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[Anterra] When Angels Cry

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Poja
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Founded: Oct 11, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

[Anterra] When Angels Cry

Postby Poja » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:19 pm


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When Angels Cry

Image
Pool Monument, Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, California

.:.
Prologue
1968
O Holy Angel of God, guardian and protector of my soul and body, forgive me every transgression which I have committed this day.
Deliver me from all evil influences and temptations, so that I may not anger my God by any sin.
Pray for me that the Lord may make me worthy of His grace and to become partaker of His eternal Kingdom
with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints. Amen.





• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 19:30 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






For those viewers tuning into PTV on this Sunday evening, they found themselves watching the widely popular, weekly news show named Poja Investigates, an hour-long program that focused on exposés, whether of current or past events. Tonight's episode was the second in a three-part series on the ten-year, Pojan Emergency that began in 1964. The first episode, which had aired the week prior, had focused on the run-up to the Emergency and on the history of Poja. Tonight's episode picked up in 1968 when the Pojan Emergency morphed from a political and economic crisis into a full-blown conflict, namely the Chernarussian Conflict, a six-year conflict that ended in 1974, along with the Emergency.

After the title and the opening credits rolled, the viewers were treated to the presence of veteran reporter, Tin Petrovic, a fifty-six year old investigative journalist who'd been with PTV for the past thirty years. Petrovic had a smooth way of talking and he carried significant clout with the people of Poja because he was seen as honest and undeterred by ethnic tension. He was Adjinuan by birth but his wife was Liari, he a Roman Catholic and she a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. All throughout Poja, such relations were seen as problematic but in the eyes of the people, Petrovic somehow carried enough clout to avoid ridicule. He sat in a chair dressed sharply in a navy, pinstripe suit with a maroon tie, his hands folded in his lap with his wedding ring clearly visible. Behind him was a backdrop consisting of a photograph montage, each of the photographs in black and white and capturing a time not of the present. Looking at the camera, Petrovic began, reading a Teleprompter but so seamlessly that no one would know the difference.

"Good evening, this is part two of our three-part series on the Pojan Emergency, which lasted from nineteen-sixty-four to nineteen -seventy-four. In tonight's episode, we look at the six-year conflict known as the Chernarussian Conflict, Poja's first conflict as an organized nation and one that left deep scars on Pojan society. It came at the tail end of a four-year political crisis following the discovery of oil in the Chernarussian Autonomous Region. Chernarussian President Sergey Kolesnikov, an ardent Chernarussian nationalist, sought independence for Chernarus and he ran on this platform. Ultimately, when efforts to come to an agreement with Pojan President Petar Jovanovic failed and broke down beyond repair, Kolesnikov declared independence in nineteen-sixty-four.

"A four-year effort to avoid conflict fell to pieces when on the Fourth of March, Nineteen-Sixty-Eight, Pojan troops entered Chernarus with the intention of bringing the region back into the fold. The six-year conflict that resulted was, until two-thousand-and-ten, the bloodiest conflict in Pojan history with over twenty thousand soldiers and fifteen thousand civilians killed and as many as one million civilians displaced."
The one-minute lead-in provided by Petrovic set up the stage for the next segment, a short video of interlaced clips from the Chernarussian Conflict. It ran for just two and a half minutes but it showed the grim horrors of warfare captured in not only black and white but in color as well. Soldiers shouted for medics, artillery salvos were launched, civilians fled in terror, fighter jets buzzed overhead and dropped bombs on their targets, and throughout it all, a nation burned.

The camera changed to a tight frame of a graying man almost seventy years old. All that the viewer saw was his face, old and wrinkled from weather and time and his shoulders and tie. His shirt collar was buttoned tightly to his neck and he looked at the camera through bifocals that perched high on his nose. Across the bottom of the screen, he was introduced as Tomislav "Tom" Kovacic and he was a veteran of the 25th Motor Rifle Regiment (1968 - 1974).

Petrovic introduced him, his voice sympathetic, "Tomislav "Tom" Kovacic bore the rank of desetar, which was a relatively low rank, just grade three on an eight-grade scale. He was among the first soldiers into Chernarus in nineteen-sixty-eight and he was one of the last to leave six years later. Tom has been awarded the Order of the Pojan Star, our nation's highest medal for bravery, not once but twice, making him one of only nine people who have received the award more than once. He was wounded several times over those six years but he refused medical evacuation, leaving the conflict as a starji vodnik, a grade seven rank."

The camera focused closely on Kovacic's face and he began speaking. The editing had removed the question by Petrovic because it wasn't necessary. "I was nineteen, actually it wasn't yet my nineteenth birthday, when we went into Chernarus. My unit was a motorized rifle company. We had one hundred and ten men in that company organized into three rifle platoons, one heavy weapons platoon, and the company headquarters. There were twelve BTRs in the company. I was in Alpha Squad, First Platoon. Each squad consisted of nine men and each platoon had three squads with the platoon commander.

"I'll never forget that Sunday so long as I will live,"
Kovacic's face changed as he remembered that day, some forty years earlier, as if it had only just happened hours earlier. The viewer could see the change in the way he stared at the camera, the way his eyes focused, and they could see how this Liari, who was not even nineteen yet, had seen the horrors of war before he'd known what life was. "It was cold, very cold. The temperature may have only been two degrees and it was raining, well misting. The air was water and it was the kind of cold mist that just hung there, drenching everything slowly. You thought that you would be dry and then fifteen minutes later you were soaked and shivering and you didn't know how it happened.

"I'll never forget it. We were inside of the BTR, warm because of the diesel engine and its heater but scared. We could see nothing from inside and we were the lead vehicle. My squad leader was named Ivica. He was twenty-four and we looked at him like he was forty-four. My squad consisted of a vehicle driver and a vehicle gunner, a machine gunner, a grenadier, three riflemen, a marksman, and our commander. One of the riflemen acted as a medic. My job was as a rifleman and assistant grenadier, which meant that I had to lug extra rifle grenade rounds for the grenadier. We used the AKM assault rifle, the grenadier the RPG-7, the sniper an old bolt-action rifle, an RPK light machine gun, and some people carried pistols, our BTR crew and the grenadier, and the commander, and the sniper. I had only my assault rifle.

"Our BTR had a large machine gun in a turret on the roof and a smaller machine gun next to it, a coaxial gun as we called it. We had five hundred rounds for the big gun and three thousand for the smaller gun. That sounds like a lot but it isn't…"


• • • • ‡ • • • •


Sunday, 4th March 1968 | 06:30 hrs [PST]

Noyarovsk, Chernarus, Poja | Noyarovsk-Horovo Border Checkpoint






The BTR-60PB jolted as the driver gave extra pressure on the accelerator pedal. The armored personnel carrier needed some extra gas to maintain its speed as it surmounted a slight incline. The vehicle was the first of a twelve-vehicle convoy leading Pojan government forces into the breakaway Chernarussian Autonomous Region. Five kilometers behind these vehicles there were another twenty-four BTRs in two groups of twelve, the rest of the battalion's motorized rifle companies. Trucks carrying the rest of the battalion's units were further behind them. The whole battalion consisted of five hundred and twenty-five men in eighty-four vehicles, fifty of them armored BTRs. Yet this battalion, like the vehicle up front, the platoon behind it, and the company further behind it, was just another segment of a larger unit. This was the 25th Motor Rifle Regiment, consisting of twenty-five hundred and twenty-three men across three motor rifle battalions, a tank battalion, and all of the support battalions, companies, and platoons that made up the regiment.

The tip of the spear was that single, BTR-60P and its nine-man crew in the lead but it was part of a much larger fighting force that made up the Pojan Ground Forces, much of which had been committed to the invasion of Chernarus. The squad was led by Vodnik Ivica Stankic, the twenty-four year old "father" figure to the eight men underneath him. Driving the BTR was Mladi vodnik Ognjen Lukic and manning its heavy gun was Desetar Slobodan Vukovic. The squad's machine gunner with his RPK was Desetar Branimir Jovanovic and the grenadier was Razvodnik Filip Jovanovic. The senior rifleman and assistant squad leader was Mladi vodnik Zdravko Ilic and Desetar Tomislav "Tom" Kovacic was the second rifleman and assistant grenadier. Acting as rifleman and medic was Desetar Ljubomir Miloševic and last, but not least, the sniper of the squad was Desetar Gordan Kovac. Most of them were between the ages of eighteen and twenty with only Ivica being over twenty-two. He was just twenty-four and yet so much older than the rest of his squad.

On the radio came the voice of their platoon leader, Potporucnik Borivoj Milic. He was just twenty-one but he'd completed the officer candidate school and thus he bore the rank of officer, grade 1. "Stankic, your vehicle is approaching the checkpoint, is it not?"

"Yes it is,"
Stankic responded, "do you have instructions?"

"Proceed forward at all costs."

"Is there resistance expected?"

"Unknown at this time,"
Milic responded, which was far from a comforting response. The border checkpoint was just three kilometers away and Stankic's vehicle was ascending an incline, which made it very vulnerable since its gun could not depress far enough to strafe anyone close to the ground. An RPG team could easily knock out the BTR and kill the nine men inside. It was for that reason that the men were on edge. They were the first vehicle into Chernarus and the one most likely to take hostile fire. Command hadn't been able to assemble much in the way of reconnaissance for the border crossing and so this unit was more on a "reconnoiter by force" mission than it was on something better planned and better orchestrated. The three BTR-60PBs would, if hostile forces had prepared an ambush, come under heavy fire. The aim would be to prevent the remaining column pass easily down the main road and thus force them off-road where more ambushes and potentially mines were likely to be placed.

According to the men in these BTR-60PBs, it was unusual that they and not the regiment's tanks were leading the way. The regiment had forty T-62 tanks but those were arranged only after the first motorized rifle battalion. It would be thirty-six BTR-60PBs first and then the T-62s with their bigger, 115-millimeter cannons instead of the 12.7-millimeter DShKs and 14.5-millimeter KPVTs of the BTRs. These BTR-60PBs represented the most modern vehicles in the Pojan Ground Forces and yet they were nothing more than armored trucks with eight wheels and a few millimeters of welded steel between the passengers and the outside. A heavy machine gun with armor-piercing ammunition could easily penetrate the hull of the BTR-60PB and riddle its passengers with no effort. In some places, the armored was even too thin to protect against the 7.62x39mm rounds of the AKM though these were mainly unreachable spots for someone carrying an AKM. Generally speaking however, the passengers inside were protected against the assault rifle rounds of the AKM and the RPK.

The ground underneath the BTR-60PB evened out and it did just in time as the border checkpoint came into view. Under the Pojan Confederacy, travel between the regions was considered free and open but the Chernarussians had built a series of border checkpoints in the past four years, a major grievance for Rugi. These border checkpoints were staffed mainly by militiamen organized into squads of similar size to the squads in the motorized rifle platoons, that being nine men. They were given similar weapons as well but the general assumption on the Chernarussian Militia was that it was mostly inexperienced volunteers rather than the trained military units that had defected to Chernarus in the past four years. Still, even an untrained sixteen-year-old with an RPG could kill nine men and so the BTRs couldn't rush towards the border checkpoint but rather approach it cautiously, the gunner ready to lay waste to anyone who appeared hostile.

Vukovic had his eyes glued to the sighting system, which was focused on the border checkpoint approximately fifteen hundred meters forward. "What do you see Vukovic?" Stankic asked as he too put his eyes on the target from his own sighting system, a simple periscope that allowed him to look all around the vehicle without exposing himself through the roof or side hatches.

"Nothing, it looks very quiet," Vukovic answered.

"Don't trust it," Vukovic nodded in his sight to the words of his squad leader but he did not answer. He kept his eyes pinned to the sight and his sweating hands on the trigger. His weapon selection was the main gun and the fifty rounds of 14.5x114mm bullets were locked, loaded, and ready to go. Each one could easily tear through the border checkpoint and lay it to waste but there were only fifty ready to go at any time. The remaining four hundred and fifty were arranged and easily accessible on nine belts but each one would have to be hooked up to continue firing the KPVT heavy machine gun.

Suddenly, as the vehicle approached eight hundred meters, Vukovic saw movement. It was just a flash but it was a scrambled flash, someone crouching low, moving behind a sandbagged emplacement that would provide them with cover. In those brief few moments, Vukovic wasn't sure if what he saw was really what he saw and he began to doubt himself, so quick was the movement in his scope. "I think, I thought, I saw something." He said, his voice trembling.

"Well did you or didn't you?" Stankic asked over the intercom.

"I did, behind the sandbags to the right of the road."

"Okay one second,"
Stankic moved his sight over and began to look. The BTR-60PB was approaching the checkpoint at only 20 km/h and that meant a distance of eight hundred meters would take just under three minutes to traverse. Thus, they had time but not too much time. "If they're there, they are keeping their heads down. Wait a moment," he switched radio channels, " Milic, this is Stankic, we may have movement ahead. Do we have permission to fire spotting rounds?"

"Negative Stankic, you must have visual confirmation of the enemy."

"Ten-four,"
Stankic answered, slightly disappointed. He'd wanted to order a few rounds fired into the sandbags, just to see if anyone emerged but that was denied and in these early days of the conflict, orders were paramount. "No go Vukovic until you see hostiles."

"Okay, I'll keep looking,"
and Vukovic did just that and the vehicle passed the five hundred meter mark. From this point onward, the BTR-60PB was within "close range" of the border checkpoint. Heavy machine guns had ranges in excess of one kilometer but the RPG-7 didn't have an effective range under two hundred meters though its maximum range, which the BTR-60PB was now within, extended out to five hundred meters. Poja's grenadiers weren't really trained to fire at maximum range and they wouldn't want to anyway for fear of giving up their position too soon. However, Chernarus' militiamen were not as disciplined and truth be told, they were terrified. Like the men in the approaching BTR-60PB, they were at the tip of the spear and like the men in the BTR, they were young, younger in fact with the oldest of the nine being just nineteen years old. Most of them were teenagers still, fifteen and sixteen years old. They'd joined the militia because they wanted to be heroes, they wanted to see war, and they wanted to defend Chernarussian sovereignty.

They were fools. Vukovic saw the fifteen-year-old Boris Bobrov peek above the sandbags once more. By now, the vehicle was within three hundred meters of the checkpoint. Bobrov, nervous and itching to fire his RPG-7, was trying to keep an eye on the BTR's approach. He thought that it might be close enough to shoot at but he wasn't sure. His training course had lasted only a few days, during which time he fired the RPG-7 only once as they needed to conserve ammunition. Earlier in the morning, hours before the BTRs approached, he'd picked up the heavy tube and rammed down the PG-7V grenade, perhaps a little too hard but it had clicked into place and all appeared fine. He'd been told to employ the weapon at ranges of one hundred meters or less, where the probability of a hit was over 95%. He would have to account for the wind and the misting rain, something which he'd only been given a short lesson on but he figured that he would not miss. The BTR was a big vehicle.

"Now I see him, he's there," Vukovic said.

"I saw him too, open fire, that is an order." Stankic said, giving the order that unleashed the first rounds of the Chernarussian Conflict. Vukovic hardly waited before he squeezed on the trigger of the KPVT heavy machine gun. The rounds were well-sighted and tore through the sandbags with no effort. They kept going and the young, fifteen-year-old Boris Bobrov was caught right in the chest. His body flew backwards as the rounds' kinetic energy bore into his body, tearing it to pieces.

The firing of the KPVT was loud inside of the BTR and it took everyone but Vukovic and Stankic by surprise. Kovacic nearly fell out of his seat, so startled was he. The ten rounds that barked out of the machine gun were the loudest ten rounds they would ever hear and the scariest. That brought the conflict home to them and told them that this was no training exercise and no civil action.

The border checkpoint was peppered with machine gun fire from the other BTRs as well and before the lead BTR-60PB reached the other side, all nine militiamen defending it were dead. They'd not even fired a single shot in anger, caught instead by surprise and frozen in place by the fear that accompanied the loud banging of the KPVT heavy machine guns. The dismounts from Alpha Squad poured out of the lead BTR when it finally came to a stop and there, Kovacic and the rest came face-to-face with the grim horrors of war. They searched the outpost and looked at the mutilated, dead corpses of the nine men - boys really - defending the checkpoint. They'd all been cut down and left in horrific poses. Kovacic vomited just a meter from one of them as the smell of copper and feces filled his nostrils, all the while hearing in the back of his head, "Welcome to Chernarus…"



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:34 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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• The Confederacy of Poja •

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Poja
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Founded: Oct 11, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:50 pm



• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 19:30 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






The camera flashed back to Petrović who continued to narrate. "In the earliest hours of the ground conflict, Pojan troops easily crossed over the border of Chernarus. Casualties were light but this was all part of the Chernarussian battle plan, as history would later come to uncover. The Chernarussian generals, virtually all of them militia commanders, had concocted a battle plan focused not on resisting the incoming Pojan Army but rather on a tactic of prolonged insurgency. Knowing that they could not go toe-to-toe with the Pojan conventional forces, Chernarussian forces provided minor resistance at the border crossings and then fell back into the towns, villages, and cities, utilizing the terrain and urban environments to their benefit."

The camera panned back to Kovačić who shrugged off something of a vacant expression as he looked deep into the past and recalled what happened some forty years earlier. "We took our first casualty on our eighth day in combat. We were in the town of Kyrovsk, a small town, maybe a thousand residents, maybe not even that many. The main thrust of the army was going towards Novigrad but we were on a separate axis heading towards Chernogorsk, which was far to the east. We'd met little resistance on the way but we also bypassed the major cities of Kirovograd and Miroslavl'.

"We still had about forty kilometers to go before we reached Chernogorsk and army intelligence had told us that a major militia leader was encamped in Kyrovsk and trying to hide from the army. It was our job to go in and capture him, alive preferably. Our company was tasked with the job but once again, we were lead squad going into the town. I'll never forget it.

"The town was in a valley and there was a small stream that bisected it. It was kind of a typical Pojan town. There would have been a lot of flowers in the spring and the summer, beautiful autumn colors in the later months. It was still too early for this and the stream was not yet at its full height because the snow had yet to melt off of the mountains. The town itself was mainly small houses, single-story mainly but there were a few, taller structures in the center of the town but none over three stories.

"We were supposed to enter the town at dawn but we'd been delayed en route when one of our BTRs suffered mechanical issues. Our company commander did not want us to go alone so he held up our convoy for four hours while they fixed the BTR. So instead of entering at 06:00, we were there at 10:00 and in broad daylight. There wasn't a cloud in the sky on that morning and the color was that deep blue that you see on only the clearest of days. The temperature had warmed up some but it was still cold and we were still wearing extra layers. Actually I think that was the only thing that prevented Jovanović from dying."

"Which Jovanović, you said there were two?"
Petrović interrupted and to this, Kovačić smirked.

"My apologies, we called Branimir Jovanović but we called Filip Jovanović-ski because you see he was actually a quarter Chernarussian. His grandmother on his mother's side was Chernarussian but she was Eastern Orthodox instead of Russian Orthodox so her family had moved to Liaria. We're talking the early 1900s when this happened, when attitudes toward religion were much different than they are now. Back then, the Chernarussians weren't so kind to the Eastern Orthodox adherents. They called them 'Liari sympathizers' or something of that nature. It was ridiculous really but we're talking over a hundred years ago. Attitudes have changed."

"Yes they have,"
Petrović said, "I apologize then for the interruption, please continue…"

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Tuesday, 12th March 1968 | 10:00 hrs [PST]

Kyrovsk, Chernarus, Poja | Town of Kyrovsk






Kyrovsk was quiet on this particular morning and it was evident from the first moment that the BTRs entered the town that they'd been warned of their coming, likely from a recon team stationed on the main road a few klicks back. Kovačić shifted uneasily in his seat, finding the padding less than comfortable. He'd spent more time in the BTR the past eight days than in all of his time in training combined, which made him sick of the odor of motor oil and diesel fumes, the coldness of the metal, and the discomfort of the thin, foam padding under his rear. He'd heard of guys complaining of sores in other units but until now he never really understood how that could happen. Now he wanted to steal a pillow from some villager just so he could sit on something more comfortable. He'd heard of that happening too, which was what made him think of it at that moment.

Stankić, commanding the BTR and the squad, had called for a slower advance into the town, fearing an ambush. Smoke billowed from a few chimneys but far fewer than would have been normal on a day like today. Shops were closed up, curtains drawn, and there was no activity out on the streets whatsoever. It made Stankić nervous because he knew than an RPG team could be hiding anywhere. "Lukić stop here," he finally said after they'd gone about two hundred meters into the town. The BTR lurched to a halt as Lukić stepped a little too hard on the brake pedal. "All right squad, we're going to go on foot. I don't want some RPG taking us all out in one shot."

"Aye Vodnik,"
came the chorus from the rear and the ramp dropped. Within seconds, Stankić and his six dismounts were outside of the vehicle and the ramp was shutting, leaving just Lukić and Vuković inside.

Stankić picked up the two-way phone on the rear of the BTR and waited on the other end to hear the voice of his driver. "Let's take it slowly up this way, nothing heroic. They're waiting for us here."

"Aye Vodnik,"
came the reply and the BTR slowly moved forward. Stankić kept his men close and they moved up behind the BTR-60P as it moved up an otherwise normal road. There were no cars parked on either side, those having been moved, yet another indicator that the town's residents knew of their coming. They were heading towards the main part of the town in hopes of isolating the center while other squads sealed off the town's exits. It was up to Stankić's squad to do the primary search for the militia commander, who they'd been told was holed up in the Hotel Kyrovsk, a small, two-story inn located in the center of the town. Getting to the Hotel Kyrovsk, on the other hand, was going to be the real adventure.

Moving up slowly, the BTR and Stankić's squad were on point. When the ambush happened, they were going to be the first group attacked, whether by machine gun fire or by RPG fire. Stankić knew that this would be so, which was why he pulled his squad mostly out of the BTR, in hopes that he wouldn't lose everyone in one punch. Using that vehicle for cover, they crossed through the outer streets and neighborhoods of Kyrovsk and yet all remained quiet. Everyone was too afraid to speak except for Kovačić who was simply too green to know any better. "Where is everyone?" He asked, innocently, stupidly.

To this, Jovanović-ski shushed him, "Be quiet dammit!"

Up front, Stankić snapped his fingers loudly but he said no more. He was like a father disciplining unruly children and the mere fear of his discipline was enough to bring the two of them in line. Further they went, approaching now the center of town. Stillness hung in the air and Stankić could feel the small hairs on the nape of his neck grow excited. He knew something was coming but not what, where, or when. Halting the BTR approximately two hundred meters from the center of town, he called up his and the other squads behind them. They took a knee behind the lead BTR, using it for protection while Vuković trained the gun turret around looking for a target.

"All right, I don't like this but this is what we have in our hand. Kovačić you're on point with Jovanović-ski on back-up. We're probably going to encounter an ambush so if that happens I want everyone to hit the ground as hard as they can. If that happens, I want everyone to remember, we're going to suppress the OPFOR with grenades and break the ambush. Let them lay out there, wait for them to explode, and then we go. Jovanović, make sure you're ready with the RPK! All right, let's get going," Stankić said.

First Squad took point with Second Squad just behind them. The fourteen men moved out from the cover of the BTRs and, keeping low, moved up the road to the right side, advancing to a nearby house for cover. From there it was cover-to-cover until they made their way close to the town's square. The hairs on Stankić's neck had never flattened out and he continued to exist in a hyper vigilant state, looking everyone for anything that looked unnatural, anything that looked like a tube or a rifle barrel. He and his men looked for trip wires and mines and they looked for other man-made obstacles that would divert their course away from the one which they wanted to travel.

To this regard, there was nothing yet. Intel suggested that there was at least a company of men in the town but thus far, none of them had been spotted and the militia was hardly expected to be this disciplined. Encounters with the OPFOR were not as common though as these men had been led to believe. There had been sporadic firefighters with section-sized and squad-sized elements since breaking through the border but nothing larger. The expectation of a company-sized formation in Kyrovsk was far more than anything these men had seen before. In fact it was so large that command had allotted them helicopter support. Four Mil Mi-2RL Hoplite helicopters equipped with stretchers were available for medical evacuation and two Mil Mi-4AV Hound helicopters equipped with rockets for close air support were available.

Traversing the last few meters to the town's center, the two squads were now at their most heightened state of alert. No ambush had happened yet but one was bound to happen at any moment. Kovačić on point held and waited for the squads to be ready before he popped out around the corner of a building. In his hand, the wood and steel Kalashnikov felt like ten kilograms even though it was barely three-and-a-half.

Keeping in a crouch, Kovačić led the squad into the town's square and then off to the right, towards the Hotel Kyrovsk, where they expected their target to be. Behind him, Jovanović-ski had his RPG-7 shouldered, armed, and ready to go but not pointed at anything but the ground. Behind him came Jovanović with the RPK and approximately one hundred meters ahead of them loomed the Hotel Kyrovsk, which was situated on the other side of a roundabout. Kovačić focused on the building as he led the men closer and closer towards it, his rifle shouldered and aimed directly at the building. He walked towards it in a crouch, the body armor vest he wore coming up to and smacking him in the neck as he walked, a common problem with these vests. They were ten years old already and though they could stop a bullet from a pistol at point blank range or from a submachine gun at fifty meters or more, they had very crummy protection against rifle rounds. They were filled largely with aluminum and unpopular with the men because of their weight and the level of discomfort the wearer experienced when the ill-fitting vests were worn.

Approaching the roundabout, Kovačić halted to make sure he wasn't alone and to his relief, the men were right there with him. The roundabout featured a large statue of a Chernarussian horseman from some ancient battlefield and thus it provided cover for them. Utilizing that cover, Kovačić scanned the windows of the hotel and saw little to no activity. Two were open, both on the second floor but they were dark and curtains had been drawn across them. Deciding that it was time to move, lest they be caught by an RPG gunner, he moved out from around the statue with the rest of the men in tow but they wouldn't get far.

With an almost imperceptible breeze, one of the curtains in one of the opened windows drew slightly to the side and a black rifle barrel appeared. From this distance though, Kovačić couldn't see this and he kept the men moving forward. He did however, see the muzzle flash and hear the blast as a high-powered, sniper round tore through the air, missing him by only centimeters. "DOWN!" Kovačić shouted and then he screamed "BACK!" Yet in those few milliseconds, two things happened. The first was that Jovanović collapsed to the ground and the second was that Jovanović-ski raised his RPG right onto the window and fired. Not bothering to look at his back blast area or not, Jovanović-ski let that HEAT round loose so fast that the shooter had barely any time to register what was happening.

Jovanović, behind the RPG tube, who was already injured, was cast backwards and slightly burned by the hot, expanded gasses of the rocket's exhaust. The rocket-propelled grenade round was shot well and shot true, entering the open window and exploding inside shortly thereafter. Stankić reached out and grabbed the wounded Jovanović by the collar and dragged him back behind the statue while Kovačić unloaded an entire, 30-round magazine into the window before backpedaling to the statue, taking Jovanović-ski with him. During their backpedal, every other man with view of the window opened up on fully automatic fire, peppering the brick exterior of the hotel with rifle rounds, chipping and splintering chunks of brick off so that a cloud of dust enveloped the window.

In the end, Jovanović was medically evacuated though he'd live and eventually return to the squad many months later after three surgeries to repair the damage the round caused. Jovanović-ski's RPG round had exploded when its fuse contacted the sniper, who happened to be their target. When the squad finally entered the hotel and moved up to the room, they found his severed torso against the wall, eyes open and gaping wound below while his legs were in a pile where he'd been standing. The town was largely empty with only a single, squad-sized element found, engaged, and captured but nothing more.



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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sat Dec 15, 2018 9:52 pm



• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 19:30 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






There was a moment of silence as the camera panned and tightened on Kovačić's face. He'd just been asked by a sympathetic Petrović if he was willing to recount the events of a specific engagement. It was for this particular engagement that had earned Kovačić his first of two Order of the Pojan Stars. "You're one of only nine people in our nation's history who have been awarded the Order of the Pojan Star not once but twice. Many would regard you as a hero above all others. What do you think about that?"

"I never saw myself as a hero,"
Kovačić replied, which was how all men who faced such peril replied. None of them saw themselves as heroes. They were doing a job, helping a friend, trying to follow orders, et cetera. To a little boy on the street, he was a hero because he did something that few others did but to him, he was just there and he just did what he did. "It was simply a battle, an engagement, a firefight, whatever you want to call it. My friends were in trouble and these were my friends above all else. We were a close squad because we had to be, confined in such tight quarters for so long. I didn't want to see anything happen to them."

"A lot of soldiers who have been interviewed say similar, if not the same things. What is it, do you think, that makes a squad of men so tight and close with one another? What is it that brings so many different backgrounds together in such a short time span?"

"Well I'm not psychologist,"
Kovačić smirked, "but I would have to say, in my experience, that all of this is immaterial. It doesn't matter if the person next to you worships a different god than you or grew up rich or poor because he's there with you and you're all equal there. We're all equally being shot at, we're all equally getting up and suffering through early morning PT. We're all eating the same chow. It's all the same. And when the bullets are flying nothing from our past or back home matters. All we have at that very moment is one another. No one can ever replace that bond."

"Very strong stuff, I would hazard no one who has experienced such a thing can understand."

"I would agree but bonds and comradery can form anywhere, under any conditions. Ours just happened to be in war."

"So what was it then, what was it that drove you to react in such a way to save your friends? What was it that you did that showed Award Commission valor and bravery unmatched by any standard?"
Petrović said, coaxing it out of his interviewee. The screen remained stable, static, focused on Kovačić, the interviewer perpetually off camera so that the focus was solely on Kovačić.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, 5th August 1968 | 19:30 hrs [PST]

South Zagoria District, Chernarus, Poja | Gvozdno






By August 1968, the Invasion of Chernarus had been completed but the war had really just begun. The invasion saw only twenty-one days of major combat operations and then a further twenty-one days of major operations as Pojan forces branched out to put a presence in every district, municipality, and city in Chernarus. The invasion left 147 Pojan soldiers dead and over 400 wounded while as many as 700 Chernarussian soldiers and 1,000 civilians were killed during the invasion, mostly from the initial three-week period when Pojan forces were making their initial gains into Chernarussian territory. By August, the Pojan Army had entrenched itself throughout Chernarus, send the Chernarussian government into hiding, and established control over the main supply routes into and out of the region. Casualties continued to mount, mainly from guerilla-style attacks launched by the Chernarussians as part of their main strategy for defeating the Pojan armed forces. By August 5, 1968, Pojan casualties had exceeded 525 men killed and over 1,000 wounded. The Chernarussian death toll was climbing too.

It was a warm Monday on August 5, 1968. The sun was due to set around 20:16 and 1st Platoon had been stationed in the extreme northeast of Chernarus in the Southern Zagora District. They, along with the rest of the battalion, had been based just north of Krasnostav at an army airfield base. A mixed squadron of helicopters, chiefly Mi-2RL Hoplite medevac helicopters and Mi-4AV Hound gunship helicopters were stationed there to provide support throughout the area. Most of the heavy lifting was done from a major airbase operating just west of Grishino. The growing insurgency was making life a slow, growing Hell for the soldiers stationed at the army airstrip. Their base was coming under sporadic, varied mortar and sniper attack and almost always at night.

Findings being published secretly within the upper echelons of the military command noted that the insurgency could not be found with heavy handed tactics but neither could it be dealt with softly. The former would only cause it to grow and the latter would only encourage it. There was a healthy balance that needed to be found and in the late summer of 1968, it had yet to be found. Intel had been focused on locating the perpetrators of the night's mortar and sniper attacks and on this particular evening, they'd struck gold - or so they'd been led to believe. In the aftermath, a review would conclude that the intelligence had been false, designed to lure the Pojan soldiers into an ambush with the hope of a massive slaughter, a major casualty event for the Pojan Armed Forces, one that would make them rethink their mission in Chernarussian territory.

Intel had been led to believe that the cell responsible for launching the artillery bombardments against the base were hiding out in Gvozdno. Intel had suggested that the town, while not sympathetic to the Pojans was not sympathetic to the Chernarussian insurgents either. For that reason, battalion passed down an order for 1st Platoon to mount up, go to Gvozdno and attempt a snatch-and-grab mission on the cell. Three BTR-60PBs departed from the base and headed west, through Krasnostav without incident and out towards Gvozdno. Alpha Squad was located in the second BTR with Charlie Squad in the lead and Bravo Squad in the rear. The platoon leader, Potporucnik Borivoj Milić, was with Charlie Squad and the assistant platoon leader with Bravo Squad.

As the three BTRs came around Black Mountain, a 365-meter mountain, they hadn't noticed a spotter team positioned on top of the mountain, occupying a small area of ruins dating back to the 1400s. Via radio, the spotters passed on the convoy composition, its estimated speed, and its location. There was no reply but the message was received. Just south of the mountain, the three BTRs turned to the right and began their ascent up a gradual incline towards the town, which lay out of sight due to the way the terrain rose. The town would slowly materialize, first with the top of the church's steeple and then the rest of it and then more roofs and more buildings until finally, the three BTRs were just outside of the town and the incline far more gradual than it was at first.

The three BTRs turned into the center of the town, which straddled either side of a secondary road, one lane of travel in either direction. The church lay ahead to the left, a beautiful stone and brick building with stained glass windows and a steeple that could easily look over the entire valley. Small windows at the top of the steeple held spotters but from the BTRs, no one saw this. As soon as Bravo Squad made the turn and all three vehicles were in line, the ambush started.

From the left side of the road, two RPGs were launched against the first and last BTR. They impacted with great force, slamming into the sides of the two BTRs and destroying their tires as well as penetrating the hulls of both vehicles, killing drivers in both. From the right side of the road, a third RPG was fired at Alpha Squad's BTR. It struck the vehicle in much the same place as the other two, except on the opposite side, saving Lukić from death but the blast had definitely injured him badly. From forward and both sides, machine gun fire erupted and the BTRs were soon pinging and sparking away as the high-velocity rounds struck and/or ricocheted off of their steel hulls. Very quickly, the dismounts poured out of the back of all three vehicles, the first and last catching fire at this point. Vuković defied the order to evacuate the vehicle and opened fire with the vehicle's heavy machine gun. In doing so, he provided covering fire for the men exiting. His first 50-round belt he laid into the gunners on the left side of the road.

The heavy 14.5x114mm rounds chomped through the windows and stucco of the buildings easily. Each round was like a bolt of lightning where it struck, doing tremendous damage and if it found soft tissue, it tore through it with grotesque consequences. By the time he'd finished that belt, everyone was out of the vehicle and providing covering fire so that Vuković, rather than reload, exited as well. More RPGs came, striking the lead vehicle and turning it into a ruined, burning, hulk of metal.

Ilić, who'd been first out of the BTR, quickly bounded forward and to the right. Raising his weapon, he lead Alpha Squad into cover in those buildings, engaging several insurgents taking up positions on the first floor. He was joined by the rest of the squad, including the newest edition, a young razvodnik named Vlastimir Mihailović, who was operating the RPK in lieu of Jovanović-ski, who was still on medical leave. The squad had yet to warm up to Mihailović but today would be the true moment of appreciation for the young kid who was barely out of basic.

It was less than thirty seconds from the time that Ilić exited the BTR to the point where he and the rest of the squad was inside of the building for cover. Kovačić had been the last in because he'd gone back not only to help the wounded Lukić out but also to provide covering fire for Vuković on his egress. Vuković was armed only with a pistol, which he emptied immediately after exiting into a second story window where he'd seen muzzle flashes. Seconds later, their BTR took an RPG and was thrown sideways. Had Vuković still been inside, he would have been KIA.

The three squads were pinned down in separate areas. Bravo Squad had moved back twenty meters with one dead and three wounded, their dead still inside of the burning BTR. Charlie Squad had one dead, still in the BTR, and two wounded. Thus Alpha Squad, with only one wounded, was in the best of shape. Charlie Squad was in an adjacent building. It was here that Kovačić would truly display his bravery. He, Ilić, and Jovanović-ski separated from the main group of the squad and with Ilić on point, they moved carefully through what had been a restaurant, searching it for hostiles. The main floor was empty but they could hear the whispered footsteps of men above them and so carefully, cautiously, quietly, they moved up the steps towards the second floor. Those above them had not seen the squad disembark because their field of view had been blocked. They were mainly focused on engaging the lead BTR, confident that the men on the first floor would be protecting them.

While the restaurant occupied the first floor, two apartments occupied the second floor. Knowing that the best way to break an ambush was to advance on the enemy, Ilić led the charge. He removed a grenade from his vest, pulled the pin, and clutching the safety, gave Jovanović-ski the cue to kick in the door to the first apartment, which he did. The grenade went in and three seconds later, it detonated. In went the three men, shooting down everyone who was still standing and everyone who was on the ground as well for good measure. They each would drain an entire magazine in just that small apartment but they would leave eight corpses behind. Quickly, they changed magazines and prepared to go for the second apartment when bullets came slicing through the walls. Jovanović-ski and Kovačić hit the ground but Ilić wasn't quick enough and several rounds caught him on the torso. He flopped to the ground, his heart stopped before he impacted it. Kovačić saw this immediately and threw a grenade into the hallway, where it detonated seemingly in mid-air. He threw a second one for good measure and advanced with Jovanović-ski behind him. Two men were dead in the hallway, torn to ribbons by the grenades. Jovanović-ski put rounds into each of their heads for good measure and the two men entered the second apartment after two more grenades, each of the men throwing one through the already opened door. They advanced inside and took down three men who were still standing and ensuring the four on the ground were dead.

Kovačić grabbed Ilić's body and brought it downstairs so that it would be close by for medevac. Down on the ground level, barely four minutes had elapsed, the lead BTR was an inferno, the trail BTR was burning, and Alpha Squad's BTR was immobilized, smoking but it appeared that the engine was still running somehow. Kovačić quickly raced out to it, ducked inside seemingly unnoticed, rapidly assessed that the BTR wasn't about to explode, and reloaded the KPV-T heavy machine gun' with a fresh fifty rounds. Then, he turned the turret rapidly towards the nearest hostiles and let loose several bursts of rounds, tearing through the upper story windows with the heavy rounds, killing over a dozen men and virtually breaking the ambush on one whole side of the street. With a few rounds still in the belt, he turned the turret to the other side of the street, spotted an RPG team moving into position, and fired at them just as the RPG was launched. It went wide and missed the BTR but the team was killed. At that point, the KPV-T was out of ammunition. Kovačić, feeling as if luck was on his side, reloaded the gun once more and opened fire on the other side of the street, pouring rounds into windows where he'd seen muzzle flashes. He took out the remaining RPG teams in the process and wiped out a heavy machine gun position. It was at this point however, with ten rounds remaining, that the KPV-T jammed. The volume of incoming fire increased and Kovačić abandoned the BTR, running out of the back and to where the rest of his squad was.

Moments later, mortars began to crash down into the street. All of the men in the three squads took cover as shrapnel whizzed through the air, slicing into whatever stood in its way. Bravo and Charlie Squad each sustained another wounded man in the initial barrage. "All right we've got to get out of here," Kovačić yelled. More mortars crashed down and Kovač trained his rifle towards the church steeple where he managed to catch the glint of binoculars. He fired rapidly, sending several high-powered rounds through the windows, killing the spotter and sending whoever else was up there with him to the ground.

"All right, we're going to rally up on Charlie Squad," Stankić yelled over the roar of battle. Yet what they didn't know was that Charlie Squad was moving back and out of the kill zone. Vuković tossed Lukić on his shoulders while Mihailović tossed Ilić over his and together, the eight men moved out of the structure and to the adjacent building where they expected to find Charlie Squad. Less than eight minutes had elapsed so far. Kovačić was on point and he shot down two men who appeared to be crossing the street, each armed with assault rifles, hoping to bear down on them.

When they reached the adjacent building and saw no sign of Charlie Squad, the men hunkered down. Kovačić once again displayed more heroism and bravery by volunteering to go alone to find Charlie Squad. Braving gunfire and mortars, he left cover and moved first towards the wreck of the trail BTR and then out past it, onto the other side of the street. As he did, he engaged more insurgents that he saw. Having crossed to the other side of the road, he braved mortars and shrapnel once again to come back across to find Charlie Squad, which he would ultimately find consolidated with Bravo Squad. Telling them to stay put, he returned to his squad and led the way to the consolidated area. By that point, casualties were mounting. Unbeknownst to him, Kovačić had taken shrapnel to his leg and his arm and he was bleeding. Jovanović-ski had taken a sniper round to the arm and he was unable to hold his rifle. That left Alpha Squad with one dead and three wounded, out of nine total. Bravo Squad had three dead and four wounded, out of ten. Charlie Squad had one dead and five wounded, also out of ten.

Consolidated in their area, Milić had already called in fire support from helicopters and 2nd Platoon was racing to their AO. There were only twelve men unwounded out of twenty-nine, not great. As it stood, Milić remained with the radio, ready to direct both fire support and 2nd Platoon. Of the remaining twelve men unwounded, Stankić quickly reorganized them and took six with him intent on clearing the buildings on their side of the street to break the assault. That left five men, none over the rank of desetar. Once again Kovačić volunteered to lead them even though he was wounded. Stiff and sore, still unaware just how badly he was injured, he took the six men, crossed to the other side of the street, and methodically cleared the buildings. They were armed with plenty of ammo, plenty of grenades, and the determination that they weren't going to die on this street like five of their comrades had.

The battle was now raging for twelve minutes and the enemy was consolidating its position, firing onto the combined position of the Pojans and to make matters worse, the mortars were getting closer. Kovačić and the five men with him were a hodgepodge, ad-hoc unit, capable of formation only under extreme situations. Lucky for them, they had both Milošević, the medic, and Kovač, the sniper, with them. Kovač would occasionally fire on the church steeple, just in case someone was there using it as an advantage point. He was unaware of it but he'd killed a hostile sniper in the process who was just waiting for Milić to emerge to direct fire. Kovačić and his men moved quickly, throwing grenades to break up the enemy's position and then storming afterwards, using ad-hoc, room-clearing tactics. They hadn't necessarily been trained in them but the men sort of knew the drill. They improvised, keeping men on the outside for rear guard and going in with only three or four men at a time. Kovačić led each assault.

After twenty-five minutes, the din of battle had calmed down. The three BTRs were smoldering wrecks, the casualties higher. Two more had been wounded in the assaults, one each from Bravo and Charlie Squads. The helicopters arrived overhead and 2nd Platoon arrived shortly thereafter. The wounded were medevacked according to their condition with Lukić being flown out from Alpha Squad and the rest being driven out in canvased trucks that had come with 2nd Platoon, who was going to stay to set up a perimeter. Eventually, 3rd Platoon and the rest of the company would arrive in another six BTRs. It was only then that the mess of the evening's had begun to be cleaned up, which would take throughout the night and into the following morning.

In the end, the body count would stay at five killed and fourteen wounded from Alpha Squad and fifty-three dead insurgents. While sitting in recovery from having a bullet removed from his side, Milić and Stankić conferred and it was there that they would form up the paperwork to put in for the Order of the Pojan Star for Kovačić, who was recovering in another room, sedated from the two-hour surgery he'd had to remove the shrapnel from his body and stem the bleeding. He'd also be awarded the Cross of Saint Peter, an award to recognize those who had been killed or injured in military service during combat or in theaters of conflict as a result of enemy action. The firefight, as it would be dubbed, would set the stage of the kind of warfare faced in Chernarus.



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Founded: Oct 11, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:57 pm



• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 19:30 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






The camera returned to Petrovic, "So you're awarded the Order of the Pojan Star, the nation's highest recognition for valor and bravery in combat. Normally when a soldier is awarded this, he is removed from the battlefield and put 'on display' for the entire country to see. This didn't happen though."

Kovacic laughed and smiled, "I forbade it strictly. I tried to turn down the medal but they wouldn't let me. My platoon leader, my company leader, my battalion leader all pushed for it after the battle. I just wanted to stay with my friends but I was flown out of the combat theater and to Rugi for the award ceremony."

"It was a big affair, was it not?"

"Huge affair, I cannot imagine the cost. It shamed me a little,"
Kovacic said. "My friends were still in Chernarus, being ambushed and attacked by the guerillas and I was in Rugi drinking champagne in the cleanest uniform I'd ever owned, actually it wasn't even mine. It was loaned to be when they saw how dirty and worn mine was. But there I was in Rugi, kilometers upon kilometers away from the war and all I wanted was to be back there."

"After the ceremony, what happened?"

"A four-star general approached me, he was the highest ranking general in the entire army. He told me he wanted to see me in his office and I told him that I couldn't do this."

"You told a general this?"

"Yes."

"How did he react?"

"I don't think anyone had ever refused his orders before. I felt invincible because of the award I'd just been given. I told him that I would not be put on display to the country and that if he did not allow me to return to my platoon, I would go AWOL and leave myself."

"How did he take the news?"

"I don't know,"
Kovacic said with another laugh. "He told me he was going to get a drink and that if I wasn't there when he returned, I should expect to find myself back in Chernarus or face a court martial."

"So you returned?"

"As fast as I could and I stole the uniform I was wearing too! I got a letter once asking for it back but we used that as kindling for a fire one cold night that winter."


• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, 30th December 1968 | 06:00 hrs [PST]

South Zagoria District, Chernarus, Poja | Balota






Balota was nothing more than a glorified town in 1968. Situated just west of Chernogorsk, the largest city in the district, it was a quiet reprieve from the hustle and the bustle of city life, despite being so close. It was situated on the coastline, a few meters above sea level, and along both the main highway and railway into and out of the district. This made it easy for residents to live in Balota and work in Chernogorsk or Komarovo to the west or Zelenogorsk to the north. The relatively flat plain that Balota occupied was mostly undeveloped and save for a few farms here and there, most of the space was wild and belonged to Mother Nature; at least that was until the Pojan Armed Forces scouted the area for the construction of a new airbase.

Very early on in the campaign, the Pojan Army seized control over the main, military airfield in the district, which was just west of Grishino. A second, smaller field - mainly for helicopters - located just northeast of Krasnostav was occupied shortly thereafter. Together, these two bases proved useful enough for early measures but if the Pojan Armed Forces were going to put a staple on their presence in South Zagoria, fast becoming the most violent district in Chernarus, they would need to establish a new working base.

Grishino Air Base had been built in the 1940s and it was sorely in need of modernization. It was a sprawling complex but it was outdated and its land used inefficiently for the faster jet fighters of the modern age. It had been built with the idea that the Pojan Air Force would construct or purchase long-range bombers with which to use over the Eurybian Sea, Kesh, and Eastern Artemia. Those plans had never materialized and the support facilities for Poja's fast, supersonic interceptors and fighter-bombers were not sufficient enough to maintain more than a squadron of each at a time. For the MiG-19S Farmer-C and Su-7B Fitter-A aircraft, this limited their effectiveness in close air support roles. Krasnostav Airfield, on the other hand, was unsuitable for anything except helicopters, which meant that if the Pojan Air Force wanted to boost its presence, it had to either shut down Grishino and reconstruct it or establish another air base. The latter was chosen and Balota designated the location of this new air base.

Construction work had begun shortly after the autumn season fell in 1968 and progress was slow, hampered by guerilla attacks, chiefly with mortars. Construction crews could accomplish only so much when mortars were raining down on them. Patrols often went out to locate the mortar teams but found only remnants of their firing positions. The preferred weapon of choice for the guerillas was the M1938, a 107-millimeter mortar that had a range of just over six kilometers. The guerillas rarely fired them beyond three kilometers and they didn't care much what they hit so long as they hit something in the area.

Kovačić and his platoon, along with the rest of the company, had been moved down to Balota specifically to provide security for the construction of the air base. Yet, they found themselves entangled in a growing insurgency that was eclipsing anything the politicians and war planners had envisioned back in Rugi. Kovačić had been there, seen how the war in Chernarus was treated as if it was on a different planet from the one that Rugi inhabited. The opulence for his medal ceremony had been second-to-none and that was largely in part because Rugi was using it as a propaganda piece in the war. Rugi wanted to show the loyal citizens of Poja that men like Kovačić were sacrificing so much to protect the confederacy.

In truth, Kovačić didn't know what he was protecting other than the men to his right and left. By now, his squad had suffered four wounded and one killed, including himself in those who'd been wounded. Replacements had come in but things were different. The mood was different. By now the end of 1968, Jovanović had returned to the squad and been promoted to assistant squad leader, chiefly because Mihailović was good with the machine gun and because Jovanović was technically the next in both rank and time-in-service ahead of Kovačić and also because Kovačić turned it down when Stankić first proposed the idea to him. Kovačić expressed that he only wanted to worry about his own two hands and not the lives of others.

On this particularly cold and rainy morning, Kovačić was pondering the composition of the squad. He'd just come off of a watch period and he was sipping a piping hot cup of coffee in their barracks. Since moving to Balota, they'd been given proper accommodations, which meant no more sleeping in the BTR or worse, on the cold ground. Construction was happening around them but in their barracks, they'd built a home for themselves. They'd brought in beds, set up a television and a radio, put together a table for cards, and they'd even added some couches. Their barracks had mostly been furnished from abandoned homes but a few pieces had come from nefarious supply runs to Grishino that would have had the supply clerks in Rugi fuming and furious had they known just what Kovačić's squad had done through nefarious and scandalous ways involving deceit, deception, and downright hooliganism.

For Kovačić's men, rainy days were preferable days. The insurgents tended to stay inside during rainy days and didn't both dropping mortars into the area, which meant he and the men around him could enjoy the warmth and the dryness of their barracks. What they didn't realize was that this was to plan. The mortar teams operating to their northeast were lulling the Pojans into a false sense of security and they'd observed how on rainy days, the men largely stayed in their barracks and didn't bother with making patrols. So today, of all days, they would exploit this. Having had plenty of practice dropping their mortars onto the air base, the mortar teams had woken up early and slugged their pieces into their normal firing position before dawn. They set their mortars up to predetermined values of elevation and angle and put their ammunition in an easily accessible place for today would be the day that they rained down over a hundred mortars on the air base. They'd bitten off more than they could chew but it wasn't something they knew yet. Each side was unaware of the other's intentions and a clash neared.

The first mortar rounds smashed into the air base just after 06:00 and they woke up everyone at the air base. Those caught outside quickly rushed into shelters, mostly expecting that the barrage would last the customary two to four minutes and then they would go about their day. Many of the workers were pleased that the insurgents had started early, it meant they wouldn't have interruptions for the rest of the day. Such was how these men thought because of the frequency of these mortar barrages. Yet when after eight minutes mortars were still coming down in evenly spaced shots, they knew something was different. Kovačić and his men knew where the normal mortar position was and they could easily tell that the insurgents were at that position but they also knew that they couldn't get to it in less than ten minutes, which was why they'd stopped going after them in a rush.

Yet when after eight minutes the mortars continued, something snapped in Stankić and he ordered all of his men to "mount up" and get "on the move." They rushed into the BTR, which was protected from the mortars by sandbags on three of its four sides and also above by a flimsy roof that was mainly there to prevent shrapnel from hitting anyone working on the vehicle. What the spotter didn't realize was that from the barracks to the BTR, Stankić's men did not need to travel via any exposed outlets. They'd built a sandbag-protected walkway and lined it with the same flimsy metal that they'd protected the BTR with so that they could get there with relative ease and safety. They loaded into the BTR and Lukić, who'd only recently returned three weeks prior, put the vehicle into motion and they pulled out of their spot and proceeded down the main road and out of the perimeter of the air base. Mortars continued to come down while they took the road up and into the hilly areas where the mortar crews stayed. The rain kept the dust down though it turned the road into mud. The going was slow but Stankić was egging on his driver to slosh through it and continue onward unhindered.

On the gun, Vuković armed the 14.5-millimeter heavy machine gun with a fresh, 50-round belt. Jovanović stood by with a second belt ready to go. The KPVT had a rate of fire of six hundred rounds per minute, which meant that the entire 50-round belt would be gone in as little as five seconds. In order to keep up the pressure on the insurgents, they could reload and have another belt ready to go in only a few seconds. Jovanović and Vuković had drilled time and time again to make sure they could do so quickly and seamlessly.

The BTR-60PB pulled off of the road just a few kilometers short of the pathway that the insurgents were known to use. From here, the going was slower but Lukić was able to coax the big machine through the uneven and soft terrain. The vehicle's eight wheels kept it moving though, the mud having a slowing but not a stopping effect. The route they'd chosen would give them a higher ground elevation than the mortars, allowing them to fire down onto the target versus on the level or even upwards. It was an ideal position for the BTR and approximately one kilometer from the position, Vuković announced that he'd spotted the mortars in a copse of trees. Stankić gave the order to open fire and Vuković did. The big gun barked fire and bullets moving at over one kilometer per second slammed into the target area. The trees were immediately splintered, the smaller ones being severed in half as the rounds made impact.

To the mortar tubes, the rounds sliced through the thin steel like a hot knife through butter. To the people firing them, the rounds shredded their bodies into strands of goopy flesh and bones, slicing some people in half and amputating limbs on others. No one stood a chance and that single, 50-round burst neutralized the site. Jovanović reloaded and another fifty rounds were sent downrange into the target. The mortar rounds detonated and the spotter, seeing this, took off running. Vuković wasn't quick enough and the spotter managed to get away but it didn't matter, they knew where he was going and Stankić ordered Lukić to follow, which he did, right down into a small village on the other side of the mountain.

It was here that the insurgents were sleeping and storing their munitions but it was also here that Stankić and his men would get their first taste of just what combat could do to a man under intense pressure over time who had little reason to remain calm and collected.

The BTR moved into the village and Stankić and his men exited the vehicle and began a house-to-house search for the spotter. They weren't kind about it either. They were fed up with the constant shelling and this was the first time they'd pursued their enemy to his resting place. Inside of each house, the men were ruthless. They broke glassware and pottery, China sets were destroyed and family heirlooms stomped underneath their boots. Weapons were uncovered and with that, entire households found themselves under arrest. It took them only fifteen minutes to clear the small village with its twelve houses. The spotter was found and brought to the center of the small village. Around him were those who were hiding weapons and those who weren't, the latter not being restrained by plastic cable ties. In almost every case, the soldiers had yanked much too hard on the cable ties and either cut into the skin of those restrained or made them extremely uncomfortable.

There, in the center of the village, a level of quiet descended. The BTR was sitting nearby, its engine off and its driver and gunner manning their stations. Stankić and the other six men were positioned around the villagers, keeping a watch on them while Stankić forced the spotter to his knees. He looked at the people, many of whom knew what was about to happen. Tension and grief had come over some of them, others cried, and some remained stoic and hateful. "This is what happens when you shoot at Pojans," he withdrew his sidearm and aimed it at the spotter's head. "Tell everyone in the insurgency that this is what happens," and he pulled the trigger. The blast of the pistol caused it to jump ever so slightly but it didn't matter. The bullet bore right into the spotter's head and it came out the other side with a blast of blood, bone, and brain matter. The spotter's eyes rolled back and he collapsed into a heap on the ground, lifeless. Then Stankić turned and walked over to the prisoners he and his squad had detained. "Who's next?" He said and he brandished the gun. In the distance, the revving of a diesel engine could be heard as a truck approached, a truck that he'd called for to transport the prisoners. "I guess we'll see next time," he put the pistol away. Within the next two hours, they'd left the village, leaving the body of the spotter where it had fallen. The weapons were confiscated and the prisoners loaded roughly into the back of a truck for transport to Grishino for interrogation.

Stankić's superiors would congratulate him on the impromptu operation against the mortar crew and the operation in the village that had netted several prisoners and a cache of weapons. Command didn't really care about the execution of the spotter; after all, he was a hostile insurgent and not a civilian. Furthermore, by running into the village and by the village storing weaponry, they lost their civilian status. Technically, he could have shot and killed the entirety of the village and command wouldn't have said a word. The insurgents were getting bolder and they were showing that they were careless about civilians so why should the Poja soldiers handcuff themselves in their response.



• • • † • • •


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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:42 pm

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Flight of four Su-7B Fitter-As in flight

.:.
Chapter I
1969
Remit, pardon and forgive, O God,
our sins committed voluntarily and involuntarily, by
word and deed, knowingly and in ignorance, by thought
and purpose, by day and night; forgive all these for
You are gracious and love mankind.





• • • † • • •



Monday, 6th January 1969 | 09:15 hrs [PST]

Kirovograd, Chernarus, Poja | Kirovograd Guards Air Base






The sky was crystal clear, deep blue as the sun rose on what amounted to a cold, wintry day. A storm that had hung over Poja for two days dumping rain and sleet had finally cleared out of the region and the sun's bright, warm rays began to work their magic on the frozen expanse that the storm had left in its wake. At Kirovograd Guards Air Base however, it was only the grassy fields and the rooftops that bore the storm's fingerprints for the tarmacs, taxiways, runways, and service roads had been kept clear by plows. Despite the fact that aircraft wouldn't be flying in such conditions unless it was an absolute emergency, the base needed to be kept clear just in case there was one.

Kirovograd Guards Air Base was home to the 23rd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, which consisted of thirty-two interceptors, four trainers, and a small section of two helicopters and a modified transport to act as a communications relay. The primary aircraft operated by the regiment was the MiG-21PFM Fishbed-F, an interceptor designed for high-speed missile strikes against incoming bomber aircraft. For trainers, they operated the MiG-21U Mongol-B trainer. However, since the outbreak of the Chernarussian War, the air base had acted as a forward deployment location for a 12-aircraft squadron of Su-7BM Fitter-A fighter-bombers from the 29th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment. Like the MiG-21s, the Fitters could carry the R-3S air-to-air missile but they rarely carried them since they did not expect to encounter hostile aircraft over Chernarussian airspace. Instead, they carried unguided rockets and bombs with a standard load being two UB-32-57 pods, four 250-kilogram bombs, and two 500-kilogram bombs. Each rocket pod held thirty-two, 57-millimeter rockets while the bombs were a mix between regular, high-explosive bombs and incendiary bombs, depending on the nature of the target. The Fitters flew close-air support missions, normally in support of coordinated operations by the Pojan Army rather than general, close-air support sorties.

The Pojan military had not quite developed close-air support tactics like other militaries had. Coordination between air and ground elements required a lot of planning and training and the Pojan military felt it best to keep aircraft use limited to big operations where they could be coordinated by more trained, more disciplined, better-equipped personnel. For that reason, the Fitters didn't fly as often as they could have. Attack helicopters were leveraged for use in operations of company level but the Fitters were mainly reserved for operations of battalion level or higher. Coordinating battalion-level operations was no small undertaking so it was imperative to have the Fitter utilized there, rather than in support of smaller operations.

Pukovnik Jakša Janković led the entire 29th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment but it was Potpukovnik Jakša Janković who led this particular squadron. Only a week earlier, the squadron had initiated its newest pilot, Potporučnik Anto Broz in an otherwise hilarious ceremony involving alcohol, a bit of hazing, and lots of fun. Broz had spent the latter half of 1968 learning the intricacies of the Fitter and flying with his squadron. Broz had yet to fly what would be termed a "combat sortie" but 1969 would prove to be his year, in more ways than one, so to speak.

After completing his morning PT, Broz did what every pilot in the squadron did, which was to go to the duty room and check to see if they were on a mission for the day, whether it was combat or training. Fighter and fighter-bomber pilots averaged roughly fifteen hours per month or one hundred and eighty hours per year. Some air forces topped two hundred and some came in at around one hundred. The reason Poja was higher was because of its emphasis on self-sufficiency. The Pojan military couldn't rely on outside nations to come to its aid and for that reason, military training schedules ranked on the higher ends of the spectrums.

On this particular morning, just after 06:30, Broz walked into the duty room and much to his surprise, he was on the flight log for the day. Excitement welled up in his veins and he did as much as he could to contain it, heading over to the mess area for a light breakfast knowing that he would be piloting a supersonic aircraft in the near future. He was scheduled to fly with the squadron's commanding officer, Janković and that was because Janković wanted to see how he performed in a "combat" sortie. The Pojan Army was making a push on the village of Zarya, which was still very much under insurgent control. Zarya itself was located in the mountainous middle part of Chernarus and that meant a lot of ambush points. The 29th would be flying four fighter-bombers today but in two groups of two so that there was good air coverage. Another four aircraft would remain on standby at Kirovograd in case they were needed. In addition to the Fitters, command had seen fit to sortie an entire squadron of twelve Mi-4s to the mission. Command had worked in new tactics for close air support and they were hoping to prove them on this operation.

The operation was set to kick off at 09:00 and the first fighters wouldn't be wheels up until 09:15. It would take them approximately ten minutes to get to the area where they would take up a slow orbit in an attempt to save fuel. They wouldn't be up for very long before they had to refuel, at which point they would be replaced by the other two aircraft. The two would then land, conduct a refueling, and wait until the other two needed to be relieved on station. It was sorties such as these that made the Pojan government pine for air-to-air refueling capabilities, especially since the Su-7 did not boast of a particularly long endurance. Flying within Chernarus at least kept it within the borders of the country but by and large, the Fitter lacked legs, even with external drop tanks.

The Su-7BMs flying with the 29th weren't flying with drop tanks though since that would take away from its bomb load and bombs were important on these kinds of missions. The bombs being carried this morning took the standard mix of high-explosive FAB-500 and the 250-kilogram RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bomb. Each one of these bombs contained forty-eight bomblets that further carried sixteen submunitions of their own so that one bomb had seven hundred and sixty-eight submunitions, each containing approximately 2.2 to 2.5 kilograms of incendiary filler. There were three types of filler and the RBK-250 mixed those three variants within its casing so that some were simple incendiaries that burned for two to three minutes and some were napalm-like munitions that burned for as long as nine or ten minutes. There was also the ZAB-250, which was a 250-kilogram incendiary bomb containing napalm.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Janković and Broz taxied to the runway and on cue, lit the afterburners of their fighter-bombers. Janković went first, barreling down the runway with a fifteen second lead on Broz who released his brakes on cue from the tower. The Fitter-A was a single-engine aircraft and at full power, with its afterburner lit, the turbojet engine put out just over 10,000 kgf of power or just shy of 99 kilonewtons. It was enough to get the fighter-bomber down the runway and into the sky with a full, combat load. The landing gear went up and Broz climbed to meet up with Janković who was climbing as well. They would settle in at an altitude of 5,000 meters and fly towards their target area, settling in at an orbit, flying as slow as possible to conserve fuel only they wouldn't need to worry too much about this.

From the moment that the Pojan Army moved on Zarya, the insurgents were ready. Mortars and RPG teams held infantry and mechanized forces at bay while they prepared for the main assault against the incoming Pojans. The insurgents had been preparing for this offensive for a while now and they were fully ready to meet the Pojans in set-piece combat, believing that the terrain and their preparations had given them the edge. What they weren't counting on though was the leverage that the Pojan Air Force was ready to give with their Su-7s and Mi-4s. The Mi-4s worked the battle first, coming in at low altitude and striking areas where they could see hostile forces. The slower speed and lower altitude allowed them more precision targeting of insurgent positions. Two used their 57-millimeter rockets to barrage a mortar position while two others were used to strike both side of the main ingress road. Small arms fire from assault rifles and light machine guns ripped into the helicopters but they kept flying, the hits pinging off their fuselages.

Despite this tempo, a Mi-4 was brought down only fifteen minutes into the fight. The wounded Mi-4 had taken a good peppering to its engine by an insurgent machine gunner and losing oil, hydraulic fluid, and fuel, the pilot simply had no choice but to bring the helicopter down. The landing, a hard one, was approximately two hundred and fifty meters from the front line and no sooner did the Mi-4 slam into the ground than did two RPGs come flying its way. They went wide, saving the flight crew from certain death. As the onslaught continued, the Fitters arrived with Janković checking in with the battalion commander leading the offensive into Zarya. Directing targets in this conflict was more of a visual nature, chiefly with the use of colored smoke. Bombing accuracy was anywhere from one hundred to one hundred and fifty meters, quite a wide margin.

Because of just how new this concept was, the strikes would be fully dictated by the ground team, which included what ordnance to drop. The first strike had Janković and Broz each fire a dozen rockets into two machine gun positions along the tree line. Their strike silenced those guns and as the orange smoke dissipated, the next run was being calculated. Leveraging the incendiary bombs, the second and the third strikes put two bombs from each aircraft into two separate positions identified by Mi-4 helicopters as being heavily concentrated with hostile forces. Unable to see the men on the ground for the vegetation, Janković and Broz spread their bombs across a wide area, striking thirty seconds behind one another so that Broz could see where Janković's bombs landed and adjust accordingly. Each time, the Fitter's went into a dive, released their bombs, at around two thousand meters, and pulled up safely, the turbojets burning their plume of heat and flames to give maximum power for the climb out afterwards.

A few more runs were brought in, which emptied the rocket pods of both Fitters and by then, fuel was becoming an issue. Yet each of the Fitters still had two FAB-500 bombs. Much too big to use in close proximity to the troops, the Fitters were directed to drop them into Zarya itself. This was no small order and Janković specifically requested confirmation of that order and also that it be relayed by the battalion commander himself. When it was given, Janković had little recourse except to accept the order and to move on Zarya, aware that there were likely women and children down below. It was a grim thought what their bombs would do.

Unlike the soldiers facing the insurgents face-to-face, frustrated by the ambushes, the landmines, and the RPG attacks, pilots were virtually immune to the horrors of battle. Flying high and fast, they didn't see faces nor did they see their comrades bleeding out in their arms. It was much different for them who did not know what kind of horror the infantry faced. So the order itself, while born out of frustration from the ground forces, was seen as abhorrent to the pilots. Janković almost didn't want to obey and a part of him screamed that he would not follow through with the order but such was the way of life in the Pojan military and he set up to strike the village. His two bombs were dropped together against an area that appeared to be vacant and empty though from his altitude and speed, there was no way to tell otherwise. The strike left scores of civilians, and insurgents too, dead and wounded. Broz came in afterwards and dropped his two bombs on a structure that, to him, looked like a warehouse. It turned out to be the village school and the bombs tore through it and killed everyone sheltering inside. Out of ordnance except their 30-millimeter rounds, the two Fitters turned for home, neither Janković nor Broz chatting much on the radio, communicating only when necessary.

Both bore the sting of the battle but they were done for the day. The next flight went up and continued to drop ordnance on hostile targets as called out by the battalion's fire direction squad. Janković and Broz both passed on an opportunity to continue flying for the day, having had enough of Zarya to last at least a lifetime but 1969 was just beginning and the Chernarussian War was growing bloodier.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:44 pm



• • • † • • •



Thursday, 17th April 1969 | 16:00 hrs [PST]

Vadul District, Chernarus, Poja | Village of Kastsyuno






Springtime in Poja had brought with it blooming flowers, chirping birds, warmer weather, and a renewed level of violence for the Chernarussian Conflict. Now over thirteen months since it had begun, the situation was deteriorating at a rapid pace. The insurgency throughout Chernarus was strong and well organized. They had caches of arms hidden throughout the autonomous region that Pojan troops scurried and scrambled to uncover. They were becoming adept at working in smaller units, striking in ambushes, and melting away before the Pojans could levy their air or their artillery support against them. What they were doing, however, was pushing the Pojan military to act more aggressively and with less regard for collateral damage. Platoons ambushed outside of villages would lash out against the village. Helicopters engaged with ground fire would turn their guns on where they suspected they were engaged from, pouring high-caliber ammunition with wanton disregard for what was below them.

The Chernarussian insurgents were winning the political front but as to who was winning the military front - that was inconclusive. For the airmen in the 29th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment, the war was seen only in snippets as they flew their thirty and forty minute sorties around the countryside. They would takeoff in pairs, carrying either a rocket-laden or a bomb-laden ordnance profile. Some pilots preferred one to the other while others were just happy to have anything they could fire at or drop onto the enemy. For Anto Broz, rockets were his weapon of choice and a normal rocket-laden loadout saw him takeoff with two fuel tanks and ninety-six 57-millimeter rockets in four pods. For those carrying a bomb-laden loadout, they would carry four 250-kilogram bombs and two fuel tanks. These basic loadouts encompassed virtually ninety percent of the missions and it was something that the pilots and mission planners had come to after several months of constant sorties and mission requests. The goal was to utilize the ordnance they carried, which meant that the heavier bombs were less useful since they'd often need to be employed closer to friendly forces. In some instances, 100-kilogram bombs were even more preferable but their damage radius was low and bombing accuracy low as well, essentially negating their benefits.

On this particular spring afternoon, Broz and his flight lead had taken off shortly after 15:20 and flown to the Vadul district. Cruising along at five thousand kilometers, they careened through an open, blue sky with some puffy, white clouds above their heads. In this kind of visibility, the bright sunlight glinted over their silver-finished fuselages, making them visible long before they arrived over a target. There was little the Chernarussians could do about it though. They lacked airpower and they had yet to acquire any of the fabled Strela-2 missiles that had been introduced in the world. This wasn't to say that they weren't trying but they had yet to acquire any yet. For the pilots of the 29th FBAR, the thought of the Strela-2 wasn't very common.

Broz and his flight lead and swooped down and released their rockets and bombs against an insurgent ambush somewhere in the vicinity of Kastsyuno, a small village nestled along the Miroslavl' River, approximately one hundred kilometers north of the river's mouth in the city of Miroslavl'. Kastsyuno was home to about four hundred and fifty people nestled in cozy, small homes around several residential and other minor roads that were barely wide enough for a truck to pass. It was the kind of village that could sit out the war unscathed because it wasn't important enough for insurgents to use as a base and it wasn't big enough for the Pojan soldiers to establish any outposts. For the residents of Kastsyuno, the ambush five kilometers away was their first real taste of the Chernarussian Conflict and even then, they'd only heard the rolling sounds of gunfire from the ambush that had been set up on what amounted to a tertiary road that snaked through the hilly terrain.

Broz and his flight lead had come quickly, dropped their ordnance, and they were due to fly home when the mood caught them. Broz and his flight lead dropped to the deck, pushed their throttles to maximum power, which lit their afterburners, and they screamed towards the village. Barely one hundred meters off the deck, they roared above and past the village at over 1,100 km/h, shaking the entire village. As if that was not enough, they came around for a second pass, dropping their spent fuel tanks just above a farm on the outskirts of the village before buzzing it once more. The two, 950-liter tanks from each aircraft slammed hard into the field, digging deeply into the soil, ruining the crops that had been planted. Because there was still some aviation fuel in them, the jet fuel would naturally leak out, poisoning the soil somewhat. Kastsyuno was thus touched by the war, like so many villages were, as secondary casualties to the general mood of the Pojan armed forces.

Broz and his flight lead returned to their airbase in South Zagoria, touching down at Kirovograd with plenty of fuel to spare, even with their two high-speed passes. What they had done was essentially part of a tactic of harassment against the Chernarussians. In the eye of the Pojan High Command, no one in Chernarus was truly innocent. The Chernarussians still clamored for independence and the insurgency was thriving in the atmosphere created by the invasion. Casualties were mounting - on both sides - making either side dig in their heels harder and deeper. The insurgents were taking advantage of even the slightest inking of support from the local populaces, while the Pojan soldiers saw everyone as an enemy. Commentators around the world would call the Chernarussian Conflict a quagmire. The Pojan armed forces were fighting for the confederacy's cohesion and the other autonomous regions were watching with great attention. Simply put, Rugi had to be victorious in Chernarus lest they lose the entirety of the confederacy.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Thursday, 17th April 1969 | 21:00 hrs [PST]

Kirovograd, Chernarus, Poja | Kirovograd Guards Air Base






At Kirovograd Guards Air Base, the officer's club was particularly quiet on this Thursday evening. It worked like this every now and then as rotations aligned and more officers were on call or on duty the following day than other days. In all, there were just nine people in the club outside of the barman and a waitress who, having little else to do, found herself at the bar talking with her colleague. Sitting in a booth with two other junior pilots, Broz found himself slowly sipping at a Zbenorian beer with a relatively high alcohol content of 9%. The two other junior pilots were from the other squadrons, one a Fitter pilot like Broz and the other a Fishbed pilot. All three of them had gotten to know one another well at Kirovograd, chiefly because they were the "babies" at the airbase but they were still pilots and thus, "above" the other junior officers who weren't pilots - or so they thought.

Throughout the night, the three of them alternated between discussing politics, telling stories, and arguing over soccer clubs. They smoked cigarettes, drank beer, and generally kept themselves in an otherwise acceptable temperament, lest they be thrown out by the bartender who disliked rowdy pilots more than he disliked any other patron. He used a wooden bat sometimes to threaten those he was ejecting and on more than one occasion, the soldiers on guard duty had to restrain him over the rowdy patrons. Over the past few minutes, the conversation had drifted back to the political nature as Broz, Zlatko Živković, and Ratomir Gavrilović returned to the Chernarussian Conflict. What had started it was Broz saying what he'd done on the earlier mission, "I tell you, we came over that village twice, barely one hundred meters off the ground, full afterburner." He was no longer the wide-eyed idealist too naïve for Chernarus but his compatriots weren't as cynical as he was either.

"What did that village ever do? Ambush was how far away?" Živković said, in defense of them.

"Five kilometers, maybe more," Broz responded, "close enough really."

"That's an entirely different area in this conflict. Five kilometers might as well be fifty or a hundred,"
Živković continued. "You know this is all just nonsense. We're fighting these people in their backyards and where they played as children. They know this land better than we ever will. Five kilometers," the MiG-21 pilot scoffed, "isn't even close!"

"They deserved it,"
Broz pushed back, jabbing his finger on the table. "These bastards just hide in those villages, store their guns in those villages, and what? We're supposed to give them a free pass?"

"Villages where we find them, no,"
said Gavrilović, finally mashing out his cigarette in the ashtray. "But if we haven't found anything why are we harassing them? I don't like it either and we do it. I do it. My flight leader most of the time is Kovac. The guy has a hard-on for that sort of shit."

"Kovac's damaged,"
Broz answered, "lost his brother last year and he's been pissed about it since."

"How'd his brother die?"
Asked Živković who was unaware of this. Antonije Kovac was a major and thus much higher in rank than these three potporučniks were.

"Stepped on a landmine while he was on patrol. His brother was enlisted, young kid, barely nineteen. It was a bounding mine, cut him up really bad. I heard he'd made it to the hospital but bled out on the operating table. They'd have had to take his legs or something if he'd have survived. Kovac was really bent up about it, drank himself into a stupor for nine days straight, nearly got thrown out but you know, command understood.

"You know what those fuckers do right?"
Broz said two heads nod in the negative. "They take those bounding mines and bury them in the ground with the prongs sticking up just enough so that if you step on them you're done for but sometimes they stick a second mine underneath them and when they're demining, they pull one out and set off the one below or else, one goes off and they both go off, killing even more people. The people who jump on the ground quickly to escape the fragments get killed by the secondary mine."

"That's some evil shit,"
Živković answered, "listen I'm not pro-Chernarussian here but I just think we're making more enemies than we need with what we're doing."

"My first mission out we had some leftover bombs and put them into a village that was close to where an ambush was happening. At the time I thought, 'Wow that is evil' and then I read about what we hit. We didn't aim for much except open land. Our guys went into the village afterwards and found a cache of RPGs and some Dushkas. If we didn't drop those bombs would that have been found?"

"Civilians die?"

"Yeah there were some casualties we heard but were they civilians if they were hiding that stuff? Not in my book."
Broz said.

"They haven't had us do that yet," said Gavrilović, "but you know what? I think if we did and that happened, you know I'd be glad."

"Not me,"
said Živković. "Not me at all. I'm flying the Fishbed because I don't want to deal with those ground-attack sorties."

"You can carry rockets and bombs though,"
said Broz.

"We don't though. We're just here flying endless CAP sorties keeping the neighbors away. That's all I want to do in this war."

"Suit yourself,"
said Broz, "but we're fighting this war. You're just racking up flight hours. None of our neighbors care enough to come into our airspace."

"Fine with me, I'm a pilot so my first love is flying. The rest is secondary. If I make it through this war only flying patrols then that's fine with me. I'll have a clear conscience."

"I'll know that my bombs, my rockets did something. If we have to hit villages to uncover caches or to take away their base of support then that's fine with me. I'll sleep fine."
Broz answered, perhaps believing his words, perhaps not. The waitress would come over in the next few minutes and look for another round of drinks.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sat Mar 02, 2019 11:39 am



• • • † • • •



Wednesday, 27th August 1969 | 07:00 hrs [PST]

Kirovograd, Chernarus, Poja | Kirovograd Guards Air Base






The entirety of the 29th FBAR was gathered inside of the ready room at Kirovograd Guards Air Base. This included the forty-eight pilots of the regiment and its associated command staff so that the room was nearly standing room only. The only person missing was Pukovnik Jakša Jankovic and when he entered, everyone in the room stood and came to attention. He took his place behind a lectern in the front of the room but offset to the side so that a pull-down screen was unobscured by his presence or the presence of the lectern. The screen was used for all manner of presentations, whether they were slides pertaining to missions, films of the conflict, or films of recreation. Ready rooms often doubled as movie theaters during the evening hours or inclement weather when the Fitters of the regiment weren't flying.

"All right, let's get this show on the road," Jankovic began. He cleared his throat and with a booming voice said, "Potporucnik Anto Broz, front and center!"

Broz was caught off guard and he quickly rose and moved up to the center of the room, a lump in his throat. The only other time he'd seen a scenario such as this play out it was a communal punishment issued to a pilot who'd been too cavalier with where he was dropping his ordnance. The chewing out had been vicious and public, designed as a warning to the rest of the regiment that they were only to drop their ordnance on approved targets and not casually. That pilot had been grounded for two weeks but eventually, he'd been returned to flight status eventually though he'd had to fly a lot of boring missions since, much to his chagrin. He was also reduced in rank by one grade and docked pay.

"Potporucnik, it has come to the attention of myself and the rest of the command about your conduct on missions in this theater, especially in the past three months. What do you have to say for yourself Potporucnik?"

Broz did not know what to say. He didn't know what he was specifically being chewed out for and the regiment's commanding officer didn't elaborate either. He was being vague, perhaps as a tactic to get Broz to admit to a transgression in front of the regiment. Sweat began to collect underneath the collar of his flight suit as he felt every eye on him. "I have nothing to say sir."

"Nothing to say? That is extremely disappointing. We thought you would have a lot more to say for yourself, given the circumstances."

"Sir, may I ask what those circumstances are?"

"You may Potporucnik but it has already been deemed that we shall not divulge. Now, what do you have to say for yourself Potporucnik?"

"Sir, I stand by my original answer."
Broz knew he was in deep trouble and he knew that whatever the command staff had on him was enough, he didn't need to give them more. He'd been flying as many sorties as he could and he'd made some mistakes in the air, mistakes which he'd already been reprimanded over, usually by his flight leader and only after they'd landed. He'd attacked targets of opportunity but never without permission of his flight leader. Unless one of the flight leads had sold him down the river - and lied to boot - Broz at least knew that he was safe here, or so he assumed.

In that moment, silence filled the room and Broz could hear his heartbeat and he wondered if everyone else could as well. Jankovic came around the podium and stood close to Broz, close enough that Broz could smell the man's aftershave. Silence continued and Jankovic seemed to be making it as uncomfortable as humanly possible. Broz stood ramrod straight and awaited the lashing he knew he was about to receive but when Jankovic burst into laughter, he was left with more questions than anything else. "We've certainly given you a fright Potporucnik," he said. "At ease, relax," he continued as he came alongside Broz. "Potporucnik, you have been recognized for your outstanding performance in the air and your highly mature behavior on the base. You have had no reports or incidents of merit beyond typical 'learning' and it is for that reason, along with the proficiency you have shown in flight, that we bestow upon you the promotion to Porucnik. Congratulations," Jankovic said and offered his hand. The entire room erupted in a standing ovation and Broz had the insignia of his new rank pinned on him after shaking Jankovic's hand. The rest of the command staff offered him and handshake and he was directed back to his seat.

Jankovic waited for everyone to relax and then the lights were dimmed on his signal. The slide projection whirled to life and the first slide of a Su-7BM with damage to its fuselage and wings was highlighted. "What you're seeing is an aircraft from the 45th FBAR. This aircraft was damaged during a bombing run last week near Belozersk. It was flying a rocket strike when the aircraft was struck with no less than ten high-caliber rounds fired from a ground position. It would appear gentlemen that the rumors of insurgents getting better with their anti-aircraft fire are true. Two other aircraft have been damaged around Belozersk since this one. There is some debate as to whether they were damaged by the same gun crew or not but they were engaged by Dushkas and there are reports that insurgents have managed to get their hands on a dozen or so KPVs and they are pressing them into anti-aircraft duties as well.

"There have been two confirmed thefts of army depots in the past three months, the most recent of which appears to have given the insurgents four tanks, seven armored vehicles, and several KPVs. It is also believed that the insurgents are specifically trying to get their hands on ground-to-air missiles; however, as they have been unable to do so, we do not believe there is a threat from them yet. However, with the theft of these KPVs and the damage you see here, it has been decided that aircraft will no longer descend below fifteen hundred meters during sorties. By standing above this altitude, we should be able to render the KPVs and Dushkas ineffective. As always, speed is your best defense. These weapons are being aimed and fired manually with nothing more than standard gunsights. This certainly gives you the advantage."


The slide changed to a map of Chernarus with several areas highlighted with an initiated designation near them. "Next order of business is this. Command in Rugi has decided that there are certain areas where insurgent activity is so high that these zones are virtually entirely hostile. In an effort to combat the activities of insurgents in these areas, Rugi has declared them free-fire zones, which means that you may engage any and all targets of opportunity that you see without permission from command. As always, flight leaders will be the ultimate say on ordnance release but know that within these free-fire zones, everything is a target. You can also expect concentrated air defenses in these zones from both small arms and high-caliber machine guns. All flight rules still apply and these zones are to be attacked only after your primary mission has been completed and you have been released from station. If you have ordnance left and you are flying through one of these zones, you may engage targets at will.

"All right that's it for what I have. Flight maps will be available before you take off today. Duty assignments are being posted now."
With that, the projector turned off, the lights came back on, and everyone stood to attention before being seated again by the regiment's commanding officer.

In the levity that followed, Broz received a personal congratulations from most of the regiment. He shook a lot of hands and made his way over to the duty roster and upon seeing his name, all of the wind in his sails was taken right out as he read that he would be flying with Major Antonije Kovac, who had become largely a recluse when he wasn't in the air. Kovac, whose brother had been killed late in 1968, had grown more and more jaded and virulent with concern to the war. Ratomir Gavrilovic had nothing good to say about Kovac but he also hadn't flown with him since May, because Kovac had requested that he stop flying with young pilots. Despite his demeanor and increasingly unstable mental condition, command granted him the request, chiefly because he had a lot of flying experience and he was one of the more reliable men in the cockpit. Kovac never missed a flight due to illness, he never grounded himself for anything, and he was always dead-on with his rockets and his bombs. Yet, he was hardly a personable guy. When he wasn't flying he was nowhere to be seen because he largely kept to himself in his quarters. He stopped visiting the O-club all together though he did have a supply of alcohol from it sent to his quarters from time-to-time in a deal he'd made with one bartender.

Flying with Kovac wasn't thrilling to the newly promoted Broz who felt that the promotion wasn't worth the opportunity. Kovac, who had not congratulated him, had already known he was on the duty roster. He found his way to his locker before anyone else and he was already suiting up when Broz was reading the roster for the day's flight. Gavrilovic, who had been standing next to Broz, said it and put his hand on his friend's shoulder, "Better you than me. Tough luck."

"Gee thanks,"
Broz answered as he shrugged off the hand. He disengaged himself from the crowd and found his way to Jankovic. Quietly, he questioned whether he was the "right man" to fly with Kovac but that line of questioning ended when the commander revealed that Kovac had made the request. It had not been by random or because of his promotion but rather a specific request from Kovac himself, which certainly didn't make Broz feel any better about having to fly with the man. Jankovic offered no advice and Broz was left to suit up and grab the mission dossier.

By then, Kovac was already sitting in the back of the room waiting for him and Broz, accepting his fate, plopped down across from him and put the dossier onto the table. The prospect of grounding himself for the day filled his head but only briefly. Flying - and fighting - was a drug and Broz was fully and thoroughly addicted. "Jankovic mentioned that you requested me as your wingman?"

"Yes I did,"
Kovac answered, "is there a problem?"

"No."

"Good, now this is a fairly simple target. If you watch my back, I will watch yours. We'll drop our ordnance and come home, no showboating and no flying low. I'm not looking for a reckless wingman, do you understand?"

"Loud and clear,"
answered Broz.

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Wednesday, 27th August 1969 | 09:45 hrs [PST]

Kirovograd, Chernarus, Poja | Kirovograd Guards Air Base






Kovac and Broz had said little to one another after going over the parameters of their mission. They'd drawn a strike mission instead of the usual close air support missions that the Fitter pilots flew, which made for some variety. During the previous evening, intelligence operatives had uncovered an insurgent headquarters in the vicinity of Khelm, approximately one kilometer due west of the town. Ground forces were set to move on the headquarters this morning but they wanted an airstrike first to do maximum damage to the facility before any infantry assaulted it. Kovac and Broz were thus carrying nearly two tonnes of ordnance in the form of two FAB-500 bombs under fuselage, four FAB-100 bombs on their outer wing pylons, and two, 32-round rocket pods on their inner wing pylons. Because their mission was very clearly defined, versus the waiting for close air support sorties, they didn't need to carry fuel and thus could carry heavier bombs. The FAB-500 bomb was the heaviest bomb that the Su-7BM Fitter-A could carry, though it could carry four on its inner wing and under fuselage hardpoints.

Sitting at the end of the runway, Kovac and Broz waited for a pair of Fitters flying on-call CAS to takeoff before either of them was given permission to pull onto the runway. Kovac, to the right, was twenty meters ahead of Broz because he was the flight lead. Idling, the noisy jets caught the bright sun and threw glints every which way. In the tower, the darkened glass made sure that these reflections weren't problematic. Upon takeoff clearance, Kovac ran up his engine first and moved down the runway one hundred meters before Broz did. Formation takeoffs were standard for the Pojan Air Force and both fighters left the runway with this spacing, climbing out together and up to their cruising altitude of just five thousand meters. They weren't flying very far so they did not need to ascend all the way up to eight and ten thousand meters to enjoy the thinner, more economical air.

Once airborne, the two fighters switched to their own, assigned frequency for communications. Of course, said frequency was still being monitored on the ground and tape was running. It was "private" in that they could talk to one another without interference but that was it. If they needed to send out a distress signal, they would do so over the guard frequency, which every aircraft had up as well since most aircraft carried two radios so that they could communicate over multiple frequencies at once. The Fitter was no exception to the rule.

The flight to Khelm was only one hundred and fifty kilometers and for the Su-7s cruising at near one thousand kilometers per hour, it would be barely ten minutes from takeoff to arrival, a short hop for the Fitter pilots who were used to spending a little longer in the air orbiting near a holding point, waiting for the call to either return to base to refuel or attack a target. Once again, quiet filled the space between the two men as they kept in close formation, separated by only a few hundred meters, navigating through their compass headings and pre-assigned waypoints. When they reached the target area, Kovac - as flight lead - aimed to contact the ground commander for two reasons, firstly to let him know that he was on station and secondly, to find out where the target was. They had only a grid square in briefing and it would be up to the ground team to give them more precise targeting directions.

This alone took at least five minutes as the ground commander provided a verbal description of the target while Kovac looked for it. When it was finally located however, Kovac was given the authorization to strike and so he rolled in first. From five thousand meters, he went into a shallow dive, putting the bombing reticle onto the ground and walking it over the target. He'd already set his switches and bombing options to drop both FAB-500 bombs in one pass and when the reticle walked over the target, he released his ordnance, lit the afterburner, and pulled into a steep climb, rolling himself inverted so that he could maintain some visual sight on the target. Behind him, Broz was already beginning his dive when Kovac rolled out into level flight. Like Kovac, he came in on a shallow dive and walked the reticle onto the target. Kovac's bombs impacted and detonated only seconds before Broz released his two FAB-500s, aiming for the same target that Kovac had.

Broz, like Kovac, initiated the same maneuver off target and the two fighter-bombers leveled out and flew to a secondary waypoint before turning back to the target. The ground commander had reported successful impacts and detonations of all four bombs but he also reported some vehicles moving away from the site. For Kovac and Broz, the vehicles were perfect targets for their rockets and so they switched to the weapon of choice, rolled back in, acquired the vehicles, and attacked in a formation, coming at the trucks on a diagonal so that they could lead the vehicles and spread their rockets across the length of the convoy. In just a span of seconds, the two fighter-bombers fired over two dozen rockets before breaking off both left and right before they reached the designated "minimum safe altitude." With strafing attacks, whether with rockets or cannons, the minimum safe altitude came up very quickly as these weapons were more effective the closer you were to your target.

Following the strafing run, Kovac and Broz went into an orbit and waited. The ground commander, impressed by their two runs, called them off for the mission. He would switch to helicopter-based close air support for the assault into the headquarters, or rather what was left of it. This meant, for the two fighter-bombers, they had excess ordnance in the form of four FAB-100s each and, between the two of them, thirty-four rockets. Over their frequency, Kovac, who had thus far only spoke to coordinate the attack, reached out to his wingman and asked, "Feel like dumping this ordnance where it counts?"

"Sure lead, where?"
Broz asked. The Fitter required a high landing speed and the lighter the aircraft was, the more responsive it was to control inputs on landing.

"Gvozdno is an FFZ and it's seventy-five kilometers away on our return home."

"Roger that lead, let's go,"
Broz answered. He'd yet to understand just what a free-fire zone was. To him, it was a place where enemy targets could be attacked with impunity. What it really was however was a zone where everything was a target, regardless of what it was. Gvozdno had become a major hotspot for insurgent activity and, as a result, the Pojan Army did not have any units stationed in the town. Rather, they had outposts overlooking the town but nothing directly inside of it. None of the established FFZs had any friendly troops within them, thus omitting the possibility of fratricide.

In his cockpit, Kovac put in the request to head to Gvozdno to release his ordnance and he was given permission after a few minutes while the radio operators made sure there weren't any ground operations happening. With none happening, Kovac was given the green light and the two fighter-bombers headed over to the town, which was essentially on their route home. They would deviate their course slightly but by no more than twenty-five kilometers. They had plenty of fuel and unexpended ordnance.

Kovac rolled in first, selecting his one hundred kilogram bombs. He set the salvo to all four bombs and picked a target - at random - as they orbited overhead. With that target in mind, he established a visual map of where the target was, flipped his fighter-bomber inverted, and dove on the target, leveling out so that the reticle was right over the target when he came out of his inverted attitude. He released the bombs, drew back on the stick, lit the burner, and came up at eighteen hundred meters, descending no lower. His bombs all hit their mark at steep angles and exploded shortly after penetrating through the roof of what was a grain storage warehouse. The bombs themselves shattered the building and ignited the dust in the air, thus leading to a major explosion beyond what his four bombs caused. Kovac though he'd hit an ammunition dump and came back for a second pass, using the rest of his rockets on the area around the warehouse, killing dozens of fleeing civilians in the process. When he came back to level flight, he got back on the radio and said to Broz, "Your turn, I'm out of everything but shells."

"What's the target?"

"Pick one, it's an FFZ."

"What do you mean?"
Broz still wasn't understanding.

"This is an FFZ Porucnik, pick a target, everything is a target."

"What about…"

"Everything is a target,"
Kovac insisted. Broz, feeling the pressure and the weight that Kovac had dumped on him, looked down at the town. The burning warehouse caught his eye. "Clearly we hit an ammo dump, I got lucky." Kovac added.

"All right I see a target, rolling in now," Broz said. He'd picked out a target on the opposite side of town that had several military-style trucks parked around it. He selected his bombs, rolled in, dropped all four, and then came off target. Those bombs, like Kovac's, destroyed the structure and he returned with his rockets and cannons to destroy the vehicles. What he hit wound up being a clinic and the military-style trucks were transports from another clinic in Chernarus. This particular clinic had been in need of some supplies and those trucks had been all that was available to transport them. The trucks themselves belonged to the militia but that was as far as the insurgents' involvement in either facility.

Both Fitters returned to base shortly thereafter. Kovac congratulated Broz on a job well done but Broz didn't feel much like celebrating. He'd attacked "civilian-style" targets before but only on the orders of ground commanders who reported hostile forces using them. For Broz, this made them no longer civilian targets but rather, legitimate, military targets. Someone on the ground saw an insurgent using the structure and so it was a target. Even if the commander was lying, Broz took him at his word and so none of those strikes truly got to him but their strike on Gvozdno was different. No one had seen anyone operating there and while the secondary explosion from Kovac's "ammunition dump" certainly belied the myth that they'd hit an insurgent target, Broz didn't know what he'd hit. He saw the trucks and that was good enough for the moment but there was no positive identification on anything in that town. He'd find out what they'd hit later but since Gvozdno was an FFZ and Kovac had received permission to strike it, there would be no punishments to dole out against these two men who would find themselves an unlikely pair, flying together frequently in the months to come.



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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

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Saturday, 6th December 1969 | 10:00 hrs [PST]

Kazarat District, Chernarus, Poja | City of Dubronyk






The Battle of Dubronyk was two days old when Poručnik Anto Broz return to duty following a 5-day rest and reset period. He'd spent the whole time at home, regaling his family of his tales of flying over Chernarus and was surprised to return to such an intense battle. Military observers were noting that it was the most intense battle of the year and likely the most intense since the invasion of Chernarus was completed. Almost immediately, Broz wanted in on the action and that was a request he'd be easily granted for his squadron was in the thick of the action, flying sorties in support of ground operations around Dubronyk and they were flying non-stop, wearing out their machines and their pilots at a rapid pace.

Pojan forces had established several checkpoints and outposts throughout the sizeable city of Dubronyk early on in the conflict but unfortunately for them, insurgent activity in the city never waned. By the beginning of 1969, there were an estimated two thousand insurgents operating in and around Dubronyk, mainly setting up ambushes for Pojan patrols. By summer 1969, that number had doubled and the insurgents were stocking up on weapons and supplies for something big. They were, in essence, planning for a major, urban battle in hopes of dislodging the Pojan "occupiers" and setting off a chain reaction throughout Chernarus, ultimately expelling the Pojans and securing independence for Chernarus. This was to be the "epic battle" that the Chernarussian war planners had envisioned when they decided to cede the country and make the Pojans bleed. This was to be their turning point. Opposing nearly four thousand insurgents were some twenty-five hundred Pojan troops in a motorized rifle regiment, equipped with BTRs.

That particular regiment had been fighting there since the beginning of the occupation of the city and they'd sustained heavy casualties but reinforcements kept coming and they held their ground. For the insurgents, the 4th of December was their agreed upon strike date. Having collected reconnaissance on the Pojan forces' movements and reactions for months, insurgent planners set up six ambushes throughout the city using IEDs and machine gun emplacements. In a highly coordinated manner, they struck in the morning as the Pojans began their day's patrols. After hours of intense fighting, the Pojan Army retreated to their outposts and other secure positions with fifty-two dead, over two hundred wounded, and seven missing.

It had been decided, almost immediately, that an overwhelming response should be given and so by the next morning, the Pojan Army struck back but the insurgents were ready and the Battle of Dubronyk became something of a massacre, for both sides. Air strikes were called in to level buildings without regard for who was or wasn't in them. The Su-7BM Fitters of Broz's squadron had done most of the heavy lifting, dropping 500 kg iron bombs and incendiary bombs. They strafed streets with rockets and cluster bombs and they'd even upped the ante by dropping chemical bombs. It was the first use of such ordnance in the conflict and it was a major step for Rugi, who had a policy to deny the use of such weapons. Poja's chemical arsenal was still small, a byproduct of a burgeoning program for "special weaponry" that was costing a lot of money and getting little results. The chemical weapons program had succeeded thus far but Poja's stocks were considered low and what they were dropping into Dubronyk was mainly riot control agents, CN gas or Mace. It was being used in advance of Pojan assaults to clear out hostiles from confined areas and it was working, somewhat.

For the insurgents fighting, the use of chemical agents had severely upped the ante and the forces fighting in Dubronyk became especially vicious. They set out to kill but also to capture, torturing and dismembering the Pojan prisoners and leave their bodies to be found. The insurgents didn't care about intelligence for they had the Pojan positions under observation since 1968 and they didn't care to learn anything about the Pojan plans because they knew them already, having watched their reactions since 1968. The insurgents knew more about what the Pojans were going to do than the average company and platoon leader knew. Whenever the BTRs left their depots, the insurgents kept an eye and funneled them into strike areas where teams attacked from above with RPG-7s. The carcasses of burned out BTRs littered the streets of Dubronyk and the sound of gunfire echoed constantly.

Broz ate it up, feasted on the notion of dropping bombs into such an intense warzone and on the morning of the 6th of December, he got his wish. Flying into battle this morning, he was carrying two 500 kg iron bombs, two 350 kg chemical bombs, and two 32-round rocket pods. He was flying as part of a four-ship formation with the aircraft carrying two sets of stores. Two had chemical bombs while two others carried incendiary bombs instead. The Pojan Air Force had found that when the chemical bombs struck an area particularly "dense" with insurgents, they would come to the fresh air to avoid the CN gas. At that point, dropping an incendiary bomb would kill scores of them. The insurgents had yet to wise up to it and just assumed they had bad timing so they waited before rushing out but the air force pilots simply delayed their subsequent bombing runs.

Broz and his flight arrived over Dubronyk around 10:00, in the thick of the morning fighting. Pojan forces had already suffered eighteen dead and forty-five wounded. Insurgent casualties were said to have been over one hundred by that point, mainly from sustained bombardment via ground-based artillery. The Pojan Army had threatened to use artillery against population centers but until Dubronyk, they'd yet to go through with it. Dubronyk was the first of many firsts for the Chernarussian Conflict and none of these were in a good way. The morning's fighting had started amidst some light snowfall that had, by now, blanketed most of the ground and the rooftops with a thin coat of soft powder. Of course that had only provided a minor backdrop to the day's festivities. Towering plumes of thick, rolling, black smoke pillared from the city as fires burned uncontrollably in certain parts, partly as buildings had been bombed and partly as roadblocks had been erected by the insurgents to funnel Pojan ground troops into kill zones.

With an otherwise low cloud base due to the weather, Broz and his men were forced to fly much lower than they would have liked, exposing them to ground fire. Insurgents feeling intrepid had emptied entire magazines into the sky in hopes of damaging or shooting down the Fitters but thus far they'd had no luck. Coming in at barely one thousand meters above ground, the Fitters were juicy targets but difficult targets for small arms and even if they'd scored hits, the aircraft's armored plating on critical areas would prevent any real damage from Kalashnikov bullets but this wasn't all that the insurgents possessed.

Within a few short minutes of arriving over Dubronyk, Broz and his flight had made three strafing and bombing runs. On the first run, Broz had dropped one of his chemical bombs into a building heavily populated with insurgents. As the CN gas billowed out of the open windows, insurgents moved to the lower floors in an attempt to find better air as the gas rose around them. The building was then struck by 500 kg bombs from two other aircraft and finally it collapsed into its center, killing dozens. The second run was a rocket attack against several emplaced positions that also saw incendiary bombs dropped as well. On the third run, Broz dropped his second chemical bomb into an otherwise open block area where insurgents had fortified themselves into trenches and covered bunkers. Incendiary bombs, rockets, and iron bombs followed, causing major casualties.

Now he was on his fourth run, still carrying his two iron bombs and about a third of his rocket ammunition but all of his gun ammunition remaining. Ground forces had set up his flight to strike a small park that was being used as a staging ground for insurgent forces. Largely protected by trees and walls, ground forces had resorted to dropping mortars into it but they were finding themselves highly unsuccessful in hindering insurgents there. Airstrikes, they deemed, would be far more effective and precise and so, as Broz's flight still had fuel and ordnance, they were called upon to strike the park. Broz was assigned the fourth slot on this pass and he watched as three other fighter-bombers rolled in first, dropping the last of their ordnance into the park. Iron bombs exploded with tremendous fury followed by the spread of rockets exploding like fireflies. When Broz finally rolled in however, he first let out a salvo of rockets, emptying the 32-round pods before pickling off his remaining bombs. Then he pulled up and lit the afterburner, having kept his speed low to avoid overshooting the park or worse, crashing due to excessive forward speed.

The Fitter responded well to him as he climbed out of the park but the afterburner on his AL-7F-1-250 turbojet wasn't just providing him with thrust. It was also providing a ground team with a brilliant heat source for their infrared-guided, surface-to-air missiles. Against the gray background of the sky and the cold air temperature, the afterburner exhaust of Broz's Su-7BM was as good of a target as they could have had. The two insurgents, each holding a Strela missile launcher tracked the Fitter as it climbed, receiving an audible and visual indication that the missile was in fact tracking the fighter-bomber. With that, both of the gunners fired and their tubes bucked as the light, nearly 10-kg missiles ejected from the tubes by way of a solid-fueled booster rocket. Once clear of the gunner, the main rocket fired and propelled the missiles up to supersonic velocity. Broz never knew he'd been targeted. His cockpit gave no warning, either visual or audible, that a missile was tracking him, which was what made missiles like the Strela so deadly in the first place. Furthermore, none of his wingmen saw the missiles fired as each one had come off target and they were beginning to head home. Tracking on his exhaust, the two missiles hit moments later, with both of their warheads detonating, sending deadly shrapnel into the engine and the rear of the airframe.

To Broz, the first indication that anything was wrong was when those missiles hit and his aircraft lurched violently forward, twisting on its axis. Shrapnel tore through the engine and his rear control surfaces though the robustness of the Fitter meant that this latter damage was largely irrelevant. The damage to the engine; however, was mortal. Warning lights went off in Broz's cockpit and thick, black smoke trailed from his aircraft as he watched his oil pressure and his engine RPMs decrease. Calling out on the radio that he was in trouble, his wingmen immediately turned to see his aircraft level off slowly, wounded and trailing smoke behind it. Broz immediately turned away from Dubronyk but in that turn, the scariest words came over his radio headset as his wingman yelled, "Fire! Fire! Fire! Eject! Eject!" Broz didn't wait another second and it was lucky for him - perhaps - that he didn't. Trusting that his wingmen was implicitly correct, Broz reached down, clasped the red handles that he'd hoped to never need in his life, and yanked them up together. What happened next was so rapid that he barely had time to put his head back before he was clear of the cockpit.

Fired out of the cockpit by way of rocket, Broz was clear of the fuselage well before the severed fuel and oil lines caught fire and destroyed the aircraft. The seat detached and, because of his low altitude, his parachute deployed immediately. It had been barely a few seconds when he was under canopy, not necessarily enough time to process everything that had just happened.

Broz looked up and around, seeing the fuselages of his wingmen orbiting around. No one yet understood what happened, least of all Broz. It was only when the streak of a missile's smoke trail shot up from the ground towards another Fitter appeared that everyone understood what had happened. Unequipped with flares, the Fitter jinked but it too took a hit albeit the damage was less severe and plane remained aloft. Climbing above the cloud layer, the Fitters found safety quickly but that left Broz all to his own. A mayday had been called in for him but he wasn't going down in an area with friendlies, quite the opposite. In fact, before he even touched the ground, a platoon-sized element of insurgents was waiting for him, weapons drawn so that when he crashed into the ground, he had barrels of rifles aimed at him before he could even stand up and gather himself. The insurgents, furious and enraged but feeling elated with the victory that came from shooting down an aircraft, quickly stripped him of his gear and began to usher him into a building. Broz said nothing, keeping his composure, hoping that he was being taken to a commander for "interrogation" - if just to buy time - since he knew that his boys would be coming for him, or so that had been drilled into his and the head of every pilot who flew over Chernarus. Stories of what the insurgents were doing to captures was hardly kept secret and Broz was no fool.

For ten minutes, Broz was hurriedly rushed and pushed through a series of buildings, tunnels, and alleyways within Dubronyk. He could see, first hand, the devastation wrought by not only his bombs but also by the artillery and the general fighting between platoons and squads. Rubble lay everywhere, fires burned without attention, bodies lay where they'd fallen, and the buildings were pockmarked from where bullets and shells had impacted the exterior walls. For someone who'd been far removed from the conflict by flying solely overhead and spending the rest of the time in a secured airbase, Broz found what was before his eyes sobering. He felt his stomach churn and on more than one occasion, he vomited as he walked, though mostly from the sight and smell of the mangled bodies than from the battle damage. The insurgents, well accustomed to these sights, had no sympathy for one who caused such destruction and kept pushing him forward, even causing him to trip over himself and partly into the vomit he'd just upchucked onto the floor. To this, they shared a laugh while they pushed Broz forward.

Eventually, Broz found himself inside of a building's basement that was mostly but not fully sunken into the ground. There were small, 50-centimeter tall windows along the ground level, enough to let in light but little else. None of the glass was present and sandbags on the outside shielded them from gunfire. Wells dug into the ground underneath these windows prevented grenades from rolling into them. Sandbags lay everywhere, protecting everything important and Broz found himself shoved into a chair in the middle of a barren room lit only by the light coming into the windows, which wasn't much. Before him stood a tall, thick man with a long, thick beard, weathered skin, and an eye patch over his right eye. He wore the uniform of a Pojan soldier and he had a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder but he wasn't a Pojan soldier by any stretch of the imagination, at least not anymore.

"What is your name?" He asked Broz in perfect Liari with the speech inflections that Broz would inspect from a fellow officer rather than an enlisted NCO. Broz didn't answer. "Keep your voice then. We don't need it." The man nodded to two men standing behind Broz and immediately, they swooped in on the airman. One put him into a bear hug so strong that no matter how much he thrashed, kicked, and tried to use his head as a weapon, Broz went nowhere. The other, equally as strong, yanked his arm outstretched and held it there without so much as a bead of sweat against Broz's struggles. The man, the officer, walked around behind him and with the butt of his rifle, drove it so hard into Broz's elbow that the bone shattered upon impact. Broz was released and he crashed into the floor, writhing in pain.

"I asked your name," the officer asked again as he looked down at Broz. Still, Broz held firm and the officer stomped hard on the broken elbow. "You'll never fly again with an injury like this but we can make it so much worse," and he stomped a second time.

"Broz, Anto."

"Good, what is your unit?"

"The 29th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment."

"And lastly, young Anto, your rank?"

"Poručnik."

"A very junior officer you are,"
the man laughed, "get him up," he ordered to his two assistants. Broz was put back into the chair though his arm radiated pain outwards and sat limp at his side. He held it in a feeble attempt to reduce the pain but it only made it worse. "I am, well I was, a Pukovnik." The man said as he sat down himself, approximately two meters away from Broz. They spoke across this open expanse between them. Broz stayed silent. "Fighter-bomber. This means you fly the Fitters, the planes that drop gas and napalm on us. You bomb our towns and our villages with no regard for the people you kill. You're a true monster young Anto. You could have flown the Fishbed and engaged in aerial combat but you chose to fly the Fitter. You must enjoy killing women and children and bombing bakeries and schools. It was pilots like you, maybe even you yourself, who killed my wife and child. Behind you, my two compatriots have lost their comrades and family members by your bombs. So tell me young Anto, ever flown over Zarya?"

Hearing Zarya made Broz swallow whatever spit was in his mouth. He felt a cold chill come over him as he remembered the bombing run he'd made over Zarya, the first against a "civilian" target. He'd dropped his bombs onto what he thought was a warehouse but it had been a village school acting as a bomb shelter for scores of women, children, old men, and even family pets. "No," Broz answered, his voice hoarse and weak.

"Whether you did or did not is irrelevant. I just want to tell you what it is that you people do to us. You're fighting a war to keep a fictional idea together while we fight for our lives and our sovereignty. To you Liari, we're just second-class citizens. I suspect you look down upon us at this very moment." The man smiled. "I guess that would suit you very much. Dubronyk will be your undoing. We're prepared, very prepared. Look at the surprises we unveiled against you and your other comrades. Did you know we had these missiles?" Broz shook his head, "Well you do now. Let it be known that we have these missiles with which to swat you pilots from the skies for all of the pain and suffering you have given my people. We will win this battle and your people will see what it is like to lose your own livelihoods." The man was no longer smiling and he gave a nod to the men behind him. Broz felt the impact of a rifle butt against his head but then he was unconscious.

Broz was found two days later hanging from the rafters of a building. Ground troops secured the building as they advanced through Dubronyk, unaware of Broz's MIA status. His body was bruised all over, having been beaten and tortured by the insurgents for hours upon hours and finally given reprieve via death only he hadn't been hanged by a drop method. Instead, he'd been strangulated by the rope while a dozen men watched silently, taking in their own revenge.



• • • † • • •


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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun May 05, 2019 10:23 am

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Five BMP-1s

.:.
Chapter II
1970
Our Lord, punish the Edomites!
Because the day Jerusalem fell,
they shouted,
"Completely destroy the city!
Tear down every building!"





• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:00 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






It's a short commercial break and Tin Petrovic is back on camera. He's still standing in front of the photo montage. Before the break, the camera had focused hard on Tom's face, a face weathered by decades of nightmares and memories. He'd return but now Petrovic introduced his next interviewee, Luka Saric. Like Tom, Luka is elderly. His face shows age, his hair thinned so much that it is as if he doesn't have any. A scar, prominent and unmistakable cuts down the right side of his face from his ear to his jaw. He speaks slowly, reminiscing with each word spoken. The camera focused only on his face and the upper half of his torso, ignoring that he is in a wheel chair, a touching and dignified approach by Petrovic. Petrovic speaks with the same evenness and respect that he has spoken to everyone on his program, treating Luka no different than he'd treat the President of Poja himself.

"You fought in Belozersk in 1970?"

"Yes I did,"
Luka answered, "for nine days I led a mechanized rifle squad, five men and I. We were attached to a BMP-1, an armored infantry fighting vehicle. It could hold eight men but we never carried more than seven because it was too cramped. We also had a three-man crew consisting of a driver, a gunner, and a vehicle commander. In the first and the third vehicles, the platoon sergeant and the platoon leader were the vehicle commanders but I was in the second vehicle. I was the highest ranking man in that vehicle."

"So you really had eight lives, and your own, that you were responsible for?"

"Yes."

"How many men did you lose?"
It's a tough question but one that the interviewer and his subject had rehearsed prior to this moment. Petrovic never pushed these old veterans to places they weren't comfortable going. He wasn't trying to investigate a gross impropriety or some government scandal. He wanted to get a perspective from history as seen by no one other than those who'd seen it.

Luka held steady, firm. He didn't answer right away, seemingly thinking of how to answer such a question. It had been forty-eight years since that nine-day battle in the city of Belozersk, deep in the interior of Chernarus and abutting Lake Beloe. It was a city of approximately forty-two thousand people, back then. The largest, and the oldest, city on the lake, dating back to the Bronze Age and potentially earlier. During the Chernarussian War it was a major city for the insurgency and thus a major target for the Pojan military. From 31 May to 9 June, in 1970, the city was the site of a major offensive by the Pojan military. Those nine days were really part of a longer campaign that lasted thirty-three days but it was these nine that were the most memorable in the entire campaign.

Tthe camera kept its focus on Luka. The pause continued until finally he answered, his voice firm but his eyes back in 1970, his mind tormented by the words, "All of them…"

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Tuesday, 2nd June 1970 | 14:09 hrs [PST]

Belozersk, Chernarus, Poja | Liari District






The Battle of Belozersk (1970) was fifty-six hours old and it had yet to wane even one iota in its level of intensity. The city of forty-two thousand was home to approximately thirty-six hundred insurgents, many of whom had arrived in the prior three months, choosing the city because it was sympathetic to the insurgency and because it was easily defensible. Pojan intelligence knew this, which was why it threw an entire mechanized rifle regiment with twenty-four hundred men against the city. For the insurgents, they expected a long, drawn-out fight with the Pojan military but they got far more than they bargained for in the way of opposition. The BMP-1 IFVs were just part of the onslaught that included 122-millimeter howitzers and Tiperyn-made King Cobra tanks. The real losers of the fight were the civilians, all of whom were caught in between two armies indiscriminately firing at one another.

Luka Sarić was just twenty-six years old at the time, an old man by the military's many askew standards. His unit hadn't been deployed into Chernarus with the initial invasion or even in 1968 or 1969. As the first two calendar years of the conflict wore on, the intensity of combat only increased, despite the increasingly heavy hand that the Pojan Armed Forces used against the Chernarussian insurgents. In late 1969, the government in Rugi authorized the deployment of two, additional mechanized rifle divisions, adding just over twenty-six thousand men to the conflict. Their job was to take the fight to the insurgents and with Belozersk, they'd certainly done that, and so much more. The war in 1970 was far from the war in 1968 and it would be completely unrecognizable in 1972 and in 1974 from what it was in this particular year. Such was the ever-changing Chernarussian War.

News of atrocities being committed, by both sides, was slowly leaking out of Chernarus in drips and drabs. The military, ever tight-lipped about operations in Chernarus, merely downplayed them as propaganda or strengthened the belief that the Chernarussians were the ones committing all of those atrocities. Only a few of the soldiers deploying in 1970, who hadn't been in Chernarus before, believed the reports of atrocities being committed by their fellow comrades. Luka Sarić certainly didn't but by the end of the nine-day battle he'd understand why and how they were being committed, even if he and his troops had avoided the entire atrocities question.

Luka's platoon had deployed into Belozersk on the second day of the battle, taking up positions in what was once the Liari District of the city, so named because the dominant demographic group was Liari. They'd since fled the city except for a handful of the more stubborn ones. The first day had been quiet, insofar as that district was concerned. Fighting lay elsewhere in the city and though the sounds of mortars, artillery, rockets, gunfire, and fighter-bombers overhead were hardly missing from the Liari District, they were always "over there" or "that sector." It made the men of his company, which had dispersed throughout the district, feel as if the battle didn't involve them. They felt more like spectators.

All of that changed on the morning of the third day. Insurgents ambushed two foot patrols with machine gun fire and they'd destroyed two armored vehicles with RPGs. Then the war felt real to Luka's company. Insurgents moved in throughout the morning, attacking in numbers but quickly retreating into buildings and alleyways, hiding from soldiers chasing them. Casualties quickly grew but few turned from wounded into killed, largely because of a major organizational change that the military had made prior to deploying these two divisions. That change saw the addition of a corpsman and a sniper to every mechanized platoon, rather than keep these men at the company or the battalion level. Having a dedicated medic meant someone who could concentrate on wounded soldiers rather than wounded soldiers relying on their fellow comrades to drag them out and administer what little aid they knew. Having the sniper provided some additional firepower to the platoons and so far it was working.

Luka held the rank of vodnik 1. klase or OR-6 by the international, standardization. As the squad leader, he led a 4-man fire element that included himself with his Kalashnikov, an automatic rifleman with an RPK, a grenadier with an RPG-7, and an assistant grenadier who helped carry the rockets and who also wielded a Kalashnikov. The other two men in the squad made up the maneuver element, both of who had Kalashnikovs. It was the job of these men to flank the enemy and establish overwatch positions for the fire element to occupy. Of these six men, two were fresh out of boot camp with the rank of vojnik, the lowest rank in the entirety of the armed forces. One was a razvodnik, which was one rate up, one was a desetar, which was an OR-4, and one was a mladi vodnik or OR-4. The vehicle's three-man crew included a vodnik for the vehicle commander, a vojnik for the driver, and a razvodnik for the gunner. That meant three out of the nine were fresh out of boot camp, two more were young and very inexperienced though having been in long enough for their initial promotion. That left just four men who were experienced, though until now, none of them had seen combat before.

At twenty-six, Luka was the oldest but only by a few months over Vodnik Beban Marjanović. None of the vojniks were up to their nineteenth birthday yet. A young bunch, they got their taste of combat for the first time on 2 June 1970, a day none of them would ever forget but a day that only one of them would be able to keep alive in memory.

After the first ambush, Luka's men assumed a defensive posture around their checkpoint. They'd set up their vehicles to cover the full 360° area at a roundabout. They'd set up their platoon headquarters in an abandoned butcher shop that had already been looted of everything that wasn't rotten or grotesque. Their job was simple, prevent any and all vehicles and insurgents from passing deeper into Belozersk. Thus far, no one had tried. The ambush changed everything though and as the platoon's leader, a young potporučnik fresh out of officer's school, listened to the radio reports of battles throughout the company, Luka and the rest of the platoon waited anxiously, fearful of the moment when combat would come to them directly and they'd be forced to defend themselves against a determined, organized foe.

It didn't take long after that before the first bullets began to fly their way. It was a few pot shots at first, fired from an unknown or rather unseen position. The soldiers, who'd never been fired at before, weren't necessarily sure how to take the incoming pot shots. Were they ricochets? Were they real? What was it? A sense of acute disbelief came over them for just a few moments before an RPG streaked across the square area and slammed into the ground about five meters short of one of the BMPs. There was no denying what was happening at that moment and the BMP turret rapidly swung a few degrees to the right and unleashed the opening shot for Luka's platoon. The round, a high-explosive fragmentation shell, tore into where the RPG shooter was and exploded with tremendous effect. What was left of the shooter became a mangled mess on the ground. Orders were shouted and Luka's platoon began to return fire against insurgents who were occupying the buildings all around them. Coaxial machine guns on the BMPs provided the bulk of the suppressive fire and their 73-millimeter guns tore into windows and fortified positions of cover with great effect. Luka's platoon was well dug-in by this time but the insurgents were moving quickly, almost too quickly, and threatened to overrun them fast.

In the din of the firefight, Luka found himself side-by-side with their young but remarkably calm platoon leader who said in very loud words, "Get your squad up on that building and clear those fuckers out now!" He pointed to a four-story hotel just on the other side of the square.

"On it," Luka answered as he grabbed the men underneath him, specifically telling the young vojnik named Jovan Dučić who served as grenadier to use his rifle rather than his RPG-7. Lighting off the RPG-7 inside any of those buildings would kill or seriously injure any of them and while the young vojnik had been told that in training, it was easy to forget in the rush of combat.

Leading the way, he took his men out of their position, using the BMPs for cover, darting into a nearby building. The shooting sounded just a little muffled inside but that didn't take away the very realness of the situation. Unaware if insurgents had made it this far, Luka and his squad slowed down. Their weapons were shouldered and their eyes darting around, looking for movement or something that didn't look right. Everyone was tense but muscle memory was taking over and their training, as much of it as they got, was guiding them the rest of the way. Insofar as training was concerned, they were at an advantage. After the initial battles in 1968 and the spark of the insurgency, training regimens began to change in mid-1969 so that these men, in their basic training and in their pre-deployment training, received what would be the updated syllabus. The initial lessons learned had been passed down to them quickly, far more quickly than in peacetime.

Leading his men out of this building and into a back alleyway, Luka was able to move his men quickly past the next several buildings. They were in a bad position surely but in this alleyway they could defend themselves against the fire outside in the square and bullets were ricocheting into the open storefronts at street level. The alleyway, for what it was worth, was clear and they moved quickly, checking every possible direction in a full sphere around them until they reached the other side of the square and the building that Luka had been told to clear. Stacking up on the door leading into the building, the four-man element in the unit, led by Luka, entered and quickly cleared what turned out to be the hotel's kitchen. It was empty, having been hastily abandoned some days prior.

The other two men entered and now, the six-man team worked their way out of the kitchen and into the general service areas of the hotel. They encountered light resistance in the form of three insurgents that they were able to take down quickly enough that said insurgents never got a shot off on their own. Sticking with the service areas, they moved up to the next floor and began to work their way through it. Gunfire echoed in the narrow corridors and Luka split his team such so that he left his RPK gunner with the two-man element and took another rifleman with him. It was a firefight from the moment they arrived on the second floor and with little room to maneuver, they were quickly forced back into the stairwell, where the concrete and cinderblock walls could protect them. Firing from that enclosure, they could do little against the rooms of insurgents, who continued to fire down into the square.

For Luka, the stalemate wasn't going to last for long and so he and his men retreated backwards, covering their front and their rear as they moved back into the service areas on the first floor. Insurgents clued into their presence began to converge on them from both directions but his men continued to keep the pressure on, firing as they exfiltrated back through the kitchen and into the alleyway. In the fracas, one of his riflemen was wounded, Desetar Nemanja Matić, who having lost the use of his left arm and left leg, needed to be carried out by one of the other men. The heavy rounds of the Kalashnikov rifles had torn through muscle and bone on his left side and he was bleeding badly.

The men retreated back the way they came. Insurgents who followed wound up facing the sustained gunfire from not only two Kalashnikovs but also the RPK. Luka left his fire element behind, sans himself, as he returned to the BMPs to report on the situation. Six men simply couldn't clear the building and as much as the platoon leader was disappointed, he understood and began to order the BMPs to pump rounds into the hotel, which they did with great enthusiasm and it wasn't just the 73-millimeter rounds that they launched but also their anti-tank rounds, which were guided right into windows by the well-trained and well-drilled gunners. The hotel in particular took a tremendous beating and after the initial salvo of high-explosive rounds and anti-tank missiles, two things happened. The first was that the building caught fire and the second was that the three-man team Luka had left behind began to engage insurgents coming down the alleyway. It was a turkey shoot for them though it saw Vojnik Dučić wounded by grenade shrapnel.

A second incursion into the building was mounted by Luka's squad again though they had another four-man fire element with them as Luka was down two men. Dučić would need to be treated by the corpsman and Matić was being medically evacuated from the firefight. Entering into the building this time would prove to be a much different experience. The fire was spreading, working its way from one side of the building to the other. Ammunition could be heard cooking off on the upper floors and the smell of burned hair, nails, and flesh filled the corridors. They got only as far as halfway across the second floor and then the stairwell on the third floor. The fourth floor was, by then, fully engulfed in flames. Insurgents had largely abandoned it after the salvo and those who remained were either dead or too close to dying to save. The eight Pojans retreated out of it and the building was allowed to burn. Fire inside of the square tapered off as the insurgents retreated from the area but the toll was tremendous. The platoon suffered three dead and six wounded, two of whom were seriously wounded enough that they needed evacuation. Matić was counted amongst the dead, having bled out before he could be evacuated from the square. It hadn't been seen until the corpsman worked on him but one of the bullets had cut the femoral artery in his leg.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:33 pm



• • • † • • •



Wednesday, 3rd June 1970 | 03:45 hrs [PST]

Belozersk, Chernarus, Poja | Liari District






The Battle of Belozersk had taken on a lull, as all battles do at such an hour of the morning, and it was during this lull that Luka and the seven men left in his squad had opted to get some sleep. They'd chosen a clothing boutique that was barely recognizable as one anymore. Shattered glass, shredded clothing, and decapitated mannequins littered the floor along with the remnants of a triage center: discarded bandages, drained saline bags, and sticky blood. They hadn't taken refuge in the former triage area though but rather in the small, stockroom where the five men slept on a dirty floor surrounded by boxes of merchandise waiting to be put on display. The snores of these and other men sleeping around the area were the loudest sounds at this hour of the morning. The fast jets and helicopters had long since departed from their bases and the idling diesel engines of tanks and armored fighting vehicles were silent with their coldness.

Yet, like all wartime silences, their end is always abrupt and dramatic. This morning, that came in the form of mortar rounds. The first few landed in the square, exploding with tremendous a tremendous noise and flash. Everyone who wasn't awake was at that time as shrapnel whizzed through the air and the blast pressure shattered whatever windows still remained intact. Luka and his men shot awake immediately and took stock of the relative safety of their position. The mortar rounds going off outside would be harmless to them unless they ventured into the open. Being separated from the sales floor by a hallway and a door, they were far removed from the devastating effects of the shrapnel and the blast effects were limited in how far they traveled. Still, that didn't make them any more comfortable, knowing that mortars were crashing down around them.

There would be no sleeping through it but the grenadier, Jovan thought briefly about doing so until logic won out that there could be an assault coming. That was when Luka's radio cracked to life, "Sarić, you guys all right?"

"Yeah we're fine in here."

"Good, I'm coming over,"
their platoon leader said into the radio and a few minutes later, he and his radioman were knocking on the back door. "You boys have the cushiest place around," he said with a laugh.

"Well sir that's what we do."

"Well time to go, we think there's an ambush coming but with those mortars we can't do much. Counterbattery thinks they're about a klick north, maybe less. Certainly not less than seven hundred meters. Take your squad and go neutralize them. There's three tubes, maybe four. Watch yourselves for ambush."

"Yes sir."
Luka answered. He looked at the seven men around him, which included the three-man vehicle crew. The platoon leader left and he turned to his men, "Well you all heard him. I'm taking all of you with me so let's get moving." The three men from the vehicle crew had been issued submachine guns going into the conflict for this very eventuality. Their weapons were small and light, designed really for close combat rather than anything else. The maximum range on their weapons was a paltry two hundred meters and in practice, they were largely for use under fifty meters since they shot pistol rounds. They paled in comparison to the Kalashnikovs of the rest of the squad or the RPK of the squad's automatic gunner. Yet it was better than just a pistol or worse, nothing at all.

Setting off into the darkness, Luka and his squad weaved their way through two alleyways before reaching the next street over, which given its appearance seemed alien and extraterrestrial. The battle had turned virtually the entire city into a shooting gallery except, as it was, this particular street. So close to where a major battle had taken place, the men almost wanted to rub their eyes, thinking that they were still asleep. Vehicles were neatly parked against the curb, no windows were shattered, and the buildings weren't pockmarked from rifle rounds and grenade fragments. Luka and his men, feeling it ominous to disturb the scene as it was, moved carefully and quietly to the next street, a dead end for cars but not for pedestrians. Once again, they entered the alleyways and began to weave their way to the north. They moved like this for another few minutes, dipping into and out of alleyways, crossing streets one-by-one while they covered each other's crossing. They didn't know precisely where they were going but they had a general direction and that was good enough for the squad.

They navigated mostly by sound yet sounds in this city were deceptive. The buildings and street layout made for natural absorbers to sounds and after a few wrong turns, the men figured out that the direction of the sound wasn't as important as its volume was. Despite these natural absorbers, the sounds of mortar tubing grew louder and louder the closer they got to them until finally they found the enemy mortar unit. It was a platoon-sized element situated in a courtyard, protected on three sides by walls, a naturally defensible position. Rebel soldiers guarded the area and Luka and his men were nearly seen when they found the location.

"All right they're out there and we've got a good defensive force protecting them," Luka said, drawing back into the alleyway with his men. "Here's what we're going to do. Two squads of four. I'll lead the main fire element with Jakšić, Dučić, and Jocić. Dodik, you lead the second. Now the balance of firepower is off, you've all got submachine guns. Take my Kalashnikov," he said, handing his AKM to Vodnik Beban Marjanović in exchange for his submachine gun. Dučić, the grenadier, had put the RPG-7 around his back and went for his own submachine gun. The main element still had more firepower since Jakšić carried the RPK but this evened them out better.

"How do you want to attack?" Dodik, the senior rifleman asked.

"I want your element to pop out first and put suppressive fire onto the defenders down the street. They're pretty well covered but I think if we could lob a few grenades that way we'll be fine. With you suppressing fire, I'm going to move down and around to the courtyard and lob some grenades over the wall. As they come out we'll just mow them down," answered Luka, "any questions?" No one had any. "All right let's count up the grenades. We'll throw three over the wall. All right, let's go, on you Dodik." Dodik nodded and seconds later, he and his men moved out of the alleyway, set up positions behind cover, and opened fire. Their first salvo knocked down two rebel soldiers, killing them, while the rest scrambled for cover and began to fire back. Because of the noise in the courtyard, not everyone rushed out at once though a few men did so, being cut down by Luka as he and his squad moved out of the alleyway and around the covering force. Keeping low, they avoided the bullets coming their way until they reached the courtyard. Luka grabbed two grenades and Dučić the third. Pulling the pins on their RGD-5s, they didn't wait to cook them off, knowing that the fuse as anywhere from three to four seconds. The grenades went right over the wall and as they landed, the 110-gram TNT charges detonated. Anyone within three meters was killed instantly while those out to twenty-five meters were seriously wounded by the hundreds of fragments flying through the air.

As men ran out, Luka and his squad mowed them down until finally, after barely three-and-a-half minutes all went silent. "Jocić, take point," Luka whispered after a few seconds. Nodding, the assistant grenadier shouldered his AKM and the four of them prepared to enter the courtyard. They moved quickly, entering and working to clear the space but in doing so, several hostiles remained. They opened fire, cutting Jocić down quickly, though Jocić returned fire, killing one of them before collapsing to the ground. Jakšić and Luka mowed down the rest, using their superior volumes of fire to pour rounds into the hostile forces.

As they did so, a scream and an explosion were heard outside. Then there was gunfire and then silence. With the mortar pits cleared, Luka carefully maneuvered back outside to find the rest of his squad standing around, blank expressions on their faces. One of the rebel defenders had been crawling forward, using vehicles for cover. He got to within grenade range, threw it, and Vojnik Aleksandar Vidić, their driver, dove onto the grenade. Though he shielded the explosion with his body, saving the lives of the other men, he stood no chance. The grenade tore through his abdomen and his chest, killing him instantly. It was a tough price to pay and Luka looked at the two men he'd lost in barely five minutes of action and wondered if any of them would make it out of Belozersk alive.



• • • † • • •


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Poja
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Founded: Oct 11, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:39 pm



• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:00 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






The camera returned to Petrović who was held a grave and respectful look on his face. He'd let Luka speak without a single interruption for this was an interview, not an interrogation. Luka, whose eyes had started to tear up as he told of standing over the bloody bodies of his squad members was now off camera, a looming presence while Petrović waited to ask his next question. "And after that day what happened?"

The camera returned to Luka but he didn't start talking right away, he needed a moment. Petrović let him have it, not pressing or repeating the question. Luka heard it, Petrović knew that much. Luka was simply reliving what amounted to the worst nine days of his life. Luka had never told this story before and it might have been seen as something to get off his chest by an unassuming public but to Luka, it was as if he were reliving every painful second of it but this time he knew how it ended and he knew he couldn't do a thing to stop that outcome. "We had a day off," he finally said, his voice altered from the tears now coming down his face. "There were only six of us left by then, six of nine. Matić died in front of us and we had to watch his last seconds but we could see it was coming. We were preoccupied yelling into our radios for a medevac. There wasn't a damn thing we could do about either Jocić or Vidić.

"I put Vidić in for the Order of the Pojan Star and he was awarded it. Command didn't even second guess it and that was perhaps something good. His mother was taken care of after his death from that medal. They all should have gotten it, not just Vidić but he dove on a grenade. Self-sacrifice. Instant in that case. Jocić died so fast. Too fast. He was there one second and the next he was gone. Corpsman told me he died before he hit the ground, I guess they can tell. It was quick but it didn't make it quick for us. There was no coming to terms with what happened. A day off, what good was that?"
Luka said, angrily shaking his head.

"Where do you go for the day off?"

"Command has set up a rear bivouac area with some tents and some showers. It was about three klicks outside of the city and it was a hellhole. The rear echelon guys who managed it were abject cunts."
The word was bleeped but anyone could see what he said. "Here we are, men fighting in the thick of combat in a city that wants us dead and we took more crap from those guys than we did the enemy. We wanted to use the shower well they didn't want to turn on the water heaters because they wanted the hot water for themselves so we took cold showers. They told us to stay in a tent that had a hole in it and that was full of mosquitos. We won that battle at least. We wanted to eat food but they didn't start cooking fresh food until after we'd eaten so they didn't have to eat the old food. You wanted clean water you had to pay for it.

"One guy, who knows his name. Who knows his rank. Officer in charge tells us we can get a drink, he pats us on the back - nice guy at least - tells us we earned it and we shouldn't take any crap from these guys. Guess he knew something, wish he would have done something about it. So we go back to where they have the alcohol stashed. It's under lock and key because you know how soldiers get. If it isn't nailed down, we steal it.

"So we go back there and there's two guys there manning it, completely drunk. We asked for a drink and they start arguing with us. Telling us that it isn't ours. We should come back another day. Bless Marjanović's heart I swear. He grabbed that guy and threw him clear across the room, walked up to him, picked him up, and lifted him by his throat into the air. Now Marjanović was one-point-nine meters tall, big fella, and this guy was barely a meter and a half. Held him up there by his throat,"
Luka smiled, watching the scene in his eyes, "told him that if he uttered another word he'd remove every tooth in the man's mouth with pliers. Then he held up pliers, don't know where he found them. He had pliers. The guy wet his pants. We didn't have any trouble."

"What happened to Marjanović?"

"Stepped on a mine next day…"


• • • • ‡ • • • •


Friday, 5th June 1970 | 10:00 hrs [PST]

Belozersk, Chernarus, Poja | Central District






"Everyone get out now!" Vodnik Beban Marjanović shouted as the rear door hit the ground. A moment later, the BMP-1 was thrown sideways and a deep thud echoed into the interior cabin. Paint chips flaked into the air in an aerosolized dust and two bins snapped open, their doors hitting men as they scrambled to get out of the vehicle. Marjanović was the last one out and seconds after he got out, flames shot out of the top of the vehicle and also out of the cabin where they'd just been. Miraculously, none of the six men were injured though their ears were ringing and their heads buzzing. Meters away, their BMP-1 was burning, the ammunition cooking off after being struck by a recoilless rifle on its right side.

They were in the heart of Belozersk, in its central district. After a day of what turned out to be more stress than relaxation, Luka's squad linked up with the platoon for an offensive mounted against the city's central government building, a three-story, sizeable structure that bore the scars of war. Half of it was stained with the black residue of smoke from where it had caught fire on the first day of the battle. Its exterior walls were pockmarked and chipped from fragments and bullets and only a handful of its windows remained intact. The roof had a giant hole in it from where an air-dropped bomb struck the structure and detonated inside, destroying what amounted to a machine gun nest. The drop had been as precise as any drop with an unguided, iron bomb could be. The pilot had started his dive from 5,500 meters and released the bomb at 2,000 meters before pulling out of the dive and zooming overhead. That single bomb struck right where he'd aimed.

That had been days ago though and the entire world had changed since then. Snipers and hostile insurgents occupied the building and recapturing it was the first step towards recapturing the city. It was thought that the insurgents had made it their headquarters and so the Pojan Army surrounded it with BMPs, BTRs, and tanks and hammered the building with little regard for its survival. They were willing to reduce it to rubble just to plant a flag somewhere to show that they'd succeeded. They hoped to get the local insurgent commander alive as someone to parade in front of the television and someone to put on trial for crimes against the Pojan constitution. Whether or not they were going to be successful remained to be seen but they stood a good chance. To make matters more difficult for the insurgents, the Pojan Army had sent its combat engineers into the sewers and tunnels to booby-trap them and prevent an underground escape.

However, this was still something of a mechanized assault and without a mechanized vehicle, Luka's squad had no protection and nothing to do. Scrambling into an occupied building, they looked around at the war weary soldiers around them and moved away from the windows where snipers could engage them. "Now what?" Bajagić asked but no one had any answers for him.

Then the radio cracked to life with the voice of their platoon leader, "Fox Actual, Fox Two, status?" Luka walked over to Bajagić who'd had the sense - or perhaps the stupidity - to grab the radio on the way out of the vehicle and picked up the handset.

"Fox Actual, Fox Two, we're fine. Advise mission."

"Connect with Badger Nine over there and good luck,"
the platoon leader signed off and Luka handed Bajagić back the handset.

Situated in another command post approximately three hundred meters behind the target building, Badger Nine it'd take another ten minutes to find Badger Nine, who was the ranking officer in the assault. He bore the rank of potpukovnik and he directed Luka and his men to join an assault into a nearby building so that a machine gun team could establish a base of fire onto the enemy and pin down those in the windows while ground troops moved into the actual target building. The machine gun team consisted of two PK machine gunners and their assistant gunners, led by a cocky but experienced section leader who was eager to put suppressive fire onto the insurgent forces. This made their assault force eleven men, which was a good maneuver group to assault a building that was thought to be unoccupied by insurgents. This was only partly true.

They moved into the building fairly easily and with little incident. The insurgents occupying the central government building were too preoccupied with the armored vehicles to engage the eleven men entering what amounted to an office building adjacent to its position in the square. Rocket-propelled grenades and tracer fire streaked through the morning air while the cacophonous symphony of war echoed throughout the entire city, let alone the Central District. Once inside of the building, the men took on a tactical formation, moving quietly but quickly with their weapons raised, ready to engage anyone who wasn't wearing a uniform. If there was one thing about the insurgents, they were easy to spot because they didn't wear uniforms and by and large, the Pojan soldiers did. The exceptions were, of course, the specialized infiltration squads that operated behind enemy lines for reconnaissance and assassination purposes. Commanders, sergeants, and leaders were their primary targets.

They swept quickly through the first floor and then onto the second. It was here that they met resistance but only in the form of a three-man, insurgent unit looking to set up a machine gun of their own. They were quickly dispatched, having been caught unaware during their setup. It took Luka only a quick burst from his Kalashnikov to erase them from the world and from there, they moved onward, expecting more insurgents now that they'd seen three. The remainder of the second floor was clear however and they moved up to the third floor. That was when the battle really began. No sooner did they emerge from the stairwell than did hostile insurgents begin to engage them. Estimates put the enemy force at ten to twenty men but they had been waiting, having heard Luka's gunshots only minutes earlier, correctly concluding that they weren't friendly, outbound shots.

It would be a hard fight moving room-to-room, using the PKs as cover down the main corridors and leapfrogging ahead to keep the enemy persistently suppressed. It was during one of these maneuvers that Marjanović was killed. He'd just reloaded his submachine gun and moved out into the corridor. Behind him, the PK sat silent, the gunners changing out the belt for a fresh one while he and Dodik advanced to the next room. First, they sprayed the room with submachine gun fire, high and then low, being out of grenades. Then it was a quick reload and in they went. Marjanović never saw the tripwire until he heard the snap of the spring. It was a bounding mine, the nastiest kind of anti-personnel mine that could be employed. The mine itself jumped upwards into the air quickly, rising to a height of sixty-five centimeters before it detonated. Marjanović had just enough time to turn his body. The blast threw deadly shrapnel through the air, practically cutting Marjanović in half. His body would take the brunt of the explosion and the shrapnel, mortally wounding him. Dodik, who was only a meter or so behind him, caught significant shrapnel as well.

It was in that instant that the assault changed for Luka and his men. Moving in carefully, they quickly dragged out the bloody and mangled corpse of Marjanović and helped Dodik, who was still alive, get out of the room. Grenades were tossed in to defuse any other mines but none detonated, Marjanović having activated the only one present. Dodik's wounds were serious but the majority of the deadly effects went into Marjanović. Luka made sure that Dodik was evacuated quickly while they would have to leave Marjanović's body until they finished the assault, which they did only minutes later. The victory was bittersweet as Luka watched another of his squad members be carted away in a body bag. He remembered how, despite the utter assholes at the rear bivouac area, they'd all had a good night drinking together. They cried over and drank to their lost comrades and spoke of what they would do when the war was over and they were back home. Marjanović had wanted to be a painter and Dodik wanted to be a veterinarian. No one knew what Vidić, Jocić, or Matić had wanted to be. No one had the chance to ask them before.

Dodik would hang on for another two days but die on the operating table when surgeons were unable to stop the spread of gangrene throughout his inner abdomen. He died in tremendous pain, crying for his girlfriend who he'd never see again. Luka wouldn't find out until the end of the battle that Dodik hadn't survived, which felt like the ultimate kick in the pants to a man who'd gone into the battle with eight men under him and come out with none. For him Belozersk wasn't just some city involved in some battle, it was where his soul died.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Founded: Oct 11, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:17 pm



• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:00 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






"So you were down to just three other men, correct?" Petrović said as the camera returned to Luka's obviously distressed face. No answer came and his face began to quiver and spasm, "We can stop if you need."

"No,"
answered Luka, authoritatively, "I've kept this all in too long," tears started, only a few at first but then a steady stream, as if someone was slowly opening a faucet on both of his eyes. "It was just four of us yes."

"After that Friday what happened? Were you given another break?"
Luka shook his head.

"We had to go right back into the fighting, the rebels weren't letting up and neither were we. We fought hard the next three days, perhaps because we wanted to avenge our dead, perhaps because we didn't know what else to do. We'd been in combat for just a short while but we all felt as if each day had been a year…a decade…even a lifetime long. We had to keep fighting."

"How was the battle going? Were you winning?"

"No one was winning,"
Luka answered. "Maybe on a military map we were but no one was winning. Casualties were high and morale was low. The city was in ruins and only getting worse. That godforsaken city cost us so much."

"The battle was over on Tuesday right?"

"Right and Monday was the last day I fought in it."

"What happened?"

"Everything…"


• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, 8th June 1970 | 16:00 hrs [PST]

Belozersk, Chernarus, Poja | Residential District No. 2






Luka was seated on the floor, his back against a cinderblock wall, a cigarette hanging from his mouth. It was Dučić's turn at the window and the young vojnik was there, a Kalashnikov in his hands. Dučić might have been the squad's grenadier but in the wake of combat in Belozersk, he'd traded away his RPG-7 Rocket Launcher for an AKM, finding that the rocket launcher was largely useless in the confined quarters of street-to-street fighting. Bajagić, who had been the gunner in their BMP, had originally been issued a submachine gun, as all vehicle crewmen had been. The submachine guns were excellent indoors and as such, they were highly sought out and coveted thus making ammunition hard to acquire. It also didn't help that many of the supply soldiers, those who didn't fight on the battlefield but rather shuttled around personnel and matériel had taken a liking to the submachine guns and thus horded ammunition for themselves. While he hadn't traded it, he kept it in his rucksack and handled an AKM.

Luka and his four-man fire element had been attached to a composite squad consisting of a three-man vehicle crew made up from two vehicle crews and a two-man maneuver element from two separate squads. Thus, in one, nine-man squad, there were men from five separate units, none of whom knew one another until they'd been put together. Luka, the senior man in the entire nine-man squad hadn't bothered to learn the names of those in the other elements nor did he care much. They'd been assigned to guard a makeshift headquarters that the Pojan Army had set up in an apartment block. He kept his men at the watch post and the other five running errands or just out of the way. It was harsh but who were they to him? A lot had changed since they'd come to Belozersk and the loss of Dodik and Marjanović had been the tipping point.

Since Saturday morning, the Battle of Belozersk was entering its final and most furious phase. Half of the city was in ruins and over the next twenty-nine hours, a third of the remaining city would be reduced to battle rubble. Of course, the fight itself would largely be over by then when Pojan soldiers stormed and secured the insurgent's headquarters, killing or capturing their entire leadership. For the next two weeks, Pojan soldiers would patrol through an eerily quiet and largely abandoned Belozersk on mop up operations, chiefly looking for bodies to collect, booby traps to disarm, and holdouts to eliminate but twenty-nine hours was a long way away for the men fighting in the city. Casualties had been high and morale was obviously low.

The Battle of Belozersk was a turning point in the Chernarussian War. Urban warfare until then had been intense but not on this scale. From here on out, urban warfare would be truly decimating. Until then, the Pojan soldiers had been of the belief that their training, tactics, and weaponry would lead them to victory on the battlefield and in many ways it had. The insurgents, while everywhere, were losing ground. The war had become more brutal, more savage, and more inhumane but overall, the Pojans were winning. No one won in Belozersk and the Pojan Army most of all, seeing what it cost them, weren't apt to repeat their mistakes again. Future urban battles wouldn't see soldiers conducting recon or setting up ambushes to catch the enemy in small, tactical engagements. Instead, if they knew the enemy was in a building, they would level it with tank fire or an airstrike. If they suspected an enemy ambush, rather than recon they would pour as much fire into the area as possible with wanton disregard for potential civilians. Belozersk was left in ruins but the battle itself would leave the rest of Chernarus in ruins.

For Luka, the war was never going to end. As he sat there smoking a cigarette, watching Dučić look for targets across the park, he could tell that this war was going to go on forever. He never expected the battle to end nor did he think he would see the end of it. His unit had started with nine men and now it was down to four. The casualties had passed fifty percent but it was like that across the board. That was why five squads had been combined into one and put under Luka's command, not that he gave a shit about the other five men, especially when they bugged him, like one of them was about to do.

Luka saw him out of the corner of his eye. He kept low just in case their position was marked by a sniper. He was barely old enough to drive a car and he could barely grow any facial hair, though it was evident he was trying to grow a mustache. He'd been a vehicle driver but his vehicle had gone up in flames when insurgents attached a sticky bomb to it. Half of his squad was killing while they were eating while he and his vehicle commander survived because they were taking a piss fifty meters away. That was one of a dozen similar stories in Belozersk. "What do you want?" Luka asked, his voice clearly showing his irritation at being disturbed.

"Vukelić is asking for you," the young kid said. Luka hadn't bothered to learn his name.

"What's he want?" Vukelić was their platoon leader, having recently been promoted to the job after his predecessor stepped on a booby trap and severely damaged his leg. Eventually he'd need it amputated as a result of both infection and the extent of the damage. The enemy had begun using small landmines barely a few centimeters in size. The Pojans called them "Toe Poppers" because they had only a small amount of explosives in them. They weren't designed to kill, they were designed to maim, taking men off of the battlefield with major injuries to their foot. If they survived without needing an amputation they were amongst the lucky ones.

"Beats me, he said he wants to talk to you right away."

"Fine, stay here and don't do anything stupid,"
Luka said as he moved his way out of the room and into the protection of the inner corridors. With that protection, he stood up and gingerly walked to a room on the same floor but on the opposite end of the building. The windows had been boarded up and protected with sandbags and anything else the soldiers could find. Two walls were ripped apart thus turning an otherwise two bedroom apartment into a giant, single room. "You were looking for me, I heard?" Luka said as he came up to his superior officer.

"Yes, I want you to take your squad over here to this sector," Vukelić said, pointing at a map to a spot only about a kilometer away. "Couple of guys tripped some booby traps, no one killed but injured pretty badly. When the medics and the engineers went in to get them out, they came under attack from a sniper. It was an ambush setup. Two medics dead, three engineers dead, and the two injured soldiers managed to crawl to safety. We got them out but we need that sniper dealt with immediately."

"How do you know he's still there?"

"He's taking pot shots at our guys. He's a good marksman but he's reckless. We know his position precisely and we've been watching him move around, problem is we can't get to him, he's too well protected and we can't spare a sniper."

"What about Pavlović? He's got a fresh squad."

"Pavlović drew another mission,"
Vukelić answered, "one you don't want. Head over there and deal with this guy."

"All right, I'll leave some guys to watch the post and take the rest."

"Good, leave two or three, you don't need many there."

"Got it."
Luka turned and left, returning to where he and his men were posted. There, he gathered the eight men under his command and gave out the scoop. Rather than leave two men though, he left all five from the other squads and instructed them to maintain their position and shoot anyone not wearing a Pojan uniform and to regard anyone with it as suspicious.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:00 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






"How long did it take you to get there?" Petrović asked.

"It was only a kilometer but we had to weave our way through the streets. It was a little after 17:00. The sun was still pretty high up, you have to remember it was June. It didn't get dark until after 19:00."

"So what was this place like? Can you describe it to me?"

"Yes it was a warehouse actually. The sniper had set himself up in an upstairs office. He'd cracked the windows open just enough to fit the rifle barrel through and he was looking through the windows itself with his scope. They were pretty dirty from the outside so it was difficult to see but you could see the shadows inside. We'd learned to spot those. He had a good setup so we had to go around the back and try to sneak in quietly but we figured he'd booby trapped it."

"Did he?"

"Yes. He put in a tripwire with a grenade attached to it. We left it alone rather than play with it but it was easy to step over but not so easy to spot. He was good, probably had some military training. He was making shots at five and six hundred meters with a Dragunov. He knew how to operate the weapon effectively but a lot of that had to do with the scope."

"Can you describe it? For our viewers."

"Well picture a normal scope, we've seen those. Inside it is a horizontal line with markings and then a vertical line down center, more with markings. It's specially designed just for that rifle. Then on the bottom left is a range indicator. It's this sloping, curving line that goes from top right to bottom left. It works in a very special way. You put it on your target and depending on where his head falls, you can tell how far away he is up to one kilometer."

"Does it take training to use this?"

"Yes and no. Any amateur rifleman can use a scope but it takes training to shoot effectively that far with that instrument in those conditions."

"What happened after you entered the warehouse?"

"We kept low and quiet. It was dark in there. We knew where he was but we also knew that he could easily spot us because we were largely exposed. We aimed to sneak up the stairs from behind and just shoot him. We got as far as the stairs."

"Do you want to continue?"
Pain continued to contort Luka's face and Petrović, the ever compassionate interviewer gave him yet another opportunity to bow out of his story.

"Dučić was too young, too young to die like that…" Luka said, his mind wandering. "The sniper must have heard us, I don't know how. Dučić was moving up the steps and the next thing any of us knew, he was dead. The sniper was quick, fast, and he, we never knew how he did it. Dučić was in the front, his weapon ready. He was going to pour fire into the office and get that son of a bitch but whatever happened, whatever alerted that sniper to our presence meant the end for Dučić. His head…" Luka's eyes glazed over as he witnessed it happen in front of him again. "That sniper couldn't have been more than twenty meters away. His head just exploded. I'd never seen it. We were paralyzed but it, we just didn't know what to do. Dučić was there one minute and the next we were covered in blood. His head had been blown clean in half, split down the middle. The round had gone in through his nose I think, it was hard to tell what was what afterwards. He simply fell limp to the ground, crumpled in a ball of death."

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, 8th June 1970 | 17:22 hrs [PST]

Belozersk, Chernarus, Poja | Residential District No. 2






The volume of fire that Luka and the rest of his men poured into the office was tremendous. They went fully automatic on their weapons, especially Jakšić with his RPK. In barely five seconds, they'd put one hundred rounds into the office, sprayed at various points. The thin, sheet metal of the exterior wall had been punched through like Swiss cheese, those bullets continuing through everything they encountered. Furniture in the office was torn to shreds, the windows were shattered, and the bullets kept going. The sniper was wounded, not mortally but he'd been hit by two rounds, one in the foot and the other in the shoulder. His gun had fallen to the floor and in that brief moment that it took the men to realize their weapons were out, a grenade came sailing out of the window.

Shrapnel cut through the air, killing Bajagić first and straight away but wounding both Jakšić and Luka in the process. Jakšić caught shrapnel to the neck however and collapsed, holding the wound as he struggled to breathe. Luka threw a grenade back and it detonated just as it went through the blown out window separating the office to the warehouse floor. The sniper was finally immobilized but at a terrible cost. Bajagić's body lay on the floor where he'd fallen, only two meters from Dučić. Jakšić was at the base of the stairs and he dragged himself against a wall so that he could sit up, his throat bleeding profusely as he clutched it. Blood came from his mouth and fear came over his eyes. Luka struggled to get to him and when he did, he had Jakšić pull away his hand momentarily. Blood squirted out with tremendous force that Luka shoved Jakšić's hand right back onto it and then held his own there. The blood dribbled over their fingers and Luka, tears in his eyes, sat there, motionless, silently crying as Jakšić died in front of him.

As Luka told the story to the camera he went on further, further than he'd ever gone before. His hands were covered in Jakšić's blood, his uniform with that of Dučić. He'd had only his knife, having left his AKM behind. He moved up the stairs without care for caution and pushed open the shattered, splintered, and shredded door to step into the office. The sniper was lying on the ground, groaning in agony, his rifle five meters away. There was a pistol at his side but he didn't try to go for it. Luka relieved him of it, throwing it out of the door so that it crashed onto the steps and fell to the floor. At first, he stood over the sniper who was now in the fetal position, clenching his abdomen where shrapnel had torn into his stomach and unleashed a burning and searing pain.

Then Luka began to kick him and hard. Each kick went right to the back, to where the sniper's kidneys were. He kicked him a dozen times, each one harder than the last, four kicks per man. Then he gave a thirteenth, for himself and sent the man flying across the floor. Blood streaked behind him and Luka walked through it, up to the man who was spitting up blood, in obvious agonizing pain. Luka bent down and looked at the sniper, straight in the eyes but he said nothing. He drove his knife into the man, slowly, methodically, in and out, in and out, in and out, as calm rage controlled his actions. When he was done, the sniper was still alive but barely. Luka contemplated what to do next, how further to exercise his rage but he found that he wasn't getting joy or satisfaction in what he was doing. He felt like a monster but he didn't know how to feel like anything else. He didn't have regret for what he'd done but he didn't see the point in it anymore and so he put his boot onto the sniper's throat and stepped down, crushing it slowly, watching the life go out of the man's eyes as he asphyxiated to death on the warehouse floor. Luka cleaned off the blood from his knife and put it back into its sheath. Leaving the sniper there, he returned to the warehouse and saw the bodies of his men where they'd fallen. He'd gone into Belozersk with eight men under him, eight friends, eight people he'd trust his life with, and here he was, alone…



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Poja
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Founded: Oct 11, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:33 pm

Image

.:.
Chapter III
1971
For Thou are the Resurrection, the Life
and the Repose of Thy servants who have fallen asleep
O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory
together with Thy Father, who is from everlasting
and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit
now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.





• • • † • • •



Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:15 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






When the camera returned, the backdrop had changed. It indicated that the program had advanced to 1971, which would take up the final fifteen minutes of the one-hour segment. They'd gone through three years already, dedicating fifteen minutes and one soldier's story to each. Yet for 1971, the program went in a different direction. Sitting in front of the camera was the sixty-seven-year-old Basil Istomin and, as the caption indicated, he'd fought not for Poja but rather, for the insurgency. The camera turned to Tin to Petrović who afforded his next guest the same level of respect as the others. To the hardcore nationalists, this might cause a problem but to many of the veterans of the Chernarussian Conflict, the insurgency garnered just as much respect. They'd fought hard and just as honorably and dishonorably as they had. Many decades had passed and the healing had been slow but effective.

Petrović gave a brief introduction for Basil. Basil had joined the insurgency in 1970, two years after the conflict had begun and he had his own, very personal reasons for joining. He'd grown up in the port city of Berezino, which had always had a rough reputation. At the onset of the Chernarussian War, the city had a population of 735,000 people and two-thirds of them weren't Chernarussian but rather Liari. Berezino had become a major shipping center for Chernarus, handling virtually all of the commercial shipping for the South Zagoria district. It also had the largest lumber mill in Chernarus. A very blue collar city, by its nature it attracted the more disreputable people in society. Bar fights often turned deadly and an influx of foreign sailors on short stays, combined with the ethnic variations made it perhaps the most volatile city in all of Chernarus, especially by 1968.

"So tell us a little about your background," Petrović asked of his guest, the camera now flipping to the gray-haired man with an otherwise smooth face but whose nose had been broken more than once in his life.

"Well I grew up in Berezino. My father had always lived there but my mother had grown up in a small village about one hundred kilometers away. She had three brothers and a sister and they had two cows and chickens. I remember visiting my grandparents when I was young, before the war. We'd always have chores to do. You see, they bartered eggs and milk to the rest of the village for vegetables and other meats. It was like that back then. My mother had come to Berezino, she was the youngest you see, in hopes of doing something different. I don't think my grandparents ever approved of that because all of her other siblings stayed close.

"She met my father who was a policeman and from what they'd always told me, it was a rough affair. My father worked a lot, you see policemen had no shortage of issues to deal with in Berezino back then and they were known for being rather rough, if you know what I mean. He'd often come home bruised from getting into fights with the drunkards. Eventually they got married and I was the third of four. I have two older brothers and one younger sister.

"When the war broke out in 1968, I was seventeen. My oldest brother was a cop and the next one worked at the lumber mill. My sister was just twelve. Somewhere in 1969, my oldest brother 'disappeared' one night. About three months later my other brother followed. Then my father was shot and killed in 1970 by Pojan troops."

"Your brothers disappeared?"

"The Pojan Army would go around at night and essentially arrest, or rather kidnap, what they deemed as 'military aged males.' It was part of their anti-insurgency tactics. This was anyone, male of course, between the ages of eighteen and forty-nine. They would arrest them on suspicions of being part of the insurgency or aiding the insurgency with little to no proof. They'd bring them somewhere else and we'd never see them again. I never saw my two brothers again and I can only assume they were killed by the Pojan Army."

"Were they part of the insurgency?"

"My older brother wasn't, he just wanted to collect his pension. He was a cop and working with the Pojans, like my father did. It made them targets for the insurgents actually. My father escaped two assassination attempts by the insurgents and my brother was picked up one night by the insurgents and threatened by the insurgents. My other brother I don't know. He could have been an insurgent, he had the proclivities for it. I know there was a lot of insurgent activity at the lumber mill."

"Is this what made you join the insurgency?"

"Absolutely,"
Basil answered with no hesitation. "Seeing my father killed by the very army he was helping was, to me, the biggest stab in the back by the leadership in Rugi. You see we are Chernarussian in ethnicity but our family wasn't a bunch of nationalists, at least everyone but maybe my one brother. We didn't care much for the politics, in fact I never remember talking about politics with my family or hearing them talk about it growing up. My father rarely spoke about the incidents he suffered at work and my brother was the same way.

"So to us, the war was unfortunate but we didn't feel that we were part of it. Berezino, being mostly Liari in nature, was spared a lot of the destruction - at least in those early days - that most of the other cities suffered. When you think about what happened in Belozersk and then look at Berezino it's hard to imagine the two cities are in the same country, let along the same conflict. We had some police action, people being arrested, local insurgents, but by and large, compared to the rest of the country, Berezino was peaceful. I mean it was a rough place but it was removed from war."

"How was your father killed?"

"He was manning a checkpoint with his partner. He was forty-nine at the time. A Pojan Army unit came up to relieve them but from what I was told, they'd been drinking. It's muddy what really happened but someone said something to someone. There was something of a fight and one of the soldiers pulled his gun on my father who, I guess, was beating the crap out of his buddy. My father turned around and the soldier, maybe he was just a green recruit I never learned, squeezed the trigger. We had to give a closed casket funeral. My mother collected his pension. His partner came to visit us a few times afterwards. My mother never confirmed but I think he had the soldier killed. Whether he did or he didn't, it didn't really change anything.

"When I heard this, I just couldn't sit by anymore. I was seventeen and, in my mind, old enough to fight. I knew a few people in the insurgency, I mean everyone knew someone fighting against the Pojan Army. I connected with them and in February 1971, I was officially a fully-fledged member of the Chernarussian Insurgency."

"What kind of training did you get?"


Basil laughed, "Training? That's funny," he kept chuckling. "They handed me an AKM and some bullets and said 'Don't get killed' and that was it."

"Do you think that was reckless?"

"Now? Yes. Then? No."

"How many insurgents were minors, would you estimate?"

"Not that many,"
he paused for a bit to think, "I believe I saw a report afterwards that put only two thousand children, that is minors under the age of eighteen, fighting during the conflict. I'd say that's probably accurate. It might be low but it wasn't twenty thousand or even ten thousand, maybe five at the most but that's just a guess. I have no reason to really question the official tally."

"Were you attached to any unit at all? How did it work?"

"Well the insurgency was only semi-organized, even in the latest stages of the war. Perhaps that was why we lost. Each insurgent group was a 'battalion' if you will, organized like militias. They were all led independently of one another and sometimes they cooperated and sometimes they just did what they wanted. The commanders set their own objectives, which sort of fit a loose, overall scope of what other battalion commanders were doing but that was about it."

"How big were these battalions?"

"They varied. I think the largest one was two thousand men but most were around five or six hundred. Ours was just three hundred because of the area. It was mostly Liari people so we didn't have the biggest pool of men or women to draw."

"What were the roles of women in the conflict, now that you say it?"

"They did everything, fought with us even."

"How were they treated?"


Here Basil made a face, "In some units like equals and in others it wasn't good. I'd heard stories of women being attacked and raped by the very men in their own unit. Stories yes but I can see an element of truth in them. You have to remember, back then, our society was still very much in the idea that women were in the kitchen or raising the children. There was a lot of machismo back then, especially in the insurgency."

"Did you witness any mistreatment of women or really anyone in your unit?"

"No,"
he said, "I mean I saw soldiers being punished for drunkenness or for errors but nothing that I would call mistreatment."

"What was the common punishment?"

"It depended on what you did. For example, if you failed to properly maintain your weapon you were forced to do a lot of pushups or to clean your gun forty or fifty times until your fingers were too sore. They'd make you take it apart, clean it, reassemble it, and then do it over and over and over again until it was so clean it might as well have been a new weapon, never before fired. If you were a coward in combat it was more severe. You might get beaten."

"Did you ever see anyone executed?"

"Once."

"Do you want to say what happened?"

"It was only about six or seven days after I joined. I was still pretty scared. There was a firefight in Dubrovka and one of the machine gunners had wanted to settle a score he had with someone else. During the firefight he shot one of our own soldiers right in the back, tore him in half practically. Friendly fire wasn't a common thing and so it was investigated and when they found out that it was murder our commander assembled all of us, well those of us who he could get, and held an execution in a warehouse. It was the only place we could meet without being seen easily. They shot the murderer in the back of the head in front of everyone."

"Was it true? What happened?"

"I have to think it was,"
Basil answered, "there wasn't a tyrannical bloodlust for anyone who disobeyed orders and our militia commander wasn't the kind of man who would shoot someone for no reason."

"Would you say he was a fair man?"

"Very, especially with the young ones, like me but he was stern, very stern. He was very disciplined and he wouldn't afford anything else."

"Were you ever punished?"

"Loads of times, I was constantly making small errors and punishment was, in a way, teaching. I tell you that I never committed the same errors twice."

"Tell us about your first time in combat, when was it?"

"I'll never forget that day,"
Basil said. "It was April 8 and we were going to set up an ambush for a supply convoy going into Khelm. Khelm was a town by definition, maybe five thousand people, probably less, I can't remember. The Pojan Army had set up an outpost there because it was south of Krasnostav, where they had a large cavalry and helicopter base. The outpost in Khelm was for a platoon-sized element of infantry, which in those days meant there was no more than twenty-nine men at the outpost. Of course, they were motorized units so that meant they had three BTR-60s, which meant they had some heavy guns. But when you factor in combat attrition, those outposts, though they were meant for twenty-nine usually had no more than twenty.

"Once a week, a supply convoy went up to Khelm bringing two truckloads of supplies. The convoy was protected by three BTR-60s, another motorized platoon. Normally they'd run one vehicle in front and one in the rear and one in the middle between the two trucks. Back in those days, the Pojan Army used the Ural-375 truck, a six-wheeled cargo truck. They'd normally have two men in the cab so that they could drive and shoot at the same time. Each truck held, on average, just over five tonnes of supplies. They'd bring in food and ammunition but sometimes special stuff that crafty supply sergeants managed to sneak into the outposts. We - as in the insurgency - has been hitting them left and right throughout the war, especially by 1971.

"So we went up there, about forty-five of us. There was no standard platoon or squad for the militias. I think at that time, we had nine-man squads so we were five squads, a good amount of firepower really if you think about it. We definitely outnumbered the outpost but not necessarily the outpost and the convoy.

"We knew what we were doing though. This sort of thing had been in the planning for about six weeks before we launched it. I don't know how but we got a hold of the supply schedule and so we knew precisely what time we had. I guess we had spies within the Pojan Army or maybe they just watched the resupply convoys from other days. Either way, they knew everything. During the night, we dug and set mines to catch the lead BTR about one kilometer from the outpost. Then they dug and put command-detonated mines along the road so that they could get the other vehicles."

"What do you mean by 'command-detonated'?"

"They were hooked up to detonators, plungers really. We'd run the wires under the dirt and to where we were hiding so that someone could detonate them from cover. Our tactic was going to be to blow up the front and the rear BTR and hit the middle one with RPGs. We had two RPG teams, which meant two rocket launchers that were going to attack from both sides. If we were successful, we'd destroy all three BTRs before anyone could get out of them and wipe out the entire platoon. Then we'd kill the truck occupants with rifle and machine gun fire. We set up two squads, one on each side of the road."

"What about the outpost?"

"What about them indeed! That's where the other squads came into play. Two more would be put near the outpost so that they could open fire on it with machine guns and rocket launchers. All we had to do was tie them down for five minutes. By then we'd get the supplies and get out of Khelm and into the forest where we could offload the supplies and take them to one of our caches. We had a few set up in the area."

"Was five minutes a special time?"

"Yes it was. We could expect to have artillery coming onto our position within five minutes of the attack. We had to be really quick. They had an artillery unit up in Krasnostav and their guns could reach fifteen kilometers without effort."

"And how far was Khelm to the artillery guns?"

"Less than two kilometers. In fact it wasn't just the guns we had to worry about at that range it was the mortars too. They had some big guns, one hundred and fifty-two millimeter but they also had one hundred and seven and one hundred and twenty millimeter mortars there and those had ranges of around six kilometers so you can imagine the level of bombardment we'd be under if we weren't fast and by then, the Pojan Army was indiscriminate with their fire support."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Well they'd just drop artillery and mortars into an area and they wouldn't care if it was a village or what and they'd drop a lot of rounds before they stopped."

"Would they hit Khelm as reprisal?"

"They did but we didn't think they would but they did."

"How did the ambush go?"

"Fast. It was my first time in combat and I think I fired ten rounds maybe less. The convoy came up and the first vehicle hit the mines and then they detonated the rear mines. The Pojan Army kept a uniform spacing on their vehicle so it was easy to estimate where the other BTR would be. Then we took out the middle one. It was so loud and everything happened so fast. I think the entire ambush took a minute, maybe less. No one was killed or hurt, the Pojans didn't even get a shot off before we wiped them all out in one go. I don't know that I'll ever forget the sight of the burning BTRs. They went off like firecrackers as their ammunition burned up inside. No one tried to get out of them, they didn't stand a chance. At the outpost, no one was killed either, on both sides, and they called in the fire mission but it arrived too late. We were out of there in less than four minutes, let alone five."

"What did you shoot at?"

"The trucks but I don't even think I hit them. I had my Kalashnikov on automatic, I got in trouble for that too by the way. Single fire only because it was more controllable and because it saved ammunition. I let out one burst from where I was, it was maybe ten rounds, I never checked my magazine afterwards and I think they all went above the truck."

"What happened after the ambush?"

"Two men jumped in the trucks, pushed out the bodies, and drove like a bat out of Hell into the forest along some dirt tracks. We had to offload the supplies later, lots of food and ammunition. It was a big score."

"Were you ever part of another convoy ambush again?"

"No."

"Why was that?"

"Well we didn't need more supplies for a while and by the time we did, the Pojan Army began escorting their convoys with not only three BTRs but helicopters too and by then I was involved in other operations. You know it's not hard to plant mines and hit a stopped vehicle with a rocket launcher from fifty meters away but to shoot down a helicopter with an RPG-7? I'd never seen it done. We tried, oh we shot RPGs at them left and right but maybe we had one hit for every one hundred fired and usually only when they were in a hover. The helicopter pilots were pretty good. They'd whip around fast and they had rocket launchers and gun pods and they'd just rake fire with us. That day we probably killed twenty-five to thirty-three men, depending on the strength of the rifle platoon. A lot but we'd lost a hundred men executing ambushes when helicopters were present. We stood no chance."

"Well thank you very much, we have to cut to a commercial but when we come back we're going to hear about your further exploits in 1971."
The camera went to black and a commercial came on advertising whatever products and services were sponsoring this particular episode.



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Last edited by Poja on Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:37 am



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Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:15 hrs [PST]

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Poja Investigates returned to the screen as the minutes counted down until the end of the broadcast. Petrović's face was back on camera standing in a small studio space, the same banner behind him as had been throughout the broadcast when he wasn't speaking with soldiers being interviewed. "Nineteen seventy-one was a major year in the Chernarussian Conflict. The intense fighting of the prior year escalated dramatically and with it, the cost of keeping Chernarus part of the Confederacy of Poja. Let's return to Basil Istomin, a rebel fighter in Chernarus as he tells us about that fateful year." The camera returned to Basil's weathered face and he began almost immediately, having been asked a question off camera as was the style of these broadcasts.

"Well I was actually a pretty good shot," Basil began, "my grandfather taught me how to shoot in the village when I was young. He would train me to shoot at four and five hundred meters and how to use a shotgun against birds. With an assault rifle I was garbage, couldn't hit a thing but with an old, bolt-action rifle I was very good and so before long I was being trained to be a sniper."

"Where did the training occur and how?"

"We used the mountains to train. The Pojan Army did not have as much presence there as they did in the cities and the valleys. So we would go up there and shoot but we had to be very careful. We wouldn't stay up there for long, only a few hours. Sometimes we would be up there and a helicopter would patrol overhead. For these times we hid underneath trees and sometimes in small caves but not always."

"Did you attack the helicopters?"

"Yes but only once when I was there. We made it a part of our training."
Basil waited for a moment and then continued, remembering that specific event. "It was in late April or maybe early May. I was in training only a few weeks by then and we were in the mountains about two hundred kilometers southwest of Berezino. By then, the South Zagora District was impossible to train in so we had to go further southwest. We were practicing against moving targets, a very difficult setup."

"What did you use for moving targets?"

"Rabbits. We would shoot them and that would also be our dinner but they were very far away, three hundred meters. Our rifles were then twenty-five years old but we kept them in very good shape so they could easily fire to eight hundred meters with a scope. We were being taught to lead the rabbits and shoot them on the run. It was extremely difficult. As we were wrapping up however, a Pojan Army helicopter appeared, a Mil Mi-2. I believe they were on a scouting mission because they began to fly in circles over the area, perhaps someone called the army about the shooting in the mountains or perhaps they had a patrol out there listening.

"At first it was just circling but it couldn't find us. We were hidden in some bushes but then the pilots must have seen something because they began to get closer. We wouldn't be able to run away because we lacked cover and the helicopter was armed with rockets and machine guns. We were just hoping it would pass us by but it would not and so we opted to try to shoot it down. Inside of the bushes, we were lying on our stomachs and so we flipped over and together, we aimed for separate parts of the helicopter. Our trainer directed us to shoot at the engine area, where two men would fire and the windows, where three men would fire. He wanted us all to get off two shots on target. We had to wait for the helicopter to get closer but when it did, we all fired one then two rounds quickly.

"We didn't think we did much at first. We could see the cracked windshields but then the helicopter began to make this strange noise. Smoke appeared by the engines and we could see the pilot slumping forward, against the control stick. The helicopter nosedived for the ground and smashed into it some one hundred meters away from us. We didn't bother investigating, we ran, knowing that the army would come looking for their helicopter, especially if there was an army patrol out there. Unfortunately it meant we couldn't get the rabbit carcasses and so we had to find other food for the night. We were staying in a village ten kilometers away so it was a bit of a walk back to it. We were pretty tired when we got there but there was some leftover stew that we ate."

"Where did you fire?"

"On the helicopter?"

"Yes."

"The windshield."
Basil said, seeing in his memories as the first rounds impacting the windshield cracked the window but did not break it and how the second volley did, shattering the window. The pilot had been struck by two of those rounds, both in his chest. The rounds into the engine had caused damage to the oil lines and it wasn't until the oil spilled around the engine parts that it began to smoke. The pilot hung on for a short while before he collapsed forward, unable to breathe from the wounds to his lungs. The co-pilot had struggled to get the helicopter out of the dive but they were too low and by the time he pulled the pilot off the stick, they were but twenty meters from the ground. Impact came only moments later at their rate of descent.



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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:28 pm



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Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:15 hrs [PST]

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"I think the most memorable day," Basil continued after finishing the story of shooting down the helicopter. "It was probably in August. I was done with my training and they moved me and a small team of other snipers to Novigrad. You know, it being the capital, it had a special significance to both sides in the conflict. For us, we wanted to wear down the Pojan soldiers and make them bleed for every day they remained and to them, it was a symbol of dominance. They held Novigrad throughout the war and why not, they had three divisions in the city alone. HQ wanted us to go there and start harassing them, making life hell for the Pojan soldiers.

"So we went. There were eight of us in total. We were led by an old veteran of the war who'd been fighting since it began. He was an officer of some sort, I can't really remember. We snuck into Novigrad during the night through the sewer tunnels, a route that the soldiers never quite cut off though it wasn't for lack of trying. Novigrad is an old city you understand? The crypts and the catacombs down there make sealing off the tunnels impossible."

"What was it like traversing them?"

"Spooky,"
Basil answered quickly, "very spooky. You're surrounded by all of these coffins and in some places just piles and piles of bones, all neatly arranged. We moved around with red flashlights and it gave it an even eerier feeling. I'm telling you, the best feeling I had in the entire conflict was getting out of those catacombs. We weren't really prepared for them you understand?"

"I certainly do. I've seen them like you and they are eerie to say the least. So after the catacombs where did you go?"

"We made our way to a residential district, one of many that was full of sympathizers and acted as our barracks' and bases. Caches, armories, you name it we had in those districts."

"Describe the district would you?"

"Well it's like most other residential districts that popped up in the 1950s and the early 1960s. The kind with mass-produced, identical apartment buildings five and nine stories in height. There were so many of them built in the cities that most of them began major refuges for the besieged. The building I would call home for the rest of the war was five stories in height and it had fifteen apartments. Eight of us were assigned to one apartment and it was a little cramped as it only had two bedrooms. We built bunk beds so that we could at least have our own beds but four guys in a bedroom, it gets tight."

"You built bunk beds?"

"Yes we did. The apartment was empty when we got there. Even with all of the refugees, there were still completely empty apartments and so that was what we received. We had to basically bring in everything we wanted. We found a beat up table somewhere, some chairs that we mended, and then we got other goods, what I would call 'luxuries' like a radio and a television. The radio we bought second-hand for ratio cards but the television we stole,"
Basil smiled, "it had been stolen and we stole it and it was stolen from us one day. God knows where that television wound up but it was a piece of junk anyway. That apartment had terrible reception, still when we got a station, it was something to cure the boredom. We played a lot of cards, a lot of dominos, and did a lot of talking."

"Boredom?"
Basil chuckled lightly at the question.

"Novigrad was a strange place and those were strange times. We had a deep conflict with our job. When we were out there, in a perch looking for a target, we wanted nothing more than to be back in our apartment where we felt safe. Yet when we were there, we were bored. We'd become adrenaline junkies, I guess you could say. We wanted to be looking through our scopes at Pojan soldiers, taking pot shots and looking for counter-snipers, an elusive but golden prey. You see, by then, Novigrad had become known for snipers. The way the city was built, especially in the commercial center with its high-rises, it was made for snipers. We had excellent cover and amazing fields of fire there. This was precisely why the city was swarmed with snipers. This was the strategy we'd adopted."

"Now during this time, casualties were particularly high. In the last four years of the conflict, Novigrad saw considerable bloodshed. Pojan forces suffered approximately twenty-two hundred and fifty killed, Chernarussians approximately sixty-two hundred, and almost fifty-five hundred civilians killed."

"Yes it was terribly bloody."

"How many civilians do you think were shot by snipers?"


Here, Basil whistled, "Big number," he said.

"Most of the civilians killed were caught either in the crossfire or, as has been documented, by Pojan Army snipers."

"Perhaps,"
said Basil, "but perhaps not only because they were in the line of fire or targets for the Pojans."

"What do you mean?"


Basil drew closer to the camera ever so slightly. "There really wasn't any 'rules' you see? Commanders just threw us into the city and said 'Shoot the Pojans' but that was all. We were in small units and some units were better than others. Some units were so thirsty for blood that they would just go out there and shoot at anything that moved. Maybe the Pojans shot civilians but I bet for every one they killed, our own guys killed just as many."

"That's a big confession."

"War does things to people. It changed me but we had a good unit. We were there to fight the Pojans, not our own people. There would be snipers from South Zagora who felt a specific level of hatred towards people from 'there' or 'here' you know? Ethnic nationalism had run amok but it was even worse there in Chernarus. I was from Berezino but to a Chernarussian from say Kirovograd, I was beneath him. It was stupid, just stupid. We were all on the same side but not really. I can't imagine what we would have done to ourselves had we won."

"Did you see any of these acts committed? Dare I say 'crimes'?"

"They were crimes,"
Basil said, his face now very serious. "Memorable day you asked me and whether it was in August isn't a matter of concern. I and one other sniper had gone to an abandoned and burned out building near the city center. We were going to attack a Pojan patrol that always walked through this particular part of town. We were hoping to get off two, maybe three shots before they found our position. We had a specific spot picked out, a really good spot you see. Except when we got there, it was occupied already. Go figure…

"So we found another spot, we always had a backup. It wasn't as good but it was fine for what we wanted. The patrol came and we took our shots. I got off two and my comrade got off three. We wounded one man and killed another. We moved out of the building really fast and on our way back we ran into the same snipers who'd taken our original spot. They were from Miroslavl, I'll never forget that accent, we pegged them right away. As I said, I was from Berezino and my comrade was from Primorsk. We didn't care much for who was from where, we wanted the Pojan Army out and independence.

"These two guys hadn't been so lucky and they were mad at us for 'spoiling' their target,"
Basil waved his hand, "who cares what they wanted. Well, so we got into a heated argument and they wanted to challenge us to a 'shoot off.' It was stupid but we went along with it and the four of us went to another spot. There was a marketplace there, which we knew was a good target. Well we set up and waited for soldiers. There were a few but we needed clear shots. Well I needed a clear shot, so did my comrade. We waited and we fired.

"The two of those guys looked at us and said, 'Where's the sport in that?' I'll never forget it. By now, everyone's scattering so they start taking shots at people. It was appalling. Me and my comrade got up and left. We're out of the building maybe twenty minutes and they're still up there shooting. I guess the soldiers knew where they were. They'd killed about eight or nine people by then. I don't know if they attempted to get out or not but a helicopter just appeared out of nowhere, went into a hover just in front of the building, and poured cannon fire and rockets into the floor. Just annihilated it. I doubt there was anything left of those two to identify.

"Memorable because they were wrong for what they did and the Pojans got them. That was one time I cheered for the 'bad guys' because the 'bad guys' weren't really the 'bad guys' if you understand."

"That I do. Well one more commercial break and we can get to the conclusion of your story."




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Last edited by Poja on Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:06 pm



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Sunday, 4th March 2018 | 20:15 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






"As we come to the conclusion of the second part of our three-part series on the Chernarussian Conflict," the camera on Petrovic again, "it is important to remind our viewers that the Chernarussian Conflict was a violent and dark time for our nation and, above all, a time of reckoning for the Confederacy. We here at Poja Investigates take no side in this conflict. Our aim is to uncover the stories and the events of this conflict so that we can learn from them and shed light upon the darkness for future generations to come. Now let us conclude tonight's episode with some final words from Basil Istomin, a rebel fighter in Chernarus so many years ago."

The camera returned to Basil. "What was it like?" He asked having been asked a question off-camera. "It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before or since. Every hour of every day was a new challenge. In winter we fought to stay warm and in summer we fought to stay alive. We fought a guerilla war against a superior enemy. We would sometimes crawl through alleyways strewn with litter and garbage for hours on end, climb staircases afraid to breathe let alone trip, and wait just for a shot at the soldiers.

"When we were waiting we were afraid we'd give away our position or that some counter-sniper would get lucky and see us. We were always afraid of the unknown. 'Did my scope just glint?' 'Did I make noise coming up the stairs?' 'Did the birds fly away when I came?' There was always some unknown that plagued our minds. Sometimes we were terrified and we just backed out and went back home. Sometimes we were brave and we fired our rifles at the soldiers. Novigrad was a terrible place back then. We'd turned it into such a shooting gallery that I don't know who we really were? Where we the 'good guys' or were we the 'bad guys'? I just don't know anymore.

"We started the sniper war there and every month it seemed to get worse and worse. Snipers tried to outdo each other. Sometimes this got them killed; sometimes it didn't. We made whatever justifications with ourselves that we could. We told ourselves what we wanted to hear to get through the missions and the days. We did this to keep ourselves awake on the long nights sitting in buildings, waiting for a patrol or a commander's insignia at a forward operating post.

"I don't like what we did; what we became."
He said, his eyes blank as he stared backwards in time.

"Do you have regrets?"

"No,"
Basil answered after a moment's pause of reflection. "Our nation had come under attack because we wanted our independence and our freedom. We came under attack from Rugi and what the Pojan soldiers did to us was unforgivable. I don't have regrets because the decisions I made at the time were the decisions I made. No one put a gun to my head and told me what to do. I did that to myself. Perhaps there are things I would have rather done differently but I wouldn't go as far as to say I have regrets."

"How many men did you kill? Did you keep count?"

"We kept count,"
said Basil, "we all kept count. It was how we measured ourselves against one another, some kind of sick competition. The other side kept count too. Everyone keeps count." Silence filled a void between the two men, "Eighty-one."

"Who had the record?"

"I won't say his name but he had one hundred and ninety-nine soldiers. I don't know how many non-soldiers."

"What about you?"

"I only shot at soldiers."

"Looking back, what do you think of the entire conflict? Was it worth it?"

"It was. And it wasn't. We didn't get our independence but Rugi was forced to amend the treaty from 1900. This benefited the entire Confederacy. To that perhaps we achieved some good but perhaps not. Look at the state of the nation today. Poja isn't one nation, it never was and it never should have been. It's seven nations and it should be seven nations. Until Rugi can recognize that we don't want to be under their thumb there will always be this kind of violence in this land."

"And if Rugi were to dissolve the Confederacy tomorrow? Would the wars stop?"

"No…"
The camera cut away and Petrovic gave a conclusion back where he'd done his introductions. The powerful episode had ended with 1971 but in a week another would air and cover 1972 - 1974 and the conclusion of the Chernarussian Conflict.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:42 pm

Image
PsF Mamba A by Tippercommon.

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Chapter IV
1972
Let hatred disappear from the people.
Show your love.
We all love you,
and wish you to protect us
with your shepherd's heart
from every sin.





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Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 19:30 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






Poja Investigates was one of the more popular, primetime programs in the Confederacy of Poja and for many reasons. In this hyperpolarized world, where your ethnic makeup determined so much about you, Poja Investigates stood out as apolitical and unbiased. It was a Liari program, run out of Rugi and for that reason it might have screamed Liari Nationalism but that was simply not the case. Virtually every Pojan knew the sound of Tin Petrović's voice and there was something comforting in the man as he stood on darkened sets in front of green screen imagery or sat in chairs with the light on an interview subject. Now with the third part of the Chernarussian Conflict about to air, the ratings told everything. The first two parts had already become the most watched programs in Pojan television history and all signs pointed to the third part being as popularly watched.

The show returned at 19:30, a week after the second part had concluded. Petrović was once again present on the darkened stage but with a new graphic behind him. It signified that this episode would go from 1972 to Beyond. The war ended in 1974 so there would be fifteen minutes dedicated to each year and fifteen minutes to the concluding remarks and what effects the war had on not only Chernarus but on Poja itself. Starting off with 1972, Petrović introduced Ivo Cindric, who with his Adjinuan last name certainly defied the concept that the Chernarussian Conflict was Liaria versus Chernarus. Cindric had been twenty when the conflict began in 1968 and by 1972, he was an old man at twenty-four but also an officer in a tank battalion. "I joined the military when I was eighteen, in 1966. I wanted to go to university and become an electrical engineer but my father had different plans for me," Cindric said off screen as the camera cut to his face. "So I joined the army not because my father made me but because that was how I could get away from him. He was an overbearing man who wanted me to be a pianist. You see I'd been taking lessons since I was four years old. I hated it. I want to do everything but play the piano, so I hid that from the army, lest they put me in the band.

"When I graduated from training, I sat down with the training officer and he asked me what I wanted to do in the army. I didn't have much of an answer for him, so I stumbled with the words until he said, 'You know, your training scores aren't great. You can't shoot very well and you're not a great runner but you're small and you know how to navigate well.' I guess this was a backhanded compliment, so I nodded, and he said, 'How do you feel about tanks?' So that was how I became a tanker. I went to tank school and for four years I was a tank driver but I hated it too.

"So I went to officer school, I was surprised to get accepted but by then, the war was on and attrition rates were high so perhaps they lowered their standards for me. Either way, that was rough. It lasted for thirty-six weeks, nine months! They made us do PT all over again and there was so much classroom work, which I would have been happy to do four years earlier when I wanted to go to university but by then I was lazy,"
Cindric laughed. "I did all right though, I passed and when they asked me what I wanted to command I said, 'I want a tank platoon!' and so they gave it to me.

"I was lucky then because the military was operating some very old tanks. In the 1950s, the Pojan Army had purchased these King Cobra A tanks from Tiperyn. They were outdated back then because they had been built in the 1940s. Here we were in the 1970s and we were still using the King Cobras but things were changing and the Tiperyn government was selling us brand new - to us at least - Mamba A tanks. They were at least a generation later than the King Cobras but this was 1972 and they were almost twenty years old already! Still, this was what we received, and I was moved into the first unit to receive the new Mambas, which guaranteed that I was going to Chernarus. I didn't want to go to Chernarus, truth be told, I'd joined the army to get away from my father, I never expected a war to break out but there I was, in 1972, about to deploy to Chernarus.

"The Mamba, you have to understand, was a full generation newer than the King Cobras but a full generation behind the tanks being made by other countries. Our nation didn't have any tank manufacturing program back then. The military didn't believe it needed top-of-the-line tanks because all of our strategies had us fighting a defensive war or an internal conflict, like we were doing in Chernarus."


The camera panned over to Petrović, "Did the Chernarussians even have armor at this time?"

"Oh no they had nothing even close to it. We'd had tanks in Chernarus from the beginning of the invasion and the tanks had the best survival rate of vehicles. Trucks, especially arms and fuel trucks, had the worst survival rates. The armored personnel carriers were next. We'd lost a few tanks but taking out a tank was no simple matter, even for the Chernarussians who seemed everywhere at once. They would need to commit a lot of resources to taking out our tanks, especially because we'd modified these tanks in the field."

"What kind of modifications?"

"We added extra armor basically by ripping steel plates up and either bolting them to the sides of our tanks or hanging them. We did that along the turrets and along the treads too to protect us from mobility kills. We also used sandbags and water jugs to create a sort of extra cushion layer."

"How effective were these modifications?"

"Surprisingly effect when you consider how simple they were,"
Cindric answered as if he was teaching a class in military history. "The Chernarussians would basically swarm our tanks with rocket teams. There would be fifteen of them usually and they would attack with eight rockets at once and almost from every angle. It would be eight rocketeers and seven riflemen. They would basically aim to hit us at once from all four sides with their RPGs. Sometimes they would attack from the top down, which was why we put these modified armor on our rooftops as well. They would simply pop out, fire, and retreat. Most of the time they didn't even stick around to see if they'd knocked out the tank or not."

"Why was this?"

"They'd usually get peppered with machine gun fire from the tank. Our tanks have machine guns in the turrets that shoot where our cannon is aimed and machine guns on the roof that the commander can use. These are big guns that fire big rounds, one hit and you're dead."

"So when did your unit deploy?"

"We deployed in March to the area around Primorsk. Our battalion's responsibility had been that coastal city and a good area to the north."

"How many tanks made up a battalion and even lower?"

"Ah so,"
Cindric said, reaching back into his mind. "At the time we operated really at the company level not necessarily at the battalion level. Each company was made up of 3 platoons and each platoon had four tanks so that we were twelve tanks per platoon. The company headquarters was another tank so that a tank company was thirteen tanks, unlucky number, I guess. The battalion had three companies and the battalion commander had a tank so that was forty tanks in total. Then we had some trucks to carry around all of our stuff. I commanded one platoon so four tanks and eleven men underneath me. Our entire battalion had the Mamba A. At that time only one tank regiment had the Mamba A so there was only one hundred and something Mambas in service since a regiment had three battalions.

"The entire regiment was deployed into that area in southern Chernarus. Our battalion had Primorsk, another had Kirovograd, and the main headquarters element for the regiment along with the other battalion was in Novigrad."

"Why there?"

"Command in Rugi refused to surrender the capital city of Chernarus to the Chernarussians. We were to form this triangular net around the southern region of Chernarus to choke and keep out the rebels."

"How effective were you?"

"We won the war right?"
Cindric smiled, "We were very effective."

"What kinds of operations did your unit conduct?"

"We did a lot of support operations. As I mentioned, the Chernarussian rebels didn't have any type of armored vehicles. If they moved around it was either by car or on foot. We used our tanks mainly to protect infantry as they did search operations. By that time, the war had really moved out of the rural parts of Chernarus and almost directly into the cities. Within the cities, the violence was skyrocketing. You couldn't go a day in any of those cities without some sort of ambush or assault. Gunfire in the background was like cicadas at the end of summer or crickets at night, it was just so commonplace. Infantry units, mainly platoons but sometimes company-sized units, would pick out a sector or a district or what have you and go house-to-house searching for rebels, weapons caches, that sort of stuff. They were always on the lookout for a 'field HQ' or something major. Our job was just to back them up while they did their searching.

"We'd lead them into and out of the target areas but we'd also cover them. Sometimes the rebels would try to sneak up on them and attack them from the rear but not always. With us present they basically gave up on that tactic."

"Did you have any direct confrontations?"

"Sometimes but it was mostly 'routine' in our eyes. It was rather boring really."

"Boring? Interesting way to describe operating in a warzone."

"We were tankers. We trained on the dream of running at top speed through fields or down streets with enemy tanks in our sights one and two kilometers away, firing and reloading as fast as we could, well as fast as the autoloaders could, which was pretty fast, not as fast as people but fast enough for long enough that people would get tired, you understand?"

"I do."

"So for us being a tanker was all about armor versus armor warfare! Sneaking through cities to blow up APCs or tanks. Here we were basically babysitting infantrymen as they went house-to-house and mind you once they were in the houses there was nothing for us to do but sit around and wait and watch. We'd establish a perimeter around the area, which is pretty easy with four tanks, and just wait. In the first three months we didn't fire a shot."

"What about the rest of 1972?"

"How much time do you got?"
Cindric smiled but there was a commercial break to be had as much for the sponsors as it was for the dramatic effect of making the audience wait on a cliffhanger for a few minutes.



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Monday, 22nd May 1972 | 08:00 hrs [PST]

Primorsk, Chernarus, Poja | Village of Lipka






Ian Zhdanov had been a colonel in the Pojan Army before defecting to the Chernarussian militias. He'd served as the commanding officer of an infantry regiment and when he defected, he took at least two companies worth of men with him. In Chernarus, he was put in charge of an entire battalion-sized element of militia and given carte blanche by the insurgency's leadership to run operations how he saw fit, so long as Pojan soldiers died and the Chernarussian Conflict became untenable for Rugi. Zhdanov knew better than most militia leaders who the military thought and so when he settled into Primorsk with his men to wreak havoc, he set up his operational headquarters in a few small village of 174 just ten kilometers outside of the city. That village was called Lipka and it had long since been of interest to the Pojan soldiers but until now, they'd never had any solid evidence with which to raid it.

Over the past few months, interrogators had managed to coax out of several captured insurgents that Lipka was Zhdanov's headquarters and furthermore, that he kept the guard around the village light so as not to attract attention. For the Pojan Army, the intelligence was actionable and on May 22, just before dawn, a company of tanks and a company of infantry moved into Lipka, surrounding the village. The plan was very simple, four tanks (one platoon) was used to cut off access to the roads and another was used to cut off access for overland escape routes. The last platoon, which happened to be under the command of Cindric, was to support infantry operations in Lipka. The Pojan soldiers would have to go house-to-house to find the headquarters and during that time, the tanks would keep any of Zhdanov's men - however many he had - from getting an opportunity to ambush them.

Operations in Lipka itself commenced at 08:00 and by that point, a half-dozen men had tried to escape the village, only to be caught by infantry holding the perimeter. They were immediately taken into custody and they would be brought back to Primorsk for interrogation and processing but these men were very obviously insurgents. To the on-scene commanders, this meant that Lipka might not be a dry hole and that made everyone perk up just a little, just enough to be extra cautious.

Cindric split up his four tanks into four elements. One tank he left with the company commander's tank to act as a protection unit against RPG teams and ambushes. Then he put each one of his remaining three tanks with an infantry unit moving through the village, which meant one squad per tank as only a single platoon was operating inside of Lipka with the rest holding the perimeter or in wait as reinforcements or flanking elements. For Cindric, this was likely going to be another boring operation. Intelligence put a platoon-sized element in Lipka, if even that, and they weren't expected to be heavily armed save for a few small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, the latter of which could provide very deadly for the troops but which weren't as effective against the tanks with their basic armor and the add-on, "Hillbilly" armor that the tank crews had rigged up as the conflict had progressed.

The first gunshots echoed from a house that wasn't even being searched. Two soldiers went down, one mortally wounded with a round through his throat and the other with a leg wound. Machine guns opened up to suppress the house and Cindric's tank, which happened to be on duty here, moved up approximately fifty meters to an opening. The house was one story with a stand-up attic, big enough for a family and nothing more. There was a small vegetable garden outside of the house and the chimney was active indicating that someone had been cooking or using the fireplace to heat up the house. Despite being late May, the temperature was a little cool. "Load WP," Cindric ordered and inside of the tank, the loader slammed a white phosphorous, 102-millimeter round into the breach of the gun.

"WP up!" The loader shouted as the turret was already swinging around to face the house. If those inside of the house had seen the tank, perhaps they wouldn't have kept firing but they did and that was all Cindric really needed. With the gun barrel completely level with the house barely forty meters away, Cindric gave the order to fire. With a shudder, the entire tank rocked and the WP round went clear through the side of the house before detonating. Instantly, white smoke poured out of the windows as the entire house filled up with the burning elements of the round. Those inside were cooked to death in what could only have been a gruesome and tremendously pain death. Nevertheless, fire from the house ceased and the soldiers approached it, though they didn't get too close, just to ensure no one came out, sealing the deal with a few, fragmentation hand grenades through the windows.

"Good work," Cindric said to his tank crew who'd moved quickly and expeditiously throughout the short ordeal. Things would remain quiet for another few minutes while the soldiers continued to move through the village. As time wore on, a stockade had been established in a field where any men of military age were rounded up and kept under guard. Interrogations would commence once the main security operations were over and the village declared "safe."

By around 09:30, Pojan troops were nearing what they thought would be the command headquarters. It was a farmhouse, unimpressive from the outside but a likely target for a headquarters. By then, most of the houses throughout the village had been cleared and so there was less risk of being flanked or ambushed while clearing the house itself. The farmhouse had what amounted to three stories, two floors and an attic. It also had a concrete cellar accessible from the outside and the moment that Pojan troops approached it, machine gun fire erupted out of the windows. Attempted to flank the farmhouse went otherwise unsuccessfully as more machine guns opened up, the gunners trained on how to use them effectively with short bursts and accurate shot placement.

Cindric would have put a few WP and HE rounds into the house but command wanted to recover as much intelligence as possible, chiefly documents and maps which were sure to show the positions of insurgent positions throughout the areas of Primorsk. This effectively negated the use of his tank's main cannon and so he opened up with the coaxial but it did little good as those inside had reinforced the walls with sandbags and furniture to act as protect from bullets. Commanders debated whether or not to use tear gas but no one had any and so they opted to wait them out but no one really had the patience for that so Cindric pulled his tank back and climbed out of the hatch to where the tank and the infantry commanders were debating what to do. "How about I just drive right through the place?" He proposed, interrupting them.

"What?" His own commander asked, "Your tank is going to fall right into the basement of that place, no way that floor can support it."

"We button ourselves up and go right through the middle at high speed. We should be able to get far enough that the element of surprise wipes out whatever resistance they have in there, especially if infantry covers us. Should collapse the whole upper floors too."

"It's stupid,"
was all he got but then, after a few minutes, his own commander looked at Cindric, still hanging out, looked at the house, and gave a wave. "Don't get killed, we'll get engineering to pull you out!"

"You got it,"
and so he returned to his tank and told them of the plan. No one though it a good plan but no one wanted to hang around until those inside got bored either and so Cindric's driver put the plan into motion. He maneuvered around, getting the 895-kilowatt engine up to near maximum power before he turned through the field and began to make his run at the house. They were moving at over 40 km/h when the tank's barrel made impact with the soft exterior of the house. The driving force of 40 tonnes of steel and speed drove them right through the house and across the floor where, as predicted, the floorboards snapped and the beams gave way. The front of the tank fell first and everyone inside held on as the tank pitched forward and crashed into the basement, coming to a halt only when it had hit the floor. Those inside, no matter how much they held on, were banged up and thrown around by the crash but the effect was real. Above them, the entire house collapsed in on itself and inside of the armored tank, the men were protected from the deafening roar of collapsing walls, beams, floors, and the roof. Everyone inside of the house was crushed by the falling debris and those in the path of the tank had met a more gruesome fate.

Yet the maneuver had worked. The house, though it collapsed, did not start on fire nor was it so destroyed that nothing could be recovered. Zhdanov's body was within the wreckage and so was a treasure drove of intelligence, including radio frequencies, maps, names, and operational strategies. Zhdanov had not hidden anything, perhaps because he never thought that his operational headquarters would come under siege. He'd not even had time to burn anything as the siege had not been long enough. His men were holding the Pojans at bay and until they'd seen the Mamba tank rushing at them at near full speed, they believed that they could hold out for longer. It was foolish but so was the plan. Cindric's tank was damaged though reparable and by the time he and his men had been fished out of the wreckage some four hours later, the town had been fully swept and the last of Zhdanov's men arrested.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Poja » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:07 pm



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Thursday, 17th August 1972 | 17:20 hrs [PST]

Primorsk, Chernarus, Poja | Town of Kirygvo






It was late in the summer and the Chernarussian Conflict was truly taking its toll on the country. Flag-draped coffins, and photographs of war-torn cities, burned out villages, and destroyed matériel were being broadcast throughout the Confederacy. The Pojan military, despite still holding ground and still in control of the cities in Chernarus was, for all intents and purposes, losing the war. Rebels were becoming more and more effective at ambushing convoys carrying supplies and reinforcements, and the damage to the country - both physically and economically - was truly taking its toll. The politicians in Rugi were holding firm to their commitment to bring Chernarus back into the fold but behind closed doors, even the most ardent of supporters were having trouble justifying what the war was costing the country.

A lot of that would change in Kirygvo on this fateful, August evening. The Pojan Army was moving a convoy of supply trucks from Novigrad to Miroslavl' and they were going to be sticking to the coastal roads in order to avoid heading deeper into the countryside, where ambushers lurked around every corner or at every fork. The convoy was a fairly large one as well, consisting of ten ZiL-131 cargo trucks and their associated trailers. They were loaded heavy with nearly ten tonnes of supplies a piece between their cargo beds and their trailers. Naturally, because this was such a big convoy and a lot of supplies were at stake, the army was pulling out all of the stops for an escort force.

For aerial support, there were Mil Mi-4 helicopters loaded with gun pods and rocket and Su-7BM Fitter attack bombers flying close air support. On the ground, two platoons of tanks were escorting the column fore and aft putting some eight tanks there. As if that wasn't enough, there were also eight BMP-1 armored fighting vehicles with 8-man infantry squads moving along with the convoy. If things got too hairy, between the helicopters, the Fitters, and the tanks, the ground personnel could maneuver against an ambush force as needed. This was, to say the least, a sizeable force of men. Yet there was no way to keep this convoy a secret, no way to hide it from the Chernarussian rebels and they knew about the convoy even before it left the seaport at Novigrad. The roll-on/roll-off cargo ship that had brought the vehicles was under the command of the Pojan Navy but its crewmen included Chernarussian loyalists. The first things these men did when they hit the port was to phone in specialized codewords to alert the rebels of the convoy.

The rebels had dozens of scenarios preplanned and the one that they'd enact against this convoy would take place in the town of Kirygvo. Kirygvo was an otherwise small and insignificant town on the coastline of Chernarus. It was a rural community that was not more than thirty kilometers northeast of Primorsk along the main, coastal highway. It was a farming and fishing community with a population of barely two thousand residents in just over eight hundred and fifty dwellings. All told, the town spanned fifty square kilometers and for years, it had been just a sleepy town that kept to itself. Ever since the war broke out however, Kirygvo had been used by the separatists to maintain watch on the naval ships moving along the Chernarussian coastline, particularly the supply ships. It also boasted a fairly sizeable rebel force of two hundred men who largely took over the town in the years since the conflict broke out, almost to the consternation of its residents.

Yet, the Pojans were the enemy and so they were tolerated, if just barely. When it was found out that the convoy would be passing through the town, the separatists sprung into action to create an ambush that they knew would be foolproof. They envisioned burning trucks, tanks, and IFVs alongside the coastal highway and they envisioned it as being so media-friendly that they would utilize it for the ultimate propaganda piece. Yet, when the town's residents got word of the impending ambush, they were less than thrilled. Liaisons established between the separatists and the town's government found a less-than-cooperative situation. In a bout of utter foolishness, just six hours before the convoy's estimated arrival, separatists shot and killed the town's mayor. Word spread like wildfire through the town and yet, with the convoy approaching, along with it impending doom, an uneasiness fell upon the town.

Cindric's platoon was in the lead when the convoy came within visual range of Kirygvo. The sun was still up but it would be setting in the next few hours. Still, they intended to drive throughout the night to get to Miroslavl' to drop off these supplies, knowing that stopping would certainly mean death to everyone. Fuel wasn't a concern, even for the tanks though the two platoons were only expected to get the convoy as far as the midway point between Primorsk and Miroslavl' before two additional platoons, ready and waiting, took over the final leg of the country. Still with a ways to go, the convoy was in an ideal fighting shape when it arrived at Kirygvo. Thus, when the opening shots of the ambush rang out, they were more than ready.

The first shots were rocket-propelled grenades, aimed at the trucks. One truck was hit and set ablaze but the rest missed. Chaos immediately ensued and the convoy went into defensive mode. Four tanks - two from the front and two from the rear - along with four IFVs - in the same fashion - broke off from the convoy and charged right into the ambush. Rocket-propelled grenades careened towards them but detonated harmlessly against the thick, frontal armor of the armored vehicles. Coaxial machine guns opened up, cannons opened up, and the scene was like something out of a movie. Bodies of separatists were being thrown into the air with each shell impact and reinforcements were held at bay by suppressive fire. Overall, the ambush was a failure but it wasn't a surprise and that wasn't what made this otherwise dramatic firefight so significant. It was a turning point in the war that the town's residents turned against the separatists and in plain view of the Pojan soldiers.

Armed to the teeth, the town's residents appeared in small groups and charged towards the rebel positions. Many were killed in the crossfire as the tankers and IFV gunners presumed them to be reinforcements but the effects were remarkable as tank gunners and commanders watched to see the residents essentially shooting and fighting the separatists. It would be discovered later on just what transpired but it was monumental. It marked the first town or village that decided to fight back, to take back their peacefulness from the separatists. The towns and the villages were rebel-held to the core but with Kirygvo cracking, others would follow.

There were almost four wars being fought - at once. The Pojans were fighting to keep Chernarus in the Confederacy; the Chernarussians were fighting for independence; the Pojan civilians were fighting the realities of a war as costly as this one; and finally, the Chernarussians were fighting a war with the separatists who'd turned their entire region topsy-turvy. Many of the movements initial supporters and fighters had been killed or captured in the first half of the conflict; which left some of the more ardent and fanatical supporters. It was these supporters who turned cities into booby-trapped hellholes to fight the Pojans but who invariably killed as many civilians - if not more - than they did soldiers. Kirygvo was a perfect example of why the insurgency was becoming intolerable to the very people it aimed to help and it was Kirygvo that turned the tide, not so much because the separatists were now going to be fighting their very neighbors but rather because Rugi realized what was happening and they realized how to exploit it to their advantage. To the politicians, this was a glimmer of hope for an "honorable conclusion" to the bloody, Chernarussian Conflict.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Poja » Thu Dec 26, 2019 12:36 pm



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Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 19:40 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






The commercial break had been short and when Poja Investigates returned, the camera was once again focused on Ivo Cindric with Petrović's voice in the background, off-camera so that the focus always remained not on the presenter but rather the subject. It wasn't Petrović's story to tell, it was Cindric's like all of the guests thus far. "So what was it about 1972 that you saw as the biggest change from one end of the year to the other?"

"The biggest change? The war was in a weird flux in 1972. You know I've been a part of a veteran's group now for oh,"
Cindric stopped as he searched his mind, "thirty-seven years. We have all manner of men in our company. We have those who served in the Chernarussian Conflict and those who didn't. We've got men who were in supply formations, or naval units, or in the trenches. Everyone's got a different opinion on how the war was going at any given point in time. My guys and I? We were in the tanks so to us everything was good. When someone shot at us we just heard it as pings. The guys on the ground? They had to worry about getting killed. We didn't, we were fearless."

"What about RPGs?"

"Oh they would have turned our tank into a cauldron but we didn't worry about them."

"Why not?"


Cindric shrugged, "You know if one of those hit us it would probably be all over really quickly unless they hit us in the front or at a weird angle. Those things could penetrate over two hundred and fifty millimeters of armor, more with the improved warheads. I don't think they had the bigger warheads by then, the ones that could go through four hundred millimeters but they certainly had enough penetration to get through our hull. We figured if we got hit it would be all over too quickly to worry. They'd probably set off the ammo inside and it'd just be one big explosion. Maybe we could get to the hatch at the bottom quickly enough, probably not. The top one? If it was open? Yes maybe we had a chance."

"Was your tank ever hit by an RPG?"

"Never,"
he said, shaking his head for emphasis. "Maybe we were good? Lucky? Maybe our support was good? We never took a hit by an RPG. We were hit by an recoilless once or twice but it didn't do much beyond make a dent, a big dent but a dent. Usually if someone shot at us they had to expose themselves so we shot back with either our cannon or our coaxial machine gun."

"Then, if I may, when were you perhaps the 'most vulnerable'? Would you recount the time you thought that, perhaps, your tank and your crew were the most 'at risk'?"

"Christmas Eve,"
Cindric said plainly.

"Christmas Eve? Wasn't there a sort of unofficially, yearly ceasefire at Christmas?"

"Ironically enough there was and not for the Orthodox Christmas either mind you but the Catholic Christmas. It was odd. There would be a reduced level of activity on Orthodox Christmas but never for Catholic Christmas. It was somehow just assumed that, despite the lower proportion of Catholics in our country that their Christmas was somehow 'more important' to be celebrated as a ceasefire. I can't explain it."

"And that was the worst?"

"Well there was a ceasefire, we thought. The other side didn't agree…"


• • • • ‡ • • • •


Thursday, 24th December 1972 | 19:50 hrs [PST]

Primorsk, Chernarus, Poja | Village of Krazhino






"We were bivouacked in Krazhino for Christmas, approximately eighteen kilometers west of the outer limits of Primorsk," Cindric said and in his mind, he was back on the ground in Krazhino, forty-seven years earlier. It was cold and snowing with a temperature that hovered just above freezing. They'd just finished a rotation of running their engines to keep the tanks warm and ready to fight even though a ceasefire was in place until 06:00 on 26 December, more than thirty-four hours away. It was pleasurable to have a break and the village of Krazhino wasn't a bad place to be bivouacked. It was home to only three hundred and nineteen people and they were, for all intents and purposes, not hostile to the Pojan troops.

Of course, this wasn't to say that they were welcoming either. The residents hadn't "invited" the Pojan tank company into their area but they didn't exactly shoo them away either. There was a sense of indifference. The Pojan troops kept to their bivouac area approximately four hundred meters away from the nearest residential house in what - in summertime - would have been a flowering field. It was an area that the town's farmers tended to use as a grazing area for their cows but which, in winter, simply became a snow-covered clearing. Because of this, most of the tankers in the company slept not in tents but rather in their vehicles, running the engines periodically to keep warm when it simply got too cold.

It seemed that the aroma of tea and coffee was all over the small camp as was the aroma of sausages. The tankers had used their vehicles to clear out an area big enough that they could erect a tent to serve as something of a mess hall. It wasn't very warm though, even with the roaring cooking fire going just a few meters away, far enough to prevent the tent from catching on fire but close enough that the warmth flowed into the tent with each breeze. Cindric was in the mess tent with his men, sharing in sausages, coffee, and a little liquor. With the ceasefire in place, commanding officers were far more relaxed about seeing their men consume alcohol. The Pojan Army was hardly a "dry army" but soldiers and their commanders alike recognized the detriment that alcohol could and would have on reaction time during combat.

Cindric wasn't necessarily three sheets to the wind but he'd had enough to make him just a little tipsy. The entire company had forty-one men across the three platoons and our headquarters section. Each platoon had twelve men, three per tank, four tanks. The headquarters element had five men across one tank and one support truck. At that moment, fourteen of the forty-one men were around the tent while the rest were either in their tanks trying to stay warm or milling about the camp. Sprits were high, to say the least. The men joked, laughed, sang, danced, and drank.

Prior to the start of their deployment, each man in the entire outfit was given an APS pistol while the tank commanders were given an AKMS assault rifle. Halfway through their deployment, the majority of the men had gotten their hands on a submachine gun or an AKMS. The popular submachine gun for tankers was the Skorpion vz. 65 because it was small, had a very good rate of fire, and it used the same bullet as their pistols so there was no shortage of ammunition. The bigger AKMS assault rifles fired the larger 7.62x39mm bullet, of which there was still plenty of ammunition lying around. The company's supply truck had thousands of rounds of each type in crates along with a number of other crates of munitions, rations, medical supplies, and maintenance parts for their tanks. It was amazing how much they managed to cram into a single truck and Cindric had always been impressed by how well the truck was packed but he always worried about the truck getting blown up, bogged down, or broken down because of just what it carried. Being a tank commander, Cindric had an AKMS but his men also had the Skorpion SMGs. He'd also acquired a pistol somewhere along the way as well. There was no shortage of things to trade in the Chernarussian Conflict and an entire black market had arisen within the confines of the military as supply officers pilfered this or that, trading it for this or that here, there, and everywhere they could.

The first indications that something was wrong came when one of the soldiers milling about outside, having just returned from taking a leak, suddenly saw the candles in all of the houses rapidly being extinguished. Most of the houses in this town were lit by candle and to suddenly see so many of them being extinguished at once certainly tickled the hairs on the back of the young man's neck. Transfixed by what he was seeing, his mind and his senses suddenly became hyperaware of what was around him. That was when he heard the low-pitched thumps associated with mortars. "Incoming!" He shouted at the top of his lungs before jumping underneath the nearest tank. In the mess tent, the men thought it might be a joke. They hadn't seen the candles go out or heard the thumping of the mortar rounds over their own raucous laughter. It was when the rounds slammed into the ground around them and exploded that they suddenly became acutely aware that the ceasefire message didn't get through to everyone.

Cindric fell backwards out of his chair and struggled to get to his feet as rounds crashed into the field. The mortar crews were close but they weren't well-trained since their rounds were landing all over rather than in a concentrated area. The mess tent area would have been a perfect place to drop a bunch of those rounds in one salvo. Finally scrambling to his feet, Cindric tripped yet again as he came out of the tent, realizing that he'd forgotten to grab his AKMS. Scrambling back over through the sound of mortar rounds crashing into the area, he finally grabbed his assault rifle and headed back out of the tent. Shrapnel was whizzing through the air and he could hear men screaming out in pain but he couldn't see much in the dark. It was enough of a struggle just to get to his tank yet the darkness suddenly brightened up as the tent felt into the cooking fire and burst into flames. Either it had been knocked over by the scrambling men or pushed into it by maneuvering tanks, Cindric didn't know.

As he climbed onto the tank, he was engulfed in what seemed like a shower of sparks. He felt his back sting but his adrenaline was rushing and he tipped himself over the top of the turret and into the open hatch, falling nearly headfirst into his seat. The hull of his tank pinged as bullets and shrapnel ricocheted off of it. "Get the tank turned over," Cindric ordered as the driver flicked switches and pushed buttons. Finally, it turned over and the tank vibrated to life just as Cindric righted himself in his seat. Looking through his periscope, Cindric could see the muzzle flashes of machine gunners along the area to the north. The village was to their east and so the rounds wouldn't necessarily be endangering the village itself.

Turning their turret to the tree line, Cindric ordered the coaxial machine gun fired and swept from left to right and back again. The heavy machine gun was more than what most tanks had for their coaxial armament and so the heavy rounds slammed into the ground around the insurgents. What rounds hit them were devastating in the result. "All right let's push north!" Cindric said as he picked up the radio, which was alive with the frantic calls of tankers. "All elements, all elements, interrogative," Cindric yelled and amazingly, the radio went silent. "This is Cindric. Hostiles to the north, push north, line abreast!" No one argued and no one fought him on his orders, which meant that either their company commander was injured or killed or simply incapable of directing the counterattack.

Either way, the tanks did as Cindric ordered. Their opened fired with the coaxial machine guns, essentially raking the insurgents with the heavy, 15-millimeter machine guns. Yet this was a ruse. While there were insurgents off to the north, the majority of the hostile force was to their south. This became brutally known when two RPG teams slammed a pair of RPG-7 rocket propelled grenades into a Mamba just to the left of Cindric's. "SOUTH! SOUTH! ALPHA, BRAVO, TURN SOUTH, CHARLIE KEEP NORTH!" Cindric ordered into the radio and rapidly, turrets turned to the south and the gunfire increased. Tanks rotated as well so that their frontal armor was now facing the hostiles. Rather than just use their coaxial weapons however, the tank commanders popped up to use their own heavy machine guns and the gunners also let loose with their main cannons, blasting the heavy rounds into the infantry forces. It was a rout.

It wasn't until dawn that the full toll of the assault and the counterattack had been realized. The fields around the tanks were littered with the bodies, or rather the body parts, of over seventy insurgents. In the camp itself, two Mambas were burned, destroyed by RPG teams who were eliminated in short succession after they took out their second tank. They worked together, firing at the same tank so that they could achieve maximum effort. The tank platoon lost, besides those two tanks and their six, dead crewmen, eleven injured, and seven more killed so that a company of forty-one was reduced to just seventeen uninjured or lightly injured men. Cindric was of the latter, having been peppered with the shrapnel of a far-off mortar as he climbed into his tank. Their company commander had been killed shortly after the mortars landed, catching a sizeable piece of shrapnel into his chest. For the poor soldier who'd seen the candles go out and heard the thumping, he'd been killed too, hit by a sniper's bullet as he tried to scramble into his tank moments later.

The attack was one of dozens throughout the country. The insurgents had chosen the Christmas Ceasefire to unleash a furious assault throughout the country against the Pojan Army. Despite their element of surprise, they lost. Going toe-to-toe with the Pojan Army in such a way had been something they'd avoided until now and for good reason. This was only the start of what would become known as the Christmas Offensive of 1972 - 1973. It lasted from 24 December until 15 January, just three weeks long. In the end, insurgent forces suffered tremendously. They had approximately 6,500 killed, over 7,500 wounded, and over 2,650 captured. Pojan forces suffered about 1,500 killed but almost as many wounded, 7,300. The insurgents did succeed however in capturing as many as 220 Pojan troops during the offensive, which was something they'd yet to do in such massive numbers before. This largely had to do with wounded troops left during hasty retreats of fallbacks in the initial hours of the offensive. Still, it was a strategic and a tactical disaster for the insurgents, one they wouldn't recover from easily.



• • • † • • •


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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Fri Dec 27, 2019 9:30 pm

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Chapter V
1973
For Thou hast said, O Master,
"Whatsoever you shall bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven,
and whatsoever you shall loose on earth
shall be loosed in heaven."





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Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 19:45 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






"For our next segment, we deal with 1973 but not from the viewpoint of a soldier or a politician but from what many would deem an 'outsider.' May I introduce Tihomir Budak, who won the National Journalism Spotlight Award in 1973 for his photograph of the execution of Sergey Kotov. It is perhaps one of the most well-known photographs from the Chernarussian Conflict," Petrović said, this time the camera zoomed in on him. Then the screen went into a brief montage of photographs from the war, photographs that Tihomir had shot. When the short montage, which lasted maybe a minute, was over, the camera was now zoomed in on a decrepit old man with liver spots, no hair, and who wore every one of his eighty-eight years of age.

"I was interviewed about that photograph oh two or three thousand times," Tihomir smirked. His voice was hoarse and he spoke with difficulty, old age finally catching up to a man who'd survived combat without a weapon. "I was thirty-eight when the Chernarussian Conflict erupted and I thought, 'My God I'll never get another chance like this.' I wasn't young, I had a family, and I rushed to Chernarus so fast I don't know if I remember telling them goodbye. I was on the ground when the first tanks rolled into Novigrad. I was there when Chernogorsk saw its tanks too.

"You see, I drove. I was stationed in Goriš, which is where we were living. It made sense, I am Adjinuan and so is my family and where better for an Adjinuan photojournalist to reside?"
He laughed to himself. "So I drove, oh I drove nonstop, all night. I managed to sneak into Chernarus too. At that time, the army had already put up a bunch of roadblocks but I bluffed my way past them and into the country. It was hardly any different then than it had been weeks prior, before the tanks came. The big insurgency hadn't started. So I rushed to Novigrad, nearly had four accidents on the way. I think I was running on No-Doze and coffee. Lots of coffee. If I hadn't had to stop to pee so many times I might have gotten there sooner," he laughed, "I met up with another photojournalist, a Chernarussian fellow."

"Cyril Fokina?"

"Yes,"
Tihomir snapped his fingers. "Yes we were the best of buddies in about two hours flat. We stuck together as best as we could. I got out of my car and there he was with his camera and tripod. And he's looking down this auxiliary road and I go up to him and I say, well I introduce myself, and I say, 'Say fellow? Why are you pointing that way, tanks are coming from the other way?' And he says to me, 'There's a landmine over there.' And I went to him, 'Well someone's going to get hurt. Shouldn't we…' and at that moment this explosion. I mean the biggest darn explosion I'd ever seen in my life. I hit the ground so fast I thought I broke my camera. I look up and there's this Chernarussian just laughing as he snaps his photographs. Then he turns and gets the tanks coming down the street. 'Holy shit,' I says to him, 'I can't believe that happened.' And this fellow he looked down at me and said, in the calmest voice, 'Welcome to Chernarus!' And then he helped me up and I finished taking some of my photos. They weren't good, I was shaking like a leaf." Tihomir laughed at the story.

"What blew up?"

"Fuel truck, great big truck carrying diesel fuel. I don't know why they went that way but they did and that fire burned for hours. Burned down the buildings next to it too."

"How did you get up to Chernogorsk?"

"Cyril drove. We left my car in his driveway; you see he lived just about twenty kilometers away from Novigrad so he had a house and a driveway. It was safe there. So, we drove up to Chernogorsk, dodging patrols and tanks. At one point we were stopped by this APC crew who wanted to know who we were and where we were going. So we told them and they told us that we could go if they could get their pictures in the newspapers so I go, 'Yeah sure, smile for us and we'll take photographs,'"
the image flashed across the screen of seven grinning soldiers, all of them kids. "We got to go after that."

"Do you know what happened to them?"


Tihomir nodded, "About two months later their unit was ambushed just outside of Miroslavl' and the APC was hit by an RPG. None of them made it out of there. Why I don't think the oldest one of them was more than twenty years old. They were just kids. I mean here I was pushing forty almost and there's kids half my age doing the fighting. God that was scary."

"Scary?"

"To think what they were being asked to do and how they were going to do it. We spent a lot of time with them. For whatever reason the troops liked us, even Cyril. They liked us so they talked to us, let us go on patrols with them. We really got to know them. I've forgotten a lot of their names you know. Not because I wanted to but because I just, my memory's faded a bit over the past five decades you see?"
There was no smile from Tihomir this time.

"So you immersed yourselves into the fighting?"

"Oh yes. It was the best way to get the photographs. We didn't want to hang back and 'play it safe,' which I mean how foolish was I with a family at home. My wife, she divorced me about eight months later when I told her I didn't want to come home yet. She met some fellow a few years after that, I guess he was an all right guy. He took care of everyone while I was away. Cyril kind of became my family along with those boys in that war."

"Cyril died in 1971."

"He did,"
a few tears came down Tihomir's face. "I was with him. Never told anyone. Maybe it's time to tell his story. It was so stupid. So stupid, so foolish."

"We can stop."

"No,"
Tihomir shook his head. "Cyril died because of some scared nineteen-year-old with too much venom in his veins. We'd just left Guglovo and we were on our way back to the airbase in Grishino to get an interview with a major, an air force guy, I can't remember his name. I was driving and it was really just a straight shot to the air base through Novy Sobor, Stary Sobor, Kabanino, and a right just before Vybor. Easy drive. We came into Stary Sobor and there was this big logjam of cars. A supply truck overturned and they were sorting it out but it was blocking the road. Now here we are, two journalists, rushing to do an interview. So, I took a 'shortcut' to the south. It would put us near Rogovo and then we'd turn right, head north, and pop out at Kabanino. Easy right? Stupid. We should have waited.

"We reached Rogovo and there's an operation going on just south in Pogorevka. Well that's not our business so we head into Rogovo and we get all of two hundred meters before we hit a checkpoint. Some young nineteen-year-old is in charge. Who puts a nineteen-year-old in charge? He was a razvodnik, barely wet behind the ears. I mean we're talking as low as you can really go. Vojnik is lower sure but most guys when they reached Chernarus they were razvodniks. So, this young razvodnik stops us and starts asking us who we are, where we're going, what we're doing, did we know what was happening to the south? He's eyeing us like we're guerillas.

"Cyril, you know he's Chernarussian but here we are, more than double this kid's age and he's pissed. Just pissed. He's pissed because he didn't get to go southwards and fight with the rest of his unit. He had to man this checkpoint. He wanted to kill Chernarussians. What a twit. He orders us out of the car to search it and we start telling him we have an interview, an appointment, everything there is to say. We tell him to call the air base too but he doesn't know who to call. He picks up Cyril's camera and goes to throw it, you know, just to break something. Cyril lunges for it and bam! I swear that gunshot froze me in time and space. Fucking razvodnik just pulled his pistol and shot. Caught Cyril right in the chest, right in the heart, he was dead before he hit the pavement.

"I'm going 'What just happened? What was that noise?' It didn't hit me, hadn't hit me that my best friend was dead right there because I was on the other side of the car. This razvodnik just looks down, kind of horrified at what happened. He's just staring down at Cyril's lifeless body and I come around the car and he's stuttering, just unable to talk. I'm yelling at him, he's yelling at me, Cyril's dead. It's about as tense as could be and he points the gun at me and I look into this scared kid's eyes and I say to him, 'Go ahead and shoot you fucking coward. You shot my best fucking friend. You shoot now or I'm going to come over there and shove that gun so far up your ass.' You know he squeezed the trigger but he missed. Put a bullet right into my car door and his pistol jammed. Oh boy I rushed at him."
Tihomir's eyes glazed over and he just stared off into deep space for a moment, his face quivering, crying.

It took him a minute to get started again and his voice was considerably hoarser, "I don't know what happened. Some vodnik pulled me off him and threw me against the car. I was crying, my body was just pulverized from whatever I was doing and I was just furious. Vodnik looks down at me and says, 'Don't you go anywhere.' Where was I going to go? Well he goes over and talks to some other kids barely old enough to shave. He sent one to point his gun at me so I wouldn't leave. Vodnik comes back fifteen minutes later, furious, stomping on the ground. He looks over at the kid holding the gun at me and just slaps him right across the face. Hits the kid so hard his helmet came off and he toppled over and then he looks down at me and says, 'Sir this was a mistake. We'll clean it up.' I didn't realize what he meant.

"Turns out this vodnik left someone else in charge but that person decided to go take a nap so he left this punk razvodnik in charge. Kid he slapped was the guy who was supposed to be in charge. Why I thought that kid was just going to die when he hit the ground. He dropped his rifle and the vodnik picked him up and slapped him again, harder, I think he knocked some teeth loose. He helped me to my feet and I noticed, the razvodnik didn't get up, so I'm curious why right?"
Tihomir stalled again. "I mean I didn't intend to kill him or maybe I did and I didn't realize it. They told me afterwards that I was slamming his head into the pavement so hard there wasn't anything left of the back of his skull. Why I just threw up right there." Tihomir went into another pause, this one long enough for Petrović to bring him back.

"So what happened then? What happened afterwards?"

"Uh,"
Tihomir composed himself, cleared his throat. "They put the bodies in body bags and I drove to the air base. I don't really remember driving or the three days afterwards. Only thing I really remember was going into the bar. Three days later I wake up in a prison cell and I'm told I started no less than five fights. I guess I just wanted to fight the whole Pojan Army. I was too drunk to remember. They cleaned me up and set me on my way. I saw Cyril's body once more before it was sent back to his wife. I stopped by there about two weeks afterwards, I couldn't even tell her what happened. Cyril's car was in the driveway and I just looked at it and started crying." The camera panned away as Tihomir broke down, Petrović saving him whatever dignity he had left.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Poja on Sat Jan 04, 2020 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:17 pm



• • • † • • •



Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 19:48 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






Despite the otherwise drab nature of Tihomir's story about the death of his colleague and friend, the interview continued. Though the camera panned away from Tihomir it didn't cut to commercial. Instead, it focused on Petrović who kept the interview going. The finished product was, after all, just a splice of hours of interview footage so it looked as if Tihomir had composed himself within just a few seconds. The reality was that it had taken over twenty minutes in the studio for the interview to continue but it did with Petrović's nudging. "Historians and military analysts have looked at the Chernarussian Conflict and given it four phases or stages. In the first phase, we have the invasion and the beginnings of the insurgency; however, most historians agree that it wasn't until spring of 1969 when the insurgency truly gained traction, a little over a year into the conflict. The second phase is marked as a gradual escalation in violence from spring 1969 up to the Christmas Offensive in 1972 into 1973. The third phase is seen as from the conclusion of the Christmas Offensive to February 1974 as the insurgency gradually began to wane as a result of combat and territorial losses from the Christmas Offensive. The fourth phase is seen as the insurgency's defeat in the last three months of the conflict concluding with the end of hostilities on May 17, 1974.

"You were on the ground for that time. What can you tell us about how the conflict changed throughout the phases and the years from your perspective?"

"Well I wholly agree with the phases except the second phase. I think it should be broken into smaller subphases. Each year the conflict escalated and the conflict in 1972 was hardly the same as it was just a year or two prior and nothing like it was say three years prior. When the troops first started rolling into Chernarus there was a boyish naivety about them. They were very idealistic. I spoke to dozens upon dozens of Pojan soldiers in that first year and all of them believed they had come to Chernarus not to fight an insurgency but to preserve the Confederacy and to ensure the continued survival of the country. They were very idealistic. In their eyes, Chernarus simply couldn't split away. None of them believed we'd be there past a year.

"They spoke of the conflict as if it was going to be a temporary event, just a vacation in their eyes. The first troops crossed the border in March 1968 and by the end of summer, most of the Pojan soldiers were beginning to wonder what was happening but morale was still high. The Pojan Army held the cities, the main roads, and many of the larger towns. It was really only the rural areas, the villages that they didn't have a sense of total dominance. The invasion had been a huge victory for the Pojan Army. It was their first, true combat operation and though it was internal, domestic, it was a proof that the Pojan Army was more than capable of protecting the interests of Rugi."

"How had the conflict changed?"

"It changed because we were there year after year after year. Soldiers had been expecting a short combat deployment. They expected to be welcomed by cheering Chernarussians lining the boulevards, the highways, all cheering for them. They expected women to throw themselves in their arms. Instead, they got ambushes and sniper attacks. Then there were mines and IEDs blowing up vehicles and convoys. Time wore on these boys' faces and some of the ones I interviewed in the summer of 1968 I came back to in 1970 and those that were still alive didn't look at all like they'd looked just two years prior. I did a piece on comparison once."

"Yes,"
Petrović answered and a few images flashed across the screen showing side-by-side the project that Tihomir had done. "You show the progressing of combat stress on soldiers over a long period of time."

"Yes, it won several awards. You can see just how rapidly they aged. The soldiers who were idealistic and naïve in 1968 were beginning to change their minds in 1969 but it wasn't until 1970 that they'd totally thrown their moralities to the wind. Troops hadn't taken a very active role outside of the main population areas until midway through 1969, just as the insurgency was flaring up initially. They began conducting patrols through the rural areas and that's when the casualties started to mount, for both sides, but more so for civilians.

"The troops were frustrated and morale was low. They watched their buddies die but they didn't always have a visible enemy to take their anger out on, especially in ambush or sniper attacks where the enemy faded into the area around them without so much as being noticed. Soldiers had no one to direct their hatred to, no one who they could look at and say, 'Shoot him' and that wore on them tremendously. They felt as if they couldn't completely exact revenge for their fallen comrades, that they were being betrayed by Rugi. Naturally, the insurgents took advantage of this as best as they could."


Petrović looked pensively across at his guest. "When did you first start seeing the change in the soldiers' general attitude?"

"It was spring into summer of 1970."

"What did you see specifically change?"

"The tactics. Until then, soldiers would take fire from an area, a village, or an ambush point and fire back. In 1970 they were calling airstrikes down on the villages or artillery barrages firing for effect. It was just a bloodletting from that point on until the Christmas Offensive, the bloodiest of all battles. It was all working up to that battle, however. The rage that both sides felt was boiling to the surface and it had no where to go. That the guerillas chose Christmas as their intended launch is something - to this day - I do not understand. Perhaps they expected it to be a sneak attack but it was all but."

"Perhaps indeed. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back with more from Tihomir Budak."
The show cut to commercial and it would be on a commercial for three minutes before the segment returned to Tihomir and Petrović as the later sought to understand the conflict from a separate perspective.



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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:13 pm



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Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 19:54 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






Petrović was back in front of the camera. "We're back with the continued interview of photojournalist Tihomir Budak, who covered the Chernarussian Conflict from beginning to end," he said, standing in front of the studio space before the program jumped back to Budak's interview. Off camera, Petrović had just asked him, "What was the Christmas Offensive like on the ground? What did it do to the conflict?"

"It ripped it wide open. Think of putting a stick of dynamite into a pumpkin and letting it go off, there's pumpkin everywhere. That's what it did. The rebels unleashed a major offensive throughout the entirety of Chernarus overnight, right underneath the eyes of the Pojan troops. It was a feat to behold but it truly was their undoing."

"How so?"

"Partly because they were utterly mauled and partly because they alienated many of their longtime supporters. In the early part of the conflict, the rebels enjoyed nearly unanimous support from the villagers, especially as the Pojan troops became more and more ferocious in their reprisals. Yet by the time the Christmas Offensive had rolled around, many of the villagers were growing sick of the war. More importantly, they were getting tired of the funerals."

"How did this parlay into losing support for the rebels?"

"About six to nine months before the Christmas Offensive, the rebels went around to the villages and asked them to store arms, ammunition, rations, everything they would need to fight the war. Some villages were all too happy to do it because the Pojans remained the enemy to them but they were some not all, not even most. Most villages were wary of supporting the rebels anymore. They were tired of reprisals and they were tired of the damage and the toll it was taking. The rebels went around and promised a decisive victory if they could store their munitions. Since most of the villages were wary, the rebels had to incentivize it. They offered payments, made promises, or resorted to forced coercion. There was a story, I don't know whether it was true or not, of a militia commander ordering his officers to kidnap villagers' children so that they would support it. It might have just been nonsense but stories like that were all too common back then."

"So what ultimately happened?"

"When the offensive broke out, the rebels met some early successes, mainly because they caught the Pojans entirely by surprise but once the Pojan Army reorganized itself, the rebels were beaten back. Battles were hard fought and the destruction to some of the cities, towns, and villages was unrivaled. Casualties mounted, especially amongst the civilian populace who happened to be caught in the crossfire, especially where the rebels were storing their ordnance. When the offensive concluded, the villagers largely turned their backs on the rebels. The rebels had been handed a resounding defeat and their promises and threats were for nothing."

"Did some villages continue to support the rebels afterwards?"

"Absolutely,"
Budak answered, "some would support it even long after the battles and the war ended. Some still do. That'll never change. But the majority were turning on the rebels by the middle of 1972 and what fewer hadn't would by the end of 1973."

"What of the villages forced to support the rebels?"

"They were the first to turn. The rebels liked to keep watch on the villages by having spies within each and every one of them. Well the villagers always knew who the spies were and following the Christmas Offensive, bodies started turning up all over the countryside. The rebels went out to investigate and found their spies, many of them ghastly murdered by the villagers. Some of the rebel units punished the offending village but that only drove the villagers further and further away from the rebels. The rebels were committing some of the same atrocities they were accusing the soldiers of carrying out, which simply drover the villagers to the Pojans."

"Why?"

"They were tired. Plain and simple. They were tired."

"There wasn't much left of the rebellion after the offensive, was there?"

"No,"
Budak shook his head, "no they suffered pretty badly. They lasted another fifteen months before it was finally over for them. That might seem like a lot of time but the conflict was waning."

"Were casualties truly difficult to ascertain, as has been stated?"

"Absolutely. The rebels were good about burying their dead. From being on the ground, I'd say the total dead was much higher than the official death toll given by the rebels and maybe even higher than the government's official number. The rebels threw everything they had at the Pojan military in the Christmas Offensive. They took a beating and a half, lost a lot of men, lost a lot of matériel, and more importantly, a lot of support."

"What about in the cities?"

"Even the cities were starting to turn on them. There wasn't a city, town, or village in Chernarus by the end of 1973 that hadn't been affected terribly by the conflict. Thousands upon thousands were dead, so many more injured, and property damage was tremendous. Houses had pock marks from bullet holes, roads were littered with craters from IEDs, and even the commercial marketplaces were sparsely attended for fear of snipers. The Chernarussian way of life had been so severely altered that the people were throwing in the towel. They knew that they couldn't fight forever. It sounded good in 1968 but by the end of 1973, it was impossible to keep that going much longer."




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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:40 am



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Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 19:57 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






With the segment drawing to a near close, Petrovic was looking for a wrap-up, something that would bring Budak's testimony to a close and in a profound and compelling way. Petrovic, no stranger to the effect he wanted, sat across from Budak in the interview room. Of course, this was all pre-taped but Petrovic had carefully selected his questions. He had time limits to work with if he was to get through the entire journalist's perspective of the war and he'd done well thus far. Now he wanted something that would humanize the war, something that would round off everything and he knew precisely what to ask.

"You remained in Chernarus even after the Christmas Offensive and even into the end of the ceasefire?"

"That is correct."

"You have three famous photographs from April 1974, after the ceasefire went into effect but before the treaty was signed. I believe these were shot just outside of Zelenogorsk. Tell us about them."

"Ah yes,"
Budak's face changed ever so slightly, "the Drozhino batch, as they're called."

"Yes."

"It was mid-April, about two maybe three weeks after the ceasefire had been declared. I'd been in Zelenogorsk for about three months and I got permission to do a piece on a company based in Drozhino. These guys had been there for almost the entire war so naturally I wanted to do an expose on the war from their perspective. I can't remember the unit name but they were a motorized rifle company, deployed in mid-1969 with a strength of one hundred and ten men. By the time April 1974 rolled around, they had sixty-five men remaining in the outfit and many of those men had been wounded but returned to battle. I think, if I remember right, out of all one hundred and ten, only three or four had survived the war unscathed.

"I'd gone up there a few days before that incident and I'd been working on gaining some information about them. The company was being led by a major because the kapetan had been killed and so had his nine replacements. They'd simply run out of replacements and none of the porucniks were lasting either. So, I'd gone down there to interview them and it was something of a normal day. I think it was a Tuesday, maybe a Wednesday. It was quiet, midday. I was interviewing a vodnik, no a zastavnik. Yes. The company zastavnik.

"I remember it so distinctly. This man had been a desetar when the conflict started but through attrition and battlefield promotions, here he was a zastavnik and on the verge of promotion one last time for saving two men in a firefight. He'd been decorated a dozen times over and he was one of the hardest men to crack. We were sitting in a café; well the whole company HQ was a café that they'd taken over. Off to my right,"
and here he gestured, visualizing the scene. "Two men were playing cards, I think poker. Then across the café was the radio post and they were listening to some music they'd managed to tune into somehow. The company major was asleep and some other men were relaxing. It was quiet. The ceasefire had gone into effect and both sides wanted it to work because both sides were tired of the war. Completely tired. The company had three platoons, two manning checkpoints and one protecting the HQ. Most of their action now was stopping cars and looking for weapons. Anyone with weapons would be violating the ceasefire so they would be arrested and hauled off to a holding camp in Liaria, out of the combat zone and away from any chance to ruin the ceasefire. The Pojan Army was trying to build up its position for the treaty signing."

"Were there post-ceasefire incidents?"

"Dozens but not in this area. They hadn't even arrested anyone though some of the men suggested that they'd come across rebels but let them go, not wanting to risk a firefight or some other incident. Everyone who was there just wanted to go home so anything they could do to quicken that without getting into trouble was their main priority.

"As I was interviewing the zastavnik, he was telling me how excited he was to go home. He was sure his wife had moved on and to him that was fine because he wasn't sure he wanted to go back to her. He also told me about his family and how he was happy to never have to fire his weapon again. He was hopeful and energetic, a man who saw victory in sight and hoped to be home immediately. Morale had sunk pretty low for this company but now it was spiked again. They were one of the longest serving units in combat and they would be one of the first to rotate out of Chernarus and be disbanded. They had it on good authority, they told me. I think it was scuttlebutt but that's just my opinion.

"All of a sudden, we hear this explosion. It wasn't very loud but it was distinct and it echoed. Everyone straightened up, interview over, right? Wrong. There would be much more. We hear this bloodcurdling scream and now everyone's running, Kalashnikovs and weapons in hand. We go about one hundred meters away into this soccer field where there's three young men, all in their twenties. They're definitely rebels because there's two Kalashnikovs and a sniper rifle with them but no one is holding a gun. They're just there on the ground. One guy is on the ground, screaming while the other two are trying to tend to his wounds.

"At this point, the company medic runs up, slides onto the ground, and checks out this guy on the ground. He stepped on a 'Toepopper' mine, well that's what they called them."

"Can you describe it?"

"Well it was a small mine, barely sixty millimeters in diameter, small, light, impossible to distinguish if you weren't carefully looking for it. It contained only about thirty grams of high-explosive, not enough to kill someone but enough to utterly mangle their foot. The Pojan Army had used them liberally throughout the conflict, tossing them around to areas and hiding them under brush and what not. They'd caused a lot of casualties to the rebels. In fact, most of the demining casualties after the war came from them. They were very difficult to defeat because they often had these anti-handling devices that would detonate them if they were disturbed.

"The rebel had stepped on it and it blew his foot to ribbons from the ankle down and he was bleeding pretty badly. His two comrades were just paralyzed from the shock so they were doing what they could to help him.

"So the medic is down there, immediately working on the guy. The zastavnik I was interviewing came up and looked around, saw the guns, and immediately pulled out his pistol. Now I'd already snapped one photograph of the injured rebel's face. This was the first in the series. The anguish still horrifies me and I hate to look at that photograph. I don't know what I was thinking when I captured it but I guess I wasn't thinking. As the zastavnik pulls his pistol I was just paralyzed myself. I was just talking to him moments earlier and he was saying how he was happy to never use his gun again and here he was, holding it with his finger on the trigger.

"He looks down at the medic and says, 'Move away.' The medic didn't hear him so he yelled it now. He'd transformed, a total 180 in barely a minute. I'd never seen that before. He'd lost a lot of friends but whatever triggered him that moment had been brewing beneath the surface for a long time, perhaps since 1969. By now the medic hears him and looks up from treating the rebel. 'What?' 'I said "Move away!"' The zastavnik yells. The major comes up a few moments later and looks around at the scene. I was expecting him to calm things down but the medic just looks at him and the major nods, then turns around and walks away. I guess he wanted no part in this but he wasn't going to stop it either.

"Well the medic is defiant and he shouts, 'No!' The zastavnik fumes, points his pistol in the air, and he fires. Scared the shit out of me. I'd heard gunfire for years upon years but that scared me. Startled me near out of my boots. Medic stands up and gets in the zastavnik's face. That was the second photograph. You could just see the pure anger on both of their faces."
The first and then the second photograph flashed onto the screen as Budak took a moment to catch his breath. He was speaking quickly and he needed to slow it down, perhaps told so by Petrovic off-camera that had been edited out of the clip. "They started arguing. The medic is screaming that he has to treat the rebel and that there is a ceasefire and the zastavnik is screaming that they're rebels and they need to be killed. They had guns and they'd killed this company's men. Medic agrees but says he isn't going to let them die. There was a 'ceasefire' he kept shouting it over and over and over again.

"Finally, something extraordinary happens. The zastavnik was completely right. These rebels had killed me in this company. They'd lobbed mortars at them, took pot shots with their sniper rifle, and they'd set booby traps but the war was over. The men who'd responded push the medic out of the way and back to treating the rebel and form a circle around them, shielding them from the zastavnik, who is just blind with rage. He starts screaming at them and finally, some vodnik or desetar, I can't remember, he looks at this senior enlisted NCO and says, 'We will honor the ceasefire. It's over. Put the gun down.' I took that photograph of the ring and that was the third of them."
The photograph flashed across the screen. "But it wasn't the last one I took. I've never shown it before. At that moment the zastavnik just crumbled to the ground and I mean crumbled. He fell right down onto the ground, like he'd been shot and like he'd collapsed on himself. The pistol fell out of his hand and he just cried. And I mean he cried. He blubbered like a baby, tears just flowing out of him. He wailed louder than the poor rebel without a foot. He just cried and cried and cried. I took that photograph but I never showed it, never published it, never intended to because it wasn't right. I don't know why this - of all of the photographs of death and disgrace that I shot - wasn't right to publish but that was my decision. Here was this man, just reduced to a blubbering baby. The men just stood around the medic as he worked on the rebels. They'd kicked the rifles away but the rebels weren't going to go for them, they were too spooked by the scene. The medic stabilized the rebel and they evacuated him out of there, let his partners go, and sent him to a hospital. He lived, I managed to get in touch with him in 1976 just to see. He'd lost his foot though and he was largely invalid but he was grateful to have survived. He asked about the zastavnik too. He seemed genuinely curious about him. I hadn't much information to give him, well, that's a lie, I didn't want to give him anything, felt it wasn't right."

"Why is that?"

"Zastavnik shot himself outside the HQ about two days shy of the treaty signing, just put his gun in his mouth and fired. He left a note, to me actually, oddly enough. I read it but I burned it."

"What did it say?"

"Who can remember."

"Is that so?"

"That's my story,"
Budak answered. Silence came as Petrovic had nothing further to say and the show cut to commercial once more as the hour changed to 20:00. Their segment on 1973 had concluded.



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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Poja » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:31 am

Image
ZuB-12 Stervyatnik as drawn by Anikatia (Kodeshia).

.:.
Chapter VI
1974
Now that the day has ended,
I thank you Lord,
and I ask that the evening and the night be sinless.
Grant this to me,
O Savior,
and save me.





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Sunday, 11th March 2018 | 20:00 hrs [PST]

Rugi, Liaria, Poja | Poja Television Broadcast Center






Tin Petrović was back and standing in front of the same collage of photographs that he had for the entirety of the program series. As soon as the commercial break ended, and his image returned, he began to narrate the next, fifteen-minute segment. "In 1974, the Chernarussian Conflict was rapidly changing in favor of Rugi. Chernarussian insurgents were losing ground at nearly every turn and the end appeared to be in sight. Until then, the conflict had largely been fought on the ground with the support of aircraft and helicopters yet aircraft and helicopters had not decisively changed the outcome of the war, that solely rested with the ground troops. That was until 1974 when a new type of aircraft joined the conflict and it did so without bombs or missiles but with cameras instead…" The screen turned blank and focused on an aged man - all of them were aged since the conflict was so long ago - of seventy-seven years. Underneath him, the screen introduced him as Pukovniče Živko Pešić PNAF (Ret). He was a colonel when he hung up his military brass.

"I qualified as an officer candidate in 1960," he spoke, "and I was commissioned a junior lieutenant in 1964, the same year I was given my military pilot rating. I flew the ZuB-5PF Fresco-D until 1965 when I transitioned into the ZuB-7PF Fishbed-D. I liked the Fishbed a lot more because it was a lot faster. I'd joined the air force to fly jets and the ZuB-5 was fine but it was slow, it couldn't go supersonic. In 1966, I was promoted to lieutenant and then captain in 1968. In 1972, I was still flying the ZuB-7 but now as a major. By that time, the new ZuB-12 Stervyatnik was entering service and boy did I want to fly it because it was fast! It was faster than anything we had and faster than most of the world's aircraft so naturally that was what I wanted to fly.

"Except the waiting list was very long. The initial ZuB-12P entered service in 1971 but it wasn't really until 1972 that the first squadron was available and the going was slow. Adjinua Aircraft Plant No. 3 was building them fast but we couldn't train pilots to keep up with them so many of them were sitting at airbases fading in the sunlight.

"The military would only let 'senior pilots' fly them, which meant you had to be a major or above, good news for me but every lieutenant colonel and colonel was ahead of me and I had a few 'incidents' on my record,"
here, Pešić chuckled.

Off-camera, Petrović was laughing as well, "Would you mind telling us about those, if they're modest of course?"

"Certainly modest,"
Pešić said. "Well there were two standout incidents that got me disciplined and those were a bit of a hamper. You see, a major without any incidents would get a seat over me, even if I had more flight hours and experience. The generals only wanted the best of the best of the best to fly the ZuB-12 because it was our pride and it was a very demanding aircraft. Flying at Mach 3 for air-to-air combat was hardly the same as flying around at Mach 0.8. Well so these incidents. The first one was barely six months into my career. I was flying a solo training sortie in my Fresco, a low-level orientation mission designed to hone low-level navigation and radio blackout skills. So, I was flying through this valley and I happened upon a farm full of cows and sheep and other animals. So naturally, I flew lower. We weren't to descend below seventy-five meters due to safety. That is still low but at least at seventy-five meters you won't risk hitting trees, power lines, or homes. I passed over the farm at seventy-five meters but you know, I wanted to have some fun. I came back around and came overhead at twenty-five meters. Scared the living crap out of every animal on the ground. I was a hotshot pilot.

"Well the farmer went ahead and called the police who called the air force who found out who was on a training sortie that day. It took about four days for them to catch up to me and when they did boy was I in trouble. You see, I'd accidentally given two cows a heart attack and they died, cost the farmer quite a bit. Obviously wasn't the intention. I had to pay for those cows too, took me about twelve months to pay, a little bit each week from my paycheck. I was grounded for four months from that moment, which was good in a way. I occupied my time with the maintenance staff, learning how to repair the Fresco, taught me quite a bit.

"Second incident was with my Fishbed. It was the summer of 1970 and I was on an air defense patrol with a wingman. We were just supposed to go up and fly around, following the GCI commands and nothing else. It was boring, very boring, too boring. So naturally we decided to have some fun. We spotted an airliner, I think it was a Il-62, had four engines on the tail. So we vectored up to it, performing an intercept. GCI controller kept yelling at us over the radio so we turned it off and continued our intercept. We closed to within gun range of the airliner and called it off there and decided to fly up and wave to the pilots, so we did. Pilots waived back. Then I did something truly stupid."

"Stupid?"

"Oh yes, very stupid. I did a barrel roll over the airliner, a full circle up and over upside down, and then back underneath, and up to where I was. Pilots didn't like that, reported it in, which meant by the time we turned the radio back on to get the commands from the GCI controller, I had a brigadier general yelling at me to land immediately."

"How long were you grounded then?"

"Six months, nearly lost my wings. He told me I could lose my wings or spend six months on the ground doing the dirtiest, most menial janitorial work possible. He told me he'd make me count staples and clean the floor with tape stuck to my hand, absolutely degrading. He expected me to quit right there. So I gave him a sharp salute and said in my most boot camp voice ever, 'Yes sir I will report to the latrines immediately!' Brigadier general was flabbergasted he didn't know what to say. Oh they punished me for those six months worse than I'd ever been punished before. You know that brigadier once made me mop the tarmac during a rainstorm? Creative. I had to sweep the grass a few times. It was torture but I wanted to fly."

"So you were restored to flight status?"

"Yes and not a moment too soon but I was shipped off to another squadron where my comrades couldn't make a martyr out of me or hear about my exploits. From that point on I decided no more getting into trouble. The ZuB-12 was coming up and I wanted to fly it so when I was promoted to major, I knew I had a chance."

"Only you didn't?"

"I might have gotten a slot but maybe by 1978 or so and that was simply too long. Seeing the ZuB-12 fly just made flying the Fishbed seem like flying a propeller trainer. I asked about the reconnaissance model, how the list was for there. That was a strange encounter. It was March 1973 and I'd been a major just five months now and I'd been on the ZuB-12 list for one day less than I'd been a major. Personnel assignments were handled by headquarters in Rugi so I found a way to get myself to Rugi just to inquire. I walked into the personnel office and up to the desetar at the desk. 'I'd like to inquire about my position on the ZuB-12 list,' I asked and here this kid really sighed. He got a dozen of these requests a day but I was a major and he was a desetar so he snapped to and retrieved the list. After I gave him my name, rank, and serial number he found my position, it was very, very low. He gave me the position number and put the list away. I wasn't done with him yet though so I said, 'Tell me, how is the list for the reconnaissance version?' He looked at me confused. 'You're a fighter pilot?' He asked so I said I was. He went and grabbed that list. 'I can add you to it sir but if I do that I have to remove you from the other list.' So I said fine of course what would my position number be? 'Five.' So that's how that went. I was in the first squadron."

"Five? What was your position on the other list?"

"Oh three hundred and something. No chance I'd be in that cockpit soon and if someone became a major while I was on that list and had a better record than me, my number would just go lower and lower. So I wasn't going to launch air-to-air missiles at Mach 3 but I was going to fly at Mach 3 and that was as close as I could get and right then and there I said 'Yes!' I was in the cockpit of a ZuB-12R for the first time on July 10, 1973. By then, all thirty-six aircraft had been built but they only had four pilots, five with me."
Pešić said with a gleam in his eyes. "As more pilots figured out that trick, they filled out the rest of the squadrons pretty quickly. You see, at the time the biggest problem with the ZuB-12 was the lack of trainer time. They'd built thirty-nine ZuB-12PU trainers by then but that was only thirty-nine so you could really only train a squadron's worth of men at a time if you had enough instructor pilots, which we didn't. They had nine ZuB-12RU trainers and so it was much easier to get flight time. I had no problems and our squadron, the first ZuB-12R squadron, was officially formed up on January 11, 1974, on the coldest, snowiest, most miserable day I have ever endured and it was also my happiest day.

"We also stood up at partial strength because there simply weren't enough aircrews yet. A fighter regiment consisted of three squadrons with fifteen aircraft each, with the third squadron responsible partly for training. In a ZuB-12P interceptor regiment there would be forty interceptors and five trainers. In our regiment, there would be a total of thirty-six reconnaissance aircraft and nine trainers. We had more trainers because the generals felt that the trainers could be far better at doubling the combat work than could the ZuB-12PU trainers, and they were right. The ZuB-12PU trainers were hardly combat capable.

"But on that snowy day, we stood up with just eight ready ZuB-12R aircraft for a partial-strength squadron. We had all of our jets lined up on the runway tarmac and the ceremonies were conducted in front of them. It was miserable. I think the air at twenty thousand meters is warmer than it was on the ground that day."

"Did you know you'd be flying over Chernarus then?"

"Not at all, in fact it was never discussed. You see we had eight aircraft and we were a squadron but, in truth, it took until the end of the month for the generals to be confident enough in the flight crews to declare them 'operationally ready' versus merely 'operational.' Even then, only four flight crews were given that designation. My RIO and I were crew number one. That tweaked the lieutenant colonels a lot since they had more seniority. Still we were the Pride of Poja so seniority wasn't very meaningful as flight status was."

"When did you get word that you would be flying over Chernarus?"

"Six days before we did."

"How was it told to you?"

"Regimental commander came into the squadron ready room with the whole squadron present. Brigadier General Beban Nestorovski was his name. He always had a cigarette in his mouth, died of lung cancer in 1977. But here he came into our ready room in 1974. You knew he was coming because he had that smoker's cough. It was persistent, he might have even had the tumors then. It didn't slow him down; they didn't find the cancer until it was terminal and he was dying. They just thought it was pneumonia or something we'd been told.

"He comes in and says, 'Men, we've just been tasked with flying a reconnaissance mission over Chernarus in two days. Flight crews will need to be ready; we have not chosen which one yet.' And that was all he said."

"What were your first thoughts?"

"Well why would we be needed over Chernarus? The war was being won and they had been flying Fishbeds and Fitters for reconnaissance just fine. As it turned out, because those aircraft were deployed inside of Poja, the insurgents knew precisely when they took off and word got around. Command wanted to try to fly us because we could fly higher and faster and from further away. They hoped for the element of surprise. Because of a snowstorm and cloud cover, we didn't fly until 19 February. I flew that mission with my RIO, Major Zoran Trkulja. We flew together our entire career until he was killed in a car accident in 1984. I retired a few weeks later. Just couldn't fly without him in my backseat. But that was ten years after Chernarus."

"What was that first mission like?"

"Exhilarating. We took off and climbed to fifteen thousand meters and accelerated up to Mach 1.8 and then as we neared Chernarus, we accelerated up to Mach 2.5. Our target was a suspected rebel supply base. They'd been trying to find it for months but every time they flew the Fishbeds, there was nothing to be seen. They wanted us to fly over and hope to get photographs of where the base was. So, we screamed overhead and high altitude, too high to be seen from the ground, just roaring overhead. The supply base was suspected of being a main holding point for matériel coming over the border from the UPRZ. We made one pass overhead, emptied our entire load of film photographing the area, and then headed back home, and landed.

"We barely got out of our cockpits before the film was taken out of the jet and it was taken out surrounded by armed guards. We actually didn't bother getting out until after they were done. Turned out that they were able to identify the base within two hours of getting the film developed and with such detail that they were able to plan an airstrike. That happened the next day and it was an airstrike of tremendous proportions. They bombed it for six hours, first with an entire regiment of Fitters carrying nothing but bombs. Then they hit it with the Fishbeds carrying bombs and rockets. Then they hit it with more Fitters and more Fishbeds and finally just when the insurgents thought it was over, eight RoZ-1 Mamont bombers hit it. Four dropped two 9,000-kilogram bombs each and four dropped twenty-four 1,000-kilogram bombs each. The after-action reports reported that the base was rendered 'inoperable' but I saw the photographs firsthand. There wasn't a thing left. Ground troops moving in afterwards reported that the entire base had been destroyed and casualties were massive but impossible to gauge due to the condition of the bodies.

"That was the first of our five reconnaissance flights. I flew on four, as luck would have it."

"Four? How were you able to garner this with so many crews chomping at the bit?"

"We were the backup crew for the second flight and the primary crew had engine troubles with their plane so we launched. The third flight we were once again the backup crew but the primary crew had been sick with a gastrointestinal bug. We skipped the fourth flight but we all drew straws for the fifth and we won. It was something to behold."

"Were you and your RIO decorated for these flights?"

"Yes, we were. We received a medal each for the first flight and then another at the conclusion. As it would turn out, our reconnaissance runs evidently changed the course of the war."
The screen cut away to commercial but would soon return with more of Pešić's exploits.



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