Earth Is Heaven

The story begins where Book 26, The Coming Event, left off, with Dumarest and the crew of the Erce en route to the coordinates where they believe Earth to be.  Earl discovers that the life support systems have been sabotaged but avoids nearby worlds where repairs could be made because he knows the Cyclan will be waiting.  At the very last moment they land on an uninhabited, nameless world where Craig is killed by a local life form (lucky for him, as Dumarest had already deduced that Craig was the saboteur).

They limp to the planet Krantz on tanked air, but lack of an engineer forces them to pay an exorbitant fee for repairs.  Dumarest conveniently saves the life of Eunice, a local noblewoman, but a reward is not immediately forthcoming, and the ship will be forfeit if the repair bill isn’t paid soon.  Earl is approached by Belkner, a member of an indentured servant caste called the Ypsheim.  Belkner will pay the Erce crew to smuggle him and some of his people off-planet and out of bondage.  Earl is intrigued mostly because the Ypsheim all bear a caste scar in the form of a symbol of Earth (the one he learned about in Book #18, Incident on Ath).  Earl also learns that Lyle Talion, engineer for another ship in port, has been arrested and will not be bailed out by his captain.  If Earl accepts Belkner’s offer he can pay the repair bill and Talion’s fine (if he agrees to join the Erce crew as engineer).

Unfortunately, Urich Sheiner, fiancée of Eunice and captain of the guard, is on the case.  He’s a pretty sharp cookie, and has the added advantage of being of the Ypsheim, having escaped and made his fortune off-world (a fact Dumarest realizes almost too late because Urich had the caste scar removed).  Eunice has been infatuated with Dumarest since he saved her life, and Urich sees this situation as a convenient way to get rid of the romantic competition and some local troublemakers at the same time.  The trumped-up charges against Talion were Urich’s doing, since the Erce needs an engineer before it can take off, and it has to take off before he can blast it out of the sky (he doesn’t want to arrest the conspirators, since he’s afraid Eunice would use her influence to free Dumarest).

Dumarest accepts Belkner’s offer, lures Eunice to the ship, kidnaps Urich when he comes looking for Eunice, and uses the two high-profile hostages to bluff his way off-world.  Urich is amused to learn that Earl is taking the Ypsheim to Earth, and tells him why: the Ypsheim are group of stellar wanderers who believe they fled a hellish Earth in the distant past, and who eventually settled on Krantz and became indentured to that world’s ruling class.  Earth is the last place they would want to go.  Dumarest and Urich form an uneasy truce as Urich realizes he can’t return to Krantz lest his secret (he is of the servant Ypsheim caste) be exposed, and Dumarest eventually convinces Urich that he has no interest in Eunice.  They tell the Ypsheim their destination is “Heaven”.

Upon arrival, Earl finds a world more pleasant than the Earth he remembers, but chalks it up to the fact that they landed in an equatorial region where the Ypsheim could start a viable settlement (while he grew up in a small region closer to one of the poles).  Almost immediately there is trouble.  There is a semi-intelligent winged species they discover has been genetically engineered from human stock, and after the Ypsheim get over their original amazement that “Heaven” has “angels”, they proceed to kill and enslave them.

This leads to several catastrophic clashes with the “angels”, during one of which Dumarest captures one of the creatures.  Dumarest learns to communicate with it (in a fashion), while simultaneously dealing with infighting and attempts by the Ypsheim to coerce help and weapons from the Erce crew.  With all this going on, Dumarest and Ysanne only get one opportunity to search for Earth’s fabled treasure, and all they find are ancient ruins with a Terridae casket and not much else.  Oh, and speaking of the Terridae, you remember that Dumarest never got around to killing Cyber Vire in Book #26, The Coming Event?  By now Vire has decoded the same mnemonic that Ysanne realized contained the coordinates of Earth, passed that information on to his superiors, and sure enough, here come the Cyclan, led by Cyber Avro.

Cyber Avro’s heavily armed ship will disable the Erce if the crew doesn’t hand over Dumarest.  Dumarest attempts to escape by convincing the captured “angel” to fly home and carry Dumarest with it, but he’s too heavy and doesn’t get far.  He is captured by the Ypsheim, who have already talked with Avro and plan to turn Dumarest over, but Ysanne kills a few of them and proceeds to turn him in herself (with Batrun in reluctant tow to carry Dumarest in case she has to burn his legs off).  Worried that the Ypsheim will take revenge (and possibly damage Dumarest’s brain in the process), Avro lets them in.  Bear in mind, Avro has been in contact with the damaged minds in the Cyclan Central Intelligence.  Plus, he insisted on using the fastest ship available to negate Dumarest’s substantial head start, and the experimental drive field has already had debilitating effects on some of the crew.  Avro realizes too late that his logic is impaired.  While Dumarest’s escape attempt and the ensuing betrayal by his former associates were plausible, Avro’s haste to spare Dumarest’s brain from the Ypsheim’s wrath has let them onto his ship without being searched.  Batrun bluffs with a bomb while Dumarest and Ysanne get into a firefight with Avro’s acolytes.  Dumarest injects Avro with the dominant half of the Affinity Twin (having already injected the captured “angel” with the submissive half). Avro's body falls comatose while his mind is in control of the "angel's" body.

The somewhat disoriented Cyclan crew scurry for medical attention for their leader, but Ysanne has been mortally wounded.  At least she dies happy, as Earl confesses that he loves her, and she believes that she has granted his lifelong dream: finding Earth.  And then Earl has Batrun compare the local star to the spectrogram he acquired in Book #15, Spectrum of a Forgotten Sun, It’s close enough for the stars to look identical to the naked eye, but not a match.  Earl realizes this is merely the planet on which the Terridae was based prior to building Zabul, probably chosen during their Exodus for its uncanny similarity to Earth.  He plans to stay with the Erce until they drop the surviving Ypsheim (now appropriately apologetic) on another world they can settle, and get to a world with significant space commerce, where he will sell his share of the Erce to Batrun.

Clues of Earth
None.  Worse, the coordinates Dumarest got from the Terridae were not actually Earth’s, but the planet on which the Terridae was based prior to building Zabul.  Dumarest does learn of the Ypsheim, a sect which fled Earth around the time of the cataclysm that turned it from a paradise into the barren, scarred world Earl knows.  Unfortunately, their legends contain no clues as to Earth’s location because their belief is the polar opposite from the Original People; the Ypsheim believe Earth is a living hell (actually worse than Dumarest remembers it being, and his memories aren’t very happy) and they have no intention of returning.

The Cyclan
Cyber Prime Elge has been terminated.  Cyber Avro, the strongest candidate to replace him, insists on taking personal change of the hunt for Dumarest instead, and the second candidate, Cyber Marle, becomes Cyber Prime.  Avro simultaneously seeks Dumarest and pursues Elge’s work, and although his logic seems to be mildly compromised, he handles contact with the afflicted brains far better than Okos or Elge did.  Avro finds Dumarest, but perhaps because of the contamination Avro’s logic is a little slow.  Dumarest is able to kill a handful of acolytes and inject Avro with the Affinity Twin, placing Avro’s mind in the body of a local life form.

The Journey
Book 27, Earth is Heaven, begins in deep space on board the Erce, en route from Jourdan to coordinates where Dumarest and the crew believe Earth to be.  They stop at a nameless world listed only by its number and from there go to Krantz.  From Krantz they complete their intended journey, finding not Earth, but the world called Heaven.

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