Skies over Agra
DM reacted to the news same way Angad had. He immediately barged in to the PMs cabin where Dr. Rudra was busy examining him. Both men looked at him with identical alarmed expressions. Dr. Rudra opened his mouth to protest but kept quiet on seeing how flustered DM looked. He in turn sprinted to PM's bedside and poured out the whole scenario without pausing for breath.
“That can't be true.” PM said with wide eyes even before DM was finished.
“Wake up sir. It is true.” Turning to the doctor with an irritated expression he asked, “Have you given him a narcotic or something ? “
“No. Nothing yet.” Doctor replied in a surprised way.
Turning to Pm with even more irritation he said, “He has not given you anything ! Then why are you behaving like you've been drugged ? Wake up and smell the coffee. The nuclear threat just got worse. We have to take action !” He almost shouted out the last sentence.
“What do you want me to do ?” PM stammered.
DM took a deep breath and started speaking, “ You are the chief decision maker for us. DyPM should've been here to take your place if you are sick but he is in Japan on a tour. That means either you give our military permission to take out those nukes right now or give somebody else the authority till you get back on your feet. As of now, I'm the senior most person who can make the best informed decision. So let me decide what to do.”
PM kept staring blankly at his DM for a few seconds and started speaking when DM opened his mouth to say something, “Alright Shivendra. You do what you think is right. “
2 November 2012
Captain Vikram Batra read the encrypted message again and took out a small laminated photograph of Lord Ram out of his pocket. Clutching the small photograph he closed his eyes and whispered a short prayer. Lord Ram had commanded his army across the sea to fight against an asur Ravan who had kidnapped Sita. Although Cap Batra will not be commanding any army across the sea, his work did have some passing semblance to what Lord Ram did. Like the ancient King, in a way he too will cross the sea and bring the righteous wrath upon the enemies. The thought made him smile and feel stupid at once. “This is no time to harbour any illusions of grandeur old man.” He said to himself and looked around the bridge of the ship he was entrusted to command. In a way, he could afford to feel grand. After all, he was only the first officer to command Arihant, India's first nuclear submarine. His chest again slightly puffed with pride on remembering that he was also going to be the first officer to lead India's first nuclear submarine in to combat.
“Back to work, back to work.” He commanded himself as he put the small photograph back in his shirt pocket.
Around him, the crew members were engaged in their work with full attention. Taking in a deep breath, he picked up the intercom and started a short address to his crew men, “Hello everybody, This is your Captain speaking. As you all know, our country has been attacked by nuclear weapons. Even as I speak, our enemies are preparing for more attacks on our country and our loved ones. Right now, it's not about anything like money or religion or politics, it's about our survival as a nation with a glorious history and a prosperous future. For this purpose, we've been ordered to destroy certain enemy targets. From this moment onwards, we are officially at war. I expect each one of you to remember your training and behave accordingly. That's about everything I have to say for now. Man all battle stations.”
He cut the intercom and ordered, “Make depth 100m.”
“Depth 100m, aye.” Navigation officer responded smartly.
“Helm turn One-zero-zero.”
“Turn One-zero-zero , aye.”
“Make speed 18 knots.”
“Speed 18 knots, aye.”
INS Arihant turned slowly and started it's journey towards Pakistani coast. It was only a matter of hours before it reached close enough to make it's name come true literally.