Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 4
White Beach

Chapter Four: White Beach

 

Outside Renechev, Rivymiyitevko

September 30, 2008 0759 Rivymiyitevko time (0359 Krakozhian time)

 

“Thirty seconds to missile launch.”

 

Senior Lieutenant Lev Vladimirovich Arigov turned to the driver of the BTR-80 he was riding and said, “Turn on the environment-control system.”

 

“Yes, Lieutenant.” And then, Arigov heard the whir of fans above him. It was the environment-control system at work, pumping in fresh air stored in eight tanks attached around the body of the vehicle.

 

The BTR was onboard the LST Obrytobryskaya Number Six, named after the sixth nuclear reactor in the Obrytobryskaya Nuclear Power Plant, the second largest power plant of its type in Krakozhia. She began her life as the USS LST-47, and she served in the Normandy and Okinawa landings before she was transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service in 1952. She was sold to the Philippine Navy in 1976, where she saw limited service. Krakozhia got its hands on the LST-47 when its engineers were contracted by the Philippine government to repair the vessel. Supposedly, the BRP Tarlac, as she was known then, was to be the first of the Philippine Navy’s ships to undergo a modernization program, but the project was stalled due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the Krakozhian Navy was forced to commission the vessel for itself, renaming her Obrytobryskaya Number Six.

 

Inside her holds were the men and vehicles of the 117th Platoon of the 50th Motor Rifle Division of the Krakozhian Third Army under the command of Lieutenant Arigov. The platoon's thirty-three men were inside two BTR-80s and a BMD-3, and they were supported by a GAZ-3937 mobile communications van, two UAZ-469 jeeps, and a Ural-4320 fuel truck. While it may look like an undermanned platoon for some, it was more than enough for Lev. He was sure that he could more vehicles from one of the transportation companies loaded onboard one of the attack transports in Yerotsk.

 

“Fifteen seconds to missile launch.”

 

“Maria, Roman, how are you doing over there?” Arigov asked over the radio.

 

“We’re doing fine, Lev.”

 

“We’re fine over here. I can’t wait to go back.”

 

“Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…one…launch missiles!”

 

Arigov heard a series of loud roars as the Obrytobryskaya Number Six fired its eight land attack missiles. The missiles’ exhaust was a toxic mix of gases, which explained a need for activating the environment-control systems of the vehicles inside. A few minutes later, he felt the rumble of the missiles hitting their targets somewhere in the area marked “White Beach” on the invasion maps.

 

“Prepare to move in,” said the captain of the LST. Arigov felt the ship’s diesel engines accelerate, and then he formed a mental image of the Obrytobryskaya Number Six moving in on White Beach alongside more modern counterparts like the Polnocny- and Ropucha-class landing ships.

 

The Obrytobryskaya Number Six shuddered as its hull made contact with land. The captain ordered the ship’s bow doors to open, and Arigov’s vehicle was the first one out.

 

The sight that greeted Lev as he stepped outside was horrific. What had been a complex network of trenches, machine gun nests, and mortar pits was now leveled sand, and only a few of the bodies were above the charred ground. The rest had been buried in place. Out of respect for the dead, Arigov decided not to move through “the graveyard,” as he would call it later on.

 

The platoon reached Renechev quickly thanks to Highway One, which was the main artery for travel around Rivymiyitevko. Arigov ordered his driver to stop, in order for the advance elements of the 69th Tank Army to pass through when a round struck the lead tank. The tank column made a hasty retreat, and another round landed just short of the lead tank.

 

"Disembark!" shouted Arigov. "Hide the vehicles!"

 

After making sure that the vehicles had been hidden in the town's alleys, Arigov entered the communications van. After receiving a headset and a microphone, he got on the line with the tank commander.

 

"Tanks two-three-five, this is Army one-one-seven."

 

"Oh, thank God, Army! Where are you?"

 

"We're at the intersection of Highways One and Two."

 

"Oh. You must be the ones we passed by before we were attacked."

 

"Yeah. Do you want our help?"

 

"I think we'll need all the help that we can get, one-one-seven."

 

"Roger that, two-three-five. Army one-one-seven out."

 

Arigov removed his headset and stepped out of the Vodnik. He then ordered a private armed with an RPG-7 to come with him. Around the corner of the intersection, he saw that the attack came from a low concrete bunker built around a curve in the road, probably to keep the tanks from using it, just as it had demonstrated a few moments ago. The lead tank was lucky that the first shot landed on its front explosive reactive armor panel.

 

"Can you see the antitank gun in the bunker, Private?" he asked.

 

"Yes, Lieutenant."

 

"Good. Shoot it."

 

"Comrade Lieutenant, I can't destroy that gun at this distance!"

 

"I don't need you to destroy it, Private. All we need is to damage its barrel, and then our tanks could roll through the town."

 

The private nodded, and then he raised his weapon and fired. The rocket struck the gun's barrel and bent it at an angle.

 

"Good, Comrade Private. Now, follow me."

 

The two walked slowly down the road, keeping an eye out for another ambush. They reached the bunker's door, which was made of solid steel. The private planted two explosive charges at the foot of the door and, after getting approval from Arigov, detonated them.

 

Inside, they found a rebel slumped beside the gun, his head sticking out at an odd angle. Another one was trying to hide himself by squeezing into a corner. Lev went and checked the man for any sign of injury, and then he lifted him up and said, "You are coming with us. Do not fight us, and you will live."

 

The rebel merely nodded as his head was covered with a black sack.

 

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