“Damn it! Damn it!” Yegor had been shouting and cursing for the last half an hour and getting any legitimate orders from the man was pretty much impossible by now. It was a pity that singing voice could curse a blue streak like the rest of them that was for sure. It probably helped that Yegor was wounded too.
Aleksandr peered around the corner of the building they were currently using as a safe place to gather themselves. He could hear the sound of German yelling along with the annoying squeal of a tank not all that far away from their current location. He muttered a curse and bunkered down again, watching Dmitriy go over Yegor’s gunshot wound to the arm.
He sighed heavily and scratched at the drying blood on the left side of his face. He could thank Mihail for that, if the man was still alive that was. The surprise attack had wiped out the other two units that were stationed in the small village and killed Mihail as they made an escape.
Their retreat orders had come a little too late, but then… he never had a lot of faith in the communications system set up. They would have gotten the orders faster with two cans tied together by a piece a string than what they normally received. They were expendable after all. They would die so those soldiers waiting in Tula could be ready to run out and die at the German squadron moving forward.
Thankfully though, it had snowed. That was slowing the Germans down, especially given the cold of their country. They were used to it; the Germans were having a hard time. It was probably the one time they all thanked the snow for falling and the harshness of the Soviet winter setting in.
Sitting on his haunches, Aleksandr thought about the two miles between where they were currently located at the outskirts of Tula. The snow would slow the Germans, but it would also slow them as well. It was doubtful that they would make it back to Tula unless the waited for the German advance and hope that they remained hidden when the enemy lines crossed them over. The only problem with that was that they would have to cut across the enemy line again just to get back on the Russian side of battle.
He glanced at Yegor, and he knew the man needed some medical treatment. Neither he nor Dmitriy knew much about the way of medicine aside from apply a bandage and pressure. They would have to make it back to Tula or miraculously stumble on a medic of the Red Army. Neither sounded all that practical.
“We have to make a run for it,” he said, looking to the other two.
Yegor grunted softly and seemed to consider what he was saying as best the big man could. Dmitriy simply stared at him for a little while before nodding. “Then we run.”
“We’ll never make it to Tula in time. The Nazi’s have tanks… the road to Tula is too long for us. I’ll never make it and will slow you two down.” That much was obvious, but he thought that they could make it, and he was stubbornly loyal enough to drag Yegor along with him if he ran. “No hidin’, eh?”
Dmitriy stood up and said simply, “I have no wish to be a prisoner of war… they do horrible things to them. The Germans care for nothing but their own. They will slit the throats of their allies.”
Aleksandr stood as well and pulled Yegor up with him, wrapping an arm around the big man to support some of Yegor’s weight. He nodded to Dmitriy with his chin to start scouting out a route that they could use to get at least to the village limits to get a better idea on if they could even make a run for it.
The walk was slow and dangerous. He could pick out the shouting of Germans behind them along with the grinding of tank treds on the snow covered ground. Dmitriy lead the way, but he constantly checked behind them, feeling the paranoia of their situation setting in quickly the longer they moved. He just tried to force himself to stare forward and keep his feet moving through the mounds of snow, and he hated that his mind reminded him that their tracks were terribly evident as they crossed from one mound of rubble to the next.
He only allowed them to take refuge long enough to check their position and to make sure that they were not being targeted by the Germans. It appeared that they were on the move early enough that the Nazis had not been able to set up a sniper sweep in the area that they were travelling, meaning that they had a chance. He had heard rumours that German snipers had no mercy, that there would be no options of being a POW if a sniper pinned a bead on them.
Aleksandr settled down in the bunker that used to be a stone wall, easing Yegor to the ground before he slipped over and checked the rather pathetic bandage. It was holding, but judging by Yegor’s shivering, the big man would not last through the night if they were forced to camp.
“You’re dying, Yegor,” he stated as he tightened the bandage. “If we don’t make it to Tula, want me to say anything for you?”
Yegor managed a weary grin at him. “Tell them… I died pissing on the German’s while singing the Tale of the Boatman. Everyone will get a kick out of that, eh?”
“If that is what you want us to say, we are leaving your body with your pants down. Freeze your dick to a stone,” Dmitriy called in crudely. They all laughed softly in a bit of morbid humour.
“Piss around me a little to make the story believeable.” Yegor was smirking.
Aleksandr knocked Yegor’s good arm. “And freeze our dicks off? I think not… you aren’t worth my piss.”
“Oh, you saving it for someone?” Yegor raised thick eyebrows at him and made a pathetic punch in his direction. He easily slipped out of the way. “I didn’t think you were old enough to be kinky, Sasha! You’re a virgin, aren’t you?”
He stiffed at the accusation and puffed out his chest visibly. “Of course not! I’m gorgeous! Every woman in my village wanted some of me.”
“Horses don’t count, Aleksandr,” Dmitriy called over. He managed a heated scowl at his friend, but Yegor’s roar of laughter eased any sense of tension. At least the man would laugh before the run and they wouldn’t be laughing during it.
They all had a small chuckle and passed around the last of their rum. Their humour was cut off by the loud shouting of German soldiers followed by the cries of a few of their countrymen. He had the urge to help, but Yegor held his arm fast and the sound of loud rattling gunfire halted them all. There would be no prisoners there.
“And then there were three,” Dmitriy said before flopping down next to them. “They will search the buildings and hold up there for a little while to make their supplies catch up to them. My bet is the tank guards and sights towards Tula… we should go around.”
Aleksandr stared down the road towards Tula and then over to Yegor. A long journey around to come at Tula from the side would put them deep into the night, a journey he was not sure that Yegor would make. A straight path could be possible suicide. He had to consider who to put at risk more.
He did not have to consider long. “We run straight. Tula will sight back and we will draw the Germans with us if they know that they haven’t got us all. They don’t want information getting back to the main units.”
“That’s suicide, Sasha,” Yegor put in. His voice was grave but still considering.
“If we run straight for Tula, we warn the city anyway. All we have to do is make it a mile and if we are gunned down there, Tula will see it against the night sky. They will know and set up defense.” He had to protect the overall unit even if he had to sacrifice himself to do it.
“You would… throw away your life, Sasha?”
“My orders are to halt the German assault at Tula, even if it means my death before I ever reach there. The fucking Nazis have to be stopped, and we three can’t take them all out. The man post in Tula has to be warned… I’ll make the run straight myself, if I have to.” He did not glance over as he lifted himself enough to stare over the wall back towards the village center.
The fading light of day illuminated the village, but there was no sign of the Germans at this point. That was not to say that they were not in the buildings looting or pulling out the last of the goods from the farm houses. Most had been toppled, but the wrecked buildings were still terribly dangerous. Germans could be everywhere and the two mile run to Tula was so very far. The white of the snow would make them obvious.
He glanced over to Yegor and Dmitriy watching him. As if a show of his resolution to make the run all by himself, he cocked his rifle and pulled his armoured helmet. This was not his first one. He still refused to clip in the chinstrap… waste of time.
Pushing himself to his feet, Aleksandr paused when both Dmitriy and Yegor stood with him. He managed a rueful smile and nodded his head. “I take point. Yegor, you watch our flanks, Dmitriy has our backs. If one man falls behind, we all fall behind.”
And then they set off for Tula.