God Of a Man
Across Two Eternities
“Hindsight is free of baggage aware of result, foresight chained to desperation forced to speculate.”
Chapter Seventeen: Tell me a story
Dated: 18th April – 22nd April, 2461
Decisions are made in real time, even when they are about situations that will transpire in some distant future. There is a background of known circumstances, and a plethora of probabilities ahead, that one has to consider. Wise will always try to restrict the range of probabilities to those they desire, make a decision which would sow the seeds for an intended future, and then try every possible means to restrict the flow of events along that intended direction. What the wise however will always fail to fully account for, is the inherent unpredictability of everybody else who will be crossing their way, with desires different than theirs. No doubt they would have accounted for most of those scenarios within an expected range of error. But it is the expected error itself, which adds many more probabilities into the mix than the wise had originally accounted for. This is because when they first accounted, they hadn’t made that initial decision.
However, hindsight is not the best way to analyse past, for it may understand the pressures of that time bygone, but it cannot feel their influence the way those in the middle would have. No one likes to make a bad decision, yet bad decisions are made! It is never the intention or intelligence of the protagonist that is the real determinant. Rather it is the pressure of the circumstances that provides constraints.
Great are leaders who know how to handle pressure and make the right choices. It is however another matter, a distant future will invariably find flaws in their best decisions whose results didn’t go according to their desires. Rear Admiral Gurubaan Ahluwalia and Commander-in-Chief Anne De Villiers both know this. Hence neither could be expected to question either’s choices.
Men are made of stone, not meant to cry! A father-son bond however is an exception to that rule, for it is always special. In fact, it is so special that even years of military training can sometimes fail to keep the restraints on.
“Bradley,” a poignant Rear Admiral cried out at the very first sight of his long lost son, for Bradley wasn’t just an adopted son. Rather he meant a lot more to the decorated soldier than his words might have ever mentioned to anyone.
“Father,” cried out Bradley as he gave a weak salute, overcome by emotions, “You recognize me!”
“Of course I do,” exclaimed Gurubaan, almost as if complaining that Bradley first thought of giving a salute to the army officer in front, rather than rush to give his father a hug, “What kind of a man wouldn’t recognize his son, just because a minor incident has changed his appearance?” And the duo rushed ahead to give each other a warm hug, moistening every eye on the deck.
“I thought I had lost you,” Bradley finally exclaimed as the duo broke the blissful embrace.
“But I never for a moment thought I wouldn’t find you again,” exclaimed a proud Rear Admiral, “Look at you; a true replica of my brother Shaun, you look every inch like him, the day we passed out of the academy.” He then wiped his tears before continuing, “Your father was never just a friend my boy, he was my brother, right from the day we were born in the same hospital, to the moment he looked at my face for the last time, as he lay there on that stretcher. He didn’t just leave me with a one week old treasure to take care of, but he left me with a piece of himself, to be a piece of him in my life forever. I would never be able to forgive myself if something was to happen to you.”
“Wouldn’t you ask about Aman?” an emotional Bradley asked.
“He’ll be alright,” Rear Admiral quipped defiantly, “If you are alright, I am sure he is alright too.”
“He is,” replied Bradley as he wiped his tears.
“Sir, should we initiate contact with the mother-ship,” finally Engineer Dodd thought it was time to remind everyone of the job that was still at hand, for uncertainty lingering for too long wasn’t in anyone’s best interest.
“Yes of course,” Rear Admiral quipped wiping his own tears. He then looked at Bradley and asked, “What frequency are you communicating at these days? We’ve tried a lot to get to you at the frequency that was recorded in official notes we retrieved from the space library.”
“We intentionally switched that frequency off,” Bradley replied, “Commander-in-chief of the mission Miss Anne De Villiers, her second in command Mr Charles Harrison, and I, we decided to switch that frequency off in order to avoid picking up any distress signals from our earth. Our crew was not in a mental state where we could have risked such a scenario, for there was nothing in our power that would have altered earth’s fate at that time, and neither did we have the largesse to miss even a single space gate.”
“Probably the best decision too in those circumstance, I agree,” Rear Admiral quipped shaking his head in acknowledgment, “So how do we contact your mother-ship now?”
“Depends on whether you want to address the entire fleet,” Bradley replied, “Or just want to contact Miss De Villiers onboard NSSS ‘Eternity’!”
Experience helps in determining precautionary measures that should be in place from the outset. Of course no such list can ever be exhaustive, for experience is always cumulative. But the starting point always has to be what has already been covered!
“Would you like me to have a look?” Aman asked Captain Davis, unaware that his father was having a conversation with Miss De Villiers on the independent channel, “It’s been a while since ‘Firestorm’ docked with that alien ship.”
“Hold on Captain,” Chris replied as he turned around and looked at Anne for instructions.
Anne meanwhile had just about finished her long conversation with the Rear Admiral. She gestured to Chris to pause for a second while she switched communication channels on the screen in front of her, “Captain Ahluwalia, you are about to receive a set of instructions in less than a minute. Please wait for them!”
“What’s happening,” a confused Aman asked, “What’s wrong? Why is nobody giving me the details?” He however didn’t have to wait any longer, for barely had he uttered those words that his communication channel beamed a familiar voice that shocked and surprised him.
“NSSS ‘Full Bloom’ calling NSSS ‘Phoenix’,” Rear Admiral Gurubaan Ahluwalia’s voice boomed from the other end, “Captain Aman Ahluwalia, do you copy?”
“Father,” a shocked Aman exclaimed, before he corrected himself and replied, “Captain Aman Ahluwalia receiving the communication loud and clear Sir!”
“Captain Aman Ahluwalia, you are hereby instructed to standby and wait for Captain Connors’ NSSS ‘Firestorm’ to relieve your ship from the duties at the top of the Caravan,” Rear Admiral continued, “As soon as the changeover is complete, your further instructions are to immediately arrive at NSSS ‘Full Bloom’, when I would embark your ship, to then proceed to NSSS ‘Eternity’. Are these instructions clear?”
“Loud and clear Sir,” a loud and exuberant Captain replied.
Every message does not need to be enunciated word by word. Some things are clear by their very apparent appearances.
“Quick Jack, we need to dismantle this solar panel before it gets dark,” Jenny exclaimed as she did her best to make use of the easier light of the fading evening.
“But why are we removing these panels?” Jack asked as he held out a plier for Jenny, and took a wrench from her hand.
“Because if we won’t move them into a shadier place, I am worried the heat might destroy their wiring and structures,” Jenny replied.
“So are we going to move them inside from the yard now,” Jack asked.
“Yes, but not here in our house,” Jenny replied, “We are going to move one of them into the front porch of the property we are readying for our stay, and put the other one safely away inside it, to make sure we have one left if that fire storm ever comes this way and destroys the one we are going to use for now.”
Preparing for the unexpected is always easier when you are preparing for the worst, for then you would have covered up for any other circumstance anyway. But unexpected doesn’t always have to be bad! Good things happen too, and in fact, most of the time it is seldom half as bad as one might have feared.
The caravan of six had travelled on for three days, one more for the faster ships, for they could have only travelled as fast as their slowest one. But it was still close to twenty hours of waiting time that they had to sit around. Luckily, those twenty hours were well spent partying and celebrating the return of their lost. The zing in their steps had increased, and artificial gravity didn’t feel that artificial after all.
“The space tear is about to open,” Jhiang informed everyone.
“Launch the inspection craft,” Anne ordered the launch of their brand new next-generation inspection craft that now served the purpose of establishing safety beyond the space gates.
Everybody waited with baited breaths, a confirmation that the other side was safe, like they had done thus far. Only this time, there was a surprise waiting for them; a surprise they had dreamt of, but not yet expected, at least so quickly.
“What’s that?” Anne asked, a bit excited for she knew what the pictures sent back by the craft meant. However, there was no time to be wasted, for the gate had to be used quickly, so she didn’t wait for a response from anyone, “Proceed without delay!”
In a bit more than a flash, one after the other, all six crafts were through the space gate.
“Wow, I can’t believe,” an excited Anne exclaimed, “Are we in the middle of a new solar system?”
“It looks to be so,” Jhiang replied and then added, “Our systems are detecting three planets in our vicinity. The sun is directly behind us, about five minutes back, while there are two planets in Goldilocks zone, and one just beyond it.”
“I hope these are from our universe,” a wishful Anne exclaimed as Jhiang set on the task of collecting data about the chemical and physical nature of the nearest planet.