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Mishiida Alexander

Stalking Shadows

“A judgment’s value exists in its situational morality.”

Chapter Eleven: Grasping air

Judgments are bound to be judged themselves, by both the peers and the posterity of those who had enlivened the situation that bore the bitter-sweet fruit. Whereas the peers have the advantage of having the first hand experience of the circumstances that culminated in the imprinting of time, the posterity has to invariable evaluate the same from often in-accurate or adulterated histories, to deduce a learning for its’ own needs. And as is the case most of the times; such judgments by posterity invariably get adulterated by the overtones of its’ own morality, and the result the judgment under investigation had ultimately borne. But the real value of a judgment exists in the choices available to the one judging at the relevant time, and the then prevalent moral standards and cultural biases. A judge cannot rise above the society that enlivens the powers imbibed in him. Any change has to first infect the social perceptions, and then raise a ruckus loud enough to be noticeable, and finally be accepted by the person who wields the decision making authority. Much of the wider acceptance of such a change is an after-affect of a then revolutionary decision. But what change would percolate such a decision is a thought worth dwelling on.

An unbiased determiner of an existing situation would look at the choices presented by the situation, and evaluate their comparative merits based upon the prevalent moral and cultural standards. The determiner would then proceed to deduce what possible results will emerge out of all the choices that could possibly be made. The expected results would then have to be compared with the expected evolution of the social morality and cultural bias in a yet unknown future. At the end of such an extensive yet hypothetical evaluative exercise, the determiner would then have to decide whether a given choice should be made, so as to influence the future into a direction the determiner thinks would most proficiently serve the purpose of the then current society. This choice itself however would be based on the then current moral and cultural standards as perceived by the determiner. Thus a decision to save ten percent of humanity at the expense of ninety percent of the rest might still be a better decision, if otherwise only nine percent could be reasonably expected to survive. This would be so even if the decision would accelerate the demise of the remainder.

Mr. Garcia, Nihang Surpavitar, Colonel Rick Roxon, Mishiida and Alexander, they have all either made their choices, or are at a point in life where they will have to make a choice that would determine not only their own future, but also the future of those they hold dear, and possibly everybody else. Their choices are based on their own perceptions of morality and their own biases. They all have an idea of what their future will be were they to make a particular choice. Posterity may judge their individual choices in the light of the results they will yield, but we are well aware of their situations, and their choices. Alas, we are fourth witnesses who never interfere in the flow of present into history, as much as we cannot speak about the flow of present into the future. In fact, sometimes it is hard to say which way the present really flows.

But here we are, after three days of futile search through properties owned by any company corporation with even a remote connection with silicon chip production, at the place where we should have been the very first day.

“How long has this place been like this?” Lieutenant Carl Stewart asks the caretaker of the property in a stern tone as his partner Lieutenant Charles Heather looks around the empty but tidy property.

“For years,” the caretaker replies scratching his head, “Probably four or five!”

“How come it’s sparklingly clean?” Heather asks almost as if he is interrogating the caretaker.

“I clean it regularly,” the caretaker explains, “That’s what I get paid for.”

“So you get paid for cleaning,” Carl quips as he glares at the caretaker, and then looks away at the surroundings, “You think you are very smart. Why does your boss pay you for cleaning a joint he hasn’t seen a use of in five years?”

“How would I know officer,” the caretaker replies as he watches the two officers inspect the premises, “I only do the bidding of my immediate senior, and I get paid for it, enough to run my household.”

“Your immediate senior, what’s his name?” Carl asks him, but before the caretaker can answer, he pulls out his phone and dials a number, “Sir, this place looks nice and ready to bring in a new bride.”

“Who’s the groom?” Colonel Rick’s voice booms loud and clear from the other end.

“Garcia,” Carl replies.

There’s a brief silence at the other end before Rick says, “Bring along your passports to the base.” The call then drops out.

It’s hard to say what is more determining of the time it takes to make a choice; is it the importance of what’s at stake, or is it the level of confidence the protagonist exhibits. Perhaps it is a result of their various combinations and mutations. But what is worth keeping in mind is; a delay in itself could be decisive in the outcome of the choice, and more than likely, in an unwanted fashion. There is always an optimal moment whence to strike.

“You seem lost somewhere,” Nihang Surpavitar asks Alexander just as we arrive at the gym behind him.

“Me, oh no,” Alexander gushes as if he had been caught in an act better kept secret, “I was just contemplating what to do tomorrow when Mishiida returns from Japan in the evening.”

Surpavitar takes a deep breath and walks around the weight bench. He puts his hand on Alexander’s shoulder and quips, “I was thinking of your day after tomorrow.”

“What do you mean?” Alex is all ears as he turns towards Surpavitar.

Supavitar walks to another bench and sits down before continuing, “You seem lost somewhere trying to find yourself.”

This time Alex takes a deep breath before replying, “Maybe I am. But is it not normal?”

“Indeed it is,” Surpavitar replies as we concentrate on his each and every word, “But the question is; are you lost inside yourself, or outside yourself?”

“And what’s the difference?” Alex asks what we want to know.

“You are lost outside yourself when you are not sure how others perceive you,” Surpavitar replies, “And you are lost inside yourself when you don’t know how you want the others to perceive you.”

“But aren’t the two inter-twined?” Alex seems to understand much more than us at this point in time.

“Not exactly,” Surpavitar clarifies, “You might be sure of what you want the others to think of you; and you may carry yourself in a manner consistent with such a belief. Yet you have no control over how others will perceive your actions, leave alone figuring out what they really think of you inside their hearts.”

“Perhaps that’s right,” Alex sighs and adds, “And perhaps I am lost a bit outside, and a bit inside of myself.”

“And perhaps that’s where we all start at some stage in our lives,” Surpavitar’s words must be comforting for Alex. They are for us.

“But how do I find myself?” Alex raises the relevant query.

“You start by not trying to be like someone else,” Surpavitar’s simple statement is much more intense in meaning than what it appears.

“You mean not idolizing someone, or not following in someone’s footsteps, or not trying to do what someone else does better than you?” Alex asks perplexed.

“Not in the strict sense of the words as you have used them,” Surpavitar tries to explain, “You idolize someone not to imitate them, but to get motivation from their story whenever you find yourself in a situation they had dealt with commendably. You follow in someone’s footsteps when they lead in the same direction that you have picked for yourself, and not only correct your own steps wherever that person had gone astray, but also go further if you have to. You try to be better than someone who has already set a benchmark in what you are trying to do, but bettering them should not be your ultimate goal. You can always better yourself.”

“I don’t understand,” Alex seems to have gotten more confused, just like us. No wonder he asks what we would have; “How can I not try to be like someone when I am trying to follow someone’s footsteps, and trying to be better than someone, even if for a while?”

Surpavitar smiles at his confusion and quips as he gets up from the bench and walks up to Alex again, “You start by trying to be what you want to be. Once you know what you want to be, you will invariable run into someone who’s already tried to be that, and someone who has already excelled at being that. But the trick in not losing your self is; continuing not to be like anyone, but being yourself, and bettering yourself every day. Possibly you will end up going beyond where anyone else had prior to you. And even if not, you will still excel at what you do. You will find peace within yourself, because you won’t have unfinished desires.”

“But how do I know what I want to be?” Alex asks as if Surpavitar were a mind-reader.

“By contemplating where you want to be in a future that you think will give you peace,” Surpavitar asks, “As long as you will continue to look at others and think of everything they are good at, you will keep losing yourself running in every direction, trying to be like them in each one of it, and yet getting nowhere. Why do you want to be like someone else? Why don’t you want to be someone that everybody else would love to be?”

“I don’t understand what you mean?” Alex asks, even more lost than he was before.

“Tell me, why you are here in the gym today,” Surpavitar asks him, “Give me the honest reason.”

“Because I want to be strong,” Alex quips in a flash, but when Surpavitar keeps on looking at him for more, uncomfortably adds, “Because I think I am weak and not good enough for Mishiida.” But Surpavitar is still not satisfied with his reply just like us, and nods his head as if expecting more from Alex. Alex gives in and adds, “She is a woman who is so strong, and I am a man who is so weak. There are much better men in this world who are more worthy of her hand than me. I feel useless. I want to be good enough for her. I want to be strong like Corbett, or Colonel Rick. Even my father is a better man than me.”

“So you want to be like someone who you think is better than you for Mishiida,” Surpavitar lays bare what is really Alex’s trouble, “And you think that someone is better than you because they are physically stronger, or intellectually better, or artistically talented, isn’t it?”

“I guess so,” Alex admits sheepishly.

“Are all these men that you have named, and all the other men in the world that you assume are stronger than you, the same in every aspect?” Surpavitar asks him.

“Of course not,” Alex replies thoughtfully, “Corbett is a strong man and a good soldier, but Colonel Rick is more experienced and perhaps will always be a better general than him. My father on the other hand is an average man in his strength, but is a highly talented musician, something the other two are not. And probably all the stronger men in the world are similarly good in one thing or the other. But I don’t know how it matters if I don’t feel competent enough for Mishiida.”

“All this matters because you are judging your competence with everybody else at the same time, and in every field,” Surpavitar replies, “You are not realizing that every man has developed their abilities in one field that they chose, while they are probably just average, or possibly below average in every other field. You are looking at not only all the men at the same time, but also all the fields they individually excel in at the same time. You have lost yourself in trying to be like everybody else at the same time, so that Mishiida can see you like all of the men included in one.”

And the truth finally hits Alex, leaving him speechless for a moment. He finally breaks his silence and asks, “What should I do?”

“Decide what you want to be in your life; the strongest man on this earth, or something which is more involving,” Surpavitar answers his query, “Then you will know everything that would make up the man that you want to be. Once you know that, you can then start working on excelling at all those aspects, while others which would be not so important, will develop according to your need for them.”

“So should I not try to be the strongest man for Mishiida?” Alex is still stuck in some confusion.

“If that is the only thing that you think would make you capable enough for her, then do so with all the pleasure,” Surpavitar replies, “But more important than that question is this; is Mishiida the only thing important in your future, or do you think you have a duty towards others too, like this earth, the community, your friends and your family? What will make you worthy of them?”

Surpavitar’s words leave Alex numb for a moment, and as Surpavitar pats his shoulder and walks out of the gym, a twinkle of realization starts glowing in his eyes.

Realization is however not the same as enlightenment. While enlightenment is the gaining of both new knowledge and an understanding of the same, realization is just the understanding of what one already knows. While enlightenment works prospectively, realization is often a retrospective achievement, although either one of them could come too late to make a difference to the immediate future.

Freshly enlightened by the wise words of Surpavitar, we arrive just in time to catch Colonel Rick and Mishiida, accompanied by Lieutenant Heather and Stewart, meet the high flying Mr. Garcia in his Tokyo office.

“What a pleasant surprise and an honour to have the gracious presence of the lovely Miss Mishiida, and the Colonel in my office,” Mr. Garcia fronts them at his charming best as he welcomes them into his office, “What brings such respected company to my office?” He then steps forward to go down on one knee and take Mishiida’s hand in one hand and kiss it, much to our disdain, and then gets up to shake the Colonel’s hand. “Please take a seat,” Garcia points to a couch in one of the corners of his office.

“I am afraid Mr. Garcia, our visit might not be entirely comfortable for you, for we come with some grave concerns and in bad tidings,” Colonel tries to keep the conversation as official as he can.

“What can I do for you Colonel,” Mr. Garcia asks as he sits down right next to Mishiida, too close for her comfort.

Colonel then pulls out the pictures of the two aliens printed from video stills and puts them on the table in front of Mr. Garcia. He cuts the long story short, “We have unwanted alien company that is actively targeting our personnel, and credible leads point in a direction that they are in close collaboration with another stronger alien adversary that is possibly looking to arm itself against us humans, right here on our very own earth.”

Mr. Garcia looks at the pictures, acting a bit surprised, and as he picks them up for a closer look, he asks, “That is indeed a serious issue Colonel. How can I help you with this case? Let me know once, and I will leave no stone unturned to assist you.”

“That is exactly the reason why we are here Mr. Garcia, and we hope you will indeed assist us whole heartedly,” Colonel Rick replies as he carefully chooses his words to disclose his real intention, “And since we suspect these people are looking for an earth based armament supplier, we are looking forward to approaching all arms manufacturers, to ascertain if any one of them has been contacted by these people.”

“None has approached me,” Mr. Garcia flatly refutes the suggestion as he puts down the pictures on the table shaking his head.

“Would you mind if we inspect your weapons manufacturing facilities,” Colonel puts it bluntly, “All of them!”

The direct statement does the trick and catches Mr. Garcia off-guard as he stumbles to find the right words, “Wait Colonel! What do you mean; inspect all my facilities? Do you have any real information or are you just shooting arrows in thin air hoping one would hit the target?”

“We are dealing with a deadly enemy, and even the wildest of imagination is a credible lead given our very recent experience of being at the wrong end of the stick,” Colonel puts the things in perspective, “We have no option but to inspect every weapons manufacturer who could possibly posses the technology advanced enough to arm an alien super-power.”

“But why us,” Mr. Garcia exclaims indignantly, “I mean, don’t get me wrong; but do you realize how such things can get blown out of proportion in the press? We are in the middle of negotiating some really important defense deals with governments globally, and the last thing we need is bad press that questions our loyalty.”

“But we are not specifically targeting your facilities only,” Colonel tries to explain, “We will be inspecting everybody else in the market too.”

“Very well then,” Mr. Garcia quips, “Why not start with everybody else first?”

“What difference does it make?” Colonel asks shaking his head.

“All of it,” Mr. Garcia exclaims, “We are the biggest arms supplier in the world today with the most at stake. The last thing we need at this time when we are about to leave our competition way behind is a news based on mere speculation that casts a doubt on our credibility. It defies all business logic.”

“We can always claim it is a government initiative to ensure public safety,” Colonel tries to reason with him, before dropping the bomb, “Or we can get a government order anyway.”

Colonel’s words this time however give Garcia the way-out he was looking for. Pretending to be infuriated, he exclaims, “Very well then Colonel, why don’t you get the permission of the US, British, Israel, Japan, UAE and Indian Governments, to inspect our local sites there? Besides you will need their defense clearance anyway for weapons manufacturing is a very sensitive field with a strict access to facilities and tech. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry can walk into a weapon’s facility anytime for inspection.”

Any other day Mr. Garcia’s words might have blown Rick’s lid, but today he needs to keep his cool and find out a way to breach Garcia’s defenses. This he does with the shrewd choice of words he is notorious for, “Well Mr. Garcia, if you will force us to seek Government permission like that, we will have to do it publically. And since we will be targeting your production facilities first, you will have to suffer the bad press that you had just been mentioning. This will be true unless you accept my other offer.”

Colonel’s words force Mr. Garcia to think deeply. He finally asks, “What do you propose Colonel?”

“How about I send a four member team to inspect your sites in your presence, with me as one of them,” Colonel proposes, “And we can tell the whole world that we are interested in giving a very lucrative defense contract to your company, hence doing an inspection of your sites for safety issues.”

Colonel’s idea clicks a spark in Mr. Garcia’s eyes as he reclines back on the couch and stretches his one arm behind Mishiida. He exclaims, “How about I tell the world that we are dealing with Mishiida and trying to get some alien tech for us, and hence negotiating with your government? It would sound more credible Colonel.”

“That would be unnecessary overkill, don’t you think so,” Colonel quips as Mishiida looks at Mr. Garcia, surprised.

“Not at all Colonel,” Mr. Garcia quips as he puts his hand around Mishiida’s shoulder and pulls her in towards himself, “I can take the lovely lady with me to the press right now and make an announcement, and your team could start there inspections from tomorrow itself.”

Mishiida looks at Colonel as she gently shrugs off Mr. Garcia’s hand. Colonel looks back at her, and then clasps his hands and starts contemplating.

“There is no need to think Colonel,” Mr. Garcia replies, “This way while you will get a chance to inspect my facilities much faster than any other means, my company will gain in reputation. Everybody finishes on top!”

Colonel looks on at Mishiida, who nods her head in the affirmative, enabling Rick to accept the offer, “That’s fine Mr. Garcia, but you need to be quick with the announcement, as we leave for the airport straightaway.”

“Why? Are you people not staying for the night?” Mr. Garcia exclaims as he once again puts his arm around and behind Mishiida’s waist, and grabs her one hand in his other, “I was so keen on taking the lovely lady out for dinner tonight, and show her some beautiful places in Tokyo.”

Sensing Mishiida’s discomfort Colonel quips, “Unfortunately we can’t stay! In fact, we need to leave right now.”

“OK! How about I drive the lovely lady to the airport in my sports car, while my limousine will drop you and your assistants behind us,” Mr. Garcia quickly suggests, “There are always the paparazzi following me. You guys will get back home later, and the news of our collaboration will get their first. I will make the necessary press statement in your absence.”

“I don’t think that would be necessary,” Colonel quips as he notices Garcia holding Mishiida’s hand in both his hands, “We all can travel in the limousine, and you can still make the statement later on.”

“Oh c’mon Colonel,” Mr. Garcia complains, “What’s the fun in that? I never travel in my limousine. It is for guests. Besides I want to spend some quality time with the gorgeous lady whom I’ve admired from the first day I’ve known of her.”

“Maybe if I can come along with you two,” Colonel reluctantly asks, “Perhaps that will make Mishiida comfortable too.”

“Colonel, I drive a sports car which only seats two,” unwittingly, it appears, the Colonel has handed the advantage to Mr. Garcia.

Before Colonel can present another argument Garcia cuts him short, “Don’t worry Colonel! The lady is absolutely safe with me, and besides she is pretty capable of defending herself were I to transgress.”

We can see the displeasure simmer in Mishiida’s eyes as she turns her face away, but seems like both her and Colonel have decided to yield some more ground to Mr. Garcia. And since we have no choice in what happens, except whether to witness what happens or not, we decide to tag along. A dual seat sports car can never be a problem for someone who can fit into a Nanometer of space and much less.

“Have you driven one of our vehicles so far my lovely lady,” Mr. Garcia asks as he pushes the car into another gear while we watch seated between them near the rear screen. “Here, try a gear change,” Mr. Garcia quips as he glances at the limousine tailing them from behind. “Put your hand on the gear stick,” Mr. Garcia asks Mishiida who reluctantly and uninterestedly complies. Mr. Garcia grabs her hand and quickly changes a gear and accelerates. But rather than letting go of her hand, he keeps holding on to it and quickly changes a few more gears and literally makes the car fly, leaving the limousine to fall far behind and out of sight. Rather than driving straight to the airport, he takes a long curved route, yet makes it before the limousine.

“There we are my lady,” Mr. Garcia exclaims as hordes of paparazzi swarm around his car. He quickly jumps out and rushes to Mishiida’s side and opens the door, and as she steps out, he picks her up in his arms and carries her towards the airport door. Paparazzi go into a frenzy taking pictures as a shell shocked Mishiida looks on at Mr. Garcia. But just before stepping inside the airport Mr. Garcia puts the lady back on her feet, grabs her neck with one hand and pulls her towards him to plant a kiss on her cheek, “It was such an honour to be your host my lovely lady. Thanks for making my day.”

Mishiida’s jaw drops as she looks on shocked, while the paparazzi make the most of their field day. The limousine arrives, but just a bit too late.

Competition yields no time to the tired and wounded to sit down and lick their wounds. It rather demands a constant expense of toil and commitment. One can refocus and re-strategize, but one cannot afford the competition a clear run and not get left way behind.

It has been an uneasy flight sitting right next to Mishiida who’s even mustered a tear or two. It hasn’t been a trip she was ready for. It hasn’t been the side of humanity she has so far seen. But we can’t help but fear the worst is about to come. So we tip toe behind her as she slowly makes her way to Alex’s room. We can sense it is going to be a learning experience for her, about how a man’s brain works.

Mishiida’s walk even though slow, hasn’t been quiet enough to have escaped Alex’s notice, but no one has come rushing to the door to greet her. Instead Alex stays sitting on the side of the bed, his face held in his palms and elbows resting on his knees. Mishiida initially stops by the side of the door, reclining by its’ side for support, but when Alex doesn’t move, she makes her way to him and puts her hand on his shoulder. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprising he doesn’t move, and the reason is not hard to understand. The morning news paper lying on the floor in front of him has a full front page picture of Mishiida in Mr. Garcia’s arms, and a small inset picture of him planting his ugly lips on her beautiful cheek. And Alex will not move.

Mishiida finally breaks down inconsolable and starts crying as she collapses into a heap by the side of the bed. Alex barely raises his face out of his palms, his eyes red, swollen and flowing.

The few moments that have elapsed since we arrived in this room have felt like an eternity so far, with both sides sticking to their own individual water cannons. Finally Mishiida’s patience breaks and she gets up and decides to run out of the room. But suddenly her feet begin to fail her as she begins to stumble. And finally Alex looks and gets up.

“Mishii, are you alright,” Alex exclaims as he rushes towards Mishiida.

Mishiida however grabs her head in one hand and faints. Luckily she falls straight back into Alex’s arms.


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