Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 11
From the Land to the Sea

Act Two: Escalation of Warfare

Chapter Eleven: From the Land to the Sea

 

Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base

October 7, 2008 0240 Rivymiyitevko time (October 6, 2008 2240 Krakozhian time)

 

Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base was much busier than it had ever been eight years ago. With the arrival of the 50th Motor Rifle Division to formally secure the airfield, the task of Team FARMER had become easier, and all of the captured RIM personnel inside the base had been rounded up for transport to either Yerotsk or the mainland. Along with them were four civilian pilots that had landed their Tupolev Tu-4 full of supplies and ammunition for Benin's troops in what they thought was still a friendly airfield. Of course, the airplane's cargo had been confiscated by the Krakozhian Armed Forces for the Krakozhian Armed Forces, and the 50th Motor Rifles gobbled them up like a fat man with a cake.

 

As the 317th Fighter Wing arrived in their new home, the corpsmen were hard at work on Captain Kutuzov, patching him up as best as they could. Finally, the diagnosis came, and what the Captain had said had come true: he would survive, but he would sit out the rest of the war in the hospital.

 

Gavrina Kumilyova was standing alone in the hallway leading to the base's infirmary, looking down at the weapon that Kutuzov had given her. It bore the signs of a decade's worth of use, and the grip that had been perfectly contoured for the Captain's hands felt large and cumbersome for hers. The manufacturer's seal was still clearly defined on it, as was the serial number on the gun's slide. Handing over his pistol to her was the Captain's final act as commander of Spetsnaz Team FARMER, and now he had succeeded him as the new commander. She knew that the time would come when she would be expected to lead the team, but she didn't know that that time was now.

 

"Somehow, I knew that I would find you here."

 

Kumilyova turned around and saw Vyacheslav Klimov walking down the hallway towards her. "Nasty thing that rebel did to the Captain, right? Stabbing him in the stomach, I mean," he said.

 

"Huh," she muttered.

 

"It's a shame that he would have to sit out on this war," Klimov continued. "He could have done a lot more things." Kumilyova merely nodded her agreement.

 

The two were silent for a few minutes before Klimov finally said, "Can you do it, Gavrina?"

 

"What?"

 

"You know what I'm talking about, Gavrina. With the Captain gone, you're now the commander of our team. You are the one that makes the decisions now. The team's success or failure is now in your hands. Whatever happens to us from now on; your actions will be studied by future generations to come."

 

"You make it sound like I have the power to change the world," said Kumilyova.

 

"It could be true, you know," said Klimov. "So I will ask you again: can you do it?"

 

Kumilyova sighed and then, returning the pistol to its holster, she said, "Command wants us back to base immediately in preparation for future operations. We'll have to reorganize the team to make up for the Captain's loss. To begin with, I have been nominated by Captain Mikhail Yevgeniyevich Kutuzov as his successor, and as such, I nominate you, Junior Lieutenant Vyacheslav Il'ych Klimov, to be my deputy. That shouldn't take long for Command to review and accept."

 

"Sure thing, Gavrina," said Klimov. And then, in a louder voice, he said, "Yes, Comrade Lieutenant!"

 

Sonolovichyrevko, Rivymiyitevko

That same time

 

"Are you saying that both the Cosmodrome and the airbase have both gone off the air?" asked Ekaterina Domshomidova.

 

"It appears that way, General."

 

"And our reconnaissance elements report that Krakozhian forces are already in those locations?"

 

"Yes, General."

 

Domshomidova sighed and said, "Very well. Keep me and my staff informed." She left the communications room and went for Konstantin Benin's office, where she found him casually sipping a glass of wine "Brother, what are you doing?" she asked in surprise.

 

"Is a president not allowed to treat himself to a glass of wine?" Benin asked in reply.

 

"It could impede your judgment, Brother," Domshomidova replied carefully.

 

"What is there to impede? The Communists say that I have little or no judgment left."

 

"But you act as if our country hasn't lost its nuclear capability and a vital supply route!"

 

"That is where you are mistaken, Sister. The airbase is not as vital as I had it appear. Most of our supplies come from ships plying their trade in Rivymiyitevko. Let's see if the Krakozhians are willing to shoot those!"

 

"At least let our navy escort those vessels, Brother!"

 

"Then we give the Communists a good reason to shooting my supply ships," Benin retorted. "Trust me, Sister, with my secret stash, we can fight the Krakozhians for as long as we like."

 

Aboard the Ukrainian freighter Hryvnia

Somewhere in the Kara Sea

0635 Rivymiyitevko time (0235 Krakozhian time)

 

One of Konstantin Benin's supply ships was now in the Kara Sea, boldly sailing through the Krakozhian blockade and into Rivymiyitevko waters. It was the Alenko Shipping Company vessel Hryvnia, named after the Ukrainian currency. She was a hundred feet in length and thirty feet wide, and had a top speed of twenty knots fully loaded with 3,400 tons of cargo. For this run, she was commanded by none other than Aleksey Alenko himself, the founder of the shipping line running the Hryvnia.

 

Aleksey Valentinovich Alenko was born on October 31, 1952, and as soon as he reached the proper age, he joined the Soviet Navy. His twenty-three-year career reached its peak when he received command of a Krivak-class frigate, although it would prove to be short-lived when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. By then, Alenko had announced his retirement and returned to his hometown of Yalta, site of a famous meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin.

 

Finally, after buying a former Soviet Navy supply ship, he set up his shipping company, servicing Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea. Through the years, his fleet grew, and now his ships plied the Mediterranean along with every port in the Black Sea. And then, he received a call from Konstantin Benin asking him if he could send some of his ships to a little known island in the Arctic Circle. Alenko readily complied and selected five of the best skippers in his fleet and sent them off to Rivymiyitevko. This went on for a few months before Alenko received another call from Benin asking him to skipper a vessel himself and sail to Rivymiyitevko. Still the generous type, Alenko agreed to Benin's order, took command of the Hryvnia, and sailed her to Rivymiyitevko with as much supplies as her holds could carry.

 

Alenko had picked the best crew in his fleet to serve with him on this run, and all were experienced seamen. Some of his senior officers were like him, veterans of the Red Banner Fleet. His first officer, Nikolai Petrovich Egdyk, had served along with him on the battlecruiser Frunze, and both had an intimate knowledge of each other’s styles.

 

“The seas are very calm today, Aleksey,” said Egdyk. “At our current speed, we will reach our destination within forty-eight hours or less.”

 

“Good,” replied Alenko. “The sooner we get out of this area, the better. I’m uncomfortable with all of these Krakozhian ships in the area.”

 

“Captain, I have an unidentified contact approaching our port side,” said the radar officer.

 

“Captain, I’m receiving a call from the ship,” said the communications officer. “They’re requesting permission to come alongside us.”

 

“Give them permission,” said Alenko. A few minutes later, the ship shuddered as the unknown ship came alongside her. A wooden gangplank was placed across the gap, and a person dressed in the black uniform of a Navy officer made its way towards the Hrynia’s bridge. Only then did Alenko recognize the person. “You!” he shouted. “What are you doing here?”

 

“I am here to provide an escort for your vessel,” replied Ekaterina Domshomidova. “It’s the best I could do for a family friend.”

 

“You wanted to help me?” asked Alenko. “You could help me by moving that warship away from my vessel. You could be attracting monsters to my ship!”

 

Indeed, a monster had been following Alenko’s ship, but it was not the sea monsters of old. It was a nuclear-powered monster, specifically a Krakozhian Hotel-class submarine, captained by a very capable skipper and manned by and excellent crew. Actually, it was not the freighter that was being followed but rather the warship alongside it.

 

“Captain, Number-37 has stopped,” said the sonar supervisor. “It appears that it is alongside another vessel.”

 

The captain asked, “Anything as to the classification of the second vessel?”

 

“No, Captain, but I think it’s a single-screw freighter. Should I designate it Number-38?”

 

“Agreed, sonar. This looks interesting.”

 

“Roger. Sonar out.”

 

Captain First Rank Fyodor Timofeyevich Sheshenko replaced the telephone on its cradle and returned to his post. His boat, the K-311, was part of the second generation of Hotel-class submarines from Krakozhia, with an improved sonar suite, a larger control room, and more spaces for crew berthing. It was without a doubt the best submarine in the Krakozhian fleet, second only to the newer Akula-class submarines, but all of that technological capability was nothing without a crew to use it. And the crew of the K-311 was one of the best.


“Slow down to five knots,” Sheshenko ordered. “Let’s help our sonar guys identify those contacts.”

 

“Conn, sonar, Number-38’s trying to move away. She’s making turns for three knots.”

 

“Any luck with -37?”

 

“I think -37’s a Polnocny-class landing ship.”


“Weapons, how’s the firing solution for -37?”

 

“Firing solution updated, Captain.”

 

“Good. Prepare one for -38 just in case. If she follows that Polnocny, her next destination is the bottom of the ocean.”

 

“I suggest you remove your warship from the area,” said Alenko. “There could be Krakozhian submarines underneath the surface.”

 

“If there are any submarines in the area,” replied Domshomidova, “they would have struck us by now. No submarine captain had ever resisted the temptation of shooting a motionless ship.”

 

“And have my ship protect yours? No, it couldn’t be! Move that ship away from mine so I can proceed to my destination.”

 

“It’s your loss, Captain,” Domshomidova muttered before leaving the Hryvnia’s bridge.

 

“Captain, sonar, the Polnocny’s making a run for it, and so is the freighter! Number-37’s turning north, and -38’s headed east.”

 

Govno,” muttered Sheshenko. “Weapons, match bearings and shoot, tubes one and two for Number-37, and tubes three and four on Number-38.”

 

The submarine moved back as it launched torpedo after torpedo. Once in the sea, they began to move towards the bearings marked by the fire control officer as the last known locations of their targets. Sheshenko decided to keep the guidance wires running, just in case the two ships began to take evasive action.

 

“Units are running hot, straight, and normal,” said the sonar supervisor.

 

“Weapons will impact in fifteen seconds,” said the executive officer.

 

Sheshenko could do nothing else but wait. The torpedoes had been launched at a leisurely twenty knots, but since the ships were a few thousand yards away, it would probably take some time for the torpedoes to acquire their targets and enter their attack mode.

 

Fyodor Timofeyevich Sheshenko hated to wait.

 

Despite being the farther target, it was the Polnocny-class landing ship—Number-37 to the K-311’s crew—that was hit first by the torpedoes. The first one struck the ship underneath the superstructure, killing most of the ninety-nine officers and crew. The rest were killed when the second torpedo smashed into the hold, snapping the ship in two and sending it to a watery grave. The Hryvnia was luckier, but only by a small degree. Both torpedoes struck the starboard amidships, tearing two large holes in the freighter’s hull. The sudden rush of water caused the ship to tip towards the right, and the crew had to hang on for dear life. As water began to pour into the bridge, some of the crew members dived in order to escape the rapidly sinking vessel.

 

After making sure that there were no more people on the bridge, Alenko released his hold on the wheel and dropped into the water. Fighting to keep from shivering in the frigid water, Alenko dove underneath the superstructure and swam towards the surface, just in time for him to catch a glimpse of the freighter’s light blue and grey hull before she was finally claimed by the Kara Sea.

 

“Captain, both vessels have stopped and appear to be sinking,” the sonar supervisor reported.

 

“Good job, comrades,” said Sheshenko, and the crew nodded their agreement. Even against an ideological enemy, killing was not an activity to be applauded.

 

“Captain, this is sonar. I am picking up some transients in -38’s last known location. It could be survivors.”

 

“Raise the periscope!” Sheshenko ordered. As soon as the periscope was fully deployed, he aimed it towards the Hryvnia’s last known bearing. There, he could see what looked like four dots on the horizons waving their arms like mad.

 

“Sonar, are there any enemies in the area?”

 

“No, Comrade Captain.”

 

Sheshenko quietly waited for the periscope to retract before saying, “Comrades, it seems that we will have to make a quick detour before proceeding to our next operating area.”

 

A few minutes later, the K-311 arrived at the Hryvnia’s last position, just in time to haul onboard four shivering sailors.

 

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