God Of a Man
Across Two Eternities
“Fame is not for those who abuse the privilege or relinquish their responsibility, and least of all for morons.”
Chapter Fourteen: Not for the weak
Dated: 18th April, 2461
An exalted status of any form or shape comes with a responsibility. When others look up to you, whatever be your expertise, your personal life becomes an example. You are where you are because you did something right, which others don’t know. So they all look up to you, to see how you do things just so they may get it right as well. They may love you for just one thing that you do right, but that is enough to entitle them to have some learning from you. Your responsibility does not arise out of your status, but out of your conscience to repay the love in kind. And this is why love is different from sexual interest; it does not demand access to your physical body, but it takes its toll on your emotional self.
One may choose to be the cynosure of every eye, or one may have been thrust into that limelight, but everybody enjoys it. Those who don’t, their lives become a sorry state of affairs, and others push them to the back of their minds. Their fame ends soon after they have been absolved of their responsibility, and their familiarity rather becomes a curse, for they can no longer hide in obscurity.
But for those who enjoy being in spotlight, the demand of love on emotions is forever high. They no longer have the right to not make a choice at all, or make a wrong choice. They have to live a life that would help others in ways their work won’t, and if they won’t, their fame would end soon after they relinquish their responsibility, or make a mess of it. This is what the price of fame is, and fame need not be universal. It could only be a position of prominence in a small group. It’s enough that one cannot hide amongst the cattle anymore, for they are the lion. And there are more than one lions on board the caravan of five: Eternity, Infinity, Phoenix, Firestorm and Apache.
“Emergency,” was the chilling one word to escape Jhiang’s lips that brought every activity to a grinding halt across the caravan, “The radar’s picked a fast gaining enemy fleet thirty minutes behind.”
“Initiate NSSS ‘Infinity’ Control-Transfer-Protocols Captain ‘Rocker’ Jean Perry,” Anne, who had based the command onboard NSSS ‘Eternity’, immediately ordered. She then continued to Captain Chris Davis, “Captain Davis, prepare to max the travel speed for the two crafts.” She then immediately turned her attention towards the three attack crafts, “Captain Ahluwalia, you stay on course leading the caravan with NSSS ‘Phoenix’, and Captain Avery, please fall back alongside Captain Connor’s NSSS ‘Firestorm’. NSSS ‘Apache’ would take the rear left flank, while ‘Firestorm’ will keep the rear right flank.” She finally turned back to Jhiang, “How long before we are in their firing range?”
“Twenty eight minutes max at current speed,” Jhiang replied, “Thirty five at full speed.”
“Any change in enemy approach rate expected?” Anne asked.
“Negative,” replied Jhiang, “They are already maxed out on speed.”
Great dangers often bring the best out of people because they make them take risks that they wouldn’t otherwise, while maintaining extremely high degrees of concentration. Normality on the other hand makes people complacent while doing things they know they can. Efficiency thus is enhanced by the demands of the situation!
“Quick, we need to make sure there is no vegetation next to this house, especially dried one,” Jenny exclaimed as she continued axing the only tree left standing in the yard of a big open property she had identified on the block, while Jack shovelled away the leaves and grass.
“Are we going to live here now,” Jack asked her.
“Only in case that solar storm comes close to our planet and scorches things on our world,” Jenny replied, panting from the extensive effort she was putting in under the sun, “And then, if every other house on the block, including ours is scorched.” She then wiped the sweat off her forehead and took a couple of sips of water. She turned back to Jack and asked him, “Are you alright? It is too hot! Make sure you keep drinking your water. We’ll have to remove all woodwork, furniture and clothing from this house next.”
Fighters neither know how to quit, nor when to quit, for when they learn how to fight, they are taught neither. Those who quit are not fighters but rather politicians, who were in it merely to gain something, even if barely an advantage of having attempted.
“How long do we have,” Aman radioed ‘Eternity’.
“Five more minutes and we will be in their firing range,” a visibly distressed Jhiang replied as he desperately gazed at the radar screen in front of him, as if hoping the enemy fleet would vanish merely by his looking at it.
“Damn!” Aman exclaimed, and then continued to Anne, “Commander, are you sure you don’t want me to fall back and take the centre flank?”
“Negative Captain,” Anne replied, “Your job is to escape with whoever is left with you should we all perish.”
“What? I can’t do that,” Aman immediately disagreed.
“That’s an order Captain whether you like it or not,” Anne replied, “There is no way our three crafts can defend us against such a big fleet, and no means on board our two mother ships to defend anyone. So you will have to bear the burden of being the last hopes of humanity should the rest of us fail. And you will have to do it for the sake of any of us that may still be alive anywhere in either of the two universes.”
“You can’t be serious,” a distraught Aman however wasn’t ready to take such an order. He was a soldier, and not a businessman who would balance profit and loss, and then speculate on future. “I refuse to take this order,” Aman replied, “I would have happily died with the rest of the humanity back on earth, and I would happily die here if it is our time today.”
“Don’t be a fool,” Bradley interrupted the conversation, “Stop thinking about what you can sacrifice for everybody, and start thinking about what you can achieve instead.”
“Captain Connors is right,” Captain Daniela Avery, former air-force volunteer and wife of fellow volunteer and fellow economist Captain Steve Avery, the duo flying NSSS ‘Apache’, joined in the conversation too, “We all can die here and let everybody else who might be alive perish as well, or you can make a difference to those who might be alive.”
“That’s the whole point,” Aman replied, “We may already be all alone! Imagine how lonely it would be, especially living with a conscience that would always remember how the solitaire was a personal choice.”
“It is not your choice Captain,” Anne reminded him, “It is my order, backed by the Defence Core Committee majority.”
“You cannot do this to me,” Aman however argued.
“They are right Captain,” Christine, who was getting ready to take charge of the craft for the next shift prior to the declaration of emergency, told her co-pilot, but then added, “However, I am with you, and believe if this is our end, then it should be all of us!”
“Three minutes to vulnerable zone,” Jhiang however interrupted the discussion and reminded everyone of the reality that faced them.
“Oh how I wish we could have made it to that space tear that we were originally supposed to make to today,” Aman rued, “Damn you Norman!”
But something strange happened at that moment, only inside NSSS ‘Phoenix’. A mysterious portal made of light appeared in the middle of the small flight cabin, lighting up everything, and three mysterious figures; one after the other, stepped out of it. Aman and Christine immediately took out their laser weapons and aimed them at their heads.
“Our most respectful greetings to the great warrior from the other earth,” exclaimed the leader of the pack in a language the duo had always understood, as the trio bowed to them, “We are the Tarandile.”
Hardships are like tests and tests are like sieves, meant to separate chaff from grain. Easy are journeys that take none anywhere! Tough are travels that go around to bring one back wiser and matured.
“Eight minutes to the space tear sir,” Antony informed the Rear Admiral.
“What is our projected re-entry point into our universe Chief Engineer?” Rear Admiral asked Marcus.
“Somewhere close to the centre of Milky Way sir,” out came the reply, as Marcus carried out his calculations free of any stress.
Stress however is unavoidable part of existence, for everything needs an effort, and every effort is directed to a result whose controlling variables are not in the hands of the individual. One needs oxygen to breathe, and one breathes to survive. There is no stress as long as there is enough oxygen and one is aware of it. Put a leak and the situation will change faster than the speed of light.
“What do you want?” Aman asked his unwanted arrivals.
“Nothing,” came a cryptic reply, made intriguing by the words that followed, “And everything.”
“I don’t like puzzles, especially those put by people I don’t know,” Aman however replied.
“We the Tarandile, are the only people across hundred known Universes, to posses the technology that can save you and your entire fleet from annihilation today,” the leader of the Tarandile pack continued.
“A hundred known Universes,” a shocked Aman exclaimed.
“Who are these people that you are talking to Captain Ahluwalia,” a concerned Anne’s voice boomed on the communications channel. She then turned to her own ship’s pilot, “Give me the video feed Captain Davis.”
“When you have the technology to teleport across space,” the Tarandile continued, “A universe is just a number.”
“And you want me to believe that,” Aman quipped, almost chiding him.
“Well, we are here, aren’t we?” the Tarandile asked.
“One minute forty five seconds to vulnerable zone,” a panicking Jhiang intervened.
“Perhaps a quick demonstration will help,” the Trandile quipped as he turned towards his companions who both nodded in agreement. “I will open two portals; one here, and one in your Commander’s ship. You can send her whatever you want to through it.” He then looked back at his companions and nodded to give them a go ahead. One of the Tarandile lifted his wrist and tapped some buttons on the wrist band he was wearing. A smaller light portal opened in front of Aman.
“What’s happening,” a surprised Anne asked, “I’ve got a light portal similar to yours in front of me too.”
“Would you like sending your Commander something,” the Tarandile gestured Aman to go ahead and try it.
Aman looked around, but with nothing else to think off his head, pushed his laser gun through the portal, along with his hand.
“I can see your hand and gun in front of me Aman,” Anne replied back.
“Take the gun from my hand,” Aman exclaimed.
“She can give it back to you too, should you want it,” the Tarandile exclaimed as Aman pulled his hand back, his gun having been left behind with Anne. Anne immediately put her hand through the portal and handed Aman a cup she had on her, instead of the laser, just to test it properly.
“It works,” Christine exclaimed in delight.
“Forty five seconds to vulnerable zone,” Jhiang reminded everyone the Damocles’ sword hanging above their heads.
“Do you want us to turn around and intercept the enemy,” Captain Connors immediately asked Anne.
“Negative,” Anne replied back, “Stick to the course. We will retaliate only as the last measure when the enemy would be finally upon us.”
“What do you want?” Aman asked his guests.
“What’s more important is; we can save your entire fleet,” the Tarandile however replied.
“You are not going to do it just like that for fun, are you?” Aman asked in response.
“Of course not,” the sharp Tarandile replied, “You were saying how good it would have been had you not missed the space tear that you are going to miss now.” The Tarandile paced up and down as he addressed Aman, “We can teleport your entire fleet there right away, giving you enough time to make through it comfortably, but there is only one condition.”
“And what’s that,” Aman asked.
“You’ll have to drink our poison,” the Tarandile replied.
“The enemy has fired; two minutes to impact,” was the chilling announcement from Jhiang.