Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 47

[16:37] <Hopeplo> [Mikhail Menshikov stood in his office.-
[16:37] <Hopeplo> [Stood, perhaps, was not the best word. 'Towered' might've been better. Specifically a burning tower.-
[16:38] <Hopeplo> [In one meaty paw he held a raft of papers, which he shook at the officials in front of him, who shook in turn.-
[16:47] <Hopeplo> ["Whores and whoresons," spat Menshikov. "The Federation dogs! Refuse me, will they?!"-
[16:47] <Hopeplo> [The only person who didn't quail at Menshikov's rage stood in the corner, her arms folded.-
[16:48] <Hopeplo> ["Your demands were excessive at best." Said Klara Abramova. "They were designed to provoke a refusal, so don't pretend like this isn't what you wanted."-
[16:51] <Hopeplo> ["Hell with you." Snapped Menshikov. "Don't they realise we're holding their civilians?"-
[16:51] <Hopeplo> ["Perhaps they were hoping you wouldn't take refugees as hostages." Said Abramova.-
[16:55] <Hopeplo> ["Fuck off." Said Menshikov. "They knew the risks. They knew what we meant. They still refused. Nikolaev!"-
[16:55] <Hopeplo> [Nikolaev- head of Soviet Intelligence- started. "Yes, sir?"-
[16:59] <Hopeplo> ["How ready are we to move in on that lot?"-
[16:59] <Hopeplo> ["We have three brigades on stand by, sir." Said Nikolaev.-
[17:00] <Hopeplo> ["You're really doing this?" Said Abramova icily. "You're going to kill them all?"-
[17:00] <Hopeplo> ["Don't be foolish." Said Menshikov. "I'm going to kill… Eh, a fifth, maybe a quarter, to let them know we mean business."-
[17:00] <Hopeplo> ["You can't be serious."-
[17:09] <Hopeplo> ["It's the only choice we have." Said Menshikov. "We can't be seen as them calling our bluff, Abramova! We need to foster a reputation that we mean what we say. Once we kill a few of them, they'll take us seriously."-
[17:15] <Hopeplo> ["You're really going through with this?" Said Abramova.-
[17:15] <Hopeplo> ["You heard me."-
[17:17] <Hopeplo> [Abramova stared. Then she tore off her rank insignia on her collar and tossed it onto the ground.-
[17:17] <Hopeplo> ["I resign. I'll not be part of your project to turn us into murderers."-
[17:19] <Hopeplo> [Menshikov watched her go silently.-
[17:20] <Hopeplo> ["Do you want her put on the list, sir?" Said Nikolaev.-
[17:20] <Hopeplo> [Menshikov nodded.-
[17:20] <Hopeplo> [Nikolaev rose. "Then I'll go inform my department. I'll bring word to you about the operation regarding the hostages shortly."-
[17:21] <Hopeplo> ["Good."-
[17:22] <Hopeplo> […-
[17:30] <Hopeplo> [The civilian bases were deliberately isolated, the better to keep UN eyes away from stumbling across them.-
[17:34] <Hopeplo> [The approach was by VTOL, black VTOLs filled with squads of troops, all wearing carapace armour, railguns at the side.-
[17:34] <Hopeplo> [The VTOLs landed, the troops pouring out, into the tunnels, into the down-below where the bunker-dorms sat.-
[17:54] <Hopeplo> [The tunnels were, as a rule, wide, enough for a truck to pass through. As they went deeper, they led to smaller tunnels and corridors, leading off to mess halls, kitchens, warehouses and dorms.-
[17:54] <Hopeplo> [It was cold and dark- the sun had faded into the west a few hours ago, and the only lighting in the tunnels came from the yellow lighting strips along the roof and sides.-
[17:56] <Hopeplo> [The squads peeled off from the main group, going down those empty corridors, toward the dormitories.-
[17:56] <Hopeplo> [The dorms themselves were laid out with wide, long rooms surrounding a central corridor.-
[18:00] <Hopeplo> [One particular squad made its way down one particular corridor, to one particular dorm.-
[18:00] <Hopeplo> [Two soldiers flanked the door, the others taking up positions behind.-
[18:01] <Hopeplo> [They counted down, three, two, one- then kicked in the door.-
[18:04] <Hopeplo> [Rifles were raised. A woman was nearest the door. She was tall, had brown eyes and light brown hair. Her name was Emma Calland-Guillory.-
[18:07] <Hopeplo> [The two point-soldiers fired, a short burst- they struck her five times, twice in the head and three times in the chest. A faint bloody mist sprayed into the air.-
[18:12] <Hopeplo> [The other soldiers ran into the room, picking their targets and firing, dropping others- a man in a wheel chair, Lucas; and an infant in a cradle.-
[18:14] <Hopeplo> [There were others, about twenty civilians. They moved deeper into the room, making quick work of unarmed civilians.-
[18:15] <Hopeplo> ["Squad nineteen reports first objective cleared," said the sergeant.-
[18:20] <Hopeplo> [The rest of the squad were pushing up beds, moving aside furniture, trying to clear out any potential hiding places.-
[18:23] <Hopeplo> ["According to the report, these were all Federation elite families." Said one soldier.-
[18:23] <Hopeplo> ["Mmhm." Said another. "There was a girl back there with purple hair-"-
[18:24] <Hopeplo> ["Alright, you lot." Said the sergeant. "Command's sent a new order, they want us to verify each and every body."-
[18:24] <Hopeplo> [Several of the soldiers grumbled, but nonetheless moved to carry out their orders.-
[18:25] <Hopeplo> [The sergeant himself walked over toward the entrance, his grip on his gun relaxing. He looked around idly for the first kill, Emma-
[18:25] <Hopeplo> [But she was gone.-
[18:25] <Hopeplo> ["Hey. That woman, did someone touch her body?" Snapped the sergeant.-
[18:25] <Hopeplo> ["No…" Said one of the soldiers. "She was right-"-
[18:25] <Hopeplo> ["There? What the-"-
[18:26] <Hopeplo> [The lights died. The room became dark.-
[18:26] <Hopeplo> ["Fuck, the engineers went too quickly!" Swore one of the soldiers.-
[18:27] <Hopeplo> ["Ugh, tell them-"-
[18:27] <Hopeplo> [They went silent. They heard a sound-
[18:27] <Hopeplo> [A sound of a blade scraped on concrete.-
[18:27] <Hopeplo> [The soldiers pulled down their goggled, switching them to night vision mode.-
[18:28] <Hopeplo> [A tall, disturbingly slim figure stood in front of the door, a gaunt, skeletal thing of metal, with long bladed fingers.-
[18:28] <Hopeplo> [Its eyes flashed a bright white for a second- their vision became scrambled-
[18:28] <Hopeplo> [The Sergeant felt a hand around his shoulders. A cold, tight hand.]

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