“Running away will never make you free.”
~The Seventh One~
Special Investigation team, CBI Office, Mumbai.
“Sir, Dr. Charak has a direct connection with this science centre…but then again, he has no police records before this.”
“You mean, the crime’s motive hasn’t even been established yet?!” asked Mahesh.
“Good afternoon, Sir.”
“Afternoon, Vajpayee. Any updates?” asked Mahesh.
“Sir, we searched Dr. Charak’s home, Indraprasth House, for any evidence at all, but it’s just amazing, no one has been living there for the past 25 years. It’s empty.”
“The house has been empty for 25 years and no one even tried to buy it? That’s very strange.”
“Sir, we made inquiries in the neighborhood and also asked his watchman, everyone said the house has been empty all this while. It’s true.”
“Alright. I want you to keep a watch on that property. Okay?”
Mumbai, a slum area.
Haryaksh had been running for quite some time now. The two constables had realized he had escaped and were trailing him now, the criminal slowly getting away because of the several obstacles of people and clothes hanging on ropes on their way and also because the criminal seemed to know his way around this place.
After running for over several minutes Haryaksh found refuge in an abandoned store room. There, he hid behind a few empty water tanks. One of the constables did take a peek inside the room, but then he heard the other constable call him and he left. Now Haryaksh came out, slowly.
He saw a dirty, shattered mirror on a wall in the room and in it saw a hand-cuffed man covered in grime and sweat. His usually dishevelled hair which almost hid his eyebrows was sticking to this forehead. He tried to fix it, but his hands were tied. Checking if anyone was looking, he twisted his hands in such a way so that his palm was directed at the middle of the hand cuffs binding his hands. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He could feel the heat leaving his hands and melting the cuffs, without hurting his hand at all. The next moment the cuffs gave in and he flexed his hands where his wrist was hurting. Exactly then, the constable who had peeped into the room earlier, barged in and attempted to hit Haryaksh with his stick. Haryaksh retaliated. He pushed the man and ran out of the room. With both the constables chasing him again, he tried to remember a secret passageway of getting out of the slum. He had been to this place before, so it wasn’t exactly difficult to fool the constables. But for how long? How long would he be able to fool everyone? How long would he have to run?
A local hospital, somewhere near National Highway 30.
Vineet was waiting outside the room where Asmin had been taken in on a stretcher. His forehead had been bleeding half an hour back, but now that had been taken care of. He couldn’t take his mind off the state he had last seen Asmin in– blood trickling down her head and nose, her hands and neck full of cuts and a deep gash across her midriff. He remembered something strange about her. All her other cuts had stopped bleeding, but her midriff, only her midriff, was still gushing out red.
The doctor came out of the chamber and said, “I’m sorry Vineet, she’s no more.”
“Oh my God! But doctor, what will I do now? I know nothing about her! Her family…”
“Don’t worry son, we checked her bag and found some ID proof. We will inform her family soon.”
“Thank you, doctor.”
Shunya untied the rope binding the old and carefully preserved papers of the Bhrigu Shastra that Dr. Charak had handed over to her 10 years ago, but had asked her to keep it safe. She wasn’t allowed to read it before, until now.
~The Bhrigu Shastra~
“Doctor ne kaha tha ki there should be seven names here. Will you check?” asked Shlok.
“Yep, I’m on it.” said Shunya.
She held the papers together, closed her eyes and then, when she opened them, her eyes were lit by a certain green light. It looked pretty startling, as every line, every word on the pages seemed to be getting scanned by the green light. Shlok remembered this was one of Shunya’s many special abilities—she could grasp any length of information within seconds and retain it in her brain forever.
When her eyes were back to normal, she said, “Okay. I’ve got the names. Asmin, Haryaksh, Drishika, Mastishk, Hriday and Varya, and all of them have pretty amazing powers I tell you. Saat veer. So, what are we supposed to do?”
“We’re supposed to find them…before 7 pm.”
“Ugh, of course. Wait…wait a minute, these aren’t seven names. I found six names..”
She looked through the pages, and then she saw what the problem was— one of the pages had a torn corner. “…Did the last name get lost in this torn part of the page?! Shit, what do we do now?”
“But our mission is incomplete without the seven, Shunya. We’ve got to find the seventh one.”
Korba Jungle, Chattisgarh.
“No one should even dare to hurt my friend.” he thought.
He could see four men come towards his friend with a huge net, ready to capture him and take him away. Another man with a gun in his hand said, “Work faster all of you. Just capture the damn elephant and get a move on, I don’t have all day!”
Just then, the man thought he was hallucinating; because there was no other way to explain this!– How could someone just jump from behind the elephant and land in front of them out of nowhere? He was just a boy, barely 21, with a lean yet muscular body, only half of which was covered with a black dhoti. He was so fast, it was almost impossible to understand where he was going and what he was doing. One moment he had left all the men tangled in the net they had been holding. The next moment, just as the man with the gun was about to shoot him, the man saw the boy take the rifle from his hand, which was now pointed at him instead. Then again another man on a tree was thrown down.
All the men started shouting, “This man must be some avatar of Lord Hanuman! Run! Run! Bhago! Bhago!” and ran away in fear.
Ekaant walked towards the elephant with a big smile. The elephant ruffled Ekaant’s black shoulder-length hair with his trunk. Both had deep affection for each other.
“You’re my friend, Akurath! Aur dost ke liye toh jaan bhi haazir hai.”” said Ekaant.
A boy came running towards them. He was panting when he reached them and said, “Ekaant! Ekaant…Acharya ji…”
Ekaant immediately picked the little kid, and with super speed ran towards his home.
He saw a number of people crowding around an old man. When they made way for him he saw, his guru, Acharya ji, was lying on the ground, taking weak, deep breaths and coughing.
“Acharya ji! Acharya ji…what’s wrong? Should I get water for you?” cried Ekaant.
Acharya ji opened his eyes and looked at him. He held Ekaant’s hand and said, “Listen to me carefully, there’s not much time. You have to leave this place immediately and go far away from this jungle. Without me this place is not safe anymore son. Your rakshak, your protector, your guruji is waiting for you.”
“Who are you talking about Acharya ji, I can’t understand any of this. Kaun rakshak?”
“I had promised to protect you. But now my time here is almost over.”
Acharya ji wiped Ekaant’s tears, touched the locket that was hanging around Ekaant’s neck and said, “This mandala locket that I gave you is sacred and inside it contains the address of your rakshak. It has all the answers, you’ll understand. He is the one who will guide you now. Tell him that I’ve done my duty, I kept his promise. Now it’s his turn.”
And then joining both his hands, with his last breath, Acharya ji said,
“S–saptarshiyo ko m–mera pranaam.”