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Welcome to Twilight 2000 - The Modern Dark Ages

08:39, 13th July 2024 (GMT+0)

Karel Janku

Karel Janku
Czech, Age 41
ex-Czechoslovak People's Army Airborne Infantry
Languages Spoken:
Czech (native), German (native), Russian (expert), English (professional)
Armament: CZ 2000, vz.61 Skorpion, sarcasm


Karel Janku is a laconic fortyish Eastern European, gray in all particulars, dark-eyed and shaven-headed, perpetually slouched against invisible rain.  His expression is set in a mild frown of generalized disappointment and resignation.  In the field, he's garbed in fatigues in the Czechoslovakian vz.95 leaf pattern with the rank of a Staršina (platoon sergeant) and the unit insignia of the 22nd Airborne Regiment.  Over this, he wears body armor of similar origin, a western-style Kevlar helmet with a British DPM camouflage cover, and Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses.  In garrison, he prefers to trade the uniform and armor for working-class civilian clothes, hiding the Skorpion and its shoulder rig under an oversized and much-repaired CADPAT parka - but the sunglasses stay.


Karel was nine when the Státní Bezpečnost and their KGB masters came for his parents.  He was too young to understand words like "dissident" and "traitor" and "Prague Spring," which was all that saved him from being loaded into the back of an unmarked van in the early hours of a September night in 1968.

The StB, in its small mercy, sent Karel to live with a widowed aunt in northern Bohemia.  This proved unfortunate.  Sarah Janku wasn't an active crusader for reform like her brother and sister-in-law had been, but she was no less vehement in her quiet hatred for the Soviet-backed Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.  She raised the boy as an anti-communist fifth columnist, driven by her own memories and her parents' stories of resistance against the Nazi occupation a generation before.  During the day, Karel dutifully went to school, learning textbook Russian and good socialist values.  At night, he learned suppressed history, and a hidden shortwave radio brought to him his mother's German and the whispered English of the BBC.

Sarah died shortly after Karel finished school.  Bereft of her guidance and direction, he made his way to Prague, where he scratched out a meager living from odd jobs and petty crime.  His life took an ironic formative turn for the better when he was conscripted for a term of service in the Czechoslovakian People's Army.  Unaware of Karel's background and upbringing, his superiors saw only a driven, charismatic young man.  Posting to the elite 22nd Airborne Regiment and promotion to junior NCO rank followed, and when his term of conscription was up, Karel was asked if he had considered a career in service to the state.

Oh, yes.  Yes, he had.

Selected for a military education and commission, Karel saw the genesis of a means to grievously wound the government that had taken everything from him.  He applied himself to his studies with a burning will and graduated near the top of his class.  Returning to the 22nd as a lieutenant, he distinguished himself as a platoon leader, and later a company commander, eventually earning a slot at one of the prestigious Soviet command and staff colleges.

Shortly after reaching captain's rank, Karel was tapped for duty in the Czechoslovakian general staff's intelligence section, working as a liaison officer in East Germany.  It was during his year staring at the Fulda Gap - and seeing reports that confirmed the truths to which he'd been raised - that he decided to move from quiet subversion to active treason.  By the time he returned to Prague, he was firmly established as a reliable Bundesnachrichtendienst intelligence source.

When the war broke out, Karel pressed for reassignment to a field unit.  He got his wish in early 1997, when German artillery created several command vacancies in the Soviet 345th Guards Airborne Regiment.  Serving on the regiment's command staff, Karel began restoring his new unit to readiness, all the while quietly preparing to depart Warsaw Pact service in grand style.

His opportunity came in mid-September, when the Pact resumed its offensive in southern Germany.  During an operation near Augsburg, the regimental command post came apart in a paroxysm of arson, sabotage, and obscene graffiti.  No one noticed a lone intelligence staffer fleeing in the confusion.  Quickly picked up by West German troops, Karel established his bona fides with old but still-valid BND recognition codes and was passed up the chain of command.  After several months of debriefing, Karel was handed off to NATO special operations command, serving as a carefully-supervised intelligence asset and linguist.  When German High Command needed operators who could pass as Warsaw Pact troops for a deep probe into Poland, Karel was an obvious choice.

Today, Karel keeps his own counsel out of long-cultivated reflex.  After thirty years of evasions and half-truths, the debatable freedom of his current circumstances is a difficult condition for him to adjust to.  He built a career on quiet competence, taking the tools his masters gave him and honing them well, always intending to sacrifice himself for ideology and revenge.  Once, he hoped his defection would somehow help end the war and free his nation, but he now knows the war is its own creature, too massive and laden with inertia for any one man to affect.  The fire is all but out.  All he has left is a gun, and he can't do much good with that.  He can only try to stop the worst of the bad.