R.I.P. (Westland, 2012)

Unwittingly he checked his watch. Twenty past midnight. It was almost as though his watch was on speed. Wasn’t that always the case when on a mission?

Within the next twenty-three hours and forty minutes one of his targets would be dead. Possibly less. The RIP message had said within twenty-four hours… hadn’t it?

Raghav re-opened the mail and read the RIP threat again.

RIP! Nice name. Raghav’s lips twisted into a bemused smile. Very appropriate… considering they were trying to make a lot of people rest in peace. The ones whom they’d killed at least. The ones still alive, but in their gun sights, were certainly not getting any peace. He was unable to stop the laugh. Whoever had thought it up, definitely had a sense of humour. Wacky? So army! Yeah, the acronym was very army… like the damn code words and nicknames they used to select. Unwittingly memory swept him back… back to the day he’d joined his unit.

‘Come on Raghav. Hurry up.’ The senior subaltern was yelling at him as he rushed to knot the tie. ‘We’re late. If Virgin reaches the mess before us, we’re screwed.’

‘Virgin? Who’s that, sir?’ Raghav asked as he ran out, pulling up his tie and settling his coat. Together they began to half jog towards the mess where his dining in dinner was about to commence.

‘Virgin? The Old Man of course.’

Raghav knew that old man referred to their commanding officer.

‘Why do we call him that sir?’

‘You’ll find out soon enough.’ The senior subaltern replied grimly. ‘He’s such a perfect cunt.’

This time Raghav’s peal of laughter surprised his driver. It also returned Raghav back to the grim reality of the fast fading night. His smile died away as a renewed sense of urgency assailed him. He knew the ops clock was ticking real fast. There was much to be done.

A dozen men. Let’s start with that and hope for the best.

Satisfied with the decision he pulled out his mobile and began to call a series of numbers. By the time the car pulled up outside the Satbari farmhouse he was done. Including the three Ratnakar had recruited Raghav now had eleven men on tap; eight converging to Delhi and three reporting to Ratnakar in Pune.

An even dozen, including him. Satisfied he finally put away the phone as the car turned off the road and hit the dirt track leading off to the farm.

Now to set up the command post and start planning the deployment. They had some targets to secure. And some more to hunt down.