Disclaimer: The Star Trek characters are not mine, just borrowed for this story.
Warnings: language and violence.
Reviews are always welcome and appreciated
Catching A Weasel Asleep
Six Months Ago
The stench of death hangs in the air, the bodies lying where they fell amongst the debris of what used to be a picturesque homestead. The sheriff takes his hat off and bows his head in a silent prayer for the blood spilled. It's another example of frontier violence that plagues the outlying homes. While Federation City isn't a pinnacle of safety, bloody massacres like this are unusual.
The hairs stand on the back of his neck as a foreboding presence stops behind him. He turns to find one of his deputies escorting a tall man dressed in a well tailored black suit walking with purpose and an assessing eye.
"Sheriff," greets the deputy.
"Any leads on who did this?" demands the man before the deputy can finish his sentence. His voice is clipped and authoritative leaving no room for pleasantries.
The sheriff scowls; he's seen the type before, hired guns or government agents that sweep in on assignment believing they are better than the people who have chosen to build their lives in the 'uncivilized' west. The harshness of the frontier confuses them and he is glad they don't stay long as a result. There are no rules out here and well put together men like the one standing before him fail to embrace the brutal nature of the region, trying to apply their civilized standards to situations they can't possibly fit in.
"Savages probably got restless. There's a wagon trail to the north, mebbe a raiding party," offers the sheriff. It's just another day. Until the army finishes eradicating the natives, there will be more days like this.
"And did you do any investigating before you came to that conclusion?" asks the man. His bland even tone is intimidating without being forceful. He glares at the sheriff like a child pulling apart a bug.
He doesn't need someone telling him how to do his job, especially some city boy who doesn't even have any dirt on his boots. "It's a common problem in these parts. Most of the land is still unclaimed and lawless. This is the old Kirk homestead; it's been abandoned for almost twenty years so it's not like we come to check on the place. If Mr Nero and his men were staying here, it would make them an easy target for any roaming tribe to take advantage of. The bucks would count it an easy coup."
"Yes and do these savages often have medical degrees?" the man asks, his irritation just simmering below the surface.
"What's that supposed to mean?" spits the sheriff, puffing himself up just a little.
"Your deputy said your doctor is missing. And his office was vandalized."
"He could have just taken hisself off. Happens a lot around here." There was no reason to think someone would harm the doctor. They had been hoping the vandalism was just a coincidence to the doctor leaving because there were no leads as to where he had gone. He refuses to consider that the doctor was taken against his will.
"I would say your doctor has defected, Sheriff Taylor."
"McCoy?" stammers the sheriff in disbelief. He's seen people do things not within their nature but he highly doubts the doctor slaughtered all these people. "He's a dandy from down south. Wouldn't know which end of a gun the bullet comes out of. Certainly can't see him turnin' Indian anytime soon." The sheriff and the deputy share a mutual shaking of heads, the deputy adding a chuckle at the sheriff's declaration.
The man stares them both down. "I've already been inside. There's a medical bag in the house with high quality tools, not something someone other than a professional would own or afford. They're also all covered in blood and since your deputies haven't identified the doctor among the dead, I would wager he was an accomplice to the raiding party. You are right about one thing. No one has turned Indian here."
The sheriff has heard some wild theories in his time but this is bordering on the fantastical. "It doesn't mean that Dr McCoy was a party to this. You're sure coming up with some crazy ideas for a stranger." Just another example of fancy city folk coming to the underbelly of the world and being lost at sea. "What did you say your name was?"
The man's maniacal smile widens. "Harrison, Agent John Harrison with the railway. And I'm going to track your raiders down and make them pay for killing one of my employer's business associates."
Two Months Later
Kirk steps around the corner and comes to an abrupt halt. His eyes narrow slightly as he stares down the barrel of the gun pointed at his head. "Reach for the sky," demands the voice behind the gun and Jim slowly complies with the demand. His trigger finger itches to make a move, to draw and hope for the best, but he knows he doesn't stand a chance of pulling his weapon before his adversary gets his shot off.
McCoy practically walks into the back of the Captain as he turns the corner. He takes a cautious step to Jim's left as Spock, a little swifter on his feet, takes his position at Jim's right without the fumbling collision. He has to admit he's a little dumbfounded by this turn of events and not sure what to do. Following Kirk's example, he raises his hands in the air.
Spock looks at the scene with curiosity, tilting his head to the side. "Captain?"
"Bang, bang!" shouts the gun wielding menace. Jim's hand flies to his chest, his eyes screwing shut as he staggers backwards. It's McCoy's fast hands that keep Jim on his feet as he slumps against the doctor. The gun quickly turns on the doctor and sends him collapsing down on a nearby bench with a gasp, Kirk on top of him. Without wasting a beat the gunman turns on the Vulcan and repeats his earlier declaration.
Spock stands perfectly still, eyebrow raised.
"I said bang, bang, mister. You're dead," argues the small disgruntled voice behind the gun. His overly large 'ten gallon' hat slides to the back of his head as his eyes travel up and up. Spock remains standing looking down at the slumped heap of McCoy and Kirk.
Jim cracks an eye open and smiles at the muted lost look on Spock's face. He contorts his way to his feet, elbowing McCoy for the sheer satisfaction of hearing the man groan and ruffles the kid's hair. "Sorry bucko, he's not from around here." He leans in close and stage whispers into the small boy's ear, eyes on Spock. "He never played any games as a child."
The boy's eyes widen comically before looking at the Vulcan with almost pity. "You never played cowboys and Indians before, mister?"
"No," is Spock's curt response before lifting his cowboy hat just high enough to expose the point of his ears. He doesn't consider his experience with 'cowboys and Indians' to be any sort of game, nor can he fathom children's need to romanticize and trivialize the slaughtering of his people and the tribes that had once dominated the land. The boy gulps before beating a hasty retreat from the three men standing on the board walk.
The doctor's frown becomes more pronounced as he straightens his shirt. "Did you have to scare the kid, Spock?" he snaps. "Where's your imagination, man?"
Spock looks dispassionately at McCoy, refusing to be intimidated by yet another of the doctor's rants. "I fail to see the point in fearing a wooden gun, doctor, and I do not understand your people's penchant for turning violence into a game for children."
McCoy waves his hand in the direction the boy scampered off in. "Now he's going to alert the whole town that we're here. Not very logical when trying to rob a bank," continues McCoy, looking equal parts exasperated and flighty. The whole idea was bad enough that Jim practically had to drag him along, but now there is building pressure on an already combustible situation. He knows exactly the same thing about robbing banks as he does trains and look at how the latter turned out. He's a doctor not a train robber, as was evident by the forced participation, shaky legs, poor aim and oh yes, getting shot. "This is a good reason to call the whole thing off, Jim."
Kirk rolls his eyes and puts on his most placating smile before clapping McCoy on the shoulder. "Relax, Bones, I'm sure he lives by the cowboy code of honor and if that won't stop him from alerting people to Spock's presence, the fact that he's a scary Vulcan who will sneak into his room at night and eat him, starting with his toes, will keep the kid from blabbing. Besides, who's going to believe the wild imagination of a child?"
"Well, you would know," snarks McCoy, ignoring his own personal point to stop undermining the gang's own man-child while engaged in highly dubious activities.
"Captain, must you continue to perpetuate such blatant lies about my people?"
If either man didn't know better, they'd say there was desperate frustration in Spock's plea. Kirk finds his voice first. "Spock if your pointed ears strike fear in the hearts of settlers than it's only to our advantage. Loosen up and get a sense of humor."
"Like that's going to happen," McCoy mutters, earning him a sharp Vulcan stare.
Jim's sharp eyes scan the town, watching the ebb and flow of people as they bustle about their day. Sigma Iotia isn't a large town but it's at a major junction for travel by boat, train and wagon. It's also home to the last bank holding Nero's blood money, paid to him by the railway for his 'help' in displacing the Vulcans from their land. Jim resumes his journey towards the bank and their mission before they were interrupted by the pintsized cowboy.
Spock and McCoy share an irritated look with one another before catching up to their captain. Gesturing wildly with his hands, McCoy asks, "That explains why you brought Spock along but why the hell am I here? Hell, you know I'm no good with a gun, that I don't like them, don't want to use one, and certainly I'm not comfortable with hostage situations... or any harebrained idea you come up with! I'm a doctor, goddammit, not a stick-up artist."
"All you have to do, Doctor," explains Spock with his own special brand of condescension, "is point the weapon at your intended target."
McCoy crosses his arms, his lips pressing in a thin line. "How about I point it at you!"
Spock tips his head to the side in consideration and raises an eyebrow. "Indeed, Dr McCoy. Directly in front of your gun would be the place one is least likely to sustain injury."
"Why you, green blooded..." starts the doctor, taking a threatening step forward.
Jim raises both arms and steps between the two men to maintain the space between them. He's almost certain it would never come to blows between them, although he'd never believed he would have been on the receiving end of McCoy's fist either and found he had misjudged that one. He has to admit it would be an interesting showdown, given their verbal sparring is so entertaining, but they don't have time for either option at the moment. "You may not like guns but no one else knows that. As far as they're concerned, you're a gun wielding outlaw like the rest of us," explains Jim, nice and slow as if speaking to a child. "Your sheer presence will be enough to help dissuade the good townsfolk from being heroes." What he's unwilling to voice is the part where he's more comfortable having McCoy within arm's reach as they enter the fray. Sure, it would be safer to leave him with the horses instead of Chekov or even on the roof with Uhura and her rifle than inside with him and Spock, but the last time the doctor had been alone there had been no one there to protect him from Nero. He's not going to let that happen again.
McCoy scowls but keeps pace. "Won't my mama be so proud," he deadpans. It's times like these he's glad she's not here to see just how far he's fallen from the bright future she saw for him. On the scale of evil, he's barely cracked the meter but the road to hell is surely paved with good intentions and all the good reasons in the book doesn't detract from the armed robbery they're about to commit. Still, he wouldn't feel good about letting the gang throw themselves into danger without him around and like a sea wrecked ship, he'll follow his anchor to the bottom of the ocean.
Sulu's leaning against one of the posts supporting the overhanging roof of the bank by the time the trio's in front of the bank. He gives them a casual nod as they pass by and enter the door. It's the final go ahead in their plan before there's no turning back. He's been keeping tabs on the number of people entering the bank in the fifteen minutes since it opened and it's still empty enough that the numbers are manageable. He tips his hat in the direction of the rooftop Uhura is perched on to signal her to be ready in case the town sheriff gets wind of things going down at the bank and tries to interfere. He's tense, trying to keep the bottle on the nervous energy that wants him to pace in front of the bank like a tiger but that will only draw attention and his job now is to persuade people to come and do their banking later if they try to enter now.
As Kirk steps into the bank he pulls the kerchief tucked around his neck up over his face; behind him Spock and McCoy do the same. The vaguer the wanted posters the safer they are to live their lives and come and go as they please without trouble from the law.
There are two tellers, each dealing with a customer, the bank manager and one customer waiting in line. Spock automatically takes position in the far corner while McCoy begrudgingly takes a few steps to the right.
"Attention ladies and gentlemen," shouts Kirk, "if you'd kindly raise your hands in the air, we can take what we've came for and be out of your way in no time at all." He waves his guns around to make his intentions clear and the townspeople raise their hands with a few startled gasps but no real protest. The element of surprise comes in handy. Jim knows he has a way with words, a confident smile and a seductive swagger which it comes in handy when trying to convince people to do things even if they're not exactly in their best interests. It's saved a few bullets being tossed in their direction over the years.
He looks at the well dressed prissy man behind the counter who looks like he's never seen a day of hard work in his life and knows it has to be the bank manager. It's never hard to tell the ruffians from the law or the poor farmers from the pillars of industry. "If you'd be so kind as to open the safe for us sir," asks Kirk, the menace in his voice casual but unmistakeable.
The bank manager sneers at them like they're lower than the horse shit he accidently stepped in on his way to work, but like most dandies from back south doesn't have the spine or the stomach to deny the gang anything. Jim just flashes an even bigger smile to try and sooth away the sting of the man having to capitulate to a deadbeat thief. The high and mighty always act like they're taking money or goods out of their own pocket. Mostly Jim thinks it's the fear that a month from now, the likes of the gang will come walking back in dressed to the nines in expensive finery and parade around like respectable businessmen and make believe they're equal to the likes of the inherited rich. Personally he can't imagine a worse fate.
The bank manager gives up his token protest and capitulates to Kirk's request, but that doesn't stop him from putting on a show of how long it takes to open the safe which somehow must translate into how amazing and expensive the bank's safety measures are. In Jim's experience guns and ingenuity trumps fancy lock mechanism every time.
While Spock maintains his intense scrutiny of the manager's every move as he stands beside the man waiting for the vault to open, Kirk spares a moment to offer a reassuring smile to the rest of the hostages, whose only misfortune was walking into the bank this morning (if all goes well, it won't escalate to anymore than that). They can't see his mouth, obscured by the kerchief, but his mother always told him his power was in his eyes anyways. Naturally his eyes settle on the lovely young lady who's second in line and he can't help but sway towards her. "Hi," he drawls, "nice day isn't it?"
The lady smiles tipping her head down to conceal the blush and a melodic giggle.
McCoy rolls his eyes at the scene and groans loudly. "Good lord." He shakes his head in disapproval for good measure, not that he thinks it will do any good, especially when Kirk's only response is to shrug his shoulders and take a step closer to the lady to comment on how nice she smells.
It does nothing to set the doctor at ease; his mind already cataloging all the ways this is going to end horribly when Jim actually has his head in the game. The level of doom increases tenfold when Kirk has his head all twisted around some girl. It's times like these he misses home, where at least the ladies had enough self-respect and control to ignore the advances of shameless flirts like Jim. Apparently Leonard isn't the only one whose morals have gone slightly eschewed out in the untamed lands to the west.
Spock takes the satchel of money from the safe, giving a confirming nod to the captain that they're now in possession of what they came for. He quickly makes his way back around the counter and out into the larger room of the bank.
McCoy picks up the bag Kirk kicks towards him and pulls out the lengths of rope. With Jim as a looming gun toting threat behind him, he begins to tie the hostages' hands together. It's not tight, and he leaves their hands in front because he can't bring himself to be cruel enough to make the situation any worse for people whose position he understands all too well. Despite his recent foray into a life of crime, he's still a doctor and knows this experience is traumatic enough without chaffing rope and being left completely helpless.
He offers an apologetic smile to the lady as he holds out a length of rope for her, he was raised to be a gentleman after all. Jim clears his throat and shakes his head, declaring, "I think we can forgo the bindings in this case." Leonard just huffs and drops the rope on the ground. If there's any justice in this world, if he can't be the one to shoot Kirk for all his bullshit, he hopes it's an unassuming sweet lady that gets the honor. That'll teach the kid to think with his anatomy and not the sense the good lord gave him.
Jim stands at attention, his eyes focused on the bank manager, two tellers and the rather unimpressed looking gentlemen still standing in line. "It's been an absolute pleasure, gentlemen and lady," he declares giving a wink to the lady in question. He tips his head toward the door, for Spock to take his leave. McCoy follows, switching his attention to what awaits outside the door than those still in the bank. Sulu's been minding the street but there's always the possibility they're walking out into an ambush. Jim walks backwards slowly, guns trained on the bank hostages, making sure they don't have any late blossoming heroes in their midst.
Across the street Uhura watches Spock exit the bank. She leans over the side of the building she's perched on and gives the all clear nod to Scotty on the ground. Like the well-oiled machine they are, he gives the signal to Chekov to bring in the horses for Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu. Uhura shifts her attention back to watching the street from on high. It goes smoothly, everyone mounting their horses calmly and casually, not drawing any unwanted attention, intending to ride out of town at a brisk pace.
That illusion is shattered abruptly by a woman running out of the bank screaming like a banshee about the place having been robbed. It doesn't take a lot for Uhura to figure out the catalyst for this turn of events, letting out a long and measured breath. Kirk always has a soft spot from pretty ladies. After riding with her for so long, she'd hoped Kirk would break himself of the idea that pretty in a dress doesn't mean the girl always ends up enthralled in his charm. She stares down the barrel of her rifle following the growing action in the street below.
"Trouble?" asks Scotty from below, gripping the reigns of his and Uhura's horses a little tighter. He's safely tucked behind a building but he's pretty sure the rest of the gang hasn't had enough time to clear out of town yet.
Uhura keeps a firm grip on her gun and makes her way to the side of the roof to climb down. "Plan B," she says as she mounts her horse.
The sheriff's storming towards the bank with a handful of people in tow and a posse is quickly forming.
"You bet your ass," agrees Scotty, spurring his horse forward. They ride as fast as they can to the opposite edge of town and light the sticks of dynamite the engineer has prepared. With any luck the explosion will divide the sheriff's men and keep most of the townspeople busy controlling the fire in the abandoned cabin. Once the fuse is lit, they ride like wind away from town, praying the rest of the gang makes it back to camp unharmed.
Kirk and company kick their horses into a full on gallop when they hear the woman's cries. The explosion at the other end of town only confirms the fear that they've been made. They ride on, the sheriff and several of his deputies hot on their heels. The canyon's not far from town with its twists and turns and multitude of trails carved into its stony earth; they can lose any pursuers in there.