October 11th, 1944

This war has been taking its toll on all of us. After intense fighting and high casualties we finally drove the Germans out of Britain and pushed them back into Europe. But it's not all good news. Our ally in the east the Soviet Union Germany's other pissed off neighbor have collapsed.. A mixture of political issues, low morale, and the Nazis have taken a toll on their leader. I heard the Union has surrendered to the Nazis. Me and Stephan were assigned to a small team made up of men from all over the allied territories to help. We're dropping into the Urals and meeting up with this 'Anatoli' word says he's in command of Soviet garrison holed out there. We've gotten reports that he's been gaining traction, pushing the Germans back and making a beeline for the Moscow. I wonder if the Russian cold is as harsh as it is back home. I do hope this war ends soon though. I think the constant fighting is starting to get to me.

I woke up from my nap. We were still in the air. A nine hour flight combined with turbulence aren't the best conditions to sleep in but I make do. Everyone was still snoring away as the plane shuddered. I closed my eyes and slipped back into slumber.

I awoke to the buzzing of the green light. I got up and fell in line. ( I had previously geared up before sleeping so I wouldn't have to later on.)

"Welcome to Russia boys! Home to some of the worst fighting those Krauts have faced! These red sons a bitches went down but they went down sluggin'! Don't underestimate them! Now Go, GO, GO"

He all jumped from the plane. We all locked arms so we wouldn't veer too far from each other as it was nighttime. We deployed our parachutes and safely landed a patch of snow. I quickly unpacked my coat and put it on. Manhattan was nowhere near as cold as this. We regrouped and discussed our plan.

"Bloody hell it's colder than a witch's tit." groaned Graham.

"You'll be fine." said Quinlan.

"These reds better show up real fuckin' quick BEFORE WE DIE OF FUCKING HYPOTHERMIA!' yelled Kester

"Alright according to our intel Anatoli's men are supposed to meet up with us here." said Justin a british commando (he's actually from Alberta)

Suddenly a voice spoke out of the darkness.

"You are late."

We all scanned the darkness for the source of the voice. A match was struck illuminating the face of a man. He lit a cigarette and approached us. Lights flashed on illuminating the area. Two large snow trucks stood behind him rumbling. The man could be seen clearer now. He wore and olive green uniform that was insulated for the cold weather. In one hand a PPSH-41 and the other resting on his belt. On his head he wore the standard soviet ushanka with a red star on the front. He was clean shaven with a face that looked as if it was carved from stone. An eyepatch covered his right eye where a several scars snaked out from under it.

"Anatoli?" I asked.

"Da. Come with me. "

"Pomogite nashim druz'yam v gruzoviki!" he shouted and got into one of the trucks. "We'll talk once we reach the base!"

I climbed into the truck with Anatoli while several Soviet soldiers helped the others onto the trucks. Once we were all loaded up we began driving off towards the Soviet base.

"Anatoli." I said.

"Yes?" he looked at me.

"What happened to you guys? The U.S gave you tons of supplies you should've held the Germans off."

He paused for a moment before twisting his face into a snarl.

"When the fascists drove their dagger into the heart of the motherland no one was prepared. Casualties were high. Morale was low. When our fuel and ammunition ran dry our 'Glorious Leader' failed to mobilize troops to the frontline in time. When the Germans sieged Moscow we had no choice but to die in the streets while Stalin and his lapdogs packed up and evacuated. I watched as their plane escaped the raging battle below.

(Anatolis POV)

"Get up Comrade! We have to keep fighting!" I shouted as I helped a soldier up.

"It's hopeless!" He cried the look of terror and fear in his eyes. " We'll all die!"

I picked up the man's rifle, cocked it, and handed it to him.

"Then die with honor! For the motherland!"

The man clutched his weapon and finally nodded.

"Da."

We turned around and joined the group of soldiers taking cover behind a series of destroyed buildings. Commissar stood up and blew his whistle. A soldier rose and unraveled a soviet flag before charging forward. The others followed suit climbing down the debris and towards the German line. Yelling "URA!" I ran to join them but when I finally reached them it was too late. I watched as they hopelessly pushed onward only to be slaughtered by MG fire. The German soldiers hid behind their concrete pillboxes as they cut down wave after wave of my comrades. I raised my Mosin and began firing at the pillboxes. Clip after clip hoping to take one out. Suddenly a bullet smashed through my rifles bolt sending fragments into my eye. I fell back crying in pain as the others continued charging forward. I tried looking through my eye but to avail. All I could see was a red tinted mess. A Commissar ran over to me and kicked me in the side. "Get up Svoloch'! Push forw-AUUGH." He was cut down by German MG before he could finish his sentence. His lifeless body fell backwards. I didn't bother trying to remove the bits of steel out of my eye so I tore a piece of cloth from the commissars uniform and wrapped my head with it covering my eye. I looked up and saw a plane leaving the Kremlin. Marked with a distinct red star. I watched as it flew higher and higher until the smoke and fire from the burning city hid it from sight. A German tank trundled through the ruins of the buildings as the Germans closed in. I had no choice. Stalin had no authority here. No one did. I grabbed my weapon and ran as fast as I could bullets whizzing past my head.

They left me and my men to die. By some miracle we escaped the slaughter and reunited with the a few platoons that were still standing. One of them led us to this old factory and we've taken refuge in it ever since.

His face grew into an expression of disgust.

"Our 'comrades' abandoned us to save their own skins. They were not hesitant to send us to the slaughter while they sat in their offices away from the gunfire and artillery."

We finally arrived at the base. A large gate carved to the side of a mountain opened up and we drove inside. We got off the trucks and followed Anatoli as he showed us around. He led us to the main complex. A massive open area. On one side tanks and armored vehicles were parked. On the other a massive crowd of troops going through training while Commissars barked orders. On the wall across from us a massive flag of the USSR was hung. Anatoli turned to face us as we stepped onto the catwalk overlooking the area.

" We have been hiding here for months building numbers and strength."

Below us a band began to play a marching song and Anatoli turned around, holding his hands behind his back. We all walked to the edge of the catwalk to watch as another massive troop marched into the corridor singing an incoherent but patriotic tune. As they marched Anatoli spoke.

"This is a safe haven for any remaining Red Army forces or civilians who want to fight and retake our motherland. These men and women don't fight for Communism or for Stalin."

As he spoke his voice grew louder and more full of pride.

"They fight for the people of Russia! For the innocents who suffer under the imperialist fascists. To us this flag no longer symbolizes the Communist Party and their backstabbing ways! Nyet! It symbolises the people of Russia uniting to rid the world of the rotten cancer that is fascism!"

He began to shout and raised his fist in the air. As he finished his last sentence the soldiers below let out a yell.

"URA!"

Stephan leaned over to me and whispered. "Sounds like these guys are very full of themselves."

I nodded in agreement. All the soldiers turned to face Anatoli.

"We will never submit to men like Hitler! And as long as we still live we will never surrender till our last bullet! And last breath!"

"URA!" shouted the soldiers again.

Finally he let out a massive "URA!"

Two soldiers approached Anatoli and saluted.

"Commander the bunks are ready." one said.

"Thank you Comrade." he turned to us. "Unfortunately due to the sheer size of our force and the limited space you'll have to share rooms with the our soldiers. Yefim and Vadim will show you to your rooms."

The two nodded.

"Follow me let's get you to your beds." Yefim said.

We followed the two into a long hallway. They led us to a group of rooms and opened the doors.

"Each of these rooms have a bed available. Take your pick." said Vadim.

I grabbed my luggage and went into the room and the very far left side. I walked in and surveyed the room. There were two large beds on opposite sides of the room. In the middle was a table where a man and a woman sat playing cards.

"Good thing I learned some Russian on the way here." I said under my breath.

"Uh Privet. Menya Zovut Veccio?." I said trying to sound as confident as I could.

"I do speak english." said the woman.

"Oh good. Sorry but learning Russian is hard." I placing my suitcase on a bunk.

"So was English." said the woman. Removing her blonde hair from her face. "I'm Elizavet. This is Viktor."

The man got up and faced me. He was very tall and has a neatly kempt mustache paired with a ghoulish expressionless face. He extended his arm. I cautiously shook it and he nodded and grunted before sitting back down.

"Where should I put my stuff?" I asked.

"Lockers are in back." replied Elizavet

"Yelizaveta sprosila muzhchinu, yesli on goloden." he said in a low gruff voice.

"He wants to know if you're hungry. If so there's some leftovers on the stove." Said Elizavet.

I found the small stove/furnace tucked in between the lockers. I threw my luggage in a locker and inspected the pan that sat on the stove. There were small soft white objects in it.

"What are these?" I asked.

"Pelmeni, small meat dumpling. Is very good." Elizavet said getting up and popping one in her mouth.

"My favolet food evar." she said chewing happily.

I grabbed a couple and ate one. It tasted bland except for a pinch of pepper and salt.

She returned to the table and picked up her hand of cards.

"Care to foin ush?" she asked.

I turned my head to the side.

"What?"

She swallowed her dumpling.

"Care to join us?" she said.

"Sure."

I pulled up a crate to the table and Viktor began to shuffle the cards.

"What are we playing?" I asked.

"How do you americans say it? Uhm black-jack?" said Elizavet.

"Alright then. Prepare to get flushed." I said.

"Vy na! That's the spirit."

Viktor began to deal out the cards. I looked over mine. A king of hearts and a 5 of spades.

"So they let women fight?" I asked.

"Mhm. They even let us die too. Pretty crazy."

"Fair enough." I said.

"Udar." said Elizavet tapping the table.

Viktor dealt her a card and she carefully flipped it over.

"Mudak!" she scolded at her cards.

"Hit." I said.

Viktor passed me a card and passed himself one. He cursed in Russian and crossed his arms a scowl on my face. I checked my cards and ended up with 20.

"Looks like I win. What do I get?"

Viktor reached into his sleeve and pulled out a small bottle.

"Nu vot." he grunted and passed it over to me.

"What's this?"

"Is Vodka. Viktor makes it himself."

Viktor slowly nodded "Da."

"Awesome. I love some good booze."

"Here." said Elizavet handing me a carton of smokes.

I put tucked the smokes and booze away. A Commissar stepped in and grunted "Pora spat'." and left.

Viktor got up and turned off the oil lamp lighting up the room before taking off his coat, closing the door, and climbing into one of the beds. I undressed and climbed into the other bed. I began to doze off when I felt someone climb into the bed with me.

"Uh Elizavet.?" I said.

"Da?"

"You don't mind sharing a bed with me?"

"Nyet is not weird. Space is limited we have to share beds. Sadly Viktor takes up whole bed so you can't share with him." she joked.

She pulled covers over her got comfortable.

"Don't get any ideas." she chuckled "It gets cold but you'll manage."

The next morning a Commissar opened the door and shouted "Vstavay! Zavtrak!" I got up and dressed myself when I realised Viktor and Elizavet were already waiting for me by the door.

"Come on Krolik! Is first come first serve!"'

I hurriedly threw on my coat and joined them as they rushed to the line. A soldier slid in front of Viktor causing him to place a large hand on his shoulder. The soldier turned around his eyes growing wide once he saw who the hand belonged to.

Viktor muttered one word. "Pereyekhat'."

The soldier nodded frantically and backed away.

"Da-da. Izvinite tovarishch viktor." he said.

Me and Elizavet slipped behind Viktor.

"Viktor, ty takoy zaklinatel'." Elizavet cooed.

"lyuboy dlya vas moy dorogoy." he replied.

I listened as the two conversated having little to no comprehension as to what they were saying. I reached the chef who handed me a bowl of red soup, a few pelmeni, and a chunk of bread. We motioned for me to move along so I picked up my tray and joined my two bunkmates at their table.

"What's this?" I said spooning some into my mouth.

"Is soup made of wolfs blood." Elizavet said biting off a piece of her bread.

"Wait really!?" I said dropping my spoon and spitting my soup back into the bowl.

Elizavet started laughing hysterically. And pounding her fist on the table.

"Nyet! Nyet!" she said wiping a tear away. "Is borscht, soup. Good for you."

She spooned some into her mouth. "Vely gewd!"

I cautiously began eating my soup. We conversated or more me and Elizavet conversated. Viktor just ate his soup and listened occasionally giving a grunt of agreement. Anatoli came walking in. Everyone looked up and saluted him. He waved them off and got in line for breakfast. He got his food and sat down next to me.

"Ah one of our new arrivals. I trust you're getting accustomed to it here."

I shrugged. "I'm getting used to it."

He smiled. "Good. Now I apologise for interrupting your meal but your presence is needed."

I shrugged at Elizavet and Viktor who were looking at me confused. I followed him to the war room where the rest of my team were standing around a map.

"Look who's up." said Stephan smiling.

"Good now we can get started." said Graham.

Anatoli stepped forward and pointed to the map.

"Comrades Moscow is closer to us than it's been since our union fell. My troops have reclaimed territory near the city after months of intense fighting. These'll provide vital staging areas to house reinforcements and supplies for the duration of the battle."

Quinlan stepped in.

"While the battle's raging we'll be split up into duos. Your job is to sabotage their defenses. Hopefully that'll soften them up just enough so Anatolis men can have an easier time taking the city. "

Stephan stepped in voicing his concern.

"Uh Anatoli is it? No offense man but are you sure you have enough troops to even have a chance at reclaiming the city? You did say you've already been fighting the Germans for months there's no doubt you've sustained some casualties."

Anatoli laughed.

"My friend I am not only person commanding resistance movements in Russia. I have contacted several cells near Moscow who have agreed to aid us. We all have how do you say? 'Common goal' to retake our beloved motherland from the Germans."

"Fair enough." Stephan said.

"Once we retake the city we'll assist Anatoli and the other resistance leaders in establishing a temporary form of government before they continue their campaign against the Germans. Once that is in place the Germans troops will be stretched thin trying to fight on two fronts." explained Justin. "which 'll make it easier for us to secure a Victory."

"Looks like we all understand. Get your partner in crime and get ready to move out." said Graham.

"Actually wait a minute." said Kester. "Just how in the fuck are we gonna get to Moscow? It's not like we can take your whole army on those snow trucks right?"

"We take trucks to train station nearby. Then we ride train to staging area. Is simple."

Kester shrugged. "Goodnuff for me."

I joined up with Stephan as he walked out.

"Ready to wreak some havoc old boy?" he asked lighting a cigarette.

"Oh yeah. I'm ready to go home. Too damn cold here." I said exhaling into my palms in an attempt to warm them up.

"Ah don't be such a pansy"

We left the war room and were immediately met by Elizavet leaning against a wall.

"Oh hey." I said a bit surprised. "Elizavet this is my buddy Stephan."

"Stephan this is my bunkmate Elizavet."

"Lucky man." I heard him say under his breath. "Buddy? I thought I was your best friend. That's a low blow man."

Elizavet smiled. "What did Anatoli need.?"

"Nothing just discussing some stuff with the other guys."

She looked at me with a suspicious look before turning and leaving.

Stephan looked at me with a look of envy.

"Let me stay in your room please?" he begged. "I'm bunking with Kester and the man snores like a damn tractor for god sakes! Please let me stay with you!"

"Sorry. Viktor takes up one bed by himself so me and her share the other one." I said smugly.

"Lucky bastard." he said again.

Stephan went to get grub while I returned to my barracks. Elizavet was laying on our bunk reading and Viktor was busy at the stove/furnace humming a tune. I made ELizavet scoot over as I climbed in. I pulled out a letter I had gotten from home just before we flew to Russia.

Dear Veccio,

I know you didn't leave on the best of terms when you shipped out but I hope you find this as a symbol of good intention. First off I wanna say that me and your sister are very proud of you. I would've told you that night but dad refused to let anyone see you. I know if I had the stones to stand up to dad I would ship out too. Dad has forbidden anyone to speak about you so writing this is a ticket to the beating train. In lighter news we won our big game against the state champions last week. Not to mention all the guys ask me about you all the time. Whether or not you've killed a guy. If you've sent any letters home. What kind of stuff you see over there. You know that kinda stuff. Well I gotta cut this short don't wanna keep you from doing your job. I just hope you're staying safe out there little brother. From what I hear things aren't going so well. But I'm sure you're giving those krauts a good sock in the jaw.

Be seeing you,

Giovanni.

"What are you reading?" asked ELizavet.

"A letter from my brother Giovanni." I said

"That's nice."

"So when do we move out.?" she asked.

"Excuse me?" I looked over to her.

"What you think you can go on super secret mission and not invite me?" she said accusingly and playfully but not so playfully punched me in the arm.

"First of all Elizavet. Eez not super secret if you found out." I said. "Second of all jeez that hurt cool down."

"First you don't include me in mission and now you make fun of my accent?." she said dramatically. "I guess Viktor is going to have new bunkmate. Also, cool down? We are in middle of autumn inside of mountain cooling down means you die of frostbite."

She looked at me smugly. "I expect you'll find Viktors company to be very warming."

"Fine." I gave in. "You can come. BUT only YOU. VIktor needs to stay."

"Glad you finally came to senses." she said. "Also Viktor not like sneaking around. He prefer to be on frontlines."

"Don't think you're outta the woods yet." I cut in. "We still need to do the mission

"Woods? Is military base are no woods here."

"It's a figure of speech Elizavet. I need to start teaching you some english." I sighed.