Sapphire Dream


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Note: All translations spoilered at the bottom.

August 2nd, 2018

'The fuck are they?'

Jens had been sitting out here in the sweltering heat for so long. His cool bottle of Rāne had done little to keep him cool, sitting out in this tiny village café in the savannah, in the middle of nowhere.

He scanned around again, still searching for his contact. He spotted an old battered SUV making its way into the parking lot. Was this them?

Out of it stepped four men, three brandishing Type 58 assault rifles, the fourth looking around him warily as he jumped out onto the sandy ground.

So that’s him.

Still watching around him, the man introduced himself. 'Dynosos Mbanefikos.' he said, swiftly extending his hand. Jens barely shook it for a second before Dynosos withdrew it, watching around him again. 'You weren’t followed, were you? What’s your name? When did you get here? Who came with you?' he demanded, his fusilade of questions unrelenting.

'Of course I wasn’t followed, I’ve been doing this for years. My name’s Jens Enberg and I’ve been waiting here alone in the baking heat for about three hours already, waiting for you lot to turn up.'

Dynosos raised an eyebrow. 'No need to be so cutting. You can’t trust anyone here. You brought the documents, correct?'

Jens nodded.

'Good. We will agree to your proposal.' Dynosos said, before gesturing with his hand for Jens to follow to the SUV. 'Let us discuss it further in our hideout.'

The first stage of their plan was complete.

December 21st, 2018

Everything was ready. The duffel bags were prepped and full. The sixteen - eight males, eight females - clad in their tracksuits, shuffled about nervously. They knew the plan. Reko nodded. 'For the motherland.' he said.

They clambered into the minivan, and set off for their destination. Some used the journey to anxiously check their bags to see everything was working. A brief, five minute reprieve, before they arrived. Before they began their task.

It wasn’t long before they arrived. After climbing off the minivan, they walked beneath the gigantic golden letters that wrote out the name 'Sapphire Dream'. For 160 years this hotel had been standing in the heart of Sarazed, Iraelia. After tonight, that exquisite piece of history may be gone forever. But as much as it pained Reko, he knew it was acceptable collateral damage for their plan.

One man, loitering just within the hotel, spoke quietly into his wrist. 'De har kommit fram. Kommer följa.' he murmured in Xentheridan, nobody noticing his subtle movements.

The sixteen walked through the hotel doors, and through the metal detectors at the entrance. No beeps emanated from it; they had been careful in their preparations not to have any metal on them. Just as long as the bags weren’t checked. At least there had been no bag scanners.

But just as they began to lug their bags upstairs, a bellhop appeared at their side.

He was not allowed to know. He could not be allowed to bust their operation.

'Vi kan ha sorg.' whispered the man into his wrist.

'May I check your bags, please?'

That dreaded phrase.

It took Reko aback for a second. 'May I check your bags?' the bellhop said, more insistently this time.

'De kommer att förstöra hela denna uppdrag.' the man breathed.

Reko saw no other way out.

He reached deep into his bag, grasping the cool metal handle, before quickly pulling out the pistol and pointing directly into the chest of the bellhop.

There was a brief moment where time seemed to stand still; the bellhop had grabbed his wrist, about to shout some objection. Reko pulled the trigger.


The bang reverberated about the marble walls of the lobby, echoing deeply through the halls. The bullet flew straight from the chamber and into the bellhop’s sternum, flying through with a bloody thwack.

A chorus of screams arose, and the Xentheridan man yelled 'DOWN, DOWN, GET DOWN' just as Reko fired again. With a swift movement, the other fifteen reached into their bags revealing automatic weapons, as the hotel guests threw themselves to the floor.

The yell of 'STAY DOWN' was barely heard over the sudden cacophony of sound as the sixteen fired wildly towards the security guards, who, having been caught off guard, found themselves riddled with bullets, and collapsing to the floor in a heap.

The sixteen turned their attention now to the receptionists, who had attempted to dial the emergency numbers on their phone, and they too were shot dead in a hailstorm of bullets, wood splintering from the bullets that tore through the desks. Two guests attempted to run to safety through the front doors, but were cut down by more automatic fire, as the glass in front of them shattered from wayward shots.

Four of the shooters ran out into the corridor and into the security room. They forced the personnel within out and into the main lobby with the other hostages, and then began to fire at the servers. Room service telephone lines, live security camera feed, computer data, all went up in smoke.

A silence descended upon the hotel as the bangs of gunfire subsided, and the hostages lay cowering on the floor. Upon Reko’s command, the huge, heavy oaken doors upon the entrance were force shut. The siege had begun.

"De har kommit fram. Kommer följa" - They've arrived. Will follow.
"Vi kan ha problem." - We may have a problem
"De kommer att förstöra hela denna uppdrag." - They're going to destroy this whole mission
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Their preparation time was limited. Hostages were gathered from the numerous rooms in the hotel and forced to sit in the lobby, and their phones and passports taken.

'It was very brave, what you did there.' one hostage whispered to the Xentheridan man. 'What’s your name?'

'Lucas' he responded, his Iraelian thankfully fluent. He kept his eyes focused on the gunmen as they unloaded explosive shells from one of their bags. 'And it was nothing.'

'You saved many lives. Are you a policeman or…?'

'Tourist. Just a tourist.'

A faint burst of static buzzed in Lucas’ ear. 'Sitrep, over?' came the voice.

'All sixteen of the Marousian Liberation Army are here. Six or seven civs killed, eight wounded, but none are our target. They started the siege too early. We’ve not had time to locate the target. They could be in a disguise, and anywhere in the hotel. The MLA didn’t get past security: their bags were already in the lobby but they tried to stop them from being searched. That blew their cover and triggered the siege. Over'

'Copied. Keep watch for the target. Sit tight and wait for an opportunity to arise. Out."

A final sputter of static hissed in his ear just as a bag was shoved in his face. They wanted his phone and passport. One arm held upright, he relinquished both, placing them gently into the bag. The passport was faked, however; nobody could know their true intentions or identities, not even the MLA.

Meanwhile, the MLA had begun booby-trapping the entrance. A tripwire was first placed just next to the door which would break if the breaching forces so much as kicked the doors; then, a necklace of IEDs was strewn about the entrance, rigged up to a car battery, guaranteed to obliterate any attackers who dared assault the hotel.

Reko turned on a two-way radio retrieved from the bag as the dead bodies were dragged into a corner, smearing blood over the marble floors. Repeating himself over many frequencies, hoping the Iraelians would hear him, he spoke. 'This is the Marousian Liberation Army. We have booby trapped the entrance so you cannot breach. We wish to negotiate.'
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It took barely fifteen minutes since the siege first began for Tamari Elimelech to arrive on the scene, barking into a walkie-talkie at soldiers around her to start preparing fortifications. Sandbags were offloaded from trucks and piled around a perimeter. Civilians were escorted out of nearby buildings, and in their place snipers took position, watching over the hotel.

'...reports of at least ten armed insurgents in control of the hotel…' the walkie-talkie sputtered, '...armed with Type 58 assault rifles and in possession of several IEDs…'

‘Any demands so far?’ Tamari asked.

‘None yet.’ a police officer responded. ‘There’s an emergency radio by the desk, and we’ve tried making contact with them through that but there’s been no response yet.’

Tamari grabbed the two-way radio and spoke into it forcefully. 'This is Tamari Elimelech, head of the Iraelian Special Police Unit. State your demands.'

Inside the hotel Reko heard a small crackle emanate from near the reception desk. It took barely a moment before he spied an old military-style two way radio sitting on the floor under the desk. He put the receiver to his ear and heard a faint voice: '...Elimelech, head of the Iraelian Special Police Unit. State your demands.'

'Ah, hello.' he responded, a smile slowly spreading to his face. 'My name is Reko Adesideou, and I am here with the Marousian Liberation Army. We would advise not breaching the hotel unless you would like to end the lives of at least forty hostages.'

'As to our demands…' he said, taking a moment to trail off. 'We have four main demands.'

'One: the release of all Marousian Liberation Army members from Iraelian prisons. Two: ₪150 million in cash to be wired to a specific bank account. Three: we face no prosecution for our actions. And finally, four: we are to leave the country with safe passage via a private jet - there is no fighter escort, there are no surface-to-air-missiles targeting us, there is none of that. We will be bringing a hostage with us through all of this to ensure our demands go through, whom we will release at a later date.'

And with that, he cut broadcasting.
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Það er alltaf sólríkt í Beaconsviði
Hirsh "Harry" Tzachi had been enjoying araq in the lobby of the Sapphire Dream Hotel, making casual conversation with a stunning woman he had met earlier in the day, the first day of his vacation. And a well-earned vacation at that! Tzachi was a rising star at VinGenti, having put in five years of hard work to climb the corporate ladder. Sure, he had to step on a co-worker or two, but he did what he had to do.

Only for his well-earned respite to be be shattered by the sound of a bullet. The bellhop had already hit the ground by the time Harry knew what was happening. Before he knew it? He was on his knees with his hands up as armed men confiscated his phone.

Of course he made small talk with Kanae, the woman he had met, but he fumed. He never had a chance to stop an of this! He knew he could have done something if he just had time. Finally? He had enough. He knew exactly what he had to do. He took a deep breath and loosened his tie, just a bit.

"I really hope they bring us some water..." Kanae said softly, only to be cut off as Harry held up his hand.
He slowly rose to his feet and made his way over to one of the men holding them hostage.

"Hey" he said in near-perfect Mercanti, "I hope I'm not interrupting" he said with a sly smile backed up by endless confidence.
"but I think I can get you boys whatever it is you want."


As Reko stood there, surveying his hostages, one suddenly stood up and walked towards him. 'Hey' the man said smugly in near-perfect Mercanti. 'I hope I’m not interrupting, but I think I can get you boys whatever it is you want.'

Reko thought for a moment, and then cracked a smile even slyer than the man’s. 'Yes.' Reko replied. 'You can.'

Seizing the man by the throat, Reko forced him to his knees, holding him in place. Reko then drew his pistol with his spare hand and fired once into the air. Placing the barrel to the man’s head, the cries of the other hostages was silenced as Reko made his demands.

'We are looking for a man known as Doctor Imani Dualeh. He is of vital importance to us.' Reko announced, speaking slowly and clearly.

'If the Doctor does not reveal himself in ten seconds, then this man will die.'

The cries began again, as they reached out and begged for mercy.


More cries of pity.



The screams grew louder.



A barrel of a rifle was pointed at the remaining hostages, quickly silencing them.



Some of the hostages huddled together, unable to face the blood that would soon be shed, as they wept together.



Utter silence.




Harry’s lifeless corpse collapsed to the floor, as more screams rang out.

“This is how we get what we want.”

The shooting had done little to distract the remaining terrorists in the lobby, who had begun to rig the final traps about the lobby. The IEDs scattered about the hotel entrance were complete, attached to the car battery, which would detonate should the tripwire at the doors be broken. The next stage of their preparations was ready.

Another duffel bag - larger than the others - was brought to the centre of the room, and from it they took a drill, two metal hooks, and… where had they got a stepladder from?

A small hook was drilled into a pillar, then into the ceiling. Another terrorist fumbled in the bag, drawing out wiring and metal cable, until her hands rested on the cold, hard ceramic surface of a modified artillery shell.

She nodded to the others as she held the shell upright, carefully, oh so carefully, attaching the detonator. Slowly, delicately, she raised the plastic cover off the trigger.

“Start lifting, slowly.”

With metal cable tied about the loop on the end of the shell, the shell was slowly, carefully hoisted through the air, the whine of metal cable being pulled through the ceiling hook grating through the lobby. It was lifted higher and higher, and soon out of the terrorist’s grip, and up into the heights of the lobby.

There was a deep creaking of the wire stretching and straining, as the terrorist cut the excess cabling off. As he let the line loose, it dropped down briefly before settling with a thud, hanging in the air; an omen of death just above their heads.

“Nora, you there, over?” Lucas whispered into his mic.

“I’m here. What’s happening, over?”

“They’ve executed a hostage, but the target’s not stepped forwards. They're not in the lobby with the rest of the hostages here; they're hiding elsewhere. And I need to get to them. Over.”

“Sit tight, Lucas. An opportunity should arise to escape and recover the target when the SPU launch their assault, over.”

“They’ve rigged IEDs about the place, wired to a car battery. If the SPU attempt to breach, we’ll all be killed. I’d need a distraction to disarm it. Keep me posted on their assault preparation. ”

Reko was growing impatient. Even killing a hostage hadn’t forced the doctor to reveal himself. He had to hope that his deal would be accepted, to delay the SPU yet more.

“Ma’am Elimelech, do you read?” he said into the radio. “This is Reko Adesideou again. I hope you have had ample time to think over our demands. What is the status on the deal?”
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Tamari had been co-ordinating the positioning of snipers when she heard a distant, yet still shattering noise of a bang pierce through the hotel walls and into the Iraelian evening skies. She immediately stopped in her tracks, leaving her sentence trailing into thin air as silence descended upon the streets around the hotel.

“What the fuck was that?” she whispered, eyes widening in horror.

A sniper upon a rooftop nearby peered through his scope, attempting to discern what was through the tiny slit in the curtains of a window by the entrance. It took him a moment to decipher the strange dark red texture and the tip of some distorted spherical shape that could scarcely be seen from his limited view.

“Casualty, casualty confirmed. They’ve executed a hostage” came the transmission into Tamari’s walkie talkie.

“Fuck. Get me onto radio contact - we’ve heard their demands but they’re executing hostages regardless. We need to delay them. Get those snipers to keep reporting in, and troops all around so they can’t try to escape.”

Then, suddenly, came another message into the main two way radio on a table facing the entrance. “This is Reko Adesideou again. I hope you have had ample time to think over our demands. What is the status on the deal?”

Tamari picked up the radio mouthpiece forcefully. “The deal won’t be on if you execute hostages.” she replied.

A laugh emanated from the earpiece. “Oh Ma’am Elimelech, I trust you heard us dispatching of a small… issue. But we won’t stop executing hostages until we get what we want. Our offer still stands. What are your considerations?”

Tamari's mind raced, before settling on a quick conclusion; however, her superiors wouldn’t be liking what she would be saying next.

“We’ll agree to your demands." she spluttered.

"However, this is only if you cease executing hostages," she then added, more slowly, "but we need until at least midnight to get all of your requests organised.”

Reko thought for a minute. It was clear to see that they had to SPU by the throat, but they were clearly attempting to delay. Whatever. They wouldn’t be able to amass any large force to counter Reko if he grew impatient - that was an advantage of their delaying tactics.

“I think we should be able to do that quite easily, unless we encounter someone particularly… resistant. That gives you… just under six hours to get our demands.” Reko replied, before again cutting contact.

“Six hours to get planning, then.” Tamari muttered under her breath. Better not waste a second of it.


By now, hours has passed, and as time progressed the number of reports on finding additional hostages had dwindled. Some used the time to check over their weapons, examining the receivers for any specks of dirt or grime that might impede their action; a couple were pacing about aimlessly, trying to keep themselves on their toes, yet still so bored from waiting for so many hours. Others tried a conversation, some small talk in an attempt to cut through the otherwise silent atmosphere of the darkening Iraelian sky. But yet, despite this, nothing could lighten the thoughts or distract the terrorists from the unending boredom of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for any tinge of information to come from those scouting through the hotel halls - or even any information at all.

Reko stared into the middle distance, loosely grasping his cigarette between two fingers as the chatter of a couple of terrorists grew louder and angrier. What was with them, anyhow? They were arguing about something in their relationship, something so exceedingly trivial within the midst of this all. How could they be doing this? Talking about who lied about what in the middle of a damn siege!

The fuck were they meant to be doing now? Just waiting? Waiting for a report of their target to be found - but would that ever happen? They didn’t even know what he looked like, for fuck’s sake!

But there was only one way Reko knew how to get his target to reveal himself.

“I’m getting sick of waiting for this shit.” he snapped. “We need to let our friend reveal himself to us all.”

“You!” he bellowed, arm stretched outwards at some rather buff man, whom was quickly grabbed by the neck and forced kneeling at Reko’s feet. “Tell everyone who you are.”

“My… my name ist Gerhardt Köitel..” he blubbered through his thick Hessun accent. “I-I’m from Franktorf.”

“Nora.” Lucas whispered into his earpiece. “Something’s about to happen again. Keep alert.”

“Copy that.” came the faint buzz.

“Well then!” Reko boomed to the hostages who cowered towards the back wall steps. “If our esteemed Doctor Imani does not show himself, then we shall kill Gerhardt here.”

Gerhardt broke down into even bigger sobs, which Reko all ignored as he began his countdown.

“They can’t find the doctor still, they’re executing another.” Lucas whispered.

“Ten. Nine. Eight.”

“Lucas, do not intervene.”

“Seven. Six. Five.”

Lucas clenched his teeth tightly, resisting the urge to tackle Reko who stood grinning, his pistol pointed straight at Gerhardt’s temple, of whom began to beg and plead for his life.

“Four. Three. Two. One!” he shouted - but with no doctor stepping forwards, Reko squeezed the trigger, and with a BANG Gerhard collapsed to the floor as blood slowly trickled from the back of his head.

“Still nothing?” he shouted, staring forwards to the hostages who cowered down, attempting to dissolve into the ground. “Perhaps we will need another volunteer!”

As he seized another victim, Lucas took the chance to stand up, back pressed to the wall.

“They’re executing another one, and then possibly even more. I can’t stand by.” he muttered.

“Lucas. Do not blow your cover.”

“Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.”

Lucas began blindly reaching with his right arm along the wall, for something, anything.

“Six. Five. Four. Three.”

His hand settled on something rigid and plastic mounted within the wall. He looked quickly to his right and the flash of red caught his eye.

“Two. One.”

Without a second thought, he smashed his fist into the fire alarm, with Reko halting the countdown as he looked around in confusion amids the loud ringing of fire bells.

Lucas froze for a moment, like a deer in headlights, as the terrorists stood still, staring in shock into his eyes, seemingly captivated by the same surprise as Lucas. There was a brief second of a sort of eerie calm that descended upon the lobby, as everyone sort of gawped towards each other, caught in some sort of stupor, as if unable to process what was happening.

This was barely for a fraction of a second, however, as Lucas’ instincts began to scream RUN, YOU IDIOT at him, forcing Lucas’ limbs to finally snap out of their lock, and send him running down the hallway, as the whizz of bullets cascaded around him, thudding into the walls and ground around him. Behind him he heard the shouts of the terrorists echoing through the halls, their footsteps growing more and more distant as their attempts to catch up failed. A left, then a right, right again, up the stairs and.. a left? He had lost track of how far he had gone, how many flights of stairs he had ascended, but all he could do was run as far away as he could.

After running for what seemed like an age, Lucas sheltered himself in a room’s doorway, taking a minute to catch his breath and ensure sure nobody had followed him, and to his relief, nobody emerged around the corner. He was safe.

Then the realisation of what he’d done set in. He’d blown his cover, and possibly caused more lives to be lost in retaliation for his escape. He was unable to pass information onto Nora about the terrorists’ actions. He was alone except for the occasional advice coming into his ear, and even that would be unlikely to be particularly happy for the next while.

The only thing he could hope was that this doctor was just absent from the lobby, hidden in a hotel room somewhere, and not just exceptionally cold-hearted.

He'd be searching for a while, then.