Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 2
Special Operations

Chapter Two: Special Operations

 

Aboard the battleship Rivymiyitevko

August 26, 2008 0200 local time (2200 Krakozhian time)

 

The loadout was little different from the Army. The loads differed from one person to the next. The captain, as an officer, received ten magazines for his Heckler & Koch MP-5, and five clips for his sidearm, a Makarov PM pistol. Kumilyova, as the spotter, received fourteen magazines for her AK-101 assault rifle. Klimov received four ammunition belts for his M-60 machine gun, which was the only heavy firepower they had.

 

Their uniforms would not be the black ones favored by the Spetsnaz. Instead, they would be wearing the uniforms of the Rivymiyitevko Independence Movement, which held the least risk of being compromised. They came with the appropriate headgear in the form of balaclavas and gas masks. Only Captain Kutuzov wore a beret, which was required of RIM officers.

 

The grenades were Dutch NR-20s, which was the standard grenade of the Rivymiyitevko Provincial Militia and later, the Independence Movement. There were no special grenades like flashbangs, for the RIM didn’t use them.

 

There were no rations to bring along, because Command expected Team FARMER to secure the Cosmodrome within the day. There was enough food in the command center to feed an entire division of troops for a year, which was plentiful despite the fact that Rivymiyitevko had only recently recovered from a famine. It would be more than enough to feed a ten-man squad for the thirty or so days that they were expected to keep control of the Cosmodrome.

 

Everyone would keep their sidearms, which were a mix of American and Russian pistols. All in all, their total load was less than fifty pounds. Klimov had the heaviest load with seven pounds, most of it ammunition for his machine gun.

 

Captain Kutuzov entered the room, clad in beige fatigues and gray beret, looking very much like an RIM officer. He went down the line, adjusting straps and making sure that all of their weapons were safetied. When he was done, Kumilyova, as his deputy, checked the captain’s load. After that, Kutuzov moved to his place at the head of the line.

 

“Comrades,” he said, “what we are about to do is not for the faint of heart. But since all of you are Spetsnaz, I believe that none of you are. We are about to take away Rivymiyitevko’s nuclear capability. Can we do that?”

 

“Yes, Comrade Captain!”

 

There was still one more thing to do. Kutuzov walked down the line and collected everyone’s dog tags. Each set went into a clear plastic bag, along with wallets and other forms of identification from the owners. After that, Kutuzov took his own set and placed it in a separate bag.

 

The room was at the aft end of the battleship, and a helicopter was waiting for them on the landing pad at the stern. Team FARMER was composed mostly of battle-hardened veterans who had grown close during their time together on the battlefield. In fact, Team FARMER was as ready as it could be. They knew each one’s strengths and weaknesses, they knew that their lives depended on each other, and none wanted to appear weak to their comrades. Argue they might sometimes, but they had already grown into a single entity, with Kutuzov as the brain, Kumilyova as the eyes, Klimov as the fists, and the others in equally vital roles.

 

The first thing that they noticed was that their helicopter now had the flag of the Russian Federation painted on its side, in keeping with its cover as a relief flight bound for Rivymiyitevko. The cabin was packed with relief goods, but the helicopter would skirt the island’s radar and missile sites just to be sure.

 

The helicopter lifted off the battleship without incident and then flew on towards Rivymiyitevko. The flight was uneventful until the Hip made landfall near the town of Yeralenko, when the pilot began to twist and turn the aircraft.

 

“Sorry about that, comrades,” said the pilot. “The area is full of surface-to-air missile guidance radars.”

 

Nobody spoke as the helicopter entered enemy airspace. For that, Captain Kutuzov was glad. The men and women under his command were ready.

 

“Fifteen seconds,” the pilot said. Everyone except for Kutuzov took out a gas mask or a balaclava from their hip pouches and wore them. They were nearing their drop-off point, which was a hill protected from radar coverage by a higher peak in front of it. Because of that, it had been deemed the best place to insert the Spetsnaz troops quickly and quietly.

 

“Approaching LZ One.” The helicopter did not land on the hilltop, instead choosing to hover above the ground. The jump was low, but it was still a jump. The crew chief tapped each team member’s shoulder as they got off, counting them one by one.

 

“FARMER is on the ground,” he told the pilot.

 

“Roger that, Chief. We are out of here.”

 

The Hip moved away from the hilltop, and soon became a tiny speck before it finally disappeared into the Arctic sky.

 

Southern Yerotsk

That same time

 

“I’m picking up something.”

 

“What is it? Another piece of trash?” the senior controller mocked.

 

“I don’t know, sir, but I’m checking it out.”

 

There was a lone man rowing a black rubber raft that was shouting his lungs out. He did not seem to notice that a rifle was pointed at his chest, or maybe he couldn’t see it in the dark. “Please, my friend, don’t!” he said when he finally reached the shore.

 

“What happened to you?”

 

“Our trawler struck a reef, Comrade. Some of my men are also making their way here.”

 

“I can’t see the wreck,” said the junior controller, looking at where the man was pointing. “Wait a minute; did you just call me comrade?” The controller heard a muted puff, and then his world went black.

 

The man removed his yellow fisherman’s coveralls to reveal a black Spetsnaz uniform. He was the commander of the Spetsnaz team that had deployed from Gennady Poryk’s boat, the K-287. The bullet that he had fired at the junior controller was actually a dart filled with a mild paralytic agent that could knock out a healthy human being for one hour. After removing the now empty dart from the controller’s chest, he checked his pistol. He had only one more tranquilizing dart left. The rest of his bullets were real.

 

“So, what did you find out there?” When he received no reply, the senior controller turned around, giving the Spetsnaz commander a clear shot on his chest. The dart landed squarely on its target, and there was so much force behind the impact that the controller was thrown back from his chair.

 

“Drag these men to the rafts and bring them back to the submarine,” he told his deputy. The controllers’ limp bodies were brought to the rafts, which were rowed back to the waiting submarine by two Spetsnaz operatives.

 

Outside the Rivymiyitevko Cosmodrome

Northern Rivymiyitevko

A short time later

 

Gavrina Kumilyova walked carefully along the high wire-mesh fence surrounding the Cosmodrome. She only needed to hear the slight humming in the fence to know that it was electrified. She followed the fence for a short distance before it terminated into a concrete shack standing guard over an entry gate. There were two men manning the shack, and she dared not to get closer to see if the gate was electrified too.

 

Gavrina returned to Captain Kutuzov, who was hiding behind a bush. “The gate is a hundred meters from here,” she said. “The fence is electrified, and I think the entry gate could also be electrified.”

 

“Is there a control shack?” asked the Captain. Gavrina nodded. “Okay, let’s get the team moving.”

 

The team covered the distance from their hiding place to the gate in record time. Once the squad was in place, Kutuzov took his pistol, chambered a round and pulled the hammer. “Watch for my signal,” he ordered them.

 

“I hope the Captain knows what he’s doing,” said Klimov.

 

“I’m kind of hoping that myself,” said Kumilyova.

 

Even the Captain was hoping the same thing as he walked towards the shack. Nothing short of a few pounds of explosive could bring the electrified fence down. Taking a deep breath, he walked towards the entry shack…

 

…when the two RIM soldiers guarding the shack stepped outside and began walking towards the Captain, their weapons drawn, loaded, and pointed at him.

 

And the mission had barely begun…

 

Yerotsk

That same time

 

As it turned out, the Spetsnaz teams had underestimated the enemy garrison, but it was more on their determination rather than actual strength. They had been running around in circles until somebody put two and two together and realized that they were under attack. After that, they had mounted a nearly successful counteroffensive, which had failed only because of the Spetsnaz’s stiff defense.

 

“Comrade Commander,” said his deputy, “we have rounded up the last pockets of resistance. Shall I send out the success signal?”

 

“Go ahead. By the way, assign lookouts around the island. Yes, that may spread us thin, but we have to keep our guard up. The rebels could try to take back this rock soon, and we could only do so much against an invasion force. Keep both the port and the airfield clear, because that’s where our troops will come in.”

 

Over the course of the war, twelve thousand Krakozhian troops would pass by this small, unremarkable island on their way to the Rivymiyitevko theater. But for now, Yerotsk lay silent, unaware of the role it had played in this deadly drama.

 

The Rivymiyitevko Cosmodrome

That same time

 

“You are late.”

 

The Captain relaxed and lowered his pistol. He approached the two Rivymiyitevko officers and saluted the ranking officer. “Captain Mikhail Yevgeniyevich Kutuzov, Krakozhian Spetsnaz,” he said.

 

“Major Vladislav Andreybari Deranka,” said the RIM officer, “chief of security of the Rivymiyitevko Cosmodrome. My deputy, Major Yelena Ofovsky.” The other Rivymiyitevko officer saluted, her stiff right hand touching a mane of fiery orange hair. Upon a signal from Kutuzov, the rest of Team FARMER stepped out of their hiding places.

 

“We were afraid you wouldn’t come,” said Deranka. “We knew you were coming, but my patrols have failed to spot you. I must commend the Spetsnaz for being all that you said you would be and more.” He shook the Captain’s hand.

 

“Thank you, Comrade Major. We must take the Cosmodrome at once, or else the Republic of Krakozhia may cease to be.”

 

“I have a plan.” Then, reaching for his radio, Deranka said, “Lazlo, Anatoly, the truck, please.”

 

Kutuzov turned around to find a Ural-4320 truck leading to the Cosmodrome. On a signal from Deranka, the soldier in the passenger seat stepped out of the cabin and led the squad to the back, along with Major Ofovsky. Deranka then brought the Captain along with him beside the driver.

 

Reaching the gate, the Major gave a brief nod to the guards in the shack, who opened the gate and let them in. The driver stopped in front of what must be the command center and, as if they had been practicing it for months, began to unload crates from the back of the truck. The Krakozhians had to hurry to keep up.

 

There was a small reception desk in the lobby, and once again Deranka gave a brief nod to the guards on duty, who waved them in without the slightest hint of curiosity. They walked down the hallway to the right of the lobby, which was lined with many offices. Kutuzov took the time to learn more about his contact. “May I ask about the situation, Comrade Major?” he asked.

 

“There are forty-seven technicians manning the command center,” replied Deranka, “as well as thirty communications personnel and twenty-three petty officers serving in an assisting capacity.”

 

Kutuzov winced. There were a hundred rebels in the command center alone, and even if they weren’t all battle-trained, they were still a problem for the Captain and his commandos. Anyone could fire a rifle, given the time.

 

“Don’t worry, my young Comrade Captain,” said Deranka, noticing the air of anxiety surrounding Kutuzov. “I have a full company of infantry providing security for the Cosmodrome. All are believers of communism, and are under my sole command. I also have the support of the fifty technicians and scientists working on the reactor.”

 

That last phrase caught Kutuzov’s attention. “There’s a reactor here? A fully operational nuclear reactor?”

 

Deranka laughed. “Yes. The three megawatts it produces is more than enough for the Cosmodrome, so we use it to provide power to the three smallest towns in Rivymiyitevko: Renechev, Gratavsky, and Sevenivov.”

 

They stopped in front of an ordinary wooden door. Deranka gave the guard a nod, and he opened the door. “Take those boxes, Captain,” he said, “and come with me.”

 

Captain Kutuzov stepped into the room and gasped as he saw what he thought he would never see in his lifetime: the Rivymiyitevko Cosmodrome Mission Control Facility. It was also a bit of a letdown, because it was more along the lines of the utilitarian Voyska PVO in Moscow rather than the stylish Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas. It was very much like a theater, with three large television screens on the stage and control stations in where the seats would be. There was a console at the end of the center aisle, which was where the director and his deputy would be seated whenever an operation was underway.

 

“Captain, bring those boxes to the launch-code officer,” said Deranka, pointing at the console in question. Kutuzov lifted the boxes and walked towards the console…

 

…when the box at the bottom broke open, spilling packs of frozen food and bottled water on the floor of the command center. The bottled water split and spilled liquid everywhere, creating a very slick and slippery floor.

 

“Captain, what on earth have you done?” shouted Deranka.

 

“I am sorry, Major…I…” But Kutuzov was too stunned to say anything more.

 

“What is going on over there?” asked a voice.

 

“My assistant, the Captain, has spilled some supplies,” replied Deranka. “Forgive his clumsiness. He is not used to this line of work.”

 

“He must not do that again, or else may my ancestors mock me if I don’t do anything about that man!” added another voice.

 

“There is no need to do that, podpolkovnik,” said Deranka. “I can deal with this man. You,” he told Kutuzov, “bring what’s left of those boxes to the commander’s console.”

 

Kutuzov gulped. He had no idea of what had happened to the box as to why it gave out, but he was facing a bigger problem now. He felt every eye in command center focus on him as he lifted the other boxes and began walking towards the commander’s console.

 

Suddenly, Deranka shouted, “Captain, what in the name of the gods are you doing?”

 

Kutuzov turned around to apologize when the room suddenly went dark. Kutuzov felt something sting on his chest, and then he collapsed into a senseless heap.

 

Captain Kutuzov woke up an hour later to find Major Deranka standing above him. “Welcome back to the land of the living, Comrade Captain,” he said.

 

“What happened, Comrade Major?”

 

“The reactor technicians cut the power to the command center, but in the confusion, I shot you by mistake.” Deranka held up a dart. Your paralysis darts worked like a charm, Comrade Captain. Oh, look, everyone is already awake.”

 

“How many men have you captured?” asked the Captain, lifting himself onto a seat.

 

“Seventy-three,” replied Deranka. “It was either that or death. I have three non-commissioned officers who have declared their support for the Republic of Krakozhia, as well as nine petty officers and fifteen enlisted men. They have sealed their pledge by desecrating the flag of Rivymiyitevko in front of the colonel and podpolkovnik. They are manning the consoles and are trying to maintain the facility’s normal operating status.

 

“To tell you the truth, Comrade Captain, had you come a few days later, the Cosmodrome would have been Konstantin Benin’s new command center. We wouldn’t have had a chance against his personal guard.”

 

“How did you know that?”

 

“I was asked by General Domshomidova to come to Sonolovichyrevko and give my opinion on how to best use the Cosmodrome as a command center.”

 

Kutuzov stared at Deranka with astonishment. “Forgive me for asking this, Comrade Major,” he said, “but why are you doing this? Based from what you’ve told me, you could be a member of Benin’s inner circle.”

 

“Oh, no, I was not close to Konstantin Benin. At least, not lately.” Deranka sat down on the console. “I used to be one of General Domshomidova’s many advisors, but deep inside, I was an ardent communist. I was born to two fervent Communists, and they taught me the hope and promise it could bring to the world. When the revolution came, we were forced to accept capitalism, but we have never strayed from the path. We kept our real beliefs a secret while we went on with our lives. But my mother—she was always the outspoken one during Party meetings—couldn’t afford to live the lie any longer. Taking my younger brother with her, she boarded a ferry bound for Russia, but they were caught when Benin’s men made a surprise inspection. My poor brother was executed on the spot, right in front of my mother, and then they sent her to prison. She later committed suicide. After this, I lost my position as Domshomidova’s advisor, and my father lost his job and his so-called benefits. He recently passed away thanks to both pneumonia and tuberculosis. He didn’t have a working heater in his apartment for a year!”

 

“I’m sorry about your family, Major,” said Captain Kutuzov. He couldn’t think of anything else to say.

 

“Don’t be,” said Deranka. I still have my wife, my son, and my twin daughters to look after. My wife and I have groomed our children to be believers, but we also reminded them to never question the capitalists. All I want for them is to grow up in a land open to their beliefs.

 

“The time for mistrust is over, my young Comrade Captain. When the Krakozhian Army comes—and they will come, you promised me that, Captain—we shall see what kind of country the reunion of our states created.

 

“When the fun starts, it is our duty to confuse the Rivymiyitevko Independence Movement. When, as the Americans say, the shit hits the fan, our job is to make sure that it hits Konstantin Benin.”

 

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