I was just sitting at the bus stop.
It wasn't that the Wehremacht's third tank column's lead was rounding the corner.
The Third Division's Shermans were rolling down the cross street on a collision course with the Dub. This promised to get ugly, but nation-states need a venue in which to express their differences. Really, they do. Before the war, um, the security action, broke out, I had advocated paintball.
My bus was patiently...well, prudently waiting on the far side of the intersection for the light to turn green when the lead We-38 eclipsed it and stopped in the intersection. As a matter of fact, yes, it did stop dead in its tracks.
I don't like being late to work, see. So, when the lead tank spotted the impending Shermans and started turning its turret to sight in on the lead Sherman, I started to worry. When the Sherman lined up to fire first, I really worried. This was primarily because the Sherman line popular among the antecounterrevolutionaries had a flaw in the mechanism that compensated for forward motion, meaning that it was probably going to overshoot the '38 and hit my bus.
Both were outwardly pedestrian models. Reactive armor, assisted aim, situational awareness packages, antipersonnel features, but no hints of active counterartillery. Neither one was equipped to cleanly stop an oncoming shot, just to survive it and respond in kind.
I rolled my eyes. The Big W's lead hadn't even bothered to call up the two tanks behind it to properly receive the Sherman column. It was going solo. The superreactionary insurrectionists had fewer but better tanks and were always a bit arrogant about it.
Standing up, I took a deep breath and reached into the universe around me. No Great Sentience there, though the bigger biomes had that; just deep perception of the world as it stood.
As I reached, time slowed to a crawl. The gunner on the Sherman was in the act of firing, where the '38 was waiting for their first shot to fail. The charge in the Sherman's breach was normal. The inclination was, as I feared, marginally too high. The HE round would pulverize the bus.
Action was needed. With time still crawling, I slipped one arm into hammerspace (pocket dimension, holding bag, Beyond--I like to call it what it is to me, not to others) and found my Bussard fusion lance. This was aimed into the trajectory of the Sherman's shell while I started walking into the street between the tanks. The lance came with a hilt of sorts that would protect me from the shell's detonation.
With the shell countermeasure in place, I had to convince the disagreeing parties to let my bus through. This meant gradually letting go of time while fishing around in hammerspace again. Where had I put that again?
Sound came back. The Sherman barked, its muzzle brake flashed, and its shell cracked thunderously overhead as its payload detonated early. A few tumbling fragments harmlessly pelted the bus. The two tanks were suddenly still as they assessed the newcomer.
There were a few of us around. Folks with the Sense and Connection didn't like fighting, and we'd get out of the way given a chance. That chance had to include reasonable guarantees that civilians were safe, so we were always ready to fight. It also helped our survival rates, I'll admit.
Ah, found it. I liked the lance, but it was only good to thirty or forty feet under ideal conditions. The Thumper was a different beastie; instead of a focused beam of barely subluminal charged particles, it could run high amplitude transverse solitons through anything bigger than a driveway. With a little practice, you could flip a car from across a parking lot. With a lot of practice...well, I had to put the fusion lance back in hammerspace. Tanks are two-hand targets.
It was a thick rod, about a meter long, with some repairable rings at one end. I dialed in the parameters for the job, turned towards the '38, and slammed the end of the rod onto the pavement...which kindly flexed into a depression that started rolling towards the tank. When it got under the tank, I twisted the rod then lifted it and there was a bang. The soliton dumped its energy into the tank's structure as commanded and the tank neatly split in two.
Non-lethal is my favorite approach. It's nice when it works.
Another slam, twist, and pop let out a soliton that shifted the tank out of the bus' way. Whipping around, I dropped a soliton in the Shermans' direction only to realize that they were politely scrambling to reverse directions.
I'd have to send them a thank-you card some time. Instead I merely turned off the soliton's containment and let it diffuse before impact.
Switching the Thumper out for the lance again, I walked to the bus stop, sat down, and glared meaningfully at the second '38 in the column.
It was going to be a good day. I might even get to work on time.
[Sorry if the tense inconsistencies bug you.]