Estharian Embassy, Balamb
Three of the firearms officers forming an element of the entry team had been killed on the balcony by the booby trap, and fourth was gunned down attempting to escape. Other officers had attempted entry through a skylight on the building, the rear and front entrances, as well as the basement via an adjacent structure, smashing through the wall with sledgehammers. Booby traps had greeted them at all but the basement, though only two other officers had been killed. The rest tried to press on.
'Echo Three Alpha, man down, rear entrance!' the leader of the four, now three, man team at the back door radioed in. He saw movement in the door, and a terrorist opened fire with an assault rifle. His men returned fire, but the leader was cut down trying.
Another team dropped down onto the balcony from the roof, encountering the hail of fire that had finished the last group. Two officers were killed before they had touched the balcony, the other two fired their submachine guns wildly. The terrorist within the room the police sought to enter, however, simply lobbed a hand grenade.
The cameras caught that second blast as it hurled the two remaining policemen off the balcony like rag dolls. They didn't get the rest of the carnage inside.
The team that had entered via the skylight found itself up against two terrorists. One man had been killed as he dropped down into the end corridor office the skylight led into, and the remaining three were now pinned down, bursts of fire smashing into the office from the other end of the corridor. Only one terrorist was firing on the three, though, using a light machinegun to pin them down as the second terrorist prepared a surprise for the three policemen.
'Is it ready?' the machine-gunner cried.
'Move aside,' the other replied, hefting the grenade launcher up.
It was a six-shot model called the Police Action launcher, made by a Galbadian company. It was designed for riot control, but able to fire any standard forty millimetre grenades, including explosives. This one had all six chambers with a fragmentation grenade ready to fire. The terrorist let a single grenade loose, just as the police were trying to return fire.
The explosion killed one instantly and severely wounded the other two. The machine-gunner had by this time grabbed a short barrelled rifle, and ran into the still smoke filled room. He shot both dazed officers dead with rapid fire bursts.
The front door team found itself facing a machine gun at the stairs, which had cut down all but one officer. He cowered behind the reception desk, as the machine gun ripped apart the area around him. The basement team had just made its way up, emerging into the reception hall by a side door. The machinegun swung around, the four police officers firing on the move. Three made it out of his line of sight, and hid below the stairs themselves but one was gunned down.
At the rear, the single gunman at the door had lobbed out half a dozen grenades into the back garden, before he leapt out to find all the police officers there dead. He grinned, and foolishly stood still, surveying his victory.
The police marksman who had been covering the entry teams at the rear from a building behind the embassy took his shot. The terrorist fell, a gaping hole in his head.
As the only four remaining officers radioed desperately for help that wasn't there, the terrorists moved. Two men had guarded the hostages in the second floor conference room, and the other three raced to join their comrade pinning down the police on the first floor. The first there, the man who had kept the police out of the balcony room, hurled a hand grenade at the reception desk for the second time tonight. The policeman there was killed a moment later by the detonation. The next grenade was lobbed under the stairs, and the three remaining police made a break for the basement door. Only one made it, as the four terrorists concentrated fire. Even he was hit, a bullet going through his leg. He hobbled quickly to the hole his team had made in the basement wall, and stumbled through into the adjacent building just as another grenade shredded the door from the basement into the reception hall.
As this took place, police arrived at the boarding school. The vast majority of the specialist firearms officers, trained mostly in the use of rifles and sub-machine guns as well as basic armed entry skills, had raced to the various hostage situations in the inner city, and now, nineteen of the twenty who had tried to retake Esthar's embassy were dead on its grounds. Only a few of the police arriving had shotguns in the boot of their cars, but all had pistols. Dozens of officers surrounded the building, and in light of the nature of this crisis, a helicopter from a news channel had arrived. However, all eyes were currently on the unfolding disaster at the Estharian embassy.
A minute later, news editors at channels transmitting coverage worldwide of the crisis in Balamb had to decide whether to keep the focus on something that had just happened, or something now happening at the school. A gunman had dragged a girl about seventeen years old to the door, holding a handgun to her head. Many split their coverage. It put an even greater burden on SeeD.
The phone rang on Simpson's desk.
'Dean Brian Simpson... Yes sir, I am watching.... He's right here, sir,' Simpson said, glancing at Zell. 'Yes sir, I'll get them. I'll call you back in five. '
'Commander Leonhart?' Zell asked.
'Yes, it was Squall. Do me a favour, round up everyone with CRW training, and the instructors for the examstroops. We've got a serious problem now.'
Six instructors, including Quistis, had the correct training, plus two SeeD who had been in charge of a class of Examstroops, including Zell. They, plus the other three instructors who had been in charge of exams for the four classes and the other two assisting SeeD operators, sat in a conference room just along from the Dean's office. Simpson was just preparing the call to the commander as Zell and Quistis arrived.
'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, you all know who I am, and you all know that we're in the middle of a pretty damn big crisis. There are five hostage situations in Balamb right now: The Estharian and North Timberian embassies, a nightclub, an MoD office, and a boarding school. They've all became public, as has a failed attempt to resolve one of those by force. The CRW detachment is now being rerouted to the capital city, and alongside the Balamb Defence Force Special Forces, will be on standby to move in and resolve the five hostage situations going on.
'Furthermore, the marine detachment on the Leviathan is now flying in by helicopter and will be at Command HQ in two hours. What isn't public is that a terrorist inside the boarding school phoned up the police and told them that three of their men have taken over a house somewhere in the city, and are holding a family hostage. Any attempt to storm the four buildings held or cut the television and radio coverage of the situation, they kill the hostages in the house.'
'This leaves us with a manpower shortage: Balamb Defence Force and Police are searching, but they need SeeD help. That's where we've got a problem. We need experienced troops to defend what we're still in control of, and the CRW detachment needs a minimum twenty men per assault. They only have eighty. We're getting support from Balamb Defence Force Special Forces, but there's probably going to be a shortfall of at least one element in the city, so I'll be leading one at Saint Margaret's, made of members of the command staff.
'It's confirmed the enemy, whoever they are, are now in control of the facility and are holding an unknown number of our operators and recruits hostage. The Marines Captain, the eight squad leaders, and a further eleven squads, under Zell's command, will be leading our attempt to take Fort Balamb back. I expect the twenty squad leaders to collaborate on an attack plan. Any questions?'
'Yes sir,' Zell said. 'Do we have anyone heading to surround the base?'
'We have a company on the way, and we're trying to borrow a satellite from the Estharians to help us. Either way, it's about three hours before we're going to be able to do anything in Fort Balamb.'
'In what way is Captain Dincht qualified to be in overall command?' an Instructor asked.
'Not only is he the most operationally experienced officer who will be present at the attack on the base, but to ensure there are no conflicts regarding him sharing rank with another three persons who will be involved in the attack, he is temporarily promoted to Major.'
'Do I temporarily get the extra pay?' Zell joked.
'Yes, but we expect change.'
Squall, General Fletcher, Colonel McKnight, Colonel Caun, and a Jochenburg-Born thirty three year old Colonel from the Balamb Regiment, Arnold Matrix, were in Squall's office as the conference with New Balamb Garden took place. It had just been finished, with the team at Balamb aware of what they were to do.
'Are you sure of this, Commander?' the General asked. The thirty-nine year old General, unlike her second in command, let her blonde hair grow and didn't hide her blue eyes behind sunshades.
'Positive, Ellone. I want Fred in overall control of operations in the city, and most of the other senior officers should stay here in case something else happens.'
'I'm not debating that Zell is the most experienced, sir, but...' Caun began, but her commander cut her off
'But what, Colonel? Acting Major Dincht has more direct operational experience than anyone available at the moment, he has CRW training, and most importantly, he is respected and somewhat infamous. He is additionally familiar with other persons who will be in control and with some of the soldiers placed under his command.'
'I agree with the Commander,' Matrix said. 'If I were to have been placed in command there, I would be unfamiliar with virtually everyone there, and I gather it's the same with most others here.'
'Well, sir, as I said, I'm not debating it, but it seems somewhat questionable. He's still somewhat hot-headed and his being a former member of your squad may be clouding your judgment.'
'The commander's judgement has often been questionable at the time but ultimately proven right. To be honest, Caun, whilst I can see why you don't like the man, I'm wondering why Captain Dincht has not been promoted before this and if perhaps success in this mission should not make it a permanent change in rank. In recent missions he has not put a foot wrong.'
'But the incident in Krastovia...'
'I'd have punched that little fucker as well, Eona,' McKnight interjected.
'Personally, I'd have shot him,' Matrix agreed. 'What Buchsenrov said showed no respect for the Captain and was unbecoming of an officer, even in a Militia. True, the captain should have filed a complaint, but tell me, Colonel, had someone mocked the death of your friends, the mission you had conducted and the organisation of SeeD as a whole, what would you have done?'
Caun tried to speak again, but conceded defeat. The conversation then moved on.
'I have to question the formation of a CRW element from command staff, sir. Neither yourself, General Fletcher, Colonel Caun or Colonel Matrix have been operational for some time,' McKnight stated.
'Well, Colonel, come with me,' Squall said, standing. The other three persons in the room followed also.
A few moments later, they were at the weapons range. Eight SeeD operators stood in and around the facility in full battle dress uniform, including rifles and helmets, and because of the current emergency situation, protocol dictated only the man controlling the door into the range would salute. The rest of the base was alive with troops mobilising to the city to search for the suburban house taken hostage.
All present put on ear protectors as Squall put a target up on one range, and sent the holder on its trolley to the furthest end of the hall. When it was there, he put his own ear protectors and safety goggles on. Half a second later, he drew his pistol and fired three shots in under a second.
The trolley rolled back. The man-shaped silhouette of the target had all three rounds on target, two in the chest that would have probably killed, and one right between where the eyes would be that would have assured a kill.
'Well, the paper wasn't shooting back, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, sir.'
Krastovia, Vologo Graznier base.
The base which had been home to the SeeD Special and Airborne forces over the last few weeks was quite far out from the city of Volgo Graznier. It was shared with Gdetoan troops. Thousands of troops were stationed here, and it would take an army to pose a serious threat to this base. An Army would normally be easy to spot. Except in this case, the militia regiments in the city itself were part of that army. As the slaughter began in Balamb, rebel fighters and treacherous militiamen had quickly eliminated any loyal militia in the city and began to attack the sheriff's precincts and sent distress signals. They were joined by five thousand rebel fighters, moving in from all sides towards the base, or holding the outer suburbs of the city.. The base was defended by three thousand SeeDs and Gdetoan troops. This occurred four and a half hours earlier on the clock, but with Vologo Graznier being in a time zone four hours behind Balamb, it occurred close enough together for the battle and the attacks to be linked before the battle was over.
That particular battle would unfold overnight, the SeeD forces here oblivious to the attacks in Balamb until midnight local time.
Back in Balamb, though, the situation was worsening. A hostage had been executed at the Timberian embassy, a woman clerk, and her body thrown out into the street. A note pinned to her indicated the killing was revenge for the assault on the Estharian embassy, and made clear that any further transaction by the authorities would lead to more bloodshed.
Despite fears that the house taken hostage was already a bloodbath, the police and military still swept for information. A chance telephone call a few moments after the news reported the execution and a wide police search in the suburbs led to an elderly woman informing the police that her neighbours across the street had three men enter their home about an hour ago.
Half an hour later, the SeeD CRW teams, supported by the Balamb Defence Force's Special Army Section for Counter-Terrorism, were prepared to move in upon their targets. At the Estharian embassy, the twenty elite soldiers from CRW's first platoon were prepared to enter. Their plan, based on intelligence the wounded police officer had supplied, was not to enter by currently existing routes, but to make new ones. Furthermore, the machine gunner was determined to be available for a thermal imaging shot with a high calibre rifle, to be taken by a SeeD marksman brought in along with CRW.
At the Timberian embassy, the thermals had indicated only three gunmen and about twenty hostages. They could not keep a defence as easily. They had also taken their hostages to rooms close to viable entry points. This assault would come via the balcony, racing to the hostages, as further units moved in through the basement , rear windows, and roof to ensure the enemy were overwhelmed.
At the school, the situation grew tenser. The front door opened, as the CRW teams, alongside the Ranger Air Wing "Rapier" squadron from the Balamb Defence Force Special Forces, prepared their entry. Hiding in the shadows, the SeeD and BDF teams watched helplessly as a girl, about sixteen or seventeen, slowly walked out into the open in only her nightclothes and bare feet.. Marksmen reported three men aiming at her from the door, but could not fire for fear of starting the fighting before the CRW team were ready. Mindful of the presence of the cameras and the soldiers, the police shone a spotlight ahead of her, making the cameras quickly draw to that. The girl walked into the light.
A single shot ran out, and the girl fell. The bullet had gone straight through her head, making a horrific mess of her face that the television cameras fortunately did not capture. But as the world watched, the terrorists had murdered an innocent child after having forced her to march, barefoot and wearing only her nightdress. When two officers raced forward, hoping against the odds she was somehow alive, they too were gunned down. Marksmen could not fire back for fear of provoking the militants into causing further bloodshed, and the various police officers and soldiers present watched helplessly. The teams preparing en
'Do not recover the bodies,' the leader ordered the negotiator with a megaphone taken from the sporting equipment. 'They will lie there until we meet our demands. If we do not have the police cordon moved back and all snipers removed, we shall kill another hostage. Perhaps this time we'll send out a boy.'
They had already made the fatal mistake, and the CRW unit grimly, and determinedly, continued their task.
At the nightclub and MoD office, the SAS-CT were present, and at the nightclub, with SeeD. They had already begun, infiltrating the vents of the nightclub with care to place men inside to keep eyes on terrorist and hostage numbers, and, when the shooting began, to emerge from the vents and attack. It was risky, but necessary, as the large number of hostages meant they needed to be ready to hit them the second the other locations were stormed: and the layout and nature of the building meant that they could not spend the ten minutes it took crawling in with compact SMGs and bare minimum kit through the air vents as part of the assault.
Things were simpler at the MoD office. Two teams of SAS-CT would storm it and kill the terrorists. Again, overwhelming speed and force was the key, and the Balamb Defence Force soldiers were determined to succeed. The
But it all hinged on finding the last hostage crisis. And when that was found, it all hinged on everywhere being ready to go simultaneously.
It also rested on the assault on the base being ready, and, in the hour since CRW had been deployed, the entire SeeD counter-assault was prepared. Just as the terrorists had struck all at once, the counter-assaults would strike on the same second, before news could spread that the other locations were being stormed.
When the other teams were ready, a team of regular SeeD operators moved up to the house in the suburbs. The six SeeD operators approached the house cautiously, three from the front, and three from the back. Two of the SeeDs carried SM3/B sub-machine guns, firing point forty three calibre GAP ammunition instead of the smaller 8mm round of an SM3/A. The other four carried pistols chambered in the same calibre.
'On my mark, everyone moves in,' the leader of the team radioed to the second team. They were now by the doors.
'GO!' came the cry a few moments later, and the doors were kicked in. A single terrorist was in the kitchen, pointing his pistol at a woman who was standing beside the kettle. The lead man in fired a burst of three rounds into the gunman, killing him, but as one man grabbed the woman and began to drag her towards the back door, the other two made for the living room.
The other three smashed through the front door and ran straight upstairs as the shots rang out, finding the second terrorist trying to run down them. Four more rounds were emptied into him as the SeeDs raced into the bedroom upstairs, finding the last gunman turning in confusion, unsure whether to fire at the SeeDs or the family.
The hesitation cost him his life, the last three rounds fired into him as the woman downstairs began to scream. Her two children joined in a second later, their father holding them close as the SeeDs closest to the downed hostiles made certain of the job.
Kicking the guns away from the dead men, another three bullets were fired by the SeeDs into each body. All of this took place in less than five seconds, such was the speed and aggression of the assault, achieving total surprise. Only twenty one bullets had been fired, nine of them technically unnecessary except to ensure the hostiles were dead.
And about three seconds after it became known the house was secure, the other teams struck in full force. As luck had it, the news had just received the videotaped demands of the attackers by Infonet Mail, and had just finished playing it as the first reports came in of the assaults.
'We, the Krastovian People's Freedom Militia, have assaulted the Estharian puppet army of SeeD in its very homeland. The lapdog citizens of this nation too are suffering for their allegiance to an oppressive and genocide regime, and for their acceptance and support of mercenary murderers. We have occupied the embassies of the corrupt Northern Timberian separatists and the bastard Estharian government. Furthermore, we have occupied an office of the Ministry of Defence of Balamb, an immoral nightclub where the debauched youth of this corrupt nation consumed alcohol and drugs whilst engaging in a sexual orgy, a boarding school for religiously misguided students and a single random home in the city suburbs. If Estharian troops do not withdraw from Krastovia and declare its independence within 48 hours, all hostages will be killed,' a balaclava-wearing figure in a camouflaged jacket said, standing before the flag of Krastovia, with two-similarly dressed men toting Liberation Rifles standing either side of the flag, covering the grey walls. It had clearly been shot recently, and judging by the accuracy of the statement with regards to what had happened, within the last two hours.
The cameras cut from the pre-recorded message to the ultimate rejection of those demands unfolding live.