20. Funston assembles his team

Captain Harry Newton stood at attention for several moments before the general's big desk. He stole a glance at the young officer beside him, Lieutenant Burton Mitchell. Neither man was told why he'd been summoned to the commander's office, only that it was urgent and to say nothing to anyone. They'd been waiting for some time while the general shuffled papers under an odd looking dagger with a jade handle. To Newton, Funston seemed agitated, out of sorts. He thought he'd never seen the general so preoccupied. He'd sensed the tension the moment he came in and didn't like it. The unexpected presence of Segovia, the turncoat Spaniard sitting at the foot of the conference table, made him even more doubtful. Well aware of the spy's treacherous nature, he'd immediately concluded whatever his commanding officer was up to, if it involved Segovia, was at the least foolhardy and at worst, dangerous.

At last the general looked up, acknowledged their presence. "Good morning, gentlemen. Please be seated. I presume you know Lazaro Segovia." The Spaniard didn't move, said nothing in the way of a greeting, only a slight flicker of the eyelids at the sound of his own name. Funston walked to a large wall map and drew back the canvas cover." I am in possession of certain documents that reveal the whereabouts of Emilio Aguinaldo. In less than two weeks I intend to launch an expedition to find the insurrecto bandit and bring him back to face the gallows. I've chosen you two men to assist me."

Newton felt the perspiration build under his shirt and trickle down his spine. He looked across the table at Mitchell. Suddenly pale, the boy's thin lips quivered and his eyes darted first toward the door, then the window. Burton, my young friend, Newton thought to himself, we've gotten ourselves into something now. The general continued,"How I obtained these documents is unimportant. What matters is that both Senor Segovia and I are convinced of their authenticity." Funston used his jade handled dagger as a pointer." Aguinaldo is holed up in a mountain village called Palanan, here, on the northeast coast. He's requested reinforcements. I intend to honor that request."

Burton Mitchell gulped a quick breath and squeaked, "Beg your pardon, sir?"

"You heard me, Lieutenant. Segovia here's been busy recruiting a gang of Macabebes. How many so far?"

The Spaniard sat at attention, lifted his head." Eighty, sir. All good men."

"Fine. Cutthroat bastards, those Macs. You can't turn your back on them, but they'll do just about anything to kill a Tagalog." The general turned to his map." Anyway, in a nutshell the plan is to outfit them to look like insurrectos and sail up past Corregidor Island to the village of Casigurian. From there we take shank's pony the last ninety miles to Palanan. Aguinaldo will think his reinforcements have arrived, but what he'll get instead is a lethal dose of Yankee-By-God ingenuity."

Lieutenant Mitchell wheezed, lifted a finger to indicate himself and Captain Newton. "Where do we fit into all this, sir?"

Momentarily taken aback, Funston cocked an eyebrow, then put his arm around the young officer's shoulder and bellowed, "You're going along! Hell yes, we're all going! That's the beauty of the plan. We'll send word the reinforcements are arriving with American prisoners, a survey party they came across in the mountains. We're the icing on the cake. Aguinaldo will be busting at the seams to get a look at us. Then just when that little monkey thinks he's won the big door prize, we get the drop on him and this war's over. I tell you men it's utter genius. We'll all be in the God damned history books!" Pleased with himself, Funston sat down heavily at the head of the table.

Captain Newton's grim forebodings had been justified. All the officers in the Kansas volunteers were aware of their ursine commander's self-approbation, and they'd learned to live with it. This time, Newton thought, he's gone over the edge. Funston was on a suicide mission, and he hated the idea of going with him, but knew he had no choice in the matter. The general wasn't taking an opinion survey. The plan was set, and he'd have to put on the best face he could." It's brilliant, sir," Newton said." The Trojan Horse in the Philippines."

Funston's eyes lit up." By God, that's a good one, Newton. Ha! Trojan Horse indeed!" The general slapped the table exultantly, and then leaned forward and whispered. "I've asked you to join me on this mission because you're men who can get things done and keep your mouths shut while you're about it. Lazaro is making lists of everything we'll need. Mitchell, I want you to handle the victuals. Captain Newton, you'll look after the weapons and uniforms. Everything is to be on board the steamship Vicksburg in Manila Bay in one week. Report only to me. I'll inform your superiors you're on special liaison for the rest of the month. Any questions?"

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1. Fagen arrives in the Philippines

2. White soldiers bring their prejudice with them

3. Fagen hears another side of the story

4. Dinner with Colonel Funston

5. Fagen's first taste of combat

6. Fagen meets Clarita

7. More than fair?

8. The water cure

9. Fagen gets his fortune told

10. Imperialism exposed

11. Sergeant Rivers speaks his mind

12. Genocide

13. Fagen meets El Presidente

14. Bad news comes to Fagen

15. Fate takes over

16. San Lazaro leper hospital

17. An offer Fagen can't refuse

18. Funston makes a plan

19. "Capitan" Fagen

20. Funston assembles his team

21. Morality, ethics and war

22. Jungle encounter

23. Commencement

24. Benevolent assimilation

25. Colonel Bloody Shirt pays a call

26. Fagen declares war on God

27. Major Baston tastes his own medicine

28. Funston on the march

29. Fagen goes home