Death Along the Elbe - Part One
Mission 100: I'm Going to Ruin Somebody's Day
Location: European Federation
Timeline: 0900Hrs - July 12th, 2393 (1900Hrs - October 1st, 2052)
Brianna Hobbs and Tamara Harrak moved through the dense underbrush. Each of them was clad in camouflaged body armor and toted gyrojet assault rifles. They made their way to a clearing. No sooner had they tried to cross it when a large, floating, metal sphere come into their view.
"Arrest your move rate and identify yourself." The sphere ordered as a wide beam of red light scanned Brianna's eyes.
Brianna recognized the machine as a sentry drone. She also knew that if she could see one sentry drone, two or three gun drones must be around in concealed positions. She wanted to pass so she replied to the drone. "Colour Sergeant Brianna Hobbs. 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry."
"Affirmed." The drone replied before scanning Tamara.
"Lance Corporal Tamara Harrak. 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry." Tamara replied and the drone acknowledged her.
The pair continued into an encampment. They passed a large tank drone sitting on the camp's perimeter and scanning the skies. The camp was a collection of prefabricated camouflaged buildings and pallet loads of supplies. Brianna looked around and recognized a staff officer, 1st Lieutenant Archibald.
"Leftenant Archibald!" Brianna shouted. "Where is the briefing?"
"Colour Sergeant Hobbs, glad to see you made it out of the city." The young man replied. "That hut there." He pointed to one of the prefab buildings. "The briefing has already started. Why don't you get yourselves a cup of tea?"
Brianna nodded and headed to the mess. It was between meals and the mess was almost empty save for the cooks. A heavy set, middle-aged NCO greeted them. "We aren't serving meals right now but would you like some tea?" She asked in a north country accent.
"Yes, please," Brianna replied.
"And a chocolate biscuit too please." Tamara eagerly asked.
"Sorry, luv. We haven't had any biscuits in the past three weeks, much less any chocolate ones." The cook answered as she gave them each a large steaming cup. "Cream and lumps are on the tables."
"Thank you," Brianna replied and then took a slip to warm herself up.
"Ta," Tamara replied as she dropped five or six cubes of sugar into her cup.
"Having a little tea with your sugar?" Brianna sarcastically asked.
"I didn't get a biscuit. I'm compensating." Tamara replied.
Brianna laughed. "We're lucky we got tea."
They made their way to the briefing. The other company commanders were there as well as Major Worth, the acting battalion commander.
"Your late Colour Sergeant." Worth stated in a loud voice.
"Sorry, Major Worth. We couldn't get out of our area until the Russian mortars let up. I'll write their commanding officer about proper barrage etiquette and why they should stop so we can attend one of your briefings." Hobbs replied.
Worth snorted as he continued. "As I was saying before the interruption, elements of the 12th Guards Division are planning to attack us in a broad front. 'A' Company under Leftenant Jones will hold the right flank of the city along the river and anchor themselves to elements of the 9th Battalion. 'D' Company under Captain Helms will hold the center of the city and the bridge. 'B' Company under Colour Sergeant Hobbs will hold the left flank along the road into the city. We may get relief in about 72 hours depending on who fast the 3rd Division moves. Your orders until they are to hold until relieved."
"Excuse me Major, where is 'C' Company?" Hobbs asked.
"They will be in reserve Colour Sergeant." Worth answered, not hiding his annoyance.
"Why aren't they holding a position in the line? They are almost at full strength. I'm down to twenty-seven soldiers and a four-gun drones. We can't hold that amount of ground. We don't even have another unit to our left so we have to cover that flank. If you won't swap companies you could at least detach one platoon to bolster our numbers?" Hobbs explained.
Worth sneered at Hobbs. "We do the job we are assigned with the resources we have." He stated in a condescending voice. "A large company is needed in reserve to counter-attack. No doubt when the left flank collapses. It isn't your place to question my orders, Colour Sergeant. An officer that has been properly schooled in tactics and has led soldiers should not be questioned by squaddies who has spent her career issuing ammunition and rations."
"Excuse me!" Hobbs retorted. "You were a depot officer in the Territorials before the war. Your profession was as an idle country squire on his estate that he inherited. The only people you led were Morris Men at the county fayre. And the only reason 'C' Company is in reserve is to protect you from harm."
"Watch your tone Colour Sergeant. There will be consequences for your words." Worth's face turning red as he shouted.
"Oh? And what consequences will I face? Will you send me to the infantry? Will you have me sent to the front?" Hobbs asked.
Worth's face was now a deep red as he snarled at Hobbs. Before he could say anything Captain Helms spoke up. "Okay, Davey." Helms addressed Worth by his first name. "Look I need to get back to my unit before the Russians decide to attack."
Worth nodded "Alright, battalion dismissed." Worth looked at Hobbs and was about to say something before Lieutenant Jones came up to him and started to ask questions. As Worth was distracted Hobbs made her way out.
"Colour Sergeant Hobbs, a word in your ear outside, please?" Helms asked.
The two exited the building. Helms took Hobbs to the side. "Look, I understand the difficult position you are in. You're doing a jolly good job cracking on after your commander was killed. The others officers impressed with your performance. That said, you can't speak to a superior officer that way, no matter what you may think of him or the job he is doing." Helms explained.
"Yes, Captain. Sorry about that. It is just that my company is in a right tight spot and when I ask for help I'm ignored or put down." Hobbs replied.
Helms nodded. "I have four gun drones I can reassign to your company. I'll also send another squad to my left flank to hold that side and that should free up a few more of your soldiers. That is the best I can do."
"I understand, thank you, Captain." She answered. Helms nodded and then left with his guide.
"That's right of him but we need more help than that. We are on the main avenue of approach." Tamara told Hobbs.
"I know," Hobbs stated with some reservation. "We will fight with what we have. Let's get back to the lads."
Meanwhile a dozen or so miles away, Colonel or Polkovnik (полко́вник) Vasily Borodin was looking at a map of the area he was responsible for capturing. the area around central Germany. "Vhy has the third Battalion not left their starting positions yet?" Borodin inquired of his aide, an older looking gentleman who spoke with a Leningrad accent.
"Because they do not have the fuel to do so comrade Polkovnik." came the expected and dreaded answer.
"Well now, why is that?" Borodin inquired with a sardonic grin. "Oh, I know why... Command forgot to send us the needed fuel so we can't really do much of anything in this sector of the line as command needs their resources elsewhere." he shook his head. "If this keeps up, I'll be forced to abandon all of my tanks from the third battalion."
Borodin nodded. "I'm surprised you've not already done so. Convert all operational vehicles that can be used to keep them in fighting trim and turn the third battalion into ground troops."
"Yessir." the aide responded. "Will, that be all?"
"No, turf out all of the prisoners that we have, have them conscripted into the red army as conscripts." he sighed. "more bellies to fill and food to find." he shook his head. "We'll never take Halle at this rate."
Hobbs was in the ruins of an abandoned house. She sat in the rubble under what used to be rough. She scanned the radio nets and kept an eye out on the road. The building facing the road had another squad in it and the drones covered the nearby road. The building nearer the city had the next squad and was helping to cover the road. The remnants of the last squad shared the ruins with Hobbs and covered the rear of the two buildings. In truth, a whole platoon should have been in each building but those numbers were unthinkable now.
"Sergeant Hobbs," Tamara shouted. "The spotter drones have detected a large number of vehicles and soldiers on foot approaching!"
"Alright! Here they come! Get ready!" Hobbs shouted at the other two buildings.
Borodin was moving up the road, with his men as he was never one to sit back while others did the fighting, this had earned him several minor reprimands as someone had to command and being out like this, Borodin was unable to see the big picture so he didn't know what was going on elsewhere.
"Sergeant Hobbs..." Corporal Walker came over the comm system, speaking in a whisper. "My gunner has a target lock on the turret of a tank."
"Are you sure it's Russian?" She asked.
"Yes, confirmed, a T-97," Walker whispered, the anxiety in his voice evident.
Hobbs looked around. She could now hear the vehicles but couldn't see anything. She asked herself why the Russians had stopped dropping mortar shells. Maybe this was the attack? "To all: fire at will," Hobbs replied.
A stream of heated plasma shot from the lower story of the building and smashed into a tank. The tank exploded and the turret shot up into the air.
Borodin dove for the ground as one of his tanks blew itself apart. "Дерьмо!" he screamed as several anti-tank rounds shot past him, into random buildings, all of which sustained various degrees of damage, one was even completely demolished as Borodin continued to press forward. The situation continued to fall apart as the Russian forces continued to press into the breach created by Borodin's troops.
Borodin watched as a British Cavalier tank suddenly appeared from behind a building when a high-velocity plasma round blew it apart, its turret flying into a nearby shack, utterly demolishing it. Borodin lifted his rifle as he threw himself prone onto the ground, he then began shooting towards two members of the British infantry nearby, hitting one of them and missing the other. Borodin ducked to evade the return fire as he heard several pings crash into the debris around him.
He lifted his head ever so slightly before he took aim, seeing nobody, he decided to move on.
Meanwhile several dozen Russian tanks that had not yet been attacked, all began firing at the buildings en-masse, while the Russian infantry began going in and clearing out the buildings, one at a time, creating quite a bloodbath as while the Russians had numbers, the British fought and resisted heroically, but in the end, however, the unit was more or less shoved aside while the Russians had their breakthrough.
Borodin suddenly found himself being separated from his unit as they never stopped to pick him up, the loaded up their men into their trucks before they departed, leaving him behind, he was on the other side of town as he was busy trying to flush out the last of the British defenders, he would meet up with the Russian second group as they removed the last of the British forces from this area.
Hobbs saw the Russian tanks open fire on the two houses she had positioned her squads in. She then watched in horror as Russian infantry moved up and attacked each house. There was gunfire, grenade explosions, and screams. In each building, two or three British soldiers ran out while the Russians were assaulting. She assumed the others in the building had been killed.
Hobbs got on the radio. "This is Red 17 to White 4. Flash: our positions have been overrun. The front units have been destroyed. Please send forward the reserves. I say again, we have been overrun."
"Red 17 this is White 4." Over the radio came the calm voice of Worth. "Please understand you do not issue orders to a unit higher in echelon. We along with the reserves are withdrawing. Please set up a fire support system and withdraw to Rally Point: Beckham. Do you understand?"
"What!" Hobbs replied exacerbated. "We're getting wiped out!" Hobbs screamed over the radio. "The fucking Russians have overrun our positions! We need help!"
"Now see here Red 17." Worth chided Hobbs in a cool voice. "If you cannot perform your duties in a professional manner, you will be removed from your post. You have your orders, White 4 out."
Hobbs screamed at the top of her lungs. She then picked up the radio and smashed it.
"What's going on?" Tamara pocked her head into the room, a look of near panic on her face.
"We're getting the fuck out of here," Hobbs replied. She then looked into the makeshift bunker. "Grab whatever you can and try to make it back our lines! We're letting the Russians have this place!" Hobbs yelled at them.
The surviving soldiers abandoned their posts and started to pick up their personal kit. As Hobbs was exiting the rear of the building she saw a tank swing its turret around and shoot the building. There was a terrible explosion as Hobbs was blown into the air.
Borodin slowly moved towards the front lines when he noticed several British troopers fleeing. He checked several of the fallen only to learn that they were well beyond his help, he came across a downed woman wearing British enlisted insignia, when he quickly realized that she was alive.
He reached down and gently picked her up before he entered the ruins of a nearby building, before he placed her against a nearby wall, he then went to retrieve some firewood, this was an easy task as there was wood everywhere, before long, however, the signs of battle had faded and soon it was just him and the wounded soldier before him, within moments after returning, he began to get a fire going. It was a small one and little else.
He pulled his pack off of his back before he went for the small med kit that he often kept with him. "Let's see what I can do for you," he commented softly, more to himself than to her as she was unconscious.
"Get your hands off her!" Hobbs screamed as she leveled her rifle at Borodin. She was covered in splatters of blood and mud, What wasn't splattered was stained with smoke.
"Stand up now and let me see your hands!" Hobbs ordered.
Borodin turned his head ever so slightly to the left as he spotted the second British woman, he mentally cursed himself not securing the area but this was irrelevant now. Borodin had no wish to get shot as he did as she instructed, he stood up before he slowly spread his arms, indicating he was unarmed, his rifle was a dozen or so feet away from him.
Hobbs kept her weapon leveled at Borodin. She glanced over at Tamara and saw how badly wounded she was. "Do you understand English?" She asked Borodin.
"Flawlessly," Borodin answered. "She has a mild concussion but otherwise she is unharmed," he explained.
"Good." Hobbs nodded nervously. "Now, you are going to carry her to the aid station. If you shout or try to run, I'll shoot you." Hobbs then with a shaky motion of her rifle, she ordered him to get moving.
Borodin regarded her in silence for a moment. "Very well, then you put the fire out." as he knelt back down to clean up his gear, he blew some of the dirt and dust off of his medkit while muttering something in Russian. He cleaned away his items before he removed his jacket from where it had been draped over Tamara's prone form. "Come, girl, we're taking you to see our medics." and with that, Borodin picked up Tamara like she weighed nothing before he turned and went out the door with her, taking care to not hit her on anything on the way out.
Borodin turned left and went across the open area, past the ruins of the small village and the shattered buildings, he did not speak or even look back to see if Hobbs was following him, while he kept walking.
Hobbs kept her weapon pointed at the Russian officer in front of her. She could see no signs of any British units and that started to concern her. Among the ruins, she did spot several UK Army issue shelter halves made formed into a makeshift lean-to.
"Move to that shelter," Hobbs ordered Borodin. The trio moved through the rubble. Hobbs could hear two females talking softly. She couldn't make out what they were saying but if relieved some of her anxiety.
As they rounded a ruined wall they came into what Hobbs thought was a British aid station. There were several casualties on the ground, both British and Russian. Two young females were attending the wounded. As Hobbs approached she then realized they were in Russian uniforms.
"Oh shit," Hobbs muttered to herself.
The two Russian medics had a look of terror on their face when they saw Hobbs and her rifle. One of them asked Hobbs a question in Russian but Hobbs didn't understand her.
"She's asking you not to shoot her." Borodin supplied before he rattled off some Russian to everyone else, which seemed to calm them. "I told them that you are not going to hurt them," he commented as he gently placed Tamara onto one of the unused cots before he nodded, he said something to one of the two young women who then went to check Tamara and her injuries.
"You might as well lower your weapon, there will be a Russian patrol around here somewhere and they will be back soon enough," Borodin explained to Hobbs. "Do you have any medical training?, because I do and I intend to help these two."
"No," Hobbs replied with aggression in her voice. "You're going to pick her up and carry her to a proper aid station," Hobbs stated while pointing the weapon at Borodin.
Tamara then stirred. "I'm good here Colour Sergeant," Tamara stated in a weak voice. "I don't want to be moved anymore. It's too painful." Tamara struggled to talk. "Get yourself back to our lines."
"Alright, Harrak." Hobbs warmly answered. She then looked at Borodin. "You're still coming with me. I lost my whole unit. I want something to show for it."
Borodin regarded Hobbs in silence. "We have no idea where the English forces are at present, nor the Russian forces in this area," he explained. "So.. West then, I assume?"
One of the two young women rattled off something at Borodin who answered in the same tongue. "Do you think she will harm you?" the female Russian inquired.
"Oh probably, but then you know how it is in war?" Borodin answered. "I'll escort the Englishwoman back to her lines, keep an eye on these guys and when the patrol returns, tell them what happened and tell them we're heading for the highway," he explained to the Russian girl in his native tongue.
"Da," she answered with a quick nod. "It'll be done."
"Alright, enough talk. Get moving." Hobbs ordered Borodin. "Stay safe Harrak."
"Mind yourself on the highway, Colour Sergeant." Tamara weakly replied.
Borodin regarded Hobbs with a critical eye for a moment, he noticed a few details. "A moment Colour Sergent." he addressed Hobbs before he turned and snapped off some rapid-fire Russian. One of the girls turned and rushed out the door, the girl returned with two boxes which she handed to Borodin. "Good. thank you," he responded as he slipped off his pack before securing one of them, the other he offered to Hobbs. "It's food." he added, "mostly cold cuts and sandwiches. You've not eaten in a while and you look malnourished."
Hobbs inspected the package before slipping it into a cargo pocket. "Thank you." While her rifle was no longer leveled at Borodin, Hobbs still had it at the ready. "We need to go now."
"Take care ladies." he addressed the two nurses before he went out the door and Hobbs followed, in silence.