In the meanwhile, I was doing everything I could to find missing Major and 3 days after the blast, found myself standing the stairwell of a decrepit apartment building in some city that’ll remain nameless. My contact handed me a key and walked out without staying a word. I climbed to 2nd floor, found the apartment and knocked. There was no answer and I let myself in by unlocking the door. It just had 2 rooms and a small kitchen which was almost completely empty apart from some old delivery boxes. One room was completely bare while other had it’s door closed. I knocked it and got no answer. I pushed it open and I found myself face to face with the missing Major. He probably had not shaved since the mission and his salt and pepper stubble matched the length of his short cropped hair. His eyes were bloodshot and he looked almost completely drunk. 2 empty whiskey bottles were lying around in a corner while a half full bottle along with a glass occupied  a small table.
He looked at me and smirked, “So you found me after all. I hope it was not too inconvenient. “
I walked around the room trying to find something of interest, ” You made it almost too easy. I had more trouble finding my socks this morning.”
He scoffed and had another swig from the glass, “Please have a seat if you feel like it.. Would you like some whiskey ? It’s not army issue liquor. You may like it.”
I ignored the offer of liquor but dragged a chair upright and sat on it staring directly in to his eyes. They were not the eyes of a drunk man but they were strangely devoid of any discernible emotion.”Would you care to tell me what happened after you took the gypsy and why you did it?”
He finished the rest of his drink in one swig and laughed, “Come on G ! You have found me here. You out of all the people know what happened ! Why such formality ?”
I looked at him as he filled his glass again and said, “Because I need to know Major. This may turn in to a full fledged war any moment. I need to know how and why it happened from you. You owe it to all the people who are dying right now and will die in this conflict. “
He nodded while looking at his drink and played with the glass in his palms. “Ofcourse I owe it to a lot of people.” He took a swig again and  said, ” Well, there is not much to tell what you already don’t know. I parked the gypsy somewhere in woods where it is really hard to find it. Stole another car, drove it to Mirza’s house with Zahid and the bomb in it and as they say, the rest is history.”
I knew most of it and had found the missing gypsy a few km away from Rajauri town.  “That’s all ? So it was Zahid in the car ?”
He laughed quietly, “Yes, the same bastard who sent so many brain washed idiots to their deaths died in a very similar way himself. Funny, don’t you think ?”
I sighed, ” Do you think it’s funny or poetic justice in some way ? We are facing an almost certain war with nuclear armed Pakis due to your, actions. Lives of crores of people are st risk due to your misplaced sense of justice and you think that you did good ?”
“If I had not intercepted that dirty bomb, Zahid’s piglets would’ve exploded it in some bigger city causing even more destruction. If it had not killed Mirza, then more of our people would have died and you’d have done nothing except writing condolence letters to their families.
What would have happened if I had handed Zahid and the bomb to you ? What else he could’ve told us that we already didn’t know ?  How the conditions then be different from what they are now  ? What if they had exploded the bomb in New Delhi or Chandigarh or Jammu or Srinagar or Amritsar ? Would you have liked it better ?  What I did was for greater good.”
“Greater good ? Is that your defence now Major ? The blast killed 12 other people and radiation another 35.  250-300 people will probably die due to radiation linked complications in near future. Is that greater good ? Don’t you see a single drop of blood on your hands ?”
Major finished his drink in one gulp and slammed the glass on table. I could see his hand shaking, probably with anger as he poured himself another drink. He picked another glass from the floor, filled it and slided it towards me. I took one sip and nearly spit it out. He remained silent for a minute as he stared at the wall and then finished the glass in one go.
“What I see is the blood of Captain M,___ , ____ and 7 other soldiers of my platoon who were killed on 20th May 2004. And then 3 months later, blood of 5 other equally good soldiers  who died due to the same terrorists and 4 more soldiers same year. I see their blood on my hands, my uniform every single day. I have never stopped seeing that blood. I was the one who had to visit their homes and let their wives, sons, mothers, fathers know. It killed a little bit of me every single time till I could do it no more.  But tell me something. Did the bullets you took damage your spine too ? Don’t you feel any anger, any betrayal, anything at all or are you just one of the other career ass kissers too ?
That bastard Mirza played a double game with all of us. He was directly responsible for all those deaths. He sheltered dozens of terrorists inside his own home and official residence. He let the terrorists who beheaded Captain M hide in his house for 2 weeks and then helped him cross the border back. He supported Zahid and supplied him with weapons when his fellow pigs ambushed and killed 5 more soldiers in August 2004.  And what did we do ? What did you do ? You got your disability certificate in that attack ! You took it and went on to play desk games. Did the bullet sever your spine or took out your balls ? Did you ever do anything to take revenge from the bastard who did this to you and your companions ?
Every single person knew of his double games, but no one lifted a single finger to do anything about it. When I tried to actually do something, I was almost court-martialled. No one took a look at the proof, or my service record, my scars, my medals, my work, anything I stood for or took an oath to protect. I was punished for trying to do things by the book. What did I get out of following the rules ? He went scot-free, I was left to rot and what did you or anyone else finding faults with my actions did ? Cover your eyes, behaved like a good girl and pretended everything was OK ? That the bastards who killed our men had the right to live in peace ?
You ask me if I see it as justice. How is it not justice ? Since when killing the men who killed your friends is not justice ? “
I threw my glass on the wall where it shattered to pieces and shouted ,” But your justice has led us to a damned war. This whole thing is not a bollywood action bullshit or family drama ! This is something with lives of crores of people at risk. A vendetta can’t be allowed when stakes are this high, ever. You got your revenge but at what cost ? India and Pakistan are almost at war which we may not be able to control. God knows how many people will die.
If we acknowledge what actually happened, then it’s an equally big disaster. India is humiliated by one of it’s own. What happens then ? Who is going to trust us then ? We can’t control our own soldiers who go rogue and deliberately start wars ? Do you even realise the conundrum you’ve put us in ?
What happens when I take you back for trial and what happens after that ? Who is going to trust us  ? The sweat and blood of lakhs of soldiers will be tainted by your actions ! What is your answer for that ? “
Major shouted back, “We have been fighting by the rules for decades ! We’ve been losing friends and families fighting this bullshit war over what ?  You want an answer ? The fire that I lit is the answer. Sometimes you have to light a fire in perfectly good forest to fight a bigger fire. That’s what I did. You care about honour and prestige of army ? You do ? Why not trying care about lives of the soldiers lives too for change ? This is my answer ! “
I hung my head and sighed loudly. I was not going to like what I had to do next.

A few months after I finished writing Flames and Arrows (blog, BRforum, Smashwords), I started writing another military fiction. I wrote for some time but didn’t really like it that much. The story was weak, dragged on in a number of places and I could’t really enjoy it. Then there was work to do, personal commitments, other projects and I hardly had enough time to write. So this story lay as a rough draft for a long long time. A few weeks back, while I came across it and decided to spend a few hours every week and try to finish it. I rewrote major portion of it, added a few new aspects and made the scope a bit wider than I originally intended. As of now, I think I have finished writing about 60% of it and it’s coming along not too badly. This post is meant as index and may be general comments about the different chapters that I’ll be posting here.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8