And so the Caliph kept vigil with his special detail, on a carefully chosen mountainous perch. The ground was hard and wet beneath his thin-soled boots, but the Stone Palace--or, more precisely, its main entrance--glowed before him. The east wall was a vast expanse of limestone, its weathered stones and wide, freshly painted gate bathed in lights that were sunk into the ground every few feet. It shimmered. It beckoned.
"You or your followers may die tonight," the Caliph had told the members of his command hours before. "If so, your martyrdom will be remembered-- always! Your children and your parents will be sanctified by their connection to you. Shrines will be built to your memory! Pilgrims will travel to the site of your birth! You will be remembered and venerated, always, as among the fathers of our nation."
They were individuals of faith, fervor, and courage, whom the West was pleased to scorn as terrorists. Terrorists! For the West, the ultimate source of terror in the world, this term was a cynical convenience. The Caliph despised the Anuran tyrants, but he hated with a pure hate the Westerners who made their rule possible. The Anurans at least understood that there was a price to be paid for their usurpation of power; the rebels had repeatedly brought that lesson home, written it with blood. But the Westerners were accustomed to acting with impunity. Perhaps that would change.
Now the Caliph looked at the hillside around him and felt hope--not merely for himself and his followers but for the island itself. Anura. Once it had taken back its own destiny, what would it not be capable of? The very rocks and trees and vine-draped hillocks seemed to urge him on.
Mother Anura would vindicate her protectors.
Centuries ago, visitors had to resort to the cadence of poetry in order to evoke the beauty of its flora and fauna. Soon colonialism, fueled by envy and avarice, would impose its grim logic: what was ravishing would be ravished, the captivating made captive. Anura became a prize for which the great maritime empires of the West would contend. Battlements rose above the spice-tree groves; cannonballs nestled on the beaches among the conch shells. The West brought bloodshed to the island and it took root there, spreading across the landscape like a toxic weed, nourished on injustice.
What did they do to you, Mother Anura?
Over tea and canapes, Western diplomats drew lines that would bring tumult to the lives of millions, treating the atlas of the world like a child's Etch-A-Sketch.
Independence, they had called it! It was one of the great lies of the twentieth century. The regime itself amounted to an act of violence against the Kagama people, for which the only remedy was more violence. Every time a suicide bomber took out a Hindu government minister, the Western media pontificated about "senseless killings", but the Caliph and his soldiers knew that nothing made more sense. The most widely publicized wave of bombings--taking out ostensibly civilian targets in the capital city, Caligo--had been masterminded by the Caliph himself. The vans were rendered invisible, for all intents, by the forged decals of a ubiquitous international courier and freight service. Such a simple deception! Packed with diesel-soaked nitrate fertilizer, the vans delivered only a cargo of death. In the past decade, this wave of bombings was what aroused the greatest condemnation around the world--which was an odd hypocrisy, for it merely brought the war home to the warmongers.
Now the chief radio operator whispered in the Caliph's ear. The Kaffra base had been destroyed, its communications infrastructure dismantled. Even if they managed to get the word out, the guards at the Stone Palace had no hope for backup. Thirty seconds later, the radio operator had yet another message to convey: confirmation that a second army base had been reclaimed by the people. A second thoroughfare was now theirs. The Caliph felt his spine begin to tingle. Within hours, the entire province of Kenna would be wrested from a despotic death grip. The shift of power would begin. National liberation would glimmer over the horizon with the sun.
The Janson Directive. Copyright 2002 by Myn Pyn LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews Reproduced by permission of the publisher, St Martin's Press.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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