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Let's Watch Some TANKERY!

Posted on Sun Jan 14th, 2024 @ 7:46pm by Lieutenant JG Jane Sinclair & Lieutenant Ami Rori

4,491 words; about a 22 minute read

Mission: Operation Tokyo Return
Location: Ami's Quarters

It was nearly four in the ship's afternoon and Ami had abandoned her place of work almost two hours before because she had some serious plans that she needed to put into place. Now that she had someone else who had shown some interest in one of her own, she had to keep them interested. Her thoughts went back to how she'd gotten into the art form that she considered tankery to be, Sensha-do in her native Japanese, Panzerfahren in German and something her sister had gotten into and as a dutiful and hero-loving little sister, Ami had followed.

Decorations in her quarters were nearly complete, with her entire collection of miniature tank models from over two centuries and dozens of nationalities. Each was hand-painted painstakingly over the last decade to be as true to their era and original as she could make them. The M4A3E8 had been painted like the famous one with name of 'Fury' on the sides, even the rather ineffective Chi-to of the Japanese make was here and in full warpaint. Silken flags were hanging off the walls, different nationalities and writing on them. But the pride of place went to the blank wall and the projection system she'd set up for this evening. Back on Earth, the Amateur Tankery League had been busy trying to become a recognized sport and a tournament had been set up to prove the concept. Back in her time and even recently, Ami had been one of the main drivers behind the idea and had helped to set up the rules of the sport.

Now it was coming to fruition and she couldn't be there for it, so now she was here at least determined to WATCH it. This was the first of a dozen preliminary matches, essentially free-for-alls with nearly a dozen tanks participating for two or maybe three spots in the semi-final matches. In fact, one of her old friends who had remained a civilian, Tama Hinohara, was going to be in this one with her own favorite tank, a Panther of German make, however instead of the typical German camouflage, it would be painted in bright colors, almost daring someone to shoot at it. Ami adjusted the lighting as she waited for her guest.

Jane had not been this excited to watch a sporting event in forever. A while earlier she had arranged for the crew to join her in the lounge for the hockey finals. That had been a good night.

A lot of her friends that enjoyed sports had rotated off the ship. But she had a new friend, one who had introduced her to this one new sport that, even two weeks earlier she knew nothing about, and now she was getting into it. So when Ami had given her firm information about this first prelim, including the date, the time, and the competitors, along with a firm invitation to watch at her place, she was in. She had even prepared with some research, and brought with her a PADD with the profiles of each of the teams.

She was in her favourite “#81” shirt and a black skirt, carrying two stacked sealed containers, eager to watch the game. She chimed Ami’s door and waited patiently.

“Come in, come in!” Ami said excitedly, hopping over the back of the couch to get to the door, eager to see Jane and the match both. As the door opened, she almost rushed out it to give her newest friend a hug, but restrained herself, bouncing on the balls of her bare feet, “We’ve got about twenty minutes before they start, and it’s LIVE! We’re going to get to see it as it happens!”

"Live?" Jane asked. "Damn, they got network support then!" She had assumed that they would watch on a delay of minutes or maybe even hours. But a live broadcast meant this was really being taken seriously.

"I brought food!" the pilot said with cheer in her voice and a grin on her face. She set her stack of containers on the nearby table and set to opening them. "Courtesy of the replicator. Nachos with jalapenos, melted cheese, and a selection of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for dipping, and vegetable spring rolls with plum, hoisin, or sweet chili sauces. And of course some synthale."

"Nailed it!" Ami cheered, now NOT restraining herself since Jane's hands were empty and gave her a tight squeeze of a hug, "You're my hero! And they got the network because someone sent in a letter to them pointing out that this is a relatively new sport and that a feature on it would highlight to the rest of the Federation that there are many different ways to participate in sports." She shook her head as she released her, "They didn't name names, so I don't know who.. But we're going to see one of my best friends from my actual Tankery days, Tama, and she's not even the favorite to win!"

"I think Iria Tipene will win it," Jane replied. "I've been reading everything I can, I have. She's commanding a British A27M Cromwell and she's been a tactical genius in previous bouts. And I went to the Academy with her driver, Olivia Fowler." She opened a bottle of synthale and handed it to Ami before then opening a second one for herself. "Cheers."

"Iria is the favorite, yes, I'll admit it and I've been up against her in a best-of-five informal bout a few years ago." Ami accepted the drink and sipped from it before grabbing one of the spring rolls and dipped it in the plum sauce, "She won four of the five. I'm willing to bet that it's going to depend on who detects the other first and if they can maneuver without counterdetection. I'm a bit too aggressive with my own moves, but I like speed over caution. Either way, someone's winning streak is about to come to an end." She got some more plum sauce and stuck the spring roll in her mouth like a cigar while she piled a plate with the nachos and loaded them up with condiments, adding another pair of the spring rolls.

"Nancy Ruggieri in her Sherman VC Firefly is an underrated competitor in this particular field. You're going to have to watch her fire control, because she'll only shoot a handful of times at most." Ami plunked herself down on the couch and after pulling up her feet, moved the low table closer so she could put her plate on it "She does not miss. At least, not without some good reason for it, and that 17-pounder will kill most tanks with a single hit if she doesn't. Rounding out the top four in this particular field of twelve is Vittoria Garcia. She's a sneaky little one, values keeping a low profile early on and finding a hidey hole to ambush from." She pointed to one of the models on the table, "Challenger, kin to the Cromwell, but slower and with a bigger gun. I've driven with Tama though, and if she's not one of the last two, I'll... I don't know what I'll do. She's a helluva shot on the move."

“I don’t think we should rule out Beata Kokot,” Jane observed. “Seems like she’s new but she has good stats, and keeps that 7TP of hers moving. Last round-robin match, Garcia actually missed her.” She sipped her drink and then set it on the table so her hands were free to put some nachos and sauces for it on a plate. “I trust your judgment on Tama though. I bet she’ll tear through a lot of them. How long ago did you compete?” she asked before chowing down.

"Twelve years ago for actually competing, right before I joined the Academy, but if this had happened back then, I'd have been her driver for this. Let's see... Hiroshi Kata is her driver now, I think? She was only twelve when she took over for me, been driving for Tama ever since, so they're a well-oiled team at this point." Ami pondered for a moment, "Sakura Nakajima is her loader and spotter, not many better in that business. I was on leave a few years ago and went home, found out that I'm still a better driver than Hiroshi, but she's not too far behind me."

“It’s good to know that you’re still on top,” Jane said with a giggle. “It’s the same feeling I had when I learned that I could still outrace Tyli sh’Veshron.” She sipped her beer again; it was a cool, refreshing ale, the best kind when enjoying a sporting match. “You forget, of course, the most important thing. Adeline Holmes is from Proxima and so obviously she’ll win, even if she and her T-26 are at the bottom of the ranking.”

Ami was taking a drink of her own and the snort of laughter sprayed some of it out her nose, which made her gasp in shock, "I've never heard of her!" She laughed, wiping her nose as she looked and saw Proxima's flag indeed by the name of Adeline Holmes, an image of the small tank next to it, "At least it's good to see people from all over the place! Oh, they're about to begin!"

On the screen, there were about 16 different views of everything, including one of the judges in the central area, then one on each of the tank crews which were all in their starting locations. "Welcome to the First Preliminary Round of the Federations Solo Tankery Competition. The last tank functioning will be declared the winner and move on to the Semifinals. The remainder of the teams will be moved into rankings with all remaining preliminary runners up, the top eighteen will join the six Round winners in the Semifinals." The speaker, the head judge was an attractive woman, but all five judges were in military uniforms from older militaries."

"Tankery is based upon respect for each other. All teams: Bow." On the screen, all of the teams bowed, presumeably to each other despite that none could see them, "Start your engines and on the starshell, good luck to you all!" The head judge prepared a gun ceremonially, then after a pair of minutes, pointed it into the air and fired. A bright light sparkled on the screen and every team lurched into motion.

Several minutes would pass before any of them made contact with one another, as the positions on the primary map in the screen showed the locations of the teams, but the announcers made good use of the time, introducing each of the teams to the audience, even while Ami all but bounced on the edge of her seat. "It's still not a sport without dangers, but it really is overall rather safe."

Jane had also been captivated, the fact that it had taken so long for any one team to encounter another only building the tension until that first shot, hit, and surrender flag. The crowd cheered. First blood to Garcia. First eliminated: Holmes. Jane winced to see her national team eliminated, but that meant she was free to root for others.

"I know the competition has started," she said, taking a second to refill her plate with nachos. "But how would you feel about a wager?"

Ami’s eyes brightened as for just a moment the face she looked at, the voice she heard, wasn’t Jane Sinclair, but someone she hadn’t seen for over a decade. It had been said with that same jaunty smile and question. But even as she heard it in another voice, Jane’s features came back into view and Ami smiled back at her, “Of course! What do we wanna bet, and what about? I say that Garcia will be taken out by Iris as one of her four kills, Tama will win with three.”

"Damn, girl," Jane said with a laugh. "You play hard. I was just going to suggest betting on the winner of this match. I don't know enough to make bets on the spread. Go easy on the noob," she added with a playful wink. "You think Tama will take it? I think Iria will. As for what to's got to be something good." She tapped her chin, thinking hard. She had a couple of ideas, but wasn't sure which was the best.

“Loser buys at our next stop’s best restaurant?” Ami offered, wondering what would be considered that wherever the Tokyo might be. As they started this back and forth banter, the KV-2 belched flame and smoke as it fired, almost as if it itself had blown up. Instead, the T34/85 with the markings of a Chinese tank appeared to vanish in the explosion. When the fire finished, the white flag of a knocked out tank emerged. Then the smoke cleared from the KV-2’s turret and it too had the white flag. On the scoreboard, while it was crossed out, the dead KV had one kill marker, while one showed up for the Panther of Tama as well. A Tiger Heavy tank was seen coasting to a stop, one track blown off, then another explosion on the rear flipped the flag up and a kill marker for Iria showed on the screen.

Of the Panther, there was no clue where it was, but the Cromwell zipped past the dead Tiger from behind, , headed for the heavy underbrush on the opposite side of the clearing. One round flew over the Cromwell before it vanished behind the brush, but no tank followed in pursuit.

“Deal,” Jane said, giving Ami a fist bump. “Damn, where is that Panther? If we can’t see it, neither can the rest of them.” Including my girl Iria.

"Oh, you don't know where she is?" Ami smirked, eyes searching the various screens for where everyone else was. She saw the Firefly nosing it's way across a stream before hauling itself up another bank and roaring between some trees. From the flank of the Firefly came a series of several rapid-fire shots, three of which stitched across the turret, bouncing off dramatically. Then another single shot of a larger caliber that took the Firefly in the joint between the turret and hull. That shell didn't explode, defused by the field in that vulnerable spot, but the surrender flag still popped up. Someone in the Commander's cupola of the Locust that had fired the first shots pointed off to the side and the small tank wheeled and began to accelerate just as another round was fired and the explosion that took out the engine was finally tracked back to a now ragged hole in a bush where a tank cannon was briefly seen before it backed out.

The Panther moved slowly, a skinny periscope lens stuck up and out, spinning around briefly before the Panther lurched out of this hiding spot and accelerated, a head sticking out before looking down and giving a rapid fire set of orders. From ground level, the tank would have disappeared as it dropped into the culvert and drove along it as Tama changed positions. "See, that first one was a long shot, but the KV-2 was a big target. Now she's going to find somewhere to lay low for a bit, let the rest of the field sort it out. You see that rock formation over there?" She pointed on the map to a spot where none of the tanks seemed to be, "She'll see that and probably deploy some camouflage to blend in."

“The question is,” Jane said, “will any of the others get the same idea?” One of the feeds showed Iria’s Cromwell creeping out from between two dilapidated buildings and disabling the 7TP without a challenge.

The Panther vanished up the embankment and towards the rocks, lost to sight now as the nose of the IS snuffled out to where the Cromwell had been sighted, but not seeing it. The larger tank took two hits in quick succession, both rounds pinging off the armor as the Churchill shot from an angle before it began to grind a retreat towards the back of a burned out church. The IS's cannon BOOMED and the round impacted the tough hide of the Churchill with no real effect. The Churchill completed the side-crawling maneuver to hide behind the large building, only to erupt in surrender flag as a precise shot hit it from behind. Garcia's Challenger knew it couldn't take the IS head-on and withdrew to the edge of town where it began a high-speed run along the outskirts in an attempt to get behind the heavy tank that surged forward to try to catch the tank destroyer in the open…

…and in doing so drove directly into the sights of the Cromwell. One clean shot took out the left drive system. Vittoria Garcia’s surrender flag went up. For her the match was over.

For Iria Tipene, it was far from over. The Cromwell got onto a main road and ran parallel to the IS. They traded shots as gaps between the buildings permitted, until one too many took the IS out of commission.

All the while, Jane was on the edge of her seat. “It’s down to yours and mine.”

Ami’s eyes were on the screen, where the drones had locked cameras on where the Cromwell was moving slowly so not to kick up dust, as well as an innocuous bush. But Ami looked closer at that bush when leaves rustled. A lump of leaves was moving slowly back and forth. As one of the drones came in at a different angle, shielded binoculars were visible so as not to reflect light. It was obvious that the observer was an expert in what they were doing. Even still, it was apparent they saw nothing.

On the screen, the Cromwell was circling around, seeking the Panther even while the Panther remained where it was, attempting to perform an ambush operation. Ami's eyes watched as the British tank got closer and closer to the German one, nearly bouncing in her seat. "Come on, Tama, look the other way for a minute." The rotating head stopped for a moment, then twitched as if hearing something else for a moment before continuing the search when whatever they heard went away, apparently dismissing the noise as being very different.

On the screen, the Cromwell had stopped and someone had gotten out, creeping up over a small rise, then dropping to the ground, lifting something to her eyes before dropping them and hugging the dirt. Several seconds later, they risked another peek, then crawled forward another foot and lifting binoculars to their eyes again before backing up once more. They carefully and quietly returned to their tank and climbed up, having words with someone inside before climbing in once more. There were more than 30 seconds before the Cromwell began to move once more, lurching forward to crest the small rise in moments, gun firing a quick round, which bounced off the angle of the turret.

The figure on top of the Panther dropped down instantly and even as another round came in, started moving forward, causing another bounce to ring off the turret. It was clear that the Panther was on the run, though the turret began to swing around, loosing an HE round that impacted in front of the Cromwell, spraying it with dirt as the tanks screamed towards the ruined city as the Panther made a bid for cover. It was obvious that it was purely because of the bouncing ground that the Cromwell's shots missed, because while the Panther was juking back and forth, the shots were glancing off the armor more often than not. Finally, the Panther reached the city and squealed around a corner before opting to go THROUGH a building to create a rubble barrier, but the Cromwell only sped up on the roads to go around.

As the Panther emerged, yet another round rang off the turret and from the head emerging from the Cromwell, it was clear that Iria Tipene had said something that wouldn't be printable. A shot from the Panther missed by only several inches, the treads crushing brick into dust and accelerating hard. Unfortunately, what the Panther had thought was an escape route had turned into a round water fountain that had only three exits now, two roads on opposite sides of it, plus the building it had come through and that now closed as the walls collapsed. The Panther tried to buy time as Tama went around the fountain, but the Cromwell hopped the ledge and ran right through the foot-high fountain and crushed the central figure as it skidded to a stop and fired the moment it rocked back. One of the drive-wheels in the tracks exploded and the track broke, the momentum of the Panther leaving the heavy tread behind.

The broken wheels bumped up on the ledge of the fountain, levelling the Panther as the turret swung wildly towards the Cromwell, which had come down off the center of the fountain, another round blowing another drive wheel off the damaged side of the treads. Tama Hinohara's head popped out as she seemed to aim by feel alone and she shouted a single word down as the Panther slammed to what could only be the final halt. Both guns flashed as the two tanks fired simultaneously. This time, the Cromwell's shot hit the center of the wheel base and drive wheels and other equipment flew from the Panther, finishing the demolition of that side's track system. But after the shot, the Panther crept forward again.

The Cromwell didn't. The Panther's 88 millimeter round impacted the front plate of the British tank and exploded. If it had been an actual combat round instead of a match round, it would have hulled the Cromwell, but instead triggered the surrender flag. Several second later, the Panther drifted to a stop and Tama's surrender flag flipped up, but it was too late. Fireworks had gone up and the match was over.

On the screen, both crews dismounted their tanks and in a show of camaraderie, both had slogged through the water and wrapped their arms around each other, apparently laughing and joking around despite being shooting at each other mere minutes before.

"YES!" Ami cheered as the screen glowed with the final standings of the round. Tama's name was on top, with 4 kills and the triple-star of victory on either side of her name and tank designation. However, her score of 680 was eclipsed by Iria's score next to her name and 4 kills: 740. She'd been instrumental in more damage and influence than Tama had been, definitely an exciting end to the match.

“Damn that was a good match!” Jane exclaimed. “I thought Iria had it, but Tama didn’t pull her shots. Points aside, I guess I owe you that dinner.”

"I dunno." Ami stared at the screen as all of the results showed after the match that had lasted nearly an hour and a half. That was remarkably fast for something like this, but apparently Iria and Tama had really wanted to prove SOMETHING and my oh my had they nearly swept the field with 4 kills each. Garcia had a pair and would be close to getting in on score, but Ruggieri had been shut out, which had been a shocking result for her. "Truth be told, that was essentially a simultaneous kill which would have given Iria five kills and you can see the judges rewarded her for it. I can't call that anything but a tie at best."

“I’ll agree to that,” Jane said. “We’ll treat each other. You pay for me, I’ll pay for you. Deal?”

Ami reached out for the fistbump that was returned, "We have a deal, but don't cheap out on what you order, because that was a freaking awesome fight! But do you think it proved the concept, or will they need to see the other matches first?"

“It will have proven the concept for a lot of people,” Jane agreed. “Maybe not for everyone, and maybe not for the most conservative of sports’ magnates. But it will have impact. By the end of this competition, no one will be able to say that this isn’t a sport people should be playing.”

"That's the hope! And then, maybe, if we're lucky... We can have remote competitions so that by the next one, I can enter and kick some ass of my own!" Ami grinned, "Gotta show Tama and the rest that I'm not gone and forgotten."

“We’ll need to get in lots of practice then,” Jane declared. “You and your trusty gunner, I mean,” she added with a wink. She pantomimed looking through the scope of Ami’s BatChat. “Watch out, Tama. We’ve got you in our sights. Boom!”

Ami raised her hand for a high-five, "Just gotta find a loader! Give you more shots and we'll nail every single one of them! They don't got nothin' on us!"

“I might have a lead on someone who can join us,” Jane said. “One of the fighter pilots. I was telling her about this and she seemed interested in it.”

"Well then, let's try her out and see if she's going to be any good in tight spaces!" Ami said, then went a bright red in a blush, "I um... Meant in a tank, you know, um.." She gave a wry grin.

Knowing that she was talking about Mia, and the agreement she had just made with Alisha, Jane bit her lip to prevent herself from grinning or laughing out loud. “I expect she will be,” Jane quipped. “Well, I should probably go, but let me help tidy up first.” She gathered the plates and other dishes to bring to the replicator to recycle. “Thanks for inviting me, Ami. This was fun!”

“The next match is in five days I think?” Ami grinned widely, “That one should be another interesting one to watch if you’re game? There’s a North American named Leslie Vernet who may also go all the way in her Easy 8, but watch out for that Betazoid named Nyx in her own vintage tank, I can’t remember what they called it, but it’s a Betazoid design from ages ago! Wheeled instead of tracked.. Maybe drag this interested party along to make sure she’s got the stomach for it?”

“Will do,” Jane said, as they continued tidying before Jane returned to her quarters for the night.


Lieutenant jg Jane Sinclair
Chief Flight Control Officer, USS Myogi


Lieutenant Ami Rori
Chief Engineer, USS Myogi


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