Chapter 1 - Over The Waters, Beneath The Sea
It was a large military transport aircraft. Too large to be used for its intended purpose. Horse-trading in the U.S. Senate was responsible for the creation of a transport so large, it was more target than resource. There were really only two uses for it. One, to bring troops to a site that was already largely secured. Of course, by the time that all enemy AA batteries had been nailed down, the need for that many troops was questionable. Also, a sniper could probably target the thing's brobdingangian fuel tank with one eye closed. So the main result of this budget-closer, the brainchild of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and the new rich kid from Massachusets, was to zip people back and forth for events.
This particular event should never have required any such transport. First, the overwhelming majority of the people being shuttled were civilian, many of them not even reservists. Secondly, the event in question had started out very small in scope.
Meeting at a diner-style seafood restaurant in Augusta, Maine, the world's unlikeliest and yet most inevitable couple were having brunch prior to what the woman called "Close-order drill". They were trying to meet more and more to get their relationship going. They stumbled and fell more often than not.
But, since most of Hawkeye Pierce's and Margaret Houlihan's relationship had consisted of grade-school antics, this adolescent-style one was actually a vast improvement.
"How...many of them were you really with?"
"Margaret, you don't want to know that!"
"That many, huh?"
"If I say the number was close to 100, can we move on? This kind of conversation is set to explode!"
"100?! There weren't that many nurses during our entire time there! Someone is exaggerating to pad their ego!"
If it weren't for his pride and the gorgeous, cocky smile Margaret wore, Hawkeye would have known enough to let it go.
"Sorry, honey, but that wasn't a counting number, so much as a percentage. Now, can we...."
"No, we can not! 100%? How could even you...Typical, Pierce! That number exceeds our patient recovery rate! Why you feel the need to brag...."
Before Hawkeye could retort, Margaret caught herself and remembered who had asked who about what.
"I'm sorry, darling, its just..."
"No, Margaret, its not just! To me or to you! Except for Kelly, Able, and Baker, and maybe Dish, I barely can discern between names! The other nurses and I got along because we could all die tomorrow. Most of them---probably wouldn't know me from the neighborhood lush! It was a way of getting by. You wrote reports, Radar had his animals, and Klinger played at being the Countess Of Monte Cristo. We all did what-and who-we had to."
"I said I was sorry! Its only that ...should we all just forget each other, in order to forget that place? We said we were family! But its been less than a year, and it feels like three! Hawkeye, I loved those girls like they were my own sisters! And I know you loved them for more than just their bodies!"
"Well, of course. You can't---ya know---24 hours a day! The only time we even tried that was right after we lost SpearChucker, Duke, and Ugly John! We were nuts from grief! We couldn't even tell people we knew them! I do love those ladies, and I hate the thought of not knowing about their careers, their kids, whatever...but what are we supposed to do? I mean, its a little early for a reunion, Margaret!"
"Sherman T. Potter, here!"
"Colonel? This is Peg Hunnicutt, out in San Francisco!"
"Ah, the lovely Mrs. H! What can I do you for, Peg?"
"Well, sir, Margaret Houlihan contacted me, and..."
"Did that dunderhead Pierce finally propose to her, or did she belt him again?"
"Neither, Colonel. She and Hawkeye said that we should all try and get together this July, on the 1st anniversary of the war's end. My hubby-who now has a bruise on his arm-kinda volunteered me to put it all together, since I did it for the families' get-together in New York."
"Well, by all means, count me and Mildred in, and I'll betcha Max and Soon-Lee will be tickled pink at the thought! The Padre's been feelin' a mite nostalgic, as well. By the by, Max is out of the psych ward. Lad finally seems to have his head on straight, praise be!"
"Oh, I knew you'd all come, Colonel, but that's not why I called. Look, we need a hall-preferably a big VFW somewhere, to hold this in. BJ said half the Generals in the Pentagon went through basic with you."
"Knew em' when they were the ones sayin' no General was worth a tinker's damn! Peg, consider the phone call placed! A big, bee-you-ti-full VF-typeW will be the 4077th's USA auxiliary!"
In Washington to testify about the recent chaos at General Pershing Veterans' Hospital in River Bend, Missouri, Sherman T. Potter knocked on the office door of General George Johansen. Potter had served with him and his late brother Ferdie during the First World War, and they had broken out of the same POW camp together, with the help of medic Duncan Macleod. He hoped Georgie would have the answers about the reunion hall. No one else had.
"Sherm, you old snitch! How's the testimony goin' ?"
"Aaah, the usual, Georgie! Wally Wainwright was embezzling the place blind! He and his crew are gone, thankfully! But right now, we have no administrator! That's not why I'm here, though, General."
"Aaah, yes! Your reunion! Sherm, I placed a call and found out that your request got---re-routed."
Potter started to feel the blood drain from his face. Re-routed was a nice way of saying that someone, somewhere, who had no right to say anything about it, had gotten a "Brilliant" idea about how something "should" be done.
"You outrank me, Georgie, so forgive my lack of respect when I ask by what moron's authority?"
"Tacken in recruitment. He wants newsreel cameras running as the 4077th has its get-together. He's adamant, Sherm! And there's more."
"With 'Tacky' Tacken, there usually is, Georgie! Does he understand the people involved-at all? They are not what you might call Recruitment Poster materiel'!"
"You know old Tacky, Sherm! Thought capturing the Kaiser's helmet would get him First Lieuie! Nearly got his butt shot off, all for a prop! Old Wilie never carried the real thing with him! Full of ideas, our Tacky-or full of something! He knows that your people were Iconoclasts- to put it mildly. He wants to show young people a different Army, and in a different setting. Tell, me, Colonel-your people were always fond of Tokyo, weren't they?"
"Course! Make it to Seoul, that's good! Make it to Tokyo, then the war is somewhere else! That's kind of a given, General! What's Tokyo got to do with our little shindig?"
"It's where your Reunion is going to take place, Colonel!"
Potter now felt the blood rushing back to his face.
"Now, look, Georgie! I'm regular Army! I dance where I'm told! But this is a private affair, and the Army has got to keep itself back! Just give us an available VFW hall, and some reimbursement fundage for travel expenses, like we requested, and all's well!"
"Sherm? Do you think I want to play with you like this? I raised all those objections, to Tacky! But he says he's gonna cut you off at the pass until you give in! Now, it'll be all on the Army's Tab, and you'll leave day after Thanksgiving. Staff only, no spouses, I'm afraid. But it'll be great! We'll gather ya, then bring you all back! Now waddya say, Sherm?"
"I'm still regular Army! If I told you what I have to say, I'd be shot for TREASON!"
With that, Potter stormed out. Within a month, the Reunion had gathered such steam, though, that the lack of a hall was intolerable. General Tacken was as good as his word, even blocking off a few non-VFW venues. Surprisingly, Pierce was the one who urged giving in.
"Look, Colonel, I don't like it, either, but, ya know, we gotta go through with this! Everybody's calling me to find out when and where! Just exact two promises from these people, and I'll corral the stragglers!"
"Georgie? Sherm? We'll do it! But two things, in writing! One-Never Again! I don't care if Harry, Ike, AND Doug want it, our get-togethers are OUR bulwark, from here on in! Two---Oh, well. Did you now? Well, yours truly being made the new Chief Adminstrator of Pershing General was the second thing! What an interesting Co-inky-dinky-doo that you all had the same idea!"
Hanging up, Potter felt both a little unclean, and a little refreshed. He had made his deal, and would allow himself to enjoy the benefits. For months now, he had put up with the inane stupidity at the Veterans' Hospital. Now, he would move like he had thought of since coming home.
"Max!? With the exception of yourself, the Padre, and Doc Taylor, review all personnel files. If they can be fired, fire em! If they can't, transfer em'! We're cleaning house, son!"
Max Klinger smiled a bright smile. The Colonel was back!
"Yes, Sir! It seems our little AfterMASH is finally coming together!"
Despite himself, Max would enjoy firing a certain secretary who felt it was her sworn duty to test his marriage vows. He would enjoy telling Soon-Lee even more. To him, she was the most beautiful thing on Earth. He wondered why she worried about competition.
December 27, 1954
The reunion was delayed until after Christmas. But now, all were assembled aboard the large plane. Lacking their spouses was rough, but they'd dealt with that before. Two things that two people couldn't deal with were the confined spaces and the loud roar of the powerful engine. They needed a distraction. They, of late, found that distraction - in one another.
"The engine is getting to me. Is the lack of space getting to you?"
"Very much so."
"Wanna make out?"
"I thought you'd never..mmmhh!"
As the new couple's lips locked, a lonely Frank Burns watched as his former lover and former Chief Tormentor went at it. He was determined not to make a fool of himself at the reunion, so he turned away. He walked over and found someone he hadn't met before-his replacement, Charles Emerson Winchester the Third.
While Frank tried hard to be more human, Sydney Freedman, occasional psychologist for the 4077th, saw Radar O'Reilly shivering in the corner. Concerned, Freedman went to speak with the young man. He was concerned because he liked Radar, but also because they shared a secret. Like their friends Connor and Duncan Macleod, Sydney and Walter were Immortals. Sydney was nearing 2000, while Radar had only died two years ago, and then awoke Immortal. Radar's face told Sydney that the boy's weird senses-his "Radar"-sensed something-something bad.
"Walter, what is it? Do you sense one of us? I don't think anybody on the plane.."
"Doctor Freedman, I'm feelin' somethin'! But it ain't one of us, and not a Wamphiri-guy, neither! Its...BIG! Its hurtin, too! I think...its headed for Tokyo! Oh, we gotta turn back!"
"Radar! The position we're over right now is near where Colonel Blake's plane was shot down. Could you be sensing that? Your senses are a lot different than the rest of us, remember."
"I spose' so. Jeez, life was a lot clearer fore' I got myself killed!"
As the plane made its approach toward Japan, on Odo Island, a reporter named Stephen Martin heard of an old legend of a powerful beast. In Okinawan, it was "Gorilla-Whale", or Gujira. Struggling with the dialect, Martin simply wrote one word in his ledger : GODZILLA. That night, terrible storms struck Odo Island---and something--emerged from the sea. Like Radar, it had fond memories of a simpler life. Unlike the young man, though, it had the power to bring about the fall of all creation. And it would use that power.