Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 10
Attack

Chapter Ten: Attack

 

Aboard the submarine K-287

Somewhere in the Kara Sea

October 6, 2008 1605 Rivymiyitevko time (1205 Krakozhian time)

 

Captain Second Rank Georgiy Dostalinsky watched as Captain Gennady Poryk opened the wardroom safe. It was like any other safe onboard a Navy ship, with an outer door with a combination lock and an inner one that required two keys to be opened. He had just handed over his key to Poryk, who inserted it into the appropriate slot below the latch and turned both.

 

Inside the safe was a brown envelope containing what looked like a boxy object. Poryk took it out and handed it over to Dostalinsky. It turned out to be a computer cartridge, probably loaded with a new set of coordinates for their missiles, he thought. He had been surprised when he was told that the K-287 would have to unload its nuclear missiles to make room for guided missile cells, because such attacks weren't due until the capital of Rivymiyitevko, Sonolovichyrevko, was surrounded by Krakozhian troops. But, as always, nothing was totally true in this world, and today was no exception.

 

Poryk, who had been reading the orders attached to the cartridge, threw the papers onto the table with contempt. "Just as I thought," he muttered before leaving the wardroom. Dostalinsky picked up the papers and began to read.

 

It began with the words Krasnaya Operatsiya—Russian for Red Operation—which was usually treated by Krakozhian submarine captains as an act of war. The K-287 was to launch twenty cruise missiles onto the town of Gratavsky, or specifically, enemy fortifications inside the town. Now he knew why Poryk was angry—the mission would use up his supply of cruise missiles. Gennady had planned to use them when he run out of torpedoes, but according to Dostalinsky's limited knowledge; that had not yet happened. Then, he noticed something that the captain had left behind.

 

"We have reached the launch point, Comrade Captain," said the helmsman.

 

"Good," said Poryk. Then, reaching for the intercom, he said, "Comrades! Crew of the K-287, this is the Captain speaking. Prepare for cruise missile launch."

 

"Yes, Comrade Captain," replied the missile officer. "Missiles will be ready in ten minutes."

 

Poryk reached for the keys hanging from his neck, but found only air. Damn, I'm getting old, he thought. He would have to go back to the wardroom to retrieve his keys—

 

"Your keys, Captain," said Dostalinsky, handing them over.

 

"Thank you, Georgiy."

 

Three more people were surrounding the weapons console when Poryk and Dostalinsky reached it: the political officer, the missile officer, and the navigator. Poryk and Dostalinsky inserted their keys into the corresponding slots, followed by the other officers, and turned them all at the same time. A red light on the panel turned to blinking yellow, and another light went off beside the cartridge slot. The missile officer inserted the cartridge included with the orders and waited until all of the target coordinates had been loaded into the missiles' computers. When that happened, the yellow light on the panel turned green, and the red button normally inaccessible to the crew thanks to a plastic cover, began to blink.

 

Poryk took a deep breath and lifted the cover. The process was so much like the one done when launching a nuclear missile. The only difference was that different weapons were being employed. Sighing, the captain pushed the button.

 

On the submarine's sail, three hatches opened, allowing water to rush into the missile tubes. Inside each tube was a cell with seven Gudin cruise missiles arranged like bullets in the barrel of a revolver. Six missiles surrounded the seventh one, for the cell was designed to hold as many missiles as it could inside a tube made for a ballistic missile.

 

Upon Captain Poryk's pushing the red button, pneumatic pistons were activated, pushing the encapsulated missiles out of the tubes and into the sea. Reaching a predetermined depth, the bottom end of the capsule was removed to allow the exhaust to escape into the environment. Once in the air, a bar stowed the missile swung into position across the missile and became a rudimentary wing, steering it in the right direction. Gyroscopes onboard each missile kept it level during its flight, while a global positioning system monitor tracked its progress. Once it sensed that it was getting nearer to its target, the missile tipped its nose downward, increasing forward momentum. Such an ability had been developed upon the advent of massive concrete bunkers, some with roofs up to six meters thick. These missiles, nicknamed "bunker busters," gave an extra punch against heavily fortified enemies at the cost of a reduced warhead.

 

The missiles struck their targets in Gratavsky within three to five seconds of each other, sometimes with two missiles hitting the same target. Two thousand RIM troops were killed. They were not the last to die of a Krakozhian missile attack against Rivymiyitevko.

 

Outside Gratavsky, Rivymiyitevko

1640 Rivymiyitevko time (1240 Krakozhian time)

 

"That's it," muttered Lev Arigov as the last missile struck Gratavsky. "Let's go," he told the driver of the BTR-80.

 

The vehicle, along with the rest of the 117th Platoon, was hiding in the woods surrounding Gratavsky. It had been lying in wait for hours now, waiting for the moment to strike.

 

Arigov's BTR was at the head of the column, and therefore the most vulnerable to attack. In case it was disabled, the troops inside—twelve, including the driver and gunner—could escape using various hatches built into the vehicle and hitchhike with the other vehicles in the platoon, but Arigov hoped that it wouldn't come to that.

 

The platoon emerged from the woods and onto the road surrounding Gratavsky and followed it until they reached Highway Two running through the town and stopped. The troops inside their transports stepped out and waited for the enemy to make contact.

 

A green jeep with a boxlike compartment on its back appeared out of nowhere. One of the soldiers with rockets aimed his weapon at the jeep and fired. It exploded into a burning fireball, its wreckage flying in different directions. It was then that the chaos began. Rebel troops hidden among the debris of what was Gratavsky fired at the 117th Platoon, forcing the Krakozhians to split up and deal with the enemy in smaller numbers.

 

Arigov had three soldiers with him: Atolova, a lieutenant named Zhemnev, and a private with a rocket-propelled grenade. It wasn't the best squad he could have, but they would do for now.

 

"Captain, One-one-seven is under attack," he said on the radio. "We are taking heavy fire, but not much casualties."

 

"Copy that, One-one-seven," replied Captain Urov. "Let's meet up at the post office."

 

The four soldiers made their way through the town, taking cover whenever possible and taking out the occasional enemy soldier. Once, a technical appeared and almost killed them had not the private fired his RPG-7.

 

The four reached the post office a few minutes later. Miraculously, it was still standing, despite being hit by two one-thousand-pound cruise missiles with two hundred pound explosive warheads each. Some would call it a miracle, others a testament to Russian architecture. But no matter what, it was still an enemy position until all enemy forces had been eliminated from the structure.

 

"Captain, we're at the post office," said Arigov. "Where are you?"

 

"We're right in front of you, Lev," the Captain replied. "They've pinned us down. Care to help us over here?"

 

"Damn," Arigov muttered to himself. "We're going in," he told the others. He raised his rifle, fired two bursts on the door's hinges, and then kicked it in. Inside, the sorting room had been turned into a makeshift armory. Rifles, mostly Russian AK-47s and German Heckler & Koch G3s, lined the shelves, and more were piled on the tables, all with three to six spare magazines. A single rebel soldier was lying on the tables, his head sticking out at an odd angle. Arigov knew from a glance that he was dead.

 

"Let's head upstairs," said Arigov.

 

There was a large hole above the second floor, caused by the Starscream missiles hitting the structure earlier, and it allowed light to shine into the building. Ten enemy soldiers were on the other side, firing out of what remained of the windows.

 

"Don't fire until I say so," said Arigov. "No use alerting them to our presence."

 

"I feel like I'm cutting through mail sorting," muttered Atolova.

 

Four rifles fired, and ten enemy soldiers fell dead on the ground. It took a few moments for the silence to sink in, and the four didn't speak until Captain Urov called them by radio. "You had to do that, Lev," he said simply.

 

Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base

2130 Rivymiyitevko time (1730 Krakozhian time)

 

"Looks like there's a lot of rebels headed for Gratavsky now," said Yuri Ashchenko. "Are they going to leave us here?"

 

"I have no idea of what they're doing," replied Vladimir Malenkov. "Tanya, anything on the wire?"

 

"Just this message, Major," said Tanya Numistatova, handing him a slip of paper. It read, ALL FORCES EXCEPT ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL TO DEPLOY TO GRATAVSKY IMMEDIATELY.

 

"At least there's not much of them left here tonight," Malenkov said, folding the paper. "We wouldn't have much of a problem dealing with two hundred regulars."

 

Ashchenko looked at him in surprise. "You want to do it tonight?" he asked.

 

"Tonight is probably our best and only chance of taking this base without much bloodshed. If we don't do this tonight, we might as well not do it at all."

 

"Damn it, Volodya, with Gratavsky under attack by the Krakozhians, these rebels are surely on a war footing. Maybe we should wait until tomorrow."

 

"Tomorrow could mean the arrival of reinforcements, Yuri," Malenkov continued. "This is our best chance of taking this base out of Benin's hands on the sly. I've already made my decision, Captain Ashchenko, I can do it with or without you. So, what will it be?"

 

Ashchenko was silent for a few moments. Finally, he said, "Fine, I'm in. But remember, I didn't do this for you; I did this for Rivymiyitevko."

 

"Didn't we all?" said Malenkov. "Our attack will begin at midnight. Try to get some sleep; we won't be getting much of that after this."

 

Midnight came quickly for Malenkov, who had slept through most of it. After making sure that they were not being watched, Malenkov woke up his accomplices. "Yuri, Tanya, Marko, it's time," he said.

 

He and Ashchenko moved the Major's bed aside, revealing loose floorboards. Pulling back three planks, he revealed a hole in the floor. After removing an AK-47 hidden underneath his bed, he said, "I'll go first." And then, he jumped into the hole.

 

The opening to the tunnel was tall enough for a man to fit comfortably inside, but the tunnel itself was no higher than a man's shins, meaning anyone who wanted to pass through the tunnel had to get down on their knees and crawl.

 

Malenkov threw his rifle into the tunnel and crawled inside. Although not fat, he knew that he had to lose a few pounds because he could only barely squeeze through. He finally reached the end of the tunnel, which was a facsimile of the chamber that he had come through. Above him was a wooden board, which he carefully removed from its place. On top was a rubber sheet, which he carefully rolled back to reveal an opening. Looking around, he could see that he was inside the base armory, which was full of rifles, magazines, and ammunition, as well as armored vests ready for use in case the base ever came under attack. Malenkov took a quick look around the room, found it empty, and bent down into the hole to his waiting accomplices. When that was finished, he threw his rifle out and lifted himself out and landed in the armory without a sound.

 

Malenkov waited for a few minutes for the rest to enter the armory. By then, he had on an armored vest with attachments for grenades and spare magazines. And then, on second thought, he took one of the spare uniforms hanging inside the armory and wore them.

 

"Good idea, Major," said Ashchenko, who took one for himself.

 

The four Rivymiyitevko soldiers, now dressed as rebels, stepped out of the armory and into an empty hallway. Splitting into two pairs, they headed for different parts of the complex to accomplish their specific missions. For Malenkov and Ashchenko, it was taking out the leadership of the enemy at the moment of crisis; for Numistatova and Zhuzhev, it was to distract the troops themselves by firing through the fence.

 

"I hope the guys at the other end know when to let loose," said Ashchenko.

 

"Don't worry, Yuri Fedorovich," said Malenkov. "Marko Illarionovich Zhuzhev is the master of strategy. If anyone knows when to fire the first shot, it's him."

 

And then, the Major sighed as the first shots fired in Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base since the Arctic Revolution shattered the silent night.

 

"How is the squadron, Viktor Petrovich?"

 

"We've suffered minimal losses after the first aerial battle for Rivymiyitevko," replied the colonel in command of the air force squadron in the base. "I did lose Podpolkovnik Ozerov during a routine patrol into the Krakozhian beachhead. He is presumed captured and held prisoner against his will."

 

"I assume that your replacement is as capable as Ivan Sergeyevich," Colonel Igor Sultanovich Sazanin continued. They were walking along the flight line, now devoid of any planes except for two Chinese Q-5 fighters standing by for a possible intercept. The rest had been moved into their hangars just in case the Krakozhian Air Force decided to attack the base.

 

"Ah, if only that were true," replied the colonel of aviation. "Nobody can ever actually replace Ivan Sergeyevich—"

 

He was interrupted by the sound of gunfire coming from the prisoners' camp. Such an event had been deemed impossible by the two men that it took some time before the gravity of the situation struck them and they finally came back to reality. Reaching for his radio, Sazanin shouted, "Muktarbariyev, what is going on in the prisoners' camp?"

 

"I don't know," came the reply of the commanding officer of the prison guards. "Somehow they have managed to smuggle in weapons to their camp."

 

"Put down this little shootout of theirs and inspect all huts!" Sazanin ordered.

 

"Yes, Colonel!" There was gunfire at the other end of the line. "Oh, by the gods! They're breaking through our lines! Shoot them! Shoot, shoot, shoot!" Then there was only static.

 

"What's happening?" asked the aviation colonel.

 

"Grab a rifle! We could be in for the fight for our lives!" This time, the colonel made no reply. Sazanin turned around to find the man lying in a pool of his own blood, his chest ripped open by gunshot wounds.

 

"Govno," muttered Sazanin. He was now alone against a seemingly unstoppable enemy, and all that he had to fight them was his knife and sidearm. But no, there was a secret stash of weapons in one of the hangars. If he was going to die now, he might as well take some Communists with him to hell.

 

The gray Ural-4320 truck tore down the road between the Rivymiyitevko Cosmodrome and Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base at its top speed of seventy kilometers per hour. First, there was no traffic on the road; second, it was a military vehicle; and third, its driver was under orders to proceed to the airbase as fast as possible. Sergeant Lazlo Kumshyk had never driven this fast in his whole life, and he was enjoying every moment of it.

 

"Slow down, Lazlo Feliksovich," said Anatoly Tufuny. "I think our guests are getting sick!"

 

"Let them get sick, Anatoly Dmitrievich!" shouted Kumshyk. "I am the master of the roads!"

 

"If one of them falls out of the truck, I blame you!"

 

Behind them, in the cargo hold, the ten Spetsnaz operatives, now dressed in their regular uniforms, shifted around like the untied cargo that they were. Captain Kutuzov turned around and shouted above the roar of the engine, "When we enter the camp, I want Gavrina to scout the right side, while Vyacheslav takes the left. After clearing it up, the rest of you go in one by one, with me bringing up the rear. Then, we make our way towards the complex and secure the communications room while eliminating much of the opposition as possible. Are there any—"

 

The Captain was interrupted by the truck suddenly stopping. He turned towards the driver's cab and said, "What is it, comrades?"

 

"There is no one manning the security barrier, Comrade Captain," replied Tufuny. "It's never happened until now."

 

"That changes the rules a little," muttered Kutuzov. "All right, team, let's disembark. Gavrina, you're on point. Vyacheslav, back her up."

 

"We'll be on the radio," said Kumshyk. "If you need our help, just call us."

 

"I'll keep that in mind."


"Are you serious?" asked Tufuny as the Spetsnaz operatives left. "All we have to help them are these old rifles!" He held up his SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle.

 

"We can always call Major Deranka if things go downhill," replied Kumshyk. "But then, it may be too late for our Krakozhian comrades."

 

Gavrina Vasilyevna Kumilyova was afraid.

 

Of course, she wasn't as afraid as she had been during her first battle six years ago, when she was just a young, pale-faced recruit. It was the mute fear of a professional soldier, the one that told her brain that there was something wrong about that rock, or asked it was that a monkey or a sniper in that tree? It was all a soldier needed in the battlefield, but sometimes it just wasn't enough.

 

As she was passing by the fence separating the prisoner camp from the rest of the complex, she stepped on something soft. Looking down, she saw the body of a Rivymiyitevko officer, with dozens of bullet wounds peppering his chest. Gavrina could barely make out the word Muktarbariyev written on his chest in Cyrillic, and she could see that he was a sergeant, based on the chevrons on his arms. As she bent down to feel for a pulse, she also noticed dozens of footprints on the dirt road. It led from the open gate to the prisoner compound to the door of the administration complex and barracks.

 

"What is it, Gavrina?" asked Kutuzov.

 

"I think this place just suffered a riot," she replied.

 

"Put your hands behind your head, please," a voice said softly. Kutuzov and Kumilyova complied, but only after the Captain said, "I am Captain Mikhail Yevgeniyevich Kutuzov of the Krakozhian Spetsnaz."

 

"That's your story. Prove it! Who was the commander of the Krakozhian Spetsnaz for ten days of May 1999?"

 

"Major General Samuil Aleksandrovich Ilyanuk," Kutuzov replied without skipping a beat.

 

"Oh, thank the gods! You are Krakozhians after all."

 

Kutuzov turned around to face the man that had managed to take two trained Spetsnaz operatives by surprise, but then he was lifted up from his knees and wrapped in a tight bear hug.

 

"Major Malenkov had told us that the Spetsnaz would be coming for us, and now you are here!" said Marko Zhuzhev. "Come! You can use the communications room to tell of your commanders of your success."

 

"Gavrina, why don't you take the team and come with this man," Kutuzov told Kumilyova. "I'll go and check the hangars."

 

There was something wrong about the airplane hangars, and Kutuzov couldn't shake off the feeling that there was danger there. As he reached the first hangar, he tightened his grip on his weapon and aimed it inside. There was nothing in there except three MiG-19s and a Lisunov Li-2, the Soviet copy of the venerable Douglas DC-2. Disappointed, he left the hangar…

 

…when suddenly, a foot appeared out of nowhere and kicked Kutuzov's weapon from his hands. It was immediately followed by a punch to the face, which sent Kutuzov down on his knees.

 

Sazanin, the man who had attacked Kutuzov, was about to stab the Captain's chest when he grabbed his leg and pulled it towards him. They were now both on the ground, and there they continued their fight to the death.

 

Sazanin gained the upper hand when he landed on top of Kutuzov, and he aimed his knife at Kutuzov’s stomach while keeping the Captain’s pistol out of his reach. Sensing his adversary’s strength slowly weakening, he thrust the knife deep into Kutuzov’s abdomen. The Captain moaned in pain, and Sazanin allowed himself a moment of victory.

 

But Kutuzov was not a man easily defeated. As soon as Sazanin’s grip on his right hand began to loosen, he reached for his Makarov pistol and fired at Sazanin’s chest. He stumbled and fell on his backside, both in surprise and to the impact of the bullet on his body. As he stared at the growing circle of blood on his uniform, he looked at Kutuzov for one last time before he was felled by a burst of gunfire.

 

Kutuzov would never forget the look on Sazanin’s eyes. They were sad and pleading, much different from the maniacal ones he had stared into when he fired the fatal shot. But now, he was focused on removing the knife protruding from his stomach. Grabbing the hilt, he pulled with all of his strength, and he grunted as another wave of pain went through his body.

 

“Captain! What happened to you?” asked Kumilyova. She was the one that had finally killed Sazanin.

 

“It’s nothing a little vodka wouldn’t fix,” Kutuzov replied.

 

“That’s bull and you know it,” said Kumilyova. “Arya! Kostya! Over here! You know how good your troops are, right?”

 

But Kutuzov wasn’t listening to her. Instead, he took his Makarov and handed it to Kumilyova. “Gavrina, take this,” he said. “You’ve earned it.”

 

“No, that’s yours, Captain! Stop talking like you’re about to die!”

 

“It was only a matter of time, Gavrina. I’ve cheated death so many times, he deserves my soul.”

 

“What are you talking about, Captain? You are going to live!”

 

Kutuzov grinned. She was as tenacious as she had been eight years ago. As the team’s corpsmen began surrounding him, he pressed his Makarov into Kumilyova’s hand and said, “So what if I live? I’ll be spending the rest of this war confined to a cold hospital bed. And when I’m finally well enough to fight again, I’ll be too old for the Spetsnaz.”

 

“They wouldn’t let you go after all that you did for the Republic!” Kumilyova persisted. “Marshal Dallutev wouldn’t stand for it.”

 

“Unfortunately, it may be the Marshal himself who will force my retirement on me.”

 

As he lifted onto a stretcher by Malenkov’s men, Kutuzov turned to Kumilyova and said, “Gavrina Vasilyevna Kumilyova, you are now in command of Operation FARMER. Now, off the record, do me proud and give Konstantin Benin hell.”

 

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