All That Is In The Heavens [Part 12]: Hero Is Just A Word

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Captain Yasin Rahman is hauled in entrance of a panel of officers for a debriefing, and is given a stunning mission.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s different tales.

This is a multi-chapter novel.  Previous Chapters:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3| Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11

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LOCATION: PERSEUS ARM OF THE MILKY WAY GALAXY

YEAR: 4097 HIJRI – 565 UNITED ARMY CALENDAR

United Army Squad 3690 of the UA Starburst, so as of rank:

  1. Yasin “Cutter” Rahman – Captain. Combat technique grasp.
  2. Weili Menco Zhang – Corporal. Xeno-geographer. Calm and funky in battle. Carries a lasgun and a tekpi (trident).
  3. Ammar Abuzaid – Master Sergeant. Botanist and fight coach. Oldest member of the squad. Quran hafedh.
  4. Bilal Mustafa – Fleet Officer. Xenobiologist, married to Rowaida.
  5. Rowaida Ali – Fleet Officer. Ship’s pilot, mechanic and fabricator, married to Bilal.
  6. Samir “Smasher” Sufyan – Specialist. Drone tech and explosives professional. Carries an ax. Multiple awards for valor, but in addition repeated misconduct violations.
  7. Ami Abdulghaffar – Specialist. Medic and psychotherapist.
  8. Amina Quraishi – Private First Class. Computer tech and AI diagnostics. Hijabi. Silat professional. Fearless.
  9. Hisham – Private. Grenadier, plus provides & requisitions.
  10. Summer – Private. Riflecarrier and meals providers.
  11. Tarek – Private. Riflecarrier and janitorial. 18 years outdated.

* * *

Excerpt from The Life and Death of Yasin Rahman, By Dr. Ami Abdulghaffar:

What was I, the creator, to Yasin Rahman? So typically we are able to solely guess what emotions and ideas others harbor within the silent halls of their hearts. We hope, suppose, and conjecture. We depend on instinct, clues, phrases, and physique language. But we by no means really know.

This was not true within the case of myself and Rahman. Like Rahman, I used to be Transformed. I knew what Rahman thought and felt. So I converse with ‘ilm al-yaqeen, the knowledge of certainty. To be more accurate, if I do not know the actual, underlying reality of things – that is Allah’s realm – I do know what Rahman believed, as certainly as I do know that angels encompass us from the earth to the heavens.

I say this as a result of individuals generally misinform themselves. Even an empath can solely inform you whether or not or not an individual believes his personal phrases.

We people have begun to unravel the mysteries of spacetime, and have settled tons of of worlds. But the secrets and techniques of affection have but to unfold, regardless of how we philosophize and wax poetic.

I consider {that a} man can love multiple girl, and vice versa. It’s a matter of diploma, or a matter of various flavors and the depth of taste, and even of straightforward timing. A seed of affection which will have flourished at one time, below a sure solar, would possibly by no means sprout in different circumstances, or would possibly emerge pale and stunted. A person meets a girl when he’s nineteen years outdated, falls in love, and marries her. But let the identical man meet the identical girl when he’s thirty, and perhaps the spark by no means catches. Timing won’t be all the things, however it’s as huge as Besar.

Also, not all love is identical. If I say that Yasin Rahman liked me, many will accuse me of aggrandizing my position in his life for the sake of celeb. I might say that he and I generally argued, or that he sometimes appeared to disapprove of my important character, or that we have been associates in the way in which that the ocean and the seaside are associates, coming collectively and shifting aside. All this stuff are true. Make of this what you’ll, expensive reader.

I imply no disrespect to Weili Menco Zhang, who was my true pal. Love is a broad and imprecise phrase, and encompasses many issues.

Rahman used to say that the important thing to his extraordinary success in fight was that he utilized ways in accordance with how issues really have been, reasonably than how he wished them to be. When the scenario on the bottom – or within the heavens – modified, his plan modified accordingly. He by no means tried to pressure occasions to comply with a predetermined path.

The identical is true for love. It is what it really is, not what we want it to be. We can’t pressure it to adapt to our needs. We can solely adapt ourselves to actuality. As they are saying in doubleball, it’s a must to carry the ball you’re given. That is all I’ve to say about that.

* * *

Paralyzed

Rahman dismounted the large transport hovercar, thanking the motive force for the journey and the granola bar. He stood in entrance of a set of hardwood doorways that have been wider than doubleball goalposts. The doorways have been carved with heroic and garish scenes of human troopers killing crabs. One scene particularly pictured a naked chested man holding two laser pistols, surrounded by a sea of crabs. It reminded Rahman of Lamya Jamshad, She was a real-life hero who’d carried out the very same factor again on the queenship, holding off a military of crabs lengthy sufficient for her squadmates to flee. She’d given up her life within the course of. Would her picture be carved on a set of doorways someplace?

He couldn’t think about the price of these doorways. So a lot wooden – a scarce commodity already – and on a highliner, no much less. Furthermore, spaceships usually went to extremes to attenuate weight. The extravagant ponderousness of those doorways spoke to the ability of the lads behind them.

Rahman reached for the heavy brass deal with – and his arm froze. It wasn’t that he selected to cease shifting. His arm merely wouldn’t transfer. It hung within the air like a model’s arm. He tried pulling it again. Nothing. Was he having a coronary heart assault or stroke? But there was no ache or numbness. He simply couldn’t transfer his arm.

His coronary heart thudded in his chest, and sweat broke out on his brow as he strained. He took two steps again from the door, considering that perhaps one thing on the door was inflicting…  The thought was left unfinished, because it made no sense. He reached out along with his left arm, which labored effectively sufficient, and tried to tug the precise arm again, however the precise arm was as inflexible as plasteel.

The doorways swung open easily. Two hulking Caucasian troopers in blue gown uniforms with brass buttons stood simply inside. Both saluted him. The uniforms have been pressed and spotless, and smelled of lemon-scented laundry detergent. Rahman’s eyes have been huge. What would he do?

Just like that, the paralysis was gone. Shaking barely, he saluted the lads with the previously frozen hand, and strode into the chamber. Whatever had occurred along with his arm have to be associated to the current surgical procedure. A lingering aspect impact of the anesthesia, perhaps.

UA Alpha

UA Alpha, planet sized cityThe room was big, and featured picket flooring – extra wooden! His footsteps appeared to echo within the silence of the room. To his left, a large window that ought to have seemed out onto area, primarily based on the placement of this chamber, as a substitute displayed the very real-looking nightscape of what Rahman acknowledged as UA Alpha. He’d by no means been there, however because the headquarters of the UA, its skyline was typically featured in navy brochures and propaganda.

It was a holocast, after all. The actual UA Alpha was tons of of sunshine years from right here.

UA Alpha, Rahman knew, was a big moon that orbited an agricultural planet on the outer fringe of the Orion arm. Like Besar, it had gravity, ambiance and water, and was totally constructed up, consisting of a single unbroken and closely fortified metropolis that coated each inch of the moon’s floor. The picture seemed that he was wanting down upon the town from a penthouse house. He noticed the streaming lights of hover visitors and air ships, and one million lit home windows. But all the things appeared to be shifting far too quick.

“It’s in real time,” a voice mentioned, drawling the phrase “time” in order that it got here out, tahhm. “Or delayed real-tahhm, anyway.”

Two Colonels and a General

In the middle of the room, at a reasonably plain wanting desk, sat three excessive rating officers. In the middle was a person that Rahman immediately acknowledged as General Aurangzeb. He needed to be in his 70’s by now. He was tall, and as thick-chested as a papaya, and regardless of his Persian title he was white, with pale pores and skin and a freckled complexion, meaty arms and arms, and white hair lower near the scalp. His tooth have been white, and his eyes blue. It was a face Rahman had seen in a thousand holocasts, delivering “state of the war” talks, awarding medals to troopers, and shaking arms with heads of planets.

On Aurangzeb’s proper sat a slender feminine colonel with black pores and skin, brief pure hair, and skinny, sculpted limbs. She may need been fifty years outdated. She had a wan, bored look to her, however Rahman acknowledged one thing in her posture that spoke of fight expertise. Numerous it, he thought. Her eyes flicked to check him, then seemed away, at nothing particularly.

To the left of Aurangzeb was a muscular younger Malay colonel. No greater than 45 years outdated, maybe. Rahman didn’t know him, however his options have been traditional Malay. He might have handed for one among Rahman’s personal uncles on his mom’s aspect, if not for the burn scar that disfigured one total aspect of his face. How unusual. Thirty minutes in an autodoc might restore that scar.

Two colonels and a common. SubhanAllah. You’d suppose he was a head of planet, for sky’s sake. Rahman assumed heart place, about two meters in entrance of Aurangzeb, and snapped a pointy salute.

Live Feed

“At ease,” Aurangzeb mentioned. His accent was rolling and gradual, like a rancher’s. “I’m General Aurangzeb. With me are Colonel Bakri” – he indicated the Malay officer – and Colonel Sani.”

Rahman nodded. “Sirs.”

Aurangzeb nodded to the viewscreen. “Like ah was sayin’, It’s not a holoscreen. It’s a lahve feed from UA Alpha. Because we’re movin’ at FTL, tahm passes much faster there. That’s why ever’thang looks accelerated. It’s a reminder that we can’t waste a moment. Ever’ second that we spend out heah, our families grow older and our worlds change. Our mission is to end this heah war as quick as possible, by any means necessary. You helped to do that.”

“Sir?” Rahman stood along with his ft at shoulder width and arms clasped behind his again.

“Don’t be modest. You’re the hee-ro of Breena Fahv. Crap on a crab, son, you destroyed a queenship with a fox fighter! That’s nevah been done.”

Something should have confirmed on Rahman’s face, some facet of apathy or bitterness, as a result of the overall mentioned, “What is it? Speak your mind, son. We heah are in your debt.”

Hero Is a Word

UA carrier spaceship

Rahman studied the three faces earlier than him. He needs to be in awe. He needs to be nervous or subdued. But he was solely drained. The three earlier than him weren’t gods. They have been two males and a girl. He doubted that any of them had seen as a lot dying as he had.

“Hero is just a word,” he mentioned lastly. “It means nothing. On the battlefield you make decisions in the moment. You try to keep your people alive, that’s the main thing, and if that means destroying the enemy then that’s what you do. No thought about anything but what’s before you. You do your best. If you analyze my actions by that standard, then I failed. More than half my squad are dead. I failed to control one of my own men, resulting in more needless death. If a hero is supposed to be fearless then again I failed, because I was terrified at times, as I often am in battle. If there’s anything to be said for me it’s that I don’t surrender and I don’t stop fighting, no matter what. Like any good soldier. My mother once told me to be the man Allah intended me to be. I don’t know who or what that is, but the process of trying to find out – the act of walking the path, even when the path is in the stinking hold of a crab queenship – is what matters. That, and the survival of my crew. I don’t care about your statistics or labels, I don’t even care about the war. I’m sick of it all. Throw me out of the UA if you want, court martial me, put me in the brig.”

When he was carried out, he stood inventory nonetheless in astonishment at his personal phrases. He hadn’t meant to say all that. But it was true. He didn’t care anymore.

The panel watched him in silence. The Malay officer was frowning, the African colonel had a slight smile on her face, and Aurangzeb studied Rahman from below lowered brows, tapping a finger on the desk.

When Aurangzeb seemed up, there was a change in his demeanor. “Are you done?” There was a pointy edge to his voice. Rahman remembered Abuzaid’s phrases. A harmful man. Those who oppose him have a manner of disappearing…

“Well… Yes, sir.”

“You might be the most honest man ah’ve eveh met. I don’t know if that’s a good thang or a bad one, but I’ll tell you this. I’d promote you to colonel if I could. From now on, though, show some respect. We three heah have a hunnet and fifty yeahs of collective war experience. Nothing you have said is new to us.”

Debrief

The African girl, Colonel Sani, spoke for the primary time. “Tell us in your own words what happened in the battle. Take us through from your decision to ram the queenship.”

This was what Rahman had anticipated. Back on acquainted floor, he spoke shortly however clearly, detailing his thought processes and the actions he’d taken, leaving out solely the truth that he’d downloaded SAI into his personal mind drive. He genuinely feared the results of showing that.

He described the ramming of the queenship, the battle that ensued, and the push to the pyramid, together with Smasher Sufyan’s repeated disobedience of orders. It won’t make Rahman look good that he couldn’t management his personal man, however he didn’t care. He wanted the man gone.

Satria Malay

When he was carried out, Aurangzeb nodded. “A li’l question for ya. I understand that one of your men sometimes says a certain thang before going into battle. Sergeant…” He turned to Colonel Sani. “What was his name?”

“Ammar Abuzaid.”

“Rahht, that one. Tell me about that.”

Rahman sensed the hidden landmine. He had warned Abuzaid that his fixed use of that ayah would annoy command, however he’d by no means thought it might come to the eye of somebody as highly effective as General Aurangzeb. Abuzaid was like household to him. He might no extra betray him than he might lower out his personal coronary heart.

“He says Satria Malay.”

Aurangzeb seemed to Colonel Bakri, who translated. “Malay heroes. A common war cry.”

Aurangzeb studied Rahman with a face as flat and unreadable as a plasteel wall. “What else does he say?”

“He says Satria Malay,” Rahman repeated. “That’s what he says. Period.”

Requests

“Watch yourself Captain,” Colonel Sani suggested. Her stare was intense. Rahman met it, and didn’t flinch. Just the other. He felt a rebellious spirit rising inside him. Starry sky. He didn’t care what they did to him. He didn’t know if it was the bodily starvation he was experiencing – he was ravenous – or the anger at shedding so a lot of his crew, or easy post-battle stress, however he was fed up.

“I will not watch myself.” He felt his coronary heart in his throat. “And I have requests.”

Colonel Sani rose to her ft. Behind him, Rahman sensed the 2 huge guards on the door strolling towards him. This scenario was going to the crabs. He tensed, getting ready himself for no matter got here, then compelled himself to calm down. If they have been going to arrest him, he would cooperate, for the sake of his crew.

Aurangzeb waved off the 2 males and gestured to Sani to sit down. “What are your requests?”

Rahman exhaled deeply. “One. I want Samir Sufyan court martialed for insubordination. He disobeyed me repeatedly, and lives were lost. Two. I want reassurance that Maryam Munir will not be disconnected from life support. She’s a warrior. Give her a chance to fight. Three. Promote Ammar Abuzaid to Master Sergeant. He’s a phenomenal fighter and a loyal soldier. Four. My people need time off. At least a couple of weeks. Five. All my people deserve medals for bravery, but especially Layla Jamshad, who saved our lives on the queenship.”

Aurangzeb made a slight finger gesture to Sani. She spoke: “Your request regarding Samir Sufyan is denied. He killed a crab queen. You see this as a violation of the rules of war. We do not. In fact, it is a major boost to morale among the troops. Furthermore, he has more crab kills to his name than anyone in the division, except for you.”

Rahman had not recognized that reality, that he himself had extra kills than anybody. At one time he would have been happy with such a distinction. Now it left a bitter style in his mouth.

“Then assign him to someone else.”

“Again denied. You and he make a good team. How is he as a drone technician?”

Rahman pursed his lips. “Highly competent.”

Sami made a small gesture along with her hand, as if to say, There you go. “Whatever the source of friction between you, work it out. As for your other requests, they are all granted. Maryam Munir will be kept alive, Abuzaid will be promoted, your people will be granted shore leave, and you will all receive medals. In fact, the medal ceremony is scheduled for twelve hundred hours tomorrow.”

Rahman opened his mouth, closed it. He had not anticipated his requests to be granted. If the worth was the continued burden of Smasher Sufyan, he would bear it.

“Thank you,” he mentioned lastly. “I wasn’t asking for a medal for myself.”

“Nevertheless, you will receive one.”

Shore Leave

Two moons“Now some info,” Aurangzeb mentioned. “We’re on route to rendezvous with orbital station Hira, in the Jabal system.”

Rahman’s breath caught. The Jabal system was residence to NewMalaysia, in addition to two different inhabited worlds and several other orbital colonies. They have been going to his homeworld. That couldn’t be a coincidence. Were they choosing up new recruits? Or have been a few of his crew being medically discharged? Maybe Rahman himself was being discharged. The thought flooded him with hope. To lastly go residence, to be freed from battle and dying. The thought was like a dream.

Aurangzeb noticed the look on his face. “That’s rahht. You and your crew will be given a week o’ shore leave on NewMalaysia. Y’all earned it. While you’re there, we’ll have a little mission for ya. And when that’s done, we’re givin’ you a new ship for a long range mission that is crucial to the success o’ this heah war. I’ll let Colonel Bakri fill you in. Good luck, son.”

With that, the overall and Colonel Sani stood and left the room. A second later, Colonel Bakri gestured to the 2 guards on the door to go away the room. They did so, closing the door behind them. Rahman discovered himself alone within the nice room with the Malay colonel.

Get Yourself Together

“The general,” Bakri mentioned softly however clearly, “has made men disappear for less than the disrespect you showed here today.”

The colonel’s demeanor was delicate, which had the impact of bringing Rahman to consideration. Even although half of the person’s face was twisted by a burn scar, Rahman paid it no thoughts. He’d been a soldier for a very long time. Scars didn’t hassle him.

“You destroyed a queenship,” Bakri went on, “and with that you bought yourself some leeway. Get yourself together, Captain Rahman.”

Rahman nodded. “Yes sir.” The present of shore depart on his homeworld excited him. He’d lastly get to see his household once more. At the identical time, nevertheless, he was disillusioned that it wasn’t longer, or that he wasn’t being discharged altogether. Of course you’re not being discharged, you night-drunk fool, he informed himself. You have twelve years left to serve.

“As the general said, we have a mission for you.” The colonel picked up a brown leather-based satchel that had been sitting on the bottom beside him, positioned it on the desk, and drew forth a small metallic machine with a flat base and a conical physique. He touched a button on the machine, and a burst of ache shot by means of Rahman’s synthetic eye. Rahman coated the attention with a hand, however the ache light, and he noticed a shimmering discipline of silver gentle emitting from the tip of the machine. Overlaid on his imaginative and prescient within the prime left nook have been the phrases, “COMMUNICATIONS SUPPRESSION FIELD.”

He understood that this machine was designed to suppress any kind of eavesdropping or recording machine. The discipline it emitted wouldn’t be seen to a human eye, however his synthetic eye might one way or the other see it. Whatever Bakri was about to say, there can be no document of it anyplace, ever.

“Pardon,” Bakri mentioned. “I did not consider the effect on your eye. I myself have no artificial implants. Not even a skinpad.”

“I’m okay.” Rahman knew of such individuals. They have been known as naturals. They wouldn’t even get i-links or synthetic joints. The naturals had their very own province on New Sarawak, the northern island continent on NewMalaysia. But he’d by no means heard of a pure reaching an officer’s rank.

Top Secret Alef

Bakri nodded. “The following mission is classified Top Secret Alef. If you reveal any portion of it to anyone at all, you will be executed for treason. Not only that, your family members and crew will be tainted by association.”

“That’s crazy,” Rahman replied. “My family has nothing to do with anything.”

“Nevertheless.”

“Then I reject the mission. Give it to someone else.”

“Aurangzeb has chosen you. Your experience and physical abilities are unparalleled.” Bakri lowered his voice. “You must carry out this mission, Captain. I tell you as a fellow NewMalaysian that everything depends on it. Far more than you imagine. The survival of NewMalaysia itself is at stake.”

Rahman’s jaw was tense, his tooth clenched collectively. “What is the mission?”

Bakri’s face was grim. “We want you,” he mentioned quietly however firmly, “to assassinate the president of NewMalaysia.”

* * *

Next: All That Is In The Heavens, Part 13 – Truth and Lies

 

Reader feedback and constructive criticism are essential to me, so please remark!

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s different tales on this web site.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – together with Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – can be found in e book and print type on his creator web page at Amazon.com.

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