Zaitsev still walked with a slight limp, four days after being shot in the hindquarters the pain still hadn't dulled down much. He was out of action for much of the Jacksonville battle, a terrible defeat for the Soviets, all that was left of the Soviet garrison was a small base surrounding a small civilian airport on the outskirts of the city.
"Pack your gear, comrade," Nikolay snuck up from behind. "We are getting out of this god forsaken place, command says we will be of better use in Boston."
"Boston? Why Boston?"
"Don't ask me. I almost forgot, Vasili. I am your new partner. Command also thought that you could do your job better with someone to watch your back.
The antiquated An-12 that Zaitsev flew in on lay smashed at the end of the runway, victim of a mortar attack when it was fully loaded with troops and fuel. A new An-22 with a MiG-29 escort waited on the other end of the runway, patiently waiting for Zaitsev and other troops to board.
The soldiers strapped themselves in as the four turboprop engines roared to life and the cargo doors closed. The aircraft and the escort flew at treetop level to avoid radar detection at the maximum speed the underpowered transport could go, arriving in Boston at Logan International Airport in just under four hours. After the aircraft rumbled to a stop on the damaged runway, Zaitsev stepped off the side door and breathed a sigh of relief. That flight was too fast and too low for too long to get any rest.
The airport and terminal had been turned into the regional Soviet HQ. Tanks of all sorts lined the tarmac, gigantic Tesla coils, 75mm flak cannons, and a handful of automatic sentry guns strategically placed along the perimeter. The area was so secure that patrols exited and entered the compound through the subway tunnels to make sure the automatic defenses didn't mistake them for an enemy. Zaitsev saw a man who looked like he knew something about this place.
"Comrade," Zaitsev shouted. "Can you tell me where we can find Lieutenant Alexandr Shabalin?"
"Certainly, he is in the subway station, I believe it is down the access road at the intersection of... of.. some street, you won't miss it."
Zaitsev and his new spotter proceeded through the airport terminal, large sections of the roof were smashed across the floor, chunks of beam, pipe, and sheet metal randomly strewn about. The walls were pockmarked with bullet holes and some spots were smeared with crimson indicating a major battle in the terminal. Outside, tanks were assembling for a patrol along the access road, the two men hopped aboard a flak track and hitched a ride to the subway station.
Proceeding down to the station large chunks of tile on the wall had broken off, entire sections of staircase were destroyed, and the only way to get to the next step was to cross was a small plank of wood. Past the ticket booths they descended another flight of stairs to the actual platforms. Boxes were piled everywhere, sleeping conscripts occupied most of the abandoned subway cars, a temporary mess hall and field kitchen occupied the remaining ones.
At the far end of the platform several conscripts stood, staring at a map spread over a large box. A tall, skinny man held a gas lantern over the map giving orders to the conscripts, his heavy wool coat draped over his shoulder and his gas mask hanging under his chin, Zaitsev assumed this man was Lieutenant Shabalin.
"Comrade Lieutenant?" Zaitsev said. "Are you Lieutenant Shabalin?"
The man quickly glanced at Zaitsev, "Yes I am, are you replacements?"
"I think so, comrade Lieutenant," Zaitsev handed him a piece of paper with their orders on it.
"Ah so you are the snipers I requested. Nikolay Basistiy and Vasili Zaitsev. Zaitsev I have heard good things about you so I am expecting something more from both of you. You two may want to listen in with this group of conscripts, you will be patrolling the same area. I like to have a couple sharpshooters mixed in with the units."
"You were saying from before, comrade Lieutenant," one of the eager conscripts interrupted.
"Ah yes your route. There is still resistance in the south of the city, mainly around the commuter rail lines, I believe the Americans may be using these to move around the city. The Blue Line, the line that services this station, is currently operational so you will not have to walk too far. you will ride the blue line train once it arrives, and take that to... hey, move your hand," Shabalin motioned to one of the conscripts.
"My apologies, comrade Lieutenant."
"As I said you will take the blue line to State Station, which services the Blue and Orange lines. We do have a small section of the Orange line operational between State Station and Downtown Crossing, which connects to the Red line. Here is where the joyride stops. any area of the Red Line south of Downtown Crossing is enemy territory so stay frosty as soon as you set foot on that platform. Everybody understand your route?"
"Yes comrade Lieutenant," the group said.
The subway train roared in from the south tunnel and screeched to a stop. litter bearers ran to the train and carried off the wounded and the exhausted conscripts and snipers trudged out as the next patrols shuffled in behind.
The ride was rather uneventful, the only real difficulty was making room for the new patrols leaving at their stops and helping the wounded into the train. The Blue Line ride lasted a good half hour before arriving at State Station but the ride to Downtown Crossing Station only lasted a minute. The tunnels south on the Red Line were blockaded with boxes and sandbags, and a small triage had been set up on the platform for wounded waiting to be transported to the airport. Zaitsev and Basistiy turned on their night vision goggles and followed the conscripts with flashlights mounted to their Ak-47s into the pitch-black tunnel.
There was a sickening odor of rotting corpses and the damp musty air in the tunnel and the only sounds were the conscripts' boots clanking on the steel rails and the periodic small chunks of concrete and rock falling off the walls.
Suddenly the silence was interrupted with gunfire, the muzzle flashes of several M-60 machine guns illuminating the tunnel. The lead conscripts were cut down, the others hitting the ground trying to figure out what was going on. Zaitsev and Basistiy dove behind some debris and set up a sniping position. American GIs set up a machine gun nest in a subway car, there were two guns under the car and one just inside the door. Zaitsev carefully set up his shot and pulled the trigger hitting one of the GIs that was in the car square between the eyes, a thin mist of blood shooting out the back of his head as he fell.
By now some of the conscripts managed to collect their wits and returned fire, the rest were either among the dead and wounded or had fled, the garrison at Downtown Crossing Station would undoubtedly shoot them on sight for cowardice.
Basistiy managed to squeeze off a shot at the other GI manning the gun in the subway car, taking him out while the conscripts eliminated the two gun crews under it. In little more than a minute half of the unit Zaitsev and Basistiy were attached to were eliminated, either by the enemy or their own troops defending the garrison. The remaining soldiers gathered the wounded and left the dead and tried to get them to the garrison's triage before gangrene set in. After returning to the Downtown Crossing Station, Zaitsev found an empty bench in a subway car, stretched out, lit a cigarette, and awaited the replacements to come in for the next patrol.