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Old 03-01-2015, 07:52 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Location: Auberry, CA
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And another:

1230 Hours: South Padre Island, Texas


Major Lazarev and his Naval Infantrymen had managed to unload about a couple hundred tons of supplies from the grounded Minsk Komosomol, but there was a lot more in the holds, the ship's captain had told him. Knowing that American reconnaissance aircraft would be overhead, he had lit a fire underneath his men, along with the crew of the freighter, and they had managed to make a sizable dent in the cargo in the ship's number one hold.

“So far, so good, Comrade Major,” his supply officer said.

“So far. And half of what we've got here is unusable. Whose idea was it to load cold-weather gear?” Lazarev fumed.

“Don't ask me, Comrade Major,” the Captain said as he came up. “Blame someone in Havana.”

“At least we've gotten some 125 ammunition, a few Strela-2M antiaircraft missiles, RPG rockets, and 50,000 rounds of 5.45 ammunition. That would keep my brigade in action for all of a day.” Lazarev said, still angry with whoever had not only loaded cold-weather gear, propaganda leaflets and posters, and not only two tons of pepper, but his medical officer had fumed at the lack of anesthetic, but 500 bottles of Cuban rum would have to do in that case. As for food, 50 cases of canned peaches, 80 cases of canned mixed vegetables, and 100 bags of beans had been unloaded and as per Admiral Gordikov's orders, the food had already been sent on to Brownsville for distribution. Still, it wasn't enough, and Lazarev knew it. Then his field phone rang.

“Comrade Major, This is 2nd Battalion. Three American ships are coming close to shore.”

Lazarev didn't bother responding, He grabbed his binoculars and scanned the sea. Sure enough, three American ships were closing in on the shore. “What are those?” he asked the freighter's captain.

The captain observed the ships. Head on, he couldn't tell. Then the ships turned broadside. “Get your men to cover, Major. Now.”

“What ships?” Lazarev demanded.

“Two are Forrest Sherman class destroyers. The third is a Brooke class guided missile frigate,” the Captain said, as the ships opened fire.

“Take cover!” Lazarev yelled as the first shells fell short of the freighter. It didn't take long for the American ships to find the range, and they poured shells into the helpless Minsk Komosomol. Shell splashes drenched the shoreline as five-inch shells landed on the freighter and set her ablaze. Lazarev turned to the Captain. “Besides the ammunition, is there anything else we should know about?”

“They loaded some drums in Havana. Fuel drums, I think,” replied the Captain.

The captain's guess was soon proved correct, for several shells from one of the destroyers landed forward of the stern, and into the number five hold. An oily fireball erupted as drummed gasoline went up in flame. Secondary explosions followed, as the small-arms ammunition and RPG rockets in another hold went off, and within an hour, the ship was a burning wreck. Satisfied with their work, the three American ships ceased fire and headed out to sea. The Soviets ashore picked themselves up and shook the sand off of their uniforms. Lazarev looked at the burning ship, and then turned to the Captain. “Nice of you to tell us in advance.”


1300 Hours: east of La Paloma, Texas


To General Georgi Andreyev, it felt like old times. He was leading his old regiment, the 234th Guards Air Assault Regiment, and like so many prewar exercises, they were looking for a nuclear missile. Only this time, it had been stolen by their own kind, and General Alekseyev's orders were precise: destroy the missile, regardless of whoever stole it, and seize the nuclear warheads remaining in the perimeter. The latter mission ensured a clash with the KGB custodial unit charged with nuclear-weapons security, but as far as Andreyev was concerned, they were still KGB. When he'd briefed the officers, the implications of such a course of action were made perfectly clear. But that hadn't deterred the desantniki, it only fueled their eagerness. As one of the company commanders had put it, “The Americans have been our adversaries. The KGB is an enemy: they led us into this mess, and it's only fair we settle scores with them before the end.” And the regiment's other officers agreed with that sentiment. Even the Zampolit-who had been a sincere, idealistic Communist, and had been sickened by what he'd seen during the war-agreed with the mission.

The regiment was moving down a local road, in a mix of BMDs and captured trucks, when the reconnaissance company commander signaled a halt.

Andreyev and Lt. Col. Yefrim Suslov, the regimental commander, went forward to see what was happening. The company commander showed him tire tracks moving off the road.

“The tracks look like a missile transporter, Comrade General,” the recon Captain said.

“That's got to be it,” Colonel Suslov agreed. “Comrade General?”

“Any signs of escort vehicles?” Andreyev asked.

“Yes, Comrade General, here. Two tracked vehicles, and one wheeled: that one looks like a BTR of some kind,” the company's senior ensign said.

Andreyev looked at the tracks. “How far ahead are they?”

“No way to tell, Comrade General, but they're not that old.” the ensign replied.

Colonel Suslov looked at the tracks himself. The recon boys were on the job, as usual. And the ensign had done a tour in Afghanistan before coming to the Regiment. “Your orders, Comrade General?”

“Spread the regiment out, two battalions on line. I'll be with First Battalion, Colonel. Have the third battalion act as our rearguard,” Andreyev said. “We'll find them soon enough. But do not attack until I give the order. I'd like these Chekists to get 'fat, dumb, and happy,' as our adversaries say.”

Suslov nodded. He'd been a distant relation to a Politburo member, and a former Party Ideologist. But he, like many officers, had a cynical approach to the Party. And he felt the KGB ought to pay for all that it had done-not just during the war, but before. “And the Americans?”

“With luck, the Americans will find the missile themselves: there's been plenty of reconnaissance aircraft overhead, not to mention attack aircraft. If they find the missile, well and good. Even a botched attack suits our purposes: the Chekists will be busy trying to sort themselves out after an attack, and that will work in our favor,” Andreyev said.

Nodding, Suslov asked, “Shall I move the regiment out?”

“By all means, Comrade Colonel.”


1340 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.


Lieutenant General Piotyr Surakyin was actually pleased so far. He had moved the 4th GTA forward, and had little or no air attacks interfering with his movement. His quartering party had found some warehouses along U.S. Highways 77 and 83, near the southern edge of the city, and it had been easy to accommodate his command vehicles. The General had studied the map, and knew his orders: delay the Americans for as long as possible. He turned to his divisional commanders.

“So, Comrades, this is going to be our last battle, barring a miracle. We must hold the Americans for at least forty-eight hours, and the Route 77-83 junction must be held at all costs.” He turned to Maj. Gen. Valery Chesnikov, who commanded the 24th Tank Division. “You'll have the left flank of the junction, Chesnikov.”

Chesnikov, who'd come from the Northern Group of Forces in Poland, nodded. “Understood, Comrade General, and any stragglers coming south?”

“Incorporate them into your force, at gunpoint if necessary,” Suraykin said. “We need every man and every combat vehicle for this. That also goes for you, too, Markov.”

Colonel Gennady Markov commanded the 52nd Tank Division. He had taken command of the division after the previous commander had been killed in an air strike a few days earlier. And for a mobilization-only unit, it had done as well as one could expect.“Of course, Comrade General. I take it I'm on the right of 24th Tanks?”

“Correct. As for the 20th and 38th Tank Divisions, you'll be our counterattack force.” Suraykin said, seeing the two divisional commanders nod. Now, General Malinsky will no doubt pull back to our line, and we'll be under his command, but be prepared to fight it out by ourselves, if necessary.”

Colonel Maxim Golvoko, his Chief of Staff, asked, “Reserves, Comrade General?”

“What's left of 6th Guards Motor-Rifle Division, and the 41st Independent Tank Regiment. Our air assault battalion is under Andreyev's command, so that's it. When those units are committed, don't bother asking for help, because there will be none,” Suraykin reminded his commanders.

The commanders nodded. This time, there was no way out.

“Now,” Suraykin told everyone, “We've got enough fuel, ammunition, and other supplies to last for forty-eight hours. If you can stretch it, that's a big help, but once we're out, there may be nothing left. Unless the Navy comes through. Are there any questions?”

There were none. “All right, get set in your positions, and get your men ready. This time, we're not fighting for the glory of socialism, the destiny of the Motherland, or whatever the Party Bosses in Moscow spout this week. We're fighting for our comrades. And nothing else.”


1400 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville, Texas:


General Alekseyev was in his office, going over some message traffic he'd just received. The Navy was reporting that another American naval force had entered the Gulf of Mexico, and it appeared to be an amphibious force. A Marine landing on South Padre Island now became possible. He had asked for a status update on the second convoy, but so far, there was no response. And there were a couple of notices from the KGB, notifying him of several commanders who were suspected of political unreliability. That's the last thing we need now: even when we're fighting for our lives, we're under suspicion, he thought. Then there was a knock on the door. It was Colonel Sergetov and the Captain of the Cherepovets.

“Comrade General?” Sergetov asked. “I have Captain Lazarovich of the Cherepovets.”

Alekesyev stood and came over to the Captain. Shaking his hand, he simply said, “Thank you, Captain. Please, sit down.”

Lazarovich did, “You're welcome, Comrade General. Though I fear my efforts may be for naught.”

“I realize that, Captain. Still, what did you bring us?”

“Comrade General, all I was told to do was load a general cargo for Texas. I was not told what the cargo was, and my Third Officer, who's in charge of cargo loading, was only allowed to make sure the load was balanced. No manifest, nothing.” Lazarovich said.

“I understand, and I'm not angry with you, Captain. What has been unloaded so far?” Alekseyev asked.

“So far, 50 cases of Cuban rum-which my ship's doctor tells me can be used as an anesthetic, some small-arms and machine-gun ammunition, along with a number of cases of RPG rockets,” Lazarovich said. “And that's what one can use: the rest...”

“What do you mean by 'the rest'?” asked General Alekseyev.

Sergetov spoke up, “Comrade General, I saw some of what was unloaded. While there is some food: cases of canned peaches, fruit cocktail, and mixed vegetables, there is quite a bit that's totally useless: 30 boxes of preprinted propaganda leaflets, two tons of jam and pepper, and 5,000 NBC suits, among other things.”

“WHAT?” The General roared. Looking at Lazarovich, he said, “I know you weren't told what you were carrying, but who gave you the 'general cargo' orders?”

“A Colonel in Cuba, Comrade General,” Lazarovich said. “He was a supply officer, but he refused to answer my questions about the type of cargo.”

Shaking his head, Alekseyev could only curse at those who were sitting safe in Havana, far from the front lines. There will come a time, he promised, when scores such as this would be settled. “And your voyage?”

“All I can say, Comrade General, it was the trip from hell,” Lazarovich said. “Air and submarine attack, an American cruiser charging us like a scene from the Pacific War forty-five years ago, everything.”

“Very well, Comrade Captain, you're not the one I'm angry with right now. Please return to your ship, and get the cargo unloaded as soon as possible. I may have one final task for you, and it's not what your sailing orders said.”

“Yes, Comrade General. May I ask what that will be?” Lazarovich asked.

“Not yet. But you will be notified at the appropriate time.” Alekseyev told him.

“I understand, Comrade General.” Lazarovich said. And the Captain left to return to his ship.

Sergetov then said, “Comrade Captain, I'd like to skin alive whoever gave him his cargo.”

“You'd probably have to stand in line, Ivan Mikhailovich,” Alekseyev said. “But there's one use for all those propaganda leaflets.”

“In the latrines, Comrade General?” Sergetov asked.

“Precisely. Now...” Alekseyev's thoughts were interrupted by his phone ringing. “Alekseyev.”

It was Admiral Gordikov. “Comrade General, this is Admiral Gordikov. I have some bad news.”

“What is it?”

“The grounded freighter on South Padre Island has been shelled by three American ships. She's been reduced to a burning wreck.”

“I'm surprised it took them this long, Admiral.” Alekseyev said. “How much of the cargo was saved?”

“Not much, I'm afraid, Comrade General. The crew and the Naval Infantrymen on the beach managed to partially unload the number one hold, but that's all. The rest of the cargo burned with the ship,” Gordikov reported.

“All right. Send whatever they managed to salvage to the supply point, and remind your men about the penalty for hoarding,” Alekseyev said.

“Of course, Comrade General.”

“Gordikov, any word on the second convoy?”

“Not at present, Comrade General,” Gordikov said.

“Thank you, Admiral,” Alekseyev said, and then he hung up the phone. Turning to Sergetov, he said, “Let's get back to the Operations Room.” When they got there, Alekseyev looked at the map. Malinsky's forces were now established on the second defense line. The third line would incorporate Suraykin's army. There was no fourth line currently marked on the map. Alekseyev turned to General Chibisov. “Start thinking about a final line of defense. Right here: from Laguna Vieta west along Highway 100 to Routes 77-83, then to La Paloma and the Rio Grande. If the Americans breach that....”

Chibisov knew what would come next. The game would be over. “Right away, Comrade General.”

“And Chibisov, send this message to our supply people in Havana: 'Request food, ammunition, medical supplies sent in by airdrop if airfields are closed.'”

“Immediately, Comrade General. There's one other thing.”

“Yes, Pavel Pavlovitch?”

“Unlike the Americans, we don't have that many servicewomen in the Armed Forces. It may be time to think about getting ours out. Unlike ourselves, the Americans have largely upheld their obligations under international law regarding prisoners, but in the euphoria of victory, the Americans on an individual level may not be in such a chivalrous mood. Especially if they fall into the hands of those maniacs in the13th Armored Cavalry.” Chibisov said.

Alekseyev thought for a moment. Personally, he'd been disgusted with how the Soviets had treated prisoners, both POWs and civilians. The Soviets and their allies had provided the Americans with too many propaganda points when rescued or escaped prisoners were allowed to speak to the international news media, and when prisoners had been killed to prevent their liberation-as had happened several times, the Americans had promptly brought reporters, Red Cross officials, and even UN delegates from Geneva to the scene, and all too often, the Soviets' clumsy attempts to explain things away met with contempt and derision. “I see your point, Pavel Pavlovitch.”

“Shall I instruct those units with women to prepare them for evacuation?”

“Just issue a notice for the women to be prepared to leave. Moscow would take it as a sign of defeatism if we evacuated them too early. But we'll get them out,” Alekseyev said.

“And those prisoners we still have within the perimeter?” Chibisov asked.

“None are to be marched into Mexico. They will remain in their camps until the end. And they will be handed over to the Americans when the time comes. Inform the camp commanders.” Alekseyev told his Chief of Staff.

“Understood, Comrade General.”

Colonel Sergetov then came up with a message form. “Comrade General, this just came in from Moscow.”

Alekseyev scanned the form, then he rolled it up into a ball and threw it into the nearest wastebasket. “Are they serious?”

“Yes, Comrade General. As you know, Hall has an ambassador in Moscow, and Moscow wants to know how we'll enable Hall and his government, not to mention those in the ALA and PSD, to escape.” Sergetov said.

“Of all the.....There's been a number of mistakes made since 1985: first of which was starting this war in the first place. Right behind that, was our general behavior behind the front lines. We've outdone the Fascists in that dubious category. And third, was creating that 'liberation government' that Hall wanted. And giving him his own army and security service. What were we thinking?” Alekseyev thundered.

The room went quiet. Then Chibisov said quietly, “At the time, victory seemed a likely possibility, Comrade General, though the Army was against the idea.”

“I know, but we went along with it anyway, despite our reservations. And those reservations were perfectly justified, as we all know by now.” Alekseyev reminded everyone. He turned to Sergetov. “Send this to Moscow. 'Request specific individuals re: Hall government to be named for evacuation. Priority for our own specialists and wounded is needed at present.'”

Sergetov nodded. “Right away, Comrade General.”
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