12 August 2000
The party set out to Kraków.
They’d already brought both vehicles to Raciborz, fully loaded, so there was no need to return to Pyskowice. This was fortunate as later events unfolded. They’d head directly east to the Free City.
Before they left, there were several news items:
Marczak’s Legion (former Czech 8th BGB) is operating south of Gluchohlazy, allegedly loyal to America. While there was a Soviet threat to the northeast, the Markiz ignored their presence as an anti-Soviet partisan unit. With the Soviets gone, Marczak’s intermittent raids of Gluchohlazy & Prudnik are now subject of his attention. The Markiz is courting those towns to join his growing Silesia.
The Markiz knows an unidentified American in Kraków is supplying them, has already intercepted one shipment of weapons, and wants that support ended for good. That was his one request of Maks’ team.
Sister Basia was successful in her plea for assistance from the Markiz in help to rebuild her convent in Kalisz. Quite more than she hoped for in fact. The ruler is sending a large contingent: Architects, builders, supplies, trade goods, food, guards, and representatives. Kalisz is far too distant for the Markiz to directly annex – yet – but clearly he’s laying groundwork for the future, exercising soft power, hearts & minds, and all that.
She’s simultaneously elated and a touch unnerved. Sister Basia definitely wants to continue to Krakow to ask for aid there as well. Henryk Rapacki, the wealthy Kraków trader, told her he’d meet with her there to see what assistance he could offer, and introduce her to other persons in the Free City. This offer was made out of earshot of the Markiz.
Maks could tell she’s feeling out of her depth dealing with these powerful individuals.
As they were leaving, Maks saw Major Steve Wolf with Sgt Nowak and 2 enlisted Americans prepping a Humvee for travel. They were setting off to visit the American troops in Rybnik and the encampment outside Gliwice (that is the HQ of salvage operations in the ruins). “Show the flag; there are so few of us here.” And later to Kraków, see if there are any Americans there in contact with Army Command in Germany.
Major Wolf and Maks set a comms protocol.
A Carnivale was just arriving in Raciborz, a large convoy with equipment packed. The party saw the bearded lady, the strong man… and a pair of child mutants, maybe three years old. One (or two really) were siamese twins, and the other had overly-large, weepy eyes.
The party set off to Kraków by way of back country roads. They had been told of the city of Oswiecim, better known by its German translation, Auschwitz. The chemical plants on the east side of the river had been bombed by NATO back in ’97. The resulting chemical fog had killed many, and the city was evacuated. Now the city was thought to be cursed, shunned by the locals.
Naturally the party wanted to visit.
The road there was quiet, with very little traffic. They encountered a band of Christian pilgrims on foot [Our interpretation of “Straggler” encounter result]. The party stopped, and Sister Basia spoke with the pilgrims and they prayed briefly.
Oswiecim was a ghost town, abandoned, untouched buildings encroached by three years of plant growth. Maks had a chemical sniffer deployed, but it was meant for gases of war. Nothing untoward was detected, and the silence was eerie.
William spotted a motorcycle trailing them, and recognized it from Raciborz. Hmm, strange.
As they were crossing the bridge over the Soła River eastward, the party spotted two vehicles heading their way, 700 meters away. They moved their vehicles well off the road into some trees, as Maks observed from cover near the highway.
The humvee and a Soviet deuce-and-a-half apparently hadn’t spotted them. They were filled with men wearing various scraps of uniforms. But as they were passing the hidden party, they did spot the motorcycle. It hurriedly buzzed off the road out of sight.
The (apparent) marauders continued west down the highway. The party resumed its eastward trek. By Kety, William spotted a pickup truck, also one he’d seen back in Raciborz. Hmm, strange.
At Wadowice, it was now 1600H. It was the set time for Maks and Major Wolf to make comms contact on the radio if either were making the attempt. Major Wolf was indeed on the radio, with an alarming report.
“We got bushwhacked south of Gliwice. My men and I were in two vehicles. Humvee in front was taken out by a roadside bomb. Seems they hotwired a 122mm artillery shell. Then they went after the wounded guys in the Humvee, while engaging us in the rear truck with their MGs. They were attempting to carry my wounded away. It was a hard fight, but we killed them all. Lost two of my men, and another two are badly wounded.
We interrogated a prisoner before he died. I speak Russian, and this guy responded. Didn’t get much info out of him, but it felt personal, kept calling us ‘Yankee bastards’. Could be marauders, but they usually don’t push into Silesia anymore, and these guys were fanatical. My theory is that they were KGB, unhappy with you for your 129th MRD op, and they thought we were with you guys. Thanks for that. Anyhow, thought I’d warn you to watch your back Colonel.”
The Party continued to the outskirts of The Free City of Kraków.
The outermost blocks of the city were ruins, inhabited by a wretched segment of society. As they approached the medieval core of the city, conditions improved, and the buildings and inhabitants looking more civilized.
Then they reached their first city military checkpoint. They’d need papers, and they didn’t have any. The guard was inspecting their cargo, and Maks gifted him an M4 carbine in beautiful condition. The guard was impressed, and returned with residency papers, complete with golden apostille. He warned them that vehicles and weapons weren’t allowed in the city center, and the war was outlawed in Kraków.
The party turned around, looking for an empty shell of a building to bivouac their vehicles, and get some rest. They had some sightseeing and trading to do tomorrow.