I do not have legal rights to any of the characters in this fanfic, I'm playing in other peoples' sandboxes.
This fanfic was originally written on the Sufficient Velocity forums. My handle there is the same as here, Farmerbob1.
"We're almost to shore, Fubuki, just a little further."
I know that voice? Who? Oh. Kongo. She's towing me.
I tried to reply, but all that came out was "Mmff." Shaking my arm, I tried to make her let me go, and the effort woke me up. "Let me drift. You get to shore, refuel, and then come back. If you run out of fuel, we're both stuck."
Kongo's hand tightened a bit and my efforts were useless. "Oh no, you don't. I'm not going anywhere without my escort, Special Destroyer Fubuki. I've got twice your cruising range, and you aren't that hard to tow. Besides, we're close to shore. See the tall buildings? Not much further now."
I nodded, and tried to concentrate on keeping myself on an even keel so I'd be easier to tow. I wasn't in any condition to be making decisions. "How did this happen, Kongo? How did we get here? Where is here?"
"I still don't know, Fubuki. We'll find out soon."
"Sorry, Kongo, I'm loopy from lack of fuel." I tried to think back, for any clues, but there wasn't anything I could remember to explain it. Kongo had just had her boilers serviced, and needed to test them. The Admiral had asked me to accompany her, and I'd gladly agreed. Then there was a strange storm, out of nowhere. The squall was so fierce, with clouds and rain so dense that we collided as we tried to keep station with one another. Kongo, of course, was barely scratched. I bruised up pretty badly, but nothing broken.
Kongo's head swiveled and she changed heading slightly. For a moment I couldn't see why, but then my attention was drawn by a small ship approaching. I could see human men and women on deck. It was a strange, sleek looking ship, white with a red stripe, but not a hospital ship - it was armed. I could identify only the smallest of weapons, .50 caliber machine guns, dual barrel, fore and aft, but hospital ships were never armed.
"Looks like we have human company, Fubuki. Patrol craft, maybe a hundred long tons. They are approaching head-on, possibly to render assistance?" Kongo's voice sounded worried.
"Leave me if you have to, Kongo." I whispered.
"No. Even if they are aggressive, they are nothing to me, and would be hard pressed to scratch you. They don't even appear to have torpedo tubes." Kongo shook my arm a little. "Maybe we can get a bit of fuel for you, eh?"
The mention of fuel made my stomach growl so loudly, I could feel my face burning in embarrassment. Kongo laughed. "We'll get those boilers stoked soon, Fubuki, don't you fret."
I hoped she was right. Nobody had been responding to our radio codes, and I didn't recognize the shape of the approaching patrol craft.
The human-crewed vessel passed us to our port, and turned sharply to come around behind us. In a couple minutes, they matched speed with us and a human shouted loudly across the water. In English.
I didn't speak English at the time. Kongo did. She had been built in England, so she started talking to them.
Then I noticed the flag. A United States flag. A quick compass check and I verified that we were travelling west, towards shore. We'd been travelling west for a very long time. Somehow we were off the east coast of the United States?
"Kongo." I whispered. "We're off the east coast of the United States. Atlantic ocean."
"What? How?" Kongo patted her stomach with a quizzical look on her face, and then looked confused. "I don't have the range for that, without going through the Panama-" She stopped abruptly. "Later. We'll deal with that later. First we need to get you into port."
I couldn't imagine how we'd somehow managed to travel halfway around the globe. I certainly didn't have the cruising range for that. Kongo barely did, even going through the Panama Canal, and her endurance would be sharply reduced by needing to tow me the last several hundred kilometers. She was certainly low on fuel because she hadn't been topped off for the boiler test, but she wasn't acting like she was as low as she should have been after such a long voyage. She would be far more worried.
There was a great deal of talk back and forth between Kongo and the humans on their ship. I heard our names mentioned several times. Eventually, Kongo brought us alongside the little ship.
"They keep calling us capes, and have never heard of shipgirls. They want to hoist us up onboard to take us into port."
That got my attention. "They want to what?" I stared at the tiny little human ship.
Kongo laughed loudly, and drew me into a hug so tight I could barely breathe. "Who knows, maybe they can. That vessel looks pretty advanced, even though it's clearly only a patrol or pilot boat of some sort." She released me from the hug.
"If they can lift you, I'll let them try to lift me." She grinned. "I hope they can. I've never been lifted into the air before! Zeppelin Battleship Kongo, they'll call me! I'll offer to take the Admiral for a ride!" She waggled her eyebrows at me and we both burst into laughter.
With Kongo's help, I pulled up right underneath a small cargo hoist.
There's no way this is going to work. That's a light hoist. No more than a couple tons.
I hadn't understood the conversation between the humans and Kongo, so I asked her directly. "You told them we weigh more than humans, right?"
"Fubuki, a lady does not discuss her weight. Especially with men." Kongo smiled at me. "They insisted they wanted to take us onboard, so we'll let them try."
This is going to end badly if I'm not very careful. How do these people not know anything about shipgirls? We've been fighting the Abyssals for years.
A light cable with a harness meant for a human to wear dipped down towards the water, and I carefully grabbed it, making absolutely certain to grip it loosely and put no weight on it. "Kongo, tell them I'm about to test the cable."
Kongo and the humans on ship talked. The humans clearly looked and sounded confused. Eventually Kongo spoke sharply and the humans all backed away from the rail, going either far aft or forward, or into the ship itself.
"They definitely have no idea what a shipgirl is. I eventually had to tell them we wouldn't try to come aboard until they got out of reach of the cable."
This cable is only a couple centimeters in diameter. No way this is working.
I tugged on the cable lightly. Everything seemed stable, so I put some weight on it. I'd barely displaced myself in the water before the cable snapped, the whip ends striking me and the human ship with loud cracks of impact. There was a lot of yelling from the crew.
I wiped my cheek where the cable had struck me. My makeup was probably a mess already, but that cable had surely left a mark in my foundation. I scowled.
The humans and Kongo were yelling back and forth, and not all of the words sounded polite at first. Eventually, a basket was lowered to us on a rope, with sandwiches in it.
I have no idea what kind of sandwiches they were. I was so ravenous that there was no such thing as taste. Kongo did manage to grab one sandwich half. I didn't say anything. She was surely hungry too, and she had been towing me.
The humans on ship were pointing little boxes at us, like they were cameras. But they didn't look like cameras. I heard a word that I knew. Piranha. Looking into the basket, which was now empty, I looked back up at them and rubbed my stomach, and gave them a slight, polite bow. "Domo arigato."
They all laughed like I'd said something very funny. One of them, with bar insignias on his shoulder indicating that he was a low ranking officer seemed to be reading something off the back of his camera, and said "Anata wa, fubuki kangei sa rete imasu." Very formal, and horribly pronounced, but I understood it, and nodded, acknowledging his politeness.
A camera with a notebook of language phrases on the back of it. That's pretty clever.
But how did he know he would need Japanese today?
Kongo and the officer, a lieutenant, spoke a little longer. The sandwiches had really been helpful. I had energy again, enough to go at least ten kilometers. I kept station next to Kongo and the little human ship while they talked.
There weren't any more loud words, fortunately. The humans apparently recognized that we only looked human. What had Kongo said they tried to call us? Capes? I couldn't see how 'cape' might be equivalent to 'shipgirl', assuming that Kongo translated it right.
I stopped, and stared, before asking. "Kongo, how good is your English, really? You were built in England, but you didn't stay there long."
She sniffed at me. "I speak perfect English, don't you worry."
"So, ah, what are they saying?"
"Something about being met at the docks by a Dragon, but we have to be careful about another dragon. They use the English word for one of them, but the Chinese word Lung for the other. They seem to be talking about two different people."
I worried some more. "Well, lung dragons are supposed to be benevolent, mostly, right? Which dragon are we supposed to careful about, again?"
Kongo looked confused, and spoke to the humans again, then relayed the information to me. "We avoid the male human Lung dragon. The female Dragon in armor is the Dragon we need to talk to." There was more conversation. "This ship is apparently based north of here a few miles in a marina. Since we aren't in distress any longer, they aren't allowed to take us to their base. They call themselves the Coast Guard, but most of what they do is anti-smuggling and search and rescue. They are not at war, and have never heard of Abyssals, but they did say something about a Leviathan that was very dangerous. The officer says Leviathan is dead. One of the senior NCO's isn't sure."
"I hope we can find someone who speaks Japanese." I muttered as Kongo turned to the humans on the ship and waved hugely.
As she waved, there was a tremendous growling noise from Kongo's direction. Loud enough that I saw several of the humans looking around nervously, scanning the horizon, clearly looking for squalls. I knew what that sound was.
If I start calling her 'thunder-belly' she'll drag me to shore by my ankles. I know it.
I resisted the temptation.
Kongo's face turned bright red, and she started moving quickly towards the docks, which were barely visible. Radar was showing me returns that promised something more like a breaker's yard than docks. Even from about three kilometers offshore, I could see ships that had obviously settled to the bottom of the bay, tilted to the side like no floating ship would unless severely damaged and taking on water.
I dashed ahead of Kongo to take station in front of her like a proper line-ahead escort. "They aren't in a war now, but I wonder if they have fought a war recently, Kongo. Did they say anything about a recent war? Those look like scuttled ships in the shallows."
"They did not say, but if they are allowing strange warships to simply enter their city perimeter where we might bombard their civilians, they aren't at war, and probably haven't been recently." Kongo sounded confident. Her logic seemed solid to me.
I worried about that more and more as we approached the docks. They were in terrible condition. As shipgirls, we didn't need to moor like human ships, but we needed to be close to water. We were quite a bit less powerful onshore, because our rigs only worked in the water.
Kongo was muttering about how terrible the docks looked by the time we reached shore. There were no large vessels present that looked like they were seaworthy. Something was strange.
A large human man was waiting for us at the docks. He had a lot of other men around him, behind him to his flanks. Not knowing what to expect, Kongo and I stayed in the water, barely offshore.
The man spoke politely, in Japanese, while looking mostly at Kongo. "Hello ladies. It has been a long time since I have seen traditional Japanese clothing worn properly. Though I must also admit I've never seen them worn with such heavy-looking battle armor and guns." He paused, thinking. "Please excuse my behavior. My name is Lung. These are my employees."
I wasn't an expert on humans, but the men behind Lung did not look like refined individuals. They were dirty, and carrying weapons. Their eyes had the look of violence. Lung was cleaner, bigger, better dressed, but he still carried himself like a fighter, a hard man. His eyes flickered over us, hungrily.
Kongo spoke slowly. "I am Kongo." She pointed to me. "This is Fubuki. We were advised to avoid a man named Lung. Please stand aside. We are waiting for an armored woman named Dragon to arrive. We want no conflict."
"These are my docks. If you want no conflict, then you will join my organization, and when Dragon arrives you will tell her to leave." It wasn't a suggestion, it was a command.
This won't end well if he keeps that up.
"You are not our admiral, Lung." Kongo's voice grew very serious. No nonsense. "I will not take orders from you. We will wait for the one named Dragon. Leave us. I do not wish to harm you."
Realizing that I should have taken over the conversation before Kongo had gone too far, I slapped my forehead, and everyone stared at me, briefly, as my face turned bright red.
Battleships don't do subtle.
I grabbed Kongo's arm and tugged at it, hard, barely budging her. "Kongo, please no. We just got here. If you accidentally hurt people here, they might not let us provision ourselves."
There was a strange orange glow from Lung's eyes, and the men behind him backed up. "Kongo is an odd name for a woman." His eyes never left Kongo. "The little one seems to be saying that you have experience fighting. While I normally don't let ABB females fight, I will make exceptions for capes. Would you care to show your prowess?"
Both of us simply stared at him. We knew what we looked like to humans. Without our rigs, we could pass for human as long as nobody tried to move us against our will, or attack us. With our rigs, we were very daunting. No human would dare attack even a frigate like me, and this Lung human was asking for a fight, with a battleship shipgirl? I checked myself and Kongo again. Our rigs hadn't mysteriously disappeared.
Kongo shook her head angrily. "I do not fight humans. You are too weak. Even if I were to try to be gentle, I might kill you by accident. Leave us."
"I am not human. I am Lung. You will join my organization, or I will make certain you cannot join my enemies." He and Kongo locked eyes, and I could see Kongo's eyes narrow as he continued. "You are Japanese. You are confident in your strength. I would be happy to have you in my all-Asian organization. Not as whores, if that is what concerns you. Provided, of course, that you really are capes."
As he finished speaking, he smiled, an animal's grin, with teeth showing. I definitely saw fire coming from his mouth, and the teeth were more pointed than human teeth normally were.
"You say you aren't human?" Kongo asked. "You look human. You don't seem to be able to talk by radio-"
Lung interrupted, looking startled. "You are Japanese, and you do not know me? I am THE Lung."
I looked at Kongo and she looked at me, clearly confused. "Fubuki, have you ever heard of a man named Lung?"
Shaking my head, I responded while keeping my eyes on Lung. "I've heard of a few men with that name, Kongo, but none of them ever did anything particularly noteworthy off the top of my head."
When I said that, Lung seemed to puff up like a balloon. His clothing ripped in several places, and his face grew strangely shiny, like fish scales.
"Enough. I will not be insulted like this any longer." He pointed at Kongo. "You dare to call yourself 'Indestructable'? Then you come here to my docks, insult me in front of my people, and pretend you don't know who I am? I am no longer offering you a place in my organization."
Lung seemed to be getting larger in front of my eyes. He ran forward, and struck far faster than a man his size should be able to move. His body was hot enough that when he stepped into the water, steam billowed.
Definitely not human. What is he? A cape? Are capes Dragon-people?
Kongo didn't have a chance to react before he struck her in the face, with a resounding concussive force that actually moved air around us.
A spray of water and steam hid Kongo and Lung from me, briefly, as I quickly backed away. I stayed close enough to support her if it somehow became necessary, but the first rule of escorting battleships is: NEVER get between a battleship and her target.
As a misting of falling water drifted through the steam, clearing the air, Kongo became visible walking towards the beach, dragging Lung by his neck through the surf. "I said I didn't want a fight. Fortunately I haven't found one." When she reached the sand, and stepped out of the water, her rig disappeared.
Lung was tearing at Kongo's arms with what appeared to be claws, trying to free himself. It wasn't even scratching her kimono. She tried to set him back on his feet, but he was too tall now, and getting larger, quickly, so she threw him away from her onto the sand.
"I don't want to hurt you, or have you hurt yourself, Lung. Stop. I'll tell other people that I actually felt that, if it makes you feel any better and preserves your dignity."
The look that Lung gave us from where he landed on the sand was pure rage.
I shook my head. There wasn't anything else I could do. I wasn't pulling Kongo out of this if the Lung man didn't back down. Still, I had to say something, even though it was pretty much useless. "Kongo. They don't know what we are, remember? He thinks you're human."
Without taking her eyes off Lung, Kongo crossed her arms, and scowled. "Oh, bother. Does that mean you're really going to attack me again, not-a-human?" She paused and smirked. "I'm not in my rig any longer."
Lung said nothing, but blew fire at us. It wasn't a lot, and it really wasn't that hot, but some of my hair and the edges of my kimono caught fire. I quickly splashed water on myself, but didn't take my eyes off Kongo, who had moved between Lung and me to block the fire. Her kimono wasn't even singing.
"You seem to be able to turn into a dragon, Lung. I admit that it's very interesting, but I'm not impressed." She glanced back at me, and squinted a little. "However, you've done some damage to my escort with your fire." She snapped back to face him and started walking forward into his fire. "If you don't leave us now, you will get hurt. Though I'll try not to kill you by accident, I can't guarantee your life."
As she walked closer to Lung, Kongo cracked her knuckles and rolled her shoulders before crooking her finger in his direction. "If you really insist on doing this, let's get it over with. I'm hungry."
Lung stopped breathing fire and charged her again, with even more speed than before. He was at least fifteen feet long now, a cross between a man and a dragon. This time, he slammed his shoulder into Kongo's stomach, clearly trying to knock her down.
I heard bones break, and winced. I didn't much like this Lung person, and they were certainly the one responsible for the fight, but senseless violence and injuries were, well, senseless.
As Lung bounced off Kongo's midsection, she chuckled. "I won't have to lie when I tell people I felt that one." She leaned over and grabbed one of his ankles while he was still shaking his head. "It seems as if you might get stronger the longer you fight. I'll remember that. You remember this. If you attack me or Fubuki again, there won't be a third fight. You've got a long way to go before you're strong enough to hurt me."
Lung's body was still reshaping itself from human to dragon, quickly growing larger, and the oddly-shaped broken shoulder no longer appeared broken.
"If you say that you yield, I will stop." Kongo commented as she dragged Lung into a wide-open section of beach, ignoring him as he clawed at her. She then used her grip on his leg to start slamming him back and forth on the beach like a club, beating him into the sand progressively harder until he finally stopped moving. By the time that happened, I could barely see for all the sand and dust in the air. I had to give the Lung-credit, he never yielded or stopped fighting until he was unconscious.
I stepped out of the water, and walked up next to Kongo, both of us looking at Lung's body. He was still breathing, and I could see that he was getting smaller. Several obviously broken bones reshaped themselves under his skin.
I would LOVE to be able to heal that quickly!
A female voice suddenly spoke, startling both of us. "I don't believe I've ever seen anyone handle Lung quite so... casually, before."
Kongo, who had been looking at her blistered hands with annoyance, snapped her head towards the new speaker like it was one of her turrets. "Are you also going to insist on fighting me? I didn't even make it to shore before this clown insisted on having me make a fool of him. Some human ports are bad for human sailors fighting, but this is ridiculous."
I was staring, with my mouth open. The woman speaking was wearing the most incredibly complex armor I'd ever seen.
"I am Dragon. I have no interest in fighting you, if you are Kongo and Fubuki. The captain of the Mako said you were coming to the docks, and said that one of you only spoke Japanese?"
I realized then, that she was speaking near-perfect Japanese, but very formally. When I realized I was blatantly staring with my mouth open, I snapped my mouth shut, and I felt my face getting red at my own rudeness to stare like that.
Kongo wasn't in a good mood, and snapped out a reply in a tone that wasn't very friendly, even though none of the words were offensive. "We are. The crew of the Mako were polite and helpful. We're sorry about the winch cable, but nobody was hurt. They've apparently never dealt with shipgirls before. This is getting more frustrating with every passing minute."
"Shipgirls, you say?" The woman in the suit commented after a couple seconds. "I've never heard of shipgirls either, but I have heard of the ships Kongo and Fubuki. Is there a connection?"
"We are the spirits of those ships, Dragon." I offered, tentatively.
Kongo looked at me and nodded, clearly wanting me to handle the conversation. She knew she was in a bad mood, and she was staring at the blisters on her hands. As she saw me nod back, she turned her back on Dragon and walked to the water to cool her hands.
Lung must have been extremely hot to burn Kongo at all.
Dragon, after a couple seconds, continued. "I don't understand. You two triggered and somehow became the personification of old World War 2 Japanese warships?"
"Old?" I looked at her sharply. "I am not old, and neither is Kongo. We are the spirits of the ships, not the ships themselves. We do not age like humans." I scratched my ear. "What do you mean by triggered?"
Dragon held out her two hands, palm up, and bowed slightly. "I did not intend to offend. Triggering is what happens to make humans into capes, and both of those ships sank in-."
I shot her another glare. "We know when we sank, and we don't want to talk about it. It brings back memories." Realizing that I was beginning to lose my temper with someone who didn't know better, I raised my hands and then bowed slightly back. "I apologize. Talking about our sinking is not something a shipgirl will do, typically, unless it was a voluntary scuttling and no crew went down with them."
"I see. Like triggers then. Most capes don't like to talk about their triggers."
"Really? Wow." I looked at the unconscious Lung, and connections were formed. "So he was human at one time? I've never heard of anything like that."
Dragon chuckled. "Yes, he was. He still is. Mostly." She paused. "I would like to offer you two a place to stay, at least until you learn a little bit about this world. It's pretty clear that you come from one of the more distant dimensions. We can work to try to send you back, if you like, but it may take some time. Scion broke things pretty badly, just about everywhere."
I nodded firmly. "We're needed back home. Though I've never heard of a Scion."
Dragon stared at me. "A very remote dimension then." Her head turned slightly. "Well, I see the PRT is here. They will take care of Lung, at least until he manages to escape again." The mechanical suit gestured to where several trucks had arrived, and I saw men and women sprinting across the sand until they reached Lung and started spraying him with white foam.
Kongo stepped up beside me. "We would greatly appreciate a refueling and facilities to repair the minor damage we've sustained." She glared at Lung.
"From the sensor readings I'm getting from you two, I'm not sure we can heal you. We'll try, but we can certainly help with resupply if you don't need anything exotic. Taking down Lung is good enough to get you a lot of favors." She stared at us for another few seconds, then shook her head. If we just get you raw materials, can you heal yourselves?"
I nodded. "Slowly, but we can repair minor damage to ourselves over time with rest and resupply. It's a little like human healing. I'm sure you don't have any instant repairs."
The woman in the fantastic suit of armor asked "So, what supplies do you need first?"
Kongo's stomach growled again, even more loudly than when it had happened next to the little human ship offshore. Dragon stared at the two of us, specifically at Kongo. The men and women spraying foam on Lung looked up and around, muttering about thunder.
"If that was what I think it was, I'm guessing food is at the top of the list?" She paused. "The captain of the Mako said they gave you two thirty sandwiches."
I blushed. "They gave us a lot of sandwiches, but I was out of fuel, so Kongo let me eat them."
"You ate thirty sandwiches? By yourself?" The woman sounded more curious than shocked.
Grinning at her, I replied. "Now I know it's true. You definitely don't know about shipgirls."
Kongo rubbed her stomach. "I could really use a meal. I'm below ten percent. I haven't been this low in years."
Six hours later.
"You two are fascinating. Where is all that food going? You've eaten three buffet restaurants out of stock."
I blushed, and had to give her a compliment back. "You're pretty fascinating too! That armor was really interesting when I thought it was a person inside, but it's even more incredible that you're far away and controlling the suit by radio. Can you show me how to do that with torpedoes, maybe?"
Dragon smiled at me. "Maybe. We'll have to see how your rigs work, if we can understand them. We can't understand most tinker tech well enough to copy it." After a brief pause she continued. "Well, you aren't tinkers, so maybe it will work anyway.
"Well, going back to your question about the food, we don't know, really." Kongo muttered as she set her forty-first refill plate down on the table. I was only on my seventh. "We're a lot more massive than humans our size."
I nodded and added a little. "If we don't move under our own power, it's hard for humans to move us at all. Kongo can carry me around if she has to, but I can barely budge her if she can't move. I tried to move Yamato once, by myself. I almost blew my engines. She's never said how much she masses."
With a chuckle, Dragon spoke in a low tone. "I could tell. The way Lung stopped when he hit you, and then when you were beating the stuffing out of him. You weren't using any of the tricks that extremely strong capes normally use for leverage, just whacking him back and forth on the sand like you were playing a giant game of Whack-a-mole. Colin is going to enjoy that video so much." She paused. "Lung really can get much stronger than that, by the way. You knocked him out when he was still small and weak. Don't get overconfident."
Kongo looked up. "I told him already. I will not start a fight, but if he attacks us again, I will treat him like a true enemy. There won't be a third fight if there's ever a second. He's nowhere near my weight class, at least at first." She looked at the blisters on her hands, and scowled.
Dragon nodded. The machine that she called a 'remote' was so amazingly fantastic, I could barely stop staring at it whenever it did something so human. "If you don't mind me asking, between us ladies, ah, how much do you weigh? I really do need to know this, so we know what sort of facilities we can safely use to house you."
Kongo shook her head. "As long as we move ourselves, there's no problem. We move our own mass like we were human. I'm sitting in this wooden chair now, see? I have no idea how it works, but it does."
Dragon shifted a little, uncomfortably. "If one of you is injured and the other is not available to help move you? We need to know how we can move you."
What she was asking made sense, and I knew Kongo would be stubborn about it if I didn't lead off. "Less than two-point-one million kilos." I whispered in a very low tone so nobody other than Kongo and Dragon could hear.
Dragon stared at me, briefly, then turned to Kongo, expectantly.
Kongo looked at me, irritated, then cupped her hands around the sides of her mouth and pointed her mouth at Dragon, carefully whispering, in a low tone. "Less than thirty-eight million kilos." She waggled her finger under Dragon's mechanical nose. "That's with full provisions and munitions mind you! I've never been over thirty-eight million kilos. Never."