In the lobby of the Carlton, Paladin is playing chess against a woman. As she checks him, Hey Boy comes over and tells Paladin that a major wants to see him. The woman, Madam L, figures that Paladin is making an excuse to leave and says that he's not going to leave until their game is finished and she collects her money. Madam L threatens to call the police if Paladin leaves, and Paladin checkmates her. He goes over to the man, who says that he's Major Leonard Ferber with Military Intelligence. Once Paladin identifies himself, they go up to Paladin's suite to talk.
Once they're alone, Ferber says that he wants to hire Paladin to go after Colonel Benjamin Nunez. Paladin served with Benjamin in the Civil War and knows of the man as a soldier who hates the Army. Ferber explains that Benjamin has an Apache wife. When he was away on business, a couple of drunk sergeants raped the wife, Serafina. When Benjamin came back, he rode to the post hospital, got Serafina, and rode off with her. Now Benjamin is leading an Apache uprising against the Army, organizing them like an organized army. When they sent men to meet with an Apache chief, Benjamin sent them back in white flags. Paladin figures that Ferber came to him if he has to kill Benjamin. Paladin isn't interested, saying that he's not an assassin. Ferber tells him that if he can bring back Benjamin for trial, he's welcome to do so and Paladin accepts.
Later, Paladin rides to the site of a recent Indian attack. As he checks the site, an Indian scout rides up and Paladin pulls him off his horse. He has the scout bury the bodies and speaks a brief eulogy, and then tells the Indian in Apache that they're going to Benjamin. Paladin ties the scout up, puts him on a horse, and they ride off. Paladin stops to rest and the scout slips away. The scout goes to a cliff and Paladin warns him to stop, but the scout jumps to his death.
Paladin rides on and comes to a fort. As he approaches on foot, Serafina shoots at him and Paladin asks to speak to Benjamin. Serafina lets him approach once she has his gun belt. Once inside, Benjamin holds Paladin at gunpoint and Paladin reminds him that they were on patrol together once. Benjamin figures that Paladin was hounded out of the army, figuring that no one can leave, and Benjamin figures that the army sent Paladin to spy on him. Paladin says that Benjamin will never get justice by leading the Apache, and Benjamin says that he'll write his own verdict of justice. He insists that the Apache some of his own back, and tells Paladin that he's not going back.
A day later, Paladin asks Benjamin how long it took him to kill the first two emissaries. Benjamin says that he never saw the other two men and hates his former commander, and Serafina realizes that Benjamin left the Army because he hates his people rather than loves the Apache. Paladin points out that Benjamin had a reputation for not risking lives, and figures that Serafina's rape was just an excuse for him to quit when he didn't get the recognition and respect he wanted. Benjamin insists that there was no hope for a fighting man in the cesspool of politics, and Paladin says that the Apache are using Benjamin to learn Army tactics. He says that Benjamin is the Apache's prisoner.
Apache arrive outside, and Paladin describes what the Apaches will do to him. Benjamin insists that he is their leader and they won't do the same to him, and with Serafina ties Paladin to his post. Serafina's brother comes in and says that they found the scout that Paladin supposedly killed. When Serafina threatens him with her knife, and Paladin says that she'll use the knife on Benjamin eventually.
The brother prepares to kill Paladin, but Benjamin says that Paladin is a prisoner and he'll question him to learn what the Army has planned before the Apache kill Paladin. Once the brother leaves, Paladin says that Benjamin can save his life by doing to him what the warriors would have done. Serafina asks her husband if he's going to let Paladin live, and Benjamin calls her a bloody savage. He laughs at the thought of his former commander, Fremont, now running for President, and points out that the Confederates wiped out his men while he's leading an Apache gang.
Hours later, Benjamin dons his Army uniform and cuts Paladin free. He says that Serafina went back to his people, and he didn't kill Paladin because he doesn't want the Apache's trust anymore. Benjamin explains that he could have played the game and stayed with the Army, marrying a social girl. He asks Paladin if the Army will take him back after his court-martial, and Paladin says that they might.
As the two men walk back, they discover that the Apache have cut them off. Serafina is with the warriors, and Benjamin wants to fight them head on. Paladin stops him, warning that he won't be able to help him. Disgusted, Benjamin knocks him away and walks down to the warriors. He orders them to go back, accusing them of mutiny and calling them savages. Benjamin goes to Serafina and accuses her of betraying him, and prepares to shoot her. The brother shoots him in the chest with arrows, and the Apache shoot Paladin in the shoulder as he tries to stop them.
The warrior put Benjamin's body on a horse. Serafina comes over and tosses Benjamin cavalry sword and uniform coat at Paladin, and tells him to take that part of her husband back. Paladin rides back to Ferber and gives him Benjamin's things, and tells the major to tell them that Benjamin died in the uniform of an American officer. When Ferber asks Paladin about his wages, Paladin tells him to use them for a tombstone for Ferber.
Written by Gadfly on Sep 16, 2018