The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

THE LEGEND OF BIG JOHN by Mark Williams

1
 
MGM LOT, HOLLYWOOD
 
Marion Morrison closed the book he had just finished reading and held his head in his hands.  Goddamit. After over 100 movies, an Oscar and fighting a war against the big C, he was going to be remembered as a draft dodger. Maybe not by everyone, but by enough. That’s not how it should be for an American Icon. Shit I’m even beginning to speak like those damn 21st centuriers.  
 
His thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door of his trailer, a callow faced youth, too young to fight but not too young to find work in Hollywood poked his head in.
 
“Mr Wayne, Mr Ford says the set’s all lit and ready for you now”
 
“OK son . I’ll be there in a minute.”
 
Time to saddle up, John Wayne thought to himself, as he eased his six foot frame through the door into the bright Californian sunlight.
 
 
 
2
 
SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE  ZONE, CALIFORNIA
 
Admiral Kolhammer had been dreading this meeting since he had been forced to agree to it by Duffy. All part of operation “Total Spin” as she had christened the public relations the temps faced. Apart from the fact that he didn’t have time for a meeting like this, he also felt strangely out of his depth. So far he had pitted wits against J Edgar Hoover, Adolf Hitler and General Yamamoto, and so far he felt like he was 2 for 3. He’d lost one and it had been a big one, Hawaii to be exact, but that was the nature of war, and he’d soon have a chance to even the score. What was coming next wasn’t war, it was something else. It was show business.
 
Twenty minutes later the meeting was drawing to a satisfactory close, David O’Selznik representing the great and the not so good of Tinseltown had agreed to help Kolhammer with his wartime requirements. Soon he was going to need to mount not one but two elaborate deceptions in England and California if the multinational forces with the allies were going to free Hawaii from Japanese occupation, and the lighting, set riggers and effects artists of Hollywood would play a key part in this deception.
 
O’Selznik stood up to go and then paused,  
“You know Phillip, what this war needs is heroes.”
 
Kolhammer felt his blood pressure rise; he’d issued enough citations personally to know that this war had its fair share of heroes.
 
“No, I know what you’re going to say-we have heroes but too many have been in Special Ops you can’t talk about, or members of your own fantastic fleet. Dambusters, Guns of Naverone, OUR stories, none of the them are going to happen now”  
 
Strange, thought Kolhammer, how his emphasis on “OUR” had actually excluded the temps of his command and if he remembered things correctly, the guns of Naverone never had – well never mind…
 
“We need our own heroes Phillip, America needs heroes, HOLLYWOOD needs heroes – do me a favour and keep that in mind next time you are plan some secret mission to capture Adolf.
 
With that David O’Selznic exited stage left.
 
 
3
 
HONOLULU, HAWAII,  JAPANESE OCCUPATON ZONE
 
John Wayne surveyed his surroundings. He wasn’t happy. He’d arrived in Hawaii three days ago as part of USO tour to entertain the troops. It wasn’t exactly armed service but it felt better than just staying in Hollywood making pictures. Pictures he damn near didn’t have to make anymore now his entire- what did they call it – canon – of movies was safely in a vault at MGM ready for release. He’d put in for active service but the Navy board seemed to be stalling on that, so he’d made the best of it with this tour. Except that two things had started to go wrong. Now when he appeared on stage for the troops, he wasn’t always applauded- rumours spread fast- and it seemed he couldn’t shake the reputation of being a draft dodger. They still cheered him but he could see the soldiers holding back on respect- especially the ones in the Military hospitals- somehow the handshakes weren’t so firm anymore, and Privates first class were a little less star struck.
 
The second was equally damaging to his career. The Imperial Japanese army had invaded Hawaii two days ago.  
 
And that was why he was stuck in an elementary school hall with Errol Flynn and Clark Gable.
 
Flynn walked over to Wayne, his customary swagger conspicuously absent.
 
“Its not exactly Raffles is it?”
 
Gable looked up from the green US Army issue cot he was resting on.
“Damn site better than what a lot of the other guys have.”
 
For a moment the three of them were silent. Every one on the island knew how the Japanese had treated the soldiers and civilians in the occupied area of Australia.
 
A few hours later they leaned from a visiting Japanese General why their conditions were better. They had been designated VIP prisoners by the Japanese High Command. To be kept safe and well for the weekly broadcasts they were expected to make to the American people to reassure the folks back home how nicely everyone on Hawaii was being treated by their new Japanese liberators. The Japanese had learned from 21st century techniques as well- if they were to keep American public opinion divided over whether an attempt should be made to retake the islands, they needed “human interest”- people that ordinary Americans recognised. And ordinary Americans certainly recognised these three prisoners. It was also tacitly clear that General Nogumo would make good on his threat to massacre the island’s population if allied soldiers set foot on them. And that massacre would almost certainly begin with the very public beheading of the “Horrywud flee” as he had taken great pride in dubbing them.
 
 
 
USS HILLARY CLINTON, WEST COAST OF THE USA
 
Kolhammer was angry.  
 
Damn it what was the commander doing there anyway?
 
Lonesome Jones spoke back from the flat panel that held his image.
 
“Phillip, it was just bad luck- it seemed a good place to meet our Japanese agents who had just got back from the home islands- someone needed to debrief them and who better than someone who understands the programme?”
 
Kolhammer sucked in his breath. Now he bitterly regretted his decision to send a couple of “his” Japanese agents over to Tokyo to try and determine the progress – if any – that Japan was making on developing its own atomic weapons now it had been given a leg up by 21st century technology captured from the Sutanto. It had seemed a good idea at the time- and had worked well: the agents had made contact with some sympathetic scientists, recovered the intel and been successfully extracted – no mean feat in itself. They should now be enjoying some well deserved R&R in Hawaii. Instead they were dead. Killed in the first Japanese air raid on the Islands. The good news was that prior to that, they had been successfully debriefed. The bad news was that their debriefer was one of Kolhammer’s leading experts on nuclear fission and was now in Japanese hands.
 
“Lonesome- Roosevelt is being very skittish on authorising an extraction- but work up a plan anyway once the commander is located. It may not be possible, you know that- and you know we can’t let 21st century fission knowledge get into enemy hands.
 
Lonesome knew that very well.
“Don’t worry Admiral- if we have to do a sanction blue we will.”
 
 
HONOLULU, JAPANESE OCCUPATON ZONE
 
Flynn had watched a steady trickle of prisoners marched into the hall all day- all deemed in someway to be VIPs. Most he ignored – he could deal with scared faces, but scared and starstuck- that was just too much.  
 
But the one led in now , he’d make an exception for.
 
She was pretty- no, beautiful- beautiful like Olivia De Havilland but with the poise and confidence of Gloria Graeme. Outside of Hollywood he’d only seen that combination in a certain type of women- the sort of women who had come back from the 21st century. He rose up and walked over to her; the Japanese escort was just about to give her the customary shove into the middle of the hall- hard enough to remind prisoners who was boss but not too hard to break his Commander’s strict instructions on the treatment of prisoners.
 
Flynn squared up, preparing himself for the rifle butt in the face if didn’t work out.
“Arigato TOJO san,” he said with his best shit-eating grin, “I’ll take the Lady from here” and promptly grabbed her arm by the crook of the elbow, pulling her away from the guard. For a moment it looked bad but the Australian and Japanese stares locked, and this time the Japanese broke, and he turned away.
 
“Guess I’m bigger in Japan than I ever thought,”  Flynn chuckled, for the benefit of the 21st centuryer – whose disorientation was starting to clear.
 
“Hey thank you- don’t I know you from somewhere?”
 
“Indeed you might –  my name is Errol Flynn.  Allow me to introduce some friends of mine”.
 
 
An hour later and the introductions had been made.
 
“So I still don’t know why I’m here- and not in coach.”
 
“Well Sarah – can I call you that Lt. Commander? – I suspect that the Nips don’t know what to do about your 21st centuryers , particularly women.
 
Lt. Commander Sarah Chambers was still a little bit in awe of Clark Gable.  Flynn and his charms she could take or leave, the Duke probably would have been her brothers cup of tea, but Gable- he really was every bit the gentlemen she remembered from Gone with the Wind. He also wore the Army Air Force uniform he was in damn well.
 
“But Clark, from my World War Two history shouldn’t you be in Europe?”
 
“I was, but after you the Japs invaded northern Australia and the brass thought that a wing of B17s might be more use here.”
 
“OK.  It’s been very nice talking to you gentlemen, but I think that’s enough small talk.  Now when do we escape?”
 
 
ADAK  AIRFIELD, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
 
The engineer looked up from the open cowling of the V32 SeaOsprey’s port tilt rotor.
 
“I’m sorry Captain, I don’t care how important the op is, she needs a real overhaul and we just don’t have the spares.”
 
Captain Ralls sighed and spoke on the Osprey’s intercom to the US Navy Seal team in the passenger compartment.
 
“Stand down – we are scrubbing the mission.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE WOLFSCHANZE, EAST PRUSSIA
 
ReichsMarshall  Goering was very happy. His Luftwaffe had suffered terrible losses over the skies of England and most of his new jets had been squandered in an ill fated attempt to provide cover for the Tirpitz,  but he actually had good news for the F?hrer  Someone on the list of enemy terror flyers that the F?hrer wanted had been captured. He tapped a few keys, and a message was on its way to the German ambassador in Tokyo requesting the pilot’s – what was the new term?-  “rendition” to Berlin. For a few moments the calamities that had fallen the Third Reich didn’t seem to matter, in fact Goering chuckled to himself,   
 
“Frankly mien  F?hrer I couldn’t give a damn.”
 
 
 
HONOLULU, HAWAII,  JAPANESE OCCUPATION ZONE
 
 
Gabel returned to the group.
 
“So what did TO-JO have to say then?” Wayne asked.
 
“Well, apparently Hitler’s price on my head is good in the Pacific as well- they’re flying me out to Berlin via Tokyo tomorrow.  
 
Sarah spoke up, “You have to take me with you.”
Gable looked stunned.
 
“It’s our best chance to escape – and I really do need to escape.”
 
“We all do, but we have 20,000 Japs on this island stopping us doing it.”
 
“There are four of us – how many on a Betty bomber, Clark?”
 
“Four crew, say four guards.”
 
“Two to one odds Mister Wayne, don’t tell me you haven’t had worse in your career?”
 
“But how do we all get on the plane?” asked Errol.
 
“I think I have an idea.”  Wayne motioned to Gable and Chambers “You two had better start getting friendly.”
 
John Wayne stood up and sauntered over to the nearest guard who he knew spoke some English.  
 
“Hey Tojo, I need to speak to your boss.”
 
 
4
 
USS HILLARY CLINTON
 
Kolhammer was sickened. He didn’t have much time for Hollywood types, from either century. As a young ensign he’d once been assigned as Tom Cruise’s liaison when he’d been aboard the USS George Bush filming Topgun 2: Rearmed on Terror. He’d spent an entire month telling Cruise that Navy personnel, however decorated and however much a hot shot maverick renegade pilot that they may be, simply do not slouch.  At the premier, which did at least impress his girlfriend of the time, he watched two hours of hastily rushed out movie, designed to cash in on the then “War on Terror” – itself a hastily rushed out strategy, nothing but slouching. Cruise even said on national television that he owed his Oscar for his portrayal of former admiral brought out of retirement to train a cadre of pilots to fight the War on Terror, to a navy sergeant (oh dear) who taught him how to “stand like a hero.”
 
What sickened him right now was not on a silver filament vinyl pad screen, but was, unfortunately, real. John Wayne, a hero to millions of Americans, even in Kolhammer’s universe was guilty of something far worse than dodging the draft. He was currently singing the praises of the Japanese co-prosperity sphere and calling Roosevelt a deranged communist. Kolhammer had seen men forced to denounce their governments, and had once come damn close to doing it himself, but dammit if Wayne didn’t look like he was actually enjoying it, never mind doing it without coercion.
 
Kolhammer drank from his coffee cup, the unofficial motto of the Big Hill on its side. The ship’s namesake had earned a reputation for doing what he was about to do – in fact, that she had given the order for the Sanction Blue of her very own husband when he had been kidnapped by Al Qaeda , had been a major part of her re-election. Resolve was something the American people, Democrat or Republican, recognised and respected.  
 
He had been a Lieutenant Commander then, when he had had to work up the attack profile of the prototype combat mace that had obliterated the AQ cell, the 41st President of the United States, and any chance the fundamentalists had of coercing the sitting President.
 
This time he didn’t have the responsibility of working up the plan, but he signed the order setting in motion the grim task of killing their own, none the less.
 
 
 
COMBINED FLEET HEADQUATERS,   TOKYO
 
Yamamoto agreed with governor Nagumo that the value of an icon like John Wayne shaking hands with the German Hitler and giving a speech against the dangers of communism, or bowing before a newly visibly emperor was immense:  
 
“Yes Nagumo get him back on the first flight to Tokyo; you’ve done well. Frankly I am surprised.  I expected American steel to be stronger.”
 
 
 
HICKAM  FIELD,  HAWAII
    
Gable squinted in the bright sunlight. Clarke field certainly looked different now. Instead of rows of P40 Warhawks and the new Mustangs, there were new shiny white Japanese zeros. The bright red suns on each made them easy to count. There were a lot.
 
The guards were skittish – everyone expected an American strike at anytime, and they knew that if it came, they would be lucky to live long enough to know they were dead.
 
His small group had suffered no mistreatment from their captors but it wasn’t out of respect: if the Japs treated captured POWs the way he had heard, dishonoured by surrender as the Japs saw it, how they must despise a group of quisling actors. Gable thought about that looking at Wayne at the end of the group.  Quisling ACTORS, well maybe the important word in that sentence was actually the last.
 
 
 
 
 
USS ENTERPRISE, 1200 KM WEST OF HAWAII
 
Commander Cole sat in the cockpit of his new naval variant of the P38 Lightning long range fighter. According to the future history books, if that was the correct word, planes similar to this, would have once conducted a mission similar to his, flying a thousand miles, intercepting a Japanese Betty transport and sending admiral Yamamoto, architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, burning into the Pacific ocean. Instead, that same architect, thanks to the second major defeat he had inflicted on the United States of America, was sitting in relative safety in Japan. This mission was similar but rather less satisfying. Using the new Infrared night vision pod slung under his long port wing, he would find, locate and destroy in the middle of the night, another lone Japanese transport. The less satisfying part was that it would be full of American prisoners.
 
 
 
 
HICKAM  FIELD,  HAWAII
 
Just before dusk fell, the two 1,800 hp Mitsubishi MK4P Kasei 21 radial piston engines started of the transport started. Wayne, Flynn, Gable and Sarah were seated along one side of the converted bomber in wicker seats, belted in and cuffed with tightly bound tatami cords. Two Japanese guards sat opposite, no rifles, not much use in an aircraft anyway, but pistols and short wakisashi swords in scabbards.  Another had cooking duties and was making some green tea; the two others were up front chatting to the pilots.
 
All were happy. Although a long and dangerous night flight back to the home islands was ahead, they were the HOME islands, and a chance to see family that they all had expected never to see again when they set foot on Hawaiian soil.
 
Wayne remembered what Sarah had told them- that she had information she had to get back to the allies at all costs and under no circumstances did she want to finish this trip in Tokyo. The Japanese were almost certainly going through fleet net records and it was only a matter of time until they matched her picture up with one on a file labelled LT Commander Susan Cramer, nuclear physics specialist.  It made Wayne all the more determined to make sure this worked. He wasn’t in the habit of killing women and didn’t want to start one.
 
Sarah made a show of looking anxious on take off, tipping her head on to Gable’s shoulder. No one noticed her gently rubbing her bound wrists on the buckle of her service belt.
 
An hour out and the galley steward served the green tea.  The Japs drank first then watched as he gave cups to the four prisoners.
 
Wayne and Flynn looked at each other. This looked like as good as time as any. Wayne just hoped that these 21st century dames really were the crack fighters he’d heard about.  
 
Wayne took a big gulp of tea and then spat it out straight onto the boots of the guard opposite.   
 
“What is this lousy Nipponese buta shit?”  
 
Both guards glared at him, then one moved, quickly smashing Wayne across the head with the back of his bayonet.
 
The guard held his bayonet in front of Wayne, feeling the order not to harm the prisoners almost impossible to obey.
 
Wayne made it easy for him to decide and spat in his face.  
 
“Buta.”
 
It was too much for the Guard who immediately shouted,  “Dammea gajin!” and drew back his bayonet.
 
Most attention in the plane was fixed on Wayne and his guard, but not all. Sarah,  who had  freed her hands the last thirty minutes earlier, grabbed at the fire axe high above her head and on the down swing immediately threw it at the indignant guard, hitting him on the side of the head and sending him to the floor.  Gable, unbuckled by Sarah in a moment,  pushed off with his feet and barrelled at the guard in front of him, his hands still bound.
 
Wayne could just reach the bayonet that moments before had looked likely to end up in his belly. The Japanese steel cut easlily through his bonds and he advanced on the Jap Gable was wrestling with.
 
He stood above the guard, hesitating until the bayonet was plucked from his hand. Chambers quickly used it to cut the throat of the Jap just as he was about to finish throttling Gable on the floor of the aircraft.
 
Some part of the commotion summoned the other two guards, who emerged from the cockpit.  Wayne already had the pistol from his dead guard in his hand. It barked twice.  
 
“John the cockpit!” Gable shouted and they both dashed for it. For the escorting Zero it seemed like the Betty bomber simply suffered a seizure. He could hear the pilot break radio silence and could only guess at what was happening until the radio went dead, as the bomber spiralled down to the sea. But the pilot officer made up his mind what he had to do if it pulled out of its dive.
 
 
Gabled pulled back on the stick – it wasn’t that different from a B17 Flying Fortress but on the other hand he did have the bulk of two dead Nip pilots sharing the cockpit with him.
 
“John I think I’ve got it – get up back and see what you can do.”
 
Wayne moved into the back of the plane.   Flynn and and Chambers were standing there.
 
“Erroll help me get this machine gun set up on the waist mount.”
 
Lt Kashiwa had stalked the Bomber for ten minutes.  He had fuel for another 30 but he made up his mind: he would fly alongside for one last look.
 
“Come on you Nip bastard just a little closer.” Wayne held fire until he felt he couldn’t miss the Zero, and then pressed the trigger.
 
 
Kashiwa felt the bullets hit his fast but frail craft.  He banked away immediately and eased the Zero behind the wing of the bomber and fired straight into it. Too late though. Glycol covered his windscreen and from wave top height he plunged into the sea.
 
 
For two seconds the cabin was full of shattering sounds as bullets ripped through it, then all was silent.
 
Flynn finished throwing up, as Wayne turned away from the machine gun.
 
“I think I got him.” He collapsed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
400 KM WEST OF HAWAII
 
Cole had been flying a figure 8 track pattern for the last thirty minutes.  According to his Intel, the target should have flown through his search area by now. The rest of Bravo flight were patrolling the area south and north of his, and although it was a big ocean, his Fuji-Westingtonhouse Infrared night vision scope seemed to make it a lot smaller. A while back he had thought he had seen some kind of heat flare, but nothing had closed the distance.  
 
He was just about to key his radio to order his Squadron back to the Carrier, when he heard a faint Morse transmission.  
 
 
Gable turned to Sarah, “I hope someone picks that up – we’re a long way from land.”
 
He looked out of the starboard side of the cockpit – the wing was aflame.  I guess these things really are “one shot lighters”.
 
“Sarah, That wing’s gonna burn through in the next couple of  minutes –  we’re gonna to have to ditch right now.   Strap in tight as you can.”
 
Gable dove down to the water, hoping the wing would hold, but knowing that he still had practically no chance of ditching safely in the murky night. Just as he levelled out at 300 feet by the altimeter, he could see the reflection of the burning wing on the water. Damn it if the instrument of their immolation wasn’t about to become the instrument of their salvation. He throttled off, and let the plane float down to the sea, judging the descent by the light of the burning engine.
 
 
Wayne came round intermittently.  They had made him as comfortable as they could in the raft. Flynn had made a pretty good job of setting a makeshift sail up. It wouldn’t help them make any distance but kept things sea worthy. He was glad that messing around on his yacht had finally paid off. Gable’s arm was in a sling, Sarah was unhurt. Something had flown over them in the night, but they had no idea if it had had been friend or foe.   
 
“Errol?”
 
“Yes, John.”
 
“Don’t let them win at the Alamo.”
 
 
 
HMAS Havoc surfaced beneath them a day later. Flynn had done a good job of keeping the raft afloat in a storm after they ditched. He found it strangely fitting that after such an adventure he should be rescued by fellow Australians.   
 
 
 
5
 
MANN’S CHINESE THEATRE, LOS ANGELES, 1946
 
The red carpet was out, and the stars shone. It was the hottest ticket in town, and O’Zelznik smiled to himself.  ESCAPE FROM HAWAII stood out in sharp black lettering against the white theatre billboard.  His film, and he was damned sure it was soon to be his OSCARS, although hadn’t quite worked out yet how the CGI John Wayne was going to collect his…..  
 
 
Escape from Hawaii was the biggest grossing film of 1946 in the United States.  John Wayne gained an academy award for best computer generated actor in a dramatic role.
 
In the Universe from which Admiral Kolhammer had come, a popular movie trivia question of the time had been how many times in John Wayne’s hundred movies had he died.  In Kolhammers’ universe it had been six. In the new world of 1946, the answer was seven.

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