The Kingmaker was in a pensive mood; the plan was hurtling close to the edge. The fact that they might hold out so long was not a thought that had even entered the mind of the Kingmaker at all; it was a simple operation: threaten, collect documents, and exit. The complications, or the fact that the targets might have a spine stronger than anticipated, had not even occurred in the planning. At least, not seriously.
A thought of the final solution was beginning to become more and more inevitable; the targets would have to be attended to finally. There was no other option that was available; not anymore. Not after the Mumbai team had failed so spectacularly that it had required intervention and overplay of the Kingmaker's hand.
"A pity it had to come to this, this was not part of the plan. I cannot see any way out of this matter, which is the sad part. The decision had to be taken; it was either them or us. Either we get what we want, or we have to eliminate all threads" the Kingmaker thought. "Wait a minute - we don’t have any option either way; the final solution has to be taken! Not after the Mumbai fiasco."
The regret in the mind of the Kingmaker was genuine; not so much out of humanitarian concern as out of the difficulty it created, and the obstacles that would have to be overcome. Killing was a serious thing; and to be resorted to only as a last resort. It created serious problems; admitted - but this was a situation that demanded self-preservation - or it was fast coming to that.
The Kingmakers' mind was riveted to a confrontation with Aryan, seemingly long back, when he had warned of Sasha's closeness with the family, and especially with Roohi. Now, in the heat of action, those thoughts came back with double force, and with sinister possibilities that seemed all too real in the high-pressure situation; possibilities that had seemed controllable and fantastic in the air-conditioned environs of the office with its comforts and assured safety.
"You can’t be serious!"
"I am perfectly serious about that. It can only be that person, for the reasons we discussed. Well, ok, the reasons I stated. I understand your doubts, but the one objection can easily be overcome. You see, the objection part of it - Roohi, and by extension Tara, will be taken care of by you and your team. Sasha will take care of the others, who will be nowhere near Roohi or Tara."
"Look, I don’t want any hindrances, any exceptions or any obstacles. Can’t you understand the risks? We need to be able to take the call on Tara in time. We can’t afford any goof-ups on this! You know that as well as I do. Remember the Sarkar problem? And what it almost cost us, and what we had to do to bring him online again? One lifeline is all one gets, and even more than one usually gets in this business! We have used up all the luck we have! You may be the boss - but I am not with you on this."
"Let me do the thinking, ok? You just follow orders! I know exactly what you are capable of in that department, Aryan! So just shut up! Sasha will never have the opportunity to do anything about Roohi, can’t you see that, you moron? Sasha will be in the bloody train, you idiot! If we decide to say a permanent bye-bye to Tara and Roohi, what the hell can Sasha do about it?"
"Hello - we are in this together! Don’t go bossing me around!"
"You want a reminder? I can arrange it, you know that well enough!"
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Sheeshe ke gharon mein... clichéd dialogue, but it fits. Kehete hain samajhdar ko ishaaraa kaafi hotaa hai..."
It had taken some doing, befuddling everyone to believe we are only after non-Indian targets and that too after India's enemies! But the risk was well worth it, it sunk the power lobby and the cops as well who were very slow and lackadaisical in any action against us, The Kingmaker thought.
Why should we go after Indian targets initially, and bring on the cops onto us? Idiotic, given the state of cyber crime detection in India! Especially when there are 5 juicy and massive takings to go after in India as well and shall we say, friendly police force will be an asset when we do go after them? Damn these amateur fools for intervening, with that thought, The Kingmaker's mind went again to the main obstacle Sasha.
Sasha, the mystery. The indescribable Sasha, impossible to read or to predict. Hard to control, driven by seemingly, money.
Sasha, the action hero, a person with a stellar record, and a massive score to settle.
Sasha, the enigma and the only team member with the resources to pull this off. From the start, Sasha had been both the trickiest, as well as the most indispensable; thought the Kingmaker.
The reasons for the Kingmaker's thoughts were easy to fathom: The Kingmaker delved in cyber-space, while Aryan, the man of action, did not have field experience of the kind but Sasha had, or the contacts Sasha had. Sasha was the only one of the team who could put together the units for the kidnapping and the hijack. And Sasha could be totally cold-blooded, as both had learned in the first collision with Sasha. Sasha was a hunter extraordinaire, and a large part of the credit of the hunt for the leak and the information source, and recipients went to Sasha, with the real-world approach and realism which is the hallmark of a top cop that Sasha once was. And, over the years, Sasha had proven indispensable.
"What do you mean by take care of Sarkar if he gets uppity? I am warning you - don’t spill official blood. You have no idea how different the investigation and the focus becomes in murder cases involving cops and officials or politicians, or the scale of the hunt."
"Who said anything about big blood? Wake up! We aren’t even murderers, let alone political assassins - just decent small people after easy money."
"The boss is right; we aren’t in any bloody plans, if you get what I mean. Money, that is it. No killing. Our word on it, zubaan dete hain"
"You don’t understand- I have worked with Sarkar - don’t tangle with him. You almost did the first time, when I caught onto you; don’t forget. And don’t give me that crap of no bloodshed, got that? I know you guys like a book!"
"Aah, yes, the first time. And instead of squalling, you shook hands with the Boss - you don’t forget that"
"That is neither here nor there. Point is I know Sarkar; I know those people and their friends. Don’t be foolish. You fall afoul of them, you get hunted till the end of time - and that is not a joke"
"If they suspect anything, firstly. Secondly, we are the blue-eyed boys, or will be before we are through. No Indian targets, remember? Why would anyone suspect us? Thirdly, I would have to be a complete idiot to go after the Home Minister of the nation. Think I am a moron? Sasha, be practical and realistic. We don’t have any option. These people know way too much; they have to be dealt with one way or the other. Fourthly, you are right - we won’t shy away from anything to get what we want - within limits. As I said, I am not an idiot; no way I am having the entire national machinery on my back-trail"
"Exactly, Sasha. And regarding our targets, as the boss observes quite correctly, they know too much; and exposure can ruin us. Forever. Do you want that? We have no option. We need the proofs and the documents; that is all, nothing more. They have to be dealt with one way or the other"
"What the heck is this one way or the other? Be specific!"
"Endgame, my friend! The documents or endgame!"
"Indeed? Just a moment ago you specifically said we aren’t murderers? Tell me the whole truth or go rot in hell. I am out. And I mean that. And I am further not an Idiot - you touch any politician, or any cop - I walk out. In that case, my only chance of survival will be fingering you, and turning state's evidence. I am not fighting the entire Indian Machinery. A fool I am not. I know the system inside out. And, I am the only one among all of us who does..."
"Let me also be crystal clear, seeing as I know you better than anyone, as well as what you are capable of - one hair on Roohi's head, one hair and you are finished. Totally finished. I will kill you - get that straight. In fact, to hell with it. I am out, goodbye. Go rot in hell and I shall continue to protect Roohi, you hear? Try and hurt her. Open challenge!”
And as that last bit flashed through the mind, for the first time, doubt hit The Kingmaker, hard. "Why the hell had they ignored Sasha's words then? He obviously hadn’t abandoned them, but he didn’t have the reputation of doing everything that he told them. How could they be so foolish? It was painfully clear, in hindsight that Sasha had never been in their control, and was only in it for the money. Their inexperience in direct action and bricks-and-mortar realities had led them to depending too much on Sasha... or was it that Sasha was playing a deeper game. Perhaps using them, and wanting all the wealth for self?" thought the Kingmaker.
Aryan's original thought might just have been better; cut, cash in and run.