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*** Today's Maynia Prompt: plastic biscuit***
*** Today's Daily Freewrite Prompt: inspector***
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 19
Continued from Day 18. You can read it here.
Intelligence Bureau, Delhi
Though Zarqui hadn't mentioned a specific time, Akash presumed that he would be meeting him around five in the evening or later. It was just three, so Akash thought of finishing some work and then leaving.
Akash went through the conversation with Olyint and Sarvi and thought that Zarqui's firing at Sarvi could have been to stun her momentarily. If he intended to kill her, then he wouldn't have shot at her abdomen and her head and left the weapon to synthesize her.
"That's it, Zarqui left the weapon for a reason," Akash tapped on the table.
"Good job that you figured that out," Radhika said.
"You knew that all the while?"
"That was just a comment, baba," Radhika said while placing a couple of photos on the desk. Akash knew that papers and Radhika together meant a reliable observation.
"But did you realize that Zarqui must have tried to stun Sarvi and left the weapon behind so that Olyint could synthesize her back," Akash said.
"I am not buying that unless I know for sure that that weapon was Zarqui's," Radhika said.
"What? You doubt Sarvi's words," Akash was trying to ape how Sarvi said it back at the apartment.
"Ah, sorry. Did that hurt your feelings?" Radhika smiled, "you should have said that."
"Yeah, I should have," Akash smiled back, "listen…"
"No, first you take a look at these pictures," Radhika handed the two enlarged A4 size photos to Akash.
"It's just some haze. Who took these pictures? Such a useless job."
"Okay, now focus on everything other than the haze. Can you guess where these pictures were taken?"
Akash looked hard. One was easy. It was the ground-floor of the IB office while the other one was a bit tough. He hadn't seen the place, but he was pretty sure that the thing in the background was similar to the pictures of the hopper that he had seen earlier.
"This is the IB office. This…..," Akash pointed to the second photo, "I am not sure, but I presume that thing in the background is the hopper."
"Not bad. I took the time and date of Zarqui's sighting that either you mentioned or places we suspected of him to have gone. I then ran an analysis of all CCTVs around that location."
"So, this one is the morning meeting?"
"Mr Smart, I am not so fast that I could get the CCTV footage from today morning analyzed so soon. This is from the last time Zarqui was here to meet all of us. The CCTV captured him leaving."
"So, that haze is Zarqui. We arrived at the blurry picture by slowing down and putting multiple frames together."
"That's how Zarqui appears at his top speed, huh?"
"Yes," Radhika said, "and this photo is at the IAF base. You got the hopper thing right. Now, the IAF cameras were a lot better ones for obvious reasons. Now, what do you see after knowing the background?"
"That Zarqui's shape is much better visible in this photo," Akash offered his hilarious explanation.
"Okay, now keep them side-by-side, and what do you see?"
"The photo taken at IB makes Zarqui appear a bit bigger and broader," Akash looked at Radhika, "could be the cameras, because the IAF one makes him look sleeker. That's all that is visible."
"Awesome. I then checked the cameras themselves. Both are the same make but only a greater number at the IAF base."
"Oh, so it's not the camera's clarity, but the number of cameras allowing us to capture the half-frames," Akash summed up.
"Exactly. Now, did you see any change in Zarqui's health the first time we met him here and yesterday when you met him at Buddh circuit?"
"None. He is the same," Akash turned in his chair, "I think he has gained some pounds with all that Coke."
"Hmm. Good," Radhika picked up the photos and turned to leave.
"Hello, Madam Intelligent horns," Akash called out, "what did you conclude?"
"That Zarqui was indeed right. It was not him at the IAF base."
"Wait, wait, you mean, he is not a suspect anymore?"
"I think so," Radhika said.
"But then today evening," Akash was puzzled, "do I get him or not?"
"Well, you got the cool-drinks, you stopped at the medical store, so why waste it?" Radhika stood at the door, "get him but don't hand him over to Olyint or Sarvi. We need to talk to him on our own terms."
"Awesome," Akash said, "feel like we have things under control."
"I believe so."
"Carrying Zarqui after he loses consciousness," Akash laughed, "that guy would certainly weigh a ton."
Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Zarqui managed to call Akash and asked him to come to the Buddh International circuit. Akash reached the course well in advance to race his Hexa around the track. Admittedly, such opportunities wouldn't present themselves too often, so he made the most of it. He had never tested his Hexa for the fastest it could go and that he did this time on the long straight between turn three and four. The Hexa reached 195 kmph and yet appeared firmly grounded. The corners were what bothered the Hexa.
Akash felt that he was losing the plot. An alien lady was shot by a suspected alien guy whom Akash was on his way to meet, and yet, he took time off to race his Hexa. It wasn't a great example of mixing work with fun. The guilt notwithstanding, Akash raced anyway.
About ten minutes before the scheduled time, Akash went towards the start-finish line for the sixth and last time. While he enjoyed the thrill, he couldn't help but wonder how those Arlenians found money to buy things. Some of the items were mighty expensive like the gown and shoes that Sarvi wore or even the cool-drinks that Zarqui found so easy to get. Besides, Akash figured out that the number Zarqui used to call him belonged to some old Public Call Office (PCO). He was hoping that they had not resorted to stealing, which was the only explanation Akash had. Anyway, no one had complained of things being stolen, and he hoped that it stayed that way after the lockdown.
Akash once again was standing at the start-finish line and loved the feeling. He could relate to the thrill that an F1 driver would be feeling driving a car that could speak with the wind. Sad that he would not see Michael Schumacher in action.
"Keep fighting, Michael," Akash said loud enough for anyone close by to hear.
"Who is Michael?" Zarqui had arrived.
"One of the greatest Formula 1 racer to have graced the sport," Akash said.
"Hmm. I sense him," Zarqui mind-jagged to find the reference, "and I understand the 'keep fighting' part."
"Talking of which, why did you fight with Sarvi?" Akash was point-blank, "not only fight but desynthesized her."
"What are you talking about?"
"You know it, don't you? Akash did not concede.
"I need answers, not questions."
"Sarvi was desynthesized by your weapon. Twice."
"Not possible," Zarqui maintained eye contact, "When I landed on Earth, I only had one weapon with one shot in it. I fired that at Olyint, right in front of your eyes at the CBI enclosure."
"Yeah, that. Why did you fire at him?"
"First tell me about Sarvi," Zarqui insisted, "is she fine?"
"She is," Akash was somehow expecting Zarqui to have a good defence and he did have one, "she was shot with a weapon twice, and she identified the shooter as you."
"Sarvi said that?"
"Not only said but defended her statement. She was one hundred percent sure that it was you." Akash was surprised that Zarqui wasn't concerned or confused. He just smiled to himself. Akash thought it was a good time to give him the drink.
"And what about the weapon?" Zarqui was amused.
"Well, we thought it was yours," Akash took the Coke bottles from his bag. "But as per you it is not. Anyway, you left without having the drink in the morning."
"You come here thinking that I was a culprit and yet you offer me a drink. That's a contrasting behaviour."
"Well, to make culprits own up their faults, we try to befriend them, and then get them talking," Akash improvised.
"Hmm. Peculiar habit." Zarqui accepted the drink and two more bottles along with it.
"You didn't answer me. Why did you fire at Olyint?"
"By now even you know that our weapons do not kill unless fired thrice," Zarqui in his customary fashion gulped down the Coke in seconds, "Olyint that day had frozen me, and one of your people distracted him in the other room. I wanted to ensure that he did not get the chance to stop me again."
"So, you fired at him."
"Obviously. I came there to talk, but he chose to stop me," Zarqui had finished the second bottle too.
"But what about Sarvi? She did not do anything, now, did she?"
"Hmm. So, she confirmed that there were no more hoppers that landed on Earth."
"Yes, she did, and I already told you that."
"Okay, then here are some things that I found out," Zarqui's speech was failing him, and the third bottle was also over. "Olyint has nothing to do with this."
That caught Akash's attention. For someone who had doubted Olyint for so long, giving him a clean chit was surprising. "What?"
"Olyint was clean. I should have trusted him earlier."
Akash wasn't sure if Zarqui meant what he said or if it was the sedatives in his drink which were acting up. "What made you come to that conclusion?"
"You know why we like this drink? You never asked me."
"I will ask you later. First, tell me about Olyint."
"No, let's talk about the drink."
Akash felt that the drink had indeed taken effect, and Zarqui was not in his senses. So, he played along, "okay, tell me about the drink."
"You see, we are carbon-based life forms like you, but unlike you, our blood also has a high concentration of carbon," Zarqui babbled.
"Hmm. Hm." Akash just waited for Zarqui to lose consciousness.
"Human blood, on the other hand, has a high amount of iron," Zarqui was finding it difficult to keep his eyes open. "That's why your blood is red in colour while ours is black."
With Zarqui's words, Akash went back to Sarvi's apartment. He had indeed seen black smudges on the floor. It was Sarvi's blood. So, Zarqui was in his senses. Zarqui leaned on Akash's car and was down on his knees.
"For you, that Coke is just a drink, but for us, that carbonated drink is food," Zarqui's eyes closed and Akash held is shoulder to break his fall if need be. "and tasty food."
"Zarqui, tell me about Olyint," Akash prodded.
"Ahhh, Olyint," Zarqui went silent. Akash was struggling to hold his weight and prevent him from falling on his face, "I thought he was the culprit, but he was not."
"Then who was it?"
"He… was.." Zarqui was out cold. He was lying face down on the track. If not for Akash, he could have had a bloody nose. A black, bloody nose. Akash thought he would inform Radhika who wasn't far from the Buddh circuit.
"Hey, Radhika. I've got Zarqui, but I need help to carry him," Akash nodded as if to agree with something that Radhika said, "okay, I will wait." He then switched off and put his Galaxy Fold on the seat. Another grouse that he had. The Hexa, his priced possession, did not have a holder for his Samsung phone, which was his another priced possession. But he still loved it, and it did a 195 kmph run on the straight.
"May we help you getting Zarqui up?" It was Sarvi. Akash was least expecting her.
"Sarvi," Akash instantly knew that he should have met Zarqui at some other place, "what are you doing here?"
"I thought you would require our help."
"Olyint," Akash then remembered what they said in the morning, "oh, so this was your plan to get Zarqui."
"Indeed, and you would understand why we couldn't tell you," Olyint confessed.
"Whatever was your plan, I think you should allow me to take Zarqui," Akash stood between Zarqui lying on the track and Sarvi.
"Pace-back, law upholder," Sarvi said with the same ferocity that she did the first time they met.
"Nice to meet an unknown Arlenian," Akash looked at Sarvi. "Olyint he probably knows the culprit. He said that you were clean. I should have allowed him to speak. I regret giving him the drink too early."
"What do you think his conclusion would be, Akash?" Olyint walked towards Zarqui and placed his hand on his temple, "he just said what we knew all along."
"That Zarqui is the culprit," Sarvi added.
"And you think, he came all this way to tell me that," Akash was flabbergasted. He knows something more.
"That's great. So, he will tell us everything in Arlenium," Olyint said.
"Not so fast. He has to tell us still where the weapon is," Akash held his hand in front of Sarvi who was walking towards Zarqui. By then, he also saw few Innovas approaching, and he felt that he had some backing. He thought that Radhika was doing an excellent job of entering near the end as in the Bollywood movies.
"You are impeding us for no reason, Akash," Olyint said, "you know by now that even if the weapon stays on the planet, it would be of no consequence once we are out of range." By that time, Radhika had got down and was next to Akash.
"They were also here?" Radhika looked at Akash, "you never told me." Akash gave a low down of what had happened till then, and Radhika raised her hands in the air.
"Olyint, come on. What kind of solution is that? You get out of range, and we would be safe," Radhika protested, "if one Zarqui, or whoever is the culprit, could cause this much trouble, how safe we would be in the future?"
"The decision is made, Radhika. So stand back," Sarvi ordered.
"No, pace-back this time?" Akash was serious. He turned to Olyint, "look, Radhika for some reason carried this impression that you were a gentleman and I had started to agree. So, be a gentleman and let us complete this investigation."
"Come on, Olyint. Give us some credit. An elder whom you couldn't capture, we did on our own," Radhika said.
Olyint turned to Sarvi and spoke for a while. Akash smiled at Radhika, "welcome cavalry."
"Alright, here it is. Let's carry on with the investigations, but we will not let him out of our sight," Olyint said, "and that is non-negotiable."
"Done," Radhika was more than happy to comply. They would have needed Olyint's help to restrict Zarqui when he came to senses. So an absolute win-win.
"Now, help me get this giant up," Akash said tugging at Zarqui.
Image Courtesy: Pixabay