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CaioDuilio
11-04-2014, 09:07 AM
So, here it is, my first foray into KC fanfiction and probably my first attempt at fiction in a long, long time. Usually with stories like these I would never even consider to put up, but I feel that the time is ripe for release. I have no specific plans for the future of these so-called "shorts" , but I am willing to take suggestions and any other comments that you may have for these stories. I definitely have no plans to release NSFW material - that I'll do only under duress (And by that I mean heavy demand).

What are these stories about? I like to think of them as little facets into worlds charted and uncharted - the daily antics of the Japanese kanmusu to the machinations of foreign kanmusu and admirals around the globe. Yes, you read right - foreign kanmusu. Will you see that USS Iowa or HMS Illustrious that you've only dreamed of? The answer to that question will, of course, lie with the readers.

Most of these stories, you will notice, are linked in some way or another. I really have no specific direction that I intend to take the combined plot. It will certainly be interesting to see the full might of the Kriegsmarine collide with the carefree IJN kanmusu. Again, that is something I would like place into the hands of the reader. Read on!

I will probably be writing one story per maximum 4 days, so keep your eyes peeled!

[001] DAY BATTLE


"Enemy sighted three o'clock!"

The wind shifted, the brilliant blue ocean shone before the change - and so did the moods and minds of the Seventh Expeditionary Squadron.

"Akatsuki, on point. Everyone else, battle checks!" Ise put down the speaker, and as she did so the turrets of every ship whirred into life. As if guided by invisible hands they swivelled, slender barrels slanted upwards to the sky. She glanced behind her - Kirishima, keeping a watchful eye to starboard; Kitakami, fussing with her torpedoes; and Maya, cool and collected.

"Akatsuki reporting! Enemy fleet consists of two To-class, three Ro-class! We will reach effective combat range in three minutes! Over!"

Ise stared out at the tiny specks to starboard. For a moment she studied them, and, as if satisfied by her judgement, raised the speaker.

"Kitakami! Launch first torpedo wave!"

"Launching torpedo wave, all ships steer clear..." As the other girls veered to port, Kitakami clicked off the safety of her quad torpedo launchers. In a quick sequence of hisses the torpedoes sped into the water, little white trails racing beneath the waters' surface.

"All ships, line astern, line astern. Prepare to fire initial barrage, fire for effect!" Ise sped forward, followed by the rest of the squadron. "On my signal..."

The specks drew nearer, and there in the plain sunlight lay the Abyssal squadron. The grey, dull haze flickered constantly, and Ise could see the vicious Ro-class destroyers on edge, ready to pounce. Meanwhile the lumbering To-class cruisers hung back, guns trained, steam pouring out of their expansive maws.

BOOM! Huge columns of water erupted all around the Abyssals, the force of the explosions tearing through the Abyssals. Kitakami's torpedoes!

"Fire!" With a deafening roar Ise's twelve 15-inch guns fired straight at the floundering Abyssals. Right on cue Kirishima's fifteens followed and thundered, followed by the sharp bark of Maya's 8-inchers.

"All ships, prepare to disengage! Kitakami, Akatsuki, suppressing fire!" Ise called, veering away from the carnage. Responding barks could be heard, and sure enough, Ise could see the fall of the Abyssal shells, splashing all around her.

"Yes, senpai." Kitakami replied. The compressed air hissed as the torpedoes sped off , a gaggle for white trails streaking towards the Abyssal ships.

"Aaaah!" Akatsuki was not so lucky. With that sharp squeal of pain Ise spun around, and with a wince saw Akatsuki slipping to port, puffing black smoke, nursing her broken machinery. Ise stopped, reversed and slung the destroyer's arm over her shoulder.

"Ise-senpai, I'm so sorry... I was careless..." Akatsuki blubbered.

Ise smiled, and patted her briefly on the head. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about, Akatsuki, you did your best. Can you make it back?"

"I'm not sure, senpai... Ouchy..." Akatsuki rubbed her shoulder, revealing an angry red weal there.

"Okay, don't worry, I'll tow you back... Kirishima, Maya!"

"Yes, Ise-san?" Kirishima replied, nonchalantly firing off another salvo. Beside her Maya seemed not to notice, her guns still blazing away.

"Give us some covering fire... Akatsuki's hurt, I'm towing her off the line." Ise grimaced as the smouldering iron burned into her. "Looks like I'll need a breather too, huh..."


[002] INFIRMARY WOES

"There you go, Akatsuki-chan!" Akashi straightened and tightened the last bandage. "All done. Now you just lie back and rest, it'll all be better soon."

"Thanks, Akashi-senpai." Akatsuki lay back, snuggling into the soft pillow.

"Any time, Akatsuki-chan~" Footsteps clattered on the infirmary floor. Akashi turned around and saw the Admiral approaching. He was wearing his off-duty clothes, white shirt and sand-coloured shorts. A single gold star adorned his right epaulette.

"Ah, Admiral!" Akashi greeted him with a bow as he neared where Akatsuki lay. "I was just finishing up here, Akatsuki-chan's fine, nothing serious. I hope you're not hurt too, sir!" They shared a hearty laugh together, their voices echoing against the polished walls.

"Oh, no, Akashi-san, I'm just here to check up on the wounded. Hello there, Akatsuki, are you alright?" The Admiral bent down at the foot of her bed, with a concerned look in his eyes.

"Ah, Admiral, sir!" Akatsuki tried to salute, but her strength failed and her arm plopped down. "I'm fine, really, you shouldn't worry about-"

Before she could finish, the doors at the end of the hall swung open with a loud bang. The Admiral and Akashi turned quickly - but they were too slow to stop the barrelling Ikazuchi from diving straight onto Akatsuki's bed.

"Aaakaatsuki!!! Are you alright? Everyone's been so worried!" Ikazuchi burrowed into the sheets, trying to get close to the startled patient.

"H-hey! Ikazuchi, the Admiral's here! And get off my patient, she's not going to get better with you-" Akashi flung herself in front the furiously scrambling Ikazuchi, desperately fighting her off.

The Admiral watched all of this with some amusement, and turned back to see Hibiki and Inazuma strolling casually towards them. The two of them stopped in front of the Admiral, saluted and bowed.

"I'm sorry about Ikazuchi, Admiral-san. She wasn't really this worried when Akatsuki-san left port today..." Hibiki apologized. She looked dispassionately at the struggling heap, as if bored by the proceedings.

"H-Hibiki! When you address the Admiral, you say sir!" Inazuma trod on her toes, nervous as always. "Ummm, sir, I'm sorry about all of this as well, you see-"

"Don't be sorry, it's not your fault," The Admiral smiled, and patted Inazuma on the head. "I'm off-duty, after all."

Inazuma looked down, bemused. The Admiral turned to Hibiki, who continued to look on at the squabble with a impassive face. Hibiki, catching his eye, turned and casually came to attention. "Yes, Admiral-san?"

"Hibiki, what's fleet status?"

"Oh, let me see..." Hibiki stared up at the ceiling and pondered. "The battleships are all going to Houshou's place right now, everyone else is probably going to showers or the dormitories. In terms of morale everyone is happy, I guess."

"Thank you, Hibiki-chan. Well, everyone, I must get going. Akashi, I trust you can keep everyone in check."

"Yes, yes, Admiral!" Akashi managed a quick salute before diving back into the fray. "Ikazuchi, you come out of there this instant-"

Hibiki and Inazuma both bowed as the Admiral strode out. "Admiral-san seems rather relaxed today, doesn't he?" Hibiki muttered as the Admiral left the hall.

"Well, I guess maybe he hasn't had much to do lately," Inazuma replied. "I do hope nothing's the matter..."

"Got you at last!" The duo turned to see Akashi victorious, disentangling the struggling Ikazuchi from the heap of sheets.

"Owwwww, stop it, stop it, I said I'm sorry, okay?" With a soft plump Akashi dropped her onto the hard tiled floor.

"Now you and your friends scram, before I have to throw you out!" She brandished a long fishing pole at them, hook swinging threateningly.

"Okay, okay, we're going!" Ikazuchi scrambled off the floor and backed away as Akashi advanced menacingly. "Bye Akatsuki-san, hope you get better soon!"

The three of them bowed and quickly departed, leaving Akashi tutting in their wake. "Jeez, the nerve of that Ikazuchi...!" Akashi muttered as the swing doors stilled to a stop.


[003] OFFICE HORROR

The Admiral stretched out and swung his feet onto the desk, taking in the glorious sunset. The weekend had come and even as the girls had all dispersed into town he sat there in his office, summarizing the week's events at leisure.

No more paperwork, he thought to himself. At long last-

A singular thud brought him down to earth - with a cursory glance he saw a gigantic stack of papers piled neatly on the corner of his desk. A most unwelcome sight.

He groaned. Taking his feet off the desk he pulled himself in and studied the first page of the stack. Something lengthy on equipment requests.

"Oh lord, why now...." The Admiral slumped over the desk, dreams foiled.

"Hey, Admiral, sleeping on the desk again?" He looked up and saw a reproving Kirishima looming over him. "Come on now, you've got paperwork to finish...." With firm hands she tried to pull him up, but he would not budge.

"Leave me alone, Kirishima. I sit here relaxing and you take all the fun out of my day..." the Admiral murmured.

"You can relax later!" Kirishima pleaded, but the Admiral was as unmoving as a heavy boulder. She leant close and whispered softly into his ear, "Or do I have to make you get up?"

The Admiral remained silent. With a sigh Kirishima straightened up and unhooked the mic from her belt. If my dear Admiral was not going to comply, then...

Slowly and tenderly she laid her manicured hands on his shoulders, massaging them. The Admiral let out a long breath of relief, and Kirishima saw the thin line of a smile on his lips. Good, she thought, as she adjusted her mic. I have you now...

"WAKEY-WAKEY, ADMIRAL!!!" Kirishima shouted into the mic, and in an instant the Admiral leapt to his feet, clutching his ear, howling in pain. He danced on the spot like a crazed monkey and then finally collapsed, nursing his ringing ears. Kirishima stood over him, hands on her hips, triumphant. "So now will you get on with the work, sir?"

The Admiral pushed himself up, holding onto the table for support. He lifted his head, staring at the papers that now littered his desk. Then he stared at Kirishima, and with just one look into his darkened eyes she felt a shiver of fear run down her spine.

"H-hey, now, Admiral, it was all just a joke now, come on, I'm sure you're not that hurt... are you?" she fearfully stammered. This wasn't the Admiral she knew, carefree and hearty. The Admiral that she saw before her was cold and unemotional, the very air freezing around him.

Kirishima took a step backwards, but collided into the bookshelf wall. She gripped the shelf and uttered a little squeak of terror as the Admiral took a step towards her, as if possessed. She looked away, but even then she could not resist peeking at the transformed Admiral that stood before her. It was as if she were in battle, alone, at night, while the most terrifying Abyssal submarine of her nightmares drifted towards her, with unspeakable murder in its eyes. The Admiral isn't one of them! she thought desperately, over and over, but every rational part of her screamed, as if they were one and the same.

She shut her eyes, and braced for the inevitable explosion. She dared not peek now, even now. It's all over, she thought wildly, it's all over...!

But in the tense minutes that followed, there was no explosion. Slowly, but still quivering in fear, she opened her eyes by the tiniest of fractions. The Admiral was gone.

Kirishima squinted, trying to discern him from the growing darkness that the departing sunset gave way to. No sign. She took a tenative step forward, but felt her foot bump into something solid. Something soft, and squishy... the Admiral!

The Admiral lay there, unmoving, in a foetal position. Kirishima hurried onto her knees and examined him - yes, he was still breathing. She breathed a sigh of relief and sat back, wiping the sweat off her brow. He was just unconscious.

When she had gathered her thoughts together she lifted him up into her arms - how odd, she thought, to be at his mercy before and now him under mine. A disturbing thought. She shook the thought out of her head as she carried him off to his bedroom.
She laid him on the sheets and as she did so, quite unexpectedly, his hand gripped her wrist. She froze instantly, unsure of what to do.

"Kirishima...? Is that..." the Admiral murmured senselessly. His grip relaxed, and Kirishima prised her hand free. She gazed down at him, her thoughts in a muddle. She thought about a quick kiss to express her feelings, but she shook herself out of the thought, blushing.

She stared out the window and saw the stars twinkling, as if in reply. Not yet, my dear Admiral, she thought, perhaps in the future...


[101] SCHEER'S MISSION

Far out on the ocean, the stars meant nothing to the grim squadron that sailed now. They sailed in a spearhead formation, oblivious of the crescent moon that hung in the night sky.

"Konigsberg, location."

Without missing a beat Konigsberg responded, "Frau Scheer, we are approximately seven hundred and fifty-four point three two nine miles east-south-east from our destination. We will come within visual range in an estimated sixteen hours and twenty-seven minutes, based on our current speed."

"Acknowledged. Continue on course." Scheer blinked, and gazed out into the endless dark expanse before her. Her contoured steel greaves sliced through the water with ease while she led the other girls calmly, the leader of the pack.

An agitated voice came up over the radio. "Scheer, are we there yet?" Bismarck asked.

Scheer did not even move an inch. "Nein, Frau Bismarck, we are not." she replied, her arms hanging limply at her sides.

"It seems dear Bismarck is getting rather impatient, hum?" A new voice piped up, a playful voice, but one with an edge. "Perhaps she feels uncomfortable sailing with support, hmmm? What do you think, Z1?"

"Frau Seydlitz, I believe in the individual might of each of us. Together, we are unstoppable." Z1 replied firmly and confidently.

"Excellent answer!" Seydlitz strummed her bowstring, gaily playing a silent tune. "Truly we are such, and there is nothing- Ah? What do my little birds have to say? 'No sign of hostile vessels'? Hahaha! It certainly is quiet tonight, isn't it? Perhaps our collective might is too much for them to bear?"

"Nothing that we know of, Frau Seydlitz." A stern voice answered, harsh but not unkind. "Who knows? Perhaps we shall find our match someday."

"Ah, Frau Gneisenau, always the realist. You know, I like the Japanese, they're very polite, but-"

Gneisenau cut her short. "But what? We have yet to encounter them in battle. I hope for your sake, Frau Seydlitz, that our counterparts do not think so low of us." She swept her long, jet-black hair back, stressing the point.

"All ships, maintain radio silence." Scheer interrupted. She knew her ships well - in the next second the bickering stopped, their discipline kicking in. But at the same time she felt the truth of her comrades' words - she, too, knew nothing of the Japanese. All she knew was her own discipline, and the word of her beloved Admiral.
And it was that same sacred word that commanded her to the Far East. She remembered the day well, the day when her Admiral gave that order. It was not in her to question why, but it must have been her expression that gave it away. She remembered the astonishment she felt when her Admiral put his hand on her shoulder and whispered to her success on her journey. In that instant all of her worries about him withered away - she was on his mission, and she would finish it - no matter what.

Tirpitz chan
11-04-2014, 10:02 AM
Very nice, i especially like the Office Horror one. Really short, though..

CaioDuilio
11-04-2014, 10:07 AM
@AdmiralYamamoto (http://www.himeuta.net/members/admiralyamamoto/)

I never had a stomach for longer stories, so I decided to write shorter ones in quicker succession to make up for it. However, that might change, with National Novel Writing Month on...

Speaking of longer stories, here's a new one. Enjoy!

[201] THE ITALIAN JOB

The derisive screech of the nesting seagulls could be heard as the sun set over the brilliant Mediterranean, its rays casting a warm glow over the whitewashed buildings of the harbour. A solitary man stood at one of the large bay windows that adorned the villa at the marina forefront, the buttons of his navy blue coat gleaming in the orange glow.

"Ammiraglio? Where are you, Ammiraglio?" A high-pitched voice sang, echoing through the house.

"I'm here, Fiume!" the Ammiraglio called. He strode away from the windows and sidled behind his study desk, pretending to check his papers. In a brief moment Fiume burst in, dressed in her usual striped dress and long white socks.

"You called, sir?" Fiume stopped in front of his desk, on her tiptoes. The Ammiraglio surveyed her for a moment, considering the task at hand. In a quick decision he pushed all misgivings out and prepared himself to deliver the task.

"I've been reading of your work in the field, Fiume," he began. It was a crafty start, and already he could see the anticipation light up in her eyes. "And so far it's been very good. I hope that you and your colleagues will be able to complete this task I have for you."

Fiume blushed, embarrassed by the compliment. "Oh, well, Ammiraglio, thank you very much, but it was really thanks to everyone else..." She petered off, unable to finish.

The Ammiraglio, however, didn't seem to notice. He smiled indulgently and ploughed on. "For this task, you'll be taking a full battle squadron," Suddenly he stiffened, becoming businesslike. "You'll have Impero, Aquila, and the other three will be your choice. Do you understand?"

Fiume's head span. A battle squadron? With Impero as second, not as flagship? What was the meaning of this?

"Sir...? Am I to be flagship for this task?" she asked, dreading the answer.

"Yes, you are," the Ammiraglio shuffled his papers, but saw her growing discomfort. In a swift movement he got up and around the desk, and held Fiume close to comfort her. "I know, I know, it's a big responsibility, but you'll be fine, okay?"

He held her for a moment, and then broke the embrace. "You must be wondering why you're commanding this squadron. Let me fill you in." He went back behind the desk and pulled out a large precise map of the world. Laying it flat on his desk he pointed to the southern Atlantic. "We first received reports from our Atlantic outposts of a particularly large German squadron heading in a south-westerly direction, presumably headed for Japan."

Fiume nodded and the Ammiraglio continued. "I don't know why they're headed for Japan, but our spies at Kriegsmarine HQ know nothing of it. Of course, the officials won't tell us a thing about it. That's why I'm sending you out with the best of our fleet. Go to Japan. Find out what the might of the Kriegsmarine is doing there."

A silence followed as Fiume digested the enormity of the task at hand. Find the Kriegsmarine? In the Pacific? It was all a little much to bear. At best Fiume managed a tiny nod to show she had understood.

The Ammiraglio considered her for a moment, and then looked down at the map. "The journey will be long, but I am sure that you will be able to make the best of it. Come back here tomorrow when you've picked your squadron, and I'll handle the rest."

Fiume hesitated for a second and quickly glanced at the Ammiraglio, but he was already engrossed in his paperwork. With leaden feet she walked out, her mind filled with nothing but confused thoughts. She stepped out of the villa and into the star-lit avenue. As she walked back to the dormitories she pondered over whom to bring for the mission.

Her mind ran clear and sharp, picking out the best options in the face of the task. I’ve got Impero and Aquila, she thought to herself, and I have three others. Who shall they be? She thought of her own sisters, Zara and the rest – but she knew that she would have to be fast to catch the German fleet. She decided on Bolzano, the speediest of the Trento sisters. Yes. She would do nicely.

She thought of Guissano, d’Aosta, and Montecuccoli, the light cruisers – but dismissed them, thinking of their better employment at home. The submarines were all over the world, and she was sure that none of them were still left in port.

That left the destroyers. Many of them had never seen waters beyond the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and Fiume thought of Oriani and Aviere, who had always dreamed the most of seeing the rest of the world. She imagined their excitement at the news, and with that thought knew that they would rise up to the challenge with enthusiasm.

The dormitory corridor was empty as she made her way to her room but halfway down Zara stepped out of her room, arms folded, a mask of jealousy thinly disguised on her aquiline features. Fiume stopped and looked up at her sister.

“So, what did the Ammiraglio want?” Zara asked casually, but there was a biting edge to her tone that Fiume sensed, and she chose her words carefully.

“Nothing much, some administrative duties, that’s all-” But it was clear that Zara did not believe a single word of it – in a single fluid motion she pushed Fiume against the wall and pinned her against it with one hand.

“You lie! You’ve been getting intimate with my dear Ammiraglio, haven’t you?” Zara angrily snarled, her eyes flaring.

“I-I don’t know what you mean, sorella,” Fiume hastily responded. “The Ammiraglio just sent for me, we discussed a few things, and-” With a roar of fury and passion Zara took Fiume by the shoulders and lifted her off the floor, shaking her like a ragdoll.

“Tell me! What did you and he talk about? I demand to-” Zara couldn’t quite finish her demand as she made an odd gagging sound and suddenly released Fiume. She backed away, and Fiume could see the grey-haired Cavour, in dorm monitor uniform, holding a half-full syringe of green liquid.

Zara collapsed on the floor and Cavour looked down her, without emotion. “No loud noises after nine, Zara. I thought you, of all the girls, should know that.” She turned to Fiume, who was catching her breath. “And you, Fiume, you should be in your room now. Go, and don’t let me catch you outside after nine again.” Cavour smiled thinly, and turned to drag Zara back into her room.

Fiume didn’t need a second telling. She hurried into her room, and as she closed the door she could hear gentle laughter and the soft scraping of a body being dragged on carpet.

~

Four hectic days later, after much preparation, Fiume stood on the marina pier, surrounded by her companions for the mission – Impero, shocking red hair bobbing in the breeze, lithe and strong; Aquila, with her great arbalest and flight deck pavise, standing tall in the sun; and Bolzano with her multitude of batteries and turrets, playing with the two little destroyers, Oriani and Aviere, who ran rings around Bolzano in their excitement.

To farewell them the Ammiraglio was there – next to him the stunning blonde of a battleship Littorio stood, martial and dignified. Off on the quay stood Guissano, Barbarico, and a number of the little destroyer girls frantically waving streamers in the usual effusive farewell.

“Pacific Squadron, reporting for duty, sir!” Fiume stepped forward and saluted, her rigid fingers barely brushing against the visor of her cap.

The Ammiraglio returned the salute, and so did Littorio. As the hands came down the Ammiraglio and Fiume stepped forward to shake hands, as a sign of good fortune – but the Ammiraglio surprised everyone by kneeling on one knee and coming down to her level.

“Fiume, I wish the very best of luck for your mission. May God look upon your work and smile,” the Ammiraglio murmured to her. It was an unusual farewell, but Fiume understood its meaning. She nodded once in acknowledgement – and the Ammiraglio smiled and stood up straight. On the quay the throng cheered louder, and behind him Littorio smiled as well, radiating approval.

Fiume stepped away, and pivoted to face the assembled squadron. “Pacific Squadron, let’s go!” she shouted, taking a big leap into the harbour. The other girls jumped in after her, and with a great roar they steamed off, streaking past the harbour lighthouse and into the blue Mediterranean. The race was on!

[102] NO REST FOR THE COMMANDER

The sweet strains of a mourning violin floated over the humid air, playing a melody foreign to the expansive jungle that loomed at the edge of the beach. The breeze carried the melancholy whine with its breath, and up above the darkened clouds stood still, as if the heavens were listening as well.

Gneisenau finished with a neat flourish and the little audience clapped with delight. She bowed, and sat down on the fine sand, her violin and bow resting beside her.

“Frau Gneisenau, that was a splendid performance!” Seydlitz squealed, jumping on the unwary Gneisenau in a sudden embrace. Z1 was a little more restrained, and beamed as Gneisenau detached herself from the adoring Seydlitz.

“Ah, that song brought back memories of home,” Bismarck mused, eyes closed in reminiscence. She leant back, but then suddenly swatted around her. “If it weren’t for these damn mosquitoes, that is.”

“You liked it, Frau Bismarck?” Gneisenau enquired, as the effusive Seydlitz now played with Z1. She had always admired the great Bismarck and her reputation as the symbol of the Kriegsmarine. Even now, she felt a little twinge in her heart as Bismarck praised her skill.

Bismarck nodded. “I always have, Frau Gneisenau. Your skill with the violin is undoubtedly the finest in the service,” she replied, grinning. “Of home and of battle, there is none better.”

Gneisenau blushed and turned away, trying to suppress her emotions. She tried to look nonchalant, tuning her violin strings, but she only managed to clumsily drop it. Bismarck, blissfully unaware of Gneisenau’s emotions, turned to look at the remaining two figures still standing on the beach, Scheer and Konigsberg.

“I wonder how long they are going to stand there? “ Bismarck wondered aloud. She yawned and lay back, settling in a comfortable position. “I am going to take a nap now. Wake me up when they finish, Frau Gneisenau.” She placed her cap down and cuddled the sand, and within minutes she was asleep.

Off near the water’s edge Scheer gazed out at the sea, still in her battle gear with her main batteries pointing down. Just off to the side stood the light cruiser Konigsberg, dressed in a navy pea jacket and short-hem dress, with cropped blonde hair and rimmed glasses. She faithfully kept the silence as the impassive Scheer studied the dark rolling sea.

Regarded as the dark horse of the Kriegsmarine, Scheer was of the prestigious Deutschland-class armoured cruiser, the unique design of which prompted some to call it the “pocket battleship” class. With her unparalleled speed and armament she was known as a terror of the Atlantic, a fearsome raider which took an entire British cruiser squadron to force its surrender.

In Kiel and Hamburg she was known as a cold and somewhat ruthless girl, whose personal emotions never showed. While spoken of in hushed tones at base she was widely respected as an efficient commander and a brilliant fighter, and her status was enhanced by her natural beauty – with carefully kept long hair and unblemished complexion she was a favourite of the Admiral, who (many rumoured) had a soft spot for her.

And now she stood on the sandy beach of an unnamed island in the Pacific, on the other side of the world from her home. Scheer would never think of home while out on missions, believing that reminiscence would hinder her concentration. Instead she recollected and pondered the little information she had been given about their contact, the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Even though they were once allies, intelligence about them was scarce. The archives in Wilhelmshaven had little to say on the subject of their former allies. Most active communications had been cut with the Abyssal invasions a decade ago, and nowadays every navy in the world was cut off from one another.

For most people the sea rolled quietly, the waves lapping gently under the dark sky. Not Scheer. With the eyes of a falcon she peered into the solid darkness, undaunted.

“Konigsberg, recent Abyssal movements?”

Konigsberg snapped to attention and read from her notes. “Frau Scheer, immediate radar reports and graviton readings indicate two Abyssal groups in the outer immediate area. Tidal shift reports indicate positions of 330 and 265 respectively. Enemy strength is believed to be moderate, suggesting a lack of enemy awareness to our position.”

Crossing her arms Scheer contemplated the intelligence, formulating a plan to evade the Abyssal patrols. Compared to her experiences the Abyssal forces here had been easy, too easy. Perhaps something more sinister, more monstrous awaited them.

She turned to the small group on the beach. Bismarck still napped, while Gneisenau amusedly watched Seydlitz chasing the cackling Z1. Scheer registered no emotion as she watched the homely scene. A mission was still a mission, and to her a break was nothing more than a necessity for others.

“Frau Seydlitz!” she called. In an instant Seydlitz, who had been playfully chasing Z1, abruptly skid to a halt and turned towards her. In a sulky saunter she made her way to Scheer.

“Yes, Frau Scheer? You called?” Seydlitz came to a halt before Scheer, her face in a wreath of frowns.

“Send out the reconnaissance planes. We need conclusive aerial intelligence of the immediate area. Do you understand?”

“Aff-irm-at-ive, Frau Scheer.” Seydlitz turned about and trudged back to the group. Picking up her heavy crossbow she wound up the iron cranequin and placed a jet-black bolt into the groove. Raising the contraption into the air Seydlitz released the catch and the bolt whistled high into the night sky, disappearing in the inky void.

The drone of tiny radial engines filled the air for a short moment, fading away into the distance. “There, it is done. They will be back in half an hour, if the weather permits….” She turned to Scheer, who had resumed her silent staring contest with the sea. Seydlitz sighed, and turned back to the group. “Frau Scheer is no fun at all, eh?”

“You cannot complain, you know what she is like. Let her be. Maybe our encounter with Nippon will change her,” Gneisenau mused, idly plucking a violin string. “Hopefully for the better…”

“I guess you are right, Frau Gneisenau,” Seydlitz turned away and looked back at Scheer, still staring at the sea. After a moment of contemplation she brightened, and turned to the unsuspecting Z1 who sat on the sand, building up a heap. “On the other hand, however….” With a playful roar she pounced on the startled Z1, who kicked up the heap of sand in her surprise.

“Got you, Z1!” Seydlitz squealed, holding the squirming destroyer close to her. Z1 struggled with all her might but in a moment collapsed on the sand, crying with laughter – Seydlitz was tickling her, having at last found her weak spot.

“Hahahaha! Stop it, Frau Seydlitz, that tickles!” Gneisenau looked on the little scene with half a smile, a little amused at the proceedings. Beside her Bismarck slept contentedly, undisturbed.

~

Over the dark seas three buzzing specks swept across the murky sky, relentlessly scanning the surface. They flew in a loose formation, covering the endless expanse.

A blinding light pierced the darkness, its beam cutting through the night sky like a slash of the black canvas, exposing the white underneath. In an instant one of the little black planes erupted into crimson flames, the light picking it off with pinpoint accuracy.

Without further prompting the other two veered away, racing back into the darkness, but the thunder of guns shattered the silence, filling the air with the resounding blast of cannon and rattle of machine-guns. Another scout erupted like a blowtorch and fell in flames into the void. The last of the three managed to escape the storm of flak and tracers, and in an instant, like a magician’s cloak, the thunder ceased as abruptly as it had started.

The lone plane shook its wings and gunned the throttle, hurtling into the night sky. While it sped out of the area its cameras whirred and developed the images – images of a terror that a most perceptive cruiser had anticipated.

CaioDuilio
11-13-2014, 10:40 PM
No feedback? This is making me rather nervous. Well, anyway, here's a new one.

[004] THE SPY

Footfalls mingled with the crackling sound of leaves underfoot as a solitary figure walked on the carpet of yellow leaves that covered the avenue. Misty sunlight threw the clear-cut shadows of the great maples and oaks into solid relief. A breeze filtered through the whispering trees, whispers that murmured the secrets of centuries past and present.
Whispers, of course, that a wandering Kirishima could not and did not wish to decipher. The gentle whispers meant little to her, and she continued on her way. Autumn was in full swing and the silence that the melancholic season brought with it was palpable, unbroken by the multitude of murmurs that swept through the park.
At last, she came to the spot she was looking for – a great oak with its roots forming almost unnatural niches and alcoves. Many carefree parties of laughter and merriment had been held here, games of hide-and-seek and treasure hunts. But now in the grip of autumn the great tree stood silent – only the wind carried echoes of those days.
Kirishima looked around her, checking left and right for anyone following. Satisfied, she walked around the tree, her eyes searching the roots. It didn’t take long; halfway around it she found Haruna sitting in one of the smaller alcoves, waiting expectantly, the remains of a light repast beside her.
“You weren’t followed?”
“No, Haruna-sama. I did my usual checks, as requested,” Getting onto all fours Kirishima crawled over to Haruna, who relaxed and, giggling softly, let her gently crawl over her until their faces were inches away.
“I guess it’s been rather boring lately, hmmm?” Kirishima softly whispered, adjusting her glasses idly.
“Hard to say. The Admiral isn’t letting slip much,” Haruna coolly answered. “I, on the other hand…”
Kirishima smiled. “I know.” Without any more prompting she leaned in close, and nothing more could be said.

In a leaf pile a little way from the great oak the little scene reflected on the polished glass of a camera, hidden craftily amongst the leaves. Its lens captured every passionate movement, every little shift of the jumble of white robes.
Inside the leaf pile the obtrusive spy studied the images, feeling a little thrill of daring as the camera clicked again – another delicious little picture to add the files. She wiped a bead of sweat off her brow – even in the cool shade of the trees the interior of the leaf-pile was baking – she felt like a chicken in an oven.
At last the little scene relaxed and stilled. The spy detached the camera from the tripod and flipped through the images, contemplating each picture’s caption. She thought of the possible headlines for the little affair – Sisterly Love: a secret affair? Trysts under the trees? Or something else? The spy smiled to herself as she carefully extricated herself from the heap, taking care not to make too much noise. The evidence was sown, and the seeds of a scandalous story began to sprout.

The viscous liquid in the pot bubbled to a boil while a merrily humming Kaga stood by, chopping up an assortment of vegetables. In a singular flash of bright steel the chunks flew into the pot.
The stew turned from blood red to a murky brown almost immediately. She peered at the mixture, breathing in the fragrant spices.
“Good enough,” Kaga murmured to herself. “Maybe a bit more fuel…” Idly her hand found the fuel can and raised it up to the rim.
“Ka-ga-senpai! What are you making today?” With an abrupt shock Kaga felt the can slip from her fingers. The iron can clattered on the tiles, its contents oozing out on the polished surface. Quickly and decisively Kaga whipped her bow up and deftly notched a green-feathered arrow. She looked down the arrow and saw Ikazuchi, frozen in her tracks.
Oil continued to leak from the can as Kaga stood her ground, bow drawn and tensed while Ikazuchi looked at the arrow, her expression melting from a frozen frieze of a joker into a face of pure fright.
Kaga was the first to break the pregnant silence. “Ikazuchi. Why are you here?” she asked in a flat monotone.
“Aha-ha-ha-ha, me? I was just checking if….” Her voice shook and trailed away as she tried to edge towards the door.
Kaga’s grip on the bow tightened. “Now you make this mess,” She glanced down at the spreading puddle of oil. “And now you clean it up.”
“M-me? B-but I have to go and see- Eeeek!” Ikazuchi jumped hurriedly out of the way as Kaga loosed the arrow, which flew and exploded in a great burst of flames against the wall. Ikazuchi felt the force of the blast and tripped backwards, landing hard on the tiles.
“Ouchy…” As she nursed the spreading bruise on her thigh, Ikazuchi looked up and saw Kaga looming over her, bow at her side. “Clean up the mess,” she said, throwing down a large sponge. “Or you won’t be getting any dinner tonight.”
“Yes, Kaga-senpai…” Ikazuchi ruefully took up the sponge and began mopping up.

Behind her, however, another little camera watched the whole spectacle from the safety of a dusty niche in the spice rack. Its tiny lens contracted and expanded, covering all the movements and gestures.
In the adjacent room the same conniving spy sat straight in her chair, watching the replay of the awkward scene. With a rapid click she paused, tapped a few keys, and another juicy image saved itself into a folder. The spy closed the live feed and leant back, smiling to herself. And there, she thought to herself, is another little story all sewn up.
She idly shifted over to another desk, where several photos and pieces of print lay pinned and arranged over a cork board. Scrutinising the layout, she moved the pieces around, edging some into the more obscure columns and others into prominence. With a flourish she placed the last item on the board and grinned, admiring her own handiwork.
Tomorrow’s going to be a hot day, she thought, and it thrilled her to think of the little outrages her small but explosive paper was about to cause.

Tea
11-14-2014, 01:13 AM
You have a good mind-eye for imagery, I like it! I'll have to keep an eye on this~
Keep writing short pieces that are connected. Personally I do the same, even when I'm wanting to write something longer, and I find it much more enjoyable than trying to flesh out some full-size text all at once.

CaioDuilio
11-18-2014, 04:18 AM
@Tea (http://www.himeuta.net/members/tea/) Thanks for the tip. For writing like this I always stick to my creed - if the reader can't follow the text like a movie, it's not worth writing at all. Also, d'you reckon I should upload these stories onto the public domain? Like on a fanfic website or whatever.

Sorry about the delay for this one. I know it's still within the limits I've set, but considering the length of this one (and the content, funnily enough) I don't think I can excuse withholding this one. Enjoy!

[301] A MATTER OVER TEA

A single bowstring twanged three times in quick succession, and a speedy little trio of navy-blue arrows whistled off to their targets. The fine whistle became a low drone, followed by a heavy rumble and splash as the little blue Fairey Swordfish dropped their loads.
An eruption of water broke the calm waters, shattering the calm sounds of the undisturbed sea. Another explosion followed, then another, then another. In a high soaring arc the sodden remains of the unfortunate practice dummy flew into the air and smartly landed at the feet of a most remarkable girl.
The girl was dressed in a soft white sleeveless tunic with a thin red cross emblazoned on it. The tunic reached down just halfway down her thighs, where she wore pure black stockings covered by finely wrought steel greaves that shone in the misty sun; she wielded a great ash longbow that stood nearly twice her height, and carried a simple leather quiver on her leg that held a mixture of navy-blue and mottled brown arrows. On her arm a long grey flight deck shield was strapped, studded with thin spikes of antennae. There was no cap or hat to adorn her long brown hair, save for a single white-gold hairpin.
Her name was Ark Royal.
Lowering her longbow, she studied the remains of the dummy, prodding it around with her sandalled feet. The soaked dummy squelched and oozed seawater onto the pier under her foot. Satisfied with the damage done she drew another arrow from her hip quiver and notched it. In a fluid motion she drew the bow with all her might – aiming into the sky she let it fly. It soared into the sky, disappearing into the light mist.
Ark Royal lowered her bow and squinted at the sky. As she concentrated she sensed a little movement behind her, and diverting her attention away from the flight of her fighters she saw the graceful form of the battleship Queen Elizabeth strolling towards her.
Befitting her name and relation the Queen Elizabeth was dressed in a regal crinoline dress and that extended all the way to her feet. Unlike her namesake however, she bore a brace of four twin turrets that hung in pairs below her hips. Her solid gold tiara was outfitted with various antennae and unlike the other younger battleships one could see the faint lines of age etched on her face, the result of a colourful career back in the glory days.
Ark Royal came swiftly to attention and saluted smartly, which Queen Elizabeth acknowledged with a little curtsey.
“Milady, what brings you here? Not bad news, I hope.” Ark Royal slung her bow over her shoulder, standing at ease as the stately battleship stepped forward.
“Oh no, my dear, I was merely going to observe until you had finished. But it seems you were a bit quick for me,” Queen Elizabeth replied. She looked straight at Ark Royal, smiling serenely.
“Was I, milady?” Ark Royal replied tentatively. She was curious as to what the old battleship had in mind.
“Not as much as you would think, dear,” Elizabeth, being as old as she was, was affectionately known as the fairy godmother of the fleet. Her mannerisms helped cement that image. “But I would ask you now, dear Ark, are you done right now?”
Ark Royal relaxed, the kindly tone soothing her anxiety. “Yes, milady.”
“Good. I would like to talk to you about some issues of a more… sensitive nature. Would you care to join me for afternoon tea today?”
Ark Royal started, astonished by the invitation. She had never been to a private tea break with a battleship, let alone with one of the most venerable of the fleet. “I… I don’t know what to say, milady,” she managed.
“I’m sure you’ll be fine. It’ll be just you, me and another guest who I’ve also asked to come. We’ll have it in my private garden,” she added, but then paused as Ark Royal gave another little start. She sensed her discomfort at the idea. “I understand you’re a little surprised at this request, and I feel you must know that you are not obliged in any way-“
“No, no, milady, it’s just that... it’s a bit strange to me,” Ark Royal interrupted, her voice trailing away.
Elizabeth laughed softly. “I’m sure you will be fine,” she repeated to the nervous girl before her. She turned to leave. “Four o’clock, my garden, dear.”

Ark fidgeted nervously, waiting for the arrival of the host. She sat in an exquisite iron latticework chair, one of three around an equally exquisite table – all around her flowers and plants of every hue were arranged in neat beds, each colour to its own. A few aged and tall trees and hedges lined the perimeter, giving some natural cover against any prying eyes.
On the dot at four Queen Elizabeth stepped out of the humble two-storey slate-roofed cottage that she lived in, accompanied by the white-haired Dido in a maid’s dress bearing an amber-transparent teapot and delicate bone-china teacups.
Ark Royal hastily stood and bowed and Elizabeth acknowledged it with a curt nod. The two sat down while Dido set down the teapot and cups. She poured out three cups with a collected air, bowed and retreated.
The old battleship took her cup without delay and sipped – Ark did the same, her eyes watching Elizabeth closely, while Elizabeth concentrated only on the drink. There was a marked tension in the air, and neither of them sat at ease. But for two different reasons entirely.
Both of them set down their cups with a painless tinkle – while Queen Elizabeth savoured the tea Ark Royal was too anxious to notice, perhaps a little overly so.
“A splendid blend, don’t you think?” Queen Elizabeth observed airily, her words cutting through the ice cleanly.
“Ah, really? I’ve never had much…” Ark was going to voice her ignorance on tea, but her nerve failed as Elizabeth’s leafy-green eyes bored into her. Instead she hurriedly took another sip of her tea. It was fruity, with a layer of sweet apple and a drop of lemon, but it felt dry down her throat.
Luckily for her Queen Elizabeth seemed not to notice – her attention shifted to the man who now strode towards the little party, the chest of his white linen coat positively shining with medals. He walked with a confident step, taking on the air of a man who was in full control of every aspect of his life. Three gold rings were sewn into the cuff of his jacket, and the visor of his peaked cap gleamed in the bright afternoon sun.
Both Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth rose, Ark recognizing the man instantly. Numb with anxiety she shakily saluted as Vice Admiral Holles, commander of the very fleet Ark belonged to, approached. He casually threw up his own, and when the hands came down all of them were seated.
“Ah, tea!” Holles immediately raised his cup and drank with a little gusto. “Don’t know what I’d do without it. Ah, that’s better!” Setting down the now-half-empty cup with a loud clatter he drew himself in, settling comfortably in his chair.
“I am glad, sir, you could join us today,” Queen Elizabeth began, as Dido approached again, this time bringing sandwiches and cake. As the cruiser-maid retreated, Holles leaned in and took one quickly. A flicker of annoyance crossed Queen Elizabeth’s face, but she continued. “As requested, I brought Ark Royal with me today.”
As requested? Ark Royal repeated in her mind. So this was what this tea break was for!
Holles finished the sandwich quickly. “Ah yes, Ark Royal, so glad to see you today. Of course,” with a hurried wipe with a napkin he brushed his face clean of crumbs, “you are probably wondering why I have sent for you in such a roundabout manner. The answer is simple.” Holles cleared his throat and leaned forward, hands clasped.
“We’re sending you to the Far East.”
For a moment the words didn’t sink in with Ark Royal. Far East? What the hell, Admiral? Ark had only seen service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean – but the Pacific? The idea had never crossed her mind. She glanced quickly at Queen Elizabeth, but the battleship’s face was neutral, unassuming. Then she looked back at Holles, who seemed almost nonchalant about the fact.
“I know this must be quite the shock to you. Nevertheless it is the decision of the Admiralty and it is in our mutual interest that the orders are carried out.” Holles’s voice was stern now, full of authority. “This mission is of the utmost urgency and we feel,” he continued, looking straight at Ark Royal, “that you are best suited for this task.”
Ark Royal was bewildered. “I-I see, Admiral….” She stammered. Then a damning question struck her. “Sir,” she asked, “why exactly have I been chosen?”
“We feel it is time to increase our presence in the Pacific,” said Holles vaguely, “the Admiralty no longer feels that our holdings in Asia are adequately defended. Thus we have come to this decision.”
Ark Royal scoffed to herself on hearing this. Inadequately defended? Bollocks. She knew Singapore was supported and surrounded by a veritable armada of battleships and many other ships, and Australia was defended likewise. Yet as her inner voices conflicted with each other, a single, oddly happy thought came up. In an instant the little voices were quelled and quietened – now she faced Holles with a new resolve.
Holles surveyed the girl as she struggled to come to terms with the task. At last she looked at him, and he could see that her mind was set. At last she nodded – and with that confirmation he hastily conveyed the rest of the details.
“Of course, you won’t be going alone – right now a list is being drawn up of candidates for this posting. You will be notified of the final selection when it is complete. Once preparations are complete, you will all be briefed on the operation.”
“And when will that be, sir?” Ark asked.
“Two weeks from now.”
Ark sat back and pondered for a bit.
“Who will take over as head of Fleet Air Arm while I’m away?” she asked.
“We’ve yet to decide on that,” Queen Elizabeth answered, before Holles could open his mouth, “but I think the general consensus would not mind Illustrious taking over when you leave.”
Another point assuaged. There were more questions coming from all sides – operational details, plans, and preparation talk – as the meal winded down. Soon the plates were empty and the teapot drained, and the sun lingered just over the horizon. The little party dispersed, each striding to their own home. There was laughter and merriment on the village roads, in the cottages and in the many commons that dotted the landscape. The night settled slowly, as if the many ship-girls that lived in the villages around the base wished its prolonging.
But on this night a single house was silent.
It was a silence that foreboded and began a most extraordinary series of events. A series of events which would alter the very course of history irreparably.

Impstar_Deuce
11-22-2014, 12:54 AM
Ooh, this is getting good! Reminds me that I need to get my rear in gear on my own Kancolle fanfic. :)

So everyone else's kanmusu are headed for Japan eh? I hope the USN girls will be coing too.

CaioDuilio
11-23-2014, 10:34 AM
@Impstar_Deuce (http://www.himeuta.net/members/impstar_deuce/) Glad that you like it! I've got a plot progression plan already in place, and all I can tell you is that the USN might make an appearance in a couple of weeks - keep your eyes peeled!

Anyway, here we turn back to the adventures of the Regia Marina kanmusu. Enjoy!

**NEW** [202] AN UNEXPECTED RENDEVOUS

There was very little bruising – nothing a little rest out of the battle wouldn’t fix. Fiume examined the weeping Oriani a little closer – yes, the shell had drawn blood. A thin red line trickled from under the bandana the girl wore.
“You’re going to be alright, Oriani,” Fiume shouted over the din of cannon, “just a little blood – your bandana should take care of it.”
Oriani looked up, her face wet with tears but grinning all the while. “Thanks, Fiume.”
“Are you alright to sit out of this one?”
“I reckon so.”
As Oriani limped off the battlefield with Aviere, Fiume turned her attention back to the battle. She observed Impero blasting broadside after broadside, looking somewhat bored; Aquila crouching down behind her pavise, reloading her arbalest while shells glanced off the steel shield; and Bolzano, brandishing her chipped sword at the floundering Abyssal ships as she fired her own shots.
Fiume wheeled back into the battle, off towards Impero, whose guns fell silent just as she approached. A column of black smoke trailed upwards in the far distance, and the Abyssals were nowhere to be seen.
“That, I suppose, was the last of them.” Impero airily commented. There was a stench of cordite as the white smoke trailed out of the cooling barrels.
“Just in time, too!” Aquila piped up, “I’m almost out of Macchis! I don’t think I could have fired off another wave.”
“Aw, is that all?” Steel rang against steel as Bolzano sheathed her sword with a flourish. “I could’ve easily pounded another couple of destroyers to dust!”
Fiume smiled – in the week that the Pacific Squadron had been at sea the days had been full of pranks, incident and of course, battles. They were just about to exit the Red Sea when they had come down like wolves on an unsuspecting pack of Abyssal destroyers.
“Was that too easy? Well, never mind, we’ve still got a long way ahead of us. Come on, let’s-“
“Miss, miss!” Aviere interrupted, still supporting her wounded charge. “What about Oriani?”
“Oh!” Fiume had nearly forgotten about their single casualty. “I guess we’ll have to find a safe cove to repair,” she said. “In the meantime, though-“
She moved next to the wounded destroyer and with all her might lifted Oriani into her arms. “This’ll have to do,” Fiume murmured, half to the sniffling Oriani and half to herself. “Squadron, move out!”
But the search for a quiet harbour eluded the girls’ search – not even the far-seeing eyes of Aquila’s spotters could pick out a haven free from the flocks of Abyssal ships that guarded the shoreline. Exasperated, tired, and demoralized, the squadron sailed on, passing the Gulf, morale slipping by the hour. It came to a point where even the cheerful and bombastic Bolzano was dragging her feet, muttering curses under her breath. Fiume herself was beginning to feel the weight of the incumbent destroyer, who had settled into a peaceful nap.
“God, this is utterly hopeless! If we don’t find a harbour soon, we’ll be forced to sail by night!” Fiume exclaimed at one point, as the sun drew a bloody line across the horizon.
There was a collective groan from the rest of the ships. Desperation gripped Fiume as the sky rapidly darkened, gold fading into red, and red fading into darker blue…
Then, quite unexpectedly, a voice could be heard.
“Surfacing, diving, surfacing, diving, ho hum, it’s all so slow,” the voice lazily intoned.
A resounding chorus of ratchets and clicks filled the air as every gun on every ship of the dispirited squadron sprang into life, pointing in every direction.
“Who’s there?” Fiume called into the fading light.
“Who are you? Friend or beast? Wait, you’re no beast, you can talk!”
A small light shone from the dim sea – then a head of a teenage girl appeared, a hand next to her holding a torch pointed straight at them.
“Hold on, those colours… you wouldn’t happen to be from headquarters, would you?”
Fiume didn’t answer. She was too stunned to do so, but Impero spoke for her.
“Yes, we’re the newly-formed Pacific Squadron. I’m Impero,” she pointed to herself; “that’s Aquila-” the great carrier bowed her head; “Bolzano, Aviere, Oriani-” the other three nodded as well; “and our flagship, Fiume,” she finished. Fiume managed a weak smile.
“My comrades! Where are my manners? I’m Torricelli,” the girl rose to a sitting position on the sea surface, surveying the other ships with her milky-blue eyes. “I’m of the Brin-class submarines; it is a pleasure to meet you all. But what are my fellow comrades doing so far from home?”
Fiume found the strength to speak at last. “We need help,” she implored, “We don’t know anything of these waters aside from the maps we’ve studied. We need a safe harbour to encamp for tonight, and little Oriani here is hurt.” Fiume nodded down at the weary destroyer in her arms.
Torricelli beamed. “Ah, how could I refuse my comrades safe harbour? Come with me! I shall lead you to safety!”

Torricelli’s harbour turned out to be not very far off at all. Sailing in tight formation to the east Torricelli led them to a small island surrounded by thick mangroves. Through a small gap in the swamp the ships sailed – only to be greeted by an astonishing sight.
The path widened and opened into a large, sheltered lagoon with a comfortable strip of beach lining the far side. A few sheds of corrugated iron and jungle wood littered the centre of the beach, but aside from that the place was pristine.
The Pacific Squadron sailed into the lagoon gratefully, the cheerful Torricelli chatting with Aquila and Impero, while Bolzano and the destroyers raced for the shore, revelling in the soft sand that felt as good as their beds at home. Fiume sailed alone, halfway to the shore but just ahead of Torricelli and the rest.
She moved onto the shore and immediately collapsed onto the sand. Rolling in the soft sand she sighed, and secretly wished to lie there forever. The sky darkened to the deepest black at last – only the kerosene lamps scattered around the beach gave any light. She could see the faint outline of the submarine that had saved them all move towards a depression on the beach, a sort of shallow pit.
There was crackling of crumbling branches and a flicker of orange flame – a flame that illuminated the shadows of everyone, throwing them into harsh relief.
They all moved towards the fire, drawn to its warmth, warmth scarcely found in the cold night of the Indian Ocean. In almost no time at all the two little destroyers had slumped onto the sand, succumbing to sleep at last – Bolzano followed them a little while after.
Fiume watched her tired squadron slowly descend into slumber, trying her hardest to keep her eyes wide open. She saw Impero recline and cuddle close to the merrily-dancing flames, Aquila propping up her shield as a makeshift shelter and resting under the odd tent; before collapsing herself – but as she slipped into sleep she could hear the fruity voice of the fire-stoking Torricelli.
“It’s all so nice to have companions after this time, isn’t it? So nice indeed…”
Fiume tried to make sense of the submariner’s remark, but like the waves’ gentle but relentless march her fatigue finally caught up with her. She sank onto the sand, fast asleep.

Update time! Oh look, a battle! Enjoy!

**NEW** [103] BATTLE OF DYABA ATOLL

Of the many islands of the Pacific, many have stood witness to the furious battles between Abyssal and ship-girls, and often many of them are left with lingering scars of battle. But there are some islands deemed insignificant to both sides – islands that have flourished under neglect, teeming with rare flora and fauna.
One of these islands is the tiny atoll of Dyaba. With its rare speckled lorikeets and the abundance of tortoises that lay their eggs in its pristine beaches, a stranger to these shores would be perfectly content to sit at the base of its tall palm trees and admire the perfect symphony of tropical wildlife.
But not for the girls that now approached it.
“Bismarck, take Z1 with you and protect our right flank. Seydlitz, cover them with fighters.” Crisp orders came over the radio as Admiral Scheer manoeuvred into position, keeping in line with the island but maintaining within visual range of Bismarck. Gneisenau followed her as they slowed to a stop abreast of the island.
“Bismarck, in position!”
“Z1, in position!”
Scheer lifted her binoculars and looked out. She scanned the horizon carefully, but saw nothing but varying shades of blue.
The now-cool voice of the carrier came through. “Seydlitz reporting: fighters dispatched.”
A low drone could be heard far above as several little yellow-spinners darted just below the low cloud. Scheer regarded them with interest – the much-vaunted Bf109Ts were now being deployed for the first time in the Pacific. It felt oddly emotional seeing both air power alongside the sea power that the homeland prided itself on. Scheer let the emotion linger, then promptly extinguished it and returned her attention to the battlefield.
“Seydlitz again! Enemy fleet spotted four degrees portside, distance of forty-two! Estimated time of- oh my!” Seydlitz uttered a little cry. Scheer snatched up her radio mike, but before she could speak she saw what the carrier had seen – the air was suddenly rent with the wails and rumblings of dogfighting aircraft. Little grey darts detached themselves from the tangle and dived, flashing – suddenly the sea all around them became perforated with little splashes.
“All ships, evasive manoeuvres into defensive positions,” Scheer calmly ordered, retreating in echelon behind Dyaba. The rest of the ships fairly zigzagged into similar positions. “Konigsberg, take point on anti-air.”
“Yes, madam.” The cruiser moved up and soon the pale blue sky was riddled with black puffs of flak, the many fighters and bombers weaving around the new clouds, some succumbing to the bursts and bursting into a ragged flame.
Scheer peered at the horizon again through her binoculars. A column of smoke caught her attention, exactly where Seydlitz had mentioned.
Many squadron commanders would have elected to stay put and open fire at the first opportunity – but not Scheer. With the keen mind of a firs-class tactician she saw an opening for a strategy that was seldom used in the service – but it could work better here. The wind seemed to favour the new plan too: as if invisible hands guided it, the breeze shifted, settling against them. Perfect.
“Gneisenau, Bismarck, withdraw in abreast formation to rear positions!”
Bismarck started, taken aback by the command. “Frau Scheer, what are you thinking!? We are in perfect position to-”
Gneisenau cut in. “Frau Scheer, I am not sure if this is-”
“Befehl ist befehl!” Scheer shouted over them, reiterating the command – and upon hearing that angry, cold voice the two warships reversed into position without further demur.
“Leberecht, Konigsberg – evasive patrol!” Without responding the destroyer and cruiser meekly shifted into patrol circles ahead of the atoll, perhaps also taken aback by their commander’s sudden change in temper.
“More fighters, patrol distance seven north of my location,” Scheer ordered. Within minutes a familiar drone could be heard distantly.
Now it was a waiting game. As the sky above the circling ships cleared of strafing and smoking aircraft, an eerie silence descended on the battlefield as the whole squadron nervously awaited the arrival of the enemy fleet.
They didn’t have to wait long. Soon the dim haze of the approaching Abyssal fleet could be seen, growing ominously – and sure enough, the first wave of shells came crashing down, kicking up huge columns of water in their wake.
“Rear formation, train guns at moderate range, but hold your fire! Patrol formation, retreat at equal speed towards rear formation, harassing fire!” The triple elevens mounted on Scheer whirred into life, adjusting themselves to her orders. She could hear the hiss of compressed air as the patrol fired their torpedoes, moving in steady formation towards her, their own little guns popping in reply.
The Abyssal fleet drew closer and closer, and finally Scheer could see them clearly, in all their hallmarks –gaping, red-hot maws, ragged but sturdy armour, and that single common factor: a look and intent of pure evil and malice. A standard fleet of heavy cruisers escorting their flagship, the mother of all of them, a Battleship Princess.
Six eleven-inch guns blasted their first salvo in a furious roar, and Scheer could feel the heat of the blast engulf her, barely assuaging the thirst for battle – but as the fearsome Abyssals drew closer, the threat clear as day, the heat was replaced with her usual coolness, a coolness that foreboded ill of whoever opposed it.
The elevens roared again, and she swiftly followed the retreating destroyer and cruiser back to their defensive line, firing salvo after salvo into the thick of the fleet – but they drew closer still, like hunting wolves pursuing prey.
But what they didn’t know would soon devastate them. Even if the abominations showed no signs of pain or emotion, they would certainly be feeling a lot of the former soon. Scheer smiled to herself. So far, the plan was going exceedingly well. Another chorus of steam hisses announced the launching of another torpedo wave, but it didn’t matter. She glimpsed the Abyssals racing just past Dyaba, and knew that it was all over.
“Patrol, break off! Rear guard, open fire!” Scheer split from Leberecht, throwing herself clear from the battleship’s range and arc. With an almighty blast the two great battleships fired their guns in unison. A mix of eleven and fifteen shells flew true to the unsuspecting fleet, which had no time to evade.
The result was utter devastation. As the heavy smoke cleared, all that was left of the four escorting cruisers was now charred scrap rising to the surface – and the battleship fared no better. Heavily bruised and battered beyond recognition, she stood in the wreckage, as still as a rock. With all but one battery of guns inoperable, she cursed aloud in the guttural cries of the Abyssal language.
Scheer surveyed her from a distance, her eyes betraying no hint of mercy. She pulled her mike in close.
Before Scheer could make the finishing order, the wails of diving Abyssal aircraft alerted her to the last ship in the fleet. But it was a distraction that she quickly realised the importance of. As Seydlitz’s own fighters came down from the sun, Scheer quickly looked at the incumbent Abyssal battleshi, but too late – her last battery of guns was pointed straight at her, and a malignant smile grew on the stricken ship’s ragged face.

Impstar_Deuce
12-09-2014, 11:17 AM
Uh oh, looks like Scheer's in DEEP! Will someone come to save her? The hell is going on back in Japan? Are the French and the Americans going to join the party too? I suppose we'll find out... :kaga_dot:


If you haven't uploaded this to FF.net, I recommend that you should. Also, there's another good site for fanfic here. (http://archiveofourown.org/)

CaioDuilio
12-10-2014, 12:05 PM
Apologies for the long delay - in the midst of fighting personal and domestic issues I've hardly had time to think about, let alone write the 11th installment to this series, and no, the USN isn't in this one (it's another IJN one, to keep in pace with scheduling). It'll be a coin-toss between the Marine Nationale or the United States Navy for the next one.

**NEW** [005] THE OPERATIONS ROOM

A muffled roar echoed through the polished halls, reverberating on every angry note. There was a note of fury in the roar that many of the girls shivered at – they knew who it was, but at the same time they shrugged inwardly. It happened all the time.
Doors slammed open. Some, immune to this behaviour, looked at the glowering Kongou with a frank curiosity: what was it now?
Kongou stared back at the looks of the lazing girls, barely controlling her rage as she searched the room with her furious eyes.
“What is it, Kongou-san?” asked Fuso, not even looking up from her embroidery frame. There was no reply – the rocket had moved off to the next room.
“AOBA! SHOW YOURSELF!” screamed Kongou, as she kicked open the next door. Instead she found Ise, Hyuuga, Nagato and Mutsu sitting around a green-baize table – the soft click of bone tiles could be heard. Not this one. Before any of the battleships could even register surprise Kongou swept away from the doorway, moving on to the next room.
“What the hell was that all about?” Mutsu pondered aloud.
“The usual, probably,” Ise answered as she adjusted her tiles. Play continued as normal.

Kongou raced up the steps, her fury guiding her to every disused room, her vengeful hands scouring every nook and cranny. No sign of the offender.
“WHERE THE **** ARE YOU, AOBA!?”In her blind fury she raced unknowingly into the administrative department, a blur to the sedate workers who ambled quietly in the pristine corridors. Surprised aides scattered as the raging battleship flew through the corridors.
She kicked down another, blurred door, rushing in. She was about to call again, but upon seeing the scene before her, the anger within her died almost in an instant.
Every inch of the hall was covered in ordnance maps, little pins in red, blue and green dotted all over the surface. Before her was the largest table she had ever seen – on it was a complete map of the Pacific region, furnished with little blocks with tiny flags that littered the field. Her fury turned into awe as she gazed at her surroundings. She was so dumbstruck by the sight that she did not notice the Admiral standing at the side of the table.
The Admiral surveyed her with frank curiosity, like the countless others who Kongou had barged in on. “Kongou? Did you need something?” he asked, clearly puzzled.
Kongou felt her face growing hot extremely rapidly as the attention of the assistants in the room turned to her. “Err… I, um, was wondering….” Her nerve failed her as the Admiral’s stern brown eyes bored into her.
“Does this, by any chance, have to do with this morning’s paper?” the Admiral wryly asked, sensing her lingering anger.
Kongou was silent. The Admiral had completely read her thoughts. Her forehead flushed with embarrassment, and her conscience kept her quiet.
The Admiral was silent. After regarding her for a moment he motioned to her with a gesture – slowly, but agonizingly she took a seat next to the door.
To her relief the attention of the assistants quickly shifted back to the giant table. Some bent back over their stations beside the radios; others ran documents to the various radio operators and board plotters. Kongou recognized them as the destroyers and cruisers that she saw the least, the girls (that she had seen) that never went into battle – Nagara’s brood lined one side of the giant map, tenderly shifting the pawns on the board, while the little Mutsuki sisters raced along the upper galleries, laden with stacks of documents.
She saw Oyodo sitting next to the Admiral, clipboard in arm, observing the movement of the pawns and scribbling away; various other destroyers manned the radios and receivers – Hatsushimo, Oboro, Arare, and a whole host of others, pushing pulling, racing, jabbering, ordering, and movements so fluid it appeared as if the entire room was a single machine.
Kongou observed the Admiral nodding as he surveyed the board, the strict and correct Oyodo summarizing the situation for him. Like a magician unfolding his tales his hands swept here and there, pawns moving to his will.
A high-pitched bell chimed – on this signal the paddles were raised aloft, like spears at the salute. To this forest of paddles the Admiral stood up.
“Alright, everyone, we’ll take a fifteen minute break. Dismiss!” With a cacophony of sighs of relief the assistants stood and stretched, the operators and controllers chatting amicably. At last the pawns stood still, and the radios (save for one) fell silent.
Kongou continued to watch, fascinated, as some left the room in twos and threes, while others broke out bottles of water and wrapped snacks. The Admiral exchanged a few last words with Oyodo before the cruiser herself walked out of the room, concentrated on her clipboard. At last, the Admiral was alone. But she needn’t have worried – the Admiral beckoned for her to come forward.
But even before she could get out of her chair a gaggle of girls – Oyodo among them – burst into the room.
“Sir! Sir!” they cried. The Admiral, startled once more, turned his attention to them. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
Oyodo spoke up, breathless but excited. “Recon patrol 7B in sector 4-south has just radioed in – the Battleship Hime has been spotted and engaged by an unknown fleet! They say they’ve also identified formations of unidentified aircraft over its location! What-”
“Admiral!” This time Oboro called from the balcony, the lone radio operator still remaining. “Patrol flagship Sawaka is reporting in – her recon planes have identified the aircraft as possibly Messerschmitt Bf 109s! Whatever could they be?”
Me 109s? The Admiral jogged his memory, back to the early days of his career. Flashbacks came before him, and he remembered his first overseas posting – to Kiel, into the welcoming arms of the Germans. But what were German ships doing so far away from home?
“Kongou, come over here for a moment.” The lithe battleship got out of her chair and, feeling a little sheepish amidst the stares of the little group of assistants (the gaze of Oyodo particularly unsettling), walked over to him.
The Admiral smiled at her. “Kongou-” His voice was warm, reassuring. “Did you, by any chance, have any experiences concerning the Germans?”
“Ummm… not particularly.” Kongou glanced over at the waiting gaggle, who continued to stare at her. “I don’t think I’ve ever had contact with any modern German warship.”
“Thank you, Kongou.” The Admiral continued to smile, but as soon as Kongou stepped back his demeanour immediately changed. The benign grin turned into a grim look as he surveyed the map again. After regarding it for a moment he raised his head, towards the balconies.
“Oboro, advise Sawaka that we are on friendly terms with the unknown ships. Any assistance signal coming from that fleet is to be answered post-haste. If possible, escort them back to base. That is all.” The tough little destroyer turned back to the radio, rapidly relaying the orders.
“Oyodo, get everyone back in. I want headquarters on the line just in case this escalates. Everyone, we’re on red alert!” The Admiral jammed his peaked cap back on his head, his expression serious, and Kongou finally saw the last facet of her beloved Admiral – the cheerful Admiral, the cunning Admiral, the kind Admiral, and at last, the fighting Admiral.

CaioDuilio
12-31-2014, 08:05 AM
Repost post-rollback. Let's hope Saya can keep his/her hand off the Improbability Drive activation button this time. (Load the proofing screens first, bud!)

**NEW** [401] SHATTERED DREAM

On another base, far out on the Pacific, the harsh tropical sun beat down on the beaches of Pearl Harbour, baking the various loungers who dared to brave the fierce rays. The heat baked the tarmac on the roads, and every window was open – for such a hot day, only the gentlest of breezes sifted through the base.

A few miles away from the main base the American Admiral kept his island retreat – a handsome two-storey white-washed villa that stood among the broad palms of the island. Yells of delight and raucous laughter mingles with the wash of waves as a garden party played itself out on the beachfront of the Admiral’s house.

The Admiral himself lay in a deckchair on the sand with a glass of chilled tropical punch in his hand. He was dressed in a white short-sleeved shirt and pressed shorts – a classic pair of sunglasses covered his eyes and his peaked officer’s cap lay askew on top of his mop of tousled black hair. In his relaxed pose one could have said that he was living the American Dream – and he was.

He gazed out unconcernedly at the little group of girls that played on the sand, completely at ease. There was Jouett, Massey and Charrette, all destroyers, who were building little sand castles that surrounded them; Augusta, Helena (both charming and scandalous cruisers) and the old battleship Washington stood around the barbeque, happily gossiping away while the sausages slowly charred; San Jacinto and Yorktown, both vivacious carriers, paddled contentedly in the warm water with the dolphin-like Cachalot, who swam rings around the cumbersome carriers amid laughter and teasing.

“Sorry we’re late, sir,” the Admiral turned slightly in his chair, looking up at the newcomers. The battleship Pennsylvania stood there with a gaggle of little destroyers (mostly Gearings, the Admiral observed), who hung about behind her. The Admiral sensed that like Pennsylvania they too were awed to see the Admiral so relaxed. They were all wearing their swimsuits: Pennsylvania had her bikini and the little destroyers wore one-pieces of varying colours, and some had floats on their hips and elbows.

“There’s no need to call me ‘sir’, I’m not on duty, am I?”
“Guess not, si- I mean, Admiral.”
“Good. Why don’t you get yourself over to Washington? I’m sure she’s finished cooking by now.”

Pennsylvania walked over to the barbeque, while the destroyers ran helter-skelter for the water – in their rush they trampled over the ring of sand-forts the three already there built. Groans filled the air, but were soon replaced by mad dashes for the water as the builders sought revenge. Soon enough, a water fight broke out, with all the little destroyers splashing furiously.

The Admiral watched over this little scene with amusement and felt more at ease than ever. But even as he took another leisurely sip of his punch he heard another little movement behind him.

He looked around again, expecting another late arrival; instead he found the cruiser Brooklyn standing there, in her working uniform of mottled grey and blue and skirt of the same colour.

“Brooklyn? Are you here for the party as well?” the Admiral asked with a smile.

“No, sir (the Admiral winced at being called that), I’ve just come here to deliver this message from HQ-”
“Can’t it wait? I’m relaxing here, you know-”
“They say it’s urgent, sir.”
“Urgent or not, just leave it in the house! I won’t have any interruptions-”

The Admiral was interrupted by the letter falling neatly onto his lap – with a great sigh he took it up, straightened his cap, and tore it open.

“Communiqué from headquarters… wish to inform you of… wait… what?!”
“Is something the matter, sir?” Brooklyn enquired.
“What’s the meaning of this? What do they mean, immediate commencement of new operations-“

The Admiral stopped himself hastily, but too late – Washington, the closest to him, was already staring at him with reproach – the others at the barbeque also turned to look at him with inquiring, almost patronizing expressions.

With a quick smile he waved at them, trying desperately to maintain his cheery expression. With great reluctance he rose out of his deckchair, and Brooklyn quickly sprang to attention as he straightened his shirt and turned to leave.

“Admiral? Where are you going?” Pennsylvania asked.

The Admiral turned to face the battleship. “Oh, I’ve just got some supplies to clear, nothing serious, be back within an hour or so.” His heart was weighing heavier by the minute as he digested the unwelcome orders – but nevertheless he gave her another little smile in an effort to reassure her.

The Admiral walked with Brooklyn back towards the house. They got into the jeep waiting in the driveway, and together they drove back to the main compound.

“Did you hear that?” Pennsylvania asked Washington, as the crunch of tyres on gravel faded away. “New operations? In summer?”

“Yes, I heard,” Washington replied, idly turning the sausages over. “Best not to think too much of it, though.”

“Why?”

Washington did not answer.

~

“Are you sure of what you’re saying? Are absolutely sure they’re there?”

The Admiral paced the map table, throwing occasional glances at the marking blocks that were littered all over the table. There were many blocks with a red flag attached – they represented known Abyssal fleet positions. There were also blocks with blue flags – representing the USN’s own fleets in the area.

But what was so strange about today was that a third colour was represented on the big map representing the entire Pacific region. It was the colour of green – the symbol of foreign, but not Abyssal ships. It was oddly jarring, yet comforting to see the presence of a foreign fleet in the area – but to see four blocks of green on the table was a dream, a legend that even veterans whispered of.

“Yes, latest patrol reports indicate the presence of four, I say again, four green fleets approaching the Pacific theatre of operations. This includes aerial reconnaissance taken from outpost bases in the Colombo, Guam, Samoa, and the Aleutians, as well as from escort carriers in the Eastern Indian Ocean and off Sumatra-”
The Admiral raised a hand to silence Alaska, who was reading off the operations clipboard. “Do we know the nationality of these ships?”

“Exact identification of ships composing said fleets is not possible at the moment, but headquarters analysts have been forwarded the recon photographs. We’re still waiting on the results, sir.”

The Admiral picked up a paddle from a nearby rack. “What are the compositions of our fleets closest to the aforementioned islands?”

This time Guam, who was sitting opposite to Alaska, spoke up. She wore a service uniform like the rest - light khaki buttoned shirt and knee-hem dress.

“Fleet Pacific North is stationed at Midway, comprising of two carriers, three escort carriers, one battleship, three cruisers and sixteen destroyers. Fleet Pacific South is stationed just east of the Samoan islands – three cruisers, five destroyers, accompanied by Submarine Task Force Six. We have no immediate resources near Colombo. The Philippines Fleet is standing by in the Surigao Strait, with four battleships, two carriers, five cruisers and fourteen destroyers.”

The paddle came down onto the table, and in a few quick motions three blue-flagged blocks were shifted by the Admiral. There was a look of intense concentration on his face as he scrutinized the altered board, like a chess player contemplating the next move.

“What’s Home Fleet status?” he asked.

“Six battleships, four carriers, fifteen cruisers and over twenty destroyers, sir,” Guam answered. “Morale is generally high.”

The Admiral raised his paddle, and then put it back on the rack. His manner was brisk now, as he looked back at the two battlecruisers and the faces of the Operations volunteers as they awaited his orders.

“Alaska,” he said, and instantly she stiffened in attention. “I want all non-essential ships gathered in the mess hall. I don’t know what’s going on with these foreigners, but it’s important that we inform all relevant personnel as soon as possible.” The blonde cruiser stood up, saluted, and quickly left the room.

The Admiral turned to Guam now, who stared at him intently. “Guam, open all channels to HQ, and get me Cleveland from Communications. We’ve got to try and get a link open to the Japs in Iwo Jima.”

“Iwo Jima, sir?” Guam tentatively queried.
“Yes. I know, it’s a long shot, but they’ve got to know, if they haven’t already seen it. My bets are that they haven’t.”
“Very good, sir.” Guam stood, and followed her sister out of the room.

“Everyone else, we’re on double take!” the Admiral barked. There was an instant flurry of movement as the board plotters began their work. Radios burst into life all around them as their operators fiddled their work.

The Admiral watched as the well-oiled system came back to life. As little destroyer-girls ran the lengths of the room as message runners, he felt an old fire burn within himself. It was a fire that he had once wished to be rid of – the fires of war. He put his cap back on and headed for the mess.

~

There was a distinctive buzz in the mess hall as the assembled ship-girls chatted with each other, some excited, some apprehensive as to what occurrence could bring them together in such a fashion. The battleships and carriers sat in the back, while the cruisers and destroyers fidgeted and murmured on the floor.

“I reckon it’s going to be a new exercise,” muttered Chauncey to her neighbour.
“You think so? I don’t think it’d be that,” answered Leutze.
“What about the Japs? Heard they’re up to something in the north,” said Montpelier.
“Like what? Fishing? Would sure like to join ‘em if they were,” Tucson shot back.
“Hey, what’s wrong with spam? Not salty enough for you?” jibed Montpelier. The other two destroyers giggled.
“Naw, I just think-”
“Shh-h! The Admiral’s just come in!” Atlanta admonished.

The Admiral walked up to the podium and looked at the expectant faces of the ships seated before him. Most were wearing their patterned working uniforms – some of the battleships, under special mandate, wore their own outfits (some of them real eye-catchers).

“Everyone, first of all I’m sorry for bringing you all here on such short notice. But with the current situation I think it’s best if you all know exactly what’s going on.”

“The Operations room has been informed of the presence of four; I say again, four green fleets in our theatre of operations.” There was an instant outbreak of murmuring as the girls digested this information.

“This is a most mysterious turn of events, but it’s something needs further investigation. Therefore starting from today this entire base is under double take-” The murmurs grew louder, the excitement from the girls rising “and I trust that each of you will perform your duties with the utmost efficiency.”

“There will be postings and more information put up on the noticeboards tomorrow. I want all of you prepare for an encounter with one of these fleets. I do not know what their intentions are this present time, but I am certain that from now on our guard must never waver.” The Admiral paused for breath. “Girls, I thank you for your time.”

All the girls stood and came to attention as the Admiral, with Cleveland, filed out of the room. As soon as the swing doors stilled the tension broke – anxious chatter filled the room as the girls debated with each other over the nature of the situation.

“I knew this was coming!” The battleship Maryland crowed.
“Knew what?” some destroyers chorused.
“Maryland, you knew nothing of this!” protested Colorado.
“Did so! Now we’ll get to kick those Abyssal asses with the rest of the world!”
“How do you know that? Maybe they’re just visiting…” Montpelier mused.
“Naw, I don’t think so, they wouldn’t come all the way out here just for dinner,” New Mexico answered.

The bickering and speculation carried on as opinions clashed. There was a slight chill in the night air, but it did nothing to deaden the heated debates that broke out in the bungalows and dormitories all through the night.

Impstar_Deuce
01-02-2015, 11:07 AM
And at last the Americans join the party. :kongou_happy:

I guess the only other major fleet left would be the French?

CaioDuilio
01-03-2015, 04:40 AM
Impstar_Deuce The French will be interesting to write, but then again I'll have to work in national mannerisms alongside analysing each ship's service records. As you can see, writing these stories requires a crap-ton of research.

I'm working on the first contact between KM and IJN (or New IJN I should say), be done in 1-3 days.

KM and IJN storylines so far have been posted to FF.net, with a few edits. They're all part of the Operation Eclipse series, if you want to go look.

CaioDuilio
01-09-2015, 11:01 AM
It's here! First contact! Enjoy!

**NEW** [104] THE ENCOUNTER


A tense, deadly silence blanketed the scene as Scheer stared impassively down the barrels of the Abyssal battleship’s guns. Bismarck and Gneisenau froze, unsure of what to do; Konigsberg and Z1 watched, fearful of the outcome.

Seconds ticked by as the two ships regarded one another. Scheer looked upon the Battleship Hime without emotion, only a thin crease of contempt lining her pale cheeks. It was difficult to see what the Abyssal ship thought – but the long, slanted, mean barrels of the battleship was enough indication.

Suddenly, there was a report of guns in the far distance, beyond the atoll.

There was a great blast as the Abyssal battleship fired her guns in instinct and anger, but it was too late – Scheer deftly dodged the shells, stepping clear of the firing arc as gracefully as a ballerina. In one clean movement she advanced through the gun smoke, head tucked and face contorted in unmistakeable fury and concentration. Before any of the other ships could move Scheer had delivered a swift iron-plated kick straight into the Abyssal’s abdomen, sending the charred battleship sprawling over the sea’s surface.

Two triple turrets cranked downwards, all six barrels pointing down at the prone Abyssal. Scheer looked down on her redoubtable adversary as the shells slid into place, six chinks of certain doom ringing out over the quiet sea.

“Frau Scheer! Look!” Bismarck cried. Scheer looked up, and her eyes followed where she pointed. There, behind the line of palm trees, was a plume of billowing black smoke.

Without even looking back at the fallen Abyssal Scheer remotely detonated the charges, sending six high-explosive shells hurtling down, but only a mass of harmless splashes met her ears. The battleship had slipped away under the sea.

Scheer let the annoyance flicker for a moment, and then let it die as she turned her attention to the new development. The sky was clear once again – the other carrier must have retreated as well, Scheer thought.

The smoke was growing nearer and nearer – clearly approaching ships.

“All ships, form loose phalanx formation, prepare to receive unknown fleet. Seydlitz, I want normal air cover as soon as possible.” Scheer ordered over the mike.

“Ehhh?! We’re diving back in? Again?” came the carrier’s exasperated reply.

Scheer ignored the anguished query, focusing only on the unknown ships that approached. The other ships slowly slipped back into formation.

~

There was excitement in the air as the ships of the 7th Southern Patrol Task Force sailed south under the new orders, but there was also a note of apprehension among some of the ships as they steamed towards Dyaba.

“Sakawa-san, what do you think about this?” inquired Noshiro.

“Pyaa! I never thought I’d see the day I would meet foreign ships for the first time!” Sakawa squeaked in response. The cruiser did a little skip on the water in delight.

Noshiro looked away, feeling unhappy to be partnered up with her more carefree sister. She thought of Agano, back at base, all alone without her. She missed her big sister dearly, especially when she was picked for patrols instead of her. Oh, Agano-san, how I wish you were here instead…

The two cruisers and four destroyers sailed onwards. Soon they neared the palm-graced atoll, where they were met with a fine mist – a clear sign of recent battle.

“Keep your eyes peeled for those foreigners, everyone.” Noshiro warned.

The six ships spread out, covering a wider area. The mist grew thicker as they approached the atoll, but the sunlight was bright enough to throw the scorch marks and craters of shells into harsh relief. A terrible battle has been fought here, Sakawa mused to herself.

“Sakawa-san! Look! In the sky!” Kagerou called out.

Sakawa and Noshiro looked up, and with equal surprise saw planes flying overhead – not the ragged forms of Abyssal aircraft, but the familiar, piston-driven propellers of normal aircraft. Both cruisers swung their anti-air turrets into action, but even as the guns attained their optimum angle, Sakawa hesitated. The aeroplanes hung around in the sky, circling over them in endless loops. They were more like curious gulls than waiting vultures.

Suddenly, a clear, authoritative voice rang out over the mist-laden sea. It was no voice any of the ships of the IJN had ever heard, and its tone had an edge that immediately sent a chill down every girl’s spine.

“This is Admiral Scheer of the Deutschland Pacific Fleet, calling to all friendly units in the area…”

“Hey!” Sakawa called, waving a hand in the air. “Where are you guys? It’s kinda hard to see you in this mist!”

As Sakawa lowered her guns a dark figure became visible in the mist, and it skated towards them. Beside her, Sakawa could sense her sister tensing up in anticipation – but as the other girl slid into focus she was completely unprepared for what she saw.

Long dark-grey hair. Menacing contoured steel greaves. As the dark figure skated into full view the two cruisers stood there, dumbfounded. Their eyes slid upwards from the pair of beastly triple-gun turrets to the double-breasted navy-blue jacket with gold-ringed sleeves, and then up to the impassive, clear-cut face that now looked upon them.

The strange ship stopped before them. “You are units of the New Imperial Japanese Navy, are you not?” she queried in an austere, cold voice.

Sakawa nodded once, too shocked to speak.

The other ship came to attention and saluted smartly. “Then allow me to introduce myself. I am Admiral Scheer of the Deutschland Pacific Fleet, at your service.” Scheer bowed, and the two sisters bowed politely in reply.

“I come to you in our hour of great need. It is quite important for us to reach a base, for I have a message from our own command to relay. Is it far from here?” Scheer asked.

“Ummm…” Sakawa looked down, unsure of what to say. Fortunately Noshiro spoke up for her, diverting Scheer’s powerful gaze. “It’s only half a day’s distance from here. We can take you in if you’d like.”

“That would be much appreciated.” Scheer bowed once more. As she rose back up, she detached the radio speaker from her waist and spoke into it.

“All ships fall in on my location. Escort found, orders relayed and received.” Even before Scheer had clipped the speaker back on her holster another dark shape loomed up through the mist.

Both cruisers gaped as another girl sailed into clear sight – this one was tall, blond, dressed in a tight grey vest with equally dark long stockings, sporting a large sea-grey peaked cap. But what was more terrifying were the four monstrous, blocky twin turrets that were linked across a finely-wrought steel frame.

The mist cleared, and the Agano sisters looked on in utter surprise as the entire German squadron fell in neatly behind Scheer. Another battleship filed in behind the first, this one more lithe and graceful, with long black hair and twinkling blue eyes; a carrier (Sakawa could tell by the shield she carried) with elegant blonde curls and a cheerful spring in her step, making light of the enormous black crossbow she carried; a cruiser of stern countenance and appearance that reminded Sakawa of their own Ooyodo; and finally a little destroyer who looked much like a boy, with short grey hair, blue cap and sailor’s outfit.

“This is Bismarck,” Scheer introduced the first battleship, who closed her eyes and nodded in acknowledgement. “Gneisenau-” The other battleship bowed slightly, “Seydlitz-” the cheery carrier waved an enthusiastic hand in the air, “Konigsberg-” the cruiser bowed stiffly, “and Z1, who you may also refer to as Leberecht.” Scheer finished, while the destroyer bowed a little as well.

“Umm, it’s nice to meet you all!” Sakawa blustered, some of her initial embarrassment fading away. “I’m Sakawa, of the Agano-class cruisers, and this is my sister Noshiro-”

“A pleasure.” Noshiro bowed quickly, and then turned to Sakawa. “Shouldn’t we be going?” she whispered into her sister’s ear. “That Hime might be gone, but I’m feeling uneasy about-”

“Yes, you’re right, sister!” Sakawa turned away from her and bowed again in apology to the assembled Germans. “Please, if you wouldn’t mind following us…”

~

As the enlarged fleet now sailed northwards, a short-wave radio signal sped across the ocean from an observation post on another island close by the two fleets’ meeting place. The signal zigzagged through a series of signal boosters stationed on other, similarly abandoned islands, until it reached the receiving tower.

A buzz of static preceded a mad scramble for the radio set as eager ears plugged themselves in. The report came in clearly.

“OV Post 14d reporting… Green fleet King Mike first contact Yellow fleet 1276P 1543hrs local time, I repeat, Green fleet King Mike first contact Yellow fleet 1276P, current relative bearing of approximately 32 degrees.”

“32 degrees relative?” The receiving officer slumped in her chair. “But that could only mean…”

Another scramble followed as the officer jumped out of the chair, to the surprise of nearby aides, who saw her grab the headset and speaker for the HQ line radio.

“HQ? This is Receiving Station Wake, fourth watch officer reporting. It’s beginning, sir, they’re here at last. To clarify - Operation Eclipse is go.”

Impstar_Deuce
01-09-2015, 12:04 PM
YAY! The fleets are beginning to meet! I didn't think Scheer would be doomed but I feel a bit sorry for that battleship hime. Something tells me she'll be back and be pissed!

CaioDuilio
01-18-2015, 02:31 AM
A new navy enters the fray! Enjoy!

**NEW** [501] CANAL FEVER
(Use of a French-English dictionary/translator is recommended for this story. Unless of course you're French or fluent in French.)

“Merde! How many of these things are there?” Mogador shouted, as the shark-like Abyssal destroyers blasted shells from their black maws, advancing closer like wolves pursuing prey. The French destroyer responded with the short, sharp barks of her own guns.

“Attendre en ligne! Wait for our battleships to break open the gate!” Algerie responded, yelling back over the din of her eight-inchers. Two shells struck an Abyssal destroyer bearing down on her – with a wail the black shark flipped over and sank into the ocean.

“Algerie! The gate had been broken! The canal is clear!”
“Allons-y, camarades! Into the breach!”
“Strasbourg, with me! Cover the others!” Richelieu called.

The pack of Abyssal destroyers followed the French squadron as they raced towards the now-open canal, but before them two battleships, Richelieu and Strasbourg, turned to face them.

“Come on, Malin!” Algerie frantically gestured to the Fantasque destroyer, who had turned to watch the two great battleships fend off the Abyssal hunters. Malin watched as Richelieu and Strasbourg sweep aside the black sharks like chaff before a scythe with their combined might. Each blast of the quads brushed aside the Abyssal destroyers as they continued their relentless assault.

But the combined might of the two finest ships of the Marine Nationale was too much for even the tenacity of the Abyssals. After an innumerable number of shells had bounced harmlessly off the steel of the two battleships, the Abyssals slunk away, disappearing under the blue sea.

“Is that the last of them?” Strasbourg queried.

Richelieu took off her cap and fanned herself with it. “Oui, camarade. Come, let’s go catch up with the others.”

~

During the initial stages of the worldwide Abyssal invasion, the Panama Canal was among one of the first locations to see a sustained offensive waged by Abyssal forces. A combined American and Panamanian force met disaster at the Battle of Panama Gulf and the canal was lost to the human navies.

The 1st East Asia Division was therefore, as they entered the overgrown waterway, the first of any human navy to succeed in traversing the famed canal once again. But the prolonged Abyssal occupation took its toll on the once-prosperous Central American nation – after a month of consistent failure against the new overlords, the populace retreated away inland. Now only rusted floodgates and abandoned buildings greeted the French warships as they sailed further.

“Keep an eye out for any moving shadows, everyone. Who knows what monstrosity lurks in these waters?” Richelieu commanded.

“This place gives me the creeps…” whispered Gloire as they sailed through the rush-strewn channel. Silence blanketed the division as they penetrated further onwards. Thick jungle vines hung from the dense jungle surrounding them, the wreck of some old fishing boat tangled in vines here and there, and sheets of worn corrugated iron were scattered along the banks.

The silence was pervading as the division sailed further upstream. Eventually the warships came to the first set of locks, and here Richelieu observed the most unnerving thing yet - the locks were clean and in good condition, scrubbed free of the prevalent vegetation. Even the adjacent office building was in a much better condition than its neighbours, even if it was (as it appeared to be) completely abandoned.

This could only mean one thing. Richelieu scanned the surrounding area, but the thick jungle prevented anything from being seen. The battleship cursed, and reached for her radio speaker.

“All ships, prepare to land. Assemble into land combat group on the pier. Scouts are Gloire and Malin. Algerie, cover our rear.”

As the girls landed one by one, they could see the ruined nature of the facility more clearly. Some buildings had collapsed, charred by some bygone fire, while others remained standing with part of either their roofs or walls blown off, with rubble strewn everywhere. Only the main control office appeared pristine.

The girls advanced in single file, with Gloire in front, with a triple-gun mount in hand while Malin followed closely, trembling nervously as she primed her five-inchers. They approached the control office, and with a trembling hand Gloire pushed open the door.

They filed into a dimly-lit entrance hall, the single flickering light bulb swaying as the door swung open. Control panels, tubes and valves littered the room, some in place and some strewn all over the dirty floor.

“Malin, Mogador, Gloire, cover the doorways. Strasbourg, Algerie, on me!” Richelieu strode over to the central desk, drawing her sword with a metallic ring, anticipating whatever horror that awaited.

No such horror was to be found lurking behind the desk. Instead the sight of a partial skeleton of a man greeted them, rags hanging off his bones in shreds.

Algerie uttered a little squeak of fright while Strasbourg solemnly closed her eyes. With the tip of her sword Richelieu picked at the bones, not noticing as Algerie turned away with handkerchief in hand. Her eyes slid across the booth to a scrap of paper that the man appeared to have written on. It was written in his native language, but the copious amounts of dried blood on it told her everything.

She regarded the skeleton for a moment, and then sheathed her sword. “I’m sorry, camarade,” she whispered to it.

Richelieu swung her attention to her companions. Malin and Mogador guarded the stairwell, Gloire the entrance, Algerie sniffed in anguish in an effort to stem her tears while Strasbourg comforted her with an arm around her.

“Algerie, stay down here with the rest while I check upstairs. If anything strange approaches, you may open fire.” Richelieu kissed the sniffling cruiser on the cheek and motioned to Strasbourg, who nodded and followed her up the stairs.

In the main control room upstairs paper was strewn everywhere, the dust lying in thick layers over the top of them. The main operating control panels were incredibly dusty, but workable. The lever banks worked as well. A ladder was propped up under a hatch on the ceiling, and Richelieu opened it to find herself on top of the roof.

Strasbourg opened another door off the control room and found a small dormitory, with a couple of bunk beds and a dirty wooden table. There was a sink and kitchenette that both, to her surprise, worked.

She left the dormitory just as Richelieu climbed down from the roof. The two battleships held a whispered conference as they discussed their options.

“There’s a nice place we can stay for the night,” Strasbourg told her. “But it depends on whether we can make it across tonight or tomorrow.”

Richelieu looked thoughtful. “It’s true that we won’t be able to clear the canal today,” she reasoned, “Who knows what horrors lie ahead?”

“There’s a big lake coming up after these set of locks. If the Abyssal fleet is here too, then…”

“No wonder they’ve kept this place clean.” Richelieu smacked her palm with her fist. “It’s going to be a daunting task, but I’m sure our spirit will prevail.” She made for the stairs.

“Anything unusual, Algerie?” Richelieu asked as she strode down the stairs.

“Unusual, madame? No, nothing… yet.” Algerie glanced nervously at the front door. “If you don’t mind me saying, madame, this place is not good for our morale…”

“I know. We depart at sunrise. But for tonight we stay here.” Richelieu swept a strand of blonde hair from her face. “Let’s hope those monsters don’t come tonight…”

~

Malin huddled close to Mogador and Gloire, who both sat against the wall, recovering from the day’s battle. She sniffed a little, prompting a caress from Gloire, who idly stroked her smooth brown locks.

Algerie was busy in the kitchenette, cooking up a light repast while the two battleships studied torn maps foraged from the rooms.

“Cheer up, mes copain! We’ll be out of this hellhole soon, right, madame?” Algerie set down a plate stacked high with butter cakes on the glass table. “Here you go, one special serving of kouign-amann!”

“Merci, camarade.” Richelieu took one and nibbled into the sweet pastry, relaxing at the taste of simple butter and sugar.

“That goes for you girls too! Come on, eat!” The others crawled forward, unwilling to leave their blankets, but the sweet smell of melted sugar heartened them.

“Delicieux!” Mogador cried as she bit heartily into the pastry. The others followed with gusto, and in seconds the plate was empty.

“Ah, it is good that you like it. Now, how about a drink?” With a cheeky smile Algerie drew a bottle of white wine from her knapsack.

“Algerie, I’m not sure if-” Richelieu tried to protest, but Strasbourg cut across her, eyes gleaming at the sight of the bottle.

“Oh! Is that a Montlouis 1944 you’ve got there?”

“1946 Moelleux, I’m afraid, madame. But I hope it is still good….” Algerie removed five glasses from her bag and poured a small measure into three of them. “To your good health, camarades.”

“Attendez, Algerie! Have you forgotten-” But too late – the heavy cruiser had downed her glass, followed quickly by Strasbourg. A warm blush spread across their cheeks, and Richelieu sighed as she braced herself for the inevitable.

~

“Owwww… my head…” Sunlight filtered through the grimy windows as the girls stirred from their alcohol-induced slumber. Gloire sat up, nursing her head in her hands, followed by the destroyers who crawled on all-fours towards the sink.

“Je te aime beaucoup, madame…” Algerie murmured unconsciously as Richelieu delicately disentangled herself from the dreaming cruiser. Strasbourg lay to another side, completely incomprehensible in her mutterings in her sleep. They both reeked of alcohol, and the disgruntled battleship filled a glass of water from the sink.

“Reveillez-vous!” Richelieu shouted as she threw the ice-cold water onto Algerie, who awakened immediately, spluttering and squirming as she got soaked through. “Tu pues, vous alcooliques!”

“Hey, hey , hey! That hurts, madame!” Algerie quickly rose, but then dropped back down onto the floor. “Ow, my head…”

“And you, Strasbourg, I expected better. Allons! Wash yourselves up; we’ve got a day ahead of us!” The other battleship groggily rose and made her way to the sink, muttering unprintable things as Richelieu struck her lightly on the back with her sheathed sword. The rest of the drunkards followed while the stern battleship stood to the side, tutting in disappointment.

Impstar_Deuce
01-24-2015, 10:13 PM
YEA BOI! And I like how the French girls encounter some ALIEN-esque creepiness. I wonder what they'll find further up the Panama Canal?

CaioDuilio
01-29-2015, 12:12 PM
Phew, after many redo's here's the sixth chapter of the IJN line. Enjoy, and some brutally honest comments would be welcome~ (You, yes you!)

[006] EAGLE'S LANDING

The white phone rang and a scrabbling hand picked it up. Sweat dripped onto the receiver as the officer listened intently, nodding frequently to what was being said.

“…Sixteen-thirty-five? Confirmed? Hold on a second…” One receiver went down while another was raised. “Harbour watch? Yes, it’s me; refocus on south today, expecting arrival… Sixteen thirty-five. Got that? Yes? Thank you.”

“Okay, back on…” The officer shut the other telephone and picked up the first again. “Harbour watch has been notified… Yes, anything else? No? Alright then…” The receiver went down with a clack.

The red telephone rang. This time the officer hesitated, wary of what might come. With a steady hand he lifted it to his ear. “This is Vice-Admiral Yoshifuru speaking.”

“Ah, so? I’ll be glad if you could send the documents over… With who? 21st Division? Sounds fine. Thank you, sir.”

The Admiral set down the receiver and leaned back into his chair. He looked out of the window and down at the quay and saw a throng of girls gathered on a picnic blanket, enjoying lunch by the water.

“New arrivals, huh?” Focusing on the throng, the Admiral could make out the distinctive figures of Kaga and Mutsu handing out the sandwiches, and the eager hands of the destroyers scrabbling over the best ones. Yoshifuru took a sip from his teacup. “I hope we will be able to accommodate them…”

~
“Hey, where are you going with that banner?”

“Oh, this?” Inazuma turned to the passing Natori, who eyed the bright red lettering on the furled banner curiously. “I’m taking this to the pier, the Admiral said so.”

“Ah, really?” The light cruiser smiled, adopting a relaxed stance. “What’s it for?”

“Something about new arrivals…” Inazuma crimsoned, remembering her orders. “Awawawawa! Forget what I just said! Ah, I’m going to be late!” The embarrassed destroyer ran down the hallway, waving as she retreated. “Sorry, Natori-san!”

Natori watched as Inazuma ran around a corner and disappeared from sight. There was a slight movement behind her and she turned to meet her sister, Nagara.

“What was all that about?” she asked.
“Oh, nothing, just Inazuma being herself again…”
“Haha, when is she never herself?”
“Guess you’re right. Still,” Natori looked back down the hallway. “I wonder what she meant by that…” she murmured to herself.

~

Wood clacked on metal as Kaga trudged up the long, winding stairs, up towards the lookout post. She pushed open the teal door, balancing her tea tray with one hand.

The tea stayed completely flat as Kaga guided across the small workspace, the afternoon rays filtering through the slanted windows. She strode over to the observation deck door and gingerly opened it, finding her sister, Akagi, leaning on the handrail with eyes firmly set on the south.

“Akagi.” The lookout turned to regard her sister, who stood stock-still, still holding the tea tray with one hand despite the high wind atop the tower.

“Kaga-san, you brought the tea?”
“Someone had to.”

Akagi laughed a little at that, and with the perfunctory welcoming the two carriers sat down on the metal platform. The tea was poured, sipped, and relished by both parties, but even during the break Akagi kept her eyes on the horizon, keen eyes raking across the blue expanse. Kaga meanwhile continued drinking, understanding her sister completely.

The little informal break passed and Kaga departed, taking the tea tray with her. The lone carrier peered through her binoculars once more, and held her breath as a gaggle of black dots appeared on the horizon. She kept her eyes on them for a few seconds, hardly believing the time – it was too early!

Whipping out her bow and deftly notching a single, yellow-feathered arrow she peered down at the little black specks that now gathered on the horizon. Without another moment of hesitation she let the arrow fly, sending the scouts streaking over the bay. Then she ran inside.

~

A long, dreadful siren rang out across the naval base. Girls stopped and listened to its wail, while others ran for cover, expecting the worst.

“This is Vice-Admiral Yoshifuru speaking, I repeat, this is Vice-Admiral Yoshifuru speaking. There is no need to panic. Could all members of the welcoming party please make their way to their designated positions? Apologies for the siren.” The siren fell silent as the voice cut off.

“Dammit Admiral, why d’you have to scare us like that?” Haruna glanced irritably at the silent Tannoy speaker. “Anyway, as I was saying… Eh?” She looked around, but her companion had gone. “Eh? Ehhhhh?!”

“Hiryuu-san, slow down!” Soryuu panted as she tried to keep up, barely flashing a smile in time to the lamenting Haruna.

“Soryuu too slow!” Hiryuu teased, turning around effortlessly and running backwards, “Come on, sister, you should be able to catch up!”

The two carriers ran into the main dockyard just as the others began to stream in – Inazuma and Ikazuchi carried aloft the great white banner, bearing the words “WELCOME TO OKINAWA” arrayed in bright, multi-coloured lettering – Ise and Hyuuga, those two solid battlewagons, striding purposefully towards the front, while Kirishima and Hiei followed, both in high spirits.

Hiryuu and Soryuu slowed to a halt and Hiei greeted them with an enthusiastic wave. The gathering of ships slid into formation, waiting for the arrival which would, as a close-knit band that knew nothing of the worlds beyond the horizon, upend the lives of every ship in the base.

~

“It’s not very far from here,” Sakawa called, as the patrol led the stern and correct German squadron through the open oceans towards the island.

The double arrowhead formation of the combined squadrons sliced through the waves as they neared Okinawa – seeing the great lookout tower of the base on the horizon heartened the ships of the patrol squadron.

To the escorted Germans, however, the sight of a foreign base was a great curiosity. Leberecht shouted out in excitement, pointing wildly at the island growing on the horizon. Bismarck and Gneisenau looked on in fascination as the island came into sharp focus, while Seydlitz stared up with great interest at the yellow-finned aircraft that hovered over them, like gulls welcoming brethren home.

Only Scheer and Konigsberg remained entirely unmoved by the sight of Okinawa. The dutiful light cruiser kept the silence as Scheer did, following only the movements of the Japanese ship-girls leading them. Scheer herself crossed her arms, looking upon the island filling her sight, deep in thought.

“Aaaaand we’re almost there! Pyaa~ I wanna take a long bath after this, so sore…” Sakawa stretched in relief, while Noshiro chatted with Kuroshio to her side.

Soon the combined fleet was sailing into Okinawa harbour. There a surprise greeted the returned – a great welcoming party, but both squadrons knew who it was for immediately. The Agano sisters waved their farewells and moved off with the destroyers to the other pier.

Scheer bowed to them, and as she did so she was suddenly aware of the pervading silence that reigned. As the Germans shrugged off their gear and steeped ashore, she pondered over what was to come of this fateful encounter.

CaioDuilio
02-05-2015, 11:41 AM
I'm surprised at myself with this story - but it seems that the current trend in the stories is "the more obscure = the more content". So, here it is, the seventh and final navy to join the fray - the glorious vessels of the Soviet Navy. Except this time, we're going to wind the clock back a bit - to where it all started...

[601] THE OLD MAN AND THE TITAN

“Ostorozhneye... ostorozhneye...” The man on the platform waved his hands as the winch came down, lowering a scoop filled with scrap metal over an empty cart.

“Otpusti!” The scoop opened, and the scrap tumbled down neatly into the cart. Several more labourers approached and pushed the cart down the tracks.

The stranger in the fur-lined coat watched all of this with some interest from the manager’s office, peering down at the workers through the thick Venetian blinds. The manager sat at his desk, filling out memoranda and getting through his paperwork. But every now and again he stole a glance at officer that stood in his office. He was a handsome enough fellow, and when he came in earlier that day the supervisor happened to catch a glimpse of the blue uniform that he wore underneath.

What was a Red Fleet officer doing in his office?

As if to answer his silent questions the officer turned away from the window and removed his shaggy coat, hanging it on a nearby coat-hook. He strode over to the chair before the manager’s simple wooden desk and sat down, taking out a much-dented cigarette case. He took one and then offered the case to the supervisor.

“Izvinite. I don’t smoke.” The supervisor hardly glanced at the case, and it was quickly withdrawn. The officer lit the gold-tipped cigarette and breathed in deep, exhaling smoke into the air.

“A factory manager who doesn’t smoke this far north?” The naval officer chuckled, exhaling another cloud of smoke. “That I don’t see often.”

The manager put down his pen and straightened his papers, laying them to one side. “My ration goes out to the needier. The men respect that.”

“Now that I’ve never seen!” The young man in blue guffawed, slapping his knee. “So, my kind-hearted comrade, are you ready to hear my plans?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be. I’m all ears.” The manager leaned forward, giving the officer his undivided attention.

The officer puffed on his cigarette one last time and extinguished it on his beaten case. He cleared his throat and began.

“The Ministry of the Navy currently has an interest in the developments of the other European navies. A new, revolutionary concept is being born out lessons being learnt by them in order to combat the new invaders from the depths.” The officer’s expression was grave as he paused. “Thus the Ministry of the Navy has proposed the commencement of a new, top-secret project conducted on the site of this factory.”

The manager listened to this, and closed his eyes. “And how will that affect our industrial output?”

The young officer smiled. “It won’t. You see, the new concept is rather… unorthodox. The current plans involve the building of a regular insulated compound around this site. Your workers will continue to work at their current capacity.”

“That is a relief. I would not part with these comrades for the world.”

“Oh, and why is that?”

“These men are all loyal to me in more than one way. We were all soldiers once. I’m sure you, comrade officer, can understand.” The manager’s voice weakened, memories flooding back.

The young officer looked at the manager fighting to contain his emotions. He settled back in his chair, content with the old man. Then he got up.

“The details of this new development will be sent to you in due course. Of course, you are not to breathe a word of this conversation to anyone outside this room. I’m sure you understand the consequences if such a thing were to happen…”

“Perfectly understood, comrade officer.” The young officer made for the door, grabbed his coat, and left.

~

The trucks came a week later. Within a month a solid fence with barbed wire had been erected all along the perimeter and the construction workers had finished building the nondescript series of buildings. The old manager watched from his office as the last trucks left and the new guards closed the gate.

There was a knock on the door. “Voydite!” the manager shouted.

In came the very same naval officer, this time dressed in his service uniform of black. They greeted each other politely, and sat down in their respective chairs.
“So, comrade, what are we to do now?” the manager asked.

“Supply trucks will be coming within this week or so. Their contents are still a secret to me. The higher-ups clearly have big plans for this new project.” The officer folded his arms, a note of impatience exemplified in his foot tapping relentlessly on the floorboards.

“Indeed? And what are my men to do when this happens?”

“No word from my superiors. It seems the big shots don’t seem to mind your steel factory being right at the heart of it all… But then again, saves us the trouble of transporting it, eh?”

The naval officer was true to his word. Exactly seven days later the covered trucks arrived at the compound, and the manager helped his men unload the seemingly-endless crates of material from them. Some had specific contents labelled on them, such as spare truck parts, blankets for the guard’s barracks, and so on, but some were painted black with no label on them. These the manager had his men handle carefully, wary of what might happen if the contents of one were to become known.

Inside the compound however, the naval officer watched as the newly-settled scientists and engineers assembled their apparatus. A large steel chamber dominated the room, complete with adjoining furnace and the usual array of piping, wiring and measurement devices. Assistants hurried to and fro as they prepared the first test.

To the young officer, it was all a mystery to him. But as he watched as the final leads were plugged into their intended ports, a flustered assistant hurried into the room, clutching his chest as if he were about to die.

The naval officer hurried over to him. “What’s the matter, comrade?”

“The… the big shots… the big shots are coming…” the assistant stammered, fighting for breath.

“The Admiral is arriving?!” The young officer broke out into a nervous sweat. He whipped around to the curious onlookers. “Everyone, to your stations!” he screamed.

They needed no further encouragement. In almost no time at all the assistants, scientists and engineers stood ready at their posts. The officer smoothed down his jacket, straightened his cap, and stood to attention just in time as the Admiral, in all his gold trim and chest groaning under the weight of his medals, walked into the room. He dismissed the stiff salute of the young officer with a careless one of his own, and fairly waddled into the large hall. His entourage followed, a small retinue of his aides and media men.

The Admiral stopped just before the great chamber. With a grunt he showed his approval and instantly one of the more senior scientists hurried over. He whispered into the beefy Admiral’s ear, and at those quiet words a huge grin lit up on his pudgy face.

“Comrades!” he announced, as the little scientist hurried back to his post. “I thank you all for your hard efforts towards the completion of this grand facility. Your efforts will be forever remembered in the annals of our great and glorious history.”

“It is with your efforts that today, on this auspicious date, the glorious Red Fleet will finally have a weapon to repel those foreign invaders from the depths! Our once great Navy will reign supreme once more in these icy waters!”

Applause broke out among the assembled scientists and engineers, and the corpulent Admiral lapped it all up before continuing. “We will wrest back our destiny with this bold stroke of Socialist labour! Let those scum of the deep tremble before the might of the New Red Fleet! Comrades! Commence the operation!”

An audible hum filled the room as all the devices in the room lit up, surging into life. The scientists and engineers bent over their new work and made the last preparations. Assistants shovelled heaps of assorted material into the glowing furnace, the flames of which danced merrily as it licked up the resources.

Meanwhile the Admiral had waddled into the safety of the blast-proof viewing chamber, his media men taking as many pictures as possible. They were followed by the young naval officer, who kept his eyes firmly on the steel chamber.

The most senior engineer accompanied them into the blast-proof room. With a little explanation the Admiral was told of his role in the proceedings. Before the shrapnel window was a little stand with a red button affixed to it. All the Admiral had to do was press the button.

A green signal lit up, and the foremost observers outside the viewing room raised their thumbs in confirmation. Licking his lips, the Admiral pushed the button.

The furnace was shut as steam hissed from the hinges of the great chamber. The high-pitched whine settled into a low hum as the apparatus powered down. Scientists ran to and fro, comparing readings from their many measuring devices.

Then, quite suddenly, the great blast doors of the chamber swung open. A torrent of steam billowed out, obscuring everything. Personnel fell back before the tidal wave of steam, gasping for air.

“Der’mo! What is going on?” The Admiral breathed. The cameras of the media team began flashing again. Some of his aides made for the emergency exit.

The younger officer, however, was perfectly calm. He had anticipated this – there was nothing he could do but to shout the next orders into his radio mike over the din of cursing aides and the wailing winter wind that now howled through the open emergency door.

The Admiral and his entourage fled, fearing the worst, but the young officer remained where he was. He watched as the emergency vents pumped air into the chamber, partially diffusing the lingering steam. On cue guards burst into the steam-filled hall, rifles up and at the ready. The young officer entered the hall to direct them.

“Razlozhite! Cover the chamber!” he shouted.

The soldiers fanned out, checking on the cowering scientists as they advanced on the open chamber. The officer remained a little way behind, wary of what might emerge. The cavernous interior of the chamber was still deluged with heavy steam, but it gradually began to clear.

Suddenly, something moved inside the haze. In an instant every rifle was pointed at the source of the sound. The officer stepped forward, holding his breath.

A whirr like smooth gears could be heard. Then-

A loud blast echoed violently through the room, sending the young officer flying. The soldier closest to the chamber was flung back, part of his arm blown off, blood flying everywhere. Some of the soldiers still on their feet immediately opened fire, pouring on a storm of bullets that would tear through any man easily, but the bullets seemed to just bounce harmlessly off the thing.

Another blast rocked the chamber, and the personnel that hadn’t immediately run for the open doors bolted, screaming. One by one the soldiers were blown away, even the more sensible few that had taken cover. Soon it was all over.

Blood trickled down the walls as the deafened officer groggily rose. He stumbled, trying to catch his breath. His uniform was splattered with the blood of another, and with bleary eyes he surveyed the carnage all around him.

A thick haze hung heavily in the air. He could dimly make out the bodies of the destroyed soldiers, and the unfortunate few scientists who had been caught in the crossfire. He could feel his consciousness ebbing away, but as he sunk back onto the ground he could see a figure advancing through the smoke. It was thin, and looked vaguely like a-

~

The old manager had heard the blasts and looked curiously at the smoke filtering out of the compound. He saw the big-shot Admiral and his entourage run for their cars, and the guards take up defensive positions all around the centre of the problems. A couple of soldiers had even barged into his office, setting up their rifles in one of his windows. He did not complain. He had done the same himself at their age.

Another loud bang like the roar of cannon sounded from the battle zone. Very soon the soldiers on the ground began firing, tracer rounds flying into the thick smoke like white darts. Sounds of high-pitched dings could be heard, and the old man knew the bullets were bouncing off.

“Der’mo! Our bullets are doing nothing! What is that thing?” one of the soldiers nearby shouted.

The manager, curious, looked out of the windows again. There, emerging from the smoke, was a girl-

“Arisha?” he whispered, hardly believing his eyes. He rubbed them once, making sure he wasn’t dreaming. “Arisha!” he shouted, despite the screams of the Russian soldiers for him to get down as he stood up, waving furiously at the advancing figure. He could see the figure look up, listening to his yells.

The guns thundered again, and he could feel the white heat of the resounding blast tear through his office. Wood chips flew in the air like shrapnel and the old man caught a glimpse of the two soldiers being cut down, while jagged bolts of pain seared through him as the splinters burrowed deep.

He felt himself on the cold snow, a small comfort for the stabbing pains that racked him. He struggled up, and saw the guards being blown away by more explosions as the figure advanced towards the gate.

“Arisha,” he whispered, and, feeling a new sense of urgency, stumbled towards the gate, ready to intercept the strange figure.

Slowly, agonizingly, he dragged his bleeding feet towards the gate. He fell down again as the security checkpoint went up in flames, the guards there screaming and falling, their blood staining the pure snow.

With a superhuman effort, he lifted himself up again. He turned, and saw the figure, no, his daughter trudge through the snow, slowly advancing towards him. The old man, remembering with irony his old soldiering days, slowly put his hands in the air.

The figure stopped. She was dressed in a blue officer’s jacket with a pleated skirt, both in the livery of the Soviet Navy. There were all sorts of strange machinery attached to her, including little guns at her sides and shoulders. It was hard to believe so diminutive a figure could cause so much destruction.

“Arisha…?” The old man whispered.

The figure was silent. Her face was completely expressionless, but he knew those features well – it was unmistakeably his daughter.

He took a tentative step forward. “Arisha, my dear…” Still the figure did not react.

He moved closer, until they were at arms’ length. The old man’s eyes welled up at the sight of the daughter he thought he had lost so long ago. Instinctively he wrapped his arms around her, and sobbed with joy. He cried to the heavens for this deliverance, but even then the figure remained mute.

“My daughter! Don’t you recognize me? It’s your father… ” He looked eagerly at the impassive face, desperately searching for a sign of recognition. He did not get that chance as waves of nausea swept over him, and he slumped to the side, unconscious.

~

He woke up on clean sheets, to the familiar, musty smell of starched linen. Pain still racked his frail body, but it was more muted than before.

He craned his head to the bedside table, where a grimy glass vase containing purple saxifrage greeted him. He looked to his other side, and to his surprise saw the young officer lying in the next bed. The handsome features had not been harmed, but the officer remained unconscious.

Then he remembered. The memory came rushing back, and he bolted upright, the scene running through his miraculously-clear mind like a film.

“Arisha.” He breathed. “Arisha!” He shouted.

“Dear, dear, you’re up early…”

The old man looked around. The young officer stretched and opened his eyes. He regarded the manager with curious, bloodshot eyes.

“Who are you shouting for, anyway?” he enquired.

“My daughter! I saw my daughter!” The old man tried frantically to tear off the sheets, and in an instant a squad of nurses bustled up the hallway, and had him back in the sheets immediately. As comforting, but callused hands soothed him back in, he turned and saw the young officer grinning.

“My daughter…” The old man repeated, clutching his sheets. “Was it… all a dream?”

“Well, yes and no.” The young officer sat up in his bed, fetching his even more-battered cigarette case from his table. “That was no hallucination.”

“But that means…”

“The girl in question is currently in custody in another part of the base. She’s resisted everything we could throw at her. The psychologists will be here tomorrow, to look her over.”

“Please, you must let me see her. Please, I must know…”
The young officer puffed on his cigarette, letting loose a small cloud of smoke. He seemed to be deep in thought.

“Considering what the guards reported to me yesterday, I think you have a lot to answer for as well. Very well. I shall speak to the chief supervisor when he comes around…”

sutenai
02-05-2015, 11:50 AM
I'm surprised at myself with this story - but it seems that the current trend in the stories is "the more obscure = the more content".


Looking forward to your 1000-page epic about Norwegian ship girls, then (at least there won't be many ships to research!) :haruna_grin:
About the story itself, it's a pretty good stab at "explaining" the origins of ship girls. I still prefer it when it's left shrouded in mystery, though, because any explanation is bound to be ridiculous.

CaioDuilio
02-05-2015, 11:57 AM
sutenai I think I've done a fair job of making it as obscure as I could have. The process is not really explained and knowing the habits of those Russians, this could be a much more primitive method than what the other nations are using.

sutenai
02-05-2015, 12:05 PM
CaioDuilio Nah, I was thinking of the fact that the idea of "ship girls" itself is beyond stupid if you try to put it in a rational, realistic context (IMO). The process (or whatever you'd call it) is fine and the story itself was nice and dramatic -- there's nothing wrong with what you did, really :haruna_happy:

Impstar_Deuce
02-10-2015, 06:42 PM
My own personal theory has been that the process revolves around, to quote a certain rpg, a "baffling combination of artifice and magic." It would explain why some kanmusu have magic-looking abilities, especially hiyou, junyou, ryujou, unryuu and amagi

CaioDuilio
02-14-2015, 11:10 AM
Impstar_Deuce I'm not sure how such non-spiritually-minded nations such as Russia or the USA would handle "magical" traits. I don't think CVLs could be rendered quite the same in those nations~

Impstar_Deuce
02-14-2015, 06:57 PM
Well you know what they say, magic is just a science we don't understand. :)

CaioDuilio
02-26-2015, 01:17 AM
With all these foreign nations in play it's hard to keep track of which one to write about next. But I think the time is ripe for a look at where those silly Italians are~ So here it is, the third Italian chapter:

[203] BREAKFAST AND TORPEDOES

Sunrise came quickly on the Arabian coast.

Fiume rose wearily, fatigue still set in her bones. She cast a quick glance over the sheltered inlet, the light-blue hue of the water just visible in the increasing light. Her eyes swept to the rest of the beach – the two destroyers still slept soundly by the fire-pit, while Impero chatted lightly with Aquila and Bolzano, the latter helping the cheery carrier crack eggs onto the sizzling pavise. There was no sign of Torricelli.

“Buongiorno, Fiume. Breakfast now or later?” Aquila stoked the fire, humming an old sea-tune while Impero and Bolzano waved her in.

“Adesso, per favore: sto morendo di fame,” Fiume replied. “Where’s Torricelli?”

“Don’t know. None of us have seen her this morning.” Bolzano said. The eggs on the pavise crackled as they whitened and crisped around the edges. Aquila quickly scraped them up and deposited them on the side. The other girls dug in, and Fiume gasped as the heat of the yolk singed her tongue.

“Easy now, there’s more of that coming.” Aquila remonstrated, waggling a gloved finger at the panting flagship. “Where is that Torricelli? Hope she’s brought some fish in…” They all turned towards the waters, but the waves remained undisturbed.

“Isn’t a bit risky to fish around here? There are a lot of enemy destroyers in the area.” Impero tore into her egg, yellow yolk trickling down her chin.

“I’m sure she’ll be alright,” Aquila soothed.

~

Torricelli’s heart hammered a panicked rhythm as explosion after explosion rocked the waters, sending schools of bream scattering. Above her three dark sharks circled the surface, scattering the sunlight and

The little submarine swam for the coral as another ugly, jagged charge drifted down. The shock of the resounding explosion, dulled by the water, sent her sprawling onto the sand. But she was not sunk yet.

Kicking out her flippers she darted from rock to rock, feeling the strain of her air reserves as the meter on her wrist ticked down to her doom. She glanced down at it – twenty minutes left.

This has to end, she thought to herself. This must end now!

Tugging at her belt she drew a few torpedoes from her pouch. With a light push off the rock that she hid behind she raced for the surface. The three black destroyers, circling the site of her crash-dive, turned for her. But before they could fire their guns she cast the torpedoes in a wide pattern, straight for her pursuers.

She didn’t even break the surface to gasp for air as she raced back for the bottom. She glanced again at her meter – ten minutes left.

Torricelli dived for a small rocky overhang at the bottom, straining her ears out for her torpedoes.

One rumble. Two rumbles.

Two destroyers sunk. She ducked out of her cover for a moment and saw, with immense relief, two black, viciously snapping destroyers sinking to the bottom. The third was nowhere to be seen.

With a swift kick of the flippers she swam for the surface, checking around warily for the last of her hunters. With just two minutes left she broke the calm surface, breathing in sweet air as if nothing else mattered.

The whistle of a shell in flight brought her back to her senses. It landed just over her head and splashed harmlessly a few feet away. Turning swiftly around she saw the last destroyer, bearing down fast, and not even stopping to fire again.

“Merda!” With a mouthful of air she plunged back down into the depths. She cast a frantic eye at the meter: with only seconds to spare on the surface, the meter had only gained five minutes – hardly enough.

Dannazione, dannazione, dannazione! Torricelli cursed herself for her negligence. Even now the sweet air she had taken in seemed to stale as she watched the black shadow glide over her, dropping several more charges. She dived again, feeling the shock waves of the charges exploding behind her.

As her mind raced to find a way out of her tightening corner, she turned and climbed for the surface, not caring where she went. Grasping the two remaining torpedoes in her hand she braced herself – it was now or never. As she broke the water’s surface again she threw the last two with all her might.

The black destroyer was a little slow to turn, and before it could zigzag away the first torpedo struck its flank, but did not explode. A dud!

Torricelli cursed, but watched on, regaining her breath. But before she could bring out her pistol the second torpedo struck home on the side of the destroyer – and this time a huge column of water erupted. Direct hit! With a last snap of its jaws the shark-like vessel slipped under the sea, oozing black, viscous oil from its flank.

She watched it as it sank beneath the waves, but reason came back as the sun shone down among the scattered clouds. Breathing in as much as she could, she turned and swam back for the coast.

~

By the time Torricelli surfaced back in the inlet, the two destroyers were already playing in the shallows, while Fiume and the rest lay on the beach.

“Torricelli! Where have you been?” Fiume rose from the sand just as the submarine emerged from the waters, her silky brown hair slicked back and her features worn and haggard.

“God, you look terrible. Che è successo?” Impero ran towards the trembling submarine while Aquila fetched a towel from her satchel.

“There was a battle,” Torricelli breathed, as she fought to control her breath. “Three destroyers – all sunk.” As Aquila laid the soft white towel over her shoulders she regained her calm. “Sorry for being late…” She unbuttoned her pouch, and out spilled a small sturgeon, several young bream, and a handful of shrimp.

“Va tutto bene, va tutto bene,” With Impero and Aquila at her sides Torricelli made her way to the shade of the leafy palms. Under the comforting hands of the rest of the squadron the submarine sat down onto the sand, and regained her breath. Fiume sat with her in the shade while Impero went over to the splashing destroyers in the cool water, and Bolzano scooped up Torricelli’s catches and went, cheerfully, with Aquila to cook lunch.

“All better, Torricelli?” Fiume asked.

“Adesso bene, grazie.” Torricelli hunched in close, drawing her feet inside the towel. “Fiume, where will you go now?”

The cruiser looked out at the rest of her squadron. Impero stood in the shallows, her red dress barely grazing the water’s surface while Oriani and Aviere splashed innocently under her watchful gaze; Aquila stoked her cooking pot over the fire-pit while Bolzano shelled the prawns and expertly scaled the fish. Fiume saw all this, and sighed.

“Our mission orders us to Japan,” Fiume said. Torricelli glanced over at her, a surprised look on her face.

“Japan? But… why?”

“I don’t know. The Admiral was very specific about it. He said something about the Germans being there-”

“I Tedeschi? What would they be doing there?”

“Who knows?” Fiume shrugged, and massaged her legs, brushing sand off her ankles. “It’s all one big adventure, huh?”

Torricelli leaned back on her hands, thinking hard. It was lonely in the Gulf, with nothing but swarms of Abyssal destroyers and cruisers that guarded the coast relentlessly to keep her on her toes. A series of rapid and devastating sea and air raids years ago had all but wiped out the major coastal ports, reducing them to the neglected ruins that now littered the Arabian coast. Only the smallest villages had escaped this campaign, but out of fear of invasion the native population had moved inland, to the safety of the deserts and savannahs.

It was hard, too, to make a living out of the constant Abyssal presence. Once domination of the Arabian and East African coast had been assured, the Abyssals proceeded to build their stronghold on the island of Socotra. With that crucial island in their grasp the Gulf navies had effectively been neutralized.

Torricelli considered all of this, while Fiume rested easily beside her. The wind carried whispers of bustling cities and merry villages, mingled with the derisive calls of gulls and the squeak of sail tackle, but both knew such whispers were echoes of the past – a past age that none of their kind had ever existed in.

“Fiume,” Torricelli began, “You must know that to clear the Gulf, you must go past Socotra?”

“L’isola? Can’t we avoid that? We could just swing to the south and race for Colombo.”

“Impossibile. The patrols sweep in such a wide arc around it that it covers all approaches. All the coasts are heavily guarded as well, so no chance there as well.”

A flicker of annoyance crossed Fiume’s face. “Well then, as you say, another fight is inevitable. I wouldn’t believe it if we managed to get all the way to Singapore without fighting a single battle.”

Torricelli looked at her. “Then why don’t I come along?” A smile crept on the submarine’s slick face. “You’re going to need my help if you want to get out of here.”

Fiume smiled at the submarine, who grinned back, baring all of her dazzling white teeth. The heavy cruiser regarded her new companion – a companion who would serve them well in the battles to come.

CaioDuilio
03-03-2015, 04:07 AM
Back to the Germans!

[104] CULTURE SHOCK

Gneisenau was in trouble.

As the German girls stepped into the special mess that had been reserved for them, the battle-cruiser had spotted, among the throng over welcoming Japanese girls, four beautiful, white-robed girls all part of the enthusiastic welcoming party. But one had grabbed her attention the most – one of fair complexion, gentle bearing and fine, black hair, just like her own – she was instantly smitten.

Gneisenau was in deep, deep trouble.

As the hugs, salutes and shaking of hands settle down, the squadron sat amongst the natives, Gneisenau finding herself next to her adored Bismarck and a lively Japanese girl in yellow robes. She shook hands with her, and learned her name was Hiryu, a carrier not unlike their own Seydlitz. But even as they chatted out of courtesy, waiting for the formal speeches, she stole furtive glances at the black-haired girl.

At last, a little bell was rung, and the chatter died down as the leader of the welcoming party, a stern but not unkind figure in a white uniform stepped up onto the little podium.

“Members of the German East Asia Division – welcome! Welcome to Okinawa!” The high-pitched cheers of the Japanese mingled with the heavier voices of their German companions.

“I hope this won’t be too long, as I know you’re all dying to eat, but firstly-” The well-built leader of the party cleared her throat. “Firstly, I want to say it is an honour to have you with us safely-” More whoops and cheers. “I know our German friends must be very tired from their journey here, so to everyone – help them out as much as you can! Thank you!” As she stepped down to applause and hurrahs the party began in full swing.

Pints of local beer were downed by the gallon as Seydlitz and Bismarck linked arms with Kongou and Hyuuga, singing bawdy songs in soprano and mezzo, not caring for the melody; Leberecht sampled the local delicacies with encouragement from Samidare and Shikinami, all laughing uproariously when they came to the more exotic treats.

Gneisenau drew out her fiddle and played a gay tune to accompany the drunken singers, much to the admiration of the rest of Kongou’s kin. She played as skilfully as she could, hoping to (discreetly) impress her new crush – to her delight Haruna sat close by with her sisters, starry-eyed as the rest of them.

But for the final two of the squadron, Scheer and Konigsberg, the party was a great shock to them. As they nervously picked at their food while the exuberance in the room grew, Ise noticed their reticence and sidled over.

“Is something the matter, friends?” she asked politely.

Konigsberg seemed not to notice but Scheer set down her cup. “Nothing is the matter, Frau Ise.” The words sounded alien coming from the stern cruiser, and indeed Ise, one of the most experienced ships on the island base, blinked in surprise.

“Are you tired? Perhaps I could show you to your-”

Scheer rose quickly, startling those around her. She straightened her wrinkled jacket and with a tiny gesture, Konigsberg followed suit without a word. “That would be most helpful, Frau Ise.” As the rigid cruiser said those words she hardly noticed the giggles of the half-soused girls around her.

Ise sheepishly turned and led them out of the hall. The other four were too busy in their revels, drinking, eating, laughing, and singing the night away. As the three stolid girls, the battleship and the two cruisers left the room, Gneisenau barely glanced at their departure, still serenading her admiring new crush, while Leberecht now boisterously joined in with her sisters in their songs.

~

“Here we are,” Ise turned the knob and showed Scheer and Konigsberg their new home. It was a decent-sized dormitory, with two double-bunks, a simple low table, and a little bureau containing towels and white, cotton robes. A door to the side opened into another, smaller room with a single double-bunk. Both rooms had windows looking out into the main courtyard. But there was something missing-

“Our baths are communal, so I’m sorry to say you’ll have to share,” Ise bowed apologetically to the two arrivals. Then she smiled. “But I’m certain you’ll meet plenty of the other girls there. Is there anything else I can help you with?” The stolid battleship stood framed in the threshold, the light of the corridor casting a long shadow in the dimly-lit dormitory.

Scheer stood fully erect, staring down the tough battleship. Her eyes held no emotion as she silently established her territory. “No,” she said, her voice full of assurance, “I think we are quite fine here. Thank you, Frau Ise.”

Ise laughed a throaty, hearty laugh that shattered the tension in the air. “I wish you’d stop calling me ‘Frau’. It sounds so weird.” She turned to leave. “Breakfast is at 7 a.m. I hope you have a pleasant stay.” Scheer bowed slightly in apology as Ise left the room.

The door closed. Waiting for the footsteps to die away, the two cruisers stood stock still, waiting for complete silence.

Without another second Scheer unbuttoned the top button of her jacket and breathed a sigh of relief. Konigsberg sat down one of the bunks and sank onto the soft covers.

“Quite a reception, don’t you think, Frau Scheer?” Konigsberg asked from her bed.

Scheer grunted. Slowly, laboriously, she took off her jacket, shaking back her silky black hair. Stripping off her tie with a neat flourish she deposited them carefully on her bed, the bunk closest to the door.

“I’m going for a bath,” she said simply. “Care to join me, Konigsberg?”

Konigsberg instantly perked up. “Certainly, Frau Scheer.” She bubbled inwardly at the thought of sharing a bath with her commander. With certain haste she scrambled to get towels and robes for the both of them, neglecting to take off her own service jacket. The light cruiser struggled to contain her emotions and remain her usual calm self as they walked silently down the wood-panelled corridor.

“Baths, baths… Ah, this must be the way.” Scheer effortlessly navigated her way through the building, and before long the two stood before a familiar bath-mat and a wooden sliding door. A smell of steam mixed with flowers and scented oils wafted from the cracks.

They entered. Swiftly taking cues from the signs they went into the changing-rooms, and in seconds they were dipping their toes into the hot, deserted bath.

“It’s hot!” Konigsberg exclaimed. Scheer, however, slid straight in, letting the towel fall to the side. Without the slightest ripple she sunk to shoulder level, bathing without the slightest murmur. Konigsberg looked at the reclining cruiser and slid in as calmly as she could.

“Ow, ow, ow!” Konigsberg paddled in shock as the heat seared through, disturbing the still surface of the water. Eventually she calmed, as the heat turned into a relaxant. She edged closer to Scheer, nervous but at the same time exhilarated to be so close.

Together they sat in silence, moving around a little to wash off some of the accumulated grime from previous battles.

At last, Konigsberg, unable to tolerate the silence any longer, spoke. “Frau Scheer, what do you think of the Japanese?”

The armoured cruiser remained silent, but Konigsberg knew she was thinking hard. Then she turned around, resting her arms on the bath’s edge.

“They are most hospitable,” she began slowly, “but their habits are most alien to me. I admire this bath of theirs, but still, I am a little… uncomfortable.” As if to stress that point she sighed, and kicked her legs out a little, sending a little ripple through the water.

“Really, Frau Scheer? I find them a most lively race. I wonder if the rest have-“

“Nevertheless tomorrow we shall resume out normal routines.” Scheer’s voice held an edge that cut through the idle chatter. “I want all units up and formed in the main courtyard at six. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Frau Scheer.” Konigsberg was disappointed, but she hid that the best she could as she followed Scheer out of the bath.

~

Scheer and Konigsberg slept undisturbed, even when their fellow revellers barged in late, all tipsy and struggling for balance. Miraculously they all managed to get into their bunks and collapse into immediate sleep.

Not for long.

Three hours later, Scheer woke in the next room, completely refreshed. She swung out of the bunk and found her gear propped up on the wall, and her clothes hanging where they had been hung the previous night. Donning on her uniform, she then slid three powder charges into one of her triple guns.

She carried the gun into the next room, where she found Konigsberg fully dressed and standing easy by the door. She quickly came to attention as Scheer walked in, and looked expectantly at the turret Scheer carried.

Without another word, Scheer jabbed down the ignition.

Impstar_Deuce
03-06-2015, 11:32 AM
Oh dear, Gneisenau doesn't know it but her crush is doomed. :(

CaioDuilio
03-08-2015, 10:35 AM
@Impstar_Deuce (http://www.himeuta.net/members/1455-impstar_deuce/) How so?

Also, to any good graphic artists reading this series - I am currently searching for a colleague for a collaboration in designing full portraits of the girls mentioned, detailed and involved in this series. The work done will be chiefly in the artist's interests and according to my own researches. For expressions of interest please leave a PM~

CaioDuilio
03-11-2015, 11:43 PM
Looking back at the old posts I don't think I ever posted the second RN chapter (might be to do with the roll-back. Hmmm). Well, here's a nice double-installment both from our friends the Brits. Enjoy.

[302] A FAREWELL PARTY

Casual chatter mingled with the tinkle of glasses as the large group on Holles’ lawn gathered and waited for the admiral to walk in and give his speech.

Ark Royal stood in the middle of this throng, wearing her normal battledress. She looked out at all the other girls gathered around her and beamed at them all.

There was the battleship Warspite, in her old captain’s embroidered jacket and straw-coloured hair, talking earnestly with that veteran of the Pacific, the battleship King George V (or Georgie as she was nicknamed), dressed in the usual officers’ shirt, jacket and skirt. She smiled and chuckled at Warspite’s profanities, while the light cruisers Penelope and Sirius blushed in their midst.

At another table the sailor suit-clad destroyer sisters Charity, Cheviot and Childers stood tying up each other’s hair, trying to spruce themselves up before the Vice-Admiral’s appearance. Behind them the heavy cruisers Norfolk and Berwick chatted themselves up to the reluctant carrier Victorious (another veteran of the Pacific). They were asking for love advice and Victorious, Ark observed, kept her mouth shut as they advanced ever more closely.

Thankfully the sound of a door opening and shutting brought their pleas to a grinding halt. Victorious, relieved, moved towards Ark.

“Thank goodness he’s here,” Victorious whispered to her, chancing a quick peek behind at the two conspiring cruisers. “I thought I would have had to bring the bow out, but in the end I guess my position is safe… for now.”

Ark giggled, but promptly quietened as Vice-Admiral Hollers made his way up to the little podium.

“HO!” As quickly as Warspite rapped out the order the entire party came to attention.

“At ease.” Holles cleared his throat as the girls rested, but they all remained alert. The fair-haired admiral came to a stop at the very edge of the platform. “I thank you all for coming today. I am sure that each of you has prepared yourselves for this task.”

A murmur of confidence swept through the little crowd. Holles drew breath and continued. “Fifteen years ago, we were at the pinnacle of our global power. But as you all know, the appearance of the alien fleets we know as the Abyssals came up and wrested that control away from us. It was a brutal, savage war and we came away worse for wear.”

“Today, however, that will change. We who stand here today are on the edge of a new age in history. This mission will test you in ways you have never thought possible. As I look upon you all now, I can feel nothing but pride for what you are all about to accomplish.”

A few of the younger girls blushed at these words, but Ark and the rest of the more senior girls held their emotions at bay.

“I ask each and every one of you to support each other in times of need and strife. I ask that when the time comes in your journey, you will rise to the challenge for whatever adversary that stands in your way.”

Holles’s voice broke as he regarded the mass of beaming ship-girls before him. “I have every faith that you will succeed in this endeavour. Good luck, and Godspeed.” As Holles stepped off the podium the girls cheered as one as their commander walked down towards them. He shook hands with the battleships and ruffled the destroyers’ hair, and from standing a little way away Ark could see tears, real human tears trickling down his face.

~
While bitter and orange squash flowed freely in the special mess near the docks that night, Ark sat outside, gazing up at the starry expanse above.

“So there you are!” Ark turned and saw Georgie striding towards her, with two glasses of squash in hand. She wore her usual outfit of shirt, tie, navy jacket and skirt, but her fine grey hair was tousled and she smelt of cheap beer. “Been looking all over the mess for you. Here,” she handed one of the glasses to the reclining carrier.

“Thanks.” As Ark took the glass Georgie settled down beside her, letting her lissom legs dangle off the edge of the pier.

“So, all ready for tomorrow?” Georgie asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be. Just waiting on supplies from HQ depot, and we’ll be off at the appointed time tomorrow.” Ark sighed, and took a long drink. “How are things with Warspite?”

“Lousy. The destroyers are learning more swears than I thought possible. They’ll be cussing like the rest of us when we’re off.” Georgie flung her head back and breathed in the night air. “I’ll miss this place.”

“You too?” Ark had been sad to realize that the mission would not be a short one. The journey ahead of the fleet was fraught with dangers, and she was certain that not all of them would live to see Blighty again.

“Yeah. I don’t know how Anson and Howe will get along without me, but I guess that’ll figure itself out while I’m gone.” The handsome battleship edged closer to Ark. “I’m a little afraid about what’s going to happen…”

“Why? You’ve been there, you’ve done it all, what are you afraid of?”

“You’ve never seen the Pacific, Ark, but I have. A great expanse of blue twice as large as the Atlantic, and believe me, the sheer size of it is frightening. We’ve had stiff opposition here, who knows how strong the alien fleets over there are by now?”

Ark thought about it for a moment. There was a grain of truth in what Georgie was saying, and now she considered the facts. The Pacific was indeed an opponent to be feared in its own right – how many had perished in its tyranny of distance?

“But that’s enough of that talk. We’ll deal with it comes, eh?” She raised her glass to the sky. “To our success!”

“Yes, I suppose.” Ark raised her own glass and they downed their glasses in one. They threw their glasses into the sea with a neat splash, stood and stretched.

“Ah, that did the trick,” Georgie sighed. “Hope I can sleep tonight, all that beer’s been keeping me up lately.”

Ark giggled. “How many times has Rodney drunk you under the table so far?” she asked.

“God, I don’t know!” Georgie pinched Ark’s cheek, gritting her teeth. “That old battlewagon’s been calling me up every other night for the pub and I can’t refuse, since she’s the one paying for it…”

“And how has dear Yorkie been taking it?”

“She puts up with it! She never complains about me coming back late and stinking of bitter.” Georgie smiled at the thought of her sister, Duke of York. “Sometimes, I think we were made for each other…”

“A match made in heaven, so to speak?”

“Tell me about it… Come on, let’s get back to the mess.” Ark linked arms with Georgie and they walked back to the mess hut.

[303] A BOTHER AND BATTLE

The tarp-covered truck rumbled down the country road, past fields of newly-sown wheat. It made for the coast road and turned quickly from dirt onto asphalt. As the truck gathered speed again Ark looked out from her seat at the rearmost of the truck. Black tarmac cut into fresh green grass, which ran for several hundred more yards in undulating little hills until it cut abruptly into blue sky.

The White Cliffs, Ark idly thought to herself. The truck, driven by a corporal of the Royal Marines, thundered down the road. The rolling green, sparse hills gave way to the tended pastures of the coastal farmers, all dotted with the brown and monochrome coats of grazing cattle.

The truck bumped and jostled the occupants of the lorry’s rear, who grin and bore it with as much humour as they could. All eleven of Ark’s fleet sat on the wooden benches, all in their combat uniforms – a motley collection of officer’s uniforms for the battleships and carriers, while the cruisers and destroyers wore school uniforms of various designs, such as Cheviot’s tie, blazer and dress and Berwick’s navy gymslip and tartan skirt.

At last, the truck rolled into the outskirts of Dover. Even with the threat of Abyssal raids the port’s citizens had endured the danger, and the streets thronged with ordinary men, women and children as they went about their daily business. Ark waved to a few children playing in the street, and they chased the truck for a while. It was all perfectly normal.

They drove past the main square, full of old widows and veterans erecting stalls and colourful fairings in preparation for the Sunday market, past the piers littered with ancient-looking anglers forever waiting for bites, until they came to a security checkpoint guarded by a road barrier and two sentries.

The soldiers waved the truck on, and one even waved to Ark, who smiled decorously back. They rumbled down the road a little further until they reached the sprawling main base. The truck pulled up at the fine manor house that was the administrative block and the girls descended.

~

Holles was in a bad mood. Aides stood nervously to one side as the vice admiral paced the map, shooting the board little darting looks as he contemplated the situation.
Four red blocks lined the channel. Red meant the enemy. Four enemy fleets stood in the way of the mission.

As Holles kneaded his skull with his knuckles, Ark strode into the room, followed by Warspite and
Georgie. Holles looked up and forced a smile as they approached.

“Ark, so glad to see you.” Holles shook hands with the lithe carrier. “Good to see you’ve all arrived safely.”

“Sir, what’s going on?” Ark glanced at the map board.

“A spot of bother. The Abyssals have gotten wind of our plans, so it seems. We’re all a little stumped on what to do here-“

“Sir!” One of the aides held up a phone receiver. “From London, important call from HQ.”

“Oh, speak of the devil!” Holles looked at the three girls. “Just a moment, girls, this won’t take long.”

Holles picked up the receiver, while Ark, Warspite and Georgie milled around the table. “Holles speaking.”

The voice from HQ was cold and rasping. “Holles, I’ve just read your missive on the enemy blockade. You recommended an immediate break-out, correct?”

“Yes, sir, that is correct.” Holles knew that cold voice well. It belonged to the formidable Admiral Holderness, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet.

“Well, Holles, you’re in luck. Lord Callan just spoke to the French in Calais – they’ve agreed to co-operate. 4th Combined Squadron and 21st Destroyer Flotilla is en route to support, arrive at 1930 hrs. This will be a combined British-French operation.”

“Understood, sir.” The French! Holles groaned inwardly. What could the French possibly do to help?

“The French will begin their engagement at 2000 hrs. Do whatever it takes to break through. Do you understand, Holles?”

“Understood, sir.” With an assenting grunt the line clicked off. Before Holles could draw breath, the phone rang again. He picked it up again. “Holles speaking.”

“Vice-Admiral Holles?” This time a gruff Parisian accent came over the line. “This is Vice-Admiral Andrassy of the Normandy Fleet, Offensive Operations. I’ve been instructed to send a detachment to clear the blockade. Is this correct?”

“Yes, Andrassy, quite correct.” Holles had dealt with the French in Calais a few times before, chiefly on the negotiation of escorts for merchant shipping in the Channel. This, however, was very different.

“I see! Well,” The French admiral hummed a little bit, clearly in thought. “Ah! Recon photos! Just in time. Let me see… four fleets, yes, we know that, made up of… what’s this? Three without air cover? No wonder!”

“Andrassy, what is it?” Holles enquired.

“Aha, yes. Oh, sorry about that, monsieur. It looks like this operation will be easier than expected,” Andrassy cleared his throat noisily. “Only one of the enemy fleets has air cover.”

“What!” Despite the bulk of the enemy force, an Abyssal fleet without air cover was easy pickings. And due to the close proximity of the fleets to the coast the RAF and French Air Force squadrons could pick them off with impunity. “This means-”

“Yes, yes, yes!” There was a clatter on the other end as the excited French admiral put down the phone. Holles could distantly hear rapid-fire French on the other end, and the shuffling and clacking of shoes told of hurried movements and activity. At last Andrassy picked the receiver up again. “Excuse me, monsieur.”

“I assume you’ve just scrambled your squadrons?” Holles asked.

“There isn’t a moment to lose! I’ll call you back when they’ve finished. Then you can send your boys in.” Before he could respond, the Frenchman cut off the call.

Holles spun around to Ark and the rest. “Ark,” he began, and the carrier could hear the excitement vibrating in his usually-calm tone. “Gather your units, and prepare for deployment immediately. The French have begun their attack.”

~

As predicted by Holles, and as Ark and the rest of the British Asia Expeditionary Fleet hit the water and sailed west, the French aerial attack was a disaster. Confusion amongst the pilots about their destination led to a tangle on the take-off, which scattered the squadrons fatally. As they approached their targets Abyssal fighters pounced on them out of the low cloud as they were climbing to combat height and decimated them; heavy ground fire from the massed fleets picked off the low-level stragglers. The French only managed to damage three of the southern-most fleet – a pitiful effort.

The RAF, however, had a better time of things. Out of the bases of 11 Group came squadrons of Spitfires to guard the Wellingtons and Beaufighters flying out of Cornwall, while Mosquitoes, befitting their namesake, flitted out of bases in Hampshire. Soon a buzzing ‘beehive’ of bombers and fighters was racing south to attack the vulnerable Abyssal fleets.

Holles was poring over the map table when the news of the raids started filtering in. Despite heavy fighting and a general ‘shambles’ off Portsmouth, a significant majority of the bombers broke through to the open fleets. Two destroyers and a light cruiser were sunk in the four waves of 36 bombers, with another heavy cruiser and two light cruisers damaged and driven off. The northern flank had ceased to exist.

But the bulk of the Abyssal fleet still lingered in the Channel. Holles had taken a massive gamble by sending Ark out with the combined fleet. He hoped that the disastrous French air assault would sting their pride and force them to commence their naval assault earlier, but no luck – Andrassy called up just as the RAF powered into the attack and regretfully informed him the aerial disaster would delay French naval deployment by an hour.

Oh well. That still left the 4th Combined Squadron with the 21st Destroyers. Holles lit a cigar – something he rarely did, in an effort to steel his nerves – and stared out of the window, a fine, grey ash dropping onto the blue and white map.

~

On the water however, Ark had a more stressful time with things. Splitting the combined fleet into their battle formations, organizing the order of battle for the upcoming confrontation, watching nervously as the swarms of RAF and Abyssal aircraft fought it out over the far horizon, she had every reason to be anxious about the battle.

As the low drone of homeward-bound aircraft lessened, Ark notched her bow with a single blue-tipped arrow. Beside her she could hear the stretching of another bowstring as Victorious did the same. The queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach vanished and her mind ran clear and sharp as she let the arrow go. Heralding the opening of the battle, Warspite and Georgie’s massed eighteen guns roared simultaneously in an ear-shattering blast, ranging their shots.

“East Squadron, move out!” Ark cried.

CaioDuilio
03-17-2015, 11:38 PM
I couldn't wait to release - one-week delays are just too long. In that time I've written 3 full chapters and I can't write anymore until they're off - So here is the second American chapter, one day early. Enjoy.

[402] REFIT AND RELIEF

The sweltering Pacific sun beat down relentlessly on the baking tarmac as the assembled ship-girls sweated in its hot rays. Some itched as the mosquitoes took them for easy game, but others itched for something else altogether.

“Squadron, atten-SHUN!”

Eleven pairs of assorted footwear came together as the amassed squadron stood ready for the arrival of the Commanding Ship, the great battleship Iowa. Admired by many, feared by even the Abyssals, her daunting armour and devastating firepower was renowned. Today, she wore a light khaki uniform with sunhat and tinted glasses, and as she walked by the first rank of volunteers a little murmur of awe washed over them.

“Squadron, stand at, ease!” Iowa’s voice was naturally commanding, full of hard-won authority. Eleven pairs of assorted footwear returned to their starting positions.

The squadron , Colorado, stayed at attention while Iowa walked by the front rank again, this time looking each volunteer in the eyes, searching their very souls. Suddenly, as if she had decided upon a victim, she straightened before Atlanta, who strove to keep herself still under the battleship’s powerful gaze.

“Atlanta, why do you want to go on this mission?”

The light cruiser responded as enthusiastically as she could. “To take the fight to the enemy, ma’am!”

“WRONG!” Atlanta winced at that outburst, but Iowa did not seem to notice as she swept away from her, expounding her own rhetoric. “You stand here today as a volunteer of the vanguard of the finest ships the world has to offer! This is no ordinary sortie! Allow me to ask again – why are you here, Atlanta?”

Atlanta could only remain silent, lost for words. It was true – she had volunteered thinking that it would just be another normal sortie. She had never expected to come face-to-face with Iowa in the course of preparing for it.

“AS I THOUGHT!” Iowa triumphantly crowed. She turned her back on the now-trembling cruiser, shouting her own opinions at no-one in particular. Atlanta was verging on tears and the expostulating battleship seemed not to notice, berating her without even looking at her.

“Permission to speak-” Colorado piped up, but Iowa swiftly cut across her. “DENIED! And when you realize the enormity of the task you are undertaking there will be no-one to cry to! Do I make myself clear, Atlanta?”

Eyes brimming with tears, Atlanta mutely nodded. Iowa surveyed the damage done and drew back. The light cruiser could feel the lingering gaze of Iowa on her, but felt slightly comforted by the sympathetic feelings her comrades piled on her.
With a casual wave of the hand Iowa dismissed them. The girls quickly fled to the shelter of the mess veranda, where they crowded around the blubbering Atlanta. Meanwhile Iowa and Colorado stayed in the sun.

It was a while before either of them spoke. “If I may say so, ma’am, that was uncalled for,” Colorado admonished.

Iowa grunted, and looked out at the deserted airfield. She thought hard for a while, and then gave her response. “It’s not that it was uncalled for. The girls need to know what they’re getting into to. Remember, we’ve all seen our fair share of losses…”

“But was that really necessary?”

“They’ve got to be tough for the coming months. It’s no use sugar-coating it for them, we will definitely lose ships and it will be a difficult time for all of us.” Iowa removed her sunhat, revealing her carefully-kept brown locks.

Colorado remained silent at this. Together they gazed out at the expanse of tarmac before them, disregarding the heat even as it beat down on their backs.

~

“There, there, Atlanta, it’s not so bad.” Montpelier patted the crying cruiser’s back while the others looked on.

Atlanta sniffed as the reassuring hands and caresses of the other volunteers comforted her. “Th-thanks, everyone…”

“But ya gotta admit, that Iowa’s got some style,” Trenton breathed, whistling at the memory of the tough-as-nails Iowa.

“What d’you mean? She might be the most powerful, but she’s got a lotta nerve bullyin’ dear Atlanta…” Saratoga responded, absent-mindedly stroking Atlanta’s rolled brown hair while glaring at the oblivious battleship, who continued to chat with Colorado.

“Yeah, she’s got nerve, but we’re all gonna need some of that for whatever HQ’s cooking up for us.” Trenton, herself the image of a tough-as-nails working-class girl, lounged on the wooden side of the mess hall. She wore a beaten and cuffed polka-dotted dress that conflicted in style with the rest of the other girls.

The other girls remained silent. Trenton had a point. It was unusual to see a powerful battleship commanding a combined fleet, much less so an Iowa-class, who they knew would more likely be commanding battalions of aides in the heated ops rooms of major bases.

Iowa was a tonic to them, an emblem of strength that would undoubtedly help them overcome the evil days ahead. But at the same time, while she struck fear into the cold hearts of Abyssals, she chilled the rest of the squadron with her own attitudes. Who knew where such strength without care would take them?

At last, like a clarion call that lifted the doubt from their hearts, the mess bell rang. With comforting pats on the back to Atlanta, the ten volunteers filed into the mess for lunch.

~

The next morning, the outfitter’s hall was unusually full. The Navy armourers watched in stunned surprise as eleven, eleven girls trooped into their humble workshops. Most were content to outfit three or four a day, but eleven? Something had to be up.

Imagine their further surprise when the tall, perfect form of the beautiful Iowa walked in minutes later. Today she was dressed in her combat uniform, a grey tight-fitting sleeveless top under her light, white officer’s coat positively groaning under the weight of a multitude of ribbons and awards. A mid-thigh white skirt hid full-length black stockings. Some apprentices bowed in low acquiescence, awed at the sight of the famous battleship. She in turn looked blithely ahead, completely unconcerned with her own fame.

Slowly, the process of refitting began. Atlanta watched amusedly on while Ingraham and Jouett struggled on their new harnesses on top of their crisp white shirts. The young male fitters helped them in, and began bringing the armament, attaching twin turrets and torpedo mounts with a detached air of professionalism.

Atlanta looked around to the others. In another corner Augusta was being kitted out with her improved twin eight-inchers, two on the shoulders, another two over, and one arm-mounted. The fitters worked without demur even as some, like Trenton and Montpelier, squirmed at being handled – they’d done this for countless others.

In the centre of the room Iowa was being fitted out. Pairs of burly veterans carried in her triple sixteen-inch guns, monsters in their own right, and bolted them firmly onto the waiting battleship, two over her shoulders and one atop a hull-shield on her right. The mini-Bofors and Oerlikons were added in platforms on the left hull in batteries of four or three. Iowa stood calmly in the midst of all her fitters, patiently waiting.

Saratoga and Ticonderoga sat nearby, being attended to each by a veteran armourer and two assistants. They ran over all their equipment carefully, checking for wear and hair cracks. When found they riveted new plate on top. For Saratoga her flight deck was completely re-plated and re-painted in the jagged green and brown of the tropical camouflage.

At last, a jolly-faced old hand greeted Atlanta, who had been watching everything from near the door. “You must be the light cruiser Atlanta. Please, do take a seat.” He beckoned to a wooden chair in his own little forge-area. As she sat down she glanced at the gleaming tools on the workbench, a neat little array of wrenches, spanners, screwdrivers and hammers.

“We’ve made quite a few changes to your kit. Your radar has been upgraded and we’re adding a fire-control director to your superstructure. Please, stand and hold your arms out.” The old armourer spoke with a brisk, businesslike tone as he put on her the new harness. Atlanta’s knees almost buckled under the new weight, but she steadied herself in time.

“We’ve also re-mounted the twin turrets – now you’ll have four mounted on your hull-shields, all on side platforms. The other four will remain on your forearms.” Atlanta struggled to bear the weight as the redesigned turrets, a cool-looking swept counterweight design, were attached onto their mounts. The old fitter hummed a little as he worked the bolts in, and then drew back. “You can sit back down now. How does it feel?”

“Heavy,” was all Atlanta could manage.

The bearded armourer laughed. “Well, with your design, it’s not very easy to reduce the weight. To compensate the reloading system has been improved, and the tracking rate has too. You’ll have an easier time shooting flies out of the air.”

Atlanta turned the turrets a little. They whirred quickly into life, and swung easily and noiselessly. The guns elevated with ease and with the director installed she could see virtual white lines in the air, outlining her shell trajectories.

The veteran fitter moved away to help with little Hawkins and Montpelier sidled over. “You look well-built,” She looked Atlanta over, top to bottom, and Atlanta could see the other cruiser’s four triple-sixes on her legs and shoulders. The Cleveland-class walked easily, almost as if the weight of the guns and machinery didn’t matter.

“Hmmm, did they add anything to the superstructure?” Montpelier asked, examining her smokestack.

“A fire-director, he said.” Atlanta nudged the dome-like apparatus near the top of the structure. “What about you? What did they change?”

“Me? Ummm… Well, I had my twins removed, so no more AA for me. These, though” She raised her shoulder, turning the triple-six-inch in its mount “they got an ammo upgrade, so I got a bit more punch in return.”

Atlanta was relieved. It seemed that some of the changes affecting the others were only minor, and none of it seemed to add up to anything major. With that happy thought in mind, she followed Montpelier outside, towards the testing ranges.

Impstar_Deuce
04-04-2015, 08:55 AM
CaioDuilio I recall in a previous chapter that Haruna and Kirishima are... well, together. I don't know, maybe I'm remembering something wrong.

CaioDuilio
04-05-2015, 12:02 PM
Impstar_Deuce You are right, and that's something that will be explored further once I figure out the Gneisenau-Haruna-Kirishima love triangle.

Apologies for the delay, dealing with some difficult issues at the moment in the real world. Might have something up in one or two days.

CaioDuilio
04-12-2015, 12:04 PM
Second Soviet chapter inbound, a bit more reminiscence (last one, I promise!)

[602] ETERNAL MEMORY

Winter passed. As the snows melted into the frozen grass beneath and the temperature eased to more manageable levels the little cottages and houses that lined the swept coast shed their burdens of snow and their inhabitants, relieved by the thaw, resumed their walks to work.

Only one man did not follow the little bands of gruff old men that walked up the beaten road to the industrial complex. He was a gruff and grizzled man himself, the survivor of two great wars, like many who walked now. He stood in the tiny tiled room he called a kitchen and stoked the logs burning in the range, humming merrily to himself.

A pot of bubbling cabbage sat atop the stove. The old man stirred the pot and the lumps of vegetable slid greasily around. He dipped a grubby spoon in and tasted – bitter, but recognizable. It would have to do.

“Arisha! Breakfast!” he called.

Slow, muffled feet walked into the little front room the old man called his dining room. He turned, and saw his daughter, dressed in a grey wool jumper and knee-length skirt of the same colour. Every part of her seemed to declare her an emissary of grey, from her silky hair to her sombre, dark eyes.

Her name was not Arisha. Arisha is a token name for ‘peace’, and her origins did not entertain such notions.

But the old man didn’t care. With a cheerful smile he greeted her, and ladled some of the cabbage broth into her bowl. Arisha took up her spoon and ate, no muscle on her face betraying any thought of enjoyment, disgust or others. She ate steadily, and even before the old man had finished she laid down her licked spoon, bowl empty.

“This was good. What was it?” she asked in a dull, flat, monotone voice. But to the old man it was a melodious noise, a voice he welcomed whole-heartedly in his house.

“Old family recipe,” the old man replied. “Passed down by my grandfather, from his mother. Warming, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Quite so.”

The old man finished his soup. He stood, and she handed him her bowl. “You go and rest, Arisha,” the old man said. “I’ll clear this up.”

Without another word Arisha turned and headed back into the other room. No matter how emotionless she seemed, the old man appreciated her presence nevertheless.

~

Pencil scribbled furiously on yellowing paper as the young psychologist, barely out of the Academy, took notes of the meeting before him. A typewriter would have been more appropriate, but shortages in the cities meant none could be spared for the rural areas.

He sat on a wooden chair against the wall, looking up every now and again at the three others with him inside the cell.

One was dressed in the black officer’s uniform of the Red Fleet, the base deputy. He lounged against the wall, a youth barely nearing his thirties, smoking a gold-tipped cigarette from the many in his much-beaten case.

Another, a gruff, old man, sat in the other chair in the room. He wore the worn green woollen jacket and rough trousers of a labourer, but his age said otherwise. He was in fact the base factory manager.

But it was the last ‘person’ in the room that everyone else focused their attention onto. ‘She’ sat on the bed, a thin but lithe person, sporting long grey hair and fierce, dark eyes. ‘She’ wore a grey woollen hooded jumper and an equally grey long skirt. Her name was ‘Arisha’, but that was just a temporary measure. No-one knew for certain what she was called.

“Arisha,” The factory manager pleaded, his eyes shining at the sight of the ‘girl’. “Arisha, what are you?”

Arisha remained silent. With a desperate glance at the young naval officer, the manager moved his chair closer.

“Arisha, you know better than to not answer my questions. You are my daughter, and you-“

“I do not now.” She spoke in a flat voice, devoid of any emotion. “I do not know who I am.”

“Well,” the young officer piped up, “in any case we know what you roughly are. From what our technicians observed yesterday, you display similarities in equipment to a Kirov-class cruiser. Is that correct?”

“I would not know,” Arisha answered in that same dull tone. “I do not know what a ‘Kirov-class cruiser’ is. All I know is that I was built for one purpose, and that is a purpose I must be given.”

“I see. And what purpose do you believe that we must give you?”

“I would not know.”

“Hmmm.” The young officer sank into deep thought, while the manager extended his hand to meet with Arisha’s. She did not react to his callused touch.

The young officer stubbed his cigarette on his beaten case and ground it out with his foot. He pushed himself off the wall, and sat at the foot of the bed, facing away from Arisha.

“What do you know about the organization known as the Abyssals?”

Upon hearing that last word, the manager and the psychologist stared at the officer, shocked. The Abyssals were a taboo subject, never to be spoken of. If the Security Officers were to catch wind of what he had just said-

Arisha, however, showed no such reaction. She looked blankly ahead, but the old manager knew she was thinking.

“I do not know much about such an organization,” she said slowly – but it was a clear break from her usual manner of speech. “Aside from the fact that they are a known enemy to me. Why do you ask?”

It was the first time she had asked a question of her own accord, and the psychologist had to bite his tongue to stop himself from bursting out with his own questions. The factory manager looked confused, wondering how such a forbidden subject could relate to Arisha.

The young officer, however, continued to speak behind her back. “So you confess to knowing about such a force in this world?”

“I know that they must be destroyed. That is all.”

“I see. Does this intention have anything to do with your equipment?”

“My equipment is merely a means towards the end. Nothing more.”

“Can you explain to us the workings of your equipment?”

“I cannot explain that. My will commands them, and they answer to my will.”

“Do you answer to any higher order?”

“I know I must eventually.”

~

A knock at the door. The old manager looked up from his washing-up and trudged to the front door, wiping his hands with a spotted towel.

The young naval officer was there. But this time, instead of the clean-cut black uniform that he usually wore, the officer had on the gold-braided uniform of someone much more important. The old manager blinked at this. Then he showed him in.

“I’ve been promoted, comrade,” he explained, sitting down at the rough-hewn wooden table and placing his briefcase on the table. “I’ve been ordered to a naval base near here – commandant, no less.” His usually-placid face was grinning, like a child with a new toy.

“Good to hear.” The manager looked only at the leather briefcase on his table.

“But that promotion comes with other changes too. For instance, your Arisha is to come with me to help establish the new base.” The manager, upon hearing those words, rose violently, his beetle-black eyes glinting dangerously at the thought.

“What do you mean, to take her away from me?” he asked, barely suppressing his rage at this blithe young man nonchalantly taking his joy, his revived past away.

The young officer raised a hand, in an effort to pacify the furious man before him. “Hear me out, comrade. I did not come here just to bring bad news, did I? You know how the system works, comrade? If I had just needed only Arisha, we would have taken her while you were away. You would never have known.”

Rage still boiled in the old man’s veins, but at those calm words he could dimly see the reasoning behind it. Yes, it was true – Arisha would disappear and he would never see her again. Slowly, painfully, he sat back down, mastering his strong emotion with some effort.

The young officer continued. “That’s better, comrade, a much wiser decision. Now,” he crossed his legs, suddenly becoming more businesslike. A playful twinkle danced in his eye as he leaned forward.

“How would you like to go with Arisha there?”

The old man sat back, digesting the unexpected request. “How?” he asked quietly.

“We can offer you an immediate enlistment into the Guards detachment being posted there. I can probably get you a position as postmaster or gate-sentry.” The officer drew out a sheaf of papers from his briefcase, a mass of official-looking stationery all stamped with the seal of the Red Fleet. “All you have to do is sign the paper and you’ll be back in the forces. How about that, my kind-hearted comrade?”

The old man did not reach for the pen. “And what about my men in the factory? What becomes of them?”

“We are in the process of offering re-enlistment to them too. Who takes it up, of course, is entirely up to them. It’s really the best I can do for you, comrade.”

At last, the old man saw no way out of it. The offer was too good. With a steady hand he picked up the pen.

~

The promontory was silent that day as a lone figure walked up its slope. She carried a bundle of wildflowers that she herself had picked the previous day.

At last she stopped at a little way from the edge, before the crude markings of a grave. Some unskilled carpenter had erected a dilapidated cross there, with Andrei Khamarin – 1885- 1951 - Best manager of the North – Missed by all in Cyrillic engraved artlessly on.

But she did not care for the refinements of the grave much. Kneeling at the end of the gravesite she laid the flowers squarely in the centre.

A little movement behind her made the lone girl turn quickly around. Striding towards her, in the glamorous black and gold attire of a full Admiral, was the same young naval officer that had faced her first all those years in that terrible chamber.

“Arisha, there you are. I had a feeling you would be here.”

“Sir!” Arisha came to attention, her hand swiftly shooting up in a skilful salute.

The officer, now matured and sporting the makings of a gruff beard, responded with a dismissive salute of his own. Arisha relaxed.

“Ah, your father. What do you think of him now? Do you still remember when you first met?” The Admiral asked.

“He was…” For the first time in her artificial existence, she struggled for words. Even though she had ‘developed’ fully now and was considered a ‘normal’ girl, Arisha still struggled to come to terms with all the new emotions she had learnt – fear, anger, sadness, and perhaps the most devastating of all, a sense of loss.

The Admiral placed a kind hand on her shoulder, but almost retracted it upon seeing a single, clear teardrop fall to the ground. It both fascinated and surprised him to see her so moved by the loss of a man she had hardly knew.

The two of them stood there on the windless cliff, both reflecting on the man that had effectively saved both their lives. Arisha, who had been cared for and loved by this strange old factory manager, fought to contain her tears. The Admiral thought of the first time they had met, with him being the stranger and the old man telling him of his own little sacrifices to help his men – such a pity that kindness was now passed.

“Arisha,” the Admiral began. “I must ask you now, if you are ready…”

“Yes, sir?” The young woman before him rose, tears drying quickly on her face.

“I know how much this man meant to you, but now that he is gone and departed from this world, I must call you by your true name now. You may keep the name he has given you, but all I am saying is-”

“The name ‘Arisha’ means ‘peace’, sir. I am not sure if such a name fits me anymore.” She looked away, down at the grave. “My origin has been anything but.”

The Admiral looked at Arisha, and she stared back passively. He could see the determination set in her eyes, and he knew that no matter what he called her, she would forever retain the memory of her ‘father’. He cleared his throat.

“Well then, my dear cruiser,” the Admiral smiled, and touched her on the forehead with a gloved finger. “I think it is time we left this place in peace. Come along, Kalinin.”

CaioDuilio
06-18-2015, 11:43 AM
Future posts can now be found in the link in my sig. Posting here is tiresome - centralizing them is a little easier on the workload.

You'll notice also that the French Navy is not yet posted on the FF profile list. I have yet to make adjustments to it and as soon as I clear some of the crucial episodes for the main four (USN, RN, KM, IJN) I'll get back onto the Italian, Soviet, and French lines.

CaioDuilio
10-06-2016, 04:24 PM
So it has been, what, a year since I posted in here. Where has the series gone since then, I wonder? Two years of narrative is not easy to maintain, but aside from a few lapses I think the general situation looks good. Here's a recap of what's happened to the series since it sailed off to FF.net:


KM: Reached Okinawa (complete)
RM: Somewhere in the Indian Ocean (incomplete)
RN: Reached Okinawa (sort-of complete)
USN: Reached Okinawa (complete)
SN: Not even out of their bases (incomplete; pending acrimonious judgement)
MN: To be rewritten.

But to be frank, writing about the main navies can be tiring sometimes. So to liven things up, I am proud to present the adventures of HNLMS De Ruyter, to be written over six chapters. Enjoy - I certainly did.

============

[SP01] Without Animosity (Chapter 1: The Promise)


?Identity papers, please.?

Two sheafs of crumpled paper exchanged hands. The officer?s brows furrowed in concentration as he read the name, looked at the photo, then up at the face before him.

?Hat and glasses off, please.?

?Oh, I forgot? Here you are??

They were removed. The officer studied the face. Bright green eyes ruined by the slack, tired face. Light brown twin braided locks. But as his eyes travelled down, he noticed the roundel pin, the crest on her sleeve, and, eyes widening, the rare tricoloured waist-sash.

He was too awed and surprised, even as an officer of the Royal Marechaussee of over a decade, to process the figure before him. With little comprehension left in him he idly stamped the papers, and handed them back.

The tired-looking girl nodded her thanks, put her hat and glasses back on, and went on her way.

A long road to my goal, she thought. A goal so simple, yet so challenging to accomplish. With a thin smile she walked through the simple wooden barrier and onto the quiet platform. Only a few men lingered on the cold, snow-scattered station at Enschede, and half of them were railway workers either huddled by the cast-iron braziers or with their heads buried in the local newspaper.

Even with her drab overcoat over her colourful uniform De Ruyter stood out like a sore thumb. Curious eyes wandered her way, but with the coat collar high and the dark hat their interest quickly waned.

It wasn?t long until the high-pitched whistle of the locomotive could be heard, and soon the train hauled itself to a stop at the platform. Guards jumped off and hurried over the coffee stall while the conductor exasperatedly called after them.

?Where are you off to, fraulein?? asked the conductor, a thin but warm man in his forties.

?Ah, well, um?? De Ruyter stammered, as she tried to marshal her thoughts in the wake of this new experience. To be free of the base and even Holland was exhilarating, but on her own she was quickly feeling lonely and dispirited.

The conductor, sensing her discomfort, gave her a big smile. ?First time, huh? Well, how about your travel papers and tickets? Surely you must have those.?

?Ah, yes,? Digging into her coat pocket she fished out the documents and handed them over.

?Ah, Hamburg! Quite a distance. These tickets seem to be in order...? Here the conductor stamped the tickets and handed them back. ?I shall get little Willy to store away your luggage. Wilhelm! Wilhelm!?

De Ruyter stammered her thanks as the conductor tramped off down the platform. Steam billowed from the engine vents as the pressure worked itself up again. She climbed up into the green carriage.

?Last call? last call??

She looked out of the large window as the guards, full of coffee and bread, made their way back to their posts.

The train lurched forward, and soon they were on their way. With the scenery monotonous and the gentle rattling of the carriage, De Ruyter was soon nodding off. The noise and jolting ride vanished before the gentle waves of sleep?

~

The familiar sound of lapping waves. The slow, steady rocking of a vessel at sea.

De Ruyter opened her eyes. She stood on the wooden deck of the ship, a ship completely devoid of human movement and activity. Only the bracing wind, the glorious golden sun, and the keening of gulls greeted her, and the flapping of the white sails guiding the ship along.

Footsteps. A slow, measured cadence. De Ruyter looked around? and from the cabin emerged the man himself, Michiel de Ruyter.

The two, one a shipgirl and the other a legendary hero, regarded each other for a moment.

?Wie ben je?? the hero with the bulging features and the cleft chin asked, in a not unkind voice.

?Mijn naam is De Ruyter,? she answered.

?But that is my name,? the hero replied. ?My family name, that is. I am sure you are not my sister??

?I was named De Ruyter in your honour, sir.?
?Please, do not call me sir. You may call me by whatever you wish. Although calling me by my own name might prove a challenge??

De Ruyter thought for a moment. ?Then I shall call you Michiel, your first name. Will that do??

?No, no, that will not do.? The hero looked visibly embarrassed by the suggestion.

?I know,? De Ruyter finally said, ?I shall call you bestevaer, your nickname. You won?t object to this, surely??

?No, that is fine. Bestevaer,? He smiled at the memory of the nickname. ?It has been a long time since anyone has called me that. Now that we have introduced ourselves, I must ask you, what are you doing aboard my ship??

?This is my dream,? she replied simply.

?But that cannot be, for this is my dream as well.? The old admiral scratched his cheek idly, in thought. ?Well, stranger things have happened.? He shrugged his shoulders. ?Welcome aboard my ship, De Ruyter.?

He bowed, and she curtsied slightly in response. The famous admiral turned and strode to the gunwales, and De Ruyter followed.

?This ship goes wherever I wish it to go,? he began, not looking at the shipgirl beside him. ?But most of the time I wish it to sail endlessly across this kind sea, so that I may never tire of it.?

?This is the enduring dream I have. Do you have one, too??

?Yes, bestevaer, I do.?

?Can you tell me?? The admiral looked down at her, a mischievous smile on his lips.

?I wish to find the person who burned away my previous life,? she replied, without emotion.

?Revenge, is it? That is not a noble dream to work towards, De Ruyter.?

?No, it?s not about revenge??

?Then what is it about??

?Fraulein? fraulein??

?It?s about??

?We?re here, fraulein, this is Hamburg??

De Ruyter snapped awake. Looming over her was the thin conductor, his hand on her shoulder.

?We?re here, fraulein, Hamburg.? He smiled that big smile of his, now a symbol of comfort for the Dutch cruiser.

?Thank you, sir.? She stretched out and then stood up.

?A good sleep, yes? Most of the time, that?s what many do. Anyway,? the conductor glanced out the window. ?Your luggage is waiting outside, and I believe some friends of yours are waiting for you??

?Friends?? De Ruyter was puzzled at this. Who else could possibly know of her mission, besides her Admiral?

She walked out of the carriage. There on the bustling platform under the restored station roof, swathed with scarves and in a double-breasted navy coat several sizes too big for her, stood Leipzig, a light cruiser who De Ruyter knew a little. Beside her was a solitary guard dressed in the winter blue of the Marines.

?De Ruyter! Over here!? she yelled, even though her voice was muffled by the scarves and they were less than three yards away.

?Leipzig, what a surprise!? The two cruisers hugged each other. ?How is it that you know of my journey??

The German cruiser grinned. ?Your dear Admiral sent us word of your arrival, didn?t you know? In any case, your next train isn?t until tonight at midnight, so we decided to come and pick you up??

?That really is quite kind of you,? De Ruyter replied, as they began moving down the platform towards the street. ?Where are we going??

?Here in Hamburg we have a small base mainly for reserves and recuperation. We?ll wait there!?

They reached the bustling street, and De Ruyter could feel the curious stares creeping up on her again as the citizens of Hamburg observed the small uniformed group.

Leipzig waved merrily at the citizens, and after recognizing her from the newspapers, continued about their business.

They got into the Kubelwagen and drove down the cold streets. De Ruyter looked on with interest at the lively streets full of wayward merchants, street entertainers and fine, upstanding citizens out shopping. It could have been any day in spring, yet the citizens of Hamburg strode purposefully through the snow as if did not exist.

?Here we are,? Leipzig muttered, as they passed through a stone arch bearing the iron balkenkreuz. The two cruisers stepped out onto the cobbled courtyard, while the guard drove into the garage.

?There isn?t anything you need in your bags, is there?? Leipzig asked, as they walked towards the handsome main building.

?No, it?s just my fighting kit in there,? De Ruyter replied.

?Ah, of course, of course.? The German girl opened the door and held it open. ?After you.?

De Ruyter walked into the warm entrance hall, a pleasant corridor smelling of varnished, seasoned oak and the faint chemical stench of the various paintings that lined the walls.

?This way, De Ruyter,? Leipzig took off her gloves and moved ahead of her charge. They shed their coats and hats onto the groaning coat rack and De Ruyter examined her friend for a moment.

Little had changed of the cheery complexion before her. Though she was sure that Leipzig had seen many more battles than she could ever dream of, there was no trace of it on the genuine smile. Her amber crown braid was tied as expertly as ever, with that same level of German neatness that many of the girls of the Kriegsmarine prided themselves on.

Traversing through the warm corridors, they passing typists? pools, chart rooms and the many offices that the compound housed. They reached the officer?s gasthaus and upon entry were greeted by clean-shaven stewards, who bowed as they moved through the foyer, the empty reading room, the smoking room, until they reached the quiet dining room.

?You must be hungry,? Leipzig brightly remarked, as more stewards showed them to a table next to a window overlooking a nearby canal. ?Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee??

?Coffee, served caf? au lait please.?

Leipzig gave the orders to a waiter, who nodded and bustled off. She turned her attention to the little neat menu in front of her, while De Ruyter gazed out the window, watching a little coal barge steam past the window.

?What will you have, De Ruyter??

?Anything. You know the food here better than I do.?

?That, you are right about. Let me see? ah, that should do nicely. Waiter!?

?So,? Leipzig began as the order was speedily delivered, ?your mission. Herr Erichsen told me not to ask about it, but still??

?Well, if Herr Erichsen wanted you to not ask, then he doesn?t want you knowing, right??

?Come on, just a hint? I?m dying to know??

?I?m sorry, Leipzig, I just can?t tell you??

?Why?? Leipzig?s voice grew sceptical. ?What?s so important about this mission of yours? And why do you have to go alone, across Germany and to who-knows-elsewhere??

?I? I can?t tell you.? De Ruyter looked the German squarely as she said this. ?I have to do this alone. It?s for my own good.?

?For your own good,? Leipzig repeated. ?Why does that sound so ominous? Sounds scary??

?Moving on, how is Wilhelmshaven? I hear the operations are improving this year,? De Ruyter said, hoping to turn the conversation away.

?Oh, the operations are fine, not too much work for me, though. Herr Erichsen is hard at work coaching those H-classes, and the expeditions are bringing back some good catches. This will be a good year for us.?

?I see? what about the co-operation with Great Britain? How is that coming along??

?Very badly.? The light cruiser looked gloomy at the thought. ?Those prideful idiots don?t care about it at all, and we have had a few disasters because of their negligence.?

?Is that so??

?Yes, and those damned French are just the same as well. Won?t even listen to Frau Tirpitz even when all the admirals agree to have her command.? Leipzig sighed. ?We?ll never win the war at this rate??

Silence for a while. Then came the drinks, then the food ? hummersuppe, the creamy lobster soup with whipped cream and dill, a specialty of the region. Leipzig rubbed her hands enthusiastically at the sight, and with a slice of rye in one hand and spoon in the other, both girls tucked in.

~

?Ah, nothing like good himmel und erde to fill you up on cold nights such as these,? Leipzig happily remarked.

They were driving now, with Leipzig at the wheel as the guards guided them at every street corner through the darkened city. As a city near the coast and thus open to Abyssal air raids, Hamburg was blacked out and it was only with the efforts of the Hamburg garrison that they would get to the station safely.

Only the whistling and steam vents told De Ruyter of the station?s proximity. Guards signaled them into the kerbside and they got out.

?I do hope you find what you are looking for,? the German cruiser said as De Ruyter ascended the steps to the waiting carriage. ?And I hope that you return safely. I would very much like to see you and have tea again??

De Ruyter smiled. ?Hearing that from you, Leipzig, that warms my heart. Would it wound you, too, if I were to never return??

?I would cry,? the German girl said seriously, looking up at her departing friend. ?I would cry knowing you would never sit at my table again??

The Dutch shipgirl clambered down and embraced her host. ?Then I promise you that I will come through this railway again, and when I do, I will have tea with you again.?

?You will?? Leipzig brightened. ?I can?t wait! Farewell!?

?Goodbye, Leipzig.? De Ruyter hopped aboard as the train slowly began moving. Steam billowed and rose, obscuring the dark locomotive from view. Before long, it cleared the platform and soon curved out of sight, eastward bound.

CaioDuilio
10-16-2016, 07:06 AM
New chapter, read at your leisure.

[SP02] Chapter 2: The Fear

In the dim light of the carriage lamp a finger traced the journey as the train whistled along. The only way any creature could know of the locomotive's progress was by its headlamps and the steady chug of the valves and vents. all its windows were blacked out, as if against an unforeseen, invisible foe.

De Ruyter laid aside the map. The seats were a little hard, but it was more than enough for a girl of her stature to lie down and sleep.

The cruiser took off her grey coat and threw it over herself as she tried to find warmth in the rattling, dingy train carriage.

She snuggled into the soft coat and closed her eyes. It again felt strange to be alone, strange to be sleeping while moving at eighty kilometers an hour, and strangest of all, to be the only Royal Netherlands Navy girl in all of Europe barring her homeland. Indeed, it made her slightly uncomfortable to think that she might be the only shipgirl travelling by train at this time of night.

All alone. The two words rang endlessly in her head, over and over. With a lurch in her stomach and increasing fear settling in her heart she fell down, down, down...

She wanted to cry. What was she doing this far away from home? Why, why was she doing this? For a shipgirl known as respected as a quiet, reserved but warm-hearted person why had she not stayed in the comfort of the naval base?

A tear dropped on the seat. No, she thought to herself, I will not cry. I promised the Admiral?

But the tears continued. No promise could stop them, and slowly they fell onto the upholstered seat, soaking her cheek. She couldn't imagine the Admiral now.

Admiral? Admiral, where are you? I need you, Admiral... Help me...

The prayer echoed in her mind, drowning out all else, as she slipped from the shore of wakefulness and drifted out onto the sea of slumber.

~

"Ah, so you're awake again."

De Ruyter opened her eyes. She could still feel the warm streaks on her face from where the tears had fallen.

"What's the matter, De Ruyter? Is something wrong?"

"No, no, bestevaer, it's nothing, nothing at all," She rose slowly from the hemp covers and once again breathed in the heady sea breeze.

The Dutch admiral sat nearby, a dusty green bottle and the remains of several biscuits scattered around him. "I've just finished dinner, I'm afraid," he said with a smile. "Are you hungry? I'm sure I still have some more in the hold-"

"I'm fine, thank you."

"More for me then, I guess." The admiral chuckled and held up the green bottle, which he then drank deeply from. He belched contentedly, and then rose.

"Today we are making port," the admiral said, as he took the wheel. "We're going to Vlissingen."

"Your home, yes?" De Ruyter said.

"You've read about me, then? Ah, those writers do not know how to give an old man his peace... yes, my home."

De Ruyter walked to the admiral's side and stared out at the cresting waves and the sparkling sea, the fresh salty wind at their backs as the neatly-trimmed three-masted pinnace sliced through the waters at an even clip.

Gulls heralded their approach as the familiar yellow and verdant green of the coast came into sight. Fishing cutters dotted the mouth of the Scheldt and all along the topmasts De Ruyter could see the red, white and blue pennants flying tall and strong in the wind.

The most remarkable thing about their entry into Vlissingen was the lack of fanfare that De Ruyter expected for such a hero of the Dutch. But then again, it was all true to the man's reputation. His dress lacked the gold braid and gleaming buttons and medals she was so accustomed to seeing.

They touched down at the quayside. A plank was dropped onto the deck, and the humble admiral helped De Ruyter off.
While the admiral talked to one of the harbour men that stood at the shore always awaiting arrivals, she looked around. Here was Vlissingen in the days of the old Dutch Republic, a thriving, bustling port of industrious merchants and flourishing trade.

Children of all fair complexions played games in the streets while grimy workmen passed fine gentlemen of honour without demur. The handsome halls and residences of the harbour stood tall among the skyline, each a monument to the wealth and glory of the Republic.

De Ruyter drank in this scene of the revived past as the workers got to work and the admiral returned to her side.

The citizens seemed not to notice her presence as they walked through the streets. The famous admiral only drew excited children to his side. The local ladies curtsied to him, which he would respond with a simple bow.

"Here we are," he said, as they approached the courtyard of a stable. The stable boys bowed to the admiral in respect and before long they were clattering along the streets in a horse-drawn cart, riding along the waterfront.

"Hup! There now!" They stopped by a simple two-storey whitewashed house.

"Michiel! There you are!" From out of the house strode a severe-looking woman in a black dress. At first De Ruyter thought that, despite all the odds, that this must be her admiral's mother.

"My lovely wife," he said, dispelling all prevailing thoughts De Ruyter had. "Ah, Anna!" He clambered down from the cart and took his wife by the hand.

"Where have you been?" she demanded. But then her voice softened. "I was worried about you, my dear?"

"Do not fear, Anna my dear, I will always return to you," he replied, kissing her hand.

"And who might this be?" she asked, looking at De Ruyter curiously.

"A guest! A daughter of a dear friend of mine, to be precise."

"Well, will she stay for supper?" Anna smiled at De Ruyter, who curtsied the best she could. "It has been rather lonely of late... without you around, of course."

"Dearest Anna, did I not swear my life to you? I would know if I had been so foolish not to do so before I left for the fleet."

"In any case, dear, we shall have one more to add to our table of two. Come along, what is your name?" she asked of the shipgirl.

"Ruyter, madam."

"Ruyter, is it? Do come inside?"

~

The fire crackled merrily as the admiral stoked the pit. De Ruyter sat in one armchair with hot coffee in hand, while the admiral sat in the only other chair.

"I must say that you show rather good manners for someone of the future," he remarked.

"You knew, sir?"

"Of course! These are dreams, God?s work to bring people like us together from across time. I know not of what awaits my children and my grandchildren in the future, but I know it is in good hands if people like you are there to protect it?"

"Thank you, sir."

"Speaking of the future, you mentioned something before about your mission. What was it about, again?"

De Ruyter blushed slightly and hurriedly took a sip of the coffee. It was wonderfully fragrant and full of flavour, having been mixed with various spices.

"I don't want to trouble your conscience with it, bestevaer," she hastily replied.

"But it seems to trouble you so much. Is it fear? Are you afraid?"

"Afraid, bestevaer? I?" Here De Ruyter stopped, as the ghosts of her thoughts rose around her, casting doubt into her heart. They floated around her, like malevolent spectres and geists, obscuring all hope and reason.

You'll never make it...

So far away from friends and comrades...

So far away from the Admiral...

"Enough!"

The hero admiral had risen from his chair with the exclamation. In an instant the shadows disappeared, banished from his awesome presence.

"You do not need to make excuses before me," he said gently, his voice full of radiant power. "I too know of your fears, De Ruyter."

"Bestevaer,.." Tears again.

The admiral knelt by her armchair and wiped away the forming tears, albeit with a little force. "There, there, my dear, what good is crying over such trivial worries?"

She sniffed a little, and took the hero's hand into hers. "You?re right, bestevaer. That was childish of me..."

"Do not fear, De Ruyter, of your own thoughts..."

"I won't..."

The sound of tramping boots above the rattle of rifles and the train.

"I won't... let you down..."

The door slid open with some force as a pair of helmeted guards barged into the compartment. One of them yelled at De Ruyter in an unintelligible language as she rose slowly from the seat.

"I'm sorry... I don't understand..."

"Papers! Show papers!" One yelled in heavily-accented English as the other leveled his rifle at her. The shipgirl sat where she was, completely unperturbed by the threat.

The conductor arrived. He too was just as confused as De Ruyter about this treatment, and was soon shouting in German at the guards, who ignored him.

In the meantime De Ruyter got her papers out of her coat pocket and handed them to the waiting guard. Unable to read the language, he said something to the other and he walked out of the compartment.

The second guard returned, amid the conductor;s continued protesting, with a uniformed officer bearing distinctive green shoulder boards - Soviet Border Guards.

The officer took De Ruyter's papers and scrutinized them. His eyes widened and bulged at the various stamps and seals. Eventually he turned to the simmering conductor and asked him a question in halting German.

The conductor replied in a resentful tone, and then edged past the guards down the corridor.

"You," he said to De Ruyter in difficult English, "come with us."

But before she could rise to take her coat or the officers hand, a gentleman in a dull-brown suit and tie cut it. He looked not much older than the guards but was definitely younger than the pudgy officer.

He spoke to the officer in fluent Russian, his voice calm and level. One of the guards tried to push him away, but the border officer quickly snapped out an order and in an instant the guards trooped off the train.

"And you are?" the officer asked the gentleman.

"Jan Marijnen, Dutch consul for China," the gentleman replied calmly.

"Consul, you say? Your official papers, then."

"Right here."

"Let me see." A brief, expert scan of the document. "That seems to be in order. What is your relation to this person?"

"I am escorting her to China with me."

"I see." He turned to look at De Ruyter. "Do you know this man?"

She hesitated. She had never seen, nor heard of him, before, but she knew that she would need help in the coming days. With resurging confidence she nodded.

"Hmmm." The officer, still slightly sceptical, turned back to the young consul. "You are a little young to be consul, no?"

"It's my first major appointment." The consul laughed.

The officer broke into a smile. "I know the burden." But his expression was stern again in a second. "Regardless of who you are, however, I must make a note of this person's arrival into our borders. You understand, of course, if I must report this to my superiors?"

"I understand completely."

"Good! On your authority and responsibility you are now in custody of this person. I shall not trouble you with the presence of a guard, but keep in mind that your movements through the country shall be watched."

The consul nodded, and the officer saluted and trooped off the train. The whistle blew a long note, and before long the train was underway again.

The young consul with the neatly-trimmed moustache bowed to De Ruyter and made to leave, but the shipgirl caught onto his sleeve.

"Please, stay."

"As you wish, miss."

He sat down on the opposite seat, looking curiously at De Ruyter.

"You may not know who I am, sir, but-"

"Apologies miss, but I think it's clear who you are.?"

"You... knew, then? All along?"

"No, no, the department would never tell me about something like this.? He reached into his suit pocket and drew out a small stub pipe. "Do you mind?"

De Ruyter shook her head, and the consul promptly had the pipe lit in another few seconds. He breathed long and deeply, and exhaled a faint, sweet-smelling cloud.

"Egyptian special," he remarked, tapping his pipe. "Very rare nowadays. So, as to how I know." He grinned broadly at De Ruyter, who blushed under the kindly gaze of the young official.

"How could it not be you? Your deeds are sung by every child of my quarter, and your picture is in the papers always. But what puzzles me is what you are doing so far away from home..."

"I have a mission, sir."

"So you do. That much can be guessed, De Ruyter. But what is this mission? Are you able to confide with me?"

De Ruyter shook her head.

"But can you at least tell me where you are bound? This is not something you can hide from the Soviets."

"The Far East, sir."

The consul closed his eyes, dissatisfaction and understanding lining his brow. "I see. Well, now that introductions are out of the way, I think we shall have to get to know each other a bit more these next days."

"How so, sir?"

"Well, it is not very easy to get to Nippon now. You of all people should know the threats the seas now present to us. So it makes good sense for you to be travelling by train."

De Ruyter nodded in agreement. It was true. What hope would she have to venture alone into the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, against so many unknown Abyssal fleets?

"In any case, you'll have to take the same route as me. That is, through the Trans-Siberian."

"The Trans-Siberian, sir?"

"Yes. The longest railway in the world. About two weeks of travel if we're lucky, a month if we're not?"

A month? On a train? De Ruyter closed her eyes, despairing at the thought of being so far away from the water.

As if to soother her worries and dispel her despair, she found herself again on the deck of the pinnace, the wind firmly at her back, the gulls keening, and her famous namesake by her side.

"What have you to worry, De Ruyter?"

"Sir, I-"

"Why would you need to worry? For if God and I am with you, what have you the need to fear?"

"I'm sorry, bestevaer..."

"All is right in your world, De Ruyter. I will always be at your side."

De Ruyter opened her eyes. The consul was refilling his pipe, unconcerned with the world at large. Perhaps, as she felt her spirit bolstered by the strength and courage of her namesake, it would be best to follow that example.