The Ahavah IX: The Battle of Baikonur

“We are spirit bound to this flesh. We go round one foot nailed down, but bound to reach out and beyond this flesh…”
— Tool, “Pneuma”

Read previous chapters here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8


We waited until full darkness before we launched the assault on the Baikonur cosmodrome. My group was led by Sanzhar, as usual. We were fully loaded with ammunition and all of the weapons we could carry in our 14-man assault team. That amounted to a smattering of AK-style assault rifles, some hunting rifles — both semi-automatic and bolt action — shotguns, and handguns. Some of the men also carried bludgeoning weapons such as iron pipes, axes, and long wrenches with blades welded onto them like bayonets.

Nurislam’s group was responsible for breaching the wall, which they planned to accomplish with an explosive device made up of fertilizer and Tovex, plus some other components that escaped me. Our leader, Balga, had looted the Tovex from a mining operation on one of the Diezel Uldar’s earliest raids. He had held onto it ever since, waiting for the moment when he could use it to penetrate the defenses of the space port.

Another of Balga’s lieutenants, Shamil, led his group as the diversion for the breach. They crept within 100 meters of the security wall and opened up a sustained volley of fire. While they peppered the wall and guard tower, drawing the attention of the guards above, Nurislam and two of his men made their way up to a separate section of the wall, far enough away from the besieged tower to escape notice, and planted the device. They set the timer and ran back to cover. It was crude, but it would serve its purpose.

After two minutes, the bomb detonated with a shocking clap, followed by a blast wave that we felt from our position of cover just outside the wall. Sanzhar waited only a few seconds, and then got up and shouted for us to follow him through the breach. He saw me hesitate and shouted at me, “Let’s go Moshe, damn you!” I was jolted into movement.

Our group, Nurislam’s, and a third led by Aiday — some 40 men in total — rushed through the large hole blown in the side of the wall. The assault had begun. I was terrified and stayed near the middle of the pack, my small handgun at the ready, feeling like I was a lemming rushing headlong over a cliff.


I was in shock. One minute, I was inside the Ahavah, talking to Brett on the reconfigured comms net, filled with joy that we had finally managed to reestablish contact with each other, and the next I was witnessing what I could only assume was an attack happening on the cosmodrome walls that kept us safe. The sound of gunfire had filled the quiet night, then a thunderous explosion that left a large hole in the wall about a mile distant from where the Ahavah sat.

I almost ran from the ship toward the barracks area, where I knew the armed contingent of our population would be gathering to repel the attack, but then I remembered Brett. I could not just abandon him again, without some kind of explanation.

“Brett, it’s Yara. Sorry, I have to go now. The spaceport is under attack from a group of Outliers. I will recontact you as soon as it’s safe, over.”

“Jesus, Yara, be careful. Contact me as soon as you can. Stay safe! I love you. Brett, out.”

“I will, Brett. I love you, too. Yara, out.”

I made my way back to the open hatch and looked out toward the hole in the wall. It looked like the gunfire was now inside the walls, and was both directed at, and emanating from, the guard towers on either side of the hole that had been blown in the wall.

I also saw a large plume of dust rising up from the steppe that separated our living area from the wall. I felt my stomach sink as I realized it was being thrown up by vehicles — vehicles headed directly towards us.


As we made our way through the smoking hole in the cosmodrome wall, we split into fighting elements again, as we had rehearsed. Our group converged on the closest guard tower and began to open fire on it from below. Meanwhile, Shamil’s group continued to fire at the same tower from the other side of the wall. Collectively, our fire was coming from from two different directions, and shredding the tower. Above the din of the gunfire, I heard Sanzhar calling for a ceasefire after only about 30 seconds of our assault.

“Hold fire, hold fire,” Sanzhar shouted. Finally, everyone stopped, and we waited to hear if there was any return fire coming from the tower. There was not. A similar scene played out at the tower not 200 meters from us, on the other side of the hole. The other two groups had converged on that tower and also appeared to have silenced the gunfire coming from it.

Sanzhar nodded at another of our men, who pulled a flare gun from his holster and fired it into the air. A short time after, our vehicles began rolling through the hole in the wall. We had four tractor trailers we had outfitted for the assault. They were fortified with welded armor on the sides and front, with ports cut into the sides for us to shoot through.

As we had rehearsed, we all mounted the tractor trailers, one group per truck, and began the drive to the heart of the cosmodrome.


I made my way back to the living quarters and saw others running around frantically. Some were soldiers, manning positions and preparing weapons, and others were civilians looking for a place to flee. I saw Michael Costa in the scrum of people and made my way to him.

“Michael, it’s an attack. I saw a hole in the wall, and it looks like vehicles are crossing the steppe and headed this way.”

“I know. The alarm has gone up. We have to get to the underground bunker area. It’s stocked and prepared for this kind of attack. Follow me, Yara.”

So I did, and we made our way inside the main mission control building. Michael led me to a flight of stairs and we made our way down into the below-ground level of the structure. My first thought was that it was vast. It had clearly been used to store large craft underground, as it was a large and open space. We ran through it to the far side, and entered a separate, smaller room that was already filling with people. It was a large enough space to accommodate all of the people I had seen at the spaceport so far.

“We’ll be safe in here,” Michael said. “The protocol is to lock ourselves in and wait for the soldiers to repel the attack. They’ll give us the all-clear when it’s safe to come out.”

I simply nodded and made my way inside. Others had gathered, most in the same clothes in which they had been sleeping. They had clearly rehearsed what to do in the case of an attack like this, and I admired the overall calm. Still, I noticed some were crying, and others looked very afraid. Still others tried to calm those who looked close to panic.

“Michael, has this happened before?” I asked Costa.

“Not a breach of the wall, no,” he said. “We’ve had attacks on the wall before, but no Outliers have ever made it inside. We’ve rehearsed it, though. Practiced this type of response.”

Costa sounded calm, but I could see the fear and uncertainty in his eyes. Everyone was afraid, and I wondered if we would be able to come out of this without losing some of our people. Just as this thought entered my mind, I heard more gunfire and explosions coming from above us, much closer this time.

The Outliers had made their way to the heart of the space port.


Our trucks made their way across the steppe and as we approached the compound that housed the residential and command buildings, the trucks fanned out and circled the compound, as we had rehearsed. The trucks also came in and presented their sides to the compound, so that we could use them as a firing position, with cover and concealment provided by the armored sides.

Balga was in our truck, leading the overall assault, and he and Sanzhar conferred with each other as the rest of us began laying down fire at the fighting positions in our field of fire. It looked as though there were two dug-in foxhole-type positions arrayed against our truck. Each was directing heavy fire at our truck, but our armor had so far held up.

Despite the protection of our armored vehicle, I was terrified. The repeated and sharp dings against our armor shook me and I imagined those rounds penetrating our armor and cutting us down. Sanzhar’s second-in-command shouted at us to return fire at the fighting position closest to us. We did so, but it seemed like we made little headway. The rounds kept coming at us.

Sanzhar returned from his conference with Balga and grabbed the man next to me, a teenager who had a reputation as a fierce fighter in our group. He also pulled an older man from right next to me and led them both back to the corner of the tractor trailer. I saw Sanzhar point at the fighting position not 25 meters from us, beckoning with his hands, and speaking closely in their ears. Both men nodded gravely, and looked determined and afraid.

Sanzhar then looked over to Balga and gave him a signal with his arm. Balga then tapped the man next to him on the shoulder and the man, unbelievably to me, took off at a run toward the fighting position, from an angle just off to the side of it. He looked to have objects in each hand he carried as he ran.

At the same moment, Sanzhar commanded us to open fire with everything we had, concentrating on the fighting position at which the man ran, the angle of his approach shielding him from our volley of fire.

As he ran, I could see tracer fire whiz by the man and I was mesmerized by his progress as he closed the gap between us and the fighting position. When he was halfway there, Sanzhar told the two men from our group to go, and they both took off in the direction of the position, from the opposite angle.

Just then, the first man threw one, then the other, of the objects in his hand at the fighting position. He must’ve been only five meters away at that point, and as he threw the objects he fell, cut down by the gunfire coming from the fighting position. Not five seconds later, two deafening explosions rocked the fighting position, one after the other, sending two clouds of smoke into the air.

Sanzhar’s two men had timed their run perfectly as they arrived at the position about seven seconds after the explosions. One seemed wounded by the blast, as he limped the final meters. That did not stop them, though, from aiming their weapons into the fighting position and emptying their fresh magazines at the men inside.

They had done it. They had overrun the fighting position. Now, just one remained.


The gunfire and explosions above us seemed to go on and on and I wondered how much longer the ammunition supply on both sides would hold out. We remained hunkered down in grim silence, no one talking, the fear heavy like a fog over us. I was shaking, despite my efforts to stop myself. Costa remained silent beside me, looking up at the ceiling above us as if trying to read the battle from the sounds that made their way down to us.

And then it went quiet. The gunfire and explosions seemed to stall out and then stop altogether. The silence settled on us and weighed as heavily as the fear. I looked around to see how everyone was responding, and gave Costa a questioning glance.

“Someone should come down and give us the all-clear once it’s over,” he said to me, answering my unspoken question.

“What if we lost?” I asked.

Costa did not answer me. He only looked over to the entrance and waited.

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1 year ago

Ohhh crap… :/ It’s not looking good. I keep waiting for Fru to tell us “cool. sold the movie rights. you’ll have to wait for the silver screen suckers!”

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago

Oh no! They’ve been overrun! This is not good, Fru! You can’t let the baddies win! The goodies have to be triumphant! Now get back on that keyboard and fix this! ‘kay?

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  Frumentarius

I hope that’s code for, “Yep. I’m on it”… 🙂

1 year ago

Sorry FRU – this is a place holder, work has been nutz. I am going to get to this. Again, thanks so much for your continued blood, sweat and tears keeping this alive for us.

1 year ago
Reply to  Mason

Ahhh, holy hell, holy hell man. Really??? Please tell me someone has a fire time circling around these jokers and will open up on their flank . . . . dammit Fru, dammit!

1 year ago

Ahhh, holy hell, holy hell man. Really??? Please tell me someone has a fire time circling around these jokers and will open up on their flank . . . . dammit Fru, dammit!

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  Frumentarius

Soon enough?? But, Fru, we need it now! C’mon, you can’t keep us hanging like this!

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  Frumentarius

Sigh. Okay, Fru. I shall wait patiently 🙂

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