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A land most unholy

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PART ONE: Naqam.

Namal Aroer, Mahoza Tribal Area
10 April 1908

It was an average morning in the port city of Aroer. A group of fishing boats were starting to come back to the harbour after a night of fishing, when on the distance a ship, the likes of which the locals have not seen before, was passing through the harbours break wall. Up until this morning, the locals have only encountered Barks and ships with sails. Never before had they seen a ship with cannons on them, let alone a ship made of steel. Kids could be seen along the break wall along the wharf, waving to the fisherman, when the ship, HMGS King George, made anchor in the middle of the harbour.

A few hours had past, the fishermen were still off loading their catch in to horse-drawn carriages and some were selling fish straight off of the boat. People were making their way around the markets, gathering the supplies for their festive meals for Shabbat. Throughout the day, the ships launch, could be seen making trips to and from the ship to the wharf, where it would offload sailors who were going on shore leave, and loading supplies for the ships return journey back to home port. Both new and seasoned sailors were amongst the group of sailors on shore leave, were amongst the first Gallambrians to set foot in Mahoza. Many had chosen to take refuge in the local inns for a few days of respite, others had opted to take a trip to other towns in the area.

Having no idea about the local rules and custom and also the sensitivity of Yehudah holy days, a majority of the sailors had brought some liquor and beer on shore, that they had bought in Nystras. Around 5pm that night, not knowing that there was no where to buy food, the sailors, some who had been drinking since midday, started breaking into cafe's and peoples houses looking for food. The Shomrim, a group of volunteers who patrol the neighborhood, see a couple of sailors break into the rabbi's house. When the Shomrim, see the sailors leave the Rabbi's house, they open fire on the sailors, killing them. Other sailors around the town, hear the gunshots, and start running towards the source, and the Shomrim start firing on the other sailors.

A few days had past, and other sailors who had gone out of town for their leave, had started to arrive back at the wharf for muster, when they realise that there were 5 sailors missing. The ships Captain, James Williams, came ashore to great the towns leaders and thank them for hosting his sailors. A few moments after coming ashore, the Captain, was met by his sailors, but also a group of townsfolk, armed with rifles and swords. The leader of the group, who called himself Nakam, walked up to the Captain, pointed his pistol at him and asked him in very broken anglish, "Are you kabarnit of the ship?" - the captain, unsure what he meant, responded with a hesitant yes. Nakam cocks his pistol, and shoots the Captain, killing him instantly. The group of sailors ran towards the captains body, in the vain hope they could save him, and the Shomrim opened fire on them.

After a few tense moments, another group of Shomrim arrived at the wharf, and surrounded the sailors. Nakam speaks up, "You are all now my prisoners. Your sailors violate the sacred Mikrah. You will now all pay." The Shomrim escort the sailors to the gardens of the towns Synagogue, where the towns chief rabbi, addressed the sailors, in an understandable, educated anglish. "Well you are now aware of what has happened. We are a people that welcomed you to our town yet you repay us by breaking into my home, and desecrate our most holy text. What would do if we broke into your priests home, and urinated all over your priests holy text? Nothing! Because you are a god-less bunch. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. We are a peaceful people, and you think it was wise to bring your drunken behaviour to our town! Some of your people have already paid the price for this barbarity."

The Rabbi walks away and talks to Nakam in yehud, After a short while he returns to the sailors.

"As a sign of courtesy, which evidently, you have failed to show us, you will all be put to trial in front of the tribal council. Nakam and his men will now take you to the town square.", he tells the group of sailors. It takes them about 20 minutes to walk from the Synagogue to the town centre, the sailors were quiet, walking in formation. The Rabbi, joins the tribal council in the centre, unbeknownst to the sailors, that he is the chief of the tribal council. He starts to address the crowd.

"My people, these godless men, from across the waters, have come to our town and destroyed our homes, robbed us of our possessions, and desecrated our Mikrah. The Mikrah, says we should put to death, those who blaspheme or desecrate the text. Those who have committed this crime, have paid that price." The Rabbi asks the crowd, "However, what should we do with the drunken sailors?" - the crowd jeering, some shout out "Kill Them!", "Stone them!". The Rabbi turns to the council, where they all nod their heads.

Not knowing how many sailors came off of the ship, the Rabbi and the council were oblivious to a group sailors, who missed their carriage back to Aroer from Mahanaim, were cresting the hill, on the outskirts of town, that had a view of the town square, where the Rabbi turned to Nakam and gave him the order to kill the remaining sailors. The Shomrim open fire on the sailors in the open, with the tardy sailors witnessing the massacre, they turned away and ran for the town gates, along the road back to Mahanaim.

After two days of walking, they made the 90 miles to Mahanaim, where the immediately went the harbour to see the harbour master. They ask him if they could send a telegram from his office. He nods his head, and the sailors slide him a 5 pound note. One of the sailors starts keying a message.






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PART TWO: Searah.

Namal Aroer, Mahoza Tribal Area
A few weeks later.

A few weeks had passed since the executions in the town square, Nakam and the Chief Rabbi were walking down the main street to the markets, when the Rabbi stopped and said to Nakam, "Moeshe, somethings not right. What have we done? It feels like storm is coming." - Moeshe, scoffing at the Rabbi, arrogantly responds, "Rabbi, are you crazy? We did what we needed to do." - "I know", the Rabbi responds, "but what if we've kicked the hornets nest?".

After a tense few minutes of arguing, Moeshe slaps the Rabbi, "RABBI! Stop being a meshugener for a minute and think about it. We killed the whole ships company, their navy will probably think they have sunk in the middle of the Adlantic. We can scuttle their ship in the harbour and they will be none the wiser."

The Rabbi, considering Moeshe's plan, agrees to the plan, "Moeshe, I'm going to leave this to you. You and your kibbitz, are responsible for cleaning this up. By the way - what did you do with their bodies?" - "We buried them at the foot of the S'dom.", Moeshe responds.

"Excellent." - The Rabbi's attitude changed optimistically.

A few days later, a small row boat could be seen going out to the empty warship, with Moeshe and a few members of the Shomrim. It takes them about half an hour to reach the warship from the wharf. The Rabbi is at the wharf with members of the council, watching the operation unfold through a set of binoculars. Intently observing the operation unfurl on the warship, he sees a member of the Shomrim place down charges near the deck guns on the forecastle.

With the use of time-bombs to scuttle the ship, the need for urgency was paramount, but it brings with it high level of mistakes and errors. That being said, one of the men the ship had accidentally set the clock on the bomb near the ammunition cache, to 12:00pm, not 1:00pm as planned. The time is 11.57am. Unaware of his error, he continues placing charges around the forecastle. Moments later, two explosions seconds apart, could be heard across the valley. The Rabbi picks up his binoculars and scans the ship for the Shomrim, He could see them running to the aft of the ship, as the explosion continues to rip the ship apart. The explosion then reaches the aft cache, which seals not only the ships fate, but the fate of Moeshe and the Shomrim.


Mahanaim Port

The sailors had stayed in Mahanaim keeping the Admiralty up to date with events as they happened. Then all of sudden, the harbour masters telegraph system started to beep. One of the sailors puts on the headphones and starts to scribble down a message.





The sailor operating the telegraph then sends a response back to the ship.





One of the sailors approaches the harbour master and asks where they can get a horse and cart from to get back to Aroer. He tells them he has a spare one that they can take leave at his brothers farm on the outskirts of Aroer. They then leave his office and head to his house, where he hands them a couple of revolvers and rifles. "Take them for safety. You will need it.", he said, and before the sailors set off on their journey back to Aroer, he recites a small prayer in Yehud, "Shema ha-Bashan, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.", and then says to the sailors, "May Adonai the God of Bashan, give you protection, and may you find forgiveness in your hearts, for they do not know what they are doing. May you save us from retribution. Go and be protected by the angels." The sailors then start their journey back to Aroer.

Meanwhile, back in Aroer, surviving members of the Shomrim and the Rabbi, kept a closeful eye on the ship as it slips away into the waters, when a glint in the distant catches the Rabbi's eye. He picks up his binoculars and scans the horizon, where he sees three ships, similar to the one that the Shomrim just scuttled, approach the break wall. He then shouts at the Shomrim to take up their guns and take position.

A few hours later.

The sailors returning from Mahanaim had arrived back at Aroer, taking back alley ways to the wharf, they come across the Shomrim and the Rabbi standing around the wharf, and a mass of row boats marking their way to the pier. One of the sailors looks out to see three warships anchor further out near the break wall. Seeing that the Shomrim have a tactical advantage against the sailors and soldiers in the boats, they take up offensive positions around the arm getting ready to strike.

The Shomrim out numbered them ten to one, but they had a plan, take out the first rank and work their way backwards. They had to wait for the right moment.

A few minutes pass, and one of the sailors who took up position close to the Rabbi, gave a signal, and a hail bullets fell the Shomrim. With only a handful of Shomrim left, they sailors left their vantage points, continuing to engage them, they take the Rabbi prisoner till the rest of the troops and sailors arrive.

The boats start to arrive, tying up all along the pier and wharf, section by section of naval infantry and light infantry from the army start to disembark from the boats. They form up and take positions around the harbour, and then start to work their way through the town, rounding up remaining Shomrim.

A naval signaler starts to signal the ships in semaphore, to send the remaining parties in. Twenty minutes later, a gentlemen in his dress white navy uniform, got out of one of the boats, and approached the Rabbi. He speaks to him in Yehud, "Rabbi, I am Commander Jantje Beit, the captain of the HMGS Prince Henry. I want to know where the King George and her crew are." - the Rabbi responding that he doesn't know, when one of the King George's surviving sailors hits him over the head with the butt of his rifle, shouting "YOU f*ckING LIAR! TELL HIM WHERE THEY ARE OR I'LL KILL YOU."

The Rabbi retracts his answer, answering in anglish, "Captain, they are dead. Executed. The ship? It was sunk this morning." The sailor again strikes him across the head, rendering him unconscious, when one of the sailors from the Prince Henry, comes running to the wharf and says to the captain, "Sir, you need to see this quick, and you might want to bring him as well." - two sailors, pick up the unconscious Rabbi and the party follows the sailor to the town square, where they are confronted with blood stained stone.

The sailors drop the Rabbi on the ground, and await for him to regain conscious. He awakes, and the captain signals for the surviving sailor to take aim, and he boots his boot on the Rabbi's head. "Rabbi, I have a sailor next to me with his rifle pointed at you. If you lie to me, he'll shoot you. If you tell me the truth, I might let you go. do you understand?", the Rabbi nods, "Good, he continues, "Now, is this where they were killed?" - the Rabbi nods, the questioning continues - "Was there a trial?" - the Rabbi nods, - "Who was party to the trial?" - the Rabbi responds that the tribal council and himself were - "Who gave the order?" - the Rabbi works a hand free and points to himself.

The captain nods to the sailor, and the sailor fires his rifle, intentionally missing the Rabbi. The captain then shouts out to the crowd that had gathered around, "I WANT THE COUNCIL HERE NOW."

The Rabbi gets up and asks of the captain - "Captain, you're the storm aren't you?", who then replies,

"I am the searah, that will bring the flood."

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Part Three: Shillumah

Namal Aroer, Mahoza Tribal Area
2 May 1908

While troops were out rounding up the tribe's council, the ships tradesmen managed to build temporary brig's in the fish market and by lunchtime, the cells were full and the officer's of the ship were getting together to prepare for their trial. Commander Beit had been mulling over how they were to deal with the council. Beit and his Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander William Hughes, sat down with the Chief Rabbi, and senior members of the council, to ascertain the events leading up to the massacre. Jantje & William were starting to fume at the idea that these people were capable of such inhumane behaviour.

Later that afternoon, the tradesmen had finished setting up the platform and tables for the officers, in the town square. Jantje had called for the council to brought forward, one by one, the ship's Coxswains bring out the council members, after which, William started to read the statement written up by the ship's executive:

Gentlemen, you have been brought here today to face trial for murder of the ship's company of His Majesty's Gallambrian Ship King George, and the prevention of a lawful and respectful burial of their remains. We have received statements from member's of your community, and surviving member's of the ship's company.

While we are not educated in the cultural and religious laws of your community, it is expected that a collective of people respond proportionally and measurably to the crimes. With the fact that you had gall to put them on trial, that had no legal basis, no structure, and essentially was a show trial. Without the facts, and a true trial, you have dishonoured the spirit of natural justice.

Commander Jantje Beit will now address you.

William sits down, while Jantje rises to lectern.

Rabbi and member's of the Council - As a Yehudi myself, you have brought dishonour upon our once righteous people. Your treatment of the men of the King George, is not conducive with the teachings of the Mikrah. Due to the fact that you don't obviously respect the rule of law, both civic and religious, we are not going to give you chance to defend your actions.

As President of this Tribunal, ultimately the outcome of this trial and the punishment that will follow ultimately lays with me. As such, we, the tribunal have discussed the situation, based on the statements made by the Tribal Council and the Chief Rabbi, members of the community and the survivors, we the tribunal found you guilty of 190 counts of capital murder, and 190 counts of the prevention of a lawful and respectful burial. As such you all have seen sentenced to death, by firing squad.

As Jantje sits down, the Rabbi and council members get up and protest the tribunals decision. The Coxwain's walk up to condemn and lead them away to the sandbags that had been prepared. About a half an our later, a squad of men from the Prince Henry marched into the town square, armed with their rifles form a firing squad, while the Coxwain's started to tie the condemned to the poles. The towns folk started to gather around the town square. Without the ceremony of a normal courts martial - William takes post next to the firing squad, and bellows out commands to the firing squad - "SQUUUUUUUAD! HO!", the sailors bring their feet together, "SQUUUUUUUAD! SHOULDEEEEER ARMS!" - they bring their rifles to their shoulders - "SQUUUUUUUAD! PRE-SENT ARMS!" - they bring their rifles to the present arms position - "SQUUUUUUUAD! SHOULDEEEEER ARMS!" - they return their rifles to shoulders - "TAKE AIM." - they then aim their rifles at the condemned. - "FIRE!" - a volley of gunfire echos throughout the town, as the condemned bodies slump forward.

William walks up to the bodies, to check if they had died, he then stops next to the Rabbi, he is still breathing. William draws his pistol, and points it at the Rabbi's head to grant him a coup d' grace, but before he pulls the trigger, the Rabbi mutters in his dying breath, "Save these people from Shillumah. We have already paid the price". William then pulls the trigger, after which wailing from the crowd starts to ring out through the town square.

William walks up to Jantje, and asks of him, "Sir, the Rabbi muttered something before I dispatched him, something along the lines of 'Save these people from Shillumah' - what did he mean by that? - Jantje responds with a single word, "Retribution."


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Part Four: Hat'rasah

Aroer, Mahoza Tribal Area
3 May 1908

It was the next morning, and the families of those who were executed the day before, were given a chance to bury their dead, but the night was not with out incident. The Coxwains from all three ships were busy, after reports of violence against the ships companies, with their makeshift brig full by sun up. After his morning briefing with the Coxwains, Jantje decided action needed to be taken to ensure the safety of all of the sailors and soldiers on shore. He discusses his options with William and the Coxwains, with one of them, Petty Officer Jim Fraser, suggesting that they establish an internment camp on the outskirts of town, and arrest all fighting-aged males within the town and surroundings. William and some other Coxwains, piped up in disagreement, saying that, that approach was disproportionate, and inhumane. "Disproportionate and inhumane?", Jantje exclaimed, "What was disproportionate and inhumane was when they executed a whole ships company for the actions of a few pissant sailors."

Janjte sat down at his desk, and started to write out the orders of the day, that would be posted up in the makeshift orderly rooms. After which he called for William, "Now William, I know you voiced your opinion when Jim made the suggestion about the camp, but I need to know, if I go had with that suggestion, I have your support. If not, I'll have to send you back to the boat." - knowing that the situation as a whole is morale quandary, and that there could never be a happy ending to this whole incident, William reluctantly agrees - "Sir, regardless, you have my support." Jantje finishes writing the orders of the day, and hands them to William, "Good. Now can you hand these to the Duty PO and get him to post them. Also can you tell the Chief Engineer to come and see me?" - William tips his hat to Jantje and heads out.

A few days later, the tribal councils of the other areas of the Bashan, had traveled to Aroer to meet with Jantje to discuss the events of the last couple of weeks, and what will come of the Mahozites - when Menashe ben Tuv, the tribal leader from Shomron brought up the point that no men could be seen walking the streets of Aroer. Jantje had planned to play off any points about the internment of the men from the village, but all of a sudden the other tribal leaders had started to voice their concern as well. Janjte did his best to deflect the concerns, but ended up telling them that they've been interned. Rajab al-Salloum, the leader from the Sahrab tribe of Bani Nasir, stood up abruptly and started to shout at the council in Sahrabic - "This is what happens to you Yehudim, this is what you did to us in 1860 in Banu Harith, God has brought his upon you". After having Rajab's tirade translated by the other sahrabi tribal leader, Jantje, gets up and addresses the group of men. "Gentlemen, for all intents and purposes, this has nothing to do with you. This is between us and Mahozites. I ask you, if you have any concerns or grievances in regards to what's happened I ask that you discuss them with me personally. We are trying avoid any conflict here, and the dynamics of this group is not conducive of that. I thank you for your time." Jantje then gave William the 'we are leaving' look, and then walks back to the camp.

Moments later, while Jantje and William were walking back to the camp, the leader of the Dulaim Tribe, Naseem el-Khalid, approached Jantje and William and started to talk to the two, "As-salamu alaykum, Rabb, I have message from Rajab al-Salloum. He says that you have no authority here, and that if you don't leave our lands, you will pay the price." Jantje looks at William, they both snicker under their breath, then Jantje responds, "Naseem, tell him, that my authority here is the 190 sailors and officers that were killed by the people of this land."


Later that afternoon, a patrol was up in the hills around S'dom, when they come across a large patch of disturbed dirt. One of the soldiers, take his entrenching tool off of his pack, and starts to dig, and all of a sudden, something that looks like human flesh starts showing through the sod. The soldier then throws away his entrenching tool and start clawing away the dirt with their hands. They continue digging away, and a body of a recently deceased white male, was uncovered. It was clothed in what looks like to be a Gallambrian Naval uniform, the soldier starts to look for identification discs, when he finds them tucked into the deceased sailors trouser pockets. Nathan Smith N104010 12 FEB 1888 X/CATH - the soldier starts to write the details down, when another soldier starts to uncover another body, and another, and another. When the soldier says to the others, "I think we found them". They start to walk back to town to tell their superiors. Half an hour later, a work group of 50 soldiers and sailors could be seen marching out to the potential grave site.

After about an hour of digging, the work group had exhumed about 80 bodies, when all of a sudden, shots rang out, followed by bullets ricocheting close to them. The soldiers start to scan the hills and horizon, then they start to retreat back to town. As soon as they arrive, one of the soldiers go up to the camps 'warning bell' and starts to ring it. Jantje runs out of his tent and tries to find William. A few moments later he finds William napping in his, "WAKE UP DICK HEAD! CAN'T YOU HEAR THE BELL??" - William then jumps out of his cot "Go to the tent and telegraph the 4 transports outside of the Harbour to dock and unload."

Jantje and William start to walk back the command tent, where William heads to the telegraph desk and hands the message off to the signaler. Jantje starts to address the other officers and NCO's, "Gentlemen, it seems as tho, the locals think they can force us out of Aroer. Well the time has come to show them that we are a force to be reckoned with," Jantje then starts to assign orders to the NCO's, having soldiers positioned around the town with lookouts and runners to provide updates on enemy movements back to the command tent, he then continues, "We are lucky enough to have the GEMF still waiting outside the harbour for us, they will all be in port later this afternoon, we will have to our best to hold off any advance till then."

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