24 October 2000
Maks and team were waved through several of the Baron’s checkpoints. When they arrived at the Stacja Muzeum, the area was swarming with the Baron’s soldiers. Some were walking the rail lines, tossing debris to the side. Others were climbing on the rail stock. Men followed with clipboards, shouting orders.
Maks gritted his teeth. Early bird gets the worm, apparently. At least the troops were mostly unarmed, per their agreement. Mostly.
Baron Czarny was speaking to his officers and NCOs, telling them this was the beginning of a lucrative trade with the Soviets.
“These trains will be bringing back caviar, vodka and women!” The men cheered.
The Baron walked over to Maks, flanked by ten of his elite Black Guard.
“Colonel Maksymilian Zając, we finally meet!”
Maks replied with tense pleasantries.
The Baron fixed him with a stare. “So… satisfy my curiosity. What happened in Silesia?”
“A man who I thought was trustworthy, was not.”
Czarny nodded, expression unreadable. He seemed to wait for elaboration, and then nodded when no more was forthcoming.
They walked together, looking about the museum’s railyard. It was dwarfed by an even larger rail yard to the southwest.
The Baron gestured over to the armored heavy railway cruiser. Maks had seen it earlier, and wanted it very much.
Panzertriebwagen Nr.16. Captured from the Germans in World War II.
“However, Colonel, the armored train… It remains here. It’s mine. Tell your people to stay away from it.”
“We agreed I would have first pick!” Maks retorted.
“It would be criminal to waste the armored train on your one-way trip west. No, it will be very useful here.”
“Maybe nobody will have it then,” Maks intoned.
The Baron arched an eyebrow. “I’ll post a guard. Any saboteurs will be shot of course.”
Maks squinted. “There are other ways.”
The Baron smiled frostily. He started to say something, then appeared to change tack. “Oh, colonel, simply agree to this one point, and you’ll find me quite reasonable going forward. There is plenty of rail stock to recover here. And you need my men. Alone, this project would take you weeks or months. Winter will arrive any day now.”
“OK, then I want you to give me a bulldozer and a backhoe. They’ll be useful on my trip.” Maks stared at him.
Czarny waved a gloved hand expansively. “Agreed. And fuel for them as well. Let’s get started.”