“The true soldier fights not because he hates what’s in front of him, but because he loves what’s behind him.” - G.K. Chesterton
All of the snipers were released from the trucks. Katya Pavlova was the first to have jumped out and raced across the white and green fields, the snow crunching underneath her boots as she scurried off. Her teammate desperately tried to keep up and follow her. “S-Stop!”.
Konstantin Mikhailov and Aleksandr Vorobyev were last to leave, as they stayed back to let everyone else head off and avoid the traffic. They went off towards the woodlands where their supervisor had told them to station at. Aleksandr grinned, his dimples showing. “This is going to be fun, eh?” He let off a friendly chuckle.
“Sure, just don’t fall into a creek again.” Konstantin blinked and took the lead, becoming ahead of the smaller male. Aleksandr followed like a duckling. “Oh, I won’t.”.
The two men positioned themselves upon a hill and settled down. They still remembered last time when they decided to hide in the trees for better tactic, but...Aleksandr found a weak branch and fell into the creek below.
“So where are those bastards at?” Aleksandr hissed and slid his rifle out from his back.
“I don’t know, you tell me.” Konstantin sighed and attempted to see if he could spot anything with his naked eye, but came to no avail. But Aleksandr kept speaking to him.
He retorted, “They said they were here!”.
“Why were we sent here if no one was even here?” He responded in annoyance. He knew if Misha had heard their conversation, he’d kill them.
“To look at the pretty trees, I don’t know-” Konstantin turned and slapped him on the mouth to keep him quiet. “Ow.” Aleksandr rubbed his cheek, not even where he had hit him.
“Shut up”. The sound of rustling came from below, which had been why Konstantin turned violent. The two men readied their rifles to confront whoever was below, but after moments of anxiety, no one showed up.
“Where are they?” Aleksandr whined.
“You scared them off with your face.” Konstantin joked as he set his rifle down onto the soft blankets of snow.
“Hey, my mama told me that I was beautiful…”.
“Your mama doesn’t count.”.
“Well, girls think I’m attractive. Katya touched my arm last week and told me that I had nice muscles.” Aleksandr as well set down his weapon and motioned to his upper arm. Konstantin turned to him with a monotone expression of disbelief.
“That doesn’t mean she likes you. You know Katyusha; she says things to shit with people.”.
Aleksandr looked back to Konstantin with a 'You little fucker!' face, “W-Well, she wouldn’t just say it for no reason! One day we’ll get married and you’ll be crying because you’re still single.” Aleksandr smirked and huffed. He was actually proud of himself. Konstantin wheezed and tried to hold in his laughter, tears forming in his eyes out of the humor.
“She’d rather date Hitler than you, Aleksandr…” He criticized him. Aleksandr’s expression vastly changed into one of horror, and his eyebrows knitted in a disgusted fashion.
“N-No!” Aleksandr raised his voice and sat up. That’s finally when they realized the people below.
“Gehen! Gehen!” Three Wehrmacht soldiers rushed one another from the ground to take cover from their enemies. Aleksandr had given their position away. They could even hear Katya scream in anger from miles away.
Konstantin groaned and stood with his rifle, “Nice work, Czar, they’re gone now.”
“You shouldn’t have made me upset…” The smaller male bickered. Konstantin retrieved their miniature walkie talkie from their bag and buzzed into the system.
“We’re sorry, my teammate scared them off. We have to retreat to another area.” The others agreed, and they ventured deeper into the woods. It became more difficult to detect anyone in the darker parts of the forest, but this was where they thought that the soldiers have escaped into. Konstantin and Aleksandr threw themselves on top of another elevated hill, but the basil green oak trees surrounded them from all of their sides. Still, the sharpshooters could take that in.
Aleksandr still seemed pissed off about the Katya situation and wouldn’t respond to his teammate whenever he asked or told him something. Konstantin only sighed.
“It’s your fault we’re here…” Aleksandr suddenly began to quarrel under his breath. Konstantin looked back at him, about ready to give up and just leave him there.
“You had the control over yourself, you shouldn’t have yelled at me. Calm down.” He retorted.
“Yes, whatever.” The blonde male huffed. “Fine, it was both of our faults.”
Konstantin moved farther to the edge to cover more ground, as if they were going to find anything. The snow seemed to fall worse in these areas, and the woods in front of them seemed to be only a white and green mist.
“I’m excited to see where they are now, though.” Konstantin attempted a joke, but Aleksandr said nothing.
Nothing else happened for a little while, until their walkie talkie buzzed. Konstantin pulled the small object out of his pocket and answered. Another sniper came from the caller line, “There is an enemy near ‘Volk’ and ’Krasnyy’’s area. Do you two see him?”
Konstantin scanned the ground below through his scope but he could not see anyone.
“Wait.” Aleksandr interrupted their conversation and pointed his front view towards a fallen log. Konstantin squinted his eyes, and sure enough, the darkish gray military dress could be seen trying to camouflage into the woodland. He returned his attention to the walkie talkie. He spoke, “My teammate sees him. Should we shoot?”.
“What does Stalin pay us for?”
“He doesn’t pay us for anything!”
“Yes, shoot him, you ass!”
Konstantin gave Aleksandr the confirming nod, and he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger back. The small bullet shot out of the gun, catching the Wehrmacht before he could react to the sound of the shot. He fell onto the ground and stopped moving, the crimson blood spewing out of his temple. He painted the snow red.
“We got him.” Konstantin declared into the speaker. Of course, the other soldiers had noticed and saw the mess that the snipers had caused, and they began to resist.
Aleksandr did not stall pulling back the small trigger to fire the bullets with his straight expression. Konstantin tried to pick up his rifle, but his walkie talkie continued to buzz. It was only Verusha Vinogradova.
“Stop calling in and shoot them, woman.” Konstantin groaned.
“I can’t! Katya went down there and she’s going to die! Oh my God!”
Konstantin groused and tried to ignore her. Aleksandr could just barely meet his eyes with Katya at ground level. She had kicked down and shot one of the Wehrmachts in the forehead. So much for a little woman.
“Y-Yeah, lady!” Aleksandr gave off an awkward laugh, almost in intimidation, and assisted her in her fight. There weren’t teams anymore; just one big alliance.
The sounds of explosions and the screams of both sides trying to take cover and give directions took everyone on the edge. It made it even more difficult to focus in such chaos. As Aleksandr came forward to pull the trigger once more, nothing had clicked or shot out from the front view. He blinked and furrowed his eyebrows, turning to look in the bag.
“Where are the bullets?” He chirped.
“Didn’t you bring the extras?” Konstantin did not look off from his view. Aleksandr’s face fell in discontent.
“...No.” He squeaked.
“Fucking Hell, Aleksandr.” His teammate only sighed. They sat in silence as the rest panicked in an attempt to win. But, in a matter of time, Katya had fought off the last of the enemy, snapping her head back to the two men and putting a thumbs up for closure.
Konstantin came into the walkie talkie, “’Sneg’ got the last one. We should go before another troop comes.”
The rest agreed and they all took their things to head back into Eastern Czechoslovakia. The two men trotted to the group of girls, Pavlova and Vinodragova. Relentless self-battles and fist fights in the trucks about who in their team did a better job took them to a small camp near the Ukrainian border. By then it was already nightfall as they crawled into respective tents and tried to fall asleep for the morning; however, Katya did not rest assured. She sat in the dirt, her legs crossed, and her head tilted towards the midnight sky. Konstantin left his tent to check on the Rus.
“Why are you still up? The rest have been asleep for a while.” He asked, settling himself beside and turning to face her. Katya breathed in and exhaled a dejected breath, “Just thinking.”
Konstantin tilted his head in question. He once again asked, “About what?”
“My father. I still don’t know what happened to him before they came.” She mumbled a vent. Katya’s father was a well-respected individual and successful member within the Red Army who left for active duty just moments before the Third Reich had tried to take over the city. He was last seen amongst the outskirts of Moscow, but he left without any trace. He was never heard from again. They declared him to be dead and carried off, and Katya’s mother took their word for it.
“He may be a prisoner.” Konstantin replied. Katya lowered her head and put her fist to her chin in silence, only for a few moments before shaking her head in disbelief.
“I don’t understand why they would capture him before the invasion. It doesn’t make much sense to me.” She cooed.
“Wherever he is, you’re living his legacy. You have his compassion, I bet.” Konstantin saw how despaired she was and tried to cheer her up with compliments.
He saw the tiny grin creep upon Katya’s face.
“That’s what everyone always told me. If we were still here, we’d already have this war won.” She went on with the smirk, but it really did not matter. Konstantin almost smiled himself to see Katya genuinely happy for once. But they couldn’t stay out here for too long.
Konstantin stood and looked back at Katya, “We should head back. Misha’s waking us up early.
“Fine.” Katya rolled her eyes and got onto her feet, turning back to her tent. Konstantin crawled in-between the flaps of his own tent. He entered the dim marquee and scratched his scruffy chin. Aleksandr was asleep as the rest were, his hands holding each other on his chest; his stomach gently and slowly lifting up and receding with every breath. Konstantin hefted his jacket and military shirt off, leaving his tank-top and snow pants on his body. He crawled into his sleeping back and let out a breath of relief, shutting his eyes in an attempt to fall asleep. The mellow air whispered through the trees as the crickets and birds of the European night took over.
The sounds of their screaming supervisor awoke the group during the clear breaks of dawn. It was too forested to tell if the sun had been rising, though.
“Get up, get up! We are leaving for Tomsk now and I will leave every one of you behind if I must!” He shrieked in the center of many tents. Aleksandr shot up in a shock, despite being fatigued. He rubbed his face; his cheeks had still hurt from his teammate’s hand.
“I have a headache from his screaming…” Aleksandr sighed under his breath. Konstantin had shrugged and put on his jacket and military dress before him.
“We should leave now, then.” He spoke with a voice of content. Aleksandr was still phased at how calm Konstantin could be in these states.
They all left for the trucks, mainly inspired by Misha’s loud orders. It was crucial that they leave then, though. The enemy could have been hiding anywhere through the thick pine and oak. It had happened before, and the camp was surprised-attacked. Five men and one woman lost their lives in the useless battle. They could not have that happen again to the snipers.
Aleksandr turned to his side to lean against the truck’s walls, but met with the truck floor instead. His body created a loud metallic BANG against the floor. Some teams turned to see the mess, while other plain ignored him. Konstantin snorted.
“Dumbass.” He wheezed and cocked his head off to the side to prevent from embarrassing him. That was the least he could do.
“Yeah, ha…” Aleksandr narrowed his eyes and got back onto his feet (not without falling a second time from sleepiness, of course). They stood in an awkward atmosphere once again as the vehicle got up and began to move, far back into the East.
[ To Be Continued ]
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