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.

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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.

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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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Remote Out of Control Episode 1

The sun was on the verge of setting, a young man sat on the beach looking at the waves crashing on to the shore. He looked around to see many happy couples and families, some were walking around, some were siting and enjoying the sight of the waves, there were those who were having their fill at the stalls.

“So much happiness around, yet, look at me, either I am used to being sad or I don’t deserve to be happy. Whatever it is, I lose both ways.” said the man.

A newspaper and a file containing resumes lay beside him, the name of the young man was written in bold letters – ROHAN SHARMA – and the job opportunities page was opened up and some of the sections marked. Another young man walked towards him and stood beside him. Rohan looked at him. At first, he was disinterested, however, he couldn’t help notice the neatly polished shoes. He then looked at the man, and then looked at his attire from top to bottom.

The man was wearing a costly attire – black suit, black trousers, white shirt with a red tie, even the trouser belt and his wrist watch were branded. A beggar came close to the man and asked for alms. The man did not shoo him away, instead he took out his wallet from his pocket, took out all the money he had and put it in his bowl. He then took out all his debit and credit cards, kept them in his pocket and put the wallet in his bowl and finally, he took out his wrist watch, checked it, smiled at it and then put the watch too. The beggar was confused at the man’s antics, he was about to walk away when the man again stopped him.

“Your slippers are torn. Take them out.” saying, the man then took out his shoes and his socks and gave it to the beggar. While the beggar took them and walked away, the man wore those torn slippers and then continued staring at the waves.

“This guy is either insane or he is filthy rich… rich enough to give away everything.” Rohan thought.

The man then looked at Rohan. He walked up and sat down next to him. He looked at the newspaper and took it, saying, “If you don’t mind.”

Rohan responded in a low tone, “No, of course not.”

As the man looked through the pages, Rohan’s interest in him was increasing. He decided to strike a conversation.

“I saw what you did right now. Is there a reason behind it?” Rohan asked.

The man looked at Rohan, he kept the newspaper down, sighed deeply and spoke about his situation, “My name is ARJUN KUMAR, son of the millionaire, Late Mr. GAURAV KUMAR. I was holidaying in Hawaii when I got the news 10 days ago that my father passed away due to a heart attack. I had to come back to perform the last rites and take over the business. I was in for a shock when I realized that the business was going in losses and my father had taken a lot of debts from the banks.

The last thing I know, everything… the office, my house, cars, bikes… everything had to be sold off to repay the debts. Lucky for me, I was left with some amount of money to at least move in to a rented flat and start something new.”

Rohan was surprised listening to Arjun’s plight and felt really bad for him. He looked away from the latter and then stared at the waves again.

“And what about you? I can make out that you are looking for a job or have you found one?” asked Arjun.

Rohan grinned and responded, “I… lost my job today and now, looking for another one.”

“Great! Nice one! What happened?” Arjun asked.

“I was working as a security guard in an MNC. I was tasked with the visitor’s register and of course, checking the ids of the employees. It just happened that some big manager or something had brought his son to see the company… yeah, like it was an amusement park to show your family around.

I was doing my duty and I insisted on the manager’s son to wear the guest ID card and write his name in the register. Where was my fault in this? That manager got angry and started abusing me; he then called my supervisor and started complaining.

My supervisor knew that I was just doing my duty and therefore, tried to calm the manager down. The manager might have been a big shot who was not used to being asked for his identity, he asked me to apologize for it. I was already angry with the way he was abusing me and now, for no fault of mine, he was asking me to apologize.

I don’t know…I don’t know whether I should have controlled my anger but I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy. I took out my id and threw it at my supervisor, changed my clothes and walked out of the company.”

Arjun stared at Rohan; a smile sprouted which meant he was impressed with the man’s bravery.

“Are you regretting it now?” asked Arjun.

“Oh yes, I should have taken my salary and then thrown that stupid id of mine at my supervisor, that is what I am regretting.” Said Rohan.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. It is an MNC; they pay you even if you are average at work. Call it a bane but that is the biggest advantage of working in an MNC.” commented Arjun.

“Really!! Well, that is satisfying. No more regrets then.” said Rohan, laughing.

The sun had set by then, Arjun got up from his place and yawned.

“I don’t know whether I have the right to ask, but what are you going to do now?” Rohan asked, looking concerned.

“I don’t know, I have no idea, the good thing is that I took my education a bit seriously and completed my graduation, so I should get something for 3 hots and a cot.” Arjun responded.

“Yeah, sure, no wonder my father used to scold me like hell to study well. Things would have been different for me.” commented Rohan.

“Now that you are saying… what are you going to do? I saw your resume, you do seem well educated, yet, you were working as a security guard. What kind of job are you really looking for?” Arjun asked.

“The kind that can help me fulfil mine and my mother’s dreams. I am from a village, my ambitions are… not that high as you people. I just want a stable job.” Rohan replied.

“I see. Well, I couldn’t help but go through your resume. I took down your number, so if I do have something for you, I will contact you.” said Arjun.

Rohan was surprised and stared at Arjun, the latter smiled at him and then walked away.

“That is one weird guy. Well, if he does find something good for me, I should not be complaining.” Rohan commented.

He then got up from his place, dusted the sands from his shirt and trouser and then walked away from the beach. As he got on to a bus to go home, he thought, “Tomorrow is a new day. Let me stay positive. I should definitely get something.”

He reached his destination and started to walk towards his room. As he neared his room, a black van suddenly stopped next to him. Before he could react, 4 guys came out, wrapped him in a rough blanket and threw him inside. He tried to fight them and struggled to get out of the blanket, however, one man hit him hard on his head with a log, and Rohan was out cold. The driver of the car stepped on the gas and escaped from the place.

Back to main

Resilience Episode 4

A Reputation Tarnished

18 months passed by, and the training of the new batch was complete. Post the final assessment, it was revealed that out of the 40000 candidates that had joined, only 35000 people qualified to be security elites including Karan, Shekhar, Jenny, Poorna and Avesh.

“I can’t believe Avesh qualified. That slime ball… he still stalks me, and irritates me.” Jenny exclaimed.

“Well, he is good at what he is, but not all men are like Karan or Shekhar. And if he had been irritating you, why haven’t you complained about it?” asked Poorna.

“I could have… I should have… yet, I don’t know. He hasn’t made any such advances towards me that could be serious enough to complain about.  I need solid proof of what he is up to, and the fact that he is still here is because I haven’t come across any other woman complaining against him.” said Jenny.

“Hmmm…that is strange, maybe he likes you… and is being flirtatious. Yet, his intentions are not really clear. Have you discussed this with Karan and Shekhar?” asked Poorna.

“They are aware, it is not that I need them or want them to ‘protect’ me for such an issue. Even Karan told me to raise this issue, however, I declined. He didn’t discuss much about it after that.” Said Jenny.

“Well, there is no discussion. He knows your worth considering what you did to him in the first day of combat training.” Said Poorna, with a giggle.

Jenny stared at Poorna, she smiled and then blushed while remembering that incident.

“Yo girls!! Congratulations and celebrations!!” Shekhar greeted.

The girls turned around and greeted back.

“Where is Karan?” Poorna asked.

“You don’t know. And Jenny, what are you doing here? The girls are looking for you.” Shekhar responded.

“Why? What happened?” Jenny asked confused.

“Come on, Jenny. You are being modest now. You have top scored with 99.97%, and have broken an age old BASE record. Karan is at a narrow second… 99.95%. While the boys and girls are hailing Karan, they are also looking for you. They have even ordered a cake for both of you.” Said Shekhar.

Jenny was surprised, and after hearing about Karan’s performance, a smile sprouted.

“Let’s go, I don’t want to miss my own party.” Said Jenny.

Shekhar and Poorna laughed at that comment, they quickly headed to the training hall and indeed, found that the candidates had brought a cake. A lot of senior officers including the General and the Major General joined in to congratulate the candidates, the group saw the General congratulating Karan, they joined in and sure enough, the General shook hands with Jenny too amidst a thunderous applause.

“Sir, a picture please with the top 5.” Said the official photographer of BASE.

“Oh yes, please.” Said the General.

While Jenny and Karan stood with the General, Poorna, Shekhar and another candidate joined in for the photo. Jenny stared at Poorna and Shekhar, she was shocked to know that they were all in the top 5.

After the photo session, Jenny confronted Shekhar and Poorna, “You love birds are also in the top 5, and you didn’t tell me.”

“Well, Jenny… what can I say! We are a bond so strong, even our performances have proved that. We are inseparable and all I pray for is that in the coming time, we remain the best… in our friendship, in our life, our performance… and our destiny too.” Said Karan.

“Not for long maybe. As I said, we will be assigned to different squads. We may get a chance to bond during breaks or maybe on an outing, however, when in a squad, we will have to live and work according to the culture of that squad.” Said Shekhar, looking concerned.

Karan nodded his head in disagreement and said, “Don’t worry, Shekhar. If that is the case, we will take every opportunity to meet up. Do not be concerned about it and wreak your mind about being separated. We are friends but at the end of the day…we are soldiers and we have a job to do.”

The others agreed at Karan’s statement. That very moment, Major Ratan had an announcement to make, “Alright, people, listen up. Once again congratulations to all of you on your graduation. BASE has a tradition to welcome the new recruits on board. It started off with something solemn, though I don’t want to discuss about it considering it was really boring. Times have changed and in keeping with the changing times, BASE is hosting a party in your name.”

There were loud cheers among the graduates. Major Ratan somehow silenced everyone again and continued, “You are all welcome to the party. It is a start of a journey… a journey to glory, to be a winner, to be the ultimate security elite bred to combat against the ills of this society. We never know what our future holds but there is no use worrying about it. Life is short, so… live it to the maximum and enjoy the party. Cheers!!!”

Cheers and howling erupted again, Karan walked up to Shekhar and said, “Time to bring out the singer in you. Opportunities like this cannot be missed.”

Shekhar stared at Karan and reacted, “I warn you, Karan… you open your mouth and put me in trouble at the party, I will rip you apart.”

“We will see about that, dude. Time to light the party on fire.” commented Karan.

3 days after the graduation ceremony, a grand party was hosted and almost everyone who graduated turned up. As Karan and Shekhar moved towards the entrance, they checked their attire.

“I hope this is enough” said Shekhar.

“Oh come on! A handsome guy like you… wear nothing and you will still have girls thronging you.” Commented Karan, as Shekhar scowled at him, not amused by it.

As they entered the party hall, the party had already begun and people had hit the dance floor.

“Well, what do you know? The place is already heating up.” Said Karan, as he watched the ladies in their hottest attires, something which even Shekhar couldn’t take his eyes off.

As they came forward, Shekhar’s eyes fell on someone familiar. It was Poorna in a pink mini skirt and Shekhar looked at her from top to bottom.

“Whoa, whoa, brother… easy, stop staring like that.” Said Karan.

“She is looking so beautiful. I mean… just look at her.” Said Shekhar, his hands were shivering now.

“Well, that she is. No doubt about it.” Karan agreed.

Shekhar noticed someone else too and looked at Karan confused.

“What happened, Shekhar? Why are you looking at me like that?” Karan asked.

Shekhar took a grip of himself, took a deep breath and with a smile asked, “Well, Karan… have you become blind? Look who is dancing with Poorna?”

Karan stared at Shekhar confused and then looked at the lady dancing with Poorna. It was time for Karan’s jaw to drop. It was Jenny, in a black mini skirt. Karan could only stare at her as Shekhar started to giggle uncontrollably.

“Just look at her Shekhar. She is not just beautiful… she is a Goddess.” Karan commented.

As the music changed, Jenny and Poorna now noticed Karan and Shekhar, they called them out to dance with them.

“Well, Karan… didn’t you say you wanted to light the party on fire? Let us show them who the boss is.” Said Shekhar.

Karan smiled in agreement and the duo joined the ladies. They danced to the fullest enjoying every moment. Soon, the music changed to a more romantic theme. Karan realizing the change looked at Jenny; the latter also could just stare at him.

“I don’t know whether to make the first move. I am not sure if… if… Karan, what are you thinking?” Jenny thought still looking at Karan.

Karan couldn’t take his eyes of Jenny. He looked into her eyes and thought, “Should I jump in? Should I invite her for this dance? Maybe… maybe, next time. I am ready to wait. I am ready to give ourselves the time to know each other.”

Karan and Jenny then saw Poorna putting her arms around Shekhar while the latter, without a second thought touched her waist. They danced looking nowhere except each other. Karan looked at Jenny again and said, “Let us go and find a place to sit. We will join them once the music changes.”

Jenny was at first taken aback. She felt a bit disappointed but then realized that Karan was feeling shy. She thought, “So my handsome gentleman is quite shy. No issues… I am ready to wait.”

The couple walked away from the dance floor and found a place to sit. They watched the people dance as they enjoyed having some light snacks and drinks. Shekhar and Poorna were then tired from their dancing and therefore, walked away from the dance floor and joined them at the table.

“I never knew BASE could hold such an amazing party.” Said Poorna.

“They hold it every year… not just for the graduates, but for everyone. It is a way of socializing where the juniors get to meet the seniors albeit in a more informal way than a solemn way.” said Shekhar.

Suddenly, the music stopped and everyone was either surprised or disappointed. Then, Major Ratan stepped up on the dance floor and welcomed the guest, “Good evening people. I hope you are enjoying the party. I want to hear it from all of you.”

Everyone present cheered and howled in agreement.

Major Ratan continued, “Sorry for stopping the music abruptly like this. I thought that… everyone of us over here have a hidden talent. You people have come to become the ultimate security elites; however, there are definitely people here who are good dancers or singers. So… anybody who wants to showcase their hidden talent, now is the time.”

There were murmurs going around after the announcement with each group trying to push their friends to dance or sing. Karan decided to drop the bomb on Shekhar.

“Sir, let us begin with the one of the top performers. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, the singing sensation… SHEKHAR!!!” Karan announced and it was followed by loud cheers among everyone.

Poorna stared at Shekhar and then at Jenny, the latter was also taken aback by this development.

Shekhar got up from his seat and pulling Karan close, whispered in his ears, “What the hell, Karan!  I told you to keep your mouth shut!”

“Come on, buddy!! You have a talent that the world needs to know. Why do you want to hide that? You dreamt of being a security elite, and that dream has been fulfilled but this… this is your passion… and you never know where our passion can take us. This is your chance.” Karan tried to motivate Shekhar, the latter listened and with a deep sigh, yielded.

He walked to the dance floor, took the mike from Major Ratan, looked at the crowd and with a smile, sang a few popular numbers. The crowd including Karan, Jenny and Poorna swooned over his voice. Some of the songs were romantic numbers and Shekhar was even more motivated looking at Poorna looking nowhere but him. After, Shekhar finished, there was thunderous clapping and as he walked away from the dance floor, a lot of people including seniors too were patting his back.

Motivated, more people walked on to the dance floor to showcase their talent, some were good dancers, some were singers… there were a few poets and stand up comedians too… and after that, music started to play again. Dinner was served, some decided to have their fill while the others continued to dance.

Suddenly, there was a commotion. Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna who were dancing couldn’t understand what was happening at first but when they saw the reason, they were shocked. It was Karan who was behaving like a mad man. It looked as though he had drank a lot and was now not in his senses. He was yelling at the top of his voice, dancing like crazy and was repeatedly falling down.

Shekhar walked ahead and tried to control him, however, Karan pushed him back. The music was stopped and everyone was watching in disgust. Jenny came forward, not able to believe what was going on. Karan then spotted Jenny and somehow, moved close to her.

“What have you done, Karan? Why are you behaving like this?” Jenny thought.

Karan was not in his senses; he walked towards Jenny and started passing lewd comments much to everyone’s shock. Shekhar and Poorna couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Tears welled up in Jenny’s eyes, angered she punched Karan so hard that the latter fell to the ground and was knocked out.

That very moment, General Bakshi came out with his officials to check what the commotion was all about. Seeing Karan lying on the floor, he looked at Major Ratan. Major Ratan explained what happened, there was no expression on the General’s face, however it was certain he wasn’t happy.

“The party is over, people. Go back to your rooms. We will discuss about this at BASE.” The  General ordered and the people had to listen. Disappointed, the people left the party floor. Poorna walked towards Jenny, the latter was still in tears and looking at Karan. Shekhar walked towards Karan to check on him and then looked at Jenny; the latter wiped her tears and walked out of the party hall.

The next day, Karan was called to the trial room. He realized that he was at fault for whatever happened and decided to remain silent. He listened to the eyewitness accounts carefully, and one thing was certain that no one had any clue as to what lead to him going haywire when just a few minutes before, he was in his senses. Finally, it was Jenny who gave her account of the incident. There was hesitation in her voice, yet she still went ahead with her account. Karan was shocked when he got to know of the lewd comments that he had passed towards Jenny, he tried hard to remember what had happened yet he couldn’t.

“Cadet Karan, you have heard the eyewitness accounts. Do you have anything to say in your defence?” The General asked.

Karan sighed deeply and said, “I am not much of a drinker, sir and that is something Shekhar just told about me. I drank only about 2 pegs at the party which is not enough for any one to go out of their senses. This is enough to prove, sir that someone spoiled my drink which led to whatever happened after that. That is all I can say in my defence, sir.”

Murmurs followed after Karan’s comment. Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna looked at each other, they felt that Karan had a point, so did all the other people. The General raised his hands indicating everyone to be quiet.

“All we have with us is eyewitness accounts and a few video clips that just shows that you were not in your senses. If you or anyone over here has any proof that someone spoiled your drink and there is no fault of yours, you will not have to face any charges.” Said the General.

Karan kept silent while all the other people, including Shekhar, Poorna and Jenny checked their mobiles to find anything that can prove the former’s innocence but not a single person had any video of anyone spoiling Karan’s drink. The General had no other option but to bring the trial to a conclusion.

“Until and unless you have something to prove your innocence, there is nothing we can do for you. What you did may not be a heinous crime, yet your behaviour and irresponsibility at the party is not what is expected from a security elite. You are the top performer of this batch and that is the only reason why we will see to it that your punishment is not severe and you receive the consideration that you deserve. However, Ms. Jenny, if you would please stand up.” Said the General.

Jenny stood up, after which the General asked her a question that put her in a fix, “Ms. Jenny, when a person is drunk, he reveals nothing but the truth. There is no exaggeration or manipulation of facts, which is one of the reason why alcohol is also considered by many as… a last resort solution to get the truth out from a person.

That being said, Karan over here last night passed those lewd comments and they were directed only towards you which means that he has revealed what was on his mind… whether you both like it or not.

So Ms. Jenny, we ask you whether you will want to press any charges against this man?”

Jenny couldn’t answer the question, she felt choked and was on the verge of shedding tears. She could only look at Karan and think, “Did you do it on purpose? Is there something that you want to tell me? You were always open to me, to all of us… what are you hiding? Why are you silent?”

Karan couldn’t look at Jenny, he was filled with remorse and all he could do was to keep silent and accept whatever punishment was to be given to him.

Poorna nudged at Shekhar and asked, “Shekhar, what if she presses charges against Karan? What will you do? Say something, Shekhar.”

“There is nothing we can do. Karan has committed a mistake and like it or not, he should face the charges put towards him.” Said Shekhar.

Jenny sighed deeply and looking at the General, said, “I don’t want to press charges against him. What he has done, he is guilty for it and that is enough. He is one of the best performers and I don’t want his career to be spoiled because of this incident. He deserves to be a given a second chance and I know, if given, he will prove himself… and I will wait for that day.”

There were murmurs again in the trial room, there were some who smile and acknowledged whatever Jenny said and then, there were those who were not happy with that. Poorna looked at Shekhar again, the latter was smiling. He got up from his seat and went outside.

Back to main

Blurred

I stand in front of the mirror with the thing in my hand, a thing which I always looked at other people wearing and couldn’t help laughing at them. I also dreaded that thing and vowed never to touch it than wearing it. However, fate was without a promise.

I was in my 9th standard, it was just another day as I woke up from my bed to get ready for school. I dressed up, had my breakfast, checked my bag to see if I had taken everything and then started off from my home towards the bus stand. As I walked, I could sense that something was wrong. The world was looking blurred to me. The street signs, banners and posters that I always loved to read while going for a stroll were unreadable now and I couldn’t understand why.

When I reached the bus stand, the number of the bus that left a few seconds back was unreadable and I couldn’t understand whether it was the one that I needed to board. As another came, I couldn’t help but ask the person standing next to me what the bus number was.

It was obvious that he looked at me confused, the weird expression that he gave was a first for me. He still answered that it was number 21, the one I should board to reach the school. I got on the bus still confused as to why the world suddenly started looking different… and blurred.

My experience at the school was also no different, I couldn’t read what was written on the blackboard. I was able to read the words on my textbooks and notebooks but anything further… even my friends were unrecognizable from a distance. I was now scared, a realization dawned over me that I needed help.

When I came home, I walked towards my mom and explained everything to her. There was no expression on her face. She knew what was wrong and immediately asked me have a wash, have some snacks and then dress up again. We were to meet somebody who knew the answer to this.

I was introduced to a specialist who was looking at me the same way a scientist… or actually, an alien was looking at an interesting human specimen. He checked every minute detail and once satisfied, looked at my mom and gave a cut nod indicating that there was a problem. My mom was disappointed with this new development, however, she still smiled at me which showed that she had accepted the change and it was time for me to accept it too.

The next day, I met the specialist again and he handed me over a box. I took it and opened it. There was the thing, my brand-new glasses and my mind went through all those moments where I made fun of people who used to wear it, that dreadful thing which I wanted to be away from but there was no use now. It was inevitable.

I took the thing in my hand and walked towards the mirror. The face of mine looked so good without the thing… I was not sure whether I would like the person I would be once I wear it. With a deep breath, I wore it on my eyes and the once blurred world looked crystal clear again. I felt sad and guilty at the same time, however, I realized that it could have been worse.

My vision had only blurred and all it took was a pair of glasses to solve the issue. However, there are those who are blind and there are those who lost their eyes due to an accident… my issue could have also been the same but it was not to be. Everything happens for a reason and therefore, I accepted my new look.

I wasn’t looking that bad, in reality, I was looking like a professor or some intellectual considering the kind of glasses I chose. My schoolmates were surprised to see my new look, some praised it, some laughed at me and some of them made fun of me. It was hard the first time, however, as time passed by, I got over it. Life was back to normal.

To all those who wear glasses, well, wearing glasses is also a style statement nowadays. So, if you are going in for new glasses someday, make sure you choose the hottest designs and not feel shy showing off to the world.

Spundan Dasgupta

spundandasgupta@gmail.com

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Note – This was one of my first stories that I had written way back in the year 2000, I was in my 8th grade when I got my eyes checked and had to wear spectacles. I felt what many would have felt while it and wrote this. Thought I do share it. Edited a bit, otherwise, the story is very much oriiginal.

 

Resilience Episode 3

Journey of A Security Elite Begins

Karan realized on the very first day of the training and development program that Shekhar was right. It was gruelling stuff as the candidates were subjected to harsh conditions – made to run around the campus without stopping, made to do cross-fits, asked to carry heavy loads from one point to another… what’s more, made to run on the staircase and reach the 500th floor. Only 3 people were able to achieve it – 2 of them being Shekhar and Jenny.

Karan couldn’t believe it; he could only reach the 280th floor after which he sat down panting heavily.

“This is insane… this is madness. You people are godlike and I am nothing in front of you.” Exclaimed Karan.

Shekhar gave him a bottle of water and then tried to motivate him, “Come on, buddy. You are not the kind of person who would quit so easily. Remember why we came here and for what purpose. This is just the first day… you will do well.”

Jenny was sitting and chatting with some of the girls; she turned around and glanced at Karan and Shekhar. She couldn’t help smiling looking at Karan who was still panting heavily and drinking bottle after bottle of water.

“It is about time we started getting along with the boys, however, I am not sure if the one’s in our batch are trustworthy.” Said Roshni.

“You will never know unless you talk with them. Some of the boys are good, some are decent… there are those who are really good looking and handsome, but you will never know unless and until we actually sit together, and get to know each other.” Said Poorna.

“Hmmm… so who is eagerly waiting for someone to come and approach us?” asked Disha, smiling at everyone.

The others, except, Jenny looked at her, looked at each other and then started giggling. Poorna then noticed Jenny still looking at Shekhar and Karan, and glanced at them too. Even she couldn’t help smiling at their antics. She then got up from her place and sat beside Jenny.

“So… which one do you like?” Poorna asked.

Jenny stared at Poorna, as if coming out of a trance, she stammered, “I…no… I was just looking at them… I wasn’t…”

“Come on, Jenny. Don’t lie to me.” Said Poorna, giving a nudge to Jenny.

Jenny took a grip of herself, she nodded her head in disagreement and said, “Girls, I don’t want to spoil your moods but… is it wrong to not have that kind of feeling for anyone. ”

The girls looked at Jenny, perplexed at that question.

“Don’t get me wrong but we are here training to be security elites. Even before graduation, we all have a sense of responsibility to ourselves and the citizens. We are all training to be someone who people will look up to and that is why we cannot be complacent by bringing out those little emotions like love, hate, jealousy… the likes.

We are going to be soldiers, we are not sure if we would live that long to even dream of going into a relationship or to have a family.

I am not saying that you people should not think about it. I am just saying that… I would prefer to stay away from those stuffs.” Jenny explained her situation.

The others looked at each other confused, however, Poorna understood everything.

“Jenny, you are saying as though a soldier is not supposed to have feelings towards anything. You cannot stop yourself from feeling something or being emotional… you can only control your emotions… and there is a difference of heaven and earth between stopping and controlling.

It is only by controlling our emotions can we think rationally about anything in life and that is what we need to learn as a soldier. You will come across situations where your emotions will get the better of you. That is when you need to control yourself and start to think, otherwise you will lose yourself in that soup and no one will come to rescue you.

Don’t worry about not being responsible as a soldier. Worry about the fact that as a soldier when people are going to look up to us as an inspiration, they shouldn’t see a person who will just stare at them… instead, you smile and wave at them and they will love that.” Said Poorna.

Jenny looked at Poorna, the latter’s words made her think hard. She did not respond to it though, she got up from her place and walked away unaware of the fact that there was someone who was checking on her for a long time. He took a sip of water from his bottle and started following her.

Jenny threw the bottle in a bin, grabbed two more from a station and turned around to accidently bump into the person following her. The bottles fell from her hands and she looked at the person alarmed.

“Oh, I am sorry. I didn’t do it on purpose.” Said the man.

Jenny didn’t respond. Irritated, she got down to pick up the bottles. The man decided to help saying, “Let me help you.”

“It is ok. I will pick them up.” As Jenny took the bottles, the man was still checking on her and was now looking at her cleavage.

Jenny was able to sense that the man was up to no good and looked at him with stern eyes; it didn’t do much effect as the man had a smile lingering on his lips. As they both got up, the man introduced himself, “Hi, my name is Avesh. I wish to congratulate you for reaching the target. Not many people can do it on the first go. I could only reach the 250th floor.”

Jenny did not respond, instead she walked away from there. The smile disappeared from Avesh’s face; looking at the direction Jenny went, he said to himself, “No way you can escape from me. One day, when the time is right… I will have my hands on every part of your body… and darling, I can’t wait for that day.”

In the evening, Shekhar dressed up to go for a stroll and walked towards Karan’s room. It was open and Shekhar could make out that Karan had dozed off snoring loudly. Shaking his head and smiling, he walked towards him to wake him up.

“Karan! Get up, bro, its 6pm… let us go for a stroll. You don’t want to miss the sunset and the spectacle that follows.” Said Shekhar.

Karan opened his eyes and looked at Shekhar, he responded, “Where do you get that energy to even think of going for a stroll after a tough day we had? You got be kidding me, right? I am not going anywhere. You go on, I will just relax.”

“Yeah, you can… but tell you what, it is evening. A lot of people are outside… and considering it is evening, a lot of girls would also be outside. You don’t want to miss so much of that hotness in this cool windy evening.” Shekhar commented.

That was enough to motivate Karan. He looked at Shekhar and smiled, “Seriously, buddy. You want me to get thrown out for real. By the way, you also seem interested… found someone to ogle your eyes on, I guess.”

“If I had that luck as similar to yours… and if I do, would you want me to miss it?” asked Shekhar, smiling mischievously.

“Not in a million years, bro. Give me a minute, I will get dressed.” Said Karan, as he jumped from his bed and went to the washroom.

At the BASE Park, many had gathered to watch the sunset… but that was not the only reason they were here.

“Are you seeing this? Even the General and Major General are here. I guess they see it every day.” Commented Shekhar.

“Wait a minute, bro! What is going on over here? All these people have thronged over here… looking at what?” asked Karan, confused.

“I am kind of impressed that you were interested in being a security elite yet did not do so much research on this organization. It is a pity that it is the most costly tourist attraction and not many people are lucky enough to see this spectacle. We… on the other hand are going to watch it for free. Let us not get close, but find a position on top of everyone.” Said Shekhar.

Karan still confused, looked at Shekhar and then spotted a tree house among many of them which was yet to be filled.

“Hurry up before that gets filled.” Said Karan rushing towards the tree house.

Shekhar followed closely, commenting, “Good Call, Soldier.”

The duo reached the tree house and found a proper spot. The people were looking at a giant statue that was built on the middle of the river. It was the statue of Rani Lakshmi Bai, the largest statue ever built… it stood at a height of 850 ft.

“Whoever built it took no stones unturned to make it as real as possible. The steed on which she rides looks as though it will come alive at any moment.” Said Shekhar.

On the left of the statue was a harbour where all passenger and commercial ships were docked, while on the right was where a lot of couples or families had come to enjoy a good evening boat ride. A laser barricade was created so that no civilian would accidently cross it and get hit by the ships sailing towards the harbour.

Karan spotted Jenny and Poorna standing close to the railings; they came quite early enough to watch whatever the spectacle was.

“Are you still going to keep this a secret? What is the spectacle all about?” asked Karan, still looking at Jenny.

“Well, buddy… Jenny is not the only spectacle over here. So just be patient.” Said Shekhar, grinning.

“Oh hell, Shekhar. Come on, man. Stop that nonsense.” Karan snapped.

“I must say… I have seen you stare at every girl out there but now, your eyes are fixed on just one. That is one hell of an achievement and there is a lot of scope for improvement.” Said Shekhar.

“Well, you got me on that one, Shekhar. There is something about her… something that I have never seen in any other woman. I am not a fortune teller… but I know that she has all the potential to be a great soldier, a potential I see in you too, Shekhar. You both showed it on our first day of training.

What am I, Shekhar? I don’t want to underestimate myself but I will end up being a regular soldier, lost in that soup doing wet work… watching everyone I know achieve greatness while I stay behind and clap my hands at those people.

Even if death comes to befriend me, it won’t be a glorious day… it will be just another regular day where I would just smile at death and accept that friend request.” Said Karan.

Shekhar nodded his head in disagreement, and patting Karan’s back, said, “I know you, Karan. Sometimes, all we need is a chance… and when that comes, you will get to prove your worth. Be patient.”

As the sun began to set, Shekhar tapped Karan to look at the statue. By that time, even the crowd noticed the same with everyone yelling and pointing their fingers at the statue. Karan looked at it and realized why it was a spectacle to behold.

As the sun slowly set, the colour of the statue turned from black to blue and then after a few moments it became violet. As if that was not enough, there were engravings on the statue and for some reason due to the sun’s rays and atmospheric lights, the engravings started to light up one after the other. The spectacular light show lasted for about 5 minutes before it stopped and loud cheers and clapping followed.

Shekhar explained the phenomenon, “There is a reason why it is a costly attraction. It is said that the people who erected this had no such plans. The statue was just built and erected here, and then one fine day, at the same time, the sculptors saw this and were dumbfounded. Since then, it has become a sight to behold.”

Slowly and steadily, the crowds started to disperse while a few remained there to have a stroll. Karan and Shekhar waited for the area to get clear and after a few minutes, got down from the tree house.

“Let us go for a walk too… and then, we will have some coffee.” Said Karan.

“Agreed.” Shekhar replied.

As they walked, Poorna spotted them and tugged at Jenny.

“What do you say, Jenny? Want to strike a conversation with them?” asked Poorna.

“Are you crazy? No way. You go if you are so interested… you know, for a heart break.” Jenny retorted.

“Don’t be so negative, Jenny. It is not like I am asking you to marry one of them. Of course, if there is something called luck… I might want to try it out with that tall guy in white t-shirt and maybe, get you hooked to the one in semi-formals.” Said Poorna.

“You are too much, Poorna! Seriously!! What the hell is wrong with you?” Jenny asked feeling uncomfortable now.

As Shekhar and Karan continued walking, the former looked at the girls and then at Karan. He smiled mischievously and without telling Karan, turned right and started to walk towards the girls. Poorna’s heart skipped a beat and she stared at Shekhar as the latter continued to walk towards them.

“Jenny… I don’t believe it. This is actually happening. The target is coming straight at me… and I have no idea whether to fire or… surrender.” Poorna reacted.

Jenny looked at Poorna, with a smirk, she replied, “There is a 3rd option… DIE!!!”

Shekhar came close, looking at Jenny, he started, “We both were the winners today yet, I did not get the chance to congratulate you. I am Shekhar.”

Jenny hesitantly shook hands with him and replied, “Thank You and same to you, Shekhar. I am Jennifer.”

Poorna continued to stare at Shekhar, her mouth was wide open as she looked at Shekhar from top to bottom. Karan joined in and noticed Poorna ogling Shekhar.

“I am not surprised. He does have a charm and Poorna seems to be the right girl for him.” Thought Karan.

Jenny also noticed the same, smiling, she introduced her to Shekhar, “This is my friend, Poorna.”

Shekhar tried to shake hands with her but Poorna was not in her senses. Jenny tugged at Poorna, the latter came back to her senses but instead of shaking hands, she greeted by folding her hands. Shekhar, confused, followed the same, and then looking at Karan, introduced him, “Oh, by the way… this is my friend, Karan… and Karan, this is Jennifer and this is Poorna.”

Karan shook hands with Poorna comfortably, however, while greeting Jenny, he couldn’t look into her eyes. He blushed and said hello, it was the same for Jenny… she couldn’t understand her feelings; however, she shook hands, blushing.

The group continued on their walk. Shekhar and Poorna were growing close in just few minutes into their meeting and their conversations were getting animated minute by minute. It was not the same between Karan and Jenny; they struggled to say a few words and could only just laugh along listening to Shekhar and Poorna’s senseless conversation.

After dinner at night, while all the others were asleep, Karan kept thinking about Jenny.

“She is so beautiful yet, I couldn’t speak with her. I have talked with girls before, yet why is it so different with her? Shekhar calls me a playboy… which I am not, of course. I never had any wrong intentions with any of them, and I do have a lot of female friends. I guess… I guess… she is different, someone totally different from the others, a different league all together. Maybe, someday… someday, we will become friends… just friends, I guess!!” Karan thought.

It was the same with Jenny.

“He was not looking at me while shaking hands. He was blushing… I am not sure whether he was acting or… he really couldn’t see eye to eye with me. He seems to be nice and modest man, but first meetings don’t reveal everything. However, I don’t know why I feel like wanting to meet him again.

I have come with a commitment to serve the nation, distance myself from this feeling… but what if… what if, I get carried away with this feeling… what if, I succumb to my emotions.”

Jenny got up from her bed and looked out of the window; the sky was clear with the 2 moons shining brightly and in the horizon, a giant ringed planet that had turned from green to violet. She looked at the moons, closed her eyes and prayed, “I am not sure what lies ahead of me. I am not sure what you have planned for me. If it is for my own good, then I will gladly accept whatever is in my fate.”

She opened her eyes and was about to go in when she noticed a room with lights on. She glanced at the room and could see Karan looking at his mobile.

“He is awake… why he is awake at this time?” Jenny asked herself.

She continued watching as Karan kept his mobile aside, prayed and then switching off the lights, went to sleep. Jenny went in, with a smile, she got up on her bed and went to sleep. However, Karan and Jenny were not the only ones awake at that time.

“Hmmm… you were awake, I see. Thinking about me? Well, one day you will… and I can’t wait for that day. For now, you are in my dreams… and talking about making my dreams a reality; I am going to have some fun with you in my dreams.” It was Avesh, a sly smile lingered on his lips as he went back in and switched off the lights of his room.

The next day, the batch was undergoing combat training.

“Good Morning, people… I am Major Ratan, and I am your combat trainer. Now, there are some of you who might be wondering why combat training before wielding a weapon. The answer is simple… as a security elite, it is obvious that you will encounter enemies in every turn, in every nook and cranny… anytime, and any part of the day and night.

Imagine, you are going for shopping or you are on a date, and you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a hostage crisis and unfortunately, you do not have access to a weapon… even a sidearm, what will you people do?”

The people looked at each other and they did not have an answer to it… except Shekhar and Jenny who raised their hands.

“Mr. Shekhar Ranavat, go on.” Said Major Ratan.

“Sir, the first thing I would do… if I get the opportunity… is to save as many citizens as possible and try to get them out of the place. The security of the citizens is our first priority. I cannot save all of them but at least save some of them.

Secondly, and this might sound radical for a few people… if I do get the chance, I may want to take on the armed men and try to steal a weapon from them. That way, I will not only get a free weapon but I would be able to divert the attention of the armed men towards me while allowing the other people to escape.” Said Shekhar.

There were some who laughed while there were others who clapped their hands. Shekhar glanced at Poorna, the latter was as usual impressed.

Major Ratan was also impressed and said, “Well, Shekhar… indeed, that was radical… but I admire your bravery. Ms. Anderson, you want to add anything.”

“I do agree with Shekhar… and I don’t think it would be radical. It is all about necessity and yes, grabbing the opportunity. Those are the times when we may be all alone and we have no other choice but to take matters in our own hands, forget about our lives and think about the others. I would have also done the same.” Said Jenny.

Major Ratan nodded his head in agreement and then asked, “Anybody else wants to add something?”

Karan looked at everyone, smirked and then raised his hand.

“Yes, Mr. Bose, go on.” Said Major Ratan.

“Sir, tell me if I am wrong but I am under the impression that we are given an ‘Alarmer’. The alarmer is used to alert the command centre of any crisis that we may face. While we being security elites are given a special permission to use that, civilians are not allowed for misuse of technology. However, public offices, companies, schools, shopping malls, discotheques… the facility is available everywhere and in times of crisis, citizens can use that.

The command centre needs to be notified first of a crisis like this so that back up can be arranged in no time and in turn, we can then think… analyse the situation and choose the best course of action.

The first course of action would be to activate my tracker and then my alarmer before doing something radical.” Said Karan.

The others including Shekhar stared at Karan. Jenny looked at Karan and then looked away, she smiled and then blushed, thinking, “Oh yes, he is right, how stupid of me!”

Soon the others realized that Karan was right and along with Major Ratan clapped their hands, everyone except Avesh who was not impressed. He glanced at Jenny who was smiling at Karan and clapping, and the former went wild with anger and jealousy.

Major Ratan went on to explain the motive behind his question, “There you go people. I do admire the vigour you people have to be a hero, to be remembered for a good deed… you people are already heroes as you train yourself to be the ultimate security elites, however, there will always come a time when you need to use your head in pressure situations. Being a hero will always take a backseat most often… and you will have to use your head to use all possible resources at hand to complete a mission.”

He then asked a question, “Now, how many of you have undergone combat training before joining BASE?”

A lot of cadets raised their hands including Karan, Shekhar and Jenny.

“Alright then, Karan… Jenny… come over here.” Major Ratan ordered.

Both Karan and Jenny were taken aback, yet they heeded considering it was an order. They came to the centre and Major Ratan told them to face each other.

Major Ratan looked at the cadets and said, “You have a male cadet and a female cadet… and in due time, you will understand why I decided on this.” He then turned towards Karan and asked, “Mr. Karan Bose, what combat form have you specialized in?”

“Kung fu… I was also undergoing training in kickboxing for a year, however, I got selected in BASE and so had to leave it.” Karan replied.

“Splendid. Don’t worry, while you will be given combat training lessons… cadets also have the option here to select any form of martial art training as a form of upgrading themselves, so you can complete you training here.” said Major Ratan.

“Thank you, sir. Then I will enlist myself for it after this session.” Karan replied.

Major Ratan then turned to Jenny and asked her specialization to which Jenny replied, “Krav Maga.”

“Interesting… a martial art technique where your body weight becomes your biggest weapon along with basic knowledge of physics, and for a woman, the right technique to adapt going by their physicality. Well, then let us see what happens when 2 different techniques crash against each other.” Said Major Ratan.

Karan and Jenny took their stance and waited for the Major’s signal.

“Fight.” Major Ratan ordered and without any inhibition, Jenny attempted a round horse kick.

Karan was quick to react, however, thanks to his training. He was able to deduce and marvel at how high the kick went… it almost went over his head and grazed his hair. He backtracked and looked at Jenny. The latter knew that Karan didn’t expect that and flashed that sweet smile again.

“You are good, Jenny. Without a doubt…a 100 times better than me. Well then, let us dance sweetie.” Thought Karan, as he smiled back.

He charged ahead, only to face a barrage of strong and well targeted kicks. Karan, at first tried his best to dodge but after a few moments, Jenny showed off how fast she was with her kicks and punches and ultimately, Karan was slammed on his head with a butterfly kick. The former crashed to the ground groaning in pain.

There was thunderous clapping from everyone except Shekhar and Poorna who were amazed. Avesh who was also clapping his hand, smirked looking at the condition Karan was in. Jenny, however, started feeling guilty looking at Karan groaning in pain and trying to get,up, she offered help but Major Ratan stopped her.

“Well then, Karan. Either you underestimated your opponent or you were not prepared. I bet… it is the first one.” Commented Major Ratan.

Karan got up on his feet and then shook his head. He wanted to respond to that comment but decided to keep his mouth shut.

“Alright, let us do it again.” Major Ratan ordered and the duo took their stance again.

Karan replayed Jenny’s moves in his mind trying to look for a weakness, however, the moment Major Ratan said to fight, Jenny charged again with a flurry of kicks and punches. Karan back tracked as far as possible from Jenny to avoid them. When Jenny stopped, Karan stood ground.

“Alright, let me not charge. The only way I can find a weakness in her technique is to wait for her to attack. I believe she doesn’t like to defend herself… she only likes to attack or bring down her enemy as fast as possible. She lacks patience… which is her biggest weakness.” Karan thought.

Karan did not attack as Jenny waited for him to charge. Jenny waited with baited breath; however, Karan still stood his ground as they saw eye to eye.

“What happened? Why isn’t he attacking? Is he scared? I know I hit him hard, but if he has really undergone real training, he must be good at his technique. I cannot accept the fact that he is a coward. I… I… Karan, I don’t think you are what you seem to be. You are better than me. Show me what you have got, Karan… show the world that you are worth more than this.” Thought Jenny as she waited for Karan to charge again.

Poorna couldn’t understand what was going on and therefore, walked towards Shekhar and asked, “What is going in, Shekhar? Is Karan really good at what he is saying?”

Shekhar looked at Poorna , and then back at the fight and replied, “Jenny is good, Poorna. Accept that. However, Karan has an ability that few people have, something that requires guts.”

“And what is that?” Poorna asked, irritated.

“The ability to accept failure, the ability to accept that it is sometimes ok to lose, however, he may lose a 100 times, yet, in those 100 times, he is still learning, watching… observing… and when the time is right, he is the one that delivers the final blow and has the last laugh. Just wait and watch.” Said Shekhar.

Both Karan and Jenny were watching eye to eye and going round and round in the same area. Karan continued with his defensive approach playing on Jenny’s mind, while the latter was now growing impatient.

“Alright, Karan… I thought you were brave, I thought you were not going down without a fight… but I guess I was wrong. I am disappointed with you. I don’t want to have anything with you now. Let this be a real fight.” Saying, Jenny charged ahead and attempted an axe kick but Karan realizing the kind of kick moved aside.

The moment Jenny put her foot down; Karan punched her in her stomach. Jenny winced, after which Karan ducked and kicked her on her legs, and the former slammed to the ground.

Jenny was surprised by that attack and stared at Karan. The cadets were not just clapping but were giggling at Jenny who fell for the trap. Jenny was angered; she quickly got up on her feet and took stance.

“She looks cute when she is angry. Well love, no hard feelings. You are good… it is me who is trying to save his ass.” Karan thought.

Jenny once again began her assault as Karan began dodging and defending. The former was getting quick with her moves, however, Karan was not looking to attack yet and waiting for a loophole. It came soon enough. As Jenny tried to punch him, Karan once again moved to his side, tapped Jenny’s head which distracted her after which Karan quickly moved to her back and kicked her. Jenny fell to the ground on her face.

There was thunderous applause now with even Shekhar and Poorna clapping their hands and cheering. Jenny got up, shook her head and once again stared at Karan. She was angry and irritated.

“Well, well… that is some solid comeback. There is a reason why I wanted a male and female fighter. I don’t know how many of you realized this but Jenny was hell bent on defeating his opponent, however, Karan was being a gentlemen. There was no hard hits or punches from him but just playing around… to defeat his ‘enemy’.

It does not matter who your enemy is… all that matters is how you use your brain, your eyes, your ears, your sense of your surroundings… your abilities… and the fact that you should also learn from your mistakes… is what keeps us alive.

We will have one more round and then break for lunch.”

While Karan smiled at Jenny and took stance, the latter was not impressed. Instead she was burning with anger, she took her stance and waited for the Major’s order. The moment he said ‘fight’, Jenny did a head scissors facebuster on Karan. The latter slammed to the ground hard groaning in pain again, however, that was not enough. Jenny’s anger got the better of her and she started to hold on to her grip as Karan slowly realized that he was being strangulated.

Everyone was clapping at that technique, however, they didn’t realize the situation that Karan was in. The latter tapped her hand to release him but Jenny was still angry at him for mocking her in front of everyone. Soon, it was Shekhar who realized it and he ran from his position towards the combatants; he grabbed hold of Jenny, opened her grip and threw her to the side. Released from the clutches, Karan coughed hard holding his neck while Poorna too joined in and helped the former stand up on his feet.

Jenny’s anger subsided, looking at Karan coughing hard made her realize her mistake and she started to feel guilty. Shekhar was angered and yelled at Jenny, “Are you out of your mind? What is wrong with you? We are not your enemies… this is just a training session.”

Jenny stared at Shekhar, then at Major Ratan, and then looked around. There were murmurs around and Jenny felt embarrassed at her attitude, tears welled up as she covered her face and ran away from there. Major Ratan tried to stop her but Karan intervened.

“Please, sir… let her go. It is ok; it is natural for someone to not accept defeat. We must be proud to have a fighter like her; however, she has much to learn… we all have much to learn.” Said Karan.

Poorna, however, was not happy with what happened and decided to confront Jenny. She stepped out of the training hall towards the BASE Park where she found the latter sitting on a bench with her face covered.

“What happened back there, Jenny? What did you intend doing? You were trying to kill him! You were trying to kill Karan!” Poorna shouted.

Jenny tried to justify her action, “I wasn’t trying to kill him, Poorna. I was trying to teach him a lesson for playing with me and making a mockery of me in front of everyone. It was not intentional…”

“You were strangling him. I saw the rage in your eyes. Is that how you react if you are defeated or someone gets the better of you? We are not your enemies… we are colleagues here. We are trying to learn the rules of survival over here and here you are trying to prove your mettle by hurting your own people.” Poorna reacted.

Jenny looked at Poorna, she was still in tears, and she wanted to say something but realized that after what she had done, there was nothing left to say. She hung her head in shame and started to cry profusely now.

Poorna shook her head in disgust; she started to walk away but stopped, turned around and spoke to Jenny, “I am really not sure what you were trying to do back there. All I can assume is that you are suffering from a complex… you feel you are no good, you feel you are a loser, you feel that no one will look up to you… yet, when you showed of your moves, Shekhar wasn’t feeling bad about his best friend getting hit, he was more impressed seeing your skills.

It is the same with Karan too… when you walked out; Karan also called you an amazing fighter, someone we should be proud of having in BASE. He has massive respect for you and this is how you repay him. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Jenny stared at Poorna, the latter walked away while the former could just sit and cry over her mistake.

During dinner, while Jenny was walking towards the cafeteria, she spotted Karan and Shekhar going ahead of her. She had a growing urge of walking up to them and apologizing for her mistake. She tried to catch up and call out to Karan, however, Avesh blocked her path.

“Jenny!! You were amazing back there. What a fight you put up with that stupid Karan.” Avesh started while Jenny continued to look at Karan who was now chatting with a few men of her batch.

“Serves him right, the way he was playing around with you like a fool… what kind of fighter does that.” Said Avesh.

Jenny was growing impatient and irritated now, she glared at Avesh and the latter was surprised by it. He stepped back; he wanted to say something but decided to keep his mouth shut. That very moment, Karan came towards Jenny and it was her time to get surprised.

“I am sorry if I have hurt you in anyways, Jenny. You are a brilliant fighter; I was not able to match up to your fast punches and kicks, so I had to improvise a few skills of mine to negate that speed. Believe me, I wasn’t trying to mock you or play around with you… I was only trying to save myself.” Said Karan.

Jenny was filled with remorse now, she had done a mistake and this was the time to sort out  everything.

“Please Karan, you don’t have to apologize. I am the one guilty here. I shouldn’t have allowed my rage to get the better of me. You were doing the right thing; however, I didn’t realize that. I was so hell bent on trying to prove myself that all lines between friends and enemies became blurred. I am sorry for what I have done.” Said Jenny.

Karan couldn’t help looking at Jenny’s eyes, they were beautiful and he could only stare at it. Hearing Jenny’s words, he nodded his head in disagreement, looked into her eyes and said, “Never underestimate yourself, Jenny. You know you are good, everyone of us over here are unique in our own ways… so stop trying to prove yourself and instead try to better yourself. You better yourself… the world will automatically look up to you.”

Jenny listened to those words as though they were a kind of mantra, she felt motivated and slowly, a smile sprouted. She was guilty no more and heaved a sigh of relief that everything was sorted out.

“Come now, Jenny. Join us for dinner.” Said Karan.

Jenny was about to agree but then remembered that Poorna was angry with her. She would be joining them but would not want to sit with her.

“I have no issues, Karan but you see… Poorna is angry with me after what I did. She didn’t speak to me after the training. I am not sure she would like to sit with me.” Said Jenny.

“Oh yes, I know but don’t you worry. The moment she will see us entering the cafeteria as a ‘couple’, I bet all her anger would vanish in an instant. You can take that in writing if you want to.” Said Karan with a smug look.

Jenny stared at Karan, she giggled and then blushed at that comment. Avesh, who was listening to the conversation, was once again burning with anger and jealousy. As the duo walked towards the cafeteria, some of their batch mates who were also listening to their conversation started to clap their hands realizing that everything was sorted out and they were friends now. Major Ratan was standing in the corner and he, too, started to clap.

While Shekhar and Poorna had brought their food tray to their table, the latter glanced at Karan and Jenny coming together and indeed, she was surprised. Jenny walked towards her and was about to apologize but Poorna stopped her, and then hugged her. Jenny, feeling relieved again, looked at Karan and thought, “We are still strangers but I do have the strong urge to know more about you.  I am not sure whether we will be together like this but I pray to God that if we are supposed to be together, let it be the most beautiful and memorable part of our life. Thank you for coming into my life, Karan.”

Karan was also looking at Jenny too and thought, “I am not sure if I have a future with you, however, I am happy that you are my friend. You will always be my best friend and whenever you need me, I will always be there to support you and motivate you. You are a strong woman; you may not need anyone in your life yet, if you need someone, know this… that I will always be there for you… in every step of your life…. take it in writing.”

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