Friday, November 23, 2012

Birth of the Mardween (2012) by Jordan S. Bassior

"Birth of the Mardween"

(c) 2012

by Jordan S. Bassior

IntroductionShort for "Martian Bedouin," the Mardween are an Arab-derived culture of Sunni Muslim religious fanatics who emigrated to Mars in the late 21st and early 22nd centuries to practice their Wahabbist cult with strictures increasingly-illegal on Earth, including extreme patriarchy, honor-killings and the enslavement of non-Mardween.  The Mardween were implacable enemies of Western Civilization in general and of the American Mandate in particular:  in truth they deeply hated all life and civilization other than their own.  In the end they became merely a force for chaos and destruction, a taint on Mars and Mankind.

The First Martian Hegira
The culture was founded by Ahmed Jabril ("The Founder") Farouk who on January 15th, 2089 led the first Hegira to landfall on Mars, with the intent of eventually dominating Mars by demographic expansion.  Farouk's followers first setled around northern oases, and were tolerated by the other Martian settlements as long as they refrained from raiding them.  There, they built conventional domed outposts and shallow subterranean settlements, architecturally-similar to (if a bit better-fortified than) those constructed by the other Martian cultures.  In these early days, these Muslim colonists were still sufficiently weak -- and sane -- to avoid provoking a war of ethnocide from the other settlements:  indeed they participated in the 2097 declaration of the Martian Confederation, and fought for the Confederation against both the abortive 2150-51 attack by Lee III and the successful invasion in 2154-55 under Lee IV.

The Second Martian Hegira

When the American Mandate finally conquered Mars, in 2155, Farouk's eldest son and successor, Abdullah ("The Grim") led the most fanatical of his followers south of the equator into the deep deserts, in what was called the Second Hegira.  There, they at first attempted to build normal colonies, though well-concealed from the American authorities, in the hopes that risings would sweep the American presence from Mars, allowing them to return to the Founder's plan.  Part of Abdullah's strategy was to refrain from raiding as much as possibe, and to conduct such raids only by indirect and deniable means, so that the blame might be put upon "bandits."

In 2169, however, an astute investigator for the American Forces Military Police successfully proved to the satisfaction of General Sutton that Farouk's Wahabbists were actually behind the raids.  US forces descended upon Abdullah Farouk's capital of Sira by near-total surprise and captured the colony, finding ample evidence of Wahabbist misdeeds, including slaves taken from other Martian settlements, and stores missing from military convoys and depots.  Abdullah the Grim was slain in the fighting, but intelligence captured from his computers and some of his other followers allowed Sutton to roll up and occupy the Wahabbist settlements.

Here, the Mandate missed a major opportunity, because Sutton did not have the authority to disperse the Wahabbist civilians and hence end their culture.  Some of the most fanatical Wahabbists were able to escape into the unsettled deserts, where they set up heavily-stealthed subterranean encampments and made only the most minimal contacts with civilization, even Muslim civilization.  The populace in the Muslim settlements, both northern and southern, strongly sympathized with these fanatics -- for the first time called "Martian Bedouin" -- and young hotheads frequently ran off to join them. 

When Sutton tried a partial dispersal in 2171, through mass arrests in the most egregiously-rebellious settlements, to cut off supplies to the Bedouin, he aroused political opposition amongst liberals back home, who argued that he was unfairly persecuting a rich and unique culture that merely wanted to be left alone to their traditional way of life.  The new Commander Nicole Lee, fifth of her dynasty and one who imagined herself to be highly enlightened in the European mode, repudiated Sutton's actions, released his prisoners, and sent Sutton back to Earth, to take control of the continental defense of Antarctica.

In 2176, the shocking pornographic broadcasts made by Nicole Lee, as part of America's Quadricententennial Celebration, outraged many people throughout the Solar System, and in particular its Muslim population.  The terrorist atom-bombing of Washington DC was seen by many religious fanatics of all stripes as a sign that Armageddon was upon the Universe.  On Earth, there was widespread Muslim rioting. On Mars, these events both offended the Muslims, and heartened them when they saw Nicole Lee's incompetent and cowardly reaction to the attack on Washington DC, which included a pointless persecution of the Changists (a group hated by orthodox Muslims and blamed by Lee V for the attack) -- in an effort to avoid having to confront mainstream Islam.

In 2177, Lee V made matters worse by dispatching her favorite LaRousse, whom she had made a Marshal in the American Forces, to Mars to serve as Governor.  Marshal LaRousse was despised by much of the American military because of his inept response to the Muslim attacks of 2176, and the appointment was a deliberate attempt to remove him temporarily from the Terrestrial scene so that he might be returned at a future date, his sins overlaid by more recent blunders by other high officials.

LaRousse was a very poor choice for a Governor.  To begin with, he viewed his appointment primarily as a golden opportunity to line his own pocket through bribery, graft and outright extortion.  The wise policies of the late Commander Lee IV had led to a Martian economic boom, with the combination of superior Martian technical skill and access to the huge Terrestrial and Lunarian markets proving immensely profitable for Martian commerce.  To LaRousse, these thriving enterprises were so many geese to be plucked -- or even slaughtered -- for his own benefit.

So highly-skilled Martians, in control of a sizable and modern industrial infrastructure, who had been reconciled by Lee IV to American administration on the proviso that their economic growth was encouraged, were now being plundered by the disgraced favorite of Lee V, and plundered so ruthlessly that they were thrown into recession.  The Martians had been free a scant 22 years earlier -- just one generation past -- and they were far from tamed to the point that they would submit meekly to such treatment.

Formal delegations were rebuffed with scorn.  Public demonstrations were dispersed with lethal force.  Angered, and mourning the death of some of their own youth, the Martian political leadership readily accepted arms smuggled in from the League of Europa -- and supplemented them with many more munitions forged in Martian factories.  Survivors of the original wars of 2150 and 2154-55 provided leadership; the new generation was already old enough to provide ample recruits.

The rebellion against LaRousse erupted in 2178, just two yearsafter the appointment of that venal Governor.  Among the Martians joining in the rising included the Muslims, which was ironic because LaRousse's malfeasances included an almost complete suspension of patrol and law enforcement activity against the Muslim settlements (he preferred to use his forces to intimidate the wealthier non-Muslim towns, the better to fleece them).  LaRousse was so plainly a despicable, licentious coward that all this attempt at appeasement produced was utter scorn on the part of even the more moderate Muslims, let alone the fierce Bedouin of the South.

In the encounter, LaRousse's forces -- led by political favorites and supplies stripped by embezzlement -- proved woefully below the normal Mandatial standard, and far less able than were the Martian rebels.  In a mere month the rebels seized control of the whole planet and its orbital facilities; only the forts on Deimos remained in American hands, and these were so besieged that the commanding officer at Deimos, Brigadier Leonard Oswald Ferrell (a more competent nephew of that Terrence Ferrell famously ambushed at Blackrock in 2121) was barely able to keep enough lasers and casters working to prevent a precision bombardment of his works.

With this victory the Bedouin -- led by Hakim ("The Cruel") Farouk, younger brother of the slain Abdullah, ran wild.  They were just sufficiently sane to avoid attacking their fellow rebels, but they did make prisoner various American and other foreign personnel, both military and civilian, and upon them visited the most horrible abuses.  Many were mutilated and enslaved; others simply slain, with or without slow torture.  Some of the worst atrocities were actually comcast to Earth, by way of defiance.

These actions horrified not merely the Mandate but also all sane men throughout the Solar System -- including most of the Martian rebels.  When Morton Blythe Stanek formed the Second Martian Confederation, it was with great reluctance that the Muslims were represented, and it was generally understood by the other Martians that the Muslims were to be kept away from any real decision-making powers -- which politically-weakened the revolutionary regime.

Marshal LaRousse survived the defeat of the Mandatial forces by fleeing Mars -- not for Deimos, which he judged doomed -- but for Luna.  Faced with political embarassment and strategic disaster, Lee V brought General Sutton back from his Antarctic obscurity, made him a Marshal, and put him in command of the American Martian Expeditionary Force, tasked with recovering Mars for the Mandate, and suppressing the rebellion.

Sutton swept swiftly to Mars, taking the calculated risk of leading with a strong force of assault carriers, strike cruisers, destroyers and fast tenders, while the main body of battlefleet lagged behind.  Consequently, he was able to arrive in early 2179, before the Martians had sufficiently fortified Phobos, and though his light forces took losses from the enemy defenses, his torpedoes battered and then his marines captured the inner Martian moon,  allowing Ferrell to reopen the port on Deimos and opening the port on Phobos to the American transports.

Now with strong superiority in Martian orbital space, Sutton brought up his battleships and bombarded the Martian surface defenses into uselessness, gaining complete orbital supremacy.  Massing his forces rapidly but with precision, he bombarded local defenses around Bradbury and effected a landing at that port, seizing and strongly garrisoning a wide worldhead.  He was able to hold it against desperate Martian counterattacks, within which could be landed further reinforcements.  The Martian ability to concentrate against his landing was limited by orbital interdiction fire, and Sutton's own ability to make raids and even secondary landings as required elsewhere on the planet.

As for the Second Martian Confederation, following the fall of Bradbury its political disintegration was rapid.  Sutton was almost as canny a diplomat as he was a general officer, and he knew Mars well enough to grasp where lay the political faultlines.  He covertly treated with all the major Martian factions, even the Muslims, and offered all pardons and good treatment should they submit to the American Mandate.  As one after another settlement and faction surrendered even before his troops rolled up to their gates, he was as good as his word toward most of the factions -- but not the Southern Wahabbists.  The Martian Bedouin, of course, kept on fighting -- though after Hakim the Cruel died in an American raid on October 26th 2179, they fought as independent bands, clans and families rather than as a united force.

Sutton had seen firsthand the barbarity of their culture in his 2169-71 campaign, and was well aware of the Bedouin atrocities of 2178.  After he had firmly garrisoned all Martian settlements -- especially those of the Muslims -- he conducted a thorough investigation into all actions committed by the Martian Muslims from 2171 on which would be considered criminal even in most Outie polities, such as rape, slavery, torture and the murder of prisoners.  All the while he recomcast the original atrocities, with tantalizing leaks from his investigations to outrage not only the population of the Mandate but also the reconquered Martians.  The final straw -- for the Martians -- was when he produced evidence showing that such abuses had also been committed against other Martians who had somehow fallen afoul of Muslim ire.

With this revelation, he sprung the trap.  The Martian Muslims were assigned almost all blame for both the revolt and its atrocities.  The other Martians gladly agreed with this notion.  Virtually every Muslim who had been an officer, official or even combatant in 2178-79 was convicted of war crimes.  Sentences ranged from death to mental enslavement to long prison terms.  Every child belonging to their families was judged to be in an unfit environment and put in fosterage.  The Muslim colonies themselves were confiscated in reparations for the atrocities and their lands and other assets put up for sale; their populations forcibly evicted and dispersed among other settlements, both on Mars and elsewhere.

The Third Martian Hegira

As one would expect, the most fanatical of the surviving Muslim Martians refused to accept this grim edict.  With the death of Farouk the Cruel, they had no overall leader, but the surviving Sheiks were able to organize escapes of families with considerable amounts of war-surplus equipment into the deep Southern deserts, far from even the old Wahabbist settlements.  There, the Mars-Bedouin were determined to make a stand for their religion, for their culture, and for their way of life -- including raids against and the enslavement of the unbelievers.

At first, of course, they were hiding far more than raiding.  American Forces pursued them, but desultorily -- as long as they stayed away from convoys and settlements, and did not make their presence obvious, the Americans were too busy rebuilding Mars to be able to devote the tremendous effort needed to find and neutralie every single Mars-Bedouin holdout.

Marshal Sutton would have liked to get them all, of course, but in 2180, less than one year after he had completed his conquest of Mars, the Second Great Muslim revolt erupted on Earth.  With significant portions of Earth itself under rebel Muslim control, Sutton could not keep most of his forces:  they were shipped back to the Terrrestrial System to support Marshal Hispano's Arabian campaigns.  While Sutton did not wholly abandon the field to the Mars-Bedouin, even in the deepest deserts of the south, all he could do was to guard scattered outposts, escort convoys, and carry out the occasional search-and-destroy operation -- usually in reaction to a Bedouin raid.

It was during this period that Sutton's troops -- often overstretched, tired, and increasingly-cynical about the prospects for long-term victory against such an elusive foe, began to call the Martian Bedouin simply the "Mardween" -- and the culture received the name under which it would be finally known to history.

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