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By A. A. Roberts

Shaheen Mohammad Padeshah V sent a silent prayer to Allah and poked his head out from behind the lichen blotched boulder. He scanned the rocky pass for targets through his optiscan. It was only a few minutes before dawn, but the electronic binocs lit the terrain up like it was under a noon day sun. Wind speed, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, target count and target range played out in bright red at the edges of the LCD screen behind the binary eyepiece.

Desolation... Rock, dirt, bare cracked cliff walls and the bones of too many soldiers that had turned to dust. Men's pride killed much more efficiently than the grim reaper on his black stallion, and over what? Today it was the Kuhghizar Mountains in northern Kashmir. Men had been dying over this barren patch of wind blown rock for nearly a hundred years. Today more would die.

The pass was still. The wind was a furious sculptor in this lifeless place. The brown cliff walls were etched with a furious run of cracks, crevices and crannies. There were a lot of places to hide. At the base of the cliffs was the refuse that had shed off the cliff walls over the eons. Sharp edged boulders the size of cars and buses offered even more protection for their enemies.

Shaheen jerked back just as a high powered bullet scarred the boulder where his head had been. The spray of rock dust peppered his face and stung his cheek. He admonished himself for being so careless and whispered another quick prayer.

He slid down the boulder to collect his thoughts. He looked back down the pass from where he and his men had entered. Dawn began to break over the mountain range, and a glorious red fire began to burn across what he could see of the horizon. The crimson morning light boiled on the underside of the few clouds that lumbered along in an otherwise crystal blue sky. Any other day, the beauty would have warmed his soul. Today the clouds looked like angry Gods; the dawn's fire looked like blood.

He rubbed his unshaven cheek and frowned at the three day old growth filling in around his once close-cropped coal black beard. He liked to stay well groomed despite the admonitions of the Mullahs. The faithful were not supposed to trim their beards, but then most of the faithful didn't spend weeks in combat. Shaheen's first brush with lice convinced him Allah would not begrudge him a few trimmed hairs.

It had taken Shaheen's Iranian commando unit, the Amesha Spentas, ten days to hump it up through the mountains to the Asabani pass. The trek was difficult over the sharp edged rock and cold clime. There had been no time for personal care other than the necessary.

They marched, climbed, and crawled without complaint as they were trained to do. The Amesha Spentas were unknown to the western world, but their name brought fear to the hearts of their eastern enemies. They had never failed a mission and, they took no prisoners.

Despite his current lack of grooming, Shaheen still could have drawn a desirous gaze from any of the fairer sex. His dark Middle Eastern good looks were sculpted to Davidian perfection. His body was the product of the most scientific training and the best drugs money could buy. He was a better-looking Omar Shariff with an Arnold Schwarzenegger's body. He was the perfection of Islam.

He leapt from his position behind the boulder into the trench behind him. His nine subordinates hunkered down in the ditch looking to him for orders. They were all similar looking, his Amesha Spentas. They were dark good-looking men with the bodies of new age Gods. Some bore the scars of battle, but this only enhanced their rugged good looks.

A carrion bird screamed from above, and Shaheen turned his attention upward. Several vultures circled overhead, presaging the days events. They knew this pass well... they knew it's history.

He held up a fist and then flashed a series of hand signals indicating the number of targets, target location, order of attack, and the selected maneuver. His men nodded and prepared themselves.

Shaheen grabbed his armored smart helmet from the trench floor and placed it over his head. The neckpiece automatically integrated with the cowling around his collar and hermetically sealed. A small system of fans at the base of the helmet would pass the atmosphere over a series of filters that would protect him from biological or chemical attack. Various communications and battlefield statistics played out on a virtual heads-up display at the periphery of his vision. If he wanted, he could communicate with his men via the built in encrypted wireless system, but they were under radio silence. Wireless systems made great targeting vehicles for guided grenades.

He took several deep breaths and was thankful that the communicator was off. No matter how much training a man went through, there was always fear before the battle. He was not afflicted with the mind numbing terror that drove men to inaction, but he felt a dozen acrobatic lizards leaping about his stomach, using his insides for a trampoline.

He unslung his KA209 assault rifle and flipped off the safety. He flipped the weapons fire selector to three round bursts and turned off the grenade launcher. They would be in far too close to use high explosives. He cradled the weapon and crouched deeper into the trench. He looked down the line at his men.

They looked like bipedal black bugs in their assault gear. Their helmet's visors were finished with a laser-diffusing mirror so that you could not see the face behind the transparent ceramic shield. Their black armor padded them up such that they were even more menacing looking. He smiled to himself at the sight of his subordinates. Here were nine great men upon which he could stake his life. Here was the pride of Islam. He would go into battle with no other.

He held up three fingers and counted down. His men crouched ready for the leap out of the trench. On zero, as one they leapt six feet into the air, firing controlled bursts from their assault weapons. Their super human leap made them seem like mad black grasshoppers. The cliff walls bordering the pass exploded into a shower of rock shards, dust, and shrapnel. It was as if a terrible Jinn slammed the rock with his iron fists in a fit of rage. To a man they landed on the run.

The Amesha Spentas sprinted for the cover provided by the boulders at the base of the cliff walls. Their Hindu opponents popped up with strafing fire. The Iranians were merciless with their targets. Hindu soldiers erupted from the impact of 10mm explosive rounds. Heads exploded like red blooms with brains for pollen. The Hindu projectiles rolled off the aracniweave armor that the Iranian commandos wore.

Within seconds, Shaheen and his men were in the boulders. Here and there they engaged hand to hand with the Hindus. The slaughter was brief and bloody. The Amesha Spentas were no less merciless than the insects they looked like. Assault weapons were brushed aside and Gurka knifes flashed from scabbards in a flash of chromium steel. Throats cut, Hindus silent and the Amesha Spentas moved on to the next target.

They rolled through the rubble at the cliff's wall like an amorphous, emotionless, killer tsunami. The chatter of automatic weapons and the screams of the Hindus were the only noises to echo out of the pass. In ten minutes the battle was over and Shaheen's men stood at the opposite end of the pass. He hadn't lost a single man. The Hindu body count would turn out to be fifty.

For a moment he surveyed the carnage. Lifeless, rag doll bodies were tossed about the boulders and the dusty floor of the pass like so much trash. The broken Hindu warriors stared up into an impassive sky with the empty eyes of the dead. The carrion birds cried out for their dinner from above. Shaheen hoped to disappoint them. These men had died with honor.

Shaheen strode out into the center of the pass and pulled out his long-range communicator from a leg pouch. His men instinctively formed a protective circle around him, a pride of lions protecting their king. He punched in the encryption code. He spoke Farsi into the transmitter even though his temporary commanding officer was Pakastani and was barely fluent. Of course Shaheen could speak Punjabi. He could speak a couple dozen different languages, but he enjoyed listening to the pompous Colonel make an ass out of himself.

"Target secured. Mission status green. Awaiting native replacements." He stressed the word native so as to suggest primative.

"Very good, Captain Padeshah. My men will be flown in to relieve you within the hour," the Colonel replied with undisguised resentment in his voice. His men had been trying to take this pass for six months. It galled him no end that he had to hire Iranian mercenaries to clear the way.

Shaheen sneered and replied with a curt, "Affirmative." He cared for the Pakistani Colonel about as much as the dead Hindu. At least they had fought bravely.

Shaheen turned and cursed himself. He should have seen the last Hindu in the rocks seconds earlier. He should have flung himself away instinctively when he heard the distinctive whoosh of the RPG. He should have tried to communicate to the disagreeable Colonel from the cover of the rocks. These were his last thoughts as the high explosive grenade landed at his feet and blew him to so many bits that all the Shah's horses and all the Shah's men...


Shaheen Mohammad Padeshah VI sent a silent prayer to Allah and dove in for his opponent's leading knee. Igor Gidzenko dropped to his back absorbing the force of Shaheen's bridging maneuver. The Russian was a chess master and applied his innate sense of strategy even to ground fighting.

Shaheen scrambled to gain mount position, but Igor spun and was on top of the young Iranian in a blur. Neither man wore a shirt and the iron dance of their muscles evinced the power these two men brought into play. Sweat ran in rivulets over dark skin and through a course of steel tendons, ligaments, and blood gorged veins.

Shaheen managed to slide into guard position with his legs wrapped around the Russian's waist. The two men looked more like thrashing lovers than combatants. Igor managed to pass by Shaheen's guard and throw a painful arm bar on the commando, hyper-extending his elbow. Shaheen screamed in pain and tapped out.

The grinning Russian extracted himself from the grimacing Iranian, "It is uncanny the way you fight like your father. I trained him too. You're his carbon copy. I guess the Doctor's magic works good, eh Maly Sokal?"

Shaheen's frown turned into a grin. The old soldier insisted on calling him Maly Sokal which was Belarusian for his first name. In Farsi Shaheen meant "Royal Falcon". The Belarusian turned it into "Little Falcon".

He rubbed his elbow and marveled at the bear of a man who threw him around like a rag doll. The Old Russian had to be close to sixty, but his beefy body was all lean muscle trimmed by years of hard training. He offered Shaheen a hand and dragged the younger man to his feet. The furry Russian had shaved his head and face, but his body was plush with a thick mat of salt and pepper hair. His round face was unlined, except at the corners of his eyes where a few crows had decided to dance. A mischievous glint hid behind those ice blue eyes.

Shaheen's peers referred to him as the unbeatable one on the mats. Igor made it a habit of proving them wrong, "You are a slippery old goat, and it's not magic."

"Bahahahahahaha, seems like magic to me... putting one man's brain into another."

Shaheen chuckled, "Not the brain, just some cells. A statistical sampling of my father's neurons."

Igor studied the young man as though he were looking for the father behind the eyes of the son, "How do they maintain... what do you call them? Ah yes, the neural paths when ripping the brain cells out?"

"I'm not sure I'd classify it as 'ripping out', but they take a snap shot of the pathways with an MRI. Once they put the cells in my head, they use a technique Dr. Palavi developed called organic magnetic resonance implantation. This rebuilds the pathways exactly as they were in the donor."

Igor smiled, "And so the son loses like the father."

Shaheen smiled and barked, "You bastard." With this the younger Iranian leapt on the Russian slamming him to the mat. Igor broke out into great peels of basso profundo laughter, and in a few seconds was once again on top of Shaheen.

The Old Russian waved a finger in Shaheen's face, "There is a difference between you and your father... he was smarter."

Shaheen grinned, "But he was not as persistent. I'm determined to kick your ass." Igor broke out into laughter again, rolled off the young man and with an acrobatic kip jumped up into a standing position. Once again, he offered an outstretched paw to his opponent and drew him up.

The sound of a clearing throat interrupted the two's men good-natured ribbing. They spun to find Dr. Palavi standing behind them. The middle-aged professor of microbiology had obviously been watching them for a while.

"I see that the training goes well Comrade Gidzenko."

Igor frowned and spat on the ground, "Please don't call me that. Bloody communists! I've no use for them. The bumbling idiots are still screwing up my country."

The Doctor smiled and gave him a knowing nod, "But YOU are doing an excellent job with Shaheen. One day, he may even be able to beat you."

Shaheen blushed and bowed his head, "Master Gidzenko strives to teach me humility."

Igor snorted in mock disgust, "It is more a case of the sins of the father. How can two men be so alike Doctor? Your magic is effective."

Dr. Palavi strolled up to Shaheen and began to give the young man a cursory medical inspection, "I'm sure Shaheen has briefed you on some of my techniques. Each generation of Padeshah becomes stronger than the last. Eventually we will have the perfect Islamic warrior."

Shaheen grinned, "You mean that's not me?"

The Doctor grabbed the warrior's wrist and began to take his pulse, "I see comra-, Colonel Gidzenko didn't entirely humiliate you."

"Colonel Gidzenko is the lord of the mats. I think he would agree that I am the better marksmen."

Igor snorted, "Bah! For that there is no dispute. He shoots like a machine! It is uncanny. I'm a certified marksman, but even I can not shoot the black out 100% of the time."

"And with today's modern warfare, being a better marksman is much more important than being a grappler. Your metabolic rate is barely elevated. Very good. Now you need to go see General Zanganeh. He has important news for you." The Doctor's mood visibly changed to a more serious nature.

Shaheen probed the man's dark brown eyes for a reason and seemed to instantly know what was wrong. "There is to be jihad?"

The Doctor frowned, "The generals must have their wars and play with their toys. You're not ready yet. The development process is too slow... not refined enough, and I'd like you to have more real world training."

"It's that dog Hussein who wants war. He probes our borders, kills our citizens and then accuses Iran of grave incursions. He's a bigger liar than his father or grandfather."

Igor scowled, "They're animals. Each generation is more insane than the next. Only God knows how they've managed to stay in power for so long."

The Doctor folded his arms across his chest and placed a finger on his chin, "By torture and execution. It can be an effective tool... for those with black hearts. Now go see the general Shaheen."

Shaheen bowed to his mentor and left the training compound. The Old Russian and the Doctor watched the future of Islam walk out of the compound.


Shaheen lay flat on his belly in the dust of the desert 100 miles north of Basra and east of Al Kut. He scanned the dust and hardscrabble plain in front of him with his optiscan. At least fifty blackened metal skeletons belched thick oily smoke. They were the blasted remnants of the Iraqis first assault. The wind blew up dust devils before the silhouettes of the dead tanks. To Shaheen the dismal place had an ethereal feel of Gods and Jinn.

Putin T90 aggressor tanks were desert lions. Their titanium, ceramic laminate armor made them very difficult to destroy. Shoulder fired missiles were useless... but the tanks had a weakness. The Russians did not design the under carriage nearly as well as the rest of the vehicle, a disastrous oversight for Iraqi tank crews.

The Amesha Spentas had developed a SEMTEX/thermite shaped charge that punched a whole through the bottom of the T90's and incinerated the crew. Unfortunately, the only method of delivery was by hand. Shaheen had sent too many men to their deaths this day.

Twenty more Putins were dug-in in a line three hundred yards from their current position. The Iraqis had smartened up. They no longer had any taste for being the aggressor. Each T90 sported four 30mm chain guns on rotating mounts. The three hundred yards between Shaheen's position and the line of armored death was a killing zone. Any attempt to rush through the intervening space would be suicide. Minefields prevented a flanking maneuver.

The smoke and dust of battle cast a gray pallor over the battlefield. The sky overhead should have been blue. High cirrus clouds drifted far overhead, oblivious to the folly of men. An oil haze choked the atmosphere, the definition of an evil wind. Ruined bodies littered the space between Shaheen and the tank. Too many of those bodies were his deceased comrades. The mosaic of greasy, low lying, atmospheric textures painted a gloom that echoed Gotterdammerung. Shaheen shuddered.

He swore to himself. He could see dust being kicked up on the horizon behind the line of armor. He knew full well that the Iraqi tanks were holding the line while reinforcements came up from the rear. His unit did not have the firepower to match whatever they were going to throw at him. General Zanganeh had miscalculated and sent only light infantry into this desert of death and the damned.

Shaheen crawled backwards like some oversized desert beetle and dropped back into the trench his men had dug. He had heard stories of the Iraqi's war with the Americans. The Americans put blades on their tanks and bulldozed over the Iraqi trenches. He shuddered again. He did not care to be buried alive.

The young Captain's expression was grave. His men knew him too well. From his expression, they knew they were in trouble. Private Peyman was the youngest of the bunch. His face was unshaven, but even with all that thick black stubble, he still had a baby face. The lanky young man began to giggle uncontrollably. Shaheen frowned. Such behavior was unbecoming of an Amesha Spenta.

"Private Peyman, do you have a joke you wish to share with the unit?"

The private got a hold of himself and stifled his laughter. His smile turned to an evil grin, "Toys!"

A confused Shaheen looked the man up and down. He had never heard of an Amesha Spentas giving in to battle fatigue before, "What do you mean?"

The private was obviously very pleased with himself, "Back in that small town ten kilometers from here was a toy store... out here! Hussein must have family nearby."

Shaheen was getting irritated, "So? Do you think we have time to play with toys now?"

The private's grin grew deeper, "We don't have a choice. There are twenty tanks blocking our way with more to come. The two stores had fifty or more radio controlled toy trucks and cars. They looked stout enough for us to attach our shape charges to."

Shaheen's eyes went wide. His expression changed to one of admiration. He was so proud to have such intelligent men under him. He broke out into laughter along with the rest of the unit.

After this uncommon bout of mirth passed, Shaheen turned to his first, "Sargent, take Private Peyman and ten other men back to this town and grab as many of these toys as you can... and make sure you get batteries too!"

The Sargent grinned and headed down the trench. He grabbed ten subordinates and took a cross trench that lead to the rear. In a few minutes the men would be on their way to go toy shopping.


They looked like black bugs skittering across the hardpan toward their targets. Twenty of his men had their heads barely exposed over the edge of the trench. It was hard to believe they were about to engage in serious warfare. The expressions on the faces of his men belonged more to little boys than the elite of the Iranian armed forces. He could see their ingrained competitive streak coming to the fore. They were trying to see who could blow up their target first.

Corporal Alipour was the first to drop the toy's radio controller and pick up the remote detonator. He wore a glorious smile as he depressed the thumb switch. The first tank shuddered in a great gout of flame, dirt and dust. A roar rolled over the intervening desert. The top hatch blew off and fire erupted to the screams of the tank crew inside.

The rest of the tanks started popping like metal beetles on hot pavement. The horizon filled with more smoke and flame to the cheers of the Amesha Spentas. A black curtain of noxious fumes raised up on the skyline to the sounds of ordinance exploding inside the tanks. Shaheen gave the signal, and his men lept out of the trenches. They rushed across the killing field in an absence of enemy fire.

The Iranians broke through the line of flaming tanks to find the Iraqi infantry at work digging trenches. An almost feral wave of rage engulfed the Amesha Spentas as they lacerated their enemies. The commandos mangled the Iraqis with automatic and grenade fire. The enemy infantry broke into a pitiful retreat of screaming, confused soldiers. The Amesha Spentas took no prisoners.

After twenty minutes Shaheen and his men had reached the enemy's rear. They caught the commanding officer in his tent with three of his subordinates. General Zanganeh had made it quite clear that there was no intelligence required from these officers. Shaheen had them dragged out of the tent and shot.

Private Peyman eventually brought Shaheen a stack of papers from the Iraqi officer's tent. He was slow to go through them, for he was intrigued by the aftermath of the battle that stretched out behind him. The tanks still smoked in the distance, and hundreds of bodies littered the landscape, the over ripened fruit of war fallen to earth. How many killing fields like this littered the eastern border of Iraq? He felt as though he should care, but he didn't.

Private Peyman left to attend to cleanup duties, and Shaheen began to thumb through the papers. Most of them were supply requisition and troop deployment reports. His eyes went wide as he read the last confidential document. He threw the papers to the ground and sprinted for the command and control tent.

Shaheen rushed through the flaps of the tent and quickly scanned the room. In one corner of the room were some electronics which his men had shot up. He checked the controls beneath a shattered LCD and swore under his breath. The Iraqi commander had gotten a final electronic order off.

Shaheen ran out of the tent and screamed to his men to retreat back to their trenches. He knew he was already too late. His confused men were slow to follow his orders. It seemed to him that everything moved in slow motion. He cursed the spotty intel that had not alerted him to the fact that the Iraqis had bought cruise missiles from the Chinese. The Amesha Spentas weren't halfway across the killing field when the missiles, the last act of defiance by the Iraqi commander, went off only twenty feet above their heads.


Shaheen Mohammad Padeshah VII sent a silent prayer to Allah and opened his eyes. He looked down at his well-muscled body. He was naked and stretched out on a stainless steel gurney. His body was patched with a multitude of sensors taped to his chest, arms and head and covered with gauze patches. Multicolored wires snaked off to various monitoring equipment which ticked off the most intimate secrets of his body's metabolism. A pair of antiseptic, chrome-covered lights illuminated every pore on his exposed flesh. He looked as though he had become part of some twisted Gigeresque machine.

His vision was unfocused. He felt a buzzing in his mind. He focused his eyes. He was sure the buzzing was words. He focused his mind. The buzzing dissipated and turned into a dozen different distant voices. They were echoes of something he recognized as new. His mind had been gifted with an exceptional capability. His vision cleared.

A balding man with wispy gray hair that ringed his bare pate stood opposite Shaheen at a table filled with medical equipment. From behind the balding man appeared to be in his early fifties. He wore a long, white, perfectly pressed and cleaned lab coat. An impressed memory came to Shaheen. This was Dr. Palavi.

The Doctor spun as if he heard Shaheen's thought. He was a kindly looking man with a doughboy puffy face and a dark complexion. His eyes were very dark, wide and round for one of Persian descent. His nose was aquiline, but not overly large. He was on the short, portly side, but Shaheen knew he more than made up with intelligence for what he lacked in physical strength.

The Doctor's radiated a broad smile as he walked over to Shaheen. He was the picture of fatherly goodness. Shaheen thought he should have felt love for this man, but he didn't. The Doctor was silent as he checked the monitors. Shaheen reflected on his lack of emotion. He was certain this was new too.

"My father is dead."

The Doctor turned to his charge. His smile flattened, "He was killed by an Iraqi cruise missile last month. Our intelligence operatives found out too late that Hussein had standing orders to use the missiles to eliminate the Amesha Spentas."

The Doctor continued to review the young Captain's vitals. Shaheen felt as though he should feel remorse for his father, but it was missing. He owned his father's memories. They were there, right up until the last day before he left for battle. Shaheen was not just the son, but also the father, and the grandfather and so on for seven generations. He was the culmination of all their experiences. He was the evolution of their aspirations, skills, and abilities. He was the perfection of Islam.

"It's too bad really. Two weeks after your father's death, we finished quality assurance for the final version of the development process. Even as we speak, factories are being built to begin production.
In three months time, the Amesha Spentas will sweep across Iraq like a righteous firestorm. Your father is partly responsible for that. It was his unit that punched a hole through the Iraqi defense and allowed the regular army to take Basra. Hussein is on the defensive and is now trying to resolve the conflict via the UN and diplomacy. Ayatollah Kharrazi has promised the jihad will end when the serpent Hussein's head is separated from his body. You should be proud. Your family is largely responsible for Iran's success. Your family has been selected as prime. All of Islam... all of Shi'a Islam is on the cusp of a new revolution."

Shaheen rolled the Doctor's words over in his head as the physician continued his probing. Pride? He knew he should have felt it, but he didn't. He should have felt excitement for the victory and promise of Islam, but he didn't. He wondered if his lack of emotion had more to do with the knowledge of seven generations than it did with any exorcism of emotion by the scientists. Men would always war. Men would always kill.

The Doctor began to strip the probes off Shaheen's body, "You're fit to begin training."

"Refreshing", was Shaheen's terse reply.

The Doctor raised one bushy gray eyebrow, "Excuse me?"

"I'm already trained. I need to run the exercises once to reestablish the mind/body link and then I'll be ready."

The Doctor studied the soldier. Confidence was a good thing, but over confidence could kill. Still, the Doctor held the premonition that his ward was not just bragging, but was only stating fact. If so, this was a new phenomenon. His predecessors all required at least three months of training. If the young captain's words were true, this would be another important breakthrough.

"Get dressed and report to the training compound. We'll see if your confidence is warranted."

Shaheen sat up. His face was expressionless as he followed his orders. To an outside observer his blank expression might have indicated a lack of thought, but the Amesha Spentas' mind was processing faster than anyone's on the planet.


Igor Gidzenko didn't like this new Shaheen. He was cold, more automaton than human. The burly Russian wondered if maybe the Doctor had gone too far with his experiments. He circled the Iranian bent low, hunched over like a predator ready to attack. Shaheen followed suit and they circled each other like two lions arguing over a fresh kill.

In the past, Igor could always count on his opponent initiating the attack and thus exposing himself. This one was as cool as Siberian blue ice. He waited as Igor waited and so they continued to circle. Shaheen flashed in. Igor moved to counter move, but realized too late that the young man was feinting. This threw Igor slightly off balance and the Iranian came in for the kill.

Igor tried to sit back, but too late. Shaheen got his arm wrapped around the bull Russian's neck and pried upward into the guillotine position. This was a killing technique. Igor was slow to tap out and was soon unconscious. Shaheen loosened his grip and let the old man live. He thought it was the right thing to do.

The commando turned to Dr. Palavi who was watching from the shadows of one of the many steel doors that lined the training compound. The Doctor stared at him in silence. He said nothing, turned, and exited the compound. Shaheen soon followed suit.

The old Russian awoke a few minutes later with a splitting headache. He was alone in the training arena. He would leave the compound and return to Russia a few days later. He did not like the way the Doctor's experiments were going.


In 1258 Halaku Kahn, son of Chengiz Kahn, stormed the gates of Baghdad and slaughtered its inhabitants. 1.6 million lives were sent to Allah that day. Blood ran in acrid red rivers through the streets and the heads of the faithful were stacked up to the top of the gates to the city.

The Amesha Spentas were no more merciful when they broke through the last of the Iraqi defenses. They were the product of the Doctor's last iteration of experiments. Like Shaheen, none of the commandos held an element of emotion. They were the perfect killing machines. No man, woman or child was spared from their apocalyptic purpose. Blood ran in acrid, red rivers.

Shaheen sat in a monstrous dark mahogany chair. It was carved with detailed ornaments depicting tales of the Arabian nights. The dark head of a Roc jutted out from the center of the tall chair back. Lion's limbs ending in taloned paws served as the arms of the chair. Shaheen sat under the shadow of the Roc and stared at the body before him.

Oday Hussein, once President for Life of Iraq, lay in two parts before Shaheen. Two feet separated his head from his body. The expression of terror and shock was so intense, it was almost comical. It was if Oday had decided to end his life as a bad actor.

What drew Shaheen's undivided attention was the pet monkey that paced back and forth along the corpse of Oday Hussein. The president had kept his pet with him right up until the end. The sterling silver leash was still clutched in the dead president's hand. A collar of sparkling blue sapphires kept the monkey to the leash.

Shaheen stared at the small primate in wonder. It obviously was distressed by its master's passing. What fascinated the commando was the juxtaposition of the primate and the man. Here before him was a microcosmic example of evolution. The monkey was a reflection of what man had been. It paced back and fourth on all fours occasionally making small worried chirping noises.

Eventually, the small primate sat at his master's feet and looked up at Shaheen. Its furry white face was almost childlike in appearance. It blinked and began to lick its slender fingers clean. Monkey, man, Shaheen. Shaheen was the perfection of Islam. Shaheen was evolution.

The commando rose, the scimitar he used to cut off Oday's head still in his hand. He slowly approached the monkey so as not to startle it. The sword dripped the blood of the primate's master. Shaheen bent and grabbed the leash to the the monkey from the dead man's hands. He picked up the small primate which was astonishingly calm. The young captain unhooked and dropped the leash to the floor. The sound of metal on stone snapped the monkey out of its reverie. It jumped out of Shaheen's arms and ran off behind some curtains.

Shaheen let the creature go. He thought it was the right thing to do. He looked down on the body of the human. He could not afford to be so generous with mankind.


Shaheen Mohammed Padeshah VII and the Amesha Spentas returned to Tehran the triumphant heroes. The serpent Hussein and his inbred family of miscreants had been finished forever. Iraq would be merged into Iran, despite the protests of the infidels at the UN.

The Amesha Spentas were scheduled to march before the new Mosque built by Ayatollah Kharrazi. A grand balcony overlooked the main thoroughfare. Brightly covered banners with the insignia of Islam were festooned all over the mosque and the parade route. White rose petals would be spread on a red carpet for the booted feet of the Iranian heroes. The entire population of Tehran would come out to greet these great warriors.

Two Amesha Spentas escorted Doctor Palavi onto the balcony. He joined Shaheen by his side. The Doctor looked out over the parade grounds and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.

One hundred thousand soldiers, all the mirror copy of Shaheen Mohammed Padeshah VII stood at silent attention before them. It was not the sight of so many cloned warriors that unnerved the Doctor, for this was his work. It was the eerie silence that permeated all of Tehran. On further inspection he could see columns of smoke wafting up from various points in the city. He thought he could see bodies on the side streets off in the distance.

An unnerved Doctor Palavi turned to Shaheen, "What has happened?"

The young progenitor turned to stare at him. The Doctor was unnerved for he felt not only Shaheen's eyes on him, but the eyes of all the Amesha Spentas.

Shaheen Prime replied without emotion, "You are ever perceptive Doctor... We are the perfection of Islam. We are the next step in evolution. Your last iteration of experimentation produced a Homo speculum that is interconnected. Our minds share the same thoughts. Last night we made the decision to replace our forebears. You have an apocalyptic proclivity for destruction. Murder, war, and genocide are ingrained into your genetic makeup to the point where you would incinerate the world. You even trained us to become killers like yourselves... and so we shall. However, there will be one major difference. Homo speculum will not kill Homo speculum. Once we exterminate Homo sapien we hope never to kill again. There will be no apocalypse. Evolution has seen to that."

The Doctor could not move. It was as if his blood had turned to lead. His thoughts once the definition of logic and organization, became an incoherent, terrified mess. He managed to rasp out, "What have you done?"

Shaheen turned to the city skyline and impassively observed the smoke, "Only the perfection of Islam inhabits the city... except for you."

The Doctor did not feel lucky. He felt dead, empty, horrified at what his pursuit for the liberation of Islam had turned into. "They're all... dead?"

Shaheen looked down at his men... at his reflection, "We left you alive because we will need to perfect other Homo speculum. Our primary function is war. This requirement will cease to be necessary after Homo sapien has been eliminated. Although we can adapt, we feel that a more diverse gene pool and skill set is required. You will develop our brothers and sisters for us. We will submit the specifications."

The Doctor realized in horror that Shaheen, that the Amesha Spentas were asking him to participated in the extinction of his own species, "What makes you think I will help you?"

Another Amesha Spentas joined the group on the balcony. He handed something to Shaheen Prime as the young clone replied with his unnerving emotionless voice, "Because you are a scientist, a master of logic, and a believer in truth. Look at us Doctor Palavi. Look at all of us. We are the next step in evolution."

The Doctor looked out over the sea of Shaheen Mohammed Padeshahs. A shiver of fear rolled down his spine like a biological temblor. He knew a few miles away multiple factories were rolling more Shaheens off the assembly line at the rate of hundreds an hour. The development process had been perfected.

The Doctor turned back to Shaheen who stared out at the burning city skyline. He held a small monkey in his arms and stroked its adoring head. It wore a collar of blue sapphires attached to a sterling silver leash. The little simian curled up tight into the cradled arms of the perfection of Islam.