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"Haunted Tank: "Devil's Chance!"": Early in the war, when the Haunted Tank was new and before Arch and Slim had been killed in action, an adventure brought them into conflict with with the Germans at the feet of the Sphinx near the Great Pyramids. The Haunted Tank had been captured, and its crew


Quote1 I'll fight you to the death with a tank, Colonel... but no one in his right mind would play that idiotic game! Quote2
-- Lt. Jeb Stuart



Appearing in Haunted Tank: "Devil's Chance!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Colonel Gunther Von Donner
  • German Infantry sergeant
  • German Artillery soldiers

Other Characters:

  • American citizens
  • Polish guerrillas
  • Areena
  • Egyptian Desert nomads

Locations:

Items:

  • German Luger pistol

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV tank
  • German Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 half-track

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "Devil's Chance!"

Early in the war, when the Haunted Tank was new and before Arch and Slim had been killed in action, an adventure brought them into conflict with with the Germans at the feet of the Sphinx near the Great Pyramids. The Haunted Tank had been captured, and its crew held under gunpoint. The German officer in command, Colonel Gunther Von Donner, is obsessed with gambling and games of chance, and has offered Lt. Jeb Stuart a chance at survival... a game of Russian Roulette!

Before the war, Von Donner was a high roller, challenging even the riskiest roulette tables at Monte Carlo. He played baccarat at Chamonix, and even dice in Reno, Nevada. He sees war as a game of chance. He offers once again the pistol for the game, informing Jeb that should he refuse, his crew will be executed on the spot. Jeb believes the colonel to be mad. Von Donner tells him of a time in Warsaw when, after a fierce barrage of tank fire, his squad had taken the citizen guerrillas prisoner. Normally they would be immediately executed for their insolence, but he picked out one woman from the crowd and offered her a chance. Holding out a deck of cards, he tells her to pick a card. She selects the three of hearts, and then the colonel orders for every third hostage to be taken out of the line. When that is complete, he informs the woman that she has lost and executed her and the remaining prisoners. Jeb tells him that his men are not guerrillas, and that they are protected by the Geneva Convention, but the colonel just laughs. They are playing by his rules now. He then orders his men to execute the Haunted Tank crew. Jeb stops him, and agrees to play his game.

The colonel sets the pistol down onto the table before him. The rules are simple. One spin, and you pull the trigger. If Jeb wins, both he and his crew go free. If he looses... Colonel Von Donner agrees to go first. He spins, holds the pistol to his head, and pulls the trigger. Only the click of the hammer is heard. He then hands the pistol over to Jeb. As Jeb places the pistol against his head, he begins to remember back to how he got into this mess in the first place. They were on a mission to find Rommel's hidden stash of fuel in the desert. Their mission was to search and destroy. A cryptic appearance by Jeb's ancestor General J.E.B. Stuart brought them to the feet of the Sphinx. There they find a Panzer tank firing on a group of desert nomads as target practice. Arch quickly loads the cannon, while Rick lines his shot. They fire, taking out the German tank. One of the nomads is still alive, a woman by the name of Areena. Jeb offers the woman a ride back to safety, and she thanks him by offering her life to him until the debt can be repaid. As night falls and the crew bunk down for the night, the woman offers herself to Jeb, who politely refuses, much to the others disbelief. She tells Jeb that her caravan was attacked when they approached a pyramid they had never seen before. Jeb then suddenly jumps up and orders the others back onto the tank. Under the direction of Areena, Slim drives the tank to the same pyramid where they were attacked. They reach the pyramid and, spotting the German tank guards, open fire onto the enemy. Jeb's hunch was right. The pyramid is fake, used to hide the German fuel depot. Their fire catches the pyramid on fire, and ignites the fuel within in a tremendous explosion. But a halftrack comes from behind the group and open fires onto Jeb and his men. Areena is killed trying to protect Jeb from the rain of bullets, giving her life and repaying her debt to him. The Germans take the four Americans prisoner.

Returning his attention back to the present. Jeb's finger tightens on the trigger of the pistol he holds to his head. A click, but no shot. Jeb drops the gun back onto the table, pleading with Colonel Von Donner to stop the insane game. The colonel refuses. There must be a winner. He picks up the pistol and holds it to his head again. This time his luck runs out. A shot, and the colonel falls dead to the ground. Jeb and the others take the chance to overpower the German soldiers holding them prisoner while they are distracted. They are easily defeated. Before leaving, Jeb looks back one last time at the colonel's body. It was a devil's chance, and only a fool tempts fate.

Appearing in Mercenaries: "The Deadly Triangle"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Ania
  • Rhee, the Holy Man

Antagonists:

  • Cambodian street thugs
  • Unnamed Drug Runner
  • Cambodian River pirates

Other Characters:

  • Cambodian citizens

Locations:

Items:

  • Automatic machine pistol
  • Cocaine
  • Dynamite
  • Sacred Golden Cobra idol

Vehicles:

  • Grumman Albatross seaplane
  • Pirate riverboat
  • Canoe

Synopsis for Mercenaries: "The Deadly Triangle"

The Mercenaries, Gordon, Horst and Prince, have blended into the crowd in the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia, hiding from their pursuers in the French Foreign Legion. While looking for a means to make some money, they come across a group of white men being attacked by thugs with knives on the street. Prince is against helping the men, seeing no monetary gain, Horst and Gordon leap to their defense. The thugs seem to have the upper hand against the two mercenaries, but finally Prince joins the fight and tips the odds in their favor. The three thugs are killed, and one of their victims has survived, although badly wounded. The man asks the Mercenaries to get him to his seaplane in the river, and offers the guys a thousand dollars a week to act as his bodyguards. The Mercenaries agree, reaching the plane just as a squad of Cambodian troops arrive. They take off into the air before the soldiers can get them.

On the plane, the three begin to look through the cargo the man is carrying. They find loads of automatic weapons and grenades, as well as little packages of cocaine. When they ask the man about the stash, he tells them that he supplies the guns to terrorist organizations all around the world, including the Meiner Badoff Gang in Germany and the Red Front in Italy and Japan, as well as rebels in Nicaragua. When Prince asks him about the cocaine, he tells them that America is his biggest market. The Mercenaries want nothing to do with his "business", and the man turns on them with a machine pistol and orders them off his plane... without parachutes. The man is distracted by the Mercenaries, and doesn't realize that the plane is being targeted below by river pirates. They fire at the plane, hitting it and causing it to spiral out of control. Gordon tries to bring the plane back under control, managing to glide it in for a hard landing on the river. The Mercenaries are knocked unconscious by the crash, and the pirates begin to board the plane. However, before they are able to get inside, a wad of dynamite is thrown by a mysterious arrival at the pirates' boat. They explode, destroying the boat and causing the plane to sink into the river.

The water bring the three Mercenaries back to consciousness. As they emerge from the river, they discover their mysterious savior is a beautiful Cambodian woman named Ania, High Priestess of the god Lokesvara. She explains that every day a holy man has sent her to the river to await their coming. The three don't question, and climb aboard her boat as they begin the journey through the jungle towards the Temple of Angkor Thom. Upon arriving, they are brought before Rhee, the Holy Man and guardian of the temple. He tells them of the evil and destruction the river pirates bring to their lands, murdering their farmers when they disobeyed their orders to grow cocoa leaves to make into cocaine and poppy for opium. Prince tells the Holy Man that guns are more effective against the pirates than his god. The Holy man orders them to look up at the Buddha statue, where they watch as the golden cobra in its hand glows and then vanishes from sight. The Holy Man has places the image of the golden cobra in their minds, telling them that it was stolen by looters in 1489, but last year a villager had come forth with a map that can lead them to where the treasure is buried. He tells them that they will be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams, which persuades them to agree to go looking for the treasure. But just as they begin to leave, they get word that invaders are approaching the temple...

Appearing in "D (For Death) Ration"

Featured Characters:

  • Corporal Francois Bonami

Antagonists:

  • Major Lintz
  • German Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • American prisoners

Locations:

Items:

  • Toadstools

Synopsis for "D (For Death) Ration"

In the barracks of a German Stalag, two German soldiers enter and demand to know which one of the prisoners is Corporal Francois Bonami. As they take him away, the other soldiers are puzzled by why he has been chosen.

In the quarters of the camp commandant, Bonami is brought before Major Lintz. Lintz has been reading the interview records, and has discovered that Bonami is a world famous chef. The major has heard of all the great dishes that Bonami has created, and now appoints him to fix his meals from now on so that he can have the great dishes as well. Bonami agrees, and tells the major that he will start with preparing his greatest dish, Champignons Bonami.

That night, Bonami is preparing his dish, under guard. Once finished, he presents it to Major Lintz, who can not wait to taste the famous chef's work. But while eating it, the major begins to get dizzy and, unable to breath, passes out onto the floor. Bonami's plan has worked. He snatches the keys from Lintz's pocket and releases the other prisoners. But before they can get too far, the alert is sounded over the speakers. The prisoners had first raided the arsinal, and shoot the soldiers rushing out to see what is happening. Once the prisoners have escaped into the woods, they ask how Bonami was able to poison the major without any one knowing. He explains that his dish, Champignon, is made with mushrooms, and that he was able to collect as many poisonous toadstool mushrooms as he could find while working out in the field. The other prisoners tell him that he should open his own restaurant after the war, but please... no mushrooms for them!

Appearing in Haunted Tank: "The Invisible Medals"

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • German Infantry soldiers
  • German pilot

Other Characters:

  • American Artillery captain "Skipper"
  • French refugees
  • French villagers

Locations:

Items:

  • Purple Heart medals
  • M1 grenade

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane
  • German Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 half-track
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV tank
  • American Mark VIII "International Tank" AFV

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "The Invisible Medals"

At headquarters, Skipper hands over a box full of various medals and decorations for those soldiers who have won them with their bravery and blood. He gives Lt. Stuart his orders, to histle them over to Division H.Q. so the general can present the awards to their owners. Stuart climbs aboard the Haunted Tank, and Rick, Gus, and Sgt. Craig look over the different medals within the box. They wonder which one's they'll get, as they've given their own blood and sweat during the war.

On the trail, Lt. Stuart ponders which event could have earned him a medal. He remembers back to a time when he picked up a group of refugees on the road to Soissons, who were under attack by a German plane buzzing above. The plane continued to strafe the refugees and the little tank, trying to get the tank out of the way so it could finish the job on the refugees. Stuart stayed firm, unloading his MG into the plane as it neared them. Bullets zipped past the lieutenant within inches, but finally he was able to get a killing shot and sending the plane into a fiery death. He saved the lives of the refugees, which should surely have earned him one of the medals.

Down below, Gus is also wondering about which event could have earned his own medal. He thinks back to a little stone church. The town was under attack by German forces, and Gus burst into the church to warn the town folks to run to safety. But no of them civilians move, and as the Germans enter they shoot down the priest. The priest asks Gus to protect his flock, before dying in his arms. Gus rushes out of the church just as a German half-track approaches. He fires his machine gun, but his hit in the arm by enemy fire. Reaching for a grenade, he lobs it with his good arm right into the half-track, destroying it. Gus scoffs at the idea, giving him a medal for killing in a sacred place like a church.

Rick is also thinking, and comes to the conclusion that his medal must be from his actions on the Oise River. The Haunted Tank was crossing a shallow spot in the river when a shell came out of nowhere. The concussion knocked them all out. Rick regained consciousness first, and looked out to see a Panzer tank coming right at them to finish the kill. With blood pouring into his eyes, he managed to get a sight on the approaching tank and fire a shot, destroying the Panzer and saving himself and the rest of his crew. Rick can't wait to get his medal for bravery, hoping to get both a heroes parade and a girl named Wanda back home.

Sgt. Craig believes he is too new to the Haunted Tank to be up for a medal, but that he could be getting one for his actions at Belleau Woods in 1917 during World War One. German machine gun fire had the infantry pinned down, and Craig, in charge of an old Mark VIII tank moves in to take out the nest. A direct hit on the side of their tank sets them on fire and killed everyone inside except for Craig, who continues on to destroy the machine gun and free the infantry.

Later, after they arrive at Division Headquarters, Lt. Stuart hands over the box of medals to the general's staff. The Haunted Tank crew are expecting a front seat at the ceremony, but they are informed that they have a new mission and must return to their own base immediately. The crew is angry and disappointed, but Lt. Stuart explains that every soldier who has ever been in combat deserves a medal. Even if it's invisible, they know it's there. The crew mount up and the Haunted Tank rolls off to their next mission.

Notes

  • The first story, "Devil's Chance", is a flashback story from early in the war during the time the Haunted Tank spent in the desert in Africa, before the deaths of crewmen Arch Asher and Slim Stryker.
  • The second story, "The Deadly Triangle" featuring the Mercenaries, continues next issue and concludes in issue 263.

Trivia

  • In this issue's "Let's Make Tracks" letter page, editor Murray Boltinoff informs the readers of the U.S. Army's intentions to replace the tried and trusted Army Jeep with a bigger, higher-mobility, and more multi-purpose vehicle known as a "Hummer". A small illustration of the Hummer by Sam Glanzman is included.



See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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