“You don’t get it, do you?” snarled Feodor. “I did what I had to do to protect the Baron. He is a noble, he is an important member of His Majesty’s imperial government, and his death would have thrown this oblast into chaos! Those are the kind of decisions a leader has to make.”

“Not with lives,” sobbed Viktor. “Not with human lives, not with people that we love. We fought together, Zinoviy. I would have died for you, and this is how you’ve repaid me? Look at what you’ve done!” He was on his knees, ignoring the still-burning fires from the destroyed automobile, the dead body of his younger brother clutched desperately to his chest.

Pyotr, stunned, could only watch. Rifles cracked all around them as Feodor’s detachment cut the assassins to ribbons. The Baron’s car and the remainder of the motorcade had sped off down the road, not knowing or not caring that his son was still at the site of the ambush with his companions in the State Militia.

Feodor approached Viktor. “I am sorry that he had to die,” he continued in a slightly milder tone. “Truly I am. But the only way to finally squash the Socialist Revolutionaries was to spring their trap, and placing him and the others in the Baron’s car in the motorcade was the only way to do it without endangering the Baron’s life.”

With the speed of a madly uncoiling spring, Feodor leapt to his feet, dropping his brother’s cooling body to the ground. He drew his bayonet–the same cruciform bayonet in the British style that he had made in his father’s shop–and held it to Feodor’s throat. “That’s not true,” he growled. “You could have sat in that car yourself.”

A hue and cry went up, and many of the remaining State Militia trained their weapons. Some aimed at Feodor, others at Viktor, while some like Pyotr simply held their weapons in stunned readiness.

“You wanted to lick the Baron’s boots,” Feodor continued, his words dripping with poison and pain. “Hoping to get him as a patron to better yourself. You used us, all of us, for your own selfishness. Especially him. Especially Arkady.”

“Think about what you’re doing,” said Viktor darkly. “By taking up arms against the State Militia you’re casting your lot in with those that just killed Arkady.”

“No,” spat Feodor. “You killed him. The SRs were simply to trying to wipe his filth off this earth. And you know what? Maybe they’re right.”

With a smooth motion, he drew the blade across Viktor’s throat. Gurgling and spurting crimson, the latter sank to his knees, whimpering as he bled out. Without so much as a glance at his corpse, or at Pyotr, Feodor turned to the militiamen.

“You all saw what happened here, comrades,” he said. “Who will join with me in deserting this rat’s nest and stomping them out, and who will put themselves in the service of those who butcher children for their own advancement?”

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