Act I – The Homesick Soldier
• 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). A few people are wearing what will be the same cornrow style braids Dana is wearing. Enough to establish it's at the start of its fashion trend.
• At one of the tables is a Lieutenant 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 Lieutenant, this one from the Zakiri, enters the bar. It gets deathly quiet, and the RINC Lieutenant puts down his drink to look him over. The bouncers tense up. Zakiri Lieutenant: "I hear a Rinker's been makin' trouble for some of my kin. I hear he thinks he's a Lieutenant." The RINC Lieutenant threateningly and a bit theatrically walks over to the table. "Pickin' on some out of towners." The RINC Lieutenant just looks at him: "Ain't my problem if you Zakis just can't make anyone stronger'n me." Zakiri Lieutenant: "I've been itchin' to start a fight with one of you Rinkers for a while now." RINC Lieutenant 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 Lieutenant was playing with the last guy. In the end, the Zakiri Lieutenant loses. He immediately gets up, swiping his chair aside, insulted. The RINC Lieutenant does the same. They stare each other down. The bar is dead silent, people are looking for exits. The Zakiri Lieutenant removes his jacket, as if he's getting ready for fisticuffs...but instead hands it to the RINC Lieutenant: "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. 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 Lieutenants stumble out of the bar. The RINC Lieutenant begins to hand the jacket back to the Zakiri Lieutenant, 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 Lieutenant: "I hope that day never comes. But if it does..." Zakiri Lieutenant: "...then I hope you give me everything you've got, because I will." RINC Lieutenant: "And so will I." They give each other a big bear hug again, and go their seperate ways.
• Dana is a Lieutenant in the RINC Lieutenant's (now Colonel'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 Colonel puts a Zakiri Uniform Jacket. She asks why the RINC Colonel 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 Colonel wears the uniform in battles as a mark of respect for Zakiri Colonel. 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."
• A civilian from the town they're in is advising the two about the layout of the city and possible avenues of defense. She also wears the braids that we'll see on Dana, again, establishing it as a fashion.
• They go into battle, but it goes badly, and most of Dana's platoon is captured by the enemy.
• The Zakiri and RINC Colonels 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 Colonel kill the RINC Colonel, then remove his own hat in respect for a dead friend.
• 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 Tilahun, 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. Tilahun?" Tilahun 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. Tilahun continues to tear them in half, eating one, and waiting for Dana to eat the other before doing it again. Throughout the conversation, the bread, but not the rest of 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."
• Dana argues that she could simply kill whoever would be in the defence director in Gefanna. Mulhare responds: "You don't understand. YOU will be the defense director."
• "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." Tilahun silently, but unmistakably, reacts to this with a stern look at Mulhare.
• 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 a glass of wine "to celebrate the arrangement." Dana does not drink it. 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."
• Dana is taken out of the office back to her cell by a guard, with Tilahun staying behind: "You're purposely poisoning someone to keep them loyal? Or die? There wasn't much of a choice there." Mulhare: "She's a RINC enemy officer. She can't be allowed a choice." Tilahun: "Forcing someone to do your bidding unwillingly is against our philosophy." Mulhare: "I don't take any pleasure in what I'm doing - I'm doing this for our survival."
• Dana 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.
• Her first view of Gafana, she notices mountains in the distance where her homeland was flat. The whole town is in a gorge, built up the walls with brdges crossing over. It's breathtaking, until she realizes that she's here as a working prisoner.
• Gafana is much more remote and desolate than Dana expected. Zakiri territory is large, but far flung with little communication between borders.
• Gafana, while ethnically diverse, is populated by a slim majority of Ethiopian descendants. Dana is Mexican. Tilahun is Ethiopian descended, a native of Gafana.
• 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.
• Dana meets up with Kira (cf Pazi's story), a traveling maintenance woman, who is dropping off war machinery Mulhare has ordered for her new defense of the city. Kira discusses some of the bio-machinery's pros and cons, when they turn a corner, and Dana sees several of the Kestrel Class drones (small warbirds about the size of a large dog) playing with children. Several of the warbirds (Twelve included) notice her and flock towards her, studying her and a few (Twelve included) demanding "pettin's." Dana's told they have personalities and play with the populace to bond them to who they're protecting. Dana's worried they may disobey her, but Kira points out they can't, although they may complain about it. Eventually all the warbirds leave her be, except Twelve who stays by her side for the rest of the conversation,occasionally nuzzling and prodding her (making Dana very uncomfortable).
• At the end of her first day, she finally settles down for the night, looking into a mirror and seeing the tattoos placed on her cheek. She gives a look of anger, then sadness at how she has something distinctly Zakiri on her cheek. She begins pulling at her hair, seperating it into braids.
• Tilahun walks through the officer barracks and notices Dana's light is on. Tilahun knocks and 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 Tilahun. 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, Tilahun?" Tilahun: "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." Tilahun: "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." Tilahun: "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."
• Tilahun 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 Tilahun 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." Tilahun 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, she quickly becomes disoriented, faints from the slowly dimishing oxygen in her system, and, begins to completely starve of oxygen. Tilahun, 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."
• It's her resignation to living in Gafana that opens her eyes to Gafana.
• Most of the townfolk initially hate Dana as she is one of "The Enemy RINC." She is sometimes referred to as "Kahadi Dana." She assumes it's the military rank from the tattoo on her cheek.
• 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).
• She meets up with a loose group called The Citizen's Brigade. They're essentially a few minute men providing small arms defense of the town. They're the ones who begged Mulhare for reinforcements, but are unhappy that a RINC officer is heading the attatchment he sent. It's through them that Dana hears the first rumblings that a small raid is coming.
• The raid occurs, and she dispatches her troops. They're excellent at their job (when the RINC and Zakiri are 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 as well as the Citizen's Bridgade were, since her forces only studied the maps. It took much longer to repulse the Zoner's 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.
•Tilahun comes to her and says that they've got an emergency. Their sensor network has been tripped; the enemy is advancing along the canyon under cover.
•Cut to the troops getting ready, and Dana at the lookout post, scanning for the opponent with her eyes shielded from the sunlight.
•"I don't see anything..."
•Tilahun hands her a pair of complex looking binoculars. They're infrared viewers. She puts them to her face; the heat along the canyon walls is bright.
•"Further down -- stop. Right there."
•Cut to the two of them, binoculars at the ready, looking at the camera.
•Cut to their visual frame. Something indistinct but much brighter than the background radiation is clinging to the canyon wall. Three more frames zoom in progressively --
•10x, 20x, 50x, 100x. In the final frame, the outline of a multiped tank, walking sidways across the sheer cliff face, can be seen.
•It's camoflagued, but it can't completely eliminate the heat or acoustic signatures of its passing.
•The seismic and infrared detectors have pinpointed its location.
•Tilahun estimates it's a light troop carrier -- four marines, with support drones, plus the tank itself.
• A lower member of the brigade, Kelile, who is also a member of the Gefanna underground, however is unconvinced, and begins realizing he must not only defend Gefanna from the Zoners, but from the RINCs in the heart of the city. He brings this up to the Citizen's Brigade leader, retorts: We don't trust her to stay five minutes more than she has to, but a long as she's here, we're in good hands."
• Gafanna is populated by remnants of Ethiopian Americans, and much of the culture and food comes from that.
• Dana has been isolating herself in her office when not actively fighting battles. When she does leave, she almost never leaves the compound. Tilahun catches up with Dana on a walkaround the campus to talk with her about how morale is dropping because no one sees her. Dana seems not to care: "They'll follow my orders because of my rank." Tilahun: "And the Zakiri?" She has no answer, but immediately sees:
• A Zakiri "Officer" begins boasting to a RINC "Enlisted" jokingly about how the RINCs with their delicate mouths, couldn't handle the cuisine around here. The Enlisted man tries not to notice, since in his army, he's not allowed to fraternize with the officers, but after a while, takes the Zakiri on. Dana, thinking this is the morale/discipline issue Tilahun is talking about, complains that, yes, maybe she has been lax. "Officers don't fraternize with the enlisteds." Tilahun replies: "We're not an army, 'Liuetenant.' We're volunteers. Volunteers need to have faith and trust in their leaders in order to do what needs to be done." Dana shoots him a look: "Some of us were volunteers." The point is made, though, and Dana realizes she's not heading an army, but leading a team.
• That same Zakiri soldier decides to haze the RINC soldier, by taking him out to eat at a restaurant nearby. The food of the local culture is incredibly spicy and definiantely not something you'd think the RINCs would eat. They're hoping to make the RINC soldier sick. Instead, the RINC soldier happily eats it down. His family have Ethiopian Roots, and he hasn't had good food like this in some time. The Zakiri soldier is flabbergasted, and then realizes he may have misjudged this RINC. He didn't realize the RINC might actually like this, much less grown up with it. It's the beginning of the first real friendship between the RINC and Zakiri soldiers.
• Dana, tired of rations, hears about the restaurant, and 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 when they're not eating with their hands, 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.
• When eating native Gafana food, Dana will not be familiar with eating with her hands or scooping with bread. Zakiri foods are tailored to the general culture of the city (in this case Ethiopian), one part "old style kind of food" (modified meat, chicken, rice...something we'd recognize but in an odd way), and bizzare (genetically modified bullfrog meat, anyone?)
• Primary grains are teff and amaranth, which she is not used to. Not used to getting rice or some other grain with every meal. Food is mostly eaten with the hands, bread or chopsticks, all alien to Dana. Flatware is incredibly uncommon, because it's just not part of this culture, and can be obtained if one looks hard enough for it. Foods she thinks will be familiar aren't (due to different ingredients, or methods of cooking). Vegetables are unrecognizable to her, and much more served than she's used to. Meats tend to be what's available in the wild (frog, pheasant, goat, rabbit, bison, deep), and now what she's used to from home.
• She also finds it spicy as hell, and in some cases unpleasant.
• 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 find flatware for the RINCs to use. Dana and her troops eat with their left hands, which is considered bad manners in Gafana, but more on a "isn't it charmingly cute, they don't know how to eat correctly" kind of way, versus insulting. It's a way of showing that while they don't trust her, and she's an outsider, she's very human, and doesn't know how to get by easily in their world. Reactions will range from distrust to more "how DO you survive?" And it's not just one misguided girl, it's a whole LOT of them. And they need our help to survive. A way of humanizing and sympathizing with the new protectors.
• Dana, personally, begins to explore the city, to familiarize herself with it.
• While walking through the town, she is met by indifference, stares, even a grimace, but does get the occasional smile. The people, however, are genetically modified, some incredibly so. It feels very uncanny valley to her, and while she's trying to put on a nice face, she does let out an uncontrollable gasp at some of the more modified humans, especially as one startles her.
• Our last scene in this chapter, has her going "topside" above the chasm to the surface, sitting alone and watching the stars. She takes out a radio, and tunes to a specific frequency, tuning to the sound of slow methodical warbling tones, five in all repeating three times. The tones stop and and a mechanized voice comes out. "ATTENTION. ATTENTION. ATTENTION." She does not go into attention. "7974. 7974. 7974." She suddenly snaps to, reaching inside for her hiptop. The radio repeats the ATTENTION and 7974 call as she flips it open and pulls up a notepad app. "Agent 7974, ready." The radio releases a stream of coded numbers and which she types on the hiptop screen furiously. The code ends with "END. END. END." She begins furiously cycling through the apps looking for her decoder to uncode the message before she realizes: "Zakiri hiptops don't have RINC decoders."
• She looks up at the moon: "Maybe, somewhere, my brother is looking at you, too. Maybe he's thinking about me. Tell him I love him."
Act II – Life in Gafana
• She begins effectively protecting the town from skirmishes with State #3. They're more raids than skirmishes, and do not tax her troops much.
• 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. Two groups form, a citizen’s brigade to protect the city themselves, and an underground to remove Dana and her RINCs from the population.
• Dana visits the warplane "farm" watching the kids play with the warbirds. Two or three look up at her, and go back to playing with the children, however Twelve suttles right up immediately, and prods her for a petting. Up to now, anytime Twelve has come up to her, Dana has sent her away. This time, she looks into it's "eyes" trying to figure out what's behind them. Programming or mechanics? Both? She's proven herself in battle so that Dana has more confidence in her, but still feels wierded out by this bird that's doing it's best to be a friend to her. A little girl comes up to play with Twelve, and talks to Dana about how much fun it is to have someone to play with who will also protect her. All the while Twelve is doingit's best to play with both of them. Dana allows herself a moment with the little girl to play with the war machine.
• 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. Tilahun, knowing that this isn’t the only troop who has considered this, sends the trooper on a suicide mission. It’s a terrible decision, and Tilahun 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 Tilahun’s unhappiness at essentially executing a troop. Tilahun brushes it off as Dana being more important the troop, therefore more deserving of protection, but it rings hollow. She attempts to comfort him anyway: she's reminded of the RINC Colonel'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.
• Disillusioned by the recent attempt on her life, Dana 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 including a distraught Tilahun. She returns, blaming the "delay" on having to quickly administer an antidote before the battle.
• At Kelile's insistence, the restaurant is firebombed. However, he's surprised to see that it gets rebuilt with not only the platoon's help, but the citizen’s militia. The beginning of acceptance by all parties of each other. Kelile is haunted by the civilians he's hurt, and the military who is helping them, because of his firebomb.
• The Citizen’s Brigade forces Dana’s forces to stop investigating the firebombing. They don’t trust her to make a fair decision, and they want the underground taken out as well. They’ve hurt Gafana’s people, and need to come to justice
• Dana realizes she needs Tilahun as a symbol that Gafana’s protectors have a native son near the top. She asks him to stay until things settle down.
Act III – The Faint Rumblings of Something Greater
• Several years in, she's become less of an intruder, and more of a distant, but friendly, outsider. Most joke and jibe her as a mark of acceptance, which she takes, but isn't happy about it. They all call her Kahadi, though, which she 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 "Kahadi."
• At the bistro, Dana has dinner with Kira (cf. Pazi's storyline), a traveling maintenance woman who is in town to work on the warplanes. The two have a friendly rivalry that has grown less antagonistic (but no less fun) over the years. Dana finally opens up enough to tell her what was done to keep her in Gefanna, and how she's come to sliking the people of Gefanna, she could never care for them if that was what they stand for. It's Kira who ribs her about how she doesn't know the people. "You've judged a very good book by one wrinkled and worn page. What happened to you is against the Zakiri philosophy. And not only did no one in this town specifically poison you, most would be shocked if they knew what had happened." Dana feels stupid for stereotyping all the Zakiri becuase of what's happened to her by one person.
• Dana: You're asking me to eat what?
• Kira: Come on. It's like mushrooms.
• Dana: ::looks at the plate:: You're joking with me. There's a bunch of you watching from behind a wall isn't there?
• Kira: Cross my heart. *folds up a bit and eats*
• Dana: ...
• Kira: See? Try it.
• Dana: Waiter? I'm going to need a glass of water. Biggest you can get.
• Kira: *bemused laughter*
• Dana: ::mutters:: "Even the water's spicy today...."
• Kira: You really are a fish out of water.
• Dana: ::hands Kira a plate of Migas (aka Egg and Brain):: I will if you will.
• Kira: Gosh, I'd love to but I'm vegetarian?...
• Dana: Waiter! A glass a water for my friend here. Biggest you can get."
• Kira: You're awful.
• You're welcome! ::eats a big heaping spoonful of migas::
• Kira: Gimme that.
• Kira: *tastes it&
• Kira: *goes pale*
• Dana: And...now...some...corn......smut......... ::chews...kinda...drinks a big glass of water::
• Dana: This meeting of the cross cultural cuisine club is dismissed...forever.
[ • Kira: *wipes mouth with napkin, not-so-secretively depositing the food, and downs the whole glass*
[ • Kira: Agreed. Waiter! I need a drink. And one for her.
•The underground has mostly been targeted and locked away, however Kelile worms out of a guilty verdict and rises in the citizen's brigade's ranks. He begins to cause trouble for Dana and Tilahun.
• Before Kira leaves, she also jokingly salutes "Kahadi" Dana. Dana salutes back, seriously, taking the name in stride. Kira notices she's serious: "You do know that Kahadi means 'Traitor,' right?" Dana goes blanche white.
• Kelile finds that most of his attempts to use the Citizen's Brigade to dive out Dana are deflected. He's praised for his good work, though, especially his intelligence and trading networks as part of the underground.
• 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 leads to a long talk, and a good reminisce for both of them. The officer and the grunt, fraternizing - while it's forbidden in RINC military culture, it's not in Zakiri. They've both adjusted to life here. At least military life.
Act IV – Exclave
• 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 Tilahun's reports backing up without as much feedback as the war effort gets more intense
• Tilahun prepares to go back on the front lines as the war is starting to need troops. He has trouble getting out to them though as the resources to get him out of Gafana are all being used in the Eastern Front.
• Tilahun specifically corners Kelile, tells him he knows about his complicity in firebombing the bistro and how he was a member of the underground. Kelile becomes defensive, but Tilahun tells him he doesn't care about what he's done, but what he can do. Kelile has a lot of contacts in the area from his days in the underground. Gefanna needs supplies and weapons. Help us get both, and we'll forget anything else you've done before today. Kelile agrees. Tilahun returns to Dana: "If you'd done that to him, he'd have probably fire bombed the place again."
• The last package they recieve from the Zakiri Defence Directorate contains nearly six months of antidote, as well as three synthesis machines for making it. Tilahun is the first one to realize what this means: "We're on our own."
• Dana and Tilahun are taking stock of their supplies and trying to figure out how long they could hold out alone in a siege. Dana can't figure out how to make supplies last, or make Gefanna self-sustaining for more than a few weeks without Zakiri supplies. She wants to declare martial law, mainly because she wants to enforce rationing and peacekeeping. Tilahun disagrees completely: "Declare martial law, and while some may follow it, you're going to chafe a lot of people's freedoms in the name of hoping we can live on our own." When Tilahun expresses an opinion about seeking outside non-Zakiri help, she mentions that could have ramifications to the Zakiri nation. It's Kelile who chimes in: "You're still thinking of us as a nation, we're not. We're an alliance. We can act on our own if we need to, and I really think we need to."
Act V- Voices of Authority
•Dana and a decent sized force has found a hidden camp (revealed by intelligence from Kelile) that seems to be a major operation for the Zoners in the area. She sends Twelve into recon the area. Twelve gets some fantastic info but is destroyed by an RPG. Dana yelps for a moment before regaining her compuser (or so we think). She turns to one of her most trusted men: "Adam. When you get through down there, I don't want a single blade of grass standing, two pieces of wood nailed together, or anything alive down there." The group begins an attack which is pretty much a holding action, until heavier forces come in, destroying the camp utterly.
•Kelile and Tilahun confront her about this. Tilahun mentions that the Zoner's may see this as Gefanna's first offensive attack, and while that will put an end to the probing attacks, it will end only because they're going to take us out with what they have. Kelile mentions that the attack took out some of the armory, but the independent areas around them are scared to trade with them, lest the Zoners trace it back to them. They're kinda screwed.
•Dana to Tilahun, silently, seriously and with a crapload of anger behind her measured voice: "This is why we don't fraternize with the enlisteds."
•Dana and Tilahun are topside again, with her radio. They tunes to a specific frequency, tuning to the sound of slow methodical warbling tones, five in all repeating three times. The tones stop and and a mechanized voice comes out. "ATTENTION. ATTENTION. ATTENTION." The coded signals play and spill out their undecodable numbers, except there are lots of mentions of "7974." The code ends with "END. END. END." She turns to Tilahun - this isn't a message FOR me, it's ABOUT me. And if they were just reporting that I was dead, I woudln't have gotten five different messages with "7974" in them over the last week. The RINC army is on it's way here, either to rescue me, or capture me.
• 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, the Zoners are 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 Zoners 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 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 Zoners 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 Zoners 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, Kelile and Tilahun look at each other, take a quick moment to compose themselves, and walk out, exposed and weaponless, towards the army, stopping halfway. The approaching RINC forces pause. She shouts "I am Kahadi Dana Medina, of the free city of Gafana." Tilahun 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." Kelile looks at the advance scout: "I know a great restaurant you're gonna love." 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 Zoners army away, just by showing up. Had the RINCs decided to attack the city, or killed her/Tilahun 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, _Kahadi_ 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. Tilahun steps down as the crisis lessens, and things return mostly to normal. The Zoner raids still occur, but at a much lower, smaller rate. Dana remains the military adviser for Gefanna voluntarily, and also acts as liason to the RINC forces occupying the area (Tilahun being the Zakiri liason). They're both very insistent on Gefanna not being aligned in the RINC/Zakiri war, however. They'll both help anyone with a legitimate need.
• 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.