Thursday, June 12, 2008
Jonias slaps Kaj and Vihtori on the backs, says, nonsensically, "let's just hope its regular Red Army brass that ordered this, aye, my effeminate cock-gobbling Finns?" then turns and strides out of the machine gun nest and up into the woods, no doubt heading for his craggy listening post to do whatever it is he does up there.
The two Finns stand bewildered for a few seconds more, then begin to move with a cool precision which belies their previous apparent relaxed disinterest. Kaj pulls the canvas cover off his Spandau and carefully inspects its well-oiled 25-year-old German parts. Vihtori throws a tarp off a carefully arranged pile of ammo cases, slides up to Kaj's right, opens it, and tenderly feeds the beginning of one of his lovingly tended to ammo belts into the gun.
Kaj stands upright and looks off to the right, at Seppo and Samuli's gunpoint. Seppo's looking at the Soviet flotilla through a spyglass and Samuli's checking his gun. Kaj swings his head to the left and sees Paavo and Roope hunkered down in their nest. Roope swings his gun left to right, right to left, over the beach, targeting imaginary Soviet naval infantry. Paavo notices Kaj looking at them, gives him a reassuring wave, a nonchalant smile. Kaj looks at the beach, the flotilla, rubs the gun's handle in his palm. This beach is small. Its barely big enough for two, if, that, landing craft side-by-side, and the rocky beach climbs sharply and unevenly over broken and craggy boulders up to Kaj's sandbagged nest.
Kaj remembers himself. "Voi paska! Vihtori, the camouflage!" The two of them hop out of the nest and each grabs the end of a frame made out of tree branches, across which is stitched sparse vegetation. Placing it atop the nest, the nest rather looks like just another outcropping of rock and soil, upon which some plant life ekes out an existence. Crawling back into the nest, Kaj pulls out his spyglass and has another look at the Soviet flotilla. He tells himself to relax. He'd have to run to the other side of the island, or to Jonias' rocky aerie, to see Someri, but he can hear explosions and the low drone of airplane engines: the Soviets are bombing the island. He feels momentary worry for the rest of the 10th Torjuntakomppania stationed there, but forgets it as a gull lands in front of the nest. Do the Soviets even know they're here?
In the next few hours the gunners watch the landing ships assemble, then motor off towards Someri, which is out of their view, around the point guarded by Seppo and Samuli, who take turns disappearing into the tree line and watching the actions on Someri via spyglass from the outer edge of the island.
Day turns to dusk then to night. Sleep is interrupted by rumbling guns 5 kilometers away at Someri.
At dawn, the gunners, more relaxed now, take turns going several at a time to the western shore of Pikku Someri to watch the battle. Soviet PE-2s are bombing Someri again. Kaj, Samuli and Paavo watch Someri's AA guns fire ineffectively into the air. "Vitun kusipää couldn't hit their own balls if they tried" comments Paavo. They all snicker like little boys, watching the failures of others.
"Foolish Finns!" All three startle at as Jonias comes crashing out of the tree line, "What are you doing? This is no time for wanking! The Reds are making a housecall!"
"What are you talking about, you crazy runkkari?" asks Samuli. Samuli's probably the least disturbed by Jonias' presence. Kaj thinks he's just pretending to be less disturbed, a suspicion confirmed when Samuli's face pales as Jonias' darkens. Kaj feels his knees weaken as Jonias strides up to Samuli.
"Crazy wanker? I'm a wanker? The three of you standing here playing with yourselves, while the Russian landing craft have completely filled with Red Army troops, deployed, and set course, and I’m the runkkari?" Jonias fumes for a second or two longer, then turns and marches back into the trees, heading for the beach, cursing and muttering "…probably sewing doilies…" The three Finns look at each other and run after him.
Sure enough, the landing craft are underway from the flotilla towards Someri proper. The gunners stand to the left of Jonias, who looks on thoughtfully. A minute goes by. Jonias snaps out of his reverie, notices the Finns standing there. He follows their gaze to the landing craft, then furrows his brows.
"No no no, not THOSE landing craft, you dolts!" he castigates, striding up to Kaj, "THOSE landing craft!!!" he points directly out from the inlet, so the gunners can easily follow his indication.
Difficult to see, since their distant bobbing profiles are head-on, can be seen a handful of… lifeboats?. After a few second it becomes clear: a miniature invasion fleet of four lifeboats, each with maybe ten men aboard.
"Vittujen kevät ja kyrpien takatalvi!" Paavo says, and breaks into a dead run back to his machine gun nest.
Kaj fishes his spyglass out as Samuli sprints off to his post. His breath baited (eight, ten, or twelve per boat? That's… 32, 40, or 48 naval infantry total, but the boats are open and the rowers unprotected. But with those small boats maybe they don't have to use the beach) he snap-telescopes the spyglass and focuses on the rowboats.
His face curls into a confused snarl as he gets a bead. At the prow of the lead boat there stands a man, thick bottle-lensed glasses covered in sea-spray, wearing a rather dapper bowler…