ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Based on an audience poll, this is the free epic for the May 2, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl reaching the $200 goal. This poem is spillover from the January 3, 2017 Poetry fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] daisiesrockalot plus conversations with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer and other fans. It also fills the "WILD CARD: dusk" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Insha'Allah"


No sooner had the sun begun to set
than Buraq felt the inward tug that meant
Allah wished his immediate attention.

"I need to pray," he told his companions.

Rampart looked around the busy London street
and said, "I remember that the sunset one has
the least wiggle room, but can it wait? I don't
think we're anywhere near a prayer room."

The tug was rapidly becoming an itch.
"I need to pray now," Buraq said.

"Jeez, you sound like you gotta pee,"
Rampart said. "Usually you can wait.
Can't you, I don't know, hold it for
a few minutes or something?"

"Just jump us to Al-Basit Airport,"
said Patches. "It's not too far from here,
and we know the place. They have both
a landing pad and a prayer room."

"Good idea. Step in," Buraq said.
The two men closed in from either side,
allowing him to drape an arm over each
as he reached for the coordinates with
his mind. "Wait a moment. Someone is
using the room ... all right, jumping now."

They landed with the soft, hollow clip-clop
of his gift in the Al-Basit teleport room, which
had been repurposed from a large closet.
The green-and-gold rug underfoot pointed
properly toward Mecca instead of north like
the compass rose that other cultures used.

"We'll stay here on the mezzanine level,"
Patches said as he stepped away. "You can
find us in the family lounge after you finish."

"Thank you," Buraq said fervently.

He hustled to the ablution room
that stood beside the prayer room,
grateful that it had enough stations
so he didn't need to stand in line.

It was a struggle to focus his intent,
but as soon as he sat down to wudu
and said, "Bismillah," then Allah
stopped tugging at his sleeve.

Buraq heaved a sigh of relief and
performed his ablution with extra care.

Outside the prayer room, he took off
his shoes, considering the slippers
available on the shelf, but decided
that today he really needed to go
barefoot upon holy ground.

Buraq took a prayer rug from
the stack in the cabinet, and then
took his place among the brothers
gathering inside the prayer room.

Even though he was traveling --
was almost always traveling -- he said
all five rak'as instead of only three.

The old man serving as imam
stuttered one verse; a younger man,
perhaps his son, murmured, "Subhan-Allah,"
and the old man corrected the error so that
the followers were not obliged to repeat it.

The small slip came as a reminder
that only Allah is free from all defects,
all other creatures being fallible.

By the end of the prayers, Buraq was
so filled with the presence of Allah that he
was seeing spots of green and gold light
winking at him like a thousand eyes.

Accordingly he folded himself back
into sajjdah to help the blood run toward
his head. Then he said, "Truly, my prayer and
my service of sacrifice, my life and my death,
are all for Allah, the cherisher of the worlds."

Buraq wondered why it was that Allah
had summoned him so urgently to prayer,
and what Allah might want of him; and he
formed an intent that whatever it was,
he would do as commanded.

The green spots shimmered with blue
and purple tones, and the gold halos
opened up to swallow him into the light.

There was a sense of infinite loss,
and pain, as if wandering through
a sandstorm of boiling glass; and
then Buraq became aware that Allah
would like His lost sheep back, please.

Along with this awareness there came
an impression of the supervillain Haboob.

"You want that one?!" Buraq exclaimed.

A single word floated like thistledown
into cupped palms of his prayer. Yes.

Buraq grumbled, and whimpered, but
in the end, there could be only one reply.

"... insha'Allah."

Abruptly the light dimmed, and
Buraq came back to himself with
a hand gently shaking his shoulder
and a stranger's voice asking,
"Brother? Are you well?"

Opening his eyes, he realized
that he had fallen out of sajjdah
onto his side, and it was no wonder
that someone was worried about him.

"I will be fine," Buraq said as he
pushed himself into a seated position.

"You fainted," the young man said,
still hovering over Buraq.

"Sometimes I find the presence
of Allah ..." Indescribable, really,
there were no mortal words for
such glory. "... overwhelming."

"It is an honor," the stranger said.
"Is there anyone I can call for you?"

Buraq shook his head. "Thank you,
but no. I have friends waiting for me
in the family lounge, one of whom is
a healer. I will go to them, and he
can make sure that I am well."

"Insha'Allah," the young man said,
and that made Buraq wince even
as he climbed to his feet, taking
the prayer rug with him.

He would do as Allah had
commanded him, but he knew
that it would probably cost him
the two best friends that he
had ever found in his life.

With a sinking heart, Buraq
left the prayer room and returned
the rug to its place in the cabinet,
then put his shoes back on his feet.

Next he went to the family lounge.

"What the hell, man?" Rampart said
when he saw Buraq. "I never saw you
come out of a prayer room looking like
someone just ran over your dog."

Patches shut his book with the gilt cross
on the cover and hurried to meet Buraq.
"Are you all right?" the healer asked.

"I fainted in the prayer room,"
Buraq admitted. "Allah was ..."
He shook his head. "You can
check for a physical cause, but
I don't think you'll find one."

Patches measured Buraq's pulse,
combed his hands through the dark hair,
and even resorted to his superpower.

"You're right, I can't find anything wrong
with your body," the healer said at last.
"Do you want to tell us what happened?"

Well, no, but there was no way around it.

"Allah has set me a task," said Buraq.
"I may not turn aside from it, but I do not
think you will wish to accompany me."

"Spit it out, then," said Rampart. "We can't
tell that if we don't even know what it is."

Buraq looked down at the floor.
"It is the will of Allah that I seek out
and redeem the supervillain Haboob,"
he said. "I have been entrusted with
a miracle for this purpose."

He could feel it nestled inside
his soul, small as a thistle seed,
yet shining with hidden power.

"O ... kay," Rampart said slowly.
"I know you believe the man upstairs
has sent you on errands before,
but this is no milk run."

"Neither of you are required
to accompany me," Buraq whispered.

"Would it work?" Patches said abruptly.

"What?" Buraq looked up at his friend.
"I don't understand what you mean."

"Suppose we tracked down Haboob, and
you did whatever it is that God told you
to do," said Patches. "Would it work?
Would it stop him being a supervillain?"

"I believe so," said Buraq. "Allah would not
send me on a fool's errand. Whatever
this miracle is meant to do, it will do."
He nibbled his lip. "The best I can
describe it is that Allah would like
to have his lost sheep back."

"But I thought Haboob was already
a Muslim," Rampart said with a frown.

"Yeah, but he's a terrible Muslim,"
said Patches. "If there's one thing
I've learned from hanging out
with Buraq, it's that."

"It's risky," Rampart pointed out.
"That guy is public enemy number one.
Haboob is at the top of everyone's shit list,
for good reason. Half the other supervillains
want to tell Charlie to go home, and you want
to save his sorry ass? A lot of people
are not gonna like that, Buraq."

"I am aware," Buraq said, looking
down at the carpet. "It is not my place
to question the will of Allah, only to obey."

"What else would you suggest, Rampart?"
said Patches. "Political sanctions haven't
worked. Economic sanctions haven't worked.
Multiple assassination attempts have failed.
Far as I know, nobody's tried miracles yet.
What have we got to lose, anyway?"

"You mean aside from our lives?"
Rampart said in a dry tone.

Patches shrugged. "If we'd
wanted to die in bed, then we
wouldn't have joined the Army."

"Point," Rampart said with a laugh.

"I'm in," Patches said. "Buraq is
my buddy, and I'm not leaving him
to face a whackjob terrorist by himself.
What about you, Rampart -- in or out?"

"I'm in," said Rampart. "Call me crazy,
but I don't leave my guys behind."

Buraq slumped into the nearest chair,
weak with relief, almost weeping at
the realization that he would not lose
his friends after all. "Thank you."

They clapped him on the back
and assured him it was no big deal.

But it was, and they all knew it.

After a few minutes, Buraq
shook himself off and said,
"We should get going."

His companions fell into step
on either side of him.

The gift shop snagged his eye
on the way out, and he drifted in,
uncertain what he was looking for.

He found it in a display case
of patches and other insignia:
a round black badge featuring
a book with an eye inside it,
customarily worn by people
who believed that Allah had
given them an assignment.

Buraq bought one and explained
its significance to his friends as he
pressed the vrip circle onto his shirt.
"Maybe this will help smooth our path,"
he said. "Sometimes people will help
a pilgrim when they would not otherwise."

"It's worth a try," Patches agreed.
"We need all the help we can get."

"Well, if it was easy," Rampart said,
"God wouldn't need to send superheroes!"

* * *

Notes:

Patches (Montgomery Hammond) -- He has milk chocolate skin, brown eyes, and short nappy brown hair. He speaks English, French, Arabic, and Algerian. He is nonmonogamous, preferring to have fun without commitment. He has also fathered four children for ladies who wanted a baby without the hassle of either a husband or a sperm bank. His impoverished background makes it difficult for him to handle money fluently, so he usually leaves that to Rampart. Hammond was a Navy corpsman trained as a Marine field medic. His nickname came not from his superpower -- although it matches perfectly -- but from the state of his clothes when he first enlisted.
Currently he works with two other soups, Buraq (a teleporter) and Rampart (an invulnerable soldier). They're a punch team, meant to cut through any obstacles or hazards to reach a designated casualty. They are unusual in working for anyone who needs them and can afford them -- ordinary, superhero, or supervillain -- and almost everyone respects their medical neutrality. They don't charge anywhere near what they're worth, and most of that goes into operating expenses, although it still isn't cheap.
Origin: Originally serving in the Navy as a corpsman, Hammond was on deck when a fuel container exploded, injuring several sailors. His Healing talent manifested, allowing him to save them. After that, he sought training as a Marine field medic.
Later in Iraq, Hammond was working under heavy fire when he found an American soldier trapped under rubble, unconscious but with no visible injures. He managed to free the soldier, but then heard moans that led him to an Iraqi soldier who was seriously wounded. There was no path out of the hot zone, but the Iraqi man said he could get them out. Hammond refused to leave his first casualty behind, and the Iraqi said that he could carry two; he was able to teleport them all to a field hospital. The three of them later formed a team.
Uniform: He still wears a surplus Marine uniform in the field, minus the old insignia and with a lot of red cross markings to indicate him as a field medic.
Qualities: Master (+6) Marine, Expert (+4) Tough, Good (+2) Comic Book Fan, Good (+2) Deduction, Good (+2) Fearless, Good (+2) Ladies' Man, Good (+2) Partners with Buraq and Rampart, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Impoverished Background
Powers: Expert (+4) Healing
Motivation: To patch up whatever he can.

Rampart (Titus Truello) -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair. He speaks Arabic, Croatian, Dari (Persian), English, Esperanto, French, German, Irish, Japanese, Pashto, and Turkish. He has a large family back in the states and keeps in casual contact with them.
Rampart is the one who networks to find jobs and negotiate payment. In the field, he also leads the strategic planning. He and Buraq are responsible for getting Patches to the casualty, and then they provide support for his greater medical experience. A persistent challenge is that Rampart is Invulnerable but his clothing is not. He dislikes dexflan and capery, preferring conventional materials, and like his partners he prefers a version of his old military uniform. So he winds up showing a lot of skin sometimes, to the periodic amusement of people who admire fit male bodies.
Origin: While serving in Iraq, Truello got trapped under a pile of rubble, which activated his superpower. He was rescued by Patches and Buraq. The stress of the manifestation kept him unconscious for hours, although he recovered just fine. Afterward he formed a team with the other two soups so they could rescue other people.
Uniform: In the field, he still dresses in surplus fatigues, minus the old insignia and with a red cross armband to mark his first aid skill -- and he goes through them like kleenex. Otherwise he wears street clothes, but still favors the drab earth tones like tan, brown, and olive green.
Qualities: Expert (+4) First Aid, Expert (+4) Soldier, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Loyalty, Good (+2) Making Contacts, Good (+2) Negotiation, Good (+2) Partners with Patches and Buraq, Good (+2) Strategy, Good (+2) Video Gamer
Poor (-2) Can't Keep His Clothes On
Powers: Good (+2) Invulnerability
Motivation: To stick by his partners.

Buraq (Akram Zaidi) -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short black hair. He is slim and quick. Akram speaks Arabic, English, and Spanish, currently learning French from his partners Patches and Rampart. He enjoys reading and writing Arabic poetry. He is a Muslim, originally from Iraq. He finds political conversations stressful and prefers to avoid them, because he's seen how much damage is done over political disagreements.
Buraq currently works as part of a punch team, meant to cut through any obstacles or hazards to reach a designated casualty. He specializes in getting through defenses meant to block teleporters, and in memorizing coordinates for many hospitals and other safe zones. He has also learned enough first aid to help Patches with casualties.
Origin: Before joining the military, Akram made his Hajj to Mecca. His flight home was canceled, leaving him stranded and about to be late reporting for duty. He wished fiercely that he was at his base -- and suddenly, there he was. Over time, he learned how to acquire jump references from other people's minds as well as his own experience, although his telepathy is iffy for anything else. Akram considers his superpowers to be gifts from God, hence his nickname: the buraq was a legendary creature who carried the prophets.
Later in Iraq, Akram was wounded in combat with the American military. A Marine field medic named Patches found him and provided first aid, but there was no path out of the hot zone. Akram offered to teleport them out. The medic refused to leave his first casualty behind, and Akram said that he could carry two; he was able to teleport them all to a field hospital. The three of them later formed a team.
Uniform: He still wears an Iraqi-style uniform in the field, but without the old insignia, with red cross armbands to mark his first aid skill.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Soldier, Good (+2) Compassion, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) First Aid, Good (+2) Partners with Patches and Rampart, Good (+2) Poet
Poor (-2) Hates Politics
Powers: Expert (+4) Teleportation, Good (+2) Telepathy, Average (0) Miracle Delivery
Motivation: To carry on.

* * *

Inshallah (Arabic: إن شاء الله‎‎, ʾin shāʾallāhu) or insha'Allah is Arabic for "God willing" or "if God wills." It's also a way of qualifying statements to indicate things may change due to divine influence.

The five daily prayers of Islam have their own timespans, of which Maghrib at dusk is the least flexible. Read about how Muslims perform ablution and then pray.

After her induction into Islam, Khadija adopted the following credo:
Say: "verily, my Lord hath guided me to a way that is straight, - a religion of right, -the path (trod) by Abraham the true in faith, and He (certainly) joined not gods with Allah."
Say: "truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the cherisher of the worlds:
No partner hath He: this I am commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will.
-- Quran Majid, Chapter 6, verses 161, 162, 163)\

Sajjdah is the kneeling position when Muslims pray.

Qibla is the direction wall in a mosque or prayer room that shows the way to Mecca.

Islamic teleport markers orient toward Mecca. Often they use qibla markers. Here is one in gold. This one shows a mosque. This teleport medallion shows the name of Allah. This teleport marker has the name of Allah in a teardrop shape to point the way. This one uses a different calligraphy style for the name of Allah. Another option is to use a prayer rug. Here you can see a variety of prayer rugs.

This is Al-Basit Airport in London, Britannia. Al-Basit means "The Extender" in Arabic, one of the names of God. Here is the outside of the main building. The hangar has room for several medium-sized jets.

Indoor space is warm and welcoming. Some of the lounges have nap benches, looking up to the mezzanine level.

The ablution room contains a fixture called a Wudumate. In addition to being a safe, efficient facility for Muslims this is also a convenience for other people who may need to wash more than their hands. Customarily there is also a shower for those who need to perform ghusl instead of wudu.

This is the prayer room. It has storage alcoves for shoes and slippers, along with the prayer rugs.

The mezzanine level includes private lounges and a family lounge.

Here is the gift shop.

Patches has a black Bible with gilt lettering on the cover.

In Terramagne, the book-and-eye emblem marks those who have received an assignment from Allah.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-11 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
A line number slipped through, at line 75. Also, it looks like
"Buraq looked up as his friend." should read "looked up at".

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-11 03:18 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Whoa. That's an assignment and a half! I wish him well, and look forward to seeing more in this storyline.

This has been my "That sounds fascinating, but dammit, I really want to see this other one" hard decision for the last 3 or 4 rounds of free-epic voting, so I'm very glad that it finally made it to the top of the list. And it's every bit as good as I was expecting.

"What else would you suggest, Rampart?"
said Patches. "Political sanctions haven't
worked. Economic sanctions haven't worked.
Multiple assassination attempts have failed.
Far as I know, nobody's tried miracles yet.
What have we got to lose, anyway?"


Exactly. There's an ongoing major hazard, and nothing else has worked, and now you have access to something nobody else has ever been able to try? You'd be a fool not to take a shot.

And then the really hard part begins... because bringing Haboob back to his faith is only going to be the first step.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-11 07:50 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Hoo boy... on a Mission from God! I do like the line though:
"Well, if it was easy," Rampart said,
"God wouldn't need to send superheroes!"


It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-12 01:02 am (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
O_O

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-12 03:34 am (UTC)
thnidu: Seven-branched Temple menorah, symbolic of all Judaism, not the 9-branched Chanukah menorah. bethelcongregation.org (menorah)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I just read the WuduMate brochure you linked to, and I am impressed with the requirements in the UK.

In the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) here in Philadelphia there is a multi-faith chapel. I'll try to remember to get some pix of it.

Wouldn't the team's armbands be better as a Red Cross and Crescent, or even + Magen David? Or is the Red Cross emblem generally accepted in Terremagne as nonreligious in intent?

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-05-12 04:16 am (UTC)
thnidu: plus sign (plus)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
It is generally considered nonreligious.

Not locally AFAIK, at least by Israeli officialdom and those of Muslim nations, whence the Magen David Adom and the Red Crescent.
...
Well, whaddya know? Magen David Adom not widely recognized, whence Red Crystal created instead.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-05-12 06:46 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Agreed. I was talking about our reality, and hoping/figuring T would be more sensible.

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