A man running from something climbs to the top of the Space Needle. The man is the captain of the Cutterhawk a Californian destroyer that disappeared while answering a distress call from Seattle. He manages to broadcast a distress call that his ship was sunk by a mine and the survivors are prisoners of a mutant called Manta. Luckily Hickok is the one to intercept the call.
At the same time Blade is back from California and is told of the fate of the Cutterhawk. So being the head of the Freedom Force he feels responsible to rescue the crew. He also has to decide who will replace him as the head warrior for the Home. So he picks his three top candidates Hickok, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Yama to accompany him.
The VTOL drops the four just north of Seattle. The city was neutron bombed during to war so it is relatively intact. Of course there are many dangers. Rabid packs of dogs, giant crabs and flocks of mutant seagulls that will peck you to death. The city is controlled by two factions. In the east is a human gang called the Sharks. They are ruled by a man named Tiger. Tiger is a well educated man with a love of art and literature especially Edgar Allen Poe. He is also convinced that he is the most superior man on the planet and destined to dominate everyone else.
The west is controlled by Manta and his Brethren. They are gill-men that Manta and his similarly mutated sister spawned that number over two hundred. Manta is a dour mutant that takes seriously his manifest destiny of world conquest by his inbred Brethren. He hates humans and keep them as slaves in his Humarium, an aquarium for humans. Now it is up the Blade and his fellow warriors to teach these megalomaniacs a lesson in humility.
Another fun entry in the Endworld series. The main point of this book sets up how Blade will be in both this and the Blade series. The Family Elders are divided on who should succeed Blade. Plato convinces Blade to use the VTOL’s to come back for a week every month. This gives time for Plato to convince the Elders to appoint Blade’s choice which is Hickok. So now Blade will be super busy with two series.
Its the first day on the job for Blade as leader of the Freedom Force. The Hurricane VTOL’s are bringing in the recruits from each of the factions to the compound north of Los Angeles. It becomes apparent that the group is a mixed bag of individuals. Some are known to Blade and are solid. Others are not up to standards and one is an actual psychopath. The Civilized Zone actually sends one of the Doktor’s surviving mutants. A man named Grizzly is a hybrid of a grizzly bear and a man. He also has a deep prejudice against humans. Blade begins to wonder what he has gotten himself into.
Well the force gets its first mission soon after. A reporter named Athena Morris for the L.A Times has recently escaped from captivity. A mutant called The Spider has a compound in the wilderness of northern California. His hatchlings have been kidnapping women from surrounding towns to impregnate and create more hatchlings for his army. Now with Athena as a guide the untested Freedom Force head out to put an end to the Spider’s reign of terror.
So the question is does the world need another book series starring Blade? Of course it does. You can never have enough Blade. So what makes this different from the Endworld series? Well its set in California so there will be plenty of missions on the west coast. The force is composed of a variety of individuals with a whole bunch of conflicting personalities making for interesting conflicts both internal and external of the group. And of course there is still plenty of opportunities to travel to exotic locations. Meet strange mutants, warlords and other various lowlifes and kill them.
So here are the role call of the characters.
Blade- the Family’s recruit and leader of the Force.
Boone- the Calvary’s recruit. A skilled gunfighter almost as good as Hickok.
Thunder- the Flathead Indian’s recruit. A skilled tracker and warrior.
Spader- the Mole’s recruit. Was volunteered by the Mole’s leader and resents being there. Is killed on the first mission against the Spider.
Kraft- the Clan’s recruit. A punk that’s quick with his switchblade. Joined because of the women he heard about in California and also wanted the action. Oh yeah he loves to kill and is somewhat of a psychopath.
Grizzly- the Civilized Zone recruit. A bear hybrid creation of the Doktor. Has strong retractable claws and probably the deadliest member of the force. Also has a deep hatred for humans.
Sgt. Havoc- California’s recruit. A professional soldier in the California Army.
Athena Morris- Becomes officially part of the force at the end. Serves as an embedded reporter for the unit.
Some recurring characters
General Miles Gallagher- California general that is liaison with the Force. Doesn’t support California’s entry into the Federation but has a grudging respect for Blade.
Governor Melnick- the Governor of the California Free State. The Force was his idea and his government is one footing the bill for the endeavor.
The California Free State is going to join the Freedom Federation. California is the only state to maintain it’s integrity after the war and is now a powerful and stable democracy. Blade and Hickok accompany Plato to a meeting of the Federation leaders to Anaheim. Right after getting off one of California’s VTOL Hurricane aircraft, a sniper tries to take out Plato. Later the limo they are riding in is attacked by a mortar barrage on the freeway. At the hotel a soldier starts spraying his M-16 at them. It doesn’t take Blade long to realize that someone is seriously out the get them.
Blade and Hickok find out that the conference is targeted by an international guild of assassins lead by a creepy guy named Kraken. The guild was hired by Primator the crazy computer that runs Androxia. Primator wants to sabotage California’s entry into the Freedom Federation and also get his revenge on Blade. Blade and Hickok defeat the guild and California joins the Federation. It is decided at the end to form a small strike force made up of volunteers from each faction to combat an threats to the member states. Guess who is chosen to lead it.
Well it had to happen eventually. Blade and Hickok visit Disneyland. Sadly the amusement park has fallen on hard times since the Big Blast. A giant mutant alligator and inbred cannibals now infest the amusement park. Definitely not a family friendly place to visit.
So the big event that happens in this book is California’s entry to the Freedom Federation and the formation of the Freedom Force. It sets up the spinoff series Blade which we will examine next week.
Happy Easter everyone.