Friday, November 06, 2009

Dr. Zhang Fights the War

Internationally renowned surgeon-warrior, Z, stood before the Joint Chiefs.

"This war is fundamentally unjust," he told them. "It is inherently evil, and you must break it off at once, for the good of every nation involved! Also, it's totally the result of one of N's plots, and he's probably going to try to use it to take over the government."

"Nonsense!" the Joint Chiefs of Staff replied. "This is useless to us! We called you here to advise us on the prosecution of the war. Instead, you whine and complain and make up conspiracy theories? You're the worst internationally renowned surgeon-warrior we've ever met! Get out of here! Go sulk in your room!"

Z frowned. With one last, warning look, he left the room, shoulders slumped. Then he went back to his room and sulked!

"Man, stupid Joint Chiefs of Staff," he complained. "All with their heads stuck up their brass and their epaulets clogging their esophagus. Why don't they believe me when I warn them?"

Z's cell phone rang.

"Man, calling me now?" Z asked, digging into his pockets. "Well, whatever, it'll take my mind off those stupid Joint Chiefs. Too bad it's probably not related. I mean, someone calling just now about that very same subject would be a ridiculously unlikely coincidence, right? Nah, it's probably Jeremy calling about lunch."

Shut up, "Z"! This plot isn't going to move itself!

"'ello, Z!" the caller said with a thick accent. "I am ze President. I 'ave an offer for you."

"Wait, the President who is the Command in Chief, and can overrule those dang Joint Chiefs?" Z asked. "Why didn't you call earlier?"

"I am afraid you misunderstand," the President said. "I am not your President. I am the President of the nation you are at war with."

"Huh," Z said.

"You are an internationally renowned surgeon-warrior," the President said. "I want you to come fight for us."

Z squinted. "Uh, I have some problems with the government, and also with the war," he said. "But I think that actually fighting for the other side is... treachery? Which is generally considered bad."

"Were not your country's founders considered traitors by ze king against which zey rebelled?" the President asked. "But do not worry. You would not be fighting your own countrymen."

"...then, who?" Z asked.

"We 'ave obtained information on ze whereabouts of ze man you call... N," the President said.

Z's eyes widened.

"We will book you a flight, eh?" the President asked.

"First thing," Z agreed.

Then he flew over!

"We believe that this map, here, shows the location of N's mountain base," the military commander briefed Z.

"Why does N have a mountain base?" Z asked.

"Hired men," the commander explained. "Agent provocateurs. Impersonating ethnic minorities with legitimate grievances, our actions against them have been taken as a provocation by your nation's military. We need to capture them, or at least their documents, to prove that we have been set up."

"And you think that N might be still there," Z said.

"Yes," the commander confirmed. "A turncoat among the mercenaries reported his presence. Further, he's reported to have a tendency to personally supervise his schemes."

"That sounds like the devil I know," Z said, eyes momentarily unfocusing in thought. He returned to the present after a short moment. "Yes, it's plausible. I'm in. What's the assault plan?"

The commander began to explain. "We go in by helicopter..."

Two days later, Z stood shakily within a helicopter, flying through the mountains in conjunction with the other five helicopters in the attack group. "We're nearly there!" the pilot shouted back, his voice deafening to be heard over the sound of the rotors. "Just a half a klick to the target - it should be in sight at any moment."

"About time," the soldier next to Z said, rolling his shoulders. "Nothing more tedious than a trip like this - "

Klaxons went off. The helicopter rocked.

"What's going on?" a solder shouted.

"We're under fire from the ground!" the pilot shouted back. "Some kinda shoulder-launched SAMs! It looks bad -"

Z leaned out of the helicopter and examined the situation.

Smoke trails criss-crossed the sky, leading from clumps of concealing rocks and shrubbery to the helicopters. The helicopters seemed unharmed - Z guessed at some kind of automatic defenses, and was proved right as another rocket arced upwards and was caught by - of all things! - a weighed net fired with explosive bolts, carrying the rocket to fall harmlessly onto the ground. But those can't work more than once, Z thought -

- and was proved quickly, dreadfully right as the lead helicopter turned into a ball of rapidly expanding vapor.

"An ambush from the ground!" Z shouted, pushing his way to the front of the helicopter. He found the radio, toggled it to transmit as the pilot looked at him with surprise. "All pilots, descend! Move forward and descend, max speed! We need to clear line of sight now!"

"You're not in the chain of command - " the pilot protested.

"The commander went up with the lead helicopter and we're all going to die if you don't do anything!" Z said. "Move!"

Another explosion rocked the helicopter.

The pilot gulped any obeyed.

And well, after that, things were practically easy!

"We've got the papers," the second-in-command told Z. "It's just like we thought. This'll be explosive enough to blow the whole war right to shreds, once we get it to the U.N."

"But there's no sign of N," Z said.

"No, sir," the second-in-command said. "It looks like he was never here - our 'informant' was playing for the other side after all. But thanks to you, that bit him right in the hiney! He'll regret this one!"

"Yes," Z said. "I guess he will."

Z sat alone until the second-in-command left.

Then he raised his arms to the sky.

"I'll get you yet, N!" he vowed.

Later, he had ice cream!