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Within 10 minutez, ETF had pulled up outside Aarti's house. Soon they were talking to dr. Gupta. She was still in tears over her friend's death.
Aarti : I knew that sooner or later something would happen...I told her..told her we have to go the cops...but she said..she said..
Aarti started sobbing uncontrollably...Riya tried to comfort her n put her hands around Aarti.
Riya: Please pull urself together, Aarti..u have to help us solve her murder..
Aarti " I..I know..."she sobbed, " It's just...we knew each other for 7 years...even today morning...we sat right here n drank coffee...she was such a wonderful person...always thinking about others before herself...n they...they..."
Rathore: Dr. Gupta...u were the last person to talk to her..u r the only person who can tell us what was going on with her...
Aarti wiped away her tears "You are wrong"
Rathore: don't lie to us, Dr. Gupta..we have evidence to show that...
Aarti: You are wrong.
Riya: dekhiye Dr. Gupta, please co operate with us. Ur friend's murderers are out there, n u have to help us find them. Now, as the last person who talked to her..
Aarti: I was not the last person to talk to her.
Rathore, angry: Jhoot bolna bandh kar deejiye!!!
Arjun: she's not lying rathore.
Rathore: What are u saying, Rawte?
Arjun: The last person to talk to Salma, was not Aarti, well...at least not only her...it was...Shivam .
Rathore, Riya, Shree n Chottu all shocked. They look questioningly at Arjun. In response, he indicated the sneakers lying behind the potted plant in the corner.
Shree: Shivam is here??
Aarti: Yes, he is. How much do you know?
Arjun: Shivam, I believe, was on drugs, that explains his erratic behaviour n mood swings. When salma talked to him, she understood he needed help, so she brought him to u, Dr. Gupta, who specializes in drug rehab, under the guise that he was going to a summer camp. However, I am not sure, y she didn't take him to a clinic instead.
Aarti: Salma didn't want his parents finding out, his addiction was fairly recent, in the first stages. I could treat him here, n help him, instead of making him go through the gruelling sessions at the hospital. Also, there was something going on, bigger than the drugs.
Rathore: n that is?
"Terrorists" a voice spoke from inside. Everyone turned, to find a boy of about 16, his eyes sunken, skin pale n looking haggard come into the room.
Riya: Shivam? Shivam Kashyap??
Shivam: Yes, I am Shivam..please don't arrest Dr.Aarti. She was only trying to help me. Same as Salma aunty...n now she's dead...it's all my fault...
Tears rolled down his cheeks.
Arjun went near him" Shivam...it's not ur fault..because of u, Salma was able to unearth such a big conspiracy. If you hadn't agreed to talk to her, n get treatment, no one could have known all this. U did the right thing, now u have to help us see this to the end. Tell us everything u know"
He put a hand on Shivam n gave it a gentle squeeze, reassuring him. Riya was amazed to see Arjun sir connect to someone like this. So, he was human after all...she smiled to herself...
Shivam sat down and told them everything.
Shivam: I got into a bad crowd at school recently. Started off with fights, n getting into trouble. Then I started skipping school, n got into drugs. Raihan tried to keep me away from them, he tried to talk to me...but I pushed him away. My drug supply was also diminishing..I couldn't find any pushers readily.. It was around that time, that certain people came to see me..Certain..I don't know how to put it...they said a lot of things...a lot of which I couldn't understand...Later when I had a clearer head, I thought over...n was horrified..what they had implied was...they would keep me on a steady flow of drugs...my supply would never be cut off..provided I worked for them...
Shivam: I had to..join them..help them in their fight..fight against evil they said..a holy fight...Jihad they said..but I knew what it really was...terrorism...
Arjun: Ingenious plan...first infiltrate the youth circles, introduce them to drugs..make them dependent on it..cut off their supply...then offer them a way out..by joining into their nefarious activities...terrorism really has evolved..
Shivam: I was terrified..I din know what to...I was too scared to go to my parents...or the police..thatz when I had that fight with Raihan, n Salma aunty intervened..She knew something was rong, n asked me repeatedly...I finally broke down n told her everything..
Aarti: She brought Shivam to me, asked me not to tell a soul...I told her to go the police, but she said without any proof, or details about these thugs, they couldn't stop them. N that it would be worse if they got away n struck somewhere else. So she started her enquiries, n yesterday night she told me that she had finally discovered their hideout. She went their today morning n recorded some of the activities.
Shivam: Salma aunty came here today morning, she showed me the recording n asked me to identify the people. They were the same guyz who had approached me.
Shree: So that was y her memory card was missing...they must have found out that Salma was spying on them...
Rathore: after all this, n Salma's death, u still didn't come forward?? Why??
Aarti: I wasn't sure if they knew Shivam was here. I didn't want to risk them finding out. Salma asked me to protect him, n I was trying to...If they found out Shivam led Salma to them, they would kill him too..
Arjun: we need to reach their hiding place n catch these guyz fast, they must be making a move now that they know Salma was after them. . Shivam...did u recognize the place from the video she showed u?
Shivam: Yes, it's the old steel factory building...it's been abandoned for over 12 years..it's about 20 minutez from here..
Rathore: team, letz go!!
Shivam: Just one more thing..I...
Rathore, impatient: What is it Shivam? Quickly, we have no time to waste..
Shivam: Before u guyz came, Raihan called me...he wanted to know what was going on with me...he had figured out that I was responsible in some way for his mom acting strangely...I finally confessed my drug problem...he begged me to tell him where his mom was before she died..I told him about the factory...
Shivam: I am sorry!!! He said he just wanted to c the place...but I couldn't think clearly at the time...I was feeling so guilty...I...I couldn't...if they find him...they'll kill him!!!
He started crying, covering his face...
The entire team was shell shocked. If Raihan had gone to confront his Mom's killers...
Arjun: We have to leave. Now.
Riya put a hand on Shivam. He looked up.
Chottu: Don't worry...We'll bring him back...
In 16 minutez, the team was outside the factory. Guns drawn, earpieces in place, they got ready for the operation.
Rathore: we have to move very carefully, we shouldn't let them get out of our hands. Also there is a chance Raihan might be here, in which case, we need to ensure no harm comes to him..Arjun, Riya..u guys go around the side..Chottu, Shree...u r with me..we'll go through the back..
Arjun: I can go in alone..Riya can go with u..
Rathore: I don't care what u can do Rawte. I just gave an order, n I expect it to be followed, am I clear?
Riya was irritated..What was his problem? She thought he had mellowed down a bit to her..but no, he was still the same. Thinking she was no good in the field. She was good enough only for research n sitting at a desk.
Riya: I am sorry u were burdened with me, SIR
Both of them were stealthily making their way into the factory through some broken doors. It was a very dilapidated building, about 2 stories high. It looked like it would collapse any moment. As they crept into the structure, Arjun spoke.
Arjun: When you are less experienced in the field, it's inevitable you'll be a burden to whoever ur partnered with.
Riya scowled at him." If you don't let someone into the field, how are they ever going to become experienced, SIR?
Arjun gave her a long hard look, and Riya raised one eyebrow at him. He turned n holding his gun straight ahead, slowly moved forward. Riya too followed suit, thinking to herself " Riya- 1"
Arjun moved ahead. He was momentarily silenced by her smart comment. Amused too. She was right, but what he said was right too. He knew she was not used to the gun she held so carefully in her hand. He also knew, she made up for that with her excellent martial art skills. But still..right now he was also concerned about her injured hand..he was almost sure that something would happen here..n if she was in some danger, he couldn't protect her..he had a job to do..n he didn't want her being a distraction; in any way..
They had reached the second floor of the building. All they had seen so far were some worn out equipment, old tins and drums.
Arjun crouched down behind some railings..Riya also sat down on her haunches beside him.
Riya: sir, yahaan toh koi bhi dikh nahi raha hai..let alone terrorists...
Arjun: Shhh!!! Keep ur voice down...
Riya: Sorry..But Sir..I think...by this time they would have escaped from here..
Arjun: It's been only one n a half hours since the crime..n besidez...dey think they have removed all evidence of their existence..n according to them..nobody else was aware of this...
Riya: So, we still have time?
Arjun: Yes..but because of the heat of the murder..they will be clearing out..we have very less time..they probably are tying up loose ends now..
There was a slight noise from inside as if in agreement to his statement. Both of them stopped talking and paid attention to the direction from where the disturbance came. But the sounds were not repeated.
Arjun whispered to Riya, " I am going in, stay right here."
Riya: But Sir, Main Bhi..
Arjun: No!!! Stay here, n don't move...no matter what..in case they come this way..u have to stop them..
Before Riya could protest further, Arjun went in silently into an inner area. Both Arjun n Riya were aware, that no terrorist would be coming this way, not if he could help it. Riya realized that and her resentment towards his treatment of her came back. But she knew how to follow orders, and so she stayed put. After about 5 minutes, she heard footsteps. Someone went rushing past her and she immediately pointed her gun at him.
Riya: STOP!! Or I'll shoot!!
The figure stopped and put up his hands. He had a knife in his hand, n it caught the sunlight from a skylight and glinted in the stark room.
Riya: turn around, very slowly.
He turned n Riya was shocked. She lowered her gun
Riya: Raihan!!! What are you doing out here with a knife??
And then she realized, " You are out to kill them aren't you?"
Raihan: YES!! THEY KILLED MY AMMI!!NOW I'LL KILL THEM!!
He ran again, out from that room and into a smaller store room further away. He stopped at the dead end of the room. She quickly crossed over to him and took a hold of his hand, surprising him. She disarmed him, the knife falling to the floor with a slight thud. With her other hand, she covered his mouth. As he struggled with her, she said in a low voice " Keep ur voice down!!"
Raihan continued to struggle.
Riya: Raihan, listen to me. These are trained terrorists, with probably arms n ammunition hundred times more powerful than even the police have. You think u can go do them any harm with ur 6 inch knife??
Raihan stopped struggling, but his eyes burned with rage. Rage and hatred. Riya saw the fire in them n sighed.
Riya: Raihan, I know u want to avenge ur mother's death, but doing this will not do any good. We are here to catch those monsters and make them pay for what they did to ur ammi, but if they get a hold of u, they can get away using u as a hostage. And then they'll probably just kill u. Is that what u want??
Raihan sagged slightly in her grasp n shook his head slowly. Riya let go of him slowly. He stepped forward and looked at her.
Riya: Don't let ur Ammi's death go to waste, Raihan. You have to honour her memory, help keep her alive. Help ur Abbu n Ruhi through all this pain. You have to be there for them, n let them be there, for you. Don't punish urself for what somebody else did.
Raihan's eyes filled with tears. "I..I am sorry..."
She hugged him n he held onto her like she was an anchor, n he a sinking ship. Her heart went out to him. She gently detached herself from him and looked into his eyes.
Riya: Raihan, u have to get out of here. Do u think u can do that? Without anyone seeing u?
Raihan: Yes..theres a...theres a way out through the side..I can go..
Riya: Good..then quickly...
She stopped...Someone was coming..She heard voices.."There!!There!!someone's there!!"
Riya panicked. She looked around, she saw some drums making a sort of dark corner behind her. She pushed Raihan.."Quick behind those drums, hide!!"
She grabbed her cell phone, turned it to silent n gave it to him. " Take this, record everything that goes on here!!N dn come out, no matter WHAT HAPPENS, until I tell u, got it??"
Raihan nodded n Riya pushed him into the corner. Just in time too...Suddenly two people came into the room. They looked at her furiously as she stood there, pointing her gun at them.
Man 1: WHO ARE YOU??HOW DID U GET IN??
Riya: Who I am is no concern of urs. But I am very well aware of who u scum are.
Man 1: How dare u, u B****!!!! Khalid!!! GET HER!!!
The man called Khalid lunged forward n before she could fire, punched her in the stomach. The wind was knocked out of her, and the gun was thrown away from her hand, but she kicked him down. He fell down with a crash and yelled to the other man " Zayed!!"
Zayed lunged at her, but she was ready this time, she caught his hand midway and with the palm of her hand hit him on the nose. Blood spurted out n Zayed screamed in pain.
Riya stepped back panting heavily and thought to herself, "where was everyone?? Rathore, Shree n Chottu were still at the back, but Arjun sir was just here right?? She couldn't hold on much longer alone, without exposing Raihan, she had to restrict the perimeter of her fight so that the drums didn't get knocked over. She prayed fervently that Arjun would come quickly. Both the man were slowly getting up.
Riya got ready to charge again, when out of the corner of her eye, she saw someone creeping into the room from a door behind the drums. "Arjun Sir!!!' her heart soared, but with the next step, she knew it wasn't him. It was another one of them. Riya was utterly tensed. If that guy got any nearer, he would see Raihan, if she didn't deal with these two guys, they would overpower her. She found herself in a predicament. What should she do???Time was slipping away, each second more precious than the last.."WHAT SHALL I DO!!!!!"
N then the answer came to her. She remembered the oath she had taken, to protect the livez of others, even at the cost of her own. She took a deep breath of determination, n looked down. She saw her gun lying too steps away from her. They were advancing, Khalid n Zayed from the back, n the nameless enemy from the back. The two in front still thought she wasn't aware of their comrade advancing from the back.
In a split second, she took a lunge, grabbed the gun from near her feet, spun around n fired at the guy behind her. It was a direct hit, a head shot. The guy fell dead on the spot, without disturbing a single barrel. She smiled in satisfaction, she had timed it perfectly. At the same moment, 2 pairs of hands grabbed her from behind, she was forced to drop her gun, as her injured hand was twisted around. She recoiled in the pain it caused.
Khalid, pulled her to him by her hair: U killed him!!! He was my best lieutenant!!! N u killed him!!! U!!
Riya: Go to hell, B******!!!!!
He slapped her n she fell down groaning. He made to kick her head, but she covered it with her hands n she bore the brunt of his kicks on her hands. Her wound started to bleed. Her id fell out of her pocket. Zayed picked it up and gaped.
Zayed: Bhai!!! Yeh police se hai!!!
Khalid looked at the card Zayed offered n boiled over in rage. He put a foot down on her hurt hand and she screamed. Zayed put a hand over her mouth. She bit him.
Zayed gave a howl and slapped her. Riya fell into a daze. She was moaning.
Zayed:aaahhh!!! Bhai!!! Her team must be here.. If she makez a sound, they'll come running..aur phir hum toh gaya!!
Khalid threw the id back on Riya n grabbed her gun from the ground.
Khalid: In that case, letz finish her!!!
Zayed: Hanh Bhai!!!
Despite what she had said, Raihan got ready to jump out from hiding and do something...or else..they would kill her!!!
Riya could see Raihan's terrified eyes staring at her from between the containers, holding her mobile in front of her. She saw in his eyes, what he was planning to do, n through a minuscule motion of her head, forbid him. He hesitated n then relented, leaning back into the corner.
Khalid was pointing the gun at her, grinning evilly. Riya looked up at him defiantly, eyez blazing.
Khalid: No!!! If we shoot her, woh saale sun sakhte hain!!!!
Zayed: then what??? We can't just leave her here...or we can...we are going to blow this place up in 15 minutez anyway!!!
Khalid: lekin tab tak..she shouldn't be in a situation to inform her bloody team!!! Zayed!!! U have the syringe with u???
Zayed: Yes bhai!!! Here..
He handed Khalid a syringe, filled with a cloudy solution.
Zayed: It's a good thing I had it ready huh??
Khalid gave his malicious smile " Whatz the concoction??"
Zayed: patha nahi bhai. Mix of 2 or 3 I guess..It will keep her down for a day at least, n if left undisturbed ...KHALLAS!!!
Khalid: A day...hunh...we just need 15 minutes!!!
They both laughed and pulled Riya up. Suddenly Zayed's phone vibrated.
Zayed: Hello? Achha theek hai..tum log niklo...hum bas pahunch rahe hai..
He cut the call "Bhai, sab kaam ho gaya!! All the bombs are in place. we just have to leave"
Riya said weakly " No matter where u go, we will get u!!"
Khalid gave a chuckle" Acha?? Toh suno. Tomorrow we are blasting the airport. Everyone there will get a direct ticket to heaven. Come n stop us then!!" Oh, but u can't!! Because, agle 15 minut mein, u'll be dust!!!!
Riya tried to punch him, but he caught her hand roughly. He pulled out an elastic band from his pocket n tightened it around her left arm. She tried to struggle, but she was too weak right now n her hand was bleeding heavily. With Zayed holding her, he plunged the needle down into her vein n pushed down the plunger. Riya felt the prick of the needle, and then the hard floor as she was pushed back onto the ground.
Khalid: That will take care of her!! And when the bombs go off, her team will be...
Laughing to themselves, they left the room.
After about a minute, she began to feel dizzy...n disoriented. Riya called out to him softly " Raihan"
He quickly but silently crept out of his niche and came to her.
Riya gasped "Raihan. Go straight to Dr.Gupta...As fast...fast..as u can. Take the...phone...with u. The minute u reach...call Sameer Rathod...my senior...his number in my..my fone..call him...now go!!!!"
Raihan: But u!!!
Riya: I'll b fine...my team is here..u leave...go...get out of here!!!!!
Raihan clasped her hand in his, she gave a half nod, n nudged him away..He ran out...
Riya lay down n forced herself to keep awake, her head felt like it was on fire and there were a million tonne weight attached to it. Her arms n legs were dead weights. She felt like just giving up and closing her eyes, but she fought the temptation. Her team needed her..They were unaware of the bomb threat. His building could blow any minute n she had to tell them..
She got up, supporting herself on the heavy cask, she bent down to retrieve her gun n held it loosely in one hand. She looked around, her sight blurry. Which way had she come??
Elsewhere, Arjun was standing frustrated. No sign of those murderers! They had escaped in the nick of time. He called out to Rathore
Arjun: Rathore. Nothing here, the birdz have flown.
Rathore: Same here. We haven't been able to spot anything either. We will meet u at ur end
Arjun conveyed the location, where he had left Riya. He called out to Riya next, but there was no response.
Arjun: Riya!! Riya!! Come in!!!
Arjun exasperated: Yeh ladki bhi!! Patha nahi dhyaan kaha hai..
Irritated by everything happening, he went back to look for her.
Riya was on the verge of collapse..She had no idea where she was. She was probably walking around in circles or had walked further away from her original point. She wanted to call out to them, but she had no sound left to shout. Her tongue felt heavy in her mouth. Her earpiece was also destroyed in the scuffle. She continued walking dragging her feet and trying her hard not to stumble.
Rathore: where is she Rawte??
They had met at the point as discussed n there was no sign of Riya. They had looked around a bit, but there was no trace of her.
Rathore: I asked you two to partner up, not leave her alone at one place while u go off bounding on ur own. When will u learn what a team means Rawte??
Arjun: Woh bacchii nahi hai Rathore, she'z supposed to be a trained officer. I would think she can take care of her own safety.
Rathore, furious: Yeh bhashan ki koi kami nahi hai tum mein.
Arjun stood silent. At first , he thought she had gone off somewhere to investigate on her own. But now..she was not answering her fone either..Things were looking bad..He was beginning to worry..Why had he left her alone?? Because he believed she could take care of herself, but he knew he was at fault. As her partner for the mission, it was his duty to watch out for her.
Shree: What if they abducted Riya??
Arjun looked at him, shocked. Chottu looked angry.
Rathore: Nahi nahi..think positively..we'll have to sweep through this entire building. We have to find her n fast.
Riya stood leaning on a beam, breathing heavily. She was feeling terrible. It was impossible to stay conscious. It was no use trying to..She thought to herself " No Riya!!! U have to!!! Don't give up!!!" But it was a weak battle..She couldn't go on. She was about to fall, when through a murky window, she saw..Could she be mistaken??? She tried to focus...No, it was Chottu!!!
She saw a ramshackle door beside the window. She trudged forward, somehow missed banging into the door n pulled on the doorknob with all the strength she had. The door was weak, n gave way and broke into 3 pieces. She kicked through the door and stood leaning against the door frame, gasping for air.
The team was just about to start their search for her, they turned at the commotion. The relief that flooded their faces when they saw her lifted her spirits. Arjun stood closest to her. He looked as if she had come back from the dead. She was pleased n then his face clouded over with a familiar expression, anger.
Arjun: where the hell did u wander off to?? U think this is a game?? When I asked u to stay there?, I meant STAY THERE, not go explore on ur own. Orders ki khadr karna kab seekhonge?? We have spent the past 10 minutez looking for u like mad men, u couldn't call out??? What is that earpiece for, display purposes?? This is why u I said, sm ppl are better off working at desks!!!
Rathore: enough!!!! Rawte, galti tumhare bhi thae. Stop shouting at her, n be thankful that she'z back safe. Aur Riya, u shudn't have gone off like that. Please be careful next time
Arjun: There won't be a next time, because, henceforth...
Riya suddenly dropped her gun n crumpled to the ground. Arjun startled, caught her and sat down on the ground supporting her.
Rathore, Shree, Chottu: Riya!!!
She was almost unconscious. They called out to her. Arjun was gently shaking her shoulders trying to revive her.
Chottu: She's hurt, look!!!
That was when they noticed the blood dripping down her hand. Arjun felt her sleeve. It was soaked with blood. They hadn't noticed because her shirt was black. Her injured hand!!! Up close he saw the bruises n cuts on her. Something had happened!!!
Riya slowly fluttered open her eyes, held onto Arjun's collar n spoke in a hoarse whisper " Bomb...here...get...out..." n then she closed her eyes n finally lost consciousness.
Rathore: Bomb??? Everybody, out!!!! NOW!!!!
Arjun lifted Riya up in his arms n stood up.
Arjun: Her gun..
Shree: Got it!! Letz go!!
They raced out of the factory, Arjun's mind having a million emotionz..What had he got her into???? They reached the cars, n sped out of the compound. Just as they reached the main road, the factory blew, with a gigantic explosion n deafening roar..
Arjun was in the back with Shree, supporting Riya on his shoulder, trying to wake her up. Chottu n Rathore were turned back anxiously.
Rathore: If she fainted just from the blood loss, she should be up presently. Shree, splash some water on her face
He made to get the water bottle from the back, when Arjun stopped him. He had just noticed Riya's other sleeve rolled up..n the prick on her arm. He looked at it closely, stunned.
Arjun: A needle prick...I think...she's been drugged!!!!
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