CountDown : Start of Journey

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Chapter 2 – Warning

June 1, 2021

Cyber cell department

Goyal asked, “So, does anyone have any thoughts regarding this man?”

Jatin replied, “Sir, I don’t know why, but it feels like something is wrong with him.”

Raj added, “Sir, maybe Jatin is right, or maybe the man. I am very confused about this.”

“In my service of 28 years, I have never seen such a case, and I am, for the first time, very confused as well as amused in my life. He knows everything about us, and…, and we don’t know anything about him.”

“I am also amused by him. But I am sure we will catch him soon,” said Samprit.

“Samprit, I know you are very dedicated to your service, but sometimes we need to see other minor details instead of thinking of only catching the culprit.”

Samprit in a low voice replied, “Yes, sir!”

Jatin called the man at 11am.

The man said, “Greetings to everyone once again.”

Goyal replied, “Greetings to you too.”

“Oh! Goyal sir…”

“How did you recognize me?” Goyal gasped.

“Sir, I know everything about you, your family, this team, and their families.”

“I understand that you know us all, but this is not a video call, it’s a voice call.”

“Sir, I am well aware of that. I know your voice too.”

“Hmm! Before you start, I want to ask you why we should believe you. Maybe you are tricking us.”

“I know everything about the case. I know everything about you and your team, and I am sharing my plan. What else do you need to believe me?”

“Maybe someone is giving you an order, and you are just an intermediary for their message to us.”

“Well, I am not, and even if I am, you are getting your information, and I see no harm in that for you.”


“So, Can I start?”

“Yes, please.”

“So, the story began in December 2019. My team and I created a self-operating solar-powered drone. We tested this drone for one month. After the successful trial, we delivered the research paper to those two researchers who are now present in your interrogation cell. They both are dumb as fuck. It took one month for them to just understand and analyze those papers. For a moment we reconsidered our decision. Anyway, we started our mission. We entered 11 flyovers. Yeah, in the research paper it is mentioned as 5. But we can enter up to 17 flyovers. We thought that 11 would be more than enough. And we launched three drones on March 26, 2020. We tracked them until the very last moment.”

And finally, on April 13, 2021, all three blasts occurred as per our plan. We were successful in our first mission. Yes, we intended to make this blast look like a failure. The media doesn’t cover such news for long, but we anonymously paid them to do so and show that RAW has failed to catch some pathetic terrorists. And sir, you know well that if the amount is good, the Indian media will show anything. This attack was to just get your attention. Real game begins now, for every upcoming attack, I will give you hints. Let’s see if you

are able to catch me.”

Samprit said, “Wait for a minute, I have something to ask. I want to know how did you get my email ID? Is someone from our side helping you and your team?”

“No, sir, don’t worry, no one has betrayed you from your side. And about the email ID, I am personally overwhelmed by your work. I myself want to see your potential. Therefore, I founded your mail and here we are.”

“You will regret your decision about this. And I am sure for that.”

“We will see about that later. Should I go on with my warning?”

“Go on,” Goyal said.

“Alright. On August 1, 2021, a cruise will depart from Saudi Arabia and will reach India on August 7. Many millionaires will be travelling on this cruise. Our targets will be seven from those millionaires. We won’t harm anyone else. And the strategy would be very simple: we will create a human chain, and then we will break the chain from anywhere, which will create a full stop for you to reach us. Simple. Maybe it looks very simple, but the execution of such plans is very complicated, and it takes a lot of time, money, and patience. Which we have, but you don’t. So, all the best. And begin the countdown to August 1, 2021. Ppp… pp..ppp.. Wait, one more thing—all those seven millionaires will die when the cruise will be within Indian borders. Therefore, you and your team will have six days on the cruise to check the cruise and find my members or the way in which I intend to kill those millionaires. Do you have any other questions, “Sir”?”

“I have many questions for you, but I won’t ask them now. Let’s make this face-to-face. I will catch you this time and show you what RAW agents are capable of.”

“I like your confidence, sir. And just to add, we don’t have any terrorist affiliations. We are on our own,” the man said, and hang up.

Samprit, bristling, said, “Listen…you…”

“Sir, he disconnected the call,” said Jatin.

“Redial the number.”

Jatin redials, but the number is unreachable.

Samprit asked, “Jatin, do we have a call recording of this?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Mail it to me. I will try to find some clue if possible.”

“Ok, sir.”

Goyal said, “I don’t know what to say, but we have two months to go.”

“Yes, sir,” said everyone with a very low voice.

“I am leaving for now, but I want everyone to think about this and come up with a solution.”

Everyone again replied, “Yes, sir.”

Jatin asked, Samprit, while they were on their way to their cars, “Sir, do you believe what that man told us?”

Samprit replied, “Jatin, why should we not believe him? I mean, he knows everything regarding the case, even those things which only our team members know.”

Anand added, “Yes, Samprit, what you say makes sense.”

Jatin said, “I don’t know why, but I feel like something is wrong with this man.”

Samprit replied, “You said that earlier, but not something it seems like everything is wrong with him, but we need to take this warning seriously.”

Raj says, “I second that.”


June 2, 2021

RAW Headquarters

“So now that everyone is present here, let me show you the team I have created to solve this mission. I don’t know how, but I want this mission to be solved as soon as possible. I would request everyone to introduce themselves,” said Goyal.

Samprit, Raj, Jatin, and Anand introduce themselves.

A man standing beside Raj told, “I am Rahim Shaikh, and I have been working as a para Commander since 2017.”

Rahim was 30 years old, short and muscular, with bronze skin, a sharp-featured face, and brownish hair. His eyes were sharp and black, with thick and dark eyebrows. His family use to stay in Bhopal and, he had a son, aged 5.

A man next to him, “I am Pawan and I have been working as an officer in MARCOS since 2015.”

Pawan was 29 years old, of average height, an unremarkable physique, fair skin, and short, curly black hair. His eyes were coffee brown and had short eyebrows, and a beard. He had a daughter aged 2, and his wife was pregnant. Delivery was expected in October 2021.

Goyal, “Thank you, gentlemen. So, this is the team of six members I have formed to catch those culprits. I want to tell everyone that all we know about them is that their team has one man and they are going to kill seven millionaires on the cruise on August 6, 2021. And as proof, we only have one warning recording, and nothing else. I have arranged something for you all. So, I would request you all to call your family and tell them that for two months you are underground can neither meet them nor talk with them in this period. After doing the same, switch off your phone, put them on the desk, and follow me.”

Everyone was shocked on hearing this but followed orders as servants of the nation. They all talked with their families and make them understand the situation, a process which took around 30 minutes to complete. Later, they switch off their phones, handed them to Goyal, and followed him. He asked all of them to get settled in a minibus, tied a black ribbon on everyone’s eye, drove them to someplace, and then opened the ribbon.

Samprit asked, “Umm! Sir, where are we?”

“Samprit, please wait and follow me.”

They all entered a large hall filled with modern equipment. Goyal asked everyone to settle down and then started to show them a Powerpoint presentation on a large white screen set against the wall.

“Gentlemen, this is the cruise in which the attack will occur. It will depart on August 1, 2021, from Dubai and will take around six days to enter Indian waters and seven days to reach India. We don’t know anything about the staff on the cruise. There will be around 300 passengers on the cruise, and 13 of them are the richest. And as per experience, the 7 targets will be among those 13. And as per the warning, they will kill those millionaires when the cruise will be within Indian waters. We need to catch them or stop them from doing the same. You all are here for the same. Your task in these 60 days is to collect all the information about all those millionaires and the cruise staff. Keep an eye on them and create a suspect list. I will arrange a fake passport and visa for you all to go to Dubai on July 25 as well as arrange tickets for that cruise so that you all can board as members. Remember, no one should ever know that we were aware of all this. In the official record, you all were on leave and were out of the country for a private vacation. Any doubts?”

“Sir, why do we need to hide all this? Also, how do we know that at this particular moment that the man is not knowing what we are doing?” asked Raj.

Goyal replied, “So that we can play safe if, by any chance, we are unable to catch them. I don’t know whether he is tracking us or not, but we can trust this place because no one except me knows this place and anything installed here doesn’t have any tracking permission. There is very little chance, or rather no chance, for him to track you, unless and until you use your phone, which is why I asked you all to leave your phone in my office.”

Jatin, “Sir, how will we communicate with you?”

“You can’t. After every three days, I will come here to get an update on the case. There is no other way for us to communicate.”

“Ok, sir.”

“All the best, team. Anything you need is present here. Now get going.”

Goyal left after providing them all the information they needed. Everyone started to work accordingly. As Pawan was a MARCOS officer, he tracks down the route of the cruise and details such as engine manufacturing, load-bearing of the cruise, safety measures of the cruise, and other technical details. Jatin tried to find details on the staff and the 13 millionaires. Samprit, Raj, Anand, and Rahim started to track those people, whose details were provided by Jatin, and Rahim also tried to figure out the plan. After every three days, when Goyal visited them, they updated him on their research and plans. They tried very hard to get through this and got their first suspect on June 29—a chef named Afridi. He was the suspect due to his communication with someone from Australia. The chef, ordered “Rosary Pea” from Australia, a toxic bean which, if consumed, can kill a human within 36 hours.

They get their second suspect on July 3–one of the millionaires named Musharraf was in regular contact with someone in Bangalore. He is on the suspect list because the location of the number he contacts gets bounced after every few seconds—within Bangalore. After little work, it was found that he was in contact with a human trafficking dealer.

No other suspect was detected, which was strange. The man said that they would create a chain, but only two from more than 300 were the only suspects.

And then the time came, July 25, 2021, when they need to depart for Dubai.


July 25, 2021

Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi

It was an Emirates flight, set to depart at 11 am and land at 14:30 hours. Goyal arranged everything for them, from airport security check to accommodation in Dubai. The team checked in their flight and waited to reach Dubai. Since they didn’t want to disclose their mission, they planned to just provide safety to 12 of the millionaires, excluding Musharraf.


July 25, 2021

Dubai International Airport

They reached Dubai safely, and one of Goyal’s men was at the airport to receive them and drop them off at the selected hotel. After reaching the hotel, they all settled in their room. A letter was delivered to Samprit saying that a minibus with a driver is waiting for the team in the parking lot and they should be there as soon as possible. They all act as per the instructions, and once they were on the bus, the driver blindfolded them before driving away. After reaching there, he removed the blindfolds and asked them to get down from the bus. It was an open area, with a table with a laptop on it, and nothing else—it was quiet and deserted except for the team. The driver asked them to gather near the laptop and receive the call while he wait inside the bus. The call was from Goyal.

“Team, you all are finally there, and you all know why. I have arranged everything for you. I arranged all this due to tracking issues. Do whatever you want; just don’t let them kill the millionaires and give your best to catch those culprits. All the best for the mission.”

Samprit said, “Thank you, sir. We will do our best.”

They all went back to the hotel and planned to meet at around 9 pm to discuss the further plan.


July 25, 2021

Samprit’s room

9 pm

Pawan said, “Samprit, we need to think of a way to warn every millionaire about this so that they can be careful in the journey.”

Raj added, “We also need to keep an eye on Afridi and Musharraf. They would possibly create a problem for us.”

Samprit replied, “Yes, we all know that, and to plan accordingly, we all are gathered here. Anyone having any ideas can discuss.”

Rahim said, “I don’t know whether the plan is appropriate or not, but what I have thought is that we can divide into teams of two and assign specific targets to each team. We will ask Goyal sir to arrange three bikes for us. Each team will keep eye on the target and will discuss everything later at night with other team members. After discussion, all will give their suggestions on what can be done next.”

Jatin said, “We can go with this.”

Samprit noted, “Hmmm. It is simple but efficient.”

“But how we will keep an eye on all those millionaires? They would be in their offices or mansions with high security!”

Rahim replied, “And that’s the reason we are on this mission.”

“Yes, but…”

Samprit said, “We will figure it out. First, let me ask sir to arrange for the bikes.”

Jatin, “Sir, I will arrange the bikes by tomorrow morning. Let’s discuss the targets each team needs to focus on.”

Anand asked, “Are you sure about this?”

Jatin replied, “Yes.”

Samprit said, “Ok, then. There are 14 targets, and we are three teams of two. Therefore, one team will get four targets, and the other two will get five targets. Before assigning targets, let’s divide. Raj and I, Anand and Rahim, and Pawan and Jatin are the teams. Three of the millionaires and Musharraf would be our targets. Similarly, 4 millionaires and Afridi would be targets of Anand and Rahim, and lastly, 5 millionaires would be targets of Pawan and Jatin. We will try our best to get all possible information.”

Jatin hacked into a nearby shop that provided bikes for rent and booked three bikes for free with false details.


July 26, 2020

In the hotel

They got a message from the hotel staff that their bikes were in the parking lot and they can receive the keys to the bikes from the reception. Jatin explained to everyone how he booked the bike, and that will be safe for them.

Everyone left the hotel at around 9 am after having breakfast, working as per the plan. They try their best to get information, but to no avail. They all reached the hotel by 10 pm. After discussion, they concluded that only this plan won’t work. Nothing was odd with Musharraf and Afridi, even when only seven days were left for the attack. They need to do something different along with the ongoing plan.

Rahim suggested that Jatin should send mails to 12 millionaires about this attack anonymously, and the rest agreed. It was decided that they will send the mail without mentioning anything except the attack, consisting only of the warning of the attack, and advice to have an antidote for rosary peas. They send the mail at midnight.


July 27, 2020

They all again started to keep track of all. When Samprit and Raj reached the office of Musharraf, Samprit saw a girl outside the office who looked familiar. The girl entered the office. To follow her, Samprit also tried to enter the office, but the security stopped him and asked if he has an appointment. Samprit refused and left. He and Raj waited outside the office for the whole day, but the girl didn’t show up. They finally went back to the hotel at around 11 pm, and when everyone asked them the reason for the delay, Raj explained everything to them, to which Pawan replied that the girl can be the lead for the case. Samprit need to remember who she was. But Samprit, despite his best efforts to wrack his brains, cannot remember who she was.

Days passed, without any new information for the team. The date for the voyage arrived, and the team realized now they needs to focus on saving those seven millionaires. Everything else was secondary now.


August 1, 2020

On the Cruise

The decks on which the 13 millionaires were staying were the 2nd and 3rd, while the deck the RAW team gets allocated was the 7th. However, with Jatin’s hacking skills, they allocated themselves rooms on the 3rd deck, to keep a watch on their subjects.

While everyone’s focus was on the attack, Samprit was still trying to remember the girl he saw at Musharraf’s office.

During this Anand saw Radhika. He was not sure whether he was right or not, so he called Raj and asked him to verify because he was having trouble believing she was Radhika. Raj said he cannot be absolutely sure, but she does seem like Radhika. They called Samprit to verify, because now only he can confirm this. He instantly rushed to his room, after glancing at her. Raj and Anand followed him.

Samprit first met Radhika during a training session at RAW. They later became teammates in RAW. She was voluptuous, with a heart-shaped face, long brownish hair, and sparkling, mocha eyes with dark black eyebrows. She was very joyful. Samprit and Radhika had started to feel something special for each other when they completed their training session. They were in a relationship for two years, but in 2018, Radhika disappeared, without any notice at the office, letter to Samprit, or anything else. She just vanished into thin air. Samprit was very broken from the inside. But he tried to find her, investigating her disappearance for more than six months. But he found nothing. Even the family of Radhika was not there. It took a year for him to move on. But after that, he just focused on his work. He was now more towards the country than to himself. He just wants to know why Radhika left like this.

Samprit asked them who saw her first and why did they ask him to verify. Can’t they tell whether she is Radhika or not?

Anand replied, “Yeah we can, but since you were more close to her we thought we must get sure about this.”

Samprit roared, “Why the hell she was with Musharraf?”

Raj replied, “Samprit cool down, maybe she looks like Radhika but is not. You should cross-verify her before thinking anything.”

“Maybe you are right. I have seen her after three long years, and I don’t know whether it’s her or not. But I don’t feel confident to talk to her, even though it was she who left.”

“You don’t have any other option.”

“No, we have another option. You can talk to her.”

“Ok! I will talk to her, but just to confirm whether she is Radhika or not.”

“Ok, this will work.”

They rushed there, but she was not there. They started to look for her. After around one hour, they saw her. Raj goes to her, and before he can say anything, she recognized him and pulled him aside, asking him what he was doing there. Even without asking her, he got sure that she was Radhika and tells her that he is not alone. He asked her to meet them at midnight at deck 9′s bar. Radhika knows he was talking about Samprit, but still, she agreed to meet.

Raj rushed to them and tells them everything.

“What? Why did you agree to a meeting? I don’t know what to say to her!” Samprit asked.

“I know what you should ask. Ask her why she left you, where she was all this time, and why is she with Musharraf.”


August 1, 2020


Bar at 9th deck

Radhika was waiting at the table when Samprit and Raj entered the bar. Samprit wanted to talk to her, but his mouth seems incapable of moving. So, he simply cleared his throat.

Radhika, sensed his presence, looked at him and said, “Umm... hi, Samprit.”

Samprit replied, in a voice, he thought is too shrill, “Hi!”

Samprit and Raj took a seat, and there was an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes.

Raj asked, “Radhika, why are you here?”

Radhika replied, “I can ask the same to you.”

“You know our profession.”

“I am with someone here; you don’t know him.”

Samprit said, “We know him very well. Tell us, why are you with him?”

Radhika replied, “Samprit, I know you have many questions for me and are very angry with me. I will answer your every question. But please don’t create a scene here.”

“I am not creating any scene. You created a scene 3 years ago. You left me and everything, and you didn’t think to even notify us.”

“Samprit, please let me explain.”

“Ok! Go ahead. I am all ears.”

“I was on my way home the day before I disappeared. My parents called me and asked me to reach the New Delhi Railway Station as soon as possible. I told the driver to drop me at the Railway Station. When I reached there, I saw that my parents were waiting for me with my luggage. They told me to switch off the phone and don’t ask any questions till tomorrow. They took me to platform 3, we waited till 11′o clock, and then we got on the Mumbai Central Duronto train. I tried to ask them what was happening, but they didn’t respond to anything. We reached Mumbai at 5′o clock. They took me to the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). I got a clue that it’s something related to Hardik.”

“Wait, who’s Hardik?”

“He was my brother.”

“But you never told me anything about him.”

“Do we share our profession with anyone?”

“I thought I was more than just ‘anyone’. Anyway, go on.”

“He was a Serious Fraud Investigation Officer, and very dedicated to his work. He was on a mission to catch Musharraf. Musharraf is a very smart man. He is involved with sleeper cells, human trafficking, movies and shows privacy, gold smuggling, and many more illegal businesses happening in India. My brother was able to collect every possible proof against him. But he identified him and killed him. Kashis Chandra, Hardik’s boss, contacted my parents to convince them that they convince me to continue this mission My parents were thinking emotionally, and I too got emotional and agreed to the mission. Kashis Chandra created a new identity for me. My name is Deepa now.”

“But you didn’t try to contact me once.”

“I wanted to contact you, but he strictly prohibited me from contacting anyone, as this mission was a secret. Musharraf has many contacts, and if he gets any idea about this, he will have me killed the day I land in Dubai. But Kashis promised that after completing the mission, he would allow me to contact you. I am very close to ending this case. I have every proof against Musharraf, and I am going to hand him over to Kashis once we reach India. As per my plan, after that, I would tell you everything, but it’s my luck that I got to meet you here.”

“Ok! Recently he was contacting someone in Bangalore. Do you know anything about that?”

“Yes, this year, in April, he trafficked 7 people from India through a dealer in Bangalore. Maybe he was contacting that dealer.”

“Where are those 7 people? Do you know anything about that dealer?”

“Among those seven, 5 were girls and 2 were boys. He kept 1 girl and sold the other 6 to other millionaires. I have details of those millionaires. I don’t know who was the dealer, but I am sure he will tell us about the dealer in the interrogation.”

“Give me the list of those 7 people and the 6 millionaire names to whom they were sold.”

“I will provide it to you, but the documents are not with me now. But why are you looking for this thing? What is the matter?”

“To cut a long story short, someone has warned us that he will kill 7 millionaires travelling on this cruise. Maybe the dealer was the one who warned us, and those 7 people will kill those 7 millionaires on the cruise.”

“I don’t think so. For one, those 7 people are not travelling on the cruise. For two, he killed the girl he had kept. For three, I don’t know whether the other 6 are alive or dead. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.”

“Let me find that out. But I will need the details.”

“Ok, I will give you the details tomorrow. But remember, we can’t meet like this anymore. Download a cruise line messaging app on your phone, and we will text each other on that. We need to be very focused. And I need to leave now. Samprit, it’s been good to see you.”

“It’s been good to see you too, Radhika,” Samprit said, as they shook hands, and then she walked away.

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