Phomoron Galaxy – 160P.
Board room, Administrative block.
The table was pentagon-shaped. It matched the shape of the room it resided in. Its surface gleamed and reflected the massive crystal chandelier hung over it. Currently, the room was inhabited by the assistant, Prong, who was sweating beads of nervousness. He placed individual glasses on the coasters in front of each chair. He arranged the copies of the final report around the table. His third hand mopped his unibrow while the fourth one loosened the tie, the noose around his neck. The meeting was due to start in ten minutes, and a quick look at the crooked clock increased the pits in his many stomachs.
Postmortem analysis of a project was always hard. Doubly so, when the project had failed. He didn’t envy the Project Manager, Flgink, who would be in the direct firing range of the CEO. As the CEO’s personal assistant, he would be subjected to the surface burns, but the bulk was not his to bear. As the final touch, he placed the sparkling bowl of crystals where his boss would be seated.
Please healing crystals, absorb some of Utong’s ire.
The crooked clock chimed, and a tiny human figurine clad in a golfing gear stepped out. It aimed its tiny club at the tee, nine times.
The double doors opened, and his boss entered. He was followed by three others. They each took their allocated seats. Prong was seated to the right of Utong, his boss.
“The meeting is now in session. We have gathered here today to witness and celebrate the culmination of the Operation Dirt-a-ton.”
Utong paused to gaze at the bowl of crystals. They glowered under his gaze.
“As per the agenda, we will listen to the summary and reasons for the failure or success. Post that, an analysis will take place, and we will carry out the required further action. As the CEO of this company, I urge Flgink, the Project Manager to say a few words.”
Hah. Analysis-shanalysis. When pigs fly!
Flgink cleared his throat nervously. “Err. Thank you, Utong. We launched Operation Dirt-a-ton a few decades back. The mission statement was to ensure the atmosphere around planet Earth is destroyed, leading to what the tiny humans termed global warming. The sun would heat their Earth, bit by bit, till it was hot as a furnace. I am proud to say we have had immense success in this area. Their factories, primitive cars, deodorant sprays, etc., were on target to demolish the earth. Annihilate It, even.”
He paused to collect his thoughts. “We faced some opposition from the Earthlings. But the quantity and quality were abysmal. A few humans with the power to peer into the future predicted the climatic erosion, but we ensured that we discredited them. Nothing of importance resulted from their warnings. The glaciers due to our efforts have developed stress lines, and in some cases, have cracked.”
Utong asked, “What happened to the other sub-operation. What was it called?” He snapped the fingers of all his six hands, trying to jumpstart his memory.
“Err…sir. It was called Operation Plant-a-mole,” said Flgink. He looked around the table for support, but found stony faces instead.
“Yes, right. What happened to Operation Plant-a-mole, Flgink?” thundered Utong.
“Serw was the module leader for it. He can provide better insights into it.”
Flingk enjoyed the momentary reprieve.
Serw spoke with confidence. “Utong, our operation was a resounding success. We kidnapped the most powerful man on this earth. We picked up President Notobama Bump from the White House and placed him in Area 51-404. Area-51-404, as you know, is a holographic golf course designed for endless holes. It is programmed to allow the player to cheat, and thereby, win. Every single time. It also bears the kidnaped president’s name on the golf club, Bump Off-Course. My architects also installed a vending machine for diet cokes, and another one called, ‘Spank-a-buck’. It was a major…hit. For the kidnapping, we had to deploy the heaviest crane to pull President Bump over. For a not-overweight human, he sure weighed a ton.”
Plongk cleared his throat, a cue to avoid unnecessary comments.
“That is excellent work, Serw.”
Serw glowed green with pleasure. “In his place, we planted an orange coloured humanoid. It was all very peachy. We had expected the brain-data exchange program to consume more time, but the original Pres. Bump’s brain, we found, was scarcely populated. The transfer to the robot’s mental storage was a quick operation. Mostly mishmash images of his name adorning several building with a few images of whales.”
Utong nodded in appreciation.
Serw continued. “We experienced a streak of immense success once we activated the robot. With the measly filter of the original Bump wrecked, the android could sprout any nonsense, and it would be immediately lapped up by his supporters. Within weeks, the administration led by it rolled back the environmental measures and policies. The policies that were undertaken by the previous tree-hugging administration. Robotic President Bump also permitted drilling in their vast and fragile national parks. After tweaking the robotic synapses, we ensured it pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. But the final cap in our feathers was when he cut the protections for clean water. The ecological system took a major hit on that one, Utong. That was something.”
“Very impressive Serw. What derailed the project?”
Prong was impressed with the immense control Utong displayed.
Leopards can change their spots. Or can they?
Serw continued. “Our perfectly laid plan was about to hatch benefits when some of the pesky humans goofed up. One of our ally countries as per our instructions while working on a prototype…”
Flingk interrupted, “Serw, I think Margu can detail it better. As it was her department that led the country.”
Margu cast Flingk a venomous look, “Thank you for that, Flingk.
“To elaborate, sir. One of our allies, in conjunction, with us were devising a new line of indestructible plastic. When accidentally, their scientists engineered a novel virus. Its virulence was devastating. It infected the entire laboratory, including the test animals. The country under question did not display the requisite speed to control the spread. The microbe escaped the laboratory and ended up infecting the humans settled in its vicinity.”
“How could the virus, however strong, bring the project to its knees, Margu?”
The underlying malice in Utong’s voice made Margu shiver.
The lid of Pandora’s box has been raised.
“Sir, the virus as such didn’t bother us. We were betrayed by the incorrect and misleading information the country leaked out. They underplayed the virulence and spread of the virus till it was apparent they were lying. They misled us to believe it was under their control. By the time we were ready to react, the microbe had infected every other country. It had reached a global pandemic stage. The virus was –is, so potent, that even our laboratories struggled to contain it.”
“I am still looking for the answer to my question, Margu. How could a tiny living organism defeat us, the masters, at our own invented game?”
Margu visibly shivered, “Humans called it the Novel Corona or Covid-19. It was –err…is, an offshoot of the SARS virus. The pathogen itself was not the reason our project failed, but it was let down by its after-effects. The microbe spread at an alarming rate, and the survival after the contraction was very bleak. This double whammy forced governments all around their planet to declare, what they termed, a lockdown. All humans, except for their medical staff and delivery personnel, were not permitted to leave their houses. Primitive jailing, if you please.”
“I do not please at all.”
“Yes, err…sorry. So due to this lockdown, humans, vehicles, and all forms of activities had to be terminated. This visibly reduced the pollution on their planet. The lack of carbon emissions from their vehicles and factories played a major hand in it, sir. Also, this inactivity from humans gave their struggling flora and fauna a new boost of life. Corona has been very devastating for the inhabitants but sort-of beneficial to their host. The hole in the ozone layer, an event that we painstakingly laboured over, has healed and sealed itself. The pollution levels on earth are fairly low. Not to say, the project was a complete failure, the lockdown had its uses, but very soon the humans will return to work.”
“What is the status on that?”
Flingk spoke up. “Utong, our scientists have been burning the midnight oil over this issue. The virus was deceptive, and its mutations set us back. But I am happy to announce we are very close to a vaccine. We have provided the formula for it via our moles in the human laboratories. By the time 2021 rolls in –we will vaccinate most of the planet. And once that happens, they can return to their primary role of causing massive damage to their planet.”
“What about Tump?”
“Bump. Which one Utong, the original or the robot?”
The top is simmering…
Flingk glanced down at his coiled hands. “The robotic Bump, as per his party’s statement, will continue as president for another four years. Which is very good…”
Utong’s eyes darkened –all six of them, till their pupils jutted out. They glowed like phasers*. The pupils emitted a blast of red light, speeding towards Flingk, who was still speaking with a downcast head. Before he could realize what happened, he was vapourized. Wisps of his being fluttered away. A trail of smoke reached a recoiling Margu. Prong’s hands were charred by the residual fire. He blew on them, sighing. The meetings always ended up with him burning his hand. Whether he leaned away from the intended victim or not.
The top blasts off…
“You are fired,” snarled Utong.
Bingo. Another one bites the dust. Or is dust. Poor Flingk. Thank you for nothing, crystals.
“I don’t like failures. I like to win. I like to win a lot, and I don’t get tired of it,” said Utong.
He turned towards Plongk and ordered. “Find another project manager –a capable one, please. I want him or her to lead the revival of Operation Dirty-a-ton-v1. Meeting adjourned.”
With that, he glided off his seat and exited the room. Followed by Prong, frantically blowing on his burnt fingers.
Margu, the newbie, continued to stare at the seat where the charred cushion contained whatever was left of Flingk.
“I don’t understand why Utong want to destroy the inconsequential pale blue dot of a planet?” she asked.
Serw grinned at the empty chair and said. “Don’t ask, Margu. It is an urban legend. Or, if true, a revenge saga. And Utong does what Utong wants. Perks of being the Prime Minister!”
Many earth years ago.
Phomoron Galaxy – 160P
Utong was training his seven-year-old daughter, Jirta, how to ride her first spaceship. She was gung-ho about it. He was accompanied by his son, Ootu, aged five. They got into the pink spaceship, father, daughter, and son.
“When can I ride a spaceship?” Ootu asked, perching on the co-pilot’s seat.
“The day you turn seven, son.”
Once Jirta was ready for her first solo run, Utong instructed her on how to land the spaceship. He was apprehensive of her flying capability. As a normal parent, he worried about her.
“Do not breach the orbit, Jirta. Outside of our atmosphere, there is a geomagnetic field that will trap your disc. Stay within the lines. Repeat.”
“Stay within the lines,” Jirta dutifully repeated.
“Good, now go. Go. Go. Go.”
Ootu started to bawl as they stepped out of the vehicle.
“I want to go, too!”
“Ootu, Jirta has to fly this spaceship solo, son. It is a rite of passage. Why don’t you join me while we watch her take-off?”
“No! I want to go too!”
“Pilots have to be seven years old, Ootu. You can choose the ice cream flavour after the test ride. What say?”
Ootu nodded with reluctance. Utong’s phone trilled as Jirta snapped the seatbelt in. Utong, distracted by the call, didn’t notice Ootu sneak into the spaceship. Jirta’s attention was on the dials as she concentrated on the fly sequence. She didn’t observe it, either.
“Ready…1…2…3. Take off!” screamed Jirta.
He watched Jirta ascend, and his sextet eyes shone with pride.
“Your sister is something, ain’t she, Ootu?”
He put the phone away and turned around to find the space next to him empty. His breath quickened as realization sunk in. His blood turned into liquid. His son was stowaway!
There was silence. Utong gazed up, where the wobbling spaceship abutted the atmospheric edge. There, it wavered for a while, as if making up its mind. With a sudden burst of speed, it rammed through the invisible divider. The magnetic field sucked it up and sent it hurtling down Earth’s atmosphere. The spaceship appeared pitiful, a David amongst the Goliaths.
“No!” His scream echoed off the empty hangar.
Roswell, Nevada, Earth.
The Pentagon concealed the flying disc, painted bright pink with its two alien inhabitants deep within its secret belly. All evidence of the crash was buried. Their scientists were ecstatic. The opportunity to see not one but two live aliens rarely presented itself. A war of words was ignited over the experiments they wanted to conduct. The aliens were moved into huge storage jars, where the cowered. The smaller one clung to the older one, crying piteously. Their cries grew more fervent as the scientists started their experiments.
Phaser: A Star Trek gun used to stun the opponent.
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