Resilience Episode 8

Nuclear Countdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenny giggled at that comment while Shekhar stared at her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to work.” Said Karan.

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

“When did she learn parkour?” asked Shekhar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scavenger controller took aim again and supercharged the cannon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you once again. Over and out.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Codename Indrajeet was also perplexed when he heard it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then turned around to see Karan and Jenny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shekhar checked on Poorna and checked her pulse.

“How is she?” Karan asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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