Sunday, October 1, 2017

"Martina: Berlin to Baghdad. Refugee to Spook" by Ash Nehmet

Berlin to Baghdad. Refugee to Spook
by Ash Nehmet

Martina: Berlin to Baghdad. Refugee to Spook  by Ash Nehmet

Ash Nehmet, author of Martina: Berlin to Baghdad. Refugee to Spook, stops by today to share a guest post and an excerpt from his debut novel. Get your copy free through Amazon Prime and Kindle Lending Library.

Europe is an intolerant, deeply religious, dogmatic, hostile backwater which never recovered after WW2. In the 1970’s, the "modern EU equivalent" is the Middle East Arab Country(aka MEAC), which is liberal, secular, prosperous, peaceful, and run by a committee of women in Baghdad.
In contrast to Germany, MEAC and Israel are allies and friends.
Martina, a young female German ex-soldier (with sharpshooter and martial arts skills), leaves Germany for a new life in the Middle East. Along the way, she plans to avenge her rape by three other ex-soldiers. Early in her journey, she rescues three trafficked women (Helena, Hilda & Rosa) and a young slave boy (Yusuf) in Egypt.
After narrowly avoiding death by sea pirates, they land in MEAC just as terrorism grips the country. Germans terrorists kidnapped Israeli athletes at the Baghdad Olympic Games. Martina is first arrested but later recruited into the Intelligence services (MIS) to bring some much needed German insight.
In her first MIS mission, she disrupts a German cell finding a link to an African diamond mine funding terrorist operations. She goes undercover in Africa, exposing an out-of-control militia security and an appalling maiming policy, of which she narrowly escapes becoming a victim. She finds a link to a prominent Israeli businessman.
Martina recognises the Israeli as the "rabbi" who ordered her rape by fellow soldiers. Why was a prominent Israeli rabbi helping Germany in its war against Israel? Martina uncovers direct German-State involvement in spying and a stolen identity. This links the German government relationship with the Baghdad terrorists.
The Women (MEAC heads of state) are apoplectic because they brokered peace between Germany and Israel after the 1967 war and Germany is run primarily on MEAC aid money.
When Germany is further involved in a child abuse cover-up scandal, Martina is sent to investigate. The operation finds a widespread cover-up by the German state under pressure from the Vatican to look away. The resultant outrage sweeps away the implicated German government and pushes back against a rapidly retreating red-faced Vatican. Finally, the European continent can break away from the shackles of intolerance and religion to become forward-looking and progressive.

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Excerpt from Chapter 13
Moussa staggered home from the bar, gullet full of beer and pockets empty of his wages. His wife Mina was going to kill him. Early in their marriage, he had been entirely in charge, but slowly she had taken over. Like women do. Now when she saw the state he was in, she wasn’t going to shut up. How did he allow this to happen? He couldn’t think; it had just happened slowly.
Moussa went home and sat in his armchair.
“Where’s my dinner?” he shouted towards the kitchen, foolishly drawing attention to himself.
Mina looked over. Her nostrils widened as she sniffed to verify the whiff of beer which had drifted in. Then she walked up to him, her hand outstretched.
“That reminds me, wasn’t today payday?” she said, knowing that he wouldn’t have much left. “I need to do the shopping”.
“Well, as for the money,” he stammered, “I…eh..things…eh….got, things got out of hand….”
“Just hand it over. How much is left?” Mina shouted.
Moussa replied, “As I said; things got out of hand, and I only realised when all the money had gone.”
Mina couldn’t believe it. He knew they had bills to pay, shopping to get. She couldn’t make meals out of thin air. They had mouths to feed, including another one on the way.
“What, ALL OF IT?” She was in a rage now. “Then no food for you tonight. How do you expect us to manage on just my income?”
She looked at him intently, “who were you with? Adolf?”
“Yes. And his deputy,” Moussa confirmed her suspicion.
“When are you going to learn?”
Adolf was the Head of Security and Moussa took every opportunity to suck up to him. Mina didn’t share the same admiration of security guards.
“When are you going to understand? Adolf and his men are thugs. They are out-of-control brutes, they abuse, torture, and they kill. They should be sacked. I would sack the lot of them. No, I would have them taken outside and shot for how they treat ordinary workers. I’ve been trying for months to organise a strike to force them out.”
“Shhh, don’t say the S word out aloud,” cautioned Moussa. “The white folks won’t like it.”
“The white folks…” continued Mina, “I don’t need to be in fear of white folks, not since we got our independence.”
“But the whites own the diamond mine. They might sack you. They might sack me,” said Moussa.
“Well, they might as well sack you for all the use you are. We won’t lose any money because you drink it away!”
Moussa’s tummy rumbled loudly. “Did I mention I wanted my dinner?” he said.
Mina’s anger had abated. “OK. As long as you promise to empty the spare room? We now definitely need to get it rented out.”
“OK”, lied Moussa.
After eating, Moussa slumped in his armchair snoring while pregnant Mina emptied the spare room.
Martina had studied the assignment sheet intensely before leaving it to catch a plane to Africa. She wasn’t allowed to take it with her, only rough notes. She was going undercover to find out why the terrorists she helped apprehend earlier where using diamonds from this mine. On more than one occasion diamonds from this particular mine were involved in the funding of terrorism activities. As the diamond trade was highly regulated with every batch of diamonds now requiring a history of its complete ownership chain, this should never happen. Either the mine was operating illegally, or one of the principal buyers was, but the latter was unlikely because the value of the gems would be greatly diminished.
These diamonds were of double importance to MEAC’s The Women Committee because they had pushed the legislation through the United Nations. They were very much concerned about war and conflict in Africa which was being fed by locally mined gemstones. The theory was that by blacklisting mines local to war zones or ones which were known to fund them, they would starve the warring factions of resources making them open to compromise and seek resolution. That’s why a diamonds complete history was important.
The US had been deeply against the proposal and threatened a veto, but the MEAC was the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, that no country could oppose it for long. This power was some feat for a region with practically no military, but they didn’t need an army with all that soft power. The MEAC run entirely by The Women Committee could move fast and decisively; countries seeking to block them would find tariffs raised which had their own corporations lobbying and bleating.
Martina was posing as a job seeker looking for work at the diamond factory. She had been highly recommended as a security guard to a local recruiter who was going to place her in a suitable role after an interview. 
As an unemployed security guard, she couldn’t stay in a hotel. She had been placed with a family who had a spare room. On her way to the accommodation, looking out of the bus window she noticed a large number of maimed people with missing limbs. Did the mine have a really poor safety record?
Her landlady Mina was lovely and full of useful information. She worked at the mine, as did most people in the town, and those that didn’t, depended on those that did. She had six children and was pregnant with the seventh. She worked part-time in the canteen also known as ‘gossip central’ which is why she knew everything almost anyone needed. With so many children, money from the rented room was handy, so she was hoping Martina would get a job and stay for a very long time.
Her husband, Moussa, didn’t say much. In fact, he didn’t do much either based on what Martina had observed in her two hours there. He sat around drinking, occasionally scolding a child, but that was about it. Well apart from creepily looking at Martina. She was going to have to watch him.
The following day she went for an interview. 
“Hello, I’m Martina. I have an appointment for a security role at the diamond mine. I believe you have a recommendation letter from my last employer in the MEAC”.
“Yes. Here it is. I thought it was a man because it has a recommendation for security guard role.”
“Yes, that’s for me. I’m a woman and a security guard.”
“But you cannot be a security guard. That is only for men. A woman cannot do such a job”, insisted the man behind the desk.
“Excuse me, but what can a man security guard do which a woman cannot?” said a shocked Martina.
“There are many things…..”
“Name one”, interrupted Martina.
“Well, like apprehending an intruder, using a gun”.
“I am military trained. I can shoot as good as the best man, and I can fight and apprehend better than any other security guard here,” she reasoned.
“Woman cannot be security. Even if I accepted your argument, they, the mine, would not. They won’t have you in that role.” he said closing the debate.
Seeing the look on her face, he said, “But there are other jobs, many other jobs, sit down, and we will find something. There are always cooking and cleaning jobs,” he said looking towards her optimistically.
Martina knew they wouldn’t give her the opportunity to go wandering around, “I can’t cook or clean.”
He looked disappointed, possibly even disgusted, at words he never expected a woman to say.
“OK. I have a job in the office working as an assistant to Mrs Jodie. She is the secretary to the directors. It is an important role, but it is only temporary, but don’t worry, you work hard, and they will extend you”.
“OK. That sounds good. When can I start?”
“Take this,” he said handing her a letter. “Present it to the gate, and they will take you in. 9 am tomorrow morning. Don’t be late.”
As she left, “Oh, by the way, I notice many people have missing limbs, why is that”, she asked him.
“Don’t you worry about that, that won’t happen to you because you are a good girl. Those people have been bad; they have been caught stealing diamonds. You just do as you are told, work had, and you will be just fine. Trust me.”
Martina was a bit shocked; some of the maimed people were children. So this was policy, this wasn’t a result of accidents, this was deliberate. Is this mine owned by King Leopold’s children?
“Mina, I’ve got a job as an assistant to Mrs Jodie”.
“Oh, that’s a great job. You will enjoy it. Mrs Jodie is tough but fair. Everyone has respect for her, even the security guards, who don’t have respect for many women. I’m glad you’re not going to be one of them. They are brutes and thugs; no young lady is safe with them.”
At that point, Moussa piped up with a remark before sniggering. Mina shot back to him. Martina couldn’t understand what he was saying, and Mina didn’t share the conversation. Martina noticed Moussa was again sitting while an 8-month pregnant woman was on her feet doing one job after another.
“Mina, what’s with all the maimed people in the town?”
“It’s those brutes’ the security guards. In the mine, they say they will cut off your hand if you are caught stealing. But I know that many have not been stealing. Sometimes they wrongly accuse people of stealing or women who reject their sexual advances.  They’re brutes. You need to watch them, but working for Mrs Judie should make you safe. “
At that point, her husband got up and went out.
“So he does get up. I thought he was stuck to the chair,” Martina laughed, with Mina joining in.
“What did he say, earlier”, Martina enquired.
“Oh that’s nothing; he’s stupid; he doesn’t like anyone saying anything about the security guards. He thinks they’re his friends; he wants to be one because then he doesn’t have to do work and just strut around menacing people. He has funny ideas about work. As you can see, he will do anything to avoid it!”
They both laughed.
Over the next few weeks, Martina worked diligently for Mrs Jodie with whom she got on really well. She had access to many of the papers, but even after plenty of sniffing around, she hadn’t found anything useful. She was looking for a ledger with the buyers’ names and serial numbers of their diamonds. She also wanted to know who the owners were and who the directors were. Once she had these documents, she needed to photograph them and send the film back to her HQ. Then wait for follow up tasks. 
She had already filed her first report. In it, she highlighted what her job was and what she had responsibility for and access. She described the maiming policy, and its abuse to settle vendettas and gain favours, often sexual.
Unbeknownst to Martina, her report and especially ‘maiming of children and raping women’ part had been picked up on and sent up the command chain. Soon her summary was circulating in government until it landed on the desk of one of The Women Committee.
The resulting outrage prompted the State Department to speak to the government of the African country with talk stretching to nationalising the mine, paid for by some of the annual economic aid money paid by MEAC.
On returning from work, Martina found Mina had gone. She had gone into labour earlier, and Moussa had taken and left her at the hospital. Martina wasn’t surprised he hadn’t stayed with her. But now, she was left with him alone in the house. In the weeks she had been there, he barely exchanged a word with her, but his eyes were constantly following her around. He gave her the creeps.
Moussa finally spoke to her, “Mina has gone. Now you are the woman of the house.” Martina just ignored him.
“But you don’t have to cook much. The children have gone to Mina’s sister’s house. You just need to cook for me, and you”.
“I can’t cook,” she told a shocked Moussa.
“Okay, I will get some food from around the corner. One day I pay for it, the next day you pay for it”.
“Okay,” said Martina, thinking it was a good workaround.
He soon came back with an assortment of dishes and more beer. He offered Martina some beer with her meal, which she declined, so he drank hers as well as his own.
After dinner, as she walked away, he grabbed her around her bottom, “You are the woman of the house. And I am the man,” he slurped, as he pulled her towards him with his strength.
She shot her knee into his crotch and pushed him to the floor as he doubled up in pain holding his balls.
“Not with me, Moussa. You better watch where you put your hands. DON’T do it again.” Then she went to bed. He didn’t follow her.
The next day he apologised. She bought food that night, but she didn’t buy any beer.
“You drink too much, and then you do stupid things.” She told him. To which he agreed.
Now Martina and Moussa got along just fine. A few days later Mina came back with a cute newborn. Martina had made Moussa promise he would do more around the house and help when Mina came home. And true to his word, he carried her things into the house before he sat down on his chair.
Martina had received some information from HQ. She was surprised to know there were moves to close the mine down or remove it from the owners. That risked jeopardising her mission because if the mine was closed, she might never be able to get the information she was wanted. She needed a breakthrough.
At work, Martina had to take documents into the director’s suite. She had been there before, but this time no one was there. She knew it was a risk, but one worth taking. Her heart pounded as she went through the desk drawers. But nothing unusual was found. The cabinet across the room was locked, so she tried to force it, but it wouldn’t budge. She went back to the desk drawer where she had seen some keys. Her heart was pounding, she tried the first key, no, and then the second key; the door opened. She quickly searched through the reams of papers. She found the list of directors and owners. Her new-issue micro-camera would now finally come in useful. She photographed the list and then did a double take when she noticed David David name appearing on it.
She quickly moved on to other papers; she saw some sales lists. One list had serial numbers missing; this was what she wanted. She took the camera out.
“What are you doing?” said the director. In her excitement, she hadn’t noticed someone had appeared behind her. He was standing with a gun pointed at her. “And who are you?”
Martina didn’t have any answers. She had been caught red-handed; it was evident she was stealing sensitive information. He walked forward and pressed the hidden security alarm button. Within a couple of minutes, two hefty security guards came running in.
“She has been caught stealing. You know what we do to thieves. Take her away. Oh, and find out who she’s working for.”
She was led away in silence. Before she had even reached the interrogation room, news had reached Mina in Gossip Central, otherwise known as the kitchens. “The white woman has been caught stealing and taken away by Adolf”.
Adolf was the brutal, despotic, despised sadist who was Head of Security. His name was Abu but everyone, even the other security guards called him Adolf behind his back. Not that he would mind, Abu was the kind of person who would take it as a compliment, maybe even try and live up to the name of the German dictator.
As soon as Mina heard she sent for Moussa who was a caretaker and so had access to master keys. She had to get Martina somehow out before they maimed her for life. She had to get to Martina before sadistic Adolf, and his deputy got going.
[Want more? Click below to read another excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Author Ash Nehmet weaves an intense tale of mystery, thriller and suspense, with intriguing twists and turns that easily captivates the reader's attention from the beginning. The story had every element a good story should have. An exciting plot, attention to detail, but best of all fleshed out, well-written and well-rounded character development. There’s an abundance of well illustrated scenes that make you feel like you are right there in the story, and that's something I really look for in a good book. I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading more from Ash Nehmet in the future. I would definitely recommend this book." ~ Piaras

Guest Post by the Author
This book is set in the 1960's and early 1970's It has a strong female lead.
An ex military German young women called Martina sets out to seek retribution against four men who had previously attacked her, and leave Europe.
Europe is misogynistic and poverty stricken, dominated by the Vatican since World War 2. Martina wants to leave for a peaceful Middle East.
The Middle East is Israel and one big Arab country which is run by a team of women. Which is why it has their values; health, education, no military, no poverty, secular, gay friendly ... you get the picture.
Along the way she rescues three trafficked women, rescuing one of them again from a home for "fallen women". (She was sent there by village elders in Italy, after Martina had returned home the 15 year old girl).
They rescue a bonded child. Fight pirates and illegally enter the Middle East.
There she is recruited to the Intelligence services after terror comes to the 1972 Olympic Games held in Baghdad. German terrorists kidnap Israeli athletes. This is where Martina starts her life as a spook. She infiltrates a German terrorist cell, traces funding back to the German state via Africa and Israel. She fights terrorists, child abusers, militia, as well as trying to find the parents of the boy they rescued from bondage.
I have made a series of 1 minute trailers. You can also visit the Martina Facebook page.
Thank you very much for reading.

About the Author
Ash Nehmet
I live in Newcastle upon Tyne, with my family.
I write when I've been hit with the force of an idea which I need to write down. Then afterwards I try to make into a good read. Hopefully, with a bit of success.