Liaojiang Railway Jiangbei Province Sihe Commandery 12:48 a.m. "Bao!" The sounds of heavy footfalls pattering against the gravel shattered the silence that had fallen over the dirt roads of the village. Accompanied only by muted coughs and the not so distant sound of a raging river gushing around twisted metal and pinned corpses, an eerie feeling had set in between the camps of protesting workers and the Imperial Police who sat just outside the village, illuminated by paper lanterns and torches. The courier hurried into the command tent, and, despite the waning hours of the night, was greeted with stern faces starkly set in the harsh light. Patterns and shadows seemed to contrast the natural senses, and the messenger quickly snapped a salute. "Lai," the commanding officer beckoned the courier to come closer with no subtle notion of respect. The courier quickly stepped forward and extended an arm, within it a sheet of paper. The commanding officer snatched the paper from him and ignored the salute the young boy offered. His eyes, from behind the shadows that covered his face, read the note with dissatisfaction before crumpling it and throwing it into a fire at the center of the tent. "We can not afford a hostage crisis," he spoke to the men around him. "Move in on the protesters and secure the foreigners. Shoot anyone that resists. These are orders from Zhenjing. Move at once." "Hao'a!" the men replied in near unison, quickly hurrying out of the tent. The police commander, who when more radiant rays graced his face thought himself a gentle man, feared the gun of his commander only slightly more than the blood that would be spilt today. He wondered if, perhaps, obeying orders was not the wisest decision. Liaojiang Railway Jiangbei Province Sihe Commandery 1:13 a.m. "Bao!" someone shouted, signalling an important message. Jie Balian jumped from the makeshift cot that he had called home for weeks. He had been selected by his fellow workers to represent the strike, and had found himself in a bind. Two sleepless nights had passed, accompanied only by the echo of crickets and marching as the Imperial Police had moved in. He was no longer in contact with the Union; the highest ranking Union member, He Dianle, oversaw four of the prisoners. He turned his eyes to the three who slept comfortably in the tent beside them. They had been fed and treated well, Jie Balian knew it would not be beneficial to their situation to treat them poorly. Though the Danish had oft treated him ill, with their haughty attitudes and racist preconceptions doing no good to increase worker morale, Jie Balian at least had respect for the foreigner who had worked, fair weather and poor, beside him day by day. No sooner had Balian's feet touched the ground than had the messenger arrived at the tent. "The police are entering the camp!" he shouted. "Shenme?!" he inquired with surprise. He struggled to gain his balance as he rose to his feet too quickly, hurrying out of the tent despite the blood still struggling to push itself upwards against gravity. He exited the tent and turned to the camp entrance to the north. He could see the figures of the Police moving quickly underneath torchlight, and he hurried to them. "Where are the hostages?!" they shouted. "What are you doing! There are supposed to be negotiations!" "Are you Jie Balian?" inquired the commander. "Yes. I represent these workers!" The commander unsheathed a pistol and fired four shots into Jie, his limp body hitting the ground below him. No sooner had he crumpled int a lifeless pile that had shots begun flying throughout the camp as the Police began executing the workers. Liaojiang Railway Jiangbei Province Sihe Commandery 1:17 a.m. The gunfire made everyone in the tent jump. The hair on He Dianle's neck stood up on end, and the cacophony of gunshells that followed created a pit deep in his stomach. He could feel his comrades dying. "They're killing us!" someone shouted. "I knew they'd never negotiate with us, what are our lives to them when there are so many others!?" "Zhukou!" Dianle shouted. He pulled a pistol out from his pants and rose from the chair beside the table where he had waited for, dreaded, the moment that had arrived. The hostages sat across the room, bound in their chairs, eyes full of terror as they realized their fate. "They did this," he explained in broken English. "They must learn. They can not do this anymore. We are people!" He raised the pistol and fired two shots into each of the prisoners. Two officers stormed into the room, and Comrade Bangshi lunged at one with a knife, cutting his throat open. "Gaisi!" Dianle shouted, raising his pistol and firing the last shot left in the pistol. The round flew true, penetrating the cloth of the tent and decelerating, increasing the damage of the round at the moment of impact. The commanding officer had but a fraction of a moment left to regret his actions before his brains were splattered across the dirt in front of the tent, to the tune of mass executions being conducted throughout the camp.