Chapter 65: The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You VII

Zhang Heng had done everything that could be done, knowing he won’t be much help in the battle. So, he squatted behind a tree and waited for it to be all over. The skirmish ended faster than expected. Once the skilled sniper had a gun in his hand, he killed three Soviet soldiers within a swift 40 seconds.

Once the barrage of gunshots were over, Zhang Heng stealthily emerged from his hiding spot. The sniper still clutched the revolver in his hand tightly, albeit, seemingly a little more relaxed now as he did not aim the gun at Zhang Heng.

When Zhang Heng walked towards the sniper, he noticed that there was blood on his shirt. It was apparent now that in the heat of the shootout, he didn’t manage to dodge all the bullets. Zhang Heng came to realize that indeed, it was not easy for him to meet someone without hostile intentions. He had to figure out a way to bring him back to his base, no matter what. All his effort would have gone to waste if he let him die here.

Zhang Heng picked up his cellphone and turned off the alarm, noticing a sea of empty shells strewn all over the ground. Remarkably, and thankfully so, his cellphone was perfectly fine. He then proceeded to collect the backpacks of the dead soldiers. As his current supplies were almost depleted, he had to stock up well to stay alive in this inhospitable land. He had his eyes fixed on the sniper, who nodded his head at him. He was staring at the bullet case that was strapped to the dead soldier’s waist.

Immediately, Zhang Heng grabbed two magazines and passed it to him. Without a second thought, he reloaded his machine gun. Putting pressure on his wound with one hand, he mustered all his strength to stand up with the other. Two fierce battles had just taken place here, and the sound of continuous gunshots had probably attracted more enemies. They had to leave this place as soon as possible, or this time, they would surely die.

Zhang Heng picked a backpack and brought it with him. He, too didn’t let up on the chance to pick up a machine gun. Seeing that the sniper was having a hard time walking, Zhang Heng instinctively walked over in an attempt to assist him. However, it seemed like he wanted no help, shaking his head and pushing away Zhang Heng’s hand.

Zhang Heng was displeased by the response, knowing well enough it wasn’t the best time to play Rambo. Zhang Heng needed him to point him in the right direction if they wanted to survive this forest. Also, without Zhang Heng’s help, it would be tough for the severely wounded sniper to walk out of the woods alive. Both of them were in a tight spot now and had no choice but to rely on each other to get through this.

After a while, the sniper started to understand Zhang Heng’s intention. This time, he allowed Zhang Heng to prop him up. With an arm supporting his body, they both took the slow walk towards the direction that the sniper pointed to.

On the way, Zhang Heng saw countless bodies of Soviet troops. An armored personnel carrier lay in pieces beside the road, still burning with fury. There were also bodies of a few Finnish guerillas with their winter camouflage thrown all over on the ground as well. One could only see how much hatred the Soviets must have harbored toward the Finnish guerillas. Zhang Heng needed a change of coat, but sadly, most of the ones on the bodies were riddled with bullet holes. Some even had powder burns on them, leaving huge, smoldering holes.

Anybody passing them now would have found it extremely peculiar to see a duo made up of an Asian and a Finnish. To make matters worse, they looked completely out of place, like they didn’t belong to his forest.

For the forthcoming days, they would constantly see dead bodies on the ground and incessant gunfire from afar. This time the gunfire did not last long. Again, it didn’t look too safe anymore. The gunfire could have been a signal for the Soviets to help their allies. Then, in turn, the Finnish guerilla snipers would use the opportunity to clear all their enemies.

Their snowboards had allowed them to move effectively in the forest, and they were not about to stop unless absolutely necessary. As they cruised through the snow-caked forest, they saw large numbers of Soviet soldiers killed in many different ways. However realistic an award-winning film would shamefully fade in comparison to the unimaginable horrors that lay before them.

Zhang Heng had mentally prepared himself to witness all the dead. Despite that, he felt awfully unwell after witnessing so much death in one go. The horrifying scene was a violent assault on one’s senses, where war represented the worst of humanity. It also represented what would become of the frail-minded human after civilization had been so carelessly tossed away. Soldiers had regressed to their carnal instincts, to kill and protect in its most basic of forms. Looking at the sniper beside him, Zhang Heng instantly knew that the purgatory around them had almost no effect on him. He was simply used to it.

As they traveled on, they came across two Soviet troops. They managed to evade them, only lucky that they were not spotted first. They even encountered a Soviet soldier that moved alone. His allies were most likely killed in action and he was lucky to flee the battlefield alive. His spirit seemed broken, his face emotionless, lifeless even from all he had gone through. Having no weapons and trudging barefooted, there was a high chance he would end up dead in this forest if his allies failed to find him.

Zhang Heng saw that he was getting further and further away from him, hence deciding to just let him be. Seconds later, he heard a gunshot! The sniper’s hand was on the trigger of the machine gun and was no longer covering the wound! He had shot the soldier in cold blood.

When the sound of gunfire reverberating in the air, the Soviet soldier slowly stopped moving and collapsed beside a pine tree. Zhang Heng then looked the sniper in the eyes, searching for answers. He did the same as well, not batting an eyelid. His eyes were dead, with not an ounce of emotion left in them.

“……..”

Zhang Heng was left speechless. If he was a soldier during the invasion of Japan, he would have shot any Japanese soldier if he ever encountered one. All these Finnish guerillas only had one goal in mind,, and that was to protect their people and country. For these reasons, Zhang Heng felt he had no right to criticize him.

The gunshot, however, would have again attracted more enemies to them, the last thing Zhang Heng wanted. It wasn’t time to play the blame game here. Besides, the sniper wouldn’t understand a word even if he scolded him. It would be more beneficial for them to figure out a way to get out of this sticky situation.

Zhang Heng landed his eyes on the snowboard behind the sniper’s back. Voila!

Five minutes later, they tied all their goods on the snowboard, and Zhang Heng tied a rope at the end of it for the sniper to pull on it later. He then squatted down in front of him. Strangely, it seemed as if the sniper understood what he was trying to do. Immediately, he jumped on Zhang Heng’s back and let him carry him.

When Zhang Heng stood up, he was surprised that the sniper was a lot lighter than he’d expected, probably weighing a tiny 100 pounds. They could finally move faster now. The only downside about this idea was that Zhang Heng’s stamina, and strength depleted a lot more quickly than he hoped it would. He could only do this for around 20 minutes.

Thank goodness they were out of the danger zone.

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