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Thursday, July 4, 2013

ELS 8 - Breakout

“Why are you out here so late?”
The single guard on the tank pen addressed her with unhidden scorn
Eying her up and down her shapely form
“You should be getting your beauty sleep
Not that you really need it”

Kazia brushed a lock of red hair from her eyes with her free hand
She-Bitch is acting up a little bit
I noticed it towards the end of the competition today
And I’d like to make some adjustments before tomorrow’s movement”
She shook her tool bag to illustrate her point that she must have brought tools with her for a reason

The guard’s eyes registered instant boredom with the whole encounter
Who cares about an overzealous tank commander?
It would get her nowhere
“Carry on, Commander”
He waved her through the entrance
Which was really nothing more than a break in the temporary two by four barrier around the tanks

Which everyone just called “The Pen”

Walking past him and into the group of parked tanks
Kazia paused and added over her shoulder
“I will have to start her up and idle for a few minutes
But it won’t be very long”

To which the guard just nodded
Already back into the trashy novel he was holding

As she resumed moving into the pen
She reassured herself that the rest of the camp wouldn’t even hear her start up the engine
Not over the constant howl of the camp generator
Which was back closer to the tents full of the sleeping members of the unit

No, they wouldn’t hear her until it was too late

Altering her path so that it took her to the rear of the first tank in line
Kazia rummaged in her tool bag for a moment
Coming out with two tools in her hand

A slotted screwdriver
And a pair of wire cutters

Stopping at the left rear of the first tank
Opening a small access panel with the screwdriver
Reaching inside up to her elbow with the cutters

An almost inaudible "snip" could be heard
If one was a mouse and sitting in the right place
Securely upon her smoothly muscled forearm perhaps

But nobody heard
Nobody noticed
The guard read his book and smoked a cigarette

She stopped at each tank in turn as she made her way to the rear of the pen
Eleven times she opened that small panel
Snipped a certain set of wires
And closed the panel once again

At the twelfth T-34 tank she paused to stow the two tools back in her bag in a side pocket

She-Bitch glinted dully in the moonlight
The painted mouth and eyes with the nickname in Cyrillic visible in the moonlight

How Kazia had hated that name when the Commanding Officer had bestowed it on her in the first week of duty assignment

How she had learned to love it and make it her own after it had become clear that living and serving in this unit would be an adversarial daily chore

Without making undue commotion
Tank Commander Kazia Tamm unlatched the driver's hatch of her tank and climbed up the front
Reaching in and stowing her bag off to the side
She lowered herself into the suspended seat
Strapped herself in and grabbed her helmet out of the bag
Also getting out the delicate apparatus of the night vision goggles
And attaching them to the special clips on her helmet

Reaching over to the control panel
Fingers easily finding the Master Battery switch
Flipping up the red guard and moving the switch to on before replacing the cover

The instant reward of sets of glowing lights and gauges meeting her eyes

A few more switches and a press of a button saw the diesel V-12 engine of the tank rumble to life

And in these few minutes of relative peace
Kazia closed her eyes while the systems warmed up
Thinking of everything that had pushed her to this
Of her dreams that wouldn't happen now
Of Charles living in the city across the ocean
Of her wispy strands of a plan that might see her to that same city in scant weeks from now

Glancing at the control panel and being satisfied with what she sees
The night vision goggles are affixed in the proper place
Game face firmly affixed

The dirty T-34 tank with a determined She-Bitch at the controls roars to full throttle
Tracks throwing gravel as it leaps backwards bursting through the pen rails
Pirouetting in place momentarily before bursting up the road at full gallop
Disappearing quickly in the dim moonlight