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Training

The frost blew… Those who have experienced this kind of frost know you can put it like this. The weak sun, size of a kopek coin, was muted by the grey sky. Under the grey sky sat a saboteur. He sat on a hill. He had an impermeable coverall, with fur inside, electrically heated and hooded.

He also wore boots. High ones. Home-made Russian boots, waterproof. And the saboteur was also home-made but a hired one, from the saboteurs’ unit. He spent the night there. In our snow. And now, he was eating. Vacantly. From our can. He twisted-turned-opened something in it and began to eat at once because the can had a self-heating device.

With the broad and measured movements of his horse- like jaws the saboteur was simultaneously watching the foothills. He was waiting for them to come and get him. The third day of training went by. Implacably. Our boys were learning to repel an attack on our naval base by this type of electro-fish-horse.

A defence headquarters had been set up. An operational unit had been put together, which would catch these hired horses with the help of a combined platoon of Eastern wolfhounds.

Information update: our Eastern wolfhounds are small, sinewy, tough, courageous. And handsome. In their own way. One and a quarter metres tall. But the main thing is: they don’t think. If they get hold of something, they don’t let go. And the other main thing is: there are lots and lots of them. Take as many as you want because there are more where they came from, as many as you need.

The wolfhounds arrived from different places with their overcoats and belts, their boots stuffed with flannel foot-bindings; they fed them in the waterfront galleys with ordinary army food, the type of food you can only eat with ideological conviction, and set them onto the saboteurs. The one thing they forgot was to hand out mittens. But that’s a minor thing. And, in any case, soldiers from Wolfhound-land are different: their hands only freeze in the first six months. And if you have anything to say about the food, we’ll answer you this: if you can feed the army well, then why have an army at all!

Then came the third day of training. On the first day, the other side, dressed in all of our things, captured the headquarters. This is how they did it: they divided into two groups, then one half took the other into captivity and led them straight into the headquarters. And the sub-lieutenant saw through the window that someone had taken someone else and shouted:

“Soldiers! Who did you get?!”

“We caught some saboteurs!”

“Good lads! You’ll all be commended! Bring them straight to me!”

And so, they brought them. Straight to him. And thus they occupied the headquarters.

On the second day of training, from the side of the polar night and the shiny waters “the fish” sailed over and “mined” all of our boats. The last “fish” came on shore, dressed in the uniform of a first-rank captain, more specifically of an “inspector”, according to his documents; he arrived at the checkpoint and gave a workout to the guard at the top…no, no, no, just the observation over the waterfront. Because he didn’t look in the right direction. Watch the waterfront and nothing else. The whole time! As if you’re glued to it! Unblink ingly.

Do what you’re told. Without fail. See there? Right.

And the guard watched as he was told while “the first- rank captain, the inspector” dropped by, on his rounds, to the division commander, whose headquarters were located next door. (On his way there he asked the guards: “Are you keeping watch?” They replied, “Yes, Sir.” – “Well-well,” he said, “keep it up!” and he walked on.) Then he arrested the division commander, dragged him out of the window, went down through the opposite section and took him away in an inflatable rubber dinghy. Actually, they say that the division commander himself inflated the dinghy under close supervision by the “inspector”. But they’re probably lying. The boat was already inflated by the oarsmen and was moored by the special storm-ladder, which had been lowered into place. It was made of silk. Very comfortable. And it was a good boat too. A dream boat.

Naturally, the captain of the watch saw that a boat was moving in another sector but he was responsible only for his own sector and therefore didn’t report it. That is how the second day ended.

On the third day, the task was to capture the saboteur alive, the one on the hill. There he sat and waited for this to happen. And our lot stood at the foot of the hill, pointing up at him and conferring agitatedly. There were twenty of them and they attacked with resolve, led by their commander. Even he had joined the attack.

“Circle the hill! Kasimbekov! Go in!” the com mander finally gave the order and they began to circle and go in.

The wolfhounds dug through the snow, wading out chest-high into it, they swam in it and circled around their target, unstoppably. At their head was Kasimbekov. Less than forty minutes had passed when the first of them had swum up to the saboteur. This first one smiled joyfully and tried to catch his breath.

“Stop!” he exclaimed. “Hands up!” After which, all of his strength left him, and only his smile remained. The saboteur finished eating, stood up and kicked the first man. During the next fifteen minutes, the rest of the attackers congregated at the same place where the first one had stood. The following ten minutes were dedicated to a “physical conversation” between the wolfhounds and the saboteur. The former never ceased smiling and, in the eastern custom, were shouting ecstatically, flying through the air with their white foot-bindings, and then crumpling the bushes and flying- flying-falling back down with their foot-bindings wound around their necks. It was great! Then the saboteur gave himself up. He said: “I surrender.”

And they took him, alive. They packed him up and carried him in their arms.

That is how the third day ended. We began to win from that day on.

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