TL: Chapter 11 - Countermeasures
Eohelm peeked over the hill ridge in front of him. What he had seen on the other side was merely an animal, as it turned out, however. 'Hoof-Animal' they called them around here. Eohelm watched it as it lazily lay in the grass and chewed away at whatever it was eating. The brown spots on its fur were reminiscent of a tank's camouflage, at least in a way. It didn't even look up as Eohelm drove out from behind the hill and passed it, now that he had made sure that he wasn't in danger. He was not too far away from Falkendorf, still barely in radio range. During scouting runs, he'd stray farther, but today, his job was simply to spot any deliberate intruders, and also those who had accidentally wandered into the territory. The latter happened occasionally. The former with greater frequency, but still not often. Generally, living in the town was rather quiet, as most of the surrounding teams knew not to mess with its inhabitants. Even though Eohelm didn't know how the battle would end — or if he'd even live to see that end —, he knew that this would change soon. What would be left of his team would no longer be able to defend the town. Right then, he was cursing his own inaction. He couldn't help but keep wondering if this inglorious conclusion of his team could have been avoided if only he had done anything about it. Now, he had no choice but to finally do his part. He found it hard to accept the fact that he had simply watched and waited for this conclusion to happen. Turning up the volume on the music he was listening to, he tried to break his train of thought and focus on the problem at hand again. There was his feelings on the matter, and there was the facts. The facts said that there was seven tanks against six. Not a fair fight by definition, but he could work with that. Besides, most fights weren't fair. Eohelm wouldn't have let people call him a genius strategist if he couldn't deal with such scenarios. It would of course have been infinitely more difficult if he hadn't known every detail of his enemies' plan. So maybe one could say that in terms of fairness, quite the contrary was the case. Since Nordic had finished reporting who was on their side, Eohelm had been mulling over the issue. He had come up with the idea of a completely different plan somewhere along the way, but it was the opposite of heroic — just avoiding the conflict altogether and sneaking out of the town while no one was looking. The problem, and the reason why the plan was basically scrapped, was that it would be hard for six tanks to leave the town unnoticed. The next alternative plan had a big question mark. Should they just try to kill the traitors before a fight could even happen? 'No. That could end in total chaos,' the Centurion thought. They would never be able to round them up in one place and — he hated to even think of that word — execute them pre-emptively. But what about just sneaking up on every single one and shooting them while they suspected nothing? Or maybe … a combination of both …? He halted with a baffled "Oh!" as he realized he had just figured out what to do. It wasn't too complicated. Almost as straightforward as the GW Panther's idea. And that meant it could work. He excitedly started drawing up a map of the town center, marking positions and paths. Back at the original course of action. A combat plan. It's what Eohelm did best.
“Gattersberg.” Fang glared down at Siren. “Gattersberg,” the Jagdpanther repeated. His voice had an icy edge, sharp enough to cut through steel effortlessly. He gestured at the silhouette of a skyline in the distance. Sure enough, there was a town. But the road sign read ‘Falkendorf’, and it was inhabited. Tate watched Siren shift about on his tracks and throwing distressed looks back at him. But Tate did not come to his aid, and the little E-25 was all on his own against his other brother’s wrath. “You know the way, huh?” Fang went on. “Ye—” Siren yelped as he was whacked over the fighting compartment with his own map. “No, you don’t!” Fang shouted at him. “You wouldn’t know the way out of your factory gates!” The reply was a grief-stricken “Weh”. Fang gave the other tank one last — but all the more fierce — glare. “Good job … idiot!” he groused, then seemingly accepted that acting out his rage wouldn’t change the facts. He turned towards Tate. “Well, what now?” he asked. Siren turned around as well, his expression an expectant one. Despite Siren’s repeated assertions that he would lead his brothers to the right location, Tate had been preparing himself for situations such as this one. While it was disappointing that they hadn’t arrived at a place of free fuel, it wasn’t shocking. And despite Fang’s anger about the inconvenience, everything could have been much worse — they could have ended up in the middle of absolutely nowhere. In comparison, a hostile team wasn’t an insurmountable problem. “We’ll do our thing,” Tate thought out loud.
With the moon hidden by clouds, the night was dark. Only the dim lights of the open garages painted the fronts of the surrounding buildings with faint shadows. Nordic had been watching the tanks that were casting these shadows for the past hour. 'Hadn't I known about her betrayal, I would have wondered why she's so busy today,' he mused as his optics followed a particular SPG. Right then, the GW Panther was standing together with the T34. The AMX 13-75 accompanied them, inevitably. The light tank was watching the interaction of the two other tanks closely. Last minute adjustments were being made to the plan. In its crude gist, it was the same, however. Once all the participants on both sides had been clear, coming up with a counterplan had seemingly been easy enough for Eohelm. But he had stressed that despite its simplicity - or, especially because of it - the GW Panther's plan could not be underestimated. If they didn't stick to their counterplan closely, it was still very possible that someone got hurt or even killed. Nordic sincerely hoped he wouldn't be 'someone'. He looked up as he suddenly felt little tapping sensations on his armour, and ended up squinting against raindrops that had just begun to fall. 'Lots of rain lately,' he thought with a sigh and reached for his side. He grabbed a piece of tarp and tied it over his turret. Not that a bit of water could harm him, but it was still always nice not to catch as much rain as possible in his open-topped insides. As he directed his attention back at the garage spaces, the scene had changed only slightly. The T34 had seemed to take the starting rain as a sign of the heavens that the conversation was over. He was rolling towards his garage. The AMX 13-75 was inching closer to the GW Panther, but halted as he was mentioned on the team's common radio channel. Eohelm's voice announced that he was returning from his guard duty, and had nominated the AMX 13-75 as the night guard. There was a strange, collective hesitation to reply. Usually, everyone would add their opinion to topics like these, but in that moment, there was only an awkward silence. Everyone seemed to be waiting for some kind of cue. Was Eohelm's suggestion compliant with whatever plan the individual was privy to? And who was making the decisions now, anyway? Nordic could have sworn he had faintly heard all those optics shifting. Having the light tank out of the town would definitely not be a disadvantage. Only now Nordic realized that it would however indeed be a disadvantage if one of his group would have to go on guard. But it appeared that Eohelm had considered this in his plan indeed. The AMX 13-75 made a "Hrm" sound loud enough for Nordic to hear all the way over at his garage. «That is inconvenient,» the GW Panther complained on the common channel of her part of the team. She didn't say anything on the full team's channel. Nordic guessed that she wasn't able to come up on the spot with a believable reason why someone else should go. And of course, Nordic wasn't going to help her with this. It took a few moments more of the AMX 13-75 looking at the GW Panther as if he expected help from her, until he finally turned around and drove off. The GW Panther stood around for a bit longer, but then drove towards her garage. So did the others; soon, everyone had disappeared in their own garage, except for Eject. He was patrolling the outskirts. The lights were turned off as everyone got ready to sleep. But Nordic noticed that two garage doors were still casting light into the square. One of them was the Indien-Panzer's — in plain sight. He was rearranging some boxes inside his garage, for whatever reason. The other light required Nordic to inch forward to catch a glimpse. He didn't have to roll far. At the same time, the GW Panther emerged from said garage. Nordic watched her roll towards him with a tilted cannon. Only as she passed him without a word, it became clear that she hadn't actually been approaching him. She was on the way to leave the garage spaces. Moments after she passed him, however, she suddenly halted. At first, she only looked back over her collar, but then she turned around fully and scrutinized Nordic. He returned her gaze with a puzzled expression. "Going for a drive?" she asked him eventually. Nordic's stare grew blank. The GW Panther pointed at her turret. It still took a moment until he realized what she meant. He pulled his hood a little tighter with a chuckle. "Noo, I just. Uh." The GW Panther raised an optic ridge. Nordic quickly thought of a distraction. "Where are you going?" he asked casually. That seemed to work. "Isn't that obvious?" the GW Panther replied. Nordic quickly stifled a frown. They had hoped that the SPG would stay where the others were, and definitely not in a position where she could actually cause harm. Time to fumble for a way to stop her. "Well, yeah, that's the thing," Nordic said. He vaguely gestured into the direction of the other garages. "They're going to look for you there first." "Where else am I supposed to go?" the GW Panther snapped. She had thought too far ahead. Nordic lowered his cannon pensively, but then had an unexpected idea. "Take a guard with you, maybe?" he suggested. If she just took him with her, the revolt would be over quickly. At the beginning of it, he would simply take her out, and the whole thing would be cancelled! The GW Panther tilted her cannon with a thought of her own. "Actually, …" she murmured and turned her turret around. Nordic followed her gaze to the Indien-Panzer, who was still in the process of rearranging the boxes inside his garage. He suddenly paused and returned the look. Then, he put down the box he was holding at the moment, set himself into motion, closed his garage door, and approached the GW Panther. It took Nordic a few moments of watching them obviously having a silent exchange until he realized that he had just unnecessarily complicated the whole issue for himself. "A good idea," the GW Panther said to Nordic. Her voice sounded like she hadn't expected such. Nordic did his best to not let it show how frustrated he had grown within the space of a mere split second upon guessing her intentions. The GW Panther turned around again and continued on her way to the hill. The Indien-Panzer trundled after her. "Now that's inconvenient," Nordic murmured as soon as she was out of earshot. He immediately turned to his radio to contact Eohelm about the changed situation. As he had expected, the Centurion wasn't happy about it. Not only did this mean the GW Panther would easily spot them when they tried to get into their positions, she would also be impossible to reach. Eohelm appeared in the garage spaces just moments later. Eject was by his side. They halted in front of Nordic's garage, and Eohelm looked at his teammate sternly. "I was hoping —" he began to say, but then his cannon perked up and he interrupted himself to speak into his radio. "Quick, everyone! Get into position, now! This might be our only chance. While she's on the way up the hill, she won't notice us." Immediately afterwards, Rex' and Fox' garage doors opened. Sky rolled out from a garage at the opposite side of the square moments later. Rex and Eject nodded at each other before they drove into garages that weren't their own. Eohelm hurried towards the west exit of the square, followed by Sky. Fox drove off northward. Nordic quickly drove after him. Eohelm suddenly spoke on the radio again. «I think I know a way to make things a bit easier for us,» he said. «But I need everyone's agreement.» The others remained silent, waiting for him to speak on. «Okay, so …» he said eventually. «I suggest that we tell the Indien-Panzer after all.» The silence stretched on for a moment longer; finally, Fox replied. «… Come again?»