Hovering around in the darker, unfancied portion of the solar system, somewhere between the eccentricities of Saturn and Uranus, an entire platoon of Zara Decimators was getting increasingly frustrated with Zara. To be more accurate, they were the Platoon no.5 of the Zara fleet. They had families and lives after all and who did Zara think he was, deserting the entire platoon in this unremarkable belt of nothingness in the outer reaches of the solar system? “And just who does Zara think he is,” one of the disgruntled employees asked another, “deserting the entire platoon in this unremarkable belt of nothingness in the outer reaches of the solar system?”
“I tell you what, he will have a mutiny in his hand if he does not make contact soon. We have been here for a whole day already. We have to push the deadline back, I tell you. It was too tight to begin with.”
“It was impossible to begin with. Impossible! And now it is just inconceivable.”
“I can’t even begin to conceive just how impossible the task has become.”
Platoon no 5 was supposed to have received the final go-ahead from Zara to proceed with the AI. It was a complex task, as they all were aware off, and the management had given them only four to five days to complete it. And in the midst of it all, Zara, as always, seemed to have gotten distracted or delayed or delayed because he was distracted, and exacerbated the situation. He had been incommunicado all day, and the crew onboard was getting increasingly anxious.
There were talks of a strike. But none of the instigators were able to explain how going on a strike was going to help them complete the inconceivable task on time. One of them tried to explain away the need to complete the task at all, arguing that that was not the point and that it was precisely not completing the task on time that was the point of the whole endeavor. “But then why do we need to strike?” he was asked, “We are going to not complete the task on time anyway.” Someone said, and “We may as well get paid while we not complete the task on time.” So ultimately, the plan to strike was put to rest, not the least because who ever wants a bloody strike to eat into their overtime pay?
Someone else wondered why they could not just proceed with the AI without Zara’s go-ahead. This suggestion raised a lot of heads and was under serious consideration until advance mathematics showed that the sooner they started working, the lower the overtime pays were going to be. This suggestion too, therefore, was put to rest for precisely the same reason as the first one.
A third proposal was put forward that recommended that the crew may revisit their schedule for the next four to five days and see if it can be streamlined into saving time. Without going into too much details, this third proposal too was put to rest for precisely the same reason.
And it was thus that the crew aboard the fleet waited. The more they waited, the more overtime hours they knew they would have to work. The more overtime they worked, the more money they would make. And the more money they expected to make, the more they wanted to get away from this unremarkable belt of nothingness in the outer reaches of the solar system and go party it up in the casinos of nearby Alpha Centauri.
It was during this period of waiting, with each passing moment both appeasing and infuriating the crew about how much wage they were going to draw, as the crew yearned to throw a dice or spin a wheel or shuffle a pack of cards that one of the newer recruits invented the game of cosmic carrom which would keep them entertained and occupied until Zara finally made contact.