An extremely powerful nation, especially one capable of influencing international events and the acts and policies of less powerful nations.
Power greater in scope or magnitude than that which is considered natural or has previously existed.
Superpower. That was the most accurate way to describe the CCCP, called the USSR by its NATO rivals. The Soviet Union was a vast union of nations formed from the flames of violent revolution, tempered by war, and bound together at its heart in Moscow by military strength and communist ideology. Stretching from the North Sea to the straits of Kamchatka, and down to the Euphrates from the arctic circle, it was the largest empire the world had ever seen.
Its military was the largest on Earth, capable of waging simultaneous warfare on four continents and win them all. Its soldiers were well trained, well equipped, and followed the doctrine of superior firepower nearly religiously. Tanks, planes, bombs, guns, and ships were produced in vast quantities, outstripping their rivals many times over by the sheer volume of weaponry at their disposal. It was rugged, durable, reliable, and easy to use.
Following the end of the Great Patriotic war in 1945, the USSR was in a unique position. It controlled nearly half of Europe, its rivals economies save for the United States were far too ravaged to effectively challenge them. They also now had unrestricted access to the worlds great oceans and seas. The had uninterrupted access to the Mediterranean from the newly integrated Turkey after defeating them when they joined the Axis in the second world war. Their naval Bases in Norway was their greatest trump card from the Great Patriotic war. Having liberated both Norway and Sweden from the Nazis, both states joined and were successfully integrated into the new Union. Yet the Union was tired and nearly spent from the war and needed policies put in place to help them recover. Under Stalin it instituted several policies meant to not only help them recover from the losses in the Great Patriotic War, but to make them stronger than ever before.
It became law for a family to have at least six children unless medically unable to do so, with rewards and lavish government grants to those who exceeded that number. There was some light resistance to this new law, but with large families the norm in the more rural regions and the knowledge that the Soviet regime could not be challenged, the law was complied with. Mostly that is. In regions such as the newly integrated Turkish SSR, there was still periodic resistance.
After the Great Patriotic War the Soviet Union had a population hovering somewhere around 400 million souls. Twenty two years after the war in 1967 the population had exploded to nearly 670 million, with estimates that the population would continue to climb at a birthrate near 16.5 and holding steady. Estimates were that by the new millennium the Soviet Union would possess a billion souls within its borders. The greatest population increase ironically being in the new GDR and the Ukraine, followed closely by Poland and Russia itself. The most popular theory as to why the Eastern European countries experienced the greatest population boom was due in large part to the economic need of the grants. They were the countries that were most damaged by the war and promises of generous government funds had spurred a baby boom like no other in history. It was not uncommon for families to have twelve children.
The one area that the Soviet Union lagged behind NATO in, especially America was computer technology. American warplanes despite the amount of money that the Soviet Union put into research and development could engage Soviet at greater ranges consistently. The same was true for armoured and infantry warfare. American targeting systems, night vision goggles, ECM, ICBMs, and body armor were both more numerous and of higher quality than their Soviet counterparts. The Soviets found that their hardware was equal to, if not superior to their NATO rivals, but they simply did not have a technological edge. In fact, one could say that they were lacking in that regard in comparison.
The newest Soviet air superiority fighter, the MIG 23, while an even match for the American F4 Phantom, would find itself at a distinct disadvantage against the likes of the new American F15 and F16 fighter craft. Talk was of a new American missile capable of engaging fighter craft at farther distances and more accurately than all previous models, though it was still in testing. This would give American pilots an already greater advantage in air warfare than they already had.
That was in part why the Soviet military had expanded the way it had. It was a steamroller, with well trained and well equipped troops that would be given a single order in the event of a war. Go forwards. Estimates were that even with all NATO defenses against them it would take only two weeks to reach the English Channel. Barring the use of nuclear weapons of course. The Soviet military was an unstoppable juggernaut that simply could not be stopped.
"So. Has the west and NATO learned of this...incident?" asked Dmitri Konev. Dmitri Konev was an average sized man in an above average sized office, with a high backed brown leather chair, a large hardwood desk, and a picture of the battle of Stalingrad behind his desk hanging above him. He bore a similar namesake, but no relation to Ivan Konev, one of the great Soviet generals of the great patriotic war. The south side of his office was taken up entirely by large windows that overlooked Red Square. He was also the Marshall of the Soviet Union and as such the highest military ranked official in the entirety of the Union.
He was a quiet military man, with service running back in his family to the time of the Czars and he was the fifth consecutive generation of his family to wear the uniform, three of his sons being in the sixth. He was a career man who had spent his career preparing for massive battles against the forces of NATO that would once again leave Europe and the rest of the world awash in blood and tears.
He had prepared for nearly any eventuality from a joint Japanese-American invasion of Sverdlovsk, to a surprise attack from Peoples Republic of China. Even a massed invasion from a coalition of African nations spearheaded by Turkey with heavy NATO support in terms of weapons and funding. What he had not been prepared for, was this.
"Most definitely giving the time frame that this happened nearly a month ago now. I would say yes. Something like this can not simply be swept under the rug, and no doubt their spies and simple word of mouth has carried the news to our counterparts in NATO, if not further."
"A redundant question I do admit. One can not cover up a battle in the city of Kiev and expect there to be no one who questions why T-55 and T-62 tanks were rolling down Ukrainian streets. Perhaps we could have written it off as a training exercise, but we can't make a justifiable excuse as to why SU 17 attack craft were dropping cluster and iron bombs in the city center."
Konev ran his hand through his thinning hair and appeared like a man engaging in a deep and unpleasant train of thought that one must nevertheless conduct.
"What of the invaders? How many prisoners did we capture?"
"Approximately 8000 combatants alive initially, 7000 of which are expected to survive and recover from their injuries. There was also a following of civilians following the army through the gate. Most fled when the army was routed, however 1000 were captured and are in internment as we speak. It appears that they were a mix from wives, cobblers, bakers, and whores. As well as...9 dragons, 32 orcs, and what can only be described as a pig man," said the intelligence officer like he was forcing himself to say it, knowing himself how ridiculous it sounded. "The latter have been taken by the 15th directorate of the red army for testing."
Konev nodded in understanding and even a little sympathy. The 15th was responsible for all biological weapons programs within the Soviet Union. They were probably going to test them for any new pathogens that any of the...prisoners or corpses could be holding. Possibly test some of their new weapons to see how they reacted to a foreign biology.
"I understand that they followed a feudal structure to their command, matching their weapons and tactics?" asked Konev, glancing over reports and photos from the incident on his desk
"A mixture Comrade Marshal. Some of the soldiers were professional soldiery and seemed to be organized in a similar fashion to that of ancient Rome. Even mimicking the manipular style of combat with small variations. Recovered equipment revealed square shields, short swords, javelins, as well as plate and mail armor. Others appeared to be the personal soldiers or mercenaries of lords, and armed similarly with bows, pikes, axes, swords, and various other medieval weaponry. From our reports however, there were no militia levies present in the fighting."
"Has the final death toll of our people come in yet?" asked Konev quietly.
"Yes Comrade Marshall. 704 civilians died in the attack along with 53 police officers and 21 soldiers. It breaks down to 294 men, 352 women, and 58 children among the civilians. Another 1034 civillians received various injuries from moderate to severe. 382 amputations had to be performed as a result of traumatic injury to the limb."
"And the final reports of their casualties?"
"12 000 estimated dead Comrade Marshal, we're still counting the bodies, but 12 000 is a conservative number. There aren't enough...whole bodies to positively identify them all."
Konev nodded again. He had heard the reports, the army had advanced slowly, with their dragon riders and inhuman mercenaries riding ahead of their main force. They had killed many unsuspecting people in the initial attack, but weapons fire from police units had stalled the much larger force as they had seemed baffled by the weapons being used against them. It had been enough time for the emergency reaction forces from the nearby military bases to arrive. ZSU-23 Shilkas had made short work of the dragons and the motor rifle regiments neutralized the ground forces with help from the armor regiments. Though neutralized was too soft of a word, systematically butchered described what had happened better.
"And our advance force has already secured a position on the other side to prevent future attacks?"
"Yes Comrade Marshal. Approximately 10 000 combat troops with their supporting staffs and reinforced artillery brigades have set up defensive positions on the other side. They've encountered several attacks by indigenous forces, with reports saying that an army of an estimated 150 000 is approaching them."
"I see. Do they require reinforcements?"
"No Comrade Marshal, just requests for more munitions."
"Send more men anyways, I would like to potentially see our presence brought up to army strength on the other side of the Gate."
"Comrade? What do we need that kind of force there for? NATO will more than likely pick up the troop movements and possibly think we're mobilizing our military against them. Is that such a good idea?" asked the intelligence officer questioningly. Instead of answering, the field marshal took out what appeared to be a core sample in a bland metal container and put it on his desk. He unscrewed the top and poured it out onto his desk. Black dirt cascaded from the container.
"Do you know what this is?"
"Dirt Comrade Marshal."
"Exactly, but more than that, this is some of the most fertile dirt we have ever tested. It makes the break basket of Europe look like the Sahara desert. The amount of phosphates, nutrients, and composition of the soil means that it will grow anything that we throw into it. We're expecting an overpopulation crisis in the next forty years. The USSR is large, but even so, our population is growing exponentially and it is a population that we need to feed, house, educate, and provide for. While we have the room to support such a population, it will put a severe strain on the water tables and when we have a drought we will need to heavily rely on trade to import food into the Union. This isn't the case yet, but when our population crests a billion people and continues to rise we will start to see the effect more alarmingly, especially with the modernization of our infrastructure in the more remote regions."
"I'm going to be frank with you Fedor. There is talk within the proletariat of turning this tragedy into a new mass colonization event. This is a windfall like no other with the potential to raise the standard of living of many of our citizens. The ability to give land to families who have depressingly very little. Some of the more optimistic estimates are talking of putting over a hundred thousand to a million people through the Gate a year to settle on the other side."
"Comrade Marshal, I don't know how NATO or America will take this. At the very least they will demand to be allowed access to the Gate and equal opportunity to explore the other side."
"All requests of which will be denied. This is the largest trump card ever handed to the Union, greater even than our naval bases in the North Sea or Mediterranean. This is potentially an entire planet and its resources to develop and exploit. Believe me when I say that this Gate will be the most fiercely defended site in the Soviet Union. The new air defense grid around Kiev will be twice as strong as the one around Moscow and a hundred and twenty of our newest MIG 23 fighters are going to be stationed in the area. I do not exaggerate when I say that the Union is prepared to go to war over it."
"Comrade Marshall not to question you, but even for all the land, if the motherland is hit with nuclear weapons it won't matter if we need grain or not. And we have half a world worth of resources to use besides."
Field Marshall Konev stood up and walked over to the windows and pulled the curtains shut. After which he flipped a switch under his desk, allowing an almost imperceptible buzzing sound to fill the room. After which he pulled out a silvery metallic rock out of his wall safe and set it on his desk.
"Fedor, I'm only telling you this because you're my son and as such I trust you above all others. What I say can not leave this room."
Fedor Konev involuntarily swallowed and felt a flicker of anxiety. For his father to talk so openly of future plans in his own office, what would be considered top secret without worry, but activate all countermeasures at his disposal to avoid being overheard for this was of an entirely different gravity.
"I understand Comrade Marshal."
"We call this substance R-331. It is a metal we have found in abundance on the other side of the gate and in vast quantities. It also has a unique property to it. It's strong, it's light, and we're reasonably sure we can make it into a paint. It disperses heat quickly, lighter than aluminum, and strong once forged properly. The only drawback is the difficulty of working it into what we want. It is what is being called a magic metal. It's a whole new element of the periodic table. But it's most unique feature, is that it can not be locked onto by radar, barely even detectable by it. Even a piece of this size when put into the cockpit of a MIG 21 made all of our radar SA missile systems unable to secure a positive lock."
That was the bombshell. The reason for so much Soviet interest on the other side of the gate besides the superficial reasons of more territory and things like grain and water. The biggest advantage that America and NATO had over Russia was their long range radar weapons and countermeasures. If the Union could get a hold of large quantities of this metal, the air power would be equal plane for plane between the two countries and the Union had many more planes than NATO. Their warships would be invulnerable to long range cruise missiles, their subs, undetectable, and nearly every major advantage NATO had would be moot. Kapitan Fedor Konev stood there, mouth agape for a moment as the gravity of what he had just heard sunk in.
"That is why we will not share the gate, why we will defend it so jealously. This is our secret weapon. With this, we can wage war against NATO. We can win."
Fedor had heard many such claims in the past, but coming from his father, a staunch believer in the MAD doctrine and the futility of a conflict between the two great superpowers, he believed it.
Senior Sergeant Feliks Volkov was currently sitting up in his foxhole, watching over the top lip at the burning horizon ahead, covering his ears. BM-24s and BM-21grads were flinging dozens, hundreds of rockets into the distance like shooting stars, lighting up the night sky while the heavy tube artillery pieces thundered their rounds into the distance. The so called medium 152mm and 130 mm guns raining death down of their enemies in the distance. The mortars and BM14s were silent for the moment, waiting for the enemy to get closer. The T-55s and T-62s waiting like steel behemoths, dug deep into the earth, waiting for their chance to join the fight. Their cannons pointed like inquisitive snouts towards the horizon, sniffing for a trace of their prey. Poking out as if trying to catch a whiff of their quarry.
Feliks checked the condition of his AKM for the hundredth time, opening his mouth to help equalize the pressure of the thudding artillery as he did so, even two hundred meters away from the guns they were hellishly loud. Once he had finished checking the load of his rifle again, he readied it again with a satisfying click clack. He seriously doubted that they would get close enough that he would have to actually use it. So instead, he hunkered down in his foxhole again and covered his ears, seeing many of the men in his section doing the same. So far, no one had had to really fight save for the artillery crews and some motor rifle troops who had the unglamorous duty to clear the battlefield of the dead. They mostly used tanks or engineering vehicles with dozer blades to push the remains into large piles and then burn them. Feliks had the feeling that this would be much the same. Just then the BM14s began firing, streaking away like fiery red comets into the night sky which meant that their foes were within ten kilometers. He wouldn't become overly worried until the mortars and tanks started firing though.
The rockets that they would be shooting into the distance would be a mix of frag, high explosive, cluster, and thermobaric warheads. Platforms such as the BM series were more of a saturation weapon, dealing heavy damage over a wide area. Not as accurate as other types of artillery strikes, but ruthlessly brutal against the closed formations and medieval tactics that their opponents were using against them. Feliks knew that they were of division strength on the hill, but they were equipped with artillery enough for nearly three with dozens of batteries of artillery reshaping the earth around them with thunder and fire.
He watched the artillery crews, sweating and grunting, laboring, stripped to the waist as they kept up an astounding rate of fire, loading and reloading their artillery pieces with rockets and shells to keep up the barrage. The hill stank of powder charges and burnt rocket fuel. As soon as they had finished loading their weapons they would begin firing again, with the thudding of guns and roar of rockets, the sound was a physical force that vibrated in his chest, threatening to shake him to pieces. Where they landed though was much worse, but from where Feliks was, the distant explosions were a muffled crump.
The barrage was turning the once flat plains into a cratered, burning wasteland with explosions of fire and steel lighting up the horizon with constant detonations. How such a force could continue advancing through that, Feliks could never know.
There was a vindictive satisfaction at watching these people get destroyed before even being able to see who or what they were fighting. They had declared war on the CCCP, the Soviet Union and the Motherland herself. Stole into one of her cities like murderers and killed men, women, and children without discrimination, without mercy. It had not been warfare, not combat, just plain and simple murder. Unjustifiable, unconscionable, and unforgivable. They were under standing orders that unless the individual seemed of significant importance they were not to be taken prisoner, not to be treated except by quick application of Kalashnikov. Their presence here was about more than defense. It was about vengeance. To show these barbarians that you did not slap the bear and not expect it to rise and crush you beneath its unfathomable might.
Fourteen hours later, Feliks and his men were relieved and the guns had fallen silent. The latest attempt to push them from the hilltop by the indigenous armies had failed and Feliks and his men were finally being allowed to get some much needed rest.
"Comrade Senior Sergeant, think I'll ever actually get to use this?"
Feliks recognized the voice immediately and saw its owner, the big and burly junior sergeant Boris lugging around his trusty RPD, weapon still gleaming, seemingly much to the dissatisfaction of its owner. Boris was older than Feliks by at least a two decades and had seen combat in Turkey during the secessionist war of 62 and before that the Swedish rebellion in 59. Before even that he had been involved in multiple border skirmishes between The Union and China. He was a big bear of a man, hailing from Leningrad where he had originally been a sailor in the Baltic. Having gotten into some sort of trouble the man had been offered two choices. Join the Army, or go to prison. Figuring the prison that let him out once and a while that also paid him preferable to the other, Boris had joined the army. Turned out he had a knack for it and never left. He had been promoted and demoted numerous times, but it never seemed to faze the man.
"Probably on the range," said Feliks with a short chortle.
"Damned artillery gets all the fun. I'm telling you Feliks, once you get a taste for combat you'll get addicted to it. Maybe put that spetsgruppa training to use. Tell me again, why did you leave?"
Feliks groaned loudly, as much for exaggeration as the big mans amusement and made a show of rolling his eyes and sighing loudly.
"Because I failed the fitness test the year after I got my qualification," said Feliks. At one time he had been extremely bitter about it, now he found it hilarious in a way, but not so much as Boris.
"Too much good cooking huh? Little too much vodka maybe? Or maybe it was you spending all of your time playing chess eh?"
"A little of all that I suppose. That and I didn't do the training I should have before hand."
"Bah, excuses," said Boris waving his massive paw of a hand for emphasis. "Still, at least you can shoot because if you had to run you'd make it about ten steps before you keeled over eh?"
"More like nine," said Feliks, eliciting a guffaw from Boris. "I'll just use the moves that they taught me in training. Systema's a pretty good fighting system," continued Feliks.
"I'll stick to what I know, don't need nothing fancy," said Boris.
Boris grinned at that, revealing a row of steel capped teeth and rapped a fist against his bullet shaped head. The helmet giving off a thud each time his scarred knuckles rapped against it. The tight fitting, almost too small helmet just added to the impression that his head was really a large steel capped bullet.
"You're quite mouthy for a young pup, you know that?"
"Well I learned from my elders quite well."
"Ha! My youngest is as old as you and he made all the same jokes until I taught him a little respect. If only I could teach you to hold your liquor maybe I'd have respect for you. I swear my grandmother could drink you under the table."
"Oh probably," agreed Feliks. "Anyways I think it's time for me to get some sleep," said Feliks yawning expansively.
"Same reveille time as yesterday?"
"Probably, the lieutenant will most likely get us up earlier for inspection before that. Make sure that the other guys know to keep their boots polished and buttons shone."
"Goddamned idiot if you ask me, having us get dressed up in parade uniform out here."
"Maybe, but orders are orders. Just don't say that to his face, I don't want to start calling you private any time soon."
"Ha! I'm a junior sergeant for life Comrade. Never get demoted below it, and never go above it for too long. Don't know why they keep promoting me honestly."
"Probably so they can demote you again."
"I wouldn't doubt it. Anyways I should head and get a quick wash before I have to wait."
"They don't have the showers set up yet do they?"
"A bar of soap and pail of water will be good enough," said Boris dismissively. That was one thing about the veteran, he liked to be clean and every opportunity he got, he would use it to have a wash. Feliks had asked him about it once and Boris had said that after the grime and slime of the Baltic, Boris hated being dirty any longer than absolutely necessary. Though the old veteran was usually right, a quick hot wash could do wonders for your mood.
"You should wash too. Don't want to get crotch rot, that is hell."
"I suppose I should," said Feliks, now wanting to have a quick wash and change into fresh fatigues.
A short while later Feliks was shaving the stubble off of his face with a straight razor and using a small compact mirror to guide his work. Boris was doing something similar, but shaving his head as well.
"Think we'll get those new MI-24 helicopters in here?" asked Boris, his large scarred hands rock steady as he cleared stubble from his head with even strokes at the edge of his combat knife. His large scarred hands rock steady. Boris kept his blade razor keen and his skill with a knife made Feliks believe that he had been more than a simple fisherman before he had joined the army to escape a single misdeed.
"Don't know, you think that they'll be any good?"
"I'm pretty hopeful. I've heard that they're bullet proof and even a DHsK can't punch through them. A pilot, gunner, crew chief, and room for eight full grown men in the back and it can be used to carry litters. If I knew what I know now twenty years ago I would have joined the air force. Helicopters are just so damned neat."
"A helicopter than can take a .50 cal? Come on Boris that's absurd," said Feliks dismissively. "The thing wouldn't fly if you put that kind of armor on it."
"Ah, say whatever you want. I would've said the same thing about putting a man on the moon when I was your age, but look what America did. Man that's something. Anyways back to you my suckling babe of a friend. When are you finally going to get a girl?"
"I don't know. Six mini Feliks' running around isn't too enticing right now."
"Look on the bright side, they might take after their mother and not be hideous as a result. But if they take after you, well," said Boris with a shrug of his shoulders as if resigning the fate of the children to something dire. "And besides, you don't have to marry the girl right away. I mean you were spetsgruppa for gods sake. A man made out of steel and the manliest of men, and yet you've never been with a girl."
"So what?" said Feliks, feeling his anger begin to rise just a little, a combination of his lack of sleep and the topic of the subject.
"So I'm gonna start thinking there's something wrong with you if you make it to twenty three and you've never been with a girl. It's easy. Next time we get leave I'll take you to a bar in Kiev and I promise I'll get you a girl, all you have to do is be your charming self."
"I don't want a prostitute," said Feliks.
"It won't be a prostitute, I promise it'll just be a nice girl. Well, not a prostitute at least," said Boris contemplatively. Feliks threw a handful of foam at Boris. The big man merely took the foam off with an unhurried swipe of his hand and flicked it to the ground.
"Fine. Well on the bright side you'll live forever," said Boris.
"Because virgins never die, it's a movie fact."
"Oh shut up," grumbled Felix. The men finished their grooming in silence and Felix found his way back to his tent, but stopped short, suddenly alert, muscles tense and hands ready to bring his AKM around. He didn't know why he stopped, but it was as if his body was reacting automatically to some unseen danger. He looked around carefully.
It was nearly midday and the sun was high in the sky and all Feliks saw was exhausted soldiers trudging this way and that in loose marching order, while Ural trucks filled to the roof with munitions trundled by the long row of military tents. The mountain stretched up high behind them and the gate, with a white capped peak on the solitary giant of stone. Involuntarily Feliks had flipped off the safety for his AKM and found his muscles nearly quivering, ready to bring it up in an instant.
Seeing nothing though, Feliks flipped the safety back on and slung his rifle. He wasn't usually jumpy, so why was reacting like this now? After the battle had been fought, he should be tired, which he was and ready for sleep, but he was on edge like he was on sentry duty in a hot zone. Feliks ran a hand through his short cut auburn hair that most people mistook for being brown in the dark and sighed. Maybe the constant shelling had worn away his nerves so they were like frayed, exposed wires? He just needed some sleep.
Wearily, Feliks went to his tent and fell onto his cot, falling asleep quickly, but with his rifle clasped firmly upon his chest.
The inside of the BTR60 was cramped, especially when you shared it with men as large as Boris. The ride was somewhat bumpy as the all terrain APC went over rocks and felled trees. It seemed that after the previous weeks assault the local forces had decided that it wasn't worth the effort to take the hill, or had more likely been unable to continue the assault. They had used the shell craters as mass grave pits and used engineering vehicles to push the bodies of the men, animals, and other creatures into them. They then poured petrol on the bodies and burned them to prevent disease and even now, greasy black smoke was rising into the sky like filthy, grasping fingers making Feliks glad that he had been picked for recon duty instead of cleanup duty. There was talk of high command sending more forces through to reinforce them which Feliks thought to be unnecessary. Nothing sent at them had even threatened to dislodge them.
Regardless though, the Gate as it was simply called, never ceased operation. It was wide enough for eight T-62 main battle tanks to drive through abreast with at least a meter separating them and day and night trucks poured through bringing munitions, food, water, equipment, and more forces. All of it current or slightly older model equipment available to the Soviet Union. The newest weapons such as the T-64 main battle tanks was kept on ready status in Europe and the withdrawal of such weapons would have drawn suspicion and raised tensions between the Union and NATO.
The passage of so many vehicles at the top of the hill churned the earth into a soupy, rutted mess that was repaired and leveled constantly by the engineers, only for it to be torn apart again in an endless cycle of churning tires and treads.
As it stood now, Feliks was in just one of many patrols being sent out into the surrounding area. Mi 2 helicopters were conducting recon flights, but they could not see through the dense forests surrounding the mountain and command wanted an accurate picture of what was around them as well as the artillery wanted better grid maps so they could more accurately plot their shots.
Two BDRM2s, three BTR60s and a trio of UAZ jeeps made up the patrol force, with the BTR60 in the middle of the column housing the lieutenant and acting as their command vehicle. The jeeps were full of cartographers and engineers tasked with helping to map the terrain. The helicopters took enough pictures to make accurate topography maps, but command wanted more detailed maps and local area knowledge which led to dozens of patrols like theirs scouting and mapping the terrain around them.
The smells of crushed wood, sap, and clean air filtered in through the firing slits of the BTR. It was pleasant smelling, natural and untouched, but the smell itself was tainted by the smell of diesel and gun oil within the cramped confines of the BTR.
The big bear of a man Boris in particular had to hunch to fit comfortably within the BTR. He was well over six feet tall and a mountain of muscle. He was also the man sitting next to Feliks and was pushing him into the rear of the APC.
They had been driving for a few hours now and were at least a dozen miles away from the main base camp by the Gate. The engineers and cartographers and whatever other specialists in the jeeps would take soil samples, plant samples, and generally do their field work, discussing what they found like boardroom scholars, while Feliks and Boris along with the rest of their comrades had to stand around and watch for anything that could possible threaten them, which amounted to very little.
On this particular day however, the lieutenant had gotten the idea into his head that he wanted to send a third of their force on a deeper patrol while the engineers did their work when they had finally found a promising spot. This section selected to go out ended up being Feliks' which was why he was now trudging through a forest he knew nothing of with no map of, and just a compass so he could find his way back to their patrol. Feliks was really starting to dislike the lieutenant.
"Find anything interesting yet?" asked Boris conversationally as they pushed through the undergrowth.
"Indeed Comrade Junior Sergeant. Stones wishing liberation from the oppressive bourgeoisie soil and wishing for a home in your noble rucksack."
"Ha, well they can stay in the ground, they're needed there."
"But Comrade!" exclaimed Feliks feigning shock and disbelief. "You would refuse to help the hard working, oppressed, and downtrodden rocks? Have you no shame Comrade Junior Sergeant? Do you not know that the only war is the class war?" Boris guffawed heartily at that, a deep booming laugh that if it could have, would have torn the trees from their roots.
"I can guarantee you that there are more types of war than the class war Comrade Senior Sergeant," said Boris in between laughs, wiping at his eyes. "What about the hardworking trees? Can you not see that they need your help as well comrade?"
"Imperialist scum and deciduous traitors to the motherland."
"You've got an answer for everything don't you kid?"
"If I don't I make it up pretty quick," said Feliks.
"Sergeant, I found a blood trail."
Feliks perked up immediately at that and quit smiling. It was Corporal Abram Davydov who had said it, the squad marksman. He was the newest and youngest member of the squad, still a kid at 17 years, but a crack shot nonetheless. A short man from the Ukraine that hailed from some rural hamlet near Odessa. The kid was new and young, but he had eagle eyes.
"We'll follow it, but let the lieutenant know that we're doing it," Feliks told the radio operator who obediently called the lieutenant who approved it.
Like a bloodhound, Abram followed the trail relentlessly, with the rest of the section following close on his heels, spread out in a combat patrol pattern. Wary of attack or ambush. They followed the trail for maybe a kilometer. It was faint but definitely visible to the sharp eyed marksman.
Light filtered in through the leaves overhead, giving patches of lights and casting shadows from the large and tall trees. Easily fifty feet for the smallest, the trees would take three grown men holding hands to loop around the smallest of them. This was an old forest and the gnarled roots snaked across, under, and over the ground at their feet making the going slow. The canopy above them made the forest quite dark in places and the thick brush sometimes made it necessary to walk single file. If one wasn't careful they could easily trip. It was unnerving walking through the dense foliage. They had poor visibility and dozens of hostiles could be hiding behind every tree.
After they had climbed a small hill, Davydov signaled for the section to halt and Feliks came up level with the marksman quickly.
"The one that's been making the trail is sitting behind that tree up ahead, I saw a hand for a second," whispered Davydov.
"Alright. Boris, stay here and set up, Davydov you Vitsin and Grekov will do the same. Belikov, guard the rear. Zonov and Averin, you're with me. Zonov you'll go around the opposite side of the tree that I do while Averin, you'll watch our backs just in case."
There was a chorus of yes sergeant and Feliks' section deployed quickly and efficiently. Feliks advanced with a low combat crouch, walking like a SWAT officer clearing a building, rifle up and searching for something to shoot at. With a quick hand signal to Zonov, Feliks went around the side of the large oak tree quickly, and was quite frankly surprised by what he saw.
It was a woman with long blonde hair in a dress, with long pointed ears and a slender face. There was also an arrow sticking out of her stomach. She was breathing, but shallowly and her dress was soaked in blood. Her complexion that wasn't hidden by a golden shroud of hair was waxy and white, looking deathly like a corpse breathing its last. Despite that her features were eerily perfect, doll like even in their symmetry and lack of flaws.
"Medic, get up here!" called Feliks authoritatively. Vitsin, the squads medic came running up and stood stunned for a half second looking at the elf woman with the arrow in her stomach before setting to work.
"Honestly Comrade Volkov I don't know what to do. She's lost a lot of blood, but I don't know how much and she's breathing and she's got a heartbeat, but I don't know what's healthy for her and what's not. The physiology is just...different. What I can tell you is that she is still alive, in shock, and needs surgery. Something she can only get back at base camp."
"Alright. Would waking her up help at all with smelling salts?"
"Maybe. It's mostly used for verbal cues to see how the patient replies to stimuli. Pain works too, but I have no idea where to pinch and if it would cause the same amount of pain stimuli."
"Well, one way to find out," said Feliks. He grabbed one of the elf woman's ears between his thumb and forefinger, then pinched and bent it towards him. The effect was immediate. The woman's eyes shot open revealing bright purple eyes, followed quickly by a loud yelp and a fist into his face, knocking him off of his haunches and onto his back.
The woman was currently tied to a stretcher on the roof of the BTR and taking the bumpy trail back towards Base camp. Vitsin had patched her up as best he could, stopping the bleeding but leaving the arrow in. He said that removing it could cause severe damage and possibly end up killing her. She had initially fought them when the had woken her up, been terrified of them even. They had bound her to a stretcher as much to stop her from agitating her wounds as to stop her from trying to hit them. Boris had nearly died from laughing when he learned that Feliks had been knocked onto his back and that his new shiner was a result of the petite blonde woman. They couldn't give her painkillers for fear of how it would react with her physiology, but they had given her antibiotics to prevent infection.
Now the woman got gone from speaking in a rapid fire lyrically soft language to glancing apprehensively at Feliks and whimpering in pain intermittently. It was odd looking at the woman. She was something from myth and legend, a Faye creature and yet now he was looking at her with his own eyes. She was the first living inhabitant of this world that Feliks had seen with his own eyes, though it was almost surreal seeing the arrow sticking out of her and her conscious and looking around. And her eyes, Feliks had never thought that he'd ever see purple eyes and he couldn't help but stare, but stopped when he saw that it was making the woman nervous.
"So I guess that it's not that you don't want a woman, you've just got more exotic tastes," said Boris, his RPD resting across his knees as he picked at his metal teeth.
"Why is it if I look at a woman, you assume I like her?" asked Feliks.
"Well when you look at a girl like that you like her my friend. If I had known all you needed to do to find a girl you liked was to find one shot with an arrow I would have taken up archery a long time ago."
The elf's ears suddenly twitched and her eyes went wide and she started shouting something in her native language, almost frantically as if trying to get Feliks's attention.
"See, she wants you Feliks. Open up your rations and share your lunch with her," said Boris.
"Dammit Boris are you so desperate to set me up with a woman that you'll try and put me up with one that's half dead? I mean come on-ow!" exclaimed Feliks. "The hell did you hit me for?" demanded Feliks angrily, rubbing at his head.
"I didn't," said Boris suddenly serious.
There was a whistling sound and with a whoosh of air and something passed close by Feliks's face. He saw it streak by. Arrow.
"AMBUSH! RIGHT SIDE!" bellowed Boris at the top of his lungs as he leaped from the roof of the BTR as it came to a screeching halt, barely avoiding a massive tree trunk that fell in front of it. Cracking wood sounding as loud as any gunshot followed by a tortured groan and the sheer mass of the tree startled Feliks more as the tree actually shook the ground as it hit. Feliks reacted quickly though, doing the same as Boris after cutting the straps holding the Elf woman's stretcher to the roof of the BTR.
"Boris, help me get her down!" shouted Feliks as the turrets of the BTR 60s swiveled to the side of the trail that the arrow had come from. Terrible howling sounded soon afterwards and the heavy KPVT machine guns started their deep thudding firing. The 14.5mm shells ripping up foliage and mulching bushes in their way, ripping out large chunks of trees, sending wood flying. As Boris was helping haul the stretcher and woman off of the top of the BTR, the troops inside started firing out of their firing slits at whoever was attacking them. Whoever they were though, they had made a big mistake. Five heavy machine guns, five medium machine guns, and near two dozen rifles were being used to turn them to paste.
Feliks flipped the safety off of his AKM and leaned out from behind the BTR in time to see a horned creature with cloven hooves and tusks that was frothing at the mouth running at him brandishing a club. It was greyish in color, easily six and a half feet tall and probably three hundred pounds with two small piggish eyes. Its clothing was a cloth merely wrapped around its midsection and the thing stunk even at a distance. It was charging straight for them instead of weaving in between the thick underbrush and using it for cover. Choosing instead to run over any bushes or saplings in its way.
Feliks shot a long burst into the thing, watching the heavy 7.62 by 39mm shells stitch bloody holes in the thing as seven rounds thudded into it. It took another half step, mouth open in shock at its sudden injury and then collapsed. Feliks shot it once again in the head to make sure it was dead before firing a few more quick bursts into the treeline before ducking back in behind the BTR60. An arrow whistled past Feliks' head as he ducked back behind the APC.
Feliks' mouth was dry, his muscles tense, twitching, his breath seemed short for a moment, and his heart was thudding in his chest as cordite assaulted his nose and the deep thudding fire of the KPVTs assaulted his ears. Feliks was also grinning like a mad man. Not a happy grin, but a grin that belied a more malevolent purpose. A thirsty grin, one that could only be sated by blood. He had seen combat before, not that he had told Boris that, and he loved it. Feliks sometimes wondered if there was something psychologically wrong with him for enjoying combat so much, but every time he was put into mortal danger he felt an almost sense of, Euphoria.
Boris was leaning around the front side of the BTR, firing his RPD from the hip. No small feat, even considering the size of Boris himself. He swung back in behind the BTR and on his own face was a similar look, revealing steel capped teeth. He and Feliks shared a knowing look and both leaned out again and fired at the gray skinned orcs that were attacking them. Hatches opened on the BTRs and the soldiers within piled out on the side facing away from the attackers.
The lieutenant had exited his BTR and was shouting orders a moment before a spear as long as Feliks himself skewered the man, punching through his light bullet and stab resistant vest.
"CONTACTS LEFT SIDE!" shouted Feliks, taking a knee and firing bursts from his AKM at the advancing orcs, the rest of the Soviet soldiers doing the same. The orcs were big, armed with large, crude iron and wood weapons, but they went down quickly to their rifles. The unique chatter of the Kalashnikov rifle never letting up, even for an instant.
A hard tap, more like a swat on his shoulder drew his attention to Boris who was yelling, revealing his shiny metal teeth.
"That damned lieutenant called in a danger close strike before he got skewered! Get your ass down!"
Feliks along with every other soldier present hit the deck, many of them crawling under the BTRs and BDRMs. The orcs roared in exuberance, believing that they had cowed the Soviets and renewed their charge. A moment later everything stopped, even the shooting from the armored vehicles and the orcs looked up when they heard a shrill howling. It increased in intensity, like a freight train barreling down and then the world exploded.
Trees exploded, turning the old growth forest around them into so much tinder and shrapnel, the Soviets curling up to protect their soft spots and hoping against hope that a piece of wood wouldn't find them and end their life. There was a physical force to the explosions being so close. They shook your diaphragm, rattled your head, and savaged your eardrums. The heat washed over you in a wave, feeling like it was going to cook you, bake your skin and make it crack. Peel away like old, work leather. Feliks had thrown himself on top of the elf woman, using his body to shield her from the explosion and cupping the openings of her ears to protect her most likely sensitive hearing from the blasts. The arrow sticking out of her stomach had been cut down to a nub to avoid anything catching on it, making it possible for Feliks to shield her.
Her eyes opened briefly when Feliks threw himself over top of her, but shut tight, mouthing something in her language as the shells fell around them. Feliks felt pain in his calf like someone had hit it with a wicker branch, but he didn't dare to move. There would be over thirty two 152mm guns raining steel and hell down on this area and they were putting out a punishing rate of fire, destroying the forest around them. The barrage couldn't have lasted more than few minutes, but when it ended it was like they were in a different world.
Somehow, amazingly, no shells had fallen on them and besides the lieutenant, none of them had been killed. The old trees, possibly centuries old had been reduced to splinters, with wood, sap, and mulched foliage making a cloying, sickeningly overpowering earthy smell that filled ones mouth and made them need to spit. Of the orcs, there were just pieces. A few, miraculously had survived, but stumbled around as if drunk. Bursts from AKM rifles put them down for good.
Feliks stood and noticed the elf looking around in shock and awe, as if unable to believe and comprehend what had just happened. She seemed to look at the soldiers with a new respect, almost fear.
"One hell of a good scrap, and you go and protect the girl, I knew you liked her," said Boris grinning his metal grin. It faded quickly though. "Ah shit kid, your leg."
Feliks looked down and saw his fatigue pants ripped and his left calf bloody.
"Damn. Don't think its broken, looks nasty though," commented Feliks idly as blood dripped into his boot.
"Get Vitsin to look at that, I'll help the boys clear the trail and get us moving again."
"Thanks Boris," said Feliks limping over and finding a clear spot where he put down his helmet and sat on it.
"Looks nasty, but it's superficial. You're lucky sarge," said Vitsin finishing wrapping a bandage around Feliks's calf.
"Don't I know it," said Feliks limping around after Vitsin finished. "Thanks by the way, feels better."
"No problem, but me or someone should change those for you and soak the wound in salt water every day."
"I think I can manage that myself," said Feliks.
"No offense Comrade, but your bandaging skills look like a blind t-Rex with coordination problems did it."
"It's not that bad."
"Well," said Vitsin training off.
"Leave me some pride Viktor," said Feliks, using Vitsin's first name.
"I'll try Comrade Volkov."
"Thanks Vitsin," said Feliks, limping back to the BTR and leaned against it, surveying the carnage around them. Wood splinters were everywhere and what remaining of the tree trunks standing stuck up like broken bones breaking through the skin. Feliks suddenly wanted a cigarette, but he had given that up when he had went in for special training so as to not affect his physical performance. Still, he really wanted one at that moment. He settled for taking a large wood splinter from the ground and chewing on it thoughtfully like a piece of wheat.
He took took his AKM off of his shoulder and swapped out the magazine for a fresh one and chambered a round with a click clack, then switching the rifle to safe put in back over his shoulder. He looked over at the elf and found that she was looking back at him with her bright purple eyes. This time it was Feliks who was made, uncomfortable was the wrong word, but all the same he looked away from the elf. A few minutes later they had blown the tree apart blocking the trail and continued on their way.
"Senior Lieutenant Feliks Volkov, doesn't that have a nice ring to it?" asked Boris rubbing a thumb over the new golden epaulette on Feliks' shoulder. "How the hell did you go from being a senior sergeant to a senior lieutenant anyways?"
"No idea," admitted Feliks honestly. "They said I could pick a new senior sergeant to replace myself though. Interested? You know, until you get demoted again."
"HA! Might as well jump a rank and get the better pay. Keep all these lazy bastards in line for you. So what was it exactly that you wanted to show me?"
"I was hoping you'd ask that. Let's head to the motor pool and take a look."
It had been a month since the patrol that had netted them the elf woman and been ambushed. In just a month the military presence had doubled at Base Camp, now being called Camp Zhukov after Field Marshal Zhukov from the Great Patriotic War. There were now 37 000 combat soldiers plus their support staff on the hill, bringing their strength up to about two motor rifle divisions and an armored division. That meant that they would have roughly 800-900 tanks and a little over a thousand assorted IFVs and APCs. Plus multiple regiments of artillery, both rocket and tube bringing the total Soviet personnel in camp Zhukov and the surrounding countryside at any one time to about 70 000-72 000 men. This included transport and logistic units bringing in and out supplies day and night. With such a massive influx of men, the engineering battalions practically never slept. They were constantly building roads, barracks, mess halls, hangars, depots, infirmaries, bunkers, and ever expanding the presence of camp Zhukov. Talk was of doubling the amount of divisions present again and with the amount of fresh troops pouring through, it was highly believable.
To another nation this would have been financial suicide, completely unaffordable. To a growing, large, prosperous empire like the Union in the middle of the largest arms race in history, it was a drop in the bucket for their budget to use against NATO.
They had also rush constructed an airstrip at the base of the mountain. Besides the quartet of MIG 25 interceptor reconnaissance models still factory new, they had older squadrons that were entirely MIG 17s because of their ruggedness, low fuel burn, and ability to act as ground attack craft if needed. Plus an added bonus of being able to engage...dragons at low altitude. The two 23mm and one 37mm cannons on the craft were proven able to take down and kill the dragons. They had gotten an entire fighter aviation regiment meaning that including the four MIG 25s they had about 67 planes organized into four combat squadrons and a reconnaissance group. It was a category C aviation regiment, basically a reserve regiment called up to active duty, but they would do their job and do it well. On the ground side of things, besides receiving more heavy firepower, they had also received a great deal more recon capability.
"So this is your new command huh?" asked Boris pulling himself up onto a PT 76 recon tank.
"Yup. One PT 76, One BDRM 2, two BTR60s and three UAZ 469 jeeps," rattled off Feliks.
"Damn, you're moving up quick aren't you?" said Boris, looking inside the hatch. "What do they want for you getting this anyways?"
"Well for the toys that they're giving us, we're also getting reassigned," said Feliks. "Me, you, and the rest of our section are forming a new recon detachment. We'll get vehicle crews to come along with us. I managed to get Dima and his lot in on it with us."
"Well that's good, Dima's boys are as good as any. So are we going to be rolling around with platoon strength infantry or what?"
"Not really no. The BTRs will be about half full while the rest of the space will be taken up by spare fuel, munitions and food. All in all we're looking at about eleven guys to go into villages and an interpreter. In total though we'll have about twenty two guys including the vehicle crews."
"When were you planning on telling me about this new deep recon mission?" asked Boris, feigning indignation.
"Right about now."
"Bah, young pups have no sense of time."
"Yeah, well that's because we have lots of it left."
"We've all got the same amount of time in a firefight Feliks, don't forget that and that's where experience comes into play. Speaking of which, who's going to be our interpreter? Some KGB prig?"
"I don't know actually, we're supposed to go and meet with Colonel General Alexandrov in about thirty minutes."
"The head man himself?" asked Boris, for once truly surprised.
"Yup, that would be the one."
"Well best get going then, you don't keep men like that waiting," said Boris hopping off of the light tank.
It was a ten minute walk to the general's quarters, on the way to which they spent another ten having their identity confirmed by no nonsense military police officers armed with assault rifles and manning machine gun and tank armed checkpoints. The general's quarters were still a large tent, the engineers not yet having finished constructing a more permanent lodging for the commander of the 1st Gate Army as they were now being called. They had their sidearms confiscated at the door by a full section of military police and were admitted into the tent. They saw The general standing behind a large folding table with detailed maps lining every corner and unit markers dotting it. A larger map was on the back wall of the tent, and it was actually a very detailed map at that. The MIG 25s had been busy it seemed.
Radio operators lined the walls, and several staff officers were typing up reports or orders, the metallic clacking of typewriters firing like miniature machine guns. What was more astonishing than seeing such a senior officer though, was seeing the elf standing beside him, dressed in Soviet field fatigues that were obviously designed for a man and fell baggily around her frame.
Both Boris and Feliks came to attention and saluted, waiting for the general to acknowledge them. He returned the salute crisply and invited them in. Colonel General Alexandrov was a career man who had fought the fascists in the Great Patriotic War as a young officer and distinguished himself in it, rising to his current position and leading an army of the Red Army.
He was a man pushing sixty and his hair was cropped short in military fashion with a scar cutting a line down the left side of his head, parting the hair there. He had dark serious eyes and a no nonsense looking face. He also seemed to prefer combat fatigues to a dress uniform which immediately raised Feliks' opinion of him.
"Senior Lieutenant Volkov and I presume the soon to be Senior Sergeant Kotov, it's good to meet you. I see the leg is doing better?"
"Yes Comrade General, it was only superficial," answered Feliks quickly.
"Good, glad to hear it. I presume that you are familiar with the young lady at my side?" said Alexandrov, pointing to the elfin girl at his side.
"Ah yes Comrade General, but only bringing her back to camp Zhukov."
"More than that I've heard, she's told me that when your patrol was ambushed, you stayed in an exposed position under fire to get her stretcher off of your APC and later shielded her during an artillery barrage. She's been eager to meet you again," said Alexandrov.
"Yes, I'm very grateful to you Lieutenant. If you had not come along when you had, I would be dead, and I would have died again had you not protected me against the orcs," said the elf in perfect Russian, shocking Feliks. Her voice was soft, lyrical, so much so that the usually somewhat gruff Russian language sounded soft as velvet coming from her mouth. "I am also grateful for your Union's help of my village and people. When you found me, my village had been attacked and we had been forced to run. I didn't know if anyone else made it away, and then I was shot and," said the Elf trailing off and getting a distant look in her eyes for a moment. "But your General has been most generous and he sent his soldiers into the forest and drove the orcs away. In the process he freed the people from my village that were taken as slaves. He has also extended protection to all of my kin in this region. In gratitude I've offered my services as an interpreter for the Red Army and I will be accompanying you on your mission in two days. Just as my other kin will be doing the same once they reach a proficiency in your language. My name is Luella from the Village of the Hidden Glade," finished Luella, as if remembering that she had forgotten to give her name, a somewhat embarrassed look of her face.
Feliks and the indomitable Boris who was never lost for words in any given situation were silent. Boris merely munched on his cheek as he was prone to do when agitated and Feliks tried to think of a response. Thankfully the general spared him from having to do make one.
"Citizen Luella is indeed very grateful and she has a vast local knowledge of the surrounding area and customs. I also have every faith in her intelligence and ingenuity and it is because of this that I have granted her request to be personally assigned to your recon detachment. I believe I also misspoke when I called her a young lady. Miss Luella is 135 years old and from what I understand, unless killed is immortal which makes her protection of utmost importance."
If Feliks and Boris had been silent before, they were now an empty void, neither even breathing for a moment as the information sank in. This young, perpetually happy looking elfin girl was in fact 135 years old and was going to be accompanying them as their interpreter.
"Uh, yes Comrade General," said Feliks rather dumbly, not knowing really what else to say.
The meeting continued on for a few more minutes, mostly just the General outlining what they would be doing in an overall fashion, telling them that they'd get the bulk of their briefing tomorrow by his new commanding officer. As they went to leave though, something unexpected happened.
Luella came from the General's side and went up to Boris. She stood there for a moment, leaving Boris unsure of what to do and then she reached up and looped her arms around his thick neck, before standing on her toes and kissing the large man on either cheek. She said something softly in Elvish to him, leaving the big man startled and actually had made the big man flush red in the face. Then she went to Feliks and did the same, and Feliks couldn't help but stare into her bright purple eyes and he swallowed heavily.
The next day, Captain Oleg Kedrov was doing a high level reconnaissance flight five hundred nautical miles Northwest from Camp Zhukov. Snapping pictures of anything and everything with the cameras on his MiG-25RB from 60 000 feet. He was snapping pictures of really anything and everything. Roads, hills, mountains, towns, even wildlife if he happened to see them. He had been doing this day in and day out and had to remind himself not to just idly snap pictures and look, but it truly was boring work after doing it every day for the last two weeks. However there was one thing that made him circle back for a second pass. Trucks.
They were in front of a little village and his cameras were snapping pictures of them greedily. This was huge. There was no indication of the Empire they were fighting having even near the technology necessary to make such equipment. Captain Kedrov lowered himself to 40 000 feet on his second pass to get better quality pictures and there was no denying it. There were vehicles down below and soldiers with rifles interacting with the villagers in a manner very similar to what the Soviets were now doing.
Going into a hard climb, Kedrov went back up to 60 000 feet and went at the greatest speed of mach 2.83 that the MiG-25 could do without damaging its engines and made a beeline back for Camp Zhukov, forgoing the rest of his mission to bring back this game changing new development. A day after Kedrov had made his report, two full squadrons of the latest MiG-21 variants were sitting beside the MiG-17s on the runway with the rest of the regiment to follow the next day.
"Hey Itami, what are you looking at?" asked Shino, the diminutive woman giving her superior a scathing look, expecting him to be slacking off once again.
"Huh? Oh, just thought I saw something. Must have been my imagination," answered Itami.
"Baka," muttered Shino under her breath.
AN: Fixing a few grammar mistakes and updating Soviet exchanges to be Comrade and Citizen rather than sir and Miss/Mr.
AN: Obviously I've played around with history a bit and hugely expanded the population of the USSR as well as pushing technology ahead at least a half to a full generation in some regards to the Union, and maybe two for NATO and America to make it somewhat fair. I mean F15 Eagles wouldn't find MIG 23 fighters too much of a threat when they can engage them before the MIGs even know that they're there. I'll also be playing around with performance abilities of the equipment being used so it isn't so limited by range because of fuel requirements and I will do my best to say when I do. Just note that planes like the MiG 21 will have about 2-3 times their regular airtime, so instead of just being able to be airborne for an hour and a half, it'll be closer to four. I'll do the same with their NATO counterparts and vehicles and say that they just have more fuel efficient engines than we do because of different technology streams. However the Union won't be fighting NATO. It'll be fighting medieval armies and eyeing up new land to settle and absorb. Aaaaand figuring out what to do with a modern Japan.