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|and Jacob13Kyle||Action/Adventure, Military/War, Romance||PG-13||None yet||No updates page|
27th December, 2015
Water. Earth. Fire. Air.
Long ago, in a time of oppression and war, there existed a country called Poland. For a while we lived in peace and harmony. But then, everything changed on the first day of September, 1939 when the German war machine invaded. My parents died during the opening hours of that fateful day, and I was imprisoned by the invaders.
After making my escape, I joined the Armia Krajowa, a band of freedom fighters seeking to reclaim Poland's freedom. Now, the time has come for the people of Poland to rise up and take back what is ours. But I will not be apart of the Uprising. My superiors have assigned me to protect and escort the Avatar, a girl named Tanya.
The coming days won't be easy, but I will face them head on. I will do my duty and protect Tanya, I will avenge my parents, and I will prove that Poland is Forever Unconquered.
Henryk jerked awake and blinked at the sudden glare on his sleep filled eyes. He groaned as he stretched and felt his back pop. The pair of chairs that he had propped himself up on to sleep were uncomfortable and made him miss his bed. As he looked around the room, he took notice of Tanya sitting in the corner by his feet, reading her codex. Across from him, Václav ate a meager breakfast while having his rifle propped against his knee.
"Look who's finally awake," the sniper said through a mouth full of food. Henryk rubbed his eyes before glancing at his watch. He instantly formed a frown before shooting a glare toward the Czech.
"Two hours. All I got was two hours," he said.
"Could be worse. Could have only gotten thirty minutes." Henryk rolled his eyes before he stood and grabbed up his sub-machine gun. Even now, he could hear the distant sounds of battle as the Uprising raged all over the city. The high pitched whine of a Stuka dive bomber sounded, although it's distance kept the room's occupants from diving for cover. Dust still rained from the ceiling and the room still shook from the bomb's explosion however.
"Where's the Captain?" he asked.
"He said something about getting some breakfast," Tanya said from her corner. Henryk shrugged before he motioned for her to follow him. Tanya closed the codex and stood to follow the young sergeant into the next room. Two civilian women were handing out bowls of oatmeal to passing Home Army members from behind a small table.
A hole existed in the far wall from a tank round, where a woman currently manned a DP 28. Two other resistance fighters stood on either side of the hole, their KAR 98's at the ready. Henryk passed all of this, choosing to ignore a potential meal in favour of finding his friend.
"Are you shitting me?!" Henryk couldn't help but frown as he heard Danielius' voice ring out with anger. Following the heated shouting, they found the Lithuanian standing in a nearby room with a few other resistance fighters. All of them looked rather pale because of the backlash they were receiving.
"Bad news?" Henryk asked, choosing to speak when Danielius stopped shouting for a breath of air. The Lithuanian whirled in his direction, fire in his eyes.
"Bad news? That's all I've been getting! Three days into this Uprising, and already things are starting to fall apart if not look downright deplorable."
"You mind elaborating, or are you just going to rant some more?" A few of the Home Army members in the room gasped. They had never seen a Sergeant speak to a Captain like this before. To their surprise, Danielius motioned for Henryk to step forward. He turned to a map of the city before he began to speak.
"We've captured a lot of ground during the past few days, but we've also had a lot of setbacks. None of the attempts to capture areas on the east bank of the river have been successful, and all of the bridges remain under German control. Most of the city centre and old town has been captured, but there are still German strongholds like the Police Headquarters, Saxon Palace, and the PAST building. Here in Wola, we've been mostly successful, but at a heavy cost."
"There's still fighting raging in the streets, but most of the early reports indicate that some units have suffered as much as a thirty percent loss," Danielius said. His voice had lost it's angry edge and was now filled with exhaustion. Henryk knew the feeling all too well. These were men and women he had been fighting side by side with. It hurt to know that many of them were gone.
"There has to be some good news in all this," he said.
"Some. You remember Lieutenant Micuta, the special assignments officer in Zośka?"
"You mean Waclaw? The boy scout instructor? He still owes me money from our last card game."
"Well you might be able to get him to pay up with his raise in salary. He's been promoted to commander of the newly formed Zośka armoured platoon." Henryk's eyebrows went up in surprise.
"They managed to capture a tank?"
"Two of them, actually. A pair of Panthers that wandered too far away from German lines yesterday. They haven't done much with them cause command is still trying to figure out how best to use them, but they're ours none the less."
"Germans incoming!" came the shout of a sentry, causing everyone in the room to briefly look toward the door.
"Could use those Panthers now..." Henryk muttered as everyone readied their weapons and hurried out of the room. In the makeshift kitchen, the women passing out the oatmeal were racing to pack up their stuff while the DP 28 across from them roared to life. The two men standing on either side of the machine gun were taking turns firing shots over the woman's head.
"Save your ammunition, one shot, one kill!" Danielius shouted as they passed by. Henryk took Tanya's hand and led her out the front door and to the base of the barricade. Several resistance fighters were either already on the barricade or sprinting down the street toward it, rushing to join the fight in holding back the German counterattack.
"Incoming!" Henryk recognized the roar of a flying tank round and quickly tackled Tanya to the street, covering her body with his. A section of the barricade exploded outward, throwing several fighters skyward from the top and flattening the closest ones on the street. Henryk barely had time to sit up before the whine of a Stuka's engine filled the air. He pressed Tanya flat again as tracers peppered the barricade and the street around them. The aircraft strafed the Polish position with its machine guns before angling skyward again, vanishing into the clouds.
"Are you hit? Are you okay?" he shouted over the noise as he sat up, pulling his body weight off of the Avatar. Tanya looked about in a daze. Several resistance fighters lay scattered about, either dead or screaming in pain. Several female nurses raced into the fray, carrying stretchers in order to collect the dead and wounded.
"Tanya, look at me!" The Avatar jumped and looked her protector in the eye. His usual look of cold was mixed with a touch of concern.
"Are. You. Hit?" he asked, stressing clarity on each word. She quickly shook her head.
"Henryk! We need to take out that tank, it's tearing us apart!" Danelius shouted over the noise.
"I've got to keep her safe!"
"We only have one Panzerfaust, and you're the only one who can back it up if it fails!"
"I've got my orders..."
"As do I! If this barricade goes, there's nothing to stop the SS from massacring everyone in the district!" For the first time since she had met him, Tanya saw Henryk look genuinely torn over what he should do. He looked her in the eyes for the longest time before returning his attention to Danielius.
"If anything happens to her..."
"It won't, we'll keep her safe," Vaclav said. Henryk nodded once before he sprang to his feet and took off in the direction of that the Lithuanian was pointing. A pair of resistance fighters, a man and a woman, were waiting for him at the entrance to a nearby building. The man was cradling a Panzerfaust in his arms like it was a newborn child.
"On me," he said in passing to the pair, leading them into the building. The sounds of a fire fight echoed through the hallways as the German troops attempted to flank the barricade on the street through the building. Members of the Home Army, many of them armed with little more than pistols and hand grenades, were making a valiant effort of fending the enemy off.
The tank's main gun thundered again as Henryk kicked open a door which led into a back alley. Surprisingly, the trio found the alley deserted of German soldiers. The main attack was focused on the main street with the tank for support, leaving the alley devoid of any opposition. Henryk led the way forward with his sub-machine gun at the ready, slipping into a small arched covered passageway which led back to the main street.
The street was littered with rubble and dead bodies. Here and there was patches of flaming debris, adding smoke into air which was already filled with dust and haze. Henryk crouched next to the burnt out shell of a car. Less than a block up the street was a Panzer IV, slowly creeping its way toward them. He didn't need earthbending to feel the ground begin to vibrate under the massive war machine.
"Wait for it, then hit it in the side or the back," he said to the man holding the anti tank weapon. The tank's main gun thundered again, causing the trio of resistance fighters to hunker down even more as the round roared overhead. Jumping up, the man tucked the panzerfaust under his arm and took aim. Whether he was blinded by panic, or over eager to get a tank kill under his belt, Henryk would never know.
"No!" It was too late. He pressed his thumb down on the lever and fired the rocket. The projectile sailed through the air with a whoosh and smashed into the front of the tank. But rather than detonate, it rebounded straight upwards with a loud kong before exploding harmlessly in the air.
Instantly the bow machine gun on the tank roared to life, cutting down the resistance fighter before he could react. Both Henryk and the woman ducked for cover as the bullets pinged off of the metal frame of the car.
"Shit! That was our last one," Henryk said.
"What do we do now? Grenades?" the woman asked before she raised her MP 40 and fired at a small squad of Germans that had taken notice of them.
"No, we'd never get close enough for them to be effective."
"Then what do we do? If that tank takes down the barricade we're done for." Henryk sighed as he looked over the situation before him. The tank was slowly drawing closer and closer, like a victorious killer approaching its prey.
"I know of a way, cover me!" The woman looked at him with wide eyes, clearly thinking he was crazy. But she raised her gun and fired nonetheless. Henryk sprang out from behind the car, took a deep breath, and felt his body's energy shift. Stomping his foot into the street, he thrust both of his fists upward and outward.
The ground shook as the street beneath the tank shifted. A pillar of stone and asphalt suddenly shot upward and tore through the tank's engine. The screech of metal being torn from metal filled the air as the tank came to a sudden halt. Fire quickly raced throughout the metal beast, its fuel tank having been ignited by sparks from the stone and metal grinding together.
Hatches all over the tank flew open as the crew raced to escape from the now raging inferno. None of them got very far, as Henryk raised his weapon and fired, quickly cutting all of them down.
"What? How?" the woman asked, looking on in awe at what had just occurred.
"We need to move, now," Henryk said as he slid a fresh magazine into his gun.
The air reeked of various types of decomposing waste, mostly of faeces and urine. The uniforms absorbed the air's stink.
"Pfui! Oiso wånn uns de Poin ned seng, riachan's uns!" remarked the man to Wilhelm's right, Leopold Meyer, "Yuck! If the Poles don't see us, they'll smell us!"
"Oder hören, Poidl. Wenn du nicht sofort aufhörst, herumzuschreien." snapped Wilhelm, "Or they'll hear us, Leopold. If you don't stop shouting around immediately."
"'as is sunst jo gånz fad! Mir håm nu koan oanzign vo de Krippeln gseng, då unt." Leopold complained, though more silently than before, "But else, it's all boring! We haven't seen a single of these cripples, down here."
Ever so briefly, Wilhelm shot him a glare. Whatever Leopold had thought, all ideas of joking around were gone.
"Herrgott nuoamoi, Willi, du bist fåst schô wia oana vo de Dreckpreißn." Leopold shook his head, looking forward, his rifle always ready. "Christ, Willi, you're almost like one of those bloody Prussians."
All of sudden, Wilhelm's right arm extended itself to the side, motioning for his men to stop. And stop they did, everyone frozen in their tracks. They heard it, undeniably - splashing of water, or whatever was flowing through the sewers, ahead.
"Wie viele von diesen... Netzteilen haben wir?" whispered Wilhelm, pointing at his gauntlet, "How many of these... power packs do we have?"
"Also ich hab hier drei!" answered one of his men, almost inaudibly, "Well, I've got three here!"
"Auch drei!" whispered another, the echo making it sound like a shout, "Three, as well!"
"Also mir haben'S aa drei 'gebn." came from the back, "Well, you've given me three, too."
Wilhelm made the slightest of gestures, and his men moved to the sides, making their way out of the water, and all readied their weapons. He himself too hurried to the side, though loudly, then crawled, ducking, there, and saw his assumption proven - four men of the Armia Krajowa made their way through the water, almost oblivious to the danger they were in. Wilhelm snuck further forward, his black uniform not hindering him in his endeavour, fitting the gauntlet on his hand, making the preparations for a strike. As the four merry foemen marched past him, he struck the water, or whatever it was. They were shocked, though not quite enough to kill them, he saw. Frowning, he unsheathed his bayonet, and jumped at them, the gauntlet striking the first in the forehead, the bayonet cutting the next one's throat, before he crashed into the other two. He managed to press one of them to the ground, then standing on his chest, letting the other one rise - only to stick the bayonet into his eye, as deeply as his strength allowed him to, before cutting the same one's throat. He caught the lifeless body, cleaned the blade on it, and let it drop on the drowning man, marching further. His men followed him, as he no longer saw the need to sneak - wrongly.
"GERMANS! AHEAD!" was heard. A few more men - and women too, but they died all the same - of the Armia Krajowa were about to meet them. They quickly took cover around the corner in other, smaller sewer tunnels which emptied into the main one. Almost instantly, Leopold threw himself into the sewage, to use it as cover, and took aim, pulling the trigger whilst still in motion. A scream was heard, and violent, automatic gunfire followed, which was suppressing fire at best, though certainly not meant as such. Wilhelm made use of such inexperience and lack of self-control, and charged forward, taking cover at the opposite corner, gunning down whoever had screamed - apparently, a rather young lady. A grenade was thrown, and Wilhelm's heart began to race. He began to pray silently as he leapt and rolled away from the foolishly thrown explosive. It was his great luck it hadn't been a fragmentation grenade, but rather a highly-explosive one, which spread no splinters, but did damage the tunnel wall considerably. Now in the field of fire of those hiding behind the corner he himself had used as cover only seconds before, he emptied the magazine into the general direction, apparently striking at least one of those around the corner.
Meanwhile, Leopold, now arguably the most disgustingly reeking man around, planted his bayonet on his rifle, making it seem more like a spear than anything else, and stormed forward, stopping only to shoot one more of the Poles. The rest of the men took aim and followed the two officers, giving Wilhelm, who was reloading, time to do so, as the others seemed to preoccupy the Poles, of whom there must've been a dozen at least. Again, a grenade was thrown. Almost instinctively, Wilhelm sprinted away from it, retreating forward as he always did. This time, it was a fragmentary one. And this time, the target was the mass of Wilhelm's men, into whose midst it flew. Aside from Wilhelm - and Leopold, too - only one man reacted, who jumped to cover the explosive with his body, to save his unit. However, he had jumped too early - the grenade hit him on the head, exploding right above him. The men in the centre were taken out by a single - man, woman, Wilhelm didn't care, he just stuck his bayonet into the foe's foot to climb up to them, and to stick the blade into their chest, just once, before he leapt to the next, who punched him into the stomach, knocking him back, and would then have shot him to pieces, had not Leopold climbed up as well, and performed an excellent one-man bayonet charge. More men climbed up on both sides, Wilhelm saw, lying there, as all around was blurred around him, and seemed to lose its colour. His bowels too didn't take the punch too lightly, but he heard a swear he knew he couldn't ignore.
"DU TERRISCHA BEHMISCHA DRECKPREISS!" shouted Leopold, "YOU DEAF, FUCKING CZECH PRUSSIAN!"
He got his pistol out of his holster, moved his head a bit to the side, aimed approximately. And pulled the trigger. Multiple times. In fact, he emptied the magazine, all eight rounds, into the one man who would've killed Leopold Meyer. He reloaded, just as Leopold did, and fired into the same direction as his long-term brother in arms did. Leopold, too, didn't stand on his feet for long, but their men did the rest. And in the end, the two rose again, unlike the Poles they had fought. They leaned on each other, made their way into the main tunnel, and turned to the tiny battlefield.
"Verluste?" he asked, still doing his best to stay on his feet and not to vomit, "Casualties?"
"Wir haben elf Mann durch die Polen direkt, und sechs durch die Handgranate verloren." answered him the nearest soldier after counting, "We've lost eleven men to the Poles themselves, and six to that hand grenade."
"Wia vüle Poin woan d'n des, bitte?" inquired Leopold, whose right leg bled. "How many Poles were that?"
The same soldier took a look around, and counted. "Nun... sieht so aus, als wären's vierzehn gewesen." was his answer, himself not believing it, "Well... it looks like there were fourteen."
Wilhelm shook his head, crossed himself and prayed, silently.
"Wås håst leicht, dass'd jetz schô ins Betn kummst?" Leopold couldn't help but ask, "What is it that makes you pray already now?"
"Wenn das vierzehn normale Polen anrichten können, dann was haben wir bitte von massiert eingesetzten Bändigern, vom Avatar zu erwarten?" asked Wilhelm rhetorically, his senses returning to him, "If fourteen ordinary Poles can do that, then what can we expect from concentratedly deployed benders, what can we expect from the Avatar?"
Nonetheless, the heavily decimated unit marched on.
A shot was fired. The bolt raced back and forward again, as if not driven by the Czech's hand, but by the recoil. He fired again. The same procedure as before was repeated. And again. And again. And one last time, till he had to reload. Any ordinary soldier would've taken cover then, but Václav simply slid a loading strip from his sleeve, directly into the magazine.
Tanya watched, captivated by the swiftness of the sniper, who, likely more than anyone else around, obeyed the Lithuanian Captain's order - "One shot, one kill," eliminating Germans that could've hindered Henryk's attack. But even the daring, or, as some would say, suicidal sniper knew when it was time to take cover. The tank's main gun fired, piercing the relative silence that the ongoing attack was in comparison. Tanya was surprised, and not pleasantly, despite having heard it before.
"Calm down. Henryk's taking the tank out." Václav tried to soothe her - his efforts bearing no fruit. He just wasn't convinced of it himself, muttering, "At least, I hope so."
"That's the point. He went out there alone, didn't he?" Tanya stuttered, shook, and, in her fear, was in a worse state than any veteran Václav had ever seen.
"Not exactly." The Czech himself had trouble keeping calm, and if by nothing else, realised it as he felt time running incredibly slowly. "He took two people with him. I think they were armed, at least. Yes, they must've been. Yeah."
"That doesn't help me. Not in the least." She shook her head. Whilst the tank's movement had stopped, the machine gun now sowed bullets.
Václav decided it was time to see what was going on. Out of a pocket in his jacket, he took an object strange to Tanya's eyes, and used it to look over the barricade. Tanya was about to ask, but the Czech was always faster, at least when he knew what was going on, and answered, "This? A periscope."
The panzerfaust was fired. Which was followed by numerous curses and insults. "Dammit!" Václav cursed, loud enough for the tank crew to hear, or so Tanya thought, "FUCKING DAMMIT!"
Tanya shook even more than before, fearing that the barricade on which she leaned would burst into thousands of pieces at any moment. Václav's anger transformed into fury, blind one on top of it, and he grasped a brick which lay just a metre away. He stood up, the fool. The brick was flung towards the tank, and actually hit it, even the part the sniper had been aiming for - namely, the machine gun - but it had a different effect than anticipated. A loud screeching pierced everything, and made Tanya cover her ears. Václav froze in his tracks, not moving, except for his jaw, which dropped.
"What did you do?" asked the girl. He motioned toward the tank. Curses were heard from that direction, German curses, but she was unsure. She looked, and did not believe her eyes. What must've been the engine lay behind it, a block of rock and asphalt occupying the space the aforementioned had been before. She allowed herself a slight smile.
Hatches were flung open, and the tank crew escaped - or rather, hastily crawled out. Someone who must've been the driver crawled out and walked towards the barricade, beginning to raise his hands to signal his surrender. From the turret, the commander leapt down, cursing everything and everyone, throwing away pieces of his equipment, most notably, his weaponry. One of the gunners, who followed, mimicked the driver, whereas the other one, just jumped down, the back of his uniform burning already.
Danielius shouted orders. Orders which Václav simply ignored. He left his rifle where it was. But he didn't need to carry the order - Henryk did already. Tanya's slight smile vanished in the very split second in which the sound of renewed gunfire ripped the brief silence apart. The bullets first struck the commander, the nearest target, in his face - his brains and blood sprayed the road and walls and everything close enough. The next target was the burning gunner. The bullets ripped his partially burnt back apart, as well as his legs. The other gunner came afterwards. The projectiles struck him in his legs, the wounds caused by these then appearing as a trail moving upwards. As the last bullet struck him, in the shoulder, he fell to the ground at last, a pool of blood forming around him. Lastly, Henryk aimed for the driver. His and Tanya's gazes, or at least she thought so, met each other for the briefest of moments, before he pulled the trigger. This time, the shoulders were where he started. The arms, raised, as to surrender, dropped. A short, loud scream of his was suppressed when Henryk aimed further down, and struck the lungs.
Tanya had no tears for the Germans, and, in that moment, was unsure whether she would've had some for Henryk, should he be shot or alike. Too much did it remind her of the previous year, of the Ghetto Uprising. Thousands of thoughts raced through her mind then, all accompanied by what she had seen so far. The thoughts united to a single one, which took its time to verbalise itself. And when it did, she thought it aloud. "Violence breeds violence."
This time, Henryk's and her gazes met for sure, before he had to change his position. Or at least, he saw her. She shook her head, and leapt over the barricade. She sprinted forward, only to vanish in the nearest alleyway. She took a few turns, only to get further away from it all. The distant howl of a Stuka dive bomber, the not too distant roar of a machine gun, the close shouts of those whose mission it was to keep her safe - she ignored it all as she sank to the ground, leaning on the wall. She hyperventilated. It was too much for her, she couldn't take it. She wanted to get away from the Germans, from Henryk, from all of it. What happened to her until then, she decided, was nothing she'd care about. She was, as too often, terribly wrong.
Notes & Trivia
- Dreckpreiß, or in the plural, Dreckpreißn, (Standard German: Dreckpreuße/n) is a derogatory designation Bavarians tend to apply to Northern Germans and alike, and likely originates in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, or alike.
- The reason for the heavy consequences of the tank commander being shot in the face is him basically being only a few metres from Henryk.
- When writing the last paragraph, I, Sep0815, came terribly close to quoting Fallout's infamous "War. War never changes."