Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 23
The Airport

Chapter Twenty-three: the Airport

 

Above Sonolovichyrevko Airport, Rivymiyitevko

November 7, 2008 2355 Rivymiyitevko time (2155 Krakozhian time)

 

The mission to take Sonolovichyrevko Airport was far different from the one to take Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base. This time, there were no prisoners of war to rescue or help them retake the base. They had to take the base all by themselves.

 

Due to reports of a lack of anti-aircraft defenses in the airport, Vyacheslav Klimov had managed to convince Gavrina Kumilyova to commit to an overhead drop. Although the plan was dangerous on face value, Gavrina trusted Vyacheslav’s judgment, which was why she had approved of it.

 

Now, ten thousand feet above ground, and outside the safety of the Antonov An-12 transport, Gavrina was beginning to have second thoughts. The mission had gone according to plan for the last few minutes, and common sense said that their good luck could only last for so long. Maybe that explained the presence of rows of Yakovlev Yak-1 fighter planes lined up in a peacetime formation below them, and why the whole airport was bathed in bright white floodlights. Surely, there was a reason behind those things, but right now she didn’t know what it was.

 

After a hard landing of sorts, Gavrina had two men check the barracks for any signs of life. Their report was astounding, at the very least.

 

“Nothing?” she asked. “What do you mean nothing?”

 

“I mean there’s nothing in here, Comrade Lieutenant,” replied Adan Galdirov. “Nothing alive, at least.”

 

“Everything a person needs to live is in here,” added Kostya Seranovsky. “Food, water, clothes, toiletries; this place is full of them. All that’s missing are the people who used them.”

 

“We found a few places where the anti-aircraft guns had once been, but obviously, they’re gone now,” said Galdirov. “It looks like they left behind that ZPU over there, though.” He pointed at the weapon in question.

 

“I wonder why,” said Seranovsky.

 

“Go and find out,” Gavrina ordered.

 

“I guess we went through all that hype for nothing,” said Vyacheslav as the two privates left to man their defensive positions.

 

Da,” replied Gavrina. “Send the mission success signal. I have to stretch my legs.”

As Vyacheslav was about to speak on his radio, he heard a series of loud booms coming from afar. For a few seconds, he thought it was thunder, and then suddenly, the runway exploded in a geyser of hot rocks. “What the hell?” he shouted to everyone in general and to no one in particular.

 

“Fire!” The four SU-76 self-propelled guns parked side by side on Great Patriotic War Avenue loosed off another volley, and the 2600th Platoon of the 100th Motor Rifle Division advanced slowly towards the gate that separated Sonolovichyrevko Airport from the rest of the city. Its commander, Lieutenant Dimitar Kezhanka, was leading the attack on foot; he had turned over his T-72 to another tanker named Pavlokovsky, who was more than eager to prove that the lieutenant had made the right choice. Meanwhile, he was being supported by the 5th Mobile Artillery Company of the newly resurrected Rivymiyitevko Provincial Militia, which was, for the time being, made up of Krakozhian reservists.

 

“Bring down that gate!” ordered Kezhanka. Pavlokovsky replied with a single shot from the T-72’s cannon, which broke through the gate’s locks before slamming harmlessly into a concrete wall. Crossing the street, the T-72 ran through the already broken gate and entered the airport. Suddenly, Kezhanka’s radio crackled and blared, “Krakozhian Army unit, cease fire! Cease fire!

 

“Who is this?” asked Kezhanka. “Get off this frequency!”

 

Who am I talking to?

 

“I am Lieutenant Dimitar Genrikhbari Kezhanka, commander of the 2600th Platoon of the 100th Motor Rifle Division of the Krakozhian Third Army. Who am I talking to?”

 

Well, Lieutenant Kezhanka, you’ve just opened fire on a Spetsnaz unit,” the voice continued. “Do you want to know how that would look like on your service jacket?

 

Dimitar decided that he didn’t want to. “Show yourself!” he ordered. He saw a blonde-haired figure clad in black fatigues step out of one of the hangars. “Blizzard!” Kezhanka shouted.


“Television,” the blonde replied. Kezhanka waved him over. “It appears that you weren’t notified of a Spetsnaz operation,” he told the Krav.

 

You were probably unaware of an Army operation, too.”

 

“Well, there’s no one here except us. The rebels have probably left this place days ago.”

 

“Where’s the fun in that?” asked Kezhanka.

 

“I guess the only thing left for us to do is sit around and wait for reinforcements. I’m Vyacheslav Klimov, by the way.”

 

“You know me already. Dimitar Kezhanka, da? You know, I’ve always wanted to talk to a Spetsnaz trooper.”

 

“What branch of the Army are you in?” asked Klimov.

 

“Tanks.”

 

“Ah. Not many Spetsnaz operations require tanks.”

 

“So, how is it? Being a Spetsnaz trooper, I mean.”

 

“It’s not much different from infantry life, except that the units are smaller, the battlefields are smaller, and the missions are smaller but pack more punch against the enemy.”

 

“Do you like it?”

 

"I can’t really say it yet, but—" Suddenly Klimov turned to the sky. "What?" asked Kezhanka. "What is it?"

 

And then he heard it; the distinct whirring noise of a jet engine. As he searched the sky for its source, he saw what definitely looked like a jet-powered fighter plane pass right above the runway. "Was that an F-5?" he asked.

 

"Yes," replied Klimov. "Konstantin Benin bought ten of those from the Iranians and then based them here. The Air Force shot one down during Operation Soundproof, and then four after that. We assumed that they'd be on the ground tonight, but it looks like either they took off just before we came or they already escaped to Karavatsenin."

 

"What was that that he did earlier?"

 

"A fly-by pass. It could be a reconnaissance flight; it could be nothing."

 

"I think there's more coming."

 

The two F-5 fighters coming in were clearly visible from the glow of the airport's lights. In a perfectly executed one-two formation, they opened fire on the runway using their cannons, sending the troops scattering. But what surprised them more was the sound of a ZPU cannon returning fire. When the first F-5 passed over the airport, Seranovsky and Galdirov had decided to man the ZPU "just in case," and for once, their hunches had been correct. They even brought along extra ammunition for the cannon for the unlikely situation that they would have to shoot down as many enemy aircraft as possible.

 

Two more jets moved in on the airport and fired on the runway using missiles. Seranovsky and Galdirov returned fire. One of the jets suddenly lost a wing, and then plummeted to the ground before exploding in a brilliant ball of fire. The pilot, who had managed to eject himself in time, fell among the Army soldiers taking cover from the attack.

 

"That will take some time to clean up," muttered Klimov as he stared at the burning wreckage of the F-5.

 

"Then get to it, man," said Kezhanka. "We already have our first tenants coming in."

 

"Shit. Somebody get a bulldozer! And some fire extinguishers! And some steel plates!"

 

November 8, 2008 0615 Rivymiyitevko time (0415 Krakozhian time)

 

"Ladies and gentlemen, comrades of the 50th Motor Rifle Division, welcome to Sonolovichyrevko Airport."

 

The people sitting inside the MT-LB armored personnel vehicle tried to look through the narrow slits designed as rifle ports, but could barely see anything beyond a strip of gray concrete and sky. "Don't bother, comrades," said Captain Andrei Urov. "You'll get to see more when we get out."

 

The MT-LB halted in front of the barracks, and those inside went out. "This is our new home," said Urov, pointing at the barracks. "No more garrisoned buildings; no more firebases; no more nothing. Get your troops on the ground now; we have to settle in now because—" Turning around, he saw that there was no one else with him now, except for an MP who was trying to stifle his laughter.

 

"Because I'm apparently the only one left here," he continued. Turning to the MP, he asked, "Where have my comrades gone, comrade?"

 

"Well," the MP replied between giggles, "two of your lieutenants went to look for their Spetsnaz friends, the other lieutenant wanted to check out the mess hall, while the others just ran for the barracks. I think I heard one of them say, 'I can't wait for a real bed!'"

 

"Well, that's just my luck," Urov conceded.

 

"Gavrina! Vyacheslav! It's good to see you again!" shouted Lev Arigov as soon as he and Maria Atolova saw the two.

 

"Lev! Maria! The same to you, guys," replied Vyacheslav Klimov upon recognizing the two. The men and women bear-hugged each other. "Thanks for helping us out during the Inner Circle op, Lev," said Gavrina Kumilyova when they were finished.

 

"Don't be modest, Gavrina," replied Lev, "it doesn't suit you. You know you could have done that op just as easily without us."

 

"Hey, guys, why don't you tell us about what you did during the opening stages?" asked Maria. "Truthfully, I'm tired of repeating all those battles in my head right now."

 

"Okay," said Gavrina, motioning for the others to take a seat. "Let's begin with the Cosmodrome. So, I'm scouting the fence for the enemy, right? And then, just as the Captain began to walk towards the gate, the sentry post opens up and reveals two rebels. Luckily for us, they were the Captain's contacts within the Cosmodrome…"

 

"…just as Semyon was about to answer my question, the RIM opens up on us with artillery. I mean, he was this close to telling us his future plans!" Lev held his thumb and index finger just a centimeter apart to show his point. "Now that we were under attack, we were making a run for it. And then, just as we thought we were safe, a shell hits our BTR and almost kills me and Maria! We were very close to death that time! But, apparently, it looks like our luck held."

 

"Did it really hold?" asked Vyacheslav. "Because I have a sudden urge to punch you and see if my fist will go through."

 

"Just try that, Il'ych, and you'll see my fist go through your head," Lev joked. The four of them laughed. Suddenly, a throat coughed, and all of them turned around to see Captain Urov standing over them. "I finally found you, you bloody lieutenants," he said, looking at Lev and Maria. "Just as I was saying some time ago, get yourselves settled immediately because the President is coming over to visit the front, and she's chosen our unit to greet her and follow her to the front. I don't know how long you can get yourselves squared away, but make it quick. President Adzhitekova's coming in a few hours." He then walked away without waiting for a reply.

 

"Sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now," said Gavrina. "We'll be leaving the two of you to your duties. Vyacheslav and I have to rest."

 

"Curse you, you Spetsnaz troopers," said Lev halfheartedly to their backs.

 

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