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Old 01-21-2024, 12:14 PM
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Default Twilight War Vignettes

T2K Gdansk
October X, 2000
Baltic Sea, approximately Y km north of Gdansk, Poland


"Do you recognize her?"

The captain steps aside so that his first officer can take a look through the attack periscope. A few seconds pass.

"Is that the Friedrich Engels?"

"It could be," Captain Delbruk opines, impressed. "The Russians changed the hull numbers, so it could be one of her sisters."

Four Volksmarine (DDR navy) Riga-class frigates had sortied during the Wiedervereinigung, joining the Russian Baltic fleet at Baltiysk. The Friedrich Engels was one of them. Whatever her true identity, The U24's quarry is silhouetted against the rising sun, the distinctive profile of the gun-heavy Riga-class frigate standing out in start contrast to its washed out background.

The Soviet Baltic Fleet is really scraping the bottom of the barrel now.
Captain Delbruk retakes command of the periscope.

"Sonar?" he asks.

"No change. Wait!" the sonar operator grimaces, adjusts the volume on the outputs. "Anchor chains. Engines are spinning up."

"ECM?"

"Their radar is off."

"Probably heading back to her patrol box. Fire control?"

"Ready, captain."

The seemingly unwitting frigate is a sitting duck.

"Flood tube 1. Local control. Kapitänleutnant, care to do the honors?"
The young first officer raises his eyebrows at his captain. Delbruk smiles, nods.

"Thank you, sir," Lt. Ulrich answers, stepping back to the periscope. "Fire control, Tube 1, on my mark…

"Fire."

The crew can hear and feel the jolt of the DM2A1 Seal torpedo leaving the forward tube. Electrical impulses fed to the torpedo through the fiber optic cable trailing behind it direct the weapon towards the target, now just barely making way.

"Sonar?" Captain Delbruk asks.

"Still nothing," the operator reports, "I don't think she knows."

"Poor bastards," someone mutters. The comment is answered by a brief bout of soft, nervous laughter.

Several seconds pass. Lt. Ulrich watches events unfold through the lenses of the attack periscope. A huge geyser erupts amidships. The Riga appears to jump out of the water for a couple of heartbeats. When the towering curtain of spray finally falls away, the target vessel is split in half, bow and stern both sinking rapidly.

"Shall we surface, rescue survivors?"

Captain Delbruk smirks. "We don't have the space. Besides, they're probably Russians. Let them try their luck with the Polish fishermen they've been terrorizing."

-
__________________
Author of Twilight 2000 adventure modules, Rook's Gambit and The Poisoned Chalice, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, the gear-book, Baltic Boats, and the co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...--Rooks-Gambit
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...liate_id=61048
https://preview.drivethrurpg.com/en/...-waters-module
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  #2  
Old 01-21-2024, 12:22 PM
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Default Switzerland

In the winter of 1999-2000 I was a squad leader in second platoon, C Company, First Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, 5th ID. We were in cantonment in REDACTED, about forty klicks east of REDACTED. About once a week, we'd be sent out on patrol, outside our cantonment lines. Cantonments were kind of like our divisions' big field base camps. Imagine looking down at a giant star with lots of arms or a giant asterisk- our cantonment was kind of like that. Most of them were. The division HQ and supply elements were in the middle, then each of the fighting battalions a little further out, each one on one of the branches radiating out from the center, then the companies out further still, and on the very tips of the branches, the platoons. If you looked at a map of the country we were in, all of the divisional cantonments, ours and Ivan's, would look like drops of ink on a piece of paper. All the white space in between was kind of like no man's land. Not many people lived out there because if wasn't safe. It was pretty crazy out there. Marauders- bandits, death squad types, just really jacked up psychos - just roaming around, taking what they wanted and doing lord knows what to anybody that got in their way. It was almost like those Mad Max movies out there sometimes- just about. So, especially anywhere near the fronts, most civilians moved inside the closest friendly cantonment. Yeah the army would put them to work, farming, fixing stuff for us, manual labor- all sorts of stuff- but we were there to keep them safe from the really bad guys, so it was kind of a fair trade. Anyway, my platoon is billeted on the edge of our division's cantonment territory, in this little village. It was more like a quarter of a village- just a few small houses and a couple of shared farm buildings. We did our best to fortify it and make it as homey as possible but it wasn't much. So, we went out on routine patrols, into no-man's-land, to make sure the Russians weren't about to cause us any trouble. They did the same thing.

So we're out on patrol one day, in the Spring, about a month and a half before Easter. We're checking out this little ghost town, an abandoned settlement several klicks from our platoon's base camp, about halfway between the edge of our cantonment and the edge of the closest Russian one, and we run into a Russian patrol. We don't notice them until they're right on top of us. Our point man and their point man literally bump into one another cornering this big wooden shack. So, for a couple of minutes, everybody's on the verge of losing it. There's lots of yelling, pointing weapons at each other- it's really tense, a real life Mexican standoff kind of thing. Then their squad leader sets down his AK and steps out into the open with his hands up and yells "Talk! Talk!" in English. So, I don't know what I was thinking, really, but I do the same, put down my weapon and step out into the open. Well, he doesn't speak much English and I don't speak much Russian, but we both had a guy in our squads had some language skills, so I call my guy up- this kid Stacy Yakimov- we called him "Jack-him-off" when we were messing with him or Yak Boy, or just Yak, when we weren't- and the Russian squad leader calls his guy up and the two of them start talking. Between translations, the Russian sergeant takes a bottle out of his ruck. Stereotypical Russian, right? Carrying vodka on patrol. He opens the bottle, takes a swig, offers it to me. I don't want to insult him so I take a swig too. Then he offers some to Yak and, the next thing you know, everbody- both squads- is sitting around, sharing smokes, rats- rations, that is- moonshine, just shooting the shit, even though nobody really understands each other very well. It was surreal. We must have sat there for a couple of hours, until the sun started to set. So, through our translators, their sergeant suggests that we do this again next patrol. And he wasn't just saying it, like you say "let's do this again sometime" after some social function just to be polite but you don't really intend to follow through- he really meant it. It sounded good to me- I mean, a whole hell of a lot better than the alternative. We didn't really want to fight these guys. Maybe we kill some of them, maybe they kill some of us. I mean, why? They felt the same way. Maybe we were a little drunk by then, but it seemed like a perfectly good, perfectly sane idea at the time. We work out a dead drop system in the shack so we can leave each other notes and stuff, try to coordinate another get together. At first, I thought it could be some sort of a trick or trap or something. Like, we would come back and they'd have the place booby trapped or an artillery battery zeroed in on it, just waiting to wipe us out. He probably thought the same thing, I don't know. But the next time I took my squad out, we stopped by that abandoned ville anyway. Sure enough, there's a note there waiting for us. So we leave one for them. This goes on for another couple of weeks. It was probably about a month before we were able to coordinate things so our patrols could meet up again. But we did meet again. And it was the same as the first time. After that, we'd meet up every couple of weeks and all just kind of hang out, relax, goof around. We named the place Geneva, because it was kind of like our own little neutral territory. Both sides start bringing more food, other stuff- they bring a soccer ball one time; we bring a football the next. They brought a guitar; we taught each other pop songs. We start learning a bit of Russian, they start learning some English. We develop this pidgin thing. We become friends.

So anyway, I told my guys from the very beginning not to tell anyone else about what we were doing out there, not even any of their buddies in the rest of the platoon, have them all swear on their lives, their moms' lives, etc. Well, you know how that goes. Pretty soon, most of the rest of the platoon knows about it too. We start taking guys from the other squads, one or two at a time, out to Geneva. The Russians did the same. You can't keep a secret that big for very long. Eventually, our platoon sergeant finds out, and he tells the L.T. and we all get a chewing out. But nothing really came of it; he didn't actually do anything. He never mentioned it again it after that. We sort of figured he didn't really care. So, we kept meeting up with the Russians out in Geneva.

You know this can't go on forever, though. There was always a dark cloud looming just on the horizon. It was too good to last and we all felt it. Well, like three months after we starting having these get-togethers out in no-man's-land, our Lieutenant kills himself. I guess he just couldn't take it anymore. No one really saw it coming. That's another story, I guess. So a few days after that, we get a new lieutenant, a career REMF. He has no clue how to run an infantry platoon. He tried to compensate for his complete ignorance by acting like a total hard ass all the time. It didn't take him too long to get just about everyone in the unit hating his guts. A couple of the guys even started talking about fragging him. Somehow, he finds out about Geneva. Calls in the squad leaders, reams us out real good, uses the words court martial like twenty times. He says we're going to end it, tells us his plan for how we're going to do it. He's going to take the whole platoon out to Geneva right before our next planned get together and ambush the Russians when they show up, kill them all. He won't even discuss alternatives, like trying to take them prisoner instead. I don't know where his bloodlust comes from but he's adamant. He already knows when the next meeting is supposed to be. I try to tell him he's got bad information, to give him a false rendezvous time, but he's not having it. He gives me an ultimatum: get with the program or explain everything to Army CID.

I go straight back to my squad, tell my guys about the ambush and now they really want to frag the new lieutenant. They’ve already got it all planned out. Like, they're literally five minutes away from killing this guy. I'm not willing to go that far. Soldiers hang for that sort of thing, and besides, it's not right. I tell them that they'll have to kill me too because I'm not going to let them do it. That pretty much ended it, but it was touch and go there for a while. That was probably the worst two weeks I had during the entire war, just waiting for that next patrol, hoping nobody in the platoon actually murdered the new lieutenant in the meantime. I barely slept. I can't let this ambush happen. Those Russians weren't bad people. They weren't the enemy- not my enemy, at least. A couple of my guys, Yak, especially, want to try and warn the Russians but I'm the squad leader- it's my responsibility. I'm going to do it.

It's about a week until the next rendezvous. I wait until my squad is on watch one night and I go outside the wire- I'm officially AWOL at this point- and I make my way over to Geneva. I'm going to leave a note, and hope they check the dead drop before we launch this big ambush patrol. It's a long shot, but it was the best idea I could come up with. I would have packed some paint too, if we'd had any, to put a warning sign on the side of the shack, as a back up. I slip out of the wire and head out into no-man's-land.

It's a long walk by myself in the dark. I get to Geneva OK, go inside the shack; it's almost pitch black in there, just a little moonlight coming in through the half-dozen holes in the roof. I feel my way over to the corner where we kept an old ammo can to leave the notes in, open it, slip the warning note inside. There's something in there already, so I take it. That gave me hope because it meant that maybe the Russian squad had to miss the next rendezvous time anyway. That was a big maybe though, so I leave my note there and then head back outside. I've got to get back to camp before the new lieutenant notices I'm gone. They were hanging deserters at that point. So, I hightail it back to camp as fast as I can. My guys are still on watch- they knew to expect me. I make it in OK and the lieutenant is none the wiser. I get back to my hooch, pull the blackout curtains and light a tallow candle- stuff freakin' stank. I unfold the note. I still remember what it said, word for word, all these years later. It went,

"Dear American friends,

Do not come to next meeting. Stay away. Our leader knows and he is planning ambush on you. We are very sorry. We will not come back never. We hope that when this war is finished we will be free to meet in again peace as brothers.

Your friends in Geneva."


-
__________________
Author of Twilight 2000 adventure modules, Rook's Gambit and The Poisoned Chalice, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, the gear-book, Baltic Boats, and the co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...--Rooks-Gambit
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...liate_id=61048
https://preview.drivethrurpg.com/en/...-waters-module

Last edited by Raellus; 01-21-2024 at 05:07 PM.
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