by MARION ZIMMER
Foreword: When SIEF — Solar Interstellar Exploration Force — landed their first ship since the Sol-Capella war on Deneb Six, they expected to find a world bare of humanity. SIEF had never before entered the star-cluster where Deneb’s fifteen planets circled. But the planet, although incredibly desolate, bare of all remnants of civilized man, had not always been so. Men had been there. Solarians.
This was never made public. The Terran government, happy in its communalism, thought it would be detrimental to Terran morale should they know the fate of the Domesmen — that brave little band, exiled years ago from the Solar System, under the leadership of one of the greatest men the system has ever known, John Barss. The little band which Barss controlled had rebelled against the rigidly-organized Venus Autarchy, and vanished — completely. And the one trace of men which SIEF found on Deneb Six was a small fortress, deep in the forests, set within an enclosed space. The surrounding terrain bore traces of fire, but this fortress had been spared or had survived, and within it the men of SIEF found traces of the expedition — as well as the diary of that great leader.
The document was supressed by Terran authorities; for the Venus Autarchy had been smashed less than a year after Barss’ exile, and Venus had been taken over by the Communalists. Yet the diary of Barss is one of the greatest vindications ever written, of the autarchy.
This diary passed into my hands, as a descendant of that Barss, and as I read, I wondered. You, too, pause to wonder, Terrans.
We came here last night. I think perhaps that we may be able to find a haven here on this lonely planet of Deneb. There is good water, breathable air, plant life with a chlorophyll base, and here, perhaps, we can settle with our women and children and build for ourselves the life that we could never win within the System. Tonight, we called a mass meeting and I proposed to destroy the ship that brought us here. Arn and Conner ask why we should tie ourselves down to one planet when there is an entire sun-system to conquer, but I am afraid that, with the ship, there might be too much temptation to return to Sol.
The matter rested unsolved. A party was sent out to scout. I think it best that we should stay together for a time; we have seen no unfriendly natives as yet, but there is no way to tell, of course —
Krean and Alys the daughter of Maran were married tonight by the quaint old Terran ceremony —
Mass meeting tonight. Thirty voted to destroy the ship, twenty-six to keep. Conner, who led the operation, suggested that the votes of the women be discounted, for all the women were with me in this. Naturally I vetoed such a step.
They refuse to yield, even to our majority, and Arn says that they will never allow us to destroy the ship. I reminded him that the majority must rule and that if we should ever return to Sol, as our children might do if we kept the ship, we were lost, and forever. Our only refuge lies in cutting all ties with the Solarians completely. Things stalled again. A child was born to one of the Martian women tonight. Twenty-five men, all but three married; twenty-two wives, and poor Garrik’s widow; seven unmarried girls. Five old men, seven old women and forty-three children, nineteen of whom are still in arms.
The ship was destroyed tonight. Conner has won over a majority, and when I refused it, threatened to kill me. Secretly, seven young men and some boys, too young to vote, destroyed the ship. The fools, can’t he realize we can’t risk any crazed and homesick person giving away our hiding place? The Solarians never meant us to find a home. If we’re found within the Solarian limits, we’ll be rayed out of the sky.
Novenus (our new town) progressing. Twelve houses.
There are humanoids here, little grey men with a complete lack of pigmentation. Hope they are friendly.
Cornerstone of the Main Hall laid today.
Manazu, the leader of the Natives, came to me today and asked if I would send the company doctor to their village to treat illnesses there. They have made no trouble so far; in fact, they seem to enjoy our company. There is only one colony of people here, the rest died out in a plague years ago, and this was a dying race.
Arn disappeared a week ago, and I thought he had been killed, but he turned up in the village this morning.
Fire destroyed two of the houses in the square —
I knew there would be trouble. We elected a council to rule and already there is trouble. They want a eommunalist state like the one on Terra. Can’t they see that with so few, and on a strange world, we need some control?
People are adjusting the sleep cycle pretty well to the 29-hour day. I still find it hard. I'm not as young as I used to be.
Conner made a teleradio. Has communicated with Terra. I ordered him put in confinement and Arn and a few others marched on the prison and set him free.
Heaven grant the mad fool doesn’t try to contact Venus.
The council has been dissolved. Have they forgotten they promised to let me guide them? It was I led them away. They have no knowledge. Arn has promised me safety if I stay clear. But what chaos will his rule bring?
Manazu came to me secretly last night. He asked if it was with my consent that the village had spread to the native cavetown. I told him no, that I had no more power.
January 9, 2018.
A new year back on Solar planets. Here, nothing. I appealed to them to let the natives alone. They voted to take over the cavetown. I pleaded and then forbade. As a result I am imprisoned here and owe my life to a single vote.
I do not blame the people. The system never taught them wisdom in ruling, and they want to be free all at once rather than be gradually educated to it. They resented even my restraint, which was not much. What will become of us? There is only chaos here, and we had such high hopes —
The natives struck back. They have us in siege here. I am in my old command, but is it too late?
We can’t hold out any longer.
I tried to surrender. Manazu promised that if we left their city in peace and turned Conner and Arn over to them, we could go free. Heaven knows those two should pay the price, but I can’t agree to that —
Conner and his doubly-damned radio signals have given us away and Venus Fleetships are on their way here.
Arn insisted on a last stand against the natives, rather than placating them. We lost all but four men. Natives now twenty to our one. They’ll have us soon.
Tele showed Fleetships only three days away. If we could make peace with the natives they would shelter us in the Cavetown. Arn was killed today.
Fleet ships will come tomorrow, have made a last appeal. Opinion hopelessly divided. No use.
This is the end. We might have found a refuge, but it would take a stronger leader than I, and a group of people willing to submit. It was not that I wished to rule. Arn and Conner had nothing to offer in place of my leadership except a nominal freedom. Freedom takes preparation and that, they did not have. We should have worked slowly toward that.
Freedom is the most dangerous of gifts. It is my fault, for I promised them freedom, where all I could really give them was a change of leaders and a little chance to work toward the slow coming of freedom. But to the minds of these born to slavery, the word freedom means only license — a lack of responsibility. I think they are com —
The manuscript ends here abruptly, and lying beside it we found a pen, still uncapped. We can only guess at the rest.