TCH


The Kaleetan are more significant than a mere band of people scratching out
their existence on the Great Plains of North America, yet they are not suf-
ficiently numerous to be considered a tribe or even a clan. They originate
among the Oglala Sioux, largely unmolested by that tribe, but outcast, wan-
dering the same hunting grounds as a kind of permanent punishment detail,
ostensibly for religious offenses, but in practice as a way for the leaders
of the Oglalas to deal with competing alpha males. There are women among
them, though not nearly enough.

To the north the Kaleetan are beset by the Dakotas, who hold the entire
Black Hills and much of the plains and badlands around them. The Kaleetan
name them the Northern Raiders, and if the mainline Oglalas help to fend
them off from time to time it is more to protect their own land than to do
the outcasts any special favors.

In the richer grasslands eastward the Kaleetan have the Pawnees to contend
with. To the south along the Oregon Trail they are buffeted by the Arapa-
hoes and run the risk of bumping into fearful white settlers or the army
troops who protect them. To the scrubby lands westward they have the
Cheyennes to fear. The whole northwest they avoid in dread of the Crows
and Blackfeet.

But here in the sliver of meager grasslands grudgingly alloted to them by
the leaders of the Oglala Nation their hunters ride. Wanica, the best of
the Kaleetan hunters, rides in the lead, downwind of a herd of bison drink-
ing water at a ford in a curiously constant stream that is named Indian
River by the whites, although it is more like a large creek.

When the Kaleetan hunters descend into the relatively lush ravine carved by
the meandering Indian River, Wanica signals for his men to bring their
horses to a halt. They dismount and tie their horses off to the roots of
bleached stumps. As Wanica leads his men up along the riverbank on foot,
some of the animals seem to grow nervous, though they cannot see any of the
hunters yet. Wanica and his hunters creep through the brush to watch the
herd. They cast no shadows, for the day is relatively dark, covered by a
low overcast. It is cold, but it does not rain.

The male of the bison stops drinking and stares east and downstream, sens-
ing danger. Judging the moment to be right, Wanica suddenly stands from
behind a shrub and looses an arrow. The bolt strikes a cow in a flank, but
it’s not a lethal shot. All the animals hear the cry of the cow, panic,
and run.

A rapid series of shots are made by other hunters, but all of the arrows
miss or make non-lethal wounds. The bison flee them, ascending a slope to
the north and west and making for the cover of the low cloud bank, although
they are too stupid to have planned such a move. The hunters return to
their horses, then follow the herd away from the river and up the hillside,
and a thick fog envelopes them.

Bows are held at the ready, turning left and right, but nothing is visible
to the men in the oppressive whiteout. Still, after they toil uphill the
fog clears, patches of blue sky are seen, and at last three of the bison
are isolated and exposed. Arrows are loosed and strike home, dropping one
of the animals.

The two surviving bison run back down off the hill into the fog, seeking
the safety of numbers. Young braves are tasked by Wanica with carving up
the body of the fallen animal. Meat is loaded on a skid made of wooden
staves and animal skin to be dragged away. Nothing of the bison is wasted.

Satisfied with the progress of the younger men, Wanica turns away with his
other companions and they ride up the slope until they can go no higher.
Briefly, the summit of the high hill stands alone over a sea of clouds for
a rare and beautiful moment. Wanica is moved by the sight to say, “I name
this place the Island in the Sky.”

The herd of bison wanders back, grazing warily on the mountaintop even with
the hunters close at hand. They seem to sense that the humans have done
their worst and will leave the rest of them alone.

A flying machine drifts out of the sea of fog on loud jets of flame.

The bison and most of the men scatter at the noise of the machine. Only
Wanica and his fearless steed remain to watch what happens. His first
thought is that this is some new stunt by the whites. Wanica has heard
some of them travel on burning horses made of iron.

The flying machine drops a white ball, then moves up and away from the
butte to explode in the sky with an even louder noise.

As the echoes of the explosion die away the white ball bounces to a stop on
the summit of the Island in the Sky. Only Wanica remains to watch the
white ball change shape to become like a man. The faceless white man walks
toward Wanica, then sits on the ground. He says no words.

Not a white man as in a European white man, but white as snow. And he has
no eyes, no mouth, no nose nor ears.

The head of the white man opens in six petals, revealing a golden object.
Wanica dismounts and draws near to look at the shiny thing. Tentatively,
respectfully, he takes hold of the golden object while the limbs of the
white man remain motionless at his side.

The golden object fits neatly in Wanica’s hand like the hilt of a knife.

Wanica squeezes the Golden Gift to produce a hissing opaque black beam.
Sweeping it around, the beam carves trenches in the stony ground of the
hilltop entirely without effort. When Wanica no longer actively squeezes
the Golden Gift, the black beam retracts into it and disappears.

The petals of the head of the white man close once more, betraying no
seams. The white man changes his shape to become an inert white dome on the
mountain summit. After Wanica witnesses all these things, he conceals the
Golden Gift in the pack tied to his horse.

The curiosity of Wanica’s companions overcomes their fear. They slowly re-
turn to the summit, together with some of the bison. There, the hunters
see the white dome on the very summit of the Island in the Sky, and they
also see Wanica standing next to it, alone.

Wanica lifts a stone and sets it near the white dome. The companions of
Wanica join him, stacking stones around the dome as though they were build-
ing an igloo out of rock. The men finish their work and stand back to look.
The white dome is concealed by a cairn.

None of the Kaleetan hunters understand what they have have seen, but they
agree it was no mere vision of the Sky Father, for all of them have shared
the same experience. It is fitting, they deem, to have built a hallowed
lodge for the Sky Father after his manifestation to them, which they take
to be his blessing for the hunt. The small mountain Wanica named the Island
in the Sky has become forever sacred to them. And Wanica still has the
Golden Gift, which he keeps secret.

The Kaleetan People are feasting on the bison killed on the Island in the
Sky. The animal’s horns have been fastened to leather thongs. One of fat
Chief Tatanka’s women fasten the two horns to his garment at his shoulder,
as though he had actually gotten out of the tent where he ever roils in
womanflesh and killed the animal himself. While this is being done Tatanka
and Wanica eye each other with no mutual respect whatsoever.

Tatanka says, “There are five stories how this animal was taken, but none
are the same.”

Wanica allows his gaze to drift away from the chief and he blows a puff of
smoke.

Tatanka continues. “About the kill then. What say you, Squaw Who Hunts?”

Wanica’s gaze returns to the Chief sharply, as though he has been slapped.
But he buries his rage and answers, “We followed the herd up the grassy
mountain, and there was a cloud. I could not even see the other hunters.
Each man ascended alone. On the top of the mountain the cloud was no more,
and there we took the animal.”

“And the Sky Father himself appeared out of the cloud to bless our
hunt!” blurts Plenty Lice, out of turn.

“You have taught your hunters to lie so easily, Squaw Who Hunts,” says Ta-
tanka. “I should give you another name.”

Wanica is annoyed by the intrusion of Plenty Lice, but he continues to
speak. “The Sky Father was white as snow. He sat on the top of the moun-
tain and his arms and legs shrank until became like an egg. The others saw
this egg.”

The hunters who had been with him nod their assent and grunt. They had seen
the egg.

Tatanka goes on, saying, “And what did you do when you saw this egg, liar?”
“We built a lodge of stones for the Sky Father,” Wanica replied, “to
honor him for his blessing.”

Tatanka pulled out his knife in an sudden rage. “Lies! You dare to tell
such lies to my face?”

Wanica stands and faces the chief with empty hands. “What I have just told
you, that is what Plenty Lice and Ohanko and myself and all of us saw and
did on the hunt.”

Tatanka flicks the tip of his blade at Wanica’s face, and draws blood. He
says, “I know what I will call you now, young liar. Hole In Cheek!”

Wanica puts his hand to his cheek and runs out of the range of the fire’s
light. Chief Tatanka sits down and laughs, but nobody else does. Wanica’s
simple wife Yuha leaves the circle of light as well and follows her man to
their tipi.

While Wanica is being bandaged up his son Shy Bear watches his mother dress
the wound. He says, “Father, did you truly see the Sky Spirit, or did you
just want to annoy Bad Heart Bull?”

Wanica shifts his eyes to his son, much as he had done when the Chief
called him a woman, but he does not answer until Yuha is finished staunch-
ing the cut.

At length, when his wife is done, Wanica appraises his son for a long mo-
ment, then he says, “Yuha, what we spoke about before, now it is time.”

Yuha nods, and retrieves a leather pouch containing pigments and implements
to apply them.

For his part Wanica retrieves a ceremonial dress made of bison skins and
feathers and many beads, while Yuha says, “Stand and be still, son.”
Wanica lays the ceremonial dress on Shy Bear as his wife begins to
paints the boy’s face. He says, “I will not give you an answer to your
question about the Sky Father.”

Yuha continues to paint. Wanica puts the boy’s own bow in his hands, and
says, “I will not give you food.”

Yuha completes painting her son’s face and stands apart from him.

Wanica says, “You are called Shy Bear because I lent you that name, but now
you are nameless.” He flips open the flap-door to the tipi: “Go now, into
the night, nameless one. Kill your own food, if you can. And if you can-
not?” Wanica shrugs. “Perhaps in your hunger the Sky Father will give you
a vision. I will pray that he does so, for I will not give a nameless boy
such as you one more thing.”

Yuha kisses her son. “If you come back to us, you will not be a boy. You
will be a man, and you will have a new name that you will have given your-
self.”

The astonishment on Shy Bear’s face at all these proceedings fades, and he
nods. Obeying his father, he steps out of the tent into the night.
In the dark, Shy Bear walks on the plain with the fires of the People
far behind. In the pre-dawn light, Shy Bear toils up the slopes of the
Island in the Sky. The sun rises as Shy Bear nears the top of the moun-
tain. In the light of full dawn, Shy Bear stands on the summit of the
hill, and his own shadow falls upon his father’s stone cairn.

But when it is mid-day, Shy Bear has still not had a vision from the Sky
Father. The stone cairn built by his father remains silent. So Shy Bear
gathers woody brush growing on the summit, cutting it with his knife. He
builds a fire in a small fire-pit made of stones.

Shy Bear begins to remove stones away from one side of the cairn to create
a door. He creates a makeshift torch and lights it from his little camp-
fire. Then he crawls inside the stone igloo, with his torch lighting the
way.

Inside, Shy Bear sees a white dome, exactly as his father described to Bad
Heart Bull. Shy Bear stretches his hand toward the dome slowly. The white
dome projects a needle from its surface that pierces Shy Bear’s finger.

The boy jerks his hand away in pain. He can see that the needle remains
standing on the surface of the dome.

Shy Bear emerges from the cairn, raising the arm with the hand that was
pierced. He staggers around, and drops the torch.

The flame of the torch kindles dry grass on the ground to catch fire as
well, as Shy Bear falls to the ground in a dead faint.

A bubble forms around Shy Bear before the flames reach him. He recedes as
though it were a tunnel. The bubble disappears. Shy Bear is gone.
Flames reach the place where Shy Bear had fallen. The fire grows un-
til the summit is entirely engulfed.

The fire has become a ring that circles the entire bulk of the Island in
the Sky. Bison and rabbit flee downslope as the fire races toward them.
The top third of the Island in the Sky is charred as the fiery ring contin-
ues to move down.

Far from the mountain, a herd of bison instinctively turn south to move
away from the danger.

Wanica and Yuha emerge from their tipi and look south towards the horizon.
They can see the Island in the Sky is entirely engulfed in flame and smoke.

Shy Bear stands together with Yeshua and hez servants, marveling at the
view of the afterlife. Yeshua says to hym, “This is the lodge of my parent
Chohkmah, the one you know as the Sky Father. I am Chief Yeshua.”

Shy Bear says, “You speak strange words, yet I know what they mean. How can
this be?”

Yeshua answers, “When you were pierced by the white artifact, your body and
mind were changed. Now you can speak and understand the tongue of the
Whites.”

Shy Bear says, “I did not ask to be changed in these ways, Chief Yeshua.”

“It is a consequence of touching the Artifact. Those changes are not a mat-
ter of your choice. Yet you are free to choose to return to your People and
teach them the language that you now know.”

Shy Bear says, “They will be afraid, and flog me, or try to put me to
death, thinking I am Coyote come in a human shape.”

Yeshua says, “Do not be afraid. Your father Wanica will protect you. He
will soon be Chief of the People.”

“All of these things, the changes to me, what is the purpose? Is there a
purpose?”

Yeshua says “A group of White settlers will encounter the People in three
years. I want them to live among you. Chokhmah wants these Whites and your
People to live together in peace.”

Shy Bear says, “You spoke of a choice. What will become of me if I do not
return to the People?”

Yeshua says, “You may stay here for the rest of your life, but your parents
and your people will never see you again.”

Shy Bear looks at the new world once more. There is no sky. The land curves
behind a small sun. Hy longs to stay and experience even more wonders, but
hyz longing to see hyz father Wanica and mother Yuha again proves the
greater. Hy says, “I will return and teach the People the tongue of the
Whites.”

“I am very pleased,” says Yeshua with a smile. “No more are you to be
called Shy Bear. Here you will be called Jashen, and one day you shall re-
turn to this place again. But in the meantime you must decide on a name for
yourself that you can use among the People when you go back to live among
them.”

Jashen tarries in the Land We Know for ten days, as measured by the slowly
pulsating sun, during which time he learns exactly what Yeshua meant by his
body being changed as well as his mind. Jashen is transformed from a young
human male into a yang of the nephilim.

Wanica and Yuha sit alone in their tipi, but they are silent. Yuha is sob-
bing quietly, and Wanica is trying his best to comfort her. Yuha says,
“Two moons have passed since we have seen our son. Does the test of manhood
ever take this long?”

Wanica replies, “I will not lie to my own wife. Ten nights the test was for
me, and no more.”

Hearing this, Yuha lets the full force of her grief wash over her. When
she recovers a bit she says, “The worst part is that Shy Bear’s last memory
of us was that even his mother had a stony heart.”

Her husband says, “A heart of stone is part of the ceremony. There must be
a…cutting off. There is no way around it.”

Chief Tatanka barges into the tipi unannounced and points a finger at Wani-
ca. “You have brought no food into this camp for two moons, Hole in
Cheek!”

“It is the fire,” Wanica says. “It still burns the grasslands to the south.
The animals are on the other side of it.”

“Then take your hunters and go around the fire or you will be Hole in
Neck.”

“It will take two days’ ride to find the animals, a day to kill and field-
dress them, and two days’ ride to bring the carcass back. The meat will go
bad.”

“The nights are cold now. The meat will keep. I grow tired of eating jerky.
Go!” Before the Chief leaves the tipi he lets his eyes wander over Yuha’s
legs. She tucks them under her bison-hair blanket.

When Tatanka has gone, Wanica unpacks the Golden Gift he received from the
Sky Father, which he has shown to no one, not even Yuha. Then he kisses
his wife tenderly and departs from the tipi to gather his men together.
Wanica and his hunters have prepared their horses for the journey. Wanica
mounts his own horse and leads the hunting party away south toward the Is-
land in the Sky.

The party crosses over to the grasslands that were burned. The party as-
cends the Island in the Sky, which is still seared black. The party reach-
es the summit. The stone cairn is still there. He sees that his son Shy
Bear is restoring the last stone that will seal the cairn once more. A
tame bison stands next to him, wondering if there is anything around to
eat.

Wanica is so overjoyed to see his son that he forgets he took away his name
and turned him out into the night. “Shy Bear!” he exclaims, and runs to-
ward the boy to embrace him.

But Jashen is having none of that. His body language halts his father at a
single pace. He extends his hand, grips his father’s lower arm near his
elbow. “Greetings, Father. I am now to be called Jashen Two Pricks.”

Wanica is temporarily rendered speechless by Jashen’s words, but he is not
displeased. He said, “Yuha will be overjoyed to see you again, son. It
has been more than two moons since you left.”

“Two moons?” says Jashen, deeply puzzled. “How strange I find that to be.
When I was on my vision quest and in the spirit world, it seemed that only
ten days passed.”

All of the hunters, including his father, are astonished at Jashen’s words.
Jashen sees that Wanica’s eyes are drifting to the animal that is accompa-
nying him and says, “This is a gift of Yeshua, the son of the Sky Father,
for he knows of the fire.”

Wanica’s hunters draw back their bows to kill the bison, but Wanica says,
“Hold!” and the men lower their aim. “Jashen says this animal is the gift
of the son of the Sky Father. If we kill it and take it back to camp,
Chief Bad Heart Bull will add the horns of this animal to all his other
stolen trophies and disfigure the gift. There is another way.”

And so, that evening, when the People are sharing their communal meal once
more, the Chief wonders why his women do not bring the horns of the bison
to add to his “war regalia” as before. He grows more and more angry and
flat out accuses Wanica of hiding the bison’s head.

Wanica says nothing in reply, but he does not take his eyes away from the
Chief. Tananka grows infuriated at the defiance. The leader of the People
takes out his knife once more, an actual steel blade he claims he took as
war booty from a white trapper, but it was whispered that he really took it
from a corpse he had stumbled upon by mere chance. It was, at any rate, the
only such blade among the People. “This will loosen your tongue, Hole In
Heart!” he cried, and he moves toward Wanica expecting the hunter to run as
usual.

But Wanica knows he has the favor of the Sky Father and stands his ground,
which unnerves the Chief. Everyone sees him hesitate. The Chief loses
‘face’ with each passing heartbeat.

Wanica reachs into a hidden pocket in his raiment and withdraws the Golden
Gift. When he squeezes it, the dark shaft grows to a certain length. On
the Island in the Sky he only took the animals head, offering it to the Sky
Father rather than allowing it to be dishonored by Tananka. But now he
takes away the Chief, the whole Chief, and nothing but the Chief, all the
way down to his moccasins, leaving the very ground he stood upon untouched.

The People are in a state of shock, and they greatly fear Wanica. Other
than the group of men who had been with Wanica on both hunts, the People
have never seen such an obvious and deadly display of real magic. Even his
own squaw Yuha is afraid, but she comes to stand at his side anyway, know-
ing this is what her man wants.

“I sent the Chief to the Great Spirit,” Wanica says in a loud voice. “I
will lead the People now.”And he crosses his arms regally, leaving the
Golden Gift cradled in one of his hands. No one doubts that he had done
exactly what he said. One by one the other hunters and warriors sink to
their knees before him, with hands open to show they carry no blade.

Wanica gives his first command as the new Chief. “In the morning we will
decamp and dwell at the Island in the Sky, near the place where the Great
Spirit came and made himself known to us.”

A bison gets thirsty eating grass all day out on the Great Plains and Indi-
an River is a reliable source of water. A herd has come to drink near the
source at the Island in the Sky where the stream is still fairly narrow.
When the herd is taking drink, Wanica strikes with the Golden Gift, taking
just one of them according to the needs of the Kaleetan People. It is done
in such a stealthy way the rest of the herd barely notices.

One day the People see the first wagon trains of white skin settlers use
the ford at the river. The white skins use their fire sticks to drop some
of the animals merely to clear the way and do not even take the animals for
food. Fair enough, Wanica thinks, there is plenty for all.

But two years go by and the herds grow thinner, and many of the People re-
member the fire sticks. The year after that no large game animals are seen
at all. The People have to scratch a living from small game, or from the
scrawny solitary black-tail deer they sometimes chance upon. A few of of
the hunters murmured openly, recalling with glowing fondness the time of
Chief Bad Heart Bull, perhaps forgetting that even during that lost “Golden
Age” it was still Wanica who led the hunts.

The army of the whites set up an outpost six land miles (and twelve river
miles) away they call Fort Shiprock after an unusual rock outcropping hard
by. Captain John Smalley commands the fort, and despite his bitter hatred
for the dead-end post he had been assigned snack in the middle of the big-
gest zone of nothing in the American West, Smalley maintains good relations
with Chief Wanica and the Kaleetan, who somehow all speak excellent Eng-
lish. He considers the People to be relatively peaceful, but contacts are
necessarily limited because the People are so poor they have almost nothing
to trade. “This fort ain’t exactly a charity outfit,” he was often heard to
say.

The fall of that third year of Wanica’s chiefdom the Northern Raiders pay
their last visit to the People. When Wanica confronts them he uses a gradu-
ally tightening squeeze so the black spear of wind emerges from the Golden
Gift at a visible rate. At full extension the beam balloons out like an
umbrella. The enemy sees that it is Chief Wanica’s magic which absorbs
arrows fired at him. They see it is Chief Wanica’s magic that slices their
leader in half, both he and the horse he rode in on.

Wanica knows the Northern Raiders operate like pack animals with no stomach
for sticking around once they lose their own Chief. And sure enough they
flee into the grasslands north, never to return to the river ford at the
foot of the Island in the Sky claimed by the People, although they still
lurk nearby.

A few days after that the People see a bizarre sight coming from the south.
Eight white skins ride mounted on horses, cracking whips, two on Point, two
on Flank, and two on Drag, a cook with his own wagon in the rear and a man
riding way out front picking the best way. These men are driving possibly
five hundred animals that are bulkier than any game animal save the bison.
The Whites drive their animals over the small islets dotting the ford with-
out even the basic courtesy of offering the People one or two head as a
toll. This is the first cattle drive ever to cross these grasslands to move
a herd to Montana.

When about half of the herd is across the ford and they are piling up be-
cause they all want a drink Wanica sends some of his hunters in to raise
general calumny with whoops and hollers and a few well-placed arrows. Mean-
while, he finds a good position to take out one of the animals. He wonders
what they taste like. Unfortunately the whites fight back fiercely with
small fire sticks they hold and shoot in one hand even while their horses
are moving at full gallop. Two good hunters from among the People are
killed. Chief Wanica pulls his men back to the safety of the Island in the
Sky, and from there he continues to watch the scene below.

Seven of the men and most of the cattle are across the river. The leader of
the party of whites is a Mr. Paul Morrison. He remains on the south side of
the river with only about thirty cows. Morrison yells, “Boys, take what you
got and try to make it toward Lusk. I’m gonna take this bunch over to Fort
Shiprock and see if we can get some help with our red skin problem.”

Captain John Smalley wakes up from his midmorning nap and ducks outside the
fort stockade to see what was making an infernal racket and such a horrible
smell. When Paul Morrison sees him he takes off his hat and says, “Twenty-
eight free range cows for the United States Army Cavalry, sir, compliments
of their owner, yours truly, Paul Morrison.” This is indeed the way things
are done out west, palms greased with money and goods in return for other
favors.

“Well, the Cavalry is much obliged, Mr. Morrison,” came the reply. “I’m
Captain John Smalley, commanding Fort Shiprock here. And if there’s ever a
favor we could do for you in return, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“There is the trifling matter of the red skins over there at Green Dome.
Sneaky bastards ambushed us when we were halfway across the river ford.”

Captain Smalley takes his pipe out in his hand and squints in disbelief.
His handlebar mustache dances as he asks, “Dakota?”

Morrison shakes his head. “Wrong markings, Captain. I figure these are lo-
cals.”

The Captain puts his pipe back in his mouth. “That can’t be right. The lo-
cal Indians are real peaceful. Their chief is smart as a whip and even
speaks good American. They all do.”

“These Indians didn’t look like the kind to give up, Captain. We had to
kill some of ’em. They’re probably harassing the rest of my herd right now
on the north bank. If you hurry you can catch ’em before sunset.”

Captain Smalley agrees with a sigh, and he gives the appropriate orders to
gear up the fort for action. A bugle call is soon heard. Soon thereafter
Smalley, Morrison, and about forty mounted soldiers ride up the little
tributaries and lime-silt islets of the river.

They find a small group of the People’s hunters rendering a fallen cow down
for steaks. Smalley recognizes the battle dress of Chief Wanica and steers
a course for his little group. Presently he and his men form a circle
around the chief and a handful of his hunters. Smalley tells another offi-
cer, Lieutenant Lambert Wells, to take most of the unit north to engage the
rest of the Indians, and hand-picked four soldiers to stay behind with him.
The lieutenant salutes and rides off with his thirty-four men.

Smalley and Morrison move closer to Chief Wanica while the four soldiers
supporting the Captain orbit the scene at a stately trot. “God damn it
Chief, you know better than to start acting like the Northern Raiders.”

“What are you going to do to him?” Morrison asked.

“Take him into custody for cattle rustling. That’ll have to do. The rest of
these red fellows here were just following orders. They got families to
feed. I’m going to let them go so they can pick themselves a new chief.”

Wanica, thanks to the English lessons of his son Jashen, understands per-
fectly what Smalley wants to do to him, and he decides not to go peaceful-
ly. He has the Golden Gift in his hand and points it right at Smalley. The
black shaft leaps out with its hideous sucking sound and slices the head of
Smalley’s horse clean off. And then Smalley himself is rendered in two.
That black line remains there, drinking in light and air, while five more
orbiting horses and men ran right into it, including Paul Morrison.

After that Wanica uses the Golden Gift to get rid of the bodies of the men
and the horses he had slain, but he knows the killing range of the Golden
Gift was not much longer than a spear. Against a troop of whites armed with
firesticks he would be helpless. They would kill him, and his son, and his
warriors, and no doubt all of the women and children and old men in the
camp of the People as well in retribution for him killing the white chief.
There were rumors of such atrocities happening before. Then the army of the
whites would have the Golden Gift. Wanica needs to think fast.
—————————————————————————
Muskets fall like two waves of dominoes atop stone walls on the Blue and
Gray sides of a quiet little creek. The instant the rifled barrels hit the
horizontal they fire, burning men’s eyes with the pungent smoke of spent
black powder. The lethal twin wave falters at the end where the stone
barriers leap across the water to kiss atop a sturdy arch. There Union
and Confederate soldiers converge on foot, shooting as they come, and men
fall on the roadway from both sides.

When the belligerents are too close for shooting to make any sense the
men in the van of the attacks resort to bayonet thrusts and even fisti-
cuffs. The Federals have the greater initial momentum and they nearly
get across the bridge before the rebels drive them back over a layer of
bodies one man deep. Some of these men are dead, others are moaning and
writhing with a lead ball lodged in their innards. Tragically some of
the fallen boys in blue survived Shiloh, where the war first attained its
presently high but stable plateau of savagery.

Waiting for the counter-attack of the Army of Northern Virginia is a can-
non which the Union colonel leading the assault has dared to order lined up
on the long axis of the bridge. The piece is loaded with canister shot,
which mows the onrushing men down like grass to form a second layer of
bodies. Some of these fallen boys in gray survived the artillery hell at
Malvern Hill during the Seven Days.

Waiting in turn for this cannon are two guns on the Confederate side posi-
tioned on a bend of the creek upstream. One fires bursting shells that kill
or maim the Union gunners and another fires several rounds of solid shot.
Some of the rounds find their mark. The ones that do not hit the cannon
bounce up the slope and assail the walls of a pretty little white church.
Eventually the giant shotgun on the Federal side becomes a useless pile of
splinters and a prone tube of dented steel. Then another Rebel attack gains
most of the bridge, which has become an abattoir.

The colonel leading the attack from the Union side is shot off his horse,
but to the wonderment of his own men he immediately stands up and sees the
Minie ball was stopped by the leather cover of his little pocket Bible.
Taking this as a divine go-ahead, the colonel orders a fresh wave of troops
to assail the bridge. Rebel troops are soon driven entirely off the
bridge by the new Union assault.

Hearing that his boys are almost out of powder, the lieutenant colonel com-
manding the other side orders bayonets fixed and leads one more charge.
After the furious carnage that ensues the rebels briefly regain sole occu-
pation of the bridge.

Seeing that the colors of the United States have fallen, the colonel takes
them up again himself and leads his men back to the fight. Against a foe
which has spent all its powder, the Union men soon attain the high summit
of a mass of twisting bodies on the bridge. There they continue to fire,
swapping their empty muskets for fresh ones handed up to them as though on
a conveyor belt, firing again and again. The last of the rebels are either
shot, captured, or run away.

When the colonel reaches the other side of the creek at last and sees the
retreating backs of the enemy, he says to a lieutenant, “Tell the command-
ing general we won a bridgehead here.”
The junior officer salutes and turns to obey, but he sees the bridge
is stacked with bodies from both sides. Unwilling to desecrate the fall-
en, he splashes on foot across the creek, which after all is only ankle
deep.

A Confederate division commander watches the Federal lines through
binoculars from the saddle of his horse. Even before the butcher’s bill
has been tendered he knows it has been the bloodiest single day of the war.
Neither side seems eager to extend the carnage to a second day. Turning to
his superior, mounted on a tall gray horse next to him, he says, “General,
sir, it is my considered opinion the enemy is not making ready to attack.”

The general commanding the Army of Northern Virginia nods in agreement
yet he appears to be anguished. His face is flushed as he realizes the in-
vasion of the North has failed. He knows the Union commander is overly
cautious, but if (leaping upon some unlikely but horrible misstep) the ene-
my did decide to move, a large fraction of the Confederate army would be
captured or killed before it could be moved to relative safety south across
the Potomac River. So he sighs and comes to a conclusion, the only possi-
ble conclusion, painful as it is with so much precious blood already in-
vested. “General, your orders are to move the army back over the river.
But this is the most important thing: The retreat must be in good order.
I do not wish to give those people over there the satisfaction of witness-
ing this army in a rout.”

The division commander snaps off a perfect salute, then motions to subordi-
nates and begins to issues his own orders. Soon all over the battlefield
men begin to break down their tents. The Confederates begin to cross back
south over the Potomac on pontoon bridges stretching from the little tongue
of Maryland they continue to hold. And still the short little Union com-
manding general, watching and waiting somewhere on the long slope up from
the Potomac, refuses to budge. Were the forces ten-to-one in his favor, he
would still wire Washington complaining of being outnumbered.

Back on the Virginia side of the river one sergeant orders his men to form
back up, but some of the less-seriously wounded men ignore him and walk on,
making for their own homes.

The white church near the bridge, or what is left of it, has been
turned into a field hospital for the Union army. Dried blood stains the
interior walls, overlaid with sprays of fresh blood. A doctor uses ether to
sedate a man. Other men use saws to hack off limbs, which they throw into
a pile. Men outside the church on stretchers moan with post-op agony.

A messenger arrives at the church by horse and addresses the doctors.
“These orders are from the commanding general. Get your wounded on hoof or
wheels and get them the hell out of here.”

So the amputated legs and arms are thrown into a large pile and burned.
Wagons carrying wounded men begin to roll away. Every bump in the road
elicits screams from the men inside. No man or woman who witnesses the
passing convoy of suffering will say again they love the glory of war.

The last ambulance wagon passes a group of black-clad farmers and their
wives riding homely mules, their horses having been prudently moved to a
place far away from men of either army who would “borrow” them. On these
mules the parishioners of the white church have ridden out, as soon as they
deemed it safe, to see what has become of their meeting place. They halt
and gasp, for they see the structure is riddled with bullet holes and shell
damage, and glimpses of the inside reveal what looks to be the interior of
a slaughterhouse.

Suddenly, perhaps even mercifully, before their very eyes, their beloved
church collapses in ruin.

When the Army of Northern Virginia invaded the Union states for the first
time, a copy of Special Order Number 191 outlining their projected move-
ments in Maryland and Pennsylvania was captured and placed in the hands of
the Federal commanding general, who rushed to intercept them at South Moun-
tain. Three mountain passes fell to the men in blue after a day of fierce
fighting. The rebels were forced to fall back to the Potomac River, and
there followed the bloodiest single day of the war, all within earshot of
Pastor Carl Keller’s church.

Eight thousand men fell in a cornfield across the road from the church.
Four thousand men fell in the woods behind the church. Twelve thousand men
fell in front of the church itself. Three thousand men fell at a bridge
across a creek whose clean water had been used by to bring converts to the
Wedding Banquet of Christ, but now ran red with human blood.

A half mile from the church five thousand men fell in the so-called Bloody
Lane which the rebels had occupied and fortified, but which thereafter be-
came a giant open grave filled to the brim with bodies after the Union won
through to one end of it with cannon and muskets.

Carl Keller’s church is attended by pacifist farmers who dress in dark
clothing and live simply, though their asceticism does not run to the ex-
tremes of the Amish. They speak a unique mish-mash of German and English.
They baptize by dunking the convert in a local stream with complete immer-
sion, three times just like Jesus did, in contrast to the sprinkling Lu-
therans, the pouring Mennonites, and even the “single dunk” Baptists. All
of those other congregations were of course damned to eternal hellfire for
their apostasy on the dunking issue.

After the battle the parishioners volunteer to help bury the dead but when
they see the pile of splinters that was their church many of them take to
weeping at the damage. Pastor Keller says, “Do not grieve, my friends.
Yes, our church is gone but soon an even more beautiful one will stand in
its place.”

But Deacon Mark Lange objects. “What is to stop the new church from suf-
fering the same fate, brother Keller?”

“What do you mean, brother Lange?”

“I mean Virginia lies just over yonder river. They’ll soon be back.”

Keller shakes his head. “Rumor has it the rebels have taken a real whip-
ping. God willing, they will never be back.”

“Last month there was a second battle of Manassas, brother Keller. This is
a good place to ford the Potomac. The rebels will be back.”

“Where are your thoughts wandering, Brother Lange?”

“I say we rebuild our church at my uncle’s farm.”
“And leave our own farms? Start all over in Pennsylvania?”

“Our horses have already been moved up there so as to guard against
thieves.”

“It wonders me you will not help rebuild our church here.”

“Me and as many of the flock who are of the same mind.”

“Then lets have it out. Who is with Deacon Lange for leaving?”

The Savitt family, the Hillings, the Bergins, the Zinters move to Lange’s
side. They are joined by the Brannens, Krauses, Porters, and the Wustners.
Staying with Keller are the Sunkels, the Clarks, the Martins. Also staying
behind are the Johnsons, Hickeys, and Davidsons. Keller sees that his
flock has been divided in half, and sighs. “For a decision of this import,
surely the Lord must weigh in?”

Lange says, “We have already consulted the Lord in prayer, brother Keller.”

Keller looks at the faces of Lange’s group, who nod assent. But he is not
one to dwell on a losing cause, nor one to dawdle.

“Make ready then. You shall leave in a fortnight.”

“And if it be the will of God,” says Lange, “we will make a peaceful new
life in Pennsylvania, far from this war.”

When the horses were first evacuated to Pennsylvania it was his male cous-
ins on his father’s side who took them, and Mark paid them little mind.
But when the horses are returned it is his cousin Joanna who brings them
back, all by her lonesome. Mark has never met her before, and he falls
stone cold in love at first sight.

Joanna centers her life around equines. On the way to Pennsylvania the
weather turns bad. Joanna lets her horse get the tent and she sleeps out
in the rain.

Joanna’s father is none too happy to see the way Mark Lange hovers over her
when they all arrive at his farm. Her mother is slightly more sanguine.
Joanna’s horse is groomed better than she is, and the farm house is ever a
sty. Joanna spends more time cleaning her horse than helping her mother
clean the house, but the barn is as neat as a pin. Once she had suggested
to Joanna that she needed a male companion to quiet some of the rumors go-
ing around, so Joanna got herself a stallion. When Mark begins courting
her, he finds a strange hair on her coat but he doesn’t get jealous because
Joanna has the horse to match.

The most common present Joanna receives at her bridal shower is actual
bridles. When it is time to show up for her own wedding she comes in late,
wearing riding clothes, because she took too long at the barn.

Three centuries prior King Henry VIII grew tired of his wife so he asked
Rome to release him from the marriage. The Pope refused, so he took the
whole country of England out of the Church and started his own national
Church. Thomas Cranmer, the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, duly
announced King Henry’s marriage annulment with Catherine of Aragon. This
established the central feature of the Reformation, that human will was
ascendant over divine will.

After that it was like a dam had burst. John Knox founded the Scottish
Presbyterian Church after a disagreement with Lutherans over the shared
meal and church government. John Smyth founded the Baptist Church over the
issue of infant baptism and church-state separation. English translations
of the Bible appeared, and the new Church of England, controlled now by
Parliament, rejected for use in the Liturgy certain books of the Old Testa-
ment that had been authored in Greek and had been accepted by Rome and the
Eastern Church for centuries.

After the Western Church divided, it began to sub-divide again and again
over the smallest issues, such as whether women could wear slacks, or
whether playing cards was a sin, or what color the hymnal had to be. Every
new sect had their own doctrinal hobby horse to ride. For the Five Corners
Free Congregation of Pennsylvania, led by Paster Mark Lange, it was cousin
marriage.

God never had a problem with cousins getting hitched. Milcah was married to
her cousin, Nahor. They had a granddaughter named Rebbecca, who later mar-
ried Isaac, her first cousin once removed. Isaac instructed Jacob to marry
a daughter of Rebbecca’s brother. Jacob ended up marrying two of them, both
first cousins, Rachel and Leah. Eleazar’s daughters married their first
cousins. God even commanded Zelophehad’s five daughters to marry their
cousins so their inheritance would remain in the family.

It was precisely to prevent this accumulation of wealth in families (and
thus threaten the temporal power of the Papacy) that Pope Gregory I made
cousin-marriage absolutely forbidden for all Roman Catholic Christians.

Before the Civil War, no American state banned cousin marriage. In the
years following the war thirteen states did make it illegal. American pro-
hibitions against cousin marriages predate modern genetics. The United
States is the only western country with cousin marriage restrictions. About
twenty percent of all couples worldwide are first cousins. About eighty
percent of all marriages historically have been between first cousins.

The incest taboo actually has an internal basis. Many animals including
humans have evolved an aversion to mating very close within the bloodlines,
like between brother and sister, or son and mother. But the further away a
potential mate is from your own genetic inheritance, the less likely you
will run across them in everyday life and have the opportunity to get with
them. So first cousins represent a sort of optimum point between genetic
diversity and sexual availability.

All of these defenses (scriptural, historical, and anthropological) were
first compiled by Pastor Mark Lange of Five Corners Free Congregation, who
was deeply in love with his cousin-wife Joanna Lange. And all of this
would have been a mere footnote in the annals of 19th Century American
Protestantism had Mark Lange not made it a doctrine of his church that a
man could marry only his cousin, and no other, a sort of mirror-image of
Pope Gregory’s prohibition.

One hot day in July Pastor Mark Lange walks to his church and finds all the
pews are scattered outside. Union officers are sitting on his pews smoking
cigars and resting. Lange stretches his arms out in wonder and exclaims,
“Those are my pews!”

Inside the church the Federal commanding General of the week is pouring
over maps laid on the very altar. He says, “The rebs hit us on the left
yesterday and the right the day before. So if they attack again today they-
‘re going to hit us here, right in the center.”

The general turns to go outside, and bumps into Lange. He’s a man with a
temper, and barks, “Who the hell are you?”

“I’m the pastor of this church. This is my church!”

“The hell you say, sir!” the general demurs. “This is the headquarters of
the Army of the Potomac!”

Lange chooses to ignore this. “General, would you tell your men to lay a
lighter hand on church property?”

“You’re brave, pastor, I’ll give you that. Now get out of my sight, or I’ll
put a musket in your hand and put you up on yonder stone wall!”

Just then a hole bursts in one wall, filling the church with flying splin-
ters. It’s 1307 on July 3, 1863. On Seminary Ridge one hundred forty guns
of the rebel artillery have opened up a furious barrage.

The general runs out of the church picking splinters out of his skin and
barking orders. The officers sitting frozen on the pews begin to scatter.
Shells burst nearby.

Union artillery is quickly brought up to answer the Confederate guns. Pas-
tor Lange remains inside his church, as though his presence would save it,
but another hole is made in the wall, severely wounding Lange with splin-
ters.

Lange puts his hands together and prays: “Lord, forgive your stiff-necked
servant.”

Shells and shot land all around the church now.

“West!” Lange blurts out. “I see that now, Lord! You wanted us to move
West, not North!”

A well-placed shot pierces the wall for a third time. Inside, the shower of
splinters causes Lange to swoon and fall under the altar. Outside, the
church is seen to collapse in ruin with Lange still inside.

The church glows even more white, and is surrounded by a halo. None pay
much attention to this. The church recedes into the distance inside the
halo.

Lange is trapped inside under fallen timbers, and grunts with pain. A
person of indeterminate gender lets Lange see hem and says hez trademark,
“Be not afraid.” Che goes on to say, “You have a large splinter of wood in
your kidney.”

All Lange can manage to say in reply is, “Hurts!”

The androgynous person says, “You also have a broken leg you cannot feel
because a beam of wood is pinching. I can’t help you until we lift the
beam, but when we do you will feel it. You will most assuredly feel it.”
Lange grunts, “Help me! Anything is better than this!”

The good Samaritan nods, and two servants lift the heavy beam. From
Lange’s point of view, the man or woman has a look of compassion but every-
thing turns red. His face grows frozen in astonishment at the pain, and he
faints.

The good Samaritan removes the splinter from Lange’s back and closes the
wound with merely a touch. With the same effortless ease che makes Lange’s
leg, with a compound fracture, straight and whole again. Then the servants
carry an unconscious Lange out of the church on a stretcher.

The church is now located on a field in a hollow spherical world, green and
blue and white, illuminated by a central sun. As Lange is borne away, is
met by a person who is much more obviously female. Sha says, “Is he the
one, Yeshua? Your final apostle?”

“Possibly, Cheran. He is free to refuse. Each one of us is free to refuse,
at any time, always.”

“And his church? Will it not be missed, even in this wrecked state?”

“It will be returned to where and when it was, without even a discernible
seam in time.”

“Of course! Your gift of placing fold-space endpoints anywhere in space-
time.”

“Do have a care, Cheran. Milcom and Thaumiel must never know we can do
that until it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Mark Lange has become well enough to walk. He is brought to a seated Yesh-
ua, who invites him also to sit. They are seated in chairs around a small
table on a deck of dark wood, and they are outdoors.

Yeshua stares at him intently and says, “Mark Lange, whom do you say I am?”

Lange recognizes the question from scripture. “You are the Christ, the son
of the living God.” He stands up out of respect, but Yeshua waves for him
to sit back down.

When Lange is reseated Yeshua says, “You do well to say so, and you are to
be praised for doing that on so few clues. Ever since that one Pope foisted
the face of his bastard son Cesare Borgia on the faithful most people look
for a beard and long hair.”

Lange would have never been able to pick the real Yeshua out from a crowd.
The Lord has a short pixie cut of dark reddish-brown hair, and no matter
how long Mark listens to hem or gazes upon hem he cannot decide if Yeshua
is male or female.

“Say what you will have me do, Lord Jesus,” he says.

“Yeshua, please. Not Jesus. The Greeks thought ‘Yeshua’ was too girly and
made it Iesous. Then later the English thought Iesous was too girly and
made it Jesus.”

Servants bring a pane of dark glass and set it down between Yeshua and
Lange. Yeshua says, “There is much I could tell you, but it is perhaps too
much to receive. You wouldn’t believe it. Saulus, the fellow you call the
apostle Paul, was sitting right here after I picked him up from Damascus
Road and not even he could take it all in.”

“If my Lord is willing, I will try to understand.”

“Very good, Pastor Mark. Take this black slab of glass. It is not magic.
There is no magic. Your own countrymen will make it in the next century and
call it a micro. There is no Swarm where and when you live, but even
still, words will appear on this glass when you touch it. You will cause
the words to be bound into a book. You will call this book the Holy Bu-
ron, and it will become the sacred scripture of your flock when you
return.”

“When I return, Lord?” says Lange, with some surprise. “So I am not dead?”

Yeshua smiles. “No, Mark, you are not yet dead. But you will be returned
precisely to where and when you were taken on the last day of the largest
battle in the American Civil War. Go home, but take care when you do. I
suggest you do not linger so close to the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge.”

“I am to go home,” Lange repeated, “and bind these words into a book called
the Buron.”

“Only a first edition, of course. And you must not be overcome with sloth
when you transcribe the black slab, for it will only display my words for a
few months. What you and your flock do after will extend the Buron, if
you agree.”

“Command me, Yeshua.”

“You will gather as many as will go with you and journey to the Nebraska
Territory to a place called Green Dome. There you will find a group of
original inhabitants to baptize in the manner that you do so well. You
will know these people by a sign: They shall, to a man, speak your own
tongue. They will do so because a young man among them named Jashen, who
has also been here in the Land We Know for a time, will teach them during
the months and years that you make your journey. And there will be another
sign, which will become apparent to you after you write the Buron. Then you
will be one flock to me, both Red and White, as they are called, although
as you will see you are really both just brown and more brown.”

The Lord stands up. Mark Lange stands up immediately after, but Lange
kneels once more. He says, “It will be just as you have said, Lord Yeshua.”
—————————————————————————
It is not a small thing for nine Pennsylvania families to just pick up and
move west. The Savitt family and Brannen family, in fact, elect not to
follow Mark Lange.It takes two years for Lange, together with the Hillings,
Bergins, Zinters, Krauses, Porters and Wustners, to scrimp and save the two
hundred dollars each family needs to provision themselves for the pilgrim-
age. They are fortunate that more than half their journey takes place by
rail, over Government Bridge, which in 1865 is the only railroad span over
the Mississippi. The train leaves all of them on the platform in Daven-
port.

There they purchase the wagons, animals, food, and sundries they need to
cross Iowa and half the Nebraska territory.As they journey west, at first
they encounter farms, and trade their silver for fresh food, but one day
they trundle on out past the last settlement and have to live on their
stores.

On Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings they arrange their ten wagons
into a circle, light a fire, and enter into joyful worship, led by Pastor
Lange, who speaks of how he had been caught up into the Third Heaven and
conversed with the Lord.And he reads from the Holy Buron the words Yeshua
had commanded him to put into print.

The wagon train of the die-hards of Five Corners Free Congregation contin-
ues to move slowly west. Babies are born, and some these die. The seven
families are fortunate not to be attacked by Indians, for the Civil War is
over, and many elements the Union Army have been reassigned on the frontier
to protect settlers such as they, and more often than not the
pilgrims dash from the cover of one fort to another.

One Wednesday night out under the stars many miles between two of these
army forts, after the hymns are sung, Mark Lange opens the Buron and con-
tinues to read about the time of the Deluge on Barbelo. He goes on to ex-
plain how a garbled version of the story filtered into Sumeria and became
part of the Gilgamesh epic, and later a garbled version of that story be-
came the tale of Noah in Genesis. And none of the people are shocked at
would be considered heresy in any other congregation.

Jashen Two Pricks follows hyz father’s command to harry the bulk of Paul
Morrison’s cattle herd, knowing it will keep the men driving them from dou-
bling back while Wanica and his men prepare the carcass of the downed cow
for transport.But the herd is driven far and fast to the northwest and

Jashen deems they will not return. Also there are stray cattle left behind
that he thought should be gathered together and brought back to the People
as surety against lean times. Hy and all the hunters with hym brandish
whips.

But soon they are discovered by the main body of the Fort Shiprock cavalry
under Lieutenant Welles, who have followed the hoofprints of Morrison’s
herd. Jashen and hyz hunters abandon their little group of salvaged cows
and flee singly or in pairs to the four winds.Lt. Welles looks through his
binoculars and sees the main herd is safe.

“These locals aren’t going anywhere, gentlemen,” he says.”We have time to
mete out justice on them one after the other.” So he does not not order
his thirty cavalrymen to split up and ride after each man, but instead they
all ride hell-for-leather after just one pair fleeing to the northeast,
into the badlands.

Jashen Two Pricks flees alone to the southeast, witnessed only by passing
pronghorns and badgers and coyotes and prairie dogs jumping up to check out
the passing hoofbeats.

Jashen begins to smell something funny.

After a time Two Pricks grows filled with wonder when hy sees the ten wag-
ons of the pilgrims of the Five Corners Free Congregation plodding west
along the north bank of the Indian River.”It’s not a respectable wilderness
anymore!” he mutters to hymself using the English hy learned to use in a
mere instant when hy was taken to the Land We Know.

The settlers see Jashen approach and point rifles at him, but then Jashen
sees the lead wagon is driven by a man hy recognizes from his vision quest
three years prior.Jashen takes off hyz headdress and hy is recognized in
turn.

“We meet at last, Pastor Mark Lange,” Jashen says in a loud voice, “just as
Chief Yeshua prophesied.” The settlers are thrilled by hyz words, the first
third-party confirmation of Lange’s personal Road to Damascus experience.

“Jashen?” Mark Lange brings his wagon to a halt and jumps down to slowly
advance, and finally embrace the young yeng. The two young men have never
actually met before. The rifles are all lowered and put out of sight.

Lange points to the prominent butte a few miles upriver to the west and
asks Jashen, “Is that Green Dome?”

“Green Dome, yes,” Jashen affirms.”That’s what the white settlers call it.
My father has named it the Island in the Sky.”

“Then we have reached our destination!” Lange says triumphantly.”God be
praised!”

“As fate would have it, Mark Lange, we are in plenty trouble right now.
The United States Army is hunting the hunters of the People. How this came
to be is a long story. Can you hide me for a short time?”

Lange doesn’t hesitate for an instant. “Crawl into the back of my wagon.”
Lt. Welles pushes his men and horses to exhaustion as they ride through the
dunes and dry ravines of the badlands, thinking all the time they are draw-
ing nearer to their prey, but they are chasing a phantom, and as dusk set-
tles in the cavalry itself becomes the prey. In an arroyo they come to a
halt, having found the bodies of the two Kaleetan hunters they were chasing
bristling with arrow shafts like a pair of cacti, and their horses gone.

A rock slide of curious origin blocks any further advance, and another rock
slide cuts off any escape. Then arrows sing out from hidden nooks among the
boulders and from behind sharp ridge lines, answered by gun-fire as the
cavalry shoots wildly at any perceived movement.

The battle seems to go too easy for the Northern Raiders, and at first they
suspect treachery, but in truth the Dakota are fighting in land they know
intimately while Welles, his other men and all their horses are blind, ex-
hausted, lost, frightened, and in no condition to put up much of a fight.

Only the five men who were left behind to hold Fort Shiprock remain alive
of the entire company.A few weeks later a sergeant arrives with orders ca-
bled from the War Department to break up the fort and cart the essentials
away to Fort Robinson using the dozen or so remaining draft horses.

Night falls and still the soldiers do not come looking for hym, Jashen be-
gins to relax a bit. The wagons are set in the traditional circle, and
Jashen relates as much as hy can of the People’s history to Lange and his
congregation using their own language, which they find flawless, though
perhaps with a touch of snootiness from back East.

In the morning the wagons arrived at the base of Green Dome. Jashen is
reunited with hyz parents, Wanica and Yuha, and hy is filled with joy to
see them alive. But the four fallen warriors of the People, Left Hand, Half
Yellow Face, Kill Eagle, and Hairy Moccasin, are lying on a bier of branch-
es taken from woody shrubs. And it is on this solemn occasion when the
Kaleetan People and the settlers of Mark Lange’s group are first gathered
all together.

In full view of everyone Wanica lights off the Golden Gift and makes the
bodies of his dead men disappear.

Lange and the other whites are struck speechless. Coming as they did from a
religious background, such a display could be nothing other than the power
of God made manifest. “This is a sign!” they exclaim.They recognize the
Golden Gift as the same weapon wielded by Prince Melchizedek when he first
encountered father Abraham.

“God has brought us together,” Lange declares, “White man and Red man
alike, in this land of His choosing, flowing with milk and honey.”

All the people look around and take in the barren, mostly tree-less grass-
lands.

Lange clears his throat. “Here we all shall remain, and prosper with God’s
blessings!”

Lange couldn’t just take the weapon outright, for it was holy, a godly
gift, and so it could never be defiled by base theft. Obviously the People
of Wanica and the remnant of the Five Corners Free Congregation would have
to be permanent and equal (but separate) partners. The doctrine of matrimo-
nial consanguinity, or cousin-marriage, would prevent any joining between
the two sides, thus salving some of the other settlers’ horror at any race-
mixing.

After the funeral there follows a good old-fashioned revival featuring the
mass conversion of the entire Kaleetan people, followed by their assembly-
line baptism in the cold silty waters of the Indian River. Three times us-
ing total immersion, mind, since Lange was at heart still a Dunker. So a
new congregation is born, the Church of Green Dome, with a White Wing and a
Red Wing, “Two lungs by which the united people of the Creator draw new
breath,” Lange says in his high-fallutin’ way.

Jashen Two Pricks follows hyz father’s command to harry the bulk of Paul
Morrison’s cattle herd, knowing it will keep the men driving them from dou-
bling back while Wanica and his men prepare the carcass of the downed cow
for transport.But the herd is driven far and fast to the northwest and

Jashen deems they will not return. Also there are stray cattle left behind
that he thought should be gathered together and brought back to the People
as surety against lean times. Hy and all the hunters with hym brandish
whips.

But soon they are discovered by the main body of the Fort Shiprock cavalry
under Lieutenant Welles, who have followed the hoofprints of Morrison’s
herd. Jashen and hyz hunters abandon their little group of salvaged cows
and flee singly or in pairs to the four winds.Lt. Welles looks through his
binoculars and sees the main herd is safe.

“These locals aren’t going anywhere, gentlemen,” he says.”We have time to
mete out justice on them one after the other.” So he does not not order
his thirty cavalrymen to split up and ride after each man, but instead they
all ride hell-for-leather after just one pair fleeing to the northeast,
into the badlands.

Jashen Two Pricks flees alone to the southeast, witnessed only by passing
pronghorns and badgers and coyotes and prairie dogs jumping up to check out
the passing hoofbeats.

Jashen begins to smell something funny.

After a time Two Pricks grows filled with wonder when hy sees the ten wag-
ons of the pilgrims of the Five Corners Free Congregation plodding west
along the north bank of the Indian River.”It’s not a respectable wilderness
anymore!” he mutters to hymself using the English hy learned to use in a
mere instant when hy was taken to the Land We Know.

The settlers see Jashen approach and point rifles at him, but then Jashen
sees the lead wagon is driven by a man hy recognizes from his vision quest
three years prior.Jashen takes off hyz headdress and hy is recognized in
turn.

“We meet again at last, Pastor Mark Lange,” Jashen says in a loud voice,
“just as Chief Yeshua prophesied.”The settlers are thrilled by hyz words,
the first third-party confirmation of Lange’s personal Road to Damascus
experience.

“Jashen!”Mark Lange brings his wagon to a halt and jumps down to embrace
the young yeng. The rifles are all lowered and put out of sight. Lange
points to the prominent butte a few miles upriver to the west and asks, “Is
that Green Dome?”

“Green Dome, yes,” Jashen affirms.”That’s what the white settlers call it.
My father has named it the Island in the Sky.”

“Then we have reached our destination!” Lange says triumphantly.”God be
praised!”

“As fate would have it, Mark Lange, “we are in plenty trouble right now.
The United States Army is hunting the hunters of the People. How this came
to be is a long story. Can you hide me for a short time?”

Lange doesn’t hesitate for an instant. “Crawl into the back of my wagon.”
Lt. Welles pushes his men and horses to exhaustion as they ride through the
dunes and dry ravines of the badlands, thinking all the time they are draw-
ing nearer to their prey, but they are chasing a phantom, and as dusk set-
tles in the cavalry itself becomes the prey. In an arroyo they come to a
halt, having found the bodies of the two Kaleetan hunters they were chasing
bristling with arrow shafts like a pair of cacti, and their horses gone.

A rock slide of curious origin blocks any further advance, and another rock
slide cuts off any escape. Then arrows sing out from hidden nooks among the
boulders and from behind sharp ridge lines, answered by gun-fire as the
cavalry shoots wildly at any perceived movement.

The battle seems to go too easy for the Northern Raiders, and at first they
suspect treachery, but in truth the Dakota are fighting in land they know
intimately while Welles, his other men and all their horses are blind, ex-
hausted, lost, frightened, and in no condition to put up much of a fight.

Only the five men who were left behind to hold Fort Shiprock remain alive
of the entire company.A few weeks later a sergeant arrives with orders ca-
bled from the War Department to break up the fort and cart the essentials
away to Fort Robinson using the dozen or so remaining draft horses.

Night falls and still the soldiers do not come looking for hym, Jashen be-
gins to relax a bit. The wagons are set in the traditional circle, and
Jashen relates as much as hy can of the People’s history to Lange and his
congregation using their own language, which they find flawless, though
perhaps with a touch of snootiness from back East.

In the morning the wagons arrived at the base of Green Dome. Jashen is
reunited with hyz parents, Wanica and Yuha, and hy is filled with joy to
see them alive. But the four fallen warriors of the People, Left Hand, Half
Yellow Face, Kill Eagle, and Hairy Moccasin, are lying on a bier of branch-
es taken from woody shrubs. And it is on this solemn occasion when the
Kaleetan People and the settlers of Mark Lange’s group are first gathered
all together.

In full view of everyone Wanica lights off the Golden Gift and makes the
bodies of his dead men disappear.

Lange and the other whites are struck speechless. Coming as they did from a
religious background, such a display could be nothing other than the power
of God made manifest. “This is a sign!” they exclaim.They recognize the
Golden Gift as the same weapon wielded by Prince Melchizedek when he first
encountered father Abraham.

“God has brought us together,” Lange declares, “White man and Red man
alike, in this land of His choosing, flowing with milk and honey.”

All the people look around and take in the barren, mostly tree-less grass-
lands.

Lange clears his throat. “Here we all shall remain, and prosper with God’s
blessings!”

Lange couldn’t just take the weapon outright, for it was holy, a godly
gift, and so it could never be defiled by base theft. Obviously the People
of Wanica and the remnant of the Five Corners Free Congregation would have
to be permanent and equal (but separate) partners. The doctrine of matrimo-
nial consanguinity, or cousin-marriage, would prevent any joining between
the two sides, thus salving some of the other settlers’ horror at any race-
mixing.

After the funeral there follows a good old-fashioned revival featuring the
mass conversion of the entire Kaleetan people, followed by their assembly-
line baptism in the cold silty waters of the Indian River. Three times us-
ing total immersion, mind, since Lange was at heart still a Dunker. So a
new congregation is born, the Church of Green Dome, with a White Wing and a
Red Wing, “Two lungs by which the united people of the Creator draw new
breath,” Lange says in his high-fallutin’ way.

Wanica’s people return to their encampment at the 4,650 foot level of Green
Dome, on a wide bench on the eastern side of the hill. Aided by the Whites
they begin to turn it into a permanent village. Eight sod houses are con-
structed within the first month, and these are gradually improved as time
goes by, but many of the Kaleetan continue to dwell in their tipis.

Gary Bergin, his wife Marge, and their four children Dale, Owen, Hester and
Grace choose the valley of Indian River due south of Green Dome and begin
pulling up dead stumps of burnt trees to establish a farm, aided by the
eager labor of some of Wanica’s men, once it is explained what they are
trying to do. The Bergins propose to their new friends a life free of any
reliance on roaming herds of animals. It would not be imposed on the Red
Wing, who traditionally relied on hunting, but it was available to any of
them who accepted it freely.

Alfred Porter, his wife Caroline, and their four children George, Edwin,
Rachel, and Lucy establish their farm near the place where Chief Wanica
slew Smalley, Morrison, and the others, a little to the north of the river
ford. Water is plentiful and they grow a wide variety of green stuff as
though they had an extended backyard garden.Something about the Porters
putting down roots makes the Kaleetan People forget all about the Northern
Raiders.

Thomas Hilling, his wife Melanie, and their five children Lee, Kenneth,
Jane, Faith and Susan choose a spot for their homestead at elevation 4,400
on the slope of Green Dome just below the village of the People.At first
they grow livestock, taken from the animals that accompanied them on the
pilgrimage, but they also plant rows of apple trees, and in years to come
their orchards spread all over the eastern slopes of Green Dome and their
cows and sheep graze in the shade.

Theodore and Sarah Wustner, with their crowd of eight children Harry, Ida,
Brandon, Coral, Louise, Emma, Lukas, and Judith settle to the south of the
river ford and there they take to raising horses, having taken back most of
the horses they loaned to make the pilgrimage. The younger Wustner chil-
dren became great friends with the younger Kaleetan children, forming bonds
that would carry on through the decades.

The rest of the Whites plat out the town of Greendome on both sides of the
river crossing. In the beginning these are Paul and Pamela Krause with
their three children, Douglas, John, and Katerina, who build and run a gen-
eral store.Johann and Anna Zinter with their two children David and Janet
build and run a blacksmith shop.

Mark Lange and his wife Joanna are childless, but not for much longer. In
1869 Janet would be born, followed by David in 1872. Mark builds a taber-
nacle on the summit of Green Dome, which is just under 5,000 above sea lev-
el, but only about 900 feet above the plains.From there he can see nearly
seventy miles out over the grasslands, in every direction. The tabernacle
is built over the cairn of the Artifact, commemorating the very place where
Wanica and Jashen came face-to-face with God. The white clam shell thing is
considered a holy relic to be hidden and protected by the altar, not for
outsiders to gawk at.

Lange declares himself the first Prophet of Green Dome, and his growing
family dwells in a modest home near the tabernacle. Wanica also lives near
the summit of Green Dome, for he remains the Chief of the original inhabi-
tants and he is also called the Apostle of the Church.If Mark Lange passed
on before he did, Chief Wanica would become the Prophet of the Church and
choose a new Apostle from among the Whites.Thus the leadership would alter-
nate between Red and White wings.

The Green Dome Tabernacle is the gathering places for all the people, Red
and White, every Sunday and Wednesday morning. With each homily the Prophet
and the Apostle establish the wall of Church doctrine steadily, like laying
bricks. One of the doctrines, which is really a concession to the Kaleetan
people, is that everyone, both male and female, must wear their hair long
and tied into a pony tail.So after a time, the members of the Green Dome
Church are called Ponies by outsiders, and later even by themselves. The
Kaleetan are also introduced to the Western concept of surnames. Jashen
remembers his original given name of Shy Bear and chooses the single name
Shybear to be his surname.

In 1869 the rumor of gold is heard tell in the headwaters of Indian River
and Greendome swells with the influx of prospectors hungry for the shiny
yellow stuff. Some get rich, but many of the Sixty-Niners strike out. Some
of these stay in Greendome as converts to the Church. After the rail line
connects Greendome to the new Union Pacific line running across the country
it is easy for cousins of the new converts to make their way west to new
lives as wives of the former prospectors.

Gradually the tabernacle on Green Dome is expanded into a large wooden and
whitewashed edifice called the Green Dome Temple. When it is complete
Prophet Mark Lange is fifty-three years of age. Secondary tabernacles are
established throughout the United States but all Green Dome funerals still
take place at the original site.

Chief Wanica dies in 1906 at the age of 84. He lies in state in the Temple
sanctuary for fourteen days. Many Endomites scattered across the country
journey by train or even by the newfangled horseless carriages to pay their
last respects. When the Prophet Lange commits the Chief’s body directly
into the hands of God it is a sight that few but the oldest members present
have ever seen, for the Church has grown beyond the dreams of her
founders.At the funeral, Lange announces that a young man named Peter Two-
feathers is the new Apostle to replace Chief Wanica, although Jashen Two
Pricks becomes the new Chief.

For most of the attendees it is a ceremony they would not witness until
they were well into middle-age when their parents died, and of course ever-
yone prayed they would never have to attend. But the Greem Dome Church has
grown so large that every day except Wednesdays and Sundays the Temple is
booked for farewell Rites.

Not everything is so grim. During the fair held in honor of the Prophet’s
65th birthday a barnstormer comes to town, offering rides in his biplane.
Fearless, Mark Lange steps up to be the first to fly, to the delight of
everyone present. Few religious leaders have been so beloved, at least
among his own faithful. Outsiders, however, consider Greendomism to be a
dangerous cult, on the same order as Mormonism, Satanism, or even Catholi-
cism. Critics think them to be non-Christian sun-worshipers who preserve
the commandments of the devil (Thaumiel), thought Jesus to be both male and
female, and marry their close kin. And the critics are absolutely right.

Two years later the Great War breaks out in Europe and many Green Dome tab-
ernacles in France and the Low Countries are destroyed by stray shells. At
the bidding of the Prophet a special collection is taken up to bring succor
to the wartime mission field. With these funds in hand, Prophet Lange
boards the steam liner Reina Regenta in New York with about a quarter-
million dollars in gold bullion to aid the faithful in nations torn by the
conflict, the first truly industrial war on Earth, which has grown to rage
across much of the world.

Survivors of the voyage across the Atlantic tell of the implacable patience
of Prophet Mark Lange as he is dogged day and night by a newspaper reporter
named Rupert Keller, a grandson of Carl Keller, who obviously has a person-
al beef with Lange’s “cult”. When the ship is in the frigid waters almost
precisely in the center of the ocean far from any help she takes two torpe-
does from a German U-boat. The Reina Regenta lists sharply to the side,
drowning half her lifeboats. Frantically, the lifeboats on her port side
are laden with passengers and released but there are not enough for every-
one and no chance of raising the floundering ones on the starboard side.
Women and children go first, and then old men are allowed to board. Prophet
Mark Lange is placed in the last lifeboat, but before it is lowered to the
sea he spies Rupert Keller standing on the deck of the doomed ship, contem-
plating death. The Prophet bounds out of his place and offers his seat to
the reporter.B “Happy birthday, son,” he says with a gentle smile.

Lange is not without fear, for all living things fear death as part of
their natural defense mechanism, but he is encouraged by his memories of
the Land We Know and the Golden Gift, physical evidence of the existence of
God which he has been so fortunate to witness. He spreads his encouragement
around to the rest of the doomed passengers on board. In this way he makes
their passing a little bit easier. There is just enough time for the last
lifeboat to get away before the ship rolls completely over and takes every-
one aboard down to the frigid and murky depths of the ocean.