Lange couldn’t just take the weapon outright, for it was holy, a godly gift, and so it could never be defiled by base theft. Obviously the People of Wanica and the remnant of the Five Corners Free Congregation would have to be permanent and equal (but separate) partners. The doctrine of matrimonial consanguinity would prevent any joining between the two sides, thus salving some of the other settlers’ horror at any race-mixing.

After the funeral there follows a good old-fashioned revival featuring the mass conversion of the entire Kaleetan people, followed by their assembly-line baptism in the cold silty waters of the Indian River. Three times using total immersion, mind, since Lange was at heart still a Dunker. So a new congregation is born, the Church of Green Dome, with a White Wing and a Red Wing, “Two lungs by which the united people of the Creator draw new breath,” Lange says in his high-fallutin’ way.

Wanica’s people return to their encampment at the 4,650 foot level of Green Dome, on a wide bench on the eastern side of the hill. Aided by the Whites they begin to turn it into a permanent village. Eight sod houses are constructed within the first month, and these are gradually improved as time goes by, but many of the Kaleetan continue to dwell in their tipis.

Gary Bergin, his wife Marge, and their four children Dale, Owen, Hester and Grace choose the valley of Indian River due south of Green Dome and begin pulling up dead stumps of burnt trees to establish a farm, aided by the eager labor of some of Wanica’s men, once it is explained what they are trying to do. The Bergins propose to their new friends a life free of any reliance on roaming herds of animals. It would not be imposed on the Red Wing, who traditionally relied on hunting, but it was available to any of them who accepted it freely.

Alfred Porter, his wife Caroline, and their four children George, Edwin, Rachel, and Lucy establish their farm near the place where Chief Wanica slew Smalley, Morrison, and the others, north of the river ford. Water is plentiful and they grow a wide variety of green stuff as though they had an extended backyard garden.Something about the Porters putting down roots makes the Kaleetan People forget all about the Northern Raiders.

Thomas Hilling, his wife Melanie, and their five children Lee, Kenneth, Jane, Faith and Susan choose a spot for their homestead at elevation 4,400 on the slope of Green Dome just below the village of the People.At first they grow livestock, taken from the animals that accompanied them on the pilgrimage, but they also plant rows of apple trees, and in years to come their orchards spread all over the eastern slopes of Green Dome and their cows and sheep graze in the shade.

Theodore and Sarah Wustner, with their crowd of eight children Harry, Ida, Brandon, Coral, Louise, Emma, Lukas, and Judith settle to the south of the river ford and there they take to raising horses, having taken back most of the horses they loaned to make the pilgrimage. The younger Wustner children became great friends with the younger Kaleetan children, forming bonds that would carry on through the decades.

The rest of the Whites plat out the town of Greendome on both sides of the river crossing. In the beginning these are Paul and Pamela Krause with their three children, Douglas, John, and Katerina, who build and run a general store.Johann and Anna Zinter with their two children David and Janet build and run a blacksmith shop.

Mark Lange’s wife Joanna is childless, but not for much longer. In 1869 Janet is born, followed by David in 1872. Mark builds a tabernacle on the summit of Green Dome, which is just under 5,000 feet above sea level, but only about 900 feet above the plains, looking nearly seventy miles out over the grasslands in every direction. The tabernacle is built over the cairn of the Artifact, commemorating the very place where Wanica and Jashen came face-to-face with God. The white clam shell thing is considered a holy relic to be hidden and protected by the altar, not for outsiders to gawk at.

Lange declares himself the first Prophet of Green Dome, and his growing family dwells in a modest home near the tabernacle. Wanica also lives near the summit of Green Dome, for he remains the Chief of the original inhabitants and he is also called the Apostle of the Church.If Mark Lange passed on before he did, Chief Wanica would become the Prophet of the Church and choose a new Apostle from among the Whites. Thus the leadership would alternate between Red and White wings.

The Tabernacle is the gathering places for all the people, Red and White, every Sunday and Wednesday morning. With each homily the Prophet and the Apostle establish the wall of Church doctrine steadily, like laying bricks. One of the doctrines, which is really a concession to the Kaleetan people, is that everyone, both male and female, must wear their hair long and tied into a pony tail. After a time members of the Green Dome Church are called Ponies by outsiders, and later even by themselves. The Kaleetan are also introduced to the concept of surnames. Jashen remembers his original given name of Shy Bear and chooses the single name Shybear to be his surname.

In 1869 the rumor of gold is heard tell in the headwaters of Indian River and Greendome swells with the influx of prospectors hungry for the shiny yellow stuff. Some get rich, but many of the Sixty-Niners strike out. Some of these stay in Greendome as converts to the Church. After the rail line connects Greendome to the new Union Pacific line running across the country it is easy for cousins of the new converts to make their way west to new lives as wives of the former prospectors.

Gradually the tabernacle on Green Dome is expanded into a large wooden and whitewashed edifice called the Green Dome Temple. When it is complete Prophet Mark Lange is fifty-three years of age. Secondary tabernacles are established throughout the United States but all Green Dome funerals still take place at the original site.

Chief Wanica dies in 1906 at the age of eighty-four. He lies in state in the Temple sanctuary for fourteen days. Many Greendomites scattered across the country journey by train or even by the newfangled horseless carriages to pay their last respects. When the Prophet Lange commits the Chief’s body directly into the hands of God it is a sight that few but the oldest members present have ever seen, for the Church has grown beyond the dreams of her founders.At the funeral, Lange announces that a young man named Peter Twofeathers is the new Apostle to replace Chief Wanica, although Jashen Two Pricks becomes the new Chief.

For most of the attendees it is a ceremony they would not witness until they were well into middle-age when their parents died, and of course everyone prayed they would never have to attend. But the Green Dome Church has grown so large that every day except Wednesdays and Sundays the Temple is booked for farewell Rites.

Not everything is so grim. During the fair held in honor of the Prophet’s 65th birthday a barnstormer comes to town, offering rides in his biplane. Fearless, Mark Lange steps up to be the first to fly, to the delight of everyone present. Few religious leaders have been so beloved, at least among his own faithful. Outsiders, however, consider Greendomism to be a dangerous cult, on the same order as Mormonism, Satanism, or even Catholicism. Critics think them to be non-Christian sun-worshipers who preserve the commandments of the devil (Thaumiel), thought Jesus to be both male and female, and marry their close kin. And the critics are absolutely right.

Two years later the Great War breaks out in Europe and many Green Dome tabernacles in France and the Low Countries are destroyed by stray shells. At the bidding of the Prophet a special collection is taken up to bring succor to the wartime mission field. With these funds in hand, Prophet Lange boards the steam liner Reina Regenta in New York with about a quartermillion dollars in gold bullion to aid the faithful in nations torn by the conflict, the first truly industrial war on Earth, which has grown to rage across much of the world.

Survivors of the voyage across the Atlantic tell of the implacable patience of Prophet Mark Lange as he is dogged day and night by a newspaper reporter named Rupert Keller, a grandson of Carl Keller, who obviously has a personal beef with Lange’s “cult”. When the ship is in the frigid waters almost precisely in the center of the ocean far from any help she takes two torpedoes from a German U-boat. The Reina Regenta lists sharply to the side, drowning half her lifeboats. Frantically, the lifeboats on her port side are laden with passengers and released but there are not enough for everyone and no chance of raising the floundering ones on the starboard side. Women and children go first, and then old men are allowed to board. Prophet Mark Lange is placed in the last lifeboat, but before it is lowered to the sea he spies Rupert Keller standing on the deck of the doomed ship, contemplating death. The Prophet bounds out of his place and offers his seat to the reporter. “Happy birthday, son,” he says with a gentle smile.

Lange is not without fear, for all living things fear death as part of their natural defense mechanism, but he is encouraged by his memories of the Land We Know and the Golden Gift, physical evidence of the existence of God which he has been so fortunate to witness. He spreads his encouragement around to the rest of the doomed passengers on board. In this way he makes their passing a little bit easier. There is just enough time for the last lifeboat to get away before the ship rolls completely over and takes everyone aboard down to the frigid and murky depths of the ocean.

Prophet Mark Langes very kind offer of a seat on the last remaining lifeboat on the doomed Reina Regenta is totally wasted on Rupert Keller. Returning to New York he proceeds to give a newspaper account of the disaster which includes the Prophet kicking little girls off a lifeboat to make room for his gold bullion, resulting in the sinking of the lifeboat, the death of Lange, and the death of everyone else with him. Indeed, Keller says the presence of the gold must have been the reason the ship was torpedoed by the Central Powers in the first place, lest it aid the cause of the Triple Entente in the Great War, which is now in its third year.

Keller’s published lies do their intended damage to the popular imagination of the American people. Many former supporters sour on the religion, and the growth of the Green Dome Church slows to a crawl. Shortly after that, by referendum, the state joins a dozen others in banning marriages between first cousins and the first serious persecutions of Greendomites begin.

Upon the death of Mark Lange the Apostle Peter Twofeathers automatically becomes the second Prophet of the Church. Peter in turn appoints a new Apostle from among the elders of the White Wing of the End Dome Church, a man named Klaus Hansen. Thus the lifetime office of Prophet alternates smoothly between the White and Red wings of the Church, and assuming this rule is never broken there can never be a succession crisis.

The sinking of Reina Regenta with the End Dome Churches first prophet Mark Lange aboard, along with seven hundred other men who could not take to lifeboats, is one of the biggest factors that changes American public opinion about the Great War from an attitude of cynical isolationism to moralistic idealism. Another big factor is an intercepted telegram from Germany offering Mexico a share of the spoils if they come into the war against America. A month later Congress approves a declaration of war against the Central Powers, and a month after that forced conscription begins.

Despite Church of Green Dome roots in the pacifist German Brethren, and the slight bias in favor of the Central Powers by many Americans of German descent, very few Greendomites avail themselves of Conscientious Objector status after receiving their draft notification. Erik Zinter accepts the call to go Over There along with nearly five million other Americans. After a brief period of the most rudimentary military training that seems to consist mostly of standing for uniform inspections, Erik finds himself stuffed aboard on a troop ship on the way to Bayonne, France.

From the point of view of the Triple Entente, America is late getting into position for the First World War. General Black Jack Pershing trains the American Expeditionary Forces to operate independently of the allies. The US Marines make the first demonstration of American resolve at Belleau Wood, a single square mile stand of trees that still takes from the 6th of June until the 26th of June, 1918, before Major Maurice Shearer sends the signal, Woods now entirely US Marine Corps. Belleau Wood is six hundred acres of hell for three weeks. The war drags on into its final two months before Erik Zinter even enters his first combat as part of the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. It is the third and easiest operation to straighten out the remaining German salients in the Western Front before the main Allied thrust to break the Hindenburg Line can begin.

The Americans are tasked to attack the German left flank against static positions they have held for more than three years while France, Britain and Belgium bled themselves white. But now the allies are getting a fresh shot in the arm from merry but homesick doughboys who go into battle singing and whooping with all the enthusiasm of a football team pouring out onto the field just before kickoff. The Germans know the Americans are coming and began to pull out, but the Americans attack before the Germans estimate they would with 600 aircraft and 144 tanks commanded by Colonel George S. Patton Jr. The battle of St-Mihiel is Patton’s first combat.

Casualties are very light as battles go in the Earths First World War, but the weather is miserable. Nearly three thousand pieces of field artillery unleashed by the Allied side as well as bombs dropped from the air tears the battlefield into a pock-marked pig sty filled with mud.

The Germans might have been withdrawing, but they are quite capable of fighting a rear-guard action with a deadly bite. Erik takes two rounds from a German Bergmann Maschinenpistole 18/1 that shatters the bone in his upper left arm and he is sent by truck to a War Department field hospital in the rear just beyond German counter-battery fire.

Due to the development of gas gangrene, which is part and parcel of the mud and generally unsanitary conditions on the front, army doctors decide to amputate Erik’s arm, leaving only a two inch stump, which unfortunately would be a little too short to be usefully fitted with a prosthetic arm.Since the amputation is performed in non-ideal circumstances, Erik is sent by a hospital train to Paris for follow-up care.

There he meets Clara Brannen, a Red Cross nurse. After Erik sees her name tag they talk for a bit and Erik learns that Clara is from the branch of Brannens who had stayed behind in Pennsylvania when Mark Lange led the pilgrimage west, so she knows very little about the Green Dome Church. They talk for a bit more and both discover they share the same great-grandmother. They are second cousins. That and her all-American girl-next-door good looks interest Erik. What interests Clara is Erik’s attitude in the face of his life-changing injury. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself even after losing an arm. There is pain, but right on through it he keeps a wicked sense of humor. They cannot talk for long, but Clara passes along to him the address of her parents in Pennsylvania, because he says he wants to be pen pals after they both get back home.

Their pen pal relationship gradually blossoms into love, and in 1922 Erik drives nearly all the way across the country in his 1916 Model T. He uses the Yellowstone Auto Trail and it takes nearly a month to get to Erie, Pennsylvania, averaging five dollars a day, not counting the cost of two major automobile repairs along the way. This money comes out of his twenty-five dollar per month Veterans pension, which has been supplemented by a job as a painter in Greendome. He could do his job with one arm, although with some difficulty.

After arriving in Erie he sells his Tin Lizzie to defray the wedding expenses. Although Pennsylvania is the original anti-cousin marriage state, it only prohibits marriage between first cousins, not second cousins. Still, it takes some doing by Erik and Clara to get her parents to sign off on it. In the end, they obtain the blessing of both parents, and soon the newlyweds are traveling west across the country by train to start their new life in Greendome.

When it comes to Erik’s parent’s, however, they are a much harder sell, and he becomes more or less the black sheep of the family because he passed over a perfectly good (if plain) first cousin who shared the same grandparents, and chose to fall in love with Clara who only shared the same greatgrandparents with him, never mind that she was stunningly beautiful. Apparently love is very fickle. This thing with second cousins is now permitted by Green Dome Church doctrine under the liberal Prophet Peter Twofeathers, but some say it isn’t a brave choice, because any heathen could do as much.

The ones who say that are the Bunners, a subset of the White Wing who are not happy to have a Red Wing Prophet. They are called Bunners because both men and women roll their obligatory pony tail up into a bun, a little White power fist made of hair. The Apostle Klaus Hansen is Bunner Incarnate. His particular hobby horse is that the possession of the Golden Gift should transfer as well, to the White Apostle.Twofeathers insists the relic remains under the control of the Red Wing.

Kimberly Zinter is born to Erik and Clara in 1925. She would be their only child. Kim knows her two best friends Sofie Krause and Dory Fuchs from as early she can remember, perhaps as far back as the summer of 1928 when they share their days at the same nursery while their mothers also found work. This is nearly the peak of the Roaring Twenties, when unemployment dips below five percent. Then comes the stock market crash in 1929.

By 1930 the Great Depression is just getting started. Their mothers are soon booted from their jobs, followed by Kim’s father, as employers suddenly found many other men willing to paint who had two good arms. Still, Erik does not despair, but retains the good spirits that had caused Clara to fall in love with him at first sight in France. And it soon turns out that Erik’s optimism is justified.

Twofeathers has compassion upon Erik Zinter and gives him employment which involves a deep and sacred trust. With his single arm, he is to wield the Golden Gift to carve a network of tunnels under the Green Dome hill and the surrounding area. For there are rich seams of coal under the townsite but the geology of the area is so jumbled there has not been an economical way to reach it by drilling a straight shaft. The coal would only be exposed here and there. But with the Golden Gift, Erik Lokken easily creates twisting passageways through this rock, and others follow in his wake to reinforce the tunnels with timber and remove the coal.

While the rest of the country wallows in unemployment that reaches twentyfive percent, the area around Greendome experiences a boom that hasn’t been seen since the brief gold rush days after the Civil War, when the town swelled with the ranks of 69ers. The population sells to three thousand souls. Great heaps of black gold from the mines pile up on docks as far away as Chicago.

Financially, Erik Zinter does far better than he ever did as a one-armed painter in the Twenties. Soon enough he has a nice new brick red Ford Model 8, his first car since selling his Model T, and he also pays off his modest home. Thinking ahead, Erik sets some money aside in a rainy day fund. There is enough left over even after all this to send Kim to the Green Dome parochial school rather than the free public school, partially so she could be with her friends Sofie and Dory, but especially because it was an excellent school that gets students engaged in learning experiences outside of the classroom as well as within.

In 1937 Kim, Sofie, and Dory are twelve, that wonderful last year of their tweens when their bodies are gathering power for the changes soon to come. They talk about boys in idealized, abstract terms that have little bearing on the clumsy, stinky, stupid little barbarians that happen to be actual boys. In slumber parties they practice necking with each other, so long as it is perfectly understood that one of the neckers has to be a boy, at least in theory. Sofie Krause, at great personal sacrifice, plays the role of beau nine times out of ten, especially when it is Dory Fuchs turn.

Likewise, in class, the tight trinity of friends send flowery little love letters to each other. The girl-love of tweens is love of a high order that knows no jealousy. Share and share alike. But they dread having one of their masterpieces of amorous soliloquy discovered by a classmate, or God forbid, the teacher. So they create their own secret language called Relbimian. And in that language, the word for group of three is boda.

This, then, is the state of the Boda in seventh grade:

Dory Fuchs Blue eyes, long jet black hair tied in the obligatory pony tail but with the cutest bangs ever. She is the skinniest member of the Boda but the first one to begin to grow breasts. She likes to read books by English authors about dragons and elves and wizards and unicorns. Already, at age twelve, Dory has pinup model stems.

Academically, Dory deliberately aims at getting straight Bs to strike the middle ground between pleasing her parents and not appearing to be a bookish girl. In the Boda Dory takes the middle ground, becoming all things to all women and she becomes the glue that holds them all together. If the Boda could be said to have a leader it is Dory, yet the character of her role is persistently one of support. Instead of dragging them along she pushes them from behind.

Sofie Krause A tomboy who keeps her ash-blond hair cropped short in a crew cut, with no pony tail, in defiance of the Church. Not even her father has anything to say about that, for already Sofie has the physique of a wrestler. She is the only girl on the football team. One time a boy at school says her football uniform makes her look fat and she flips him to the ground and pastes him good. Knocks out his front tooth. No one says that to her again. She is, however, like all the girls at school, required to wear skirts rather than pants in the classroom, and this annoys her to no end.

One Halloween morning Dory comes to school dressed as a pirates wench and she has ripped her dress into long strips so that when she walked her slender legs poke out now and again. Sofie sits there with her mouth wide open and feels a shiver from her face to her toes. In that moment she knows what she is. Sofie has graduated from her tomboy phase to a full-service tribade. After that, Sofie loses all interest in sports, and everyone can hardly believe it. But chasing Dory has become the ultimate sport to her. Sofie is a scrub, but Dory eagerly helps her do her homework, which keeps Sofie hovering in D territory rather than a hard fail.

Kim Zinter Auburn hair about halfway between mahogany and carrot-top. Light green eyes. She has a pretty face but she is a little chubby. Or perhaps just Rubenesque. In temperament she is the most classically feminine member of the Boda, for she takes after her mother the nurse. She is compelled to wear her hair in a ponytail at all times, of course, like her mother and father and elders and all the other good little Greendomites, male or female.

Kim is an infidel. She doesn’t really believe any of that stuff about Chief Wanica and the Golden Gift written in the Buron, which is testimony to how tightly her father Erik is capable of keeping Peter Twofeathers secret with respect to his borrowing the divine weapon. But Kim isn’t prepared to let her folks down. So she grits her teeth, wears the damn ponytail, and when she ventures out of the Greendome area she ignores the comments at the edge of her hearing like. “Oh, there goes another Pony. Look at her hair.”

In eighth grade science class the teacher pairs everyone off for lab partners. Kim ends up with Sofie, and Dory ends up with one Jerry Shybear, the youngest grandson of Jashen Two Pricks Shybear who played a role in the early days of the Green Dome Church.

No offense, Pally.

Sofie kicks Jerry out of his seat and sends him shambling towards Kimberly. No one is going to separate Sofie and Dory.

Jerry is one of the few Original Inhabitants who attend the Church school in Greendome. He is a skinny boy, and shorter than Kimberly even, but the other boys are afraid to pick on him because he has already demonstrated a hidden wiry strength in a series of earlier fights, and all of them learned why young men in the Red Wing are called braves. He becomes the fourth member of the Boda, sort of, which is an oxymoron, like having a fourth novel in the Galaxy’s Fall Trilogy.

Jerry can tell right away that Sofie and Dory are a unit, so he gravitates towards Kim. At the ice skating rink they even hold hands, since Sofie and Dory aren’t afraid to do so. He is not Kim’s first or even second cousin, and therefore he can never be her husband someday, so it is fun to experiment, but they both know it can never turn into anything serious. Then again, thirteen year old kids never take anything serious.

There is absolutely no body modesty in the Boda, and if Jerry wanted to be a part of it, they would have to break him in. The first time they went skinny dipping at Lake 13 Jerry liked what he saw, and so did Kim. She began horsing around with him at every level short of the full jackpot. Naturally she is required to keep Sofie and Dory apprised of every move.

So what’s it like to kiss an actual, you know, boy?

Just like kissing Sofie. Same pressure. He smells different up close though. Not bad, just different.

Did you pitch woo?

We did indeed pitch woo. He feels like a rubber wet suit stretched out over a suit of armor. Soft on the surface but with a hard core underneath. I liked it.

They look like beer bottles instead of Coke bottles.

There comes a time when you grow up and move from soda pop to beer.

The great common ground of the Boda is music. Their parents are sufficiently well-off to provide their instruments, except that Kim’s only instrument in the very beginning is her own voice. She is a member of the Green Dome Temple Girl’s Choir, and an amazing soloist with a rich, breathy, lyric mezzo-soprano voice that belies her youth and borders on being too sultry and sensuous for spiritual music.

In band class Dory Fuchs plays double-bass standing on a shortened end-pin so she is more comfortable. She especially likes to set down her French bow and pluck the strings pizzicato, playing meandering bass lines that make her imagine she is a cat slinking around at night. The bass remains mostly in the background but provides harmony and structure to the songs, the same role Dory performs in the Boda.

Sofie Krause pounds the skins with all the power that makes her a formidable offensive guard. She can practically read Dory’s mind (and vice-versa) so they became one of the all-time great rhythm sections. Sofie is inspired to change her name to Hunky so people would refer to them as Hunky-Dory. This is more than just a nickname. By dropping her ‘patriarchy slave name’ of Sofie Krause and replying only to her freely chosen name of Hunky, she actually inaugurates the Name Ritual that becomes an important part of the Boda when it expands and becomes the B’nei Elohim.

Jerry’s axe is a saxophone, and in the beginning he isn’t very good at it, but he figures that is the reason he is taking band class, after all. He gradually improves and by the close of 1938 the kids have the bare bones of an actual jazz ensemble on their hands. They call themselves Hunky-Dory and that never changes.

Their earliest performance as Hunky-Dory alone, apart from band class, comes during the end-of-semester band class recital, during the encore, when they perform It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) while the rest of the kids set their instruments aside. It is a triumph, but their first paid performance would come in the Forties, and their first recording in the Fifties. Money was never the focus of Hunky-Dory at any rate. They did it mostly just for fun.

When Kimberly Zinter is a sophomore she is picked up at school one midmorning by a deacon of the Green Dome Church and driven home but he won’t tell her what is wrong. When Kim gets home she sees that her mother is crying and she starts to cry in sympathy before Clara can even say a word. After a while Clara looks directly at her daughter, immersed in grief and too horrified to face blurting it out to her, but finally she does.
CLARA Kim, your father is dead!

Then Kim’s tears well up from her own pain and not merely from empathy with her mother’s pain. They both cry until there is nothing more to give, and even when Kim’s eyes are dry she is still wracked with dry sobs and whimpers that trail off at length to silence, only to start again. After an hour of this she starts to speak. “Why?” she asks, over and over again until her mother comes clean.

Peter Twofeathers has explained everything to her. For years he had lent the Golden Gift to Erik to honeycomb the land under the mountain and the surrounding area at night with tunnels to access isolated pockets of coal. This had been the bread and butter of the whole town for almost ten years. But last night there was a cave-in that smashed Erik’s helmet lantern, plunging him into total darkness, and he couldn’t dig his way out, even with the Golden Gift, because he got turned around somehow and bored deeper into the mountain rather than back out the way he came. As Erik made a greater volume of space to walk in, the air he had left to breathe was stretched too thin, and there were also suction losses through the Golden Gift itself. It wasn’t until well past dawn that miners with picks and shovels broke through the cave-in and reached Erik’s body.

Peter assured Clara that he died without injury or pain. He simply fell asleep never woke up again.

As for Peter, while he deeply mourns the death of Erik he is also troubled that the men who retrieved Erik’s body are members of the Church and it is impossible to hide the fact that Erik had been in possession of the Golden Gift, which is the most sacred Green Dome Church relic. Although the Golden Gift is returned to Peter, this revelation is already causing unquiet among the faithful. He hears that Klaus Hansen, his chosen Apostle from the White Wing, is preparing to unseat Peter before his time.

Children aren’t supposed to be confronted with death so early. Kim thinks about her own death. She wonders what it is like for her father at that moment, and if there really is an afterlife. If there is not a second life, then her father doesn’t even know that he is dead. He doesn’t know that he had ever lived and married Clara and fathered Kim. If so, then what is the point of doing anything? The Green Dome Church is supposed to have the answers to all these questions, but what if they are wrong? Added to her personal grief, all these thoughts are intolerable to Kim.

She doesn’t go to school for a week. Sofie and Dory came over after a couple days to see if their friend is well. She is not well, but their visit lifts Kim from her grief a microscopic bit, and Clara notices that. When Hunky’s mother comes to pick her daughter up, Clara asks her to stay until Dory’s parents came as well, because she wants to ask all of them something.

The funeral for Kim’s father will be this weekend. I’d like to take Sofie and Dory to be with Kim when we go.”

I don’t think so. These are just school girls, and a funeral is a pretty solemn thing.

Besides, this should be a private family time for you and Kim.

That’s precisely the thing. We have no family here in Greendome. My parents are back East and my husband was a sort of a black sheep in his own family. They’re Bunners. I’ve never been close to them. Kim is taking the death of her father very hard, but when Sofie and Dory came over to see us today I noticed a visible improvement in Kim. I could see it come right out to light up her eyes again. That’s when I realized that Sofie and Dory are Kim’s real family.

Clara, I still don’t think a Green Dome Church funeral is something these girls should see.

But they won’t see the actual Rites. Not even Kim will see that. Look, my husband is dead. I have to go lay him to rest, and I have to bring Kim. And I think she needs to be with her best friends right now.

In the end everyone consents to let the girls remain together for the weekend.