In Yemen’s Name¹

Posted on August 23, 2004 by Jenna

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1 requires familiarity with some combination of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Battle of the Planets, Mr. Peabody’s Improbable History, and mythical accounts of the Hashshashin (“assassin”) cult.

Hassan kneels in prayer.

“In the name of Yemen,” he says. “I give you my prayer, O Merciful God. If you should wish me to stay my hand, then send me one magical dog. But if you wish me to destroy the Abbasid Caliphate, please send me two.”

He closes his eyes. He opens them. There is a yellow robotic dog sprawled in front of him. It twitches, once. There is a golden dagger buried in its virtual spine.

“One,” counts Hassan. He seems somewhat disappointed.

The wall opens. A white dog with spectacles wanders through it on two feet, followed by a gawking young boy.

“Hello, Hassan,” says the dog. “My name is Mr. Ibn Adi.”

“And I’m Sherman!” declares the boy.

“Shurmiyya,” corrects the dog. “We must fit in with our environment.”

“Shurmiyya,” agrees the boy. “Our Wayback machine artificially lowers gravity to allow us to travel backwards in time!”

Mr. Ibn Adi sighs.

“Two!” cries Hassan, in great pleasure. “Two magic dogs! Surely, a wrathful God wishes me to visit terrible vengeance upon the Abbasid Caliphate—in Yemen’s name!”

“I am only dyslexically God,” says the dog. His voice is rich and cultured. “But I wish to train you as my apprentice and then take you millennia forward in time to destroy a malicious robot who seeks to edit the record of human history.”

Hassan frowns. This is not entirely what he expected. “It is unwise,” he says, judiciously, “to refuse a magic dog.”

“Mr. Ibn Adi says it’s too dangerous for me,” Shurmiyya says grumpily. “He says that it’ll take a famous historical killer to properly dispose of 7-Zarayya-7.”

“This … malicious robot,” says Hassan. “He is impious?”

“Very much so,” agrees Mr. Ibn Adi. He takes out a holoprojector. He plays a clip.

“This is 7-Zarayya-7,” declares the robot. “From my secret base on Neptune, I supervise the operations of the prophets!”

“What you’re about to see,” Mr. Ibn Adi says, “is edited footage of human history—footage that will become the last official record of Earth unless 7-Zarayya-7 is stopped.”

“Noah!” says the robot. “Come in!”

Noah consults his communicator. “Why, it’s good old 7-Zarayya-7,” he says. “Thank goodness you’re here; I’d be unable to do my job as a prophet without you!”

“Noah!” says the robot. “It’s my belief that agents of an alien galaxy from beyond space are planning to flood the Earth. You’d better build an ark—and fast!”

“Chirp chirp cooo animals,” asserts Shem.

Mr. Ibn Adi turns off the holoprojector. “He also has a yellow robot dog.”

Hassan is frowning. “Noah was a man of virtue,” he says. “He needed no metal golem to guide him!”

“It was a terrible mistake!” says Shurmiyya. “I didn’t mean to program the robot to wait until humanity was dead and then censor our historical record from a secret base on Neptune! I just told him ‘De mortuis aut nihil aut bene’.”

“There, there,” says Mr. Ibn Adi. He pats Shurmiyya on the back. “Zarayya added the self-aggrandizing aspects himself.”

“I will train,” says Hassan. “I will destroy this blasphemer and his dog. Then I will return, and apply your lessons to the destruction of the Abbasid Caliphate. Yes. In the name of my homeland,” he clarifies. “Yemen.”

Shurmiyya studies the broken robot dog. “I think you should use golden daggers,” he says. “Take out the dog first, then throw it in the Wayback machine. That way, he’ll be alone!”

“Good plan, Shurmiyya,” agrees Mr. Ibn Adi. “Now, to begin the training.”

“How will it function?” asks Hassan.

“I will confuse your senses,” says the dog, “so that you believe yourself to be in Paradise. Then when I drag you into an adventure through time, you will remain confident, knowing that even death only returns you to that glorious place. Also, I will feed you hashish.”

“Mmm,” declares Shurmiyya. “Cannabis!”

Hassan hesitates. “I have only one question,” he says. “If your machine uses artificially lowered gravity to travel backwards in time, then how can we reach the future where this blasphemer resides?”

“Gee force,” says Shurmiyya.

“Using gravity to accelerate time is against the rules in most civilized countries,” says Mr. Ibn Adi. “But if it helps destroy the Abbasid Caliphate, it’s Yemeni cricket.”