Jandrax 25

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

It has been suggested that all of the warfare between the two sects was a result of political pretensions given the guise of a holy war. This is not true. I knew my father better than anyone, both then and later; he was a truly religious man in both the best and worst senses of the word. He felt that the search for God’s word among the complex and contradictory lessons of the “Great Religions of Earth” was a holy task, one that had been concluded correctly, once and for all time, in the Danneline Monomythos. He would not abide attacks upon it, or Baylor’s attempts to have his version of the Monomythos elevated to official status. That their secular pretensions also clashed was a strictly secondary consideration.

***

When the war broke out there were eleven thousand colonists on Hallam, about a thousand of them living in a cluster of villages called Hallam, which was also the capital “city” and starport. There Baylor and my father fought as they returned from services in their respective churches. By that night the entire town was fighting and half of it was ablaze.

We abandoned our post that night and took to the hills. Most of the first-shippers had been Dannelites and the Pertoskans who came later were of a different breed that had gravitated to the towns. In Hallam City we were outnumbered three to one. In fact, my father had threatened to abandon the house and move into the outback for years; only his politicking had kept him tied to the place.

Hallam was set on the floodplain of a minor river near its mouth and backed by a rugged coastal mountain range. We eased out of the house some hours before dawn and were at the base of the mountains by sunrise. There was no pursuit.

We began a guerrilla war, slipping down from the mountains to raid, pillage, and burn. I went on my first raid within a month of the outbreak of hostilities. Papa, Mr. Thoms, and Sabine Conners slipped down to a Pertoskan farm in hopes of stealing burros. I remained with Papa’s automatic pistol on a hillock overlooking the house; I was to lay down covering fire should they be spotted. No one actually expected me to hit anybody, just to keep their heads down.

They were waiting for us; how they knew that we were coming I never did find out. As our men approached the corrals, the Pertoskans fired from ambush. All three went down. I was so startled by the suddenness and shaken by the roar of gunfire that I forgot to fire. Then one of the Pertoskans stood up, laughing, and I shot him three times. He crumpled like a ragdoll.

Then there was only silence.

Several minutes later I saw movement in the bushes outside the Pertoskan house and emptied the rest of the clip. Somebody screamed. I reloaded and waited.

After ten minutes the bushes below me rustled. I covered the area and waited until Papa’s voice reached me. He was dragging Sabine Conners; Mr. Thoms was dead.

That was the beginning.

Any boy on the frontier becomes an efficient woodsman and is tough in mind and body. At twelve I had drawn blood, though I am no longer proud of that achievement. In the months that followed I became a hardened and highly efficient guerilla. My size allowed me to slip into places a grown man would not have dared, and the revolver I captured some weeks into our exile made me as deadly as any adult. What my father thought of the changes in me, I did not know. As always he was aloof, brooding now about the loss of his lands, his position, and his daughter.

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