As Vidya jogged to reach Orfer’s door, it revealed an impatient Orfer ready to risk it all as he stood, waiting. He wasn’t pleased to know a rookie mistake was going to lead to the collapse of the system if it was not under control. He summoned her inside as he sat. Vidya remained expressionless, looking out of space and unsure of the outcome while her hands tied to the back were dripping with sweat.
“Do you know what you have done, Officer..what is your name, again?”
“Officer Vidya..do you have any idea??”
“I want you to look me in the eye. It’s a very serious issue and everything but rather than trying to get mad, I want swifter action to solve the problem. I’ll get straight to the point. Why did you assign Bastian to the subject that was chosen? Tell me!”
Vidya blinked continuously. “Umm..it..uhh-”
Orfer slapped the table hard with rising indignation that shocked Vidya out of her senses. “I said I wanted an answer!”
Vidya shut her eyes in defence, trying to maintain balance while rapidly stammering, “ I just thought since it was simply a punishment of sort...I assigned a simple one! Umm, sir!”
“A simple assignment. Yes, it is very simple. The kind of variables are quite similar too. A girl pinning for understanding, feeling miserable where she is and everything but this subject leans towards the ability of change! The ability to be a better person! You hear me?? Bastian is a Class A Drapha….and is immensely flexible even under the most rigorous circumstances. There is a reason why we assign the most rigid, problematic ones to him. But if you look at the patterns in his current assignment, it is otherwise! Do you know the consequences that can occur considering that he’s a Class A?”
Vidya simply looked at the ground, each of Orfer’s raging words stinging her blind mistake.
“You assigned the wrong assignment, Vidya! If he knows, everything that makes him vanishes in seconds!!” Orfer heaved a sigh, rubbing his chin. “How many assignments have you worked for until now?”
“Ummm,” she muttered, scratching her neck. “Around forty, sir.”
“And you are telling me you made this stupid mistake? Would you like to go back to training?” he grunted as he hit the table again which induced Vidya to stagger back a few steps. Pin drop silence lasted for around half an hour before Orfer spoke up, “ Y’all giving me a pile of headaches within the past few weeks...Grab your notes, whatever you got on Bastian as well as get Bastian’s file from the Record Archive. I’ll let them know I’ve given you access.”
The hallway thundered as Vidya ran while Orfer rested back on his chair as he mumbled, “This is going to be a long day…”
“If this is the rate at which I’m going to work on my assignment, I’ll be dead before I retire in luxury,” Bastian commented as he looked at Haruhi who was sitting opposite to him. Quincy had dragged them both, partly kidnapping them to club Luna at Marune. Now, he was one among the crowd, like a needle in the haystack but there’s was just something about a particular shiny blonde messy head pacing fast through the crowd like a red laser dot. That’s Quincy, darned sure.
“Don’t worry. I’ll provide you enough workplace conditions,” she said as she was texting on her phone.
“Hahaha. Very funny,” he said, sipping on lime soda. He wasn’t in the mood to get drunk. “Yo. What’s wrong with Quincy? He seems a little..moody for the past few days..”
“Everyone’s got bad days, I guess,” Haruhi replied, not looking up from her phone.
“The thing is I know Quincy. That..that thing is not Quincy,” he said as he pointed towards the blonde dot dancing with some ladies on the floor, “That’s some alien covered in my friend’s skin.”
She glanced briefly at Bastian’s pointed finger and said, “I thought the both of you charmed ladies like honey attracting flies..”
Bastian frowned in mild annoyance. “That is our job, Miss Haruhi. Yes, we sound like a freaking escort service but we didn’t ask to be assigned with ladies that require charming!!!”
“I wonder what would happen if y’all were assigned men..”
He pondered. “The same, obviously! It has never happened before...I should take the disguise of an old dude who becomes a godfather of sorts, supposedly. Makes more sense..anyways..umm..yes! I have a question for you, Miss Haruhi!”
“Yes, Mr. Bastian! What can I do for you?” she asked briskly.
“Why is that boy slacking? Like is it not your job as a stationed Drapha of the country of Lessa to discipline active Draphas!!”
She looked at Bastian’s ‘caught-in-the-act’ face and sighed. “He, I mean, he..didn’t he tell you?”
“Tell me what??”
“He’s on vacation.”
Bastian’s eyes were ready to pop out and live a life of their own. “Vacation??? You mean, he isn’t assigned??”
“Oh my god! Why didn’t you tell me??” he asked.
“I figured, since both of you were friends..he would have told you!”
“And what’s with Orfer allowing his sub-ordinates to party?!” Bastian pressed on.
Haruhi got offended. “Why are you yelling at me?? Ask whoever is responsible! Geez, dude!”
“Thanks for the info! I’ll be back after grilling Quincy!” Bastian said as he got out of the booth. Haruhi barred him from stepping further away.
“Wait!” she yelled, “You said you needed workplace conditions, right? Better get that going instead! I’ll take care of Quincy!” With that, she submerged into the crowd.
Workplace conditions?? He looked around puzzled then staggered back a few steps as soon as his eye caught something out of place. Erska and two girls of her posse were making their way towards him from one corner of the room. Erska was waving, frantically as she neared Bastian.
“Hey!” Erska exclaimed in an almost brisk scream.
“Heeeyy…what are you doing here??” Bastian dragged.
“A complete coincidence, right?? I was around this area and Haruhi texted me that both you and Quin-Quincy? Like the three of chilling was just boring and so, she invited me out!”
“In this area?” Ira asked, leaning against Erska’s shoulder, “Apart from the fact we aren’t properly dressed, we came all the way from Leisure!! She’s a lying twat, Bastian!!”
Erska forced a smile, jabbing Ira’s abdomen with her left elbow. Ira let out a slight yelp and continued, “You are simply like everyone, Erska dear. You see a man, you fall for him too deep..”
Bastian stood there grinning sheepishly, scratching his head.
“But then again you’ve got good taste in men. I like them with long hair too,” commented Shania as she winked at Bastian.
“Shania!!” Erska exclaimed in a high pitch, rubbing her cheeks to hide the rising heat.
“Anyways,” Shania said as she linked arms with Ira. “ We know the cues. So, we’ll leave you both alone! See ya both!!” In an instant, Shania was yanking Ira in the opposite direction who was protesting the unfairness of not being able to party. It happened so fast that Erska was left dumbfounded. She turned around to see an equally awkward Bastian.
“Huh..don’t my friends..” she managed.
“Oh..umm..have a drink..” Bastian said, leading her to his booth, “What would you like??”
“Some hot chocolate if I can but obviously not possible…I’ll have whatever you’re having..” she replied, peeking into his cup.
“It’s just lime soda. You don’t want anything strong??” he asked, offering her.
“Nah,” Erska said as she shook her head, “I require to be sober if I’m going to be talking about something serious…”
“Serious..like?” he asked, leaning forward.
“About my novel”, she said as she sipped, “Oh wow! That’s sugary!”
“Do you want me to get you something else??” Bastian asked as he got up.
“No no...I like it this way. Anyways back to what I was saying – my novel….okay, I’m not sure how to say this..umm”
“Don’t mind. Let it be as confusing as possible. Just get those words out,” Bastian encouraged, nudging her.
“So, it’s complicated but here we go..”, she said as she took a swift gulp of soda and exhaled. “ As I-I’ve told you already I’m struggling with my second novel..you know it’s supposed to be a sequel and stuff but the truth is I’m not feeling the characters anymore which means I’m unsure how I’m going to work on with it…” she said, biting her lip.
“So, you want to halt your things but you still want to push for a second novel somehow?” Bastian asked.
“Umm more like…I want to stop working on this...I think..and probably start something new..??” Erska said, doubtful of herself.
“That’s great!! You’ve made a decision!! Now all you’ve got to do is start putting your energy in this and forget all about the confusion you’ve been going through..” exclaimed Bastian, clapping his hands.
“Aaaaah….but there’s a problem…” she dragged as she rubbed her forehead in frustration. “It’s going to be hard to convince my mother…can I have something more strong?” Erska asked, pushing her cup towards Bastian.
“What do you want?? Tequila or vo-?” Bastian asked seriously, checking the bottles one by one that was placed in an ice bucket. Almost instantly, Erska grabbed the nearest bottle that her hand could reach and took a swig.
“Woah. Woah. Let’s talk,” Bastian said, trying to reach for the bottle that was in her hand. She dodged him and took one more swig. Wiping her lips, she said, “Let me have this moment. I promise I’m not going to get drunk. You wouldn’t have to drive me home…Okay, so..where did I leave the conversation at?”
“Something about your mother…” Bastian said, dubious as he scratched his temple.
“Aaaah yes! My mother!” Erska exclaimed as she hit the table, “It’s going be hard to convince her…so, you trying to help me isn’t going smoothly as you… want it to...if that is what you are trying to do by being annoying..”
“I refuse to believe that. Anything is solvable. I can move mountains. Your mother hasn’t tried me yet,” Bastian replied briskly, smiling brightly, hoping that his positiveness would ooze and stick to her.
“Whatever!” That’s all!! I’m just going to push the sequel somehow or I’m not going to write for the rest of my life!!” she said as she drank the rest of the bottle, patting her chest. Bastian caught hold of it causing it to tremble, the drink spilling and bottle slipping out of Bastian’s hold as it cracked into teeny bits.
“Okaaaaay..this is not going very well…” Bastian said as he tried to get hold of Erska, sliding his arms across hers as he supported her. Half drunk, the sudden clamour brought Erska back to her embarrassing reality. “Looook…I can walk. Don’t worry..” she said as she refused Bastian’s help. Two steps forward and her feet were already on the way to an awkward ramp walk. Bastian followed her cautiously as they walked towards the entrance.
“You see, Bastian,” she said as her cheeks grew visibly pink, patting him on the arm with one hand while the other patted her chest, “I need my mother’s permission. End of story.”
“What do you mean mother’s permission?? That’s ridiculous! You are a fully grown woman!!”
“I knowwww…” she said, pinching his cheeks, “Obviously, I’m not an embryo. But Alice does what she got to do…”
Bastian’s repulsiveness was on full display, his facial muscles responding to the displeasure. He wasn’t getting a hang of babysitting adults, in the recent present, specifically.
“I think Erska..that you aren’t convincing enough…” he replied politely.
She turned towards him. “You don’t know her, do you?”
For a moment, her eyes stayed still, unmoving and fixated as it gazed into his. A teary cover enveloped her dark orbs which she wiped casually as she ran her fingers through her purple strands.
“You can’t blame another person for what you want to do, Erska. Everything lies in your hands,” he said.
“May-maybe….I’m not so sure..” Erska said, patting her chest again but this time she tried to clasp it hopelessly as she began to hit herself vigorously, losing balance.
Bastian’s pupils widened at the sudden horror, his hands swaying as he reached for her. Erska’s body fell sideways and hit the ground, unconscious. A crowd gathered while Bastian shouted for a glass of water. As soon as he received it, splashing against her face wasn’t helping. While his mind raced for possible solutions, the manager of Luna had called the medical team from the nearby hospital which soon took control of the situation.
Thirty minutes later, Erska was sleeping like a baby, unaware of the fretting she had caused. Bastian sat looking at Erska as the doctor came inside the room. “She needs to keep her hypertension in check. Her alcohol level seems high which may be due to the fact that she’s just drunk. I’m not sure if she’s under great stress but it is plausible. High blood pressure can often go unchecked and this time, it has affected her quite seriously. Has her family been contacted?”
“Yes, they’ll arrive soon,” Bastian replied as his brain began chugging in a different direction. “And..has this got to do anything with the heart, perhaps..?”
“It can lead to heart failure, heart attack and other similar medical conditions,” he replied.
Medical condition confirmed. So, the next plan would be to navigate her through health and work.