Vrushti - Mayanagari!?! - Chapter 5
Vrushti - Mayanagari!?! - Chapter 57 mins 319 7 mins 319
Vrushti was woken up by the squawking announcement of the captain, they were to land in Mumbai in the next 15 minutes; she didn't realize when she had drifted off. She looked out of the window, the three-dimensional holograph projecting from her console showed the plane gradually approaching the triangular peninsula of Mumbai, as the news update "Tensions heighten in the northeast, demands for a separate..." scrolled by above it. A mid-aged stewardess routinely passed by in the aisle inspecting and ensuring the landing sequence was in place and the dozen-odd people on the plane were secured safely, she mechanically chirped with a formal smile "We're landing in Mumbai, sweetie. You'll be out of here in no time".
Mumbai looked nothing like she had imagined or had seen online. There were bridges connecting huge areas of suburbs over dried up creeks which were encroached by slums on the banks. Dark smoke billowed from some of these dingy appearing zones. Far away at a distance, she thought that she could see the ocean, a lot beyond the slimy muck which looked like dark molten chocolate from above, she squeezed her eyes but couldn't be certain. Little rivulets of ochre reached out to the supposed ocean till the horizon at random locations, she knew this was raw brine being disposed of from the de-sal plants. These plants were surrounded by clustered housing structures that looked like a business of flies adhered to cubes of sugar. As the plane started its descent at a steeper turning angle, exquisite cars and vehicles could now be seen hovering above some walled suburbs which lacked the besmirched look contrasting the rest of the city. They looked like sparklers on this dark chocolate splatter.
A part of her felt good to belong to this part of the world, on the other hand, she felt pity for the people who lived beyond that. She, theoretically, knew that the world beyond was a dangerous place as the same started getting closer to her, clusters fused together forming a dense array almost reached out to her and the next minute it was just the clean premises of the airport slash "spaceport".
She got a priority exit from the plane, the captain himself came to bid her goodbye. She was also provided with a terminal butler who helped her with her luggage. Dr. Baxi had ensured a special pickup for her; his personal assistant, Anjali Bhatta had arrived at the airport before time. Anjali had started contacting her since the moment she landed, she kind of sounded a bit paranoid. There was a lot of security personnel with automatic weapons right from the time she alighted the plane.
Anjali looked like a middle-aged woman, though you couldn't really be sure about the age of people, it all depended on their financial capabilities. But, since she looked middle-aged she possibly was not from a very affluent background, she had a short haircut to an edgy pixie style, the dark brown hair was with slightly ragged edges and long wispy bangs that blended into razored side-burns but complimented her fair skin. The light-brown eyes had a certain type of glint in otherwise darkened sockets with possible overworking hidden behind black horn-rimmed glasses, which perhaps explained the athletic physique she had. She looked attractive in the white tank top which was under a short white shrug and was complemented by black capris trousers and matching black shoes. Giving her a no-nonsense professional look.
On seeing Vrushti, Anjali's face burst out in the largest smile she had probably seen, almost extending ear to ear. She welcomed Vrushti with a warm hug and enquired if her journey had been good. Vrushti was pleasantly surprised since by the appearance she had thought that Anjali would be quite formal and stern. Even though her face expressed glee, her eyes kept wandering about as if expressing nervousness. It was ECCo who interjected and agreed with Vrushti, that Anjali's vital stats suggested nervousness.
"Is everything alright, Ma'am?" asked Vrushti.
"Huh! Yaa, Yes Yes, everything is fine, sweetie" she said, looking straight at her with kind eyes "And hey, please don't call me Ma'am, especially now that we are going be together for quite some time. You can call me Anjali didi if you'd like" she suggested creating an instant relation of an elder sister.
Vrushti's smile widened enough to expose a few teeth, as she worded "Then Didi it is", though her mind could not ascertain if she was really friendly or was this some kind of sugar coating on something sinister. ECCo immediately suggested "Anjali Bhatta, aged 32, single, has behavioral patterns and social profile that suggest she is an introvert but a friendly person with people she is close to, though the social life is not much as compared her professional life and research, her academics include...", Vrushti asked ECCo to shut up, how she hated it when ECCo did these analytical functions for her, she almost felt diminutively retarded against the over-smart bot. She decided that since she was being so nice, she'd might as well go with it, but be wary nevertheless.
Vrushti's lip movements confused Anjali as they were entering the car which drove in just moments back, caught Vrushti explained to Anjali that she was still getting used to ECCo and offered a nervous apologetic smile. As the car drove out of the parking lot, Anjali let go a sigh of relief. Vrushti noticed this and couldn't help but ask again, "Really ma..., I mean didi is everything alright?"
"Now that we're almost out of here, I can tell you," said Anjali. "There was a terror attack alert at the spaceport today and I was a little worried and hence intentionally didn't allow Dr. Baxi to come pick you up. You see, it is believed he's somewhere on the top of the hit list of the terrorists. Had he come, the intel warning would have turned in to a reality, it would be a double bonanza for them."
"Hey kiddo, have you reached well? I can see your location exiting the Mumbai spaceport" read out ECCo.
Just before Vrushti could reply to Naleen's message, a loud thud was heard from above the car roof, being at least 8 to 10 meters above the ground the first thought that occurred to Vrushti was the car had hit some building structure or a signboard above. As she tilted her head above, a hooded masked person jumped off the car and rolled below running into the multi-storied parking lot. As he slid by the side that Vrushti was seated, she caught a glimpse of his large hazel glassy eyes looking back at her. The ragged cloak that this individual was carrying seemed to slow him down. A dozen police and security personnel were chasing him (or it could be a her, just the eyes she peered into were most likely male) before he vanished in the shadows on the parking building. She had heard that the eyes are a window to the soul, but these eyes only seemed to portray pain and yet there was kindness in them. Lost in these thoughts, she focused on the place where Anjali didi was pointing and a silhouette jumping from the third story of the parking into the adjoining slums was seen. Somehow for a strange reason, she wanted the owner of these kind eyes to escape, which he seemed to have succeeded in.
"Vrushti, your elevated heart rate seems to suggest an emergent situation, do you..."
"Aw ECCo, shut up", shouted Vrushti, startling Anjali and the car driver who was still trying to recover from the shock and assess the situation while he slowly closed his wide-open mouth. Vrushti just offered an apologetic grin and mouthed "Sorry" to her moments-old didi.
ECCo was extremely annoying at times like these when you wanted to converse with your mind.
As if the annoyance caused by ECCo wasn't enough, NAINA from this car spoke out. "Assessing bodily and functional damage, checking auto-drive capability, 82 percent done. Accident report sent to the central transit authority, a 5-minute standby is mandated, a Mumbai city guardian marshal will attend to you."
"Completed assessment, no bodily or functional damage noted, auto-drive is fully functional, the guardian marshal has been dispatched and will be with you in a moment."
A knock on the driver's right side revealed that a guardian marshal was here, he routinely scanned some codes of the car and spoke to Anjali saying that an escort car would lead them to their destination from here while his eyes constantly kept gazing towards Vrushti, making her slightly uncomfortable. Even though she was used to new people staring at her, this was not feeling too pleasant, maybe it was the overwhelming situation of a new place, new people, new languages, new accident, everything was so unpleasantly new.
The escorting car was a routine police cruise car with alternately blinking red and blue beacons in which the guardian stepped in, following it NAINA commenced its glide towards the university.
(Continue to Chapter 6 - University)