AN: Hello all of you delightful readers, as I am sure you've noticed that I've deleted most of the chapters in this story. That's to avoid confusion as the rewrite has it's plot unfold with what's happening.
Guest: First off, new characters are being introduced this time around as well old characters being introduced in a new way.
Thus without further ado let's begin.
Walker stood alone on a stone bridge, a cold breeze blew; the harsh wind tearing through her uniform like it wasn't even their while a stout fog obscured her vision. Worse her body ached and something felt off about her balance while the grip on her weapon was unsteady while the weapon itself gleamed with blood from the enemy warriors that she had slew. The entire bridge shook violently and she could tell something was coming, something powerful, she took a deep breath and tightened her grip on her weapon.
Slowly like the demon it was, the thing emerged from the fog. It stood at least six feet tall, towering over her. It's form was wrapped in shadows and draped in a cloak of some kind. Despite that it, there was also the gleam of metal that shone brightly. Plate mail armor protected this demon from harm, she could penetrate that armor but she would have to be careful about it. A blood-chilling grin slowly spread across the demon's face, a grin that was composed of wickedly sharp fangs and then it branded her weapon a lethal double-ended axe with a vicious serrations along the cutting edge.
"Come quietly brave one and your death will be quick painless end." The thing intoned in a serine voice.
Walker shook herself and shot daggers at the beast, her eyes blazing with righteous fury. She brandished her weapon, bringing it to the ready position. She glanced over her shoulder at the city in the far distance. An immense tree in its center, a beacon of hope and freedom. She then turned to face the demon and her gaze hardened, a small laugh escaping from her lips. "I am not going to roll over and accept my death like a good dog! Do you seriously think that I am going to allow you to slaughter the inhabitants of the city behind me? I think not, en garde foul demon!" She snarled before lunging, her Saber blurring forward.
"I was hoping you would say that." The demon said before effortlessly parrying the saber strike with the flat of her axe and then retaliating with a sweeping strike that would tear in half at the beginning of the floating ribs.
Walker ducked, the lethal axe just barely missing her helmet. She lunged forward, stabbing upwards hoping to disembowel her opponent. But the blade struck smooth plating just above where the strike should've connected, the gap in-between the horizontal armor plates. Cursing, she spun out of the way as the demon made an attempt to grab her by the neck and then leaped away before a follow-up blow, not from the axe but from a fist that would've connected.
Snarling in agitation, the demon launched it's offensive in earnest at her, but Walker seemed to be blessed. She effortlessly wove through the furious strikes, seemingly untouchable but her own strikes were ineffective. It was just too difficult a target to hit accurately, she would have to change her strategy.
That's when she got lucky, an upward slash slipped through the plates and her blade bit into flesh for the first time. An enraged howl ripped away from her opponent's throat and the axe swung. Walker saw the strike, yanked out her sword and ducked. Then she had to resist the urge to cower under the glare the demon was now giving her.
"Guess the gloves are now coming off. I am going to enjoy watching your squirm in agony as your life flees from you." The monster snarled as it dropped it's lethal axe and out came a lethal looking Tachi, it's blade gleaming. "My turn." the Demon said before striking.
Walker barely managed to deflect the strike, the flurry of rapid-fire blows that came at her afterward was beyond belief. Each time her saber barely managed to deflect the blow, swearing the brave little Wickes began ducking and dodging along with parrying. But her opponent was vastly superior in all ways, she had a massive reach and power advantage, plus she was quicker than her massive size would lead many to believe. She tried to step inside her opponent's stance when it appeared to be a little too wide.
It was a trap.
Even as Walker struck out and with an expertly placed strike and then slashed, carving open part of the demon's belly. It's other hand lashed out and blinding pain exploded as a Tantō came out of nowhere and buried itself between the first and third false ribs, yanked out and then reburied into her flesh this time between the first false rib and the thirteenth true rib. She screamed as the pain encompassed her very being, blood poured in thick currents from the wounds.
"Lost your will to fight?" The demon said as it lashed out with it's sword. It carved a gash in her torso, not deep but painful. The pain was agonizing, Walker shrieked in pain and then the Tantō slashed in again and she barely managed to deflect the blow. But then the dagger-esque weapon slashed at her again, carving a gash down her front between her fifth and seventh true ribs. She fell to her hands and knees, her saber clattering to the cold unfeeling stone.
"Pathetic, as much as I am tempted to end you here. I am going to wait so you can hear the sounds of your failure and then I'll be back to take your head." The Demon snarled at her before beginning to head towards the city, pausing to scoop up her axe.
There was a sound of arrow flying, it shot through the darkness… and missed by the narrowest of margins. The Demon pivoted in the direction that the arrow had come from and then shrugged before beginning to continue her inexorable march towards the city.
Then with a powerful scream of fury, another figure darted into view. A spear leveled at her opponent, the Demon pivoted. Her eyes widening in fear, she swung wildly but the strike missed and the spear buried itself into the demon. The small figure holding the spear then cried out as the Tantō plunged into the base of her neck at the shoulders, but there was a steely determination was in her eyes. "Go rot in hell you bitch." She snarled before one of her hands shot to the inside of her jacket and clamped down on something.
The two figures vanished in a ball of yellow-orange flame and smoke. The sound of the explosion was beyond description as the shockwave plucked Walker up as if she weighed nothing and sent her bouncing backwards for easily a dozen yards. The flames and smoke from the blast blocked the demon from sight… but it was still alive! She could hear it's enraged roars of pain!
But if it was as wounded as she thought it was, then she could kill it! Gritting her teeth and ignoring the pain, she grabbed her saber and struggled to her feet. She took a deep breath and moved forward as fast as she could, the demon materialized out of the smoke and fog.
It was battered and bloodied but obviously still alive, it's axe was shattered and the sword was nowhere to be seen. While it's armor was in shattered ruins, leaving just her clothes underneath. It heard her steps and turned to face her, just as she lunged forward. The thing let out a gasp of shock as Walker buried her saber all the way to the hilt in its gut, she then slashed it horizontally, splitting it's belly open and causing a howl of pain.
Walker yanked her saber out and plunged her blade into its chest. It gasped in pain this time, she twisted the blade and had just yanked it out when suddenly the feeling of a thousand white hot needles bloomed to life in her chest. The destroyer glanced down and saw that the Demon had buried it's Tantō right under her sternum, the thing exhaled it's last and it's hand fell off the dagger, leaving it buried in her chest.
But the damage was done, Walker let go of her Saber, which clattered noisy to the ground and then swaying unsteadily turned around. She staggered back towards the city, each successive step was that much harder.
"One...step...in...front...of...the...other,...you...can...do...it...Walker." The destroyer told herself as she staggered towards the city in the far distance. Each step seemed to be harder than the last one and her limbs were getting heavier it seemed, while darkness was flitting at the edges of her vision, her own eyelids feeling heavy.
Without warning her legs collapsed and she fell to the ground, pain exploding across her body as she hit the stone.
She screamed, but the sound was distant. Strangely muffled. As a creeping cold played into her chest and limbs, feeling slowly disappearing. Breathing became harder and harder with each passing moment. She tried to move but couldn't her strength was gone and was it just her or was her vision getting darker? With a start, she realized that it was indeed getting darker. Light flared across the horizon as dawn broke, the warmth of the sun kissed her face. A single tear carved a track down as her vision went out completely.
Walker awoke with a start, the sheen of a cold sweat dappling her forehead, she sat up and looked around. She sighed, that damned nightmare again, the one that she had at least once a week ever since her summoning.
The Wickes class had long since deciphered what the nightmare was about. It was about the Battle of Baalkpan and to be specific her duel with the battlecruiser Amagi. As well as everything that had ridden upon her duel and her winning against the capital ship.
She had won, but it had cost her so much. God, it had cost her much. She had actually sank after the battle in the refit basin, sure she was eventually refloated and went on to do a great many things afterward. But sadly some wounds never heal, that was true with her. That battle had ripped away the one true sister that she ever had on this alternate world, sure Ellie and her sisters were practically copies of her, but they were only half-sisters. Separated by a whole world and a quarter century, but even though they had been only half-sisters she loved them as if they were true sisters.
She went to climb out of the cot she was in when a hand clamped down on her shoulder. Walker glanced over her shoulder and grimaced at the sight of Mutsuki who looked surprised and shocked as well as on the verge of tears.
Oh hell. Walker thought as she looked the Japanese destroyer in the eyes and confirmed her fears. "Goddamnit." she muttered.
"You saw it?" she asked.
Mutsuki nodded briskly.
Was afraid of that, it's the one aspect of snuggling up with my DesDiv mates that's sort of creepy but helpful was that whole shared dreams thing. It's a plus for helping with nightmares but if you aren't expecting for it to be something that's really nasty. It can be quite an emotional shock. She thought bitterly as pity for what the name ship of the Mutsuki class had likely seen built up within her.
"Sorry about that, not all of my battles went well. Baalkpan was the worst, I lost my only true sister on this world as well as a cousin, I sank in the action and even though I was raised, repaired, and returned to service. It still left it's marks on me." She said, pulling up her flannel shirt and then gesturing to a portion of her chest, to be specific the oblong scar that represented the 10-incher that had punched into her hull and she knew that it hadn't been an over-penetration either like the galley hit had been, for the monstrous shell had detonated within her hull, mangling her below decks.
Mutsuki blinked in surprise at the scar, it was rare for summoned Kanmusu to have such things. Only if the ship survived the battle in which she got that damage and the event during which she took that damage was major enough would it leave a scar.
The Wickes class dropped her shirt and then put a reassuring hand on Mutsuki. She looked back at Walker and then drew her into a tight hug. "Your so brave, I can't imagine engaging a capital ship without torpedoes. It must have been terrifying." she said after releasing the hug.
"It was terrifying, that damn Battlecruiser was a good forty-five times my displacement and I couldn't hope to sink her with my guns alone. I just consider myself lucky to see the dawn break after that horrific battle which lasted an entire day and night, even then I barely managed to stay afloat long enough to see that." Walker paused and took a deep breath. "When I felt my hull it bottom with a shuddering thump, I thought that it was the end of the road despite having a good run while it lasted. But, apparently it was God's will or maybe the will of the Maker of All Things for me to not die. For one day, the water level in the basin began to drop slowly but noticeably, eventually draining completely but instead of being scraped like I thought was going to happen. The opposite occurred, I was repaired and refloated." she finished.
Mutsuki looked thoughtful for a moment before asking Walker a question she didn't really expect. "What happened after you were refloated and repaired?"
Walker took a moment to think before answering. "At first I thought I was going to be headed west in order to take the fight to the Grik. But that didn't happen, I went east. But in order to explain why I went east, you got to back up to before the Battle of Baalkpan even began." She said.
Mutsuki looked surprised at Walker who giggled quietly. "It's complicated to explain, make for a good novel if you ask me." she said.
Before she could respond however, Mahan poked her head into the wardroom. "Morning sleeping beauties." she said in a sing-song voice.
Walker bolted to her feet in an instant. "You know I don't like you calling me that Mahan!" she barked, sounding a little upset.
Mahan just grinned in response and Walker sighed. "Alright, what is it?" the younger Wickes class asked.
"We're about two hours out from Baalkpan in case you're wondering. According to the Captain Shaan we'll be among the last ones off along with anyone whose interacted with us." Mahan replied.
"Great, late breakfast then." Walker grunted in dismay. Despite being only Destroyer Kanmusu, they could still pack away quite a bit of food in one sitting. But it was something Walker could deal with, she'd been extremely low on fuel before and had during her past life runout of fuel once.
Mahan nodded in agreement and Mutsuki scowled.
"Any idea who the minder is going to be?" Mutsuki asked.
"Not really." the older Wickes replied.
"That's not helpful." Walker said and Mahan pouted.
The Great Hall of Baalkpan had changed drastically over the decades, but it was still recognizable for the immense Galla Tree that been a central part of the Hall had only grown larger while the Great Hall had expanded some more, but such was how things progressed.
Dennis Silva was dressed in his immaculate whites, about to have an interesting discussion with both the Minister of the Navy and the Minister of Intelligence. At least the meeting also didn't involve the High Chief of the American Clan, Captain Reddy; their was already a ton of high-brass in the room. Sitting next to him was Yūdachi, she was currently reading a book.
The Secretary suddenly looked up as if something had happened. "They'll see you now Mr. Silva."
With a sigh, the big man stood up and walked inside the meeting hall. If he was remembering correctly, the current Minister of the Navy was a Fil-pin Lands born Lemurian named Karik-kenn. Before being promoted and eventually becoming Minister of the Navy, he had been a Destroyerman for his entire career and had been an engineer too. Which meant that he somewhat knew what Silva was dealing with, in all honesty that was something interesting.
It was honestly the Madam Minister of Intelligence Aria Taylor, that he was worried about. She was a human, hailing from Aryaal if he remembered correctly. As ruthless as a Flasher Fish too, considering what he wanted to get done the biggest problem would be convincing her so that he could get things done.
"Chief Gunner's Mate 1st Class Dennis Silva reporting, sirs." he said, coming to firm attention.
"At ease Mr. Silva." Karik replied calmly. "Please have a seat, we have a lot to discuss."
As he sat down, he knew that was true, he had sent some requisition forms up the chain for some basic stuff and next thing he knew, he was getting called to a meeting to discuss things.
"So, I think we should address what we're going to do with the five or so "ship girls" under our command. Any suggestions?" Karik asked.
Silva already had an answer and knew that it was something that Karik probably wouldn't like. "I was thinking we officially form a command to lump them in. Give it a CO and a nice secluded location for it to operate from." he stated.
Karik blinked in surprise and then his expression turned thoughtful. "I think thaat would work, there's a number of islands up in the Sulu Island Chain, if I am right one of them, Jolo I believe, is an emergency landing zone for flights going between Baalkpan and Maa-ni-la, has minor yard capaacity as well." he said.
"That's what I was thinking, we need a place that's secluded and out of the way. But who would command it? Not me obviously besides the fact that I am not an officer but also because I am not as young as I used to be, I mean I am pretty good at keeping Yūdachi from doing something stupid but considering that soon we'll have four more to deal with. It's something I can handle, but five is probably my limit at to what I can successfully wrangle. Not to mention we'll have to get some additional support on this in order to get some productivity out of this." Silva said looking thoughtful.
"Additional support how?" Aria asked.
"I was thinking maybe some modern small arms training, Marine hand-to-hand combat exercises, maybe even some sword training. As well as possibly a class on the history and geography around here." Silva said shrugging.
"Thaat would work, I can imagine thaat Waa-kur and Mahaan might be able to help with the history side of things. At least regarding the Grik War an' part of the Holy Dominion War, got to remember Waa-kur was practically worn out after the end of the Wars an' we had kept her in service really for sentimental reasons thaat is until with the exception of her number four boiler, the others just crapped out on us an' forced us to retire her. Mahaan's a different matter entirely." Karik said with a sigh.
"Why would Mahan be different?" Aria asked, sounding confused.
"Because Mahan had a complicated history Madam Minister. Mahan as a Wickes class ceased to exist during the Battle of Baalkpan when she had the load of depth charges go off after she rammed Amagi. Sure she got fished up and rebuilt afterwards but I talked with Brister and he said that Mahan was different after her rebuild. So does the Mahan we got know anything about the events after Baalkpan? I have a suspicion that she won't, but she would be able to provide a unique perspective on the Battle of Baalkpan." Silva replied.
"Goddaamn, never even thought of that." Karik growled angrily.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to Minister and if that truly is the case. Then, well it'll be informational for Mahan too." Silva said looking thoughtful.
"Now is their anything we gotta worry about?" Karik asked.
"A situation we are keeping an eye on has occurred in the west, there's been a coup in the Holy Spanish Imperium." Aria said.
Silva paled. "Shit, if I remember right we never got all of the Blood Cardinals at the end of the conflict with the Dominion. Think this could be their work?" he asked.
"That's what we are thinking, thing is this was extremely well planned. The coup started when one of their big Grand Cruisers sauntered into the harbor of the capital unannounced and then when it was intercepted by an Imperium Coastal Battleship, it without fanfare blew the thing straight hell. In the confusion, a strike team composed of elite forces attacked the Chancellor's Palace, near as we can figure they were successful in killing the Chancellor and likely most of his cabinet as well as their families." Aria said.
Silva's expression turned shocked, this was something he hadn't been expecting at all! This was likely going to lead to a series of events that would change the world as he knew it. "How's the New United States and the Empire of the New Britain Isles reacting?" he asked.
"The New United States has put their entire military on alert and are keeping a close eye on what the Imperium does but they've also said that if they declare war on us or the Empire, that they'll declare war in kind. Ditto for the Empire of the New Britain Isles, we still got no word on what the Republic of Real People, Shougate of Yokohama, Celestial Kingdom, and the Mediterranean Dominion are reacting to this turn of events." Aria said and Silva sighed.
"Not surprised but Madam Minister do you think war is really on the horizon?" The big man asked.
"I wouldn't be surprised, it's a known fact that the Holy Dominion was out for domination of the entire world. Question is where the hell would they strike first?" Silva asked.
Aria made a sour sound. "That's the hard part, it's just about a fifty-fifty split between the Empire of the New British Isles and the New United States. It'll be very much a pain in the ass to send support to the New United States although it shouldn't be that bad sending support if they strike the Empire of the New British Isles. Although in all honesty, I am worried about our colony of San Diego; it doesn't have much in terms of defenses." she said.
"How long do we got until you think the new government will make its move?" Silva asked.
"Worst case scenario is that it happens by the end of the year or even before that. Best case is that it happens at least two years from now because at least then we'd be ready. But given our god awful luck that we have regarding wars, we can assume that it'll be around the turn of the year." Aria said.
"Right, so think it'll work with getting this command involving the shipgirls setup on Jolo?" Silva asked.
Karik nodded. "It'll be doable, Jolo is a big island. There's two bays on the south side of the island which means it's protected from most storms, one bay is already in use for the emergency landing zone an' the other bay is used by the Cutter Service." he said.
"Don't think they'll be too happy about us basically stealing one of their bases." Silva mused.
"They'll have to relocate it to the airfield an' to be frank thaat's a better place for it." Karik said looking thoughtful.
Silva glanced at his Republic of Real People made wristwatch, he'd bought the thing back in the 'eighties and it had served him dutifully ever since. "Madam Minister and Mister Minister, the Naga is slated to arrive within forty minutes and if I am going to make it in time, I got to get going." Silva said and Karik blinked surprise before glancing at the Grandfather Clock that was nestled along one wall.
"Seems so." Karik agreed.
"Understandable, but your going to have to wait for them to get debriefed but you'll be allowed onboard at the sametime as my intelligence analysts. If you want, you can take Yuudachi as well." Aria said.
Silva nodded in understanding. "Thank you Madam Minister." he said.
"Right, I'll start to look at candidates for this thing. In the meantime, your dismissed Mr. Silva." Karik said
Silva stood up saluted and once the two ministers returned it. Walked out of the room, Yūdachi was their still reading her book. "Come on Yūdachi, let's go." he said.
The former Japanese Destroyer stood up and quickly followed behind him. "So how did it go, poi?" she asked.
"Pretty good. Soon we're probably going to be relocating to an island in the Sulu Sea area, which is good. We're all going to be put into our own command at some point in the future but right now we got to get down to the navy docks, the Naga is coming in and we're going to meet someone onboard her when she arrives." Silva replied.
"Who, poi?" Yūdachi asked eagerly.
"It's something of a surprise." Silva said.
Walker was peering out the porthole as the Naga sliced proudly towards the entrance of Baalkpan Bay, the immense multi-tiered steel and concrete reinforced, heavy stone, wood, earth fortress that was Fort Atkinson stood as a proud guardian to the entrance of bay, it's numerous rifled breech loaders could ruin just about anyone's day. On the opposite shore, standing as a proud sentinel and companion to Fort Atkinson was Fort Neccerra. While deeper in Baalkpan Bay, on the point that jutted outwards and provided protection for the naval base that was on the shore opposite from the city of Baalkpan stood the smallest of the three main fortresses, Fort Point.
Just as the Naga began to enter Baalkpan Bay, passing under the immense guns of the two guardians at the bay's mouth. A memory tickled the back of Walker's mind and then her eyes widened as she realized what she had forgotten. She turned and thankfully both Mutsuki and Fubuki was their. "I just remembered something!" she said.
"What?" Fubuki asked.
"Under the Constitution of the Union of Homes. The Navy is recognized as it's own Clan or basically nation as such it's normal for Navy ships to fire salutes when they enter port. Twenty-one gun salutes." Walker said.
Before either Mutsuki or Fubuki could respond, their was the distinctive jangrangla of the ship's salvo buzzer ringing. Moments later the Naga's six 5-in/50-caliber Mark 18 Naval Guns vomited flame and smoke as the powder cases that had been rammed in moments before were ignited. Several seconds later the powerful guns slammed out another perfect salvo thanks to amazing gyroscope that was part of her fire control system. This salvo was followed by a third salvo that slammed out from the Naga's guns, this was followed up by the forward three guns barking out another salvo.
A full Twenty-one gun salute.
Three...two...one….now Walker thought in her head and then there was rolling rumble like thunder in the distance muffled by both distance and wind, but it wasn't thunder but instead it was multiple gun reports right after the other at least a dozen but the number was likely much higher. The sound made her grin as the immense guns of Forts Atkinson, Nerracca, and Hammer returned the salutes that the Naga had just delivered.
She turned around and saw that both Fubuki and Mutsuki as well as Mahan were looking stunned at not only the precision of the salvoes but also the quickness at which the salute had been returned. "Impressive right?" she asked.
"How many guns do you think fired?" Mutsuki asked after popping her ears.
Walker hummed in thought. "That was probably a solid thirty guns returning the salute at least." she said.
Both Fubuki and Mutsuki started in surprise and Mahan blinked it. "That many guns? Isn't that overkill for just a single destroyer returning home from a patrol?" Mutsuki asked.
Walker laughed out loud. "You should've seen the number of guns that replied to my twenty-one gun salute on April 16th, 1944 when I steamed into this very bay, having spent something like six or seven months in the east, sorting out things with the Empire of the New British Isles and getting into a couple of scrapes as well. The response was incredible, over seventy great guns responded in kind. It was good to be back in my homeport." she said.
The jaws for the other three Kanmusu dropped. "S-s-seventy?!" Fubuki spluttered shocked.
"Yep, at least seventy. Thing is, back at that time production for 4in/50 caliber naval guns had just begun and those weapons were slated for use on the new build Wickes class Destroyers that were under construction. Plus the guys and gals in the Ministry of Experimental Ordnance hadn't even thought about putting the old 3-incher on a field carriage and making it a direct fire field gun yet. Let alone a modern indirect fire artillery piece." Walker replied shrugging.
"Damn, must have been impressive to see." Mahan remarked.
Walker grinned in response. "It was very impressive to see and hear, no doubt about it." she said.
Fubuki sat down in a chair. "I still can't believe everything that's happened over the last couple of days. Between the Abyssal infantry attack on Surabaya which we're lucky to have escaped with our lives, to the running naval battle with those Abyssal Heavy Cruisers, to the torpedo attack on the Battleship Water Demon, to that weird Squall, that aquatic dinosaur, to well everything else that's occurred. It's just weird, you know?" Fubuki asked.
Walker nodded. "I felt the exact same way after I transitioned. Being chased by Japanese Heavy Cruisers, having blasted past a Japanese Capital Ship attacking with torpedoes and evading planes, that weird squall, followed by well everything after that." she said.
"Me too, although my history here was rather short and it was no near as blessed or special as Walker's was. Nothing just seemed to go right for me, no matter how hard I'd try." Mahan said shaking her head.
Walker went back to the window that was facing Baalkpan. "Guys quick! You want to see something amazing?" She said quickly and Mutsuki as well Fubuki got up and raced to the two other portholes.
Beyond, was an incredible sight. The city of Baalkpan stood, a proud city made of wood, bamboo, stone, and brick. The primary landmark that marked the city skyline however wasn't a skyscraper or a radio antenna, no instead it was the immense tree that dominated the central skyline it stood at least as tall as the immense Grizzly Giant at Mariposa Grove in California back home and was freakishly huge in terms of sheer girth. The lightish grey of the bark along with it's dark green leaves just meshed perfectly with the dark reds and browns of brick work, the stone work of various colors, the rich wood that was stained in warm colors, along with the colorful awnings and stained glass windows. A proud bustling city of at least thirty thousand people.
Something caught Walker's eye though, a titanic broad-beamed shape. She focused on it and her eyes widened as she realized what it was. That immense broad-beamed hull, with the dizzyingly high freeboard eliminated the majority of the options with what it could be, the options were either a Roll-on/Roll-off freighter and troop transport, a Self-Propelled Dry Dock, a Grik War era Aircraft Carrier, and the last one was a Lemurian Home.
But which one was it? She squinted and started in surprise as she finally spotted a defining feature. An immense tripod mast with what appeared to be a pagoda mast being bracketed by it, that meant this was a Lemurian Home. The shining grey paint stood out proudly, but Walker began to look for distinctive features, something that would tell her what particular Home she was looking at. They all looked the same visually, but the paint on the pagodas and to a degree even the tripod masts played a major role in identifying individual Homes.
She had been given the status of Home back just before the Grik War began. It had been a lofty status that she hadn't been expecting considering her age and relative obsolescence not to mention the size difference mainly because Lemurian Homes were just over three times her size. But, it had made her feel welcome, particularly considering what she'd been through before that time.
"Damn, that thing is huge." Fubuki said in awed tone.
"That is a Lemurian Home, they used to be very common but now not so much. Before the war there was easily several hundred now I doubt that there is more than a hundred." Walker said gazing at it with melancholy visible in her eyes.
"That few?" Mutsuki asked shocked.
"Yeah, but they offer a relatively simple life and they got no engines either. Just Wings and Sweeps." Walker said.
"What the heck are Wings and Sweeps?" Fubuki inquired sounding very confused.
Walker resisted the urge to introduce her palm to her face. "Sorry, Lemurian words. Wings refer to the sails and the Sweeps refer to the Oars. I will admit that when it comes to hunting Gri-kakka, only the Lemurian Homes can do it effectively. Before the war started, the oil from Gri-kakka was prized because it could be used for nearly anything. That changed afterwards but Gri-kakka hunting is difficult because of the Flasher Fish." she said.
"The piranha like tuna?" Mutsuki asked.
"Yeah, that's a good way of explaining it. If you wind up in the water, you'll last anywhere between two to four minutes before the Flashies arrive and tear you to shreds. But if the seas are high, then the Flashies can't sense the splashing of their victims as you can imagine though, it can make rescues a bitch and half." Walker said.
Mutsuki and Fubuki both nodded in response.
Beneath their feet, the Naga shifted under them slightly. Her deck tilting, the thrumming hum of her turbines winding down somewhat. They knew what to expect but Walker did admit that it made her feel more than a little uncomfortable. Regardless it made some sense, the last thing they wanted was to get dropped right into reunions.
It still took for another half-hour for the Naga, with the assistance of tugs to reach the quay and as they tied off, the hearty rumble of the blower died away almost entirely and then it took nearly an hour later before they heard the distinctive sound of shoes on metal as someone tramped down the stairs.
The first person who walked into the room was a Lemurian who was a member of the Ministry of Intelligence, probably leading whoever their minder was going to be through the ship to make sure that they didn't get lost or at the very least turned around while onboard.
The first person through the door however was an immense mountain of a man. His hair was fairly short and he had a couple of noticeable scars on his face and arms. His skin was darkly tanned while his hair and beard had long since faded to mostly grey, there was still some of the original color left a sun-bleached blonde color. He was wearing what appeared to be summer whites. He was wearing a black leather belt that had a holster containing a .45 pistol and a scabbard with a Pattern 1917 Navy Cutlass.
In that moment, for Walker at least. Time froze, she knew this man. Half of the shenanigans that she had gotten up to back home had been because of the crew imprint from him. Back when she'd been a ship, he'd been her heracles and someone who wouldn't move mountains because they were usually easier to just blow them the hell up. "My God, it's Dennis Silva." Walker said quietly before shouting gleefully "Silva!" as she bolted towards the big man.
Silva for his part merely chuckled, braced himself and when Walker embraced him at the run she was at, which rocked him back on his heels, returned it in the process sweeping her off her feet. "You must be Walker." he said with a grin. "You got the Skipper's eyes."
Walker's cheeks flushed and Mahan giggled at the antics of her younger sister with a smile. "I never expected that you would be our minder, Silva." Walker said her voice clearly happy and energetic.
"Neither did I and to be honest I didn't expect to see you like this either." Silva said before he realized something and still holding Walker stepped inside the Wardroom fully and then to the side.
This allowed a new figure to walk into the wardroom and it seemed that time froze for all. Her bright red eyes, combined with her blonde hair with bright red tips. Her red scarf, navy blue shirt, and white skirt. The moment her gaze met Mutsuki and Fubuki, something clicked.
"Mutsuki-chan, Fubuki-chan poi!" The newcomer squealed with delight before running towards her friends.
"Yūdachi-chan!" Mutsuki and Fubuki shouted in reply, doing likewise for their friend.
The three of them came together and embraced each other as if they hadn't seen each other in years, even though it was true that they hadn't seen each other in a longtime. "Watashi wa anata no koko o shinjiru koto ga dekinai, poi!" Yūdachi said in rapid-fire Japanese.
"Dochira mo shinjirarenai!" Fubuki replied, sounding to Walker genuinely happy for the first time since, well Yūdachi had disappeared after that FUBAR op against that Princess and had been declared MIA then later KIA.
"Sore wa zutto nagaku, watashi wa anata ga futatabi anata ni au koto wa kangaenakatta." Mutsuki added in Japanese as well, energetic and happy just like Fubuki was.
"Dōshite anata wa koko ni kimashita ka, poi?" Yūdachi asked.
Walker picked up on the conversation as Silva set her down. "Same way you did, we went through a squall that well felt menacing and mystical with strange lightning pulsing within it and wound up here. For me that was the second time through and it was just as unpleasant for me as it was the first time." She said, shaking her head.
"Don't remind me, that was rather unpleasant." Silva said and the other Kanmusu all nodded.
"I never thought that I would see you again." Mutsuki said as she looked at Yūdachi.
Yūdachi for her part blinked in surprise at that statement before nodding. "I felt the same way, poi. It's hard to deal with the fact that it was impossible for me to return home, poi." she said.
"Not like that, I thought that after you had got cut off from retreating with the rest of the fleet, that I wasn't going to see you again. I thought that this war was dead set on breaking me, first Hayate-san and then Kisaragi-san. Then there was the fact that the Abyssal February Princess looks pretty similar and worse when they compared sound files it was nearly a perfect match. Then there was the op were you were presumed killed." Mutsuki said, tears beginning to carve silent tracks down her face.
"It was rough." Mahan said. "Mutsuki became almost completely combat ineffective for awhile after that op. The admiralty was thinking about pulling her off the frontlines but before that could happen, Paul Jones had her transferred to DESRON 29 and it worked. During the war, DESRON 29 was almost completely wiped out by the Japanese and thus we sort of knew what Mutsuki was dealing with. I mean, she didn't become like she was before that bad op but she improved enough that the matter about her being taken off the frontlines was dropped." she said.
Walker remembered that, it had been a surprising decision but in her mind the correct one. It had put Mutsuki in a unit that was composed of a tight-knit group of sisters that had during WWII been almost completely wiped out and thus they knew what she had been going through.
"Hold on, back up. What the hell is the February Princess?" Silva asked confused.
"It's complicated, but at one point it was probably a Mutsuki class hull. That is until the Abyssals twisted it to the point that at a glance it was impossible to tell what it had been. But their was definitive tells to what had been, the aft turrets in the three and four position, the funnels, pilothouse, mast arrangement, and to a degree the deck arrangement all matched the layout of the Mutsuki class. But the Abyssals had significantly lengthened and widened the hull as well as increasing all aspects of it's armament." Walker said with a shrug but it was clear she was upset.
Silva's expression clouded as he thought about it and then grew sympathetic as he connected the dots and realized what she meant.
"As nice as this is. First we need to disembark from the Naga and get you debriefed." The Ministry of Intelligence Lemurian said, interrupting the reunion.
Walker shot the Lemurian a withering glare that resulted in her flicking her tail from left to right nervously but she nodded. "Let's go guys." she said and the Kanmusu collectively stood up and then Silva sensing the change, motioned towards the hatchway. The Lemurian blinked in response and led them out of the wardroom and then up a stairway as they headed up to the main deck.
An uncertain future had arrived upon them as they disembarked from the Naga and boarded a couple of trucks.