War World: The Burning Eye is a survey volume covering entire War World series, starting with Haven's discovery during the early CoDominium years to the crash landing of an Imperial space liner over a thousand years later.
Born of rebellion and civil war, Haven is home to diverse races and nationalities. Discovered in the CoDominium era and originally settled by the Harmonies—a group of pacifists—Haven was soon thrown into turmoil when the CoDo Bureau of ReLocation dumped millions of Earth's worst criminals, fractious minorities, refugees, nationalists and the great unwashed upon her shores. Cut off from the rest of humanity after the Succession Wars, bombed-back to near Medievalism by the Saurons so that its inhabitants cannot reveal their presence to the rest of the galaxy, Haven is a world forever at war. In this, the first of the War World series, you are introduced to Haven and its inhabitants.
John F. Carr is a longtime figure in the SF world, both as a novelist and an editor. In this work, he collects short stories written in a military SF setting, Haven, originally created by Jerry Pournelle, whose authors include Paul Anderson, David Drake, Janet Morris, S.M. Stirling, and Harry Turtledove. Cut off from the rest of humanity after the Succession Wars, bombed-back to near Medievalism by the Saurons so that its inhabitants cannot reveal their presence to the rest of the galaxy, Haven is a world forever at war. – Cat Rambo
Great expanded reissue of this classic anthology. John Carr is doing a great job expanding both the the Haven and CoDominium universes. If you remember the old anthology and liked it, you are sure to love its expanded younger brother.– Amazon Review
This is a great reissue of the War World series. I particularly enjoyed some of the introductions to some of the stories.– Amazon Review
FIRE AND ICE
Haven, 2089 A.D.
"Devil's Heater ETA five minutes, Sarge," Darrow said conversationally. He wrestled the stick two-handed, while his gaze jumped back and forth between the instruments and the blurred terrain beyond the windshield.
The ice-sharpened faces and scraggy vegetation of the narrow rift valley shot by at 240 KPH, ten meters down and closer off each wing. Gale-force gusts slammed into the transport. It boogied, groaned, and scraped belly and wingtips. My fingers were putting dents in the duraplast of the copilot's seat armrests. "You sure you've done this before?" I demanded.
"More or less. The idea was, I believe, to avoid detection."
"And the ground."
If I knew what that meant, I don't think I'd like it. But Darrow had chauffeured CoDominium Marines in some heavy action before deserting, so he might know what he was doing. I staggered back to the cabin to check on the rest of the squad.
The red-lit cabin looked like the rear room for Hell. Ski, Preacher, Toglog, White Cloud and Schmidt sat on the facing benches, field-stripping their weapons. One good thing about a black-budget pickup force was that you went first class. White Cloud, our sharpshooter, carried a Gauss gun, while Toglog amped our firepower with a Remington Enforcer over-and-under grenade launcher. The rest of us had CoDominium-issue Kalashnikov 7-mm assault rifles with ten-shot clips. Bandoliers, grenades, commando knives and white cold-weather combat suits with Nemourlon body armor rounded out the tools of our trade.
Toglog and Preacher were passing a flask of castor oil. Boozing on a mission was contra regs, but then so were we.
"Listen up, you grunts!" I yelled over the roar of the engines. "We're almost to our drop point! In case you've forgotten why we're taking this little joyride, I'll refresh your memory. A gang of shimmer stone hijackers is operating out of the Devil's Brewery. It's too well equipped to be local—probably a merc outfit. Our job is to find their base and wipe it! Any questions?"
"Yeah!" White Cloud grunted. "What's for lunch?"
"Your ass, if you screw up! Ski, get these yahoos to rock!"
"On it, Sarge!" The ex-circus strongman from Nowy Krakow was smarter than he looked, which was why he had been slotted for corporal.
I lurched back to the cockpit. Darrow was still hugging ground, but the valley had opened up into a dreary snowbound steppe. Cat's Eye hung in the morning sky like some god's lost marble. Haven was only nominally habitable for terrestrial life around the equator; this far north it didn't even try. The temperature was sub-zero, the air was unbreathably thin, and the native flora and fauna were equally deadly.
"Bloody right!" Darrow yelled eagerly. "That, I daresay, is our target."
I followed his gaze.
If Haven was the asshole of the galaxy, the Devil's Brewery was what came out. Cat's Eye's tidal pull had fractured and crumpled the planet's crust, letting out some of its boiling guts. Active volcanoes mounted guard over several hundred square kilometers of lava rivers and lakes, fumaroles, geysers, and hot springs. Crevasse-shot ice and snow covered the tortured terrain, shaken by frequent quakes. Volcanic ash, rising steam and a permanent blizzard muted the crimson hell-fires.
I licked my lips in anticipation.
The transport knifed into the whiteout of the blizzard. It bucked like a bronco on locoweed, and the screaming of the wind came loud and clear through the double hull. Something with the kick of a SAM slammed the transport upward. "Ice or magma from an explosive eruption," Darrow explained as he veered to miss—barely—a smoking gray cone.
Fire and ice. Mix them together, and you get hell. Like a soldier's soul. I went back to the cabin. "Get them strapped in, Ski! Could get a bit—"
The cockpit was gone. Wind, snow and blood-red light exploded into the cabin. I jammed my arms into safety straps and braced. The cabin started tumbling. Preacher's, "Now I lay me down to sleep—" and White Cloud's war cry were lost in a bedlam of crashing gear and tearing duralloy. The god who had lost his marble took his anger out on what was left of the transport: a roundhouse right, stiff uppercuts, then a flurry of jabs. The punches babbled my head against the cabin plastisteel, while the straps cut into and almost through my arms.
Then I noticed we weren't tumbling anymore. We were down.
The cabin lights were out. I gasped for breath, and the frigid air thrilled my lungs. Fumbling around, I found my helmet and put it on. The combat suit started compressing and warming the air before it got to me.
Shadow shapes were moving and moaning happily in the red-tinted gloom. Switching on my helmet com, I called out, "Anybody have enough sense to suit up?" Silence answered me.
I found and checked out my Kalashnikov by touch, while Ski, Preacher, Toglog, White Cloud and Schmidt reported. Preacher had lost a few teeth from his winning smile, and we were all beaten up, but we were still armed and dangerous.
"Ski," I ordered, "go forward and check on Darrow."
"On it, Sarge." A dark bulk crawled through the crumpled hatchway.
A moment later Ski was back on the corn. "The Brit is squashed against the rear cockpit wall. Messy."
Climbing to my feet, I announced, "Rest break is over, grunts. Up and at 'em." Minus our aerial cover, our com link to HQ, our retrieval and one squad member.
Leaving the cabin wasn't hard; we had our choice of cracks. I led the squad out into the teeth of the beast. The slippery snow made standing hard and walking almost impossible. Despite my suit, the cold and the banshee howling cut to the bone, damping my pleasant glow from the crash. Everything was luridly shadowed, including us. Visibility was a handful of meters.
"Have you had a revelation as to the location of the hijackers' base, Sarge?" Preacher asked. He had gotten the nickname because he was a Harmony from Castell City, but he was an unlikely candidate for salvation. His evangelistic yack was retaliation for the squad's ribbing.
"Well, it ain't here, so let's go find it. I'll take point—Ski, cover the rear."
"On it, Sarge."
I picked a direction, and started fighting through the blizzard. The squad was strung out behind me.
An ice-covered lava flow was the closest thing to a path available. It zigzagged between a tumbled ridge and a deep fissure. Steam and heat roared up from the fissure; I peered into it, and saw bubbling red magma. Wind-driven snow and ash hammered at me.
We passed a hole in the side of a dormant cone which was spewing pale gas. A fumarole. Spotting Schmidt swaying a bit, I dropped back and slapped the filter button on his helmet. "Stay sharp, kraut. I'm not going to be around to wipe your ass for you."
The taciturn little New Rhinelander gave me a one-fingered gesture of thanks.
Forward progress came slowly and awkwardly. Walk. Slip and fall. Walk. Ground tremor knocks you down. Walk. A flying chunk of lava hits you. Walk. Step in a crevasse and trip.
"Does that lava pool over there look familiar, Sarge?" White Cloud grunted.
"I thought it might remind you of home."
"Droll. Very droll."
"Feed the squaw man some sugar," Toglog suggested. "You cheap imitation Genghis Khan."
I let the squad yack. The com transmissions might attract attention, which was what I wanted.
We were in the lee of a steep slope when a sharp tremor started its white face sliding. I yelled, "Avalanche!" and scrambled to get clear. Preacher, Toglog, White Cloud and Ski made it too, but Schmidt disappeared under the pile of ash-darkened snow.
"Can't take him anywhere," I muttered. "Ski!"
"On it, Sarge." Ski went over to the snow pile. Lifting his right arm, he announced, "A magic trick that I learned in the Cracovia Traveling Show. Presto." His arm plunged into the pile, and came-out holding a sputtering Schmidt by the neck.
"Too small. I better throw it back." Ski brushed snow off Schmidt, and put him down.
"Move out, you yahoos!" I growled. "Before the hijackers die of old age!"
The lava flow started up a volcanic cone too steep to climb. We angled across the boulder-littered slope, then slipped and slid into a gorge with weirdly eroded rock formations. Scrawny native grass and shrubs surrounded steaming hot springs. Slogging through knee-high snow drifts, exertion put an edge on my glow. Sweat was keeping my helmet's defogger busy.
Toglog was telling one of his innumerable and interminable war stories. He came from a tribe which roamed the steppe near Novy Tartary, and he was a model of traditional Mongol virtue. "—so I tied one end of the chief's guts to a tree, then I chased him around it until he—"
Suddenly something leaped down from a high ledge, so fast that it was a blur. Our reflex shots missed. It landed on Preacher, knocking him down.
It was a southern cousin of the cliff lion, white instead of grayish-brown, one hundred-plus kilograms of felinoid predator. Roaring like a shuttle engine, it sought Preacher's throat with its slavering jaws. Somehow he managed to get his forearm in the way. They thrashed about in a deepening hole in the snow, while the cliff lion tried to chew through Nemourlon. Preacher's Kalashnikov lay nearby.
The rest of us surrounded the pair, but nobody could get a clear shot. Preacher moaned as the powerful pseudo-cat clawed and raked him.
"Having fun?" I asked.
"Heavenly bliss," he gasped. I caught a brief glimpse of his crazy grin.
"Quit playing with that damned cat," I ordered. "We've got a job to do."
"Spoilsport." But Preacher managed to pull out his knife. He knew he would only get one chance, so he made it count. He plunged the blade behind the massive head, severing the spine. The cliff lion spasmed violently, then went limp.
Preacher rolled the carcass off of him. "The lamb shall lie down with the lion, and the meek shall inherit the Earth."
His forearm armor hadn't been designed to cope with large carnivores. It was intact, but the arm under it was crushed and mangled. I got out my medkit and tied a tourniquet. "Best I can do. Can you handle a rifle?"
Preacher looked blissed-out. "Amen to that, Sarge. I'm ambidextrous."