The eleventh book of the Deathlands series, originally released in .
|Publication date||June, 1990|
| Preceded by|
| Followed by|
In the blasted heart of the new America, Ryan Cawdor and his band of warrior-survivalists search for hidden caches of food, weapons and technology -- the legacy of a preholocaust society -- stashed in lonely outposts known as redoubts.
When Ryan ingests bacteria-infested food, he lies near death -- his body paralyzed but his mind traveling rapidly back to his early days in the Deathlands... moving through the southwest on post-nuke vehicles called warwags...and his run-in with the Baron.
Towse, near what was once Albuquerque, is a ville in a freakishly beautiful landscape populated by scabbies and armed Apaches. Baron Alias Carson and his bejeweled wife, Sharona, welcome Ryan, J.B. Dix and the Tracker to their treacherous world.
In the Deathlands the past is a dream. The future is a nightmare.
After jumping out of the last redoubt in Minnesota, they find themselves in a new gateway. This gateway has walls of silver. Open exiting the gateway itself, they discover that the room is boobie trapped. After a quick study of the trap, J.B. determines that the rest of the base is wired to go.
The group of friends head out of the control chamber and lower the security door. Instead of it making a controlled descent, the door comes crashing down, its gears smashed to hell. They have no choice but to explore the rest of the redoubt in hopes of finding a way out of it, without setting off any of the numerous boobie traps. After searching every single open doorway and corridor, they realize that they are trapped like rats. Both J.B. and Jak figure that there may be an area near the top portion of the base where they can dig their way out.
It appears as if the redoubt was completely cleaned out. Luckily for the friends they find a section that contained a dozen cots as well as enough self heats and canned goods to last them several years if they are careful. Ryan takes a container that is dented, and even with the protests of Mildred and Krysty, eats the contents which have gone bad over the years. Too stubborn for his own good, he nearly immediately begins to feel ill.
In the middle of the night he awakens and barely makes it to the bathroom before he vomits and voids his bowels. He collapses into unconsciousness as the rest of the group find him. His mind begins to wander back to a time when he was with Trader and the convoy, about ten years back.
His first recollection is that of having an arm wrestling contest with a man named Lex. Ryan considers breaking the man's wrist but holds off. Trader knows exactly what his war captain was contemplating. He wins the match none the less . They make camp near a river and rest for the night. The next day Ryan leads a recon into the ruins in hopes of finding some evidence of a hidden redoubt. Instead they find the corpses of a woman and her child, who were brutally murdered. They continue to explore, but Ryan and Hunaker leave the others for a quick round of sex.
They encounter an old man named Walt who left a crude warning that Scabbies were near by. After talking to him, they are about to continue their recon when Walt is killed by a single shot to the head by a .50 caliber round fired from a black powder weapon. The rest of the group take shelter in his home and are surrounded by sixteen scabbies. Faking that they are out of ammunition, they sucker the muties into approaching. They then press the attack, killing all but a single scabbie woman who manages to escape. A tiny woman named Lox is killed in the fight.
Upon returning to the convoy, Trader orders twelve people to go and retreive Lox's body. They bury her alongside a river and pay their respects. After the loss and no signs of the redoubt, Trader decides to head south. He heard of a ville that had extra ammunition and fuel to trade off.
A man named Nick makes a bet with the crew that he could name off twenty different types of tree's in two miles. He barely manages to win the bet. That night the convoy stops in the ruins of a farm fortress and Ryan ends up having sex with a young woman named July and Hunaker at the same time. The next morning he has wounds to prove just how rough a lover Hunaker can be.
They are about a day's travel from this ville Trader heard about when they come across a small convoy of five vehicles. Two of the vehicles are burning and the defenders are all about to buy the farm when Trader orders an attack against the well armed and disciplined attackers. After rescuing the convoy, Ryan meets a beautiful woman with bright red hair and green eyes, she had her daughter with her, a girl named Krysty. It is VERY possible that this is Krysty Wroth. He was quite hard on the survivors.
Trader tells Ryan he shouldn't have been so hard but the fact that women and children were put at risk in travelling to a new location, made him quite angry. Trader and Ryan nearly come to blows over it. This is when trader mentions that his guts have been causing him some trouble.
The next day they come across a toll bridge and are allowed to pass only after they agree to pay a toll when they come to the ville of Towse. An hour later they arrive in the ville and meet with the baron, Alias Carson and his wife, Sharona. They also meet the Baron's head sec man, Ferryman.
Ryan discovers that Sharona is quite attracted to him, and he to her. He takes a strong dislike to the sec man, Ferryman. During the meal they discover how Alias came to possess so many riches as well as how he took over the ville of Towse.
After the meal they all head their separate ways. Ryan heads into the old burnt out church and finds a severed finger. On the finger he discovers a ring which he promptly takes. On the way out, he encounters two sec men who want to take him back to not only interrogate but rape him. Before he ends up fighting them, Trader show's up, as well as Ferryman. The encounter ends peacefully.
Later on a man named McMurty rides into town with news that a albino lion was spotted. He tells the baron about it and he immediately puts together a hunting party to track down the albino mountain lion as he wants it's pelt. He tries to convince Ryan to come along, but he refuses. Sharona, while walking to join her husband, twists her ankle and is forced to stay behind. Of course the injury was faked, as all she wanted to do was get Ryan up to her room so they could have sex.
Several days pass and they still haven't received the gas Carson promised. They learn that Sharona is actually his second wife. He accidentally killed his first wife, a woman named Consuela. Ever since, he has never carried a weapon. Trader, impatient, demands to know when the fuel is coming. Carson tells him to leave for several days and then return. He tells trader about a potential redoubt. He gives Trader a map to this redoubt and the convoy leaves.
Three days later they are in the hills near the lost redoubt. The terrain is really bad and they are forced to head the rest of the way on foot. When the arrive at the redoubt they are ambushed by a warband of Apache Indians. Two of Traders people are killed and the retreat into the redoubt. To Traders disappointment, they discover that the redoubt was cleaned out a long time ago. The Apaches offer to let them go as long as they send out blind night (the ferryman) as the mistake Ryan for the sec man.
Trader heads out to talk to the Apache leader. He manages to convince them not to kill Ryan as soon as he comes out. Instead they agree to have Ryan fight a duel. If he wins, they all go free as the gods have proven that he is not Blind Night. If he loses Trader and his people still get to go free as they will have extracted their revenge.
A huge man, nearly seven foot six is the Apache's champion. His name is Dark Cloud or Man who tore his mother's belly apart. They fight, and in the end Ryan breaks the huge Indian's knee and wounds him severely. They want it to the death, but Ryan refuses to kill the man until he attempts to help the man to his feet. The man attempts to grab Ryan and kill him. He loses it and kills the giant with his own weapon.
When they return to Towse they discover that only a single tanker is their waiting for them. It isn't enough to fill the wags. Trader is very angry. He finds out that another tanker is on its way and that they should just be patient. Trader asks Ryan to spend some time with Sharona and find out what he can about what's really going on. Reluctantly, he agrees to this.
Later that day Sharona decides that she wants to do some painting. Asks Ryan to come with her. Ryan, Sharona and two sec men mount up on motor cycles and leave the ville, heading towards a ruined ranch. Along the way one of the sec man's bikes over heat and they are left behind, albeit reluctantly as Ryan and Sharona continue to the ranch.
Alone, they have sex twice. She offers to let Ryan take over as baron of Towse as long as he killed Alias for her. At this time a terrifying storm is brewing and the two sec men arrive to catch them in the middle of the act. They plan to kill Ryan. Sharona offers herself to them as she slips a blade to Ryan. A brief fight breaks out and both sec men are soon staring into the sky. To cover the marks of the killing, Ryan puts the two corpses out into the storm.
The next day the storm ends and they are able to leave the shelter and return to the ville. Ryan tells Sharona that its over between them. She warns him to watch his back around the Baron, as he is planning something. They agree that the two men were caught out in the storm and died from it. The evidence of the killings were wiped away by the storm itself. Alias grudgingly accepts this as the truth.
Ryan wakes up as the last of the gas finally arrives. The war wags are finally topped up and they are invited to stay and attend a children's party which will take place that night. They agree to this. Ferryman confronts Ryan and tells him that he knows that Ryan is responsible for the death of the two men, even though there was no evidence. He promises Ryan that he is going to pay for the deaths.
Throughout the party the tension is high. Trader and his people know that something is going to happen. As soon as the final firework is set off, the baron's sec men attack. Its a running fight to reach the war wags, and they lose a total of seventeen people, plus a huge number of wounded. The baron loses far more. They leave the ville, travel to the bridge where they encounter a blockade. Trader orders one of the war wag missiles to be fired and it destroys the blockade entirely. They immediately turn around and return to the ville to extract their revenge for the ambush.
Splitting up into three separate groups they head into town and attack. The villes defenders are quickly routed and destroyed. Ryan catches Ferryman. Ferryman attempts to get Ryan to let him go, but too much blood has been spilled and the price is too high. In the end Ryan shoots him three times, killing the man.
As they are scouring the ruined ville for surviving sec men, Ryan encounters Sharona. She convinces him to let her go unmolested. They don't hate each other, and Sharona still cares for him. She heads north, managing to evade Apache war parties several times. She knows that she is carrying Ryan's child.
Ryan finally begins to recover from the disease, thanks to the medical cocktail Mildred was able to concoct. He spends nearly five days recovering before they decide that he is strong enough to travel. In the off chance that they may not be able to escape, Doc tells them that there is enough food to feed them and any children they may have for eighty-seven years after they all die of old age.
They are determined not to let that happen though. They place explosives around the damaged sec door leading to the gateway. After the explosives detonate, they discover that it wasn't enough to blast open the doors. They also discover that it triggered the redoubts self destruct. They head towards the highest point of the redoubt and dig their way out. Racing down the hill, they hide under a satellite dish as the redoubt detonates. If they weren't under the dish, they would surely have died. J.B. pulls out his sextant and takes a reading to try and find out where they are.
- This book was authored by Laurence James, also marks the first true mention of Sharona Carson, and a stronger hint of the existence of Dean Cawdor.
- At the end of the novel, Sharona Carson placed her hand upon her stomach, as if she knew she were pregnant, its possible she had doomie powers, as most ladies often discover they are pregnant after six weeks.
- 2nd Edition released April, 1999.
- Audio Cassette released January, 1999.
- Harry Dean Stanton was one of Laurence James's favourite actors, so much so that he had Doc tell a tale where he and Harry Dean Stanton went to San Francisco.