XCOM 2 Countdown Calendar: Bahadur “Dentist” Al Baghdadi (Week 13/19)

Since nobody can be expected to just sit and wait for XCOM 2 to come out, we’ll be having ourselves a little countdown for the 19 sundays left between us and salvation. Each week I’ll be showcasing another soldier living aboard the Avenger, who they are, and why exactly it is they fight for XCOM. When the game comes out, I’ll be creating all of these and release them as a content mod for your character pool. But for now, this’ll have to do.

Keep in my that this is all completely fanfiction-based and I am in no way affiliated with Firaxis. I just do this as a fun writing exercise, because I can.

An encounter with:

Bahadur “Dentist” Al Baghdadi, from Saudi Arabia:

 

 

Al Baghdadi is bartering in the vending machine corner of the mess hall, which he has dubbed ‘the bazaar’. Currently, he is offering a broken pocket watch, a packet of licorice candy, a necklace made of chryssalid pincers and his ration of breakfast bacon for a month to an engineer, who has a deck of playing cards, a stick of lip moisturiser and slightly battered real cashmere gloves on the table. A crowd has formed around them, observing the proceedings as though they were a game of poker, some getting ready to trade themselves. After several minutes of haggling, he trades the watch, the necklace and the bacon for the gloves and the cards. Additionally, he has gotten the engineer’s promise to give him a very good deal at some point in the future.

“You have to invest in tomorrow to get ahead. Lose a little when you have it, gain more when you need it. The most important commodity in times of trial is not goods, but people. Doing favours for each other makes us grow closer together, it’s like psychology.”

He taps two fingers on his heart.

“We write favours out as cheques, because the westerners don’t understand the validity of anything if it isn’t put on paper, and we even trade them, so you may find yourself cleaning the weapons of someone you barely talk to because he made that deal with the man you just bought a softer mattress from, and you paid with the debt of having to cash in that favour for him. It’s great. People used to do that in the Great Caravan of ’22 and I was surprised that nobody knew about it on this ship. Then again, the ADVENT kept the existence of the Great Caravan out of the media.”

Al Baghdadi takes out a vacuum flask and pours himself some tea.

“I was barely a man when people all over my country started leaving their cities and settlements behind, banding together in a huge convoy and making their way across the land. It was a form of peaceful protest, taking from the aliens the only thing they could not force us to give them: our souls. Smaller caravans soon started in other countries and caught up with us until we were thousands, making our way through mountains and deserts, without a real goal or direction. Nobody could stop us, all national borders had been lifted, we were doing nothing illegal, we weren’t even really protesting, just leaving. Personally, I was part of our police. It was difficult, keeping the tensions between different cultures and languages in check, especially without a clearly defined command structure or even knowledge of who was and who was not police. We were people with guns, but so were the criminals, who sometimes acted like police also. There was this gang of Turkish bootleggers, always at odds with the Egyptian porn-peddlers because each thought what the other did was immoral and against God. They kept arresting each other and cracking down on deals, and then we had to roll in in hopes that they would recognize our authority.”

Before taking a gulp, he gives a fond chuckle.

“But when the time came, we all banded together against the ADVENT – and lost. Most of the Great Caravan consisted of families, not soldiers. The aliens didn’t care. They just opened fire from plasma mortars near Ashgabat and then sent a platoon of soldiers in to deal with the rest of us. But some survived, probably due to the law of large numbers. Yes, waking up in a pile of bodies, half my face feeling like it was on fire was a horrible experience, but at least there is someone who can keep the tale of the Great Caravan alive. I fight for XCOM, because I carry with me the ghosts of thousands dead, and peace is no longer an option.”

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