Chapter 6 – Innocence

Author’s Note : Thank you, friends and readers, for reading this far. I am going to update as frequently as possible. Any reviews or opinions privately or publicly are most welcome! If you are visiting for the first time,  there are links to the earlier chapters below, you might want to read them ahead of this. 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5


 

2305 AD – Neutral Zone

A month had passed since Brugu had arrived to the launch station. He had made himself accustomed to the routines that the station required them to follow and the strict protocols; social and otherwise, that were considered imperative for day to day activities.

Fifteen days after Brugu had arrived, Rajendra had followed. Rajendra was a queer lad. He was from region D and everyone knew that the region had the most orthodox and superstitious people but even by those standards, Rajendra was queer. Technology positively terrified him. He jumped at the smallest whirr of any machine; he remained reserved and prayed most of the time. He talked to no one, not even to Brugu who spoke Rajendra’s local language fluently too.

He spent most of his time either in the Chapel, where had a inverted a hollow wooden box, and had placed his resident deity’s idol on it and prayed to it; or in the gardens staring at the trees, almost as if talking to them.

Brugu was disturbed by this. Brugu was the exact opposite, however, as well. It was as if he had a quota for the number of people he had to talk to daily, because he talked with anyone and everyone, gleefully jumping around the campus, much to Robert’s admiration and irritation; admiration at the energy the young man had and irritation for the fear of breaking something important – for Brugu, after all, was not to be trusted with technology.

The group had established itself in the place, pretty much, with wildly different characters – the ever excited Brugu, the friendly and enthusiastic Jenny, the morose yet collected Henrikh and the reserved and isolated Rajendra. Robert and his other scientist colleagues wondered what kind of person would come last, and were looking forward for their arrival.

The rocket capsule that was supposed to send them up to their destination was coming around nicely too. They were ahead of the schedule by almost a month – no thanks to Brugu – and were expected to finish the project by the end of the year. The take off was scheduled on December 21st – just 3 months away.

 

***

2000 AD – Uru Monastery, Nepal

The Panchabhuta of the time had all arrived in the monastery for the secret meeting, the third of its kind in the last few months. Suburu had been busy the entire time preparing for each of the sages. All the aides had been restricted the access.

They had been holed up inside the Uru’s chambers for almost a day and a half. Suburu was becoming concerned about the meeting and the happenings inside. He decided it was time to do something about this uncanny silence. He went to knock the door.

“Master? Sages?” Suburu said.

He pushed the door, and discovered that it was unlocked. The door opened with a creak. The sight was nothing he had ever prepared for. In the dim light of the halls in which the Uru spent most of time meditating, eerily casting shadows – seemingly dancing in mirth – were the bodies of all the sages of the time.

The sages of the ages, the ones that were the cornerstones of the era lay dead in front of Suburu.

Suburu ran; he ran like the wind. He had to do the Uru’s bidding. He had work to do. He had to follow the steps.

***

 

2305 AD – Neutral Zone

One day, Brugu was moving quickly along the shores of the water body in the neutral zone. He found a boy – barely eleven at best – on his knees looking up at the sky with his hands in a gesture of respect. He was doing a ritual of some sort. This piqued Brugu’s curiosity. He found a spot on a tree from where he could monitor this kid and what his agenda was.

The kid did not seem to notice Brugu at first. Then suddenly caught Brugu in the eye, he quickly and hastily finished his ritual and ran off into the woods. Brugu tried to follow him, but he couldn’t.

Brugu decided to turn back to the launch pad and headed back that way. It was soon dinner time and Jenny sparked up an interesting conversation and Brugu pushed all thoughts of the boy to the back of his head.

Next day, around sixty-five days before launch day, Brugu again had gone for a walk around the water body. There he was, that kid, again doing his ritual. He noticed Brugu faster this time around and ran away. Brugu again tried to catch him in vain.

This continued for three more days. Until one day Brugu couldn’t find him there anymore. He was surprised for this had become something of a habit for him now. He went back dejected to the launch pad. As he neared the dorms, he noticed the kid standing next to a lamp looking up onto the building. Brugu carefully approached him from the back.

“Hey kid, do you want to go in?” Brugu asked.

The kid was startled, but seemed too tired and worn to run now. “Yes, master said I had to go; but too many people. I am scared” He said.

Brugu took pity for the scrawny kid. He moved towards him in an attempt to get him to join him into the – wait what? Master? Brugu quickly looked at the kid – “Who are you? Are you a sage’s aide?”

“Yes, I am Saleem. I came to join.” He said, slowly finding words. Evidently talking in the common world tongue wasn’t a natural thing for the poor thing.

“Well come on then!” Brugu said cheerfully. “Let’s take you in”, as he walked briskly to the dormitory with the kid on his heels.

 

***