The assault on Grumash’s intelligence gathering ability started on July 26th, 1971. The first two phases of the plan – obtaining resources and placing assets in proper locations – took months. Phase three was an assault on intelligence gathering and only took days.
As I mentioned in the previous section we had obtained the services of a CIA operative in Slavernia. It took a little time, but we managed to bring him into the fold of the operation more closely – it seems he didn’t like the head of the local department, an overbearing, abusive man named Gabriel Smith. With his help we managed to get a fake wire to come from Washington, DC. With the holiday coming up our timeline was going to be tight.
Everyone knew the Slavernian Secret Service spied on the CIA, and the CIA spied on the S3. Phase three was all about breaking any ties between the two agencies in Slavernia and causing short-term chaos in intelligence.
The S3 got ahold of the cable from Washington to the CIA – the 15 page cable detailed out the CIA plan to remove President Grumash and replace him with an operative working for the CIA. Part of the plan also called for the removal of the large sections of the S3, including the liquidation of many assets (assets, of course, meant people who worked for the S3, and liquidation meant assassination.) It gave a date for the operation – July 29th.
The CIA knew something was afoot – the cable made no sense, and the operative named in the cable didn’t exist. The local CIA went into lockdown mode – everyone who wasn’t an American CIA operative was removed from the building. The CIA would have to clean it’s own kitchen and take out it’s own trash for the next couple of weeks while in lockdown mode – but it mostly removed the possibility that the S3 was watching.
That was the plan, of course – we wanted the CIA watching the S3 after the S3 became over the top paranoid of the CIA.
Our man working on the inside pointed out it was a false flag operation – the cable was a fake pushed down the line. In reality, the mole explained, he had heard rumors that the S3 was going to use the cable as an excuse to “defend it’s self” and assault the CIA offices.
Miles away I could almost hear the guns being cocked as the S3 looked out of it’s buildings at the CIA offices nestled in the middle of the S3’s compound. And the CIA prepped to hit back if it really did happen. All it would take is a gunshot to set it all in motion.
At 10 PM on July 28th we began setting the pieces to disable our own military for a couple of hours – we couldn’t stop them entirely, but we could slow them down. The hope was that if we could make it happen fast enough our new council would be in place in time to call off the Slavernian Army and Airforce. (At the time the Slavernian Navy did not exist, nor would water based combat occur anyway.)
There was an error in my plans. I am not sure who miss-printed my calendar, but it listed “July 29th” as American Independence Day. The CIA was already in lockdown mode, but I had assumed they would be like the Slavernians and come hell or high water they would take the day off for a holiday. Instead I could see through my field glasses that they were still inside. My goal had been confusion only – I wanted to keep everyone tied up while we worked. Now I knew there would be a body count in both the S3 and the CIA. There was no time to abort the plan – we had to move forward.
At 12:10 they detonated the explosives at the army base – the high towers of the front gates fell into the road, blocking it. The second set of explosives took out the bridge at the rear. The Army and Airforce shared a single main compound for the capitol’s defense. Throughout Slavernia there were other bases, but it would take time for them to get here.
At 12:10 we also destroyed the single building that held all communications and electrical feeds for the Presidential Palace. This didn’t leave them completely blind and deaf, but reduced their communication ability considerably. 20 men took places at the front entrance – no one was to go in or out while the other 70 stormed in. With me were the other council members.
The plan was a show of force – I wanted to kill as few guards and workers as possible. Hallways filled with our team should have done the job, in my opinion. Unfortunately they didn’t share my opinion.
The battle going in was bloody – 70 men were split into four teams in total, each responsible for securing a specific area that would cut off retreat for the Slavernian President. His total guard numbered 40 throughout the building, with another 20 S3 members normally on staff to watch the guards. Instead, because of the perceived threat by the CIA there were 40 guards and 40 armed S3 members. Our team inside was outnumbered 2-1.
When I kicked open the doors to the Great Hall where Grumash was trapped I had already been shot 3 times – fortunately, all of those were superficial wounds to my arms and one leg. I must have looked a sight when the camera crew turned to the door as it flung open. I was wearing all black, with a black cape and cowl. My newly forged steel mask covered the bandages on my face. Blood dripped from both arms that held my AK-47.
I strode in and emptied my remaining clip on the guards in front of me – they had hesitated a moment when they saw me, and I took full advantage of the fact. About the time the AK-47 finished firing another slug hit me in the left arm – the three men behind me opened fire, and finished the remainder of the guards, including the one who shot me. I threw aside the rifle – it was out of bullets, and there was no way I could fire it again with the damage to my left arm.
The camera crew continued rolling, following me as I crossed the room to the soon to be ex-President Grumash. He stood at a podium with a group of 15 or so people setting in front of him, an unreadable expression on his face as he watched me walk towards him. Their eyes were glued to me, a look of fear on all of their faces. Behind him, about two steps to the left and four steps back was Pyotr Baryshev, his head advisor. Pyotr face was like stone, save for the one raised eyebrow.
I closed the distance slowly. The battle had taken it’s toll – I had lost all but one member of the council I had selected, and even he was injured, now leaning against the wall. The rest had died in the attack. Two-thirds of the men who had entered the Presidential Palace had died while wiping out all of Grumash’s guards. If anything else went wrong there was a good chance all of my efforts would be lost.
I stopped ten paces to the right of President Grumash. “Lazar Grumash, you are under arrest by the authority of the Slavernian Libration Committee on charges of corruption, human rights abuses, manslaughter, and murder of your countrymen. Please step away from the podium and surrender your firearm.”
He stepped back from the podium, and his hand came to rest on his sidearm. My hand instinctively did the same, coming to rest on my .41. I cocked the hammer on the weapon – I was pretty sure what was about to happen.
“You’re not taking me anywhere.”
I’ll admit it freely – Lazar Grumash was faster on the draw than I was, but only by a split second. He fired first, striking my mask on the temple. Without the mask, or even if my head had been turned slightly differently, I would have been dead. The bullet produced a deep gouge on my temple and threw me off balance slightly.
Ex-President Grumash had no such mask. Even off balance I still hit my target nearly dead on – the .41’s hollow point slug stuck him just above the eyebrow. He fell back, hitting the floor motionless.
Killing Lazar had not been part of the plan – arresting him was the plan. Killing over a hundred men was not part of the plan. And that wasn’t including the deaths that occurred in a clash between the S3 and the CIA that began moments after we attacked the palace, where nearly two hundred S3 operatives died and three CIA agents – that was merely supposed to keep everyone off balance. I felt sick to my stomach, my head hurt, and most of my body ached deeply now. I stepped to the podium, stepping over Lazar’s body. “I, Vladimir Mortis, a member of the Slavernian Liberation Council, now assume control of Slavernia for the good of it’s people.”
There was a long moment as the people seated in front of me starred, expecting more. But I had nothing more to give. I was spent. The camera continued to roll, fixed on my mask. Later I would discover I was even more imposing than I planned on – along with the fresh grove from a bullet there were splatters of blood on my mask, slowly running down it, replayed in all it’s surreal gore for all the world to see later.
It was Lazar’s advisor that saved me. I would have continued starring at the camera until I finally passed out if he had not spoken. “Ahem. Your Excellency, would you like the body disposed of now?”
“Er… yes.” I think he knew I was loosing it. He stepped in closer – if he wanted to he could have pushed me over and assumed control of Slavernia himself at this point.
“Excellent. In light of his many years of service, may I suggest a funeral with full military escort and honors?”
The military. I’d have to deal with them soon, along with the CIA and the S3 – I didn’t yet know that the S3 had become temporarily crippled in clashes with the CIA. “Yes. That sounds like a good plan.”
“Excellent, sir. I will make necessary arrangements, along with informing them of the change in power.” He had been speaking loudly for the camera up to this point. Now, he stepped closer and turned his back to the camera so that only I could see him. “May I suggest you have a seat while I get you medical attention.” The words formed a question, but his voice indicated it was a command. He motioned behind me to the ex-President’s chair. There was more than one chair on the stage, but it was obvious which one I would be setting it.
I stepped away from the podium, and sat. I slumped a little, weariness hitting me hard. My new advisor spoke to the camera crew and the people setting in front of the podium. “The Emperor will be taking no questions today. You are dismissed for now, and we will contact you tomorrow with information on the Emperor’s next speech. And be careful of the bodies on your way out.”
The camera took a couple extra seconds to linger on me. It was nearly two months before I was able to see the coverage they had shot. It wasn’t hard for me to understand why the American media had dubbed me “Emperor Death.” Sitting on the stage I looked the part – Death had come to Slavernia and conquered it.