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“Brahma’s Missile” by Kimberley Long-Ewing

Brahma blinked.

As his eyes closed, the world was destroyed.

As his eyes opened, it was created.

Confused, he rubbed the last of the dust out of his eyes, careful not to blink again.

Shiva stumbled mid-step in his dance of creation and destruction, surprised by the untimeliness of Brahma’s blink. Where his foot slipped, earthquakes shook Europe and the people fell ill.

Vishnu the Preserver summoned Narad and Saraswati. “Play for Shiva so he may find the rhythm of Creation and Destruction again.”

Bowing to Him, they took up sitar and drum then started playing and singing praises to Vishnu.

Shiva regained his footing and so only part of the world was destroyed.

Turning from Shiva’s dance, Vishnu asked his consort, “My beloved Lakshmi, why did you throw dust into Brahma’s eyes?”

Lakshmi smiled and answered, “My Lord, I did not like how the world was moving. Are you not bored with these cycles? Must we watch the same Age of Kali each time?”

Vishnu smiled in return. “How would you have it change?”

Lakshmi said, “I shall be born on Earth and show you a new Divine Play.”

Vishnu looked up at Ananta Shesha, the immortal multi-headed snake upon which Vishnu reclined. “It seems we will follow Lakshmi this time.”

The Sage looked up at his audience to gauge their reaction thus far to his poem. He was mildly disappointed that the Rani, queen of Bharat, was focusing on her own writing. Her prime minister, the Peshwar of Bharat, was staring out the window in consternation. The Sage drew a breath and relaxed, letting it be what it was going to be. He queried, “What do you think?”

“So now you are saying that Rani Lakshmi Bai was an avatar? That Shiva himself caused the flu epidemic that killed three quarters of the population of Europe?” Dayaram Rao, Peshwar of Bharat, shook his head. Gray accented his dark temples and he had softened about the middle as he approached fifty. “Asha, tell him this funeral service must not be so steeped in Hindu mythology.”

The Sage said thoughtfully, “Perhaps you’re right. Kali is more likely to start an epidemic.”

Exasperated, Dayaram turned to Abilasha, the current Rani Lakshmi Bai of Bharat, for help. “Asha! Say something.”

Abilasha chuckled as she looked up from her own writing. “That flu epidemic is commonly called Kali’s Scourge.” She laughed at Dayaram’s sour expression. “Sage Sundara is only doing my bidding.” Her own dark hair had a few strands of silver in it. She was still trim and a few lines around her eyes were all that gave away her 39 years of age. “Come now, Rama. It is my prerogative as the current Rani Lakshmi Bai to commission poetry, especially in honor of my predecessor. Please continue, Sage Sundara.”

The wizened Sage inclined his head to Abilasha. “May you live as long and rule as wisely as she.” He carefully adjusted the pages in front of him. He grew more animated as he continued, “This opening is for the funeral service. I have not yet finished the saga, Rani. From here, Ganesha permitting, I will tell of Lakshmi Bai’s life and her triumph over the British. The crowning jewel of the piece will be the reuniting of Bharat under one rule. Her wisdom on the subjects of religion and politics will fill an entire section. Ah, it will be a saga recited for thousands of years to come.” He sighed deeply, closing his eyes in rapture. “Glory to Vishnu.”

Abilasha smiled warmly at Dayaram, softening his skepticism. “We are a predominately Hindu nation.”

Dayaram scowled. “There needs to be balance between the four major religions as well as a nod to the minor ones. I think it needs to also be grounded in reality. A secular, rational approach best reflects the first Rani’s philosophy.”

Abilasha nodded. “And it will. She would also say that this is for the people and must, first and foremost, meet their needs. We rule by their consent, Dayaram. See to it.”

Dayaram inclined his head. “As you wish, Rani.”

A herald appeared in the arched doorway. “Peshwar, the President of the United States has arrived for his appointment.”

Abilasha raised an eyebrow at Dayaram. “So soon?”

Dayaram spread his hands apologetically. “He has had just enough time to bathe and refresh from his journey. I suggested waiting until tomorrow for his audience but he would not be put off.”

Abilasha sighed and stood up, smoothing her sari. “I had heard Americans were quite impatient. Very well. Show him in.” She moved to sit in her royal chair.

The herald waited until the Rani was seated and the Sage had left the room. Dayaram moved towards the door to greet the President. He glanced back at Asha then tugged at his jacket hem.

The herald announced, “The President of the United States, Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” He bowed as the President entered.

Mr. Roosevelt walked slowly into the room, his aide carrying his crutches, cane, and a sheaf of papers. He was determined not to show weakness and to make a good first impression. The ends of his leg braces peeked out around his stocking feet; he’d not been happy about removing his shoes at the entrance but hadn’t argued. He smiled charmingly at Dayaram and said in English, “Mr. Rao, it’s good to see you again. Thank you for arranging this meeting.” He held out his hand in greeting.

Dayaram hesitated briefly then accepted the handshake. He replied in heavily accented English, “I trust you found your accommodations adequate. I regret we couldn’t provide you with something more elaborate for your stay.”

Roosevelt laughed. “Why, that suite you gave me is bigger than my private living quarters at the White House. Eleanor would say you’re spoiling me. No, it’s just fine.” He took in the rich rugs and tapestries of the Rani’s reception room then the Rani herself. He bowed in her direction.

Dayaram said, “Please, come. The Rani is looking forward to your visit.” He walked towards the chairs, pacing himself to Roosevelt’s slow but steady gait.

Abilasha took the time to study the American. Her sources had told her about the weakness in his legs from childhood polio. She admired how well he hid it from his countrymen and his determination to walk with minimal aid. She inclined her head when he was close and indicated the chair on her right. In English, she said, “Welcome, Mr. President.”

Roosevelt gladly eased himself into the chair, his aide moving to take the one next to him after getting a nod of approval from the Peshwar. Once they were seated, Dayaram sat down at Abilasha’s left.

Roosevelt said, “Thank you for your warm reception, Rani Lakshmi Bai. I know this is a busy time for you. My condolences on the death of the first Rani.”

Abilasha replied, “Thank you, Mr. President. I trust your journey was not too tiring.”

“It was fine. The sea crossing was smooth. Couldn’t ask for better weather. Eleanor sends her regards, by the way.”

Abilasha smiled. “Give her mine in return. I enjoyed her visit last year.”

There was a pause then Roosevelt said, “She said your English was good. I’m relieved because my Hindi is quite weak.” He flashed a smile then grew somber. “I know it’s the custom here to do a certain amount of small talk before getting to the meat of the conversation but I’m feeling pressed for time. I’d like to jump into the heart of the matter now if you don’t mind.”

Abilasha’s smile faded. “Your reputation for direct and earnest speech is well deserved. Please, continue.”

Roosevelt leaned towards her. “As you know, the Japanese bombed The American Naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. America has officially declared war.”

Abilasha looked to Dayaram who clarified, “On the 22nd day of Margasirsha by our calendar.”

Roosevelt continued, “Right, last week. The Chinese tell me you’ve remained neutral in the war so far.”

Abilasha replied, “I was sorry to hear about the loss of your base. So many died.” She paused to choose her words. “Bharat has remained neutral in wars between other nations. We have focused on rebuilding our own.”

Roosevelt nodded. “America was the same way. We needed time to rebuild after our War between the States. It occurred in 1861, not long after your predecessor won the East Indian War for Independence and drove out the British. That’s something else we have in common.”

Dayaram quietly translated, “The year 1783 by our calendar.”

Abilasha frowned and gently corrected, “You mean the Bharat War of Independence. That is our name for our country.”

Roosevelt colored slightly and cleared his throat. “My apologies. My aide had told me that. My point is, we share the common bond of shaking off colonialism and British rule.”

Abilasha nodded her agreement. “As do China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan …”

“Yes, yes. That’s true.” Roosevelt sat back to regroup. “Don’t you fear this Asiatic Empire Japan seeks to build?”

Abilasha exchanged a look with Dayaram. He studied the slight tension of her brow and the rigid set of her shoulders. Leaning forward, he answered on her behalf. “Bharat fears no nation. Peaceful relations with others is our goal.”

Roosevelt scowled then composed himself when his aide leaned over and whispered something in his ear. He nodded, “Yes, alright.” He drew a deep breath and focused on Abilasha. “Rani Lakshmi Bai, I admire and share your vision for world peace. The second Rani, your immediate predecessor, made Bharat a charter member of the League of Nations. That organization exists to help prevent wars. This is a fact the Japanese are deliberately ignoring.”

Abilasha answered guardedly, “The Japanese claims on Manchuria are being examined by the League. Ambassador Ghandi keeps me informed of their progress.” She looked again to Dayaram, her frustration mounting. No one pushed the Rani Lakshmi Bai into war.

Dayaram nodded his understanding and Abalisha closed her eyes in reply. Standing, he said, “Mr. President, perhaps you would care to rest now. We can continue this discussion another time.”

Roosevelt started to argue but his aide whispered to him again. He sighed. “Thank you for your time, Rani. I hope we speak again very soon.” He refused the crutches but accepted his cane from his aide. “I believe I remember the way back.”

Abilisha opened her eyes smiled graciously at Roosevelt. “Until next time.”

Dayaram watched him leave. Once he heard the doors of the Rani’s suite close, he turned to her and said in Hindi, “We won’t be able to remain neutral for much longer, Asha. General Chiang Kai-shek will continue to press America with the goal of pulling us into the war.”

Abilasha scowled. “I know. I’m annoyed that Japan attacked America and brought them into it. It was easy to remain neutral during the first Sino-Japanese War.”

Dayaram sighed. “Or so the first Rani would have us believe.” He sat down heavily. “There have been disturbing reports of dangerous new weapons being developed by both America and Japan.”

“Then the rumors of atomic weapons carry substance. Perhaps it is time to create our own.”

Dayaram said tentatively, “Dr. Raja Ramanna has been reviewing the theory behind it. Shall I tell him to pursue the program?”

Asha mused, “A strong weapon is a powerful deterent.” Frowning, she thought for a moment longer then concluded, “Very well then.”

28 Margasirsha 1863, Hindu solar calendar

Abilasha glanced over her speech notes one more time as she waited for Sage Sundara to finish reading the opening verses of his epic. The funeral service had gone well thus far. The readings and prayers by a variety of religious leaders had been delicately balanced for time and content.

She leaned over to Dayaram and whispered, “I’m glad Ganesh used a light hand of Inspiration for our speakers. With so many of them, the Elephant-headed god could have kept us here for days.”

Dayaram raised an eyebrow in mock offense. He whispered back, “Abilasha! Do you give your very own Ram no credit?”

The twinkle in Abilasha’s eyes reflected his. “I know well the hours you spent negotiating every aspect. It is still going to take the entire morning to complete.” She looked at the assembled crowd. “How are our foreign guests holding up?”

Dayaram looked over at the gallery where the foreign heads of state or their ambassadors were seated. Translators were whispering in ears. The Chinese ambassador caught his eye and gave a slight nod. Roosevelt was whispering with his aide. Security was heightened for the event; the last thing they wanted was an international incident.

He whispered to Abilasha, “They seem well. At least this is the cool, dry season. I regret the Japanese didn’t feel they could attend. It is a lost opportunity for peace.”

Abilasha nodded then stood to deliver the eulogy. She paid her respects to each of the religious leaders as she made her way to the podium. She paused briefly to exchange greetings with the second Rani, Padmavati, who now lived in retirement at the summer palace in Jhansi.

Adjusting the microphone, she looked out over the hushed crowd. Thousands of her people, the citizens of Bharat, had come. More listened to the radio, crowded together around village or family units. Others would be crowding into the stores and cafes. Her beloved country was in mourning.

“Manikarnika, the first Rani Lakshmi Bai, believed in peace through strength. She was trained in defense and archery, in warfare and philosophy. She raised an army at Jhansi to create the safest region in the country during the War for Independence. She questioned the need for war at first, preferring to attempt to work with the British. She wrote eloquent letters to the British Crown asking for fair treatment for herself, her family, and her people. It was only when she was granted no quarter that she fought. No one expected her to survive the British attack on Jhansi but she escaped into the night with a handful of her most trusted bodyguards. She was thought dead when she was injured during battle at Kotah-ki-Serai near Gwalior. The quick thinking of General Tantya Tope saved her life then. She led the armies of our people to victory after victory over the following years, driving out the British and reuniting Bharat. She lived 106 years and saw the coronations of two generations of successors. She handpicked these successors on the basis of merit and whose philosophy of strength and peace were consistent with her own. Bharat has and will continue to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts before resorting to war. I am honored to follow in her footsteps as your Rani.”

She had only read half of the speech. It was enough. The crowd cheered her praises for Manikarnika. More important was the message she sent to the Chinese and Americans. She saw them talking to one another as she took her seat.

29 Margasirsha, 1863, Hindu solar calendar

Roosevelt used his wheelchair until they were at the entrance to the Rani’s apartment, then stood and took his cane. He said to his aide, “It’s a good sign that she’s called us back so quickly. After yesterday’s speech, I figured it would be another year or so before she came around to our way of thinking. I wonder what changed her mind.” He knocked on the door.

Dayaram answered the door himself. He looked worried and tired. As he ushered the President in, Dayaram said, “It seems you will get your wish. The Japanese attacked eight of our trading vessels yesterday afternoon. They were not equipped to fight off five Japanese warships. I fear all were lost.”

Roosevelt shook his head sadly. “That would explain why the Japanese weren’t at the funeral. I’m sorry it came to this.”

Dayaram said softly, “As are we.” Drawing a deep breath, he continued firmly, “Come. The Chinese are already here. We have a war to plan.”

28 Phalguna, 1866, Hindu solar calendar

Abilasha paced the floor in agitation, a newspaper clutched in her hand. She muttered, “Of all the wasteful things to do …”

Padmavati watched her compassionately. “My 83 years of life have shown me that people can be quite wasteful.”

Abilasha stopped her pacing and asked, “What would you do?”

Padmavati stood and adjusted her headscarf with a frail hand. “Talk to them. Bring the League of Nations into it if you have to.” She put a hand on Abilasha’s arm. “You are the Rani now. Draw on the strength of that.” She smiled. “You’ll do fine, dear. I know because I was your teacher.” She stepped away. “Now I must go to the gardens. I have meditating to do and you have a government to run.”

Abilasha smiled wanly, “Thank you, Padme.” She looked at the newspaper and absently started pacing again.

Padmavati opened the door just as Dayaram was reaching to open it. She said, “Careful. She’s quite upset about the news.”

Dayaram bowed. “Thank you for the warning.” He paused at the archway leading to the office to assess Abilasha’s mood for himself. He grimly recognized it was worse than Padmavati had said. He cleared his throat and continued to the desk. “I have the latest reports on the Happy Krishna project.”

Abilasha glared at him. “In a moment. I am more interested in whether you arranged that telephone conversation with Mr. Roosevelt. I will not be party to the mass bombings of civilians.”

Dayaram set down his report and smoothed the cover. “We are working on that, Asha. I also sent the telegram to him.” He hesitated then took a slip of paper out of his pocket. “You won’t like this,” he warned. “It’s a message from General Chaing.”

Abilasha stared at the paper he held out. “Read it to me.” She braced herself.

Dayaram read the short telegram. “America acted alone.” He looked up at her. “That’s it.”

Abilasha shook her head. “I don’t believe him.”

Dayaram put the slip in a drawer. “It doesn’t matter. He will blame the Americans. It is them you must take issue with. They sent the B-29s to bomb Tokyo.”

Abilasha pointed at the newspaper, “Blanket bombing of Tokyo. The death toll is still being calculated.” She dropped the paper on a chair. “Rama, this cannot continue.”

Dayaram drew a deep breath. “Asha …”

She waved him off. “I know. There is nothing to be done until Roosevelt talks to me.” She rubbed her eyes. “You said you had a progress report.”

Dayaram nodded and picked up his papers. “Dr. Ramanna has built a test bomb he’s dubbed Smiling Buddha. They are setting up in the Pokhran Test Range.”

“When?”

“As soon as you approve it.”

She studied the portrait of the original Rani. “I want to be there.”

Dayaram straightened, pulling at the hem of his jacket. “That isn’t wise, Rani.”

Abilasha looked at him sharply; he only used her title in private when he knew she would be angry. “Explain, Peshwar.”

Dayaram straightened and locked eyes with her. “The effects of this bomb are not completely known or understood. It would be dangerous.” He saw the flash in her eyes and he quickly continued, “They will film it from several angles for you. The films will be delivered within hours of their development.”

Abilasha held his gaze, forcing him to look away first. Only then did she answer, “Very well.”

27 Phalguna, 1866, Hindu solar calendar

Dayaram entered the office cautiously, carrying the breakfast tray he’d intercepted from the maid. There was no sense in anyone else being yelled at. The room was quiet, the curtains still drawn. Abilasha was reclining on the divan, the newspaper resting on her lap. Dayaram walked as quietly as possible over to the table where he set down the tray then moved to open the curtains.

As he pulled the first one aside to admit the sunlight, Abilasha said flatly, “Have you seen the papers?”

Dayaram paused then opened the next curtain. “Yes.”

She sighed. “Seventeen hundred tons of bombs. Sixteen square miles of Tokyo destroyed. One hundred thousand people are believed dead. Few of them were soldiers; most women and children.”

Dayaram opened the third curtain and moved to get her tea. “I know.”

Abilasha accepted the tea from him. “Are the Americans really Asurans?”

Dayaram sat down on the divan next to her. “I doubt that very much, Asha. I suspect they are more like hornets.”

Abilasha smiled slightly. “Very angry ones.”

The telephone rang. Dayaram jumped up and went to the desk to answer it. “Yes?”

His secretary said, “Peshwar, the President of the United States is on the line.”

“Hold on.” He covered the mouth piece with his hand. “Asha, it’s Roosevelt. Do you wish to speak with him?”

Asha’s eyes burned with anger. “Very much so.”

Dayaram was glad he wasn’t the President of the United States. He said calmly into the phone, “Please connect him.”

There was a pause as the operators connected the calls then a tinny voice said, “Mr. Rao, is that you?”

Dayaram switched to English and said, “Yes. Is this Mr. Roosevelt? Yes? Very good. The Rani would like a word with you Mr. President.”

Abilasha took the telephone. “Mr. President?”

“Hello, Rani. How are you?”

“I am quite angry. I will be direct and to the point. If you continue to bomb civilians then Bharat will withdraw from the alliance. I will recall all my forces and leave you to it.”

“Rani, that would be most unwise. The Japanese would see it as a sign of weakness and would press their advantage. You would have them rushing into Bharat in no time.”

“That would be my problem, not yours. Bharat has a long tradition of limiting warfare to military targets. The killing of innocents is …” she shook her head, uncertain of the right word in English. “… an unforgivable crime.”

Roosevelt was quiet as he considered whether she was bluffing. “Very well, Rani. I’ll take it under advisement.”

“Take this under advisement as well. One more bombing run like yesterday’s and I will withdraw.”

Roosevelt sighed. He couldn’t afford to lose Bharat’s support, bases, or supplies. “Very well, Rani. I’ll tell my generals to pick their targets more carefully.”

5 Jyaistha, 1867, Hindu solar calendar

Abilasha watched in horrified fascination the footage of the Smiling Buddha tests. Dayaram sat between her and Dr. Raja Ramanna. The eminent, middle-aged scientist was somber as they watched the footage. It ran from the initial mushroom cloud, the shock wave, and ensuing fire storm.

The flapping of the film on the reel at the end of the movie was the only sound for several minutes. Dr. Ramanna’s assistant shut of the projector and turned on the lights. Everyone in the room watched the Rani to see her reaction.

Abilasha stared at the screen. Dayaram finally shifted in his chair and gave a slight cough. She looked at him. “What would that do to a city?”

Dayaram looked to Dr. Ramanna who answered, “Rani, it would destroy an entire city.”

Abilasha shook her head in disbelief. “Just the one bomb?”

“Yes. What you don’t see on the film are the radiation readings in the area afterwards. We don’t fully understand the impact it will have as of yet. We do know that radiation is a poison.”

“Tell me about this poison.”

Dr. Ramanna shifted in his chair. “We had soldiers around the perimeter for security. They were unharmed by the initial blast but have been falling ill in the days since then. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever, and weakness. The wounds of the few injured during the exercise are healing slower than normal. I have assembled medical teams to treat and study the course of the poison.”

Abilasha asked incredulously, “And you named this Smiling Buddha? What do you plan to call the next one?”

Dr. Ramanna studied his hands. “I’m not sure.”

Sage Sundara suggested, “Brahma’s missile.”

Abilasha turned to him. “Why?”

The Sage answered, “So that we will remember that to use it is to burn up the world. Our stories tell us that Brahma would admonish a Warrior with this reminder anytime one would attempt to use His divine weapon.”

Dayaram said, “I will not argue for once. It’s a weapon we should only use in the most dire of circumstances.”

Abilasha agreed. “Still, it is a strong defense. How are the Americans progressing with their Manhattan Project?”

Dayaram answered, “Our spies tell me that they are almost ready to test their first bomb.”

Abilasha leaned back thoughtfully. “I spoke with the new American President over the telephone last month after Mr. Roosevelt’s funeral. He seemed a most practical and reasonable man. I will want to talk with Mr. Truman after they have tested their bomb.”

5 Sravana, 1867, Hindu solar calendar

“Mr. President? Please hold for the Rani.”

Dayaram handed the phone to Abilasha. “Good luck.”

She took the phone. “Greetings, Mr. Truman.”

“I appreciate you taking this call.”

“What do you require this day?”

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “I felt that I should inform you that we tested an atom bomb earlier this week on, uh, let me see where I wrote this down … the first day of Sravanna. Four days ago.”

“Yes, that was the first of Sravanna.” Abilasha glanced at Dayaram and wrote a note to him. They confirm the test.

“Was the test successful?”

The President thought about that. “I suppose it depends on how you define success. It went off. My generals want to use one on the Japanese.”

Abilasha closed her eyes. “I feared as much. What target?”

The President didn’t answer directly. He noted that she wasn’t surprised by the announcement. “We understand you may have a similar project underway. Something called Happy Krishna.”

“This is true. Hold on a moment.” She lowered the receiver slightly so the President would still hear her. “Peshwar, what was the date of the Smiling Buddha test according to the Gregorian Calendar?” She figured Truman had made an effort so she could as well.

“Let me see, that would be 18 May.”

She passed that on to Truman. “So what do we do now?”

He said, “That’s why I’m calling. You’ve seen what this weapon can do.” There was silence. He continued, “The Japanese have sworn to fight us for every inch of soil using every man, woman, and child if necessary.”

“They do seem quite determined.”

“We need this war to end soon. We were thinking of a show of power. Drop one on a city, maybe drop another on a second city just so they know it wasn’t a fluke. That should demoralize them.”

“Wasn’t that the idea behind the blanket bombing? That hardly had the desired effect.” Abilasha’s voice grew harder. “Mr. Roosevelt had assured me that America would no longer target civilians.”

Truman’s tone was sharp. “Are they civilians when they are threatening to kill my troops?”

Abilasha persisted, “Wouldn’t a military target be just as effective? The resistance from the Japanese civilians has lessened greatly since you stopped bombing their cities. My troops have faced far fewer problems with the Japanese in Burma and Korea.”

Truman chuckled. “That’s because they’d rather surrender to Bharat than to China. Those Chinese have a bit of a grudge and justifiably so. The Japanese atrocities were horrific.”

“There will be war crimes tribunals. That doesn’t justify what you’re proposing.”

“We want to make a statement to more than just the Japanese; China is starting their own nuclear program.”

“Why shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t you want to come to the table from a position of strength? ”

Truman was silent for a moment. “Are you going to use your bombs?”

She replied quietly, “No. We believe Brahma’s missile is a last resort weapon.”

“My aides explained that name to me. Interesting philosophy. I doubt I’ll be able to sell it to my generals.” Truman softened his tone. “Rani, we’re going to issue an ultimatum to the Japanese next week. They need to surrender. Will you sign that ultimatum?”

Abilasha said cautiously, “I agree that the war needs to end. What if they refuse?”

“Then we fight until they surrender.”

“And your bomb? I can’t support using it on civilian targets.”

The President paused then answered noncommittally, “I’ll take that under advisement. I’ll be in touch again after we hear from the Japanese.”

Abilasha set the phone down, shaking her head. “Rama, in all the old stories Brahma’s missile is said to be unstoppable.”

Dayaram was alarmed. “Asha, what did he say?”

She looked at him sadly, “I believe he plans to use it on civilians. Tell Dr. Ramanna to prepare relief teams. We will offer our help.”

Dayarama made a note. “I suggest contacting our emissaries to Japan. We should encourage them to accept this surrender.”

“They won’t.”

“I know, Asha, but at least we will have tried.”

7 Bhadrapada, 1867, Hindu solar calendar

Abilasha turned on the radio. “Hurry, Rama, Ambassador Ghandi will be delivering his speech soon.”

Dayaram sat down on the divan next to her and handed her a cup of tea. “He will do fine, Asha. Ah, he’s starting.”

The radio crackled as the Ambassador began his address to the League of Nations. “Last week we saw a most grave injustice. The United States of America deemed, without the consent of her allies, to drop two bombs of horrific power on civilians. We have heard their justification for this action. Bharat calls them to task and demands that they be held accountable. We demand that this League create rules of war severely limiting the use of such weapons. We also demand that the rebuilding of Japan be put under the authority of the League rather than the United States.”

There were shouts from the audience as various nations started arguing. The American Ambassador challenged the claim that their allies had not agreed to the bombings while the Chinese demanded that Japan be handed over to them. Abilasha turned down the volume.

Dayaram said, “It seems we’ve stirred up some controversy with that speech. Well done.”

“It’s a start. We will continue to push for peace. Mr. Ghandi is most compelling in his arguments. Perhaps the hornets will return to their nest.”

Sage Sundara smiled at them from his desk then resumed work on his saga.

Lakshmi gathered up all of Brahma’s Missiles, hiding them in the folds of her sari and returned with them to the Cosmos. In answer to Vishnu’s questioning look, she said, “Forbid Brahma from creating any more of these. Mortals are too foolish to be trusted with them. The world is far too beautiful to destroy.”

Vishnu laughed. “They will build their own Divine Weapons if we don’t provide them. They dance their own destruction.” He closed his eyes and returned to dreaming the illusions of a thousand worlds.


About the Author

Kimberley Long-Ewing is a photographer and writer. Her work focuses on fantasy themes and finding the unusual in ordinary objects. Her recent projects include writing the webcomic Urban Fey and a series of nature photographs. She is a founding member of Mystic Sheep Studios, and is a member of Broad Universe.

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  1. […] Brahma’s Missile, published in Crossed Genres, Issue 9 in August 2009 […]

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