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Mesopotamian Blues


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Takana Khardun dismounted from her horse in the city of Baghdad. She was glad of her goggles and scarf, which kept her face free of the dust that had beaten at them for the last leg of their journey. Within the city, sheltered by its buildings, the storm was slightly better. She waved over one of her soldiers and hunkered down behind the low wall of a residential garden.


“Get the radio connection to command,” though they were sheltered here from the dust, the wind's keening through the buildings forced her to still raise her voice.


“Sir!” The soldier shouted back, and began operating the portable radio unit he carried. Takana waited for several moments while the connection was established, before taking the receiver and holding it close to her face; the receiver was shaped like a telephone's, and she felt odd, as she always did, holding the device.


“Baghdad Command, this is Captain Khardun of Fox Company. We've arrived in the city. Currently on the north side. Got a pretty nasty dust storm hitting us at the moment. Visibility's limited to about thirty feet, if that. Please advise.” She paused as static crackled over the radio for several moments.


At last a voice, broken up by bursts of static, came through to her, “Captain Khardun, this is Baghdad Command. Fox Company will be garrisoning at the following coordinates.” The voice reeled off the coordinates, and a brief description of the location, before the radio at last went dead.


Takana handed the receiver back to the radio operator and made her way to where her Lieutenants were waiting. She passed off the information to them, and they passed it down the line to the rest of the soldiers under her command. After several more minutes to ensure they were all together and ready, Fox Company set off into the dust once more.


Their garrison, when they arrived, was a welcome sight. High walls around a courtyard, and a large building at its center. When they entered, it became clear that the building had once been a community hall of some sort. Takana and the other Yehudiyyastani volunteers of company glanced about, ensuring they hadn't wandered into a Mosque by accident. When they were content with their belief that they weren't going to upset the local Muslims, the company at last settled in.


Takana radioed in to Baghdad Command once more, after a more permanent garrison radio had been set up, and informed them of the company's arrival.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The soft drone of aircraft was an almost constant in the barracks of Fox Company. Though the building itself was wonderful, and the courtyard walls kept them relatively protected from dust, they were located close to an airstrip put down by the Kurdistani Air Force. Supplies were flown in daily, and it was only in the dead of night that any peace returned. And that, Captain Khardun suspected, was in order to avoid angering the city's citizens, rather than out of any respect for her desire to sleep. During the day, things weren't so bad. The aircraft were audible, but far enough away not to be a true bother, and this section of the city was no longer seeing new construction. The engineers had already come and rebuilt the damage from the Fall, and the locals were once again busy bustling about their lives.


Takana listened to the babble of voices, drowned out periodically by a plane overhead, while she went through her morning exercise routines. Today was an important day, she knew. Many of the Mesopotamian cities were holding referendums on whether to forge together as a new Republic in the Kurdistani Federation, or else to maintain their independence as a state of their own. Fox Company, as with many of the other units stationed across Mesopotamia, was being called on to provide security for the polling places, and any of the local political leadership who desired it.


Once she'd finished her exercises, and drank a third cup of coffee, Takana called her officers to the small room that they'd set aside for themselves. Once the Lieutenants had gathered around the table she flashed them each a smile, “Peace,” she began, “Well, hopefully peace.” A few chuckles spread from the table, but they were nervous. “Your units are being deployed to guard the polling places across our sector of the city. There hasn't been much in the way of conflict between the parties that favour federation, and those that favour independence, but be careful anyway. The last thing anyone needs is for something to go wrong now.”


She assigned them each their stations and sent them on their way. She'd kept a few guards at the barracks, and several more for herself, but the majority of the Company was out in the city by the time she left the officer's room. Takana waved her guards over and they all geared up, before making their way out into the glare of the Mesopotamian sun. Her horse was already saddled and waiting, and Captain Khardun swung easily into the saddle, as did her men. She gave the signal, and as one they made their way into Baghdad's streets. She made her way on patrol through her sector of the city, checking on the defenses that had been emplaced as by the Peshmerga on their arrival. Baghdad bristled around the edges, a fortress well protected from any attack that might come from without. It was, however, the threat of an attack from within that concerned Captain Takana Khardun the most.

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Captain Takana Khardun stood under the shade provided by a pavilion, watching the newly recruited Beth Nahrain soldiers train. The referendum had gone smoothly, and the majority of the citizens of Mesopotamia had opted to join the Federation. The Republic of Beth Nahrain had formed as a result, and was formally incorporated into Kurdistan as the Islamic Republic. There was a rush of activity across the new Republic, with politicians, lawyers, and engineers all working to bring Beth Nahrain into the fold as smoothly as possible. And while they worked, so too did the soldiers, who now trained the Nahraini military on the equipment of the Federation.


The Nahraini troops that Fox Company was overseeing had done well for themselves, as the majority came from Baghdad's existing militia when the Kurdistani had arrived. They, at least, knew the rudiments of warfare, such as how to handle their weapons. The Yehudiyyastani soldiers were focusing on teaching them how to fight as part of a larger, organized, force, as well as the few tricks that the Jewish soldiers had brought to the Federation as a whole. The look of delight on a Nahraini soldier's face the first time he watched a Yehudiyyastani soldier fling a practice grenade with a sling, lobbing it from one street to the next, or behind a fortified position, was a common sight for the soldiers of Fox Company, and one of Takana's favourites to see.


The drills lasted for much of the day, though they all took a break to rest in the shade during the afternoon, to avoid the greatest heat of the day. It was during one of those breaks that the Nahraini Captain, a woman named Ghazal Mansour, approached her. The Nahraini woman seated herself on one of the cushions and nodded to Takana, “Peace be upon you, Captain,” she spoke after a moment of silence.


“And upon you as well,” Takana replied. Though she'd often spoken to Ghazal during the training drills, or while the Yehudiyyastani and Nahraini troops were on patrol, they had yet to speak while both groups were on break. She was curious to see what it was that the woman wanted.


“You have our thanks for training us,” Ghazal began, her voice hesitant, “but many of my men are wondering if you will be staying after we are deemed fit?”


Takana cocked her head to the side curiously. It took her a moment to realize where the question came from, and when she did, she shook her head slightly, “We aren't occupiers. When you're trained and equipped, we'll be going home. Unless your government requests our assistance, but once everything is in place, I don't see that being necessary. Kurdistan was formed to escape oppression, not to inflict it upon others.”


“And if you are ordered to remain? Would you do so, knowing it to violate your values? Why,” Ghazal continued, without waiting for an answer, “did Kurdistan come to Iraq at all?”


Takana opened her mouth to speak, before realizing that she wasn't sure of the answer to either question.

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