Zan Zar Zameen
Part 1 of the Kingmaker Arc.
|Zan Zar Zameen|
|Dates run:||September 6th-10th, 2007|
|Read the logs:||Zan Zar Zameen|
Just as the two forces came together, there was a loud cry that cut through the noise; one that the people from the mansion recognized as being telepathically enhanced. What no one really knew was what tribe or group used 'GO LEAFS!' as a war cry.
Strange occurences in West Afghanistan draw some of the school to a new challenge, and most importantly for Sooraya Qadir, a return to face her past.
Things started when a series of incidents begin to escalate in Afghanistan. First, a rise of protests and raiding by Pusthun nomadic tribes which forced the Taliban to impose tighter controls, that inflamed both the ethnic populations and the Islamic moderates. The rise of a mutant hardline madrasah that seem to be pushing an Islamic version of the Perservers tenets, also with a UN report detailing the resurgence of mutant kidnapping in the area. Finally when two Canadian citizens working at a Canadian disaster relief hospital outside of a refugee camp are killed, an investigation begins in the region.
The RCMP, the Canadian federal police force, is granted the right to send investigators by an increasingly beleagured Taliban, and they re-activated Garrison Kane to head to Afghanistan. Knowing the futility of the job, Kane decided to enlist several members of the school for help. Surprisingly, young Sooraya approached Kane directly. As a child, she lived through numerous raids of such types, and the increasing danger of the area, and the worry made her decide that she needed to help make some kind of distance. Reluctantly, Kane agreed. Helping Sooraya in secret was Ahmal Farouk, whose own clandestine ties in the region provided secret assistance.
They travelled to Afghanistan, quickly setting themselves up. It didn't take long for the rumours of the slavers and the madrasah to be connected, as they had taken other mutants, and the raid on the Canadian hospital camp stole away two identified Afghani mutants. Tabitha and Tommy posed under Canadian identities in the camp, to watch for foreign involvement and learned that the Canadians killed were investigating the slaver activity.
John's past with the Brotherhood was used as a lure, while he watched over Sooraya, and both entered the madrasah itself, meeting Abdul Sabur Taraki, the spiritual leader of the school. Monet and a husked Paige infiltrated the camp itself, speaking the language thanks to a temporary telepathic overwriting of their speech centres.
Kane, with Jono's aid as a telepath, left for the countryside, to meet with Burhanuddin Masood, a tribal elder who provided them with some details about the slavers. At that meeting, they were also approached by Natasha Romanova, who linked the slavers to an ex-KGB officer named Markov who had been organizing them covertly. Romanova revealed that Markov had been covertly funding the madarash in exchange for valuable mutant slaves for a growing human arms market.
Meanwhile, Taraki decided to purge the camp once and for all. Sooraya got the details of the raids, with many of the younger or weaker powered mutants being selected as glorious martyrs (suicide bombers) to cull them. Sooraya herself was offered an honoured position up front, as well as John, whose supposed link to Magneto (an infidel but spiritual kin) saw him into the plot.
Tabitha and Tommy, with the help of Sooraya and John, mounted a last ditch effort to save the camp, helped by the timely arrival of Jono and Kane. Monet and Paige were left to fight off a last minute lightning raid by the bought off guards into the camp, defeating them but revealing themselves not to be local.
With Taraki's men broken, and the slavers forced to flee, Kane passed over documentation linking Taraki with Markov, ensuring that between the Russians and the Afghani, both men would face trial. The documentation revealed another source, apparently the source of funding for both groups, as well as money for opposition groups like Masood's tribe.
Tabitha, John, Jono, Natasha and Garrison traveled into Mazer-e-Sharif, to find Qari Din Malik, the man behind the whole incident. The orchestrator of the funding turned out to be a moderate in the government, known for his support of a more secular democratic state. He revealed that the money came from unknown means, but after he was approached by men claiming to represent the "Kingmaker". They simply asked him what he desired most, and provided means to it.
His wish to topple the Taliban was behind the scheme. The radical madrasah and the attack on the slavers would have forced the Taliban to either challenge the rest of the world, or go directly against the strongest advocates of extremist Islam. The ensuing battle would have flooded funds and support to the moderate groups, who could have supplanted the Taliban government. Unfortunately, no evidence exists about this "Kingmaker", and they left just ahead of the arriving Afghani forces to arrest the man.
In the refugee camp, Sooraya came on her most shocking discovery. Elements of her former tribe were inside, and were able to lead her to a long awaited reunion with her mother.
Trivia and Meta
Tabitha discovered a new element of her powers during the battle, and the incident pushed her to rejoin the X-Men.
Tommy came to realise his powers had far more potential for good than he'd ever expected, using them to create needed medicines, with Paige's chemistry knowledge backing him up.
Jono's exertions tested his control over his physical body, cracks appearing in the construct and pushing him to swallow his pride and ask Forge for help.
In Afghanistan, possession of zan, zar, zameen (women, gold and land) is closely linked with perception of man's honour, and is also listed as the three sources of social discord. In the plot, the three villains are motivated by female slavery (zan), money (zar), and political influence (zameen).