"Suzanne, is NOT going to win today," Diane said firmly as she studied the scrub brush covered ridge they were passing. Her shoulder length purple hair waved in the breeze as the M-1 tank she was atop of rolled along with it's gas turbine engine roaring like a jet. The seven year old looked even smaller compared to the massive war machine she rode on. Diane wore no special clothes, only her blue trimmed white top with frills on all the hems, her blue jeans, and light blue sneakers. The bands to the headset she wore bracketed her horns that poked out of her purple mane. The voice of the tank commander spoke in her earphones.
"Got them yet?" the tank commander asked from his open hatch. His head stuck up from the opening.
"Not yet," Diane mussed as she tried to sense her sister. She could feel a vague 'something' off to her right. She was sure it was Suzanne, but if she charged off in that direction, then Suzanne would pull her tricks again.
Moving from her spot on the back of the turret, Diane released her hold on the grip bars and knelt by the commander's hatch as she latched onto it with an invisible arm. "They are off to the right a ways. A mile away, I think. I can barely sense her."
The commander showed her the digital map on his laptop. "OK, we're here, going down this valley. The valley they started in is over here, a mile and a half to our right. The soonest we can turn is up here, at the end of this ridge. You sure they left their valley?"
"That's how she got us last time," Diane grumbled.
"How about this, we cross over the top right up here, and run between this ridge and the next. Not a lot of maneuvering room, but we can sit back from the junction, and get them when they are coming to get us," he said.
Diane grinned. "Yeah, they'll be thinking we're still in the valley. Let's do it!" she said eagerly.
Diane gripped the grab bars and the hatch combing with her mental arms. Although invisible to normal humans, her mental arms were very strong. They could grab things, lift them, or even shoot out to hit things with the power of a grenade launcher. Today, all she needed them for was to hold on and if needed, swat away incoming rounds.
The tank approached the ridge head on and slowed. The gears shifted, then the engine roared as the tank slowly climbed up the twenty foot dirt mound. As they neared the top, Diane stood up and scanned for the other tank. In the distance across the ripping ridges, she saw the familiar outline of an M-1 in the distance just off the right of them. It was atop another ridge pointed directly at them.
"There they are!" Diane screamed as she pointed. The other tank fired. Diane reached out and as the round came at them, she hit it to the side with her mental arms. The round whistled safely past.
"We got a vector," the tank commander announced. "Range eighteen hundred yards, bearing two seven. Continue straight, we'll shoot at the top of the next rise."
Diane's senses were peaked now. She could feel her sister's location as they bottomed out in the ditch and climbed up the other side. Feeling her sister's direction she said, "They are moving to our right."
"Aim at point three oh," the tank commander said. "Diane, let me know the second you see them."
Diane nodded. She jumped up to the front of the turret and grabbed the barrel guard with her mental arms for support. Standing on tip-toe, she tried to see the other tank before they got seen. The tops of the ridges came in sight. She looked, but didn't see the other tank. Pointing, she called, "They are right there, but they haven't made the top yet."
"Halt." the Commander said, which made the tank stop and lead forward from the inertia, then rock back on it's tracks. "Diane, point directly at them," he told her.
Diane did, and the cannon barrel moved to match her pointing finger. Her finger kept moving to the right, and the turret moved with her.
"What are they doing?" Diane asked aloud. The flag they had to capture was the other way.
"Oh, shit!" the commander blurted. "There's a junction back there. I bet they are going to run around behind us. Hit the valley and run like hell. They'll be past us before we can get back!"
"They are going faster," Diane noted.
"Diane, hold on! Driver, run this ridge to the end, GO!"
Diane swayed and had to catch her balance as the tank pivoted and ran across the top of the ridge, picking up speed and bouncing from the uneven ground. Diane held on and watched the place where she sensed her sister. She was directly behind them now. In fact, Diane could see the dust cloud from the other tank. She also noted the dust cloud was coming right at them. They were speeding along the trough between the ridges.
"Hey! They're following us ... they're catching up!" Diane called.
"Damn it!" the tank commander spat. "Swivel the turret to one eighty! Gunner, shoot on Diane's signals."
The end of this ridge was coming up. The driver slowed to keep from launching them off the end. The tank would take the impact, but they might not.
"Right there, SHOOT!" Diane yelled as she saw the other tank. It was speeding down the trough, her sister was standing on the front of the turret. They were close enough that Diane could see Suzanne's silver hair and the pink cloth belt tied on her blue jeans. "They're gonna at shoot us!" she warned loudly.
"Driver, bear to the right side going down!"
The cannon below Diane fired. A half second later, the other tank shot. Their round hit the dirt partway up the ridge and behind her sister's tank. The red paint in the round blasted out to cover the mound, completely missing it's target. Diane swatted away the round coming at them, sending it sailing off into the the next ridge where it exploded in a spray of bright orange.
As they climbed down the ridge, another round hit the ridge top, spraying dirt and orange paint. Diane threw up her invisible arms to form a shield, blocking the debris. Rock and paint hit her shield and fell behind them.
"Driver, go across their path and back to the valley. Gunner, shoot down the trough as we pass. Rounds shot count also!"
Their tank turned sharply, flinging dirt. The end of the dirt ridges were even, they had a straight shot back to the valley. Diane was ready to block another round as they raced past the trough. Their gun shot, but the other tank wasn't there. Diane noted the track climbed the ridge back to the valley.
"They're in the valley!"
"Turret, one eighty! Driver, when you get clear, run straight for the flag. It's going to be a slugfest all the way."
Sure enough, as they made the valley the other tank was only a hundred yards behind and going full speed. Diane's tank picked up speed. They traded shots as the two tanks closed. Diane was kept busy, her long invisible arms knocking the nearly point blank shots aside as their gunner blasted away at the tank that was all but side by side with them, fifty yards to their left. Atop the other tank, her sister, silver hair and pink belt ends dancing in the wind, was intently blocking their tank's rounds as the two tanks sped along at 65 miles an hour.
If it wasn't for her ear pieces, Diane swore she'd be deaf by now. Diane could feel the thunder of the guns in her chest. It helped her keep her sense sharp for that next round she had to knock away.
A good sized rock flew up and came at them. With a squeak of surprise, Diane smacked the rock away with a mental arm. At the same time, the other tank shot. Diane got three mental arms out to block the round. She was too slow with the fourth, and the round was too heavy to move with three. The round hit the rear deck of their tank, spraying orange paint in a cloud behind them, and all over the back of the tank.
"HAY!" Diane screamed. "That's cheating!"
"All's fair in love and war!" Suzanne screamed back.
"We get hit?" the commander asked as he looked back.
Over their ear pieces, a voice said, "Bravo tank hit rear engine area. Bravo Tank declared OOC, game over. Alpha tank wins."
Balling her fists in frustration, Diane cried, "NOOO!"
"Ahhh HAH!" Suzanne yelled with delight as she pointed at them.
"But ... you cheated!"
"Too bad!" Suzanne stuck her thumbs in her ears, waving as she poked her tongue out.
"Alpha and Bravo tanks, return to assembly area," the ear piece said.
The tanks slowed down, and turned. Diane's tank followed the 'victor' back to the assembly area. Diane sat on the turret hugging her knees and glaring at her sister the whole way.
Sargent Major Bill Parkson watched the tanks roll into the gate from the game command post. Leaning on the window sill, a frown appeared on his middle aged face. "Looks like I'm going to have to cheer Diane up again," he said.
"That's what Daddy's do," The blond haired Captain beside him said with a smirk. "Look at the bright side, when those girls are grown, there will be nothing any army has that could beat either one of them short of a nuclear weapon. Those kids are the best armor any vehicle could have."
Bill let out a snort and said, "With all our technology, our best defense turns out to be seven year old oriental girls."
Patting him on the back, she said, "At least they are our girls. I'll get home and start dinner. Delay getting home long enough for me to change and give my report. Ice cream should cheer Diane up."
Cracking a grin, he said, "Yes, Ma'am. See you at home."
"Daddy, she threw a rock at me!" Diane complained as she pointed an accusing finger at her sister.
"I knew it wouldn't hit you. I just wanted to distract you," Suzanne replied, then stuck her tongue out.
Putting his arm around both girls as they walked to the car, Bill said, "All right now, Suzanne won, and there are no rules about distractions. You both did very well, and it is only a game. Right now, I think ice cream sounds like a good idea."
"I want a peach sundae," Suzanne chirped.
"Can I have some maple walnut?" Diane asked.
Hiding his wince, Bill nodded. "If they got it, sweetie," he told her. While most kids went for chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, these girls seemed to enjoy investigating other flavors. Then again, there was nothing normal about these two girls. As he looked at their heads that sported inch long triangular shaped 'horns' coming out of their skulls just above their ears, he said, "Don't forget your hats, we're going to be in public." He didn't want anyone but authorized personnel seeing the stubby horns on their heads.
Captain Sarah Parkson put on a flowered house dress then opened a panel in the headboard of their bed. She picked up the old land-line telephone within and punched a single number. Sitting on the bed she waited for the General to pick up.
"Yes sir, Captain Parkson here. The girls just finished their game today. ... Yes, Suzanne won again. Their behaviors are staying on track. Suzanne seems to be developing an aggressive approach towards her opponents. She attempts to gain her goals by trying to eliminate the competition. Diane is more defensive and goal oriented. ... Right. There is another thing I noticed from tracking the rounds. While Suzanne has more Arms, it appears Diane's are stronger. The shells were only one quarter charge, but Diane moves the ones coming at her farther. Near the end of the game, those tanks were only forty six yards apart. The shells from Diane's tank were missing by mere inches, the ones from Suzanne's tank were missing by three to four feet. If they have been a few yards closer, Suzanne's tank would have been splattered with paint. Suzanne is a quick thinker, but Diane has more raw strength. ... Yes sir, it is clear brain power won this game. ... Right Sir, we'll work on that. ... Yes, Sir."
Sarah put the phone away and went out to the kitchen. Sitting at the table was their son, Corporal James Parkson. He was intently reading a newspaper. Three others were stacked in front of him.
"Hi Jimmy, find any interesting news?" she asked as she started to get dinner ready.
Jimmy glanced up. "Hi ... mom." he said haltingly, almost using her title which earned him a stern look. "Not so far, unless you want to count this baseball player. He's from Japan, and is the only guy to ever bat one thousand, He's done it two seasons in a row. He's never struck out and never been walked."
"Is that odd?"
Jimmy swung his head to eye her. "Very," he said with a snort. "He's only been playing for two years on Red Sox farm teams. He averages three to four homer's each and every game. Almost every time he's at bat he knocks one out of the park. New York tried to pick him up, but the Red Sox won't let him go. It doesn't say what they pay him, but it does say he is THE highest paid, and youngest rookie that has ever come down the pike."
"What college did he go to?" she asked off hand.
"No college mom, this guy was picked up out of high school. They're calling him a wonder boy." with a shake of his head, he added, "To hit like that, he's got to be a friggin magician."
"What's his name?"
Picking up the paper, Jimmy frowned. "I hate these names," he grumbled. "Kou-ta Kir...Kik..um...mara? Mura? UGHH!"
Sarah snapped her head to him as her jaw dropped. "Kikumura?" she asked.
"Yeah, that's it. He comes from the east coast of Japan."
Sarah's face turned dark. "Jimmy, keep a close eye on Kouta Kikumura. I do mean close. Where he plays, what he does on his off time, everything you can find out." she said sternly.
"Any reason why?" Jimmy asked.
"Just do it. If it looks like he's going to be within a hundred miles of here, I want to know immediately."
"Sure mom, but why?"
"Just do it."