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Subject: {ASSM} (Rewritten and Serialised) Butterfly and Falcon (Part 30) By Katzmarek (Hist, rom,Mf,MF)
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 Part 30

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<1st attachment, "Butterfly and Falcon30.txt" begin>

BUTTERFLY AND FALCON (Part 30)

   By KATZMAREK (C)

   --------------------------------

   Author's note.

   This is a work of fiction based on fact.  Opinions and interpretations
of events expressed are my own and as such are entirely contestable.

   This remains my property and may not be used for gain without my express
permission in writing.

   ----------------------------------

   Between the 19th and the 22nd of November the right flank of the
Rumanian 3rd Army ceased to exist under the pressure of 900 Russian tanks
and two cavalry corps.  XXVII Tank Corps commanders of the Russian 5th Tank
Army found the Rumanians had cleared out so fast they left all their
documents, personal belongings and breakfast behind.

   To the South two mechanised corps and the IV Cavalry rolled from the
lakes area and folded up the Rumanian 4th Army.  The pincer closed on the
town of Sovietsky in the rear of the German 6th Army around Stalingrad.

   This was the true operational debut of the Ilyushin Il-2 'Sturmavik' and
the Yakovlev Yak 9D equipped with a 37mm cannon in the nose.  The effect of
these 'tank busting' aircraft was devastating.

   On the 10th of December a relief column sent up from the Caucasus in the
shape of the German LVIII Panzer Korps was smashed when it ran into the 2nd
Guards Army and swarms of Sturmaviks on the river Myshkova.

   Hitler's ludicrous order to von Paulus to stand firm in Stalingrad
condemned the German 6th Army to destruction.  Goering told the Fuehrer the
Luftwaffe would supply the General by cargo planes, but Goering was
criminally unaware of how things had changed.

   Luftflotte IV was no longer capable of protecting the transports against
masses of anti-aircraft artillery and Russian fighters.  At best the 6th
Army received no more than a third of their daily requirements.  The effort
shattered Luftflotte IV, the Red Airforce gained control of the Stalingrad
battlefield.

   It was the first serious defeat for German arms.

   ----------------------------------

   Jana had been recalled to Marshal Voroshilov's headquarters in Moscow.
The rest of the squadron remained at Astrakhan awaiting orders while
Russian forces trapped the Germans in the Stalingrad pocket.  It was a
frustrating time standing by while others crucified the Luftwaffe on the
Don front.

   John reflected that frustration.  He was in a foul mood with not even
Jana to relieve the pressure.  'Oz' Callaghan provided his only link to
sanity in that month on the Caspian.

   With 'Oz's' assistance, he spent the time training his pilots hard for
when they would rejoin the fight.  'Oz' abandoned his worn out Hawker
Hurricane for one of the new Yakovlev Yak-9Ds.  After becoming accustomed
to the different handling characteristics of the Soviet fighter, he came to
appreciate its qualities.

   In the second week of December, the 400th finally received its orders.
They were to sent to a place called Abganerovo on the main railway from
Stalingrad to Novorossisk.  They were in time to support phase two of the
relief of Stalingrad.

   From Boguchar across the Don to the North, the 1st Guards Army was
lining up the Italian 8th.  To the South of them, on the Chir river, the
3rd Guards prepared to clean up the remnant of the Rumanian 3rd Army.

   The Italians crumpled under the combined assault of 5 armoured corps. 
The 27th Panzer Division tried to relieve the situation but they only had
50 servicable tanks left.  The breakthrough took only 48 hours, an insanely
short time against the Italians' paper strength of 230,000 men in nine
Divisions.  But then, the Don had frozen over and the 700 or so Russian
tanks merely drove over it.

   To the South of Stalingrad, the 2nd Guards and the powerful armoured
formations of the 51st Army drove the Panzers of Gruppe Hoth and the
Rumanian 4th Army back from the line of the Myshkova and rolled them back
towards Rostov.  Von Manstein, in command at Novocherkassk, had to try and
hold up the Russians or have the whole of his Caucasus Front cut off.

   The airfield at Abganerovo had recently been wrenched from its former
owners, the Luftwaffe and the Rumanian airforce.  Smashed aircraft littered
the field and the Russian mechanics gleefully rummaged through these for
anything they could use.

   The airfield's buildings had all been burnt to the ground but some
temporary shelter was found in some old railway carriages.  Prisoners were
set to work rebuilding the damage and clearing the runway of snow.

   'Oz' was shocked at the way these Germans and Rumanians were being
treated by their Red Army guards.  True, the guards weren't first line
troops, being in the main reservists and local militia, but still, 'Oz'
thought, there was no cause for the casual brutality they sometimes metred
out.  He took his concerns to John.

   "Those prisoners are being starved," he told him, "and some of the
guards kick the piss out of them for no reason."

   "The guards are not under my command," John told him.  His indifference
astounded 'Oz.' This was not the way Aussies and Kiwis were brought up.  He
wondered if John was becoming too well acclimatised to Russia.

   "Bullshit!"

   "Look," John said, exasperated, "you don't understand what these Russian
people have been through at the hands of the Fascists.  So they're giving a
little payback..."

   "It's not fucking right and you know it!" 'Oz' shouted.

   "Listen!" John stood, "you heard of the 'Sicherungdienst,' 'Organisation
Todt' and the SS?  Have you heard of those bastards?  Have you heard of the
Rumanian 'Iron Brigade'?  Do you imagine our boys would fare any better in
their hands?"

   "That's not the point..."

   "It *is* the point as far as those local militia are concerned.  You
talk to them...  get them to tell their stories, and every one of them has
a story to tell, believe me?"

   "I don't speak Russian," 'Oz' replied, defiantly.

   "Y'know," John continued, "that Battle of Britain of yours was a pillow
fight compared to here."

   "You can't say that," 'Oz' blazed, "I lost half my squadron in three
weeks!"

   "And 17 squadrons were obliterated on the Don Front alone, 'Oz'," John
retorted, "that's nearly 300 pilots and their aircraft...  enough for one
and a half Air Divisions.  I knew dozens of them personally.."

   "That *still* doesn't give you the right to beat up prisoners!"

   "Be grateful that's *all* they're doing..."

   "You're turning into a cunt, John!  You've been corrupted!"

   "I'm *still* the ranking officer, 'Oz' and that's insubordination. 
You're lucky you're not a Russian or I'll..."

   "Or you'll what?"

   "Just stay out of my way!"

   "With pleasure, arsehole!" 'Oz' spat as he turned to leave.

   -------------------------------------

   Both Benin and the GRU Captain were well on the way to being drunk.  The
boys had captured a stock of good Spanish wine from the Blue Division and,
naturally, Intelligence had managed to secure their share.

   She learned the Captain had a name, Pavel Rodel, and he was born way up
in the Arctic at a place near Archangel'sk called Severodvinsk.

   The cold didn't seem to bother him.  He told her that as kids they used
to roll in the snow naked.  And he told her about the taiga in the brief
Summer weeks.  The snow would melt into torrents and reveal a frantic bid
for life from thousands of Siberian fauna.  The colour, he told her, was a
vision of paradise before the Spring gave way to thousands of biting
insects.

   They sustained themselves from the abundant fish stocks that teemed in
the White and Barents sea before the ice, once again, closed over the
water. Still, they could fish through the ice at the bottom of the high
pressure ridges.  The ice, he reminded her, expands and pushes up
diminutative mountain ranges on the surface of the sea.  It was like the
waves had been frozen solid before they could break on the shore.

   Pavel Rodel was a caricature of the Russian bear.  He was tall and
stocky and Benin thought he would have worn a long beard but for uniform
regulations.  He had the wry, self-depreciating hunour, the coping
mechanism of a person inured to a hard life in a hostile climate.  When
drunk he became morose and reflective, like the Russia ill at ease with
itself.  A Russia that, once again, had been battered down with only the
resilience and spirit of its people able to sustain it.  And, like the
Professor, one only needed scratch the surface to reveal a self-deluding
chauvinistic streak.

   Pavel Rodin wound up the handle of the grammaphone and played the only
record he possessed.  It was a suite of piano music by Ravel and it was
scratched so badly it sounded like bacon was frying in the background. 
Nevertheless, it was the most precious thing he owned and Benin felt a
strange kind of privilege to be included in this most intimate part of his
simple World.

   But at the same time Benin was aware Pavel Rodel would think little of
taking a helpless prisoner behind the building and putting a pistol to the
back of his head.  That was the contradiction inherent in the man, of the
many people who chose to work in the most dirtiest part of the war. 
Perhaps, even, a latent part of the broad Russian character?  At one,
displaying intense love for a dying boy, then shooting the Father in the
stomach for giving a German soldier a loaf of bread.

   As she sat at the table in the duty room at GRU Headquarters in
Novgorod, Benin knew that Pavel wanted her body.  When she rose for any
reason, she could feel his eyes fixed on her arse, mentally undressing her.
She knew he was married and had children.  For that matter she had John and
little Garcia, but their families were far away.  She and John had regained
some of the intimacy of the earlier times and had enjoyed their time
together in Gorky.  But, at the same time, she had little trust in him when
he was way out of her sight.  Jana Ivanova stalked their lives like some
chill wind from the North.  She was helpless before that force of nature.

   She'd kept the copy of 'Red Star' with John and Jana's grainy photo on
the front page.  They were smiling and quoted as saying a load of garbage
she'd never believe John would actually say.  They looked like a Hollywood
film star couple with great toothy grins like an oral hygiene
advertisement.

   They made an ideal couple, that's for sure.  Jana Ivanova was taller
than she, leggy, blonde and good looking.  Her bust seemed designed for a
man's appreciation, but they weren't overly large.  Just enough to suit her
height.  In any case, thought Benin, they appeared to be much prettier than
her modest pair.

   To have another man look at her the way John did was flattering.  She
found herself bending a little, and lingering a little longer than she
needed to in that position.  She laughed at his jokes, even though some of
the topicality of his humour was lost on her.

   "Another drink?" he asked.  Benin didn't but she said yes anyway, more
to keep him engaged than for any other reason.  "You're a fine woman," he
told her, "much too good for this dirty work." The conversation drifted
inevitably onto the topic of loneliness, of husbands separated from their
wives and families, and the seeking of solace.  "You've never been
unfaithful?" he asked.  The question touched on feelings of guilt, of
inadequacy, of the stalking Northern wind.

   "A little!" she replied.

   "A little?" he said, bemused, "like a little fooling around?  Like black
bread without the caviar?"

   "Yes," she laughed, "something like that."

   "And your husband?  He likes his caviar, too, perhaps?"

   "Yes he does!" Benin told him, sadly.  "Do all men...  er..."

   "Like their caviar?" Pavel suggested.  Benin nodded.  "Men are sometimes
like the goat in the field.  They will eat anything.  This is true! 
Y'know," he said, "if there was nothing else they will eat their own shit..
this is true, also!"

   "Charming!"

   "But your man must be a fool if he eats at another's table.  Why ignore
a banquet for a snack on the side, yes?"

   "She is no snack," Benin laughed, "and I'm hardly a banquet!"

   "You need to ask the men in the unit that question, Benin.  I think
you'd be surprised at the answers."

   "I would?" Benin asked in surprise, "what do they say?"

   "Oh no," Pavel blushed, "I couldn't..."

   "C'mon," Benin urged, still laughing, "tell me?"

   "Well," he squirmed, "you must realise there are not many exotic,
passionate, Spanish ladies around here."

   "Exotic?"

   "Yes...  you're...  dark, mysterious.  I think most of the men would
only be too happy to see what's behind those brown eyes...  and what's
under the uniform."

   "Not very much," Benin told him, "I think you'd be disappointed."

   "From what I can see," Pavel breathed, "I doubt that completely!"

   The atmosphere in the duty room became charged with electricity. 
Conversation petered out into an embarassed silence.  Suddenly, Pavel stood
and came around the table.  Benin watched him approach with a mixture of
excitement and apprehension.  He bent, took her face in both hands, then
kissed her full on the mouth.

   It wasn't as if Benin found the big man particularly attractive.  In
fact she'd already decided to reject his advances.  But when he kissed her,
forcefully and urgently, it took her breath away and she found herself
melting.

   Pavel pulled her to her feet then wrapped his arms around her waist.  He
held her urgently against him as if she was a lifeline.  Then, arm around
her shoulders, trapping her, he guided her towards one of the empty cells.

   ----------------------------------

   The next day the squadron went hunting.  They were to support Army
operations in the Novocherkassk area.  Luftwaffe resistance was
non-existant and, combined with a neighbouring light bomber squadron, they
spent the morning attacking retreating Fascist troops.

   The classic formation was three aircraft line abreast.  That way, they
strafed the road and surounding fields.

   Airfields were also a priority.  Hundreds of transport planes were being
used to supply von Paulus in the Stalingrad pocket.  Even old bombers had
been converted to carry supplies.  The route was littered with their
wrecks.

   'Oz' was a good hater when he set his mind to it.  The argument between
he and John had impacted on the whole squadron and social occasions between
the British and Russians had become strained.

   Few Russians had not had close family members suffer under the rule of
Germany and her allies.  They felt the British had little understanding of
the feelings of those that that had large areas of their country subjected
to a brutal foreign rule.  The British, on the other hand, didn't feel that
one needed to give up one's basic humanity in the prosecution of a war, no
matter how viscious.  Something of the notion of a basic 'fairness' seemed
ingrained in the British character, certainly in evidence in the
Australasian.

   But the British had not suffered the jackboots of an enemy on her
territory since 1066.  How dare the English judge, the Russians asserted,
sitting comfortably on their island surrounded by the sea and the Royal
Navy?

   A football match between the British and Russians had to be called off
when fights broke out.  Could anything get any worse?

   -----------------------------------

   The GRU headquarters used to be the local Police station.  As such it
was a sturdy brick building with a number of holding cells.  The GRU had
used them when interrogating prisoners but now they were mostly empty.  The
inhabitants had all been sent off to prison camps.

   These cells were small, ill-lit things featuring a metal bunk and a
pisspot as the only furniture.  A grating high up on the wall let in a
little dim light.

   Pavel steered Benin into the closest of the cells.  She feigned
reluctance, dragging her feet and pushing back at him.  But Pavel knew she
was faking, or was drunk enough not to care.  He bumped her arse with his
erection, urging her forward through the narrow door.

   Benin attempted a weak protest but the words died in her throat.  He
stroked her, surprisingly gentle for such a big man, cupping her bottom and
nuzzling her neck.  Then his hands came around her waist and he was
fiddling with her belt buckle.  He took her hand and placed it on the front
of his trousers.  His excitement was obvious, raising a ridge in his pants
that was hot and hard.  She massaged him with her palm absently, as if in a
dream.

   He then had her belt undone and was struggling to pull her pants down
over her hips.  With a heave he succeeded and Benin's uniform trousers lay
pooled around her ankles.  His hand then went straight over her sex,
pushing and rubbing urgently on her mound.  Her underwear went next, ripped
down without ceremony, until she could feel his sweaty hands sliding over
her bare skin.

   Pavel pushed her forward until she bumped into the small, narrow, metal
bed.  It smelt dank, of sweat and human filth.  The stench rose up and hit
her in the face making her gag.  Then he pushed her onto her knees and made
her rest her elbows on the bed.  He fell to his knees behind her, still
smoothing his hands all over her rump.

   'Why am I doing this?' Benin wondered as she felt his mouth and tongue
on her arse cheeks.  'Why this, with him, in this dirty hole?' She had no
ready answer.  'Perhaps it's just the alcohol?' But she didn't think she'd
drunk that much.  He was feeling her now with his fingers, opening her up,
probing her vagina.  Despite the disgust welling up in her throat she felt
herself being turned on.  Now she wished he'd get on with it, stab her with
his slimey dick and make her come, or whatever.  She was glad it was dark,
but she could hear and feel him fiddling with his trousers.

   "Magnificent, beautiful," he muttered softly, as he inched forward on
his knees.  "You like, I promise." He took her hand again and closed it
around his throbbing cock.  He was perhaps proud of it, but Benin thought
John's was bigger.  "Ah, my petal," he murmered, "see, I told you you'll
like it!"

   He lunged and missed, apologised for his lack of accuracy.  He told
Benin he shouldn't have drunk so much and lunged again.  Still his accuracy
was deficient and it was Benin who guided him in the end.  Once home, he
took her by the hips and jabbed at her rapidly.

   The force of his thrusting pinned Benin's thighs against the bed frame.
She pushed back at him and away from the metal.  He took that as some kind
of signal and grabbed her harder, increasing in speed.

   Despite it all, Benin found herself climbing higher.  Pavel, however,
was no longer interested in pleasing her and, grunting, he pulled out of
her, splashing his warm fluids over her arse and the back of her shirt.

   He stood, unsteadly, panting, and moved away to fix up his trousers. 
Benin felt the bile rising in her throat.  She tried to stem it, but in the
end, she couldn't hold it back and threw up in the pisspot.

   Wordless, Pavel staggered out of the cell leaving the door open.  Benin
pulled up her pants and ran to the washroom to clean up.  She knew she'd
made a mistake.  She just hoped that Pavel would forget about it after he'd
sobered up in the morning.

   --------------------------------------

   John loved his Lavochkin.  He loved the way the aircraft staggered as he
pushed open the throttle.  The big radial engine imparted a fair amount of
torque reaction urging the fighter to twist anti-clockwise.  But it growled
and throbbed and pressed him back in his seat as the speed climbed.

   The mechanics had fitted a field pack of rocket racks under each wing.
These were very effective against road transport.  Some new 82mm RS 82
missiles had been promised.  These, it was rumoured, were proof against the
heaviest German tanks.

   But the tanks most frequently encountered was the PzKw III and, even
with additional side plates fitted, were clearly inferior to the Russian
T-34s.  John felt good to be on the winning side after so long struggling
against superior forces.  That, and the KV1, were now fitted with
jetisonable fuel tanks.  Even so, its diesel fuel was a lot easier to
handle than the gasoline the German's used, and had a higher flashpoint. 
The diesel engine, in any case, proved a lot more resilient in cold
conditions.

   John had heard a story about a shipload of American Sherman tanks sent
to Murmansk by Russia's well-meaning allies.  Perhaps they didn't quite
grasp how advanced Russian armoured fighting vehicle technology had become?
Some say the Tank Service commanders who witnessed the Shermans being
offloaded at the wharf felt insulted.  'Was this,' they complained, 'some
old technology being foisted on them?  Where were the new Western designs
they'd been promised?'

   The gun, for instance, was weak by comparison to the T-34's.  Its
squarish hull shape wouldn't deflect a German shell such as the sloped
armour of the Russian tank did.  The Sherman's tracks were narrow compared
to Russian tanks and would sink easily into soft ground.  But, most of all,
they were appalled at its motive power.  Who in their right mind would
power a tank with a converted aero engine fueled with highly combustable
aviation gasoline?

   To the British they were nick-named the 'Ronson' after a brand of
cigarette lighter.  The Germans called it the 'flammenwerfer,' (flame
thrower).  The Russian nickname is not recorded, but at least one tank
commander suggested giving them to the Germans to use.

   Such lack of gratitude might offend western politicians, John thought to
himself, but he understood the frustration of soldiers expected to fight
with inadequate equipment.  Far too many Russians had died, both in the air
and on the ground, through a lack of modern weapons to fight with.

   John flew over an armoured column on the move.  The lines of tanks had
taken to the fields to keep the formation from being too strung out. 
Assault guns, such as the SU-76, were in support and lorry loads of
infantry tailed along behind.  It was an immense, powerful fighting force.
One that seemed unstoppable.

   Around him swarmed a host of Russian attack aircraft.  The uniquitous
Il-2s, the best aircraft of its type in the World, droned along at grass
height eager to get at the enemy.  Overhead were the fighters, now with so
little to do they'd been equipped with tank-busting cannons and rockets.

   They turned towards Novocherkassk, General von Manstein's headquarters,
and their objective, the wrenching free of Rostov on Don from Nazi
occupation.

   ----------------------------------
   KATZMAREK (C)

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