The 7 Innocents

John 7:24
'Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.'



Isaiah 64:6
'But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;'


It was when their problems seemed to wane that they escalated. The Australians all disappeared, and the seminary shut down. They were told to run for their lives. Told if they didn’t, their families would die. Told if they did, their families would still die.
They endeavoured to solve the mystery – one that threatened to destroy them and their families – but soon realised that to end it all, they must first find the Australians. But the closer they came to finding them, the more they began to see they should run and never come back.
The question, of course, is why they didn’t call the police.
The answer is simple.
You can’t avoid being condemned unless you’re innocent.
And these men are not.

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31. Chapter Thirty: The 7 Discoverers

 

 

Gopi’s messenger looked as if he were about to begin muttering away, explaining why their boss though their organisation was doomed to fail, but Gopi really didn’t want to hear it. He knew just as his boss did that their plan was unlikely – the enemy was too well prepared for it.

          ‘Don’t say why.’ He interrupted his colleague. ‘I don’t care.’

          The man remained silent for a while before asking, ‘what should I tell him?’

          Gopi shifted thoughtfully before replying. ‘You remember how I told you about those websites?’

          The man nodded.

          Gopi sighed. ‘I think it’s time to draw up that list.’

 

Chandan quickly discovered that Calvin was bad at explaining things. It wasn't that he didn't explain things; it was that he exaggerated everything. Chandan was glad when Balraj took over.

                'Let me explain. We work for the government – so does Vijay.... or rather, we all used to. See, Calvin and Vijay got tired of government business, and retried. They both went to the BSI, but – of course – you cannot simply retire from the government work. I was sent to keep an eye on them, and they stuck together to avoid me. None of us have families anymore. Calvin only has his wife, and that is because he has hidden her. You see, Calvin and Vijay were two of our best, though I am the best, arguably. And what a better way to hurt the government than to hurt their best men?'

                'We think they targeted you seven.' Calvin put in.

                Balraj nodded. 'Arjun was my friend; I took him under my wing: target number one. Vijay had a large family, target numbers two to about forty. And then there were the rest of you, at Calvin's table. He was too attached to you.'

                'So this has nothing to do with us?' Chandan asked, confused.

                'It does not.' Calvin groaned.

                'Look, you don't simply acquire a target, you research them too. Our enemy got lucky when they found you seven.'

                Chandan instantly knew why. 'Danny the drug-dealer.' He began a list. 'Mehmet the fanatic Muslim, Josha the gang-member and murderer, Suneep the spoilt, rich brat, me, the kidnapped, abused, thieving street-kid, and then the pliable Bikram and predictable Arjun.'

                ‘They picked you for exactly that reason.’ Calvin put in. ‘Not only did we like you, but you were perfect. You all had too many secrets – secrets which were all too easy to bend to their will.’

                'Who we hope is not predictable.' Balraj finished. 'Because at the moment he, Bikram, and Suneep are your only hope. There is nothing they can bring against them in a court of law.'

                Chandan paled, and Balraj sighed.

                'That explains why they are so confident. Look, you can tell me what happened later. I'll finish first.' 

Chandan nodded, greatly distressed.

                'So first came the Muslim attack. We know for a fact they prompted that one, persuaded the Muslims to listen to Mehmet's ridiculous plea. Of course, Mehmet thinks that's his fault – we say he was framed. Then came the Hindu attack – once again, prompted. They some-how persuaded Danny's friends not to believe in his ability to keep secrets. We think they may have been bribed.'

                'And then the picnic day,' Calvin cut in, 'which was a total disaster. Suneep was talking to the enemy – we were sure of that. At least, they were being used by the enemy. But that one sort of backfired when they were distracted by Vijay's rich cousin.'

                'This is where things get a little hazy.' Balraj took over. 'We're not sure if Vijay was trying to convince them not to take the Australians, or to take them.'

                'He said he was telling them not to take them.' Chandan helped.

                'Oh.' Balraj said, his face filling with sadness. 'So he is the enemy.'

                Chandan was even more confused by this, so Calvin explained things. 'Chances are, Vijay's lying.'

                Balraj sighed and continued his story. 'Bikram was being rough with Sanjay all day, hugging him far too tightly. A post mortem of Sanjay showed that he was, in fact, shot. Probably by a sniper.'

                'The epi-pen was stolen.' Calvin began explaining Braj's death. 'And the nurses were paid not to help. They confessed in tears.'

                'And when you switched beds with Vijay's young uncle, he was deliberately killed. They knew it wasn't you.'

                Chandan's head was spinning. 'So we were framed. But how can Vijay be the bad guy when it is his family that is dying? That makes no sense!'

                'Maybe,' Calvin reasoned, 'he is the bad guy because his family was dying. Maybe, after the Muslim and Hindu attacks he joined the enemy to prevent them from harming him any longer.'

                'Maybe he joined them at the picnic!' Chandan cried, sure he had worked it out.

                Balraj nodded. 'We can't know for sure – not yet. But you did not let me finish properly.'

                Chandan nodded seriously. 'I am sorry. Please continue.'

                Balraj did so. 'This is a very complex situation, but we think we have worked out the final plan. They said Arjun would crash the plane that took us all to Australia, yes?'

                'Yes.' Chandan replied.

                'Well, knowing Arjun as you do, how would you say that would happen?'

                Chandan frowned. 'They will somehow make him blow up the plane. Maybe strap a bomb to him.'

                Balraj nodded. 'That's what we were thinking. And on that plane will be you, your families, the Australians, and Vijay, right?'

                Chandan nodded. 'That is what it sounded like.'

                'As well as everyone else they have used.' Calvin put in. 'Us, if they're lucky.'

                'Okay,' Balraj nodded, 'but here's what we cannot work out: we understand them killing those they used. It is expensive to keep such people happy. We do not understand killing you, your families, or the Australians. Why would they want to do that?'

                Chandan could only think of one thing. 'Maybe they want to start a war with Australia.'

                Calvin laughed. 'You've seen too many films. That is ridiculous! India and Australia are both part of the Commonwealth – it would not make any sense at all for one to attack the other.'

                Chandan frowned. 'But if you think about what they have been doing...'

                'They have been targeting Vijay through you.' Balraj explained. 'And using you like puppets, controlling you through criminals and religious fanatics. The BSI did not have to close down to get peace, it had to expel us. Then you would be safe to this day, living normal lives.'

                Chandan smiled. 'That is a strange concept.'

                Calvin smiled too. 'So,' he asked, 'how do you propose solving this mystery?'

                'Didn't you say we were going to Vijay?'

                'Yes, but we don't have a plan.'

                'Oh, okay.' He paused to think, and then, slowly, smiled. 'I have a brilliant idea.'

                Balraj wasn’t really listening to Chandan, and interrupted before he could say what his idea was. ‘Chandan,’ he began, ‘do you still have that piece of paper Arjun gave you?’

                Chandan thought hard. A piece of paper? He had thought that so insignificant… why would Balraj be asking for it.

                ‘Yes.’ He said eventually, not sure if that was the right answer.

                Balraj sighed. ‘There is another reason for them to chase you. Chandan, I need those papers back. I don’t know where you seven have put them, but they are vital to stopping this. They contain classified information which could put your enemy’s organisation in jail.’

                Chandan blinked. ‘It’s a piece of paper with a list of websites on it.’

                Calvin impatiently jumped up before replying. ‘Yes. But let me just put it this way for you: the organisation was unable to wipe the sites off the internet completely, but they have hidden them. The only way in is through a direct link, and it’s all the evidence we have.’

                ‘Evidence of what?’ Chandan asked, but he didn’t really care. He knew what Calvin was saying.

                The insignificant piece of paper was their only way out.

 

Danny pushed his way off the packed train, desperate not to lose the men he was following. They led him down many dirty streets, until they finally reached a run-down house. After thinking things through for a moment, Danny took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

                Did he have a plan?

                No, he still didn’t have a plan.

The door opened, and Danny commenced his plan – whatever it was.

                'Please just explain everything.' He begged. 'Then you may kill me, if you want.'

                His friend seemed happy. 'Danny.' He whispered. 'No-one else is here. If I tell you everything do you think you can save us?'

                Danny nodded eagerly, and stepped inside the house.

 

Josha and his friends arrive at a building that – while ugly – was well kept.

                'Ready?' He asked his friends.

                The men nodded, and bravely surrounded the house. Then they knocked on the door.

The door did not open, and Josha nodded. Two of his friends approached.

                'One, two.' Josha mouthed. Then, together, they ran into the door.

                The thing was solid, and it was the hinges that gave way. The door fell to the ground, and a tall blonde screamed as she was nearly crushed.

                'Emma!' Josha cried, as people came running.

 

Suneep walked uncertainly into the Hindu temple.

This was the seventh temple he’d seen thus far, after checking the Buddhist temples, and even the Catholic monasteries. He did not like being in religious places, particularly when he did not believe in the religion it was endorsing. But he had to be here. The Australians had to be here.

He struggled to drag his suitcase up the stairs, and was soon met by a young monk – about ten years of age. The young man began carrying his suitcase for him.

                'Thank you.' Suneep said, a little embarrassed. Then, followed by the young monk, he approached the first monk he saw.

                It was a young male monk, in front of a large statue of Krishna. Beside him was an older, angry looking devotee to Hinduism. But the strange part was the way in which the older monk seem to be commanding the other – and the younger seemed to be refusing to comply.

Suneep smiled as the older man yelled at the younger to worship. The younger said nothing, only turned his face away. Angrily, the elder slapped him so that he fell the way he had been looking.

That was when he saw Suneep.

The young man’s face initially filled with relief and hope, but then it fell.

                'S-s...' The man stammered.

                Suneep beamed. 'Josiah Grae. Good to finally see you. Where are the others?'

                As if on cue, Samuel Rickson and David Matthews walked in, also followed by angry looking older monks, these ones with whips. Suneep smiled smugly at their shocked reactions.

 

 

Bikram followed Mikael through the crows until the man motioned for him to stop.

                'Here is the taxi I called.' The man explained, as a car pulled up. The two men rushed in and settled down for the long drive.

                On the plus side, Bikram thought, he had made a new friend.

Bikram quickly worked out where they were headed. 'Are we going to Mussoorie?' He asked, just to make sure. Mikael nodded.

 

Mehmet enjoyed riding to Mussoorie. The mountain views were glorious, and the air – while cold – was pure and refreshing. He dared not take his helmet off entirely, but he did put the visor up.

                He fancied himself as a spy, in stealth mode, but felt somehow that was far from the truth. All he was doing was taking a ride up to Mussoorie, a tourist town in the mountains.

                Brilliant. He was so stealthy.

 

Arjun hadn't lost his stalker yet, and began to realise where they were headed. He'd been to Mussoorie before, as the BSI had made a day trip to the place whenever it snowed. Despite the fact that he would be putting his life at risk by following his stalker, he still enjoyed the ride.

                Arjun felt a little like a spy from a movie, because every time his stalker did a head check he had to pull back. Stay around the bend, or make sure he was in a blind spot. In some cases he even risked driving behind another vehicle, though not very often, as the road was empty more often than not.

 

Chandan rolled his eyes, as Calvin and Balraj knocked on the bathroom door again.

                'Hurry up, princess!' Calvin shouted. 'How long does it take to get dressed?!'

                Chandan put the finishing touches on his outfit and opened the door. Calvin and Balraj's mouths instantly dropped.

                'That is perfect.' Balraj complemented. 'How did you do that?'

                Chandan rolled his eyes. 'It took a long time.'

Chandan knocked on the door to Vijay's mansion and used these few seconds it took for the door to open to compose himself.

                'Chandan Sanee!' The woman cried upon opening the door.

                Chandan tried not to smile when he saw Liberty. 'I need to speak to Vijay.'

                Liberty looked around to see if he was being followed, and correctly decided he was not. Chandan walked into the house.

 

Arjun waited impatiently for his stalker to leave, sprawled carelessly over his motorbike.

                Suddenly, the man stormed out, yelling something in Hindi. A familiar voice shouted back at him, and he drove off angrily. Arjun smiled.

                He had found Ardi.

 

Danny's conversation went well, and he was even served chai. His cup was washed and put away as soon as he finished his drink. That was when the door opened.

Danny threw himself onto his friend immediately and began screaming.

                'Let me go!' He roared, wriggling away from the man as the leaders walked into the room.

                The windows had iron bars, so the door was the only escape. Madly, Danny raced towards the newcomers, who withdrew their weapons. His friends were obliged to do the same in pretense.

 

 

Gangsters came running out, but Josha's group had the advantage.

                Timmy – the smallest of Josha's friends – stood at the bottom of the stairs hitting buff men with a frying pan.

                'Sweet job.' Josha complemented him, as he tried to round up the Australians.

                One of the gangsters pulled out a gun, and the situation intensified

 

'Get the others.' Suneep commanded, and Samuel ran off.

                A tough looking man – obviously a guard – stepped out, and Suneep knew he would be in trouble if he wasn't clever.

                'Hey.' He greeted the man.

                The guard frowned and lunged for Suneep. Suneep jumped out the way.

 

Arjun's conversation with Ardi had quickly turned into an argument.

                'Leave me alone!' She screamed, walking away.

                Arjun frowned and grabbed the girl's arm. Suddenly she screamed – the most high-pitched scream Arjun had ever heard in his life. Women came running out, but Arjun wasn't particularly worried... until they pulled out guns.

                Arjun panicked, and scooped Ardi up with difficulty, as she wriggled madly. He had to use all his strength to make sure that he held on to Ardi without hurting her. She quieted down a bit when he sped off on his motorbike.

 

Chandan couldn't believe how well his conversation with Vijay was going. He hoped Balraj and Calvin didn't do something stupid to ruin it.

                The door burst open, and three guards walked in. Chandan sighed, as Balraj and Calvin were dragged in.

                'Help!' Calvin cried, and Balraj rolled his eyes.

                Chandan was extremely frustrated. 'You are the worst spy ever!' He screamed. Then he turned to Vijay. 'Sorry about this.'

                The guards rushed forward, and Chandan switched into aggressive mode.

 

 

The guard tripped over Suneep's suitcase and landed on the floor as Samuel came running back with 5 men.

                'Where are the others?' Suneep asked, ducking as the guard tried to punch him.

                'Eight were kidnapped, Alyssa escaped, Liberty was married, Ardi relocated for causing trouble, and two brainwashed and sent to live as Indians.'

                'Where are they?'

                'How should I know?!'

                'Let's go.' Suneep said, heaving his suitcase and throwing it against the guard's face. The man fell, stunned, to the floor, and Suneep ran out with the 7 Australians.

 

The four girls fled immediately, and were followed shortly by four men. Josha's group followed suit, terrified of the guns. Somebody fired the first shot, and a window shattered. Timmy ran out of the building, covering his head with the frying pan.

                'Get in the car!' Josha screamed, even though everyone already was.

 

'Mehmet?' Bikram cried, looking out his window.

                Mehmet turned casually as the car paused and gasped when he saw Bikram.

                'Bikram!' He cried.

                There were gunshots, and a motorbike came into view. The bike tore along the winding roads, and was followed closely by a beat-up car, filled with angry women that were armed.

                'Arjun!' Bikram cried, as the rider tore past.

                'Ardi!' Mehmet cried, paling.

                Mikael was confused. 'Those are her friends... she must be getting kidnapped again!'

                'Turn around!' Bikram yelled at the driver.

                'Follow that bikie!' Mikael added.

                Mehmet had the same idea, and was already tearing after Arjun and the angry ladies with guns.

 

Danny savagely bit one of the men's hands. He screamed, and dropped his weapon. Then, dramatically, Danny pushed his way through the men and out the door.

                'Get him!' The man with the now bleeding hand cried.

                Danny ran through the streets of Chennai, his face expressing his deep panic. There was a gunshot, and people screamed.

                Danny ran left, towards the train station. There were soldiers at the station, with machine guns. He would be safe there.

                'He's going to the train station!' The man cried, trying to ignore his wounded hand. 'Get there first!'

                Danny's friends nodded, and ran away.

 

Chandan began to perspire, as there seemed to be an endless stream of guards. The pile of men at his feet became higher, as he found he was forced to knock each one out. Calvin and Balraj were simply watching, enjoying the show.

                'Could you help?!' Chandan cried, quickly becoming exhausted.

                Balraj nodded, turned around, and caught the men entering the room.

                Calvin tied Vijay to his chair, which was useless considering he was already frozen in shock.

 

Suneep tore through the streets of Agra with seven Australians dressed as monks and a suitcase.

                'Lose it!' David cried, as five men chased after them.

                'Not yet!' Suneep replied. 'Keep running!'

                'Where to?' Josiah shot back.

                'Just run in circles. And as you do, scream the names of those we are looking for.'

                'Daniel and Stephen?' Samuel asked.

                'If that is them, then yes.'

                The men nodded and began doing so. 'Daniel Rogers! Stephen Cummnik!'

                People began staring, and ran around – hopefully to find the requested people.

                'Hey!' One man cried out to them. 'They do not answer to those names anymore. They call themselves Krishna and Arjuna.'

                Suneep shuddered. 'Arjuna? That could get confusing.'

                The men switched instantly. 'Thanks!' They cried. 'We need them. Krishna! Arjuna!'

                Now several Indian men turned around.

                'This will not work.' Suneep cried, frustrated, mainly because of his suitcase.

                'What is in there?' Samuel asked.

                'Nothing. I bought it before coming to see you – it is ridiculously heavy.'

                'Why are you keeping it?'

                'You'll see.'

 

The car sped off, and Josha quickly jumped inside. The gangsters ran after them, shooting at the car.

John was driving, and did so in an unpredictable zigzag. The men tried to shoot at the tyres, but found they missed each time.

                'Drive!' Grace screamed, and Josha copied her seconds after.

 

Ardi continued screaming the entire way down the mountain, and grated on Arjun's nerves.

                'Shut up!' He screamed eventually. 'I am saving you and trying not to be shot! Just shut up!'

                'Why won't you listen to me?!' Ardi screamed back.

                'Because you are selfish and mental, and I will make you do the right thing!'

                Ardi continued screaming, and Arjun sped up.

                'Slow down!' Ardi pleaded.

                'Shut up!' Arjun shot back.

                Ardi finally did so, and Arjun slowed down, amazed the girl had co-operated at last.

 

There was another gunshot, and Danny felt a bullet whiz past his face.

                Another gunshot. This bullet grazed his cheek. Danny panicked and ran faster.

                The men had split up, and one jumped out of an alley, grabbing onto Danny's sleeve. He used all his might to keep running, until his shirt begun to tear. He ran in front of a car, and the man finally let go. Danny scrambled over the moving vehicle and glanced at his sleeve – which was in his follower's hands.

                Danny's cheek was bleeding, and his hair was a mess, so he attracted a lot of attention.

                Another gunshot and blood oozed from Danny's leg. The bullet had gone a lot deeper into his skin this time.

                The train station came into view.

                Danny sped up.

 

'Arjuna!'

                'Krishna!’

                'Daniel and Stephen!'

                Two burnt men were pushed into their path, and Josiah and David pulled them along before they could run away.

                'No!' Daniel screamed. 'I am an Indian – leave me alone!'

                'You're Australian.' David said bluntly. 'And your name is David.'

                'I'm Krishna!'

                'No, that's a blue god.'

                'I'm Arjuna!' Stephen cried, as he was called Stephen.

                'No, that's a mythological Indian prince. Now run!'

                The men had nearly caught up with the ten, and Suneep decided now was the time to use his suitcase.

                'Ready?' He warned the others. 'I'm about to use my wild card.'

 

Chandan's eyes rolled, and he shook his head.

                'We have to go.' Balraj decided, concerned for the young man.

                Calvin finished tying Vijay to his chair and nodded. Then they fled.

                'Help!' Vijay screamed, drawing all attention to himself.

 

Arjun reached Dehradun and began weaving madly through traffic. The aggressive ladies with guns were unable to follow him through the congested market place, and Arjun began to believe they were safe.

Bikram and Mikael paid their driver and ran after Arjun and Ardi. Mehmet barely managed to keep up.

 

Danny ran onto his train just as it began to leave. He didn't know where his pursuers had gone, but they had probably run away at the sight of the soldiers.

                He collapsed onto a seat – miraculously vacant – and sighed.

                He was safe.

 

Balraj, Calvin, and Chandan ran into their hotel room, gasping for air.

                'We did it!' Balraj cried.'

                Chandan suddenly became angry. 'Who ruined my talk?!' He cried.

                'Me.' Calvin panted. 'I'll explain later. Sorry.'

 

Suneep let go of his suitcase.

                The guards cried out in pain, as they tumbled over the unexpected obstacle.

                'To the train station!' Suneep cried, rushing the men forwards.

                'It's right there!' Samuel cried, relieved.

 

Arjun dumped the motorbike outside the former owner's house, scooped up Ardi, and ran off.

                'Thank you!' The owner called, as Arjun ran to the train station.

                Mehmet caught up with Arjun as he ran onto the train, and actually bought a ticket.

                Arjun's face brightened when he saw Mehmet, and he smiled when Bikram came running up. He was a bit confused when another man came into view, especially since Ardi seemed to know who it was.

                'On no.' The girl groaned, hiding her face.

                Oh well. At least she was placid now.

                 The train began moving, and the men scrambled on.

                'Find our seats!' Mehmet cried, scanning the aisles. Arjun successfully remained standing as the train began moving.

 

Suneep bought tickets for everyone, and they rushed onto the train just as the guards came into view. They collapsed onto their seats, exhausted.

                'I am Krishna!' Daniel cried.

                The others simply closed their eyes and ignored him. What any of the seven would do next was unclear.

 

 

 

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