The Faceless 2. The Strangers At The Threshold

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Zafran Berhane had seen war; especially during the prolonged campaigns against the thrice-damned Rhodesian incursors who abducted his fellow Axumite in hopes of warping them with a most unholy process and then letting them loose on their own people.

Yes, she had seen war… from afar. Yet that did not stop her from looking out for the ground teams taking the fight to the heart of the Rhodesian forces and breaking their lines with magnificent displays of holy power and righteous anger. She watched and backed them as they came out victorious… almost every single time.

For, yes, Zafran Berhane had also seen more than her fair share of defeat and loss. She witnessed how some of those brave teams fought on in spite of their desperate situation only to be overwhelmed, inevitably succumbing to the enemy’s superior numbers and cowardly tactics. Still, she had always managed to bring release to those unjustly warped and swift retribution to many of the shit-spawned colonizers who lead the charges that took the lives of her people; and she did it from distances many considered to be impossible for mere humans, long before she was called to serve her people in a higher capacity.

For yes, Zafran Berhane had heard the call to protect her homeland and her fellow Axumite early on in her life, so she joined the army during her second year of military service, and seven years later she finally made peace with her conscience and conquered the fear of becoming someone… other. She realized the only way to stop losing people on the ground and rescuing those abducted by the colonizer trash, was for her to join the brave souls who calmly accepted the redeeming commitment and higher purpose Zohar brought to their lives. Besides, they said, physically... it wasn’t that painful.

Yes, Zafran Berhane took her time to make up her mind and completely prepare her spirit, and once she had done so and felt ready, like all Dread Angels before her, she never looked back.

‘You’ve made a couple of tough choices back there, Zafi,’ Col., Nazif said to her when they came out of the Screening Room. If he, a high-ranking member of the military couldn’t help but be nervous in the presence of the Dr, Mahmoud. Yet he was quite surprised at Zafran’s cool, relaxed demeanor. ‘I guess all that shouting at you really helped in steeling your nerves.’

‘The shouting had nothing to do with it,’ her tone was dismissive and she did not even turn to face the tall man walking beside her. ‘Loss, Colonel. Constant loss will do marvels for anyone’s determination.’ Col. Nazif remained speechless. The small woman walking beside him had indeed changed over the past seven years and now she had asked for transfer to the Aspirants list. The nerve! It was not like he really treated his troops poorly or with disrespect. Still, it was also true that sometimes he could push them to higher standards of service and gallantry. Too hard, indeed. Still, now that Zafran Berhane had been interviewed and assessed for potential, even him, a weathered and cynical veteran of the Rhodesian Wars, had been left in awe by the scores and answers given by Lt. Zafran Berhane, 1st Rifle, 3rd. Division Sniper Company of the Axumite Federation Army Ranger Corps. He had to owe it to her: she was every bit as fierce before bureaucrats as she was on the field against the enemy. At the end of the corridor, two individuals taller than Nazif waited near the door. This time, Zafran Berhane turned to look up at her CO. There was a strange mix of emotions in her eyes: joy at the prospect of becoming someone more useful to her nation, and the fear of a little girl facing an uncertain future. Col. Nazif stopped in his place and stood at the ready, never breaking contact with the woman he now admired more than ever before. ‘I believe congratulations and a farewell are in order,’ Col. Nazif saluted Berhane as if she was the Queen Herself. ‘It was my privilege, former Lt. Berhane. May your new name be one that brings honor to us, your former comrades, and make our federation proud.’ Zafran Berhane returned the salute, turned around and walked towards the towering Angels waiting for her by the door.

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