TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE DWELL

Chapter Sixteen

 

In the end Kirk decided to go with Daniel Boone.  It was another hunch – an inspired guess – that he should do so.  It bothered him that he must abandon Spock, but somehow he had the feeling that if he didn’t figure out what was going on and stop it, it would matter little if he found the Vulcan – or Dr. McCoy and the others.  The woman, the alien being he had spoken to in Spock’s quarters had said little, but hinted at much.  The time travelers had come to this place, to this particular moment, for a reason.  It was pivotal.  He glanced at his companion.  He and the frontiersman were jogging at speed through the wilderness.  Daniel Boone’s settlement was crucial to the opening of the west and the expansion of the United States of America, and to its eventual dominance in the world.  As such the man himself was crucial.  It would grieve him, Kirk knew not how deeply, if Spock died.  He had had a touch of it when the Vulcan had come close on several missions, and he knew it was like looking at the loss of half his soul.  But if the man running beside him died, then thousands, perhaps millions of others might.  There was also the fact that the United States, the country that had given him birth, might have her course altered irretrievably and in turn, the future of the galaxy would be changed.

He had come to believe that was what all of this was about.

Kirk felt Daniel Boone’s hand on his arm.  He stopped.  Both of them were winded, but far from worn out. 

“Are we there?” he asked.

The frontiersman shook his head.  “‘Nope.  We’re bout a mile or so out.”

“Reason?”

Dan’s head with its coonskin cap indicated the trees before them.  “There’s a natural hollow ahead, a giant basin somethin’ like the small one you hid in.  It’d hold a hundred men.”

“So you are thinking the Shawnee are waiting there?  Waiting for what?”

Dan pursed his lips.  “At nightfall, men are watchful.  Midway through there’s a new guard posted.  Near dawn, when everyone is waking, men get slack.  The women will have to go out for water….”

“It’s the best time to attack.”

He nodded.  “Yep.”

Kirk pursed his lips as well, in unconscious imitation of his companion.  He mentally ticked off how many men had marched past them.  “Fifty or so to one,” he said softly, “I wonder what odds Spock would calculate on our success.”

“I know what Mingo’d do.  He’d roll those dark eyes of his and say, ‘Daniel….’  Then he’d jump into the fray.”

“And enjoy it,” Jim laughed.  “I think Spock enjoys it too, though he’d never let himself admit it.”

“I always thought Mingo was bound up more tightly than any man I ever met, but your Mr. Spock takes the cake.”

Kirk recognized the colloquialism though it was no longer in current use.  “That he does,” he answered with an affectionate smile.  “Spock’s half-human heritage….”  He paused.  His growing familiarity with the frontiersman was making him careless.  “His half-white heritage troubles him.”

Boone had not missed it.  “What’s the other half if it ain’t human?

“Daniel, I – ”

Kirk was saved from the lie as the big man’s attention turned from his absent first officer to the area before them.  Words drifted back on the breeze.  The starship captain thought he caught the voice of the shaman who had led the Shawnee, but there was another – a more commanding one addressing them now.

“Shall we creep in closer and see what is happening?” he asked.

Daniel Boone turned back and eyed him.  “I ain’t one for quoting Shakespeare, but there’s one I heard Mingo use often enough to know it.  James, there’s somethin’ rotten stinkin’ in Denmark, and once you and I deal with the Shawnee, I mean to figure out just what it is.”

“Perhaps the Shawnee just need a bath,” Kirk attempted with his usual winning grin.

“Maybe.”  Dan started to move forward.  “And maybe you boys just ain’t from around here.”

“Where do you think we’re from?”

The frontiersman glanced back at him.  “Ain’t sure.  I’ll let you know when I figure it out.”

And with that he disappeared into the leaves.

 

“Consarn it if you ain’t the most difficult feller a body ever had to deal with!”  Carolina Yadkin’s whisper was fierce.  “Unless you want that there head of hair to be hangin’ from a stick!”

Dr. McCoy turned toward Yadkin’s voice only to discover that the blond man was gone.  They had been walking north, following the trail left by Spock and Daniel Boone.  “What?  Where are you?”

“Here, you idjit!”  Yadkin’s hand shot out and grabbed his arm.  A moment later McCoy stumbled back into the leaves and landed on his posterior.  He opened his mouth to protest, but the frontiersman clamped a not too clean hand over it and shushed him.  “You must be deafer than a post,” he whispered.

The surgeon’s eyes widened as he heard what the blond man had heard; the sound of a dozen or so soft footfalls.  He signaled to Yadkin that he could remove his hand.  When his companion did so, reluctantly, the surgeon leaned forward to observe who was passing by.

It was a party of painted natives kitted out for war, complete with bows, rifles, and a frightening array of primitive bladed weapons.  They were hustling along, as if late for something important.  McCoy concentrated on their excited voices as they passed by, but caught very little.  Once more, he wished he had that universal translator.  Next time some alien sent him leaping into the past, he intended to come better prepared!  As the last of the war party jogged by, McCoy turned to the other man and whispered, “Did you understand what they were saying?”

“Don’t speak much Shawnee,” Yadkin asserted as he parted the leaves and stepped back onto the trail.  He anchored his hands on his hips and shook his head.  “It’s some big doin’s.  I did hear one mention gim-e-wane Al-ag-wa.”

“What does that mean?” McCoy asked, dusting himself off.

“A shower, or stars raining, or some such thing.  Them Shawnee are mighty superstitious.  It’s a big thing to them.”  He looked up.  “Has to do with one of them stars that shoots across the sky.”

“A comet?  Did you see one lately?”

“Yesterday,” the blond man answered, pulling at his mustache.

McCoy looked up as well.  Or maybe the trail left by a descending shuttlecraft in trouble?

Yadkin shrugged.  “Might as have to do with that.  But that ain’t why they was talkin’ about Rain of Stars.”

The surgeon looked at his companion.  “No?”

“Nope.  Them Shawnee, they got themselves a new war chief.  He’s a mean cuss.  Goes by the name of Rain of Stars.”

“Oh, I see.  Is he here then, do you think?  In the forest?”

Yadkin lifted his rifle and tucked it under his arm.  “Ain’t sure, but I say we go see.  You game, Doc?”

“Are they going the same way Spock and Daniel Boone did?”

“Yep.  Straight as an arrow.”

Oh joy, he thought.  “How many of them are there, do you think?  Just these dozen or so?”

Yadkin was staring at him – like he was an unweaned pup.  “Ain’t no one never taught you nothin’?  Where’s there’s one of them heathen savages, there’s a hundred!  Maybe a thousand!”

McCoy gulped.  “A thousand?”

The blond man approached him.  “Don’t worry, Doc!” he said as he pounded him on

the back.  “The clearin’s outside Boonesborough ain’t big enough for more than two hundred at most!”

McCoy eyed the forbidding foliage surrounding them.  That made him feel a lot better.

 

Daniel Boone put a finger to his lips and then urged Kirk forward with a nod.  They had crept incredibly close to the milling and muttering crowd of Shawnee.  Boone had been right, there was a natural depression in the land.  It was skirted by ancient trees and bordered on three sides by a high rock wall covered in moss and vines.  At one point along the ridge the stone broke horizontally, creating an opening in the cliff’s face that resembled a natural stage, thus turning the hollow into a giant amphitheater.  On that stage stood an impressive native dressed in a mix of colonial and native garb.  He was taller by a good five or six inches than the men who flanked him.  His coloring, while not entirely wrong for the indigenous population of Kentucky, indicated there was other blood in him than Shawnee.  He held himself like a king; not with arrogance, but with that natural sense of superiority that comes from being born to command.

The hollow had grown so quiet you could hear the proverbial pin drop.

Kirk listened a moment and then glanced at his companion.  The man on the stage was speaking Earth standard instead of Shawnee.

Daniel shrugged.  The frontiersman’s words were barely audible above the rustling of the trees.  “Must be a mix of tribes here.  They’re mostly Shawnee, but there’s faces I don’t know.  They might not know the local lingo.”

 The starship captain nodded and turned back to learn what he could.  Rain of Stars had begun to speak.  The man’s voice was powerful; his presence, magnetic.  He began by reminding the Shawnee of where they had come from, of who they were and what their destiny was as written by their god.  Then he turned, subtly, to the loss of their sacred lands and the evils perpetrated upon them by the white man; and of the hardship and loss endured by the people.  The war chief called on the gathered men to remember the grief and anger they knew as their loved ones died in their arms.  No longer, he said, would they feel such helplessness.  No longer would they question whether they were men.  Tonight, Rain of Stars declared, vengeance would be theirs.  In response to a general chorus of agreement, the war chief lifted his hands to the sky.  He stood, soaking in their righteous fury.

Kirk turned to the frontiersman who was listening intently.  His earlier thoughts still needled him. “He has a point,” the starship captain said softly.

Dan pursed his lips.  “Could be.  But then he ain’t talkin’ about the wars between the Indians where they killed one another almost to the man.  Or about the innocent white  women and children left scalped and bleedin’ in their beds.”  Daniel’s hazel eyes flicked to him and then quickly returned to the scene below.  “No war is one-sided, James.”

Kirk stared at him a moment and then nodded.  The issues here were not clear cut.  It wasn’t the Federation and the Klingons.  Here, neither side had clean hands.

The men had quieted and Rain of Stars was speaking again.  Kirk scowled.  He wished he could get closer.  There was something about the war chief that was impossibly familiar, but the subtle nuances he needed to observe to pin it down were impossible to see from this distance.  

“Can we get closer?” he whispered to his companion.

A spark of recklessness flickered in the frontiersman’s eyes.  “I was wonderin’ when you’d ask.”

Together the pair crept forward, hugging the shadows and the natural cover of the land.  When they halted, they were less than one hundred feet from the stage.  Between them and the war chief was a sea of native bodies, all decorated with feathers and paint; each and every one of them ready for war.

“Tonight,” Rain of Stars declared as he strode to the far side of the platform away from them, “tonight it begins!  And though Unemake has told you that you will not die, making a shaman’s promises, I say some of you shall!”  There was a general murmur of dismay and shouts of disapproval.  The war chief held up his hands and waited for silence.  Nothing great is accomplished without loss of life.  The gods demand sacrifice!  Some of you will be spared to fight another day, but to those who are not, I say they shall know glory!

Kirk’s interest ratcheted up a notch.  What was this?  A primitive who didn’t believe in his shaman’s magic?  Could Rain of Stars have been educated in white schools, perhaps even in Europe?  His speech was eloquent, well thought out and compelling, but there was nothing about him that shouted he was out of place – or out of time.  Squinting, the starship captain focused on the war chief.  He was over six foot, which was unusual in this time period – Kirk glanced at his companion – but not that unusual.  His hair was deep brown, almost near-black, as expected.  Well-built, muscular.  For the man to survive to his late twenties, as he looked to have done, then he would have to be able to defend himself.  Kirk waited as Rain of Stars moved to the center of the natural stage and then walked toward them.  As he came to a rest, the moonlight struck him fully.  What Kirk saw took his breath away. 

Rain of Stars could have been Spock’s brother. 

Daniel Boone had not missed the startling likeness either.  “You think they could be related?”

Kirk quickly shook his head.  Then, he thought about it.  Spock did have human ancestors.  Who knew what stock Amanda Grayson’s line had arisen from?  Though he had always thought Spock got his darkly handsome looks from his Vulcan father.

“Take up your arms, my brothers,” Rain of Stars urged.  “Lift them high!”  As the Shawnee did what he asked, whooping and shouting, he continued, speaking over the savage noise.  “Tonight the purge begins!  Your actions this night will fall as the first footsteps on the path that will lead to a world ruled by the red man!  Tonight – ”  The war chief stopped.  His lean face grew thoughtful.  He closed his eyes as if thinking.  Then they snapped open suddenly. 

“Spies!” Rain of Stars declared, pointing directly at their hiding place.  “There are spies among us.  Take them!”

Kirk glanced at Daniel Boone.  The frontiersman shrugged and then slid back into the leaves.

It was a good thing Spock hadn’t been around to calculate those odds.

 

“Will you look at that!”  Yadkin whistled low as he hefted his rifle and sighted along the barrel.  “Like picking birds off a fence.  I ain’t seen so many of them ignorant savages come to one place with murder on their minds since old Blackfish tried to take the fort back in ‘75.”

Dr. McCoy was growing tired of his companion’s bloodthirsty nature.  The blond frontiersman seemed to find it impossible to think of the natives occupying the hollow below them as men – but then again the surgeon had to admit, that was a common enough practice even in his century.  Turn your enemy into a thing instead of a man, and you can kill him with impunity.   McCoy reached out and placed his hand on the barrel, tipping it toward the ground.  “Put that thing down!” he growled.

“You got a death wish, Doc?” the blond man asked, one eye shut and still looking.

“I don’t want anyone to die!  I’m a surgeon not a murderer!”

“Murder?  Why this ain’t murder.”  Yadkin lowered the rifle and looked at him.  “You ever seen what them heathen savages do to white men and women?”

“Have you ever seen what white men and women do to the families of those heathen savages!” McCoy countered, a little too loudly for present circumstances.

“Doc.  Keep your voice down.  We don’t want to – ”  The blond man swallowed hard.  “Looks like it might be too late….”

McCoy spun back toward the scene unfolding below them.  They were on the top of the ridge, above and to the right hand side of the natural stage.  The native made a proclamation, saying there were spies among them. To McCoy’s horror, the man raised a hand and pointed, sending the mass of over one hundred angry and agitated Native Americans 

In the opposite direction from them.

Yadkin pushed his hat back on his head and let out a whistle of relief.  “Now don’t that beat all!  How do you figure that?”

McCoy was afraid he didn’t want to.  Something, he didn’t know what – call it instinct or a divine voice within – told him one of his friends was at the end of that tanned finger and that, whoever it was, they were in serious trouble.

“Can we get around there?  Without going through the hollow?” the surgeon asked as sweat broke out on his brow and upper lip.

“You gonna get sick, Doc?”

McCoy brushed it away.  “It’s nerves, damn it!  I think one of my friends is in trouble.”

Yadkin glanced back to the scene below.  The shouting, swirling mob was spilling out of the natural grassy bowl as if someone had tipped it.  “You think your friend is the one that crazy Injun’s talking about?”

McCoy swallowed over his fear.  “Yes.”

The blond man eyed the explosive situation one more time.  “Safer on this side,” he said at last.

The surgeon turned to him.  “What if it was one of your friends?  What if it is?  Spock was with Daniel Boone remember?  Damn it, man!  They could be together!  We have to do something!”

The ten seconds it took Yadkin to puzzle it out, were nine seconds too many for McCoy.  He muttered a curse under his breath and then turned, intending to blaze a new trail through the Kentucky wilderness if he had to in order to get on the other side of the bowl.  As he rose up, intending to desert their hiding place, Carolina Yadkin caught him by the arm.

“You’re plum loco, Doc,” the frontiersman said with a shake of his head.  “And if that ain’t bad enough, you’re goin’ the wrong way.  Follow me.”

 

Kirk’s heart was pounding ferociously in his chest, not out of fear but from sheer physical exertion.  He and Daniel Boone were flying through the thick trees and underbrush with little caution, running as fast as they could.  So far they had outdistanced their enemies far enough that the arrows and musket balls fired at them fell short of their mark.  But they both were tiring.  The last time he had looked back, a bullet had struck a tree less than three meters behind them sending bark and bugs scattering.  If they didn’t shake their pursuers soon, or find some vantage point where they could mount a counterattack, they were dead men.  Kirk knew all too well how deadly such primitive firearms and their projectiles could be.  He had almost lost Spock to one when the Vulcan had taken a musket ball in the back on the planet Neural the year before.   

“You…know the…land,” Kirk shouted as they ran forward.  “Any place where we can defend…ourselves?”

Daniel Boone was leaping over a fallen log.  One hand was on his coonskin cap and the other tightly gripped his rifle.  “There’s a craggy…shelf up ahead, part…of the ridge behind us…‘bout five minutes from here.  If we can…reach it, I can fire back…on them.”

“Five…minutes?”  Kirk glanced back.  He could see the natives now, flowing like river water through the trees.  The moonlight struck the barrels of their raised rifles.  He knew it was exaggerated, but it looked like they held a thousand guns – all pointed at him. 

“They seem mighty angry,” the frontiersman remarked with a lopsided grin.  “Don’t think they cotton to us much.”

That was a bit of an understatement.  Kirk opened his mouth to reply, but closed it quickly as a musket ball whizzed past his ear.  Speech was useless at this point.  What they needed were faster feet.

“Punch it up!” the starship captain commanded as he reached inside himself for some unused reserve of strength.  Boone nodded and the two of them began a last desperate sprint to reach the crag.  He could see it rising before them, not too far off.  Unfortunately, the lessening of the distance between them and it was directly proportionate to the increase of the missiles flying about them.  He heard Boone grunt as an arrow struck a glancing blow on his shoulder.  A second later a hot lead ball cut a crease in Kirk’s calf.  He ignored the injury as surely as the frontiersman.  With blood dripping, Kirk pressed forward toward the rocky haven that beckoned like a siren’s song.  They were within shouting distance when he heard a sharp report from a rifle and an answering grunt from his companion.  Turning to look, Kirk was horrified to see a crimson stain spreading across Daniel Boone’s chest.

“No!” he cried as he turned back to catch the big man before he fell.  Boone was breathing hard.  “Can you climb?”

The frontiersman nodded.  Kirk moved to support him with his shoulder, and then helped him to mount the rocky stair as more musket balls and arrows struck the unyielding boulders surrounding them.  Several seconds later he understood why Daniel Boone had brought them to this place.  There was a twist in the path, another turn, and then it opened onto a shelf big enough for a man to stretch out, with full command of the land below.  He helped the frontiersman to sit and then snatched the rifle from his hands.

Daniel Boone caught his wrist.  “She’s a good one, Ticklicker,” he remarked shakily.  The big man’s face was chalk-white and he was breathing hard.  “Take care of her and she’ll always shoot straight.”

Not exactly certain what the frontiersman was talking about, Kirk grabbed his companion’s powder bag and began to load the rifle.  It would only be seconds before the first of the natives reached them, and while he was trained in the use of ancient weapons, he was only one man.

And there were over a hundred Shawnee.

 

“Good Lord!” McCoy cried as he and Yadkin came clear of a thick stand of trees.  They had followed the rocky ridge around to the left, traveling above the heads of the Shawnee and the men the natives chased.  He had not been able to get a good look at the fleeing pair, but he didn’t think either of them was Spock.  One was a brown blur.  The other seemed to be wearing a gold shirt and dark pants.  They were running for their lives, weaving this way and that, ducking and rolling when they could.  He had watched them, hoping to divine something, until the trees interfered.  It was only now as they emerged and were able to look down on the place where the two men had chosen to make their stand, that he realized just who it was the Shawnee were trying to kill.

“How the hell did Jim Kirk get here?” he growled out loud.

“You know the man with Dan’l?” Yadkin replied, his concern for his friend open and unmasked.

McCoy nodded.  Yes, he knew him.  As the surgeon watched, Jim raised one of the antique weapons so prevalent in this aggressive society and fired.  A native dropped in his tracks.  Not quite half a minute later, a second followed.  But the Shawnee were ants swarming a hill.  There was no way Jim could win.

He was going to die.

Yadkin hesitated though his rifle was loaded.  “If I fire, they’ll come after us as well.”

McCoy nodded.  At least it would divide their forces.  “Do it!”

The blond man winked and then took aim.  Another native fell with a scream.  For a moment the dying man’s companions were confused.  Then, as one, about a dozen turned and looked up at the ridge.

“That’s done it,” Yadkin said with an ornery grin.  “You got any weapons in that there bag of yours, Doc?  If not, I don’t think we’ll live long enough to need any of your medicine.”

Bones froze.  He blinked.  How stupid was he?

He had a phaser.

Opening the bag, McCoy began to rummage in it even as Jim and Yadkin’s rifles sounded.  His hands were shaking so hard it took precious seconds more than he had, but he finally found it.  Relieved, he palmed the energy weapon, managing to resist the urge to lift the small boxlike hand-phaser to his lips and kiss it.  Then he had a disagreeable thought.

The Prime Directive.

What should he do?  This was a primitive society centuries away from the first laser.  Federation regulations forbid the use of the phaser in such cases.  But if he didn’t use it Jim Kirk would die, to say nothing of Daniel Boone who had many years yet to live and many things to accomplish.  Could he let the trailblazer die? 

Wouldn’t that change history?

McCoy thought furiously.  The time travelers arrival on Earth had disturbed the planet’s natural progression.  It was no longer an untouched culture.  It seemed to him, in the long run, that preserving the lives of Daniel Boone and his captain far outweighed any risks one phaser blast might entail.

And if the Starfleet Brass wanted to court-martial him, then so be it!

McCoy glanced at his companion.  Yadkin had just fired a shot.  He was searching in his powder bag for supplies to reload.  The blond man was awfully close.  Too close.  He would see the phaser and recognize that it was something that did not belong in eighteenth century Kentucky.  Wincing with the decision, McCoy picked up a rock and tested it for weight.  Then, without hesitation, he brought it down on Yadkin’s head.  As his companion dropped to the ground, the surgeon peered over the edge of the gray boulder the blond frontiersman had been using to balance his rifle.  The Shawnee were almost on Jim.  He didn’t see Boone anywhere.  He could only hope he was close to Kirk and out of harm’s way. 

Trying to make the action at least appear to be some natural phenomenon, McCoy took aim at an outcropping of rock just to the left and below his friend and fired.  The phaser’s light lashed out, struck the rock and caused it to explode, casting a cascade of heavyweight missiles at the men attempting to scale the crag.  The surgeon held his breath as the Shawnee reacted, praying to every Deity he knew of – including Vulcan’s – that he would not have to fire again.   The natives stood their ground, not advancing, but not retreating either.  McCoy gnawed his lip.  While he waited to see what happened, he found himself imagining Jim Kirk’s scowl of disapproval, and Spock’s chastising stare.  Well, hell!  They weren’t here to advise him, now were they?  McCoy still had his finger on the phaser’s trigger.  If he had to fire again, he would.  The surgeon let out a heartfelt sigh of relief a moment later as the Shawnee backed down and started to retreat.

A noise drew his attention.  Beside him, Carolina Yadkin was stirring.  McCoy hid the phaser in his waistcoat pocket and then offered him a hand up.

“What happened?” the blond man asked as he put a hand to his head.  It was bleeding.  “Dang!”

 “A stray rock.  Someone down there must have a powerful right arm,” McCoy lied.  He took the blond man by the arm.  “Can you travel?  We need to get to them!  One or both may be hurt.”

Yadkin nodded and though he was pale as paste, started to move.  “Follow me, Doc.  This way!”

 

It took them about three minutes to reach the rocky shelf.  McCoy was sorry to find he had been right.  One of their friends was hurt.

In fact, Daniel Boone was dying.