Strangers In A Strange Land

"Strangers in a Strange Land"

When: April, 1915
Who: Agbesi, Pete, Young, Tanner, Sam, Kate

What: ANZACs, Africans and nurses settle in for pre-Gallipoli training in Cairo, Egypt.

Mena Camp - Sleeping Tents

The Grid-----> > > > > THE LOST GENERATION < < <


Coordinates : 0 1

Separate tents house ANZAC men and women, sixteen to a tent. Inside each there's no hope of privacy, every small activity performed in full view of others. Flimsy, backbreaking beds are arranged in lines, each with space underneath for each soldier's personal bags, and for their boots at night. Like the mess hall, each tent has flags hanging prominently from its wooden beams, proudly displaying Commonwealth colours.

It is currently dusk.

Tanner arrives from the East to Mess Hall.

Agbesi glances from Pete to Young, blinking. "You English talk very strangely. Does everyone curse comme ca in Londres? In London, I mean."

Pete raises an eye at the Doctor. "Dr. Young eh?" He shakes his head. "Pete Stein."

Sam has connected.

"Hell if I know. Never been there," Young answers Agbesi in English. "Don't go walkin around calling folks English, mate. I'm not puttin your teeth back in when they get punched out." He looks back at Pete and gives a simple nod. "Good to meetcha."

Tanner ducks into the tents, lugging a duffel bag over his shoulder. The lad looks newly-arrived. And sunburnt. His face has achieved the same color as his ginger hair. He seems undaunted by it, though. The bag is dropped on one of the flimsy beds and he begins to settle in, taking little notice of the others in the tent yet.

"Chilling… Teeth. Mais c'est ne pas froid ici, oui? I don't understand." Agbesi shrugs, grinning widely. The black man bounds to his feet as Tanner walks in, offering a hand, "Bonjour, mon ami! I am Kosi Agbesi. I am only five minutes here."

Young smirks at Agbesi. He switches to French only long enough to say, "It'll -get- pretty fucking cold if you walk round calling everyone Poms, mate." He takes a drag off the cigarette, looking over at Tanner as the African pulls all the attention that way.

Looking just a tiny little bit uncomfortable, Sam also enter said sleeping tent, a bag of his own slung over one shoulder. After a cursory glance around, he frowns.

Tanner looks up from rummaging through his duffel and stares at Agbesi. It is likely he wasn't expecting to be confronted with a black, French-speaking African in his tent. He gawks. Perhaps as much at the French as the black African part. "Umm…bone-jeer," he replies in kind. Perhaps an in attempt to seem worldly. His rural Aussie accent is strong. It's hard to tell whether it's the accent or the pronunciation that mangles the word more. He takes the hand after some hesitation, pumping it. "Bill Tanner. I'm…well, not even two minutes, I suppose. Just figured out where I was sleeping."

"You can sleep la-bas, rien probleme!" Agbesi seizes Tanner's hand, pumping it up and down. The black man promptly clears some room next to his bedroll, earning some loud protests from his neighbour. He glances at Sam, offering the newcomer a big smile, white teeth shining against black skin. "allo, mon ami!"

Pete mutters as the new men come into the tent. "You gotta be kidding me…How about we just call in the entire Army?"

Young sticks the cigarette back in his mouth, drawing both feet up onto the squeaky rail of his 'bunk' and resting his arms down atop his knees. He snorts quietly. "You looked around lately, Stein? That's exactly what they -did-." He looks back at Tanner and gives him a chin-up kind of greeting, once Agbesi's done with him.

Kate has connected.

Agbesi nods seriously to Pete. "Oh yes, standard have seriously drop in this place, they take everyone these days! All kind of indigenes, Frenchmen, probably Algeriens soon. It is very disappointing mon ami."

"Hullo," Tanner offers. In response to Young's chin, but it's a general sort of 'hullo.' To Agbesi he offers a still befuddled, "Umm…thanks." He drops his stuff there. As good a place as any. Another nod is given in agreement to Young's words. "Aye. Looks like everybody's getting into the fight. Never heard of some of these countries 'til I joined up. Figured I'd be fighting Germans when I enlisted." He looks thoughtful. "Wonder if there /are/ Germans where we're going…?"

Sam returns Agbesi's smile with just a somewhat curt nod of his head, as he continues to glance around. "God, I hate Egypt already," he says, as he looks for a place to set up shop as it were. Tanner's query draws his interest, and he looks towards the other man. "I hear we're going to France soon." He smirks just a little bit, "The sooner the better."

"Ottomans," Young mutters at Tanner's question, drily. "Fucking sand Hun. Probably got German guns, that's as close as it'll get."

"I have fought les Allemandes. They are awful people. They wear spikes on their helmets." Agbesi shakes his head sadly. "And yes, Egypt is very dry and hot. It is unnatural."

Pete shakes his head. "It's too damn crowded in here. I'm gonna go to the rifle range. Anybody comeing with?" He stands up and moves towards the entrance to the tent.

"Aye. Ottomans. That's what they're called," Tanner says with a nod. The word 'Ottomans' still has a funny sound coming from him. As if he's wrapping his mind around the strange term. He shakes his head to France. "Nah, I hear we're getting shipped off somewhere else. Asked an officer bloke if we'd see any French women, and he said not unless I found one under a rock." But the Allemandes part turns his attention back to Agbesi. "You fought the Huns?" He grins eagerly. "What were they like? They're absolute monsters, the way the papers tell it, trying to put all the world under the Kaiser's thumb. Bollocks on that, I say." A parting nod is offered to Pete, though he seems more interested in gawking about Germans.

"Yes, at Marne. We slaughtered them, a little. But mostly, they slaughtered us." Agbesi's smile fades for a moment, and he shakes his head. "Je ne sais pas what the Allemand he is like. You see these men from far off, with rifle or the machine gun. And then when you see him close, he is dead. What he is like? Not know. I have heard that he is very cruel though, and tortures prisoners."

"I heard France," Sam says rather stubbornly, as he lays down on his newly aqquired cot, placing his hat over his face, closing his eyes.

"No thanks, mate," Young answers Pete, but he lifts his chin in farewell. He too seems ready to hear this Hun story from the African, lifting his cigarette for a slow drag. "Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Half the Poms here think the Kaiser makes shoes out of the ones he doesn't like."

«Game» Pete wields his Lee Enfield SMLE!

Pete has left.
Pete heads off South to Training Area.

"Aye, wouldn't surprise me if he did," Tanner replies to Young with all seriousness, sitting down on his bed and settling in. The earnest attention he gives Agbesi makes his boyish features look even younger. "Did you fight the Huns in France? You must've been soldiering a fair stretch, then."

"Poms? Qu'est que c'est?" Agbesi looks questioningly at Young. "Yes, I fight at Marne. My company, ils ont tue - most of them died. We charge with bayonet into artillery. It was very bad." The black man shakes his head sadly. "But now, I am going to fight with ANZAC to Gallipoli! God is good."

Patrick has connected.

"Les Anglaises," Young replies to Agbesi, succinctly. He continues in English. "France sounds like a shithole. Think it was that way before the Huns got to it?"

And soon, Sam has fallen asleep. Must be a nice talent.

Tanner looks rather downcast at Agbesi's account of slaughter and artillery and bayonets. Not quite the glorious battle story he'd had in mind. "Less Angles…aye…" he mutters. Perhaps at a loss for any other response. Perhaps just wanting to fit in with the funny talk. But he brightens as the ANZACs are mentioned, nodding firmly. "Aye. Gallipole. Or…Ottoman Land. Whatever it's called. I guess it don't matter so much, whether we fight Huns or Friends of Huns. We're still in it. That's what counts."

Patrick enters from the Training Area. "Crikey it's hot out there." he says as he shirks his webbed gear and rifle, leaving them on one of the backbreaking beds as he sits to start unlacing his boots, "Hey, when's chow on then mates?"

"Oh no! France is the land of civilization. I wish I could go the City of Light one day. It has always been ma reve - my dream. Everyone would have been tres jealous, back home. But we did not get leave there." Agbesi shrugs, as if to say 'oh well'. "I hope Gallipoli will be better than Verdun. It was quite bad there. We live in mud and dead bodies, sometime we have to eat rat. All water is bad, and people have sickness. It was not like this in the Army of Africa in Senegale." The black man looks up as Patrick enters, offering a cheerful, "Allo!"

"Civilisation, my arse." For all Young's opinions of France it's a wonder he speaks French so flawlessly. "Ain't doing them much good, is it." He looks over at Patrick. "Hour or so, I think. How's the sand?"

Patrick glances to Young. In response, he raises up his boot, turning it over so that sand pours out of the sole. "Bloody annoying that's what it is." he grumbles. "The heat is worse so, an there's no bush out there… no bush…. I'll bet there's not even any bush in Cairo… am I right? What what?" he chuckles.

"I thought I might get to go to Paris," Tanner admits, showing some disappointment again. Perhaps it's the talk of eating rats. "The officer who helped me get signed up talked about French food and French women and French-this-and-that. Egypt's a fair sight to see, though." He tries to drum up his enthusiasm again. "Sand ain't so bad. I heard you can ride out to the pyramids from here. The real pyramids. Never thought I'd see them except in books."

Agbesi shakes his head, offering a confused smile at Young. Or more exactly, he seems to think that Young is confused. He shrugs at Tanner, "It's just Africa. It is very barbaric here, with all these indigenes. I would rather be in France, developing myself." The black men seems to be absolutely serious about that. "Maybe we can go to Paris after Gallopoli, eh?"

"You can catch a camel," Young grins at Tanner. "Been down the Khan yet, mate? Now there's a bash." He looks over at Patrick and snickers under his breath.

Pete has arrived.
Pete arrives from the South to Training Area.

Pete shudders, shouldering his rifle as he walks back towards his tent. He walks through the entrance, glanceing around at all the people. "Still to damn packed in here."

Patrick shakes his head as he removes his other boot, setting it aside before reclining backwards onto his rack, stretching out and tilting his hat lower over his eyes. "Nope, think i'll stick to the canteen for now."

Tanner does grin at that. "Trader back in Dalby had a camel he used to come through town with. Said they stood up to the bush better than the mules. Even got to ride the thing a few times. Don't beat a horse, way I see it, but they seem steady enough creatures. That'd be a thing, wouldn't it? To ride a camel out to the real pyramids?" His sunburnt face beams at the idea. He nods to Agbesi. Taking solace in the promise of Paris. "Aye. After. We're soldiers, after all. Going to see the world before this whole mess is over, I think." He looks up at Pete when he reenters the tent. "It's where we're all boarded, mate. Ain't so bad. Bigger than the room I had to share with my brothers. Likely got more room to myself here, too."

"Yes. Though most bit of world les soldats get to see is the ugly bit that no one civilized want to live in. I want to see Paris. And maybe Londres. Do you have many civilized cities in Australia?" Agbesi looks curiously at the ANZACs.

"Camels ain't so bad," Young says, tossing down his cigarette and lowering his boot heel onto it. "Smelly fuckers, but they can hike for days." He looks over at the re-entering Pete. "Sixteen to a tent you know, mate. Don't like it, better dig yourself a nice hole outside. Might even have more room." He smirks and turns his attention to Agbesi. "Course we do. Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne…all round the coast, mate. And up the middle you got the biggest stretch of beautiful nothing there ever was."

"Beautiful… Nothing? You mean wasteland?" Agbesi doesn't look very impressed. "I like cities. They are very civilized." The broadshouldered African glances with amusement at Pete, stretching out on his bedroll. Within seconds, he goes from hyperactive jabbering to snoring. Impressive.

Patrick grunts, "Hey hey hey, don't be poking fun at the bush there mate. Some of the best country in the world's in the outback. Up in the bush, a man is his own king…. god I miss it." he smiles.

"Yeah. It ain't all a wasteland away from the coast," Tanner says, also coming to the defense of the bush. "There's good land out there. A bloke can grow anything. And there's cities in Queensland. My folks sent me up to Toowoomba with my aunt for school. Bet there's nothing there they ain't got in Sydney." Not that he follows that up with any description of the urban wonders of Toowoomba.

"Not poking fun at her," Young answers Patrick, smirking. "Said she's beautiful, it's that simple. What part you from then, eh?" He laces his hands behind his head, looking over at Tanner. "Couldn't tell you, never been to Sydney. Heard it's a pretty nice place though, all told."

Patrick yawns a bit, "Charleville, Southwestish Queensland." he responds, "Least that's where I was born… Kinda been movin about lately. The Allabarkoo is a nice place if you like simplicity if you ask me."

"I've never been, either," Tanner admits with a shrug, as to Sydney. "I come from the Darling Downs, myself. In Queensland, mate, aye." He grins broadly over at Patrick, considering him a proper countryman now. "My folks've been farming by Dalby long as there've been Tanners in Australia, I figure. Sheep mostly. Some beef, but we figure there's more money to be made in sheep. Less mess, too, as my dad says it. Fine land as a man could want." Though after a pause he admits. "Would kind of like to see Sydney, though. Or Paris. Or London."

"They'll be there for the seein'." Young keeps his hands behind his head, giving his shoulders a gentle roll to stretch them. "Get this mess taken care of and you'll be right off on a train from Constantinople."

Pete listens to the conversation quietly. "I wonder if they'll let us ride in Aeroplanes…"

"Along the coast the Magnet came; with Captain Bruce, a man of fame; But in his face there is no shame, on the beautiful coast of New Zeeealand," comes the passable singing voice of Kate as she wanders the encampment, passing the tent.

Patrick raises his hat as he hears the female voice. "G'day Kiwigirl." he says to Kate, winking a bit, grinning, "Little sad there are no sheep in Egypt then?" he laughs, seeming to get a tickle out of those silly New Zealanders.

"Constantinople? Where the old Romans lived?" Tanner asks Young, some of his eagerness for this Ottoman thing rebounding. "I read about them. Hey. Did the knights go to this Gallipoli place during the Crusades?" This prospect makes him brighten. Though he doesn't wait for an answer. The singing catches his attention. He stands, going to open the flap of the tent and find the source of it. "Not really, mate," he replies to Patrick, showing little longing for sheep.

"Constantinople's a beautiful city," Young says, sounding wistful. Nothing more comes about that though, as they all seem to pick up on the singing outside. He shifts on his bunk, lying down on his back and stretching out his legs, pushing his glasses up onto his forehead. His hazel eyes stay turned to the flap where Tanner's voicehunting.

Kate has already come to a stop, more or less in front of the tent, with her hands on her hips, staring up at the sky. When Tanner pulls aside the tent flap and she hears the voice greeting her as 'Kiwigirl,' she turns around and levels a squint into the tent.

Patrick grins a bit as he sees the shadow of Kate, hands on her hips. "No kiwis allowed!" he bellows in a playful tone. "Unless she's bringing food… I am hungry.. and if I hear the words Bully Beef one more time I think someone is going to get shot."

"You talk almost like you've been there," Tanner says with a chuckle to Young. Not that he pursues that subject. He blinks when he sees Kate squinting at him. Or, at the tent. But he's in the line of squinting. He raises a hand and waves somewhat awkwardly, touching the brim of his infantry-issue hat. "Um. Hullo, Miss." He is not as verbose as Patrick.

"I have," Young says to Tanner. Offhandedly, as his attention's on the tent flap now too. The gesture he makes towards Kate is the same as Tanner's; he hasn't actually got a hat on to tip right now but one can pretend. Not that he sits up to do it, remaining comfortably on his back on his bedroll.

Pete has disconnected.

"Evenin'," returns Kate with a dip of her head, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to peer inside men's tents at dusk. She takes a step closer, trying to get a better look, even. "I think I heard a bit of sass, comin' from that one right there," she explains her interest, pointing a finger at Patrick. "This 'no kiwi' business. I s'pose he'll take it back the second I'm hovering over his wounds, hmm?" She arches both brows expressively.

Tanner double-takes to blink at Young for the Constantinople comment. But he'll gawk about that later. Kate has his attention just now. He says, earnestly, "I ain't got nothing against Kiwis, Miss." A pause. "New Zealand folk, I mean. You a nurse, then?" Not that the Red Cross garb makes it obvious or anything.

Patrick laughs, "Wounds? Me? C'mon then, you think I'll be wounded? Darling, nothing can touch me!" he winks, "Well, nothing that's metal and fired from something… I mean, the sheila's are a whole different story!"

Three red crosses in the room. Six, if you actually count all the armbands and insignias. Young smirks at the banter, fishing a new cigarette from his pocket and sticking it in his mouth. He gets a match lit one-handed, holding the flame to the tip.

Kate smiles at Tanner, her left cheek dimpling slightly. She nods at him amiably, then wrinkles her nose in Patrick's direction. "He's a real hard case, in't he?" she asks, folding her arms across her chest. Then, just as soon as they were crossed, her arms unfold and she reaches a hand out to Tanner. "Name's Kate Astley. Nurse, aye. Medic?" She leans her head to the side again, and into the tent. Maybe she's just curious what men get up to when left to their own devices.

"Bill Tanner. Medic and stretcher bearer, aye," Tanner replies to Kate with a nod. "This fellow's a real doctor, I think." That's added with a nod toward Young. As for Patrick, he just shrugs. "Oh, he's just funning, Miss. Don't take nothing by it."

Patrick lets out a bit of a grump as Kate enters. The countryman pushes his hat lower over his eyes, folding his hands ontop of his chest as he settles in for a little bit of a snooze.

Patrick has disconnected.

"Ma'am." Young gives Kate a verbal greeting this time, beyond the imaginary hat-tip of a few minutes ago. "Don't mind that one." His chin tips towards the snoozing Patrick. "Them Queensland boys got lip on'em." He gives Tanner a grin.

"Mm," Kate replies, shifting her gaze from Tanner to Young. She's still not properly inside the tent, just snooping with her head somewhat poked in. "Well. Nice't meetcha, Mr. Tanner. And… Doctor." She nods once. "I guess I'll let you men get back to whatever it is you get up to in here when there aren't any women naggin' ya." She grins again after confirming the nature of her curiosity.

Tanner scoffs at Young. "We don't either! That one's just been out in the bush too long. I'm from Dalby." Great metropolis that it is. "Some of us learned up proper manners." He inclines his head to Kate. "Nice't meetcha as well, Nurse Astley. And you can call me Private Tanner, if you like." He straightens up a notch as he says his rank. Lowly though it is.

"Jeremy Young." Young exhales smoke at the cloth wall. "Sure we'll see you out there on field exercises, Nurse Astley. Naggin'll come in right handy out there."

"Of course, Private Tanner," Kate returns with a bob of her head. "Good," she replies to Young, smiling in his direction. "Be nice to put my natural talents t'use. G'night!" She pulls her face out of the men's business after executing a quick wave.

"G'night, Nurse," Tanner says, before turning to duck back into the tent himself.

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