Just When: Alternates
Mk. I: Attack from the Rear
A/N: Hello there! I'm still struggling on the two chapters of Just When that I'm really trying to get to work, but this isn't those. This is just a little something I came up with while pounding out another chapter of The Library.
Though, I must begin with a preface. By this point, some people may be wondering why it's always Lucky Star. It's not that it's my favorite anime; it's not. It's just something about it that keeps on drawing me back to it...okay, that was a short preface. Sorry to keep you waiting, here's the story!
The sound of the treads rumbling over the dirt roads drowned out the sound of my boots banging against the side of the Panzer IV I was sitting on. The drab scenery of the lands I knew as a child slowly slipped by, being replaced steadily with the dim and dark forest we were to be bypassing on our way to the French border, to reinforce the forces who were being pounded by the Allied mongrels. It wouldn't be the first time we had been pulled back to the homeland, only to be sent into the meat grinder once again.
The invasion of France took all of us by surprise. Listening to the open channels, hearing the sheer chaos erupting from the scattered forces at Normandy, was a harrowing experience. The death toll was unknown, but it was somewhere in the tens of thousands. Friends that I had seen go off to war were never coming back.
Only a few were even assigned to combat duty.
Ayano Minegishi had been a field medic, and word had come back that she had been captured and raped by the American forces, before being killed. We only knew because they found her body after it had been dumped in a field. There was trouble identifying her face though; bullet entrance and exit holes through either side of the face made it slightly difficult. Only the nurse uniform, torn up ID shoved in her pockets, and her hair color allowed us to piece together the information. I cried for days after I heard that, but I tried to reason that she would be the only one I'd have to lose.
I was dead wrong.
It started out as an assignment to head into the nearby town and gather resources under the cover of night. It was a location that was known to be inhabited by the enemy, so it served double duty of depriving the enemy of valuable resources. It was just myself and my sisters. We were raiding a small barn for nails and building materials when gunfire started to rip through the side. No small arms either, they were .50 BMG rounds landing at our feet as we ran.
Out of the barn we went, abandoning our supplies and sprinting for the treeline, the enemy lighting up the night with gunfire.
We were only a few meters from the thick foilage when I heard it: the sound of a large caliber bullet hitting someone. That distinctive SPLCH of bones being pulverized was almost too much to bear, but it wasn't me who cried out, it was Kagami. Waves of dread flowed through me, and I dropped to the ground and looked around for her. It wasn't a pretty sight.
Her leg had been all but demolished, her thigh ripped apart, the bone cracked in a thousand places and anything below it dissolved into a pile of red mush. Her chest was convulsing, and her face had, in an instant, turned as white as a ghost. Her lips were indistinguishable from her face, she was so pale.
I screamed at Matsuri and Inori to keep running, but they were already gone. I held her head close to mine, where I heard the last words she had for this planet.
"Maybe the ones still living are the fools...death won't be permanent...I promise..."
She died in my hands, and I was incapable of helping her. I got up, tears spewing forth from my eyes, and amid the gunfire still pouring into the forest, ran into the trees and away from the now dead body of what had, only moments before, been my twin sister and, less importantly, a soldier in the 4th Panzer division. When I caught up to my sisters, who were in a clearing waiting for me, I was overcome by rage. They hadn't cared enough to stop. They had only been thinking for themselves.
No one else knows what happened that night, but I killed the both of them there, in that clearing. I snatched Inori's MP40 from the ground where she had laid it, and had put several rounds into her head before she could react.
Matsuri only managed to sit up before I put another couple of bullets in her meaningless skull.
They didn't deserve to live. Maybe, after I killed them, they reconciled with Kagami...I hope so, because I'm not going to. Not until I die.
Still, thinking back, maybe she was right. War was really only an excuse to kill anyone you don't like, and maybe it was only waged by the fools...the living, breathing fools. Maybe I did the both of them a favor, by taking them out of this life before the worst of it could be experienced. Enough about that, it still hurts to think about.
I looked around at the tank column. Well, not much of a column any more. What had once been almost 100 Panzers strong, was now barely a dozen of the armored beasts, most of which were under crewed, lacking a field engineer or tank commander. I was riding on the last tank in line, and the only one to possess a full crew.
My long time friend Miyuki Takara was the engineer, spotting problems before they occurred and preventing them with ease.
Konata Izumi, a good friend of both myself and...my sister, was the tank commander. She was efficient but sometimes let the heat of battle get to her, like any normal person would.
I'm the gunner of the Uberreichen , which isn't really as important as it sounds. Sure, I fire and maintain the main cannon, but when we're not in combat, I'm nothing more than an errand runner.
Lastly, this quiet fellow named Shiraishi was the driver. He performed his job amiably, but wasn't much for chit-chat unless the commander of Uberrennt wasn't around. I think they might have an abusive relationship or something. The diminutive pink-haired girl seemed to change on the flip of a coin, and it was hard to judge when it was going to happen. Still, the girl was known for keeping an Stg-44 under her seat in her tank; the one time we had been almost overrun by the enemy, the short commander had popped out of the tank and mowed down an entire squad of Americans with pinpoint accuracy.
The column stopped with a loud creaking of the treads, having been constantly in motion, finally coming to a halt. I stood up and looked down the column.
We were at the other edge of the forest, looking down into a valley that was the last stop before the border.
"Panzers, adjust main cannons to 45 degrees! We'll be providing artillery support to the infantry coming out of the valley!" Our radio technician was shouting to the tanks, running up and down the column to ensure that everyone knew what commands our superiors ordered.
I leaned over and opened the hatch of the turret, climbing down into the belly of the beast. Settling into my chair inside, I peered out of the viewport as I contemplated what I was planning to do.
I didn't really enjoy living, all in all. It was okay, up until this war, and the Fuhrer expecting everyone to bend to his will. I knew that he was a fraud, and that his speeches about the Aryans were just as false as he was.
But every day he grew in power, I watched my friends be drawn into his lies as well. Konata, Miyuki, everyone...there were all slaves to his words. When it had come to pass that we were all recruited into the military, I had already began to plot on getting revenge. Revenge on the state, revenge on the army, and revenge on the leaders.
I had dropped hints of my distaste for the entire situation we've been thrust into, but it was to no avail. All of my friends had already been snagged by the tendrils of the Fuhrer's words, and they became dead to me. The only one who was neutral to it all was Konata. She played war like it was a game, and it was plain to see she didn't care what happened, as long as it was exciting. I was going to use that to my advantage.
"On my mark, fire! Crank that angle Hiiragi!" The sig. spec. was on the tank, looking down at me. I could see the rest of the column already in firing position.
It was now or never.
I drew my Luger and aimed it at his forehead. The sharp intake of breath was noticeable, even among the whirring of machinery in the compartment. He managed to keep his cool when I didn't fire.
"This is ground for treason, Hii-" Oops, my finger slipped. I fired at the same time I started to adjust the cannon, the heavy grinding no doubt masking the sound. His dead weight slumped on the turret, but didn't fall off, so no one else noticed.
I adjusted the turret, but not to 45 degrees. I adjusted it to -15 degrees: directly at the rear of the Panzer in front of us.
"Tsukasa, what the hell?" There was Konata, climbing out of her seat, standing up, her blue tuft of hair just barely making it into my line of sight.
She saw the body of the sig spec, and instead of calling me out, she chuckled softly. She climbed up on the turret and leaned over, talking very quietly.
"Well, if you want to go out in a blaze of glory...take this. We'll make a scene, you can have your moment, and we can all get out of this intact. I have no remorse for anyone who dies here today..." She tugged her MP40 off of her back and lowered it into the gunner seat, where I took it and winked at her. She climbed down while talking in a louder voice.
"You might want to check that out, I think it might misfire if there's anything collides with it." I stood up and began to climb out of the turret, kicking the lever to fire with my foot as I did so.
The entire vehicle rocked back and forth as I was flung out of the turret and onto the side, MP40 still in hand. The tank in front of us was utterly destroyed: the rear armor had not been able to withstand the Armor Piercing HE round from the L48 cannon, which, at 100m, would punch through 10cm of steel plating. The crew didn't stand a chance, and there was probably some damage to the Jagdpanther in front of that as well. I closed the turret hatch and waited.
After about 15 seconds the other crews realized what had happened and were getting out to look at the mess. I heard banging sounds on the hatch as Konata shouted out to the gathering crowd. I could see in the viewport that it was indeed a crowd.
"The latch is stuck and the cannon misfired! There wasn't even supposed to be a shell loaded in yet, out gunner/loader is stuck in the turret!" I assisted in the hoax by shouting out weakly.
"The loading arm came back and slammed into my shoulder! It hurts like a bitch!" Someone outside of the vehicle climbed onto it and was looking in through the view-hole. Of course, it was pitch-black, so they couldn't see anything, but I saw their eyes.
"You alright in there Hiiragi? We're gonna get you out!" Oh, great, it was Misao. I was so tempted to just shoot her in the face, but that wasn't going to get me very far. I had to wait.
I heard the latch being tugged on by several hands, and the groan as the mechanical lock began to stretch beyond its' limits. I got ready to get up, re-adjusting my grip on the underside of the Sturmgewehr.
With a resounding clang, the latch opened, and I leaned over in feigned pain, looking up into the dim light. No less than 6 heads were visible through the tiny circle of light. Several pairs of arms pulled me up, and I let myself be carried out of the turret, but I did not let go of the gun, which no one seemed to pay much attention to. I was carried along a line of people until I was on the ground, where I stood on shaky legs, only shaky because I told them to be. I still had the Stg.
The entire crew of most of the tanks were swarmed all over the Uberreichen and the Rachehalter, extracting bodies from one, and poring over all the machinery of the other. I was quickly forgotten, left to my own devices, so I walked up the line to see who was in the rest of the tanks. Only the drivers, it seemed, and each was focusing on something else, not who was peeking into their armored assault vehicles.
I started the long walk to to front, delighted to hear the buzzing, scraping sound of a saw as I neared the first tank, the Jagdpanther IV Geschichteende. I knocked on the side, and when the driver looked over, I took aim and fired, hearing the round impact on the other side of the cockpit with a pinging sound, and seeing the body drop against the instrument panel, I moved on.
The second and third were the same as the first, staffed only by their sheep of drivers, and I dispatched them both before they realized what was going on. I still had 27 bullets left, and about 20 people left to kill. I can do this. I can start the uprising. I can make people see the lies held in front of them.
The fourth and fifth were empty, so I walked past them without a second thought. The next three were empty as well, and the ninth only had people sitting on it, not inside it. Everyone else was clustered here, making it suicide to just start firing. I mulled over my options, feigning the injured look when people noticed my presence, but quickly standing up upon their eyes straying away from myself.
It clicked in my head as I watched the crews disassemble the scraps of Uberrennt, cutting it up to be sent back to the factories. I saw Konata trying to catch my eye, and nodded. She nodded down the line and jerked her head back, then resumed directing the effort to remove the wreckage.
I understood what she meant, and it was perfect. I backed away from the crowd slowly, turning for the #9 tank, a Panzer IV with an L40 cannon, slightly smaller than the cannon on our own tank, but still deadly at close ranges. I climbed it quickly, dropping into the empty turret. I started the 180 degree rotation and started angling the cannon down to the proper trajectory before anyone realized what was happening.
"Oy, that turret is moving! The cannon, too! It must be a malfunction in the Panzers!" I had the latch closed of course, so I was safe if they attempted to shoot at the tank, but it appeared that that was not the case. I loaded the shell from within, selecting an anti-armor round. It was for tank-destroying, and was exactly what I was doing with it. Only, it was "friendly" tanks. Idiots.
I opened the viewport right before I was finished adjusting the cannon, but to my surprise, a small number of the idiots were still on top of the tank in front of me, #10 in line. I saw that it was all grunts I didn't know personally, so I didn't think twice on blasting them to smithereens...though I don't think I would think twice anyways.
This caused a reaction, the remaining crews going into an uproar, taking out whatever small-arms they had and opening fire on the Panzer. I closed the viewport, but not before hearing Konata shout out an order to end all orders.
"The gunner of that tank is going renegade! Everyone, form into split firing lines on both sides of the Panzer! Do not step into it's lines of fire! Myself and Miyuki will direct assault from both sides! The armor near the top of the turret is weakest!"
I ducked down as far as I could, hearing the pinging of bullets change as the sheep repositioned themselves, but what I heard next was certainly unexpected.
The screams as a pair of automatic guns sounded. The bullets were no longer hitting the tank, so I lifted the hatch to see a rather unexpected sight.
Miyuki was holding two soldiers at gunpoint with twin pistols, while Konata was pressing an MP40 into the forehead of Misao, who had her hands up. Konata called out to me with a grin on her face.
"You really got yourself into quite a predicament! If we hadn't taken the situation upon ourselves, you could've been seriously injured." Miyuki blanched at this, but still held her Lugers steady on the drivers who looked like they were about to soil themselves. I was just amazed Miyuki was in on this.
I climbed down from the tank and walked over to them, keeping the rifle trained on one of Miyuki's targets. I nodded at Konata before giving my reply.
"Yeah...thanks. You know this means I'm dragging you down with me, right?" The blunette only laughed.
"Not at all, Hiiragi. We're just guilty through association. The story we're going to tell is that you were crafty and killed everyone but us, only letting us live because you knew us before the war; you're going to take these guns with you when you go."
Without warning, Miyuki fired both of the Lugers, dropping the two who had been starting to relax. She squeaked in fright and flinched. She looked at the bodies in front of her, on the verge of tears.
Konata gave her a hug and pulled the pistols out of her hands, while I sneered at Misao, aiming my rifle at her. She was blinking slowly, but constantly.
She stared back at me while Konata comforted the pink-haired mechanic.
She faked out at me, but quickly relaxed, before speaking, but not in a normal tone. It was scratchy, and sounded so different that I wasn't sure if her throat could even produce such a sound.
"You monster...you are now forever destined to be nothing but a monster, no matter when or where-" I cut her off with a bullet to the face. I never really liked her, that girl.
Konata and Miyuki looked up to me, and Miyuki started crying outright, while Konata just hugged her tight and whispered in her ear. She looked up to me, raising an eyebrow.
Well, I had done it. We were now alone in the woods, with two destroyed tanks and two dozen dead soldiers. The two live soldiers were stranded, hours from assistance, but at least it wasn't days.
That just left me.
Where do I go from here? Do I try to make it to civilization, play myself off as a runaway? No, they would know who I was, from either my uniform, or my name, or my appearance. Not very many Japanese people in Germany.
It looked like I was at the end of the road. I had gotten revenge, I guess. I was satisfied with murder, it would seem. Maybe next time, I can go out with a bigger bang? Yeah, I'd like that.
I walked up to the pair, hugging them both at the same time.
"I'm leaving, thanks for everything."
They looked up at me just as I pulled the trigger, the taste of steel in my mouth.
A/N: Yeah, kind of a bridge into The Library, and an AU AU to Just When, and an allusion to the...6th? chapter of Just When, of which I still haven't completed the 5th chapter. Shame on me. Next chapter of The Library in the next few...5...days!
I really like World War I/II-era history, so I'll be revisiting this probably sooner rather than later.
Hope you enjoyed, and if you want, leave a review! It would make my cousin's chinchilla very happy. (It wants to kill me.)