This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross
Located in the centre of Devon and covering an area of some 368 square miles, Dartmoor National Park is an area of exposed granite peaks known as tors and bleak, exposed moorland which inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles. The centre of the National Park is the higher moor, a vast brooding treeless expanse. Before the Twilight War Dartmoor was home to some 33,000 people, living in a number of small towns and villages (the largest individual settlement was the town of Ashburton on the south east edge of the moor, with a population of some 3,500, whilst the smallest were hamlets consisting of only a few dozen people). In many respects life on Dartmoor had been relatively unchanged for hundreds of years; the main industries at the end of the 20th Century were tourism and farming.
Since the late summer of 1998 Dartmoor has been home to a group of Warsaw Pact prisoners of war who escaped from a POW Camp at Okehampton on the northern edge of the moor. Known as Konev’s Wolves and some thirty strong, the group is led by Captain Nikolai B Konev, a thirty two year old Spetznaz officer who had previously seen active service in China, Konev was captured in Norway. His second in command is Hauptmann Stefan Neumann; an officer in the East German Stasi’s Felix Dzerzhinsky Guards Regiment, thirty year old Neumann was one of a number of East German soldiers who remained loyal to the Communists when the Bundeswehr crossed the Inner German Border. He was captured by the British in June 1997 fighting on the banks of the Vistula.
Most of the Wolves are veterans of the Soviet Spetznaz and Airborne forces who were captured in the first nine months of the War. After they escaped they made their way onto Dartmoor. Coming across a remote farmhouse occupied by several families, they killed most of the inhabitants (some of the women were spared and would spend the winter as the Soviets’ captives) and settled in for the winter. They survived by raiding isolated cottages and hamlets for food, water, and other supplies, with word of their existence soon beginning to spread through Dartmoor’s communities.
In April 1999 a detachment from the Government garrison in Plymouth entered the National Park to try and hunt down Konev and his men. The British Territorials were no match for the Soviet veterans however, and were forced to call off their search and retreat back to Plymouth at the end of the month after having lost nearly thirty men killed and wounded. Concerned that the British might return in greater numbers, the Soviets abandoned the farmhouse, burning it to the ground and moving deeper onto the moor. By now they were mounted on horseback, having raided a stable near the village of Poundsgate the previous month, murdering the people living there and stealing all the horses.
The Wolves stayed on the move throughout the summer and early autumn of 1999, living rough on the moor and leading the lives of marauders. As winter approached they occupied a small hamlet consisting of a dozen cottages clustered around a village store. They saw out the winter there, before moving on again in the spring to roam Dartmoor once more. With a well earned reputation for cruelty and atrocities, the Wolves are greatly feared throughout the region. They continue to survive by preying on local communities, with their modus operandi generally being to ride in into a village, often at dawn, and demand whatever they wish, whether that be supplies, ammunition, or, on occasion, women. If their requirements are met, they will generally spare the settlement’s inhabitants; any attempts at resistance are dealt with ruthlessly.
Whilst most of the Wolves retain their Soviet Army uniforms, including their distinctive blue berets and blue and white striped vests, a number of them also have items of British Army uniform and equipment they have taken from dead British soldiers (both the guards that they overpowered when they first escaped and the detachment sent after them in 1999). They are well armed, having also seized a number of weapons, mainly L85A1 assault rifles and SLR’s. They also have a single GPMG and a number of hand grenades, as well as severalof shotguns and civilian hunting rifles. Ammunition is in extremely short supply however, so each man is also armed with some sort of melee weapon, chiefly knifes and axes.
Captain Nikolai B Konev
Nikolai Konev was born in Moscow in 1968. The youngest child of General Major Boris V Konev, from 1982 to 1986 he lived in Washington DC, where his father was the Defence Attaché at the Soviet Embassy to the United States. Returning to the Soviet Union, he joined the Red Army in 1988, being posted to his father’s old unit, the 76th Guards Air Assault Division, as a Junior Lieutenant. In 1991 he passed selection for the Spetznaz and was transferred to the Far Eastern Military District. He saw active service during the opening phases of the Sino Soviet War, where his unit became notorious for atrocities committed against Chinese troops and civilians.
Towards the end of 1996 Konev was promoted to Captain and transferred from the Far East to the Leningrad Military District, where he took command of his own Spetznaz team. Following the outbreak of War in Europe, Konev and his team went in to action in Norway; parachuting in behind the front line and attacking NATO rear area positions, the Spetznaz wreaked havoc and mayhem for several months until they were finally cornered by British paratroopers at the start of 1997. Whilst most of the team were killed in a gun battle just outside the town of Narvik, Konev was wounded, being shot in the right leg, and was captured alive. Following treatment by British Army doctors, he was transferred to the UK, arriving at Okehampton POW camp in April 1997.
Located on the north edge of Dartmoor and used as a training camp by the British Army before the War, Okehampton had been converted into a holding facility for POW’s at the end of 1996. It held just over a hundred prisoners, most of whom had been classified as hardcore communists, and whom the British authorities wished to question further to see if any intelligence could be gleaned from them. Whilst most of the prisoners had been captured in Norway, during the second quarter of 1997 they were joined by compatriots who had been captured in Poland by British forces taking part in Operation Advent Crown, and by the end of the summer Okehampton was home to around two hundred and twenty prisoners, mostly Soviet, but with a sprinkling of pro Communist East Germans, Poles and Czechs and a single Italian.
The nuclear exchange brought a halt to any new arrivals, however and as 1998 wore on these was considerable debate about what to do with the prisoners at Okehampton. Food, water, and other essential supplies all had to come by road from Plymouth, some forty miles away, in convoys escorted by the Army. By the start of the summer these convoys were becoming much less frequent and the prisoners were proving a huge drain on the meagre resources of HMG’s Plymouth enclave, so the decision was taken to put them to work, carrying out forced labour under armed guard. At the end of August Konev and a number of other prisoners were working in a field outside Okehampton when they managed to overpower their guards. Killing the guards and taking their weapons, they sought refuge on Dartmoor.
Konev speaks fluent English and passable German. Highly intelligent, he is an accomplished chess player. He has a chess set amongst his personal belongings, and has been known to offer prisoners a chance to win their freedom by playing him at chess. He displays many sociopathic symptoms, frequently flying into a rage without any provocation and showing absolutely no remorse for his actions. He is also an expert in manipulating people, most notably Sarah Meadows, a British woman who has been his captive for nearly two years.
Twenty three years old, Meadows is another of the Twilight War’s tragic casualties. She fell into Konev’s hands when the Wolves seized her parents’ farm in the autumn of 1998, and he took her with him as his prisoner when they moved on. Konev looked on Meadows as a trophy, subjecting her to brutal treatment physically and emotionally, whilst not letting any of the other Wolves touch her. Despite the fact that she watched him kill her parents, over time Meadows has developed symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, displaying feelings for Konev and believing that he is in love with her.
Konev is well aware of Meadows’ feelings for him, and has used them to increase his control over her. This culminated in an incident at the start of 2000 when the Wolves captured a group of civilians. Konev handed Meadows a loaded pistol and had her execute one of them, shooting the man in the back of the head at point blank range. She is no longer a prisoner in the literal sense, riding freely with the Wolves as they roam Dartmoor, but she has become utterly dependent on Konev, seeking his approval for every action, and will fiercely resist any attempt to rescue her; indeed, she is likely to betray any would be rescuers to the Wolves.