World War: Campaign for Eastland
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
The tension in the confab room was at an all time high. With the second day of the shelling of Sadre, it was expected that a number of villages might react violently. Bomber strike forces were in the air ready to respond on a moment’s notice. The town watches waited for any sign of trouble.
When Sword Jana suddenly swore, the entire confab room went quiet. She shouted, “Swords! Shields! Carts! Hearths! Listen to me! There has been a rape in Danib! Our contract with Danib is at risk.”
Like flicking a switch, the mood in the room shifted from worried tension to outright anger. It must be noted that this was the first time that a Jade Force contract was at a real risk of being broken and for good reason. The penalties for violating a contract were horrendous.
As one, the Jade Warriors said, “We live and die by the contract.”
Sword Jana said, “I need three Carts to fly the helicopters. I need six Shields and eleven Swords. I need four Hearths, two females with rape treatment experience and two to build a cross. We fly in five minutes to Danib.”
Soldiers who witnessed the Jade Warriors leaving the Confab building would tell of the fury on the faces of the Jade Warriors. It was frightening to observe. They couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to face it directly.
Sergeant Hamilton watched the monitors with a worried expression on his face. The men of the town were outside. They were armed and they were angry. Even he felt they had every right to be angry.
Lieutenant Williams sat at his desk waiting for a reply to his message. He was disappointed when it came. He had hoped for something that provided a bit more guidance than what he got. His training hadn’t covered this kind of situation.
“Sword Jana is coming. She’ll be here in thirty five minutes.”
One of the privates said, “They’re sending only one Jade Warrior? We’re dead.”
Sergeant Hamilton snapped, “Be quiet. They’re sending a Jade Warrior. That is significant. Those folks out there will see that the Jade Empire takes these things seriously.”
“Only one Jade Warrior?”
Lieutenant Williams looked at the wall where a copy of the contract with the town of Danib hung. He read it carefully. He read it again, searching for an answer in it. He sat up suddenly.
“We have thirty minutes to prepare for Sword Jana’s arrival. I want a table or desk ready to be carried out front. We’ll need a chair for her. Sergeant, take care of that while I talk to the men outside.”
“Are you crazy? Those men out there are looking at this building with murder in mind!”
“No. I am an officer of the Barmud Army. My current duty is to represent the Jade Empire. If I don’t handle this correctly, Jade Force will hang each and every one of us.”
“Why would they hang us?” one of the privates asked.
“The contract,” Lieutenant Williams answered pointing to the wall on which a copy hung. “Read it.”
“I’ve read it.”
“Read it again.”
He retired to his room. He came out several minutes later wearing his full dress uniform, complete with sword. He was freshly shaved and his hair combed. He looked every bit of an officer. He walked to the front door and opened it. He was facing a sheet of iron.
“Sergeant, open the awning.”
The men outside tensed when the awning started to open. They readied their weapons and took cover expecting the worst. As the awning slowly rose, it was soon obvious that only one man stood at the open door. It was a slow reveal, starting from his shoes on up. Based on the clothes, he was not there to fight. It did nothing to reduce their anger, but it did diminish their rush to violence.
Lieutenant Williams waited for the awning to fully open before stepping out of the office. He marched directly to the father of the woman who had been raped. He stopped and stood at attention.
“Sir. Are you Mister Arash Issa?”
Rather confused by the formality of address and suspicious of what it meant, Arash answered, “Yes.”
In a formal, almost ritualistic, tone of voice, Lieutenant Williams said, “There has been a criminal charge leveled against a man in my command. It has been reported that he committed an unconscionable act of violence upon a young woman by the name of Mahalath daughter of Arash. I have arrested the man whom I believe committed the assault, so that he can stand trial in a manner consistent with the laws of the Jade Empire.”
“I want the man who attacked my daughter killed.”
“The punishment for the crime he has been accused of, is death. If he is convicted, then he will die.”
“Will you represent Mahalath daughter of Arash in this matter?”
Considering that he expected the invaders to deny the charges, Arash wasn’t quite sure how to answer. What exactly did it mean to represent her? He was her father. He looked over at his father, who nodded his head.
He said, “Yes.”
“Excellent, Sir. Will you choose three men of honest and moral character to serve as witnesses that justice is done?”
That request took everyone by surprise. It really appeared as if these people were taking the charges seriously.
“What does that mean?”
“I am asking you to select three men who will watch the trial. If the suspect is found guilty, they are to watch the execution. They are to serve as witnesses. They will testify to any man who asks, as to the fairness of the trial, the correctness of the verdict, and that an appropriate punishment is applied. Will you choose three men?”
“What if they don’t think the trial is fair, the verdict incorrect, or that the punishment was insufficient?”
“Then that is what they will tell any who ask. Will you choose three men?”
“In approximately twenty minutes, Sword Jana shall arrive here. She will act as Judge ... Jury ... and Executioner; in compliance with the contract that exists between the people of Danib, and the Jade Empire. Justice shall be served. The contract will be honored.”
Kardal Issa, the town leader and grandfather to the woman who had been raped, said, “That is all we ask.”
“Excellent. Mister Arash Issa, if you would be so kind as to select three witnesses to justice, I shall attend to arranging things for the hearing.”
Kardal asked, “Excuse me, Lieutenant Williams. Exactly where will this hearing take place?”
“It will take place right here, Sir. Any who wish to observe the proceedings are welcome. Jade Force honors its contracts openly and publicly.”
“I expect Sword Jana in about fifteen minutes. She will start the proceedings immediately.”
The old man smiled. It was a wicked little smile. Then he said, “I have a problem with that.”
Taken by surprise, Lieutenant Williams asked, “What kind of problem do you have, Sir?”
“This space is not sufficient to hold all of the people who will wish to attend. Also, it will take more than fifteen minutes for them to get here.”
Lieutenant Williams understood this was a direct challenge to his command and the integrity of the Jade Empire. He said, “How long do you think it will take for them to get here?”
“I can not make any promises on behalf of Sword Jana, but I will let her know that you would prefer if the trial were to take place at...” He checked his watch. “at two.”
“You can’t make any promises on behalf of Sword Jana?” the old man asked slyly.
“I can no more make promises on her behalf, than your grandson could make promises on your behalf. She is a Jade Warrior. I am a simple soldier.”
“I understand. I think I would tan the hide off a grandson who committed me to something I was not willing to do.”
“However, I do believe that Sword Jana will find your request quite acceptable. I suggest that you send out word to all who may desire to attend.”
“Where would you like the hearing to take place?”
“In the field at the end of this road,” Kardal answered while gesturing down the street.
“So be it,” Lieutenant Williams said.
Based on the size of the field, he knew that Kardal was going to call in everyone from the surrounding towns. He figured they could expect twelve to fifteen thousand to show up. He prayed that he had not exceeded his authority.
He returned to the office.
One of the privates said, “We read the contract. They’re going to execute us.”
“That’s enough of that, Private. You did not read the contract. If you did, then you didn’t understand it.”
“I might not be a lawyer, but I know what I read. I don’t want to die because of that f•©khead.”
“If you want to live, here’s what you are going to do. You are going to carry that table and chair down to the field at the end of the road. You will return here and get into your dress uniform. Then we will wait outside for Sword Jana to arrive.”
Sergeant Hamilton waited until the men were taking the table and chair to the field. He said, “I read it and we’re going to die.”
“Sergeant, read the contract. The punishment for a town when one of us is injured or killed in an attack is extreme, to say the least. It is unfair in many ways, but it serves a purpose. That purpose is to protect us. The towns have learned that lesson quite thoroughly.
“The towns, on the other hand, have the same need for protection, protection from us. The punishment for us if we attack and kill one of them is just as extreme as the punishment they would bear. The purpose is to protect them. They have not learned that we will respect that purpose.
“The extreme nature of the punishment is unfair. We can’t hold a town responsible for the actions of a loose cannon. The towns have an out, in case one of their own commits a crime against one of us. That is the ‘local punishment’ clause. What does the contract say about local punishment, Sergeant?”
Sergeant Hamilton said, “It says that if they capture the guilty party, and punish them to our satisfaction, that the town will not be punished.”
“That is what we want. We want them to enforce the laws themselves, so that we do not have to do it for them. What are we doing, here and now?”
“I get it,” Sergeant Hamilton said.
Lieutenant Williams waited outside of the office. Sergeant Hamilton and two of the privates waited with him. All of them came to attention when the three helicopters landed in the field. Lieutenant Williams was shocked by the number of Jade Warriors exiting the helicopters. He’d only expected Sword Jana. He gave another prayer that he had not exceeded his authority, and that his understanding of the contract was correct.
Seeing how many Jade Warriors there were, the two privates muttered that they were going to die. Sergeant Hamilton barked, “HUTTENSHUN!”
Everyone in town watched Sword Jana lead eleven other Swords, three Shields, and two Hearths down the street to where Lieutenant Williams waited. She was surprised that the town was as calm as it was. She had expected at least a mini-riot to be taking place.
She stopped in front of the Lieutenant. He saluted. She gave a short nod of her head. He ended the salute.
“Lieutenant Williams. You requested my immediate presence. Why?”
“There has been a charge of rape leveled against a man in my command. It was reported that he committed an unconscionable act of violence upon a young woman by the name of Mahalath daughter of Arash. I placed him under arrest, and then called you to adjudicate the matter.”
“What do you do after that?”
“I explained to the father of the victim that I had arrested a man, and that I was holding him for a hearing. Knowing that women are not allowed to represent themselves, I asked him if he would represent his daughter in the hearing. He agreed to do so. I asked him to select three men as witnesses to the justice. He agreed to do so. I then discussed arrangements with the town elder concerning the specifics of the hearing. He requested that it be held in the field at the end of this street, at a time when all who wanted to attend could be here. It was agreed upon that two o’clock would be a reasonable time. I told him that I would inform you of his request, but that granting it was at your discretion.”
“Tell the town elder that the time and place is satisfactory.”
Lieutenant Williams turned to Kardal and said, “The hearing shall take place as you requested.”
“Introduce me to the victim’s father.”
Lieutenant Williams led her over to Arash. They were followed by two Hearths. The man watched the approach of the Jade Warriors nervously.
He said, “This gentleman is Mr. Arash Issa. He is the father of the victim.”
“Mr. Arash Issa, I am Sword Jana. With me is Hearth Angelina and Hearth Chou. They are trained in treating injuries sustained by women as a result of brutal assaults. They treated many women in Palarma who suffered at the hands of radicals. I assure you they are very gentle and respectful. I offer you their services.”
“Will they be alone with my daughter?”
“The women of your household should attend, to witness any and all treatments.”
“Abdul. Take them to the house. Tell your mother these two are there to provide medical care to Mahalath, and that she is to watch them. You are to stay there and respond if they call out for help.”
“Mr. Arash Issa, there is one more small matter.”
“What?” he asked suspiciously.
“Was it only one man who assaulted your daughter?”
“That is what she said.”
“Thank you.” Sword Jana turned to the other Jade Warriors. She held up a single finger. “One.”
Three Jade Warriors headed back to the helicopter. She turned back to the father and said, “I thank you for your restraint. After this is over, I would appreciate a few moments of your time.”
“We will see.”
Sword Jana turned to the town elder. “Lieutenant, would you introduce us?”
“This is Mr. Kardal Issa. He’s the town elder. This is Sword Jana.”
“The idea of a woman fighting offends me,” Kardal said bluntly.
Sword Jana said, “The idea of anyone having to fight, offends me. Until Jarjan decrees otherwise, there will be war, and people who fight in wars.”
“You are a follower of Jarjan?”
“No, you are. It is his decree you would accept.”
“So what do you want?”
“It will be lunchtime soon. You have people traveling from far away to be here for the trial. I can arrange to have food brought here so that the women of your town can feed those who come here.”
“I had not thought of that. It would be good of you to do so.”
Turning to her Warriors, she said, “Tell Hearth Maria that we need food for twelve thousand.”
“She’ll need all three helicopters.”
Two Swords headed toward the helicopters. She was already talking to someone back at the base about arranging for the quantity of food necessary to feed that many people.
Kardal asked, “Why are you doing all this?”
“Coming here for a trial and providing food. Are you trying to buy us?”
In a cold hard voice, Sword Jana answered, “I am a Jade Warrior. Jade Warriors do not start wars, we end them. We did not declare war on the world, it declared war on us. Ulamb was one of the countries that declared war on us. That is the only reason we are here. We did not set out to be conquerors.
“In fighting this war, we signed a contract with you. You agreed not to fight us and we agreed not to fight you. We live and die by the contract.
“Now a man we put here caused harm to one of your people. That threatens the integrity of the contract. We will live up to our side of the contract or die trying. At this moment in time, there is nothing more important in all of Ulamb, than preserving that contract!
“I said before that the idea of anyone having to fight offends me. If the contract remains intact, then when tomorrow dawns – you will not be fighting us, and we will not be fighting you.
“Does that answer your question?”
“Yes,” Kardal said taken aback by the force behind her words.
At two o’clock the field at the edge of town was filled to over flowing. It was doubtful that even one out of a hundred people could hear what was being said at the table where Sword Jana was seated. That was okay, since they weren’t there to hear what was said. They were there to see what happened. Some had brought cameras to record the events. No one had any real guesses as to what would happen.
It was a strange mood. Those gathered were convinced that they were about to see their belief that the Jade Empire was evil proven by failing to deliver justice. There was a sense that this situation was about to set events into motion that would result in the destruction of the Jade Empire. After all, wasn’t history replete with examples where powerful forces did that one little wrong thing that led to a major uprising that destroyed it?
If they were expecting a show trial they were sadly disappointed, or perhaps they weren’t.
Sword Jana sat at the table resplendent in her armor. Mahalath, wearing an outfit that covered her with just enough of her face visible to show bruises, was seated in a chair next to her father. To the side were three old men who were serving as witnesses to justice. Lieutenant Williams stood beside the table ramrod stiff with his men behind him. Two Swords stood behind them. Private Herd, the accused, was standing at the other end of the table with two Swords standing behind him.
“I am Sword Jana. I am a Jade Warrior. I am here today as Judge, Jury, and Executioner.”
She stood up and walked over to Arash Issa. In a voice loud enough to carry to the witnesses, she asked, “Does Mahalath claim that she was raped?”
“Does she know who did it?”
“That man over there.”
“Is there anything you think I should know?”
“Mahalath was standing at the gate to the house waiting for her mother so they could go to the market. That man grabbed her, dragged her away, beat her, and violated her. He’s a dog. He’s the dirt on the bottom of my shoe.”
“Thank you. I get the idea that you don’t think very highly of him.”
Sword Jana leaned down to Mahalath and asked, “Your father is speaking for you. Are there any details you haven’t told him that I should know?”
“No,” the woman whispered while holding her head down in shame.
Sword Jana walked over to the three men and said, “The woman says her father is speaking as she would speak.”
She walked over to Lieutenant Williams and asked, “Why did you arrest Private Herd for this crime?”
“Private Herd went out alone this morning for a walk like he does every morning. He returned twenty minutes later than usual. His uniform was dirty and disheveled. He bore scratches across his face. He gave the appearance that he had been in fight.
“I assumed that he had gotten into a fight. I questioned him. He replied that he had fallen into some bushes. He didn’t look to me like he had suffered a misadventure with uneven ground and bushes. Having been an active child, I know from experience that falling into bushes produces scrapes and gouges on all exposed skin, and not just four scratches across the face.
“I had Sergeant Hamilton lock him into the room we have for a holding cell. I went out to determine what had actually happened. I hadn’t stepped ten feet from the office before I overheard men talking angrily about how one of my men had raped Mahalath.”
“Did you investigate further?”
“No. I thought it best to return to the office. I didn’t want my men increasing tensions with their presence in public.”
“I’m curious. What did you do next?”
“I activated the defense and reported the crime to you.”
“Why did you activate the defenses? Were you afraid?”
“I thought that if we were behind the defensive barrier that even if the men in town got angry enough to fire upon us, that no one else would be injured. As long as no one was injured, then we could minimize the impact on the people of this town.”
“You said no one else would be injured. Who was injured?”
She walked over to the witnesses of justice and asked, “Have you been able to hear everything said so far?”
“Yes,” the men answered almost as one.
“Do you need anyone to repeat anything they’ve said?”
Sword Jana went over to where Hearth Angelina and Hearth Chou were standing. “You treated Mahalath. Did she have injuries consistent with rape?”
“She was definitely beaten and raped. The injuries are quite extensive,” Hearth Chou answered.
“I concur,” Hearth Angelina said.
Sword Jana returned to Arash. She asked, “Did your daughter say that she scratched her attacker?”
“She told me that she fought him. She scratched his face. She bit his hand.”
Sword Jana went over to Private Herd. She grabbed his hand and looked at it. “There appears to be a bite mark on your hand. There are scratches on your face. Can you explain them?”
“I tripped and fell into some bushes.”
“I don’t see any scrapes from falling.”