“I am counting on my most loyal comrade in the war against KAFIRS. Keep your guard up, I will see you soon. You will be my right hand in this battle. May God Shower his mercy on you.”

Ajaz took a deep breath and pulled out his secret number cell phone and texted the details.

“Anything more he disclosed? Like when he is coming and what he is planning.” A very next moment, a message flashed on Ajaz’s screen.

“He won’t and that is for sure. I am destroying this cell and will inform you the other details the moment I will get it in a traditional way.” Ajaz looked at his bunch of pigeons that he had always used to pass the message when needed.

“We will wait for a message from you.” That was the last message Ajaz read on his phone before he dumped it into the bonfire that was lit outside his house.

The last minute preparations were being made at the base camp with Colonel and Major burning the midnight oil, planning to take out Hamza once he was spotted. And above all this, they were waiting for a message from Ajaz.

Ajaz kept his calm no matter the butterflies of anxieties working overtime in his stomach and waited for the next orders from Hamza. Well, his wait didn’t last for more than 48 hours. Ajaz had just finished with the dinner and was about to set up his prayer mat when there was a knock on his door. Ajaz smiled, Hamza was standing at the door.

“May God’s Peace be upon you my brother,” said Hamza “May His Peace befall on you too and May God bless you with his immense strength in the war against KAFIRS.” Ajaz greeted Hamza by bowing and kissing Hamza’s hand. Ajaz let him in with his guards and they sat on the floor. Black tea was served to all and Ajaz sat next to Hamza. Without wasting any time, Hamza spoke.

“Time has come to deliver the justice of our Great Lord to these KAFIRS who have offended our holy religion and brutally slaughtered innocent people of our religion. And I, on behalf of our leader Suleman UL Laden, am here to do the needful.” Hamza inhaled deeply the aroma of tea and took the first sip.

“I am at the service of Allah and his disciples in this holy cause.” Ajaz bowed a bit and smiled at Hamza.

“I will set a command centre in this very place of yours Ajaz and we will bring those KAFIRS to their knees.” Hamza kept his gaze fixed on Ajaz.

“I’ll be honoured to be a part of it. May our Great Lord wipe away all my sins with this noble act for our religion.” Ajaz spoke and sipped some tea. Hamza said his prayers along with Ajaz and then sat to discuss the plan.

“It’s gonna be bigger than 26/11 and in multiple locations.” As Hamza spoke, Ajaz held back his breath with the fear of brutality and chaos that would be showered by Hamza.

“This time we will set up our operation command room here. And I won’t be relying on media for the coverage, our tech geeks will do all the needful.” Saying so, Hamza patted the back of a young boy barely in his twenties sitting next to him.

“What’s the order for me?” Ajaz asked displaying his pseudo enthusiasm.

“I want you to send the message to our comrades for the meeting, here, after two days.” Hamza spoke as one of the assistants filled the cups with freshly brewed tea. Taking a sip of it, Hamza continued.

“All our comrades have reached here. They are close by but have maintained a low profile and have been training themselves for the biggest mission of their lives.” Hamza smiled looking at the surprised face of Ajaz.

The tech guy passed a list of locations where the fedayeen were and Ajaz carefully went through it. No two fedayeen were at the same place or nearby. They were scattered like landmines at the border.

“With the first light of morning, my messengers will be on their way.” Ajaz picked on the pigeon who was trying to get into his lap.

“May our great almighty bless them with good life in service of our people” Ajaz caressed the tiny head of pigeon who closed its eyes with every pat from its master.

After the discussion, Hamza walked out and Ajaz followed him to the pitch black night. The guards of Hamza were busy setting up booby traps and setting the perimeter to prevent anyone from reaching the house before tipping them off. Ajaz’s heart pounded hard against his ribs but he showed no sign of it.

“I don’t want anything to go wrong till I make those KAFIRS bleed and bring them to their knees.” Hamza smiled at his cunning thoughts. Meanwhile, the tech guy got busy setting up the command room inside with laptops, sat phone, and other gadgets.

“What about second perimeter?” Ajaz asked not sure if that would make Hamza sceptical about choosing Ajaz.

“You have a canopy of trees around.” Hamza winked at Ajaz who was all ears.

“My men are there, we cannot see them but hell they can see you through their long range rifles.” Hamza’s menacing laughter rattled the silence of the night.

“Long range snipers…” Ajaz spoke to himself in his head.

Next day morning, Ajaz sent the message to all the fedayeen about the final meeting with Hamza. The message was written in small scrolls which were tied to the neck of his pigeons.

Hamza saw all pigeons with a scroll in their necks flying to different locations, what he could not notice was that in place of 20, there were 21 pigeons. The last one was directed to the Major’s outpost.

As the pigeon reached the tent, Major’s eyes didn’t miss the scroll in the neck of the bird. He slowly got hold of the pigeon and untied the scroll. The message from Ajaz had finally arrived.

Colonel and Major immediately went to meet the General and reported about the information that had been gathered.

“Sir, Hamza is already here and he has planned a final meeting with his handpicked fedayeen at Ajaz’s place after two days.” The tension in the room was mounting as Hamza was a step ahead of them.

General immediately set up the meeting of the core team with the P.M. and briefed them. There was a green signal from P.M. to take down Hamza along with other mercenaries.

“This is our last chance Colonel and we have to take Hamza down at any cost.” General in his cabin began to discuss the further plan with Colonel and Major.

The task force was ready and the black moonless sky announced the nightfall when all the fedayeen with Hamza and Ajaz were present inside the house. As the task force approached the target in dark, Major’s sharp sense gave him a jolt about the motion detectors and a landmine, few inches ahead. He immediately singled the soldiers to stop.

With the keen observation under his Night Vision goggles, Major discovered several booby traps that could not be bypassed. The snipers too were all vigilant right then. One wrong move and mission would be a total disaster. With a heavy sigh, Major clicked his earpiece to update the situation to Colonel who was at command base, monitoring the operation.

“Alpha to Charlie… Alpha to Charlie… Come in…”

“This is Charlie… Status update Alpha.” Colonel’s voice cracked into the Major’s earpiece.

“Sir, there are booby traps that cannot be bypassed without alarming the target. The snipers on canopy too are vigilant.” Major responded with a rush of adrenaline.

“We can’t let this chance go, Major. We have to take down the target.” Colonel banged his fist on the table displaying his utter frustration.

“But sir, we can’t take the target down without alerting them and then there will be an ambush.” Major had already calculated all the risk.

“We will go for PLAN B.” Colonel spoke in a stern voice.

“But sir… Air Strike… “ Major paused before he could speak what was on his mind.

“Sir, Ajaz is with them… Air Strike will wipe him off too.”

“I understand Major, but Hamza has to die tonight.” Colonel was firm about his decision on Air Strike.

“And Ajaz…” Major let his words dangling in the air.

“Collateral Damage, Major. Head back to base. Air strike is approved. Over and out.” Colonel disconnected his sat com.

As Major fell back, the whole unit saw the fighter planes struck Ajaz’s house and turning down everything to ashes around it.

Written by: Hemang
Sketch: Paranj Sankdecha

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