Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 9
Making Plans

Chapter Nine: Making Plans

 

Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base

October 6, 2008 1150 Rivymiyitevko time (0750 Krakozhian time)

 

General Ivan Buranovich Penin stepped out of his car and into the cold Arctic wind. Despite the fact that Rivymiyitevko was unusually warm for a place above the Arctic Circle, it still had to suffer winds reaching up to negative seven degrees Celsius. And there were also the daily showers at noon that someone could set his watch to. Nobody knew why it happened until recently, when it was discovered that the skies above Rivymiyitevko were the crossroads of three different wind systems, which caused the daily phenomena.

 

Although he shivered in his greatcoat, Penin took the cold wind as a good sign. It usually meant that there would only be a light rain later, and he needed the weather to cooperate on his mission.

 

"Is my private plane being prepared?" he asked his aide.

 

"Yes, General," replied Igor Sazanin. "But, if I may, can I ask you what could be so urgent that it could call you away from your command during a critical time?"

 

"I have been ordered by President Benin to come to the capital," Penin replied. "He has an urgent matter to discuss with me."

 

Sazanin understood what the general meant. "Surely you have nothing that will cast you in a suspicious light, General?"

 

"Of course I haven't, Igor, but you never know."

 

They walked towards a dull white aircraft that had white spots which showed where the roundel of the Krakozhian Air Force had once been before it was painted over by Rivymiyitevko forces. It was a Consolidated Fleetster, made in the United States in the early 1930s, and capable of flying eight passengers in relative comfort. It was one of the last Fleetsters in existence, and possibly the only one still airworthy. It had once belonged to the commander of the Rivymiyitevko Air Militia for flights between the base and Sonolovichyrevko before Penin took it as his private plane. Its eight-piston engine was already turning at a comfortable rate, and the pilot was already finished with his pre-flight checklist.

 

"Ivan, kindly open the door for me," Penin told his bodyguard, who immediately complied.

 

"One more thing, Igor," Penin told Sazanin. "If you do not hear from me, assume the worst and take command."

 

"Yes, sir."

 

Malenkov watched as Penin's Consolidated Fleetster took off into the Arctic sky. From the bits of conversation that he heard between Penin and Sazanin, he could assume that the general had been ordered back to Sonolovichyrevko by Benin, but for what reasons, he didn't bother to know.

 

He barely twitched as Captain Ashchenko walked up beside him. "Is he going to leave us here?" he asked the major.

 

"I have no idea of what he's doing. Tanya, did anything come over the wire?"

 

"No, Major, not a thing," replied Numistatova.

 

"By the way, what did the girl you met yesterday tell you?"

 

"I'll tell you inside the hut. The rains are about to come."

 

The trio entered Malenkov's hut just as the rains began to fall. The raindrops falling on the galvanized steel roof were like so many pebbles falling from the sky. Malenkov sat down on his bed and said, "I think that girl was from the Spetsnaz. She had the air of a special forces type—trust me, I've seen the type. She had someone else with her, a blond man with a machine gun, probably their strategist. Anyway, the girl told me that the Krakozhians were coming."

 

"That can't be true," said Numistatova. "Based on the wire messages I've seen, most of Krakozhia's forces are poised to strike Gratavsky, and since the RIM constructed a small base on the hills above the town, I doubt that they will send in even a platoon to rescue us."

 

"Maybe help will come in the form of a Spetsnaz team," said Ashchenko. "You said it yourself, Volodya, two Spetsnaz operatives were inside the base before. They're more than likely to be part of a bigger force."

 

"True, Yuri," said Malenkov, "but we can't just rely on outside help, which is why I wanted to show you this." He removed the mattress from his bed, exposing a large sheet of paper underneath. "This is my proposed battle plan for retaking the base," he said, straightening a crease. "Bear with me; I just updated it last night."

 

"Now, the first stage of the plan is to secure the armory. We will enter it through an emergency tunnel built underneath my bed by pairs, following the rules of leader and wingman. We will take as much weapons and ammunition as we can back here, and then we will split into two groups with different objectives.

 

"The first group, led by Yuri and I, would go back into the tunnel and cause confusion inside their barracks, while the second group, led by Tanya and Marko, would form a line of fire along the eastern fence of the camp. The primary aim of this plan is to confuse the RIM on which side should they attack first, the outside or the inside. Remember, however, that once they raise their hands up in surrender, under no circumstances should you open fire on them. But, if they make a move for your weapon, you have every right to shoot."

 

"That's it?" asked Ashchenko. "It's that simple?"

 

"I've been going over it for six years, and it's still like that."

 

"You mean that we've had the key to the base the whole time without even knowing it?" asked Ashchenko.

 

"But what about the Democratic Revolution Corps?" asked Numistatova. "Surely there must be a way to get them out of the equation."

 

"Every soldier needs sleep," Malenkov replied. "Once we get into their barracks, Tanya, we'll neutralize them. We'll shoot them in their beds if we have to, but I would like it more if casualties are kept to a minimum. I think there's a supply of stun grenades inside the armory.

 

"Help is coming, comrades," he continued. "All we need to do is hasten the process. Now, gather as much men and women as you can trust, and make sure you inform them of the plan. Those you deem untrustworthy, bind them up so they won't be able to spoil the plan. Is all clear, then? We begin the attack tonight."

 

White Beach, Rivymiyitevko

That same time

 

"The objective is to secure the town of Gratavsky," Captain Andrei Urov began. "As of the latest intelligence estimates, there are a thousand fully armed troops garrisoned in the town, along with an armored battalion, if one didn't count the new base that the RIM had established just south of the town. A further twenty-five hundred troops are inside the base, and all could be mobilized within three to five minutes for the defense of the town.

 

"Now, we will begin the attack with a salvo of guided missiles from the submarine K-287. And then, the 115th Platoon, led by me, will move into the town and engage all enemy units. The 117th Platoon, led by Lieutenant Arigov, will encircle the town and cut off the garrison and the base from each other, while the 235th Platoon of the 69th Tanks move in to secure the base.

 

"I would like to point out that all of Gratavsky's civilian population have been evacuated by the 1111th Transportation Company to Renechev, so there is no danger of accidentally shooting a civilian. I would recommend that everyone should keep an eye out for possible ambushes. These rebels are a very tenacious lot. Are there any questions? None? Good. We will move out at sixteen hundred hours.”

 

“I think the Captain just gave me the deadly assignment,” said Arigov as he stepped out of the tent.

 

“I don’t know about that,” replied Atolova. “I don’t see anything dangerous from flanking a town.”

 

“That’s true, but still, you never know.”

 

Rivymiyitevko Cosmodrome

That same time

 

“The base is well defended,” said Vyacheslav Klimov. “Aside from three regular regiments, a full regiment of the Democratic Revolution Corps had been sent to fortify the base, which could put a dent to our plans.”

 

Captain Mikhail Kutuzov sighed. Nothing in his decade of service with the Krakozhian Spetsnaz had taught him how to fight two thousand enemy troops in one location. Most of his career had involved intelligence gathering and disruption of supply lines, and he was smart enough to know that his team would need more than themselves to defeat such a huge force of rebels.

 

“According to our agents, the resistance have made many plans to attack the base but these were shelved due to their inferior numbers,” Klimov continued. “We’ve asked for their support, but they said that they plan to support the impending attack on Gratavsky, which would hopefully take the rebels’ focus away from the base for the meantime. We’ve also asked Major Deranka if he can provide us some troops, but he said that he would have to maintain a pro-Benin stance until the Cosmodrome is officially occupied by Krakozhia.”

 

“Five hundred resistance fighters wouldn’t dare go near that base,” muttered Kutuzov, “and the then of us are already a stone’s throw away.”

 

“Don’t lose hope yet, Comrade Captain,” said Klimov. “Major Deranka told me that the prisoners in the base are planning to attack the RIM garrison there.”

 

“At least Major Malenkov got the message,” said Kutuzov. “Good job, Gavrina.”

 

“Anyway, Major Deranka said that he can provide us a truck and a driver, but that’s the only assets he’s willing to risk. I believe you know them, Captain. They’re Sergeants Lazlo Kumshyk and Anatoly Tufuny.

 

“Once we reach the base, we’ll enter the administration complex and check the barracks. We’ll make contact with the prisoners and assure them of our allegiances. After that, we split up into pairs and check the hangars and aircraft for any explosives set by the rebels. Once we’ve cleared the flight line, we can send the success signal.”

 

Captain Kutuzov looked for any loopholes in Klimov’s plan and found none. That was what he liked about Vyacheslav Il’ych—he had amazing battlefield awareness. It was the reason why Kutuzov had pirated him away from the Army to the Spetsnaz.

 

"That's a good plan, Vyacheslav," he said. "You can give it to your teammates now; I'll follow you later."

 

Kumilyova was about to follow Klimov out when she noticed the Captain's troubled face. She turned around and went to Kutuzov. "Is something bothering you, Captain?" she asked.

 

"Oh, I have a feeling that this will be my last mission," he replied.

 

"Don't think that, Captain," said Kumilyova. "There will be more missions for you, for all of us, after this one."

 

"No, Gavrina, it's not that simple," said the Captain. "It's something I can't simply ignore."

 

Kumilyova shook her head. "You need a drink, Captain. It's not good for a commanding officer to think negatively in front of his troops."

 

Kutuzov made a short barking laugh. "I think I'll need something more than that, Gavrina, but nevertheless, I will follow your advice. But, you must be ready to take command if ever I am incapacitated." And then he left the room.

 

Kumilyova was sure that the Captain would soon recover from his self-imposed illness, but his parting words were still ringing in her ears. What if something were to happen to Captain Kutuzov, and he wouldn't be able to lead them? Can she step into his shoes? Sure, much of what she knew about special operations she had learned from him, but can she lead the team effectively when the time came?

 

Kumilyova was reminded of the days of the Great War of the Republic, when officers were killed by the hundreds and inexperienced ones put in their place. A sergeant could become a lieutenant in the battlefield, and privates would have to chosen to fill in the noncommissioned ranks. Lots of soldiers with battlefield experience had been lost that way, but the experiences gained by the younger soldiers were more than enough to teach them of their new way of life.

 

But it was different now. Lives were a priority, unlike during the Republican War, when victories where more important. Would the experiences she gained during that time help her now? She had no way of knowing.

 

She peered into the room where the team was assembled. Although she called them by their surnames during operations, she knew their names by heart, and she also knew their individual quirks. Vyacheslav Il'ych never liked flying in helicopters because of a broken back sustained back in the Republican War. Ravil Eduardovich had grown up in a community of racists, and had joined the Army to prove himself. Arya Vladimirovna planned on returning to her hometown and settling down after retiring from the Army.

 

So many things to do, and yet seemingly no time to do all of them. Many had seen other people's dreams crash and burn thanks to an injury, and the best that the team could do was to make sure nobody got hurt trying to achieve theirs.

 

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