Alternate Scene from

 

Time of the Hawk

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

Buck felt the sun beating down from above and then he heard the song.  He couldn’t understand the words, but it reached deep into his soul, urging him to follow it.  Where?  He couldn’t tell, only that he needed to find the source and let it lift him, carry him somewhere.  It was irresistible, Buck had to find the singer.  Whoever he was would be able to release him from the pain he was feeling, would let him feel whole.  He levered his body up with his hands, ignoring the throbbing that warred between his head and his leg.  Hawk had splinted his leg.  That would make it easier.  Buck saw the blood-soaked bandage and realized just how serious that injury was.  Still, he had to get to the singer before the song ended. 

Carefully, Buck crawled to a large boulder and then pulled himself upright by grabbing the rough edges of the rock.  He stood on one leg and waited for the dizziness to subside, and then following the curve of the rock, he hopped toward the sound.  It was agonizingly slow, and Buck almost cried aloud in frustration, but instead he paused and listened.  It was haunting in its simplicity, the notes only ranging one octave, but the deep, mellow voice was filled with meaning, profound and passionate.  Buck almost cried as the song spoke of love and tenderness.  The notes echoed back and forth against the rocks making the song almost surreal.  Buck got as far as he could using the rock and then saw the open space ahead of him.  Slightly below him and in the middle of a rock-strewn valley, he saw Hawk near a funeral pyre.  On it lay Koori. 

In his wavering sensibility, Buck realized it was Hawk who was singing.  It was a funeral dirge.  Still, he wanted to be there. 

“Come, lean on me,” a soft voice whispered in his ear. 

Startled, not realizing that anyone was near, Buck nonetheless reached for the Llamajuna and let the older man hold him up.  “I’m kind of big,” he said softly to the mystic.

“Shh.  Come.”

The Llamajuna did not stumble, and his progress was slow, but it was sure.  Buck continued to feel the notes in his whole being and wondered at the power that was contained in the lone being ahead of him.  He felt the presence of more than just the three of them and he tried to see who else was with them in the valley, but there was no one.  No one visible, anyway.  The Llamajuna stopped by a large boulder and beckoned him to sit down against it.  Buck complied; feeling that wavery sensation that indicated his hold on reality was tenuous.  The mystic moved off a few paces and gathered dead branches and twigs, laying them in a small pile.  He pulled a small apparatus that appeared to Buck to be like an old-fashioned flint and steel striker and then used it near the base of his little pile.  With almost miraculous ease, the pile of twigs caught fire, then the small branches burst into flame.  Soon there was a small, but virulent fire and the Llamajuna placed the end of a longer branch into the blaze.  

Hawk continued to sing for a while longer and then he turned toward them.  His eyes widened and then grew hard when he saw Buck, but before he could say anything, the Llamajuna raised his hand. “This one was drawn by your song, warrior.  Do not question it.  Carry on the rites of continuance.” 

With one last glance at the terran, Hawk nodded and then picked up the branch that had been last laid on the fire.  The end flamed and smoked and Hawk gazed at it for a few seconds before turning back to the pyre.  With a short chanting song, Hawk laid the flame against the cloth on which Koori was laid and stepped back a few feet.  The pyre blazed with amazing swiftness and soon was a glowing beacon that seemed to eclipse even the bright sunlight. Flames and sparks leaped skyward and pure white smoke plumed, filling the area just around the pyre before traveling toward the sky. 

Buck watched, awestruck. Then he saw something that had him wondering if his head injury was making his eyes play tricks on him. He watched the smoke, and in the sparks that seemed to dance and play, he saw a figure. She was winged, singing a song much like that which Hawk had sung. It was a song of joy, tempered with sorrow for leaving the living behind. The notes brought tears to his eyes, even as Hawk’s song had earlier mesmerized him. He felt his own soul yearning to leave his body and fly with her, then he heard Hawk singing again and knew that as much as her song was affecting him, it had to be causing her mate untold anguish. Several times Hawk’s song stopped, paused, but in the end, he continued singing and the figure flew higher and higher and finally disappeared. The flames consumed the body, the wood and then died out almost as quickly as they began. 

Hawk waited until there was nothing left but the stones and anguished memories, then he turned to the Llamajuna and the human.   The Llamajuna stood near a pile of ashes, all that was left of the fire he had started only moments ago. “It is done,” he said woodenly.   “She is gone.”

“No, she is not.  She is rejoicing.  You not only sent her on the sky path, but those who died so cruelly only a short time ago.  Did you not feel their presence?” the Llamajuna asked quietly.  “I believe Koori said she would always be near you.”

Hawk looked at the terran.  He didn’t want this conversation heard by a human.  Rogers appeared to be unconscious.  “Yes, she did, but it is not the same.” 

“Of course not.” 

“Why did you bring him,” Hawk hissed, pointing to the human. 

“He would have come on his own if I had not helped him. Doing so would have done much more damage to the injuries that the fall caused,” the mystic explained, coming closer to the grieving birdman.  “He was drawn to you, drawn to your song.  He was most of the way here when I went to him.”

Hawk gazed into the old man’s eyes. “Why?”

“Because he is as adrift as you are,” the Llamajuna said.  He paused before saying anything else. “Do you believe in that which directs the lives of sentient beings?”

“Such as Make-Make?” Hawk asked. “Of course.”

“Then perhaps there is a reason for this human to be here other than what he has said,” the Llamajuna replied. 

Hawk snorted in derision. “That is absurd,” he said bitterly. “His coming here destroyed the only love in my life!”

“The wheels of that ending were turning before Buck Rogers came to find you.”

“Are you saying….”  But Hawk didn’t need the sentence answered for him.  He knew what the old man was saying was true.  Eventually, if not this terran, then someone else would have hunted him and either killed him or Koori or both of them.

The Llamajuna was silent. 

“I will go now.  I have done what needed to be done,” Hawk said, his voice emotionless.

“If you go, the human will not be seen by his shipmates. He will die.”

“Why do you not heal him? Is that not what you are supposed to do? Heal those who are sick?” Hawk asked, angry that he was being forced to deal with more than his sorrow. He only wanted to return to the caves, at least live with his memories, with the sight of that which Koori had done to their dwelling.  Live alone until he died, hopefully not a long time in the future.

“Because it is meant for his own kind to heal him. Once they find him, their methods will allow the human full recovery,” the Llamajuna explained. “But they have to be able to see him, detect him with their instruments. Those in Neutralis have not been cooperative with the humans from Earth.”

“I owe this man nothing!”

“I cannot say who owes what to whom, I only ask you to think on what I have said,” the old man admonished.  He began to walk away. “And I do not think that your future is to sit in a cave and pine over one who resides in your heart anyway.”

Angrily, Hawk watched the old man walk away, then he turned toward the human. Very well, human. I will wait until your companions appear and then I will leave. He wondered how the human could have felt that which was sacred to his people.  It defied reason. Only the Tane-rapanui could feel the freeing song. Could he be that close to death? But even so, a human should not have heard the song with anything other than his ears.

“Hawk?” 

Limping closer, Hawk could see that the exertion had not done Rogers any good.  “Yes, human.”

“When I die, could you sing at my funeral?” 

“You are trying to joke,” Hawk said tersely. 

“No, I’m not.  I mean it.  I . . . uh, want to be sent to the hereafter . . . the way you sent Koori.”

“A song is a song,” Hawk said, still angry. 

“No, Hawk, I saw Koori, felt others….”

“Felt others?” Hawk was incredulous. 

“Couldn’t see, but felt them,” Buck said, again feeling the woozy sensation of being separated from his body.  Maybe it was Hawk’s song.  “I would hope . . . that my family, friends would be waiting.” He gazed at Hawk, whose countenance was still stern. “They were your dead people, weren’t they?” 

“Yes.”

“Koori….”

“What about Koori?” Hawk demanded.

“She looked beautiful.”

Hawk was taken aback. This definitely could not be.  Even in his injury, this human was being devious.  “You are lying.”

“No. She had wings and she sang a song, too,” Buck said, feeling the emotions of that moment renewed. “Unless the head injury.” 

“Yes, that had to be it,” Hawk said quickly.  But inside, he knew this human had seen and heard correctly. Rogers looked at him intently for a moment and then he closed his eyes and moaned softly. 

Hawk stood quietly for a moment, but then stepped closer. Despite the pain in his knee, he kneeled down beside Rogers and gently moved him so he was lying down. He reached for his staff so he could scout the area and then felt a burst of quick pain in his head. Then nothing….

 

                                =============================

 

Colonel Wilma Deering had picked up the unusual activity on her scanners and decided to set down her fighter and walk in.  She alerted the Searcher and then walked a rocky trail toward the site of the activity.  After seeing Buck’s fighter and getting so little cooperation from the authorities in Neutralis, she felt she couldn’t be too careful.  By the time she reached the open, bowl-like valley, the smoke she had seen from her starfighter had dissipated, but still she had her pistol out, and she paused often, listening for any sounds that would indicate life forms.  Her readings from the ship had been garbled and mixed and were less than useless, but now she was getting readings from at least two life forms.  

She sincerely hoped that one of them was Buck, but who might be the other?  Hawk?  That the birdman was dangerous was so very evident from the mangled condition of Buck’s starfighter.  And the blood she had found inside….   That alone had made her almost desperate.  She had found no other evidence of injury, no traceable clues to tell where Buck could have gone, or where this birdman was.  It had been a harrowing two plus days and Wilma could only hope that she would find what she was looking for in this small valley.  Slowly, carefully, Wilma advanced to the crest of the rocky ridge and peered into the valley beyond.  She saw two figures, one almost completely in black, bending over another figure.  There was a flash of blue.  Buck!!  While wanting to simply run down the trail, Wilma knew that stealth was the key now.  She dodged and darted among the rocks down a narrow trail that looked little used. 

As she neared the floor of the valley, she saw the figure in black—Hawk?—raise a stick as though to strike Buck.  That was when she stood straight, aimed and fired her laser pistol.  She caught him with a full blast and he fell over Buck without a sound.  Racing over to the pair, she pulled the birdman off of Buck and examined him.  Immediately noticed the injured leg and Wilma pulled out her communicator.  Searcher, this is Colonel Deering.” 

“We read you, Colonel,” came the response.  

“I need a full med team and shuttle down here immediately.  I have found Buck and the birdman, Hawk.  Buck is injured.  Hawk is stunned.”

“Will do, Colonel,” the communications tech responded. 

“Wilma?” Buck asked, trying to focus on her. 

She sighed in relief.  At least he was able to recognize her.

“Yes. You can’t imagine how worried we have been for you,” she replied, trying to gauge the extent of his injury.  It appeared to be a serious break. “You hurt anywhere else?”

“Head.”  His eyes didn’t seem to want to make Wilma a single entity and he finally closed them.  “Banged it good.” 

“There’s a shuttle on its way.”

“Hawk tried to take care of the leg, but . . . th . . . there was little else he could do,” Buck stammered.  

Wilma gazed at the makeshift splint and nodded.  Maybe she had been wrong about what she had seen.   

“Hawk, where is he?” Buck asked. “Did he get away?”

“No, I thought he was trying to do some harm to you and stunned him,” Wilma replied. 

“No, trying to help,” Buck murmured. “Whole village wiped out . . . by humans.  Family gone.”

Wilma took a sharp breath. That was why this Hawk had the vendetta against humans. 

“Wilma….”  Buck again tried to focus on her face. Everything seemed so fuzzy and far away. 

“Buck, you lay still.  The med shuttle will be here shortly.”

“Leave him here. Don’t let them take him.”

She was stunned. “Buck, you almost died trying to capture Hawk and now you want to let him go?”

“Yes.”

“If we don’t take him someone else will come along and hunt him down,” she argued.  “And in the meantime, others might die.”

Buck had to struggle to make sense of what Wilma was saying.  When he did, he realized that she was right, at least about Hawk being hunted. “Just treat him . . . with respect.  Please.”

“Of course, Buck.” She looked up as she heard the whining of the shuttle’s engines and then breathed a sigh of relief. When she looked back down at Buck, he was unconscious.  

 

 

 

Part Four
Part One
Buck Rogers Contents
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