Chapter 2:

A Job Part 2

The Young Knight of the Desert

Kansai City, State of Japan. July 21, 2030, 2017 hours (Japan Standard Time)

At the harbor of Kansai City, a fishing boat docked. Getting off was an individual covering himself or herself with a hat, sunglasses covering the eyes despite the night sky, a mask covering the mouth, a trench coat covering the body, and boots.

The individual in the trench coat paid the fisherman. Afterward, the former reached a car whose driver, a man with light skin, black hair in a crew cut, and gray eyes, saw the individual as if he had been waiting for the former.

The individual reached for the left front seat. Upon entering the car and sitting down, the driver on the right front seat started the car and left the harbor.

“How was your trip, Gospazitza Tsulukidze?” the driver asked.

“It was fine, Pyotr,” the individual answered as she removed her hat, sunglasses, and mask. “How were things while I was gone?”

“Not much changed since you left.”


“When will we hear from the Director?”

“Depends on him reading the information I gave him.”


2049 hours

“I’m surprised Maria opted to treat you to lunch,” Hamilton said to Tarou.

“And the argument between her and Miss Todoh is my fault,” replied Tarou. “All because I wanted to try instant ramen.”

“I wouldn’t say it was your fault. Lying is part of the orders we were given.”

“I have no problem if it’s an order. My problem is having to reconcile being a soldier, at my age no less, with pretending to be a normal high school student.”

“I can see where you’re coming from. You never knew your biological parents and you never had friends-”

“Actually, there were a few people I made friends with prior to adolescence. Even when I first picked up a gun at ten years of age.”


“First, there’s Shireen Baloch. Her family fled to western Iran after they lost their home to the Revelator crashing into Afghanistan.”

“Even now, I’m surprised some Afghans survived such a disaster.”

“I can imagine my biological parent or parents left me with that community of Baloch refugees because I’m half-Japanese. Even then, it was hard for me to make friends. Yet Shireen became my friend as a result. Then when I turned ten, the Eurasian Tsardom invaded Iran, and I ran away to become a soldier despite my age. Apparently, Shireen managed to follow me though that happened after I was placed in a unit of children as old as I was.”

“And how was it?”

“Not much different from when I left that Baloch community. Of course, there was Vahid.”


“Vahid Farahani. He was fifteen years old. Despite the age gap and that he was actually a Persian whereas I’m half-Japanese, he treated me like a brother.”

“And what happened to them?”

“Just as when the Tsardom continued pushing further, we kept on fighting. When Tsarist forces neared Tehran, Vahid was given command of his own unit to defend the village of Charmshahr and I was assigned to that unit. As you could guess, it was all for naught as the Tsarist forces deployed their Walgears. When I came across one, Vahid saved my life with an RPG. However, we were spotted by a Hunter and it fired its autocannon.”

“And then what happened?”

“I somehow survived because of Vahid. I don’t know how, but I was able to survive. I was in shock over what happened that I didn’t check any further if Vahid was dead or not. I then deserted and wandered across western Asia until I ran into you, Vos, and the others in Libya.”

“I can see why this mission is making you miserable.”

“I don’t know what I’ll be scared of. I’m not afraid of taking a mission, but what is it that is making me afraid?”

“I doubt this is what Wouter had in mind, but I believe if you participate in this mission, it should help you reconcile your past with the present.”

“You think so?”

“Joining Iron Dutchman Services helped me get over the man I was in a relationship.”

“I see.”

“Well, I’ve said enough,” Hamilton declared as she got off Tarou’s bed and reached for the door. “I hope you can sleep well tonight because you’ll need to for tomorrow morning. Good night.”

“Good night and thank you,” Tarou replied just as Hamilton opened the door and left.


Unknown Location. 1604 hours (Unknown Time Zone)

“Grand Gatekeeper, I’ve come with a report,” an individual whose entire body was entirely covered in a hood and a cloak announced in a shadowed room to another hooded individual that sat on a throne as if he were a king.

“What might it be?” the seated individual asked.

“It came from our station in Japan. Iron Dutchman Services will be leaving tomorrow as they’ve been hired by the Middle Eastern League.”

“What of the Eurasian Tsardom’s activities?”

“From our Devotee-Infiltrator in the OVR, the League’s FIA hired Iron Dutchman Services. We’re still waiting for verification that the mercenaries have been hired to protect an arms shipment bound to Iran.”

“Contact Šap. Tell her to observe every ship that will leave every port in the League and if one ship attempts to reach Iran, order her to follow that ship.”

“Yes, Great Gatekeeper.”


Kansai City, State of Japan. July 22, 2030; 0508 hours (Japan Standard Time)

“Is that you, Ganji?” Wattana asked while wearing a white-colored tank top and Daisy Dukes as she saw Tarou Ganji by the Iron Dutchman’s old swimming pool.

“Oh, it’s you, Miss Wattana,” Tarou said just as he turned to face Wattana.

“Got up early and couldn’t think of something to do before we leave for KIX?”

“Same here.”

“Why don’t we spar? Been a while since we practiced your Muay Thai.”

“Good idea.”

“But we need the protective gear first.”

“Agreed though I’ll need shorts first.”


0544 hours

Both Tarou and Wattana were using protective gear as they practiced Muay Thai. Unbeknownst to them, Wouter Vos watched them practice.

Wattana and Tarou exchanged blows, yet neither managed to hit each other. As the former throws a punch, the latter catches the punch. What followed next was Tarou pushing Wattana onto the deck. The latter was dumbfounded that the former would choose a creative way to end their spar.

“That wasn’t Muay Thai,” Wattana remarked.

“I know,” Tarou replied as he offered his right hand.

Wattana grabbed Tarou’s right hand and got up. “Had a good spar?” Vos asked, startling both Tarou and Wattana.

“W… We can explain,” Wattana replied as she and Tarou turned to face Vos.

“I understand. Just get changing. We have to wait for Hamilton before we leave.”

“Yes, sir,” Tarou and Wattana replied in unison.


0619 hours

Vos, Tarou, Wattana, and Hamilton left the cruise ship. A van showed up in front of them and at the driver’s seat was a man in his thirties with short blond hair, very light skin, and light brown eyes.

“Crawley?” Wattana asked. “You’re taking us to the station?”

“Indeed, I am,” the man named Crawley answered.

Unbeknownst to the mercenaries, the man named Pyotr watched from afar in his car. He then used an earpiece attached to his right ear.

“The mercenaries appear to be leaving, but I don’t know where and why they’re leaving,” the driver reported.

“Don’t let them out of your sight,” a female voice ordered from the other end of the earpiece. “Wait one more minute before following them. When you do follow them, drive slowly; don’t let them think you’re following them.”



0749 hours

“Thank goodness we were able to find time for breakfast!” Wattana exclaimed as she, Vos, Tarou, and Hamilton ate at a Celebucks in Kansai International Airport, commonly referred to as KIX.

“Tarou, I imagine you finished your homework last night, but how will you let Miss Hasegawa know?” Hamilton asked after swallowing the piece of cinnamon roll into her mouth.

“I got Todoh to do it,” Tarou.

“Which Todoh?” Vos asked.

“Riku Todoh.”

“That’s nice.”

“I sure hope nothing will go wrong in this mission,” Wattana verbally expressed with hope.

“I doubt it,” Vos replied. “It’s why I had Solbein prepared in case.”

“Then how will it get transported?” Tarou asked.

“Maria Clara claimed she’ll handle it. Free of charge to boot.”

“Nice though I still wished we knew where we were going,” Wattana replied.

“We best finish because I doubt the train here will run on time for us to make it before 1100,” Hamilton warned.

“Roger that, ma’am,” Vos, Tarou, and Wattana replied in unison; their tone showing sarcasm.


1256 hours

The car that followed the Iron Dutchman Services reached a small office building. After he parked the car, Pyotr rushed to the door and frantically used the keys to unlock it. He then proceeded inside the office building which smelled like borscht and the collective breath of men who regularly drink vodka. Pyotr reached a particular room and knocked.

“Who is it?” a female voice asked from inside the room.

“It’s me, Pyotr,” Pyotr answered.

“Hold on,” the woman replied before she reached the door and opened it. Pyotr now stood before Tsulukidze, the woman he picked up from the harbor the previous night.

“You didn’t use your earpiece,” Tsulukidze said.

“Mne zhal’,” Pyotr replied. “I didn’t want to get caught, so I fled as soon as the train neared KIX.”

“KIX?” Tsulukidze asked incredulously, then stopped as she had to process what Pyotr told her slowly only to change her mind. “Very well, come in.”



1310 hours

“You mean to tell me those mercenaries have been given a job somewhere?” Tsulukidze asked to Pyotr.

“Da,” Pyotr replied. “Those mercenaries had to take a car to Yoshita Station and the train they boarded in the station took them to KIX.”

“How many left that ship?”

“Only four. One of them is a teenager.”

“It must be that boy who stole that prototype Solbein. He’s also the one who saved Maria Hoshikawa from those mercenaries.”

“Think we could try to apprehend Hoshikawa?”

“Too risky. If Iron Dutchman Services got a job somewhere, that could mean the Intelligence Collective must be keeping an eye out for Hoshikawa.”

“Want me to find out about the flight those four mercenaries took?”

“Please do.”



Above Nohwa, Republic of Korea. 1310 hours (Korean Standard Time)

“Finally, lunch!” exclaimed Wattana as the flight attendants began handing out pre-flight orders to the passengers. Wattana, Vos, and Tarou sat in one row of three seats with Tarou seated near a window. Hamilton was seated behind Tarou in a different row with a man and a woman.

Vos and Wattana received a Pork Katsudon set, whereas Tarou received a Chicken Teriyaki set. As for drinks, the former two respectively received a can of Hoshikawa Ichiban beer, whereas the latter received a can of orange-flavored Ribdrink.

“Itadakimasu,” Tarou, Vos, and Wattana said in unison.

If I’m to go to the Middle East, I have to avoid anything pork-related, Tarou thought. Thankfully, I was able to eat something with pork last night.

“Thank goodness we were able to afford this with the usual salary we get from the Int- I mean, the Agency,” said Vos.


Kansai City, State of Japan. 1417 hours (Japan Standard Time)

Pyotr returned to the office building he used as a hideout and reached the door of Tsulukidze’s office. After he knocked, Tsulukidze opened.

“You’re back,” Tsulukidze said. “Found out anything?”

“Da,” Pyotr answered.

“Then come in,” Tsulukidze ordered with Pyotr doing so. Tsulukidze then closed the door and resumed facing Pytor. “Figured out where that flight is going?”

“Kuwait City.”

“Wait, I think I know why those mercenaries are going there.”

“You do?”

“The Middle Eastern League have been arming the rebels in Iran and, while it hasn’t been proven yet, I think Kuwait City is one of the distribution centers used to ship weapons to the rebels. Most likely the mercenaries have been hired to guard an upcoming shipment.”

“Do we tell the Director about this?”

A sound then came from a nearby smartphone. “Speak of the devil,” Tsulukidze remarked before going to the phone and answering it. “Miss Tsulukidze, is that you?” a male voice asked from the other end of the smartphone.

“Director, it’s me,” Tsulukidze answered. “I have something to tell you about Iron Dutchman Services.”

“Do you?”

“You doubt me? I’ve heard that four of their members will be going to Kuwait City. I believe they might be involved in the next shipment of weapons bound for the rebels in Iran.”

“That’s impressive. However, we can’t act on this until we hear from Mamluk.”

“I understand.”

“Again, I will update you. Good day, Your Highness.”


Unknown Location. 1047 hours (Unknown Time Zone)

“Is that true?” the shadowed figure sitting on a throne known as the “Grand Gatekeeper” asked.

“Yes, Grand Gatekeeper,” another shadowed figure answered. “Iron Dutchman Services has sent four of its members to Kuwait City. Presumably, they will be assisting the Middle Eastern League in delivering weapons for the rebels in Iran.”

“Any word yet from Šap?”

“Not much yet other than the ship being loaded with weapons as we speak and that it will leave once the mercenaries arrive.”

“That means the shipment will leave tomorrow. Anything from our Devotee-Infiltrator in the OVR?”

“No, Grand Gatekeeper. The OVR will not act until they’ve heard from their infiltrator in the FIA.”

“I can imagine they’ll use their task force dedicated to hunting down those mercenaries once they’ve received more information. Keep me updated.”

“By your will, Grand Gatekeeper.”


Kansai City, State of Japan. 1620 hours (Japan Standard Time)

“Where do you suppose Ganji-kun went?” a girl with her brown hair in ponytails in a judogi asked toward another girl in a judogi with a “Hime cut” as they watched Maria Hoshikawa defeat a teenage boy. “I heard from Todoh-senpai he’s in Aceh.”

“Where’s th-”

“Namikawa, you’re next!” Maria loudly announced.

“Here goes nothing,” the girl with the ponytails named Namikawa said.


2149 hours

At an apartment in Kansai City, a thirty-year-old with short brown hair and dark brown eyes in a lavender-colored negligee looked at a stack of pairs of papers that were connected by a staple on the upper-left corner. She wielded a red marker and wrote an 80 on the upper-right side of the paper.

“Again, Hoshikawa-san manages to get the topmost score,” the woman lamented. “Of course, I still have yet to grade everyone’s papers.”

The woman continued to grade the papers. After going through seven pairs of papers, she found one pair of paper with a surname written in katakana and a forename written in kanji beside it in the upper-left corner of the paper; both being written below the staple. The woman recognized the full name as a result.

Great, it’s Ganji-kun, the woman thought. Ever since he transferred to my class, he’s mostly absent. This was given by Todoh-kun.

The woman continued to look at the paper, but she then saw how it was written. She looked again by holding both papers and with widened eyes, as if she was amazed at Tarou Ganji’s work.

Again, he always does his work flawlessly, the woman thought. It’s as good as Hoshikawa-san’s work. Despite his frequent absences, I must practice the conduct needed of me as a teacher. The woman used her red-colored marker and wrote a 100 on the upper-right of the paper but below Tarou’s full name.


Above the South Asian Combine. 1753 hours (Pakistan Time)

“Attention, this is your Captain speaking,” a male voice announced throughout the plane’s public address (PA) system. “We will enter Enlightenment Point in thirty minutes. We will be escorted by the Guards of Knowledge. Please remain calm until we have left Enlightenment Point.”

“Just great,” Wouter Vos lamented.

Enlightenment Point, or rather, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, was where it all started, Tarou Ganji thought. In 1985, an object crashed into Afghanistan while it was torn apart by war. When the object the ground, it turned Afghanistan into a crater, killing most of its inhabitants and the Soviet forces who came to assist the Communist government ruling Afghanistan at the time. It was then discovered that the object was an alien ship, proof we are not alone in the stars. Yet the technological discoveries yielded by the ship created the situation we are in right now.

I didn’t think the Gatekeepers themselves would escort this plane out of Enlightenment Point, Anita Hamilton thought as she seated behind Tarou. To think they helped rebuild the world after World War III and that all they asked for was that they are seen as a neutral and independent power. Yet they made Afghanistan their own property due to it being the crash site of the alien ship. I guess it was natural that they would ask to have their own military.


Near the Combine-Enlightenment Point Border. 1810 hours

“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be nearing Enlightenment Point in three minutes,” the captain of the plane added using the PA system. “Two fighter planes from the Guards of the Air will meet up with us once we cross into Enlightenment Point.”

Two black-colored fighter planes approached the civilian airliner. They resembled stingrays, as their wings were shaped like a half-oval.

On both sides of the civilian airliner’s two decks, people looked at the two fighters about to escort them. In their minds was a combination of fear and awe.

I still think this is just the Gatekeepers’ way of trying to brownnose to the world to remain independent, Vos skeptically thought.


Farwaniya Governorate, State of Kuwait. 0359 hours (Arabia Standard Time)

Vos, Hamilton, Wattana, and Tarou exited Kuwait International Airport. They see a man with dark intermediate skin wearing a white short-sleeved shirt with three buttons, beige-colored trousers held up by a black-colored belt, and black leather shoes approaching them. Although it was still dark, the man covered his eyes with sunglasses.

“You must be Iron Dutchman Services,” the man deduced before offering his right hand. “Younes bin Khaled Bader but please call me Younes or Bader. I’ve been hired to take you to keep an eye on you until you’re needed.”

“You work with the government?” Vos asked before Bader shushed him.

“Please keep that a secret. I’m being paid more than I normally am, so don’t jeopardize this.”

“Sorry, sorry.”

“In any case, we must get going.”

“Thanks again for doing this. Wouter Vos,” Vos said as he offered his hand, with Bader responding in kind.

“Sunan Wattana.”

“Dr. Anita Hamilton.”

“Tarou Ganji.”

“Then let’s get moving,” Bader reminded.

The four mercenaries and Bader reached the taxi. The former four placed their respective belongings in the rear compartment, then boarded the taxi. Bader, after starting up the taxi, left Kuwait International Airport.

“By the way, where will we be staying at?” Hamilton asked.

“SSAW Kuwait,” Bader answered.

“You’re kidding, right?” Vos asked.

“No,” Bader answered. “Our patron wanted to make you extremely comfortable before you’re needed. I’m just doing what I’m told to do so that I can get my money too.”

“Fair enough.”


Kuwait City. 0852 hours

At one particular room of the SSAW Kuwait Hotel, Hamilton and Wattana joined Vos and Tarou. A sharply dressed man whose black hair was in a crew cut followed the former two. Hamilton and Wattana closed the door and while Wattana opted to remain standing, but against a wall, Hamilton used a chair and faced everyone else.

“Good, we’re all here,” Vos said. “Allow me to introduce our contact from the FIA, Yusuf al-Saqqaf.”

“My actual full name is Yusuf bin Tariq al-Saqqaf,” al-Saqqaf continued. “I know it comes late but welcome to the Middle Eastern League. To continue what Mr. Vos has said, I am from the Foreign Intelligence Agency of the Middle Eastern League. Since you took up this job offer thinking it will be providing security for an arms shipment, you were right to assume that. Now, I will explain where the weapons are going.

“As you know, the Eurasian Tsardom conquered the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2023. I can imagine you’re all familiar with the League supplying the Iranian resistance, so yes, we are going to Iran. I will now entertain questions.”

Wattana was the first to raise her hand. “Why us?”

“Because in addition to guarding the weapons going to Iran, we needed a mercenary group to help teach on particular resistance cell.”

Hamilton then raised her hand. “But that would mean infiltrating Iran itself. How will we not get caught by Eurasian troops?”

“We have a route and we make sure information about this route remains a tight-lipped secret.”

Vos then raised his hand. “So which resistance cell are we dealing with? They’re not exactly united as the resistance keeps to the borders with its neighbors.”

“It’s for that reason we supplied only one group, the Brotherhood of Freedom.”

“The Brotherhood?!”

“I can understand why you’d be surprised by whom we’re providing weapons to. However, we only arm the Brotherhood to keep the Eurasian Tsardom in check. In addition, we’re arming one cell of the Brotherhood as we’ve observed the even within the Brotherhood there are different political beliefs.”

“So who in the Brotherhood are we arming?” Tarou asked as he raised his hand.

“We’re arming a nascent cell run by Vahid Farahani-”

“Wait, did you say Vahid Farahani!?”

“Yes… ” al-Saqqaf coldly answered. “Why do you ask?”

“I… I know him… ” Tarou answered with al-Saqqaf going up close to Tarou and looking at his face with a mix of curiosity and suspicion in his mind. “You look Iranian yet your passport registered you as a Japanese national.”

“I’m not sure if you know this but… I fought in the invasion seven years ago despite being ten years old. Farahani was my commander and while we fought the Eurasian’s Walgear units, I assumed Farahani died but now… he’s alive.”

“I understand. Got any more questions.”

“Why are we training this Brotherhood cell?”

“That I cannot tell yet.”

Vos then coughed, acquiring al-Saqqaf’s attention in the process. “So when will we leave for Iran?”

“We’ve only started delivering the weapons to the ship. I’ll come by later to let you know when the ship leaves, so for now, enjoy the amenities. We’ll pay for all of it. Think of it as… incentive.”

“Not that we asked, but thanks.”


1008 hours

The four mercenaries arrived at one of the six restaurants SSAW Kuwait had to offer–Food of the World. After getting seated, a waitress approached the four Iron Dutchman members while carrying a menu for each of them.

“Good morning, I’m Fatima,” the woman said as she introduced herself. “Would you like to go Endless Feast or À la carte?”

“For me, À la carte,” Vos answered before he faced his subordinates. “But what about the rest of you?”

À la carte,” Tarou, Hamilton, and Wattana answered in unison with Vos facing Fatima.

“Then please wait for your menus.”

“Thank you,” the four mercenaries replied in unison, just as Fatima left.

“Listen, I know they’re paying for this, but remember, we’re not here for a vacation. Please keep your orders as simple as you can,” Vos ordered to his subordinates.

“Yes, sir,” Tarou, Hamilton, and Wattana replied in unison to Vos just as Fatima returned with the menus.

“Here are your menus, sirs and ma’ams,” Fatima said.

“Thank you,” the four mercenaries replied to Fatima in unison as she gave each of the former four a menu. All carefully read the contents of the menu as none of them ever had food that the menu offered, yet Vos was the first one to close his menu and hand it over to Fatima. “Three-egg omelet with cheddar cheese for filling and a Gahwa pot with a small cup,” Vos said to Fatima.

“Swiss Bircher Müesli and as for my milk of choice, lactose-free, please,” Hamilton asked.

“Buttermilk pancake stack, three pieces, and hot chocolate,” Wattana added.

“What about you, sir?” Fatima asked as she noticed that Tarou had yet to ask for his order because he continued to look at his menu.

“Ganji, come on,” Vos said as he also looked at Tarou. “We can’t remain here for long.”

“I’ll just have two croissants, but… do you have Persian za’atar?” Tarou asked.

“I’ll ask, but might I please have your drink order?” Fatima asked. “Then I’ll have orange juice,” Tarou added with Fatima leaving.

“Ganji, I told you to keep it simple,” Vos said.

“I was just asking,” Tarou replied just as Fatima came back.

“We have Persian za’atar,” Fatima told Tarou.

“Thank you and that will be all,” Tarou replied, allowing Fatima to leave until the orders of the four mercenaries were ready.


1109 hours

The four mercenaries began to return to a pair of rooms; one assigned to Tarou and Vos, and another assigned to Hamilton and Wattana. However, they found Yusuf al-Saqqaf waiting for them as he stood against the wall between the two rooms and stopped as a result.

“Enjoyed your breakfast?” al-Saqqaf asked.

“We did,” Vos answered. “I assume this has something to do with the shipment.”

“Can we please discuss this further in one of your rooms?”

“My room then,” Vos answered, just before nudging his head to his subordinates. “Right?”

“Yes, sir,” Tarou, Hamilton, and Wattana replied in unison.

Using his key card, Vos opened the door to his and Tarou’s room. They, along with al-Saqqaf, let Wattana and Hamilton inside first. The former three followed, with al-Saqqaf closing the door.

“I’ve come to tell you that the shipment will leave at 1300 hours,” al-Saqqaf announced.

“That early?” Wattana asked.

“Tragically, yes. We’ve finished loaded the weapons into the ship.”

“But what about our reservation?” Hamilton asked.

“We’ll take care of that,” al-Saqqaf answered. “However, you won’t be able to stay for lunch.”

“And why not?” Wattana asked.

“We need you to arrive at the harbor one hour before we leave,” al-Saqqaf. “I will explain the rest of your mission and as for food, don’t worry, we’ll handle it.”

“I bet it’s going to be the usual military rations,” Wattana lamented.

“As I said, this is not a vacation,” Vos reminded Wattana before he turned to al-Saqqaf. “We’re prepared for that.”

“I assure you that the rations will be to your liking,” al-Saqqaf explained. “In any case, we’ve begun to have you check-out of the hotel. If I were you, brush your teeth already and pack up.”

“Roger that,” Vos replied, with al-Saqqaf leaving the room.

Vos then turned to his subordinates. “You heard him. On the double!”

“Yes, sir,” Tarou, Hamilton, and Wattana replied in unison.


1147 hours

The mercenaries started to leave SSAW Kuwait. Outside, they found Younes Bader waiting for them in his taxi.

“You’re taking us to the harbor?” Wattana asked.

“Last thing I’m to do before I get my paycheck,” Bader answered. “After that, back to helping young couples with their honeymoons.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Vos added, before turning to his subordinates. “Alright, everyone. Bags to the rear now.”

“Yes, sir,” Tarou, Hamilton, and Wattana replied in unison.

Like it was earlier that morning, the mercenaries placed their respective belongings into the taxi’s rear compartment. After boarding, Bader started up the taxi and left SSAW Kuwait.


Capital Governorate. 1213 hours

Bader and his taxi reached Shuwaikh Port in the Capital Governorate. The mercenaries came out with Vos going to Bader.

“Thank you for everything,” Vos said.

“No problem,” Bader replied. “However, I will get a pay deduction for getting you late.”

“It’s alright,” Vos said before he got to the rear compartment to get his belongings after his subordinates had done so. After the mercenaries got their respective belongings, they began to leave the taxi with Bader departing.

As Vos, Tarou, Hamilton, and Wattana proceeded further, they were met by Yusuf al-Saqqaf, wearing a beige-colored combat uniform whose tunic was underneath a ballistic vest and boots; all of which were beige.

“You’re late,” al-Saqqaf said.

“There was traffic,” Vos argued. “Bader reminded us that he will be getting a portion of his pay deducted.”

“Either way, you made it. Follow me.”


Gospazitza – Russian equivalent for “Miss”. Pyotr addressing Tatiana as “Gospazitza” is to show that the former is subordinate to the latter. Cyrillic: Госпожица

Muay Thai – commonly translated as “Thai boxing”. Alternatively known as the “Art of eight limbs” as it involves using the body’s pairs of fists, elbows, knees, and shins. Original Thai: มวยไทย

Zametano – “Roger that” in Russian. Pronounced “ze-me-ta-nah”. Cyrillic: заметано

Mne zhal’ – “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” in Russian. Pronounced “mi-nye zhal” with the “i” pronounced silently and rapidly. Cyrillic: мне жаль

Spasibo – “Thank you” in Russian. Pronounced “spa-si-bah”. Cyrillic: Спасибо

Katsudon – fried pork cutlet over rice with onion and egg. Original Japanese: かつ丼

Teriyaki – a combination of the words teri (“to shine”) and yaki (“to broil” or “to grill”). That is because when something is finished cooking, the food shows grill marks that make it stand out. Original Japanese: 照り焼き

Itadakimasu – Japanese for “Let’s eat”. Said before a meal. Original Japanese: いただきます

À la carte – a French term where food is served individually.

Za’atar – a combination of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. Originates from the Middle East. Original Arabic: زَعْتَر‎