Darkover Landfall by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Darkover Landfall Marion Zimmer Bradley

Darkover Landfall Marion Zimmer Bradley


Chapter ONE

Chapter TWO

Chapter THREE

Chapter FOUR

Chapter FIVE

Chapter SIX

Chapter SEVEN

Chapter EIGHT

Chapter NINE

Chapter TEN

Chapter ELEVEN

Chapter TWELVE





Chapter ONE

The landing gear was almost the least of their worries; but it made a serious problem in getting in and out. The great starship lay tilted at a forty‑five degree angle with the exit ladders and chutes coming nowhere near the ground, and the doors going nowhere. All the damage hadn’t been assessed yet–not nearly-‑but they estimated that roughly half the crew’s quartets and three‑fourths of the passenger sections were uninhabitable.

Already half a dozen small rough shelters, as well as the tent like field hospital, had been hastily thrown up in the great clearing. They’d been made, mostly out of plastic sheeting and logs from the resinous local trees, which had been cut with buzz‑saws and timbering equipment from the supply materials for the colonists. All this had taken place over Captain Leicester’s serious protests; he had yielded only to a technicality. His orders were abso­lute when the ship was in space; on a planet the Colony Expedition Force was in charge.

The fact that it wasn’t the right planet was a technical­ity that no one had felt able to tackle… yet.

It was, reflected Rafael MacAran as he stood on the low peak above the crashed spaceship, a beautiful planet. That Is, what they could see of it, which wasn’t all that much. The gravity was a little less than Earth’s, and the oxygen content a little higher, which itself meant a certain feeling of web‑being and euphoria for anyone born and brought up on Earth. No one reared on Earth in the twenty‑first century, lie Rafael MacAran, had ever smelled arch sweet and resinous air, or seen faraway hdlg through such a clean bright morning.

The hills and the distant mountains rose amend them in an apparently endless panorama, fold beyond fold, gradually losing color with distance, turning first dim green, then dimmer blue, and finally to dimmest violet and purple. The great sun was deep red, the color of spilt blood; and that morning they had seen the four moons, like great multicolored jewels, hanging off the horns of the distant mountains.

MacAran set his pack down, pulled out the transit and began to set up its tripod legs. He bent to adjust the instrument, wiping sweat from his forehead. God, how hot it seemed after the brutal ice‑cold of last night and the sudden snow that had swept from the mountain range so swiftly they had barely had time to take shelter! And now the snow lay in melting runnels as he pulled off his nylon parka and mopped his brow.

He straightened up, looking around for convenient horizons. He already knew, thanks to the new‑model alti­meter which could compensate for different gravity strengths, that they were about a thousand feet above sea level‑-or what would be sea level if there were any seas on this planet which they couldn’t yet be sure of. In the stress and dangers of the crash‑landing no one except the Third Officer had gotten a clear look at the planet from space, and she had died twenty minutes after impact while they were still digging bodies out of the wreckage of the bridge.

They knew that there were three planets in this system: one an oversized, frozen‑methane giant, the other a small barren rock, more moon than planet except for its solitary orbit, and this one. They knew that this one was what Earth Expeditionary Forces called a Class M planet –roughly Earth‑type and probably habitable. And now they knew they were on it. That was just about all they knew about it, except what they had discovered in the last seventy‑two hours. The red sun, the four moons, the extremes of temperature, the mountains all had been dis­covered in the frantic intervals of digging out and iden­tifying the dead, setting up a hasty field hospital and drafting every able‑bodied person to care for the injured, bury the dead, and set up hasty shelters while the ship was still inhabitable.

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