Epilogue - Their Endless Worlds MARCH, 1952 - MEDICAL RESEARCH UNIT 3966TH, PROJECT : IMMUNITA
Bartford Hamilton Steele The Fourth rode back into camp, whipped and angry. He would only feel more so, by day's end.
The well-manicured man's presence boded no good for anyone at Immunita.
"Sir. May I ask what brings you here?"
The man seemed to never smile.
"Of course not. But I will tell you. Time for a change in administration, here at the 3966th. Out with the old, and in with the new. No more of your rough and tumble tactics. Time for someone with a softer, more thorough touch. You've been playing juvenille games, tweaking the noses of the medics down the road. But that ends. We're replacing John Ford with Frank Capra. We want efficiency and order, both. We mean to have them."
Steele shook his head.
"You won't get the same results. You'll have a reliable source of narrative, but lose that brilliant edge. Besides, there has been a change in administration. When my Dad lost his mind, I took over."
The man shook his head.
"So you think you're Potter to your father's Blake? Nooo. You are Frank Burns, Bartford. Moreover, you are Trapper John. I do have to compliment you on the timing of McIntyre's departure, though. It'll be years before Pierce trusts him again. We're giving you a little stash, to start up a paperwork firm. You'll be processing dead soldiers. Your first assignment--the late Hawkeye Pierce."
"Alright, I get it. But who's getting the nod?"
Out of the shadows stepped Doctor Dorian Taylor.
"I'll thank you to leave my camp, Bartford. And don't worry about your father--he'll be cared for."
Accepting his fate, the young spy shrugged.
"Why would I worry about that relic?"
Near his cage, General Bartford Hamilton Steele The Third had a visitor.
"So--you decided to call yourself Flagg? Kinda redundant, doncha think?"
Colonel Flagg's eyes now glowed the same fierce red as The General's.
"You pagh wraiths like subtlety. I like in-your-face kind of humor. Like when Herod betrayed the Horsemen? That was mine. Be well, General."
"You do the same--Morningst---"
"You always did have a short fuse."
So ended the brief meeting of two dangerous men--who were far more dangerous than anyone realized.
MASH 4077TH, MARCH, 1953
Charles was in a typical Winchester snit.
"All right--I'll give my blood--again. But I must say, Pierce--I have not once seen you or the Major give til it hurts."
Potter stood up.
"Major--lie down and shut up. Boy, you bluebloods yap until there's no tomorrow."
As Winchester reluctantly did as he was bid, Kitty Jarrod stopped Potter.
"Colonel--why do Pierce and Houlihan never 'give til it hurts'?"
Sherman looked down, then up.
"Captain--lets just say--it wouldn't be them that would be hurting, and leave it at that."
NOVEMBER, 1963 - RIVER BEND, MISSOURI
The young man from Earth's future had seen a lot of strange things. But few had frightened him as badly as the rage that took over Sherman Potter when the news of the President's death was announced.
"Granpa--are you all right?"
Potter smiled. He liked that this young man called him Granpa, despite the four centuries between their births. But they were kin, and to Sherm and Mildred, he was a sign of future posterity--and nothing else mattered.
"Yeah, Jake. I'm all right. Why don't you sit yourself down. I've got a humdinger of a story for that journal of yours. Its all about my parents, Agnes and Andrew Potter. I've even got an opening line for ya, if that's no trouble."
"No--are you kidding? That's a big help. So what's the first line?"
Jake Sisko had thought that having a Prophet for a grandmother was as weird as his trans-temporal life could get. He now found that belief challenged by Sherm's narrative. The Colonel spoke the first line.
"We are what we are--and nothing can change that."
MARCH, 1973, A CEMETERY IN HANNIBAL, MISSOURI
One and a half years away from his promised time of departure from the twentieth century, Jake Sisko was now helping Sherman on the darkest day of his life. Preparing her usual feast for the Pierces' homecoming party after their service in Vietnam, the primal lifeforce that was Mildred Potter left this Earth forever.
"One thing about Grandma Mildred--you know without question that she got into Heaven."
Sherman stood, legs now supported by a cane, and did far more than just weep for the best part of his life, now behind him. He wondered if a man with a past as bloody as his own could possibly ever join Mildred in the Heaven he too was certain she had found.
"Jake--you go on to the hotel. Tell the family and friends I'm waiting for sunset."
Sunset--and someone soon came.