The Great Crusade (Reds! Part 3)

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Aelita, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. vlitramonster Member

    Aug 26, 2016
    You got me fucked up goddamn
  2. Aelita In ur means of production...

    Nov 10, 2008
    Earth, to my misfortune
    When I started this TL I did not set out to tell a horror story. But that's the nature of WW2
  3. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
  4. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
    Hey I was wondering about pan-Arabism in this TL or the state of Palestine and Zionism. Once the war ends in really interested to see what happpens in the Arab world and with the Zionist movement.
  5. thatsbunkers Banned

    Feb 3, 2018
    America and the Soviets will probably support Zionism while the French and British support the Arabs.
    RandomWriterGuy likes this.
  6. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
    Would a pan-Arab Movement be more successful?
  7. Mr.E The Man that Time Forgot

    Aug 2, 2012
    The Mountainous Democratic Republic of Colorado
    There's a Jewish-Palestinian state in the immediate aftermath of the war.
    StephenColbert27 likes this.
  8. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
    So no Nakba?
    StephenColbert27 likes this.
  9. Mr.E The Man that Time Forgot

    Aug 2, 2012
    The Mountainous Democratic Republic of Colorado
    Presumably no.
  10. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
    Good. Saves 1 million Palestinians a 70 year headache.
  11. StephenColbert27 Nasty as Hell

    To put it lightly. Although it sounds like this Israeli-Palestinian state still is a hotspot in the Cold War, so I'm curious to see how that develops. Definitely will be interesting!
    RandomWriterGuy likes this.
  12. Sidhe Vicious New Member

    Jun 20, 2018
    It's still a hotspot, but that's less due to ethnic or religious strife, and more because it's an island of Red in a sea of Blue.
  13. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
    Also hate to ask but what's the Discord link?
  14. Crunch Buttsteak Supreme Thunder! Donor

    Oct 10, 2014
    I was gonna PM you the link but I can’t send you PMs
  15. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
    How come?
  16. Libertad Interdimensional Traveler Anarchist

    Jul 1, 2011
    Malayang Republika ng Pilipinas

    Yeah, I can't do the same thing. I am supposed to provide to you the link as well.

    The following error occurred:
    You may not start a conversation with the following recipients: RandomWriterGuy.

    You may want to check your settings.

    @Crunch Buttsteak What's your name on discord?
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
    RandomWriterGuy likes this.
  17. RandomWriterGuy Bernie Sanders Hindsight 2020

    Mar 22, 2012
  18. Threadmarks: Short Story - Icebreaker (Fall 1940)

    Aelita In ur means of production...

    Nov 10, 2008
    Earth, to my misfortune
    So this one's going to be a bit out of order, but I've been picking away at this short story for a while now and it's finally done. So here's another one of Janey's reminiscences about her life in the war.


    What was Russia like? That’s a big question. It’s one thing to quote statistics; how many time zones, how many square kilometers—but I didn’t really understand just how big the Soviet Union was until I took the Trans-Siberian Railway.

    The Pacific Ocean was vast, but we didn’t have much time to spend topside. For all practical purposes, our universe was the cramped holds of the Merchant Marine troop carrier, where we were stacked like sardine cans, five bunks high.

    But on the trains lurching their way from Vladivostok to Moscow, the vast stands of pine trees seemed to stretch out to boundless infinity. I’d seen a fair amount of America from outside a train window, and now that seemed small somehow compared to Russia.

    We were the luckier ones when we arrived. We were moving into some barracks that had been vacated by the Soviet 18th Rifle Division. For a mixture of practical and symbolic reasons, we detrained in full combat gear, weapons and all. Major General Dunne wanted us to give the appearance of being combat ready, though I doubt we’d be of much use without our headquarters, support units, supply train and everything else stretched out on westbound trains on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. I suppose we could have given a gallant bayonet charge.

    I zipped up my field jacket as the chilly night air embraced me. The platoon followed after, stiffly jumping onto the brick platform.

    “Second platoon, stay close,” I said, ushering them towards an empty section of the station.

    Forty-four uneasy young men filtered towards me, organically grouping together in their sections, section leader at the fore. I silently counted heads.

    “All present and accounted for, lieutenant,” said Platoon Sergeant Ozimov.

    I said, “No one got lost in twenty meters’ march from the train. The Nazis will never know what hit them.” That got a tired chuckle from the men. “Alright, we’re going to be marching to wherever they’re sending us. The General wants us to make a show of it, show our comrades here that they’re not alone in the fight. So step lively. We’ll do marching cadences, but nothing too bawdy.”

    “Not like it would matter,” quipped Sergeant Montalbán.

    The cigarettes and lighters were already out. The dim orange light revealed several days of stubble on their faces. The small talk was familiar: the monotony of the C-Rations, hope for a hot meal and a lukewarm shower, tempered anxiety about finally facing the enemy.

    I heard Ozimov whisper behind me, “Lieutenant, can I talk to you in private?”

    I nodded, and followed after him to a quiet corner of the station.

    Quiet was relative of course. The train was marshalling forward, filling the air with screeching metal and the chug of its steam engine. Ozimov fidgeted with his rifle strap a moment. He spoke in Yiddish now. “Lieutenant, it’s about the men.”

    I sighed. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good. The soldiers were a motley mix of all the races and creeds you could find in America. Quite a few spoke German or Russian. A few spoke Spanish or Norwegian, and my radioman was fluent in several Chinese dialects. As far as I knew, only Ozimov and I were decently fluent in Yiddish. I replied, “What about the men?”

    “There have been…rumblings about your leadership. While I don’t agree with their assessment—“

    “Get to the point, Isaak.”

    “Some of the men aren’t sure about a woman leading them in combat.”

    I felt my gut wrench a little bit. “I’ve proved them wrong before. I’ll do it again.” I brushed aside the feeling of annoyance. I clung to the conviction that having overcome all the obstacles and met the same high standards expected of my peers, that I belonged in the combat branches as much as anyone else.

    While the men smoked, I was summoned with the rest of the platoon leaders for a quick brief. Chief Lieutenant Oldman was chomping on an unlit cigar when I arrived. Just barely over the height minimum for the Army, Terrence Oldman was a wiry Anglo, clean-shaven and severe. He cradled his steel helmet in front of himself like a bible. “I’ve got good news and bad news.”

    “Good news first,” said Shaw, the First Platoon CO.

    “We’re actually going to have a roof over our heads while we wait for the rest of the 101st to catch up to us. The Soviet liaison didn’t say much, but there are mess facilities. So I want to get everyone a hot meal tomorrow.”

    “Okay, what’s the bad news?”

    “I don’t think we’ll be staying here for long. We’re going to be drilling hard starting tomorrow. You can all guess what’s coming.”

    “I figured they wouldn’t move us half-way around the world for nothing,” I quipped, “Best foot forward.”

    “Damn straight, Schafer,” said Oldman, “We leave in five. Dismissed.”

    The company formed up crisply. We weren’t exactly parade worthy in our olive green combat uniforms and helmets, laden down by our packs, weapons and ammunition, but we marched as proudly as any of the King’s Grenadier Guards. Oldman led the company in singing “John Brown’s Body.” We sang proudly as we marched.

    Moscow wasn’t like the city we’d seen in the newsreels before the war. A pall lay over the city, like a vigil on hope’s deathbed. The once bustling streets were all but empty. Armed men patrolled the streets somberly. Anti-aircraft cannons and searchlights lay nestled behind sandbags on the street corners and in the city parks.

    Some of the city’s residents opened their shutters to see as we marched by. I think some cheered. The mood of the soldiers and militia brightened as we past. We weren’t the first American troops to come, but our presence was a welcome sight. Our column was a single battalion, barely even a finger in the dike holding back the flood. But I suppose it was good to be reminded you weren’t alone in the struggle.

    The barracks were arrayed in a complex on the outskirts of Moscow. The corrugated galvanized steel Quonset huts looked just like the ones back home. There were trucks rushing about the base. Anxious young men and stern old officers milled about.


    Barracks are the same everywhere. The old saying in the army is that 95 percent of it is killing time. The rest is killing time. I spent the coming weeks busily preparing for the great unknown operation that everyone knew was coming but no one could speak about.

    Just getting everyone three hots and a cot had been a herculean task. The barracks we were billeted in had been looted in the panic spread by Operation Teutonic. Most of the beds and footlockers had been pilfered without a trace of paperwork. I’m sure a lot of it had ended up on the black market.

    The cold fall days were spent drilling. Down time was consumed with keeping uniforms and equipment in ready condition. The meals were light, and a lot of it really wasn’t to taste.

    And yet somehow, in between the pants-shitting terror at facing the most fearsome enemy we’ve ever known, who had laid low the multi-millions strong RKKA; the hours spent at rifle ranges and field exercises; and the constant struggle rustle up good food and smokes; soldiers still always find ways to be up to no good.

    I had to cancel the few passes we had been allotted after fishing one private out of the local equivalent of a drunk tank. It seems Private Owen Richards from Nashville, Tennessee had a bit too much, and made an ill-advised, unsuccessful pass at a local party official’s daughter.

    If that had been the last of my troubles, it would have been a cakewalk. But I also had rumblings of mutiny in my command. As you can guess, there can be…difficulties…in holding people’s respect when they think they’re part of some experiment in social engineering.

    The Army had plucked its best and brightest women soldiers from their units, and sent us all to the Military Academy, to see if we’d sink or swim. And then, once we’d made it through that test, their prize guinea pigs were too much of an investment to waste on the Amazon units themselves. No, they’d leave that to politically unreliable men and ninety day wonders out of OCS.

    A part of me reveled in the challenge. But I’m a sucker, I’ll admit. I’d been goaded into applying for Parachute School by an academic advisor. Looking back, I’m sure Major Geddy had me figured out day one: the best way to push me to give 110 percent was to tell me I didn’t have what it took. Boy I sure showed him, straight into the loving arms of the Airborne.

    It was an unseasonably warm day in late October when we finally got the battle plan for Operation Icebreaker. The Smolensk and Bryansk Fronts would begin a counteroffensive to push the presumably exhausted Army Group Center back into Byelorussia. The 101st Airborne would be utilized to secure vital bridgeheads on the Dneiper River.

    It was, bluntly, a wildly optimistic plan. But Stalin had commanded it, and in 1940 his word was still law in the Soviet Union. But the plan would never be carried out. Army Group Center wasn’t so exhausted, and they resumed their offensive on the first of November. Icebreaker was shelved indefinitely, and we learned quickly that we were going to be committed to the front, along with several other divisions of the 3rd Army, as an ordinary line division to fight a rearguard action for Marshal Frunze’s attempt at a fighting retreat.

    Huh? When did I first see action? That’s a complicated question. I assume you mean staring down the rifles of enemy soldiers. Because we were in danger from the moment we left Moscow. Our trip to the front was under constant threat of air attack, forcing us to maintain camouflage discipline and travel almost entirely at night.

    But the first time we went into combat was at a little town called Glinka, east-by-southeast of Smolensk. It was a lush little agricultural community, surrounded by rolling farmland and thick forests. The Germans wanted to take it because a new paved road ran through the town, a perfect thoroughfare to speed the encirclement of the city of Smolensk. And we wanted it back for the same reason

    We had been in the action zone for three days when we got the order to counterattack. Those three days we marched under the veil of darkness, and hid ourselves in the day time. With nothing but K-rations and grit to fill our bellies, we dug our foxholes in between rounds of shelling by Nazi artillery. Second Platoon had lost four of its own before we even saw a patch of feldgrau. Three of them made it, but Timmons...he drew the short straw and had a ten-point-five land right in his foxhole. There wasn’t much left to mourn.

    I had nestled under a thicket and camo net that morning, eating my cold K-ration, listening to the sound of distant shells, when the order came. A runner dropped into my little hidey-hole, carrying orders from the regimental HQ. Isaak’s wiry black hair poked out from under his blanket as I began pouring through them.

    “Sorry, Isaak, looks like the nap is going to have to wait.”

    He stretched before folding up his blanket. “Coffee?”

    I motioned to a canteen cup next to his gear. As he slurped down the now lukewarm instant coffee, I felt a queer sense of relief. After spending days dreading the Jericho trumpets and the thunder of guns, we would get to face an enemy we could actually fight back against. We’d been blue-balled by the constant tension, like a wound-up spring.

    “So it looks like there’s some Panzertruppe holed up west of here in the village of Glinka. Strength unknown, but scouts did see at least one half-track.. Probably awaiting resupply. We’re going to go kill them.”

    “About fucking time,” he muttered.

    “Damn straight.”

    I’ll spare you the details of planning the operation, because most of war is boring. I met with Lieutenant Oldman that afternoon, plans ready. The other platoon leaders were hesitant about the fast timetable or the night infiltration, but I took Oldman’s side. As is custom, favor is rewarded by getting the hard job; Second Platoon would circle around the town to cut off the two roads leading west, while First and Third Platoon would focus the schwerpunkt from the north. Baker Company would support our attack from the south.

    We took a meal from the field kitchen, loaded up all the ammunition we could carry, and began our infiltration at dusk.

    The earlier estimates were quite a bit optimistic. Smeared with greasepaint, crawling through the frosty vegetation, we slipped by two cavalry scout patrols, and a few carefully concealed foxholes. We avoided them easily enough; it had been a new moon only a few nights before. In a way, it was almost calming. In the dark, the forests and farms didn’t look much different from back home. The black earth smelled familiar, pungent with the floral aroma of the fallen orange leaves. Up until we saw the Stahlhelms up close, it might as well have been just a training exercise.

    We ran into the first obstacle at around 0630. As our maps had suggested, there was a farm sitting betwixt the two dirt roads spoking westward from Glinka. And it was occupied. We’d have to fight our way in.

    I slunk up behind the fallen log our scouts had stopped behind. “Hawkeye” Denvers pointed out the two night sentries silhouetted by lantern light. They weren’t hard to make out in my field glasses. But the trucks and equipment parked outside pointed to more men sleeping in the barn and farmhouse.

    The air was cold enough to keep my eyes from getting too heavy. I had less than half an hour to deal with them. The battalion field guns and company mortar teams were going to shell the town at 0700. We’d begin the attack amidst this, and Second Platoon needed to be in position to cut off retreat or regroupment.

    I weighed over my options. I thought I spotted a flaw in the sentry’s patrol patterns. Under a parka to conceal the torchlight, I laid out my plan to take the garrison unawares to Isaak.

    He thought it was risky, but agreed we needed to take the position. As planned, Able section set up overwatch with the platoon machine gun and mortar team. Isaak took Baker section through the woods at the edge of the farm, using the positioning of the trucks to provide concealment. I took Charlie section up to an outbuilding to provide another point of pressure. That was the plan. I vaguely remember the tension as I countdown the minutes before the bombardment begins.

    There was apparently a third sentry in the outbuilding. My blood ran cold as I heard a pair of hobnail boots tramp across the wooden floor. He muttered something to himself, like “What’s that?” I glanced across the muddy field to the far side of the farm, catching a glimpse of the rustling in the brush. I sprang into action on instinct. I stayed crouched low, homing in on the sound. I slipped around the corner, and saw the edge of a helmet peering out the window. He had just about reached his whistle when I had grabbed him by the collar and roughly yanked him out the broken window. Before I knew it, he was flat on his back before me, my knife planted in his throat. A gurgle of blood spittled out of his mouth as he flailed.

    It almost didn’t seem real, like I was watching it on the silver screen. I pulled my Garand to ready, and scanned for more threats. I motioned to clear the building. Corporal Peters took his rifle team in through the windows. After hearing the ‘clear’ signal, I grabbed this German gefreiter’s now limp body, and dragged him into the building. In the dim lamplight, I got a better look at him, and the reality started to settle in.

    He looked like he was about seventeen, gray eyes and a smooth baby-face with a hint of blond peach fuzz on his upper lip. The bloody spittle collected like profane lipstick around his mouth, a single red line down the corner of his cheek. Sergeant Collier doused the light, and I felt a bit more okay with this. I still felt like throwing up. I could see Collier nod grimly out of the corner of my eye.

    I shoved all of the revulsion down with the rest of the bile. We’d press on to the main building. With less than a minute left, we began our jog. We arrived just as second section had finished clearing the empty barn. Isaak and crew had made short work of the two sentries. As the blasts began to echo over the farm, we stormed the main building. There’s nothing romantic about catching men in their bunks, but it is certainly efficient. I think of the two sections or so of men we found there, we only shot two of them. The early birds were wormfood this time. The rest roused bleary eyed from their bunks, bewildered by the men in unfamiliar uniforms shouting at them.

    I flashed my torch across the field. The response came quick; two quick strobes from Sergeant Kubiscz’s torch as I began setting overwatch to cover Able’s advance.

    One thing I should note: you don’t really see a battle. Between everyone doing their damnedest not to be seen, and all the smoke and haze churned up by artillery and guns, most times you’ll only catch fleeting glimpses of the enemy. But you’ll definitely hear it. And smell it. The sulfury stench of cordite and TNT, especially after the big guns open up on you, is nauseating. Now imagine the loudest bang you can. The shell of a German 10.5 cm divisional gun is louder than that. One of our own 152 mm howitzers is even louder still.

    Just when things seemed to be going to plan, I felt this intense wave ripple over me, like a tuba from hell. This keening sound pierced the air, which I would later learn was the sound of shell fragments ripping through wood. I shouted to take cover and piled into the nearest corner. Something hard and angular dropped on me, and for a moment I wondered if the whole house was coming down. But when that something started to shudder with each thundercrack of artillery, I realized it was someone’s bony body that had knocked the wind out of me.

    To be honest, I don’t know how long the shells fell. It certainly felt like we were cowering for a month of Sundays before the bombardment let up. The air went quiet though, and I heard Isaak groan “Is it over?” on top of me.

    “Isaak, get your bony ass off me,” I said between coughs. We began taking count and at least for now we’d gotten lucky. Bruises, cuts and scrapes, more from taking cover than anything. The German garrison here had been lazy, only partially reinforcing the structure with sandbags, but it had been enough to save us from our own guns going off grid.

    The distinctive brat-brat sound of our MG-5s echoed over the town. I took an observation post on the second floor, directing our machine gun teams to set up in the battlements our foes had so thoughtfully prepared for us.

    I spotted a patch of feldgrau emerging from the haze. He looked like a runner dispatched to the small garrison we’d overwhelmed. It seems so stupid to remember such a tiny detail, but when I close my eyes, I can still still see him running, having lost his stahlhelm. I could just barely see the little dark red rivulets running down his temple and cheek as I drew a bead. I barely noticed the report. He fell down into the long grass.

    We laid into their rear from that farmhouse. First the mortar rained steel on the centers of enemy movement. The MGs lit up the twilight with tracer fire. An enemy squad attempted to attack under the cover of smoke, but couldn’t make it much further than the sunken road at the edge of the town.

    We held them pinned for ten minutes before the first real sign of trouble came. Chen, my radioman, tapped me on the shoulder as I withdrew from the battlements. “El-Tee, I’ve got company on the line.”

    I pressed a fresh clip into my Garand, safetying it as it returned to battery. Chen handed me the headset, crouching near me with his MP-3 ready. The radio static parted before Oldman’s barks. “Schafer! Get second platoon into the town. They’ve got Panzer IIs dug in, and we can’t get a clear shot on them.”

    There’s something strange about combat. For me, at least, it felt like I wasn’t really there. It’s like being a motor, going through its mechanical rhythms, war is a form of perverse order, and I was a well-oiled part of that machine. The terror had melted away. I had spent the last five years of my life learning how to die, and now the prospect of attacking a dug-in enemy, each of them fanatics that had spent the better part of the last decade steeping in racial wasn’t terrifying.

    It was exhilarating.

    A few whistles and barks, and we hit their machine-gun nests with smoke. All three of the platoon’s machine guns, and the rifles of Able section laid down a hail of suppressive fire. I led the other two straight in to the weakest point of their defensive line, hugging close to the old cobblestone wall.

    The pale-green tracers of the MG 34s ripped through the smoke. We ran full tilt to the sunken road, watching the lines of bullets whiz harmlessly by. When we burst into the improvised trench, we took six dazed landsers completely unawares. Apparently they had expected us to announce ourselves before the charge, and not advance with grim silence. The MP-3s raked across the trench, muzzle flashes illuminating the death rattles of the landsers.

    I pushed the image from my thoughts as we pressed onward. We hit the main strong point from its blindspot next. It was a two-story building, made of old stone masonry. The main MG was in the root cellar, behind a sandbag barricade. It continued to fire staccato bursts, the muzzle flash glinting off the blued barrels of Mauser rifles at the ground floor battlements.

    I motioned for grenades as I slung my Garand over my shoulder. Montalbán smashed open the shutter with his rifle butt while Browne, Carrington and I pulled the pins from our Gf4 “pineapples”. Honestly, it might as well have been the opening pitch of the season at Ebbets Field, watching them sail cleanly through the window. We pulled flush to the stone wall until we heard the muffled thumps of the frags detonating. Ragged screams followed.

    We hoisted Browne in through the window as Baker section took the rear of the building. The cries of terror were silenced by the barks of rifles as they shot the few left like pigs. In my estimate, it took us only a few minutes to roll up the rest of the rear-guard like the lid of a sardine can.

    If it sounds like braggadocio, bear in mind this was not a fair fight, nor did we ever intend to fight fair. Our foes were lead elements of the 167th Infantry Division (Motorised), a second-line infantry division that had been reinforced with older tanks and motorised assets just before Operation Teutonic. They, along with the rest of the Second Panzer Army, had been campaigning for five months with very little reprieve. They were exhausted and malnourished, and had been savagely bloodied by the fighting. And night attacks were our specialty.

    Incidentally, this was about the time that things started to go to shit. If there’s anything I have learned, it’s that if you have the choice of fighting in an urban area, don’t. Even a small town can be a fortress, and now that we overwhelmed its outer defenses, the enemy was beginning to react.

    We were now stuck going from house to house, facing a very tough enemy resistance, never knowing which door would be hiding a Mauser. The Hauptman commanding the company garrisoning this town also chose to make his break out in our direction.

    I guessed as much when mortars began bursting around us. The old stone buildings offered protection, but the newer stick-built homes were much less resilient. They didn’t have a good fix on our position, but the cries of “medic!” piercing the early morning air were a grim portent.

    At this point, my “headquarters” as it was, was behind a red brick government office, on the main road leaving the town westward. I was huddled up next to Chen, reporting the tactical situation, when I heard the squeal of metal treads. I peered out as far as I dared, to the sight of two Panzer II light tanks coming around the corner of the main boulevard, flanked by rows of advancing infantry.

    The sun was coming over the horizon, the veil of night retreating with each second. These soldiers seemed to have rallied, and were advancing with drilled precision. Honestly, I was a bit impressed how quickly this captain had recovered from the rout, and how his troops fell back into discipline. They used the available cover and concealment well, and laid down suppression against our positions.

    We quickly laid down our own suppression, initially with our rifles while I sent a runner to lay in the mortar team, and the machine guns repositioned. We had the definite advantage; I could fire the Garand’s ten-round magazine in less time, and with better aim, than Jerry could do with his five-round Kar98k.

    But the remaining MGs, both infantry and vehicular, had narrowed the firepower gap. And the tankers were smart, letting the infantry infiltrate forward while they laid down suppression with that fearsome 20mm cannon. And when you’ve got nothing bigger on-hand than a GAT-9 rifle grenade, the distinction between a light tank and a medium tank is purely academic.

    I dumped the remaining five rounds in the magazine, trying to take some pot shots at the first splotches of feldgrau rushing up from behind the tank. The tracers whipped by as I pulled behind the wall. I took a moment to consider my options as I rammed the next clip home. The whistle tasted like dirt and gun oil as I blew as hard as my lungs could bear. I gave the signal for Sergeant Montalbán to get rifle grenades in place to engage the tanks, and for covering fire.

    I counted off silently. When I reached ten, I gave the signal, then popped out. I rested the rifle against the building as I lined up the aperture on the window I suspected concealed an MG 34 nest. I fired until I heard the ping of the en bloc clip ejecting.

    Amidst the cacophony of rifles and machine guns filling the air, the throaty roar of the tank engine loomed ever closer. I watched, helpless, as green tracers raked over our anti-tank team. The two men, Pike and Wikowski, went down like rag dolls mere meters away from cover.

    I didn’t have time to mourn; the lead tank turned its cannon to the building I lay huddled behind. The blasts of the HE rounds shook me like jelly. I went prone as the broken bricks came tumbling down on me, clattering off my helmet and punching me in the ribs. I sucked air through my teeth to stop from screaming.

    The crack of the cannon stopped. I pulled myself from the rubble, peeking over the ruins of the building. The tank had stopped, its metal bulk occluding the field of fire from the machine gun overwatch. Wikowski’s Garand was across the street, maybe ten meters away. The rifle-grenade projector and GAT-9 were still firmly locked in place. I cried for covering fire and took the chance.

    Chen cried “Wait!” But I bolted, ignoring the creaks of protest from muscles. The bullets whizzed by as I slid boots first.

    As I pulled the stock to my shoulder, the panzer’s turret began tracking my way. My thoughts kept repeating ‘Too close, way too close’, as I hastily aimed. The rifle bullets continued to ping harmlessly off the armored monster. No time to do this the right way anyway, so I pulled the stock as tight to my shoulder as I could and squeezed the trigger.

    The recoil was violent enough to slide me back a few centimeters. It reminded me of the time I got drilled by a hard line drive playing first base. The warhead stove the turret right above the ring. Smoke began wafting from the hole. The hatches began to pop open one-boy-one, billows of dark gray smoke following. Fighting away the pain, I tossed away the rifle and drew my M6.

    The black clad tankers rushed evacuated as quick as they could. I squeezed off three rounds in quick succession. They clattered off the armor, but it seems the message got through. The driver threw up his arms and dove face down in front of his stricken vehicle. The radioman decided to make a run for it; I winged him with a ten millimeter before he could get far.


    Surrender is complicated; it’s a bit difficult to convince two groups of people who’ve been busy killing each other to stop. When the white flag first went up, it took several minutes for both sides to stop firing. Our helmets were identical to the es-sha three-nines that were in widespread service in the Soviet military; Nazis were loathe to surrender to Slavic subhumans.

    They looked like beaten dogs as we disarmed them. The young boys especially. They looked back at us behind hate filled eyes, faces screwed up in disgust at both us and themselves for having been beaten.

    We had a short moment of reprieve to tend to our dead and wounded. The whole division, and many others, were engaged in this operation. Our orders were now to hold this crossroad to secure the retreat of Soviet troops who might have otherwise been trapped in a cauldron until relieved.

    While the guns continued to thunder in the distance, I used the small respite to try to eat something while I waited to see the medic and find out if I’d broken anything. Because I certainly felt like I’d been chewed up and spat back out.

    We set up some Dakota pit fires on the edge of the town, next to the foxholes we were digging. It makes a nice smokefree fire, with plenty of heat to warm up our C-ration cans and coffee. I only managed to eat a few bites of the garlic dofu. It had normally been one of my favorites, but somehow it just didn’t sit right.

    The coffee was more welcome. It helped fight off the heaviness in my eyes as I sat with my men, and they patted me on the back and joked about the Fascists running scared from Janey Schafer charging into battle.

    Once the more severely wounded and the enlisted were treated, it was my turn to visit the medics. They’d set up a small field hospital in one of the local houses. I limped in not long after some of the captured German officers had come in to get stitched up.

    They didn’t take notice of me at first. Stiffly, I pulled off my jacket and maroon telnyashka, wincing from the pain. The medic poked and prodded at the bruises on my back, and the lovely welt forming on my shoulder.

    Nothing had been broken, but the doc still ordered me to take it easy for the next few days. I’m sure he meant well. I didn’t take notice of their stares until I started redressing. They looked at me with ice blue eyes, brows furrowed with thinly concealed disdain. I looked down my nose at them. But I had realized the true level of danger I had rushed headlong into. I was out-of-place to the fascists, everything degenerate personified. Not just an offense against old-fashioned sensibilities, but an affront to the natural order.

    I realized walking out of there that I would never have the luxury of being a prisoner of war. If I was lucky, these men would merely kill me if I surrendered.
  19. mymatedave10 Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2013
    London, UK
    Very good, I though the 'killing time' line was a mistake first time I read it and the fight scene was nicely done as well, Jane Schafer's one of my favourite OC's from this story.
    Aelita likes this.
  20. BootOnFace Buoyant Armiger

    May 15, 2012
    Commune of Cascadia
    Very good writing. I was captured from the very first paragraph. I'm also interested in the logistics of moving so much materiel and manpower across the Pacific while at war with Japan. If it is so dangerous just to get to Arkhangelsk then is must be incredibly dangerous crossing by the Home Islands themselves.