Finally get a text today about a major operation. At first it was nice to have some extra time for the gym, but as much as I love training the missions lately haven’t really been a challenge. Not that I want things to go badly for people, but helping, really helping people…
Anyway, we are off to Dubai to meet with the Cairo Branch’s Field Director Benjamin Graham. One of his agents Waharu Fazul has gone missing after finally tracking down more info on that drone transmission. That whole Arab Spring thing really fucked up their investigation. It’s good to hear they have it back under control.
The flight to Dubai takes a long time. I mainly just try to sleep, re-read the mission briefing and focus on how the hell I am going to survive some backwards ass bullshit in armpit of the world. The only bright spot is their crack down on booze. Maybe drying out a little will be good for certain members of the team.
We meet up with Field Director Graham. He seems quite progressive and maybe even a little ashamed of the situation in regards to Mia and I, but I fear my being on edge about the whole culture has me looking a bit like a bitch during the meeting. He suggests a place to get a headdress and after dinner Mia and I head over. The lady at the shop is pleasant enough and I got to admit I kind of like the whole hair covered and no make-up deal. That just seems like a time saver. I will just ignore the ignorance that is the reason for it and focus on it’s practical benefits.
Of course just as I start getting to a good head space we are thrown into a smaller terminal for our flight out to Kabul. It smells… bad… really fucking bad actually. Like a stale gym bag somebody shit in then left in the sun for a week. Jack seems to be finding it impossible to hide his disgust. Sal tried to help with some little magic deal that fizzles out, then just gives the guy some of that obnoxious breath spray.
On the plane we get separated into men and women. Mia and I get a row together and she insists on the isle seat, which I don’t really care. I just want to stare out the window and try to ignore the rest of the passengers anyway. My daydreams of a fresh cool breeze are interrupted by the voice of little girl talking excitedly at us. I turn and try to give her a polite, but dismissive smile but the little thing just gets more excited. Chatting away. I have no freakin’ idea what she is on about at first, but soon and to my horror I realize she is talking about how we are dressed and our… assets. I fold my hands in my lap and stare down at my feet.
Everyone else seems certain I will cause a scene, but fuck that. I will rise above this culture’s bullshit and do my job. The plane bounces suddenly and the little girl yelps and dives into Mia’s lap and grabs my hand. I just sort of.. quietly freak out. I know I am not supposed to touch men, but this one I have idea on this. I gently try to pull my hand away but she has that sort of death grip little kids can get. The little girl’s mother arrives and at first I am pleased, but this bitch lays into us. I don’t know what she is saying, but the tone is easy enough to get. She smacks the girls hand hard enough I am sure it will leave a bruise. I bite my lip damn near to the point of drawing blood and try my best to look apologetic to the woman. It’s impossible to read her reaction as her whole face is covered, but she keeps going off loudly in Arabic or whatever.
After that situation calms down, I notice an attempt at some sort psychic connection or attack. Mia seems to have noticed something but is oblivious to the extent. I focus try to push back a little and look around to see if i get a reaction. The little girl is staring at Mia and I. i look back at her, locking eyes and drop my defenses. I get sent s string of horrifying images that show her mother beating her for being inquisitive. Always making sure to not bring “shame” and leaving bruises where no one will see. Without think I ask Mia how to say “Allah knows you beat your child.” and Mia refuses.. which is probably the better course. But I can’t shake the feeling of needing to do something despite the danger it could place me and the team in. I focus on a victory in the ring and moments when the men in the team rely on me and try to use the little girls latent connection to send those thoughts to her. I think it works because after a moment of confusion she looks newly resolved. I try to take comfort in that.
We finally arrive in Kabul. The best way to describe this place is smelly, brown and hot. Our point of contact, John Smith, makes himself known quickly. We head to immigration. I am doing my best to just stare at the ground and being respectful, but the son of a bitch at the desk seems to enjoy abusing his moderate amount of power. He starts asking me what my hair color is, which I have no idea how to respond to in a way that doesn’t end up with me being stoned to death in the town square. Luckily Jack covers by putting his arm around me and giving a cover story of me being his wife. I just stare at ground and try to not make something nasty happen to this officer. The attention shifts to a bribe from John Smith and the guards focus goes to Mia, who manages an exit without a fight.
On the road we go through a couple of check points. It seems these can be somewhat identified by the consistency of gear and uniforms and bearing of the soldiers stationed there. Dickie kinda starts to lose his shit at one of them, but Sal works a little bit of his thing and we move on through. We pass a truck on the side of the road that seems to be having problems. Dickie and Smith seem to be on the same page about blowing past and I am relieved to not have to deal with more social interaction. Jack wants to stop and help and Smith points out that no-one is actually working on the truck even though it just appears to be a flat tire and there are numerous though seemingly unarmed men around it.
We go through a series of sharp turns and end up at another check point. This one seems far more haphazard than the rest and the soldiers are all dressed a little differently. Smith mumbles that this check point was not there on the way in.The tension in the truck grows as we are motioned to pull over. Sal tells him to step on it if the chain drops. I think we should slow play it and see what happens the safety briefing mentioned the terrorists or whatever up here are generally persuaded by money and bribe seems a lot better than a fight at this point. But the chain drops and Smith guns it. I look back and see the main guy kneeling and taking aim. I attempt to spark off a round in the magazine, but Sal starts going bat-shit crazy wailing about mother earth to help protect him and bullets smack into the side of the car. I start checking for hits and find I am alright… everyone is. The body of the truck must be armored and I duck down to take advantage of that. I look up quickly and notice a rock-slide has taken out one of the gunmen… Maybe Sal has learned some new tricks. I also notice the previously stranded truck tearing down the road after us, the men now visibly armed. Luckily Smith has gotten us to a bit of a lead.