Mirsky’s on autopilot.
He walks through the camp, dodges around people, avoids Jeeps and trucks, salutes when required. He does all of this without seeing. He’s not totally divorced from his surroundings, that cunning survivor beast in the back of his mind won’t allow that. But everything but his survival instincts are bent on planning how to get to Leah.
He pauses in the shadow of the gate to Camp Cuckoo. He spares the monster skull a considering glance. Puts the last pieces together. Nothing too complex at this stage. Too early. But the general outlines seem to be solid.
The survivor instinct taps him on the shoulder. He turns at the sound of his name.
“Sergeant Mirsky! Sergeant! Hold up a minute, there!”
The man calling his name wears Major’s rank, so Mirsky snappily salutes. “Yes, sir!”
The Major’s a tall man, uniform’s tailored, looks like he’s got Intelligence pins on his collar. Mirsky checks his hands and they’re soft and clean. He’s desk, not field. Probably never seen combat. Then he gets close enough and Mirsky sees his eyes. Cold liar’s eyes and Mirsky automatically makes him as a dangerous man.
The Major gestures at ease and Mirsky relaxes, though his next words make Mirsky tighten up inside.“Sergeant, we need to talk.”
“We do? I mean, yes, sir. Whatever you say, sir.” Mirsky puts on a professionally blank face and a tone of polite obedience. He’s been sweated by everyone from the Ohkrana to the Soviet secret police to the FBI. He’s not going to give this putz anything.
“You’re not in any trouble, though, given your background, I imagine you’re in trouble somewhere.” The accent is East Coast American and the tone is aristocratic.
Mirsky keeps his tone level, his face blank, completely hiding his opinion that the Major would look very nice shot in the face. “Sir.”
The Major gestures through the gate, towards Camo Cuckoo. “Let’s walk while we talk. No need for people to listen in on our little confab.”
“Sir.” Sooner or later, this shitbird will come to some sort of point, and Mirsky will be free to get on his own business. He probably wants in on some of the hustles that Mirsky’s been running. Easy enough to grease his palm, especially now that Mirsky doesn’t care about his black market deals anymore. This Major, he wants something, that’s for sure.
The two of them start walking aimlessly through Camp Cuckoo. The Major absentmindedly returns salutes with a patrician flourish that sets Mirsky’s teeth on edge.
“Let me introduce myself. I’m Major Duvall, Army Intelligence. I understand that you had an encounter with some of the more… unorthodox elements of the Army last night.”
That puts a different light on things. Is this Duvall going to interfere with what he’s got to do? But it might also be an opportunity… “You mean that rabbi and his statues? Yeah, I guess you could say that we had an … encounter.”
“That’s good that you recognized him, this Captain Maccabbee, as a Jew. You’re a Jew, yourself, aren’t you, Sergeant?”
It’s only a lifetime of experience of dealing with anti-Semitic assholes who hold the power of life and death that keep Mirsky from rolling his eyes so hard that they fall out of their sockets and keeps his voice level and noncommittal. ”Yes, sir. I’m a Jew.”
“Good. That’s very helpful to what we have planned.” Duvall stops and looks at Mirsky directly. “And you knew what those walking statues were? The other men in your unit said that you called them golems and talked to Maccabbee about them.”
If he wasn’t planning on leaving at the first opportunity, Mirsky knows that he’d have to have words with those blockheads in his unit. Teach them about what not to say when people come asking. But right now, he doesn’t care and this conversation keeps going in interesting and useful directions. “Yes, sir. Before last night, I just thought they were folktales, not real. But with all the weird shit that’s part of the Army now, I shouldn’t have been surprised.” He nods in the direction of the looming giant walking tank soldier that’s been a fixture on the horizon. It stands there, motionless, and every once and a while, a spray of sparks come from inside it where it’s being repaired.
“”And it’s all that weird shit, as you so accurately call it, that has us concerned.” Duvall returns the salute of a wolfman who walks by, carrying a heavy machine gun in one clawed hand. “And that’s why we need you, Sergeant. We need you to be our eyes and ears into a part of this “weird shit”.”
Ah. Things start to become clear. It’s a rat they want. Mirsky’s hand, the one on the other side of his body from Duvall, clenches into a fist. That’s the only sign of his rage that Mirsky allows himself. He keeps his voice calm and questioning, curious, since this shitbird is being so generous with information. “Eyes and ears? But I’m just a dogface with the 9th Infantry. I’m not part of them over here in Camp Cuckoo.”
“And that’s why you’re valuable. Your observations won’t be tainted because you aren’t part of them. Part of all these Camp Cuckoo Weird War units. The fact that you’re a Jew is an added bonus.”
“That’s possibly the first time anyone’s ever said that to me, sir. Thank you.” He doesn’t give Duvall a chance to respond. “So I’m getting re-assigned?”
“Yes. You’ll be detached for special operations, a liaison between headquarters and Captain Maccabbee.”
“Is there any reason to suspect Captain Maccabbee of anything?” Mirsky pays close attention to Duvall’s answer to that question. He’s got to know for sure if the Major is lying or not.
“Not at all! Command would just feel more comfortable with another set of eyes in this situation.”
A little bit of a lie there. Good. Another part of his plan starts to take shape. “You can count on me, sir! Glad to do my part!”