The Unknown Soldier: 1953: Death at the Inn of the Red Swan, Chapter 2: Too Many Blackhawks

by Blackwolf247, with Doc Quantum

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“Bart Hawk!” I exclaimed, seeing the raven-haired leader of a private military unit.

He nodded, gazed deeply into my bandaged face, and said quite calmly, “The Invisible Man, I suppose?”

“Close enough,” I said in response as I and my companions crossed over to the submarine.

“At any rate, Hawk,” I continued, “I’ve got some very important film to get back to Washington, pronto.”

Captain Chan saluted the black-uniformed Hawk. “Commander, it’s good to see you again.”

Hawk returned the salute. “You too, Chopper. How’s the fishing biz?”

Chan shrugged. “Same as always. Catch some, lose some.”

All of us went down into the submarine, and Gunner said to me, “I thought the Blackhawks were all killed by the Ratzis back in ’42.”

I shrugged this time, indicating the hawk symbol on the front of Hawk’s jacket. “He may wear a target on his chest, but I suspect that American Indian has nine lives.”

Bart Hawk ahemed to get our attention. “Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Mummy, but I’ve received new orders from Washington to pass on to you. If you will follow me to my quarters, Chan will take your Marines to the galley.”

In the small-but-comfortable quarters Hawk operated out of, he lit a pipe and offered me some tobacco and a drink of brandy.

“I don’t know who you are, or what the Halloween getup is for,” he said cooly, “but the President himself sent word of new developments he wants checked out.” He handed me a sealed envelope. “No one except I has seen this, but I warn you — you won’t be happy.”

As Hawk had said, inside was a message from the President. It seemed that I was to go back into Korea, locate and rescue — or, if necessary, kill — an American scientist who may have defected or been kidnapped.

The man in question had been developing a psychological control system that looked to be a hundred percent effective.

“Great,” I gasped. “How the hell am I supposed to know if he’s been turned?

Bart Hawk looked sympathetic. “My suggestion would be to flat-out kill him just to be safe.” He looked sad for a moment. “I had to leave one of my own men behind once. When we went back, he was dead.” He took a swig of brandy and explained, “Some costumed galoot calls himself the Sniper claimed my man had turned on us. Tried to kill an important member of the Dutch Underground.”

Bitterly, Hawk continued. “My point is, had I found him and had proof he had been turned, I would have killed him myself. Hell, I once had to kill a very close friend of mine who had been turned.” I thought I saw tears in his eyes as he spoke.

At that, Hawk raised his glass. “To old friends,” he said, and tossed his drink back.

For the first time in five years, I didn’t want to kill this man.

“Says here I am to go in alone.” I had felt embarrassed, which is why I changed the subject back to my orders. “My friends will be disappointed. I think they wanted to kill some Nips.”

“Got orders for them, too. Seems to be some action in a place called Cambodia. I’m to see they get to the underground there and give them a hand.” He stood up then. “Get some rest, because in a few hours, I have to drop you off back in Korea.”

I nodded, raised my own glass, and said, “To Korea!” Swallowing, I ground out my cigarette and rose to leave.

Truth of the matter was, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to Korea. But then again, I am a soldier sworn to follow orders, fight the bad guys, and all that good stuff.


Wing and I hauled the life raft ashore quickly and made short work of it, chopping it up enough to bury it.

Checking a map, we made our way inland. My bosses back in Washington felt I needed Wing as backup. I couldn’t argue with anonymous people thousands of miles away acting on behalf of the President himself, so here we were.

Swifter than you can say Babe Ruth, the Brooklyn-born Wing How — which I learned then was his full name — and I were in our disguises. We both wore false faces I conveniently pulled out of a disguise kit that made us look Italian — specifically like Franciscan monks. Many people back home didn’t know this, but Christians still lived normal lives (well, more or less normal) throughout the Empire of the Rising Sun. That, and with paperwork stating I was Father Francisco DiGuillarmo of Sicily, I would be considered a visiting missionary from an Axis nation.

Our mission was not, in fact, saving souls, but rather to locate and rescue — or, if necessary, kill — an American scientist who had either been kidnapped or defected to the Axis. Dr. Samuel Lewis was a renowned biochemist and, until recently, a very important member of a secret research team working on new forms of chemical weapons.

As we walked, I reflected on my own history and that of the Blackhawks — all three of those groups. My older brother had been a part of Bart Hawk’s team until somehow he ended up a Nazi captive and allegedly became turned to the Nazi cause.

I had a cousin who once worked with the most famous man called Blackhawk, the Polish fellow who led his team of Blackhawks throughout the war years and still makes the news fighting the Japanese here in Korea. Hell, for all I knew, my sister missing since 1943 ran off with the Frenchman Blackhawk worked with.

Hell of it is, not even the bigwigs in D.C. knew for sure just how many Blackhawks there were overall. Since I had a personal connection with the subject, I’d done my research and knew more than most. There were three teams of Blackhawks, as far as I knew, with dozens of men — and a few women — involved in one capacity or another. Strangely enough, there were also three Chinese guys codenamed Chop-Chop, Chopper, or Chops, each connected with one of the three teams. Made my head hurt to think about it.

Blackhawk — the original who had gathered his own team of Blackhawks by 1941 — is usually only ever called by that name. But I know that long before he was Blackhawk he was a Pole named Janos Prohaska. Still, despite his Eastern European roots, the man speaks perfect American English with no trace of an accent, and there’s probably a story behind that I’ve not yet learned. This most famous group of Blackhawks is the team of wartime fighter pilots also known as the Dark Knights. Originally a group of nine, their number eventually dropped to six pilots altogether, the same six that are still around today — Blackhawk, Andre, Olaf, Hendrickson, Chuck, and Stanislaus. They added to their number a seventh who wasn’t a pilot. This was the famous Liu “Chop-Chop” Huang, a Chinese-born young man who — despite being overweight — had been the team’s loyal right-hand man ever since he was a teenager. I’ve heard rumors that Chop-Chop, now an adult and in much better shape, is training to become a pilot himself. He might already be one now.

Bart Hawk, a descendant of Chief Black Hawk, the nineteenth-century American Indian chief from Utah who believed whites and his people could coexist in peace, is a pilot and soldier known himself as Black Hawk. The paramilitary group he runs was brought together in 1944 by Eisenhower himself as a low-key counterpart to the Blackhawks that would be focused on Europe at a time when the Blackhawks themselves had completely moved their operations over to the Pacific. In June, 1944, this team called the Black Hawks was dropped into Occupied France, where they helped a French Resistance agent named Heracles in preparation for a planned Allied invasion of Normandy. (*) Unfortunately, the German defenses in France were too strong, and the invasion was a disaster, resulting in the deaths or capture of thousands of Allied soldiers. As a result of Normandy, the Allies redoubled their efforts in Italy, which they’d already invaded in 1943, and pushed on through the Balkans until the end of the war in 1946. I’ve heard rumors that Blackhawk has borrowed Bart Hawk’s name on occasion, although I’m not sure how well the two men know each other. Captain Weng “Chopper” Chan, of course, was part of Hawk’s team of mercenaries.

[(*) Editor’s note: This is a modified version of an apocryphal Blackhawk origin story called “The Origin of the Blackhawks,” Blackhawk #198 (July, 1964).]

But there was also another strange group of seven Blackhawks that suddenly appeared in the spring of 1942, fully formed, who seemed almost identical to the original Blackhawks, with a few minor exceptions. For example, among their members was a Chinese martial arts master who didn’t look like Chop-Chop at all. (*) After fighting the Nazis for just a few months, that group disappeared and was never seen again. That disappearance began the rumors that the original Blackhawks had all been killed by the Ratzis during World War II. Despite the fact that the original team of Blackhawks was still very much in the public eye, that rumor still refused to die, as evidenced by Sarge’s earlier confusion.

[(*) Editor’s note: This are the Earth-Two Blackhawks, who temporarily migrated to Earth-X in April, 1942, as seen in “Crisis Point,” All-Star Squadron #50 (October, 1985), and who had returned to Earth-Two by 1944, as seen in “Ice Station Alpha,” The Brave and the Bold #167 (October, 1980).]

One thing this long-winded meditation did for me was help me pass the time until we got to the village of Cho-Sang. I trust, in the unlikely event my memoirs ever get published, readers will forgive me for editing out most of my rambling thoughts and miscellanea. But the purpose of my writing this is to record my mission, not bore you with long-winded dissertations more than necessary.

At any rate, we arrived at the Inn of the Red Swan, where we hoped to get a room or at least some food. Imagine my shock, then, when we walked into the inn, looked around, and spotted someone we both thought was dead.

Standing near the bar, as big as life and twice as beautiful, was none other than the most elegant, sensuous, sexy, and dangerous woman to ever have been born.

Her real name unknown, she used the alias of Silver Fox, a deadly assassin of Eurasian parentage. She had a cold heart and a warm body, as well as a burning desire to see the Japanese Emperor rule the world.

I admit I had mixed feelings at seeing her. I wanted to both kiss her passionately and kill her painfully. Wing, as I found out later, had his own beefs with her. She spotted us, and with a sunny smile on her gorgeous face, began walking toward us. It was a good thing we were disguised, or it would have been game over.

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