Tales of the Nineteen Galaxies #16


Okay, so as promised, here’s the latest in the series of Tales.  Had a bit of a break for Nanowrimo.

But here it is, some tank action!

_____________________

INCOMING!

 

Savage Halo.

2nd Tank Regiment (Operation Overhaul).

They’d been arguing.

Challas had been telling the rest of the crew about a particularly harsh night he had endured out on the town during their last leave.  Redtree had been denying it and putting him down.  Lieutenant Karrsson, the tank commander, tuned them out, watching the churned up road ahead.

The three battle tanks grumbled along the road on their four independent tracks, plasma turrets waving side to side.  The woods on either side were dark and murky, the tanks unable to go in there.

Something metal glinted off in the near distance, just in front of the forward tank.

How did they not see it?

He grabbed the comms mic by his command chair.

“One, this is Two, I think there’s something in the–”

He was cut off by a crump of detonation.  The left side of the front tank exploded, the two track units shattering outward.  Mud and metal flew in all directions.

Karrsson’s driver, Morrs, slammed on the brakes.

Thirty tonnes of metal slid, brakes squealing.

The tank slid to one side and came to a halt.

Karrsson was about to comm Tank One, when something small shot across the distance on a shaft of white smoke.  It struck One in the left side.  Karrsson watched with horror as it kept going, disappearing into the tank’s interior through a hole.  There was a bang and a thump and smoke and flames poured from inside.

“GIVE ME A TARGET!” he bellowed to his own crew.

Another rocket snaked out of the forest, followed by another and another, striking One multiple times, turning the battle tank into a blackened mess.

Karrsson didn’t wait for a targeting lock, he just sighted down the turret’s scope from his command chair and slapped the trigger.  A boom resounded through the war machine and the main plasma cannon fired, the tank rocking back.

The plasma round detonated in the forest.

The trees were pulped and he was sure he could hear the screams of injured.

But more rockets came out of the forest, further down the line of trees.  Most missed or simply scraped the side of the armoured behemoth, detonating in the ground beside it.

He fired another into the treeline, joined by Three an instant later.

Morrs had brought the machine around to present the enemy with their strongest armour.  Three did the same, blasting with its co-axial weapons as well.

Small weapons fire rattled off the tanks’ thick armour.

“Two, this is Three,” the disembodied voice of the other tank commander said through Karrsson’s headset.  “We can’t stay here.  We’re severely outnumbered.”

Karrsson couldn’t fault that, although he didn’t want to leave One’s corpse in that forest for the vultures to pick clean.

“Go.  We’ll be right behind you.”

“Don’t fall behind, Karrsson, wouldn’t want to have the base’s bar to myself, now would I?”

Despite himself, Karrsson chuckled.

Three was already moving, its tracks grinding up the ground as its driver gunned its engines.

“Morrs, follow Three.  Back the way we came.”

“We getting out of here, boss?” asked Challas.

“Hell yes,” Karrsson replied.

The turbine engine roared back to full, and the war machine spun on its tracks.  Karrsson kept firing the main cannon, adding the co-axials to the firepower as well.

The treeline was turning into a flattened hell, fires raging where the wood had caught alight.

There was a loud whistling sound.

Karrsson’s eyes widened.

“INCOMING!” he shouted.

Three disappeared in a fireball, chunks of super-hot metal and bits of track flying everywhere.  Karrsson hadn’t even had time to register that something was wrong.

His crew were shouting in dismay, unable to believe that their squadron had been reduced to one machine in a matter of a minute.  Challas was shouting that they needed to get out of there, and call in the Navy, or the rest of the company.

Karrsson knew neither was an option.

“Morrs, get us the hell out of here,” Karrsson growled over the arguments.

Everybody shut up fast.

They rounded the corpse of Three, and discovered its killer.

Karrsson whimpered.

It was an enemy super-heavy.

He had about three seconds to think on the irony of being hunted by the very thing they had been hunting, before a shell from the enemy’s main cannon obliterated Two as well.

The enemy super-heavy drove straight over the blasted remains.

The enemy troops whooped with joy.

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