This is a novelized series that begins at Chapter 1
The previous chapter can be found here
“Alex, I am changing to channel 144. Let me know when you see something… “, saying this, Anuradha clicked a couple of buttons on her phone, before turning to Raghav.
As he looked at her, he understood the pressure on her. Her forehead was wrinkled with worry, her laugh lines messed up with swollen nerves. The sooner this whole mess was finished, the quicker he would get his old Anu back.
Anuradha saw Raghav looking at her closely and smiled, a tired, crinkly smile. It was the first bit of calm that she had in the last 2 days, sitting with Rohan and Raghav. Rohan had slept off almost as soon as they got into the car. He had been up all night crying because he missed his mother and now, with her in close proximity, he had all the peace he needed.
“So, you are a… spy?”, ventured Raghav. He wasn’t sure if he should have asked her this at this point or waited. But guessing by the way events were unfolding, he wanted to get this sorted at the earliest. Anuradha looked back at the road and after a moment, just sighed and nodded her head. “Since when?”, Raghav tried asking again. Anuradha again sighed and seemed to be thinking, wondering where to begin from. Raghav was getting slightly annoyed. Of course, she needed the peace, but this was something that he should have been told about earlier! She had no reason to hide her past from him… And now, when they needed to talk about it, she didn’t seem too interested either.
At that moment, Alex’s voice came over Anuradha’s headset, “We might have a problem. Switch to channel 120 and enable scrambler.” Anuradha hurriedly changed the channel back and ended up in the midst of heated discussion. From what she could glean from the snippets of communication, 13 kilometers to their right, on the national highway the convoy of armoured vehicles in which Parvathy had been travelling in was hit by two trucks… and the car she was in, had rolled over multiple times. By the time the rescue teams had reached, Parvathy was missing. She wasn’t responding to calls on the headset and her tracking chip had also been deactivated.
And then Alex’s voice came over the headset again, overriding the din of the other voices. He said, “Approaching multiple hostiles within 1.5 kilometers. Possible armoured vehicle backup. Awaiting instructions.” He was… suddenly formal. That meant only one thing. The Chief was online. Anuradha closed her eyes for a second for the roads were empty at this hour and said, “Copy. Give us red at the next signal and freeze the traffic signal cameras. Over!” Alex curtly replied, “Wilco. Next signal in 500 meters. Turning red. Over.”
As they reached the signal, his countdown could be heard, “Freezing image in 10… 9… 8…”. Raghav looked over at Anuradha. The tiredness from earlier had vanished. The wrinkles had disappeared. The hunt was afoot and she was the huntress primo.
Once they had rolled to a stop at the lights, which Alex had perfectly coordinated with his countdown, he confirmed that the cameras around the signal were frozen.
One kilometer away, in the armoured truck, the man looking at the screen leaned a little closer. The car had reached the last signal and it had been caught in a red light. Just a kilometer more and they could finish what they came for. Oh, to go back home and play with his kids again. To go back and have a little bit of his mother’s sambhar and rasam, mixed with the rice.
At least the pay was good.
Darn, looked like the image was frozen. Stupid Indian internet. Doesn’t work when you need it to.
At the signal, Anuradha jumped out of the car, went to the back of the car and opened the car’s boot, slowly, so as not to wake up Rohan. She opened the suitcases in the boot and took out an emergency flare and an automatic rifle, plugged in a full magazine, unbolted the safety and peered through the infrared sights.
She had been waiting for this for a while. “Alex, do you copy?”, she spoke into the headset. “Copy. Loud and clear.”, replied Alex. “Great. Take control of the car. Keep it here at the signal for 30 more seconds. And then keep it rolling, no matter what. As soon as the bullets starts, drive forward for a kilometer more and wait for me. I have a flare with me. The moment the flare comes on, let loose a missile at the flare. Also, use the drone and block all comms in a 2 kilometer range. I don’t want any messages or calls coming in or going out, until you see the flare. Copy?” “Anu, do we have clearance for aerial ordinance drop for this op?”, asked Alex. It was the Chief who replied this time, “Anuradha has carte blanche over the operation. The drone and it’s ordinance has been issued for this op. No questions will be asked. Clearance provided, Brave Tango Bravo Alpha. Operator to comply. Anu, we have a Rapid Action unit inbound. ETA 12 minutes. Over.”
Alex said, “Copy. Clearance obtained. Missiles are hot and ready. Awaiting flare. Comms black out commencing in 15 seconds. Good luck, Anu. Over!”
Anu interjected, “Copy. Thank you, cap. Keep the Rapid Action unit and send in the cleaners. Awaiting comms black out. Over and out. See you on the other side!”
She removed the headset and went over to Raghav’s window and knocked. He wound down the window. She handed over the headset and said, “So, there’s going to be a bit of a shooting. You guys might be caught in the crossfire. Do not open your windows or door until I see you again. Keep your head down… hopefully the armour should hold. I’ll see you a little later…”
“What do you mean…”, started Raghav. “Again, there’s no time to explain. It’ll just take 5 minutes, tops. Just… take care and make sure Rohan’s fine.”, Anuradha said and knocked on the door. Alex understood and rolled up the windows and the guard nets and started the countdown.
All communications were off. 2 kilometers, 1 flare.
All the Chief and Alex could do was look at the small black fleck on the screen that was Anuradha, sprinting away from the car towards the buildings huddled on the other side.
This is a novelized series. Anu’s story continues in Chapter 8 of A Tad Incognito.
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