The Chapel of Hate
I hope this letter finds you well and happy. Grandmama has written me, and she tells me you have been naughty and got yourself chair bound again, haha! This does not surprise me to hear, but I bet Papa was. You are after all supposed to set a better example, being the older child, yes? Just kidding. I have only just heard of your capture by the mujahids, and your dramatic escape, sister, and believe me we were all beside ourselves here. In seriousness, Alexandra my sister, you should be more careful. Papa and Mama would be devastated if anything seriously bad happened to you. As Vasily says, you are impetuous! Even Vadim looked concerned when I read Grandmama’s letter, and that is something. By the way, Grandmama said in her last letter that Uncle Grigoriy is coming to Sochi! Won’t that be something?
I hear that you have a new friend. Grandmama tells me about this pilot, Alexei. What do we know of him? Does he treat you well? If he does not, I will know the reason why, after all. I bet Vasily is so jealous! He is in love with you, you know. As Pavel was when we were all in Komsomol together, back before everything went to hell.
Speaking of Pavel Andreyevich, he sends to you his love. We are still stuck out here in this Godforsaken wasteland that is Yugoslavia, after all, and he needs something to cheer him. Vadim, our driver — he is as closed mouth as always. I believe that riding with two fresh-baked (Vadim would say half-baked!) lieutenants has him on his Ps and Qs too. Or not. This is life in the second company, second battalion, of the 210th Guards Tanks, after all. We, the Port Arturskiy Regiment, winners of the Order of Alexander Nevskiy and Bogdan Khmel’nitskiy! We are imposing… at least in our own minds. But to our friends the Serbs, and their enemies the Bosnians, and the Muslims (who hate us all), and the Albanians too, they are not so impressed.
We are about fed-up with this “peacekeeping” nonsense, Shoura. Especially what with the war in Georgia picking up. We all wish to come home and defend the Rodina against your Sheikh. And this may be possible. I am told that the 210th’s deployed companies may be called home to fill out the Regiment in Georgia. One hopes for the best. I am sick of trying to keep all these former Yugoslavs from killing one another.
We do not have an IRLF here, but we do have a KLA, the Kosovar Liberation Army, and that is just as bad. Recently, we were sent to northern Kosovo to try to keep the Serbs and the Albanian Kosovars from each other’s throats. The Albanians trust the Americans and the NATO units, and it is thought that the Serbs would trust us, and all would be quiet and peaceful. And we were all wrong, as usual. It is not open war here, usually. But the KLA is bent on separatism and killing Serbs, and our friendly Serbs are all for that idea only in reverse, and we have all sworn to prevent that, after all. It was the KLA’s turn, I suppose, to throw a monkey-wrench into the latest U.N. attempt at peace. And where they got the armored vehicles, I have no idea… but they have them. This is where my story starts. You are not the only one to see action! We got some action this week.