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Pony Soldiers
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Pony Soldiers
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Author Laurence James
Illustrator Michael Herring
Publication date May, 1988
ISBN 0-373-62506-5
Publication Order
Preceded by
Homeward Bound
Followed by
Dectra Chain

Back CoverEdit

THE BADLANDS JUST GOT WORSE...

Ryan Cawdor and his band of post-holocaust survivors come face-to-face with a specter from the past: out of the swirling dust that was once New Mexico bursts a regiment of pony soldiers, led by a man with flowing yellow hair.

Brandishing Colts and Winchesters, the horsemen grimly prepare to destroy the ragtag strangers, intruders who dare to penetrate their ruthlessly defended stronghold.

As the final showdown nears, Ryan makes a startling discovery: either he and his companions have chron-jumped back to the 1800s, or General George Custer has been catapulted into the twenty-second century...

PlotEdit

Nearly six months have passes since Ryan Cawdor and his friends finally repaid the blood debt owed to his brother Harvey Cawdor, and placed the ville of Front Royal in the capable hands of his nephew Nathan Freeman Cawdor.

They finally return to the Redoubt located near the Mohawk river. When they arrive they discover that sometime over the past six months someone managed to gain entrance to the redoubt. They are almost immediately set upon by a group of muties. After killing ten, they spend time eating and resting.

The next day Lori finally changes her clothing, settling for something more functional. They head towards the jump chamber. There, they discover that it is actually set up for chron jumps. They have a long and heated debate whether to attempt a chron jump or not. As they debate, they are attacked by another mutie. It cuts Jak across the shoulder. During the fight, they manage to push the mutie into the gateway and activate the chron jump function. Considering how the mutie died, they decide to reset the chamber to normal jump function and leave the redoubt.

Their first jump returns the group of friends to the Alaskan Redoubt. It appears that the redoubt is really breaking down fast, as it is bitterly cold. Because of the terrible memories associated with the redoubt, they decide to jump again.

The new redoubt they arrive in has walls of a yellowish gold colour. It is also somewhat hot, the rad counters going well into the orange. Even with this danger, they decide to stay and explore.

Unlike the previous redoubts, this one wasn't evacuated during the war. They discover numerous corpses all over the base, including several who committed suicide instead of suffering a long and lingering death from rad poisoning. After locating a map, and a suicide note, they discover that only ten percent of the redoubt survived, as the rest was hit by a nuclear warhead.

At the base's armoury, they discover that the few who did survive the attack sabotaged the weapons in order to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

They then explore the medical section of the redoubt, and take time to bandage the wound Jak suffered in the previous redoubt. That done, they finally leave the base and head out into the desert.

They find themselves in a desert in New Mexico. After travelling for several hours they come across a small cove of Cottonwood trees. Ryan decides that this will be a good place to make camp and rest for the night.

Around eleven PM, Jak goes for firewood. Krysty warns Ryan that he should follow him, as she has a bad feeling about what may happen. It turns out her feeling was correct. Jak falls into a six foot deep pit filled with sharpened spikes. He breaks several of his ribs and suffers internal injuries.

Ryan, coming to his rescue comes face to face with a huge mutie cougar. He manages to kill it using his silenced SIG Sauer. With the mutant cougar out of the way, he and the others are able to remove Jak from the pit.

Dawn arrives and Jak is far worse. His breathing is shallow and slowing down. They fear that if they cannot find medical help for him, Jak may die before the next sunrise. They build a travois in order to take Jak with them as they head into the desert in hopes of coming across a ville or community which may be able to help him recover.

Just after noon they spot a large dust cloud around five miles away from them, closing. Shortly afterwards they are able to make out a group of twenty seven men riding in a double line. Each of the men were wearing uniform's of light gray. Ryan realizes that they are sec men and orders the group to take cover on a hill covered in large boulders. He also knows that they may be able to help Jak. He calls out to them managing to gain their attention.

After seeing the yellow haired general and the antique weapons carried by the sec men, Doc wonders if they may not have Chron jumped by accident. The soldiers open fire on Ryan and his companions position. The general orders a cease fire. He then orders Ryan and his friends to put down their weapons and give up.

Ryan refuses to do as he is ordered to. He, Krysty, and Doc all share the feeling that they have encountered the general at some point in the past. The general gives them ten seconds to comply. He answers by shooting the generals Calvary saber out of his hand. The general orders his men to attack.

That was a mistake as J.B. kills seven of the attackers before they retreat. The soldiers continue to fire on Ryan's position in order to keep their heads down. A portion of the group try to flank the group.

Ryan is quite surprised to see a group of Apache warriors above them watching the drama unfold. Almost at the same time the soldiers see the Indians and several attempt to position themselves for a better shot. Three men pay with their lives.

Doc calls out to the Apache warriors. He surprises everyone when he speaks to them in their own language. Asking for their help, they comply and charge past Ryan and his friends position.

The fight is brief, the Apache warriors losing not a single man. Soon the yellow haired general orders a retreat and the surviving sec men leave the battle field.

The Apache chief then invites Ryan and his group to come with them to their ranchero. He figures that their Shaman might be able to save Jak. The camp is about two hours away in a boxed canyon known as Drowned Squaw Canyon.

After arriving in the camp, Jak is taken away to be looked after by the Shaman. While they are waiting the women of the tribe bring Ryan and his friends food. Once Jak is in the capable hands of Man who's eyes see more, the tribes Shaman, the chief sits down to learn about his guests.

He wants to know how Doc is able to speak to them in Apache. Doc explains that he actually spent time with the Apaches. The Chief doesn’t believe him and calls Doc a liar. The group let it pass for Jak's sake. After several hours pass, the chief returns. He finally introduces himself as Cuchillo Oro. He explains the history of his people and tribe to the companions.

This is where they learn of the 7th Calvary museum, and how the general arrived into the picture. Cuchillo asks that Ryan and his friends join them against the Pony Soldiers. Shortly after one AM the Shaman comes to the group and informs them that Jak will live.

The next morning Jak finally wakes up. He is now on the road to recovery. The group of friends discuss the situation regarding the General and his Pony Soldiers. In the end they agree to help the chief fight the sec men.

Throughout the day they work out a plan to go after the soldiers. It is at this time they are each given their Apache names. All but Doc Tanner because the Shaman feels that he is out of place in this time and world. They are finally given quarters to rest in, with almost no privacy. After playing an ancient CD player a member of the tribe owned, they turn in for the night.

The next morning, as they are preparing to go and scout out the Pony Soldiers fortress, they meet Cuchillo's daughter, Steps lightly moon. She is a delicate, beautiful young woman who has fallen for young Jak Lauren. She makes her intentions clear that she wishes to marry the teen with the Eye's of Wolf.

Later that morning they reach Many Deer Canyon to wait for a sec man patrol to arrive. In the distance they spot a group of men approaching on horseback. J.B. has a difficult time spotting the soldiers and is made to look the fool by a Apache warrior known as Long Knife. They nearly come to blows over it.

The group of soldiers stop by a stream and wait. Eventually Long knife tires of waiting and charges towards the sec men. His brother, Corn planter, races after him to stop him. Long Knife is killed outright, but the sec men manage to capture Corn Planter and torture him. As the sec men are about to leave in the late afternoon, Chief Cuchillo kills one of them for revenge. The remaining soldiers are about to set the still living remains of Corn Planter ablaze when Ryan shoots him, putting the warrior out of his misery. They return to the ranchero for the night.

After arguing with the Apache's for nearly the whole day Ryan and J.B. are finally able to convince the Indians to send word to the Pony Soldiers that they would like to make peace. It is nothing more than a trap to try and lure as many of the sec men into the ruins of a ville named Sometimes never.

Steps lightly moon offers to lead Ryan and his band to the ruins so they can scout it out and pick the best locations to set up the ambush. Jak comes along with them as he is finally strong enough to travel.

They explore the ruins. Krysty discovers a small gem stone known as an Apache tear, she decides to keep it. In one of the buildings they discover pictures of people dressed as if they were from the Victorian age. Jak inadvertently hurts Doc's feelings. A short time later they explore an old hermits shack located near the ville. Krysty is nearly killed by a trap set up by the hermit before he died. The recon finished, they return to the ranchero.

By seven PM the next night they know that the Pony Soldiers received the message. They are given a note that was written by the soldiers.

The next day Cuchillo takes Ryan aside and demands to know where Ryan and his friends come from. Ryan explains about the redoubts and the Mat Trans gateways. Cuchillo comes very close to asking Ryan into allowing him to join the band.

On the third day after sending the note to the Pony Soldiers Ryan and his friends head towards the ruined ville. The day appears that it is going to be quite unpleasant.

Once in the ruins of Sometimes Never, the group split up for a quick recon. Ryan never hears the sec man creep up behind him and is laid out cold. The sec men capture Ryan and return to their fortress.

Ryan finally wakes up to discover that he is on the back of a horse, nearing the fortress run by the Pony Soldiers. When they arrive, some of the sec men want to give Ryan a sever beating, but they restrain themselves, for fear of what their leader would do to them.

He finally realizes just who the General is. It's Cort Strasser. He survived the destruction of Mocsin. It turns out that Strasser has been paying informants all over the Deathlands to keep their eyes open for Ryan and his odd band. Strasser had some trouble in Kansas and eventually found himself in New Mexico, where he came across the sec men. After killing several of the would be Barons, he took over the band and whipped it into the fine fighting force it is now.

Ryan refuses to let Strasser know how they have been able to travel from one end of the Deathlands to the other. On top of that, he doesn't let Strasser know about Lori or Jak. Strasser informs Ryan that he plans to poison the Apache's water supply in order to gain full control of the area and rule it unopposed.

Strasser leaves a tape recording of his last 'interrogation' behind for Ryan to listen to, so he knows exactly what Strasser has planned for him. Ryan is able to use some of the Calming techniques taught to him by Krysty, but it isn't able to block out most of the horrifying sounds of Strasser's torture.

After a while, six sec men come in to feed Ryan. They place a chain on him after he finishes the meal and he attempts to get some sleep.

J.B. and Oro return to the ranchero and let the others know that the soldiers had captured Ryan. Both Krysty and Man who's eyes see more already knew this. Jak wants to mount an immediate rescue but is voted down by the rest of the group. With sickening realization, Krysty finally figures out just who the General really is.

After discussing just how they are going to rescue Ryan, Jak offers to head in alone, pretending he is the only survivor of a band who were attacked by the Indians. He will attempt to join the Pony Soldiers. He wants to leave as soon as possible. Doc warns Jak that Strasser has a thing for young boys.

That evening Jak and Steps Lightly Moon go off together to a special Wikup and talk for a little while. They end up making love twice. Jak Lauren finally loses his virginity. The next morning Jak wakes up and leaves to go and rescue Ryan from Strasser's evil clutches.

When Jak leaves the Ranchero he has a very difficult time of it, as his injured ribs are still bothering him a great deal. He was forced to leave his huge Magnum behind. Finally he encounters a sec patrol.

After being fed the next morning Strasser actually offers Ryan a chance for him and his band to join him and become one of the most powerful Barons in the Deathlands. He gives Ryan a chance to think about the offer as he shows him around the fortress.

Strasser plans to let Ryan suffer a severe beating at the hands of one his men. At this time a patrol returns with Jak in tow.

Strasser orders that young Jak is to be cleaned up and given a uniform. Fortunately for both Ryan and Jak he doesn't suspect for a moment that they know each other. He tells the sergeant to take Ryan to the museum.

As Jak showers, six sec men stand and watch, trying to bait him into saying or doing something. He totally ignores them.

Ryan spends some time exploring the museum before the Sergeant takes him back outside to where the sec men have gathered around, in anticipation of the fight between Ryan and a huge man named Rourke. The Sergeant is ready to back Ryan, as he believes Ryan is gong to win the fight.

Jak is finally allowed to dress and is fed. Strasser comes to visit him and gets straight to the point with what he plans to do with Jak. Before he can get down to business he is distracted by the sounds of the fight between Ryan and Rourke.

The fight is short, swift and brutal. Ryan doesn't pull any punches. He first breaks the mans arm, and then Rourke pulls out a knife. Ryan nails him in the nuts and then breaks the mans nose, killing him instantly.

Strasser is furious at the death of the man. He orders his men to take Ryan, strip him and chain him up so he can torture him. A short time later Strasser comes in and begins to work on him. The damage is not bad or permanent. Strasser leaves as he wants to bring Jak in to participate.

Krysty is woken from her sleep because of Ryan's torture. Oro comes to talk to her, asks if he and his daughter can come with them when they leave. She tells him its up to Ryan to decide.

Jak is in his room when Strasser arrives. He tells Jak to get dressed. Once done, he shows Jak pictures and describes in morbid and gory detail his torture techniques. All the while Strasser has his hands on Jak's thighs and rear. It takes all his willpower to keep from killing Strasser on the spot. He then takes Jak with him to continue his torture session with Ryan.

Just before they enter Ryan's cell, Jak launches devastating blow after devastating blow against Strasser. He is finally able to take him down. Jak pushes Strasser into a cell and locks it so he has a hell of a hard time escaping. After releasing Ryan, they head to Strasser's office to retrieve his weapons and clothing. Jak is tempted to take Strasser's SVD-1 Sniper rifle, but Ryan persuades him not to.

As they make a break for it, Jak is forced to kill a sec man. He opens the doors to the fort as Ryan hops in and tries to start the Dune buggy owned by Strasser. He finally gets it running just as Strasser is discovered. Killing one more sec man, he and Jak race off into the desert night.

At the same time Krysty and the rest, accompanied by Oro, Steps lightly moon, and the Shaman are heading towards the Mesa.

The dune buggy lasts for only about five miles before breaking down. Strasser, quite angry at the beating he suffered at Jak's hands, as well as the escape of Ryan, orders all the men to mount up and head after them.

A short time later, just as Strasser and his men catch up to Ryan and Jak, they meet up with Krysty and the others. By noon, at least a dozen of the Pony Soldiers are dead, but none of the Apaches are killed. In order to buy them time to escape, Oro gets one of the old warriors, a man named Many Winters to head down, sacrificing his life so they can escape. The warrior agrees to do this willingly. He is killed, but dies with honour. The others make their way back to the Ranchero.

Just as the companions reach the Drowned Squaw Canyon, Strasser and his men are only three hundred meters behind them. They follow Ryan's band right into the ranchero.

Strasser and his men are exuberant about the discovery. How ever, their exuberance quickly turns to horror as they are ambushed by the Apache warriors. In the first few moments of the fight nearly half the soldiers are killed. Within fifteen minutes the surviving sec men are hunted down and killed. Four men and the Sergeant are all taken prisoner by the Apache's. Somehow, Strasser was able to scale the walls of the canyon and escape with his life once again.

After the battle, the Shaman informs Ryan that Cuchillo and his Daughter wish to come with them when they leave. Ryan tells him that he will give Cuchillo his decision in the morning. They all go to sleep.

Later that night they are all awakened by the screams of the prisoners as the Apaches torture them to death. Eventually everyone except Ryan return to the wikup to get as much sleep as possible and to prevent themselves from upsetting their hosts as the torture sickens them one and all. Just before Ryan retires, the shaman informs him that he knows what he has planned and suggests that they leave as early as possible. Ryan takes his advice to heart and they leave shortly after dawn.

On their way they discover that the Sergeant is still alive. He does the man a favour by driving a knife into his throat, killing him fast and easy.

When the reach the redoubt they discover that Strasser is waiting for them. He fires a shot but misses and they enter the nuked fortress. To their surprise they discover that Man who's eyes see more is waiting for them at the gateway. He joins their group and jumps with them.

TriviaEdit

This book was authored by Laurence James.

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