48 Hours a Day - Chapter 75 - The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You
Chapter 75: The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You XVII
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhang Heng lay on the snow-covered ground for half an hour. He was holding his M28 and had its stock resting on his shoulder. The weather today was so cold that his fingers were frozen. Though he managed to stay calm, throughout most of the bad days here, he started to doubt if he could complete today’s training.
This was this 79th day in this world. The mission’s dateline had passed, but the extra 24 hours he had each day graciously extended his mission to a total of 140 days. The good news was that the war was about to end soon.
Basically, the winter war between the Soviet Union and Finland had two different phases. The first phase began on the 30th of November, 1939. The Soviets were divided into four teams and attacked Finland from all four directions. Undeniably, the attack ended badly for the Soviet Union, for after a long and hard battle, they only managed to conquer the northern tip of Finland. As for the other three directions, they suffered high losses. In the end, they were forced to retreat, returning to their homeland to conscript new soldiers.
It was during that time that Finland had managed to devastate the great Soviet Union. This was notably evident at the battle at Karelian Isthmus, where the Soviets failed to break through the Mannerheim Line that Finland had maintained for a couple of decades. No matter how hard they tried, the Soviets were unable to figure out the foxy defense of Finnish. After paying the terrible price of thousands of lives, they only managed to penetrate 20km into their defensive line.
That January, things started to get a lot worse. The Red Army came up with the Northwestern Front, a Soviet military formation at Karelian Isthmus, assigning a Marshall called Semyon Timoshenko as the commander. In total, there were field armies made up of the 21st infantry division and six tank brigades. The entire force was ordered to focus their fire on the Mannerheim Line. During that time, Finland’s military was sorely lacking, having shortages of personnel, heavy weapons, and ammunition. Soon, these problems were exposed.
Recently, the frontline sent a large number of emergency reports to the guerilla base camp. For now, they had nothing to do with Zhang Heng. He had been through around 20 battles throughout his time here. Every single day, he had to put his life on the line.
The battles gradually got harder as compared to his first mission. There were a few times he almost got himself killed even though trying his best to be extra cautious of his surroundings. The closest call he had was when a grenade landed right in front of him! One wouldn’t doubt the luck a Rabbit Foot could grant, as, in the end, the grenade did not explode, and Zhang Heng got to live to see another day.
Many surprises and unforeseen circumstances occurred on a battlefield. Being extra careful did not guarantee that you got to keep your life. The tremendous stress that he was put under recently had driven him to improve his snowboarding and shooting skills faster than he could have before this.
This was especially true for the latter. Within a month, Zhang Heng’s shooting skill had climbed, and he was now at LV 1. If he kept going at this rate, he might just be able to scrape LV 2 next month. Right now, he had an 80% chance to land a critical shot at a target 200 meters away from him. And shooting distance was not his only improvement.
All the while, Simone had been trying to help Zhang Heng improve the quality of his snipership on the whole and a heightened warzone awareness that he had to have. Indeed, he was getting a lot better with each passing day, thanks to her dedication and perseverance.
At the moment, Simone was attempting to sharpen Zhang Heng’s observation skills. Earlier, she had deployed traps and managed to capture five weasels. After that, Simone made a mark on them before releasing them back to the wild. Zhang Heng was supposed to capture three out of five to complete the task.
Sporting white fur, they were extremely difficult to spot on the snow-covered ground. To make things worse, the rodents were usually cautious of their surroundings. After searching for a continuous half an hour, Zhang Heng finally found one and put a bullet in it! There were still four to go, with Zhang Heng having a hunch that they had probably escaped by now.
Ten minutes later, he spotted another weasel on a ridge. However, Zhang Heng was quite some distance away from his target, but he knew that if he waited any longer, he would surely lose the elusive animal. Immediately, he pulled the trigger! Unfortunately, the freezing cold had diminished his accuracy. Instead of hitting it, he simply scared it away.
Zhang Heng shook his head and put away his rifle in frustration, feeling like giving up. He then saw Simone sitting beside the fire, deep in thought. For the entire week, the guerillas were all on a sabbatical, having no war to fight. They had to wait until the Karelian Isthmus war ended before they resumed what they usually did. To be precise, Finland had to wait it out until other nations came to their rescue.
England and France had promised that they would send their forces to help Finland defends against the Soviets. As for Switzerland and Norway, they had made it clear that they wouldn’t be involved. Germany, too, mentioned that they had no intention to get involved in this war. Judging the current circumstances, they wouldn’t be able to hold on until help arrived.
At the same time, Finish foreign affairs had been engaging with the Soviets. Unfortunately, Soviet demands were often unreasonable and outrageous, often making small ransoms for an even lower request.
February soon arrived. The longer the war dragged, the worse the weather became. As Zhang Heng wasn’t involved in the war, and as an outsider, he had no concern about the outcome. To Simone, however, her country was about to be conquered. He could feel how down she must have gotten, knowing that a foreign force was about to colonize the homeland she knew all her life. Things would never be the same again.
Sadly, even if he became as good a sniper as Simone, there was no way Zhang Heng could change the results of the war.
The only thing that he could do right now was to cheer her up, perhaps offer a shoulder or two. It was the best he could offer.
A snowball suddenly landed on Simone’s back. Immediately, she turned around to see what was going on. At the same time, the second snowball landed on her arm! Playfully, she rolled up her snowball in retaliation!
A perfectly round snowball landed perfectly on Zhang Heng’s chest. Such was the deadly accuracy of a masterful sniper. Zhang Heng then tossed two snowballs at Simone, who managed to dodge one with the other landing on her neck. She could not help but shiver as the snow fell under her clothes. This snowball fight had triggered the gods of rivalry within her!
Snowballs flew everywhere, with hints of laughter, bringing Simone a much-needed reprieve from the bitter horrors of human war. Everyone, no matter who won or lost, was a casualty.
It wasn’t before the night that the two of them returned to base camp. As Zhang Heng was about to boil some water to shower, he saw Maji when he walked towards his cottage.
“The two of you came back quite late today,” she teased.
“Is there something I can help you with?”
“Things are getting really bad at Karelian Isthmus. The Soviets managed to break through the first line of defense. Rumor is that the higher authorities are about to fulfill the demands of the Soviet Union! The war will be coming to an end soon. Ah Ji wants to talk to you about it. Are you available now?”
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