Jandrax 24

Margaret was all dry-eyed business. She looked down at Mama and said, “I saw Jennie. She’s dead.”

It was a flat pronouncement, with no more emotion than a discussion of the weather. At first it didn’t sink in, then Mama began to cry, open-eyed, open-mouthed, a mad, rising sound. I shut it out, shut out my sister’s memory, and fled down toward the fighting.

I rounded the comer and looked out across the village square, keeping down. Bodies littered the ground. Some were twisted grotesquely or bore visible wounds. Those I could accept. It was the ones who lay quietly as if in repose, their wounds hidden, that bothered me most. I knew them all, first-shippers and newcomers alike, both Dannelites and Pertoskans.

A group of men leaped up and charged my position.

I swung Papa’s gun around then recognized Papa in the lead. Dust danced near their feet and I swung back toward the snipers, fired, hit nothing. They broke over me and took cover behind the same overturned cart I had sheltered in.

Papa’s face was smeared and bloody. He spared me only one comment, “Reload, dammit!” Shocked back to attention, I did so.

We waited behind the cart. Occasionally one of us or one of them tried a shot, most of which went wild. One of theirs burned Sabine Conners’ shoulder. Probably we did no more damage than that.

After a while my father turned to me and asked, “Are your mother and the children safe?”

“Mother and Alan are at the house.”

“Where’s Jennie?”

I gestured, “Out there . . . dead.”

For a moment he said nothing, then he leaped up and fired, releasing rounds in a single roar of sound until his automatic was empty. He screamed. Three shots came from the enemy; two missed. The third hit the cart just before Papa and exploded a board into a hundred splinters, all of which hit him. He went down, cursing and bleeding wildly. Sabine and I were on him in a moment, but his wounds, though numerous, were superficial. We caught him up and retreated to the house.

***

Damn this cold planet for dredging up memories. Still, I could probably have forgiven, could probably react to these people around me as people, not simply as Monists, if there were no sequel to the memory. But in the end it is not what happens to us, but what we do ourselves, that affects us most.

***

Daniel Andrax, my father, came to Hallam’s World on the first ship, worked hard, built a place for himself and his family, and aided in the building of the community. He proposed and largely supported the drive to raise money for the importation of fruit trees. He fought cannys – deadly, persistent predators – and was in the forefront of the drive to bring in the dogs that finally finished them off.

Daniel Andrax was a deeply religious man, a Danneline Monist and a minister of that faith. He was a brilliant leader, bath religious and secular, a good provider, and a good father. He was also a zealot with little time for opinions other than his own, but that is not an uncommon failing.

He was not unlike Marcel Dumezil.

A decade after Hallam’s World was settled, the second shipload of colonists arrived. Natural increase had already doubled the population of the original colony. For the Ministers of Colonization this is the prime index of success, and in the next decade twelve more colony ships arrived. In the influx Daniel Andrax could have easily lost his preeminence, but he did not.

A conflict based on the doctrinal differences between the two Monist denominations did develop, and Baylor became the Pertoskan champion.

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