The Maultier grinds to a halt, allowing Konigsmann to dismount. His comrades lay supine in the cargo bay, huddled up under coats and blankets. Without supplies, they will all perish.
- If Konigsmann flees the battlefield, he could become lost for up to 10 hours.
Our opposition for the battle are a patrol of Soviet regulars, shadowing the retreating Germans to identify opportunities for their main force to strike. The patrol is composed of:
- 2x models with pistols; perhaps an officer and a forward observer.
- 3x models with bolt-action rifles.
Our mission is:
- The Soviets are between Konigsmann and vital supplies. To return to the retreat column empty handed would be a betrayal of the highest order. While heavily outnumbered, the doughty NCO hefts his rifle and advances.
The action centres around a pair of lonely hunting cabins – rude buildings of fresh-cut logs and splintered planking. The stout doors hang half-off their hinges, betraying the machinations of other looters. A cluster of outbuildings stand apart from the cabins, surrounded by wrecked furniture and discarded tools.
Thick undergrowth and denuded fruit trees surround the cabins, a rotting cow carcass dissolving into filth amidst the rotting fruit. Beyond the orchard, the anonymous ranks of pine trees encroach on the clearing, providing the perfect cover for the advancing Soviets.
Led by a striding officer, the Soviet patrol fans out across the open ground between the cabins, splitting off to investigate the abandoned buildings. A pair of great-coated privates vanish into the closest hut.
Konigsmann picks his way through the fallen boughs and tangled brush, rifle levelled at the strutting officer. His first shot strikes the man in the chest, bowling over into the mud.
Rifle fire erupts from one the windows, driving the lone German behind a pile of decaying logs.
Splattered with black mud, Konigsmann hauls his bulk away from the log pile, disappearing out of the Soviet line of fire.
The lone German pitches a hand grenade through the shattered window, the explosion blasting the log wall to splinters, eviscerating the Soviet infantrymen sheltering inside.
Darting away from the smoking carnage, Konigsmann ducks into the lee of the second cabin, watching the hapless Soviet conscripts scramble for cover. Rifle rounds shriek off into the snow as the two soldiers beat a hasty retreat.
Konigsmann scrambles through the churned up snow, crashing through the splintered door into the second cabin. A trapdoor in the floor yields some valuable tins of food and a bundle of moth-eaten blankets.
Another volley of poorly-aimed rifle fire chases the Unteroffizier in his rapid dash between the two buildings. Acrid smoke billows through the wrecked doorway, the interior spattered with viscera. Picking through the gory remains yields a string of smoked sausages and a dented hip-flask filled with vodka.
Satisfied with his haul, Konigsmann turns away from the smouldering cabin and the terrified Soviet conscripts. His trip back to the retreat column is thankfully uneventful.
- Konigsmann gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
- He gains +1 stress for being under fire for more than 2 consecutive turns.
- He loses -2 ammunition for firing his semi-automatic rifle.
- His successful search rolls yield +2 provisions and +1 loot.
Thankfully Konigsmann was uninjured and did not flee the battlefield, so we move straight onto the morale phase.
Our NCO’s successful expedition generates 4 morale dice, generating 3 successes, reducing everyone’s stress by -3.
The squad parts company from the Maultier and the frazzled Saller, taking the remainder of the crew’s ammunition and the contents of the half-track’s first aid kit. All characters gain +1 ammunition, Specht gains some Medical Supplies.
Konigsmann swaps the bundle of threadbare blankets for another pack of iron rations to supplement the vodka and sausages squirrelled away inside his great coat. With the harsh warmth of the vodka spreading through his limbs and the greasy sausage filling his empty stomach, Konigsmann recovers 2 exhaustion.
Specht and Kraus spent the last engagement laid up. At this point they reduce their stress and exhaustion by 1d3. Specht reduces both by -2, Kraus by -1.
As night sets in, the cold frosts close in around the makeshift camp. Everyone rolls on the General Winter table.
- Specht’s hypothermia has abated somewhat, but uncontrollable shivering still wracks his emaciated frame. He gains +1 exhaustion and may only roll shock dice in the next battle.
- Despite the amputation of his right foot, the black tendrils of frostbite creep up the pale flesh of Bretz’s leg. He is critically injured for 5 further hours.
- Trudging through the snow under the weight of the machine gun saps Kraus’ strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
- Despite his hearty meal, the bitter cold has sapped Konigsmann’s strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
For our player action this turn, we’re going to generate another character to replace the traumatized Saller. Specht heads off towards the main body of the column, intending to conscript some poor unfortunate into our unhappy band of brothers.
During his march down the straggling tail of trucks, half-tracks and shuffling foot soldiers, Specht finds some Feldgendarms preparing a makeshift gallows at the roadside. Their victim is Jager Helfried Pawlitzki, a dispatch rider from one of the light infantry divisions.
Pawlitzki fell afoul of the lopsided military justice system after some partisans relieved him of some top secret orders. Charged with high treason, Pawlitzki’s brief military career was set to end in a noose until Specht bribed the Oberfeldgendarm to release him on the condition that he find some suitably gruesome end for himself on the battlefield.
With the surly Pawlitzki in tow, the group advances 12km in 5 hours.
Leningrad is now 64km behind our protagonists, and 23 hours have passed since the siege collapsed.