Maks met with Wojciech and William as they were packing the UAZ just outside the Kraków city walls.

“Anyone after now, you speak with, remember… You’re a grunt. You tell them: The boss  don’t tell me anything.”

Maks unfolded the map. “Now let me tell you everything.”

They’d been through Silesia a few months ago, and left on good terms with the Markiz Julian Filipowicz.

Back then, they’d been sent to observe the Soviet 129th Motor Rifles heightened activity just to the north.

Maks and Wojciech had infiltrated into the 129ths OMG headquarters and assassinated General Kamarov in a confused night action. Maks brought Soviet plans back to the capital: Ivan was mustering for an assault directly into the heart of Silesia. The Raciborz main garrison camp – or Raciborz Castle itself – would be leveled by an American nuclear demolition charge the Reds had captured, and planned to smuggle into the city. Following the blast, the bulk of the 129th would push straight through to the Silesian capital with the goal of decapitation, take over the whole operation for themselves no doubt.

It was an anti-climax. With their charismatic division commander General Kamarov dead, the 129th fell into a series of spasms as the new chain of command tried to assert itself. Ultimately, much of the division marched en masse, east out of the area. Home.

The Spetsnaz party never arrived in Raciborz with the nuke. The whole incident ended in a whimper. The Markiz, unable to recruit Maks’ party into his service, designated Maks as Silesian ambassador-at-large.

So they were heroes of Silesia. Maks smiled. That had to be worth something, right?

Except the Markiz had changed in the past three months.

Filipowicz’ Silesia had been on a success run all Summer. Towns to the north and west, recently vacated by the 129th, the Markiz quickly annexed those communities into his Greater Silesia. He built a the Raciborz-Gliwice highway. Recovery operations in the industrial ruins from Katowice to Gliwice were ongoing.

But the Markiz was also secretive. Mysterious. Fleeing officials and citizens arriving in Kraków, had described disappearances, leadership purges, and rising labor mandates on the citizenry.

Folks are now calling him Krol. King. The Markiz hasn’t crowned himself. Yet.

Maks, Wojciech and William were planning to travel openly, along the main highways toward Pyskowice, where they had worked with Baron Esterhalzy.

The Markiz and the commander of the American cavalry unit in Dobrodzien were in a face-off. Maks had decided to insert himself into the situation, see if he could break the impasse.

5 October 2000 Embark detail

At Chrzanow, a Silesian garrison checkpoint stopped them for questioning. Maks name-dropped his connections in Silesia, said they were returning from opening up trade down the Vistula River. Soldiers looked in the back of the UAZ at the modest cargo.

A sergeant was called over to their jeep. [Top motivation card: Diamond King “Selfish”] He had Maks repeat the story. Said they’d need to pay for a travel permit. Maks sighed internally. He claimed no gold or currency, but proffered an HK-69 grenade launcher in “payment” for the travel permit. The sergeant slung his “confiscated” thumper, hand-wrote a travel pass, and signed it personally. On request, he gave Maks advice on road conditions ahead.

A few klicks before the ruins of Katowice, there was yet another checkpoint. This time the troops wore no set uniform. But all had red armbands with white eagle emblems.

The “checkpoint” was a bus blocking the road. It looked very temporary, but not particularly hostile. A vehicle was stopped, the driver speaking with three armed people. These people were likely partisans from the Wojsko Ludowa (WL). He’d heard little about them.

Maks reversed course, and took small country lanes back to the Silesian checkpoint they’d passed previously. If there were any partisans in waiting or pursuit, they didn’t show themselves.

They told the Markiz’ sergeant of what they’d seen. He quickly mustered the mobile forces of his company to go combat the WL.

Maks offered to help.

The fight will be next week. After a hiatus, we’re back in the saddle again.