20 October 2000
Maks and his crew, now over two score men under arms, were in Góra Kalwaria, just up river from the blasted ruins of Warsaw. Thirty-two of them were Americans who were ready to go home. The fleet massing in Bremerhaven would leave 15 November 2000.
He had a great plan: Recover a locomotive and rail cars from the Stacja Muzeum. They were just sitting there. Wreckage would need to be cleared, either requiring a lot of bodies or a lot of time. Maks didn’t have time.
Another complication: The rail museum was firmly in the territory of Baron Czarny.
Maks couldn’t count on a great reception. He’d threatened the Black Baron with a photo of the tacnuke from Operation Reset. And led the defense of Góra Kalwaria against a concerted assault by the Baron’s forces. It had been a costly fight for both sides. The defeat prompted a number of the Baron’s troops to desert. Which then led to the Baron abandoning an attack on Sielce.
So the Baron had plenty of reason to be uncooperative.
That awesome portrait of the Baron is by the legendary Liz Danforth.
Events in our campaign took a different path than what is assumed in the Ruins of Warsaw adventure module. Maks and his party, instead of fighting in Warsaw, drew out the river pirates (Korsarz) into a fight at Góra Kalwaria, and then led the citizens of that town to repel the subsequent ground attack by the Baron’s army.
Without his river allies to keep Sielce and the Floating City distracted, and stemming a wave of desertions after the defeat at Góra Kalwaria, the Baron looked ahead at the imminent arrival of winter, and keeping his little army provisioned. He decided to give peace a chance. For now.
Ruins of Warsaw assumes the Baron is defeated and driven out of the city in late summer. The module Return to Warsaw has the party arrive in Poland in the spring of 2001, and the Baron is attempting to take the city once more, from the outside.
I have fused elements of both modules, with some developments of my own, to adapt the Twilight 2000 canon to our particular campaign specifics.
Maks questioned Bowen further on his contact in Warsaw. Bowen told him he only ever spoke with the contact by radio, and he used the code name Blue Sea. He didn’t know who the man was, only that he was in a position of some power in the Baron’s hierarchy. Bowen would likely recognize his voice if he heard it though.
The two had swapped intel, including about Maks and the Fire Knights. Bowen claimed that, despite the developments in Warsaw, the Baron had issued a “Do Not Kill” order on Maks, whatever that meant.
Maks took all of his people the short trip down the river in the tug Wisla Krolowa to Warsaw, docking up to all the boats harbored in the Floating City.
The Soviet 10th Tank Division was nearby, but they’d been quiet lately. Maks had routine radio check-ins with Johnstone, the CIA operative guiding the unit defecting en masse. Johnstone had indicated all was not well in the unit, but had not elaborated.
Meeting up with Adam’s nephew Filip, who led the community of Sielce, Maks laid out his plans for the railroad out of Warsaw. Filip wasn’t impressed. An open railroad would only strengthen the Baron’s hand. But Sielce owed Maks for fighting the war they would have themselves fought, and perhaps Filip could turn the armistice into a lasting peace with the Baron. Assuming the Baron actually went along with the plan.
The Baron had been sending mixed signals. There were still occasional fire incidents on Sielce patrols in No Man’s Land. But it was unclear whether these were directly ordered by the Baron, or simply grunts with itchy trigger fingers.
Before they ever reached the Floating City, merchant river traffic through Warsaw were being sold alcohol and wood downriver from the Baron’s men, at somewhat extortionate rates. The merchants regarded it as taxes or protection money, depending on who you talked to.
The Baron had opened a market of sorts in between his territory and Sielce. It had got off to a rocky start, but was now the scene of uneasy trade. Sielce brought harvested food. The Baron originally wanted to sell slaves, but that was rejected, so instead he offered recovered inventory (“Loot and plunder” from surrounding communities, Filip spat out).
This wholesale market would be a good place for Maks to make contact with one of the Baron’s men. He drafted up a letter, introducing himself, and his plan: Clear the tracks out of town toward Łódź and Piotrokow, and recover rail stock, including the museum locomotives. Maks indicated he and his men would leave, never to return, and the Baron would have usable track, allowing for lucrative trade with the Soviet cantonments to the southwest.
22 October 2000
A day passed with no response. Maks looked at the calendar with apprehension. If they were going to miss the target date for Bremerhaven, it would be best to abort that mission here, not in the middle of war-torn Germany. At least here they had the option to evacuate with CivGov out through the Balkans.
Finally a reply came, agreeing to a meet at the market. Maks was to bring no more than ten men, and the Baron’s emissary would do the same.
Maks expected treachery, and smirked, thinking that the Baron no doubt anticipated the same in return.
As it happened, the meet went off without a hitch. The Baron’s emissary was a Major Anatol Wilk, with whom Maks had some… negative… history. Despite that, the discussion was cordial. Wilk squinted through Coke-bottle spectacles, scribbling notes in a writing pad he held with his prosthetic arm. He asked numerous questions, and was particularly interested in the Soviet use of railroad in the Łódź/Piotrokow region, and their ample supply of coal. The meet concluded, and Wilk promised to pass the idea to the Baron.
23 October 2000
A message arrived, signaling the Baron’s interest in the plan, and called for another meet to hammer out some details. Still nervous, Maks and his people met once again with Major Wilk. This time however, the Baron himself was present, along with ten soldiers of his elite Black Guard. The Baron Czarny seemed content to observe the meet from a distance. Every time Maks glanced over, the Baron was watching intently.
The Baron enthusiastically supported the plan, Wilk reported. Indeed, he offered as many of his men Maks wanted as laborers, unarmed… plus a few armed guards for protection of course. With enough manpower, Maks could perhaps clear the tracks of wreckage in one day. Maks was both pleased and discomfited at once.
Wilk requested that the Baron be allowed to speak to the Americans in Mak’s crew, to recruit more veterans for the Baron’s army. Maks agreed, insisting that each man in his unit was free to go at any time.
The Major told Maks that the Baron (“His Eminence”) was very interested in trade by railroad with the Soviets. They planned to send their own emissary to the Soviets, as a tag-along with Mak’s train out, and return on their own to Warsaw.
Maks had a lot on his mind.