Voyage From Yesteryear

Pernak tossed up his hands. “I’ve been to take a look at their university and what they do there. You wouldn’t believe it. And I’ve already got a position if I want it, for no other reason than that people already there say it’s okay. You get a house, for nothing . . . a good one. Or they’d build you one however you want it. How can you say no? We’re going to become Chironians. And so will everybody else when they’ve gotten over the voyage. Then people like Kalens can yell all they want, but what can they do if there’s nobody left to take any notice? It’s as I said-you have to start thinking like Chironians.”

“They’ve still got the Army… and a lot of nasty hardware up here,” Lechat reminded him.

Pernak twisted his face through a few contortions, then sighed again. “I know. That crossed my mind too, but what is there to provoke any real trouble? There may be one or two flareups before it’s all over, but this state of affairs can’t last.” He shook his head. “We’re convinced ‘this is the only way to go. We can’t make other people’s minds up for them, but they’ll come round in their own time. Anything else would cause worse problems.”

Lechat nodded reluctantly. “Well, it sounds pretty final, I guess.”

Pernak spread his hands and-nodded. “Yes. Sorry and all that kind of thing, Paul, but that’s how it is.”

Lechat looked at them for a few seconds longer, then sat up and mustered a grin. “Well, what can I say? Good luck

to the pair of you. I hope everything works out.” “Thanks,” Pernak acknowledged.

“I trust we’ll all stay friends and keep in touch,” Eve said.

“You’d better believe it,” Lechat promised.

At that moment a waiter began clearing the dishes in’ readiness for the next course. “Have you heard the news from the surface?” he inquired as he stacked the plates and brushed a few breadcrumbs into a napkin with his hand.

“News?” Lechat looked up, puzzled. “When? We’ve been here for the last hour. There wasn’t anything special then.”

“It came in about fifteen minutes ago,” the waiter said. He shook his head sadly. “Bad news. There’s been a shooting down there . . . in Franklin somewhere. At least one dead—one of our soldiers, I think. It was at some place called The Two Moons.”


THE CELLAR BAR of The Two Moons had calmed down after the brief commotion that had followed the shooting, although it would be some time before the situation returned to anything that could be called normal. Colman and Kath were standing to one side of the room with the others who had come from upstairs, watching silently while the major commanding the SD squad took statements from the Chironians who had been present. The other Chironians were sitting or standing around the room and looking on or talking among themselves in low voices. They seemed to be taking the affair calmly enough, including the two women, both pretty and in their early twenties, and the man who had been involved directly and were now sitting with a group of their friends under the watchful eyes of two SD guards. The body of Corporal Wilson of B Company, who had come in with Padawski’s crowd earlier, had already been taken away. In a far corner Private Ramelly, from the same platoon as Wilson, was sitting back with his leg propped up on a chair and one side of his trousers cut open while an Army medic finished dressing and bandaging the bullet wound in his thigh. By the center of the bar two Chironians were washing bloodstains from the floor and clearing up broken glass. Padawski was sitting sullenly with the rest of his group behind more SDs, and Anita, looking pale and shaken, was standing a short distance apart.

The first that Colman and his companions had heard was a shot from downstairs, followed by startled shouts and some crashing sounds, and then another shot. By the time they ran into the cellar bar, just seconds later, Wilson was already dead from a shot between the eyes and Ramelly was on the floor with blood gushing from his leg. Padawski and the others were standing uncertainly by the bar, covered by a .38 automatic that one of the young Chironian women was holding. Several other weapons had appeared around the room. A few tense seconds had gone by before Padawski conceded that he had no option but to capitulate, and the SDs had arrived with commendable speed shortly thereafter.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164

Categories: Hogan, James