General Tonya Bricker returned the salutes as she entered the auditorium.
“At ease,” she said briskly. Everyone sat.
“As you know, our assistance has been requested by the Prime Minister of Gyria in squelching an uprising. We’ll be there in a support role only; no combat is foreseen. As you may be aware, we will encounter some severe cultural differences. Over there, they have a completely different set of social norms and their societies are structured in a way that will seem alien to you. However, in keeping with local customs and mores, the United States will strive to make our presence as uncontroversial as possible.”
She scratched her head absentmindedly with the end of her baton.
“Anyone with a background in world history will know that terrorism was largely a male dominated activity in the early part of this century. For that reason, when the new order was established, men in that region were forbidden to wear clothes, or any garment that could possibly hide any kind of explosive, with the exception of course of the veil. Therefore, all men in our unit will remove their clothes when outside our compound. Gyrian law requires men to wear actual veils. They will not accept surgical masks as substitutes.
All men who are not breeders in Gyrian society are gelded. Therefore, many of the male citizens you encounter will have compromised masculinity. You are not allowed to comment on this in any way. These laws may seem antiquated by our standards, but you will observe them. If you fail to do so, punishment will be swift and harsh. The last thing we need at this unprecedented stage of world peace and prosperity is an international incident. In Gyria, men are not allowed to serve in the military in any capacity, so it is a gesture of great concession that the male members of our force are going to be permitted to join this mission. Major Glen will hand out packets containing explicit instructions and summaries of Gyrian law that apply to you. Study them carefully. Soldiers!” The auditorium filled with rustling as the entire group stood at attention. “Dismissed.”
General Bricker returned to her office and tossed her baton on a chair in the corner before sitting behind her desk and opening the Gyrian file. She took out a picture of the dark eyed Abu el Alami, the rebel leader of the uprising. Obviously ungelded, his glittering dark eyes shone with defiance and his thick beard flouted Gyrian law regarding facial hair. The general shook her head and fleetingly longed for the chance to break this terrorist herself. Of course, that wouldn’t be the case. She wished to be in the heart of the fray, but was resigned to her role.
She wondered what it must have been like to hold a weapon capable of blasting off arms and legs, splitting skulls, and wiping out lives with the pull of a trigger or the push of a button. A dark part of her longed for the battles of old, the death flashes of exploding mortars and the thunder of great bombs. The United States still had a few stockpiles of banned weapons, a testosterone junkie’s dream, locked in inaccessible depths. Safe from elements of the great society who still lusted for blood and destruction. So, she suspected, did Great Britain and Australia. But most had been destroyed after the revolution.
Ah, the revolution. How unfair she wasn’t born earlier! She was made for war, for real fighting. Her constitution was steel and spit, her resolve unyielding, her approach to combat vituperative and lethal. Her mettle had never been adequately tested and she longed for the chance to draw blood.
She sighed. Even if fate took her into the theatre, she would be limited to benign peacekeeping weapons like sleep inducers, auditory immobilizers, and stunners. But, maybe there would be the opportunity for hand-to-hand combat. She brightened at the thought and leaned back in her chair, hands behind her head. One could dream.