Twilight:2000

Silesia
Life in the countryside

The team linked up with other stragglers form the 5th ID. They recovered an M2 Bradley and a trailer of Diesel that were in good shape. The did have to go into the irradiated ruins of Sosnowiec to get these things. Next stop was the Hummvee near Klobuck.

Fall was upon the land. Leaves were gold and red and fluttered down in the cold breezes. Winter was coming. It was decision time – try to make it to Bremerhaven for the evacuation or buy a home in Silesia with the Markgrave, Julian Flipowicz?

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The Tide Turns
"The guns, they've stopped!"

No one is sure who first noticed it but it simply became apparent that the howitzer rounds and the massive 120mm mortar rounds stopped falling on the Sielce defenders. Now it was just the constant chatter of small arms fire that echoed over the battlefield. The advance of the Baron’s troops stalled. There was clearly hesitation. Then the entire army began to withdraw. The first to turn around were the Black Guard – a T-80, 2 BMP-B’s and a M113 with accompanying grenadiers turned around and surged back to the Palac Kultury. The Ukrainians withdrew with their T-72 and two BTR-70’s.

From far to the north and down the Nowotkl Avenue that led to the Old City and the dug in defenders there 50 Polish Cavalry surged forth. They clattered down the rubble strewn streets right towards the Palac Kultury.

From the West the Soviet 10 Tank Guards Division attacked. Of course, they had no tanks or any armoured vehicles to speak of. But there were a trained and disciplined fighting force that knew how to advance in good order and quickly brushed aside the western defenses of the Baron’s army.

All these forces were converging on the Baron’s fortress at the Palac. Inside the Baron’s compound a scene of chaos was visible. His howitzer and both mortars had been blown up. The courtyard in front of the Palac was covered in smoke and bodies were strewn everywhere. Small arms fire rang out from inside the lower floors of the Palac itself. There was a gaping hole in the front of the Palac where a rogue BMP-2 had smashed its way in.

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The Battle for Warsaw
Rack and Ruin

On September 17th 2000 in the predawn the Baron Czarny launched his attack. Units swarmed into Sielce from the west over the rubble. The gunfire was constant and fierce. Then the Ukrainians attacked straight from the north-west. Right into a major strongpoint. The Ukraininans had two BTR-70’s and a T-72. Unstoppable. The T-72 clawed over some rubble and then from a hull down position fired directly on the strongpoint. Some brave Sielce Milicya defender fired back with an RPG which came very very close. Then the Chemical Blood Agent round hammered down on the strongpoint. Gas spread and panic spread ahead of the vapours. The essentially cannon fodder Serock Militia surged through the breach and were mowed down by the second line of defense. But then the entire 2nd Free Company which comprised of the Ukrainians and their armoured vehicles surged in behind them. The T-72 eventually summited the rubble wall and had unobstructed access to Sielce. It started pounding any target that offered resistance.

It was then that the Black Guard assaulted the two main strongpoints that guarded the main road that entered Sielce from the north. They were down a BMP-2 that had broken down on the advance but were still essentially unstoppable. 120mm Mortar fire and massive howitzer rounds smashed any dug in defenders to pulp. Within an hour both strongpoints were silenced and the T-80 and accompanying armour surged into Sielce. Two of the BMP-2’s were blown up by brave dug in defenders firing RPG’s from point blank range. This was not enough to stop the attackers and fighting raged fierce and freely throughout northern Sielce as the attacking forces linked up. Victory for the Baron seemed assured.

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Mokotow falls
Another area falls to the Baron

In early September the Baron sent a strong patrol out to perform reconnaisance in force in the stronghold of Mokotow. They met little resistance. Now, on September 9th he has sent a much larger force to occupy it and open up a flank on Sielce. Now the Baron has over 200 men garrisoned there, ready to storm through the rubble and swarm over the western wall of Sielce.

Then, on September 10th, his garrison in Praga was recalled. 50 men from Kamionek followed a few days later. Indeed, the last of the harvest was being cut right now in Sielce. There was certainly a lot of food there for the taking.

Everyone knew the final battle for Warsaw would begin soon.

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The Skirmish Force Moves Out
Sally forth!

It was something to behold. With a roar the diesel engines of the T-72 and two BTR-70 came to life. Black smoke belched from their exhaust pipes. The 70 Ukrainians of the 2nd Free Company mounted up and marched alongside the armoured vehicles. Then, like thunder, the Poles of the 4th Free Company rode past and scattered in squads throughout the countryside ranging far ahead and behind the strike force. Next were the 17 survivors of the 3rd Free Company. Bringing up the rear and presumably keeping an eye on all these independent units were the 90 men of the 3rd Warsaw Company. They didn’t look very experienced but their gear was good. Mostly AK-74’s. Some only had rifles and pistols though. The Soviet 10th wouldn’t have a chance. The Poles would ride out and find them and pin them in place. Then the Ukrainians would bring the T-72 to bear and smash them. It would all be over in a couple of days. They just needed to find the 10th…

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Jeb watches

A few nights earlier:

Several stories up in the ruined office building near their camp, Jeb watched the sunset, chewing a piece of beef jerky he’d made from a deer he’d hunted down in the summer. First time bow hunting since being back home. The batch was almost halfway done already, and the harsh winter was only hinting at its arrival.

There was not enough food in the city. Again he wondered what the hell they were doing here, killing for cruel greedy men. He’d idly scanned the surroundings through his gunsights earlier, drawing a bead for a while on Vedder. Meaner ‘n a grizz, that one. ‘Boom’, he murmured. With a sniper rifle and a suppressor, perhaps the temptation would have been too strong.

Silent, he watched the slow progression of the horizon into a faded hazy blue, with layer after layer fading away. The pale blue wash flowed toward the city as the fire faded from the sky. A ribbed twist of clouds formed a spear above the ridges far to the south west. Now the same faded blue as the land below, their undersides were brought to violet gold in the last moments of the day. The air was cooling fast and the ruined land below stretched quietly into the oncoming blue infinity.

Suddenly angry, Jeb swallowed the last of his jerky and withdrew from his vantage point silently to begin clambering down through the rebar and rubble. The soft beauty had reminded him of home for a moment, but this place made a mockery of beauty.

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Meeting the Siberian
A job offer

It was busy in the Baron’s camp, so it’s not surprising that skeet didn’t notice the Russian until he walked up and introduced himself. The startling part was that the Russian spoke perfect English. Perfect. He could be from California. He quickly offered Skeet a cigarette, a rarity in these times, and engaged him in conversation.

His name was Ermak and he wasn’t Russian. Well, not slavic in any case. He was a Siberian, from the far east. He looked distinctly asian. He dressed like any other Soviet deserter but he didn’t carry a rifle.

His casual and nonchalant conversation turned out to be something significant. He said that he was not actually one of the Baron’s men, indeed has simply walked into the camp. He said that he was part of an alliance of free communities. Sielce. Mokotow. Gora Kalwaria (a town to the south). He promised Skeet that the Free communities were going to win this upcoming battle, despite the D-30 Howitzer that the Baron owned and his hundreds of men.

This was the deal – If Skeet and his team were willing to get the 1st Squad to sit this battle out they would be rewarded. If Skeet could get the whole 3rd Free Company to join the Free Alliance there would be much greater rewards…Perhaps horses, maps, information. Ermak hinted that he had information about ways out of Europe. Ways home…

For Skeet’s good faith Ermak described a cache for Skeet to check out.

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Turncoats? (Con't)

“Well, lets think about it.” Lieutenant Wilson pulled a dog-eared map out of his backpack and unfolded it over a table-sized piece of rubble. “We’re here, in Warsaw. We’d need to get up to, uh, Gdansk right? On the Baltic? That’s around 180 miles as the crow flies. But the river here, the Vistula, see how it loops around to the west and then back up north. That’s got to be at least twice as far by river. More’n 300 miles in a boat? In a warzone? I hate boats.”

“I think we agree that we’re on the wrong side in this war. I joined up to bring democracy to these people, and then the world went to hell. We fell in with this Baron, and I think we all realize that he’s a worse tyrant than the Russians ever were. These farmers aren’t the enemy. They just have what the Baron wants.”

“Winter’s coming, and the Baron needs to feed his boys. The Baron’s Army will go in and wipe these people out. It will be bloody, and the Baron will lose some men, but he doesn’t care – more spoils to go around to the survivors.”

“As I see it we have a few options:”

“First option – we stay with the Baron, try to survive the upcoming battle and we’re good until spring, at least. I don’t know if I can stomach that. I joined up to kill killers, not farmers.”

“Second option – we desert. Trade for ammo and supplies and get outta Dodge. On foot. If we run into the Baron again we’re probably dead, but for now, we live to fight another day.”

“Third option – Sabotage and theft. We try to steal a vehicle or two, and some weapons, maybe sabotage the remaining vehicles, and go over to the farmers. Maybe the farmers won’t shoot us on sight. Then hope that we can turn the tide in their favor when the Baron comes a’callin. Probably die heroes. If not, we’ll have made a permanent enemy and the Baron will be actively hunting us all across Poland.”

“Any thoughts?”

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Warsaw
City in Ruins. Home to Rats and Rads.

Warsaw

With the century’s third great war came ruin worse than that of 1944. NATO laid siege to the city between June and September of 1997. Shelling and air attacks occurred daily. During the siege, Soviet troops stationed in the city gained a reputation for mercilessness as they hoarded supplies of food and medicine while the general population did without. After the siege was lifted, six tactical nuclear airburst strikes were made over the city in an effort to slow the Warsaw Pact advance and cripple the central Polish road and communications networks.

The weapons used against the city were six of the eight warheads of a Trident II (D-5) missile fired from a British submarine. Each warhead was rated at 355 KT. Three of the warheads were aimed at the center of the city itself, the fourth at Okecie airport, the fifth at the suburb of Wlochy to the west, and the sixth at the southern spur of suburbs on the eastern bank of the Wisla. The seventh and eighth warheads from the missile were targeted at military units to the southeast.

In the weeks following the attack, most of the outer city was in flames. The firestorm swept through those areas of the city which were not in the rubble, destroying most of those structures which withstood the blasts. The destruction was nearly complete. Over half of the native population died in the initial blasts and the firestorm which ran through the city. While many structures still remain standing,they are, for the most part, only shells, standing ominously over the sea of rubble which is modern Warsaw.

Those who remained alive had to flee the devastation and radiation which characterized their old home. Disease and famine dwindled their numbers. They scattered to the countryside, to find things elsewhere little better, It is estimated that out of every one hundred inhabitants of Warsaw in 1997, only one survived to see the 21st century.

As the radiation died down to near tolerable levels in late summer of 1998, people began to move back into Warsaw, but slowly. These settlers began to hack out a bleak living from the ruins, trading such things as metal and stone to their neighbors in the country. However, their numbers were, at first, few, due mostly to a (justified) fear of radiation, the presence of tens of thousands of unburied corpses and their accompanying diseases, and the skyrocketing rat and insect population. By the following spring, however, the situation was somewhat less prohibitive. As the carnage decayed away, the rodent population shrank to a more acceptable level (though still high compared to pre-war numbers). Disease became less widespread in the city, to the point where one was only slightly more at risk in the city than outside of it. Even the radiation levels were down to only a couple of rads per year – easily acceptable. This is the time when most of the settlers moved in.

The settlers began to dig up the rubble in order to farm the land under it. The easiest locations for such activity were in the old park areas, which, though covered by debris from the blast, don’t have building foundations to get in the way. Before the spring of 1999 was over, hundreds of plots of land were cleared and planted, supporting a population in the neighborhood of 1500 people. The largest problems faced in that year by the settlers were disease (there was a small outbreak of plague) and rats eating the crops. Filip Kizysztof and his followers were among the original settlers of ’99.

The winter of 1999-2000 was not terribly harsh, and did not take as bad a toll on the settlers of Warsaw as it might have. Fresh settlers moved in that spring, adding to the work force which could clear away the rubble. As it was, the increase in population to over 3000 total in the city was easily absorbed, as the increase in tillable acreage provided more than enough food, despite the rats. In addition, separate communities began to form around particularly large park areas, such as in Praga, Kamionek, and Sielce.

Within these communities there quickly appeared craftsmen and other specialized laborers. They began to mine the rubble for materials to fabricate all manner of goods for use in the community
and for trade with those who lived in the countryside. Especially useful items for trade were pieces of metal fabricated into farm machinery, spare machine parts of almost any kind, and stone, which the country-folk used to build walls and buildings.

Unfortunately, all was not to remain peaceful Unfortunately, all was not to remain peaceful. The Baron Czarny, originally from the area of Pultusk to the north, moved into the city to make it his base of operations. His original army of marauders, deserters, and other cutthroats moved in, virtually unopposed, taking the shell of the Palac Kultury as their own. To supply his troops, Czarny began to extort what food and other supplies he could from the various communities of settlers, in exchange for ochrona (protection). By late summer, the Baron’s army had swelled to nearly four times the size it had been when he arrived in Warsaw just two months earlier. He virtually ruled the city and countryside with his men, and the Wisla River with his Rzeka Korsarz. Only one community held out against his expansion – the Milicya of Sielce.

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Turncoats?

Staring at the wreckage of the city sprawling around them, Jeb could almost feel his skin prickling with rads. Not much lived here but crows, rats and soldiers, each living off the other. That’s what the food tasted like, anyway. Seeing the women made him feel like he was one of those big black birds, plucking out a corpse’s eyeball. He spat, and a thought occurred to him. Skeet was right below him. Skeet was a good guy.

‘Skeet. This is shit, you know that. Living like rats in a cage, killing for scraps. Fubar, man. I say we take these women, go to those farmers and make a deal: We help them, they give us a ride up the river. They got boats, you know that. We get to the coast we can go back to the USA, I bet. Green hills, fresh food, no armies. Lots of women too. Think about it!’

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