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*** Today's Maynia Prompt: suffocate***
*** Today's Daily Freewrite Prompt: nail clippings***
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 18
Continued from Day 17. You can read it here.
Sarvi's makeshift residence
Radhika and Akash made their way to the first-floor of the building where Olyint and Sarvi were put up in a four-bed apartment. The complex with a playground, basketball court, tennis court and swimming pool was reminiscent of a ghost town. The May summer vacation, usually, would have the place filled with kids and their parents but not the summer of 2020. Staying home was more logical than playing unsafe.
The first-floor room had a lone police constable at the door, and Akash sensed that the police force must have been spread thin, ensuring the lockdown. So, guarding the alien duo against another alien was not a priority. As Akash rang the bell, the constable appeared in two minds to ask for their identity or leave it at that. He chose the latter while Radhika and Akash waited for the door to open.
It was Olyint who opened the door. For the ordinarily expressionless alien countenance, Akash could notice a lot of concern; either it was that or Akash's perception.
"We got here as soon as we could," Radhika said.
"Thank you, Radhika," Olyint replied, "but it's good that you took your time. If you had to face Zarqui, that would have been disastrous." Akash got the impression that Radhika was right in her assessment of Olyint. He was indeed a gentleman.
"You saw Zarqui?"
"No, Sarvi did."
"We can speak to her?" Akash asked and right about then Sarvi came to the hall, "oh, hi!"
"Hello, Akash," Sarvi was looking all fine. There was nothing different about her from the previous night. He guessed that being shot and treated is not the same as for humans.
"You look fine," Radhika smiled.
"Yes, Olyint synthesized me on time. More than that, he came at the right time to prevent the third desynthesizer shot."
"What does that mean?" Radhika asked.
"Just like Gangesh and Sarvesh. When shot, the subject is not killed," Akash explained, "they can be brought back to life. However, if shot thrice, then there is no return."
"Hmm," Radhika nodded, "what did Zarqui want from you?"
"The arm panel, maybe," Akash said. Radhika gestured to stop answering for Sarvi. Ever so gently, she firmed her gaze at Akash to drive home the point. Akash got the cue, and both looked at Sarvi for the answer.
"I am not sure," Sarvi said, "he just appeared out of nowhere. I was in the gas chamber."
"Gas chamber?" Radhika was amused than stunned.
"Kitchen," Olyint clarified, "that's where she was. I had gone down to stretch my legs and get some drinks." Akash presumed that Zarqui was watching them all the while. But attempting to kill Sarvi did not add up.
"I think he wanted the arm panel," Sarvi continued, "he did not ask for it but asked me to stay out while he threw out Olyint's and my stuff. I couldn't just watch."
Radhika wasn't sure if Sarvi was tagging Akash's line or she truly felt that Zarqui wanted her arm panel. She thought best to ask Akash, "why did you think that Zarqui would have wanted to have the arm panel?"
"You remember I told you about the hopper checks that he wanted to have done?"
"So, he wasn't convinced that Sarvi's readings were right. He could have come to see it for himself."
"When did this happen?" Olyint frowned.
"Today morning," Akash involuntarily looked at his watch as if it could tell the time of the meeting, "about 6:30 if I am not wrong."
"Your office is just 30 km from here. That would take him just a couple of minutes to reach here," Olyint surmised, "and a mistake that I chose to go down at that time."
"Then what happened?" Radhika never took her gaze off Sarvi.
"Then I tried to stop him, and he shot me. The first time it hit my abdomen, and I was still holding his leg. And then I went blank."
"That's because he hit her head," Olyint completed, "I could hear voices and rushed back. When I opened, Sarvi was already down. I did not see Zarqui, though."
'If you had seen him, you would have frozen him," Akash completed.
"Without a doubt."
"But is your arm panel gone?" Radhika continued staring at Sarvi.
"No, it is still here," Sarvi said. Akash turned towards Radhika. He sensed that she was on to something.
"And then what happened?" Radhika continued her interrogation.
"I then used the weapon to synthesize Sarvi."
"What weapon?" Akash looked at Olyint, "we took all your weapons on day one."
"Not ours. We don't have ours. I can only think it was Zarqui's. It was lying next to Sarvi."
"That is odd. The man comes in to take something. Does not take it but leaves his weapon behind," Radhika clenched her fist.
"He wouldn't want to face Olyint," Sarvi said. Akash thought that the pieces weren't falling in place. Zarqui had asked to know about the readings and give Olyint the device in Sarvi's absence. Akash couldn't figure out what could have changed that it was so urgent for Zarqui to get to the residence even before the next day had started.
"Does your mind-jag show Zarqui here?" Akash asked Olyint. The question inadvertently questioned Sarvi's authenticity.
"Do you doubt me?" Sarvi's tone and pace let out her feelings.
"Let them do their work, Sarvi. They are law-upholders, and they need to know everything," Olyint then turned to Akash, "I tried. The experience has not come up yet."
Damn, less Hydrogen,' Akash thought, and damn my question. Akash wasn't sure if he should give the device to Olyint at the moment. On the one hand, Zarqui overstepped his part of the deal, and Akash wondered if he should too and just give the device. But then, he asked, what if it was not Zarqui.
"And I know my training commander," Sarvi added. "I don't need mind-jagging proof to know how he looked." Sarvi indeed had taken it to heart. Maybe, being authentic was the Arlenians natural trait.
"It's not doubt, Sarvi," Akash thought he owed an explanation, "I am looking at the history. Zarqui claims that he did not take the weapon and yet we trace his pace around the weapon. You claim it was him, but what if it was some visual trickery by some imposter? Maybe, by the same person impersonating his speed."
"I would agree with that line of thought," Olyint said, "did Zarqui truly say that he did not take the weapon."
"Yes, and that spooks us," Radhika came in, "you didn't take it, neither did she and neither did Zarqui. So who did?"
Olyint sat upright in his chair, "that indeed is a dilemma."
"And we don't know how that weapon works. What if it is set off right now? Zarqui isn't here. He could be on his way out and blasting this planet," Radhika said.
"I know Zarqui wouldn't do that to a race," Olyint assured.
"Well, he did that to an elder," Sarvi said, not much to the delight of Olyint. He probably hoped that she defended her kind.
"We still have to complete investigations," the voice was stern and reprimanding. Sarvi backed off. "To answer your next question on triggering the weapon. Any of the three of us can trigger the weapon. If there is someone else in this equation, then there is nothing to worry. This somebody wouldn't have the code or authorization to blow the weapon."
"With all your technology, you can't track the weapon?" Akash was playing incy-wincy spider with his fingers and was focused on his hands.
"We can in three ways," Olyint said, "the first one is mind-jag, which I can possibly do in a couple of days to trace where the weapon was taken from the base. Second, as soon as the weapon is initiated, it will show up on our panel, and we can stop it from here."
"Oh, that's good news," Akash said. Radhika wasn't convinced with the answer. That stopping won't happen, she thought, if Olyint or Sarvi were the ones behind the stealing.
"Yes, indeed," Olyint acknowledged, "the third was the material tracker. That tracker would have allowed us to directly pinpoint where the weapon was, without needing any intervention like mind-jag or initiation. Unfortunately, we don't have that tracker handy."
"The only thing that would work is not handy," Akash looked at Radhika and raised his hands in exasperation.
"How do we nab, Zarqui?" Radhika asked.
"We are working on that," Sarvi said.
Akash was surprised at that answer. Till yesterday night, at least, they were doing nothing. "How, exactly?"
"Can't speak about it yet. But with the attack on Sarvi yesterday and today, I don't think we want to risk any more people getting affected," Olyint said.
"What's your plan after capturing him?" Radhika asked just to be sure.
"Leave along with him and the weapon," Olyint answered. That was what Radhika and Akash were expecting to hear, and hoped it was sooner than later.
"So, we will leave now, and I understand you have Akash's phone," Radhika looked at Sarvi who turned red at the mention, "you can call us any time."
"We will," Olyint said. Akash and Radhika went ahead with the customary human handshakes and left.
Olyint came to the door and noticed the constable standing. He brought a chair and gave him. That kind of sealed it in Akash's head that he was indeed a gentleman. But he noticed the same thing about Zarqui. Akash thought that Mother Arlenium's choices weren't wrong. Was this one of them turning rogue or was it the play of someone else, he wondered.
As they walked down the stairs, Radhika asked, "well?"
"What do you think?"
"That there are two saints from Arlenium up there in that room and one more absconding." Akash quipped.
"Hah, I am fine with two saints, but one.." Radhika's hunch was up again.
"I don't know how you could point your finger at anyone. All appear innocent to me," Akash said.
"All but one," Radhika said, "just a hunch."
They both got into the Hexa. Radhika took out a chit and wrote something. She then placed the chit in Akash's glove box. "You finish your meeting with Zarqui today. We will discuss this tomorrow again, and then you can open the chit."
"Till tomorrow you want me to be a decent spy? You do know the meaning of the word spy, right?"
"Your choice. But I am going to discuss it tomorrow, only."
"Hmm. Challenge accepted," Akash said as he started the car, "anyway, by day after, Olyint would have mind-jagged to trace the weapon. So, yeah, tomorrow's not bad."
The car was mostly silent over the thirty km drive on clear roads and open signals, with Akash occasionally thinking why Zarqui would have done that. Why shoot at Sarvi? He hoped that he would know the answer that evening.
Image Courtesy: Pixabay