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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."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 55

Mr. and Mrs. Kazakh,

It is my regretful duty to report to you that your son, Lieutenant Darbet Kazakh, has been killed serving Mongolia. He died valiantly in battle. A charge of Russian leapers killed him, along with many of his mates.

I’ve served with your son for a very long time, since the beginning of the Russian campaign. I was with him at Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk, and Lake Baikal. Your son fought like a true Manchurian at all of them. He was a brave and adept soldier. In fact, he had finally served his term. You may know that if he sent you a letter to that effect.

But, after all this time, Darbet was finally leaving the army. He, along with I and many others from the front, had to be sent back to Sühbaatar for our discharge papers and back pay. Darbet’s paperwork was being processed when the treacherous Russians crossed the border and attacked us at Sühbaatar.

Though Darbet was no longer technically in the Golden Army, he took up an AS gun and fought courageously with the rest of us. Sühbaatar is, as you know, a waystation, where military personnel are dispatched to the front. Machinery and weapons are dispatched from another point. (I apologize, security precludes me from saying where.) So, there were many men and women at Sühbaatar, on their way elsewhere, but very few weapons of war.

The Russians, on the other hand, attacked us with an almost entirely armored force. Tanks, leapers, motorcycle squads, and everything else they had. The Golden Army’s infantry can stand up to any other infantry, but I must say that against armor, even we are not effective.

I remember your son’s death very clearly. I was not merely his commander, we were close friends. I do not know whether I should tell you this, but I think it is my obligation to do so.

Russian tanks were pouring through the streets, attacking us from all sides. Many men tried to take positions in buildings, and fire down upon the tanks with heavy weaponry from above. They did little to the tanks, but a lot of motorcyclists were killed in that way. The motorcycle squads were swarming around behind the tanks in order to attack troops who had not been killed in the initial assault.

Many of us, like Darbet and I, still stayed in the streets to try to at least slow the Russian troops down. Many of us had grenade launchers (we found AS guns did little against the armor of the tanks). So often Darbet was charging forward to attack the tanks, I had to pull him back. Your son was nearly suicidal in his patriotism. I wouldn’t have him die on me though.

Bloodily, we were forced back inch by inch through the streets of Sühbaatar. We finally found a large group of reinforcements on the outskirts of the city, veterans returning from war and new recruits just leaving. We were ordered not to be pushed back any farther, to make a stand right there. We managed to hold the Russian tanks at bay, but suddenly leapers were falling into our midsts. The giant frog tanks came down, fired, then leapt away again. One of the leapers fell down on top of Darbet. When the retreat was finally ordered, I made certain to carry your son’s remains with me, so he could be buried properly. I’m very sorry, but it was the best I could do.

You have my deepest condolences, and I wish I could offer some words of cheer. I can not, except to say that your son was a true warrior, and fought for our cause like few other men have. I will see to it that Darbet is awarded the Emperor’s Medal posthumously. He certainly deserved it.

In Deepest Sorrow,
Colonel Bura Karakoram, 76th Mongolian Heavy Infantry

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