After the Apocalypse
Chapter 2: End Of An Era
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
As dawn began to break over Moscow on December 30, 2001, Lana Ivanova felt no small amount of pressure. Her role in the plot was clear and she had accepted it gladly, but as the time for its execution approached, she felt the weight of all humanity. For her orders that morning would, if properly carried out, have just such a wide-ranging impact. She crouched low, flattening her body against the roof of the Kremlin as further insurance against detection while daylight slowly gathered. Meanwhile, Constantinos Merrinov was setting his first part of the plot into motion across the city.
The lingering glow of the city streetlights, soon to be in competition with the rising Sun, was abruptly terminated as the bomb placed by Merrinov exploded, taking out the main Moscow power station and shutting down the electrical grid across the Russian capital.
Constantinos and Lana had known the full force of the Communist regime in the last decades of the Soviet Union, and were poised to take high posts within the Party when the empire fell in 1991. Upon the collapse of the Communist system, they and countless others were forced to start over at the bottom of the new Russian order. As their positions high within Mikhail Gorbachev's regime were well known and their distaste for the Boris Yeltsin government apparent, it was no surprise that they were among the first former Party officials approached by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's faction as he sought to take his ultra-nationalist message to the Russian citizens. Their efforts on Zhirinovsky's behalf had not been sufficient to see him elected as Russian Premier, but he had made it clear to his loyalists after that defeat that their quest had only begun. Slowly, but with undeniable progress, Zhirinovsky nationalists had been placed at high levels throughout the Russian military. Now, tonight, they would achieve through force what a peaceful pathway had failed to reach.
Lana heard the shocked cries of a city suddenly darkened, but thought nothing of them. Indeed, power shortages in winter were still relatively commonplace, and few Russian citizens could have imagined that this blackout was unlike any other they'd ever experienced. She quickly cut her way through a ventilation screen and dropped into the building. Relying on her long hours of committing Kremlin minutiae to memory, she quickly traced a silent path through the halls until she was surprised to discover Premier Yeltsin alone in a corridor.
"Easier that I imagined," she thought to herself. Four quick shots silently sprung from her assault rifle, and Yeltsin lay dying without ever knowing what had happened. Lana knew that speed was now critical, as the team charged with destroying the building would not wait long before striking and would certainly not delay the execution of their orders simply to spare her. Her life was suddenly much more at risk.
Similar assassins had swiftly removed most of the Russian government officials with remarkable efficiency, and as Zhirinovsky-backed militia units moved to seize the main government complexes, the occupied Radio Moscow began to broadcast a message to whoever managed to listen through the growing chaos. Zhirinovsky's recorded voice listed the full details of the operation, and explained that the government was reverting to martial law led by his forces.
As a lone helicopter pilot listened to the emergence of the new order, Lana raced from the doomed Kremlin and leaped into the cockpit. The helicopter lifted off rapidly, but not in time to avoid being rocked by the blast that leveled the building and trapped hundreds of low-level bureaucrats in an impenetrable mound of rubble.
From a command plane flying over Moscow, Zhirinovsky himself received the message that Operation Editor had been successfully executed. His first radio transmission to the leader of his new army would have impact across the world before the night was out in Russia.
"General Karelovich," he began. "It is done. Begin Operation North Wind."
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