Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Jenny & Jennifer

The weather was reflecting the mood of the moment. The clouds were getting darker and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. Jenny slurped the ice-chocolate smoothie while Animesh scratched his beard. Five days on the road has not given him the opportunity to peel off the grass on his face.

‘At least Jenny is having fun.’ He thought bitterly. He had tried his best to explain to Jenny the current situation but she wouldn’t understand. It took a lot for Jenny to care about something. Animesh was a worry-wart. He didn’t believe it was possible that these two are related in any way but they were.

“Do you think we will survive this?” Jenny asked nonchalantly. Animesh looked at her shocked. The way she talked about dying flabbergasted him.

“We will survive.” Animesh said strongly, more to himself. Jenny nodded and gorged herself with the pancake.

Animesh remembered the first time he had seen Jenny. She was a tiny baby just out of her mother’s womb. Jennifer had left after the delivery and Jenny was the last memory of his wife. Luckily, Jenny was blessed. Jennifer came from a race of long-lived and almost immortal people. Jenny got the same genes from her mother. She was strong and almost a replica of her mother. Hence, Animesh named her Jenny.

He hoped that Jenny get to see her mother one day but that was only possible if Jenny could ascend. Unfortunately, Jenny had absolutely no interest in that. For her, a bowl of ice-cream was more important than gaining immortality.

“Jenny. We must complete this assignment. It would help you get stronger.” Animesh urged.

“Urghh.. Not again. I’ve told you a hundred times. I have no interest in meeting a mother who left me.” Jenny said but started finishing the meal. Despite all her rebellious nature, she did listen to Animesh and that was his only respite. He hoped that it would last long enough for her to ascend. She was already 12 and he dreaded the teenage years that were coming.

Jenny and Animesh looked at their target. He was a bounty hunter and he realised that the best way for Jenny to ascend was to assist him. Jenny had a long list of powers most of which the two were still discovering.

“I think we can abduct her if we go from that side.” Animesh whispered to Jenny. Jenny looked at him and smiled. She jumped from the 10-foot tall building just in front of the target. She had incredible strength and durability so Animesh was not anxious, just annoyed.

Animesh started his descent from the building while keeping an eye on Jenny. The target was surprised by Jenny’s sudden arrival but she quickly gained her composure and swung her hand at Jenny. Jenny dodged it and punched the target back. Animesh hoped Jenny was pulling her punches. Animesh didn’t want to take the target in two pieces.

Animesh came down and turned to see the fight. Jenny was still fighting unable to land a punch on the target. The target was faster than Jenny and that was saying something.

“Aarghh.” Jenny shouted as blood came gushing out of her side. Animesh ran to her to help her. The target turned and there was a large blade in her hand. A hand that was connected to the most beautiful face in the world.

Animesh kept looking at Jennifer who was stunned as well. Jenny took advantage of the situation and hit Jennifer with all her might.

“No Jenny.” Animesh shouted a bit too late. Jennifer lay crumpled on the ground. Animesh ran towards her.

“Jenny. This is Jennifer, your mother.” Animesh said in one breath. “Jennifer. I am so sorry.” He continued looking at Jennifer. She was now sitting on the ground pinching her back to check the pain.

“She’s strong. Stronger than me. Not fast enough though.” Jennifer said clinically.

“Yeah. She’s still learning.” Animesh said proudly.

Jenny kept looking at the two.

“We have to take her for the bounty.” Finally, Jenny said.

“We won’t take her Jenny. She’s your mother.” Animesh said. Jenny stayed quiet but her brows frowned.

“How have you been? Why are you here?” Animesh asked softly.

“I am good. I was here on a mission to confiscate an element that was illegally brought to Earth. I suppose my bounty is given by the government?”

“Yeah.”

“They would do anything to capture me.”

“But I don’t understand why they would send me to capture you. They know that I won’t do that.”

“Maybe because while you won’t, the others can’t. You are the only one who has ever captured me.” Jennifer said and smiled. She stood up and looked at Jenny once more.

“Is she ready?” Animesh asked tentatively.

“Not yet. But her progress is immense. She will soon be ready to ascend. You have done well Animesh.” Jennifer said and kissed him. Animesh kissed her back, giving Jenny her first awkward moment with her parents. She had been completely silent during the whole ordeal. She didn’t understand what was happening.

“Why did you leave us? Why can’t you stay with us?” Jenny said finally. Jennifer looked at her daughter and smiled.

“Because there has to be an Astra in position. My mother died a few days after you were born. So, I had to take her place. Now, until someone can take my place, I can’t leave.”

“Why can’t someone else take your place right now?”

“Because she isn’t ready yet.” Jennifer said and brushed Jenny’s cheeks.

“That’s why you want to train me faster so that I can take her place and she can come back to you?” Jenny asked Animesh with piercing eyes. The color drained off Animesh’s face.

“No. Until she is alive, you will only take her place if you want to. I just want you to be ready when that moment comes.” Animesh blabbered.

“Animesh can have only one of the Jenny’s.” Jennifer said in a calm and soothing voice.

“We three can never be together.” Jenny said in a meek voice. Jennifer shook her head with pain.

“But only you can bring your parents together.” Jennifer said as she began to glow.

“It’s time?” Animesh said.

“Yes my love. Till we meet again. Bye Jenny.”

Jenny kept looking as her mother’s glow brightened and then vanished.

“Let’s train dad. I’ll bring you two together.” Jenny said and held her father’s hand.