On the road to Pyscowice, the group is tired, particularly the away team, which had been in multiple firefights and no sleep. They drive slowly and the Pyscowice cavalry rides alongside.
Wojciech has fallen ill, complaining of nausea, vomiting, headaches, and feeling weak. Schultz is tending to his symptoms, and keeping him isolated from others due to the possibility of contagion. He doesn’t know the cause as yet [failed Diagnosis roll].
Capt. Lisowski of the Pyscowice cavalry, sees the American uniforms and gear, and asks Maks to explain the American personnel during the trip south. [Rolled an AVG:CHA check to simulate Maks’ insight and got an Outstanding Success]. Lisowski doesn’t seem hostile or upset, but there’s a feeling of “I’ve been presented with a complication to resolve”.
“The Americans?” Maks replies “They didn’t want this war any more than you and I did. They just want to go home. As it happens I need to travel there to reunite with my wife and daughter. With this common goal we make a good team.
“We’re just passing through Captain. If you think there’s going to be trouble with these foreigners temporarily being in Pyscowice it would be better for everyone if you tell us now rather then we get there.”
As is typical this time of year, an overcast afternoon turns to rain. The country road south through the forest has the occasional fallen tree, sinkhole, or derelict vehicle to negotiate. The riders and the crew of the MAV take turns flanking and investigating obstructions along the way as the main body waits.
Capt. Lisowski, at Maks’ reply, holds up a hand.
“It’s not what you think colonel. We are not averse to foreigners in Silesia. Indeed, quite the opposite. It’s complicated, but…” He gestures around you. “We seem to have time.”
He explains the background. The Wojsko Slaskie (Army of Silesia) was formed when the Markiz, who was the commander of the Polish 14th MRD, chose Silesia over the distant communist leadership. It was difficult at first, particularly in dealing with the traitors in the city ZOMO (riot control police, very loyal to the old order). And then the difficulties really began. Silesia is surrounded by competitors and outright enemies. Krakow to the east, bandits to the north, Soviets to the west, and Czechs to the south.
Trying to restore an economy and augment military forces simultaneously are at odds with each other. The Markiz formed a special unit of deserters and refugees with military experience called the Legion Obcokrajowiec (Foreign Legion).
“When these individuals are encountered, our orders are to ‘comfortably detain’ them, and send them on to the capital for interviews. Until recently, this has been mostly Germans and Austrians. Russians are refused entry, and ex-Polish soldiers are incorporated into Wojsko Slaskie. By and large, this has been better received with those refugees than you might imagine. Military service can be dangerous, yes, but the pay is good, and they have a safe, comfortable, and prosperous place to live when off-duty. It wasn’t a problem.
Within the last couple of weeks, many Americans began crossing our northern frontier. We learned about the utter failure of the American offensive. Applying our policy with them has been… more troublesome. Americans, we learned, can live up to their stereotype of stubborn individuality. While many have gone along with our policy, a few seemed to comply, and later disappeared from detention in Pyscowice.
Last week, my riders and I encountered a group of Americans in one of your Jeep vehicles. They were pleasant enough at first, but when I explained our policy, they drew guns on us. My English is mediocre. It was tense. I threw down my weapons to speak with their leader, and instructed my riders to stand down. The Americans calmed down. I talked about the many benefits of service in the Legion Obcokrajowiec and being a part of our grand project in Silesia. We are making history here, growing peace and stability in the midst of this madness and destruction.
They declined. I told them to go in peace, and informed them, best I knew, the situation in surrounding areas. They returned northwards, but I do not know of their fate beyond that.
When I reported back, my Baron of Pyscowice, Major Franz Esterhalzy, supported my decision and sent a communique to Raciborz requesting a clarification of policy. We have not heard back yet.”
Capt. Lisowski rides alongside, pensive, as the vehicle idled along.
He says, “Colonel, I can tell you have a special unit here, and you are already doing good for our people as it stands. You have a long journey ahead of you. If you want to continue elsewhere right now, you have my well wishes.
However, I have an alternative idea. In the way of your long journey to America stands Winter. Perhaps a respite for your team might be desirable until Spring. Perhaps you may change your minds, I can hope.
I propose to have the situation sit for a week. There’s a fair-sized isolated farmstead outside of town. The old owner recently passed away without heirs, and the place has stood empty since. It has two houses, a well, and the fruit trees are unpicked. You can have your group stay there, as well as the former slaves. I’ll have food and fresh clothes sent up, as well as some beer and vodka for you to dole out. I imagine they’ll be quite content for the duration.
I’ll have my sergeant and a trooper posted at the farm, not as guards, but to speak to any passers-by, or to summon me if needed. You’d officially be a crew hired to clean up the place. You can send a couple of Polish speakers into town to discreetly conduct trade; traders pass through, so it will not be unusual. Meanwhile I will make inquiries as to the status of policy. If things remain unchanged, I’ll send your unit away to your fortunes elsewhere. My hope is that the policy will be modified to match the new reality. But either way, no obligation for you.”
“If you can arrange for me to speak with the Markiz I can share some information that I’m sure he would want to know. I would of course abide by any security measures deemed necessary. It doesn’t need to be a private meeting, though he should only allow in the room those who he truly trusts. You’ll have to excuse me for insisting on delivering this information to him directly. I can assure you that by the end of our conversation he will look favorably upon you for having brought me before him.
“As a gesture of good faith, I’ll start by offering a path to improving your relations with the Americans. To get them on board they should be approached with a proposed short term arrangement. They need a relatively safe place to regroup and gather their strength. You need reliable military forces. So recruit them to serve only for a finite time period by which point you will have stabilized your operations enough to transition to your own native forces. From the outset you should guarantee them support and blessing towards their efforts in coordinating a sea voyage returning them back to their homeland in America. Agree on an end date for their service secure in the knowledge that some will choose to stay permanently rather than risk the ocean crossing.
“They would need autonomy in exempting some of their people from service so they can journey to port cities, establish shipping contacts and conduct negotiations. But as a group these Americans would not just be hungry mouths, sitting idly by. They could be earning their stay by conducting patrolling, guarding farms, warding off marauders and slavers, scavenging abandoned areas for supplies, preparing defensive fortifications throughout your territory and conducting outreach.
“My team and I could coordinate all of this on your behalf by locating groups of Americans and negotiating their terms of enlistment on your behalf. We already know of two groups who we could communicate with on very favorable basis. And I think you said there are Americans in Dobrodzien, we can pay them a visit.”
The group arrives, and settles into the farm. Within the next 24 hours, Woj begins feeling better. However, DeAngelo Pratt and two of the refugees begin having similar symptoms. Doc Schultz diagnoses their symptoms as radiation sickness. Apparently the devastation in Częstochowa was more than the result of conventional weapons.
They too, begin recovering within the next day. In the future, they’ll need to exercise care when exploring ruins. Maks makes trips into town to secure food and supplies, and dispose of unneeded gear.
1000H 27 July 2000. Pyscowice.
Capt. Lisowski arrives at the farmstead. The situation has changed. The Markiz has granted the Baron wide authority in treating with Americans. He wants to meet with Maks and a couple of his Americans. The hussar asks that they leave firearms at the farmhouse, but they may bear bladed weapons.
Pyscowice is surprising. It is seemingly untouched by the war, clean and pleasant. At the City Government Office, they note the building has electrical power, and they pass through a metal detector.
Maks, William and Áron are ushered into the Baron’s large office suite. Two guards with Polish fatigues highlighted with red striping and AKs make way for them. The first person they note, oddly enough is an American, Lt. Ramos. He salutes Maks, identifying his unit as B Troop, 1/116th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Dobrodzien. Ah, well that made sense. He and the Baron had been talking.
The baron is older, gray, with a moustache. He’d been looking at a map of the region. He greets the newcomers, and they speak briefly about their origins, and life on the run since the 5th Division was plowed under at Kalisz.
Baron Esterhalzy reviews the military situation on the map. Marauders have been a constant low level threat since the original punitive expeditions. The pressing issue in the north is the Soviet 129th Motor Rifle Division. Until recently, the division has been content to occupy Polish cities [as seen on map] extending westward to Wrocław. “There has been skirmishing between us and them, but that was it.”
Maks notes that Capt. Lisowski is translating the Polish for Lt. Ramos.
“Recently, our own long-range patrols have encountered heavy Soviet presence SW of Olesno. Lt. Ramos here has been sent by Capt. Warren of the American unit at Dobrodzien. They report that the Soviets have massed the bulk of their forces into an Operational Maneuver Group. Their intentions are unknown, but alarming, to say the least.”
What is known of the Sov 129th MRD in general and this OMG firebase near Olesno from prisoner interrogations:
- Approx. 1000 men and 4 tanks have been assembled in the OMG
- Colonel Alexander Kazanov has been division commander since 1999, when he was the highest-ranking survivor of a KGB purge.
- The 129th is slowly disintegrating. “Our patrols have been encountering large groups of deserters heading east for the last year. One prisoner told us that Kazanov’s senior officers want to pack up the division and head home, but Kazanov vetoed that idea.”
- “Maybe this is what we’re seeing. Maybe there was a coup. But we think not, as the Soviet-held towns to our north are still garrisoned. So we judge this to be a threat. A dire threat. Perhaps Kazanov is unifying his division with aggressive action?”
The Baron looks pointedly at Maks and the Americans.
“So this is our time of need. What can your unit do for us?”
Maks discusses the question with his men. He turns to the Baron. “Seems to me more information would help. I’d like to see them for myself. We have experience in being where we shouldn’t be.”
He starts putting together a plan. Using captured Soviet uniforms that the Baron supplies, the team would pose as Soviet engineers sent from the logistics HQ at Wrocław. They’d arrive at the Soviet camp on foot, claiming their vehicle had broken down.
Maks, Wojciech, GDW and Áron made preparations, and caught a ride with Lt. Ramos back to Dobrodzien. There they briefly met the unpleasant CO of B Troop, Capt. Molly Warren, who first thought the Poles were Russians and became agitated, until Lt. Ramos corrected her impression. Then she was pleased at the new recruits, until Lt. Ramos corrected her assumption again. She left, annoyed.
My group never spent much time inside Dobrodzien. If they had, I would have needed a map like this.
The four were directed to temporary quarters, and got a good night’s sleep.
The Soviet 129th MRD OMG base
The party left before dawn, 28 July. The trekked west through the forest. As they emerged at the road heading northeast to Olesno, they encountered a derelict UAZ-469 just inside the treeline. It had two flat tires, but otherwise seemed OK. Given that their plan was to impersonate fellow Soviet comrades with a broken-down vehicle, this was fortuitous. [I’m not kidding, I rolled this encounter. The dice gods were generous.]
Maks had William and Áron each heft a flat tire and bring it with them. As they approached the Soviet camp, they were intercepted by a security patrol. Maks relayed his story to the sergeant. [I had him roll Act/Bluff, he got an Outstanding Success] Not only did the sergeant let him pass, but he brought them through the gates himself. The Russian sergeant chatted amiably, lamenting being yanked from his comfortable garrison duty at Brzeg for whatever this operation is. [I had Maks – Russian not being his native language – roll LNG, he got an Outstanding Success] By the time they got back to the motor pool, he and Sgt. Ulov were lifelong friends. He offered Maks a ride back to his disabled vehicle, but Maks demurred, saying it wasn’t far at all.
The team used the opportunity to note the camp’s layout, counting personnel and vehicles, and spotted the HQ tent. Col. Kazanov and staff emerged at that point, and they briefly made eye contact.
They returned to their UAZ without incident with fresh tires, and got the vehicle running. By afternoon, they’d returned to Dobrodzien to an impressed Lt. Ramos, who supplied them with more ethanol for their return to Pyscowice.