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Today's Maynia Prompt: opal
Today's Daily Freewrite Prompt: designer drugs
Writers can choose to use one of the prompts, both the prompts or not use the prompt at all. It is all up to you!
I wish to make this into a sci-fi novel. Let's see how it progresses! 😊
The Galactic Interceptors - Day 15
Continued from Day 14. You can read it here.
Intelligence Bureau, Delhi
The previous evening turned out to be steamy if not hot for Akash. The entire episode was odd and yet he had no complaints about having learned that the Arlenian anatomy was no different from a woman’s. What he was worried about were the other-worldly implications. He wasn’t sure if this was a one night stand or you break it, you take it thing. He was yearning for some coffee, especially Radhika’s, but there was a meeting with Arvind planned.
Akash was tired from his late-night expedition, and he had to get up early to drop Sarvi at her residence. Sarvi wore Akash’s T-shirt and shorts instead of the gown. She packed the dress and took it along with her. Akash thought it would be better to continue to the office after the drop.
Akash’s was worried that his drowsy feet were a testimony of things to come. If not for a lively discussion, Akash feared that he would be snoring at the director’s face. But he thought that it was Radhika’s and Arvind’s plan to get talking with Sarvi, so both shouldn’t complain. Despite his lack of energy at 8:00 a.m. for the meeting, he was happy that his early morning office detour allowed him to complete the report on his conversation with Sarvi. Akash walked through the gangway with hundreds of eyes adoring him as usual, but he knew that his adoration had reached an all-new level – galactic level to be precise.
Akash felt like Indiana Jones and showed that off by doing away with the customary knock on the director’s cabin. He just barged in, “Jai-Hind, sir.”
“Jai-Hind,” Arvind noticed that Akash’s eyes were swollen, “how many nights haven’t you slept?”
“Just one,” Akash said, and he instantly regretted saying that.
“Don’t tell me Sarvi was helping you make the official report yesterday night,” Radhika entered the cabin in her customary way of never knocking.
“You should knock some time,” Akash said.
“Don’t you agree?” Arvind threw his arms open as if to say – I rest my case.
“Was there a secret being discussed which I interrupted?” Radhika never-ever entertained the argument around knocking the door. Akash thought that someday she would take over from Arvind and he would have his payback by never knocking.
“I wish I could continue these light-hearted discussions,” Arvind said, “but I need to brief the PMO. What do we know?”
“Olyint seems to be a gentleman,” Radhika started, “he was talking about the visit to the IAF base with you.”
“I did not get that part,” Akash’s eyes were turning droopy, “what has gentleman got to do with his visit to the IAF base.”
“Gentleman is my impression based on his way of dealing with kids,” Radhika clarified, “IAF base, well, he did a mind-jag around the weapon he mentioned. It seems someone with supreme speed entered and took away the weapon.”
“Case closed,” Akash said, “Zarqui.”
“That’s good to know it is Zarqui, but how do we nab him?” Arvind was back to stroking his chin, “a guy that we haven’t ever got around finding, does not present an easy job to nab.”
“There’s a way,” Akash said, “yesterday, Sarvi told me that Olyint is the only one who can nab Zarqui.”
“He can?” Radhika asked.
“Yes, it seems he can freeze a moment. So, if Zarqui is in close proximity, Olyint can freeze him,” Akash was shedding his drowsiness and leaning forward on the table, “but proximity is the issue.”
“So, that’s why Zarqui does not want to be found,” Arvind stood up walking towards the whiteboard on the opposite wall, “lest we get him closer to Olyint.”
“Probably. But why did he come to us to talk about being innocent? Radhika was seated crouched and was looking down. Her hair was unusually open. Akash couldn't see her face, though sitting right next to her. If she looked like this in the night, Akash thought, her children would go to sleep out of fear. Akash smiled, which made Arvind frown.
Radhika turned, “still floating in love thoughts lover boy?” and that wasn’t a particularly kind comment.
“No, no, I agree that it does appear odd. But what if he stole the weapon to get Olyint talking?” Akash tried to salvage the situation.
“If that is the case, then the weapon is only a negotiating instrument,” a flicker of smile betrayed Arvind, “then we only have to find what Zarqui needs.”
“That was the reason for your smile?” Radhika whispered to Akash as Arvind turned towards the window, “I know it had something to do with yesterday night.”
“It had to do with the night,” Akash whispered back, “but not me. I will tell you some other time.”
“Then how can we get to Zarqui? I think he will be ready with his demands.”
“He will be ready with the demands for sure,” Akash stood up as well, “and all we have to do is to get those two talking.”
“You were supposed to meet him this week, right?” Radhika tied her hip long hair.
“Ah, yes. That’s what we decided the last time. Zarqui is smart that way. He chose the place,” Akash said.
“Good,” Arvind wasn’t keen on knowing the location. All he cared was apprising the PMO in the afternoon, “let’s get these extra-terrestrials and their weapons away from this world. And a report of your meeting.”
“Sure,” Akash said and turned to leave, “Jai-Hind, sir.”
As they turned to leave, Madan entered with hot cups to tea and coffee.
“Arrey, you are late,” Akash said, “come to my cabin.”
Arvind smiled, “you can have it here too.”
“Some reports to be completed. I will have it in my cabin,” Akash said. Radhika and Akash left the room.
“Your face is glowing,” Radhika teased Akash, “something to do with yesterday night?”
“How is that you keep going back to my night but say nothing about your night?” Akash retorted.
“Well, I said he was a gentleman. How do you expect a gentleman to behave?” Radhika once again opened her hair to tie it back, “you, on the other hand, are sleep deprived. That makes me wonder.”
“Sharp, aren’t you?”
“Where do you think I work?” Radhika smiled, “anyway, is your babe joining you for this meeting with Zarqui.”
“Yes,” Akash entered the cabin, “why don’t you join me for a moment.”
“Only if you are going to tell me about yesterday night.”
“And more,” Akash said as he settled in his chair, and just about then Madan entered after Radhika, “ah, the man! You know you are the most important person after Arvind sahab.”
Madan smiled and placed a cup of tea for Akash and coffee for Radhika. “I have some aloo bhajia, sahab.”
“Yes, please. Two plates.”
“I am not having any potato fries, please,” Radhika waved her hand.
“Both are for me. You can order something else if you need,” Akash leaned back on his chair.
“Yeah, tired nights usually make you hungry the next day,” Radhika was at it again.
“Hah, nothing tires me, especially in the night,” Akash said, “get facts right, lady.”
“Anyway,” Radhika opened her hair again, which was unusual for her to do, “are we discussing your energy levels at night or something else?”
“Ah, I am not sure if Zarqui has stolen the weapon to negotiate,” Akash said as Radhika momentarily stopped tying her hair, “a guy who could enter the IAF base could easily take the hopper and leave.”
“Hmm. And fire the weapon from space if that was the intention,” Radhika added.
“Precisely. That makes me feel that we have unnecessarily got entangled in something we cannot manage,” Akash put a whole bhajia piece in his mouth.
“We should seriously consider this American angle,” Akash spoke while munching and pushing in two more pieces into his mouth.
“I am unable to make out if you are binge eating under stress or because you are starving.”
“Don’t mind me. Think of what can be done. I am not too positive about today’s meeting.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got this while you are away,” Radhika pushed the door open and fired her final salvo, “you have fun with your babe while you are at it.”
Akash smiled, knowing how difficult it was to keep Radhika’s pranky kid nature out of the equation.
Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Akash picked up Sarvi from the same place where he had dropped her in the morning. Though awake now, Akash would have loved the day to be a Saturday or a Sunday. Akash was driving his Hexa at almost 150 kmph and was happy that he could find Delhi roads so empty. The pandemic was indeed ravaging the globe but if Zarqui wasn’t stopped, Akash thought, the pandemic would be the last thing that humans as a race would be regretting.
What was odd for Akash was the marked silence in the car with only the airconditioner’s blower hissing quite loud. That noise of the blower was one of the few grouses that Akash had about the Hexa. He felt that it was a pretty neat SUV with such a nagging production issue. He, however, knew that turning down the conditioner was asking to be melted alive as the outside temperature was touching fifty degree Celsius.
With the silence prevailing longer than Akash had anticipated, he was growing tolerant of the airconditioner but not of the lack of conversation, “you got to sleep in the morning?” Ice breaker if it so had to be.
“No, we don’t need as much sleep as humans. I am fine,” Sarvi was to the point.
“You never told me about the dress that you wore yesterday. That was pretty hep.”
“I told you - the magazines and television,” Sarvi’s to the point answers were irritating Akash. First, he thought that the previous night was something out of the ordinary and second, there was a potential recluse killer on the loose, and all that Sarvi preferred was one sentence interaction.
He reached for the fragrance dispenser attached to the air conditioner vent and turned it up a bit. He tried once again but this time straight to the point, “look, do you think yesterday was a mistake?” The other point.
“No.” The response took the cake. Akash was pretty sure that a human would have responded differently.
“Care to tell me why you are so silent?” Akash was warmed up now, and he was hardly going to back down without a conversation.
“We both are going to someplace, aren’t we?” Sarvi said, “is that not what needs to be occupying our thoughts?” Akash thought maybe humans gave too much credit to night-jaunts and not Arlenians. Or Arlenians did not like living in the past. If latter was the case, then she would have made many of the ‘positive-thinking’ gurus proud.
“Yeah, I know,” Akash said, but he remembered something from the previous night, “yesterday, I could feel something hard on your back. What was that?”
“Our muscle structure is harder than humans’. Every part of me is hard,” Sarvi’s ever so matter-of-factly response was starting to irk Akash. And, definitely, unsettled the ego of a man who believed that his gym exploits gave him rock hard muscles in seen and unseen places.
“No, I mean exactly on your back. It felt like a rectangular metal,” Akash for once allowed his ego to slide off. He too would have made few ‘positive-thinking’ gurus proud.
Sarvi turned to Akash, raised her hand wanting to say something, but turned away. There was a moment of silence which Akash couldn’t comprehend. Admittedly, it was not that difficult a question, he thought. Besides, whatever it was, it went missing as the night flourished.
“It was a piece of metal that the dresser put there because the gown wouldn’t’ hold,” Sarvi said. That kind of added up as per Akash. No wonder it went missing in the night.
“Even a dresser. You have been reading and watching a lot of television,” Akash smiled.
“Would yesterday night be considered wrong on your planet?” Akash continued despite the monosyllable answers.
“There are no such restrictions on our planet. Elites like me, though, are required to entertain only an elite’s advance.”
“Oh, so that puts things in an awkward….”
“I meant Arlenian elite soldiers. The hierarchy forbids lesser advances.”
“So, that still puts my advance…”
“You are not an Arlenian, but you are an elite soldier, indeed. The IB is the topmost institution in your region,” Sarvi turned to Akash, “isn’t it?”
“It is,” Akash responded, but he was still basking in the glory of being called an elite soldier.
“But your civilization is so fragmented,” Sarvi continued, “all Arlenium is one, and there is one leadership. The Elders are unanimous choice of the planet and the citizens, but your planet is odd. There are regions and multiple authorities and duplication of hierarchies. Just imagine the efficiency that is possible, if you all choose to adhere to a single hierarchy.”
It was odd that an alien had pointed that out, but Akash knew that in the current human frame of mind, even a suggestion in that direction would be inviting World War III. “Hmm. True.” Akash though wanted to divert the conversation towards the elders.
“In that sense, your civilization is quite primitive.”
“Hmm. How can a planet choose an Elder? Does your planet talk to you?”
“Every planet talks. It comes down to your capability to listen,” Sarvi said. And with that Akash thought she had reached Zen level.
“And your planet told you which elder to select.”
“It selects more than the desired number of elders. After that, our citizens and elites decide on the best ones among them based on the training they had received from the previous elder, their work on the planet, their social inclinations, or habits and manners in Earth’s language and few other aspects.”
“Hmm, let me guess, the planet does recommend female elders, but the citizens and elites do not choose them,” Akash summed it up.
“It wouldn’t be an incorrect conclusion.”
“So, who trained you?”
“Zarqui,” Sarvi sighed, “I am the best of the elites, the most trained by an elder, and the most probable choice for being an elder.”
“But difficult to happen,” Akash completed her thoughts.
“I still to get to serve as an elite. That’s what is important.”
“But where does Zarqui and Olyint get their powers from? Were they born with it?”
“It is said that the very first elders were endowed with those powers by Mother Arlenium. The subsequent elders were trained by the previous ones to gain their powers. Many do gain while many don’t. However, now and then, citizens with special powers are born. Such citizens become an automatic choice to be an Elder.”
“Hmm. Interesting. So, were you born with powers?”
“No, no,” Sarvi smiled, “but I’ve been trained.”
“Hmm. Only if you were as fast as Zarqui, our problems would be that much easier.”
“As I said, some gain, while many don’t.”
“I get that,” Akash said, “but a strange location that Zarqui chose for the meeting. An open race circuit and the one that he selected a couple of weeks back. That gives us ample time to set up the place if we wished.”
“On the contrary, that is the best location.”
“For precisely the reasons you mentioned. It is an open location, so Zarqui can easily see threats from far. Besides, the location known to you in advance is no advantage. Zarqui would have recced the place to notice any possibility of rigging. Remember, he is a soldier, an elite and an elder. That’s a huge advantage playing against us.”
“Hmm. So, what’s our strategy?” Akash agreed with Sarvi’s point. After all, a being capable of moving at the blink of an eye would capture the snail-paced humans rigging the place. He could have recced probably 10 kilometres around the site, and that too, every single hour of every day since they met.
“Trust me, no strategy will work when Zarqui is on the other side. Our best bet is to talk to him and understand what he wants.”
“That is, assuming, he is the culprit.”
“I don’t see who else could have gone in so fast and taken the weapon,” Sarvi was right, and Akash knew it. He hoped that the weapons saga came to an end and these Arlenians could go back home and sort things out.
For a moment, Akash had a brainwave. The only way Zarqui took to anything human was Coke or Miranda. If human food and drink did not affect the Arlenians, then he wondered if human sedatives would work on them. If not the standard drugs then maybe some designer-drugs to capture Zarqui; that is if need be.
Image Courtesy: Pixabay