“Those three red dots are the three possible locations that we must really take a look at,” a man with Dr. Alfred says while they stare intently at a screen with a map on it.
“Why those three?” Dr. Alfred says.
“They are the three locations in which our drones picked up the strongest signs of life,” the man says. “It only makes sense to start there.”
“Dr. Blay, are you paying attention?” Alexandria asks sternly as the camera zooms in on one of the locations.
“What? What?” I say as I basically admit to myself that I honestly heard nothing of what they were talking about for the past five minutes. My new muscles are distracting me too much.
For the past month or so, Dr. Alfred and I have been in the gym trying to get into peak physical condition for this upcoming mission. I was given the option to choose from many reputable fitness trainers but I just couldn’t look past Angela and as you can see, working out with her has really paid off. My new guns are too awesome.
“Like I just said,” she says as she scowls at me and repeats what the man just said, “the three possible locations in which we may be able to gather relevant information for our mission are three caves just due north, north-east of that cave and east of here.” She clicks on one of the locations and it shows more in-depth information about one of the caves.
“But Alex,” I say and they all turn to look at me. “How are you so sure that my ring is in any of those those caves you are talking about1?” That was a bit selfish.
“This mission isn’t just about you Dr. Blay,” she reprimands me.
“Aren’t we at least going to look for it?” I say.
“Look,” she says. “We have many important things to do on this mission so when we are done I’m sure there will be enough time to look for your ring.”
“Oh, so now looking for my ring, which it’s even your fault that it got missing in the first place, is no longer a priority?” I say maliciously.
“What do you mean it’s my fault?” she asks with anger in her voice as she draws in closer to me.
“I mean,” I say as I step back, “That it’s your fault that Dr. Whitford threw the ring out anyways. I don’t blame him, I blame you instead.” It’s not until those words leave my mouth do I realise how confounded that was. I’m just frustrated right now.
“What do you mean you blame me?” she says with real venom in her voice.
“I mean it’s your fault.” Why am I still talking? “Do I have to spell it out for you?”
“Don’t start with me Dr. Blay,” she says with a bit of hurt in her voice.
“I will start anything I want to and finish...”
“That’s enough out of you two!” Dr. Alfred breaks up our argument as we turn away from each other and begin to sulk. “I have had enough of you guys constantly bickering like children. What is going on with you guys?”
“Nothing,” I say and start to feel very bad inside.
“I don’t care who started it! All I want is for it to end!” he says as we continue to sulk with folded arms. “We are about to go out of the Underworld into largely unknown territory so we need to stick together and this isn’t the time to be fighting over irrelevancies. Dr. Blay,” he says as he turns to me, “We will try to find your ring alongside the other things we have to accomplish, okay,” he says and I nod. “Now, I don’t want to hear anymore quarrelling from you two, we need to be a united front to survive out there.” He walks away to examine something on the screen then glances back at us.
As we continue standing there sulking with arms crossed, I take a glance at Alex and notice that there are tears in her eyes as she stands there staring into empty space. Did what I just said hurt her that much? I was just mad, I didn’t mean any of it, of course but obviously she can’t know that. I must swallow my pride and apologise to her.
“Alex?” I say softly as I stand behind her and place my hand on her shoulder. She refuses to answer me and drags her shoulder away as a tear rolls down her cheek. “Alex, look, I’m sorry for what I just said. It was stupid and I was just angry and I spoke without thinking. I didn’t mean any of it. Can you please forgive me?” I say pleadingly to her. Initially, she refuses to answer but as I walk away, she turns to me and says.
“So you’re not mad at me?”
“Of course not Alex,” I say as I turn back to her and wipe some tears from her eyes. “Why would I be mad at you?”
“I don’t know. It just sounded as if you blamed me for what happened,” she says with more hurt in her voice.
“I don’t blame you Alex, believe me,” I say. “I blame that bastard Dr. Whitford. Do you forgive me?”
“Of course,” she says as she draws in for a hug and I oblige as I feel her warm body grab mine and her red hair that smells like coconut shampoo is just below my nose and I sniff it a bit. That was weird and unnecessary but I am enjoying it so who cares?
“I’m also sorry for snapping at you like that,” she says while still in my arms. I just respond by stroking her hair as we continue the process of hugging it out.
After a while, Dr. Alfred has had enough so he alerts us of the mission at hand. “As cute as that is, we have work to do guys.” We quickly separate from each other.
“Yes, you’re right,” I say as I straighten out my clothes and walk with Alex toward him. “So what are we discussing now?” I say as we join him at the computer screen.
“We are discussing the post-humanoids now,” he says as he doesn’t look away from the screen. “Alex, please be a dear and triangulate the positions of the three caves and store the data on your communicator.”
“Okay,” she says as she walks over to his side and starts clicking buttons on the touch screen table. As she works away, I decide to speak to Dr. Alfred instead, no matter how unpleasant that may seem.
“So...” I say as I come to stand by him.
“So?” he says without looking up from what Alex is doing on the touch screen table.
“I was just wondering what the odds are that one of those post-humanoid things took my ring?” I say. “What if no one or nothing took it and it just stayed in the sand rusting all these years?”
“According to our extensive studies about the post-humanoids,” he says, “we know that they are attracted to shiny, lustrous objects and they tend to take these back to their ‘lairs’ to purr over like how most animals do.” He briefly looks at me then back to the screen.
“Gold doesn’t rust Dr. Blay,” Alex says without looking up from what she’s doing.
“If you say so Alex,” I say while trying to tease her for being a know-it-all.
“Okay good, that’s enough,” Dr. Alfred says to Alex after she saves the data on her phone or something and hands it back to him.
“So are we done now?” I say a bit restlessly. I want to go home and stare at my muscles some more. Don’t judge me.
“Yes but wait,” he says as I began walking towards the exit.
“I just wanted to tell you that we are meeting in the main conference room in Sector 2 before we leave tomorrow at 6 am,” he says. “I suggest you go pack and tie up any loose ends in case...well you know.” He makes a throat slicing sign and I immediately get an uncomfortable knot in my stomach as he smacks my arm and walks away.
I move to grab my bag from the chair I left it on.
“Alexandria, can I speak to you privately for a minute please?” Dr. Alfred says.
“You’re in for it now,” I say to her as she passes by and walks towards him.
“Oh please,” she hits back as they purposely leave my hearing range and enter a corner. I look over my shoulder as I exit the room to see Dr. Alfred handing a piece of paper to Alex. I pause and listen intently to enable my super-hearing to kick in. It’s just one of the few abilities that I have gained from all my training.
This is what I’m able to pick up. It may be a bit, murky. “Alex, now you’ve...to listen...carefully,” I hear bits as I keep listening in on their private conversation. “What’s in...letter is absolutely...to the future of the Underworld, now promise me you won’t peek until...dead,” he says and I try to imagine what effect that letter could possibly have on the future of the Underworld.
“I promise,” she says as she quickly grabs the letter and stuffs it into her pocket.
They both suddenly look in my direction so I quickly look away and pretend that I am staring at the young woman at the desk and this works as they both quickly look away and continue talking in a whisper which I can’t quite hear this time. After a while of pretending that I’m staring at the young lady who is getting very uncomfortable, I feel a tiny but firm hand on my shoulder.
“Let’s go Dr. Blay, you can help me pack my stuff,” Alex says as she drags me towards the elevator.
“Wait, what about me?” I say. “I have no idea what I’m going to take along.”
“Even better,” she says. “After you help me to pack, I’ll also help you, deal?” She extends her tiny hand toward me as if we had just come to an agreement after thrashing out a business deal.
“Yeah, deal,” I say while chuckling a bit under my breath and grab her hand and squeeze it slightly like I used to do to Martina; it always drove her crazy. She quickly drags her hand away, smacks me hard and starts rubbing it. She also gives me a death stare afterwards which is all her.
“Fine, let’s go,” she says. “I have a lot of things to pack.” She basically pulls me into the elevator before I could even have the chance to object. She is surprisingly strong for a woman her size, just like Martina was.I really should stop comparing Alex to Martina; it’s very weird to say the least.