Its in the Booze
by Greg Williams
Rabaul, Solomon Island chain. Japanese Headquarters in the south pacific, 1943. Inside an thatch-made office a Colonel Imore sits. A samurai sword hangs on the wall to his left, a map of the Solomon chain on his right and a portrait of Emporer Hirohito behind him. There is a knock at the door.
A Major enters, and bows in traditional fashion.
"Ah, Major Kido, at ease. Have the Americans landed?"
"Right on schedule Colonel."
"Good. And the Sake?"
"Filled with the animal compound sent by Tokyo. When the Americans drink that sake they will be unable to operate in the area."
"Excellent. Report back when you have an update on Operation: Kitsune."
Tanawei Island, a lone island in the pacific located between the Caroline and Mariana chains. The post for the newly established Marine Corps Fighter Squadron VMF 515; the Growlin' Grizzlies. Major Travis Bishop, the commander, is sitting at his desk in the command tent looking over reports. A simple wooden table and chair makes for his desk, folders with papers, a lantern and framed photo of President Roosevelt sit on it. A file cabinet and two chairs on the other side of his desk make up the rest. His exec, Captain Aaron Coleman enters the tent and sits down.
"The mechanics have arrived Major."
"Good. The pilots?"
"Ready to start sir."
Bishop hands Coleman a folder.
"Read the names of these men to me and tell me a little about them."
Aaron opens the folder and reads down some of the names.
"Captain Tex DeFalco. A crop duster in Iowa.
Lieutenant Billy Davis. A farmer's son from Wichita Kansas.
Lt. Charlie Iron Horse. Navajo indian, and squadron radio man. He worked in a grocery store in Gallup New Mexico.
Lt. Alex McKinley. A ranch hand from Amarillo Texas.
Lt. Jarod Derksen. A doctor's son from Baltimore
Lt. Kevin Wilson. A roughneck oil driller from Tulsa Oklahoma.
Sargeant Zack Ford, squadron mechanic. Worked in an auto repair yard in Los Angeles."
"That's enough. Thank you Captain. I'll see you in The Cave tonight."
Coleman hands Bishop the folder and gets up to leave but stops.
"Can I ask you something sir? What did you do before the war?"
"In the Corps captain. I was stationed on Wake Island before the war started. I lost a lot of friends when the Japs took it. How about you?"
"I was a high school teacher in Green Bay."
"Well, your certainly getting an education here aren't you?"
"Definately sir. See you later sir."
"The Cave" is a large tent set up as the squadron's bar and relaxation area. All the pilots, and a few of the mechanics, of the squad are here with a bottle Coke in their hands. Tex DeFalco and Major Bishop are at one table.
"Wake Island? That's incredible sir."
"Tell me about it. I was on leave at Pearl on December 7th. I wanted to get back as soon as possible but I was lost in the shuffle for several weeks and by that time the island was theirs."
"You ever shoot down any Japanese planes sir?"
"I have 4 confirmed kills from Guadalcanal alone."
"4 kills? That's swell sir."
"Ain't it though?"
"May I have your attention?"
All activity stops to see Zack Ford at the bar holding a bottle.
"I'd like to welcome all of you new hotshots into the squadron. I just want to tell you that if you don't get a couple of meatballs for my boys to paint on your planes, you just keep flying right on home."
The entire room bursts into laughter.
"Seriously though, I hope this squadron has a long life and a lot of kills.
Zack holds up a bottle of alcohol.
"This bottle here is genuine Japanese sake. From what we can tell they left behind almost a five year supply of the stuff. So drink up boys!"
A cheer goes up from the everyone.
"That can wait for tomorrow sargeant." says Travis
"Aw, Major!" groans Billy.
"You all have a mission to fly tomorrow morning and I want you all bright eyed and bushy tailed. We'll celebrate the squadrons first mission tomorrow night. Get some sleep."
The next day the entire squad is in the air in their Corsairs.
"A bombing run on Truk?" complains Billy "Can't we flame us a couple o' Zekes?"
"That's enough Billy!" says Aaron
"That's all right Mr. Coleman." says Travis "I sympathize Mr. Davis. But this mission is important."
"Just like every other mission." says Billy
"Grizzly Leader, this is Cub two, Truk Island at 10:00."
"All right boys, there it is. Truk Island. Break formation and pick your targets but keep your wingman is sight. See you back on Tanawei!"
The planes go into their dives; flak and machine gun fires comes up from the island.
"There's a lot of flak up here Major!" says Billy
"Steady Davis. Just stay with your wingman."
"Cub six here, I got a lone Zeke looking for company at 2:00 low."
"Cub five here, he's mine!" says Billy
"Cub nine, this is Cub eight, bail out! Gus, answer me!"
"Cub eight, report!" says Travis
"He got shot down by flak Major. He didn't make it."
"Damn. What was his name again?"
"Gus Harris sir." says Aaron
"Whoo-hoo! Look at that fuel dump go!"
"I got 'im! Burn, you mother, burn! Ha ha! says Billy. "I got me a Jap Zeke!"
"Great job Billy." says Aaron "Cub six did you see it?"
"I was dodging flak, sir. Sorry."
"Nice job everyone, let's head home." says Travis
Back on the ground the pilots are congratulating each other on their first mission. Charlie Iron Horse walks up.
"I just got off with headquarters. It was a good mission. You did some serious damage to them and your kill was confirmed by a coastwatcher Billy."
Billy jumps for joy and pumps his fist in the air.
"Now if that isn't reason to celebrate I don't know what is." says Travis.
In The Cave the pilots are celebrating by drinking the left behind sake. Travis decides to leave early and goes to his tent to prepare for the next mission and he takes a bottle of sake with him.
Gallons of gas to be used in the mission, length of mission, how many pilots are going. Being a squad commander is sometimes boring work. I take another swig of the bottle then look down at the map again of tomorrow's target, but my eyes refuse to focus. "I'm probably just tired" I tell myself, until I see my hand in the lamp light. The skin is getting darker! In fact my entire body is starting to itch. As I watch in amazement, my fingernails elongate to turn into claws. My pants start to bulge in the back, but before I can take them off my head explodes with pain as my face pushes out and my ears travel upward. God it hurts! I'm not entirely sure but I'm poistive I hear bones cracking into new positions. Its over, finally and I get up and stagger to my shaving kit and look in the handheld mirror. What I see makes me gasp with shock; a wolf peers back at me! What am I, Lon Chaney?! I don't have time to look myself over as a horrified scream splits the air. I run out of my tent in the direction of the scream: The Cave. Who I think is Billy Davis is hunched in a fetal position outside the tent.
"Billy? You all right?"
I start at how gruff my voice sounds. Billy looks up and I see that he's turned into some kind of domestic cat.
"It's me. You all right?"
"My god Major, what's happened?
"I don't know."
A badger morph walks out of the tent and stops upon seeing the two of us. The badger is wearing Aaron Coleman's uniform.
"You too?" we reply in unison
"Will someone tell me what's going on?" I say to them.
"I-I was in The Cave sir." says Billy "Drinking that sake--"
With a start I suddenly understand.
"The sake! The Japs must have put something in it!"
I go into The Cave and stop at the entrance. Every pilot of the squadron has now become an animal of some sort. Charlie Iron Horse is sitting at a table near me. He is now a coyote.
"Spirit of Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Sitting Bull! What have those people done to us?!"
"I wish I knew." I reply
Sgt Zack Ford runs up to me. He has become a beaver. This tickles my funny bone and I can't help but smile.
Zack raises a finger to stop me.
"Not one beaver joke major, or so help me I'll throttle you."
Several of the pilots chuckle
"I've got the doc on his way. He's gonna check us out."
"Good. We need answers."
General Jason Newman, head of the wing the 515 belongs to, sits in The Cave and can't help but stare at Major Bishop.
"I know sir. Doc's completly baffled by this."
"I'll have every last bottle of the stuff destroyed."
"No sir please. We've agreed that we kinda like the new forms and we want to give the Japanese a proper thank you."
Travis smashes his fist into his palm.
"How do you mean?"
"This could be the break we need sir. If more soldiers drink the stuff the Japanese will be scared out of their wits to fight us."
"You really think so huh?"
"That or at least some elite squads. Think of it General. The Phillipines Campaign could be won before we know it if we use this stuff."
"And you can still fly?"
"Sargeant Ford may have to make a few modifications to accomidate our new bodies, but yes, we can still fly; he's willing to help us out on this."
"Very well. I'll authorize it."
"Thank you sir. The Japanese are going to be sorry they messed with us!"
"Hey guys check this out."
Charlie Iron Horse runs into The Cave holding a telegram.
"We just got a communique from Major Boyington of the Black Sheep wanting a case of our sake."
"We've already got a request for the stuff from an elite parachute platoon going to Burma." says Tex
"Man, this stuff is gonna be sellin like hot cakes." says Billy
Fanfare music as a movie theater plays it's news section. The title reads "515 squadron rakes in victories."
"Marines Corps Squadron VMF 515 has just become famous for their unusual looks. Drinking sake left behind by the Japanese the entire staff transformed into upright animals. Furries, morphs, whatever you call them, the Growlin' Grizzlies now unofficially named the Mega Morphs have raked up an impressive number of kills. Major Travis Bishop, seen here, has already become a triple ace shooting down 17 Japanese aircraft. The Japanese thinking they'd won a victory are on the defensive, now more than ever as we sweep towards final victory."