The Extraordinarii Chronicles.
The world is in turmoil. Every second it edges closer towards nuclear war. Fear and uncertainty have overtaken the general public. Hatred and vitriol flow through the blood of the masses. They are looking for revenge but they don’t know from who. They wish to see blood spill but cannot decide who shall bleed. The animosity between people of different castes, skin color and religion is so high that they are moving towards a world where there is no room for any diversity of any kind. The Party controls all; and everything is done only after approval from The Party. The Party decides what the people eat, what they celebrate, what they watch, what they read and who they worship. The Party has a special team of super soldiers who carry out the tasks for The Party. They eliminate those who pose a threat to the integrity and unity of the country. For The Party, the country comes above all. Nothing is bigger than the country and nothing comes before it. If anyone poses a threat to the integrity of the nation then they will be tried and prosecuted by a court of law. This is how The Party runs the country and this is how the people remain prosperous and happy.
BHABHA ATOMIC RESEARCH CENTRE
The big day was coming for the scientists at the BARC. The project they had been working on for over a decade had finally come to fruition. Billions of dollars had been spent to complete this project, a project which promised to resolve the issue of energy and provide sustainable energy to the poorest of the poor for generations. The lead scientist on the project, Dr. Rajeev had spent most part of his career dedicated to this project. It was his child and it was something that he had gotten through all the skepticism and lack of funding. He had almost forced the hand of the government to ensure that the project continued to be funded despite a lack of repeatable results. Today, finally, the day had come when he could say he was right.
His team had managed to use the harness the energy of an atom and the result was that now they could promise the world a chance at sustainable and clean energy. Rajeev looked in the mirror as he was preparing himself to appear in front of the media and reveal the results they had achieved to the world. He looked at his watch. The one his father had given him when he was a child. His father had said, “I may be giving this to you now but believe me son, in order to wear this watch, you will have to earn it.” Rajeev believed that he had finally earned this watch and that he could finally take it out of the cupboard in which it had been gathering dust for over 3 decades. He wore the watch and checked himself in the mirror of his suite one last time before leaving for the press conference. Rajeev looked older than he was, maybe owing to the incredible stress he has had to deal with. He had wrinkles all over his face, a receding hairline and the early signs of a pot belly. They made him feel like he was a slave to time and that the inevitable ageing was happening to him as well. He thought it may be different for him. He may not have to go through the same process that everyone else does. Maybe he will be a special case who doesn’t age at all. Maybe he will die young and never see himself age. He wanted these things to happen but as was apparent, he was no different than any other man. His wife knocked on the door and told him to hurry up. She was also a doctor like him and they had met at the same facility where they worked. Rajeev had never seen himself as a man who needed companionship but when he met his wife, he realized all the things that were missing in his life and how important she was to make him a complete man. He got a call from the Headquarters that he and his wife were needed in the facility one last time before the presentation to ensure that there were no errors in the functioning which may lead to an embarrassing situation for the whole organization.
They reached the facility. They went through all the machines and double checked that they were working. They checked the nuclear room where all the magic was going to happen. This was an important and dangerous room. It needed to be secure at all times and only authorized personnel were allowed inside. The door was time locked and after a countdown would not open no matter who tried. As they went through all the machines in the nuclear room they set the time locker to lock itself after 20 seconds. They walked out of the room and were satisfied with the functioning.
“Well looks like we are going to change the world today.” Rajeev’s wife said.
“It was going to happen someday, how long till the press conference?” Rajeev asked and looked toward his wrist to check the time.
There was nothing in his hand. The watch must have loosened and fallen off in the nuclear room. He told his wife he was going back to get it and would just take a few seconds.
He walked in the nuclear room and started looking around. He couldn’t find it at first and he started looking in the narrow crevices between the shelves to find it. He found the watch lying in one corner of the floor beneath the shelf. He picked it up and whispered, “I cannot afford to lose you right now, not when I have just made you mine.” He turned around to leave and as he turned his face went pale.
The door had shut him in.
He took too long to find the watch and now he was shut in. He ran towards the door and shouted for help. No one was coming. The room was sound proof. There was only a narrow glass window for outsiders to look into the room so they could understand how the machine works. Rajeev was screaming at the top of his lungs at the window but to no avail.
Suddenly his wife came to the door. She was horrified at what she was seeing. The love of her life was locked across a door and there was nothing she could do about it. She cried and shouted for help but no one could have done anything. Only a miracle could save him now. He looked into the horrified and petrified eyes of his wife. Both of them were scared and they were helpless. The machine turned on, the electricity started doing its work and slowly with his wife as the witness, Rajeev turned from being a scared middle aged man fighting for survival to a mere vapor of gas. Rajeev had been vaporized with no traces of his body left. It was as if every atom in his body had been ripped apart.
THE NEXT DAY.
The project had been shut down. Everyone was still reeling from what they had just heard. The father of the project had been killed by his own child. Not just killed, he had been wiped out of existence by it. Everyone was shell shocked. Suddenly the lights started flickering. Everyone was mourning and didn’t pay much heed to this; the lights flickered and for a moment went out. Right then, in the cafeteria, a small point of light emerged. It was a single point source of light. No one understood what this was, they were perplexed by it. Slowly, the light point started growing in size, it was pure white and seemed to be taking a human form. Slowly, the limbs and the head appeared. The eyes, nose, mouth and head were next. People could see a huge source of pure white light taking its shape and now they could see the fingers as well.
It was a man.
It was Dr. Rajeev.
It was the energy of Dr. Rajeev, pure energy in the shape of a human.
“What happened to me? What is this? Where is she?” muttered the energy. It was looking at its own limbs in disbelief. The humanoid energy disappeared just as suddenly as it had appeared. The lights came back on and no one in the entire facility could understand what they had just seen.
THE THAR DESERT.
THE SAME DAY.
The white light appeared in a pulse form in the middle of nowhere. It was still looking around like a newborn elephant looking at its body for the first time. Slowly, he calmed down. It was Dr. Rajeev, or at least his consciousness, in an energy form which had taken a human shape. He could speak. He could see. He could hear. More importantly as he later learned, he could manipulate every element’s atomic structure. He could turn glass into air, sand into water and he could disintegrate a tank into a lump of steel with just a thought. The accident had turned him into a God. He could do with abiotic things, whatever he wished.
The government was panicking. The people were scared. They had just heard news about the accident at BARC which had taken the life of 1 scientist. The people and govt. were expecting an announcement to change the global image of the country, instead they were given something to mourn about and hide their face. There were unconfirmed reports that the ghost of the dead scientist had appeared in the cafeteria the next day but no one had any proof and the reports sounded anecdotal at best.
There was an eerie silence throughout the next week. No one spoke a word about the accident, neither the press, nor the government. No one wanted to talk about it. This incident ended up being a hush-hush topic for the countrymen. There was no official report from the government, no investigation team was set up and no one dared to talk about this. Within a week’s time, the project had been wiped out of existence and no traces of it were left in any books. It was as if this project and this accident had never occurred.
TWO WEEKS LATER
India’s Defense Minister had been called on for an emergency meeting, it was supposed to be a covert meeting and only a limited number of people knew that this meeting ever took place. The Army had taken in a suspect a few weeks ago from the Thar Desert. The only problem was that no one could handcuff this man. He seemed to be made purely of energy and yet he still had a human definition. He had a white body, he radiated light, pure white light. He didn’t seem like a threat and had co-operated with the soldiers when asked to come in. He had been locked in a cell but it wasn’t clear whether anything was good enough to contain him. The soldiers reported that they had seen this man use his hand to turn sand from the desert into water and give it to a thirsty soldier. No one had seen anything like this before and the course of action was to be decided at this meeting.
The minister had no idea what to do. Along with the Army General he decided to enter the room where the man was kept. “We hear you can do some extraordinary things.” Said the minister.
“Let us not stand on ceremony here sir. You are afraid of me because you don’t know what I am. The truth is I don’t know either. The last memory I have is being inside the nuclear room. I have always been a servant to the country and if there is any way I can help the country in the state I am. I would be ready to do it.” Rajeev replied.
The minister and general were dumbstruck. They didn’t know what to say next. This was unprecedented power in front of them and they were being asked to decide what to do with it. The general had an idea, “Sir, we could use him as a weapon. If the world knew that we had a weapon like him with us, no one in the world would dare cross us. We could emerge as the world leaders if we use him.” He said to the minister. The minister agreed and said to Rajeev, “We need you to pledge your allegiance to India and vow to defend her interests no matter what happens.”
“As you say, sir.” Rajeev replied
“We are going to name you as well, to make you truly Indian; we need to give you an identity with which the world would think of India every time they hear your name. Today onwards you are going to be known as Doctor Indus.”
“Whatever suits you sir” Rajeev, now rechristened, Doctor Indus replied.
As time passed, the world came to know about and fear Doctor Indus. He was a weapon used in wars, to hold countries to ransom, to ensure India became the sole leader of the free world. Rajeev was conflicted as to whether what he was doing was right or not. He was serving his nation, making it prosperous and advanced but he seemed to have a problem with killing people he didn’t know, enforcing policies he didn’t agree with and making people live in fear because of his mere existence. He did everything he did to achieve global peace. Peace was above everything for him. With time, he came to know about the existence of some special force units within the Indian Army which carried out low end covert operations outside the county’s borders. He used to work with these men quite often and had come to know them fairly well. It was a small 4 man unit. It included other enhanced soldiers aka supersoldiers who would carry out any and all operations they were tasked to do. The men had been pumped with chemicals that enhanced their strength and gave them strength to do more work, punch more enemies and fight for longer than any other average soldier. The team included Furcifer, Aryan, Aletheia and Haefer.
Furcifer was a soldier who had no morals of any kind, he liked to shoot first and ask questions later. He had raped and killed many women during battle and on the off chance he impregnated someone, he would simply kill her. He rode on the belief that he was above every other soldier and that the fact that he was serving his country, gave him the right to do anything and whatever he wished. If Furcifer was not a soldier, he would have been incarcerated or may be even hung a long time back.
Aryan was a person who people would call the ideal man. He had a strict moral code and was an idealist. He always wanted to serve people and enforced the law wherever he could. He saw the best in people, believed every man is a good man and that everyone is worth saving. He was diametrically opposite to Furcifer ideologically. In an ideal world he is what you would call “a hero”.
Aletheia was the mysterious guy. His past seemed sketchy and mysterious. He might have spent some time in prison. No one was sure. One thing everyone knew about him was that he was stubborn and a crusader for truth. He cared about nothing more than the truth, the whole truth. He never showed his face to anyone, seemed broody and never surrendered to any situation no matter how much the odds were stacked against him. He never stopped, never surrendered. He truly was fearless.
Haefer was a scientist like Rajeev, he was a man of science who had found himself on a battlefield. He developed a serum that enhanced the strength of a human but he trusted people so little that he decided to administer the dose to himself and didn’t give the recipe for the medicine to anyone. He hardly ever trusted anyone and was the second most intelligent man in this team after Doctor Indus.
Together this team of 5 wreaked havoc and instilled fear in the hearts of India’s enemies. They took over the world by themselves, carrying out covert ops in the harshest of terrains and most difficult of circumstances. They were a Special Forces unit known as the “Extraordinarii”.
Meanwhile The Party, which had won the last general elections and come into power, were taking the credit for the works of the Extraordinarii. They had made the country and its people believe that it was thanks to The Party that India had reached the heights it had. People were being told to believe that it wasn’t the Extraordinarii who were fighting the wars, but the politicians. The leaders hid behind the Extraordinarii and whenever they did something good, the leaders would come out chest thumping and taking the credit for their actions. The Party had had some shortcomings, but they always covered it up with the actions of Doctor Indus and his team. The Party wanted to control every aspect of its citizens’ lives. They would compare everything to the sacrifices Doctor Indus’ team had made and use it to leverage the people into forced submission. There was growing unrest among the people. People were agitated but any and all protests were signed off as being funded by enemies or people who wish to divide India. Some people, who were against The Party had started directing their anger from the Party to the Extraordinarii. These people believed that if the Extraordianrii didn’t exist, neither would many of their problems. The Party wanted to end any freedom the people could have had and wished to install a totalitarian regime.
The members of Extraordinarii were aware of this too. Furcifer of course didn’t care about any of this. He saw these people as temporary distractions, irrelevant voices which were going to quiet down soon enough. He did whatever The Party asked him to do and he did it no questions asked. The Party erased his war crimes from history and Furcifer did their dirty work for them. That was the deal. Haefer and Rajeev were conflicted. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know where their moralities lied. They were supposed to be the leaders of the team, yet at the moment of crisis, they were found to be indecisive. They had started questioning what The Party asked them to do and what their intentions could be when they did it. Aryan was strongly against The Party and was considering leaving the team. No one knew whether he would be allowed to do so but the team was on the verge of disbanding. In between all of this, Aletheia was on his own conquest for the truth. He was going through the archives of the Ministry of Defense. He looked through all the missions they had gone over, the reports on them, the aftermath. Everything. They had never known what the consequences of their actions were. They only knew what they had to do and why they had to do it. This was the first time one of them was going to know the whole truth of their missions.
“They lied to us.” said Aletheia to himself as he went through the records.
He had sneaked into the offices and had made sure he went through the blind spots of the CCTVs. He heard a sound coming from the door. He hid away and looked at a young officer entering the room with a flashlight. “Anyone here?” exclaimed the soldier expecting a reply from the darkness. He searched further inside the room. Aletheia found himself in a cul-de-sac. There was only one way of escape and the officer was coming through that way. He knew his game was up, there was no way out, he would be arrested and tried by a special court and sentenced to death for treason. He didn’t wish to hit a soldier who fought for the same country. So he did what any person would do, he confronted the young, un-experienced soldier out of nowhere.
“Y…You….You’re one of them.” The young solider stammered. He was frozen like a statue and couldn’t take his eyes off of Aletheia’s face. The masked face. There were so many stories about what was hidden behind that face. Ugly scars, deformed face, who knew what it was. The soldier didn’t know what to do.
“Listen to me young man, you are on my side so I am not going to hit you. You have two options, you could report me to your superiors and get one of the country’s greatest servants to prison and possibly lead to my death sentence, or, you could simply forget this ever happened, walk out of here and give me a chance to change this country for the better. You and I have been lied to by these people and I need your help at the moment to fix all this. So tell me what do you choose?”
Aletheia’s monologue had left him speechless, he had one of his heroes standing in front of him, asking him to subvert his superiors for the greater good. He always wanted to be a good soldier, but at this moment he faced the question of what it meant to be a good soldier. Should he listen to his hero and ignore his duties of a soldier or do what a good soldier would be expected to do and leave the decision making to his superiors and report everything to them. Time was running out, some more soldiers were coming towards the archives. He had to make a decision and he had to make it now.
“Hey what’s going on in there?” shouted a soldier from the door. “What are you doing in here?” he asked the young soldier.
“Thought I heard a sound sir, must have been rats or something.” He replied. As he started leaving, he realized that Aletheia was nowhere to be seen now, he seemed to have escaped without saying a goodbye or thank you.
“Any of you seen Aletheia?” inquired Furcifer.
“No one knows where he is, maybe on another one of his crusades for the ‘truth’.” Said a new voice. A voice the members had heard many times before. A voice that always came from the shadows, carrying with it the new tasks for the team. It was a woman who had only been known as Faora to the Extraordinarii. She was the point of contact between The Party and the Extraordinarii. All the communication came through her. She was not a soldier; simply a bureaucrat, but she did carry a gun around with her. No one knew why.
“We have a new task for you. This is the first of its kind. Our enemies seem to have infiltrated the protests being carried out by the people in New Delhi and Mumbai. There are rogue elements within the protesters who will try and create a ruckus and may lead to a riot. There are about 50,000 protesters in the two cities each. We need you to take a stock of the situation and make sure that those anti-national elements don’t achieve their objective.” She explained.
“Wait a minute, you want us to work on our own soil? We don’t work on our own soil, only external operations. That is how it has been all this time.” Replied an agitated Aryan.
“Yes, we know it is new but we wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t necessary. These people will do things that would lead to loss of life and property worth millions of dollars. We need you to act, the country needs you. Moreover this time you will have a wider scope of error. There are 100,000 protestors, we will give you a scope for 1% casualty rate. Significantly higher than the previous missions.”
Aryan still didn’t agree but his disagreement wasn’t as loud as before. Furcifer didn’t need any explanation but knowing that now he could kill more people, he was more excited than before. Haefer wasn’t exactly enthusiastic but he understood the needs of the country were greater than personal opinions.
“So is that a yes?” she enquired.
“Hold your horses lassy.How about we have a little one to one first.” Said a rough voice from a shadow. It was Aletheia. He must have sneaked in, he was a master at that.
Faora and Aletheia walked to a different room
“You’ve been lying to us.” He said angrily.
“What do you mean?” she replied, perplexed
“Ohh you don’t get to play innocent now sweetie. I know everything. Those men in Siachen. They weren’t enemy soldiers were they? You told us enemies had taken over a post and were disguised as our soldiers so they needed to be eliminated but they weren’t the enemies. YOU MADE US KILL OUR OWN MEN!” He grabbed her by her arm and pulled her closer.
“ You don’t get to lie to my now. You have made us kill our own soldiers to justify your stupid wars. You have made us bomb civilians to occupy their homes. No more. The Extraordinarii need to know the truth and I am going to tell them.”
“Oh really? Is that it? What happens if you don’t get to walk out of here.” She pointed the gun from her hip at Aletheia’s forehead.
“Go on then. Kill me. You don’t have it in you to pull that trigger. You aren’t a soldier. I am. I know what it takes to take a life and something in you tells me you just don’t have it.”
Faora was worried. Her bluff had been called. She didn’t know what to do. She put the gun back in it’s place and let him walk out.
Doctor Indus had arrived as well. He didn’t stay at the headquarters; he just visited them at times. He was normally more occupied by his research and diplomatic work.
“What’s going on here?” he asked Haefer.
“The Party wants us to work on our own people. The protests going on in New Delhi and Mumbai, They want us to take care of them, claim some enemies have infiltrated and plan to cause riots.” He replied duly
“….and they are giving us a 1% rate! What more do you want? When do we leave?” said an excited Furcifer.
“No one is going anywhere.” Alatheia emerged from the room. “ I am afraid we have been lied to gentlemen. Misguided by our own government. We are not going to be killing our own men for the first time today, they have been making us do it since they brought us together.”
“What are you talking about?” said a confused Aryan.
“Would you like to tell them or should I?” Aletheia asked Faora as she emerged from the same room
Faora stammered, “ We….We have been…using your powers to suppress any and all forms of protests against The Party. We use your actions to spread our propaganda against The Opposition. We made you kill Indian soldiers so that we could blame it on our enemies and start a full on war against them. There are no infiltrators at the protests. We just wish to spread fear among the people to unite them.”
The faces of the Extraordinarii fell as they heard what she had to say. Furcifer was the least surprised, the guy couldn’t be surprised with anything. He just took it on his chin and wanted to know what the plan was now. Aryan was furious and nearly hit Faora but he was held back by Alatheia. Doctor Indus and Haefer were still thinking about what they had heard. The team went back for a group discussion.
“Its clear now that this is a totalitarian govt. rather than a democratic one. We need to overthrow the current government and install a new one.” Suggested Aryan.
“The people need to know the truth. They need to know what we have done, what the government has done and they need to decide what to do for themselves. Let there be proceedings and arrests and let the people rule until then.” Suggested Aletheia.
“ There can be no guarantee that the new govt. would be any different Aryan. We must let the people decide. If we do what Alatheia wants, we would have an anarchy on our hands” said Haefer trying to bring some sense into the conversation.
Doctor Indus was quiet. He was still processing everything. He turned to Faora and said to her, “Take us to your leader right now. We will speak only with him.”
The team and Faora went to the PM’s residence in New Delhi in the middle of the night. The PM was asleep but he was woken up for an emergency meeting with the Extraordianrii.
Everyone sat at a round table including the PM and the Extraordinarii.
“Announce elections right now. Tell the people whatever you wish to tell them. Call the elections right now and let them choose.” Said Dr. Indus in an ominous tone.
“We can’t do that.” Replied the PM “We are not held hostage by you people. You work for us, not the other way around.”
“Call elections right now and stand a 50-50 chance of getting back in power or we tell the people what you have done and your party disintegrates and vanishes into non-existence.” Said Dr. Indus again.
“Wait a minute you mean to say we are not going to tell the people about this right now?!” exclaimed Alatheia right then.
“We need to give them something in order to get them to agree with us. We give them a chance in the elections and they call elections right away.” Replied Dr.Indus.
“These are the same people who divide people based on their religion and incite hatred against people different from them. What makes you think they won’t do that again to regain the power?”
This was now a full blown argument between Alatheia and Dr. Indus.
“It is their right to choose whatever strategy to convince people to vote for them. We can’t dictate policy.”
“You are going to let idiots be swayed by emotion who are going to bring the people they hate into power only because of their stupidity.”
“We cannot stop people from being idiots, Alatheia. Religion doesn’t make people stupid it just makes them easier to be manipulated. We cannot undermine democracy just because we think the people are wrong. We need to get people to believe they are wrong, merely telling them so won’t work”
Sensing a disagreement the PM offered a compromise.
“We will hold the elections again but only on the condition that you don’t reveal any of our secrets and let us carry out our campaign on our own terms.”
“Done. Announce the snap elections tomorrow. You will have full freedom to do whatever you wish to do during campaigning.” Replied Dr. Indus. He had Haefer on his side and Furcifer didn’t really care about what happens. Alatheia on the other hadn stormed out of the office.
“I will take care of him, you do what you have to.” Dr. Indus assured the PM.
The next day, snap elections were announced. The people got to choose their new leaders and they were given the choice to let their voices be heard through their votes. It may be temporary but for a while, people started trusting democracy again and were convinced to stay away from violence for a little longer.
The Extraordinarii went different ways and went into hibernation for some time. The world was at peace, for a while atleast.
A week after the PM announced elections all of a sudden, about a year before they were scheduled, the media started reporting news about how the government had been lying to its people and spreading fake propaganda to divide the population. The media houses seemed to have been given all the evidence needed to prosecute the leaders. The Pm and about 50 other leaders were sentenced to prison. The Opposition Party came in power with a majority as the people looked for change but expecting water to be dry and politicians to not lie is stupid. The new govt. wasn’t any different to the previous, the people now were just more careful. Alatheia had leaked the reports to the journalists at a time when elections couldn’t be recalled and ensured that the people got to know the whole truth. Of course, it also meant that people lost their trust in the superheroes of Extraordinarii and started questioning their actions as well. The thousand year war between peace and truth continued to wage with no end in sight.