Hammer & Sickle

By Scott Parrino 21 Nov 2005 0

Hammer & Sickle - Rook

The border of East and West Germany loomed not two hundred yards away through a thick forest. One of the many checkpoints between our two realms sits square in the middle of this sector; green-camouflaged United States stormtroopers sit decadently behind their wire trying to intimidate our good Communist soldiers on the other side. It seemed so tense that if one side flinched, the other would open fire. One heard stories of this occasionally, but rumor-mongering is treason. Such stories had to be overheard, as I was not trusted being a newcomer. Several guards eyed me like I was an undercover KGB agent, a mixture of wariness and fear. Let them wonder, I thought. I strode purposefully to the commander's small hut, guarded by a single trooper. An incessant rain had just begun, pouring sheets of water, as if the heavens were still trying to wash away the terrible destruction of a few short years ago.

There was little use for frivolity here in this front room. The Lieutenant Colonel in charge here had his desk right there, and he immediately stood as I reported in. He asked me if I was familiar with the parameters of my mission.

"Yes, Comrade Lieutenant Colonel," I answered, trying not to shiver as the cold German rain trickled down my neck and my upper back. "My task is to come into contact with Waclaw's group, to make sure Waclaw has not crossed over to the enemy, and to deliver our proposal to him."

The Lieutenant Colonel relaxed his facial features a bit, his bushy black mustache quivering slightly. 

"Uncle Misha?" I started.

"No, look, Comrade Captain?nephew?yes, you know the basics about Waclaw. His group was a very important part of our spy network in the West, at least in this sector. However, he and his group were?working on other things. We must be very careful. Have you heard of their A-bomb?"

"Yes, of course," I replied. "They tested a pair on the Japanese a few years ago."

Uncle Misha allowed himself a wry smile. "Yes, they did. Successfully, too. And the West, they haven't had enough of war." His features darkened. "There are many in Moscow and here, even, that suspect they'd use it on us with little or no provocation. Even though we greatly outnumber their armies, a few of those bombs would?even things."

I sat there, saying nothing. My uniform was soaked and uncomfortable but I refused to tug at my collar or shift myself. Despite this, a member of my family sitting here in front of me, I was still a Red Army officer. Uncle Misha looked at me, seeming to know what I was thinking.

His features softened a bit. "Look, Comrade Captain?Rook?" He almost said my real name, but instead used my code name. I nodded sharply in satisfaction. "Rook?if they catch you, we'll act as if you never existed. Nothing will be done to help you. We'll declare you were a defector or a renegade. Do you understand?"

It took a moment for that to sink in. Examining Uncle Misha's eyes, the coldness in them made me realize that he would disown me, as would the entire family, if such a thing were to happen. Stalin and his police also had a way of punishing those close to men who fail in their missions. I wiped the thought from my mind with visible effort.

"Yes, Comrade Lieutenant Colonel. I understand."

"Look, we've both been in since 1941. And we lived through some of the most hellish combat the planet has ever seen. You will do well."

"Why me?" I asked, feeling bold. Uncle Misha looked surprised, but only for a moment. "My skills are not on par with this kind of penetration mission. You have far more skill than I at this, Uncle."

"To tell the truth, I would go, but you are the only one who knows Waclaw by sight. And, well, to be perfectly honest, there's penetration experts that could take this on, but?" His voice drifted off as he shrugged his shoulders. The message was clear: 'They're not expendable, and you are.'

Such is service to Mother Russia. I knew that when I decided to stay in back in 1945 when they asked me to. 

"Krakow," he said simply. I had done a lot of anti-German work behind the lines there with the local partisans. It wasn't 'blending' work ? instead we sought out and destroyed as much German war material as we could find. "There is an opinion at higher headquarters that you will have to blast things as often as spy. Your demolition skills are exemplary."

"Plus I am expendable."

"Yes, Comrade Captain."

What choice did I have?

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