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CyberWar
June 9th, 2015, 03:25 AM
There is one thing that all wars have in common, from the first time a man tied a flint point to a shaft with the explicit intent to stick it into another man's heart to the present age of missiles obliterating cities anywhere on the world within half-hour's notice at the push of a button. That thing is hierarchy.

Tools of warfare may change, and we as a species have gone a long way from flint-tipped spears to thermonuclear ICBMs, but the general hierarchy that warfare revolves around hasn't changed one bit. It's always been about the many getting maimed and dying for the whims of the few, and it doesn't matter if it's two tribal chiefs stirring up their tribes to brawl over a downed mammoth, a drunk Viking konung who gets the idea that his neighboring konung is a cowardly bastard who should be taught a lesson, or the parliament of a modern nation deciding that tanks and cruise missiles would make excellent tools to promote their idea of freedom and democracy abroad along with more conventional means like television and newspapers. The fact of the matter is, people who honestly don't give two shits about the said feuds are always the ones doing the dying.

That's just how things are. Leaders are going to lead, and the followers are going to follow, and I don't have a problem with that. But there is, however, one particular type of leader that I detest in particular. It's the kind of guy who stirs up a shitstorm, fucks up everything he possibly can in the process, is the first to run to safety when shit really starts hitting the fan, and doesn't even have the decency to stay around and finish the job when the whole world finally reeks of shit. It's the kind of guy who will let others clean up all the crap left behind by him and then claim all the credit for the clean-up. And the lot of modern politicians are just that kind of people.

Four years. Four fucking years we've been out here, risking our lives every day for decisions someone else made for us. We never asked questions, we never complained, we always did what was asked of us. And yet here we are, sitting in some smelly shithole bar in France, sipping some cheap swill that tastes like piss and has been pompously labelled by the establishment as "beer", and watching TV where our beloved leaders are openly considering selling us out. For the common good, they say, to end the war.

---

"I don't believe this..." Katz angrily snarls, "Those motherfuckers are seriously considering to give up on the Baltics just like that! After all we've done in their service!"

"Let's hope the military has more sway with the Yank government than these anti-war populist shit-for-brains!" Fender agrees, "If the Yanks really agreed to the Russian terms and sold Eastern Europe out, Russians would be the least of their concerns in Europe!"

"And yet they have a lot of popular support. The anti-war movement, they say, is now stronger than back during 'Nam," I say, "I just can't believe so many people across the pond have their heads stuck so far up their asses they even consider the possibility of conceding to the Ivans! Especially after Strasbourg!"

"I figure Strasbourg is precisely why they are willing to concede," Hog states, "This whole war has been a button's push away from going all-out nuclear ever since, so no wonder the many are scared shitless."

Meanwhile, the TV newscast shows a mass demonstration in the streets of Washington. Lots of poster waving with the usual "No more bombs" and "Stop the war", lots of pinko leftie tree-hugger dipshits screaming about preventing their sons from coming home in body bags.

"If some nameless plots of land that nobody can even find on the map are what it takes to stop this madness, then so be it!" an interviewed protester shouts on the screen.

His comment is met with furious shouting and booing here in the bar. Someone flings a boot at the TV, narrowly missing it.

"Turn that shit off!" I shout to the bartender, my own blood boiling with rage.

The lad behind the counter has already figured out that part by himself and hastily switches channels, the soothing beat of a pop song on MTV beginning to cool down the excited tempers in the room instead. We gradually calm down.

"Stupid fucks... They'll probably sell their own mothers if it allowed them to continue sitting on their fat asses in their comfy armchairs doing nothing and feeding their faces with junk food!" I grumble, "Fucking hippies..."

"Let's get drunk senseless tonight!" Fender proposes to change the subject.

---

Truth be told, for the last two weeks, we've been doing nothing but getting drunk senseless every other evening. The Yank protester who had the audacity to call our homelands "nameless plots of land that nobody can even find on a map" on live broadcast just serves as today's pretext.

The natives hold mixed sentiments about NATO soldiers, especially those from Eastern Europe. The Frenchies here seem to be more or less acquainted with Yanks and fellow Western Europeans and their ways. We Easterners, however, are still somewhat of an exotic unknown to them, folks who speak alien tongues yet curse mostly in Russian, drink exorbitant amounts of liquor that would probably be fatal to the average Frenchman, and are thoroughly uncultured and unemancipated, still firmly believing in stereotypes about French promiscuity and habitually referring to all people of African and Middle Eastern descent as "darkies".

That being said, the local womenfolk generally seem to like us for the same reason that the menfolk resent us for. War has made it rather easy to hook up, especially lately, after NATO reduced Strasbourg to plate glass along with a 100-click stretch along the Rhine as a final warning for Russians to end their advance. Afterwards, it's basically been a back-and-forwards grind across Central Europe, with the exception of our stay in Syria and the ill-fated amphibious assault on Sevastopol, which probably left the lot of us sterile and tripping radiation alarms for months afterwards.

For now, things have largely ground down to a stalemate, a sort of Mexican stand-off with nuclear missiles in place of Colt revolvers. Frankly, I don't know if it's been the common sense of world's leaders, or just plain dumb luck that's kept nuclear exchanges to isolated incidents so far. That being said, who can really blame those politicians and their supporters for wanting to sell us Eastern Europeans out to the Russians, if that is the price to avert a nuclear armageddon... In any case, while they struggle to resolve the situation without rendering Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable, many people have come to believe the end of days is upon them and live it up like there's no tomorrow. If the lads from the Estonian brigade are to be believed, a circle of French women here in Metz have made it their business to "collect the cocks of Europe", to sleep with men of every nationality to be found in Europe before the world is reduced to irradiated ashes. The presence of a multi-national NATO contingent provides them with a good prospect of fulfilling their vow.

Men have mostly turned to drink instead and resent our success with their women. Violent brawls in the street have become so common the MPs and the gendarmerie can barely keep up with them all. There are incidents of rape, looting, random acts of violence, discipline is generally on the verge of breakdown, and only the reinstitution of capital punishment by numerous national armies has so far kept demoralized soldiers from indulging in worse excesses. I know for a fact it's even worse on the Russian side, as our latest largely futile run in Germany attested.

At least in this respect the Baltic Division which our battalion is part of remains somewhat reputable. We may drink like animals, fuck anything with a pair of tits, steal small, mostly edible things sometimes, and pick fights with anyone who looks at us the wrong way, but so far there have been no more serious incidents like rape or looting to stain our names. I hear the Polaks have particularly sinned in this matter lately. Not that we get any less heat for these things - for most part, the Frenchies either can't or just don't care to tell the difference. To them we are all orientales, or however they say "Easterners" in their tongue - half-Russian barbarians who are far more trouble than they're worth for all they care.

During our repeated stays in France, I can't help but come to think there's hardly a more arrogant people than the French in the world. The lot of them know English but refuse to speak it in principle, though the sheer amount of foreign soldiers making home in France these days has somewhat relaxed this prejudice. They take extreme pride in their martial history, though I can't recall any major war that the French would have won on their own since the days of Napoleon, being saved from total defeat by Brits and Yanks not counting as victory by my book. There's a running joke about that among the NATO troops - French tanks have six speeds on their gearboxes, because five are for driving backwards and one for driving forwards in parades. Then again, I can't help but credit their unswerving patriotism.

While many folk dislike us for our drinking and womanizing, others welcome us because our presence is good for business, especially business that sells food or liquor. And, obviously, women of questionable repute. More shady characters also offer forbidden pleasures in the form of narcotics. Although their use is at least formally strictly forbidden, the brass has plenty of more important things to deal with than soldiers getting doped on their leave. I've personally seen Yanks in the front lines using their rifles as improvised bongs, lighting up a wad of weed placed in the receiver and sucking smoke through the barrel, much like their fathers used to do in 'Nam. Obviously, things get even rowdier while on leave, away from the prying eyes of the brass.

Truth be told, even many among the officers are starting to lose their grip. After one of our latest drinking binges, I remember waking up with a terrible hangover, in the same bed with an equally hung-over Polish captain, and neither of us had any clue how we ended up there. And just last night, we saw the MPs drag a completely wasted British general-something to the stockade, the man barely able to walk and shouting threats of court-martial to his captors.

Fact is, the whole NATO force in Europe needs some action to get back into proper shape, and soon - or the Russians might just win us by attrition with their inherently-greater alcohol tolerance, at least so the recent barracks joke goes.

---

The Moon god is also a patron of soldiers in our ancestral lore. A man from our battalion was once a member of a folk band that sang patriotic songs, from those of Waffen-SS legionnaires and anti-Soviet guerillas to 13th century warriors. He is gone now, but not his songs. The Moon still shines brightly over us, and so do our feats shine in his honour. He would sing of young men burning Russian castles not in search of gold, but for the chance to till their fathers' fields in peace. Katz knows what I speak of, and so does Sparks. So too they hope for a glorious death and Valhalla, like I preach. Because hope for a better place is pretty much all that we have left.

The lads don't know, but Odin has visited me before. He visited me back in Strasbourg, when I saw two ravens fly overhead despite the nuclear fire-winds ravaging the place. He visited me after Sevastopol, when I had given up all hope, His valkyries picking up the fallen soul of a man lying in very front of me and taking him to the skies. He is not my ancestral god, yet I know that my ancestors and ancient Norsemen shared so much things in matters of faith as to make little difference in creed.

The radio is playing a brash and braggartly Yank song, a "Warrior Song" it is called. I've heard songs like this too many times before. The typical Yank recruits fresh from the boot camp come here brash and badass, hoping to whip some Russkies, only to be set straight after a half of their comrades lie dead, rotting in the ground somewhere between here and Warsaw. What's left of them usually become as hard-drinking and silent as us, drinking themselves into stupor alongside our folks.

We've managed to find three French chicks in their 20's and one MILF, who professes to love anal among other things. Katz is nowhere to be seen, probably busy with Sparks upstairs, while Fender is screwing the said MILF doggy-style and chugging down Jaegermeister with Coke from an extra-size beer mug. I'm busy drinking myself into stupor with whatever is on hand. Hog is busy drinking himself into stupor too, but is being more specific and uses his favourite brand of booze - good old-fashioned potato moonshine, courtesy of the lads from the Polish motorized brigade. The lot of us have been snorting coke beforehand. I have a lot of anger pent up in me, and I feel fucking sorry for myself.

"Here, buddy, have another line..." Katz comes down from upstairs, buckling his belt. He pours a pile of our hard-earned coke in front of me on the table and hands me the Merry Bill, our special 100-dollar bill for snorting coke. Because that's how coke is supposed to be snorted according to Hollywood films, so lesser bills just won't cut it.

I draw my khukri, the fabled Ghurka knife that I picked off some poor Nepalese bastard who didn't need it anymore shortly after Strasbourg, and use it to arrange the coke in a neat line. Suddenly, fancy strikes me, and I rearrange it in the shape of our home country.

"Hey, Katzy-boy, look at me - I'm gonna snort Fatherland from Riga to Riga!" I say.

Katz laughs as I take a deep breath and snort the entire line from the approximate whereabouts of our national capital back to the same whereabouts again. Sparks who has just come downstairs too, visibly ruffled, laughs too as she kisses him. Lucky bastards... They have each other to live for. I have nobody. My family has renounced me, and I have renounced my family. I have no parents, no children, no nobody. I will die alone like a dog. Maybe the lads will remember me as a footnote in their war-stories to their children. And when they die, so too I will die, forever forgotten and abandoned to oblivion.

"Fuck, this shit is good..."

"Hey, I wanna do Fatherland too!" Katz exclaims, pouring some more cocaine for me to arrange. I indulge him.

"Say, Katzy... When you and Sparks have kids after the war, what will you tell them about me..." I speak, reaching for my glass of something.

"What do you mean?" he retorts, "You're not intending to die, are you?"

"That's exactly what I fucking intend to do," I say grimly, "Embracing my gun and lying on a pile of dead Ivans. But you didn't answer my question!"

"Well, I'll tell them that I used to know a guy going by the nickname of Fascist, that he was a machinegunner, foul-mouthed and politically incorrect as fuck, knew plenty of lewd jokes and was pretty grim and sombre otherwise. What I won't tell them is that he now rests in Valhalla, because he won't be there - he will be at our wedding, and he will be the awesome badass godfather of our firstborn kid!" Katz slaps me on the shoulder, "Of course, not quite as badass as their old man and mama, but pretty damn close!"

"What a sight that would be..." I can't help but smile.

As we turn to fill our glasses, for a moment the only sounds in the room are the pouring of drinks, the moaning of the French whore that Fender is screwing, his own grunts of pleasure and the sound of flesh grinding against flesh. He's finally gotten to his dream of banging a French girl, and his dick isn't even glowing in the dark like he predicted after Strasbourg. Hog sits further away in the room kissing with the other French lass, who probably hopes to get some backdoor access from him later. I have my own thoughts in my mind, mostly pertaining to more drink.

"You don't talk much, do you," says the handsome lass that we picked up in the last bar we visited. Another cock-collector, I think. Even though she's been sitting at the table for quite a while now, I haven't paid much attention to her so far.

"No, I don't," I briefly reply.

"My name's Manu. What's yours?"

I call out my name. For a Westerner, she pronounces it surprisingly well. If my official papers didn't say otherwise, I'd probably introduce myself to foreigners with an Anglicized variant of my name - I just can't stand them butchering it every time. The Yanks are especially annoying when they see my name written - not only they mispronounce it terribly, but also ask why I have a woman's name. Fucking grammar differences...

"Not so much different from our "Jean", I suppose," she remarks. She's a handsome girl. Ashen hair, blue eyes...

"Look, girl, you don't want to know me!" I say, "I've killed more people than you can count, and I don't feel the least bit sorry about those poor motherfuckers! If you still like me, that's saying something about you!"

"I've hear things about you," she speaks, "You folks in the Baltic Division believe in the old gods. In Odin and such. Pērkons ir mūsu stiprākais dievs, right?"

"Where did you learn our tongue?" I ask. I'm impressed by her knowledge of our language.

"I studied Baltistics in university," the girl named Manu says, "I found your folk to be most interesting because there are few written sources about you."

"I see. So what did you learn?" I ask.

"Tev ir salauzta sirds, tāpēc tu slīcini bēdas pudelē."


Damn right I'm impressed. Even though she speaks a horribly broken form of my language, I'm happy to hear at least one outsider to have taken the trouble to master it. Moreover, she seems pretty observant, knowing exactly what troubles me.

"You are right... There is a woman I love, but I have no clue whether she loves me," I say.

"What is she like?" Manu squeezes closer to me. It is evident she wants me to fuck her, and so too she knows I don't. She knows I'm consumed by that certain longing a man can only be relieved through in two ways - success or grave.

"She is the most wonderful woman I've met," I say, "She is brave and selfless. She loves Fatherland as much as I do. Her heart burns for it's liberation as much as mine does. She is sad about it's current fate. Her hair is flaxen, and her eyes are as blue as my fatherland's lakes."

"I would like to see your fatherland one day," Manu speaks. I'm not sure whether she is sincere. Then again, why would she not be.

"Your people have beautiful folk songs," she speaks, "Can you sing one for me?"

"Well, I'm not much of a singer, but I can try..."

For a moment, I pause to think. What would be the most appropriate song to recite to a foreigner?

An idea strikes me. For someone who has merely studied our language in a university, it will mean next to nothing.

Cekulaina zīle dzied
Staļļa spāres galiņā
Ej, māsiņa klausīties
Kādu ziņu zīl' atnes

Tādu ziņu zīl' atnesa
Būs brāļam'i karā iet
Tec, māsiņa, klausīties
Pušķo brāļa cepurīt

Dziedādama appušķoja
Raudādama pavadīj
Neraud gauži, man māsiņa
Gaidi mani pārejot

Ja tu mani nesagaidi
Sagaid manu kumeliņ
Pēc trim gadiem ceturtā'i
Attecēja kumeliņš

Pavaicāji kumeļam'i
Kur palika jājējiņš
Tur palika jājējiņš
Kur guļ vīri kā ozol'

Vējiņš matus plivināja
Saule kaulus balināj'
Tur staigāja Dieva dēli
Dvēselītes lasīdami

To my surprise, Manu sheds a tear.

"It's such a sad song," she says, "I knew you Balts had a somewhat tragic history, but that you also had such songs about it..."

"We are a tough people. We've outlived more empires than most," I say, "The Teutonic Order, Poland-Lithuania, Swedish Empire, Russian Empire - where are they now today? We were long before Russians and Yanks, and we will be long after they both have pounded each other back to shit."

"Cheers to that!" Manu exclaims, raising her glass in toast. I meet it.

---

Fender is finally done fucking his girl of choice. As he pulls up his underwear, the door suddenly bursts open, and much to our surprise, Beast bursts in. She looks mighty pissed.

"Oh, look who's here! Come to join us, skipper?" Fender shouts jovially, extending his arms for a hug, holding a bottle of grape liquor in one hand.

Next moment he hits the deck as Beast knocks him down with a right hook that would do credit even to Ivan Drago himself.

"Everybody who is not a part of my outfit - get out. NOW!" she snarls. The ladies pack up lightning-quickly and scurry to the exit, Fender's recent companion covering herself with a blanket and grabbing her clothes along.

"What the fuck... What was that for?" Fender groans on the floor, clenching his swollen cheek.

"I've about heard and seen enough of what you've been doing lately, and I'm having no more of this shit in my company!" Beast shouts at us, "You are soldiers, not a bunch of college dipshits on a fucking Eurotrip! SHAPE THE FUCK UP AND START ACTING LIKE ONES!"

I feel anger build inside me. With the general state of things all around, we are hardly deserving of being berated like this, especially since Beast's own conduct has, at least in my eyes, been less than exemplary lately.

"Is that so?!" I say angrily, "And where were you, when things just started going to shit in your beloved unit?! Since our last tour, how many times have you checked in on us, taken interest in how things are going?!"

"Is that discussion of my orders I'm hearing?!" Beast shouts back into my face, "Just because we're friends, don't presume for one second I will suffer indiscipline in my unit OR hesitate to hand you over for court-martial if that's what it takes to keep this company and battalion in good standing! Is that understood, CORPORAL?!"

"Oh, don't you pull rank on me now, Blondie!" I bellow back in her face, for some reason using the more endearing nickname of our captain, "In case you haven't noticed, I am long past the point of giving a fuck about courts-martial and all that other disciplinary crap! So I'm not hearing this bullshit now, certainly not from you, who spent two weeks screwing with that prissy-ass HQ-rat West Point princeling while your boys needed you the most! You are getting a piece of my mind too, and if you have a problem with that, go ahead and call the MPs, have them arrest me, have them chuck me in the joint! No, fuck that, just take your gun and fucking shoot me in the head! Show us all what a great and awesome commander you really are!"

Evidently it's jealousy speaking with my mouth too, though it's among my least concerns right now. All that pent-up anger is bursting out right now, and I couldn't possibly stop myself even under pain of death. Apparently I've struck a sensitive thing, because Beast seems rather shocked and hesitant at my sudden outburst.

"You go on a trip to Paris for some Yank cock, while we are stuck here to drink ourselves into oblivion in this ass-ramming French shithole of a place, drinking and doping ourselves senseless because you haven't even had the decency to commemorate the lads we've lost on the last runs with a formal event! So don't ever tell us we are being the undisciplined drunk shits who disgrace our unit! Archer is rotting in some ass-end plot of Germany with a slug in his head, Kraut doesn't even have a real grave of his own, Roma's ass lies somewhere half a city away from the rest of him, and Sarge lies in hospital without both legs, beating himself up over not being in the fight anymore while you spread your legs for some dipshit pretty-boy West Point cocksucker who's closest encounter with real action is Call of Duty! So don't presume to be the hard-ass paragon Beast now when you are among the last people in the world entitled to say anything about what we've been doing..."

I break down in tears. For the first time since the age of 14, I cry, and there is nothing in the world that can stop me now. I remember Archer smiling and laughing over one of my nasty race jokes an instant before a Russian sniper's bullet ended his joy. I remember Kraut, sitting in the trench holding his own guts, asking for a radio and using his last breaths to call in an artillery strike on his position to take as many scumbag Ivans as possible with him while covering our retreat. I remember Roma giving that one last look of shock before he was blown in two by a mortar shell. I remember Sarge stepping on a landmine paces from where I should have been, and later giving me a clever advice and cursing his own continued existence as he lay legless in the field hospital. Beast was around on all these occasions, she knows very well what I'm talking about.

"I... I admit... I haven't been exactly an exemplary commander lately," Beast says, not sure how to respond, "But that's no excuse for you, lads. I'm not cutting any slack on you for this one, and I expect you not to cut any on me either if I have grown lax."

She suddenly embraces me.

"Get a hold of yourself, Fascist! I know you and the lads have been down lately, and I admit I have let you down lately too, but that's precisely why you and also I must get a hold of ourselves and show the rest of these sorry wankers how real soldiers must carry themselves," she says, being on the brink of tears herself, "You yourself said once that the 19th doesn't smear their hands with shit, so why do it now, why lay down and roll in the same pile of turd as everyone else? You lads are better than this. Victory or Valhalla, remember?"

"Victory or Valhalla..." I sob on her shoulder. I feel like a pathetic, miserable bastard, but somehow letting it all loose makes me feel better.

"Come on, all you," Beast says calmly, gesturing the rest of us to the exit, "Let's get you boys sobered up. The first thing we'll do tomorrow is hold a memorial service in honour of our fallen friends, I will see to that."

We have nothing more to say. Sometimes a few kind words is all it takes to restore discipline and unit cohesion.

Leonodas
June 13th, 2015, 09:48 PM
Interesting. I like the grit -- it does a good service to the horror of war. Will be following to see where this goes, if you do post more.