“Remember Ayna your light can change the world, never sell yourself short.”, my mom has a way with words, as I zoomed through the vortex those were her last words to me. The violent movement finally stopped and I stepped on a shiny, onyx platform, my watch said it was 11 a.m. Eighteen years of my life, I have waited and trained for this day. I was finally here, in the Capital ready to work like my father.

“Hey you are Professor Ray’s daughter right? I’m Vidyut, I’m here to receive the first year apprentices so follow me.” I had known Vidyut since we were kids, his dad was my father’s colleague but he was not the same gangly kid anymore. I suppose he does not quite remember me, that wasn’t exactly a warm welcome.

As I scoped my way behind Vidyut I noticed out of the corner of my eye, three other kids my age falling into a line with me, we quietly filed into the air taxi. Our air taxi zipped through the skyscrapers of the Capital, the dome of protection around the city was invisible to untrained eyes, but I could see it through the gaps if I focused. It was one of the first things my father taught me on his weekend visits, “My Ayna, you must believe in the unthinkable, you must be vigilant about the world you see because more often than not there are things we fail to see that destroy us later. “

We entered through the lobby of the T.I.M.E. Headquarters of India, it was fifty feet tall and was buzzing with scientists, inspectors, expungers, doctors and diplomats in uniforms. Since the Dies Calamitatis, when a scientist named River Maladi opened a gateway to our dystopian future and let aliens commonly known as Glitches into every timeline of the past and present, fifty five years back in the U.S.A., every country works with Time Inspection and Malady Expunging units of their own. Each year every department chose four apprentices and this year I was one of the expunger apprentices and after I completed my time as an expunger I could become a diplomat. My father is a scientist and a professor, so it was a shock when my aptitude evaluation was highest in Expunging. A tall woman was approaching us as I tried to absorb every detail of the building.

“Hello everyone, I’m Professor Gupta I’ll be your mentor for the upcoming year. The orientation course and subsequent welcome ceremony will ensue this evening so I suggest you follow Mr. Bose to your dormitories.” The apprentice dormitories were on the third floor, so we advanced towards the lift. But a sudden wave through the floor send us diving for the ground, senior scientists were rushing out to the lobby from the labs. Chaos unfurled around us, I noticed Vidyut, was helping the other girl on our team who seemed to have fainted. Professor Gupta ushered us into a hallway where other apprentices seemed to have taken shelter. But amidst all of this the only concern raking my mind was that my Father was not in the lobby and knowing him he must have stayed behind to fix whatever had caused the problem. “A glitch got leaked into this year as a team was returning from a mission”, Professor Gupta whispered to Vidyut. “But how, weren’t they in the void after they logged out?” Vidyut asked her. “Yes that is why the guard was down this one was roaming the void.” The expression of utter shock that registered on Vidyut’s face was enough for me discern that my father was in danger.

I zipped past them in a matter of seconds, and ran across the lobby in the direction the scientists came from.  I had visited my father two times so I knew I had to slide down the pipes to the labs. But another violent wave made me lose my footing and I slid down the pipes headfirst and after hitting the floor I was slightly unconscious. Ice cold water brought me back to my senses, “I see you haven’t changed one bit.” “Well I never liked sitting on the sidelines you should know that by now.” Vidyut helped me up and gestured me to follow him, I was surprised that we were going towards the labs. 

He took out a complex gun, and we stalked forward on tip toes, “I told Professor Gupta that your father was still here but she asked me to bring you back, but I want to check on uncle and I can’t leave you alone so don’t for one second think that your action will not bear any consequences.” I refrained from answering knowing it will only further aggravate my punishment.

The very next second our bodies tensed as we noticed the carcass of a lab and standing in the middle of it were my dad and the most luminous human. But it wasn’t human it was the furthest cry from a human as Vidyut’s gun recoiled and a bullet hit the Glitch, it sent another wave through the floor and a black cylindrical shape emerged from the human skin. The bullet wasn’t strong enough to kill it. The creature shot a ray of light that hit Vidyut and he hit the floor. Its vermillion eyes bore into my soul as my father dove in front of me. But in that split second an idea struck me, I pushed him away and enticed the glitch to follow me towards the open portal at the T.I.M.E. machine. 

In its wounded delirium it fell for it and diverted its attention to me. The portal was on the other end of the room and I could notice that it was starting to regain intelligent thought. The Glitch was under my spell but as my back hit the wall beside the portal it was back to its dominant form. As it sped towards the portal it thrust its hand towards me and grabbed my arms. I could feel the centrifugal pull of the portal nearing us. But my father and Vidyut rescinded me with a sudden jerk and I was free of its grip. The portal closed and a red light above it confirmed that it was occupied. I heaved a sigh of relief, all of us were safe. We made our way up not noticing in our moment of glee that another luminous being was hidden in a corner observing our every move.

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