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Mishiida Alexander

Stalking Shadows

“Knowledge is merely a collection of facts in the absence of technique.”

Chapter Six: Evil lurks

The age old war wisdom, and not without a good reason is; a General cannot be replaced with an ordinary soldier. Bravery and strength may not be class or race characteristics, but they are not the sole criterion determining the success or failure of a campaign either. It is true that a General is a soldier to begin with, but a soldier who knows how to manage the resources and man-power, how to run a campaign. Men will march on an order, and halt so as well, but only a General knows when men need to march, when to charge, and when to halt, and the right direction as well. It is true that the best of Generals have to rise through the ranks to begin with, but every step comes at the culmination of a series of experiences. The battle hardened officer, by the time he makes it to the top, strategy and forward planning have become a second nature of his. Events and incidents hold no surprises for him. Loss of men hurts not his heart, but only his campaign. Every life becomes valuable, not for his force’s strength, but for the implementation of his battle strategies.

The most important aspect of running a successful campaign is an effective deployment of both your strengths, as well as weaknesses. An average General will hide his force’s weaknesses behind its strength. But such a scenario is fraught with the danger of overestimating your effective strength. The psychological comfort of numbers can often deceive the most experienced of Generals into overextending the reach of their strengths and resources. But once the strength in front vanes, the weakness behind will invariably fail to check the enemy advance. A General par excellence would rather use his weaknesses to engage the enemy frontlines, thus dividing enemy’s resources, and then use his strengths to launch precision assaults. Chalk and cheese have the same colour, but different uses!

Technique is the effective utilization of knowledge in practical situations. Without a proper method, knowledge is merely an ornamental collection of facts with no purpose to serve. Mishiida is a brilliant officer of her force, but is still a long way to be a reflection of the seasoned campaigner that Colonel Rick Roxon is. Tagging along she will certainly learn a lot of what we are from him.

“That was really a massive explosion,” Corbett quips as he accesses the impact at the site of explosion, with bits and pieces of Mishiida’s craft lying scattered as far and wide as one could see with an un-assisted eye.

“Wait a second,” Colonel exclaims as something important seems to have caught his attention. He makes a dash towards Mishiida and Alexander, and we follow him. “What happened to the Uranium in your craft? This doesn’t seem like an atomic explosion,” Rick asks as we slap our foreheads for having missed the first precautionary thought that should’ve crossed our minds, “Is there any radiation pollution at this site we are currently exposed to?”

Mishiida immediately gathers herself and grabs her communication gadget to answer him as Alexander gently wipes her tears with his handkerchief, “They must have removed the fuel cells, for they are designed never to explode. It is a way of securing the craft in a battle. Otherwise one craft blowing up would destroy many more in the vicinity, possibly inflicting serious damage to the war efforts.”

“So there is no chance of radiation pollution at this site?” Rick repeats his major concern of the moment.

“Very minor,” Mishiida replies, “Cadmium atoms used in the nano fuel cells to enhance their efficiency, will keep it under check. Moreover, our bodies are immune to radioactivity.”

“Great! So you mean we are getting cooked right now?” Corbett quips sarcastically.

“Sorry, I didn’t realize,” Mishiida’s reply however leaves everyone’s jaws dropping.

“Lets’ not waste anymore time here,” Colonel reminds everyone, and then points at their destroyed means of conveyance, “That’s no use anymore. I’ll order an air-lift for us. But before that we need to secure this area, and ensure nobody else will get exposed to radioactivity over here.” He then turns around to Mishiida and tells her, “Take Alexander and Hayley with you, three to five kilometres west down the road. I myself and Corbett will head east. Stop any vehicle from driving down this way, and ask them to use an alternate route. I’ll arrange for the area to be quarantined right away. Be quick!”

“How will you inform the base,” Alexander asks.

“Simple! I’ll call them,” Rick quips pulling out his mobile device.

“Don’t tell me this thing works this far Out-back,” Alexander has his doubts.

“It’s called military network son,” Rick winks at him.

As the group breaks up into two and starts heading in opposite direction, Rick surprisingly gets a phone call. “Colonel Rick,” he answers it back.

“Sir, we have some bad news for you,” the voice at the other end informs him, “Lieutenant Carl Stewart was found murdered outside his residence next to his jeep this morning.”

“What?” ground slips from under the Colonel’s feet, but unfortunately the news is confirmed again to him.

What’s unpleasant is a shock, and surprise is what brings a welcome cheer. Experience is about being prepared for the shock, and not getting carried away by the cheerful. Good is the one who plans immaculately to avoid the two altogether. Greatness is what keeps one grounded in realization; one can never be perfect.

“Has anything been moved from here thus far?” Colonel asks the detectives at the scene of the ghastly murder.

“Not since the body was first spotted by the newspaper boy in the morning,” the officer replies shaking his head, “He stayed at the scene until the emergency crews arrived, and is being counselled for the shock now.”

Rick nods as he moves to have a closer look at the body that is still lying at the scene, Corbett towing him closely. “This doesn’t seem to be the work of the ones we are looking for Corbett,” Rick whispers, mindful of the crowd at the scene.

“Who else could mess with us in our own backyard sir?” Corbett asks.

“Possibly our enemies have friends Corbett,” Rick replies as he strains his eyes at the faint lines of shoe rubber lining the bitumen around the corpse, and then at the few prints of rubber and sand dotting the side of the jeep. “There was a struggle; an intense wrestling perhaps, a fight for survival as our man was being done to death,” Rick replies pointing at the signs, “The hunters we are hunting, they wouldn’t have taken that long to finish the job. Here, look at the abrasions around his neck, and cuts on the inside of the fingers of his hands. He really fought long and hard to resist that string around his neck.”

“But he couldn’t have been taken down by one small man,” Corbett points out, “Not with all his training and years with the force.”

“There must have been more than one, and he must have been surprised with the first hit,” Rick answers from his experience. He then quickly turns around and asks the officer, “Have you searched the body for items yet.”

“Yes sir, it’s all been collected and recorded already,” the officer replies, “The motive doesn’t seem to be robbery. His wallet, watch, chain and ring were all found on him intact.”

“What about his mobile phone?” Rick asks.

The officer strains his memory for a quick second and replies, “I don’t think we found any on him.”

“He certainly had one officer,” Rick exclaims, “And if you didn’t find it, then it has either been taken away, or is still lying here somewhere.” Rick then pulls out his phone and dials Carl’s number. A faint ringing sound coming from the bush by the side catches everyone’s attention. Rick immediately gets up, finds the device lying behind the shrub, and using his handkerchief, lifts it up from one of the corners, with another covered finger supporting its’ lower edge.

“Must have fallen off during the struggle,” Corbett comments as he steps around to have a look, “But, didn’t you say he told you about the man being too drunk to speak? Maybe it was one of them, only acting to be drunk.”

“Corbett, he said too drunk to speak, not mute or unable to make a sound,” Rick replies, “It cannot be one of them, for even a simple sound would have disclosed their identity to him. Not that it would have helped him much, if it were two of them. Someone’s trying to pass this murder off as their handiwork.”

“But who could it be, and why?” Corbett is perplexed, and so are we.

“With attacks occurring concurrently at Hayley’s hospital, this murder, and sabotage of Mishiida’s craft in quick time, it’s obvious they are trying to mislead us about their actual strength,” the seasoned campaigner that Rick is, the trick however has failed to miss his keen eye. He then reminds Corbett, “We need to find Sandeep before they get to him again.”

Corbett nods as Rick walks back to the corpse, kneels down, and gently puts his hand on the dead body’s chest, his heart heavy and eyes moist. He then gets up, turns around and leaves the scene, with Corbett on his heels, turning around once to have a look at his former mate. We may as well tag along with them for the moment, for everything seems to have been covered at this scene.

Hey, wait a minute, did you notice that? It seems someone’s been monitoring everything from amongst the crowd, and breaks out as soon as our two friends climb into their vehicle. We better inspect this!

The man walks up to the payphone on the side street, and drops a couple of bucks, then dials a number just as we rush around the corner to catch up with him. Neat clothes and clean shaved; seems like a well meaning person by all yardsticks. But what is he doing at the scene, spying like this, and who is he calling? Time to eavesdrop!

“The cat has smelt the pigeons,” he whispers into the phone, as if he is worried someone else will hear the conversation.

“Is it crouching?” the voice at the other end asks.

“Still beyond the fence,” the man replies. But what is all this talk about cats and pigeons, and who is he calling? The only way to find out is to trace the call, right through the wires. And doesn’t seem like we have much time, so let’s just go!

“Bring the cage indoors! No need to wait for it to climb over the fence,” the man at the other end replies just as we emerge out the receiver in his hand, to find ourselves standing next to another payphone, and another neatly attired man.

He puts the receiver down and walks up to a limousine by the side of the road. He opens the back door and climbs into it. The limousine gets rolling as soon as we jump into it.

“The bluff seems to have been caught,” the man informs the gentleman in neat white suit, who seems to have been waiting patiently for the information, smoking what looks like his twentieth cigarette in the ivory pipe in his hand. Odd to say, the man looks strangely familiar. But who is he, and where have we seen him before?

“The level of expertise has dipped sharply for your men Menzies,” the man in white quips. He then picks up a phone hanging by the side and presses a button. “Mr Menzies needs the next corner,” he quips and then puts the phone back in its’ holder, “Follow the house-keeping protocols.”

“Yes sir, I will! You have my word,” Menzies replies almost apologetically, gives a bow and gets out of the limousine as soon as it halts.

Our very familiar host then takes out his mobile phone, and dials a number. Perhaps it’s time for us to trace this call as well, only we travel by air this time!

“Make sure the house-keeping is ready to clean up the act in time, should the case demand,” the man at the other end replies to the call just as we emerge out into his office, and do we wonder where the hell are we? Seems we are scores of stories above the ground, overlooking the smaller building between this office and the beach front. Whatever is this place? Wonderstruck we look around as our new host puts the phone down, and does he look familiar as well? Oh yes, now it all comes back to our mind as we remember who these people are.

“What do we tell the delegation from Latin America sir?” the junior staff in the room seems to be continuing with their previous conversation, as we recognize the right hand man of the youngest, fastest and biggest gun in the global arms industry.

Referred only as Mr Garcia by the media, his weapons equip the best of forces around the world, and his style of business has been noted for aggressive marketing manoeuvres and take-overs. As much an adrenaline junkie as much a business tycoon, he’s pushing hard for scientific excellence in weaponry, famously claiming post the great war with Mishiida’s clan, that he will be selling his weapons to the aliens in under five years. But today as we learn from his right-hand man, he is celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday in style, racing in his own car at the Tokyo Grand Prix. It’s time to leave his Emirates office and follow him at Tokyo. His race should just be finishing about now, and we better make it quick.

Luckily enough, we don’t miss him cross the flag as winner. Style is his by birth-right! Let us just wait next to the podium, and follow him from there.

“Hey, how are you,” the young belle who’s been spotted hanging around his arms since May this year, exclaims as she jumps into his arms and gives him a small peck on the lips as soon as he gets down from the podium, with photographers going in a fit snapping the two. Trophies seem not to be the only thing he is used to winning!

“What are you doing here?” he asks a bit roughly, his voice a bit low so as not to be overheard. But we never miss a whisper!

“I am here to give my baby a massage by the pool side,” the lassie replies, “It’s your twenty-fifth birthday, and I wanted to have some special moments with my baby!”

In reply she only gets a strong glare as the two walk away. She tries to put her arm in his arm but he grabs her hand and puts it down, giving her one more glare.

Those who love money and fame, they generally prefer to buy love. Like a gadget, it is imperative the old purchase will one day be discarded in favour of the new one available for grabs in the market. Consumption is the key feature of consumerism!

We finish our last drink for the evening at the bar and return to the hotel Mr Garcia’s firm owns. We left him in his suite with his girl, once she had managed to get him a bit warmer in his response. Her massage after the swim had seemed to have worked. We arrive just after what appears to have been some quality time for the couple. They seem to have patched up whatever difference they might have had earlier in the day as she clings on to him, giving a small peck on his shoulder.

“You know baby,” she whispers in his ears, “I love you!” And she gives him another peck on his shoulder as he gives an un-interested hum in reply. “We should get married,” she quips.

At this moment he quickly turns around, pushes her back with all force of his hands, and as she rolls over to her other side, he kicks her hard in her back, tossing her out of the bed, with blanket wrapping around her body. A loud painful shriek escapes her lips.

“You bitch,” he jumps on to his feet and continues as he puts on his under-wear, “Ten million bucks will be transferred to your account tomorrow. Don’t show me your filthy face again.”

Shocked and choked, she pleads, “But I love you.”

He rushes around to her side and grabs her by her hair, then whispers in her ear, “No one will ever know where you went. Take the money and find a good man. I won’t repeat!” At this point someone knocks at the door and he yells back, “What?”

“Sir, the aliens are online now,” the voice from outside informs him.


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