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The pilgrims descend to Keats, Hyperion's capital. There are scores of people camped out near the spaceport, desperate to leave the planet before war breaks out.
After landing, they are greeted by Theo Lane, Governor-General and the Consul's former aide.
He tells them about all the changes that have taken place during their three-year voyage across space: Hyperion's been inducted into the WorldWeb (that's kind of like the United States taking on a 51st state), and war is looming.
Also, the Shrike Temple, once a huge tourist attraction, has been destroyed. Hmm, people are upset at people who worship a giant, spiked killing machine. We wonder why?
After a drink at a bar, the group is escorted by a shady android named A. Bettik to the barge Benares.
As the ship sets sail, Fedmahn Kassad begins to tell his tale.
The curtain rises to sounds of warfare as The Soldier's Tale: The War Lovers begins.
Wow, Kassad looks great for being over 1,000 years old.
Oh wait, we find out that he's actually in a virtual-reality type simulation of battle as part of his training. Neat! Eat your heart out, Xbox Kinect. This is how you use your body as a controller. Uh, never mind: "There were tales of cadets receiving fatal wounds in the […] sims and being pulled dead from the immersion creches" (2.182). On second thought, we'll stick with our current-generation video games.
The battle rages on, and on, and on. In case you didn't know, war is hell. Kassad finishes the battle locked in physical combat with a French soldier.
The Frenchman almost overpowers Kassad, but someone intervenes and saves him.
His rescuer isn't another soldier. She's a woman. To Kassad, she's kind of a babe. And that's evidently enough, because, "They made love in a sudden shaft of late October light with a carpet of leaves and clothes beneath them and a film of blood and sweat oiling the sweet friction between them" (2.227).
Ladies, if you're ever trying to romance Kassad, watch Saving Private Ryan first. He'll consider that foreplay.
As his tale continues, we hear more stories of battle, then sex, battle, then sex. Kassad isn't sure if this Mystery lady (he calls her Mystery) is real or a simulation (she says she is real), but he enjoys hooking up with her nonetheless.
Eventually she stops visiting him, but Kassad quickly rises through the ranks of FORCE, the intergalactic military.
Kassad becomes infamous when he interferes in the uprising on the planet Qom-Riyadh and executes the New Prophet with a concentrated satellite beam.
That night, Mystery visits Kassad for the first time in years.
Later, Kassad is involved in the Ouster invasion on Bressia. It's some intense Call of Duty-style combat, all blasting bombs and ground warfare.
To end the carnage, Kassad calls in a brutal space strike.
And what could be more romantic than the death of thousands? Not much, at least not to Kassad and Mystery: "[Kassad] fell asleep amid the flame and screams and felt the touch of her long fingers on his cheek and the soft compression of her breasts against him" (2.299).
It's too early for a victory celebration, though. Kassad is wounded two days after the retreat of the Ousters when someone accidentally treads on a booby trap, blowing up the building Kassad is in.
Kassad is evacuated in a medic ship, where he's nursed back to health.
Unfortunately, Ousters attack the medic ship above Hyperion. This man just cannot catch a break.
What follows is a gut-wrenching escape, equal parts heroic and harrowing, ending when Kassad manages to hijack an Ouster spaceship and crash land on Hyperion.
He wakes up in a large room that seems to belong to Mystery. She speaks to him for the first time and calls herself Moneta.
After a few nights of lovin', Moneta leads Kassad toward the Time Tombs. Moneta explains he can't go inside them because they're moving backward through time. Moneta says that she is moving backward through time, too: "Your past. My future" (2.437).
Through the sandy desert haze, Kassad can make out a giant tree of thorns with Ousters and other bodies impaled on the spikes.
At the edge of the valley, Moneta enters into some weird little room in the cliff, where she pulls out a magical little orb that coats Kassad in a bodysuit of seamless silver.
Moneta tells Kassad that it's time to defeat his enemies, the Ousters. The Shrike arrives, and it leads the two of them into battle.
Kassad learns that the Shrike—or as Moneta calls him, the Pain Lord—can control time.