The 21st century witnessed a number of small scale but bloody conflicts. Expensive modern military hardware was in short supply. As a consequence many of the combatants utilized trucks and SUVs for transportation. These conflicts were to see the resurrection of an older idea. The Russian 76.2mm ZIS-3 light gun was continuing to provide good service in these conflicts even though the design dated back to the Second World War. The gun was to prove even more useful once it was mounted on a light tracked chassis such as an APC. In essence this recreated the Soviet SU-76. Like the original, such vehicles were lightly armoured and had a limited traverse for the main weapon. Also like the original they were simple and cheap to produce and their low weight and low ground pressure made them very useful. The gun was mounted to project over the engine deck, keeping overall length short. This was a useful feature in crowded and ruined urban areas. Such vehicles served as light assault guns, vehicle destroyers and indirect fire platforms. The main gun still had some use against the older, thinner armoured tanks commonly encountered in these conflict. It was more than adequate against the many unarmoured vehicles in common use.
Such light assault guns acquired the collective name of “bruja” and it was not long before the vehicles began to evolve. Vulnerability of the crew had always been an issue, particularly in the open-topped variants. Cybershell variants of the bruja were created as soon as the technology became available. Improvements in ammunition and fire control increased capabilities, allowing helicopters and other slow or low altitude aircraft to be engaged. A pirated copy of the more modern and higher velocity South African GT4 76mm gun eventually became available. Many bruja used this in preference to the ZIS-3. EM railguns, ETC and directed energy weapons were also utilized in brujas.
Brujas are still used in many Third Wave and even some Fourth Wave nations. Versions have even been built on Mars and the Moon. While a bruja is no match for a Fifth Wave cybertank in a one to one confrontation they remain a useful system in a combined arms formation where infantry and other vehicles can defend them adequately for them to perform their intended role.