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Chapter 23: The Sixteenth Hour Begins

Team Supernova at it again. We are a bunch of bloggers who have decided to write this massive story called The 16th Hour. You can read the previous chapter here. Or go to our brand new Facebook page to read all the chapters.

The first light of dawn shone brightly in the distance. The sun was not up yet but it was promising to see the speck of bright light shine. Shekhar glanced at the rising Sun and realize the time was coming to an end. Soon the sun will rise and brightly bringing their safety to a standstill. Shekhar realized that in a few minutes he had to decide if he was going to go down or take the fight back to the hijackers. He knew he could trust no one for what he carried was more important for safety of his country, his family and future of all children in the country. There was only one thing to do.

Cyrus was glancing at the end of the door for some time now; there were two guards at each end of the compartment. Even if they snuck past them where would they go? Jennifer was thinking, there were only two directions they could run and either way there was no escape.

The walkie talkie of the guards buzz and he walked in. "Your time is up," said the guard pulling Jennifer by her shoulder, "Come with me."

"Nooo..." Jennifer screamed, "Please...I ... please... I had..." she clutched Cyrus collar, "help me please."

"Stop that," Cyrus stood near in front of the guard, "If you want to take her, you take me as well."

"Your turn will come," the guard smashed the butt of his gun on Cyrus head, "Don't meddle in our affairs." Cyrus collapsed on the ground and the guards dragged the screaming Jennifer out of sight towards the next bogie.

Shekhar knelt down besides Cyrus who was dizzy from the blow to his head. When the guards left two passengers gathered around them, “They are targeting you, why?”

“It’s a long story but if we want to live to see tomorrow, we need to fight back,” Shekhar said.

“They said they will leave us once they capture you,” said another.

“They want something from us,” Cyrus replied, “I don’t have what they want with me. We are as good as dead.”

“We need distraction,” Shekhar said, “There is only one way to get out of this problem. We have to give him something, it will buy us time.”

“We need to save Jennifer,” Cyrus whispered, “They will torture her.”

“We can help you,” said one passenger. Another one stood up from behind, “Yeah we could take over.”

"We need to take the guards at our gate first then walk over to the other side where they have taken Jennifer," Cyrus said. “There is one guard at this gate but we do not know many on the other side.”

“Let’s deal with one problem first,” Shekhar said, “Lets tackle this guard and we have one side open.” 

Shekhar sprang into action and grabbed his shoulder bag from the rack.

“Why do you need it for?” Cyrus asked.

“Leverage,” Shekhar said, “Let’s go.”

The guard was getting irritated standing near the smelly toilet of the train. His job sucked. First he had to stand in a train outside a bogey to keep an eye on three people. Second there was foul smell of the toilet and since nobody was going to clean it, it was disturbing him. Third, there was AC inside the cabin but his boss had asked him to stand outside the door. There had to be a better job, he thought to himself. If only he had studied, he could have got better jobs. But it was too late for that.

The next bogey was empty, for some reason his boss had not placed two guards on the other side. Only one bogey had two guards on each side, others had few placed. But of course working in this organization he knew, physical security didn’t matter. His company owned data and information. They were good at misusing it. Even if someone did escape this train, their data won’t be safe, will it? 

Lost in his own thoughts the guard yawned, nothing exciting happened since he came on duty today. Such boring days. Wham! A big knock on his head jolted him back to senses. He looked around for source of the attack. Turning around, he saw Shekhar holding the shoulder bag. Shekhar had some weight inside the bag with which he had hit the guard.

“That hurt,” the guard said pulling out a semi-automatic gun, “I have a gun.”

A group of four people jumped over the guard, one of them snatched the gun from him. Someone smashed the guard on his head and he fell unconscious. Before anyone could react, Shekhar dashed out to the next bogey ignoring them. He had no clue how he was going to face any guards on the way. But he had a plan. Or maybe a part of the plan. 

Cyrus looked at Shekhar running away but decided on saving Jennifer, “He clearly planned on running, took his bag with him. Let me focus, I need to rescue Jennifer.”

As the group headed towards the door they became dead quiet and positioned themselves next to the archway. There were four guards in this passage, perhaps guarding someone else too. “We need to take them all by surprise,” said one whispering. 
“Let’s attack fast.” said another.

They all were busy staring at the door that none could see two mask men standing from the passenger seat tiptoe behind them. “You think,” said one of them standing near them. He was pointing a semi-automatic MP4, “That we will take over the train with help of few illiterate guards?”

Everyone froze and turned around, “Hands where I can see them, my hand are shaky and this is an MP4.”

Three more masked-men stood up from the seats. “Xombie is all about deception,” one of them said, “We are everywhere.”

The guards standing outside had now stepped in followed by Sasha behind them.
“What is happening here? A revolution?” Sasha exclaimed, “Cyrus, you break my heart. I thought you were smarter than this.”

“Where is Jennifer?” Cyrus asked.

“Ooh,” Sasha exclaimed, “You came to rescue her, is it? With this band of boys? This day is getting better and better.”

“And all these heroes,” Sasha said, “Round them up and stash them in the food compartment. I like heroes, I really do but I like my mission more.”

“Sasha,” Shekhar’s voice boomed on the speakers, “You made a mistake didn’t you? You didn’t come here to get evidence from me. You came here to cover your tracks. Xombie made a mistake, didn’t it?” 

Shasha ordered the guards, “He is in the control room, hurry up get him.”
“You see all this while I was wondering why you were after me? After all Tara had the information about Xombie not me, why me? I am just a writer; I did not meddle in your affairs. First, I thought you were here to pressurize Tara. She has sensitive information about Xombie and she can make it public. But then the information is your domain, you control the internet don’t you? Why was it that you choose to hijack the Rajdhani? What was the one thing this train didn’t have?”

“What about these people?” the guard asked, “Shekhar is priority one. Just keep these people contained, we need four guns here.”

“Communication,” Shekhar continued, “You isolated this train from the outside world. No internet, no phone and no communication. See Sasha, you guys were perfect. You Hijacked a train, you endangered my family and for what? For some information, no, you wanted something more. See Xombie does not need information; you already have more than you need. No Xombie needed a platform, a massive hijack. That was a brilliant platform. But then at the end of it, you need a fall guy, don't you?”

Sasha dashed through the compartments after compartments. He knew where the voice was booming from, he had used it before.

“Imagine the sensation; a lone group hijacks a train right under the nose of the government. But there is one thing you underestimated Sasha and that is the power of a common man. You are a prisoner on this train just like us aren't you?”

Heads turned from passenger seats as Sasha made way to the control room.

“See, there are 2000 passengers on this train and by now I think they realize that they are stuck here till you guys say so. What do you think they will do when they realize that you are less than fifty?”

Sasha paused in his tracks and so did the guards, passengers start looking at them. Guards pulled out the guns.

“Protect me,” Sasha ordered his guards as passengers started looking at them.
“I know what you want Sasha and I know what you will do to get it,” Shekhar voice boomed across the train. “And perhaps by the end of today you will get what you want but I am going to make your life harder from this point.”

Escaping the agitated crowd Sasha reached the control room only to find Shekhar had his phone next to the mic. A voice recording app was playing the message and Shekhar was not there in the room.

“You want to capture me; you will have to find me first. Peek-a-boo.”

Sasha grabbed the phone and walked away, pissed out and angry. Shekhar was a dead man now.
 The gloves are off, the time is up, the situation heating up. What will happen next? What is Shekhar planning? Can he save his family, his country and his self? Will Roohi get her ice cream? You have to continue reading next
Me and my team are participating in "Game of Blogs" at"CelebrateBlogging with us.


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