Thursday, 5 January 2017

Code Name: Reaper ...

“We have seen them all. We have seen the tyrants and the healers. We have seen the monsters and the gods. But never have we seen a specimen like this. A man so relentless, so focused that even ‘The Higher Ones’ fear his power. He is like no other. He is truly The Chosen One.”

-The Book Of Prophecies.

The weather is beautiful today. The wind is in a playful mood as it touches my cheeks and withers away. It teases me to come and play with it. The sun and the tress are in a quarrel of their own. The trees as tall as buildings with leaves greener than the garden of eden are not allowing the rays to come through. But eventually, with it’s brute force, the rays win and pierce through the leaves and remind me with their warmth that there is only true dominant force that governs us all. Below in the plains I see the HVT. {High Value Target} He is sitting in his lazy boy chair and smoking his favourite cuban cigars. He does that everyday sharp at 4pm. The HVT is a man of strict habit. I would know that ‘cause I am just like him. But the only difference between me and him is that I have my finger at the trigger and he has his on his cigar. I am hidden well under the trees and the brown soil below me gives me the perfect cover. I have three different variants of the Camo Suit. {Camouflage Gear} And today I have chosen the Desert Camo Gear so I blend in with mother nature. While the sunlight is almost heavenly today it is also my greatest asset as below no one can suspect where the shot will come from. The sound of the bullet will be echoed throughout the valley but no one will be able to pinpoint the actual location of the shot. And by the time they do, I will be long gone. I notice the HVT is having a laugh with his men. Men covered in masks and who carry AK Machine Guns. There weren’t any lip-reading classes back in BUD/S {Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training} but if there was an option I would had taken it. Maybe I would had laughed along with these men. But for the last 3 months, laughter isn’t something I associate myself too that well. For the last 3 months I have been here, behind enemy lines in a place too classified to even mention. That part of the world where humanity died long before humans ever existed. A country torn by civil war and people like the HVT who picked up the remaining pieces and corrupted men and children into joining his crusade to free the world of the west. For many people here he is like a hero, a icon, a messiah even. But I know what evil looks like. And that HVT over there, he is the impersonation of pure evil. 

"'T is strange that death should sing.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest."

-William Shakespeare

Who am I you ask? My name is Max Shepherd. A cali boy. Born and raised near the ocean with loving parents who left me a long time in a drunk driver accident. Al though I am right now telling you all about this ‘Classified’ mission I am actually a very shy, soft-spoken guy who talks only when necessary. In other words I am more of an observer. If you don’t believe you can ask the friends I had back home in California who used to call me Max ‘The Mute’ ‘cause I hardly spoke. I sometimes wonder why they were so kind to me and always included me in their group. This one time, before any of this. Before the enlistment, before the realisation of the journey a boy needs to take to become a man, my friends dragged me to this party at the beach which I had no interest to go too. But there, in the twilight of the night, right at the shore line, where the waves come and merged with the grains of sand, I saw the woman whom I fell in love with the moment I laid eyes on her. Her name was Lindsay Emerson and she was studying at the University of San Diego taking up Biophysics. When she looked at me and gave me that smile, I never guessed that in a million years that a beauty like Lindsay would go out with a quiet jock like me. She was truly an angel and it was the most beautiful date I had ever been too. Before I dropped her off I went in for a kiss while trying to hug her and she being the smarty she was, chuckled and told me, “Silly, that isn’t how you kiss a girl.” And then she kissed me and I swear to god it was like the fourth of july! And after that we never looked back. We become the couple everyone loved and all knew that very soon I would go on my knees and ask her the most important question of any bachelor’s life. But you see, life isn’t always how we think it to be. It was at that point of time the war broke out and our country needed men to enlist and show those evil bastards that tyranny won’t have the last laugh. And I knew I had to enlist. Even though Lindsay didn’t agree I knew it in my gut, like a calling that I had to be there, fighting for freedom. And then just like that everything changed forever. 

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once."

-William Shakespeare

It was 3 years ago when I enlisted for the Marines. Our country needed her young men and women to stand up and fight and to be Marine and serve your country, was the greatest honour of them all. And the moment I walked inside those doors I knew it in my bones that it was a marine that I was meant to become. And so, my journey with the Marines began. All those days at Camp Pendleton truly took me to the limit. Day in and day out we trained. In the dirt, in the rain, in the mud and in the heat, we pushed and pushed until we had nothing left to give. And when our bodies gave up, our drill sergeant made us push harder. After all, the Marines Are The Few, The Proud. And after those gruelling 13 weeks I was a Proud Marine. And I was no longer Max ‘The Mute’ Shepherd either. It was like something in me woke up. like a beast who had gone for a long hibernation. Lindsay didn’t come for my inauguration. A part of me knew she wouldn’t. She was against the war and also she told me she won’t support me going ‘Over There’. She said I was making a mistake. “It isn’t like you have to enlist! You can be here with me. You can be safe. I don’t want to loose you. I don’t want that man in uniform knocking at my door and telling me with his grieving eyes that your husband died while fighting for his country. I don’t want that Max. I faced that horror with my dad. I can’t go through it again with you. I won’t allow that.” That was the last thing she told me before she hung up the phone. I knew I heard her sobbing. But she being the stubborn woman she was, she didn’t wanted to admit it. She didn’t know that if she would had come that day I would had put a ring on her finger and would had told her how much I loved her. But I didn’t get that opportunity. You see, I have come to realise that people do get to fall in love but the fire in them always reminds them that they are meant for bigger much greater things. 

"A person doesn't die when he should but when he can."

-Gabriel García Márquez

We were deployed the moment I got my badge and I was part of the MARSOC {Marine Corps Special Forces}. Marines as you know it are one of the finest breeds of warriors on the planet. We go where the action is and we went and took care of the missions that were bestowed upon us. For the next 3 years since I said my 1st “Oorah” we overcame every obstacle. But it was when I was is Fallujah that I realised that the powers above had something else planned for me. We were fighting back the insurgency in the city and we knew that within the next 48 hours the city would be free of the imperial forces. I was by that time promoted to Lance Corporal {LCpl} from Private First Class {PFC}. Our mission was to clear three blocks of buildings which intelligence indicated to be enemy strongholds. The mission was going smooth. Barge in, check, double check and then onto the next building. Since I was in charge of the mission I was first in, last out, just how I liked it. But then, when we were in the last building that strange gut feeling started tingling inside of me. Like the ‘spidey’ sense spider-man gets. Even though that ‘instinct’ was growing, I shook it off and started approaching the building. I was only 25 feet away from the main door when I felt the wind move and my eyes went to the building right across and there I saw an insurgent with a RPG {Rocket Propelled Grenade} and he had me on his sights. Even though my reaction time would had kicked in, I knew I wouldn’t survive the impact. But just a mili-second later, which felt like an eternity I heard the sound of a bullet and before you knew it, the insurgent’s head was splattered in two and the entire platoon cheered and howled like wolves. It was at that time my eyes locked with the Navy Seal Sniper that saved my life and I knew from that moment on, my life would never be the same again.

"Death is the king of this world: 'tis his park
Where he breeds life to feed him. Cries of pain
Are music for his banquet."

-George Eliot

The moment I came back form my 3rd tour in Iraq I went and visited the Navy Seals Centre. The recruiter told me that to be a Navy Seal was one of the most privileged things a man can do. But only if a man can survive it’s brutal training. I loved being a Marine but that voice inside of me sang a different tune now and I knew that it wanted me to be a Navy Seal Sniper. Without wasting another moment I signed up to enlist as a Navy Seal and the recruiter told me that my training would begin in 3 weeks. Since I had no time to waste the first thing I did was inform my chain of command with the marines that I am trying to be a Seal Sniper. “You are one of the finest soldiers I know Max. I will hate to loose you. But if this is something that you wanna do, then God Speed to you son.” And then I gave him my salute and my last “Oorah” and walked away. Lindsay and me were not in the best of terms during this period. But when I had made that phone call from Iraq and told her I was coming home, I sensed that she still loved me and was delighted to see me back, al though she didn’t wanted to admit it. That night, after we made love and were having our candle light cheeseburgers dinner I told her that I would be enlisting again. But this time, as a Navy Seal and eventually become a Sniper. I have never seen her so torn. Here was this woman who loved me yet was hurt by the fact that I would be going away again. “What will it take me to stop this Max? When will you ever feel complete with me? Will I never be enough for you? Do you love war that much that you are killing the one thing that makes us stronger? Why are you pushing me away?” And I told her something I didn’t expect ever sharing with anyone. I said, “I love you Li. You are the love of my life. There is no other who can ever take that place. But I just can't shake this feeling. This feeling inside of me that I have to fight. That I have to give every evil in this world what it deserves. I have to be out there in the fight. And I know even though you and me can have the perfect world here and one day grow old and see our children become lovely human beings, I know in my heart that this is something that I have to do. And I am sorry for that. I am so sorry.” The next day when I woke up I saw a letter in the bed. It read, “I will always love you. But now I have come to realise that you are a fighter and you will always be whole and complete when you are fighting. Good bye Max.” After that, I didn’t care to wipe off the tears which were rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t care when I screamed out so loud that my lungs hurt. I didn’t care to clean the floor of the glasses I broke ‘cause after the world of hurt I felt and the sense of loneliness had engulfed me I sensed a feeling I didn’t feel before. I felt a deep sense of desire. A burning passion. A quest. An invoking. And when I saw my reflection in the mirror I didn’t see the boy who was called ‘The Mute’ but I saw a man who knew what had to be done. At that point I knew it in my bones that I truly was chosen to be something more than just a man. I was meant to be a Sniper.

"While man is growing, life is in decrease;
And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
Our birth is nothing but our death begun."

-Edward Young

“Give me 50 push-ups! Come on you little piece of shit! Get a move on! You wanna be a Seal? You want to be the best in the world? Then get on the ground and smell the dirt and give me those god-damn push-ups!” That is what I heard on the 1st day of my Training at Seal School. To be a Navy Seal you have to have heart. Like a fortitude of a Lion. It has been said that more than thousands apply to be a Seal. But on day one itself 90% of candidates walk over to the bell with a beaten heart and quit. In fact, during ‘Hell Week’ the drill sergeants keep telling the men to quit ‘cause quitting will be much more easier than to bare the pain of training which awaits them. But thanks to my Marine Training, I pushed through. But it wasn’t easy. Well, nothing great is ever easy. After I survived ‘Hell Week’ I knew things were about to get only tougher and more challenging but whenever the pain had gotten unbearable that voice inside of me always reminded me who I truly was and what was needed to be done. Over the next 24 weeks, me and my batch mates went through the most hellish training the human body and mind can endure. That was needed in order to pass through the BUD/S Training. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to be a sniper and there were times when my fingers tensed and longed to pull the trigger when I use to hear gunshots in the distance. Even though it was tempting to go and see the pros at work at the range I knew one day I would be there firing those bullets instead of just looking at them. One weekend, sometime in-between the training we all were given an off to go and splurge and enjoy in the city. Many of my batch mates had wives and girlfriends and some of them just wanted to go to bars and get drunk, and so as the leave was granted not one was left at the bunker station. Well, no one except me. I decided to stay. You know by now I had no one waiting for me in the city and second of all, I wanted to go back to training. It wouldn’t had made me a sniper right there and then but I longed for the challenge of training. The more I trained, the more I calmer and focused I got. And the pain of not having Lindsay in my life was used as a tool to ignite my performance. My Drill Sergeant, Sgt. Lance Mitchell saw me doing the 5k early on saturday morning on the grounds and called me over. “Come take a walk with me Max.” In all my weeks here I never heard him a say a word which sounded ‘Normal’. Hearing that sentence from him surely started an excitement in me. The weather was perfect on this saturday morning at Coronado, CA and in the distance the pelicans were playing catch with each other and the waves were being mischievous. For a while we walked in silence and then finally the Lieutenant spoke. “Do you know what I see when I see you Max? I see a Boy becoming a Man. I see a man who has this tremendous hunger and energy. You really have it in you to become a Seal Max.” “Thank you sir.” I said, as those were the only words that came out of my mouth. “But do you know what makes you special Max? I sense a great darkness in you. A Darkness which normalcy can’t contain. Maybe that is why you became a Marine. Maybe that is why you are here wanting to become one of the most elite of the elite.” “Sir, I don’t know what to say. I … I feel, I know deep within in my bones, in my soul that fighting is what I was born to do. Before the war, before the enlistment, it felt like I was just existing. But ever since I learned how to fight, I felt I became alive!” The LT smiled and said, “Many men live ordinary lives because they think that just by getting by and not pushing themselves, or challenging obstacles or taking risks they will be happy. But I have believed in all my years of living that a man can only be complete when he faces his fears, when he pushes through the barrier of pain, when he is ready to sacrifice everything to achieve his goal. And I believe you are that man.” “I promise I won’t let you down sir. In fact sir, if I have permission to say, I really want to become a Navy Seal Sniper.” “It’s like you are reading my mind Max. I was just about to say that as soon as your BUD/S Training gets completed I want you to apply for Sniper School and I also do believe you will be a great sniper. A sniper needs his soul to be sold to the Reaper in order to take out his targets from far away distances.” “Reaper sir?”. “Yes, the Reaper. You know, like The Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper is associated with Death. He is the Monster sent from hell to collect the souls of the damned. He comes without warning and once he has sights locked on you, not even god can stop him. A Sniper is very much like a Reaper. He is a Lethal Weapon of Justice. His bullet comes from nowhere and puts an end to the enemy who has no idea that his end is only a mere seconds away.” “That’s a great way to put it sir.” “Yes, it is. I would know ‘cause I was a Sniper once. And now go and do another 5k and meet at the weapons range.” “Sir! Yes Sir!” When I started that run, I felt a deep sense of happiness. Like it was flooding over me. It was an answer from the universe showing me that every decision that I have taken till now has been absolutely right. And before the cool wind came and touched my face I also had another realisation … I just had found my codename. It would be Code Name: Reaper.

"Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk.
It is walking toward me, without hurrying."

-Jean Cocteau

“Reaper, this is 2-1 Actual. Do you Copy?”. “Yes, 2-1, this is Reaper. Hearing you loud and clear. Over.” “Can we have a status update? Over.” “Yes 2-1. I am right now at the designated location. I have the HVT in my sights. It is a Go. I repeat the mission is a Go. Do I have your orders to comply? Over.” “Yes Reaper, your request is approved. Proceed with the mission. Contact again from the exfil position. Good luck. Over and Out.” It has been 3 years since that day at the beach. Three years since the word Reaper dawned on me. And three years since I ever thought I had any ounce of normalcy left in me. The generals and the majors and the captains call me The Reaper for a reason. It is not just a call sign for me. They say I am cold and deadly and like a demon I am truly the taker of souls. Some even call me The death Machine. A Punisher of sorts. The man who was truly made for war. That is what I have heard. They say the enemy has a bounty on my head. Something like 300,000 dollars and 350,000 if I am captured alive so they can execute me on live television. But since the time I fired my first .50 cal bullet, not once have I missed a target. Somethings are just meant to be. I know I was destined to be a sniper but I never knew that I would become the most feared and lethal sniper in American History. I’ve heard many stories about me. Some of which are true and some which are just pure fantasy. The young cadets sometimes even have the courage to come and ask me how it is to kill a person, I simply tell them, “It’s as easy as breathing.”. I agree, I sometimes must have projected to be strict and tough and would have that ‘No-Time-To-Give-A-Flying-Fuck’ face but I was like that or maybe I am still that way ‘cause I love what I do and I take my job very very seriously. Maybe that is why even after 3 years I don’t have people I can call my friends or family. Maybe that is why I never could find a connect with a person or any human emotion which binds us together. Maybe that is why I have been alone. Maybe that is why I am cut off from the world and always looking for another mission, another target, another war to be a part off. I guess the beast inside of me always wants feeding ‘cause for some reason he never gets fulfilled with the death I give him. No matter how many men I kill, no matter if the kill count has now reached upto 1,200, the beast inside of me wants more and more. Maybe that is why I am out here, behind enemy lines. I guess there is a rush in this. There is a thrill which love or friendship can never give me. And even though there are times when I feel those moments of ‘What ifs?’ I know when I pull the trigger and see the scumbag in my sights take his last breath, everything in the world makes sense. I heard Lindsay moved on and got married recently. I am happy for her. I wanted to wish her personally but I know she wouldn’t want to talk to me. I still have her ring though. It is a constant reminder of the one thing that really meant so much to me.The one thing that I gave up to be here. That knowingness makes me feel stronger. I wouldn’t disagree with you, sometimes it gets very lonely. But all men who become wolves have to wander the jungle alone. Greatness has a price. I know that more than anyone else.

"And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death."

-Walt Whitman

I adjust the scope for the very last time. The wind is perfect. I inhale a long breath and see the HVT. He also inhales from his cigar. I wait for him to blow the smoke out. The moment he does, I gently pull the trigger. Within a matter of a second, I see bullet pierce through his head and a fraction later his body is on the ground with the fragments of his brains every where. His personal guards go into a state of shock. They start yelling and within a few seconds later the emergency siren rings. I learnt one thing in sniper school and that is to never underestimate your enemy so instead of giving them the time to even guess where I am, as a surprise I planted some C-4 Explosives all around the facility to go off in sequence. You know, to create a diversion. And the moment I press the button on the remote control, the C-4s, perfect as clockwork start going off one after the other. By this time the whole base has come alive. Guards and soldiers are in a state of disarray. They don’t know what to do or from whom to take orders from. Some men get into their jeeps and drive off towards the blasts, while some stand where they are too scared to do anything. The mission was a success. The HVT is down and now it is time for me to reach the exfil. By now, the blasts must have been the signal to the satellites above that my mission was a success and within 30mins the heli would be waiting for me for my extraction whether I make it there or not. I am right now in radio silence so I don’t give the enemy a way to find my signal and location. I go back to base. Make sure nothing is left behind and just to be sure rig the entire cave with C-4. I give it one last look. This cave was my home for the last 3 months. And then I head out. When I am about 500 metres away I press the button and the entire caves collapses with the might and sound of the explosives. I reach the extraction point and within minutes the heli arrives. It lands and come out the navy seals on board who are ordered to bring me back home. They do as told. I give them the thumbs-up that I am ok and we are ready to move. The heli roars its engines and we are in the air. After a while with my rifle still in my hand and my hands still twitching for another mission as glorious as this, one of the seals comes upto and asks, “How was it?” and I tell him, “It was as easy as breathing.”

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death."

-Revelation 6:8

This is Me, Mahaakshay Chakraborty and this is the Story of The Reaper.

With All My Might,

Mahaakshay Chakraborty.