Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas
"No, Manuel, no. Only the people."
"No trouble. Might as well take them all."
"Only people--God give me strength!--only people, Manuel."
"How about little people?"
"Children, yes. That has been explained to you."
"Little people. Not children, little people."
"If they are people, take them."
"How big they have to be?"
"It doesn't make any difference how big they are. If they are people, take them."
That is where the damage was done.
The official had given a snap judgement, and it led to disaster. It was not his fault. The instructions are not clear. Nowhere in all the verbiage does it say how big they have to be to be counted as people.
Manuel took Mula and went to work. His sector was the Santa Magdalena, a scrap of bald-headed and desolate mountains, steep but not high, and so torrid in the a
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Manuel is a good character, the rest of the characters are pretty standard sci-fi officials.