Genesis Part 3

If you are looking for Genesis Part 3 you are coming to the right place.
Genesis is a Webnovel created by Henry Beam Piper.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

Suddenly, behind him, Dorita fired her pistol upward. Dard sprang forward–there was no room for him to jump aside–and drew his pistol.

The boy, Bo-Bo, was trying to find a target from his position in the rear. Then Dard saw the two Hairy People; the boy fired, and the stone fell, all at once.

It was a heavy stone, half as big as a man’s torso, and it almost missed Kalvar Dard. If it had hit him directly, it would have killed him instantly, mashing him to a b.l.o.o.d.y pulp; as it was, he was knocked flat, the stone pinning his legs.

At Bo-Bo’s shot, a hairy body plummeted down, to hit the ledge. Bo-Bo’s woman instantly ran it through with one of her spears. The other ape-thing, the one Dorita had shot, was still clinging to a rock above.

Two of the children scampered up to it and speared it repeatedly, screaming like little furies. Dorita and one of the older girls got the rock off Kalvar Dard’s legs and tried to help him to his feet, but he collapsed, unable to stand. Both his legs were broken.

This was it, he thought, sinking back. “Dorita, I want you to run ahead and see what the trail’s like,” he said. “See if the ledge is pa.s.sable.

And find a place, not too far ahead, where we can block the trail by exploding that demolition-bomb. It has to be close enough for a couple of you to carry or drag me and get me there in one piece.”

“What are you going to do?”

“What do you think?” he retorted. “I have both legs broken. You can’t carry me with you; if you try it, they’ll catch us and kill us all. I’ll have to stay behind; I’ll block the trail behind you, and get as many of them as I can, while I’m at it. Now, run along and do as I said.”

She nodded. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” she agreed.

The others were crowding around Dard. Bo-Bo bent over him, perplexed and worried. “What are you going to do, father?” he asked. “You are hurt.

Are you going to go away and leave us, as mother did when she was hurt?”

“Yes, son; I’ll have to. You carry me on ahead a little, when Dorita gets back, and leave me where she shows you to. I’m going to stay behind and block the trail, and kill a few Hairy People. I’ll use the big bomb.”

“The _big_ bomb? The one n.o.body dares throw?” The boy looked at his father in wonder.

“That’s right. Now, when you leave me, take the others and get away as fast as you can. Don’t stop till you’re up to the pa.s.s. Take my pistol and dagger, and the axe and the big spear, and take the little bomb, too. Take everything I have, only leave the big bomb with me. I’ll need that.”

Dorita rejoined them. “There’s a waterfall ahead. We can get around it, and up to the pa.s.s. The way’s clear and easy; if you put off the bomb just this side of it, you’ll start a rock-slide that’ll block everything.”

“All right. Pick me up, a couple of you. Don’t take hold of me below the knees. And hurry.”

A hairy shape appeared on the ledge below them; one of the older boys used his throwing-stick to drive a javelin into it. Two of the girls picked up Dard; Bo-Bo and his woman gathered up the big spear and the axe and the bomb-bag.

They hurried forward, picking their way along the top of a talus of rubble at the foot of the cliff, and came to where the stream gushed out of a narrow gorge. The air was wet with spray there, and loud with the roar of the waterfall. Kalvar Dard looked around; Dorita had chosen the spot well. Not even a sure-footed mountain-goat could make the ascent, once that gorge was blocked.

“All right; put me down here,” he directed. “Bo-Bo, take my belt, and give me the big bomb. You have one light grenade; know how to use it?”

“Of course, you have often showed me. I turn the top, and then press in the little thing on the side, and hold it in till I throw. I throw it at least a spear-cast, and drop to the ground or behind something.”

“That’s right. And use it only in greatest danger, to save everybody.

Spare your cartridges; use them only to save life. And save everything of metal, no matter how small.”

“Yes. Those are the rules. I will follow them, and so will the others.

And we will always take care of Varnis.”

“Well, goodbye, son.” He gripped the boy’s hand. “Now get everybody out of here; don’t stop till you’re at the pa.s.s.”

“You’re not staying behind!” Varnis cried. “Dard, you promised us! I remember, when we were all in the ship together–you and I and a.n.a.lea and Olva and Dorita and Eldra and, oh, what was that other girl’s name, Kyna! And we were all having such a nice time, and you were telling us how we’d all come to Tareesh, and we were having such fun talking about it….”

“That’s right, Varnis,” he agreed. “And so I will. I have something to do, here, but I’ll meet you on top of the mountain, after I’m through, and in the morning we’ll all go to Tareesh.”

She smiled–the gentle, childlike smile of the harmlessly mad–and turned away. The son of Kalvar Dard made sure that she and all the children were on the way, and then he, too, turned and followed them, leaving Dard alone.

Alone, with a bomb and a task. He’d borne that task for twenty years, now; in a few minutes, it would be ended, with an instant’s searing heat. He tried not to be too glad; there were so many things he might have done, if he had tried harder. Metals, for instance. Somewhere there surely must be ores which they could have smelted, but he had never found them. And he might have tried catching some of the little horses they hunted for food, to break and train to bear burdens. And the alphabet–why hadn’t he taught it to Bo-Bo and the daughter of Seldar Glav, and laid on them an obligation to teach the others? And the gra.s.s-seeds they used for making flour sometimes; they should have planted fields of the better kinds, and patches of edible roots, and returned at the proper time to harvest them. There were so many things, things that none of those young savages or their children would think of in ten thousand years….

Something was moving among the rocks, a hundred yards away. He straightened, as much as his broken legs would permit, and watched. Yes, there was one of them, and there was another, and another. One rose from behind a rock and came forward at a shambling run, making b.e.s.t.i.a.l sounds. Then two more lumbered into sight, and in a moment the ravine was alive with them. They were almost upon him when Kalvar Dard pressed in the thumbpiece of the bomb; they were clutching at him when he released it. He felt a slight jar….

When they reached the pa.s.s, they all stopped as the son of Kalvar Dard turned and looked back. Dorita stood beside him, looking toward the waterfall too; she also knew what was about to happen. The others merely gaped in blank incomprehension, or grasped their weapons, thinking that the enemy was pressing close behind and that they were making a stand here. A few of the smaller boys and girls began picking up stones.

Then a tiny pin-point of brilliance winked, just below where the snow-fed stream vanished into the gorge. That was all, for an instant, and then a great fire-shot cloud swirled upward, hundreds of feet into the air; there was a crash, louder than any sound any of them except Dorita and Varnis had ever heard before.

“He did it!” Dorita said softly.

“Yes, he did it. My father was a brave man,” Bo-Bo replied. “We are safe, now.”

Varnis, shocked by the explosion, turned and stared at him, and then she laughed happily. “Why, there you are, Dard!” she exclaimed. “I was wondering where you’d gone. What did you do, after we left?”

“What do you mean?” The boy was puzzled, not knowing how much he looked like his father, when his father had been an officer of the Frontier Guards, twenty years before.

His puzzlement worried Varnis vaguely. “You…. You are Dard, aren’t you?” she asked. “But that’s silly; of course you’re Dard! Who else could you be?”

“Yes. I am Dard,” the boy said, remembering that it was the rule for everybody to be kind to Varnis and to pretend to agree with her. Then another thought struck him. His shoulders straightened. “Yes. I am Dard, son of Dard,” he told them all. “I lead, now. Does anybody say no?”

He shifted his axe and spear to his left hand and laid his right hand on the b.u.t.t of his pistol, looking sternly at Dorita. If any of them tried to dispute his claim, it would be she. But instead, she gave him the nearest thing to a real smile that had crossed her face in years.

“You are Dard,” she told him; “you lead us, now.”

“But of course Dard leads! Hasn’t he always led us?” Varnis wanted to know. “Then what’s all the argument about? And tomorrow he’s going to take us to Tareesh, and we’ll have houses and ground-cars and aircraft and gardens and lights, and all the lovely things we want. Aren’t you, Dard?”

“Yes, Varnis; I will take you all to Tareesh, to all the wonderful things,” Dard, son of Dard, promised, for such was the rule about Varnis.

Then he looked down from the pa.s.s into the country beyond. There were lower mountains, below, and foothills, and a wide blue valley, and, beyond that, distant peaks reared jaggedly against the sky. He pointed with his father’s axe.

“We go down that way,” he said.

So they went, down, and on, and on, and on. The last cartridge was fired; the last sliver of Doorshan metal wore out or rusted away. By then, however, they had learned to make chipped stone, and bone, and reindeer-horn, serve their needs. Century after century, millennium after millennium, they followed the game-herds from birth to death, and birth replenished their numbers faster than death depleted. Bands grew in numbers and split; young men rebelled against the rule of the old and took their women and children elsewhere.

They hunted down the hairy Neanderthalers, and exterminated them ruthlessly, the origin of their implacable hatred lost in legend. All that they remembered, in the misty, confused, way that one remembers a dream, was that there had once been a time of happiness and plenty, and that there was a goal to which they would some day attain. They left the mountains–were they the Caucasus? The Alps? The Pamirs?–and spread outward, conquering as they went.

We find their bones, and their stone weapons, and their crude paintings, in the caves of Cro-Magnon and Grimaldi and Altimira and Mas-d’Azil; the deep layers of horse and reindeer and mammoth bones at their feasting-place at Solutre. We wonder how and whence a race so like our own came into a world of brutish sub-humans.

Just as we wonder, too, at the network of ca.n.a.ls which radiate from the polar caps of our sister planet, and speculate on the possibility that they were the work of hands like our own. And we concoct elaborate jokes about the “Men From Mars”–_ourselves_.

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