PANIPAT – THE GREAT BETRAYAL – REVIEW

Starring – Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Kriti Sanon, Mohnish Bahl, Padmini Kolhapure 

Directed By Ashutosh Gowariker 

India is going through a phase where a lot of people are gaining access to the real history of our country. So much so that what was supposed to be taught and researched upon in schools and colleges many years ago is being revealed to us through films. On a personal front, I know that the history that I was taught in school was not even 2 % of what our country actually is. India is not only rich with culture and heritage, we were… and are blessed with the bravest of heroes that ever walked on this blessed soil of ours. 

Plot 

The film talks about the 3rd battle of Panipat which happened on 14tJanuary, 1761. The Marathas were at the pinnacle of their rule with most parts of India under their control. However, this increasing foothold of theirs in not taken lightly by a lot. Delhi and its surrounding parts are still under the control of the Mughals but with the Mughal dynasty in decline, the Marathas are eyeing that region. 

This news reaches the Afghan King, Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt) who plans to invade India in order to not only retrieve his lost territories but also take control of entire country. He attacks and captures the Punjab region and this news reaches Nana Saheb Peshwa.  

Nana Saheb Peshwa orders a counsel among his generals. They plan to stop the afghans before they can invade more parts of the country but are skeptical as to how the plans can be carried out considering their battles in the past have led to depleted resources and reserves. 

Sadashiv Rao Bhau, however, takes the responsibility of taking around 40000 soldiers with limited resources with him in an attempt to increase this number by joining hands with all other surrounding kingdoms. Perhaps, one of the few brave attempts anyone has taken during that time for a unified hindostan. 

 How Sadashiv Bhau is able to unite all the kingdoms and use their power and resources to defeat the Afghan King Abdali forms the rest of the movie. 

Good Points 

When it comes to period films, we all expect to see the world as it was during those times and mind you, Ashutosh Gowariker is definitely one of the few directors who goes to great lengths in this regard. You not only get the feel of grandeur but also the mentality of the Marathas, the afghans and other kingdom during that time. I should say, this should have been released in 3d. 

All the actors have done a great job, it is easy (if not so difficult) to portray a fictional character but when portraying someone who existed, that is when things get complicated. For people, especially historians, are looking at you and one small mistake, you are facing the gallows. 

Ashutosh Gowariker is also one of the few directors who knows how to utilize ground breaking visual effects techniques, however, I have been critical about the action sequences in his past movies especially Jodha Akbar and Mohenjo Daro. It is almost like, he hates violence and therefore, tries to keep it clean. However, this movie is a surprise. The director has literally up the scaled in terms of visual effects and action sequences. 

We are not dealing with modern warfare in these movies, the warriors are not using assault rifles or shotguns or pistols that can lead to a clean kill with a headshot. We are dealing with warriors carrying swords, daggers, and knives. Cannon warfare is still in practice. Muskets were seeing the first light of the day but were still ineffective for you can see the enemy laughing at you for bringing a ‘bringing a gun that takes 3-5 minutes to reload’ to a ‘sword battle’. 

What’s more, this is the 3rd battle of Panipat, one of the bloodiest battles in Indian History that resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Wikipedia tells you who won the battle but after watching the movie, you might think otherwise. 

Bad Points 

Only one if you ask me. The length of the movie, it is over 3 hours long. Can’t blame anyone for this for this was a battle of wits from both sides. A game of cat and mouse, 2 brave warriors commanding an army of close to 100000, you surely want to know that as a leader what were they thinking before coming to Panipat… or were they even thinking at all. 

Verdict 

Score – 9/10 

This is a must watch. Don’t look at it as a boring history lesson but look at it as a story of courage, valor and honor. We all need the motivation and the belief that heroes do exist. This is the story of a man who fought for a dream of a unified India. It is time, we carry forward the legacy. 

Remote Out of Control Episode 4

The thief had reached his hideout which was an abandoned car shed. A fat man sat on a rickety chair and was talking with his goons when the thief rushed towards the table and placed the briefcase on it.

“Boss, look what I got. Something of our interest should definitely come out of this.” Said the thief, feeling excited.

The fat man was not excited though. As he got up from his seat, the other goons sneered at him. The fat man tapped the briefcase twice and looked blankly at the thief.

“Kalu, you have been with us for a year yet you have been the unluckiest and disappointing with regards to your ‘profession’. Every time you brought something; it has always been unprofitable for us.” Said the fat man.

The other goons nodded their heads in agreement with one goon commenting, “He is nothing but a loose end of a pyjama for us.”

Kalu tried to defend himself, saying, “Come on, boss, I have always tried my best. How can I be sure of the contents of every bag or purse? How can I determine which one to steal?”

“What do you think I am running here, a school? Do you think I have all the time in the world to teach wretches like you how to steal? I am running a business here, not social service to feed useless people like you. If I am not getting any benefits from wretches like you, I will definitely have a good mind to throw you out without showing mercy.” Said the fat man.

“If what is there in that briefcase in not worth it, then, I assure… I won’t show my face again to you.” Said Kalu.

“You hear that, fellows? He is challenging me.” The fat man exclaimed looking at the other goons, the latter started clapping and cheering looking at Kalu’s guts.

The fat man looked at Kalu again and said, “Tell you what, Kalu, if there is nothing good in there, you are going to keep your word for I am tired of feeding people who are not productive for me… but if there is something profitable, hell if it is, you are staying here.”

The fat man then touched the briefcase while Kalu and the others watched with baited breath to see what was inside. That very moment, Arjun and Rohan found the hideout, they watched in horror as the fat man was about to open the briefcase.

“Stop, don’t open it.” Arjun yelled.

Alarmed, the fat man and his goons turned around. The fat man was furious and glared at Kalu.

“There you go. Now you see why you are incompetent. You led these idiots over here. We are thieves and we are supposed to cover our tracks yet you… you are a burden to us. You should be thrown out of this group. That will be taken care of once I take care of these buffoons.” Said the fat man.

Arjun and Rohan looked at the gang; they looked more ‘unprofessional’ than the gang they were dealing with right now. The fat man and his goons took their weapons, not guns but rusted machetes and knifes.

“You two have made a big mistake by coming here and you will pay for it.” said the fat man.

“Look, we do not want any trouble. All we want is the briefcase. You people have no idea what is inside.” Rohan tried to warn the gang.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. We will soon find out what is inside. The fact that you people are ready to come here and die for this briefcase indicates something really precious inside.” The fat man responded with a sly smile, he and his goons started to walk forward while the duo backtracked.

“You people are making a big mistake. There is nothing precious inside it. There is… there is… a bomb inside the briefcase and it can blow up anytime.” Arjun explained.

The fat man and the goons stopped in their path. At first, they were horrified but then they started to laugh heartily.

“You think you can trick us. You need to do better than that.” the fat man commented while the goons continued to laugh.

Suddenly, one of the goons was shot on his head. He fell down dead as the others were jolted by the gun shot. It was Bala and 3 of his men who had reached the place.

“Look here, dimwit. I hate to say this but this man over here is right. We are running a business here that is bigger than what you nincompoops can only imagine. Now before I blow the brains out of all of you… hand over the briefcase to them.” Said Bala, aiming his pistol.

The fat man and his goons looked at each other. Bala and his 3 men had their pistols pointed at them. The fat man looked at Kalu again; the latter was shivering in fear now. It was obvious he never thought he would put his gang’s life in jeopardy but something clicked in his mind.

“There is a bomb inside this briefcase. These people must be terrorists, I am a robber yet, that doesn’t mean I can watch countless people die because of them. I have to take this briefcase away from here. I will have to take a chance, make it to the police station and tell them everything.” Kalu thought in his mind.

He looked at the briefcase and then at everybody else. He then grabbed the briefcase and ran from the place. Arjun and Rohan couldn’t believe what Kalu just did and ran behind him, the fat man and his goons were taken aback by the turn of events and in the confusion charged behind the duo only to be gunned down by Bala and his men.

“Quick, behind them… we need to retrieve the briefcase.” Said Bala, as he ran behind the duo closely followed by his men.

Kalu did not look back as he ran as fast as he could; he reached the main road and could make out the police station right in front of him. He had to cross the road, but before that he looked back to see Arjun and Rohan, they had stopped in their paths when they realized what the former intended to do.

“Well, he does have a conscience. Why else would he risk taking the briefcase to the police station?” Rohan commented.

“You are missing the whole bloody point, Rohan. If he takes the briefcase to the police station, he would go scot free… but what about us? In his eyes, we are with this gang but I don’t think there is anyone out there who will listen to us. We will go to jail along with these goons and we will never be able to prove our innocence.” Arjun explained.

Rohan understood what Arjun was trying to say and looked at Kalu. The latter then saw Bala and his men coming, they started to fire at him much to the horror of the duo.

“No, don’t shoot. You will get us all killed. Look where he is headed.” Said Rohan.

Bala was shocked seeing the police station right in front and then looked at Kalu with the briefcase in his hand. A few constables who were outside were alarmed by the gun shots, one of the constables ran inside to call for back up. Kalu looked back and realizing that he had considerable support now decided to cross the road and head inside the station, however, while crossing and in his excitement, he did not see a car speeding towards him.

The driver pressed the brakes hard, but it was of no good as the car hit Kalu, the latter was thrown sideways and he fell with a thud, bleeding and writhing in pain. The briefcase that was in his hand flew out and fell on to a pickup truck. That very moment, the driver of the pickup truck started the engines and drove off much to the horror of Arjun and Rohan.

“Run!! Run behind the truck, we cannot lose that briefcase.” Exclaimed Arjun.

As the duo ran behind the truck, a few armed policemen came out and their eyes fell on Bala and his goons. Bala, fearing the worst, was the first to run followed by his goons, the armed policemen followed suit firing at the gang and ordering them to stop running.

Meanwhile, the pickup truck was going out of sight and the duo had to do something. Arjun saw an auto rickshaw, the driver had parked his vehicle and was a taking a leak at the public toilet, the former noticed that the driver had left his key on the vehicle and did not think twice. He got on to the vehicle and started the engine. Rohan was shocked at Arjun’s antics and exclaimed, “What the hell! You are stealing someone’s vehicle now!”

“Don’t you want your life back? That briefcase cannot fall into wrong hands and it is our duty to see to it that the same doesn’t happen. Ironic as it may seem, that briefcase is also the ticket to freedom for us. We have to get it back.” Arjun explained.

Rohan got on the back of the auto rickshaw while Arjun stepped on the gas, the driver came out and seeing his vehicle stolen started shouting for help.

Rohan looked back and then back at Arjun and said, “I don’t see how we are going to be free from this considering we have made a lot of people angry back there. They are like wolves now and they are all set to hunt in packs.”

“We are on a one-way trip, brother. Let us hope we can get out of this mess as fast as possible.” Said Arjun, shifting gears and speeding up the vehicle.

On the other side, Bala and his goons were behind a wall hiding as the policemen were searching for them. One of them got onto his radio and informed the headquarters about a gang who had fired at the police station.

“Oh no, this news is going to spread like wildfire. We are done for. It was a simple job we took and we have messed it up really bad.” Bala commented.

Suddenly, his mobile started to ring; Bala took it out and saw the screen. It was Salim.

“Whose mobile is ringing?” a policeman asked.

Bala and his goons looked at each other in horror. They were compromised and had to escape from there.

“RUN.” Bala yelled, as he and his goons scurried from the place.

The policemen started to fire at them and the goons returned fire. One of the goons was shot dead while another one injured. Seeing the condition of the goons, Bala’s last goon deserted him and ran out of sight. Bala hid himself again from the incoming fire while the injured goon called out to him for help, however, the former did not heed him. 2 policemen caught hold of the injured goon and took him into custody.

The other policemen slowly came forward to nab Bala but the latter was in no mood to get arrested. He came out of his hiding and started firing, a policeman was hit on the shoulder, he yelled in pain and fell to the ground. The other policemen returned fire and Bala was hit multiple times on his chest and stomach, he fell to the ground dead. The latter’s mobile phone came out of his pocket and fell to the ground; it was ringing again with the screen showing Salim’s name.

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Remote Out of Control Episode 3

The next day, Bala and 4 of his goons ‘escorted’ Arjun and Rohan to the railway station that needed to be bombed. The van stopped near the main gate.

“Here we are. Now listen both of you. No tricks, we have our eyes on you. We will be following your movements. You should place the bomb on a compartment that has a lot of people in it. A lot of local trains pass here, so, you just need to get into one of them. Place it in an area where no one would even think about looking at it or searching for it. Once you are done, you will come back straight to this van. You even think about trying to escape, we will shoot you. I hope I am clear.” Bala instructed.

Arjun and Rohan looked at each other and then back at Bala, they nodded their heads in agreement and got off the van. They walked towards the station closely followed by 2 goons. Once inside, they tried to locate a busy compartment and found one.

“If you have a plan, please tell me. No way, we are doing this. We will be in a heap of trouble if we do this.” Rohan whispered to Arjun.

“Yeah, we will. Let us see what we can do.” Said Arjun.

A train had stopped at the station and passengers had lined up to board the train. Arjun and Rohan stood in one of the lines and was about to board the train when something unexpected happened. A thief came out of nowhere, snatched the briefcase from Arjun and ran as fast as possible.

Arjun and Rohan were totally confused; they didn’t understand what to do except to give chase. The 4 goons followed the duo. One of the goons called up Bala to give him the bad news, “Boss, the plan has failed. A thief came and stole the briefcase from Arjun. What do we do now?”

“WHAT! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” Bala yelled.

He kept his mobile down and thought hard.

“Well, the plan is simple. To detonate the bomb in a busy area, I just have to press the remote and… BOOM! Mission accomplished.” Saying, Bala took out the remote from his pocket and pressed the button. He was in for a shock as there was no explosion. Desperate, he kept clicking the button without any result.

“No, no, no… This can’t be happening.” Bala reacted, punching the roof of the van. He then looked at the driver and shouted, “What are you waiting for, you miserable oaf? Step on the gas, we need to get out of here and find the briefcase.”

As the driver started the engine, Bala called up Salim to give him the news.

“Sir, the bomb did not explode.” Said Bala.

“What do you mean the bomb did not explode?” asked an irritated Salim, he had his TV switched on waiting for the news of the explosion.

“The remote, sir… the remote is not working. I am clicking the button while speaking to you but there is no explosion.” Said Bala.

“You don’t say! Unbelievable! Alright, bring the briefcase to the hideout. We will check it.” Said Salim.

Bala was hesitant to reveal the truth; however, he had to say it. Mustering courage, he blurted out, “Sir, well… that is where the problem starts. Arjun was about to enter a compartment to place the briefcase, however, a thief came from nowhere and stole it. Arjun, Rohan and the goons have run behind the thief to catch them.”

Salim let out a barrage of abuses which were so dirty to hear that Bala had to keep his mobile away from his ear for a minute or so.

“If that briefcase falls into the hands of the police, we are all done for. Retrieve that briefcase at any cost, or I will kill you. I will kill all of you, you good-for-nothing wretches.” Saying, Salim hung up the phone and sat on his chair. He wiped his forehead; he couldn’t understand what to do next. His mobile rang and he looked at the screen. It was Arbaaz, the leader of a terrorist organization that assigned the job to Salim.

“What is going on? Why hasn’t the bomb exploded?” Arbaaz asked in an irritated tone.

Salim couldn’t understand what to say, he began to shiver in fear and stammered. Arbaaz was getting even more irritated and yelled at Salim, “What is wrong? I asked you a question, isn’t it? Why hasn’t the bomb exploded?”

Salim blurted out his answer, “The bomb will not explode. Bala clicked the button on the remote but the bomb did not explode. We don’t know what happened… I thought the bomb was programmed properly, yet it did not explode.”

“That is impossible. Nothing like that can happen… unless and until, someone tampered with the briefcase.” Said Arbaaz, he then questioned Salim again, “Did you or anybody else try to open the briefcase without our permission?”

Salim went round-eyed at that question and retorted, “No one opened the briefcase. The briefcase was always with me and heavily guarded by my men.”

There was no answer for some time, Arbaaz took a deep breath and said, “Hmmm… only one way to find out. I am coming to your hideout to check the briefcase. You, on the other hand, try to find out who tampered with the circuits of the bomb.”

Salim’s heart skipped a beat; he couldn’t believe what he just heard. The briefcase was not with them, it was stolen and Salim had to reveal that truth. Still shivering with fear, he spoke out, “The briefcase has been stolen from the railway station.”

“What do you mean by ‘stolen’? What kind of people have you hired to place the bomb? I have paid you a million dollars for this work because your boss asked me to trust you and this is the result you have shown. I should have done this job myself than to lay faith on a bunch of incompetent idiots. You better retrieve that briefcase before it falls into the wrong hands or you people are dead.” Said Arbaaz.

Salim kept the phone down; he looked at the roof and sighed.

“What have I got myself into? What do I do now? I hope Bala is able to retrieve the briefcase or we are all done for.” Salim thought.

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Resilience Episode 10

Epilogue

“My lord, he is here.” Said Armaan.

“Of course. Where else would he be? He has nowhere else to go, isn’t it?” Zubin responded with a smirk.

Code Red walked towards Zubin and bowed before him, and spoke up, “I am sorry, My lord. I tried but…”

Zubin cut him short and said, “We had our hands on a power which even the God’s cannot fathom. The ultimate power of destruction that can make any species quiver in fear.

That was what we wanted. We wanted subjugation but you… You had it destroyed.”

“I am not here to make excuses, My lord… I have none…” Code Red tried to explain, however, Zubin was not in a mood to listen.

“Take off your helmet when you are talking to me. Only cowards cover their face.” Said Zubin, and the next moment, Code Red’s helmet got removed by itself not only revealing the formers power of telekinesis but also, the man behind the helmet. It was Avesh.

“You know why I wear the helmet. It is important for me to hide my identity. It is perhaps the very reason why I was able breach the defences of BASE.” Said Avesh, he was angry but was controlling his tone.

“Even with your helmet on…. You are nothing but a coward. The first sign you get, running becomes your first option and not to stand back and fight.

You have been given an armour yet you still run. I have taught my children to run towards victory but not run away from it.

You are slowly becoming a disgrace for the Nationalist Corp.” said Zubin.

“I cannot risk my capture, not at this moment. I still have a lot to do and lot to find out about BASE. That is the mission you have given me and I will see to it that I complete it.” Said Avesh, breathing heavily to control his anger.

Zubin started laughing at that comment. He got up from his seat and still looking down on Avesh, activated a door which revealed a giant window. Outside, Zubin, Armaan and Avesh could see a platform and on it a console.

What’s more, they could also see 10 pyramids, the same size as the one that was unearthed from planet SC120.

Zubin spoke up while walking back  towards Avesh, “You were given a responsibility and you should have continued with it but you wanted to command an army and also achieve glory with this mission.

I should have given this mission to somebody else… Armaan, maybe… but when you requested for it, I kind off believed in you but you failed.

This was a big mistake on my part. I can salvage it by killing you but I require every man, woman and child for this. You people do not understand the reason why we are doing this… why I am doing this, don’t you? ”

Avesh took the courage to look up and caught a glimpse of Zubin. He was not human yet looked like a human. His eyes were red and glowing. He was tall, about 9 feet tall.

“This is the first time you are seeing me close, isn’t it? Yes, I am no human. I am a Gandharva, times have changed and we now bear the responsibility to protect the universal time-line.

It has been foretold, Avesh. Humanity is doomed and no one can stop it… not even the God’s. So, listen to what I say if you want to survive the coming fire.” Said Zubin, as both Avesh and Armaan trembled in fear at those words.

To be continued….

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Remote Out of Control Episode 2

Few hours later, Rohan woke up to find himself in a small room filled with machinery parts and tools. He could feel a sharp pain on his head. He looked around confused, “Where the hell am I? What happened and what have I done to deserve this?”

He then noticed another man lying on the floor in the room, he was still tied up and his face was covered with a rough mask. He slowly moved towards the man and removed the mask. He was shocked to see that it was Arjun. He immediately untied him and made him sit up. Slowly, Arjun woke up and looked around dazed, “Where am I? What the hell happened? Rohan, you still haven’t left the place? Are we dead or what?”

“Come on, brother. Wake up… WAKE UP.” Rohan yelled at Arjun, the latter now came to his senses and stared at Rohan. He then looked around.

“Where am I? And… what are you doing over here?” asked Arjun, he clutched his head while he spoke indicating that he was also hit on the head.

“We have been kidnapped, but, why us! What can we or our families possibly give them?” Rohan commented.

“Indeed, I can understand someone like me being kidnapped, however, they would be in for a shock if they realized that I have lost everything, yet, considering they have kidnapped you… this is about something else then. Man, I got a bad feeling about this.” said Arjun.

Suddenly, the door opened and a burly man came in followed by 4 goons.

“I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to both of you; however, we have a requirement for a job that needs to be completed at the earliest… and you are the right people to do it.” said the burly man.

Arjun and Rohan looked at the group and then looked at each other. They did not speak; however, they had the same thought. They couldn’t fight them all… not at this juncture.

“My name is Bala. Follow me, and yes… no wrong moves. We are courteous but we aren’t decent.” Said Bala, revealing his pistol.

The duo realized that they were brought here to do something illegal, yet they decided to yield to the demands of the burly man for the moment. They followed Bala and his goons to a bigger room where there were more goons standing. In the middle of the room, was a table and a man wearing a costly attire was seated on a cushioned chair, smoking a cigar. Arjun and Rohan noticed a briefcase on the table.

“Salim sir, I brought them here.” Bala addressed the seated man.

Salim got up from his seat and looked at the duo with full scrutiny. He then smiled at them and sat on the table.

“You both must be wondering why we have brought you here. We are in need of your service. We know everything about you. Our job demands that we get to know the people that can be helpful for us and also, helpful for our business.” Said Salim.

“What do you want from us? And what makes you think we are suitable for your business?” asked Rohan, giving an indication that he may have understood what was going on.

“The work that I am going to assign to you is dangerous, yet, you will be paid well. Tell you what… I will make you both rich in a matter of minutes so that you can live your life the way you want.” Said Salim.

Arjun and Rohan stared at Salim and then at each other, a man stood before them offering them riches, however, it still made no sense as to why them and what was the job that was so dangerous.

“What do you want us to do? What kind of job? And how dangerous is it?” Arjun asked.

Salim touched the briefcase and said, “You have to take this briefcase and place it in one of the busiest railway stations of this city. Nothing else… just take it inside; place it in an area which doesn’t seem suspicious and walk out without anyone noticing you. A simple job and I assure you; you will be paid well for it.”

The duo was still confused, what was in that briefcase… drugs, illegal products… or something worse than that.

“What is in that briefcase?” Rohan asked.

“That is none of your business. The contents of this briefcase are confidential and you are only required to do what I ask you to do.” Said Salim, his smile vanishing in an instant.

“You expect us to pull a job for you with an expectation that you can trust us and we can believe in you, yet you hold secrets. We can understand that we are at gun point; we realize that if we refuse, you will kill us. If that is the case, then you better kill us for we are not doing this.” Said Arjun, with a firm tone.

Salim walked towards the duo; his smile was back.

“On the contrary, you will do this job. If not you, then your new friend, Rohan will definitely.” Said Salim.

Rohan stared at Salim again; the latter took out a photo and showed it him.

“This is your mother, isn’t it? What will happen when she gets to know that you are working for me? How will she react when someone walks up to her and says that you have turned to crime to fill their empty stomach? Can she bear this?” Salim asked with a chuckle.

Rohan was furious, he couldn’t handle this anymore. He pounced on Salim and started punching him. Arjun watched in horror as the goons caught hold of Rohan and started thrashing him. Angered, he stepped in to help. He was able to bring down 3 of them, however, there were too many of them and it was his turn now to receive a thrashing.

“Enough!” Salim said raising his right hand, and the goons stopped. The former continued, “Unfortunate as it may sound, we still need them.”

Salim then walked towards Rohan who was groaning in pain. The former grabbed his collar and pulled him close.

“Alright, you wanted to know the contents of this briefcase, well then, listen clearly… the briefcase is actually a bomb.” The duo stared at Salim, shocked.

“We need this bomb to be delivered at the said railway station. What’s more, it is a station that has less security and therefore, it will be easier for people like you to get in and do the job.

I don’t think I need to explain anything further, do I? Now listen to me like a good boy, Rohan. I give you an hour to decide your next move. If you still think you can resist, well, god bless you for I have a good mind to kill you and your family.” Salim threatened, while Rohan could just look at him in anger.

Salim then ordered his goons to throw the duo back into the room again and the goons did the same. After they left and locked the door, Arjun, who was also in pain moved towards Rohan to check on him. Rohan was in tears, yet, he was still angered.

“What have we got ourselves into? What do we do now? I am willing to my end my life than to do this heinous crime… but, I am not alone. You are trapped with me… and they will kill my family too. There is no escape from here.” Said Rohan, clutching his head in despair.

Arjun knew Rohan was right, and said, “Indeed, even I am fine with dying. Besides, I have nothing to lose, yet, the same cannot be said about you and the world. From what I could see, these people are true to their words. They will go to any length to cover their tracks.”

“So what do we do now? Don’t tell me we have to deliver the bomb! A lot of people will die because of us.” Rohan reacted.

Arjun was silent; he did not have an answer for that. He thought hard but he could not find a solution.

“Let us flow with the river for now. Let us do what they have asked us to do.” Said Arjun.

Rohan stared at Arjun, he nodded his head in disagreement and said, “You are crazy. We cannot do this. I don’t think I can muster that courage to plant a bomb and see innocent lives being taken just like that.”

“We have no other choice. They will kill us and find someone else to do it. If they disagree, they will again find somebody else. I don’t know whether we have a chance at escaping from their clutches, but know this, if we get an opportunity, we will take it.” Said Arjun.

Rohan couldn’t understand what Arjun was saying. Was Arjun planning something? If he was, then what was it? Only time would tell.

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Resilience Episode 9

Birth of Legends

Karan, Shekhar, Jenny and Sulaiman were out of danger from any Infection, however, while Poorna was not affected by the radiation, not everything was good for her. Due to the fact that she did not receive medical attention quickly, her left leg was badly affected and had to be amputated.

The doctors, however, had a prosthetic leg surgically attached yet, Poorna was still heart broken.

“Don’t worry, Poorna. This is life, this is our life as an elite… you will come out of it soon enough. Just be strong.” Said Shekhar.

“Maybe I will, Shekhar. However, the doctors have told me that it will take at least 6 months before I can walk into a battlefield. For now, no ground missions for me.” Poorna explained her condition.

That moment, General Bakshi and Lt. Col. Javed entered the room. Karan, Jenny and Sulaiman were also seated there. They stood up and saluted their seniors.

“I am not sure whether I deserve that but you people… a salute will not be enough to honour you. You have made us proud.

Karan, Shekhar, Jenny and Sulaiman… I need to speak to you people, if you don’t mind.” Said the General.

The group looked at each other confused yet they agreed.

“Javed, I will leave you here. Karan, the rest of you… follow me.” Said the General as he walked out and the group followed him.

Javed then walked towards Poorna and sat beside her.

“Poorna, I know about your condition. The doctors told me everything. I am sorry for whatever happened to you but believe me, to the world you are still a hero.” Said Javed.

“Thank you, sir. It is OK. I have nothing else to do but accept whatever has happened.” Poorna responded.

“Let me not beat around the bush, Poorna. Let us get straight to business. I am here with an offer. I got to know that you are good with communication devices and have extensive knowledge.

Ground missions are a strict no-no for you now but if you have no issues, how about rendering service at the BASE command centre.” Said Javed.

Poorna was surprised at the offer. She stared at Javed and then thought. She realized that if the situation would have been different, she would not be visited by distinguished people like the General or Javed, leave alone get an offer. She didn’t think twice.

“Thanks for the offer, sir. Count me in.” said Poorna.

Javed was delighted and shook hands with her.

At the meeting room aboard BASE REPUBLIC, the cadets provided all details about their mission right from the start till end. They also showed video feeds from their camera that were mandatorily attached to their gears while Codename Indrajeet took notes for documentation.

The General was quite overwhelmed with all the details provided, he sighed deeply, got up from his seat and then look at the open space through a giant size window.

“I was under the impression that the anti-nationals were just another brigade or rogue army standing against the system that the nation functions with.

However, after hearing all this and the fact that they have gained access to a technology that is not human in nature questions all our beliefs. We are dealing with an army that is hell bent on universal domination and could go to great lengths to achieve that.

This is disturbing and if we don’t get to the bottom of this, find out what other plans they have… we have a tough fight on our hands.” Said the General.

He then came back to the table and looked at the young soldiers, and continued, “You elites have done the extraordinary, I really can’t imagine how you survived such an ordeal considering you people are still inexperienced in the eyes of the world.

Well, I guess that is how experience is gathered. When a man finds his back against the wall, he either surrenders or he pushes himself forward. You elites not only pushed yourselves forward but literally made the enemy retrace their steps.

That being said, Cadet Karan… I have an offer for you. Would you like to lead a team?”

Karan was shocked at that question, while the others looked at each other. A smile sprouted on everyone’s face as they looked at Karan waiting for an answer.

“Sir, I…  I am not sure I am ready for it. Besides, I don’t think… I have that potential for someone to listen to me… or maybe, work with me.” Said Karan, in a tensed tone.

The General couldn’t help but laugh. Looking at Codename Indrajeet, he said, “He made someone like Lt. Atif listen to him, so much so that the latter forgot that he outranked him. He motivated these people to such an extent that an entire anti-national armada quivered in front of them.

What’s more, that pyramid over there lies in ruins… and it is all because of them. Yet, the great Karan Bose doubts that he has potential.”

Karan hung his head in embarrassment, something that confused his friends.

The General then looked at Karan’s friends and asked, “What do you say, people? Shekhar, Jenny, Sulaiman… if I make a squad out of you people, would you accept Karan as your leader.”

The others looked at each other again, their expression was enough to prove that they were ready yet, Karan was still in doubt.

Shekhar knew what was going on in Karan’s mind and spoke up, “Sir, give us a few minutes. We are already honoured by the belief that you have on us to be a squad. Give us 5 minutes and you will have our decision.”

The General smiled, he looked at Codename Indrajeet and nodded his head indicating to move out with him to which the latter agreed. After they moved out, Karan got up from his seat and walked towards the window. The others got up and joined him.

“I can’t do this. I am not confident enough to take up this responsibility.” Said Karan.

Shekhar touched Karan’s shoulder, comforting him, he said, “We have all gone through a lot in these few hours… and we did a fine job. When we lost our leaders, I thought that it was all over yet, you were the one who did not give up and started pulling the strings. Yet, you say you cannot do it.”

“I still remember the time when Codename Krishna gave up his life to save us, Major Govind was killed brutally and then, Major Jeffrey who got shot in the head.

Those memories will haunt us as long as we live yet if we continue to fight for what is right, we will live with the hope that the souls of those we lost will rest in peace.

I saw how you rose up and stood up against Code Red while most of us thought that we were done for. The way you motivated us to fight back and were ‘commanding’ us… you have what it takes to be a leader.” Said Jenny.

“If you remember, Karan… when we were at the BASE park watching that statue, I told you that when you get the chance… you will definitely prove your worth. Well, this is the chance that… not just you… but we all were waiting for.

We proved our worth and now, it is time we carried this.” Said Shekhar.

Sulaiman didn’t know about anyone with whom he was standing with, yet looking at Karan who was still in doubt, he decided to make a revelation, he spoke up, “I am really not sure if I can ever be a proper combat soldier or an elite considering I always wanted to be a pilot. If you remember, Jenny… when our carrier was hit and it crashed, I was devastated when I found my co-pilot dead. Her name was Aarti, my senior and mentor… the reason behind my success as a pilot.

I couldn’t save her and I cursed myself  for it. I wanted to avenge her and therefore, I tagged along with you guys. I realized that we are all the same. Everyone of us over here, even if we are a group or a team, is fighting an inner battle.

Not for honour, not for some shining medals on our uniforms… but to be the best, to prove a point. After we lost the last of our leadership, even I felt that what can we do now… just a handful of us. What are we without a leader, it is like being a snake… nothing happens if you cut its tail but you cut its head, the body is nothing.

However, when you took charge, Karan, that is when I realized that to be a leader is to take responsibility… for your actions, for your squad, your friends, family… everything. You don’t need to be promoted to be called a leader. You only need to do something… something that will make the world listen to you without looking at your badge, your medals… or your past.

In that single moment, you took charge and all we could do was just marvel at how, even in a moment of despair, you had the confidence that we can take this fight to our enemies.”

Karan couldn’t believe what he was hearing and turned around to face Sulaiman.

“Besides, every squad needs a leader, it is but a regular norm. You will be leading this team but it is up to us to decide whether to listen to you or not… just for the record.” Said Sulaiman with a smirk.

It didn’t take the others to understand that sarcasm. Shekhar and Jenny burst out laughing while Karan shook his head in disagreement and embarrassment.

“Damn, never knew I could bring so much revelation. If that is the case, then there is no turning back. We are a squad now… and that is final.” Said Karan.

“There is something that you people need to know. Since the inception of BASE 50 years ago, this will be only the 10th time a new squad was created.” Said Shekhar.

“10th time? Only 10 times? Why?” Jenny asked.

Shekhar replied, “We are elites, Jenny. We can be replaced. We were all part of a squad. We would have been assigned again to the other squads that are available. Instead, the General has noticed something about us. Why would he place this offer before us then?”

Jenny then remembered about her squad, she felt a lump in her throat due to the realization that she was the only one who survived.

Karan understood what Jenny was thinking, he touched her shoulder and said, “I know what you are thinking. Don’t worry. We are in this together… and we are together now. We may be replaced but we should not be concerned about that.

As long as God keeps us alive, we will live on, fight on and when the time comes, go out with a bang. Team, what do you say?”

The others smiled and replied, “Sir, yes, sir.” to which Karan replied, “Oh, come on… don’t ‘sir’ me, I will always be KARAN to you guys.”

The group received a heroic welcome from the security elites and the citizens.

After 2 days, a ceremony was first held in remembrance of the fallen elites. This was then followed by a ceremony to introduce the new squad to be led by Karan.

 BASE officials, dignitaries, VIPs, the citizens including the family and relatives of the squad were invited and they gathered at the ceremony hall.

It was a red-carpet affair as Karan walked with his teammates, Shekhar, Jenny and Sulaiman. They were being cheered as they walked up the stairs. The General stood along with the Major General waiting to welcome them.

They saluted the General and the Major General after which the General ordered Karan to step forward to which the latter duly complied.

“We are all proud of you and wish you all for a successful career with BASE. Karan, the first promotion that a security elite receives is of a lieutenant and therefore, here is your badge for the same.

Now, you will need to ask the approval of your squad to accept you as a leader and if they accept, they will fire their weapons in the air. If they don’t, they will keep their weapons holstered. Go on and go forth, Karan… and lead your team.” Said the General.

Karan saluted again, he turned around to face his squad and walked up to them.

He spoke up, “I am Lt. Karan, leader of this squad. Do I have your approval for that?”

The squad members looked at each other, even though it was a solemn occasion, they couldn’t help giggling. Karan couldn’t help feeling embarrassed, he smiled as he scratched his head looking down.

The General noticed this, smiled and said to himself, “Kids.”

The squad members somehow controlled their giggling and then, took out their auto-pistols and fired in the air.

Karan couldn’t help feeling happy. He joined his squad and along with them, looked at the audience who were now giving them a standing ovation.

Shekhar noticed Poorna standing in the front row along with Lt. Col. Javed. Poorna felt so happy for him and the others, more so, she felt happy that they were all together.

For some reason, Jenny looked back and noticed the Major General. The latter was not so happy and looked disinterested, something that confused Jenny.

“What shall we name our squad?” asked Shekhar.

Karan stared at Shekhar confused. He didn’t think of a name yet, however, he had to do it fast. His eyes fell on the tattoo on his fist. He smiled at it and replied, “TRIDENT”.

Back to main

Resilience Episode 8

Nuclear Countdown

“Sir, those elites have taken over the command centre, they have successfully synced the pyramid with their systems. We will need to reprogram the pyramid again to function according to our directives.” Said Naveen.

Code Red was inside the pyramid and along with his guards, was walking towards the control centre.

“They are fools to think that they have everything under their control. The fate of humanity has been foretold yet, we have been given the responsibility to ensure our survival. We are here for a noble task so nothing should stop us.” Said Code Red.

Naveen was confused and asked, “Code Red, what do you intend doing?”

The group reached the control centre, Code Red took out a device and looking at Naveen, answered, “I am going to override the controls, our equipments or weaponry may not be under our control but the pyramid surely is. I am going to activate it and then… detonate it.”

Naveen was shocked, he shook his head in disagreement and retorted, “That was not the plan. You wanted to use the power to have the citizens submit themselves to our ideologies, not kill them.”

“We have colonized around 13 planets yet, SC120 is the main headquarter. Destroying this planet means the other planets would be in the dark and we can easily conquer all.” Code Red explained.

Naveen was still not convinced, he watched Code Red insert the device on a box and typed in a code. The lights on the box turned green and the pyramid rumbled indicating that the controls had been overridden.

“You are going to detonate this? You going to kill everyone on this planet? ” Naveen asked, feeling confused and dazed.

Code Red lost his patience after watching Naveen losing track of his goals and shouted at him, “Oh, for crying out loud! What did you expect when you joined this Corp? What do you think we are… Social Reformers chanting the mantra of non-violence.

We are the Nationalist Corp, created to ensure the survival of humanity. Bred to see to it that we achieve that goal by overthrowing the authority that is forcefully leading humanity to extinction.

What were you thinking when you picked up that weapon in your hands? What were you thinking when you took the lives of the elites?”

Naveen clutched his head in guilt and anxiety. He responded in a low tone, “I did it because you said that for the survival of humanity, the blood of a few had to be spilt. I, therefore, agreed to your words… we all did.

I thought you are a leader who knew what you are doing but now…”

An angry Code Red interrupted Naveen, “Now what? What is the matter with you? Get a grip now, comrade. You are wasting our time.”

Naveen slowly looked up and then aimed his rifle at Code Red, the latter stared at him in disbelief.

“No one will forgive me for the crimes I have committed but I can atone for my sins by killing you… all of you.” Said Naveen, he was in tears now.

Code Red had enough, he stepped forward and Naveen fired his rifle. The former was wearing an Armour system that protected him from the barrage of bullets, he kicked the weapon out Naveen’s hand and grabbed his throat.

Naveen struggled to get out of Code Red’s grasp and tried to punch and kick him but the latter was stronger, his grasp became harder and within minutes, Naveen chocked and died. Code Red threw Naveen to the lower grounds and returned back to the console.

He clicked a few button and the timer was set at 10 minutes. The BASE command centre immediately got wind of it.

“Sir, the pyramid…  it has been set to detonate after 10 minutes. “ said Javed.

“How is that possible? I thought the pyramid was under our control?” the General asked.

“Code Red… he must have overridden the controls of that pyramid.” Said Javed.

General Bakshi immediately contacted Karan and forwarded the news, “Karan, looks like Code Red has overridden the controls. If you are planning on doing something, you better do it now.”

Karan couldn’t believe what he just heard and asked, “How did he do that?”

“I wish I had an explanation, son. For now, you have 10 minutes to stop the detonation.” The General responded.

Karan and the others were shocked, however, the former thought hard and realized one thing.

“Sir, if Code Red can override the controls, we can do it too. Overriding the controls has only resulted in the pyramid being open to every one now.

Hack into the mainframe, sir, and try to stop the detonation. We are enroute and will do whatever it takes to bring Code Red to justice.” Said Karan.

Both the General and Lt. Col. Javed looked at each other and nodded their heads in agreement. The General acknowledged Karan’s words and then turned to the command centre officials and said, “I want everyone to hack into the controls and stop the detonation. It does not matter if it is ethical or unethical. If you people need outside support or experts, tell me and I will get them for you.”

The command centre officials got to work immediately. Back at the pyramid, Code Red looked at the countdown, turned towards his men and said, “We have enough time to get into the ship and get out of this planet. I need 2 of you to remain here and guard the console, in case anybody comes to hack it. 3 minutes into the countdown, I will contact both of you to rush towards our ship and we will escape far enough to see the fiery spectacle.”

Code Red’s guards acknowledged. 2 remained while the others walked away. Outside, the anti-nationals outside the bunker were keeping their weapons ready, expecting the security elites to come out any moment.

“This is it, people. There is no turning back now. We are going in.” said Karan.

“Actually, we are going out.” Jenny commented, and the others couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

“Yeah, right!! My bad, Jenny. We are all going out. You are happy now!!” Karan said, shaking his head in embarrassment.

He then raised his hand and said, “On my signal!”

Atif and Sulaiman clicked a switch which lead to the conversion of the tanks from legs to giant sized wheels. Karan then said Move, and the drivers sped the tanks out of the bunker. Once outside, the others fired the mini-guns and grenade launchers to keep the anti-nationals at bay.

From BASE REPUBLIC, Lt. Anuj was able to view this.

“They are mad. They will get caught in the range of the cannons and they will definitely not survive it.” Said Lt. Anuj.

Codename Indrajeet looked at the screen and said, “Not if we could help. They are headed straight towards the door of that pyramid. They wouldn’t change their course until and unless it is required.

They are using tarantula tanks and no obstacles can stop those mean machines. Position the cannons to fire only on the right and left of the tanks, the tank operators will take care of the stragglers.”

Codename Indrajeet’s order was duly complied and the cannons were positioned accordingly.

While the BASE elites stopped for nothing, they suddenly heard a boom and looked up at the sky to guess the source. They could see a streak of light coming down and before they could realize what it was, it hit the ground causing a huge explosion that killed multiple enemy forces.

It was cannon fire from the space stations with Codename Indrajeet saying, “It’s boom time, my old friends.”

Cannon fire continued resulting in extensive loss and damage for the anti-nationals, the security elites cheered in unison as they stopped for nothing and were soon nearing the pyramid doorway.

Karan checked his watch, they had just 5 minutes and he contacted the General again, “Sir, any luck? We are almost at the doorway.”

The General looked at the command centre officials for an answer.

“The system is beyond us, sir. We are unable to bypass the encryption… leave alone hack it.” Said a command centre official.

The General had no other choice but to relay the same to Karan.

“We were already on a one way trip, sir. You guys did your best. Either we will succeed or we will see ourselves on the other side. Thanks for the support, sir. Over and out.” Said Karan.

Karan then looked at the others, they realized that it was too late now and they could only hope for a miracle.

At the BASE command centre, Javed looked at the General who slowly sat down on a seat feeling helpless and disappointed. The former took a deep breath, walked towards his seat and looked at the pyramid schematics again. He cracked his fingers and knuckles, and tried to hack it.

The command centre officials could see Javed at work on the big screen as he did not move his eyes from his system. Murmurs began which confused the General, even he looked at the screen and then turned around to see Javed trying his best.

At the pyramid, Karan and his colleagues reached the doorway and got down from the tanks. They looked back at the destruction caused by the space cannons, the entire anti-national army in the area had been obliterated. Karan looked at his watch, they had just 3 minutes.

“We cannot just sit here and wait for a miracle. Let us get in and try to reach the console.” Said Jenny.

A disheartened Karan looked at Jenny, and then at the others. He nodded his head in agreement and was about to walk towards the door when they received a communication. It was Lt. Col. Javed.

“Cadet Karan, this is Lt. Col. Javed. You have 30 minutes to get to the console and stop it. That is the best I could do… the best our ‘outdated’ systems could do.”

Everyone, including the General was surprised to hear that. The General shook his head in disbelief, he then spoke, “Karan, you heard what Javed said. We will still try and see if we can stop the countdown. Get to the console, elites…  and if possible, try to capture and bring Code Red alive.”

“We will try, sir… though I hardly feel he would cooperate with us considering he is trying to wipe us out.” Karan responded.

“Well, in that case… put a bullet in his head if that is the only option we have left. There is no other option. He is created enough of a mess… and he has to pay for it to the last dime.” Said the General.

“Acknowledged, sir, we will keep you posted.” Karan replied.

He then turned to his colleagues and said, “We are going into extra time. Let us make it count.”

The others acknowledged, however, Atif and kishore were smiling at Karan which confused the latter.

Atif came closer and said, “Karan, I wanted to tell you this but… the way you were pulling the strings, I couldn’t help but shut up. I am a lieutenant, Karan… which means I am the senior officer here.”

Karan and the others were surprised, the realization dawned on Karan that he had completely forgotten the principles of hierarchy. He hung his head in shame and said, “I am sorry, sir. I… I was deeply saddened by Major Jeffrey’s death and therefore, I took the responsibility upon myself…”

Atif stopped him and said, “Come on, Karan, now you are embarrassing me by apologizing. We believed in the hierarchy only till we lost our leadership in this battle. We thought that our targets or our goals are nothing without a guide or a leader.

All those times were spent in thinking about how… how we would succeed without our leaders, but then I saw you rising up in place of everyone. You did not care about your little experience in warfare, you did not care about who was the senior or the junior… all you cared about was that we are a team. We are still together and we can still fight.

You are a fighter, Karan. You may not have the skills that others over here have yet, you did not feel bad or jealous about it. You embraced it and utilized those talents for our success. That is the true mark of a leader… and you will one day grow to be the ultimate leader BASE has produced.”

Karan looked at Atif, he felt motivated by those words and with a smile said, “Thank you, Sir.”

“Kishore and I will see to it that no one enters the pyramid, there may still be enemies or re-enforcements coming. The air has cleared, and air support is on its way. Stop the countdown…  and best of luck.” Said Lt. Atif.

The others responded in unison, “Sir, yes sir.”

Karan and his friends went in while Atif and Kishore got on a tarantula and decided to scout the area. As the first group entered the inner domain, the people couldn’t help but marvel at the architecture.

“Well, it is official… this is alien in nature.” Said Shekhar.

“Ironic, isn’t it? You can see words written on the walls in Sanskrit, yet we are calling it alien.” Commented Sulaiman.

“No human hand could have created this massive structure. We are dealing with something or… someone highly intelligent than us.” Said Poorna.

“Well, I am not concerned about a species intelligent than us… not at this moment. What I am concerned about is that why should an intelligent species hand over their toys to someone mediocre?” asked Jenny.

“Yeah, why the anti-nationals and not us?” Asked Shekhar.

“We will have all the time to find the answers once we stop the detonation. If this thing detonates, we might end up meeting with the intelligent species that gave this toy to them.” Said Karan.

“There is a lift ahead. Let us finish this.” Said Jenny.

“Why do I have the feeling that we are just getting started?” Asked Karan.

The others, hearing that comment, looked at each other confused. They got on the lift and looked for a switch. As usual, it was Shekhar who found it and the lift moved upwards.

“Shekhar’s romance with buttons and switches continue. I hope I am not replaced by a button in his life.” Poorna commented.

Jenny giggled at that comment while Shekhar stared at her.

Karan, with a smile, said, “If we survive, I will tell you an incident about Shekhar and me. For now, fingers on your trigger and be prepared.

There is definitely someone waiting for us and from what I understood about them… they hate gate crashers.”

The lift stopped and the people could see the console in the distance. Jenny aimed her sniper at the console. The timer showed that 23 minutes were left.

“We have 23 minutes, guys. It is now or never.” Said Jenny in a low tone.

“Stick together, check for movements here and there… our armour can protect us but not for long.” Said Karan.

“It is either Poorna or me, one of us need to reach the console to hack it and stop the countdown.” Said Shekhar.

“Well then, let us get to work. Jenny, you are the eyes and ears… see if you can find a spot and look for enemies here.

Sulaiman, we both have a big responsibility… escort service. Shekhar, stick with me… and Poorna, stick with Sulaiman.

Get to work.” Said Karan.

The others acknowledged, Jenny spotted railings on all sides. She holstered her rifle, moved to the left, took a deep breath, jogged on the same spot and dashed towards the wall. The others watched bewildered as Jenny climbed the wall without support and perched herself on the railing.

“When did she learn parkour?” asked Shekhar.

Karan smiled and replied, “I did it once… in the campus. She just got inspired. Now, that’s my girl. Let us move ahead.”

Outside, Atif and Kishore were informed about reinforcements coming in.

“We have 5 minutes before air support comes in. We have to halt their approach.” Said Atif and Kishore acknowledged.

That very moment, they could see a squad of soldiers coming in.

“Lt. Atif, there are close to a 100 soldiers coming in. Hang tight, support is on its way. The cannons are in recharge status and will take an hour for usage again.” Said Javed.

“Great, just when we really needed them. No issues, sir. We will give them hell.” Saying, Atif stepped on the gas and drove towards the anti-nationals.

The anti-nationals were alarmed and started firing at the tarantula. Atif and Kishore answered back brutally killing all of them.

“Is there anyone left? Does not matter we will take them down too.” Said Atif.

Suddenly, the tarantula was hit hard by cannon fire. Even though the Armour was hard, the duo within the tarantula were visibly shaken.

“Damn, they have got a scavenger. Who the hell is funding this army? If I get my hands on that person, I will crush his skull with my bare hands.” Saying, Atif drove the tarantula away from the area and got to cover.

Back inside the pyramid, the 2 groups moved towards the covers on both sides and then moved forward. Jenny was able see the area from where she was, realizing that there were covers above too, she aimed her sniper rifle and moved along with the groups.

She then spotted an anti-national, she activated her rifles silencer and pressed the trigger. The anti-national fell dead alarming the other anti-national.

“Guys, the anti-nationals are right in front, guarding the console. I took out one.” Said Jenny on her radio.

“You think you can stop us. You cannot. It is too late now. We will kill everyone of them who try to stop us from our cause.” Said the 2nd anti-national.

Karan moved forward and checked on his left, the anti-national was standing against a support and looking here and there. Karan didn’t waste time as he shot the anti-national on his head.

The people waited checking if the coast was clear or not, however, Poorna who was feeling impatient, rushed towards the console.

Karan spotted more anti-nationals coming from the right and yelled at Poorna, “Poorna… wait… no…”

It was too late as one of the anti-nationals fired his sniper, the bullet hit poorna’s left leg. The latter screamed in pain as she fell on the floor with a thud.

Shekhar was angered and wanted to confront the anti-nationals but Karan stopped him. Jenny watched helplessly as poorna was writhing in pain and desperately needed help. She got down and joined Karan and Shekhar. Sulaiman felt guilty for not being alert yet, he stayed in cover and slapped his forehead.

“Karan, Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna… we got a pilot too but I don’t know his name… as if I care. Never knew that a bunch of cadets would make my life hell.

It was perfect, everything was… my plans were all going smoothly but you BASE soldiers…. You are all stupid, all the same. No issues, you are like thorns and I need to remove you all.

My plan is set in motion. You think you can stop it. I have complete control of this console and no one can hack it. Everything is in my hands now.” It was Code Red.

Karan, Shekhar and Jenny were helplessly listening to Code Red’s words in anger and at the same time, feeling desperate to help Poorna who was losing consciousness and blood.

However, little did they realize that Sulaiman was planning to do something daring… in fact, he did it. While Code Red was speaking, he flanked the enemy from behind, he could see 4 guards and without further delay, fired at them. 2 guards were down and the other 2 returned fired.

Seeing this, Karan came out from his hiding and fired at Code Red and his remaining guards, one guard was killed. Code Red was again running away, Sulaiman came out of cover again and tried to stop the former but the last guard pushed the latter backwards allowing Code Red to escape.

“Run, behind him….he should not escape.” Said Karan, as he and Jenny followed Code Red.

The last guard was clinging on to Sulaiman’s rifle in order to grab it from him, however, the latter kicked him, the guard lost his grip and Sulaiman finished him off.

Shekhar ran towards Poorna, he took out his medkit, took out a painkiller and injected it. Poorna stopped breathing heavily, the pain vanished but she was still weak and needed immediate medical attention. Shekhar then checked the timer, they had 18 minutes before detonation.

Meanwhile outside, the scavenger came closer and Atif waited patiently for it to come in range. The moment the vehicle was within the reticule, Atif fired a rocket. The scavenger was hit but was still operational.

“We only brought down its shield. We need to drain the shield completely to destroy it.” Said Kishore.

“Sounds so easy in theory, isn’t it?” Atif asked, as he drove the tarantula backwards and continued firing.

The shields of the scavenger were coming down, the controller realizing this, fired an EMP round which lodged on to the belly of the tarantula and fried up all the machinery and systems.

“No… no… this ain’t good.” Exclaimed Kishore.

The scavenger controller took aim again and supercharged the cannon.

“This is bad. Kishore, get out of this thing.” Said Atif.

The duo rushed out of the tarantula and saw the scavenger. The controller fired the cannon, the duo jumped right on time as the tarantula exploded in a ball of flame.

The duo were thrown back a few feet away due to the explosion and due to the loud noise, they covered their ears. Atif somehow stood up to see the scavenger coming forward, there were more anti-nationals coming in.

He looked at kishore, the latter had seen it too and he hung his head realizing that this was it. There was no retreat or escape from here.

“It was an honour working with you, Kishore. We did our best.” Said Atif with a smile.

Kishore smiled back and said, “Seriously, dumbass!! Of all the people on this planet, you want me to die with you. No way, buddy… I am going home in one piece.” Said Kishore.

Atif stared at Kishore confused, he then heard a boom sound and the very next moment, it was the scavenger tank that exploded. So strong was the explosion that the tank was thrown 20 feet into the air.

Atif looked up and with a smile, nodded his head in disbelief. It was the air support and they reigned down on the remaining anti-national forces.

“We have still not heard from Karan and the others. We don’t have much time.” Said a concerned Kishore.

“Have faith, Kishore. They will succeed.” Atif responded while looking at the pyramid.

Meanwhile, Shekhar started working on the console hoping to hack it as quickly as possible and stop the detonation. Code Red ran as fast as possible to the hangar and commanded his remaining men to get on the ship and escape before it was too late.

However, Karan caught up and started firing at the group. The former brought down 2 more anti-nationals while Code Red ran inside the ship.

“Start the engines and get us out of here. We have no time to waste.” Said Code Red to the pilot.

The pilot was not convinced and responded, “But what about our men? We cannot leave them behind. We need them for our fight.”

Code Red had enough of people questioning his authority and seeing the nuclear countdown at 16 minutes was losing patience even more. He took out his auto-pistol and killed the pilot. He picked up and threw the lifeless body out of the seat, and then taking the seat powered up the engines.

Outside, Karan was being pinned down by heavy gun fire and was hiding behind boxes when suddenly, there were 2 loud bursts that brought down 2 more men. It was Jenny, she reloaded her sniper rifle and fired again killing 2 more. There were 3 anti-nationals remaining and they took cover.

Jenny joined Karan and both took aim only to find the ship boosters powering up.

“This can’t be. He is escaping. We have to stop him.” Said Karan, as he jumped over the boxes and ran towards the ship.

Jenny was horrified at Karan’s recklessness and yelled at him, “Karan, stop, don’t do it. You will get yourself killed.”

Karan paid no heed as he rushed towards the ship. The remaining anti-nationals were alarmed at this and fired at him but he dodged the incoming fire and fired back killing all 3 of them.

However, it was too late. Jenny ran in just in time to grab Karan and push him down. The boosters fired and the ship took off upwards and escaped from the pyramid through a shaft.

Karan couldn’t believe what happened. He stared at the shaft through which the ship went, he clutched his in head in disappointment and then looked at Jenny in anger.

“You want to fight him… then you have to be alive for that. We have to stop the countdown… and that is our primary objective.” Said Jenny.

She came forward and touched Karan’s hand in an effort to comfort him. The latter looked away from her, sighed deeply and then looked back at the shaft.

“We were so close, Jenny. So close to capturing him. What’s more, he definitely had the key or remote to stop the detonation.” Said Karan in a low tone.

“Let us go back. Shekhar would have surely found a way.” Said Jenny.

Karan looked at Jenny and nodded his head in agreement. They rushed back to the console to see Shekhar holding on to Poorna while Sulaiman was dressing up the latter’s wounds.

“Shekhar, what happened? Did you stop the timer?” asked Karan with baited breath.

Shekhar looked at Karan and Jenny, there was sadness and regret on his face as he got up and looked at the console again.

He then spoke up, “It is too late now. We do not have any means necessary to stop this detonation. This device has been created only for the purpose of detonation, it can only be initiated but not stopped.”

The others were shocked to hear it and stared at Shekhar in disbelief.

“There must be a way, Shekhar. At least some way to stop this.” Said a concerned Jenny.

Shekhar looked down and responded, “We can only hack it and increase the time limit to delay the detonation but not stop it. However, you see this red button over here.”

Karan, Jenny and Sulaiman came forward and looked at the red button.

“This switch over here… if I click it, this pyramid will take off and continue to fly upwards away from this planet. There must be a control room where this can be piloted but there is no time to find it.” Shekhar explained and it did not take time for the others to realize what it meant.

“So… there is way then. We cannot stop the detonation but… we can save the citizens.” Said Karan.

Everyone looked at Karan now, the latter did not think twice. He only looked at the timer, there was not much time left and considering they had no idea of how powerful the explosion would be, they had to get as far away from the planet as possible.

Karan clicked the switch and the pyramid rumbled indicating that it was ready for take off. He then contacted the BASE command centre.

“This is Cadet Karan, Sir. We have… we have something to say.” Karan started.

The General and the others at the BASE command centre were waiting with baited breath for any sort of communication from the group.

The General responded, “Yes, Karan. Is everything alright? Have you stopped the detonation?”

“No sir. There is no way we can stop it. The console only has the ability of initiation… we can somehow delay the timer but it will still not stop the detonation. There is only one way.” Said Karan, his voice choked as he said the words.

The General felt that something was wrong but couldn’t understand what. It was Lt. Col. Javed who revealed what was wrong, “Sir, the pyramid… it is flying upwards.”

Sure enough, not just the General, not just the BASE officials, even the citizens who were outside were able to see the pyramid. It had split into 3 parts and the mid portion was rotating slowly. It then speeded up and the very next moment, the boosters fired up with a boom. The pyramid shot up into the sky.

“Atif, what is going on? Why is the pyramid flying away? Karan and the others… they are still inside?” asked Kishore looking confused.

Atif stared at the pyramid and then contacted Karan on his radio, “Karan, can you hear me? Where are you guys? The pyramid… what have you guys done?”

There was no answer. There was tears in Karan’s eyes as he walked back and sat down next to Poorna. Jenny and Shekhar joined them. Realizing that they had just a few moments with them, they held each others hands.

The General once again asked, “Karan, what is going on? Answer me, goddammit.”

“We are not coming back, sir. We cannot come back… not without finishing this mission. This pyramid will go as far away from this planet as possible so that no one is killed or harmed.

In these final moments, I just want to say… Thanks to all of you… for all the support.” Said Karan.

It was a moment of realization for all of them. Everyone could see the pyramid as it soared in to the sky and then disappeared. The General realized that the group were making the ultimate sacrifice for the lives of the citizens and they were doing it without the slightest hesitation.

A few BASE officials had also realized this and had tears in their eyes. The General walked to the window and looked at the sky.

Karan continued, “Please tell our families, sir. Tell them that we are sorry that we couldn’t return but… in time, they will understand what we did and why we did it.

Thank you once again. Over and out.”

Karan removed his radio and looked at his friends. They were also in tears and were waiting for the countdown to reach zero. The pyramid was now in open space and the space stations could see them.

Codename Indrajeet ordered the stations to move to a safe distance to avoid the explosion. The countdown now showed 11 minutes as the pyramid was now as far from the planet as possible.

The BASE command centre received indication of the same and the officials now waited for the detonation. The General looked at the big screen which showed the names of the cadets that were on board the pyramid. He then remembered the time when he shook hands with Karan, with Jenny, with Shekhar and Poorna, they were in the top 5 of batch 150.

The General walked to the main panel, clicked a few keys on the board and within seconds, the whole nation including the ones on the space stations were seeing the brave elites.

The General then started to speak as the whole nation listened, “I do understand the responsibilities of being a soldier. Yet, it still pains my heart to see young bloods giving up their lives while we the old ones stare helplessly in regret.

I salute you, oh brave ones. I salute you for your courage…. Your vigour… you are and will always be an inspiration to all.”

The General stopped, stood fast and did a grand salute to the group. The others followed one by one. Lt. Atif and Kishore who were returning to BASE on a carrier heard this and even they saluted their colleagues.

Back at the pyramid, as the 4 friends waited for the detonation, Sulaiman suddenly came running towards them and after a slight hesitation said, “Guys… Uh… I hate to disturb this melodramatic situation but… you know… there is an anti-national super carrier docked at the far end of the hangar… and it is in operational status.”

Karan wiped his tears and looking at Sulaiman asked, “Did you just say… anti-national super carrier?”

Sulaiman stared at Karan, confused at the weird way the latter asked the question. So much so that he in turn answered in the same way Karan questioned, “Yes, anti-national super carrier.”

Suddenly, without warning, Karan got up frantically and ran towards the hangar leaving everyone shocked.

“He left us here. He didn’t tell us to get up. He plans to escape himself.” Said a heartbroken Jenny to which Shekhar scowled at her and said, “Don’t be stupid, Jenny. He never leaves anyone. Instead, he has given us a hint in the weirdest way possible that there is a bloody chance of survival. Now stopping dragging ass here and run behind him while I bring poorna.”

Sure enough, Jenny ran behind Karan along with Sulaiman. Shekhar was about to pick up Poorna but the latter stopped him.

“I will slow you down. Leave me here and run from this place. Please, don’t waste time on me.” Said Poorna.

Shekhar nodded his head in disagreement and carried her. He rushed towards the hangar saying, “You are not on the list of people who needs to be left behind. What’s more, I did not love you to leave you behind one day… but be beside you whatever happens.”

At the hangar, Sulaiman powered up the engines of the carrier while Karan and Jenny waited impatiently for Shekhar and Poorna to come. When they spotted them, Karan picked up a streture lying behind the seats and rushed towards them. He put it on the floor and Shekhar slowly put Poorna on the streture.

There were 5 minutes left and as Shekhar and Karan brought the streture to the carrier, Sulaiman spotted something.

“Guys, the shafts… they are closing. Better sit and fasten your seat belts. We need to get away from the blast radius as far as possible.” Said Sulaiman.

The others did the same and Sulaiman flew the carrier upwards. However, the shaft that he had targeted had closed. Without wasting anymore time, Sulaiman flew to the next one but it was the same.

“No way I am dying here… not when we have a chance of escape.” Saying, Sulaiman hovered the carrier and rotated it one time to spot 8 shafts.

He spotted the farthest one and realizing the shafts were closing one by one, he flew towards the 8th shaft. As he flew through it, the shaft door was closing.

“Come on, Sulaiman. You are our only hope.” Said Jenny.

“You bet I am.” Saying, Sulaiman yelled at the top of his voice while increasing the speed.

Before, the door could close, Sulaiman flew the carrier out of the pyramid and then stopped yelling. The others were panicking for so long but once they saw the open space through the windows, they realized that they were out of the pyramid.

Karan, Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna looked at each other, they were dazed, it took them a few seconds to realize that they had escape, they all then looked at Sulaiman and were filled with gratitude.

“You are the man, Sulaiman. You are the man.” Shekhar complimented.

“Hold your horses, people. We are not out of this yet. We have a minute before detonation so stay put in your seats. I am going as fast as possible… oxygen levels are good and so is the fuel level. Now keep your fingers crossed.” Said Sulaiman as he switched on auto-pilot.

The group waited with baited breath as the countdown slowly came to zero, there was a short pause after which the pyramid detonated in a huge ball of fire and debris. The carrier jolted and shook due to the rumbling. Everyone on the planet and the space stations could see the explosion.

“I have that confirmed, sir. The detonation was outside the planet’s atmosphere so we are safe.” Said Lt. Anuj.

“You heard that, General Bakshi. We are safe. Victory is ours for now.” Said Codename Indrajeet.

Everyone heaved a sigh of relief, and started congratulating each other. Javed was the first to spot something.

“Sir, you may want to see this.” Said Javed.

The General came towards the monitor that Javed was looking at. Every security elite had a tracking chip implanted in them that helped the BASE command centre to track or locate them in situations required. The General and Javed could see 5 trackers blinking in open space far away from the planet. Javed clicked a few buttons and the monitor scanned the area the blinks were detected and zoomed in on it.

“Sir, I don’t..  I don’t… believe this…” Javed started, the General was confused as to why the former was stammering and looked at the screen. His eyes widened, he couldn’t believe what he saw and immediately contacted Codename Indrajeet.

Codename Indrajeet was also perplexed when he heard it.

“They are alive! Seriously!!” Codename Indrajeet exclaimed. He immediately contacted the hangar and asked for any space carrier that was available.

The debris of the pyramid scattered through the vast open space and within the debris, the anti-national carrier was drifting away. Due to the explosion, the carrier was badly damaged.

The passengers had fainted due to the impact, however, Karan was the first one to wake up. He looked around and then looked outside through the window. Seeing the debris, he felt a sense of relief that they were able to save the planet.

He then checked on his friends. They were alive yet they were unconscious. As he thought about what to do next, he saw jenny getting up and clutching her head in pain.

“Jenny, you are alright?” asked Karan as he moved forward towards her.

Jenny looked around and then looked at Karan. She smiled at him feeling relieved that he was alive.

“We did it. It is unbelievable but we did it.” Said Jenny, tears welled up as she said that.

Karan couldn’t help but laugh, he kissed her forehead and hugged her. Sulaiman had also regained consciousness, even he looked around for sometime and then checked the carriers console.

He then turned around to see Karan and Jenny.

“You guys alright? We did face a hard impact due to the explosion.” Sulaiman asked.

“We are but Shekhar and Poorna… they are still unconscious.” Karan responded.

“Our trackers were already active. I am pretty sure they will find us though I cannot guarantee how long it will take. I have activated the carriers beacon too. We will have to play the waiting game for now.” Said Sulaiman.

“I hope they will find us soon. It will make no sense escaping from that pyramid and then dying in this vast open space.” Said Jenny.

“We have oxygen for at least 48 hours but the carrier is damaged. It is beyond repair. What’s more, the radio is destroyed and we have no means to contact anyone. Let us hope they find us soon enough.” Sulaiman explained.

“There is something big coming towards us.” It was Shekhar who had finally woken up and was able to see 3 giant super carriers coming towards them.

“They found us. Thank God.” Exclaimed Jenny.

Shekhar checked on Poorna and checked her pulse.

“How is she?” Karan asked.

Shekhar responded, “Not good, she needs medical attention. She lost a lot of blood. Her leg… she was hit just below her knee cap. I don’t know… I…”

“Don’t worry, Shekhar. Don’t worry., she will be fine. They have found us.” Said Jenny, trying to comfort Shekhar.

The 3 giant super carriers surrounded the anti-national super carrier, the one leading them brought out a crane and latched on to the super carrier and dragged it inside. The crew were wearing suits to protect themselves from radioactive particles generated due to the explosion.

“Cadet Karan, and the rest of you… this is Codename Indrajeet. You people have done a great job and made us proud. However, sorry for the inconvenience but due to the emission of radioactive particles, we will have to transfer you to a chamber to check if you are all infected and therefore, give a quick medical treatment.

Don’t worry, everything will be fine.” Said Codename Indrajeet.

The group realized that their personal radio were in range with the giant super carrier.

“Sir, this is Shekhar here. Poorna… she is hurt badly. I don’t think she has time. She needs medical attention more than us.” Said Shekhar, he was panicking now.

Codename Indrajeet looked at the others and immediately ordered for the carrier door to be opened. 4 men went forward and using crowbars opened the door. A streture was brought in and Poorna was put on it, and immediately rushed to the med bay.

“Don’t worry, Shekhar. She will be fine. It is time you people took care of yourself. Take them to the chamber, people. Get them treated quickly.” Said Codename Indrajeet.

As the giant carriers flew away from the debris, from a distance, someone was watching closely. It was Code Red. He banged his fist on the dashboard feeling disappointed, he clutched his head in anguish realizing that he had failed miserably and was answerable to his lord.

“I have failed. I don’t believe it. What are these people made of? Karan, Jenny, Shekhar… Damn you!! Damn you all to hell!!” Code Red yelled at the top of his voice.

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