Hauptmann Mutterlieber was introspective as he enjoyed a cool morning breeze in the shadow of a centuries-old church. His Kampfgruppe had been constantly attached and reattached to various armies, rushing up and down the line with little respite. Like any proud son of Germany, it saddened him to see so much of Germany transformed into craters and burning ruins by constant unrelenting fighting. Despite all the propaganda on both sides claiming a swift and decisive victory over the other, Mutterlieber knew that it would end up like this.
Today Mutterlieber was lucky. He actually got to finish his morning coffee before one of his men came running up to him with a report of imminent contact.
Reconaissance reported back on the ORBAT of the Soviet tank battalion leading this new thrust:
HQ - 1 T-72
2x 4 T-72
BMP-2 Motor Rifle Company - Minimum size
2x 2 Shilka
Mutterlieber was impressed by the level of detail in the report. The scouts were to be commended. Getting on the horn, these were the men he was able to muster up:
M113 Panzergrenadier Kompanie
HQ - G3 Rifle team
2x Full Panzergrenadier Platoons
3 Leopard 2 (Ambush)
Short Panzergrenadier Platoon
3 M113 Panzermorser
Mutterlieber could see the armoured column forming up in the distance easily enough. He definitely did not expect to be hailed by a loudspeaker with a heavily accented demand to surrender. If they thought Mutterlieber would just give in, they were in for a Ruhr-de awakening. He marched into the church and commandeered its PA system to deliver his reply.
"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you want a quick surrender, you will not get one. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you turn around and leave Germany now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."
There was a long pause pregnant with tension. Then the reply, in heavily accented German:
And so it began.
A rising cloud of dust signalled the movement of the Soviets as they fanned out to attack. Moments later, rippling thunder announced their first volley. Mutterlieber poked his head up at just the right moment to see a distant muzzle flash that quickly grew larger. It was then that he immediately knew that was the shell with his name on it.
He cursed his own folly for having shown pictures of his wife and kids to his men. The shell seem to slow as his life flashed before his eyes. The last thing he could see before everything turned white was the Cyrillic stenciling on the shell's head. Just then, he swore he saw a gloved hand reach down from above and pluck the HE round out of the air.
When Mutterlieber's vision cleared, he was alive. He had been saved by none other than God's Mittens.
It took several deep breaths before Mutterlieber could calm himself. When he finally did he called out for a quick casualty report. It seemed that except for a single Milan team Soviet fire had been ineffective. The filthy Slavs would Ruhr the day they dared to invade the Vaterland
"Feuer frei!" He called out as he turned to his waiting signaller. The operator had outdone himself, guiding the last infantry platoon of his reinforced company on site in an emergency deployment and at the same time calling in a flight of ground attack jets.
From their aggressively forward hiding places, Leopards answered Soviet fire with Rheinmetall steel while a wave of rocket trails streaked towards the invaders. Mutterlieber enjoyed the sight of tank turrets shooting skywards atop flaming fountains. Scant seconds later, Luftwaffe flyboys announced themselves with the loud roar of their jet engines. Unfortunately Soviet SPAA had not been completely suppressed, causing several of the flight to join the carpet of fireballs they created.
The Soviets reacted quickly to the presence of the Leopards, sending the bulk of their tanks to encircle them. Fire from multiple directions knocked out 2 of the 3, but the survivors' nerve held. The remaining tanks charged forward to close the distance with the ATGMs on that flank, however in their haste they were unable to land an effective hit. Meanwhile a reserve infantry unit snuck up on 3rd Platoon's flank. Together with their accompanying IFVs they knocked out the majority of the company's transport pool and stormed 3rd Platoon's positions. They likewise stubbornly refused to flee despite heavy losses.
"Get your asses here now, or there will be no flying pests for you to kill!" Mutterlieber yelled into the radio. The surviving Leopard gunned its Maybach engine and fled from the kill box, avenging his fallen comrades by spearing the Soviets that sought to flank him at point blank range on the move. Undeterred by the deaths of their comrades, the Tornado flight came in for a second pass, this time with minimal effect.
Ignoring the clear and present danger of the nearby infantry, the remnants of 3rd Platoon together with 2nd Platoon sent another Milan volley, disabling the tanks threatening them long enough for a squad to rush their position and take their crews out. Just as all seemed lost for 2nd Platoon, the Gepards arrived on site. At the same time the remaining M113 transports poked out to pepper the Russians with machine gun fire. The Soviet infantry found themselves in a deadly crossfire that shredded their IFVs and scythed down half of them like the grass they tried to hide in.
Under sudden and overwhelming fire, the surviving BMP crews spike their vehicles and flee while the infantry hug the ground within the supposed safety of the woods.
Despite being on the verge of combat ineffectiveness, the Soviets weren't quite ready to quit the field just yet. A pair of Shilkas arrived from behind the West German line of defense. However, the 23mm autocannons fail to find purchase on the front hulls of the Gepards. In the same vein, the surviving T-72s fire at the last Leopard only to watch their shells ricochet off its thick frontal armour. Snap shots from the AK74s of the suppressed infantrymen also fail to find their mark.
And with that, the Soviet commander signalled the general retreat.
Crouched beside the smouldering wreck of a Leopard 2 and concealed by waving blades of tall pale grass, Hauptmann Mutterlieber watched impassively as his men showed no quarter, firing unrelentingly at the Soviets even as they strove to break off. He watched a Milan rocket streak into the tracks of one of the last few T-72s on the field. The tank ground to a halt amidst a gushing spray of shredded road wheels and track plating.
Mutterlieber could hear the crewmen shouting as they frantically wormed their way out of the stricken tank's hatches. As he listened, he was jolted by a sudden realisation: one of them was the man who replied to his little speech. He quickly brought his rifle to his shoulder and took aim. The gun coughed once; blood sprayed from the back of the tanker's knee. Just where he wanted it.
"Take those alive." Mutterlieber uttered into the radio. He strode calmly towards his quarry. Albanian, he decided as he looked at the scared faces surrounded by a forest of G3 rifles. The gleaming barrel of a vintage Luger sprouted from this thicket of death and was pressed into face of the one he was looking for.
"I told you I would find you."