28 November 2000. Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The streets were oddly familiar. Atlantic Avenue. Pacific. Illinois. North Carolina. Baltic. All from a boardgame Maks played with the Americans before the offensive last summer.
It was early in the morning, and the sun wouldn’t be up for a few hours. After the encounter with “Those Punks”, Maks decided to continue into The Indian’s turf in Atlantic City.
He and Wojciech [“Voy-check”] were still pushing through a pre-war residential area. They had to climb atop a rickety house to avoid a pack of feral dogs that’d picked up their scent. After an hour the dogs lost interest in the pair.
They continued to Highway 30 and observed an armed 3-man group walking along the road’s center Jersey barrier. They were well-dressed in pre-war business attire. Maks debated about contacting them, and let them pass.
The sun was now on the horizon, and they chose to walk openly down the road with daybreak. Maks planned to make peaceful contact with The Indian’s gang in their guise as escaped Polish POWs.
They passed a man with a mule cart perhaps bringing wares into town. He was standoffish and ignored Maks and Wojciech, and they left him in peace.
The second cart they overtook was pulled by its owner, who looked like Grizzly Adams from an American TV show he saw on videotape back in the Army. Adams was more friendly, and showed the pair his wares. A lot of it was Bling: Rolex watches, jewelry, and colognes salvaged from somewhere.
Maks did notice one item that caught his eye. A LED flashlight, astonishingly bright, that looked just like one Maks had seen back in Europe. But he was focused on the mission at hand, and passed over it. He did acquire a couple of watches in trade for a bag of shotgun shells. Maks asked if there were ships here that could take them back to Europe – in support of their cover story.
Adams, on questioning, told Maks the only big boats (other than Naval vessels) in these waters are big sailing vessels flying the flag of the United Brotherhood of Fishermen (UBF). They occasionally stopped here in Atlantic City. And local fishing vessels.
It was then Wojciech noted several armed men dressed in business attire, closing on their position, at least 5 of them in a semi-circle, armed with M4s and SMGs. They were between 10 to 15 meters away, using buildings as cover, heading straight for them. They seemed proficient. “Uh, boss…” Wojciech murmured. Maks looked up, gauged the situation, knowing it’d be a bloody and possibly final fight for them.
At that moment, he chose to stand down.
Two of the men approached, while the remainder kept to cover, weapons leveled. They called out to Maks and Wojciech, “Hands up!”
The duo complied. While one stood guard, the other thug frisked down Maks and Wojciech, relieving them of their weapons and gear. Maks fumed and protested in broken English. His protests were ignored. Their hands were bound with poly straps marked with $$ signs.
Maks and Wojciech were escorted toward the Casino strip, specifically to the
Hard Rock Taj Mahal Casino. It was a massive complex. Maks saw more gang members, as well as even more people that perhaps worked for The Indian’s gang. The casino was squalid and smoky from numerous lanterns throwing dim light.
The Indian was surrounded by cronies. He had long hair, and now Maks understood Adams’ choice of wares: The Indian had gold rings on every finger, gold chains, gold watches, gold earrings, and even gold teeth.
The meeting with The Indian was brief. One of their guards whispered in his ear, gesturing toward the pair. The head man was perplexed at what to make of Poles who wanted a ship home to Europe.
The Indian ordered them held for now, and moved on to more pressing issues.
Maks and Wojciech were taken to the nearby Trump Taj Mahal hotel. They walked up ten flights of stairs and to a room that was locked from the outside by lag bolts and heavy chain.
It wasn’t exactly a dungeon, and their treatment was civil, if curt. They were locked in their room on the 10th floor, and given a bucket of water to drink and make the toilet work. They had a great view, but the window wouldn’t open, other than a ventilation pane. A guard waited outside their door.
Maks was frustrated and annoyed. It was now he remembered he’d seen Bowen in the Hard Rock Casino lobby. Events were unfolding quickly, and he hadn’t had time to process what he’d seen. Bowen had been an unlikely team member since the shoot-out in Silesia, but had disappeared in the evacuation at Bremerhaven.
And now he was in Atlantic City, for reasons unknown. Maks had never trusted him, and even less so now.
31 November 2000
Three days passed. Maks and Wojciech had only been brought food, and the guards wouldn’t speak with them. They’d idly examined the room for a way out. The floor and ceiling were concrete. The walls were sheetrock – which they could penetrate – but Maks was leery about making their situation worse. He had no idea what was in the neighboring rooms.
He was concerned about the rest of his men waiting with the boat. GDW, Aron, Schultz, and Pratt had no idea where Maks and Wojciech were in the city, or their fate.
The guard barked at them through the door to assume positions. Sighing, the pair stood against the wall near the door, arms up. The guard came in, weapon ready, while others streamed in, including a lieutenant in The Indian’s organization, judging by his fine clothes and bling.
The man proceeded through many questions, drilling in on Maks and Wojciech’s Polish cover story. It was easy, as most of it was true.
Their visitor was somewhat friendly, if thorough. At the end, he counseled patience to Maks. The interrogator ordered toiletries and new clothing brought up at Maks’ request, and had some old magazines delivered as well.
They departed, leaving Maks and Wojciech in the room, wondering about their men, and where this was going. Maks pondered: Would MilGov would proceed with their imminent invasion after their scouts disappeared in the fallen Sin City?