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Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Having Fun! => Topic started by: Nictionary on May 07, 2017, 09:57:39 PM

Title: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 07, 2017, 09:57:39 PM
Hey everyone.  So, a few months ago I watched Sword of Gideon, the 1986 made-for-TV film on which Spielberg based Munich.  The germ of an idea for a story took root in my head then, but it is only now, as I head into finals week, that I have time to put my thoughts to paper and the need to relieve stress by doing so.  I'll just have to see where this goes.  In the meantime, enjoy and feel free to comment and criticize.


February 8, 1919

   A thick haze of cigarette smoke filled the room where 7 men sat at a large table covered with a green baize cloth.  Outside it was windy and pouring rain.  Promptly at 9:30 a short man in full uniform walked in and asked the others to sit down.  Admiral Kolchak thumped the table and called the meeting to order.

   “Gentlemen, I have summoned you for a very important purpose.  Yesterday I appointed Judge Sokolov to investigate the murder of our late tsar, and the disappearance of the august imperial family.  His findings will be vital to the endeavor which is the subject of this meeting.  The murder of Nicholas, and what increasingly looks like that of his family as well, has introduced a new form of barbarism into the world.  All of you here are part of a select group, which I have decided to call Committee Ze, tasked with formulating a response to this atrocity.  Were it not for the fluid situation in the Motherland, we would have started many months ago.  I want your ideas.  Stepanov?”  He turned to the minister of war.

   “I have actually been thinking, Your Excellency, of a possible idea.  We shall fight fire with fire.  The socialists used to target the tsar’s regime with waves of assassins.  Could it not be contrived for Sokolov to identify those individuals involved with this crime, so that they might be eliminated on an individual basis? ‘And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.’”

   “Not a bad idea,” said General Kirsta, head of military intelligence.  “I’m starting to like the sound of this.”

   Miroshnichenko, chief of the Intelligence Department, nodded in agreement.  “It would be a fitting way to honor the memory of the Imperial martyrs.”

   “It might also deter the Reds from committing such outrages in the future,” said Sukin, the foreign minister. 

   “In that case,” said Sapozhnikov, the minister of education, “if we are going to launch an assassination campaign, we should do it in a dramatic fashion, so that it sends a message.”

   “Yes,” said Telberg.  “Your Excellency, we really have to do this.”

   Two more men remained at the table, Adrian Bylinkin and Yaroslav Mikhailov, both top intelligence officials.  They, too, urged Kolchak to authorize the assassination of those involved in the execution of the Romanov family.  “Give us the order and we begin,” were Mikhailov’s concluding words.

   There was a long silence, broken only by the spatter of rain against the windows, the noise of the wind and the ticking of a clock.  Kolchak sat at the baize-covered table, his hands clasped in front of him, while the others waited for him to speak.  It was Kolchak’s decision now, and even Stepanov, usually eager to press his  own case, sat silently, looking at him.  Nearly 5 minutes passed, and then Kolchak said in a low voice, “I am quite positive we must go ahead and give the order.  I don’t like it, but there it is.  I don’t see how we can possibly do anything else.  ‘You will smite them with a rod of iron and break them like a potter’s vessel.’”
   Then he stood up and walked to the door.  The order had been given.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: edubs31 on May 08, 2017, 01:46:35 PM
Sounds pretty good. Post some more scenes if you're up for sharing them.

The fateful year & turning point for Kolchak and the White Army. I believe he was executed exactly one-year after this scene of yours.

In my writings - much of which is posted on here - one thing I tried to watch out for as things progressed was the use of adverbs like "really". I'm not really certain, but some of these phrases sound too modern and folksy to me and likely would not have been used by Russians in the early-20th century (at least not in any official capacity).
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 08, 2017, 03:22:30 PM
In my writings - much of which is posted on here - one thing I tried to watch out for as things progressed was the use of adverbs like "really". I'm not really certain, but some of these phrases sound too modern and folksy to me and likely would not have been used by Russians in the early-20th century (at least not in any official capacity).

Good point.  I'll have to do my homework on that aspect as well.  Thanks for pointing that out.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 10, 2017, 04:03:19 AM
   Please note that this story may contain expressions of anti-semitism by some of the characters.  These expressions in no way reflect my own views.
   March 4,1919

   A few weeks later, the same men were gathered around the same table in the same room.
   “We have chosen the targets,” Bylinkin began.  “25 men in all, each of them complicit in one way or another in the murder of the tsar.  Sokolov’s findings, and the interrogation of those of the murderers whom we have in our custody have been the primary source from which the list I am about to present to you has been compiled.  However, we also have assets among the ranks of the Bolsheviks, and Allied intelligence has also shared information with us which has helped us in our task.”
   He produced a file folder, reached inside, and placed a grainy photograph of a bearded, well-built man on the tabletop. 
   “First on  the list is the Jew Yakov Yurovsky,” said Bylinkin.  He paused for a moment, then continued.  “I do not have to tell you who he is.  The chief of the assassins.”
   He produced another picture, this one showing a wild-eyed man with shoulder-length hair.  “Pyotr Yermakov,” he explained, “Bolshevik commissar, and another man who literally has the tsar’s blood on his hands.”
   Another photo was placed on the table.  “Grigory Nikulin, Yurovsky’s lieutenant.  Our intelligence indicates he also took part in the murder of other members of the tsar’s retinue.”
   Kolchak picked up the photo, studied it for a moment and passed it to Stepanov.
   Another picture.  “Mikhail Kudrin, also known as Medvedev.”
   And another.  “Rudolf Lacher.”
   More photos.  “Yakov Sverdlov…Pyotr Voikov…Aleksandr Beloborodov.”  Bylinkin placed another photo on the table as Kolchak picked up that of Beloborodov.  “Filipp Goloshchekin…Georgy Safarov…Sergei Chutskayev…”  By the time Bylinkin was finished, 25 photos lay in a disorderly pile on the tabletop.  He gathered them together, put them back in the folder, and handed it to Telberg, who had before him another folder, thick with documents.  Telberg opened the folder, took a photo, matched it with a document, and signed it.  He took another document and another photo and signed again.
   Kolchak turned to Miroshnichenko.  “Good work.  Now that you have identified these savages, your next task will be to locate each of them and bring them to justice.”
   Miroshnichenko nodded.  “Adrian Savelievich, I trust you will begin that next stage of the plan forthwith.”
   “Yes, sir,” answered Bylinkin.  “Yaroslav Afanasievich and I will do so immediately.”
   “There is an additional aspect of this that must be considered,” said Sukin.  “As you know, the Allies are rather lukewarm in their support of us.  Partly this is due to the Yids’ whining over the pogroms.  I do not think we can count on widespread support from the West if our direction of this campaign were to become widespread public knowledge.  Plus, our determined pursuit of the tsar’s assassins might make it look like we are taking a more monarchist position, which could alienate potential supporters.  Therefore, I would suggest that we make sure there is no evidence which can tie us directly to the operation.”

   “Excellent point,” said Mikhailov.  “We will make sure of that.  We will stress that to the teams that will carry out the operation.” 
   “One final point,” said Miroshnichenko.  “I want to emphasize again that this campaign is not just about revenge, but it is also intended to generally terrorize the Soviets.  We want to make them look over their shoulders and feel that we are upon them.  We want to sow terror in their ranks.”

   “Very well,” said the Admiral.  “I am satisfied with your progress thus far.  Keep doing as you are doing, and I look forward to seeing the results soon.”
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 12, 2017, 01:57:11 AM
March 14, 1919
   In the space of the last ten days, more significant events had crowded into Captain Nikifor Yuryev’s life than in all his previous years combined.  It had all begun that day when he was summoned into his commanding officer’s office and informed that had been selected for a very special mission, and without further ado he was whisked into a staff car and taken to the train, which took him to Omsk.  Another staff car was waiting there, and soon he was sitting in Miroshnichenko’s office. 
   “Ah, Captain Yuryev,” said the spy chief.  “As you can probably deduce, what is happening here is very important.  I don’t have to tell you.  You know you wouldn't be here if it was not important.  You have been chosen, upon recommendation, to undertake a mission.  An important mission, I don’t have to tell you.  But I will tell you that it’s a dangerous mission.  You won’t be able to talk about it with anyone, of course.  Not even your wife.  Especially not your wife, if she’s like mine.”
   Yuryev laughed, but then was silent for a few seconds, What could the mission possibly be?
   He had to say something, so he asked the first question off the top of his head.  “Would I be working alone?”
   “No,” said Miroshnichenko.  “But that’s not the point right now.  Do you accept this mission?”
   “I’ll have… I’ll have to think about it,” said Yuryev.  “What if I tell you in a few days?”
   He wasn’t sure why he hesitated.  It certainly wasn’t the danger.  Yuryev didn’t care about that, not after four years of war.  So why was he hesitating?  True, his wife Marfa was pregnant.  But it wasn’t that either. 
   Miroshnichenko shook his head.  “You have till tonight,” he said.  “Think it over.  Report back here by 11 o’clock.”
   When he reported to Miroshnichenko on the dot of 11 that night, the spy chief seemed uninterested.  “Yes?” he asked, looking up from his desk.
   “I’ll do it,” said Yuryev.
   Miroshnichenko nodded in a detached, unemotional way, as though Yuryev’s response had been the only one possible.
   “Wait outside for a moment,” he said.  “I want you to meet someone.”
   The man to whom Yuryev was introduced fifteen minutes later was tall and somewhat professorial.  Adrian Savelievich Bylinkin was middle-aged, with prematurely graying hair and somewhat stooped shoulders.  His mouth had a melancholy set to it, though his blue eyes were animated.  He was pleasant.  More importantly, from the moment they first shook hands, he had a way of talking to Yuryev as if they were well-acquainted.
   “You’re going to be reporting to me for this mission,” he said.  “Right now we’re still feeling our way through this.  You probably have many questions, and I might not have all the answers yet.  You’ll have to be patient.  Let’s take a walk.”
   They walked over to a nearby park and strolled along the dusty path that wound through it.
   Later Yuryev realized that even though Bylinkin had told him what his mission would be in the first five minutes, he didn’t really understand it for two more days.  In one sense he understood it, but in a deeper, fundamental sense, he didn’t.
   Bylinkin said, “We have decided to put together a team to go after the murderers of the Romanovs.  We have twenty-five names.  Each had a hand in planning the murders.  You’re going to kill them.  Twenty-five men, one by one.  But before we talk about this, let’s talk about procedure.”
   The procedure involved cabling Marfa to let her know he would not be home for a few days, then reporting to an address in downtown Omsk.  There, in an apartment beneath a dry goods store,  he stayed alone with Bylinkin for forty-eight hours.  Every now and then Bylinkin would leave for an hour or so during which time another man would stay with Yuryev - “to keep you company,” as Bylinkin put it.  He wasn’t much company, though, since never spoke a word: it was clear that he was there to keep an eye on Yuryev and make sure he didn’t leave or use the telephone.
   Bylinkin talked operation with Yuryev.  The Intelligence Department had given the matter much consideration, Bylinkin said, and decided that the best way to proceed was with a small, self-contained group.  A team that was composed of experts in various fields.
   The more Bylinkin talked, the more interested and excited Yuryev became.This was big. This was the real thing. He could organize this. With such a mission, he could show them his mettle. But he was careful to reveal none of his enthusiasm to Bylinkin.
   It was just as well. Because, at this point, Yuryev still didn’t understand what the mission was really about. He did—but he did not. Understanding came only when, after a short break for lunch, Bylinkin told him to start asking questions.
   “This team,” said Yuryev, “do I put it together?”
   “No. We have already selected the members.”
   “When can I meet them?”
   “Patience,” Bylinkin said with a smile, “everything in good time.”
   “All right, what are they experts in?”
   “Including you, the team consists of fifteen people divided into five squads: ‘A’, a pair of trained killers; ‘Be’, two guards who will shadow the As; ‘I’, two agents who will handle logistics; ‘O’, comprising six agents who form the core of the operation, surveilling targets and establishing an escape route for the A and Be squads; and ‘Kha’, two agents specializing in communications.  You’re the team leader.  We want everyone to read in Pravda some famous Bolshevik is dead, who knows who blew him up?”
   “Are there other teams? Or - - -”
   “You’re underprepared.  But you’ll figure it out."
   And now finally, this afternoon, Yuryev and Bylinkin were driving to an apartment on the outskirts of Omsk to meet the rest of the team.  A young, serious-looking girl led them into another room, then closed the door behind them.
   The eleven men and four women in the room looked up as they entered.  All were dressed casually, except for one who was wearing a suit and tie.
   There was a split second of silence.  Yuryev and the others were looking at each other. 
   “Well,” said Bylinkin.  He stopped and cleared his throat.  “Everybody, I want you to meet Nikifor Mikhailovich.  He’s going to be in charge of the mission.  Nikifor Mikhailovich, this is your A squad, Mikhail Nikolaevich and Natalia Mikhailovna…”
   Yuryev shook hands firmly with Mikhail, but he turned to Bylinkin and asked, “Are you telling me that Natalia Mikhailovna is a trained killer?”
   “Yes, sir,” beamed Natalia with pride.  “I was trained at a special camp in the Baikal Mountains.  Mikhail and I can use suppressed pistols, deliver toxins via injection or food, even strangle someone with a cheese cutter.”
   “And this is your Be squad, Feliks Andreevich and Angelika Victorovna…”
   “I didn’t realize the Intelligence Department had so many women,” said Yuryev. 
   “In espionage, like in police work, there is nothing better than having a woman accomplice on hand,” said Bylinkin.  “Let’s say you are shadowing a target— say, waiting in a car — and have a lady with you, you are far less likely to be questioned.  This is your I squad, Galina Vladimirovna and Zakhar Ruslanovich… your O squad, Artemiy Yevgenievich, Lazar Igorevich, Nikita Anatolievich, Samuil Konstantinovich, Artyem Makarovich and Andrei Vadimovich… and your Kha squad, Tikhon Vasilievich and Olesya Valerievna.”
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 12, 2017, 02:54:24 AM
“These people have all been selected for the team because of their various skills,” said Bylinkin.  “All right, we haven’t got all the time in the world.  Let’s sit down and go over some details. This will be our only meeting together. The next time you see each other will be on the mission.”
   Yuryev was too tense to sit.  He watched Zakhar refilling his pipe, wishing for the first time in his life that he was a smoker.  The others all seemed completely relaxed.  Artemiy was patting his pockets, concerned only with finding a match.  Yuryev took a deep breath.
   All right. Steady, he told himself.
   “The schedule is as follows,” said Bylinkin.  “Two more days of refresher courses for everyone except Zakhar Ruslanovich and Nikifor Mikhailovich.  That takes us up to the 16th.  That will be a day off; I expect everyone to settle his personal affairs.  On the 17th you will go to Perm.  Choose your own routes and times individually, but get there within two days.  Once there, report to Nikifor Mikhailovich; he will give you the details.  While you are doing your refresher courses, Nikifor Mikhailovich and Zakhar Ruslanovich will look at the list of targets we have prepared. By the time you meet in Perm, they will know as much about them as we do, and they will brief you there.
   “All right. We will give you the list of the targets in order of importance to us, as we see it, but the sequence in which you get them is up to you. Just find them and get them. First come, first served.
   “Now it seems to me that this covers everything. After the 17th you are on your own.  I have every confidence in you.”   
   Okay, the next scene should finally include some action.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on May 12, 2017, 03:12:20 AM
A couple of points of pedantry:
1) People didn't dress 'casually' in 1919. If you look at old photographs, men, including those of modest backgrounds, routinely wore suits and ties, plus hats when out of doors. A photograph of my paternal grandfather, who was a fitter from Liverpool, taken in 1913 (he was born in 1878, so 35 at the time), shows him in a suit and a wing collar. The difference between him and, say, a barrister, would be the quality of the suit. Also the haircut - he had what is known in English usage as pudding basin haircut - nothing below an inch above the ears. For your purposes, you could distinguish between characters on the basis of the quality and fit of their suits. Alternatively, some of them could be wearing uniform. Another point about appearance is that most men then had moustaches.
2) 'Yes, sir' isn't Russian usage. The Table of Ranks prescribed modes of address for everyone on it. Kolchak was an Excellency. A junior officer (Captain, Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant) was 'Your Nobility'.

Hope that helps

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 12, 2017, 03:20:15 AM
Point 1 is well-taken.  As for point 2, do you you know where I can find a copy of the table which includes forms of address?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on May 12, 2017, 03:43:20 AM
There is a copy of the Table of Ranks in wikipedia.

Thinking more about the clothes point, even teenage boys routinely wore suits. I also have a photograph of my maternal grandfather, taken in 1902 when he was 17. This is during the period when he was stranded in Sydney after being packed off to sea by his father and stepmother at the age of 14. Does he look like a sailor? Not at all! He is wearing a smart suit and a collar so stiff that it makes my neck hurt to contemplate it. Later on, he went to Canada and was briefly reconciled with his father and stepmother, who had by then gone there (to escape his father's creditors!). He and his father made a dugout canoe, and there is a photo of them standing in it - wearing suits and hats!

You could distinguish between city-type suits and 'country' suits (in the UK that would be tweed), and have your smarter characters in stiff collars.   

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on May 13, 2017, 07:46:00 PM
Ann good points on the clothes but in Russia during the Civil war clothing was hard to come by. I would say of the agents some would be in uniform or parts of uniforms some would be in Russian peasant clothing no suits and ties. The women would be wearing dresses or skirts and blouses a mixture of western and Russian peasant attire. Note many of the soldiers and officers in the White armies in Siberia were often described as ragged looking. uniforms would not be only Russian it could include German, Austrian and British. The first two were from POWs the latter were sent as aid during the Russian Civil war. Also being March in Siberia everyone would be wearing heavy coats. Also note for a woman to wear a hat or a man to wear a starched collar was enough to sometimes get you arrested as a bourgeois by the reds during the Russian civil war.

I don't think Kolchak would have discussed this sort of plan in front of his cabinet for security reasons. I also don't think the Whites at this time would have had photos of all the men involved. Admiral Kolchak from what I have read about him doesn't look like the sort of man to have had anything to do with this sort of plot. I should also point out at this time the Whites were confident that they were going to defeat the Reds by the end of the year 1919.

I'll have more keep up the good work
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 14, 2017, 01:35:04 AM
Ann good points on the clothes but in Russia during the Civil war clothing was hard to come by. I would say of the agents some would be in uniform or parts of uniforms some would be in Russian peasant clothing no suits and ties. The women would be wearing dresses or skirts and blouses a mixture of western and Russian peasant attire. Note many of the soldiers and officers in the White armies in Siberia were often described as ragged looking. uniforms would not be only Russian it could include German, Austrian and British. The first two were from POWs the latter were sent as aid during the Russian Civil war. Also being March in Siberia everyone would be wearing heavy coats. Also note for a woman to wear a hat or a man to wear a starched collar was enough to sometimes get you arrested as a bourgeois by the reds during the Russian civil war.

Thanks so much, James.  Very useful indeed, I'll keep it all in mind.

I don't think Kolchak would have discussed this sort of plan in front of his cabinet for security reasons.

If the story gave the impression he was discussing it with his entire cabinet, then that is a flaw in my writing ability.  I was trying to portray him as discussing it with a select group within his cabinet, including those ministers such as war, justice and foreign affairs whose portfolios would have had bearing on such a plan; similar to the way Obama restricted knowledge of Operation Neptune's Spear to a small circle within the NSC.

I also don't think the Whites at this time would have had photos of all the men involved.

The transcript of Pavel Medvedev's interrogation shows that by February 1919, the Whites had a photo of Yurovsky in their possession, but perhaps you're right and I took too much artistic license here.

Admiral Kolchak from what I have read about him doesn't look like the sort of man to have had anything to do with this sort of plot.

Again, I failed to convey my desired portrayal of him.  I was trying to make it seem like he was reluctantly authorizing the campaign.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 23, 2017, 03:09:27 AM
Sorry for the delay.  This scene may contain some profanity.

April 7, 1919

   Bylinkin felt the familiar drumbeat of adrenaline in his neck. “The target has left the canteen.  He’s on his way to the tram,” Artemiy reported.  Bylinkin checked his pocket watch, then lit a cigarette.  It was 2130 hours.  He estimated that in just under an hour the two-week undercover operation would come to a close.  He and the team were on the verge of assassinating Mikhail Medvedev.
   In the months since the massacre in Yekaterinburg, Medvedev had risen within the ranks of the Cheka and was now working in its Information Department.  The team had been working undercover for over two weeks, on foot and in cars, from close and afar, watching his every move.  Now Andrei and Samuil followed him as he walked toward his apartment building in southern Moscow on Kaluzhskaya Square.
   Two weeks of following Medvedev had led to a simple assassination plan.  Medvedev walked around in the open and allowed his habits to fall into a pattern.  Bylinkin and Yuryev drew up a plan based on Medvedev’s predictable schedule: Mikhail and Natalia would wait and then kill him at the entrance to his home. 
   Earlier that evening, at around 2030 hours, a car driven by a young resident of Moscow had picked the latter two up a couple of blocks from their hotel, the Budapesht, just where Petrovka Ulitsa meets Ulitsa Kuznetsky Most.  Driving at a leisurely pace - by Russian standards - the car proceeded down Petrovka Ulitsa and turned right onto Mokhovaya Ulitsa, crossed the Moskva river by way of the Bolshoy Kamenny Most, and again where Ulitsa Serafimovicha turned into Ulitsa Bolshaya Polyanka and picked its way down
Zhitnaya Ulitsa.  Mikhail tapped the driver’s shoulder when they reached the corner of Ulitsa Mytnaya.  The young man pulled over, let Mikhail and Natalia out, then circled the square and sped off in the direction from whence he came.  It was now a few minutes after 2100 hours. 
   Mikhail and Natalia strolled across the square, observing that Lazar was already sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked between the main entrance to the apartment building and the school next door.  Lazar saw them, too, but ignored them.  Instead, he said something to the Galina, who was sitting in the driver’s seat.  Mikhail and Natalia watched as she got out of the car, walked slowly to the corner of Ulitsa Mitnaya, and walked back to the car.  She didn’t know it, but she had just signaled to the team that the target had been at home, but had gone out again.  If he had been home the girl would have remained in the car.  If Lazar had seen something that made him decide to scrub the mission, on seeing Mikhail and Natalia he would have told the girl to drive off.  In that case they would have walked over to the other side of the street, where Nikita was waiting in a rented green Mercedes Knight with Petrograd license plates.  Nikita also had a local woman in his car.  If Lazar had given the “abort” signal, Mikhail and Natalia would have hopped into the Mercedes and driven away.
   But, for now, the mission appeared to be a go.  Mikhail and Natalia continued walking around the square, talking in low voices, keeping Lazar and Nikita in sight.  They knew that by know Yuryev would have checked Mikhail and himself out of the Budapesht —the others had checked out of their hotels earlier—and would also have deposited a fresh set of passports, driver’s licenses and some cash for each of them at several predetermined spots throughout Moscow, in case they got separated and had to make their way out of the city on their own.  By now Yuryev was probably having a quiet drink in one of the many working men’s bars in the neighborhood, sitting by a window, keeping an eye on the streets leading into the square.  The major part of his job would not begin until later.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 23, 2017, 03:12:06 AM
Another half hour passed before Mikhail saw Lazar get out of the car in front of the entrance.  Lazar looked at his pocket watch, walked over to the driver’s side, leaned against the door, and chatted casually for a few seconds with the girl behind the wheel. Then he waved farewell to her and started walking across the square towards Zhitnaya Ulitsa, without looking at Mikhail or Natalia.  The girl drove away.  Nikita was still sitting with the other girl in the Mercedes parked a few sazhens away.  Apparently it was time to get in position.  If tonight was like most nights, Medvedev would be walking home from the tram stop within the next few minutes.  Lazar sending his car away was the signal that he had spotted Feliks and Angelika strolling towards the square, arm in arm.  Their job was to precede the target by about a minute as he made his way home. 
   Having spotted them, Lazar took up position next to the second getaway car, a beat-up Fiat parked a few hundred sazhens from the square, with Artyem sitting behind the wheel.  Mikhail and Natalia began crossing the square at a relaxed pace toward the main entrance of the apartment building, keeping an eye on Nikita in the Mercedes.  It would have been injudicious to linger in the hallway longer than needed.  Unless and until the girl sitting beside Nikita got out of the car, Mikhail and Natalia would not enter the apartment lobby.
   If she got out of the car only to walk away, Mikhail and Natalia would not enter at all. This would be the final signal to abort the mission. It could mean that the target was accompanied by someone else, or had changed his direction entirely.  He would be coming from around the corner, invisible to Mikhail and Natalia.  The only thing visible to them was the girl in Nikita’s Mercedes, or at least the back of her auburn head.
   Mikhail felt his stomach muscles tighten.  He snatched a quick look at Natalia, but her face displayed no anxiety.  If anything, she looked slightly bored.
   It was time for the brunette to make a move, one way or the other.
   She did.  She was stepping out of the Mercedes.  And she ran instead of walking, with the awkward, high-heeled run of a young girl, over to Feliks and Angelika.  “Privyet!” she shouted at them as she took hold of Feliks’ other arm with both hands.  Laughing, chatting, clinging together, the trio passed by the school.  Presumably a minute ahead of the target.  Swiftly, decisively, as if he had meant to do nothing else all his life, Mikhail walked through the main entrance of the building and into the hallway.  He did not, by word or gesture, signal Natalia to follow him. He had no doubt that Natalia would be right behind, but she would have entered the hall anyway. 
   Everyone was spread out in their positions, alert and electric with tension.
   Inside the lobby the air was cool and a little damp.  Mikhail and Natalia had looked into it the previous day, just long enough to get an idea of the layout.  The stairs.  A kind of reflecting glass, like a mirror, on one wall—which now gave Mikhail a start even though he ought to have remembered it was there.  For a second he thought there was someone waiting in the lobby. Shit! Jumping at his own shadow. Fortunately Natalia seemed not to notice.
   The two agents switched off the lights, then stepped into the shadows of the darkened anteroom and waited.  The electric lights in Moscow were continually failing, so a darkened lobby probably wouldn’t arouse the residents’ suspicions.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 23, 2017, 03:14:51 AM
Looking back towards the entry they could see people walking by; silhouettes framed for a split second in the narrow doorway. A woman. An older couple. A dog, pausing, looking back, wagging its tail, trotting away again.
   Then, without any doubt, the man they were waiting to kill.  Dressed in the Chekist’s signature black leather jacket and a peaked cap, with a leather holster on his hip.  Carrying a newspaper.  Just at this moment the dash-dot of a car horn reached their ears—Nikita signaling them from the green Mercedes—but it wasn’t necessary. They knew.
   What would happen if people walked in after they had already begun what, in the team’s vocabulary, was called “the action”?  The best idea Mikhail could come up with was to dismiss such a possibility. Zero risk could only mean near-zero risk, not absolute zero. Even Bylinkin had acknowledged that in such operations it was impossible to plan for all eventualities.
   The target was coming through the door.
   Except—Mikhail could hardly believe his eyes—a man and a woman were following right at his heels.  A couple of innocent bystanders. Natalia saw them too. They were about to walk through the door, just a few paces behind the man with the newspaper. 
   At this point Natalia made a sudden move, possibly because of the couple walking behind the man. Later she wasn’t certain herself why she moved; maybe she considered the mission aborted and she was starting to head out of the building. In any case, she moved—and the couple behind the target might have sensed the movement, caught sight of a dim figure they did not know in the dark lobby. Or they might simply have changed their minds about entering the building. They stopped.
   Then the man seemed to pull at the woman’s hand, and they both walked away.
   Ahead of them, the man with the newspaper noticed nothing. He continued walking into the lobby towards the stairs with firm, customary steps, not worrying about the darkness.  A thin slight man with no though of danger.
   Mikhail and Natalia stepped out of the shadows and moved between Medvedev and the curved staircase.  Natalia reached out and switched on the light.
   Caught in the sudden glow, which wasn’t at all bright, Medvedev looked up but he did not slow down or stop. His expression wasn’t frightened. He wasn’t even startled, only a little puzzled, perhaps.  He looked at Mikhail and Natalia, and they looked at him.  Everyone was blank for a moment before Natalia asked, “Are you Comrade Medvedev?”
   The question was mere operational formality. The minute the lights had come on, both agents recognized the former sailor.
   “Yes?” said Medvedev.  “What do you want?”
   “Do you know why we’re here?” asked Mikhail.
   “No,” said the Chekist, frowning.  “Who sent you?”
   “Justice sent us,” said Mikhail as he and Natalia moved together.  Half a step back with the right foot, knees bending in combat crouch. Right hand held close to the body, sweeping back jacket, fingers curved for the pistol grip. Left palm down, moving in a short semicircle over the right coming up with the modified, silenced 7.65mm Browning.  The slide being pulled back and snapping forward.  Less than one second.  One second for the enemy to fire first.  The Intelligence Department’s one second trade-off for zero risk, for never having a weapon in your hand, for never having a bullet raised from the clip into firing position. Until you intended to use it. Then, no more warning, no more waiting.
   For another second nothing happened.  The first second—making sure, before pulling a gun—was regulation. But after they both had their Brownings in their hands there was one more second that had nothing to do with the drill. An unrehearsed pause.  Later, Mikhail thought that they had each simply been hoping that the other would fire first.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 23, 2017, 03:17:35 AM
Medvedev moved.  He unsnapped the flap on his holster and was fumbling with his own Browning when the first bullets struck him in the chest.  Mikhail and Natalia had fired in unison.  Twice.  Twice, twice, then twice again, their aim following Medvedev’s body as he screamed in pain, then dropped to his knees, then fell flat on his face.  His pistol fell from his hand.  He tried to roll over to reach it but couldn’t.  “Help…help…me…please,” he panted almost inaudibly.  Natalia walked up close, kicked the dying man over onto his back, and fired another shot right into his head.  Mikhail followed suit, even though Medvedev had already stopped moving.  Dazed, they each fired again.
   Mikhail saw Natalia bending down for some unaccountable reason. At first he thought his partner wanted to look at Medvedev’s body, but in fact she was starting to pick up the ejected shells.  Realizing he ought to do the same, Mikhail slammed the light switch on, and quickly began locating, picking up and pocketing the shell casings.   Both of them counted up to … eleven.  They looked for the twelfth casing but eventually gave up.
   Natalia was crouching over the body.  She held her hand over her nose and mouth, smelling something terrible, and gagged.  “Let’s go,” said Mikhail, as he tucked his gun into his belt, starting to move towards the exit at a fast walking pace. Looking back, he could see Natalia straightening up and following him.  Natalia seemed dazed.  She was trying to put her gun away, but in the end she just held it under her jacket.
   They walked out quickly through the main entrance on to the square. Behind them the lights were still burning in the lobby. Less than three minutes must have elapsed since Medvedev had entered the building—maybe less than two.
   They walked towards the green Mercedes, quickening their pace as they went. Fixing his eye on the car, parked only two dozen sazhens away, Mikhail did not even notice whether they had been passing other people on the sidewalk or not.  The closer they got to the car the faster they walked, and for the last few steps Mikhail could feel himself breaking into a run. Without meaning to. He yanked open the rear door, and let Natalia tumble into the back seat ahead of him.  They noticed that the auburn-haired girl had left.
   Nikita turned back.  “What happened?” he asked anxiously just as Mikhail was slamming the door shut.
   “Nothing.  It’s done,” Mikhail replied. “We shot him.  Let’s go.”
   “We killed him,” affirmed Natalia.
   “Twelve shots!” shouted Mikhail.
   “He shat himself!  He’s dead!” cried Natalia.
   Everyone stopped shouting.  They sat in silence as the Mercedes shot forward. It leapt into the flow of traffic around Kaluzhskaya Square, forcing another car to brake and swerve so hard it nearly spun around its axis. It was unbelievably close. Mikhail could already hear the crunch of metal and was surprised when it didn’t come. The next few hundred yards along Ulitsa  Mytnaya were just a blur. 
   Lazar, on the other hand seemed totally calm, waiting for them as they pulled in behind the Fiat, a few hundred sazhens away.  He motion to Artyem to move forward to give Nikita some room, then opened the door of the car for them, but kept his eyes on the traffic coming from Kaluzhskaya Square as Nikita parked the Mercedes.  There was nothing to indicate that they had been pursued.
   “Do you have everything?” Mikhail asked Natalia as they clambered into the Fiat.  She nodded, but looked a bit doubtful.  She had put her Browning away but kept feeling the pockets of her jacket as if she had missed something. 
   “What’s the matter, Natalia?” asked Mikhail.  “Are you sure you didn’t drop something?”
   “Ah, no, I don’t think so,” she said, but there was uncertainty in her voice. 
   “Don’t worry,” said Artyem.  “If you did, Andrei and Samuil will pick it up.”
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 23, 2017, 03:19:48 AM
“Yes,” agreed Mikhail. 
   No one spoke after that.  Artyem drove at a moderate speed for the next twenty minutes or so before pulling into what looked like a stonemason’s yard, somewhere on the southern edge of the city.  Mikhail could feel himself getting anxious again as the Fiat pulled to a stop.  He and Natalia had slid fresh clips into their Brownings in the green Mercedes.  Lazar, Nikita and Artyem were armed, too.  Still, they were now all entering the most vulnerable phase of the mission, completely in the hands of others of whom they knew nothing except that they were not their own people.
   The Fiat drove away, leaving them standing on the soft, sandy soil, in front of some low sheds filled with half-finished tombstones. A little distance away, on the open ground, two small Packards were parked, perpendicular to each other. The driver in the second Packard was smoking.  Mikhail could see the glow of his cigarette in the dark.
   Instinctively they fanned out as they approached the two cars. As Mikhail walked slowly, about 5 arshins from Lazar, the idea that flashed through his mind was that the concept of “zero risk” was really a bad joke. Certainly as it applied to them, at this moment.
   On the other hand, they had done the first job.
   The engines of the little Packards came to life.  Nikita and Natalia were already getting into the first one. The driver of the second was stubbing out his cigarette and opening the door for Mikhail and Lazar.  Whatever might yet happen would not be at this spot or at this time.
   Outside the city limits, the two cars turned south in the direction of Voronezh.  Mikhail could see that they weren’t taking the main highway, but a smaller secondary road.  He caught a glimpse of a sign. They were headed toward the small town of Michnevo.

   Minutes later, Adrian Bylinkin, his staff officers, and Miroshnichenko, who had made the dangerous journey behind enemy lines to personally oversee the mission, received word from Yuryev.  The signal released the tension in the air. Officers went from pensive waiting to quick action, gathering papers and packing bags.  Within four hours, all the Intelligence Department officers and combatants, from Miroshnichenko to the most junior member of the O squad, had left Moscow by train and automobile.

   Several hours later, 13 of the 16 team members were sitting around a table in a safe house in Michnevo.  The gramophone was playing Tchaikovsky.  Lazar, Nikita, Mikhail and Natalia were drinking vodka, a little sloshed.  Nikita was drinking happily; Natalia was drunker and more glum.  Mikhail was tense, watching the door, waiting for something.
   Yuryev, Andrei and Samuil walked in, looking very tired.  This was what Mikhail was waiting for.  Andrei sat next to Mikhail.  The others watched.
   “Well, what do you want me to say?” Andrei demanded.  “He’s dead.”  He reached in his pocket, and took out a bullet casing.  He tossed it to Mikhail, who pocketed it.
   “Have some vodka,” said Mikhail.  “We’re celebrating.”
   “Well—that’s one,” said Lazar.  “As a matter of curiosity, would you like to know the cost?  Give or take a few kopecks, he cost us, by my calculations, roughly seven hundred and four thousand rubles.”
   Mikhail raised his bottle.  “To the martyrs,” he said solemnly.  The others raised their bottles, toasted and drank, and a sorrow descended as they remembered.
   “It was so easy,” said Mikhail.
   “Perhaps too easy,” said Samuil.  “And if it’s that easy for us, it’s that easy for them.  All they have to do is find us.”
   Mikhail nodded.  “Have you ever killed a man?” he asked.
   Samuil shook his head.
   The "Grande valse villageoise” from Sleeping Beauty was playing.  Mikhail got to his feet, then pulled Natalia up and they started to dance, Natalia heavy, stumbling a little.  Yuryev joined them, throwing his arms around their shoulders.  Mikhail pulled Andrei in, and soon they were all out on the floor, dancing out of time, awkward, self-conscious, as a strange sort of closeness settled in.

   The investigation into the murder of Medvedev was never closed.  The Cheka almost immediately shot several hostages in retribution, but they made little progress in finding the actual killers.  They picked up clues from the assassination site, including the rented getaway cars, in one of which they found an unfired 7.65mm cartridge, but they all lead to dead ends.

Ann, with regards to forms of address, I read one source that said that in the Russian army before 1917, gospodin could be used to address military superiors.  So couldn’t that be translated as “sir”?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 24, 2017, 01:20:21 AM
April 15, 1919
   Reinholds Berzins had not been expecting a personally addressed envelope.  For the past four months he had been working as inspector of the Latvian Army.  When he had arrived at his office this morning, he found only one guard on duty outside.  After exchanging salutes, Berzins asked where the other guard was, and was told he had gone to get a bite to eat.  Satisfied, Berzins continued into his office and began reading the report he had received the previous night. 
   He was two-thirds of the way through when a starshina arrived with a bag of mail.  It was Berzin’s orders to record all incoming mail, so the starshina took the bag into the mail room and began making his daily log of what had arrived, from where and from whom.
   About five minutes later Berzins’ phone rang.  He picked up the receiver.  “Yes?” he asked.
   “An envelope marked ‘Urgent and Confidential’ has arrived for you.”  It was the starshina.  “It has the security clearance marks on it.”
   “Very well, I will come collect it,” said Berzins.  He put the report down and walked down the hall to the mail room.  There, lying on the table, he saw a slim envelope with his name written on it in bright green ink.  Since most of the mail was addressed to “Inspector General, Workers and Peasants Red Army of the Latvian SSR,” Berzins became instantly curious.  When he tore open the envelope, he released a tiny spring, which hit a detonator smaller than an aspirin tablet, and set off the two five-dyuim strips of gelignite.   Although they weighed less than a zolotnik, the explosives triggered a powerful blast, sending shrapnel into Berzins’ face, chest and arms and ripping off two fingers on his left hand. 
   Berzins was rushed to the hospital, where he required surgery to stabilize numerous broken bones.  In the months to come he would require numerous further surgeries on his hand.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on May 24, 2017, 02:00:58 PM
Fair point about gospodin, but it's also used to address God (as westerners say 'Lord'), so 'sir' doesn't really carry the nuance.

Are you going to include a glossary of Russian weights and measures?

Reconstructive surgery didn't really exist in 1919, so I suspect Berzins would end up losing his entire hand; if you give him gangrene, the entire arm.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 25, 2017, 01:32:55 AM
1 sazhen = 7 ft (1.336m)
1 arshin = 2 1/3 ft (.7112 m)
1 dyuim = 1 inch (.0254 m)
1 zolotnik = .152 oz (4.26580 g)
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on May 25, 2017, 01:55:45 AM
Many thanks.

A zolotnik - what a lovely word.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 25, 2017, 02:35:55 AM
April 16, 1919

   L.S. Sosnovsky, the editor of Pravda, was in his office chatting with an assistant editor and a reporter when the envelope arrived.  “This is important,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for it.”  He was expecting a reply from Lenin to his report recommending a new system for educating and indoctrinating provincial editors and journalists.  The envelope was heavier than he expected; later, he would remember the weight in his hand.  He tore it open, but when he did the only thing he saw was a green wire.  The next moment the bomb exploded in his face.  His eyes were gone.  The explosion lifted him off his feet to the ceiling, breaking the ceiling tiles with his head.  His world was black.  He could smell the blood.  He began to crawl to the door, but he couldn’t feel his arms.
   Soon a doctor arrived and began working to save Sosnovsky.  The doctor wiped away the blood and administered morphine before transporting Sosnovsky to the hospital, together with the assistant editor and the reporter, whose injuries were less severe.  Sosnovsky asked for a mirror, but of course couldn’t see anything.  His family came.
   The doctors did the work necessary to save him, but they offered little hope.  After their examination they told Sosnovsky’s family that it was not possible he would get his vision or his mobility below his neck back.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 26, 2017, 09:02:23 AM
May 20, 1919

   Varlam Avanesov was sitting at the kitchen table when his daughter brought in the day’s mail.  Looking through it, he noticed a padded brown envelope.  There seemed to be nothing unusual about it.  He opened several other letters before coming to the brown envelope.  He had only made the tiniest tear in it when it exploded.  Hands burning and unable to see or hear, he was thrown backwards, screaming and experiencing a pain he didn't think was possible. Then he was plunged into darkness.
   15 hours later, he awakened in a haze of morphine.  “Hello,” said a voice.  “Welcome back to the world, Comrade Avanesov.”
   He looked around, taking in his surrounding.  “Where am I?” he asked.  He saw he was in a bed, and a doctor and two nurses were standing by his side.  He looked down at his left hand, only to find that where it used to be, there was now a bandaged stump.
   “I am so sorry, Comrade,” said the doctor.  “The explosion tore off all the fingers on your hand, and we had to amputate to save your life.  We want to keep you here for another week or so to observe you, but unless complications set in, we think you will be out of danger by then.
   Avanesov would eventually be fitted with a mechanical hand, which relied on gears, springs and cogs to flex, rotate and grip objects.

   Elsewhere in Moscow, Pavel Gorbunov settled in his office.  After the fall of Ekaterinburg, he had been given a job with the State Planning Committee.  Having just returned from a vacation at his dacha in the suburbs, he found a stack of mail, including a padded envelope, sitting on his chair. 
   Ripping open the envelope, smoke billowed out, and then a flash.  Gorbunov headed to a nearby bathroom to wash his eye out before discovering a more pressing concern - he was bleeding profusely.  Rather than wait for help to arrive, he hobbled down five flights of stairs and across the street, where a small clinic was fortuitously located.  Had he waited, he likely would have bled to death, doctors told him.  When he got there, he had a blood pressure of zero.  Investigators later found one of his shoes in his office - where shrapnel sliced through metal filing cabinets - and his bloodied shirt strewn on the staircase.  The bomb had severely wounded his abdomen, chest, face and hand, and he would never be able to use his right hand again.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 26, 2017, 02:29:18 PM
May 21, 1919

   When Isay Rodzinsky walked into his office, he didn’t notice the bulky letter addressed to him in a rough scrawl until he sat down behind his desk and bent down to get something out of the bottom drawer.  Because the security stamp that stated “Clear of Explosives” was clearly showing on the envelope, he felt it was safe to open it.  He also thought that Smirnov, the man responsible for double-checking the Vladimir Cheka’s mail, had also checked everything for explosives.
   He proceeded to open the envelope, but no sooner had he done so than he realized that something was amiss.  Why was the letter so large?  He started to toss it away.  It was at that moment that the bomb exploded.
   The explosion ripped into Rodzinsky’s arms, chest and face, shattering windows and blowing out his office door.  His fellow Chekists came running.  They rushed the still-conscious Rodzinsky to the nearest hospital.  His left arm was so badly mangled that it had to be amputated just below the elbow.

   The Bolsheviks responded to the letter bombs with another spate of summary executions, but as with Medvedev’s murder, they were never able to identify the actual perpetrator. 

   Ok, I promise that’s the end of the letter bomb campaign.  The next scene will rejoin the team.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on May 27, 2017, 02:43:46 AM

Apologies for all this pedantry, but I rather doubt they had padded envelopes in this period. There was an IRA letter bomb campaign in Britain in the early 1970s, particularly book bombs, and I think each time it was a smallish flat package. I distinctly remember that one was sent to the Catholic Bishop to the Forces, and he said in a newspaper interview that it was very fortunate that the villains sent him a bomb in a Bible, as it was the one book he would not have immediately started to thumb through.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 27, 2017, 02:11:06 PM
Please don't apologize, Ann.  I welcome corrections and criticism.

On a related note, do you think I'd be stretching it if the next scene involved a remote-controlled bomb?  I know that Tesla first demonstrated the concept of RC in the 1890's, and during WW1 the Germans used FL-boats that were operated by RC, except they were controlled via a spool of wire unwound behind the boat.  The first RC airplane was demonstrated in 1917, but my understanding is that it wasn't until WW2 that military use of remote control really took off.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on May 27, 2017, 07:13:37 PM
Some comments and errata from me:

There were no remote controlled bombs ect back then a time bomb with a clock should be possible.

You have the hit team using 4 cars in Moscow where in the Russian Civil War a working car was rare. Then you mention a rented car not possible in Moscow at this time.

Letter bombs I don't think were possible back then. A bomb in a package was possible. or a egg type hand grenade in a package could be used.

The IDF trains its soldiers to carry semi-auto pistols with the chamber empty and to work a round into the chamber and fire quickly. These shooters back then would have had rounds in the chamber ready. this is the way John Browning designed his auto pistols to be carried. and I don't think they would stop to pick up their fired shell casings ballistics was a new science back then.

As for most of them heading for one safe house this is bad security. Too many eggs in one basket. Also going there by car would make you stand out back then

If they were going to leave Moscow in April 1919 when it is starting to thaw out they would all have to go by train or horseback any car would soon get stuck in the mud.

Note medical care for the reds even in Moscow was poor. One or more of the bomb victims would probably die as a result of infection ect in a few weeks or months time. This happened to a number of WW I wounded.

You mentioned Drivers licenses? I think they would be rare then. I also believe I have read that peasants passports had no picture ID in the pre WWI Russian Empire.

In the SR plot the wounded Lenin they split Moscow in to 4 sections each containing a two person team one scout and one shooter. The scout found out where Lenin or Trotsky would be and notified the shooter who would carry out the hit.

I will have more:
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 27, 2017, 07:59:46 PM
As far as letter bombs, I had read that Vice President Thomas Marshall was the recipient of one in 1915.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 27, 2017, 09:05:56 PM
Also with regards to all of them being in one safe house: Mossad didn't learn that until after the Lillehammer Affair, when four members of the kidon were arrested at a safe house (after two others were arrested while trying to use the getaway car to reach the airport).  So if one of the world's top intelligence agencies was practicing bad security as late as 1973, it's not unthinkable they would have done it over 50 years earlier.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 01, 2017, 01:11:53 AM
May 29, 1919

   Aleksei Kabanov was a soft target.  True, he carried a gun like all Chekists, but he had no nervous tingling on the back of his neck, no instinct to look over his shoulder. 
   Kabanov lived quietly in an apartment on Mozdokskaya Ulitsa in Astrakhan, where he was now employed by that city’s Cheka.   He appeared to have tightened his security slightly after Medvedev’s death and the letter bomb campaign, but the Whites could easily have killed him in the street.  Kabanov, however, was selected for a more dramatic death than Medvedev, one that would frighten his comrades.  Killing Kabanov required the White hit team to devise an intricate plan.  The agents spent at least two weeks conducting intense surveillance of him. 
   Artemiy and Lazar had meticulously explored the bustling, crowded neighborhood in southern Astrakhan where Kabanov lived.  Driving in a small tarantass, they practiced the approach and escape routes for two days.  They experimented with the morning traffic routes, deciding that the best escape route after the hit would take them along Kubanskaya Ulitsa, across the Varvatsievsky and Kommerchesky bridges to their safe house.  The way the operation was set up there would be no need for them to abandon any vehicles.
   “He leaves the apartment at about 0800 hours,” Nikita reported to the rest of the team, as they gathered at the safe house one evening.  “He travels about five blocks, picks up a woman.  It could be his mistress, or a secretary, I don’t know.  Then on to Cheka headquarters.  He returns alone at about 1700 hours, although every now and then he’ll go back to work for a few hours at night, presumably to shoot people.  That’s it.”
   “Well then,” said Yuryev, “probably the best time to do it is after he’s come home for the evening.”
   Getting to Kabanov was relatively easy.  But although the O squad had followed his every move for the last two weeks, Bylinkin and his staff officers had been unable to draft a solid plan.  They knew they had to act promptly: soon Kabanov might catch an appraising stare or feel the heat of a tail.
   Bylinkin sought assistance outside the hit team.  Although Bylinkin hated the idea of bringing in outsiders, Miroshnichenko ordered him to summon Raduga - Rainbow, the Intelligence Department’s burglary unit, which specialized in covert breaking and entering into locked apartments, hotel rooms, safes, and factories.  The tiny unit was commanded by Innokenty Korotayev.
   On a  morning in late May, Samuil stood watch and waited until Kabanov had left for work, whereupon he signaled to two Raduga agents, who proceeded to make their way to Kabanov’s apartment and quietly examined the lock on his front door.  They picked the lock with a bent wire.  Slipping inside, one agent kept lookout while the other snapped photos of the apartment from every conceivable angle.  Bylinkin’s staff officers pored over the snapshots and decided that a small individual-sized bomb would be the best way to kill the former Life Guard.  The photos showed an electric lamp located on Kabanov’s bedside table, and it was decided that this would be the means of Kabanov’s death.  Two explosives experts, Robert and Zinoviy, were brought in especially from Omsk for the job.  The exact date of the hit would be predicated on how soon their explosive device could be designed, manufactured, smuggled into Astrakhan, and put in place.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 01, 2017, 01:13:13 AM
The making of bombs, where safety and selectivity were not factors, was relatively simple. The main explosive would be a comparatively stable substance, like dynamite or gelignite, which could then be fitted with a small detonator—a tiny amount of very unstable explosive often of the nitric or sulphuric acid family—which could be set off by anything from percussion to a small amount of weak electric current. It could be activated mechanically by, for instance, an alarm clock. 
   The next day, one of the Raduga agents broke in again and examined the lamp.  He lifted it and wrote down on a notepad the model serial number.  He placed the lamp on the pad; he outlined the lamp’s base, then measured its height with his fingers and made marks on  the pad corresponding to this measurement.
   May 27, a Tuesday, found Robert and Zinoviy in the safe house with a lamp identical to the model in Kabanov’s apartment.  The rest of the team gathered round to watch, as the two explosives experts put the finishing touches to their bomb.
   “So, we fit the gelignite in here like this,” Robert explained.  “And I hope that’s enough.”
   Yuryev looked nervously at the device.
   “Don’t worry, it’s not connected yet,” Robert reassured him.
   As Robert explained the plan, the bomb was installed in the base of the lamp in front of them, which would then be switched with the lamp in Kabanov’s apartment.  When Kabanov turned on the lamp, the current would travel not to the light bulb, but to a detonator, which would set off the chunk of gelignite in the base of the lamp.  “And… good-bye, Kabanov,” he concluded.
   Yuryev thought the device, as described, was almost accident-proof. Almost.  “Zero risk,” he reminded Robert.
   Robert shrugged.  There was no such thing as absolute zero risk.  His device would reduce the risk to as near zero as possible; but if even this was too much risk for Yuryev, they would have to think of an entirely different way.
   “All right,” said Yuryev, after a little hesitation. “Make sure you don’t make it so big we kill everybody in the whole damn building.”
   “I have a different problem,” Robert said. “I’ll have to make sure it’ll pack enough punch for the Bolshevik standing right next to it. There isn’t much room in this lamp.”
   The bomb looked very light, as Yuryev held it in his hand.  Hardly enough to harm a man, except Yuryev remembered seeing the damage a zolotnik of gelignite could cause inside a letter bomb.  “Let’s hope it works,” Yuryev said as he handed the box back to Robert.
   That same day the team split up into two new safe houses.
   Now, finally, today, shortly after Kabanov left for work, the two Raduga operatives picked the lock on his apartment one last time, allowing Robert and Zinoviy, who were dressed as telephone repairmen, to enter with the bomb lamp, which they carried in a valise.  Robert estimated that the work might take twenty to thirty minutes, less rather than more.  Yuryev, Feliks, and Angelika waited outside the building, which was usually quiet late in the morning, to warn Robert and Zinoviy if Kabanov should return home unexpectedly.  In the event, Feliks and Angelika would engage him in conversation until Yuryev could get the others out of the apartment. 
   Inside, Robert unplugged the lamp and replaced it with the bomb, while Zinoviy stood gingerly behind him holding the valise.  “I hope you know what you’re doing,” he said, as Robert worked.  After they had finished, they checked that everything was in place before leaving the apartment.  They left no sign of their presence.  Once they were outside, the two Raduga operatives replaced the lock, before they and the explosives experts parted ways and left via separate exits.
   For about fifteen minutes, Yuryev, Feliks and Angelika had stood alone on Mozdokskaya Ulitsa.  Yuryev wished he had brought some chewing gum.
   Then, almost before there could have been time to pick the lock, Robert and Zinoviy came strolling back across the street. 
   “You’re joking,” Yuryev said. “All set?”
   “Well, I don’t know,” Robert replied. “I guess we’ll find out tonight.”
   The O squad’s surveillance of the apartment continued for the rest of the day.  At 1630 hours, Artemiy, Lazar, and Samuil took up their posts in the tarantass, parked about 85 sazhens away; Nikita on horseback, standing a little closer to the main entrance; and Andrei at a kiosk on the next corner, browsing through what few magazines there were.  The latter were acting as guards.  In a command room not far away, Bylinkin, Miroshnichenko, and several staff officers from headquarters waited.  A few minutes after 0515 hours, Kabanov returned home.  The O squad’s job now was to watch to make sure everything went according to plan.  If nothing happened, Robert and Zinoviy would break in again the next day to adjust the bomb.
   A little after 2230 hours, the sound of a dull explosion crackled in the still Astrakhan night.  Boom!  Yuryev could see a sudden shimmering of the air along the front wall as if a little shiver had run through the entire building.  And he could see a criss-cross pattern of thousands of cracks appearing in one of the large windowpanes that the percussive force had shattered.  The glass seemed to bulge outwards, but it held.  A few passers-by stopped and looked up.
   Someone was opening the French windows on a second-floor balcony, coming out and first glancing down into the street, then craning round trying to look up at the windows above him.
   They had done it.
   They had done it again.
   The following morning they were not so sure, sitting in one of the safe houses, looking at the late editions of the papers.  Kabanov was still alive.  Hurt badly, without any doubt, but it was impossible for them to tell from the reports whether or not he would survive.  Artemiy was flipping through a magazine.  Yuryev was grinding herbs in a pestle, preparing lunch.  It was silent when Zakhar walked in.  “He’s at Aleksandro-Mariinskaya Bolnitsa,” he reported.  “I don’t know how badly we hurt him, they aren’t saying.”
   “Another four hundred thousand rubles, more or less, to eliminate number two,” said Lazar.
   “If he’s been eliminated,” said Artemiy.  “We should stick with guns.”
   “No one notices a shooting,” said Yuryev.  “Bombs accomplish a double objective: eliminating targets, and terrifying the Reds.”
   “That only works when the bombs work,” Artemiy returned.
   Kabanov had been critically wounded, the apartment blown apart.  He had remained conscious long enough to tell astonished Astrakhan detectives what had happened.  He had been taken to Aleksandro-Mariinskaya Bolnitsa on Ulitsa Tatishcheva - the other hospital, Bolnitsa Skoroi Meditsinsko Pomoshchi, had been a little closer, but the ambulance had probably been pointed the other way.  The authorities were baffled by the source of the explosion and mentioned “sabotage” as only one, remote possibility.  Yuryev was not unduly concerned; even if Kabanov should survive, they had taken him out of action for a long time, perhaps forever. 
   The team spent two more nights in their Astrakhan safe houses, before leaving the city by separate routes.  At that point, as far as they knew, Kabanov was still alive.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 02, 2017, 07:07:35 PM
June 4, 1919
   Lenin could not believe what he was seeing.  Only yesterday he had spoken to Zinoviev on the telephone, but now, this morning, the front page of Pravda featured Zinoviev’s photo in a black frame, indicating his death.  The article beneath described how Zinoviev had died “at his post” following a brief illness, continuing to work selflessly for the revolution until the very moment of his collapse, and extolled his energetic work on behalf of the workers and peasants.
   Lenin turned to Fotieva, who had brought him the paper.  “How is it that I was not told of this?” he demanded.  “This is unheard of!”
   “I don’t know, Comrade Lenin,” his chief secretary replied.  “That is why I brought it to you, because I, too, had heard nothing until I saw it.”
   Lenin picked up the receiver on one the three telephones that lay on the right side of his desk.  This one was the Petrograd line.
   Zinoviev’s secretary answered on the fourth ring, and for once the connection was clear.
   “Why did no one tell me of Comrade Zinoviev’s passing?” demanded Lenin.
   “His passing?” asked the woman in puzzlement.
   “I only found out from Pravda!” Lenin roared.
   “But I don’t understand!” protested the secretary.  “Just this morning he came in to work!  Shall I go check on him?”
   Lenin reluctantly agreed.  About a minute later he heard a man on the other end of the line.  “Do you recognize my voice?”  It was Zinoviev, unmistakably.
   “Comrade Zinoviev!  What is all this about?” asked Lenin, relieved but still angry.
   “I have no idea, Vladimir Ilyich,” said Zinoviev, “but let me assure you that not only am I alive, I am in the prime of health.”  He proceeded to relate to Lenin an episode that had happened on the sealed train, something only the two of them knew about.
   “I shall have a few words for Nikolai Ivanovich about this!” Lenin fumed.  “Such sloppiness is not acceptable!”
   Before the hour was up, the unfortunate Bukharin had been subjected to a three-minute call which ended with the chairman of Sovnarkom slamming down the phone.
    The very next day, Lenin’s blood pressure rose again, this time over an obituary for Arkady Rosengolts which appeared in Bednota.  This time Lenin ordered Rosengolts to appear in person to confirm he was still alive.  And as with Bukharin, the editor of Bednota was subjected to an angry tirade over the phone.
   Miroshnichenko, of course, was not present to hear this.  But if he had, he would have been pleased to see how this part of his plan had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 05, 2017, 10:01:12 PM
More comments from a history and firearms guy:

In away the groups is too big 16 people it should be no more than 5 at the most or subdivided into 3 smaller groups in case someone is caught and tortured or defects they won't know too much.

Making a silencer/suppressor is not too much of a problem neither is making a bomb. The info is both online and in books but I don't advise you to make either because it is illegal.

On taking out Kabanov in a apartment the plan is too complex and involves too many people and they have him under survilence for too long. A better way to get him than a bomb in a lamp. It a old Viet Cong trick they used to put a hand grenade in a desk drawer of a South Vietnamese Government official so when he opens the drawer it pulls the pin of the grenade that goes off killing him.

After Lenin was wounded in a assassination attempt the Reds killed and jailed thousands. If they suspected the Whites were hunting down and killing their people they would be doing the same.

You have one of the men chewing gum I don't think they had chewing gum in Russia at the time.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 06, 2017, 01:09:43 AM
In away the groups is too big 16 people it should be no more than 5 at the most or subdivided into 3 smaller groups in case someone is caught and tortured or defects they won't know too much.

The kidon in the Lillehammer affair had 15 people, nine of whom escaped, and the one that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had 33.  Everyone in the latter operation was able to escape immediately afterwards, and if it hadn't been for the security cameras, their getaway might have been flawless.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 12, 2017, 09:26:34 AM
It should be pointed out the WW I /RCW period was totally different than the 1970s and later. Mossad had almost unlimited budget for their operations and getting money to them was no problem. In the RCW spy rings in Red territory had a number of major problems that Mossad did not have to put up with at a later date. One was just trying to get enough money to them in order to operate. Another was trying to get information back to their own side. Add to this the Cheka was on the lookout for spies and if they caught one or a caught a suspected spy they were going to torture the hell out of him or her. It should also be pointed out spies behind Red lines had to worry about members of their groups defecting or turning into Cheka informants. Finally for Mossad agents to get back to friendly territory wasn't too much of a problem. For spies in Red territory if things went wrong getting back to friendly territory was difficult if not impossible.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 12, 2017, 06:23:57 PM
All true, but from what I've read, you need a fair number of people when surveilling a target.  If the team was shrunk, they would have to recruit local agents to carry out surveillance, and while there would be a risk of members of the group defecting or becoming double agents, I think it would be riskier to recruit locals whom they knew nothing about.  Plus, if the team is downsized, I'm not sure how to work that into the plot without throwing it off balance.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 13, 2017, 05:17:05 AM
James is very good at historical research. 

He helped me with a story of my own, a while back.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on July 09, 2017, 03:58:28 PM

Operation Kronstadt about a British agent who ran a spy ring in Petrograd during the Russian civil war

Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime R Pipes has some pages that deal with the "National Center" this was a White Underground organization that operated in Moscow and Petrograd during the Civil War no doubt they would have helped a group like the one you are writing about but probably would have been worried that these assassinations would disrupt there operations.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 13, 2017, 12:12:14 PM
Much appreciated, James.  I'll have to read Pipes' book again and see if I can find the other book.

Sorry for the hiatus; linear algebra has kept me busy, but I intend to continue as soon as I find the time.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 16, 2017, 11:06:57 AM
July 15,1919
   The Soviets weren’t flying the white flag.  In the aftermath of the attack ob Kabanov the Red Terror exploded in a vicious new spasm, which saw scores of suspects rounded up, tortured and executed on the slightest hint of White sympathies.  Yet the people responsible for the attacks on their agents seemed to slip the Cheka’s grasp.  Now, the Cheka’s failure to catch them was about to be illustrated once again in dramatic fashion, as Admiral Kolchak’s hit squad moved to Tambov.  Their target this time was Aleksandr Lisitsyn, who had witnessed the murder of the Imperial family and was responsible for transporting their diaries and letters to Moscow afterwards.
   While in Moscow, Yuryev had made contact with the National Center, a clandestine organization with branches inside and outside Soviet Russia, which supplied the Whites with intelligence.  Yuryev had asked them for information on several of the regicides known to have ties to Moscow, including Lisitsyn.  The Center had reported that Lisitsyn was now working as an inspector for Cheka’s presidium, reporting on the status of the various regional Chekas. 
   For more than four weeks after the hit on Kabanov, there was no news on any of the other targets.  Lazar had used the time to work on a pet project—setting up an antique furniture dealership in Lipetsk.  Lazar loved antiques and understood a great deal about them. He also had a very good head for business, unlike Yuryev or Artemiy.  He actually enjoyed buying and selling.
   Zakhar — Cautious Zakhar — fully approved of the idea. An antique business could give the entire team, with their constant travelling and irregular hours, at least some rudimentary cover, as well as a way of shipping larger objects, should the need arise. Yuryev appreciated the idea.
   On Sunday, July 6, Yuryev had received a phone call from one of his contacts in the National Center.  Lisitsyn would be arriving in Tambov in about a week on a tour of inspection.  It was impossible to know how long he was planning to stay.
   By Thursday, the team had met up in Tambov.  Lazar, Artemiy and Nikita booked themselves into the Gubernskaya Hotel under a variety of false names.  Lisitsyn had stayed in the hotel, which was popular with his comrades, several times previously.  It was Nikita’s idea that some of them should stay at the hotel where they expected the target to be. For one thing, it would help them identify him positively. For another, it would enable them to study the layout of the building. Finally, though they would check out as soon as Lisitsyn arrived, their presence later in the hotel would arouse no suspicion among the hotel’s service or security staff. They would be recognized as guests the staff had seen before.  The rest of the team went to safe houses in the city.
   On Friday at lunchtime, Bylinkin and his staff officers arrived in Tambov to supervise the team.   They were accompanied by Afanasy, another one of Innokenty Korotayev’s Raduga operatives, who brought a package with him.
   Later the same day, Lisitsyn checked into the Gubernskaya Hotel.  He had been in Tambov only a few hours when the O squad quietly began watching his movements. He had a gun, of course, but no bodyguard, and didn’t seem to fear bodily harm.  They trailed him for close to three days without seeing any security detail, or any attentiveness on his part. Apparently he didn’t think he was important enough to warrant the attention of the Intelligence Department.  He followed few regular patterns, but his day always started and finished in his room at the hotel.
   Lazar and Nikita reported that the target was apparently occupying a room next door to a newly-wed couple.
   “I take it there is no way they could get hurt?” Yuryev asked Afanasy.
   “No way,” Afanasy said firmly. Then, less firmly, he added: “Of course, I’m not giving you a written guarantee. If it’s a written guarantee you need, call it off.”
   “Or warn them, maybe?” asked Artemiy, then shook his head to give his own reply. In an operation of this kind no one could be warned. The team would either assume the risk or not. Which was up to Yuryev.
   “We’ll take a chance,” Yuryev said.
   That settled it.
   Afanasy’s infernal machine was essentially a pressure bomb, consisting of six small explosive packages connected to a double frame. The two frames were held apart by four powerful springs with a metal screw running down the middle of each. Placed under a car seat or a mattress the springs would prevent the screws in the top frame from touching four contact points in the bottom. However, the weight of a human being would depress the springs sufficiently for contact to be made. In a simple pressure bomb, the explosives would be detonated at this stage.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 16, 2017, 05:22:59 PM
However, in Afanasy’s device the weight would serve only to arm the bomb. Once armed, it could be exploded by a human agent using command-wire detonation.
   Sunday had found the team members gathered in one of the safe houses.  The curtains were drawn as Afanasy worked at a table under a bright light wiring the six bombs together.  He had a checklist and a hand-drawn diagram near him on the floor, which he consulted as he wired.  Natalia, Mikhail, Artemiy, Nikita and Yuryev were watching.
   "He comes home every evening,” said Afanasy.  “He turns on the light, he undresses, he turns off the light, he gets into bed.  We blow up the bed.  If he gets into bed, his weight arms the device.  When you see his lights go out, you wait a bit, press the button and…”
   On Tuesday, July 15, 1919, Mikhail checked into the room next door to Lisitsyn’s.  He carried a valise up to his room which contained electrical wire, a small Bakelite box, and an electric drill.  He was soon joined by Afanasy, Yuryev, and Natalia.
   Lisitsyn had left his hotel room around 8.  He was picked up in a car by the head of the regional Cheka.  The car was being followed by several different vehicles from the O squad who had instructions to call Zakhar immediately if the Cheka seemed ready to bring Lisitsyn back to the hotel. In fact, he stayed all day at Cheka HQ.
   Shortly after noon, when the cleaning staff had finished their work, Mikhail, Natalia, Yuryev and Afanasy let themselves into Lisitsyn’s hotel room.  Mikhail held up the mattress of the bed, sweating under its sagging weight, while Afanasy, on his knees, carefully placed the bombs, in their frame, on the metal spring netting under the mattress, and wired the detonators to a wire that dangled out over the bed frame with a lightbulb on the end of it.  Natalia guarded the door, gun drawn.  When he was finished, Afanasy helped Mikhail lower the mattress very slowly onto the bomb.  Afanasy checked the lightbulb.  It was dark.  He smiled, nodding.  He motioned to Mikhail and they raised the mattress again.  Afanasy made adjustments on the bomb.
   “Did you see the papers this morning?” Natalia said softly.  “News from Astrakhan.  Kabanov succumbed to his wounds.  He’s dead.”
   Afanasy and Mikhail lowered the mattress.  “Now someone has to test it,” said Afanasy.
   “Test it?" asked Yuryev.
   “Lie on the bed,” said Afanasy.  “If the bomb’s placed correctly the bulb will light.  So who wants to test it?”
   “Why don’t you test it?” asked Mikhail.
   “It won't blow up,” reassured Afanasy.  He waited for someone to volunteer, but no one did.
   “Prove that you trust me,” he said. “One of you, get in the bed.”
   “Mikhail, you do it,” instructed Natalia.
   Mikhail looked at Afanasy and flung himself in the air and onto the mattress.  The bulb lighted.
   “Now we just have to connect the command-wire and we’re done,” said Afanasy.  “Pass me the drill, Mikhail Nikolaevich.”  Lying on his belly, Afanasy crawled underneath the bed and drilled a hole through the wall separating Lisitsyn’s room from Mikhail’s.  He and Mikhail returned to their room, and after clearing away the furniture, were able to locate the other end of the hole.  Afanasy started feeding the electric wire through it, before handing over to Mikhail.     “Start feeding it through when I bang the wall three times,” he instructed Mikhail as he left to return next door.  “And stop feeding it through when I bang five times.”
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 16, 2017, 05:25:06 PM
After Afanasy had hooked up the wire to the bomb and blown away the sawdust, he, Natalia and Yuryev disconnected the main light switch of the room, leaving only the bedside lamp functional. When that light went off at night, Lisitsyn would almost certainly be in his bed.
   They left the room, leaving no evidence it had been disturbed.  Afanasy went back to Mikhail’s room, where he unwound the other end of the wire into the bathroom, before connecting it to the Bakelite box, which contained a firing pack made up of batteries wired together and a button.  Now there was nothing left to do but wait for Lisitsyn to go to bed.
   The Cheka drove Lisitsyn back to the hotel shortly after 2200 hours and walked him to the main entrance.  Lazar went up in the elevator with him to make sure no one else entered Lisitsyn’s room.  No one did.  Lazar knocked seven times on Mikhail’s door to let him know that the mark had entered his room. Mikhail went out onto the balcony to watch for Lisitsyn to turn his light out. 
   Wearing a bathrobe, the young bride in the room one over from Mikhail’s came out on her balcony for a smoke.  She saw Mikhail and smiled at him.  Her husband came out, clad only in pajama bottoms.  He nodded to Mikhail, then put his arms around his bride.  Mikhail wanted to look, but was embarrassed and looked away.
   Next door, he could hear Lisitsyn making a brief phone call.  The bridegroom was whispering something to the bride.  Mikhail stared at them, feeling titillated and lonely.
   Presently, Lisitsyn stepped out onto his balcony, startling Mikhail.  The Chekist nodded at the bridegroom and bride.  They smiled at him and then the bridegroom led the bride back into their room.  Laughter came from inside, followed by music.  Their lights went out.
   Moans and groans started to drift out.  Mikhail and Lisitsyn stared, both men fascinated, at the dark open doorway of the newlyweds’ room.
   Lisitsyn turned to smile at Mikhail.  “Good evening,” he said.
   “Oh, uh, good evening,” returned Mikhail.
   “Beautiful night.  Where are you from?”
   The sounds of love-making increased in volume.
   “Were you here last night?” asked Lisitsyn.
   “No, I just checked in, just arrived,” Mikhail answered.
   “Don’t plan to sleep,” said Lisitsyn.  "They keep at it till dawn.”  He took a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket.  Taking out a cigarette, he offered one to Mikhail, who shook his head “no."
   “Where were you born?” Mikhail asked politely.
   “Vyazma,” said Lisitsyn, putting the cigarette in his mouth and patting his pockets looking for a match.  Mikhail took one out and held it out towards Lisitsyn, who leaned over his side of the balcony.  Mikhail lit the match and, using his hand to shield the flame from the wind, lit Lisitsyn’s cigarette.  Lisitsyn nodded thanks, took a long drag and exhaled.
   The sounds from the newlyweds’ suite became downright raucous.  “There! For hours!” exclaimed Lisitsyn.  “Take some Veronal if you have any.  You want to borrow some of mine?”
   “I can sleep through anything,” assured Mikhail.
   “Pleasant dreams,” said Lisitsyn as he went in his room.  Then the lights went off in his window.
   Mikhail moved closer to the balcony railing where it abutted the hotel wall.  He hauled himself up, then leaned in.  Minutes passed as Lisitsyn undressed and prepared for sleep.  Mikhail could hear Lisitsyn moving about, singing softly to himself.  He heard a tap running, the sound of Lisitsyn relieving himself, a toilet flush.  Then the sound of a man groping for his bed in the dark, and lowering himself into bed with a sigh.
   Mikhail leaned further in.  He could just see the foot of the bed and Lisitsyn’s legs sliding under the bedclothes.  He lowered himself back to his own balcony, went in his room and took care not to trip over the command-wire as he made his way into the bathroom where Afanasy was waiting, firing pack in hand.  “Ready?” asked Afanasy.
   “Ready,” said Mikhail.
   Afanasy pressed the button.
   The ensuing explosion was tremendous.  It ripped Lisitsyn’s body and bed apart, wrecked his room, blew the door off its hinges and sent a tongue of flame along with a shower of glass and masonry into the parking lot; the wall Mikhail’s room shared with Lisitsyn’s was pushed in and fell over, intact.  The two men soon saw that they were trapped in a space between the bathroom and the wall, which was now leaning against the opposing wall, pictures on it dangling from their hooks.  They struggled to get out.
   The hall was thick with smoke as Afanasy and Mikhail emerged from the room, coughing and covered in plaster dust.
   To the left of Lisitsyn’s doorless room, the newlyweds forced their door and stumbled out, naked and covered in dust.  He was bleeding from a nasty cut on his forehead, she was momentarily blinded by plaster dust and smoke.  “Oh my G-d!  Oh my G-d!” the groom exclaimed as he turned to Mikhail and Afanasy.
   "Are you all right?” asked Mikhail?
   “What … what happened?” asked the groom.
   “I can’t see!” said the bride.  The groom wiped at her eyes with his thumbs.  Mikhail came into their room and came out with sheets.  They wrapped themselves.
   “Get downstairs, the stairs, here," urged Mikhail as he pushed them toward the stairs.  The door to the stairwell opened and Feliks, carrying a fire extinguisher, rushed past Mikhail, their eyes meeting.  He had run up from the parking lot where he and Angelika had been waiting in a tarantass.  Mikhail led the newlyweds to the stairs as Feliks ran into Lisitsyn’s room.
   The room was utterly destroyed.  Feliks blasted the fire extinguisher at small flames.  An arm was dangling from the crystal chandelier, which was now a burnt and twisted mass of metal, hanging by wires.  Feliks wiped the extinguisher clean with his handkerchief, then dropped it on the floor and went back into the hall to rejoin Mikhail and Afanasy.  “Let's get out of here,” he said.
   As they drove away in the tarantass, lights were coming on in every window of the hotel and in buildings along the street.  Bylinkin, who had been supervising the mission from a nearby hotel room, left the city along with his staff officers and the assassination team; they departed one by one using different routes.  Feliks was the last to leave.  They were all gone within hours.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on July 25, 2017, 07:24:28 PM
I have a lot to say on this:

Admiral Kolchak ordered there were to be no Pogroms against Jews. There were few Jews in Siberia. What the SRs in excile really denounced him for was he intended to bring back them Monarchy. Kolchak didn't even though more than a few White officers wanted to.

Your agents trade craft is really poor:

rule one you didn't in WW I or II talk on the telephone if you were an agent someone could be listening. I also don't think there were too many telephones working outside government building

also agents like these avoid staying in hotels or boarding houses too risky

no electric drills back then either

As for opening an antique furniture store in Bolshevik held Russia at this time many people where either short of food or starving. Even the formerly upper classes were hard up read the books "Former People" and "Memoirs of a Survivor". Everyone was selling anything they had for food.

If you are going to kill someone in a Hotel you don't get a room there. It investigators will certainly check the hotel register first thing. You also don't build bombs with all your friends around. It's too Hazardess. The bomb is too complex even for WW II. In real life it would have been smarter to plant the bomb in the bed. Then get out of town before the target comes home and sits on the bed and it goes off. Also no ball of fire would come out the window except in a Hollywood explosion. In real life when a bomb like this would have gone off it would of shattered the windows ect. It also looks like the men who set off the bomb were too close too such a large blast.

You mentioned a Tarantass a Siberian cart I believe. I think they would have used another type of horse drawn vehicle.

I would like to point out at this time 1918-19 Spies would be using spy techniques from earlier eras as in the books "Washington's Spies" and George Washingtons Secret Six" as in the TV show Turn Washington's Spies. They wrote coded messages in invisible ink and communicated by couriers.

Note the Cheka in 1918-19 did seek and get help from a number of members of the former tsarist police. Many of them were also experienced revolutionaries/terrorists/criminals. They know how to go after spies ect.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 25, 2017, 10:05:05 PM
August 5, 1919

   K.G. Maksimov, deputy commissar of trade, was not afraid of letter bombs.  No, it had been months since the last incident and the People’s Commissariat of Posts and Telegraph had put new security measures in place.  But searching for explosives would not have prevented Maksimov from receiving the unpleasant surprise that had arrived with today’s mail.
   “Dear Comrade Maksimov,” the unsigned letter began.  “With deep regret I enclose the few lines, but an indispensable duty compels me to do so.  Yes, I know about your secret.”  The letter went on to recount in great detail a sexual encounter that Maksimov had had with a married woman, and advised him to leave town in order to prevent this information from being used against him.
   The same day, N.G. Smidovich received an anonymous letter which sent a chill up his spine when he read it.  “Comrade Smidovich,” it began. “You do not know me, but I know you very well.  Nobody can overcome facts, so read what I say carefully.”  After giving a comprehensive description of Smidovich's hiring of prostitutes, the letter threatened to leak the information unless Smidovich resigned from Party activities.  "The decision is entirely yours.”
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 26, 2017, 01:37:09 AM
I have a lot to say on this:

also agents like these avoid staying in hotels or boarding houses too risky

no electric drills back then either

As for opening an antique furniture store in Bolshevik held Russia at this time many people where either short of food or starving. Even the formerly upper classes were hard up read the books "Former People" and "Memoirs of a Survivor". Everyone was selling anything they had for food.

If you are going to kill someone in a Hotel you don't get a room there. It investigators will certainly check the hotel register first thing. You also don't build bombs with all your friends around. It's too Hazardess. The bomb is too complex even for WW II. In real life it would have been smarter to plant the bomb in the bed. Then get out of town before the target comes home and sits on the bed and it goes off. Also no ball of fire would come out the window except in a Hollywood explosion. In real life when a bomb like this would have gone off it would of shattered the windows ect. It also looks like the men who set off the bomb were too close too such a large blast.

The first portable handheld drill was created in 1895.

The agents who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh checked into the hotel room opposite his.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 01, 2017, 04:09:33 PM
On the Mahmoud hit Mossad could do this because they were going to flee the country right afterwards. They are critsized for using bad tradecraft. I also don't think they realized that the hotel and other areas had such a hi tech security system. This is also a major hit that doesn't happen very often. The White Russian agents are still going to operating behind Red lines after this and other hits. The Cheka will have both a description of some of the agents and their names from the hotel register and a handwriting sample ect.

I didn't realize hand held power drills were around back then. I think they would have been rare in Russia in 1919. Also electricity to run them may not have been available except in big cities like Moscow and even then many places that had it before the revolution would not have had it or had it on a regular basis during the civil war period.

You might also want to read the book "Young Stalin"  where Stalin comes across more like a Mafia boss than a revolutionary
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 04, 2017, 09:09:57 AM
September 28, 1919

   In late August and early September, the Cheka had broken up the National Center.  Yuryev was not sure he had been exposed, but since he had been in contact with the Center, he felt it wise to cut off contact with the rest of the team and go to ground for the time being.  For good measure he disguised himself as an old peddler woman, and was actually able to make a few rubles here and there.
   After a few weeks had passed without anything happening, he felt safe enough to risk contacting the rest of the team and continue with the executions; however, he retained his disguised while traveling.  The quest to avenge the Romanovs’ murders was back in business; the team’s efforts now brought them to the city where the crime had taken place, as they set their sights on Viktor Netrebin.
   At nineteen years old, Netrebin was the youngest target on the list, but his age did not help him to avoid a death sentence.  As Bylinkin had reminded Committee Ze, Netrebin had shown no mercy to a helpless thirteen-year-old boy and four girls, and he had not taken any opportunity to avoid taking part the way others had.  After the Red Army had retaken Yekaterinburg in July, Netrebin, who was a native of the Urals, had returned to the city to resume work with the Cheka.  He had a Communist past, a Communist present, and in all likelihood a Communist future.  It was time for him to meet his maker.  Supreme Ruler Admiral Kolchak and the defense cabinet authorized the mission.
   Netrebin was a soft target: he had no security guard and kept to a semi-predictable routine.  Indeed, being a man of regular habits, he was not difficult to follow.  The O squad studied his every move.  After seven months of intensive action in the field, the“surveillance and hit teams were in good form—professional and quick. Their hands-on experience kept the tension low and their guard up at all times. The mission was set for September 28.  Adrian Bylinkin and Miroshnichenko arrived in Yekaterinburg that afternoon, heading straight to their command room in an Intelligence Department safe house.  All the preparations had been made; all remaining decisions were in the hands of Mikhail, Natalia and Yuryev as they closed in on Netrebin.
   Netrebin would split his time between the Amerikanskaya Hotel and the few open shops and canteens on either side of the Iset’ river, often meeting his morning contacts in the vicinity of Kokovinskaya Ploshchad, while favoring ulitsa Malakhovskaya or the main train station for his evening appointments. If his evening meetings found him near Shartash station, he would stroll along Sibirsky Prospekt, right by the Sennaya Ploshchad, on his way home to his cabin on Zagorodnaya Ulitsa.  (This walk, ironically, would lead him all but past the front door of the safe house used at that point by Yuryev, Feliks, Angelika, Mikhail and Natalia).  If his last appointment took him to  the main train station, Netrebin would walk back to his cabin by taking Vodochnaya Ulitsa and either turning right on Krestovozdvizhenskaya Ulitsa, or by turning right onto Aleksandrovsky Prospekt.  Both routes would eventually take him into Spasskaya Ulitsa - at a point either above or below the public baths, from where another ten minutes’ walk would see him safely home.
   On the evening of September 28, Viktor Netrebin chose the former route.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 04, 2017, 09:22:06 AM
At sunset, the O squad reported that the subject had finished eating a delicious meal at the main train station’s first-class restaurant.  He left the restaurant, bought a newspaper, and began walking toward his cabin.  Being a careful man—or, perhaps, sensing danger—Netrebin would turn around from time to time, as if to see whether he was being followed. However, he would have been unlikely to notice two different men on horseback passing and re-passing him in the stream of Yekaterinburg traffic as he walked along Vodochnaya Ulitsa.  At Zlatoustovskaya Ulitsa the O squad spotters left him alone.  There would have been no point in alerting a target whose route, by then, was known to them anyway.
   Yuryev, Feliks, Angelika, Mikhail and Natalia were waiting for a message in their safe house—not far from Sibirsky Prospekt, near the top of the Sennaya Ploshchad—to tell them that the target was approaching the bridge at Krestovozdvizhenskaya Ulitsa.  The plan was to pick him up at Spasskaya and Aleksandrovsky, then follow him on foot as he walked towards his cabin.
   The message came a little after 2200 hours.  At this precise point Netrebin, walking along the quiet Krestovozdvizhenskaya Ploshchad, was not under direct observation.
   As he circled the Old Believers’ church in  along Krestovozdvizhenskaya, Andrei, who was on horseback, observed Netrebin already crossing the bridge.  Andrei didn’t stop or slow down.  He turned right onto Spasskaya and again onto Aleksandrovsky, breaking into a canter to alert Yuryev and his partners who were walking at a fast pace in the opposite direction.
   Meanwhile, Lazar, who was driving a carriage, followed Netrebin at a slower speed, eventually passing him as he had nearly crossed the bridge.  Lazar did not turn right.  Instead he rounded Spasskaya Church, stopping at the far side on Uktusskaya Ulitsa.  He waited parallel to the curb.
   Mikhail and Natalia, with Yuryev, Feliks and Angelika following about fifty paces behind them, were crossing the bridge just as Netrebin was crossing Arkhiereiskaya Ulitsa perhaps 40 sazhens ahead of them. Since the Chekist was walking at a brisk pace, it was not easy to close that gap within the next block or two without betraying their intention to catch up with him. But any further on would have been too late.  Four more blocks and Netrebin would be back at his cabin. 
   At that point there were hardly any pedestrians in the broad street.  From the way Netrebin glanced over his shoulder on turning the corner, it looked as if he might be easy to spook. Should he decide to break into a run, Mikhail thought, they might not be able to catch up with him at all.  Two more short blocks would take him to Zagorodnaya Ulitsa; then he would cross the street and turn the corner.  From there he had only one more block and a bit to go.  Once Netrebin had crossed Uktusskaya Ulitsa, they would probably have lost him.
   Mikhail and Natalia tried to quicken their pace without giving the appearance that they were doing so, which was not easy.  If Netrebin did not start running until they had halved the distance between them, it would be too late for him. At this point the teenager was clearly no longer oblivious of being followed. He, too, had quickened his pace and started glancing back at Mikhail and Natalia.  Still, he wasn’t running.  Mikhail found himself hoping that his target might be a courageous man of steady nerves.
   To his misfortune, Netrebin was courageous. He didn’t break into a run as he turned into Zagorodnaya Ulitsa.  He didn’t run as he passed the fruit stand, the grocer’s or the bar on the corner of the anonymous side street.  He merely walked faster and faster, looking back over his shoulder one more time.  Mikhail and Natalia, giving up all pretense of strolling casually, were by now less than 13 sazhens behind him.  Yuryev, Feliks and Angelika were following them a little more slowly on the other side of the narrow street.  Mikhail and Natalia could thus concentrate solely on their target, knowing that the others would keep everything secure behind them.
   Though Netrebin didn’t run, Mikhail and Natalia might still not have caught up with him in time if he hadn’t decided to stop at the corner of Uktusskaya Ulitsa. This was strange behavior for a man who knew he was being pursued. There was absolutely no traffic in the street, yet Netrebin halted at the curb, hesitating in front of a school.
   Mikhail and Natalia passed him on either side, stepping off the curb into the street. The reason they gave themselves for this was that they wanted to face Netrebin to make absolutely sure they had the right man. In addition they both had an aversion to gunning someone down from behind.
   “Now,” Natalia whispered, and in the next second they had both turned, facing Netrebin, left hands rising in an arc, ready to pull back the slides of their silenced Browning 7.65mm pistols.  Netrebin was staring at them, his eyes unbelievably wide, as he unfastened the flap on the holster on his hip.  As Mikhail and Natalia had walked past him, Netrebin must also have stepped off the curb. Now, as he tried to back away as he raised his Nagant, his heels caught the edge of the pavement and he started falling backwards, his arms windmilling wildly. For some reason the thought that crossed Mikhail’s mind was that if they missed, their bullets would crash through the large plate-glass window of the school.  He didn’t want to damage the window. Adjusting the angle of his gun slightly, he started following Netrebin’s falling body, squeezing off the first two rounds before the man hit the pavement.  Twice more he pulled the trigger, then twice again. He was hardly conscious of Natalia’s gun pop-hissing in the same rhythm beside him, but from the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of Yuryev, Feliks and Angelika waiting on the other side of the street.
   Netrebin’s body was lying on the sidewalk as he fell, his feet still dangling over the curb. He made no sound, only his shoulders were squirming. Then, like a person trying to rise, he pulled up his knees and turned to his side, as he attempted to reach for his Nagant, which had dropped to the pavement with a clatter when he had fallen.  Mikhail almost fired again, but at that moment Netrebin gave a series of short, sharp, rasping sounds as if he were clearing his throat, and in another second Mikhail could see his body relax.  The youngest of the tsar’s assassins was dead.
   When Mikhail looked up, the first thing he saw was a cigarette glowing in the dark. In a doorway, on the other side of the street. A man seemed to be standing there, or maybe two men, with a girl. Eyewitnesses.
   Without a word, Mikhail crossed the street, turned right and started walking along Uktusskaya towards Arkhiereisky Pereulok.  By now Yuryev, Feliks and Angelika had turned around, and Mikhail knew they would be walking to Khlebnaya Ploshchad the same way they had come, without passing the spot where Netrebin’s body lay.  Natalia was following Mikhail.  They could only hope that the eyewitnesses were not.
   Lazar picked up all five of them on Khlebnaya Ploshchad in front of the Old Believers’ church.  They drove back to the safe house, then directly to the train station.
   Ural'skiy Rabochiy published a death announcement for Netrebin, declaring him a martyr, his murder a reactionary crime committed by White intelligence.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 09, 2017, 04:03:24 PM
I have some more plausible ways of taking out the victims:

Medvedev: Natalia spots him while staking out a tram section near Cheka headquarters she gets on the same tram as him at notes where he gets off. She comes back the next day armed with one of the men to the spot where he got off. When he gets off the tram she walks up behind him and shoots him twice in the back with a silenced pistol in a bag and then flees down an ally. Medvedev falls and everyone around thinks he just slipped and fell because he was drunk. It takes the Cheka a couple of days to find out what happened to him because some thieves steal his pistol, indetification , money boots ect right afterwards. the Cheka at first think it was a robbery gone bad since they have no witnesses at first.

Berzins gets a big envelope containing a box which according to a note contains a new army manual in Latvian and he is asked to read it to check for errors. he opens the box and a bomb goes off killing him.

Soshuvsky of Pravda receives a box containing what he thinks contains the diaries of a Red army commander/ revolutionary who had been killed in action he opens the box and a bomb goes off killing him.

Gurbanov state planning commission the hit team finds a way into his office and plants a german stick grenade in one of the drawers of his desk he returns from vacation opens the drawer which pulls the cord that detonates the grenade fatally wounding him

Rodzinsky is also taken out by a grenade in a desk

Lititsyn in Tambov there is a large scale peasant uprising going on in this area. No doubt the team will get help from the locals via the National center.

One better way to make Maksimov and Sminovich want to retire is not to write them about affairs or prostitutes but send them notes telling them that they better retire or we will send the Cheka information that they were informants for the Okhrana or Gendarmes. The Reds reguarded informants like this as the worst of the worst and were still hunting them down in the 1930s.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 10, 2017, 03:08:23 AM
Lititsyn in Tambov there is a large scale peasant uprising going on in this area.

I thought that wasn't until 1920
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 10, 2017, 09:51:43 PM
Your right the Tambov revolt broke out in August 1920 but there were peasant revolts breaking out all the time in the Russian countryside do to Lenin's stupid and brutal forced requisition of food policy.

As for taking out Netrebin the hit team is too big I would say 2 or 3 people at the most will do. One member locates him and finds out where he lives and works. Then the next day another member walks up and shoots him in the back. Then everyone gets out of town ASAP but not by train the next trains out of town will be searched. Also it looks like there were witnesses to the shooting. So it looks like these people need to hop on some fast horses and get as far away from town as they can. One should also point out Russia was in chaos there were armed bands everywhere. As well as patrols of the Red Army and Cheka.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 13, 2017, 09:38:39 PM
Ok.  I have some firearms and military history questions.

My understanding is that in the WW1 era, while there were no established special forces, ad hoc units were sometimes raised to conduct a special operation and disbanded once their aim was complete, such as the way the Sturmtruppen were created in response to the deadlock in the trenches.

I know the British had Coastal Motor Boats, subs and destroyers in the Baltic, but what about light and fast craft like gunboats?

The Bergmann MP18 was introduced in early 1918, so I guess it wouldn't have seen service on the Eastern Front, but did the Germans supply any to Finland or forces in the Baltic states?  What I'm getting at is, is there any plausible way the Northwest Army might have gotten their hands on a few of them?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 16, 2017, 03:22:43 PM
The first Sturm units in the German army were formed in 1915 I believe and they expanded the number of Sturm units as the war went on.

the RN used a number of motor launches in WW I small coastal craft to hunt U-boats in WW I. Look up Royal Navy Motor launches. I am not sure if any were used in the Baltic. They were larger and were better armed than the CMBs which did mount machine guns. The RN also used minesweepers in the Baltic where mines were a problem.

As for the MP 18 SMG being used in the Baltic. There were German troops in the Baltic in 1919 under General Count Rudiger Von Der Goltz. Look up Landwehr in the Russian Civil war online. The air units sent to support them in 1919 often had the latest in German aircraft the Junkers DI and CL I some it is possible a few MP 18s found there way there but they would have been rare. For one or two of them to get to the Northwest front chances are very remote. If you want a semi-auto rifle that was used in very small numbers in Russia in WW I and the civil war it's the Winchester model 1907. I think a few hundred were delivered and they were used in combat in small numbers.

 I hope this is of help.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 16, 2017, 03:39:31 PM
Yes, very helpful indeed.

I couldn't find anything about motor launches being used in the Baltic.

What about the Fedorov Avtomat?  Would that be more plausible?  And also, would it be possible to conceal those?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 17, 2017, 05:36:24 PM
The Federov Avtomat would be a real possibility but wiki has only 100 being made by the end of 1917 and most were made after 1920. Ammo would be no problem as it used the 6.5mm Japanese round and the Russian received 763,000 6.5mm Arisaka rifles during the war. while shorter than the M-1891 rifle I would call it easier to handle but its not a pocket pistol.

As for the MLs they did see service in home waters and the Med in WW I. I can't really say if any were sent to the Baltic in 1919-20. There is a book "Cowan's War" which is a history of the RN in the Baltic during this period. I read it a long time ago and don't know if the MLs were mentioned.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 20, 2017, 03:02:05 PM
Ok.  I have one last set of questions.  Basically what I'm working up to is that the next scene has a Royal Navy raid on Petrograd.  How plausible would it be for one or two destroyers and a minesweeper to slip past the Red defenses?  Obviously they would need the minesweeper to clear a narrow path through the numerous minefields.  Coming in on the south side of the Gulf of Finland, they would have to pass between Kronstadt and Krasnaya Gorka.  Coming in from the north, Kronstadt is somewhat farther away from the northern coast, but they would need to worry about the shore batteries at Sestroretsk and Lisy Nos.  Perhaps some of Cowan's ships could bottle up the Baltic Fleet in Kronstadt, while others could bombard either Krasnaya Gorka or the two batteries on the north side for a few hours, long enough for the raiding force to slip in and out again.  Or perhaps the batteries at Sestroretsk and Lisy Nos could be destroyed altogether?

And finally, I know that when Yudenich threatened Petrograd in mid-October 1919, the Bolsheviks threw up checkpoints on all the bridges, but were they there even before Yudenich's advance?

Thank you so much for all your help, James.  I truly appreciate it
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 25, 2017, 02:28:30 PM
There is no way the RN would send a destroyer or two to raid Petrograd. There is not enough sea room and there are lots of mines that you can't sweep with one minesweeper. Add to this the coastal batteries and the Soviet Baltic fleet. Note the Royal Navy would not have tried to raid Petrograd during the Crimean war the defenses of Kronstadt were too strong.

As for MLs looking through one was damaged by a mine so they were in the Baltic.

Historical note the RN was drawing up plans during the Crimean war to attack kronstadt but the war ended before they could be carried out.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 25, 2017, 03:40:49 PM
Ok.  What if it was carried out with ML's, the way Augustus Agar slipped his CMB's into Petrograd to rescue Paul Dukes?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 26, 2017, 02:43:06 PM
I am rereading the book operation Kronstadt the one reason the CMBs were used to pick up Paul Dukes is because they only drew 3 feet of water and the waters around Petrograd  and Kronstadt out side the dredged channel are too shallow for anything larger. Looking at the map in the above book they were really lucky to been able to get in and out without getting spotted and sunk.

As for the Cheka having checkpoints on all the bridges before the White advance. I don't think so there are just too many bridges in Petrograd to stick checkpoints on a regular basis. Any way they had plenty of other things to do like hunting down spyies, traitors, ect.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on August 27, 2017, 12:54:21 AM
If a force of ML's were to slip past the forts the way Agar did, which do you think would be a more plausible way to do it: flying Soviet naval ensigns and hoping for the best, or having some of Cowan's ships bombard the forts long enough for the ML's to run the gauntlet, like Porter's gunboats did for Grant's transports at Grand Gulf?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just trying to avoid future flak for historical inaccuracy
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 31, 2017, 02:50:23 PM
There was no way on earth a force of MLs could have slipped past the Soviet forts on and around Kronstadt and Petrograd. Problem one they drew too much water and would be running into mines and obstacles the CMBs would pass over. Second the for one CMB to slip through in the night is possible because the ship is so small and low lying and there is only one of them. also note the last time a CMB tried to slip past the forts it failed. MLs sit higher in the water there are more of them so they will be spotted and sunk. Also if the MLs arrived off Petrograd they would not be able to do much damage since they all by this time were only armed with one small 3 -pounder gun.  this is not a doable idea period.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on September 01, 2017, 03:11:03 PM
Note the British and the French at Gallipoli and the Germans attempt to enter the Gulf of Riga in 1915 both failed. The ships could not fight past shore batteries and minefields. The Germans also had to deal with submarines as well. The British and Germans both had battleships to engage the forts. The RN in the Baltic in 1919 had nothing larger than a light cruiser. the reds also had a few submarines in commission.

Looking at Sir Paul Dukes wiki bio his book "Red Dusk and the Morrow" which deals with his time as a spy is online at Which is a good source for details.

Some errata for the book "operation Kronstadt
The Petropavlovsk and Andrei Pervozvanny were Battleships not Battlescruisers. On the ships:

Andrei Pervozvanny  and her sister ship the imperator Pavel I spent most of WW I in port and these "warf rats" were called the "convict brigade" The Imperator Pavel I was the first ship in the Baltic fleet to revolt in March 1917 . These ships were no fun to serve on they had no portholes had poor ventilation and high sick lists the Imperator Pavel I was the worst of the two. The Imperator pavel I was laid up in September 1918.  As for the Andrei Pervozvanny the ship did bombard Kransia Gorka on 14-15 June 1919. it was also damaged by one torpedo  during the 18-19 August 1919 CMB attack and not repaired.

The Petropavlovsk engaged British destroyers on 30 may and 4 june 1919 and shelled Kranaia Gorka from 13-16 Jun 1919. The ship was not damaged by the August CMB attack the torpedos passed under the ship and hit the quay

Trotsky not Stalin was on the scene during the capture of Kranaia Gorka

page 203 the 6 British tanks they were not put out of action by someone putting sand in their gearboxs. The Tanks had mixed British and Russian crews. They were in poor shape mechanicaly. When the White army retreated they were handed over to the Estonians who got 4 and the Latvians who got 2. Some were still around in 1940 when the Soviets annexed the countries and at least one was used as a pillbox against the Germans.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on September 02, 2017, 01:35:30 AM
I was actually thinking of using the ML's not for damaging targets in Petrograd, but for smuggling in agents, like they were used in WW2 in the kidnap of General Kreipe.  Is using a submarine for that task, such as was done in Operation Pastorius, out of the question as well?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on September 02, 2017, 02:30:43 PM
You would need to look closely at depth of water, tides and the degree of slope of the beach concerned.

Realistically, you would want to land your agent at or near high tide so that the vessel can come as close inshore as possible. Since the Baltic, like the Mediterranean is nearly landlocked, I don't think it has much tidal range. You could try contacting the UK Hydrographic Office on that one.

Also try reading Paddy Ashdown: 'A Brilliant Little Operation', which has a good deal on the practical aspects of landing a raiding party from a submarine.

Hope that helps

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on September 03, 2017, 11:50:00 AM
Using a submarine to pick someone up is out as well. The water is too shallow around Kronstadt and Petrograd.  The CMBs were able to slip in and pick up and drop off agents because they were shallow enough to float over mines and the breakwaters between the forts north of Kronstadt. The CMBs were also small, low lying, and grey camo painted so they would be hard to spot at night. Also with the CMBs they were fast enough to make the trip and back in the dark. After the August kronstadt raid the Reds strengthened their defenses to the point that the CMBs could not get through. The only time they tried this on 25 August the boat failed to get through and nearly didn't make it back. The Reds also increased there patrols along the coastal areas so even if the boat had got through it would have had a hard time picking anyone up with out being spotted and shot at by them.

Note the Cheka in the Petrograd area in 1919 was headed by Yakof K Peters one of this organizations most ruthless agent hunters ect.

Note: the operation on Crete where General kreipe was kidnaped was a different war, under different conditions, ect compared to what was going on around Petrograd in 1919
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on September 04, 2017, 02:24:32 PM
Its been a long time since I have read anything on Crete in WW II. I believe landing and picking someone up at night by a ML on the  South coast of Crete was not that dangerous or difficult compared to what Agar did in the Kronstadt-Petrograd area. First of all on Crete most of the towns ports, airfields people, and German troops were on the North side of the island. The south side was had few people and the Germans did not have the troops to patrol the whole Island it was too big and the terrain was too mountainous. The Germans also by early 1944 when this operation took place had few if any aircraft on Crete. So there was little risk of the ML being spotted by aircraft. Also the weather at this time of the year in this part of the world is often bad. The Germans also had to deal with a large scale local resistance movement which controlled large parts of the island where the Germans seldom if ever went. So if a ML arrived at a pre-arranged beach on the South side of Crete. It could land or pick up people and be on its way with few problems.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on September 04, 2017, 08:20:22 PM
Ok, I concede.  I had written up a whole scene inspired by that and similar episodes, but I guess having it in Petrograd just isn't plausible.  Would a waterborne infiltration of agents be more believable if it were done by river? 
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on September 07, 2017, 11:35:38 AM
Which river are you thinking of?

If you are thinking of the Neva, then presumably your plan is to go downstream from Lake Ladoga.

James, was there much merchant shipping going in and out of Petrograd in this period? It might be possible to land and agent or two in the guise of a seaman.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on September 07, 2017, 03:02:20 PM
I was actually thinking of the Volga.  I think James is right and Petrograd is just not doable, since my prospective scene involves more than just one or two agents.  I don't think the Whites ever got close enough to Lake Ladoga to launch anything big from there.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on September 08, 2017, 03:03:32 AM
I agree. The Volga offers much more scope.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on September 08, 2017, 09:27:33 AM
Alright then.  I believe the Whites had a small flotilla on the Volga, but I haven't been able to find details about what kind of boats they had.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on September 08, 2017, 12:00:23 PM
James may know.

Otherwise, stick to what is credible. find out what sort of vessels were in use on the Volga for trading and transport purposes, and have your characters take over a few of them and equip them with machine guns and perhaps ancient naval guns (you would need to be able to get hold of the latter).

Hope that helps

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on September 09, 2017, 02:46:41 PM
One maybe a few ships got into Petrograd via Sweden in early 1919 before the RN blockaded the port. In 1920 when then PM Lloyd George lifted the trade ban and the RN blockade was removed and the Whites were gone more than a few ships came and went. The book "Histories  greatest heist" mentions this.

The Whites I believe did capture a number of ships and craft on the Volga. I don't know what types but i would say river craft. I think the book "Gone to Russia to Fight" mentions some of what the reds used. Also note the Whites did use a number of craft in the caspian Sea
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on September 14, 2017, 09:41:49 PM
Thanks a bunch.  It'll probably be a while before the next scene is posted, but I'm working on it.  In the meantime, does  anyone know how far north of Tsaritsyn the front line extended in late September and early October 1919?  None of the maps I've consulted are small enough scale to be sure.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on September 16, 2017, 06:01:39 PM
I don't think it was too far. I will do more research. Note: I belive there were hundreds of Russian Naval officers in Siberia with the White army just sitting around not doing very much during the Civil war. You could have one or more of the agents being a naval officer(s) or warrant officers to help man the gunboat. Also note the Whites did operate a number of river gunboats in Siberia.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on September 16, 2017, 06:54:53 PM
Thanks.  The reason I ask is to assess the risk of coming under attack from shore batteries or Red river craft during the infiltration and getaway.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 11, 2017, 05:30:24 PM
October 2, 1919
   Captain Leontiy Telitsyn, the Reconnaissance Battlegroup’s chief intelligence officer,
put on an overcoat and climbed to the deck of the White gunboat Burya and stared across the water at the twinkling lights of Saratov 7.5 versts away.  16 specially trained soldiers were on the ground, operating deep in enemy territory.
   The hand-picked men of the Reconnaissance Battlegroup planned to assassinate 3 regicides in their bedrooms, in the heart of Saratov.  The intended message: “Our reach is long. We can find you anywhere.”
   Captain Telitsyn paced the confined space.  Months of poring over maps had helped him pinpoint a certain cluster of lights in the northwest corner of the city—in a few minutes the force should be there.   Suddenly a trail of tracers cut through the night. He took a deep breath of concern: at least the teams had reached the right area. But why the tracer fire? Were they engaged in a firefight with the Red Army?  His discomfort intensified.
   Yuryev had been onto something when he had asked Bylinkin if there were other hit teams.  There were indeed, and one was now in Saratov enabling what was scheduled to be the Intelligence Department’s most audacious endeavor yet in Operation Rod of Iron.  It had been planned for months in advance, and Bylinkin had sent his deputy Yaroslav Mikhailov to the Southern Front to coordinate things.  It had been a logistical nightmare, but now things were finally taking shape.
   While White secret agents hunted and killed junior Soviets across Russia, they were also compiling details on three men connected to the execution of the Romanov family, who appeared to be living beyond the reach even of the Intelligence Department.  The three targeted Bolsheviks were Mikhail Kabanov, Aleksei’s brother who had also participated in the massacre; Pavlushin; and Aleksandr Kostusov, the latter two of whom had assisted in burning the Romanovs’ bodies.  Safely ensconced in fortified houses in Saratov, they were thought to be untouchable. 
   The operation to kill them was to become legendary.  Instead of using Intelligence Department agents, as for previous assassinations, the leaders of the Rod of Iron team turned instead to Anton Denikin’s Volunteer Army.  It was decided that it would be worth the risk to bring  Denikin into the loop.
   Having been entrusted with overseeing the deaths of these men, Mikhailov had met with Denikin back in April and given a basic outline of the assassination campaign before turning specifically to the three targets in Saratov.  “We will need to put together a temporary unit composed of your best men,” Mikhailov had explained.  Denikin selected one of his ablest officers, Colonel Aleksei Arkhangelsky, to lead the Reconnaissance Battlegroup, as Mikhailov had decided to name the ad hoc unit, a name he hoped would be banal enough to disguise its true purpose.  Arkhangelsky personally selected the officers and men of the unit, mostly drawing them from guards and shock infantry units.  The Reconnaissance Battlegroup had spent all summer training under brutal conditions, mostly focusing on endurance and urban warfare.  All that the unit’s men were told initially was that the brass was looking to locate several Bolshevik targets in Saratov. 
   In early August 1919, Arkhangelsky returned to his base from a meeting at Denikin’s headquarters.  He assembled the Reconnaissance Battlegroup’s senior officers around the brown plywood-topped table in his office.  Viktor Osipov, deputy commander of the unit, sat next to Captain Saveliy Tselikovsky, Captain Telitsyn, and Lieutenant Mitrofan Vagin.  As the hardened soldiers gathered around expectantly, Arkhangelsky removed three grainy photographs from a folder lying on his desk.
   “Pavlushin, Mikhail Kabanov, Aleksandr Kostusov,” he said, slapping each of the photographs down on the desk.  The five soldiers looked closely at the photos.  They recognized the names and faces.  Captain Telitsyn recited the Communist biographies of the three, as he had received them from above.  All three were intimately involved with the murder of the Romanovs, said Arkhangelsky, as he unfurled an aerial map of Saratov.  He revealed where Kabanov, Kostusov and Pavlushin were living: “Here,” he said, pointing to the Bunta neighborhood, “on Bolshaya Gornaya Ulitsa, just beyond the cemetery and the park and the old business district, in these two buildings.”  The Reconnaissance Battlegroup had been given the task of assassinating them, said Arkhangelsky.  A murmur ran through the men as they clustered around the map.  There wasn’t much to say. A lot of intelligence work had to be done before they could start on an operational plan.  But there was still a sense of jubilation among the officers present at the meeting.
   The Intelligence Department’s agents went into the field early, undercover, to collect intelligence for the Reconnaissance Battlegroup.  They photographed the apartment buildings, filmed the street at all hours of the day and night, checked the traffic routes to and from the buildings, and observed everyday life in the neighborhood.  The hundreds of hours of surveillance work would hopefully translate into half an hour of meticulously executed action.
   White intelligence agents had obtained detailed architectural plans of the buildings, and the first question planners needed to answer was how to transport Arkhangelsky’s troops to Saratov, a 300,000-person river port 30 milyas north of the front line.  A cavalry raid was ruled out almost immediately as too overt and dangerous.  The river proved a better option.  Captain Saveliy Tselikovsky disguised himself as a fisherman and boarded a large, two-sailed lugger to reconnoiter a 7.5-verst stretch of beach along Saratov’s central shore.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 11, 2017, 05:33:54 PM
Tselikovsky grew up in the village of Aleksandrovskoye.  He had joined the Imperial army in 1910 and was a proud and stout soldier.  He welcomed the chance to exact revenge for the massacre in Yekaterinburg.
   Telitsyn pinpointed Savage Beach as a workable landing spot for the team.  While it was a public beach, it afforded lots of tree cover which largely shielded it from the nearest buildings, and there was little activity there at night.
   The reports arrived in a steady stream.  The Intelligence Department’s undercover combatants learned the layout of the lobby, the design of the staircases, and the number of stairs on each landing.  They checked the schedule of the concierge to see when he would likely be at his post. They reported back to Novorossiysk how many guards typically manned the front doors.  Telitsyn investigated the Saratov Cheka: how many policemen were on night duty across the city, how many would respond to a call in that part of town, with how many vehicles, in what time frame, and with what degree of professionalism.
   The plan was remarkable.  Instead of an overt assault, the chosen soldiers, disguised as peasants, would sail to Saratov on gunboats, relying on speed, stealth and good luck to slip past any Red shore defenses or river patrols.  3 versts from town they would transfer to folding boats with outboard motors, which would silently slide onto the shore.  Intelligence Department reserves officers, also posing as peasants, would wait in large carts at the beach, their 7.5-verst route committed to memory.
   The code name “Operation Shimmering Light” was selected for the proposed Saratov attack, and the first preparations were soon under way.  The unit began buying an array of peasant clothing.  Security was imperative; an intelligence officer even warned the owner of a men’s clothing shop on Novorossiysk’s Rozhdestvenskaya Ulitsa to keep quiet about a spate of bulky tough guys buying oversized jackets (which the soldiers would wear to conceal a small arsenal of weaponry).
   Tselikovsky had been carrying a small, passport-size picture in his shirt pocket for the two weeks prior to the mission.  Telitsyn had given him the photo. He studied the lean face of Mikhail Kabanov at every opportunity—when all hell broke loose in the apartment, amidst the screaming and the sting of sweat in his eyes, he would recognize his target immediately. Once he’d pulled the trigger he would have one more opportunity to verify his target: Mikhail Kabanov was missing the pinkie finger of his left hand. The others carried similar photos.
   The men of the Reconnaissance Battlegroup had been chosen because of their high abilities.  Of these already highly-skilled soldiers, the top 14 were picked for the mission.  A 15th, Viktor Osipov, joined at the last minute.  They spent weeks training every night, practicing the skills they would require in Saratov: rapid house entry, shooting from moving vehicles, role-playing.   Their practice drills mirrored the real thing.  They got into folding boats, motored to shore, docked, piled into carts, sat in their exact positions, and drove for 7.5 versts.  They unloaded at two brick buildings in south Novorossiysk.  The neighborhood was still under construction and had been commandeered at night by the army under false pretenses. The warriors split into four teams. Three went up to their assigned apartments, and one, under the command of Arkhangelsky, remained on the street as a forward command center. They practiced the quick entry steps into the lobby and then watched one another’s backs in a coordinated dancelike sprint up winding flights of stairs, guns aimed upwards, counting the floors as they climbed.  Pavlushin lived on the 2nd floor, Aleksandr Kostusov on the 3rd, and Mikhail Kabanov on the 6th floor of a neighboring building. 
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 11, 2017, 05:40:02 PM
Denikin himself came to observe the team’s drills in south Novorossiysk.  After watching a full rehearsal, he pulled Arkhangelsky aside.  “Listen, Aleksei Petrovich,” he said, “it doesn’t look good. You fellows will be peasants in civilian clothes, but all these men, at one-thirty in the morning? Their security guards are going to notice you fellows, it’s too suspicious… think of something else.”
   Arkhangelsky, and Tselikovsky, who was listening in, knew he was correct. It didn’t look right.  Denikin leaned in and said, “What if some of you came dressed as women?”  Tselikovsky liked the idea immediately. He turned to Arkhangelsky and said, “Yes, Aleksei Petrovich, let’s dress up as couples. We’ll walk spread out in pairs.”
   Tselikovsky set himself to the task.  Wigs and dresses were found for several soldiers who were to disguise themselves as peasant women.  The shortest warriors would wear the drag.  Arkhangelsky would be the buxom brunette, Anatoliy Shigayev and Konstantin Siyalov would be blondes.
   The warriors carried all their weapons and explosives under their jackets and on their belts, or, in the case of the “ladies,” in their bags and under their skirts.  During another dry run, Saveliy Tselikovsky, a broad-shouldered man in a blouse two sizes too big for him, walked hand in hand with Arkhangelsky, the brunette, to the entrance of the building.  Afterward Denikin approached Tselikovsky and felt his jacket, asking, “What do you have on under here?”
   “4 grenades on my belt, a Fedorov Avtomat under one arm, a Nagant under the other arm, and 8 magazines, with 25 bullets each in these pockets,” Tselikovsky replied, showing an array of tailored pockets sewn into his blouse.  Denikin nodded.
   Each warrior understood that if something went wrong with the plan, they were alone. No cavalry would come to Saratov.  One night, after a long day of practice, Tselikovsky gathered the three other men in his team.  “We’re going on an unusual mission, in the heart of a bustling city. There’ll be guards at the doors to the place.  The Communists will be armed.  There’ll be lots of unarmed civilians around us. What we need to focus on is Kabanov; he needs to pay for his sins.”  Tselikovsky paused.  “If we do as we’ve planned, we’ll leave the city in one piece. It’s true, anything could happen, but we’ll stay calm, confident, and clearheaded.  Each problem has a solution.”  Finally, feeling he needed to hammer home the point of the mission, Tselikovsky added: “This is the first time we are attacking an enemy with a name, not some unknown adversary with a weapon.  As far as Mother Russia is concerned, these three guys have committed war crimes.  This is revenge for the Romanovs.  We need them to feel our anger, and to fear us.”
   On September 28, 1919, the same day Netrebin was gunned down in Yekaterinburg, an advance party of White secret agents arrived in Saratov to prepare for the military assault by the Reconnaissance Battlegroup.  Posing as peasants, they procured 8 carts.
   The raid on Saratov was certainly regarded as professional and brilliant—at least after the event. It was not nearly as easy to be certain about it on Tuesday, September 30.  The agents used that day and part of Wednesday to explore six particular locations.  Two were in Saratov itself, three on the outskirts of the city, and one across the river, in the town of Pokrovsk.  This last location, and the three outside Saratov, were Red Army camps and supply depots, storing and maintaining arms, vehicles, boats, records and documents.  Of the two locations in Saratov proper, one was the headquarters of the Volga Military District.
   The other one was the pair of apartment buildings where Mikhail Kabanov, Pavlushin and Aleksandr Kostusov lived.
   Since some of the planning, preparation and surveillance had already been done by local agents of the Intelligence Department who would be expected to stay in Saratov after the operation, the advance party required only to do the work that the local agents could not do without blowing their cover.  This included procuring the vehicles that would be abandoned after the raid, and guiding the raiding parties to their destinations.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 11, 2017, 05:45:20 PM
As the White agents plotted how to move the Reconnaissance Battlegroup around Saratov at high speed, and rehearsed the routes they would take in their carts, Aleksei Arkhangelsky’s team was making their final preparations on the other side of the front.
   On Wednesday morning, October 1, the Reconnaissance Battlegroup’s 16 warriors rolled up to the Tsaritsyn jetty on a bus packed with gear and weapons.  Denikin and Colonel Ryasnyansky, head of the Intelligence unit of the Commander-in-Chief Staff, were both waiting for them at the entrance to the harbor.  They hopped on the bus and wished the fighters well.  Denikin had some final instructions for the team.  “We’ve got to kill those bastards,” he told the men.  None of the soldiers thought the Communists would throw their hands in the air and surrender, but they had practiced catching them, cuffing them, and transporting them to Tsaritsyn.  Deep down inside they knew that the chances of bringing them back as prisoners were slim and that in truth the brass didn’t really intend for them to do that, but the Commander-in-Chief’s utterance was more explicit than usual.
   The plan had evolved.  The Reconnaissance Battlegroup was no longer acting alone in Saratov.  Their target was still the primary objective, but it was not the only one. The Commander-in-Chief and other intelligence officers figured that they would get one chance to strike in the heart of Saratov before the Soviets fortified their positions, rendering White raids too dangerous.  Shimmering Light had to be lightning in a bottle.  Additional forces, shock infantry and sailors, would strike other Communist targets.  The first shock infantry team, led by Captain Vladimir Zharzhevsky, commander of the 50th Shock Infantry Battalion, was to strike a seven-story building in east Saratov, where the Volga Military District was headquartered.  The second additional target, a building in Pokrovsk, was suspected as serving as a munitions factory.  The final target, a suspected weapons factory, was to be detonated by Captain Panteley Balashov, commander of the White Volga Flotilla.  Lieutenant General Alexander Kutepov, commander of the 1st Army Corps, was the commander of this part of the mission.
   The river was smooth as pool water on the morning the forces set sail.  It took 13 hours to reach their destination.  Most of the men tried to sleep on the way in.  Luckily, they encountered no Red craft.  The most anxious moment of the infiltration was late that afternoon when the boats passed Kamyshin, the only town of significant size between Tsaritsyn and Saratov.  The boats’ pilots turned off the engines and hugged the east bank of the river as they passed Kamyshin, and the men who were still awake started praying.  A collective sigh of relief swept the boats once they had cleared the town.  Time crawled.  As they neared their destination the men began checking their equipment and mentally running through what they were expected to do on the ground.
   The 8 carts were parked near Savage Beach shortly after midnight.  The area was totally deserted.
   There was little moonlight.  The river was black.  At 0100 hours one of the Intelligence Department agents saw the pinpoint of a flashlight in the dark and lit a lantern and hung it in his cart.  The flashlight went out.
   3 versts from Savage Beach, the White forces disembarked from the gunboats and clambered down into folding boats with outboard motors crewed by some of the sailors for the transfer to the beach.  The teams wore cloaks over their wigs and jackets and carried their weapons in watertight bags.  Several hundred arshins from the beach, the sailors cut the engines and began to paddle.  They moved fast, in unison, in silence.  The intelligence Department agent with the lantern guided the boats into land. As they approached Savage Beach the sailors slipped over the side and helped the passengers ashore. They hit the beach at 0130 hours with dry feet and dry wigs.  Their sealed watertight bags were opened containing shoes, pistols, grenades, knives, and a few Fedorov Avtomats.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 11, 2017, 05:48:11 PM
The 40 soldiers moved to the 8 waiting carts and squeezed themselves in - which the agent with the lantern would later say was the toughest technical problem of the entire mission.  Saveliy Tselikovsky jumped into the first cart, accompanied by Aleksei Arkhangelsky, Viktor Osipov, and two soldiers, Anatoliy Shigayev and Svyatoslav Zhvikov.  The 8 carts split into 4 groups and set off.  The man driving the lead cart told Arkhangelsky and Tselikovsky that he had noticed a pair of Chekists loitering around the target area.  Arkhangelsky did not outwardly respond. 
   As the 3 carts containing the 16 men of the Reconnaisance Battlegroup drove into Saratov at a sedate pace, Tselikovsky glanced at Arkhangelsky, his commander.  “Ow, Aleksei Petrovich, you don’t make a pretty woman,” he said.
   “But I feel pretty, that’s what matters,” retorted Arkhangelsky.
   “You brought a lot of guns,” remarked the driver.
   The carts covered 7.5 westbound versts in 20 uneventful minutes.  They parked around the corner from Bolshaya Gornaya Ulitsa, and the soldiers piled out, with Arkhangelsky’s arm slipping around Tselikovsky’s waist as they walked towards their targets.  Their disguises were apparently so convincing that, even when the “couple” brushed against two armed Chekists walking along the pavement, the officers did not give them a second glance.  The Intelligence Department combatants, many of whom held regular jobs and simply made themselves available for “assignments,” drove down the street and parked, ready to assist at a moment’s notice. They got out of their carts and spoke quietly among themselves, casually holding their horses and chatting.
   Within a few minutes the Reconnaissance Battlegroup had reached the three apartment blocks and split into three groups to attack each one.  The “brunette,” Arkhangelsky, waited in the street with the “blonde,” Konstantin Siyalov; the unit’s doctor, Yelisei Demenok; and navy liaison officer Stanislav Amelin.
   In the courtyard of Pavlushin and Kostusov’s building, five Cheka guards, armed with old rifles and Mosin-Nagants, were keeping watch, smoking and talking.  The soldiers in drag entered the courtyard.  One of the Chekists walked towards them.  The soldiers drew silenced Nagants and opened fire.  The Chekists were shot before they could lift their guns.  The soldiers used knives to make sure all five were dead.  Behind them, more soldiers rushed silently in.
   Across the street, Tselikovsky led his four-man team through glass doors into the building housing Mikhail Kabanov’s apartment.  Tselikovsky led them through the lobby and up the stairs at a silent gallop, taking two or three steps with each bound, and drawing their guns as they ran.  They stopped at the sixth floor and paused on either side of Kabanov’s front door, while Zhvikov bent down and placed an explosive charge beneath the knob.  Tselikovsky turned on his flashlight and started counting down the minutes on his watch.  All three assaults were scheduled to begin simultaneously at 0200 hours.  Finally the countdown neared its end.  “Five one thousand, four one thousand, three one thousand, two one thousand, one one thousand…zero one thousand.”  Tselikovsky pointed at Zhvikov.
   Zhvikov jumped up and flipped the switch on the activation device.  Suddenly the sharp popping sound of gunfire rose from the street. Two more seconds passed before the detonation device exploded, blowing the door off its hinges and filling the hall with smoke.  Tselikovsky and his team raced inside, with the leader following a predetermined route and breaking left into the apartment’s main corridor and on through Kabanov’s office.  They knew the layout from the endless drills and simulations. Running down the hall toward the workroom with Zhvikov behind him, Tselikovsky turned to see a familiar face peek out of the master bedroom.  He raised his Fedorov Avtomat at Mikhail Kabanov, the man whose picture he had kept in his breast pocket. 
Even as the Bolshevik slammed the door shut in a bid to escape, the chatter of automatic rifle fire pierced the night, as Tselikovsky and Zhvikov each unleashed a long blast of fire.  Bullets from their Fedorov Avtomats tore through the door and wall. Then with a hefty kick Tselikovsky smashed down the remains of the bedroom door.  Both soldiers found Mikhail Kabanov lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood, his fatally injured wife by his side.  Tselikovsky, worried by the shooting in the street, decided not to pick up Kabanov’s papers as planned, despite the waterproof bags they carried for that express purpose. He commanded his soldiers to follow him to the street below.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 11, 2017, 09:46:00 PM
The other two teams in the apartment building across the road were similarly successful in finding their targets.  Aleksandr Kostusov was caught by surprise, sitting at his desk, in his pajamas, working on a eulogy for a friend.  He managed to duck beneath the desk and squeeze off a single bullet, hitting a White named Vyacheslav in the leg, before the 2nd soldier through the door shot Kostusov dead in a burst of fire.  A couch behind him burst into flames as the phosphorus bullets riddled his body.
   On the 2nd floor Pavlushin also sat at his desk, writing.  As the Reconnaissance Battlegroup burst into his apartment their target leapt away towards a Mosin-Nagant.  Screaming with rage, he managed to fire one shot from his rifle before his body was shredded by bullets.  The soldiers shoved piles of paper into the bags and left the apartment within two minutes. Racing down the stairs, an apartment door opened, triggering immediate fire from one of the tense White soldiers.  A 70-year-old German woman, investigating the nighttime noise and commotion, was immediately killed.
   Outside in the street more shooting indicated that the Whites were under attack.  Tselikovsky led his team back out of the apartment and raced down the stairs and out of the house to join the firefight in progress.  As he emerged onto the street he was witness to an extraordinary sight.
   Arkhangelsky and Siyalov, in wigs, had been standing next to Demenok and Amelin when a curious security guard got out of a parked sedan and approached them. Crossing the street, he pulled out his weapon. Arkhangelsky and Siyalov waited until he was a few arshins away, drew their silenced pistols, and fired. The security guard retreated to his car, firing over his shoulder. Arkhangelsky and Siyalov returned fire with their Fedorov Avtomats.  A stray bullet activated the horn of the car, which attracted the attention of a nearby Internal Troops patrol, which would arrive with shocking alacrity. This gun battle is what Captain Telitsyn saw from the deck of the gunboat. 
   Once the security guard stopped firing, Arkhangelsky summoned the getaway carts.  Suddenly an Internal Troops combat vehicle appeared and began racing towards the scene.  As Tselikovsky led his team out the front door of his apartment, he saw Siyalov, in drag with a blonde wig, blazing away with a Fedorov Avtomat at the vehicle.  Another combat vehicle carrying four more Internal Troops appeared on the road, only for bursts of White fire to kill or wound all of the men.
   The getaway carts skidded to a halt near Arkhangelsky, just as another Internal Troops Opel appeared.  Tselikovsky pulled a grenade from under his jacket and lobbed it at the men.  It landed in the open-topped vehicle and exploded.  Four Internal Troops were thrown from the vehicle, either dead or wounded.
   Tselikovsky gave a signal with his right hand, and the soldiers squeezed back into the carts and raced toward the beach.  The Bolshevik cars, burning, flipped on their sides, blocked the street.  A narrow escape way through the wreckage remained.  The carts sped away.  The last cart sprayed nails behind them to impede any followers.  Once they had slid back into the main artery of traffic, the drivers resumed a casual pace, arousing no suspicion.   After spending a nervous verst stuck behind a Red cavalry unit on routine patrol,  the Whites arrived back at Savage Beach, where they parked their carts neatly in a line on the road above the beach, unhitched the horses and turned them loose, and went down to the water, where they were greeted by sailors who shuttled them back to the gunboats waiting downstream.  From the moment Aleksei Arkhangelsky, Saveliy Tselikovsky had landed on the beach to the moment they left again, the operation had taken precisely half an hour.
   Boarding the gunboats, they were updated about the other components of the mission.  Zharzhevsky’s team of shock infantry, also in civilian garb and escorted by Intelligence Department combatant drivers, had been taken in 3 carts to the center of Saratov, where they had been engaged in a fierce firefight in front of the Volga Military District headquarters.  Two soldiers were killed, one critically injured.  The forward entry team was able to lay the explosive devices under heavy fire and damage the 6-story building.  Captain Zharzhevsky would be awarded a citation for valor for his command under fire.  The sailors and shock infantry encountered no resistance, but, due to faulty intelligence, also found no weapons or munitions factories.
   The soldiers were evacuated by sea, as were the Intelligence Department agents.  The night gave the Whites an advantage as the gunboats sped down the Volga as fast as they could go, once again not meeting any Red boats.  By the time they passed Kamyshin, the garrison there still hadn’t received word of the attacks in Saratov, and since the gunboats were heading toward the front rather than coming from that direction, they were not challenged.  The White force returned to Tsaritsyn in mid-afternoon.  Denikin received them.
   Shimmering Light made a searing impression in Soviet Russia, a combination of anger, embarrassment, and awe.  Stories abounded.  Myths grew. 
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on November 22, 2017, 07:24:50 PM
Some comments:
The Isrealis in at least one raid against the Palestinians had some of their Commandos dress up as Women.

You mention a clothing store. It is possible for one to be in business but there were people all over Russia selling about every thing they owned to get money to buy food.

A rifle like the Fedrov Automat would be too big to stick under a blouse.

Note peasant women in Russia wore headscarfs. For a woman to wear a hat was a sure sign in the Civil war period you were upper class.

I don't think they would have had that much time to train for a operation. Remember things moved in the Russian civil war with sometimes WW II level speed. Denikin and his army were confident in the Summer and fall of 1919 that they were going to defeat the reds and be in Moscow by the end of the year.

I am not sure how wide the river was near Saratov no doubt during the spring thaw the river would be over flowing.

They did have outboard motors back then but I am not sure how much horsepower they had.

Comment: If you are a agent behind enemy lines and you are carrying a pistol in your pocket in the Russian Civil war period it would be loaded with the safety on if it was a automatic pistol like the Browning. You might have to shoot someone who is close by with the pistol in the pocket. It is also possible you could be shot in one arm, or grappeled by someone or knocked down. You need to have a round in the chamber ready.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on November 24, 2017, 01:20:22 AM
Some comments:
The Isrealis in at least one raid against the Palestinians had some of their Commandos dress up as Women.

In case it isn't obvious, this scene is heavily inspired by the 1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon.

A rifle like the Fedrov Automat would be too big to stick under a blouse.

I was trying to portray the men as carrying them under jackets and the "women" concealing them under their skirts.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 01, 2018, 05:35:54 PM
I decided to write something on this operation the first meeting of the team and the National Center:
Late March 1919  a park in a suburb of Moscow a Old man is siting on a stone bench in what had been a nice park Bylinkin walks up to him:
Bylinkin: Excuse me are you a lawyer?
Old Man: Yes why do you ask?
Bylikin: I was told by a sailor to contact you.
Old man : Is the sailor from the Baltic Fleet?
Bylinkin: No from Siberia.
Old man: So you are the man I have been waiting for have a seat (Bylinkin sits down near him)
Old man : The leader of our organization is against what you are going to do because it will most certainly disrupt our intelligence gathering operations, but orders are orders we have to help you. how many people are in your goup?
Bylinkin: my comrade who is down the street aways and 3 other 2 person teams that should be arriving in a week or two.
Old man: WE can get you intelligence, arms, explosives, false papers, safe houses with few problems. Food is both hard to come by and expensive.
Bylinkin: I see
Old man: There are some things you  can do to help us.
Bylinkin: Like what?
Old man: Money for one we never have enough and always need more. We also need couriers to carry intelligence and there are a few people we would like you to kill as it would make our job easier.
Bylinkin: Your requests are reasonable . We will try and help you if it doesn't interfear to much with our operations
Old man; Good! are any of your people good at bomb making?
Bylinkin : all of us have some training in bomb making and one of us is a real expert.
Old man: Excellent! there are trains full of munitions leaving Moscow constantly leaving for the front. Blowing one or more of them up would greatly help out armies.
Bylikin: Yes it would. I'll see about it.
Old man; (handing him a pen and paper) give me a list of the people you plan on 'removing" (Bylinkin takes paper and pen and writes down the names while the old man writes on another sheet of paper after a short while they hand each other the sheets of paper they were writing on)
Old man: I know where you can find a few of these scondrels and should be able to find you the information on most if not all of the rest in about a week. In away it might be better for you to try and kill Lenin and Trotsky, but Lenin is too well guarded after the attempt on him last year and Trotsky is always on the move.
Bylinkin: I agree
Old man: I always go for a walk to this park Sunday afternoons unless the weather is too bad. The sheet of paper I gave you has locations of two dead drops where I will leave messages for you and your replies.
Bylinkin: (looks at paper) I should have no problems finding them.
Old Man: I may not survive this, but I hope my organzations information leads to the defeat of these Bolshevik scoundrels. I wish Kolchak and Denikin would
listen more to the advise we send them.
Bylinkin: Don't worry old man our armies will be in Moscow by the end of the year at the latest.
old man: I hope so. It is a honor for me to be of help to you. I will meet you here next sunday at this same time. Take care.
Bylinkin: I will you take care as well (both men stand shake hands and walk away)
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 02, 2018, 11:58:12 AM
That's great, James!  I'm working on a new scene at the moment.  If you want to collaborate on this story the way people have elsewhere on the forum, I could send the scene to your messages for review before posting.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 09, 2018, 07:09:47 PM
Glad you liked it but it may be awhile before my next post. Sending your posts to me for review would be fine.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 10, 2018, 02:15:57 PM
Ok. I have issues getting email from the forum so probably the best way to get in touch is through messages.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 14, 2018, 09:30:50 PM
This scene contains some profanity.

October 3, 1919

   Shimmering Light did not demand the Intelligence Department’s full attention.  While that operation was in motion, another was under way.
   Yuryev and his team had headed for Perm after the hit on Netrebin, arriving in the early morning of September 29.  To their horror, Yuryev and the A and Be squads found their initial safe house to be a derelict building, the crummiest on a block of really crummy warehouses. 
   “Is this Bylinkin’s idea of a joke?” Feliks asked as they looked in disbelief at the address.
   “I’ve had nightmares that look like this,” said Mikhail.
   Inside the safe house they found a large and utterly derelict apartment.  It was unfinished and abandoned: cinderblock walls, cement floor, and dank.  It was unfurnished, except for a few rickety chairs, a couple of crates and two stacks of old mattresses - a pile of five and a pile of four - each pile tied with hemp.
   The target this time was a slightly more difficult man to reach, in a hotel in Perm.  Grigori Sukhorukov, who had participated in the burning of the Imperial Family’s bodies, was in the city for a meeting.  A tough target, Sukhorukov behaved as if he were in enemy territory in Perm.  He rarely left his room in the Hotel Ural and forbade housekeeping from entering.
   On his way to Cheka headquarters on Petropavlovskaya Ulitsa just a few blocks away, he went to great lengths to shake any possible tail, switching cabs in the middle of his trip, taking many side streets, and paying careful attention to his back.  The O squad followed him throughout. After a few days of surveillance, Yuryev decided that the best way to end Sukhorukov’s life without jeopardizing safety or cover was to plant an explosive device in his room. All they needed was Miroshnichenko’s approval before picking the appropriate time and place.
   On October 2, around the same time Shimmering Light was taking place, a Raduga operative arrived in Perm, bringing with him a message from Miroshnichenko authorizing the mission to go ahead.  This agent, Albert, had been a skilled electrician before the war.  Upon being assigned to Raduga, he had received further training in burglary and bomb-making.  To avoid danger to the rest of the team, he stayed alone in a separate safe-house from other team members.
   The following day Yuryev and the A and Be squads moved to another safe house.  They were sitting at dinner when, a little after 1930 hours, a message came from the O squad at the Ural Hotel in Ulitsa Pokrovskaya.  Apparently Shimmering Light had shaken Sukhorukov from his precautionary routine.  He had heard snippets of information about the stunning mission that ended the lives of numerous comrades, but was still unable to piece together the full story. He finally left his room to buy a newspaper.  Yuryev sent a message back ordering half the O squad to follow Sukhorukov and, if necessary, detain him, until Albert and the A squad finished planting the bomb in his hotel room.  He ordered the other half to remain in the hotel and only walk out when Sukhorukov was alone in his room.
   Their plan was to take a carriage and pick up Albert, along with the explosives.  Mikhail and Natalia carried their 7.65mm Brownings, and Yuryev carried one to give to Albert as well.  They piled into the carriage and set out for their rendezvous.
   It was a long trip from their safe house off Ulitsa Krasnoufimskaya to almost the other end of town—the corner of Ulitsa Monastyrskaya and Glavnyy Prospekt, where they picked up Albert and Zakhar.  Albert was dressed in his old electrician’s togs and carrying his travel bag, a toolbox, a can of plaster, and finally a box which he kept a close hold of.  (Their second safe house was near a cemetery; as Mikhail remarked: “Good, at least we don’t have far to walk.”).  They proceeded on their journey in two carriages.  With Yuryev, Feliks, Angelika, Natalia and Mikhail in one carriage, followed by Zakhar and Albert in the second, they covered the short distance to Ulitsa Pokrovskaya in a few minutes.
   They arrived in front of Sukhorukov’s hotel shortly after 2000 hours.  Albert got out of Zakhar’s carriage and went over to confer with the occupants of Yuryev’s.  “I’ll need someone to come up with me to his room,” he explained.  Mikhail volunteered, and Albert handed him his travel bag and the can of plaster.  Yuryev handed Albert a Browning.
   Albert looked down at the box in his hand.  “Since I was sent here in a hurry, the only explosives I could get were Japanese phosphorus grenades.  I’ve surrounded each one with newspaper to prevent jostling.”  He pointed to the end of an arrow drawn on the side of the box.  “I’ve clustered them together at this end and altered them all to use with a single fuse.  The rest of the box is stuffed with heavy paper to create a shaped charge.  When they explode they’ll toss little white balls of phosphorus around his room.  Each ball is like a little sun.  It burns at around 2800 degrees.  The air catches fire, everything melts.  Now what I’ll do is plant it in the wall of his room behind the telephone, with this end pointing into the room, in such a way that if the receiver is lifted from the hook that will trigger the explosion.  When you know he’s in his room, you call him from that telephone booth across the street.  And also I should mention the grenades are quite old, only four looked viable.  I dumped the other eight in the bag.”
   Mikhail and Albert went into the lobby while the others waited outside.  They made their way to the fifth floor, where Albert picked the lock on Sukhorukov’s door with a snap gun.  Albert did his work well, and before Mikhail knew it he was spreading a thin layer of plaster over the hole in the wall, after which they moved the furniture back into position and cleaned up.  It was shortly after 2030 hours when they left the hotel, leaving nothing in Sukhorukov’s room to indicate it had been disturbed.  They returned to the carriages, which moved down the street about forty sazhens from the hotel.  Natalia got out of Yuryev’s carriage.  She looked both ways.  She took out her silenced Browning and shot out the street light nearest the carriage.  She got into Zakhar’s carriage with Mikhail and Albert.  Everyone waited without speaking.  And about ten minutes later, Sukhorukov returned to the hotel, having bought a few papers with screaming headlines about the raid in Saratov.  He had left the Intelligence Department operatives little time to operate; but it was enough.  He was followed closely by Artyem.  In a few seconds one of the O squad would be coming out of the hotel to signal them as to whether Sukhorukov had entered his room alone. That would be the signal for Natalia to call his room and set off the explosion.  The wait was agonizing.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 14, 2018, 09:51:56 PM
Finally Lazar came out of the main entrance of the hotel, stretched, yawned, scratched his head and lit a cigarette.  Then he turned and walked back into the hotel.  “He’s in his room.  Do it,” Mikhail told Natalia.  She stepped out of the carriage and into the phone booth.
   Yuryev’s eyes instinctively ran up the wall to the row of windows on the fifth floor.  He wasn’t quite sure of Sukhorukov’s particular window, but the sudden flash would be unmistakable.  Even if he wasn’t looking at the right window, he’d see it.
   He saw nothing.
   Nothing, even though a minute must have passed since Lazar went back into the hotel.
   Still nothing.
   In Zakhar’s carriage, Mikhail waited impatiently for the explosion as well.  From the phone booth, Natalia, who was engaging Sukhorukov in flirtatious small talk, kept glancing questioningly at Albert, who shrugged.  “It was supposed to detonate as soon as he answered,” he said.  “Shit.  We’ll have to go back and retrieve the explosives, I’m sorry, I, I don’t —“
   Suddenly Mikhail reached over to the seat across from them and grabbed the travel bag.
   “Careful with that stuff!” shouted Albert.  “What are you—“
   Mikhail got out of the carriage with the travel bag.  He walked briskly but calmly towards the main entrance.    
   Yuryev and the others observed this from their carriage.  “What’s he doing?” asked Feliks.  Mikhail was walking straight into the hotel.  With the bag in his hand.  It looked almost as if he had gone crazy, even from the way he walked.  Usually he’d move in a somewhat stiff, deliberate way, like a much older man.  Now he was taking long, determined, almost flowing strides, holding his chin high in the air.  Yuryev was so taken aback that he hesitated for another few seconds. Mikhail had not even glanced in his direction when be walked into the hotel.  He was clearly not signaling Yuryev to take any kind of action, but under the circumstances, Yuryev couldn’t just stay in the carriage.
   “Wait here,” he told the others.
   Then he jumped out of the carriage, strode across the street and moved towards the hotel.
   In the hotel lobby everything was quiet. There was no one behind the reception desk.  For another second or two he looked around the deserted lobby, trying to recall the layout.   There was a door leading to the employees’ entrance.   Another door to the stairwell, the fire exit.
   Meanwhile Mikhail was rushing up the stairs.  As he did so he hung the travel bag on his left arm, opened it and took out a grenade, transferred the grenade to his left hand, and with his right hand took out his gun.  Finally, breathing heavily, he stopped outside Sukhorukov’s door.  With the grenade in his left hand and his gun in his right, he shot the lock and kicked the door open.  Then, clumsily, he pulled the grenade pin and struck the top of the cap with with his right hand, in which he still held the gun.  He tossed the grenade into the room in the direction of the wall behind the phone, past Sukhorukov, who had thrown down the receiver when Mikhail had shot the lock and was now scrambling to pull his gun from his coat.  When Sukhorukov saw the grenade he forgot about the gun and rushed towards the door.  Mikhail swung the travel bag with his left arm, clouting Sukhorukov in the face, knocking him back into the room.  Mikhail threw the bag into the room, pulled the door shut, then, dropping his gun, he hung on with both hands to the knob as Sukhorukov, inside, tried frantically to pull the door open.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 14, 2018, 10:54:49 PM
There was a flash and the door tore off its hinges, blowing into Mikhail, pushing him with a THUD into the hallway wall opposite.  Smoke rolled out of the open door.  Mikhail threw the door off, groped in the wreckage for his gun, found it and stumbled down the stairs.  There was a second, much larger explosion as the other bombs in the room detonated, a deep, muffled thud, with no reverberation.  Mikhail fell, got up and ran down the stairs, pale, his face set.  He ran into Yuryev, who had been starting towards the stairwell when he heard the first explosion.
   “Fucking Albert,” Mikhail said, on seeing Yuryev.  “I had to do it.”
   “Come on,” Yuryev replied, pointing to the door leading to the employees’ entrance. “Through here.”
   The hallway to the employees’ entrance led through a semi-basement, down half a flight of stairs, and along a dimly lit corridor to the street.  Just before reaching the exit, there were another few steps. As Mikhail opened the door, Yuryev could see the pavement from a low angle.
   A second later Zakhar’s carriage lurched into the street and pulled up in front of them.  Mikhail scrambled in while Yuryev ran, crouching, across the road to the other carriage.  “Just drive,” Yuryev said to Feliks when he got inside,“but not too fast. Understand?”  Feliks nodded.
   Back at the safe house they began to sort things out, everyone making a tremendous effort to be calm.  “Look, I know how you all feel,” said Albert.  “How do you think I feel?  Those old things were simply no good.
   Albert should have kept quiet, because this started a major argument, the first one they had had since the mission began.  Mikhail was adamant that if Albert had had real doubts about the explosive material, he should have recommended that the mission be postponed. If they had then overridden his recommendation, Albert could not be blamed. As it was, he should be. Just to mutter under his breath “I don’t think these things are much good,” did not amount to a recommendation to cancel.
   Mikhail had a point, but Yuryev had a more serious quarrel with him. There was, after all, a chain of command—but even common sense would have demanded that Mikhail consult the others before involving them in a brand-new plan of action.  Because that’s what he had done, by grabbing the travel bag with the eight grenades which still contained the original time-delay fuses and rushing up to Sukhorukov’s room without telling Albert or Yuryev what he intended to do. 
   “Well, if I had told you,” said Mikhail sullenly, “you would have said no.  At first.  Then I’m sure you would have said yes, because that was the only solution, but we would have wasted more precious time.  I took a short cut.”
   “Why the only solution?” Albert asked.  “Anyway, once you were in his room, you could have shot him.”
   “Shot him?” said Mikhail, outraged.  Then he turned to Yuryev: ”You see? He’s simply not thinking!”
   Yuryev had to agree with Mikhail.  Shooting Sukhorukov would not have solved the problem of the unexploded bomb in the room.  Once the phone call had failed to set off the bomb, the only solution might well have been Mikhail’s—but he should still not have acted on his own.  At least, he should have alerted them.
   “What if you’d got hurt in the explosion?” Yuryev asked him. “What would we have done, just left you, or hung around trying to find out what happened until we all got caught? You acted irresponsibly.”
   Yet Yuryev had the uneasy feeling that insane as Mikhail’s action seemed, it was probably right under the circumstances.  Mikhail had simply had the courage to face it.  If the booby trap could be neither blown up nor safely removed, what else could they have done but blow it up by manually throwing another grenade into the room, with the Chekist still inside?  Nor was Mikhail wrong that if they had stopped to have a conference about it, they might have been too late.
   “All right,” Yuryev said in the end, “let’s not talk about it anymore. The job’s getting to all of us. ”
   They stayed in Perm for another week, then left one by one. The explosion in the hotel, according to the papers, did start a fire, but the only person killed was Sukhorukov.  Some reports mentioned another guest who was slightly injured.
   Yuryev tried to look ahead, but he was worried.  He couldn’t say why. Everything had gone smoothly so far.  For the seven Romanovs (and their four retainers and two dogs) they had exacted vengeance on Medvedev, the Kabanov brothers, Lisitsyn, Netrebin, Kostusov and Pavlushin.  Also on Sukhorukov.  In the final analysis, it was very easy.
   Maybe too easy.  For the first time since the mission had started, Yuryev could feel a painful pressure in the pit of his stomach.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 15, 2018, 08:59:31 PM
White Phosphorus was around back then and does burn but I don't think anyone would recommend it for a hit like this.

Street Lights and phone booths. I don't know if they had either in Perm at this time and if they did they would not be working. In all the pictures ect of Ekaterinberg I didn't notice any. This is a country devastated by war, revolution and civil war. nothing worked

Safe house complaints: The team would have been happy to have had a roof over their heads that didn't leak when it rains, 4 walls and no furnishing except a crate or two to sit on.

Sukhorukov if he thought his life might be in danger he would have at least one bodyguard. he would not go out unless he had a few or several. he would also either sleep in a safe place or would of had his room guarded.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on January 16, 2018, 05:30:10 PM
Did phone booths even exist back then?   The telephone was less than fifty years old at this point.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 16, 2018, 06:04:29 PM
The first phone booth was opened in Berlin in 1881, the first in the US in 1889, and the first in London in 1903.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on January 17, 2018, 03:04:28 AM
They had telephone boxes at the main stations in Petrograd by 1916, but they may not have spread as far as Perm by then. Also, in a time of civil war, telephone cables tend to be cut.

Telegrams were much more generally used than telephones at this time. I seem to remember reading that even in August 1914 the Kaiser's palace at Potsdam was not on the telephone! This caused problems for consulting with the Kaiser over the mobilisation and march into Belgium.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on January 17, 2018, 07:52:29 AM
Didn't know that phone booths went back that far. 

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 17, 2018, 05:58:10 PM
The telephone booth info can be found on wiki. In Russia I believe in the book "Russian Hussar" the author mentions he could make a call from Moscow to St Petersburg but he had to go to the telephone exchange to do it. I believe there was another account I read of a Russian officer who arrived in Kiev port the February revolution looked a friends address in the directory called them from a phone. he didn't mention if it was a pay phone or not. Post February 1917 is when things fell apart in the Russian Empire. A city like Perm would have been way behind St Petersburg.

On don't try these in real life Nic. They may give you some ideas
FM 5-31 Booby Traps
TC 5-31 Viet Cong Booby Traps
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on January 18, 2018, 11:16:40 AM
Of course, telephone booths are more or less gone now, thanks to cell phones.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on January 18, 2018, 12:52:59 PM
Thanks for the info on the books, James.  And don't worry, there's not much risk of my trying it at home.  Chemistry was never my strongest subject.  It'll probably be a while before I add some more.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Превед on January 19, 2018, 01:54:43 PM
In the Soviet Union and in Russian today the main term seems to have been and be таксофон (taksofon) for the payphone itself - see Wikipedia (

Tелефон-автомат (telefon-avtomat) and телефонная будка (telefonnaya budka) seems to have been other terms also in use for the more elaborate booth type.

This Russian site (https://интересный.com/istoriya-telefonnoj-budki/), which looks reliable enough, says, in addition to all the info given above about telephone booths in the US, Germany etc. that:

Первые телефонные будки в России появились в 20-х годах.
The first telephone booths in Russia appeared in the 1920s.

A very peculiar-looking one in Moscow in the 1920s: (
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on January 20, 2018, 02:51:32 AM
According to one of the  books I have read on the killing of Rasputin (currently trying to remember which one), Sergei Sukhotin's role was to lay a false trail by making a telephone call from a telephone box at one of the railway station's to say that Rasputin had left the Moika and was on his way home.

Ultimately, it matters not - just work on the basis that there were no telephone boxes in Perm!

Another means of communication might be innocuous-sounding letters. For example, 'Grandma is now recovering,' might mean, 'Everything is ready for the hit.'


Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on January 20, 2018, 11:37:40 AM
Another means of communication might be innocuous-sounding letters. For example, 'Grandma is now recovering,' might mean, 'Everything is ready for the hit.'

Yeah, I've seen a lot of that in spy movies.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Превед on January 21, 2018, 02:45:33 PM
Another means of communication might be innocuous-sounding letters. For example, 'Grandma is now recovering,' might mean, 'Everything is ready for the hit.'

Yeah, I've seen a lot of that in spy movies.

My favourite coded telegram is the German Reichstag representative for the Danish minority in Schleswig, Hans Peter Hanssen-Nørremølle, telegraphing the Danish government from Berlin during some crucial point in the immediate aftermath of WW1 that "the library administration says the book may be returned", in reference to the German government and South Jutland's / North Schleswig's return back to Danish rule.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on January 22, 2018, 05:33:44 AM
A perfect example!

During WW2, the BBC broadcasts to the Occupied Countries included a series of short messages just before the Nine O'Clock News. These were sentences such as 'The black cat is in the garden,' and had a specific meaning for particular resistance groups.

My late father used to say that in August 1944 the BBC used to play the Chopin Polonaise in A Major every night as long as the Polish Home Army held out in Warsaw, and then one night they didn't.... He was 16 on 23 August and remembered it very well.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on January 22, 2018, 06:31:58 AM
During WW2, the BBC broadcasts to the Occupied Countries included a series of short messages just before the Nine O'Clock News. These were sentences such as 'The black cat is in the garden,' and had a specific meaning for particular resistance groups.

I've seen movies about that.  Pretty cool how they did that.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 22, 2018, 07:19:57 PM
The book "The Murder of Rasputin" V purishkevich states the Warsaw Station telephone booth was where a call diverting people was made.

Also note back then if you made a long distance telephone call you often had to yell for the other person to hear you

If a hotel in perm had a telephone in the room they would most likely be the best hotel in town and only in the best rooms and you most likely would have had to go through a switchboard.

I would also like to point out many rural homes in Germany did not have electricity in WW I. They had to use oil lamps and no oil in WW I means no light.

Many US farmers did not get electricity until the 1930s and 40s

A problem the Russians had in WW I is sometime their soldiers would cut down telegragh poles for firewood

In 1919 Russia candles and matches were in short supply in the red held areas.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Kalafrana on January 23, 2018, 02:02:09 AM
Once more, James makes important points.

In Britain, domestic electricity only spread quite slowly, even in towns. I remember my father telling me that his parents' house, in what was then a pleasant part of Liverpool, didn't have electricity until the 1950s. There was also a scheme during the bitter winter of 1947, when it became extremely difficult to move coal to power stations,  to provide power to coastal towns by using submarines. Non-nuclear submarines, of course, use their diesel engines to charge the batteries used when submerged. It was calculated that connecting up two submarines to the local electricity supply would provide enough power for a town of 20,000.

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on January 23, 2018, 06:07:40 AM
I remember my father telling me that his parents' house, in what was then a pleasant part of Liverpool, didn't have electricity until the 1950s.

Wow, it was that recent.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 24, 2018, 03:10:07 PM
The man who kept Moscow's power on all through the revolutions and Civil war got purged by Stalin at a later date.

As for using ships to supply electrical power the US Navy did it during the drought of late 1929/early 1930 the aircraft carrier USS Lexington CV-2 which had a turbo-electric propulsion system supplemented the electricity of Tacoma , Washington
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 07, 2018, 04:46:12 PM
There was a British agent George Alexander Hill who operated in Russia during the civil war period. he has a wiki bio where which mentions 2 books he wrote. he also was quite an expert at blowing things up.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 10, 2018, 01:04:59 PM
other books you find interesting
Rise and Kill First Renen Bergmann on the Isreali hit operations
Malice Afterthought A History of Booby traps from World War I to Vietnam  Ian Jones
from Osprey
WW II Axis Booby traps and Sabotage tactics
WW II Allied sabotage devices and booby traps
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 10, 2018, 04:14:38 PM
Here is some more of Rod of Iron Next Sunday

Bylinkin is waiting on a street corned watching for his contacts and the Cheka down the street in a abandoned building a black market operation is going on. There are people passing him coming and going to buy and sell about 100 meters away was his partner Nikifor. he the spots Natalia wearing her old ragged coat.
 They meet and go to a nearby ally and he gives her a hug.
Bylinkin: How was your trip? Where Mikhail?
Natalia: the trip wasn't too bad. We got here Thursday. Mikhail is back down the street a little ways in case this is a trap. We traveled to Moscow with a group of refugees and have registered with the Tsentroplenbezh, the organization that handles refugees. We are now living with them in an old warehouse. We are both looking for jobs and food. The Bolsheviks don't feed refugees too well.
Bylinkin: I glad you both made it! The Bolsheviks don't feed anyone very well. half of Moscow is starving! I have this list of names and addresses of some of our targets. memorize and destroy
Natalia takes the list looks at it and puts it in the front of her dress
Natalia: Friday I spotted Medvedev while job hunting
Bylinkin: Are you sure its him?
Natalia: Positive! I would know that bastard any where. I would like to try and kill him tomorrow, Monday.
Bylinkin: (pauses) Do it! and take Mikhail with you.
Natalia: I will
Bylinkin; I wish you both luck. have you seen any of the others?
Natalia: No
Bylinkin: well then get going. Wensday I will be at the Liberty Street corner and next Sunday I will be back here. Be seeing you.
Natalia: I hope so
They hug again and they both leave the ally she goes and meets up with Mikhail and they leave He goes back to his street corner
30 minutes pass Then He spots Feliks and Angelika they meet up go into the ally and Bylinkin hugs both of them.
Bylinkin: How was your trip? any problems?
Angelika: We didn't have any problems we arrived in Moscow late wendsday. and I contacted a uncle and aunt of mine. They provided us with a room to sleep and helped us both get jobs. I am going to be working as a secretary for the supreme economic council and Feliks is going to work at the rail yard repairing locomotives.
Bylinkin: this is good but very risky
angelika: My uncle is a Bolshevik party member and works with the Komprod the Commisariat of supply. I haven't told him we are spys. He thinks we are married
Bylinkin : I don't like this
Angelika: No one knows I am a spy. I haven't even told my parents who are in vladavostok. Who are both left SRs. No doubt I can get information as a secretary and felikks can really fix some locomotives.
Bylinkin: All right. Here is a list of some of the names and addresses of our targets read and destroy. I will be here next Sunday and Wensday I will be on Liberty street. well we better get going. Be seeing you
Angelika and Feiks: By
They leave the ally Bylinkin goes back to the street corned while the other two leave.

to be continued
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on March 10, 2018, 04:48:13 PM
Very nice.  I'm actually reading Bergman's book and I got some ideas from it which I might incorporate in future chapters.  In the meantime I'm working on a short filler which I'll try to post by the end of next week.  Speaking of which... would a city like Moscow at this time have any means for a private citizen to make a phone call?  I just want to make sure this time.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on March 12, 2018, 06:20:26 AM
Did private citizens even have their own phones at this point in time?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 12, 2018, 08:59:34 AM
I would say in Moscow in 1919 about the only place you would find a telephone that was working would be a government building and about the only people who you could call would be someone in another government building.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on March 12, 2018, 05:22:00 PM
The intended recipients are actually in govt buildings.  Any chance an agent could sneak into another building and use the phone for a few minutes?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on March 12, 2018, 11:30:55 PM
I would say in Moscow in 1919 about the only place you would find a telephone that was working would be a government building and about the only people who you could call would be someone in another government building.

Yeah, that would be about right.  Of course, now everyone has a phone.  We've come a long way in 100 years.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Forum Admin on March 13, 2018, 03:42:47 PM
The first telephone installations in Russia were made by the American Bell System in the early 1890s, which charged an incredible $2,500 for each new installation.  The Bell company's contract expired in 1901, and the Russian telephone system was taken over by the Swedish Ericsson Company.  By the beginning of World War I most Russian cities had some kind of telephone service, and it was possible to telephone from St. Petersburg to Moscow, with long distance service to most major cities.  By 1911 there was a total of 181,000 telephones in all of Russia.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on March 13, 2018, 04:09:20 PM
Thanks so much for the info, FA.  Of course as James has pointed out the civil war would have disrupted communications so not all those 181,000 would have been in working order in 1919
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 13, 2018, 05:18:26 PM
I would say it would be possible for someone to sneak into a government building and make a call on a telephone when someone wasn't watching or walk in and ask to use the telephone for official business.

Moscow from 1917 to 1920 the population dropped by one half. In Petrograd the population dropped by 2/3s
Food was hard to find people were starving the only way to get enough extra food was on the black market brought in by bagmen who the Cheka spent a great deal of time hunting down and arresting. Bolshevik economic policies cause much of these problems.
People left in Moscow were often starving.
Inflation was terrible
Crime was rampant
Most men walked around Moscow wearing parts of army uniforms. Besides what was left over from the old Russian army many soldiers in the red army often soldier their uniforms and equipment for food.
Most stores except for a few that sold government supplied or issued items were closed. The black market was booming.
The Bolshevik government many departments just didn't work that well
you will here more on this
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 13, 2018, 06:17:08 PM
back to our story:
Bylinkin continues to wait on the street corner periodically looking at his old pocket watch. After awhile he walks over to Nikifor
Bylinkin: It looks like no one else is coming lets see if we can get some else to eat and head home.
They head towards the Black market, passing a number of ragged thin looking people heading away with bags of food, they also pass store after boarded up store.
 later at their safe house they are siting around eating in a small backroom empty except their belongings and some blankets.
Bylinkin: Feliks has a job repairing train engines what do you have that he can use to really fix them?
Nikifor: I have 3 lumps of coal that have bombs in them.
Bylinkin: Good!
Nikifor: I also have some long delay fuses to attach to the explosives that he can set in a ammo train causing it to blow up a few days alter. he knows about putting dirt in gearboxes and how to clog up a lubricating line. I have been doing some thinking.
Bylinkin : What about?
Nikifor: When or If Galina and Zakhar get here why don't we send them on to Tambor and get Lisitsyn and then they can head to Denikin's lines
Bylinkin: I was thinking the same thing. I am also thinking of leaving Feliks and Angelika behind as agents. I know it is risky but their jobs could provide us with all sorts of information.
Nikifor: Sounds good!
Bylinkin: I am also planning on sending Mikhail and Natalia back to Siberia with information for the Admiral after we have taken care of a few of these scoundrels. We will then head for Astrakhan and take care of Kabanov then head for Denikin.
Nikifor; good! We need to kill these bastards and be gone. If we stay here to long we may get picked up by the Cheka or run out of money and starve.
Bylikin: true! I find it hard to believe things are so bad in Moscow compared to when I last saw the place early last year.
Nikifor: I agree! The sooner our armies get here and drive out these scum the better.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 13, 2018, 06:42:57 PM
Monday evening near a tram stop in Moscow Natalia is waiting on one side of a street leading from it while Mikhail is on the other side. Then a man in a Black leather coat with a service cap with a red star on it gets off a tram car that just pulled up and starts walking down the sidewalk towards Natalia It's Medvedev. As he passes her she starts to follow him. She sticks her hand into a Russian army bread bag closes the distance between them. At close range she fires two shots into his back from a Browning pistol fitted with a improvised surpressor.  Medvedev staggers walks over to a lamppost to steady himself slips and falls on his back. Natalia continues to walk on when she gets to the next corner she turns and starts walking at a faster pace. meanwhile, a few people start to gather around Medvedev wondering what's wrong with him not hearing any shots. Someone notices some blood and they all flee. Natalia continues to walk at a fast pace down the sidewalk takes another turn and keeps walking she periodically makes a quick look behind her and keeps walking after walking about half a verst she stops at a street corner and waits a few minutes later Mikhail shows up and they both walk back to the refuge camp where they celebrate with by drinking a cup of tea and cooking and eating for them a fairly nice meal.
 Meanwhile after it got dark two men dragged Medvedevs body into a back ally and striped it.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on March 13, 2018, 11:03:32 PM
October 17, 1919

   Mechislav Kozlovsky, chairman of the Little Sovnarkom, was sitting in his office, reviewing some financial paperwork, when the telephone rang.  “Is this Comrade Mechislav Yulievich Kozlovsky?” asked the voice on the other end. 
   “Yes,” replied Kozlovsky, nonplussed at the use of his full name.
   “And you are the husband of Ruta?”
   “And you are the father of Yanina and Cheslav?”
   “Yes,” Kozlovsky answered, growing unnerved.
   “And you work on the ground floor of the Senate Building?” the caller continued.
   “Y-yes,” Kozlovsky stammered, the hair on the back of his neck beginning to stand on end.  Whoever this was clearly was well-acquainted with most aspects of his life.
   “I would advise you against further involvement with the Party,” said the caller, before hanging up.
   The same day, Aleksandr Pravdin, Deputy People’s Commissar for Railways, received a similar call.  Again, the caller asked for him by his full name, then confirmed the names of his wife, children, and place of work before warning him to disassociate from the Bolshevik cause.

   Kozlovsky soon resigned, citing “reasons of health,” but Pravdin, while shaken, still felt secure enough to continue his duties.  A few nights afterward, however, he was jolted out of his complacency when he was awakened at home by the sound of breaking glass.  Making his way downstairs, he discovered the noise to have been caused by a brick thrown through his window.

   A few weeks later, Aleksey Mitrofanov, editor of Sovetsky Don, received an unexpected phone call.  “Comrade Aleksey Khristoforovich Mitrofanov?” asked the caller.
   “Who is this?” asked Mitrofanov
   “Are you the husband of Alexandra?” asked the caller, ignoring Mitrofanov.
   “Yes,” replied Mitrofanov.
   “And the father of Galina and Leonid?”
   “And your office is on the northwest corner of Strastnaya Ploshchad?”
   “Yes?” answered Mitrofanov.  “What do you want from me?”
   “I want you to resign from Party activity,” said the caller, before hanging up.
   Mitrofanov naively dismissed the call as a prank by one of his comrades.  Not long aferwards, however, he was at home one evening when he heard a battering on the front door.  But when he went to open it, only darkness answered, no one was there.  This was no joke.
   The Whites were trying to make it clear that — if they wanted to — they could wipe out anyone, anywhere.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 14, 2018, 03:52:50 PM
Looks good!

Back to the story:
The Moscow morgue a body is laying on a table covered by a sheet in walks a man in a medical white coat followed by a tall woman wearing black leather coat over a sharply tailored officers uniform followed by a man in a suit wearing glasses. The man in the white coat pulls the sheet of the top half of the body.
Woman: It is comrade Medvedev
Man in suit: we found his body in an ally he had been striped naked and we did not know who he was. We have lots of murders these days.
Man in white coat turns body on side
Man in suit: He has been shot in the back twice. We have recovered the bullets and they look like 3 line bullets possibly from a Browning.
Woman: The Cheka is now in charge of this investigation. Do you have any witnesses?
Man in suit: No but we still looking for some.
Woman: All witnesses any other evidence are to be handed over to me as soon as possible.
Man in suit; Yes comrade
Woman: Now we at the cheka need to figure out how many hostages we need to shoot in reprisal.

(scene fades)
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on March 15, 2018, 07:16:32 PM
These are good additions, James.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on March 16, 2018, 01:24:58 AM
December 5, 1919

   Even as Bylinkin’s teams were successfully eliminating Bolshevik targets, elsewhere things were going disastrously for the Whites.  In mid-October the Reds had broken through Kolchak’s lines, and by November his forces were in full retreat.  On November 12, Kolchak held a final meeting of Committee Ze.  The admiral had already given orders to prepare the evacuation of Omsk; he informed the committee’s members that they were being suspended, but that Operation Rod of Iron would continue.  Kolchak announced that he had already dispatched instructions to Denikin placing responsibility for the assassination campaign in his hands: specifically, Bylinkin and his teams would now be placed under the authority of the Intelligence Section of the Armed Forces of South Russia Commander-in-Chief Staff.  Miroshnichenko was instructed to make his way to Denikin’s lines and brief him on all aspects of the mission. 
   In the meantime, Bylinkin’s teams were continuing their work.  Victims nine and ten were two prominent Yekaterinburg Bolsheviks, Nikolai Partin and Vasily Levatnykh, who had participated in disposing of the Imperial Family’s remains; afterwards they had drunkenly boasted of molesting the Czarina's corpse.  Now, this morning, their actions finally caught up with them as a deafening explosion ripped through their De Dion-Bouton in Yekaterinburg’s city center.  Both were seriously injured and died from their wounds not long after the explosion.  But the Whites were still after bigger fish.
   Seventeen long months had passed since the execution of the Romanov family.  Seventeen months of kinetic White existence, on the backdrop of perpetual chaos.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on May 05, 2018, 06:22:18 PM
How is this story coming?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 05, 2018, 10:04:05 PM
I just had my last final yesterday, so I've actually resumed writing today.  The next installment will hopefully be posted within two weeks.  Sorry for the long hiatus.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on May 06, 2018, 11:50:42 AM
That's okay.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 07, 2018, 04:30:13 PM
Warning: profanity

December 20, 1919

   Since it happened at upper levels, the change in oversight of his mission barely affected him, but for the first time since they had set out from Perm in March, perhaps for the first time in his whole life, Yuryev became afraid. He could not recall ever having experienced the same feeling before.  Not in the army, not during the Great War, not while he was being trained, and not while he was working as an ordinary agent. Not even during the mission, until the middle of October.  Of course, he had always known what it was like to be tense or startled.  Or scared. But the feeling he began experiencing in October was entirely different.  It wasn’t a fleeting rush of adrenalin, a sensation of his heart beating in his throat for a few seconds, a sudden pang that would never outlast the immediate cause that gave rise to it. This new feeling was a quiet, low, nagging anxiety that would not leave him for days at a time, regardless of what he was doing.  He could be eating his chicken in a canteen and the feeling would still be there.
   Sometimes it was like a dull pain, sometimes like a solid lump. Fear.
   At first Yuryev actually thought it might be something he ate.
   When he recognized it as fear, and he soon did, he became resentful and ashamed. For a while he was mortified at the thought that the others might recognize it in him, and as far as Yuryev was concerned that would have been worse than anything. To counteract it he found himself saying, “Fellows, I’m scared,” and “Fellows, I’m worried,” at every turn.  This, of course, was braggadocio army-style, in the only form permissible, proclaiming courage by protesting the opposite too much. But he must have overdone it, because one day Zakhar said to him, very quietly, when they were alone:
   “I know. I’m pretty worried myself.”
   He spoke in a tone that caused Yuryev to stop pretending.
   “Oh shit,” he said. “You too? I wonder why.”
   But Zakhar only shook his head. They never talked about it again.
   Soon afterwards, the answer came to Yuryev in a flash.  Why it was affecting them now, after seven months, after five successful assassinations. The reason was very logical, very simple.
   Having done it, they were beginning to realize how little trouble it was to set up a hit. How easy it was for a few people, with some money and a little determination, to find and kill a man.  With impunity.  And if it was so easy for them, it would be equally easy for others.  If they could kill with such little trouble, they could be killed with just as little.  Without any doubt, someone would by now be out there, gunning for Yuryev and his partners. It made good sense for them to be afraid.
   It did not help matters that just then an incident occurred which, though totally insignificant, shook the partners’ nerves.  One Sunday morning around 1000 hours, in a safe house in Lipetsk, just as Yuryev and Zakhar were sitting over the remnants of their breakfast, there was a knock on the door—unusual, since visitors were supposed to ring the bell from the lobby—and, tiptoeing to the spy-hole, Yuryev could see two well-dressed strangers waiting in the hallway. With Zakhar covering him from the bedroom doorway, Yuryev turned the key in the lock, resting the ball of his foot against the lower part of the door.
   The strangers turned out to be postal inspectors, investigating some theft from the mail. Apparently the concierge had let them into the building, where they were going from door to door asking the tenants if any of them had any letters missing. “What a dangerous job,” said Zakhar wryly, after putting his Browning away.
   “For two nights after that, Yuryev had the greatest difficulty falling asleep.
   At the same time, Yuryev’s own character was such that all the things that might deter others—fear, opposition, difficulties, disapproval—would only serve to spur him on. Without knowing it, without ever dreaming of analyzing it in any way, he belonged to that very small minority of human beings who are fueled by adversity.  It was almost as if, because of some quirk of nature, the wiring in his brain had been reversed.  He would function as a car might if some prankster switched around the accelerator and the brake.  In a sense, being afraid would probably be the last thing to stop him.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 07, 2018, 04:31:29 PM
And in spite of the many ways in which his partners might have been different from Yuryev—or from each other—this was clearly the one trait they shared.
   In November, out of the original twenty-five, they had fourteen targets left.  They could pick up no leads on the whereabouts of Yakov Yurovsky, Number one on the list.  Pyotr Yermakov, Number two on their list, was fighting with the Red Army on the Eastern Front. 
   Skimming down the list, none of the targets seemed reachable until they came to number eleven, a dirty, greasy, forty-three-year old former journalist named Sergey Chutskayev,  involved in choosing the Romanovs’ burial site, who was presently serving as deputy People’s Commissar for Finance.  In a sense, Chutskayev was a soft target, because he did not flaunt his links to the execution.  Throughout the autumn of 1919, Chutskayev lived in Moscow, in constant fear  that he was next on the Whites’ hit list.  He was right. 
   Chutskayev changed his daily routine regularly and took safety precautions, almost never showing up at the same place at the same time twice, and he preferred to spend his nights in the various apartments of his several different girlfriends—though, as Natalia was moved to remark, this last preference may have had nothing to do with security. He was also often accompanied by a bodyguard when he appeared in public.
   Because he travelled a lot, the timing and length of his stays in Moscow were difficult to pin down.  Throughout the month of November, Yuryev and his partners had been trying, without success, to track down the elusive Bolshevik official.  Unlike any of their previous targets, he might spend the night anywhere and it was impossible to predict where he would turn up during the day.  Or at what time.  The only solution was to keep him under constant surveillance, and whenever they happened to find him alone, day or night, if the time, place, and other circumstances seemed favorable, do the assassination at a moment’s notice.
   Provided that the wary and experienced revolutionary did not notice he was being followed and give them the slip.  Tracking him took dozens of White agents.  Chutskayev, in fact, managed to evade the O squad on numerous occasions, slipping into the Muscovite crowds and disappearing. But every man has a weak point that will ultimately give him away.
   The most constant thing about the elusive, wary Chutskayev was that everywhere he went he drove his black Panhard et Levassor 10CV with Muscovite license plates, registered in his name. He also had one place, on Malyy Kislovskiy Pereulok, which he visited more frequently than the others.
   Even so, Chutskayev always performed a perfunctory inspection of his Panhard before entering.  He checked the chassis for explosive devices and hand grenades, opened the hood, looked in the trunk and at the exhaust pipe before opening the car.  The O squad took note.  As a result, Yuryev and Zakhar decided to have Feliks prepare a pressure mine to put inside Chutskayev’s car, without excluding other possibilities.  Shooting was always a standby method of assassination—it required the least in terms of preparation—but it was also the most difficult to get away from, and it carried with it none of the “cleverness” Bylinkin had talked about.  Not to mince words, it involved less terror.  Yuryev also disliked shooting because of the emotional burden for the team. Though always unspoken, it was a factor. Plainly put, planting an explosive device and walking away was easier than facing a man from an arshin away and firing a series of bullets into his body. 
   The bomb Feliks prepared was essentially the same type as the one used in the assassination of Lisitsyn, but smaller and somewhat simpler.  Instead of six little bombs it used a single explosive unit of the fragmentation type.  The bomb would be placed under the car seat.  Because they didn’t want the Cheka to suspect the Intelligence Section, the bomb was deliberately made to look as if it was homemade, filled with heavy nuts and bolts and sharp scrap iron. The bomb was fitted with a heavy metal plate at the bottom so that it would blow up, not down, when pressure was placed on it.  When it was finished, Feliks brought it to show the rest of the team.  “There,” he said, placing it down on the table.
   “Mmm,” said Yuryev, reaching out to touch it.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 07, 2018, 04:32:12 PM
Feliks slapped his hand away.  “Hey!  Hang on a moment.  Let me show you something.  Now I’ve been working on this for some time and frankly I think it’s rather … tasty.  It works on pressure.  We put it under the seat of his car.  He gets in, he sits on the seat, and, uh… and Mr. Chutskayev joins his ancestors, wherever they may be.”
   “What about the risk to bystanders?” asked Yuryev.
   “The device is large,” Feliks admitted, “but the blast will be concentrated in the center of the car, which will prevent pedestrians from being injured.  As for anyone who gets in with him, well, in this case we have no choice.”
   Chutskayev’s current favorite was a stenographer who lived in Bol’nichnyy Pereulok in the Meshchanskaya district.  Though the Panhard remained parked outside his girlfriend’s place all night on Friday, December 19, Yuryev was afraid that in the morning he would give the girl a lift and so did not want to risk planting the bomb. In fact, the girl left the apartment alone almost an hour and a half after Chutskayev who was gone from the house by 0600 hours.
   Interestingly enough, Chutskayev drove, his Panhard to within a block of where his girlfriend would later go to work, in the Tverskoy district.  It was a long drive from Bol’nichnyy Pereulok to Malyy Kislovskiy Pereulok, and it took Chutskayev nearly half an hour.  The time was approximately 0645 hours when he backed his car into one of the parking spots just outside the Musical-Drama School of the Moscow Philharmonic Society.
   Chutskayev got out.  Lazar followed him on foot.  Nikita drove the motorcycle on which they had been tailing Chutskayev’s Panhard around the corner, to where Feliks, Angelika, Mikhail and Natalia were waiting in a carriage.  Apparently Chutskayev was on his way to another girlfriend’s home about a block away.
   The A and Be squads were waiting in their carriage when Nikita pulled up next to them.  “Chutskayev’s black Panhard is parked around the corner, on the right,” he told them.  “He’s here.” 
   Within a few minutes, the carriage pulled up and double-parked in front of the Bolshevik’s car.  Mikhail and Feliks wore repairmen’s overalls.  Although there were one or two shops  on the opposite side of Malyy Kislovskiy Pereulok, pedestrian traffic was light at this hour in the morning, and in any case, the tall carriage standing in front of the car would hide it from the casual glances of passers-by. It was impossible to tell how soon Chutskayev would return, but he would be preceded by Lazar, who had been following him on foot, and this would give the A and Be squads enough time to get away.  The two women kept lookout from inside the carriage while the men worked.
   The type of bomb they were using would take almost no time to place under the driver’s seat. It was a self-contained unit, like a small parcel, with no timer to set and no wires to connect. Opening the Panhard’s door took no time at all, and Feliks was finished in under a minute.
   The explosive device was in place. It was not yet 0800 hours. Feliks and Mikhail got back into the carriage, and drove it to the corner of Malyy Kislovskiy Pereulok and Nizhniy Kislovskiy Pereulok, where Yuryev, Artemiy and Samuil had in the meantime managed to commandeer two parking places with one carriage.  Now they pulled ahead, and allowed the other carriage to ease in next to the curb behind them.
   Nearly three hours passed. It was 1045 hours.  No sign of Lazar or Chutskayev.  Then a large truck double-parked in the exact spot where the A and Be squads had stopped the carriage earlier, right in front of the booby-trapped Panhard. 
   “Oh, shit!” exclaimed Samuil.  “What do we do now?”
   There was nothing they could do about it—though Yuryev considered walking down the street and asking the truck driver under some pretext to pull fifteen arshins ahead.
   A few minutes later it did.
   But at almost the same time, a boy and a girl—university students judging by the books they were carrying—decided to have a conversation next to the Panhard.  The girl was actually leaning against the rear fender. They would move, of course, if Chutskayev“got into the car, but perhaps not far enough. A moment earlier Yuryev was hoping that the Bolshevik would show up quickly, and now he was hoping he would delay until the students had finished their conversation. “Come on, malysh,” he tried suggesting to the girl telepathically, “whatever he wants, say yes. Just move your ass.”  It worked, because the students began walking away.
   1100 hours.
   Lazar came sauntering down the street.
   Yuryev looked to Mikhail, sitting next to Feliks in their carriage, just to make sure he had seen the man.  Mikhail nodded.
   Chutskayev was performing his usual cursory checks.  Now he was opening the driver’s door.  He got in and hopped onto the seat.  His left foot was still on the ground outside when he was immediately swallowed by a ball of fire.  The explosion blew open the door of the Panhard.  It buckled the roof.  The force of the blast was so strong that many of the nuts and bolts went right through his body and peppered the roof of the car, leaving gaping exit wounds and tearing out through his shirt.
   It also made a very loud bang. Within seconds, the street was filled with people. Reportedly Chutskayev’s girlfriend, working in her nearby office, heard the explosion, although she did not know what it was.  Chutskayev was killed instantly.
   Within minutes of the explosion the militsiya and fire department arrived on the scene.  Firemen extinguished the blaze engulfing the car and collected Chutskayev’s remains—the force of the blast splattered shards of his flesh all over the vehicles parked nearby.  The victim was quickly identified.
   Parked less than forty sazhens away was another carriage.  It’s rear windows were covered with black tape.  Peering out through small slits were two very interested spectators: Bylinkin and Colonel Ryasnyansky.
   Yuryev and his partners did not leave Moscow until the first week in January.  They left, as usual, one by one.  Though the pressure in the pit of his stomach had not eased, Yuryev felt satisfied.  Even Cautious Zakhar conceded that the mission was going well. In eight months they had taken revenge on eleven Reds.  They had thirteen left on the list.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on May 07, 2018, 05:03:52 PM
Nice to see this story back again.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on May 15, 2018, 06:33:52 PM
Interesting, imaginative and mostly plausible. Some one this high up on the Bolshevik leadership would have had a driver/mechanic to drive him around and keep the car running. He would also have bodyguards and would go around armed. I think Bolshevik/Communist high ups until 1935 could go around openly armed. Keeping an early automobile running pre WW II you almost had to be a driver and a mechanic.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 16, 2018, 01:06:54 AM
Was carrying weapons in public banned after 1935
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on May 16, 2018, 03:47:49 PM
Yes I believe they were. This is from a bio of Stalin by Montefiore.

Other comments:
It looks like yuryev is having problems. not surprising based on what he has been through.

The CV on a French care is I believe for tax purposes.

From "Go Spy The land" G Hill

In Bolshevik Russia the have for each block of homes a Dvornik or Yard porter. No one stays in a house with out him being informed and getting the pass ports of lodgers to take to the local commissartiat for registration

In buildings their were the housing committees who spy on the building and issue ration cards.

I believe Paul Dukes in his books mentions the same problems.

I would say during this period 1919 the system may not have been as efficient as in later Communist times. So I don't think the Whites would have been able to operate that many agents in Moscow.

As for running people off from the car where they planted the bomb. I don't think they would do it. It's just too risky. They might have one man watch the car from a distance and walk off when the bomb went off. However he does run the risk of being spotted by some one who gives his description to the Cheka.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on May 16, 2018, 05:22:39 PM
No doubt the Communists didn't want too many armed civilians.  Might give them ideas.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 19, 2018, 05:50:19 AM
January 12, 1920

   At the banya in Gus-Khrustalny, a small industrial town, men were hitting themselves with bath brooms and making noise in the steam.  A tall, bearded man in his forties sat on a bench talking with a man of similar age.  The two did not notice when Andrei Churkin sat down on the bench in his no-frills blue felt hat and began to hit himself.  Churkin maneuvered his way closer to the two men as he did so, glancing at the bearded man’s face.  He noticed that the two were speaking in German but the other men’s noise prevented hi, from making out their words.  Churkin was the youngest member of the Intelligence Section O squad that had been rushed to Gus-Khrustalny, twenty-five milyas east of Moscow, to close in on the “bastard,” whose extensive travels had brought him to the sleepy town.
   The bearded man was thought to be Yakov Yurovsky, the lead murderer of the Imperial Family.
   After weeks and months, thousands of hours of reconnaissance, frustrating waiting and watching, Yurovsky’s trail had finally been picked up by the Intelligence Section’s assassination squad.  In a few hours they would be sending him into the next world.  The operational and intelligence achievement this assassination represented would be immense, more significant even than the Shimmering Light.
   The hunt for Yurovsky had stretched across Russia since March.  White agents rattled their contacts for several months until a tip-off came through in December 1919 that Yurovsky had traveled to Moscow for a job interview for a top administrative post.  The tip even came with an address where Yurovsky was said to be staying: a quiet hotel on Tverskaya Ulitsa.
   But just as Intelligence Section agents moved close to the hotel to begin surveillance of Yurovsky, their target slipped out of the hotel by a back entrance and disappeared.
   With White agents hot on his trail, Yurovsky, not a stupid man himself, got busy setting up his own personal security. He wanted to avoid the Intelligence Section and to make the Whites look bad at the same time.  So he arranged with volunteers to get themselves recruited by the Intelligence Section.  Their job was to feed the Whites a series of dates and locations that would map his movements. Not his real movements, of course, but the ones he wanted them to believe.
   In the winter of 1919-1920, White intelligence received information that Yurovsky was near the town of Berezniki; then they got word that he had moved to Kazan; then back to Berezniki.  Next, he went southwest to Ryazan, on the shores of the Oka River, where the trail went cold.
   Most of the agents in the Rod of Iron team responsible for the earlier killings were exhausted by the end of 1919, and Bylinkin, the senior White agent in charge of the assassination team, promptly and hastily began to assemble a new squad of agents in order to locate Yurovsky and kill him.
   At least fifteen White agents were picked out for Yurovsky’s assassination: Bylinkin as team leader, two to carry out the killing, two to provide cover, two agents specializing in logistics, a communications expert, and seven more to fill in where required.  Bylinkin travelled under a passport as Filipp Andreevich Chmykhov.  His deputy Yaroslav Mikhailov posed as Anton Vedeneyev, a schoolteacher from Nizhny Novgorod.
   Bylinkin also brought in Ruslana Havrysh, a beautiful Ukrainian woman recruited by the intelligence section while working as a laundress for the Volunteer Army.  She had already crisscrossed Russia on missions for the Whites, carrying a fake passport and pretending to be a Latvian writer called Kaiva Strautmane.  Other agents involved included “Pavel Shulgin,” “Angelina Lyalyushkina,” “Stanislav Anosov,” “Danila Putilov,” and a stunning auburn-haired female agent known as “Rakhila.”
   Andrei Churkin, a twenty-five-year-old blond, was also recruited.  Churkin grew up in Vladimir Guberniya.  He was supposed to help the team of assassins pick their way around the region and smooth over any problems the Whites had in adapting.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 19, 2018, 05:53:14 AM
In his first major Intelligence Section assignment, a thirty-six-year-old Estonian called Heigo Viiding was recruited to help, and Bylinkin also recruited Prokhor Naumov, twenty-seven, as the communications specialist.
   Of the two killers, one was tall, blond, and travelled on a false passport identifying him as Yefim Karaulov from Astrakhan.
   On December 30, 1919, the Intelligence Section also approached Vahagn Ispiryan, a thirty-six-year-old Armenian working as a quartermaster for the Volunteer Army.
   The Armenian arrived in Vologda with two other Intelligence Section agents on January 4 and rented a large apartment for six months, which was to be used as a safe house for the operation.  He also had fifteen keys cut for the apartment and arranged delivery of six sets of sheets and bedcovers.
   At this point the Whites were no closer to locating their target.  It was not until January 5 that Bylinkin and his unit received a tip that Yurovsky was living in Vladimir Guberniya.  He was about to receive a visit from a mysterious young Latvian living in Moscow, who had taken a train towards the east on short notice.  The Intelligence Section suspected the man, Gatis Dreimanis, of serving as an emissary for VTsIK, the Soviet Central Executive Committee.  Dreimanis, twenty-eight, a dark, handsome Latvian, had left Moscow for a meeting with the administrative job candidate, Yakov Yurovsky.  A new government department was being created to replace the People’s Commissariat for State Control.  According to Intelligence Section estimates, Yurovsky was being considered for a top role in the new department, and VTsIK was sending Dreimanis to meet with him to inform him of his appointment and deliver some official papers.  The Intelligence Section immediately began hunting for Dreimanis in the hope he would lead them to their target, eventually tracing him to Vladimir.  Then he disappeared.
   With what they thought was the initial link to Yurovsky uncovered, the rest of the White team made preparations to leave for Vladimir Guberniya.  Their mission was to locate the two men who were set to rendezvous— Dreimanis and Yurovsky.  The team arrived in Vladimir by various routes, and under a variety of cover names and identities.  On January 9, after an exhaustive four-day hunt, the trackers learned that Dreimanis had already left Vladimir for the small town of Gus-Khrustalny, which nestles along the shore of the Gus River, eight milyas to the south.  It was a strange destination for a man the Whites suspected of delivering important information and documents to a senior Bolshevik.  There could be only one conclusion: Dreimanis was in Gus-Khrustalny to meet Yakov Yurovsky. 
   The ten members of the O squad, led by Yaroslav Mikhailov, hired sleighs and followed him as he drove down to Gus-Khrustalny.  Despite the unforeseen location, the Intelligence Section’s estimate remained the same: Dreimanis and Yurovsky would still meet, most likely in Gus-Khrustalny.  They found Dreimanis staying at the small Meshchyora Hotel.  Posing as traveling peddlers, two of the White agents even managed to sit next to Dreimanis in the lobby as he idly read a newspaper.
   White intelligence gathering was incessant and earnest, but the intelligence itself was often of medium to poor quality and incomplete.  Low-level sources supplied secondhand information.  The Perekrestok division, charged with running agents, was still struggling to gain adequate intelligence.  Numerous case officers, scattered throughout Russia, invested endless hours recruiting quality sources. Despite their hard work and complete motivation, Perekrestok was not getting enough reliable information from its agents.  It received virtually no solid intelligence about planned Red Army moves and far too little information of the sort that could help in the planning of assassination operations.
   For twenty-four hours, the Intelligence Section team could find no trace of Yurovsky in Gus-Khrustalny.  Surveillance crews in four sleighs circled the city, searching the streets, canteens, and hotel lobbies, to no avail.  On Sunday afternoon, January 11, Dreimanis, who was being trailed at all times, sat in the tiny Restaurant Roman, near the hospital.  Two Jewish-looking men approached him and sat down at his table. The three talked intently for about an hour. To a member of the O squad, one of the men looked like Yakov Yurovsky.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 20, 2018, 10:53:23 PM
Bylinkin and Yaroslav Mikhailov were jubilant. “We got him!”  Churkin strolled inside to get a closer look, have some tea, and compare the man in the restaurant with an out-of-focus photo of “the dark man” he was carrying in his pocket.  He was not convinced that the Jew was Yurovsky, but one of his senior colleagues was certain.  The fact that the suspect left the restaurant a short while later and rode off on a bicycle did not apparently shake the agent’s belief that the man was their target.  The surveillance crews zeroed in.
   Dreimanis, his work apparently done, left Gus-Khrustalny on the 1519 hours train and returned to Vladimir, and the Whites switched their attention to the Jew with the bicycle.  By the next day, Bylinkin and Mikhailov were increasingly certain of the Chekist’s identity.  As they set about sculpting an operational plan for his assassination, the man went for a sweat in the local banya.  Churkin was sent inside while the surveillance crews waited outside.
   Yakov Yurovsky was a central target for intelligence collection; any agent working for the Intelligence Section was asked and pressured for information about the elusive Chekist.  But despite his high profile, operative intelligence regarding Yurovsky was scant, incomplete, secondhand, and in many cases arrived only after the fact: “Yurovsky was here…” or “Yurovsky visited there…” were phrases Intelligence Section case officers heard all too often. The decision to crown the man in the restaurant as Yakov Yurovsky was made on the basis of very slim intelligence. The available information was certainly insufficient to authorize an assassination. But all this can only be said in retrospect. At the time, the field operatives were certain that Yakov Yurovsky had met with Gatis Dreimanis at the Restaurant Roman.  They had tracked the mysterious Dreimanis from Moscow to the remote town of Gus-Khrustalny.  The same man who met with Dreimanis spoke German at his next meeting in the banya—a language the Intelligence Section believed Yurovsky spoke well.  This was the deciding factor for the Whites.  They knew the dark man was multilingual: the man had to be Yurovsky.  And when the man in Gus-Khrustalny was matched up with another picture of Yurovsky, the final piece of the puzzle snapped into place: the images bore a remarkable resemblance.
   Half of the team immediately converged on the banya, and when the Jew left after his sweat the O squad followed him as he entered a store.  At noon, he exited the shop accompanied by a young Russian-looking woman. She had light blond hair and was clearly pregnant.  The two got on a tram, a surveillance sleigh following.  The couple got off at the tram stop in a residential neighborhood in the western part of town, and stepped into one of the new apartment buildings at Ryazanskaya Ulitsa, 10.  The commander of the mission, Yaroslav Mikhailov, instructed his team to station four sleighs and five surveillance posts around the building, to cover all exit and entry points.  Mikhailov did not intend to let the prey escape this time.  The O squad was told to stay alert and to blend in with their surroundings.
   Some members of the White team apparently found it hard to believe that the Jew who left the Restaurant Roman on a bicycle was their target and continued surveillance of Dreimanis.  However, he booked himself into the Hotel Vladimir in Vladimir, talked to the staff about how he was soon leaving for Moscow, and left for the capital the next day.  Once Dreimanis had left the guberniya, Bylinkin and his team became convinced the bicycling Jew was their target. The entire team converged on Gus-Khrustalny.
   Meanwhile, the A squad— “Yefim Karaulov,” “Kondraty Kazantsev,” and “Valeriy Arzamastsev” — arrived separately at the Barinov Grove hotel outside of town.  The assassins waited for a message from Bylinkin.  An hour later Colonel Ryasnyansky, the head of the Intelligence Section, also arrived in the region on a fake passport, undercover, to monitor the operation; he checked into the Flyad Hotel south of Gus-Khrustalny with a bodyguard.  Mother Russia would soon have its revenge on the man who murdered the czar.
   Working in shifts, the White agents had kept up twenty-four hour surveillance of Yurovsky at his home in Gus-Khrustalny.  In the evening hours of January 12, 1920, they watched as he and his pregnant partner left the apartment for the local cinema.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 21, 2018, 03:33:50 AM
The couple did not act tense or anxious. They did not try to shake the surveillance. They went straight to the box office in Gus-Khrustalny’s only cinema and bought a pair of tickets for The Picture of Dorian Grey, a drama adapted from Oscar Wilde’s novel of the same title, written and directed by Vsevolod Meyerhold.  An excited and keyed-up member of the O squad sent a message to the rest of the crew, who were in the middle of dinner, to tell them to get ready. The squad spread out to their designated spots, coiled and waiting.
   No one on the O squad questioned certain incongruities. Why was Yakov Yurovsky, the hardened Chekist, who was known to be living in Yekaterinburg, riding a bicycle in remote Gus-Khrustalny—population: seventeen thousand?  Why was he so familiar with the streets? Why did he take a pregnant blond woman to the cinema?  Yurovsky was married and had three children.  It required a giant leap to assume that Yurovsky was leading a double life with a pregnant woman.  No one was sent to check his apartment, to look for documents or other intelligence material.  Bylinkin and his agents believed that they had found their man, even if it required a pernicious suspension of logic and several cut corners.

   At 2235 hours Yurovsky and his female friend left the cinema and walked in silence to the tram stop, trailed by White agents.  Bylinkin sent the two assassins to Krasnoarmeyskaya Ulitsa, where they waited in darkness next to a house.  The tram arrived at the stop and the couple boarded without hesitation. The O squad followed.  The couple got off the tram at their stop at Krasnoarmeyskaya, calm and relaxed.  They held hands, talking quietly to each other as they slowly strolled along Krasnoarmeyskaya Ulitsa.
   They were within sight of Ryazanskaya Ulitsa 10, walking slowly up the hill to their house, when a white sleigh coming in the opposite direction jerked to a halt a sazhen away.  With Kondraty Kazantsev and Valeriy Arzamastsev covering them from the driver’s seat, Yefim Karaulov and the female agent Rakhila leapt out, withdrew their silenced 7.65 mm Brownings in one fluid movement, and immediately began shooting.
   They fired continuously, pumping thirteen lead shots into Yurovsky’s body.  He fell to the ground clutching his bloodied stomach, and Rakhila shot him as he lay dying on the ground.  The screams of Yurovsky’s friend echoed down the road as the Whites jumped back into their sleigh and sped off down the hill.
   The bullets had torn through the man’s vital organs. The woman knelt down next to him, screaming wildly. A neighbor, a young nurse named Aleksandra Krylova, looked out of her window and went to summon the militsiya.  Within three minutes, the militsiya arrived.  Ten minutes later, an ambulance arrived; attempts at resuscitation failed. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the local hospital, the man was pronounced dead.

   According to the original plan, Bylinkin and the two assassins were to leave Gus-Khrustalny separately, then travel north to Vladimir as fast as possible; by the early morning hours they would be scattered throughout western Russia.  The members of the O squad also headed for Vladimir.  There, they were supposed to abandon the sleighs, turn over the keys to the rented apartments they had used during the operation, and sweep, making sure that no “tails” or footprints had been left behind. They were to wait a few days and then get out of Vladimir.
   In Tuesday’s newspapers, headlines announced the murder of a Jew by the name of Mikhail Abelev, killed in Gus-Khrustalny on Monday night.   

   A journalist and photographer had rushed to the scene right after the murder. Interviews with eyewitnesses and neighbors revealed the presence of strangers in sleighs driving around the neighborhood, pausing in front of the apartment building earlier that day.  The reporter knew he had a major story: this was the first murder in Gus-Khrustalny in forty years.  He had no idea what he really had.
   The reporter knew Abelev from around town. In a two-page article he described the man as a forty-one-year-old Jew who had lived in Gus-Khrustalny for the past two years.  His wife, Agrafevna Artemievna Abeleva, was a Russian.  She was in her seventh month of pregnancy.  Abelev, the articled noted, had moved from Minsk in to avoid living under German occupation.  He was a doctor, and supplemented his salary with a part-time job at the local banya.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on May 22, 2018, 05:53:44 PM
Ah, they got Yurovsky!
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 23, 2018, 01:06:26 AM
Vladimir papers raised the possibility of a connection between the arraignment of four people—Kaiva Strautmane, Anton Vedeneyev, Andrei Churkin, and Vahagn Ispiryan—and the shooting in Gus-Khrustalny.  The initial reports were unclear, unable to explain how the four detainees were connected to the murdered man. Some raised the possibility that it was a feud over stolen goods.  But the victim, said his neighbors, was certainly not involved in any form of criminality.  He was well known locally and led an exemplary life.
   Gus-Khrustalny was then a small industrial town.  The arrival of more than a dozen strangers had not gone unnoticed, and Abelev’s neighbors proved extremely helpful to the militsiya in the first few hours of their investigations. Several strangers had been spotted outside Abelev’s house in the days prior to the killing. Other locals said they had seen a mysterious group of strangers roaming the town.  One of the neighbors even caught a glimpse of the white sleigh used by the killers as it raced from the scene.
   It was a crucial breakthrough. As the Intelligence Section agents were fleeing Gus-Khrustalny and returning to Vladimir on their way out of Soviet territory, the militsiya had their first lead.  Bylinkin left Vladimir Guberniya on horseback and eventually returned to White lines, but on Tuesday morning, Vahagn Ispiryan was taken into custody.  He was using his real passport while fulfilling an auxiliary role in the Intelligence Section mission.  Andrei Churkin was arrested along with Ispiryan.  The two were stopped at the Vladimir train station abandoning the team’s sleighs.  They had no cover story prepared and failed to explain why they were driving sleighs the militsiya was looking for (the two sleighs had been spotted at a roadblock speeding out of Gus-Khrustalny—and struck an officer as suspicious). Neither of the two was an Intelligence Section combatant.   The militsiya, still unaware the killing had been conducted by the Whites, pressed ahead with their investigation.  Churkin — on his first operation for the Intelligence Section — was flustered and scared, and talked as soon as he was taken in for questioning.   He soon revealed details of their safe house, where two senior members of the O squad — “Vedeneyev” and “Strautmane”— were arrested.
   Mikhailov was a tough and stubborn man who did not cooperate with the investigators and stuck to his hole-ridden cover story, that he was Vedeneyev, aged twenty-nine, a teacher and librarian from Nizhny Novgorod, vacationing in Vladimir Guberniya.
   “Your name can’t be Anton Vedeneyev,” the militsiya investigator charged. “This man doesn’t exist. We checked thoroughly.”
   “So I don’t have a name,” Mikhailov answered angrily.
   Havrysh claimed to be a freelance writer on vacation who happened to meet Anton Vedeneyev, an old acquaintance, by chance at the Ryazan train station.  On the spot the two decided to travel to Vladimir Guberniya for a vacation.  There they met Ispiryan and Churkin and decided to share an apartment with them.
   The investigators were not convinced. There were serious contradictions in the four versions of events the detainees recounted. They could not corroborate the details of the time they lived together.
   When the Vladimir militsiya searched Vahagn Ispiryan’s belongings they found documents that led to the arrest of two additional Whites, Heigo Viiding and Prokhor Naumov.  In Viiding’s coat pocket, the militsiya found a train ticket from Vladimir to Nizhny Novgorod, set to leave at 2210 hours that night. As they searched through Viiding’s and Naumov’s suitcases and personal items, more incriminating evidence was discovered.  With Viiding and Naumov arrested, the number of detained Whites rose to six. 
   Even when in custody the White agents proved embarrassingly willing to disclose details of their operation.  The shaky Ispiryan, who suffered from extreme claustrophobia, proved most useful.  As soon as his cell door slammed shut he was reduced to a nervous wreck and began revealing details of the attack in return for the (unkept) promise of a larger cell with a small window.  Once it was clear that the suspects were White agents, the investigation was taken over by the Vladimir Cheka.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on May 24, 2018, 02:07:11 AM
The Intelligence Section’s humiliation deepened when the Cheka found a key on one of the suspects for a safe house in Moscow.  It was handed to the Moscow Cheka, who raided the flat and discovered keys to other safe houses in the capital.  They also found evidence that several of those involved in the Gus-Khrustalny killing had been involved in other Rod of Iron assassinations. 
   Blindly determined, the Intelligence Section had arrived in drowsy Gus-Khrustalny and assassinated a man whom they mistakenly took for a regicide.  The Cheka investigation and the detainees’ confessions revealed the incompetent, unprofessional behavior of many team members.  Adrian Bylinkin and the two assassins managed to escape by the skin of their teeth. Only by chance did they avoid being caught.
   When news of the arrests reached the Whites there was panic among senior government and intelligence officials.  “Losing” agents was what Admiral Kolchak had expressly warned against when Operation Rod of Iron was conceived.  White agents were in Red cells, and Intelligence Section operations across much of Russia were threatened. Panic turned to fury when Red newspapers revealed the true identity of their victim.
   The Government of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of South Russia was unsure how to handle the arrest of the six Intelligence Section operatives.  There were long conversations about the right way to respond. The basic question: should the White movement take responsibility for the assassination or try to distance itself?
   In Anton Denikin’s office in Novorossiysk, Colonel Ryasnyansky and Adrian Bylinkin
turned in their resignations in the presence of his chief of staff, Lieutenant General Aleksandr Lukomsky.  He refused to accept them.  “There are people in jail,” he said.  “You can’t get up and leave; there is work to be done.”
   On Sunday, four days after the episode was exposed, Denikin sent Lukomsky to Intelligence Section headquarters, to check on Bylinkin’s emotional and mental state.  Bylinkin did not blame himself for the mistake or the detention of six agents under his command. When asked about the embarrassing affair, he said, “I take responsibility upon myself, but not the guilt.” At other times, he said, “When the sharpest combatants succeeded, it was my success; when they failed, it was my failure.”
   The Cheka’s interrogation of the captured agents revealed the inexperience of some of the White agents assigned to kill the “dark man” and exact revenge for the Romanovs killed in Yekaterinburg.
   Many of the more senior agents responsible for the initial, successful assassinations during the Rod of Iron operation were exhausted after working continuously for months crisscrossing Russia, and their controllers gave them a rest. Thus, for the operation against the Intelligence Section’s most important target, the group leader Bylinkin was forced to rely on several amateur agents, who had little more than cursory experience of intelligence work.
   Just as the arrest of the agents represented the realization of the Whites’ worst nightmare, for the Reds it represented a dream come true.  After months of searching, now they had their hands on the people responsible for murdering their comrades. 
   Mikhailov, as the most senior agent in custody, knew he would do the most damage if he cracked under interrogation.  His stubborn nature enabled him to survive his first torture session with the Cheka without admitting anything, but he knew he was approaching his limit of how much he could endure without breaking.  The Cheka was going to torture him again, and this time it would be far worse.  When they came to fetch him from his cell for further torture, they found he had hanged himself with a rope made of strips torn from his shirt.
   The remaining detainees, unfortunately, lacked Mikhailov’s courage and determination, and the Cheka did not require much torture to make them sing like canaries.  Once they had been squeezed for all they were worth, all five received the inevitable bullet in the back of the skull.
   The bitter mistake that cost the doctor, Mikhail Abelev, his life, weighed like a millstone on the shoulders of the White movement.  The Whites’ image had been tarnished at home and abroad.  With outrage at the killing of innocent Abelev mounting with every new revelation about the Intelligence Section’s involvement, Anton Denikin bowed to the pressure and told the Intelligence Section to immediately suspend all operations connected with Operation Rod of Iron.  He also announced that an inquiry would be conducted into the Gus-Khrustalny debacle.  Bylinkin, however, was eventually allowed to conduct the inquiry himself.  The internal investigative committee prodded, poked, and probed.  The final report they handed in to Colonel Ryasnyansky detailed all aspects of the disastrous mission and the operational lessons to be learned from it, while at the same time absolving all those involved of blame, at which point several junior Intelligence Section officers resigned in disgust, and others wrote strongly worded protest letters to the Commander-in-Chief and the head of the Intelligence Section.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on May 26, 2018, 12:03:12 AM
This story is looking pretty good.

I love these alternate reality stories.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 01, 2018, 04:19:09 AM
May 3, 1921

   When Yuryev and his team had received a message ordering them to terminate the mission in the aftermath of the Gus-Khrustalny affair, he had greeted the news with a mixture of shock and relief.  The news of the affair was shocking for three different reasons.  First, by killing the wrong man and being captured, their colleagues in Gus-Khrustalny  had committed at one stroke two of the worst sins agents could possibly commit. Both were disastrous mistakes by any standards, but Yuryev and his team were imbued with an additional sense of taboo about them. These were the two errors they were trained above everything else never to make.
   The second reason for their shock was that what happened in Gus-Khrustalny brought home to them for the first time how easy it was to bungle something really badly. Reading the papers, they felt like rookie racing-car drivers witnessing their first crash.
   Then, there was the third reason.
   Other teams. On the face of it, there was no reason why there shouldn’t be other teams.  They didn’t have a monopoly on the Bolsheviks.  No one had promised them an exclusive hunting license. Bylinkin certainly hadn’t: he had simply told Zakhar that he couldn’t answer that question when Zakhar had asked him. This was war; not a safari, with special privileges for Colonel Ryasnyansky’s guests to bag their own quota of monsters. If Yuryev had stayed in the army, he’d be fighting the enemy shoulder-to-shoulder with other units, and he wouldn’t dream of objecting if the neighboring unit started firing on the same target; on the contrary, he’d be grateful.
   Yet there was something about their operation, something so special, that they were profoundly disturbed by the thought of other teams doing the same thing. Who could tell why? They couldn’t quite put it into words. They were probably wrong about it anyway.
   Perhaps they gave every team the same list! Was it possible—Yuryev actually felt a sharp pang when this thought flashed across his mind—that back in Novorossiysk they didn’t even know which team got rid of which regicide?  “I’ll read about it in the paper,” Bylinkin had said. Was it possible that, even now, some other team was being credited with their work in Moscow, in Astrakhan, in Tambov?
   On the other hand, the order to terminate immediately and come home brought a feeling of relief to the team, all of whom were exhausted and homesick after ten months behind Red lines.  Indeed, Yuryev’s first words upon picking up the note from the dead-drop site were, “Thank you, Lord.”  He had then rushed back to the safehouse, and when Mikhail asked “So?” he had shown them all the message, saying “It’s over,” whereupon Mikhail had embraced him.
   “Home,” said Mikhail.
   “Yes,” agreed Yuryev.
   The team members decided to make their way back to the Far East in an attempt to track down their families.
   Yuryev was eventually able to trace Marfa to Chita, under the control of Ataman Semyonov’s Government of the Russia Eastern Outskirts.  By the end of the summer he had been reunited with her and rejoined his unit, and was finally able to meet Yekaterina, the baby daughter born in his absence.
   After the Gongota Agreement in July, which left Semyonov’s forces badly exposed, Yuryev and his family, along with most of Semyonov’s army, removed to China, where they settled in Harbin.
   A year after the mission had been terminated, however, Yuryev began to feel restless.  His mind kept going back to the mission, and the fact that thirteen of the men he had been assigned to kill remained at large.  He was seized with a desire to at least have a chance to hit the remaining men on the list.  When he had been a company commander, Yuryev was a firm believer in the practice of never breaking off an attack or abandoning a pursuit if he could see that the enemy’s ranks were breaking.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 02, 2018, 02:24:14 AM
Yuryev decided to summon the rest of the team and discuss it with them.  As it was, only four answered his summons: Feliks, Zakhar, Nikita, and Lazar.  The others either did not respond or couldn’t be found.
   “Thank you for coming,” said Yuryev, as he poured tea for the group gathered in his sitting room.  It was late March, almost a year to the day after he had first met these men.  “I know our mission is supposed to be over, but something has been bothering me.”  And he shared his thoughts with them.
   “Nikifor, this is madness!” said Zakhar.  “The war is over, those Bolshevik scoundrels have won, and if you think otherwise you’re deluding yourself.  With no war to distract them, they’ll be onto us in no time if we resume the mission.”
   “I agree with Zakhar,” said Feliks.  “Besides, it would be disobeying orders.  We were ordered to stop and we must stop.”
   “But this isn’t disobeying for mere vanity, insubordination or fanaticism,” protested Yuryev.  “It’s about finishing what we started, and doing justice for the House of Romanov.”
   “I agree with your sentiments,” said Nikita, “but I must concede that both Zakhar and Feliks make good points.  We’d get caught before we finished the remaining thirteen, and it would be insubordination.”
   “But what if we don’t get all thirteen?” asked Lazar.  “What if we just get one?  Yurovsky and Yermakov were the top two on our list.  What if we sneak back into Russia, eliminate whichever of them we can find first, and get out of there?”
   “All right,” said Yuryev.  “I’m amenable to that.  Those two are the leading ones who literally have the tsar's blood on their hands.  If we get either of them, I will consider the mission accomplished."
   In the end, Lazar and Nikita agreed to go with Yuryev, while Feliks and Zakhar refused.  Yuryev immediately began making preparations.  Yuryev secured funding for the venture from Prokhor Budylin, a wealthy Russian merchant who had lived in Harbin since before the Revolution and supported Grand Duke Kirill’s claim to the throne.  Next, Yuryev, Lazar and Nikita secured a two-month leave of absence from their units, under the pretext of purchasing land in Jiangsu Province, where they hoped to go into partnership to develop salt deposits.  And on a wind-blown day in early April they set out.
   After sneaking across the border, they disguised themselves as peddlers; in that difficult period, with the civil troubles and problems of movement around the country, there was a multitude of “sackmen” as they were scornfully known: second-hand dealers, peddlers and other traffickers, so the agents would have a cover that would enable them to travel about Russia, and perhaps make a small profit to boot.
   During the month of April they began tracking down leads from those old local informers they were able to find.  The rumors were constant about impending meetings involving Yurovsky, Yermakov, or both. On two occasions—once in Moscow and once in Samara—Yuryev and Lazar, with Nikita acting as a backup, had started surveilling apartment buildings to which the regicides were supposed to come. On both occasions they had rifles in the bed of their wagon, ready to do a frontal attack on sighting any of their targets. On both occasions they did see men in black armbands entering and leaving the buildings, but they made no move.  Nor would they do so without actually seeing Yurovsky, Yermakov, or Nikulin, without making a positive identification.
   Which they were unable to do in either Moscow or Samara.
   Then, early in May, Yuryev was able to make contact with a man he knew only as Fyodor.  Fyodor had been a member of the National Center, and before the Cheka had broken up that organization, Fyodor had been one of the team’s best sources.  After the Cheka had dismantled the National Center, Fyodor had gone to ground, but Yuryev had stumbled into him by chance in Moscow. 
Fyodor still had a handful of good connections of his own left, and he soon had news for Yuryev: “Yakov Yurovsky is in Vesyegonsk, on the Mologa River.  He’s in a compound guarded by all the predictable trouble.  It’s dangerous, going after Yurovsky.  But he shot the tsar.”
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 03, 2018, 10:38:54 PM
The three partners took a train to Tver, arriving on April 30.  They examined the weapons that Feodor’s contact there had got for them: three 7.65mm Brownings, and three Fedorov Avtomat automatic rifles, then drove north to the river in a used wagon.  As a precaution, they did not take their guns along with them but had Fyodor’s contact bring them to Vesyegonsk in a small cart.
   Just outside the town, Yuryev and his partners checked into a hotel and waited for Fyodor’s man to arrive.  They needed him not only for the guns, but also to point out the particular dacha where the Chekists meeting was supposed to take place. It was, apparently, a large, rather isolated house on the top of some low cliffs lining the river.  It had belonged to a wealthy industrialist before being seized during the Revolution, and had eventually been taken over by the Cheka.
   Yuryev’s plan was to penetrate the grounds in a silent operation.  The house would probably be guarded, but perhaps not too well. At any rate, a scouting party could find this out and whether any of the top regicides were in the house or not. The team would attack only if they could confirm through direct observation that they were.  The team had resolved not to proceed unless there was a reasonable chance of success.
   Fyodor’s man arrived in Vesyegonsk on May 2.  He delivered the weapons, then drove with the team to the foot of a gravel road, about a verst and a half long, winding its way up the cliffs from the road.  There were only three houses on it, surrounded by sizable grounds.  Fyodor’s man explained that the very last house, where the road ended in front of a large iron grille gate, was the one in question. They couldn’t miss it.
   Yuryev, Lazar and Nikita drove halfway up the road around 2200 hours the following night. The night of May 3 was damp and windy. The wind blew from the direction of the Mologa River, the northeast.  The sound of footfalls would not be easily heard on such a night. The cresting moon was completely covered by clouds. The trees and bushes grew in thick, dark, gnarled shapes on both sides of the road. It was ideal terrain, and an ideal night for a reconnoitering party.”
   Nikita stopped the wagon before reaching a bend in the road, about a third of a verst from the main gate. He made a three-point turn, leaving the vehicle parked facing the direction from which it had come, on the shoulder of the road, almost in a shallow ditch, where it was half hidden by the bend as well as by some roadside bushes.  Lazar stayed behind to hold the horses, armed with one of the Fedorov Avtomats.
   Yuryev and Nikita had left their automatic rifles in the bed of the wagon.  Their immediate purpose was to reconnoiter, not to attack. Should they see Yermakov or Yurovsky—and should they decide that it was feasible for the three of them to make an assault—there would be time enough to come back for the Fedorov Avtomats.  Now, armed only with their small Brownings, “they planned to penetrate the grounds of the house by skirting the main entrance and, making their way through the bushes, approach the building from behind. The dacha backed onto the river, so that following the line of the cliffs should take them to the back garden.
   The bushes, though thick, were not impenetrable. Wearing dark pants and black sweaters, faces grimed for camouflage, crawling cautiously through the trimmed grass, in the shadow of the garden wall, and stopping every now and then to look and listen, Yuryev and Nikita took about twenty minutes to cover the distance. The house and its immediate surroundings were easy to see, as there was light coming from nearly every window. They could see no guards patrolling the garden. 
   Coming up to the corner of the house, Yuryev and Nikita could hear voices talking and the Gypsy song “Bright is the night” playing on the gramophone.  The voices were not coming from inside the house but rather from a stone patio just outside the French windows leading to a pond, which was empty except for dead leaves and a few fingers of brackish water collecting at the deep end.  Flattening themselves against the wall just around the corner of the house, Yuryev and Nikita couldn’t see the speakers. However, they could make out some of the words.
   “Why not tell him we need more money?” one man said. “Are you afraid to say it?”
   “We need a handful of fruit, that’s all,” replied another voice.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 04, 2018, 02:35:38 AM
The next sound that came to their ears was the click of a glass door closing. They could not hear the voices any longer. Very cautiously, Yuryev peered around the corner.
   Yes. The stone patio was empty.
   Without looking to see if Nikita was following him, he tiptoed in the direction of the French windows. He was confident that no one could see him standing on the dark patio from inside. On the other hand, he could easily see every person in the brightly lit room.  The panels of glass in the exterior doors of the room were clear, smoke and amber, thick, wavy, bevelled.  The room within was panelled with mirrors set at odd angles, and mirrored doors that swung open and closed, catching and losing reflections.  A row of big crystal chandeliers down the length of the room added myriad prismatic lights to the confusion.  There were seven or eight men standing and talking next to a long table laden with fruit. Two of the men were wearing black leather jackets.  They were rendered cubist fragments by the distortions of the glass, the light and the mirrors. 
   “Chekists,” Yuryev heard Nikita’s voice whisper beside him. He nodded. Though he could see no weapons, they were probably Chekists.  But black leather jackets were not worn solely by the secret police.  These Bolsheviks, at least in theory, could have had nothing to do with the execution of the Romanov family.  The only way to be certain that they were regicides was to recognize one of them. Yurovsky or Yermakov.  Or Nikulin.  Or Fyodor Lukoyanov or Aleksandr Beloborodov.  Or any of the others.
   But Yuryev and Nikita recognized no one in the room.
   Of course, there were many other rooms in the dacha.  There could easily have been as many as a dozen other people in it. Also, according to Fyodor’s man, the Bolsheviks would not arrive all at once. Perhaps more were due within the next few days. Perhaps the meeting, if there was to be one, had not yet even begun, and the Bolsheviks in the room were only some foot soldiers in the vanguard.”
   “Too many men,” said Nikita.  “We’re going to get killed.”
   Yuryev and Nikita were still standing on the patio, looking through the French windows, when they heard the unmistakable sound of bushes swaying and crackling behind them. Someone was making his way through the undergrowth. Someone unsuspecting, judging by the noise he was making, was coming along the gravel path behind them. 
   They turned. With the lights behind them, they knew they would appear as silhouettes to anyone approaching from the garden. He would not make out their faces immediately. But he would soon realize that they did not belong there. Two White agents, surrounded by hostile Bolsheviks in a remote garden.  They could take no chances. Even as they turned,  their knees were bending in a crouch.  Their right hands were coming up with their Brownings, their left hands describing an arc in the air as they pulled back the slides.
   A man was standing with his back to them, taking a leak.  He had a Mosin-Nagant slung across his back.  He finished and buttoned up his fly.  Nikita’s elbow snapped something dry in the grass.     
They looked at the person who had wheeled around and stepped out from the bushes. A teenage boy, fourteen or fifteen years old, wearing his black leather jacket.  The boy saw Yuryev and Nikita.  Standing maybe a sazhen away from them, “looking uncomprehendingly at the guns in their hands. Even if he had noticed them from the bushes long before they had heard him, he was clearly not expecting them to be hostile. He had probably taken them for two of his comrades.
   He started to fumble for his Mosin-Nagant.  Nikita was already on his feet, taking aim, Yuryev close behind him.
   The boy began raising his rifle.
   Yuryev and Nikita fired together. Twice, and twice again.  The spring wind swallowed up the pop-hiss of their guns.  Pffm-pffm, pffm-pffm. Pffm-pffm, pffm-pffm.  The boy was trying to balance himself as they were stepping closer.  Then he doubled over and fell to the ground sideways, squirming, trying to breathe. He did not drop his Mosin-Nagant as he fell. He was holding it in his left arm, looking up at Yuryev and Nikita, cradling it closer to his body.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 04, 2018, 02:36:32 AM
Inside the house no one seemed to hear or notice anything. People were still standing next to the long table, eating, talking, gesticulating.  Yuryev could even hear the sound of laughter. Without putting his gun away he turned and started walking out of the garden. Not in the direction from which they had come, but the short way, toward the main gate.  Nikita started to run back towards the river bank, but Yuryev caught his arm, spun him around and dragged him in the opposite direction.  Yuryev walked in this direction, and Nikita followed.  They were walking quickly, turning around once in a while. No one was following them.
   As they approached the main gate, Yuryev tripped, stumbled, cutting his face.  He sat there, stunned.  Nikita hauled him to his feet and they resumed their walk to the gate.  Yuryev fired at the center of the locked gate.  “Go!” said Yuryev.  Both men ran at the two halves and crashed into them.  The gates burst open, and Yuryev and Nikita ran pell-mell down the drive.  Downhill, with the damp spring wind behind them.  Running faster and faster.  Their speed accelerated
   Running.  Yuryev would always remember that. They ended their great, historic mission running down a winding gravel road in Rybinsk Guberniya, like a couple of schoolboys who had done something irrevocable and were now trying to escape their punishment.
   They ran breathlessly towards the spot where Lazar was waiting beside the wagon.  Nikita drove maniacally until Yuryev yelled at him to pull over. They were not being chased. There was no point in calling attention to themselves by turning the highway into a racecourse.  Lazar had put his automatic rifle back inside the wagon bed; however, they did not relinquish their pistols until they were safely back at their hotel.
   Sitting in Yuryev’s room they tried to collect themselves and assess the situation.  The only person who could give any kind of description of them, the boy with the rifle, was probably dead.  There was nothing to connect Yuryev and his partners with the attack.  They were peddlers, like thousands of others, with impeccable passports.  Apart from the guns, the only thing that could possibly connect them to the shooting would be the impression of their wheel ruts on the gravel road.
   Yuryev contacted Fyodor’s man to come for them with another vehicle in the morning, collecting the guns at the same time. They would be, he thought, safe enough at the hotel for the night. The next day they could drive back to Tver in a new wagon with no weapons and without having to worry about searches and roadblocks.
   Which was what they did. It was a long drive and they sat in the wagon without saying much, Yuryev occasionally relieving Nikita with the reins.  Yuryev knew they were all thinking about the same thing even when they were talking about something else. Had they acted wrongly? Could they have done anything else? Had they lost their heads? Should they have attempted to withdraw without shooting the boy? Did they really kill him in self-defense?
   Did they, in fact, kill him?
   Was this the inevitable consequence of missions like this? Or were they doing something wrong? Was the job getting to them? Were they losing their nerve?
   Had they, in the final analysis, failed?
   Certainly since the assassination of Chutskayev, nearly a year and a half before, they had reached none of their targets.  This was defeat. There was no other way of looking at it.
   Worse, now they were acting in defiance of plain orders. They were acting without authority.  Running about gardens shooting Chekists.  Like amateurs.
   During the following week they left Tver one by one and made their way back to Harbin.  They felt rejected by luck. Like all soldiers, they were not without a certain superstition. Also, there is an indignity attached to being betrayed by something which favored one before: success, a woman, a winning streak, fortunes of war. It brings with it a sense of hurt and humiliation, a sudden questioning of every value and belief.  There was to be no more unilateral action; they could not justify it. 
   The mission was over.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 07, 2018, 05:25:05 PM
So is this story over? 

Or will they continue the mission, despite the setbacks?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 07, 2018, 09:24:29 PM
Nope, it ain't over yet.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 08, 2018, 12:27:48 AM
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 08, 2018, 06:53:32 PM
July 14, 1925
   On September 1, 1924, the Russian All-Military Union (Russky Obshche-Voynsky Soyuz, ROVS) was established by General Pyotr Wrangel in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.  Its purpose was to maintain a standing White Russian army in exile, capable of combatting the Soviets.  The ROVS included a secret Intelligence Service, and among the top officials in the new spy agency was none other than Adrian Bylinkin.  Soon after its establishment, senior Intelligence Service agents decided it was time to resume the hunt for the regicides.  The surviving members of the Imperial Family were still struggling to rebuild their lives, and the memory of the murders of the tsar and his family was still an open wound in the White psyche.  While it was quite low on their list of priorities, ROVS officials still desperately wanted to avenge the dead.  They were further inspired by Operation Nemesis, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s covert campaign to track down and kill Ottoman officials responsible for the Armenian Massacres.  “Look at them,” one Intelligence Service official had argued in a meeting.  “They have not allowed defeat and dispersal to hinder their pursuit of justice.”
   When the list of those targeted for assassination was reconsidered, the “dark man” again came out on top.  Even in the immediate wake of the Gus-Khrustalny disaster, the intelligence gathering in the hunt for Yurovsky never stopped.  Every relevant detail gleaned from the raw data was checked, analyzed, and filed.
   Thousands of hours of manpower, in field and office, were devoted to the hunt for Yurovsky.  Human intelligence sources were asked time and again about the man, their ability to get close to him, his schedule, his habits, and his plans.  The ears of ROVS Military Intelligence, Unit 4100, were instructed to intercept his calls or pick up any mention of his name.
   After Shimmering Light, Yurovsky had grown cautious about his personal safety, hiring dozens of armed security guards.  Yurovsky tried to remain unpredictable in his habits. He kept loaded Mosin-Nagants in every room in his apartment.
   Once Wrangel reissued the old authorization first given by Admiral Kolchak to assassinate Yakov Yurovsky, Bylinkin was again given responsibility for the dark man’s termination.  Once again, Bylinkin began recruiting a team of agents. This time the Whites could not afford a mistake. Only veteran undercover and covert operators with experience in the Civil War were included in the mission.
   By the first half of 1925, the noose around Yurovsky began to tighten.  Intelligence Service surveillance experts had arrived in Moscow to begin monitoring Yurovsky and immediately discovered that his security precautions had grown lax in the five years since the Rod of Iron team had roamed Russia.  Years had passed after the execution of the Romanovs, and he was growing careless; Yurovsky was no longer a virtually untouchable Chekist.  Now working as deputy head of the Economic Section of the Moscow Committee of Rabkrin, the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate, he had turned into a fat apparatchik.
   Intelligence Service agents began watching Yurovsky closely again in early 1925, following him from a distance during his visits to Moscow.  Over at least six weeks they studied his movements and watched several patterns slowly emerge.
   A careful analysis of the abundant intelligence pouring in isolated a few weak points that could, with proper planning, be made into a weak point that would give Yurovsky away.  When not at work, Yurovsky spent most afternoons with his wife, Mania, and their youngest child, Zhenya, in their apartment in the once-fashionable area of Arbat.  He was also making regular visits to a local banya.  Soon, Intelligence Service staff officers crafted a plan to plant a bomb under a banya bench as he sweated.  The plan was discarded. There was no way to ensure that others would not join him at the last instant, or that the building wouldn’t be severely damaged, perhaps putting more lives at risk.  Instead the Whites chose to launch a less subtle attack on the dark gentleman.
   Yurovsky was good about going to visit his sister.  The Intelligence Service surveillance teams who had been monitoring Yurovsky recognized that in order to reach the building where she lived he had to pass along the east-west route of Vozdvizhenka Street.  This was his weak point.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 09, 2018, 05:16:11 PM
One way the team could have identified Yurosky is by his accent. It varied depending on where you are from in Russia. Yurosky would have spoken Russian with a Siberian accent like Rasputin. This makes you stand out in St Petersburg/Petrograd. I understand Lenin according to one account I read sounded like a drawing room fop. Stalin spoke Russian with a heavy Georgian accent. His voice was also squeaky and one source I have read said he sounded almost comical.

Mossad also made a mistake and killed the wrong man in one of their hits.

If the reds found out the Whites were trying to kill their leaders they would have had hundreds of hostages shot and would have jailed thousands more people. This is one of the reasons the Whites would not have done any sort of assassination program. They also thought until November 1919 they were going to win the Russian Civil war. The Whites were also not into assassinations. George Hill in  "Go Spy The Land " points this out.

Yes TimM
The Soviets went to some lengths to keep guns out of the hands of their people

The Cheka would sometimes surround a city block and search it

The Cheka and Red army would take hostages from a village and if the villagers did not turn in their quota of firearms the hostages would be shot.

In WW II/GPW I understand in any areas captured by the Red Army orders were given that all firearms, ect were to be turned in or people found with them would be shot

In spite of all these "Common sense gun safety measures" I have read that in the mid 1970s that there were well over 10 million illegal firearms in the USSR and there was a big black market trade in illegal firearms and ammo.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 09, 2018, 05:52:44 PM
Mossad also made a mistake and killed the wrong man in one of their hits.

This chapter is based on that incident

If the reds found out the Whites were trying to kill their leaders they would have had hundreds of hostages shot and would have jailed thousands more people. This is one of the reasons the Whites would not have done any sort of assassination program.

Previous chapters include mentions of such retaliations.  Was the White leadership really paralyzed by such moral restraints?

The Whites were also not into assassinations. George Hill in  "Go Spy The Land " points this out.

If I'd known about that book before I started writing this perhaps the story would be quite different.  On the other hand, there were some of the younger generation of emigres, viz. Conradi, Kowerda, and Shabelsky-Bork, who clearly did not share the hesitancy that Hill talks about.  Perhaps Bylinkin was of a similar mindset and simply managed to convince successive superiors.  Similarly, it was with ambivalence and  reluctance that Golda Meir initially approved the plan to assassinate Palestinian terrorist suspects after Munich, after being pressured by top intelligence officials.  She had previously resisted such proposals, citing the risk of mistakes, agents getting caught, and the damage to Israel's image.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 09, 2018, 06:00:45 PM
Also, would the monitoring of building residents you mentioned earlier have been relaxed slightly following the end of the Civil War?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 09, 2018, 09:25:23 PM
The White operation began in May 1925, when a female Intelligence Service agent, claiming to be a Swiss bohemian called Pia Merz, arrived in Moscow on a Swiss passport issued on November 21, 1921, number 37059, to begin working for an orphanage.  She, like Ruslana Havrysh, worked for the Intelligence Service part-time, only when asked. 
   The White surveillance teams who had been monitoring Yurovsky for weeks knew he often drove down a narrow road called Sayan Street on his way to and from his apartment and his workplace in the city.  Intelligence Service headquarters in Sremski Karlovci, Yugoslavia, decided that the combatant, who had been trained well for her position, would take up residence in a flat in Moscow that overlooked Vozdvizhenka Street and collect information about Yakov Yurovsky.  So on July 2, 1925, Pia Merz rented an apartment on the seventh floor of what had been a luxury building.  From her apartment in the Ilarion Yerokhin building she could see Sayan street.  Merz rented the place for three months, paying 150 rubles up front.  Posing as a middle-aged eccentric spinster, Merz made sure that her neighbors took note of her harmless idiosyncrasies.  She spent most of her time feeding unwanted neighborhood cats, sitting in her window wildly painting the streets below, and helping to control a vast surveillance operation against Yurovsky.
   Other White agents then began arriving in the city. According to Cheka investigators, an Intelligence Service agent using the name Oskar Dusl, and traveling on a fake Austrian passport (no. 215388) arrived in Moscow a week after Merz had rented the apartment. He rented a small room at the Melody Hotel, bought a used car, and started badgering local shopkeepers, offering to sell them a variety of Austrian kitchen utensils.  The Intelligence Service certainly went to enormous lengths to ensure their agents had excellent covers; Dusl eagerly distributed leaflets for his range of exciting products around Moscow.
   Elias Schiegg, the cover name for a third White arrived a day later on a forged Swiss passport (no. 371977, dated April 5, 1919) and rented a room at the Tiflis Hotel.
   By early July 1925, the Whites were ready to launch their attack against the dark gentleman.  At dusk one evening two army engineer divers left an ROVS-owned ship anchored off the Gulf of Finland and slipped ashore at a deserted beach carrying a heavy package containing explosives and detonators.  Waiting for them nearby were two White agents; on receiving a predetermined code from the diver’s flashlight, they left the motor of their Peugeot and went to collect the pack.
   As the two divers slipped back into the water and rowed their small boat quietly back to their ship, the other two agents returned to their safe house. They took twelve funts (11 lbs) of TNT back to Moscow with them.
   Several days later, several agents, disguised as workmen, closed off a section of Sayan Street, putting up a construction sign saying utility repairs were in progress.  The “repairs” consisted of planting the TNT beneath a manhole, on a metal base that directed most of the blast upwards. A red mark that served as a guide was painted on the wall of a building across the street precisely in line with the center of the manhole.  The command-wire, a hair-thin, bare copper strand that only the sharpest eye could see, snaked out of the small hole in the top of the manhole, underneath the Peugeot, which was carefully double-parked to force Yurovsky to drive directly over the charge.
   The following day the street was opened again, but men were seen stringing wire at the end of the street.  In response to inquiries they explained they were from the state electric power company.  What they were actually doing was to string the command-wire from underneath the Peugeot, into the gutter and up a telephone pole on the sidewalk, where, forming an electric cable, it was stretched the length of Sayan Street alongside the telephone wires.  Then, the cable dropped to street level.  At the appropriate time, the split cable would be attached to an electric box hidden in a briefcase.  The agents settled down to wait for Yurovsky to appear.
   At 1636 hours on July 14, 1925, Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky bade farewell to his wife and jumped into his battered, tan Benz sedan that waited for him with its motor running.  He was accompanied, as ever, by two heavily armed bodyguards who rode with him in the Benz and at least three more guards climbed into a Lorraine-Dietrich that followed them.    Yurovsky was on the way to his sister’s house for a birthday party for his niece, his sister’s daughter, who turned fifteen that day.  A camera had been purchased for the occasion.  An Intelligence Service agent was watching from nearby as the small convoy left, and he alerted the remaining members of the team that Yurovsky was on the move.   From her corner apartment, Pia Merz watched and waited for Yurovsky to appear.  Dusl and Schiegg, in electricians’ uniforms, waited around the corner.  Dusl was up on a ladder, briefcase in hand.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 10, 2018, 12:03:03 AM
Ah, good to see this story still going.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 10, 2018, 06:49:10 PM
Yurovsky’s two-car convoy sped through the streets of Moscow, hooting other cars out of the way, and slowly turned right onto the narrow Sayan Street.  This time the Whites were making no mistakes.  From her balcony, Merz signaled the convoy’s approach to Schiegg, standing forty sazhens away.  Schiegg watched as the double-parked Peugeot forced the Benz to swerve.  When it was over the mine, Schiegg looked at Dusl and scratched his jaw.  At that precise moment, 1646 hours, Dusl switched on the current and threw the municipal circuit, and the second power failure tripped the battery and detonator under the street. The explosion rocked the whole block.  An eyewitness described seeing a ball of fire and then hearing a deafening explosion, which was audible from several versts away. Cars lit up in flames and several bodies were strewn on the street, burned by the flames.  Instantly the ground opened up under the Benz, and it was lifted up nine sazhens in a great cloud of fire, dust and smoke.  In the middle of all the confusion, Schiegg and Dusl yelled out "Gas! Gas!" and started running toward nearby Znamenka Street.  Waiting for them inside a vehicle, on the corner of Starovagankovsky lane, was a fourth Intelligence Service agent.  The car headed for the Arbatskaya intersection and took Malyy Kislovsky Pereulok, where the killers stopped in front of the Moscow Conservatory and switched vehicles before heading for their hideout on Skhodenenskaya Street in the nearby town of Putilkovo.
   Meanwhile, confusion reigned on and around Sayan Street.  When the smoke cleared, Yurovsky’s car had been blown in two.  Of the two guards in the car with him, one’s body had been thrown into a tree.  The legs of the other were tangled in the electrical wires overhead, while his hands landed across the street.  There was an enormous hole in the middle of Sayan Street, filled with water from ruptured mains.  Yurovsky’s escort car was a ruin, its three occupants killed outright.  Three other people also died in the explosion.  First responders found Yurovsky lying slumped against the side of a building seven sazhens from the blast crater.  He was still alive but unconscious, blood streaming from his nose and mouth.  He was rushed to the Kremlin Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 1725 hours.
   In the midst of the chaos, Pia Merz quietly slipped out of her apartment.  She soon made her way to the apartment in Putilkovo, where she and the other three agents stayed holed up until the end of the month, when they were spirited away by another agent.  A truck drove them north to Kulisko, a border town.  From there, they crossed into Estonia over the Kulje Lat river.
   Yurovsky’s death was officially announced by the government.
   Bylinkin had finally completed the mission Admiral Kolchak had set him six years previously.  The Romanovs had been avenged.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 12, 2018, 02:50:52 PM
Nice to see the Romanovs get some kind of justice here.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 12, 2018, 07:05:42 PM
January 17, 1926

   Pyotr Wrangel was pleased with the execution and results of the Yurovsky assassination, and authorized yet another elimination, one that Intelligence Service members somewhat arrogantly referred to as “something we just picked up…”
   The target was Jan Tsel’ms, now working in the Leningrad OGPU.  His assassination, in the winter of 1926, was not particularly complicated, and didn’t require extensive intelligence gathering.  Tsel’ms, who did not take even minimal safety precautions, was shot on January 17, 1926 by two assassins from the Intelligence Service in the hallway of his apartment building in Leningrad.  Fatally injured, he died the next day at the Mariinskaya Hospital.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 13, 2018, 01:39:50 AM
June 4, 1926

   After the fall of Yekaterinburg to the Whites, Serge Lyukhanov, the man who had driven the bodies from the Ipatieve house to the Koptyaki forest, had fled to the town of Osa, near Perm.  He had worked as chief of the electrical station until earlier this year, when he had quit and moved to Nizhny Tagil.  There he had run into a companion from the night of the Romanovs’ murders, Vladimir Sunegin, who was working as a shift supervisor at a steel factory.  Sunegin helped his old comrade get a job as a mechanic at the factory.  The two men became fast friends, and spent many evening chatting and reminiscing peacefully about the old days.
   On June 4, 1926, the men left work together in Lyukhanov’s car.  At 1730 hours they pulled up to the building where Lyukhanov was living, on Ulitsa Pervomayskaya, off Ulitsa Serova.  Lyukhanov’s wife, Galina Karlovna, a German, was just leaving the house when she saw a tall and heavily built gunman approach her husband, who had opened the door of his car and was unlocking the rear door of the Stoewer for Sunegin, and shoot him from an arshin away with a silenced weapon, before shooting Sunegin as well.  The gunman then ran to a small white car parked nearby where another man was waiting and they drove off.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 13, 2018, 11:23:45 AM
Two short chapters today, I see.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 13, 2018, 12:49:01 PM
The remainder of the story will be shorts like this, except for the last chapter which will be a little longer.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 14, 2018, 09:31:22 PM
December 6, 1928

   Two other regicides who had crossed paths once again since the Civil War were Boris Didkovsky and Yevgeny Preobrazhensky.  Expelled from the party in 1927, Preobrazhensky had been sent back to the Urals and was now working at the Urals planning bureau as the deputy of Didkovsky, who held a senior position in the bureau.
   Shortly after midnight on December 6, 1928, Didkovsky was driving home to his apartment in Verkh-Isetsk, which he shared with his brother and their respective wives.  He had just parked his car in a garage near his apartment and was walking to his home when three or four gunmen in two automobiles drew alongside him.  Didkovsky started to run away, but the gunmen fired eight shots from a .38-caliber semi-automatic pistol into his head and body.  Didkovsky died on the spot.  The gunmen escaped.  Didkovsky’s deputy Preobrazhensky visited his late superior’s home later that night to assist the militsiya in their investigation and give them information about Didkovsky.  Less than 7 hours later, Preobrazhensky drove out of a public garage on Ulitsa Shevchenko.  He had only driven nine sazhens when an extremely powerful, sophisticated time bomb containing shrapnel, which had been planted under the hood of his car and connected to the ignition system, was triggered by a mercury fuse.  Preobrazhensky was killed instantly.  A woman walking by on a nearby sidewalk was slightly injured by fragments of the shattered body of the car.  She was taken to a hospital in stable condition. 
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 15, 2018, 11:26:59 AM
The remainder of the story will be shorts like this, except for the last chapter which will be a little longer.

Thanks for the update.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 16, 2018, 10:38:50 PM
January 12, 1929

Grigory Nikulin, now working as head of the Moscow State Insurance Company, had mourned long and deeply for his “father,” Yurovsky.  Now, two and half years later, he was about to meet a similar fate.  This morning, he was sitting in his car parked in Kozhevnicheskaya Ulitsa outside his apartment in the southeast part of the city, getting ready to drive to his office.  As he was starting the car, a car approached containing three men and drew up alongside Nikulin’s vehicle.  One of the men threw a bomb through an open window.  Nikulin died instantly but no one else was hurt.  None of the men in the other car were ever traced.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 17, 2018, 02:10:51 PM
February 10, 1930

Georgy Safarov had been expelled from the party in 1927, but in late 1928 he had been readmitted to the party and at the beginning of 1930 he was restored to his old post as head of the Eastern Department of the Executive Committee of the Comintern.  His tenure there, however, would last barely three weeks.  On this day, he was driving to his office, accompanied by his comrade Grigory Yurievich Shagidzyanov, who sat next to him in the front passenger seat, and his three children, aged 4, 9 and 13.  As the car waited at a traffic junction, two burly young men on a motorcycle, their faces covered by crash helmets, pulled up alongside it and shot and killed Safarov with pistols fitted with silencers.  They also injured Shagidzyanov and Safarov’s three children.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 17, 2018, 05:31:22 PM
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 18, 2018, 08:26:59 PM
November 30, 1932

   The execution of the Romanov family had only marked the start of Filipp Goloshchyokin’s participation in mass murder.  As First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, he had run Kazakhstan as a local dictator.  His implementation of collectivization there had brought about a deadly famine which killed 2 million people, 38% of the Kazakh population, making them a minority in their own land.  This had led to his being dismissed from office and recalled to Moscow on September 17, 1932.
   The Intelligence Service monitored details of his life and residence and tracked him down.  On November 30, 1932, Intelligence Service gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on him at the door of the  Hotel National.  Four bullets hit him in the forehead, killing him.  The assassins escaped and were never apprehended.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 20, 2018, 01:59:39 PM
I must point out there were very few motor vehicles of any sort made in Russia between 1917 and 1932 when GAZ started production. Also the Cheka did a good job post Russian Civil war infiltrating White exile groups.

In flipping through a bio of Trotsky the apartment he lived in in NYC was the first home he had that had a telephone in it. It also had a fairly new device called a refrigerator. The book mentions the rent being $18 a month. I think that was a good months pay back then. I have also read he had a chauffer driven car to drive him around. The book "Wall street and the Bolshevik revolution" wonders where Trotsky got all this money to live so well.

When you consider how many Russians got jailed and deported after Voikov and Kirov were assassinated it would have been blood bath time in the USSR if all these people were killed.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 21, 2018, 11:23:08 AM
That's the good thing about AU stories.  You're not bound by history.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 22, 2018, 05:19:52 PM
The book "Memoirs of a Survivor" by Sergei Golitsyn is about life in the between the world wars USSR
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 23, 2018, 01:52:28 PM
There is a movie coming out Operation Finale on the Mossad kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann. trailers are on youtube

In Admiral Kolchak's wiki bio I just stumbled on the book "The White Armies of Russia" which is online.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 24, 2018, 03:14:28 PM
April 10, 1933

   Goloshchyokin was too important an individual for his death to go unavenged, and it was followed by a wave of jailings and deportations.  In the meantime, worried by OGPU penetration of ROVS, the Intelligence Service transferred its headquarters to Manchukuo, which was thought to be more secure.  In Manchukuo, the ROVS organization was known as Dal’nevostochnyi Soyuz Voennykh(DNSV, the Far Eastern Union of Servicemen), and counted at least 4,000 members forming a naval department, military youth group and societies of young officers, cadets and alumni of the Irkutsk, Alekseyev, Orenburg and other military academies.
   The assassins now focused their attention on Aleksandr Beloborodov, who had followed the same path of expulsion, repentance and rehabilitation as his old comrade Safarov.  He was currently employed in the system of the Committee of State Purchases in Rostov-na-Donu.  Beloborodov had been the object of a number of Intelligence Service targeted killing attempts before April 10, 1933, when he parked his car in the west of the city, giving “Rodion” enough time to do his job.  Rodion, an assassin with a predilection for explosive devices, slid his burly body underneath the car and attached one of his “Rodion-Ears,” a lethal bomb of his own design.  Rodion had already moved a safe distance away by the time Beloborodov entered the car.  At 0150 hours, as the car drove towards Kruglaya Ploshchad’, its movement jerked the Rodion-Ear’s tilt fuse, causing the supply of mercury to flow to the top of the tube and close the circuit.  Beloborodov’s body was burned beyond recognition.  According to the OGPU, witnesses saw three people following in another car fled on foot after the blast.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 24, 2018, 03:35:40 PM
I just stumbled upon some old notes I made from the book "The Civil War in South Russia 1918"  It seems there were some White agents in early 1918 wanted to blow up the Smolny then being used as Bolshevik headquarters. General Kornilov I believe was in favor of it but General Alekseev vetoed the plan. If this plan had succeeded and Lenin was killed there was no one at this time who could have taken over from him as Bolshevik leader. A number of the key decisions Lenin made were opposed by most or all the other Bolshevik leaders. No Lenin no Communism ect.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on June 28, 2018, 02:36:54 PM
Another excellent source of research.

Sometimes research is necessary, even for an AU story.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on June 30, 2018, 05:33:31 PM
August 3, 1934

   At the age of forty-nine, Pyotr Yermakov, employed since 1927 as inspector of prisons for the Urals, was drawing his pension.  Always anxious to boost his role not just in the Romanovs’ murders but in the Revolution itself, he continually toured schools and Young Pioneer camps around Sverdlovsk, as Yekaterinburg was now renamed, lecturing children about his “heroic” deed.
   General Yevgeny Miller, chairman of ROVS, was asked to approve the execution of Yermakov.  Once the execution was approved, Intelligence Service agents began planning the act.
   Yermakov was located in Sverdlovsk.  The operation involved professional lookouts, in a nearby apartment rented much earlier, and a minute study of Yermakov’s daily routine. The Intelligence Service’s agents, led by Rodion, planted another of his bombs under the driver’s seat of Yermakov’s red Ford Model A, filled with just enough explosive to kill all the passengers while avoiding harming others. 
   On August 3, 1934, Yermakov called home to tell his wife to expect guests for Sunday luncheon.  He had met up with two comrades, Nikolai Pospelov and Aleksandr Bozhenov, both of whom had been present at the Romanovs’ burial, and invited them home for a meal.  As they got into their car, “Rex,” chief of the Intelligence Service division responsible for assassinations, and Rodion were sitting in another car, watching them, after many tense hours of surveillance, during which the local militsiya almost caught the Whites.
   Yermakov’s wife was standing on her balcony watching as her husband steered the car up a concrete ramp in front of their apartment building.  As the car reached a retaining wall on one side of the driveway and an open field on the other, the mercury in the tilt fuse under Yermakov’s seat finished flowing to the top of the tube and closed the circuit, which had been activated by a timing device.  In a plume of black smoke, the car's roof disintegrated and the doors burst open.  By the time the ambulance arrived 45 minutes later, Yermakov and his two companions were dead.  His buttocks and part of his back had been blown away by the powerful bomb, which had set the car ablaze.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on July 05, 2018, 11:55:34 AM
A bomb.  A nasty way to go.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on July 11, 2018, 08:14:03 AM
I think Yermakov would have been driving a GAZ Model A which started production in 1932. This was a copy of the Ford model A.

The book "Hitler's Spies" mentions the German Military attaché to the USSR 1935-41 General Ernst Kostring had a oversized touring car with a 60 gallon fuel tank to go from one counsulate to another. Even if he could not buy gas on the way. No doubt he carried along some extra fuel in some 5 gallon "jerrycans" on these trips.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on July 11, 2018, 06:12:16 PM
The GAZ was actually what I meant; I had read that the Ford Model A was a collaboration between Ford and the USSR.  Was it sold under the GAZ label in Russia?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on July 12, 2018, 06:07:37 PM
Could be, I suppose.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on July 18, 2018, 11:16:25 PM
looking up the GAZ factory online Ford and the USSR made an agreement to build a factory in Russia.

I would say that Alexandra's jewelry helped pay for it.

Some American mostly of Russian ancestry went to Russia to work at this plant. The ones still there in the late 1930s where either sent to the Gulag where many did not survive. The US embassy did nothing even though the people were US citizens.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on July 26, 2018, 11:35:08 AM
The ones still there in the late 1930s where either sent to the Gulag where many did not survive. The US embassy did nothing even though the people were US citizens.

Well, that's what happens when you got to work in a criminal regime like the Soviet Union, especially with a thug like Stalin in charge.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on July 28, 2018, 08:48:49 AM
The US Ambassador to the USSR 1936-38 was a man named Joesph E Davies he can kindly be described as a "usefull idiot" as Lenin would say see his wiki bio and try not to be totally amazed at his stupidity.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on July 30, 2018, 12:38:30 PM
Sadly, there were a lot of such "useful idiots' in the first half of the 20th Century.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 13, 2018, 05:18:56 PM
You can't really blame the US workers who went to the USSR to work at GAZ and to their deaths. The US was in the middle of the Great depression and they were unemployed so they went to work in the USSR in order to survive and probably thought they will be back in the US in a few years time. I would like to point out a lot of what was written about the USSR in the early 1930s in the US was positive. After all Walter Duranty of the New York Times who won a Pulizer prize for his reporting in the USSR at this time saying  what a great place it was ect. See the book "Harvest of Sorrow" Robert Conquest.

As for Ambassador Davies he wrote a book about his experiences "Mission to Moscow" with the approval of President Roosevelt that praised Stalin highly ect. This book was a best seller and was made into a movie. One sometimes get the impression Roosevelt didn't really understand what sort of monster Stalin was.

Then besides all the "usefull idiots" there were a number of Americans who spied for the Soviets:
Venona Decoded Soviet Espionage in America TJ Haynes and H Kerr or see Operation Venona on wki
The Sword and the Shield Chris Andrew & Vasili Mitrokoiv

When I was in college there was a discussion about Red China in a class I was taking. I told the Professor that Mao murdered 20 million of his own people. The man looked at me with a stunned look on his face and said he did know that. After class I checked the Book "Terrorism from Robespirre to Arafat" and show him the figure. He and another college professor looked at the book and one said the figures might be off. I pointed out to him the book also mentions hitler killing 12 million people could that figure be off too. they finally agreed with me. Since then the real figure of Mao's murders is 35 to 60 million

Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Forum Admin on August 13, 2018, 05:56:41 PM
Don't forget Armand Hammer, who met with the Soviets and was given contracts and who served as the conduit to raise Western cash for the USSR by importing and selling off Romanov memorabilia and Imperial Russian antiques from the Soviet Antikvariat. "The Hammer Galleries" toured department stores all across the US in the 1920s and '30's.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on August 20, 2018, 05:25:12 PM
The book "History's greatest heist" Sean Mcmeekin  also deals with how the Bolsheviks laundered there loot.

The GAZ built by Ford and AMO/Zis/Zil restored by A.J. Brandt Co turned out hundreds of thousands of trucks with out which the red army could not have fought WW II/GPW

There were people who tried to tell the world what monsters Lenin and Stalin were but they were often dismissed as liars or being pro-Nazi.

There have been rumors that US POWs from the Korean and Vietnam wars ended up in the USSR for intelligence purposes. We will never know the full story because I have read that a lot of the old gulag and Cheka records were destroyed.

The Wall Street Journal I believe pointed out some months ago that first lady Eleanor Roosevelt never wrote or said a bad word about Stalin. I believe they also pointed out some of her actions were a cause of a lot of high blood pressure in the US.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on September 15, 2018, 06:17:35 PM
There have been rumors that US POWs from the Korean and Vietnam wars ended up in the USSR for intelligence purposes.

If this is true, then some of them could still be alive today.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on October 08, 2018, 05:26:31 PM
On youtube there are videos on "Driving a Model T Ford" a  for the time simple rugged reliable car that today looks like a nightmare to drive. I recently read in a magazine that the Lemay Collection of cars in Talcoma Washington was offering lessons on how to drive a Model T.

If anyone thinks a Model t is hard to drive the FWD (Four Wheel Drive) truck one of the most widely used 4 wheel drive trucks of the period. From what I have read is a real monster to drive according to people who drive restored examples. Steer wheel hard to turn, gears that don't shift and no suspension to speak of. With a top speed of 14 MPH.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Forum Admin on October 08, 2018, 06:31:41 PM
From a Model T enthusiast site:
The pedals aren't in the standard placement that we've grown accustomed to over the last 100 years or so, and in fact, only one of the three pedals does what we might expect from a floor pedal these days. I'm talking about the brake pedal. Yes, the brake pedal stops the car -- but even then, it's in the far-right position (where you would normally find the accelerator pedal). So what are the other two pedals for, you ask? Well, in addition to the brake pedal, you'll find a gear selector pedal that provides first gear (all the way to the floor), neutral (half-way out and used for stopping) and second gear (all the way out). Next to that pedal, you'll find a separate reverse gear pedal. In other words, if you're driving a Model T, you'd better be up for some pretty fancy footwork.

But it's not just your feet that will stay busy in a Model T, your hands will get a pretty good workout, too. Aside from steering the car where you want it to go, with your left hand, you'll be adjusting the firing of the spark plugs (down to advance and up to retard), and with your right hand you'll control the throttle (down to open and up to close).

According to the Car and Driver article, "The odd position of the throttle, brake, and shifter make driving a Model T an archaic and dangerous experience. It's like trying to do the Charleston while loading a musket after a big night at the speak-easy."

But the full Model T experience isn't just about sitting in the driver's seat and, well, driving. Before you can drive it, you have to start it. And, if you ever find yourself behind the wheel of a pre-1919 Model T (prior to being equipped with an electric starter), that can be another challenge. In fact, there's even the very-real risk of breaking an arm each time you start it up -- that is, if the engine backfires.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2018, 06:11:44 PM
Hey, when is this story gonna continue?
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on October 13, 2018, 12:02:40 PM
Things have gotten quite hectic of late, so unfortunately I probably won't start posting the last chapter until the holidays.  Apologies
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on October 15, 2018, 05:22:31 PM
Pefectly understandable.  Sometimes RL can get in the way.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on October 22, 2018, 11:09:16 PM
Another "fun" thing about the model t ford the fuel tank is under the drivers seat the fuel to the engine is gravity fed. If you are going up a big steep hill fuel won't flow to the engine and it will quit running.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on November 06, 2018, 04:30:23 PM
google search and you will find part of TM 31-210 The improvised Munitions Handbook online. For those who like to make homemade bombs and firearms. Which are both dangerous and against the law.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on November 07, 2018, 05:32:39 PM
Yet they put this stuff online.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 02, 2018, 04:23:38 PM
from the Doug Smith Rasputin book the Okharana recorded the following numbers of Moscow license plates 1598, 727, 890 Looks like there weren't too many cars in Moscow at this time 1915.

Some good things about the Model T Ford high wheel base so it could travel over badly rutted roads of the period. Also it was light enough so if one got stuck or broke down it could be towed by a team of horses ect or pushed by people.

On the improvised munitions handbook I have seen it for sale in army surplus shops and a Hastings bookstore. Most of the info has been around for decades.

bomb making in the early 1900s in the US chemistry books had info on how to make explosives. Some Russian revolutionaries learned how to make explosives from French chemistry books. At least two managed to blow themselves up while trying to make explosives.

homemade firearms
I have read that in the decades of the 19502-1970s in the US some big city police departments every year confiscated large numbers of home made firearms or zip guns. Darra Pakistan was and may be still is the center of the firearms trade in the Pakistan Afganistan region . The city has more gun stores than any other city on earth. There the locals make their own firearms with hand tools you can buy in any hardware store in the US. Some firearms are so good a copy that they are hard to tell from the originals.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 07, 2018, 05:28:30 PM
Hopefully, this story will start again before long.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 08, 2018, 03:38:31 PM
Probably I'll start writing again after next week.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 10, 2018, 12:00:20 PM
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 14, 2018, 01:59:21 PM
Ok, apologies for the long hiatus, but RL is finally easing up and I've started writing again, so expect something soon.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 15, 2018, 11:35:58 AM
Right you are!
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 16, 2018, 12:30:15 AM
November 28, 1938

   The red Opel P4 with the dented front bumper hurtled down Reichstrasse 12 on its way to Vienna.  The driver was alone in the vehicle. He stopped twice, to buy food from a vending machine and gas from a pump. Five hours later, his surveillance tail almost lost him in the swirling rush-hour traffic of a Vienna afternoon.  On Czerningasse the trackers watched the P4 with the Austrian license plates, IL- 686Y, make a sudden left  turn. The driver of the surveillance car floored the accelerator and caught a glimpse of the Opel as it crossed through an archway into a carpark.  A quick look at the sign by the entrance explained the unexpected move: the carpark belonged to the Hotel Nordbahn, an old, quiet, quality establishment in the heart of the Leopoldstadt district, with eighty-one rooms and suites.  The visitor walked back through arch, turned right onto Mayergasse, and walked around the block to the hotel entrance on Praterstraße.  He registered, paid cash, and went straight up to room 36 with a small suitcase in his hand.
   The hotel guest was Rudolf Lacher, a mustached, handsome forty-five-year-old Austrian who had driven from his home in the small town of Steinach am Brenner, where he had been living a quiet bourgeois existence.  He had stayed at the Nordbahn before and favored it.
   Lacher was drained from the drive—he had covered the three-hundred-mile journey in four hours flat.  He made plans to go out to dinner.  He showered and got dressed.
   Aleksei Smirnov, the head of the Russian All-Military Union’s Intelligence Service, received a brief message in the operation’s war room, located in a safe house in the Margareten district of Vienna: “He’s in the Nordbahn.  We’re getting ready.”   Smirnov leaned back in his chair. The operation was in high gear.  Smirnov, in his early fifties, had run the Intelligence Service for the past three years, and was well acquainted with undercover operations. He had served for six years as commander of the Intelligence Service’s Novgorod unit, which was charged with special operations and with running undercover Intelligence Service combatants in enemy territory. He was in Vienna on a borrowed identity: a different name was on the passport in the pocket of his striped blazer.  None of his peers in the Gestapo, or any other branch of the Nazi intelligence services, knew he was in the country. His gut told him the mission would go well. He had complete confidence in the professionalism of Novgorod’s combatants.
   Andrei K, Novgorod’s intelligence collection officer, placed the thirty-by-forty-centimeter pictures of the facade of the Hotel Nordbahn on a table in another room in the Intelligence Service safe house. The new pictures had been shot from a variety of angles and included the streets surrounding the hotel. The surveillance team had taken them as soon as Lacher checked in.  The operational plans, drawn up in advance by Novgorod officers, took a number of hotels into consideration, primarily the Hotel Imperial, an elegant hotel situated on the Ringstraße—but not the Nordbahn. Lacher’s unexpected choice forced them to revise their plans accordingly. The work was done quickly and efficiently. In less than an hour a new plan was brought before Smirnov. Time was tight, and Smirnov, never garrulous under even the most relaxed circumstances, kept it brief. He asked Novgorod’s commander and the head of the assassination squad a few questions about the operation. He honed a few key points, and then, satisfied, approved the mission.
   The surveillance team had followed Lacher for three days.  Indeed, it was the Intelligence Service who had caused Lacher to come to Vienna in the first place.  Steinach had a population of about two thousand, so assassinating Lacher there was out of the question; the presence of outsiders in a small town would be noticed in the aftermath of a murder.  That had been one of the lessons of the Gus-Khrustalny affair.  Therefore a plan was needed to lure Lacher to a big city where strangers would be less conspicuous. 
   Lacher’s most precious possession was his Opel.  There was only one mechanic in Steinach, and he was not a specialty mechanic.  It was therefore that four days previously, a large car had made its way into Steinach during the night and deliberately sideswiped the Opel as it lay parked outside Lacher’s home.  The collision severely dented the front bumper and created a crack in the grille.  The next morning, Lacher had taken the car to the local mechanic, who had informed him there was no choice but to replace the entire front bumper.  This would have to be done by a specialized garage, and the Steinach mechanic recommended a place in Vienna.  So Lacher made an appointment with the Vienna garage and sprinted there two days later, with the surveillance team on his tail.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 16, 2018, 12:01:08 PM
Nice to see this story start up again.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 16, 2018, 06:04:41 PM
A half-dozen combatants, two cars, and two motorcycles comprised the surveillance team. Throughout, none of the operation’s planners at Novgorod had any idea where Lacher would stay. Would he choose the apartment of a friend, or a hotel room?  Now they knew where they had to act.  Lacher was followed from his first moments in what had been the Austrian capital until the Anschluss eight months earlier.  A spear team, as Novgorod’s assassination squads were known, had been waiting for Lacher in the hotel lobby.  They had tailed him up to his room and waited while he unpacked, showered, and dressed for the evening.  The surveillance was so heavy Lacher realized he was being watched. He contacted an acquaintance within German intelligence and requested protection. Lacher was told there would be none available until the next morning.  He was on his own. 
   The Whites waited in ambush outside the hotel.  They assumed Lacher would go out for dinner. When he returned, tired and contented, they would act. The late hours of the night, when the streets are quiet and empty, were always best for covert operations. The final decision would be in the hands of the two assassins, “Peter” and “George.” The point man, Peter, would pull the trigger. Up until the last instant, he would have the authority to call off the operation: he would raise his weapon only when certain that his team would emerge unscathed.

   Rudolf Lacher was a target because he was the last surviving participant in the murder of the Romanov family, in 1918.  Even though it was twenty years after the Yekaterinburg massacre, the Russian All-Military Union had a long memory.  Aleksei Smirnov wanted him to pay the price for participating in the killings—he was determined to avenge the Romanovs, and anyone connected to the murders was, in his mind, a legitimate target.  Still, it was an odd distraction.  At this point, the NKVD had mounted numerous successful operations against the ROVS. Europe had seen a series of crises—the Anschluss, the carve-up of Czechoslovakia, the violence against Jews on Kristallnacht. The ROVS had far more pressing intelligence needs than killing people for atrocities they had been involved in two decades earlier. Nonetheless, ROVS chair Aleksei Arkhangelsky, who had himself led Operation Shimmering Light in Saratov back in 1919 to kill three of the regicides, re-endorsed the kill order for Lacher and gave the mission his blessing.  The ROVS was on the verge of closing its case against another one of the “bastards,” as they were known in the Intelligence Service, who took part in the murder of the Romanovs.
   Lacher did go out to dinner.  The Novgorod surveillance team shadowed him, undetected, the whole time.  Lacher and an unidentified Hungarian woman spent a pleasant night at the nearby Schweizerhaus beer garden.  It was after midnight when Lacher picked up the tab and returned to the Opel.  He sat in the front seat while his friend drove.  They had a very loud, animated conversation in German. A short drive brought them to the entrance of the Nordbahn. The Praterstraße was quiet; few cars passed by.
   Lacher got out and said goodby to his friend.  He took one step back, preparing to move in the direction of the hotel. A few seconds later, two “European-looking” young men in black open-collared shirts, striped blazers, and black casual trousers approached him.  Their walk was loose, casual. Peter, the point man, raised his hand and pulled the trigger while George kept guard.  The Browning 7.65mm issued its shots in silence, the retorts muzzled by a silencer. The five bullets hit Lacher in the head. He fell on the spot, next to his friend’s car, his final inhalation a gurgle. The hot cartridges were caught, along with the clues they held, in a small, sturdy cloth bag attached to the pistol. Within seconds, the assassin and his backup were rapidly retreating down the street, disappearing into the night. 
   “Sasha,” the commander of the squad, waited for them near the corner, 260 yards away.  He watched them cross to the other side of Rotensterngasse and, from the other side of the street, at a more casual pace, watched their backs. This standard procedure was meant to thwart a mishap during the escape phase of a mission—a highly unlikely scenario, since it takes bystanders many long seconds, if not minutes, to realize that an assassination has just taken place. Nonetheless, the possibility couldn’t be ignored. Within twenty seconds the point man and his number two were at the corner of a one-way street.  According to Intelligence Service procedure, the getaway car would always wait two 90-degree turns from the scene of an operation. The pair made a left onto Weintraubengasse, where the waiting car had kept its motor running.
   Sasha suddenly noticed two figures coming after his men. They were breathing heavily and speaking animatedly. This was a fast-approaching threat; they needed to be stopped. They could not be allowed to turn the corner and see the escape vehicle, or, even worse, commit the license plate to memory. Sasha started toward them, his quick pace authoritative and threatening. When he was within fifteen feet of the pair he pulled out his Browning. Holding it in front of their faces, he shouted: “Stop!” The weapon froze them in their tracks. They put their hands in the air, stumbled backward, turned around, and broke into a run in the direction of the hotel. Sasha pocketed his gun and walked down Rotensterngasse. He watched his men turn left onto the narrow street and got into a second car waiting for him. He checked his watch: fifty-five seconds had elapsed since the first shot was fired. He smiled to himself. The account was squared; the mission, a success. He pushed a button, sending confirmation to the commander of Novgorod. In less than two hours, the point man, his number two, the squad leader, the commander of Novgorod, his staff officers, and Aleksei Smirnov, had all left German soil.


   Major General Dmitry Kriuchkov, Chairman Aleksei Arkhangelsky’s military aide, lay awake in bed waiting for the red, top secret telephone to ring. He picked it up quickly and heard a familiar voice say, “Dmitry, it went according to plan.” He recognized “Sergei,” Aleksei Smirnov’s chief of staff, on the other end of the line.
   “Thanks, I’ll pass it on.”
   Kriuchkov sat up in bed and dialed Arkhangelsky’s number. The chairman picked up on the first ring. “Your High Excellency, I just got word from Smirnov’s office, the Vienna affair went smoothly.”
   “Thank you,” Arkhangelsky said, and hung up.
   Kriuchkov put down the phone.  Arkhangelsky, he thought, had nerves of steel. He and Smirnov were two of a kind. Kriuchkov went back to sleep thinking about how Die Presse’s headline might read the next morning.
   Officers at the Intelligence Service’s Berlin station were shocked.  “Aleksandr,” a high-ranking officer in Novgorod, hurried up the stairs to see “Ivan,” his superior. 
   “Didn’t we take this guy off the list?” Aleksandr asked.
   “We took him off. I don’t know what’s going on.” Ivan shrugged.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 16, 2018, 06:06:01 PM
Both of them knew the deceased. Back in 1934, the two of them, in previous posts as officers at Intelligence Service headquarters in Hsinking, Manchukuo had erased his name from the Intelligence Service hit list. The removal had gone through all the proper channels. Samuil Muratov, the head of the Intelligence Service at the time, had approved the move. Yet someone had put Lacher back on the list and then led a covert operation to kill him on German soil. That someone was none other than Aleksei Smirnov—a brilliant tactician and professional, who had excelled at every post he held along the chain of command, and who had the ear and the confidence of every chairman he worked under.
   Early in 1938, Smirnov called a former protégé, the current head of Novgorod, to a short meeting. He asked him to check which of the Bolsheviks involved in the murder of the Romanovs were still alive. Smirnov was old-school, one of those who refused to close the book on Yekaterinburg. As far as he was concerned, the White movement had painted a well-deserved target on the faces of everyone involved in the planning or the execution of the massacre. They would all pay with their lives; when and where was of no consequence. Intelligence Service combatants were charged with carrying out the assassination orders, which had been passed down from Admiral Kolchak to each successive Supremer Ruler and chairman.
   Smirnov believed in the White movement’s responsibility to its members—he believed in the necessity of fulfilling this order not just because he saw it as moral and just, but because he knew that no one else would carry it out in his place. He would do all in his power to see the mission through.   
   A few months after the assassination, Smirnov was officially invited to meet the newly appointed head of the Gestapo. Forgoing pleasantries, the German intelligence officer fired his opening volley: “We know you killed Lacher. We’re still working on the proof. When it comes through, you’ll get what’s coming to you. In no way am I willing to allow you to turn the Reich into your stage for acts of war and assassinations. I will not allow it to happen,” he said, pounding his fist on the table.
   Smirnov was impassive. “Point taken,” he said coolly, running his hand through his thinning, slicked-back hair, and then sipping from a coffee he’d been served earlier. Smirnov knew there was no chance the Nazis would find anything that would tie the ROVS to the assassination. The mission had gone without a hitch. Without a flicker of emotion he bid his colleague farewell, and left the office of the chief of the Gestapo.

   Decision makers and heads of intelligence services the world over will vehemently deny succumbing to revenge’s ancient allure, with its biblical demand for an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  Usually, “revenge” is not spoken of openly. Different, softer words are used, words that people can live with; phrases like “closing the circle.”
   In the case of Rudolf Lacher, revenge was served cold, twenty years after the crime. Lacher joined a list of more than a dozen people killed by the Whites in the wake of the murder of the Romanov family.  Lacher, the last of them, closed the circle.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 16, 2018, 06:21:06 PM
The only gripe I have is the part where he drove 300 miles in 4 hours flat. This is in pre-autobahn Austria with narrow roads ect. I will have to check my map of Austria there are not too many places 300 miles from Vienna. I should also point out in September-October 1938 the Czech crisis was going on. There were German troops all over Austria. Add to this police and military checkpoints and remember most of the German army still used horse-drawn transport. I would say he would have been lucky to do this in 8 hours.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 16, 2018, 06:37:59 PM
According to my measurements, Steinach is about 240 miles from Vienna as the crow flies, but I measured the actual driving route as being about 300 miles.  It's possible I made a mistake.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 18, 2018, 12:07:40 AM
Now we're up to almost World War II.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 18, 2018, 12:10:35 AM
Yep, and this is the end.  All good things must come to an end.  Looking back, I would change a few things in earlier chapters.  Thanks to all who advised and contributed.  If anyone else wants to start submitting their own revisions the way James was doing for a bit, feel free.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 18, 2018, 05:01:13 PM
Well, it's a great AU story. 
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 18, 2018, 01:01:49 PM
Thanks, Tim.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 20, 2018, 05:07:21 PM
You're welcome.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 27, 2018, 04:34:41 PM
I sometimes wonder why you have Lacher on your list of killers? He was locked up while the killing was going on

You have the Gestapo man saying to him something like "We know you did this and the only reason we are not throwing you in jail and having some of our fellows beat on you until you tell us what you did is because the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) thinks you and your group may be of some use to Germany". in real life the Germans did have dealings with Russian exile groups between the world wars.

There were letter bombs back then look on wiki: 1919 United States anarchist bombings

Looking on Steibach Am Brenner is 498 km from Vienna while Innsbruck is only 24 km away. That most likely would have been the place to go to get a car repaired.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: Nictionary on December 29, 2018, 01:09:45 AM
I know there is debate regarding alleged discrepancies in Lacher's testimony and his exact whereabouts during the execution, but from the Whites' point of view, if they knew he was a member of the guard and he was inside the house at the time of the murders, they probably wouldn't have examined the evidence against him with a magnifying glass.  After all, in real life, Letyomin and Starkov didn't take part but they were still executed by the Whites.

I also read on wiki that when Arkhangelsky was chair of ROVS he favored a pro-German policy.
Title: Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
Post by: TimM on December 30, 2018, 12:35:51 AM
Well, this is an AU story.  So there is wiggle room here.