SNF 2016.08 - PFW'S * TANK * COMMAND

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Description: MAIN EVENT - RUST and AKIKO driving the BE-0X GHOST vs HITOMI and MINT driving the AM-21 ASSERTER - Now entering the BATTLEZONE! Get a first hand glimpse if ninjas and karatekas can drive as the mysterious BE-0X GHOST and the dominating AM-21 ASSERTER take the field for PFW's main event. Radio channels are completely open and soldiers are on standby to laugh at your every driving mishap! But wear your hardhat, because the steel is about to start flying! In an explosive second, we're going to find out who gets to be the LORDS OF THE TANK!!



[MINT]
Corporal Panesh had been recuperating from the aftermath of a grisly battle. The bad news was, she'd been impaled by a ninjato. The good news was that Scorpion kept his blades nice and sharp, so the clean cuts made for some quick repairs. Thanks to modern medicine, synthetic enhancements, and... krazy glue, the Marine ought to be back in peak fighting condition in about a month or so.

The doctors did not, however, clear her for an appearance on Saturday Night Fights. And to be fair, she wouldn't have really volunteered for it either, if not for the peculiar position she's now being faced with.

Long story short, PFW made her an offer she couldn't refuse.

"This thing is -so awesome!-" Mint's been gushing over the tank for the past half hour, to the detriment of her own crash course in artillery. A whiteboard has been magnetically bound to the side of the massive behemoth AM-21 ASSERTER. Said whiteboard is chock full of diagrams and drawings illustrating the best ways to shoot a thing! ... It's just that her lecturing just keeps getting interrupted by her catching sight of yet another feature of the gargantuan battle tank.

"Oh my goodness. This is gonna be -so much fun-, Hitomi! I mean, it's no ABV, and the ECM of our opponent might be a real PITA, but the real trick is going to be for -you- to keep SA since you're not used to riding shotgun in the seat of one of these things..."

The thought that Hitomi hasn't really been keeping up with all the TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) seems to have momentarily slipped the NCO's (Non-Commissioned Officer's) mind. But only for just a moment. "... I just mean, it's not like the tank I'm used to working with, and it's kinda vanilla as tanks go, but if we can keep our eyes on the ports, it'll be fine. Just let me take the wheel first, and we can swap off if you wanna! Sound good?"

Mint waits just a moment for the response. She even leaves the whiteboard stuck to the side of the tank in her eagerness to get inside and fire up the engines. In addition to her normal-human-sized prosthetic hands, she's also wearing a mechanical knee brace and a compression girdle around her middle -- though none of those seems to be huge cause for concern as she clambers up the side of the Asserter, narrowly squeezing past the array of anti-vehicle guns and ablative armor packs, and opens up the main hatch.

"C'mon in!" she calls down to Hitomi. "You know how to shoot, so let's get familiar with the inside now!"

COMBATSYS: Mint has joined the fight here as a left henchman!

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---------------                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Mint             0/-------/-------|




                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---============                


[HITOMI]
Seated in the shade where it was cool but with a good view of the presentation. Hitomi has been feeding off of the corporal's positivity for much of the session so far. Studiously reading the simplified instruction manual between bouts where Miss Panesh tried to point out another feature of the vehicle. Another point, then an explanation delivered doesn't quite make sense and her eyes fall slowly back to pad sitting in her lap.

She'd never absorb what -all- these weapons did in a session like this, but the controls were going to be incredibly important. With a few wrong keypresses she could probably shoot ALL the wrong things. The gun would shoot if she pulled the trigger; glancing up at the monstrosity they'd be driving... I wonder which of the many guns would that be? There were multiple long and short barrels, smaller looking guns and things that looked like they were plugged in. It's all very different from the old army stuff she'd seen on television and in movies.

Her hair pulled back over one shoulder to aid her scribbling even as she's slouched over the manual. A few quick and simple notes in a vivid red; Distilling down these instructions and what she was taking away from the lecture into simple German she could understand at a glance. The affirmative 'Hmm!' and scribbling away the only sounds she's making while Mint is speaking. When it ends she's still writing away.

"...Oh, uh. Mhmm! It might be fun if we weren't being shot at. Since the other tank is called a 'Ghost' I guess we have to look twice as hard."

A brisk nod and the karateka caps' the pen and leaves it behind. Having it fall out of her pocket and roll around in a vehicle like that rolling around across all terrains at speed might even be dangerous.

There were a million questions she wanted to ask. What was SA? What was that about pita? Would it be loud if the tank got hit? Being an actual tanker or soldier was something it took years of training to do. Fortunately, that experience was something neither of these teams had mastery over and even with the most experienced team member, Hitomi would be the weak link. She'd be overjoyed if they didn't blow up too many things they weren't supposed to, annnnd settle for not wrecking the tank as well.

Standing she dusts off the lap of her pants and emerges into the sun. Jeans and sneakers, she hardly seems to be dressed for military action of any kind though she was issued a leather jacket to wear rather than her own as better protection and in lieu of having the participants wearing regulation fire-proof suits. The one thing she has done to the jacket is the Iron Cross medal pinned to otherwise plain jacket. It had supposedly brought her Grandfather luck and it was included in the last care package from home, probably for this very occasion.

As Hitomi makes her way over to stand alongside the tank she watches how Mint scales the side of the tank and takes mental notes of how to qet up there, and hopefully down again when they were finished.

"Panesh-san! Should I take the whiteboard off?"

A Million and one helpful questions that might help them win the day. Hitomi mentally forehead slaps that she chooses instead to ask about the whiteboard.

Someone else who is a part of the groundcrew can probably get that, she needs to get in there and familiarize herself with those buttons. maybe.. sticky up some of these notes.

[AKIKO]
There's more than one team here.

It's just that the other one - or at least one member of the other one - is a little more subdued than Mint's sheer excitement, so she's easy to overlook.

Akiko Hayashi has never made an appearance on Saturday Night Fights before. Honestly, she's a little unhappy with her first choice of venues - she was hoping to be able to fight herself, but she's not. Instead, she's going to be in a tank. Which she has no idea how to operate. In fact, she got the gunner spot simply by asking the SNF crew one question.

"Ah... You know I'm not even allowed to drive a car, right...?"

This is because Akiko is a rather diminutive teenager. She looks about fifteen or sixteen, is five foot one if you're generous and she's wearing her shoes, and slender. She won't be allowed to get even a probationary license for a couple years yet.

Of course, then they immediately let her use the explosives. But that's not driving, and on SNF, everyone can shoot each other with whatever they get their hands on! So it's okay.

At the moment, Akiko is sitting on the edge of the Ghost with a sheaf of papers, which she is busily reading through, and not for the first time. She is not wearing her gi because she is not going to be using any Dosekiryuu Shindoukan today, unless it's involved in slamming a shell into the firing chamber, or whatever you call it; she is instead dressed pseudo-military, with a (fake) camo tanktop and BDU-style pants. She looks uncomfortable, because she's not sure she's successfully remembered all of it. Or any of it.

She lowers it to look for her partner, not for the first time. Having someone older and presumably wiser around (she doesn't know Rust well) is a little reassuring, since apparently their opposition includes someone who actually knows about tanks. She can hear them. They sound educated!!

[RUST]
Older and wiser...? One of those things is a certainty. The other...
...
It's easy to glance over the particulars. This is one of those small things that's best not laid bare to the reader, the ugly backroom brawls with insurance agents and even a few international peacekeepers who do not like this guy being anywhere within arm's reach of live tank ammunition.
...The particulars of how such opinions have been formed over the years are best glanced over.
"I can't wait to go out on a rip with this thing!" Babbles the sort of burly but ultimately benign blathering buffoon who currently resides on the other side of the tank. A few sheets of paper fly overhead. One might even get in Akiko's face. At least he's being heard, so she can be reassured on this singular point of his presence.
This man, historically speaking, has no formal training with any sort of military hardware. He is being tasked, in a short amount of time, with knowing the ins and outs of moving this big hunk of metal which may be exactly as dangerous to everyone's well-being as if he were allowed to play with any of the weapons on the tank.
As if in flagrant violation of the military theme among the dress code here, he has his hair done up in braids again (a guy his age? Yes, really), only having removed the top jacket as he is otherwise still clad in toolbelt, shorts, undershirt, and... sandals.
Hefting himself up atop the Ghost and leaning out towards Akiko's shoulder (assuming she's not looking back up and over - if she is, she'd be looking at this guy face-to-face), and says with all sincerity in tone and cheer all over his face.
"I've never done anything like this. Sure will be exciting in with," he says with a smile.
Akiko's teammate... is likely not someone who knows about tanks...

[MINT]
A Marine going three sentences without using an acronym is a Herculean task; trying to describe how to fire the gun on a tank and/or drive it is practically impossible. In all honesty, it was amazing that Minal used as few obscure acronyms as she had was a feat in itself. But... well, if Hitomi had questions, the Marine NCO figured that she'd ask.

"Oh, um..." Mint hesitates, just at the main hatch. "Nah, leave it. I'm sure our opponents would appreciate the lesson, haha!"
In Mint's mind, the whiteboard is just bonus armor, as long as it doesn't obstruct one of the viewports.

Luckily, Mint -had- taken the time to familiarize herself with the controls inside the tank. She had also placed helmets just inside the hatch -- she picks one out and holds it up for Hitomi's perusal. "Oh, hey, you need one of these -- safety first!" An odd thing to say considering that two Taiyo High students are being commissioned to fire deadly munitions at one another, but what can you do? She lobs the helmet at Hitomi -- "Catch!" -- and quickly straps her helmet on before slipping inside.

Mint's diminutive size is a huge advantage within the cramped quarters inside a Main Battle Tank like this, and even with her recent battle injuries she has little difficulty slipping around the dials, knobs, levers and safety handles within the tank. Mint had also added a few extra cameras and displays all around the surface of the tank, providing extra visibility in the form of digital display screens, positioned to act as 'windows' for the vehicle to make up for the abysmal sight lines.

The corporal eases herself into the recumbent driver's seat, cranking the seat adjustment to line herself up with the periscope. "Hey, Hitomi?!" she calls out, her voice echoing around the claustrophobically small environs of the main battle tank. Mint can't exactly look up towards Hitomi anyway; she's tilting her head to run down the number of items on the pre-start checklist. "Don't worry about a thing! It'll be simple, promise! All you really gotta do is just remember to point the cannon, line up the digital crosshairs, and shoot when the thing starts turning red. And don't... don't press the orange button."
Mint laughs awkwardly at that, turning back to the periscope. Whatever you do, Hitomi...

"I think we're about ready to start this thing!" she calls out. And moments later, after a few seconds of beeps, boops, and warning klaxons, the turbine engine of the AM-21 Asserter thunders to life.

[HITOMI]
Catching the helmet with a clumsy juggle, only a small loss of dignity while trying to catch with both hands and also retain her notes. She was more than a little tense going into this but the grin she offers up at Panesh is an enthused one. While the other woman eases herself into the tank Hitomi carefully clambers up the same route the corporal had taken with just the one free hand.

Easing into the gunnery position she takes in all the dials, knobs and buttons and sets to quickly peeling off and pinning her primers and notes up in appropriate locations all over the station. Zoom, ammunition selection, which trigger fired which weapon mount andc what was that button for-? Pausing in her work for a curious study of the unlabelled and documented button she is suitably warned away a certain button.

"Ah.. HAI!"

A timely call for the Drivers position. Much of her station doesn't even come alive until the engines are started so instead she takes time to fuss with her helmet. She had three scopes here to look through and the helmet limited her field of view and was clamping her fringe down into her eyes. Frustrated a little Hitomi glances up into the commanders station, inspired by something she climbs up in their briefly to fish out the ear covering microphone headpiece. When her voice does pipe back into the com system it's through the command channel rather than the gunnery.

"Roger that- everything is starting to come alive."

"Panesh-san. We- have the tough heavy tank, and we know the tank we're facing is hard to detect. They might not want to face us head on, rather try to hit us where the armours weaker... is that right?"There's a hesitant pause. They both knew that the other team were probably inexperienced in their tank as well. But if someone on their ground crew had given them any kind of suggestion on how to kill a bigger tank it would probably be to hit it where the armour was thinnest and where there was a strong chance of hitting the engine itself.

"If they're as new to this as me, do you think they would know what the back-end of an ASSERTER looks like?"

COMBATSYS: Hitomi has joined the fight here as a right henchman!

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---------------                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---============                


[AKIKO]
So much for Akiko's hope that her partner was going to be any more experienced than she is at this. Listening to Rust Jr. is honestly not especially encouraging. At least, she thinks, he'll know how to drive /something/. She only knows bikes. The regular kind, not motorcycles.

She absently ducks a stray bit of paper, than reaches up and catches it before it keeps blowing past; there's a couple others that are out of her sight and reach, but she's at least collecting the ones she can. She tucks it at the back of her stack, looking serious as she slides off the tank, dropping to her feet so she can go around the other side, where she has to climb in.

This gets her right in Rust's face when he leans over. "Well, ah, do your best!" That's all that comes to her mind. She's going to be doing /her/ best too, but she's having second thoughts about this. Her father isn't going to be impressed. 'So you managed to run a piece of machinery. So what?' She can practically hear him now.

Great. Well, Akiko isn't going to turn down a challenge, anyway...

Akiko climbs up. "I think, Mister Rust, I'm about ready to go," she says, as she starts to move over to - what /is/ all this stuff? She thinks back to the manual, but it always looks a little different when you're actually messing with it. She picks up a headset, gingerly, and puts it on, adjusting it over her ears. Jamming - oh, right. And she has to run the cannon while she's got this on. It takes Akiko a bit to get things arranged to her satisfaction. She's short, compared to the average armyman, but gunner's seats tend to be tight fits so it works out. Mostly.

COMBATSYS: Akiko has joined the fight here as a right sub-henchman!

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---------------                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---============                


[RUST]
"Nice!" He allows himself out of the way of Akiko's entrance in politeness, even tipping it open with one of his legs to help her in while he lies on his back on top of the tank. Maybe he just really likes how this giant hunk of military hardware feels on his back. That, or he has a bad itch and he's trying to rub his upper back against one of the corners to deal with it.
"Yep. Guess I'd better climb at," he says aloud as he brings his feet towards the open hatch to pull the rest of himself in, but...
Given the older man's girth, it's a bit of a tight squeeze to get inside the Ghost. Thanks to that plus the toolbelt, he even gets stuck in the opening hatch for a few especially comical moments. Some squirming of his otherwise bare sandal-clad legs later, he flops right on in. The tank chassis even slightly dips under the assumed point in time he makes it through.
"Whoop. I'm great. Don't worry," he says as he is now in a collapsed heap inside a cramped space, crawling laboriously across a space meant for military officers in far greater physical condition than himself. (The World Champion, everyone.)
Fumbling his headset onto his head and squeezing himself into the space allotted for a driver, he sucks in his gut about best he can as he rests between a seat, some pedals, and who knows how many other doodads he may or may not actually understand how to operate...
At least he seems to have found whatever mechanisms power this tank on, assuming he didn't like brush it with his shoulder or some such. The engine noises of this tank are comparatively far quieter, but still not something someone would want to be subject to without proper ear protection.
"This is going to be so loud." He works up a grin despite being in a position of sheer discomfort, as he is now toying with some other buttons while the tank warms up into action. "It'll be great."
Someone's having fun already! (Maybe a little too much...)

COMBATSYS: Rust has joined the fight here as a left sub-henchman!

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---------------                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---============                


[MINT]
With luck, the Taiyo students will be having as much fun as the two giddy "adults" in their respective drivers' seats. The tactical displays and warning lights may be in different locations than the M1-based Assault Breacher model she is most familiar with, but the control mechanisms are right where they need to be, out of necessary deference to human ergonomic standards. As soon as Hitomi signals her readiness over the com system, the Marine corporal chirps out a quick, "Awesome!"

And then the girl starts nattering about strategy, forcing Mint to cross her eyes. "... Firstly, you can call me 'Mint,' Panesh-san sounds way too formal. Second off, uh... the butt looks pretty different than the business end, yeah. So, uh -- good call...?" Mint looks over at the rear-view monitor she'd installed, just out of a momentary fit of paranoia. "I'll... try and make sure I'm not backing into 'em, but I'll need you to keep an eye on the sensors too, 'cause I gotta make sure we don't bulldoze a building or something. So, uh -- go ahead and flip the Fire Control and Command Monitor switches to 'ON' and I'll get this bucket rolling!"

Hitomi's repeater monitors should show the same six views that Mint has access to -- two on each side, as well as the front and back. But in addition to the gunner's scopes, the Command Monitor will show a tactical readout -- in convenient overhead map format -- showing the compiled data from all of the ASSERTER's electro-optical, infrared, and radar sensors, showing everything that the tank can 'see' or 'hear' in one handy location. As the system powers up, a simplified graphic of the labyrinth of half-destroyed buildings comprising the PFW Battlezone will appear. While a graphic of the ASSERTER is shown -- a tank graphic with a circle around it, and a line indicating the turret facing -- the location of the GHOST is not displayed. In fact, there will be a number of anomalous patterns showing up as bright lights, or static...

Mint mashes her foot on the accelerator. The treads begin to roll, advancing the massive Main Battle Tank out of its "parking space." The giant 120mm main cannon is the most striking feature (no pun intended) of the ASSERTER, though tank aficionados will also make note of the 105mm Royal Ordnance launcher protruding from the nose of the tank; it's not intended to dole out love taps. Nor is the slide-mounted 30mm Avenger cannon, more infamously known as the gun around which the notorious A-10 "Warthog" tank-killer aircraft was built. But in the close environs of the devastated buildings, the swivelling 7.62mm anti-personnel machine guns will prove a deterrence to anyone who might think about asserting themselves against the ASSERTER.

As the tank rolls past a devastated building, the reason for the blips on the tactical display will become clear: they are the heat signatures of fires which have been set in old oil drums, repurposed once as garbage canisters, and a second time as interesting set pieces for this night's PFW brawl. Plumes of dense black smoke rise from each of the trash cans, providing visual distractions to make it even harder to spot the GHOST in the midst of the ravaged landscape of half-destroyed buildings.

A grinding noise will be heard on Hitomi's headset -- though the reason will become apparent as Mint speaks up once more. "... Makes a bit more sense now. We won't be able to just chuck artillery at them if we can't establish vis--" Mint pauses, then corrects herself: "We can't shoot what we can't see. And I don't have that fancy screen you do." Woe that the gearhead couldn't figure a means to repeat the Command Monitor down to her reclined driver's seat -- though in all honesty, it's probably safer that the driver -not- know it.

"Well, we'll be in visual soon enough. Stay sharp up there, Gunner!" she chirps out.

The ASSERTER rolls out, entering the labyrinthine landscape. The remains of two- and three-story buildings rise on either side of the tank as it keeps a steady 15mph pace -- Mint would go faster, but she's a better mechanic than a driver.

"Oh, and watch you don't swing that turret around too fast, it'll probably..."
Panesh declines to say 'It'll make you wanna hurl,' because that's just not something you say to someone who might be suffering claustrophobia in a few short minutes.
"Yeah, just take it easy, hehe."

Mint advances the ASSERTER further out into view. She knows a little about Rust, but nothing of his tank-driving skills. And Akiko... well, suffice to say, Mint has had higher priorities in the past few weeks. Priorities which she is eager to ignore for the sake of -fun!-

[RUST]
The BE-0X GHOST... what it lacks in direct firepower compared to the ASSERTER, it more than makes up with all sorts of neat doo-dads and technological advancements that make tracking and fighting against it difficult. In the hands of the properly trained, this tank could flank, outmaneuver, and destroy almost any fortified target it may yet roll up against.
Howard Rust, Jr. is not an example of a properly trained person.
Exhibit A, in what one prays in vain will be the mildest possible example of this yet, the BE-0X is already off to a backwards head-start whenever the sign comes for both teams to move. The tank now maneuvers sort of blindly across the landscape with its rear charging heedlessly into the brush, into the rubbish, and into pretty much everything imaginable.
That counts as an Exhibit B, doesn't it?
"Sorry. Not too smooth... still, kind of fun, eh?" He says moments before hitting a raised piece of concrete that doesn't immediately give under the treads. It might give someone whiplash.
Somewhere in this mess of reckless, untrained, completely incorrect navigation, the flames set to mask the heat signatures are moved. In one particularly egregious example, one such flaming barrel is sent skipping about the landscape.
It would be a false flag, but the speed the heat signature goes at seems akin to someone getting in position after spotting the ASSERTER. Could they be under fire already...?
The ruse, 99.953% guaranteed to be an accident of opportunity born of idiocy, could really only work if there is a baseline assumption of competence involved in at least half of the tank-operating duo within the GHOST.
Any opportunities Akiko may have to line up a shot are bound to be challenged by this... accomplished... driving.

[AKIKO]
Akiko takes her work - and her fighting - very seriously. She works extremely hard to be able to do what she does. She's not precisely obsessed but she's certainly dedicated to her craft, even if she wasn't able to use the first style she tried to learn really at all.

Very few of those skills, Akiko is finding out, transfer to driving tanks, especially while she's being bounced around by an overenthusiastic driver. She has to brace against anything solid a couple times, and momentarily wishes for a better-padded seat.

"We're going the wrong way!" Akiko adjusts something in her turret - there's a lot of electronics gear in there - and then corrects herself, "No, we're going the right way, we're just... pointing the wrong way?" Fortunately, she can point at least herself the right way. The turret spins.

And she spins it, pointing it not quite precisely backwards but at a slight angle, scanning. "We should point the other end forward, though, it has the heavier armour..." Akiko knows that, at least. Now where's that ASSERTER? She flips through some of the alternate views. Heat, electronics signals, some others that she's not sure exactly what they are but give her some pretty fascinating overlays. Mostly what she sees are buildings, barrels, rubble, trash, part of a tank cannon -

Hey, wait a moment. Tank cannon!

"I think I found them! Turn so we're not pointing the back at them!" Akiko got excited, and in her excitement she forgot that she can't /really/ give Rust directions. But while she's doing it, she starts messing with the gun controls, trying to drag the targetter over the slowly moving ASSERTER (compared to the GHOST anyway) before she squeezes the triggers!

Well, Akiko has not loaded the main gun, so it doesn't fire. But the coaxial guns do, spraying a sudden burst of machine gun fire down, tracking across the corner of a broken building before she gets it more under control and fires a longer burst at the front of the ASSERTER itself. Of course, the lack of a big boom makes Akiko worried about what she forgot, and figuring it out quickly she gets to work to bring the heavier gun online.

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter blocks BE-0X Ghost's Coaxial 7.60mm Machine Gun.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|--------------=                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|-------------==|===============                


[MINT]
"... Hey, Hitomi? Do you see anything up there?" calls Mint on her com system while driving past building after building of... nothingness. Sure, audio sensors are picking something up, but those are going to the Commander Monitor upstairs in the gunnery turret. And with the loud noise of the engine...
Mint frowns and turns the volume up on her com system. Maybe she just couldn't hear? Or maybe she'll have her ears blown out when the Taiyo student actually -does- speak...

The corporal frowns, having a sixth sense about such things, looks to her forward right camera just after clearing past a building. The ASSERTER'S main cannon had just cleared the building, and Minal had just managed to catch sight of a crooked plume of smoke -- a sign of something moving. "Banking right, hold on to something!" she cries out into the com system, jerking the control yoke sharply into the blast. Per Hitomi's reminder, the armor's heavier in the front, so instead of having the reactive armor of the sides wasted on such bothersome bullets, the hailstorm of machinegun fire glance off the hardened armor in front.
Unfortunately, that's -right over top of Mint's head-.
"GYAAAAA!!!" shrieks Mint, curling her metal hands over her head like that'll actually make a difference!

... The burst of gunfire passes with the ASSERTER continuing to tread forward at its leisurely 15mph, and Mint realizes... well.
"... Private Hitomi, I'm fine," she offers with a tone of forced reassurance. "... But they just revealed themselves! Return fire!"

[HITOMI]
Frowning lightly while deep in her contemplation of the readings on the monitors. She'd bothered noting what a lot of the important buttons did but no real interpretation of how to read all this information. One-two-three-four--eleven. There weren't eleven tanks waiting for them out there! There were readings out there that could be their opponent, but upon pressing her eye to the scope and zooming in to check she was finding all kinds of distressing sights. Twisted and mangled trucks, still burning fires and the like, Her only real benchmark for what a live vehicle would look like were occasional glimpses of aircraft passing overhead.

"Lots of things! But nothing scary or moving yet."

Then there was -Something- that caught her eye.

The turret traverses a little to follow a fast moving heat source that actually starts bouncing, and rolling. How big was the Ghost? Surely it can't be something that small unless it was actually far away. A collision with a piece of debris on the field sets it bouncing into the air and with that new sense of dimension and distance she immediately rights it off as a decoy. Bringing the turret back around quick just in time for the warning cry form Mint and the sudden lurch sideways in her seat.

Bracing herself with her free hand she swivels the turret to face until there's a target. That angular turret frontage helping to deflect away some of the weapons fire while. And there she was, all lit up and strobing like it was Christmas was the GHOST. Hitomi pulls the trigger at the same time as the gun is elevating and machine lurching away in a new trajectory "Mint-san!"The cry over the comms was enough to send Hitomi into a panic and reaction shot the second she could. There wasn't time to use the big guns since a shot wasn't lined up but the electric whine and faint buzz in the interior of the tank insulates against the ferocious road that is the multiple machine guns on the exterior of the tank springing to life and running hot as Hitomi walks the laser like tracer trail across the ground and toward the hull of the enemy tank.

Back at base the crews were listening in intently to the com broadcasts and the atmosphere was amped up now that battle was finally joined. The radio crackling and distorted as Hitomi's kiai of 'Toriyaaaah!!' is screamed over the band.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost dodges AM-21 Asserter's Coaxial 7.60mm Machine Fire.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|--------------=                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|-------------==|===============                


[RUST]
Howard Rust, Jr., in comparison to his co-operator, seems to be treating this as just another really fun day in his life where everyone involved is incidentally hurling real dangerous tank ammunition at one another. One explosion in the wrong place and that would be the end of everyone's days.
No pressure. Ignorance is bliss.
"Oh... sorry, so. Right. Right!" He starts to laugh. "So this has to be forth."
Now he's doing a slow donut in the tank, still driving backwards, oblivious to the dangers that comes with a more powerful tank catching clear sights of something smaller and a touch more fragile. The erratic movement that follows that somehow eludes the laser-line aiming for the hull... let's take a moment to be real here.
Any sort of maneuvering success ought to be attributed more to a man that seems less and less understanding of what he's doing as the time goes on. They may have avoided the return volley of machinegun fire, but this is not smart behavior. They remain in a direct engagement with an opponent boasting superior firepower and even experience. This kind of behavior should not be praised by any means!
Any viewers at home are probably getting a kick out of it. That might be what counts.
The GHOST disappears into cover that won't really save them for more than a few seconds if the ASSERTER trains a loaded cannon upon it, violently shaking as Rust Jr. scrapes up against the side of the ruined, hollow structure as though he can't s--
"What can you see up there?" He asks.
He's... not even looking where he is?! He's the driver...
Akiko can probably line up a shot through the windows, but it'd be narrow and difficult due to exceedingly poor positioning on the part of a navigator who seems to be only doing about a third of his job, at most.

[AKIKO]
Akiko is in a bit of a bind.

Specifically, she really needs about three more hands to do everything she wants to do. She has to load and target the main gun; she has to deal with all the fancy electronics stuff on the Ghost; she has to try to not get shot by the ASSERTER - though, okay, that's mostly Rust's job and she's not even sure what she /can/ do about it.

Also, she has to prevent herself from being thrown around if Rust decides to do some... creative maneuvering, and while there are straps to keep her in her seat, that doesn't mean she's going to be steady enough to do any of the other stuff. Priorities! She braces when Rust scrapes against the building. Fortunately, she has quite a bit of strength training to draw upon.

Akiko has gotten the gun loaded and ready to fire (it tells her so) but by this time she's pushing some buttons on the electronics systems. "I can see - wait, don't you have viewscreens?" How are you driving without being able to see? she wants to yell, but remains too polite to.

"We're wedged in next to a building. I think you'll have to move soon," Akiko says; she knows breaking bricks, she's broken enough of them. "I can't see them - no, I can, it's just..." It's really narrow. She's not sure she can fire the main gun through that.

So she doesn't.

Akiko instead triggers some of the jamming equipment she was trying to set up, and is momentarily glad that they gave her a simplified system to do so because like hell is she a trained professional. The GHOST doesn't vanish, because it doesn't have an invisibility aura, but it becomes really hard to pick out with sensors other than visual; on infrared, ghost images and weird ripples distort its image into a rough patch unsuitable for aiming, and the radar gets even worse. Looking at it is the best way to find it, and it's mostly behind a building.

Akiko proceeds to make it worse by firing grenades through the window, because they're easier to get through than the cannon. Though they're not intentionally smoke grenades, they kick up enough clouds of dust and debris to make getting that visual check on the Ghost much harder. "Okay, move!" she says to Rust. "I think I blinded them!"

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter auto-guards BE-0X Ghost's Rocket Propelled Grenade.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|--------------=                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|-------------==|===============                


[MINT]
Mint's panicked shriek caused Hitomi to fire the machine gun early -- making her later call of return fire almost completely unnecessary. However, the diminutive driver of the ASSERTER has another problem:
Feedback, caused from having her headset jacked up -way- too loud. The New Jersey native clenches her teeth as she flicks her mechanical thumb up to the volume dial, kicking it back to a more reasonable level.

"Did... you fire yet? I didn't hear nothin'...
Of course, it was hard to hear much of -anything- through that noise...

The corporal resumes pressing the vehicle forward in the direction the GHOST had been mere moments ago. It may be nimble, it may be quick, but it can't hide behind a mere candlestick -- it's gotta be -somewhere!- "... Guh, where'd it go, anyway...?" asks Minal, continuing to drive in the general direction of the GHOST. She sees empty space, empty space, and a building...

And then she sees the glint of light from an open window.
"Crap!" Minal guns the engine and pulls the wheel sharply in the opposite direction, changing heading by a hundred and twenty degrees. The powerful turbine engine has been itching for action, and it cuts a mean turn in the gravel and rubble of the devastated wasteland. Stones and rock fly into the air in a dense grey cloud -- confounding not only the electronic sensors but also the visual ports necessary for Mint to drive.

The rocket-propelled grenade ignites the cloud of gravel and stone into a maelstrom of yellow and orange, a cascading chain reaction that the inhabitants of the ASSERTER were undoubtedly glad to escape. "Whew!" notes Mint, as the now-full-speed tank thunders in its current heading, before sweeping around in a wide radius turn to meet the GHOST -- or at least, where Mint imagines the GHOST to be -- in a head-on trajectory. "If my guess is right, she's comin' straight off our nose..."

Mint has, for better or worse, not even bothered to check her digital screens to know whether they're right or wrong.

[HITOMI]
"I missed!"

Losing the target in the obscuring cloud of their own weapon smoke and thrown up debris cloud caused by the machingun gnawing away at the ground toward and ~around~ the GHOST as it made its escape. Wasting a substantial portion of the ammunition available was a kick in the guts as chaser on the heels of the knowledge she'd managed to do exactly nothing to their opponent despite having her first chance.

The girls voice is strained, on top of everything else the monitors were suddenly going haywire and showing multiple reactions and places threats had suddenly appeared. This all had to be the countermeasures of the other vehicle at work, but what she could do about it was..?

The Sudden lurch to the side sends her leaning away over the side of her seat, confounded by the sudden move and the bang and jump the tank make in response to the blast. Hitomi has no real idea what happened just then but throws herself back onto the scopes with forehead pressed to the rubber seal. If they were chasing she'd do her best to spot.

With Mint voicing her thoughts that the tank would be appearing dead ahead Hitomi still can visually confirm it on the instruments, but sometimes you just needed to go with your gut or trust in someone else.

"I am- making-it-rain."

Hitomi just can't talk like that. She made the effort but that was cringeworthy and she knew it. The ASSERTER however shoots like a pro--! "

Several tubes mounter on the sides of the chassis of the tank fountain up small clouds of gas as moderate 'poot' noises sequentially chain all-around the tank. Ballistic spheres rain down around a wide area up ahead, landing on the ground; falling into cracks in the decrepit buildings and flying through windows. The fountain of grenades has a momentary delay before the smattering of dusty explosions all across their front quakes the buildings to what is left of their foundations.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost dodges AM-21 Asserter's Power Shot.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [     ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|-------------==                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [     ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|-------------==|===============                


[RUST]
"Oh. They are? Oops. Thought they were... vents," it may be that Howard Rust, Jr. has at long last achieved at least the slightest comprehension of self-awareness about just how silly this mistake is. He starts to laugh.
There is absolutely nothing funny about this kind of mistake in a situation that could be life-and-death!! The laughter adds further unpleasant noise to the sound of weapons fire. He seems far too comfortable in such a noisy environment where every 'poot' of a shot grenade, or 'ratatatatatat' of a machine gun, or a 'kaboom' of a cannon shot could mean the end.
The laughter continues even as he's met with the mention to move. "Okay. Yep. I see it." This line should not be treated as entirely grounded in fact, as he runs his left finger across a digital read-out of would-be locations just in time for Hitomi to MAKE IT RAIN.
"That's got to be them with," he seems confident as he reads one particular blip as the grenades start to go off around him, hitting the pedal and... going forwards?! At last?
"Chaaaaarge!"
Akiko will find something wrong with this immediately. He is not moving in the direction where they're firing from, but let's get back to that in a sec. The more important detail is that through the cloud of dust, scramblers, and whatever obscuring elements occur between them, the GHOST neatly slips past the grenades as it speeds off in the direction of the ASSERTER's 9 o'clock, further and further away.
The hollowed building is pulverized under a rain of Hitomi's explosives, and much smoke is left in its wake. Was there a hit? It's hard to say, but there's something far more worrying.
Turns out the structure still held onto a not-small number of munitions?! With the collapse of the building that briefly gave cover to the stealthier tank, its contents proceed to flood about pretty much everywhere around the war-scarred dirt and scrap that make up this live entertainment display.
Could one of the GHOST operators have actually been a scheming mastermind with a great understanding of the lay of the land, all along...?
The casual observer may yet be inclined to pray that the cluttered bombs and shells were merely partially assembled, and do not contain proper explosives within. It doesn't seem like they went off in the company of other things exploding, so maybe it's safe? Even so, they're now so scattered throughout that it might yet take some time for the ASSERTER to navigate away from what may or may not now have become an unconventional minefield.
Meanwhile, the BE-0X GHOST continues on the masked war-path further away from the ASSERTER... towards a burning pile of wreckage that just happens to have a tank barrel sticking out of it, gloriously rushing forward towards absolutely nothing.
The increased distance between the two tanks - and the rough terrain following the explosive volleys between them - once again adds a new layer of challenge to Akiko's ability to do their job.
"Straight ahead!" He says, shouting with mighty enthusiasm. "Got 'em in my sights," he says. Akiko will know this to be entirely untrue based on their own previous observations, and may yet be resigned to playing a part in a modern retelling of Don Quixote.

[AKIKO]
"..."

Akiko is increasingly uncomfortable with her role in this tank-off. Not because of anything she's doing, but because Rust seems, well... perhaps not the best choice for a partner in this. (There, that was nice and diplomatic, even in her own head.)

She peeks at her own screens again, which have a slightly more useful view than Hitomi's or Mint's because she is in charge of the local jamming, but it's not fantastic. The situation is pretty chaotic for everyone, and Akiko isn't a world-class tank gunner or ECM specialist to make sense of it in a moment's glance.

Especially with all those explosives going off... "What did they /put/ in there?" she asks herself, bracing as Rust begins to accelerate. With the confused situation, it takes her a moment to realize... "Which way are we going?" She can hear the explosions but none of them seem to be hitting them; all the rattling around is from driving, not impact.

More firmly, in a few seconds: "Rust-san! We are going sideways! I mean - we're straight, but they're off to the side, I think!" Rust may be focused on something that isn't the ASSERTER, but Akiko has the right of it in that she's figured out which way the ASSERTER actually is, if not its precise distance and location.

While Rust is tearing off in the wrong direction, Akiko gets the turret pointed toward the ASSERTER. It's a hard shot at this distance, but she gently squeezes the triggers and is rewarded with an extremely loud /boom/ in her ears from the main gun. She's missed the ASSERTER itself, but has hit a towering pile of rubble that was probably once a building next to it, sending shrapnel and remarkably large pieces of debris falling and showering all across the ASSERTER - if Mint's driving isn't on point, anyway!

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter endures BE-0X Ghost's Trick Shot.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [            |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---------======                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [     ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|--------------=|===============                


[MINT]
Making it... rain? Mint's brow furrows at the turn of phrase -- it sounds a little forced, and ridiculously out of place coming from a Taiyo student who really shouldn't have the, ahem, life experiences to be aware of such a phrase.

"Just... stay on target," chides the NCO as she steers the seventy-ton tank around the lot with the carefree nature of a skate rat at a half pipe. She doesn't have any concerns at all...
Until the building freaking -explodes- right in front of her, that is. Bad memories flood over her -- explosions are, after all, a sore point for the amputee -- but she holds it together long enough to slam the brakes on the tank. "... What the hell was =in= that building..." she mumbles, squinting through the periscope through the clouds of dust and debris.

But then, even in the chaos, she can hear the higher-pitched note of the speedier tank's engine thundering past -- hard to the AM-21 ASSERTER'S left. "That speedy little..." The Marine is about to devolve into more colorful language, but she kicks the ASSERTER into reverse in an attempt to make things easier for her junior cannoneer to keep her sights locked on. "Look, don't stress it, Hitomi... that thing's gonna fall apart when we nail it!!"

So, for a brief stretch of time, the weakened rear of the tank is pointed -towards- the enemy, as the whole war machine hurtles backwards at a ginger 20 mph. It might seem like a ridiculous tactic, but the billowing clouds are preventing the larger tank from getting a sight anyway, and the tank ground crewer has a canny plan in mind. Mint calls a warning upstairs to Hitomi: "Make sure Turret Sync is switched on, 'cause this is gonna get violent!"

A J-turn is a pretty dramatic move on a car normally seen only in movies. Step 1: back up at high speed. Step 2: while judiciously steering, hit the brakes in such a fashion that the vehicle whips around in a quick 180. Step 3: Re-engage the clutch in a forward gear at the perfect time. If executed flawlessly, the vehicle will proceed with little to no loss of momentum, and will be able to accelerate to full speed in mere moments.

Thing is, the AM-21 ASSERTER is not a nimble Japanese car, or even a customized sportscar made by Hollywood stunt designers. It's a huge freaking battle tank. And when Mint hears the shots ring out from the GHOST, and starts to turn the tank sideways... well, it doesn't turn.
In fact, she was about to run smack into the pile that was called a building before. The sensor jamming is really wreaking havoc on things.

But when the pile explodes into a tornado of shrapnel, it actually -helps- the ASSERTER to some extent. The detonation rocks the tank sideways in the midst of its much-slower-than-expected J-turn; rocks and demolished rebar shower into the ablative armor on the side of the vehicle, forcibly shoving it sideways and aiding in its reversal.

... Of course, it also forces the tank up onto just -one- of its treads, leading to a rather awkward moment where Mint isn't even sure it's doing what she wants.
Two delirious seconds of instability later, gravity reasserts itself upon the ASSERTER with a loud slam.

Mint, for her part, is staring at her periscope. And when she sees the distinctive outline of the GHOST in her considerably less-obfuscated forward port, she can't help but belt out, "WOOHOOOO! That's one for the highlight reel..!"

So now the ASSERTER is hurtling towards the GHOST at a speedy 25mph and accelerating, while the GHOST's driver is hurtling at what he thinks is the ASSERTER... Good times!

[HITOMI]
Bouncing around and jostled by all these constant explosions and the high velocity crash through the building was enough to jamb her face up against the scopes enough that she sits back to rub at her forehead. Maybe this was some kind of heroic charge or they were going to ram that little tank.

Hitomi had figured the building might fall on the smaller tank when she tried firing off the screen of grenades. Like lobbing a three pointer she'd even used a sportscaster analogy for it. If they'd been trapped and had to be dug out, that would be a tko right? The fact the building exploded so had been horrifying, she was secretly hoping she'd been wrong and they weren't in there.

"hweh?"

-At whatever that was that Mint had said. Turret what? Was that a button or a lever? She has no idea what that would be or how to enable it despite looking across the board at all the buttons. Wait, what was going to get violent?

There's a muffled bang from the direction of the turret as Mint throws the tank into the hard break turn. Somewhere in amongst the pain and surprise Hitomi supposes she really should have strapped herself in, she'd started to! But not after climbing up to the commanders station. A whole lot of stuff is bouncing around and falling or flying all around the compartment just as she is. That was a pair of sunglasses and paper cups. Plenty of loose screws and tools while- CRACK as the tanker helmet glances off the wall close to her, there are at least two pens that she could see as well.

Her headset is tugged right off her head by reaching the extremes of the cord length and was clattering around some while she was pinned against the far wall with her palms pressed against it. The forces involved in the turn itself as well as the lean the tank was on it was like everything was falling down on her.

Setting a foot up on the wall she stands up and turns to grab hold of the seat, as the tank settles back she lurches forward into the chair and a whole lot of stuff all falls back to the floor for now. Back in the seat and watching the scopes she can actually see the GHOST falling ahead front and centre as she manually aligns the turret with the hull.

"Dead ahead, Awesome job Mint-san!"

Her thoughts were directed more to the driver than her words, if Mint could hear her at all it was through a comcs system a few feet distant and lying on the floor. Pulling the trigger on one of the sticks there's a pronounces building whine Before a ferocious BRRRRRRRRRRRRT as the avenger fires off what for it is a sustained burst; Five hundred 30mm rounds strobing away at the GHOST in in just five seconds.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost blocks AM-21 Asserter's 30mm Avenger Autocannon.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [              |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|---------======                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [       ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|-------------==|===============                


[RUST]
Akiko's gut instinct, internalized into however diplomatic a statment it can be, is probably the truth. This man might be the least qualified of them all.
The two of them are matched up against a team that has someone who holds a very keen idea as to how they all work. On paper, the two of them collectively are less skilled (and, uh, less physically conditioned for this sort of thing, given Jr.'s extra weight and what little room for movement there is in there).
Further on paper, the ASSERTER has some more room for error on virtue of its superior firepower and armoring. The GHOST's chances rely on continued evasiveness and guile, of which only one can be granted on merit. It is far more to Akiko's credit that the two have evaded certain destruction so far, being able to take the shots they have even with the erratic, largely blinded movement by the driver.
The differences in experience between drivers rapidly crosses that metaphorical valley of hard reality when the GHOST is in the unenviable position of being in direct sight. The GHOST's notably superior maneuvering speed - its saving grace that has made the man's choices of action work far better than deserved - cannot fully outrun the electronic targeting once it even gets a lock at all.
"Are you sure?" HE'S THE ONE THAT OUGHT TO BE SURE HE'S THE DRIVER WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM? (Also yes, Akiko is correct, she has visual confirmation of this.) "I dunno. It looks distracted," he 'reasons,' and the dictionary is going to protest the use of the word in this context, "must've confused them... I'll just go right about."
This... this bit of stupidity may be a lifesaver in his zeal to try and go around the flaming tank wreckage that now - this close - kind of does look intact to the untrained eye. It looks like one of the machines they may have gutted parts from in order to get that ASSERTER way over there into shape for the show.
Just as the GHOST of superior mobility starts to go around the footage, the turret goes off, spitting a disgusting amount of lead in a short amount of time. Much of it has to go through the gutted tank the GHOST is currently looping around courtesy of its loopy driver.
Some of those rounds strike into the less-armored behind, noisiest in the first portion of the burst but noticeably softer later.
Jr. doesn't jump at all. Oblivious? Nerves of steel? DEATH WISH?!?!
"Sorry! Too close, eh?" Too close as in 'that was close,' or 'I am too close to the imaginary hostile'? The GHOST slinks around and away, now starting to move in a direction that seems to be about... 2 o'clock from the ASSERTER?
The distance grows further between them, but for the time being both tanks are roughly in the open. If one's in firing range, so yet might be the other - now might be a great chance for Akiko to get in a solid return while her idiot driver scoots off to wherever he's going to next - there seems to be another rough patch of abandoned buildings that he just might get the tank stalled in at this rate.

[AKIKO]
Technically, Rust's extra weight is counterbalanced by Akiko's lack thereof. She's well under the height minimum to be in this thing. (So is Mint, so this isn't a one-team-only thing.)

Not that that's actually all bad. Though she does have a tendency to rattle around a little like a pea in a pod, she also isn't feeling nearly as cramped as most of the operators in the GHOST are likely to. It evens out.

"They're firing, Rust-san - "

Akiko's warning is cut off by the paired sounds of gunfire hitting their cover - the already-gutted tank frame they put out there as 'decoration', of which she has grave concerns about its actual value as armour, as well as the actual armour of the GHOST. It's so loud! She wants to scream and take cover, but what she actually does is flinch and stay in place, hopefully safely sheltered behind the armour of the turret.

At least said turret seems to be more or less intact. So do much of the systems of the GHOST, on second look; she thinks she's missing one antenna but it has extras for exactly that reason. Still, Akiko decides to let the automated systems do what they want to - cycle through a couple checks to make sure everything is still operating while running the previous programs. So the jamming doesn't clear up, but it doesn't change much either.

Meanwhile, Akiko is taking aim, after getting her near-panic under control. Rust has, as he noted, rather inadvertantly given her a good shot at the ASSERTER as it accelerates after them; it's as clear a one as she's likely to get for a while, given Rust's erratic driving and the generally broken nature of this environment.

So, tensing, Akiko pulls the triggers for the main gun, sending a shell directly at the ASSERTER chasing them! "Fire in the hole," she says, because she's heard you do that - but quietly, to not disturb Rust's driving. As a result, he's not actually likely to hear her over the noise.

The SNF crowd does, though. Thanks, microphones!

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter blocks BE-0X Ghost's 105mm L7A3 Rifled Main Gun.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                 ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|-------========                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [         ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|----------=====|===============                


[MINT]
There is hardly a sweeter sound to the gearhead than the sound of the GAU-8 Avenger going BRRRRT in the morning. "No, -you're- awesome! Great shot!" Mint may as well be shouting into a hurricane with Hitomi's headset on the floor, but it's the thought that counts!

With another moment of respite, the corporal returns to her explanation. "Turret. Sync. It keeps you and the turret pointed the same way even as I move the tank around. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it sucks..."

Still, as the BRRRT comes to a sad stop, Mint can barely make out the form of the BE-0X GHOST escaping from the midst of a tank that looks just... hauntingly similar to the AM-21 ASSERTER itself. Minal blinks -- is she seeing things? But then she realizes -- this was the reason Rust Jr had been booking over here so hard a few moments earlier. "Okay, Private, we're in hot pursuit -- keep up the great work!"

Mint works on tanks, all day, every day. Unfortunately, Gunnery Sergeants tend to frown when their machines come back from a test drive in worse shape than they'd entered the repair shop, limiting the gearhead's ambitions to put them through their paces. Accordingly, when she -does- get to drive... well, the repair technician is a bit more prone to push the tank harder than her MOS-1372 ABV Operator buddies might. Which is why she's leaning on the throttle full-tilt as if this were a seventy-pound go-kart instead of a seventy-ton death-dealing war machine.

When she sees the GHOST pulling off at full tilt in another direction, she starts to steer towards it -- but then she hears it.
The sound of not a grenade launcher, but the boom of a -massive cannon-.
Mint jerks the control yoke hard to the left, the turret of the war machine wobbling from the sudden turn. The angled armor lives through its purpose, embedded charges exploding as soon as the pointed tip of the shell deflects off the angled side of the ASSERTER; a moment later, the fuses within the armor packs explode, concussing the live ammunition in such a fashion as to mitigate the forward momentum and deter penetration into the body of the tank. It's a trick that only works once in that particular location -- the detonation leaves its deadly signature in the form of a nasty scar along the forward right side armor packs.

The tank itself is rocked sideways, as well, teetering up onto its left track for a moment before slamming back down. "I got it, I got it!" shouts back Mint, jerking the control yoke back to the right and steering the tank back on course.

... Or is she ? "Crap, they're -quick-..." notes Mint, as she steers around the burning (asserted?) wreckage and attempts to close in upon the GHOST. "They're ducking into those buildings. They can see and hear us, but my monitors aren't showing squat..."

Minal throttles the tank back to 15 mph, not wanting to charge headlong into a trap. But she's also staying close to the left side of the aisle, making it a bit easier for Hitomi to check the right side without necessarily having to get both in view at once. Tactics!

[HITOMI]
The flinch is real at yet another explosion rocking the tank. Hitomi was feeling the pressure and starting to sweat; she had to rise to the challenge and do better. Use everything available, If their opponent was too nimble to strike then she'd have to do something about that. Mint was doing her best so she had to help as best she could. Right, there was one of the gadgets here for this. A glance to her notes, which are miraculously near still in place and she starts pushing buttons, primed... engine reports, go. Green light!!

On the exterior of the tank a round drum like tyre the high pitches revving of engine emanating from the device before it detaches from the speeding tank and hits the ground with a slight hang and speed wobble, spikes suddenly emerging as the tire went all-terrain.

Then it peels away like the asserter was standing still, a grinding but still explosve turn of speed. Seventy- eighty miles an hour, the device has no real need to cater to performance standards for what mere humans can handle. It screams down the road and even starts making the turn to follow the GHOST and at speeds that will quickly pass it; The fly-by-wire drone speeding leaning into turns and shoots past the ghost where it fragments anti-climactically and mith a modest bang.

The metal spokes of the wheel expanding into a set of Metallic Jacks scattering out in the path of the Ghost. Czech hedgehogs that are just tall enough to get wedged in under a tank.

They weren't the only one fighting here; All the people who carefully designed and built as well as those who maintained this tank. The Asserter was fighting too, right along with them and probably just as frustrated as Hitomi was, the ASSERTER wanted to win and was supporting them. On the exterior of the hull the hex shaped charges that had so earlier saved them from a direct hit began to move, shuffling around on the turret surface with military precision the tiny bots move in closer to form an umbrella of cover over as much of the gap in defense as possible.

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter successfully hits BE-0X Ghost with Rolling Czech Hedgehog.
- Power hit! -

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                   ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----===========                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                 ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|----------=====|===============                


[RUST]
"I just had a thought," oh no, this is not good, when one Howard Rust, Jr. says this what he may yet be spewing could be the exact opposite of what a 'thought' should entail, "so we're... smaller, and they got more guns to shoot, the last thing they'd expect is if w--"
The GHOST turns sharply into the path of the oncoming Hedgehog, away from cover, as if an ill-timed thought as to how to best throw off expectations to where they're going next. (Isn't Rust Jr. a ninja? Maybe it is fair to give him the benefit of the doubt sometimes in manners of trickery.) This is probably the best possible outcome for their opponents - sheer ignorance, or maybe some sort of deeply-ingrained hillbilly-like instinct on part of the driver. (Isn't Rust Jr. an Albertan? Some would think that particular stereotype might yet apply.)
The results are predictable, with that flash of light underneath the right set of treads and the resulting trauma to the belt, to say nothing of the little explosive impact just from /driving on top of the damn thing/.
"WHOOOOAAAAaaaahaha," violently rocking where he is wedged, the shock of surprise melts into pained laughter, "my ribs aren't happy, let me tell you. Thought the radar thing was a bird coming wh--"
There's no time to be 'told' anything, as the GHOST is violently rocked - moreso as it goes over an elevated patch of dirt that gets it angled like it might capsize. There might even be significant damage to one of the tank treads now - significant enough to hamper the mobility advantage it holds over the ASSERTER.
Delicate instruments may be skewed, figures thrown off, an electronic lock possibly lost upon the pursuing tank - but at this point it's up to the skills and gut instincts of Akiko to sort out.
They're both complete novices. Who knows what one of them might do if cornered...?!

[AKIKO]
Akiko spots the drone on sensors, but she doesn't know what it is. She's never seen anything like it before and doesn't have any intuition as to what it might be.

"Rust-san, it's - " It's an explosive that he's going to drive over, apparently. That wouldn't have been Akiko's first choice - it looked like it was going to miss! Akiko practically bounces out of her seat, but grabs desperately for the control panels to steady herself. Fortunately, she does not grab the actual /controls/ when she does that.

The GHOST grinds menacingly as it threatens to capsize, rolling over the caltrop things that Akiko didn't see at all. Well, she sees them now, mostly visually; on radar they kind of blend in with the rocks and rubble, when it resolves that finely at all. "Gah..."

Akiko can't get a clear shot. She tries, several times, and even squeezes the trigger once - but apparently something's jammed in the gun. She runs the belt backwards slightly, then forwards, trying to unjam it - which works, but slows down her response enough that there is no immediate return fire. Did the ASSERTER manage to damage the GHOST enough that it can't fight? Or is she secretly planning something terribly vicious?

Somewhere along the line, the electronic countermeasures came back online. Akiko focuses on those while she's not shooting. You never know, it might help - though given the GHOST is pretty clearly visible, maybe not.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost gains composure.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                   ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----===========                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [         ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|------------===|===============                


[MINT]
The Czech Hedgehog does a great job of immobilizing the BE-0X GHOST, messing up its treads and neutralizing its speedy evasions. Mint's reclined position in the fore of the tank doesn't really allow her the luxury of a proper cheer, but she does flash a bare-toothed grin to no one in particular. Well, maybe the periscope can appreciate it. "That sounded like a success! Good thinking, Private!"

Uuuuuuunfortunately, the AM-21 ASSERTER is also quite a bit heavier than the ghost. Objects at rest want to stay at rest, and objects in motion...

"Hey, Private? Can you turn the tank barrel away for a moment?" The corporal's eyes scanning first to one side of the GHOST, and then the other, as the ASSERTER continues hurtling bodily towards it. On one side of the GHOST is the remains of a three-story building, cut down in its prime to a 20-foot-tall half-building. On the other is a short, stocky, one-story building that had been decimated by mortar fire. The ASSERTER hasn't entered this alley yet, but the thundering behemoth will probably be hitting it soon.

Especially because Mint... is starting to laugh a bit. A lever is shifted. A foot is slammed to the floor. And the exact angle of the front surface of the tank is about to become a geometric factor.

"RAMMING SPEED!"
Mint always wanted to say that.

[HITOMI]
Having guided the device in by monitor Hitomi has no idea if it worked at all when the Ghost suddenly turns in and over the device. The screen flares to static and black as the feed cuts out and the PIP window vanishing from the scope screen and a green light on the dash turning out.

A moment of brief sadness that she'd gotten that device destroyed by not reacting quickly enough and then Mint-san voice echoes from the com system where it lays. Turn the turret away?

What was Mint planning on?

The rumble as the engine increases in power and pitch sends Hitomi scurrying to comply. She grabs the helmet off the ground and wedges it onto her head at the same time she's fumbling with the harness and pressing a button to rotate the turret one way.

"Roger, it's at: -- 315 degrees."

Reading the HUD info aloud. If by some chance they missed the 'ramming attack' then passing by with the Ghost on their left would mean Hitomi could resume tracking easily enough.

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter successfully hits BE-0X Ghost with Strong Kick.
- Power hit! -

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                 ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|--=============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                       ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|------------===|===============                


[RUST]
WHAM.
It's not CRUNCH. But it is WHAM. The GHOST seems to be trying to make the most of its poor positining - a backwards retreat, for certain - angling more to its left where the treads are more intact.
It fails to out-run the ASSERTER, unable to fully accelerate from its current stop, as the GHOST now finds itself being pushed along like a BULLDOZER while the left flank bangs into pretty much everything along the way. Some of the three-story building collapses down atop it, disconcertingly loud noises resounding from the impact against the hull, the front...
"Hang on, I think we're getting away," says Rust Jr., tongue pressed up against his face as he... 'expertly' goes over the read-outs of a certain tank being right on top of him, SOMETHING HE COULD TELL IF HE WERE PAYING ATTENTION TO THE OBSCURED FRONT PORT, "we're picking up speed," more because it is currently in the process of being pushed along by the ASSERTER.
"I think we're gonna make it!" He cheers prematurely as another pile of rubble plows into it courtesy of the ASSERTER doing its namesake, pumping a fist into the air in undeserved celebration while he violently rocks about in his seat. "I'm gonna keep going with," by which one hopes he means 'I'm just going to let us get carried along' because that is exactly what's going on.
It's a miracle the GHOST hasn't been flipped over like a burger patty, given the weakness in mass and now leverage against this thing. But... there's one silver lining.
The ASSERTER's turret is facing the wrong way. It's... not inconceivable that the smaller turret of the GHOST might be able to swing towards the ASSERTER and fire point-blank, or very close to it.
This would put everyone on both tanks in grave danger - there might even be outside screaming by the trained soldiers overlooking this saying what not to do in this situation, the amusement of the man's exuberance and incompetence at last giving ground to fears that this fun might turn truly deadly off of one bad judgment call done in the heat of the moment.
With luck, Jr. might do something just stupid enough that gives him the gumption to break away - Akiko may have some difficult calls to make in regards to a situation that is not her fault.

[AKIKO]
Akiko has just managed to get everything working in more or less tip-top shape again (as tip-top as a tank in combat can be, anyway) when she realizes that's a very large, very blatant 'incoming' warning. "Rust-san!" she calls, but it's a little too late, especially with the cockeyed way the GHOST is maneuvering in the first place.

It's definitely a WHAM.

Akiko nearly falls over out of her seat, and absolutely would if there weren't straps holding her in place. As is she fetches up against them, feeling them dig in in a way that she finds both highly unpleasant and vaguely reassuring, because it's something she understands. She's /used/ to being thrown around, after all. It makes it feel more like real combat... though the bangs and thuds and assorted other mechanical noises are making that /very/ clear to her.

To her credit, she doesn't yell. This is because she has her jaw clamped closed, but it still counts.

Akiko rights herself, adjusting the headset that nearly came off at the same time. "Rust-san!" she yells. "We are not driving that way! They're pushing us! Do - " Oh. /Oh/. Well, she has an option. "When I say 'go'," she says, "please accelerate as fast as you can!" Rust has proven himself good at accelerating at the wrong times. Now the question is, can he do it at the right time?

But Akiko has something to do first. She triggers a system she hasn't before, and from each corner of the tank drops a smoke emitter. The entire area is rapidly shrouded in smoke, making it impossible to see much besides the end of your nose, and at the same time Akiko has adjusted the jamming, bringing it back to full intensity. It's hard to see much at all using any method!

"Okay, go!" she calls down. "Left track first!" Because that, hopefully, should spin them off the ASSERTER. She waits for Rust to get going before she triggers the other surprise; a cluster of mines, because the GHOST is apparently more aggressive about its littering than the jack-like structures the ASSERTER uses. A couple spout more smoke, but the rest are blasting, suitable to take treads off though probably not to go straight through the underbody armour - SNF made sure of that.

Oh yeah, spoiler, the GHOST has a mini-minelayer. Surprise!

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter Toughs Out BE-0X Ghost's Some Interference Expected!!
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|------------===|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                       ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----------=====                


[MINT]
There is one pretty significant aspect of this plan that Mint had not anticipated. Sure, this might have been a great plan when she thought it up. It was a great plan when she ran a simulation on the similarly-constructed M1 Abrams-based vehicles she works on. The structural loads all passed the appropriate checks without any red flags.

WHAM!
But it's totally different when the only thing separating Mint's combat boots from the hardened hull of the GHOST is the hardened hull of the ASSERTER. The tiniest Marine finds herself slammed forward from the impact, her knees and hips straining from the not-insignificant shock of all of the contents of the AM-21 being shifted forward.

Also, she's damn glad she put a helmet on, because its crown bonks against a bulkhead. "NNNRGH...!"

But that's okay, because: mission accomplished! Their tank is now asserting authority over the other team's! Mint can't see anything but their rear. Which... well, it's good she doesn't like tanks in -that- way.

"... Well..." starts Mint, trying to look on the bright side of her instant headache, "We made it! And as long as they don't try anything crazy..."
Unfortunately, they -do- try something crazy in that Mint's forward port starts filling with inky blackness, so the world will have to live without the knowledge of what she would've said next. "Dangit!"

However, Mint also takes -extreme risks- in combat. That's how she ended up with a busted knee and a ninjato in her abdomen. And she assesses that if smoke bombs are dropped, that the inhabitants of the GHOST are up to something. "Private!" she barks, jamming the control arm hard to the right. "Aim just right of our nose!"

It's at that moment that the GHOST breaks away, loosing its deadly payload onto the ground just in front of them, unbeknownst to either Mint, Hitomi, or the ASSERTER's hopelessly-confounded sensor suite.

But Mint, see, is already banking the tank hard to the right, steering the tank into a powerslide. From overhead, the GHOST and the ASSERTER would make a most terrific display of accidental coordination as both remain parallel through the maneuver...

But this speaks little of the array of mines that had been dropped, right? Yeah, those.

Boom-boom-KRACKA THOOM! Some explosions happen before the others, sure... but the surprise mines don't all land where they were aimed. Some managed to sneak between the two treads, forcing Mint to clamp her jaw tightly shut as the series of detonations forces a shudder through the skidding tank subframes. But many of the mines were effectively -kicked- by the left tread mechanisms, shoved away at 30mph, as their detonation explodes at a much safer distance from the ASSERTER.

Woe be to the folks that want to drive through this alleyway afterwards, though -- harsh chasms have been carved into the dirt in the wake of the attack.

And still the ASSERTER thunders onward, keeping the GHOST from gaining too much of a lead on them..! Though its treads are still shuddering from the severe lateral stress. Could Mint's simulations have failed to account for -all- of the maneuvers she's forcing the ASSERTER into? Or, worse... could she be battering her poor Taiyo High gunner into submission in the process? Gasp!

[HITOMI]
Hitomi is treated to a first class case of turbulence and was being wildly thrown around in her seat. How strapped in and (thankful to be so) she has some thoughts on what it might be like to be inside a maraca. The over the shoulder rig was an emergency measure since it would usually impede her reaching and leaning into the console but Boy was she glad it was there.

This close to the GHOST there were all kinds of weird anomalies playing across her monitors. Only just now does she notice the one screen which seems to be now displaying a soap opera in what sounds like Spanish?

"Ahm.. Roger!"

Pressing her eye to the glass scope she begins to rotate the turret back around to the front of the tank, and as the ASSERTER rolls out of the smoke her fisheye view of the world becomes a lot clearer, as does the trail of dust the GHOST is leaving in its wake. So she continues to traverse around to bring them into firing solution. The crosshairs reticule seems pretty sophisticated and even here there a laser supposedly to measure distance that's reporting the range to target as '1d11 melon.' The electronic warfare interference stuff in that other tank must be incredible.

"Mint-san! Please halt the tank. Firing the main gun in five seconds."

She lines up a shot right at the turret of the retreating tank. But.. there were real people in there. Lowering the sight just a little she aims deliberately for the chassis. Having never had a real good look at the tank itself she can but hope she's aiming for their engine and not a crew compartment.

"Two!- Firing!"

On the beat of Zero the tank roars with enough force to rock it and enough to seriously kill some forward momentum even if they were moving.

The huge main gun finally employed.

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter successfully hits BE-0X Ghost with 120mm Smoothbore Main Gun.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|--------=======|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----------=====                


[RUST]
"Aye ayyeeeee!" The turbulence of being pushed along sees one idiot ninja(?)'s gut get pushed into the controls for another feeling of being sandwiched. He near falls out of his seat when he makes that hard turn on the left track.
The GHOST's suspension suffers a nasty shock when it comes within moments of getting flipped, the right side getting another violent rocking as the treads of the ASSERTER give it another bludgeoning (rather than a compressing - thank goodness for that) to see it spin a good half-circle en-route to whatever other direction that sees them remain parallel with one another.
Pretty much exactly where Mint over there would want.
Jr. whoops again as the adrenaline fails to subside as much as his neurons appear to fail to fire in recognizing what level of danger they were just in - still in, in fact.
"You sure you don't want a try?" He asks. "When's the next time someone's going to let you drive one of these?"
Even now, this appears to have been nothing but entertainment for him. This may or may not change as the ASSERTER finds itself in prime position to blast a nice, big hole in this thing.
On the plus side, now that they're back on somewhat more even terrain, the damage to the treads on the right side are a little less of a concern - only a little less. It could be a game-ender if Jr. decides to go on a rip into a landmine or a hill of rubble or something that seems almost an inevitability as long as he's driving this hunk of metal.
His eyes go back to the read-outs - many as there are where he sits - and he seems intrigued. That or he's interested in a bird flying overhead.
"Huh. They're stopping, over in," he mouths off a number or two that suggests he might now be properly reading something he has shown zero knowledge nor aptitude in.
The main gun is pointed towards their behind. Something compels the driver to turn sharply to the left - exposing the backside, but also seemingly rounding a corner with a tall abandoned building.
BOOM.
Sparks fly on the inside of the tank. All sorts of obscure warnings go off. A few monitors here and there go offline as their power sources are ruptured. The tank is once again nearly thrown off-balance.
It might be hard to notice given the violent rocking both occupants will certainly experience, but it looks like that Jr. just headbutted one of the ECM displays. Laughing can be heard over warning klaxons.
"Yep. That's a hit." No one in their right mind should be cheering! He looks over his shoulder, nostrils flaring. "Ahh. Nope, don't think we got a leak--"
Actual caution?!
Even with the ASSERTER stopping, the two tanks are close to one another. One such structure, within reach of the GHOST's main cannon if it swivels into it, seems unsteady and ready to collapse over.
Between the damage to the GHOST, the direction it's going around potential cover, and how much time (or not!) Akiko might have to turn the cannon to fire, there isn't a great window of opportunity to act back.
It is sheer providence, given how well the shot was lined up, that the engine isn't completely shot into the cabin in a bunch of tiny flaming pieces (among other violent and deadly outcomes that could have resulted).

[AKIKO]
This is not good.

Akiko deployed the mines and smoke in an attempt to get away - or, more accurately, let Rust get away, because she's not driving. But the GHOST is not doing as well as she'd hoped; she can feel the change in how it handles through her feet. And they're still chasing, if perhaps slightly behind - but is that going to last if the treads are damaged?

"I don't want to switch /now/," Akiko calls back, leaving out the unsaid 'are you crazy?' She really, really doesn't. Maybe if she had time to acclimatize, but a hot swap in a firing zone, with Rust not knowing how to run the ECM and her barely having an idea of how to steer a tank? Nope.

Plus, she didn't read the whole driving part of the manual. She ran out of time.

"I think we're going to - " Whatever else Akiko was going to say is lost in the hellacious sound of the ASSERTER's very large main cannon firing, and the sudden impact. If Akiko thought she was being knocked around before, this is worse. She manages to avoid slamming into anything, but she does it by sliding down in her seat and pressing her legs and feet down and in; she manages to hold /herself/ steady, but not the turret around her.

When she slides back up - first, she's a little nauseous from being thrown around like that. It's different when you, personally, are thrown than when a vehicle bounces and bucks around you, she's finding. She doesn't like being in a tank. She will be very happy when she's on solid ground again, or in a car that is being driven by someone /normal/ and also isn't under fire.

Second, she's getting a lot more errors than she was before. The GHOST might have some mighty ECM gear, but when it actually starts taking a pounding that just means it has more things to break; even if the odds aren't more likely that any one item is going to go offline or throw up an error, there's just so many more of them that she can't help but see them.

At least she still has her screens, most of them. She also still has the gun sights, and she checks to see if she can make a shot back. It's a little awkward.

While rotating the turret, Akiko brushes up against the rubble. This gives her an idea; swinging the turret away from it, she brings it sharply toward the pile of debris. If she was dizzy before, this only makes it worse, but it does give her a shower of chunky stone that falls behind the GHOST, rendering it difficult but not impossible to follow - it might cause underbody damage, though.

There's also some explosives in the mix. She didn't put them there; that half-ruined building was one of the ones holding pyrotechnics for the field, but it means there is now also loose munitions out and about and a threateningly-probably-explosive rubble pile strewed all over behind the GHOST. Hopefully Rust can get it moving again, or Akiko is going to feel really dumb.

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter dodges BE-0X Ghost's Random Weapon.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|--------=======|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                               ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----------=====                


[MINT]
Mint was told to halt the tank.
A Taiyo student with a field commissioned rank had just given the NCO an order.
Minal Panesh bristled, but the fact remained that the person sitting in the gunnery/commander seat was the one with ultimate visibility and awareness of what's going on outside the tank; rank doesn't really matter when the higher-ranked official has the worse view. "Roger that..." she responds, trying (and failing) to avoid sounding glum.

The tank had come to a complete halt, a cloud of dust blocking Mint's vision but leaving Hitomi's intact. The ASSERTER shuddered as it lobbed a 120mm smoothbore round at the fleeing GHOST -- slamming into the armor with a shower of shrapnel. It's a gruesome sight, and yet, it's one Mint can wholly appreciate. "Wahaha, check you out! Nice shot, Private!"

Once the shot is fired, Minal kicks the ASSERTER into motion again. She doesn't max out the speed like last time though; given that the GHOST looked like it was about to careen around a corner just before it was hit, she's exercising caution for now.

That gives the Corporal the opportunity to see that tank barrel swinging around with a menacing gesture. "Uh-oh..." comments Mint, reflexively shifting the larger tank's heading to the right.

The new position appears to be an improvement, as a hailstorm of pulverized concrete and rebar is sprayed out in the wake of the cautious ASSERTER's path. Orange and red explosions pepper the space it occupied just a moment prior, ash and cinders glancing off the reactive armor packs along the broadside of the ASSERTER's armor.

"What's it look like up there, Private? Are they still moving?" ... It would seem Mint's actually steered the ASSERTER -past- the GHOST for the moment, in her moment of panic...

[HITOMI]
it was with a curious amount of relief that she'd managed to land a hit and the dawning amount of panic at the rising trail of smoke that clung to the hull of the smaller tank. That shot might've damaged things internally or else the damaged armour plates themselves were sending up all that smoke.

"A hit, but they aren't stopping."

Mint takes the cue to accelerate back into hot pursuit without a moment more respite for the GHOST or time to rest for the ASSERTER. The thump as something glances off the exterior of the tank almost goes without notice. A faint chime and rolling then a clunk as an empty shell was dislodged from the main gun and the auto feed rolls the next round into the chamber. Everything both tanks did resulted in bangs and thumps, the thrumming of the engine and impassioned Spanish filled the turret.

As the Asserter rolls in to pursue the sudden flaw in how tight the quarters were quickly occurs to Hitomi. She can't turn the turret at all to follow without getting it tangled in the same debris. As Mint requests an update on whether or not their opponents were still moving. The response contains gusting wind noise over the background and the growl of her own engines.

"Yes, please continue. and make a HARD right at the next corner."

Hair streaming in the wind the karateka is visibly outside of the safety of the turret and watching the Ghost with her own two eyes, rather than the scopes and monitors. Pulling a lever beside the turret a frame corkscrews around and drags the .50 calibre machine gun up ready position. Shoulder tucked in under the stock she tries lining up a shot and plinking away at the already open and damaged armour trying to get at the vitals beneath. Now there's a breach she's in with a shot.

The whole time she's keeping up a constant stream of chatter punctuated by bouts of firing, all about where the Ghost is and what it's trying to do. Tattling which negates millions of dollars of state of the art countermeasure systems.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost dodges AM-21 Asserter's Light Kick.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|--------=======|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                               ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----------=====                


[RUST]
Someone in Akiko's headset network mouths a thank you, a momentary lapse in protocol for when it is or isn't kosher to speak on the communications between teams. The people overseeing the tank duel seem particularly invested in the idea of not letting that man directly handle the weapons... with the way he drives, that might infer a number of good reasons why.
One of the more noteworthy downsides with this man's amateur navigation ability is in how he appears to be always moving at the fastest speed the tank can manage virtually the whole time the GHOST has been in movement. It has made the opposing gunner's job far easier in leading shots, and more often than not put Akiko's efforts in terrible position for return volleys between the inexperience of these two civilians.
"Take it easy," he speaks up far too calmly in ignorance of these facts. Their back armor is shot, paneling compacted, stripped, singed, making any further solid hits against that part of the tank a deadly proposition. Their ECM readouts, partially damaged and not having even been used completely to their fullest due to the idiot in charge of reading much of the navigation readouts not being competent at their job, turns to face Akiko as one of his sandal-clad feed lets go of the gas. Unexpectedly, one of the more predictable factors of his driving that has been exploited... ceases, as the GHOST starts drifting off to the left as he twists his body to face the gunner.
The oncoming .50 caliber rounds glance off the side noisily in the nearest miss of a weak spot that might have ended the battle right there, having thrown off Hitomi's aim. As she has requested her driver to make a hard right, it would seem the two tanks stand to be retreating from one another.
He smiles, where he has no grounds to, in a frightening situation that is a good reflection of the life-or-death stresses of battle in war-torn countries across the globe. This is real fire being exchanged between tanks! Each one of them is one bullet or explosion away from a closed-casket funeral, if anything goes wrong - or even right.
"You'll be all right," bold words given her rattling and whiplash, not to mention what he's gone through thanks to being just a bit too large to comfortably fit in here, "just take a deep breath."
What of the ECM readouts currently survive, should pinpoint where the ASSERTER is rolling. Thanks to the inventive turret play in clearing out some rubble, and the slower pace the GHOST now moves until whatever act of stupidity graces this aging man's fancy, Akiko might have a clear shot - could the ASSERTER run away from a strong volley?
"Last thing you want," he adds as he in fact does that by not even looking where he's driving and this will no doubt lead to them going over some sort of cartoonishly huge banana peel or something equally stupid, "is to look back. Look back, think you could've enjoyed something you'll never see again."

[AKIKO]
Akiko either doesn't hear the muted thank-you or pretends she doesn't. With her it's hard to tell; she's serious enough and polite enough that she probably would have let it pass without comment. Probably.

"I'm fine, Rust-san," Akiko says, too fast. She is not exactly super fine! Their tank isn't doing well and they're in danger of losing, to say nothing about the /actual/ danger that any event like this puts her in; fighter or no, she doesn't exactly feel skilled enough to take on tanks yet (for one, how would she pick it up?) and as a corollary she's still kind of worried about getting shot by one! "It is definitely an experience!" And could you please look at the road?! Or whatever it counts as.

At least things are still sort of working. They're not getting /worse/, anyway, despite the loud rattling sound; that didn't appear to do much damage to anything that wasn't already damaged enough that she stopped depending on it.

Akiko tries to force a smile at Rust, but she only spares him a few moments before she's back to work. Is - is that someone sticking their head out of the ASSERTER? She can't tell if that's cheating or genius. You can't blind eyes with this gear (well, you can; a smoke grenade would do it but Akiko has used a lot of them up already).

It never occurs to Akiko to shoot at Hitomi. Or anywhere near Hitomi, in fact; the sheer fact that she can see her means that that whole area just became a no-shoot zone. When Akiko pulls the turret around and begins to fire, she's aiming much lower, near the body and treads; she's using the coaxial gun again (half because its constant firing sound means she can't hear Rust) but with different ammunition, armour-piercing. If she can damage the treads, she thinks, they'll be on more even ground again, right? She needs the comparative mobility back!

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter endures BE-0X Ghost's 7.60mm Armor Penetrating.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                          |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|----===========|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                  |||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|--------=======                


[MINT]
Mint is surrounded by heavy assault vehicles as part of her day-to-day life. She knows how tough the machines are, and she knows what they're capable of handling. The tanks are tough -- if it weren't, the BE-0X GHOST would be a scrap heap by now, and the AM-21 ASSERTER would certainly not be rolling forward like it is, rounding the corner according to Hitomi's directions.

She also knows that inside said vehicles are flesh-and-blood fighters, and what -they- are capable of handling. It becomes more obvious to Mint when she hears wind whipping through the mic of Hitomi's comms system that the Taiyo teen has chosen to forego some of the protections afforded by the massive track-driven arsenal in order to comply with her request for more information. Sure, the machinegun turret is defended by armor plates, positioned to deflect the worst of the shrapnel away from its considerably more tender operator, but...
"Oh, geez -- be careful up there, Private!"

Thanks to Hitomi's guidance -- offered in snippets punctuated by sporadic bursts of machine-gun fire -- the corporal is able to direct the ASSERTER away from the other tank. She would -prefer- to be able to see her target, electronically or otherwise, but thanks to Hitomi's guidance, Mint is able to see the relatively clear spot in the midst of the ex-urban landscape. The corporal had no illusions that the tank didn't have the power to plow right through a building, but that comes with the risk of incurring delay as the treads get lifted off the ground. That might have been a small annoyance, but luckily she doesn't have to worry about it as the 70-ton ASSERTER carves a donut into the midst of the clearing. Thus, there are a few seconds for Rust to play the fatherly role to Akiko before the ASSERTER straightens up, building speed for another rushing pass.
Mint grins as the GHOST comes into view once more on her periscope.
And then the turret swings close -- Mint knows what that =could= mean -- and Hitomi's still out and exposed. "Hitomi, get down, they're gonna fire the --"

At just that moment, the front of the ASSERTER is riddled with armor-penetrating rounds. It's armored pretty heavily, but the wounds to the thick skin are still pretty significant; smoking wounds ruin the identity of the formerly smooth slabs of metal, ravaging it into a pitted, cratered mess. The treads are not immune from attack either: the rounds pierce straight through, though their effect is not immediately obvious...

"GAH!" So Mint was wrong about guessing that they'd fire the main cannon -- this is a fight between fighters, not a battle to the death like she was trained for. Oops. But still -- the periscope is cracked beyond usability, the cracked glass thoroughly unsuitable as a transparent surface.

"I'm driving blind down here, Hitomi -- tell me which way to steer so I can -ram- these guys!"

That odd vibration, and the pistons that are wobbling and smoking on the tank's left tread machinery, though -- that's starting to get a little worrisome...!

[HITOMI]
Weaving around in the open turret hatch as the Asserter swings around in an earth churning and cobblestone grinding Donut. The machine wallows just a little but accelerates back into stride though the new metallic clacking and screeching noises were a little concerning. Likewise the bullets ratting and bouncing around against the hull just now had also been, enough so to cause Hitomi to turtle down inside the turret

"As Mint announces her intent to ram once again Hitomi attempts to size up the distance and how the Ghost is moving. Speeding as fast as it did it was usually hard to catch, but if it kept moving at that pace then there were some corners it just wouldn't be able to take. And she had a pretty good view of the roadways as they existed. The buildings weren't too much of an impediment to visibility being as ragged as they were.

"Mint-san, please come to a course -- heading 142 degrees."

It was a route that didn't -specifically- end in a roadway so much as a most of a pedestrian overbridge, nowhere near wide enough for the Asserter in her entirety nor did it look like it'd support this kind of weight for long.

"We're on target, Mint san! There will be a slight drop of no more than about eight feet. Please continue on straight."

If the Ghost continued to try and make good on its escape at those kinds of speeds, they might wind up dead ahead by the time they reached the next T junction. They'd have to slow to try and make that turn while the whole time a much larger tank is aiming to T-bone the smaller.

Hitomi reaching across to the underside of the hatch pulls it up and over as they draw closer, until she's just peeking out and wishing to empower the Asserter to go, run even faster. Now at such a level she notices the little joystick she gives an experimental prod to note one of the weapon mounts moving in sync with. Yoshi! She still had an option left to be firing as they engaged in this crazed charge.

The Avenger twitches to life and wobbles with speed and bouncing related movement imparted into it by the user. If she fired this at close enough range into their engine bits. Surely that'd stop the Ghost!

"Okay, here we go! ...Chaaaarge!"

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter successfully hits BE-0X Ghost with Vengeance.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                           ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|-------========                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                              |||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|--------=======                


[RUST]
The loud gunfire that drowns out Jr.'s babbling may yet be another important clue about his standing with Akiko he conveniently glances over in the name of doing whatever it is he does that allows him to neatly sidestep nomination for the Darwin Awards on a daily basis.
(Maybe he's been disqualified from them for doping? That has to be a thing.)
"Yep!" He continues off a point that is unimportant to recap. "Lots of bad stuff can happen if you live looking off to the sid--"
BOOM! The tank's left-hand side starts to compress and buckle under the bulk of a larger tank that, given the slope and leftover momentum, would seem poised to just crunch the smaller tank like a monster truck were it not for the GHOST's own structural design to resist such a thing.
Not that it looks like it would, given it is now being violently dragged along down the street sideways with sparks flying everywhere from skidding - to say nothing of the live sparks from damaged and ruptured electronics and who knows what else.
"Orrrr it could if you don't," he finds a place to get in a chortle. In defense to him, he is completely blindsided thanks to damage to the ECM readouts from that side prior, and couldn't have caught the ram. Given how many operation errors he's committed the entire time he's been allowed to play with the military hardware, it'd be forgivable to just lump this one under his numerous crimes of common sense.
His body leans off to the right as minor elevation changes throughout the street might see the husk potentially capsize if this keeps going on for much longer.
The engine is still online (technically), the weapon systems are mostly operational, and there's a big flock of a large invasive bird species flying overhead. So long as they keep being pushed, they are pushed ever closer to the outer-most edges of the legal fighting zone - they might even get ringed out!
"Hold tight," he says as he guns the gas without much effect - what exactly is he hoping to accomplish now?! Curiously, his left hand leaves the controls for that length of pipe at his right hip, but whatever's going on through his mind is probably not worth asking nor discussing.

[AKIKO]
AAH WHY.

Akiko is letting the advice from Rust wash over her without listening to it much. It's there, it's words, but honestly he hasn't said anything particularly useful - though the occasional warning about what he's about to do is appreciated, if only because Akiko has no chance whatsoever of possibly guessing it without aid. She's pretty sure Rust doesn't know what he's going to do, either.

Akiko, at least, /was/ watching the side. She knew the impact was coming before it happened (admittedly, not for very long), and was braced for impact. She doesn't get thrown around this time... well, not as much anyway, it's impossible to not get thrown at all from that kind of strike. She assumed Rust missed it instead of his screen being out. Whoops!

She's not actually entirely sure how the tank is still operating. "Maybe we should think about getting out," she calls to Rust, a little hesitant. Another hit like that, and... actually it doesn't even need to be another hit like that. A lovetap would probably do it.

But still, if things are still active...

Akiko holds on when Rust pushes the gas. There's not much she can do to help him, but - oh, yes, there is, there are some guns she hasn't fired yet. They're actually pointed partially upward, but with the ASSERTER threatening to roll over the GHOST any minute now, she can finally use them! Akiko holds her fire anyway for a few moments until the ASSERTER is in the best (dangerous) position, but the sudden burst of bullets aimed upwards into the (relatively) weak bottom of the tank is probably a surprise.

Whether by intent or accident, Akiko has aimed them at an angle, so they won't come up through the bottom of the tank but - if she's lucky, and gets exactly what she wants - will finish shooting off the track she managed to damage earlier, coming at it from the other side.

[MINT]
With Hitomi's guidance, Mint was able to correct the course of the ASSERTER and steer it smack into the GHOST. Amidst crunching metal, showering sparks, and blossoming clouds of dust, the two t-boned tanks continued sliding forward for quite a ways!

Unfortunately, in the driver's seat, Mint noticed a new red light demanding her attention, amidst all the other warning klaxons telling her the obvious (yes, proximity alarm from -crashing into another tank-). After a moment of gunning the right tread, to no avail, Mint frowns. Frowns big.

"Hitomi," she calls into the com, "our left track is finally out, you're gonna have to fire the main gun to break us free!"

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter fails to interrupt 12.7mm Anti-Air Machine Gun from BE-0X Ghost with Quick Throw.
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                                     ||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                                |||||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|----===========                


[HITOMI]
Thrown around in the turret when the tanks collided it's a wonder she hasn't broken anything or at least chipped a tooth. As the tanks initially collided she was able to squeeze a last few rounds out of the Avenger before the gun clicks dry and continues to whirr away sadly while no longer vomiting out a three foot tongue of flame. The tank lunches up and starts climbing up to mount on the GHOST Hitomi starts to panic. Calling down through the radio to the driver.

"Stop! reverse.. we're driving over them."

This wasn't a matter of winning and losing so much as trapping those poor people in a tank and after this last hit there was no telling how bad things were in there. Receiving cloud and clear Mint's message about the track, it might be possible that they can't even move as is.

Dropping down into the turret and snaking her way into the gunnery seat by leapind over the back of it and landing hard on her rump she's already wheeling the turret around and trying to align the barrel forwhat looks like the maximum push backward. The whole time there's some weird clanging noise happening and even before she's finished there's a weird 'Zing' and one of the monitors on her station punctures and shatters in a spiderweb like pattern.

There was a hole?

"Firing!"

The tank rocks backwards even further with the blast, enough that it starts to slide down the sloped and angular armour on the side of the ghost. Both tanks dropping a few dislodged armour segments and plates they're at least separated now. Rather than continue firing Hitomi rolls out of the seat and squirms back up to the hatch to see how things were going outside.Yelling;

"Did it work?"

Was everyone okay?

[MINT]
Of course, red lights and warning klaxons weren't the only grievances that Minal Panesh had to deal with. She was just too dead set on focusing on the warning panels and indicators to notice the little details. Like the fact that the steel-crunching impact shortened the driver's compartment by about two inches. Or that the seat she's perched upon isn't quite ... straight now. The adaptive Marine just accepts all that as a consequence of getting to drive the most awesome tank that isn't the Assault Breacher Vehicle she knows and loves!

Of course, then the gunfire happens. Oh nooooo the gunfire. Anti-aircraft fire careens across the underbelly of the tank in a number of locations, raining down sparks and leaving nasty black scorch marks across the machinery of the tracks. Hydraulics hiss as their cylinders and tubes are ruptured -- the left track was screwy before, but now it's effectively locked in place until it can receive some much-needed TLC...

And that's -before- Hitomi fires the gun. The tank surges backwards from the recoil, dislodging the ASSERTER from its counterpart and pulling a few armor panels loose in the process. Mint was kind of hoping the violent maneuver would have kicked the GHOST around a bit more from the impact, but simply having the two tanks free is good for now, right?

Corporal Panesh jams on the right track, trying to kick the ASSERTER even further behind, but realizes that with the left track seized up, moving the right track backward would just spin the crushed front of the ASSERTER towards the GHOST -- and soon afterwards, would present the seized left track to the enemy. That... would be bad. So she just stops for now, leaving the ASSERTER effectively immobilized.

As the GHOST driver now has ample opportunity to maneuver out of the way, Mint unfastens her safety belts, and unfastens the cuff clamp on her right hand unit. "Uh, Private Hitomi... can you do me a favor?"
As Mint begins crawling out of the driver's pit, she grabs the backpack she'd brought along. Sliding the hatch lid away, she removes her normally-proportioned prosthetic and stuffs it into the backpack.
"I'm gonna need you to come down here and jam on the gas in a moment."

The tiny Marine emerges from the tank, completing the process of attaching her significantly larger right hand into position. Mint squeezes the giant metal hand into a fist as she casts a wary glance at the receding GHOST. She hops off the side of the tank, backpack clutched in one hand. Once her boots are on the ground, she punches the tensioner responsible for the earlier seize-up, brute-forcing it back into position. She pulls a wrench out of her backpack, a grim expression on her face as hydraulic lines continue to splurt out fluid, and the tank treads are almost -- =almost= out of whack.

Mint completes her rapid assessment of the situation, and with rapid percussive motions, begins punching pieces back into position.
It seems like the corporal has done this before.

[RUST]
Now free for the moment from the threat of capsizing, collapsing, or some combination thereof, the underside of the GHOST takes a hit on release thanks to the damaged suspension. It is not comfortable to be in there.
The idiot driver wheezes and coughs as he can feel his entire midsection being pressed in on itself, but he's cracking another bit of pained laughter as the GHOST putters along the streets. Closing in towards the legal edge of the playing field, there's not a whole lot of cover to get to in a short hurry.
As there's a bit of damage going on under there, it's something of a surprise it still moves at all. It's not going to get to safe cover in time before the ASSERTER may yet fire on them again. The next shot might be it.
"Ahh, I've... I've been through worse," he seems awful dismissive of the state of disrepair of the GHOST and just how much physical abuse he himself has taken, gesturing vaguely with his left thumb from the drawn pipe he wields towards himself.
"Looks like that did it," in so far as their reversal of fortune goes (with absolutely zero help from him), his cheer lessening maybe on account of difficulty getting oxygen in his lungs.
"Don't worry," he adds, which coming from him means it's probably panic time, "I'll make sure you get another shot at in," at in? For that matter, what does he hope to do with that drawn pipe in his left hand? He has no room to swing it. He's not thinking of leaping out and striking the enemy tank, is he?! (So far he seems to be staying seated, so, hopefully not...)
The GHOST leans somewhat to the left. Thanks to the positioning of the two tanks, Akiko may have a clean shot at the ASSERTER. It is a sitting duck.
The problem is, now Mint's at work in a way that it'd be near-impossible to line up a shot without putting her in mortal danger. This much is plainly visible from Akiko's elevation.
"Trust me," he says, looking back towards her and away from what few functional monitors are left - he couldn't see out the left when they got rammed so it stands to reason /he can't see Mint/, "if it's the only shot you'll ever get at it, I'll make sure you get to take it!"
It sounds kind of sappy and heartfelt, but...
...
Does he know?

[AKIKO]
Everything is increasingly a huge mess. Akiko is really second-guessing herself now.

The treads grind as the damaged suspension bounces them in unpleasant ways. Akiko is very lucky that her turret has some stabilization, but it's not really meant for the up-down motion and she's getting increasingly disoriented. Which way is she pointing again...?

"Rust-san, I really think we should get ready to abandon ship." Akiko pauses for a moment, then corrects herself, "Tank. Abandon tank. We did our best, and that's what's important, right?"

But she's not going to be the first one out, if only because she doesn't want to explain to anybody why she abandoned Rust in there (as she has increasingly come to the conclusion that Rust probably should not be trusted to make good decisions, or indeed possibly any decisions). She grits her teeth. Rust is saying there's another shot, so she checks through the viewfinder -

Well. There's one of her opponents. Akiko points the turret at Mint as she works... and then very deliberately tracks it to the area she's already been, and hopefully won't be back to. Even then, she waits.

And waits.

And waits, a split second more. But Akiko's patient, and she had to wait for Mint to duck at least mostly around the tank before she squeezes the triggers and hoping that this weapon works like she was told it does.

A laser targetter cuts through the smoke, visible faintly as a red line for a split second, and something accelerates away from the turret of the GHOST. It flies through the air, ideally impacting with the ASSERTER itself with a meaty 'thump'... and sticking there.

It doesn't explode, precisely. It emits another one of those smoke clouds, and simultaneously starts discharging a hell of a lot of ECM and EMP. If it hit the ground, not much happens besides the smoke. If it hit the ASSERTER, things in there are likely to shut down. Some of the pulse might catch Mint, but it's not likely to do much to a person - though there's the cybernetic limbs to worry about, Akiko already /knows/ those come off (because she's not wearing the same ones she saw earlier), so they're probably OK to turn off, too.

Mostly it's the smoke. And the impact. What, did they load that thing into a proper shell or something? Given nobody is moving very quickly anymore, the smoke is more an annoyance than anything else.

[HITOMI]
AM-21 Asserter wakes up.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost successfully hits AM-21 Asserter with Laserguided Enhanced Smoke Grenade.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                                            |||||||||||||||| ]
                 1|-----------====|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                                  |||||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|-==============                


Uhm okay? Clearly apprehensive at first the girl drops down into and attempts to bypass the corporal with some squeezing involved. It's a tight fit in these close quarters especially with the bulky backpack added to the mix. There's a momentary flash of panic as they wedge and Hitomi tries to suck in her gut and grabs a structural support to pull through while raking her bust across the face of the smaller women.

"On my way!"

Crawling into the driving pit and seating herself shes actually suddenly aware of just how comfy the seat is. This was actually really nice. She's reclined back at an angle that was kind of restful and there controls are really odd looking. More like a motorcycle than a steering where or maybe levers like she might've suspected. Maybe in the least she'd have thought it'd be like a digger or some kind of construction machinery.

Worse still, she had no which pedals did what or which way the machine would steer when these controls were turned. She couldn't really hear what was going on outside, and the scope seemed to be broken. She could do nothing but listen to the radio for instructions while completely cut off.

"Which thingie to do I use when you tell me to?"

On receiving instruction Hitomi does as instructed and steps-on-it causing the tank to reel forward drunkenly at speed and then slowly come under control and move steadily. The crew compartment however was rapidly filling with smoke. In just a few seconds Hitomi becomes aware of the problem but by the time she's reporting it over the radio there's panic in her voice.

"Mint-san! There's smoke*coff* are -we on *cough*fire?"

She wasn't about to give up yet but she was blind beyond blind, her eyes were stinging and her chest was starting to burn from inhaling all this smoke. She needed some something else to focus on.. she wondered if he'd think this was a pretty cool story when she met him again.

"I'm fine. Let's go!"

Just a little longer. Come on ASSERTER!

[MINT]
The technical manual for maintaining the AM-21 ASSERTER reads pretty much like it would on any tracked vehicle:
WARNING: Do not damage, scratch, dent, puncture, hydraulic cylinders as severe injury and/or death may occur to service personnel.

Yeah, the book's just a set of suggestions. If a tensioner isn't doing what you need it to, the quick and dirty solution is to hit it until it does.. On the one hand, command officers get a working vehicle. On the other hand, the gunnery sergeants won't be happy. Command officers outrank gunnery sergeants, so it all works out.

And Mint's been hitting pretty much everything repeatedly until it works. Sometimes she can just punch the thing, sometimes she needs to use her wrench as leverage. From outside the tank, Mint shouts inside: "It's the fat pedal with the holes in it, by your right foot! Try it now!"

Mint smiles broadly with no small amount of satisfaction as the tank jerks forward. It's not perfect, it's not pretty, but it'll get the tank rolling long enough to finish the battle. In fact, the only thing wrong is that little red dot.
Red dot.
Mint instinctively dives for cover, pulling her oversized right hand and her normal-sized left hand over her head as aluminum ribbons and smoke billow out from the bomb, making both visual -and- electronic surveillance next to impossible. A localized electronic pulse is also emanated -- more than enough power to disable a drone or aggravate a small plane, but only enough to short-circuit the already-beleaguered sensors of the ASSERTER. Radar: Fully offline. Targeting systems: fully offline. Drive mechanics, though? Those are sealed away in layers of protective metal, forming an effective Faraday cage to insulate the tank from all but the more powerful EMPs.

All said: the tank is rolling, but the emergency makeshift repairs did come with a nasty cost: the hideous grinding sound that comes from damaged tracks rolling past mangled rollers. Hitomi will need to steer hard right to counterbalance the bad treads, but it's a miracle the tank can even move at all!

The wrench clangs to the ground as Mint stands up, with the middle fingers of both mismatched hands extended as she lowers them. The Indian-American looks down with confusion at her prosthetic hands -- the fingers do not move.
They are stuck there. With the middle fingers extended.
Because the EMP shorted out the delicate electronics.

Mint flashes the GHOST a dirty look, and raises -both- her middle fingers in a fit of indignance. Along with sticking out her tongue. Biih!

Still. The AM-21 ASSERTER? It's getting away! Mint flashes a wide-eyed look. Stopping just long enough to scoop up her wrench from the ground, she dashes after the tank and snags a handhold with her locked-up left hand. Pain shoots through the corporal's expression as the move puts added pressure on her injured torso, but she manages to pull herself onto the tank. Panting, she vaults up, and slaps the pintle-mounted machinegun in the general direction of the GHOST, forcing her seized middle finger into the trigger. She's barely taking aim at all -- she's just hoping to fend off the GHOST with a volley of small-caliber bullets while she tries to climb back inside! "Floor it, Hitomi!"

[RUST]
BE-0X Ghost wakes up.

COMBATSYS: BE-0X Ghost blocks AM-21 Asserter's Pintle-Mount 7.60mm Danger Fire.

                           AM-21 ASSERTER                          
  [                                               ||||||||||||| ]
                 1|---------======|===============                
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                                     ||||||| ]
                 0|---------------|-==============                


For lack of a proper targeting system to work with, manual firing still has one friend in the way the GHOST continues to roll forward at a constant speed. Even in a case of barely taking aim, it's not hard to snap off an educated guess.
He looks up towards the young gunner once again. Could he be reading off what few functional electronic readouts there are? Is he considering protesting her resignation to the tank's fate compared to two other opponents who seem far more capable with their equipment compared to them?
His foot gets off the gas. With his free hand, he momentarily struggles with his shape on top of a toolbelt that would seem to glue him there to the seat. He's leaving the controls--
Some small piece of machinery inside the tank falls off when the gunfire comes. Whatever's coming, it's coming around the backside. Last layer of protection being breached? A device whose grip has been weathered and eventually lost to the abuse given and taken by the tank oeprator?
It gets deafeningly loud as he seems to lunge towards that space with his pipe facing forward.
It goes horizontal before impact, to some standard or measurement that just cannot be verified within the heat of the moment other than 'lost his damn mind.' The pipe smacks against the inside wall loud and even powerfully enough that there's an imprint left on the right side of the tip, his crazy long hair undoing itself from its manner of dress to flare out. The noise of the pipe's impact itself is drowned out by more gunfire.
Outside of the warning klaxons, there's a silence that follows in which reason may struggle to comprehend what just happened. Drawing the pipe down and back within the cramped confines, Akiko may bear witness to a small but continuous line of very tiny dents. The area that pipe was slapped around seems beaten in to the breaking point - another hit there will breach.
Were those... did he...
"What's really important," he adds, as if by some means speaking over the narration's complaints, "is that you make the most of what you got."
Bullets are fast, faster than humans can move. There was no electronic heads up, due to the lack of a lock-on. The timing was perfect, to the milisecond. The measurements, exacting. How the hell could this man know?
That has to be luck. There's just no other expl--
"When's the next time any of us'll get to be in one these things?" In his case, one would hope 'never again!!!' "I did say if it's the only shot you'll ever get at it..."
He starts to set himself back in the drivers' seat with a goofy smile, "I'll make sure you get to take it!"
Standing where they are, they do have a chance for at least one more undisturbed shot for that short amount of time the GHOST is at a standstill. It's a David versus Goliath situation. No, more like a Goliath versus Colossus situation? These are tanks.
It's a long shot given the ASSERTER's renewed mobility and superior coordination between its teammates, but he seemed dead set on allowing her to have another shot.
May as well take it, if to drown out the next inane thing he's bound to be saying as he's squeezing back into the drivers' seat.

[AKIKO]
Akiko is presented with two fingers from Mint.

That's new. Should she feel guilty? She only feels a /little/ guilty. It's not like Akiko was aiming at her! Fortunately, she's jumping back in the tank, which does a lot to make Akiko more comfortable.

It's about the only thing at all that's comfortable between the status of the tank and oh, yeah, the fact that they're literally getting shot up once again. They don't exactly have very much armour left on that side! Akiko lets out a yelp as she spots the fire, unsure if she should brace for impact or slam the hatch open and leave -

Rust is on it. Rust is /actually/ on it, and doing something she didn't know he could do. It's so unexpected that Akiko actually freezes for a moment, processing the events that just happened. Her mouth doesn't quite drop open but it's a near thing.

"Rust-san," Akiko says, before setting her lips. He wants her to take a shot? Fine, she'll take it. They only have one chance left, after all - next time they get hit she /is/ going to bail. The last thing she wants to do is get trapped in a burning - or worse, exploding - tank. "I'll do it. I'll do it! Just - get ready!"

Akiko checks the viewfinder. Amazingly, it still works. Equally amazingly, so does the turret, though she's not sure about the coaxial guns on it, so she loads a shot with the main cannon. She manages to take aim at the smoke-shrouded, slow ASSERTER, hoping that she does land this shot - because it is going to be her last one, she's entirely sure of that.

And then - she actually takes the shot, rewarded with the pleasant (right now, anyway; normally she'd never want to hear it) sound of an operating cannon. Now if only this manages to finally disable the ASSERTER!

COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter fails to slow Strong Shot from BE-0X Ghost with 120mm Incendiary.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                                      |||||| ]
                 1|--------------=|===============                


COMBATSYS: AM-21 Asserter has suffered catastrophic damage and fallen offline.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                                      |||||| ]
                 1|--------------=|===============                


[MINT]
From atop the ASSERTER's turret, Mint tries to pry her finger out from the trigger. It's tougher than one might expect, because she'd grown used to the electronic sensations that suggest contact -- sensations that just aren't -there- right now.

"Hitomi, just keep the pedal to the floor, you're doing great..." Minal isn't used to having folks working for her who haven't already been through basic training; she's trying to keep her voice calm and gentle as much as possible. ... But her calm is shaken a bit when the GHOST: (a) slows down, and (b) doesn't just get pelted with the bullets she'd just flung its way. The Indian from New Jersey squints back at the sight between her rectangular shields: did she see that right...? Did the bullets just... -bounce off-, as if... repelled from the inside?

"... Uh..." is all Mint can manage to say, as she looks back in the direction the tank is steering. "Crap! Steer right, ten degrees!" The tank was about to run right into a big ol' ditch, and that would have been bad. As she can tell that Hitomi is able to hear the order, the Marine looks back to the GHOST. Still stopped? ... Oh, she notes, as she can see the opposing barrel swiveling into motion. She drops down behind cover, swinging the ASSERTER's own main cannon in the last known direction of the GHOST...

However, steering the ASSERTER right was a liability: that means that the right tread is moving -even slower-. So the larger battle tank won't be able to get out of the way, but it -could- fire back...

But with Mint taking cover, and all the electronic systems that have been disrupted, actually -aiming- the other shot is almost impossible. An incendiary shell is loaded into the tube, and rocks the ASSERTER backwards as it is fired...
But then the ASSERTER is rocked backwards -again-, in a lopsided fashion, as the powerful round from the BE-0X GHOST slams into the left rear of the tank, just below the line of explosive reactive armor plates. The tracks are completely obliterated, mooting the entire issue of the efficacy of Mint's hasty repair job. Spools pop loose, cylinders are mangled beyond recognition, and the track shatters into a zillion different pieces. The ASSERTER won't be doing any asserting now, as the battleframe sags in the left aft quadrant -- effectively immobilized.

Mint's errant shot, though? It still manages to careen outward in the direction she'd fired it -- sailing high over the GHOST's turret, and crashing into a faraway building, which subsequently explodes in a shower of orange flame and pulverized concrete.

Mint, for her part, lurches forward -- pulled in such a direction by the crippled war machine. The ASSERTER's engine is still running, its right tread desperately liquefying the dirt below it into mud as it struggles to gain traction.

"Private Hitomi, you can let off the pedal now... I got good news and I got bad news."

Mint pulls a white flag out of the turret, looping it around the middle finger of her larger right hand. She hoists it into the sky, waving it back and forward -- clearly visible over the settling smoke and dust that keep the lower treads obscured.

"The bad news is: it's over."

She laughs, tapping the fingers of her left hand against the cockpit to straighten them out. She waves at the victorious GHOST operators with her other hand and a bright smile.

Mint's body aches: not just her hands, but her back, her injured torso, her injured -knee-, and... well, her head and everything else that got shaken up in the midst of battle.

"The good news is: it's -over-."

COMBATSYS: Mint takes no action.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hitomi




[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Akiko
                            BE-0X GHOST                            
  [                                                      |||||| ]
                 1|--------------=|===============                


[HITOMI]
The call to turn 10 degrees is hindered by all this smoke, Hitomi can't make out anything even on the limited instrumentation left so she turns the steering peg a little and hopes that's enough. Outside the tank with one side running slow the tank begins to drift and run sideways. The whole mammoth tank skirting along the edge of the ditch and running pretty quickly while the fast moving tread is sawing away at the landscape.

When the final hit comes it wrenches everything around in dramatic fashion. The tank reels around and comes to a stop while shedding componentry at the same times the electrics and hydraulics both dying simultaneously. The interior of the tank goes bright with a few raining sparks and then - completely darkness; on the exterior the weapons sag in their mounts.

Hitomi figures she knows what that meant. No way! After coming so far and trying as hard as they did? She does indeed lift her finger off the pedal and the sound of Mint's voice was in no way soothing. Losing she could handle, but failing just meant she wanted to go again. Only there was no chance to do that.

"*Coff-ough.. understood."

The coms might not even be working anymore, it's knd of lonely and echoes down in here.

The ASSERTER rears back as the structural integrity of the ditch gives way under the weight of all that tonnage and it lists over hard and slides to a dead halt. Engine dying finally with a descending whine.

Hitomi fighting her way out of the smoke filled compartment and up toward the light busts out with a sooty and dirty face and coughing into her fist. She was grateful for the jacket which seemed singed a little in the exercise, not noticing small trails of smoke rising from her long hair, patches of it were even still on fire.

Still partly on fire, coughing while dirty and dusty Hitomi tries to offer the Corporal a reassuring smile. This whole exercise was kind of fun, but also not. It was over like Mint said; it was also All-Over.

[RUST]
The word comes in over headsets that the ASSERTER team has surrendered, in case any visual cues are missed - maybe more for Jr.'s benefit, as he can't see too well.
He claps a few times, pipe held between forearm and bicep in his right hand in an understated fashion. Given his tireless enthusiasm going in it and through it - across every humiliatng mistake, act of short-sightedness, anything else - he seems a little disappointed.
"Ahh, that's that," he says as he twists in his seat a bit so that he can start trying to stick the pipe back through the proper toolbelt pocket with the torn-out bottom to hold it, "lot of fun, eh? Would if I could, I'd just go on one last rip."
For one, the tank is falling apart. It's not safe to stay in here for longer than necessary.
For two, due to the way he leans against the controls, one foot falling upon the gas... the tank is now rolling backwards at the same pace it's always been driven (as fast as possible).
It rolls towards one of the end boundaries of the battlefield. It's marked in yellow and black hazard stripes, so that there's a clear visual indicator to operators that no, you should not roll the tank past this zone. Beyond this area is nothing but water. These tanks are not macroscopic bathtub toys.
They did not account for sheer carelessness.
"Worst that could happen, we just go over a p--" He's interrupted by a sudden downward angular shift as the back goes over a steep hill on the way down.
The engine, coincidentally, stalls out right when he seems keen on catching the error to go back up. Double uh oh. Gravity starts to take over on the rest of the downward slide into the drink.
"Or that!" He laughs, but now he's in a bit of a bind. He never fit all that well into the driver's seat, thanks to both added girth /and/ the toolbelt. Now he's all twisted up in it, and there's no telling how deep the water is off the side of this slope as the BE-0X GHOST looks to end its illustrious gladiator career to inadvertent scuttling. He visibly squirms to get out.
He might need a hand.
...Maybe even a slam?
Where that idiot(?) established his own personal touches leading to the GHOST's decisive victory...
Now may be the time for Dosekiryuu Shindoukan to save some lives!

[AKIKO]
They won.

They won?

Well, it seems that way, because the other team is surrendering. Akiko's face splits into a big grin. Sure, she's battered, bruised, smoky, and not in the best of shape, but that still means that her debut was a success. Though she's willing to bet her father won't see it that way - actually, she doesn't /have/ to guess, she just knows that.

She might be a little less cheerful if she could see Hitomi's hair, but she can't.

"Rust-san, we should get out and shake hands, if nothing else," Akiko says, though she's honestly pretty eager to get out solely to not be in the tank anymore. Though about then she feels the tank starting to roll again... backwards... and rather steeply judging by the feel of it.

Akiko's first instinct is to abandon tank! But she can't abandon tank without Rust coming with her, and Rust doesn't look like he's going to get out on his own. And though Akiko is bruised and stiff, at least she's not actually stuck; she fits much more easily in the tank's confines.

"Sorry, Rust-san!" Akiko rather roughly grips him at shoulder and arm and hefts. How someone who probably weighs less than half of what Rust does yanks him up, not only supporting his weight but actually getting him un-wedged in the same motion, is a complete mystery. There isn't enough room for her to actually get him on her shoulders in here, but she gets him somewhat overhead, pushing him into the hatch.

Where he sticks again, but a moment later there's a rather solid /thump/ from underneath, and Rust flies out with Akiko shortly behind. /He/ lands on the slope, which may be uncomfortable but at least he's not rolling off. She lands more lightly some distance behind him.

And the tank... well, Rust isn't on the accelerator anymore, and without people in it it slowly - slowly - comes to a stop, an instant before going over into the ocean. If there were people in the back of it, it would have gone over for sure.

"...I suppose that counts as not wrecking the tank?" Akiko sounds a little unsure.

Log created on 20:19:16 08/21/2016 by Mint, and last modified on 09:13:06 09/02/2016.