The War Is Over
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
"You’re back," the
bluecoat said neutrally.
BP nodded. "As you see."
He had no idea who the bluecoat was – he wasn’t from BP’s own department – but
it wasn’t any surprise that the man knew him. Greencoats were few, and very
well known to everybody by sight and name.
"How’s it outside?" The
bluecoat seemed to have lost his desire to enter the lift.
"As usual. You know,
spring, blue skies, the leaves are coming out on the branches." BP glanced at
the bluecoat, whose little eyes were gleaming avidly. "You haven’t been out in
"Not since the start of
autumn," the bluecoat said. His moustache quivered. "Ever since the autumn I’ve
been down here, without a sight of the sky!"
BP didn’t know what to
say. "Well," he managed, "if the rumours are right we’ll soon be done with the
"I’ll believe that when I
see it." The bluecoat suddenly remembered his urgent need for the lift and
jabbed the button, halting it before it could rise again. "I’ll bet I’m still
here when..." His voice was cut off as the lift door slid shut.
A whitecoat was waiting
for him outside the door of his laboratory. "The Director wants to see you,
BP regarded her with
disfavour. Now that he was back down here, in the world where there was no day
or night, he was eager to get back to work. On the other side of that door, his
banks of equipment would be humming, ready to do as his mind had shaped them.
Instead of which...
"Right away?" he asked.
The whitecoat only
nodded. She was so pale that she looked almost as white as her coat. BP
wondered if she’d ever felt the sun on her skin, or whether she’d been born and
grown up in the bunker. Like all whitecoats, she resented the fact that she’d
probably reached as high as she’d ever get. Unlike browncoats and bluecoats,
whitecoats seldom rose higher in the ranks.
But her message wasn’t to
be disregarded, so BP went to the Director’s office instead.
going to take over the new department at once," the Director said. "You’ll have
carte blanche. Budget, personnel, whatever you want."
BP leaned back in his
chair, frowning. "While I’m not in any way disregarding the honour and
responsibility," he said drily, "I really would like to know why. All these
years I’ve been starved of funding and resources; I’ve been working in spite
of, not because of, the department. So why am I being given all this help now?"
The Director shrugged,
his pudgy shoulders moving under his brown coat. "The war’s still on," he said.
"The cyborg programme is obviously not moving fast enough. So..."
decided to give my matter disruptor a chance." BP sighed, half with
exasperation and half satisfaction. "If they’d listened to me earlier..."
"...we’d have won by
now," the Director replied expressionlessly. "Yes, we all know that. Well,
you’re being given your chance now."
"It’s not as though we
can guarantee overnight results," BP said. "You know what the disruptors do?
They increase the energy levels of molecules in closed systems until they begin
to disintegrate giving off heat energy."
"Yes, and so?"
"We’ve had good results
in being able to generate the effects at a distance," BP said. "But we can’t
focus it. It’s like taking a sledgehammer to a..." he tried to think of an
appropriate comparison. "To a bacterium," he finished.
"Send me your results so
far immediately, and update me on a daily basis of your progress from now on."
The Director tapped a forefinger on his desk. "So how long do you think you’ll
take to refine it, now you’ve got all you need?"
BP shook his head.
"There’s no way of telling. It may not even be possible at all, or not possible
in a short enough time. But what’s the hurry? We’re winning, aren’t we?"
The Director stared back
at him levelly. "Are we?" he asked.
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