Ami Chono stood atop the commanders hatch of her tank. Her raven coloured hair was hidden within a combat helmet and all but her her shoulders up , was hidden within the tanks turret.
"Driver," she called out, "Take us right, towards the ravine, quickly."
"Yes Commander!" came the feminine reply. The aged tank clattered as it turned, its diesel engine roaring. The following Type-61's copied the action, keeping up. Ami-Chan was not in her usual tank. Until recently, she had commanded a Type-90 MBT. That was soon replaced by a brand-new Type-10. On this occasion, however, her mount was a Type-74 Battle Tank. State-of-the-Art when it was first produced, it was now vastly second line, but still in limited service with the JGSDF.
"Shinhoto Chi-Ha Number 17, storm the forest. Escorts. keep that tank in your sight, we don't have many of them." Far away, a lone Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha medium tank rallied its escorting Chi-Ha's and Te-Ke's, attacking the helpless light tanks inside the forest.
"Chi-To 5, report."
"We have sighted targets and have taken aim. Requesting permission to fire?" Ami nodded subconsciously.
"Engage targets at will."
"Commander," the driver said over the internal radio, "We are approaching the ravine."
"Affirmative, Kawachi-San, slow our speed, I'll keep scanning for enemies."
"Right," Kawachi acknowledged, "Maintaining course and slowing."
As the Type-74 drew ever closer to the side of the ravine, the tremors it created made small fragments of the bank crumble away, tumbling down the bank and splashing into the water below. The ravine, wasn't a real ravine: it was artificial. Built to simulate the conditions that the Team would come up against during the nearing World Championships. The Type-74 force was not the only group closing on the gash in the earth, however. Another group of similar post-war tanks were supporting a push. They were lead by a tiny Type-94 Tankette. Not the strongest, but reasonably fast as a scout tank.
"Type-94 01 to Lead, we are closing on targets."
"Stand by 01," the commander of the enemy Type-69 responded. A short while later she followed up with "Withdraw to a safe distance."
"Right." The Tankette's commander replied. The little machine turned around and trundled away.
"This is Lead. Take up firing position, we have the enemy Flag Group in sight. When I give the word, let them have it!"
The group of Chinese- and Japanese-built tanks came to a stop and aimed their turrets at the targets across the ravine. They instantly began emptying their stocks of ammunition, successfully taking out a hapless Type-61. Ami's Flag group kept crawling forward, undeterred, returning fire. The Type-74's 105mm gun bellowed, knocking out a Type 62 light. The Team playing the enemy didn't have any tank that were a match for the '74. What they did have, was a trick up their sleeve. Ami glared at the behemoth that crashed from the undergrowth.
"What the hell are they doing with a Type-90?!" she screamed. Immediately, she began adjusting the radio frequency
"This is Commander Chono! Type-90, Hold your fire!" She ordered desperately.
"Chono-San," The '69's commander called out, "You always taught us to be innovative! We thought-"
"You KNOW the rules!" Chono snapped sounded like the crack of a rifle, "I can't raise the Type-90. PLEASE tell me it's SDF crewed?" The '69's commander was taken aback.
"No. We, uh... we borrowed it."
"You what?" Chono yelled, "That tank isn't restricted by the conduct of Sensha-Dou! It has no legal ammunition, it fires live rounds!Who are they aiming for?" There was an audible gulp from the headphones.
Ami-Chan slowly looked up in horror. True to Yushari-San's word, the 120mm smoothbore L/44 gun of the Type-90 was pointed directly at the Type-74. There was no doubt an APFSDS round was already loaded in the gun breech.
"Tell that Tank not to fir-!"
The cannon spat flames. Four pieces of aluminium sabot flew off the needle like round and spun through the air. A split-second after the first piece hit the ground, the round penetrated the Type-74's hull.
The tank exploded. The air compression forced Ami out of the hatch and through the air and she came down hard. There was larger secondary explosion as the ammunition racks blew. Racked by internal stresses, the tank gave up the fight to stay in one piece. The turret was thrown off in an almighty concussive blast. It sailed majestically through the air, in the general direction of Chono-San. Ami saw the threat before her and scrambled to her feet. But before she could begin running towards it (to prevent it landing on her) the wrecked turret finally fell down, clipping her head. The helmet she wore was not up to the task of repelling several tons of burning metal and duly caved in. The turret bounced back up before coming down again, sliding along the floor before stopping, leaving a still body in its wake.
All eyes stopped and watched in horror as the Command Tank, still moving at the time it was hit, reached the side of the ravine and began rolling viciously down the steep sides of the ravine. The tracks broke off and various pieces of metal and equipment came loose from their stowage boxes and went flying as the shattered vehicle descended the steep cliffs. An almighty cascade of water signified that the Type-74 had landed, ending its final journey. From start to fiery finish, the escapade had taken less than a minute. The arena speaker system crackled into life almost immediately,
"All vehicles, cease training. I repeat, all vehicles are to cease training immediately and assist in rescue of Lead panzer." came the terrible announcement.
As all the other tanks closed in on the ravine and two JGSDF armoured recovery vehicles were released from their hangers, Ono Yushari was stuck to her seat.
"What have I done?," she choked, salty tears streaming down her rosy cheeks "There's no way Chono-San could have survived that!"