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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Bombed 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”.

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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.

Back to Main

Resilience Episode 7

Turning the Tide

“It has been more than 2 hours since they have gone and yet, you people have no news about them?” asked an irritated General Bakshi.

“Sir, only one carrier returned and the pilots have submitted their reports. You may want to check this out.” Said Javed.

The General walked forward and looked at Javed’s monitor.

“Going by their reports and the constant monitoring of the elite’s trackers, this is what we could analyse. Prior to reaching the target area, the squads indicated that they are seeing something… something which was not of this world.” Said Javed.

The General stared at Javed, the latter could only shrug his shoulder and continue, “The very next moment, they were attacked by surface to air missiles and a few of those carriers were shot down. This is where things get really confusing. The squads were trying to re-group so that they could reach the target area as soon as possible but then there was a giant EMP wave that the structure emitted which fried all the devices and from then on, we are unable to contact any of the elites.”

The General sat down unable to comprehend what would have happen.

“Any survivors? Any transmission that indicates that they all survived?” The  asked.

“The first carrier that got hit… no survivors from that. If you look, sir… just before the EMP wave, I could see green dots which indicated that some of them survived. We just saw another EMP wave that hit us again and just before it fried up our systems, we saw green dots again for a few minutes and then it all disappeared.

Sir, I saw around 7 dots. I have bad news… Codename Krishna and Major Govind, they didn’t make it. Major Jeffrey is the only one alive and quite possibly, leading the mission.” Javed explained.

General Bakshi couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He got up from his seat and walked towards the window again looking at the same area where the beam of light was seen.

“Codename Krishna… dead… he was standing beside me a few hours ago and now… he is dead. Oh God… give us strength. Give us strength to fight… and to survive.” Said the General.

Javed walked towards the General and looked at him, a tear trickled down from the latter’s left eye. Javed wanted to say something but he stopped. He walked away from that place to leave the General alone for sometime.

Back at the industrial area, Major Jeffery and the elites were close to the target area.

“There are less buildings here, so we might get to see a ringside view of the structure.” Said Major Jeffrey.

“Hey guys, listen… Am I the only one who thinks that these SUVs should not be working? I mean the EMP wave fries up everything right. Even when the first wave hit, we were attacked by a super carrier and it was flying as though nothing happened.” said Karan.

The elites looked at each other and a few of them turned to Poorna for an answer. The latter scratched her head, even she didn’t realize this for so long, she commented, “I have heard of equipments before which can withstand an EMP, but an EMP of that size, this is ridiculous… how are these things functioning?”

“Guys, come on… this is not the time to be frustrated with things which we have no answer to. I know that there are some of you who have not seen warfare of this scale but that doesn’t mean you are inexperienced. Keep your head cool… and try to analyse the situation.

The career you people have chosen demands that you people have neutral stance to everything that happens. The more neutral you are, the more you can use your head and make decisions that can be fruitful to you and others.

Let us find a safe spot to start our operation and then we will have the time to discuss what we are really dealing with. Seriously though, I have a bad feeling that we are onto discovering something that no man has ever imagined… even dreamt about.” Said Major Jeffery.

The moment Major Jeffery said that, he saw a patrol coming from the right. There were 15 anti-nationals in an armoured truck along with 2 SUVs. The former stopped the SUV and the other driver did the same. The patrol leader saw the SUVs and asked his squad to stop.

“Nobody moves, nobody panics… Let us handle this like professionals. The slightest chance we can fight or escape, we will take it. Am I clear?” Major Jeffery asked and everyone acknowledged.

The leader of patrol squad came forward, however, instead of the first SUV, he walked towards the 2nd one.

“Oh no, Kishore is driving that car… and he is the one who always has a panic attack.” Said Atif.

“Yeah, well, just our luck. Hold your horses, let us just see what happens.” Said Major Jeffrey.

A few moments before this, Karan had found out that both the SUVs had spare anti-national uniforms in the boot. The elites planned to wear them in an effort to infiltrate the area where the pyramid was located.

“I hope the plan works, Karan or we will be done for.” Said Shekhar.

“What is the worst thing that can happen? If it works, we are good, otherwise, we will rip them apart like we always do and been doing.” Said Karan.

Kishore brought down the rear view mirror and the leader looked at him and the others suspiciously.

“Who is the leader of your squad?” the leader asked.

Kishore was on the verge of having a panic attack, he was sweating profusely now and sulaiman was quick to notice that the former was going for his auto-pistol.

Atif had heard what the leader said and communicated the same to Major Jeffery. The latter got out of the car and greeted the leader, “Hey there, I am the squad leader, Jeffery.

The leader looked at him from up to down, and then walked towards him.

“I am Kasim. We heard that BASE had sent their dogs to find out about our little secret, however, surface-to-air missiles were able to take them out. A squad was sent in to check for survivors, however, we have got no information. We lost contact and that is why we were sent to investigate.” Said Kasim.

Major Jeffrey looked at his squad and then back at Kasim.

“We are the ones that were sent to scout the area and search for those dogs. They were all killed, I am not sure if there were survivors but I don’t think they would survive long enough in that soup. We were coming back to report our findings till you guys showed up.” Said Major Jeffery.

There was no reaction on Kasim’s face, he looked back again at the SUVs and then back at Major Jeffery.

“You could have radioed us and given the information. The boss was expecting news for a long time but then your radio went down. The EMP wave from that pyramid is programmed to take out only the radio and equipments of our enemies while our equipments… everything is programmed to run. They are synced to the pyramid.” Said Kasim.

Major Jeffery did not expect that. The others also heard and can only stare at each other in disbelief. Major Jeffery was trigger ready, he looked at Kasim’s squad and then back at his squad.

“Kasim, it’s the boss. He is calling out all the squads to report to the command centre. We need to move now. We are in the final phase of our mission.” Said an anti-national.

Kasim acknowledged by nodding his head and then looked at Major Jeffery and his squad.

“Ride with us. We need to move now.” Said Kasim.

Major Jeffrey agreed and got on the SUV again.

“Well, that was close.” Said Karan.

“On the contrary, we are all set to be burnt. Let us just go with the flow and follow them. We are indeed infiltrating their base, however, we are in for a big surprise.” Said Major Jeffrey.

As the squad followed the anti-nationals, they could now see the pyramid clearly. The top of the pyramid was pure gold while the rest was pure black. The markings on the pyramid were in Sanskrit language yet the structure was indeed alien in nature. The massive size of it was unlike anything that the squad witnessed. Poorna had a camera with her, she took aim, however, the image was being distorted.

“Strange! There is something about this structure that is beyond our comprehension. Anything within its range doesn’t seem to work. The anti-nationals have indicated that their equipments are synced to it. We should find a way to sync our equipments with it to turn this fight in our favour.” Said Poorna.

Shekhar was surprised to hear that and inquisitively asked, “Is it possible? Can we turn that thing in our favour?”

Poorna looked at Shekhar and then looking back at the pyramid, answered, “It is not that easy. We are going towards the command centre. It will be busy with soldiers, we will have to create a kind of diversion that can not only keep the soldiers busy but allow us to hack their systems.”

“We need a plan. We need to plan on the go. The others need to know about what you said.” Said an excited Shekhar.

“I have the BASE codes, Shekhar. All we need is a terminal… and a diversion. ” said Poorna, with a smile.

The SUVs stopped near a facility. While everyone got down, Kasim walked towards the door, clicked the intercom button and gave the pass code. The door opened immediately and everyone went in. They took the stairs downwards and walked through a huge tunnel among other anti-nationals who were all going towards the command centre.

While walking, Shekhar explained to Karan whatever Poorna said a few moments ago, considering the latter was still manning the mini-gun turret. As they were walking in tandem with their enemies, they decided to communicate in codes.

“You are planning to enter this house without knocking the door (hacking the command centre), then we need to find a back door (create a diversion). The problem is, we don’t know much about our neighbours (anti-nationals), we need to understand what they like or do not like to make this festival a grand success (create a diversion big enough to keep them busy).” Said Karan.

“I know, let us just a make a list of all items we need for the grand festival and then we will decide on whether to invite them or scare them… though, my intention is the latter.” Said Shekhar.

Major Jeffrey was able to understand what they were talking about and smiled at their presence of mind, he said, “Our neighbour likes fireworks, however, they get angry if it is directed towards them. Making them angry will spoil the fun, so better to enter through the backdoor and scare them. I guarantee that is the safest thing to do to enjoy the celebration.”

Karan and Shekhar looked at each other and nodded their head in agreement.

They reached the command centre where they saw a man in a red armour speaking to someone on a huge screen.

“I assure you, My Lord, that we are in readiness for the next phase of our plan. What we did first was give them a hint of what they were up against and I daresay, BASE does not have the capability to fight this out.

Moments from now, we will start with the 2nd phase and without a doubt, it will be complete subjugation in minutes.” Said the man in red armour.

“I must say I can’t wait for it, Code Red. I am extremely happy with the way you have handled everything. Best of luck. ” Said the man on the screen, after which it went blank.

Code Red then turned around to face his army. He was wearing an armoured helmet too because of which the security elites were unable to see his face.

“That was our lord who is very happy about the proceedings and cannot wait to hear about our success. We are in our final phase and close enough to victory. However, if you people think otherwise, you may raise your hand for it.” Said Code Red.

The anti-national army answered in unison, “Sir, no sir.”

One anti-national raised his hand though and the other anti-nationals were shocked.

“It is ok. I don’t expect everyone to nod their head at every word of mine. Feel free to speak up, comrade.” Said Code Red.

“Sir, I hope there is a grand dinner for all of us. Nothing is ever complete without a victory dinner.” Said the anti-national.

The others including Code Red burst out laughing.

“This.. this is what I expect from you all. Victory will be ours and the party will be on me.” Said Code Red, and all the anti-nationals cheered.

Code Red continued, “BASE calls us anti-nationals, however, little do they realise that we are not what they think we are. We are the Nationalist Corp, we are doing what they were supposed to do, what our ancestors were supposed to do and we will succeed.

That being said, can I have Major Jeffrey and his band of elites to come up on stage.”

Major Jeffrey and the others were shocked. They looked at each other and at the same time, the anti-nationals drew their weapons and aimed at them.

“Come on up, people, I don’t have the whole day. I have a mission to complete and you people are delaying it.” Said Code Red with a sarcastic tone.

Major Jeffrey looked at the others and signalled everyone to follow him. They slowly walked towards the platform on which Code Red was standing. Karan noticed 2 tarantula tanks standing on each side of the platform.

“If only we could power them up, their armour is tough, it will take the soldiers a while to bring them down. Enough time for someone to hack the command centre. However, we need to contact BASE and alert them about what we are up to.” Karan thought.

Once on the platform, Code Red walked towards Major Jeffrey. He looked at him eye to eye and then at the others.

“What were you people thinking? That you can just gate crash into our party and we won’t even realise it?” while Code Red said this, some of the anti-nationals confiscated their weapons and ammunitions.

“There you go, comrades. Our enemy is standing right in front of us. You people think you are brave. No, in reality you people are just plain stupid. You underestimate our power every time… you people have been doing that and now, you are all set to see real power.” Said Code Red.

“Not if we try and stop you. Besides, you people are dealing with something that none of you have an idea about. You say we underestimated you… to be honest, we have overestimated you.

You all are and will always be the idiots who have no idea of modern warfare, no idea of how the world functions and need to function.

You are hell bent in bringing in your ideas of governance but the truth is that there is no governance, no hierarchy… just a bunch of self-proclaimed leaders who look down upon their own kind as slaves.

You may have the upper hand today but trust me, you will lose. Every man who has thought himself as king and others as slaves has suffered consequences that you have no idea about. You are no leader and you will suffer when the times comes.” Said Major Jeffrey.

The anti-nationals were hearing the major’s words, there were murmurs around which alarmed Code Red and a few of his followers standing next to him. He was enraged, he glared at the anti-nationals and then looking back at Major Jeffrey, took his pistol and pressed the trigger.

The BASE soldiers watched in horror as Major Jeffrey was shot in the head. Karan grabbed him as the latter’s lifeless body fell. The former called out but it was too late, Major Jeffrey was dead.

Code Red turned towards his army and said in an angry tone, “This is what happens to those who will question my authority. If anyone still thinks otherwise, you are free to face my gun.”

The BASE soldiers were enraged. Shekhar was about to pounce on Code Red but the anti-nationals on stage grabbed hold of him including the others. Karan continued to stare at the lifeless body of Major Jeffrey, realising that they were all that was left, they could either fight back or surrender.

“What will happen if we surrender? Nothing, we are better off dead. So, better to do something really stupid and die, then to do nothing.” Karan thought.

He then looked at Jenny, the latter was in tears even though angry. She looked at him and realised that Karan had a plan. She then looked at Shekhar, Sulaiman and Poorna. She didn’t have to say anything to them, they looked at her and nodded their heads.

“Our death is near, I guess. I have no regrets though, I am besides the people I love, besides people with whom I spent the best days of my life. I owe them all and it is time for repayment.” Jenny thought.

Karan placed Major Jeffrey’s head on the ground and slowly stood up. Code Red glanced at him as he walked forward and the former pointed the gun at him.

“Isn’t it strange that you are working hard to create an army, however, instead of motivating them… you are trying to create order by scaring them?” Karan asked in a sarcastic tone.

Code Red was enraged and retorted, “You dare question my authority? You dare question my leadership? What do you know about leading an army? You are still a cadet with limited experience… and you are going to teach me leadership?”

Karan smiled and said, “A collection of medals or a power suit that you are wearing does not classify someone has a leader. You know what my father used to say – A leader may fail but not a team, never!!

What makes you think… this army of yours, do they have the will to fight if something happens to their leader? No, they will quiver and run in fear once they see their leader run or die.

They are an army that has been fed lies, made to eat, sleep and fight in fear that they will be executed if they do not comply. Not one single personnel over here has the courage to fight back if they are cornered or overwhelmed.

We are the soldiers of BASE, bred to fight not for survival but for glory… for honour… trained and developed by the best who would go to any length to complete a task at hand.

You will not win, you will never win. None of you will win… and we will make sure you don’t.”

As soon as Karan said the last sentence, there was a flash which blinded everyone. It was Shekhar, his captors were very much distracted due to Karan’s speech and it was enough for the former to activate a flashbang and throw it into the crowd… though that was not the intention.

“Damn you, Shekhar… you were supposed to throw a grenade and not a flashbang.” Said an irritated Poorna.

“Aargh..  I know… I know… my bad!!” Shekhar responded.

As the effects of the flashbang was slowly subsiding, Karan could make out Code Red scurrying from the place with his guards, the others grabbed the weapons from their captors, fired and killed them all. The group threw more grenades and flashbang leading to the anti-nationals running away from the area.

“You coward… and you were going to lecture me about leadership. You are a lone tiger… but we are a wolf pack.” Karan thought looking at the direction Code Red ran.

He immediately turned towards his colleagues and said, “Somebody get on that console, hack it and try to reach BASE. The rest… get on the tarantula tanks, man the turrets… let us give them a taste of their own medicine.”

Jenny could only stare at Karan, surprised at how he was giving orders. The others duly followed while a smile sprouted on Jenny’s face. However, Karan looked at her confused.

“Jenny, get to the tank and operate it. We need cover and support.” Said Karan.

Jenny sheepishly nodded her head in agreement and rushed to the tank in the right. Sulaiman had already powered it up while Kishore and Atif had powered up the other.

With the effects of the flashbangs subsiding again, the anti-nationals came forward to repel the attack, however, the group had activated the weapon systems on the tanks and started firing at the anti-nationals in the command centre. They brought the tank forward and placed them right in front of the console where Shekhar and Poorna were trying to hack the console.

“If it is war that you people want, war is what you will get.” Said Karan looking at the anti-nationals being killed mercilessly. He then turned around to check on Shekhar and Poorna.

“Come on, goddammit.” Shekhar yelled in frustration.

Poorna checked her watch, they had just 3 minutes before the pyramid would create another EMP wave.

“We need to tap on the power of that wave. Turn it in our favour and the EMP will fry up all devices belonging to the anti-nationals. Enough time for us to launch an assault.” Said Poorna.

“Come on, Shekhar. You heard the lady.” Said Karan.

“I am, I am… just get off my back now.” Shekhar retorted.

Every time Shekhar tried to hack, the screen flashed ACCESS DENIED. Shekhar took a deep breath and tried again, before hitting ENTER, he chanted a mantra and clicked it. The screen flashed green with the words ACCESS GRANTED.

Poorna was ecstatic and kissed Shekhar on his cheeks. He then pushed him aside saying, “My turn now. I have the codes.”

Poorna quickly put in the BASE codes and the syncing started. The BASE command centre was quick to detect this and Javed immediately alerted General Bakshi. The latter could see the syncing going on in the screen.

“What are we getting synced to?” the General asked confused.

Poorna checked her watch, there was just 15 seconds left. She looked at the screen, then at the others and said, “Prepare yourself.”

The sync was successful and at that very moment, the pyramid created another EMP wave. However, this time, the wave fried all the equipment and weaponry of the anti-nationals. The command centre blacked out for a few seconds before the back up generators kicked in and restarted the systems within the command centre.

Within minutes, the distortion and disturbance clouding around the structure cleared. The BASE command centre, and the space stations BASE REPUBLIC and BASE INDEPENDENCE were able to view the structure.

“I don’t understand.” Said an astonished Javed.

The General was looking at the pyramid on the screen. He couldn’t help marvel at it.

“So this is what caused the earthquake and was also causing the disturbances. You still don’t understand Javed? Whoever it is… the person has actually synced our systems with that pyramid.

The pyramid was under the control of the anti-nationals… and now, we are it’s new owner.” The General explained with a smile.

That very moment, a sub-screen opened up and the command centre officials could see Karan, Shekhar and Poorna. Most of the anti-nationals in the bunker were either killed or they retreated, and the others got off the tarantula tanks and joined them.

Karan started explaining the situation at hand, “Sir, as you can see, we are inside a bunker and contacting you through the anti-national command centre. They call themselves The Nationalist Corp and are led by someone who calls himself Code Red.

The pyramid, if you people have noticed was unearthed from within the planet and is not human in nature.”

At the same time, Poorna was accessing the files about the pyramid, she was horrified and started shivering in disbelief. Something that Karan noticed and therefore, stopped his explanation.

Even the General noticed and as he and the others were listening intently, he stated, “Cadet Poorna, it looks like you found something. Go on, we are listening.”

Poorna took a deep breath and then started, “Sir, this is not just an artefact… this is a nuclear bomb that is primed and ready for detonation.”

The people were shocked at this news and there were murmurs around. The General silenced everyone, not that he wasn’t shocked but he didn’t show it.

“Tell me everything, Cadet Poorna. We are listening.” The General ordered.

Poorna took a deep breath again and continued, “The files or documents related to the pyramid are limited, sir. I will try to collect as many as possible, however, it seems the anti-nationals are guarding a secret which we are unable to decipher.

The only information we have is that they were going to use the power of the pyramid to threaten us to submit to their ways or die revolting.

The anti-nationals have got their hands on an alien technology and we need to study it… but we can only do that by stopping Code Red from detonating it.”

“But why would he detonate it if he plans to use it for threatening us?” asked Shekhar.

“We are not the only world or planet where humans reside but we are definitely the point of contact. If he does detonate it, the other colonies will be forced to secure themselves with whatever available resources they have or submit to the anti-national propaganda.” Karan explained.

“So, our planet, SC120 is like the leader of the pack and Code Red is prepared to take out the leader.” Said Jenny.

Karan nodded his head in agreement and then looked at the General again on the screen, “Sir, we are going after him but we need support. The pyramid has been synced to us so it will be easy. We will take out as many of the ground personnel as possible.”

The General was impressed with everyone, he asked Karan, “Can you do it? Can you all do it?”

Karan looked at everyone, the others understood the question, they were all that were left against a horde yet someone had to do it.

“We will either do it or die trying, sir. We cannot allow the anti-nationals to win. We will do whatever we can but we must stop Code Red at all cost.” Said Karan.

General Bakshi didn’t had to ask for casualties. He knew that the security elites on screen were their only hope and whether they will make it back or not, he had to give them the support.

At that very moment, the BASE command centre received a communication.

“BASE command, this is BASE REPUBLIC, we have it confirmed that we are operational again. We have also noticed that our systems are synced to that structure and we are able to view and access it.” Said Codename Indrajeet.

“This is a wonderful piece of news. Karan, you got your support. We have never utilised the power of the cannons of both the stations because we never had the opportunity to use it.

The blast radius is huge so keep your distance and fire your weapons only if you get to see the enemy being close to you.

Best of luck out there.” Said the General.

Karan and the others acknowledged, and disconnected. The General turned to Lt. Col Javed and the command centre officials, and said, “We are in control of that pyramid. I want everyone to learn everything about that thing and keep track of it.

It has been prepped and ready for detonation, all they need is to activate the countdown and if that happens, it will be FUBAR situation for mankind. I hope everyone understood that.”

The command centre officials acknowledged and got to work immediately.

“Air support would have taken time and we wouldn’t have lasted in a firefight. The space stations are functional now. It will be risky but we will have to take a chance.” Said Karan.

“We can use the tarantula tanks to eliminate the hostiles and carve a path to the pyramid. The space stations will take out most of them and we will then take out the stragglers.” Said Sulaiman.

“We will have to stay in the shadows but it will be worth it. Let the anti-nationals know what they are up against.” Said Shekhar.

The security elites got on the tanks and proceeded through the same gate that Code Red had scurried away with his guards.

Back to Main

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Resilience Episode 6

Unearthed

The attack at the construction site was just the beginning, a sign which General Bakshi understood and for the first time in many years since his graduation days, there was a slight fear which he was not ashamed about.

“It has been 6 months since that attack, yet something tells me it was only the beginning. Since then, we had 4 more incidents like this. We have lost some brave men and women because of them yet we are still not sure of what they want and why they are doing this. I am very much sure they are not doing it as a sport, they want to say something… give us a hint, yet, their activities are creeping us all out.” Said the General.

“Maybe… Maybe, they are planning something big, something outside of our BASE grid and all these attacks are just to cover up their big plan.” Said Codename Krishna.

“Indeed, I have the same thoughts… and whatever that big plan is, we need to find out fast before we are all engulfed in a never ending war.” Said the General.

“Never ending war! I thought war is always never ending. If peace would have always prevailed, there would have never been a war… and we would have been in a different profession.” Codename Krishna commented.

General Bakshi smiled and said, “Look at this city, Raman. This one city has multiple opportunities to every one of us. Yet, it is up to a person to decide if he wants to take that opportunity or not.

There are those who want a comfortable life and works hard for it, there are those who want to make it big and toil even more harder to be on top of everyone… yet, there will always be the other type of people, those who are laid back and looking for easy money or reputation. They either take law in their hands or are forced to join a gang… voluntarily or involuntarily… to earn their living.

As long as people are not self-aware of what is right and what is wrong, aware that nobody is above anyone… and if there is, it is the almighty, there will be war, there will be indifferences, and we will all be opinionated. The day people become self aware is the day there will be no more wars.

And coming to our ‘Profession’, I was working hard to be an accountant till one day, I saw a thief threatening a young woman for money. I wanted to help her, so I rushed forward to confront the thief, however, he shot at me and I was hit on my right shoulder. It was painful… quite obviously because I was not a security elite, not trained to overcome pain and fight back. I could see the thief run away, even he never expected to see someone have that daring to confront him. He may have pulled the trigger the first time. I fainted and woke up in the hospital surrounded by my family and that young girl.

I know I saved that girl, however, my mind was filled with guilt of not able to capture that thief. I was not able to get my mind back to studies. I was not able to get back to my books, my eyes fell on the medals that I had received for my feats in football at the school and interschool level. Just a few days later, I saw the news that recruitment had begun for new elites in BASE. I threw my accounts book away, packed my bags and enlisted.”

Codename Krishna was amazed, he shook his head in disbelief and looked at the city again. He was curious about something and with a slight hesitation asked, “What about that young girl?”

General Bakshi looked at Codename Krishna and raised his eyebrow, with a smile, he answered, “She is not young anymore. She is a DGM in a multi-national company, mother of a son and a daughter… and a proud wife of General Arjun Bakshi.”

Codename Krishna nodded his head indicating that he had a hunch about it.

“Coming back to the never ending war, sir, what do we do now? Or where shall we start?” asked Codename Krishna.

“I have arranged a meeting with the top officers to formulate a plan. For now, we need to be more alert. I have already spoken to the command centre officials of every city to monitor every inch of the country and if there is any inch that is not covered, inform us to get it covered at all cost.” The  General replied.

“Ok, that is quite a start.” Said Codename Krishna.

Suddenly, the duo could feel a tremor and the building shake.

“Do you feel that?” asked the General.

“I do, sir… and it is getting stronger.” Codename Krishna replied.

Suddenly, the alarms started to blare and there was an announcement from the command centre, “This is an earthquake warning, all personnel are requested to move to the open grounds or find cover immediately.”

The announcement was duly complied, all security elites, officer and personnel moved to the open grounds. The tremor was now at its peak and the people could see the building of the city shake uncontrollably because of it.

Karan, Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna were at the cafeteria and moved out together. They watched the city in shock as the glasses of the buildings started to shatter.

Traffic had halted and broken glasses were falling over the citizens killing and injuring a lot of them. The glasses of the BASE towers also started to shatter and the people moved away from the building as far as possible.

“The buildings are strong enough to withstand a quake but not the glasses.” Poorna commented.

“The tremor is not stopping. If this continues for a few more seconds, then the buildings will fall apart. There will be no escape.” Said Karan.

“So… is this the end of the world then?” asked Shekhar.

In space, 2 stations – the BASE INDEPENDENCE and the BASE REPUBLIC received reports of the earthquake and the officials were looking for the source of the tremor.

“Sir, you may want to see this?” said Lieutenant Anuj.

Codename Indrajeet looked at the monitor, they could see a huge structure coming out from the ground 1500 kms away from the BASE towers.

“What the hell is that thing?” asked Codename Indrajeet.

Suddenly, from the same structure, a ray of light shot up. The light travelled far in to space and hit BASE REPUBLIC on its side. An explosion occurred resulting in a breach and killing 50 officials who were in that part of the station. The alarms were raised to seal all the doors to negate the breach.

Back to the city, the ray of light was bright enough for everyone to see. The people watched in shock and awe as the lights started to brighten up and then there was a huge flash. A massive shockwave followed, it was an Electromagnetic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) wave that travelled to almost half the planet affecting every electronic and computer device. Once the wave stopped, the tremors slowly subsided and the bright light had vanished.

“What the hell just happened?” asked General Bakshi.

“We need to get to the command centre, get in touch with BASE REPUBLIC and BASE INDEPENDENCE. Someone up there should have seen what caused this. I will round up people of my rank and have them check for casualties and damage through their squads.” Said Codename Krishna.

“I am going to the command centre. You round up the people and explain their tasks. I will find out and relay all information to the higher rankers. Get going, officer.” The General ordered and Codename Krishna acknowledged.

The General rushed to the command centre and got in touch with Lt. Col. Javed.

“Sir, that beam of light… it was strong enough to rupture the side of BASE REPUBLIC. There is a breach, however, they were able to seal all doors to avoid anymore damage.” Said Javed.

“My God, now this is serious. Don’t tell me the anti-nationals have gotten their hands on something deadly.” Exclaimed General Bakshi.

“Maybe they did, sir. The radio (communication devices) are all out because of the EMP. Our techs are accessing the situation but they cannot guarantee when the systems will be up and running. However, we have a video feed that BASE REPUBLIC was able to capture before the breach. You may want to see that.” Said Javed.

The General saw the video on Javed’s monitor, he could clearly see a structure coming out of the ground. The structure was huge and was emitting something that was causing a disruption in the video feed. After sometime, the top portion lighted up, the beam of light fired upwards and the video feed went dark.

“What are we dealing with? What the hell is going on?” the General asked as he looked to the direction from where the beam of light appeared.

The next moment, the radio were back up and all the screens, monitors and systems came back online. The General looked at the big screen which showed feeds of what had happened to the city. Judging by the structure, the tremors were strong enough to bring down 8 of the tallest buildings in the city, the city was in chaos and the casualty report on the screen showed about 35000 people who had lost their lives.

In another screen, the General could see a lot of officials and security elites trying to contact their family members. He could see a few in the command centre trying to contact their family while also keeping track of any disturbance in the city and the nation.

 Javed came back with news, “Sir, the security elites are busy with helping the citizens. We are trying our best to resolve the crisis that has developed due to the earthquake, however, we are unable to reach a few security elites who were close to the structure. What is also a cause of concern is that we are still facing disruptions or disturbances while trying to investigate the structure.”

The General checked his monitor and tried to scan the area close to where the structure came out from. For about 1500 kilometres, there was a disruption on the screen and the General couldn’t see much of detail of the structure or its surrounding areas.

“What is this place? Have you got any data of it?” asked the General.

Javed activated the country map on a table and zoomed in on the location of the structure.

“If we go by the location of the structure, then it is an industrial area. Whatever that structure is, it has come out from below that area. I am not sure if there have been any survivors considering we have been trying to contact someone over there but there is no response.

As I said earlier, we are not been able to reach our posted security elites there too. We might have to send someone to investigate the area otherwise; we are still in the dark as to what we are dealing with.” Javed explained.

The General nodded his head in acknowledgement and said, “Call in a meeting with all higher rankers. They need to know the situation… and meanwhile, get in touch with the security elites in the city and make sure the civilians are safe. If there is a requirement for support – food packets, water, medical attention, make sure there is no delay on it.”

Javed acknowledged as the General walked out of the command centre towards his office. After 30 minutes, a meeting was held where the General along with Codename Krishna formulated a plan.

“What we are seeing is a strange structure that has risen right in the middle of a huge industrial complex. The problem is that we are still not able to find or give proper details as to what that structure is, height, weight, magnitude… nothing.

Every known system of ours, including our BASE stations above are unable to detect anything due to a disruption caused… either due to the structure or something strong enough to hide it and its surrounding parts. We are all still in the dark and we need to do whatever it takes to light up ourselves on this… I don’t know how to put this… brand new issue.” Codename Krishna explained.

The General seconded the explanation and added further, “Since the time we have been ‘acquainted’ with the anti-nationals, we have seen warfare that has always been surprising. Every time… every single time, the anti-nationals have ended up with technology that rivalled ours… yet, we have still not been able to determine how. Our interrogation methods have failed… mostly because we have never been able to interrogate them. Their methods of hiding their secrets are beyond our imagination.”

Major Govind was surprised and spoke up, “So you are saying that whatever happened just now… the anti-nationals are involved? Do you think they have brought in a technology higher than anything we have seen? Looking at the structure… or whatever that thing is, it doesn’t look human… it looks…”

“I know Govind, it looks other worldly. I wouldn’t be surprised but horrified if we get to know that they have brought in alien technology to counter our strength.

The question is… why would they do that? Why would they go this far to fight us with a technology which they may not be able to comprehend?” asked Codename Krishna with concern.

“That is the reason why we need to find out what we are dealing with and solve this issue as fast as possible. We will be sending in 5 squads to analyse and provide details of the activities that are going on near the structure and its surrounding areas.

We are unable to get in touch with anybody, even our security elites posted there… and that makes this situation even more critical. You will leave right now and brief your team on the way. We have to get to the bottom of this, so make a move immediately. I have authorized for air support to take you to the location, so gear up and make haste.” Said the General.

All the officers in the room acknowledged and walked out of the General’s office in a jiffy.

In about 15 minutes, 5 squads in 5 carriers flew over the city. The security elites including Karan, Jenny, Shekhar and Poorna watched in horror at the devastation of the city. The citizens were in panic and all available security elites were trying all their best to control them and help them out in this chaos. As the carriers flew away from the city, the squad leaders of every squad briefed their respective teams of their mission.

Jenny was going through the mission details on her monitor and was repeatedly looking at the video of the structure coming out from the ground. Avesh who was sitting next to Jenny was as usual looking at her from top to bottom with a sly smile.

“I know what you are doing, Avesh. As a woman, I have assets which are worth looking at and I am proud of them too, however, your mother and sister also have the same assets so I don’t think they are any different except for size maybe.” Said Jenny.

Avesh was perplexed, the sheer boldness with which Jenny spoke was unexpected. Jenny looked at Avesh, there was no expression on her face and it wasn’t necessary. Avesh could only look away from Jenny feeling embarrassed.

On another carrier, Karan and Shekhar were looking at the video and then scanning the map to look at the surrounding areas.

“To be able to hide something that big requires a device that is thousand times stronger than what we have.” Karan exclaimed.

Shekhar looked at the video a bit closer and nodded his head in disagreement, “I beg to differ. Look at the structure, Karan, it is huge… the light ray it emitted was strong enough to strike BASE REPUBLIC out of commission for an indefinite period. Something tells me that it is the structure that is able to hide itself, protect itself and even cause the EMP charge that took out almost everything.”

“So… we are dealing with an alien technology? Are we that fortunate… or unfortunate to be able to see what aliens look like?” asked Karan.

Shekhar looked at Karan, their spine started to chill the moment they realize that they were on the verge of a discovery that could change everything.  Suddenly, one of the pilots got on her radio and said, “Guys, are you seeing this? Is that where we are going?”

All of them who heard this were confused. Major Govind turned around to see what the pilot was talking about and his eyes widened. There in the horizon lay the structure shaped like a pyramid. It was massive and everyone who started noticing it could only marvel at it.

Due to the high-raised buildings, the squads could only see the tip of the pyramid yet it was big enough to indicate that it could be close to 4500 feet in height. As the security elites continued gazing at the structure, the alarms on the carriers starting to ring.

“Surface to air missiles, hold on to something for this is going to get rough.” Said the pilot, the moment he said this, the carrier flying next to them got hit. The carrier spun out of control and crashed on to the ground exploding in a ball of flames.

“Spread out, spread out. We need to get to the target zone. We are close to the area… we cannot…” Codename Krishna started to speak but not able to complete for his carrier was also hit.

The passengers had their seatbelts, except Avesh. While everyone held on to something, Avesh couldn’t and he was flung out of the carrier. Jenny watched that in horror as the carrier crashed into a building and hit the ground hard. Another carrier got hit and Shekhar watched in horror as it was the one Poorna was on. The carrier crash landed on top of a building with 2 security elites being thrown out of it due to the impact.

Major Govind immediately ordered the pilots to land the carriers in order to avoid the missiles. The pilots acknowledged and landed the carriers. The elites were quick to realize that they were at the starting point of the industrial area.

“We lost one bird along with our colleagues. There is nothing we can do for them now but we can try to save the rest. We need to get to both the fallen carriers and look for survivors. We will team up then and try to reach the target area to start our mission. Let us split up and keep an eye out for any enemy signatures.” Said Major Govind, and the others acknowledged.

“Don’t worry, Shekhar. Poorna will be fine. Let us get to that carrier and retrieve them.” Said Karan.

“Jenny’s bird also crashed. You are not worried about that? You could have gone with the other squad.” Said Shekhar.

“Well, that is where the problem starts. We are soldiers, Shekhar. This is a critical situation and we have to keep our emotions aside. She will also be fine and I am confident of it.” Said Karan.

As they ran towards the second carrier, Shekhar could make out the look of concern on Karan’s face yet he was trying to stay strong. They reached the second carrier and Shekhar saw Poorna strapped to her seat unconscious. The pilots had died on impact, the 2 security elites who were thrown out of the carrier were alive, however, they were seriously injured and groaning in pain.

“We need to get them to safety and call for evac.” Said Karan.

Shekhar checked on the squad leader who was also still strapped to his seat, however, he was also dead, hit hard on his head. Shekhar sighed in disappointment and then checked on Poorna. He unstrapped her seat belt and carried her out of the carrier. As he put her down, Poorna regained her consciousness and clutched her head in pain. She opened her eyes to see Shekhar and felt relieved that he was ok.

“Don’t worry, Poorna. We are fine. Wait I will get a medkit.” Said Shekhar.

Poorna then saw Karan and asked, “I saw Jenny’s bird go down. Is she alright? Have you contacted her or her squad?”

“Not yet but don’t worry, there is another team that has gone in search of her squad. We are waiting for news.” Karan replied.

Poorna touched his hand and said, “Don’t worry, Karan. She will be alright.”

Meanwhile, Jenny groaned in pain and clutched her head. She looked around to understand where she was. She then looked at her squad leader, Codename Krishna who had his seatbelt strapped on, however, was not moving. She unstrapped her seatbelt and checked on him, he was alive and unconscious. She then checked her squad mates, Shilpa had died on impact while the other had just regained consciousness.

She then saw one of the pilots removing his seat belt and then checking on his co-pilot. She was dead, tears welled up in his eyes as he hugged her. Jenny walked towards him and comforted him.

“What is your name?” asked Jenny.

The pilot looked at Jenny, he wiped his tears and replied, “Sulaiman”.

“Sulaiman, we need to get out of here. Get in touch with the others. The fact that we were shot down means that someone will be coming here looking for us. We have no choice but to move out of here.” Said Jenny.

Sulaiman looked at his co-pilot’s lifeless body, he realized that there was indeed nothing he could do now. He took her dog tag, put it in his pocket and got off from the cockpit. Jenny then heard footsteps, and a few people talking with each other.

“We have found one of the crashed carriers. We are moving towards the carrier to check for survivors.” Said an anti-national.

Jenny peeped through the cockpit window and found an anti-national scout team coming towards their ship. Jenny rushed backwards to grab her weapon only to find her squad leader cocking his rifle. Without a second thought, he started to fire at the anti-nationals and killed 3 of them.

“Jenny, take the others with you and try to re-group with the other squads. I will take care of them myself.” Said Codename Krishna.

“No way, sir, you are coming with us. We will take care of them together.” Said Jenny.

“I am not asking you, Jenny. This is an order. The others need to survive to get all possible information of what we are dealing with. Move out of here, soldier.” Said Codename Krishna in a commanding tone.

The other anti-nationals continued to fire at the carrier, Jenny didn’t want to leave her squad leader. She grabbed her rifle and fired at the anti-nationals killing 2 more. She got back to cover and made another attempt to make Codename Krishna see reasons.

“Please, sir, we can make it out of here. You cannot expect me to leave a soldier behind like this. We have not been taught to do that.” Jenny pleaded.

Codename Krishna was always impressed by Jenny’s calibre and dedication, he smiled and said, “Karan… Shekhar… and You are one of the finest elites we have and I know that one day, you all will be the best, better than any soldier BASE has created. I may not be able to see that day but I know that it will one day be a reality.

Besides, Jenny… I am unable to move, my left leg is broken. I will be a burden to all of you. Allow me to fulfil my last duty towards BASE, and to my nation. Get out of here, Jenny. I will try to stop them as long as possible for you people to escape. Make a move now, Jenny… and God bless you all.”

Jenny had tears in her eyes. With a heavy heart, she signalled sulaiman and her surviving squad member to escape, she then grabbed her gear and ammunitions and got off the carrier. She looked back once and then started to run away.

Codename Krishna somehow got up and fired his rifle again but this time, he was hit by a sniper bullet in his stomach. The bullet penetrated through his armour, he yelled in pain and sat down on his seat breathing heavily. He put his gun down, removed his armour and grabbed his stomach to stop the blood loss and decided to wait for the anti-nationals to come close to the carrier.

Jenny and the others were in cover from a distance looking at what Codename Krishna was up to. The latter checked his gear and brought out a grenade. He clicked a button to activate it and peeped out to see how close the anti-nationals were. The anti-nationals came closer and looked at Codename Krishna who was smiling at them. He then laughed silently and showed them the grenade. The anti-nationals watched in horror and disbelief, they tried to escape but it was too late.

The grenade exploded killing Codename Krishna and the remaining anti-nationals. The explosion was strong and the carrier was reduced to rubble.

The explosion was heard from a distance and the other team that was assigned to find Jenny’s squad had just reached. Seeing Jenny, sulaiman and another security elite coming out from the building, they joined them.

“What happened? What was that explosion about?” asked Major Jeffery.

“We were ambushed by anti-nationals. We tried our best to defend, however, Codename Krishna was injured and ordered us to escape and re-group with the other squads. He died trying to protect us and killed all the anti-nationals.” Said Jenny, she choked as she said those words.

The people who listened did not believe it at first, yet the explosion they heard was proof that it had to be true. Major Jeffery and his squad did a grand salute in the direction of the crashed carrier and then signalled Jenny and others to follow them back to the other crashed ship.

Suddenly, they heard a boom, a boom that was heard by the other group too. The ground shook and within seconds a shockwave pushed everyone backwards.

“EMP wave, it has fried our gears again. I am not sure how long will it take for our gears to re-activate itself?” said Poorna.

“I guess we have to reach the target area by going in blind. Unless and until we see what we are up against, we cannot plan out anything.” Said Major Govind.

“The other squad must have re-grouped with Jenny’s squad. They might be trying to contact us but now… they won’t be able to. ” Said a concerned Karan.

Shekhar thought hard and then said, “Sir, if you permit us, we can go and check on them. They shouldn’t be far. If they run into something, we should be assisting them.”

“Right you are, Shekhar. Permission granted, 3 of you remain here and see if you can contact BASE. We need to give them the news of our situation.” Said Major Govind.

“I am coming with you guys.” Said Poorna.

“Poorna, you are still hurt. Besides, you are good when it comes to communication devices. Your help will be required here.” Said Shekhar.

“I know I am, and that is why I need to go with you people. Besides, the EMP has fried up everything… and it would take a minimum of 30 minutes for everything to work going by that shockwave. Our equipments are strong to withstand anything but a blast of that size… we have never designed anything to negate that.” Said Poorna.

Major Govind and the others were impressed.

“The new batch has produced some real good soldiers. They say I am a real hard person to please or impress, yet, I am saying this today… I am impressed cadets. Make us proud now. Go ahead and bring them back safely. We will continue reaching BASE by some other means… if there is something at hand.” Said Major Govind.

Karan, Shekhar, and Poorna rushed towards the location of Jenny’s crashed ship. At the same time, Major Jeffery, Jenny, sulaiman and the others were running towards the 2nd crash site. They were close when suddenly, the group saw a convoy of SUVS speeding towards them.  The gunner on the first SUV noticed them and started firing at them with a mounted mini-gun.

The group got into cover except one who was brutally killed by the barrage of bullets. Jenny realized that it was her squad member and it quickly dawned on her that she was the sole survivor of her squad. Deeply saddened by her inability to protect her squad, she sat down, covered her face and cried profusely.

The gunner continued to fire, the group were unable to come out of cover and take a shot at the SUV. As the SUV came closer towards a t-point before the group, the gunner spotted Karan with a rocket launcher. Without hesitation, Karan fired the rocket and it found its mark. The gunner was flung out of the vehicle while the vehicle tipped over due to the impact.

There were 2 more SUVs and they stopped in their path. Jenny heard the explosion and looked out of her cover. Seeing Karan, she wiped her tears and felt relieved that he was alive.

Karan threw the rocket launcher and aimed his assault rifle at the gunners, he fired at them and killed them both.

The driver and the passengers came out and started to fire at them. Karan rushed back to cover, while Major Jeffrey and the others came out of their cover and fired at the remaining anti-nationals. The latter were outnumbered and were killed.

“Well, it was good for them to get us vehicles. We should be able to reach the target area with them.” Said Major Jeffrey.

“Cadet Karan, sir. Are you people alright?” Karan came forward and asked.

“We are, Karan. Thanks for the support. Now, let us get on those vehicles and get to the target area soon.” Major Jeffrey responded.

Karan and Jenny then looked at each other, the former noticed that she was greatly disturbed and walked towards her.

“Jenny, are you alright? What’s the matter?” Karan asked.

Jenny was hesitant at first but after Karan came a bit forward and softly touched her shoulder, she blurted out in tears, “My squad members… Codename Krishna… they are dead, they are all dead and I couldn’t save them. I couldn’t do anything for them. I pleaded Codename Krishna to come with us but he refused and stayed back to save us.

I wish… I wish… I should have been the one staying back. I should have died back there and not run away like a coward.”

Karan understood and hugged her trying to comfort her. While Shekhar and Poorna were shocked by the news of Codename Krishna’s death, the others had seen the real face of war and understood Jenny’s state of mind.

Major Jeffrey step forward and said, “You are not the only one who has faced this situation. I faced it 3 times in my 15 years of service. There is nothing you can do about it but move on.

Understand your duty, Jenny… and understand why you are the one alive. Our mission is not yet over. Join us and together we will avenge them.”

Jenny wiped her tears and then looked at Major Jeffrey. She realized that the latter was right and nodded her head in agreement.

They got into the SUVs and drove towards the 2nd crash site. As they neared the crash site, Major Govind spotted them and Major Jeffrey stuck his head from his SUV and signalled at the former that they were alive.

 Suddenly, out of nowhere a carrier appeared. The carrier was larger than a BASE carrier and had invisibility activated. Major Govind could only stare at it while the other elites started to fire at it. The former looked back at the SUVs, Karan and Shekhar could make out that there was dismay in his face and there was nothing he could do… the group on top of the building were doomed.

The security elites in the SUVs watched helplessly as the carrier fired a missile and the top of the building exploded in a ball of fire killing everyone.

“Get us out of here.” Major Jeffery ordered.

The drivers drove away from the building with the carrier following them. They drove as fast as possible while the carrier started firing at them. Shekhar who showed interest in heavy weapons and vehicles took a minute to look at the carrier and stated everything about it.

“The carrier has 2 mini guns attached on the sides and below it. It has a rocket launcher to fire any form of rockets.” Said Shekhar.

The next moment, the carrier started firing light missiles in an attempt to disable the SUVs.

“It can also fire EMP rockets. We will have to get to cover.” Said Shekhar.

“Seriously, Shekhar!! You are able to tell that just by looking at it. You are scaring us.” Exclaimed Karan.

“Indeed, Shekhar, you remind me of my ex-girl friend. That is about the size of it.” Major Jeffery commented.

The next moment, an EMP rocket was fired and it was the 2nd SUV which was disabled.

“Oh no! Not Again. Jenny and the others are in that SUV, and it has been disabled.” Karan reacted.

Atif, who was driving the first SUV, spotted a building with a car park on the first floor and immediately rushed towards it. He drove as fast as possible and positioned himself at the exact spot the 2nd SUV was disabled.

The carrier was flying low, and sulaiman without a second thought immediately got onto the mini gun and started firing at the same. He successfully killed the gunner and another anti-national and continued firing at the cockpit.

Karan also did the same, the continued barrage of bullets was affecting the shield system on the carrier. Shekhar noticed it and immediately stated the same, “It has a regenerating shield system, and I believe that is a technology that is in motion in BASE. How did they get it before hand?”

“Now that you are saying, how do we counter that?” asked Atif.

The pilot on the carrier was quick to realize that the barrage of bullets had depleted the shields to 25 % and therefore, flew from that area.

“Interesting, the EMP rocket disabled the SUV but their mini-gun is still functioning.” Karan commented.

“It is flying away but it will come back for the kill. We have to take it out or we are all done for.” Said Major Jeffrey.

Shekhar noticed 4 buttons on the dashboard, he clicked one and the tyres of the SUV deflated. He clicked the 2nd one and within seconds, the shield system on the SUV activated.

“You got to be kidding me. We have a civilian version and a BASE version, however, these people have combined the 2 variants into one. Someone please remind me who we are dealing with. If it is classified… well, then I am invoking my civilian right for all information to ensure our survival from this shithole.” Said Shekhar, no doubt alarmed by the gadgetry on the SUV.

“Well, good luck with that so-called civilian right you are trying to invoke. I only went through the highlighted lines that Codename Krishna asked us to read. If there was anyone who knew what we are dealing with, it would have been him.” Said Major Jeffrey.

“I don’t think he would have known. We all know what we saw. It is a pyramid that the anti-nationals have unearthed and the markings were clear enough to indicate that the anti-nationals have laid their hands on an alien technology.

I apologize for my words in advance… but we have underestimated the anti-national intelligence. They are not only a well-fed army, they seem to have gained access to something which may have been forbidden to us as per government rules.” Said Karan.

Shekhar nodded his head in disagreement and went on to click the 3rd button. It not only activated a map but converted the mini-gun into a sentry alarming Karan.

“Switch it off, Idiot. Just because we took their ride does not mean we have made friends with it.” said Karan, as he proactively hid underneath the mini-gun to avoid its range.

Shekhar realized that Karan was right, the map had classified them as red dots indicating that they were still ‘it’s’ enemy.

“I will get it changed once we are out of this.” Said Shekhar, as he gingerly pressed the 4th button.

That very moment, a rocket launcher came out of the bonnet of the SUV and fired. The rocket swore and hit the building right in front, the explosion was strong enough to hurl debris into the air.

Jenny was alarmed at this. She grabbed her rifle and slowly came out of the 2nd SUV to check if it was the carrier. Realizing that there was nothing in sight, she looked at the blast mark again. She realized that it came from the building behind her and it had to be the 1st SUV.

“Karan, can you hear me?” she asked.

Everyone present was quick to realize that their radios were back and Karan replied, “We can… we can… are you guys alright?”

“Are you crazy? We are right below you. We would have been hit by that rocket.” Said an irritated Jenny.

“It wasn’t me, believe me… it was Shekhar. He is tampering with the buttons on the dashboard.” Said Karan.

Major Jeffery was staring at Shekhar in disbelief stunned by the latter’s curiosity. He then started laughing heartily, and the others followed. Shekhar was in a trance after the rocket was fired, he really didn’t expect that and was shocked.

Atif tapped Shekhar, the latter came out of his trance. Jenny, Sulaiman and the others in the 2nd SUV heard the laughter and realized whatever happened was because of Shekhar and they joined in the laughter too.

Suddenly, the carrier appeared again and aimed at the 2nd SUV.

“It is back. Jenny, the 2nd switch on the dashboard, click it quickly.” Said Shekhar.

The carrier started firing at Jenny and the latter scurried to cover. Sulaiman left the mini-gun and ducked to the side of the vehicle. Kishore who was driving the 2nd SUV heard Shekhar and immediately clicked the 2nd switch. The shield system was activated and the passengers could feel the car rumble due to the barrage of bullets. The firing stopped and the shield system was at 85 %.

“The effects of the EMP rocket has lessened, however, if it fires another, we will be done for.” said Kishore.

Jenny and Sulaiman quickly got into the SUV and at that very moment, the carrier fired a rocket, however, it was for damage. It hit the SUV hard but due to the shield system, the car tilted a bit to the side and then fell back with a thud.

“We have to take it out. Karan, man the mini-gun and wait for my signal.” Said Shekhar.

Karan was confused, he manned the turret and asked, “What are you going to do?”

“Something radical!” Said Shekhar, as he switched on the rocket turret again.

The turret continued to fire at the building in front. The carrier pilot was distracted by the continued barrage and backtracked. Kishore realizing this, started the SUV engine and sped away to a safe distance. Shekhar, meanwhile, took out his kit and ripped apart the dashboard as the people watched in amazement. Within seconds, the map gave a signal and everyone in the SUV showed up as green dots on the screen.

“This is insane,” said Major Jeffery.

“Not yet, sir, watch us now. Karan, spool the mini-gun.” Said Shekhar.

Karan spooled it and waited with baited breath to know what Shekhar was up to. The carrier had flown away again and Shekhar immediately contacted the passengers of the 2nd SUV.

“Guys, listen up, the carrier will be back again. I need someone to open up the dashboard and look for the wire the connects to the 4th switch – the rocket turret switch.” Said Shekhar.

The passengers of the 2nd SUV looked at each other. Sulaiman got down from the back of the vehicle and asked kishore to get down. He took out his kit, took a wire cutter and then opened up the dashboard.

“There are 3 wires – red, blue and green.” Said Sulaiman.

“The blue is the button that tracks the enemies and fires at them.

The green controls the unit, it is securely connected to the mini-gun turret. There is a switch on the mini-gun that also activates the turret. What’s more, whichever way you aim the mini-gun, the rocket launcher also simultaneously aims in that direction.

The red wire is what activates the launcher immediately and fires a rocket without a target solution… and that is what we need to stop. We need that freaking thing to fire at our will.

So cut the red and blue wire quickly.” Shekhar explained.

Sulaiman did the same, at the same time, Shekhar asked atif to move back while the former got on the driver’s seat. He activated the armour mode and switched on the car engine. Suddenly, the carrier returned and this time from the right.

“Karan, fire at will. It is now or never.” Said Shekhar, as he drove the car and made it jump from the first floor.

Karan, undeterred, took aim and fired at the carrier. The rocket launcher was simultaneously activated. 3 missiles brought the shields down to 55 %. Kishore got on the mini-gun and fired. The rocket launcher was activated on the 2nd SUV, 3 missiles and the carrier exploded and crashed to the ground.

The elites came out of the SUVs and scouted the area. Satisfied that there was no other hostile present, Major Jeffrey ordered everyone to re-group and the elites acknowledged.

“Well, ladies and Gentlemen… this is what you call teamwork. Well done, people but we are not out of this yet. Let us get to the target area now and find out what we are dealing with. We have our radios back up, so try to contact BASE again and give the status report.” Said Major Jeffery.

The next moment, there was boom sound again. It was loud and it did not take the group to understand what it was.

“Take cover. It is the EMP wave.” Said Karan, as the others ran back to the building. The wave swept across frying up the equipments and electronic devices again.

“Great!! We had all the time to contact BASE but we were busy with surviving from the damn super carrier.” Said Sulaiman.

“Interesting, this EMP wave is not something to trifle with. I guess… the pyramid we saw… it has been programmed to fire this wave in regular intervals as a safety measure to not be detected.” Said Poorna.

“Hmmm… then we need to calculate this interval to the last digit to get ample time to contact BASE for support. Our radios were back up but now they are down again. We need to be careful and alert at the same time if we need to develop communication.” Said Jenny.

“Let us get to the target area pronto and then we will decide what our next step would be. Take all the weapons, ammunition and equipment that you can and move on.” Said Major Jeffery.

The others acknowledged and taking all items they could possibly carry started to move towards the target area.

Back to main

Resilience Episode 5

A Bond So Strong

No charges were pressed on Karan, however, it was still not a relief. A reputation that Karan created for himself was tarnished in a single night. For some, he was an example of irresponsibility while for some, he was a laughing stock. A lot of people had taken the video of his antic and it had become viral.

Karan realizing that he had to live with it spent most of his time alone. He stopped talking with anyone except Shekhar who believed that the former was set up.  There were moments when Karan walked into Jenny, however, he reacted to her as though she was a stranger. Jenny felt bad about this, however, she knew that there was nothing she could do.

Soon, the security elites of the new batch were assigned to different squads. While Karan and Shekhar were under the command of Major Govind, Jenny was under the command of Codename Krishna, while Poorna was in another squad. When Jenny checked who else from her batch had joined with her, she was in for a shock. Avesh was also assigned with her.

“So, we are in the same team. I just got to know that.” Avesh said while Jenny was going through the name list on her wrist monitor.

Jenny looked at Avesh, she was furious with this development and walked away towards the veranda. She looked down to see Shekhar and Poorna talking with a few people while Karan was sitting all alone looking at his mobile. She felt pain in her heart every time she looked at him and could only remember his face that he kept while he was passing those comments towards her.

“Whenever I needed to be motivated, I would always walk up to you. You were always there whenever I needed any help, yet look how things have changed. I need help, Karan. I need you now like I always did. I need you now more than ever.” Jenny thought as she clutched her heart in pain.

15 days after the party incident, BASE command centre received a news and it was alarming.

“Sir, we have confirmed report of a hostage crisis at a construction site. You may want to see this, sir.” Said Lt. Col Javed on the radio.

The General was as usual concerned and said, “Anti-Nationals.”

“Yes sir, the reports about their activities doubling up do seem legit now. They are brazenly challenging our might. It is a construction site of a shopping mall and they have taken a few employees and construction workers as hostages.” Said Javed.

“Have they demanded anything? Did you try to contact them?” the General asked.

“I did, sir. They are not replying… as usual.” Javed replied.

“Well, then… we need to do what we always do with our enemies. Sound the alarm, officer. Everyone in BASE needs to know this. Get in touch with the air base, the carriers need to be prepped and ready for transportation.

Also, get in touch with any security elites near the locality and tell them to form a perimeter around the construction site… but under no circumstances should they engage the enemy. Not until I give the order to go offensive.” Said the General and Javed acknowledged.

The General called for a meeting with the higher authorities and the leader of the nation, Junaid who joined through video conferencing.

“What are we looking at, General Bakshi?” Leader Junaid asked.

“It is the Anti-Nationals, sir and they have taken hostages. For so long, their attempts to disrupt the functioning of this nation have been on a grass root level. We made attempts to curb this but the fact that the anti-nationals are unwilling to cooperate with us, added to the fact that their demands are still unknown is the reason why we have not been able to figure out a proper contingency plan to stop this.

We have made multiple attempts to capture at least one anti-national and wring out the truth from him or her but they continue to resist leaving no other option but to kill them.”  Bakshi explained.

“I am pretty much aware of that, Bakshi… and you are not a man of excuses. We have lost a lot of good men and women because of them. They try to resist, they either commit suicide or blow themselves up killing the soldiers who try to capture them. The fact that you are saying this makes this all the more alarming and disturbing.

I authorize you to use any means possible and necessary to save the hostages. Saving them is your first option, negotiation is secondary and of course, if possible try to capture and interrogate an anti-national. I don’t think there is any enemy in this world that doesn’t attack or kill without a purpose. I can understand a psychopath or a zombie doing such things but not humans who have the basic and modest intelligence to fire a gun when required.” Said Leader Junaid.

A complete analysis was made about the construction site, and the surrounding areas. 6 of the best squads were called in for support while another 6 were selected as back up. Karan, Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna were to participate in their first battle of their life and were naturally tensed. They were a part of the meeting where they were briefed about the situation and what they were up against.

After the meeting, while Karan immediately rushed to gear up, Ravi dragged Shekhar to a corner to discuss something.

“Hey, what happened? What is wrong? We need to move now… we need to gear up.” Exclaimed Shekhar.

“I know… but this is also important. We have enough time for this.” Saying, Ravi took out his mobile. He clicked a few buttons to bring out a video, and once he found it, he showed it to Shekhar.

Shekhar looked at the video, it was the video of the party again and his blood started to boil. The video showed Karan asking for a drink from the waiter at the bar. As the waiter prepared the drink and placed it on the table, Karan was speaking to someone. That very moment, Avesh came and put something else in the drink which no one noticed. Karan turned around and took a few sips, whatever it was that was put in the drink, the effect was immediate and Karan was slowing losing his senses, and soon, he was going crazy.

Shekhar was angry, he punched his fist on the wall and then looked at Ravi.

“I am sorry, Shekhar for being quiet about this. You see… Avesh… he is… he is a big bully. He got to know that I had a video recording of this and threatened to destroy my career.

He said he had contacts with the higher authorities and all he had to do was just make one phone call. I did not know if what he said was true but I was afraid and I readily believed him.

However, after what happened to Karan… I felt guilty… I couldn’t stay silent. I had to reveal this, so here I am. I am sorry… I am really sorry.” Said Ravi, he was ashamed and not able to look at Shekhar.

Shekhar clutched his head, he was angry, he was tensed… he then tried to calm down and think. He then snatched the mobile from Ravi and walked up to the area where the security elites were gearing up. As he walked, he found Avesh fidgeting with his gear, he had a good sense of beating him down and ripping him apart, however, he stopped and noticed Jenny. He knew what to do and walked up to her.

“Shekhar, what are you doing here? Gear up, quickly… we need to move.” Said Jenny.

Shekhar played the video again and showed it to Jenny. The latter saw it and her reaction was the same as his. She watched the entire video, she was angry, she was ashamed, guilty of whatever happened between Karan and her. She had no words and could only look at Shekhar, and shake her head in disbelief.

Shekhar didn’t say anything, he walked away towards his squad and started to gear up. She sat down and cried, she then turned around to see Avesh who was looking tense. She wanted to thrash him and got up to do the same, however, the sirens blared indicating that the carriers were ready and the security elites had to board them as soon as possible.

The elites grabbed their guns and joined their respective squads. Jenny looked around and saw Poorna, the latter wished her luck and the former acknowledged. She turned left to see Karan and Shekhar, while Shekhar wished her luck, Karan was busy discussing something with his squad leader. She longed for Karan to look at her just once so that she could say or indicate that she was sorry.

“I believe you now, Karan. I have seen the truth. Please just look at me… look at me just one time. I am not sure if I will survive from what we are up against but I want to talk to you just one time before I die.” Jenny thought as the elites began to board the carriers. There was no chance that she could get to talk to Karan now, and she could only hold on to her fate to give her that chance.

At the construction site, Colonel Varun aka Codename Jatayu was leading all the squads. 3 sniper squads were already perched on the tallest buildings around the site and were providing intel and support. Codename Jatayu took a loudspeaker and gave the first warning, “We are the elites of BASE, we request you to release the hostages and surrender yourself… or else we will be forced to attack.”

There was no answer to that warning, Codename Jatayu gave a second warning yet there was still no response. The former then turned to his comrades and said, “Alright elites, they want to play tough. We have no choice but to move forward. We will try to save the hostages… but there is no guarantee we can save all of them. We will do what a security elite is supposed to do. Move forward, elites.”

The first 6 squads slowly moved towards the building under construction, they kept checking for any traps or surprises that the anti-nationals had kept in store for them. The elites had their eyes on their tracker for any sign of the anti-nationals, however, nothing came up on their tracker.

Codename Krishna’s squad and another squad were on the front with Jenny and Avesh walking parallel to Codename Krishna, while the rest including Karan, Shekhar and Poorna were closely behind. Suddenly, from the 2nd floor, someone fired a rocket and it exploded just near to Jenny and Avesh. Jenny watched in horror as 2 elites were killed on impact. The anti-nationals revealed themselves firing mercilessly at the squads, the latter had no other choice but to take cover.

Jenny took her sniper rifle and made adjustment to it. While taking aim, she saw Avesh scurrying away from the battle towards the building on the left.

“Oh, you coward! I believe I already saw through your fake personality. You are nothing but words.” Jenny commented.

Firing continued from both sides, Jenny took aim and shot down 2 anti-nationals. Codename Krishna was amazed, and loud cheers followed. Jenny then spotted 2 anti-nationals running towards different directions, towards a black box on each side. They clicked a button, and out came mini-guns. They started firing it and the elites had to remain in cover.

Jenny tried to get a shot at the mini-gun operators, however, she couldn’t.

“Sir, we need to take out those operators. We cannot stay here for long. We already lost a few soldiers… we stay here, we will lose our covers and share the same fate.” Said Jenny.

“You are right but what should we do. I am out of ideas.” Codename Krishna asked.

“Flashbang… throw a flashbang. The effects of the newly devised ones are strong and can affect visibility till the 2nd floor. Let us use it.” Said Jenny.

Codename Krishna smiled and acknowledged, they both requested for a flashbang. Karan and Shekhar acknowledged and threw a flash bang each. It worked and the firing stopped. Jenny immediately came out from her cover and took aim. She shot down both the mini-gun operators. She then realized that she had to reload.

Karan noticed that from a distance and could also see the flash bang effect wearing out. Seeing Jenny still in the open, he immediately requested his squad leader for a suppressive fire order which his leader agreed. He ordered for suppressive fire and all the elites rose up, and fired at the anti-nationals on the 2nd floor. 2 anti-nationals were shot dead, however, 2 more elites lost their lives. Seeing the situation that the 6 squads were, the other squads in backup moved forward and joined them.

That very moment, Jenny saw an anti-national aiming a rocket launcher. She loaded her rifle and fired at the latter, however, while the anti-national was shot dead, he still pressed the trigger. The rocket propelled sideways and hit the wall on Jenny’s left, she tried to escape but tripped and fell. A chunk of the wall fell on her legs and she screamed in pain. She could make out that her right leg might have been broken.

Karan watched in horror as Jenny tried her best to escape but the chunk was too heavy and she groaned in pain. Codename Krishna signalled for a smoke screen so that she could be rescued. Even though duly complied with, the anti-nationals were still firing through the smoke cover and there was no way anyone could budge from their cover.

Karan had to do something and he looked around. He then noticed a constructor, a unit used by the engineers to pick up or drop building materials or debris. He did not think twice as he rushed towards the robot unit, got on to the seat and powered up the engines. Jenny spotted Karan and watched in shock and awe as Karan slowly moved the constructor towards Jenny. The smoke screen was slowly disappearing, Karan noticed this and clicked a switch. The scraper on the unit got activated and moved to the left. Major Govind noticed this and immediately signalled everyone to move towards the activated scraper and take cover. The order was acknowledged and many of the elites, including Shekhar and Poorna moved towards the scraper.

The smoke cover was out; however, from the cover the elites were able to fire their weapon with proper accuracy and were able to take out a few more anti-nationals.

Karan reached Jenny and with the cranes picked up the chunk of wall from the latter’s legs. Karan immediately got down from the unit, picked up Jenny and carried her away to a safe location. The other elites also got to cover. Karan tended to Jenny’s wound, he took out a painkiller and injected it. Jenny could feel the pain subsiding.

“You need medical attention. Stay here and don’t move a muscle.” Said Karan.

Karan then noticed an anti-national re-loading the rocket launcher again. The former had to do something quickly. He spotted Jenny’s rifle lying at the same place and again, without a second thought rushed towards it.

“Karan, what are you doing? You will get killed. Please come back.” Said a concerned Jenny, she then watched in horror as Karan did not mind the barrage of bullets coming towards the elites, and towards him. He slid on the ground and grabbed the rifle. He quickly took aim at the tip of the rocket. Before, the anti-national could fire, Karan fired the rifle and the bullet found its mark. The rocket exploded, the resultant splash damage caused the other rockets nearby to explode and the entire 2nd floor erupted in a ball of fire and collapsed killing all the anti-nationals.

The elites cheered in unison as Karan rushed back but not before, more gunshots were heard. More anti-nationals came out from the ground floor, one of them fired at Karan and the latter was shot on his right shoulder.  Jenny screamed in horror as Karan fell to the ground with a thud. As she saw him writhing and yelling in pain, she remembered all those moments she spent with him… every moment till the party night, she was filled with remorse and wanted to apologize for whatever happened. She then saw the ant-nationals and counted 7 remaining, she was enraged and saw an elite carrying a sniper on his backpack. She snatched it, cocked it and aimed at them. She showed no mercy as she fired bullets after bullets.

Codename Krishna, Shekhar, Poorna and a few more elites watched in amazement as the remaining 7 anti-nationals were brutally killed… all headshots. Shekhar and Poorna were standing next to Codename Krishna, the latter looked at them and commented, “I heard from Major Ratan that both Karan and Jenny are the ‘DEVIL INCARNATE’ with the sniper rifle. Today, I saw a live demo of it. Devil Incarnate! Hell if it is… even the devil won’t dare stand in front of their rifles.”

Jenny put the rifle down and rushed towards Karan. The latter was in extreme pain and was losing his senses. His vision was going blur yet he was able to make out Jenny rest him on her legs and comfort him. He was also guilty of whatever he did and wanted to apologize but Jenny knew the truth now.

“I know you want to apologize… but you don’t have to. I know the truth now. I am sorry for what I have done. Please stay with me, I beg of you, Karan, please stay with me. I am sorry.” Saying, Jenny embraced him hard.

Shekhar and Poorna had already joined them and Shekhar called out for a medic and streture. It was duly complied as 4 soldiers put Karan on a streture and a medic administered a pain killer. Karan was still looking at Jenny, a smile sprouted and then he fainted.

The hostages were successfully rescued and there were unharmed. The wounded were being taken to the hospital to be treated. Jenny did not care for her pain, she held on to Karan’s hand and let go only when the latter was safely placed on a med carrier. As she saw the med carrier fly, she sat down and clutched her leg in pain. A medic soon came and checked her while Shekhar and Poorna watched, a smile lingered on their lips as the medic checked and said, “Your leg is alright, not broken… it is a fracture. You are lucky but we still need to take you to the hospital for treatment before something bad happens.”

Jenny nodded her head in agreement, she was still thinking about Karan and prayed for his revival. Shekhar sat next to Jenny and said, “Don’t worry, Jenny. He will be alright.”

A streture was brought for Jenny, however, she refused. She got up on her feet along with Shekhar and holding on to the latter’s shoulder walked towards the med carrier. That very moment, Avesh came out from his hiding. Poorna noticed and signalled Shekhar and Jenny of the same, they watched in disgust as Avesh was behaving as though he was a hero and celebrating the victory with the other elites. He even walked towards his lead, Codename Krishna to congratulate him, however, the latter realizing what a coward the former was declined it and walked away. While walking away, he noticed Jenny, he smiled at her and showed her sniper rifle that he had picked up from the ground, a gesture that surprised Jenny. Codename Krishna winked at her and then walked away.

Avesh then walked up to Jenny and asked her if she was alright. The latter was going wild with anger and was itching towards her auto-pistol to shoot him, however, she controlled it. Avesh could see that Jenny was angry, he was at first confused, however, when he looked at Shekhar he realized that they had found out what he had done to Karan.

Jenny looked away and tugged at Shekhar to keep walking. Avesh was embarrassed at first but then became furious. He kicked a rock in anger and walked away but not before looking at the med carrier that Jenny was on flying away from the site.

“Karan will never have you. If you cannot be mine, then I will see to it that you are nobody’s… and that will be enough to appease my anger.” Said Avesh.

Karan was out of danger and slowly recuperating from his wounds. Shekhar and Poorna was sitting beside him and chatting when Jenny stepped in. Her fracture had also healed and she was declared fit. She slowly walked towards Karan’s bed and sat down next to Poorna. Karan smiled at her, however, Jenny was not able to look at him still feeling guilty. Shekhar, realizing that Karan and Jenny needed to have a talk and clear all the misunderstandings between them, signalled Poorna to walk with him out of the room.

Once they were out, Karan touched Jenny’s hand. The latter was in tears now and was about to say something but Karan stopped her.

“Please Jenny, you don’t have to be sorry. Stop apologizing when there is no fault of yours. What has happened has happened, let us move on. I am happy that everything has been resolved between us.” Said Karan.

Jenny wiped her tears and looked at him again, Karan could make out that she had slowly started developing feelings for him, however, he also knew that Jenny was not like the other ladies. She was indeed beautiful, yet behind that beauty was a strong and independent woman, a woman whose intentions were clear of what her goals were and what should be done to achieve them.

Karan felt lucky to have someone like Jenny have feelings for him, yet he also knew that over a period of time he could also pose as a burden or a barricade for her goals. He couldn’t allow that, he realized that even he loved her yet, he had to make this sacrifice… for her and for her future.

“Control your emotions, Jenny.” Karan started, and Jenny was taken aback by that sentence, the former continued, “Control your emotions if you want to… but don’t regret it later, for you may never get a chance for that.”

Karan withdrew his hand from Jenny’s, and she could feel a pain in her heart. She wanted Karan to understand what was going on in her mind, she wanted him to tell her what he felt about her. She got up from her seat and slowly walked towards the door.

“I did not believe you… and that is why you are avoiding me, isn’t it? I am sorry for what I did yet, I know you are angry with me. I went against you along with many others, you were on the verge of being thrown out because of me and that is why you are punishing me for it.” Jenny thought feeling heartbroken.

However, something clicked in her mind. She remembered a conversation she had with Karan a few months back. They were at the beach, while Shekhar and Poorna were having fun with the sea waves, Karan and Jenny were seated in a restaurant. They had their fill and were enjoying a drink now.

“I feel so happy for them. It has been just 5 months and we saw how their relationship started and solidified in these few months. It is like… it just clicked.” Jenny commented.

“Yeah, I always knew my giant friend over there was head strong, yet he would fall into the trap of a pretty lady in a jiffy is something I never expected.” Said Karan.

“Come on, Karan… you are being mean now. There was no trap, instead, I remember how Poorna was very much attracted towards Shekhar, yet never in her wildest dreams did she realize it would happen so soon. I really want them to be together always.” Said Jenny.

Karan smiled and then said, “I was kidding, Jenny. Don’t take it seriously. I have known Shekhar from my school days and that is why I made that comment. To be honest, I am happy for him too.”

They were silent for sometime after which Karan decided to tease Jenny.

“Tell me, Jenny, if you ever come across such a situation, what would you do?” asked Karan.

Jenny put down her drink, she sighed deeply and then looking at Karan with a smile replied, “I don’t know, Karan. I never gave that a thought. Love, relationship… I have kind of stayed away from them, probably because at the age of 14, my intention was to be a security elite and I started preparing myself for that.

A lot of boys came in my life, I knew without a doubt that a lot of them definitely had a crush on me… I guess, there are a few in BASE too who do.”

Karan coughed up his drink the moment he heard the last sentence and Jenny was surprised by it.

“What happened?” Jenny asked.

“No, I… I like that ‘confidence’ in you in accepting the fact that there are some who have a crush on you. I must say I am impressed.” Said Karan, clearing his throat.

Jenny giggled and looking at Karan, thought, “You are definitely one of them, handsome! I know it! Actually… you are on top of the list!”

Jenny cleared her throat too and continued, “I always wanted to be a soldier… be someone dedicated to her work and being proud of serving the nation. That feeling… that sense of patriotism was something that got imbibed at an early age and motivated me to be the best. That is also perhaps one reason why I take defeat or loss a bit too seriously, I get depressed by it and work harder to win the next time.”

“That… or maybe, you want to be ahead of the boys too so that they think twice before hitting on you. That some good defence mechanism you have adopted.” Karan commented, and Jenny laughed at that comment, however, she wanted to know what Karan was thinking.

“What about you, Karan? Don’t tell me you haven’t found anyone.” Asked Jenny, moving a bit closer to Karan to listen intently.

“I… don’t know, I guess, I was… and still am more involved in my personal development, you and I are not the same when it comes to being successful. However, there will come a time… a time when I would fall in love, be in a relationship… get married and have a family of my own. For now, my career comes first.” Karan replied.

Jenny was not satisfied with that answer, she wanted to know more and decided to throw Karan into a web, with a blush she asked, “What if you end up with someone like me?”

As expected, Karan was taken aback. He stared at Jenny and then looked away. The latter was confused at Karan’s withdrawal at that question. She also looked away and thought, “I thought you are open with me yet, you are still silent.”

Karan sighed, he looked at Jenny, smiled and said, “I rather not date a woman like you.”

Jenny was shocked with that reply. She stared at Karan waiting for him to explain.

“There will come a time when I realize that I am only being an obstacle in the path of that person and her goals. I would never want someone… even you to walk away from that path, forget your place and settle down for something that doesn’t define you.

Love is not an obstacle, it is a feeling that motivates us, gives us the strength to walk through hurdles and win but it is not the same for everyone. For some, love is the hurdle… it is the reason that pulls down that person from what he was supposed to be to what he finally settles down for.

I don’t want love to be an obstacle. I want that to be my strength, however, the slightest chance I see that it is making me weak, I will not have the slightest hesitation and regret to walk away from it… even if it is painful for me.” Explained Karan.

Jenny felt heartbroken, as the group walked towards their rooms, Karan’s words still lingered in Jenny’s mind. After a wash, she stood by the window looking at the skyline and then at the ringed planet that had changed colour from blue to green after the sun had set.

Slowly, she realized that Karan was right. The path that she had chosen, it was expected of her to be strong and determined. She couldn’t fall into that trap. She had to sacrifice something to be what she always wanted to be – A high ranked security elite. As she walked inside, she noticed Karan also sitting by the window chatting with Shekhar and 2 of his roommates. Karan turned around and looked up at Jenny’s room and spotted her. He smiled and waved at her to which Jenny responded.

As she walked inside, she thought again, “If it is possible, I can make love my biggest strength. I can definitely work it out. Should I take the plunge? Only time will tell… maybe give me the signal to take the fall.”

Back to the hospital room, Jenny understood why Karan was hesitant. She wiped her tears and turned back to face Karan, the latter was confused at Jenny’s behaviour. A smile sprouted as Jenny slowly walked towards Karan. She sat next to him, as close as possible and looked into his eyes.

“Our love will never be an obstacle, Karan. It will be our strength, it will the reason for our success… together, we will fight through every hurdle, through every obstacle… together, we will be winners and nothing… no power in this world will separate us from it. I mean it, Karan… I mean every word of it.” Saying, Jenny kissed Karan on his lips.

Karan couldn’t believe what just happened. He, however, could feel the warmth of Jenny’s love and without a thought embraced it… and embraced her. Their bond had always been strong yet they always stayed away from it  but with this kiss, the bond was sealed. There was no turning back now.

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