Earlier, Doc Foster asked Danes: “hey. Prof, can you compose a sentence with the words 'happenchance', 'giant-killer', 'jeopardize' and 'hypnagogic' in it?” and the Professor chuckled, “you just did!” which got a laugh from the medic, “funny, but seriously, I've been racking my brains all morning, whyn't you have a go?” so Danes stretched his arms and legs, then put his hands behind his head and said: “okay, how about -
'she was only a happenchance giant-killer, with rosy cheeks and golden locks,
But the giant's hypnagogic daydreams jeopardized his chances of making a clean getaway!'
and Foster gave him a high-five, “good one, sir, pretty neat.” and poured him a measure of Bourbon from the case that had been included in the latest supply-drop; now they were sitting in the big Cavern, where Sir Clement Dane had first woken from his dazed stupor, first encountered the platoon of American soldiers, first learned that he had inadvertently come into a forward base in Vietnam at the height of the War; they were drinking rather good coffee, fortified with the Bourbon, and smoking Lucky Strikes, all of which had just been hauled in from the placement high above; he asked Captain Dick Turpin about the topography of the hill, or, rather, he had described the topography of The Eildon Hills, and told the Captain and his non-coms – a battle hardened Sergeant and a couple of Corporals, with 'Doc' Foster alongside; he had told them of his own reasons for travelling to the place he described, what he knew from his own invitation: three individuals from the past who had somehow popped out of the rocks and told their stories to the police and renowned historians who, along with Forensic Specialists from the Department based at Heriot Watt had verified their stories, using DNA screenings, and even fingerprints found on old documents at the National Library and Abbotsford House; his listeners were wide-eyed, amazed, yet willing to accept his account at face value; Turpin had confirmed his descriptions of the Hills, and also told him of the Platoon's arrival, in a tank, with additional soldiers hanging on to the back, picked up en route; and about the effects of the anti-tank mine which had disabled the machine, the fire-fight which had pursued their race for cover, and how they had managed to find it among the gorse which grew thickly and half-hid the entrance; and their strange discovery of four comatose western men, apparently hospitalised in the depths, but without any attendant personnel; and the almost unbelievable 'coincidence' of Dane's recognition of one of them, which matched the personal effects which had come from the man's pockets; “I don't believe in coincidence,” said the captain, “me neither.” said the medic, “there's always a connection, if you look hard enough,” and Dane was grateful for the young man's confirmation; Captain Turpin looked levelly at Dane: “so, Prof, what would you do? walk out in broad daylight and just hope to hell you're right, and not walking into the sights of a VC sniper? cos I can't risk putting any of my men into that scenario, there still has to be the possibility that either you are just wrong, or it's a trap and you are part of it – I don't know why or how; well the why is easy if it's a trap – the VC would love to parade us in Hanoi in front of TV cameras and you can't deny that,” and despite himself, Dane couldn't fault the young officer's logic, was also impressed by his protectiveness towards the men he commanded; Dane had been a young subaltern in the Intelligence service, taken out of University in the lead-up to D-Day, and had seen young men of his own age blown to bits as they crawled and ran and fell on the Normandy Beaches, necessary sacrifices which enabled the successful landings to begin the Allies' counter-invasion and the start of the Nazi's fall; he had spent time in Berlin in the aftermath of the war, interviewing and de-briefing captured or surrendered enemy officers, administrators and others whose insistence that they 'were only following orders, as any soldier must' fell on deaf ears, for he had seen the Death Camps and heard first-hand stories of the bleakest inhumanity that these apologists then tried to minimise as mere administrative procedures, commanded by their superiors;
no, he could not fault Captain Turpin, so what, then, did he want? and then he asked what he probably should have asked earlier: “how did you know about the Cairn where your supplies could be found?” and it was Turpin's turn to feel slightly foolish, “it was the first radio signal we received here, well the last, too, the only one before something happened to our equipment, it just said that supplies would be dropped every third night, for pick-up under cover of darkness, hidden in a cairn, and gave the co-ordinates: 548322,” and Dane asked the obvious question: “is that in Vietnam?” and Turpin looked to his Sergeant, who said bluntly: “maybe yes, maybe no, it's classified information but it pretty much tallies with this location on our compasses, but you gotta remember, electro-magnetic forces in mountains can mean a wild variation from the norm. our compasses were spinnin' like tops when we woke up here . . . .” Dane looked him in the eye: “you woke up here?” and the Sergeant shrugged, “we'd been runnin' hell for leather, with explosions on all sides and kinda fell into this cave, everyone was roasted and we all passed out, least everyone agrees that's what happened, and then we got woke up with the radio barkin' and that was our last message, an' the compasses eventually settled and everythin', checked out, includin' the heap of stones where we found the first cache,” and Dane nodded, “and you've been here ever since?” and this time it was the three men who nodded, and Dane continued: “the grid reference is for The North Eildon – we have categories for Hills and Mountains in Scotland: the highest are called Munros, then we have Corbetts, lots of people work their way through the list, 'bagging' them, a bit like Trainspotters, but more active, and the third category, which The Eildons come into are called Marilyns, just a bit of fun really, you know, a play on words, Marilyns and Munros, like Marilyn Monroe, anyway, that's not relevant: I can't confirm the date, cos time and space seem to stretch and warp in these Hills, but I think I'm on 'Safe Ground' if I extend to you the hand of friendship and welcome you to Bonnie Scotland,” which was when the dormant volcano seemed to give a cough, and the whole world exploded!