Just like any club, the Sensha-do club of Oasis Mirage spent plenty of time together both in and out of action. Be it mock battles, real battles, strategy planning (in which Emily and Porter usually weren’t invited) or plain old team-building exercises, it wasn’t uncommon to see them all together at once. They were, after all, very good friends.
After their most recent battle with their long time rivals Gloriana, to celebrate the stellar effort everyone had put in this time round, the Marshall Komon Lucia organised a movie night for the four girls; namely Misaki, Fuchs, Emily and Porter. She had gotten her hands on a copy of the movie ‘Fury’ on DVD, and naturally, tank movies would be high on the movie priority list for the Sensha-do club.
Moreover, this American production had Japanese subtitles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t often you could find a good film, spoken in English, that had been dubbed over to Japanese, and done it well. They either sounded odd or weren’t dubbed at all.
The scene was more or less set. Komon’s room was plenty spacious, with a fair sized TV sat upon a small desk. On the other wall was a sofa, with plenty of pillows for extra comfort, and the fridge was stocked with plenty of snacks and drinks. It was starting to turn dark, at 9pm, and so the stage was more or less set for a proper girl’s night in.
First to arrive had been the ever punctual Fuchs. She wore casual clothes, generic shorts and a t-shirt, with a sports bag at her side likely containing a sleeping bag and a change of pyjamas.
“Ah, Marshall,” she said as the door opened, “I hope I’m not late. I haven’t kept everyone waiting, have I?”
The Marshall gave Fuchs a warm smile. “You’re actually the first to arrive. I asked for everyone to arrive by around quarter past nine; so you are in fact plenty early.”
Fuchs let out a sigh of relief. She unslung her bag, brushed aside her sandy blonde hair, and asked the Marshall, “So where should I put this?”
“Anywhere is fine.”
Not long after Fuchs had sat herself down, the commander of the Tiger had arrived. Misaki too was wearing what must have been her relaxing clothes, as they were loose fitting and not exactly formal. A stuffed rucksack was strapped to her back, and the Marshall showed her too a place to leave her belongings.
And now, the contest began.
“100 yen says that Emi is the first to arrive,” stated Misaki.
“I’ll be willing to take you up on that offer,” replied the Marshall, “For I can place my trust in Porter and her making haste.”
“Nonesense, I bet that neither of them end up showing themselves,” called Fuchs from across the room, as she began to set up and arrange pillows in optimal and comfy positions.
“Well, I feared that they might not turn up, so I reminded them repeatedly, sent them texts, and left notes inside of their tanks that they were to turn up tonight,” said the Marshall.
“And what if they’re late?” asked Misaki.
“That is why I asked them to arrive at 8pm, and not by 9pm, like I did the rest of you.”
Several things happened before the arrival of the next girl. Firstly, Fuchs had unpacked her bag to reveal several snacks and such of her own. They were well received by both Misaki and the Marshall, and Fuchs then set about changing into her pyjamas. The pyjamas were fairly simple in design; a sandy desert tan in colour, and a nice fabric in make.
Then Misaki unveiled her pyjamas.
A tiger onesie. A bright glaring orange, with stripes dark as her own hair all along the single piece, and a white belly. A little hood with two absolutely adorable tiger ears topped her head and made the girl look far less intimidating than she normally did in her own Tiger tank.
She even had slippers in tiger stripes, with little buttons for eyes, noses and whiskers on her feet.
The Marshall’s pyjamas weren’t anything special either, but both of the other girls were too stunned to look away from Misaki. Not because she was beautiful; she certainly was pretty, they had just never imagined Misaki to wear something quite… like that.
Apparently her love of the Tiger ran far deeper than either of them realised.
The clock ticked past 9:30 and there was a furious knocking at the door.
“Ah! Erm, this is the Marshall’s room, isn’t it?”
“I think so?”
So the two of them had turned up at the same time. It appeared then, that unfortunately for Misaki and the Marshall, their bet would be invalid.
“I mean, bloody hell, I can’t believe it took us that long to find this blasted room! It’s almost like it’s hidden away or something!”
Komon Lucia’s room was one of the first in the buildings on the school ship as she was a more senior member of the school. It held a certain level of prestige.
“They must be tricking us, they must be! They called us out here to make us look silly an-owie!”
The Marshall had gone to open the door, and inadvertently smacked the poor little Porter right in her adorable little face. The adorable little face that was, now, held in both hands, as she tried to rub it better. The smack wasn’t exactly forceful, but the Marshall was a lot taller than both Emily and Porter, and consequently, had hurt Porter.
“Marshall, you sod! Apologise to Porter! You made her cry!” Emily cried and pointed in accusation at Komon, as if she had just been discovered to be a witch or something.
“Oh, Porter,” the Marshall bowed. “I’m ever so sorry for hitting you; I didn’t mean to.”
“Ahh… it’s fine, Marshall, I’m fine. See? Tada!”
The poor Marshall had to resist the urge to squeal as Porter’s usual cute factor was turned up to eleven by two things. First, the pyjamas Porter wore, and had apparently walked all the way there in. They looked more like something a six year old girl would wear than a sixteen year old high-schooler who drove tanks.
Second, was that she had hit Porter in the nose. It wasn’t bleeding, thankfully, but had gave the girl’s voice a much more nasal quality to it, as if she were holding her nose whilst talking. It was hard to take her seriously when she was that adorable.
“Come in, come in, the both of you,” the Marshall beckoned, and the two girls stepped in with their bags. Or, rather, veritably bounded in fueled by pure excitement. Oh dear. That would only get worse when they broke out the fizzy drinks and sugary snacks later on.
What Fuchs (who seemed half asleep at this point) had brought in snacks, Emily had brought in a full tea set, complete with tea pot, cake stand, and everything.
“Emi,” Misaki began, “This isn’t afternoon tea. We did that last week, and you remember how that turned out.”
The British girl tilted her head. “So?”
“Why did you bring this tea set?”
“Because we’re going to be having tea, of course.”
“But I already have a drink,” Misaki began, as she held up her bottle of cola.
“Same,” added Fuchs, as she lazily held an energy drink of some description.
“Me too,” said the Marshall, as she had her own drink from her fridge too.
“B-but... “ Emily trembled, obviously disappointed. “I brought the cups! I brought the teapot! I even brought the bloody cake stand, and I barely ever bring the cake stand!” She brought the cake stand last week. “I thought we were watching a nice English movie, and having proper afternoon tea!”
“If you read the letter,” said Fuchs, “You may have noticed that what the Marshall specified was that the movie was in English. As in, the English language, since she couldn’t get a hold of any versions with Japanese voice-overs. She wanted to know if we were fine with reading subtitles.”
“No way… Porter!” Emily cried, “Porter, please, you’re my last bastion of hope, my sole chance! Please tell me you, at the very least, would enjoy a spot of afternoon tea with me! Please!”
Porter was extremely conflicted. Emily was a good friend, but Porter loved her sweets! And she knew how Emily liked her tea. Traditional, rather bitter with not much sugar, for a girl with surprisingly refined tastes. She wanted to relax and enjoy some sugary drinks, but she didn’t want to hurt Emily! The dilemma, the impossible dilemma!
“I… ah…. Er…” Porter looked the British girl up and down, who stood shaking in her classic English-style night gown. Rather fancy. She then looked back down, closed her eyes, and broke the bad news.
“I-I can’t… I’m sorry, Emi…” And with that, the two girls broke down into a sobbing, crying heap of hugging and wailing.
At 9:45 sharp, merely half an hour after the scheduled beginning of the movie, everyone was finally ready. The Marshall sat in her favourite seat, with plenty of room for her and Misaki, who sat next to her, laid back. On the floor laid Fuchs, running on pure energy drink at this point. Finally, Emily and Porter had (after having made up over the tea incident) claimed their half of the room and constructed a pillow fort, stealing and sealing snacks and drinks of their own within.
The Marshall stuck the DVD in the player, navigated through some menus, and began the movie. Finally.
“I’ve a question,” asked Emily as she raised her hand. “How am I supposed to watch the movie if there are Japanese subtitles?”
The Marshall, Misaki and Fuchs looked at the girl incredulously. “You’d watch it as you would a normal movie,” the Marshall stated.
“Yeah, but I mean, the subtitles are in Japanese.”
“That’s so we can understand what is going on.”
“There’s subtitles! How do I watch if there are subtitles?!”
“You aren’t forced to read them.”
“Why can’t we turn them off?”
“Like I just said, the rest of us can’t understand Engli-”
“I’ll translate what they’re saying for you!”
All four girls, for once including Porter, synchronised with a resounding “No.” Emily was left pouting and the movie continued with subtitles.
“Fuchs, you holding up okay down there?” whispered Misaki. Fuchs was evidently incredibly tired; their practice today must have totally drained the poor girl. It wasn’t often that you were run ragged across several square kilometres of desert in a speedy Panzer III F by a lone Tiger.
“Mmm.. I’ll make it. I think. If not, tell my family, I love them,” she mumbled, seemingly toeing the line between being asleep and awake. She barely even seemed to be paying attention to the screen, and was suckling the energy drink like a baby.
Misaki idly wondered if Fuchs was reading the subtitles, and even had the faintest idea of what was happening in the movie. She shrugged her shoulders and sat back up into her own seat, and carried on watching the movie. The Marshall seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it so far, and as for Porter and Emily, she wasn’t entirely sure.
Having ‘comandeered’ (stolen) some of the base billows of the sofa, plenty of normal pillows, several blankets and even an extra large beanbag from what seemed to be thin air, the two girls held firmly on to their fortress of pillows, and retained a vigilant watch over their holdings. Misaki’s only indication that they were even still awake was that every now and again, one of them would pop their head over the wall like a meerkat, and scan the surroundings.
Whatever the case, they were whispering some highly secretive things to oneanother very often, and most of them were easily audible since neither Emily nor Porter had mastered the art of whispering.
Topics of secrecy involved explaining what was happening in the movie, how the movie could be better, the likelihood of pulling a coup d’etat within the Sensha-do team, the likelihood of stealing a copious amount of sweets from the other three and getting away with it, sharing the sweets they already had… the list carried on and on.
Misaki wondered whether or not they were watching, but the fact that Emily was continually complaining about the Japanese subtitles so vitally important to the rest of them told her all she needed to know.
Throughout the film, the Marshall had observed that Misaki was slowly becoming more and more agitated. It likely wasn’t because of the two girls in the pillow fort, because they had quietened down by now, and she wasn’t sure if Fuchs was even still alive at this point, but then she figured it must have been because of the movie.
Some of the scenes certainly were rather harrowing, and probably weren’t ideal for a girl’s night in to watch. However, there were plenty of tank battles in between, and that was what they were here to see.
A small convoy of Sherman tanks rolled up a dirt track when suddenly, the rear tank exploded in a ball of flames, and the turret popped straight off.
The sound of a shot echoed through the speakers, and the low rumble of a powerful engine and tracks was heard.
The Marshall watched as Misaki’s smile grew wider and wider, threatening to fall off her face, as the girl clearly struggled to contain her excitement.
There it was, in all its glory. The sole running example of a real Tiger tank left in the world, Tiger #131, belonging to the Bovington Tank Museum in England. A fact which Misaki was quick and keen to point out.
“Man, it’s so cool! It’s so elegant, so beautiful! Look at it! How can you not love the Tiger? It’s strong, powerful, well armoured, you could even say it’s the perfect tank!”
Hell, even Misaki herself was very well aware that this wasn’t even remotely the case, what with the Tiger’s famous track record of reliability issues.
“Shh,” Fuchs hissed from her position down on the ground. This surprised both Misaki and the Marshall, neither were even aware she was still awake. Obviously, someone wanted to enjoy the movie more.
“What, Tiger 131? I remember seeing it at the tank museum when I last went for my birthday. I guess it’s pretty cool,” said Emily rather casually. Obviously, someone else wanted to stoke the fire and fan the flames.
“Argh! Damn you Emily, damn you! I’m so jealous! To see such a magnificent beast up close, and in person no less?! How dare you!”
“How dare you? You’re acting like you own the sodding Tiger or something, come off it.” Emily then yawned loudly.
Her apparent disinterest was the spark that ignited the catfight between the two parties, and resulted in Emily and Porter trying to hold their fort’s walls strong while the menace in the tiger onesie growled and tried her hardest to break the damned thing down.
“Misaki, calm down,” snapped the Marshall. The last thing she needed as team captain was a stack of forms on her desk to be filled out explaining why one of their members, a transfer student no less, had been killed in a club activity. “I thought you wanted to see the Tiger in all its glory?”
The girl weighed her options, hands hovering inches from Emily’s neck. She then shrugged, flopped back over onto the floor next to Fuchs, and focused back on the film once again. The Shermans had turned right, and engaged the Tiger in formation, as the tension in the movie trebled. It was clear, even without expert tankery knowledge, that the Shermans were at a huge disadvantage.
“They don’t stand a chance,” Misaki whispered whilst nudging a barely conscious Fuchs. “Look; shoot the transmission. The 88mm will make them go up like firecrackers.” Fuchs either ignored her, didn’t respond, or was asleep.
The Shermans in the movie shot round after round at the Tiger, with each one having no effect whatsoever. The Tiger then turned its turret towards the advancing tanks. With an incredible bang, the Tiger’s 88mm gun shot at one of the Shermans and missed; instead hitting the poor commander who had been turned out with most of his torso.
As he turned into red mist, the room turned to screams. More specifically, Fort Pillow had turned to screams. Emily wasn’t any younger than Misaki or Fuchs, but she didn’t have the strongest tolerance for gore. Porter was younger than the rest of the girls; and she certainly didn’t have the stomach for such a gruesome scene.
The Marshall certainly wasn’t a fan of the horrific shot, but she groaned to herself. Maybe choosing this movie wasn’t the wisest of ideas after all, she thought to herself. Even she had trouble getting rid of the bloody image from her mind, never mind the two bundles of joy who sat hugging each other and sobbing. Misaki’s eyes were still glued to the screen however, apparently unfazed, and Fuchs had still yet to show signs of life.
One by one, the Tiger shot and knocked out the oncoming Sherman tanks with stupendous power, each shot accompanied by a gasp of terror from Fort Pillow and a quiet exclamation of joy from Misaki. The Marshall could almost mistake her for a first year, grinning and cheering with excitement in her tiger onesie. Someone was clearly in a good mood.
The last Sherman tank, Fury, was all that remained, as it charged forward alone. Another shot from the Tiger narrowly missed the dead centre of Fury’s frontal armour; instead striking a log attached to the side of the tank.
“Bullshit,” said the Marshall in an odd twist of events, “I’m no expert but a log can’t stop a tank shell; an 88 millimetre at that.” Misaki furiously nodded in agreement; she too was angry that Fury had gotten away with it so luckily.
Having all but forgotten about the commander decapitation earlier, the commanders of Fort Pillow has decided that cheering would make the best use of their energy. However, it wasn’t exactly clear which side they were cheering for, as they cheered whenever the Sherman Fury and the Tiger shot.
Then, Fury outran the turning of the Tiger’s turret, and managed to flank the much heavier German tank. Misaki closed her eyes as she simply couldn’t take the suspense of the situation. However, she was wise to the situation, she knew that the Tiger was facing impending doom. Perhaps not seeing the killing blow would soften the impact.
That wasn’t the case.
A 76mm shot from Fury found its way into the back of the Tiger’s armour, utterly crippling the engine and apparently hitting a fuel tank, as the engine deck caught fire. And with that shot, the beast had been slain, and Misaki collapsed into tears. Porter leapt out of her pillow fortress and charged into Misaki for a hug, in an attempt to console the poor girl. She was sniffling and sobbing much like Porter was earlier.
After a healthy dose of snuggles from Porter had cured Misaki’s ailment, and removed the girl’s trauma, things finally began to settle back down once again. Before long, the movie had finally ended and the credits rolled. It was very late by that point; rather close to midnight. Soft and gentle snoring could be heard from the pillow fort, as Emily had succumbed to sleep.
Misaki struggled to keep herself awake as she hugged the much smaller Porter, who laid asleep in her lap. It was a wonder that she wasn’t squealing to herself, in such a diabetes-inducingly sweet situation. Fuchs got up and went to the fridge in order to retrieve some more snacks for herself, as somewhere along the line, they had all disappeared from the bowl the three of them shared.
And as for Komon Lucia, the Marshall?
She thought the night had gone well, if she did say so herself. It was mostly successful, with the movie starting earlier than she had hoped and expected it to, and a fair time after she had set it to. Most of the girls were sleeping soundly or drifting off, and the room was not a complete mess. With a gargantuan effort, she lifted herself up, and turned off the TV. It was late, and time for bed for the girls.
“Good night, everyone.”