AN: And here... we... GO!
Italics = Radio, other languages, steel-hulled ship's names, or emphasis
"Hah… hah… W-WAIT! I'm, I'm here! I'm here!" Yuubari said as she skidded to a stop as she crested the grassy hill where she saw Nagato, Arizona, and Leviathan. The green-haired cruiser panted a bit as she caught her breath, but couldn't suppress the grin on her face. "Did I miss it?"
"Nope, you're just in time," Leviathan said as she felt her rigging manifest around her, watching with interest as it formed around her again and tried to suppress the urge to close her eyes as the helmet formed over her bridge. None of her sensors were triggering any kind of slipspace anomalies, but the cruiser was still recording all of her scans anyways. There were a lot of theories in regards to slipstream space, some proven, some not, and a whole lot of them that were scary as hell when thought about too much. Slipspace wasn't a single, alternate dimension, but rather a tangle of intertwined non-spatial dimensions. To put it another way, if regular physical existence could be described as a "flat sheet" representing gravity and the four dimensions humans commonly interacted with, (up-down, front-back, side-to-side, and time), then Slipspace could be represented as a wadded up ball of paper mache with eleven dimensions to it.
However, Slipspace was not the only such alternate realm... Others were also out there, and while the names of those ones escaped her at the moment, she knew that poking around at THOSE ones was something only done in specific labs scattered about. To her knowledge, no one had actually managed to figure out if there was any use for them or not, but given the new world that Leviathan was finding herself in, the incarnated spaceship wasn't about to discount the possibility that this was related somehow… Even though a part of her felt hypocritical for doing so.
In fact… Now that she thought about it, the sensation of her rigging manifesting WAS actually somewhat familiar. Even if it wasn't triggering any of the sensors she used to look for slipspace ruptures, the feeling her armored hull gave as it materialized reminded her a LOT of reconciliation. The sensation of coming back together, of becoming whole again, but without the aspect of temporal dislocation that was normally present... Something she'd have to note for later when she had time.
"S-sugoi~~!" came Yuubari's awe-filled voice as she looked up at Leviathan, causing the larger cruiser to turn to her water-borne counterpart as the green-haired ship-girl began to circle around her, gazing at each component to her armored form as the smaller woman's eyes practically drank in the details. "Primary propulsion shared between back and legs, similar to standard kanmusume, but with a vertical focus as opposed to horizontal… Turret emplacement covering 360 degrees… and is that a spinal mount? Do you have a keel framework like us along the hull, or a central spine that your superstructure is built around?" Yuubari said, slipping back into English after having delved into her native Japanese.
"I think such questions can wait, Yuubari-chan. We are here for a reason," Nagato said.
"Yeah, to see her launch these magic super-fighters of hers," the Marine captain flanking the two battleships said, his arms at his sides in a relaxed form, but Levi could tell that he wished he had his weapon in them, as opposed to slung on his back. His comment though seemed to have at least gotten Yuubari to realize that this wasn't the time, as she stepped back to watch instead.
"As Captain Beauregard has stated, this is a combat launch, so let's let Leviathan work unimpeded, hmm?" The battleship turned wine-red eyes to Leviathan as she stepped back as well. "Proceed when you're ready, if you please."
Nodding, Leviathan turned her attention to her internal systems, ensuring that her Longswords were all armed and ready to go. Her engine-mounts moved back and down, allowing the snub-nosed cannon on the left shoulder-blade to raise itself up and over, a short handle folding out to let Leviathan grip onto it while she keyed in the frequencies she'd been given for the Air Traffic Control. "Yokosuka ATC, this is Leviathan, requesting final clearance for launch of four, that is fo-war, flights of long-range interceptors, over."
"Copy that Leviathan, receiving you loud and clear. Command has already sent us the go-ahead, just waiting on your flight plan, over."
"Roger that ATC, sending now," Leviathan replied, digitally transferring her proposed plan to the operator, who responded within a minute.
"Flight path looks good, skies are clear in your lane. You may proceed with takeoff procedures, over."
"Copy that Yokosuka, preparing for launch now, over," the spaceship-girl said as vectors superimposed themselves over her vision, angles and wind currents measured and marked. The cannon on her shoulder began to whine as magnetic coils charged within it, and the other ship-girls around Levi seemed to tense as it began to reach a crescendo. Inside, the massive exoatmospheric craft all lined up at their hangar doors, moving seamlessly to the loading mechanism without complaint, each black-hulled craft settling into position like hawks preparing to strike as their drives heated up. "Gravity assist online," Leviathan intoned for her audience's sake. "All pre-launch checklists marked, all systems green. Taiha squadron, Alpha flight…. LAUNCH!"
The sound of the cannon firing was unlike anything Yuubari had ever heard before, sounding less like an explosion than it was the sound of air being forcefully displaced with seemingly no cause, resulting in the warping of atmosphere so violently that it cavitated, leaving a stream of vapor in the air that stretched for nearly half a kilometer… Until the shell seemed to fragment, bursting into four diamond-shaped fighters that roared away on twin engines glowing a bright actinic blue! Yuubari's eyes were still watching them as Leviathan's launch mechanism charged again…
"Alpha away. Clean launch! Beta flight, move into position, and prepare for launch... LAUNCH!" Again came the sound of air being rammed aside with no regard for its ownership of the space, and again a line of vapor and a shell-burst resulted from the firing. Two more joined the fray, and Yuubari could barely see the first group as all sixteen Longswords formed up and pushed for higher altitude as they made their way out over the ocean, visibly breaking the sound barrier as they did so.
"All flights launched, Taiha is inbound to the Area of Operations. ETA: 23 minutes."
Operations Specialist Second Class Anders felt the ship shake as another missile was fired from the destroyer's VLS section, as he tried to zero in on an Abyssal fighter using one of the Barry's Bushmasters. Armor-piercing, fin-stabilized discarding sabot rounds flashed out from the chain-fed weapon, tracers painted the way towards the black-hulled fighter and tearing into the toothed fuselage until it hit something vital.
As the Abyssal's remains fell into the sea, aircraft dodged and wove around one another above the ship as fighter and bombers from the enemy's carriers duked it out with Bataan and Gambier Bay's own CAPs. A few surviving Seahawk helicopters that had been attached for ASW purposes were trying to drop their sonobuoys to both help spot any other submerged Abyssals and target them with air-dropped torpedoes.
Again the sound of the VLS opening up and launching was heard as one of the new 'Goblin' anti-Abyssal missiles was launched towards an enemy destroyer, only barely missing due to the shark-like vessel's crash dive. The Goblins didn't have the same amount of explosive force as the British 'Caladbolg' missiles, but they were faster, and were more maneuverable, which made them better for use against Abyssal destroyers, who liked to slip under the waves and then leap like blood-crazed dolphins. The act meant that these lighter ships kept breaking radar, visual, and thermal tracking even with the Anansi network filtering out as much of the eldritch ECM-like effects that the sea spirits wafted about like a bad cologne.
Turning his trusty gun against another group of Abyssal fighters, Anders grimaced as the CWIS opened up, trying to shoot down incoming shells as they splashed about the Barry, one of them catching the ship in the chain locker and blasting hot shrapnel up into the air as the ship bucked. Gritting his teeth, the man kept his sights on target, damaging but not destroying another Abyssal fighter before things really took a turn for the worse…
As the ship's captain tried to make a hasty turn to port, an I-class reared up out of the water and opened its jaws wide, slamming into the side of the Barry/em as teeth the size of a Volkswagen sank into the hull! Feeling the lurch of the ship as it had to account for the sudden drag of an additional 2400 tons, Anders watched as the Torpedoeman's Mate took up a weapon that had been made as a sort of adhoc response to close quarters with such beasts and charged along the deck. Basically just a contact-fused grenade attached to a pole, the harpoon was light but nasty as it could be thrown with fairly good accuracy and could do some devastating damage in the right places. The Mate pulled the activation tab and threw it at the Abyssal's glowing eye, the magnesium/white phosphorous tip igniting in a retina-searing flash as it burned, causing the I-class to roar in pain and retract itself from the Arleigh Burke's stricken hull. While the man took a grim satisfaction in almost literally spitting in their enemy's eye, Anders could see that there was already a second one coming in at full steam, shrugging off fire from the side-mounted machine guns. Bracing himself, the gunner made a prayer to the Almighty as he threw shells into the beast's open mouth as it descended on him…
Hatsuyuki knew they were doomed the minute that she saw the Barry get cut in half. Flames, smoke, and steam all curdled out into the air as the red-hot engines were breached and then stricken by sea-water, signaling the end of the brave ship as it began to sink beneath the waves. The death knell had already been rung five minutes ago when some of Bataan's scouts had detected two more sets of contacts, north-east and south-east of the convoy, which had been announced with a scream of "RE-CLASS!" as the Abyssals finished closing their trap. With her and her sister Shirayuki so far out of position now and dealing with being bracketed by two separate battleships and their escorts, there was little a pair of destroyers that were already trying to just survive could do.
"Hey, Shirayuki-chan, why don't you head back to the convoy?" she said over the radio as she trained her weapons on a destroyer with one eye already burning, feeling a flicker of satisfaction in her heart that at least one of the guppies had been killed.
"Hatsuyuki-chan, I'm a little tied up here! Can I get some cover fire, please?" her sister replied as she dodged another torpedo spread, causing the lazy destroyer to sigh.
"Fiiiine…" she said listlessly as she switched her cannons southward, launching another salvo towards the pack of destroyers that were hounding the more polite of the Fubuki-class, straddling one of the black fish-like ships while launching her torpedoes back towards the Ru-class that had finished reloading. "Seriously though Shirayuki… Get back to the others. I'm done here…"
"W-what? No, Hatsuyki-chan, don't say things like that!"
"Mou… Don't put up that much of a fuss. I told you I had a bad feeling about today anyways. Just get back home with the others, okay?"
"Hatsuyuki-chan… Don't… Don't go!"
"Maaaa… Don't make me make a speech… That Ru's already got me in her sights," she said, watching as the black battleship on the horizon leveled its main battery her way. em"I can only dodge for so long, hmm?"
"Hatsuyuki-chan… Wait! Bataan-san, this is Shirayuki, come in! I need a bombing run on the northwest Ru-class, it's targeting Hatsuyuki-chan!"
"Negative on that! They're already tasked, and I'm having a bitch of a time dealing with the enemy's airforce here! Send your targeting to the McCain!" came the light carrier's reply as the destroyer made a plaintive noise in turn.
"McCain, this is Shirayuki, I need a missile targeting Skunk 7 now, it's about to…!"
"Shirayuki-chan, can you ask Mutsuki-chan to walk the corgis when you get back?"
"I promised Fubuki-chan that I'd help her when we got back…"
"Huh? Hatsuyuki-chan, you can do that yourself once we g-" The destroyer's words crashed together in her throat as a burst of static went over the waves, just as a fireball erupted in the direction of her once lazy younger sister...
Santou grinned as she bracketed that crazy American cruiser Chester, the heavy cruiser cursing and swearing as she tried to return fire, while Zaula rammed a salvo into the Curtis Wilbur's forward gun, blasting the weapon clean off its deck while a second salvo nearly tore the aft end off completely. Jericho was gritting her teeth and favoring her left arm, the turrets on it having taken a direct hit from John S McCain's missiles, yet her blood was pumping with excitement. Chester fired off another salvo from her guns at the fast Abyssal battleship, the shells kicking up a spray where they hit the water and sparks where one armor-piercing shell deflected off Santou's shoulder pauldron.
[Awww, what's the matter American? Can't aim? Maybe I should just take that other eye of yours out and make it a matching set, hmm? Then you'd have all the excuse to be useless you want!]the Ta-class taunted as she lined up another salvo.
"Your mother was a pontoon and your captain smelled of hops!" Chester replied as she returned fire, narrowly missing her target due to a last-minute dodge on her own part. "SWAY! A little help here?!"
"I'm comin', I'm comin', don't get your panties in a wad," Salt Lake City said as she fired her rear turrets at the Ta-class, the five 8-inch rifles sending shells the fast battleship's way and causing one to impact on the pale-skinned woman's belly.
[Gah! You'll pay for that!]
"Make me, bitch," the Pensacola-class replied in deadpan expression as she kept herself between the Ta-class and her original prey, the Hannover Bridge. The cargo ship was trying to make a new speed record for itself as it moved past its factory mandated 'safe' settings and poured on the steam, while Swayback looked over at her left side, blood still leaking out of the shoulder as the limb sank down into the murk some half a mile behind them. Her facial features remained impassive as she kept firing on the enemy fast-battleship, bracketing her a few times before landing a beautiful salvo along her bow turret. It didn't set off an ammunition explosion sadly, but the turret itself was nearly blown clean off of the green-glowing Abyssal's shoulder and elicited a scream of pain from her in the process.
[You WHORE! I'll drag you to the scrappers myself for that!] came the Ta's reply along with a burst from her secondaries.
"Go ahead and try. I give out disappointment for free to pretentious types…"