TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE DWELL


Chapter Eight

 

 

Gim-e-wane Al-ag-wa or Rain of Stars, the recently elected Shawnee war chief, sat on the dirt floor of his lodge in a position the white man mockingly referred to as ‘Indian fashion’.  His hands rested palm up on his knees as if opened in supplication.  His well-muscled body was stiff; his back ram-rod straight.  Umber brown hair, roughly cut in a shaggy mane that fell across his forehead, covered his ears, and then descended like a cloak to his deceptively narrow shoulders, surrounded a face aesthetically beautiful and beautifully severe.  His amber eyes were closed.  Every ounce of his attention – every fiber of his being – was focused on his breathing, which had grown so slow as to appear almost nonexistent.  In this pose – in this place – he reached out to touch the essence of the one whom he had sent on an errand nearly two days before.  For a moment, there was nothing.  Then he found him.  Unemake was making his way through the forest even now, headed for this place.  Rain of Stars frowned in spite of himself and sought for a deeper connection.  The shaman had not completed his task.

Unemake came alone.

The shaman was also wounded.  Rain of Stars could sense a rising fire in the man’s veins.  Narrowing his inner eyes, the war chief drove deeper into his puppet’s mind.  He groped about, as in the dark, repulsed by the primitive thoughts he encountered until he fastened on one in particular.  It was a fear overlaid with two faces.  One native.  The other…

Alien as he.

Rain of Stars saw the two men in the wooded glade.  The native warrior stood poised and confident.  Drawing back on the string of his bow, he let loose an arrow that drove its stone head through the shaman’s shoulder.  The other man – the demon as Unemake named him – lay on the ground.  He had been at the shaman’s mercy until the shaft had been driven home and Unemake driven away.

Rain of Stars shifted.  His chest rose and fell with one great deep sigh, and then he opened his dark golden eyes. 

At that moment Unemake stepped into the lodge.  It took the shaman a moment to adjust to the smoke-filled darkened space.  Then his puppet saw him and immediately fell to his knees. 

Gim-e-wane Al-ag-wa,” the shaman intoned, his voice a hoarse whisper of fear.

“What news do you bring me?” Rain of Stars asked, though he already knew.

“I have failed.  The demon yet is loose.”

The war chief shifted and rose to his feet with the grace of a cougar uncurling before the kill.  “And why is this?  Did I not tell you to bring him to me?”

Unemake did not look up.  “His evil is stronger than we thought.”

Rain of Stars set a slow, deliberate pace that took him in a circle around the kneeling native.  “Did I not tell you that it was imperative he be brought here?”  The war chief’s amber eyes flicked to the shaman’s belt where he noticed a telltale light.  “The magic I gave you is still there.  Why did you not use it to subdue him?”

“I did not have a chance.”  Unemake lifted his head, but quickly dropped it again upon seeing the expression on the war chief’s face.  The shaman lifted a hand and pulled aside the vest he wore to reveal the arrow wound Rain of Stars had seen in his vision.  “Another came.  He defended the demon.  I was driven away.” 

“Another?  And who was this?”

“Cara-Mingo of the Cherokee,” the shaman spat with disgust.

“Someone you know?” Rain of Stars inquired, slightly amused.

“He is aptozi!” Unemake growled, showing both prejudice and ignorance.

Ignorance, at least, of whom it was he spoke to.

“A half-breed?  And you do not approve, I take it?”

Something in his voice must have alerted the shaman to the fact that there was a line drawn that he had crossed.  Unemake made no reply.

His enjoyment of his puppet’s discomfort growing, Rain of Stars fought the sneer that threatened to twist his lips.  “Speak your mind.”

Black eyes met his and then retreated.  “Mingo’s mother’s red blood is weakened by his white father.”

“Nevertheless, he was strong enough to stop you.”

Unemake’s dark eyes widened with terror.  “You have seen?  You saw?”

 Rain of Stars stopped before the frightened man.  He knelt and crouched, putting their eyes on a level.  Then, ever so slowly he reached out and pressed three long fingers to the shaman’s temples, making certain they contacted the appropriate nerves.  The war chief watched as the shaman’s eyes grew blank and his jaw slack.  Then he leaned in close and whispered –

“My mind to your mind….”

 

Leonard McCoy stumbled and almost fell over an upturned root.  He caught himself and then, after a moment, staggered forward to place a hand against the rough bark of the root’s parent tree.  Breathing hard, he pressed one hand into his stomach and fought the urge to retch. 

And he’d thought the damned transporter was bad!

Sweat beaded on his face and nausea threatened to choke him.  Dropping to the forest floor with the tree’s trunk as his chair back, McCoy reached up and loosened the cravat enough that he could breathe.  Taking a linen handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped his forehead with it and then looked around.

Trees.  More trees.  Bushes, shrubs.  And even more trees.

Oh joy.

What he wouldn’t have given for a tricorder with preset coordinates for his destination!  Or even better, one preset for Vulcan physiology.  The star traveling surgeon ran the back of one trembling hand across his mouth, wiping away saliva, and then swallowed hard.  “Admit it, Leonard,” he told himself, “as much as you grumble about all the space age technology you are surrounded by and pretend you want to be an old-fashioned take-their-pulse type of doctor, you’re lost without it.”

He sat for several minutes, gathering his wits and getting his bearings.  The computer had placed a compass in his kit and he used it now to determine which direction was south.  Willow had told him to go south.  That was all.  And she had only done that as she vanished into the swirling electrical storm that was the time tube that had brought him here.

Just thinking about it made him want to throw up again.

Rising shakily to his feet, Dr. Leonard McCoy of the Starship Enterprise pushed off the tree and started in the direction the compass pointed.  The new day had just dawned.  Only half conscious of it, he lifted one booted foot and placed it in front of the other in an effort to do whatever it was he had been sent here to do.  His mission – from his point of view – was to find Uhura and Spock and take them back.  He wasn’t sure what Willow’s mission was.  He had been afraid to ask.

Hopefully, in the end, the two would prove to be the same.

As he walked, McCoy began to notice the beauty of the land around him.  The forest was lush and green and showing the first signs of spring.  Small blossoms had erupted on some of the overhanging branches, and others pushed up through the brown earth peering at him like small cherubic faces bright with joy.  Once the wave of nausea passed, he was able to draw a deep breath.  For the first time, as he felt the warm breeze on his face, he realized he was home.

“Good old southern air,” he remarked to himself.  “Sweet as the scent of bourbon fresh out of the bot – ”

Ten seconds later Leonard McCoy was breathing his bourbon fresh air upside-down as his body swung from the budding branch of one of the forest’s trees.  As he let loose a list of invectives skillfully culled from years on the battlefield and in emergency rooms, McCoy looked up to find that his left ankle was encircled by an expertly tied noose.

He had stepped into a trap!

Goldarnit,” a man beneath him snorted, sounding disappointed.  “Tain’t a bear or a cat.  Looks like we done caught ourselves a green hand.”

“Sure did,” a second man added as he came alongside the first.  “He looks buffaloed.”

McCoy blinked and looked down.  Were the pair speaking Earth standard?  If they were, it was no Earth dialect he had ever heard. 

The first man who spoke had a wave of blond hair the color of ripe wheat, and a full mustache to match.  His exposed skin was tanned dark as the leather pouch he wore, which was slung casually over a fringed buckskin coat.  His eyes were blue and they sparkled with mirth – not malicious, but damned mischievous.  The second man appeared to be older.  He wore beeches, a linen shirt and dark brown vest, along with a curiously shaped hat that was perched atop a thinning head of hair both brown and gray. 

The older of the two pulled at his graying beard.  “You think we oughta cut him down?  He’s gettin’ mighty red in the face.”

“I…don’t…know,” the first replied as his face broke into a grin.  “I think that’s a’cause he’s mighty angry.”

“Which are you two?  Simpletons or idiots?” McCoy snarled, confirming the man’s assessment.  “I’m a doctor not a bunch of grapes.  Cut me down!”

The blond cocked his head.  “You look more like a bunch of grapes to me.”

“You really a doctor?” the older man asked, making conversation as if everything was normal even as the blood rushed to McCoy’s head.  “You on your way to Boonesborough?  We could sure use a doctor there.”

“If you don’t cut me down soon I will die of a hemorrhage, and then you’ll have to wait until some other poor fool happens by to autopsy me!”

The two men continued to stare at him.  Then the older one nodded.  “Yep.  He’s mighty angry,” he said.

McCoy closed his eyes and sighed.  It was a mistake.  In the time it took him to open them again there was a loud report, followed by a cloud of noxious smoke and a whizzing metal projectile that sliced through the air to strike the rope directly above his ankle.  Seconds later, he plummeted gracelessly to the ground.  The doctor lay there unmoving.  His head had just missed the cushioning presence of his medical bag that lay on the ground where he had dropped it. 

Instead, it hit a rock.

The two men walked over to his side and stood looking down at him.  “Don’t look so angry now, Yad,” the older one remarked casually.

“Don’t look so good neither, ‘Natus,” the blond agreed, his voice showing the first real sign of concern.

McCoy groaned, retched, and the world went black.

 

Rain of Stars stood in an open field staring at the panoply of black sky and winking stars above his head.  He felt weak and exhausted.  Unemake might not be one of the brightest lights in the heavens, but the shaman had a will of iron.  Drawing what information he needed from him had not been easy.  Unemake had fought him all the way, raising barricades and attempting to shut him out even as he moved into the deeper parts of the Shawnee’s mind, seeking not only the memory, but the very images the native had seen.  When at last he found them, they confirmed what he already knew. 

That fact took his breath away. 

The images wrenched from the shaman’s mind gave proof that the two who had fallen from the sky were the ones he sought.  He had clearly seen the image of the damaged shuttlecraft with its call letters and the name written across its wrenched side, as well as the face of the one the shaman called a demon.  He was free now to act.  Still, Rain of Stars hesitated.  Like his blood, he was divided.  The role he played with the Shawnee was a sham – or at least it had been.  Now, he was not so certain.  Of late he had come to question the motives of the Initiators in whose employ he found himself.  His pretense was quickly becoming his cause.  Now that the one was safely in this time, he had to decide his course.  Events were unfolding that would soon change the course of history.  And though his people despaired of the Federation with its weak-kneed penchant for peace over a strong hand, they did not wish to see it destroyed. 

Well, some of his people did not wish to.

Rain of Stars lips parted with a sigh that was almost wistful.  Long before, the lion and the lamb had lain down together at least once – that was why he was here.

Closing his eyes, the war chief summoned the images once more.  The first meeting of Unemake with the demon.  The shaman’s fascination and fear.  The Shawnee’s decision to disobey orders and kill the creature before it could fall into Rain of Star’s hands.  Obviously he had not indoctrinated Unemake well enough.  The shaman still had a will of his own.

The war chief’s smile broadened into a fully wicked one.

Or at least, he had.

Casting his mind back into Unemake’s memories, Rain of Stars sought out the image of the Vulcan first officer.  What he knew of him was ancient history, and had long been regarded by many in his family as legend.  Still, legend meant more to his mother’s people than cold hard facts.  Rain of Stars knew the letters and numbers of that shuttlecraft well.  NCC 1701.  And the name U.S.S ENTERPRISE.  In the 25th century, both were still revered among humankind, as were the men and women who had sailed on the constellation class starship.

Human-kind.  His kind, for human blood flowed in Rain of Star’s veins along with the others.

The war chief shook his dark mane of hair back from where the rising wind had blown it.  He reached up and passed a bronzed hand through the thick locks on the right-hand side.  As he did his fingers hesitated, and then touched and traced the tip of one well-hidden and elegantly pointed ear.  What would Unemake think, he wondered, should the shaman wake and come outside only to discover that the newly elected war chief of the Shawnee was also a demon?

Rain of Stars opened his mouth and laughed, long and hard. 

It shouldn’t, after all, have surprised the native.  After all, like is drawn to like – it is only logical. 

Just as it was only logical for Rain of Stars to desire to meet his long departed kin.

 

“So what’cha think, ‘Natus?  He gonna make it or not?  That there bump’s on his noggin big enough to slow a horse at a trot.”

“Can’t rightly say.  I’d a thought he’d a come around by now.  Since he ain’t….”

“You think he’s really a doctor?”

“Got the right kind of clothes.  Look at that piece of jewelry, and them shoe buckles.  Silver, ain’t they?”

“Shiny enough to temp a magpie.”

“Well, let’s get them off him….”

This was it.  He was being robbed.  The words spoken by the two highwaymen filtered into McCoy’s consciousness along with the fact that he had a raging headache and almost every bone in his body ached from its impact with the ground.  The doctor fought the urge to moan and damned himself for considering the fact that – for just a moment –  he wished he was Spock, with the Vulcan’s control.  Then he lost both fights.

“You hear that?” the older man asked.  “I think he’s wakin’ up.”

“Nah.  That was just my gut.  Ain’t fed it today and it’s hollerin’.”

“I guess you might be right, Yad.  I’ll go get you some leftover stew.”

So he was saved for the moment by a bumpkin with a distended belly. 

McCoy cautiously lifted one eyelid and peered through a veil of eyelashes at his captors.  It came as a shock when he realized he was no longer outside laying on the ground but inside, in some sort of a tavern.  If these men were robbers, why would they have taken the time and effort to move him?  Wouldn’t they simply have taken the buckles from his shoes, as well as any other thing of value, and left him to die beside the road?

Maybe they weren’t highwaymen after all.

A hand on his foot, preparing to remove his boot, made McCoy hesitate.  Then, taking one of those great leaps of faith that Jim Kirk was so well known for, the doctor opened his eyes and said, “Hello.”

Both men jumped like a Pendari leaping legume.

The blond recovered the most quickly.  “Now don’t that beat all,” Yad mused.  “Here we took you for a goner.”

McCoy raised a hand to his head and felt the lump.  It was the size of the proverbial goose egg.  He frowned with the pain of the light entering his eyes.  “I need my bag,” he said without preamble.  “Where is it?”

The older man’s watery blue eyes narrowed.  “You got some mighty pee-culiar things in that there bag, stranger.”

“Did you touch any of them?” McCoy snapped.

“We was looking to help you, what with you being a doctor and all.”  Yad tilted his head and stared the surgeon down – hard.  “What’s in them little bags of red and green?”

“Wine distilled with herbs,” McCoy promptly lied.  “For poultices and plasters.”

“And what’s this?  Ain’t like anythin’ I ever seen.” 

At the last moment McCoy had tossed a mini hand phaser into his kit.  He felt…well, naked without one.  As the blond bumpkin produced it from behind his back and began to thumb the setting control, the surgeon raised his hands in alarm.  “Don’t!  I mean, be careful with that.  It’s a new….  It’s a new kind of ….”  Think, Bones, think! he told himself.  “Fleam!  Those knobs control the lancets for letting blood.  You might hurt yourself.”

A look of disgust overcame Yad’s rugged face.  “It ain’t got leeches in it, does it?”

Why the hell not?   “Yes,” McCoy answered.

Yad dropped the phaser to the floor like it was a poisonous snake.  McCoy held his breath, fearful it would fire on impact.  When it didn’t, the surgeon breathed a sigh of relief.  He swung his feet over the side of the rude cot he had been laid on and stood, intending to fetch it – only to sway and fall back to his seat.

‘Natus picked the phaser up and handed it to him.  Then he placed a hand on the doctor’s shoulder.  “That blow was a hard one, stranger.  You’d best lie down for a few hours.  We’re….”  He looked at the other man.  “We’re sorry we caused you to get hurt.”

There was kindness in the older man’s voice, and genuine regret.  McCoy looked up at him and instantly knew that his fears had been unfounded.  Compassion shown from the graybeard’s eyes; the compassion of a healer.

“Yeah,” Yad said, kneading the edges of his dark hat with his callused fingers.  “Sometimes fun ain’t so much fun for the one being laughed at.”

Some times?” McCoy echoed with a lift of one grizzled brow.

“All times,” the blond admitted sheepishly.

The older man looked from Yad to McCoy and then stuck out his hand.  “Cincinnatus Jones.  Pleased to make your acquaintance, Doctor…”

“Doctor Leonard McCoy,” he replied.

The blond ran a self-conscious hand through his thick hair and then stuck it out.  “Yadkin.  Ain’t no first name I tell anyone.  Just call me Yad.”

As McCoy winced at the feel of bear grease on the blond’s skin, Cincinnatus leaned in close and whispered, “It’s Carolina.”

“Huh?” the doctor responded.

“Well, just go and tell the whole country, why don’t ya!” Yad growled.

The older man smiled and winked.  “Give me time….”

McCoy recognized in them something of himself; a southern toughness tempered with hard-bitten humor and wit.  As he wiped the bear grease off on his fancy black breeches, he smiled.

“Pleased to meet you, gentlemen.  Now, will someone tell me just where I am?”