Book 17. Part One Summary, 1/2

My original idea was to see how the Russian Empire – under their Prime Minister, Thinking Machine Reina, went about taking Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba off of the Canadians. Alaska and British Columbia are already in their, well, her, hegemony, but there’s just too much oil and natural gas out there to be ignored. Russian heavy industry is building kilometer-long transports in orbit for shipments of materials to Mars, and even with reactionless motors, that demands massive amounts of energy.

The preface of the book is Major General Suvorov of the 77th Brigade having a teleconference with Reina. He and his men are in Calgary. Half of their supplies are on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. He requests a delay of three days. After some back-and-forth, Reina agrees, but states that if he’s not in motion on day four, he’s dead. She is not a nice person.

Part One is about Sergeant Sergei Konev and his scout unit, just beyond the tip of the spear. He’s 25 and from a village outside of Maikop. His #2 is Corporal Zais, an Itelmen from Kamchatka. Their first assignment is due north to Edmonton, to see if it needs a regiment to take and hold it. They find it already under a meter of ice and snow.

[For those of you unfamiliar with my future history, it presumes a Maunder Minimum beginning right before the Breakup. A little ice age.]

They proceed to Medicine Hat and strike a deal with the Mayor, who is already thinking himself independent of Canada. Pushing a little on then coming back, they come under fire. The mayor has been assassinated by Russian Special Forces troops, Spetsnaz, who belong to a military faction opposed to Reina. Konev and his unit are rescued by Centurion Bob Hardt and his men from the imperium, there as observers to the impending Russian occupation. As Russia and the imperium (and Japan and the Habsburg Empire) are the four spokes of the Polar Alliance, they occasionally work together. Reluctantly.

Some things happen and Konev’s unit is sent northeast to see if Saskatoon is also under the ice. On the way they encounter a peddler with a horse-drawn cart. He’s deeply creeped out by this. Some hours later, they see that Saskatoon has been abandoned. However, a small tribe of locals, preparing to leave to the south, are burying four of their own. They describe how a demon, disguised as a peddler, stole the flesh off of the four before killing them.

They move southeast to reunited with the brigade around Regina. Told to scout ahead east once more, they come to a surprise stop outside of Brandon. The Spetsnaz who killed that mayor have taken a Canadian officer prisoner, dragging him behind their vehicle like a dog. A fight between the units nearly ensues and Konev takes possession of the prisoner. He immediately realized he is a she: Lt. Eloise Patel. Concussed and battered, she can barely stammer out her name and rank, only saying a single name before passing out: Bob Hardt.

Wrap up of Part One tomorrow. Some pull quotes below the fold.

“I allow you to delay your operation by three days.  If I do not perceive your forces in motion east at that time, your career is over.  Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba shall be ours by October if you wish to see your family again.”

The screen went blank.

That left little to the imagination.  For all she has done, Reina is a harsh mistress to the Rodina.


“Sergeant Akunin,” he tried to be polite.  The fellow with his legs up on the chair opposite him took a moment to pretend that he didn’t know there were others about him.  Spetsnaz bastard.

“Konev.  Back from Edmonton already?” Akunin asked without moving.

“That city’s dead,” he replied.  “Nothing to scout; nothing to report.”

“Must be nice.”

“Not as nice as sitting about before an offensive,” Konev said.  That they were of the same rank kept him from being arrested.

“We,” Akunin finally opened his eyes, “are conserving our strength before the upcoming decisive defeat of the Canadian mongrels.”

He swung his feet down and sat up.

“I know it’s hard for you regulars to grasp, but Special Ops do not follow a clock, the sun, or even, sometimes, command.” He narrowed his dark gray eyes at Konev.  “Spetsnaz are given a task.  We complete it.  No questions asked.  By anyone.”


Konev heard the rifle report just a moment after a man three behind him jerked and fell to the ground.

At the apex of the interchange, they were perfect targets.  Dropping, they now had cover and concealment.  But we are trapped up here!  What happened?

One of the medics crawled to the wounded man who, alive, was doing his best to stay quiet.

And how in the hell are we to move without taking more casualties?  I thought the mayor and I had an understanding!

“Sergeant Konev?” he heard in English from the earbud in his left ear.  “This is Centurion Hardt.  In sixty seconds we’ll be laying smoke by mortar behind you.  As you move southeast you’ll see a small wooded area.  Go there.”

That imperial from yesterday morning?  Why was he helping…?  No time.  He looked back and gave a low, short whistle.  With all eyes on him, he made three gestures.  The forward five men of each of the ten-man lines drew grenades.

“Frag out!” Konev shouted, raising himself to his knee before lobbing his out.  The moment it was out of his hand he grabbed another.  “Smoke out!”


“Slow it down,” he ordered their driver while taking his field glasses from his belt.  A small, horse-drawn cart.  The cart was framed in a mix of aluminum and wood and not covered.  Pots, pans, and non-powered hand tools hung from hooks.

Some kind of traveling tinker or peddler?  But there’s no one here!  Or, if he’s the only one, does he charge extortionate rates?  No, that makes no sense:  any local farmer and his family would just shoot him and take the cart and everything in it.

“Come to a stop about twenty meters from that cart,” he said.  He leaned over his shoulder.  “Pietor?  Get up on the machine gun and cover me once we’re stopped.”

The cart stopped just as the two Tigrs did.  Looks like an old man.  Konev opened his door and stepped down.  He zipped his jacket up against the freezing wind from the north as he did.  Some steps later had him looking up at the peddler.

He looks old; not old. Sick; not sick. His eyes are black and dead but the skin of his arms and hands holding the reins are like that of a young man.


They stood before the dead.  Snyder indicated for two other men to briefly unwrap them.  Konev saw a man and woman, late twenties.  Two late-teen boys.  He made a sharp intake of breath.

“Sergeant?” his medic asked.

One boy was missing all of the skin on both of his forearms.  The other his skin from his knees down.  He looked up to Snyder.

“This is unusual.  May I have your permission for my medic to briefly inspect your dead?  We mean no disrespect.”

“That’s okay, I guess,” the local shrugged.


It took everything Sergei Konev had in him to not reach for his machine pistol.  Slightly more to not grind his teeth while he spoke.

“Sergeant Akunin,” he said, once his team had slowly closed on them.  Being only six men, the Russian special forces team rated just an unarmored Tigr.  From the passenger side, where Akunin sat, there was a leash – no better word – out the window to a short-haired Canadian lieutenant, around his neck.  Exhausted from jogging to keep up with the Tigr, he was now on his hand and knees, gasping for air.

“Sergeant Konev.” This asshole won’t even get out to salute.  “Your team is in my way.  I have an enemy prisoner and must see them back to Brigade.”

“There is no formal state of war between Canada and our empire,” Konev tried, very slow, to not shout.  “And, this is not how we treat POWs, even if there were.”

“Oh, I don’t know!” he laughed and tugged at the leash.  “Come on!  Bark, bitch!”


In a smooth motion, Sergei’s knife was in his hand, cutting the lead, then back.  He knelt and lifted the officer…

“*cough* El…ho… Patl…*cough* ‘Nadianmy… serial nummer…” some numbers fell out.

Konev heard impetuous young Pietor just charge the lead Tigr’s machine gun.  He carefully lowered his right hand from the butt of his machine pistol to slowly raise the POW to their feet.

To her feet.  You goddam son of a bitch, Sergei raged in his mind.  You fuckers think this is the way forward?

“I am assuming authority of this person of interest,” he said, holding onto his control and shame of what his military would do.

“Are you?” Akunin taunted.  “We picked her up, a spy.  A little enhanced interrogation…”

Six against twenty.  Fuck their bat-badges.

“Stand to!” Konev shouted.  Pietor’s gun swiveled to point at Akunin’s head.  The other nineteen men spilled out of their vehicles and pointed their weapons.

“You’re starting this?” Akunin asked.  “Here?  Now?

“I… we serve the Rodina!” Sergei spat as the young woman barely dry heaved something onto his uniform jacket.  She’s dehydrated.  There must be a way out!  “We… we’re just soldiers.  Let the politicians work it out.”

“The politicians,” the Spetsnaz NCO said, turning, “will be erased.” 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s