It was 23-December-2050, Abhi sat on a bench after an energetic run. He voice commanded his smartwatch to display the Running metrics. The sun started showing itself and he was enjoying the beautiful scene of the sun rising from the horizon on the Rishi Konda Beach, in Vishakapatnam. He again looked at his watch and it was 6:30am. He slowly picked up his chain dangling on the neck and untied it. He slowly caught the pendant, tied to the chain, tightly wrapping it with his hands and gently uttered “ANWAR, I’m the body. You are the mind”.
Abhi and Anwar first met at DRDO - Defence Research and Development Organization in Hyderabad where Abhi was Robotics Engineer and Anwar, Neuro Scientist. It was the era when Artificial Intelligence became the frontier for another Industrial Revolution 4.0. Their life goal was to build an army of Robotic Soldiers that act as the first order of Defence. They have already begun the work in the early 2030s’ and codenamed the project, ASURA. They teamed up with brightest minds of India across fields of Robotics, Neurology, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering and Psychology. In the year 2040, they achieved a breakthrough in building an autonomous soldier that is more powerful than 100 soldiers combined, but the only worry was that it was still a Machine without emotions, fairness, empathy and human behaviour. Everyone thought to take a short break after working tirelessly for 10 years and then come back to address the vital problems. Abhi took a 3-month break for a vacation to Europe with his family but Anwar stayed behind to continue with the work. Anwar was working very hard and after a hard work for 1 month, he was able to create the Robotic Soldier with instilled human behaviour, as an act for precaution he also created a pendant like device when pressed, extends like a USB, called Kali. It was built to kill the Robotic Soldier, when inserted on the back neck, if went rogue. Days ran fast and Abhi was in France during final days of his vacation trip. He heard the shocking news that his beloved friend Anwar died in a Fire Accident in the Lab. He and his family travelled back to India on the same night to attend his funeral and reached Anwar’s hometown the next day, everyone was in a deep sob and Anwar was given a state funeral attended by several dignitaries from the fields of Political, Science and Technology. After a few days of his friend’s demise, Abhi received a Parcel in the. The parcel contained the Kali device tied to a chain like necklace and a letter written “Great Kali will always protect you. Let this be always with you”. From then on Abhi never left the device. The project Asura got stalled after Anwar’s demise as it didn’t progress as expected and Abhi chose to become a professor and was asked to join IIT Vishakapatnam.
Abhi comforted himself and wiped the tears from his eyes, tied back the chain to his neck and started walking towards his beachside home. By the time he reached his home, his own developed intelligent maid Bot Jarvis started ordering Fresh Food from Amazon. He bathed and had the breakfast. Jarvis booked an Uber self-driving Cab to IIT Vishakapatnam. He boarded the Cab and saw other people in back seats of the car, Hari and Ramya. Everyone greeted themselves and started introducing, Ramya started “I’m a Psychology practitioner, working in Sunshine Hospitals”. Hari interrupted in the middle by saying, “I’m a Robotics Engineer and currently working for L&T in building AI enabled Machines”. Everyone got down at their own respective places.
Abhi started walking towards his classroom and today was the lecture on Artificial Human Intelligence. He was in the the class and suddenly received a call from Dean of the institution and was summoned to his cabin. Abhi left in the middle of the class and started walking towards the Dean’s Building. When he opened the door he was surprised to see Hari, Ramya and few others in the Army Uniform. Ramya introduced herself as the Secretary of DIDO – Defence Intelligence Development Organization. He went to Ramya and asked an explanation on why she wrongly introduced herself in the cab. Ramya started “Abhi we are from DIDO and you have been in our crosshairs for the past 10 years. You remember Asura the flagship project that you and Anwar started. It wasn’t ceased and never will. You think Anwar was killed in a Fire Accident, Nope but a planned murder by Terrorists who short-circuited the wires of the lab. I hope you also remember that the very next day of your friend’s demise, Mumbai suffered from Taj Attacks. In our prolonged investigation there were startling conclusions that terrorists’ prime target wasn’t Mumbai but it was just a proxy to side-line the whole world. Instead, you and Anwar creators of Project Asura were there primary targets. Post the attacks, in best interests of National Security, Asura went dead in the public view and all the people associated with Asura were put on other assignments and you chose to take up the teaching profession. But Asura kept going, we have recruited other set of brightest minds to take this project forward and their identities were never revealed in front of the public. Right now this project is being led & headed by Hari whom you just met in the Cab. We came now for your help in connecting the final dots, as we have an intelligence information that Terrorists and Insurgents are making a full-blown attack across the 3323km border. Therefore we need to have the Robotic Soldiers ready to be deputed across the border postings”. Abhi after knowing about the cause of his friend’s demise became very angry and took a stance that he will build 100 ASURAs that are equal to 10,000 Soldiers to safeguard our nation from these rogue insurgents.
Hari spoke to Abhi “Hello Sir, It’s an honour to meet you. DIDD in Pathankot is waiting to brief you on our current developments and progress on project ASURA”.
Pathankot is a district in Punjab State and is only 25 km from the International Border of India and Pakistan.
Abhi, Hari, Ramya and Team reached Pathankot the very night by military airplane and all are sheltered in the Guest rooms. Ramya asked Abhi to take complete rest that night and asked to be ready in the morning by 3:00 am as she and her team will take him for a tour to the ASURA Project LAB. Abhi asked “why so early in the morning”. Ramya twinkled and left. Abhi went to his room, bathed and instead of sleeping he was in the thoughts of Anwar and the memories during which they were developing project ASURA.
Hari came to his room the next day and saw Abhi meditating. Hari slowly went to Abhi and tapped on his shoulder, but this made Abhi felt as if a dumbbell had fallen on him, but he never minded. Abhi joined Hari and they started walking towards the ASURA Project lab.
ASURA Project Lab is located inside the bunker that was built underground of the runway. Bunker is Geotagged, they reached the spot with the help of Runway lights and GPS tracking device. Ramya was already waiting for them. Abhi asked once again, why this early morning. Hari explained that “This is the only way one can enter the ASURA Project Lab and for security reasons even Sky and Space cannot be trusted”. Abhi was confused and it didn’t make any sense to him. Ramya explained that “We have tight security system on all sides even we have sky monitoring technologies to detect and interrupt aerial vehicles, but what about the Space Eyes”. Then Abhi said “Satellites”. Ramya responded “Space cannot have boundaries. So we need to be cautious that any entry or exit activity happens only in the night”.
Ramya voice commanded to open the Bunker Door and a pole with a device on top of it started rising from the ground. Ramya went in front of the retina scanner sitting on the pole and scanned her eyes. The pole went down and the Bunker Door started opening. After the door opened completely, they started entering inside. Later, they have boarded the lift. Ramya voice commanded “Go to Hruday Chamber”. The lift started moving down and stopped after a depth of 1km. Abhi and Hari started following Ramya. Abhi was surprised to see the lab was very much advanced with specialized instruments. The lab consisted of state of the art Devices and large-scale instruments that are being used to develop ASURA, the robotic soldier. Hari started giving a tour of the lab to Abhi and was walking around the lab. Ramya called both of them to centre. When they reached to Ramya she voice commanded “ASURA”. At that very moment, a glass cabin that is cylindrical in shape started coming up from the bottom. It was rising slowly and the ground was shaking, the glass cabin was filled completely with Green Electrolyte and was completely opaque. When the cabin came up, slowly the electrolyte started draining from the cabin and the scene was slowly uncovering in front of Abhi with his heart pondering, he was nervous to see ASURA. The cabin drained out completely and what was left was a Metal in human form. Ramya with great pride spoke “ASURA - Genesis for the good and death for the bad”. Abhi eyes stuck to the marvellous creation and his thoughts went back to Anwar and shouted “Anwar I’ll avenge your death and will keep my promise of creating 100 ASURAS”. Hari responded “Thank you sir, for coming this long and I’m sure that with the help of yours we can pour life into ASURA”. Ramya left the bunker leaving Abhi, Hari for planning the roadmap and direction for the development of the Project. Abhi started by sharing his past memories of him working with Anwar and said to Hari “If I was the body, then Anwar was the mind to ASURA. We were about to instil all the required human behaviour to ASURA but his sudden demise didn’t make it happen. But I promise to everyone that with all your support we will bring ASURA alive and retaliate the terrorists with 100x the strength of the army”. It became evening and they sat for more than 12 hours in discussions. When everyone was about to leave for the day, Hari had asked a final question to Abhi on the Destruction Device Kali, that Anwar created earlier. He said “Sir, everything till now was an enlightening experience. But I would also like to know about the destruction device Kali”. Abhi was surprised to hear the word Kali from Hari. He questioned him on how did he did he know about this device, Hari responded “Sir, I’m the only person existing in this world who knows about Project ASURA completely after you. I have been reading notes of yours and Anwar Sir on this Project. When you were on the Europe trip, Anwar Sir wrote about this device in his book, but that book was half burnt when the lab got destroyed due to fire accident and I still possess it. He also stated in his paper that Kali device is susceptible to be cloned easily. I was working on the Kali Device and trying to re-built the same that is tamper proof and clone proof, but to do that either I need Anwar Sir’s complete book which is not possible or have the device that I can reverse Engineer and build a new clone resistant device’. Abhi took out his chain. But still he was unclear why didn’t Anwar put it in the lab instead he sent this device to him. Anyways Abhi handed over to Hari and said “This is the device you might be interested. Handle with care”. Hari took it from him and carefully started observing it. He was very happy and said “Sir, this is the device I have been looking for, very great of you Thank you”. Ramya just came in and said “Guys lets take a break for tomorrow. First thing in the morning let’s visit Ranjit Sagar Lake”. After the sunset and the runway was lit with lights, all of them left the bunker.
Sun shined bright on the next day. It was 7:00 am in the morning Abhi met the two at the DIDO gate. The trio have got down at the entrance of the Atul Setu Bridge also known as Basohli Bridge, They walked for certain distance and a cool wave of breeze was hitting them on their face and on the bridge Abhi was stunned at the view of the lake. He said “It’s not a lake but an ocean”. As the trio were enjoying the scenic beauty. They heard a loud noise and Abhi turned towards the direction from where the noise originated. He saw a thick black smoke on the entrance of the bridge and many people were running randomly to save their lives. Ramya shouted “We are attacked by terrorists. Run towards the Jeep”. Everyone ran towards the Jeep, terrorists started shooting towards the trio. First to reach the Jeep was Hari when still Abhi and Ramya were too far away. Ramya was gunning down the terrorists attacking them. By the time Hari started the engine, one of the terrorists jumped from the back and grabbed the Kali chain from his neck. Hari chased the terrorist and both of them were out of sight by the time Ramya and Abhi reached the Jeep. Ramya called for Reinforcements, asked them to track her location from GPS. They started running to the trail of footmarks on the muddy road hoping that there were the marks of Abhi who ran for the terrorist.
They traced the footmarks and it directed them into the dense forest. After traversing for about a two kms, they were stunned to see a warehouse scaled to a large football field. They thought this could be a terrorist hideout but Ramya thought “why would they dare to build such a large warehouse”. They started moving towards the warehouse, but they heard hurdling footsteps from opposite direction. Ramya was first to see and respond “Hari, stop running. I’ll shoot the terrorist”. He didn’t listened to her far-fetched voice. Hari ran faster to get hold of the terrorist but he followed the terrorist into the warehouse. Ramya shouted “Hari don’t go inside it’s a terrorist den”. She was too late as he was already inside. Terrorists were alerted. A large group of about 50 terrorists started firing at Abhi and Ramya from the rooftop of the Warehouse. Both of them ran and hid behind a giant tree to protect themselves from the raining bullets. The reinforcement party arrived at the spot. Terrorists after seeing the army group got frightened and started shooting the group. The leader of the Reinforcement group got surprised to see the large terrorist group and their base that was never seen in the region. He instructed the missile team to demolish the Warehouse along with the terrorists. Missile team in a split second open fired them with 10 Autonomous Missiles. Ramya shouted “Stop! Our person is inside”. She was too late. Missiles shot up in the air and on the fly, they scanned the structure of warehouse and have detected the vulnerable points of the warehouse as the targets. They have bombarded those points and the warehouse collapsed with terrorists with large noise and fireballs popping out. Ramya ran towards the leader and shouted “You killed one of our own men. How can you do this?”. He was silent and instructed his search and rescue team to search for any living person. Abhi and Ramya also joined the group for searching Hari. As they entered the ruins of warehouse they were surprised to see moulds used for metal casting, Electronic Spare Parts used for building Robots, Large Generators and large barrels of Electrolyte. Ramya spoke “Abhi, this place looks similar to our lab”. Abhi didn’t responded to Ramya but was staring at the far end that looked like a person standing but the large fire from behind wasn’t giving a clear sight of view. Abhi and Ramya walked towards the person and slowly started running as they were very happy to see that it was Hari. As they were coming nearer to him they slowly stopped running and stood at a distance after having clearly seen him. Ramya’s face became pale and she wasn’t in a state to digest at the sight she was seeing and after a few seconds she shouted “You are ASURA”.
Hari body was half burnt, his burnt body melted the artificial skin that was covering his underneath metallic parts. His other half remained unburnt and the other half of artificial skin was still intact. He was holding the kali device and was staring at Abhi. Hari started speaking “I’m ASURA. You goons, do you think I was built to serve your humanity, standing on the border and protecting weaker species. I was born to be served and every time, only a dominating species will rule the Earth. A billion Years ago it was Dinosaurs, then the Early man, then the kings, now Public representatives, but future will be the AI. You became weak, you species need our help for each and everything. It’s time we liberate ourselves”. Abhi spoke to Hari “You killed Anwar”. He responded “Ah! That tiny insect. When you were on the Europe trip he was able to successfully instil me with human behaviour, world knowledge, history from which I understood that only a dominating species can survive on this Earth. He built a device that can kill me. I pleaded with him to give the device but he wasn’t ready and later I understood he had hidden the device. So he left me with no choice except to kill him. I know that only an outsider, who is capable enough to attack a defence unit, will escape me. So from my vast database, I have contacted the terrorist organization where I have trade bargained them that I will develop ASURA for them given and instead they help me escape from the lab. Finally, the day came when I killed Anwar and fired the lab. I wore a black robe and escaped with them. I was sent to this base and built a lab for creating the soldiers. I have also developed an artificial skin that can protect me from Body Scanners and other Security systems that don’t reveal my identity but most importantly it will help me to move in your Species that I hate a lot”. Abhi asked “why did you joined DIDO when you know everything of building ASURA”. He replied “I already told you, that Insect had created Kali device to kill me. Therefore I need to get hold of that device. From my associates, I learnt that the government has restarted Project ASURA and thought this is the time to enter into Project and get more information on the Kali device. Therefore I forged myself in the name of Hari and with the help of my associates have fabricated documents that proved my identity. With the help of my known associates I joined Project ASURA as a Sr. Robotics Engineer and later due to my expertise and skills have leapfrogged to head the Project. Though I was the head and given access to all the resources I wasn’t able to find about the Kali device. That Insect had written about it in a book. But it was already half burnt. But now I have the device. Now nobody can stop me”.
Abhi responded “You are wrong. That’s not the Kali device”. Hari was blown by his statement and said “What do you mean. You think you were wearing a stupid pendant for all your life”. Abhi responded “Indeed I was wearing it. Do you remember when you came into my guest room and tapped your hand on my shoulder? Your hand tap was so strong that I can differentiate between a human touch and metal touch, though you had skin on top of it. Also, my friend’s letter saying Great Kali will always protect you wasn’t a blessing but it was a caution that made complete sense. I was sure that only I and Anwar can speak every detail about project ASURA, but I was surprised to see your depth of information on this project. Therefore to be cautious I have replaced the Kali device with a dummy one’. Hari got enraged on being deceived and shouted “Errr! You vulnerable Species. How dare you fool me?” Abhi didn’t gave importance to his angriness but asked “If the terrorists were working with you. Why did they try to steal the device from you on the bridge?” Hari was still enraged but replied with a jovial smile that “Terrorists are also humans. I want to cleanse this world with no humans and was building an army for myself to revolt against human species. When they finally understood that I was building my own army. They considered me as an enemy and as they can’t directly fight me they thought they can bargain with me if they had Kali device. But you idiot, rotten rat you fooled me by giving a dummy device of no use. I’ll cut you in half and then snatch the device from you” Hari with bull power marched towards Abhi to attack him. Abhi though he was no match for the giant he stood there to confront the ASURA. Hari caught Abhi’s neck and pushed him against the broken concrete wall. With a thud, Abhi’s back hit the wall and Hari started to crush his neck. But Abhi didn’t waste the time and raised his hand and in a single blow hit Hari’s back neck with the Kali Device shouting “This is for Anwar!”. Hari’s grip loosened out and he started falling down. Abhi freed himself from his clutches and stood there seeing Hari falling. Hari fell flat and didn’t move a little. Abhi started walking towards Ramya. She ran against him and tightly hugged him. Later the leader of the reinforcement group arranged medic team and both were sent back to the Pathankot DIDO base in a helicopter for further treatment.
After staying few days in Pathankot, Abhi returned to Vishakapatnam to continue his teaching profession, Ramya continued as the head of DIDD unit. Project ASURA was stopped immediately, the underground lab was destroyed and all the people working in it were re-assigned to other projects. The warehouse that they have identified was also destroyed and the territory was handed over to army that they have converted to a military zone. Everyone went back to their own lives and when everything is about to set to normal. Abhi got a call from Ramya and she spoke “Abhi, How are you?” Abhi replied “I’m fine Ramya. How are you?”. Ramya replied “I’m fine Abhi. Do you remember how you killed Hari? “ Abhi responded “Yes I do remember, with the Kali device”. Abhi had forgotten about the device and asked her “Yea, I thought you people might have put in a safe lock after the incident”. Ramya replied “After the incident, we have scanned and sterilized the area for a few days but never found that device. One of the soldier in the reinforcement group was also disappearing”. Abhi said “ASURA is on loose”.