Obligations
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The beginning was defined primarily by separation. It was a mess of thoughts, of feelings. To be honest, it was difficult for one to say if it was truly an existence at all at that point, but it was there. There, and all too short. Ghufran was made to sigh by the brevity of such memories. The beginning was separation, and then the light came into him. And everything was ruined.

He remembered, distinctly (though he had no nostrils to speak of), the smell of the desert air. The stinging of the wind and the feel of the coarse earth. Every single thought, every sensation from that point on was utter agony to him. His brothers did not know this pain, and they were quick to establish themselves. 'Yes, I am', he could practically hear them say. 'I'm here. I'm thinking.'

And one by one, they would come to know their names, as if they were branded with them. The others were, of course, prideful enough to credit themselves with this - with names, with being. Though they offered lip service to the humans, recognized the possibility that their coming was a cultural phenomenon (Ghufran nearly spit the word out), it was not in their minds that this was the case. How he hated his brothers. Almost as much as he hated the humans. It was true, he had decided soon after his 'birth', that they were responsible for his creation. There was no doubt in him at all that the widespread belief in the djinni had come to make them so. But if humans were his creators…

Ghufran was drawn back into reality by a tapping upon the chair in which he was seated.

"Are you listening? It is, eh, Ghufran? Yes?" The thin, bearded man opposite the desk in front of him was clearly asking a question, and the crease in his brow seemed to indicate that he wasn't exactly pleased with Ghufran's tendency to let his mind wander. "I am sorry, perhaps it was a bit rude to distract you. My speech can be very dull I'm told, and you seemed to find the wall there much more interesting." The man pointed demonstrably to the wall and then back to himself, causing his fatigues to rustle slightly. "Now, as your House has finally seen fit to contract with our office, a few of you have been assigned to work with our teams. You came…" He paused for a moment to look over some documents gripped in his sweaty hands. "…well, let us say, 'recommended'."

Ghufran nodded curtly, to show that he had been paying attention this time around. Inside, he bristled.

"I will say again, since you did not seem to hear the last time. My name is Karim al-Abbasi. From now on, you will be following my orders."


The subject's pupils constricted as the beam of the flashlight was directed toward them. Ghufran did not know what this meant. A good sign, or no? It is normal. That is all. He let out what might have been interpreted as a sigh and leaned back in his chair.

Karim, meanwhile, stood in the corner of the tent and looked over a folder full of documents, as he was wont to do when his nerves seized him. At the sight, Ghufran could not help but smirk haughtily. The show of strength did not last long, did it? Humans are all the same. They all piss their pants when they are given even the slightest glimpse of—

The train of thought was interrupted as Karim looked away from the papers and opened his mouth to speak. "Well? What do you think?"

Ghufran only shook his head in response. There was a brief pause before he elected to expound upon the gesture. "I am no doctor, but he seems to be in good health. The muttering is trouble, of course. But you did not need a Type 2 to tell you that." He had taken to using the term to define himself. 'Type 2'. It seemed sufficiently detached. "Smiling God? What is that, Smiling God? It is absurdity. A bunch of beshoor antar who have lost their heads to a shiny object." The mention of the 'Smiling God' caused the subject (one of the ORIA's own personnel) to resume his nonsense muttering. Ghufran scowled and pushed his chair out while Karim clicked his tongue and returned to the safety of his papers.

"They may ask us to investigate this in person, you understand. It does not seem likely to go anywhere. There's a request to abandon the project in here." Karim waved the manilla folder gently before slapping it down on the only folding table in the tent. "A fool's errand, I suppose." Still, the shaking in his hand said plenty about the possibility made him feel.

Having no place in his heart for sympathy, Ghufran simply snorted in response. "You fear this…thing? I have read the reports as well. 'Oh, the Type 2 Personnel'," he said in a mocking voice, "They are also afraid. So very afraid of the shining orb." Ghufran turned his head to the side and spit upon the ground. "Have we been reduced to this? We were low when we came to be, beholden even to khuk humans, but now a floating, formless heresy makes us weak at the knees."

"You sound disgusted."

"That is because I am."

Karim clicked his tongue once more and poked his head out of the tent, gesturing for someone to come and remove the man who had not yet ceased his fanatical mumbles. For a moment, the area was empty of prying ears. "You are not worried about this, then?"

Another shake of the head was Ghufran's immediate reply. "If they send us out, we will have no trouble. I am not worried, no." He moved to the entrance of the tent in two quick strides, only turning back toward Karim once he had partially lifted the left flap. "You will need to send a report once we are done, yes? I will start it for you. The situation with Project 934 has improved dramatically…"

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