29 August 2000. Tarnobrzeg.
After taking measure of the menace in Tarnobrzeg, Maks had drawn up a careful plan to defeat the marauders with minimum of casualties, particularly among the civilians.
Before sundown, a small team would make their way into the city unnoticed and make contact with the residents, to both inform and arm them. They’d be followed up by the rest of the group, plus a platoon sent to assist from Sandomierz.
It went awry almost immediately. The insertion team captured a sentry, who seemed more confused than hostile. When interrogated in Russian, the man kept referring to a “party”, and why were they acting like this?
The insertion team withdrew back across the river with their prisoner, to link back up at the bivouac with the rest of the team. Before this happened, observers from the team watched a small group of cavalry paralleling the highway, making their way toward Sandomierz. As the dozen riders passed, it was clear they were the shirtless savages from Tarnobrzeg.
This represented half of the personnel from that terrorized town, perhaps the best half. Further interrogation of the prisoner revealed that the “party” was a raid of Sandomierz by an ersatz coalition of the marauders occupying towns on the east side of the river. The sentry had initially thought Mak’s team to be fellow raiders.
In addition to Tarnobrzeg, the captive cities of Nowa Deba and Stalowa Wola were sending scores of raiders… and tanks.
This was a menace, and an opportunity. Lieutenant Svoboda and his fellow Czechs of the Sandomierz ORMO 5th Platoon would head back home to bring warning. They had a German Fuchs APC, and planned to run down the marauder riders on their way.
To be certain, Col Maks radioed a brief message to ORMO HQ alerting them of the threat. And they’d continue with their plan to liberate Tarnobrzeg, despite the loss of 5th Platoon. After all, the marauders’ manpower was halved as well.
The takeover was an anti-climax. There were only three of the devils in the town square, and they were quickly cut down. Tarnobrzeg was free… Almost.
The citizens reported that the Krol and about a half-dozen of his men were at Dzików Castle up at the north end of the city. And perhaps could be caught unawares. The townsfolk armed themselves with captured weapons and whatever implements they could find, and Maks’ group led them.
As they made preparations, they could hear explosions beyond the horizon. The battle for Sandomierz had begun. The group would head there after taking care of this little matter.
Maks got a radio call from the Visla Krolowa. Adam reported that an ORMO platoon had boarded the tug, and handed the mike to a German lieutenant, who informed Maks that the boat would be used in the defense of Sandomierz for the duration of the emergency.