoping to jar the door loose. It fails, and it also severs one of the wires linked to the auto-destruct. They race to the cave-in and dig their way free, making it out with only minutes to spare, and race down a narrow path to the ground. There, they take cover under an overturned satellite dish before the explosion blows half the mountain away.
   Once they're sure everyone's all right, JB figures out where they are, and they decide where to go next.

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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