The Palms of Shiva --- "It is time," Ali said. "Okay." Anbar stood up and reluctantly put on his workman's overalls. It would be another hot and muggy day in Mumbai. The predicted high temperature was thirty-two degrees Celsius, with eighty percent humidity. The only good thing about the weather was the clear sky. Mumbai is a city with a smog problem, made all the worse by monsoon storms. But today the sky was literaly cloudless--surely it was auspicious, and the clear weather meant that the flight out of Shivaji International would not be delayed as he had feared a few days before. He started the engine of the van, rehearsing his lines and going over the plan as he allowed the vehicle's aircon to cool him down. Anbar inspected his face in the mirror. Thirty-five, fashionable stubble, a scar picked up in Waziristan running down one cheek. Then he turned to the cargo. A jumbled assortment of wires wrapped around what looked like an oversized black traffic cone. The fingertip of Allah, Ibrahim had said. A ton of super-high explosives wrapped around a half-kilogram of plutonium. Finally, they would have their vengeance. Anbar stepped back into the Mumbai heat and started up the sedan too, turning on the aircon for maximum effect. A shame that Ibrahim looked ill. Maybe it was nerves, Anbar thought. A few minutes later, they came out. Anbar held the door open for Ibrahim, who motioned for him to drive the van. Ali got in next to Anbar. He was nervous, too. "Ready, man?" "Yes." "Okay." Anbar dropped the van into reverse and backed out of the parking place. He pulled forward, checking that the sedan was following, then headed off the parking lot onto the highway. The drive to Wankhede required a long but uneventful hour of jammed traffic. The police were out in force, and he saw that Ali was eyeing them carefully. Anbar was not concerned. The cops were only there for traffic control, after all, and they were just standing around, since the traffic had scarcely begun. It was almost six hours until the match. He turned off the road onto the parking lot, and there was a cop he had to talk to. Ibrahim had already broken off, and was now circling a few blocks away. Anbar stopped the van and rolled his window down. "Hello," he said to the cop. Officer Ram Desai of the Mumbai Police was already glossed with sweat. He was supposed to guard the media and VIP gate, a post he'd been stuck with because he was a junior officer. The senior guys were in the air-conditioned trailer. "Who are you?" Ram asked. "Tech support," Anbar replied. "This is the media gate, correct?" "Yes, but you're not on the list." There was a limited number of available spaces in the VIP lot, and Ram couldn't just let anyone in. "The tape machine broke in the "A" unit over there," Anbar explained with a friendly wave. "We had to bring in a backup." "Nobody told me," Ram observed. "Nobody told me either until six last night. We had to haul the cursed thing up from Pune." Anbar waved his clipboard rather vaguely. Out of sight in the back, Ali was scarcely breathing. "Why didn't they fly another one down?" "Broadcast units are too big to get through the door of a jet or a copter. Not that I'm complaining. I get three-and-a-half times normal rates for this--away from home, special event, weekend overtime." "That sounds pretty decent," Ram observed. "Better than a week of normal pay. Keep talking," Anbar grinned, "This is ten rupees a minute for me." "Nice. Very nice. You know where to take this thing?" "Of course," Anbar laughed. Ram smiled back, and waved them through. Two hundred meters away, Anbar parked the van, set the brake, and left the engine on. Ali went in back. The match was scheduled to begin at a 1615. local time. Major affairs always ran late, Ibrahim judged. He'd assumed a start time of 1630. To that, Anbar added another half hour, setting detonation at 1700. The device did not have a sophisticated anti-tamper switch. There was a crude one set on each access panel to the warhead, but there hadn't been time to do anything with finesse. That, Ali realized, might be a good thing. A gentle monsoon wind was rocking the van, and a delicate tumbler switch might not have been a good idea at all. For that matter, he realized rather belatedly, slamming the door closed on the van might have... He shook his head to clear himself of doubt, then ran over everything he had done to this point. Everything had been checked a hundred times and more. It was ready. Of course it was ready. Months of careful preparation--and now, the moment. The engineer made a last check of his test circuits. All were fine. The humidity had not affected the batteries too badly. He connected the wires to the timer, screwing down the nut to hold them firmly in place. And that, he decided, was that. Ali closed the access panel, which armed the anti-tamper switch, and backed away from the device. No, he remembered to himself. It is no longer just a device. "That's it?" Anbar asked. "Yes, friend." Ali moved forward into the passenger seat. "Then let's leave." Anbar watched the younger man get out, and reached across to lock the door behind him. Then he exited the van, and locked his.