Chapter 3 - The Man In Question
Hawkeye and the others called him Lo John. It wasn't his name, but it seemed to suit the younger brother of Ho John, now at medical school in the US. He was as strong and sturdy as one thought a wartime farmboy might be. But that morning, still reeling from the world-altering plans Potter and Kronoupolis were making, Pierce saw the young man shaking. Sadly, he knew that shake. It was from something that should have been beautiful, but was somehow wrong.
He was crying. He didn't even cry when his mother died.
"God, Hawkeye! She's so very beautiful. No Korean girl will look at me, for all the GI's around. But Miss Cassandra...she just kept demanding more. I...I thought it was gonna fall off. I think she even slugged me once."
To say that Pierce was enraged was an understatement. The kid was barely fourteen. A grim trend emerged in his mind. He sat down next to Lo John, his face all sympathy for a young man who wondered why a dream come true made him feel so angry.
"Cass---always came on strong. One day, she invited me to skinny-dip with her. She then had me in a bear-hug that affected my breathing. She said what to do, and I did it. I--enjoyed being with her. But it was like something was wrong. That could be because, well, something was wrong."
Lo John shook his head.
"I'd have done it anyway! In a minute! She's like an older Carol Lombard. But its like she had to take what she wanted."
"Yeah, that's our Cass."
After guiding Lo John out of camp, Hawkeye gathered the senior staff--except, of course, for Potter, who was still making plans in his office. Kronoupolis' presence seemed to invigorate him.
"Sherm, this plan is the finest kind. How do you do it?"
"Same as always. I just see the tanks and soldiers moving in my head. Kronny--why Pierce? I'll do what I have to, but I might like to know why you want me to kill the man."
"I could just tell you that its my order. But that's never been your way, has it? Always the maverick, always questioning orders. I never could make regular army out of you. As to Pierce, he's a pinko pain. Remember that Korean village got bombed?"
Potter continued to draw on the map.
"Sure. Thought that was all to do with Immunita. Gene experimentation, and all that."
"Yeah, well I worked Immunita in those days. Got my hands on one of their little viruses. Don't worry---I have it stashed in Paris. Point is, it was my boys did the bombings. The ruckus Pierce raised cost me the sweetest job I've had in sixty---in forty years of military service."
Sherman almost seemed disinterested.
"What about that garbage they injected into him and Houlihan?"
"That's why she and Pierce have to die, now. In five years, they'll be like supermen. In twenty years, Sherm---they'll be like gods. Wrong kind of people to get the Prize, if you know what I mean."
Potter shook his head.
"You never mentioned Margaret dying, too."
"Everybody---heh---MOST everybody dies, Sherm. But I'm not an oath-breaker. In exchange for those two troublemakers---I'll kill Cassandra for you. Deal?"
The Colonel looked up.
"Huh? Oh, sure. Hey, is there some inside joke about her name? You always seemed to get your yuks over it."
For just a moment, Kronopoulis' Brooklyn-Queens by-way-of-Chicago accent seemed to turn almost European.
"Leave us just say, I once knew another Cassandra, and her death would have solved a lot of troubles."
The shift, imperceptible to anyone who didn't know Kronopoulis, faded quickly.
"Speakin o' old concerns, Sherm, waddya know about a Doctor name of Adams at the 8063rd?"
Sherman's eyes darted about.
"Odd bird. Cynical as the day is long. Used to give Henry Blake a lot of grief, when they would meet up. MIA, as of last June. Flagg, out of intelligence, wanted him for questioning."
"Ahhh, there's nobody Flagg doesn't want for questioning. But he and his little band of Hunters know better than to cross me. Bart Steele does, too. Heh. I get that pre-pubescent punk so nervous, he has to grab a ciggie to calm himself. He's got potential, though. Well, I'll find Doc Adams eventually. If I'm right about him, then he's kind of a long-lost brother."
Casually, Colonel Potter tossed Kronopoulis a set of keys to a jeep.
"Whooa, Potter! You givin' me the bum's rush?"
"You, Stavros, have an appointment at Kim Po airport. After all, without Cy Marner and Casper Okthosvsky, The Boys From Golgotha are hardly a complete set."
Suddenly, something sparked within the heart of the dark soldier's dark soldier. His smile was that of a little boy.
"Y'know, Sherm? I was once part of something really, really special. Then, it all just up and went away on me. I've been with other units, but they were strictly lowlife since that first one. But you and the Boys are second only to them in my book, and that's somethin' special. Brother mine, we're turnin' back the clock."
"Bomb em' back to The Stone Age, huh, Kronny?"
"Ehhh, not quite the --Stone-- Age, but somewhere in that general Die-Rection. Catch ya on the flip side, Sherman!"
Once he was sure the jeep was off and away, Colonel Potter put on the boxing gloves that were a gift from Father Mulcahy. Securing them, he then screamed loudly, and punched through the glass doors of his liquor cabinet.
On the door of the VIP tent, Cassandra Weiskopf heard a banging. As she went outside, she saw Hawkeye hammering a sign. It read 'Quarrantined For New Incurable Strain Of VD.'
"Benjamin! How can you do this to me? You know that sign is a fraud."
But Pierce was letting neither his attraction to the older woman nor his rage rule him. Backing him up were Margaret Houlihan, BJ Hunnicutt, Charles Winchester,Father Mulcahy, and Kitty Jarrod. Max Klinger was acting as a lookout on the Colonel's activities.
"Two things, Cass. One, the kiddie concession ends here. Nicht Wahr. If you were a guy, you'd be dead already. I care about what happens to you, but your next date better be at least twenty-one, or I'll need to see some ID."
Her face became gentle, as Hawkeye knew it would. BJ almost seemed entranced, but a gentle nudge from Kitty Jarrod brought him back.
"Please! Don't take my boys away from me. They need love. Love only I can give."
Pierce was too disgusted to speak. Houlihan was not.
"Tell you what, short-eyes. 'Your' boys need love, we'll have a car shipped in from the States, and they can use the back seat. Now, get in your tent---and tell us about The Boys From Golgotha."
"Oh! You will all pay for this indignity."
Kitty Jarrod stopped Cass as she walked in with the others.
"What do you want, girl?"
From her back pocket, Kitty withdrew a small hand fan. But when she unfolded it, it was all made of metal. She picked up a good-sized rock, and threw it and the fan into the air. It spun, chopping the rock to pieces. Like a boomerang, the unharmed fan returned to Captain Jarrod.
"Message to you, 'Girl'. No more children, and none of my friends pay. Otherwise--Prepare Yourself."
As a slightly less haughty Cass went in, Charles saw Kitty put her fan away.
"Princess! Whatever am I to do with you? Last I checked, The Great Tournament is not sheduled til 1995."
"You liked it well enough when I did a fan dance, Charles. Besides, in her own way that woman is as slippery as my stepfather's pet sorcerer. I shouldn't be at all surprised if she could change shape, too."
"Princess! That's a well-Tsung song, don't you think?"
She patted his cheek playfully.
"Charles, leave the jokes to Pierce."
Inside, Cassandra Weiskopf began her suspect but neccesary account of the dark corners of Sherman Potter's past. Again, she was so immersed in recounting the sins of another, she forgot what had just occurred. Her face again became a gentle, inviting trap.
"You must understand, my people were winning the First World War. This made the Allies quite desperate to best our professional army....."