Artyom never actually believed that was going to happen. Nobody had. Everyone thought that Three World Wars were enough to kick out of humanity heads idea of making another war big enough to threat humanity existence. Yet humans were still starting wars, even facing possibility that one day there would be nothing worth fighting on or nobody able to fight with. Facing possibility of extinction, humans were still killing each other in order of religion, politics or just to possess somebody's boots.
When Moskvin told everyone on meeting in Polis about Red Army plans of taking D-6, all Order Rangers were packed on train to base. Almost all of them were supposed to be here. Only few were unable to take part in battle: Anya and few others were injured, Andriej was back at Kuzniecky Most and Tokariev was probably on Prospekt Mira when all of this was happening. Yet they had almost everyone. 100 men against whole army. Like true Spartans. And D-6 will be their Termopyles. If they will fail, Red Line will gain access to powerful arsenal of weapons, vehicles, resources and intel about pre-war storages with supplies. Much to big gun to let communists have it.
-Check your wargear, reload your magazines, load your night visions, clean your weapons. We're going to be in base in 15 minutes. - Ordered Idiot. How he, intelligent professor of philosophy, ended in Special Forces after Third World War was for Artyom one of the biggest mysteries. Whole train started to prepare for combat. Some started to load bullets to their magazines, other were changing batteries for their night visions, others were taking part by part off their AK and started to clean them - trusty Kalach Rifles will have their biggest test today. Artyom did the same. Even if it seemed pointless for him. Checking his equipment for the third time this hour, they had small chances to stop Red Line before taking over base. What could do 100 men against 3000? Sure, they had better training and equipment, but whole matter was in ammunition - he was afraid that Red Army had more soldiers than they had bullets.
When they arrived whole base was battle ready. 40 men jumped off the train and reinforced garrison of base. Miller quickly ordered full report about situation. Ulman took him into headquarters to discuss all maters.
-Hey, Artyom? Wanna smoke?- asked him Letyaga. Letyaga was big mount of mussels. True Commandos in look. But inside he was good man with golden heart. Very rare for this times.
-Sure.-said Artyom taking cigarette. It tasted badly, burning his lungs from inside. Hell, the worst tobacco he ever smoked. But what should he expect? After all, everything from tea to tobacco and medicine was made from mushrooms.
They moved to big gathering of men on the platform. Things looked grim, eyes of men were full of fear. They were elite commandos, specialized in stealth and assault missions. But now? They will wage regular war against bigger force of manpower willing to sacrifice hundreds to lay hands on goods in base. From hand to hand started to travel hip-flask, full of Mushroom Vodka. Everyone was drinking for courage.
-So... this is it? Last battle, gentlemen?- Asked Danila. He had knew him for a year. He was one of the Rangers assigned to search Library. Back then Librarians injured him- the mutants bent his knees in the opposite direction. But after 5 months in Polis he could walk again. Medics who put him back in health were true miracle workers.
-Yeah. If Moskvin told truth back in Polis, we are going to have whole Red Army on this tunnel. So...if I won't survive... Prince, take care of my Nadia, alright?- asked Alexei.
-Sure thing, brother. - answered Prince.
Suddenly they heard the rattle of the rails above them. Reds were probably moving troops to start attack soon.
-Looks like Reds are almost here. So... anybody wants to tell something before we...you know... Die horribly, with guts flowing from the belly, or ripped apart by enemy grenades...- started Vadim.
-We got the idea, Vadim. Thank you for rich description.- stooped him Kuzmich.- So, any last words?
-Maybe I will. I wanted to thank you all for... being good friends. I actually never had true friends after the Begining, because you know... not being Russian. But if not you guys, and Colonel, hell knows what people would do to me after my countrymen bombed your Motherland.- said Sam with his American accent . He was one of two Americans Artyom has ever seen in his life. True American, living in wild west like cowboys from old movies (or that was image Artyom ever had about USA). He was like family. Like everyone in Order. Second was Hunter. But he was gone long ago, before they bombed Dark Ones.
-You are one of us now Sam. Serving with you was an honour. - Said Idiot, saluting to ex-staff sergeant of US Army. All of them did the same.
-Yeah. After all, you are in use now. Who fight with communism more effectively, than soldier of the Marine Corps?- joked Alyosha .
All of men around laughed. Sam was one of few best men Order ever had. He was respectful for everyone, good with guns and even had good head to drink alcohol. After 20 years under Moscow, Spartans could proudly admit that they successfully russified this Californian. In this time hip-flask landed in Artyom hands. He took one sip. Hot, burning liquid poured down into his stomach. He gulped and gaved it to Idiot who was standing on his left. Even old professor, known of his abstinence took sip and gaved hip-flask on his left.
-My turn. I wanted to... apologize you, Duke. I know that... you love my daughter, and you will give everything to give her safe future. I was just scared to ... Let her go. I didn't wanted to loose her like I lost her mother. But now... if we'll get out of this in one piece... you can marry her. And if I would not get out of this... please, take care of her.- said Michalycz.
All gathered men applauded and whistled in praise. Finally, old tankist Michalycz gave his most precious treasure, his only daughter, to one of the youngest Ranger in the Order. Duke didn't know what to say. He was younger even than Artyom. His courage (or recklessness) was downright legendary. The boy had a very big talent for getting into trouble. Once it was even thought that young Ranger had died on the Surface. However, when his older colleagues were raising the cup on his memory, he laughed behind their backs and asked where his cup was. Since then Mihalycz daughter, a nurse in Polis, couldn't let the boy even go to the bathroom alone.
-I...I would be honored, sir.- stammered Duke. Nobody expected him to loss his self-confidence in that moment. Everybody laughed at his miserable reaction.
-Somebody write date and time! For the first time Duke lost his bravery!- laughed Stepan.
-Somebody had to stop him one day. But remember, kids only after you both are married.- pointed on Duke Mychalycz.
Suddenly they felt explosion. Reds started they assault. Whatever they blew up, it was able to destroy hermetic hatches in tunel. Suddenly speakers in base turned on.
-ALL PERSONNEL REPORT TO BRIEFING ROOM IMMEDIATELY.- Suddenly all speakers. They could recognize Millers voice.
-They call us in. Come on. We don't have all day.- said Kuzmich.
All men walked into big hall wit chairs. In front of them was table with Radio. Miller and few other Officers were on place, listening to the Radio. There could be heared gunfire and screams from it.
-Windmill! Blizzard here! Situation is critical! There's to many of them! We have to fall back! Repeat: We have to fall bac...- suddenly sound of explosion interrupted speaker on the other side of the radio -FUCKING SHIT! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!?? FALL BACK! FALL BACK!- radio sounded. Blizzard was outpost with five men that were guarding intersection 5 kilometers away from base. Whoever was there, they would never escape in time to their lines in base.
-Shit. Styopa, Petrovitch, Smialy, Gaz and Sanya. Damn it.- Whispered Letyaga. All of them were from the same Station.
-Well. Moskvin wasn't bullshiting this time. The Red Line advances on three sides.- said Miller walking away from the table. From Radio could be still heard sounds of gunfire and screams. He turned to thier direction - My brothers in arms. I am not a man of speeches, but here it is. You are most courageous, most deidcated soldiers in the Metro. Each of you is worth five Reds. If you simply do the job that you were trained to do we will win this battle. - he moved his arm up and squzed it into the fist- Sparta! To battle!
-SPARTA! - yelled in answer to him commandos. They were ready to die. Nobody lives forever after all.
-Alright, Kuzmich, take twenty men and go take positions on platform A. We need to place there there machine gun sections. I need you all to cover people on Platform B and everybody on barricade. -said Ulman.
Kuzmich saluted. He and twenty mem left room.
-Michalycz, take two men and one T-72 from storage. If we will place tank on tracks before base, we will stop their tanks before advance.- Said Miller. Michalycz saluted and two older men, also pre-war tankists rushed into direction of storages.
-Alright. Ulman. Take another twenty men on platform B. Set there heavy grenade launchers. Also you will hold RPG launchers if somehow enemy tanks would break trough.- Ulman saluted and another twenty men left room.
-And to you gentlemen I have task of holding position on barricade with me.- They all saluted and moved behind him on barricade.
Artyom couldn't belive what happend. Red line sacrificed one of their armored trains to break trough thier defences. Even from T-72 in front of tunel left nothing but metal scraps flying in the air. Whole tank with crew was smeared when 80-tons of iron painted in red and gold crashed with full speed into old tank. But this didn't stopped train. Enemy train stopped when it crashed what left from their tank into barricade. But train lost to much power on breaking trough tank. So nothing actually happened to defenders on barricade. When they tried to get up and set defences again they heard enemy.
-URAAAAA!- echoed trough the tunel when train camed from.
-Shit! Mychalycz down! Ulman, Kuzmich, what's your status?!- yelled Miller to officers on platforms.
-Clear and cound, Colonel!- answered Ulman.
-Sector is clea...-suddenly head of Kuzmich exploded in small parts. His brain, eye balls, teeths, flesh, skin blood and rest of his skull scattered around nearby Rangers.
Communists send infantry in train. Madman who planned that knew that few of them would survive the crash and will be able to soften Base defences. But they didn't preapered that infantry on what was going to meet them when they set their heads of train.
All machineguns and grenade launchers opened fire. Bullets hissed in thie air and reflected off the train's armor. A few daring Reds tried to het off train to be smached into a bloody cloud by the machine guns, or for the grenade launchers to cut off thier legs and and leave two stumps on their place.
- Now, they are pinned! Flamethrowers, now!- yelled Ulman. Suddenly from platform A a huge tounge of fire shot out. To it joined two others. From trains there could be heared screams of agony. They didn't know how many of them were in train, but smell of burning flesh was so strong, that everyone had to put thier gas masks on.
Suddenly from the tunel rushed enemies. Not armed with guns, but with mining gear. Probably prisoners of Communists labour camps rushed trough the tunnel. All of them bearing shovels, picaxes, axes, wrenches and other tools. Communists had many of labour camps in Metro. Landing here was death sentence. If not from work, hunger, or many of sicknesess all prisoners were often used as meatshields of Red Army.
-Glory to the revolution!- They screamed. Many of them were brainwashed, beliving in every word Commisars were telling them.
Again, from platform A flamethorwers started to burn enemy. Few were lucky enough to crawl and survive meeting with flamethrowers and run in front of barricade. Rangers on it opened fire, kiling many of them. One managed to crawl in. Artyom just wanted to hit him with his batonet on his AK, but then he looked clooser to him. Prisoner had thier Uniform!
-Shit! Artyom it's me! Timur! Colonel! It's me! Timur!- Yelled prisoner.
Indeed, it was lost in action three months ago Ranger from Hanza. Colonel ordered to take him back to train.
When wave of prisioners ended, another wave arrived. Now from tunnel rushed enemy infantry. The fire exchange grew more and more intense. Both sides started to take loses: for every Spartan down, almost 20 Red Armists were bleeding down. But Reds could allow themselves to have that loses. Spartans couldn't. Artem lost count of how many enemies he shot after his 32nd kill.
-MAN DOWN! MAN DOWN!-Yelled Duke, pulling Damir back to train.
-Shit! ROUNDS! WHOS GOT ROUNDS!?- Yelled Sam, reloading his AK.
Suddenly one of Machine Guns was swept away with his crew, few Rangers nearby and all sandbags around. Enemy tanks arrived. Old trolleys that tehnicans used befor Third World War armored and armed with handmade canons started to slowly push forward and shot to enemy targets.
Suddenly Miller got shot in the arm.
-Shit! Artyom, get Colonel back to train!- ordered Ulman, aiming with the RPG's on enemy tank.
-FUCK!- hissed trough squeezed teeths Colonel.
Artyom runned to him, starting to pull him back. Then, old Colonel grabed his wrist,
-Listen.... I know... About you and... Anya... If... I will not...survive... or worse... Take care... of her! That... is... an order.
-Yes si...- wanted to answer Artyom, but big blow throwed him and Miller back.
He landed on Wall feeling pain twisting from inside his guts. He almost couldn't move. The screeching in the ears was unbearable. Artyom looked around to see Miller. He was all in blood. No, not all. His legs were gone. On its place had scraps of skin and few parts of bones outside of flesh. He could see he was moving, holding his leg. He could see that his commander was screaming in pain. Artyom looked at barricade. Few Reds were on it, pushing last Spartans off defence positions or fighting with use of bayonets and shovels. This was over. They have lost this battle. Slowly Artyom fell unconsious.
He woke up in bed. Feeling warm hand in his hand. He opened his eyes. In front of him was Anya and Letyaga.
-Anya! He opened eyes! He is alive!- screamed Letyaga
Anya looked at him and throwed herself at him, pulling him into a hug. He suddenly felt pain in his back and legs. It was good sign, he wasn't paralised.
-You have no idea how I was afraid about you!- said betwen sobs Anya.
-Good... but I would not mind ... some air. -said Artyom. Then she put him back, still holding his hand. He didn't minded that at all.
-We thought you went into coma. I swear, she started a war to give you experimental medicine. Even Colonel couldn't stop her!- smiled Letyaga.
Artem looked at him.
-Where... where are we?- asked unsure.
-In Polis. Reds tanks destroyed key pillar in tunel, they buried them alive under 50 meters of ground. We killed almost 800 enemy troops and stopped advance of whole Red Army. That made Korbut start negotiations with Polis and Hanza. We won.
Artyom smiled but he was had to ask question that he was afraid of.
-How many died? - Asked Artyom.
Letyaga smile faded away.
-Better question is... who survived. We lost 79 men. Timur, Prince, Sam and Damir are still fighting for their lives. Colonel lost his legs. Kreneyev and Joseph lost thier hands. In similar state like you are Duke, Dyavol and Alyosha. Only Idiot, Vadim, Vladimir, Krasnov, Alex, Petrovich, Romanov, Sawielij, me, Mudak and few others survived without strong injuries. Ulman, Michalycz, Kuzmich, Danila, Arseniy, Herman, Su, Bar and many others didn't... -the words stuck in his throat.
-I know what happened.- stopped him Artem. He could see Anya started to cry. Her father lost his legs in this battle, and she wasn't near to help him. Artyom pulled himself up, ignoring pain, to hug and comfort her. He sighed saddly. They won, but at what cost?