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GOD of a man

Eternity Vs Eternity

 

“Past is a scar, future a choice, but present is life.”

 

Towards hope

Dated: 25th March, 2460

 

Life lives in the moment, moving in step with the time. Every new moment is your present life, and every moment left behind is just a memory. Emotions dwell in the past for emotions feed on memories. Aspirations look towards the future for that’s where hope finds home. Even fear resides in future, for fear is always about what can happen, even if because of what already has. But life is always present in now! And now is when you decide what you want your future to look like. Now you can start designing your future, and then construct a framework based on it with every passing moment. Once the framework is ready, you can complete the construction and the future will become your present. And all this while what you had been doing will become your past, a past you can cherish and feel proud of.

 

No, you cannot change what has happened with your life before this moment that you breathed in. Was it sad? Was it disgraceful? Does it matter as to what your future can look like? Should you waste another moment dwelling on it then? What hurt you then will hurt you now, but only if you will let it to. You cannot change what has already happened, but should you remember it is only your choice. Lessons yes, pain no!

 

Yes indeed, it might be easier to reflect on someone else’s pain for the lack of attachment with it. What hurts so much is because it belongs to the bearer. It was his present at some point back in time. However, the only question pertinent is; can someone else be saved the same pain? The bearer knows how much it hurts, and the bearer owes the moral responsibility to save others the same. This is what a social responsibility is. New Saisho will be as much a scar on the hearts of the survivors, as much it was their pride. But future cannot be saved without surviving through an apocalypse, and an apocalypse will always leave scars.

 

The dawn was yet to break, but hearts had just been broken, in a heap. The cries were peace shattering, and pain heart piercing. The concrete however is heartless. It never lets the screams out.

 

The drama was enacted very early in the morning. All the selected team members had been given strict instructions the night before. They had only one choice; either save yourselves and one of the most important persons in your life, or perish along with them all. Those who had earlier been abducted by the Colonel and knew the truth, they had already been quarantined since their release. A few of those families had since resigned to their fates, but many team members had been rendered effectively family-less.

 

The drama began with those still with their families being woken up very early in the morning. The pretext was of an un-announced drill. They were asked to walk out of their self contained units along with one person of their choice, while the rest of their near and dear ones were to stay inside the units. Once outside their units, they were asked to press a button on the wall outside their unit’s entrance. This lowered a thick metal gate to close the only entrance to the units, effectively forever. This was the first time this event had been performed as a part of a drill, and it immediately made the family members conscious. The uncomfortable silence that ensued was marred by intermittent whispering. Finally an announcement was heard on the public address system.

 

“This is your Commander-in-Chief Anne De Villiers,” Anne’s voice boomed on the address system, “The selected team members, you have an option to disclose the truth to the rest of your families now, or wait for five minutes when one of the mission officers will brief them on your behalf.”

 

This announcement sent shockwaves across the hearts filling up the facility. The commotion started with whispers as family members enquired from their kin as to what was happening. When the selected team members wouldn’t answer and started breaking down, the whispers became loud questioning, and finally shouting. The team members endured all this as they waited for the announcement to save them. They were not strong enough to break the truth to their families on their own. The near and dear ones they had picked to leave with them were as perplexed, some of them very young children who couldn’t understand why their mothers and fathers were crying on the opposite sides of a gate. Finally a team commander addressed everybody and broke the truth. The shouting immediately deteriorated into hysterically crying, swearing and pleading. The scene would have scarred even a stone forever.

 

The selected team members and their chosen kin had to be dragged away from the residential units one by one. As the evacuation was underway, those awaiting to be evacuated, and those confined on the other side of the hard metal barricades, tried hard to tear-down the barriers with their limbs or whatever they could lay their hands on.

 

“Why are we being held like prisoners,” someone shouted. “What’s my crime? Let me out of here,” another screamed. “Don’t leave us here like that,” another cried. “Is this what your love was? Leave me caged like an animal to die,” were words that would have torn down any walls made of stone. How can one answer their conscience when their life partner’s last words they would ever hear were, ‘You said, till death do us apart; but who’s dying now’? There was blood, there were tears, and there were screams; heart-rending, gut-wrenching.

 

A crown may not make one invincible, but it is supposed to make one contra-sensitive; oblivious to personal desires, but observant of everybody else’s. How good a leader is in achieving this state of existence, determines how honest he is.

 

The sun wasn’t going to show up in New Saisho today. It was going to be thick and cloudy, with severe thunderstorms predicted. People however still had started gathering outside the Grey House. It had to be a very important announcement if the President had ordered every office and business open on the day, to close down, and asked everybody to gather outside his house for a special announcement. The President himself was sitting in his study, reclined in his rocking chair, his hands held together, elbows on their respective arm-rests, and his chin resting between his thumbs and cross-curled fore-fingers. The first lady could be heard in the background, shouting out for her son and her niece, neither of whom were present in the house anymore.

 

The first lady walked down to the study asking the President, “Where is Anne and where has she taken our son so early in the morning? And what are all these people doing outside our house?”

 

The President however didn’t answer. He got up from his chair and walked up to the window. He pushed aside the edge of the curtain and looked at the swelling crowd outside.

 

“Will you answer me or not?” the first lady now walked up to him and pulled him by his arm.

 

“Come on sweetheart, I need to tell you something,” the President exclaimed as he walked towards the door, “As much I need to tell this to the people of New Saisho.” The first lady said something but the President didn’t wait to hear. He walked straight out of the house, and towards the waiting crowd. The first lady followed him, bewildered.

 

“My dear fellow citizens,” the President addressed the gathering amidst loud cheers, “I am sorry, I lied!” The President’s statement silenced everybody and they were all ears to what was about to be disclosed. “Our world ends today,” his words left everybody shocked beyond belief. “The first of the events ushering in our demise begins in just under an hour,” the President continued as the crowd started to get impatient. Whispering had started.

 

The President paused to let the initial information blow sink in. He then continued, “The events that happened a few days ago, were true.”

 

“You mean we all are going to die?” someone asked aloud from amongst the gathering.

 

“All of us; you, me and everybody we know,” the President answered and then allowed another pause, “Except a few of us!”

 

“You mean you and your family, don’t you rascal?” a woman in the crowd had really become agitated.

 

“No, no,” the President pleaded, “I am here with you until our end. The only ones’ who will live are the best of the talents New Saisho has, that too just to ensure we keep humanity alive as long as we possibly can.”

 

“And we are supposed to believe you now, you liar,” a man tried to break through the cordon as he yelled at the top of his voice.

 

“There was no other way,” the President exclaimed haplessly, “We couldn’t have saved everybody.”

 

“But you could have informed us earlier,” one person shouted, “At least we would have spent our last few days happily with our beloved families and friends, instead of working our backs off. And now what are we left with, not even an hour? How could you be so heartless?”

 

“I am sorry, but I couldn’t have risked jeopardising our mission,” the President tried to reason about his stance, “You already know what a handful of us tried to do.”

 

“What to me? Me and my family would be dying anyway,” someone shouted out, “At least I would have spent my last few days with my family a bit better.”

 

“Look, I am sorry! I cannot turn the clock back for you,” the President apologised humbly, “But if it gives you any solace; me and my wife are going to die with you, and even my wife didn’t know anything about it. She couldn’t even see her son for the last time?”

 

“What? Where are you sending my son? I want to see him,” the first lady who was herself in a shock, finally broke down as the President looked at her, his eyes seeking forgiveness.

 

“So you are indeed going to save your son?” someone in the crowd exclaimed, “And your niece too, aren’t you?”

 

“This man has betrayed our trust,” another one shouted, “He doesn’t deserve to live anymore people. Let’s kill him right now, so we can be sure he will at least keep his promise of dying with us.”

 

“Yes, lets’ do it,” another one in the crowd shouted as the crowd turned ugly and started baying for the President’s blood. The President’s security was having a real tough time maintaining the security cordon as the swelling crowd pushed hard at it. Shoes, stones and objects started flying around as the crowd pelted the President with whatever they could grab. The President stood there motionless.

 

“Why are you still protecting this man who lied to all of us?” one person shouted to the security guarding the President.

 

“Yes, let his die and then go home and be with your families for one last time, for who knows when we all are going to die,” another person shouted as the security guards still stood their ground, albeit a bit shakily.

 

“Where did you send my son? I want to see him for the last time. Please take me to him,” the first lady pleaded as she threw her valiant fists at the President’s chest.

 

“Kill him!” a huge shout emerged from the crowd, “Just kill him now, and lets’ go back to our homes and be with our families.”

 

Finally one security guard snapped as he broke off the cordon and turned around. He looked at the President, who looked back at him. The security guard pulled out his gun, and the President knew it was time. The President pushed his wife away and out of the harm’s way as bullet after bullet pierced through his chest. He stood there like a man until his legs failed him.

 

“No!” the first lady shrieked as she rushed to her dying husband’s side. “Why,” she asked crying as she looked at the people around, who had all quietened down now. She however neither got a reply, nor a chance to wail. A bullet mercifully ended her agony.

 

Agony sometimes when intense beyond any expression, makes the sufferer numb to the situation. Perhaps it’s a natural adaptation of human brain, to make the sufferer immune to pain in dire circumstances. This allows for an opportunity to safeguard personal interests from any further loss.

 

The activity inside the spacecraft was hectic. The crew was working hard to establish vital parameters and stabilize all important systems before it was time to embark on a journey whose end wasn’t known. The mission Commander-in-Chief Anne De Villiers was personally insuring everything was operating smoothly not only in the mission control cum flight deck, but also the mission housing area where every member was being forcibly put to an induced sleep, and secured in their personal cocoons.

 

“Doctor Xavier Adams; is everything under control,” Anne asked as she noticed Doctor Xavier securing one such cocoons personally.

 

“Yes Commander,” Xavier replied.

 

“Who did you put in the Doctor’s chambers?” Anne asked surprised.

 

“Doctor Suzanne Dillon,” Xavier replied as he tried to mask his discomfort with a confident loudness.

 

“Doctor Suzanne, did she agree?” Anne was surprised.

 

“Only just,” Xavier replied, “It took me and her mother a lot of convincing, coercing and pleading last night but she finally relented. But she asked me to put her to sleep first, so she wouldn’t have to live through the moment of leaving her mother behind.”

 

“Thank heavens!” Anne exclaimed relieved, “I am so glad to have both of you on board.”

 

“Commander, I am not going,” Xavier’s reply however shocked Anne, “Captain Bradley Connors is going as Suzie’s family.”

 

“What?” Anne was perplexed, “I thought Doctor Dillon wasn’t keen on taking a risk on Captain Connors!”

 

“We had a very detailed discussion about Captain Connors case last night, and I finally managed to prevail and convince her, that taking Captain Bradley Connors along is in the best interests of this mission, as well as developing science for the betterment of humanity,” Xavier replied. But he also sensed how Anne wasn’t buying all that he had to say, so he pulled out Captain Bradley Connor’s medical clearance certificate that Suzanne had unwittingly signed last night, “Here’s Captain’s medical clearance certificate bearing Suzanne’s signatures.”

 

“But,” Anne was sceptical and didn’t hide her apprehensions, “Can I talk to Doctor Dillon for a moment?”

 

“But that’s impossible,” Xavier exclaimed, “I’ve just put her to sleep and she won’t wake up until tomorrow!”

 

“Doctor Adams, can I trust you?” Anne asked him directly.

 

“That’s preposterous to even suggest that I would sacrifice my life and save someone I am not even related to,” Xavier acted highly upset, “If you don’t trust me then why did you put me on this mission in the first place?”

 

“Doctor Adams, I didn’t mean to be rude,” Anne however wasn’t yielding any ground under emotional blackmail, “I am the Commander-in-Chief of this mission and my responsibility is the biggest. If serious concerns hadn’t been raised by Doctor Dillon previously about Captain Connors’ medical state, I would have believed you without any hesitation. But this is serious?”

 

“I am sorry Commander-in-Chief, but I have no proof of my honesty,” Xavier retorted, “She won’t wake up until tomorrow. If you want to, you can compare her signatures with the ones’ you have on other documents. And if you still have any doubts; just leave the man down here. For a man about to die today, how does it even matter to me?” And Xavier walked away.

 

“Where are you going Doctor Adams? This issue is not settled yet,” Anne asked.

 

“Miss De Villiers, I’ve promised Admiral Mir Abdullah, that his man Captain Aman Ahluwalia will make it to the mission. And I intend to keep my word,” Xavier replied, “I am sorry but I cannot help you anymore for there is not much time left. It’s your mission, your call!”

 

Anne stood their motionless as Xavier walked away. She finally got out of her stupor and immediately proceeded to compare Suzanne’s signatures with the documents she had in her records.

 

Intentions may not always be judged solely upon the actions. Sometimes inaction is the real yardstick of the desires driving a mind. And as it is, bravery is not always in dying for a cause. Sometimes it’s much more excruciating to live beyond an event.

 

In quite a contrast to the events underway just below the ground they were standing upon, those above were getting ready to witness what could possibly be the last beautiful event of their lives; a wedding. Admiral Mir Abdullah had dressed up in his full ceremonial attire as an army general, to conduct the marriage ceremony of the two people he had seen grow in front of his own eyes. Captain Aman Ahluwalia looked as handsome as a man could possibly look on his special day, as he waited patiently for the love of his life to show up. Bradley was the best man. Mrs Ahluwalia was a picture of grace as she stood witness to the ceremony, her eyes moist with joy and pride.

 

Finally the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. A limousine pulled up a few yards away, and the chauffer rushed out to open the door for the bride. The lone bridesmaid stepped out first, the little angel, Rosie. As she stood by the side, a tiny basket full of flowers in her tiny hands, Jenny stepped out of the car, looking like a flash of light. It was as if all the stars had descended down the skies to be the glitter of her gown, as Jenny looked like a streak of light that had descended down to the ground in human form. Her hands were covered in milky white sleek gloves of silk, and the long sleeves of her gown flew down her wrists in bell shaped ends with an elongated corner. The gown rose all the way up her neck, caressing her tender skin, to end just under her chin, like the brim of a jug, ready to pour out beauty. Her head supported a flowing white scarf that rose like a cone above her head, and came down her face like a hooded cape, hiding her beauty from the prying eyes of the world. The hemline flew down and spread across the ground, hiding her white shinny heels that dared peep only as she stepped slowly and slowly towards the waiting groom. It appeared the whole world gyrated with her waist as she floated somewhere just above the ground. Aman was breathless, and possibly desperate to have her in his arms, once and for all. She held little Rosie’s hand as she walked towards her waiting life.

 

With everybody lost in the moment, a whisper and a soft nudge on his shoulder sought Bradley’s immediate attention, “Captain Connors.” Bradley turned around but before he could say a word, Doctor Adams motioned him to stay quiet, so as not to attract anyone’s attention.

 

“We need to put Captain Ahluwalia on the spacecraft,” Adams whispered to Bradley, “Here, give him this drink. It is spiked with the most powerful sedative ever known, and will knock him out in an instant.”

 

“What,” Bradley was shocked by this suggestion out of the blue.

 

“There’s no time to think Captain,” Xavier exclaimed as he pushed the drink in Bradley’s hand, “We both know how important this is. And rest assure; no one will question or blame us for this.”

 

“But Jenny,” Bradley hesitatingly asked.

 

“She’ll understand,” Xavier replied, “Besides we both know there’s no other way to put him on the craft.” Bradley turned around and looked at Aman who had just stepped forward to take Jenny’s hand in his hand as she arrived at the podium.

 

“There’s no time to be wasted thinking. Just go for it,” Xavier pleaded, “Get Aman, and I’ll carry Rosie to the craft. Let’s go!”

 

A proud Admiral looked at the two to-be weds with pride, took a deep breath and started the ceremony, “To everybody present here on behalf of New Saisho, to witness the beautiful union of two of our most beloved kids, I Admiral Mir Abdullah, with your due permission, commence the ceremony.”

 

“Sir, please wait of a second,” Bradley interrupted, “Before they get married, I want to offer my brother one drink, to get him ready and warmed up for the two most important words he would ever say.” And Bradley thrust forward the drink given to him by Doctor Xavier Adams.

 

“Hey brother thanks,” Aman was surprised by the gesture but humbly reminded his brother, “But I don’t drink alcohol.”

 

“Why not do it today? You never marry every day,” Bradley tried to insist.

 

Aman hesitatingly stretched his hand to take the drink but then withdrew. “I can’t! I’m sorry brother. Please don’t ask me for it,” he exclaimed.

 

“Just one sip,” Bradley insisted.

 

“I am sorry brother,” Aman refused.

 

“Bradley, don’t spoil your brother,” Mrs Ahluwalia too rebuked him.

 

Bradley withdrew.

 

Admiral took another breath, looked around, and then continued, “To declare you two married on behalf of New Saisho community, I would like to ask the lady for her wishes first.” He looked at Jenny to ask her, “Jenny, you being the girl has the first right to accept or refuse this man as your lawfully wedded husband. Without any substance, fear or pressure affecting your decisions, do you as a daughter of New Saisho accept this man holding your hand, your husband?”

 

“I do,” Jenny replied softly as Mrs Ahluwalia held her hands to her face, tears of joy rolling down her cheeks. Rosie clapped.

 

Meanwhile, realizing the importance of time and moment, Doctor Xavier pulled out a syringe from his overcoat, full of a strange liquid. “This is our last chance Bradley,” Xavier exclaimed putting the loaded syringe in Bradley’s hand, “Use this sedative dart on his neck right now.” Bradley looked at the syringe, then at the couple getting married, and then at the Doctor. Filled with a conviction, Bradley moved in quick.

 

“Do you as a son of New Saisho, accept this beautiful young girl as your lawfully wedded wife, and promise to stay loyal to her till the end of your life, under oath?” Admiral Abdullah asked Aman.

 

Aman, who was holding both of Jenny’s gloved hands in his hands, smiled, and was about to say “I do” when Bradley grabbed him from behind, and in a flash thrust the dart to his neck and emptied its’ contents.

 

“What the hell,” shocked by the events, Aman pushed Bradley away. He glared at him as his hand automatically went to his paining neck, “Why did you do that?”

 

“I am sorry Aman, but we have no choice,” Bradley replied.

 

“What did you do?” Mrs Ahluwalia shouted at Bradley.

 

Such powerful was the sedative, Aman immediately began stumbling upon his feet, as Admiral Mir Abdullah tried to grab and support him.

 

“Why?” Jenny cried out as she looked at Bradley from behind her cape.

 

“I am sorry to be the soar butter on the cake, but we need to put this man on the mission,” Doctor Xavier Adams came to Bradley’s rescue, “And there was no other way to do so. Blame Bradley for doing what he did only if you don’t agree with it, and we will leave him here.”

 

Everybody fell silent. Jenny started to sob as she held her hands to her face under the cape. Mrs Ahluwalia too closed her eyes as she covered her mouth with her hand, tears flowing down her cheeks like it was raining. Rosie started to cry as well.

 

“I am not going anywhere,” Aman however roared, but struggled to stay on his feet and collapsed on his knees.

 

“Quick Captain Connors, pick him up. We don’t have time,” Xavier nudged Bradley as he rushed over to Rosie and picked her up on his shoulders. Bradley promptly followed the instructions as he moved in to pick Aman on his shoulder.

 

“Let me go,” Aman was now fumbling with his words and fast losing consciousness, “I won’t go anywhere!” Even Rosie tried to fight back at Doctor Xavier but Mrs Ahluwalia pacified her.

 

“I am sorry Jenny,” Bradley said to Jenny as he grabbed Aman from his wrist. Admiral assisted him as he put Aman’s body on his shoulder and lifted it up.

 

“I won’t go,” Aman was saying.

 

“Aman, before you go,” Jenny said to him, “Please say; ‘I do’. I want to die your wife.”

 

“No, I won’t say anything until he puts me down,” Aman however was adamant in spite of his failing strength.

 

“Please Aman, if you love me, just say it once,” Jenny pleaded, “This is the third time you are being asked. Please say; I do!”

 

Aman however wasn’t going to listen to anyone. “I won’t say anything, for I am not going anywhere. I love you Jenny,” he said as he held his hand out to Jenny.

 

Jenny however stood motionless like a statue. She didn’t raise her hand to hold Aman’s hand.

 

“Jenny,” with failing consciousness Aman called her out once again.

 

A gust of wind came rushing down the lands, and Jenny’s clothes dropped to the ground in a heap. Her hooded cape flew onto Aman’s face, who immediately grabbed it.

 

“Jenny,” a loud shriek escaped Aman’s mouth as he looked at the ground where Jenny stood just a moment ago. Everybody looked shell shocked too. But Jenny was gone, perhaps forever!

 

“Jenny, please don’t leave me,” Aman cried out, “I love you, and I do. Please don’t go!”

 

Everybody was speechless, but Rosie started to cry.

 

Doctor Xavier reminded Bradley, “It’s time to go Captain Connors!”

 

“I need to put him on the craft mom,” Bradley looked at Mrs Ahluwalia, who was still in a state of shock. She turned around and looked at him blankly. Bradley asked her again, “Should I put him on the craft mom?”

 

“Let me kiss his forehead one last time,” Mrs Ahluwalia said as she walked up to him. Bradley turned around to let her kiss her son for one last time.

 

“You too will be leaving Captain,” Xavier added as a bewildered Bradley, Admiral and Mrs Ahluwalia looked at him. “You are going as Doctor Suzanne Dillon’s family,” Xavier replied.

 

“But,” Bradley was shocked.

 

“There’s no time son,” Admiral interrupted him this time, “Just go!”

 

“Bradley,” Mrs Ahluwalia exclaimed as she stepped forward, took his face in her hands, and kissed his forehead for the last time, “You are the older one. Always remember to forgive him whenever he makes a mistake.”

 

A tear rolled down Bradley’s eye, “I love you mom!”

 

“I love you too my son,” Mrs Ahluwalia replied, “Both of you!”

 

Bradley took a deep breath, turned around and moved as fast as he could. Mrs Ahluwalia’s hands rose up as if following her two sons, then stayed there as if wishing them to return, and just stayed there.

 

Rosie kept looking at her, crying and extending her arms to reach out to her, but the distance kept growing.

 

Xavier and Bradley quickly made their way to the underground train which took its’ last journey to the research facility. The roof had started to open for the spacecraft to fly out. Anne was waiting at the entrance to the craft, ready to raise the latch any moment.

 

“Be quick,” she yelled at Bradley and Xavier as she saw them approach, “Lock the door behind you Captain Connors, and report to the mission control cum flight command room with Captain Ahluwalia.”

 

“Could you please take Rosie with you?” Xavier asked Anne.

 

“What do you mean?” Bradley was perplexed, “Are you not coming?”

 

“No Captain,” Xavier shook his head as he handed a crying Rosie to Anne, “There is space only for one of us; me or Suzanne.”

 

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Bradley quipped, “Where is Suzanne?”

 

“She is unconscious,” Xavier replied, and before Bradley could ask anything else, he said to him, “You need to go Captain, but promise me you will always take good care of her. She loves you, as much as I love her. She is the only family I ever had. She is my soul-sister.”

 

“There is something you are hiding from me,” Bradley exclaimed as he sensed something wasn’t right.”

 

“Don’t worry Captain, everything will be alright,” Xavier exclaimed, “Just tell her, I am sorry for what I did, but I know she will not only understand, but also forgive me.”

 

“But,” Bradley wanted to say something, but Xavier put his hand on his mouth.

 

“Just tell her; I will be always there with her, whenever she will need me. All she’ll need to do is just call me from her heart, and in her heart,” Xavier said, “Now you go Captain!” And Xavier looked at Bradley. For a second he got lost looking Bradley in his eyes, and when the trance broke, Bradley turned his eyes away.

 

“Just go now,” Xavier exclaimed as he slowly stepped back.

 

“Jenny, I love you,” Aman was mumbling half unconscious, still holding on to her head scarf, the last piece of her left on him other than her memories.

 

Bradley turned around and climbed inside the craft, then turned around again to look at Xavier who had moved away from the craft. Xavier raised both his hands to his mouth and blew a farewell kiss. Bradley pushed the button that lifted the gate up and close. Xavier rushed out of the facility, and Bradley made his way to the mission control cum command centre. He buckled Aman down in the seat reserved from him.

 

“Why did you do that Bradley,” Aman was murmuring, “I hate you, and will never forgive you.”

 

Bradley stepped back, and sunk in his own seat.

 

“The space tear will open in seven minutes,” Jhiang, who was overseeing the flight mapping and route control, informed everybody, “Commander-in-chief, its’ time to leave!”

 

Anne took a deep breath, and then issued her first command, “Flight Commander Chris Davis, please prepare the craft for take-off.”

 

“Preparing for take-off,” Flight Commander immediately started readying the craft for take-off, “Flight control unit, please check all the parameters.”

 

“All parameters ready and set,” one of his juniors replied.

 

“Initiate countdown,” Flight Commander issued next order.

 

“We got a problem Commander,” one of his juniors however raised an alarm.

 

“What happened,” Anne was immediately concerned.

 

“There seems to be extra weight on board,” the junior replied, “Looks like we have an intruder.”

 

“Chief, the tear opens in five minutes and we cannot miss this one,” Jhiang reminded them.

 

Without hesitating for a moment, Anne issued the orders, “Take-off as soon as you are ready. We will deal with the intruder later.”

 

“Yes Chief!” Flight Commander Chris Davis replied and started the countdown.

 

Bradley looked around, still in a daze as to what had happened in the last few minutes. Aman was still murmuring, half asleep. Bradley’s gaze wandered on to a screen showing the images of the objects outside, as the craft started to shake violently.

 

“Firing the reconnaissance craft to guide our way through the tear now,” Chris informed the command centre as a small reconnaissance craft shot out of the spacecraft, to lead its’ way through the space tear. A space tear started to appear in the cloudy sky above as the craft too took off. The reconnaissance craft entered the tear first, sending back images from its’ onboard cameras.

 

“All clear on the other side Chief,” Flight Commander informed Anne.

 

“Cleared to proceed,” Anne issued her next command.

 

The craft lifted itself out of the underground facility. The cameras capturing images of objects outside the craft flashed the last images of earth, as sons and daughters of the earth left her for the last time. Bradley looked at the screen, hoping to catch one last glimpse of his mother. And there she was, standing on the ground outside, looking at the rising craft, her one hand held on to her heart, the other hanging by her side. She stood there motionless, staring blankly. Suddenly the screen turned blank.

 

The space tear had closed and humanity, that had never managed to get as far as its’ next door neighbor, had suddenly leap forged into a new space.

 

“What happened? Where are we?” Anne asked a bit petrified at the starless darkness that engulfed their humble aboard.

 

“Welcome to the new space,” Jhiang informed the shell shocked flight deck, “This is interstellar space!”

 

A moment’s pause let the truth sink in. Finally Bradley exclaimed, “That was the last time ever I saw mother!”

 

“Technically no, but practically yes,” Jhiang quipped, thinking Bradley was referring to the Mother Earth.

 

“What do you mean?” Anne asked as everybody else looked on at Jhiang.

 

“Well,” Jhiang hesitated a bit, not sure as to what everybody’s reaction would be, but replied, “In twenty three hours and fifty nine minutes, we will re-enter our Solar System, just beyond the orbit of Mars. Earth if its’ still there, would still be visible.”

 

This information left everybody gaping. Flight Commander Chris Davis got excited and jumped out of his seat. He rushed to Jhiang and grabbed him by his collar, “And if the earth is still there, then that’s where we are heading to! To my family! Do you understand?”

 

Jhiang was mortified by the physically intimidation, but still informed him, “No use, for it would have been destroyed beyond being habitable. And even if that were not to be the case, the solar system is going to get destroyed in under one year’s time. We cannot miss even a single space tear over the next three months, or we will be lost in interstellar space forever, or in the wrong Universe.”

 

“I don’t care! I would rather die than live without my wife,” Chris roared.

 

“Please let go of me,” Jhiang pleaded.

 

“Flight Commander, please return to your seat immediately,” Anne ordered him. But Chris wasn’t listening.

 

Finally Bradley got up from his seat and grabbed Chris by his collar. “Flight Commander, you have a job to do,” he shouted in Chris’s face, bringing him back to his senses. Chris returned to his seat and Bradley to his. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room.

 

Enormity can be petrifying were one to think of their frailty in the face of circumstances. It can suffocate critical thinking and result in a fatal delay or a self-destructive error. Stable is the command of a leader not perturbed by the situations, and who would rather look for alternatives first before a confrontation.

 

The knock on the door was soft but firm, “Can I come in Sir?”

 

“Come in,” Rear Admiral Guruban Ahluwalia’s voice roared from inside the room. “What’s the news young man,” he asked as soon as his soldier stepped inside. The aircraft carrier ‘NSS Full Bloom’ had been soaring above the high seas for months now, with no end to this journey in sight.

 

“We see land Sir,” the soldier informed him jubilantly.

 

“That is indeed very good news,” Rear Admiral quipped as he stood up from his chair and marched out. The soldier followed him as Rear Admiral Guruban Ahluwalia made his way to the deck where the rest of his staff was waiting for him. He took a pair of binoculars in his hands and looked on.

 

“Sir,” another soldier who had just come up to the deck sought his attention.

 

“What happened son?” Rear Admiral asked.

 

“All the astronomical calculations are complete and we have all the answers to the mystery now,” the soldier informed him.

 

“How is it looking son?” Rear Admiral asked.

 

“Not too good I am afraid,” the soldier replied, “We are not in a two Sun system as we originally thought Sir.” He then paused for a second as he himself struggled to come to term with the facts, “The big sun that we see in the sky every day, and whatever this earth like planet is; we are both orbiting the same small other sun in the sky, which appears small only because it is far.” He then looked at his senior, waiting for his reaction.

 

“What’s the rest that we know?” Rear Admiral asked as he sensed more information coming.

 

“Sir, the bigger sun and this planet are in the same orbit,” the soldier replied. His reply left everybody shocked, and for a moment blanked out the sound of water from their ears.

 

“How much time do we have?” Rear Admiral asked.

 

“Five years to collision,” the soldier replied, “And two years before it gets’ inhospitable.”

 

And the saga continues!

 

 

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