Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Syria

Syria

On the 7th of May 2035, the Secretary General of the Coalition reportedly died from unknown causes. Two weeks after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization received word of his demise, mixed contingents of Canadian, American, Spanish, British and Italian soldiers invaded France in order to further damage the Coalition's chain of command.

These news prompted most of the member countries of the Coalition to become active participants in the war as opposed to mere suppliers of weapons and fuel. France's infrastructure was severely damaged by a fierce war waged within its borders, but the French ultimately managed to defend themselves admirably with the assistance of foreign troops. These troops had been provided by countries who used to belong to the defunct Warsaw Pact, such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

The deceased Secretary General of the Coalition was quickly replaced by a young military genius, Dr. Marie Goddard. A graduate from the Doctor of Philosophy in War Studies program at the Royal Military College of Canada, her strategic insights were invaluable in the defense of the French Republic. While Allied troops remain in France to this day, Paris has not yet fallen to its enemies.

NATO recognized that the assistance of former Warsaw Pact signatories was a crucial factor in the failure to seize the French capital and subsequently enlarged its theater of operations eastward. On the 3rd of June 2035, Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian and Bulgarian troops marched on Belarus and Ukraine with the intention of encircling Russia.

While the Coalition defended France, Ukraine and Belarus from NATO's attacks, the organization also expanded its area of operations into the Middle East, as per Dr. Goddard's orders. The Coalition intended to cripple NATO's capabilities by dominating a resource needed to fuel aircraft, tanks and other vehicles: oil. Economic warfare and the monopoly of scarce resources became a legitimate way of winning the conflict.

To this end, the Coalition used a mixture of diplomacy and force. Some governments, such as those of Iran and Iraq, agreed to provide the Coalition with cheap fuel while increasing world prices for oil. While Dr. Goddard wished to capitalize on latent anti-American sentiment in the region, she also recognized that certain countries would be unwilling to collaborate with her scheme. On the 20th of June 2035, Coalition troops launched military operations against countries that were traditionally seen as American allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Middle-eastern countries that were unaligned in the war were infiltrated by Coalition soldiers with the intent of eventually seizing their natural resources by force if the need arose. In the beginning of July 2035, two respected soldiers of the Coalition were ordered to infiltrate Syria, one of these unaligned nations, in order to gauge the country's military capabilities. These two officers were also given another special task to accomplish...

* * *
City of Quneitra, Syria, Friday July 6th, 2035

Derrick Schröder stood atop a medical facility within the Syrian city of Quneitra, accompanied by Vanyusha Belyakov, his Russian partner. Before long, he walked to the edge of the roof and sat, fatigued from the dryness and heat of the middle-eastern country's warm summer days. He had scanned the ruined city from the top of this building since the early hours of the morning, but the location he chose to do so offered him no refuge from the sun's rays. Panting and sweating, he removed his sleeveless jersey and laid it on the ground besides him.

"It's so hot out here...", he complained to his partner as he looked up to small birds roaming free in Syria's cloudless blue sky.

Vanyusha, the Russian man who accompanied the German soldier on this mission, seemed oblivious to the heat and felt no need to remove the long trench coat covering his body. He simply grinned and playfully fiddled with his handguns as he looked at his German comrade with eyes concealed behind brown locks of hair.

"How can you wear that?", Derrick asked as he glanced over his shoulder to his partner, wondering how the gunman's long coat did not yet sentence him to hyperthermia. "And it's so dry... If I don't drink water soon, I'm going to die!"

After the Russian man approached his partner, both soldiers looked down to the streets below and saw a group of children dancing and prancing around a young lady. The Syrian woman created water out of thin air and sprayed the young boys and girls around her with it. As the azure liquid gushed to the sky and fell down on them like rain, the young ones sang and praised the benevolent woman who made it all possible. The comely wizardess simply responded with a wide grin drawn on her tender lips.

"So she's the one?", Derrick asked his partner, looking at the scene the children were making.

"Yes", Vanyusha replied. "That woman possesses the Elemental Organic, that's why she's able to create water in such a dry environment. We have to either capture or eliminate her."

Derrick watched the children some more as they celebrated the miracle of water, then stared at the lovely figure of the woman they were assigned to eliminate. An innocent smile brightened her alluring face as it basked in the light of the sun.

"Splendid", the soldier simply said, his heart flinching for the elegant goddess. The Russian man produced an inquisitive sound with his throat as he wondered what his partner had meant by that comment. "I just can't bring myself to harm someone like that", Derrick explained. "Let me try to talk to her, maybe she'll come with us without a fight."

"You just want her for yourself", the Muscovite soldier replied with his usual smile while he continued to play with his guns.

"Maybe", Derrick admitted, still enthralled by the beauty of the person who had captured his interest moments before.

* * *

The night finally fell on the city of Quneitra, covering everything under the clouds with its shadowy cloak. Derrick sat on rubble at the exact location where children had celebrated hours ago and looked skyward, to the bright stars above. Before long, a captivating Syrian woman with long brown hair approached him. It was the goddess who had stolen his heart long before the coming of dusk.

"It's nice out, isn't it?", the blond man asked the girl in an attempt to spur a conversation.

"Who are you?", the woman asked with a frown, wary of a person who was evidently not from these parts. His hair color, skin tone and accent indicated he was a foreigner.

"I'm shocked!", the young man exclaimed in jest as he looked at his comely interlocutor. "And I know all about you! You're the goddess who gives water to the children of this city."

The woman did not seem to lend her trust easily to any stranger, and so the German soldier endeavoured to make up a story to ease her worries. "I'm just a European traveller who wanted to know more about the Middle East. When I heard people were living in Quneitra, I just had to come here and see how that was possible. I mean, how can you live in a city the Syrian government refuses to rebuild?"

"You're wrong", the woman with a tanned skin told the German soldier as she sat next to him, on the pile of debris. "The Syrian government did eventually agree to rebuild this place after being pressured by the families living here."

While she looked up to the golden celestial bodies illuminating the night sky, the man's attention shifted to the brightest star in his sight, the woman he had come to know by the name of Ishtar.

"It's been so long", the woman reminisced history lessons she learned as a child. "The city was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. Syria retook control of it during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, but when Israel counterattacked, they completely destroyed the city."

"And the Syrian government has refused to rebuild it ever since", the German soldier completed her thoughts.

"But that's stupid, don't you think?", the woman asked the man who had successfully passed himself as a mere traveller. "For many years, they used our city to damage Israel's reputation, but there are real families living here, including women and children", she explained to Derrick while intently staring into his blue eyes.

"When I was about 10 years old they came around and agreed to rebuild", she continued. "It's not as modern as other Syrian cities, but it's better than it used to be. Eventually peacekeepers from the United Nations left as well and we finally obtained a semblance of a normal life."

They both continued to stare into each other's eyes. While Derrick had already lost his heart to her charms, he was surprised to find out she did not hate his appearance either. "It's rare to see blue eyes like these around here", the woman said with a warm smile.

"So that's a yes to my unasked question, then?", the soldier asked her playfully.

The young woman rose to her feet and laughed heartily before giving him one final glance. "You're funny, I'll give you that!" On those words, she walked away and disappeared into the darkness of the night.

Derrick simply sat there and thought about the conversation they just had. There was no reason for this woman to be a victim of this war. If he could manage to earn her trust, he would protect her from the violence and pain his superiors held in store for her.

* * *

City of Quneitra, Syria, Saturday July 7th, 2035

"So how did your date go yesterday?", Vanyusha asked his German partner as he drove a black car across the city's streets.

"I don't understand why they ordered us to capture or kill her, Vanyusha", Derrick said after taking a few sips of his water bottle. His forehead was covered with sweat. "I'm pretty sure this woman would follow me back to Germany if I asked her. Then scientists could study her Organic while she continues to live peacefully, don't you think?"

The Russian man did not answer; he simply grinned and kept on driving the car. Derrick looked outside the vehicle's open windows at a city that had been rebuilt into a peaceful haven. As the car drove by, he looked at the town's children while they danced around the angel who brought them an infinite supply of cold water. Knowing her fate was in his hands, he considered his options. Could he not do something to avoid unnecessary bloodshed? Could he not save her?

Hours later, Derrick sat next to Ishtar on the same pile of rubble where they rested their weary bodies the day before and reveled upon seeing the glittering stars embellishing the night sky. The brown-haired woman laughed heartily upon hearing a story from the German soldier. She enjoyed his company and finally seemed to trust him.

"And then what happened?", the girl asked, wishing to know more about the traveller's exciting adventures.

"Well, what do you think happened?", he was about to finish his tale. "I passed out! The human body can only go so far without water..."

She laughed again at the misfortune he endured while journeying across her home country. The story he told her about his adaptation to middle-eastern culture when he first landed in the city of Damascus had been particularly entertaining. Her laughter concealed the sincere compassion she felt for him as she learned how he suffered from her country's dryness and heat. After she gently brought one hand closer to his mouth, water appeared on the surface of her palm and flowed endlessly thereafter.

"How did you learn to do that?", he asked after drinking from the water she offered him until he was satiated.

"Oh I'm not the one doing it", she explained while staring into the man's mysterious blue eyes. "When I was little, my parents gave me this jewel, you see", she said as she showed to the man a gem held within a small wooden box attached to her bracelet. The gem hung from her wrist like an ornament. "Ever since I got this, I've been able to create water just by thinking about it!"

"The gem also gave me the ability to control the weather at times, although I'm not that good with it yet", she went on. "It's been a great help for the people of this town!"

Her eyes wandered away from his for a moment, as if a sudden melancholy swept through her heart. "The power came with a steep price, however..."

"A price?", the German soldier repeated.

The woman did not speak a word and kept staring away from him. He could not bear to see her this sorrowful and endeavoured to cheer her up. Caressing the intricate tattoo drawn on her left arm, he incited her to look at him once more. He stared at her with the blue eyes she found so captivating, then brought his lips closer to hers and kissed her. She tenderly stroked the man's nape with her hand and passionately returned the kiss, her eyes sparkling with the same shining light as the stars above them.

* * *

City of Quneitra, Syria, Sunday July 8th, 2035

Derrick Schröder walked across the streets of Quneitra, delighted by the night of romance he had spent with the Syrian woman he now valued as his dulcinea. Tonight, he would ask her to come with him to Germany. Surely she would agree to see a world outside of the one she has seen since her childhood.

She did not seem to be around today, but the children did not mind. They played with one another in the empty streets of a hometown they had grown to love.

He waited for her to arrive, but she did not come. He waited for hours and observed the area until night covered his surroundings with blackness. Looking to the stars above, he wondered why she did not appear at the same time they had met for the past two days. Was it something he said?

He also wondered why he had not seen his Russian partner today.

The blond soldier recalled the woman once said she spent time at the mosque when she was not playing with the children. Perhaps she had decided to stay there today instead of enduring the torrid weather outside. He decided to pay her a visit and walked to the mosque.

As he opened the gate to the place of worship, an unfortunate surprise awaited him.

His ladylove was lying unconscious on the ground, in the middle of the mosque's prayer hall. Fearing for the worst, he rapidly ran to her side and knelt next to her. He first caressed the tattoo drawn on her arm as he did the night before, but his touch did not wake her from her slumber.

Under the young man's guidance, the woman lay on her back; it was then the blond soldier saw bloodstains on her jacket. Touching the flesh underneath her soiled clothes, he noticed she had been wounded by a bullet.

"Glad you could finally make it, Derrick", a voice came from the shadows and echoed throughout the prayer hall. The German soldier looked in front of him and recognized the silhouette of his Russian partner amidst the darkness of the room.

"Vanyusha, what is the meaning of this?", Derrick yelled angrily. "Why did you attack her, I said I was taking care of it!"

"So you did, but I could not agree with your methods", the Russian soldier replied. "We are normal human beings, Derrick, and she is a magic user. We are not meant to coexist. She is a menace to mankind. She's able to control the weather with her sheer will, and you would just have her walk around freely?"

"She's a good person, Vanyusha!", Derrick's enraged voice thundered across the room.

"We are Organic Slayers, Derrick!", Vanyusha tried to persuade his fellow soldier. "We are supposed to exterminate Organic holders, not fall in love with them! Did you think I was just going to let this happen, comrade?"

"So that's... what it is...", Ishtar's trembling voice surprised both soldiers. She regained consciousness and overheard their conversation. She now knew the truth about the man who had gained her trust and felt betrayed. "You lied to me..."

Derrick was overjoyed to see her alive, but knew he would have to work diligently to earn her favors once more. He immediately tried to appease her anger by lending her his assistance. "Ishtar, listen to me! We have to get you to a medical facility right now!"

"You were a soldier all this time", the woman told him with a scowl as she pushed his hand away from her arm. "My jewel was the only thing you ever wanted from me!"

"Ishtar, that's not true!", Derrick shouted frantically. "You're not being fair! You must believe me, I love you!"

"I despise you", the woman replied while staring intently into blue eyes she now hated with a passion.

The German soldier soon felt the room's temperature increase drastically. Looking in front of him, he noticed his Russian partner had set the entire room on fire. Oil had been spilled on the floor prior to Derrick's arrival; Vanyusha merely ignited the flames with a lighter. Derrick knew the Syrian woman had no chance of surviving her bullet wounds. The Russian soldier intended to burn her body and dispose of all evidence surrounding the circumstances of her death, a necessary precaution to avoid the prying eyes of the Syrian government.

The brown-haired Muscovite officer turned around and disappeared into the shadows, leaving only words of warning behind. "Get out of this place now if you value your life. She can stay behind, she's already dead."

Dumbfounded, the German soldier paused to consider the difficult situation he was embroiled in before hearing Ishtar's last words.

"You want this gem so badly", the woman said with bitter hatred flaring in her eyes. "Well here it is, and don't you ever let go!"

She clasped the man's ankle with her hand before drawing her last breath. As her lifeless arm fell to the ground, the gem housed within the small wooden box attached to her wristlet vanished. Suddenly, a circlet appeared around the neck of the German soldier with the mysterious gem encrusted in the ornament.

Derrick now understood what Ishtar meant the day before by a steep price. In a single instant, he felt the pain and suffering of the entire planet as it endured the fires of war. Every loss of life, every scar caused by the quarrels of man, every injury suffered by the victims of the conflict, it all became a heavy burden to be carried on his fragile shoulders. Overwhelmed, the blond man fell to his knees. Truly Ishtar had bestowed upon him the ultimate curse...

His hands lying on the ground, his back arched, the soldier panted and sweated. With a single thought, the flames around him disappeared. He looked at the peaceful face of the woman he once loved, knowing he was now the one to carry her legacy.

* * *

City of Quneitra, Syria, Monday July 9th, 2035

Derrick stood in the midst of a group of children. They danced and sang his praises as he created crystalline water for them to drink. They celebrated the miracles he made with the help of the jewel that now encircled his neck. After burying the corpse of his ladylove the night before, he felt those children depended on him for their well-being.

But it was more than that. Looking up to the clear blue sky, he wondered what was going to happen to him... He had become one of them, the people Vanyusha clearly said could not coexist with normal humans. It was only a matter of time before he too would be hunted by the very individuals he used to call his friends.

--
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Gary Germeil, M. Sc. Publisher, www.organics-eternal-love-story.com

I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I wrote a first series of short stories entitled Organics: Eternal Love Story while an art student at Marie-Victorin College.

That degree was later complemented with a Bachelor of Commerce at Concordia University and a Master of Science in electronic commerce at HEC Montreal, earning me membership into Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society, Golden Key International and Le Réseau HEC.

I have written over a hundred short stories since 1992. The main concepts behind the world of Organics: Eternal Love Story were created in 1998 and have inspired my work ever since then.

I now feel the world of Organics: Eternal Love Story should be shared through this electronic publication. I invite other authors to contribute to this shared setting in their own way.

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