My little brother was falling back asleep in my parents room.
My older brother and I were sleeping soundly in our room.
Then the first mortar shell crashed into our house.
We couldn't find their bodies before fascist fire streamed from flamethrowers
Runners were cut down instantly by machine guns like the wheat we harvested every year.
Their luck ran out.
My brothers speed, my small size, and luck saved us from this unprovoked attack.
Later I learned that a couple of the Germans had been found killed earlier that day a mile away.
I was no longer "daughter". I was simply "sister".
We moved east with only the clothes on our back and each other.
With stealth, speed, and more luck we avoided the invaders.
Finally we made it but we were not alone.
Thousands of other lucky people who had fled made it.
Food was short as it was being allocated for the war effort.
Seeking both a place to stay and revenge we enlist at one of many recruiting stations.
I lie about my age in order to join. There was no way they could find out in this chaos.
We swore an oath to the hammer and sickle, Comrade Stalin, and our homeland.
Before the reprisal attacks our conviction was only on the exterior.
For as long as we had been left alone it did not matter who ruled over us for we were at peace.
But now we were at war.
I was "sister" and now "comrade" as well.
My brother was always the strongest. He took after my father and he always did the hardest work.
He had even found a sweetheart in the neighboring village, they had planned to marry.
Now he was an infantryman and his only sweetheart was the rifle he had been training with.
I was the little one. My father's little flower. I mostly took care of the few animals we had.
When it came to the fields I had driven the tractor as father and brothers hands were needed.
Instead of a tractor I now was learning to drive a T-34. She was a beautiful creature.
Her armour was thick and sloped and she fired 76 millimeters of fury.
My fellow crew members were two sisters in arms and one man who was to be the commander.
He had lost his last tank and crew, and had more experience with these metal creatures.
We agreed to christen our vehicle "Revenge" as we had all lost something to the Germans.
Soon all of us were rushed to war.
I was now "friend", "comrade", and "sister".
We found ourselves on the open fields of Kursk. A storm had been brewing for a month.
We all were prepared to exact our vengeance upon the invaders.
Then the assault began with the scream of airplanes and crash of artillery.
We drove into the fray nervous but excited.
I watched through the tiny window of the drivers slit as plowed into them.
We crushed mortars and mowed down machine guns.
A rumbling alerted us to a panzer who sought to avenge his own.
I heard a loud ringing but the shot simply bounced off.
They were not so lucky and the war machine ignited into a firestorm.
During the night back at camp we cheered as we were some of the lucky ones and prepared.
We followed this routine for over a month
On our final day we were alerted by the unlucky tank in front of us combusting into white flames.
A Tiger had found us and the roar of it's cannon smashed into another nearby tank.
It's pelt deflected the shots of our cannon and our commander ordered me to drive around it.
The creature tried to drive back but it was too slow and it let out a guttural roar as it combusted.
We cheered and continued advancing onwards.
That night we cheered again as we celebrated our luck and harvest of vengeance.
I found out a few days afterwards with fresh medals on my breast that my brother perished.
His luck had run out on the final day of the battle.
We advanced westward and earned more medals and victories.
I was no longer "sister" anymore. Just "comrade" and "friend".
Our gun was blown off by a Panther, as if it knew that was the slayer of many of it's kind.
The commander and gunner were simply paste in the back of the turret.
Me and the radio operator left our metallic armour and climbed out of the hatch like ants.
She was mowed down by the machine gun on top of the beast.
Their luck had run out.
I was no longer "friend", only "comrade" now.
I was given a new crew and a new tank.
She was different than my last one. She was not fast and light like Revenge.
She was an IS2, a heavy beast that could go head on with the Tigers and Panthers
I was no longer the driver but the commander of this beast and her three crew.
I christened her Revenge both for her intended purpose and in remembrance of my first tank.
Although I was just a tiny flower the medals on my chest earned their respect.
On the battlefield my leadership earned their trust and loyalty.
I was now "commander" and "comrade".
We had finally driven the invaders out of our motherland, the Germans were retreating.
We celebrated greatly and rested for a few days and rested, and I was laden with more medals.
A few days later the great drive westward began.
I was ready to desecrate their homeland the same way they did to ours.
I was promoted to commander of my unit.
The medals on my chest earned their respect and my leadership earned their undying loyalty.
As we advanced westward we discovered the greatest atrocity yet.
What appeared to be a simple prison camp turned out to be a facility for industrialized murder.
We discovered some of our own had been interned there only through speaking to them.
They were a far cry from the defenders and people they used to be.
The guards and administrators had been burning evidence but we were too quick to arrive.
I ask the former internees who out of the depraved bunch that guarded this place was the worst.
They led me to an unassuming man, a portly guard.
I would have handed him over to his former captives to be torn apart.
However their internment made them too weak to properly serve justice.
Instead I take it upon myself to publicly beat the man with my officer's pistol.
It was cathartic in a way.
All of the other Fritzes had fought back but this one was completely helpless.
Just like my parents had been.
The inmates and my own men watch, their looks giving me silent approval.
The rest of the Fascists dug their own graves like they had forced so many to do beforehand.
Justice was served through machine gun fire.
Their luck had run out.
We advanced into Germany, into the heart of the fascist cancer.
We were all antsy and excited. We had waited four years for the ultimate payback.
Villages were crushed and POWs were executed. They had done much worse.
They had shown that they did not care for innocence or honor.
For my leadership and slaying of two King Tigers I was awarded the highest honor.
I was awarded the Hero of Soviet Union. It put all my other awards to shame and I was revered.
I was "comrade", "commander", "torturer", and now "hero".
We advanced into the ancient heart of their homeland, Berlin.
It did not deserved to be called a battle. It was simply slaughter.
We were battle hardened troops and all they threw at us were the old and children.
As we advanced to the Reichstag we found a schoolteacher and his students manning AT guns.
Most were turned into a fine mist while shrapnel took care of the rest.
Their luck ran out.
Resistance was soon crushed and the Fascists admitted defeat.
How the tables had turned in just four years.
We were given a few days with the city just to ourselves.
My unit celebrated for a night, drinks going all around and relief and joy were in the air.
I let the men in my unit have their "fun" the next day.
I went to the Reichstag which now proudly bore our banner, showing our ultimate triumph.
With the same paint used to mark my tank I scrawled "Revenge" on one of the columns.
It took its place next to the thousands of other messages written by other soldiers.
I was "revenge."
Order was quickly restored and we were part of the countless victory parades.
It was so very different from the chaos of battle as we drove down city streets in orderly lines.
Fellow Soviets as well as our American and British comrades cheered and clapped.
The westerners had fought for freedom and liberation.
We had fought for our right to exist and retribution.
As many of us prepared to head to the home we fought for so long I realized that I had nothing.
I expelled the invaders and those who took away all I had and enacted my toll on their people.
Vengeance had been claimed. I had my fill of revenge.
Who was I?