Shreya picked her knife and cleaned it diligently. She hated when her weapons were not in top shape and this was her favorite knife. She had killed over ten people with this knife alone, including her favorite one – a fifty-year-old ruthless drug lord who had decided to go against the military.
M.A.I.D. was a unique company in this regard. Neutral towards both gangsters and government, the firm basically worked on the principle of Chinese walls with different operatives working for enemy organizations. Once, she met her best friend Kane on the field while attempting to kill the heads of warring factions, being paid by the opposite leader. They both succeeded and the war ended with no victors. M.A.I.D., of course, got paid before the assignment. In the words of legendary #K, M.A.I.D.’s founder, ‘We are to murders what Switzerland is to money.’
Shreya’s phone started to ring and she answered it in the hope of a new assignment. She had been off work for almost ten weeks now and while money was not an issue, she was tired of not being in the thick of the action.
“Shreya! Kane here.”
“Hey, bud. What’s up?”
“I did something really stupid!” Kane said, his voice echoing the panic he was feeling.
“How stupid and who’s the girl?” Shreya asked lazily. This wasn’t the first time Kane was calling her saying this and when Kane said this, it meant there was a girl involved.
“No. This is serious. I have to meet you right now. Please save me.” Kane pleaded. Shreya got up and her senses heightened.
“You know where I’m. Come.”
It was always wise to not say personal things over the phone even if the line was secure and it was a normal time. And Kane’s voice told Shreya that things were worse than normal.
“I’m outside your house,” Kane said and knocked.
Shreya opened the door with her gun in her hand. Kane flinched looking at the gun but entered. She did a check around the house and it was fine. She also did Kane’s physical and he looked unharmed, just haggard.
“I shot someone.”
“That’s your job.”
Kane told her the whole story of his previous assignment in which he was competing and he ended up shooting his partner.
“Is she alive?”
“Yes. My manager told me that she’s alive… and pissed.”
“Of course, she is pissed. If that was me, I would have killed you on the spot.”
“My manager said the same thing. She’s coming after me.”
“Urghhh.” Shreya said and threw a pillow at Kane. “You idiot! What made you do that?”
“I just got jealous. She’s so much better than me. I don’t know what took over me. I would apologize but I doubt it means much once you have shot someone.”
“I can’t protect you forever,” Shreya said truthfully.
“I know. Just for six weeks. After that, she will have her next assignment and I will find another place to hide.”
“You can stay here as long as you want. You are an idiot but I won’t let you die.”
“Thanks Shreya!” Kane said and hugged her.
Shreya took her to a safe room in the house.
“This will be your room. It has no windows that can be breached and no way for an assassin to attack you. Now, until I tell you, we are under lockdown.”
Shreya went out to initiate the lockdown protocol in the whole house. This basically meant that her house was now a fortress with double the security and no chance of an assassin get in the house at all. On a normal day, these protocols would consume too much time for her to do even the most basic activities. Besides, this also meant she can’t have guests or create the facade of having a normal life.
Kane laid down on the bed and heard a gunshot.
“SHREYA!” He shouted and went outside. His gun was in one hand and a knife in another. Years of training meant he was prepared even when he was relaxing. Kane heard a few more gunshots and when he got in the living room, Shreya was hiding behind a couch.
“Go back! I’ll take care of this.” Shreya hissed.
“No. This is my mess. I won’t leave you alone.” Kane said and Shreya gave him a look. Kane recognized the look instantly. It was the same look she gave him when she told him any of his breakup stories. She was basically screaming – ‘I’m done with your stupidity. Now scoot.’ Kane took a couple of steps backwards.
“Better,” Shreya said and took a shot. It was not a normal gun and the smoke grenade burst just outside the front lawn. This meant that no one from outside could see what was happening inside the house. This also meant that the next attack was a barrage of bullets from outside.
In that time, Shreya tapped on her phone a few times and a few windows changed colors. She was using the smoke to complete the security protocol of her house. Once the smoke cleared, there were a few more gunshots but they didn’t reach the house anymore.
“She can attack all she wants but nothing would help her. Unless she decides to destroy the whole house which let’s hope she’s not going to do.” Shreya said and called on her phone.
“Who are you calling?”
Her manager picked the phone. Shreya explained to her the situation.
“You know I can’t help you as long as you are protecting him,” her manager said.
“I know but I want to know what’s M.A.I.D.’s stand is on this situation and can she blow up my house.”
“I doubt she will do it as long as you’re in it. She knows she can’t kill you, even accidentally. If she kills you, she will basically lose her operative status.”
“Let’s hope she cares about that,” Shreya said.
“I hope you know what you are doing. Is he that important?”
“Yes,” Shreya said and cut the phone. They had been friends since childhood and he had been there for her always. He was the one who introduced M.A.I.D. to her and helped her come out of the life of poverty and aimlessness she had been living before. Shreya looked at him and her heart melted.
“If he’s not worth saving, no one is worth saving,” she whispered to herself.
“It’s gonna take more than six weeks, isn’t it?” Kane asked meekly.
“It’s good. I think I needed some social isolation. We have inventory to stay put for at least six months. And I can go out once she’s on a mission.”
Shreya put her arm around him.
“Not until it’s safe.”