Author Topic: Icy Hell (PG-13, war violence, swearing)  (Read 1024 times)

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Offline Gearbox

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Icy Hell (PG-13, war violence, swearing)
« on: April 11, 2012, 02:24:35 am »
The boom of an artillery shell accompanied by the earth vibrating was all it took to shake Helmut out of his sleep and cause the pleasant vision in his mind to evaporate. As he opened his eyes, there was a brief moment of confusion, followed by disappointment as he remembered where he was.

He groaned involuntarily before pushing the stained gray blanket off of his body and reluctantly standing up, scanning the room with narrowed eyes. The three Hindenburg candles scattered around the basement gave off just enough light for him to make out the gray lumps of his squadmates, lying motionless in their slumber as if petrified.

Another groan, this time disappointed escaped Helmut’s muzzle as he stomped blood into his freezing legs and donned his helmet. Even through his fur the icy steel bit at his skin, though the feeling was quickly ignored as he stepped over the snoring Leutnant, pausing only to pick up his rifle. Freezing temperatures and Soviet artillery be damned, the forward post needed ammo.

The snow-covered Hanomag 251 transport parked in a shell crater behind the bombed-out house was still there, ready as ever with its rear door open and the ammunition boxes within waiting. It wasn’t until Helmut reached the half-track when he noticed the two soldiers in the back, both curled up under layers upon layers of dirty cloth. After a momentary glance at each figure he slung his rifle and reached for what he came for: the boxes of 7.92mm machine gun ammunition. As he lugged them out of the hauler, he discovered they were heavier than he remembered; his left paw lost its grip and sent the canister to the ground with a painfully loud clank, eliciting a muttered curse from Helmut before its retrieval.

He was just about to cross the street when a faint whistle reached his ears, immediately followed by a thunderous explosion and the shop across the street losing part of its second story. Goddamn artillery! Helmut knew Metzger’s squad was in the building next to the one hit, and hoped that no casualties had been taken.

He paused to pull his winter coat tighter around his scrawny frame before picking the ammunition back up and sprinting across the street, ducking into a doorway for cover. After a few seconds, he was confident enough in his safety to expose himself again, this time hugging the buildings for cover.

Another thirty meters up the street, the dog threw himself behind a pile of rubble, straining his eyes to make out the shapes of the soldiers inside the building up ahead. There was the forward outpost – and not a moment too soon! The ammunition that was held limply at his sides felt a little lighter as Helmut stood back up and loped for the half-destroyed building directly in front of him. Maybe he could even bum a few cigarettes for his trouble, if the guys were in good enough moods.

After a few seconds more, he reached the building and laid down behind a low concrete wall. “I’ve brought ammunition.”

Several pairs of eyes turned his way, but only one of them spoke, in a low voice that set the tone of the outpost. “Take it over there, to Lehrer. He’s down to the last belt for his machine gun.”

Helmut nodded and crawled over to the machine gunner, who had his MG34 propped up in a partially destroyed window, rubble stacked around it to provide extra cover. By the way the tiger’s eyes were flickering and his head was slumped against the stock of his weapon, it looked like Lehrer had been up all night – though his symptoms subsided as soon as the munitions bringer harshly set down the cans of ammo next to him, the loud metallic noise shaking him awake. Lehrer looked around confused for a moment before noticing the ammunition-holding dog next to him and changing his expression to one of contentment. “Thanks a lot.”

Helmut scanned the darkness in front of him, the flames of the occasional burning building casting a faint red glow on his brown fur. “Don’t mention it. So, how is it up here?”

“Do you really need to ask? Well, two days ago we captured this area with the help of some close air support, and I guess the Reds weren’t too happy about it.” The gunner picked up an ammunition box and placed it to the left of his machine gun, opening the top so he would be able to reach the fresh rounds at a moment’s notice. “Smart move coming up during the early morning – those who have tried to make it during the day always end up getting picked off by Ivan’s snipers.”

The canine nodded. “I thought some armor was going to try breaking through this sector yesterday.”

Lehrer spat. “They tried. Little did we know Ivan mined the two streets they went through. Treads got blown clean off the lead tanks, and then a couple of Stalinorgel decided to rain hell down on them. Three tanks destroyed, two more heavily damaged. The rest retreated.”

Helmut was about to reply, but then he heard something, a noise that broke the stillness of the black void in front of him. It sounded like voices and footsteps, but he couldn’t be sure...

Then an engine flared to life. His heart jumped into his throat, there was no questioning it: Ivan was on the move, and so close to the outpost! As he looked to the others, it was obvious they had heard it too. Soldiers that were lying around sleepily moments before were now scrambling to defensive positions, crawling behind whatever might stop a bullet and readying rifles.

“Everyone take your stands. Wait until Fischer takes his shot. They will be easier targets.” The Unteroffizier’s command was a loud whisper, just audible enough for everyone to hear it. Helmut looked around frantically; he didn’t know who Fischer was, nor why the Unteroffizier had such faith in him. But figures could be seen advancing now, silhouetted against the flames of burning buildings as if they were marching straight out of hell. Helmut pressed his body to the snow and aimed through the sights of his carbine. He had shot at Reds before, but never anything near this close. And he still didn’t know what that damn motor belonged to...

As if on cue, a tank burst through the darkness, painted dark green with a red star on both sides of the turret. Helmut felt the blood drain from his face; it was a light tank but he hadn’t seen any anti-tank measures, and that meant they were as good as dead. Following the armored beast came soldiers clad in mud-colored uniforms, clutching submachine guns and rifles while looking around for any sign of their enemy. He exhaled and thumbed his rifle’s safety off, all the while wondering how the tank was going to kill him, by shell or by machine gun.

Boom!

Helmut flinched at the unexpected noise, the sheer volume of it making his ears ring. But as he looked back out to the open area in front of his position he realized it had not been the tank firing on their position, but of a weapon above and behind him, causing the tank's left tread to blow off and the vehicle to grind to a halt. In an instant he realized why the ambush was on Fischer’s signal: he was armed with an anti-tank rifle.

As the world was drowned out with gunfire he tightened his gloved paw around the Karabiner’s trigger, causing his target to crumple and fall. He worked the bolt-action and fired again, causing a Red to duck and run behind a burned-out truck. Right before Helmut got his third round off he could see Fischer’s second shot penetrate the side of the tank’s turret, causing an interior explosion and taking the BT-7 out of action. This seemed to demoralize Ivan, he thought, noticing several of the soldiers retreating into the cover of darkness. His fourth shot missed, but the fifth kick to his shoulder brought an enemy to his knees and then his stomach.

“Hold steady! They’re starting to fall back!”

The encouraging words combined with the sight of Ivan fleeing filled Helmut with an air of confidence as he jammed a new stripper clip into his rifle. It seemed that all the Reds were now retreating back into the darkness. Gradually the gunfire ceased, leaving the harsh, biting wind as the only sound over what was just moments before a hellish inferno.

Helmut rose to a crouch and gave Lehrer a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “I’m going to head back to my Schwadron now, best of luck holding Ivan off.”

The feline machine gunner managed a weak grin as the ammunition bearer turned reinforcement turned and headed back. Helmut headed off at a fairly quick pace, his torso hunched over to present a smaller target in case there were any more Reds nearby.

As it turned out, there was. One last Soviet soldier huddled behind the burning BT-7 was able to catch a glimpse of the dog through the early morning darkness, and capitalized on the opportunity.

Just as the building he had woken up in mere minutes ago came into view what felt like a superheated blade ripped through Helmut’s right shoulder, and the canine yelled involuntarily as he dropped to the ground, clutching the source of the pain. He could feel his field shirt and winter coat becoming wet from the inside out, and while he didn’t have to reach inside them to know what had happened he did anyway.

“M-medic! Medic!”

He was surprised at how calm his voice was, even though the snow he was lying in was now being slowly stained red. Helmut crawled towards the building made it behind a pile of shattered concrete before two friendly soldiers ran up to him. He recognized them; they were the two sleeping in the half-track earlier. The one with a face covering immediately pressed a field dressing to his wound while the arctic fox ran into the house, calling for Bauer, the Schwadron medic.

“You’re going to make it, didn’t hit anything vital… look, here comes Bauer now.”

Helmut moaned in pain and looked up at the medic, who promptly cut away his coat and field shirt around the wound. After a quick shot of morphine and the wound being properly bandaged, the wounded dog’s vision started to blur. Voices became unintelligible mumbles and the crash of artillery shells gradually faded away, until unconsciousness took him.

Offline FelixTheFox

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Re: Icy Hell (PG-13, war violence, swearing)
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2012, 04:19:38 am »
Amazing story. I have to admit- I actually shed a tear on the last couple of paragraphs
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