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Rated: 13+ · Novella · Action/Adventure · #1754170
A short story depicting the duallity of war on the Eastern Front in world war two
--Red Snow--


Chapter one -- From Russia With Love


Rostov, 29th of September 1941,

I trust your feeling well Mother. I want to let you know that I am doing fine right now. Its about six in the morning right now and I find myself in a rolling coffin. The smell of men and hay is all I've ever known for the past week. There are thirty of us packed in here like cattle as the commissars watch us from above with their rifles. Today, they shot a man for stealing another conscript's piece of bread. I'm beginning to wonder if this is what Comrade Stalin truly had in mind. I'm told we're heading to defend the city of Rostov. Do you remember the lush green fields and the Don River's cool blue waters? I wonder how much of it still stands. Mother, stay safe and, tell Natasha I lo--

"Niko what is this your writing?"

I turned around to see a huge, burly man quickly snatch the letter from my hands as he curiously looked at it.

"Its a letter to my mother, Ivan. I would like to have that back!"

"You know Niko, you have not even seen combat yet and you want write to your mother false hopes and lies? This is war! Not some holiday trip."

I watched as Ivan tore the letter into shreds and tossed it back to me.

"I would suggest you write your last will instead."

Ivan was a brutally honest man. He believed that lying to people to keep them sane only sought to turn them soft. Ivan was a larger than life man, the kind of man who should be in folk tales instead of this moving cattle cart. I honestly believe that when the Germans finally see him coming, they will throw down their guns and run straight back into Nazi Germany. After all, who would honestly believe that bullets would stop this human ox?
Suddenly, the train then rolled to a stop with a shrill shriek of steel on steel. In that instant, the booming voice of a commissar rang out.

"MEN! Stand up! Look alive! The fascists believe they can take Rostov from us. They see us as 'inferior swine', but it is they who lack our strength! Our will to fight! It is your duty to crush them under your feet! We ask for no prisoners, only piles of their own dead bodies!"

The doors to the box car were thrown open, revealing the horrors of what lay outside.

Childhood memories flooded into my head as I stared in pure shock at the chaotic scene. The green open fields I played in, the beautiful Don River where I used to swim often, the little sweet shop where my mother used to buy me candy... But was I really to believe this charred black hell was actually the Rostov I once knew? I could see lumbering steel behemoths flattening the plentiful wheat fields, fires filling the sky with their smoke as artillery burst all around us. I could see from afar fierce fighting all around the marketplace at the southern part of town, with the fountain I used to make wishes in as a child in the middle of it, or what was left of it as it had been crushed by tank treads.
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, it's either forward into German machine guns, or stay here and be shot by the commissars.

"Move!" screamed the commissar as he fired his pistol into the air. We climbed out of the train, still aching from having not moving our legs around often. It was the first time I had been out of the train car in a week as I looked back at the train.
The train engine was a heavily armored hulk of metal and the line of box cars seemed to stretch on forever. It just stood there, unloading it's cargo into hell as hundreds upon hundreds, maybe even thousands, of men were flooding into the wretched city. We moved forward from the platforms of the train depot. Originally meant for industrial purposes, Rostov was the intersection of three large railroads. The tracks were stacked nine deep so the train conductors could switch the cars easily as each car unloaded it's payload. Just a little ways outside the rail depot was the market square. Screams and heavy machine gun fire was all I could hear coming from that direction.

We had been stripped of all our belongings when we first boarded the train, and were only given a uniform and a can opener. “Somehow I don't think this small scrap piece of pig iron would crack open a German tank,” I kidded to myself.

A few commissars were standing near some crates as they motioned to us and began yelling. "First man gets a gun, the second man carries the ammunition. When the rifleman dies, the second man takes his place!"
I quickly counted off an odd number and jumped in line. The only thing that the school my father forced me to go to came in handy as I received a gun. To much of my surprise, it was a PPSH-41, an automatic submachine gun with a drum magazine. I turned around to see the man behind me who was given my ammunition. My eyes met the round glasses of a small man who seemed cold, despite it being about 20 Celsius or so; he had on a long green coat and a thick wool hat. I didn't say anything but gestured to him as we moved along. As we exited the rail yard into the edge of town, I could hear rifle rounds being fired in quick succession and screams filling the morning mist. After the last of the men got their guns, the commissars rolled out a heavy machine gun from behind us. No turning back now.

I watched as a commissar with a megaphone and a hardened face stand up and began shouting orders. “We must retake the marketplace to fully secure the rail depot for Mother Russia! From there you will form squads and continue to repel the Fascist assault.”
In that moment, I heard a loud, sharp whistle pierce through the air followed by a commissar screaming “CHARGE!”
Me and my partner moved forward, we charged down the street which lead directly into the marketplace. We were immediately greeted with bullets as I tried to find cover. The Germans had crushed the merchants carts so they could have an open view for their four heavy machine guns. They had placed two in a four story apartment building and the other two were next to the building behind a brick wall fortified with sandbags. Men all around were running forward straight into the sights of the machine guns.
Desperate and out of options, I began running with the crowd of men as my hope began to dwindle. The men in front of me were cut down quickly, splashing their blood in my face. As hard as I tried, I slipped on their blood and fell face flat onto the ground. The man behind me dived down right next to me. The bodies were piled up right in front of us, absorbing the bullets that hit the berm of corpses creating a sickening sloshing sound while blood sprayed over us.

"Ummm... uh, whats your name?"

"It's Niko. Listen, we need to move I have no intentions of dying here. I'm already engaged and I intend to live long enough to marry my future wife."

"I'm, I'm, uh well my names Alexei, I'm from Siberia"

"... Look we can't just sit here. We need to find a place to defend, so at least we can avoid being out here."

As I lay on the ground, I watched briefly as the sea of men around me charged and took out the two lower German MG positions. A loud "URAH!" set out through the marketplace as whistles blew and the commissars moved their machine guns forward from behind us. Alexei quickly picked up a rifle, and with great familiarity he licked his thumb and rubbed the forward sight. From the corner of my eye, I saw him take aim at a MG in the apartment building. While we were still seventy meters away, Alexei fired once and the MG went silent.

“Where did you learn to shoot like that?” I said with great surprise.

"When I grew up in Siberia, we spent our summers hunting," he said with a renewed sense of pride in his tone.

The two of us moved softly through the rubble-filled streets continuing our search for a safe place. The buildings were badly damaged and charred, as the Germans had bombed and shelled the city shortly before taking it with great haste. Finally, we found a marble clad bank that was undamaged. Alexei and I both decided that it was as the walls were thick and, being a bank, the doors would be secure.
But, as we entered the building, we froze right in our footsteps. The once clean floors were smeared with gore and the corpse of a woman laid on the stairwell split in two by a close range shotgun blast. It was obvious the Germans had been here. The blood was still clotting the dead. My spine tingled as I gripped my submachine gun tightly. I remember back home when I hunted for wild animals how they bled like this as I chased after there blood trails in the woods. These kills were fresh.
Quickly, I made my way up the second floor as Alexei followed behind me. Upstairs, there were several offices here with stone walls along with wood and glass doors. Instantly, we heard footsteps with the clicking of heavy boots.

"I hear someone coming Niko."

"Quick! move into that office Alexei, its empty. When they come around the corner I will fire on them, stay back."

I flipped over a secretary's desk and I prayed to God that two inches of solid oak was good enough to be bullet proof...



----East Rostov 0800 Hours-----



"I bet right now, you wish you were the guy with the rifle, Ivan. I guess I'm luckier than you,” said the tall conscript as a smile stretched across his face.

"Well, Mikhail, I bet you will not be so lucky when I smash this ammo magazine through your skull."

"... On that note lets go this way."

Ivan had been paired off with a school teacher from Kursk, a tall, and thin man in his thirties named Mikhail. He had gone to University and gotten his degree in Science and he was one of the smartest men Ivan had ever met or possibly would ever meet. Mikhail could explain even complex things in very basic ways and he always thought things through even when under pressure. The Germans should cower in fear of Ivan's brutal strength paired off with the intellect of Mikhail.

Mikhail and Ivan crouched low to the ground as they worked their ways through the back alleys of the once grand city. As far as Ivan could tell, they had made their way northeast. Luckily, they have encountered little resistance thus far.

“So, Ivan, where did you used to liv-”. Suddenly Ivan stopped cold in his tracks.

"Mikhail! Quiet! I hear German infantry!” Whispered the grizzled veteran as he put his back to the wall.

"Should I shoot?"

"No, give me a moment."

Turning the corner to the left, a small group of German soldiers came into their view. The enemy soldiers were sitting on a pile of bricks of what used to be a wall with their guns slung over their shoulders. Many of them were smoking and laughing as though they hadn't laughed in forever. Ivan slowly opened a window in the building behind the Germans. Luckily it was an apartment building with many windows. Ivan moved swiftly through the hallway into the kitchen. It's wall had been blown open by a German tank shell, opening up into the alleyway.
Now that they were closer, Ivan saw that there were only three Germans there. He looked back and could see Mikhail ready with his rifle. Ivan motioned to Mikhail with hand signals and mouthed silently, “On the count of three, you will fire, I will kill”.
Mikhail took aim at the soldier farthest from Ivan while Ivan grabbed a liquor bottle off the counter and menacingly gripped his standard-issued can opener in the other hand. Ivan raised the bottle in the air and nodded it forward three times.
Mikhail fired his Mosin Negant, the recoil knocking him on his ass. However, the bullet found its way into the Germans neck, severing the man's jugular and wind pipe. The German soldier reached up and tried to hold his throat as he fell on to his knees, arterial spray spraying out between his fingers. The rest of the German soldiers turned around with their guns drawn on Mikhail, but Ivan was as quick as lightning.
Ivan quickly smashed the bottle over one Germans head knocking him unconscious, and with great brutality stabbed the other man in the right eye with his can opener. As the dying man reached up and held tightly on the grizzled Russian's neck, Ivan grabbed the young man's Hitler Youth knife and slashed his throat. Blood splattered all over Ivan and the unconscious man. Mikhail then ran forward to Ivan, who was watching the vain attempts of the bleeding soldier who was shot still trying to save his own life. Finally, the German soldier fell over on his side dead, staring right at the blood-covered Russian .

Shocked, Mikhail exclaimed, "Holy hell Ivan!"

"What? You had the gun and I have nothing. What did you want me to do, stand there and wave at them?"

"Yeah, but I mean... wow."

"It is such a pity though. What a waste of good vodka." Ivan said as he placed the bloody knife in his belt.

"Ivan, what do we do with this one? Should I shoot him and end his misery?"

"No, I have a better idea,” he said as he lifted the man out of the street and dragged him back into the blown out apartment building. Mikhail helped Ivan take the man to the living room of the apartment where art decorated the walls, as red embers and ashes continued spreading smoke from the fireplace. Ivan sat him down in a chair and, taking off the German's over coat, he began cutting the coat into strips and braiding them into rope.

“Looks like those many years I had worked pulling anchor chains for a living have finally come in handy. You know, I used to be a shipwright.”

"Heh, would've never guessed,” commented Mikhail before continuing on.

“So, what is our plan now Ivan?"

"Simple. He tells us where his friends are and then we kill them. Now find me something to gag him with."

Ivan began tying the man to the chair using the strips he had cut. Mikhail walked into the blown out kitchen where he quickly found a dish rag to use for a gag and a toolbox from the cabinets. Satisfied, he brought back what he found to Ivan.

"Wake up," said Ivan as he slapped the German.

"Wake up!" Ivan angrily grabbed the German by the collar and shook him.

"Ooo ... meinem Kopf...” Groaned the middle-aged German soldier as he slowly recovered consciousness before realizing where he was. Immediately the soldier started to yell before Ivan punched him right in the jaw and Mikhail held the gag over the prisoner's mouth.
“Quiet you dirty scoundrel.”
Ivan then looked at Mikhail and asked, "You speak any German?"

"Very little, think he said his head hurts."

"Go figure. Now, ask him where the nearest German infantry barracks is."

"Wo ist der Deutsch-Kaserne?" Mikhail then removed the gag from the imprisoned soldier's mouth.

"Fick dich!"

"Um, he says F**K you..."

Ivan open the tool box and found a hammer. "Tell him I'm not a nice person."

"Dieser Mann ist verrückt wird er dich töten"

The  German shot back with a look, "Fick dich, fick deine Mutter, zur Hölle fahren und sterben!"

"Still more of the same thing."

"Hold his hand out, Mikhail." Mikhail did so as Ivan replaced the gag. Ivan then raised the hammer and smashed the Germans wrist. Pain shook through the prisoner's body as he tried to yell through the dirty dish towel.

Ivan then briefly removed the gag and said, "Now, ask him nicely again, Mikhail.”

"Wo ist der Deutsch-Kaserne?"

"NEIN!"

Ivan quickly replaced the gag and with great force then smashed the Nazi's ring finger, severing it from his hand. The prisoner let out a sharp cry of pain as he uncontrollably continued to yell out in pain. Annoyed, Ivan punched the man in the face, quieting him for the moment. Ivan then removed the gag again and then gestured to Mikhail.

"Wo ist der Deutsch-Kaserne?"

"Norden ... Bitte ich habe eine familie. Bitte, hab Erbarmen mit mir."

"He says its north, and he has a family. He asks for you to have mercy on him."

"I once too had a family, then you vermin came."

Ivan gripped the Hitler Youth knife and with great force thrust it into the prisoner's chest, puncturing his heart. Blood began to pool around Ivan's fingers, soaking the German's shirt in scarlet red. His eyes turned skyward and gazing over at Mikhail, his entire body went limp.



--Chapter two-- Blood



The Soviet Russians, as Hitler had told us, are nothing more than subhuman degenerates. They, like the gypsies and Jews, are evil to the core and should be wiped out from this earth. Yet, I couldn't understand it. My best friend growing up was Jewish. He and I lived together in the same neighborhood, played together often, and even both our fathers had went to fight in The Great War together. I never saw them do anything evil.

Even the Russians, of whom I've heard many stories about, weren't evil. I had only seen one up close and he was a simple farmer, who said he was only defending his country.

The days have gone on and on as I waited for the order for us to continue our advance, but for now we waited. Bored, I began thinking about the coming batle, reports had gone out about the fighting north of here, our army was outnumbered, but better equiped. I thought back to when I was a child, particularly when I was watching a large group of ants swarm a cricket and devour it. I feared this steel box would be my grave.

"Quit day-dreaming Lorenz,” said my commanding officer as he approached me.

"Right. Sorry sir. New orders?"

"We're to move and clear the southern section of Rostov. The Russian army is landing more troops and we're to set up a line of defense for the camp."

Our leader's name was Second Lieutenant Sam Beck, he was the son of an English luxury car salesmen who worked for Rolls-Royce and his mother was German who worked as a Professor at the University of Berlin. He was a man in his late twenties, Sam was a charismatic person, could talk to anyone and gain their trust instantly. His style of leadership was something of the old times, back before planes and tanks when a man would ride a horse into a fight instead of a half-track. Like most of us he was fighting for Germany, not for the ideals of Hitler and his 'final solution'.

"Go grab Wilhelm. We need him on the MG34. And stop it with your constant day-dreaming. Keep it up and you'll get shot by me instead of the Ivans," said the omniscient officer as he started looking at a battle map with other officers.

"Yes Sir," I replied.

I got off the half-track and dusted off my sickly Green-clad uniform as I headed over to the other men. Many of them were relaxing, kicking around a football, smoking and just chatting. I looked specifically at one muscular man who was kicking the ball around the other players. Wilhelm's only true love in life was sports. He was a boxing and track champ back when he went to school. I once saw him throw his knife and kill a man from thirty meters. If there was any man in this army I did not ever want to get in a fist fight with, it was Wilhelm. I think he's about twenty seven, though he had not told us. He was tall and strongly built, Wilhelm was not very social, usually keeping his thoughts to himself. He also had a short temper that often got him into trouble. He was possibly the best warrior I have ever met, a soldier that even Odin would have taken notice of.

"Frank, Wilhelm, Orders!"

A smile much like a cat who had caught his mouse came across Frank's face. Frank was the only man I had ever seen smiling happily while shooting at the enemy. For any normal man, he takes too much pleasure in the misery of others. He was a short man who was very skinny, easily-angered, and generally hated everything and everyone. Honestly, I never wanted to be alone with the guy. He used to always stare at me when he sharpened his knives.

"Load up men. Will, you're on the MG."

"Lorenz have you seen 'Clanc'?"

"Yeah Will, he should be back at the half-track by now," I said, honestly unsure of myself.

Nevertheless, we went back to the armored vehicle we called 'Home' and clambered inside. Frank and Sam took their seats as in the back as Wilhelm headed up front and started cycling  the ammunition box into the MG34. I closed the rear doors and headed to take my position in the front cab. As I seated myself, Wilhelm turned to me and said,

"I thought you said 'Clanc' was here?"

Suddenly, a voice right next by to me said,

"I'm here Wilhelm. It only took me two seconds to get here.”

I looked up to see 'Clanc' patting Wilhelm on the helmet. I just stared in complete disbelief as he folded up his bed roll and climbed into the belly of the half track. I could hear yelling coming from the half-track right next to us. 'Clanc' then lifted his head up and yelled out,

“Aw, shut up already. Like your rolling bucket of bolts has any better use.”

He then looked towards us and said,

"Sorry, I was just trying to catch some sun on the hood of that piece of junk over there. Now where's my rifle?"

Where do I begin about describing Heinrich 'Clanc' Fürstenbrunn... Of all things, he's an oddball to say the least. He gave himself the nickname 'Clanc' because he always said that 'the sound of a spent shell being ejected from my rifle, would be the last thing my enemies would ever hear.' For a sniper, he was fairly tall, which complemented his muscular body. His blonde hair and and blue eyes marked him as almost the spitting-image of a perfect Aryan.

I do not honestly know much about him. In fact, he just popped up one day when we were moving through the countryside during Operation Barbarossa, saying that he had gotten himself lost trying to find Moscow. He adopted us like a stray puppy you spend all morning trying to ditch somewhere. He spends most of his time laying outside, watching the clouds roll by and listening to the peaceful harmony of nature. Simple pleasures of the simple folk, I guess.

As Clanc hopped into the driver's seat, I explained our orders and the exact directions of where we we were heading. Despite Clanc being a man who got lost with a map and a compass looking for the largest city in Russia, Sam had made him the driver of our half-track. Why the lieutenant did so, I'll never know.

I had served with these men for a few months now, many of them veterans from numerous campaigns. Being in a mechanized division, I was assigned to be the navigator for their armored half-track. Their original navigator had lost his legs when he was strafed by a British fighter in North Africa while refueling the half-track. Having come straight out of basic training, I was fortunate enough to have joined the 1st Panzer Division when Operation Barbarossa had started earlier this summer.

We set off out of the camp with several other units of the 1st Panzer Division in tow right behind us. We crested up a hill that was just outside the city, and when we were about half a kilometer away from the city we could clearly see our target: the armored Russian train. We were too late.

The train was arriving, we stared at it as it seemed to go on forever; we estimated that there had to be at least fifty train cars. A few men jumped from the roof of the trains, and began unloading crates, while others were opening the doors to let out men clothed in brown uniforms. What seemed to be thousands of men began their barbaric assault into the city. Our German brethren who were already within the city immediately began to fire upon on the flood of men with their machineguns. This did not phase the Russians as they kept blindly moving forward, climbing over piles of their own dead. I watched as the horde of men soon overwhelmed the gun positions one by one like ants. I had a bad feeling about this battle, for these ants were men and their pincers fierce.

Without a doubt, our brethren needed our help. Lieutenant Sam stood up and waved a Panzer tank over. He told him to radio our status and what we were seeing. Our units broke formation and formed a line as we set across a wheat field heading southwest towards the train. As the last of the men were being released from the train, a light, misty rain shower began to pour down on us.

"Great! Now it's raining! And I just shined my boots today," I said unhappily.

"That is life Lorenz. Besides, your boots are far brighter than you are,” Clanc said as he then burst into laughter.

"Knock it off Clanc,” I responded, pushing him. “Come on, lets go."

Moving forward, we entered into the western part of the city. There, we entered into a small courtyard outside the government administration office. Our forces had seized it a few days ago and had turned it into the forward infantry barracks. As we stopped, an officer approached us and asked for our lieutenant.

Sam stood up and leaned over the side of the half-track and responded, “I'm here, what do you want?”

“We're preparing to retaliate against the Russian forces by making a push from the west, cutting the Reds off from the train depot. We'll need to reorganize your convoy with some of our own armor here.”

“If we're going to attack, we need to do it now. We can't just sit here and waste time figuring out who rides into battle first.”

The high-ranking officer scuffed at Sam's comment and said, “You wait for us to reorganize the convoy or you can step off that half-track and let someone else lead the convoy. End of discussion.” He then walked off, signaling for the other armored vehicles to move into position.

From there we reorganized our convoy. A Panzer II lead the convoy, followed three half-tracks, including our very own. Right behind us, we were leading four tanks, two of which were newly manufactured prototype tanks and were seeing combat for the first time, a Tiger I battle tank and the Panzerjäger Tiger, a self propelled tank destroyer.

Also with us were two Panzer II Flame tanks. The flamethrower tanks had been used to great efficiency when clearing some of the toughest holdouts of resistance in the city. The wheels of our Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 crunched over a sea of charred skulls and corpses that lay on the street as we exited the compound. Turning the corner, we began to head south towards the fighting. For several kilometers, we saw nothing but the empty, rubble-filled streets and the light rain falling on us. Suddenly, the sound of loud whistles rang into my ear. I knew that it was a signal used in most armies to signal an attack, however no men could be seen.

Suddenly, I heard light thud of a glass bottle breaking just above my head, followed by two more near the hood.

Puzzled, I asked “What was-” When Wilhelm began screaming. I looked up to see a blaze of fire wrapping itself around Will. Without hesitation, he dropped down from the machinegun as Sam quickly threw a tarp over him, snuffing out the flames. I then heard someone from one of the other half-tracks yell out, “Molotovs! Take cover!”

The Russian infantry had taken positions in the buildings around us, throwing glass bottles filled with a mix of used engine oil and petrol that they had corked with rags, once they lit they were a deadly weapon. I stood in shock as the sky around me rained fire and consumed the two half-tracks in front of us in a fiery blaze. The lead Panzer tank started aiming towards the rooftops, firing into one of the buildings as it moved backwards to try to get a better angle.

“Quick! Shoot them down before another barrage comes!” Ordered Lieutenant Beck as he took aim at the rooftops and picked off a Soviet with his Mauser. Frank started to do the same with his MP40 when an Panzerhandgranaten landed right nearby his feet.

Frank, not wasting a single moment yelled out, "MOVE!" He then barreled over the armor-plated side as the rest of us did the same. Just has we had rolled out of the half-track the AT grenade detonated, ripping open our half-track.

The flames all around us gave off an eerie backdrop to the scene unfolding before us. What seemed to be a hundred or so armed Russian soldiers were charging forward with their guns drawn. A large number of them crawled on top of the lead Panzer and were throwing grenades down inside of it. Our own soldiers on the ground, including myself, began firing wildly into the crowd as it inched closer to us.

Near the front I saw a tall Russian man in a black leather trench coat and sable hat. He ran closer towards us, keeping low to the ground. I aimed my MP40 to shoot him, but it clicked empty. As I tried to reload my gun, he grabbed me by my shirt collar. Thrusting me into a partially crushed cement column to my right, he pulled out a pistol and began to speak in my own tongue.

"It seems you German swine wish to crush my city. Well, I have news for you: your God is not here today! Your blood will be spilled by my hands! for Mother Russia! Remember the name Feliks Dyakov, I will kill you."

The Tiger tank behind us rotated it turret and placed a shell into the third story of the building to our left, brick and concrete shards rained down from above. A second resounding whistle rang out as several anti tank rockets barraged the flamethrower tanks to our rear. Flamethrower fuel canisters ignited, bursting into a fiery ball in the sky. The tank crews were crawling out of the hatches, still burning as they fell on the ground writhing in pain. Their screams throbbed my ears as I looked back. I expected to meet death but, the Russian was gone. Why had he not killed me?

"Retreat! Fall back to the forward barracks!" Sam yelled.

Clanc and the others got up to their feet, quickly jumping over the burning men, and allowing the Panzerjäger direct line of fire on the Russian occupied structures. The Tiger and the Panzerjäger began shelling the buildings while retreating backward into more open territory through the now heavy rain. What remained of convoy immediately hightailed it northwest, back to the forward barracks.

Even as the tanks pulled back into the courtyard, anti-tank rockets were still flying at them from nearby buildings. The Panzerjäger took aim at the lower floor of one of the nearest buildings and fired rounds at the weak points of it, causing the building to collapse onto the street while other soldiers finished off the survivors. For the moment, we had halted the Soviet advance.

Right then, I started looking around for my squad when I finally found them, resting as a medic treated Wilhelm's burn marks. Lucky for him, the burns weren't bad enough for him to stay out of the fight for long.

I assumed that now we would be fighting on foot from now on. Yet, despite all then men around us, as I stood in the rain, I felt we were all alone.



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