Previous Part

0500 Hours
4th November 2011
Somewhere in India

Defence Secretary Pillai had 24 hour access to Indian Defence Minister who was also looking over tasks of Prime Minister. PM had been operated upon to correct his heart condition and was still in ICU. Although the work load and responsibilities were enormous, DM seemed to be thriving and egging on his colleagues and subordinates to perform even better. DS Pillai didn’t mind it at all and had been involved in hectic parleys with Chinese himself. He called DM with a new message from his counterpart in Chinese ministry,
“Sir, Chinese want to negotiate. They’ve agreed to some of our demands.”

If he was affected by the news, DM gave no outer sign of it, “Some of them ?”

“Yes sir. They’ve agreed to allow us access to Admiral Xedong in prison. We can dispatch a team to interrogate him this evening itself.”

“They are not deporting him ? What about rest of his co-conspirators ?”

“According to them, investigations are still going on and they haven’t arrested anybody else yet pending further developments. Access to other suspects will be on case by case basis.”

DM nodded warily, “Sure. What else ?”

“They are ready to consider our claim on PoK, pending further high level talks of course.”

DM showed first sign of real interest, “ That’s interesting. Anything about Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin ? “

“According to them, those areas are Chinese territory. Concessions if any will be given on areas held by Pakistan only.”

“We’ll see to that. What are their demands ?”

“Unconditional release of all of their civilians, sailors and soldiers that we have in our custody. Giving back their submarine and nuclear missiles, an official apology for attack on Chinese positions inside POK and sympathy on Xinjiang and Tibet civil unrest issue.”

DM snorted in amusement, “That’s interesting. You’ve done a good job Shri Pillai. Let me think on this or a while.”

Call was disconnected and everybody in room shared glances. Apparently, Chinese had been facing their worst nightmares, isolation and condemnation from rest of the world, rebellion in two provinces, covert attacks by multiple parties on overseas assets and worst of all, loss of face.
NSA chief Angad spoke first, “That’s quite generous of our peaceful neighbours !”

DM raised his eyebrows questioningly to which Angad replied, “They have given up nothing while asking for everything. POK was never theirs to begin with, it was between us and Pakis. Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley don’t even figure in negotiations.
We get to interrogate Xedong but no extradition. We can’t prosecute him in our courts, almost all of other big fish will wiggle free and we’ll never get one single extradition. Fat lot of good it’ll do to us.

Now, look at their demands. They’ve asked for all of our bargaining chips and then some more. Sympathy on Xinjiang and Tibet ! What the hell they are smoking ? Asking for release of prisoners is one thing but what’s the deal with their unconditional release ? I say, let every single one of them rot in our jails till the guilty Chinese are extradited and executed. “

DM sighed and spoke, “You said it yourself that a lot of highest ranks were involved in whole conspiracy. Do you think either of them will get punished ? Even Xedong has been arrested only because Peng probably sees him as a threat and thus he is the most convenient scape-goat.

If I had my own way, I’d have launched those Gilgit missiles on these idiots the moment we had captured them. Would have saved us the hassle of negotiating with these retards.”

“I’d have shrunken in horror if anybody had said this a week earlier, but right now, I can’t say that I disagree After what they’ve done to us since the last 50 years, I feel like obliterating them myself..” Angad paused for a while while looking absently at the bunch of papers lying before him. “Anyway, what do you think we should do right now ? Send a team to interrogate Xedong right now ?”

“I don’t suppose that’s going to mean anything. Maybe Xedong is just a smoke screen. I am reasonably sure that he will say exactly what he will be taught to say by his masters. A bloody sacrificial goat if anything at all.” DM shook his head in anger then spoke again, “ But we don’t have any good information on rest of his companions ourselves. So we can’t put any pressure on them. Let’s take the bait for now. See what we come up with. Assemble a team and coordinate with Chinese over this offer. Regarding POK and Aksai Chin, I’ll pick up a team for negotiations myself. Nobody makes any public statements right now and everything is strictly on need to know basis unless I specify otherwise. Now let’s get busy.”

Previous Part

1100 Hours
Mes Aynank, Afghanistan

Mes Aynak in Afghanistan is 69KM South east from Kabul and 25 km from Pakistan border. It lies along the famous Silk Road and was one of the biggest Buddhist centers in Afghanistan till 7th century AD and major stronghold of Kushan empire till 4th century BC. Although it’s relation with Kushan empire is largely forgotten, it’s still famous for it’s archaeological importance as the second biggest archaeological site related to Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan. It gained notoriety in late 1990s as a training camp for terrorists run by where Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and was again promptly forgotten until a Chinese mining company won the contract for mining copper in 2007 for $ 3.5 Billion. The area is believed to hold the 2nd largest copper deposits in whole world. Afghanistan government is expected to earn $ 800 million even before the mining starts in earnest with royalties worth billions coming in later.

Owing to it’s unexplored archaeological treasures, Chinese agreed to halt all mining activities until the site was properly surveyed and excavated by archaeologists. Although the mining was expected to start in 2014, there was considerable pressure on under-funded and under-staffed international archaeological teams to release as much area as possible for mining. Such moves had been been condemned from various quarters, with some people equating actions of Chinese firm equivalent to those of Taliban destroying Buddhist statues and artifacts in Bamiyan. But money is a strong motivator and Chinese had succeeded in persuaded enough people in power to start mining excavation on a plot on site much before the agreed time line. By early 2012, 500 Chinese workers hired by Chinese State Mining Corp. had already landed and begun initial groundwork on the site. A large number of Afghan civilians were also hired and pressed to work. For a country like Afghanistan it was like manna from heaven and nobody except the archaeological community and Americans was really complaining.
Sentiment among American public, whoever cared to know about the issue was of righteous betrayal. Thousands of American lives were lost and trillions of dollars spent in helping Afghans and it was Chinese who were stealing multi-billion dollar under their very noses.

Although most of the supervisors and all of the management was Chinese, going was good initially. But as with most foreign run operations, the tensions started to develop between the local workers and their foreigner supervisors. While Chinese could not understand the Afghan or muslims revulsion of pork, alcohol and ban on most forms of entertainment, Afghans on their part were put off by what they felt somewhat arrogant and exploitative attitude of their Chinese supervisors. But after a few initial hiccups, both parties were able to get along tolerably well. The mining process was slowly picking up steam with scale of operations increasing steadily.

It was on such a day that Rastin Khan walked in to the cabin of his Chinese supervisor asking for a holiday for himself and a few of his colleagues, which incidentally included most of his fellow villagers who worked alongside him. Wen Gong, was one of the few Chinese personnel on site who knew Pashto, one of languages spoken by Afghans. He took a look at the company’s official holiday calendar and pointed it to Rastin, “ No holiday here Rastin. Can’t do that.”

Rastin exceeded his Chinese supervisor in height by at least 14 inches and he looked down up on the diminutive man as one would look at a kid, “You don’t understand. It’s my brother’s marriage and I along with my cousins and village men need to be there. It’s just for four days.”

Wen shook his head emphatically, “ No, what you ask for is simply impossible. We cannot allow so many people to go on leave at this time. 18 workers ! Why do you need so many people for so long anyway ?” Even before Rastin could open his mouth to reply, he spoke again, “ It’s impossible anyway. You’ll have to come to work. We need every single man here.”

Rastin expressed an expression of exasperation. He was not used to some dwarfish guy in funny clothes and language boss him around like a lowly servant. But the mining job one of very few paying jobs in the country and he swallowed his pride and controlled his steadily rising anger, “ He is my only surviving brother. If I and my village men are not present in wedding, it’ll be very inconvenient and shameful for my whole family and my village. I cannot afford to lose face like this.”

Now loss of face was one expression that Wen was familiar with. But still he had to save his own, “I cannot help you in this matter then. You can take one day off tomorrow but we are facing shortage of workers and anything beyond that is impossible .”

“One day !” Rastin exclaimed with disdain. “What will I do of one day’s leave ?”

Wen cut in coldly, “That’s all Rastin. Take this or leave the job. We have a long line of applicants begging for work.”

Rastin shouted in anger, “ Just because you have the mine, you think that you can treat us like dirt ? My father is head of my village and we take orders from no one. Least of all, stinky little rats like you.”

The burly Afghan’s loud voice had begun to cause some commotion amongst his fellow countrymen. Some of them stopped whatever work they were busy with and started jostling to hear the conversation. This attracted the attention of Chinese guards, who started waving and gesturing the workers to get back to work. The commotion was interrupted by the sound of door crashing open and supervisor Wen following half flying in to the crowd. A stunned silence befell the crowd only to be broken by sounds of Afghans shouting and gesturing wildly by the appearance of Rastin a moment later. A few Chinese officers flanked by armed guards came running to the rescue of Wen who was lying dazed surrounded by a somewhat hostile crowd. Arrival of armed guards further infuriated the Afghan, resulting in a fair bit of jostling.

Although the unarmed Afghans formed a smaller part of the workforce, Chinese workers thought better of antagonizing them further. But an example had to be set. It was one unruly worker today, tomorrow there will be five. Such behaviour in an Chinese enterprise was simply unacceptable and the senior Chinese manager fired Rastin and few of his friends on the spot. The announcement was greeted by loud abuses and flash strike of all the Afghan workers. They were in turn warned of dismissals themselves, but the warning fell on deaf ears. Instead, it served as the proverbial last straw for the Afghans, who went on a rampage inside the premises. A large quantity of recently imported shiny new machinery was broken and set on fire, followed by parts of the office building. Chinese guards were becoming increasingly nervous and it was only a matter of time before a few bullets were fired. Rastin along with 6 other workers were shot, 3 of them died some time later.

Members of powerful local tribes took the incident as a personal insult and grave provocation. As is the case with all such cases, blood had to be paid for with blood. It being Chinese made no difference. A Lashkar of 180 men was soon assembled which ambushed the mining site just a few hours later. They attacked armed with RPGs, Machine guns and AKs before the besieged Chinese had any chance of organisng proper defence or call for help. Most of the NATO forces were away from the area and had little desire of getting involved in another useless bloody skirmish involving locals and Chinese. As such, the Afghan Lashkar had little difficulty in overwhelming the defences and taking hundreds of Chinese personnel hostage. Except for a twenty senior officials, all of them were tied and forced marched towards general direction of Pakistan before letting go.
The incident didn’t go well with Afghan government either. It immediately came under enormous domestic pressure to renegotiate the contract with Chinese, if not kick them outright.

Previous Part

1030 Hours
Few KM North of Gonggar PLAAF Base

Qinghai–Tibet railway is one of the biggest marvels of human engineering. This railway was the first one connecting Chinese occupied Tibet to mainland China. Constructed at the cost of nearly $ 4 billion, it traverses one of the most inhospitable and harsh terrains. Total length of track exceeds 2000 Km and highest railway station in world is on this line itself (5000m +). A significant portion of the railway is constructed over semi-permanent perma-frost which poses it’s own challenges during warm conditions. Special measures were taken to solve the problem, which included passive cooling, deep concrete supports and sun shades.

Apart from the engineering challenges faced during the construction, the extreme altitude and cold weather poses serious problems to passengers and daily operations. It’s not possible to operate normal trains at this altitude. So China had to import special trains with built in oxygen supply for passengers and ultra high grade environment control. Even the diesel locomotives are custom built.
Quite a few people thought all of this effort as a waste of money and effort. But the Chinese government thought different and poured all the resources it could spare. The strategic advantages brought about by this line vindicated all the stubbornness displayed by Chinese. Amount of cargo being transported in and out of Tibet increased by nearly 300%. But the most obvious advantage was the strengthening of Chinese stranglehold over Tibet. This railway line provided China with unprecedented ability to deploy forces over most of Tibet much faster and cheaper. Thus they had a significant advantage over India which left most of it’s border routes undeveloped in an extremely counter-productive defensive strategy.

At the moment this fact was quite obvious to the three man special forces operative team as they lay waiting just a few meters away from the famous track. Intelligence reports had indicated that numerous trains loaded with men and weapons were on their way to Tibet from mainland China as PLA rushed to quell the rebellions in Tibet and Xinjiang, while at the same time maintaining enough forces on standby to deter India. The railway track was proving to be invaluable in these conditions. Many of the PLA bases were constructed close to railway lines to take maximum advantage. Although the forces were stretched thin, steady arrival of reinforcements was proving to be life saver for Chinese commanders. It allowed them to keep existing forces directed towards India on station, while still maintaining overwhelming superiority over spirited but less capable rebels.

As of now, mission of the spec-ops team was to cripple this vital cog in Chinese occupation of Tibet and then some more.

The sophisticated Motorola radio handset cackled in to life in hands of the team leader, “ Leopard Alpha, This is Leopard Charlie. We confirm arrival of target in 15 minutes at ambush point 1.”

“Roger that Leopard Charlie.” Leader of Alpha team had to shout in to the radio to make himself heard as icy winds nearly drowned out his voice at normal volume. If he hadn’t spent two weeks acclimatizing to the altitude he’d have serious trouble doing even that. Trekking such long distances carrying heavy loads as he was was simply out of question. Inhaling the cold air deeply, he ordered his companions to get ready. On the leader’s signal, the two men broke away and took positions at a few meters distance from each other.
Trap was almost ready, all they had to do now was to wait for the prey.

Their target, a cargo train of nearly 40 trailers carrying an arsenal worth of Chinese armoured personnel carriers and tanks was within their sights in a few minutes. It’s specially designed diesel engine pulled the load quite effortlessly as it chugged on. Leopard teams waited with bated breaths as the moment of reckoning came closer. The operatives checked their weapons and adjusted the sights one last time. Right on the estimated time, the train reached it’s intended point and it’s engine shook as bunch of small explosives went off under it’s wheels. A small group of soldiers and engineers on-board looked here and there bewildered as wheels of the engine broke away amidst showers of sparks and fire. Their emotion of surprise soon turned to horror as 4 rocket propelled grenades slammed in to the engine and the single passenger compartment behind it from different directions. The soldiers who survived the initial assault jumped out and started to run only to be mowed down by murderous small arms fire. The attackers had ample time to plan the ambush and not a single person on the train was left alive. They emerged from their cover still firing on anything moving and started converging on ill-fated train.
Within next few moments a small army of armed men had collected around the train, working feverishly unstrapping the APCs and tanks. They lacked proper equipment to do the job and thus the going was slow. Leopard Alpha leader noted the fact and shouted instructions in broken Tibetan to hurry up the process. The result was a significantly rougher handling of the vehicles as they left the trailer to land at ground, but the process picked up speed. Time was of essence . It was only a matter of time before Chinese noted the missing train and sent somebody to investigate. Whoever did this better be a long distance away from the site when Chinese came with reinforcements.
It took nearly 20 minutes for men working at breakneck speeds to unload required vehicles and fill their fuel tanks. Once finished, a large number of men got in to the vehicles and started to drive them away towards the road nearby. One Tibetan man came jogging towards Leopard Alpha and smiled. “Thanks for the help. Will see you soon.”

The leader saluted and smiled back, “ Take care Wangdak. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

Wangdak grinned and saluted back. Both men shook hands and he turned to climb in to one of the two Chinese Type-96 tanks that had been unloaded from train. Leopard team went on to it’s work immediately. Working separately, they attached more explosives to the stricken train and then melted away in to the terrain. A few minutes after their departure, a series of explosions shook the area as the explosives did their work, destroying the train along with it’s cargo and damaging a large portion of railway track along with it. Leopards felt rather than saw the explosions, but didn’t turn to see the result of their work. They still had more missions to complete. One of them was another sabotage mission that’ll put the Qinghai–Tibet railway out of commission for months by destruction of one of numerous bridges on the line.

The convoy of stolen vehicles soon came across a road that led to their destination, Lhasa-Gonggar Forward Air Base, nearly 50 Km south-west of Lhasa. Owing to highly tense conditions, lots of PLA convoys were traveling from one location to another and they moved fast without raising any suspicion. Just another convoy on it’s way to deployment somewhere.
In spite of that, every man in convoy was nervous. It was only a matter of time before news of the attack and theft of vehicles was reported and an alert sounded all over the region for the rebels. They needed to act really fast if they wanted to have any reasonable chance of their mission succeeding. They soon reached Galashan tunnel, one of the longest tunnels in Asia at nearly 2.4 Km. Beyond it a 3.8km long bridge lead to a small town named Jiazhulinzhen. Lhasa-Gonggar base was just on it’s outskirts. Normally a civilian airport which served tourists and Tibet residents, it was a hotbed of activity. But at that time, a significant part of the air traffic was military. Numerous Chinese military transport planes were present on the base, loading and unloading men and supplies. According to rumours a detachment of J10s was scheduled to land at the base within next 12 hours to fly CAP missions. But as with most rumours, it was not confirmed yet. But the security seemed to be beefed up and every vehicle was undergoing stringent security checks.

The convoy lead by rumbled to a halt just outside the main gate of base. Two security guards with confused expressions on their faces walked hesitatingly towards the slightly unusual visitors. Four rebels in PLA uniforms with their fingers ready on triggers of their AK56s jumped out from trailing Type-92 APCs and flanked Wangdak’s tank as he opened it’s hatch. Chinese guards halted ad saluted on seeing the leading officer. Although they had no information of arrival of any convoy, they knew better than to challenge a PLA Colonel. Wangdak’s confident orders in flawless Mandarin removed any hesitation that they had in their minds. Clearing the first security hurdle, the convoy drove in to the airbase and spread out, taking up strategic positions around it’s premises.

For Chinese, first indication of the fact that something was wrong came when nearly a dozen armed men walked in to the air traffic control building and tied up all the guards after disarming them. Once finished, four men stayed back in the control room with loaded guns pointed at the profusely sweating traffic controllers who were ordered to refuse all requests for landings and take offs. All the passengers were shunted into the airport lobby. This was not hard to do as there were little passengers owing to escalating tensions with India. Their number were further reduced with military aircraft forming bulk of traffic

In the meanwhile both Type99 tanks followed by 2 APCs drove up to the military hangar area. A small guard detail was cut down in a hail of bullets before it had any chance to react. A small group of armed rebels then jumped out of APCs and
swarmed in to the area, searching for weapons and supplies and killing anybody who resisted. They found a IL76 and two Y8 transport planes, both of which were promptly set on fire.

Another group of APCs drove around the premises finding and destroying any anti-air defense asset they could find. The maps they had were not very reliable but their job was made easy as encountered very little resistance. The men were about to finish the last of the KS-1A SAM launchers when warning of arrival of Chinese reinforcements came in.

They were coming in from a small Chinese military base few Km south of Lhasa. Tibetan spotters positioned near Galashan tunnel noticed their arrival and went to work. They waited as first of the vehicles crossed the tunnel and reached the bridge. A soon as it was there, the bridge was rocked by a massive explosion which blew apart a large portion cutting off all the reinforcements. One truck and an APC were destroyed as the powerful explosion tossed them in to cold river water below. Another explosion inside the tunnel a few minutes later destroyed any remaining chance of retaking the base from rebels anytime soon.
But the two Mi-17s armed with machine guns and rocket pods which followed the convoy minutes later had no need of any road. Unfortunately for Chinese. they too proved to be of little use. Two shoulder fired SAMs took care of both, as the first chopper crashed even before it had spotted any rebel. Seeing the fiery fate of it’s companion, second immediately turned tail and raced back.

Wangdak ordered his men to gather up and load all the military supplies that could be carried away and move out. Their work there was done. His men followed the orders with clockwork precision and started moving out within minutes. Their departure was marked by a series of explosions which first blew up the ATC building followed by fuel storage facility. Last of the explosions made dozens of crates on the runway putting the air base out of operational readiness for days at least.
Whole thing happened in front of a few hundred civilians, many of them foreigners all of them with phones and cameras. Only a miracle could censor news of such an event.

Previous Part

0650 Hours
PPC World News

In a somewhat expected event, a senior member of Chinese ruling party, Admiral (Retd) Zlin Xedong was suspended and placed under arrest on charges of misuse of his authority. It was declared in a statement issued by a senior spokesperson of CPC. According to statement, Chinese President was forced to issue orders to this affect after government’s investigators uncovered solid proof of his involvement in a plot to spoil developing mutually beneficial relationships between China and India. In a well planned conspiracy that involved many senior and middle level officers of Pakistani military, Admiral Xedong plotted clandestine attack on India in complete violation of official Chinese policy of peaceful and prosperous co-existence. Involvement of some other senior Chinese PLA officers is also under investigation. Exact motive of conspirators is not clear at the moment,

After the investigative team intimated President Peng of it’s findings, he immediately ordered Adm Xedong to be placed under arrest awaiting further trial while investigations against other officers get completed. According to many analysts, this step is probably aimed to mollify India smarting after a surprise nuke attack which it alleges was planned and financed by Chinese military. Just hours after a devastating retaliatory nuclear attack on it’s arch enemy Pakistan, from where the rogue missile was launched, Indian Navy had captured a crippled Chinese submarine. Along with it’s full crew, Indian Navy had also captured rebel Pakistani General Asgar. From him, they had recovered recorded conversations between Admiral Xedong and a low ranking Chinese liaison officer. According to the recordings, Admiral Xedong was heard planning more attacks on India. Chinese spokesperson while sympathizing with India expressed hope that the steps taken by China in it’s mission to punish the miscreants will generate goodwill amongst Indians and world community. When asked by a reporter whether international agencies or India will be allowed to interrogate Admiral Xedong and his co-conspirators, the spokesperson declined to answer.

Responding to the statement, a senior official from Indian government praised the action taken by Chinese government as a positive one but also said that much needs to be done in order to punish the guilty. In an answer to a question regarding further role of Indian forces in Pak Occupied Kashmir, he said that the area is now formally under Indian control as another part of erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Refuting the allegations of land grab, the spokesperson went on to say that part of J&K; under Chinese control should be handed over back to India as it was ceded illegally by Pakistan to China. There has been no reaction from Chinese on this as yet.

Reactions from other countries have been mixed. Although most of them except for notable exception of Israel and Russia have condemned the overwhelming nuclear attack on Pakistan, all of them unilaterally urged Indian government to be more pragmatic with China. In a televised interview, General Secretary UN Behn Ki urged both India and China to tread cautiously while billions of lives are in grave danger. He also urged China to find a peaceful solution to ongoing civil unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang. Although Chinese government has imposed strict curbs on news related to these provinces, sources indicate that the situation is getting worse by the day with escalating violence from all all sides.

0720 Hours

“What do you think of it Angad ? “ DM asked NIA chief who seemed to be lost in deep thought. It took a few seconds for him to realize that DM was addressing him. He had been thinking about the new development and was just dying to let it out. After a bit of start he answered, “They are lying. I’ll bet my last rupee that Xedong is just a straw man. It cannot be a lone wolf or rogue mission. Support of a lot of people, right up to their higher ranking CPC people is necessary to pull off anything like this. We are talking about Chinese nukes being launched by Chinese personnel . Now they arrest some random ass and make him a sacrificial goat. We are not sure that even he would be punished at all. ”

“And you base this upon ?” DM asked.

“ Base upon ? “ Angad exclaimed with wide open eyes and gestured with his hands. “ You saw all the proof yourself, right from the missile plant to it’s transport to Pakistan. Then had the testimony of those captured Pakis and Chinese submarine crew. There is no chance that Xedong is the only mastermind behind all this. I’ll eat my shoes if somebody proves me wrong. “

“But what’s their motive then ? In spite of all their bravado and saber rattling previously, they haven’t even expressed any official outrage over loss of 3 of their submarines and the men and missiles that we captured from Gilgit..” DM seemed puzzled and amused at the same time.

Angad allowed himself a wicked smile, “It was your decision to pay back the Pakis in kind that’s led to the current situation. By firing the nuke from the shoulder of Pakis, they thought that they could humiliate us and tank our economy and self esteem. They thought that we’ll be too afraid to retaliate and thus lose face, become weak and more prone to their bullying. Then they could strengthen their claim on occupied and disputed territories and prance around on world stage as the undisputed champion. But our retaliatory strikes poured cold water on all of their dreams. Capturing that Chinese submarine was our wildest dream come true. The intelligence that we gathered is invaluable.
They now know that we are privy to most of their plans and are more than willing to give them a bloody nose. They probably thought that in worst case scenario for them, we’ll engage Pakis in a conventional war and they could come to the aid of their deeper than ocean fliends and make it hell for us. But we preempted their trump card with our own.”

General Zoravar Singh, who had been listening to the conversation quietly interrupted Angad, “All that’s fine, but that still doesn’t answer the question. What should be our response ?”

DM sopke up before Angad could answer, “What do you think General ? Can we take on Chinese right now ?”

General Singh glanced on his companions from Air Force and Navy before answering, “We’ve been preparing for such a situation for some time. Although we are not as strong and well equipped as we’d like, but still we can hold our ground as long as it takes. Our Navy has already given them a bloody nose in two sectors. Army and Air Force are already mobilized and just awaiting orders. Our SF are already operating inside Tibet. They’ll take it a few notches up as soon as we give the signal.”

DM sighed, “Pitched battles with Chinese. I’m 100% sure that this thought will give another heart attack to our PM. “

Angad grinned and shrugged. DM glanced at him before continuing, “But realistically, what are our options ? China isn’t going to be a push over like Pakistan. What can we hope to achieve in terms of a military or political victory over them. By victory, I don’t mean any kind of lame brain “moral” thing. I want something that I can use to bargain something useful from them later. Aksai Chin, Tibet anything like that.”

General Singh replied, “I’ll be honest with you sir. If Chinese attack us, we will give them a real beating that they will ever forget. It’s not 1962.
In case we attack them, they’ll put up as fierce resistance as well. I cannot guarantee any territorial gains that we can use as bargaining chips later on. “

DM observed, “Typical zero sum game , eh . What’s your opinion about Chinese? Do they think in similar way ?”

“Based on whatever I know about Chinese, I’d say yes. Now that they realize that we’ve crossed nuclear threshold much earlier they expected, I believe that they’ll think a lot before committing to a direct fight. At least that’s what I could deduce from Chinese president’s statement and their actions till now.” He finished the sentence glancing in Angad’s direction who silently nodded in agreement. “

DM spoke with some anger “ Hmm. But that’s not a satisfactory conclusion to this mess. We suffered a nuclear strike and the people who actually plotted it all will likely go scot free.”

Angad who seemed to be lost in his own world again replied, “As General said, we do have our men inside their territory. We can inflict considerable amount of pain on them and blame it all on non-state actors, much like their beloved Pakis.”
He paused for a moment as if lost in thought again, then resumed, “ Apart from all that, Lin said that he’ll order his forces to stand down and strangely it’s been like that only. Their formations are on high alert but there is absolutely no indication that they are mobilizing in a war like mode against us as yet. “

Navy chief spoke up, “That’s not entirely correct. We downed one of there nuclear submarines just yesterday along with another that was taken down by Americans. Two other attack submarines are still there just outside our waters. We’re tracking one but other is hiding somewhere.”

DM’s ears perked up, “Yes, I’ve been wondering about this too. What do we make up of American involvement in this ? And what about that incident in Spartly Islands. Any further news on that ?”

“Well, except for TV clips from Malaysian channels, we don’t have any information on that. Those Chinese personnel were found drifting hundreds of Kms from their base. From whatever we could make of it, it’s 100% sure that it was a well planned spec-ops mission. Very few countries except can pull it off there. US of course is one.
As far as that submarine incident is concerned, we’re not entirely sure of their motives even now. In my opinion, they were trying to play cop when Chinese submarine decided to act Paki forcing Americans to sink it. But as I said before, it’s just an educated guess.”

DM nodded in approval,”Your guess is quite accurate. I had received a call from their Secretary Of Defence just a few minutes before this meeting started. He made an offer of mediating between us and Chinese just to stop the war before it turns worse.”

Suddenly perked up, Angad asked, “What did you say ?”

“Haven’t promised anything yet. They also said two of their aircraft carrier groups are steaming full speed in to South China sea and Japan, Chinese also know this.”

Angad smiled, “I don’t think that Chinese will swallow it so easily.”

DM looked him in the eye, “We’re not going to let that attack go unpunished either.”

0350 Hours

“ What the hell do you mean by that ?” Chinese General Chan with 3 stars on his shoulders shouted in to the phone. “That base is one of our biggest in the region. How could something like that happen without us knowing ?”

His subordinate, a Brigadier under his direct command was on the other line. “I don’t know sir. We just received a SOS from the base informing that some unidentified people had overrun their defences and killed or imprisoned all of the defenders. Even the Base Commander is missing.”

“ I don’t care about who or how many are missing or dead, I just want to know who did this and punish him.” General Chan hissed with barely suppressed rage.

Brigadier waited for a few seconds as he contemplated his reply. News of numerous major setbacks, one after the other were playing havoc with their carefully planned strategy. What had started out as a win-win game had turned in to a nightmare turning worse with each passing moment. “All that I can say at this stage is that whoever did this was very well equipped and trained. Whole mission reeks of top class special operations team and a big one at that. The base with 300 people was overrun within a hour with no causalities on their side. We should be really careful with this.”

This statement gave a pause to the furious rants of General Chan. Although the attackers had overrun the whole base but still had not assumed full control. They had come in like a surprise typhoon, destroyed everything in their path and then vanished. There were almost a dozen Chinese bases in the region, all of them much smaller and much easier targets. The fact that the attackers had chosen to attack that particular base while ignoring all the low hanging fruit was most worrying aspect of the situation. No only they had good intelligence regarding layout and defences of the base, it’s flawless execution also meant that they had prepared for it in advance. Not many countries had such kind of resources and skill at their disposal. Chan nervously chewed on his mustache as he considered all the points. “Are there any American or Russian assets in our seas ? Anybody or anything suspicious enough ?”

Relieved of the tension that had been gnawing on him during the pregnant pause , Brigadier replied immediately, “ No sir.”

Chan snorted derisively, “You should say that you haven’t been able to detect anything yet. Somebody just destroyed our base in our own backyard and we had no clue hours after it happened. Something is really screwed up.”

Poor Brigadier had no idea how to answer that, “We are trying our best to catch the miscreants. “

“These are no ordinary miscreants Brigadier. You probably don’t have any idea what you are dealing with. “ Shaking his head in mild irritation he asked, “ Tell me something that you know. How are you searching for the attackers and our missing men ?”

“We’ve pressed all of our remaining ships and aerial reconnaissance vehicles from Beihai and adjoining bases. But I believe we’ll need more than that. If I may have your permission, can we call for reinforcements from Hangzhou ? ”

“Are you really that stupid Comrade Haw ? Do you really think that we can move our assets from that area with Japanese and Americans breathing down our necks ? Those ships and planes stay where they are.”

Brigadier objected weakly, “ But sir, it’ll take us weeks to cover all that area with what we have it here.”

General Chang realised that the Brigadier was telling the truth Pausing again for a while, he took some deep breaths and asked“What’s the location of our 3rd fleet ?”

“ They’ll pass Malaysia in few hours.”

“Call them back and order them to help with hunting down the hostiles in Spartlys.”

Brigadier was startled. Searching frantically for polite enough words he mumbled, “ Sir ? But what about our plan regarding Indians ?” What will Admiral say to that ?”

Chan snapped back, “ You need not worry about them, Colonel. I’ll talk with Admiral and even the President myself. We need to consolidate our resources not spread them thin. They are nearest and most capable with search and defending our remaining bases. I want them to form a impenetrable wall around west of Spartlys. “

“Yes sir.” Brigadier replied and then spoke with nervous voice again, “ “Sir. There is one more news that you need to know.”

“What is that Comrade ?”

“Vietnam has announced test launch of a ballistic missile tomorrow.”

General Chang almost jumped to the roof, “ Vietnamese have announced what ?”

Brigadier thought that he was beginning to enjoy the sound of panic in his senior officer’s voice, “ They have announced that they’ll test launch a short range ballistic missile tomorrow.”

“What the hell they think they are doing ? Testing a missile at this time when so much sh1t is flying around! When and how did they develop that missile ? It’s impossible.”

Brigadier Haw agreed. “We’d have known if they were actually developing it themselves. This sudden announcement is very suspicious.”

Chan asked “Have Americans or anybody else issued a statement yet ?”

“ No sir. It’s too soon for that. We’ll hear something in a few hours, hopefully.”
Chang took in a deep breath and exhaled, “Let others take care of this missile business Comrade Haw. You need to concentrate on my orders. One more thing, news of this attack should not be leaked out anywhere “

Brigadier thought of letting hot shot General know what he actually thought of feasibility of the order, but wisely decided to keep quiet about that. He took his leave with a small reply, “ I understand sir. “

0350 Hours
Phalcon AWACS
Skies Over Laddakh

The AWACS had been in air almost continuously for a week now allowing for maintenance and refueling breaks. That particular patrol had been under progress for three and a half hours. A lot of things were going on Chinese side but till now they had shown no inclination of launching a full scale attack. That particular fact was needling Mission Controller more than anything else. Although, most of the Chinese bases had been put on highest alert after Indian attack on Chinese bases in PoK, Chinese so far had not started moblising their Air Force and Army assets near the border. The closest thing that could’ve caused a shooting incident was when a couple of J10s under control of a Chinese AWACS flying 100 Km inside Chinese territory had come within 2 KM of border. They could’ve been on an intelligence gathering mission to test and needle the Indian defences. They hadn’t been completely unsuccessful in this. Commander of the local Akash battery had no choice but to switch on his radar and track the incoming bandits. The J10s had immediately turned on their tails and went back after powerful Rajendra radar started to track them both. No other plane had come in as close after that. Chinese AWACS was still there flying in an oval pattern, it’s emissions clearly visible in the powerful tracking radar of Indian Phalcon which in turn would’ve been similarly visible to Chinese. Only thing that was different from peacetime were round the clock CAP missions on respective bases, offensive deployment of assets still hadn’t happened .

MC glanced nervously at the blips denoting the 11 Chinese fighter aircraft flying in a pre-set pattern around their respective bases. 240 Km to his North-east he could detect tell tale emissions of powerful S-300 radar. It’s signal going on and off as some big mountain formed an impenetrable wall as the Phalcon traveled or as Chinese switched it on and off.

Previous Part

Behind his back, the two man patrol party continued their vigil. The two men were responsible for keeping an eye on almost whole of the sandy beach. Although some new lights had been installed, a large area was still without light coverage. Their patrol area thus consisted of irregular patches of light in a mostly dark beach being pounded by powerful waves. Walking slowly the team reached the last light pole and halted for rest. One of the soldiers took told his companion to wait while he went slightly ahead behind the rocks for a much needed leak. Standing besides a large rock, he unzipped his pants and started the work. He was at it for a few seconds when he noticed a slight movement at the edge of his eyes. If he wasn’t tied up at that time, he would have probably investigated the incident. But as it happened, he ignored it and it’d have been only a matter of debate if the outcome would’ve been any different even if he had gone on to investigate.
Just a moment after he was finished there was a small whooshing sound and an arrow pierced his neck from behind. The startled soldier dropped on wet ground gurgling his own blood. His companion met the same fate seconds later. Four men in black clothes and masks slithered out of the darkness and quickly cut the throats of dying soldiers. Each soldier was carried by two men each and their bodies were dumped carefully out of sight. Once the work was finished, one of the attackers spoke in to his communications device in heavily accented English, “Otter 1 reporting to Crocodile. Beach is clear. “

Reply in not so accented English came in immediately, “Roger that Otter 1. Good work. Rendezvous with Otter 2 and 3 at Waypoint Charlie in 14 minutes.”

The men switched on their night-vision devices and started to sprint towards heart of the base nearly a KM away. Although the route was longer, they kept to a path that kept them away from the lights.

Lt. Col Peng was nursing his third drink of the night in his bed. Despite his misgivings, the liquor was genuine and had given him a good deal of buzz. Coming after the highly stressful day he intended to enjoy each sip of the expensive whiskey. The stash of bootleg DVDs that was seized from the same smugglers was proving to be a good source of entertainment. Grasping the glass in his hand he leaned against the pillows and closed his eyes listening to the soundtrack of one of the Chinese movies. He was feeling far too drunk to actually watch it. In spite of all the crap he had to go trough, life was not that bad after all. Sighing contently, he finished his drink and slipped even more in to his bed. His first clue of the fact that something was wrong came when things suddenly went very dark and at the same time he started having difficulty breathing. He struggled desperately to get his bearings and fought against the alcohol induced stupor made even more strong by his fatigue. A sudden hit on kidneys, almost made him puke, also made him fight off the effects of alcohol on his brain. He realised that his hands and feet were bound tightly and his face covered in some kind of dark cloth. He tried to scream but a gag prevented that. Another hit in same area made him bend over himself in agony and his scream was again muffled by the gag. Rough and firm hands dragged him to his feet and started to drag him somewhere. He tried to resist and was rewarded by another vicious hit that knocked him out.

When he came to his senses, he found himself in the same predicament, his face was still covered by a thick mask and his legs and arms tightly bound. His first instinct was to shout . His throat was parched and he needed water immediately. But almost immediately he remembered his roughing up from the last night checked himself. The self restraint was largely unnecessary as his mouth was still gagged. One thing that he sensed soon enough was that he was not on solid ground anymore. By slow rhythmic bobbing of the hard metallic floor underneath, he realised that he was a prisoner on a ship. Trying desperately to get out of his restraints he started to twist and turn which resulted in him bumping in to another person. He froze immediately, fearing that it was one of his captors. Lying still, he cringed waiting for the hard hitting blow and was more surprised than relieved when none came. Instead, a set of fingers frantically poked and groped him. Feeling bewildered he turned and tried to touch the unknown hand with his. It was soon established that the man was not an enemy and both immediately set about to loosen each other’s bonds. The task was not easy and it took them almost a hour to finally break free. At last, with impatient and trembling hands Lt Col Peng tore off the mask from his face and turned to face his helper. It turned out to be one of the men from his base, Xia Shi Gila.. The junior ranked soldier immediately tried to stand up and salute his senior but Lt Col waved him to relax. Sitting cross legged on the hard floor he croaked, “What the hell happened ?”

Gila was feeling dizzy from his earlier attempt to jump to attention and he plopped down on the hard metal floor. “We were attacked last night. Many of our men killed and the rest dumped on this boat. It all happened in minutes. We don’t know what hit us. ”

Peng rubbed his forehead and looked around. He realized that he had been dumped inside the engine room of Chinese patrol vessel with damaged rudder. As his junior spoke he tried to take stock of his surroundings. The port holes had been covered and only a trickle of light came through. He could see somebody moving in the feeble light. Ordering the young soldier to keep quiet, he slowly moved towards the moving man and found another of his soldiers bound and tied in similar way as they were. Working feverishly they managed to unshackle the man and then found another tied in similar way. All the men had similar stories to tell. Numerous masked men in dark clothes had appeared out of nowhere and had killed or captured all the Chinese personnel on island. Some of them had been placed on to the patrol vessel which had been towed in roughly southern direction away from the usual shipping lanes. They had heard loud explosions just minutes
after leaving the island.
Cursing loudly, Peng stumbled towards the portholes and tried to look outside. The glass had been painted black and windows sealed from outside. Ordering his juniors to find and open the door he tried to assimilate the situation. No matter which way he looked at it, he was screwed royally. His seniors will certainly take a very dim view of the incident if he ever survived the ordeal. At minimum they would just fire him. But a very long trip to a re-education camp or death by a firing squad seemed more plausible.

Few minutes later, he was out of the engine room on to the deck lost in gloomy thoughts oblivious to what was going on around him. 70 more Chinese were found bound and gagged on various parts of the ship, all repeating the same story with only minor variations. There was not a clue of the attackers though. It was like they were ghosts. He listened to them absently while looking at the night sky. Day break was still hours away and he could virtually see his life and career disappear along with the night.