Ravan and Hanuman: Old memories

Year 2002: Hanuman was stationed on the Northern border leading an elite commando squad in the treacherous mountains of the Himalayas dealing with terrorists and Chinese insurgents. Hanuman was assigned a mission to retrieve a surveillance drone built by Ravan, which was stolen by the Maoists near the Assam border during transportation and according to Ravan, its current location was in somewhere in Siliguri Corridor, a 20Km narrow stretch surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Hanuman was instructed by the General to follow the leads of Ravan for the mission. It was surprising that a civilian was allowed to have so much authority for a covert mission. Siliguri Corridor or better known as ‘Chicken’s neck’ had long been a breeding ground for warlords, human traffickers and militants from the northeastern parts of India. Even though Hanuman was very well versed with the Corridor he was frustrated about the mission as all details on the drone were classified and his superiors refused to reveal it to him. After enough digging, he found out that the drone was a part of the secret military project between Indian army and the Empire to develop pilotless drones and other automated weapons. The stolen drone was not only a surveillance drone but was also capable of carrying heavy missiles.

Hanuman barged into Ravan’s camp and grabbed him by his collar, “You Bastard! Do you understand the gravity of the situation? Do you have any idea that once the drone is gone from the Corridor it will be impossible to track. You pathetic bureaucrats, you just care about your profits, you don’t give a damn about this country or its people. How were the details of such a highly classified weapon leaked in the first place?” Ravan somehow freed himself from Hanuman’s grip and answered, “Why do you think I’m standing here? I could have just given you the location from my office and would now be having a nice hot coffee in my mansion if I only cared about money. You are the one who isn’t aware of the complete situation, the drone was armed with a bio-chemical weapon and Chinese army intends to deploy the drone in the Tibetan region to end the long-standing rebel problems and wage a war with India claiming it to be India’s attack on Chinese territory. Now if that has knocked you to senses can we work together?” Hanuman was taken aback by this news; he never expected the drone to be armed in the first place, but that explained why his superiors were hiding the details; they were just covering any tracks that could lead to them.

Hanuman: “Which genius had the idea of transporting an armed drone through the Maoists dominated area? How are you tracking the drone? Is there any active tracker on the drone?”

Ravan: “The less you know the better for you. Let’s just say that we were able to get the approximate location from my sources. But now there is no way to track it. But as per my sources, the Chinese army officials will be arriving the day after tomorrow to make a deal.”

Hanuman: “You expect me to believe your bullshit and put my men in jeopardy. My unit will not make any move until I have a clear idea of what are we dealing with. If you want the drone back in one piece you better start answering my questions.”

Ravan: “Drone doesn’t belong to me but your army, so even if you bring it back in million pieces it won’t make any difference to me. Now move your ass out of my camp and get the answers from your superiors. I have a lot of work to do especially when you are being such a pain in the ass.”

Hanuman: “The drone wasn’t delivered to army yet so if anything happens with the drone it is on your head; so stop being a jerk and answer me.”

Ravan: “You are a leech! Fine! The drone was planned to be deployed in the Maoist area to track the leaders and destroy the base completely. The missile armed on the drone is a hybrid of biological and chemical weapon; it leaves no traces of any chemical toxins and affects only the individuals marked by the surveillance camera as a threat. On the day of launch, the stress levels of one of the scientists on the team were reported to be extreme. But before we could figure out what was wrong, the Maoist had control over the drone and it soon went off the radar. They were somehow tipped about the missile and also knew the details of the team working on the project. The scientist was forced to give out the details about the possible whereabouts of the drone. I had planted a bug in the system to send location whenever the drone was re-programed. We tracked the drone in the Assam border region but failed to retrieve it, but we were able to catch one of the Maoists alive and according to him a deal has been struck with Chinese army and the drone will be delivered in the Siliguri Corridor within this week. Their hackers must have found the bug and fixed it because the drone is completely untraceable after that incident.”

Hanuman: “My men had spotted an elite hacker in the northern sector of the Corridor last week and the Chinese army’s presence was also reported in the same area.  I guess that is from where we should start. I will have my team ready in 1 hour; you and your team will stay here and observe the operation.”

Hanuman assembled the team and was debriefing them about the mission. It would have taken almost 8-10 hours for the team to scan the entire northern sector so Hanuman came up with an idea to use heat seekers to identify the coldest areas in the sector. The drone needed to be re-programed which would require high-performance supercomputers, but these computers were too huge to carry around and very difficult to set up in an area like corridor another and more feasible option would be a closed grid of computers, heat sinking towers are usually used to prevent this high-performance computers from overheating, these heat sinking towers also result in a significant temperature drop of the surrounding atmosphere. An old abandoned factory showed up on the screen as a probable target. It was located on a small uphill and was isolated from the surrounding by a fence, thus making it a perfect hiding spot. Hanuman pulled the floor plan for the factory, the structure was based on load bearing model with a sewage tunnel beneath to dispose off the waste. Heat signatures of around 50-60 humans was registered inside the factory, as it was a new moon day so taking advantage of the darkness Hanuman would lead a small strike team of 10 members would infiltrate using the sewage tunnel and then split into 2 groups; one would plant the explosives on the southern wall making the structure unstable and open fire at the enemy spreading chaos; in the meantime the other team would retrieve the drone and head out of the factory towards the north end of the hill where a pickup vehicle would retrieve them and the remaining would retreat from the tunnel. The entire operation was to commence within 20 minutes. Ravan’s team would be at stand by and observe the entire mission and would engage only if there were any casualties.

At 2100 hours Hanuman and his team entered the factory through the tunnel. The first group which comprised of 6 soldiers took over all the snipers and other long range weaponry inside the factory. Hanuman along with 3 other soldiers located the drone and waited for the signal from other teammates to launch an attack.

Sunray (Hanuman): “CHARLEE CHARLEE (Collective Call – everyone), this is Sunray. Confirm status. Over”

(Everyone reports as position secured. The group had further split up and each held a place in every direction and 3 snipers on the top to keep an eye on any further threats.)

Hanuman: “Confirm position, Is, Oscar a go?”

B-T-3 (Team: B, Position: Top, Direction: East (3)): “Negative! Sunray, please standby, looks like enforcements have arrived. Cannot confirm visual”

B-T-4 (Team: B, Position: Top, Direction: South-East (4)): “This is BRAHVOH – TANGGO – FOW-ER; I have a visual two Chinese army trucks have just arrived. It’s code RED. I repeat its code RED.”

Hanuman: “Team BRAHVOH retreat and contact team Delta. Do not engage. I repeat Team BRAHVOH re-treat.”

B-G-5(Team: B, Position: Ground, Direction: South (5)): “This is BRAHVOH-GOLF-FIVE; Sunray, is Team ALFA retreating as well?”

Hanuman: “This is Sunray; do not wait for us, Team BRAVOH move out.”

B-G-5: “Team BRAVOH, reassemble in 2 minutes. Over and Out!”

Team B was at the entrance of the tunnel, the officers were confused and distraught after being asked to retreat without putting any resistance.

B-T-8: “I have served in more difficult situations than this, I joined the unit thinking it would more challenging and we are asked to retreat? I would rather die here.”

B-G-7: “Yeah, what is he even thinking? Asking us to retreat? It’s just 4 of them against an entire battalion! That is plain right suicide!”

B-G-5: “Hey rookies, who do you think are talking about? Those 5 are the pride of this unit. They are the Elites of the Vanar Unit. Jatau from Garud Commandos, Jambavan from Para Commandos, Nal from Marine Commando,”

B-T-4: “Forget what you did in your previous division this is Elite Force, here if you are asked to re-treat it means one and only one thing, the party is about to begin! Watch rookies, the reason why everyone fears this unit.”

A-T-1(Jatau): “This is ALFA-TANGGO–ONE; I have visual on the target.”

A-G-2: (Jambavan): “This is ALFA- GOLF–TWO; Enemy is in my range. Damn! Where is everyone?”

A-T-2(Nal): “Sunray, Where is that idiot? He must have forgotten the time I guess.”

Sunray: “Forget about -“

Hanuman’s voice was muffled by agonizing cries of enemy soldiers followed by a huge explosion setting Southern side of the factory on fire.

Unknown Voice: “Starting the party without me? How unfair Sunray.”

A-T-1: “You Pyromaniac! You burned them!!”

Neel, one of the captains from Hanuman’s Unit had entered out of nowhere with a weapon which was a hybrid of a flamethrower and a grenade launcher. He had destroyed the entire southern exit with one blow of his new weapon.

Neel: “Not my fault, I made an announcement before firing it.”

A-T-2: “Announcement? What part of being discreet did you not understand? Sunray we need to hurry before this maniac burns down entire place.”

Sunray: “Har Har Mahadev! Wreak Havoc!”

Hanuman started the attack by firing from his M-40 recoilless rifle at the enemy trucks. The rifle weighed almost 300Kg and was customized to be handheld instead of a usual tripod. He now opened fire at the approaching battalion and met up with Neel, who was still using the flamethrower. Jambavan joined them from the left with a machine gun, which was customized to fire a 4-gauge shotgun shell, also equipped with a grenade launcher. Nal and Jatau were positioned on the top of the factory and were providing support to the members on the ground.

                The first line of the battalion was destroyed within few minutes and there was complete chaos on the enemy side.  The Chinese Lieutenant Colonel Kuang Jié stepped out of his vehicle and asked the captains for statistics. One of the captains from the front lines informed him that there were only 3 soldiers on the ground. Jié called the Maoist leader Bilal who was responsible for the trade, “Who are the intruders? Have you betrayed us?”

Bilal:  “I don’t know who they are. The Indian Army hasn’t sent anyone yet. Your hacker is also missing; I guess he sold us out! Deal with these mercenaries now, I have already lost half my men. “

Jié: “What? Who is the Hacker? Why would I send someone without information? You are an idiot!”

Bilal: “Shit! Who are these guys working for? It is just a group of 3 rogue mercenaries; you have an entire battalion with you. Finish them and I will reward you for it.”

Jié: “Shut up you pig head! I’m working for my army; your rewards don’t mean anything to me. Just keep the drone safe!”

Jié asked all his captains to seize fire and fall back into a defensive formation. He then marched up to Hanuman maintaining a safe distance. “Who are you? What do you want? I do not wish to fight you. Just name your price and get out of here; you are up against my entire battalion; how long you think will you last against me?”

Hanuman: “Oh, we were just getting warmed up for the fight. We fight for the honor not for money. And as far as you are concerned, you can call us the angels of death.”

Jatau (Over intercom): “Sunray, the Chinese army is surrounding us from all sides!”

Jié: “You are already surrounded. Surrender and we will let you live.”

Hanuman burst into a thunderous laughter and asked Neel, “Did he just ask us to surrender?” pointing towards Jié, Neel and Jambavan joined the laughter. The sound of their laughter sent a chill down the spine of everyone in the battalion, including Jié; but he quickly composed himself and signaled his captains to launch an attack from behind. As soon as the captains along with 400 soldiers made a move on Hanuman and the group, Jatau fired the machine gun from behind the enemy, killing over than a hundred soldiers which were closer to Hanuman.

Nal got down and launched an assault on the enemy from behind with a twin bazooka, then started slicing them with a two sword swinging style. One of the two swords was ‘Kyogoku Masamune’ Katana belonging to the successor of the Kyogoku clan of Japan. He was the only samurai of non-Japanese origin ever to lead the clan. The Katana was believed to bestow mystical powers to the wielder such as superhuman strength and powers to control the forces of nature. The other sword ‘Vajra’ was a modern marvel, forged in Wootz steel and coated with carbon nanofibers; the sword could electrocute anyone within its range. The combined strength of the swords was devastating. He ran in the heart of the enemy formation with the speed of a superhuman with his Katana stretched out, slicing nothing but air, which made a hissing sound as of a venous snake intimidating his enemy. Everyone in the formation was baffled both by his speed and by the fact that he did not cut anyone in his path. Nal now stood in the center holding swords in both hands, knees slightly bent, ready to sprint at any second. Even the captains were petrified to fire at him; one of them mustered all his courage and shouted, “He doesn’t even have a gun! You have rifles!! Just shoot at him!” But before anyone could react, Nal moved his Katana in a clockwise direction and leaped in the air; while in midair, he pressed the button at the bottom of the Vajra’s hilt releasing a bolt of lightning which retraced Nal’s path electrocuting everything in an instant. Apparently, Nal had charged the air around him with the Katana when he made his way to the center; the lightning just followed the path of least resistance. Nal swung the Kyogoku in an upward spiral to release an air jet blasting the burning southern wall on the company of the soldiers which was preparing for another attack.

Neel: “Yeah, and you call me Pyromaniac? Can you smell the smell of the burning flesh? Huh? Mr. Samurai?”

Nal: “You are jealous because your entrance wasn’t as flashy as mine!”

Col. Jié was stunned by the strength of this group; out of his battalion of almost 15000 soldiers, only 50 were not injured who were guarding him the entire time. He ordered his troops to retreat.

Jatau: “Sunray, they are retreating, should I finish them?”

Hanuman: “Just kill the Colonel, let the troops go.”

Nal and Neel (in unison): “What? I guess the plan was to finish off the enemy.”

Jambavan: “That is the plan. Now, if you kids have finished playing let’s go kill some enemy.”

Jatau: “Roger that.”

Col. Jié had organized his troop in a turtle shell-like formation and was hiding beneath a heavy metal sheet of a chopper.  Jatau jumped from the top of the factory and glided towards the Jié’s location with his low altitude squirrel suit. He fired an arrow from a mini crossbow attached to his forearm, melting the metal roof of the chopper. As soon as Col. Jié was in sight Jatau shot him in head, then took a dip to increase his speed and turned left to regroup with his unit.

Hanuman: “Neel, Where are Bilal and his troops?”

Neel: “There is a basement on the northern side. He must be hiding there.”

Ravan was watching this entire episode in utter shock. He was cursing constantly. Nothing is going as per the plan. These idiots are too reckless. I doubt whether they had any plan other than mass destruction. Now I understood what that geezer meant by ‘You don’t know what you have got yourself into’. Regardless of what I said to that monkey, that drone is my only hope to get out of this. I have exhausted every resource in this. I cannot afford to fail now. Lord! Please have mercy on me.

Hanuman and his team barged into the basement and caught up with Bilal, who was about to launch the drone.

Ravan (screaming on the top of his voice): “Hanuman, THE DRONE IS ARMED! IT WILL BE ALL OVER IF HE FIRES THAT DRONE!”

Neel: “Who the Fuck is this? Dude, we are not deaf. Who gave this idiot a microphone?”

Hanuman signaled Neel to be quiet and replied, “The situation is under control.”

Bilal: “Yes, it is under control, this is your death, Vanar Sena! The drone is armed and I have already marked you all.” And he pressed the fire button on the panel, to his surprise nothing happened. The drone still remained stationary.

Bilal now panicked and asked his men what was happening.

Nal who was standing in the shadows stepped out and taunted Bilal, “Hey Comrade, what’s wrong?”

Bilal: “Ah! Thank god you are here. Fix this dumb thing.” within an instant, he realized that he was tricked and his grin was replaced by fear. Going down on his knees, he began to sob profoundly. “You guys are worse than the worst villains I have exercised in my whole life. So now what?”

Neel: “I guess we should just kill him and save ourselves from that lengthy paperwork.”

Nal: “You mean to save yourself”, Nal teased him with an innocent face.

Neel: “And why do you think I let you kill a few extra today? You will help me in writing, so will Sir Jambavan.” Mellowing his tone to almost a request and folding his hands in a Namaste towards Jambavan.

Jambavan nodded as a gesture of approval.

Hanuman: “We will not kill you if you agree to cooperate with us and clean up the illegal arms racket here.”

As they were speaking, one of the subordinates of Bilal accidentally tripped over the wires holding the support of the drone. The imbalance caused a support pillar to collapse and the drone fell upon the team. Ravan who was already stunned by the new development was mortified to see the team that saved the day, die such a tragic death. As the dust cleared the view became clear and the drone was somehow levitating in the air. He asked to change the camera to get a better view, Hanuman appeared to be holding the drone all by himself, whereas the team was busy preparing a makeshift support.

The entire team was greeted with loud cheers. After much fanfare Hanuman was enjoying his victory drink, a tradition started by his mentor. Ravan approached him to confront him.

Hanuman:  “Ah! Just in time. Here have a drink.” and poured a drink for Ravan.

Ravan: “You knew about the drone all this time, then why so much drama?”

Hanuman: “My task here is to destroy the arms race and bring peace to this corridor. If I’m not aware of a Drone deal in my own backyard than what good am I? I was just testing you. It was very suspicious, that an arms dealer is suddenly so interested in saving his drone, that he is ready to put his life on the line. It seems your reckless actions were out of sheer desperation. This drone is your last trump card.”

Ravan was astonished by the information Hanuman had on him, the bubble of false profit created by him had even fooled the experts and yet now he felt as if he was naked in front of this guy. During his stay at the camp, he explored more about Hanuman. On the day of departure, he confronted Hanuman

Ravan: “Would you like to work for me? You know, now that I have this drone there won’t be any more hiccups.”

Hanuman: “I was wondering when you will be asking this question. Sorry, but I don’t work as a mercenary, this uniform is all that I am.”

Ravan: “For how long will you be able to deal with this? Taking orders, working with the corrupt. If you join me, you can have an army of your own and you won’t have to do anything shady.”

Hanuman: “I don’t wish to have an army of mine, I’m happy with what I have. Your offer is flattering, but still I will stick with the army.”

Ravan: “I can manage your superiors, you can be in the army and work for me. I can ask for your entire unit to be relieved of your current mission.”

Hanuman: “Knock it off, I won’t work for you. My loyalty lies with this uniform.”

Ravan: “There will come a time when you will be out of your depth, you will need me. Then we will trade your loyalty.”

Ravan who was not accustomed to hearing a no was hurt to be rejected, but decided to wait for the right moment.

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