TL: Chapter 1 - Arty

“Why are you camping??”   “Arty, relocate!”   “Haha!”   The sound of a cannon being fired in quick succession filled the base. The M5 Stuart laughed as he shot another shell at his teammate, missing only barely on purpose. Dirt flew up as the shell’s impact formed a little crater right next to a Sturmpanzer II’s tracks.   “Stop that!” the SPG hissed, moving about like a caged animal while trying to evade the fire that her teammate was directing at her … like always. She would have turned around and driven away, but it wasn’t like he and the M7 who was helping him even gave her a chance to escape. She was going to play their game, whether she wanted to or not. Another shot grazed her side armour, ricocheting but still causing a nasty dent.   “Come on! Move!” the M5 goaded, aiming his cannon barrel straight at her this time. His partner in crime, the M7, didn’t shoot, knowing well that a single one of his shells could kill their teammate, but that didn’t stop him from cackling gleefully as he kept blocking every possible route of escape.   The Sturmpanzer’s engine raced as she stared down her teammate’s barrel. He was going to kill her this time, that was for sure. He wasn’t allowed to, but she knew he would. A quick, panicked look around told her that her teammates were busy elsewhere, not caring about the bullying as usual. The Sturmpanzer didn’t know what else to do. She mimicked the M5 and pointed her cannon at him.   “Fine then,” she growled and fired, before he could even realize what her intention was.   An explosion made the whole camp go silent.   As the smoke of the Sturmpanzer’s shot had cleared away, all that was left of the M5 was a burning wreck. For a couple of seconds, the Sturmpanzer and the M7 just stared; then the M7 started shrieking.   At once, the other teammates swarmed the scene; everyone wanted to know what had happened. Was it an enemy attack? The Sturmpanzer looked at the others, horror building up inside her as she started to understand what she had just done. She knew what a team kill meant.   The M7 was blubbering about how Arty had killed his friend for no reason. Her barrel was raised high in alarm as loud voices rose in the crowd, demanding an eye for an eye.   “I didn’t mean to —” she tried to defend herself, but a medium tank spoke up and interrupted her.   “We can’t kill her,” he said, earning frustrated growls from his teammates.   “But she —” the M7 yelled.   “Hear me out!” he other medium went on, silencing the others. “It’s forbidden! A tank who kills a teamkiller is no better than the teamkiller himself!”   “Exile, then!” another tank shouted.   The M7 continued to protest, but his voice was drowned out by the other tanks chanting “Exile!”. The Sturmpanzer’s optics darted about, but every single expression was hostile, signalling her that she only had one option now — leave and never come back. She hurried out of the camp without any further hesitation.   Only as she couldn’t see or hear anyone anymore, she dared to slow down. She halted and looked back at the big, broken bridge — the signature feature of her team’s base — that was visible in the distance. Despite never feeling like a home, it was still a familiar, comforting sight against the peaceful sky. It was probably the last time she’d ever see it.   As her optics lingered, it slowly dawned on the Sturmpanzer that she was on her own now, for the first time in her life. She wondered if this was the end. A lone artillery was as good as dead, but even if she should somehow survive, she was dead to her team.   Turning back around, she let her optics wander along the mountaintops in the opposite direction. Dark clouds were looming above them. She had looked that way every so often in the past, but never actually ventured any farther than this point.   The Sturmpanzer had to make a decision; she could sit down right where she was and wait for her inevitable death, or she’d have to follow the path in front of her into the unknown — with only the hope that it wouldn’t be her demise all the same.   She lingered for a moment longer, throwing one last look back at the world she knew; then, she slowly set herself into motion.


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