Chapter 60: The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You II
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhang Heng knew that he was in deep trouble the moment he saw the two bodies on the ground.
The Soviet military uniform was too easily identifiable—its field uniform with red edges, the boat-shaped grey and green barret, the red five-pointed star on the cuffs. Combined with the ‘Mannerheim Line Welcomes You’ title, Zhang Heng’s premonition radar hit its peak.
He was in Finland for sure—not modern-day Finland, but Finland during the Winter War.
His cumulative reading proved to be very useful this round—being able to retrieve information from his memory about the Winter War.
On the fringes of World War II, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the infamous German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact in Moscow, delimiting both parties’ sphere of influence in Europe. In August, Germany invaded Poland. Unwilling to be outdone, the Soviets occupied three Baltic States, then proceeded to set its sights on Finland, who had just proclaimed independence.
In order to safeguard its capital Leningrad, only 32 kilometers from the Finnish border from potential German attack, the Soviet Union proposed a very harsh treaty that involved the Finish ceding their land, leasing their ports, and removing their lines of defense. After Finland’s rejection of the proposal, the doctored November 30th artillery bombardment of Mainila ignited a war. Considering the military strengths of both parties, the general global opinion at the time was that the war would end in two weeks.
But in reality, this battle lasted until February of the following year when the Soviets finally broke through the Mannerheim defense line. In March, due to the artillery and massive ammunition shortages, Finland signed the Moscow Peace Treaty with the Soviet Union, in which they were forced to surrender 10% of their national territory including Karelia, Finland’s second-largest city Vyborg, one-fifth of their industrial output, and 30% of their pre-war economic assets. Some 220,000 occupants were repatriated, where only a handful chose to stay and join the Soviet Union. As it turned out, this war also laid the groundwork to Finland joining the Axis.
Zhang Heng did not care much about who was standing on the side of justice in this war—after all, world war two had already ended more than 70 years ago, and this was merely a game. He only needed to figure out how to survive and live through this ruthless war.
Because of his additional 24 hours, the game was extended to 140 days, which made it extremely disadvantageous for him. There was nothing he could do about it—being unable to predict what the next game was, nor did he know how long the duration of each would be.
Since he had enjoyed the additional benefit of an extended period, it was only reasonable that he would have to bear an equal amount of risk involved.
Fortunately, the Winter War only lasted for 105 days. From the looks of it, they were probably at war for some time now. So, strictly speaking, not all of his 140 days here would involve battle.
Now, logically, whenever there were two opposing camps in a game, the player would have to choose one side. Based on the denouement of the actual war, the winners were decidedly the Soviets. Whether in terms of equipment superiority, number of troops, tanks, and fighters, Finland was at an absolute disadvantage. From the moment the war was waged, the brutal epilogue had already been decided.
Regrettably, though, this ‘reaping the fruits of the winner’s labor’ gameplay was not suitable for this peculiar Finnish Winter War.
Zhang Heng knew precisely how brilliant the Soviet commander’s performance was during this war: The Soviets invested nearly 1 million troops and dispatched more than 6,000 tanks to fight the Finns, who only had 32,000 standing armies and 32 tanks. The Soviets, who had dominance over the airspace fought the Finnish guerillas. The results were a shocking 30 to 1 in terms of losses; the latter having only lost 900 soldiers against the Soviets who lost over 27,000 men.
On the battlefield, the Soviets did not gain any advantage over their enemy. The Soviet body count was piling up in the Mainila defense line, exhausting Finland’s ammunition with their own flesh and blood. The total Finnish casualties from the war were 70,000 people, while the Soviet Union’s total death count went up to a tragic 600,000.
Even though the Soviets won the war in the end, they actually gained nothing from their victory. On the contrary, it exposed their weaknesses to the West, and this pyrrhic victory procured at such a great cost encouraged Little Mustache 1 to attack them later on.
From this perspective, Zhang Heng might as well join the vanquished Finns.
Still and all, reality was harsh—Zhang Heng could neither speak Russian nor understand Finnish; his yellow skin and modern clothes making him stand out like a sore thumb in this war. He would not be able to explain why he was there, and even if he was willing to surrender himself to either side, no one would be willing to take the risk of accepting him.
The best idea Zhang Heng could come up with so far was to allow himself to be captured as a prisoner of war, but he was more likely to end up being shot by some mentally traumatized soldier that way.
Zhang Heng smiled bitterly. While able very quickly to make sense of the environment he was in, he had already forgotten the many details about the Winter War. Even if he did remember them, it was still useless. He was neither familiar with Finland, nor was he the commander of a troop. All that information would have been useless anyway.
Right now, he would just have to take it one step at a time.
Not knowing when the Soviets would come to collect the remains of their fallen comrades, Zhang Heng peeled a coat off a corpse and put it on himself as quickly as he could. That khaki uniform clearly had not been washed for a long time. It was stained with stale blood and sweat that gave it a putrid stench.
For the sake of keeping warm, though, Zhang Heng could not afford to be picky. There was also a pistol and what looked like a machine gun on the ground. The latter looked strange to him with a giant mosquito coil at the top. Zhang Heng could not tell which model that thing was since he had little knowledge much about guns. Especially not World War II firearms.
But whatever it was, it looked like it had much better firepower than the pistol lying next to it.
In the end, however, after much deliberation, Zhang Heng chose to go with the pistol—largely because the machine gun was too heavy. He tried carrying it and felt it was at least 10 kilograms. The gunfire he heard earlier had already stopped. It was evident that both sides had stopped engaging, and chances were the Soviets would come back. Upon discovering that their comrades’ body had been moved, it was very likely they would begin searching the area.
Zhang Heng was worried that he might not be able to get away fast enough if he carried that hefty thing. Other than the pistol, he also lugged around a canteen and a bag pack. He did not have time to look at the contents of the bag, for he could hear footsteps approaching.
In his haste, Zhang Heng had not taken into account that those guys might have split up. The place where the firing had only just stopped was still a distance away, and already, someone was returning.
It was impossible for him to set an ambush. Although the Soviets’ performance in the Winter War had been lambasted by various military forums every once in a while, they were still trained professionals and were a collective. Zhang Heng was on his own, and this was his first time handling a firearm.
In times like this, a head-on confrontation would be a real bovine move.
There was no need for him to dilly-dally, so he carried his loot and ran for his life!