Cut the grass, drive out the snakes

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Dumanum
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Re: Cut the grass, drive out the snakes

Postby Dumanum » Wed Aug 28, 2019 3:20 pm

He wanted to scream, but had no mouth. He tried to remember. He was…a man? Yes, that sounded right. That was something. Who was he? Wait, was that right? No, he had always been a formless nothing. No, that couldn’t be right...how had he come to be in this place? He’d always been here…no that wasn’t right either. What was here? Just as quickly as the thoughts formed, they vanished. Panic set in; moments later it would subside as he found a measure of comfort, and then come careening back as it slipped away.

Adrift, as it were, no sense of time or being. All was darkness. Or was it? Was this darkness? He couldn’t remember. He was certain, however, of the silence. Was this existence?

Senguum…

What was that? A noise! No, that was crazy. He was clearly hallucinating.

Senguum…

There it was again! It sounded closer this time…

SENGUUM

A wave of terror came over him as he realized the voice came from within. He wanted to escape, desperately, but he was trapped.

SENGUUM

Senguum…

He remembered that name. It was…his name. His own name. He was Senguum. Had he always been here?

REMEMBER, SENGUUM

He tried to remember. Vague inklings of a past existence began to trickle into his mind. And then he knew, with certainty, that this was a place of punishment. What had he done? How long had he been here? Would he ever be free?

Remember…

A blinding light seared his eyes; he felt…he felt firm hands grip him and pulled him up. Yes…he had arms, and legs, and a cock between them. Suddenly he felt gravity reassert its hold on him, and he found his feet touching the ground. He was unsteady, but the hands held firm. Their grip was like iron, but he found it…reassuring. It comforted him. He was anchored back to reality. So he hoped…

“Senguum.”

The voice came from without, this time. His eyes began to adjust to the light. All around him was white, but in front of him was seated a man in black.

“You are awake. That is good.”

The man sat in a relaxed, cross-legged posture, but did not seem to touch the ground. He was handsome: cleanshaven, a square, strong jaw, with neatly cut salt and pepper hair with ice blue eyes that seemed to peer into his very soul. His warm, reassuring voice and kind smile (his teeth were as white as the place they were in) instantly putting him at ease. He was…foreign? Was he? He was not sure, but the thought had come to him. Foreign…alien? Otherworldly? Was this man a God?

“You are safe now, Senguum. All is well.”

“All…” he stammered. Yes, he could speak.

“Yes, all is well, Senguum.”

It was strange. The man’s lips moved, but the words did not match up. Was that how people always spoke?

He felt the hands guide him: his body recoiled as he felt himself sit, but the hands held firm.

“It is alright, Senguum. Sit.”

The voice calmed him, and he obeyed.

“Senguum, we must talk.”

“Talk…” he sputtered out. “Talk…yes…”

“You must reveal to me Senguum. You must reveal your crimes,” he said, a hint of sadness in his voice.

“My…crimes?” he shuddered.

“Yes Senguum. You are a murderer.”

Visions of blood and broken glass filled his mind. He did not remember fully, but he knew this being spoke the truth.

“Why…I did not want…”

“I know, Senguum, I know. You are not an evil man…but evil men made you do this terrible thing…”

Yes! That had to be right. He frantically nodded his head. Yes, evil men. Not Senguum, no. He’d been tricked.

“Senguum, you must tell us…”

Yes. He would tell him everything. This man had saved him from the dark place…and would keep him from going back. He would protect him.

He would tell him everything.

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Srf
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Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:42 pm

Re: Cut the grass, drive out the snakes

Postby Srf » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:20 am

Loud, sudden cracks and bangs broke out across Muluu, scaring clouds of brilliantly colored birds from their treetop perches and setting off hundreds of barking dogs in the pale pink light of the breaking dawn. Chulbasan pulled the lapels of his field jacket up over his chilly ears, sipped some more green tea, and signaled to the instructor on the old buzkashi field below him. The instructor barked a command and thirty young men, arrayed in a faithful imitation of a firing line, loosed off another volley of rifle fire at some plywood targets a hundred meters away.

Chulbasan looked around and saw Qadan heading towards him, hurriedly weaving his way between the field's dilapidated rows of seating. His head was tilted a little down and to the right, and one hand was in front of his face waving away a thick cloud of cordite vapor. The other pressed a mobile phone against his thin face, into which he was talking rapidly - Chulbasan didn't catch the words, only the intense concentration in Qadan's frowning expression.

The General had time to finish the last sip of his tea before Qadan arrived, having already hung up the call. The newcomer followed Chulbasan's gaze to the men on the field, struggling to manually reload their rifle magazines while the bullish instructor shouted at them.

"Does it awaken your memories, Qadan?" Chulbasan asked, with a half-smile.

"Yes, Dorzhi-Seguder. Although, I think I was a little younger than these men. Perhaps 14. And our uniforms and weapons matched, like a real army".

"Hrm. We got all of that directly from Vorga" Chulbasan replied. "Or Karakh Gzhelk, even. The Gzhelkan guns were always better than ours. More popular, you know. Our middlemen would sell them to the northerners who were trying to kill them. Hah!" Chulbasan spat on the ground, and lit a cigarette. "Even then, we were bandits and cutthroats. And now these men are wearing thirty year old jackets that belonged to their fathers". He took a drag on the skinny, hand-rolled cigarette and exhaled acrid, harsh blue smoke through his nose. "What do you need from me, Qadan? It's surely not bad philosophy".

Qadan coughed and shuffled. "Well, Dorzhi-Seguder, it's regarding the finances for this operation. We sent a man to Axum to meet a countryman there who is willing to part finance the struggle. He offered us a lump sum of five hundred thousand Oryontic Dollars in cash in the next few weeks".

Chulbasan perked up and he looked Qadan in the face for a second. "That's a substantial amount of money. Who is he?"

"Some businessman. He's in shipping, import-export. Our man got the feeling he is testing us with this money. He wants to know what we're capable of. He'll probably send more our way if we impress him. Our man got the impression that half a million is not of significance to this man".

Chulbasan went quiet, and smoked the rest of his cigarette while watching the men on the field break into jumping jacks. Presently he flicked the butt away and looked back at Qadan.

"Accept the money, Qadan" he said, with finality. "I have an idea for that five hundred thousand. A brilliant idea, actually. But this money man isn't going to like it".

He stood up and put a hand on Qadan's shoulder. Then his old, lined, tired face broke into a smile.

"How much does a bag of cement go for these days?"
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Srf
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:42 pm

Re: Cut the grass, drive out the snakes

Postby Srf » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:45 am

With a wet slap, the small man in a chef's hat dropped a generously thick cut of mutton onto Hakakian's plate. He smiled, quickly and from the corner of his mouth, in thanks and quickly moved away from the serving station, to where a group of men were clustered around the pool in swim shorts and breezy, loud-printed cotton shirts.

"Well indeed," the tall and thin one with a large braided beard was saying, "the economy in Mingruucha is not quite so terrible now, but our problem is lack of infrastructure. What we really need is a new trunk road between the city and the Questerland border. A good proper four-lane one, with asphalt and all of that. Think about it, the city could handle all the freight between Shiran, Qorbochqa, Vorga, and Nampatastan. There must be some money in that, hmm?"

"Oh, said another, who was shorter but much heavier, and talking with a mouth full of meat. "I'm actually working with that Dumani, Herkalius, who runs one of the infrastructure Gigantes here in the city. I'm sure I could put you in touch..."

"Excellent!" the tall and thin man said, having placed a very large cigar into his mouth. "Can I suggest we meet at my home tomorrow, before I fly back, and we can hammer out some details. Ah, hullo, Hakakian".

Hakakian nodded to the men, and sped up back to a wandering pace as he passed by them. He weaved his way between several other clusters, nodding and smiling to return greetings, before sitting down at a small table on a veranda a little way away from the main event. He ate a bit of mutton, and sighed with content as the exquisitely cooked meat fell to pieces in his mouth. Then he watched as another man followed his route, deliberately avoiding being pulled into conversation as he approached Hakakian's vantage point. The Major spoke first.

"Hullo, Qaritaxus".

"Major" the CORE Liaison replied, ill-at-ease in swimming gear. "Mind if I sit?"

Hakakian gestured to the empty seat beside him, and Qaritaxus sat down with a groan. He put up two fingers to catch the attention of a passing waiter, who rushed over clutching two beers. Both men drank, and sat in silence. Qaritaxus broke the silence.

"I've never been to a party like this" he said, gesturing with his head toward the gaggles of men having intense conversations on the immaculately kept lawn. Hakakian snorted.

"It's some kind of foreign party. Grilled meat, and beer, and sitting around a pool, like kept wives" he said. "Actually, I quite like the format. It's these people who I can't stand".

"What do you mean?"

"Well, look at them. Half of them can barely read or write, Qaritaxus. Most of these men are murderers and rapers, and now they stand around in... Shorts... Talking business and smoking cigars. They're trying to copy Qacha and the Dumanis, but they come off like apes in suits". he drank some more beer. "If I could be rid of them, I would, but..." He side-eyed Qaritaxus, They're very useful for our friends in Urbs Dumanus".

"Friends like my boss" Qaritaxus replied, still looking at Hakakian, who snorted again.

"Oh stop it Qaritaxus. Are you going to inform on me? I know you hate these people too. Anyway, they won't get rid of me. I'm too valuable. And wait one second. I am your boss. Not those CORE spooks".

Qaritaxus smiled and stretched back on the chair. "I suppose you're right. Where is the President, anyway?"

"Upstairs" Hakakian replied, "probably with his girlfriend. You know, he doesn't seem it but he's a very suspicious man. He just hides it well. He has a jar of dirt from Qorbochqa up in his bedroom, I've seen it".

Qaritaxus only nodded, and the two men sat quietly for another few minutes. Then Hakakian broke the silence.

"Chulbasan is still a problem, even up in Muluu. He's not going to march on Vorga anytime soon, but he can cause other internal problems. Army command has lost their heads over it. They keep sending trucks of troops up there to be blown up".

Now he turned to look Qaritaxus in the face.

"I'm advising Qacha to be a bit more accommodating with him. At least for now, until the AIB dust settles a little. But he isn't listening to me right now. He's not in the mood. I'd rather not have my boys lined up dead in Aktoiland but it might be coming to that soon".

He stood up, drained his beer, and set it on the table. "Ask your CORE guys to present some options of what they want done about it. And then try some of the mutton. It really is pretty good".
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