Friday, December 30, 2016

The Blue Stone

Krishi breathed in the air again and savoured that feeling. Because the air here was.....pure. Not noxious like the ones that they had to breathe in when they were in the outer caves which they had to pass to sneak their way inside the Dome.

"STOP"

The sign board before him read as Krishi saw a group of Androids.

"Androids ahead," Krishi said loud enough to carry to the back of the passenger craft. And then Krishi got out of the stolen craft and stopped. Theirs was the only vehicle on the road. The roads had very little traffic. But considering that there were hardly more than a few thousand inside the Dome, Krishi was not very surprised with that.

"Specify reason for visit." The steel eyes of the android studied Krishi as Krishi had swiped the illegal card which he had purloined from a Upper Level Member the evening before.

"Provision Delivery." Krishi said struggling not to wince, thumbing at the craft behind him. He had been injured in the shoulder real bad yesterday, in another 'incident'. The problem was that the shoulder was throbbing real bad and Krishi could not understand why that was so. Krishi had been injured a lot. As an Outsider, that was almost the norm, which was why it was helpful that he healed fast. Except this injury and of course the scar on his right hand which he had since the time he was little.

But then none of these thoughts actually made its way to his conscious thinking. Because Krishi was studying the Androids. These damned Androids seemed to be upgrades. There was a high chance that they could actually sense that he was injured and continue further scanning of him or the craft that he was driving. Krishi knew that he could not have that. Not now.

If these Androids had been humans, Krishi knew that he would be long done in. His face was a dead giveaway. Any human would have known almost immediately that Krishi could not be an Upper Level Member. He neither had the money to bring himself as part of the locality and according to his educational reports he was supposed to have an 'addled brain' - one that could neither be taught nor learn. Which was why he was abandoned as an Outsider – the one who does not belong inside the Dome, along with thousands of people like him.

And then there was the Dome. The Dome. The one goal of all the Outsiders.

The Outsiders were all forced to live outside the Dome. The Dome which kept the harmful radiation away from the humans after the destruction of the ozone layer.

Right now, inside the Dome, the Uppers hardly wanted to waste any time checking the roads, which was why they created the Androids to man the roads and the Androids were created for one purpose – Shoot any person not having the Upper Level Member Card.

And frankly Krishi was not even surprised. But he was sadly curious. He could not believe why the Uppers who were after all humans just like them, would deny the Outsiders the opportunity to stay inside the Dome. The reasons which the Uppers gave to deny Outsiders from joining the group ranged from abysmally stupid to apparently wrong. But then nobody had the guts to point it out to the Uppers. The Uppers made the law and that was that.

Krishi looked at the Dome again and realized that the shield was a brilliant transparent shade letting the sunlight come in without letting the air come inside. They probably recycled the air inside, which explained why the air was so pure here. The Dome was the only place on earth right now where people could actually roam around in daylight because of the shield and more importantly where any plants could grow.

"All parameters met. Let the craft pass," the Android told Krishi, who nodded and took the card back. He was not sure whether he could use it again. But it made sense to keep it with him. He never knew when he was going to need it again.

Krishi was about to get inside the craft again, when he saw a convoy coming.

Swearing angrily, Krishi slipped inside the vehicle. He banged on the craft wall behind him. "Keep silent. A convoy of Uppers is right next to us." Krishi said tightly, as he was trying to comb his unruly hair and was pulling his shirt open to cover all his scars on hands. Already there was hardly any noise from the prisoners who were inside his craft. And now in the following silence, Krishi could almost feel their fear - the human prisoners of the Uppers.

None of them knew what experiments the Uppers carried out on the captured Outsiders in their "Institute". Only one thing was clear, any Outsider who were sent to the Institute were never seen again. Ever.

"I am unlocking the panel to the driver seat," Krishi said as the Stop sign before him by the Androids had still not been removed. "If the convoy stops me, one of your get in the front and drive the vehicle away." Krishi said pressing the button to unlock the panel, allowing people from the back of the truck to come to the front.

"You?" A voice came from the back of the craft was listless with barely any emotion. But Krishi did not grudge his passenger that. He had rescued prisoners from the Uppers before, just before they were sent to the Institute and frankly none of them had spoken for weeks.

"I can take care of myself," Krishi said hoping his voice did not shake or that he sounded slightly more confident than this.

"Take care," This time the voice had slightly more emotion and Krishi noted a slight concern in the voice and decided that that was all he was going to have right now.

Krishi heard movement and saw an Android bend down and talk to him through the window.

"Let the convoy of the Elders pass through." The Android told him.

Krishi nodded as he pulled his craft back and let the other vehicle pass. He tried to hide himself back...hoping....hoping....

Krishi breathed a sigh of relief as the craft drove away turning into the next lane.

The Androids had lost all interest in him as Krishi drove away the craft breathing a sigh of relief.

*******

The craft of the Elders stopped in the next street as they watched the craft being driven away.

"Why are you driving the craft?" Kira demanded watching her old grandmother - Madam Alarnia, driving the craft.

"Seems the right thing to do. Especially considering what date it is today," Madam Alarnia said.

"What?" Kira asked confused.

"They were Outsiders," Madam Alarnia told her granddaughter Kira, with a small smile as she pointed at the craft which had driven away. "Though they have the van of the Provision Delivery and the driver is dressed like the driver, they are definitely outsiders. And he had a scar."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Kira asked looking shocked at her grandmother.

"Have you ever wondered why you have had this scar in your hand?" Madam Alarnia asked completely ignoring Kira's question.

Kira saw her hand and frowned as she saw the deeply wedged scar in her hand. "Why is this relevant right now?" She asked.

Alarnia smiled sadly looking at her granddaughter. "You are wise and unlike your uncle you are not cruel!" Alarnia said shaking her head.

"Cruel?" Kira asked, "Are you talking about the Institute?" Kira asked Alarnia sharply.

Kira had fought with her uncle so many times first asking him to open the Dome to all. Her uncle gave no reasons for it. But he refused. When Kira started pushing the people inside the Dome to open the dome, when her uncle had almost had Kira thrown in prison. It was only because Alarnia had interfered that Kira was let go. Kira realized that she could not be openly defiant of her uncle because most of the people inside the Dome supported her uncle.

Kira learnt a very important lesson after that. She still did her work but in the background helping the prisoners escape when they were in prison, before they were taken to the "Institute".

"Do you know what your uncle is trying to find there in the Institute?" Alarnia asked Kira.

Kira frowned and shook her head.

"Open the box, Kira," Alarnia said as she handed over an ornately carved box to Kira.

Kira watched her grandmother stunned, "You asked me never to open it!" Kira said.

"That did not stop you from doing it." Alarnia said with a small smile.

Kira looked slightly embarrassed. "How did you know I tried to open it?" Kira asked.

"Because that is exactly what I would have done if anyone had asked me not to do something," Alarnia said giving a throaty laugh.

Kira said nothing as Alarnia asked her again, "What did you see inside the box?"

"A stone! A blue stone!" Kira said as Alarnia gasped.

"Was the stone glowing?" Alarnia asked Kira sharply.

"It was bright!" Kira said shrugging.

Alarnia was silent for some time.

"Take the box and travel outside the Dome!" Alarnia told Kira.

Kira looked shocked. "What...?" She asked not able to believe what she was hearing.

"Your uncle has not been able to find out whom he wants because he does not realize that power of this kind would not rest in one person!" Alarnia smiled at Kira nodding to herself,"There are two of you," Alarnia told Kira.

"What?" Kira asked again.

"Take the stone kid and find the other man who would have a scar like yours and I am sure that together the two of you can bring down this Dome and also dash your uncle's ambitions," Alarnia said nodding at Kira as she pointed to the Dome in the sky.

Kira looked confused as her grandmother handed over her weapon, pushing Kira out of the vehicle.

"Go now," Alarnia said and then nodded to herself. "But beware of one traitor."

"What?" Kira asked.

But Alarnia gave her no answers as Kira was all alone and her grandmother drove off the craft from there.

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