|Third party ripoff
Author: pl12 PM
Atul works covert operations for the CID. When he is sent to investigate a drug cartel's involvement, in the financing of international terrorism, he finds himself in the lion's den. The only person who seems to be on his side is the scary but very intriguing arms dealer, Nishant. But things are not what they seem. Prequel to " The truth behind his lies".Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Suspense - Chapters: 10 - Words: 37,842 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-14-12 - Published: 08-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8473961
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N : Hi, friends. I think, you are surprised since i told you that i am currently working on the sequel to " The truth behind his lies." But i think, you people also deserve a prequel, to know all the players involved in the above series. So, hence this prequel is born.
When Atul signed up with the CID, he believed that he was going to be one of the good guys. He knew that being a CID officer was not going to be glamorous, and he was aware of it. Still, he had not expected to feel as bad about himself as he did now. He still believed in the cause. But he was not proud of his actions.
Atul had spent the last eleven months working his way up through the hierarchy of an international drug cartel. He had climbed up the steep ladder relatively fast, earning trust and gathering information in a painstaking process that was filled with actions Atul never wanted to do.
Normally, drugs were not on the CID's list of targets. But there was evidence that bound the group, Atul had slowly wormed his way into to a big flow of cash that had ended up funding terrorist acts posing a definite threat to any civilized country.
By now Atul always felt the need to roll his eyes at expressions like "civilized countries". He had learned the hard way, that there was no black and white, and he knew that his life was dancing on the tight-rope of criminal activity most of the time. He had overstepped the bounds a few times, and his stomach churned uneasily at the thought.
Finally, Atul had edged closer to his actual target and left the petty drug-dealing and smuggling behind. For several weeks, Atul had been the personal assistant of a man called Richard Speight.
Richie was the kind of man Atul hated. He was ruthless and egocentric and he used to treat people like they meant nothing to him, and he pushed Atul around like a slave. But Richie was also one of the smoothest salesmen, Atul had ever seen. The man was a snake, and he could sell postcards to blind people. He was the kind of guy, they sent to negotiations. He was the person, who made sure that wherever money would flow, there would be a lot of profit for little expenditure.
Richard Speight was the man Atul needed. He was connected and he was involved and Atul was glued to his heels.
This was how Atul walked into the room, one step behind Richie, towering over him. Atul did not have to try to look over the other man's shoulder, since he was easily a head taller than him. Even though it might have appeared that way, Atul was no bodyguard. He was not even supposed to know how to do martial arts. But, of course, it was good for Richie's ego that he could enter a room with his personal giant, tailing him like an overgrown puppy.
Today, Atul was sure, would be a special day. There was a new tension in the air and it practically sizzled around them on their way to the meeting. Maybe he had even get closer to his initial goal and finally step out of the world of peddling cheap drugs towards the flow of money that lay behind his long search.
As he ducked through a low door, his eyes scanned the room around them. One woman and three men were already there.
Richie greeted a brunette woman clad in an expensive suit, who had an air of self-confidence and nonchalance that was beyond price. She emitted the cold authority of an ice queen as Richie flamboyantly kissed her hand and brought out the big guns. He flirted shamelessly, and Atul was sure that his winks were probably an insult to such a woman.
Atul recognised her face from pictures he had been shown before but he could not place her correctly. One thing was sure though.
She was more than just another drug dealer.
Atul's fingers started to itch, and he really regretted not bringing anything but the small gun in his jacket, and the knife that was tucked in his boot, but his cover was dealer turned gangster, and not Rambo turned spy. He did not know where his instinct came from but this woman was bad news.
As her first name slipped over Richie's lips, Atul had to school his features not to give himself away.
Yes, he definitely recognized that name, and the puzzle fell into place.
Lauren Cohan was anything but a nobody. She was not a big player with any of the organisations Atul was gunning for, but she was definitely a sign that he was on the right track.
Cohan was a middleman.
If you needed to get in contact with anyone on the CID watch list, Cohan could plug you in or at least set up a meeting with someone who could. The woman was dangerous , and Atul would just love to turn her in, but she had been caught before, and nothing had come from it. She was too careful for that as were her contacts. How she had ever got out again was still an unexplained miracle.
The look of undisguised disgust on her face at Richie's obviousness made Atul look away, trying not to start laughing, or just staring like someone who knew too much.
As Atul's eyes skimmed away from the two people in the middle of the room, they fell onto a man standing in a corner. The two other guys that stood close to Ms. Cohen wore suits and could easily be identified as Lauren's bodyguards. But this man was different. He did not wear any high business fashion, the way the rest of them did, but a pair of really well fitting jeans, and a leather jacket. The attire looked anything but ragged or cheap but still comfortable.
The thing that set Atul off was the man's eyes. They were trained on him. Everybody else in the room had assessed him during their entry and had by now shifted their attention to Richie, filing him as the less important of the two unless he made any suspicious movements. But this man did not even spare Richie a second look, and Atul found himself staring back in a game of chicken.
Atul felt a slow sweat breaking out on the back of his neck. Had he seen someone look at him like this anywhere but here, he felt like a fish out of water and those looks were simply predatory, and that too, in a room filled to the brim with criminals of the worst kind, he felt his stomach churning.
Predatory, indeed. Atul gulped.
He lost their staring match when Richard slapped him on the arm, harder than absolutely necessary. " Yeh mera associate hai, Barun."
Atul forced a smile and tilted his head to greet the woman in front of him. She gave him a quick once over with cold eyes, without greeting him back.
" Theek hai, Mr. Speight, toh kaam ki baat kare." Cohen looked nearly bored, and Atul had an uneasy feeling.
Richie grazed the woman with another shark-like grin.
Atul saw movement on the periphery of his vision and his eyes snapped back to the yet-nameless man in the casual attire as he stepped out of his bubble of invisibility. Finally Richard's attention was pulled to the stranger as well, and Atul noticed his stance growing more rigid. " Kaun hai yeh? Yeh hum logo ki aapsi mamla hai, Lauren."
The woman only shrugged. " Yeh Mr. Nishant hai, jo ki aapke transporter hai."
Atul wished he had not only brought a bigger gun but the whole CID team as he watched the drama unfold before his eyes.
Richard did not deal well with being ignored, and he lived with what Atul thought, was a Napoleon complex. He was a small guy, who only felt satisfied when other men, especially tall men, did as he said. He valued authority, as long as it belonged to him. Being left out of the loop made Richard angry, and the man had the mentality of a Terrier: bark a lot and bite from behind.
" Yeh humare agreement ke hisaab nahi hai. Hum log transport ka mamla khud sambhal sakte hai!"
Lauren raised an eyebrow at Nishant, who just cocked his head to one side, like an interested puppy, his face unreadable.
"Richard…" She drawled out his name with a lascivious edge that Atul had heard more often that he cared about. She was pulling the sexy-woman card. At these moments, Atul was glad that he was engaged. " Woh log dope ke liye itne paisa nahi de sakte. Mujhe pata hai yaha India mein kaam kaise hota hai. Par tumhare baaki partners ko hoshiyar rehna chahiye. And they need to go via less direct channels, since they have a bigger picture to care about. Mr Nishant, here is very good in bringing big loads of illegal material through very small holes."
"I don't care." Richards's teeth were clenched, and Atul knew that the man was on the verge of exploding and shooting everyone in the room. "This was not part of our AGREEMENT."
Lauren chuckled. For the love of God, she actually chuckled. "Now now, Richard. Your people agreed that we do whatever I see fit to make this work when they brought me in to handle things. There's a lot of money changing hands here and we decided that this was our best option."
"You should have checked with me FIRST." As Lauren did not seem to buckle, and her silent companion did not even attempt to speak, Richard's nose went up considerably.
"Forget it. I won't deal with people who can not respect agreements. We are out of here."
"This is not your decision to make, Richard."
Atul was startled by the deep voice that came from Lauren's side. After all the strong and silent attitude, Atul had not expected Mr. Nishant to speak anytime soon. His voice was as intriguing as his appearance. The calm nonchalance, and slight mockery lacing the words made Atul squirm a little, taking a small step backwards. He had a bad feeling.
"Shut up! I AM the one making the decisions here."
"Your bosses sent you here to be a negotiator. You are failing at that. Consider yourself fired."
All the alarms in Atul's head went off, but he was not fast enough. Maybe the shocking turn of events slowed Atul's brain down for the fraction of a second, but that was not normally the way his mind worked. However, he saw the trafficker produce a semi-automatic gun from the folds of his jacket with the practised ease that came with years of training, and a mindset that did not hesitate even for a moment when it came to killing.
Atul stepped to the side and reached for his own sidearm, opening his mouth to shout a warning to Richie, whose eyes grew wide. But before Atul's warning hit home, there was the ear-drum vibrating bang of gunfire, and Richie's body jerked backwards as the bullet pierced his forehead and annihilated the back of his skull. A red cloud sprayed behind him as his body flopped to the floor.
Atul knew his warning shout had turned into a terrified yell, but he did not hesitate to bring his own gun to level. Obviously, the so called Nishant, who had just killed Atul's boss had expected him to react and did not even wait for Richie's body to hit the ground but turned to Atul as the bloody mist was still drifting through the air. Atul had no time to pull the trigger and his gun was not yet high enough to aim, when a booted foot connected with his wrist. He could not help letting go of the gun and the contact sent a spike of pain down his arm and into his fingers, and the gun cluttered to the floor while Atul clutched his wrist to his chest. He once more cursed the fact that he had not brought any other weapons since his knife was no good when faced with a gun.
Even if he had had an arsenal up his sleeve though, it probably would not have helped him. This Nishant guy was good. Extremely good. Atul had gone through long and hard training, before he was allowed to work covert operations, but this man was not just fast and strong. He was deadly efficient, and most of all, ruthless enough not to hesitate.
Atul's eyes met those of his attacker, and he wondered why he did not have a bullet between his eyes yet.
Maybe a second had passed since his gun was sent flying. It might not seem like a long time, but judging by Nishant's speed with the first shot, he could have snuffed Atul twice already without straining himself.
Funny enough, Nishant just stood there gun raised, and chin held high. "Barun, right?"
Atul could not help frowning. Not that he was not happy not to be another body slowly rotting on the floor, but this was strange. Hell, everything today had been strange. He only nodded in silent acknowledgement to his name – well cover name actually.
"Good. Do not do anything stupid, Barun. I would hate to kill you too."
He knew that asking such a question was pushing his luck, since he should just take the lucky turn on faith for now, but he could not help himself.
"Because you have just been promoted."
A mischievous smile spread over Nishant's lips, and Atul would have found that unbelievable, were he not still fearing for his life. The mean sting in his wrist was a vivid reminder of that.
"Hands behind your head and face to the wall, Barun. I am gonna pat you down. Do not try anything stupid or I will break your other arm as well."
Nishant's stern voice left no space for argument, and Atul raised his arms, hands resting on his hair. He winced a little at the painful pull in his injured hand but swallowed it down and turned to face the wall.
He heard steps behind himself and fidgeted a little. By now he had to give it to the other man, that he probably really did not plan to kill Atul, yet.
That was the only reason Atul did as asked without trying to overcome Nishant, as the man's hands touched his shoulders, pushing him against the wall. Granted, Atul would probably have lost any physical struggle if that kick had been any indicator, because with the pain that still filtered through his dominant hand, the other man had a certain head-start. Hopefully, it was just a bad sprain and not a fracture, because he really did not have six weeks to let the bones mend again.
Atul could not help but shiver a little as strong hands pushed against him, gliding over his arms and shoulders, across his sides and down his spine before moving around him to pat down his chest.
Atul took a deep breath as Nishant traced down the outside of his thighs and calves until he reached Atul's boots. Skilled hands pulled the legs of Atul's pants up one at a time, fingers tracing the rim of the boots before dipping in around the ankles, making sure not to miss a hidden holster. Nishant did not even comment as he took Atul's back-up knife and repeated that motion on the other leg as well, before his hands moved up the inside of Atul's legs.
"You are clean, boy. Who would have thought?"
Nishant's eyes twinkled, and Atul felt his Adam's apple move up and down as he swallowed hard, locking gazes with the murderous man. He was so screwed.
A female laugh brought him back to reality, and he saw Lauren standing next to Richie's lifeless body, looking down at him with pursed lips. "I should scold you for killing people all the time, Nishant, but you did me quite a favour with snuffing Rich. He was just disgusting."
"Glad to be of service." Nishant made a mock bow to the woman before scooping down to pick up Atul's gun, checking the safety and magazine with skilled fingers before tucking it away in the back of his jeans.
Atul reminded himself of the seriousness of his situation as he replayed Lauren's words. It should unsettle him that Nishant was said to kill people all the time, but he could not help finding the man more intriguing than disturbing. It was against anything he had ever learned in training. Anything but rule number one: Never ignore your gut feeling. Atul's gut feeling was to trust Nishant, as crazy as that sounded. The man had not yet done anything to hurt Atul. Granted, he had probably broken Atul's wrist. But considering that Atul wanted to shoot him, he could really be thankful Nishant did not snap his neck like a twig. The agent was pretty sure he could have done so.
Atul swallowed around the lump in his throat again. He did not know what to do now. Richard was supposed to take the lead, and Atul was there to carry his bags and loom behind him. But now things had changed, and Atul was not even sure why they had come here in the first place. He knew the rough details Richard had given him, but the real deal was still a mystery to him.
Nishant had said he was 'promoted'. Did that mean they expected him to take over negotiations in Richard's stead?
He had negotiated before, mainly hostage situations and paramilitary conflicts, but then he had time to prepare, and a line of people in his back whispering in his ear. Now he was alone, and only half prepared. This could be his chance to make a leap further in his assignment in dimensions, one usually needed years for. But it could also break his neck like a well aimed baseball bat. If the syndicate he was working for – the one he had infiltrated for over a year already – thought he had anything to do with Richard's death, he was a dead man.
He needed to protect his back. Somehow. Strangely, the one person Atul could hope on to save his back right now, the one person who had apparently meant well with him up to this point, was the guy who had brought the whole mess down on his head in the first place. If Atul got Nishant on his side, then maybe – just maybe – he had somewhere to run when his bosses wanted to chop off his head without letting down the whole operation.
God, DCP sir is going to kill him, if he came to know of this.
It was risky. But it was worth a shot.
Atul watched as Lauren's guards dragged Richie's body from the room, a trail of blood smeared on the floor. He made a note to himself not to step in it and even less slip in it to find himself face down in a puddle of quickly cooling, and slowly clotting blood.
Lauren was on the phone, talking silently but urgently with someone, and Atul fidgeted nervously. His eyes skimmed from Lauren, striding about the far end of the room, to Nishant, leaning next to him on the wall.
"I think she's talking to your bosses."
Atul stiffened and trailed wide eyes on Nishant. "What is she saying ?"
Nishant shrugged and Atul could see a shoulder holster holding a semi-automatic. He was sure that Nishant had pulled his gun from the other side before. That meant he came packing heavy artillery.
Atul could not help letting a small nervous laugh leave his lungs and he scratched the back of his neck nervously with his other hand. "Thanks for not shooting me, Mr. Nishant."
Nishant wrinkled his nose a little. "Just Nishant."
"But, is not Nishant your last name?"
Atul was pushing it, he knew that. But his training made him fish for any information he could possibly get on the new player in this game.
"Nishant is one of the common last names in India. Does not mean, you have to call me Mister anytime soon. There are hundreds of Mr. Nishant's around and I do not care to be one of them, so I am just Nishant."
"Why not just use your first name then?"
"Maybe my first name is not good as yours." Nishant gave him a small smile and Atul considered that for a moment and then shrugged. He had a point.
"So, what does Barun stand for?"
Atul was a little unsure when they had entered the realm of pleasant small-talk, but he was glad enough to go along.
"Barun is Barun. Nothing more, nothing less."
Well, not glad enough to actually tell him his REAL name of course.
Nishnat cocked an eyebrow and shook his head a little. "Does not suit you."
Atul graced him with a small smile of his own. He knew it did not, but using his real name was out of question, and Barun is not at all that suspicious.
Nishant also smiled and Atul watched him, and he had to wonder, at the things going on in Nishant's mind, at that moment.