Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Scenes from a Memory

Its an outpost lost in space and time. A frontier noone but the aggressors and the defenders of this fort remembers..And they are not rising in number. Hell even the soldiers here don't seem to have more than a fleeting memory of who or to what end they were fighting for. All they sensed at this moment was the true animal instinct of killing for survival, oftentimes degenerating into a simple base, unadulterated thirst for blood.

This was the setting for Major Anantharaman Krishnan's and Major Sajeendra Das's stand of defiance. They had been through a lot. They went to the academy together. They fought in the inter-planetary war. They were the ones to escort the principal signatories of the instrument of surrender to Mars (Nothing like parading through steets filled with jeering Martian, or "Greater Humans" as they liked to call themselves, to bring two self-respecting soldiers to the brink of suicide).

Ramu was thinking. He also knew that Saju was thinking the same thing. This was their turn to gain what was rightfully theirs - their dignity. All that was stopping them was this this galactic swarm of soldiers. The situation was grim. The food supplies were getting shorter by the day. With the supply lines hit, things were not going to get any better.

It wasn't too rosy for the Martians either. With nothing but acres of shrubery between them and two trigger-happy ace-snipers on a streak of murderous vengeance, they were not in the best of spirits. The Generals, it seemed to the Martian, were opting for the "big-push" strategy rather than using a little prudence. Generals will be Generals.

"Ramu, I am out.", cried Saju from the other side of the barrier. Ammunition was not easy to come by. The pockets of dead soldiers had run out long ago. Every once in a while, brave, desperate, foolish soldiers crept into no-man's land in the hopes of ammo. It didnt matter any more whose bullets they were. Most times they got their butts blown away. Other times they got lucky and the world as these soldiers knew it was at peace for a few more days.

Ramu threw his cartridge. Forty bullets. That was forty less soldiers he'd have to worry about. Saju had always had a keen eye. Barrages of bullets came their way. Once they put their eyes to the scope, it took more than a few bullets whizzing past them to make them flinch. Thing got a little out of hand sometimes. Too many people and too little time meant sometimes they would have to go for their standard issues. Sometimes it was hand-to-hand. They did feel bad to break strangers' necks but then some things had to be done.

Time wears on. How long has it been. days? weeks? months? Now that the war has been won, their treasures won back, they were in a different era with different fights to be fought and different frontiers to be conquered. This time it was the Magrathea. This time they didn't have guns with them. Instead it was strains of algae they were going to use to terraform the planet for human living.

It was a long journey to the spaceship. His mind was blank. He knew how things were going to be. Chances of success were remote. The actual travel was going to be a cakewalk; unless something really disastrous happened, they were going to sleep through most of it. Once there, they would be in-charge of strategically placing these strains to absorb the atmospheric gases and enrich it with water and oxygen.

As the boosters roared to life and he jerked in his seat, all he could remember was the conversation he had with his boss. He had asked her for cyanide in case he needed it if something went awry in there. All she said was," You don't need that. All you have to do is get into space and open your visor. You would not know what hit you. You know why. Because you would be too busy evaporating."

The injustice of it all...

(Author's note: What can I say. I even dream H2G2. I have a problem!)


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