Vignette:Ågalbek Zanratig Sabskêlg

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Ågalbek Zanratig Sabskêlg
Koswoves̄, Argata
November 20, 1969

As Daka Nuvêvar rode his daily bus through the disaffected areas surrounding the factories of Koswoves̄, he could smell the acrid smoke that had lingered over the city for the past five days. The previous night had been a struggle to find sleep for Daka. Despite living a fair distance away from most of the violence, he tossed and turned throughout the night, perturbed by the events that had taken place throughout the nation that week.

Drowsy still, Daka tried to keep his eyes open as the bus navigated through the city’s lower-class neighborhoods. Daka always hated this part of the ride. Watching rows of neglected tenements pass by through the window, a slight tinge of paranoia seeped into his mind. This area was already dangerous enough before the riots started.

Soon after the bus had turned onto Hrênlênzas, one of the last streets on his daily commute, Daka spotted several dark green vehicles parked in the middle of the street, perpendicular to the flow of traffic. They had lightbars on their roofs, and on the side of each vehicle was what appeared to be some sort of government seal. Only when the bus got closer to the conglomeration of vehicles did Daka spot the lettering that curved around the seal on one of the vans:


The Internal Security Service.

Daka had never seen Argata’s gendarmes in the field before, but he knew that their deployment signaled a very critical situation. As far as he knew, they were who the police called when even they couldn’t handle something.

The bus slowed to a stop, and a uniformed man approached the driver’s window. He was holding an assault rifle.

Must be some sort of checkpoint. Didn’t think things had gotten that bad,” Daka pondered to himself.

After a short while, the gendarme retreated from the window, and waved the bus on. However, just as the bus began to pull away from the checkpoint, multiple gunshots rang out in rapid succession.

Daka and the rest of the passengers on the bus instinctively scrambled to avoid the gunfire. Several bullets hit the windshield of the bus, leaving pockmarks across the glass. Daka saw the driver of the bus slump forward in his seat, having been hit by one of these bullets. Daka could hear the gendarmes outside the bus firing on whichever assailant had ambushed the checkpoint, with multiple layers of automatic rifle fire perforating the air. A man in military fatigues entered the bus, and Daka peered up at him from his position on the floor of the bus, fearful of even slightly raising his head. He couldn’t tell if this man was a gendarme or not.

Everyone stay on the floor!” He ordered the passengers.

With that, the man kneeled behind the driver’s seat and began firing out the driver’s window. Daka kept his head low, keeping his eyes on the floor. He heard bullets penetrate the windows above him, and eventually, the armed man at the front of the bus, much like the driver, ceased firing and slumped over.

Eventually, Daka heard the gunfire and shouting outside die down. The whole ordeal had lasted around a minute, but to Daka, it felt as if he had been on the floor of that bus for hours. Amid the ringing in his ears, he could hear some of the passengers exchanging suppressed whispers. Some passengers were crying. He noticed the smell of smoke was considerably more intense than it was before the bus had stopped.

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