Chapter 8 – Surprise
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.
2305 AD – 11th December, Neutral Zone
Noah was ready. The dream, quite literally, was one step closer to fruition. There was a fortnight to take off. The launch region was a veritable beehive full of activity. Robert was yelling instructions to everyone he could find about what steps need to be followed next. People did not mind though. The man was the epitome of dedication sleeping only for a couple of hours for the past few years since this project began.
The passengers scheduled to go on this epic quest were given daily training for handling the pressure difference, the gravity changes and other things that need adapting in the space. The estimated travel time was going to be 30 days. They had to go to a planet much similar to our own in constitution, so presumably the atmosphere shouldn’t be very different. But precautions were necessarily and decisively taken nevertheless. Robert took great pain to calculate possible tweaks their suits and gears might need.
The preparations were on full swing. Everyone had their eyes forward, towards the goal with renewed vigor and fervor. Hope does this to people, no matter how farfetched and outlandish it might be.
2305 AD – Brugu’s Room, Neutral Zone
Brugu was on his bed thinking about the happenings in the last couple of years. Things had dynamically changed very quickly. He was good at coping with change, it was almost in his genes but even then this was too much to digest for someone so young. He suddenly remembered the emerald sphere that he had gotten in the forest in his region. He fondly remembered Chetak.
He missed his lovely little dog. It took a lot to resist bringing Chetak to the journey with him. He wouldn’t have survived the travel. He wouldn’t be allowed to go and Brugu did not trust anyone with his dog except for his sister. Lost in such thoughts, he absent mindedly played with the green sphere. It always seemed like it shone in the nights, much to Brugu’s fascination. There was a thick veil of smoke inside the sphere that seemed alive.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack on his dorm room door and sounds of someone scratching the door. Brugu quickly got up, slid the sphere into his pocket, picked up his monk stick, and edged closer to the door. Slowly and as quietly as he could, he unbolted the door and swung it open ready to swing if needed.
Much to his surprise and elation, there stood Chetak, wagging his tail. As soon as he saw Brugu, he quickly let out a loud bark and jumped onto his master; then licked his face clean like he had done a million times before.
“How did you get here boy, who brought you here?” Brugu asked, overjoyed.
Chetak just wagged his tail and took in as much of his master as he could. Both of them lay there with Chetak alternating between wagging his tail, barking, licking Brugu clean.
Listening to all the clamor, Robert came running, “What’s this ruckus” he said and stopped at his tracks when he saw the scene that had unfolded in Brugu’s room.
“Where did this dog come in from, who let it in?” He asked angrily. Dogs are natural germ carriers and chaos makers. Anything misplaced or meddled with would end up in years of hard work being wasted.
“I don’t know. He’s a clever dog, but how he came all the way from my region to this place escapes me” Brugu said, still elated; then thought a little and said “Would it be possible to bring him along with us. I am sure he would be a good boy, won’t you Chetak?” He asked rubbing Chetak above the neck the way he liked it.
Robert was livid. His entire being was against the idea of a dog coming to such an important mission. It went against his methodological scientist approach. The answer to Brugu’s question was obvious to him, but before he could voice the words, Jenny came rushing into his room and said “I thought I heard a bark – Oh wow, where did this guy come from!” – And with that promptly gave a hug to Chetak.
After a bit, she said “What’s he called?”
Brugu who was watching this entire episode with glee said “Chetak, In fact I was just asking Robert if we could take him along.”
Jenny was excited by this proposal, she said “Oh that would be wonderful. I am sure he won’t mind”
Robert was perplexed. He liked the two of them. He did not want to hurt their emotions, yet he did not want the dog aboard. He was in a bind. He looked at the two pairs of eyes staring at him with excitement and joy, he caved.
“Alright; But we need to build a cell for the dog to be stashed during the flight. I won’t have it any other way.” He said
“Thanks Robert, you’re the best” Said Jenny as she quickly gave him a hug.
Robert was flustered. He quickly welcomed her and left the room. Outside he met Henrikh who was looking at him intently with eyes that seemed to be weighing him, but then the kid was weird, he always did that. Brushing off any feelings of attrition, Robert went back to his office; he had to build a dog cell now, perfect!