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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 21, Part 1

Lewandowski smiled grimly. He straightened out the officer’s cap on his head. When the hysterical rioting had finally died down after two days of terrible destruction, he decided that he needed to organize his forces. His first action was to get all the women and children out of the city. Even though modern armies accepted women as an integral part of combat forces, Poland was still of the old school, believing in chivalry and the idea that war was a masculine art. So all the members of the fairer sex, all boys under eighteen, and all men who were too old to fight, were shipped to the safety of the fields outside of Warsaw proper.

He next distributed the weapons more aptly. In the fury of those first few nights, the Eastern armory had been taken by the Poles, but weapons went to those who grabbed them first. Some men were sitting on whole piles of machine guns and mortars and ammo. When he was able to carefully assess the situation, Lewandowski insisted that every man in his force was given a weapon.

He knew he would never be able to establish a proper uniform, so he simply demanded that everyone wear a helmet. He found that military gear just seemed to crop up. Men found themselves wearing tunics, blouses, flak jackets, fatigues, jackboots, and everything else. It gave them a ragtag sense of unity

Then he established a chain of command. He had rooted out as many men as he could find who had fought in the war. He had found that he was not the highest ranking former officer. Still, the people looked upon him as their leader, so even the former captains and majors whom he had dug up subordinated themselves to him. He assigned all the former officers appropriately sized forces of rioters. He had given each of these men a single officer’s cap from the precious supply he had found in an old building. Everyone had taken to calling him “general” immediately, though he constantly insisted that they not call him that.

So now he had a fighting force. They were poorly disciplined, and many were not skilled in the arts of war at all. Still, it was a force, and they were Poles, a stalwart and courageous people as a whole. By the time the initial surprise of the riot had lost it’s impetus, Lewandowski had organized the rioters into an army. The Easterners had at first been beaten by the sheer brutal madness, but by the time they had regrouped and prepared for rioting, they were forced to deal with an organized force. So Warsaw was still a killing ground, and it had now broken down into vicious street fighting.

“They’re better disciplined than we are,” Lewandowski said to his colonel, “And if this slugging match goes on for very much longer, they’re going to get the upper hand. I’d say we’ve done all the damage we’re going to do. Now we’re just fighting a holding action. It’s suicide to wait around here for fresh Eastern reinforcements. What do you think, colonel?”

The single colonel left over from the war had done his best to introduce Lewandowski to higher echelon tactical thinking. They had both quickly discovered that the former lieutenant was a natural tactical genius. He reluctantly admitted that he was a good enough leader to be called a general, even if he had no official claim to the title.

“I say we get out of here while we still can. If Igoumensita decides to send a division or two our way, we’re doomed.”

“I say we gradually move west. We’ll drag the remaining Easterners out of their holes, making them think that they’re finally beating us out of the city. But really we’ll be drawing them out in the open where we can deal with them as we wish. Our objective is to reach Germany, a safe Allied country, and then we’ll see what has to be done.”

What Lewandowski meant, really, was that in all likelihood they would reach Germany and disperse. And his use of the word “safe” had been partly sarcastic, because Germany was quite clearly threatened by the East. Odds were very good that Lewandowski’s gang would be apprehended by the Easterners and treated as criminals. The Eastern Bloc was notorious for it’s savage treatment of all criminals, especially revolutionaries.

So they moved out. A sad nostalgic wind blew as they abandoned their homes and trudged out into the countryside. The sound of gunfire off to the east was a constant reminder that there was still a sizeable Eastern contingent to deal with, as well as a huge expanse of Polish land to pass through before reaching the relative sanctuary of Germany.

By centimeters and meters Lewandowski laid down a brilliant fighting retreat. He carefully whittled down the Easterners, and whittled away their morale. He laid down as many traps as he could think of for his adversaries. As the Eastern tanks rolled onto minefields and the troops fell into tiger traps, they began to slowly give up the chase.

A terrifying explosion brought tons of rocks falling down into a mountain pass that the Polish rebels had passed through. This blocked off the Easterners once and for all. There was no longer any hope of catching up with their prey.

And so the Poles crossed the border, and entered the refuge of Germany.

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