TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE DWELL
have two lives about us, Two worlds in which we dwell, Within us and without us
Richard Henry Stoddard
Above the shaman the thunderbirds winged their way across a sky blackened by storm clouds, chasing the tail of the celestial panther that had passed overhead no more than an hour before. The Shawnee warrior-turned-medicine man looked up, allowing the flash of the great birds’ eyes to play across his deeply tanned face. He opened his arms wide and raised his hands to welcome them, unafraid. The panther had been the first sign – to let him know that his chosen path was right. Then, they had come to promise his visions were true as well. The great birds had heard his fevered words and honored his prayers with their presence. Unemake nodded once. Then, once again. As had been foretold, this night would be the beginning. Tonight’s actions would herald the end of the white man and of his encroachment upon the Indians’ land. The Great Spirit, Kokumthena, who sent the Thunderbirds, was not deaf to the Shawnee’s cry. Her people’s pleas had been heard and one had been sent to lead them to victory. The white tail emblazoned on the storm gray clouds above was his assurance that the words of their new war chief, Rain of Stars’, were true. The shaman stared at the white trail a moment longer. Then his eyes followed it to where the sacred animal had fallen to the earth. It had moved off into the forest, dragging it tail behind it, leaving scorched sign in its wake. The oak, the ash, the fir tree smoked where they lay, blasted and broken by the great panther of the sky.
Broken as their enemies were destined to be.
Unemake lowered his hands and began to walk even as a cold, hard rain began to fall. He passed through smoldering embers, seeking the shadowed shapes of the ones who had so blessed him in the gray mist that rose above the sodden forest floor. Unemake knew they were there and that they were watching. He would not fail them. He had prayed for a sign and been given two. What more assurance could he have? The time was now. The white man Boone, and the settlement he had planted like a blight upon the Shawnee land, would wither like the trees before him. They would die.
The shaman’s eyes returned to the heavens. As a boy he had spent time in the white man’s lodges. He recalled a story from the book called the Bible. A fierce warrior known as Lucifer had defied the Great Spirit. He had been cast to earth in just such a way.
Then, the battle had been joined.
A slender, supple shape bent over another form that lay supine on the ground. In her hand was a small silver cylinder. As she depressed a button on it, a soft hum accompanied by a rainbow of light, echoed through the wilderness of trees surrounding them. A lightning flash revealed it to be a woman, clad in a short crimson dress cut with the formality of a uniform. The woman was as attractive as she was determined. Her skin was the rich brown of the rain-soaked earth beneath her feet. Her eyes, black as the clouds above. She had removed the instrument from the body of the third member of their party – one whose life had been severed along with his head; both cut off in a tangle of metal and winking, dying lights – and ran it now over the quiescent form beneath her. She did not breathe until it beeped several times, though the report of the instrumentation was far too weak for her liking. She adjusted the settings and tried again, but with no better luck.
A wry smile twisted her burgundy lips. Luck. What would the one she scanned think of that? Or of her irrational wish that the crash had not happened? Or of her hope that he would simply spring up from the ground, whole and well?
The handsome woman permitted herself a sigh in spite of regulations as she knelt by his side. Laying a hand on his chest, she stared into his face. It was perfectly composed as always, though she thought she detected a hint of pain around his closed eyes and pale, green tinged lips. Anxious, she glanced at the readings again. Though she wasn’t trained to understand the myriad of medical symbols playing across the screen, her rudimentary knowledge told her things did not look good. Blood pressure nearly non-existent. Temperature rising above norm. Pulse too slow. The woman glanced at the grass beside her regulation issued boots. It was wet, not with dew, but with her companion’s blood.
It was an irony that both were green.
Rising to her feet, Lt. Nyota Uhura, chief communications officer of the Starship Enterprise, raised her brown velvet eyes to the sky. The trail from the Shuttlecraft Columbus’s rapid and haphazard descent was dissipating, as were the last remnants of the anomaly that had pulled them off course without warning. In minutes, it would be as if both had never been. As if there had been no rent in space, no vast all encompassing swirl of light and night that had reached out and taken hold of their small vessel and drawn them to –
Wherever they were.
Uhura had left the remnants of the shuttlecraft – and the deceased third member of their party – behind in the hills. The forces exerted by the anomaly had battered the small vessel as it entered the atmosphere and then released them to fall like a stone. Lt. Deevers had been at the helm. Once they knew they were in trouble, the Enterprise’s first officer, Mr. Spock, had taken over. The Vulcan, with his superior abilities, had struggled valiantly to land it in some sort of order. At the last minute the side of a mountain crag had risen up like an ax to crack the port wall. Uhura had watched in horror as the Vulcan science officer had been sucked out and disappeared into the ocean of verdant leaves below. It had taken her fifty minutes to find him.
He had been bleeding every one of them.
Due to Dr. McCoy’s diligence the Columbus had been equipped not only with a standard medical kit, but with one that contained both synthesized copper-based blood and drugs adapted to Vulcan physiology. Or, to a half-Vulcan’s. Mr. Spock’s physiology – while of interest to nearly every woman on board the Enterprise and most of the Federation’s medical community – was an unknown to almost everyone but Leonard McCoy. As she and the ship’s first officer prepared to depart for the galactic symposium on the efficacy of music in interplanetary negotiations being held on Earth, Dr. McCoy had warned her – with a lazy smile and a lifted eyebrow that indicated he was only partially kidding – that Spock drew trouble like a magnet, and that she had best be prepared to play Florence Nightingale to her superior. Uhura had laughed and chalked the remark up to the fierce but friendly rivalry between the two men.
Now, she knew better.
The conference had been scheduled to take place in her home country, in the United States of Africa. After it was over, it had been her intent to spend a few days with her extended family. She had even invited Spock and Lt. Deevers to join her. Spock had surprised her by accepting, saying he looked forward to exploring the roots of the music he so admired in her. The Enterprise had dropped them off space-side of the moon, and then turned away to make a milk run to one of the nearby solar systems. She had known no fear as the great ship warped away.
After all, she was home – what on Earth could happen?
A flash of lightning illuminated the Bantu woman’s beautiful if troubled features. The answering thunder moved the earth beneath her feet. As rain began to fall once again, pelting her and her wounded superior, the Enterprise’s first officer moaned and stirred. Uhura quickly knelt. Even though she knew the Vulcan disdained contact, she placed a hand on his shoulder to stay him.
“You’re hurt, Mr. Spock. Badly. You must remain still.”
The Vulcan blinked rain from his eyes, which had opened on the green world around them with a mixture of barely suppressed pain and intense curiosity. “This is not…Africa,” he whispered between gritted teeth.
She couldn’t hide a smile. One could always count on Mr. Spock to state the obvious. “No, sir.”
“Where are we?”
“Unknown,” she answered. Though the mediscanner from the kit Deevers’ had carried was still functioning, most of the other equipment had been damaged in the crash. And somewhere along the way that extra kit, the one so lovingly provided by Dr. McCoy for this man he claimed he didn’t even like, had been lost. She guessed it had fallen out of the ship with Spock. “We lost the tricorder along with everything else – if it could have told us anything.”
The Vulcan attempted to rise, failed, and then looked up to her. “Lieutenant, you will assist me to my feet.”
“Assist you to your death, you mean!” she snapped, a little harsher than she intended. “You need to lie still. Sir.”
“Negative. Our environment cannot help but prove injurious. Under current conditions, I calculate my chances of survival to be less than thirty to one after another two hours’ exposure. I am…undamaged enough to be ambulatory. Our most efficient course would be to seek some sort of shelter. One that would provide us with adequate protection against the elements.”
Uhura cocked her head and looked at him. Spock’s skin was a sallow yellow-green. He was weak from loss of blood. And despite his Vulcan control, he could barely manage to keep his body from trembling, both from shock and with the cold. Her dark lips curled with affection.
“You mean, we should get out of the rain?”
Spock shifted into a seated position. She watched him, but did not offer a hand to steady him when he paled and looked as if he might faint. They had served several years together and she knew the boundaries he had established. She had tried teasing – even flirting with him now and again – to see how solid his Vulcan wall was. It was solid.
Impregnable, in fact.
“Sir,” Uhura began, keeping her face straight, “it is a medical fact, is it not, that severe blood loss inevitably leads to the inability to maintain control over one’s functions?”
His lips pursed. They were tinged at the edges with a sickly shade of green. “It is, Lieutenant.”
“You are bleeding, sir. And you have been bleeding.” She used her official tone – the one that usually said ‘hailing frequencies open, Captain’, a hundred times a day – hoping it would mask the worry in her voice. Spock had fallen a good ten meters to the ground. His body was bruised and battered. Though nothing appeared to be broken, he moved like a man with broken ribs and, perhaps, internal injuries. But that wasn’t the worst of it. On contact with the ground he had struck something that had left a gash in his left thigh that ran nearly the length of the long, lean limb. When she had removed his regulation boot, she found almost as much of the emerald green liquid in it as on the ground where he lay. “Is it not therefore – logical – to conclude that movement would prove…detrimental?” Uhura asked, a slight smile playing about her lips. How many times had she heard Captain Kirk turn that word back on his science officer and friend?
She saw him glance down, noting with approval her binding of his wound. She had used strips formed from the blue cloth of his now defunct uniform shirt. The Vulcan was attired now only in the black singlet he wore underneath and black pants. Spock gazed up at her, one elegant eyebrow lifted. “You are a most expert attendant, Lieutenant. The blood flow has been …reduced to a tolerable level.” He drew a breath as he shifted his weight and then paused, probably waiting for the world to stop spinning. “At present, I can see no other logical course of action than to ignore such medical fact as you mention and to …suspend logic and act – ”
“Irrationally?” she asked, the smile even less hidden.
Both black brows peaked. “Prudently. The cold and rain will do neither of us any good, Lieutenant. Deevers, I assume is – “
Uhura shuddered at the image in her mind. When the impact with the cliff had sheered off the side of the shuttle, he had leapt from his seat and reached for Spock. As the Vulcan plunged toward the forest below, Deevers had leaned out to try and catch him and struck –
“Quite dead, sir.”
Spock hesitated. Then he braced his hands on the ground and pushed off. Slowly, he rose to his feet. “As we shall soon be if we do not seek shelter.”
She reached out in spite of herself, but caught it before she touched him. “Sir! You’ll open the wound again. I’m concerned the femoris artery has been compromised. You’ve lost a lot of blood. If only we had Dr. McCoy’s medikit. It fell with you. I haven’t been able to find it yet.”
The look out of the Vulcan’s eyes belied his words. “At the moment, Lieutenant, your concern is noted but irrelevant.” Spock made an attempt to pull his tunic down, as was his habit, only to remember it was gone. As it seemed his hands had nothing to do, he linked them behind his back. Then he wobbled. Regaining his equilibrium, if not his composure, he continued, “Lt. Uhura, my survival does not depend on remaining immobile. Yours, however, does depend on mobility and action. You are shivering. It is imperative that you as well as I take shelter from the rapidly dropping temperature and rain. We cannot afford to have the both of us out of commission.” He paused and then added with something akin to a scowl. “The uniforms of Starfleet females are constructed with neither protection nor comfort in mind, but for the aesthetics of the female form, and the appraisal and appreciation of the male animal.”
“I didn’t think you had noticed,” Uhura commented, allowing the smile to beam.
“Miss Uhura. This is neither the time or place….”
Uhura’s smile suddenly faded. “The time or place…. Mr. Spock, from the time we entered the anomaly, we were unable to make contact with any Earth stations, Starfleet or otherwise. All communications failed. Don’t you find that odd?”
“Such a complete failure on a planet as advanced technologically as Earth is troubling,” he admitted.
“Unless the planet we landed on is not so technologically advanced.” Uhura drew a sharp breath. “The anomaly we entered could have acted as a kind of time tunnel, couldn’t it? Propelling us back in time, like what happened with Captain Christopher? I’ve tried my communicator again, sir. It is useless. So is yours.” The dark-skinned woman paused. “It seems there is no one out there to answer.”
“The anomaly could have been…artificial manipulated, if a sufficiently intelligent and capable race existed and had a desire to do such a thing within reach of Earth. If true, the threat posed to both Earth and the Federation would be incalculable,” he replied as a shiver shook him. “The hypothesis, however, remains unproven until empirical data can be obtained to either confirm or deny it.”
Uhura’s dark head cocked to one side. “Well, there is one thing I don’t need empirical data to confirm.”
“And that would be?” Spock asked.
“The uniforms of Starfleet males don’t seem to have been designed for survival under extreme circumstances either. What’s left of yours is doing little to protect you.” Spock was, plain and simple, a mess. His heavy blue shirt, which might have afforded him some protection, was gone. His short-sleeved singlet was intact, but his uniform pants were badly torn. The rent in the cloth showed the taut, well-muscled leg beneath.
One black eyebrow cocked at a rakish angle. “Why, Lieutenant, I didn’t think you had noticed.”
Uhura sputtered and blushed burgundy, appropriately put in her place.
Spock hesitated for a moment, and then added more softly, “Empirical data or not, Lieutenant, logic concludes we must seek shelter. It dictates as well…that I am incapable at this time of doing so on my own.” He reached out and made contact on his own initiative, placing a hand on her shoulder in an effort to remain upright. “I would be most…grateful…for your support.”
Several miles south of the wrecked remains of the starship Enterprise’s shuttlecraft Columbus, a deeply bronzed Cherokee warrior sat beneath a tree, offering shelter and support to the small boy he traveled with. Cara-mingo, or Mingo as his friends called him, was gazing at the night sky with its endless parade of stars. His lips pursed and he sighed before turning his dark eyes to the white-blond head of the child who rested against him, safe in the protective circle of his arms. Israel Boone was worn out with wonder. And why not? Several hours before they had witnessed an event of great moment, though to Mingo it brought not wonder but apprehension. Something new had come into the world this night; something important enough to compel the Great Spirit to mark its arrival with a tail of fire. His friend, Daniel, was away with Tupper, running furs to New Salem. As promised Mingo had gone to the Boone cabin to check in on his family during the frontiersman’s absence. He had done some chores for Rebecca, listened while Jemima chattered on about beaus and imaginary balls, and spent an hour or so reading to Israel. When the time had come for him to leave, he could not miss the boy’s dejected face. It seemed, once he left, that it was Jemima’s intention to make her brother aid her in acting out one of her imagined scenarios. Taking pity on the small male, Mingo offered to rescue Israel from the household of women for a few hours by taking him hunting. Rebecca had sternly warned them that they had best bring something back for the table and that he, Mingo, had best remain to eat it. Both men had agreed, and Rebecca had favored them with one of her wonderful half-hidden smiles. Daniel’s wife was not fooled. She knew what it was all about. Israel had desired to go with his father and was feeling lost and abandoned and in need of male companionship. But it was not only for Israel that she let the boy go, Mingo mused. Rebecca Boone had sensed, as only a woman could, that he was feeling lost as well and in need of the family he did not have. It had not been all that long since Lord Dunsmore had been in Boonesborough. His father’s visit to Kentucky had left him, in some ways, unnerved. Even though he and John Murray had seldom seen eye to eye, the stiff English lord – complete with the baggage of tradition, heritage and regulations – was family. With his mother dead Lord Dunsmore, along with everything the Englishman represented, was all the family he had – and Mingo had chosen to reject him. The path he preferred had led him to a solitary life. Neither truly Cherokee nor English, he belonged to neither world and fit in nowhere. Mingo smiled at Israel’s puzzled look.
Until he had met Daniel Boone, that was.
“You are awake, Israel?”
The boy shifted. “Sure ‘nuff, Mingo. I was just…restin’ my eyes. Who could sleep after seein’ what we saw? Gosh, it lit up the whole sky!”
“It did indeed.” From his years at Oxford, the Cherokee warrior knew well the scientific explanation of a comet. It was nothing more than a physical phenomenon that had been documented by man. But that was the understanding of his father’s world. From his mother’s, he had learned that the Great Spirit used such physical phenomenon to manifest spiritual power. Mingo glanced up again. The comet’s tail was nearly gone – as if it had never been. But, of course, it had been, and that meant something important had happened.
Unfortunately, the wisdom of his mother’s people did not promise whether it would be for good or ill.
Mingo sniffed and breathed in the night air. The curious scent was still there, though it too had faded. He had nosed it earlier as the comet blazed across the sky. It was the scent of smoke, but not of a clean wood-smoke born of a fire such as he and his young companion had kindled earlier. No, this smoke carried with it the sour odor of London; of oil, metal, and blast furnaces. It was at that moment that Mingo had decided to stop and make camp. He had been unwilling to take Daniel Boone’s small son either forward or back until he better understood just what had occurred.
“Your people think comets are magic, don’t they, Mingo?”
He smiled. “Not ‘magic’, Israel. They are seen more as a signpost pointing to an event of great importance.”
“Like finding a turkey for Ma’s table?” Israel asked with only the hint of a smile.
Mingo ruffled the boy’s near-white hair. “Like finding a sea of them and providing Rebecca with an endless supply. Now, young man, do you not think it would be wise for you to get some sleep?”
The blue eyes returned to the sky and the wonder of it all. “Ah, Mingo…do I haf’ta?”
Adopting the look he had seen the boy’s father wear upon occasion – one of tolerant, but firm love, the bronzed warrior replied, “I cannot force you to sleep. I leave it up to you. You may remain awake all night if that is your choice. Then, when the morning dawns and we have need of both strength and speed – ”
“I won’t have neither,” Israel admitted with a yawn. As he rubbed his eyes, the boy added sleepily, “I guess I am a little tired….”
Mingo rose and went to where he had left the supplies they had brought with them. He rummaged for a moment. With a wry smile, he shifted aside the kit Rebecca had handed him. It was complete with linen bandages and her own special poultices and salves for the treatment of burns, wounds and breaks. He had lifted one black eyebrow at their inclusion, knowing the intended target of both her kindness – and amusement – was not her son, but him. Beneath the kit was a warm woolen blanket woven of the deepest reds and blues, also supplied by the boy’s mother. Mingo tossed the covering over his shoulder and went back, only to find Daniel Boone’s son already snoring.
After tucking the boy in tightly, Mingo walked to the edge of the small clearing they occupied, intent on making a quick circuit of it before attempting to snatch a few hours sleep for himself. He stood for a moment, backlit by a flash of lightning. Not far away, a storm was raging. Here, they were dry, but it might be necessary before the night was over to seek shelter in a cave or under a jutting ledge. There were several close by. They were, after all, on the land between Chota and the white settlement of Boonesborough. It was familiar to him from his childhood, and from renewed acquaintance as a man. As the distant thunder rumbled across the clouds, Mingo’s eyes turned once again to the roiling sky. If he had been only a tiny bit more Cherokee, he would have read the Great Spirit’s anger in the dark and pendulous clouds. But the cool, dignified English blood in his veins prevented him from reacting like an ‘ignorant savage’ to a simple act of nature.
Well, almost prevented it.
Mingo shuddered and not with the cold. He had a sense that events were soon to unfold; events that carried with them the potential of forever changing the course of their lives. A moment later another bolt of lightning lit the world before him. As it did, something on the forest floor glinted. Whatever it was, it rested about one hundred feet away. Perhaps, a little more. Glancing back at Israel, he hesitated. They had not intended to remain in the wild overnight or he would have brought a third man along with them. When something of this nature arose, he found himself torn as to whether to leave the child alone or not. Still, no matter how hard one tried, one could simply not predict the unpredictable. Ascertaining what the object was would mean leaving Israel for no more than a few minutes. Still, in the wilderness, a few minutes was more than enough time for disaster to strike. Returning to Daniel’s son, Mingo pulled the dark coverlet over the boy’s white hair and was satisfied to find that he almost entirely disappeared. Only someone looking could find him. With a quick prayer on his lips that Israel remain asleep and not attempt to follow him, Mingo took off at a sprint through the trees.
As he ran, he noticed there was a hollowed trail of burnt and broken grass and twigs on the ground. The area of the forest he entered appeared to have been struck by a violent whirlwind, only to be followed – as unlikely as it was – by a sudden firestorm. Burnt and broken limbs, twisted from the trees, had been tossed helter-skelter. Mingo halted, his eyes on the ground, waiting for a repeat of the lightning’s flash. The Shawnee’s Thunderbirds spoke again and winked their mighty eyes. In the light of their judgment he saw it – a square piece of metal, or perhaps a box, glistening as if it were a fine piece of gold filigree.
It was not what he had expected.
Mingo glanced back toward the camp, making certain Israel had not wakened or followed. When the lightning revealed nothing, he turned back. The Cherokee warrior walked slowly toward the object. As he drew near it, he paused. His moccasined feet had sunk into the grass in a sickeningly familiar way. Kneeling, Mingo thrust his fingers down into it and brought them up sheathed in a thick viscous substance. The stormy light did not reveal its color, but he knew it well enough by feel. Blood. And a lot of it. Someone had been wounded and fallen here. They had lain for some time. Perhaps the item he had spotted was a kind of weapon, abandoned in the victim’s haste to escape. Shifting, Mingo reached over and took it in hand.
It was rectangular in shape. The bottom half appeared to be lacquered black, similar to items he had bought as young man from the China trade. The top half was smaller than the bottom and resembled a mesh cloth woven out of metal thread. Now that he had it in his hand, it looked more brass than gold.
It was like nothing he had ever seen.
Puzzled, Mingo turned the box over and over, seeking a way to open it. Unexpectedly, he was rewarded as the brass top swung open, revealing what lay within. Looking at it, he pursed his lips and sighed. As a boy in England, he had been fascinated by the elegant clockwork figures that adorned so many buildings and moved as if with a life of their own. His father had humored him once, taking him to meet the man who made many of them for the king’s court. Inside the clocks that moved the painted figures, there had been wheels and gears, small knobs and springs; each one a mystery in itself and each contributing to the marvelous, wondrous whole.
What he held in his hand seemed one piece of just such a mechanical puzzle. Some sort of dial – looking for all the world like a wound clock spring – had been set into the interior. Beneath the dial there were three jewels and a small silver plate. He could see no possible use for it. It was not a weapon. Neither was it an object of beauty.
But it was one of curiosity.
As the lightning flashed again and he felt the first strike of rain against his bronzed skin, Mingo rose and turned back toward the camp where he had left Israel sleeping. He had tarried longer than intended, and in that time the storm had all but overtaken them. Idly, but for a moment only, he considered which parent – the Cherokee or English – had gifted him the sin of intense curiosity. With a shrug of his broad shoulders, Mingo closed the odd metal object and placed it in his bandoleer. It really didn’t matter. Either way, it was as much a part of him as his love of music and literature. Of course, music and literature seldom led him into trouble.
Well, there had been that time back in sixty-nine with Catherine….
Mingo stiffened at a noise that was strangely out of place. It was, also, curiously muffled. It seemed as if it came from within a womb of cloth or a nest of wool. The sound was something like a single ‘toot’ on a horn, but that wasn’t it. It was curious. Odd.
A moment later the Cherokee warrior realized with a start that it was coming from his own bandoleer!
“What?” Mingo mouthed as he opened the bag. He drew the strange black box out and looked at it. As he did, it tooted again nearly causing him to drop it. Involuntarily the native’s deep brown eyes returned to the sky. Something had ridden the tail of the comet to Ken-tah-ten.