Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

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   Colonel Mendez took a big bite of the hefty ham and cheese sandwich. It was maybe not quite the normal thing to have sandwiches for breakfast but he really enjoyed sandwiches. On the TV in the corner of his office the news was replaying footage of clashes between protesters and security forces that occurred overnight. It made him feel very annoyed but he tried to concentrate on the delicious sandwich his personal chef had made him from his personal stores. His phone rang, and he was prepared to ignore it but glancing at where it was laying on the desk he saw it was General Lopez, so he hurriedly swallowed his mouthful and put the sandwich down while picking up the phone and answering it, hastily muting the TV.
   "Yes sir?"
   Good morning colonel. We're expecting a lot more protests today so your brigade needs to be on it. You still have the south-east section of the city."
   "You can count on us sir"
   "I hope so. There have been some small-scale mutinies in other brigades, are you sure we can count on your troops?"
   "Absolutely sir."
   "Make sure of it. There's some isolated protests you need to put down this morning and a possibility of a march in your area in the afternoon, make sure you're ready for it"
   "Yes sir."
   "Okay. Be ready for anything else that comes up during the day. I'll let you know. Also make sure to work with the secret police, they may need you to move fast on something and we can't let this get out of hand."
   "Yes sir"
   "Okay. [click"
   The colonel scowled for a moment, and then lifted the sandwich back to his mouth. Just then there was a sharp knock on his door.
   "Yes??" he demanded with great annoyance. The door creaked open and the sentry, a skinny private, took a quick step in and stood at attention
   "Sir Major Sandrino is here to see you"
   "Yes, yes, send him in" Colonel Mendez growled. Was the private eyeing his sandwich hungrily? Under his withering glare the private quickly saluted and stepped back out. The major then quickly came in, his green uniform well pressed and gleaming. He made a perfunctory salute an then reported anxiously
   "Sir, we are almost out of teargas"
   "How 'almost out'?" Mendez demanded
   "We only have about a dozen canisters left"
   "We're going to need all we can get today Juan. Call central command, tell them we need it"
   "I did, it's stretched thin throughout the department, they say there simply is no more"
   Mendez groaned inwardly, and his eyes darted to the television, in which in the dark of night a street was illuminated by the flashes of fireworks being thrown by protesters. It made the scene look like a war-zone, though the fireworks fortunately didn't cause terribly much harm.
   "Any other bad news?" he demanded"
   "Sir, um" the major fidgeted, "two of the five water cannon trucks are inoperable and in need of repairs."
   The colonel suppressed the urge to shout. Sweat beaded on his forehead.
   "Why aren't they repaired?? I'll have the maintenance crew jailed for treason!" he threatened, raising his voice and curling his hand into a fist
   "Sir, there's no spare parts, I went over there last night to inspect the situation myself."
   The major did look a bit tired.
   "I trust you put the fear of god in them nonetheless?" Mendez demanded. Everyone needed to be fully motivated in his opinion.
   "Yes sir I actually ordered their arrest and let them beg until I was convinced they really were doing everything they could."
   The colonel puffed his cheeks out. Well, the major could be counted on.
   "Okay, Juan. Assemble the company commanders, I'll brief them on the day's operations in" he looked at his watch "twenty minutes."


   Colonel Mendez was feeling a little better after a few hours. A raid on student protests at one of the universities had gone very smoothly, the students fleeing as his troops clad in tactical riot gear came charging in wielding batons and clear plastic shields. The ring-leaders were handed over kicking and screaming to the secret police. As the unmarked van pulled away and his soldiers filed out of the university gate a report crackled through his radio that protesters had taken over a small government office in the sector
   "Captain Hernandez, take your company to the government office on 17th street asap," he ordered into the radio, "use lethal force if you have to, they must be made an example of." So far things were well under control but it was still morning and unrest would heat up as the day progressed. He carefully looked over the troops around him to discern if any seemed disgruntled. None would meet his eye but that was normal. Did those two just coming of the gate have something a bit depressed about their gait?
   As he rode down the broad streets of the capitol in his staff car he noted how little traffic there was. Very few people were out and about today. The FM radio was reporting that the arrest had been ordered of the leader of the national assembly, for treason and sedition. Colonel Mendez was glad that was not his sector, that would be a sticky situation. He tuned the radio to one of the pirate radio stations run by the opposition. A strident voice was declaring the recent election to have been a complete farce and citing the constitution that head of the national assembly should now be the head of state. Mendez turned off the radio and glanced at his driver, who was looking blankly ahead.
   "I can't believe anyone would believe that." Mendez said to the driver, just in case he thought he believed it.
   "No sir" the driver said.
   Mendez thought of his family and their nice house in the north-west of the city. If the opposition were to win, he'd lose it all. If the higher-ups doubted his loyalty, they had his family and house in the sector commanded by Colonel Douro, and he could be a right bastard.
   They stopped to inspect the troops stationed near a major intersection. The sky was blue overhead and the sun was warm but not too hot. A faint smell of teargas blew in on the wind. Well someone's using it Mendez thought to himself.
   The troops, mostly just 18 and 19, stood around in their black armor, chatting with eachother, their shields piled nearby. Several of them across the street joked with a group of girls who were hurrying by. Spirits seemed alright. Mendez consulted with the unit's captain about placement of the barricades and water cannon truck that had been assigned to this post. The water cannon truck looked like maybe a small black weaponized trash truck, square and blocky, beetley, with metal skirts around the base to prevent anything being rolled under it, metal grates over the driver's windows, concertina wire around the upper edge to prevent anyone climbing on it, and and a seeemingly small stubby firehouse nozzle on top protruding from a remote controlled turret. There was the sound of a series of small explosions in the distance. Probably firecrackers or fireworks.
   A call came in from the secret police, they wanted assistance raiding an apartment for someone they wanted. Mendez detailed a squad to help them. A call came in from the general's adjutant, a large mob was forming to march down one of the major streets. Mendez looked at the city map on the table in the command van, yes this march would lead to one of the intersections they were already preparing. He ordered one of the water cannon trucks to the intersection, the barricades to be realigned to completely block the approach of the march, and ordered troops to several of the side streets along the route so they could close in on the marchers from all sides once they were stopped. It was only two blocks from where he was so he had the driver take him there.

   They heard the racket of drums first, before the mob came around the corner. It would not do for a high ranking officer to suffer the indignity of having rocks thrown at him so he got in the command van which was parked behind the lines, to watch through the reinforced window. He had to admire the courage of the protesters, as they kept coming on to the line of black clad armored troops pointing guns at them. A sergeant bellowed at them through a loudspeaker to disperse, but of course they didn't. Mendez could see the protesters in the front clearly now. They had bandannas over their mouths and noses and sunglasses or goggles on their eyes. Mendez cast his eye over the troops at the barricade, they were looking steadfastly ahead, pointing their guns at the oncoming mob. The several that had the tear gas canister launchers had them ready in the firing position.
   "Hit them with the water cannon, we need to break up their momentum," he ordered into the radio coolly.
   "Roger" came quickly from the cannon truck operator, and then the stream of water blasted out, bowling over most of the center of the front of the mob. Like a startled school of fish the crowd pulled away in every direction, but the two sides flowed around the stream and ran at the barricade. Rocks and bricks pelted down on the shields of the troops. A protester on the left side received a teargas canister to the chest and almost somersaulted over. On the right side a canister hit the ground right amidst the oncoming protesters. Effective placement Mendez thought, as it obstructed the oncoming protesters on the right, but did the soldier intentionally not hit anyone?. Those that made it all the way to the obstacles were beaten with batons until they retreated. On the right side some troops began to push forward over the barricade to pursue their now retreating opponents.
   "Hold the line!" Mendez hissed into the radio and watched as a sergeant got the troops back in order. The cannon truck had shut down the stream after its blast, to conserve water, and now the crowd was reforming, pelting rocks at the soldiers. Something bright came hurdling down from above and broke on a soldier's black helmet spewing liquid flame over several soldiers. A molotov cocktail. The soldier affected stumbled backward out of line and rolling on the ground, while the other troops around him also backed out of line and slapped at the fire desperately. The pitch of the water-cannon truck suddenly changed and then a weak spout of water gushed out and fell right in front of the truck. Mendez was struck for a moment with a fear the pump had failed, but the pitch ramped up a little and the spout strength increased until it was landing right on the burning soldiers and Mendez realized the operator had throttled down the pump to put out the fire. Smart thinking! he thought proudly. The lieutenant was beside one of the tear gas men and was pointing to the window the molotov cocktail had come from. The man fired and got it right into the window. A good shot but because they dozen canisters the entire brigade had were spread so thin, he couldn't afford to be expending them like this, Mendez thought to himself.
   "Alright boys, let's break up this party, we're going to hit them with the water again, and then charge out there and break it up. We don't want a massacre but use lethal force if you have to. I don't care about the ones in the back but let's try to arrest everyone in the front. When I say go, go for it. Lieutenant Ortez take a squad in the building to the left and get up to the apartment they were bombarding us from. Water cannon NOW" he ordered. Some in the crowd realizing the cannon truck was occupied putting out fire had already started to come forward again, but the truck was able to quickly throttle up and fired again, a strong sustained stream that it worked from left to right repeatedly.
   "Okay, GO!" he ordered and the troops rushed forward into the still falling mist, bowling over anyone who was still standing with the batons or shields. Mendez watched the crowd break and begin to run, with satisfaction, and prepared to close the trap behind them.

   An hour later Mendez was at another intersection, similarly situated enjoying a roast beef sandwich in the command truck for lunch. It wouldn't quite help morale for the troops to watch him eat it, their rations weren't terribly great. But they should be grateful, at least they had food. Another larger protest march would be coming down this way soon. The general himself had called to say this was a major one. This time he'd taken the precaution to assign a sniper to watch the windows of the apartment buildings on either side. He'd wanted to have two of the water cannon trucks here but one was out of water and looking for a functioning fire-hyrdant to refill.
   He chewed on the sandwich very deliberately as he watched the crowd coming down the street. How could he hold back thousands of people with four tear gas canisters? He had seen the questioning way even the major looked at him some times, all he'd have to do is give the order and his entire brigade might switch to the opposition with him. Or if he didn't they might switch to the opposition without him. He thought of his wife and children, of the good food they enjoyed and the nice house. In Colonel Douro's sector. He chewed the sandwich very deliberately.
   This crowd had many signs with slogons which they held aloft, and a man with a loudspeaker, who called no the troops to join them and support "the rightful leader."
   Once again the water cannon fired first, bowling over members of the crowd like bowling pins. The man with the loudspeaker was interrupted mid sentence with a squawk. After the stream shut off the crowd quickly reformed and the now-dripping man with the loudspeaker immediately put it to his mouth and began again.
   "Hit them again!" Mendez ordered.
   The stream shot out briefly but then spluttered out. Causing the crowd to pull back and then quickly reform and jeer.
   "Shoot them!!" Mendez yelled into the radio.
   "Sir the pump has broken!" came the panicked response of the cannon operator, as a wisp of smoke appeared above the truck. The troops at the barricade seemed to shift nervously, several looking back. The crowd began to come forward
   "Tear gas!" ordered Mendez. First one canister was fired, and then another, they'd been told to use them sparingly. The protesters would stumble away from the choking smoke but there were always a few who would hold their ground (and presumably their breath) and continue coming on. As the crowd kept coming, a fourth one was fired. A woman in a red dress stood defiantly amid the swirling white tear gas smoke. She didn't even have a gas mask or goggles. How did she do it?? Mendez couldn't help but admire her courage.
   "Sir, we're out of tear gas" reported the lieutenant nervously. As the smoke from the expended canisters dispersed the mob reformed into a solid line and began to march forward chanting.
   "Shoot them. Live rounds" he ordered gravely. He didn't like to give the command but it had t be done. Hopefully the crowd would quickly see what was good for them.
   "LIVE ROUNDS! NOW!" he nearly screamed. He could see the Lieutenant looking back at him, the radio next to his face. A number of the troops at the barricade were looking back at the command truck as well.
   "Colonel orders live fire" he heard the Lieutenant call out. Some troops leveled their guns at the oncoming protesters but no one fired. The chanting crowd continued to approach, slowly, intractably. Mendez watched in horror as one of the soldiers lowered his gun. And then the one beside him did too.

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