The chief radio operator nodded at the Caliph: the section commander was in position, ensuring that the barracked soldiers would be undeployable. A member of the Caliph's retinue presented him with a rifle: it was a purely ceremonial act that he had devised, but ceremony was the handmaiden of power. Accordingly, the Caliph would fire the first shot, using the very same rifle that a great independence fighter had used, fifty years ago, to assassinate the Dutch governor general. The rifle, a bolt-action Mauser M24, had been perfectly reconditioned and carefully zeroed. Unwrapped from the silk that had enfolded it, it gleamed like the sword of Saladin.
The Caliph found the number one guard in the weapon's scope and exhaled halfway so that the crosshairs settled on the center of the man's beribboned chest. He squeezed the trigger and intently watched the man's expressions--successively startled, anguished, dazed. On the man's upper right torso, a small oval of red bloomed, like a boutonniere.
Now the other members of the Caliph's detail followed suit, loosing a brief fusillade of well-aimed bullets. Marionettes released from their strings, the seven officers collapsed, tumbled, sprawled.
Despite himself, the Caliph laughed. These deaths had no dignity; they were as absurd as the tyranny they served. A tyranny that would now find itself on the defensive.
By sunrise, any free-floating representatives of the Anuran government that remained in the province would be well advised to shred their uniforms or else face dismemberment by hostile mobs.
Kenna would no longer be part of the illegitimate Republic of Anura. Kenna would belong to him.
It had begun.
The Caliph felt a surge of righteousness, and the clear piercing truth filled him like a light. The only solution to violence was more violence.
Many would die in the next several minutes, and they would be the fortunate ones. But there was one person in the Stone Palace who would not be killed--not yet. He was a special man, a man who had come to the island in an attempt to broker a peace. He was a powerful man, revered by millions, but an agent of neocolonialism nevertheless. So he had to be treated with care. This one--the great man, the "peacemaker", the man of all peoples, as the Western media insisted--would not be a casualty of a military skirmish. He would not be shot.
For him, the proper niceties would be observed.
And then he would be beheaded as the criminal he was.
The revolution would be nourished on his blood!
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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