When Vishnu returned to earth in the form of an Austrian Corporal, it took the whole world combined to destroy the prophesized tenth avatar, all puppets to the whims of Kali. The Bull of Dharma, in all previous Kali Yugas left on one foot, was finally unseated by Kali. An Eternity of death, dissolution, and depravity destroyed Dharma on Earth, as the demon Kali reveled in the defeat of his eternal foe. It seemed that the wheel of Dharma, unshakable for eternities prior, was finally knocked off of its axel.
That was until the eleventh avatar came.
Monday, April 5th, 1976
0730 Hours (EST)
“Tragedy strikes in Houston as the renowned Ranger Hotel burned to the ground last Saturday evening in yet another case of arson that seems to be sweeping the nation. The fire claimed the lives of some thirty-two staff and guests, injuring another fifty-six. The Houston Police Department-” The T.V. in Colonel Robert van Decker’s office switched off.
“Can’t keep leaving that on overnight.” He muttered to himself as he turned on the light and closed the door. Taking off his overcoat and hanging it on the rack perpendicular the door, his dress greens were revealed to the empty room.
A Musket on a Blue Field surrounded by a laurel wreath was the mark of an Infantryman who had fired his weapon in anger. It sat atop the rows of ribbons on his left side. The trained eye would have spotted no less than a Silver Star, a Bronze Star for Valor, a Purple Heart, and a handful of other high awards which could write a ticket to the Pentagon.
The Colonel himself appeared as worn as the medals suggested. He’d shaved his head bald for a year now, not content to have his hair taken from him bit by bit. Steely-rimmed glasses sat upon a Roman nose, and the narrowness of his face was accentuated by his time-tightened skin. His cheekbones were prominent enough to be shelves, which gave the impression his hazel eyes were always squinting.
The Colonel checked his office mailbox. Sure enough, he had some fifty pieces of paper all stamped ‘TOP SECRET’ or ‘URGENT.’ Everything here was Top Secret and Urgent. So much so that one got bored of it. The General was surprised that there weren’t more security leaks.
“Why did I leave Benning?” he muttered to himself, starting to sort through the paperwork which overflowed the box below the slit labelled ‘Mail.’ He’d gotten through about twelve dispatches when the phone on his desk rang. He stared at it for a moment, then took a cursory glance at the M1 helmet he kept beside it. Sighing deeply, he reached for the bright red telephone like a child told to rake the lawn. “Van Decker.” he said curtly.
“Mornin’ Bob, how’s the wife?” A gruff voice said through the phone. It was Rear Admiral Jackson Wilcox, attache to the Pentagon J2.
“Good as can be sir, how’s the boy?” Van Decker said, taking a look at the framed flag on his office wall.
“Outstanding. President’s list. Says he’s ready to kick ass his last year playing ball.” Wilcox said.
“Well ain’t that somethin’. Your boy’s at Georgetown, right?” Van Decker said, reading all the campaign ribbons on the flag.
“By god I hope so!” Wilcox said, breaking into a laugh. Van Decker didn’t bother to match it. “Well let’s get down to business, Bob. You hear about that business in Houston on Saturday?” Wilcox took a more serious tone.
“Caught a bit of it on the TV. Some hotel burn down?” Van Decker said, stopping at the ribbon that read ‘Oaxaca Valley.’ He grit his teeth as if the sewn letters gave him pain.
“Yeah Bob, that’s what the networks are saying. Crude as it sounds, I don’t care about that.” Wilcox said, stopping to clear his throat. “We think SD was involved.” Van Decker’s eyebrow rose.
“What makes you think SD was involved in some arson hit?” Van Decker said.
“Because Houston PD found some interesting stuff in the ruins that survived the fire. DIA got it before the Bureau did.” Wilcox said. Van Decker felt the grin through the phone.
“Alright sir, where do I come in?” Van Decker asked.
“Bob, I want you to find me the best guy you can. Find him, vet him, make sure he isn’t a Yockey type, and give him the manila folder I just sent to your office. You got that?” Wilcox said.
“Crystal clear, sir.” Van Decker said, knocking on his desk with his knuckles.
“Alright outstanding. Get me a list of at least six candidates before the day is out.” Wilcox said as he hung up. Van Decker put the phone back on its stand and leaned back on his desk. Moments later, a courier with Wilcox’s manila folder handed it off to the Colonel. Of course, it was labeled both ‘TOP SECRET’ and ‘URGENT.’ Goodie. Van Decker took a moment to clear his mind, then he picked up the telephone again.
“Put me through to Fort Patton and get me in touch with someone from 15th Infantry.”