Boom! "The flag tank Tiger has been knocked out! Ooarai is victorious!" The judge, Ami Chouno declared over the loudspeakers, and the crowd cheered at the top of their lungs at the impossible feat the girls from a previously unknown school, Ooarai. They emerged victorious against the most widely acclaimed team in Japan, facing in the battle tanks from the humble Pz IIIs to the monstrous Jagdtiger using a motley collection of tanks from the experimental Tiger P to alleged tanks such as the Type 89.
It was a close call though. The Jagdtiger was rendered immobile from a Tiger P just as it almost traversed for a shot at Ooarai's flag tank, the Pz IV, and only the Pz IV and the StuG III survived long enough in the desperate dash to slice Kuromorimine's flag tank out of their formation, the others lying around the battlefield in wrecks of various conditions. The Type 89 in particular, was in a bad way, torn in half from the sheer force of heavy German shells slamming into its feeble hull. The engine compartment, with the tracks and all, flew at least 10 meters away from the front half of the vehicle. The Tiger P had been put under intense fire, its 8.8 cm gun and heavy armour attracting the attention of a lot of Kuromorimine's guns, all trying to knock out this only notable beast out of the fight as soon as possible.
A button was pressed, and the plasma screen that re-enacted the epic battle was turned off. A CD was ejected from and DVD player under the screen. The lights have not been turned on, however, and the room remained dark as a silhouette of someone removed the disk, placed it in its box, and sat on a stool. Behind this person, another person sat on an office chair, contemplating on what was witnessed.
"So, what are your opinions, commander?" said the person on the stool, in an extremely low voice that one would expect more from a more dark, lonely figure. Although the voice itself was quiet, the low speech carried far into any listeners' heads.
"….Interesting, to say the least. Even with their stiff strategy and immoral ways, Black Forest should have been able to take that victory in their sleep with those lineups. Seems as if someone in their side got too arrogant for her own good, and left the team's flag tank completely exposed to catch a few flies. Still, that girl, Miho, knows how to come up with some unexpected tactics," the "commander" replied, in a distinctly female voice in a sure and assertive tone, radiating right to rule.
The male nodded, and responded as he stood, "Do you have anything in mind, commander?"
The commander rested her chin on her hands, deep in thought. "…Send a letter to Ooarai; I think we both could benefit from some practise matches."
"Of course," the male nodded as he opened the door, letting red light to seep into the room. The dim light is enough for a 24-hour wall clock to be visible, hands resting at 23:30.
As the male stepped out of the room, with a slight chuckle, the commander added, "Oh, and be sure not to tell them of our location until they set foot on Canadian soil."
"That is all for today. Class dismissed," the teacher declared to his students as the final bell of the school day rang, "remember to read chapter 14 on prepositions for next class." The students barely seemed to care about what the teacher was saying at this point; they were busy stuffing their belongings into their bags, or moving over to their friends' tables to chat.
"Ahh, that was one hard class! Right, Miporin?" Saori exclaimed as she approached Miho, Hana in tow. She had a tired face, with her usually well-kept hair in a less organized state, as if she pulled at them in distress for the last 30 minutes.
"Yes it was, but I think we managed to pull through somehow," came the reply from Miho, the transfer student from her family school of Kuromorimine, whose unorthodox methods of conducting tank combat swept aside all before her, sometimes easily, sometimes by a thread all the way to victory in the finals of the Japan National League.
"Why do we have to learn English anyway? And it's such a pain to learn too! I mean, it has so many annoying rules people nitpick at, and the rules have exceptions all the time! It's as if receiving a confession that ends with 'but I can't stand your personality'!" An exasperated pout crept across Saori's face.
"Now, now, Saori-san, the more difficult it is, the more satisfying it is once a skill is mastered. Also, English is a very advantageous language to have some knowledge of," came the scolding from Hana, the elegant, polite, and deadly-accurate gunner of the team. She had a calm presence, as if the long English class by a stuffy teacher was not challenging at all, and understood the subject taught perfectly. "We might one day visit a place where English is the common language, and learning it now could save us from the trouble of not being able to talk to people for directions, at the very least."
"But it's so hard!"
Miho gave a nervous laugh as she watched the scene in front of her unfold, her two friends and crew mates on the Pz IV discussing the merits and pains of grasping English. At least we now have the luxury to think about such things, she thought. The final battle was very close, with no less than five guns having been trained on her tank, the flag tank, as the StuG III and her own Pz IV paralyzed Kuromorimine's flag Tiger, with the former lining up for a rear shot, while the latter locked its gun barrel with the Tiger's, slowing the enemy tank's turret traverse in an effort to buy the tank destroyer valuable time. When the dust settled, her team was victorious, and Ooarai's existence was secured for the next year.
As she wondered what would happen once that year passed, the ding-ding-ding-ding! of the school microphone sounded. The familiar voice of the Public Relations Representative of the school rang out, "Will the student Nishizumi Miho report to the Student Council office as soon as possible. I repeat, will the student Nishizumi Miho report to the student council office immediately."
Saori was the first to react. "What is it this time? Didn't they already force you to take Senshado? Not that I'm not happy you ended up taking the course, but Ooarai is confirmed to remain open for next year! Haven't they put enough weight on you?" She cried out to Miho, the student in question, partly exasperated, partly angry, and partly worried.
"Would you like for us to come with us?' Hana offered, worried about her friend.
"No, it's alright. I'm sure it's nothing…I hope," Miho replied, almost silently adding the last part with an increasingly quivering voice. Her hand started to twitch slightly, and she gripped at it with her other hand.
"It's nothing pressing, but I wanted your thoughts on this matter, Nishizumi-chan," the Napoleonic Student Council President, Kadotani Anzu, said to Miho as she munched on yet another dried sweet potato. Momo handed her a folded sheet of paper. Nervously, as she was not yet soothed by the president's words, Miho opened up the paper, to reveal a printed letter. It was in two parts, with the original English written above, and the attached Japanese translation in the bottom, ending in an unfamiliar stamp and signature.
"Vimy Ridge Academy?" came the confused voice from Miho after she finished reading the letter. She found the original words to be too much to read at the moment, and the translation provided was decent enough to read without much trouble.
"Apparently it's an academy with a Canadian register. They seem to have a lively Senshado program there, frequently competing with various other schools in North America and Europe. Strangely enough, that was all we could gather; we could not even figure out what ship the academy is mounted on," Yuzu, the Vice President, and the only person who seemed to be eternally swamped in paperwork in the whole council answered in a disappointed tone, as she placed a woefully thin stack of data on this unheard of school, consisting of a single sheet of paper, on the President's desk.
"And they want to have an extended period of exercises together with us?"
"That's what it says, Nishizumi. What is your opinion on this offer?"
Miho closed her eyes and dipped her head in thought. After a short while, she raised her head once again: "I believe any chance for a mock battle with another team would be of great benefit to us. If they are asking for an extended period of practices, I think we should be all the more eager to take this opportunity."
The president grinned, "It's decided then. Yuzu, call up this…Vimy Ridge Academy and tell them we accept."
"Ehhhhh, we're heading to Canada for practices?" questioned Saori, doubtful of Miho. As she voiced her doubt, she reached for soy sauce off to the side of the table. Since the tournament, it had become the norm for the crew of the Pz IV to eat dinner together regularly, whether in someone's home, or in a restaurant somewhere on the academy warship.
"Yes, the Vice-President told me that we are heading to Vancouver according to that academy's instructions as we speak. The other person on the line said it was the only port in Canada's west coast that could take a ship as big as the Ooarai," Miho answered the other orange-haired girl, as she lifted a sushi with her chopsticks.
"Then how are they able to maintain their own academies, Nishizumi-dono? One port to service various schools cannot be a good way to take care of all the ships." Yukari, the resident tank fanatic said with curiosity, forgetting to watch where her hand was going and accidentally placing her own eating utensils in a mound of ginger instead of the seafood on her plate. She came into Saori, Hana, and Miho's classroom after Miho already left for the Student Council Office, and after hearing about what had transpired, proceeded to sprint at full speed to the office once she broke free of Saori and Hana's arms, face reddening with fury. She was about to slam the doors open when her commander opened the door with content, if a slight smile was anything to go by.
"Perhaps their academies operate on smaller ships?" Hana offered her explanation, but she did so with an uncertainty rare in her everyday speech.
"Let's not worry too much about that. After all, we will find out just how and why in a few days when we dock in Vancouver." Miho finished.
"By the way, do either Yukari or Miporin know what Senshado is like there? In America?"
"Since Japan, and Asia in general almost never hold international competitions with other parts of the world, except for sometimes Europe, we don't really know. Also, it's North America, not America, Saori-dono. America is a country in the continent of North America."
"What's the difference! They're both countries on the same continent that speak English anyway," Saori said with a pout and a slight gloom, despairing at the prospect of having to actually put her language classes to the test.
Miho stirred, moving to correcting her friend, but decided against it. That could wait until the next day, and they still had a dinner to finish.