|Publication date||October 1995|
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In EMERALD FIRE, Ryan Cawdor and his band of warrior survivalists emerge from a gateway into an abandoned U.S. military complex, now a native shrine to the white gods of pre-blast days. Here the group is given royal treatment, only to discover that privilege has a blood price.
In the Deathlands, you're always too far from home....
LIFE GONE WRONG
The global apocalypse of 2001 did not destroy the world -- only a way of life. Now, three generations after the blast, the indomitable human spirit struggles against the devastation and hopelessness. For one band of survivors, hope lies in hidden gateways, portals to uncertain places of salvation or doom.
BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL
The Amazon Basin remains a land of primordial beauty and primitive people. Ryan Cawdor and his band of warrior survivalists emerge from a gateway into an abandoned U.S., military complex, now a native shrine to the white gods of pre-blast days. Here the group is given royal treatment, only to discover that privilege has a blood price.
In the Deathlands, you're always too far from home....
When the companions awaken from their latest jump, they find themselves somewhere in the tropics - it's very hot, humid, and green. The redoubt consists of nothing more than the gateway and control room, so they open the main door to take a look around. Several butterflies are flitting around; one approaches Dean and attempts to drain blood from his neck, but Ryan knocks it off his son and kills it.
They leave the redoubt, following a path that's been cut through the jungle, and quickly run into a group of natives leaving a sacrifice (an antelope) on an altar in a clearing. They run away when they spot the companions, vanishing into the trees.
A little while later, Dean finds a pool of water, so they all take a break and a bath. Jak spots another pair of natives (possibly the same ones) spying on them, but the natives vanish again when he warns the others.
When everyone's cleaned up and rested, they continue on. Not long after, they run into a group of slavers coming down the trail. The companions hide in the trees, intending to let them pass, but Dean accidentally stands on top of a nest of fire ants, and he can't stay silent. Ryan bluffs the group's leader, Rodrigo Bivar, into thinking they're fellow slavers looking for some slaves of their own. He tells them there's a village not far away and wishes them luck, then leaves.
Further along the trail, they hear gunfire. They investigate, finding another group of natives under attack by more slavers. The companions kill the slavers and go to talk to the natives, who think that Jak is a god. The natives invite the gringos to come back to their village, taking one of the wounded slavers along as well. They're greeted by Itzcoatl, the village chief, who invites them to stay and help against a rival village which is at war with them, as well as the slavers.
That night, Ryan gets up in the middle of the night to take a leak and runs a Jaguar warrior from the other village. He kills the man, and the noise wakes everyone else up. They capture two more, and a fourth escapes.
The next day, while a dead villager is being buried, the companions learn of an abandoned Army base and go investigate. They find little of use there, beyond a tank with a full tank of gas; Dean finds a box full of grenades, but he accidentally drops it, setting off one of the delayed-fuse timers. Everyone scatters before the box goes off in a massive explosion. JB also finds several jars of powder that he can use to make thermite. They head back to the village, where they find that the slaver and Jaguar men are to be sacrificed.
The next day, Ryan and Krysty head off alone for a hike. Several miles from the village, they discover that a horde of army ants is headed right for the village. They hurry back and warn everyone, and Doc tells them of something that an old friend did once. They pile a load of meat, honey, and other food into a huge depression along the way; when the ants climb down to feed, they dump the gasoline from the tank into it and light it. The resulting explosion and fire wipe out the vast majority of the army, saving the village.
After the ants have been dealt with, Ryan and Krysty again decide to go for a walk. They run into some of the native women, who are working in the fields. One of them tells the pair that a young woman reported seeing slavers and a large number of Jaguar slaves - they'd raided the other village. Ryan and Krysty keep going to see if they can find out more.
Down by the river, they encounter a group of women bathing. They warn the natives about the presence of slavers, so the women pack up and flee, but one of them is caught and killed by a large jaguar. Ryan and Krysty are caught out by a sudden downpour and are forced to take shelter. By the time the rain stops, the river has risen so far they can't cross it, so they look for another way across. What they find is a camp where Bivar and some of his men have stopped for the night. They overhear the men talking about raiding the village for more slaves. When the men have gone to sleep, they slip away, cross back over the river (which has subsided) and warn the villagers.
They spend the next few days getting the village ready, while JB and Doc create thermite bombs. When the slavers attack, they're wiped out and the village is saved. At the celebratory feast that night, Itzcoatl slips Jak a poisoned drink. He gives the group an ultimatum: leave, or he won't give Jak the antidote. What they don't know, of course, is that he intends to sacrifice Jak anyway.
They have no choice, so they leave, but they circle back. JB and Doc infiltrate the village, disguising themselves as priests (the priests all wear long robes and large masks), while Ryan and the others watch from a safe vantage. When Jak is taken to the top of the pyramid to be sacrificed, JB tosses some thermite into the fire as a distraction, Ryan shoots the chief and priests with his rifle, and everyone escapes with the villagers hot on their heels. They make it to the gateway and jump out as the natives pour gasoline into the control room and set it on fire.