"Major General Qahira, are you aware that for striking a superior officer you could be court martialed and then shot?"
Ras Qahira nodded.
"What was that, major general, I didn't quite hear you?"
"Yes, sir, I am aware of that!" Qahira barked out.
"Good. And what do you think of that?"
"Sir, I think that if the Egyptian military thinks the best place for it's generals in war time is under the ground, that is it's decision."
"Very good answer. Since you are aware of what was wrong with your actions, and since you are quite right that we need generals at the moment, I do not think it is necessary to court martial you."
"What?" exclaimed Mubarak who was standing nearby and glaring at Qahira with his black eye.
"You heard me, General Mubarak," the African Coalition Forces Commander, a Kenyan, said, "There will be no court martial."
"Thank you, sir," said Qahira with a smile of relief.
"This can not be left unpunished. For that reason I am demoting you from major general to brigadier general. That may seem like a small penalty, and it is, but let me warn you," the ACFC said with a threatening tone in his voice, "If you step so much as a sand's breadth out of line ever again you will go to trial and this will be remembered, and you will be damned. Is that clear?"
"Very clear, sir."
"Good. As you know, we are locked in a death embrace with Middle Eastern mercenaries."
"Mercenaries," breathed Mubarak, "Is there any lower form of life?"
"I think not, General Mubarak, but that is hardly important. We are still under siege by them, and they are quite competent. Their leader is Fadla bint Tarriq, an able and brilliant general. Tarriq's troops are most definitely moving towards Cairo. I think all three of us know that Cairo is the center of the Coalition forces in Africa. If it is taken, we are all doomed.
"Brigadier General Qahira, I have seen your record. You are an excellent defensive commander. There are those who say you stick to a position like moss. I need you and the Rhinos in Cairo, Moss. We're going to need your expertise there. Go immediately."
"Yes, sir," said Qahira, saluting the ACFC.
"They've got no chance, ma'am. It's taken longer than expected, but we'll still inevitably take Cairo. My forces are closing on the outskirts of the city as we speak."
Tarriq was doubtful about the overly vivacious Qajar's appraisal, but she could hardly deny the mercenaries were doing excellent work. The African forces all seemed to be spread out and uncoordinated. It came from so many countries that had so many differences trying to work together. She turned to Mossad al-Xyz.
"What do you think, General al-Xyz?"
"The Africans fight well."
"Will Cairo be an easy fruit to pluck?"
"Not unless Allah takes a hand in it."
"You're far too pessimistic, al-Xyz," said Qajar, waving off the other's comment with his hand, "He's always underestimated our forces, supreme general. Cairo will be in our hands by...by the end of the week."
"General Qajar, considering all of your pompous posing and preening, I hope for your sake that you are right. Gentlemen, proceed on to Cairo. Remember that our money lies there."
Qajar and al-Xyz paid their respect to their mutual leader and left.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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