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Polish GROM has been fighting a secret war, our enemies aren't human.



DATE: NOV2023 | APPROX <1840 hours


[Entry 1]

“War should never be seen as a way of life, only as a dark era we must push through, if we get too comfortable it will consume us”. That’s something my old squad leader told me a very long time ago, back when I was in the conventional land forces and I made the jump to our special operations community. Today, well I’ll get right to it… my name is Blachowicz and I am a member of the Polish Special Forces, more specifically the unit known only as Polish GROM or JW GROM. A little background for some of you… we are the lineal force based off the Silent Unseen paratroopers of my home country’s resistance during the second world war. In the modern era GROM has become one of NATO’s most elite units in our efforts alongside the American and British forces in the multi-decade global war on terror.

Me personally? Well, as of the time of writing this I’ve been in the Polish Armed Forces for just over 12 years, a solid decade of which I’ve spent as a member within GROM itself. I’ve done two tours abroad in Afghanistan, however the part that’s relevant today is my time spent combating the menace we are now fighting tooth and nail at home: in Anti-Human Trafficking operations. It pains me to say this but today, Poland has an endemic problem with human trafficking that has spread from places such as Hungary, Romania, Belarus, and Russia. It is modern day slavery, pure and simple, and they evil I have uncovered whilst fighting this pestilence has shook me to my core. When you gaze upon a hundred innocent souls, dead, who spent their final moments on this earth tortured, mutilated, and afraid… you learn there is no limit to the kind of sin man will commit against itself for gain. That is why I do not stop, why I will always keep going, and why I will always carry our flag on my shoulder. However, marching down through the circles carved by monsters living amongst us led me to… something I never dreamed of. Up until now you’re probably wondering why I have told you all of this, including my name, shattering the heritage of silent professionalism over my knee. It’s because… NATO has been fighting a secret war for decades, and our enemies aren’t human, they don’t bleed, and they assimilate all of us. The danger I found in the tenth circle corroded and formed by humanity’s greed, led me to find a hidden danger that is existential and real. The worst part is I don’t know if we’re winning… but we have to try. 

Let me start from the beginning… The fight against human trafficking is multilayered, it is a complex, horribly adapting foe that will never rest. An average of 25 million people every year are exploited by this modern servitude, kidnapped, threatened into silent surrender, and an average of 70,000 per day are done so through airports right in front of your eyes. Blending in, unable to ask for help, eyes forced forward, you would never know. Our enemies are resourceful and cunning, and as such the forces at work include intelligence, federal special agents, the local police forces… and finally if all of them are unable to neutralize a threat, extract the imprisoned, the members of JW GROM are called upon. 

If all else failed, it was up to us. 

These operations could be planned in advance but 60% were always snap missions that were done under emergency circumstances, with little time to prepare so we must always stay ready. My experience as a highly efficient team leader and my dedicated use of our methodology of “violence of action” is what had me on the roster for any of these snap response forces. More recently a month ago, the event that caught our eye was the activity of a group that had been operating near the eastern border in Podlaskie… 

The call came at around 0200, earlier than even we wake up to start our day at. Usually these alerts would be met with a bit of quip, a jovial attitude goes a long way to help process being woken up in the graveyard hours to be told you’re going to go assault through hell for the third time this month. Yet… my old captain was having none of it. The man had been around; he’d been a part of the ‘03 invasion, rotated through Afghanistan enough times to call it his second home, hell he’d been a part of eagles feather. But his tone sounded tense, i’d never seen him have to hide nerves before; “Head on in, only lead staff, don’t be late”. I started to wake up, already years of indoctrinated muscle memory had me halfway through my wake up routine as I remember groggily asking; “Everything, sir?”. The only answer I got was a shaky half inhale and “no”.

Needless to say I drove in a little faster than I had previously, the walk through our unit’s staging area at this time of the day always felt unique, exclusive… the culmination of a decade of hard work earning me the right to be apart of the upper echelon of my craft. Yet all I felt in that moment was being totally left out… and for the first time, in a long time? Nervous. Though, it didn’t stop me from smothering it as much as I could with caffeine and focus. 

You can gauge the severity and manning of the op by the amount of leaders that show up for these meetings. Compartmentalization of information; gather the leaders, make sure everything is clear, disperse it to the men, one final ramp brief before the mission, then: execution. For clarification, GROM and the conventional army work differently, our unit was a company that was composed of three 8 man direct action teams. For missions normally the average was two teams, sometimes even one, regardless of how bad things got the amount of support and training we had meant we could be used to augment an existing raid. This time? Three, all of us. Our silent stares to one another told the tale that something had gone very wrong, and someone was now up shits creek and we were gonna be the ones to have to set up an LZ in all of that. 

You could feel it, we face life threatening bodily injury and death every single mission we step into, across two hemispheres, but something was off about this one… it always felt when it came to traffickers. Leeches, vermin right on your home front, sometime’s your own countrymen, kidnapping your people and shipping them off to god knows where, to do unspeakable things for wretched people… or worse. A laptop and projector was already set up per these briefings, I was right about my captain because the man rolled in more pressed than I had seen him during firefights. I mean, that’s not hard… we excel in that environment, but that mean we were all out of our element on this one. 

He set down a folder and got right to it. 

The national police had been tracking several suspect individuals that come through Poland utilizing fake identities, operating on the trafficking network that ran into poland, through germany, from the netherlands. I don’t envy the dutch by the way, when it comes to it that place is a festering hive for trafficking, anyways… National Police had realized something was up on two main factors: the first is these men and women managed to navigate and get around multiple points of surveillance and egress in days, when diverting down back roads would have taken them weeks.

 The second part… is because they were dead, or at least on paper. This caused several of us to blink, I steeled myself as I composed my voice chirped up “Uh, could you… expand that sir?”. The captain’s eyebrows were furrowed, locked in place as he explained. All of them, upwards of 12 suspects in total… A women amongst them had been registered dying of a stroke almost 3 months prior. In Scotland 2 of the men were found dead.New Delhi, Romania, Hungary, Serbia… he opened the folders and show all of us photos of them lying dead after having been stabbed, shot, mugged, strangled. The guy from serbia died of kidney failure. And yet… there they were, verifiable on photographic evidence, and yet… in videographic evidence they were up and moving. 

How their passports and visas got approved, how they got through… I don’t know, neither did the captain nor MI. The few grainy images we had of them passing through some bus stations, traffic stops. They looked… identical, albeit hard to tell from the footage, but it looked like them. I thought maybe at the time it was just knowing they were technically listed as dead that tipped off my uncanny valley sixth sense… I would be, so very, very wrong… 

Following this National Police planned and organized a raid on a small inn they had believed was being used as a control point and safehouse for them in Podlaskie, deep in rural east poland. What followed was… well, we should be oh so very lucky it was in the isolated, rural woods… The captain opened up a folder with him and passed out several images…. Highly graphic death portraits from the aftermath. The exact information of the events is limited because 86% of the police assigned to the raid were killed. 

The police task force of several dozen policemen and women descended upon the Inn under the cover of darkness with a helicopter acting as their overwatch, with itself had thermal imaging to help accurately mark anyone on property. It’s through this helicopter we recieved all the videos and live chatter of the raid. Police secured the main road, leaving only a small dirt road leading to the rustic dark brown inn… and the dense woods at its rear. Half of the force approached from the road, while the other half was assigned to the forest. Police approach guns drawn, overwatch reported no personnel outside nor any visible windows open. The line was quiet, you could see the tense, slow yet smooth approach of the dozens of heat signatures of police as they crept through the woods. Then… one of their signatures stopped. Overwatch zoomed in on the police officer to see he seemed to be struggling with, something… some sort of “cold signature”. Then, struggling turned into gunfire as the officer began to fire off shots as they fought for control of their weapon… then with several “strikes”... their… head was nearly removed from their body. Transcripts of the radio traffic describe national police reporting immediate casualties upon encircling the back half of the Inn within a 50 meter radius. 

At the same time the road personnel quickly rushed to descend upon the front and reported no contact. The bird quickly maneuvered as overwatch was having a hard time giving accurate intel… as heat signatures of the national police were dropping left and right after coming into contact with what these  “cold signatures”… spots on their screens that came up colder than the autumn air around them, with the rough silhouettes of humans. 

The captain showed several screenshots of… what looks to be one of them being struck with a punch…. And the brutal display in ISR of a policeman’s innards flying across the forest. Yet, the road personnel received no contact at all and made entry to the Inn. The images were… varied. Entire walls of the building had been crudely torn down, bashed apart, or dug into, leaving the layout to be a messy kill house in which the national police reportedly then took fire. 

They say “took fire”, because the first member of a stack had a hole the size of a grapefruit punched through their chest… and their body armor. National Police report returning fire at personnel, however no bodies were found. All the while the forest personnel continued to be slaughtered, mistakenly firing at the Inn believing it was the source of any sort of attack and causing subsequent cases of fratricide. 

The floor of the majority of the first floor was a sickening mix of what was found later to be fecal matter and human gore… it was described as a “200 meter biohazard”. The first floor also seemed to be the holding section… a mountain of 27 bodies, all of them shoved messily, violently into garbage bags of people that had expired on the way to the Inn… or worse, filled the corner of the Inn’s L shaped architecture. Many of them were nearly hollow… Some organs were removed, but it was noted that specifically all of the blood had been drained… and all of the bones had the majority of their marrow removed through what was described as canine and human teeth and gnash marks on their limbs, bodies, torso… and the spine. The second floor had holes in it, as it seemed the sheer putrid nature of it caused it to literally burn holes through it as it seeped down, showing signs of lack of maintenance or care by the occupants. The primary center of that… extraction seemed to have taken place on the second floor where they left many hollow corpses on meat hooks. It was…. Brutal… the most recently deceased were several tourists they had tracked them snagging from west poland just days prior, who had their throats ripped out. Emergency medical personnel that arrived on scene calculated it happened no sooner than the raid starting, meaning they had performed such a brutal task, under fire, whilst being surrounded… worst of all. No suspects or culprits were found. The forest was searched, limbs, ribs… gore from the police was found everywhere, and yet, not a single one of those pieces of shit had been found.

It was one of the worst failures in our fight against trafficking, and the world knew nothing… because how could we tell them?

It’s then that the captain ended that “catch up”, but letting us know that GROM had been green lit for a raid. I’m not gonna lie, after all that? Dozens wounded, permanently out of action, others dead, torn apart, by… whatever those things were… my blood ran cold. 

Our intelligence services proved their worth as they came back immediately with an accurate target package. We narrowed down the possible locations for a fallback point and found one… near the region of Lubelskie to Poland’s southeast, just an hour outside of Lukow was a meat locker and storage plant adjacent to a small, now defunct railyard, both abandoned over 18 years ago. 50 meters long, single metal building with a small auxiliary tower previously used overlooking the desolate clearing filled with old rail cars left abandoned for over a decade and a half. Some trains ran through there but very few stopped. Its proximity to lesser known road on a main route just down the dirt path made it an excellent place for contacts and escorting traffickers to discreetly leave buses and walk down the forest road, vans to pull off- or if they were bold enough, transport anyone using rail cars they were smuggling in.

NATO has always won by defeating it’s enemy in detail, we’ve followed this philosophy even before our country’s ascension into the alliance- GROM is known as “The Surgeons” for a reason. Electronic Warfare personnel attached to us deployed dragonfly sized drones along with utilizing thermal capabilities; intelligence was the key to success, knowing what you were doing was key. Initial identification of the area before our arrival showed several figures outside of the main entrance to the meat locker building itself, with a few more at the train depot. Had you not known the reality of this, you’d have thought it was simply another day… bastards were masquerading among us, we were about to give them one hell of a wake up call.


The thing that creeped me out however was them reporting several figures sporadically throughout the woods, the windy winter day meant heat signatures lit up well… and from their posture, they seemed to somehow not only know the drone was there… but were staring at it. Any attempts to lock on or zoom it were unsuccessful and they were gone, support relegated it to equipment issues in cold temperatures. If only they were more careful… 

The raid was launched later in the day, despite the evidence that this group had a distinct advantage at night, we were second to none in the dark. Utilizing a period of high traffic coming down the road, two vans comprising of my element, 1st squad, along with 2nd squad would secure the entrance to the building as well as the area around it. 3rd Squad would cleverly arrive on train scheduled to arrive at the depot, from what I got told not all the trains that passed through were aligned with the traffickers, it was their way of hiding in plain sight and it would be our weapon to utilize against them. 

Additionally… we had a marksman acting as overwatch set up on a transmission tower to give us extra eyes on the tower and windows of the complex. Due to the lack of elevated terrain in the forest in an actionable area, he had to set up on the tower approximately half a klick from target. Regardless… this guy had performed some nasty shots and even secured a JSOC record or two, so if anyone was gonna give us clean intel and cover it was him. 

Coordinating our approach from the road with the arrival of the train, we were set to initiate our assault at the same exact time. The surreal experience of being in a concealed van, especially during a high mobility raid like this is something you have to experience… the drivers, fully kitted, tearing it down the roads while cordon tried to give us the clearest route as we all held on in the back. These vans were designed for this, custom fitted with proper seating and handrails, that being said the swerve of it as he turned onto the rough dirt road to the site definitely had us swaying. I could hear chatter from our command in my headset; “Building element has left public avenue…. 13 seconds to target…”. [“Rail element nearing target, 15 seconds to target…”]. 

[“Overwatch to Main… I have eyes on personnel in the tower”]. 

From what I can gather… our boy sitting up in that metal tower, freezing winds cutting through every layer he had on, kept to his duty. He could see a figure keeping watch on the main road we were watching, through the folder he was given of different targets, the “deceased” missing persons, and indicators he reported back; [“I have eyes on one of our missing deads, Romanian Suspect…”]. Then… even through the adrenaline of us nearing our target, what he said next made my heart launch directly into my throat; [“Target is appearing as a cold signature-”]. 

Without a second thought, command ordered [“Overwatch, you are green”]. 

Then things got… odd; [“Overwatch to main, light within the building has… disappeared. Possible short circuit…”]. 

[“Main to Overwatch, what is the status on suspect individual in the tower?”]. 

[“.... Main to Overwatch, do you successfully read my last?”]. 

[“-Roger Main, suspect individual vanished the second shot was initiated”]. 

I really wished they didn’t give me access to those comms, I get why all leaders were on them, transparency and the flow of information. Still… nothing made my blood run cold like that entire thing. I lookk to some of my men, staring at me for guidance, all I could do was white knuckle my MK18 and prepare for what was to come. Our nation needed us to be a hammer against the dark, and my men needed me to be an impermeable wall of focus- and god dammit, that’s what I was gonna be. 

Our fast mobility vans quickly tore into the gravel parking lot in front of the meat locker, the doors sliding open… my squad’s was parked farther away while 2nd’s squad’s peeled in closer, they were the cordon element for the building. They didn’t hesitate or fail to be the fastest among us, as I’ve always known them to be. With light now quickly disappearing we had our night vision down, the pitch black of the lightless forest site around us was bathed in a white and light blue sheen, every centimeter revealed to us giving our foes nowhere to hide. I lead my squad out, the lasers of our peqs quickly scanning the surrounding area as we pushed past the fast towards the front of the building. 

By this time… operators from 2nd squad wasted no time… there were two men from the cell we were hunting here, raggedy cunts who were bearded, wearing dirty jackets and pants showing they had been here for a while, but most importantly? Fear… they looked afraid as our nation’s finest surrounded them, dragging them into the dirt and ordering their silence in harsh whispers as our barrels were to their skin. Even so… I caught wind of some of their panicked babbling; 

“-You don’t understand, you can’t go in there…-”. 

“You’ll never come out…”. 

By this time the hiss of a train’s brakes broke the dim silence of the area, to the east across about a hundred meters of parked train cars, left to rot in a disgusting maze of lanes and death corners, was a concrete platform where it seemed a regular freighter was coming in to refuel. The plants they had left on the platform were nowhere near ready when the door slid open and 3rd squad emerged, yelling instead of whispering… not a single snap of a suppressed round being let loose told the tale that they capitulated. 

Due to the snow and harsh winds, close air support was unavailable, especially since operating within domestic poland made it already unfavorable. Even still we knew we needed heavy support, which came in the form of a MATV. They’re extremely up-armored four wheeled cars, weighing several tons, and providing force multiplication in the form of a M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun operated from the inside of the vehicle by one of the inhabitants. As we rushed for the door we hear the vic zoom past, sending gravel flying as they performed a full perimeter sweep around the building. We all remembered the ISR images of those police being torn apart, the assailants being able to snap bones with their bare hands, the MATV would even the odds.

Which the outside area secured with the chains of our nation’s special operations, 2nd squad’s lead called in [“Condition White”]. I motioned for my breacher to prepare a charge, a pre-made strip of demo charge made to blow the locks off a conventional door. Knowing that the garage doors would either be locked tight or rusted beyond entering, we knew we would have to smash the solid metal ones… and thus, the due diligence of my squad and I ensured that nothing was gonna stop us when he placed it onto the entrance and hit that activator, the hiss of the electricity racing towards the explosive as all of us pushed back around corners and farther down the front of the building. Just as always… look away and exhale. 

The shake of the blast snapped everyone’s senses awake and alive, I led from the front as my squad split in two, flowing through the door and into the breach as any ambient light quickly faded into total darkness, making our nods our lifeline against whatever vicious defenders were inside. 

Regardless we pushed through, a methodical rush as we cleared what was a large open floor stretching from one end of the building to the other. Between the shadows that smothered us and the putrid, gag inducing stench of rot, I don’t know what was worse. Rusted and decrepit work stations and machines, forming a labyrinth of dead space and kill corners, all needed to be clear and every single one needed to be navigated uniquely. With all our, whilst trying not to drop any security against an enemy we all remembered tearing apart those officers on ISR. Nerves were high…

As we neared the end of our sweep of the ground floor, no signs of anything, one of my men… my breacher who was right behind me whispered; “This place is inactive, right?”. I looked over a bit confused, then saw what was undoubtedly causing this smell… right in plain sight, yet we were too busy securing the building to notice. On different parts of the machine dripping down onto the floor to create a horrid, septic sludge on different parts of the floor were organs, slabs of meat, steaming in the cold air and left out to rot and putrefy. “Fucksakes…” is all I could get out as we neared the end of the long stretch that was the ground floor, only to hear one of my men from the left round a particularly large machine running perpendicular to the floor, acting as a wall… yell; “HANDS! HANDS! HANDS!”. 

I sprinted up quick as fuck, the whole squad closing in as we pushed through the last… standing near a series of doors, facing the back wall of the building was an individual. Old white wool traditional clothing stained in… I don’t want to know what, it was dark, steam coming off it. He had a hand against the wall bracing him as he spat out gore onto the floor. He stood up, turning towards us… he stared at everyone, then at me… 

An old gray beard on a worn tan face, cuts and scars lining his skin as he stood upright facing me, his eyes… they reflected. 

Eyes aren’t supposed to reflect. 

I was so… entranced? Stunned? I was so mentally staggered by this that I barely noticed him reach into one of his pockets and draw a handgun. Small, square, it was a Glock, there was no mistaking it, possibly a 17 or 19 depending on the sides- details I remembered as one of my men and I fired into him, tearing apart the front of his chest as he fell to the ground. Immediately we pushed towards the last sets of rooms, actual locker units themselves, as two of my men flipped him over, zipcutting his hands as I cleared his weapon. It actually was a Glock 17, Generation 4, guess my perception isn’t lacking with age… or stress. 

Then, the sounds of sprinting from upstairs could be heard as, causing several of my men pulling rear security to aim, trying to find the source of running. Nothing… then, from below… a scream, deep, gutteral… nothing a human let loose and I swear my ribs and organs were shaking from whatever decibels it spoke in. I quickly bagged the gun as evidence, at this time Overwatch reported in. 

[“Overwatch to Main, I just caught sight of a cold signature sprinting past the catwalk windows. I say again, there are cold signatures inside of the building”]. 

I froze cold, analyzing everything around me… my breacher worked to pry open the meatlocker doors whilst some of the others still scanned the empty catwalks for any signs of life. I looked up and around, nothing. It was clear whatever we had done had backed them into a corner, 2nd squad was still clearing the outside with 3rd squad… until then? We were on our own, the building was our OBJ and we had to secure it. 

The snap of metal and a handle falling to the floor told me my men had breached into the lockers and… honestly I wish we hadn’t. Dark red organic material poured out from the floor the second it opened, mimicking stains on the floor you would have thought was just rust at a first flance. Inside.. Blood, bile, hooks hanging from a small square room as human remains were stacked like bricks, neatly organized, processed… This caused a pause in everyone who was there among us, all of us double taking as we looked at each other to ask… is this really what the hell we’re seeing right now? Yeah… it was. I looked down at the floor, the blood seemed to stick to our boots and… as I lifted up to look at the underside, I swear I could see whatever parasitic compound was in it… leech off like little tendrils, reaching at anything. I quickly dragged and kicked it all off on the metal floor, muttering “-don’t let this shit touch you”. 

The adrenaline in my system caused my hand to shake as I grabbed my push to talk; [“Bravo 2-1 to Main, Ground Floor Secured, SITREP as follows; One EKIA…. Over one dozen cadavers inside of meat locker near north side end”]. 

There was a long moment, uncharacteristic of a TOC as they undoubtedly processed this; [“Main to Bravo 2-1, Understood, are you able to continue unto subterranean objective?”]. 

I thought of all the people who had been killed, everyone this monster had taken, and everything we had just seen between the two doors of this cursed building. I looked to the basement door; [“Roger Main, Building element maneuvering down”]. 

We quickly reached the door, adjacent to the locker as one of my men pulled it open the others flowing in to reveal a small open area just before a stone stairwell leading down into the depths. The second we did is when we heard them… 

A voice which was probably supposed to be a female in her mid twenties spoke, her words forced together as it felt like someone was trying to puppeteer to us an adversary; “-You’re hiding behind all of that equipment. We can see you thrice as clearly as you believe you can see us”. My uncanny valley meter was off the fucking charts as more of them, all the same genre of fucked up meat puppet continued to scream from the impermeable darkness below.

“Die!!! DIE!!!! DIE!!!”. 

“Come down here, come join us…”. 


 Far below, a concrete floor and shadowy doors was all I and my men could see… in a delicate situation that came with Traffickers and hostages, which required scalpable means, a negotiable approach was needed, everytime. We didn’t know what they were, but if it meant even one person who was still down there, we needed to try. “You will release the hostages and proceed with your hands up, now-” I yelled, only for the snap of a gunshot to echo tremendously off the closed walls of the underground, zipping past as we took fire. My gunner returned fire, shooting his belt fed back into the darkness and causing a horrific screech to emit. Well… guess negotiations had failed. 

The member of my squad who brought the ballistic shield, this heavy, bulky obstruction that weighed about as much as an engine block quickly took to the front and slowly we made our way down. As we did… suddenly, the tension of everything let loose as we neared the middle of the stairwell, as from the darkness we heard a set of footsteps. Skin slapping the concrete floor as a figure dead sprint at us with no fuckin’ weapon, her hair was dark, oily, ivory white skin contrasting… reflective eyes. Immediately she slammed into our shieldbearer, this man who was around 6’2 himself, built like a tank, carrying enough ballistic weave to stop a magazine, shook as this deranged psychotic woman slammed into him. She clawed at the shield and I could see some of the outer fabric and material rip off… as she then seems to toss him back… over her shoulder, the hulking mass of shield and Polish Army Special Forces might slamming into the bottom floor of the hallway. 

However I didn’t have any time to spare for him as she immediately lunged at me, her teeth horribly jagged and deformed, snapped and snarled as I muzzle thumped her in the collar bone. Despite the forged steel barrel slamming into her fuckin’ bones, she didn’t stop… probably wouldn’t have, if my machine gunner didn’t open fire. The 7.62 tearing apart her neck and shoulder, the parasitic blood from before flying onto one of the walls as she stumbled and fell back messily. We pushed past her, rifles raised as we quickly moved to close in on our injured comrade. To his credit… he shrugged off the toss… that was until incoming fire from an adjacent door to our left, his front, caught him in the shoulder causing him to scream… before he was dragged out from behind through the door to our right. 

“Move!! Move!! Move!!” I yelled, queue for my squad that weapons were fullyfuckin’released and that it was time to either secure the area, or die. Violence of action taking hold as my breacher and 3 of my squad peeled into the left room, gunfire emitting as my gunner and I flowed into the door to our right. What I saw gave me pause, as two individuals… I can’t call them human, stood over my fallen comrade, pointed ears and skin pale to the point of being gray, jagged teeth cutting through and poking out the torn up flesh to their mouths. The second we entered… the one that had a grip on my shield man, white knuckling his right arm… tore it from it’s socket. 

He screamed bloody murder as his blood went flying about, it then tossed his limb at me as some sort of challenge. 

We answered… gunfire erupted as we pushed forward, our gunner wasting no time in sawing one of them in half, as my MK18 struggled to put down that fuckin’ bastard. His gaunt features and face seemed to smirk at me as he marched forward, as he raised his hands to try and grab me… his nails seemed to have been sharpened as his jagged bones poked from the flesh of his fingers, worn down past the point of no return. Yet, finally… it fell to the ground. Quickly my gunner pulled security as the battles for the other rooms continued. The fighting in the room to our left subsided as my men yelled and rushed for the two others, meanwhile… I try to comfort my soldier, placing a tourniquet and stopping the bleed as we sat him up against the back wall.  

Then… as fighting began to occur in the room just across from us… the plaster and wood of the wall exploded, showering all three of us as one of my GROM Operators was throwing straight through. I could feel the air knocked out of him as he damn near tripped me, from the breach as another one of our comrades fired at a more of them…. Emerged a heftier one, the same gray, putrid skin lined his body as muscles seemed to rip through the flesh at the surface. It’s reflective eyes scanning us like an apex predator as it tore more material from the wall as it stepped through.

Then… all of us fired. I stepped off to the left, opening fire as my gunner did as well, shit I mean I had to drop a mag and slap in a new one, hitting the bolt release home as it continued to try and walk towards us. Gray flesh and muscle tearing away as it seemingly walked towards us with no issue. Everyone was firing me, my gunner, the man he had thrown got his bearings as he just switched to full auto and dumped whatever he had in his magazine into the thing, even the shield bearer had managed to draw his pistol and fired. 

After emptying what seemed to be half our mission load into it… it staggered… falling to the ground as it’s disgusting blood leaked onto the floor and… it still continued to crawl. I lunged forward… grabbing my ankle and squeezing with enough force to make me curse… that was until I fired the final shots that caved it skull it. After pulling my boot from it’s grip.. The kicking it in an unprofessional manner, I gazed around, the gunfire had ceased. “1st squad, status!!”. 

A chorus of voices called back, first my breacher “Rooms secure!!”. Then another, “I’ve got two down here, weapons secured”. “Anyone need Aid and Litter?” our assigned CLS guy answered. “Got one in this room!!” I yelled back, without hesitation he entered, nearly tripping on the hulking monster we had just fought before kneeling before our shield bearer. “Better days, huh?” he quipped as the shield man shrugged, tilting his head. Then one of my men called out from the farthest back room “Blachowicz, I need you here!!”.

After ordering the man thrown through the wall to stay with the other two, my gunner and I quickly headed over. As we entered… we had to keep from slipping on the blood or tripping over the bodies. The dead, some the assailants we had fought but most… people, lined the floor in messy, crude, cruel manners as two GROM Operators stood amongst it, the multicam of their pants stained with the blood of the innocent as we gazed around. One of them nodded to me then… gestured over to a corner… 

There was one survivor, a girl… maybe 5 or 6 sat… shaking as her white dress was soaked in red iron. I quickly walked over, slinging my rifle as I flipped up my nods and pulled down on my balaclava. Her gaze seemed to soften a bit once she saw I wasn’t like… the things that had captured her, yet she still continued to remain the corner. I quickly called in [“Condition Black, I say again, Condition Black… Break”]. I took a deep breath; [“Bravo 2-1 to Main, prepare for Sitrep… 1 wounded - Urgent, 8 EKIA, 1 Hostage rescued”]. Then… TOC seemed to break form a I could hear a sigh over the net; [“Repeat last…. One… hostage recovered?”]. [“Roger, female, approximately 5 years old, condition physically fine, heavily shaken…”]. With that I…. picked her up, and carried her out. The AAR was… disturbing. Unlike previous missions where my men and I were tasked with securing everything, plans changed as another team from GROM immediately secured the scene. I remember barely walking out of that hellhole back into the open clean air, 2nd Squad shocked to see how much gore all of us were covered in and then… immediately the girl was scooped from my arms by a medical unit, and all of us were ordered to exfil. We were given a hefty amount of time off, 2 weeks to ourselves and our families, and nothing else… no true AAR, nothing. That was until I was told to meet at my command’s office the next morning, by a commander of a separate unit. 

I didn’t know what to expect but as always, I put on my uniform cleaned myself up and reported in. I entered that meeting room alone to see no one but a major, a smaller man, hair swept back, stubble matching the piercing gaze he had looking out of the window… then to me. He quickly walked over, shaking my man and commending me for “-your perseverance in that hell hole… great word, Sergeant”. His accept was that of someone from the southeast, not uncommon especially among careerists, and judging from the stress lines on his forehead and scars lining his left cheek, he had seen his fair share of horror.

All I could do was nod and thank him, however the Major whose nametape read “Krol” waved off such formalities as “The things we are fighting won’t wait for us to stand on ceremony, Blachowicz”.

I knew what he was referring to but I still asked “Things?”. 

He then gestured me to sit down… and passed me a folder, and laid out everything. “The bite marks seen on the bodies on the inn match the dental reports from the combatants you killed at Lukow. Temparture signatures of the cold targets were around the same as the bodies, the only warmth was from the rounds you and your squad put in them. As little as 16 and as most as an entire magazine… The average human can survive only 5 rounds, 8 with body armor”. Krol’s words caused a pit to form in my stomach, I knew we were taking way too long to put any of them down. He continued; “-You also collected and encountered blood from the site, with unknown properties?” he asked, his hands folded at his mouth, eyes staring deep into my soul. I could tell all the worries and theories I had formed, were well known by this Major. “Yes sir…”.“Did any get on you? Any at all?”. “No sir”. 

Major Krol nodded, he slid the pictures away and showed me a dossier, a target package folder, not on one specific person but on an entire group… he looked me in the eyes and said; “What you encountered there was a parasitic species that is utilizing the human trafficking network as a nervous system for their motives, a group that has existed in europe for centuries, maybe even longer… Something that has plagued poland ever since the Black Death reaped our lands…”.

I raised an eyebrow, silently waiting as my hand slightly shook, Krol pointed to the name at the top; “-Current modern translation is… Strigoi. My unit has been tasked with taking them out and we are very experienced in combating them”. Then… questions formed, ones the Major didn’t hesitate to answer; “So… why did my company get assigned and not you?”, his response was… nerveracking: “They’ve infiltrated everything… tourism, transportation, probably even the police. GROm for all it seems remains vigilant and secured, however politicians and administration that inform us and dispatch us… are compromised as well, likely to try and feed as many of us into a meat grinder as they could. However luckily for us our anchor remains one step ahead”. 

I rubbed my eyes trying to come to terms with all of this, the Major offered me a cigarette… i accepted it. “I don’t want to drag too many of your men over, compartmentalization has kept my unit secured, however… you had quite the career before walking into Lukow and your experience in overcoming that darkness is invaluable. Our unit is underfunded, undersupported, not just due to infiltrators but general paranoia, reasonable doubts, and those working with them…”.

My eyes shot open “These things… kill our people, harvest them, and some of us work with them?”. Krol gave an exhausted, jaded shrug “Greed corrupts all… but regardless. I would like to bring you in, and hopefully, more… we need to grow our base against this darkness, Blachowicz. Besides… you’re likely to be targeted because you killed so many”. It seemed I didn’t have a choice, and even then… what choice was there to make? These demons were targeting my people, rounding them up like cattle and slaughtering them… they needed to be targeted. Someone had to make them afraid of the dark…

I looked to Krol and nodded, shaking his head the last thing the Major and I said as strangers was; “Welcome to Detachment Echo, Sergeant Blachowicz”. 

[Entry 2]

Blachowicz here.

It’s been a bit since my last entry but I have been busy… considerably busy. Truth be told the experience has been unexpectedly enlightening in ways I hadn’t really considered. Having around a decade of experience in the maneuvering response element that is GROM, everyone usually has a certain skill base they’re assigned to and then they branch off from there. I was a designated marksman, what you could call a “sniper” but… no one in actually calls us that.

One of the biggest things drilled into my mind by my leadership early on was attention to detail, moreso than everyone else in an already critical environment. Observation… environmental details, body language, far off structures and figures, any rapid change in previous patterns. From there I was supplemented with breaching skills, advanced medical schooling for trauma care and immediate action in the field, and more. Many different companies will have a special mission set to them… some mandate that everyone passes through advanced diving courses, others through recon, some even High Altitude Low Orbital training. Coming to Detachment Echo however was… an eye opener into how they do things.

Once you are “in the know” about the Strigoi, having been inducted into this shunned and secretive subunit of my nation’s most elite force, they ensure you know everything. Their history and migration patterns… from Romania and the northern Balkans, to Croatia, Germany, and their ongoing invasion of Poland. The scale is… staggering; there is no known number of cells or groups, only the nervous system they use in terms of rail networks, tourist routes, synergizing so deep into the trafficking network persisting in Europe Krol believes not even the man among them know what is going on… and when the do? Well, they aren’t around for long. That is just one of many arteries they overtake… “parasitic” is an apt word. So… I’ve spend a considerable time getting caught up on my new weapons of war; advanced chemical research, reloading shotgun shells with salt and buckshot dipped in holy water. Though as Krol himself says; “-They’re a good additive, but ultimately they die the same way as anything else does”.

During my first few days at Echo, I got a peak at my first autopsy of one of those… things. We were in a backroom of our compound, the cadaver was carried in a black body bag by two members of Echo and dropped onto the table. One of our medics gloved and masked up, a singular look over to me as he warned “don’t inhale” with a chuckle before unzipping… I wish I hadn’t, even before I saw the thing I smelt it, a level of rot that burnt the inside of my nostrils and made me feel like I was inhaling septic fumes. The pigmentation of the skill had fully mutated into a murky gray, bordering on colorless much like a body after its blood had stopped pumping. Nutrients of the skin seemed to have either been absorbed or removed somehow, as it pulled tightly against it’s muscles, splitting open in some areas to reveal rotten tendon and meat. The fingers were a mix of sharp claws, or skin that had seemed to have been armored up with some… black callus type of texture. Our medic showcased this as he roughly cut through one of the black finger tips with a scalpel… a black blood type ooze dripping out, thick like molasses as it poured onto the table. Yet even as that thing remained dead… it still moved, he placed a wooden sample stick into the substance and I watched it reach out, attempting to crawl up it until it lost its volume and was bagged up by him.

I was at a loss for words as Major Krol took a puff of his cigarette, turning his head towards me; “-remember when I said to not let any of it touch you?” he asked a rhetorical question as he gestured towards the ichor.

“So is this some sort of Pathogen? An infection?” I asked,. Krol shakes his head, pulling on a set of latex gloves, his cigarette dangling between his lips; “the properties of their blood are a symptom of their mutation but… they aren’t bound by science. They’re as old as Europe herself…. But so are we”.

He then grabbed one side of the thing’s head, I could hear the dead flesh squish underneath his fingers as it turned to look at me; the eyes were dark, red blood that had almost turned completely black soaking them as the center remained an ill white. It seemed as if the irish, everything in the center that gave it personality had been completely erased, revealing a singular dot the color of milky white… probably the source of the glow if I had to guess.

“They’re no longer one of us, Blachowicz….” Krol stated, locking eyes with me I could see every painful day of the decades he had been fighting them, demanding I understand so I could avoid being a casualty of this unknown war. “There is no cure, no way back… the only thing we can do is put them all down and ensure it does not spread further. They’re going to show you no quarter, so show them on, understood sergeant?”.

I nodded, what else was there to say?

What else could I suggest?

The circumstances were terrible, brutal… maddening, the next several months of indoctrination included seeing the lengths of this combat against our foes first hand. “Cattle depots” designed as drop off points by smugglers for the trafficking ring turned into slaughterhouses that saw people, humans… dissected, sorted, and… “processed”- I will not be elaborating on what that last term means. Interception missions to interdict abductions conducted by them are always short notice, in the dead of night or beginning of dusk, and are always down to the wire. But… all of it under the backdrop of so many dead. I don’t know how it hasn’t gotten out, why it isn’t seen… but that’s the world we live in today. So many people suffer, die, it’s become mundane, corruption and evil has been allowed to persist so this ancient enemy has no problem adapting to circumstances in it’s favor. No matter how endless it seems, we can’t let them win… we won’t.

A chilling revelation came a few weeks ago when recent raids had produced a single message. I would love to sit here and tell you the Strigoi are mindless animals, that they’re beasts, they are consistently outsmarted and rely on numbers alone. That is frustratingly Incorrect, past encounters and evidence shown… so when we arrive at a place they’ve already fled from, the majority of the time everything is either taken with or smashed. So when we kicked in the door to an old underground grain storage area, the walls lined with nothing but rust and dried… I don’t know what, and all that’s left on a table being human teeth, hair, and a note, we knew it was intentional. In old Romanian it read; “-one day you fury will fade, one day the heat in your souls will relent, one day when cold takes you we will be there to welcome you”.

You didn’t have to be one step ahead against an enemy you had surrounded, just where to prod, where to slice, and where to retreat. They believed they could outlast us… we were gonna prove them wrong, even if we had to win this thing to the last Strigoi.

Our most recent operation was one that definitely displayed the gravity of our situation… Like I said previously, most of what the Strigoi do is unknown because they systematically euthanize and assimilate all those who become aware, and those who do, don't last too long. This made gathering information extremely hard considering most of the time our intelligence was skewed, it’s hard to fight a war when you don’t know where, when, how, or why. That being said our luck came when a town far towards the southeast border had reportedly captured a coyote who had turned himself in. All of the senior leaders of Echo were huddled around the table, myself included, as Krol laid out the details; “-supposedly he was hired to ensure refugees coming from Belarus made it through, where they would be taken to a bus depot, and eventually sent enroute to Spain…”. A few mundane shots of a breach in our mighty eastern perimeter, along with cross referencing images of the coyote himself on the CCTV in a city center near.

“That is… until he led them to the Bus Depot, he gets his money and leaves… goes back because he realized he was being short changed…” Krol says, reading out the report written by the local police themselves. “-...He then said, all of them had been led into the bay area… where they were being slaughtered. Men, women, children… all of them. The contacts who had previously been of the living, suddenly bore jagged teeth, and tore into the people he had helped ferry hundreds of kilometers…”.

“He managed to outrun the Strigoi?” one of the team leads asks, “barely… kept running for hours on end until he gets to a small rural village, unluckily for him it’s one that is well aware of our enemy’s tactics and goals. They’re refusing to hand him over to National Police because of the dangers of infiltrators so… we’re going to collect him ourselves”. One of the communications sergeants sits forward; “The village is secure? Still loyal to Polska?”. Major Krol nodded “The police chief there is an old friend of Echo, he’s already enacted curfews and perimeters within the town. Even if the enemy is closing in, that is one safe haven we can still count on”.

And so… the plan was set, we’d be leaving for the village to collect the coyote as soon as possible. The terrain around the village was dense, you don’t know forests until you’ve been to Poland. The trees sometimes grow no father than an arm’s length apart, this meant there was absolutely nowhere to land if we came in from the air. Thus we had to travel by road… we weren't going unprepared. Everyone could feel it, the eyes of the Strigoi were all centered on that small hamlet and the forests were their nucleus to be able to maneuver. Thus Major Krol ordered for us to move in a full convoy that included 6 “Cougar” MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle).

Though we’ve been working on our home brew, the american “cougars” worked extremely well in terms of armor density, a crow system mounted above allowing the gunner for whatever weapon system was mounted to be safely inside, along with seating 6 per vic. Though… having been in one in country, they can get extremely cramped especially when packed to the brim with all our gear. However this was a mobility op: infil as fast as our multiton convoy of death would allow, grab the target, exfil as quickly as possible; no room for error or time for slowdowns. I was in the lead vehicle accompanying Krol himself, until I got assigned my own team, he wanted me riding with him as part of his personal detail. While the Major rode up front with his driver, I was seated in the back alongside a gunner who held his M249 close, along with a comms sergeant in charge of maintaining auxiliary radio traffic with the rest of the convoy. Ontop of all of this we were to wear our biohazard equipment, the americans call it “MOPPE”. Though ours is a bit of a hybrid from the conventional CBRN suit with the boots, gloves, hood… a protective gortex multicam outer shell wore to protect us from any infection black blood, combined with M50 “Protector Masks” or just “promasks”. It made things cumbersome, we had to control our breathing which in our operations was… easier said than done. However, it gave us the edge of protection against the very real parasitic properties of the Strigoi.

I had been put in charge of the main gun… a browning M2A1 .50 caliber machine gun, mounted on a “CROWS”, a remote operating system that allows the gun to be controlled from within by a joystick and panel. Being the front vehicle, my job was to watch the front of the convoy… That several hours long drive through the long winding forest roads was tense, my grip on the gun controls not loosening as I scanned the road ahead. The ISR view displayed any heat amongst the cold winter forest… but that’s the thing, we weren’t looking for any heat signatures. My mind still thought back to those cold signatures… flashing, moving, hunting, able to close the distance in seconds. Several tons of armor and a machine gun that could cut through a building mounted on top, and yet I still felt a chill run down my spine as I realized they were probably out there, and they had probably been watching us since the start of our mission.

“We’re nearing the town, look alive” Krol says through the grainy, repeated words on his masks’ voice amplifier, stirring everyone as the gunner quickly looked out the side windows. The comms sergeant immediately jumped on his channel, as the convoy slowed to a halt as we reached the entrance to the village. Between the two walls of dense forest around us, the dirt road was cut off by a police convoy.

Lights flashing as simple barricades stood in front of us and our objective. I scanned each and every single one of those officers that stood before us… all of them came up normal, no cold signatures, yet they simply stood there. Krol knocked a few times on the console, signaling for the back ram of the MRAP to be dropped. “Blachowicz, cover us” he said, the gunner followed the Major out as he exited the MRAP, walking up to the convoy. I couldn’t hear what was said over the loud hum of the MRAP’s engines and though the several dozen millimeters of armor, but I could tell it was tense. The police did not relent in letting the colonel through, as the gunner stood beside, watching for any movements. If these people were in the know about what was going on… who could blame them for letting Paranioa absorb their mind? Attacks, abductions, and now a bunch of armed and masked soldiers roll up in enough firepower to level the whole damn town. That being said, we still have a job to do.

When one of them took a step towards Major Krol… I centered the gun’s reticle on them, the sound of which seemed to scare them back as they realized what was aiming at them. Then… a leader among the police emerged… walking up to the Major they both shook hands and I could easily make out that that was probably the police chief. As the Major quickly walked back to the MRAP, the door opened as I could hear the lawman bark at his men to move their barricades.

“Why the resistance? I thought they were waiting for us?” I asked Krol as the MRAP sealed back up; “Locals around here are very superstitious, muffled hysteria to the fullest extent, it’s kept them alive all things aside. We roll in with the arsenal of god itself, they think we’re coming here to put a boot on their neck. Don’t worry… they won’t stop us, just smile and nod… they’re still our country men” Krol reassured.

I didn’t like this… this felt more like a KLE in the afghans rather than traveling through our home; this plague, the Strigoi, they were dividing us and destroying our society from the inside out. They didn’t even need to do everything, just sit and let us argue and destroy ourselves.

We maneuvered through the village which was a snapshot from an older time, old style stone and wooden houses build amongst paved roads, roofs were a mixture of wood and old traditional tiles. All the while we rode on the inside of our billion dollar chariots, the white noise of heavy engines and breathing through our masks the only thing that set the stage for our arrival. “Set us up near the church, the T intersection just in front of it” Krol ordered, his driver complied but asked “Towards the very back, sir?”. He nodded stating “they are less likely to attack holy ground”.

“Wouldn’t that mean they also know where we are gonna set in, sir?” I asked.

“Yes” the Major said, pulling on his helmet and locking on his ear protection mounted to the side. Setting up along the front of the church which was towards the eastern end of the village. The ramps dropped as we stepped out into the cold forest air, the layers of gear and gortex the only thing protecting us from the coming frost of the night we were trying to outrace as we secured and cordoned off the T intersection. Setting up our vehicles in a defensive posture as Echo took up security around the church. It creeps into my mind everyday, the idea of us being attacked from every angle… anyone. No matter what we did, we were the best of the best, but these things didn’t follow the conventional laws of the world. Our movements would always be telegraphed, so our tenacity had to be greater than theirs.

The priest came out to greet us as Major Krol took the lead, the old man walking down the stone steps, past the small wooden fence of the church as he shook his hand. He kissed the armored oakley knuckles of Krol’s gloves as he spoken in a broken, old age version, it was clear age combined with stress had not treated the man of god well. “I… thank you for arriving. I am worried they are already surrounding us, the streets are infiltrated at night as our warriors did all they could to stave them off for your arrival” he says. My eyes followed his to what he was referring to… the local police, carrying around rifles and weapons per their chief’s ordered. Though even as some joined us in setting up security, others eyed us… as did many townsfolk… one of whom was this woman. She stood in the middle of the road, a blue and white dress, blonde hair, she seemed to be looking at us… at me. When I looked to her she walked off, down the walkway of one of the house’s out of site.

My mind was drawn back to the present by the Major’s orders: “You’re going to be fine, sir….” Krol said as he pat the man on the back. Shortly after our peltors boomed to life as he spoke on the leader’s comms; [“1st and 3rd squad, remain here and secure the area… Break”].

[“-2nd squad you’re with me”] he said, turning to me he gestured for me to follow; “You too Blachowicz, lets’ go”.

As we moved down the dirt road on the edge of town away from our comrades, the buildings were to our right as the woods remained to our left. I didn’t take my eyes off it, the trees, the impermeable fortress of our enemy. They were in there, waiting, probably until the already setting sun fell below the horizon. The Strigoi had proven to be as intelligent as they were malicious, and their cruelty had no fuckin’ limit. Flashing lights could be seen as one of the police vehicles from the blockade out of town pulled up, the chief hurrying out to join the Major as we headed for the police station. It was a simple single story gray and blue building, though weather and disrepair had rendered the blue almost completely gone. Built on a slight incline we could see the yellow lights from within illuminating the evening dark around us.

“Has he talked yet?” Krol asked, the chief nodded: “Plenty. Though I told him to save it until you arrived, he’s spouted many details… I’ve had them all written down and secured. He seems to believe they’ve penetrated the town’s perimeter at night-”.

“So does the priest” the leader of 2nd squad quipped, to which the chief shook his head “No, my nightwatch reports back nothing. The Strigoi is attempting to offput us by making us believe we are surrounded. I don’t care what they’ve done to the cities, our home has not fallen yet”.

“God willing” Krol muttered, the chief led us into the station as the 2nd Squad leader, “Echo-2” ordered a few of his men which included his Machine Gunner to stay in the lobby to help keep the entrance secured. Whilst some of the officers went about their duties, others stared at us… we were the well armed, questionably supplied, multicam crusaders entering their town. Who could blame them for being a bit suspicious… but then again, we were their only hope. “-If these guys keep eyeing me up like they are, they’re catching one on our way out” one of GROM operators muttered as we headed to the detention level below. Major Krol immediately snapped at him, ordering him to keep his mouth shut.

Tension was rising, no one liked this, and the light was running out quicker than our patience. I could hear the outside squads communicating on comms whilst we maneuvered; [“Echo-1 to 3, have your vic scan the twins trees, direction 106 degrees”].

[“Echo-3 I copy… nothing”].

[“Echo-1 to Echo-Lead, when does curfew begin?”].

The chief quickly knocked on the basement doors, all of us standing in the cramped stairwell, quickly gaining claustrophobia as Krol answered; [“Lead to 1, 9 mikes…”].

[“Echo-1 to Echo-Lead, I copy… be advised, we have an increasing amount of greenfor watching us still”]. I looked to Krol who focused on his progress with the chief, then… my eyes met Echo-2’s through the lenses of our masks. We were getting cased by the Strigoi, the townsfolk… the world. Finally the door to the cell area unlocked: a single hallway full of dozens of cells, in the cramped concrete basement area of the rural jail greeted us as we had barely a two person wide area to walk through.

“Has he been fed?” the chief asked the guard on watch, to which he nodded “yes sir, he’s ready”. We needed to get out of here, we needed to grab this son of a bitch, and leave before our enemies claws tightened further around us. My anticipation grew as Krol and the chief hurried towards the cell at the end… then, a pit in my stomach formed as the chief’s eyes went wide as he shouted: “w-... What?! What the fuck?!”. Krol’s eyes lit up with rage as lean towards the bars, being just behind him, I caught a glimpse of the coyote. Or… what was left of him.

Sitting back against the wall on his bed, the man had his chest slashed into and damn near hollowed out, causing his body to slump forward only slightly. The gray walls, white sheets, and worn stone floor were all painted with blood, gore, flesh, and innards as it was clear had been torn into. He wasn’t just murdered, he was executed. My hand tightened on the pistol grip of my rifle as I stared at the sight, the others with us quickly looking around as Krol’s head snapped to the police chief: “What the fuck is this?!”.

“I don’t know” the chief said, he turned back to the guard on watch asking, “Was there a breach-”.

He would never get his answer or fully finish his sentence as someone opened fire into the chief, impacting his head, chest, and neck as the traitor messily unloaded on him, my eyes quickly snapped to the to see the shooter. The officer who had let us in: his pistol being held limply in his hand, all training gone as I looked to see… blackened veins, skin splitting at the cellular seams, a set of dark red eyes. It must have been mere nanoseconds, I had just turned away from him, and now here he was… it was.

We had been betrayed; I was less than a foot away from the police chief when the 9mm round tore through the front of his head, my face painted with the mess of his gray matter as we all snapped to react in that cramped hallway. The Echo-2 quickly tried to raise his rifle, but caught a round directly in his plate dropping him and causing him to stumble back into me, the both of us damn near laid out as the hallway echoed with close quarters gunfire. Major Krol and several of the others however reacted, unloading a salvo of suppressed gunshots that snapped in the dead air. It took rounds to the chest, head, shoulders, pelvis, being rendered physically incapable of moving as it slumping them instantaneously to the ground as silence took us.

Then… gunfire erupted from the floor above, then outside.

Our comms lit up;

[“Echo-2 Sierra to Lead, we are taking contact-”].

[“Echo-3 to 1, I’ve got multiple cold signatures at our eight, six, and three O’clock”].

[“This is Echo-1 I copy… Wait”].

“This place is-... fucking compromised!!!” 2nd squad’s leader growled as I helped him up, checking his place to ensure the armor caught the round. It did… that didn’t stop him from damn near hacking up his lungs from the impact. Krol remained silent, staring down at his old friend he shut the one eye still remaining intact, reaching into his pocket and recovering the notes from the interrogation. Yet… a long look of remorse blanketed his face.

Fighting still continued as we could hear it echoing through the concrete structure… then… heavy automatic fire from far off.

I knew that sound.

The thunderous chain of booms of .50 cal as it fired off at distant targets.

Our MRAPS were firing at something, our comms lit up soon after; [“Echo-1 to Echo-Lead, we are taking contact!! Multiple infiltrators within the town!! We are actively taking fire from local law enforcement!! We are fighting to maintain our perimeter”].

“Sir?” I asked, Major Krol finally snapped back and stood up, shoving the book beneath his plate carrier as he chambers checked his M4; [“Echo-Lead to Echo 1 and 3, we are maneuvering back to your position. Defend yourselves at all costs, I say again, if you are attacked, shoot the fuck back”]. We quickly hurried towards the door only to be met with the sound of gunfire as assailants hurried down the stairs, 9mm rounds cracked off as we quickly dove into open cells, using the concrete walls for cover as the metal door became riddled. A local police man quickly kicked open the door, hurrying in and firing off his pistol at us. Even as our rounds tore through his arms, pierced his torso, he still continued to stare at us with intense hatred… as his blinding white pupils surrounded by the bloodborne plague in his eyes gazed at us, hissing with jagged teeth.

“Fuck you!!” the 2nd squad leader yelled as he fired at the cop, flicking his weapon to full auto and removing his head with a burst of 5.56. Then, we finally saw one of them… slinking and maneuvering through the railings like a lightning fast creature of gray flesh and rot, a Strigoi wearing tattered police clothes rushed us. The Echo-2 braced himself with his rifle, keeping the snapping jaws just centimeters away from his face. Luckily his breacher came to his aid, the GROM Operator firing off his shotgun at the knee and pelvis of the creature, dropping it to the ground helplessly as he canoed the demonic entity’s head with a blast of 12 gauge buckshot. A few other GROM Operators joined me as I pushed up, clearing the rest of the hallway in a rolling T as Major Krol was right behind us.

Painfully we fought our way up the stairs, a few of our guys taking unlucky grazes on the shoulders and sides from the turned cops. Yet it didn’t stop us… they had the numbers, they had us trapped, but we had superior lethality and aggression, showcasing it every single step of the way as we cut through them like a scythe.

Pushing back to the main floor we quickly rushed in to see.. One hell of a sight. It seems not all of the police had been turned… a single local law enforcer tried to fight off one of the Strigoi as it grabbed him by the front, pushing him to the ground. I raised my Mk18 but I wasn’t fast enough, it tore into his neck, slashing at his chest, as a mixture of black and red blood coated the ground. I quickly fired off rounds, slamming the trigger of my rifle as I riddled the head of that thing… yet it didn’t stop, no it only stopped when three of us fired into it collectively. We topped off our magazines, I had to drop mine as the polymer connected with the blood soaked tile.

More bodies lined the hallway heading towards the lobby… as we pushed forward, 2nd squad’s machine gunner, who had been left up here to provide security, charged one of the Strigoi, slamming it directly into the wall causing it to hiss and growl. The guy was a fuckin’ unit, a true monster and it was hilarious seeing him wrestle as he smacked the god damn demon with the full weight of his 249. He then fired into it, none of us needed to assist him as the back wall became coated in the infectious blood of the entity.

As we poured into the lobby, the gunner quickly turned and fired off towards the front. The other GROM operators who had stayed behind with him quickly backpedaled and fired off rounds, riddling the desks, half walls, columns, tearing apart the inside of the station causing plaster, wood, and papers to fly obscuring the air. The windows were completely shattered as the door to the front of the station barely hung on by a single hinge… before falling and shattering, as the distant fire of our MRAPS suppressing the enemy could be heard shaking the foundation of this ancient hamlet.

One of the 2nd squad members topped off his sig MCX, turning to us and asking “where’s the chief? The prisoner?”. Major Krol shined his taclight on the front of the station, now dark as the damage from the fight had taken out every single light and lamp, muttering “They’re dead”. The gunner who was changing out one of his drums quickly looked up in shock “Huh, what the hell?!”.

“Parasites killed the rat, then the chief…” Echo-2 said, kicking the heads of one of the Strigoi as he checked on his men, positioning others to pull security. “Fuck…” the gunner said, slamming down the top cover of his belt fed as he stood up asking “-thought this department was supposed to be secure?”.

“The chief was the only secure one” Krol stated, just then, a piercing, wretched scream that sounded like metal being dragged on concrete came from just outside the station. Gunfire caused us to duck our heads as some of the officers now nothing more than thralls, ran forward, grabbing pieces of broken glass, or fragmented metal from the station, attempting to charge us. Major Krol muzzle thumped one in the skull, causing them to shriek as they recoiled back before firing. The gunner quickly laid down suppressive fire, closing in on the window as Krol looked to me and 2nd Squad’s leader “-we are fucking leaving, clear that funnel!!”.

We did, the only way to breach a death funnel such as this was to lay in with enough overwhelming firepower to cause the other side to buckle. I reached for a small pouch on my kit, pulling it out… 16oz, a small circular device with a pin and spoon system. A model 88 anti-personnel hand grenade; normally in domestic operations, GROM would only carry less lethal munitions. However Detachment Echo had made it extremely clear that we were beyond the limits of conventional warfare, and these were the most extreme circumstances. I quickly armed the grenade, tossing it through the door and watching it sail past the entrance way. Everyone ducked their heads…-A colossal boom could be felt, shaking my ribs as fragmentation shot everywhere, tearing apart corners and edges of the entrances as without hesitation we assaulted through.

“Let’s fucking go!!” Echo-2 shouted as he led his squad through the threshold, pulling our NVGs down as we prepared to fight our way back in a low light situation. Several combatants laid on the ground in front of the station, blackened fingers reaching out as they stared at us with hate. The lasers of our peq lasers quickly snapped around, firing into their bodies and confirming kills as we moved. We had no time to rest as we immediately took fire from some of the houses, rudimentary shotguns, police with rifles… through the blue and white glow of our NODS’ phosphor, I could see their glowing eyes as they stared at us. I quickly took cover behind one of the police cruisers, now torn apart by fragmentation and bullet fire, as I fired back into one of them hiding on a porch. Several others did as Major Krol called out targets.

Echo-2, the leader of 2nd Squad was to my left as he took cover behind a van, he noticed her when I did. The woman from before, her blue dress and blonde hair, quickly appeared out of the darkness and walked towards him. Her face was that of calm, peaceful composure as she walked towards him and stared at him so he probably barely registered her… reflective eyes. He barely had anytime to react as she slashed at him, tearing into his throat as I watched him drop to the ground, his hands trying to plug the jugular wound as he lunged down onto him. I immediately spun towards them, firing off several rounds, impacting her skull and dropping the she-strigoi before she had a chance to carve into him any further. With the area secured, Krol rose to his feet as I quickly rushed to Echo-2. She had slashed just underneath his pro-mask, right above his plate, precision only they could manage.

“God dammit…” Krol muttered, he grabbed a nearby GROM member, assigning him to; “-carry him to the point. Blachowicz, you’re in charge of second squad, keep these fuckin’ demons off him”. Much like something in me reactivated, I snapped back to action… we quickly picked up and move, one of our rifleman carrying the fallen Echo-2 on his shoulders, Major Krol joining us as we assaulted back to our convoy in an extended diamond. All around us… the tried to attack… from the trees a pair of gray and black claws would reach out, only to be fought back with a burst of one’s rifle. The deep, guttural roar of another Strigoi came from between a set of buildings, only for our gunner to mow them back behind a set of shrubs. It was only 5 blocks to our comrades, but it had to have been the longest five blocks in my career. Their plan to trap us failed because ambushes depend on their target being rattled- GROM doesn’t know the definition of being deterred.

We reached the MRAP defensive position as one of the .50 cals snapped to a position in the darkness, red and white rounds being sent only to be answered with the splatter of our foes on ISR. I quickly set in my men at the position, and soon silence followed. We all stared into the darkness, our heavy breathing beneath the promasks the only audible sound as the humm of turrets scanning, the sounds of our truck engines, and us sitting in on the gravel and dirt.

“Get me an ACE, now” Krol barked to his squad leaders, it was a basic assessment of Ammunition, Casualties, and Equipment, necessary for getting a read on what the state of an element was after contact. Right now, we needed to know what was going on. All in total we had conserved our ammunition well, no losses in terms of equipment or weapons, and only a few of the GROM operators that had stayed back at the church took injuries. The majority were from the hail of gunfire they were getting hit with during the initial attack, when fire superiority of the MRAPs was established, that quickly flipped. However even as things seemed alright, Krol marched over to the priest; “-You”.

“I didn’t know, I didn’t know” the old man muttered, only for the Major to stop just in front of him. One of the members of first squad tried to damn near strangle the priest, only to be held back by his squad leader. “They avoided the church, same reason why you were able to hold here as well as you did… apt tactics, Major, but… I tried to warn them they were infesting the village” the priest defended. To be honest… who could argue, he was one of the only ones vocal to us when we entered, believing their silence and avoidance to be paranoia of an armed convoy entering. Instead… we got what we have now: I looked around and saw the dead, dozens upon dozens of the small hamlet, put down after being forcibly conscripted to serve the Strigoi. Now all that was left was the dead, the rot of our adversaries mixing with the cool air of the forest around.

However our woes were not gone yet… “Major-” our medic called out, I turned as the priest grabbed his mouth shaking his head. “No… no, no…” the holy man muttered as we looked to see him hovering over Echo-2. Our fallen comrade was barely clinging on, black blood had bled through his trauma bandages showing signs of infection, as he began to twitch and spasm. I quickly rushed over with the medic to the man who had been carrying him, breathing a sigh of relief when we saw none of the blood had gotten through his MOPPE suit.

That still left the matter of Echo-2, who was no longer choking on his own blood but whatever was running through his nervous system. I looked over and I could see that overtaking his eyes and the veins on his face, the formerly red mess that was his jugulars and throat becoming a mess of rot and… I don’t even know what. I just remained silent, I didn’t know what to do…

“Sir?” first squad’s leader asked Major Krol who walked over to Echo-2, taking a knee beside his fallen operator. Through his mask I could see the Major’s eyes… the sort of temperament in the face of misery only a man who had seen many of his own comrades go this way could. All the while the priest was muttering a prayer for Echo-2 as with whatever control he had left nodded, reaching out to Krol who grabbed his hand… then, the Major’s other hand drew his handgun. The shot ran out and reverberated into our souls long after we packed up our dead, assisting the priest in salting, burning, and finally burying what remained of the townsfolk before leaving.

I remember when I was first promoted to the position of a lead in GROM, having survived the baptism of uncertainty and harsh adjustment to special operations to be amongst their flag bearers. There was anxiety, yet excitement… now? Here I am a decade later, battlefield promoted to the leader of Major Krol’s second squad and all I can think is: “When the fuck does this all end?”. It can’t just go on forever, we fight these wars so we may see a better tomorrow, not just eternally fire into the darkness and lose those shoulder to shoulder with us. The ride back in the MRAP was silent, the body of Echo-2 laying at our feet as I watched over him, having taken his spot to carry on his role.

The memorial service was held shortly after, the cause of death was listed as the result of a snap deployment overseas. We all stood there as our comrade was laid to rest, the silent controlled fury I saw in Major Krol’s eyes told me he wanted to tell the world the truth of what was happening. They wouldn’t believe him, or any of us, so for now we have to continue. Though he does tell me the losses weren’t in vain, and the information we gathered from the village has been able to pinpoint a major junction in which they’re using as a base.

So we’re gearing up, we’re going to go down into that fucked little nest of theirs, and we’re going to burn everything they’ve got to the ground. I don’t know when my next check in will be, but I will be back.

Blachowicz out.

[Entry 3]

Blachowicz here. 

Kept yah’ waiting, huh? Heh, sorry about that one, but I can explain. As we all know… we lost a few good men the last few months.

That’s the brutal part of a hybrid war like ours: We’re fighting a foe unconventional, with half our arsenal tied down because those who grant us authorization are either in disbelief of the true facts, or scared… or already assimilated. That being said our momentum recently was a change not seen in years, and because of that… despite the losses we have garnered, we were close through a breakthrough. One last night Krol pulls myself and other two must trusted squad leads into the back of our COP. There is one of our equipment cages, surrounded by m-bitter radios, tripods, and several hundred thousand dollars of equipment he brought us around a simple worn table. Before us he laid a map of eastern poland… red markings indicating cells that seemed to dot the countryside like a pestilence, or used to… as deep gashes of advance from raids had trisected their lines, even if ones did pop up in the interior.

It was a back and forth; an outside virus infecting Polska at it’s heart, and we were the antibodies sent to drive them out. To which… Major Krol points to one of the largest symbol on the map: a dark red diamond, the NATO symbol for an enemy unit, deep inside of an untouched wooded area, adjacent to a mountain ridge. Several jagged lines indicated entrenchment, with red horizontal lines indicating possible enemy control… or our contested control, for over 20kms surrounding it. Letting us all look, the Major lit himself a cigarette. 

“Sir, you sure it’s wise to smoke in here with the dive tanks just behind us” 1st Squad’s lead quipped. “Fuck off” Krol dryly said.

“Alright… this is it… this is the one we’ve been searching for for years, this is the nucleus my predecessor commander died trying to find” he says, pointing to it. Not far from Zamosc, it was almost touching the border with Belarus, the contested area indicating the Strigoi did operate over it… indicating one of the largest spill through points. “-It’s an old soviet bunker, made during their 1960s initiative it was designed to hold the munitions and manpower of several units in the event of a NATO first strike” Krol explained. “It’s gotta be massive then…” I said gazing at the map; “Didn’t the army demolish all of the old soviet hulks near Belarus to prevent any infiltrations?” 3rd Squad’s lead asked. “National Police took the effort over… and by extension, the Strigoi. It was halfway demo’ed before they burrowed into it and have been using it as a bridgehead ever since. This is it…” Krol said. He looked around at all of us, a sense of certainty I had never seen before as he blew smoke from his nostrils; “We’ve been fucking around in the dark for so long, it’s hard to believe we’ve made any progress, but this is it. With this gone, this will set them back over a decade and the momentum will finally shift into our favor… into Poland’s… -Europe’s”. 

I swear there was almost a flash of joy, of pride in his eyes and a phantom of a smirk before reality set back in “That being said… we can’t leave this to chance, especially not something as important as this. We’re going to have to go there ourselves… clear through every inch of that place, and tear it all down, piece by piece. I will be straight with you all… when we go, there will be some of us that aren’t coming back. -but we are going… a whole generation is counting on us, and unborn billions rely on us to succeed”. We all nodded, a silent agreement washing over us as we took this upon ourselves. Echo-1 spoke up: “So… They’re authorizing a raid? How big?”. “We’re rolling in as a hard target, armor, explosives, and air support” Krol answered, taking a drag off his cigarette. “Aviation? How the hell did we get that approved, we’ve gotten attempts shot down four times due to those leeches” I said in disbelief. “There’s too much evidence here pointing to the human trafficking tied to their actions… We’ve finally got too much weight pinning them down, to keep the hammer from slamming into their necks” Krol chuckled.

He looked around “Any questions?”. “When?” Echo-3 asked. “Three hours. We’re hitting them in the dead of night, only time we could get the birds authorized. Get your boys ready. We’re rolling out” Krol said, dying the cigarette bud out on the table. I can’t begin to tell you the euphoria we felt leaving that cage, as our men started arriving, they did so a lot quicker, and with their heads a lot higher than they had in weeks. As Second Squad’s lead we were going to be one of the main arms of attack into the bunker, thus I made sure we had a breacher loaded with enough thermite, charges, and tools to cut through anything. Our shield bearer we ready to go, as was our assaulters, grenadiers, and machine gunner. I double checked each and everyone of their weapons; ensuring the feeder paws of our squad’s belt fed were intact, making sure every breach charge we had was properly set and packed. There was going to be no mistakes, no slip ups. The margin of error needed to be the smallest it had ever been for us tonight if we were going to make  the gore spilt worth it. 

Finally… there on the outside of the building, the bright LED lights kept the darkness of the ensuing night at bay as the roar of our MRAPs could be heard. It was said once that war is 99% peace, and 1% chaos, they were right. The slow periods where the blood slowed and the doubt creeped in was the worst… yet we all kept it at bay. We needed to, there was going to be no backing down tonight. All three squads were up, all of us ready to go… we circled up… short stares and shaky nods telling us one things: We were in this together, till the end… the finish line so many before us had been searching for, we were being granted tonight.

A single set of footsteps could be heard as we turned, Major Krol stepping into the center. He took the last drag of a cigarette, throwing it down to the ground and stamping it out onto the damp concrete. He looked around… his chin strap blowing in the weak air as he met everyone of our gazes… then mine… then looked around. “I want you to remember every detail of tonight, as you have every other night… when you are situationally aware, scanning for the enemy, liberating the subjugated, I want you to remember the sting of anxiety, the shake of adrenaline, the chill of the bunker, the heat of your weapon as it cuts them down… because tonight we are going to write every fine detail of our victory, their defeat, in history…” Krol’s words echoed deep into our souls.

He paused for a moment, staring around he looked down… a small pause before he said “When you are ruthless in combat, remember to be patient, and reserved in victory. This conflict is for our existence… a lot of innocents have bled due to the mistakes of those who failed to listen, a lot of our brothers are now laid under because we had to bridge the gap of uncertainty with their lives. We remember them now… but in an hour? We forget them… when we raise our barrels, when we cut into those foes, and we liberate Polska!! This does not end tonight, but history puts everything in it’s place, and patience is the companion of the victor… All of our hard work will be cemented, no matter the obstacles we face in that darkness… no matter the demons, the blood, no matter what incomprehensible horrors, we will make them comprehend that to invade our land, to bleed our people, the justice will be paid in full… Load up. It’s time*”*. 

The purpose in our steps was heavy as we climbed the back ramps of the MRAPS; Four of the heavily armored vehicles, one for each squad with an additional for attached personnel including our JTAC, the term means Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. With air support requisitioned to us for this operations, there needs to be a definite liaison on the ground who can directly communicate to the birds, and coordinate their fire and progress. I’d worked with many of them in the past, resourceful guys, quick thinking though I guess that comes with the position they hold of needing to quickly figure out what bombs to drop, on which target, at what precise points, whilst taking contact. He loaded in the lead vehicle with Major Krol… and soon, our convoy kicked off. 

The drive was several hours as myself and my squad sat in the back of that forty ton goliath, the rumbling of the engine keeping us awake as the crap heater fought to keep the cold from the outside frost from setting in. I looked around to each of them, some were catching some sleep because even with the circumstances… better to get all the energy you can, than to stay awake for nothing. Others were checking their weapons… My gunner locked eyes with me, the same one from the village extraction… many of these men I had trained with for a while now, fought with for months.

We may have met on unconventional circumstances but those in JW Grom thrive on austere chance and create opportunity from scratch. I was pulled from my thought by the sound of a transmission, my peltors were set up for dual comms so I could both receive information from the Major and other leads, whilst communicating with my team.

Krol himself sent out: [“Approximately 10 minutes from enemy AO…”]. As the rest of the squads acknowledged, I quickly sent out [“Echo-2 Copies”], before kicking the boots of any of them sleeping: “Look alive, we’re here”. Through the exterior net armor of the MRAPS, and the bars protecting the small reinforced windows, we could barely see jack shit. I reached up, turning off the overhead light as we all looked through our nods to scan the outside. A dark wall of dense trees was shown before us, making it difficult to see… in addition to night vision capabilities we had also requisitioned ourselves some thermals… when mounted onto rifles they were bulky, made it a pain to aim down quickly, but considering the supernatural capabilities of spotting our foes we needed every advantage necessary.

I flipped out one of my tubes… scanning the outside with my scope. I looked over to one of my assaulters who had been assigned to man the turret of the MRAP, seated near the view screen as he controlled the 50. Cal. Each of the vehicle turrets had been assigned a direction to cover… we took the 9 o’clock, the left flank.

“See anything?” I asked. He shook his head; “Negative… wait… I’ve got two cold signatures, front left heading to our rear”. 

I quickly scanned the far tree line, at approximately 60 meters off our left were two cold signatures… followed by a third heading to our front… then another. They were surrounding us, moving at speeds so fast I could barely keep my reticle on them. Is this what the National Police saw? What they faced at that lodge without the benefit of a foot of heavy armor protecting them on all sides. Then… suddenly. Something slammed into the side of our MRAP so hard, it caused it to shake. From over the leader comms, Echo-3 quickly shouted [“Contact right!! 4 hostiles!!”]. 

One of the Strigoi… so bold, had charged and slammed into the side of our MRAP. I quickly looked to see the figure, a dark blue mass of cold energy through my thermal, back away without so much as a stagger… as they tried to flee into the woods, the white hot justice of Echo-3’s gun fired at them, cutting them down. “Blachowicz I’ve got a few breaking for our vic” my man on the turret called out, I spun around, spotting out the window.

Just then, Major Krol announced [“weapons free, watch and shoot for targets of opportunity…”]. I turned to him… “take those fuckers out-”. Without hesitation my vic’s turret began to quickly target them, and through the darkness I saw a stream of outgoing fire bisect one of them, the ISR of the black blood freaking out the optic so badly it didn’t know what temperature to register it as… but it did register it. As another was cut down, one broke through the tree line and latched onto the side of our MRAP. The thing tore at one of the outer net armor panels, usually made to stop RPGs. It grabbed at the bars near the windows, tearing one off… I lowered my rifle as we locked eyes through the reinforced window.

The thing… the Strigoi looked at me, skin cracked as putrefied muscle fibers seemed to leak through dead flesh. It’s teeth were corroded and worn down to sharp fragments, alongside newly mutated fangs that messily protrude from the jaws. Even through the thick walls of the MRAP I could hear it’s roar, as it then tried to punch it’s way through… it cracked the outer coating of the vehicle… but it wasn’t getting anywhere near. My machine gunner, seated next to me, seemed to chuckle at the sight, quippily saying “Yeah… fuck you too”. It’s then our vehicle lurched upwards, as we began to climb the small incline of the bunker. I knew the layout, mapped it in our head, the main entrance was built into the rocky side of an old cliff meaning we could easily set up a defensive perimeter around it, a horseshoe. Krol’s vehicle was first, taking to the right as Echo-3’s MRAP followed. My vehicle, third, left the incline and took a left and… that’s where things got complicated. 

We’re still trying to work out what happened but… from what Joakim says his drone captured. Right when the MRAP turned, several of the monsters quickly slammed into the side of the vehicle, as another more bulkier one, pushed at it’s undercarriage. The result.. Was the 40 ton armored vehicle tipped over. It wasn’t uncommon, hell in some cases a well placed IED, a good shot with a recoilless rifle, have been known to tip over Oshkoshs and Maxpros all the time. But this beast? Needless to say we barely had a second to comprehend it as it leaned to the left; “Grab on to something-” is all I had time to shout. A mess of gear and men spilled onto one side of the vehicle as it slammed into the old gravel and dirt.

Several of my assaulters, my grenadier planted right ontop of myself and the others as we came to a stop. Someone’s knee slammed directly into the side of my skull, causing me to dazily bob in and out of consciousness as my face was smushed against the glass of one of the windows.

Through my peltors, the other squads were erratic;

[“Echo-2’s vehicle is down!!”].

[“Echo-3 to Echo-2… Echo-3 to Echo-2…”].

Krol’s voice came through the comms;

[“Echo-Lead to Echo-2… Fuc-... Echo-1 secure Echo 2’s flank, Echo-3”].

[“Echo-3 to other units, they’re spilling through, I’ve got several enemy combatants converging on Echo-2’s vehicle”].

I pushed the legs of my grenadier off my head as I fought to my hands and knees, unfucking my nods as I looked around… “Fuck it… we’re going lights on, shield your eyes” I muttered as I reached for the overhead lights and flipped them on. The bright LEDs bathed the inside of the vehicle as we all gained our bearings, a mess of multicam, gear, and weapons as we quickly pushed each other off. My gunner caught as he fought to realign his promask, from what I gathered one of the assaulters had landed directly into his gun, pushing it directly into his jugular, as pulled back at the rubber and coughed, freeing up his esophagus. We didn’t have time to think however… the sound of bending metal caught our attention… as the back ramp door of the MRAP was ripped clean off. I could barely believe it but as the white light of the MRAP’s interior poured to the outside, a hulking mass leaned in, the dead flesh on it’s face nearly fallen off as the hideous Strigoi leaned inside.

Without hesitation I aimed took aim, yelling “Keep to the deck!!” to any of those inbetween myself and the invader as I opened fire. A burst of full auto fire tore through it’s collar and neck, my men quickly clung to either sides of the fallen MRAP as a few more fired out. As the thing backed up, a blast of .50 cal fire quickly tore it to shreds, along with several others as I realized they were fuckin swarming over the outside of our vehicle. Echo-3’s vehicle continued to carefully fire on the Strigoi on the outside, the sounds of .50 cal ricocheting off the outside of our armor was enough to make the pucker factor set in. 

[“Echo-3 to Echo-2”].

[“This is Echo-2, we’re green on ammo, equipment, men”].

[“Roger, we’re shifting fire, exit the vehicle”].

“Hurry up let’s go!!” I barked to my men, leading the way as I staggered out. I turned on my peq, taking aim at silhouettes in the brush as I began to fire. The sounds of machine guns lighting up the brush, as a sea of growls, howls, and incomprehensible roars fired back at us was the ambient noise of the night. My men quickly exited, my gunner being the last as he and I pulled back to the rest of the defensive perimeter. I set in my men to take up the frontal security, as 3rd squad took the right flank, 1st squad to the left. Major Krol and the JTAC were bickering with each other; “How far out are the birds”. “They’re entering airspace now…” Joakim said, already scanning his smart book.

I asked “What’ve we got?”. He then flipped through… to the NATO combined arms segment, quippily saying; “Apaches…”. This caused me to pause as Echo-3 turned their head whilst directing their squad’s fire “The hell… where did we get apaches from?”. “The Americans… they volunteered” Krol said dismissively as he took aim at the darkness, firing off a controlled trio. “Volunteered? They’re aware of what’s going on?” I asked.

Krol seemed to stop, glancing back at me before returning his focus “There’s a lot more going on than you realize, Blachowicz… Prep the breach, you and 1st are going on”.

I quickly pulled my breacher off the line, securing some thermite as the reinforced bunker door wasn’t going to go as easily as a conventional door breach would. 1st Squad pulled back, stacking up and preparing themselves to be the first in. All the while… Joakim gave his firing solution; “Alpha Hotel Two Five Nine, This is Bravo-4…… Type 2….”.

I snapped to my right, watching as a Strigoi managed to dark across the clear gravel field, only to be cut down by my gunner, the peq’s laser marking the burst as it tore through the beasts’ hips, as it hit the ground and still continued to claw, another GROM operator took aim and fired into it’s skull. Joakim popped up to his feet…. “Marking laser, high power…”. He then pulled out a target marking laser… if you’ve watched night operations, you’ve probably seen them.

The green laser than as it says on the label, marks targets. The pattern of which can vary… if it’s a point target, it’ll usually lasso an area, or remain on target until the target is removed with extreme prejudice. If its close air support, then it’ll be a line of the general area… and Joakim damn near marked the entire perimeter around us. He quickly pocketed the tool, turning back to Krol; “Don’t go past 20 meters unless you want to be liquidated”.

With that… 2nd and 1st stacked up at the door as 3rd squad took up the perimeter security. As Major Krol went over to Echo-1… I saw them. A single blinking IR strobe from the beasts as they moved on the far off horizon, converging from several angles… and fired. The sound of the Apache’s main gun, the M230, truly sounds like the hammer of god… the 30mm cannon shot through the dark sky, lighting it up as we saw three incoming streams tear up the woods. Only then as the sound broke did we start to hear their rotors as they broke and began to circle, firing again… then… Joakim dipped his head and looked to Krol; [“Foxtrot Mike, hang onto your teeth…”]. One of the Apaches fired off a AGM-114… a Hellfire. I barely saw it out of the corner of my eye as the Apache from our right flank fired off at a target approximately 200 meters off. A fireball lit up the forest as the horrendous roar echoed throughout… then went silent.

Echo-3 scanned the horizon carefully;

[“Echo-3 to Echo-Lead, enemy contact is starting to die down”].

[“Maintain perimeter, Close Air is to maintain fire mission until we are boots up, Break…”].

[“Echo-Lead to Echo-1, condition white has been met. Proceeds”]. I saw Echo-1 and his men quickly stack up close to the wall and gesture to me; Breaching. I quickly pulled my stack back against the wall as his and mine breacher quickly hit their actuators. Now under normal circumstances, it doesn’t take much for thermite to melt the locks off of a metal surface, in fact it’s a more precise took as alternative means get real medieval like saws, pry bars… we weren’t in the mood for precision, we need to breach their little lair, and drag them out. The sound of several pounds of hellfire burning through the metal could be heard around the corner as a sea of white and red sparks flew out… after several seconds, two of our men tossed a fragmentation grenade and a nine-bang through the opening… a series of concussive blasts and a large explosion rang out.

Echo-1 and his men maneuvered. 1st Squad quickly converged as we followed them in.

Stepping through the black wall of smoke, the dark abyss of the interior was illuminated in a white light as entered barrels raised. Shots rang out as several of the beasts near the entrance were cut down, though not immediately, rounds disconnected the shoulder of one of them, leading to their arm hanging limply by a single tendon as they roared… another series of rounds putting them down. What greeted us was a messy concrete hell of rust and debris, fecal matter, trash, and all kinds of obstacles laid in our way, our boots sticking to the floor. I thank every god we had promasks that night. I called my shield bearer up, 2nd squad leapfrogging ahead to take the next corridor as 1st squad checked their weapons.

One of my men mule kicked the metal door ahead, twice, finally the latch gave away as we tossed in a grenade. A horrifying roar was cut off as an M67 shook the walls of the ancient soviet mausoleum, frag and spall kicked off the walls as I moved in right behind my shield man. The cramped russian design meant there was barely enough space for three people, and that’s three normal people, not in 50kgs of kit, moving slowly and maneuvering against creatures of the dark. Still… we moved forward, my shield bearer and I pushing the pace as two stacked of either squad formed on either wall.

As we passed doorways they flowed in… “Door Left!!”, “Door Right!!”. “Move!!”. 

Two men entered each side, no gunshots, we moved up, a roar came. 

“Door left!!-”. A series of gunshots came out as we continued to push forward.

“Two down!!”. “Confirm them” Krol commanded, as a series of gunshots run out in response. From one of the doorways, a Strigoi emerged… a female… clumps of hair had been ripped from her decaying skull, as her blooded eyes locked on myself and my shieldman. The skin on her hands had been tore down to the point where barely her bones and tendons remain… looking like huge talons as she roared and lunged at us. He fired off his pistol, though the rounds did little to stop her as she pushed against our stack.

“Fuck!!” he muttered, somehow her strength caused him to stagnate, holding up the advance… fuck that. I shoved the muzzle of my MK18 into her ribcage, flipping the weapon to auto as I fired of round after round. The 5.56 salvo disconnecting her spinal column, causing her to fall as I continued to fire, along with a man to our right and left as the stacks reformed as we pushed to the end of the hall. I fell back, dropping the magazine and loading a fresh one, like clockwork a GROM Operator from 1st squad took my place. Krol was beside me as we approached the end of the hall.

[“-Prep an entry”] I radioed to my breacher, a comrade handed him one of the charges from his back panel as he took to the door, quickly securing it. We all moved as far back as we could, look away, exhale. The blast knocked metal and wood in all directions, scrapping against our uniforms and kit as we made our way in and what laid before us was… it used to be the center atrium of one of these bunkers. Soviet’s loved their grandiose designs, the complex was supposed to be a circular room around a central planning table… instead. It had been turned into some sort of church. Runes and old eastern Romuva pagan symbols written in black ink and blood across the walls, old rotten filing cabinets, long receipt terminals. In the center… several of the Strigoi were kneeling before the table where someone had been tied down, flayed, and… shared amongst the group. They rose to their feet, we aimed our barrels… 

The ladder amongst turned to us… his skin wasn’t cracked, or flayed, it was smooth… it still looked dead as the body on the table but it seemed more… accustomed to it. I don’t know… evolved? Under the surface however I could see it’s darkened veins pumping whatever cursed blood ran through them as it locked two blood red eyes onto each of us. It’s nose had long since been turn off, exposing boney nostrils to the open air as it seemed to smirk. All across it’s body were the same symbols on the walls, in every cell… markings of death, of rebirth, of assimilation… From behind this seemingly Alpha emerges another figure I had never seemed before… dressed in a white cloak with a deer head.

"So they've followed the trail... they're too late" the Deer headed individual spoke, definitely not from here, a dialect similar to an Americans but... aristocratic? Each word was drawn out, assurance as if they had everything mapped down to our actions. They didn’t sound like they were from Poland or the east.

“Doesn’t matter…” the Alpha growled… and then, it lunged at us. Quickly breaking from their ground it slammed into my shield man knocking both him and myself at the ground as it displayed an intense feat of strength. Around us I could see several of the Strigoi leap at our comrades… though to no fruitful endeavor as I could see one GROM operator cut two down, as another got into a hand to hand confrontation… my breacher, crafty as they were, reached back and slammed one of the prybars of his kit into the skull of the beast. 

The Alpha however was not content as it threw away the 90lb shield, sending it flying across the room as it grabbed my comrade by the skull. I quickly kicked up at it, firing my MK18 into it’s body as the rounds pierced it’s gray and rune covered flesh. The thing simply seemed to chuckle… that was until Major Krol blasted away at the side of it’s head, the alpha turned… and it’s smirk turned to a scowl when face to face with the major. A knowing pause almost like they had done this dance before… 

The creature lunged, locking up with Major Krol as it swung and slammed railing. Krol didn’t back down however as he pushed against the creature, hiptossing it to the ground even as it tore at his armor and gear. But the beast pulled, both of them rolled and the Major was on his back as the thing reached for his neck. I fought to a kneel, firing into the creature messily with my MK18, trying not to hit my commander… then… 


A sound sends a chill up the spine of every warfighter during a firefight. 

My gun ran dry. I dropped the magazine, looking to load another, but the thing came up and with one of it’s claws, sliced deep into my cheek, through the pro mask. I could feel my own blood go flying through the air as I landed hard on my back plate, spitting out red iron as I quickly tried to adjust my mask. Through my fogged up, blood covered lense… I saw my shield man raise his pistol, firing into the skull of the thing staggering it with a roar. Krol came from behind, drawing his knife he sunk it deep into the neck of it…. I reached for my rifle, forcing a new magazine in and damn near punching the bold release. ““Sir, down!!” I shouted, Krol rolled away, back to his own rifle as I fired. So did my comrade as he continued to fire his pistol… so did the Major as he fired his rifle. All of us chewing through that apex predator of darkness, that beast… the leader that had been preying on our people for so long. Layer by layer, muscle group by bone… eventually… the alpha landed on whatever was left of his back. 

The silence of the fight died down as all of us checked our surroundings, GROM Operators putting controlled pairs in the heads and nerve stems of any Strigoi laying around… I flicked my weapon onto safe, letting it hang as I pulled off my mask. I dared not touch the wound on my face… the pain nearly crippling me if it wasn’t sheer will pushing me through, and adrenaline doing all it could to subdue it. The sound of the apaches continuing to lay hate drew us from our moment of contemplation as the Major went back to work; [“Confiscate any info, burn the rest…”]. He turned back to me as I shoved my damaged M50 mask back into it’s bag, chuckling as he looked at the sight; “You need a medevac, Blachowicz?” he quipped.

I shook my head, barely able to speak as I muttered; “Negative sir…”. The two of us scanned the room as my shield bearer went to collect his defense implement turned 90lb projectile, we scanned the center of the room, checking and confirming bodies, until we got to the last one alive. His white gown was soaked in red crimson and black ooze, as his dear head was mangled from bullet fire and impact from falling on it. I swear… the way his blood poured out of it though made me wonder if it was a mask. I gave it no second thoughts as he looked to Krol; “You… you can’t stop this, they’ve already-”.

The Major was in no mood for communication as his rifle snapped up and fired off three rounds to the body, four the head. The violent yet quick salvo ending the cultists life, I looked down at it, then to him as he remarked; “Have your squad drag him out to the front, burn the rest”. I stood alongside him, looking down as the sight of it’s deer head was both captivating and horrifying… the curiosity in me wanting to look closer at it fighting the primal instinct I had to burn the thing to ash. “-Haven’t seen one of those before…” I muttered, thinking the Major had an answer.

He didn’t. Krol saying “Neither have I…” shortly before he walked away, was what truly shook my soul about that entire night. Victory stood firm in our hearts that night as we stood outside of the bunker. The night sky burning with fire and white phosphorus as we watched the ruin burn from the inside from the other side of the lot. In the distance, the Apaches continued to scan and circle the forests, no longer firing…. Which meant they had driven any or turned to glass any enemy combatants within a four miles, probably both, more than likely the latter. Echo-1 patted me on the shoulder as we stood there, soaking it all in, though Krol looked none to pleased. “In the time it took us to take this one down, they’ll be trying to set up three more cells… that being established…” he said, looking to either of us, then to Echo-3. “-Hell of a thing we did tonight, been waiting for this one for a decade, cleanly, maybe more… but no time to rest on our laurels… we’ll have another task for us as soon as we’re boots down back home” he said, to which his eyes followed mine, the body of whatever cultist that was zipped up in a black body bag beside the wheel of one of the MRAPs. The fire from the bunker casting an orange hue over it’s shiny jet black outside, something didn’t sit right with me… “That wasn’t a Strigoi…” I said to Krol.

“That’s very clear…” the Major said, shoving his mask under his arm and lighting a cigarette. “So… someone’s helping them?” I asked. The meer notion of it shook me to my core, sickened me. This parasite was already badly infecting Europa, Polska… if it was spread like this throughout the world. Krol settled my nerves: “We’ll be ready… It’s not just us anymore”. As he said that, I realized what he meant… my eyes looking to the Apaches as they started to form up, leaving the areas as their thunderous propellers melted into the night’s calm, unnerving ambience.

It’s been a couple of weeks since then, Echo Detachment has been busy. We’ve gained good ground against the enemy and honestly I think in a few years, we might see a much larger change. For now… we must keep going, that being said the Strigoi aren’t the only ones we’ve been combating. Recently we’ve made contact with of some sort of extermination coalition, they’ve known about the Strigoi, and others plaguing the world, the level of corruption and corrosion on society goes deep. Regardless a lot of the units we’ve been working with are apart of NATO, such as this “4th Special Forces Group” of the American Military. I don’t know where the road from here leads, but we’ve gotten momentum on our side, finally. Just remember… these things are out there, in every town, every city, every nation… preying and waiting for you to be alone, vulnerable, so they can take you and replace you. 

Watch your back, and stay safe. 

For now, Blachowicz signing out. Until next time


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