Girls und Panzer: Steel Carnage
AN: What's up FF net? After watching GuP, I couldn't help but be inspired to do a little continuation of the story itself.
However, the immediately obvious ideas of having men do Tankery and writing Boys und Flugzeug were already taken. I didn't want to simply expand the list of tanks available either (in fact, that one is taken as well), so instead I decided to go into something a little more out of left field...
Expect plenty of small shout outs to other series (I'm writing it, so if it doesn't happen intentionally, it'll happen unintentionally), as well as action sequences (it's Girls und Panzer, what did you expect?)
Chapter 1: An Invitation
[On a privately owned island in the Pacific. 3 months after the Nationals]
Nishizumi Miho could not believe she was back in a competitive match again after just three months, with the midday sun blazing overhead. It was summer vacation, and she should have been spending her time at a beach, or taking on a part time job, or doing her summer homework. Instead she had all of those prospects removed (though she was inwardly thankful for being excused from her school assignments) and was peering out of the cupola of the brown Panzer IV Oarai Special.
The eight kilometer by eight kilometer battlefield they were fighting on was unique, in that the topography of the area was more or less symmetrical. Both teams started in locations in the southwest and northeast corners of the battle area, atop a plateau that contained a mockup of a military base.
There was a single circular plateau atop an artificial hill about a kilometer across in the centre of the battle area, and which was clearly elevated above the rest of the surrounding land, and gave a clear view of the majority of the play area. Though it was possible for a tank to climb the hill from any direction, there was a half kilometer wide area of various seemingly natural obstacles that could act as concealment and cover, ranging from rock formations to pockets of trees. The density of trees towards the foot of the slope was too high. The two most practical entrances to the plateau were from the northwest and southeast. Both of those areas had with minimal cover consisting only of the ruins of an abandoned European style village on the face of the hill, which seemed to have been built solely for the purpose of being part of the artificial environment. Further out from the plateau, the ground was mostly flat grassland, with some dry dusty patches owing to the summer weather.
Oarai's Panzer IV was making its way towards the forest to the northeast of the plateau, heading southwest from their starting point in the northeast, alongside the Porsche Tiger, manned by the Automotive Club and the M3 Lee crewed by a team of first years. The three (relative) heavy hitters were trailing behind two groups of tanks which were moving out to scout the two routes to the plateau. The Volleyball Team's Type 89 had already taken up position in the forest and was preparing to move along with the latest addition to their team. In the distance, to her south, she could see a wide and tall column of pale brown dust, headed straight for the foot of the hill. They definitely weren't using the log trick she used against Saunders last time, because the column of dust was far too wide.
Miho put her thumb and index finger to her throat mic, and sent a message out.
"South group, can you see any tanks headed your way" said Miho.
"I see the dust cloud but nobody is showing themselves!" replied Sodoko, the commander of Mallard Team's Char B1.
"We got nothing," added Anzu from the Hetzer.
"How about north?" asked Miho
"Nothing's headed over our way either," said Nekota of the Gamers team.
"Totally clear," answered Erwin of the history club. "Anything wrong captain?"
'So maybe they want to send most of their forces to the south and try for a mass push there.' thought Miho.
The last thing she wanted was to let a gunner as talented as Naomi shoot at them from the central plateau, where she could in theory cover the entire battle area by herself. Trying to storm their base would be out of the question if Naomi could take potshots at them from above with a 17 pounder, and any fight they picked would have to be fought on the move to prevent the firefly from getting a bead on them. The only thing that prevented a single tank dominating the entire battlefield from the plateau was that its kilometer diameter and two hundred metre elevation would mean the plateau itself would block shots within a certain range of the plateau depending on where the shooter was positioned on the plateau.
"Mallard team, Turtle team" said Miho. "I need you to cover the village from there. We'll join you as soon as possible"
"Yes Ma'am!" replied Sodoko.
"Yep," said Anzu's distinctive voice, perpetually relaxed. "We'll watch Mallard's back from the trees."
"Please do, and don't chase them into the village itself until we get there. Anteater Team, Hippo Team, try to get control of the plateau from the northwest. Hippo team should use as much tree cover as they can and support Anteater team from a distance as they advance. Rabbit and Leopon teams will comprise the main force with Anglerfish team to the southeast village. We're going to back up Mallard and Turtle team."
"What about us?" asked a new girl over the radio.
"Duck team should head to the northwest ramp," said Miho. "Stick to the trees and only show yourselves when you have to. Mongoose should come east with the main force. We're going to need you if they drag the fight into the village. Asuka-chan, its your first match, don't be nervous."
"Who do you think I am?" Asuka replied with a cocky tone. Before anyone could make a snarky comeback, Sodoko's voice was heard through the team again.
"Sodoko here! We're under attack by two Shermans!" As if the world itself wanted to add to the message, a flock of birds took off from the forest to the south, and about halfway through the transmission, the sound of a muffled tank cannon shot had finally travelled through the air and reached Miho's ears, signalling the start of cannon fire between tanks "There's three more coming! We'll hold for maybe two minutes! Three if we're lucky!"
"Acknowledged!" said Miho as another series of identical shots were heard from their direction. "All units commence Operation Merry Go Round!"
The Panzer IV, the Lee and the Tiger (P) all accelerated and ran as fast as they could towards the battle being fought in the distance. From what she could hear, the Hetzer and the Char were firing back, but they were going to be overwhelmed. The sounds of battle were drawing closer, and Miho decided this was the best time to slip back inside the cupola. It was at this point she got a second transmission from the team in the south.
"Yes!" said Anzu. "We got one!"
"That's nice! But the other three are in firing range!" said Sodoko. "Nozomi! Fire on three!"
Soon she had come into view of the battle just as a shot from the Char B1 smashed directly into a Sherman making a beeline for the village, knocking its rear end aside and causing it to powerslide in such a way that threatened to flip the tank, before it was forced to stop and control its momentum. A second shot from the trees from the Hetzer landed on the American Bestseller, but it only served to rattle the crew as it glanced off the armour. The Sherman wisely backed away before they could step any deeper into the Hetzer Murder Zone.
Between two patches of forest was a half kilometer wide flat area, with a dirt road that led to the 'village' on her right. There was a white flagged Shermans in the completely open no man's land; its immobile body was being used by Mallard team's B1 as physical cover, but there were still four additional Shermans on the attack. Gomoyo, Mallard's Driver, was doing an admirable job of keeping herself in a strong position, using concealment and cover from whatever rocks and trees were available, but there were only so many places a tank like that could hide. Turtle team were also performing almost superhumanly; they had locked out an entire band of no man's land by themselves, and the area they had covered from the trees stopped both advances towards the village by the Shermans, and also could quite easily protect Mallard team's back. But that could only go so far, as the Saunders tanks all fired in quick succession at the more visible B1, and though all three shots failed to knock the tank out as they hit the turret for the 47mm gun, it was clear they'd make some headway sooner or later. The Char B1's return shot from the 47mm was way off target. The gun had taken too much damage, and the sights were unreliable. To compound their worry, Miho had spotted three additional Shermans coming from around the trees in the southwest area. It seemed like they decided to scout out one of the ramps with a larger number of tanks, so that if they actually ran into something, they could fight it out and send more reinforcements. The problem was Oarai had improved since their first round match.
"Rabbit team sweep from the east and back up Mallard and Turtle! Leopon and Anglerfish team will hold the three Shermans here. Mongoose, stand by."
"Understood! Karina-chan, double time it!"
Miho could only imagine Karina, the driver of the M3, shouting her trademark 'Aye!' as she rushed into the fray. The 37 mm cannon fired at the back of a Sherman moving on Mallard team, drawing its attention.
"Captain!" shouted Nakajima down the radio. "Saunders just showed their newest toy! Its fast and its headed for us!"
The sound of heavy metallic thuds and crunches reached Miho's ears, she looked at the latest addition to Saunders' lineup rushing at them from the trees to their south. It was at this point that the developments that had occurred since the nationals ended really struck her.
'Sensha-do has changed,' she thought.
-STEEL CARNAGE: AN INVITATION-
[2 weeks after Nationals]
It had been two weeks since the victory of the Oarai Senshado team in the nationals. Now that everyone safely knew that their school would in fact continue to run for at least one more year, life began to settle back down to (relatively) normal levels, after everyone's fortnight long Panzerhighs had worn off. There were only so many excuses they could use to party, and after the 4th 'Oarai Girl's School is really staying open for sure' celebration in the wake of the official decision to continue keeping the ship functioning, life had to go on.
Anglerfish team were in Yukari's room on the Oarai ship, eating home cooked food for the first time since their victory. The room hadn't changed too much since their last visit: it was still filled with panzer memorabilia and other personal affects. There was one change however, as in the most prominent place in the room, was the photo that was taken when they won the national Senshado championship.
"Hmm, do you guys mind if I put the TV on?" asked Yukari. "I heard there's going to be an important announcement on the news tonight."
"Oh, sure," said Hana.
"What is it about?" asked Miho
"Hmm... all I know is that it's about Senshado. But I heard its pretty big, maybe something to do with the world championships?"
"That's so like you," said Mako. Yukari silently responded by dipping her head and sighing.
"Sorry..." she muttered, prompting laughter from the table as they dug into their evening meal.
"There's actually a romantic movie that's on after the news," said Saori, as she rolled her ramen noodles around her chopsticks. "Rabbit team recommended it to me. Do you want to watch it together?"
"Sure thing Takebe-san," said Yukari. "It sounds fun. Oh Isuzu-dono, didn't you mention something about another flower arrangement you were going to?"
"Yes, I have one scheduled next month. So this will be the last time we do anything together after school for a while."
"Uh... well Hana-chan," said Saori. "Is there anything else you want to do then?"
"Hmm... not really, I guess we can mostly do anything together," said Hana.
"Oh!" said Yukari with a squee in her voice. "Here's the announcement!"
Everyone turned to the TV, and awaited the announcement with bated breath. Miho gasped in surprise when she saw who was actually speaking.
On TV, there appeared to be a press conference type setup, with microphones belonging to various news Japanese corporations and media outlets protruding out of a stand. Photographers were constantly snapping pictures of the podium, and the woman who occupied it.
Nishizumi Shiho was as composed as ever, and began to deliver her speech.
"As we come off the end of another successful national Senshado tournament, the various leaders in the World Tanksports Federation has decided that it would be best interest for the sport of Senshado to have a special event. I'm here to announce that each of the major governed areas, including the Asia region, will be holding the Steel Carnage Senshado Competition this summer. It is a special tournament with slightly revised rules. Naturally the top teams from the recent nationals will be invited to join the tournament as seeds, but participation is open to any organization that submits an entry, as well as four unseeded sensha-do organizations created for the purpose of allowing those who are unaffiliated with a school or organization to participate in Steel Carnage, if they are interested, which will be announced in due course."
"Nishizumi-dono," called out one of the reporters. "Can you elaborate on the new rule changes?"
"I cannot at this point in time. However I can tell you that the rules will change the available strategies, and allow newer teams to stand a chance in battles. Yes, you?"
"Nishizumi-san, how much prize money is being awarded to the champion?"
"The World Tanksports Federation has yet to finalize a budget for the competition itself, however we expect it to be in the region of three hundred million yen."
"THREE HUNDRED MILLION!?" shouted Yukari. "Oops, sorry."
"Is everything OK up there?" called Yukari's mother
"It's fine! We just heard something on TV that's all," replied Yukari.
"Nishizumi-dono, your school, Kuromorimine has failed to win the championship two years in a row now, first to Pravda due to unfortunate circumstances, and then to a newcomer school Oarai Girl's School being lead by your second daughter no less. What are your thoughts on the matter?"
Miho had to cringe. She knew what her mother was like when Senshado was brought up.
"Nishizumi Ryu Senshado means always finding a way to move forward," said Shiho, with an air of finality."We reflect on our losses. We don't dwell on them."
As the press conference continued, and began to move onto less related topics such as what Shiho's relationship with Miho was like, compared to Maho, and whether she was proud of her achievements, all the mobile phones in the room sounded simultaneously with their respective message received tones.
The message sent out was identical and was from Anzu. The contents of the message were simple.
We're having a meeting tomorrow. Oarai has been invited to the World Tanksports Federation Steel Carnage Sensha-do Tournament. - Anzu
-STEEL CARNAGE: AN INVITATION-
[Next Morning - Black Forest Tank Hangar]
Nishizumi Maho was going to be in charge of holding morning practice for the Black Forest Senshado team today, hence why she had taken extra care to iron her uniform. She had just about two weeks to reflect on what happened, and thought that a second place finish wouldn't have bothered the majority of people. Though admittedly, the draw placed Saunders, Anzio and Pravda in the other half of the bracket, and so Black Forest had a bit of an easy ride to the finals. They still had to go through St Gloriana to get there, who they still managed to beat quite handily. Pravda were the reigning champions, and Black Forest was the number one contender, and the favourite to snatch the title back. Everyone following the competition was looking forward to a rematch between the two titans of Senshado, especially after the draw came out.
There was just one problem with that prediction.
Nobody could have seen it coming. Oarai Girls School managed to beat Saunders, Anzio and Pravda. Anzio was a landslide victory as well in the quarter finals, which was something that should not have happened ever at that stage of the competition. As much as Maho thought Miho was talented, a point she was clear to make to her mother, she concluded that Oarai's girls were incredibly talented too; a commander was only as good as her troops after all. This was the spirit of Senshado: everyone had to work together for victory because no single person could operate a tank alone, and no single tank could win the match alone. The commander had to assess the situation and give orders to the driver, point out targets for the gunner, call out which shells to use for the loader, and communicate with other teams through the radio operator. The driver had to make the needed manoeuvres, and to use her own initiative to react to any sudden changes. However simply moving around would not win a match or score any kills for the team. That ball was in the gunner's court, and her job was to make every shot count. There would also be occasions when she would be in charge of hitting a do-or-die shot to decide the match. But all the skill in the world with any gun would be useless unless the loader was consistent and fast enough with loading, and had the calmness of mind to interpret the commander's orders as they came through whilst also informing the gunner of when they were ready to shoot. But even with all of that, no single tank could do it alone and it was the radio operator's role to assess the situation of other tanks on their team, and anything that they spotted. On top of that the team's overall commander had to manage her own tank, plus co-ordinate the movements of the flagtank to keep it out of trouble, assess the situation and decide the best action for any defensive units to protect the flagtank, monitor both activity and information from reconnaissance units to help search for the enemy, and direct strategic movement of the main battle units to the maximum battle efficiency. It was through the nature of operating both as a crew of a vehicle, and as part of a larger team as a whole that directed women to improve themselves as people, learning about true co-operation, the value of dedication and bonding with others.
Oarai Girls School were good if they reached the finals. Even if Saunders gave them a sporting chance by inexplicably matching their numbers to Oarai's, none of the other teams they faced were so inclined to do so. So while it came to Maho as a shock, it certainly didn't come as a surprise that Black Forest would be number two the second year in a row, especially as Maho experienced what it was like to fight Miho as both a force commander and a tank commander first hand.
The tank crews were filing in, and Maho could see immediately by the looks on their faces that they didn't quite share her sentiments about their loss. Some of them were still in shock from seeing her Tiger's white flag; something that they weren't sure they'd ever seen ever in their time on the senshado team, even in practice matches. Regardless, they stood to attention in front of Maho as they waited for the announcement.
When the other one hundred and forty nine other members of the Black Forest Senshado team arrived in the garage and assembled in front of the screen, Erika quietly joined the battalion at the head of the formation. Though she seemed to be in relatively good spirits after the match, she had since stopped being so outgoing with her behaviour. As far as she could recall her entire team was in fact avoiding her gaze. Ignoring this, Maho decided to start her speech.
"Girls, welcome back," said Maho to the team. "You might be wondering why I asked to start Senshado training again so soon after the last nationals. It's because this morning I received a message directly from the World Tanksports Federation." The atmosphere changed. What was initially tension was replaced by confusion, then by surprise. The WTF didn't usually contact teams directly; though they had met officials more than once thanks to the Nishizumi family's connections getting them benefits such as coaching from those who were in professional tanksports. "You may have heard the announcement last night, and well... minutes after the announcement was made, I got a message. Black Forest has been invited to Steel Carnage as the Number One seed."
Confusion erupted. The girls were all trying to make their own statements heard at once, some were questioning Maho about the tournament, others were expressing surprise, and a select few were praising the heavens for a chance for redemption. "Quiet!" said Maho sternly, bringing the meeting back under control. "I was going to ask to decide as a team if we wanted to enter."
"Please commander Nishizumi," said one of the girls at the front. Maho recognized her as the commander of the Jagdtiger which was tracked twice by Oarai's Hetzer, before careening off a canal and snapping their gun in off. "We'd like to make up our performance in nationals!"
"We're hungry for a win this year!" said another, the gunner of the Maus. Usually Erika would have lead the rousing cheer, but it seemed like she wouldn't have to this time.
"I'll take that as a yes from everybody," said Maho. One hundred and forty eight pairs of eyes seemed to brighten up. "Then allow me to go over the rules. Just to warn you, there are a few shockers in there."
-STEEL CARNAGE: AN INVITATION-
[Student Council Room - Oarai Girls School]
They were not quite sure how, but all thirty for girls in the Oarai Senshado Team had managed to fit inside the student council room to listen to the news that was announced. Anglerfish Team and the Student Council Team had already looked through the information together beforehand, and they had realized what it meant for them.
"Is everybody present? Here's the information we've got about Steel Carnage," said Miho. "The tournament is going to take place over the month of August, so that's in about three months from now. We'll have to stay there until we're knocked out, and we'll have to bring the tanks with us. Unfortunately it'll cut into summer break, so if you don't want to participate, I can understand."
"If you're going to another tournament, you're going to need everyone you can," said Isobe, speaking for the volleyball team. "We're in."
"The History Club is up for it," said Suzuki.
"We'd love to," said the first year team in unison.
"We'd just be playing online anyway," said Piyotan. "We'll sign up."
"We get to play with the Panzers again? Awesome!" said Tsuchiya of the automotive club
"... somebody has to keep an eye on all of you," said Sodoko, the Char B1 Bis's commander. "Especially if we're going to be doing class work on the carrier over summer."
"Well, we all want to do this, so I'd say we can get on with the rest of the announcement," said Anzu, a sweet dried potato gripped between her teeth (somehow) wagging up and down as she spoke.
Miho gave a sigh of relief, before continuing.
"The rules of the tournament state that the contestants will have to take all the tanks they want to use with them to the location they eventually decide to use for the tournament," said Miho. "The tanks, weapons and equipment which are allowed into the competition haven't changed, but there are new limitations on what can be fielded every match," she continued. "The total weight limit of a team's vehicles when they're fully loaded without crew is 350 tonnes, though there are no limitations on the weights of individual vehicles." The rules she'd described so far didn't deviate a whole lot from what could be considered standard regulations for senshado. They were just unique ways of limiting what could be fielded by each team. More importantly, this ruleset limited the power that could be fielded by each team, and encouraged less well off teams to take a shot at the competition. Teams would have to consider carefully whether using between a quarter and a third of their weight allowance on something like an O-I or Maus was worth it. Steel walling enemies with a mass of heavily armoured tanks such as the Tiger II would also not be viable. There were no actual headcount limits, so if a team had access to such vehicles and manpower, the rules allowed the use of a mass of forty or so ultra light tanks like the Vickers 6-ton tank (though Miho personally thought the only reason anyone would do that is if they wanted to lose). However what she said next was just a sign of things to come.
"The total number of vehicle crew members starting in each match has to be at least 2.5 times the number of vehicles fielded for that match." Miho had to stop for a second, and gather her thoughts. Mako caught on first, her face turning to puzzlement. Soon, others joined her in puzzlement as it dawned upon them that the rule was just strange. Specifically, that rule seemed redundant, as tanks generally required a minimum of three people to crew: one commander doubling as a radio operator, one driver and one gunner doubling as the loader. This was when the rules for Steel Carnage left the realm of being simply a nonstandard variation, and dove straight into an unexplored twilight zone. If her mother was furious at these changes, she would never show it on TV.
"There are additional legal vehicles for this tournament only, which are classified into the category of Walking Tank," said Miho, which managed elicit a few gasps from the girls present. "A Walking Tank is a vehicle which uses at least two legs for primary locomotion. For Walking Tanks, the caliber of each gun is restricted 100 mm, and the fully loaded weight without crew is restricted to 30 tonnes plus 5 tonnes for each crew member beyond the first required for the vehicle to operate at minimum fighting capacity. This is due to safety concerns. Prior to the tournament, all Walking Tanks which are to be used in the tournament will need to be inspected and approved by a minimum of three Steel Carnage Walking Tank Inspectors for adherence to rules and regulations, and for safety. Matches will follow a new set of victory conditions called Base Capture. In addition to the standard victory condition of disabling all enemy tanks, each team is allocated a designated area, or base, which they must defend from capture. To capture an opposing base, a tank must remain inside the designated area for three hundred seconds continuously. The capture timer is reset if a tank from any side is knocked out. And that just about sums it up."
-STEEL CARNAGE: AN INVITATION-
[Black Forest Women's College Senshado Manoeuvring Grounds]
The Black Forest girls were stunned from the rules announcement, and Maho, sensing that if she didn't get them under control soon, she'd have a struggle getting anything done today. Thankfully she had realized this early, and told everyone to get into their tanks soon after her announcement was over, and was herself seated in her own Tiger, now repaired back to its former glory. Fifteen tanks were lined up at opposite ends of a shooting range; half the team on one end, half on the other.
"First up, I want everyone to go back to basics," she said over the radio. "Something I've noticed last tournament is that while every other school's team had at most one or two gunners with over ninety percent hit rate, Oarai has at least four. We need every tank to be a serious threat if we're going to win in Steel Carnage without a firepower, armour or numbers advantage. For this exercise half of you will be targets, and the other half will be shooting. Its paint rounds only, so there's no need to worry. The goal of this exercise is to fire as fast as possible whilst keeping your accuracy up. That means Loaders no slacking. Commanders will be directing Gunners to their targets. Radio Operators will have their tank's target identified through radio. Drivers, sorry but you'll be recording the results of every shot for me to look at afterwards, and you'll also be in charge of using the timer. I promise I've got something for you later."
"We're not unhappy about it," whispered Maho's driver, notebook and pen in hand, just quietly enough to not carry over to the mic, giving her a wink. Maho kept her stoic demeanour, but inwardly was happy that her team still respected and listened to her, especially after losing not once but twice in a row. In fact, they seemed even more determined to practice, but the event they were practicing for was nothing like any competition ever held, let alone any they'd competed in. After drilling the basics back in this week, she would have to start thinking like Miho if she wanted to make the most of an unknown scenario. "Start the exercise!"
-STEEL CARNAGE: AN INVITATION-
[Oarai Girls School Student Council Room]
The student council room was deadly quiet. The news about the rules was a complete shock to everyone that had yet to see them, and it took a while before anyone was able to gather the courage to say something.
"So, er," said Karina, a diminutive first year, and the M3 Lee's driver. "Where do we find one of these Walking Tanks?"
"I think I know where," replied Anzu with her trademark Cheshire cat grin. "You don't think this ship was built using conventional methods do you?"
-NEXT TIME ON STEEL CARNAGE-
"I think we found the missing link between infantry and artillery."
"I'm upset because Steel Carnage is a blatant affront to Senshado!"
Black Forest has been changed to the Number One seed, instead of taking the Number Two spot for Steel Carnage
Corrected the typo of having Rei in the intro instead of Asuka.
Changed the average crew per vehicle from 2.5 to 3.
Timespan of the tournament has been changed to match the (much more practical) schedule posted as of Chapter 4.
Capture timer for bases changed from 60 sec to 300 sec.