From SC Creator: Sam has been a fan of SC for a long time and I am always happy to post his SC fan fictions. It brings me great pleasure to see him and others like him still sticking with SC especially after these last two years without much new content. This is a great read because it captures the spirit of the Battle of New Stalingrad. One of the biggest events in WW3 and easily considered one of the bloodiest battles fought in SC history. Enjoy! 01062015.

Ни шагу назад!
​Not one step back!

- Order 227​

SCFF: The Crucible of New Stalingrad

By: Samuel Kingma-Lord​​​

Headquarters of the 63rd army, New Stalingrad, Communist Federated Republics, June 27th 2071: For a few days now, Colonel Vladimir Grigoryevich Arkhipov had shunned sleep in order to prepare the defence of the city as best he could. For the past six years, the CFR had been reeling from the Holy Islamic Empire’s betrayal. He remembered that day in university, back in 2065, when he had watched in horror as the HIE forces encircled and destroyed the Russian forces in the occupied territories of France. What had disgusted him the most was not the fact that the seemingly invincible Red Army had been defeated by what he considered ‘primitives with no knowledge of the revolution’ but the fact that every single prisoner that was taken had been murdered in the most gruesome way and that any women who fell to them was gang raped to death. He brushed the thought away and returned to his maps. He estimated the enemy to be no less than 2 weeks away from reaching New Stalingrad. Being amongst the commanders responsible for the defence of the city and its population, he had done his best to evacuate its population further to the East. But he would need more than 2 weeks to complete the evacuation. ‘I hope I am not interrupting anything, comrade colonel?’ Arkhipov lifted his head from the maps spread out on the table. He recognized his old friend Grigory Medvedev a veteran of the European campaign more than nine years earlier. ‘Absolutely not, old friend. I’m just trying to do the best I can with what I’ve got to defend this city against the invaders. Grigory moved closer to the table to view the maps. ‘What kind of forces do we have, comrade colonel?’ Vladimir rubbed his eyes. ‘Right now we have about 87,000 men supported by about 2,200 artillery pieces and 400 tanks. As for air support we have almost 500 aircraft’ Grigory smiled then turned serious. ‘What about the islamo-fascists?’ Vladimir took out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. ‘Their forces are standing at 4,500,000 regulars, more than 14,000,000 irregulars, 26,000 tanks and 500 walkers. They are rumored to have 10,000 aircraft too. The good news is that we are being reinforced daily. Our soldiers and tanks crews are being issued with the latest weapons and ammunition for the coming battle. We also have been promised hundreds of the brand-new T-77 walkers. They are supposed to arrive in two days. Grigory took out a bottle of vodka from his great coat and produced two shot glasses from seemingly out of nowhere. ‘Then let’s drink to our soldiers and the Motherland!’ He gave the glass to Vladimir and they both emptied their glasses. ‘Za rodinu! Dlya nashey svobody! (For the motherland! For our freedom) Vladimir laughed as he put down his glass. ‘I prefer the saying, Alea jacta est.’ Grigory seemed puzzled. ‘What does that mean?’ The colonel moved over to the window and looked in the distance. He knew the size of the force now advancing towards him and his beloved city. He turned back to his friend ‘Its Latin for –The die is cast. Perfect for our situation’ Grigory smiled, saluted and then left the room. As he prepared a place for himself to sleep, Vladimir pondered on what he just said ‘Alea jacta est indeed’ Five minutes later, he was asleep.

August 5th 2071:
Only a handful of days remained before the Islamic forces would be within artillery range of New Stalingrad. These last few days, Vladimir worked tirelessly to better the defenses of the city. While he was talking to an artillery sergeant about the new shells, Grigory signaled him to come and see something. ‘What is it Grigory! You know I am much occupied at the moment?’ In front of him was a motley assortment of soldiers. Nothing out of the usual. Only these men didn’t wear the usual olive colored uniforms of the Red Army. They were wearing different uniforms among them. These men were European. ‘What is the meaning of this?’ Grigory walked to him, a broad smile on his face. The Allies have decided, in their great wisdom, to cease hostilities with us until the Islamic ‘problem’ is taken care of. As he walked the length of the column of men, he noted their national identity: most of them came from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Italy, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and even Croatia and Greece. In total, these men amounted to about 5000 battle-tested veterans. ‘Impressive. I think we will find good things for them to do if you get my meaning’ Medvedev straightened himself ‘Yes sir!’ That evening, Grigory came back to the shelter where Vladimir was eating his day’s rations. ‘What is it Medvedev? It looks like you saw Hitler in the latrines. He sat down at the table. ‘I might as well. I just assign the living quarters for our allied ‘volunteers’ and I must say the behaviour of some of those men are, shall we say unorthodox to what is usually said about the Allies.’ The colonel seemed puzzled. ‘What do you mean?’ Grigory leaned in closer. ‘Most of the guys are correct. It’s mostly the Croats that worry me. I was with them when they showed me their battle flags and I noticed that in the left-hand corner of their flag there is a capital U. Vladimir still looked at him, puzzled ‘ The U stands for the Ustase. They were notorious fascists before the war. Their history goes even before the Second Great War.’ Vladimir finished his drink and stood up. ‘As long as they don’t fight against us, I care not about their beliefs. One thing I know is that these Ustase hate the Islamists more than they hate us. I wouldn’t worry about them although keep me informed on anything out of the ordinary with them.’

Outskirts of New Stalingrad, August 18th 2071: The bombing had started two days earlier. The shining modern city was reduced to a heap of rubble by the constant barrage of shells and rockets coming from the HIE positions. In their trenches, dugouts and bunkers, the Russian defenders were well shielded from the hellish conditions outside. But the intense bombardment had the reverse effect that the Islamists were expecting. With every shell impact, the anger and hatred of the defenders multiplied exponentially.

Outskirts of New Stalingrad, outer defenses:
From his tank hatch, Vassili Popov looked back at the devastation wrought by the barrage on his native city. Though his face showed no discernable emotional state, inside, he was burning with anger. He slithered back into his vehicle and closed the hatch. Sitting on his commander’s chair, he was filled with doubts. Usually, CFR tank crews had months and years of training to be the best armored crews in the army. He only received 72 hours’ worth of training. Four days before, he had been at a medical station, tending the wounded outside the general hospital before being drafted in the 284th tank regiment. After his quick training, he was assigned to a rookie crew using the outdated but still well armed and well armored T-82 ‘Bear’ tank. Armed with a 125 mm main cannon, it was well able to penetrate any tanks used by the HIE up to a range of 2.5 kilometers. But Vassili knew full well that a tank is only as good as its crew. As he looked into his periscope, his driver tucked at his boot. ‘Contact, sir! HIE tanks at 3000 meters. At 11 o’clock’ ‘Wait until they are closer, comrade. Loader, AT round!’ The loader thrust the shell at a surprising speed. ‘AT round loaded, sir! Ready to fire!’ Popov went back to his periscope to try and spot approaching Islamic tanks through dense smoke. But he was far from being alone as dozen of tanks from both his unit and others were positioned all around him. They too were crewed by fresh recruits like him. ‘They are now at 2100 meters and closing, comrade!’ At that moment Popov leapt into action. Ordering his driver forward, he could see clearly now the advancing olive coloured tanks of the enemy. To his left and right, the other tanks of his units had already started to fire upon the advancing vehicles. Many of the attackers were destroyed but, for others, their armor was thick enough to deflect the incoming shells. The advancing Islamic tanks had opened fire as well. Many CFR tanks were ripped apart in their dugouts. The explosions sent multi-ton turrets flying high into the air before crashing down. As his tank started picking up speed, Popov could feel the exhilaration as the adrenaline coursed through his body. He ordered his driver to stop near a sand butte. He went back to his periscope, eager to deal destruction on the invaders. ‘Target sighted! Tank near that destroyed bunker! AT round! Steady… fire! Good shot! Another one, same place. Gunner, see, he has a repair seam on his turret, target that. Steady… fire! Perfect hit, watch that turret go through the air! Driver, forward. Know that there are anti-tank mines to our right so turn left here. Be ready to fire again’ the co-axial gunner chimed in ‘Comrade Commander, enemy infantry in that crater, engaging! Look, they are running away like scared puppies! ‘Good job Grasev, keep an eye out. There’s plenty more where that came from. Driver, forward at high speed! As his tank advanced further into the enemy front, Popov was followed by several tanks of the 284th and a handful of missile walkers from the 365th anti-aircraft regiment. After hours of exhilarating but exhausting battle, the HIE attackers seemed to lose heart and started, slowly, to retreat. ‘Forward! Kill them all!’ The driver looked at Popov, uncertain. ‘Comrade Commandant, we should not advance without support from the others.’ As a response, Popov kicked his driver’s helmet with his foot. ‘Forward, I tell you!’ Having no choice, the driver gunned the engine and the tank rumbled in the direction of the enemy. It hadn’t moved more than 100 yards before Popov ordered the tank to stop again. ‘Driver, reverse engine! Radar is picking up masses of enemy armor moving to this position. Go back to our lines!’ The tank turned while its turret continued pointing at the advancing enemy. Suddenly, the vehicle came to an abrupt end just a few meters from CFR lines and safety. ‘They shot off our track! Screamed the driver. Get out of the tank! Get out of the…’ Before he could finish his sentence, another shell hit and punched through the armour. The blast instantly killed the driver and loader while the gunner was knocked unconscious. Popov moved the gunner’s body so he could drag him out by the emergency trapdoor on the floor of the vehicle. As he walked away from the wreck that was his tank, he noticed that smoke was starting to come out of the vehicle very quickly. Mere seconds later, the tank exploded, sending the turret flying through the air in his direction. He knew he couldn’t run, the blast had shredded his right leg and foot and the gunner was still unconscious. As the falling turret came closer and closer to him, he closed his eyes and let go of his friend’s body. ‘Bozhe moy! Chto stalo s nami? (My god! What has become of us?)’ He felt nothing as the turret crushed him.

North Slope of Mamayev Kurgan, 7 days later: Arkady Sidorenko had been in a prone position for over five hour now. He knew the battlefield almost by heart now. Contrary to other snipers in his unit who used modern lightweight sniper rifles, he preferred to opt with an old Mosin-Nagant M91/30 PU bolt-action sniper rifle. He preferred the kick it gave with each shot. He gave a light kick with his foot to the soldier on his left. ‘Sleep time is over, comrade’ she slightly lifted her head from the parka she used as an improvised pillow. She sighed deeply. ‘Oh, my head! And here I was thinking that the pillow I used back at the factory was hard on my neck. I feel like I could sleep for a year. Anything new out there, comrade sniper?’ Sidorenko didn’t even move his head away from his scope. ‘Two days ago, the 13th Guards Rifle Division launched an assault on hill 102.0, otherwise known as Mamayev Kurgan. Just yesterday, the hill has passed hands more than fourteen times in less than six hours! Those Islamic bastards are tough as nails. The 13th were 10,000 strong when they first attacked, now they barely have 150 men left!’ She took her spotting scope out of its canvas and set it up. ‘Don’t worry comrade. They will be avenged, all of them’ Sidorenko looked away from his scope for the first times in hours. A faint circle imprint appeared above his right eye. Cadet sniper Tania Pavlichenko was a newcomer to his unit, the 7th Sniper Brigade. She had already been a sniper for a few weeks before the HIE armies arrived at New Stalingrad. Back then, she had served with the 18th Sniper Regiment. That unit had been decimated by accurate anti-sniper drones. For now she would be a spotter. But Sidorenko knew better than to underestimate her. Just besides her spotting scope, she had placed her own rifle, a modified VSS Vintorez. She had been able to augment its effective firing range by more than 200 meters, from 600 to 800 meters. Silently chuckling to himself, he went back to his scope. The hill that he was seeing was ragged: burn out tree stumps and bushes dotted the landscape. Every few yards, a body or a destroyed vehicle could be seen. He swiveled to his left. The Russian lines formed a large bulge that extended for a few hundred meters to his right. ‘Anything, comrade Pavlichenko?’ she sighed again ‘No, comrade, this place is silent as a tomb. I don’t like it’ Still training his rifle slowly from left to right he whispered ‘I don’t either. But I’m sure there will be an attack from either side pretty soon’. Only a few minutes after he spoke, dozens of artillery shells fell far to his right. ‘The hajjis have the first move then get ready’ As they both pointed their rifles to the left, the barrage ceased. Only the wind made any noise. Suddenly, he heard what seemed to be dozens of voices screaming at the same time. ‘Comrade, do you have any idea about what they are saying?’ Utterly concentrated, Sidorenko took half a minute to answer. ‘Something about how God is great and other religious nonsense. I’m just glad they are revealing their position to us’ Far down the hill; they could hear their own soldiers starting opening up with their heavy weapons. They glanced at each other and nodded: they knew what it meant. A wave attack. Not long after they could see hundreds if not thousands of frenzied Islamic soldiers running at top speed across the no man’s land under a lethal barrage of machine gun fire and mortar shells that cut them down by the dozen. Up on their position, both snipers was in their zone: their breath was much slower now for maximum accuracy. Once they acquired a target they would slowly squeeze their triggers. ‘Hit. Machine gunner in that clump of trees’ Sidorenko raked the bolt backwards then forwards, for a new round. ‘Hit. Soldier preparing to throw a grenade in one of our bunkers’ This went on for half an hour. While reloading her rifle, Tania lifted her head up a little ‘They are retreating comrade! We have won the day! Sidorenko was not amused. ‘Get your head down! It is not over yet!’ As he trained his rifle down again, one of the Russian machine gunners suddenly slumped on his weapon. In the next 10 seconds that followed, three soldiers fell to the ground, dead. Both Sidorenko and Pavlichenko talked at the same time ‘enemy snipers in the area!’ They took their eyes away from the carnage below, to the hills and gulleys from where the main attack had come from. They could distinctly hear the particular detonation of the enemy’s sniper rifles. Sidorenko judged them to be old but deadly Dragunovs. For several minutes, they were unable to locate the enemy snipers. Suddenly, Tania nudged Arkady with her foot. ‘I have him. See that pile of spent artillery shells? He’s using one to cover his rifle. See he fired again!’ ‘Yes, I saw him. What is the range?’ Tania put down her Vintorez and looked through her spotter scope. ‘He is pretty far comrade. Range 540 meters. Wind, 3 knots coming from the south. I don’t have the angle’ Sidorenko had already made the changes to his scope. ‘It’s okay, I have him now… Come on you bastard, shoot again’ Five seconds later, he squeezed the trigger sending a rimmed bullet at more than 800 meters a second. Tania watched the hit through her spotting scope. ‘You got him! Nice shot to the head!’ As the day progressed, they engaged with half a dozen other snipers. As the fighting died down, they both rolled on their backs, panting. ‘What a day, eh comrade? We showed them good’ ‘That we did Tania. Now, pack your stuff, take your rifle, we are moving out. Nightfall will be over us in about 15 minutes.’ Back at the hideout, they tallied their hits and misses. As they finished their calculations, a female commissar approached them ‘Good hunting today, comrade sniper?’ Arkady gave a kiss to his gun’s scope. ‘A very good day indeed, comrade commissar’ Both Tania and Arkady sat down around a fire. ‘What is the tally today, comrade sergeant?’ Both Arkady and Tania opened their diaries. Sidorenko took a swig of vodka and cleared his throat ‘Today I had nine hits. Three machine gunners, two officers, an artillery spotter, a flamethrower operator and two snipers. I missed four times. He looked over to Tania. ‘I had twelve hits. Eight soldiers, one officer and three snipers’ The snipers assembled in the underground shelter clapped their hands. ‘Well it seems you were beaten today comrade Sidorenko! And by a woman!’ Arkady took another swig of vodka amidst roaring laughter. He looked at Tania and gave her the bottle. ‘Take a drink. You deserved it. You did well today. Very good’ Tania accepted the bottle ‘Thank you comrade!’ With a smile on her lips she took a healthy swill before giving it to another soldier. Arkady walked over to his bunk. The female commissar was behind him. ‘Are you well, comrade sniper? Do you want me to stop all this noise?’ Arkady took his boots off then looked at the women. ‘No. Let them have their fun. This might be their last chance for a little fun. Who knows who will still be alive tomorrow’ The commissar said nothing but slightly bowed her head. ‘Then good night, comrade’ Arkady slid underneath the covers of his bunk. ‘Good night comrade commissar’ The noise continued for about another hour before the other soldiers went to their bunks. By that time’ Arkady Sidorenko was fast asleep. A feat that never stopped surprising the other snipers of his unit, still unfamiliar with this type of war.

Center of New Stalingrad, near the Ninth of January Square, August 30th 2071: Private Anatoly Demichev woke up in a daze. He played his fingers through his hair and scalp. It didn’t take long before he felt congealed blood where a bullet had nicked him. He sat up, and looked around. He was surrounded by bodies. All around he could hear the sounds of battle. A virtual cacophony of rifle and cannon fire. He was just starting to stand up when, from a street corner, a massive HIE tank, covered with Islamic soldiers rounded the bend towards the fountain. Anatoly immediately ducked, then squirmed himself between two bodies and pretended to be dead. As the tank passed by the fountain, the men on it started to blindly fire right into the dead Russian bodies. Anatoly cringed as bullets whizzed very close to him. The tank stopped about a dozen meters away from the center of the square. The soldiers lept down from the tanks and started to loiter around the vehicles. Many went to secluded spots to relieve themselves. As Demichev crawled around inside the fountain, he fell on a rifle tucked underneath a corpse. Without a second thought, he moved to a hole in the concrete, trying to figure out which of the enemy was the highest ranking soldier. He spotted an officer as he came back from relieving himself. As he prepared to fire, Anatoly felt something touch his boots. ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you, mate.’ Anatoly turned around to see a heavily tattooed soldier. ‘Where the hell do you come from?’ he asked, trying to catch his breath. The man smiled ‘New Zealand, my boy. But closer to home, I’m with the 44th Special Forces brigade.’ Demichev almost choked ‘New Zealand? I thought we were alone in this battle.’ The man smiled ‘Not anymore. There are currently about 150 New Zealanders fighting in this city but there are many more foreigners than you would think. Rumor has it, there are even Americans fighting with us.’ Demichev turned back to the hole in the concrete. His target was now seated on a bullet ridden oil drum, reading a stack of paper. He positioned the rifle and prepared to shoot. When he pressed the trigger, however, all he heard was a distinctive ‘click’. The gun was out of ammo. He took a magazine from his pouch and affixed it to the rifle. ‘Who do you think I should aim at first? The officer?’ The New Zealander peeked above the parapet. ‘Yes, you should but try to coordinate your shots with an explosion.’ Anatoly agreed. He went back to the officer who was still at the same spot as before. He leveled the rifle so as to target the officer’s head. Before he could fire however, the officer was summoned by one of the soldiers. For a moment, the man disappeared from view. When he came back though, he wasn’t alone. ‘This does not look good’ whispered Anatoly. The officer was dragging by the feet what seems to be a woman POW. They put her up on her knees. As hard as he could, Anatoly couldn’t hear anything. Before he could say anything to the New Zealander, the woman spat in the officer’s face. As the man moved away to wipe his face, the woman was spitting what probably were profanities in either Czech or Polish, he couldn’t be sure. As the woman continued her tirade, the Islamic officer suddenly slapped her hard across the face, drawing blood. As she panted, two soldiers came up from behind and held her arms tightly behind her back. The man produced a short sword from his greatcoat. Almost as soon as it was out of its sheath, he struck the woman across her neck. While the strike did not decapitate her, her neck had been badly gashed. Bright red blood streamed across her chest unto the frozen, muddy ground. After only a few seconds, she was dead. Anatoly could no longer restrain himself. ‘Nooooo!’ He stood up in the ruined fountain as the startled Islamic officer was turning around. For a few seconds, their gazes were locked. Anatoly brought up his rifle and fired. The officer flew into the air and fell hard on his back, a blazing, bloody hole where his chest had been. As the accompanying soldiers panicked and started firing in every direction at once, Anatoly felt strangely calm, even as bullets whizzed dangerously close to him. As he watched the soldiers steady their aim towards him, he closed his eyes, expecting any second to feel the sting of a bullet. At that moment, Anatoly felt something whizz past on both sides of his head. When he opened his eyes, every Islamic soldier was lying dead on the ground. He turned around to see soldiers coming out of the rubble, every one of them in camouflaged ghillie suits. As they approached him, Anatoly saw bodies that he thought were long dead, get up on their feet. He lifted his weapon half-way, unsure of what to do. ‘Who are you?’ As he slightly lifted his gun, the mysterious men surrounding him all pointed their weapons at him. A man approached him, an officer perhaps, and motioned the men to lower their guns. ‘My name is Tom Lewis. Sergeant in Task Force Smith. All these men are with me’. He just couldn’t believe it. ‘Americans, here? What… since when? How many are you? When did you arrive?’ The man just smiled. ‘All in good time, my friend. All in good time’. Anatoly finally left the ruined fountain for the first time in hours. He walked over to where the woman had been slain. He looked at her for a minute then turned away, in a somber mood. ‘You okay?’ asked one of the American soldiers. ‘They respect nothing. Not women, not men, not even life itself. They must be stopped or it will be the end of our people. There would be no more freedom of thought or speech or anything else.’ The American put his hand on Anatoly’s shoulders ‘Don’t worry. We are here now and we’ll help you drive them all the way to Mecca. I’ll get some guys to bury her.’ As they both walked away from the square, unsure of their future, one of the Americans threw a grenade into the tank, rendering it unusable by anybody.

Bar ‘The International Comrade’, eastern bank of the Volga River, Sept. 5th 2071: Colonel Arkhipov entered the bar to get out of the rain. The sudden heat emanating from the place was much welcomed. The makeshift bar was relatively large given that it was dug directly into the riverbank. As he looked across the length of the place, he recognized many of the foreigners who had come to fight the HIE alongside the Russians. As he made his way to the counter though, he could almost feel the glares of the assembled soldiers. He looked at one of the long tables where about a dozen British servicemen were seated. He smiled at them. Nearly all of them ignored him. Only one returned his smile with a slight nod. Arkhipov turned to an officer that was just entering the bar. ‘I think I’ll come back when the mood is better.’
The next day, western half of the city, after dawn: For the third day in a row Colonel Leonova had not slept. She lifted her binoculars just enough to be able to see what loomed beyond her trench. Out in the distance, 250 meters away, stood the city’s grain elevator. For most of the past week, the building had changed hands dozens of times. ‘Savages, she thought, we’ll root you out and exterminate you.’ A voice came from behind her. ‘Good morning, comrade colonel.’ She turned to see her dear friend, Igor Volkov, with two steaming cups of coffee. She took one with a smile on her face. ‘Thank you, my friend’ She took a sip then recoiled back in surprise. ‘How the hell did you get a hold of coffee that doesn’t taste like burned rubber?’ He just smiled ‘I traded it with an Englishmen for a few bottles of vodka.’ She looked at him, surprised. ‘There are British, here?’ He took another sip of coffee. ‘Indeed there are many of them in the city. In fact, a section of the British 12th Light Infantry is supposed to arrive in our sector to bolster our strength.’ For the first time in a long while, Leonova smiled. It was not meant to last long. After only a few minutes, shells started to fall just outside her trench. As rocks and loose dirt started to fall down, she sighed loudly as she adjusted her metal helmet ‘Goddamn you, savages! Why can’t you leave us in peace for once?’ Soldiers of all ages streamed past her. Some took position just beside her, while others just went further down. She went to her position on the firing line, loading and checking her weapon, a 7,62 AK-74/65. She wasn’t surprised to find nothing wrong with her weapon. She knew that it would have fired flawlessly even if it had been covered in mud and run over by a jeep. The mortar barrage didn’t last long, to which she was grateful, and hadn’t done a lot of damage. As the dust settled, an eerie silence fell over the battlefield. ‘Damn it! I hate it when this happens!’ screamed the soldier to her left. ‘You are not alone, comrade.’ He turned his head and gave her a tired smile. She winced a little bit. It wasn’t a man beside her but a boy who didn’t look older than 16. As the wind slowly drifted in front of her position, a loud voice cried out through the smoke. ‘Bismillah-i rahman-i rahim!’ The boy lashed again, impatiently. ‘This is just great! What the hell are they saying now?!’ Someone behind her responded to the boy’s query. She recognized him. It was Volkov. ‘It means : In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. It’s how they start every prayer.’ The boy scoffed ‘ The most gracious, the most merciful? You have got to be kidding me!’ Volkov snapped. ‘You asked a question and I answered it. Don’t piss me off!’ The young soldier backed off ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.’ The young man stepped down to take a swig of water from his canteen. At the exact moment he bend down, a bullet whizzed over his arched back and smacked into a sand bag behind him. ‘Bozhe moi! That was close!’ Leonova barely registered what he had said. She was preoccupied by an incessant buzzing that was growing louder by the second. ‘They are coming’ she said to no one in particular. For a moment, the defenders could not see anything because of the smoke created by the previous bombardment. Suddenly, out of the gloom and smoke, the HIE soldiers came, running like madmen. As each soldier took his place on the firing line, an officer lifted his hand. ‘Hold, don’t fire until they get close!’ As the Russians held their fire, bullets started whizzing all around. As the Russians started shooting, it quickly became apparent that the rifle fire, as heavy as it was, would not be enough to repel them. ‘Ispravit shtyki!’ (Fix bayonets) Someone called from behind. In mere seconds, Leonova and those around her had affixed their own bayonets. As he raised his pistol, an officer shouted ‘Hold the line comrades! Make these evil bastards pay for what they have done to our motherland! If we are to die here, then let us die with honor!’ Leonova’s chest swelled with pride at the cheer that arose all around her. As the soldiers finished fixing their bayonets, a thick wall of smoke drifted in front of the charging Islamic soldiers. The officer closest to Leonova lifted his hand carrying his pistol ‘Hold your fire, comrades, do not shoot unless you see them!’. As the soldiers nervously watched the wall of smoke, nothing happened. A minute passed, then another and another. A full seven minutes had passed since the first shots were fired. ‘Maybe they just wanted to scare us? What do you think?’ Without answering, Leonova moved a few feet to her left nearer a group of conscripts. ‘Do you have any rifle grenades?’ she asked. About five of them nodded in approval. ‘All right. Here is what I want you to do. You will each fire two grenades to the left, the right and center. You will do this three times with two minutes interval between firing. Remember to separate.’ ‘ Yes comrade colonel, on our way.’ It took less than half a minute for them to be in position. Once in position, the conscripts all looked at Leonova for a signal. When she gave it, ten rifle grenades launched in an arc and disappeared in the smoke. A few seconds later, the thump of the grenades was heard. Yet, nothing happened. They continued shooting their grenades right, left and center but absolutely nothing happened. Impatient, colonel Leonova pointed to two of the soldiers and hand signalled them to move farther away from the trench. They got farther from the trench, fired again and came back when nothing happened. As Leonova looked at the returning conscripts she noticed a large shadow that seemed to rise from the very ground. Before she could utter a warning, both men were felled by bladed weapons. Before the headless corpses had even fallen to the ground, hundreds of frenzied Islamic soldiers rose up, seemingly from the very ground itself, in a massive human wave attack. Once again, the CFR line erupted into gunfire. Yet, unlike the first time, the very ferocity of the assault caused many soldiers to miss their targets. It took less than half a minute before the frenzied Islamists were among them. The fighting soon devolved into a fierce and bloody hand to hand fight for survival. As the chaos of battle ensued, Leonova targeted the nearest enemy combatant, a large hairy man with a chest long beard. Before she could will herself to pull the trigger, her target went down, half his head blown away leaving a ragged, pulped hole where his right eye was. She aligned another target: a young man running at full speed, his rifle bayonet straight in front of him. She fired and watched him keel over, both hands clutching his stomach. Wounded as he was, he tried throwing one of his grenades. Before he could, however, he was struck in the hand. The grenade blew up in his face and shredded most of his upper torso. As she tried to fire on a third soldier, she felt someone come up from behind her. She ducked just as a sword plowed into a sand bag in front of her. She wheeled around parrying another sword blow with her bayonet. Before he could react, she kicked him in the groin hard and stabbed him through the neck. He went down without making a sound. As she tried to go back to her firing position, Leonova was struck in the head by a rifle butt. Dazed and a little confused she fell to the ground. A few seconds later, she felt a large weight pressing down on her chest. She opened her eyes and saw a wild-eyed young man, his face covered in sweat and blood taking a long serrated knife out of its scabbard. She closed her eyes, certain that her end had come. ‘Die you atheist whore!’ he shouted. In her last moments, her thoughts went back to her family, safely behind the Urals. She also cursed herself for dying without ridding the earth of more of the islamist vermin. A second went by, then another, then another. Half a minute went by without anything happening to her. Through her fear, she willed herself to open her eyes. The man was still on her chest yet his face was no longer the frenzied one she had seen seconds before. His was now one of complete surprise. It didn’t take long for her to see why. The man chest had been pierced by what seemed to be a large knife made out of a piece of metal. The man behind the Islamist soldier growled in a low voice ‘Not today, asshole!’ he stuck the knife deeper and Leonova saw the islamist soldier’s life leave his eyes. The unknown man stuck out his hand for her to grasp. He chuckled ‘You can’t kill any bastards lying down there now can you?’ Before she could formulate a question, he left. There was something peculiar about his accent. It was British. As the realisation dawned on her, one of her soldiers cried out ‘Angliyskiy prikhodyat! Angliyskiy prikhodyat!’ (The British are coming!) As she looked at the rim of her trench dozens of brown colored soldiers streamed passed her, maintaining disciplined firing on the HIE regulars. For the first time that day, Leonova started to hope for the best. Like many of her comrades, she got out of the trench to support the British reinforcements. Little by little, the HIE assault started to lose its initiative and its soldiers started to disengage as best they could. Mastering her fear, Leonova, like many of her comrades in arms, climbed out of the trench to assist the British troops. A few minutes later, the main thrust of the new arrivals started bogging down by heavy machine-gun fire from nearby buildings. As she approached, she clearly heard a young English corporal screaming into his headset. ‘Give me immediate artillery support on these coordinates now! Targets are heavily fortified buildings and possible armor!’ As if on cue, a shell whizzed over the small group and took out a CFR walker while it gave support with its heavy machine-guns. The man with the radio set screamed again ‘Where the fuck did that come from?! Did anyone see where it came from?!’ Before anyone could answer, Leonova ran forward. ‘We’ll take care of it for you! RPG teams Alpha and Omega, flank that sukin syn (son of a bitch) and stick it in his behind! B, D and F platoons, support Alpha and Omega, make sure they complete their objective.’ She was greeted by a wave of affirmatives. Like clockwork, the RPG teams entered the ruined alleyways under a hail of heavy fire. A few fell to the hail of bullets but most got through thanks to the support of the riflemen who took out the machine-gun nests with grenades and bayonets. Two islamic tanks tried to break the encirclement and reach their own lines but were promptly destroyed by accurate AT rockets. A third one was torn apart by a British grenade launcher. The CFR soldiers advanced rapidly through the ruins, sweeping aside most HIE resistance until they hit a series of armored blockhouses with took a heavy toll on the attacking force. Leonova and a few of her men took shelter behind a gutted fire truck. ‘We are pinned down comrade colonel! We just can’t take those buildings with what we have!’ He turned back and fired a rifle grenade which bounced back from the buildings and caused no damage. ‘Runner! I need a runner!’ As the bullets whizzed by, a young, bulky soldier came next to the truck. ‘Go and tell the British we need heavy weapons to clear these bunkers. Go!’ Without saying a word, the runner left with a nod.

5 minutes later:
A British squad arrived at Leonova’s position. ‘Where do you need us, ma’am?’ She pointed beyond the ruined truck to the blockhouses. He smiled. ‘Leave them to us. Move out!’ Under cover fire from the CFR soldiers behind the truck, the men raced up to the side of the target building. She heard them clearly with her radio. ‘ Ready boys! Grab your sticks! Heat’ em up! Let the juice flow!’ Before she could ask what they were talking about, she saw 4 great gouts of bright blue and orange flames licking the buildings through their broken windows. A few seconds later, the burning bodies of HIE soldiers started falling from the windows. Some were already dead, others weren’t. She was about to fire on a burning soldier when someone put his hand on her weapon. ‘Pust ublyudki goryat (Let the bastards burn)’.

Two hours later: Leonova was sitting near the ruined fire truck, munching on some week old ration and drinking from her canteen. While she ate, the man that had lead the flamethrowers passed in front of her. ‘Hey you there! Wait up!’ The man approached her without hesitation. ‘Can I help you with something, ma’am?’ She crossed her arms . ‘It was you who cleared those blockhouses, yes?’ He smiled. ‘Yes I am.’ She saluted him and extended her hand. ‘I am Valentina Georgiyevna Lobkovskayaof the 579th Militia Reserve. And you?’ He saluted her. ‘My name is John Gage but my friends call me Angelo. I was previously with the 8th Marine regiment but now I’m with the 128th Infantry Division. To tell you the truth, I never thought I would be fighting on the side of the CFR. But I must admit that the HIE is our mutual enemy now.’ She shrugged. ‘Indeed they are.’ He spoke no more. He simply saluted again and left to be with his men. As she watched him leave, she saw Igor Volkov running towards her. He stopped, panting, in front of her. ‘ Do you have something to report?’ He smiled. ‘This was a great victory. We pushed the islamists out of 6 blocks and we have almost the whole of district 2 under our control.’ She scratched her head. ‘What about our casualties?’ His mood darkened. ‘ We lost over 275 men. There are at least 1500 wounded. Our medics will be overwhelmed.’ ‘ With the British and Americans now on our side we can only be victorious in the end. By the way, do you know what happened to that kid who was close to us when the attack started?’ Volkov stood upright. ‘The lad fought well but he was bayoneted in the stomach. He has been taken to the field hospital near the docks.’ She was pleased with the answer. ‘I will take a rest and I shall pay him a visit. You should do likewise.’

SCFF: The Crucible of New Stalingrad
The Holy Islamic Empire advances against its former Allies the CFR and the soldiers of Russia attempt to hold the HIE hordes back in New Stalingrad. A fan fiction story written by Samuel Kingma-Lord set in the Shattered Citadel Universe during WW3.