12 Oct 2000, afternoon
After the mop-up of the WL partisans
Americans call it Indian Summer. In Poland, it’s called babie lato (“old woman’s summer”) . The weather is unseasonably pleasant: Warm days, cool nights. Clear, no rain.
Weather Underground has us covered with full weather history in the area. You can set the date and location. The fitful nuclear exchange may have changed the weather of course, so a Twilight 2000 GM has license to go with what works for their game. But some time has passed since the strikes, so I prefer to use the real world weather history for the most part.
Maks has a raging headache, and kinked neck from whiplash. A bullet pinging off your skull will do that. Stitches. Patrol medic told Wojciech to watch Maks for signs of concussion.
- The WL mortar was Wojo… Kraków manufacture. The Silesian troops were unsurprised. Rumor is that Kraków has been supplying arms to anti-Silesian forces.
- One of the prisoners was this band’s leader, with the nom de guerre “Anyo” – [English: “Angel”]. She wore a patch over her left eye. Looked more like a pirate than an angel. With her remaining eye, Anyo glared in hatred as Maks passed. She was headed for the capital in chains. The rank-and-file prisoners were to be transported to work camps in the west of the realm.
- Derelict aircraft was used as a supply cache by WL rebels.
- Chrzanów (shanoff) garrison commander – Lt Straczynski – said he’d mention Mak’s team assist in his after-action report.
- The party’s travel pass is upgraded to PMC status. Must check in at all garrisons along the way, report planned destinations. Can fill up tank if fuel available, and catch a hot meal and a bunk with the troops if needed.
- They were advised of a travel route. Good place to spend the night with the garrison at “the planetarium”, where a newly-cleared bypass road rejoined the highway after threading between blasted ruins of Katowice and Chorzów.
News of Elizka’s illness
Back in Warsaw, Elizka was quite ill, so Doc Schultz informed Maks. He was on this evening’s radio call, which was a surprise. Maks told him to take charge while Elizka was down.
She’d had “a bug” before Maks left, but it had apparently worsened.
Doc doesn’t know what it is, other than emphysema and acute bronchitis. Fatigue. Chest pain. Persistent coughing. And Elizka was not a smoker.
Doc would like to get a chest x-ray for Elizka. But they didn’t know of any facilities with that capability. Kraków perhaps?
Otherwise, things were quiet in Warsaw, and Doc had little to report.
Silesian Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory
Śląskie Planetarium i Obserwatorium Astronomiczne
Hey, I got to use a location that I’d found earlier, but figured the party wouldn’t likely be going back through Silesia!
Maks and crew reached the Silesian garrison at the planetarium at nightfall. The army sergeant wasn’t kidding, it really was a functioning planetarium and active observatory. The observatory building boasted a 300-mm diameter refracting telescope, Poland’s largest.
It was set in a park area on a forested rise, and had been spared the devastation that had visited the core of industrial Katowice and Chorzów. It was a lovely sight, the park’s gardens and ponds.
Maks noted that the Silesian military had a radio presence at the planetarium, with several anntennae and a comms version of the ubiquitous Pact UAZ. Soldiers were lined up, waiting their turn to visit the planetarium.
The party parked their UAZ jeep, checked in at the garrison, and got a meal.
Maks and the woman saw each other at the same time.
Hanna Podgórna (“Dr. Nowakowa” in her cover as Wrocław University professor, Institute of Astronomy)
[Notivation cards: Wild Card. Spades 10 “Very ambitious”] Joker cards aren’t listed in the NPC Motivation table, so I use that as license to get creative.
A woman Maks knew (not well) after his defection to the Americans. She too had been a defector, translating for Division Signals intelligence (SIGINT), before Kalisz. She had been higher security clearance than Maks.
Hanna Podgórna is in her late 50’s. All business, as Maks remembered her from before the fall of the 5th Division. He hadn’t seen her since then.
Yet here she is, in a white lab coat, working at the observatory, operating under a different name.
“Dr. Nowakowa” discreetly motioned Maks to stand in line for the planetarium show. He got in line. Hanna ignored him until it was their turn for the show. They sat next to each other. It was dark, and there was the rumble of conversation, as the troops chatted with each other during the astronomy show projected on the dome overhead.
Maks and Hanna warily conversed, measuring their answers. Maks told her of the party’s publicly-known activities since July, emphasizing their independence and accomplishments in opening up trade downriver. She had already mostly heard it all, particularly the group’s involvement in thwarting the Red menace here in Silesia.
“You’ve been busy, ” the older woman whispered.
Hanna avoided the talking about the origin of her new identity. As “Dr. Nowakowa” of Wrocław University’s Institute of Astronomy, she’d been appointed by the Markiz to the facilities here at the Planetarium Śląskie, to further astronomy in the realm. Hanna was administrator of both the planetarium and the observatory.
How Hanna went from SIGINT officer for the Americans to astronomy professor went unexplained.
Maks was reticent to speak openly about his intentions in Silesia, except to say it was to maintain cordial relations in the region. The older woman accepted that at face value.
Hanna said she’d heard that two Soviet divisions had recently been fighting near Kalisz. Each wanted to winter there.
It was then that Maks got his first bombshell.
Baron Esterhalzy of Pyskowice – the party’s primary benefactor last Summer – had been found guilty of treason three weeks ago, and executed. Along with the disappearance of Major Stranski – previously the Markiz’s steadfast chief-of-staff – Maks found it entirely plausible when Hanna told him there was a lot of “turnover” in the higher echelons of the realm.
The Markiz made little secret of his ambition to be Krol of all Poland, and it seemed he was a bit paranoid as well.
Hanna mentioned the standoff up in Dobrodzien, Captain Warren of B Troop wanting to take her unit en masse to the American evacuation at Bremerhaven. The Markiz had no issue with that, but he coveted the unit’s armored vehicles. Maks demurred, saying he’d heard of the dispute, but feigned a lack of interest.
Captain Warren herself also had dark rumors swirling around her, including the abrupt disappearance of her XO, Lt. Ramos. The young officer had been the party’s primary liaison with B Troop; they’d had little contact with Warren last Summer.
All of Maks’ allies in the region were gone.
The woman put her hand on his arm. “Take care up there, Maks. It’s a snake pit.”
He thanked her, and assured her that he’d protect her position here at the facility by never mentioning it.
Wojciech, meanwhile, had been circulating among the Silesian troops in and around the barracks, listening to their conversation. The confrontation in Dobrodzien was no secret. The soldiers also talked of the unseasonably nice weather. Consensus was that this Winter would be cruel.
13 October 2000
Maks decided to continue on to Pyskowice anyway, despite the absence of Baron Esterhalzy. They needed a legitimate opening to insert themselves into the confrontation at Dobrodzien, and Pyskowice still seemed the best option. Hopefully Hussar Captain Lisowski still served there.
Hanna had told him the new Baron was Major Geissmar. Maks had met him briefly last Summer in Raciborz, but knew little of him. Geissmar had led the realm’s Legion Obcokrajowiec (Foreign Legion). He still seemed to hold that position, in addition to his new land title.
The trip to Pyskowice was uneventful. The skullduggery among the elites seemed to have little effect on the citizenry of Silesia. True, Maks did see huge convict labor gang salvage teams working in the massive industrial ruins along the Gliwice-Katowice belt. But the roads had plenty of civilian traffic, and electricity had been restored in places. One could almost believe they were in pre-war Poland.
Upon their arrival in Pyskowice, Baron Geissmar was very cordial, and received Maks and crew almost immediately. They spoke in English.
Captain Lisowski was absent. Geissmar indicated he was out on patrol with his Hussars.
After brief pleasantries, Geissmar leaped into recruitment mode. He’d heard that Maks had gathered a large contingent of Americans, and obviously wanted them to join his foreign legion. Maks demurred, saying that most would want to go home across the Atlantic, but promised to allow Geissmar to make his pitch to them.
Geissmar himself brought up the standoff in Dobrodzien, and wondered aloud if Maks could assist in convincing Warren to surrender her armor. After all, it was doubtful the Americans at Bremerhaven had space in their ragtag fleet for vehicles, and Warren’s armor would then be gifted to the Germans! Silesia needed those assets more. (Nobody outside of Silesia shared that opinion of course…)
Maks pondered the question. He hadn’t decided on a course of action, but instead had been waiting to see the situation for himself.
He mused aloud. “Well, travelling through all the disputed territory, Poland and Germany, all the way to Bremerhaven… It is a daunting task to be sure. Armor obviously is a great advantage.
“But it is not without its pitfalls. Armor consumes vast quantities of fuel. And it’s a magnet for trouble.”
Maks looked at Geissmar. “I have my own plan for evacuation of Americans that doesn’t involve Bremerhaven.
“The thing with leaders, they can be replaced. Perhaps Captain Molly Warren of the American B Troop can be… ah… persuaded to step aside if I can speak of my plan to her unit. My plan doesn’t require the unit’s armored vehicles…”
Geissmar smiled. He had little practice smiling, and it was a rictus grin. “I’d like to take you to the Markiz myself. He would surely want to hear of your proposal.”