Jim rode his horse as fast as he could toward the Lakota, not sure what he might find there…


Iron Fist stood to greet West as he heard the pounding of the horse approaching. "Greetings, Mr. West."

"Iron Fist," Jim called as he jumped off his horse.

"Why are you here?"

"I need your help."

"In solving a mystery?"

If Jim was surprised, he didn't show it. "Yes."

West looked around and didn't see the shaman. "Where is Cantetekiya?"

Iron Fist looked around at his tribe and frowned. "I do not know. He cannot be far."

"May I speak, Iron Fist?"

"Of things I do not want to hear, Mr. West?"

"Yes."

Iron Fist guided West into a nearby teepee. "Sit. Speak."

Jim sat down across from the chief.

"One of the whites from the hotel, a man named O'Connell… have you ever seen him talking with Cantetekiya?"

Iron Fist frowned. "Not that I remember, no." He stared at West for a moment. "What has happened? You are unsettled."

West looked away. "O'Connell and men unknown helping him killed General Taylor tonight and seriously wounded my partner."

"Why do you think that Cantetekiya has something to do with this?"

West frowned. "It's hard to explain, Iron Fist…"

The Lakota Sioux nodded. "Not hard to explain. It is the spirit totems speaking to you… what you whites call intuition."

This time West did look surprised. "Yes, Iron Fist. You know much of the white man's culture."

"As do you of ours."

"Know your enemy?" West asked.

"Perhaps in times gone by, Mr. West. Hopefully not now." He stood and West followed. "I will take you to where Cantetekiya often goes. If he is involved, I will deal with him."

"As you say, Iron Fist."


As the two men approached the clearing not far from the Lakota settlement, they got off their horses and listened to the voices from just behind the trees.

"You were supposed to kill Grant, not Taylor!"

"I didn't have a choice."

West recognized the second voice as O'Connell's.

"That's not good enough, O'Connell. Now West is after you and it won't take him that long to get to me. It's only a matter of time."

"I can kill West," Cantetekiya offered. "Anything to keep this assault on Siox heritage from going forth."

Iron Fist closed his eyes. "I was hoping he was not involved."

West moved closer to get a look at the owner of the voice he couldn't identify.

"Ultimately it is Grant we need to eliminate, Cantetekiya. He is the main force behind the peace talks. With him out of the way, we will never have to think about it again."

"That white man is your problem. You take care of him. I will take care of West."

Jim moved out of the trees and stood amidst the men. "I'm right here, Cantetekiya, take your best shot."

Iron Fist suddenly appeared. "No. There will be no more of this foolishness."

West, momentarily distracted by Iron Fist, was jumped by Cantetekiya. The men wrestled for several minutes, each gaining and losing the upper hand. Cantetekiya pulled a knife and tried to slice West's throat with it. Harney, the voice West had not recognized, pulled a gun and tried to aim at the two fighting men, but he couldn't get a clear shot. Iron Fist lunged at him, knocking the gun away. O'Connell jumped on top of Iron Fist in an attempt to pull him off of Harney. As West and Cantetekiya struggled, West moved on top of the shaman, the two of them in a death grip fight with the knife. Cantetekiya finally made a fatal error in movement and the knife plunged into his abdomen. West moved off of him and saw the shaman's eyes lose their focus as death came to take him.

West turned and grabbed O'Connell, easily throwing him off of Iron Fist, who had Harney in a choke hold around the neck. A moment later, Harney no longer drew breath, Iron Fist having crushed his wind pipe. Iron Fist stood and brushed himself off.

"What are you going to do with him?" Iron Fist asked, indicating O'Connell.

"Turn him over to the army."

"You could leave him with me. He almost destroyed peace between us."

"He will never see the light of day again, Iron Fist. I promise you."

Iron Fist nodded. "Until we meet again, then, my friend."

"Yes, Iron Fist, until then."

West grabbed O'Connell and the two of them rode back to Mohonk, West pushing the speed all the way.


After handing O'Connell off to Gelbhardt, West took the steps three at a time to get up to Arte's room. He pulled his hat off and knocked softly before entering. Morrow stood when West entered and moved over to speak to him.

"How's Arte?"

"It's been touch and go, Mr. West, but I think he is going to make it. Mr. Gordon's tough."

"Yes, he is," West smiled for the first time in awhile. "And the President?"

Morrow nodded. "Asleep in the chair, sir, but doing just fine."

"Glad to hear it."

West moved further into the room, and pat the president on the shoulder, smiling; the man did not stir. "At least I know where you are," West whispered to him. Jim sat on the edge of the bed and took Arte's hand in his own. "Arte? Hey buddy?"

Arte's eyes opened and he smiled. "Hiya Jim."

"Hi buddy. Heard you're gonna be okay."

"Is that so?"

"That's what the doc said, yes."

Arte smiled. "Yeah, I'll be fine." Arte spotted a cut on Jim's neck. "Hey buddy, what happened?"

"That? Oh, nothing. Cut myself shaving…"

"You squared it all?"

"You bet, Arte. Everything is squared off and ready to roll."

"Who was it Jim?"

"Harney, O'Connell and Cantetekiya."

"The shaman?"

"Yep. Seems he didn't want peace between the Lakota Sioux and the USG."

"What a shame."

Artemus shivered, and Jim pulled his covers up to his neck. "Hey, you need rest, so close your eyes and get it, or we'll never get to go home."

"Jim…thanks."

"For what?"

"For being a good friend."

West nodded toward the snoozing president. "Don't forget to thank this guy as well. He had your back, Artemus. More than you could know."

"No Jim, I know it. I know it about both of you. That's why I'm the luckiest guy in the world."

West held Arte's hand until he dropped off to sleep, then he moved to another chair and within minutes was asleep himself.

###