AN: Howdy folks! Thorthemighty321 here with another chapter of Haifuri: Iron Bottom Sound. In this chapter we see some familiar faces, a few new ones, and we get some more action. Still suffice to say, things are most certainly rising in action.

Note the company Quicksilver Industries as well as its products aren't owned by me. They are in fact owned by Shockwave9001 on DeviantArt and used with permission.

Anyway grab a refreshment, take a seat, and let's get this show rolling.


1220 Hours, February 5th, 2020

Somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean

Moeka China, the class president and captain of the Yokosuka Girls Maritime High School ship Ikoma at the moment wasn't in the best of moods at the moment. As it had turned out the Ikoma's propulsion plant was rather temperamental despite having gone through a major rebuild two years ago. It was just her luck that they had a major steam line that fed one of the four turbines pop, they were forced to secure the inboard starboard shaft and wait for it's steam line to go completely cold before they could start working on it. As a result they had been forced to secure their inboard port shaft so they wouldn't have to deal with uneven thrust.

As a result they were restricted to a speed of only fifteen knots, as a result of that they probably weren't going to arrive in the Sealark Channel until the 7th. Originally it had been planned that Akagi and Kaga along with the Ikoma, Tokoro, Yukikaze, Arashi, and Maikaze; but with the war in the west breaking out and thus the Akagi, Kaga, Yukikaze, Arashi, and Maikaze being reassigned to do rear echelon tasks, the Tokoro being sunk with Noma and Rin, plus twenty two crew members from the HMS Jupiter losing their lives and Akeno losing ten percent of her mobility in one leg plus having some substantial wounds. That meant only the Ikoma could take part in this exercise, of course they were scheduled to arrive by late morning in the Sealark Channel on the sixth but now they were going to arrive on the seventh.

Moeka was at the moment sitting in the captain's chair on the bridge. Mentally going over in her mind how many other things could possibly go wrong. The Ikoma was a fast ship, capable thanks to her latest propulsion plant overhaul and rebuild of thirty-five and half knots. She was looking out over the ocean straight to the horizon. Moeka sighed, something was just nagging at her, telling her that she was going to become unwittingly part of something greater, however for the moment she ignored it.

Suddenly the wired satellite phone that was next to the commander's station rang. The sharp sudden noise caused Moeka to jump slightly, she glanced at the phone base and frowned at the number. It was one Commodore Pete Allen, if memory served he was in-charge of the Cruiser Division that was in the Sealark Channel, wasn't it composed of Quincy, Chicago, Astoria, and Vincennes? But wasn't that force under the overall command of a Australian named Crutchley, who in turn was under the command of an American named Winchester?

Moeka decided then and there that the chain of command was way too complicated, way too many guys in charge at too many different levels which could lead to confusion and thus in a battle that confusion unless it was rectified would lead to disaster. Still, she probably wanted to answer the phone, sighing she picked it up and answered. "This is Moeka China, class president and CO of the Yokosuka Girls Maritime High School ship Ikoma. How can I be of service?" she said in a dull monotone.

"Finally! I've been trying to find that number for awhile. This is Commodore Pete Allen of Heavy Cruiser Division 12, speaking. Captain China I must ask, when will the Ikoma arrive in theater?" The American growled with a thick Texan accent, if Moeka remember properly, United States Navy Junior Academy ship divisions were usually commanded by an actual United States Navy Officer, usually of the Commodore or Rear Admiral ranking. However the posting was also considered something of a joke. Still best to stay polite.

"I don't follow Commodore, this is just an expedition. Not a theater of war." Moeka said in a confused tone.

She heard a heavy sigh over the line before the American began speaking again. "That's changed Captain China, a flight of our new fangled Resolutes have discovered that the Kraks have built an airfield on Guadalcanal. General Vandergrift is currently holding the airfield but considering that as we speak, one of our fighter squadrons is intercepting a hostile force of fighter crates, it's highly likely that we are going to come under air attack and I am willing to bet that the Krak Navy is going to pay us a visit as well in the near future." Commodore Pete said with sadness in his voice.

"So, you're asking me if I am still in for this, right sir?" Moeka asked, worry beginning to seep into her voice. The last time someone she knew had fought against the Kraks they'd been emotionally and physically scarred.

"Exactly Captain, I am. I wouldn't hold it against you if you decide against coming. But as it stands, the cards are severely stacked against us, the majority of the big boys we got in theater right now are American Treaty Cruisers and a pair of Australian Kent class Heavy Cruisers, the only battleship we got in theater is the North Carolina and she's baby-sitting the Big E. I would certainly feel better having a battlecruiser in theater. But if you decline this offer, you'd have to go back to Yokosuka most likely and then you'd be doing rear echelon assignments while everyone else is fighting and dying on the frontlines." Pete replied dearly.

That gave Moeka pause, if they refused they'd be stuck in the area of Japan. The most action they'll like ever see if any would be likely defending against air attacks. On the other hand though, it was clear that friendly forces in the Sealark Channel area could clearly use a heavy hitter. But that would mean putting the lives of the one hundred thirty strong crew of the Ikoma which was double her normal complement as a High School Ship at risk of being severely injured or worse. But she was also grateful for the enlarged crew, it meant that not only did her ship have a respectable DAMCON team but also that the entirety of Ikoma's battery of 40mm and 25mm AA guns could be fully manned. Still, she wasn't sure what she wanted to do.

"I am not sure Commodore as to what my choice will be. The Ikoma is clearly needed desperately in theater that much is clear. But my ship, even though it's a High School Ship, the Ikoma usually has a crew of sixty-five, enough to man the engine and boiler rooms, the primary fire control platform, the ammunition and powder handling rooms for the main battery, the radar stations, communications shack, have a pointer and trainer for each gun turret in the secondary, man the galley, man some of the AA guns, the bridge, and have a small DAMCON team. But after this war broke out, the Ikoma's crew was effectively doubled to give the snipes and DAMCON team a hand, plus being able to man all of the AA guns. It's saddening because I know in my heart that if we get in a pitched battle against anything heavier than a Heavy Cruiser the Ikoma could lose a large percentage of her crew and I don't need that on my soul." Moeka explained.

There was a pause over the connection as that revelation sank in. "It's the same here, all of our ships have larger crews, hell we're doing mass transfers of students out of the Atlantic Fleet and sending them to the Pacific so we can have more crew members to help man the ships, a lot of our ships in the Atlantic are now learning about show the flag operations instead of battle operations, it's going to bite us in the ass I just know it but considering how much of a meat-grinder this war is turning out to be, I've heard whispers that they may recommission the Texas class and those old-timers are laid up in mothballs, as well as whispers that we may send the Iowa and Montana sisters to the front as well as some of the Des Moines class plus the Boston, Galveston, Providence, and Albany class ships. But now a new theater has opened completely unexpectedly on us, and it's highly unlikely we're going to be getting any aid at all. Considering that the Kraks in the Western Theater are really tearing us all up." The Commodore replied in a sad tone.

"Okay that must mean the war is really going badly if you are that frantic for ships. Still, I mean so many different things can go wrong, but I also want a chance to prove myself, I was just so useless during the RATs outbreak. But, sir, I have to ask is it common when you are leading your ship into a combat theater for the first time for your mind to be saying one thing but your heart to be saying another?" Moeka asked, her voice filled with regret and sorrow about not being able stop the spread of the RATs infestation on her ship.

Again their was another pause. "Sometimes yes, and sometimes no Captain. You learn to care for those under your command like they are family and in time, your crew comes to respect you like either a mother or a father. The last thing you want to do is go into battle knowing you could lose ones you almost consider family. But sometimes you have no other choice but to do it, because lives are on the line. However I've read the reports about the RATs virus and how for the majority of the school year you were barricaded inside the bridge. Yet think about what you really want, you said it yourself, you want to prove yourself. The important question here is, are you ready for something like this?" Pete asked in a calm voice.

Moeka seriously had to think about that. It was true, however she did want to prove herself and considering that some of the students onboard the Ikoma where from the Musashi last year, they'd likely want a chance to prove themselves as well. The answer for her was now obvious.

"Thanks sir. I've made my decision now." Moeka said.

"And your decision is?" The Commodore asked.

"Add the Ikoma to the unit roster, we'll be arriving in theater on February 7th, 2020, probably by mid morning. The reason it won't be tomorrow is because we had a main steamline that fed one of the turbines pop on us, forced us to shut down two shafts. But our Chief Engineer said that she'll get us there, even if she has to get and push." Moeka said.

"Good to hear Captain. It'll be nice to see a battlecruiser in theater, mainly because we won't have to worry about cruisers anymore. Still you'd likely have to have a chat with Crutchley in order to figure out if we should put the Ikoma with a separate division, form a new division centered on her, or what. But I guess we'll hammer that out on the seventh." Pete said.

"Yessir, I understand and look forward to meeting you in-person!" Moeka said with loads of enthusiasm in her voice.

"The same to you Captain." Commodore Pete said and then the line disconnected and Moeka hung up the phone. She had numerous thoughts swirling in her mind.

"Who was on the phone captain?" the helmsman asked curiously.

Moeka glanced at her. "Oh just Commodore Pete Allen of the 12th Heavy Cruiser Division, I think USN Heavy Cruiser Divisions are generally composed of four to six Heavy Cruisers in two squadrons of two to three ships apiece." Moeka replied.

"If I remember right the 12th is currently under strength, because don't they usually have a Baltimore class and an Oregon City class ships assigned to them?" The helmsman asked curiously.

Moeka thought about that for a minute, before remembering a news report she'd read. "No, they don't; it's only a five ship division and that fifth ship is a Portland class Heavy Cruiser, which if I remember right is the flagship. As for current strength they are slightly understrength. According to Naval Today the fifth ship in the division the USS Squaw Valley is the only other Heavy Cruiser in the division and she was forced to return to Pearl Harbor with a steering engine casualty, that's nothing that can be fixed at sea so they were forced to return to port. But they still have four tough and powerful Heavy Cruisers. Still, I am curious as to what they'll do once the Ikoma arrives in theater." She explained.

"Wait, I thought this was just a series of joint exercises. Why all of a sudden has it changed too theater? What does that even mean?" The Helmsman asked confused.

"I am going to explain that right now, not just to the bridge crew but the entire crew." Moeka said with a sigh as she stood up and picked up a microphone and toggled the 1MC.

She took a deep breath. "Now hear this! Now hear this!" she started, her voice being amplified by the speakers scattered throughout the various compartments inside the ship. "As I am sure you're all aware, the nations of Japan, United States, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of China are fighting tooth and nail against the United Imperial Republic, or as they have become known as during the Malay Barrier Incident, the Kraken Fleet or now the Kraken Republic. We all know that in some cases our loved ones or close friends are fighting hard in that conflict. But, the joint exercise we were slated to join has discovered that the Kraken Republic was planning to open a new theater in the South Pacific, being based out of an Airstrip on an island called Guadalcanal. Realizing what could this mean if Australia had its supply lines cut, General Vandergrift changed the tempo of operations from educational to war. There objective is quite simple, hold this airstrip at all costs. American and Australian Naval Academy Forces will maintain a presence in the Sealark Channel and when we arrive we are going to be joining them. I know that none of you wanted this, but I also know that some of you want to get in on the action and that others would be adamantly against it. But right now, when we arrive, the Ikoma will hopefully be able to tip the scales so that no Kraken Fleet Cruiser would dare show it's face in the Sealark Channel until we are relieved by professional forces. It's official, from this moment on we are steaming under wartime conditions, this means at night we are going to be running a darkened ship and that we're at condition III at times. Whenever that alarm goes off, it's for real, remember the world that the Blue Mermaids are fighting in now, it's fraught with danger at every twist and turn. We were admitted to Yokosuka Girls Maritime High School so we could fulfill our dreams of becoming Blue Mermaids, but besides being Peacekeepers and Search and Rescue responders, they have another less well known task and that task is the one of soldier. It's a task that while we may not wish to go through it, we have to. Otherwise, how many innocent lives could be lost if the Kraken Fleet succeeds in cutting those supply lines to starvation and illness? We have to take part in this, I am not going to be lying in saying some us likely won't be making it back alive, but remember if there's anything that these many weeks at sea have taught us, it's that we're family. Now let's fight for peace, freedom, and justice, because those are always worth fighting for." Moeka finished, even as cheers began to resound through the hull of the ship.

It had been in her mind a good speech. "We're with you Captain! Always." The deputy captain said.

"Thanks, now then let's get the Ikoma prepped for war. I want the linoleum floors ripped out, same goes with the wood-panelling, we can keep the peacetime awnings and such up for another day or hell we can keep them up until radar detects trouble. Need to have some shade on the deck to shelter the deck hands from this sweltering South Pacific sun and once we get to Guadalcanal the nearly constant daily rains." Moeka ordered and the ship secretary looked at her confused.

"Why Captain? I mean removing the wood-panelling and linoleum floors? Why the hell should we do that?" The ship secretary, Kono Anbi asked perplexed.

"The reason Kono is quite simple. Both the Linoleum and wood-panelling are flammable and while I know that our "linoleum" flooring is really just PVC, the problem is that while it's somewhat difficult to get PVC to ignite it can and will burn, when it does it will release Hydrogen Chlorine in relation to its amount of chlorine content at an almost quantitative ratio. Now the problem here is that when Hydrogen Chlorine comes into contact with the water found in the human body. It becomes Hydrochloric acid, thus the results of being exposed to Hydrogen Chlorine are rather nasty. As for the wood-panelling it's red mahogany and while it's pretty and durable it's also flammable. Thus we need those hazards removed if we are going to be seeing combat." Moeka replied shaking her head.

Kono blinked in response. "Your kidding, right? You mean we have to remove basically all of the interior decor just because of the hazards that they pose? This ship is for educational purposes and not! Fighting! Fucking! WARS!" She shouted.

Moeka couldn't believe what she'd just heard and also slightly at how stupid Kono was being. "Then what the fuck do you think that this ship's nine 12.2in/50 caliber guns, sixteen 10cm/65 caliber DP guns, eight 24in torpedo tubes, twelve 40mm AA guns, twenty-six 25mm AA guns, and armor that is over eight inches thick in places are for then?! For show!? Like it or not Ms. Anbi, this ship while she's mostly for educational purposes it is also a powerful warship and if we can do something to help prevent the catastrophe that will unfold if Australia has its supply lines cut then damnit it all to hell we will!" She snapped angrily, blatantly pointing out the obvious as she gave Kono a harsh glare.

Kono simply wilted under Moeka's glare, a lesson from a Boatswain's Mate. Who according to her, the key to every rant or tirade was knowing not only when to use curse words, but also crafting the use of words in such a way that they make someone realize just how wrong they are, it also helps to add a harsh glare to the mix. "Yes Captain. I'll let the beautification team know about it ASAP." she said quietly before rushing out of the bridge.

"Think I was too harsh on her?" Moeka asked after a moment.

"Maybe a little, but yeah I have no clue how she managed to get high-enough scores to get assigned to a Capital Ship like the Ikoma. As a deck ape, perhaps but as the Ship Secretary? Not really." The Deputy Captain of the Ikoma, Kaya Rise said.

"I guess you're right. It's just that Kono can be a little stupid at times. Still, I wonder why she acted that way. It doesn't make any sense at all, I am going to ask her what's up, later." Moeka said and Kaya nodded in response.

"You should do that Captain, Kono seemed extremely distressed about the idea of going into a war zone for some reason." Kaya said with a smile.

"You're right, why the hell didn't I notice it myself? I am going to go apologize to her at the end of the watch." Moeka replied.

After no one responded, Moeka sighed and decided to listen to the sounds of the ship. The force draft blowers were rumbling proudly and at a steady rate as well, she listened more intently, she could just barely make out the turbines as they worked putting out an ever so subtle whine. It was wrong to think of a ship as an inanimate object, a mere tool or means to an end; because they were more than that, take good care of a ship and when the chips are down she would pull through for you.

A moment later however the hatchway opened and Kono stepped onto the bridge. Moeka seeing her chance turned toward her. "Kono, listen. I am sorry for acting the way I did, it's just that we've been forced into an extraordinary position and that they say that extraordinary positions make normal people do extraordinary things." She said calmly.

"No, Captain. It's my fault, but I got a lot on my mind." Kono said and then she reached into her pocket and pulled a piece of paper out and handed it to Moeka. "That's the reason I acted like I did." she said in a shy tone.

Moeka looked at the piece of paper. It was from Kono's mother, likely one last email from her. It read:

Kono,

I am so sorry. But the Enoshima is sinking and I am severely injured and may not survive after we abandon her. I love you with all my heart, please be strong.

Love,

Mom

"Did your mother survive, Kono?" Moeka asked as she handed the piece of paper back.

"No, she didn't. Two weeks ago I got one of those dreaded 'I regret to inform you' letters. They never found the survivors from the Enoshima, just a few tattered life rafts and one of her Rigid Bouyant Boats, severely damaged and literally half sunk. They think that another Independence class was in the process of rescuing the survivors when she got hit in the magazine and the resulting explosion opened the ship up and caused it to sink like a stone. Dealing the severe damage to the lifeboat and liferafts and killing the survivors from the Enoshima." Kono said, her expression becoming heartbroken.

"I am incredibly sorry for your loss Kono. You should've come forward about this, the crew of a ship is like a family. Had you told me or Kaya or hell even the ship's medical officer; we would've helped you get through this. However your mother was a Blue Mermaid correct?" Moeka asked.

"Yes she was, in my opinion of the best. Now she's gone and I'll never see her again, the official report stated that the Enoshima was engaged by three enemy missile destroyers and that the ship sank after being hit by a heavy Anti-Ship Missile. But the report also stated that the Enoshima went down swinging, destroying two enemy destroyers and damaging the third for sure." Kono said, sniffling with tears welling up in her eyes.

Moeka nodded understandingly. "Kono, I am incredibly sorry for your loss. But, I got to ask you a question. Was there a saying that your mother would say sometimes?" She asked.

Kono blinked before nodding. "Yes, should always say "Give aid to those who need it and be proactive to prevent others from needing aid." now after saying that phrase I feel like an idiot." She said her expression dropping.

"Something tells me that if your mother was in your current position she would have accepted our new task whole heartedly. We got to help the Americans and Australians prevent Australia from falling. We just got to, otherwise who knows how many could die from shortages." Moeka said with a smile.

"Agreed, let's." Kono said.

"Still, you ever need help with something like this. Don't be afraid to let us know, remember a ship crew is a family. We go through everything together." Moeka replied honestly, putting a reassuring hand on Kono's shoulder.

Kono nodded in understanding.


Sametime, Guadalcanal

Jackson Field

General Vandergrift sighed as he stepped off the LVTP-5 and onto solid ground for the first time. One of the first things he saw was that someone had put a wooden sign into the ground that said "Welcome to Jackson Field". He went over the tally again in his head, a small force of forty-one enemy combatants had remained behind in an attempt to prevent the air strip from being captured. The total right now for enemy forces was twenty-seven dead, twelve wounded in some way, and two who weren't wounded but had surrendered.

For friendly forces, it was three dead and twelve injured. While a normal USMC CO would be extremely happy with this result. In this case he wasn't, three young lives ended before they should've been. One had been lost while clearing what appeared to be the headquarters building of the air strip and the other two had been lost storming one of the pilot barrack buildings.

"General, sir!" a 2nd Semester Senior greeted with a nod.

"Ah Crenshaw. What's up son?" Vandergrift asked.

"We've identified several different weapons that the enemy is using sir. With respect you need to see them." The senior, David Crenshaw said.

"Why is that?" Vandergrift asked confused.

"They look an awful lot like weapons that new Netherland based company is producing. Either they somehow stole the designs or they gave them a license to manufacture. It's unnerving actually, mainly because they've been at the forefront of weapons development for a couple of years now and then finding out that the bad guys have some of their weapons? Well, I am pretty sure you get my drift, sir." David said with a frown; he was also one of the few who held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was in charge of one of the five regiments the United States Marine Corps Junior Academy Hollywood had deployed here.

"You mean Quicksilver Industries? I've heard about them, but not so sure about what makes their weapons so advanced." Vandergrift told him still slightly confused.

"Part of the reason that Quicksilver Industries is at the forefront of weapons development, is because well, they've solved the feeding problems that helical magazines sometimes have, figured out how to make for firearm production three-dimensional printing viable in terms of producing quality firearms, discovered how to build polymer barrels that will last almost as long as metal gun barrels, and most notably, their Mako Modular Combat Rifle was the first modular firearm that could in the field, have it's barrel changed out in a flash within just a few seconds, going from a SAW to a PDW in a flash and when combined with the ammunition that it fires, 6.8x45mm it's just incredibly lethal." David replied looking dour.

"Right, alright show me what you got." Vandergrift replied and David nodded before leading the general to where a makeshift table made from two crates and a plank of wood was. Laying on said makeshift table was several weapons of varying types, there was a pistol, a Personal Defense Weapon, what appeared to be a Carbine or maybe an Assault Rifle, another Assault Rifle, a Battle Rifle, a Sniper Rifle, and a Light Machine Gun.

The pistol well, it appeared to have an internal hammer, could be modified for either the right handed and left handed shooter to use relatively easily, the magazine was laying next to the pistol, next to that was a pistol round, bottom rails for laser sights or whatever else you may need, however he couldn't tell if it was a single-action or double-action pistol. Sitting beside the magazine was a single bullet, Vandergrift picked it up and examined it, he found to his shock that it was a 5.45mm pistol round, however something was different about it; that's when he realized that technically this was a wildcat cartridge, the case itself was clearly too long for it to be a 5.45x18mm round. The more he looked at the case, the more he realized that it had probably started life as a 7.62x25mm pistol round case before being necked down to accept the 5.45mm round. That meant this round was clearly inspired by 5.7x28mm round that FN Herstal manufactured. It could probably punch straight through lightweight body armor with ease.

"Damn, that's a nasty pistol." Vandegrift said.

"It sure is sir. I put a few rounds through one, it's incredibly smooth. Real easy trigger pull and well balanced as well." A Japanese student said nodding. Vandergrift looked at his nametag on his uniform, it read: Iwai Anzai.

Vandergrift moved down the table to the Personal Defense Weapon or PDW for short. It was an interesting weapon in terms of design, that was for sure and it obviously drew inspiration in terms of design from the FN Herstal P90 PDW. But it didn't have a horizontal magazine, instead it was positioned where you would find a traditional magazine in a bullpup weapon, behind the trigger. Another thing that caught his eye was the fact that the trigger was that the magazine was a helical magazine. It also had a built-in holographic sight instead of iron sights and had a tactical rail-system in-case one decided to replace the holographic sight with something like a red dot sight. And. "Is that a laser-aiming module?" Vandergrift asked amazed at seeing something in such a compact weapon and built-in no less!

"Near as we can wager it is, sir. Another thing, we've estimated that the helical magazine can contain upwards of forty to fifty rounds of ammunition. It's chambered in the same round as the Pistol is. I can imagine that this thing would be rather scary to fight against in close-quarters." Iwai said, looking at the thing.

"I can most certainly agree. Have you put a few rounds through this thing?" Vandergrift asked.

"Yessir I have. I'd reckon that it's rate of fire on full automatic is likely around 600 rounds per minute give or take roughly fifty rounds. Has recoil similar to a P90 more than likely, certainly a stable platform." Iwai said and Vandergrift nodded.

Vandergrift then moved to what he thought was an assault rifle. "Is this an Assault Rifle?" He asked, confused at seeing weapon almost the exact same size sitting next to it.

"No sir, this is a shotgun. It clearly draws aspects from both the AK and AR series of weapons. With the guts of the weapon clearly being drawn from the AK-series of weapons, but this thing has an AR-15 stock and foregrip, as well as a AK type charging handle that functions similar to an AR-15's bolt-stop and dust cover, locking the bolt back when the last round is fired as well as the dust cover. It has fiber optic iron sights on it, personally sir. This thing scared me, particularly when you realize that it's standard magazine is sixteen rounds of twelve gauge, which considering it has a slug barrel means even buckshot is nasty from this monster. It can't go full automatic thank god. As for putting rounds through it, well nice clean trigger pull and a metric ton of recoil, it's a shotgun after all." Iwai replied, looking at thing and picking up a shotgun shell.

"Great, I bet that's the reason why we lost a man clearing out the headquarters building." Vandergrift mumbled.

"No sir, that wasn't because of one of these monsters. Instead it was thanks to a goddamned KS-23M pump-action shotgun. The thing just laughed at Jackson's armor and put a slug right through his vest." Iwai said with a shudder and Vandergrift nodded in understanding. Wounds from shotgun slugs were never pretty.

"What do we got for an Assault Rifle?" Vandergrift asked, after moving down the table to it.

"A real lethal bastard, that's what." Iwai replied as Vandergrift picked the weapon up. It looked an awful lot like a IWI Tavor 21 that the Israeli Armed Forces used right down to magazine shape and placement, but it appeared to be more balanced, it also had a plastic connector, which connected the foregrip to the bottom of the magazine well. The weapon also appeared to use a large amount of polymer in it's construction and when Vandergrift glanced down the barrel, found that it used a chrome-lined polygonal rifled barrel. The primary sights were an open red dot sight, but it had polarized filter which while strange it worked wonderfully. It also had a nice little built in flash hider which also probably doubled as a silencer.

"What is it chambered in?" Vandergrift asked, but he already had a feeling that he knew what this monster was chambered in.

"It's chambered in 7.62x39mm, very nasty. Sounds a hell of a lot different from our stuff. The magazines contain thirty-five rounds each and we estimate that this design of assault rifle can fire at least eight hundred rounds per minute. It's a nasty piece of work sir." Iwai said, as Vandergrift set the powerful beast down.

Moving on, Vandergrift then hefted the Sniper Rifle, it was rather lethal looking. "Jesus." he breathed.

"Exactly sir, that monster has an absolutely silk-smooth straight-pull bolt, a free-floating barrel, plus it combines aspects from the TAC-50 and PTRD-41. Some of it's design aspects are from the TAC-50, but the caliber of round is from the PTRD-41, plus it has one hell of a nice electronic-seven power scope. This monster fires SLAP 14.5x114mm rounds, with that light-armor-penetrator being made out of Tungsten Carbide and the sabot is made out of aluminum. We reckon that this will punch right through our body armor, with tactical trauma plates up to a range of fifteen hundred meters, hell this beast maybe the exact reason why so many of our light-weight vehicles in China and Taiwan are getting knocked out, this sucker could likely kill an engine with one shot." Iwai said with a grimace.

"Great, that's just perfect then is it?" Vandergrift said putting the weapon in question back on the table.

"Yeah, anyway here's the battle rifle." Iwai said, hoisting the thing up.

Vandergrift whistled at the sight of it. It had a design that was similar to the assault rifle, but the magazine release wasn't a button but instead a switch. It had an AR-15 style dust cover and a M249 style charging handle, it didn't use curved magazines but instead used straight detachable box magazines. It had a bulkier feel and appearance to it overall, from the looks of it had an adjustable stock, this one came with a foregrip for better control. "What is it chambered in?" Vandergrift asked curiously.

"7.62x54mm, it's clearly a variant of 7.62x54mmR, but this one is a rimless round, probably for easier feeding. But regardless it's a monstrously powerful beast, we'd reckon that it has a rate of fire of around 600 rounds per minute. We also think that this thing can handle under-barrels and the same goes for the Assault Rifle and probably the shotgun as well." Iwai replied and Vandergrift paled noticeably, this wasn't good news at all.

"Exactly, anyway last monster that we got to deal with is this brute of an LMG." Iwai said hefting it.

Truth be told, the LMG looked incredibly powerful, a long twenty-one inch barrel, multiple tactical rails, the same type of red dot sight that was on the AR, a helical magazine, a bipod, an adjustable stock, backup forward iron sights, a laser aiming module, it also had a slim look to it. It was a brutal looking beast.

"Well that's something nasty, I can tell you that." Vandergrift said.

Suddenly a Marine came running up, a look on her face that said "We've found something we weren't expecting!", she skidded to a halt near Vandergrift. "Sir! You better come with me to the hangers, you're not going to believe what we found!" she said breathlessly.

"What is it?" Vandergrift asked in a confused tone.

"Sir, in the hangers, we've found planes!" The marine said and Vandergrift's eyes widened in shock.

Planes on the Kraken Airstrip now known as Jackson Field, the enemy must've really been close to launching operations. This was huge and could be a godsend for launching air operations.


0130 Hours, February 5th, 2020

Somewhere over the Sealark Channel

"Jolly Leader, why the hell are we out here? I mean, we didn't even get to help Fighting Six clobber those enemy pursuit crates and we got a second mission redirect order! Just what is going on?" Jolly Five asked bitterly.

"Jolly Five, let me tell you something. Considering that the joint expedition is off and now we are on a wartime footing. Which means we are supposed to be keeping an eye out for hostiles." Jolly Leader, one Wild Bill Kesso growled in response.

"I know sir. But come on, this is just so incredibly boring!" Jolly Five snapped in response.

"Oh shut-up Jolly Five. It's absolutely beautiful flying weather today. Besides Fighting Six absolutely rocked our foes. If they managed to do that to enemy fighters, then we can easily take the enemy!" Jolly Six said cheerfully.

"Jolly Six, the reason that Fighting Six absolutely stomped that enemy squadron was because they had a ten thousand foot altitude advantage. At most we're likely to have only a three-thousand foot altitude advantage here. Besides you heard what Magic said, the velocity profile of the group we're intercepting has bombers. So stay on your toes." Jolly Seven chirped.

"Please, from what I've seen in news reports. Those bombers don't appear to have any defensive arms. So it should be a turkey shoot." Jolly Three said with a laugh.

"Shut it Jolly Three, what if the bombers we are intercepting are those new ones? Those do have visible defensive arms and while they may not be much, milspec armor-piercing rounds will screw our bullet-proof glass over in just a couple of hits. So be mindful of that." Wild Bill said bluntly.

"Yessir." Jolly Three reported dully.

"Good." Wild Bill replied. "Magic, this is Jolly Leader, requesting bogey dope!"

"Affirmative Wild Bill, enemy strike package is at Angels Twenty-seven and starting to descend. Bearing 320, eight miles." Magic said in a monotone voice.

"Thanks Magic, enemy at Angel twenty-seven and starting to descend. Bearing 320, eight miles. Alright, let's get ready to introduce ourselves Jolly Rogers!" Wild Bill said and he grinned at the replies he got.

The sixteen Bearcats of the Jolly Rogers were painted just like all of the other Bearcats, but their identifying logo was different; proudly painted on the engine cowling was a black skull and crossbones and of course Wild Bill had gone a step further, the vertical stabilizer on his plane was painted pitch black with a larger skull and crossbones on it.

The paint scheme was strictly non regulation and would have to go, but Wild Bill as well as the rest of the squadron loved the vertical stabilizer paint design. It looked absolutely badass and was very distinctive. However the reason that it would have to go was because of the fact that it was so distinctive and well highly visible. Not that the Jolly Rogers minded, it was clearcut and helped them identify their squadron leader's crate.

"Hey boss, aren't you thinking of some other changes to your paint scheme on your fighter?" Jolly Twelve asked.

"I actually am, the paint scheme will involve white, black, and gold. It should be quite distinctive. Hell, the paint job that's on the vertical stabilizer looks badass as hell on my fighter, it will probably look good on every crate in the Jolly Rogers. I think we should get started immediately when we return to the Big E. After repairing battle damage that is, besides we need something that would really distinguish our fighters from the rest." Wild Bill replied in a casual tone.

"Isn't the small black flag with the white skull and crossbones on the engine cowling distinctive enough?" Jolly Ten asked in a confused tone.

"It is Jolly Ten, but I want something that at a distance can easily identify our planes. Thus helping with friend or foe identification." Wild Bill replied smartly.

"Right, wait a minute. I got something Jolly Leader, ten o'clock low." Jolly Three replied in a calm tone.

Wild Bill for one was grateful that the new system for spotting enemy craft had been implemented. It helped by making communications short, clear, and to the point.

Still, as he peered over his engine cowling and looked in the indicated direction. He spotted shapes, the silver bodies of big twin-engined aircraft with smaller olive green single-engined aircraft. As far as he knew, they didn't have any twin-engined aircraft. It could mean only one thing, they had found enemy strike force.

"Tallyho! Enemy bombers escorted by fighters! Estimate angels 26, Jolly squadron, drop tanks and engage!" Wild Bill barked, before switching to his internal fuel and punching the release for his centerline external fuel tank. With a loud thunk the 500 gallon centerline external fuel tank fell away from his plane. He then waggled his wings and winged over.

The rest of Jolly Squadron did the same, following their squadron leader into the fray. "Jolly 1, engage." Magic reported as the Jolly Rogers engaged, with each squadron member calling out as they engaged the enemy.

*BGM: AC5 OST Supercircus*

Before long the sky was simply filled with tracers and planes flying in every direction.

"Damnit! So many of them!" Jolly twelve growled angrily as he went into a scissors with an enemy fighter.

"Well, here's our welcoming committee." A bomber pilot growled as the defensive arms on the bombers began to thunder.

"Scratch one fighter!" Jolly Three whooped as he succeeded in splashing an enemy plane. The last time Wild Bill caught a glimpse of that enemy fighter it was rapidly losing altitude, thick white smoke billowing from it's engine.

"Good kill!" Jolly Five exclaimed.

"I am hit! I am on fire! Mayday! Mayday!" Jolly Seven screamed as his Bearcat dropped like a rock. Flames licking out of the engine cowling.

"Bail out Jolly Seven! Get out of it!" Jolly Six shouted in alarm.

Wild Bill in the meantime came in on one of the twin-engined bombers. The top mounted machine guns spat fire at the Bearcat. In an effort to avoid the defensive fire he applied left rudder, effectively hitting brakes while also changing direction. It threw the aim of the enemy gunner off, tracers flew right past Wild Bill's windscreen. Cursing he swung his crate around and brought the crosshairs onto his foe and then he pulled the trigger.

The Bearcat's wings unleashed a tongue of flame several feet long as the six M2 Brownings bellowed their anger. Tracers slashed forth and began to riddle the enemy bomber, with a violent lurch, part of the wing was ripped away. Moments later the engine erupted into flames, thick black smoke billowed from it and the bomber entered a death spiral.

"Damnit, one of our bombers just went down!" A bomber pilot cursed as the plane that Wild Bill had just shot down plunged from the sky. Small forms leaped from the craft, circular parachutes deploying.

"Nice kill boss!" Jolly Five cheered.

"Lookout Jolly Three! You got two Kraks diving on you!" Jolly Four shouted.

"Shit!" Jolly Three shouted as she turned into them. Barely succeeding in throwing the aim of the enemy fighters off. She reversed her turn and went after them.

"I got a hole in my left wing!" Jolly Nine growled angrily as she went into a barrel roll in order to get her pursuer in front of her. With the hunter now suddenly the hunted. The enemy flier panicked, Jolly Nine's browning's just ripped the enemy plane apart. "Gotcha ya!"

"I am hit! I am hit!" Jolly Thirteen screamed in a panicked voice.

"Bailout! Bailout!" Wild Bill yelled in alarm as he spotted Jolly Thirteen's craft.

It was on fire and out of control. However the next words from Jolly Thirteen's mouth stunned them all. "The canopy is jammed! It won't open! I can't get out!" Jolly Thirteen yelled in terror.

"No! Windstorm, I don't care if you have to shoot your canopy open! Get out of that crate!" Jolly Two shouted in alarm.

"I can't! I don't carry a pistol on me when I am flying! I didn't know we were switching to a war time standing today!" Windstorm replied.

No, goddamnit! Wild Bill thought morbidly as he watched Jolly Thirteen's crate drop from the sky. When it slammed into the water, the Bearcat simply broke apart on impact.

That made Wild Bill angry, very angry. "Jolly Squadron? Kill them all." he ordered.

And then the Jolly Rogers tore into the enemy formation with incredible ferociousness. By the time it was over, the Jolly Rogers were going to be known by their nickname that they received that day: "The Skull Demons".


0350 Hours, February 5th, 2020

Somewhere in the Sealark Channel

Her hull cut purposefully through the water, this ship was by far the most unique looking ship in the entire Junior Naval Academy Force that was here at Guadalcanal.

She was 809 feet six inches long overall, with a width of 108 feet eleven inches overall, she had a beam of 83 feet two inches, at full load she drew 27 feet eleven inches of water, she was 143 feet tall overall, and at full load she displaced 28,500 tons. Her broad flat deck for launching her planes was made of thick and durable planks of North Washington Pine, towards the stern were five steel cables each three-quarters of an inch thick, roughly amidships on the portside was a small superstructure which also contained the funnel, for defensive armament she was armed with eight 5in/38 caliber Dual Purpose guns, twenty-four 40mm/L70 Bofors guns in quadruple mounts, one 1.1in quadruple mount, and thirty-eight 20mm/L70 Oerlikon guns.

Her hull shared the same paint scheme that the other American ships had, but her flight deck was stained Navy Blue. But unlike the other ships in the formations, her identification number wasn't on her hull, but instead was on her flight deck. That number was stained black and it was a number "6". The ship's transom on the storm read Enterprise.

The Enterprise was simply put, a fighting city of steel. With six squadrons of planes each composed of either sixteen Resolutes or Bearcats, she carried a large number of planes. Out of all the Junior Navy Academy ships, herself and her three sisters were tied for 2nd place in terms of the largest crews, with a crew of six-hundred fifty. The only two ships that had bigger crews were the Saratoga sisters with a seven hundred fifty strong crew.

Standing on one of the bridge wings was the CO and Class President, Alexander Fletcher, his grandfather Frank Fletcher had commanded the Enterprise during WWII. It seemed fitting that he was now commanding her.

"Captain?" A voice asked. Alexander glanced to his left and saw that a member of the aviation division was also on the bridge wing.

"Yes?" he asked.

"I got the latest report from CIC. The Jolly Rogers have engaged and destroyed the near entirety of Raid-1. Eight crates lost, one KIA, and three WIA; according to Wild Bill." She said.

Alexander cursed under his breath. Fourteen planes lost, all of them Bearcats had been destroyed outright by enemy fire, three more in Fighting Six were simply write-offs, with another five damaged in some way. Now there was bound to be more planes that were simply going to be write-offs due to battle damage; as it stood though they were down seventeen planes or just over a full squadron.

"Scramble Nomad and Sea Goblin. Tell them it's a CSAR operation, prioritize rescuing our guys but if possible they are to rescue enemy aviators. After those operations are done, I want to pull the Enterprise out of the theater, we are in need of a replacement pilot and replacement planes, plus additional planes in storage crates so we can replenish losses easier. I got to talk to the Admiral about it." Alexander said and the young aid nodded in response, saluted and then left.

When Alexander walked up to the hatch that led to the Admiral's office. He took a deep breath. He knew what was right for his ship and crew. Question was, how the hell would they be able to convince Crutchley to let the Enterprise go. Then he figured out, they could insist that they need to leave the battle area for resupply, which was technically true. They did need replacement planes and more spare parts.

Sighing he knocked on the hatch. "Come."

Alexander stepped through the hatch. "Admiral Winchester, I got some bad news." he said.

"What is it son?" Admiral Jackson Winchester asked in response. At fifty-nine years of age, Admiral Jackson Winchester was surprisingly still an energetic soul, capable of during morning PT, giving the Marine compliment the run around.

"Latest report from the Jolly Rogers has come in." Alexander said.

"Oh? How does it look?" Jackson asked.

"Not good, the Jolly Rogers forced the enemy attack wave to turn back. But they lost seven planes in the process and suffered a single KIA. They also got several WIA, we will probably have to write several more planes off due to battle damage. As it stands we're down over an entire squadron. We need replacement aeroplanes, additional spare parts, etc. Personally, sir I think we need to pull the Enterprise out. Give us a chance to replace our losses." Alexander said with a sigh.

"I can imagine. Problem is, how the hell do we convince Crutchley to let us go?" Jackson asked in a worried tone.

"I was thinking about that. What if we tell Crutchley that we are in need of resupply. It's not exactly a lie after all. We need more planes, additional ammunition, food, water, Coca-Cola, etc. I mean we are on a wartime footing now after all which means we need full stocks of ordinance and we need to get rid of a portion of the training crap and need to get more live ordinance. Linoleum flooring and decorative wood-paneling needs to be removed as well." Alexander said with a smile.

"That would most certainly work. Besides it is true." Jackson replied.

"Sooner we can get the Enterprise and her task group ready for war the better off we will be." Alexander agreed.

Thus it was decided that by the evening of the fifth the USS Enterprise and her escorts we to pull out. Considering what happened on the night of February 6th, it was by far a good thing.


AN: Those familiar with history know where this is going. The United States Navy Junior Academy and the Royal Australian Junior Navy Academy are in for one hell of a brutal beatdown at the hands of the Kraken Navy.

See it unfold in the next chapter: Nocte irae