AN: Howdy folks, here it is the epilogue of the Haifuri: Gone Asiatic. This marks the end of this story; it's been fun that's for sure writing this story. Anyway, I hope to see you soon in the next chapter or story that I come up with.
With that out of the way, let's set sail into the chapter and then off into the sunset!
"I am not mad Shiro-chan." Akeno said softly, looking out to sea from the quay. Despite the fact she was wheelchair bound and would more than likely never regain her full mobility due to the extent of her injuries, her eyes still held a solid determination within them and allowed one a glimpse of a fighting spirit that wouldn't go down easily.
"W-what?" Mashiro replied stunned, she hadn't been expecting that at all. "But, I am responsible for the loss of the Tokoro and several of her crew, including Noma!" Mashiro continued shocked, her voice filled with grief.
"That may be true, but when you saw that Fuji class and it's entourage coming out of that squall. You didn't panic, something which I likely would have done, mainly because those monsters weigh in at something like 87,950 tons standard displacement and weigh over 95,000 tons full load. Plus, you thought of a plan that if it hadn't been for a stroke of bad luck would have either sunk or at best would have left that Fuji class heavily damaged." Akeno replied still gazing out to sea, a solemn look in her eyes.
"But, this one case of bad luck hit me so hard. I got nearly everyone onboard the Tokoro injured in someway, almost everyone had at least one broken bone and wounds that required stitches! The crew from the Stewart who commandeered the Prince of Wales's RBB occasionally had to shoot at sharks for Christ sakes!" Mashiro said sourly, remembering how nearly everyone had an injury of some kind including her.
"I wouldn't argue that. But you fought your ship brilliantly and kept the crew calm and collected despite being in the face of far superior firepower. When you were forced to take up the mantle of captaincy, you didn't shy away from the unexpected challenge instead you faced it head-on and you didn't lose faith in yourself. I am proud of the job that you did out there." Akeno said, pride evident in her voice.
"I agree with that, Acting Captain Munetani commanded the Tokoro excellently, particularly considering the circumstances that resulted in her assuming command. Injuries and those lost aside, I would certainly recommend her for her own ship next year." A voice said from behind them, Akeno and Mashiro turned and saw that Captain Sophie Saunders was limping up to them, she had a pair of crutches and her left leg was in a heavy looking cast.
"Sophie!" Akeno exclaimed in surprise. "What happened?!" she continued stunned.
Sophie smiled faintly. "Broke my goddamned leg when the Prince of Wales was hit by seven goddamned shells from that bloody Fuji class and before that salvo hit us, the Prince of Wales had been hit three separate times by that thing. But the doc said that within a month and half I'll be back on my feet." she replied and then her face grew sad and she sighed deeply. "Prince of Wales suffered incredible damage and a lot dead and wounded too. Out of a crew composed of seventy-five students in the Royal Navy Youth Academy Scapa Flow and thirty Royal Marine Youth Academy students, plus the crew of the Stewart. The Prince of Wales lost twenty-two students from the Royal Navy Youth Academy, eleven Royal Marine Youth Academy students, and sixteen students from the Stewart. I heard that the HNLMS Banckert out of a crew of one-hundred forty nine Koninklijk Zee de Jeugdinstituut students that thirty-two didn't make it, which is a miracle in itself considering the battering that she took." Sophie said with a sigh.
Akeno sighed deeply as she wheeled herself away from the edge the quay and began heading toward the van that would take them back to hospital so they could spend the night with their comrades who were still recovering from their various wounds. "I am probably in for a solid roasting because of the loss of the Tokoro. Which is then probably going to be followed up by more than a couple of grillings from parents." Akeno said glumly as they got into the van.
"Why's that? I mean I get the thing from parents, I've already been on the receiving end of a couple of those so I know what it's like. But why would you be in for a roasting?" Sophie asked confused.
"The Tokoro was the second ship in a row that I've been the captain of and the second ship in a row that's now been sunk. The first one was the Harekaze which after looking at the damage it was decided to salvage her by refloating her and having her repaired. But the biggest pain is going to be raising her without damaging her even further. Plus they have to go through normal procedure which is launching an inquiry into the loss of the Tokoro." Akeno said shaking her head.
"I understand what you mean. That's normal procedure everywhere, whenever a ship is sunk and there are survivors from the command staff a board of inquiry is launched in order to figure out what went wrong." Sophie said, shaking her head.
"Captain if it's worth anything. I am going to try and take the fall for you, because I was in command when the Tokoro was lost. Which means that you wouldn't have the correct knowledge to answer any questions that relates to the loss of the Tokoro." Mashiro added, rubbing the back of her head somewhat awkwardly because she was buckled up.
Sophie suddenly turned grim. "When is Rin's funeral?" she asked sadly.
"Rin's funeral is going to occur within two weeks, it's been decided that she'll be buried at Yokosuka National Cemetery, the plot that's been selected was paid for by an anonymous donor as was the funeral. The plot itself is facing out to sea." Akeno said, sorrowfully.
"I probably won't be coming, but I can tell you that most likely everyone from the Jupiter will also attend." Sophie said and Akeno nodded.
Two weeks later, it was a cool and sunny afternoon in Yokosuka a few white fluffy clouds dotted the sky. At Yokosuka National Cemetery, at a singular plot facing out to sea there was a large crowd of people, mourning the loss of a young and energetic soul. Akeno had truly been surprised when nearly everyone who was onboard the Tokoro during that day had showed up. To say that it was heart-breakingly hard wasn't sufficient enough descriptor, Rin had been the first person to trust in her skills as a Captain.
So when Rin's parents had asked for her to say a few words, it had been surprising. But they had wished for her to do it. Still having to go up to that podium was tough. Fighting back tears, she started. "Good afternoon everyone and thank you for coming. When I first met Rin, she had a lack of bravery and whenever we got into bad situations would prefer to retreat. However as time went on, she found her niche and became braver and braver the longer we were together as a crew first on the Harekaze, as well as over the summer between our Freshmen and Sophomore years, and then later on the Tokoro. She was also the first during our Freshman year to actually place her trust in my abilities as a captain. Plus was one of the nicest people that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and someone who also made sure that she did her job to the best of her abilities. She knew she had her flaws and would even acknowledge them but that one trait is one of the best qualities to have and I admire that and I am glad to have known her." Akeno said taking a moment to wipe her eyes before stepping away from the podium and going back to her seat.
It had been hard being able to work up the courage to do this, which Akeno reflected was rather ironic considering who she'd done the eulogy for. She thought back to the Wake and Viewing that had occurred two days prior and how everyone that had attended swapped stories and reflected on her life. Akeno shook her head subtly and realized that Rin wouldn't want her to focus on her death and constantly think about what she could have done differently, if anything Rin would have wanted her to move on. But, regardless it made her wonder if she would ever recover from what she had seen.
The next part of funeral had Principal Munetani came up to the podium and she gave a few words about what she thought of Rin and how it had amazed her seeing how she had bloomed.
Then her parents came up to the podium and said their own eulogy. It was clear they were heartbroken and to be frank anyone would be.
After the funeral ended, Akeno remained at the Cemetery for a while longer than everyone else. The sun was beginning to set, painting the sky a brilliant red-orange, in the distance a pod of dolphins broached from the surface of the water and expelled air from their lungs. And sailing into the sunset, Akeno would swear later that she saw a large Galleon with three masts, with a massive spread of canvas flying magnificently from her masts, the ship turned into the setting sun and just as it disappeared a rare natural phenomena happened, a bright green flash shot forth into the sky and then disappeared shortly their after. Of the Galleon, there was no sign, it had completely disappeared without a trace, which completely baffled Akeno. She shook her head and slowly wheeled herself towards awaiting van.
Still, she kept on wondering was what had befallen the USS Walker DD-163? She had figured that with the amount of debris seen that it was more than likely that the USS Mahan DD-102 had been sunk with all hands lost. Still it was highly unlikely that the Walker had been sunk. It would likely become one of the great mysteries of this little incident, as far as she could figure, the Walker and her crew had simply disappeared and were thus lost to the whims of the universe.
One Week Earlier
Onboard the USS Walker DD-163
Off the coast of the island of Menjangan
The blower of the USS Walker DD-163 emitted a deep and restful sound, making it seem as if the Wickes class Destroyer was resting. Which to be fair wasn't far from the truth, she and her sister Mahan were waiting till nightfall so they could run the Bali Strait and then make a mad dash for Australia and safety. At least that was the plan, but in Matt's experience so far, just about every plan he and his ship and taken part in had ended in disaster, the Malay Barrier Defense Command had fought a brilliant struggle one whose fate had been decided from the start it had seemed.
Still, there was one thing right now that ever since that weird squall about a week ago had occurred. For one thing, unusual mists enshrouded both the Mahan and Walker not that he was complaining, anything to give them extra cover. Still now they were beginning to burn-off which sadly gave the CO a good view at the thoroughly mangled USS Mahan DD-102, the destroyer looked better than she did after they had tangled with the Zipang but she was still a mess. Her number four funnel was gone as was one of her davits which had been crushed by the stack when it had collapsed, her bridge was a twisted unrecognizable mess, her aft deckhouse and auxiliary conn was gone meaning she could only maneuver by pulling the steering cables that connected the steering engine to the rudder, her searchlight tower had also collapsed and crumpled one of the torpedo mounts.
Things were weird though, strange creatures similar to bipedal Komodo Dragons inhabited the island that they were near. Still a clanking sound got Matt's attention and as he watched from the bridge the anchor came clattering up, crew members were spraying the chain with a high-pressure spray of saltwater from a fire hose to rinse the chain as it clattered onto the deck and dragged the anchor into it's well. Still he stepped onto the starboard side bridge wing and peered at the enigmatic island, one of his crew members had been killed on that island, that had gotten him mad and it had resulted in him letting one of those lizards run right up to him and he shot it right in the eye with his M1911.
The motion of the ship got his attention, now that the anchor was off the bottom the wind was pushing the bow of the ship toward the island. "Starboard engine ahead slow." He said quietly, but nevertheless his voice carried to the helmsman who instantly took action.
"Starboard engine ahead slow, aye!" confirmed the helmsman of the watch Tony Scott, as the bells rang up starboard ahead slow. Matt sighed, the routine of ship handling soothed the tension that their predicament had. The anchor chain which had now finally come to rest in it's spot was now being given a more thorough rinsing by the deck-apes. Getting the more stubborn mud and weeds out of the chain. It was a procedure that Matt had witnessed many times, but now for the first time he truly appreciated the seamless efficiency that the deck-apes performed the duty. It showed that no matter the circumstances some things never changed, things like duty.
Suddenly the intercom buzzed, and the bridge talker, a mere first semester freshman named Fred Reynolds, opened the circuit to the crow's nest. Moments later the sharp Seattle accent of Alfred Vernon the current watch lookout came over the circuit.
"Bridge! I have a surface target! Bearing three five zero! Range … damn! It's hard to tell, the mist is still pretty heavy in the strait. I make it six zero, double zero! Whatever the damn thing is, it's big!" Vernon's voice was high-pitched with excitement and wonder.
"Sound General Quarters!" Matt shouted. "Signal Mahan to head for the rally point! We'll distract… whoever it is and catch up later tonight!"
Aft and below decks, in the aft fireroom, Spanky had just returned the coffeepot to its burner making sure that the thing was solidly secured and in place. He had was just about to take a sip of coffee when suddenly the distinctive GONG! GONG! GONG! Of the General Quarters alarm rang, moments later the engine telegraph rang up AHEAD FLANK and all hell broke loose. The Walker suddenly shot forward, nearly causing Spanky to fall, he dropped his coffee cup reaching to grab onto something. The cup hit the deck plating and shattered into a million pieces. The stern crouched down and the big screws bit into the water, at the sametime the blowers roared and raw fuel oil gushed into the stacks, which Spanky knew would create a large amount of grey smoke. While the mice and water tender worked furiously to stop water from reaching turbines. Isak swore as the coffeepot despite being properly secured came off of the burner in the coffee maker and fell to the deck were it promptly shattered and thus sending scalding hot liquid splashing across his legs. Men scampered about, sliding the loosened deck plates back into their proper positions as the ship picked up speed, but began settling back into a relatively normal and only slightly nerve wracking acceleration.
Spanky looked around at the aftermath of the chaos that had resulted from the sudden order to go to ahead flank and wiped his brow to clear the sweat away as he checked for blown gauges. "Bloody hell!" he muttered. "I guess the Skipper didn't take the hint when I asked him to take it easy!"
AN: Alright, that's the end of Haifuri: Gone Asiatic folks. Sorry if it's a little short, but I felt that I didn't really have many loose-hanging plot threads that needed to be tied up.
The bit involving the Walker and Mahan was based on scene from the 1st Destroyermen Series Novel: Into The Storm when they first spotted a Lemurian Home.
As for what Akeno saw, well if you're familiar with Pirates of the Caribbean, specifically Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End then you know what Akeno saw.
Anyway, let's pull into dock at our final port of call! I'll catch you in the next story!