The Light is Green
It was a busy day at the BASE airfield as a lot of young men and women were queuing up to get in. Over a 100 security elites at the entrance were checking the passes of the candidates. The year was 2172 and BASE had announced a recruitment drive for a new batch of security elites to be inducted.
2 young men got out of a taxi. After paying the fare, they looked at the entrance and then stared at the queue.
“There must be a thousand people over here. It is going to be a busy day.” Shekhar commented.
“Thousands, eh! I say a million. Think again, a job as coveted as a security elite in BASE… people are ready to die for it, and we have come to live that life.” Said Karan.
“You said it! It is going to be quite an achievement to be selected among these ‘millions’. Let us get to work then.” Said Shekhar.
Karan nodded his head in agreement; they stood in queue and after a long wait of over an hour, they reached one of the inquiring security elites and displayed their entry passes. The security elite checked them and allowed them in.
The people could hear a constant buzzing and boom sound and were confused at the source of it. When Karan and Shekhar entered through the gate, they realized what it was – Giant Super Carriers – passenger cum warships; they stood at a height of about 300 feet and had the capacity to seat about 10000 soldiers.
“So it is true then!” Shekhar exclaimed.
“What is true?” Karan asked, he was still staring at the ships, awestruck.
“BASE’s tradition… transporting the newcomers to the BASE camp in giant carriers. BASE was created 50 years ago, however, this tradition began on the 2nd year of its existence.” Said Shekhar.
“I see. Well, we should be happy to be a part of this tradition… and lucky too.” Karan commented.
He then saw a shop where some people were having snacks.
“Having their fill before they could board the ships, eh! Wait here, Shekhar, let me get something for both of us.” Saying, Karan walked towards the shop and asked for chocolate bars. He paid for it and then ran back to Shekhar.
“We will have it on board. Put those in your bag. Let us rush now. They are going to screen us to check if we are worth being soldiers.” Said Shekhar.
“Months of preparation for this stuff, buddy. There is no way they are going to shatter our dreams and make us go home.” Said Karan.
There were 100 counters where the candidates were being screen tested. Every individual’s height, weight, health and medical background were being checked. What’s more, the system through which the nation was running had the records of every individual present there and the BASE officials had complete authorization to look into the background of the candidate. The screen test was a tough affair though, even the slightest black mark on an individual’s personal record meant the person did not qualify and had to go back disappointed. The person could apply again provided he or she was still under 28 years of age.
Shekhar went into a counter while Karan went into another, both of them qualified on the first go. As Karan came out of the counter, he heard a voice so sweet that he had to turn back.
“Your name, miss?” Asked the counter official.
Karan couldn’t take his eyes of her; he stood over there and continued to listen to the conversation.
“Jennifer Anderson… aka Jenny… that is sweet, I think I will call you that.” Said the official.
Jenny blushed, and Karan could feel his heart melting. Shekhar was seeing this and tapped Karan’s shoulder from behind. The latter was jolted by it and he turned around.
“You want to be dead before being inducted; you can continue staring at her otherwise you better get on that ship before you put us both in trouble.” Said Shekhar.
Karan scowled at Shekhar, the latter was not affected by it as he walked away towards the nearest super carrier and had his bag checked. Karan nodded his head in disagreement and walked towards the same ship. As the official was checking his bag, Karan was still looking back at Jenny.
“These chocolate bars… are they yours?” the official who was checking his bag asked.
Karan was startled again and stared at the official, he answered, “Yes, some snacks before we reach BASE”
“Sorry but no bars allowed. You are entering an area where your health takes centre stage. You will end up having stuffs that you have never dreamt of having, so no unhealthy stuffs inside BASE premises.” Saying, the official threw the bars in to the dustbin.
The others, including Shekhar, heard the conversation and couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Karan felt really embarrassed, however, it was not until he saw Jenny again. The latter was not laughing, but smiling in disbelief at Karan’s antics. Karan now covered his face in shame; he took the bag and walked inside the ship followed by Shekhar who was panting heavily because of laughing so much.
“Seriously, Shekhar! You are laughing at me, yet you were more eager to have a chocolate bar.” Exclaimed Karan.
Shekhar took a deep breath and said, “I accept, Karan. I accept but I couldn’t help looking at the situation that official left you in. It is as though… for a moment, the entire spotlight was on you and the sirens in this airfield would have started buzzing because someone was bringing chocolate bars inside a super carrier.”
“Oh yes! Like I committed a crime or something, I have never been embarrassed like this in my life.” Karan commented.
They searched for empty seats and once they found it, they made themselves comfortable. Once the ship was filled to the last seat, the doors were closed and the pilots started the engines. One of the pilots announced the same and advised everyone to fasten their seatbelts, the candidates did the same and after 3 minutes, the ship took off from the airfield.
“This is it, brother. Our journey starts from here; our dreams are on the verge of being fulfilled. I am still worried about one thing.” Said Shekhar.
“Worried about what?” Karan asked confused.
Shekhar started to explain, “We are going to live a soldier’s life. The eyes and ears of every enemy would be upon us. We are targets now. Millions are spent in making us the ultimate security elites, yet, just one bullet is enough to take away a soul.
What is more, I have studied about the way of living of BASE soldiers. Once the candidates complete their graduation in BASE, they are assigned to different squads. We are sitting together on this ship, however, once we graduate, we might be in different squads. We may never get to meet each other all the time and then, you might go on a mission… and the last thing I know, I may get the news that… you will never return….”
“Whoa! Whoa! Brother, stop it… what the hell are you rambling about? I am still alive. Nothing is going to happen to us.” Karan realizing where Shekhar was going with this stopped him.
Shekhar stared at Karan, for a moment, the former was not in his senses. He shook his head, had some water and then looked away from Karan. The duo did not realize that Jenny was sitting behind them and listening to every word of theirs. Shekhar’s words hit her like a bullet and she clutched her heart.
“I never realized this, I had prepared for this all my life and now, I realize that Shekhar is right. Anything can happen, who knows, I may get shot before I go on my first mission.
Lord, I pray to you, protect me as long as fate keeps me alive and when you think I am ready to meet you… make my death honourable.” Jenny thought to herself.