In the line of fire: KAOS war stories

I ran into Dan Krass ’05 at about 10 p.m. on Jan. 15. I was walking into the hockey rink to watch a game of broomball and he claimed he had come to watch the hockey practice that was just coming to a close. He walked with an air of steady calm that I hadn’t noticed in previous conversations with him. There was suddenly something of the samurai about him.

“Do you watch hockey practices often?” I asked him, somehow intrigued by the easy way with which his stride had stepped into time with mine.

“No,” he said, “this is actually the first one I’ve been to.”

We walked into the rink and I talked for a while about a hockey game I had attended in Canada and how I had gotten to know a member of the Williams hockey team in my English class last semester. He listened, and then abruptly pulled me over to the side of the bleachers.

“I’m not actually here to watch the hockey,” he confessed, and then reached into his pocket and flashed his bright orange gun. “I’m being followed. They’re after me.”

“And how do you know I’m not one of them?” I asked coyly (having just seen Charlotte Gray and feeling like a spy myself).

“Because you’re totally oblivious,” he responded.

In an effort to show that I was not oblivious, I looked around the rink, and when I turned back, he was gone.

Dan was not, of course, a British spy in WWII, but a Williams student playing KAOS (Killing As an Organized Sport). The enigmatic “they” was the group almost as enigmatically known as “the Death Squad,” which goes after players who have exceeded the 72 hours allotted to kill their victims. Dan’s orange gun was plastic and shot plastic yellow bullets. But if KAOS was not really a game of life and death, it was certainly a game of honor.

I live in Sage E, the entry in between those of Gavin McCormick ’05 and Jocelyn Wang ’03. Both students joined Dan in the final KAOS blowout in Bronfman last Friday night. Jocelyn emerged as the champion (her door now says “Queen of KAOS”).

Days before, Gavin had been assigned to kill Jocelyn, and Jocelyn knew it. She never went anywhere without checking behind doors, and she traveled with an entourage of her freshmen. On the night of Jan. 15, I was standing by Jocelyn’s door, trying to get her to drive me to Stop & Shop. She was getting ready to leave when we heard a shriek from one of the floors above, and before Jocelyn could run for cover, Gavin came catapulting down the stairs and stood in the doorway pointing his gun at her. She lifted hers toward him and they stood there, looking at each other. They were in a deadlock because under KAOS rules no one can take a victim in the presence of more than one witness, and I was not alone.

The shriek had come, it turned out, from Beth Potter ’05 as a warning that Gavin, who had tried to use his ninja spy equipment to rappel from Beth’s fourth floor window, was on the loose. Had witnesses not been standing there, it is impossible to say whether Gavin would have killed Jocelyn first or Jocelyn would have “stunned” Gavin (if a target shoots his or her assassin first, the assassin is struck impotent for 24 hours).

The drama eventually came to an end and Gavin left with promises to return. Jocelyn said that she couldn’t figure out how to lock her window and prevent Gavin from sneaking in. She would have to sleep out that night. At the last minute, however, her fellow JA, Daniel Klasik ’03, managed to fix the window, and she went to sleep in her own bed.

Meanwhile Gavin, unaware that Jocelyn had been able to lock her window, plotted to break in and ambush her. He climbed up to her second story balcony in the middle of the night and, when he found the window locked, was unable to break in or get down. He finally surrendered and let her stun him so that he could get off the balcony. His life was still intact, but his honor, friend Sarah Johnson ’05 reported, had been sorely damaged.

KAOS. Some say it’s fun; others say it’s offensive (“that’s just the sort of thing that would be banned at my high school,” said one student). The name itself inspires contemplation: is war simple chaos or is it “killing as an organized sport?” Papa Adams, who “killed” four people, summed it up best.

“I don’t get involved with [my victims’] lives,” he said, “I’m just trying to pay the bills.”

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *