The glaring sun beat down on the Rommel Sprinter. It was the height of summer, high time for girls in high schools like Oasis Mirage to be out with their tanks, having a barbecue and relaxing. Naturally. While the Kiev with Pravda atop stayed in Arctic waters, cold all year round, and the girls of Gloriana on the Ark Royal locked themselves inside with the air conditioning set to maximum, the girls of Oasis Mirage were no strangers to the sweltering heat of summer.
Komon Lucia, the head of the tankery team, saw fit to call a break on the day’s training. After the first year team in one of the Semovente 75/18 tank destroyers almost struck a shrieking Emily Heartcastle during target practice, and the targets down the range remained mostly unscratched by tank rounds, Komon thought that it was time to raise the morale of the troops.
What better way to raise morale than an open-top barbecue?
She donned her apron over her tan uniform, the words “Küss den Koch” imprinted on the front of it. For emergency situations such as this, Komon kept all her barbecue equipment in the rear stowage box of the Panzer 3N. Spatula, grabber tongs, the other fork-looking thing… they were all there. And, after clambering inside her tank and reaching for one of the stowage compartments close to the ground, she unveiled her secret weapon.
“Sausages?” asked the commander of the Tiger, Misaki Natsuko. “Marshall, why do you need a spatula if you’re cooking sausages?”
“That’s besides the point, Misaki,” replied Komon, plucking a couple of the sausages and sticking them on the blisteringly hot engine deck of the Panzer III N. They immediately began to sizzle, and Komon poured a few drops of oil on the deck. “If you insist on picking fault with my method of cooking, then I’m afraid I’ll be forced to deny you sausages.”
“That’s a lie and you know it.”
“I bet Emi is feeling hungry after her,” Komon raised her fingers to accentuate speech marks, “Near death experience. She’d wolf them down in an instant.”
“Ah… point taken, Marshall.” Misaki instead decided to occupy herself with clambering back on top of her Tiger to get some pseudo-sunbathing in, which was difficult whilst wearing the tan shirt and skirt of the uniform. Her black hair lay strewn across the Tiger’s roof. It left Komon in the relative peace and quiet.
“That’s what I thought,” Komon muttered to herself with a grin, as she finished placing the final sausage on the engine deck. With a roaring sizzle, she checked her watch - with how hot the deck was, the sausages would need turning over in a few minutes time to prevent them from being overcooked. She gave her handiwork a good nod and adjusted the flight cap on her head, which covered her blonde bun. She hopped on top of the Panzer III N, only to spot...
“MARSHALL!” a girl squealed, as she sprinted across the distance between the two of them. “Sausages? Bangers? Are we having a barbecue? Wonderful! I’m absolutely bloody starving! Marshall, Marshall, are they ready yet? Are they ready? When are we eating?”
...the commander of the Matilda, originally from St .Gloriana, outfitted with the crew, originally from St. Gloriana. The English girl they all called Emi.
“Emi, I’ve only just put them on the deck. You’re going to have to wait for a few minutes while they cook.” Lord, the girl needed to take a chill pill. It seemed that she had recovered from almost being shot out of her commander’s hatch earlier on in target practice (even though the shot missed by almost fifteen metres,) but instead put her pent up energy to use elsewhere.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Marshall?! It’s Eh-Mi-Lee, Emily! Not Emi, not Emi-ri, absolutely not! Can you not just pronounce it right?”
Emily, while she had (almost) perfect understanding of the Japanese language, still could not comprehend the fact that the L-sound was not part of Japanese vocabulary, and hence made her name very difficult to pronounce. The team universally agreed, without her consent, that her nickname would be Emi, to simplify things.
“And how many times have we told you that ‘Eh-me-ri’ is too difficult to pronounce?”
“There! You did it again, bloody hell! How is it so difficult?”
Komon would give her quite the lengthy explanation, but she was pre-occupied with turning over the sausages on the engine deck. Misaki quipped from atop the Tiger, “Pipe down, Emi. I need my beauty sleep.”
“I hate all of you!”
“Then I guess you won’t be sharing our delicious sausages. Isn’t that a shame?”
“Marshall, stop bullying Emi,” Misaki once again shouted from her Tiger.
“I am so dreadfully sorry for every mistake I have made in my life up until this point, and offer my most sincere apologies. So please, I’m begging you… allow me to have a sausage. Perhaps even two. Please? I’m sorry.”
Komon’s expression twisted from a slight frown into a gentle and warm smile. “Oh, Emi,” she said, “Never change.” The girl was currently suckling from a flask (handily labelled “EMILY’S TEA DON’T TOUCH”) swiped from her belt as if it were a lifeline.
“Eh?” Emily grunted through her flask. “Ah, excuse me Marshall, that was rude of me. I’ll make sure not to change, if that’s an order!” She continued to drink, before wiping her mouth and placing the flask back on her belt. She saluted, turned back on her heel, and bounded back towards her Matilda, where the other two girls awaited her. She shouted something that sounded faintly like “We’re having sausages!” though she was out of earshot for Komon.
Said sausages were almost ready. Out of the packet, they had been a nice pale pink colour, but now they were a tasty-looking brown with just a little bit of burning here and there. Cooked to perfection, if Komon did say so herself. She would know; she’d been holding impromptu barbecues on the engine decks of her tanks for as long as she could remember. If anyone in the team was a certified sausage-ologist, it would be her.
However, being a certified sausage-ologist was very hard work, quite clearly, so it was a good thing she had extra hands to get her to do the things she didn’t want to do.
“Misaki?” Komon called from the Panzer III N. The girl in question propped herself up and looked at the Marshall. “Be a dear and get the paper serving plates out, would you?”
“Roger that, Marshall,” she mumbled, as she performed an athletic twist to hop off of the Tiger. It was how she always dismounted; she said it was to stop her from twisting her foot, falling from a tall height. Rumor had it, amongst the tankery team, that she just did it to look cool.
Whatever the case, she stuck the landing, and meandered over to the Panzer III N. In yet another stowage box, there laid a number of cheap store-bought paper serving plates, and some knives and forks. Misaki quietly wondered to herself if every single stowage in the Panzer 3N was dedicated to cooking and utensils, or if there were indeed some here or there with actual useful tools and parts.
“So, where shall we put these plates? Are we just going to eat standing?” Misaki questioned her Marshall. It was a legitimate question; around them were the few tanks they had taken out for target practice today, and besides from atop their tanks, there wasn’t really anywhere to sit, unless they wanted to sit on the floor and get sand in their sausages.
That wouldn’t be good.
“I never really gave it any thought.”
“You overlooked something that simple?”
“I’m sorry. I guess we could just make do with sitting on the tanks. That’s usually fine, isn’t it?”
Misaki grumbled slightly. She couldn’t bear the thought of getting even a little bit of grease on her beautiful, precious Tiger’s paintwork. Scarred and torn though it was, it was her Tiger damn it, and be damned she would before she allowed it to be defiled by sausages!
“Let me guess. You don’t want to sit on your Tiger, because you might get sausages on it. A 54-odd tonne, lethally armed, heavily armoured, legendary beast of the Second World War. You’re afraid it will get a little messy.”
“Of course I am!” Misaki quickly shot back, “She’s my pride and joy!”
“Enjoy your sandy sausages, then,” Komon replied with a smirk. While Misaki could be irrational at times, she was certainly the perfect Vice Captain for the team.
“Oh Schei- Marshall! The sausages!”
Komon quickly turned around with a start as Misaki quickly cried out. She was half expecting Emily to be munching on the sausages in an almost comical fashion, but instead, they had taken so long chattering that Komon had lost track of time; and the sausages had begun to burn slightly.
“It’s okay! The burn adds to the taste, I promise!”
“Quick, Marshall, get them onto the plates! Salvage them!”
One after another the two girls plucked the two dozen or so sausages onto the paper serving plates, as if they were people in need of rescue from a burning building. Finally, the constant drone of the sizzle stopped as the last sausage left the scalding engine deck of the Panzer III N.
“Vice Captain, damage report.”
“About half a dozen sausages appear to be lightly burned, nothing besides that. The damage is relatively minimal.”
“Good work, Misaki.”
“The sausages are ready! Everyone, come and grab a plate!”
The portion of the tankery team who were out immediately flocked to the Panzer III N, where the Marshall handed out plates of sausages. It was the perfect way to chill out for an hour or so, and naturally, the entire team loved sausages; better yet, the Marshall’s well cooked sausages. The team held a great respect for her for many reasons, including her genius strategies and plans, but to say that her excellent barbecue skills were not one of them would be a lie.
“Thank you, Marshall,” Misaki said as she took the plate offered to her. She made her way over to her Tiger, climbed on board, and set the plate down on the turret. The rest of her crew were doing the same. The circular turret and flat top of the Tiger made it almost like a dinner table for five. A relatively happy crew and family, if you would.
That was not the case on the far smaller Matilda.
“Emily, we cannot seat all of us at the turret at once. There is simply no way we can do it,” the Matilda’s gunner Elizabeth told the blonde commander. As a childhood friend of Emily’s, she was one of the few in the team capable of pronouncing her name.
“I’m telling you, Elizabeth, it’ll be easy! Trust me. You never know until you try, right?”
“I think Elizabeth is right, Emily, there’s simply too little space…” the Matilda’s driver, Alice, told Emily. Not to be confused with the Commander of the University team, Alice, who somehow ended up becoming “Arisu,” not that she minded. Things would be more complicated at team meet-ups, otherwise.
“Nonsense, I say!” With the energy and ferocity of a Yorkshire Terrier, Emily drew open the doors of the commander’s hatch, hopped inside, and stuck her head out. “See? The little door things on the hatch act like little tables! Now we can all share the turret!”
Elizabeth lit up with a smile. “That’s brilliant, Emily!”
Alice looked at Emily and the turret once more. “But, Emily, are you sure-”
“Yes I’m bloody sure there’s enough room! Sit your backside down and get those bangers ate on the double! That’s an order!”
“Mhmm. Whatever you say, Emily.”
“Don’t brush me off like that, Alice! That’s an order!”