toastysocks: (Default)
toastysocks ([personal profile] toastysocks) wrote in [community profile] bakerstreet2016-04-01 09:25 am

The Desert Caravan Meme

The Desert Caravan Meme




The sky is unimaginably large. Infinity as a pale, blinding blue, never a cloud. Your eyes always sting from the sand and from the bright, painful light.

This is the desert. It is the desert that lives in poetry: the shifting, formless sea of white and gold and red, in slow, sinking dune-waves. This is the desert of scorched cliffs and ancient stone; it is the desert of vast, eternal wind, bringing the bite of grit to bare skin. Sun's heat untempered by mercy and parched land flickering with false hope of oasis.

This is the desert of legend: the desert that hides prophets tucked in endless emptiness, where djinnis whisper on the winds and magic wells from the sands themselves. This is the land that can trap you and drain you, of memory, of past, of weakness; the land that secrets treasure away in caves and holds salvation in hidden water. This is the land that bakes you and cures you, lets the soft clay of your soul shape into something new.

The desert is a place forever between, broken with paths, sliced and scarred for the sake of trade. But the desert is a place itself, too, home for the nomads, the caravanserai, the dotted strips of live eked out of the dry. Home to the snakes and the birds and the twisted, thorny scrub, the camels and the horses.

It will seduce you with the rapture of quiet, the beauty of an emptiness that is never truly empty. But it will deceive you, too: a mountain days away that seems close enough to touch; a camp close enough to hear, but hidden in a fold of the dunes. If you lose your way, you could die of thirst an arms length from salvation. Dunes shift; paths bend. If you do not know the desert, it will kill you.

Who are you?
A traveler, trusting in the grace of a guide to bring your caravan safe to the other side;
A guide, walking by stars and distant hills through the land you know by heart;
One belonging to a caravanserai, an enclave of the desert, by precious water, gleaning a living from the harsh land and the travelers passing through;
A bandit, preying on the slow, plodding merchants;
A nomad, with the desert in your blood, watching the intruders pass through;
A hermit, solitary and empty, grown accustomed to the silence;
Or a creature of magic: a djinni, a sorcerer, a witch, a prophet?

What has happened?
An ordinary, exhausting day of travel, your mouth dry as dust?
Have you lost your way, straying, along and baking in the sun?
A raid by bandits, to take money, goods — people?
War, over territory? Over water?
Strangers arriving in the caravanserai?
Happening upon a celebration, of life, water, harvest?
A rainstorm, for the first time in years? A sandstorm, deadly, and far more common?
Or something else?

from here
napoleon_solo: (solo and gun)

Napoleon Solo | The Man from UNCLE

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-05 03:55 am (UTC)(link)
[modern or classic available.]
red_peril: (Lawrence who?)

Re: Napoleon Solo | The Man from UNCLE

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-06 03:53 am (UTC)(link)
Classic. I will be your directionaly challenged guide.
napoleon_solo: (napoleon solo)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-06 04:04 am (UTC)(link)
It was hot in the Arabian desert. Really Napoleon didn't expect it to be anything less. He mopped his brow with a handkerchief, having only gotten off the plane a few hours ago and been driven into the main town by taxicab. He hadn't yet changed his suit, looking out of place in this setting, but he was here with a cover as a tourist anyway.

There were quite a few camels 'parked' nearby. Napoleon walked over, suitcase in hand, to tap the nearest driver on the shoulder. "Excuse me," he said, switching to some broken arabic, "You guide me through desert? Yes?"
red_peril: (Lawrence who?)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-06 04:56 am (UTC)(link)
The man in the traditional white dress, to reflect the desert heat and keep the wearer cool, turned to regard the traveller with familiar and bemused blue eyes, "As-salāmu ʿalaykum. Hawl alwaqt aldhy wasal." Peace be with you. About time you arrived.
napoleon_solo: (solo and kuryakin)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-06 05:02 am (UTC)(link)
His surprise gives way to a look that says he should have guessed Illya would show up here like this. Mr. Waverly must have sent him ahead to scout the area. "Sorry, I was delayed." Translation being someone tried to follow him to the airport. But he had lost that particular Thrush agent, tying them up with customs while he made his getaway.

His mission, or rather their mission, was to track down a secret base somewhere in the Arabian desert. The general area was known but not the specifics. Or what was going on at the base. Napoleon casts a glance up and down the street before slipping Illya the map hidden between two bills of money. "The Seat of the Desert Birds, you know of it?"
red_peril: (Lawrence who?)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-06 05:27 am (UTC)(link)
That really needed no translation. THRUSH might be expecting them at some point. "I have heard of it," he took the money and the folded map. Not that he needed it. "I have made acquaintance of a man who knows where it is." He signalled another man over. "This my friend, Mohamed Halid Couscous."

The man was shorter than Illya and much older. He regarded Solo through half moon spectacles sitting on his nose. "As-salāmu ʿalaykum."

"Mohamed, you will have to forgive my friend, Solo. He is not as familiar with the customs of your people as am I," Illya explained in flawless Arabic. He switched back to English for Solo, "We have clothes and supplies. You should probably go into the tent there and change into something a little less conspicuous and a lot more comfortable in this heat."
napoleon_solo: (surely you jest)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-06 05:32 am (UTC)(link)
Solo bows slightly, greeting him in kind. His Arabic wasn't as smooth as Illya's but it got him by. He looks down at his suit ruefully. "Not exactly what the locals are wearing this year, is it?" Solo preferred a suit, but in this heat, Illya was absolutely right.

A few minutes later, Solo has a black robe on, tying a white headdress on as he steps out of the tent. Eyeing a man across the street who he is certain has been there since he arrived. Might be Thrush, might not. It paid to be observant in this business.

He strolls over to the camels again. "Where's the keys?" he asks, tongue in cheek.
red_peril: (pic#10151430)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-06 05:52 am (UTC)(link)
Smiling, Illya hands him a riding crop and signals the camel to kneel. The animal got down on it's knees so that Solo could mount it's saddle. "Go easy on the crop, she spits when she's unhappy," he warned.
napoleon_solo: (solo napoleon solo)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-06 05:55 am (UTC)(link)
Solo gives the camel an affectionate pat on the neck before mounting. Keeping his voice low, "Seen the merchant across the street? Striped robe, smoking his third cigarette?"
red_peril: (pic#10152791)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-06 06:13 am (UTC)(link)
"Yes. I did notice him," Illya said, signalling Mohamed over. "That man, there, do you know him?" he asked quietly.

Mohamed glanced at him over Illya's shoulder, "No. That is my brother-in-law, Assam's fruit stand. That is not Assam. Would you like me to arrange a distraction for him?"

napoleon_solo: (Default)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-06 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)
"Thrush sure gets around these days," Solo comments as he adjusts himself in the saddle. He had thought they would at least have a days start on them this time.

"If you're able to, that would be," he starts before the man holds out a hand expectantly. "...great." Figures. He gives Illya a look that says you and your friends as he finds a coin to pay the man.
red_peril: (Lawrence who?)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-07 01:53 am (UTC)(link)
"Everyone is a capitalist these days," Illya said with a smile and a shrug. As if to say 'Why blame me?'

Muhammed disappeared for a few moments and then reappeared with a gaggle oh grammar school aged children. He gave them each some coins and told them in Arabic to go get themselves something from the man at the fruit stand. They eagerly mobbed the man that had been watching the agents. "Go quickly my friends. Peace be with you," he said.

Illya mounted a white horse and they raced off into the desert.
napoleon_solo: (Default)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-07 03:34 am (UTC)(link)
"And to you," Solo says before he follows behind Illya. Slightly less graceful with the camel but no less quickly.

Soon the town is left far behind and they're out in the shifting sand dunes under the hot sun. Not one cloud in the sky. Napoleon slows down his camel, pulling a small compass out of his belt to check their heading.

"What direction do you have, Illya?" He was the one with the map, after all.
red_peril: (Illya of Arabia)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-07 04:38 am (UTC)(link)
He checked the small map and his own compass. Solo had arrived at the airport in the city of Riyadh and had met up with Illya just outside the city of Al Karjh to the South. "We are heading deeper into the desert travelling South East. We shall arrive at our destination, the former village of Al Obilah in a day."
Edited 2016-04-07 13:20 (UTC)
napoleon_solo: (Default)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-08 04:56 am (UTC)(link)
He took a measured swallow of water from the canteen at his side. "Hopefully by nightfall if we hurry. That'll give us some time to scout the area and find out what they're up to." Napoleon preferred to break and enter under cover of darkness. Plus, it wouldn't be so stifling hot for sneaking around. "The briefing was more vague than I'd like."
red_peril: (pic#10152791)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-08 05:27 am (UTC)(link)
"For good reason. Whatever happened out there at Al Obilah, the locals aren't saying much. I got the impression that they are very afraid to even talk about it." They rode on in silence for a while. After a few hours, the sun started to lower in the sky and they reached a well. Illya dismounted to fetch water for his horse and to refill their canteens.
napoleon_solo: (Default)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-08 05:36 am (UTC)(link)
"Those who talked about it are probably no longer an issue," Napoleon says grimly, handing over his canteen. Mopping his brow with the end of his headdress before checking his sidearm.

Which he quickly puts away as he hears a low hum coming closer and closer. Sounded like a helicopter. They needed to keep up appearances, just a couple of nomads wandering in the desert. Nothing to see here.
red_peril: (Lawrence who?)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-08 07:40 pm (UTC)(link)
It was indeed a helicopter. A small one that zipped by the watering hole without a second glance in their direction. It was flying in the same direction that they had been travelling. Illya handed Solo his refilled canteen. "Looks like a little bird is coming home to roost."

Leaving the well, he grabbed a pair of binoculars from his bag and walked up the ridge. Staying low, he laid flat behind a rock. The helicopter was landing right where they had been planning to go. He peered out to see a man and woman get out and head for a doorway hidden behind a rocky area.

In the valley below, where the village had once been, was a rather large crater. Not a single structure still stood. Looked like THRUSH was intent on leaving no witnesses to their plan. Whatever it was.
napoleon_solo: (solo and gun)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-09 04:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Napoleon finishes tying their rides to the well before following on foot carefully. Making sure to keep out of sight as he waits for Illya to report what he can see. "Any guards?" he asks as he digs out his gun scope sight from a hidden pocket on his robe. "What's it look like?"
red_peril: (pic#10152791)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-09 04:47 pm (UTC)(link)
"Not that I can see. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any," he said as Solo joined him. "Looks like a great big hole." He fished a small instrument from one of his own pockets and aimed it at the crater there. "Well, whatever it was they used to wipe the village off the map, it wasn't radioactive."
napoleon_solo: (uncle special)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-09 04:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Napoleon slowly came up to where he could see for himself, closing one eye to look through his scope and giving a low whistle at what he saw.

"I don't know whether I should be relieved at that or disturbed." If it had been radioactive, they would know what they were dealing with. What kind of mystery weapon could level a town so completely? Solo tosses the idea around in his brain as he lowers his scope. "...laser cannon?" he proposes, looking over at Illya.
red_peril: (pic#10153794)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-09 05:01 pm (UTC)(link)
"I hope not," the thought of THRUSH having access to such a weapon was enough to make him shiver in the desert heat. Illya focused his binoculars and looked more closely at the crater. "A laser cannon would melt the surrounding sand into glass." There wasn't any that he could see, but then he would need stronger binoculars. "I don't think it was a laser cannon. Still it would have to be some sort of high explosive. Neither thought is comforting."
napoleon_solo: (Default)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-09 05:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Solo moves down on the sand slightly to be out of sight, letting Illya watch for prying eyes as he pulls out his cigarette case. "If Mr. Waverly wanted us to be comfortable on this trip, he wouldn't have sent us to the middle of the desert." He fiddles with the dial, bringing communications online. "Open Channel D..."

It's a garbled response after a few moments, "Chan...nel D...open..."

There wasn't much for reception out there, but Solo makes their report as best as he can. "The crater is approximately a mile in diameter and circular from what we can make of it."
red_peril: (Illya Classic)

[personal profile] red_peril 2016-04-09 06:51 pm (UTC)(link)
There was more static over the radio, "Affirm... find... weapon." Illya listened to the message.

"The helicopter landed on the other side of the crater. They must have a base there," he said still watching through the binoculars. "We might find some answers there."
napoleon_solo: (Default)

[personal profile] napoleon_solo 2016-04-10 12:14 am (UTC)(link)
"We should probably wait till dark," Solo said, putting his radio away. "In all this sand, we probably stand out like flies on a windshield." It would be cooler and easier to move around at night too. Till then, they can make camp near the well and make plans.

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