The Defiant Agents (1962) is the third SF novel in the Time Traders series, following Galactic Derelict. In the previous volume, Travis, Ross, Ashe and Renfry inadvertantly travel through space on a Baldie starship, stopping once at a refueling point where silver apes rule the night. Then they reach the center of the Baldie empire and assist a tribe of flying creatures against their enemies.
In this novel, Travis Fox is an Apache indian with post-graduate training in Archaeology. After returning from his trip in time and space, he convinces some fellow Apaches to volunteer to settle on a extrasolar planet named Topaz (for its yellow skies). Forty are selected for their skills in various areas.
Dr. James Ruthven is informed of a leak of information on Topaz to the Russians by a mole within the time agency. He insists upon pushing the training of the volunteers by using the untried Redax machine. This device raises ancestorial memories from the brain, immersing the subjects in vivid dreams of the past. The Council agrees and the Apaches are treated without their consent.
While attempting to deliver the Apaches to Topaz, the starship is attacked by Russian space mines. The pilot manages to overcome heavy g-forces to activate a new defensive system. The attacking devices are diverted for a few moments and the damaged ship crashlands under auto-pilot.
The crew members in the pilot compartment are killed in the crash, as are many of the passengers. Yet some survive and so do a pair of very intelligent coyotes in the cargo area. The coyotes are the first to escape the ship, but Travis is close behind them.
In this story, the surviving Apaches gather around a campfire to plan their activities. Their thoughts are confounded by memories of the past. Some are fully living among their ancestors, but others are less affected.
Travis is one of the few relatively free of ancient memories. He is also the most experienced with galactic planets. But he is a loner and doesn't really want to be chief. Moreover, he has been accepted by the coyotes, so the others tend to think of him as a witch and the coyotes as spirits.
Deklay is among the ones living fully in the past. Although he knows that they are not on Earth, his thoughts have turned to the ancient ways. He thoroughly distrusts anyone who is not an Apache.
Jil-Lee is less affected by the stimulated memories. So are Buck and Nolan. Several of the younger Apaches are also relatively free of the memories.
The Apaches decide to find a more inhabitable area in which to live. Travis scouts ahead and discovers a canyon with a good spring of water and numerous game trails. The Apaches move there and build a camp site.
After the Apaches are settled. Travis prepares to scout for signs of the Baldies. He is convinced to take Tsoay -- a younger Apache -- with him. On the second day, they find fresh horse dung.
This tale brings the Apaches into alliance with Mongols runaways from Russian masters. Unfortunately, the Mongols are sensitive to Russian mind control devices and turn against the Apaches on several occasions. Then Travis finds three towers constructed by the long gone Baldies.
The story pits the primitively armed Apaches and Mongols against the better armed and equipted Russians. Most of the Mongols are still trapped within their main camp. Yet the Russians must be defeated or all of them -- and maybe everyone on Earth -- will suffer. Enjoy!
Highly recommended for Norton fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of primitive warriors, advanced enemies, and ancient foes.
-Arthur W. Jordin