TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE DWELL

Chapter Twenty

 

James T. Kirk turned to find himself staring down the barrel of a very long rifle held by a very tall, very secure warrior.  The man’s arms were bronzed ripples.  Even his muscles had muscles.  He was lean as, though less spare than Spock, with a head of the same patent leather hair going azure in the rising light.  His costume was quaint: a painted leather vest that barely contained another set of rippling muscles, a weapons belt from which a number of deadly looking instruments hung, and a pair of blue wool felt trousers with a red stripe running down the outside of each leg.

They made him look like a aircar parking attendant.

Kirk raised his hands even as he climbed to his feet.  In one was a cluster of red berries.  He smiled at his assailant and said, accompanying the words with his most charming smile, “Sure you don’t care to try some?”

The native was not amused.  His near-black eyes took in Kirk’s gold uniform shirt, bloodied from battle, his black pants and regulation boots.  They narrowed slightly after finishing the inspection, as if the change of focus might make it possible to see him in a new light.

“Who are you?” the native asked.

“You first,” Kirk offered.  “It’s only polite.”

The warrior’s upper lip twitched.  “ ‘Politeness is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts’,” he replied.

Kirk blinked.  The native’s tone ran like a river on a clear, untroubled day.  His pronunciation was crisp and just as clean.  “Pardon me,” the starship captain said, “you are Shawnee, aren’t you?”

The man’s brow crinkled like a tossed off piece of parchment.  “Do I look Shawnee?”

“You don’t sound Shawnee.”

The lip rebelled again.  He almost smiled.  “What do I sound like?”

Kirk thought a moment.  Then he shrugged.  “My English professor at the Academy?”

A second later the starship captain got the shock of his life.  The native’s left eyebrow arched and he muttered, “Fascinating.”

Into the stunned silence that followed came the sound of someone breaking through the underbrush.  It made both of them turn.  The native did not lower the rifle until he saw who it was.  Like a dryad out of ancient Greece, Lieutenant Uhura appeared from out of the green shadows.  When she saw the two of them together, she did a strange thing – her beautiful face broke with a smile and she beamed.

Uhura’s hands went to her shapely hips and she pronounced, “And here I was worried about you, Captain.”

He glanced at the tall native.  “I think you might have had reason.”

The lieutenant looked puzzled.

“Mingo heap big warrior,” the elegant native said, thumbing his chest as he did.  “Scare small man in gold shirt mighty much.”

 Kirk pulled his ruined shirt down and straightened up to his full height – which was still about five inches too short.  If Spock had been that size, the Vulcan would have really been intimidating.

“Mingo, I assume,” he said, stepping forward with his hand extended.

“I am afraid you have the advantage of me.”

“And about time,” Kirk murmured under his breath.  “Captain James T. Kirk.  Lieutenant…er, Miss…Uhura is my….”

She came close.  In the communication officer’s eyes was a confession she obviously thought best kept to herself.  “He knows, sir.  Not everything, but most of it.”

“You told him?” Kirk bristled.

Before she could shake her head, Mingo answered, “Not Nyota.  Spock.”

Kirk whirled, instantly ready for action.  “Spock?  How?  Where?”

“Captain,” Uhura interrupted.  “Dr. McCoy sent me.  He’s ready to move Mr. Boone.”

Mingo looked like she had slapped him in the face.  “What has happened to Daniel?”

Kirk glanced at his bloody shirt.  The tall native did not miss the gesture.  “About a hundred Shawnee and one musket ball,” he answered grimly.  As Mingo grew alarmed, the captain continued, “Our ship’s surgeon is with him now.  Umbele is there too.  Daniel’s stabilized.”  Kirk stopped, rewound.  “I mean he’s out of danger for the moment.”

“I must see him,” the warrior proclaimed in a voice that was not to be denied. 

Kirk caught his arm in passing.  “I understand.  Daniel told me about you.  You and he are brothers.  Spock is my…brother.  I need to find him.”

Mingo locked eyes with him.  For a moment it was like two bulls clashing.  Then, as Spock would have, the tall native yielded with a nod.  “I must see Daniel for myself, and then I will help you.”

 

 

They arrived at the bottom of the ridge no more than five minutes later.  McCoy was waiting for them with Yadkin at his side.  The blond frontiersman was looking decidedly green.  Apparently the sobriety drug Bones had given him was wearing off.  Still, in spite of that, the pair had managed to rig a travois to bear the unconscious trailblazer back to his settlement and safety.  As they approached Bones did a double-take.  Kirk knew why.  Here came his captain, flanked by a tall alien-looking creature with raven-black hair and one raised eyebrow.

It appeared the universe was trying to right itself.

“Jim?” McCoy jawed.

The blond man beside Bones exploded incoherently.  “Goldarnit, Mingo!  I shoulda knowed you’d show up!” Yadkin proclaimed as his weather-beaten face pinched with payment for the bourbon.  “Here me and the doc thought you was gone beaver.  We’ve had a hogshead of trouble since we set  to followin’ that trail of your’n.” 

Kirk looked to the native for translation.  Mingo pursed his lips and sighed.  “Yadkin is happy to see me.”

“Obviously,” the captain said with a roll of his eyes.  “Bones, how’s Boone?”

“Holding his own.  There’s nothing more I can do for him really other than sit and hold his hand, and Umbele is doing that quite nicely.  She’s quite a lady!”

“I wonder what Rebecca would think of that,” Mingo said as he walked forward.  “May I see him, Doctor?”

“Is that the pretty redhead I met at the tavern?” McCoy asked.

Mingo nodded.

“Best medicine a man could get.  Two pretty women.”  He shook hands with Mingo and then said, “Come on, I’ll take you to him.”

As they disappeared around the bend of rocks and Yadkin, wobbling slightly, went back to keeping watch, Uhura turned to her captain and asked as always, “What now, sir?”

Responsibility righted itself and sat squarely on his shoulders.  “I want to find Spock – I need to find Spock, but I can’t let that be my main focus.  There’s something going on here.  Something more than Willow said.”

“Willow, sir?”  Uhura’s coal black brows winged toward the rising morn.

“Ask McCoy,” he sighed wearily as the doctor and Mingo appeared once again, “when he gets back.” 

“Back?”  Bones ears weren’t pointed, but they were sharp.  “Where am I going?”

“With me, to find Spock and stop the time travelers.”

“Is that all?”  the surgeon bristled.  “I can’t leave my patient – ”

“You just said there was nothing more you could do for him.”

“Well, I didn’t mean it.”

Kirk’s scowl was withering.  “Are you in the habit of lying to me, Doctor?”

“Jim….”

“I need you, Bones.  Uhura says Spock was badly wounded.  He’s been out there for nearly two days.  No one else….”  He glanced at Yadkin who was leaning on his rifle and watching them with narrowed eyes.  “No one else understands his unique physiology.”

“You talkin’ about that there green blood of his?” the blond man asked before he spit.  “Thought that was mighty funny myself afore the doc explained it.”

That must have been a performance worthy of the Bard, Kirk thought.  “Would you care to explain it to me, doctor?”

“You didn’t get those stripes for book learning, so I suppose I’ll have to,” Bones snapped back.   The surgeon glanced at the place where Daniel Boone lay, sheltered from the rising sun.  “If that green-blooded hobgoblin didn’t always find a way to get himself into trouble – ” he groused.

“You’d be out of a job.”

McCoy scowled at him and then kicked him lightly in the calf – just above the bandage. 

“Ouch!”

“No such luck.”

“Bones!”

“Let me get my bag.  I’ll need to show Uhura….”  He glanced at Yadkin and then shook his head.  “I’ll need to show Uhura what to do.  If I could, I’d let Umbele handle it.  She’s got a doctor’s ways.  But….”  Bones eyes met his.  “Uhura will need to administer the drugs to fight off infection.”  Translation: handle the hypo-spray.

Mingo looked at Uhura and Yadkin who were standing side by side.  “Daniel is a big man.  His transport will not prove an easy enterprise.”

“You’re not coming with us?” the lieutenant asked, her tone sorely disappointed.

“I must show James the way,” he apologized softly.  “If possible, I would wish nothing more than to accompany you, Nyota.”

The slightly tipsy Yadkin missed what was happening between the two entirely.  “Surely one of them there Shawnee had a horse,” he said as he stomped off.  “I’ll be back when I find one.  Or, if I find a Shawnee instead, we’ll just hitch him up.”

 

“Where do you suppose they are, Jim?” McCoy asked as he joined him some time later, doctor’s bag in hand.  Uhura, Umbele and Yadkin – and one slightly miffed horse – had just taken off for the settlement.  “The natives, I mean.”

“Hopefully?  Canada.”  Kirk drew a breath and puffed it out instead of his chest.  “Probably?  Regrouping, I would guess.”

“You think they still intend to attack the settlement?  Is it safe then to send Uhura and Yadkin – ”

“No, I don’t, Bones.  I think they think they were betrayed.  I think the Shawnee are hunting the one called Rain of Stars.”

Mingo joined them, parking appropriately to Kirk’s right; the matching bookend for McCoy on his left.  “That would make sense.  The Shawnee are highly superstitious.  And I would not put it beyond Unemake to use this change of fortune as a means of extricating himself.  As a shaman, he could turn events around to support the hypothesis that Rain of Stars was false all along and that he should be destroyed.”

McCoy blinked at him.  “Hypothesis?  What kind of native uses the word ‘hypothesis’?”

“One who has studied at Oxford.”

“In a pig’s eyes!” McCoy spat.

There it was.  That errant eyebrow rising.  “Do you doubt my veracity, Doctor?”

“Good God, Jim!  There’s two of him!”

Mingo hesitated, and then his face broke like sun on a rain-washed morning and he smiled.  “I believe I might have failed to mention, Dr. McCoy, that I started my adulthood by trodding the boards.”

It was McCoy’s turn to blink.  “Huh?”

“He was an actor, Bones.”

“Oh.”  Then the surgeon brightened.  “So you were just pulling my leg?”

“Why would I endeavor to do such a thing?” Mingo asked, perfectly deadpan.

Bones gave up.  He threw his hands in the air and started to walk away.  Kirk took a step after him.  “Where are you going?” he asked.

“Anywhere but here!” the surgeon tossed over his shoulder.

The two of them watched him for a moment.  Then Mingo bowed and made a smooth gesture with his hand.  “Shall we?”

Kirk’s look was skeptical.  He glanced after the doctor’s retreating form.  “Is he headed in the right direction?”

Mingo shrugged.  “When he runs into the river, he’ll turn back.”

And sure enough, he did.

 

He had never thought to face death on his knees. 

Spock grimaced as he fought to control his rebellious muscles.  D’Ayron knelt behind him and placed his arms about his chest, steadying him.  The Romulan stared down the approaching Shawnee like a mother lion protecting her cub.  If Spock had been human the scene would have perplexed him – a Romulan fiercely defending a Vulcan?  But he was not human and he understood.  Their meld had been sealed in blood.

“Can you fight?” D’Ayron asked him.

Spock shook his head.

“Can you run?”

Again, no.  “Leave me,” he panted between gritted teeth.

“It is me they want, not you.”  D’Ayron released him and Spock nearly collapsed.  Then, deliberately, the young Romulan stepped in front of him.  “It is me you want!” he shouted.

“Yes, it is you,” Unemake said as he pushed through the line of hostile Shawnee.  His thick lips curled in a sneer.  “But it is your demon as well.”

“I see you have persuaded the men that you have no fault in this,” D’Ayron snarled.

The shaman held his head high.  He lifted a hand and pointed.  “I was under that one’s power.”

Convenient, Spock thought, and interesting.  He had never been a scapegoat before.  Summoning every ounce of strength he had left, the Vulcan somehow managed to climb to his feet.  Remaining on them was an exercise in denial.  “What…criteria do you offer…to support your…hypothesis?” he asked, pacing his words with pain.

Unemake’s scowl deepened.  “What are these words?”

It was Spock’s turn to frown.  He fought off the grimace the gesture gave birth to and answered, “Forgive me.  What…proof do you have…that I am a demon?”

“You fell from the sky in a strange metal craft.  You are not like other men.  The truth is written in your face.”  To the hushed murmurs of his men, he added, “You bleed green.”

Spock’s left eyebrow peaked.  “I do not believe…I have ever heard of a demon doing so.”  D’Ayron flashed him a puzzled look.  The Vulcan did not react.  “You have failed to…prove your point.”

Throughout their conversation, as Spock grew more calm, Unemake became ever more incensed.  The Shawnee snatched a knife from one of his men and stalked the distance between them.  Reaching past D’Ayron, he shoved it toward Spock.  “This is the only point you will take, demon!”

It was the opening Spock had been waiting for.  Faster than seemed possible, the Vulcan reached out and dropped the shaman with a nerve pinch.

Picking up on the gasp of fear the action elicited from the gathered Shawnee, D’Ayron proclaimed loudly, “My demon kills with a touch.  Who dares to challenge him, or me?  Do you?” he asked, moving toward one of the trembling warriors.  “Or you?” he asked another.

The men held their ground for ten heartbeats and then scattered.

The Romulan laughed long and hard as he watched them disappear.  “That seals it, Spock.  You have to come back with me.  With my own personal demon I can rule the Empire before I am – ”

Spock was huddled on the ground, trembling.  Another wracking pain had hit his back and it had taken everything in him not to arc into a bone-breaking curve.  He had not been looking at D’Ayron.  As the Romulan fell silent, he looked up. 

The son of Dyan tensed and then screamed as he began to run.  “No!”

Spock noted the Romulan’s eyes were fastened on something that lay behind his own quivering form.  Barely able to maintain control, he turned to look and saw Tor’magh rising like the demon Unemake had named him; his flintlock pistol pointed at Spock’s head.  There was a click and the gun fired.

Illogical as it was, Spock thought, death would come almost as a relief.

A second later D’Ayron was vaulting over him.  The Romulan rolled and came to his feet just in time for the musket ball to strike him in the chest.  He gasped and fell, landing on Spock and then rolling off. 

Tor’magh was groggy and unsure on his feet, but he was certain of what he would do next.  Drawing new powder and another ball from his shoulder bag, he began to load his pistol again.  Spock glanced at D’Ayron where the young Romulan lay bleeding, his blood painting the Kentucky grass a deeper green.  He could not tell if it had been a killing shot.  Romulans, like Vulcans, carried their hearts low on their left hand side.  The ball seemed to have taken him in the center of the chest.  If D’Ayron had been human, he would have been dead.

The Klingon, gloating, came to stand over them.  “Now it is your turn, Vulcan.  I was right to begin with.  The best thing for you to do is die.” 

Spock shifted wearily.  He turned as if to avoid the blow –

As if.

A second later he pivoted sharply and thrust up, driving Unemake’s knife deep into the Klingon’s heart.

He knew exactly where it was.

For a second Tor’magh’s arrogant face registered his surprise.  Then he tumbled to the ground and this time, stayed there.

Spock was breathing hard.  His respiration was growing more difficult.  The spasms were moving to his larynx.  Using his fingers as claws, he dragged himself to D’Ayron’s side and placed a hand on the young Romulan’s chest.  The mind link flickered, faintly.  He was not dead, but it would not be long.

Overcome at last, Spock lost consciousness.  He fell, clutching his long removed son’s hand.

 

It was Kirk who found him.  Spock.  Bathed in green.  His skin, deathly white.  Totally still. 

Totally still. 

The strange tableau in the forest was as moving as it was incomprehensible.  He and Mingo had passed a dozen frightened Shawnee on their way.  The tall native had caught one of the men and questioned him, but the warrior’s answers made no sense.  He spoke of the shaman and the war chief, and the war chief’s demon, and of how the demon had won.

The battle looked hard fought, but it didn’t seem that anyone had won.

As Kirk hesitated, stunned, McCoy moved to claim his rightful place at Spock’s side.  Mingo had followed the Shawnee to make certain they did not return, so that left the two of them alone with his discovery.  The doctor did a double-take as he examined the fallen men, then his training kicked in.  Before the starship captain could shudder free of his unsubstantiated fear, McCoy dropped to the ground, medical scanner in hand.  The shock that registered on his face when he looked at the readings was acid to Kirk’s already bleeding heart.  Bones ran it again, shook his head, and then looked up.

“Good God, Jim!  He’s a mass of infection.”

That was good, Kirk thought.  Wasn’t it?  Who’d care if a dead man was infected? 

“Bones, is he alive?”

“Barely.”

Kirk moved to join the surgeon, still unnerved by the silence and the still more silent bodies.  He’d seen worse before, but this was something he had hoped never to see: Spock, covered in green blood.

“It’s not his, Jim,” McCoy said kindly, as if reading his mind.  “The Romulan.”

Kirk looked.  He saw a native.  “What Romulan?”

“This one,” Bones said, his scanner humming.  Then, gently, he brushed the man’s deep umber hair back to reveal one pointed ear.

Kirk gulped.  “Is he alive?”

McCoy nodded absentmindedly.  “Barely.”

“Can’t you say anything else?”

The surgeon looked over his shoulder.  “Well, that one’s a Klingon.  Does that make you happy?”

“A Klingon!”

“Scanned him a second ago.  He’s dead.”

As McCoy eased Spock’s form off of the Romulan and laid him gently in the grass, Kirk knelt beside the dead Klingon.  He had been surgically altered to look like a human and was dressed quite elegantly for the time.  Kirk noted the silver buckles on his shoes.  This must be Uhura’s slaver.  What had she called him – Tume?

What was a Klingon doing on 19th century Earth pretending to be a slaver?  Was he one of the Initiator’s agents?  Kirk looked at the man beside Spock. 

Was the Romulan?

Returning to McCoy’s side, he was startled to find him tending to the enemy.  “Bones, what are you doing?”

“Spock’s battling a massive infection.  I gave him a powerful broad spectrum antibiotic shot.  There’s nothing else I can do for the moment.”  He lifted a pressure bandage out of his bag and covered the back side with adhesive spray.  “This man, Romulan or not, is bleeding to death!  You want me to let him die?”

Kirk swallowed over his guilt.  “No, of course not.  Sorry, Bones.  I’m worried about Spock.”

“You should be,” the surgeon growled.  “Worst case of tetanus I’ve ever seen.”

The ship’s captain glanced at the Vulcan’s death-mask face.  He knelt by his side and touched his arm and was startled.  Spock was always hot, but today he was on fire.  “Tetanus?  You mean what happens when you step on a rusty nail?”

“It’s nothing when you get immunized beforehand.  Immediate treatment takes care of it with only a little discomfort.”  Bones reached into his bag and pulled out several squishy bags full of green fluid.  “Damn Spock’s Vulcan hide!  He won’t admit his human half.  This isn’t the first time that denying it has almost killed him.”

“What?”

McCoy was preparing an emergency intravenous feed.  The doctor’s voice trailed off as he became engaged in his work.  “Medical records.  Ask him about that bout of chickenpox some time.”

Several minutes passed while McCoy worked on both men.  Kirk watched him with growing admiration.  Whatever anyone thought of the curmudgeonly southern doctor, he knew his stuff.  Finally, the surgeon reached up and wiped his brow.  Then he rocked back on his heels. 

“This one will make it,” he said of the Romulan.  Bones hesitated, chewing his lower lip.  Then just those ice-blue eyes looked up.  “You know, Jim, I packed that green blood for Spock.”

“What about Spock?”  He looked at his friend.  There was little or no color in the Vulcan’s cheeks and he didn’t seem to be breathing.  Kirk resisted the childish urge to place his head low on Spock’s torso and check for a heartbeat.

 “Trickier.  The disease has progressed at an incredibly rapid pace, probably due to overexertion and stress.  I really need to get him to the ship, Jim.”

“You and what time tube?” Kirk muttered.

“Jim,” Bones answered, in that tone that indicated there was something more – something he probably did not want to hear.

The blond man glanced at his friend.  “What?  Am I waiting on the other shoe to drop?”

“Did you listen to what I said before?”

He thought back.  He thought he had.  “Didn’t I?”

“I said, I used the blood I brought for Spock on the Romulan.”

“So?”

McCoy stifled a sigh.  “Spock’s a hybrid, remember?”

It was beginning to penetrate the fog.  “Yes…”

“T-negative blood is extremely rare and Spock’s has certain human factors.”

Kirk’s honey colored eyebrows waggled.  He felt like a prize pupil letting his professor down.  “And….”

“Well, Romulans have nearly the same blood types.”

It was like pulling teeth.  “Bones, what are you getting at?”

“I can’t explain it, Jim, but this Romulan has T-negative blood with positive human factors.  Oh, it’s only a trace, but it’s there.”

“Captain,” a pained voice broke in.

Both men whirled.  Spock was awake!  Kirk knelt beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder.  “You’ll be all right.  It’ll just take some time.”

“Damn it, Spock!” McCoy said at the same time.  “You shouldn’t be awake!”

“Bones.”  Kirk shot a warning salvo with his hazel eyes.  “Let him talk.”

“D’Ayron?” Spock asked, his fevered gaze reflecting real concern.

“D’Ayron?  The Romulan?.  You beat him Spock.  He’s alive, but he won’t hurt anyone – ”

“Jim.”  Spock’s hand gripped his arm and he felt a violent spasm pass through his friend’s battered and bruised frame.  “Not…the enemy.”

Kirk glanced at the young Romulan.  D’Ayron’s cheeks had more color now – well, at least they were tinged green.  “No?” he asked.

“No,” Spock rasped just before his hand fell to his side.

“Family.”