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GOD of a man

Eternity Versus Eternity

 

“Insistence is the sign of belonging, persistence the sign of commitment.”

 

Chapter Thirty Two: The year of leap

Dated: 1st January – 29th February, 2460

 

It’s not that a businessman isn’t aware of the consequences his trade holds for a society. It’s just that his greed manipulates his will, turning him ignorant towards the interests of the community. Smoking might have taken many lives, and destroyed many more even before they were born, but did it ever deter the cigarette manufacturers from marketing their poison even more vigorously? They in fact lobbied to get either more favourable or less damaging legislations. Did the liquor barons never know how alcohol destroys families and lives? Did the drug manufacturers and dealers not know how their produce would hollow out the future of their societies? Did the politicians not know how their decisions will affect the future of the very people who had elected them to their offices? Even if a man of true wisdom showed the entire world community a clear picture of things to come, this greed, instead of mending its’ ways and doing the right thing, will choose to find more failsafe methods of doing the wrong thing.

 

However, if a heart is pure and intentions true, the bearer of the torch will continue his march through the dark streets of ignorance, lighting every lamp dotting his path. He may never stop for a rest, but the path he will leave behind would be well lit for the future to follow. Persistence reflects commitment, and commitment reflects belief. Belief reflects honesty, and honesty reflects love! Pure are the hearts that follow the directions of their love. And with love comes a sense of belonging and an insistence in claim. Honesty in emotions can never be faked, for fake can never have the intensity. And what is intense can often be scary for the weak hearted. Love is not for the weak!

 

It is love which motivates a patriot to sacrifice his family and self for the cause of his nation. It is love which motivates an enlightened soul to endure the hatred of his peers, yet speak the truth that holds the seeds of the future. It is love which motivates to let go your loved ones when holding on to them would hurt them, and leaving them would destroy your heart. And it is love which will be tested in New Saisho.

 

The night had fallen but the warehouse that should have been deserted by now was still well lit, the light jumping out of its’ dilapidated windows as if milk was spilling out of a punctured container. Inside a soldier stood in attention as his senior marched up and down the big hall, his face grim. The tense room finally saw a fresh face. A soldier marched in and saluted his senior most officer first, and then the second officer in the room.

 

“What’s the news orderly,” Admiral asked.

 

“Sir, Captain Bradley’s team was ambushed,” the soldier informed his senior, “We just managed a radio contact and have been informed two of Captain’s team are down, while three criminals have been shot dead.”

 

“What? Is Captain Bradley alright?” possibly for the first time in his life, Aman was concerned for Bradley.

 

“Captain is fine,” the soldier replied, “It was he who actually managed to contact the base and inform us that Colonel Davison and his team is the rotten bunch, and on the run now.”

 

“What, two men have been lost?” Admiral was in a shock and took his time to react. He lamented, “Bradley was indeed correct in his assessment last night!” He then dismissed his orderly for the night. He then looked at Aman and asked, “So you are indeed concerned about Bradley!”

 

“Well, he is an army man,” Aman put forward a weak face saving explanation.

 

“But you are not concerned about the two men who are dead,” Admiral pointed out.

 

“I mean, he is,” Aman fumbled as he spoke, for the words that wanted to come out of his mouth, he had never ever told those to himself.

 

“He is your brother, isn’t he?” Admiral Mir completed the sentence for him as he stared blankly. It was as if he had been caught in an act he didn’t want the world to know.

 

An individual is nothing more than a bunch of chemicals stored in his brain and making up his memories. Every person, every relationship, everything a human being is aware of, is just a chemical compound stored inside one of the many folds of his brain. It won’t be wrong to say; every human being lives many lives at the same time, one in his own brain, and the rest in the minds of those who know him. In fact, if a mind were to lose the distinction between what memories define its’ body as an individual, it is possible the brain might take up the personality and life of an entirely different person as its’ own, like someone it has known well enough. This is the reason why some people never die, for they continue to live in the memories of those who remember them. The greater your glory, the longer and more you will be remembered, and longer will be your life. Perhaps the memories you leave behind are much more important than the memories you gather and live with.

 

It was hard to say if the blanket of darkness that covered the well lit front yard of the Grey House was thicker, or the sadness that covered the heart of the master of the house. The first lady was lost, playing with her only son with gay abandon, oblivious to the future waiting quietly in the dark beyond their fence. Her giggles and her son’s infectious laughter were tearing apart the President’s heart piece by piece as he stood in the balcony, suffocated by his own knowledge of the future.

 

“Isn’t that cute,” Anne asked him, softly, her efforts in holding the flood gates of emotions under strict check, hard to be missed.

 

“Isn’t it a shame, I can’t tell my wife my biggest secret,” President asked her, then turned around and lamented, “What kind of a criminal am I, I have shut her out of the decision about the future of her own son?”

 

“No, you are not a criminal,” Anne exclaimed, breaking down piece by piece herself, “You have no choice, and she needs not to suffer the pain any more than what we cannot stop the destiny from forcing upon her.”

 

“Destiny,” President smirked, as if chiding it, “There is no such thing as destiny Anne. Destiny is for those who don’t have the guts to make their own future, but want someone else to do their work for them, or take the blame for their own mistakes and choices. Destiny is for those who rush into the battlefield with their eyes shut. Destiny is for those who never had it in them to build their own dreams with their own hands.”

 

“But why then is it me who carries the burden of pain?” Anne cried, albeit quietly so as not to attract her aunt’s attention.

 

“It’s you for you are the right person to build the future from scratch, not me, for I have already lived my life and have nothing more to offer,” President replied, “It is you for nobody else in this society worked hard enough to develop the abilities that you posses today, to reach the position that you are in today, or to be in a position to make this decision like I have today. Everybody is living the choices they made. It is not destiny Anne, but our choices so far, that we stand today where we do, each one headed in a different direction.”

 

“I have never seen grown men cry like babies my entire life,” Anne exclaimed as she lowered her face into her palms, “It’s hard to see them break piece by piece everyday as they live the last few days with some of the closest of their family, not sure if they know their selves anymore, leave alone those they will leave behind forever. This lie is taking their lives without killing them. These scars, oh these scars!”

 

“These scars will last you forever, and these scars will determine the future of humanity,” President replied as he stepped up to Anne and held her to his heart, “Remember Anne, past should give you pride, future is what you should live for, and present is what you should always cherish. Today they have their families, tomorrow they will only have their memories, but day after is what they need to prepare for.”

 

Future is like the next page of a notebook, bearing the imprint of what had been written on the previous page, but what can easily be rendered incomprehensible by new writing. Previous writing cannot control what can be written in the future, and future writing cannot change what had already been written. But of the two, only future writing can alter the context, thence the meaning of the past.

 

It had been over seven weeks of maddening search as Admiral Mir Abdullah pitched in the best of his men, to try and weed out the rotten. But all the efforts had yielded so far was a naught. Admiral had a big problem at hand. He had an enemy from amongst his own ranks on the loose, and at stake was much more than anyone could imagine or he could tell.

 

“Sir,” Captain Aman Ahluwalia saluted his senior as he entered his room, “Entire New Saisho has been combed all over again, but no sign of Colonel Davison or his men yet. Even Granger and Norman, the priests from ‘House of Faith’ are missing now.”

 

“Where the hell did they go?” Admiral couldn’t hold his frustration anymore as he dropped a heavy fist on his table, “Have they found a magic trick to make them invisible?”

 

“Sir, I firmly believe they are in there, the ‘Peacock on the Hill’ area of New Saisho,” Aman replied, “Why don’t you just give me permission to comb that area.”

 

“How many times do I have to tell you, no, I can’t?” Admiral retorted, “It is too dangerous and I don’t want to risk you, especially at this stage.”

 

“Stage of what Sir,” Aman, like Bradley was still unaware of what was happening behind the scenes, “Sir, you are hiding something from us.”

 

“You will be informed when the time is right,” Admiral quipped, “Right now what should concern you is how to stop Colonel Davison and his goons from possibly sabotaging that same very important mission that you and Bradley are going to be an important integral part of.”

 

“Sir, I don’t know what mission you have enlisted me and Bradley for that you are so concerned about, but all I know is that Colonel Davison and his men are definitely holed up somewhere inside that region of New Saisho where you won’t let me venture,” Aman replied.

 

“But that region is so unpredictable, hiding there is akin to putting your head in a lion’s mouth and hoping he won’t close it anytime soon,” Admiral confronted Aman’s assertion, “An open invitation to death, unless you have the data for all the events expected within a millisecond error range.”

 

“Maybe they have access to such data,” Aman’s assertion flashed like an enlightening bolt inside Admiral’s head. He realized what must have been happening.

 

“Where’s Bradley?” Admiral asked.

 

When an enemy usurps peace and then fails to destroy a valiant warrior, there can only be one course for the future thereon. The enemy may as well then wait for the inevitable!

 

There is none lonelier than a warrior who’s lost his tribe in a battle, and barren desert is not the best place to face self. Bradley stood on one foot, reclined to the side of his vehicle using his other foot as a support; his thoughts had wandered much further away than his gaze. He then looked at his hand again. His entire arm, and not just his thumb, had a strange dark reddish tinge to it now, which would turn to greyish black whenever and wherever he would press it. He had been trying hard to get in touch with Suzanne and Xavier, but in vain. The hospital staff could only tell him that the two had been called up for an emergency Government assignment.

 

As Bradley was lost in his thoughts a soldier rushed to him panting, and briefed him, “Sir, no one here!”

 

Bradley took a deep breath and nodded, “Back to New Saisho!”

 

Knowing is not the same as understanding. Even a gunsmith knows how to fire a gun, but to lead an army to a victory still needs a soldier at the helm.

 

The clock was just about to tick over to the last day of the leap February, and the corridors of National Space Research Institute were sparsely lit. It was strange when everybody except for research fellow Jhiang Chu had left, the sound of vigorous printing would fill the air. Jhiang was immediately suspicious of the activity and tip-toed his way to the room from where the sound was originating.

 

“Sir, what are you doing here?” to his surprise it was his senior and department head Doctor Jonathan Yardley.

 

Caught in his act, Doctor Yardley nearly jumped out of his seat before regaining his composure and fumbling out, “You are still here?”

 

“Me and Reddy had been busy all day fixing the gravity and heat sensors to the advance warning automated crafts. We just finished an hour ago, and I just dropped by to pick up some important papers from my room,” Jhiang replied as he casually glanced at the papers his senior was printing, “Is that the data for the space tear occurrences for New Saisho?”

 

“Advance warning automated crafts, what are they?” Doctor Jonathan was aware of the nature and purpose of the leading crafts, but tried to divert Jhiang’s attention and skirt his question.

 

“They are the small hydrogen fuelled crafts that will lead the mission every time we will be required to cross a space tear, just to ensure the space on the other side is safe. Else it will be hard to know when a space tear will lead the mother ship right next to a smouldering super giant or a rocky mass,” Jhiang replied as he stepped closer and grabbed a few printouts to have a look, “Sir, are you trying to figure out a way to avoid the catastrophe.”

 

An unsuspecting Jhiang had unwittingly handed Doctor Yardley an escape route that he immediately latched on to, “Jhiang, my son, I know I am old and possibly don’t have many more years to live, but there will be a lot of kids and families that will be left behind. As a scientist I owe a moral responsibility to our society, to work to the best of my abilities and try to find a way out of the crisis.”

 

“I know Sir,” Jhiang, the gentle hearted soul that he was, couldn’t hold his tears. “I can’t even take my late friend Hameed’s family with me,” he continued, “But you know it very well Sir, we have cross checked the data so many times, and nothing has yet happened contrary to any of our predictions so far.”

 

“But what if the space tears don’t destroy earth, but rather transport it as a whole to the other universe?” Doctor Yardley asked.

 

“That is impossible Sir, simply because the events are not all going to happen at exactly the same time,” Jhiang explained, “There will be seconds to hours of gaps between the consecutive events, thus ensuring that earth will be eaten away bit by bit. Even a millisecond gap between two successive events will chuck pieces of earth to entirely different locations in the other universe.” Jhiang’s reply dried down Doctor Yardley’s throat as he drowned a couple of glasses of water. Jhiang continued after a brief pause, “Even if we are to suppose for a moment, somehow after the initial few events, the rest occur simultaneously, or a huge event occurs that transports the entire remaining Earth to the other universe, it would still become inhospitable. It would either end up as a super cold ghostly dark planet, lost somewhere in inter-galactic space, or even within a galaxy but without a star, or too close or too far from a star. The chances of earth being teleported to another universe and still finding itself within the habitable zone of a star are remote to non-existent.”

 

There was a brief silence in the room. Finally Doctor Yardley started collecting the papers and said, “We may have no chance of survival, but that doesn’t mean I should quit my job. I will still try my best to find a way out. Goodnight son!” And he walked away.

 

Problem is not that one shouldn’t take care of their own interests first. Problem arises when those personal interests are given precedence over the interests of the majority. Even when the evil few realize how promoting their selves will weaken the community, they still push ahead with it. And for every good man fighting to save the community, there are ten others working against him, even when they realize how his work is paramount. They have their own petty interests that they put ahead of their communities. Well meaning warriors are always lonely for others won’t support them from behind. Stab in the back, yes they do!

 

‘Peacock on the hill’ was a rapidly shrinking physical realm on earth. Large chunks of it had already been removed by the cadaver feeding act of the replacement universe. The houses that once stood majestically, making their dwellers proud of their property, all lie dilapidated to varying extents. There was no soul to be seen in the area, except for a few who had made one obscure property their lair.

 

“So they have retrieved all the fissionable material from the weapons, and stabilized it along with whatever material our scientists had harvested using our crude technology,” Mrs Gabriella Downing was briefing Colonel Davison and his team about the progress made with the mother ship, “I don’t have all the details but the information I have been able to retrieve so far suggests that the material is sufficient to sustain humans in space for the next thirty years.”

 

“What happens post thirty years?” Colonel asked.

 

“The plan is to either find a new home for humanity before that time,” Mrs Downing replied, “Or use the implements being provided with the craft, to harvest fissionable material from heavenly bodies like stray rocks and asteroids. There is mining equipment too in case the craft is able to land on another planet. Whatever crude enrichment technology we have, is also provided.”

 

“What’s the name of the spacecraft?” Viper asked.

 

“How does that matter?” Sepoy Eighty Three questioned him.

 

“I was just asking as to what our new home will be called,” Viper replied.

 

“Call it a hooker,” Sepoy quipped.

 

“You two, will you stop bickering,” Colonel interrupted.

 

“I don’t know the name of the mission, for it is highly classified,” Mrs Downing replied.

 

“Do you know the location where it is being readied?” Colonel asked the only relevant question.

 

“I am not hundred percent sure, but there is one underground facility just outside the town which is possibly the only safe location in New Saisho,” Mrs Downing replied, “However what I do know is, the mission is not heavily guarded.”

 

“Are they not overconfident idiots?” Viper laughed.

 

“It is probably not heavily guarded, firstly, so as to not attract anyone’s attention,” Sepoy replied to his query, “Secondly, there are only a limited number of spaces available on the craft, much of which will already be booked for members of various scientific communities. They can only take a few soldiers on-board, and those would be the only ones’ guarding it.”

 

“Sepoy is right,” Colonel affirmed his wisdom just as a guest arrived at their hide-out. “There’s the Doctor,” Colonel quipped.

 

“What’s up friends,” Doctor Yardley gave them all a collective wave and pushed a heavy envelope towards Sepoy, “Here’s the last batch of data for this area, till twenty fourth of March. Boy, was I really caught this time, that too by my own protégée?”

 

“What happened?” Sepoy was immediately keen on the information.

 

“Nothing,” Doctor Yardley replied, shrugging off any concerns, “Just one of my juniors at the institute, Jhiang Chu, the one who’s developed the software for predicting these events, he caught me printing these. But its’ alright! I convinced him, it is my undying love for humanity that I am still putting last ditch efforts to save the world. Poor bloke; was crying that he wouldn’t be able to save his late best friend’s family!” And the Doctor burst out in a twisted laughter, “He thinks he’s going to make it with his wife.”

 

“You need to be very careful now,” Colonel said, “They are already after Granger and Norman. We already have two extras to fend for. Another soul will be too heavy a burden on our rations, and we might have to relieve it of its’ earthly abode.” Colonel words shut up the Doctor in a flash as his smile was replaced by a frown. At this very moment Doctor Yardley’s mobile phone rang.

 

“What the hell!” Sepoy exclaimed furiously, “You didn’t shut your damn thing before bringing your filthy sack around?”

 

“Relax Sepoy,” Colonel tried his best to hide his displeasure, “Who is it?”

 

By now the Doctor was already shaking in his trousers. “I don’t know,” he fumbled in his speech, “I have never known this number.” And he held out his phone for Viper to see, who was standing right next to him.

 

“That’s from the damn base,” Viper yelled, “You are dead old man! You have given away our location.”

 

“Keep calm will you,” Colonel yelled at his man, “Answer it now, but on loudspeaker, so we can hear who it is and what it is about.”

 

“Yes!” Doctor nodded his head in agreement as he answered the phone and put it on loudspeaker, his hands trembling with fear.

 

“Hello Doctor, this is Captain Aman Ahluwalia calling from the Army Headquarters. We need to talk,” Aman’s voice boomed in the closed confines, “Today!”

 

“What is it about?” Doctor gulped down a big lump before answering in a weak shaking voice.

 

“It’s about you,” Aman’s tone was really strict, “We have been informed by one of your researchers that you have collected data for the space events predicted to occur on Earth in the coming few days. We need that data and also the reason why you have taken that data.”

 

“But I just destroyed that data,” Doctor tried to get out of the trouble, “I just burnt the print-outs.”

 

“You did what?” Aman roared, “Now you are in trouble. I want you here in my office at sixteen hundred hours sharp. You may bring a lawyer along, but I will still ask the questions the way I prefer to in such circumstances. Show me your face or be prepared to face it in your hands.” And Aman disconnected the call.

 

“Now what does that suppose to mean?” Doctor looked at Colonel, but there was no time for an answer. A single shot to his head dropped him with a thud. The event sent shivers down Mrs Downing, Granger and Norman’s spine, who all looked on at Sepoy Eighty Three meekly.

 

Sepoy stepped closer to Mrs Downing, his loaded and silenced gun still in his hand, “Now Mrs Downing, where did you say that spaceship is located?”

 

“Take it easy boy,” Colonel motioned to his man, “Mrs Downing is our good friend and she will lead us to the ship right now.”

 

“But isn’t it too early?” Viper was perplexed.

 

“It indeed is,” Colonel replied, “But we have no time left. The army will swoop down on this area in no time now. We need to get moving right away.”

 

“But how are we going to hold the ship?” Mrs Downing asked.

 

“Don’t worry about the ship Mrs Downing. Just take us there,” Colonel replied, “Once the ship is in our control, there is nothing President or Admiral will be able to do, for if this is the only escape vehicle for humanity, even they wouldn’t like it to be damaged or destroyed at the last moment.”

 

“But will they bargain with us?” Mrs Downing asked.

 

“They sure will,” Colonel replied, “You see Mrs Downing, honest well meaning people are very predictable in their reactions. The moment I will offer to take on-board the entire team selected by the President, along with his niece and son, he will have little hesitation in letting us get away with a few replacements in the army department.”

 

“What if they mount a salvage mission?” Mrs Downing still had her reservations.

 

“The fact that they cannot divulge the details to a larger group of men for fear of a rebellion, will work to our advantage,” Colonel replied, “However, just to ensure our interests further and engage their units, Granger and Norman, I want you two to get in touch with the handful of your die-hard supporters and tell them their world is going to end soon and that the Government has planned to save only a few, leaving the rest to die.”

 

“How will that help us?” Granger asked.

 

“It will instigate public furore, and you can then lead them to the army base,” Colonel quickly explained, “It will pin down the army and create a trouble big enough for the Government to handle. And who knows, the army might itself revolt. Selfishness is the most potent weapon when used intelligently!”

 

“And what about us, you are not going to leave us there, are you?” Norman asked.

 

“I will send one of my men to retrieve you from the scene once the trouble has started,” Colonel replied, “However there is one thing I am still worried about. Admiral still has two highly effective weapons in his arsenal, and we need to take care of them beforehand.”

 

“And what’s that?” Mrs Downing asked.

 

“It’s Captain Aman Ahluwalia and Captain Bradley Connors,” Sepoy replied on his senior’s behalf.

 

“How much water do two greenhorns hold in the face of experience?” Mrs Downing quipped.

 

“They both are capable of mounting a salvage mission on their own. Together they will be unstoppable,” Sepoy put things in perspective. Everybody in the room fell silent.

 

After a long thought Colonel finally forwarded the next course of action, “So this is what we are going to do; Mrs Downing will lead me to the facility housing the craft and I will overrun the premises to take command of the venue.” He then looked at Viper and Eighty Three, “I don’t want any trouble this time. So you go with Viper and get their mother, her step-daughter, and Aman’s fiancée Jenny.”

 

 

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