1 - This is a fanwork made for fun and to spread the love for all things Girls Und Panzer and History around. Girls Und Panzer belongs to its legal owners, as well as its characters and story. Also the show is awesome and you should really buy the DVDs.
2 - I need to thank BlueJay62, F-14 Tomcat Lover, FenrirWolf, Kite Tanril, Theralion, Rogue Baron, Yemi Hikari and the helpful guys at the Girls Und Panzer FaceBook group for all the help and support. The good parts of this fic only exist thanks to them. The bad parts, though, are all mine.
WELCOME TO WORLD WAR TWO
The feeling was always the same. It was unavoidable, after all. Those things weren't meant to be comfortable. The stench of burnt fuel and oil crawled up the nostrils, becoming either unbearable or simply eliminated from conscience altogether. Like everything else it had to become a second nature or one wouldn't even join the Army's elite at all. A sore throat was just part of the gig.
The same could be said about the rocking. The suspension did what it could to stabilize the hull, but still it was too hard, meant to allow the vehicle to cross over uneven terrain and not to preserve the crew's backs. So each elevation, each rock, each trench, it all went through everyone's body.
And then there was the noise. The howl of the engine, located behind the fighting compartment, reverberated inside the thick steel walls, without anything to bounce against but the frail bodies which made the machine come to life. The same sound which made orders and warnings so difficult to hear. And, from time to time, came the thundering of the main gun or the hysterical laughter of the Spandaus. It all made the eardrums ache and the head dizzy.
And yet the crew kept moving forward, the commander barking instructions to them. The attack was on the way and it was said that the enemy was already breaking. It seemed all too good to be true but the commanders insisted in pushing on, using the perceived advantage.
The driver knew he shouldn't focus on anything else but his job. The tank commander's voice erupted from his headphones telling him where to go and he acted accordingly. Through the small window right in front of his eyes he saw one of the Soviet tanks. It was a small one, an outdated BT-7, sporting its characteristic helmet-shaped turret and square hull.
It was rather rare for a driver to have such a clear sight of the prey of his own ride. Usually the tanks tried to maneuver while turning their turrets at any apparent target. That was a lucky break. The Soviet vehicle was even turning its back at the German attacking units, probably searching for some other tank that'd just rolled past it.
A terrible mistake.
The main gun of the Panzer IV Ausf. D burst in flames as the propellant ignited and the armor-piercing round escaped the short barrel, covering the few hundred meters separating it from the BT-7 in a fraction of a second. The engine compartment of the BT-7 exploded, a shower of splintered metal cascading from both sides of the small tank. It stopped moving and then disappeared of the German driver's field of vision as the attacking unit rolled past it.
The driver was feeling a wave of excitement. His crew had just killed an enemy tank, the first in the afternoon. Certainly many more would follow. He had no doubts regarding their victory now. Even the pure fear of the moment before was all but pushed away by the fleeting sight of the burning adversary.
Under him the Panzer kept rolling. Obeying his instructions he made the tank turn and abandon the small woodland it'd been traveling through during the last few minutes.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the angular T-34 materialized on the left side as soon as they rolled past the line of trees. The Soviet tank was charging at them, its main gun already aimed.
For a split second the driver didn't even hear the orders barked in panic by his commander. He could only stare at the Soviet main gun. The exhilaration dimmed and panic ascended through his spine, a wave of pure and unfiltered terror. In that moment the certainty of victory, the exultation of combat and the adrenaline of driving twenty tons of deadly metal were all but cleared away.
In that moment he could only think of his wife, his son and his daughter.
And then the Soviet tank opened fire.