Prologue

 

25th November 2008

 

The cul-de-sac of the cyber chamber seemed different that day, the blast of AC chilling him but he knew the chill was due to another reason. The buzz of the machines that usually fanned his passion for the cyber world and its intriguing realm held no interest today. His anxiety was shooting up along with his blood pressure and he had just taken today’s dose of his meds.

He strode to his computer and unlocked it. His daughter Nitya stared back making a funny face him as the special desktop took its own sweet time to boot up. He smiled… Nitya would be 11 years old soon. He hadn’t wished her for the past two birthdays. Would she hate him? His little Naman was merely 2 when he last saw the boy. Would he remember his appa?

The customized computer was so damn slow. He should have fixed this malware ages ago but now was not the time for such musings. His anxiety increased by the minute… there was no time. His colleagues would be in any minute.

Seated in this top-secret building in Yemen, a small country in the Arabian Peninsula, he had come on a special project, 3 years ago. He was a scientist, way ahead of his time and India had not acknowledged his importance. But his college friend Jafar-ul-Mansood, now based in Riyadh had.

On Jafar’s insistence, he had quit his job at IISc and flown to Yemen to join this company meant to build high-tech software for augmenting technology meant for robotics that could create marvels in the medical industry, at least that’s what he was made to believe. He had written so many codes that he had lost touch with reality. Till a couple of months earlier when he overheard Jafar speak on the phone. The man mentioned something about an attack on Mumbai… what?

Probing further he had found out that this company that paid him huge bucks was a farce… just a front for something sinister…. And just last week he realized, someone with a code name Butt had planned an evil crusade against his motherland. It wasn’t rocket science to find out the rest of it all… He had all the expertise and these guys always trusted him so there were no firewalls when he accessed the rest of the information… at least he thought so.

He had done the needful… whatever he could without calling for attention so far. He just hoped his gifts he had clandestinely arranged to be delivered to his old home was received. It was a special gift for Nitya…. A little blessing for her future. The other letters too would hopefully reach their recipients. He had managed to take the help of the sweeper, Kadir, the only man he trusted.

Now, the mounting anxiety engulfed all rational thought even as he hit the keys, unknowingly gathering more evidence.

Disgust gnawed at him as he realised how he had walked into a trap laid out by someone whom he trusted. Commander Deshmukh too had warned him subtly ages ago… about the dubious Jafar. But his greed for a better future for his children had surpassed all rational thought. His wife had pleaded with him not to go… he should have listened to her.

His wife had severed all contact for two years now and he didn’t even know her current whereabouts.

The desktop panel beeped indicating the completion of the booting up. His trembling fingers flew on the keyboard trying to erase all about project ‘BUTT’… but… wait… the information on those codes was missing. Did they eliminate the data already? How was it possible?

Oh God…

Oh, sweet Lord. How did they know about this? He hacked a site he had been trying to get into…

The location of the head office of his company was Karachi. That only meant one thing… Something was coming up in a day or two and there was this massive project hell-bent on destroying his country and he had been privy to it all along.

He wiped the sweat off his brow. What was he thinking? He had to act… act fast.

He typed-in his back door… something he had ingeniously built by habit. He couldn’t rectify the current mission or whatever the crap was going to unfold but he had to prevent future disaster. Frantically, he moved over to his latest project, the second one with the company, which was about 70 percent complete. He compared the codes to the research papers he gathered over the week… the second project.

He couldn’t remove the codes so he began to scramble them. It was in a particular order that only a super genius could decode if he observed the cryptic patterns closely. Only a genius could complete it.

But he knew these fanatics were blinded by their stupid missions and their pea-sized brains wouldn’t be able to encode anything unless they got in someone as good as him, if not better. As of now, he was sure he had done a marvellous job.  This second mission stood stranded…

Watching his handiwork set up on the screen before him, he pressed the enter key and the codes began to realign according to his brainwave.

Just then a loud gong went off. Oh did these people have an indicator like a warning signal?

Before he could react a group of armed men rushed into the room followed by Jafar and a couple of people he hadn’t met.

Bhaijaan what did you do?” Jafar looked stricken. He rushed towards the computer, now a mess of undecipherable codes.

“I should ask you, Jafar, shouldn’t I? I will not betray my country.” He stood up to the men.

“In that case…” one of the younger men with a golden tooth glinting as he grinned and grimaced, walked forward with a pronounced limp. “…Doctor miyan, we give… you… much money. And you destroy our work… You know too much so… you know punishment, no?” This guy was a pro and their leader in the making.

His menacing kohl-laden eyes shielded by strands of unruly hair gleamed, as he snatched a gun from one of the men.

The room reverberated with the staccato bangs of the bullets pumping into the scientist, whose name tag now stained crimson, read, Dr. Parikshit Mohandas.

As he fell writhing, as the last ounce of breath left his body, Parikshit’s unmoving orbs stared after his handiwork… a copy of which had already been passed on to a location only known to him. Whether the pieces of puzzles would come together, only time would tell….

He only wished the BUTT mission would fail….

(It did not. On 26th November 2008, a series of terrorist attacks took place in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The attacks lasted 2 days and resulted in 175 fatalities and over 300 injured….)

©priyanayakgole

(Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction using the backdrop of the attack that happened and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. This doesn’t attempt to change history or facts.)

 

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