Chapter 11 – Debris and Blood
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.
“Watch out” said Robert as he stared intently at the path optimiser. They had hit their first asteroid field. And it wasn’t pleasant. It was full of a wide array of asteroids of varying sizes hurtling down at them with unnatural speeds. And they found themselves smack dab in the centre of it.
“Be careful Brugu, be his eyes, Jenny” said Robert. He had tasked Brugu with the inflight controls for steering while Jennifer was giving the directions. Earlier that day, they had all met up in planning room and tasked themselves of roles. Soon it was evident that Rajendra was pretty much useless in anything mechanical. Henrikh was too much of a rebel. So that left Saleem, Jenny and Brugu. Each had been tasked. Saleem was to assist Robert in altering their path map. They had to remap the way they were taking to their destination. This was very impertinent as if there was a single mistake, it’d mean them going to an entirely unintended place – a place that would have unintended consequences. And obviously, Robert was eager to avoid that.
Brugu had unnatural reflexes, thanks to years of tree climbing and thereby falling, running up and down hills, and a variation of senseless physical attempts. Jennifer, as it turned out had perfect eyesight. So they were tasked with the controls.
Brugu was ducking as he saw an asteroid in his field simulator. Jennifer was yelling “You don’t duck, move the ship. Focus Brugu”
This brought an unintended and a time-inappropriate smile on Robert’s face. He was pleased with his companions. He couldn’t have thought of a different set of people to be stranded helplessly in space with – a terrible thought but an oasis in a barren desert, as it were.
“Hang on just for a bit more, we’re almost out, I can see a way out” Brugu said, as he moved the delicate controls veering the ship towards safety.
As he said that, the last couple of asteroids raced towards them – or they raced towards it, what was the difference – And then they were out.
Everyone cheered and a bunch of happy hugging ensued. They knew this would be a short lived respite. But they wanted to take these victories one at a time. There was someone who was cheering. He had his back to them. He was still mapping out on the screen, the path he wanted them to take. Robert was working almost feverishly – demented and determined.
Jennifer noticed the air change around him. He was almost like a man possessed. She wasn’t sure it was a good thing. But they could only watch. They were at a loss for words. They couldn’t find words just as Robert seemingly couldn’t find emotions.
Blood dripped from his knuckles. Patrick stood breathing heavily. He was standing over a man. A badly beaten man who was repeating the words “I don’t know, I swear I do not know.”
Cherrie said “Maybe you do, maybe don’t you? Tell us a name, please won’t you?” cheerfully.
Patrick sighed “This isn’t the time or the occasion for mouthing off lousy poems Cherrie. Focus”
Cherrie stomped her foot throwing a tantrum “You are a kill joy Patrick!”
“I’d rather be a killjoy than be killed, Cherrie. Riley expects results by tomorrow and we are running out of people to punch”
“Maybe tenth is the charm?” Cherrie said and she shot the man whimpering under Patrick. “Next” She yelled.
The orderlies brought the next monk – The next person who can be questioned – The next punching bag. Patrick sighed and Cherrie clapped cheerfully.
The man kneeled on the floor. He belonged to Judaism. Everything about him pointed to that.
Patrick said – “Where is your sage. Where can I find him”
Before he could open his mouth, a kick fell on his stomach and he lurched coughing. “What was that for, at least let him speak” Patrick said.
“What…I was bored!” Cherrie said.
“Where is your sage, tell me and make it fast.” Patrick said as he closed the door.
Riley stood on the balcony breathing the fresh air – atleast as fresh at it could be. He turned back as Patrick approached him. He smiled.
“Yes, my friend. I hope the blood pool the men had to clean up in the interrogation room led to something.” He asked.
Patrick looked up and said “I did what it took, Riley. Yes I got a location. We can move towards it as soon as we get our gear ready.”
Riley was pleased. “Good”, he said. “Move according to plan. Take Ramsey, Stevenson and Pike with you. They will be assisting you in your task. Report back as soon as you are done. I will be waiting”
At that note, he turned and left leaving Patrick alone in the balcony. Patrick turned and looked out into the world around him. He had come a long way from where he once was – at great personal cost.
As the sky fell and darkness replaced it, he wondered what lay waiting for him once all this was over – if all this was over.