In the barracks of Guard Regiment "Felix Dierzhinski" silence prevailed during tense days of waiting.
The year 1989 was nearing it's end and the Politbüro of the Socialist Unity Party recently announced the opening of the borders to West Germany and for the soldiers of the NVA it were tense hours. Corporal Nikolai Seydlidtz was sitting uncomfortably on his bed in the cold and dark sleeping-room he shared with 4 comrades in arms. His AK-74 was easy to disensamble and clean, but in the last days he couldn't do it enough. Always on alert he spent his time making his equipment ready for combat.
News channels reported that people were flooding over to West Germany and it's prized stocks of consumer-goods.
Regular units reported that their soldiers were deserting to the west and abandoning their posts. The entire NVA crumbled and nothing could stop the West and the Yankees to just annex half of the Warzaw Pact in one go.
The GDR was effectively a dead state and both the Soviet and SED governments appeared to be collaborating with the NATO.
A few hours before the opening of the border, Wachregiment Dierzhinski was mysteriously activated and all units mobilized.
The rookies were left in their quarters with no clue what was going on.
Niko and his fellow trainees were currently theorizing about the state of alert.
"I said it from the beginning, Gorbatchev is screwing us over.", one of the 17 years old boys remarked while he lit a cheap byelorussian cigarette.
"Gorbatchev? I think Honecker screwed it up with his 'anti-fascist barrier'. We shouldn't have buildt that waste of rescources. Let the collaborators go over the border if they want to live in an americanized knock-off of Germany.", one of the more conservative recruits said. Erich was his name. The others sat in a circle at the floor and smoked their hidden reserves of cigarettes.
Recruits in the Guard-Regiment of the Ministry for State-Security were recruited at the age of 16 and and only the most loyal were allowed in. Because they weren't legally allowed to be treated as Reservists yet, the initiates were going through two years of theoretical and physical training, before they were subjected to the more brutal special-training.
Niko and his fellow teens were just back from a joint maneuver-excercise with some polish sappers and very fatigued.
"The entire cooperation with the west was the problem. Let's face it, we did what we mocked Tito for. But we all share the fault. We should have rebelled too, like the chineese did.", one claimed and held up a small red book. "We didn't adapt in time."
The group was a fascinating little mix of ideas. Erich came from a deeply conservative Junker-Family. All were in the army, police, MfS or border-troops. No one is as fanatic as a convert and sticking true to that he was a convinced social-stratocracist. Marco, an immigrant from China, was a maoist. Kevin was a hoxhaist, but kept his rather negative feeling about the Soviet Union for himself. He was a quite guy, even more than Nico, but a really good shot with an SPG-9 Recoiless Rifle. Erwin was very different from the rest. When in a polite political discussion, a unique part of the Wachregiment's internal culture, he was standing for a large part behind the ideas of Kim-Il Sung, exept the more pacifist approach on nukes. However, he wasn't really politically involved beyond serving in a deliberately political counter-insurgency unit. He was in the army because he was just looking for a fight and intended to join LStR-40 as soon as he finished his service for the MfS.
"Any opinions, Nico? You are quite today.", Kevin asked.
While he rubbed the chamber of his gun clean, he answered: "Fuck it. Gorbatchev may have betrayed us, but we are still independant and there might be a war breaking out in the next hours. We need to be ready.", he dismissed the question.
Nico pushed the chambering-mechanism back and forth a few times and it worked good. Not that it would matter. An AK, even a copy, always shoots. It was just his nervousness about the situation. He didn't care what would happen, but he wanted it to happen soon, because the uncertainty was too much for him.
Marco grabbed his puke-bowl, aka the NVA-Helmet, and removed a pack of pot.
He lit a joint, inhaled a bit and gave it around.
The training for the Elite-Units had one advantage over that of the common grunts: No 'dumb-fuck'. Drill-Seargents weren't wasting any time on useless chicane and were simply being harsh in their training-methods, but they didn't make the free-time of their rookies hell.
Smoking pot was not looked favorably upon, but better than deserting. Plus, the harsh discipline in the Regiment was only demanded in the extended training and on duty. All things considered the most serious way of dealing with compulsory military service was joining the Guard Regiment "F. Dierzhinski" It was trading chicane for hard training.
The officer of the base had a liberal attitude on 'his boy's' behavior in their free-time, as if it was none of his buisness and acted accordingly desinterested. Nico's opinion on that matter was, that getting stoned was a good way to relax in the weekend. Some of the conservative old prussians in the army demanded strict discipline and it also was important to Nico to keep some of the old values, but ocassionally he wished that more officers had a progressive mindset on social matters.
When a very happy Marco was about to hand him the joint, Nico heard the sound of every officers favourite hobby:
The door got smashed open and a Lieutenant shouting "ABC-ALARM! MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!", before moving on to the parade ground in the atrium of the building-complex.
Immediately all boys jumped towards their lockers and moved to remove to get to their eqiupment.
In a standard locker a recruit can store either 38 bottles or two 5-Liter barrels of beer in their private copartiment, so their personal supplies weren't in the way of the military equipment.
'Did the engineers choose the size on purpose?', Nico briefly wondered.
Marco inhaled as much of his grass as he could, before putting on his gasmask and trowing away the used joint.
Soon all 5 were in their full ABC-Suits. They were already used to putting them on when needed, because even the most friendly and paternal officer's hobby seemed to be inherent to their nature: Fake ABC-Alarms.
Dressed in the mobile sauna, the troop was running to the staging-ground along with 20 other rookies.
It was friday evening and the atrium was poorly illuminated. Just enough to see the officer standing there with a jerky smile.
Nico and his roommates were the last ones to arrive.
All men were dressed in full Hazmat-Suits, formed a perfect line and sweating like in a sauna. The cold air outside the suits did make the procedure somewhat tolerable, but surely not pleasent.
"Excellent time, Comrades.", the officer noisily announced, while inspecting the condition of the eqipment. For civilians it may seem odd, that an officer shouted a compliment, but in the military... When you voice wasn't loader than an artillery-shell, you could as well say nothing. Who screams the loudest probably has the highest authority.
When the Lieutenant was pleased with everything, he said: "Now that we are all gathered, I have some good news. The STASI just contacted us. They want some volunteers to secure a high-value strategic object in MB-5. The spruce-shitters are busy jerking off on their posts and our bosses want some relieable soldiers for guard-duty. Congratulations, you are all volunteers now. Squad-Leaders, prepare your Troops for deployment in full combat-gear. Mount the SPW's. We will recieve further instructions as soon as we arrive."
The recruits didn't protest. They were, despite their antics, professionals at heart. Handpicked loyalist, who would stand until the last man for the greater cause. Determination was a quality of it's own and combining that with hard training made the Wachregiment one of the most dangerous units in the entire Eastern Block.
Squad leaders ensembled their men and got to the armory. Erich led his squad without saying a word or the assistance of his theoretical Second in Command. Everyone knew what to do and where to regroup.
Nico admired his conservative friend. Sometimes he seemed too uptight or fanatic to be good company, but nonetheless the younger recruit admired his squad-leader, comrade and friend. Erich was in his element when leading his subordinates on a maneuver. Always the first to stand up for the charge, never flinching when artillery shells explode around him and always making the right decisions. A born officer and a symbol of what Nico strived to achieve himself.
In the grunt's slang they were called 'Brenner'. Flamers. Soldiers who did not only take their job seriously. They loved it.
And even the most couragous of officers, like him, needed ice-cold adjutands, like Nico, who covered their rear and orchestrated what the leader couldn't waste time on.
The stone-floors of the building were as cold as the walls, made of massive concrete-plates. Socialist architecture wasn't pretty, but it provided every citizen his deserved home.
Back in the room everyone eagerly got rid of their Hazmat-Suits and got their field-uniforms.
The different uniforms of the Wachregiment were a bit more... classy than those of the NVA Grunts.
Parade uniforms for parades (obviously), parade uniforms without medals for official guard duty, greatcoats or oldschool uniform jackets with combat gear for actual war. A bit like the SS, even though that comparison far from fair. Never the less, no one could deny the influence of the Wehrmacht in socialist Germany's uniforms.
While he slipped into it, he felt the comfortably heavy feeling of wearing a uniform jacket.
After he helped Marco bind his tie, Nikolai inspected the condition of his outfit in the mirror.
It may have been a bit childish or improper for a recruit in an elite-unit of the Ministery for Security, but it felt like the ultimate empowerment wearing this uniform with all the symbolic authority behind it. Even if the West had won this round in the struggle, he would remember his duty for the people and not regret it. He did work himself up from a simple boy in a common workers family to part of the sword wielded by the proletariate. That was something to be proud of.
"Hey, Nico. You can admire yourself later, now get moving", Erwin joked and tugged his comrade along.
He quickly grabbed his AK again and started running behind Erich.
As they arrived in the garage of the barracks, they were greeted with a rush of air. Leutnant Michael had just opened the gates and the smell of Diesel motors gave way to the chilly air of the winternight.
The new SPW-80 APC's were starting their roaring engines and the squads boarded their cramped transports. Two units per transport.
Nico shuddered as the door slammed shut and the only thing illuminating the claustrophobic tight troop bay were small red emergency lights.
The recruits were talking about all manners of things. Vacation, girlfriends, movies... But mainly girls and the coming weekend.
As fanatical loyalists all of them were shaken and feeling betrayed by their leaders, but most moved on to some kind of normality. Contrary to what the conscripts may think of boys who were dedicated enough to join the armed wing of the Secret Police, they were still human.
Nico was silent, because it was his way of dealing with the normal stress of his job. He wasn't in the mood to talk.
Being the cargo of an APC wasn't as romantic or reassuring as a civilian may think. You either loved the feeling of sitting in you own personal driving bunker, or you were feeling like being stuck inside an untested rollercoaster without windows.
With plenty of time to use in until the objective was reached the young volunteer though about the mission. Why using recruits of an Elite-Unit, during the most tense situation since Able Archer, to guard a military object?
They were trained for urban warfare, counter-insurgency and Spec Ops behind the own lines. Nico and his comrades should be ready to be called to the border, not hanging out in the literal middle of nowhere.
What was going on?
Maybe, the day had come, for hard contact.
General Thomas Meyer stood at the window of his office and looked at the fireworks illuminating the sky and casting colourful light onto the masses of people leaving the country.
Extremely stressed and tired he rubbed his temples.
He always knew it would come. The inevitable end of the revisionist policies of people like Honecker, Deng Xiaoping and Michael Gorbatchov.
They fucked up so thoroughly, that they managed to drive the people right back into the arms of the West.
The General crumbled the newly recieved dossier in his hand and tossed it into a random corner of the room. It was Erich Mielke's last order, to simply burn all documents. About everything.
It was a reasonable tactic. Socialism was on the retreat. Germany was overrun and the retreating Warzaw Pact left behind buerocratic torched earth. No valuable information shall fall into the hands of the enemy, even if the land did.
That contingency was implemented by Meyer's precedessor Markus Wolf, before he died in a car accident. The man was a hero, a genius and Thomas learned most of his business from him. However, that scenario was to be applied to extend a military tactical retreat into a buerocratic one.
The concrete situation, Meyer accessed, was an ideological putsch from inside the parties. It had been a slow process of subversion, but eventually the West had defeated socialism by building a new capitalist class from within the parties. Like cryofracturing in nature.
While Tom sipped a bit of biting hot coffee, he admired what magnificent work the West had done.
Everyone would believe them when they say communism self-destructed and people would believe them because it was right on the surface.
But deep down, it was the slow process of restoring capitalism, that brought the shortages, the hunger and the poverty.
A masterful piece of work, but the General didn't blame it on the enemy alone. He wouldn't be the commander of the MfS Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (Central Administration for Recon), if he hadn't been a marxist-leninist and could apply some self criticism.
There was also a systemic error. Somewhere along the way, something went wrong. Personally he had borrowed some ideas from Mao and Hoxsha to fix it. However, he couldn't quite figure out a good solution himself.
General Thomas Meyer was a soldier, not a theorist.
He turned away from the outburst of emotions on the streets, towards his desk. There was another order coming from the new pro-NATO government that would be officially 'elected' soon, but was de facto in command.
It ordered the preservation of all documents archived by the STASI for review by an investigative commitee.
20 Minutes ago a collaborating MfS Agent, an FRG Senator and 5 men with thick Texan accents showed up to collect said documents.
Time was running low and it was time to act. The General had prepared for this day for years. Putting the right men in the right positions. Redirecting some supplies. Doing some lobbying.
Everything fell into place, like he had predicted.
As he began packing all his valueable documents into his briefcase, he remembered how it all began and why it was so important for him to succeed.
Operation Seydlitz, named after the founder of the League of German Officers in WW2 and father of the National Peoples Army.
Inside the Warzaw Pact there was the opinion that Czechoslovakia was the weapons-forge, Poland the Naval power and the GDR the military spearhead. Russia could combine all of these roles, but wasn't quite as good as the European Alliance.
However, that had already changed secretly 24 years ago.
1965 a group of FDJ pathfinder found an old bunker in the Harz mountains.
An MfS investigation found out, that it was build by the Nazis and was a secret research-facility. Interestingly, it wasn't found by the Soviets because the SS didn't know about it. It had been a secret of Wilhelm Canaris and his Abwehr.
No SS, no Gestapo, no Coorporations involved. Typical for Facists. Always putting on a facade of total stability but heavily fighting on the inside. One of the reasons Stalin had been victorious. His military staff didn't want to kill him.
But even though that piece of history was interesting to learn, the true marvel below the facility made the petty bickerings of humanity look unimportant.
Aliens. A small building full of technological marvels, buried in the rock. Or rather: Deliberately build into the rock.
It took a long time to crack open the Databases, but it was glorious.
Unending amounts of scientific informations. He could still recall when he he was a young Guard and had to carry all these computers through narrow corridors, because there was no way all these info's would fit on even 100 harddrives.
The MfS found the key to secure socialist Germany's place in the world and the global revolution forever. But there was a twist. Science couldn't grasp large parts of the knowledge, due to it's sheer complexity.
It took years to build first functional pieces of reverse engineered equipment.
Now that the fruits from years of work were ripe for harvest, everything collapsed.
Despite being traitors to their cause, the revisionist were mostly patriots and not ready to sell this kind of State-Secret out to the West or the Soviets. This left Thomas with some space to act. He couldn't stand by while the NATO seized what could either be the ultimate tool of Imperialism, or the absolute game-changer for any revolutionary initiative.
His coming actions weren't about saving the cause. Ideas don't die. It was about containing damage.
Being a consistent Internationalist, General Meyer had the moral obligation to think beyond petty patriotism. He couldn't let a military prototype like Project Seydlitz fall into the hands of the GDR's lawful successor. It would just end up in American hands. Thomas face was already red with contained rage, when thinking of the smug grin the american military would have on it's face when presenting 'their' new marvel of 'capitalist superiority'. No, it wouldn't happen on his watch.
He was glad that everything had been prepared in time and he didn't have to improvise.
After stuffing the last important documents into his briefcase and shutting it hard, the rather young General left his office for the last time.
His suit blending perfectly with the warm brown walls of the floor, the protegé was already waiting for his boss.
"We detained all of the 'hostile/negative subjects' in the basement-cells. One of the armed individuals resisted and was caused lethal harm. The body is being prepared to be neutralized with maximum finality per acid.", he reported dryly, like a secretary. However, being a good spy Meyer noticed the dark humor in his subordinate's articulation.
"Confirmed. Proceed with the procedure and then see to it, that the building is burned. Start the fire next to my office and make sure all documents are effected. We use the old false flag procedure for destroying a safehouse. Fake inactivity. The prisoners are to be brought to our Blacksite in Pommerania. Kill the spies and memory-wipe the politician's last 3 years. Let an agent place a notice in his medical record that there is a risk for amnesia. The CIA will know what we did, but they will think we were just buying time to destroy evidence. Also, make my car ready and get me another coffee."
Agent Ernst Bauer didn't need to note anything, but just nodded and started executing the given orders in godspeed.
Thomas Meyer liked his adjutant. Very relieable, quite and loyal. Like a perfect butler. He could be a bit too impersonal, but otherwise a well balanced personality. Exactly the kind of person one would like to do administrative work behind the scenes. His name in the HVA was Ernst Bauer, but it was obvious his real name was classfied. After all, he was an active Agent and effectively Meyers left and right hand, wich meant that he was so deep inside the operational structure of the MfS, that he couldn't shit without cleaning up trails. Literally. His real name was so secret, that only Meyer and Mielke himself knew.
It would appear strange, that the security standards for an armed secretary were higher, than for the head of foreign intelligence and the chief of the german Cheka himself. However, officially these were accountable to their government and therefore their names appeared on official documents. However, like the desceased Wolf, General Meyer was careful that no photo of him existed and he didn't appear on any public events.
It was a very good tactic, not to have a face at all. The enemy wouldn't know his. They wouldn't know his personality. Maybe the CIA did knew some of his deeds, but to anyone overseas looking into his profile, Thomas Meyer would be a hollow name. No face, no personality. A ghost.
When Meyer left the building with another mug of coffee in hand, he knew it would be a long night. The organisatory aspect of the coming hours would fall into the lap of his competent assistant, but he would oversee the most critical aspect. The Nanosuit prototype was the central attention of the operation. Without it, all the lives at stale would be risked for a mere act of deperate defiance, but the assumed capabilities of this piece of hardware would be worth it. And Thomas couldn't just wait to get told the results. He had to be there.
Air Assault Regiment 40 was evacuating a lot of computers and technical equipment with stolen soviet cargo-planes and hoarding all kinds of light equipment on an airstrip at Pommerania, to be transported. One company of Mot. Schützen and the local Border Guards had joined the cause to go into exile too. Multiple old friends in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Russia also participated. All soldiers who would come along were doing it on a voluntary basis. Essentially Meyer would be leading an exodus of a ragtag corps of soldiers through half of the world into the promised land, probably with an army on their heel.
At that thought, he wished he wouldn't have to part the Black Sea.
The destination would be Afghanistan. It was the only logical choice. Mongolia had no ties to the Pact. China was revisionist. Russia was revisionist. Albania was too and the old idealist Enver Hoxha was dead. A shame. He was a racist and naive idealist, but a damn friendly one. North Korea was a good choice too, but Kim Il-Sung was preparing for a crisis. He wasn't stupid. Meyer had recieved a call from the old man's son, Jong-Il, asking if the situation was the way he already guessed. The whole country was working overtimes to negotiate trade-deals with Cuba and Afghanistan to replace the trade with Ukraine and China, that would be cut off or restricted soon. They were a rich industrial nation, living from exporting their products to the GDR and the Union. First, they wouldn't need the help, Meyer could offer. Second, the DPRK would have to feed it's own population, not foreign refugees.
Afghanistan was the logical choice. The rural country was a stable nation in it's development to an industrial one. Also, it contained a secret that was carefully kept inside a small... one could say conspiracy, between the MfS, the Afghani-Government and North Korea. Another tomb. Alien technology. Researching that and preserving the secrets therein, would secure the victory of socialism as soon as capitalism destroyed itself. Or even earlier.
Inside his car he gave his driver a sign to bring him away.
As the car vanished into the young night, a fire burned inside a dark office-building before the background of colourful fireworks streaking through the air.
Rumbling, the SPW, or BTR as the slavic nations called it, came to a halt.
"Last station.", the driver announced and knocked a few times against the metal wall seperating crew and passengers. All soldiers grabbed their gear and carried their backpacks in hand. They had taken them off during the ride, to conserve space. The inside of the APC was already cramped and everyone had been grateful for a bit more breathing space.
Outside, of the metal casket was a sight that sent a shiver down his spine.
It was an airstrip that was engulfed in a flurry of activity. Crates everywhere. Cargo-trucks were bringing more and more supplies. It was clearly the staging area for a large-scale military operation, involving a massive airborne assault.
However, the real reason why the nature of the operation dawned to Nico, were the soldiers he saw. VDV, LStR-40 and the Wachregiment.
Two Elite units in one place were an anomaly, but three meant something big was going on.
Nico could also make out three officers, who were sure as hell not supposed to be in Germany: One Spadochroniarze, a Vysadkari and one afghani-officer, whose uniform the recruit could not like to a specific unit or branch.
East Germany had some loose connections with both Afghanistan and Vietnam, in the way that FJB-40 and some 'volunteers on paid leave' had fought for them in their revolutionary wars.
In Afghanistan it was more direct, because there were officially boots on the ground during the Taliban-Insurrection. Troops from all over the Pact had fought there, but the NVA experienced their first trial by fire. It had been a stunning success and the combination of German Infantry, Polish Special Forces, Czech Support Forces and Russian Tanks was devestating whenever the rebels did show themselves openly. The ugly guerilla-war was won by the support of the population for the dream of finally ending the mad genocidal cycle of hate between Shia and Sunnis in the region. It was also convenient, that the boogyman that was the Iran made the people value the safety the Eastern Block promised. The connection to Vietnam only consisted of Spec Ops and some economic help.
The presence of so many anomalies genuinely worried Nico about the nature of their task. It was like Moscow was starting a war and planning a massive airborne assault.
All squads had disembarked their SPW-80's and formed 2x4 blocks behind the vehicles. Lieutenant Michael stood in front of the 5 Blocks and talked to a man in a brown civilian suit. He saluted the civi and turned to his soldiers.
"Units one to four, take positions at the front gate and follow the orders of the russian VDV-Officer. Corporal Erich Mackensen, your squad is plugging a hole on the western flank 1 Kilometer from here, at a side-gate. You will work with one squad of Grenzer. Execute!", he bellowed and the squads ran to their positions, without any questions asked or doubts voiced. In the obvious and visible face of very real danger, all the mindset drilled into the recruits since the beginning kicked in. All informality was dropped, every ounce of fear mercilessly crushed. True strenght came from within and depite their lacking experience, their aging gear or the hopeless situation, they turned into unrelenting fighting-machines at one order. This made them dangerous. Not their weapons or even training. It was the resolve to get things done.
While the chaos of transport-crates was slowly being tamed and loaded onto russian cargo planes, Nico's squad disappeared into a dark forest nearby.
On a lonesome road on the land, Private Jimmy Sanchez cursed the bad
luck his Regiment had. They had the order to move into Berlin, because
for some reason, someone in a higher office decided to reinforce the
garrison. For reasons way beyond his understanding, his US-Army Infantry
Regiment was allowed to do the trip by road. However, both karma and
wasteful american motors being a bitch, some douche had miscalculated
the amount of fuel needed for the trip and the entire convoy was stuck
in the middle of nowhere. Also known as Pommerania.
Finding fuel now, was the priority because it would be embarrasing if the entire unit would need to be refueled by the commies, because of a buerocratic accident. The problems with finding fuel were plenty. First of all, the lack of suburbs. All the cities were centralized and planned through, just like in the FRG. It was a very German thing to concentrate infrastructure in urban centers/large villages and leave the nature around it untouched by urbanisation. Or maybe it was just very american to spread out the infrastructure widely around cities. It was probably a matter of perspective.
There was no fuel station in sight and the soldiers now had the awkward task of buying sufficient amounts from local farmers.
Jim was following a road into a forest. He carried no weapons exept a pistol, because the Colonel had ordered to be non-aggressive. The logic behind it was, that the locals shouldn't see the american troops as a gang of looters, trying to steal their fuel, but as soon-to-be liberators. It was dangerous to be unarmed in Red Territory, sure. But going in with an M16 locked and loaded would make him an obvious target for an overly zealous Border-Guard. A subtle sidearms had to suffice.
The forest was dark and intimidating, but the natural cold air was refreshing. Despite being from the dry lands at the mexican border, Jim did appreciate the colder climate. Especially after sitting inside an M113 with a squad of unbathed rednecks for hours. After boot-camp, he had gotten used to smells that a civilian couldn't imagine to comprehend, yet his comrades did somehow one-up it.
Land air smelled of cowshit, but in comparison it seemed like someone bombed a Chanél factory.
When Jim spotted a light at the end of the road. Appearantly he had the questionable luck of finding someone. He was the only one in the unit who understood some German, but didn't speak it. Truth to be told: He didn't exactly give a damn about the convoy and his neanderthal 'colleagues' being stuck. A few years earlier, Jim would have decried this as treasonous, cowardly, unamerican, a neglection of duty, and so on... But then, he was a naive liberal, joining to serve the people. Around 9 months of military later and he was a bitter center-rightist with some basic rationality left. He didn't really care about the job anymore, but was happy to see his money at the end of the month. That was the undeniably awesome thing about the military. You weren't spending any money at all, while the number on your bank account grew equal to your payment. He didn't left the army for the sole reason, that it was so satisfactory to see his money pile up.
When he came near the source, Jim noticed that it was a small checkpoint.
A soldier in a grey parade uniform was standing at guard, alone with a Kalaschnikov casually held at hip-level, while drinking some water from his cantine. He saw some short trimmed black hair below a peaked cap.
What struck Jim that he was young. Too young to be an officer. 18 at most, if he looked really young. There was a shadow of a shaven beard and he was easily 1.90 m tall, but he looked like deep in puberty. Not a supermodel, but a rather normal looking guy.
Alarming, but he was kind of expecting commies to recruiting teenagers. He enlisted underage himself, but with that boy it was so obvious, there was no way the draftman couldn't know.
Being gay, Jim found him kind of attractive, but not in his preferred age class.
"Hey.", he said.
The guard put down the cantine, took proper stance with weapon drawn, but pointed down.
"Identifizieren, sie sich. Das hier ist militärisches Sperrgebiet. Halten sie ihre Papiere bereit!", the guard did go on with the standard procedure for civilian intruders.
Jim held up his hands in a casual surrendering pose, while approaching.
"Wow, easy buddy. I'm american. Our coloumn had an accident and we only have permission to move through to Berlin for a few hours. Is there any fuel station somewhere nearby?", he asked.
The german activated a flashlight and inspected the visitor. He took the Beretta M9 out of the holster, while aiming his AK at the percieved threat. Jim didn't take it personally. It was the boys job and he did it good.
He especially noted, that before securing it in his belt, he took out the magazine and tried to eject the possible bullet in the barrel. The american wouldn't have thought of that detail, he noted. Surely he was not dealing with some border guard. A bit unnerving, considering how young that commie was. He was starting to think that this was probably typical for the eastern regimes, but the memory that his father was 16 when he arrived at Vietnam stopped that line of thought dead in tracks.
"No, we have no fuel stations here. This is Pommerania. 50% Cowshit, 50% Grenzers. I will contact my superiors on that matter.", the German said and turned to the bushes.
"Kevin. Renn zurück zur Kommandostelle. Melde Genosse Leutnant die Situation. Amerikanischer Garnisonskonvoy mit Durchmarschrecht ist in der Nähe gestrandet und brauchen Sprit. Ausführen!", he shouted into the poorly illuminated bushes.
Another, slightly older teen with light brown hair sprung up from the bushes at attention and saluted. He wore the same dress uniform, like the other.
Jim was seriously alarmed that there were hidden guards around him. This wasn't usual for the NVA, right? But smart it was. There was something that they seriously wanted to guard and one man couldn't blockade a road, so they hid some other riflemen in the bushes to make sure they would be able to response to a threat. It definitely broke the possibility of the guard being some ceremonial shit.
"We will do what we can. Please wait here, until the Kdo answers.", the guard answered, sounding like some civilian costumer support secretary.
"Thanks. Whats your name, by the way?"
The guard, moving to the little shed next to his little ceremonial guard post, stopped and hesitated a bit with the answer.
"Corporal Nikolai Seydlitz." He paused and arkwardly added: "MfS Guard Regiment 'Felix Dzerzhinski'."
Jim had no idea what the hell that meant or who Felix Dzerzhinski was, but it seemed kind of important to him, so he tried to remember that detail. Having a very sharp memory was always a good tool for making career. He was always commended by his superiors, that he would make an excellent officer, despite somewhat lacking charisma. But the military wasn't really what he wanted to do with his life. The pay of an officer would be really good, but being a civilian was more safe and just more comfortable.
Corporal Seydlitz opened the shack and took out a lawnchair.
"Could be a while until we get an answer. Burocracy.", he explained dryly.
Silent, Jim set it up besides the post and accepted the situation like it was. He couldn't report back to the convoy with an unclear answer if they even get the fuel, while he was waiting for a concrete answer from the enemy.
Politics, he decided, were damn annoying.
Making himself comfortable in his seat, he fished a pack of cigarettes out of his tight breast pocket. He found his lighter in his trousers and ignited one of his cigarettes.
"Want one too?", he asked.
The german, sitting in his post, shook his head. "No thanks. I don't smoke."
Jim was a bit tempted to slip a short laugh.
"Yeah. I said the same thing when I enlisted. Service changes you."
He had opposed cigarettes a long time, but some day he gave in to group preassure and slowly developed an acceptence, then endorsement. All in all, the army had beaten a lot of idealism out of him.
"I just don't do drugs on duty, in any shape.", Nikolai commented. He looked at the ceiling of his post, frowning and grabbed something.
"Unlike that douche who had the last shift. No discipline these days...", he joked, while holding up a half empty bottle of clear fluid, presumably alcoholic in nature.
He opened it. Sniffed a bit and stated. "Vodka... Potato... probably Romanian." After a playful sip he grimaced and confirmed. "Yup. Only they make such horrible Vodka."
Both couldn't restrain themselves and broke out in hearty laughter.
Catching for breath he said. "No, seriously. I like drinking, but I keep the liquor out of the workplace. Beer and Vodka is awesome, but I am soldier first. We chekists have a reputation to uphold, even if it means seeming like dry prudes to the common reservists."
'Chekists? What?' Jim didn't voice the question, but he got the point about esprit de corps and the pride of the unit. The Airborne had the same kind of attitude towards the groundborne army.
The german stored the 3/4 liter bottle in one of the pouches on his hip. Both sat there in silence, waiting for the messenger to return.
What suddenly piqued their interest was a light ascending at the base area.
Appearently a huge transport plane, flying to the south.
"Sounds like you prefer to party hard after the job.", Jim observed.
"Yeah. Sometimes we have those traditional meetings with russian units. Some ceremonial stuff over the course of the day, the officers shake hands and we stand at attention. And in the evening: Boom! Vodka, hookers and music. Found our eternal rookie Kevin, that guy out of the bushes, in an old SPW60 making it out with one of the Morskaya Pehota guys. These Russians know how to party. I almost pity the shovel-skivers who had to clean up that field when we were finished."
Jim almost didn't notice it because the german said it so casually, but did he just say his Comrade was gay and not discriminated? Instantly, despite ideological differences, his opinion of the National Peoples Army just skyrocketed.
"Just like our resident Rednecks. We just came fresh out of boot camp and barracks. The party when we got the order to prepare for deployment in Germany was awesome. Lots of Alcohol, cocaine and guns. We stole an LAV Mortar Carrier and just drove to the next drive-in at Burger King. That face of the waitress when we ordered meals for a whole platoon was priceless. And later the Seargent shot a deer and put the antler on his Humvee."
The guard whistled in admiration.
"I bet some Motorized Schützen would love to do that too. Your army probably has a version of that saying: Never tread on a green stone, there could be a Panzergrenadier under it. They have spiritual connection to cowshit and mud, you know..."
"We say that about the Marines. But especially the scout snipers."
"Oh, and what is a Drive-In?"
That question seemed a bit odd, until Jim catched that they didn't have the same culture and cousine as the US. Even though the latter term, he cynically noted, was to be taken with a ton of salt when talking about Fast Food. Once he had been sceptical about it due to his upbringing by hippie-parents, but after being exposed to US-Army MRE's, he didn't thought it was ugly anymore. Because he tasted the definition of the word.
"I guess you've never eaten fast-food. It's basically what the common worker Joe eats after work. A quick warm meal to take home or eat on the way. If you want it quick, you drive your car to an exterior counter and order something there. Quality is mostly shit though. Not everyone can afford a proper restaurant or cook well.", he explained.
"Interesting concept, but everyone I know can cook. We all learn it in school and the FDJ, so the SED never filled that... I guess you would call it a 'nieche-market'. It's redundant anyways. Here everyone can afford a restaurant or at least a good bistro. Or just cook themselves."
Jim doubted that a bit, considering that there was an ideological undertone in the statement, but the big guy didn't seem like a good liar.
"Maybe, now that the wall has fallen, I can show you. There are plenty McDonalds and Burger Kings in West Berlin.", he offered.
"Thanks. I don't know if I'm that welcome in West Berlin considering the whole STASI thing, but I guess it won't be that hard to get some holidays. Can't return the favour though. If I would try to bring smuggle a yankee into an MfS favoured bar, we'd be both shot as spies. Nothing personal. You can find me in the telephone register."
In the next 10
minutes, air travel from the supposedly minor airstrip intensified.
Mi-24 Helicopters flew away from the field non-stop, while more Mi-8's
coming from the south lifted IFV's and delivered them to the unseen
Jim wasn't all that bright and didn't fully realize the implications, but he started realizing that his presence had opened a can of worms. Something was going on and his presence was probably very inconvenient.
None the less, both just continued talking casually about all manners of things, but both had the unspoken consenus of leaving out the politics. They were just two soldiers socialising as professionals at their jobs, not ideological foes.
Cultural stuff was interesting. For both. Nico was warmly surprised, that the americans weren't that bad people. And being a former liberal, now apolitical, Jim was fascinated how bipolar East Germany seemed in it's liberal and conservative aspects. The best summary was probably, heavily armed uber-liberals with Reich uniforms.
That was when both heard a sound.
Like a snapping twig. Multiple snapping twigs. Nicolai turned to the forest, AK in firing stance and tried to spot whoever was running through the woods.
The german listened more closely and Jim saw how his counterpart's facial expression changed into a knowing look of bitter realisation.
These were shots fired in the distance. It was obvious who was involved.
Both reached for their weapons at the same time.
Jim for the knife in his boot and the german just raised his AK, lining up the ironsides perfectly for a headshot.
As he was able to get a clear thought, he noticed that with only a dagger in hand, the GI was seriously outgunned.
Despite all the training to prepare him, Jim was terrified. He didn't know what was going on, or what the outcome might be. None of the training could prepare him for the emotional rush of seeing an assault rifle being aimed at his head. What awakened an instinctive fear, was the face of his opponent. It didn't show an emotion. No sadism, sadness, joy, fear or hesitation. A mind, solely dedicated to fulfilling it's deadly task. It seemed so inhuman, so sterile, that Jimmy Sanchez suddenly felt so much more mortal.
Nikolai, who he had just socialized with moments before, had this switch, the drill instructors once told the soldiers about. Turning off conscience, doubt and humanity at a whim. This was what they wanted and failed to achieve in most US-Army recruits. The trainers of the other side seemed to have suceeded. Seconds ago, they chatted. Two young men with a bottle of Vodka, talking about teen stuff. Now, the entity that seemed to posess Nikolai was ready to shoot.
Jim thought any sound, any movement could break this fragile status-quo that his life depended on. But he had to act. Desperately cling onto life, before the guard would make a decision.
"Man, please calm down. I don't know what's going on. We... We can talk this out.", the last sentece was like a wimper.
This brought back a human expression onto the German's face.
At that moment a truck sped along the dirt-road from the base. It had the insignias of the NVA inside a green circle on the front. Jim didn'r have the necessary information to know, it meant the truck was from the border-guards ('Grenzer' in german).
The courier jumped off the truck and shouted ran to the soldiers locked in a horribly one-sided standoff.
"Nico, command says that a truck carrying a high value piece of hardware got attacked by american forces. We have order to fortify the position. What do we do with him?", Kevin asked, with a tone of regret.
"Listen, Sanchez. If you put down the knife, we take you prisoner and all of us get out of this alive. Just put down that weapon.", Nico tried to reason carefully.
He held out a hand expecting him to hand the last means of defence over.
Jim didn't listen. He was on adrenaline overdrive and the inability to make even one hasty move was wreaking his nerves. Good will or not, there was no guarantee for him that he wouldn't end up in the hands of the KGB. Hell, the boy admitted he was in their ceremonial guard unit. He tried to think of some way to survive.
Grenzers were jumping of the truck and already setting up the defensive perimeter with sandbags.
That was when a bullet whizzed by and hit the metal door of the truck.
A regretful quiet "Sorry.", was all he heard while he saw the flash in the muzzle break of the impersonal, faceless barrel of an AK-74.
After the bullet impacted the head of the fleeing american, Nico tried to see the enemy's muzzle flashes in the darkness, but failed. The muzzle-breaks didn't seem that fancy, but there were more effective than civilians would think.
In the night, all that gave away the position of the enemy were the flashes, interrupting the darkness.
First Nico ran behind the sandbags, that the Grenzer reinforcements had hastily tried to pile up, before hell broke loose. The enemy struck with three shot salvos from a position presumably somewhere in the bushes near the road. Judging from the intensity of the sound of firing M16s, they were in a distance, where they couldn't possibly hope to hit precisely. It was just covering fire for their comrade, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Their plan didn't work.
Taking a look besides his cover, Erich saw the american lying there. In the darkness it was hard to tell, but the bullet had struck a small clean hole in the back of his head and ripped a giant piece of his face off, when the squashed piece of metal exited the skull. It wasn't a particulary gruesome sight, considering the darkness, but the outline of the mess alone made Nico shiver.
"Hey, Fichtelscheißer. How many mags do we have in that truck?", shouted Erich over the semi-fortified gunline of the defenders.
"30 for the 47 and 74 each. Also, fuck you too.", the leader of the six Grenzer reinforcements returned. A few more bullets impacted all over the position, hitting nothing.
"Good. All, blindfire on the right side into the bushes. One magazine. On my mark."
All positioned themselves to peak out of cover. Nico crawled besides his pile of sandbags, aligning his weapon and resting it on a lone bag.
"Now!", barked Erich and all of the soldiers opened fire in a deafening volley.
Lightning streaked through the night, ripping the vegetation apart. Nico's AK was stable enough that he used it like a machinegun.
The recoil had little kick, but even through the gloves he could feel the wooden grip heating up.
When the fire ceased, the defenders heard a scream in the distance.
"FUUUUUUUCK! YOU COMMIE FAGGOTS! I WILL RIP YOUR HEADS OF AND SHIT DOW-..."
Appearantly one of the wounded soldier's comrade had the brain to silence him, but the position was already triangulated by Marco into a 20x10 metres block of the firing cone. He had a talent, for that kind of math. Having a good feeling for the shape and distances of the battlefield wasn't really Erich's talent, but Marco had this expertise. It was part of what made their squad function.
"Chief, they are 80 to 100 metres away. Inside the 10 metres firing-cone. I know the location.", he reported, while reloading his weapon. "Shall we flank?"
Erich peaked over his cover and a single bullet flew over his head, before impacting the truck.
"Yes. Nico, you take Erwin and Marco. Eliminate them, but stay right of our line of fire. Me and Kevin return some shots with the Grenzers, but no all out covering fire. Surprise them. Marco, can you navigate safely?"
A Grenzer fired another salvo with his old AK47, interrupting the conversation.
Nico didn't need to give any specific orders. While Erich coordinated the distraction fire for his plan, Erwin and Marco had already positioned themselves behind him. They covered left and right, while Nico led.
10 Meters into the forest, he ordered: "Marco, take the front. Erwin, right side."
Everything was going well. Following the combat procedure of covering every side was slowing them down, but Nico wasn't ready to throw caution over board. Pointing a weapon on every possible angle that the enemy can attack from is an annoying, but crucial part of the life in the Infantry. A manuever can be oh, so tactically brilliant, precise and heroic, but one enemy Grenadier in the flank of the flankers could stop this supposedly foolproof tactic dead in tracks. Especially in this situation. This was Jim's friends searching for him. Who knew if there was another squad wandering through the forest?
Luckily, there was no hard contact. Erwin nearly shot a fleeing rabbit, but this one time he had been able to keep his temper in cooled down. All the drill paid off now.
When Marco signalled, that the enemy was ahead and the squad heard the strange sound of an M16 shooting, Nico took lead again. The american weapon had a strange ring to it, he noted. It probably had to do with the design being heavily reliant on plastics. It made for a fundamentally different sound than a gun made of wood. It was like with guitars. Different material, different sound.
Whispering, he commanded: "Advance crouched, 7 metres gap. Stop and take cover, when you have your targets. Open fire, when I do."
Both soldiers nodded and Nico held up three fingers, counting down.
Simultaniously, the team started moving as quiet as possible. Going crouched wasn't the perfect solution, but in a night-fighting situation it was far too dangerous to just crawl and risk the enemy hearing the approach.
A bit further and Nico spotted an american reloading behind a bush, twenty metres ahead. He looked around for confirmation. Nico noticed that Erwin and Marco were aiming at different angles, locked onto targets only visible from their angle. Without much delay, Nico aimed for the head and gently squeezed the trigger.
It was a sufficiently accurate shot. The bullet pierced the unprotected neck and cracked the spine. Instant death. Two more cracks rang through the forest and one scream could be heard from the american side. A well executed surprise attack. When one shot returned into the general direction of the attackers, they relied on a proven and effective method of modern warfare: Excessive firepower. The three-man-squad burned through their current magazines in long salvos. A stream of fire ripped the leafs and twigs in it's wake apart, while Nico was thankful for the controlable recoil of the AK74.
When the fire died down, the last loud sound was a casing hitting the gound with a cling.
Then a rustle could be heard and a few twigs snapped. One enemy ran, ocassionally turning around to fire three shot salvos. Neither side could see the other, but Nico knew that the guy was simply fleeing in panic.
The squad carefully moved up, to the cleared out enemy position. One wounded american saw them approach and reached for his M9 sidearm in a last attempt at heroism. He fired one round, going far off target. So far off, olne couldn't tell who he was aiming at. Kevin fired two carefully placed single shots: One in the chest, one in the face. Nico flinched at the second one, when the remains of the ruined eye and brain started leaking over the face, while the uniform slowly soaked up the blood from one hole in the chest and one in the hip. Gave the young soldier a heavy feeling in his stomach, but he professionally repressed any thoughts for the moment. He just tried to stay focused on the situation.
"Marco. Grab their weapons and ammo. We might need them. Search for documents and orders. Erwin, cover right side."
Nico observed the scene for a moment. Four dead, one fleeing. The enemy had been well hidden behind a few bushes. After finishing a short tactical analysis of the engagement, Nico immediately got back to overwatching towards the street, while Marco worked.
After two minutes, he briefly said "Finished.", then the group started running back to the checkpoint on the street. The Grenzers were smart enough not to shoot on sight, because no hostile would actually try to charge them like that. Sliding back behind a confortable wall of sandbag, Nico reported: "Enemy took four casualties, one fleeing."
Marco added, "Captured four M16, four M9, eight 20-R STANAG magazines, eight M9 magazines, one Playboy magazine and three chocolate bars. No intel found."
While adding another sandbag to his little makeshift defence line, Erich tried to come up with a plan.
A younger Grenzer interrupted. "Ok. But first, let's sort out who is in charge."
He looked at the oldest Grenzer, who chuckled. Looking like he was somewhere around thirty years old, he was probably the authority figure.
"I am Seargent. Grenzer KdO. LSK. You guys look like recruits, or are you already reservists?"
Nico uncomfortably fumbled around with his canteen and Kevin showed a sudden surge in dedication to observe the forest. This part was one of the really uncomfortable aspects of the Wachregiment. Explaining people, that you aren't from the army, but from the secret police. Many people didn't care that the STASI was tremendously powerful, but those who had objections voiced them rather loudly. Spending an evening in proper dress uniform was one of the things that potential recruits would look forward to, but mostly refrain from if they didn't want to provoke a confrontation. Most of the time, Nico's squad just removed the unit name and MfS pins from the uniforms if they wanted to spend an evening in the city. Sometimes, they pourposefully left them on to provoke punks into starting hilariously one-sided brawls, but generally being part of the STASI had this certain stigma.
"Jain. We are MfS Guard Regiment recruits, independent command structure, partially linked into MdI and KVP. No idea what that means in practice."
The seargent paled and held up a hand in mock-defence.
"In practice, I guess you are in command. Actually, forget we even asked. Of course you are in command. Lead the way, Sir."
Erich nodded, trying to refrain from cringing at the obvious sarcasm.
"Ok. Set up the maschinegun in a sandbag nest here. We need to prevent the enemy from penetrating out defence right here. The fence will hinder a flanking or encirclement, but we will need teams of two teams of four, forming a gun-line ten metres from the nest to hold both flanks. Seargent, you take three men and cover the left side. Kevin, you stay with him", Erich pointed at the Border Guard with the Maschinegun, "and guard him. I will spread the rest of my squad over the right side. By the way, what is in that truck?"
The seargent grew a maniacal grin.
"Glad you asked. We have borrowed some from the evac operation."
That moment, for everyone in the squad something clicked in their heads. This was a large scale evacuation of equipment. Was Gorbatchov conceding Germany to the NATO? But one thing did not make sense. Why was Gemran personel getting concentrated and evacuated to the south? On that note, why to Hungary or Czechoslovakia? It smelled fishy, all the sudden. Was the presence of this convoy really a coincident or was it planned? Were the Yankee soldiers unknowing pawns or acting on clear orders?
"Wait, evacuation?" With that question, Nico pointed out the elephant in the room. "We have no idea what is going on. Please, would you kindly enlighten us, what the fuck is going on?"
The Seargent looked taken aback.
"Wait, wait. Please, you guys tell US! We are Grenzers, goddamnit. You are STASI. This is your little conspiracy. What we know is that the planes are going for Syria and the truckers have talked about Yugoslavia. Please, enlighten us, why the hell the entire fucking Warzaw Pact seems to be fleeing into the Middle East from OUR AIRFIELD!"
The squad of Chekists looked at each other in comfusion and Erich reasoned, "Look, Sir. We are just soon-to-be goons for the ministry. Our job is to kick down counter-revolutionaries' doors, not ask questions. If we could prepare for the Yank attack now, we might survive the attack to ask our illusive superiors together, OK?"
The seargent and his squad seemed pleased with that answer. All of the soldiers followed him to the back of the truck. And in there, they found Kevin's secondary wet dream.
"Shall I introduce, Comrades, the Granatomet AGS-17. Build with superior czechnology, it will let any imperialist infantry push shed bitter tears, as it starts raining 40mm Grenades. Also, we have to offer that Napalm shooting bastard son of the RPG7."
Truly, the AGI 3x20 thermobaric rocket launcher was an abomination of a weapon. It looked like someone used duct tape to combine three RPG7's into a hilarious tool for sappers. However, while it did look like the Hobo's M202, it was quite effective. He still remembered that recent exercise with the poles. A quite attractive female sapper had introduced him to their tool of trade. The insane RPO 'Rys'. A fucking huge thermobaric weapon they bought from the Soviets. Cleared a huge bunker of any air with one rocket. The stone had been literally molten from the heat. That rocket was a carryable napalm-bomb. It could spray napalm over an area of 40x40 metres. Also, it's cousin, the RPO-A 'Hummel' was the more explosive variant, but still thermobaric. Also, an awesome weapon. Like some kind of micro nuke. If one compared these devilish instruments to the AGI, the German weapon was to be used to deal with threats more quickly. Instead of reloading a huge blast, the guner could obliterate a broader area. The three less deadly napalm rockets granted the AGI a bit more practical flexibility. Also, it was piss-cheap.
"Correction, Kevin you take the AGI, Erwin stays with the MG. I guess you want the AGS, Seargent?"
The Grenzers unloaded the weapons and their leader commented: "This, Gentlemen, is going to be fun."
The East Germans needed 3 Minutes to fortify their position and drove the truck out of the combat zone. Then, the american push quickly began. First wave in the massive infantry-based attack were scouts. These knew their job well. It was difficult, but they did spot the position of their foes, without getting seen themselves. For a few minutes, they observed and failed to spot anything that could put up a considerable resistance. For the american side, the situation looked like there was the Maschinegun nest as the primary defensive center. They recognized the makeshift ambush on the flank, but failed to see the heavy weapons. Erich and his squad were oblivious to how near the danger was, but were on guard.
The squad leaders of the attacking force were reaching the scouts and getting briefed on the situation. They relayed the information to their superiors and it was decided, to avoid the road. An attack was to be launched at the flanks, where the ambushed waited. To take care of those, two SAW's should be used on both sides each, to supress the ambush in the opening seconds. However, the dirty work still had to be done with a good old frontal assault. While the units had their underslung grenades, there was a consensus to save them for later. This was the first line of defence and if they wanted to take this facility, they should spare them, for the moment they hit the main defence.
The plan was prepared and intitiated silently. Then, he was initiated.
Both flanks were suddenly riddled with MG fire. An inferno of bullets was unleashed and everyone desperately ducked for cover. One Grenzer on their flank, died instantly when a bullet hit him in the head. Only minimally better off was Marco, who got hit in the hip by a high calibre bullet. Regardless of his training, he started screaming. The pain was far too much for him. In the end, he was still a teenager.
However, despite the extreme pressure, the soldiers of the Wachregiment handled the situation better than the Grenzers. The Seargent immediately opened fire with the Grenade launcher and unleashed a hailstorm of grenades upon the americans. It was certainly effective. The vegetation was ripped apart by explosions and splinters cut through the air. Both MG's were instantly taken out. However, it took away any surprise factor that could have been useful later. The american soldiers in the first spearhead were initially completely overwhelmed and panicked by the firepower the perimeter-guards fielded. Actually, they didn't expect that East German troops would field automatic grenade launchers too. All of them knew and loved their Mk.19 Grenade Launcher. Knowing full well what these things could do, they routed in complete panic.
The bigger second wave however, understood the danger and adapted. They would avoid that flank and deploy a designated marksman to deal with the thread. In panic, the Grenzers had used their hidden Joker too early.
In the middle, there wasn't an actual fight going on. Ocassionally, an american would cross the street and the MG-Gunner would take snapshots at them. Basic tactics thought them to stay away from that obviously hazardous route.
The Wachregiment side, didn't respond to the imminent threat of the MG's at first. They kept their heads down and fired blind into the forest. Erich and Nico both fell for an attitude, German officers were infamous for. They did not intend to hold the line as effient as possible, they wanted to inflict casualties. The plan was to delay the enemy and bind his forces long enough, by resisting barely enough to prevent a breakthrough, let the enemy bunch up in large groups and then raise hell. Literally.
The plan worked out. The americans guessed that side to be the weak link in the defense and threw most of their forces at it, while the sniper on the other side kept the Grenzers pinned. Other than the mandatory flanking, no real tactical thought did go into this first engagement. It was supposed to be the first little barricade that could simply be overrun. It was two minutes into the fight, that the american forces were piling. They'd start an all-out assault any minute at that point. Also, the first M113 was only two minutes away, ready to intevene at arrival.
While the second wave arrived and the number of enemies shooting at the chekists position amounted to an insane number of 30 Riflemen, Kevin intervened. Being the most capable with heavy weapons, he took the AGI and got to work with unprecise, yet effective shots.
They all witnessed, just how insanely effective and cruel napalm weaponry was. The three rockets splashed their payload over such a broad area, it was insane. It wasn't actually that large in area, but from ther perspective of the boys, it seemed lile they set the entire forest on fire. The real scale was only a soccer field, but it was still huge.
For the americans, the strike was crippling. Half of the soldiers in the affected field were immediately on fire, thus doomed to a painful death. Another fourth caught fire, trying to escape desperately. Nearly all of the surviving enemies who tried to cross the street, were cut down by a stream of MG fire.
However, the East Germans knew that their luck was over. The last american soldiers remaining were outraged by the use of napalm. In an act of both bravery and stupidity, the third wave charged the Grenzers and their AGS. And ir worked. While fifteen men died in the ensuing hailstorm of grenades, it was far quicker than the alternative of a wasteful siege.
The Grenzers had no chance at all, when the americans closed in. They simply ran and only the Seargent was physically fit enough, to outrun the charging soldiers. Both the defenders in the center and the WR-Squad at the burning flank realized it was time to run, considering tree M113's rumbled down the street and opened fire with their M2 Brownings. The Erwin's partner got hit in the back, as they ran and he did not look back as he heard him scream. Fear was all that occupied his mind that moment.
Because they weren't able to reload their launcher of the run, the retreating Germans had no AT capability left. Not that the AGI would do anything against these APC's. As the survivors retreated, they knew that the APC's would catch up to them. Especially, considering they were dragging Marco through an open field with them.
The Seargent realized their inevitable death and made a decision. His unit was dead and these teenagers would soon be too. A sense of responsibility as the only adult in the group overrode all the fear in his mind. He ripped the rocket launcher out of Kevin's hands and the backpack too.
"It was an honor boys, NOW RUN!"
All of them complied.
Alone, the Seargent mentally berated himself not to flinch, because dozens of bullets were whizzing by him. He forced himself not to screw up, while he reloaded the launcher as calmly as possible. Even when he took a bullet in the knee, he still managed to lie down and take aim at the rapidly approaching APC. Not wasting any time, he pulled the trigger three times in rapid sucession.
While none of the rockets was able to pierce the armor of the vehicle, the combined heat was simply so overwhelming, that the remaining fuel, ammo and crew immediately catched fire inside. The vehicle did not explode, but burned in a hellish inferno.
The Seargent paid the inevitable price for his last stand, when a bullet hit him in the chest. His mind was completely at ease in the last seconds. He stopped caring. With last thoughts going to his children, he slipped away to sleep peacefully, despite the chaos going on around him.
The last stand had bought Nico's squad time. But it also, opened up a chance for another desperate man. All the distraction had opened up a route for a truck, that was now speeding through the american lines with hight speed. He had to deliver his cargo at any cost. The driver was nearly dead. He was loosing blood rapidly. The other STASI Agent to his left was already dead, his Scorpion MP still in his lap.
Hundreds of shots were bouncing off harmlessly thanks to the layer of nano-armor, integrated into the truck. However, a 20mm round had gone through earlier, along with some lucky .50 cals. As a real soldier of the Wachregiment, he was determined/zealous enough to deliver this cargo.
He had to avoid crashing into a burning APC or the routing defenders of the base, but he managed to escape before he finally passed out and his vehicle crashed into a tree. The Nanosuit had to be brought to safety.
In a total haze of hyperventilation, Nico and the squad arrived at the recently crashed mystery vehicle.
They didn't care how it ended up here, but it seemed like good cover. Appearently the two remaining APC's couldn't spot the survivors in the dark and stopped dead in tracks, waiting for reinforcements to catch up. Lying down besides the truck in exhaustion, Nico looked back at the battlefield. It was beautiful in it's own strange way. The entire forest seemed to be burning at this point. The angry orange glow back there shone in the back of the two boxes of green armor, while american infantry tried to regroup in the open field. They were just as exhausted. All of them panicked from escaping the hellish fire so narrowly and demoralized from the loss of comrades. There were plenty of wounded who were hit by splinters of wood. The secret of artillery is, that when they shell a forest they don't know if they hit, but the explosions will let wooden splinters fill the air. An AGS did the same.
Besides Nico, Marco buried his head on his knees in fetal position and Erwin puked out of sheer stress. Kevin, however was just as calm as Nico. He made an inventory check. Nico fell back on the habit of reloading his gun and inspecting it. Erich muttered some quick christian prayer, before he took command again.
"We won't get out of here.", he stated and observed the americans trying to reorganize. "Those APC's will cut us down in open terrain. Either we hide in that truck, or we try to fight and die."
While all of them finished inspecting their equipment, Nico asked: "What is in the truck?"
No one answered, but Erich raised an eyebrow. It soon clicked, what his protegé meant. "The HVT... That is bad news." He let out a sad sigh and wiped one hand over his face. "Scheisse." Nico himself already caught the implication what that meant. Fleeing was no longer an option.
An outsider may have noted, that they never even considered acting against their orders. They wanted to survive, as was natural. Especially considering their age! But it made the fact they maintained this fanatical loyalty even in the face of assured death all the more impressive/scary. Despite not having started the physical parts of their training, they had the mindset that made an otherwise usual urban counter-insurgency unit into a dangerous military force. Another angle was, that they were oblivious to the fact they were couragous. To them it was the natural order of things, to complete the mission.
"Ok, get in that truck and look what is in there.", Erich ordered. "But be subtle."
Nico silently volunteered to do that by stepping out of cover and sneaking over to broken and slightly unhinged backdoors of the truck.
He reached them, opened them, climbed into the dark interior and activated his flashlight inside the truck.
Then he saw it. A silvery shape.
"What the fuck.", he commented to himself. The HVT wasn't a VIP, but a piece of equipment. Some kind of suit, appearently made of silvery metal. It was inside round but slim glass tube. The thing looked menacing with it's blood red visor and muscular appearence. And obviously that thing was highly advanced. Nico had never seen anything like that. Now he understood, why the Airfield KdO picked a fight over this. It was too important to loose under any circumstances.
Redirecting his attention back to the present, Nico checked the drivers cabin. He opened the small door to it and stuck his head through. Everything was full of blood. An Autocannon round from an IFV must have penetrated that impossibly durable armor of the truck and hit the STASI Agent on the passenger seat. The driver, a real soldier of the Wachregiment was nearly dead. Penetrating hits by kinetic rounds have the nasty habit of shredding the insides of a vehicle with splinters of the breached wall.
Nico checked the pulse, not bothering to apply any first aid. The man was soon to be dead anyways, but he did manage to wake up and turn his bloodied head towards the recruit.
"Extration?", he coughed in a tired tone.
"No, perimeter security. Where is the first aid kit?", Nico asked.
"Don't need it kid, I am dead anyways.", the older soldier replied, eying him in an analysing manner.
"I know. Do you want euthanisation? Otherwise, one of our wounded may need the morphine." Nico was a bit disgusted with himself, over what he was talking about that moment, but he remained focused. He needed to be blunt, time was possibly sparse. Harsh, but efficient.
"I have a sidearm, thanks. Medikit is in the freight room, right side besides the tube. Bring the suit to safety, thats an order. Strategic Priority level 1. Oh, and you have to be naked, when you put it on, to avoid long term health problems. This armor is of vital strategic importance for Warzaw KdO, failure is not an option, you understand?"
The boy saluted his older comrade, then started to plunder the medikit for supplies while he heard the creaking sound of a silencer being attached to the muzzle of a czech handgun. "I think you'll make a good soldier, recruit.", was the last thing the man said, before a loud, yet strange sound echoed through the transport. Silenced pistol shots were rarely silent, if the weapon didn't use subsonic ammo. The shot was as loud as normally, but strangely twisted in it's tone. Also, the bullet impacting the metal walls with a 'pling' was uncomfortable. It was entirely possible, that the enemy might have heard that one. Depending if one enemy happened to listen closely enough.
The sick feeling in Nico's stomach intensified, when a little stream of blood leaked over the ground towards him, from the not visible corpse. It wasn't easy to experience people dying around you, but he managed. It felt strange to him, being ripped out of a fairly stable and predictable life, being instantly thrown into a battlefield. However, Nico didn't really mind it at all. He actually found it thrilling in a weird way. Marco and Erwin seemed to have initial struggles to deal with the high stress, but were still disciplined about their problems. Erich, appeared to be overwhelmed by reality too, depite him usually being the most hot-blooded, but he also kept his fear at bay sufficiently. Only Kevin's reaction couldn't really be read by the others. He showed no emotion at all, but he functioned like a well oiled maschine.
Packing up the last morphine, Nico turned his attention to the tube. There was an obvious button for opening the thing and very conveniently, the printed manual lay inside with the armor. He pulled the red lever and with a slight hiss, the tube opened. Without delay, the armor was grabbed and Nico jumped out of the elevated rear exit of the crashed transport.
The enemy wasn't aware of their presence yet, but it seemed trouble was approaching. Nico could hear the rumbling and screeching of tank-tracks in the distance.
In the grand scheme of things, things were working out horrible for the American forces and their commander just realised that attacking that particular airfield was equivalent to attacking a Navy Seal training facility with a company of Rednecks.
The Commander knew, that a shootout had started the mess. A miraculously heavy armored truck of the Germans had accidently rammed into a stranded M113 and some trigger happy moron did open fire. He could have pulled back and accepted the consequence of it becoming a diplomatically precarious incident. Unfortunately, the Commander wasn't all that smart. Also, he didn't know the big picture. The situation in that evening was supposed to be a move to relax the tense standoff at the German border. The decision for conceding Germany was already reached in the Politbüro of the CPSU and Honecker obliged without questions asked. After a few hasty calls, a temporary consensus with NATO had been reached, when the confirmation came in that the Grenzers on the checkpoints in Berlin had opened the border. The West was allowed to deploy more troops to Berlin and talks about future relations would soon start with Sweden acting as a mediator. However, in the narrow right-wing perpective of this particular officer, it was Ronald Reagan pushing up his forces to prepare for the occupation/ liberation of the GDR.
Now, that multiple Batallions of VDV, LSTR-40, Spadochroniarze, Vysadkari, Speznas and Mot. Schützen were shredding any troops in their path, he realized that what he did was a huge mistake. To be fair, his troops weren't bad. The more specialized sub-units were very competent at their job, but that didn't change the fact that a ridiculous number of Elite troops was coming down on his barely trained motorised infantry. His average grunts didn't have a chance, at the other routes that he probed with some troops. It was simply a stroke of very bad luck and a little desinformation mixed in.
The only way to attack the enemy and possibly gain a pyrric victory out of that mess, was the one flank where the least resistance was. A soldier had reported, that a German had shot one of the men who had searched for fuel and when they returned fire, most of his squad was killed by multiple flanking hostiles.
At that side, the attack had actually succeeded, if costly. They reported the bodies they found were East German Border Guards. Theoretically easy prey, but they blew up/torched nearly the entire forest with them. A few had appearently fled, but that was unimportant. That flank was the key to victory and through that, survival.
The convoy was out of fuel. They were stuck, involved in combat and deep behind enemy lines. For them the only chances were to either capture fuel or surrender unconditionally. And the only near source was the NVA installation. It was a gamble, but the choices were: Certain death, surrender or guaranted death. If they could capture anything in that base, they could retreat. It was going to be difficult, but not impossible. Most of the Elite-Troops were searching on the wrong front and the base was not optimally defended. If they had been fast and decisive, the americans could have had a chance to pull that stunt off. However, despite the tactical failure of Nico's squad, their action proved to be the strategic doom of the american troops.
The casualties were tragic and disproportional, but that wasn't the real problem for the US Army. They had taken the momentum out of the attack. Fresh reinforcements of Wachregiment 'Felix Dierzhinski' were mobilised and moving to intercept the last push of the americans.
All troops were commited to this standoff, including the last american APC's that still had fuel.
Nico cringed as he saw the metal boxes rolling out of the forest and onto the open field. They intended to put their Browning M2s to good use. The APC's were very utilitarian. Built to carry the infantry into battle, protect them from small arms fire for a while, drop them off and then try to get as far away as possible, so they won't be hit by AT weapons or tanks. However, if used right, those vehicles could be a game changer in the usually slow pace of infantry combat. Maschineguns were the dominating force in infantry combat and mounted on an armored vehicle of any sort, they are a serious threat to infantry that didn't have AT-Weapons. The downside was, if one RPG-7 was available, the APC's would be torn open like cans of sardines. Bringing such battle-taxis into combat was mostly an act of desperation.
"Erich, they bring their APC's. Pintle mounted M2 Brownings."
The squad leader risked a look over their cover and confirmed it.
"Fuck. We can't stand against that for more than a few minutes. What did you find?"
Nico, didn't answer, but lifted the silvery metal-fabric into the dim white illumination of the moonlight.
"Scheisse, that is what all this fuss is about.", Erich noted with a tone of grim realisation. The squad now had the questionable honor of guarding the main strategic asset of the battle, while being in a most precarious situation. One, that could explode with the slightest change of the undeclared staus quo that existed between the two disorganised sides.
"There had been a surviving Wachbat-Grunt. Severely wounded. Commited suicide, but ordered to evacuate the suit as our highest priority."
Erich nodded it off, sunk in thought.
"Marco, organisational analysis.", he inquired, trying to formulate a plan.
The Asian looked over the cover and took in the scenery at the position of the pinned american troops. He got his head back into the ditch.
"A huge clusterfuck. Many wounded requiring specialised treatment. The squads are trying to regroup and count casualties. The APC are static, covering the area."
Erich and Nico nodded approvingly, then eyed the suit.
"We will retreat while we can. This suit has to get out. At least we can carry it with us. Erwin, leave the M16's here, we will make a dash for..."
"No.", interjected Kevin unprofessionally and rudely. It was inappropriate to interrupt a conversation of superiors that way, but for the sake short term combat efficiency all of them let it slide. It was surprising though, coming from Kevin. He was the shyest. Usually it was Erwin who got the rudest and most hot-blooded.
"They might have night vision and see us. These SPW's will hunt us down. We have to hold the line here, while one evacutates the HVT.", he reasoned. And it was a painfully sound reasoning.
Erich muttered some unhearable curse, then nodded. "Nico, you get the suit out. Put it on, then run. No gear, one Makarov. Don't stop for anything."
Nico wanted to object. Of course he wanted. It didn't feel right to be the one running away, leaving his comrades to be claimed by certain death. But this was the harsh reality of the army. Heroism was overridden by orders and the others in the squad weren't feeling insulted or jealous. Nico didn't object to it either, for the sake of saving time. It was the natural order of things in the army, that one will have to do the bad jobs and that some soldiers will die in horribly undignified ways. The Wachbatallion wasn't a ceremonial unit. They were a considerable force of political shock troops. They may have been indoctrinated with an (arguably true or false) mindset of being heroic defenders of their nation, but the drill seargents didn't make the same mistake as the Waffen-SS and formed the trainees into glory hungry gung-ho hotshots. They had been shown combat footage, after action reports, Veterans testimony and generally authentic material showing them how war works out in reality. Especially, how discipline and organisation beats courage any day. Staying behind to cover the escape wasn't some move to provoke a heroic last stand. It was a dry decision based on tactical thought and no one in the squad was especially keen on dying.
The only exeption being possibly Erich. He would probably love to die in combat just to restore a sense of lost family honor, after one of his family members fought on the Eastern Front in WW2 and appearently commited some kind of warcrime. He was a little nuts in his own way, but most of the time Nico kept him in check if it was necessary.
He then started undressing, beginning with the olive green coat. His Comrades shot quite amused and confused looks at him.
"In the manual, it says the wearer must be naked. Don't know why."
The entire team tried their best to muffle the following laughter.
At least they looked away, while he undressed. Not out of politeness, though. They were just restoring perimeter security. In the army soldiers get used to each others bodies. It sounds gay, but they didn't consider nudity as sexual as westerners would. Especially in a socialist society where a normalised and liberal perspective on sexuality were part of the education. Nico felt weird, undressing in the middle of a battlefield, just after torching an entire forest. However, embarresment was very low on the list of emotion he was feeling. The simple mix of stress and fear did override everything anyways.
Naked, he tried to put on the suit. The thing was weird. It was easy to get into the suit, because just after he noticed the lack of any kind of buttons or zipper, the thing sealed itself. It seemed like the thing just melted together automatically. The feeling was strange and it raised a lot of uncomfortable questions about this piece of technology. How would he get it off again? What was it capable of? And how would the STASI react to him playing with their precious toy?
Nico grabbed the metal parts and locked them into place in their respective ports. At last he picked up the mask/helmet and stared into the crimson red glasses for a moment. These hexagon-patterns were so detailed. What was this? Not wasting more time, he put that mask over his head and waited. It sealed and he immediately panicked.
Air! It had cut him off the air! He desperately tried to get the mask off his face, but then he realized he was still breathing. Confusion ensued. Apperently the thing also acted like a kind of gasmask.
While he studied his new field of view, through the red tinted vision something weird happened. His entire field of view lit up with glowing data. It reminded him of TV, but this was different. Like those 'personal computer' things STASI analysts were so exited about. But why the hell was that in his googles? Also, the red tint was gone, replaced by an unnaturally clear sight.
Then, a message appeared his his vision.
'Integriere neuen Piloten...'
An ear shattering scream slipped out of Nico's mouth and immediately drew the attention of his comrade and one american medic who happened to be listening closely enough.
Nico was in complete shock, as ice cold needles seemed to be drilling into his skin everywhere. The suit appeared to be a deathtrap. That couldn't be how it was supposed to work, right? Or maybe it was? It could be a defence mechanism eliminating unauthorized personal. Being in immediate danger of death by bullets sucked, but being certain of his own death was a far worse feeling. It was just undignified, screaming like a little girl while feeling like being skinned by scalpels of ice. He was supposed to be a grumpy Senior-NCO in the making, not some whiny punk, but not amount of clining onto a trained sense of masculinity could wipe out the instinctual reaction that he just wanted to hug his mom like he was still a little farmer boy that accidently broke his leg, crashing into a rock, while driving downhills with his bicycle.
But the much needed emotional support didn't come from the soft fat arms of his mother, but Erich crushing him in a bear hug, pressing his head intp his breast in a desperate attempt to silence him.
It was remarkable, with what speed Nico catched himself again and returned the crushing hug to let out the pain, but managed to keep silent through the whole ordeal.
However, as sudden as it started, the process moved on to the next phase. Everything turned numb. Nico fell to the ground like a sack of flour, causing Erwin to desperately try to check for a pulse through the metallic fabric of the suit. But Nico was neither dead nor unconcious. He was staring at the flurry of glowing texts rushing over his vision, while fighting to reclaim control of his body from the icy cold that appearently had taken a hold of it.
The next pieces of text appeared.
"Integration abgeschlossen. Initialisiere Anzugsfunktionen."
And that was when it finally clicked in Nico's head. The suit interacted with his body. That wasn't some kind of Hazmat suit. It was a real new piece of combat-equipment. He recognized the tactical information on the screen too. First, his vision was more bright and detailed, than it should be at night. Second, it showed every little piece of equipment in his field of view with a little icon and the squad was marked with red stars. That was damned helpful.
Slowly, Nico could feel his body again and it felt strange. The stinging pain was replaced by a chilly, yet pleasent feeling. Like a soft winterbreeze on the skin.
The condition his body was in would be hard to describe to someone who didn't experience it. Simply put, the usual fatigue that goes alomg with being Infantry was gone. Mentally Nico was still freaked out and showering in stress, but his body was fresh as if he had more than 6 hours sleep and a nice farmers-breakfast, like back when he had still gone to school. He wordlessly got back up and sat with the back against the truck.
"I'm good, guys."
Erich didn't drop the expression of worry. He cared a lot for his subordinates. He may have been a glory hungry careerist, but a caring one.
"The suit did something. It felt like it melted into my skin, he explained."
Nico experimented with his limbs a bit. The standard stuff that is usually done, after a concussion. Something was off, in that nothing was off. It felt too flawless. Then he noticed the three buttons on his right glove.
'Tarn', 'Panz.' and 'Geschw.'. German short forms for Cloak, Armor and Speed.
He pressed the cloak-button and vanished into thin air. This was going to be fucking awesome, he though. When he decloaked, he thought realitic again. Of course he had to convince Erich to use that suit. If Nico would just do a lone wolf in that suit, he'd be executed for a myriad of reasons, the second he was out of that thing.
Marco commented the event with a fitting: "What the hell just happened?"
"Nico, tactical analysis NOW!", ordered Erich.
It took him a moment, but as a fairly competent soon-to-be Non-Com, Nico formed a short analysis.
"This suit is a prototype piece of infantry combat gear. It has Night Vision, heat-detection, bulletproof material, a cloaking mechanism and it increases the wearers speed and provides analytical assistance, according to the information on from the internal personal computer. And it has a radio."
He took most of the info from the system status panels he had in his field of view. Surprisingly, they were quite unobstructive. They didn't hinder his view on the battlefield and the confused faces of his comrades.
"Radio the HQ, NOW! Tell them we need backup.", ordered Erich.
Nico somehow managed to open the appropriate channel by simply thinking of it. That was very creepy, but he was still scared shitless by the battle and the possibility that a full World War was starting that same moment, so he didn't mind the suit appearently reading his thoughts.
"Wachregiment 'Dierzhinski' Installation KdO, here is Corporal Nicolai Seydlitz, 6th Squad, 2nd Training Bataillon. Please come in, over."
"Hey Nico, nice to hear you're still alive. It's me, Jonas. How it's going down there?", came the both infuriating and surprising answer. Nico made a mental note to have that informal, laid back bastard scrub toilets with his toothbrush over the next months, for pulling off that informal bullshit in the middle of combat. The guy always had a problem with formality, but this was serious now.
"We are pinned down, locked in combat with the entire american force, have one wounded, five casualties, not much ammo and a strategic Alpha Priority Asset recovered from a dead STASI goon squad, so we would be fucking grateful if you could get us some fucking reinforcements and new orders or STAVKA will have us shoveling snow in Siberia for the rest of our lives. Clear?"
Nico was a bit more forceful in his wording than neccesary or usual, but the dimwit got the point. Don't. Fuck. With. STAVKA. Just don't.
How did that guy get into the Wachregiment anyways? Political loyalty over physical standards in the recruitment had initial drawbacks, but even that guy was probably more loyal than most NVA trainees in that age. Good thing was, the bad apples were always washed out before the remaining recruits become part of the unit.
On the other end of the line a chair was hastily abandoned and running on wooden floor could be heard. A minute later, Jonas came back with a very frightened sounding response.
"We are sending the complete unit. The training bataillon, I mean. We are going to extract you. But most important, you have to hold position and try not to raise any atten..."
One of the APC's exploded in a bigger than expected fireball, when a 85mm HEAT round tore it apart and lit up the fuel tank.
And speaking of stealthy...
"Jonas, whose fucking T34 is that and why is it painted bright bloody blue?", Nico tried to ask as calmly as possible, but the pure venom of an overstressed NCO was drooling from every word.
"Just... Just standby for extraction.", he stuttered. "Eta, 10 Minutes."
Nico turned to Erich who, along with the rest, was also very confused at the sudden arrival of the mystery tank that was easy to see through the night because it was painted bright blue, firing from all barrels and roaring loud music from it's loudspeakers. It was just surreal.
"Who the fuck is that on our right flank?", voiced Erich the omnipresent question. This combat was getting weirder with the minute.
"Ob's stürmt oder schneit, ob die Sonne uns lacht.
Der Tag glühend heiß, oder eiskalt die Nacht.
Bestaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn, Ja unser Sinn!
Es braust unser Panzer, im Sturmwind dahin.", it blared out of the loadspeakers. It was an old Wehrmacht song, the Panzerlied.
Thanks to the forest fire providing illumination, Nico could see the Tank Commander leaning out of his hatch and blasting away at the american soldiers with his DshK .51 cal Maschinegun, while cheerfully singing to the tune of the old Wehrmacht song.
The americans were so confused by the sudden appearence of a bloody T34 on the battlefield, that they had no idea how to react. Usually, the resonse would be to set up an ATGM, but in that clusterfuck of organsiational chaso, they only took snapshots with their M72 disposable rocket launchers. Every one of them went far off.
For a moment the squad prayed that this tank wouldn't give way their position. A hope that was crushed, when the thing drove right at the crashed truck. Who was the idiot driving that tank? That couldn't be possibly NVA Soldiers.
Erich understood the futility of keeping quite and grabbed one of the M16's they had captured earlier. "Use their rifles. They are more accurate than the AK's at this distance.", he ordered.
All of them complied, switched their weapons to salvo-mode and lined up their opening shots, ignoring the rattling of maschineguns in the distance.
Everyone fired, when Erich did. It was almost napoleonic, but the synchronized salvos were putting a serious strain on the already disorganised american forces. At that point it was either desperation or bravery that kept them from surrendering, because reason would have told them to do by now. It was kind of admirable how the american forces tried to turn a battle they never had a chance of winning. Their demise was only a matter of time, now that Wachregiment reinforcements were on their way.
Meanwhile Nico was familiarising himself with the functions of his suit. He was especially fond of the targeting assistance and zoom. Somehow, the suit calculated everything from bullet trajectory to enemy positions. The view of the battlefield was very clear. Bullets flying to the air were traced back to enemy positions and then those were marked with icons. Points of interest were marked. Distances auto-calculated. It was basically how Nico imagined how the world would look in Marco's head. The Asian was a genius at all things regarding practical military analysis. It seemed nerdy (and was), but combining that with actually being able to do that while bullets are whizzing around his head, was what made him such an asset to not only the squad, but the entire unit.
The help provided by the visor, combined with the general precision of the M16, enabled Nico to down american soldiers one by one. Very few bullets missed. Recoil from the american rifle was low. It was generally a good weapon, but Erwin already had to throw his one away, because he didn't take into account that he couldn't just fire constantly without anything happening. The plastic around the barrel had melted into a print of his gloves and the loading mechanism was jammed by something. Unreliable as hell.
Nico was doing fine, because he took that lesson into account. He decided he would ditch the looted rifle for his AK, the moment he shot up all it's ammo. What the squad was doing was nothing more than trying to conserve ammo, by using the enemy's supplies for a while. In training they had learned that the M16 was a conceptionally well thought out rifle, but suffered from severe unreliability. It wasn't good for drawn out battles, like the AK.
The tank, meanwhille was positioning itself with it's front armor towards the enemy and covered by the truck. To those inexperienced with skirmish warfare, it may be a bit surprising that tanks, the queens of the battlefield, would utilize every cover they find, but it all made sense, if one thought anout it. Armor is nice, but every sane crew would like to get as much stuff between them and the enemy. Be it sandbags, bricks, improvised additional plating or a conveniently standing truck.
Nico got a look at the man on the Maschinegun. It was an old man in a familiar blue uniform. And there, Nico connected the dots why that tank was blue. It was the police. Or at least former police, because the blue uniforms were replaced years ago. The tanks, though... Communist states had a tendency to give old army equipment to other armed branches. Thus resulting in the Police having Main Battle Tanks.
The appearence of the tank forced the american troops to go back into the treeline and try to get a TOW Launcher to the front. That never happened, though.
As the song the tank was playing stopped, Nico saw that a lot of SPW-80's were approaching over the open field. "Get on the back!", the old policeman shouted over the thunder of his MG. The recruits complied immediately and climbed up over the webbing on the sides. Nico was actually able to just jump all the way up. There, they sat down on the plating. To his it felt comfortable sitting on the warm engine, but he himself didn't notice it through the suit.
Chekists used the turret of the tank as cover to rest their weapons on and wasted the remaining ammo for the M16's, then carelessly throwing them aside and one of them was cracked under the tracks of the reverse driving tank.
As soon as the first .50 cal tracer bullets impacted the front armor, the mysterious old man ducked into the cover of the tank and closed the hatch. The tank returned a 85mm HE shell, that impacted near the target. It failed to damage the M113, but the exposed gunner was killed when the shockwave of air-pressure liquified his brain and snapped his neck.
It stopped the fire for 30 seconds until the dead crewmember was replaced, but by then the T34 was too far away to really see. After a few blind shots that missed narrowly, they gave up on it.
It when the advancing line of SPW-80's reached the T34, they stopped. Rear hatches opened and finally, familiar faces appeared. It felt like joining up with one's school-class again. Their presence calmed Nico down from the omnipresent mental fatigue that was going along with real combat. But a certain amount of fear crept into Nico's thoughts. There may be casualties. Marco had been lucky and the entire squad owed it's life to the selfless sacrafice of the Grenzer that cooked the yankee APC. Usually, NVA units had a condescending attitude towards the Border Guards, but Nico swore never to question their loyalty again. But now, Nico knew that in this coming phase of the battle, there will be casualties. Probably someone he knew.
Lieutenant Schrader was appearently leading the troops on this part
of the relatively broad front and he radiated an aura of fanatical glee,
while doing it. It was both inspiring and clownish.
He swaggered over the battlefield completely unfazed by the stray shots randomly flying around and the officer came straight for Nico.
"I see you got that prototype. Good work soldiers. I will see to it you all get a medal for that."
None replied, but Erichs attitude normalised back into his usual stereotypical prussian behavior. He saluted, the squad mimiced him.
The Lieutanant patted Erich on the shoulder, then climbed up the T34 with a megaphone in hand.
"Comrades! It is an honor to finally lead you into battle. We have all trained for this day and finally we get the chance to prove our dedication to the cause! Our Grandfathers have disgraced our army and now it's time to reclaim our lost honor. Finally, we can repay our debt. Now fix you bayonets and show those spoiled imperialist rats what a real war looks like! For the Worker's and Peasent's State! Attack!"
A kind of half-hearted and corny speech, but it did definitely get the unit into the right mood. It was followed by an inspired ear shattering "URAAAAAAAAA!" of an entire Company shouting from the top of their lungs. Nico's squad jumped right back up at the T34, while the officer drew his sabre for pourpouse of humorous inspiration. "Fire!"
The early morning lit up again with thousands of rounds and single HE-Shells streaking through the night and ripping apart the forest.
Especially the 14,5mm Maschineguns on the SPW's did a terrifying job. They even finished off the american APC's. That calibre was actually capable of tearing apart lightly armored vehicles for breakfast. The KPVT was a mix of HMG and Autocannon. It's utility was reduced because it couldn't be pintle-mounted, but it was still and excellent compromise between armor penetration, AA capability, range and rate of fire. A jack of all trades, in that it was able to do everything, but only minimally.
After one minute of blind fire into the forest, the vehicles advanced in a slow pace, allowing the infantry to advance behind them, still shooting at the flashes of fire they saw in the darkness, while the SPW's surpressed the unseen enemy.
"Drive me closer old man!", the officer ordered.
"What do you want with that sword, kid? Hit them with it?", the man in the blue uniform, laughed, while calmly reloading his ammo box. The Lieutenants grin wasn't calming for Nico.
"Hey where did this tank come from anyways?", asked Erwin. "The KVP was disbanded."
The gritty old grandpa giggled. "I had old Erika standing around in my barn. Old collegues from the local constabulary called and said someone decided to start a little war over here and I was the only one with a tank at hand. They didn't want to come to a tank battle with busses. What a bunch pussies. Back in the old days our AT weapons used to be quad bundles of potaoe smashers."
The battle was over by the time the advance reached the treeline. It wasn't a fierce combat, it was just cleanup. 7 soldiers were killed during the advance, 2 were wounded and left behind for treatment.
Nico only fired a few shots in the direction of enemies he didn't really see, while the Lieutenant was pointing at things with his sabre and barking orders. Most of the enemies were dead, lying in beds of splintered wood. All the gunfire had torn apart the vegitation and ground was littlered with light brown wooden splinters intermixed with a fair amount of blood. Gruesome, but crawling through pigs-guts intemixed with mud, during training had hardened the recruits to the exposure to gore.
Ahead, an unseen polish Mi-24 Hind Helicoper was killing off the remaining fleeing americans. It only made it's presence known through the torrents of minigun fire raining down from above like Zeus throwing a temper tantrum.
Soon, the Lieutenant dismissed the squad and ordered the tank driver to get them back to base.
Marco finally got his morphine and the bandages on his hip were exchanged. And Nico managed to remove his mask, by mentally commanding the suit to open the hazmat-esque seal. Appearently the suit indeed did some things at mental command. Strange, but he wasn't one to doubt the power of science.
The ride back was entirely quiet and Nico took the opportunity to puke out his lunch over the edge of the tank. It was relieving.
When the base came in sight, the Tank Driver broke the silence and properly introduced himself.
"I am Oberst Karl-Heinz Meyer. Former Garrisoned Peoples Police. The boys in the local police office heard of your little war here and crapped their pants, when told that they had to send reinforcements. But old Fritz down there knew I kept Erika in my barn. It's always nice to help out former collegues. Comrades in arms, Comrades for life."
Marco let out a pained giggle at the ridiculousness of the situation. STASI schemes, mysterious planes, an army of special forces, mysterious super-hazmat suits, american troops in the heart of Pommerania and an old policeman in a T34. It couldn't be framed in words, how improbable that whole mess was, compared to the usual routine of training, the team usually did.
"How could you keep that thing after retiring?", Erwin asked. "I mean we aren't North Korea or Albania."
A good question. The GDR was a very buerocratic state and national defence was entirely a matter handled by the military. That meant, gun control was strict. Im those two other countries, though... Villages holding communal arsenals (including tanks and artillery) in collective ownership wasn't unheard of.
"Ha. Just hid it in my barn, when those fucking STASI spooks booted me out of the NVA and then out of the VP, I took the liberty to take some kind of life insurance with me. With full consent of the local authorities, of course. What police needs tanks anyways?"
Again, the only sound to be heard was the engine, because the mention of the STASI did magic to make the boys silent. Intelligence agencies were jerkasses and being openly associated with them had stigma.
The tank rumbled into the maze of supplies, where a little
delegation was waiting. All of them in suit and tie. Their job was
obvious. One of them, a short men that looked more like a school teacher
than a spook, stared at them with an unsettling stare of hostility. He
has neatly combed back brown hair and piercing blue eyes, behind a
formal set of glasses. His appearence undermined his aura of authority a
bit, but his expression of a scornful principal compensated for that
entirely. His retinue was looking neutral, but interested.
"Explain.", he ordered in an almost sarcastic calmness, but did not break his glare.
Erich stepped forward, saluted and stood straight. In his best NCO voice, he started semi-shouting his report.
"This unit guarded the checkpoint at the road to the west. It was approached by an american soldier who reported that his convoy had run out of fuel during an authorised strategic redeployment. We relayed the message and recieved the order to fortify the perimeter. The situation escalated and we heard a shootout in the distance and an approaching american patrol opened fire on us minutes later. We shot the messanger and held the line to delay the enemy advance. We eventually retreated after Grenzer reinforcements were killed and the enemy approached with armed APC's. During our retreat, an armored truck had broken through the enemy lines and crashed near our position. We retrieved a presumed strategic asset and relayed the information to the Feldkommandostelle, then got evacuated by an indiginous Pommeranian Peasant Militia's armored forces."
The man was still staring.
That was the one word that dominated Thomas Meyer's thoughts. He dealt with a lot of very unethical matters in his career, but this moment was still very uncomfortable to him. He recognized the unit name on their arms. Wachregiment Felix Dierzhinski. It must have been the training company. Teenagers.
But the worst was the boy he was looking at. The suit. It was wrong on so many levels. Really, all he wanted to do is apologize, but that would undermine his authority. His emotional guilt had to wait.
"Why are you wearing the suit.", he demanded harshly. The boy visibly flinched, but answered professionally.
"I was ordered, because it seemed the most tactically sound option, Sir."
He noticed the deflection of criticism onto the obvious leader of the squad. It was impossible to tell, if it was cowardice or military infused honesty, though.
"What were you told about this suit?", he questioned.
"I found a dying object-guard on the crash site of the transport. He told me this suit was a major strategic asset and had to be safely evacuated." The boy was just giving out standartised military speech. It was obvious he was nervous, but Thomas could see that had not yet realized in what an ocean of shit that boy had jumped.
"Were you made aware of the details of what is currently going on here? I ordered that the Wachregiment was to guard this airfield."
"No, Sir. Our base command gave the order to us, that we were to guard a strategic object in Pommerania. We volunteered. We were told the order came from the MfS."
At that information everything made sense, suddenly. It was plain buerocratic fuck-up that those kids got involved. Thomas was sure the hypercompetent buerocrat he had as a right-hand-man, wasn't to blame, though. Someone in between decided to send the relatively fresh batch of recruits.
That was a moral line, Thomas did not want to cross. The evacuation and the long term plan behind it were already morally questionable, because it would put a serious emotional strain on everyone involved. All personal ties had to be cut and none reestablished. Any unrealiability would spell doom for the project. And he never wanted to force kids to go through with that. But appearently there weren't many options anymore.
"Ok, boys, I have to put it this way now. You are knee deep in political and black ops territory now.", he explained cryptically and pointed at Nico. "You have to go with us, there is no other way."
Thomas could see how the boy tensed up.
"For the rest of you, there is a way back. You go home and never tell anyone of the events of this day. You will all recieve monetary compensation for the rest of your life if you want, but you will never tell anyone of this suit or this airfield. But if one talks, all of you will be killed."
It was dead silent now, but it could be seen, how two of them subtly flipped off the lock on their AK's. They were trained well.
"The alternative is, that you stay with your friend, but then there is no way back either. I can only give you any details if you come with us."
The unit all shot each other looks, trying to communicate silently and succeeded.
"We need to discuss this.", the leader said.
They all formed a little circle like a soccer team and whispered to each other. However, thanks to a little gadget in his glasses, Meyer could listen in perfectly fine.
"Who wants to stay with Nico?"
"All of us."
"What about the others? I don't trust that guy. We are in for sure, but the others have to get the same deal as us. What happens to them? They've seen all of this too."
"Ok, we ask him."
The leader faced the group of agents again and asked: "What about the others in our Company?"
"They get the same deal.", Meyer promised.
It was true. They'd get the same deal, because it was easy to enforce. Due to all the research in nanotech, the STASI would give all of them a memory wipe by having nanites destroy specific parts of the brain and in the aftermath, feed them the old fashioned cover-story that they were involved in a chemical train disaster, that damaged their brains. Not nice, but more ethical than killing them all, like the more ruthless agencies would do.
"Then, we stay with Recruit Seydlitz, Sir.", the leader decided and saluted.
Müller returned the salute.
"Your loyalty is admirable. I am sure you will serve the fatherland well, despite this tragic accident."
The suit-operator tilted his head a bit.
"Tragic, Sir?", he queried.
At this point Meyer didn't want to talk around the obvious anymore. It was time for the harsh truth.
"This suit is a weapon system. You can't just take it off. It merges with the body of the operator. It has indirectly connected itself with your brain. This is the first time this suit has been given a human body. We don't know what it does. But you have one option: Come with us. We bring you to a lab. We analyse the situation, then we try to get you out. I admit, that is only part of what is happening here, but I promise to all of you that we will stand by our word. We have voluntary candidates for this project who were both aware of the danger and trained Elites. Now get to the other troops, I will explain everything unrelated to the suit to your entire unit. Move out."
The revelation wasn't sugarcoated nearly well enough to be recieved positively, but despite being trainees, that bunch of teenagers were soldiers. Complaints were something that was shouted out of their mindset by choleric drill seargents long ago.
Ankles clacking together, standing straight and a shouted "Jawohl!", was the instictual response of german soldiers to any senior figure saying anything with the right prussian mannerisms. A dirty trick to avoid an uncomfortable conversation, but it worked.
As the soldiers left, Thomas couldn't help but feel miserable. He couldn't imagine how hard this shit had to be for the poor boy stuck in that metal coffin and his experience as a spy did not help that much in surpressing a sense of guilt and anger that children got involved. Müller was in many ways a criminal. His morals were very grey and as a person he was arguably even evil considering some operations he orchestrated in the past, but he had his standards and a half intact moral compass.
After the youngsters were gone, Thomas noted that the T34 was painted blue. And the name Erika, was painted on the side of it's turret.
The situation had quickly shifted into surreal territory.
"Ernst, prepare the speech, please. I need a moment alone."
Meyers entourage didn't understand what exactly he was doing or why, but respected the request.
After the agents were gone, he knocked on the rivers hatch. A policemen opened and Thomas shouted into the tank: "Dad, what the fuck are you doing here with Erika?"
A familiar face came out of the commanders hatch and casually sat on the cannon barrel, cuban cigar in mouth.
"What the hell are you doing here son? I did a little favor to some old comrades that wanted some big guns to investigate your little war here."
"Dad, this is a military operation. You shouldn't be here. This is a serious breach of operational security."
"Yeah, maybe I wouldn't be so eager to blow up some Yanks again, if you bloody ideologues didn't throw me out of my beloved army! Can't believe my son became a spy..."
"I am a General!"
"And where is your army?"
Thomas let out a loud groan of annoyance.
"Just get your tank to that company of junior goons, you are officially renlisted. In my Army."
The old man immediately threw a fit of laughter, then got serious and asked: "Wait, you aren't kidding?"
Trying his best to imitate the mannerisms of Prussian officers, he barked: "Panzerleutnant Meyer! Move your tank back into formation now. And get rid of that cigar, before you blow something! Ausführung!"
Old Wehrmacht instincts were reawakened and the old men returned a loud. "Jawohl, Herr General!"
Thomas walked away, grinning. The Köpenig-Trick works every time.
When the Company of Recruits was standing at attention on an
improvised parade ground, their new armored support behind them, a few
VDV Troopers set up an equally improvised podium of crates for Meyer,
when he arrived.
He stepped up and grabbed the microphone.
"Soldiers of Guard Regiment 'F. Dierzhinski'. I know a lot of you have been speculating on the events of tonight and I want to be honest with you from the beginning. I am General Thomas Meyer from the Central Administration for Recon of the Ministry for State Security. The fight with the americans has been an accident, but also great metaphor for what is currently happening. The party has allowed the enemy to enter our country. This column was the first of many to come. This night, our borders have been opened in more than one way. Honecker, Gorbatchev... They betrayed us. The revisionists in the Politbüro are collaborating with our enemy. I have reliable sources in the Kremlin, who confirmed to me that Gorbatchov is intending to 'open up' to western capitalism, turning the wonderful workers state our soviet brothers built, into a social democratic mockery of true communist ideals. But part of the debate is the unification of the GDR. The Soviet Union is selling us off to the enemy in Bonn. The Warzaw Pact is falling and few socialist states will survive the coming years without the traitorous taint of revisionism. However, not everything is lost. As you see, many comrades in the NVA, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Soviet Union agree with this perspective. Germany is lost for now, but the revolution isn't.. The goal of this evacuation is to evacuate a significant military force into an ideological safe-haven. Afghanistan. We have a secret outpost there, from wich we can continue our fight to reclaim our homeland. There is no road back, though. It may be years or even a decade before you see home again and there will be no way to reestablish contact with your relatives. We will wait in an experimental maschine, that will allow us to bridge the time, but you won't be able to simply pick up your old lives again. This decision is final, but I leave you the choice. On the right of you, is a table with water and a bowl of blue pills. Take one and you won't remember any of this. You can carry on with your life in peace. But if you are ready to sacrafice everything for this noble cause to liberate the working class of this world, follow me into this transport plane."
After the speech there was a shocked silence. After Meyer stepped down from the podium and left the boys to discuss. He watched them argue, debate, speculate. After a while everyone made up their minds. Those who didn't want to participate left in peace and took the blue pills. Tomorrow they wouldn't remember anything.
But 60 percent stayed. They got into formation again and Meyer stepped back up.
"I am proud of you, men.", was the only thing he said.
Suddenly someone began to sing:
Wir haben geschworen das Glück zu bewahren,
den Staat, die Partei gegen alle Gefahren,
Genosse Dierzhinski dein Name uns ehrt,
Die Feinde zu hassen hast du uns gelehrt.
One by one, they joined in, as Corporal Nicolai Seydlitz began to sing the German version of the Chekists-Song.
Wir sind bereit und halten Wacht für unser Vaterland,
Vorwärts Dierzhinski's Soldaten,
Heißes Herz, kühler Kopf und Verstand.
Chekist sein, das heißt der Partei treu ergeben,
drum ist uns Dierzhinski das Vorbild fürs Leben,
In Kerkerverbannung hat er es entfacht,
Das Schmiedefeuer der Arbeitermacht.
Wir sind bereit und halten Wacht für unser Vaterland,
Vorwärts Dzierthinski's Soldaten,
Heißes Herz, kühler Kopf und Verstand.
Genosse Dierzhinski wir sind deine Erben,
und tragen wofür du bereit warst zu sterben.
Das Banner der Zukunft, der Frieden, das Glück,
Wir stehen zum Schutze der Republik.
Wir sind bereit und halten Wacht für unser Vaterland,
Vorwärts Dierzhinski's Soldaten,
Heißes Herz, kühler Kopf und Verstand.
An hour later, the sun rose after a long night and the plane full of young soldiers lifted off, on it's way to Syria.