Rogovaya Obmanka

The trucks were parked at the lawn of Rogovaya Obmanka town square. Sergeant Major Gabriel was leading a team setting up the wireless. Captain Gates waved Evans to follow him to the side of the road.

Captain Gates waved down a passing truck which pulled to a stop next to him. The Corporal leaned out, “What you want Sir?”

“Why’s everyone driving away from the front?”

“General chaos I reckon Sir. Vledscans broke through. We’re getting the heck outta here Sir. You should too Sir. They’re tailing. Could be here in a few hours Sir. Whole front’s collapsed Sir. My Colonel told me to run Sir. Before her truck went up Sir. Now if we could get going Sir?”

“Right Corporal, carry on then,” Captain Gates walked back to Sergeant Major Gabriel, “Any word from Regiment?”

“Your discretion Captain. They’ll try to get back when they have word from Newacre, but it sounds like we’re the first to hear about this.”

“Alright Sergeant Major, thank you. Tell the platoon to start getting battle ready. Evans, I want you to find an officer who has just come from the front to talk to me. I’ll be touring the town looking for good defensive positions,” Captain Gates waved at Turner, “Sergeant Turner, find somewhere to set up an MG nest on the Southeast road. Alida Canina can inspect First and Sergeant Hardin can inspect Second. Let’s move people.”

The Sergeants all responded with a, “Yes Sir,” and left to do their tasks.

Sergeant Evans jogged back over to the road and started looking for officers. Not many had made it back from the front. Evans finally saw a truck with a Lieutenant in the cab. Evans stepped in front of it and waved, pointing to the square. The Lieutenant nodded and waved to some trucks behind hers. The Private driving turned the truck and parked it in the square. The Lieutenant hopped out after two more trucks pulled in. Evans Saluted, “Sergeant Evans, 202nd Infantry Ma’am.”

The Lieutenant returned the salute. She looked out of sorts. She was wearing her skirt, but had her helmet on. She had a headset on tucked in underneath her helmet with an unplugged cable running behind. Her pistol belt was missing and Evans could see the matching pistol stuffed into the waistband of her skirt. She lowered her hand and responded, “Lieutenant Welch, 127th Infantry. You need something?”

“My Captain wants to speak with you Lieutenant.”

“Fine Sergeant. Make it quick. My platoon needs to find the rest of the 127th.”

“Righto Ma’am,” Evans then led the Lieutenant to where the Captain was inspecting the town, “CAPTAIN! I found a Lieutenant coming off the front!”

“Thank you Sergeant,” Captain Gates turned to Lieutenant Welch, “Captain Gates, and you?”

Snapping to attention and saluting, the Lieutenant responded, “Lieutenant Welch, 127th Infantry.”

Gates ignored the salute and continued, “What’s the situation at the front Lieutenant?”

“Chaos Captain. We barely even reached the front by the time we started running. With shells raining down, my Colonel told us to pull out. Since then, I have only managed to keep my eyes on my platoons trucks and my Company’s Machine Gun squad. I am just keeping us going until we find someone else from the 127th.”

“And the Vledscans?”

“Nipping at our heals Captain. Three or four hours at most.”

Captain Gates nodded for a few seconds, “Want to make a stand here?”

“I need to find my Regiment Captain.”

“Well, if you make a stand, they’ll find you in the history books.”

“I cannot just order my soldiers to their deaths. We would be facing the brunt of their army. And all we would do is slow them down for a few hours.”

“Miss Welch, our army is in shambles. If the Vledscans catch up while we’re in this state, they could break the whole thing. Punch even further through our lines. Lose us the war,” Captain Gates smiled, “But, we can buy our army an extra hour of two to recover. So what do you say? Want to be a hero?”

“I guess I could wait for my regiment here. I technically have no orders right now Captain,” Lieutenant Welch smiled, “I have with me a full platoon of infantry and my Company’s machine gun team with two medium machine guns.”

“Good, and I’m about done with my survey, let’s head back to our little staging area and plan things out. Maybe get some more soldiers to join us.”

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Deployment

“ALRIGHT KIDS! LET’S GO!” Sergeant Major Gabriel was shouting. Everyone was scrambling to load the trucks

Evans shook hands with Johnson, “You take command while I’m in the cab. I know, real exciting.”

“Yes Sergeant, I wish I knew how to drive.”

“Hit me up after the war, I’ll teach you with my truck at my family’s farm,” Evans smiled before he walked to the cab of the truck. He took a seat behind the wheel. Captain Gates sat next to him and pulled out the map.

“Start the truck Sergeant, and you know the way out of the compound?”

“Yes Sir,” Evans replied while starting up the truck.

“Good. We’ve got three towns to clear before nightfall. Now give me your bayonet.”

Unclipping the bayonet frog from his belt, Evans handed the scabbard to Captain Gates.

Captain Gates drew the long sword bayonet out of its scabbard, leaned out the window and waved to the other truck with the bayonet, “ALRIGHT! IS EVERYONE LOADED UP? NOW LET US GO FORTH!” He then pointed the bayonet forward.

Evans put the truck in drive and started towards the exit of the compound. Captain Gates put the bayonet away and opened up the map, “Take a right after the main gate, then we’ll stay on the road for a few dozen kilometers till Junction 106. Then we’ll head east until Junction 288. With that, it will be Northeast until we hit some town that the map calls Rogovaya Obmanka. It’s a crossroads town, so it has a direct route to our next one. We should get to town at about eight. Two hours generous for clearing it.”

“Sounds good Lieutenant,” Evans nodded as he turned right out of the main gate, “Can you give me directions on the way, Sir?

“Yes Sergeant. And there should be some road signs pointing the general direction.”

 

As the platoon got closer and closer to Rogovaya Obmanka, Evans started to notice more and more traffic coming towards them. He looked over at Captain Gates, “Any reason why we’d get this much traffic coming from the front Sir? I thought we had a big advance right now.”

“Yeah, well, we can pull over an officer once we get into Rogova… Rogo. Whatever it is, we should hook up the wireless when we get there and report this in. Maybe Regimental has news on this.”

Hospital

“Who are you here to see?” The orderly queried McGilligan and Nivelle.

“Sheppard, 202nd Infantry. She was admitted with a head injury.”

“She’s in the General Ward. Follow the signs. Bed 16.”

McGilligan nodded and dragged Nivelle along. She felt ridiculous, dragging along a man twice her size like a little kid. He was still mopey. Though the General Ward was good. That meant she wasn’t dead. Or they hadn’t updated the paperwork. Once they got to the entrance to the ward, she looked up into his eyes, “You ready to go in Kid?”

He nodded.

McGilligan smiled and pushed open the door. They walked down the line of beds until they found Bed 16. Sheppard was sitting there, straining to read a book.

Nivelle smiled, “You’re alive!”

She looked at him and squinted, “Yes… Nivelle? And are you with McGilligan?”

“Yes… So, what do you know about what happened?” McGilligan asked Sheppard.

“Nothing. I went to bed last night and woke up here. The doctor told me we were on a hike and I hit my head. Everything’s blurry and I’ve been spending the last hour trying to read a page in this book.”

“Yeah,” McGilligan nodded, “Sergeant Evans wanted us to go hike to some hill. You were crossing a river, slipped, and smashed your head against a big rock. Bleeding pretty bad. Nivelle here jumped in and saved you while we were all standing around in shock. He had to swim upstream with you under his arm, keeping your head above water.”

“Thank you Nivelle. If you want anything. Anything at all. I will be happy to help. My Fiance would also probably lend his support in.”

“Just get better Shep,” Nivelle smiled and continued, “I’ll see you when the unit gets back.”

Sitting Around

Nivelle sat in the squad’s common area staring at the olive green canvas of the tent. The rest of the squad had gone to dinner. The rest of the squad minus Sheppard. She had gone straight to the base hospital. What if he had been too late? There were a few seconds where he had just stood there. What if that killed her? He had been staring at her and still had to register. If he couldn’t respond to something like this, how would he respond when he needed to run out and save someone in battle? At Third Tsiv he just remembered shooting and then running. He hadn’t been tested as those people say. He had just been there. What if when they went to the front next, he just froze? And got more people killed?

 

He felt a tap on his shoulder. McGilligan stood over him and said, “Hey kid. Want to visit the hospital with me? Check if Shep’s with us?”

“I don’t know. What if I was too late? What if I messed up and she’s dead because of me?”

“You see this scarf Nivelle?” McGilligan gestured to the scarf on her neck. It was a long dirty green scarf. Nivelle had noticed it. No matter where McGilligan went she wore it. It was always sitting around her neck.

“Yes Lance Corporal.”

“It didn’t use to be mine. When I first was assigned to my unit at the start of the war, my best friend was a private from the North. Smithie. She wore this scarf all the time. She thought it was cute. We did everything together,” McGilligan smiled, “We made plans to open up a book shop after the war. In Seahaven. You know, talk about books all week, then go to the beach all weekend. Repeat till we retire.” She took a deep breath, looked down, and started “At Second Tsiv, Smithie and I were in a shell hole. I tell her to take a dash to a machine gun nest to see if it still works… A shell hit… The only thing left was this scarf.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. It happens to everyone. And with your thing. No matter what happens to Shep, you’re a hero in my book. With me, I was scared. My best friend is dead because of me,” McGilligan started to tear up, “Now, you’ve made a woman cry. Why don’t you make her happy by going to the hospital to check on Sheppard?”