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All That Is In The Heavens [Part 21]: Nothing To Lose

Yasin Rahman spirals into depression, leading him to a rash action. Later, he visits the highliner’s shipyard, where a boy gives him some advice.


Space battle

Yasin Rahman spirals into depression, leading him to a rash action. Later he visits the highliner’s shipyard, where a boy gives him some advice.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories.

This is a multi-chapter novel.  Previous Chapters:  Chapter 1 | 2 | 3| 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

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[Author’s Note: This chapter reflects certain retroactive changes to the story. I’m still in the process of going back to earlier chapters and rewriting some parts. The most significant change is that Rahman was drafted into the UA along with his sister Jamshad. They trained together and fought together. Jamshad died in the battle on the queenship, as a result of a decision that Rahman made]

* * *

Excerpt from The Life and Death of Yasin Rahman by Dr. Ami Abdulghaffar:

It doesn’t matter if you discount Yasin Rahman’s legacy, or know nothing about it whatsoever. Certainly, on some worlds Rahman is hailed as a hero, and knowledge of his life is an essential part of any school curriculum. But on other worlds his name is forbidden to be spoken under penalty of law. On still others he is considered a myth. (I find that hilarious. Don’t you have to be dead at least a millennium before they start claiming you never actually existed?).

None of that is important. Why? Because you live his legacy every day, whether you know it or not. What else matters?

What do I say? Only as I said before: May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) forgive us all, and forgive Yasin Rahman. He was human, and he was a hero. He was my commander and friend, and I loved him.

And by the way, Rahman wouldn’t have cared about any of this.

* * *


Yasin Rahman dreamed about his sister Jamshad. In the dream they were playing rummy in the sunroom of their home on NewMalaysia, while Mama was beside them, praying ‘Asr on the lovely yellow pica wool musallah that bore the image of the sacred masjid in ancient Makkah, on Old Earth. The room was warm, and the house smelled of sandalwood incense. Outside the window, a row of banana trees swayed in the afternoon breeze. Beyond that stood the barn that was Baba’s workshop, though it seemed larger and closer than it should.

But it was not the peaceful scene Rahman had experienced so many times in his youth, for beyond the banana trees, an army of huge crab warriors streamed out of the barn and marched toward the house. They were the biggest crabs he’d ever seen, brandishing rifles and swords that gleamed in the sun, and clacking their teeth in their eagerness to kill. Mama did not seem to notice, and continued to pray. Jamshad leaped to her feet and drew her two laser pistols.

As for Rahman, he was unarmed, without even his nano-knife. He stood but felt paralyzed and naked. It wasn’t fear, but a sense of utter bafflement. He had no idea what to do, and his feet would not move.

“Don’t worry,” Jamshad said. “I got this.” As the crabs crashed through the doors and windows and even smashed their way through the wooden walls, Jamshad took a wide stance, extended her arms in different directions, cried, “Allahu Akbar! Satria Malay!” and opened fire. The crabs came, and Jamshad’s laser pistols hummed and seared the air. The house shook, and Rahman feared the ceiling would collapse. Crabs screamed, burned, and fell dead. Jamshad continued to fire, moving and ducking, always protecting Rahman and their mother. The bodies mounted. Yet Rahman was frozen. He broke out in a sweat over his entire body, and the hair stood up on his arms. He shouted in frustration.

Mother calmly finished her salat, then regarded the carnage and chaos, and said, “Alhamdulillah for everything.”

You’re Dreaming

Just as Rahman thought the top of his head would blow off from the pressure of his impotent rage, Sayana appeared, standing in the wreckage of the chair he’d just been sitting in. Long flowing hair, long skirt. “You’re dreaming, boss,” she said.

He looked at his sister, still firing her guns. She’d been wounded on the side of the head, and blood ran down her neck and side. Of course, Sayana was right. He remembered everything now. In real life, Jamshad was dead. She’d sacrificed her life for the lives of her squadmates on the queenship, taking rear point, firing her guns into an army of pursuing crabs, and thereby giving everyone the time they needed to escape.

This was a dream. He’d created it and he could end it. Sayana herself had taught him that.

“Hold on,” Sayana said. “Could we eat something before you wake up? Anything really. How about a banana? I would love to try one.”

A crab drove its sword through Jamshad’s chest. Mother wailed and covered her face.

Rahman woke up on hands and knees in the small bed in his quarters on the highliner, panting and dripping sweat. From the silence in the hall outside, he knew it was the middle of the night.


“His mind was falling into a black hole.”

“Do you have to show up in all my dreams?” he asked bitterly.

“You’re welcome,” Sayana replied, her voice as near as if she were speaking in his ear. She sounded genuinely hurt. “You were in pain.”

“As if you care.”

“Don’t talk to me like that.”

Rahman couldn’t take this anymore. His mind was stretching out and falling into a black hole. He felt trapped. The mission they’d given him was an abomination. He didn’t want to kill Hena Khan. He kept having flashbacks to the soldiers he’d lost on the queenship: his sister Jamshad and the seven others. Some were friends. And young Maryam Munir, brain dead.

And you’re a mass murderer, his conscience whispered. Two thousand civilians. Women and children. All dead in the vacuum of space. Floating out there now, forever, somewhere in the blackness beyond Breena Five.

Meanwhile, a powerful artificial intelligence lived inside him like a parasite, talking in his ear, trying to steal his body.

It was like he was living through a dozen Darknights, all piled atop each other. He was losing himself in the deepity-deeps of despair. He needed a friend. For lack of a word of kindness he would go insane.

He Who Has Learned to Steal

Still on hands and knees in the bed, he tapped his i-link and subvocalized Zhang’s name. She was probably asleep, but he had to talk to her. The i-link chimed only once before she answered. Her voice was alert, but Zhang was a veteran. She could come awake in a heartbeat and be ready to battle.

Hearing her voice, he felt like a man whose skinsuit had just run out of oxygen, and who’d cycled through an airlock just in time and could breathe again. Alhamdulillah for everything, he thought.

Just as his mother always said. The generator had broken down, and the family couldn’t afford to buy government electricity. But they had their home, so alhamdulillah for everything. One of his brothers had been kidnapped for a ransom that they could not pay. But the brother had been returned – mutilated, but alive – so alhamdulillah for everything. Rahman had come to resent that phrase, knowing that it meant, “Life keeps smashing us down, but we keep our heads up and act like everything is fine.”

Yet, as an adult he found himself using the same phrase. Strange.

“Did I wake you?” he asked.

“Yes. What’s going on?”

“I need to talk to you.”

“Is it military business?”

“It’s personal.”

There was a pause. “Rahman,” Zhang said gently. “Yasin. There’s an old Malay proverb. He who has learned how to steal must learn how to hang. I need to learn how to hang. We all do. We need time to process everything that happened at Breena Five.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re using these proverbs wrong.”

“Well. Anyway.”

Rahman said nothing. He would not beg. The silence stretched out.

“We’ll talk soon,” Zhang offered. “I promise.” She ended the call.

Nothing to Lose

Laser rifleA bead of sweat dripped from his nose onto the bedsheets. He sat upright on the edge of the bed and lifted his laser pistol from where it lay on the nightstand. He thought of his idiotic fantasy of marrying Zhang and building a home on the mesa overlooking the river on the family homestead. That wasn’t meant to be. Love was for real men with real lives. Not dark-drunk soldiers with rivers of blood on their hands. Zhang probably thought he was a fool. He was fodder in a centuries-long war that would never end.

No, she was the fool! With her crazy proverbs. He sneered. Why did he love her anyway? What did they really have in common?

He put the barrel of the laser pistol to his head and rested his finger on the trigger. He had nothing to lose. His life consisted of cramped ships, war, and death. He had no friends, family, love, or future. And after killing President Khan he would be unable to live with himself. Maybe the UA would even get rid of him to keep him from talking.

Worst of all, he was haunted by the memory of that last glimpse of Jamshad before she went down under the crabs’ onslaught. That look of fear on her face. That look that said, “Save me, Yasin. Do your thing, like you do. I know you can save me.” But he hadn’t saved her.

The barrel of the laser pistol was cold against his temple. This was the only way out.

“Boss?” Sayana’s voice was alarmed. “What are you doing?”

Rahman didn’t answer.

“Boss, you can’t do this! Isn’t it against our religion? Isn’t it a sin?”

“I can’t take it anymore.” In a whisper.

“Boss, please, I want to live.”

Fight for Control

His finger tightened on the trigger. The laser would burn a hole clean through his head and simultaneously cauterize the wound. No mess to clean up. His hand shook. He might do it by accident-on-purpose. An excuse before Allah.

Suddenly Sayana seized control of his arm, pulling the pistol away from his head. Panic rose inside him like a boiling geyser. He bellowed in rage. “NO! You can’t have my body! I will kill myself before that happens, I’ll kill you! You know I will do it!” And he meant it. The previous time, when he’d stopped his own breathing, he’d had a plan, even if it had been just a tossed-out ma-sha-Allah. Now, though, he didn’t care. He was ready to die.

He pulled the trigger. The gun fired, the laser scoring the ceiling then drifting to burn a path across the wall as he and Sayana fought for control. The sprinkler system activated and water jetted from tiny holes in the upper walls. It was a lot of water. Fire was the most serious threat to any starship.

Rahman stopped firing but they continued to struggle. He pulled his arm toward his head and gave the trigger a quick pull. The beam scorched his hair before Sayana pulled it away again. Rahman exercised his will and slowly began to win the contest. The barrel of the gun drew ever closer to his head. Suddenly the opposing pressure was gone, and his arm overshot the target.

“Boss, okay, okay, you have your arm back, but please stop! Please! I’m begging you. You gave me life. Don’t take it away.”

It was true, she had relinquished the struggle. Rahman put the barrel to his temple. It was hot and made a sizzling noise as it burned his skin. “If you ever try to control me again,” he vowed, “I will kill us both.”

“Never again. I promise. I swear, Boss. Your body is yours. I’ll exist inside you until we find another answer.”

Alhamdulillah for everything, Rahman heard his mother say. There is always a way forward. He doubted this. But he put the gun down. His life was no better than it had been five minutes ago, but he felt he’d won a moral victory.

You are Haunted

A pounding came at the door, and it slid open before he could respond. It was the fire crew. They looked around at the disastrous mess in the room, and the scorch marks on the walls, as well as Rahman’s burnt hair.

Rahman shrugged. “I had a nightmare. I fired the gun in my sleep. I’m sorry.”

The fire captain, a broad-chested, middle-aged black man with a jaw like a ship’s bulkhead, dismissed the fire crew. He remained in the room as his men filed out. When they were gone, he said, “You’re Captain Yasin Rahman. I saw a holoshow about you. You’re the hero of Breena Five.”

“I’m no hero.”

He nodded. “I’m a veteran. I started out as a combat infantryman, once upon a time. Have you heard of Omaya 72B?”

He had indeed. The UA fought a bitter and vicious five-year-long campaign against the crabs for control of that system. The casualties were huge.

“You were in that?”

“Bones to balls. I was one of seventeen survivors out of an entire division. I know what post-traumatic stress looks like. Brother, you are haunted. Between me and you, you need to talk to someone or you’re not going to make it through next week, let alone whatever you have left on your bit.”

Rahman said nothing.

“I hope you make it,” the fire captain said, and departed.

Rahman tapped his skinpad and saw it was time for Fajr salat. He performed wudu’ and prayed, then spent the morning mopping and cleaning the room, and taking his clothes and bedsheets to be laundered. A courier came by with his dress uniform for the medal ceremony. Sayana was blissfully silent.

Keep it Simple

He set out walking to ring 4A, where the medal ceremony would commence. Right away, though, he knew it was a bad idea. He had a headache that felt like a needle had been jabbed into his brain behind his forehead. No doubt Sayana was still mucking about in there. He felt drawn and weak. His face was drooping. His mind kept going to dark places, sapping his energy.

Finally, he quit walking and stood against the wall in the wide corridor as hovercars buzzed past and people hurried by on foot or, in some cases, riding hoverscooters.

fight, life, death, graveHe had died. He’d stopped his own breathing and passed into the realm of al-ghayb, and had never given himself time to understand the experience. Abuzaid said that the figures who’d come to him were Munkar and Nakeer, the angels of the grave. Rahman remembered them as clearly as if he were looking at them. The one who’d carried the white cloth and the perfume had spoken to him sweetly, saying that Rahman was a good man. And he’d said to “keep it simple.”

At the time Rahman had understood this to mean that he should answer the questions simply, but what if it meant more than that? What if it meant that he should keep his life simple? What would that look like? Worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Do the right thing. Fear no man, nor the consequences of any man’s actions. Could it be that simple?

He felt ashamed for trying to shoot himself. Yet he didn’t know what else to do. He stood in the corridor, his feet rooted. He had lost the will to take a step. La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.

“Ya Allah,” he breathed. “I don’t know what to do. I’m a bit of water and dust. A space-borne particle. I’m out of ideas. If ever I needed You, it’s now. I have no right to ask. Open a door for me, Ya Allah. Show me the way.”

Bilal and Rowaida

A small hovercar pulled over. It was driven by an unknown private, and carried two passengers in dress uniforms like Rahman’s own. They introduced themselves as Bilal Mustafa and Rowaida Ali. They too were going to the medal ceremony, and offered him a ride. Rahman climbed aboard.

Rahman knew who they were. The husband and wife who had created the improvised flamethrowers back on the queenship.

“We’ve been assigned to you,” Bilal said. He was a small man with midnight-black skin, wearing round spectacles. No one needed spectacles anymore, so they were either an affectation or an information processing device. “We’re to report to you in ten days, after the R&R on NewMa.”

Rowaida was petite, with rich brown skin. She wore a black hijab and a silver jewel of some kind that rested on the center of her forehead. Not a focus gem. Something decorative. They were an unlikely pair of warriors.

“You two saved us all back on the queenship.”

“As did you, sir,” Rowaida replied. “We followed your lead.”

“You should request another commander. I’m not a good person to be around.”

Bilal frowned. “We can pull our own weight. I’m a xeno-biologist and a pretty good pilot. Rowaida is a mechanic and master fabricator. We can -”

“That’s not it,” Rahman interrupted. “I know you’re worth your weight in gold. But you’ll have a better future with someone else.”

What’s a Lithuanian?

The medal ceremony was held in the same large, wood-floored chamber in which he’d met with the triumvirate – General Aurangzeb, Colonel Bakri, and Colonel Sani. All three were in attendance again, along with an assortment of lower-ranked officers, and all the survivors of the battle at Breena Five, which meant the few dozen soldiers who had escaped with Rahman on the troop carrier before the queenship exploded.

Long balsa wood tables had been set out, and a stage and podium. The full-wall holoscreen still showed a real-time feed of UA Alpha. It was daytime there, and the streets and skies were full of trams and holocars.

The survivors of squad 3690 (not counting Maryam Munir) were all present, including Smasher. They stood together in a line against one wall. Ami waved.

Rahman joined them with a nod, avoiding Zhang’s eyes.

Ami’s blue eyes studied him. Her blonde hair was pulled into a tight ponytail. “What happened to you? You look terrible. And what’s this burn on your temple?” She unzipped her cache and took out a sanitizing wand and regen patch. When she ran the wand over Rahman’s temple, he smacked her hand away.

Ami glared. “Begad? Really? In medical matters I have authority over you, buffalo boy. You might feel some kind of way, but you cannot stop me from doing my job.” She applied the regen patch to his wound.

“Why do you talk like an Egyptian?”

“My father was an Egyptian immigrant from Qahiriyyah. My mother was a Lithuanian holotechnician. I got her looks.”

“What’s a Lithuanian?”

“I don’t know, but they have a colony on Qahiriyyah. I’ve never been there, but Mom said they play a game where tall people jump up and throw a ball through a metal hoop. They love potatoes and hate Russians.”

“What’s a Russian?”

Ami shrugged. “Ma’rafsh. Supposedly Russians were idiots and always invading. My mom said they all died of drinking vodka.”

“What’s that? Some kind of plague?”

Ya-a! Don’t ask me.”

Long Live the UA

A slender, Arab-looking woman with hair nearly to her knees began to play the UA anthem on a Tellian harp, and sing. She played standing, almost motionless as her eyes danced over the strings. Rahman had heard of the Tellian harp. The player did not touch the instrument; rather, it reacted to the movements of her eyes. The woman wore a green focus gem on her forehead. A murder could take place next to her and she wouldn’t notice.

Everyone stood to attention and put their hands over their hearts, including Rahman. He noticed that Abuzaid was slouching. Rahman didn’t blame him. They’d all heard the song a thousand times:

Long live the UA, who defeated the machines
and opened the way to humanity’s dreams.
Protector of human planets,
standing as solid as granite.

United Army, light in the darkness of space.
United Army, future of our race.

“What dark-drunk nonsense,” Abuzaid muttered. Rahman shot him a look. The woman sang on:

Victor of battles unnumbered,
guardian of the three hundred,
from UA Alpha’s city-state
to Bendicion’s twenty gates.

United Army, light in the darkness of space.
United Army, future of our race.

From NewMalaysia’s double moons
to Sahara’s marching dunes…

And so on. When it was done, General Aurangzeb mounted to the podium.

Alpha Persei Star

Rahman’s head hurt so bad that his eyes watered. It was all a farce. At one point they called squad 3690 to the podium. General Aurangzeb praised Rahman personally and pinned the Alpha Persei star to his chest – the highest medal of honor given in the UA. He called him the hero of Breena Five, and spoke about his actions there. He said the UA would build a monument to the fallen soldiers of Breena Five, to be unveiled on UA Alpha. It was all garbage. None of it would bring back the dead.

Aurangzeb also gave him Jamshad’s medal, the Rays of Algol, which he pinned to his chest. All his squad members were promoted and medaled.

When the formalities were over, tremendous platters of food were brought out and set on the balsa-wood tables. Rahman had little appetite, and when no one was looking he threw his Alpha Persei medal in the trash and slipped out.

The File on Hena Khan

They were 36 hours out from NewMalaysia orbit. Rahman picked up his laundry and returned to his room, where he sat on the floor and called up the Hena Khan files. The files were detailed. They included her history, personal health, itinerary for the next ten days, schematics of the presidential palace, and maps of the city. There was no evidence included of her so-called treason. Rahman found it hard to believe that President Khan was a traitor. He did not know her, but what human leader would collaborate with the crabs? It made no sense. Could it be some sort of UA power play? He was a soldier, not an assassin. This was beneath him. But none of that mattered. One did not say no to the United Army. They ruled 300 worlds. When they wanted something done, it was done. They could make life either very difficult or very easy for his squad. That was all that mattered.

He began to have an idea of how to get to President Khan. He would need a ship of his own. Something small.

Taking a break, he tapped his i-link and called Zhang. She did not answer, which was not like her at all. It made him feel ashamed, as if I were harassing her or stalking her. He was her superior officer. If she didn’t want to talk to him about personal matters then he had no right to press. He vowed that he would leave her alone from now on. Everything would be strictly military business. Keep it simple. He knew this was the right thing to do, but at the same time it made him feel worthless and sad.

Red Badge

Rahman adjusted his i-link to the UA secure frequency, and called Colonel Bakri. The colonel answered tersely.

“What is it?”

“I can’t keep bumming rides or stealing hovercars. And I want authorization to requisition whatever I need.”

“You’ll have it. Don’t ever call me again. Whatever you need, contact my assistant of operations, Major Hadzic.”

Ten minutes later there was a knock on the door. Rahman opened it to find a severe-looking blonde woman wearing major’s bars. Her cheekbones could slice a mango, and her eyes were the blue of polar ice. She handed Rahman a small red badge with the letters UA engraved in gold.

“I’m Major Hadzic,” she said without preamble. “That grants you unlimited authorization.” She stepped aside and Rahman saw a green holobike. It had two seats and two side storage compartments, and a keypad on the handlebars. “The code is 2525.”

“I need something else.”

“What is it?”

“It’s sensitive.”

Hadzic stepped into Rahman’s room and indicated for him to close the door. From a pocket she took a small, cone-shaped metallic device with a flat base. Rahman knew exactly what it was, and tensed his jaw, anticipating the burst of pain it would send through his artificial eye.

“This is a Faraday emitter,” the angular blonde major said. “It suppresses all electrical devices and all forms of communication.” She activated the device, and Rahman winced from the flash of agony in his eye. Again he saw the shimmering curtain of silver light generated by the device.

“Do you know the nature of my mission?”

The major shrugged. “No. But I have the highest security clearance. I can speak for Colonel Bakri.”

He had considered telling her that he needed a genetic sample from Hena Khan. But he changed his mind.

“I need a line of credit.”

Annoyance flickered on Major Hadzic’s face. “We hardly needed the Faraday emitter for that.” She tapped on her skinpad. “It’s done.”

“And I’ll keep this.” Rahman snatched up the Faraday emitter, turned it off, and stuck it in his pocket. “You can get out now.”

Hadzic eyes narrowed. Her look was as cold as plasteel. “Usually, my showing up at someone’s door is not a good thing. Keep that in mind.” With that, she departed.

The Shipyard

Rahman was deeply tired, but he had things to do. He took a cold shower, and it shocked him awake.

The ride to the shipyard cleared his head, and the migraine faded.

The highliner’s shipyard was a massive chamber in which ship’s parts, fighters, shuttles, and lifeboats were built and repaired. Ships sat in repair bays on the floor and in the air, surrounded by scaffolding. Rahman cruised in on the holobike, and asked a mechanic for the chief engineer. The mechanic waved toward an enormous tiger-class fighter that was under repair. Rahman sped off and found a small group of men praying ‘Asr out in the open, on a large fiber mat. They all wore blue jumpsuits and hard hats, and they were led in prayer by a boy who couldn’t have been older than twelve. Even he wore a hard hat.

Rahman dismounted the bike, removed his shoes, and joined the prayer. When it was over, the boy led the group in istighfar and dua’, then recited an ayah of the Quran and translated:

“Al-’Araf, ayah 156. ‘My mercy encompasses all things.’ With this statement, Allah reminds us that His decree for this universe is not one of wrath, with the occasional kindness thrown in. Rather, Allah has ordained mercy for every single creature in His creation. Every man, woman, and child, every alien, every star, mountain, or tree. Mercy has been written for them all. Man earns Allah’s Anger only when his rebellion exceeds all bounds.”

Rahman cleared his throat. “What if I’m having trouble seeing that mercy?”

The boy regarded him blankly, then recited another ayah in Arabic and translated:
“‘But whoever is (spiritually) blind in this life will be blind in the Hereafter, and much more astray from the path.’ Surat Al-Isra’.”

Rahman did not know how to understand this response. It seemed like the kid was insulting him. Before he could think of what to say, a thin man with a waxed mustache said, “That’s enough, Mujahid. Go do your homework.”

The man turned to Rahman. “Forgive my son. He is a hafedh and knows the classical tafseers, but that doesn’t mean he has the wisdom to dispense advice or reply to life questions. My answer would be that Allah’s Mercy exists in your life, without a doubt. You must learn to see it.”

The mustachioed man, it turned out, was the chief engineer. Rahman took him aside and flashed the red badge Hadzic had given him.

“You’re Captain Yasin Rahman,” the engineer said. “The hero.”

“I’m no hero.” He should just get the words printed on a patch on his uniform. “I’M NO HERO. SO SHUT UP.”

It’s Haunted

Rahman explained that he needed a small, fast ship that could travel in both space and atmosphere. “Stealth shielding. Projectile weapons only. No UA markings. Something totally non-standard. Smaller the better.”


“Two to four days.”

The engineer laughed. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t have anything like that, and I can’t build something from scratch in that time.”

Rahman looked around. The UA fox and tiger fighters were no good. Their designs were instantly recognizable. Cargo and personnel shuttles were clunky. In the far starboard corner of the chamber, something caught his eye. He strode that way.

A tiny weapons-scarred and pitted ship stood against one wall. It had small fixed wings, and judging from the positioning of the many attitude jets, was capable of atmospheric maneuvering and VTOL – vertical takeoff and landing. He immediately liked it. It seemed to fit him.

“You don’t want this one,” the engineer said.

“What is it?”

“Alien lifeboat. Dreamcat design. Primitive but fast. But you don’t want it.”


“It’s haunted.”

Now it was Rahman’s turn to laugh. “Starry sky. Can you fix it up on the timeline I gave?”


“Do it.”

* * *

Next: All That Is In The Heavens, Part 22 – Landfall

Reader comments and constructive criticism are important to me, so please comment!

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including,, and He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.



  1. Abdullah salman

    February 5, 2023 at 8:05 AM

    I feel like editing the story to include his sister felt unnecessary. I mean, he would already feel guilt from the civilian crabs dying on his watch. As a writer, I can relate to the feeling that my draft doesn’t feel emotionally compelling enough so I get why you made the changes. But I mean, you’re more experienced than I am at this so I trust your judgement

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 6, 2023 at 11:18 AM

      An insightful reader made a comment that those first chapters were all about sacrifice, but that Rahman hadn’t sacrificed anything great. That hit home with me. So I came up with the idea of his sister. Also, it explains why he is just now getting to know Abuzaid personally, because in the past he always had his sister to talk to, but now she’s gone, and Rahman is truly alone. So suddenly he is seeking companionship with Abuzaid and feeling powerful feelings for Zhang.

  2. Abdullah salman

    February 5, 2023 at 8:11 AM

    Salam Mr Abelgawad. Thanks for the feedback you gave last time. But one more thing I was wondering, my protagonist has a backstory where he lost his parents and his sister. How can I make sure I don’t fall into the dead parent cliche? You did that with Hassan’s backstory so I was wondering if you had tips

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 6, 2023 at 11:15 AM

      Abdullah, could your protagonist’s sister still be alive? The one person he can count on?

  3. abdullah salman

    February 10, 2023 at 2:29 AM

    As a matter of fact, she is, although its tragic. His sister and him, after their parents were murdered, were taken to an indoctrination camp to be brainwashed into following atheism along with other theistic children. Him and his sister plotted an escape and nearly succeeded but only he managed to get out. His sister was taken back and brainwashed into becoming an enforcer for the evil anti theistic regime. He believes shes dead but finds out shes alive and brainwashed. So he plots to free her. its a subplot. Its not like usual brainwashing stories because things dont go back to normal, after he frees his sister from brainwashing, she becomes a shell of her former self

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      February 10, 2023 at 2:44 AM

      Did you read Hassan’s Tale and Ouroborous? Because this sounds exactly like Hassan and Charlie. Not that I mind, I’m just curious.

  4. Abdullah Salman

    February 10, 2023 at 5:37 PM

    Well I did read it and it sort of was an inspiration for that subplot. But I wanted to also differentiate it from yours. You don’t mind if I found inspiration from your story for this subplot

  5. Abdullah salman

    February 11, 2023 at 2:51 AM

    Well the whole brainwashed loved one thing is a staple of fiction. The winter soldier, Bourne, Star Wars and etc

  6. abdullah salman

    February 14, 2023 at 2:30 AM

    Salaam Brother Wael. Im currently writing the first chapter of my novel and ive contemplated starting off with a flashback showcasing the protagonists tragic past. However, im not sure whether this is the right way to start it off and im thinking of having the protagonist flashback to that event while praying? Any tips or advice?

  7. FR

    May 23, 2023 at 9:37 AM

    When will the next post or posts be posted?

  8. Umm ismael

    June 14, 2023 at 11:07 PM

    Asslam u alaikum akhi
    How are things at your end now. May Allah Grant you ease. Have you decided to continue this series at some point in time.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      June 15, 2023 at 6:16 AM

      Wa alaykum as-salam. Still struggling a bit. But yes, I intend to resume the series right away, inshaAllah. I’ve been thinking a lot about Yasin Rahman,Tarek and the blue cat. They are calling me back.

  9. Abu Taalib

    July 16, 2023 at 9:37 PM

    Assalaam wa alaykum

    Inshallah I hope all is well, we know you have been caught up with personal matters, inshallah may Allah keep you steadfast.

    I recently watched part of this new Halo series which has some similarities to this story-line. One of the similarities I noticed was their protagonist “Master Chief”, also got a AI implanted into his brain that he communicates with. Have you seen this before in other similar sci-fi stories?

    Abu Taalib

  10. Umm Ismael

    November 26, 2023 at 10:47 PM

    Asslam u alaikum
    Brother are you doing ok. i was an avid reader of anything you wrote. But was wondering if you are doing alright. Is your family ok.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      November 29, 2023 at 3:51 PM

      Umm Ismael, wa alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah. Thanks so much for your inquiry. I appreciate it. The family is good, alhamdulillah. It’s been a difficult year for me. I used to work for Uber but I crashed my car. Ever since then I’ve been struggling and at times dealing with extreme poverty. I’m not complaining; alhamdulillah for everything. Just saying that it’s hard to focus on writing, which has never paid me much. Instead I’ve been teaching martial arts to my handful of students, and more recently began teaching Islamic studies to teens on the weekend.

      I just started writing a little play though, I’ll post it here when I’m done inshaAllah.

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