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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(51002)

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Nov 25, 2005
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It's back, as promised.

I will be continuing my UK AAR as well, over summer I was really busy. Now that school has started again I will need something to distract me ;)

So, let's go! City on the Volga, rebooted, rewritten, and ongoing!

Starting with a bumper update and all new content...

CITY ON THE VOLGA

By Alex T Harvey
©Alex T Harvey​


Nikolai Kulikov steadied himself on the side of an unnamed rowboat, and stared down at his newly issued rifle, taking in every minute detail, every scratch, every chip, every burn mark on the stock. He felt the cool weight of one of the ammunition clips in his hand, and saw hellish reflections in the smudgy brass. Mustn’t look up. Mustn’t look up.

Kulikov hoisted up his right leg to check the lacing on his boot, then traced a finger along the stitching. They were nearer to their destination now, and everything around him was tinted crimson. Mustn’t look up, but even the sight of that dull glow had his stomach knotted and his face white. He turned back to see what the other men in the boat were doing. There were about half a dozen behind him, some rowing and some sitting in the middle of the boat, up to their waists in the bloodstained waters of the Volga, staring up and beyond their lieutenant.

Knowing he had to, Kulikov turned around. He had seen their final destination once when he had first arrived on the eastern bank, and found it so horrible that he had since forced himself to avoid the sight of it. But now he forced himself to look. He was going there, so he had to be able to see it, had to be able to seize that fear and destroy it. He was reminded of one of his Uncle’s many, many sayings – “There is no other way to lead than by holding your head up high and staring down whatever you most fear, for fear is an illusion of the spirit.” So now, reluctant to take one of the old man’s utterances to heart, he steeled himself and raised his head.

The city ahead was massive – almost twenty miles from north to south and packed with buildings of all shapes and sizes, many of which had been newly built less than a year before. But where there had once been a beautiful, modern city, there was now a bombed out shell. There was not a house or apartment block standing untouched, and bombers circled and strafed the wrecks constantly, as if seeking to destroy every last vestige of what had once been home to more than half a million souls and was now nothing but a city of the dead – the city on the Volga, Stalingrad.

The entire city seemed to be aflame – and Kulikov had never seen such flames. They rose hundreds of feet in the air in some places, twisting maelstroms of red and yellow and purple, coils of thick black smoke rising up to the clouds, as if the sky itself was burning. Tracer bullets, mortar fire and crude rockets filled the air, and there was the sound, always, of men screaming, men fighting, men dying, a muffled cacophony in the distance. The rumble of heavy artillery was a constant backbeat, hammering out a rhythm to the struggle, punctuating the silence with booms and plumes of dust and rubble.

Even though it was night, there was no darkness. The light from the roaring fires cast an appalling half-light for miles in every direction, the constantly disturbed waters of the river reflecting it in a thousand ghostly candles. The eyes of the men in the boat had a scarlet gleam as they gazed, terrified, at the horrendous ruins of Stalingrad.

This is Hell, and we are the demons, thought Kulikov, gripping the ammunition clip so tightly he felt he must have made a slight impression in the metal, his nails shredded already by biting them and holding onto the side of the boat, Or are we merely fresh sacrifices, sacrifices to appease the battle?

Whereas before he had been unable to look at Stalingrad, he was now unable to tear his eyes away. They watered from the ash, dust and heat as he struggled to force them to blink, his defences stripped away by terror, his soul bared and exposed. The fearsome scene questioned his courage; Kulikov had never seen war before, never been in battle. He had hoped, idly, when he was younger, that some day he might. He had ached with boredom, sometimes, wishing the struggle could start anew, that the Red Army might be called into action to destroy the Bourgeois Imperialists of the West and unite the world in Socialism. He cursed his past impetuousness as the boat rocked from near misses – artillery blindly firing at the river. The enemy certainly knew about the constant stream of reinforcements being trickled into the shattered metropolis.

The sight of the battle sent some men mad, he had been told, and they turned their weapons on themselves as soon as they saw it. Others were merely terrified, and tried to find resolve in their ideology, their religion, the thought of their loved ones, anything, anything to stop thinking about a war that had seemed to far off, and was now a hundred metres away.

But some, when faced with the horrific scene, were… changed. They stared the crucible of war directly in the eye, and their fear, doubt and rage was fused into a tight little ball of the will to survive, and kill. They were hardened, emotionally flash-frozen, caring only about staying one step ahead of the invader. They slept little, and ate less, and there was a mad glint in their eyes sometimes when they spoke. This was what Kulikov had been told, and he had been told he should hope that this happened to him, give him some spine. Kulikov could almost hear his Uncle berate him now.

---------------------------

Bearing a sheaf of unorganised papers in his arms, Captain Nikolai Kulikov ran through the December snow which crunched loudly under his boots. Trying to keep his cap balanced, he tilted his head forward, using his elbows to push his way through a crowd of soldiers, and having the welcome side effect of avoiding eye contact. He didn’t like looking peasants in the eye; Uncle said it was unseemly for a party member to associate with them, especially farmers. They were reactionaries waiting to happen, he had often told him over dinner, because they were, at heart, un-socialist in their thinking. They wanted land for themselves, whereas a true socialist wanted the land to be farmed for the good of the people.

Kulikov had also heard stories of officers being killed, looted from and then buried in the snow, the stories increasing in their frequency as the German army had advanced deeper into Russia. Now, in December 1941, less than six months after they had made their cowardly attack, they were within sight of Moscow.

The snow did not crunch as the soldiers hurried past; their “boots” were strips of cloth wound tight around frostbitten feet, or Wehrmacht boots wrapped in bandages and filled with newspaper to stave off the unforgiving, never ending cold of the Russian Winter. The soldiers passed, and Kulikov, not looking back, carried his offering of papers to a low, ugly building that squatted in the middle of the snow, a modern incongruity in the Moscow suburb of Tsarist-era architecture. He waited for the soldier standing guard to open the door for him, and entered.

A voice, muffled by a carefully placed hand and therefore unrecognisable and unpunishable, said, in a tone of mock-warning. “Oh, General Bagration’s here.” There was a ripple of laughter across the desks of the office, which Kulikov ignored as he stalked past. ‘General Bagration’ was one of the kinder nicknames his fellow staff officers had given him.

“Off to see Big Uncle,” muttered someone else, “Hope he doesn’t give you the rod again.” There was more adolescent sniggering, Kulikov whirling round to see the crowd of Lieutenants and Captains all chuckling over their work, steam streaming from their mouths in the cold. All laughing at him.

“Are you fucking peasants or what?” he retorted, realising a whine was creeping into his tone. “Act like officers, why don’t you?” He spun on his heel and continued to his Uncle’s office. Aware, dimly, of someone murmuring in reply, “Why don’t you? Nepotistic Trotskyite.”

His Uncle’s office was, in this situation alone, a brief respite. Placing the dog-eared papers on the old man’s desk, Kulikov saluted smartly and stood to attention. His Uncle heaved his red, jowly face into position to look him in the eye to acknowledge the salute, before allowing his searchlight gaze to check his nephew’s uniform, barely perceptible twitches betraying his disappointment whenever he saw a crease, a tear, a misaligned button, each tiny uniform infraction a microcosm for his nephew’s abject failure as an officer – no, as a man. Kulikov could see it in the old bastard’s eyes and hear it in every sigh.

“These papers are a mess,” said the old man, “Have them organised, properly, and straighten them up. Then have them burnt.” He leant back in his chair and picked up a telegram card from his desk, holding it between thumb and forefinger. “STAVKA orders. Fascists are ten kilometres away. I imagine we can expect artillery quite soon.” He sighed again. “Your cap is not on correctly, how do you expect the men to respect you?”

“Yes, Uncle,” replied Kulikov. He turned to leave, and stopped. The old man didn’t know, of course, that every single other member of his staff despised their newest and youngest member, and who could blame them? Men who had worked in the Army for 20 years were lucky to become a staff officer to his great and illustrious Uncle, the model socialist and leader of men. But not so for Nikolai Kulikov, promoted to his Uncle’s staff immediately out of officer school so the old man could keep an eye on him. They were right. It was nepotism, pure and simple.

You’ve been through this so many times, he told himself, just do it. Stop being such a worthless coward and tell him. He gritted his teeth and turned to face the desk again, staring down at the inkwell to avoid that piercing gaze. He said, “I want to go to the Front, General Irumov.”

His Uncle leant forward and slowly removed his glasses. After a moment, he said, in a low and menacing growl, “You ungrateful little shit.” He stood, his heavy oak chair thudding to the floor as he hauled up his bulky frame. This time, he was less quiet, and the menace had been replaced by indignation and anger. “You ungrateful bastard! I have done so much for you, Kulikov.” Kulikov prepared himself for the tirade, knowing it would be a variation on an oft-repeated theme. He mentally ticked off the list as the old man progressed through it. “I took you in when your father died,” Check. “I raised you as my own son – despite the expense. “ Check. “I put you through officer school, I appoint you to my staff, and you repay me by spitting in my face and shitting on my kindness? You want to go to the Front, you say? Do you even know what it’s like on the Front, boy? You’re not a frontovik, you’re an administrator!”

Kulikov spent several minutes crafting the perfect response: “Yes, Uncle, I am a good administrator, but clearly nowhere near as experienced as anyone else on your staff, and thus I believe it is best for the Army, and the Motherland as a whole, for me to transfer to a front-line unit, or at least a position of responsibility, instead of being your aide. It is clear to me that I was appointed thus because I am your nephew and you wanted to keep me safe and out of danger, but this has caused friction with the other officers under your command. And, frankly, Uncle, I am sick of your constant insults, belittling of my ability and intellect. And as for your dismissing me as weak and feminine and then threatening to have me shot if you see me with a woman, it’s so hypocritical it makes me want to vomit, especially from what I’ve heard from the other men about your unorthodox interpretations of a female typist’s duties, you fat, greedy bastard.”

He said, “Yes Uncle. Sorry Uncle.”

---------------------------

Kulikov blinked, and moisture found its way onto his bloodshot eyes. They stung so foully that he could scarcely believe it; it was almost as if the sight of so much death had scoured them. He looked ahead and down at the approaching jetty, the one structure in the whole city which was not actively burning. There were a few sparse pockets of regular soldiers guarding the boats, a whole company of NKVD men, and, of course the wounded. So many wounded.

Kulikov had been warned about this as well, once more by his Uncle, the same man who had advised him on so much – whether he’d asked for advice or not – the same man who had told him what happened to men who saw battle for the first time, and found themselves tested in their hearts and minds, and found out who they were. Kulikov didn’t believe this. Men were men. He’d seen Stalingrad, and he wasn’t a changed person. He was himself, he was Lieutenant Nikolai Kulikov. He was all he could ever be. He was also utterly terrified.

The sight of the wounded was appalling – hundreds of men in red and brown stained bandages, some of them with stumps where there had been legs, torn sleeves were they had once held rifles with their arms, others with entire halves of their faces blown off. And then there was the stench. Kulikov had been told he would become accustomed to death, and to the stink of death, and to the sight of death, and to causing death.

Now, all he could do when his senses were assaulted by the jetty was vomit violently over the side of the boat and into the scarlet Volga. The men around him were similarly overcome, clasping their hands over their mouths, crossing themselves, or still staring up at the blazing tower blocks. Tattered hammer and sickle flags adorned hastily erected lean-tos and burnt factories, their deep red hue one of the few colours in the city.

That was what Stalingrad had become; a city of white buildings and green parks was now a battleground of grey, red and black, the smoke and ash, the flags, the dead. Lovers had strolled through those streets less than two months previously, but these had been supplanted by tanks and soldiers. Kulikov felt the boat impact the jetty, sending a shudder through his spine. They had arrived. There was no way back. He swore at the pain in his eyes, at the disgusting taste in his mouth, at the prospect of death, at the Third Reich, at his Uncle, and many other things. If the ground had swallowed him up then and there, he would have welcomed it.

Resolve gripped him. He had a duty to perform. He had a platoon to lead. They had a battle to win. He jumped onto the jetty, his legs almost betraying him they wobbled so much. He steadied himself, and resisted the urge to be sick again as another wave of stench hit him. He raised the Mosin-Nagant that had been pressed into his hands on the east bank, and slipped in the clip. There was a satisfying click, and Kulikov looked back, wistfully, at the other side of the river. It wasn’t even visible past the shroud of smoke.

They were committed. There was no way back, not even the sight of the eastern bank. Kulikov remembered the slogan – “For us, there is no ground behind the Volga.” For all he knew, past the pall of smoke there was no ground, no Russia, no Germany, no world. His new Earth was Stalingrad. The men scrambled out of the boat, and Kulikov forced down his fear, his anxiety and his disgust at the sight of all those wounded. The best way to survive on what the enemy called the Ostfront and what he called Home was to fight, and to the last man. There was no other choice. There was no way back.

Kulikov had never killed a man before, and found the idea daunting to say the least. He had told his Uncle with great trepidation, expecting another tirade, another speech about why he was worthless compared to his father, why he would never amount to anything.

To his shock, the old man had softened, his face had drooped, and there was weariness in his usually flinty and piercing eyes. What was it he’d said? “Everyone has that feeling. Some may try and hide it, some may try and ignore it, but everyone gets it. Even if it hits them a second before they pull that trigger, they get it. Going ahead anyway, pulling back a piece of metal and stealing a man’s life away, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. And once you’ve done it, his face will never leave you. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life.” After that, Nikolai had been dismissed half-heartedly from his Uncle’s office. The old man had never spoken of that day again, not for ten years. That look had never come back. Maybe that was how he dealt with what he’d done.
 

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Kordo

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Huzzah! Welcome back!
 

unmerged(51002)

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Nov 25, 2005
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170 views and only 3 comments? Yarr.

Thank you, all 3, for your comments :)

When they had cleared the jetty, Kulikov had thought the stench of the wounded would abate, but no such luck. The pungency of rotting flesh was just as strong, if not stronger, and added to it was the tang of heated metal and sulphur. As they ran down a rubble-strewn road and toward the sound of gunfire, he couldn’t help but wretch again.

They stopped at the end of the street while the Company commander sent a few men ahead to make sure the approach to the front lines was clear. Kulikov crouched behind a bullet-riddled wall and closed his eyes, waiting for the order to continue onward. He was acutely aware of the fact that he possibly had mere minutes to go before he was killed.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. It was a sergeant, older than him, with a worn face and a dark, dull gaze hidden under bushy eyebrows. “Never been in battle?” he asked, tersely, but with a measure of kindness. Kulikov shook his head and mumbled that he hadn’t. “You’ll get used to the stink. Did you get a gas mask?”

“No,” replied the Lieutenant. He was too ashamed to admit he’d left it at home. The sergeant sighed.

“Rubber smells better than dead men,” he said, by way of explanation. There was a shout of exhortation from the Captain, a grim man slightly younger than Kulikov – although he’d found more and more that younger men were often promoted over him. It was a source of much exasperation for his Uncle, exasperation which would he would vent on his nephew. It occurred to him that if he died, at least it would vex the old man.

“Stick by me. I’ve fought before, I’ll keep you safe until you find your feet,” said the sergeant. Kulikov thanked him, shouldering his rifle and trotting after the older man, his platoon following. The sound of gunfire was closer, now, and he found his thumb flicking the safety catch on and off without his volition. The sergeant looked back at him, nodded reassuringly, and Kulikov forced out a tight smile of recognition.

Then the world was a confusing whirl of dust, fire, screams and shrapnel. His senses assaulted on all sides by the deafening noise of the bombs, Kulikov then found himself on his back at the edge of the street, a bed of cooling corpses the only thing that had stopped him cracking open his head on the curb. He turned his head, dazed, to see the Captain, chest filled with shrapnel, had been deposited next to him, his eyes still open, staring. Nikolai vomited again, and prayed that his stomach was now empty.

He forced himself up, and staggered around in a circle, ears ringing, searching for his men. Where his platoon had been there was a crater, and the rest of the company were strewn around the street, dead or dying. A few lucky men like him had escaped the worst of the blast, but they were in no shape to move, let alone fight. All that bade him forward was the Idea, lodged in his mind – defend the city.

He stumbled forward through the dust, coughing, feeling warm, sticky blood trickle down his forehead. Whether it was his blood or someone else’s, he had no idea. All sensation had abandoned him. The previously deafening sounds of battle were now a dull roar, reminding him of the time his Uncle had held his head underwater when he broke the musket the old man had kept in his office.

A thousand years later, a gaunt-looking face with four-day stubble was ten centimetres away, screaming at him. A gloved hand found his own, pulling him off the street and into a building, then laying him on the floor and propping his legs up on a moribund chair. He felt a hard slap on his left, then right cheek, and then the cold metal of a hip-flask forcing open his cracked lips. Vodka burned down his throat.

“Shake it off, come on,” said a distant voice. He tried to do so, and felt like his head had split open. He closed his eyes, and felt a hand grasp his face and shake his head again, vigorously. There was a new whistling, howling noise.

He opened his eyes. He could see now; he was in a wrecked room, flat on his back. There were flecks of blood on the walls, and the furniture was so much matchwood save for the chair his legs were resting on. When he turned his head, he could see there was a small book lying on the floor next to him. The page it was open to was full of numbers, and symbols, all neatly laid out in childish script. Someone’s schoolwork, interrupted by the first bombing raids.

“Hey, can you hear me now?” It was the voice again, but sharper, clearer. The dull roar in his ears had been replaced by a new, more unreal sound; bombers and their bombs, bullets and rockets and the screams of dying men. The sound was real though. He was back.

“Yes,” he mumbled, sitting up. He was beginning to feel less faint, the quick action of his rescuer probably saving him from staggering into the line of fire of a machine gunner, or falling into an open sewer. He said, not mumbling now, but still hoarse, “Thank you.”

The soldier grunted in recognition, and Kulikov saw the man’s insignia. He was a Captain, roughly as old as him. He saluted. The Captain nodded at him, and said, “No need for that. Captain Gromov. Call me Gromov, it saves time.” He pointed at the Lieutenant’s rifle, which he’d clutched to his chest the whole time. “That fire-poker is worthless in a fight like this. We’ll get you a PPSh when I find one.”

He coughed, and patted down the pockets of his greatcoat, before reaching into one and pulling out a stick grenade, which he handed to Kulikov. “That’s got a three to four second fuse. Warn me if you’re about to throw it. Now let’s go.” He pointed at another door that joined onto a remarkably intact hallway, and headed for it, submachine gun shouldered. Kulikov followed. What else was there to do?

The house abruptly came to a stop where a bomb had fallen on it during the August raids, leaving a gaping, scorched hole in one of the walls, which Gromov approached cautiously. A group of soldiers ran past outside, their lieutenant bellowing at the top of his lungs for them to hurry up so they could confront the invader. A second later, there was a loud crack, almost like a whip, and the man went down with a neat hole in his forehead. Kulikov flinched. Gromov simply sighed.

“You lot,” he said, dashing out into the street and over to the now leaderless soldiers, with Kulikov following him. Several were scanning the rooftops for the sniper who had killed their commander, but most were crouching terrified behind piles of rubble or behind the wrecked T-26 tank that blocked off half the street. “Captain Gromov. Come with me, all of you.” In silent assent, the men fell in behind him in a rough group.

The Captain turned to get a rough idea of how many men he now had in his new ‘command’, sighed to himself, and turned to Kulikov. “What’s your name, comrade?” he asked the lieutenant, impatiently tapping his fingers against the drum magazine of his weapon.

“Nikolai Kulikov,” said Kulikov, his voice still hoarse from the vodka and the dust. “Comrade,” he added, respectfully. Gromov nodded to himself, looked up at the rooftops, and then motioned for the men to follow him. He set off at a brisk pace, down the street and toward the fighting, skirting to the right around the ruined tank. “Got to get out of that sniper’s field of vision,” he muttered, so that only Kulikov, close by his side, could hear him. He coughed into a gloved hand, and straightened his arm to point down the street at a group of NKVD men manning a barricade. “Blocking detachment. That way.” He ran faster, the men trailing behind briefly before closing the gap.

The NKVD Captain looked Gromov up and down several times, before the two men cautiously saluted each other, murmuring “Comrade,” under their breaths. The NKVD officer’s green uniform tunic was stained with mud and he had exchanged his bright blue cap for a far more practical ushanka with one of the ear flaps missing. He had obviously been in the city for some time.

Gromov said, “How far?”

“Not far,” the NKVD man replied, gruffly, holstering his pistol. His face was completely without expression and his voice without inflection. “Hurry.”
 

Kordo

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It seems our protagonist is getting quite the baptism of fire.
 

unmerged(85800)

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this is really cool. like cod2 in words.
 

unmerged(51002)

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Nov 25, 2005
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Sadly, my OS has died and it will be the middle of next week until I can have my PC repaired :(
 

Black Guardian

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I´m eagerly awaiting the moment when your technical problems are solved and another update is posted :)

Nice stuff, I already liked the original story and indeed it´s almost the same feeling to read this. Keep up the good work.
 

unmerged(51002)

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Nov 25, 2005
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I will try to update despite my PClessness. Some comments from any one of the 300+ viewers might motivate me somewhat. Is it really so bad, you reactionaries?

Oh yeah. I said it.
 

unmerged(51002)

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Nov 25, 2005
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The front line was now quite deep into the city, nearing the river every second. A five minute run had the ersatz platoon within sight of the battle. The number of reinforcements streaming alongside and past them was astounding. Kulikov could not understand how the Germans could withstand the defenders.

Evidently, however, they were. Ahead of them, the Red Army were pushing out of the streets and flooding into an open square, where the Germans had set up machine guns. Kulikov watched as entire companies were scythed down by the murderous enemy weapons. There were calls for retreat for the officers, and those who had survived the initial charge fell back to the street, leaving behind hundreds of dead and wounded in the square.

Some of the wounded started to crawl with painful slowness back into the comparative safety of the adjoining streets, but that was soon put to a stop by a burst of submachine gun fire from an unseen German soldier. A few men were still unwounded in the square, hiding behind piles of rubble, holding their rifles and submachine guns as close as they would lovers, their eyes shut and their lips spelling out silent prayers. The whole area was denied to the Soviets, and Kulikov knew that this meant the precious reinforcements were cut off from relieving forward positions that would still undoubtedly be holding out.

“Come on,” barked Gromov, pointing at a shut door in one of the apartment buildings on the street, which were, amazingly, only half destroyed. “We’ve got to take out those machine guns and get the men moving again!” Kulikov ran over to the door, clutching his rifle as hard as he could, as if it was a snake that would bite him if he let go. Still, the pain it sent shooting down his arm muscles was oddly rewarding, and kept his head clear. Gromov elaborated once the rest of his men had gathered around. “The square is surrounded by these modern apartment buildings,” he said, keeping his voice loud enough to be heard over the constant noise of the fighting, but not so loud that he was shouting, “We’ll fight our way around and get a line of fire on those machine guns. The rest of these men,” he pointed at the several hundred remaining soldiers, their officers busy grabbing men from the press and sending them down every alley in view to find an alternate route. “Will stay here and push through when the way is clear. That square is the quickest way to the front. We need to keep it Russian.”

A voice asked, nervously, “Shouldn’t we wait for reinforcements and new orders?” Kulikov hadn’t been able to see who had asked the question, but Gromov obviously had. He wheeled on the soldier, who looked like he was barely out of childhood.

“Or I could shoot you in the head,” he said, cheerfully, and by way of warning flicked the safety catch off his PPSh. Despite the constant shelling and bombardment, the click was very audible. The questioning soldier was silent. Gromov nodded to himself, turned to the door, and kicked the flimsy structure off its hinges with a shower of sawdust and flecks of paint.

The first four rooms were empty of Germans, their only occupants half-destroyed furniture. The buildings themselves had remained relatively intact, but the concussion from the bombing had smashed all the windows, the glass in the picture frames and clocks. The soldiers’ boots crunched on the tiny shards as they advanced, which Kulikov fancied sounded quite like snow. The idea of a pristine winter was romanticism in the midst of this battle, he knew, but he could not help hoping that he would live to see another. There was also, of course, the fact that the Germans were not as hardy as his countrymen. The army newspaper had detailed how the enemy was distressed by the good, hard frosts of Russia. It was heartening to know.

They approached another door, and stopped, Gromov stepping to the side, dragging Kulikov with him, before motioning to the men to raise their weapons. The rifles were brought up, noiselessly, the soldiers keeping them trained on the door, as Gromov reached out to grasp the door knob, standing next to the frame. He nodded at the men, and pulled the door open as fast as he could before pulling back and pressing close against the wall.

There were two Germans in the next room, one of whom was lying on his stomach, manning a machine gun with the bipod deployed and the other crouching by his side, feeding in the ammunition. They opened fire almost immediately with a clatter, the muzzle flashing brightly in the dim room as Gromov’s men dived for cover, the few soldiers who got off a shot with their weapons missing wildly in the panic before being mown down without a cry.

The German on the machine gun started to track it to the right, firing all the time, trying to catch the Russians who had fallen back from the door but not managed to find any cover. Kulikov turned from Gromov to look at the opposite wall, to see the machine gun was tearing up the plaster and wood, filling the room with dust. When he looked back at Gromov, the Captain was leaning round the open door, facing the two Germans, submachine gun at his side.

Gromov pulled the trigger, stepping calmly and deliberately into the centre of the door, and Kulikov, slumped against the left wall, eyes stinging from the dust, watched as the stock of the weapon shuddered against his arm, the drilling sound of the magazine being emptied laid over the clatter of the German machine gun for a few seconds, until there was only the clinking sound of the barrel of the PPSh cooling, and the sound of the men breathing. A pool of dark blood appeared at Gromov’s feet, seeping over the boundary of the door and around his boots.

“Go,” he said, hoarsely, pointing through the door. Reluctantly, the remaining men filed through, taking up positions away from the windows, facing the next door along. The room was very well preserved, almost completely untouched by the bombardment, quite unlike the building that Kulikov had first spoken to the Captain in. There were un-smashed plates on the table in the corner, with a few crumbs still clinging to the rims. There were also, of course, two dead Germans. The machine gunner was still slumped over his gun, his eyes wide and staring and a tiny dribble of blood trickling from his open mouth and onto the unvarnished floor.
 

unmerged(85800)

Marshal of the Empire
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grenades would be useful i fancy.
 

Kordo

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It appears that the Germans shall be pushed back block by block, as in real life.
 

unmerged(51002)

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Nov 25, 2005
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Seems like this isn't so popular. Hopefully now my PC is working again and updates become regular, I'll have more readers than you faithful comrades ;)

--

“Check them for food, ammo, grenades, boots. Anything you can use,” Gromov ordered, tersely, pointing at the bodies. A few of the men pulled them away from the machine gun and began rummaging through their pockets, trying not to get blood on their gloves. Gromov crouched down next to the machine gun, inspecting it. After a few seconds, he turned to Kulikov, who was still hovering around next to him, unsure of what to do and afraid of being too far from his new Captain. He said, “Do you recognise this?”

Kulikov guessed and hoped. “MG-34?” he offered. In his spare time, his Uncle had made him read up on the infantry weapons of every major power in the world, but he’d not focussed overly on the German equipment. After all, until recently the Germans had not been a very feasible threat. They had even sworn peace with the Soviets.

Gromov nodded, indicating the barrel end of the weapon. “Help me pick it up. It’s heavy.” Kulikov grasping the end of the MG-34, with Gromov taking the stock, the two men heaved up the heavy weapon. Gromov quickly picked out two strong-looking men and had them carry the machine gun, before turning to see the progress of the men who had been searching the dead Germans.

A sergeant came forward, and said, “Pistol and a grenade, sir, thought you could use them.” He held out the two items, both of German make, the pistol black and functional, the grenade stick-like and grey. Gromov took them from him, looking down the iron sights of the pistol and then pocketing it, satisfied with the offering. He gave the stick grenade to Kulikov, who tucked it in his jacket pocket. Gromov nodded at him, took his PPSh from the floor, and nodded at the next door.

“Let’s go,” he said, kicked the door down, and ran through it into the darkness. Kulikov followed. What else was there to do?

The windows in the next room had been boarded up, and in the centre of the room was a large field radio, babbling in German. A young man wearing headphones was sitting in front of it with his back to the door, speaking into a bulky microphone. The headphones were worn over a head bandage, which was brown with dried blood. Gromov held out a hand to the rest of the men and they halted.

The radio operator, obviously having not noticed them, was saying, “Einunddreißig, zweiundvierzig, siebenundzwanzig, neun-” Gromov let out a harsh cry, snapped up his weapon and fired a single, surprisingly loud, shot. The operator fell sideways, very slowly, and his head smacked against the floor and began to bleed, slowly.

Gromov was breathing heavily. He dashed over to the radio and began to kick it, not letting out a cry but instead scowling with determination. When the complicated piece of equipment was a pile of metal and wires, he let out a sigh of relief, and motioned for the men to follow. Kulikov took his place beside him as they made their way out of the room with the radio operator and down a long, darkened corridor.

“Artillery spotter, feeding coordinates to hit our buildup behind the square,” said Gromov, short of breath, his voice less hard than before. He stopped and leant heavily against the wall, bringing in arm up to his forehead. There was a confused patter of boots as the soldiers fell out of step and jostled with each other to halt. “God, Kulikov, did you see how- how young…” Gromov let out a deep breath, and began to tap the drum of his submachine gun again, louder than before. After a few seconds he stopped, and said, “Right, let’s keep going.” The Captain began to once more march briskly down the corridor. Kulikov hurried to keep up with him.
 

unmerged(85800)

Marshal of the Empire
Oct 19, 2007
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dont worry about popularity. fairly new narratives tend to take a while to get off the ground, as a lot of people will click on it, see that theres no pretty pictures, and not bother to read it. but we know narratives are best.
 

Black Guardian

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Nice, an update - finally :)

As said before, don´t care about popularity, I made the same experience, but few people commenting steadily is all that is needed to keep you motivated.

Good luck, I´m awaiting how this will go on

PS:
“Artillery spotter, feeding coordinates to hit our buildup behind the square,”

Hehe, I already asked myself why he just babbled generic numbers into the phone...
 

trekaddict

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BritishImperial said:
dont worry about popularity. fairly new narratives tend to take a while to get off the ground, as a lot of people will click on it, see that theres no pretty pictures, and not bother to read it. but we know narratives are best.

I can bear whitness that this is true.