Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
I'm an idiot. I should've killed her.
Dragging her along with me was a pain. She's awfully slow. Besides, she talks too much.
"Truth-seeker, I'm feeling tired."
"Quit that corny name! Call me Jaffar."
"Jaffar, I'm feeling tired."
Okay, I got it. You don’t have to tell me twice.
The streets of Dhaka are littered with bloody and burnt corpses. And that stench! I can hardly breath because of that. We took shelter inside a desolate residence.
"You feeling okay now?"
Who knows what she was upto when she asked me to kill her? I trust neither humans nor robots. How can I then trust a humanoid? I kept her alive so that I can get more answers from her.
I looked out the window. Everything was quiet. A few howls were heard from a distance. The other sound I was able to hear, was of burning buildings.
"- guess the dogs are not prone to BDSyn."
"No, they're not", Ayna retorted expressionlessly.
"That was a joke, you don't have to answer that."
Who am I telling a joke anyway? I searched for water in the refrigerator.
"I wish I had some cold water."
There, she said it.
"We can't find cold water here. The electricity's been out for quite a while."
"I'm thirsty", she said.
I found some water bottles in the fridge. I handed one of the bottles to her.
"There you go."
Goodness, water surely tastes like life in its scarcity. After finishing one bottle of water, I attached the other to my belt, for later use. Then I looked back at Ayna to check out how she was doing.
She held the bottle, still unopened, on her hands. No, she was pulling the cap with all her strength to open the bottle.
"Seriously? Ruled the country for 30 years and you still can't open a bottle?"
"Truth-seeker, I can't -"
"It's Jaffar!" I reminded her.
"Jaffar, I can't open the bottle. Requesting assistance."
How come she become so dumb all on a sudden?
I took the bottle and opened it for her.
"I made a mistake. I was better off inside the Complex. The human memory is weak. I'm forgetting things very often."
After she was done drinking, she continued, "Besides, I can't even mentally connect to the net for information."
We can't connect 'mentally'. That's why we use devices like phones and watches, and also laptops. Speaking of which, I am continuously trying to connect with my allies. I touched my watch and a hologram display (holoscreen in short) popped up in front of me. There was a big notification on the screen, 'NO SIGNAL'.
Goddammit, why did they have to destroy the towers?"
"C'mon, we gotta go." I had to find a working tower to transmit our location to my friends.
We moved very cautiously. A few gunshots were heard nearby. So we had to hide inside a school building. A person laid dead at the entrance, with a machete stuck to his head. I grabbed her hand and forcefully dragged her along to keep up with my pace.
"Jaffar, I'm afraid." Her doll-like eyes were fixed upon the corpse.
"What's gotten into you? You wanna end up dead like him?"
She nodded sideways, "No."
"Then stop moving your jaws and start moving your legs."
She might know something more than what could be found on the disk. I doubt the disk even exists. Nevertheless, if the disk does exist, then we have to find it out. In any case, killing Ayna will bring us no advantage at this moment.
No sooner had we exited the school building than we heard some enraged voices, "There she is, GET HER!"
"The hell?" I looked back and saw ten to fifteen armed men. All of them had green and red striped gamcha (a kind of colorful lightweight towel) tied on their foreheads.
I started running, dragging Ayna with me as hard as I could.
Another voice shouted, "Don't let her escape. JOY BANGLA (English: Victory to Bengal) ."
I shot a few rounds at them.
While they were about to retaliate, one of them shouted, "Don't shoot. We need her alive."
We're being chased by dog-faced bandits.
"Who are these bastards?"
"Members of the CoLiBan."
We took cover behind a destoyed car.
"Taliban? Why in Bangladesh?"
"No, it is CoLiBan, the Coalition for Liberation of Bangladesh."
Ohhhh, so that's who they are. I heard about them in the news long time ago. They're an internationally funded terrorist group working to topple Ayna's rule. Ayna is overthrown now. So, "What do they want from us?"
"They do not want you, they want me."
Stop talking like a bot and be straightforward, will you?
I shot one of the CoLiBans dead.
At least show some panic, robogirl. Even though we're outnumbered and outgunned, she was showing no signs of fear.
"Jaffar, run away, leave me alone."
Like hell I'm going to.
"Don't be stupid."
I have made up a plan in the meantime. They said they needed her alive, didn't they?
"Alright, enough playing around."
I emerged from behind the car, holding Ayna hostage at gunpoint.
"If you want her, you gotta take her."
One of the terrorists bawled, "Hah, you think you're very smart?"
"No, I think you're very stupid. Leave this place before I make a hole on her head."
A few moments of silence passed.
"Boys, boys, there's no need for killing," one of the terrorists spoke casually, "There's always a peaceful way to do something."
Approaching me in a leisurely pace, he threw down his guns and raised his hands, indicating that he has nothing on him. However, the smile he wore on his face tells me otherwise.
"Who the hell are you?"
I pointed my gun at him.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," he said, with a very normal tone.
I highly doubt it can be a pleasure meeting someone at gunpoint.
"My name is Dipak Mondol. Please call me Dipak."
All the other terrorists lowered their guns upon his order. He stood at a considerable distance from me.
"So you're the leader of this pack, huh?"
"You're right. Because of the consistent media brainwashing, you may know me as a terrorist. But in reality, I'm a peace-loving person."
"Yeah, I can see that already. What do you want?"
In a very calm and composed way, Dipak replied, "Straight to the business, I see. Well, we want nothing from you. We want Ayna. We just want to ask her some questions, that's all."
"Stop playing the cool dude, Dipak. I can kill you right this instant."
Dipak acted as if he were disappointed, "I think we're having a misunderstanding here. We have no intention of hurting you. Rather, we'd be more than happy to welcome you to our place."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm just wondering, how can you add two with two and get five?"
"You see, you can do a two plus two, or a two times two, the result will be the same. But it will never be five. Never."
I remained silent.
"Two plus two minus the propaganda equals four. If you don't subtract the propaganda from it, you won't get the correct answer. What's your opinion in this regard? What does two plus two equal to?"
What is he upto? "Look, I don't have any time for stupid questions, you better -"
"I think even a first-grader can understand my question. Where's the disk?"
"It's in the polic-", I stopped midway. Shit, he played a mind trick on me.
Dipak's smile widened, "The police HQ, is it? Thanks for the info."
I feel like I screwed up, big time.
Dipak laughed, "Well, that was easy. I didn't think you'd know about it."
Oh no, I think this was the info they wanted.
Turning to the terrorists, Dipak said, "Boys, you can start bringing peace here. We don't need them anymore."
All on a sudden, a big vehicle emerged out of nowhere. It looked somewhat like a military jeep. Bullets are being fired at the terrorists from inside it. The jeep stopped between us and the terrorists.
It's Tania, a member of my group. She is a member of the special forces.
Ayna and I promptly got into the jeep. Then it speeded away from the CoLiBans.
Monsur is driving the jeep. He looked at me and asked, "You alright?"
"Yeah, thanks. I would've been dead had you come seconds later."
"Don't thank me. It was Tania's idea."
I looked at Tania and asked, "How did you know I was there?"
"Gut feeling", she answered, with a bit of nasal intonation. This is her default answer to most of the questions. She surely has a lot of guts, though.
"No probs. I thought you were out to kill her. Why the sudden change of mind?"
I told Tania and Monsur everything that happened.
"So, this bitch (indicating Ayna) has now got feelings that she's done something wrong?" Monsur asked.
"Monsur, mind you manners. She's still the queen", Tania objected.
Monsur jeered, "Yeah, right, and her empire's still a heaven on earth."
Monsur belongs to the lower class population of the country. As an economically oppressed individual, he hates Ayna from the core of his heart.
Monsur said to me, "If I was in your place, I would've gladly crushed her head."
The person who's in the center of all the commotion, was looking out the window unnerved. With blank eyes, Ayna stared at the massive citywide destruction.
"It's all my fault", she whispered.
"What have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE?"
"WHAT HAVE I DONE!?"
Then she burst into a fit of tears.
"Ugh, not again", I said. Seeing her cry makes me cringe.
"What have I done?" was the thing she repeated nonstop.
"I ruined everything - my country, my people - I ruined everything."
Monsur taunted, "Stop your phony act, processors. Don't ruin my car with your unholy tears."
Meanwhile, I was the only one who remained impartial. Yes, I hate her, but I also feel bad for her. She did everything unintentionally. Plus, it was the previous human governments who influenced her to become tyrannical. Had they not been oppressive, Ayna would've never learnt what oppression is.
Tania is the only person consoling Ayna. Seeing her cry, Tania was puzzled at first. Because she knew that a humanoid can't cry.
"This one can. And she's in an 'almost' human body now", I informed her. I used almost since I can't fully confirm her as a human.
"You mean she's a flesh-and-blood now?"
"Yeah, she is. Otherwise, she wouldn't have been able to cry so efficiently."
On the way to our base we had to take a few diversions. People with severe case of BDSyn are running in the streets and killing one another. We don't want to get into any unnecessary trouble now. Our main target is to recover the Disk 71 before the terrorists are able to get hold of it. But how can we do so? Our group consists of only seven members. Who knows how many CoLiBan members are currently active in our country?
When we talk about a base, people generally think of something military-looking. However, our base is nothing more than a giant underground laboratory. When we reached our base, the first thing we did was meet Kaiji.
"Welcome back, horse-face."
This is the way Kaiji and I greet each other all the time.
Ayna butted in, "Excuse me, but I think calling a Japanese person 'tiny-eyes' is racist."
Kaiji replied, "No, it's okay. We're friends, y'know."
Kaiji Akiraka is an American Japanese whistleblower who is currently hiding in Bangladesh. Upon incurring the wrath of both the US and Russia, the whole world became inhabitable for him. Then he was given asylum by Ayna, with the conditions that he works to strengthen Ayna's security system, and not leak any top secret documents of Ayna. To the whistleblowers, Bangladesh is like what Swiss Bank is to illegal money - a safe house, if he/she isn't someone working against Bangladesh, that is.
Kaiji looked at Ayna and squinted. Recognizing her instantly, he exclaimed, "Oh my God, if it isn't you, your highness? I'm forever indebted to you for your help. I was worried that you were destroyed with the destruction of the Ayna Complex."
Yes, she would've been destroyed had she stayed inside it.
Ayna was the one who built this underground lab for Kaiji. If he comes to know that I went out to kill her, he would be very pissed.
"Kaiji, isn't this a miracle? I was out there searching for foodstuff at a nearby market. Then miraculously I found Ayna. She was hiding there after the Ayna Complex was destroyed. So I rescued her and brought her here."
That's what I call 'lying with a straight face.' Of course nobody knows I was out to kill her except Tania and Monsur. They were grinning at me.
Monsur said, "Yeah, right. And the CoLiBans somehow almost got them."
I talked with Kaiji about the disk. I also said that the CoLiBans know about the disk's location and are trying to possess it. Nobody knows that I was the one who let out the info by mistake, except Ayna. I'm sure she'll not tell anyone about it unless asked.
"But we don't have enough manpower or guns to fight the CoLiBans. What can we do now?"
"Perhaps you can contact the nearby barracks for assistance", A turban-clad man with flowing beard suggested. It's that damned Imam, Areef. He somehow ended up in our base at the wake of chaos.
"But how? We don't have their contact codes", said Kaiji.
Areef replied, "In that case, I'll personally go to them and see if they can help."
"But you're injured", Tania objected.
Areef has a nasty bullet wound on the back of his left shoulder, for which he can't move his left hand.
"But I'm not dead yet. Anything can happen if Allah wants."
That's his catchphrase. I don't know how he can be so positive all the time. Nobody knows whether the barracks have survived the rampage. We can't even tell if someone is there or not. But this guy, this Imam, doesn't seem to care.
I don't like Areef. One of the main reason I dislike him is beacuse I'm an atheist. But we can't afford to lose people right now. So we have to stay together until things calm down.
Zara, the peabrain of our base was overhearing us. She commented, "I agree with the imam. I'm sure the army men will come to help us."
The world doesn't work this way. How can a naive girl like her understand? She is full of hopes and devoid of brains.
"Yea, Zara's right. And I'm gonna go with Areef. He's saved me life, after all", Sharmin said. Sharmin is also a member of our survival-oriented base. She works as a school teacher. However, as an ex-delinquent, she looks scary as hell.
"Seriously, you agree with her?"
"Yea, I do. And if anyone gets in our way, we gonna cap them asses for good."
"Easier said than done. We can't afford to fight everything that we come across. So don't get into unnecessary trouble", advised Kaiji.
After the discussion was over, it was decided that Areef would go to the nearby barracks to seek help, accompanied by Sharmin. This was the only option we currently have in hand. Meanwhile, Ayna was sleeping peacefully in the other room. When she woke up, Zara told her about the decision.
Ayna also wanted to go with them. But she had to stay behind because of her weakness.
At the eating table, I asked Ayna if the disk really existed.
"I don't lie like the humans. The disk DOES exist."
"Okay, but are there any other disks inside the HQ?" I asked. There must be a few more.
"Yes, there is - more than a thousand."
That'll help. I bet the terrorists will go nuts trying to find out the real one.
"Good, that'll keep them busy for sometime."
Then another thought crossed my mind.
"What will they do with the disk?"
Ayna replied expressionlessly, "They'll try to sell it to other countries."
Ayna explained, "Because it contains huge amounts of valuable information, so valuable that the whole world will die to get hold of it."
"What type of information are there inside the disk exactly?"
"Information about different international conspiracies, dirty truths of many states, some valuable technological data... um... and many more. I can't remember all of them right now."
She remembered enough, though.
"How's the curry, honey?" Zara asked Ayna.
"It is delicious, thank you very much."
Zara seems to get along with Ayna very well.
After finishing our meals, Areef asked me to come to his room for a private conversation whenever I get time.
"Yo Imam, what's the call for? Wanna grunt about how bad Zara's cooking tastes?"
He makes a somewhat grumpy face every time he eats something made by Zara.
"I appreciate your perception skills. But I have no wish to backbite about Zara's cooking. She cooks very well, except that it tastes very salty to me."
"Then why don't you ask her to reduce the amount of salt?"
"If I do so, then she'll reduce the amount of salt the next time. And then all of you'd bash her for not putting enough salt. Besides, everything you eat is His blessing. Finding food in these times is not easy. So you should be thankful to Him at all times."
Where does all his sagacity come from? I don't like how he keeps calm and praises 'Him' at all times.
"Sure, I'll do. Anyway, you wanted to discuss something important?"
"Yes. You wanted to kill her excellency Ayna, didn't you?"
I was taken aback at such a sudden question. How did he know?
"Tania and Monsur were grinning while you were lying to Kaiji. Besides, you should've brought at least something if you had really gone to a market. But you've brought back nothing with you."
His perception skill isn't any less than mine, I see.
"Yes, I tried to kill her. But I didn't."
"It was very unwise of you to attempt killing her. Fortunately, He changed your heart at the right time."
After a brief pause, the 'towelhead' priest continued, "I would recommend you to stop thinking about killing her. Rather, you should try to protect her at all costs."
"Why? Because she's a queen?"
Areef replied, "No, but because she's important for establishing the truth."
"What d'you mean?"
"Ayna was the de facto ruler of Bangladesh until now. As an AIGS, she should know about things that we can't even imagine of."
He's got a point.
"Oho, I get it. If she stays with us, we'll be able to get new info from her."
"That's right. And we can also use her status as a queen to get help from the military easily. This will help us greatly in recovering the Disk 71."
And that's a fact! Those men will readily die to defend the honor of the queen. That's how they're made.
"Okay, that seems logical. But how can you be so sure that someone is still in the nearby barracks?"
"I'm not sure. But you can't get something unless you try, can you? Anything can happen if Allah wants."
"Look, there's a huge possibility that I may not return. But I want you to continue fighting for the truth. Try to recover the disk using any means necessary."
"Because at present, truth and falsehood is so blurred that you can't understand which one is which. And that disk will help us to know the truth."
"Then, my friend, give me your word that you will do everything to protect her excellency Ayna."
Where did that come from all on a sudden? I thought we were discussing about recovering the disk. Nevertheless, promising is nothing for me since I don't really care about keeping them.
"Fine, I give my word that I'll do everything to protect her."
The CoLiBans have set up a base in one of the Dhaka University buildings. Nobody will suspect that there is a terrorist base in such a place. Dipak Mondol was dicussing with some high-ranking CoLiBan members about recovering the disk.
"Comrades, what are your opinions on this?"
One of the three men suggested, "I suggest that we should destroy the disk before anyone is able to possess it."
"Good idea." Turning to the other two men, Dipak asked one of them, "What do you suggest, Comrade Jalali?"
"I'm sorry I can't agree with Comrade Rudro. We should recover it and see what it contains."
The third man added, "I agree with Comrade Jalali. Perhaps we can benefit from the disk's contents."
Dipak smilingly said, "Thank you, Comrade Patrick. Now we have to make a plan to recover the disk. There may be hundreds of disks inside the Dhaka Metropol HQ. How can we find the real one in the quickest possible time?"
Due to the affects of BDSyn, nobody can form a group of more than ten or fifteen people. But CoLiBan currently bolsters 573 active members nationwide, 125 of whom are currently in the DU base. Are they somehow resistant to BDSyn?