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  #1  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:34 AM
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Across the Volga

The cruel, biting cold rushes in like a freezing tide filling the train compartment. The slumbering soldiers awake, swearing and blinking wildly. The swaying mass of humanity crammed into the steel box groan as one, unwilling to face the howling gale outside. Out! Out! Soldiers move out! Comes a voice, cutting through the gale like vicious bayonet. Rough hands grab the unwilling hauling them out of the train on to the snow covered platform, the willing and the eager though leave the train under their own power, their stiff footsteps crunch in contrast to the gravelly shuffle of the weak and afraid. NKVD troops prowled the station herding the soldiers to large open part of the station platform. In front of a stack of crates stands a man with a microphone, he stands tall and imposing clad in his black greatcoat. His gaunt and weathered face gives him the appearance of a lean gnarled tree, not an inch of give or softness to be found. The speaking tube he holds indicates he is the source of the voice from earlier, briefly consulting notes in his left hand he lifts the speaking tube again, Junior Commissar Dolokhov! Sergeant Ovitchken! Report to me now! Soldiers gather here, in ranks now! he projects across the station.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 11:52 AM
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Ekaterina had been awake when her train pulled up to the platform and as such she was one of the first to jump out, anxious to be rid of the crowding proximity of the other soldiers' bodies. Even though the cold made it painful to breathe, she was glad of the comparatively fresh air. She moved away from the platform to make way for the others who were disembarking and started walking vigorously to stretch her legs, hands hidden deep in the pockets of her overcoat. Hearing the amplified voice of someone giving orders, she looks around in confusion for a moment, standing on tiptoes and craning her head to see between the milling soldiers. Some of the other soldiers were already moving towards an open space and following their flow Ekaterina found herself in what seemed to be the assembly area. Making her way towards the front ranks, she found a spot in the formation, dropped her knapsack at her feet and assumed a position of parade rest, eyes fixed on the man in the black greatcoat.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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Dolokhov forces his way out of the train as soon as it's open. Too. Many. People. A few times he barely suppressed the urge to punch the nearest soldier. As soon as the carriage came to a halt, he started to push towards the exit.

And now, ah! free! He spreads his arms with joy, stepping to the side to avoid the river of bodies. The Stalingrad winter, after years in Kolyma and the train's torments, feels like a lover's caress.

Dolokhov stands on the side of the platform, watching the NKVD herd the fresh troops. It brings back memories. He produces a pack of Belomorkanal and puts one in his mouth. He then strikes a match and lights the cigarette with utmost care, then proceeds to take a mighty drag. While watching the endless tide of men disembark the train, he is for a moment lost in memories. But then, he is brought back to reality by the man's summons. Junior Commissar Dolokhov, he thinks, finding his way to the source of the voice. Not sure if it will work with me. Finally, Dolokhov makes his way to the man, and stands in front of him, not exactly at attention, but it is a pose suggesting readiness. "Junior Commissar Dolokhov, reporting for duty." He sizes the man up with his gaze, as is in his habit. Not a foe like the prisoners, and maybe the soldiers, time will tell, but still a hierarchy needs to be worked out.

Last edited by Wolesz; Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:45 PM.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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My dearest Natalya,

It has been six days since we parted and already I feel as if it has been a lifetime. This morning our train passed by a small village along the Volga. It was on fire for miles, the buildings splashed along the tracks like corpses. Many dead, survivors waved at the train, perhaps expecting the hundreds of soliders aboard to help them. But we could do nothing but watch thier homes burn, and listen to the steady rythem of German artillery growing closer. The Germans move closer daily and soon there will be no place safe from them. Today I have met the men that will be under my command, and I place a great deal of pride and trust in thier capabilities. Though some of them are poor from the Urals; men who can barely read and write - they have the will to fight with the ferocity of tigers when I command it.

All aboard are silent. All aboard think of home, if there is a home left. Others, those who can, write final wills and testiments. I feel I should do the same, in case this letter reaches you with word of my death in battle. Should I never return, I hereby entrust all of my worldly possessions, the honour of my rank, and the all that is granted to me for my service to the Motherland. Know that I died bravely, facing the enemy, and did so to ensure you and Sacha remain. Remember me not in sadness, and teach our daughter the values of a good woman.

Tell my beloved Sacha that I fight for you both. Hold her close at night, but tell her no lies about her father. If we lose this war, I expect that she will know soon enough.

With all of my love--


Before Ovitchken can sign his letter, what could be the last thing he ever writes, the train pulls to a hault and he's forced to stash the piece of paper into the inside pocket of his overcoat. As the train doors slide open, Commisar Scar stands and moves sharply towards the front of the pack, where the officers have already started pulling people down and shephearding them clear of the train. He shoves a taller recruit away by the face as he tries to step across his path, taking his time to hop down off the train and shove through the crowd. A few times he has to stick his arm out and check someone or shove them into an opposite direction, not letting anyone shove him like a common conscript.

He assembles with the other officer, and his CO - JC Dolokhov.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 03:04 PM
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Mikhail groans as he awakens, not from the cold but because every muscle is cramped from having to be balled up, no one wanted to allow him more room because of his increased size and he was unwilling to push the issue, thinking that these men had every right to it. There are several audible crunches as he stands and he rubs a balled fist into his lower back relieving some of the tension in the muscles there before methodically making his way across the platform to take up a parade rest, dark eyes front forward and shining from equal parts fear and excitement.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 11:02 PM
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Alexi was puffing away at another cigarette even as the train pulled into the station, his attention riveted to the not-so-distant sounds of falling artillery until one of the surly NKVD troopers began to scream at him from behind to move. He grinned and took a deep drag on his cigarette, then turned and exhaled a cloud of the noxious smoke (seriously, he could practically taste the alfalfa in it) into the angry military policeman's eyes. He shouted in outrage, but by the time his eyes had cleared enough to see again, Alexi had already melted into the rolling crowd of soldiers, his thin wiry body slipping through it like a weasel.

He spotted the sergeant whose squad he'd been assigned to about five minutes before they'd boarded the train and worked his way over to the man, falling in rank in between a slender looking girl who was not unattractive and a veritable giant of a man whose beard seemed to mock Alexi's own mustache. Their darker features was a clear indication of their racial heritages. Interesting, a couple of Tatars... eh, could be worse, I suppose. At least they're not f*cking Cossacks.

Crushing the remains of his cigarette under his boot heel, he came to a stance that could more or less be considered parade rest, if the man considering it was drunk and nearsighted, that is.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2012, 09:38 AM
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The man with the speaking tube briefly appraises the two officers, “Sergeant Ovitchken, Junior Commissar Dolokhov, I am Senior Commissar Marikhov,” he introduces himself in an accent of a full blooded muscovite, “Sergeant Ovitchken you are assigned this group of 250 men as of now a large command but times are desperate and loyalty is rare,” he gestures to the corpses of hanging cowards at the end of the railway station, “The soldiers are of the 193rd rifles and 39th guards you are to lead them to victory.” He turns to Dolokhov, “As Junior Commissar you are to maintain discipline, watch for disloyalty and keep fighting spirits high. At any sign of disloyalty, cowardice or incompetence file a report before acting, however, in extreme cases I will trust your judgment.” He clears his throat, “We will cross the Volga in 30mins, once across you will secure the landing site and link up with the 42nd guards who will have your next objective. The enemy will be pushing hard, do not yield a single step, cowardice is unacceptable. Any questions? If not brief your men and meet me by the ferry in half an hour.”
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Old Feb 24th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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Ovitchken is altogether silent during his briefing, speaking only when directly spoken to, and only ever a simple, "Yes, Comrade Commissar." Though he remained tight-lipped, the Sergeant questioned Command's decision to shoot thier own men. He understood the importance of this battle and the gravity of a Soviet defeat at Stalingrad, but it didn't feel right to tell his men that he would shoot them should they decide to run away. It was times like this, when he was expected to raise himself above the common soldier and conscript and assume the role of a true officer, that he despised the most. But he would do what he was told.

Once dismissed, Ovitchken assembles his men together at the docks, against the backdrop of hundreds boarding transport ferries that would take them across the Volga, and for many, certain death. "Listen carefully, hear me! Brave soldiers of the 193rd! Men of the 39th guards!" We are about to undertake a glorious expedition in the name of our Motherland...." He tries to time his wording around the distant sound of German artillery and aircraft. Ominous reminders of the frivilousness of words. "When faced with the enemy, do not think of death! Remember those you love! Those you have lost! And those you will stand to lose if we fail here, today! Use them to bring you courage. Use them to bring you peace - and do not be afraid! Deserters... traitors... and those who run away will be shot. There can be not one step backward, by order of Comrade Stalin himself. Dolokhov and I will do our utmost to bring you back to your families... but you must decide for yourself if you want to live. I cannot bring you back from the dead, comrades. That is all I wish to say." A bit of an anti-climatic speech, but Commissar Scar could not bring himself to say any more. Seeing their frightened and anxious faces... knowing that many of them will be facing death... he turns his head away and blows the whistle around his neck, signaling his troops to being boarding. It would be a terrible blow if his men saw the tears welling up in his eyes.
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Old Feb 24th, 2012, 09:47 PM
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Seminov salutes the senior commisar before he leaves and reshoulders the machine gun that he had leant on the ground upon taking up a stance of at rest. As they talk about deserters and cowards being shot he is filled with conflicting feelings. Part of him believes that anyone not willing to give their all for the fatherland doesn't deserve to live in it but another is filled with pity and sadness about the fate of what might have been otherwise good, working men.

When the orders to move out are given he will make his way to the bow of the ferry, kneeling down to give himself some cover and bracing his machine gun against the bowspirit ready to supply cover fire for the beachhead if it's needed, now that combat is closing his duality is forgotten and all that matters are the grey uniformed men swarming father Stalin's city and the report of artillery all around.
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 10:22 AM
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As the troops file down to the landing bay they battle the buffeting winds and blinding snow. Before huddling on to the rickety river ferry NKVD supply officers toss rifles and ammunition to the soldiers, roughly 2 thirds receiving rifles (with a single clip), the unlucky third only receiving ammunition. The several of the guards receive sub machine guns. They then set foot on the swaying creaking tub of the ferry. Pale faced they clutch their weapons like lucky charms as the chugging motor chokes and chops, sending up a stream of black smoke. It is cramped but there is at least room to sit. “Will we really make it across in this tub?” a pale faced rifle man inquires to the people around him. A gruff muscovite in the back corner of the boat tries to light a thin battered cigarette before he is bombarded by others begging for a share. From the railing other boats can be seen trying to cross as well, from other ferries to barges to long row boats.

Across the river Stalingrad can be seen, huge columns of smoke spiral from the ruins, the sonic thump of bombs detonating reverberate across the waters. The blinding snow however makes it difficult to see anything else. Marikov stands ramrod straight at the bow of the ship, “Fear not comrades,” he shouts when he sees the soldiers cringe when the ferry does a particularly heavy roll. “The Rodinu calls and we come to her defense, once we are on the other shore there is no longer any land beyond the Volga. There will only be Duty, Death and Glory!” he extols.

 
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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Alexi grumbled as he waited in line to receive a weapon. It seemed like the majority of soldiers were receiving Mosin-Nagants (if they were even that lucky). Though Alexi could fire one, he was by no means a sharpshooter, and being stuck with a bolt-action rifle would heavily limit his ability to kill Germans. He was therefore greatly surprised and relieved when the supply sergeant, finding his name on his list and making a few impressed noises, tossed him not a rifle but a PPSh-41 submachinegun instead along with a large drum magazine. Whether it was God above or someone in the chain of command who actually had enough brain cells to give a soldier a weapon he was most skilled and experienced with, Alexi was not about to complain. Granted, most of his actual combat experience had been with a captured German MP40 during his time with the partisans, but he'd had a chance to familiarize himself with the Soviet weapon in between then and now. And the PPSh-41's drum magazine had more than double the ammo capacity of a MP40's box magazine... if he was going to kill Germans, this was the tool to do it with.

As they boarded the creaking old ferry, Alexi suppressed a shiver. He'd never been a good swimmer even in the best of circumstances, and with the heavy greatcoat, his pack, and his newly issued weapon to weigh him down in the freezing water... well, all he could do was pray that no German artillery or Stuka would find them as they slowly crossed the Volga. He was about to reach for his cigarettes when he noticed the poor, dumb Muscovite being leeched on by the soldiers around him, and decided he could wait. He was perfectly happy sharing what he had with his squad mates, but most of the poor, dumb bastards around him would be gone before the day was done, either fighting somewhere else in the city or dead at the hands of the fascists (or the guards from their own side who decided they weren't fighting hard enough). He instead slumped down and merely eyed the opposite river bank in silence, wishing the river crossing was already over and done with.
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Last edited by BloodyDove; Feb 25th, 2012 at 01:38 PM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 03:32 PM
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Dolokhov looked at his commissar-issue TT-30 with grim amusement. He did some quick math in his head. In the Gulag, he watched over about fifty malnourished intelligentsia who had to get from the camp to the mine, and back. He could shoot after issuing a single warning. He had to issue a warning after a prisoner appeared to escape the convoy. "Escaping the convoy" was defined as removing one's self at least one and a half metre in any direction from the column. Everything that surrounded the road was tundra, trees, snow, more trees, military checkpoints and villages. There was a substantial reward for Gulag escapees.

Here in Stalingrad, he has to watch over 250 healthy, bloodthirsty soldats, two thirds of which are armed. 24 hours a day. He is expected to write reports and shoot only in extreme circumstances. He is supposed to distinguish between cowardice and survival instincts. They are surrounded by a city full of Germans(and rumors of Kommissarbefehl have reached him)and hideouts.

As a Gulag strelok, he had an 1891 Mosin-Nagant. As a political commissar of NKVD, he got this tiny pistol which made him feel tiny. Dolokhov did not comment.

He did, however, ask mockingly: "Could I get something bigger?"

Last edited by Wolesz; Feb 25th, 2012 at 03:34 PM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 07:40 PM
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Coming up behind his Junior Commissar, Ovitchken unslings the rifle he was given from his shoulder and pats Dolokhov on the shoulder. "You can have my rifle, Comrade. These damn hands are too shakey to fire it, anyway." He stuffs the gun into his friend's hands and pushes past him. Joining his men on board the ferry, Ovitchken takes a position along the side of the boat, elevated from his men so that he can better see them. He extends his gaze with narrowed eyes across the river Volga and removes his hat long enough to run his gloved hand through his short hair before replacing it. As the boat begins to pull away, Commissar Scar feels the need to encourage his men... or perhaps more himself. "Remember your training, comrades! Do not be afraid!"
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 08:08 PM
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Hearing the strong voice of his commanding officer straightens the young would be warrior's shoulders all the more as the city and his destiny looms larger and larger as the ferry slowly makes its way forwards the far bank. Knowing that he only has a single disc of ammunition he knows he cannot waste it but also knows that if he doesn't use it at the right time he'll be wasting lives. He props it up ready to go and hopes that the beach is already secure.
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Old Feb 26th, 2012, 06:22 AM
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Packed shoulder to shoulder with the other soldiers at the docks, Ekaterina listens to the scarred man wearing a sergeant's insignia who seems to be their commanding officer. She scowls as he mentions treason and cowardice, almost offended. Doesn't he know what's at stake here? Doesn't everyone know? If any soul is so weak and selfish to run from battle, then they deserve to be shot and the stain cleansed from the honour of their unit.

Then the speech is over and the soldiers are handed their weapons. The Tatar girl is delighted to receive a scoped Mosin Nagant and swears to herself that she'll make every bullet count. She jostles the others as they embark on the flimsy ferries, making her way towards the bow of one which seems in slightly better shape. It's not cowardice, simply common sense - how is she supposed to kill Nazis if she drowns before reaching the battlefield? As the ferry starts chopping the frigid waters of the Volga, she uses the scope on her rifle to examine the landing site and the city beyond, but the blowing snow makes it difficult to distinguish anything.
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