Bharat Rakshak

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PostPosted: 11 Jun 2010 13:58 
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Thanks Sir; to carry on now....

Dance of the flamingo -- Post 40

“Ah Sqn Ldr Singh, I am so glad to see that you have taken to Russian so thoroughly that it’s the language of choice for newspaper selection.” A middle aged avuncular man, possibly the lead of the group said in the matter of introduction. Manav was to keyed up to be flustered and replied in English, “Not really friend, but I thought might was well take the time to work on it, and who do I have the pleasure of talking to?”

“Vassily Mitrichev, Polkovnik*, FSB”

“Hello Vassily. What may I do for you.” Manav stiffened slightly, but did not get up to greet his visitor.

“Could we trouble you to come with us please?”

“Where, why?”

“All in good time Sqn Ldr, please accompany us for the moment.”

“Certainly, let me just call the Embassy first and inform my superiors of the new developments.”

Vassily smooth tone hardened just a little, “I am afraid we cannot let you do that right now Sqn Ldr, we will take care of informing your people, don’t worry on that count, for now why don’t you just come with us.”

Manav saw that the Russians had moved around him, surrounding him and practically cutting him off, he slowly got to his feet, and saw the Russians stiffen in response, “I am afraid comrade, that I will have to protest, this is very unorthodox, the consequences could be severe.”

In response, Vassily pulled out his left hand from the pocket, just enough to show the butt of a pistol, “Fast acting tranquilizer dart, clubs and chloroform, and of course other methods too if you force us. It would just be better for all of us if you cooperated on your own accord. Please come with us, we do not intend to make you disappear, if we wanted to do that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Right now just come.”

Manav stood there, unsure of what to do, staring into Vassily’s eyes, trying to test his resolve, wondering if she should make a break for it. “They certainly would not dare shoot a Indian military officer in waiting lounge of a international airport would they” As Manav thought through his options, he saw the distinct cold blooded menace in the eyes of his opponent, it was clear that he would not hesitate to shoot, but probably he would not even need to do that. Manav sighed.

“All right.”

The Russians formed a tight knot around Manav, with one of them picking up his bags. Vassily stayed at his side, two of his men leading the way. The group quickly made its way into the bowels of the airport, using doors meant for security. Once in a isolated official corner of the airport, the agents stopped, but only to put a blindfold around Manav’s eyes. “For your own safety” he heard Vassily say, “Of course” Manav replied dryly as a pair of handcuffs went around his wrist.

Manav was led out of the room into the corridors once again, but after a very short walk found himself being helped into a car, “Please mind your head Sqn Ldr, we don’t want you hurt” Manav felt a tinge of anger at what he thought was a taunt but nevertheless continued behaving in very much the same way as before, not giving away anything in his manner. As he settled into the car he realized he was in the rear seat of a large vehicle, probably an SUV. Shortly he was joined by two Russian on either side, one of them being Vassily, at whose word the driver started the engine, with the faint voice of the conversation of two more people in the front seat joining in. As Manav strained to follow the motion of the vehicle, he thanked Devi once again that the Russians had not thought it necessary to give him a pat down so far, with that faint hope giving him strength. He cleared his mind to focus his remaining senses on whatever they could pick up.

*Colonel


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PostPosted: 14 Jun 2010 14:08 
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Dance of the flamingo -- Post 41


Judging by the rhythm of the cars movement, Manav could sense they were exiting the Airports security perimeter, the smooth slow moving pattern with turns and stops turned into one of jerky acceleration and breaking as their vehicle merged with the by now heavy traffic of the highway. Once well underway, Manav heard Vassily speak in Russian, which he understood to be a phone call, probably one which Vassily had made, since he had not heard the ring. Manav strained his ears to try and follow the rapidly spoken Russian. “Yes Sir, we have detained him, after the check point as discussed. Nyet, we have not searched him yet. Yes Sir, no trouble at all, the Airlines know to take off without him, we gave them instructions. The Indians should not realize for next 5-6 hours that there is anything wrong. At least that much time we have. Yes Sir I will get him to <> interrogation center immediately, in two hours. Yes Sir I realize the need to get to the bottom before the Indian pressure builds up for his release. If Indeed the Indians have run a spy ring against us there should be ample evidence to back it up. I have already sent his belongings with a different group to Lubyanka. No Sir no harm will come to him, I understand that. I believe that covers everything. Thank you Sir, I shall give you next update shortly.”

Manav smiled despite his conditions, “bas ab yahi baki tha*” – “Col Vassily, may I now know to what do I owe the honor of this treatment? Since when Indian military officers get treated like Talibans in Russia?” That remark hit home and Vassily barely muttered something in reply. Manav persisted; “Fine take me where ever, but I have been cooperative, I trusted the long standing relationship between our countries for my safety, can I not at least be told what am I accused of?” Vassily retorted, “Sqn Ldr, please don’t play these emotional games with me. I am too old and too bitter for that sort of thing. We will tell you what we want to tell you when we want to tell you.” Manav spoke softly, “I do not know if there was enough time for you to run a full profile on me before you picked me up. I do understand Russian you know.” That startled Vassily, he was not expecting it, and for his captive to share that knowledge so simply, surely he understood what advantage he was giving up, “Why tell me?” Manav added humbly “Consider it a token of cooperation in good faith”. Vassily turned towards Manav, who of course could not see that, “Despite what you just heard?” Manav chuckled a little, “You suspect me of spying, is that why I had a bad accident? I know your people haven’t done it, for if it was so, you would not bothered to arrest me. So why do you think I am limping?” Vassily did not answer for some time; “Sqn Ldr it is not my job to speculate, my job is to know, in this case your particular role.” Manav was not the one to give up on a point, “It still leaves the question open does it not, who benefits? Specially if I am supposed to be a spy?” Vassily grunted, “Fine, I will pass it on to my superiors, along with other points.” Manav ignored the brush off, “You would have anyway done that, I am sure this would be part of many other things I would say once under the serum. But is this how you behave with a friendly national of a partner country?” Vassily snapped, “I told you before Sqn Ldr, spare me the maudlin, I find the whining distasteful.” Manav laughed, “No doubt, your job is to be clinical, but if it was just a interrogator they needed FSB would not send a Colonel would they? Clearly I am important enough for your organization to bother you. If you see I am trying to suggest that there is a frame up.” A sigh escaped Vassily’s lips, “That may be so Sqn Ldr, but please understand my job is not be friendly with you, that will interfere in my judgment, and your attempts are only making me angry as they aim to dilute my focus. We will talk, all in good time.” The last bit of conversation shut Manav up, he knew he was stonewalled, but then he was not one to give up without trying. That path closed he returned to his attention to monitoring the motions of the car.

The motion of the car had turned smooth by now, fast and regular, judging by the pleasant hum of the engine. Manav could deduce that they were on a village road with fairly low traffic, probably heading for a safely tucked away center for FSB somewhere in rural outskirts of Moscow. He let his body relax and rested his back against the seat, there was no point in getting worked up now. The drive had lasted for about just over an hour in all when the quiet was broken by a tense update by the driver, “Col, we are being followed.” Manav stiffened and he could feel Vassily sit up bolt upright “Are you sure?” “Positive Colonel, I waited to be sure before telling you.” Vassily snarled, “Inform headquarters, now” and Manav could hear the agent next to the driver pick up the radio and start calling in, but before that could happen, the driver spoke up again, almost shouting “Roadblock”. Manav could not see, but the car had been running in a road with hedges on both sides towering away, restricting visibility and the driver not see up ahead until the last moment when he turned a corner. “Ambush!! Get off the road” At Col’s word his driver swerved hard to left, breaking through the hedge, bouncing roughly over fields, escaping a ball of fire which had appeared where they would have been that moment if they had not reacted.

*only this was left to happen


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PostPosted: 15 Jun 2010 11:50 
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Dance of the flamingo -- Post 42

“RPG! RPG!” the person to Manav right shouted and pulled out his gun. The other agent in front dropped the radio and instead pulled out his gun, Vassily screamed at him “Idiot, first contact headquarters, Blatsky get us to a position where we can defend from.” Manav slunk back in his seat, trying to not to attract attention, somehow he did not think this was his rescue party. “Col, they are behind us” Manav heard Vassily swear as he crouched down in his seat, the thudding noise in the background telling him what he feared to know. “We are taking fire from an assault rifle, for Christ’s sake get us to cover quickly” Manav suddenly felt a warm wet patch on the side of his arms, “Vassily; your man”. Vassily leaned over Manav to check, “Christ!!” It hadn’t taken Vassily long. “Vassily, get off my blindfolds for god’s sake, you will need to fight. “ The response was hard on the side of his face, his ears ringing. “You fool, they want me dead, it’s me they are after don’t you understand, let me help, I am more useful alive than dead” Manav roared through the pain, the slap had hit where his face was damaged the most. The savagery in Manav’s voice clicked with something in Vassily’s brain, “Don’t try anything funny” he said pulling aside the blindfold. Manav held up his hands, Vassily hesitated for second, when another series of thuds helped him make up his mind. He reached in the dead agents pocket and pulled out the keys to cuffs. His hands free, Manav picked up the fallen machine pistol and started patting the fallen man for ammunition. “Inside the barn” Manav heard the agent shout.

The Driver had found a cluster of farm buildings which included a robust looking tractor shed, it was to this building that they tried to get to, while their pursuers tried to cut them off. Blatsky was faster however, and he took the SUV right up to the entrance of the structure and stopped parallel to the entrance, blocking it with the car for others, while they themselves scrambled in, the doors of the car opening into the gate of the barn. The cover of the car provided them the needed crucial few moments to get out safely, as the car took the full brunt of a full automatic blast. “Get away from the window, Sergi take the loft, Blatsky behind the drums, come with me Sqn Ldr” Once on ground, Vassily had quickly swung back into command and distributed his little team to form as effective opposition as they could, trying to use as much cover as the surroundings could provide. “They have stopped Sir, and dismounting, I can count five people, they are taking cover behind the car doors.” Sergi shouted from above, peering out from a small skylight. “Don’t fire unless in range and sure of hit, preserve ammunition.” With that instruction Vassily pulled out his cell phone to call for help. “More company, the people manning the roadblock have also joined, five more in another van.” Sergi added from his perch. “Damn it, I can’t get through, Sergi did you radio in?” Vassily’s was expecting the answer that came, “No Sir, could not get through either, seems like one of their cars have a Electro Magnetic disruption device mounted.” Vassily cursed, his voice echoing through the sudden silence that had fallen in the area, the firing had stopped, and although the engines of the assailants car were still running, they were purring at a idle now. “Updates Sergi”. He barked.

“They have thrown a cordon around us Sir, groups of two, one group with each car and three others elsewhere in cover, they are not moving right now.” Manav chimed in, “Preparing for a assault most probably.” Vassily threw him a surprised look, he had forgotten Manav in the heat of the moment; “Yes Sqn Ldr, I would not have thought that” he added sarcastically. Manav was spared further taunts by Sergi’s alarm which came in just then, “Two units moving in, heading towards entrance and side windows.” “Sergi, you are not to fire unless someone is already inside, we need to keep you hidden.” Everybody else, keep down, it’s a probing routine, fire only when you see the whites of their eyes.” The FSB people had made good use of the barn, Blatsky had taken a corner facing the windows and the entrance both and was for good measure behind the cover of a pile of mechanical junk and barrels filled with mud. The barn being made of brick and heavy wood, he had a fairly secure corner, safe against explosions even. Manav and Vassily were a little more exposed, protected from gun fire by an agricultural machine on one side and the heavy beams holding up the roof on the other, but relatively exposed to blasts. Sergi was the safest hiding on the loft behind a pile of bricks, nothing but a direct hit by a rocket would take him out. The group held their breaths and waited for the assailants to show up, every one quiet now, not daring to speak for the fear of giving away their positions.


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PostPosted: 16 Jun 2010 11:46 
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Dance of the flamingo -- Post 43

It was not long before the expected contact was made, there was a quick movement near the windows and form flashed past, followed by sound of footsteps on metal as the attackers climbed up the car blocking the door way. Yet the group stayed down, Vassily not willing to risk exposure still. There was crash as the glass in the windows were taken out, the panes replaced by snouts of rifle barrels, setting up a field of fire across the barn. Two objects were thrown in through the barn door as the other unit reached it, “Flash bang!!” Vassily shouted and flattened himself against the floor, Manav following closely behind. The loud explosions would have stunned them, had they not braced for it, eyes tightly shut, fists against their ears. Manav though not trained as others, was quick witted enough to follow the Vassily as he made the dive. Barely had the shock waves passed when Manav heard footsteps come in through door, the first unit was in. Vassily still held back, “What is he waiting for?” Manav got his answer a moment later as the men moved in toward the middle of the barn framing themselves against the windows, “Now”, the command was drowned in nearly simultaneous sounds of gun fire from Sergi and Blatsky. The unit inside did not even have a idea of what happened as they were taken out by accurate fire at nearly point blank range. The firing had stopped as soon as it had started, and Manav found himself still crouching behind cover, when the first episode ended. There was no reaction from the group outside the window, who could not barely understand what had happened. That did not last very long though, as the bursts of automatic fire filled the barn. The attackers had not gotten a good bearing on their opponent however and the random firing was not particularly effective. Manav realized that the Russian were much better trained, although spooks they had probably been drawn from a prior military service.

Taking advantage of a break in fire, Vassily moved out from where he was hiding and ran to the window, asking Manav for cover fire, who loosed off a random burst in the direction of the window, breaking the remaining panes and promptly drawing a hail of bullets in his direction. Vassily meanwhile had been running along the walls at a crouch and was at the windows, reaching up he grabbed the barrel of one of the gun which had just been poked in and pulled it inside, the gunman whom it belonged to was not expecting anything of the sort and lost his grip, dropping his weapon inside, his partner making the fatal mistake of reacting haphazardly by appearing at the window to target Vassily and presenting himself as a target for Blatsky and Manav. Both their bullets found their mark, and the man dropped out of sight. Vassily quickly rolled to a new cover in another corner, asking Sergi for updates. “One down, wounded badly, he is crawling away from the barn, the guy who lost his gun his crawling back to the car.” Right then take him out if he is range” Col Mitrichev figured that his look out had been spotted anyway. “Aye” Sergi shouted even has he leaned out of the window aiming at the man getting away, there were quick rounds fired, followed by a cry of exultation “Got him”. His happiness however was short lived, “RPG!! RPG!!” Sergi shouted getting away quickly from his skylight. Even as Sergi was making his way down the ladder, the Grenade came in through the Skylight and hit the top, the explosion blew a hole on the roof of the barn and threw Sergi down heavily, who thudded to ground and lay still. The debris from the explosion still falling around him, Manav darted out from behind the machine and reached Sergi, “Still alive, probably broken bones and concussion though”, letting others know of their comrades fate, he pulled him to relative safety behind a pile of junk into a repair bay and returned to his cover.

They were blind now and had now situational awareness, although they could guess that the others must be moving in now, although it was not just yet. Another RPG streaked through the open door in the gap over the car and hit the rear wall of the barn, the resulting explosion even more powerful in confined space. While Blatsky was safe, Manav and Vassily were both seared by the explosion. Even when crouching. While still in shock they saw their car blocking the door blow up and throw itself away, another RPG had found its mark there. Manav ground his teeth as he forced himself as close to the floor as possible, squeezing in the gap below the machine. The scouting party seemed to have done its job, relaying the layout of the barn and their positions before they were knocked out, the others were using that to target RPGs on them as accurately as possible while the others moved close in for the kill, the prey softened by bombardment. Manav aimed at the open door, he expected at least one party to come through there, as yet another RPG exploded in the barn, which was now burning, numerous items catching fire. He had no idea how others were doing, the dust, smoke and repeated shocks had disoriented him too much to have any sense of awareness left, Manav solely focused on the broken door and waited for the next attack, trying to keep himself alert and focused while the time seemed to drag on slowly, torturously.

“Chopper” he heard someone shout, although he could not say who, and tried to revive himself, trying so see if he could figure out anything. Sure enough there was a dull throbbing tell sound of helicopter rotors; enemy or friend he could not tell, although he felt his heart lift at the noise. It took him a minute or two to realize why he could hear the bird, the firing and explosions had stopped, whatever the bird was, it had distracted the finish up job. When the firing restarted, it seemed distant, the explosions were afar, it seemed the RPG crew had switched targets, as well as sound of shooting from more distant sources. The confused noises lasted for a while finally ending with a series of explosions in around the barn and some distance from it, a sudden and unnerving silence after the sustained battle roar. Manav spoke a soft prayer of gratitude and let his body slump down, his face level with the floor, breathing softly, letting the silence wash over him, his mind drifting away.


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PostPosted: 17 Jun 2010 13:32 
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Dance of the flamingo -- Post 44

He was roused by pair of strong hand gently pulling him out from below the tractor like thing he had wedged himself below, “Sorry for taking so long, but we weren’t prepared for need of such a… dramatic intervention. It took some time to put together a task force.” Manav heard a familiar voice say, the calm and collected voice that he had come to rely on so much. Manav looked at the man groggily, the black clothed figure seemed familiar, even though the face was covered in a black ski mask, he tried to think “someone at the embassy? But who”. Propping him up against the machinery, the man broke his thoughts as he spoke again. “Relax, you are safe now, the FSB is on its way here. You have lived, and that is critical, had you perished, it would have cemented the lie that was being planted. With no one knowing enough to break through the charade.” Manav saw there were a couple of other similarly dressed men moving around the barn, tending to FSB agents, the Man spoke again “Col Mitrichev will live, he is badly wounded but will be fine in time. He will bear testimony to what happened and your role, the Russians will know it was an attempt to destroy the investigation in the spying case, though not by the accused, but by others who knew that the investigation would probably reveal a story different to one they had in mind.” Manav had closed his eyes, his lids and his beards were badly singed, his face burning with scalds, he could barely bring himself to speak, he forced a question in hoarse low voice, “the others?”. “One will live, he appears to have broken bones but was under sufficient cover to escape the worst, the other, I am afraid, did not make it.” His rescuer was patting him over as he talked, looking for something which he found after a brief search and pulled it out of Manav’s pocket “I am taking back the tea, you will not need it any more I think.” Getting up the man continued “rest now, the others would be coming, I will have to leave, the commandoes will remain and help till they come.” Manav heard the man walk away, and remembered that he had not yet said thanks, but then he was so tired, so tired, that was the last that could register as he fell into a deep sleep, assisted by a morphine shot, given by a commando who had come to tend to him.


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PostPosted: 18 Jun 2010 10:53 
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Dance of the flamingo -- Post 45

A white ceiling and uniformed figure were the first things that were in sight when Manav woke up next, he did not find either particularly appealing and promptly fell asleep again. When he woke up again nothing had changed, and he found himself falling back into nothingness, but this time he did not go all the way in. Floating in and out of sleep and into various states of consciousness, he was aware of activity around him, the familiar motions of white clothed figures. The feeling of déjà vu bringing a knot in his throat, Manav found himself unable to breath, and pushed himself up on his elbows coughing, the shock finally bringing him fully back in his senses. The figures in white rushed to his side, helping him up, supportive, soothing, Manav lay back on the pillows of his hospital bed and tried to smile to those who had helped him. “How long” Manav coughed out a question, still numb, almost detached from his senses still. “Shh quite, keep resting, let the doctors look at you, only if you feel fine without sedatives will we talk about other things.” The matronly nurse propped him up in reclining position, checking the various critical indicators once again. Manav did not find himself in a position to insist, he relaxed and let himself be taken care of, he did feel that he was out of a condition of unbearable pain, as he started feeling various parts of his body once again, they did not return with a complaint other than general weakness. The doctor who was called by the nurse to check on him agreed with that assessment as well, after inquiring about whether Manav felt well enough to face the world at large, he informed him that the Russian and Indian officials were waiting anxiously to debrief him, and had been held back only under strict orders of medical say so. “So is it up to me to choose when to talk to them?” Manav asked the doctor, his voice clearer now, his jaw healed better, the doctor just nodded a yes with a smile. “Well I guess, I might as well get it over with then, perhaps they will let me rest uninterrupted then.” Manav replied soberly. Giving instructions to the nursing staff for further care and clean up, the doctor left Manav to arrange for his debriefing, which given the circumstances was better done under medical supervision.

After about two hours during which Manav was sponged, dressed and moved out of the ICU to different and larger room, Manav saw Commodore Prakash come in with a senior Russian officer in full uniform, a large salad bar on his chest. There were two more officials, a Russian and a Indian, probably from the intelligence departments by the look of it. Commodore Prakash came up to his bed and shook his hand. “I am glad to see you better Sqn Ldr, how are you doing? Are you sure that you are up to this right now?” Manav looked around his spacious room which painted in pleasant bright pastel shades, a large window was letting in plenty of early summer sun, the grounds outside were lush greens, with trees full of fresh leaves and flowers in the shrubs. Manav smiled at his senior, “When Moscow sees this season Sir, it is hard to be unwell, yes I would like to talk about what happened as soon as I can.” For the next one hour, Manav presented the entire story as it had played out, sparing no details, accurately and entirely free of contradictions, but of course omitting the parts about his special friend. The two men who had come along with the military officers carefully took notes, while they themselves listened intently, not interrupting him for clarifications or questions. Finishing up Manav felt that he was entitled to some information in turn, after all there were some pieces that he did not know too and was keen to find out, “That Sir is pretty much it, and unless you have any more questions for me, could I please also be told as to what actually happened? I am still not clear as to who came in at the end as well? What now?” Commodore Prakash did not answer but looked questioningly at the Russian officer who in turn looked at the other two men, who stayed silent, the Russian shook his head, “Nyet, no more questions. For now at least, the good Sqn Ldr has given a detailed and crystal clear answer. So Cmdr Prakash, you can take a call on how much you want to tell him.” Commodore Prakash exhaled deeply and looked at Manav for a moment before he launched into his bit.

“Well Sqn Ldr, the Russian had credible intelligence reports, faked as it turns out now, that you were spying for some technical details with the help of some Russian friends, initially there was incriminating evidence which they got, but the incidents and investigations over last four days; oh yes you have been recovering for last four days; points to the fact that it was not necessarily so. So for now your name seems to be in the clear. The hit was by hired mercenary hands, we think we have been able to track down who commissioned it, and that went a long way in clearing things up. You did us a favor by surviving, things would have been infinitely more confused and complicated if you and Col Vassily had cooperated with the bandits.” A smile seemed to dance on Cmdr Prakash’s lips, of thoughts that would remain unsaid, he paused for breath before continuing, “As such, we expect you to be fully cleared in about two to three weeks, mostly formality and cross checking you know, much of which time you will need hospitalization anyway, and some well deserved rest on full pay in Moscow.” The Russian officer added, “As you said Sqn Ldr, a good time to be in Moscow, even the flamingos return from your country this month to Siberia, enjoy our hospitality for a while, we owe you much but at least this for certain.” Manav was surprised, the last Russian officer he met had very different views, for them to change so much even under the circumstances, there was something under the surface which was not being told and it was unlikely that he would ever find out ever anyway; but there was at least one question that he must find an answer to. “Thank you Sir, you are most gracious, but it is I who must thank you, had the commandos not turned up in time, we would not survive it was a only a matter of few more minutes. How did they ever come to know about us Sir? We never could send a SoS?” The Russian officer stayed quiet, and Commodore Prakash chose to reply “Well a friend of yours from India had called the Embassy insisting that you were to call him before the plane took off and you never did, he was frantic that something had happened to you. Normally we would dismiss this as a crank call, but considering the strange circumstances we tried to investigate and got confusing answers, so we called the Russian liaison and raised hell.” The Russian officer joined in, he looked a little embarrassed, “Meanwhile the counter terror unit had a call indicating that there were suspicious armed people in rough area where you were supposed to be, on course of your way to, umm, Russian authorities. That coupled with Indians pushed us to try and find what’s happening. We tried to raise Vassily but failed, so we ordered the QRT in, but by the time they got there, you people had already done most of the resistance hadn’t you? You people deserve some medals even if we will never be able to acknowledge this action in any of our records.” As the Russian finished his part, Manav digested what he had been just told, “already done most of the resistance?”, he mused, “But we had not, there was still a lot left over when they were suppressed by RPG fire. So some people must have been on the scene before the QRT arrived, holding out.” Then aloud “Thank you Sir” Manav said after a while, “how are the others?” “Well as you know we lost one person in the car, as also Blatsky, Sergi is fine, although he remembers nothing of what happened after he fell. Col Vassily will take far longer to heal, but he has been able to talk already and mentions how you saved Sergi and mounted a defence with Blatsky after the initial RPG rounds started coming in and he lost consciousness. He commends you highly and send his apologies, for what he did not say.”

The officers would have spent more time talking to Manav, but the medical supervisor insisted that they had already taken far longer than the scheduled hour, and the patient had to rest, though Manav felt well, better than ever in many ways. He had one more question while he still had the chance, “And what about my actual assignment Sir, what’s going to happen to the FGFA project planning?” Cmdr Prakash gave a hearty laugh in response, startling the Russians, who did not expect such a booming laughter from his wiry frame, “Ever the diligent one aren’t you Manav. Rest assured that you have done such a good job that it can now fly on auto pilot, Dr Saharsbuddhe and Mr Mathur have made sure they are sending a competent replacement for you to take it forward. Your involvement with that part is over, after all this formality is finished you will return to New Delhi, and who knows you may get a promotion of sorts. For now you need to just forget about everything and recover.” Winking at him Cmdr Prakash stood up and after all round wishes to him for a speedy recovery, the party left, the supervisor goading them out.

Manav watched the others leave, and when he was sure that he was alone, he reclined on his bed with the raised back and relaxed, looking out in the garden, feeling a sense of emptiness creep over him, but not in bad way, in good way, of burdens lifted, of a task passed on. He looked around the room once more, searching for a book perhaps to occupy himself when he glanced on a beautiful flower bouquet next to his bed, in a vase. He picked up the card next to it and looked at it. It was a simple get well soon card unsigned but for piece of soft satin stapled where the sender would usually put his name, drenched in a perfume he was familiar with, and had taken a liking for. Manav smiled, perhaps his remaining stay in Moscow was going to very interesting after all.


Last edited by Sanku on 18 Jun 2010 12:12, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 21 Jun 2010 11:00 
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Thanks every body for the good words and thanks to Ramana and Chaankya for pointers on publishing. ManuJ I will be dropping you a mail shortly, may be we can discuss our thoughts on publishing outlet etc.

Epilogue

The stand stone building with a lofted driveway going up to the first floor was a the distinctive feature of the sandstone building, built in a neo-classical architecture, adding clean lines, along with circular shapes and flowing grandness of older buildings of New Delhi. On the ground floor which was set deep into the sunken gardens, a set of well appointed suites for attached to the main building were tucked away in the quiet corner, providing residential facilities for the use of institute members and their guests. The lights were out in most of the suites although it was only nine PM on a warm evening, the summer having settled in early, in most but one such a suite that is. In that one suite, next to the teak wood table done in dark shade, two men stood poring at a map and sheaf of papers. Neither of them were young, although one was distinctly older than the other, in a crisp white Dhoti tied around in style from the southern parts of India, the senior man stood looking increasing worried as the other man pointed out various features on the map. The map itself was political map of the Northern western areas of the Indian subcontinent, but it was not like any political map seen before, for one the vale of Kashmir had ceased to be with India any more, a brutal line cutting it from Jammu across the pir panjal all the way up to Ladakh, where now Pakistan shared a border with China and not India. A new deep green patch in size and shape of a egg lay upon the western part of the map, straddling both sides of the Durand line, a new autonomous region of Pakistan with firm borders to Punjab province of old Pakistan was born. Afghanistan was shadow of its previous self a small strip of land acting as a buffer between the green patch and rest of Central Asia. At various places on the political map though, marks of military nature were placed, indicating troop concentrations, border guards and in places, marks indicating the presence of external peace keeping army. It was these points that were being pointed out right now, in all regions of the world.

“But it can’t happen now, can it? After all, this could not happen without international support, and right now the threat of UNSC voting against us has receded.” The white clad figure asked, hoping to find a silver lining, somehow.

The other man, dressed in a formal shirt with rolled up sleeves, grey trousers and polished black shoes, looked every inch the military man that he was. His battle scarred face did not exhibit the hope that he was being asked to provide. “Sir I can’t speak about the political fallout, that is not my area of expertise as you well know. What I can tell you from a military perspective however is that nothing on the ground has changed, at least what I can find out through my assets.”

The politician grimaced, “But you channels are very limited General.”

The stoic man was unmoved, “That is true Sir, ARCs and RAWs help would be needed for confirmation of various details. I however am fairly sure of my channels. Even without those I can quiet certainly say that the plan would be put into motion soon. In fact the events in Moscow seem to have thrown them off a little, and that is why we have a little bit of breathing time, this is the right time to move.”

The elder man took off his black square framed spectacles and rubbed the bridge of his nose, “I *will* have to take to the CCS, General, I cannot do what you are asking me to. I don’t have the authority.”

The general shook his head, “Negative Sir, the recent events have clearly shown that we have mole in the establishment, someone high up, someone providing support to powers outside the country by influencing political decisions, even if that person does not know how he is being used, to what ends and what is the game plan.”

“Even then we will need RAW to track down the mole, even if it is a powerful minister, General. I just don’t see how it would hurt.”

“If there has to be plausible deniability it is better that the matter never makes it to any file Sir, in any manner” The General stopped to see his minister’s reaction. “That is why the defence secretary is not in the room either. And of course if we wait for RAW to first unearth the mole and then move ahead, we will lose this god given chance Sir. The time window is small, before the storm hits.

“It is not that I don’t see you point General, but what of the exact intelligence that is needed, how will you get that?”

“We will get help sir, it does not have to be done formally through CCS alone.” Mr Mathur had prepared him well, he had the answers.

This seemed to amuse the politician, he chuckled in his now famous trademark style, “And what about my colleagues, General? The Home minister will have me breakfast if he knows about any of it, and we have not even started talking about the PM” He turned around and faced his chief of staff, “And what about the law of the land Sir and what about our oaths to the constitution. This would be wrong. I will need to talk to the PM.”

The General stayed quiet with his head bowed down, he added quietly “What if the leak is from a close confidant of the PM sir? Do you think in your opinion the PM would act without his advice, would he be able to act without it even if you push him to make a decision on his own.”

The chief had never seen his minister angry, and he was happy that it would be the first and the last time. The cool, collected and normally unflappable man was angry, and his body shivered, eyes boring into the General. A lesser man would have melted, but of course there could be few men tougher than this legend of Indian army, if he had flinched, he didn’t show it. The Raksha Mantri raged, “That is unacceptable General, you just cannot make a allegation against such a senior bureaucrat, that man has served India all his life, and more over, you cannot cast an aspersion on our Prime Minister and his abilities or relationships.” The chief stayed silent, waiting for the storm to blow over, in time the RM collected himself a tried to calm down “You are not supposed to be political man by your own admission General, then what makes you say such a thing?”

The Chief allowed himself a smile, “Well Sir, the air of New Delhi breathes politics, it is hard not to know what connections really exist under the surface, and I do have friends too, even a man like me.” What the General left unsaid was of course, who exactly had told him of the Prime minister’s political dependencies, or the process by which they the needle of suspicion had pointed where it did.

The RM had was back to his usual self now, “I won’t probe of course, but I need to know, how sure are we of this possibility, you know I have the highest regard for your judgment, if you think this is cast iron, I will take your word for it.”

The CoAS in turn trusted the man who had explained the situation to him implicitly, “I am certain that this must remain between the two of us Sir.”

“So it comes down to me is it?” RM sighed deeply and sat down, suddenly his age showed, hair looking grey and face creased, the telegenic powerful politician replaced by a man, old and tired. “Very well, I will sign what is need to be signed, and give you in principle approval for those actions that you want to take without signatures. I just want to be briefed of ALL details though, all you understand. All, barring none.”

CoAS looked at the man in front of him and felt a deep surge of respect. He came to attention and clicked his heels, turned on it and left.


Last edited by Sanku on 21 Jun 2010 12:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Epilogue – Episode I

The first light had yet not broken, but the camp had started breaking up, the Lashkar would need to move again soon, they had to get to the Indian border in time, the push had to happen as soon as the call went up in the valley, the elements who would attack from within were already in place and were only waiting for all clear. They still had some way to go and surprise was essential, the Indians must not notice the build up till it was too late. The leaders were going from tent to tent, waking up their units, trying to achieve cohesion, in the quite misty darkness of the beautiful valleys, the sleepy guards never had a chance to raise alarm when the first flash lit the sky over their heads, never expecting a attack in any case, and under no circumstances one from the heavens. Few had a managed to look up to see the brief brightness, the short lived flicker dying before their still lazy movements could orient them. There was going to be another such display for their benefit shortly, but those looking up would unfortunately not be in a position to enjoy that. In the miniscule fraction of a second that it took for the other flash to make its appearance, the earth around them had responded to the first flash in its own way. The sublets dispersed by the airburst of GLASNOSS guided ammunition had reached the ground, the dark grenade sized balls, falling unseen in darkness all round the camp, and the earth responded to the Sky lustily, the little flash rewarded by a series of brilliant and sustained fire balls blanketing the area. The mixed unit of Pakistani army, Ranger and various Punjabi and Afghan irregulars found themselves in very middle of the love making and felt the heat of passion intimately. The sky made its next overture with another flash, but the humans in the camp were too preoccupied to watch the dance, the survivors from the first group awake trying to make a run for it away from the camp, or look for shelter in any natural trench or cover. Their wake up call to their comrades was not needed anyway, some of whom they were trying to wake up would now never need to be woken up, and the remaining could not get a better bugle for their reveille. Not that it did any of them any good anyway. The earth replied yet again, more passionately this time, the fires from the previous explosions mixed with the new ones, air full of splinters and flying shards of metal. The play between the elements lasted for two minutes maybe, before the sky climaxed, coating the earth with a flow of viscous inflammable liquid, making the throbbing ground reach out to her elemental lover with bright flames of heat, covering the area, making sure no witness remained of their tryst.

The Su 30 MKIs had stayed above, gathering photographic evidence of what they had just unleashed, at around 30000 feet above sea level, the advanced recon equipment developed by DRDO getting a rare chance to see a first time test in real time conditions. Confident of their handiwork, the pair turned around and headed up, to join its patrolling CAP much higher, and together they made their way away from India, following the route they had come in through, back to the Farkhor air base, flying in and out over Afghanistan and Occupied Kashmir much above the ranges of any radar surveillance, being guided passively by a Russian AWACs loitering lazily over Tajikistan, with associated EW suppression aircrafts over Afghanistan airspace, just in case of eventuality. However Farkhor was not their eventual home, and they would only touch their briefly for updates before they flew back north to where they really came from, busy as Farkhor would be hosting other birds that night, a proper nesting ground in the summer season. By the time any hostile air defences could be prepared, the Indians and long left the airspaces covered by either PAF or those of NATO units to their north and west, and the Rawalpindi was beginning to lose track of the number of places which had been hit. The reports reaching them were confused, while most spoke of sudden airbursts, newer reports coming in from Afghanistan theater spoke of a large number of low flying objects. The officer commanding the emergency room, made a prayer to Allah and picked up the phone to inform his superiors, he was not happy about what he had to do, the Pakistani Army had a reputation for dealing with people who brought bad news.


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Epilogue – Episode II

Donald Ramson kept the radio down, and jerked out the latest teletype from the encrypted satellite transmission, the writing was on the wall, their last hopes were gone, the Pakistani lie had cost them dearly much more dearly than they expected, but even he could not understand the reports of cruise missile attacks from Northern Afghanistan, he was sure that Indians had not sent any missile units into the area. He would also be sure if any of the high tickets Nirbhay missiles was *missing* from Indian inventory. It was inexplicable, and he was afraid that his allies would think of these as American tomahawks, after all, who else could do that from Afghan territory? In any case these answers would need to wait, the most important thing for him was to get out there quickly, he could not hang around in the changed circumstances, the tribesmen would be baying for blood and they would not care whose it was right now. He reached below his desk and opened a trunk exposing a clean sheet of metal with a keypad and display. He quickly punched out a self destruct sequence for the powerful weapon which was inside. He had to make sure that no remote trace remained of his presence here, and or of any equipment, for anyone. He straightened out and closed the lid, putting the lock back on it. The device was now set to go off at his remote command, or if he fell, which ever was earlier. Pulling a cowl over his turbaned head, he made his way to the door, few minutes were all he needed to get out now.

The flimsy door feel down with a bang as the towering warlord strode in, Ramson’s own till then loyal guards by his side, and for the first time in life, Donald was afraid.

“You back stabbed us. You filthy Kafir” Amir Omar Haqqani told him matter of factly.

“No Amir, we had nothing to do with this, I did warn you about the lying Pakistani’s, did I not? We always suspected a critical leak, but the ******** covered it up.” Ramson stuttered.

“And we will deal with them later, thank you very much. This is the last time we ally with the pigs. But who told us to make this alliance you tell us? Who asked us to stop fighting the Army and Nato and work together? On whose word and promise? You promised to ensure that the world conditions will be such that the Indians won’t be able to act after we attack, you told us their weapons won’t work, their satellite connections will be broken, their allies will desert them in UN, they will not get spare and munitions” Omar hissed, his voice rising just a little. “Did you tell us or did you not?”

Donald Ramson found himself unable to reply, stuck rooted to the spot as if turned into a stone, hypnotized by the snake eyes of the man opposite him, he could barely whisper.

“Instead they could make a pre emptive attack and hit the most critical centers. The plan is dead before it could take off. Our men are dead, my brother is dead. Who will pay?” The black turban asked.

That was something Donald understood, he came back to life “I understand, we can work something out, we would not like to see our allies weakened, we can reach another compact, money will not be a problem.”

Amir Haqqani gave a mirthless laugh which chilled Donald to the bone, “Son of a money lender, Jew! This is all you understand don’t you. Well you will learn, we thought you had learnt but we were wrong, no problem, we will send a message this time that they will remember.”

Many things happened at once, Donald reached for his gun, and the body guard lunged at him, Amir drew his sword which flashed out and Donald fell down bleeding from a deep cut across his arm, an artery severed, the gun lost. He looked up to Amir and spat at him, he did not want to end up in a video for his family to see, if he had to die, the room would be best, drawing satisfaction from the thought that the man whom he had always deeply loathed would die with him. His act had the desired effect, the Afghan roared in anger and swung his sword, decapitating the American with a single swing. As the body fell back, spouting blood, the monitoring systems attached to his body started beeping in concern, the loss of heart beat was felt by them deeply and as message sent out when it did not come back on line. The message that the box in the room above was waiting for. As Omar stood above the body glaring at dead man, blood dripping from the sword, a ball of fire went up around him, and then spread around the village, the tactical nuclear device vaporizing the entire stronghold in an single instance.

At least Donald Ramson never failed in the task that he had to carry out by himself; never.


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THE END


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PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010 14:06 
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Great work!! Sanku!! You are the man!!


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PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010 15:44 
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Thanks very much all. And especial thanks to Dileep for providing the motivation and engaging with me in the initial discussion when the story was launched. Thanks in general to Ramana for acting as a motivating force for various things.

If not for their push, I would not write it.

Also I truly appreciate the support of all those who cared to give feedback, that sort of engagement keeps you going, and thanks to all those who spared their time to read it.


Last edited by Sanku on 22 Jun 2010 16:41, edited 1 time in total.

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