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Mishiida Alexander

Stalking Shadows

“When shadows lose your trust, pitch black becomes your friend.”

Chapter fourteen: Thin air thicker mist

Poor lives the king that hath no friends, rich shall die a beggar who finally will have no use for money. Life is an equation of reciprocity. What one doesn’t have determines what one desires, and what one has determines what others want from one. Problems arise when what is sought is dear to the one holding it, and is not available for sharing. Problems are resolved when either the need has been fulfilled, or the need has been let go. Between these two resolutions lies the conflict. And conflict has a rule; the need will consume the equals and leave the balance. The choice really is between the need and the equals at stake, thus determined by which of the two is greater. The king wears a crown that is not open to sharing, and a beggar only seeks what could be spared. Thus while a king’s need is beyond fulfillment on account of what others want from him, the beggar will die rich with contentment for he will have no need left to be fulfilled.

But what generally lies beyond fulfillment is often sought with utmost ferocity, and its need is that much more consuming. When shadows begin to appear carrying knives, night becomes the friend that saves mental balance. If one’s shadows are out to kill one, then what kills those shadows is one’s friend of the moment.

The shadows may not rise out of the pitch black, but what emerges out of it is a picture more concerning. It means the conflict has not only breached home, but has breached the person; their mind. And it is mind where all the conflicts are decided, right from their conception. Mr Garcia and Alex, they both have conflicts ragging in their minds, but while Alex is lucky to have a guide now, it’s Jackie who needs to find a way to turn off the light on his own.

But here we are, far from either of the two, across the other side of the Sun, witnessing a battle brewing. Having taken a hit might not be our new acquaintance’s biggest problem at the moment. The fact that both Jupiter and Earth are towards the other side of the Sun definitely is, for it means the first battlefield that can assist this lonely warrior in his time of travail happens to be Mars. Thus he needs to go further to get any assistance from a heavenly body, and yet be nowhere near intended destination. Let’s take a peak outside while our friend in here activates the video images of his surrounding space.

Now that’s interesting. Looks like those six Tyrene crafts that have arranged themselves in a hexagonal shape with weird antennas sticking out of their roofs, are creating some kind of a signal block, which should explain our new acquaintance’s communication system going down. Obviously the Tyrenes wouldn’t want the news of their presence being conveyed down to the Penancthian fleet just yet. And we have four remaining Tyrene crafts, who probably took the first shots, flying way past our friend and turning around to take another shot. Oh boy! Too bad one of them won’t make it anymore. That was a nasty but accurate shot. Is there really no wreckage left, just the residue?

Oh well! We better leave this concern for a later time indulgence or we will be left behind while the battlefield will shift to Mars. That was a good dodge by the Penancthian over there. Doesn’t look like the first hit has done much damage to his craft, but where is he heading to? Mars is at an angle not discernable from his current direction of dissent. Oh! He’s heading towards the eleven kilometer wide rock circling the planet; Phobos, but why?

We get it! He just needed to swing around an object that would protect him from the direct hit so that he could take out three more of the Tyrene Crafts. There goes the hexagon for a spin, now how about that! We can’t help but feel for the Tyrenes, for their stealth crafts are definitely no match for the much more accomplished Penancthian craft involved in this conflict. No wonder we won’t witness a better quality skirmish.

Hang on! That was a bit presumptuous of us. The Tyrenes certainly know a few tricks of their own. As our new acquaintance spins around once more to continue his response, the three remaining crafts from the hexagonal arrangement spin out in three different directions. The three other crafts that made up the original pack of four assaulters, have also flown past our friend and spun around to face him square again. Now while these crafts will take on him face to face, the three that spun out in different directions will converge and attack him from three sides. They are trying to catch him in the middle and take him out. Too bad though, the Penancthian is not bad with his skills either.

As the six Tyrene crafts take their shots, the Penancthian craft ducks much like a fighter craft falling out of the sky, to escape the direct hits coming from the front, and let the multidirectional shot wiz past him. Then he immediately spins up and takes out the craft coming directly from above, and spins down again as he takes out one of the three crafts coming from the original front side. With four Tyrene crafts left to tackle, we agree it’s a good idea for him to take refuge in the red dunes of the planet that lies ahead while the enemy is yet to regroup. They chase him down for sure, but he is able to avoid a few more hits and continue towards the ground.

For once we see a rifle sized Penancthian weapon as he makes a dash out of his craft and towards the rocks, his helmet still on, and just in time to avoid the near obliteration inflicted upon his craft. Three Tyrenes land too, while the fourth one decides to do the aerial reconnaissance. This one chases him down to the edge of the rocks, his laser beams blazing. But the brave Penancthian dodges them all and jumps across a rock, rolls around and takes shelter behind another, avoiding the final shot as the Tyrene craft flies past him. He however wastes no time as he immediately jumps and dashes up across the rocky surface, behind the craft, making sure he finally takes down the one still flying high.

The three Tyrenes who had landed behind him however are in close vicinity now, and they certainly let their handguns roar. Our Penancthian takes cover behind the rocks, and so do the Tyrenes. This one is certainly going to be a pitched battle. Let us rise above to have a vantage position.

So the three are trying to circle him, but he is really close to the one in the middle who seems to be in charge here. And guess who springs the surprise!

The Penancthian lunges high into the air, and before the Tyrene could react lands a massive hit on the Tyrene’s torso with the butt of his rifle. The Tyrene falls on his back but quickly rolls over to get on his feet. And so does the Penancthian, almost in tandem. The moment the two get up, the Tyrene swings a kick that the Penancthian blocks with one hand, while landing a massive hit in the Tyrenes rib cage with the rifle in his other hand. The Tyrene catches the rifle in his armpit but the Penancthian lands a massive kick under his chin, sending him sprawling on his back. The other two Tyrenes rush around and take shots at the Penancthian who lunges and rolls away and takes out the two in two shots as soon as he gets back on his feet.

The last one remaining rolls on his body and tries to get up, but is stopped on his fours with the Penancthian barrel pointed to his head. The Penancthian presses a button by the side of his helmet that retracts back into his body suit, revealing his face for the first time. And boy! Does this face look familiar? Perhaps it does, but where have we seen it before? It is a face that appears important, and the Tyrene knows it too as he is immediately taken aback.

The Tyrene raises his hands in the air and gets up. He says something to which the Penancthian replies, grace dripping in his speech. He says something further in response to which the Tyrene turns around and kneels down. Is he going to kill him?

The Penancthian pulls out a small gadget from a pouch hanging by the side of his waste belt, puts it by the side of the Tyrene’s neck and presses a button. A motionless body of the Tyrene collapses to the ground. The Penancthian then removes two cross shaped gadgets from the Tyrene’s waste belt. He puts his rifle on the ground, grabs the Tyrene’s hand together and places one cross between them. He presses a button in the middle of the cross and two light rays emerge out of the two opposite ends of the cross and bend around the Tyrene’s either wrist, completing a lock with their respective opposite ends. The other cross, of course, is meant for the Tyrene’s legs. So he didn’t kill the Tyrene.

Anyway, we follow him as he runs back to the mangled remains of the craft. He eagerly sets about disentangling the rubble. He is definitely looking for something and definitely wants to finish it quick lest more Tyrenes were to arrive as a backup. But what is he looking for?

Doesn’t take long to find out as he retrieves a box similar to the one Mishiida went crazy about when she had found its’ contents emptied. And this reminds us of where we have seen this face before. He was there in the video that Mishiida showed Alexander when she first met him, in his caravan. He was the third guy honoured behind Mishiida and the conniving general’s son at their passing out ceremony.

Now that we know him, we might as well continue the journey back to the earth with him as he rushes towards one of the three Tyrene crafts at his disposal. He picks the one closest to him, hops in and starts the engines. Immediately the Tyrene Commander Urzartyre appears on the screen and says something. Oh well! There’s not much point in delving upon the issue of what was said or not, but one thing is sure; Urzartyre didn’t like the puckered lips Penancthian made at him before turning off the communication. In earnest we approach earth, and in earnest is the message conveyed to the Penancthian fleet. The Tyrenes' secret is out.

Secret however is not married to surprise, as one might expect it to be. Surprise may not always accompany a secret, for what could sometimes be expected, may nevertheless be someone’s secret. The quality of secret is it being unknown, and the quality of surprise is it being unexpected.

Our friend has definitely done his homework well for he flies directly to the Air Force base at Edinburgh, even though he might still be a few lessons short as he won’t find anyone he needs right here. Downtown Paringa doesn’t appear to be a point of interest in his navigation system.

The commotion at the RAAF base is palpable, for not only is his arrival unexpected, but his vehicle arrived un-detected. But he has nevertheless been extended a cordial welcome as a friend. It might take him some time to get to Mishiida, but there’s nothing stopping us.

It is true that friends are valued more when the need is dire, but real friends are those who can gauge the hardship before it door knocks. Being amongst friends is a blessing, but boon is a heart that can make friends wherever one goes.

“Strength is like rubber that can be stretched between the poles of confidence, motivation, concentration and need,” Surpavitar is guiding Alex, who appears to have really been re-invigorated under his tutelage, as Alex pumps iron much beyond his capacities that we have so far known. Just as he puts down the weight with one last push, Mishiida walks in.

“How are you feeling today,” Alex asks as he gets up, wiping the sweat of his brow.

Mishiida shakes her head acknowledging she’s better, and then takes up Alex’s place on the exercise bench.

“This should be a piece of cake for you,” Alex quips as Surpavitar watches on.

Mishiida lifts the weight but has some obvious discomfort handling it, putting Surpavitar on notice who steps in to assist in case. Mishiida gives the weight a few repetitions before her arms collapse under the weight, surprising us all. A feeble yet painful shriek escapes Mishiida’s lips as Surpavitar quickly grabs the weight off her chest and lifts it up and secures it in the latches.

Mishiida meanwhile curls over and falls off the bench, rolling on to one side, in obvious pain.

“What happened,” Alex by now has lost all his composure as he freaks out and rushes by her side, “Are you all right?”

Mishiida lets out another muffled scream as she rips open her top, and to the shock of us all, young plants sprout out of her chest.

“What the hell is that?” Alex nearly falls back as Surpavitar rushes around to Mishiida’s other side.

Surpavitar quickly takes off his turban and covers Mishiida’s body, and then exclaims, “Let us get her to the doctor.” And we will have to rush behind them.

Wait is agonizing for it puts into suspension what is keenly expected; a result, a hope, a conclusion. The expected becomes subject to the fear of unexpected, and this is what makes waiting so arduous.

The doctors couldn’t say what was wrong with Mishiida except speculate that treating her with random sand samples has probably infected her with plant seeds. Something seems to have weakened her immune response, and the plant seeds accustomed to growing up in nutrient rich Silicon based medium have probably taken a liking to a perfect substrate in the form of Mishiida’s body. This information, although of no use to Mishiida, was of least comfort to us. So here we are, sitting next to Hayley in her room, who is not too happy with the fact that her marriage has been delayed. In this context, it is not all too comforting that the picture of her and Corbett that she is holding in her hand, her index finger nail is resting right on top of Corbett’s last functional eye.

“Where’s boo boo?” Colonel walks in without knocking, and adds to the salt by rubbing Hayley the wrong way straightaway.

“His name is not boo boo,” Hayley vehemently protests.

“Who said so?” Colonel however didn’t seem to take notice as he appears to be pre-occupied with something else, “Where is he?”

“I don’t know who you are looking for,” Hayley steps in front of the Colonel to confront him face on, her hands on her hips, and the picture still in one of them.

“I’m here Sir,” Corbett walks out of the shower.

“Come with me,” Colonel orders him, “We’ve got a lead.”

“Can I change?” Corbett asks.

“Nah, you are alright. Just come,” Colonel quips.

“But I am in a towel,” Corbett points to the obvious state of his undress.

“Fix that later,” Colonel quips as Corbett looks on at Hayley, who turns her face away as if everything was his fault.

Few steps down the corridor and Colonel stops to brief Corbett, “Do you know Roberto Alvarez?”

“The notorious underworld kingpin,” Corbett replies.

“We intercepted a call he made last evening, to Garcia’s secretary,” Colonel informs him, “The content of the call is still indiscernible, but we know the location it was made from.”

“What has he got to do with Garcia?” Corbett asks perplexed.

“That’s what I want to know,” Colonel replies, “The word on the street is that Alvarez was ambushed by some unknown assailants last evening. The news hasn’t been confirmed yet, but I need someone to go in there and find out what happened.”

“And you want me to go check out the location and see if something could be found?” Corbett asks.

“Genius,” Colonel quips, “Now go change into something more comfortable.”

Opportunities are the children of the moment. One has to seize the moment to capitalize on an opportunity. While skill lies in milking the opportunity, luck is the name of the ability to latch on to them as they arise.

“Sir we have a problem,” Jason Whitaker, Mr Garcia’s secretary informs the man just as we arrive at his hotel suite to snoop on his early morning meanderings, “Talia, she’s been chatting.” And Jason shows him the front page of the morning newspaper with the blaring headline; “Garcia is a criminal scumbag”. Underneath the headline is the image of the lady, which if we remember correctly was kicked out of Garcia’s bed the other day, and told clearly to take the money and find a good man.

“That bitch,” Jackie fumes as he grabs the paper from Jason’s hand.

“What do we do now?” Jason asks, “If we do anything, the media will grab on to it and blow it out of proportions.”

“I know,” Jackie exhales hard, then asks, “Hadn’t she started dating that guy who is one insignificant fragment of an insignificant band? We paid her well, didn’t we?”

“We did sir,” Jason nods in agreement.

“There’s possibly more to it,” Garcia junior replies, “Make sure she is safe, for if anything happens to her now, we will be in bigger trouble. Let her know that I will be seeing her this evening, but make sure you do it discretely. I’ll talk to media now. Are they here already?”

“They were here before the kitchen hands working for the restaurant downstairs,” Jason tells him.

Early bird catches the worm, but only if the worm is late in getting back to its’ burrow. Diligence is as much the savior of one, as much it is another’s device.

Garcia was intelligent enough in deflecting the media assault, by claiming how heartbroken he was that Talia dumped him for another man when he was clearly desperate to marry her, and how she is now feeling jealous as he has obviously moved on and tried to hook up with better girls, including Mishiida, thus explaining why she was making baseless accusations against him. He went on to take the higher ground by saying that he is forgiving her and not taking any legal action against her. But besides all this, he has already made sure that Talia is protected against harm caused by enemies in this turbulent time. He definitely suspects more to the situation, so it makes sense that we check up on these two that we are observing now.

“The information is confirmed,” Sir Whittington quips as he puffs his cigar, “He is going there tonight.”

“Everything is set then,” Sir Aldridge quips as he sips his wine.

A kill is made once a hunter has stalked his prey into a corner from where there is only one way out. The choice for the hunted has to be limited to non-existent, for the choice has only to rest with the hunter, of whether to pull the trigger or not. But when a hunter has inadvertently cornered another hunter, the choice is equally absent.

Corbett has left his jeep a fair bit of distance away from the warehouse that witnessed a big shoot-out less than twenty four hours ago. He needs to break in un-detected. Official inspection would have alerted Alvarez’s men, and Rick didn’t want either him or Garcia to get a whiff of how close he has come to them, at least not before Rick manages to lay his hands on something credibly incriminating against Garcia.

A quick reconnaissance of the area with his binoculars has given Corbett a good idea of the solitude of the place. He takes last few sips of water from his bottle, and then leaves the bottle behind.

We follow him as he makes a dash towards the perimeter wall. He carefully inspects the wall for sensors, using a sophisticated camera stick connected to a display unit attached to his belt. Once sure there is no one on the other side of the wall, and having checked the closed circuit camera locations, he scales the wall and jumps in. Pigeons fly out as Corbett tries to shush them in vain. But luckily for him there is no one inside, or so it appears.

Carefully making his way through the compound, he reaches a window looking inside the near empty and deserted warehouse. Shattered glass lies on both sides of the wall, a remnant of the shoot-out. It helps Corbett in releasing the window’s lock and pushing it open.

Once inside, he pulls out his pistol just in case and, carefully scanning his surroundings, makes a slow progress towards the chairs lying scattered on the floor in the middle of the room. The blood spots are still there. They hadn’t been cleaned yet. And then a gun is cocked.


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