Two General Prequel.
· Scene starts in a "Terra Nullius" cross-border-bar on the RINCS/Zakiri border five years in the past. The mood is generally jovial, but there is tension in the air: people reading about worsening relations between the RINCS and Zakiri, the occasional raised voice when talking about it (usually cut off by a glance from one of the bouncers).
· At one of the tables is a Colonel from the RINCS army, holding an arm wrestling match in one hand, and drinking alcohol with the other hand. He seems to be playing with his opponent, laughing and pretending to lose, until he decides to put his opponent out of his misery and slams his arm on the table.
· Another Colonel, this one from the Zakiri, enters the bar. It gets deathly quiet, and the RINC Colonel puts down his drink to look him over. The bouncers tense up. Zakiri Colonel: "I hear a Rinker's been makin' trouble for some of my kin. I hear he thinks he's a Colonel." The RINC Colonel threateningly and a bit theatrically walks over to the table. "Pickin' on some out of towners." The RINC Colonel just looks at him: "Ain't my problem if you Zakis just can't make anyone stronger'n me." Zakiri Colonel: "I've been itchin' to start a fight with one of you Rinkers for a while now." RINC Colonel puts out his arm, begging for an arm wrestling match. "If it's a fight you want, it's a fight you've got."
· The two arm wrestle, and this time they're giving it their all. It's much more intense than when the Zakiri Colonel was playing with the last guy. In the end, the Zakiri Colonel loses. He immediately gets up, swiping his chair aside, insulted. The RINC Colonel does the same. They stare each other down. The bar is dead silent, people are looking for exits. The Zakiri colonel removes his jacket, as if he's getting ready for fisticuffs...but instead hands it to the RINC colonel: "Spoils of war."
· The two immediately break into smiles and get into a great big bear hug, the whole thing was just a show and it seems, despite the realistic tensions, the two are old and very good friends.
· They take a seat at a booth, and go over old times, where we learn the two grew up near the border cities, and were friends, divided by the quickly escalating conflict. We learn that there's been a slow cold war brewing for years now starting to boil over. Politicians brought up with haring about trumped up Zakiri bogeymen doing genetic engineering years ago, are now making policy based on those trumped up beliefs. Scared of the unknown, and unable to undermine the process, things are heating up into a war over ideology. The worst kind of war. The Zakiri talk about how their side is seeing the policies of the RINC as an excuse for empire building. They're wasteful with their resources, and these new policies and war rumblings conveniently happen at the same time the Zakiri recently discovered some [important somethings]. The tensions between the two begin to get heated before they both stop. "This is an argument for the politicans to debate about, not us. Let's have a drink."
· Later, both colonels stumble out of the bar. The RINC Colonel begins to hand the jacket back to the Zakiri Colonel, who drunkenly stops him: "That's yours. You were the better man this time. Just give me a chance to win it back one day." This immediately sobers the mood between them. The next fight may be on the battlefield. RINC Colonel: "I hope that day never comes. But if it does..." Zakiri Colonel: "...then I hope you give me everything you've got, because I will." RINC Colonel: "And so will I." They give each other a big bear hug again, and go their seperate ways.
Two Generals Story (Establishes seperation of ideology and "humanity."):
· Dana is a Lieutenant in the RINC Colonel's (now General's), army, in charge of a small platoon of men. She is obviously being groomed to rise in the ranks, and he's taken a special interest in helping her up the chain of command. She looks up to him not just as commanding officer but mentor. Before a battle, the RINC General puts a Zakiri Uniform Jacket. She asks why the RINC General is wearing an army uniform from the Zakiri's army. He explains they were both friends at one time, had a friendly rivalry, and hopes that they still do. The RINC General wears the uniform in battles as a mark of respect for Zakiri General. Dana doesn’t quite understand – how were they friends, being Zakiri and RINC? He explains it was a long time ago, before things between the countries got bad. Our ideologies are different, but the people are still people, enemies or not. She grasps, but still doesn't quite understand: The enemy is the enemy. And won't the RINC army mind him wearing an enemy uniform? "We're a hundred miles from nowhere. I don’t think they’ll mind."
· --They go into battle, but it goes badly, and most of Dana's platoon is captured by the enemy.
· --The Zakiri and RINC generals face each other on the battlefield, and after exchanging some stilted "wish we hadn't finally met this way" banter, remind each other of the promise to “give it their all” fight hand to hand in an epic hand-to-hand fight. As Dana and her platoon are carted away she sees the Zakiri General kill the RINC General, then remove his own hat in respect for a dead friend.
Prison/Negotiation (Establishes situation):
· Dana is processed into the prison, the Zakiri version of Guantanamo Bay, and essentially worked over and worn down for information over the course of a few months. She reveals nothing, or fabrications.
· One day, she's put in near solitary confinement. After a week, she is taken to a shower, cleaned up, given a fresh uniform from the RINC army, with full proper rank. She believes she is being released, but instead is taken directly to the Zakiri Defense Directorate for this region. Dana attempts to attack the Directorate, but is held back by Thayla, a gigantic burley jarhead kind of man. He simply holds her back, but does not attack or harm her (other than the bruise of nearly crushing her upper arm to keep her from attacking the Directorate). The Directorate just wants to discuss a "matter of some importance."
· The directorate sets down a plate of food before her. She eyes them suspiciously, and refuses to take it. "You'd think after a month of prison rations, you'd want these. But I can see how this might look suspicious. Thayla?" Thayla picks up a slice of bread, and tears it into two. He presents the halves to Dana. "Take one." She does, and does not eat it. He takes the other and eats it, proving that, at least, that the bread will not kill her. She eats the other one. Thayla continues to tear them in half, eating one, and waiting for Dana to eat the other before doing it again. Throughout the conversation, the dinner is finished off between the two in this fashion.
· The Directorate makes his case: The war in the East is going well, but taking up much of their manpower. They need every able person they can fighting on the eastern front to ensure victory. This has, however, led to the Western Frontier being open. The town of Gafana has recently found large deposits of some [valuable somethings] that a third state on their Western Frontier wants. And they're known to simply take what they want, regardless of who actually owns it. With the war going well, but needing manpower, he cannot afford to send people to Gafana. But he can send her. "Patriots are not expendable, you are." He is willing to give her the equivalent rank and privilege in his army, the promise that she will not be sent to fight against her compatriots on the Eastern Front, to command a platoon of her handpicked officers from her country's POWs, and the Directorate's handpicked officers (who he can then order not to kill her, and reasonably expect the order to be obeyed) and maybe, just possibly, once the war is won, she will be sent back.
· "If you decide not to go to the Western Front, you will be executed this evening. The camp is being shut down in the next few weeks, and we're determining which assets to take with us, which to release, and which to...discard. If we release you, you will lead a platoon right back here. And you know too much about our situation on the West to keep you alive. Even If we moved you, you would do nothing but sit in a detention cell until the end of the war. I do hate to waste available resources."
· "But...if you decide to go to the Western frontier, you will not only have some limited freedom, so will your compatriots. And, should you bring down the camp population enough, we will see about keeping or releasing some of the 'assets' we planned to discard. Taking on this assignment, you would be responsible for the survival and possible repatriation of your people."
· "However I need an assurance of your willingness to follow through with this plan. You and your compatriots will be poisoned with a poison that stays in your system. However, you will be given an antidote every week that keeps you alive. Your POW compatriots in your platoon will also be poisoned and given an antidote to ensure their loyalty. And to ensure delivery of the antidote, my handpicked soldiers will also be poisoned. Their antidote is your antidote.”
· She agrees to the offer, not out of a sense of self preservation, but because her compatriots can't be released or saved if she is dead.
· He then offers her and Thayla a glass of wine "to celebrate the arrangement." Thayla drinks his down. Dana does not. The directorate insists. "There's no better way to celebrate an agreement with a glass of wine." She again does not drink. "I'd would take your wine. It contains your first dose of antidote." She then realizes that the dinner WAS actually poisoned. "Had you decided not to agree, we simply would not have given you your wine."
· On the way back to her cell, escorted by Thayla, she asks "were you just poisoned, too?" He nods "I will be your attaché in the West. My antidote is your antidote." "Were you poisoned because your loyalty is in question?" "I was poisoned because it was ordered of me."
· She is immediately released from her cell, but heavily watched and guarded, observing the POWs and mentally singling out those she wants to go with her to Gafana. She meets with each one of them, gauging their attitudes, and willingness to leave the camp. She sells it by saying that escaping from a badly defended border town will be much easier than escaping from a heavily armed prison camp, and wins over many of her troops that way. Some don’t. They don’t want to be poisoned. They don’t want to protect Zakiri. Many consider what she’s doing as treason. Some respond violently attacking what they see as “a turncoat.”
· Two days before being shipped out, she and her compatriots are shown how to use Zakiri equipment, which is much more conservative and slightly lower tech than what they’re used to. Most everything is a clamshell design, guns are small compact batons. At the end, they’re ushered into another room where a tattooist awaits. This comes as a surprise, as no one ever mentioned being “branded.” It’s a necessity – the Zakiri facial tattoo markings are instant identifiers among the Zakiri. As they are now in Zakiri service, they must be tattooed. Many object, and some drop out. A few begin to drop out until Dana, who is incensed that she was not told this would happen on top of the poisoning, agrees to it. The Tattoo are a series of lines or markings under right eye that translate to: "Community Defender - Outsider – Trusted." In the end, the group boils down to people who are loyal to Dana, not so much loyal to the RINCs.
Gafana Situations - in need of an over-arching story.
· Gafana is much more remote and desolate than Dana expected. Zakiri territory is large, but far flung with little communication between borders.
· Dana wears a Zakiri military uniform, and purposely wears it sloppily (jacket open, sleeves rolled up). All rank insignia are from RINC's army, though, and are in pristine condition.
· Thayla walks through the officer barracks and notices Dana's light is on. Without knocking, he walks into her room, seeing her at a mirror by her bed. Much of her hair is in small tight braids, but not completely. She's threading the braids by hand. She turns to Thayla. Dana: "It's customary to knock before entering." Thayla: "A soldier in our army has no expectation of privacy, no matter his rank." Dana asks if he had anything to report, and it's an "all is well" kind of report. Dana (who officially outranks him) dismisses him. He hesitates (he is her minder and attaché and can, if he believes necessary, overrule her). Dana asks him while still braiding "What's on your mind, Thayla?" Thayla: "Why are you braiding your hair like that? It's not regulation." Dana: "It is in my army. We're a hundred miles from nowhere. I don’t think they’ll mind." Thayla: "It must take some time to braid those. Time better spent." Dana: "It's a bit of a fad back home. We have small little tools that make the braiding faster." Thayla: "That doesn't explain the why." Dana: "The answer to that is: Because I want to. Because I miss home, and this is how I can remember it."
· Thayla segues into his next though: "You miss your home, yet you serve here. I would not have served with you. I would have died rather than serve in your army, betraying my homeland." Dana (not taking the bait): "I took this assignment because there were more choices I could take by serving here" She looks Thayla over: "I may be a dog on a leash right now, but it's a very thin long leash. I can still mostly choose the direction I want to go in. You, however, wear short chains. Your lead is directed totally by your master, and that chain will probably never break. My leash could break at any time. Sooner than later, I’m hoping.” Thayla queues in on this remark – she’s going to try to escape.
· Inevitable first escape attempt, fails when antidote is not administered when she and a few trusted men go on the run (She plans to report, come back, and free the rest). She begins feeling weak, breathing heavy, headachey. Eventually the heavy breathing becomes a gasping. The poison essentially stops her body from receiving oxygen without the antidote. While it doesn’t kill right away, you quickly become disoriented, faint from lack of oxygen, and, if not administered quickly, begin to completely starve of oxygen. Thayla, knowing that she would escape, but knowing she would need to understand how quickly she would become incapacitated, finds her and returns her to town. She is nursed back to health but not punished or incarcerated: “Hopefully, your experience in the wilderness will convince you not to try again. You're place is in Gafana.” “My prison is Gafana.” “You are the PROTECTOR of Gafana.”
· Most of the townfolk initially hate Dana as she is one of "The Enemy RINC." She is often referred to as "Tarhee Dana." She assumes it's the military rank from the tattoo on her cheek, but it in fact, it means "Traitor."
· Dana at first does not go off camp, spending as much time in her office coordinating the move (which is just an excuse), once that's done she begins working on drilling regimes, trying to integrate the two sides of her platoons into one (again, just an excuse). Eventually, the first raid occurs, and she dispatches her troops. They're excellent at their job (when they're mostly separated, merging together, the styles clash a bit), but repulsing the raid is a bit of a disaster. They’ve successfully repulsed them, but were unfamiliar with the area. Only the maps. It took much longer to repulse the State 3 force than she expected, and there was damage to the city. While this loses a bit of what little respect the townspeople have in their new defenders, the troops are heavily involved in the rebuilding of the city, starting a slow turnaround of the city’s confidence in their defenders. She, personally, begins to explore the city, to familiarize herself with it.
· One of the Zakiri soldiers has befriends one of the RINC soldiers. The Zakiri is familiar with the area, and knows a good restaurant they should go to. The two go out, and come back. The RINC soldier mentions that the restaurant seemed okay, and had good food. Dana, tired of rations, goes alone. However her RINC-style braided hair makes her much more obvious than the other RINC solder, and she does not have a jovial Zakiri with her to cut the tension. The restaurant serves her, the food is good and well made (no one's done anything vile to it because of her), but the patrons are cold and some leave. Zakiri eat with chopsticks, not forks, and she has issues trying to use them, making her predicament a bit more obvious. It’s not a very good time for Dana, although, in the end, the food does lift her spirits as the rations are rather boring. The restaurant will eventually become a place for many of the RINCs to go to. The owner is willing to pick up the RINC/Zakiri soldier's money, which more than makes up for the loss of some of the more intolerant Zakiris who leave. The owner even manages to smuggle in forks for the RINCs to use.
· She begins effectively protecting the town from skirmishes with State #3. They're more raids than skirmishes, and do not tax her troops much.
· A Zakiri troop, whose brother was recently killed in action, decides to take revenge on Dana by stealing her ration of antidote and hoping no one can find it in time. Thayla, knowing that this isn’t the only troop who has considered this, takes that troops antidote, giving it to Dana, leaving troop to die within hours. It’s a terrible decision, and Thayla is not happy about it – but by doing it, he earns Dana’s respect (she did not expect him to save her over another fellow Zakiri). She recognizes Thayla’s unhappiness at essentially executing a troop. Thayla brushes it off as Dana outranking the troop, therefore more deserving of the antidite, but it rings hollow. She attempts to comfort him anyway: she's reminded of the RINC General's word - we're people, no matter our ideology.Any troops who may have considered killing Dana now know she is protected, and the consequences are harsh.
· She begins to familiarize herself with the town. As she grows to accept these people, she grows curious about them, and about the culture of the area, much different than hers. Imagine Ancient Roman Soldier depositied in Ancient China. Some people still hate her, but are tolerating her as she's protected the town. They’re unsure of her though: her marking show her as a trusted outsider, but her demeanor, uniform and insistence on the hair braids come across as “I’m going home AS SOON AS I CAN.” Some of the more uneasy Zakiri begin banding into their own citizen’s militia, as they have little faith she will protect them for long.
· Eventually, the restaurant will be firebombed by a lone radical trying to force, but rebuilt with not only the platoon's help, but the citizen’s militia. The beginning of acceptance by all parties of each other.
· Several years in, she's become, if not friendly by the natives, shakily respected by the natives. They all call her Tarhee, though, which she still thinks is a military rank.
· She has made a few friends among the populace, usually merchants who have seen her often, and have treated her well for her and her platoon's money, and, eventually, gotten to know her. They have suffered a bit for it, losing clientele when she comes in (though less and less as time goes by). Friends she has made, however, often lose other friends. Even her friends call her "Tarhee."
· Dana notices that she is not recieving as many orders or reports from the Zakiri Government. The antidote rations are also starting to come in less frequently, although with more supplies in them...as if someone in the government seems distracted "Oh, I need to send this antidote out!" The war is not going as well for the Zakiri, and with Thayla's reports backing up without as much feedback as the war effort gets more intense, she takes a chance: She attempts another escape, but this time heads back on her own as State #3 instigates a raid, and she realizes that she can't just leave the population underdefended with only the citizen’s militia, and the remainder of her troops. She returns, blaming the “delay” on having to quickly administer an antidote before the battle.
· A RINC army is slowly closing in on Gafana, and news gets back to the town. Many of the RINC POWs are happy to hear this, but the Zakiri soldiers are not as they think they'll be made into POWs. At the same time, State 3 is encroaching on the city with a large force. While the platoon and citizen's bridage are large enough to repulse one force, they cannot do both forces, should the RINCs try to take the city.
· The State 3 force is one day away. Dana sends scouts to check out their numbers, and, as predicted, it's the largest sent, but with the help of the citizen brigades and Dana's forces, they could hold them off. But in her logic, she realizes that even if they defeat the forces, they would come back with a larger force they couldn't handle. She would need something to scare them off permanently.
· She walks the hallways of the barracks, listening to the laughs and jibes of the soldiers, both Zakiri and RINC, finally meshed together as a fighting whole. And then she finds a soldier alone. He's writing a letter to his family back in the RINC. She stops and talks with him a while, and realizes he has written a letter every day of his time in Gafana, but not mailed it (he doesn't know if it will ever get there). This gives her an idea.
· She rummages through the barracks, and finds a RINC uniform from a previously captured soldier which fits the man. She dusts it off, cleans it up, but puts Zakiri rank markers and insignia on it. She quickly writes a note to the head of the RINC army headed her way, informing them of RINC POWs in Gafana, and a number of “sympathetic” Zakiri. She then tells the messenger to rewrite it, as he's more of a wordsmith than she is (the diary is huge, the letters could make up their own book). Once done, she rewrites it again, adds a few code phrases and signals. She hands the letter to the soldier and tells him to meet the RINC army head on. When he gets there, ask for "Messenger's Privilidge." This is an international “law” that would allow him to deliver Dana's message to the head of the RINC legion coming to Gafana, and be released without fear of capture. She also suggests he takes his letters to be posted.
· The mood is tense in the barracks, the Zakiri are not looking forward to the RINC army coming and they are prepared (and very willling) to fight. The RINC POWs, including Dana are worried that, even though they were told they would never have to fight their own brothers, they may need to do so if they come under fire. Some of the Zakiri and RINCs push hard to flee Gafana and regroup elsewhere when they decide what to do about the double onslaught.
· The messenger returns with a note and a package. She opens the package, and inside are uniforms and insignia for the RINC army. She looks at the note, and neither smiles, nor frowns, but shows grim determination, and perhaps a bit of dissapointment. She spends most of the night contemplating the future of Gafana when it comes to her:
· She addresses the troops, both the platoon, and citizen’s brigade. They are not a Zakiri Force. They are not a RINC platoon. They are a Gafana Platoon, and they are there to protect the city. She convinces the Zakiri soldiers to stay - she needs them to defend the city and she will do everything she can to keep you free. She convinces the RINC soldiers to stay - we will not fight the RINCs unless absolutely necessary, and only in defense of the city from desctruction. There are very few desertions before the impending fight.
· The State 3 assault comes. The Gafana Army shows up, many are wearing the packaged RINC jackets over their Zakiri uniforms, and vice versa. Dana is wearing her Zakiri uniform, with RINC insignia, in pristine and military regulation for the first time in the whole story.
· Casualties are massive on both sides, but in the end the State 3 army backs off...but doesn't retreat. Instead, another small force comes in, relief for the first force. Dana had no idea this was coming, but she's not worried, as over the hills come the RINC forces. And they are massive. The Zakiri bid a hasty retreat back to their territory without a second shot fired: They're overwhelmed, and know better than to fight a losing battle.
· The army marches closer to the city. The Gafana military and Citizen’s Brigade wait at the border. Dana and Thayla walk out, exposed and weaponless, towards the army, and stops halfway. The approaching RINC forces pause. She shouts "I am Tarhee Dana Medina, of the free city of Gafana." Thayla wearing a RINC uniform with Zakiri markings continues:"We welcome peaceful visitors to our city, with open arms. Make no trouble here, and you shall have no trouble." The RINC soldiers just pause, look at each other and try to figure out what the hell just happened.
· Dana had banked everything on this, hoping the approaching RINC army would provide the scare tactics to help keep the State 3 army away, just by showing up. Had the RINCs decided to attack the city, or killed her/Thayla during their declaration...she had no follow up plans. It was a Hail Mary pass.
· The RINC army has camped just out of town. Dana enters the Captain's tent, the one who heads the RINC Army that marched on Gafana. She is still in a Zakiri uniform with RINC markings. He calls her Lieutenant recognizing her rank, but admonishes her for wearing a Zakiri uniform. He expects a salute, but she gives none, standing-at-ease. She's respecting him as a fellow military person, but not as a commanding officer.
· He tells her he recieved her message, and was not suprised to see her impressed into servince in Gafana. This is the third border city they had come across with impressed RINC commanders. But this was the first that didn't up and surrender the minute the RINC army showed up, instead declaring itself a free city.
· He had sent along the uniforms, expecting the RINC POWs would immediately report to him in them for debriefing. Instead only a few did and reupped with his army. Dana: "They take commands from me, sir. I told them they could report back if they wanted to." "You take commands from ME." "With all due respect, sir, I have not taken orders from either the RINC or Zakiri chain of command for some time. We are the free city of Gafana. We are not just RINC or Zakiri, we are BOTH RINC and Zakiri."
· The Captain is dissapointed. "You've done good work here, under terrible circumstances, but what you’re saying could be considered desertion." "Then you'll have my resignation in the morning."
· The Captain dismisses her, but she does not leave, again, not recognizing his ability to command her. "How long will you be staying in Gafana, Captain?" "We need to resupply, and our soldiers could use a bit of R-and-R. A few days, maybe a week to reestablish the supply line.” He pauses, finally realizing he is no longer dealing with a soldier, but dealing with a politician. “We aren't at war with Gafana, are we, _Tarhee_ Medina?" "Everyone is welcome here, Captain. And, frankly, we could use the company."
· She leaves, but not before the Captain stops her. "Until your resignation is on my desk, I'm still your commanding officer. I have one last order for you." She turns, kind of surprised he'd pull rank on her, despite her intentions to prove she's independent of his command. "Get a haircut. Those braids aren't regulation." She smiles "I'll think about it."
· The captain recognizes the autonomy of Gafana, but cannot guarantee that RINC will. For the time being, though, they're at the very least, friendly. Thayla becomes the first mayor, and de-factor leader, for the city of Gafana. The State 3 raids still occur, but at a much lower, smaller rate. Dana remains his military adviser and liason to the RINC forces occupying the area.
· Years later, Thayla dies due to the failure of a new pump for his antidote. His last words were: "I never had the heart to tell you...Tarhee means 'Traitor.'" Dana nods: "I know."
· Dana takes over as mayor/leader, and full diplomatic ties start (with whoever ended up winning the war, most likely the RINCs. In her last scene, she pulls aside her blouse revealing a pump and inserts an antidote cartdridge in it as if it was nothing. It, and Gafanna, have become part of her life.